sabotabby: (teacher lady)
 Remember when Drug Fraud chops the education budget and fires teachers that there was enough money around for him to hire one of his friends, a failed Conservative candidate, at $140,000 year to chair a completely useless organization—a job that was previously done on a part time basis for about $5000 a year. Let's hear it for the job creators!

(Caveat: Link goes to a partisan website; nonetheless, it's easily fact-checked.)

Remember when they talk about everyone making sacrifices and tightening their belts, they are not talking about themselves or anyone in their tax bracket.
sabotabby: picture of M'Baku from Black Panther, "Just kidding, we're vegetarians." (m'baku)
Miss Lynx is having a princess party because we're grownups and we can do things like that now, so I baked a ridonkulous cake. I want to post it to FB but I don't want her to see it yet, and while she has a DW, she never checks it, so I think I am safe posting it here.

It is not as structurally sound as I want it to be, on account of I thought I would use good jam that was tasty, rather than cheap-ass jam, but it turns out the cheap jam does a much better job of holding cake together. Oh well. Fondant covers a multitude of sins. I'd like to get a bit faster with sculpting so that I can get a better face without worrying that it will dry out, but not bad for a first attempt at a person-cake?

oh and if you are misslynx, don't click this yet )
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
 Fiction

1. An Enchantment of Ravens, Margaret Rogerson
2. The Fuller Memorandum, Charles Stross
3. The Apocalypse Codex, Charles Stross
4. The Rhesus Chart, Charles Stross
5. Go Tell It On the Mountain, James Baldwin
6. How Long 'til Black Future Month, N.K. Jemisin

Non-Fiction

1. Digital Citizenship In Action: Empowering Students To Engage In Online Communities, Kristen Mattson
2. Willing Slaves of Capital: Spinoza and Marx on Desire, Frédéric Lordon
sabotabby: swift wind from she-ra (swift wind)
Like most of the country (or at least the part of the country that's been snowed in and thus reading the news as it updates), I'm pretty fascinated by the Puglaas-Trudeau-SNC Lavalin story. It's...complicated. Puglaas, a.k.a. Jody Wilson-Raybould, the former federal Justice Minister who Trudeau booted down to Veterans' Affairs a few weeks ago, resigned from cabinet today after a rather strong implication that she was being pressured by the PMO to abandon a prosecution against SNC-Lavalin. SNC Lavalin gets a lot of government contracts, employs 8,500 Canadians, and the RCMP is charging them with corruption and fraud after they (cough*allegedly*cough) tried to bribe officials in Libya, including Gadhafi. If convicted, the company can't bid on federal contracts for ten years, and current projects might be jeopardized, so it makes sense that Trudeau might want to quietly make those charges against his buddies go away.

Oh, except that's horribly corrupt, WTF. And as the attorney-general, Wilson-Raybould seems to not have felt comfortable doing this and said so, and thus was demoted to a less prestigious portfolio.

Then she resigned with this masterfully loaded letter, signing it with her indigenous name, Puglaas. There's quite a bit of nuance there and no one is really sure what she's up to, but it does not seem as though the bombshells are going to stop dropping any time soon.

It should be said that she is not some noble whistleblower and a number of indigenous activists have spoken out about various shitty things she did in Justice. And this could go very badly, since as bad as Prince Justin is, Scheer is infinitely worse and Singh just doesn't seem to want to be PM enough to actually fight for it.

Anyway. Popcorn. Also soliciting opinions and theories.

*

Closer to home, Drug Fraud managed to do another sneaky in education. The EQAO is our massively fucked up series of standardized tests, given in grades 3,6, 9, and 10. These tests are a massive waste of teachers' and students' time, don't measure what they are supposed to measure, are riddled with errors, and are a needless expense when school boards are strapped for cash. 

The EQAO is a weird balance, because like all standardized tests, it has no pedagogical value, but it has immense political value. See, the test scores must not be too low, or Ontario students are underachieving. But it cannot be too high, or the test is too easy. Students must score approximately 75% to pass (contrary to what Ford believes), but the actual score to pass changes every year and no one gets told what it is until after the test. But to prove that our school system is improving, average test scores must rise over time. If you understand math better than a politician, you'll see the numerical constraint at work.

Traditionally, visuals such as posters, anchor charts, word walls, formulas, and so on, have to get taken down when the kids write the test so that they can't "cheat." But this year, they've changed it, allowing a lot of material that would be helpful to a student writing the test. I wonder why?

Well, I am against having the test at all. And if kids do need to write the test, having helpful material on the walls is probably a good thing, since in the real world you can look stuff up, as this isn't the bloody 19th century. But it's obvious that students writing under the new conditions, with classroom visual aids, have an advantage over students writing under last year's conditions, with no classroom visual aids. So everything else being equal, students this year should score, on average, higher than students last year.

LOOK, THE TORIES FIXED EDUCATION.

Head. Desk.

*

Finally, as proof that we live in the strangest possible timeline, I offer you two more links to consider.

The first is that FOX News guy who says that he never washes his hands because "germs aren't real." Now, I know that "FOX News host says something stupid" isn't exactly headline news, but you have to marvel at someone being so backwards that the germ theory of disease, initially proposed in the 1500s and proven conclusively in the 1800s, made absolutely no impact on his worldview. I'm actually boggling that this guy is walking around, not having somehow given himself cholera from eating his own poo.

These are the kinds of people who have the ear of the giant toddler with his finger on the big red button.

He doesn't. Wash. His. Hands.

Da fuck.

But I'll leave you on a happier note, because the strangest timeline isn't always one completely lacking in hope. Comrade Cher has called for a general strike on Twitter. Lead us, O Goddess of Pop, to the new world built from the ashes of the old! I believe (in life after love).
sabotabby: (furiosa)
Following its grand tradition of throwing every bad idea possible at the wall and seeing what sticks, the Tories apparently considered cancelling "sex ed"* altogether.

“There would be no mandatory learning of the following topics: consent, sexting, homophobia, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression,” Mr. Beckett and Mr. Giguère wrote to Ms. Thompson on July 25. “Utilizing the curriculum last taught in 2014, with 1998 sexual health learning expectations, could be perceived by the public as outdated and not serving the needs of today’s students.”

NO SHIT

IT WAS OUTDATED

THAT'S WHY THEY REPLACED IT

So why not just not talk about it that will totally make gay people go away because there were never gay people before we started talking about gay people

lenin facepalm


P.S. Being transgender isn't a sexual orientation. Fuck right off.


* The word you are looking for, Darling Goatfucker and Friends, is "heath curriculum." Sex is part of that, not all of it.
sabotabby: (furiosa)
 Doug Ford apparently takes time in his busy schedule of dismantling all forms of civilization in Ontario and procuring off-the-books RVs to meet with LobsterBoi. (God, I love FOI requests; everyone should know how to make them.) The subject may have had to do with abolishing the Ontario Human Rights Commission so that he can continue abolishing human rights without the threat of someone telling him to not do that, accompanied by a stern glare.

P.S. Like father, like daughter. Kyla Ford is also an illegal drug dealer; wonder if Daddy will whip out his OPP goon squad to arrest her.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
I actually had a really good day today for unrelated reasons, but whenever I'm having a bad one, I will remember the image of Roger Stone, who has a Nixon tattoo on his back, being perp-walked out of his house after a raid by furloughed FBI agents, who eagerly volunteered to do it for free*, in his PJs.

It is 2019 and this sentence makes sense.

* Even evil has standards.
sabotabby: (teacher lady)
I am officially recognizing myself as interim Ontario Minister of Education. Lisa Thompson lacks the required experience and understanding of the position and is therefore illegitimate, and the office therefore vacant.
sabotabby: (furiosa)
 Today, some of the many things that outraged me:

Venezuela had a coup, which is not too surprising given how things were heading there. Now, Maduro is an asshat, to be sure, but he is an elected asshat (albeit in sketchy circumstances, but no sketchier than the US electoral college). What is shameful here is that Canada is among the countries following America's lead and recognizing the un-elected opposition over the elected government. Sure, it's not going to actually change facts on the ground because it's not like we could have stopped the US doing a coup in Latin America—that's kind of what they do—but you don't need to encourage that sort of behaviour.

After a stacked vote that nevertheless narrowly affirmed Pride's ban on paid, uniformed cops marching in the parade, confirmed heterosexual John Tory decided to opine anyway. Why the straightest walking sweater vest to ever exclusively be attracted to women gets to speak publicly about who marches in Pride is probably a question best left to Pride sponsor TD Bank, I guess.

Finally, closer to home, our loathsome regime, having destroyed student unions in a test case to see if they could ban unions altogether, is now talking about eliminating the already ridiculously high class caps on kindergarten and primary school classes. Small people can be stacked horizontally to fit more of them in a room.
sabotabby: (possums)
Screw the Jordan Peterson/Slavoj Zizek debate*; I want to see Marie Kondo take Lobsterboi to task for telling other people to clean his room but never cleaning his own. Odds are, he cries.





* which is never going to happen; I have waited over a year and I am losing hope.
sabotabby: (teacher lady)
 That's not true, exactly. Like most drug dealers and casino owners, they are good at the sort of math that lines their own pockets and screws everyone else.

For example, yesterday, they "leaked" the good news story that they were cutting tuition fees by an oh-so-generous 10%. Note that this didn't come with any kind of increase to post-secondary spending, meaning the institutions were responsible for finding the savings themselves. By now we all know what that means: larger classes, more reliance on contract faculty and TAs instead of tenure-track profs. The students and profs I knew received the news coolly, knowing that there would be a catch, and the axe fell today: an overhaul to the Ontario Student Assistance Plan, which effectively cut free tuition for families earning less than $50,000.

Because that's not sadistic enough, yesterday was the deadline for university applications. All kinds of kids applied for university—which, they are told repeatedly, is their only shot at upward mobility, or at least being able to put food on the table—thinking that tuition wouldn't be a problem. A lot of them are poor. Ford just fucked all of those kids over. Some of them are my students, who will now not be able to go to university, or will end up being horribly in debt, because Ford is determined to destroy anything resembling accessible, quality education in this province.

While he's at it, he's also recently:

Waiting for the next election isn't enough; we need to be pushing back hard, now, in an organized manner. I'll keep posting about upcoming actions, but in the meantime, take two seconds to sign a completely useless petition, okay?

zeitgeist

Jan. 15th, 2019 06:11 pm
sabotabby: (doom doom doom)
 I get sick and swamped at work and now everyone is freaking out about Big Macs, Gillette razors, and Marie Kondo.

Meanwhile I know if I were 10% more conscious I could make a thousand posts about Brexit.

It's 2019 and this post makes sense.
sabotabby: (furiosa)
I don't think it can be stated enough how little Canadian citizens and our government have learned from history.

For all Trudeau's Haida tattoo, talk of nation-to-nation relationships, and tearful apologies for the ongoing genocidal acts committed against indigenous people on this land, when it comes down to something he (or any other politician in the pockets of oil companies) really, really wants, he's entirely happy to throw communities and their environment under the bus, whether it's legal or not. In the past, I—and no doubt many others—have likened settler governments and indigenous peoples to an abusive relationship, with the abuser consistently gaslighting his victim.

Imagine, if you will, that your neighbour wishes to take a massive poo on your floor. Like any right-thinking person, you do not want this. So you tell this person that you do not, in fact, want them to shit on your floor. And then they call you a "house cleanliness extremist." If you think this scatological allegory is absurd, remember that the TransCanada pipeline is far more of a danger—not just to the Wet’suwet’en Nation, but to every single human being on this earth—than someone crapping on your hardwood.

When the government wants to wreck havoc on aboriginal sovereignty, it typically goes something like this:

Government: Hey, sorry about residential schools, that really sucked, we super respect our indigenous peoples now! Can I put a pipeline through your territory?

Indigenous people: How about no?

Government: Cool, courts. Can we put a pipeline through that nation's land over there?

Courts: No, that's actually illegal (well, sometimes, anyway).

Government: Okay, rad, we're going to do it anyway.

Indigenous people: *blockade*

Government: RCMP!! HALP!

RCMP: SMASHITY SMASH

This is currently happening, with the RCMP massing to attack people who are not just defending their homes, but the planet we all need to share. Including Elders and children. They have asked for help, whether it be financial, donations of items, or people to help defend them and shine a light on all the dirty tricks the government is getting up to there.

If the plight of humans or the threat of climate apocalypse isn't enough to move you, here is an adorable pupper who is doing her part:

49937713_517655522059080_7541215462214860800_o

Ratchet is protecting traditional territories from unscrupulous oil companies and the government they own. What are you doing?

sabotabby: (teacher lady)
I've been mulling over Steve Paikin's interview with Jonathan Haidt on his book "The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure, which has been creating a minor debate amongst my online teacher circles. It's well worth watching even if, like me, you're almost certainly going to rage out at parts. It's an interesting case of being partially right and then catastrophically wrong by what I imagine is an attempt to pad several long reads into an actual book by conflating legitimate problems with people trying to solve them.

The gist is as follows: Children today (children as defined up until the early 20s, for reasons) are more anxious and fragile these days because we've sheltered them from the sorts of experiences that make them tougher. This, I agree with to a point. But it merits some unpacking: What is fragility, exactly? Is it a request for trigger warnings when encountering a depiction of violent rape in a classroom reading? Is it a protest against a transphobic speaker who has been known to publicly out trans students and target them for relentless harassment? Is it complaining online that your professors have a "liberal bias"? A male gamer's fear that feminism is taking over video games? Is it a cis person's abject terror at the thought of using the same washroom as a trans person, or a white person's unwillingness to share a water fountain or a swimming pool with a black person? I would argue that fragility has always existed in some form or another, but certain types of fragility have, traditionally, been coddled more than others, and only some are termed as such.

Then there's the question of whether kids today (and younger adults; I have a plug-in that automatically corrects all instances of "Millennials" to "Snake People," which spares me a lot of silliness in thinkpieces) are less resilient, to which I'd say yes, but with some reservations. Are the students who I teach now more anxious than those I taught a decade ago? Yes, but I teach a very different demographic so it's hard to say for certain. Were the students I taught a decade ago more anxious than I was as a teenager? Yes, which is  a m a z i n g  as I'm a pretty anxious person now. But I can't imagine say, being anxious enough to miss months of school, knowing full well I'll fail, or not handing any work in not because I'm not capable of doing it but because my terror at this task is so overwhelming that I can't force myself to do it. But my experience is, while likely more varied than Haidt's, still quite limited, so I'm willing to listen to arguments on either side.

So, assuming that kids today are more anxious and fragile, what caused this? Haidt correctly points to overscheduling and helicopter parenting as a cause, and suggests that there are economic factors at work. So, yes, I agree that this is a problem, and it's at least a problem up to high school and based on what my friends who teach in post-secondary are saying, still a problem in college and university. But the social and economic factors at work are fairly clear here. In a shit economy where one's best chance at a decent living is post-secondary, optimizing education for post-secondary is a survival strategy. If that means that five-year-old Madison needs to be shuffled back and forth to Mandarin lessons, ballet, and hockey practice and is left with no unstructured play time  in order to be competitive in a neoliberal institutional framework, her parents are going to make those sacrifices, because if they're the one family that doesn't, little Madison is fucking screwed. Where my first divergence from Haidt happens is that what about those kids whose parents can't afford those lessons? If his argument is correct, then the kids of single moms who have to work three fast-food jobs to afford an apartment in a food desert should be having better life outcomes and less anxiety than the Park Slope kids. But of course they don't, because in both cases, the root of anxiety is economic insecurity, reinforced by race and class.

But moving on to high school, I see some evidence of moral dependency in which teachers and school administrators are absolutely complicit, but also trapped by the litigious nature of education. To use a neutral example, if my nerd friends and I wanted to play D&D at lunch, we'd just do that. We didn't need an official club or teacher supervision; we set up in the cafeteria or locker bay and did our thing. If we wanted to engage in political activism—well, we did have some clubs for that, but we primarily ran them ourselves, and they certainly weren't organized franchises like Free the Children or Me to We, complete with a binder outlining activities that the teacher could organize for us. I hardly need to tell you that this is no longer the case. I definitely see a failure to self-organize amongst my students, a focus on extracurricular activities for application-padding rather than interest, and difficulty with self-advocacy. I tend to see young people as overly dependent on adults—in my day, we were concerned about privacy, we snuck into clubs, we didn't tend to get drunk or high with our parents. This isn't all healthy behaviour, to be sure, but it did foster independence in the way that allowing children to fall off playground equipment is probably, long-run, good for them.

The other example that I can think of is in assigned readings. Several years ago, some Very Smart People declared that there was a Serious Crisis in boys' literacy. Boys weren't reading, oh no! The solution was at first to provide more graphic novels in English class (which is quite foolish, as graphic novels tend to require more literacy skills, not fewer, to analyze) and then to ensure that no book would be read in English class that was not geared specifically to young adults as a marketing category, and featuring a male protagonist to be relatable to male students. I'm exaggerating, of course, but not by very much. The idea that boys could be made to empathize with characters unlike themselves, or that they could be pushed outside of their comfort zone, was never seriously discussed.

To a degree, I buy Haidt's assertion that if an offensive speaker is booked at a university, students who are legal adults will go to the dean about it. I'm pretty sure that happens in some places. Where I differ, again, is that the problem is that students want to be protected from language and experiences that are not politically correct. The problem is actually that they'd go to the dean rather than self-organize to no-platform the offensive speaker; appeal to authority is, in fact, how we end up with strongmen politicians. Given that I see no-platforming happening more often than appealing to the administration (because, surprise, the administration is only interested in making filthy lucre) I don't think the problem of a new, somehow more dangerous wave of political correctness is actually a thing. Also, if it is, it's almost entirely sectioned off from the real world, where people of colour and trans folks can still be safely oppressed.

Speaking of which, one of his arguments towards the end, which was an objection to "Grievance Studies" and the idea that educational institutions are teaching that educational institutions are inherently oppressive is...interesting. Given that in my lifetime, the Canadian government was still kidnapping indigenous kids to be imprisoned, tortured, raped, and experimented on in residential schools suggests that, yes, all of our institutions may in fact have rotten foundations that merit interrogation, just sayin'.

All of this is not to say that I don't think fragility is a problem; I relate hard to the link about Millennial failure-to-adult above, even though I'm not a Millennial and have been spared from many of the classic Millennial problems. But I think its causes—the fact that we have less than 12 years to avert apocalyptic climate change and yet instead of going after the 100 companies responsible for 71% of carbon emissions, people are actually contemplating blotting out the sun, the fundamental dystopic natures of both the gig economy and the concept of a "jobless recovery," the global rise in fascism, the much older and more insidious neoliberal commodification and atomization of all aspects of life—are more difficult to solve than simply telling snowflakes to suck up their peanut allergies or instituting University of Chicago-style free speech policies. They involve confronting a more widespread social anxiety, one with very real causes and real consequences beyond participation trophies and overly coddled kids.

sabotabby: nasa logo with the caption i need my space (nasa)
I went to the aquarium and took pictures and you have to suffer through seeing them all. Well, not really. I took over 400 and got it down to 17, which shows tremendous restraint and character growth on my part.

DSC_6342

brace yourself for tentacles )
sabotabby: (furiosa)
In case you were wondering what the fetal Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education has been up to lately, Sam Oosterhoff swatted some guy who hurt his fee-fees on Twitter.
This manchild is an elected official paid to represent the constituent whose life he endangered.

I went back to look at the tweets; Cletus the Fetus  is angry because Mr. Gill posted a public news story about how he'd attended a Christmas event with a homophobic evangelist Charles McVety, which was a thing published in every major news outlet in the province. But this government, committed to FREEZED PEACH, is apparently not so committed when it comes to criticism of their actions.
sabotabby: raccoon anarchy symbol (Default)
I don't make New Year's resolutions because I am already a delight. But I am also not the best activist I can be in these rather bleak times, and the movement, such that it is (which is to say it isn't), globally but in particular in my city, is not what it could be either.

Accordingly, here are some New Year's resolutions for all of us committed to the struggle.

1941-New-Years-card

  • Show up to other groups’ events. So you do Palestine stuff? Show up to a First Nations thing, or a Black Lives Matter thing. You’re antifa? Do some picket line support. Talk to at least one person you don’t know while you’re there.
  •  

  • Bring a new person into your movement. A relative, a friend, a co-worker, a neighbour. Make it your goal to recruit one person.
  •  

  • Organize off Facebook. Let’s build more resilient networks.
  •  

  • Think beyond the demo in particular and symbols in general. Figure out what needs to be done and which action is best suited to accomplishing a win in that scenario. No one cares if there are 1000 of us protesting in front of the US Consulate on a Saturday when it’s closed.
  •  

  • Bring back the reading group. In person. Invite someone in who is not already part of your movement.
  •  

  • More fuckin’ giant puppets because I miss them.
  •  

  • Assume good intentions when it comes to your fellow activists. Did you get called out and feel it’s unfair? Maybe the other person is right and you can learn a thing. Maybe they’re not and they just had a bad day, or were hurt by an interpretation of your words and actions based on their own history of trauma. Did someone else screw up their terminology? Assume first they don’t know and weren’t trying to be offensive. People act out of malice all the time but if you can talk it out and avoid misunderstandings, that will be better. I guarantee you will find out in like five minutes if it’s a misunderstanding or the person is actually being a dick on purpose.
  •  

  • Likewise, stop slagging off other people’s genuine efforts. We all do as much or as little as we can. No one’s politics are pure.
  •  

  • If you’re in a position of privilege, do something that makes activism more accessible to someone else. Volunteer to do childcare. Hold meetings in accessible spaces. Go out to marginalized communities rather than expecting them to come to you.
  •  

  • Spend time with someone older than you and someone younger than you, and listen to what they have to say. Old activists have experience of what's worked and what hasn't; young activists have new ideas that we should hear.
  •  

  • Bring joy back into political action. Being dour never changed anyone’s mind. Make actions creative and inspiring rather than repeating rote slogans with the same signs all the time. We’re angry and sad but that comes from a place of love and empathy; our activism should carry with it the seed of a better world.

That’s all I can think of. Feel free to add more of your own. Happy New Year, punch a Nazi, liberate a detention centre. Be fierce, be kind, and go forth and make the world a less fucked up place.
sabotabby: (books!)
Fiction

1. Kings Rising, C.S. Pacat
2, Wolf in White Van, John Darnielle
3. The Stone Sky, N.K. Jemisin
4. The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There, Catherynne M. Valente
5. The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon In Two, Catherynne M. Valente
6. Abaddon's Gate, James S. A. Corey
7. Petropolis, Anya Ulinich
8. Cibola Burn, James S. A. Corey
9. Nemesis Games, James S. A . Corey
10. Babylon's Ashes, James S. A. Corey
11. Down Among the Sticks and Bones, Seanan McGuire
12. Annabel, Kathleen Winter
13. Annihilation, Jeff VanderMeer
14. A Legacy of Spies, John LeCarré
15. It Devours, Jeffrey Cranor and Joseph Fink
16. The Man Who Spoke Snakish, Andrus Kivirähk
17. The Rook, Daniel O'Malley
18. Mongrels, Stephen Graham Jones
19. The Changeling, Victor LaValle
20. Persepolis Rising, James S. A. Corey
21. Swallows and Amazons, Arthur Ransome
22. American War, Omar El Akkad
23. Carry On, Rainbow Rowell
24. Certain Dark Things, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
25. Signal To Noise, Silvia Moreno-Garcia
26. 84K, Claire North
27. The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, Alexander McCall Smith
28. Signs Preceding the End of the World, Yuri Herrera
29. Company Town, Madeline Ashby
30. The Churn: An Expanse Novella, James S. A. Corey
31. The Marrow Thieves, Cherie Dimaline
32. The Changeling, Zilpha Keatley Snyder
33. Son Of a Trickster, Eden Robinson
34. River of Teeth, Sarah Gailey
35. Split Tooth, Tanya Tagaq
36. The People's Republic of Everything, Nick Mamatas
37. Three Parts Dead, Max Gladstone
38. The Garden, Meghan Ferrari
39. Scarborough: A Novel, Catherine Hernandez
40. 2312, Kim Stanley Robinson
41. Red Star: The First Bolshevik Utopia, Alexander Bogdanov
42. The Alienist, Caleb Carr
43. The Dying Earth, Jack Vance

Non-Fiction

1. PostCapitalism: A Guide To Our Future, Paul Mason
2. Lifelong Kindergarten: Cultivating Creativity through Projects, Passion, Peers, and Play, Mitchel Resnick
3. Debt: The First 5000 Years, David Graeber
4. Spy Princess: The Life of Noor Inayat Khan, Shrabani Basu
5. Berlin Calling: A Story of Anarchy, Music, The Wall, and the Birth of the New Berlin, Paul Hockenos
6. So You Want To Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo
7. Specters of Revolt: On the Intellect of Insurrection and Philosophy From Below, Richard Gilman-Opalsky
8. But It's So Silly: A Cross-Cultural Collage of Nonsense, Play and Poetry, JonArno Lawson
9. The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and the Man Who Brought Them Down, Colin Woodard
10. Joseph Beuys, Allan Antliff
11. Contemporary Gothic, Catherine Spooner
12. The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, Thomas King
13. The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, Michael Lewis
14. Words On Fire: The Unfinished Story of Yiddish, Dovid Katz
15. Seven Fallen Feathers: Racism, Death, and Hard Truths in a Northern City, Tanya Talaga
16. Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, Anand Giridharadas
17. Click Here To Kill Everybody: Security and Survival in a Hyper-connected World, Bruce Schneier
18. Dark Star Rising: Magick and Power in the Age of Trump, Gary Lachman
19. The Toronto Book of the Dead, Adam Bunch
20. Let's Talk Diabetes With Owls, David Sedaris

Books With Pictures In Them

1. This One Summer, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
2. Teen Titans: Earth One, Jeff Lemire, Terry Dodson
3. Night's Dominion: Vol. 1, Ted Naifeh
4. Kindred: A Graphic Novel Adaptation, Octavia E. Butler, Damian Duffy, John Jennings
5. Another Castle: Grimoire, Andrew Wheeler, Paulina Ganucheau
6. Nimona, Noelle Stevenson
7. Witch Boy, Molly Knox Ostertag
8. Briggs Land Vol. 1: State of Grace, Brian Wood
9. Newsprints, Ru Xu
10. The Adventures of Superhero Girl, Faith Erin Hicks
11. Monstress Vol. 1: Awakening, Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda

Poetry

1. Passage, Gwen Benaway
sabotabby: (magicians)
 I watch way too much TV and, unlike with books (where I keep track)  or music (where I can see what I bought over the past year on iTunes) it's harder to keep track of what I watched. Nevertheless, here is what sticks in my mind the most.

The Good Place

Among the most well-constructed shows I've ever seen. A woman dies and goes to heaven, except that she's not supposed to be there. She's not a good person. She's surrounded by people who spent their entire lives making the world a better place, but if she reveals who she is, she'll end up in the Bad Place, being tortured for all eternity. It falls to her "soulmate," an anxious moral philosophy professor, to teach her how to be a decent human so that she has a chance of earning her spot in the Good Place.

And then the show pulls the rug out from under you. And then does it again. If you're not watching it, the less you know about what happens in it, the better. The structure is amazing; it reels you in with the funny sitcom format and then subverts it, leaving you constantly unsure of the status quo. Each season has been something different, and this year's is really building towards what's basically a Talmudic argument with God, which is a plotline you really don't see in a lot of media, let alone a sitcom.

Queer Eye

I did not sign up to cry over a makeover show.

The Curious Creations of Christine McConnell

I challenge you to find a show more made for me than a goth baking show with taxidermied Muppets and a murder plot or two.

Nailed It!

This show taught me more about baking than any amount of baking classes ever could.

Doctor Who

I have very mixed feelings about Nu Who's 11th season. On the plus side, we're free of the Moff's overly convoluted plots, racism, and misogyny. I love Jodie Whittaker's Doctor. Two out of the three companions are fantastic. I like the emphasis on smaller, more personal stories. There's more diversity in both the casting and the writing room, finally. The cinematography ruled.

The storytelling, though, not so much. The best observation I saw was that Chibnall thinks he's writing for children but has never actually written for children. Most of the plots were very Point A to Point B. There was at least one truly great episode, "Demons of the Punjab," and only one really awful one, but without an overarching theme, the season felt pretty pointless, with the characters just kind of wandering around and never in any kind of real danger. Overall, really fun, though.

American Vandal

It's silly and puerile but also kind of amazing. This season has our two aspiring documentary filmmakers travelling to an elite private school to uncover who using scatological weapons of mass destruction to terrorize the staff and student body. It's great as both a satire on true crime documentaries and also a fairly realistic depiction of teenagers such that is rarely seen on TV.

The Alienist

This year's Problematic Fave, I bingewatched it in a couple days and then read the book and put a hold on the sequel. It hooked me in with the costume porn and the architecture porn, but tbh it's basically got the appeal that I think Sherlock has for a lot of fangirls. Read into that what you will. Note that it is a show with two of my biggest triggers (bad things happen to children, bad things happen to cats) and several tropes that I despise, and I still want more of it. 

Bojack Horseman

Continues to work its way up my list of the Best TV Shows Of All Time. This was a less dramatic season than previous ones, but no less heartwrenching, between Princess Caroline's attempts to have a baby, Diane's attempt to find herself, and the oh-god-so-fucking-painful exploration of Beatrice Horseman's life and (spoiler) death. As always, the experimental episode is the best, and this year's stroke of brilliance was to make me cry with an animated episode that is a single shot of a half-hour long monologue. Because it can.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

I have an ambivalent relationship to the original She-Ra, For Reasons, but the reboot is flawless. It's got the magitech, vaporwave aesthetic, it's the gayest show I've ever watched, and there's a Marxist talking alicorn. Give me more.

The City & the City

The BBC adaptation of one of my favourite books did not disappoint. Full review here.

And my favourite show of 2018 was...

The Expanse

Season 3 is the point at which the show surpasses the books, which is a hard task because as you can probably see from my book log, I've been binge-reading them and am now into the novellas, having run out of the main series. But now I'm squarely in the "show is better" camp, after a stellar (hah) season.

There's an interesting article making the rounds about hopepunk, the idea that what's needed is not more grimdark dystopias but stories that serve as guideposts towards a less crapsack future. While I take issue with some of the examples in that article falling into this category (Game of Thrones? Really?) The Expanse is definitely this. I don't want to give away what happens in the last episode but it wasn't what I was expecting based on the books/the way genre fiction is typically structured, and it came at a time when I was feeling a lot of despair (in fairness, when am I not?) with a ray of light and redemption even in the context of its typically brutal setting.

And that's it for my babbling about pop culture for the year. I should probably work on actually creating some. :)
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I don't get how people can say there's no good music anymore. Here are some things I listened to in 2018 that give me life. Janelle Monáe, Dirty Computer
Everything Janelle Monáe does is perfect and brilliant. I don't even know how to describe her music. High-concept science fiction dance music? IDK. I had only been a casual fan before though, so this release made me buy all of her other stuff as well and listen to it obsessively on repeat. 


"Run To the Hills," Tanya Tagaq and Damian Abraham
There was no new Tanya Tagaq album this year as I guess she was busy writing the best book of the year, but she and Fucked Up's Damian Abraham released this amazing cover of Iron Maiden's well-intentioned-but-kinda-problematic song and I love it.

"Ari Ari," Bloodywood
The other new track that I had on constant repeat was this metal/Bollywood mashup with a bit of rap thrown in because why not?

Tales From the Kingdom of Fife and Space 1992: The Rise of the Chaos Wizards, Gloryhammer
This is a "new to me" as opposed to a 2018 release, but I did have the SHEER DELIGHT of seeing Gloryhammer open for Alestorm this year and ended up buying all their stuff and it got me through a shitty autumn. It is relentlessly stupid fantasy-themed power metal and I cannot get enough of it. The best comment on one of their videos was "this video gave me back my virginity," Which is true.

Okay, so unlike with my previous two posts, I cannot actually pick a Best Album of 2018. It is a tie. Both are so transcendently brilliant in different ways that I can't decide. So the two best albums of 2018...

Stranger Fruit, Zeal & Ardor
Zeal & Ardor are (is? it's the one guy but he needed to start a band to actually tour this) the black metal/gospel/chain gang song fusion you didn't know you needed but absolutely did. Their debut, Devil Is Fine, blew my entire mind, and this year's follow-up somehow managed to be even better. It's layers upon layers of complex, devastating music and every time I listen to it, I hear something new.

Wolastoqiyik Lintuwakonawa, Jeremy Dutcher

This won the Polaris in 2018, and deservedly so. Jeremy Dutcher's background is in opera, and he arranged traditional songs recorded by his Wolastoq ancestors a century ago into classical compositions that are like nothing I've ever heard before. The entire album is gorgeous and uplifting and rich in history. Only 100 people speak Wolastoq today, but rather than the last gasp of a dying language, this is, as Dutcher put it, the birth of an indigenous renaissance. It's some of the most powerful and innovative music I've ever heard.

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