Wednesday Morning Open Thread: Persons of the Year

Per the Washington Post:

Journalists around the world have been targeted and assaulted for their work. Some have paid with their freedom; others have paid with their lives.

Even the president of the United States — a country that has prided itself on having freedom of the press since its founding — has repeatedly attacked the media as “the enemy of the people.” Other world leaders have echoed this aggressive stance against the media, cracking down on reporters who have tried to hold them accountable.

We are living through nothing short of a “war on truth” — but it is in such a time that “professional truth seekers” are more important than ever, Time magazine declared in its latest issue…
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Very Important Jackal Announcement

From the redoubtable, irreplaceable EFGoldman:

I’m home.

After my 90th day in various hospitals and rehabs.

Surgery in October. Some rehab, much farther to go.

No sharing, I don’t do that.

I’ve been weeping for an hour.

 
I think I speak for the Balloon Juice community: Welcome home!



Heather Heyer’s Murderer Found Guilty

A jury of seven women and five men began deliberating Friday morning and took just over seven hours to reach its decision that James Alex Fields Jr., 21, of Maumee, Ohio, acted with premeditation when he backed up his 2010 Dodge Challenger and then roared it down a narrow downtown street crowded with counterprotesters, slamming into them and another car. Heather D. Heyer, 32, was killed and 35 others injured, many grievously…

Fields’s conviction followed six days of testimony in Charlottesville Circuit Court, where Heyer’s deadly injuries were detailed and survivors of the crash described the chaos and their own injuries. Jeanne Peterson, 38, who limped to the witness stand with the help of bailiffs, said she’d had five surgeries and would have another next year. Wednesday Bowie, a counterprotester in her 20s, said her pelvis was broken in six places. Marcus Martin described pushing his then-fiancee out of the Challenger’s path before he was struck.

Susan Bro, Heyer’s mother, sat near the front of the crowded courtroom every day watching the proceedings overseen by Judge Richard E. Moore. Fields’s mother, Samantha Bloom, sat in her wheelchair on the other side, an island in a sea of her son’s victims and their supporters.
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World AIDS Day

Theme for this 30th (!!!) anniversary, per WHO: Know Your Status

I owe one of you Jackals (OzarkHillbilly, probably) a hat tip for this Guardian linkInstagram’s Aids memorial: ‘History does not record itself’ “ :

The Aids memorial on Instagram is unlike anything else on social media – there is nothing trifling about it. The first face I look at is of a New Zealand airline host called Barry Hayden – an ordinary man, extraordinary to the people who loved him, the sort of handsome that looks made to last. There is a lightness about the picture, as if there were no end in sight. The man raises a glass of wine to propose a toast. But it is we who must toast him instead. As the Aids memorial’s profile page explains, this is a place for “stories of love, loss and remembrance”. Scrolling through the feed is like looking at an unending family photograph album in which people are related by one thing: Aids, the disease that has led to the deaths of 35 million people worldwide. There are men, women, a handful of children. Not strength in numbers, only mortal weakness. So many gone – seen here in their carefree prime. The faces are mainly young, often beautiful. The collective impact is devastating…

… The Aids memorial was started in April 2016 by Stuart, a Scot who prefers to keep himself – and his surname – out of the story. Each contributor emails or messages Stuart with the story of a friend or family member affected by HIV. He then posts their text and pictures on to the Instagram feed. If you don’t have a photo of your loved one, he’ll help you find one. If no image exists, an illustration by artist Justin Teodoro will be used instead. This was never a vanity project and Stuart is no fan of social media’s narcissistic routines. Nor does he swank about educating a younger gay generation, even though his site succeeds in doing exactly that. “It’s still taboo to talk about Aids, I thought maybe I could help change that,” he says. “History does not record itself, Instagram reaches a far-ranging demographic.”

The feed has taken off, especially in the US, and has more than 4,500 posts and 67,000 followers. It has attracted high-profile supporters such as Tatum O’Neal, Shirley Manson and Alan Cumming, who appear wearing their Aids memorial T-shirts and posting messages of solidarity. Peter Spears, producer of the film Call Me By Your Name [a gay coming-of-age story], saluted the Aids memorial in his speech at the GLAAD awards in May. One of the posts, he said, about “the mystery of first love” explained the way they made their film. The Aids memorial is, in contrast to the famous Aids quilt – at 54 tons the largest community artwork in the world – a weightless gallery, dominated by photographs. Celebs and non-celebs are remembered and some entries (written either by Stuart or by people who knew them) are about people you may not be aware had the disease, such as 70s tennis superstar Arthur Ashe or actors Anthony Perkins and Alexis Arquette.

Stuart laments the stigma around Aids, even within the gay community: “On dating apps, there are those who seek to date only men who are ‘clean’. There are people fearful of being tested, afraid of what their family – or society – might think were they to test positive. They end up dying because they left it too late. HIV diagnosed can be treated, it’s no longer a life sentence.” Occasionally, Stuart adds, people intending to post have changed their minds at the last minute, fearful of judgment…

You might assume the contemplation of all these deaths would turn mawkish but, as Stuart rightly claims, the feed is not depressing: “Ironically, it’s the opposite.” The feed’s brave hashtag, “what is remembered lives”, is endlessly appropriate. Yet, when I ask about posting these stories day-in, day-out, he admits: “It’s difficult. Sometimes, I feel too emotionally drained to continue. However, I sleep on it. I don’t stop. There’s more to each post than death. I’m reminded to live life to the full, appreciate the people closest to me, be more compassionate, less judgmental, not to sweat the small stuff. I relapse constantly but these daily reminders call me to action.”…



A moment of zen

As we wait for everything to make itself clear tonight, a moment of zen. Jim Bales up at MIT runs the Edgerton Center where they play with light, photography and science. Jim invited me in for a tour last weekend when I was in town for my high school reunion and it was awesome.

Here is my favorite picture that he took:

We had placed a white balloon inside of an orange balloon. We inflated both and then I popped the balloons. The “pop” was the strobe light trigger for the camera and this is what happened. If you look closely at the bottom, you can see the needle most of the way into the white balloon but the balloon not breaking (yet).

One of the other things that he showed me and my dad was using light columns to identify density differentiation. This was an awesome picture that he took.

This was just awesome and I had to share this great experience with you all for a moment of zen.

Open Thread.



Fight the Crazed Bigots: Support HIAS



Friday Morning Open Thread: Let Them Call It A Win, If It Stops the Argument…

Look, any Bernie supporters want to declare victory and get out, I am more than willing to give ’em a big hand on their way. Even better, should the more realistic ones choose to actually become Democrats, I’ll give ’em a second chance to show that they’re willing to do the hard work of winning voters, not just stanning a celebrity. From Politico (so: whole shaker of salt), “Bernie 2016 alums wary of 2020 sequel”:

With the Vermont senator kicking off a nine-state tour on Friday with stops in Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada and California, a sizable contingent of the people who helped build his insurgent 2016 campaign is ambivalent about a second run, according to interviews with more than a dozen former staffers. Many of them are looking for a different progressive champion to finish what Sanders started.

Sanders should just declare victory, they said, content in the knowledge that much of his 2016 platform has been adopted by other ambitious Democrats considering White House bids. Plus, he’s a white man who would turn 80 in his first year as president, who’d be trying to lead a diverse party fueled by the energy of young voters, women and people of color.

“I think that if a younger candidate can pick up the mantle and have Bernie’s support, I think that would be a better option for 2020. I feel like 60 to 70 percent of former staffers are looking around for another Bernie-esque candidate this time around, even if it’s not him,” said Daniel Deriso, a field organizer for Sanders’ 2016 campaign who went on to help run a successful insurgent mayoral campaign in Birmingham, Ala., last year. “But if Bernie called me to have me work on the campaign then I’d do it.”…

Enough fervent supporters — from the 2016 campaign’s top officials to field organizers — are wary of a 2020 run that it could be difficult to reignite the 2016 movement. Jeff Weaver, who managed the 2016 race, has been talking about the idea of a “Draft Bernie PAC” of sorts after the midterms. But many supporters have been noncommittal, according to two people with knowledge of the discussions…

A common frustration among former staffers is that they feel Sanders and his tight circle of aides have taken their support for granted and failed to keep their 2016 team cohesive, which would have been an inherent advantage in a second run.

Multiple former staffers said that the Clinton campaign alumni network is far more connected and active than Sanders’…

“He’s the grandpa of the movement,” said another campaign worker from 2016, “but that might not make him the best choice for 2020.”

So… People who want an actual career working in politics have accepted their loss and are calculating their next moves. Tad Devine is lying low, waiting for Robert Mueller to wrap up his various investigations. Jeff Weaver wants to get the band back together — but being the Media Village Idiot’s “More Virtuous Than Thou” Gadfly is pretty much a one-man enterprise. Just look at the latest performance reviews for its most famous modern exemplar:

(If Nader is hoping / expecting Bloomberg to throw him a bone, or a paid consultancy, he must really be desperate. Mayor Mike has been content to let the Horserace Pundits do his testing-the-candidacy-waters media for free, all these years; I seriously doubt pity, or excitement at Nader’s celebrity, will loosen his pursestrings at this point.)