Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 7th, 2019

The starling and falcon dance

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Written by LeisureGuy

7 November 2019 at 4:00 pm

Posted in Daily life, Video

Revisiting an American Town Where Black People Weren’t Welcome After Dark

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Sort of the opposite of Fred Rogers. Logan Jaffe reports for ProPublica:

Note: This story contains graphic descriptions of violence. There are also uses of a derogatory racial term in documents and quotes cited in the story.

I GOT INTO TOWN JUST AFTER SUNSET. The lights were on at a place called the Brick House Grill, and if you were out on South Main Street on a Friday night in February, chances are, that’s where you were going. So I went in, too.

I took a seat at the bar. A man two stools over from me struck up a conversation. I told him I was a journalist from Chicago and asked him to tell me about this town. “You know how this town is called Anna?” he started. “That’s for ‘Ain’t No Niggers Allowed.’” He laughed, shook his head and took a sip of his beer.

The man was white. I am white. Everyone else in that restaurant in Anna was white.

Later that night, I realized what shook me most about our conversation: He didn’t pause before he said what he said. He didn’t look around the room to see whether anyone could hear us. He didn’t lower his voice. He just said it.

I first learned about Anna in a book called “Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism,” about the thousands of communities across the country that, for much of the 20th century, kept themselves white. The term “sundown town” applies to places that, via policy, violence or both, barred black people from town after dark; as the book explains, the phrase is derived from “the signs that many of [these places] formerly sported at their corporate limits — signs that usually said ‘Nigger, Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on You in __.’”

I picked up the book in part because its author, James W. Loewen, a sociologist who taught at the University of Vermont and at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, is from Decatur, Illinois. Much of his research on sundown towns led him back to his home state, where I now live and which I wanted to better understand.

When Loewen began his research in 1999, he thought he’d find just a handful of sundown towns and “recovering” sundown towns, as he calls them, in Illinois. Instead, he found hundreds, from neighborhoods on Chicago’s North Shore to suburbs in the center of the state to small towns in southern Illinois, such as Anna.

But the stories of how these communities became or stayed mostly white are often unknown, ignored or not fully told. Loewen said sundown towns sprang up all around the country from 1890 to 1940, a period he calls the “nadir” of race relations in America. “For the small, independent towns all around the state that are still all white or almost all white, it’s like the civil rights movement never happened,” he told me.

Anna’s historical resistance to black people is, and has long been, well known in the region. Even though it may never have been codified, I found references to the fact that black people weren’t allowed to live in Anna in newspaper articles from as early as 1903. In that particular reference, a woman from Anna who worked as a hotel maid in Indianapolis was quoted as saying, “I never saw more than 10 negroes in all my life until I was 18 … as a negro is not allowed to stop in our little village of Anna.”

Over the past two years, I visited the town several times to try to understand where Anna’s history had left the town today. I talked with people going about their lives — in the library, the Farm Fresh milk store, the Blue Boar restaurant, the city’s park, the Walmart parking lot and other pockets of Anna. I talked with public officials, historians and longtime residents. I visited a grave in the Anna cemetery that belongs to the man deemed by a local newspaper in 1916 to be “the only colored man who has ever lived in this city” and I spent some time with one of the few black families (if not the only one) living in Anna today.

Still, I’m not going to claim I know Anna’s full story — I’m an outsider. But after hearing A-N-N-A said aloud that night, I realized my race made me a sort of insider, too. Would the man who first recited A-N-N-A have done so if I weren’t white? Nearly everyone I met knew what Anna stands for — whether they heard it first as a “joke” at school or from their grandparents or just from living here long enough. Most people said they wished the A-N-N-A reputation would just go away and were quick to say Anna wasn’t “like that” anymore.

Like what? I’d ask. If Anna has changed, how?

ANNA IS A CITY OF A LITTLE MORE THAN 4,000 PEOPLE located in the middle of Union County, where soybean fields and flatlands to the north give way to the forests and sandstone canyons of southern Illinois. Here, “Illinois is no longer ‘the Prairie state,’” a correspondent for New York’s Evening Post wrote in 1858 while covering the third Lincoln-Douglas debate, which was held in Jonesboro, a small town that shares a border with Anna.

In fact, many of Anna’s earliest residents were from Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia. In the years leading up to the Civil War, “family lines in the South still existed with these people of the new Midwest,” wrote the late Anna resident George E. Parks in 1983 in “History of Union County,” and some residents remained sympathetic to their southern home states. Even today, southern Illinois has more in common culturally with Kentucky and Missouri than with its other neighbors; for years, Confederate battle flags were draped on a storefront on Anna’s Main Street without much objection. . .

Continue reading.

I grew up in a small town (pop. 2400) in southern Oklahoma that — whether through law or simple public pressure — saw to it that there were no blacks living in the town.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 November 2019 at 1:37 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government, Law

Tempeh batch 7: Green lentils, nothing fancy

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This is just before the batch goes into the incubator (oven with the light on): 3 tablespoons rice vinegar mixed in, along with the tempeh starter. A plain batch this time. I’m going to move it to the countertop after 24 hours — i.e., at 1:00pm tomorrow. See my main tempeh post for details on making tempeh. I chose lentils because:

Written by LeisureGuy

7 November 2019 at 1:30 pm

“My friend Mister Rogers”

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In the Atlantic Tom Junod has an article well worth reading:

A long time ago, a man of resourceful and relentless kindness saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. He trusted me when I thought I was untrustworthy, and took an interest in me that went beyond my initial interest in him. He was the first person I ever wrote about who became my friend, and our friendship endured until he died. Now a movie has been made from the story I wrote about him, which is to say “inspired by” the story I wrote about him, which is to say that in the movie my name is Lloyd Vogel and I get into a fistfight with my father at my sister’s wedding.

I did not get into a fistfight with my father at my sister’s wedding. My sister didn’t have a wedding. And yet the movie, called A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, seems like a culmination of the gifts that Fred Rogers gave me and all of us, gifts that fit the definition of grace because they feel, at least in my case, undeserved. I still don’t know what he saw in me, why he decided to trust me, or what, to this day, he wanted from me, if anything at all. He puzzles me now as much as he did when I first met him at the door of the apartment he kept in New York City, dressed, as he’d warned me when we spoke on the phone and he invited me over, in a shabby blue bathrobe and a pair of slippers. Fred was, let’s not forget, a rather peculiar man, and it is not just his goodness but rather the peculiarity of his goodness that has made him, 16 years after his death, triumphant as a symbol of human possibility, although just about everything he stood for has been lost.

I met Fred Rogers in 1998, when Esquire assigned me a story about him for a special issue on American heroes. I last spoke with him on Christmas Day 2002, when I called him to talk about an argument I’d had with my cousin; he died two months later, on February 27, 2003. In late 2014, I heard from two screenwriters, Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue, who were interested in using my Esquire story as the basis of a movie, and in January 2018, I received a call from the movie’s producer with the news that Tom Hanks had been cast as Fred Rogers, which meant, emphatically, that the movie would be made. A few months after that, I visited the set in Pittsburgh, where I met Matthew Rhys, the actor who had agreed to play … well, me, or some variant of me, a cynical journalist who in the end proves amenable to Fred’s life lessons—his ministry.

I had been thinking of starting this story at one of those points of departure, at one of those beginnings or one of those endings. But stories don’t only speak; they are spoken to, by the circumstances under which they are written. And so I have to start by mentioning that I have begun writing a story about Mister Rogers the day after two young men armed with assault rifles killed a total of 31 people in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.

I am often asked what Fred would have made of our time—what he would have made of Donald Trump, what he would have made of Twitter, what he would have made of what is generally called our “polarization” but is in fact the discovery that we don’t like our neighbors very much once we encounter them proclaiming their political opinions on social media. I often hear people say that they wish Fred were still around to offer his guidance and also that they are thankful he is gone, because at least he has been spared from seeing what we have become. In all of this, there is something plaintive and a little desperate, an unspoken lament that he has left us when we need him most, as though instead of dying of stomach cancer he was assumed by rapture, abandoning us to our own devices and the judgment implicit in his absence.

What would Fred Rogers—Mister Rogers—have made of El Paso and Dayton, of mass murder committed to fulfill the dictates of an 8chan manifesto? What, for that matter, would he have made of the anti-Semitic massacre that took place last fall in his real-life Pittsburgh neighborhood of Squirrel Hill? The easy answer is that it is impossible to know, because he was from a different world, one almost as alien to us now as our mob-driven world of performative slaughters would be to him. But actually, I think I do know, because when I met him, one of the early school shootings had just taken place, in West Paducah, Kentucky—eight students shot while they gathered in prayer. Though an indefatigably devout man, he did not attempt to characterize the shootings as an attack on the faithful; instead, he seized on the news that the 14-year-old shooter had gone to school telling his classmates that he was about to do something “really big,” and he asked, “Oh, wouldn’t the world be a different place if he had said, ‘I’m going to do something really little tomorrow’?” Fred decided to devote a whole week of his television show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, to the theme of “little and big,” encouraging children to embrace the diminutive nature of their bodies and their endeavors—to understand that big has to start little.

Fred Rogers was a children’s-TV host, but he was not Captain Kangaroo or Officer Joe Bolton. He was an ordained Presbyterian minister who was so appalled by what he saw on 1950s television—adults trying to entertain children by throwing pies in each other’s faces—that he joined the medium as a reformer. He considered the space between the television set and the eyes of his audience sacred, and from 1966 to 2000 he taped nearly 1,000 episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, trying to make that space less profane. And although he made his living speaking to children, his message and example endure because he found a way to speak to all of us—to speak to children as respectfully as he spoke to adults and to speak to adults as simply as he spoke to children. Such fluency was the result not of spontaneous enthusiasm but rather of the rigorous editing he brought to bear on himself and everyone around him. When I first visited the Neighborhood 21 years ago, one of his in-house writers, Hedda Sharapan, told me what had happened when he’d enlisted her to write a manual intended to teach doctors how to talk to children. She worked hard on it, using all her education and experience in the field of child development, but when she handed him her opening, he crossed out what she’d written and replaced it with six words: “You were a child once too.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 November 2019 at 1:22 pm

A woman’s stalker used an app that allowed him to stop, start and track her car

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This is bad news. Reis Thebault reports in the Washington Post:

She woke to her ex-boyfriend standing at the foot of her bed. At first, he said nothing. He stood there, she later recalled to a court, staring and silent for what “seemed like an eternity.”

He then told her, low and quiet, “You’re lucky it’s just me and not a robber or a bad person to do you harm.”

She didn’t know it then, she said in court, but that mid-evening break-in was far from the first time he had stalked her — he’d been doing it for months, in real time, authorities said. The man, whom she dated for six months, allegedly weaponized simple technology and smartphone apps that allowed him to remotely stop and start her car, control the vehicle’s windows and track her constantly.

“I am still trying to come to terms with the scope of violation and trauma I have experienced,” she said.

The account of these actions, which took place in the Australian state of Tasmania, was reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. ABC did not name the victim or the accused, but the case highlights a troubling trend that domestic violence advocates have warned about for more than a decade: As surveillance and tracking technology becomes more advanced and ubiquitous, stalking and other forms of intimate partner violence can become more difficult to fight.

“These types of technologies are becoming more and more common,” Erica Olsen, director of the Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, told The Washington Post. “What we know, what we’ve always known, is that abusers and perpetrators will use any tactic and tool they can access in order to perpetrate harassment and abuse.”

“These are modern forms of old tactics and behaviors,” she said. “The behavior is not new, but the technology is.”

In the Australia case, which resulted in the 38-year-old man pleading guilty to stalking charges in the Hobart Magistrates Court, he tracked the woman’s phone location using spyware, for which he paid a monthly fee, ABC reported. Though disturbing, that method of surveillance is relatively widespread, according to a Motherboard report on the “stalkerware surveillance market” that put the number of victims in the tens of thousands.

But the man also used an app that integrated with the woman’s Land Rover. He helped her purchase it when the two were together, which gave him access to the car’s registration information, allowing him to set up the app. ABC did not identify the app, but its functions are similar to Land Rover’s “InControl” app, which allows car owners to start their vehicles remotely, adjust temperatures and track their locations.

A spokesman for Jaguar Land Rover North America said he’s never heard of such a case in the United States, but said he’s looking into the allegations from Australia.

Olsen said app-based vehicle tracking is an emerging problem, but like other forms of digital abuse, it’s also a modern take on long-standing behavior: Abusers have long kept tabs on the odometer in their targets’ cars, knowing exactly how many miles they’d travel to and from work or school. Now, abusers can monitor that travel live.

“These behaviors existed beforehand, but the availability of some of these technologies absolutely can make it easier for abusers,” Olsen said. “It can make it real time.”

More than 50 percent of victim service providers reported that offenders use cellphone apps to track or stalk their victims, according to a survey from the National Network to End Domestic Violence. Forty-one percent of providers reported that abusers use GPS tracking.

“Digital abuse of intimate partners is both more mundane and more complicated than we might think,” said Cornell University sociology professor Karen Levy, writing in Slate last year.

“Many forms of digital abuse require little to no sophistication and are carried out using everyday devices and services,” she wrote. “But at the same time, digital intimate partner abuse is incredibly hard to fight, because the relationship between abuser and victim is socially complex. Abusers have different kinds of access to and knowledge about their victims than the privacy threats we often think about.”

Levy is one of a number of academics researching the intersection of digital technology and intimate partner violence, and she co-wrote a paper on the ways social media and technology have created “a stalker’s paradise.”

Like elsewhere, the abuse of women through technology is prevalent in Australia, Heather Nancarrow, the CEO of Australia’s National Research Organization for Women’s Safety, told The Post. Advocates are working with the country’s largest communications companies to  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 November 2019 at 10:53 am

Dr. Selby 3X concentrated shave cream, Vie-Long, and The Holy Black SR-71 slant

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Moving right along, I used the big brother of yesterday’s Vie-Long horsehair brush: same style, but larger hand and larger knot — and I find I like it better. It easily made a great lather from Dr. Selby 3X concentrated shave cream, which seems to be no longer available in the US. (It’s made in Uruguay.)

The Holy Black’s hefty slant is a wonderful little razor, and it easily produced a BBS result. A splash of Irisch Moos finished the job and got the day off to a fine start.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 November 2019 at 9:46 am

Posted in Shaving

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