power brokers

10 Books Recommended by President Barack Obama

Last year President Barack Obama shared with WIRED magazine a list of 10 books he highly recommends. These are the books. (Click the links for descriptions.) 

- The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln
- Parting the Waters: America in the King Years 1954-63 by Taylor Branch
- The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro
- The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
- Andy Grove: The Life and Times of an American by Richard S. Tedlow
- Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
- Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
- In Dubious Battle by John Steinbeck
- Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo
- The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History by Elizabeth Kolbert

Have your read any of these? What are you thoughts on this list? 


Because I just couldn’t help myself (based on this video // peggy’s analysis)

“The latest WikiLeaks release has sent a shockwave through the intelligence community, especially in the upper echelons of SHIELD, whose tools for hacking into smart devices were among the information obtained by the group. Joining us today to discuss the impact of this leak on the intelligence community is the former Director of SHIELD herself, Peggy Carter. Ms. Carter, thank you for coming on the show today.”

Peggy smiled slightly into the webcam and adjusted the lapel of her blazer, praying her home office looked tidier on camera than it actually was. “Thank you for your invitation.”

“What are your thoughts regarding the Vault 7 leaks?”

Peggy shrugged. “It’s nothing truly earth-shattering. A lot of the operating systems referenced in the files are obsolete and have since been updated, and the Weeping Angel hack has been presented at security conferences previously. Much of this information is just a confirmation of what was widely assumed–that is, intelligence agencies have the capability to hack into a person’s smart devices. It’s certainly not good for SHIELD to be compromised this way, but the comparison to Snowden’s NSA leaks are certainly inaccurate.”

“And what do you make of Assange’s statement that he will provide assistance to tech companies to patch the bugs mentioned in the Vault 7 files?” The newscaster let out a stifled chuckle. “Ma’am, I believe one of your children just walked in.”

As if on cue, Peggy felt a tug on her sleeve. She placed a hand on her elder daughter’s head and tried to regain her train of thought. “You’re certainly seeing caution from Silicon Valley. They are understandably suspicious of Assange’s motives, given–”

There was a more insistent tug on Peggy’s sleeve, and she looked down to see her daughter Sarah grinning at her, holding a toy in each hand with her glasses slightly askew.

“Not now, darling. Mummy’s working.” Sarah opened her mouth, no doubt to deliver a the most devastating retort a three-year-old could conjure. “No, Sarah. Go find your father.”

Peggy turned back to the camera. “I’m terribly sorry. As I was saying, given that Wikileaks has a history of releasing individuals’ personal information and Assange’s apparent ties with Russia–”

There was a loud crash behind Peggy, and she turned her head to see Eleanor in her walker, bumping into her bookshelves and precariously stacked piles of paper. Steve slid into the room right after her, banging his shoulder on the office door. She looked heavenward as Steve hustled their girls out of the room, one hand clutching the back of Sarah’s jumper, the other practically lifting Eleanor’s walker off the floor.

“My apologies,” Peggy said with an embarrassed grin as Sarah jabbered at Steve in the background about how she got to play in Mum’s office all the time and he was being so unfair and she left her Bucky Bear behind.

“Anyway, with Wikileaks’ reputation–” She was once again interrupted, this time by a loud shriek from Eleanor. Peggy managed to tamp down her wince, but out of the corner of her eye, she saw Steve kneeling in the doorway. He reached for the door handle and missed, almost toppling to the floor. His second try was successful, and he closed the door just as Sarah started yelling to be heard over Eleanor’s babbling.

Peggy sighed and shook her head. “I’m so sorry. As I was saying–can you repeat your question please?”

Later that night, Peggy found herself scrolling through her Twitter mentions. She probably shouldn’t have been surprised that the video went viral, but it was still supremely unnerving to have more internet presence in a given day than her famous, superhero husband.

She reached a tweet that made her stop short. “Steve,” she gasped, “how did they guess that I was wearing pajama bottoms during the interview? I made sure not to move my chair at all!”

The Rise and Fall of the Wassoulou (Mandinka) Empire, West Africa

The Wassoulou Empire was an African Empire that existed between 1294 and 1315 AH (1878-1898 CE) in modern Mali, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire and Sierra Leone.

The story of the rise and fall of the Wassoulou state is also the story of the rise and fall of its first and only ruler, a remarkable man named Samori Touré. Born to a Dyula Mandé family in the town of Mayambaladugu, in the year 1245 AH (1830 CE), he was the son of a fairly well-to-do merchant. Touré grew up in an African world that had long been aware of the European presence. Slave trading on the coasts had been going on for generations, though Europeans were yet to penetrate too far inland, and many still relied on their protectorates for extracting the wealth of Africa. Touré’s father probably had significant relationships with a variety of Europeans, both officials and civilians, as a merchant, and as a result, Touré had a familiarity with their ways of life, and particularly, their ways of bureaucracy, organization, and martial tradition, since many of the outposts and expeditions in the area would have been armed and defended by troops brought in from overseas.

In 1264 AH (1848 CE), an event happened that would change his life forever. At the time, Mayambaladugu and most of the surrounding Mandé and Fulani groups had just been subjugated by the authority of the Tocouleur Empire, often as client chiefdoms or states, and these vassal entities continued to fight intermittent wars with one another, often for loot, including slaves, and access to natural resources that could buy guns and equipment from Europeans, or influence at the new Tocouleur court. When he was eighteen, a man and probably taking some responsibility in his family’s mercantile business, his mother was seized in one of these raids by the powerful Cissé, another Mandé group. Determined to get her back, Samori Touré traveled deep into Cissé territory, to confront a man tradition names Séré-Burlay. In return for his mother’s safety, he struck an agreement with his mother’s captor: he would serve the Cissé as a warrior, so long as she remained safe. It is unkown how long Touré served in this capacity, though some traditions say for more than seven years, but however long he did, he was most likely an experienced veteran by the time he ended his service to the Cissé by escaping with his mother.

Seeking safety from the roused and potentially vengeful Cissé, Touré traveled to the towns of the Bérété Mandé, a group who had been longtime rivals of his former masters. There, again, he became a warrior, though now he began to rise through the ranks, charismatic and brave as he was, and with an extensive knowledge of his enemies and years of combat experience under his belt. By 1280 AH (1864 CE), he had a significant amount of men under his command, and was fighting for the Bérété somewhere along one of the Niger’s tributaries, probably the Milo River.

A final note on Touré’s early life, before the founding of the Wassoulou Empire is discussed: Touré was not born a Muslim, but converted sometime as a young man, possibly during his time with the Cissé, but it is impossible to be sure. Even African sources disagree on the exact dates, or how/why he converted. Regardless, by 1280 AH (1864 CE), he was a devout Sunni Muslim, and possibly a member of a Sufi brotherhood.

In 1280 AH (1864 CE), the Tocouleur Empire, which had conquered and subsumed the Mandé and Fulani states of Touré’s youth the year his mother had been kidnapped, collapsed. El Hadj Omar Tal, the Fulani founder and only ruler of the Tocouleur state, died, and though his heirs managed to hold onto some of the territory, their subjects proved entirely too powerful and eager for the potential spoils left by the great man’s death for their control. Dozens of factions broke off, and the region dissolved into chaos. As mentioned above, Touré was on what was probably the Milo River, and, as the Empire disintegrated around him, Touré took advantage of the situation to accomplish two things. The first was the testing of his warriors in serious battle. Trained with his own version of European military standards, adapted from the experiences and memories of his youth, and armed with firearms and the skill to use them, Touré was eager to see if his own theories about war would hold up in a conflict so much larger and more intense than the small-scale strife of his youth. The second goal was the creation of a new Sunni Muslim state, with Touré as the ruler.

Touré quickly won victories. His men were well-disciplined, and, as the war progressed, more and more heavily armed. In addition to captured weapons and a variety of improvised and locally-manufactured equipment, Touré also began to deal with the British in Sierra Leone, where they refused to offer him status as a full protectorate kingdom, but agreed to supply him with weapons in exchange for a promise not to deal with other colonial powers, particularly the French. Though the British did not supply him with heavy weapons or artillery, they did provide breach-loading weapons, and the know-how to repair them, as well as an enormous supply of ammunition. So armed and now with a veteran army at his back, Touré seized the Buré gold mines, on the Malian border, and with the hard currency and extensive territory his victories had won him, proclaimed himself Faama (Emir, roughly), of a new Wassoulou Empire, named after region on the modern Guinea-Mali border. The capitol was moved to the large town of Bissandugu in 1294 AH (1878 CE).

The next chapter of the Wassoulou Empire was marked by wars of conquest against weaker neighbors, rather than the earlier wars for survival in the cutthroat political climate left behind by the Tocouleur collapse. A major success came in 1297 AH (1881 CE), when Kankan, a major Dyula trading post on the Milo River fell, and the Empire reached its geographical zenith. Smaller states, particularly animist/indigenous African states, fell as well in the same period, and though, like many African rulers, Touré allowed many indigenous civil customs to continue unmolested, he began to style himself with Islamic titles, and likely sought out more formal religious training from Sufi’s and Marabouts, local Sunni leaders, during this period. Finally, he managed to secure alliances, with himself as the power-brokering party, with the Fulani states to the North, where Islam was the state religion.

In 1299 AH (1882 CE), Samori Touré launched a new campaign, this time dispatching his troops South, toward Cote d’Ivoire. There, they besieged the city of Keriera, hoping to use it as the launching point for a campaign as far as the coast. However, another major imperial power was operating to the south, and moving northwards from the Ivory Coast: France. In fact, the first contact between the Wassoulou Empire and the French was a brief engagement outside of Keriera, where a French force drove off Touré’s surprised troops, and then effectively replaced them, occupying the city. Touré, concerned but not desperate, renewed relations with the British and sent new emissaries to Liberia, where he hoped to strike another arms deal. He got what he was looking for in 1300 AH (1882-3 CE), purchasing repeating rifles from the British and Liberians, and setting up a corridor on which to move supplies between the coast and his interior centers of power, should the emerging conflict with the French escalate.

They did escalate. Skirmishes and Wassoulou raiding colored the next few years, and French colonial authorities, disturbed by what they perceived as a grave threat to ventures in the area, dispatched a Colonel Combes with an expeditionary force to take Buré, one of the main sources of cash for Touré and his Empire. However, the force was too small, and Combés was unfamiliar with the terrain and his enemy, and they were soundly defeated by the crack African forces, many of the leaders veterans of decades of campaigning. In Shawwal, 1308 AH (1891 CE), another French force was dispatched, this time to Kankan and lead by Louis Archinárd, another French Colonel. Touré, realizing he could not hold the walls against heavy French artillery, abandoned the city, but took his men into the field, hoping to defeat the French in the open. Though Touré managed to drive a few French columns back in 1308 AH (1891 CE), he was unable to significantly halt their advances, especially as more and more French troops were assigned to the region, transferred for the campaigns organized to destroy Touré and his neighbors. Another blow had come with the signing of the Brussels Conference Act of 1890, in which Europeans agreed to stop selling weapons to African rulers or armies, cutting Touré off from a valuable source of weapons.

In 1309 AH (1892 CE), French Colonel Húmbért attacked, seized and occupied Bissandugu and Buré, though Touré and his troops were, again, in the field, and, though defeated, the Faama was able to keep his troops intact, retreating across the Niger. Along the path of his retreat, Touré burned crops and destroyed as much of the infrastructure as he could, hoping to stall the French and possibly allow African disease to have some weakining effect on the advancing columns, though this strategy only bought a few seasons. The clashes with the French, from the first engagement with Colonel Combés to the seizure of Buré and Touré’s capital at Bissandugu, constitute what is now known as the First and Second Mandingo Wars. The third, and the deciding moment for the Wassoulou Empire, loomed, though it was delayed by the French conflicts with rulers in Mali and back along their tenuous zones of control to the coast.

However, by 1315 AH (1898 CE), Babemba Traoré, the ruler of the collapsing Kénédougou Empire to the North in Mali proper, was defeated by the French, who proceeded to incorporate most of Mali into the expanding territory of French West Africa. Touré, cut off from supplies in Liberia and Sierra Leone, now found himself virtually alone against the French, who moved their victorious armies back toward Wassoulou and the border, preparing for a final offensive, across the Niger and into what had once been the far Eastern edge of Touré’s Empire, now its only remaining area. Within a few months of the outbreak of hostilities in the Third Mandingo War, Touré was captured when a French unit attacked his troops, and was imprisoned. The French quickly moved in to the remaining Wassoulou towns, and formally dissolved the Empire in the ensuing months. Touré remained imprisoned by local French troops until the 23rd of Jumada al-Ula, 1317 CE (29 September 1899), when he was moved to exile in Gabon. He died of pneumonia there, at 70, in Safar, 1318 AH (June 1900 CE), and was buried at the Grand Masjid in Conakry, Guinea. Touré’s great-grandson, Ahmed Sékou Touré, would later become Guinea’s first President, when the country became independent of France more than half a century later.

Misinformation isn’t ignorance.

It’s not about what the people in charge understand, but about what they can get away with by playing on their supporters’ fears & hatreds & lack of previous knowledge & distrusts.

The point of a claim like “Obamacare is in a death spiral because it makes healthy people subsidize the sick” is not to be true, it’s to link up Scary Black “Liberals” with (healthy people’s) fear of losing money with the *presupposition* that it’s failing in scary ways.

It’s fear, fear, fear. Same feeling evoked in each part of the statement. That’s how POETRY works, frens, not communication of information, that’s the level this is working on. Deep, strong, convincing, because the connections it makes are not conscious ones. Note that humans are primarily pattern matchers/makers, especially in fight or fight situations, and also will follow/trust authorities more when scared. 

If an authority says something that’s scary enough, and is confident enough that they can make it safe again, people will doubt themselves rather than the authority. This is how human brains work: we convince ourselves we always agreed, and retcon our own thoughts to match. And that’s how you radicalize a population.

Now consider that a big part of the Republican strategy for like 30 years has been talk about wars on everything, and specifically about being under attack and persecuted. To make their base terrified of so-called Libruls & their war on Christmas, Marriage, Life, The American Way, etc. Of anything foreign, anything UnAmerican.

Oh and keep quietly shifting the boundary of Librul further right, too slow to notice at any given moment. Anyone who responds with scorn is an enemy agent.

Putting in the “scariest” of the “alternative facts” as a presupposition is fucking genius; presuppositions are extra hard to challenge because they’re presented as so universally known they don’t even need to be separately stated. So the person who didn’t know it before is even more scared because they were previously ignorant of the scary thing everyone else obviously knew already. Scared = further trust of the authority that did know.

“Which is why [falsehood]” is always phrasing to watch for; it’s super dangerous.

This is not ignorance. It’s reality-optional power brokering. And very very good at saying the words that get the effects they want from the people they want, over *decades* while we run off in the wrong direction entirely trying to fix their ignorance with facts that’ll just read as further evidence of persecution.

I mean yes fact-checks and pointing out lies are important but they’re so, so far from sufficient. It’s not going to stop “Well I didn’t vote for them but at least they’re doing things!” and it’s not going to stop that position from turning into lockstep over a few years. (what is memory who knows why the previous lot didn’t get stuff done surely it wasn’t people like Paul Ryan who caused that I mean look he’s getting stuff done it’s only Libruls who are divisive)

And I am no good at all at figuring out how to counter this sort of thing, and I’m terrified, but I *can* at least analyze it so yeah have a 3:30am tumblrpost from yr friendly cognitive linguist/semanticist.

anonymous asked:

I'm a different anon to the previous and I'm actually really interested to hear your thoughts on Pansy and Draco now. I would love it if you could write some meta on it? <3 your work and blog, just fyi.

Prefect!Pansy and Prefect!Draco - it’s an interesting question, right? Thanks for being lovely about it, anon!! Here’s why I think Pansy and Draco were the right choices.

As with Ron, we have to consider the options, and consider them in the context of the war. Dumbledore would have needed prefects who were as tactically advantageous as possible, but in the context of Slytherin house, and given the choices he had there, he would’ve needed to use slightly different criteria than he would for Gryffindor. He wouldn’t have been able to think so much in terms as making the Order stronger, as in terms of making sure that the Death Eaters didn’t gain strength or attack Hogwarts.

Unlike with Ron I don’t think we can make an argument that at 15 either Pansy or Draco were especially upstanding or full of leadership potential (nor do I think that Dumbledore would have made those arguments) so it comes down much more to a question of damage control.

First, the girls:

  • Millicent Bulstrode had shown that she was inclined towards brute force (as when she broke the rules at Duelling Club to put Hermione in a headlock, which in a magical context would suggest that she’s both violent and unpredictable). We also see signs that she’s neither liked nor respected by her peers, and JK Rowling has suggested that she’s a half-blood, which would’ve had the potential to put her in the position of having to prove herself to the Death Eaters. It’s unlikely that she would have been able to do much as a prefect in terms of keeping order or lightening the adults’ load, and hard to know how much damage she would have done. You don’t want to give authority to someone violent, unpredictable, and with something to prove to your enemies.
  • Daphne Greengrass and Tracy Davis are question marks tbh which probably puts them in the same category as Dean for the Gryffindors, wherein they could have been fine but, as far as we know, were not particularly advantageous (and if they were going to be particularly important to the war in some way that would make them advantageous or dangerous, we would know more about them)
  • Pansy Parkinson has some of the same liabilities as Millicent Bulstrode, but more advantages.
    • She’s already the leader of the pack so is going to be taken most seriously by her peers, and she’s going to have an interest in maintaining her status, so she’s most likely to lighten teachers’ loads (thereby giving them more time to devote to the war effort) by dealing with things independently and exercising judgment about what really really needs adult attention.
    • She’s not physically or magically violent. Mean, yes, and laughs and encourages it when other people do bad things, but she doesn’t instigate violence, which limits the amount and type of violence she’s going to cause with her authority as a prefect.
    • The Golden Trio probably could have taken her. Push comes to shove, she wasn’t going to be able to get in their way.
    • Pansy is clearly motivated but not clearly principled. This would be a liability in an ally, but is an asset in an enemy. She doesn’t give any sign of having actually bought into the idea of blood purity, it’s more that she’s interested in her own influence, power, and comfort. Even when she wants to turn Harry over, it’s more about an easy solution than an ideological crusade.
    • All of this would have made her easy for Dumbledore to manipulate if he’d needed to. She wasn’t ideologically motivated enough to go on a recruiting spree, and she was predictable in her responsiveness to promises of status, safety, luxury, and comfort -  which, by making her a Prefect, Dumbledore was demonstrating that he could make and keep.

Then the boys:

  • Vincent Crabbe is everything Dumbledore wouldn’t want in a prefect. Violent, loyal and closely tied to the Death Eater cause, lacking the independence or critical thinking skills to question Death Eater ideology or to negotiate/finesse orders to mitigate damaging shows of force, lacking the foresight to consider even the possibility of losing and to hedge his bets accordingly (/act less poorly/respond to incentives from Dumbledore), willing to recruit, and willing to recruit through coercion and threats. He would’ve been a disaster.
  • Greg Goyle is in the same position as Crabbe, basically.
  • Theodore Nott might have been an interesting choice, because he’s smart and because he’s not a joiner/part of Draco’s gang, but he is the son of a Death Eater and we don’t see signs that he wasn’t on board with that, plus his loner status probably made him harder to manipulate. Also, tbh, making him Prefect likely would have incurred the wrath of Lucius Malfoy, which Dumbledore needed not to do - more about that below.
  • Blaise Zabini could have been another interesting choice, but with the same issues as Theodore Nott - not clearly manipulable, not as clearly influential, and not a problem to not pick him.
  • Draco Malfoy was basically the only possibility because of his father, and outside of that he’s a compromise choice in a lot of (understandable) ways.
    • If Draco hadn’t been made a Prefect Lucius would have thrown a fit and retaliated. We know that Lucius is on the Board of Governors and was able to arrange to have Dumbledore expelled from the school in Chamber of Secrets. That wasn’t a risk Dumbledore could take.
    • If Draco hadn’t been made a Prefect Lucius would have been genuinely angry and might have lashed out. Following Fourth Year, when Dumbledore had to make the decision, Lucius and the Death Eaters were ascendant and Lucius still felt he had, and did have, the power to direct their attention. Giving him a reason to be angry, and to direct that anger at Hogwarts (which he’d already shown he would do - children were definitely not off limits, as with the whole Chamber of Secrets/basilisk situation), was unwise. Not that Dumbledore couldn’t have taken him, but that it could have caused collateral damage that would have made people panic, disrupted the social order, had kids pulled out of Hogwarts (where especially the half-bloods and Muggle-borns would be even more vulnerable), and depleted the Orders resources and attention.
    • Like Pansy, his social status means that he has an interest in maintaining his authority by dealing with things himself instead of calling in the adults unless it’s really necessary
    • Having Draco as a Prefect gave Dumbledore and other adults in charge a legitimate reason to keep an eye on him and interact with him. If they’d succeeded in bringing him over that would have been a good cover for convincing him and arranging meetings, and if, as happened, he was going to becoming a Death Eater that meant that they were going to be more able to get to know how he worked and to monitor his behavior.
    • Being a Prefect would keep Draco busy - it filled his time, kept him out of the common room, kept him on patrol and therefore meant that he was often being patrolled by both the other Prefects and teachers.
    • Draco talked a big game but, like his father, was largely interested in power. Being the one to give Draco power meant both that Dumbledore could see how he was going to behave once he had it (which could be useful for any number of reasons to do with understanding and changing how the war might unfold) and that Draco would have a little bit of an incentive not to go against Dumbledore too openly or to associate working with Dumbledore with getting what he wanted. At least, it would have made Draco understand that his father wasn’t the one and only power broker in town. 

tl;dr: Neither Pansy nor Draco was a perfect choice, but they were the best ones available as far as we can see. Neither of them is a hard-line advocate of blood purity, neither of them is gratuitously violent, both are predictable and can be manipulated, both of them would have done the basic job without needing a lot of energy/time from the adults, both have enough social power that it would have been advantageous for Dumbledore to get a sense for how they worked and to give them reasons to understand what he could offer them, and both of them were worth keeping a close eye on. And, with Draco, picking him was probably very tactically necessary.

Besides, the entire political class that governs us, which has no culture, no brain, no sense of justice, ironically considers itself innocent and declares with a nauseating sly little smile that the crimes, if they exist, were committed by others. I hate the tone of voice in which these obtuse and blustering power brokers manipulate guilt and innocence. I don’t trust their declarations of intent, their defenses, their proud and immodest self-definitions. I prefer people who are aware of the moral ambiguity of every gesture and try persistently to understand what they really do, both good and bad, to themselves and others.
—  Elena Ferrante, Frantumaglia: A Writer’s Journey

Skyeward AU “Dark Angel”

Skye as Max / X5-452
Ward as Logan / Eyes Only
Coulson as Lydecker

In a future of political, economic and moral collapse, a genetically enhanced superhuman prototype named Skye escapes from S.H.I.E.L.D. confines and dwells amidst the decadent underground street life to avoid Agent Coulson who wants to bring her back into the fold.

Searching for others of her kind codenamed Inhumans who were scattered in the aftermath of her escape, Skye encounters Grant Ward, a cyber-journalist battling repression and corruption in post-apocalypse America.

Eventually, Ward calls her to the highest part of her being an Inhuman and Skye becomes his samurai as the pair takes on the ruthless power-brokers of the new millennium.

Skye and Ward’s odyssey leads them closer to the secret of her past, deepening and complicating their relationship in the process.

result of my Dark Angel rewatch and because i haven’t made any Skyeward edit in a while

In Memoriam Jim Marrs December 5, 1943 - August 2, 2017

“Goddammit, I want to stay in Texas!”

I never saw my dear friend Jim Marrs without a hat unless the wind blew it off. Jim was born 73 years ago in Fort Worth, Texas, with a fearless soul and quicksilver mind that could always see the irony and humor in his fellow humans and the sour hidden layers of political power brokers. After graduating from Paschal High School in Fort Worth where he flowered into being life of the party wherever he was, Jim went on to the University of North Texas in Denton to get a journalism degree in 1966. Then came reporting and editing at the Denton Record Chronicle, the Lubbock Avalanche Journal and investigative reporter and cartoonist at the Fortworth-Star Telegram.

One subject that haunted him as one big lie was the “official” Washington story on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963. By 1988, Jim had a huge file that contradicted Oswald being the single shooter and Jim had lots of sources saying the assassination was linked to JFK wanting to tell the truth about UFOs and an alien presence on Earth. So, Jim wrote the 1989 best-seller Crossfire that Hollywood film director Oliver Stone made into the movie JFK.

Then Jim dug deeper into the UFO and alien side of the JFK murder and produced the best-seller The Alien Agenda in 1997. From then to this summer of 2017, Jim kept diving into those sour layers of Earth power brokers past and present. In July 2017, what would be his last book, The Illuminati, was released. It was Jim’s twelfth book.

He is survived by his wife Carol of 49 years, their two daughters Cathryn Lafitte, who has three children, and Jayme Castle. Carol told me today a few hours after Jim’s heart apparently gave out that he never wanted to leave their 30 acres in Springtown, Texas. As he became so ill this summer and had to go on to a kidney dialysis machine, he would say in frustration, “Goddammit, I want to stay in Texas!” So in a month or two, Carol is going to “have a big wake and spread Jim’s ashes on the land he loved so much.” God protect you always, Jim, wherever you are now.

*The representation of slavery in the musical is one of the things that bothered you the most about “Hamilton.” What is your argument about the way that slavery is seen or not seen?*

My argument is basically that the play does a lot of this thing that we call “Founders Chic” as a representational strategy. This is a way that writers of popular history (and some academic historians) represent the founders as relatable, cool guys. Founders Chic tends to really downplay the involvement of the Founding Fathers in slavery, and this play does that 100 percent. Yes, sure, it mentions slavery a couple of times, but it’s twice mentioned in the context of just slavery existing and Alexander Hamilton being opposed to it. And then a couple times it’s mentioned in the context of abolition specifically, and Alexander Hamilton supporting that. So the 12th line of the play where it’s mentioned, “he struggled and kept his guard up” is the line right after talking about slaves being slaughtered and carted away. But we have no idea what Alexander Hamilton’s attitude toward slavery was when he was a boy growing up in the Caribbean. He worked on a slave ship. I mean, chances are probably pretty high that he was in favor of it; that was his livelihood. So few white people were opposed to slavery, especially white people in the Caribbean. It’s kind of bonkers to suggest that he was somehow suffering and feeling like slavery was an injustice at that time. There’s no historical evidence to back that up. So that’s one example of them presenting it as if, Oh yeah, he was around slavery, but he hated it, and we don’t actually know that that’s the case. John Laurens, sure, was very unusual for being anti-slavery; it’s not really clear that Alexander Hamilton was particularly anti-slavery.

*The Schuyler family had slaves.*

Oh yeah! They were huge slave owners. And one of the points Ishmael Reed made that I loved is that for Elizabeth Schuyler to be a Kim Kardashian of her era involved several slaves preparing her to be so gorgeous at that ball where Hamilton met her. And to say that he didn’t own any slaves? He was fucking poor! Before the Revolution, the dude had no money, so of course he didn’t own slaves. It wasn’t a moral achievement, just an economic reality. Later on, yeah, he does seem to have been anti-slavery, in his involvement with the New York Manumission Society and things like that, so the fact that he didn’t then purchase slaves is one thing. It’s also definitely documented that he used slaves, that he employed slaves. It was really common for people who didn’t own slaves outright to rent slaves.


*So a huge thing is also the fact that all of the main characters are being played by people of color, but there are no historical people of color represented. *

Yeah, that bothers me a lot!

*How do you think that could have been done, in an alternate-reality version of “Hamilton”?*

I mention in my article that I doubt if he had a historian of color on his staff that this would have happened, but he was working with a sort of prototypical white historian [Hamilton biographer Ron Chernow]. The way that the story of the founding of the country is told erases people of color so consistently, that it was super easy for him to do it this way. So you know, it’s possible it never occurred to him that black people, for example, were involved in the Revolution. Because that’s probably not what he learned in history in school, and it’s certainly not what he would learn from reading Ron Chernow’s biography of Hamilton. And so, it would be very easy for him to just have the impression that there are no black people in this history because they’re just not there.

*Can you explain what the difference is for you between race-blind casting and race-conscious casting, which you argue is what’s actually going on in “Hamilton”?*

Race-blind casting for me would mean something like, We’re going to do William Shakespeare, and we’re just going to cast the roles with whoever is the best person for the part. As opposed to race-conscious casting, which is very much saying, These are parts that are designed for people of color. The musical styles of the singing are not white styles. The dance is not white. It would be so appalling to audiences and the show would have just completely been a disaster if they had cast white people to play all of these roles. We would have been completely disgusted with the show, and it would be this weird cultural footnote that somebody tried to do that. So to suggest that it’s race-blind casting is really disingenuous. And the initial casting calls also tend to indicate that as well, that they weren’t looking for white actors to do these roles to begin with. And Miranda talks about when he was writing the music that he was casting different hip-hop stars in the roles in his head. So from the beginning he wasn’t envisioning that this was going to be a white cast.

*And you identify differences in the way the actors were deployed, in terms of musical style.*

I think that comes out really strongly with King George, who is the only major character who’s portrayed by a white actor [Jonathan Groff], and who sings Beatles-style songs, and is obviously representing the Empire, England, as opposed to the revolutionaries, who are all people of color. … And then in terms of the female casting, the female character who sings in a more hip-hop and R&B style [Angelica Schuyler, played by Renée Elise Goldsberry] is black, and the female character who sings more Broadway-style ballads [Elizabeth Schuyler, played by Phillipa Soo] is Chinese American, but she definitely reads as white, and I think that is not a coincidence.

*Your critique is not just about the way the roles were cast, but also about the way that the supposedly “color-blind” casting has been deployed as a way to buttress the credibility of the project.*

Totally. Basically what the supposedly color-blind casting does, is it gives “Hamilton,” the show, the ability to say, Oh, we’re not just telling old, white history. This isn’t your stuffy old-school history that’s just praising white people. Look, we’ve got people of color in the cast. This is everybody’s story. Which, it isn’t. It’s still white history. And no amount of casting people of color disguises the fact that they’re erasing people of color from the actual narrative.

*Can we talk about the question of the bootstraps narrative a little bit? The musical relies on it, and it’s grafted on this hip-hop aspect of the story …*

This idea that if you’re smart enough, you can write your way out of the projects, kind of a thing? I do think it accounts for why the musical has been so popular among conservative commentators, who fucking love it. The bootstrap ideology is just super strong in how it’s presented; it’s emphasized over and over and over again from literally the very first line of the show, the idea that this man is coming from nothing and he pulls himself up to become this incredibly important person, and that he does it through the power of his mind. One of the first lines says that Hamilton “Got a lot farther by working a lot harder/ By being a lot smarter/ By being a self-starter.” It’s this idea that we have in this country that the American Dream is achievable if you work hard enough, and if you are poor and unsuccessful, it’s because you didn’t try, and therefore you deserve what you have, or rather what you don’t have. And it fits, frankly, with what Miranda said about how he identifies with Alexander Hamilton. In interviews, he’s repeatedly said that he wants to be like him, he looks up to him; in one interview, he also compares him to his father, a political power-broker in New York state, and in some ways you could say that Miranda’s family fits into that bootstrap narrative. His dad came as an immigrant from Puerto Rico and was successful, and you know, his son went to Wesleyan and became Lin-Manuel Miranda! It’s a politically dangerous narrative, because it has the tendency to obscure the ways in which so many people are blocked from those kinds of opportunities.

*My last question is: What’s it like to criticize something that everyone loves?*

[Laughing] Honestly, I haven’t been getting a bad reaction. I’ve only been hearing from people who like the article. I actually heard from [writer] Junot Díaz last night, he just wrote me out of the blue and said, “I love the article, it was really important.”

*That’s amazing!*

Yeah! And I honestly haven’t heard from anyone who says something negative about the article. I think enough people today are exposed to the idea that all your faves are problematic, that there’s no such thing as pop culture that isn’t biased and hugely problematic in all kinds of ways. So I think that helps. I have a good friend who’s a huge fan of the musical who has not mentioned this article to me, though I know she’s read it! I think that’s partially because she doesn’t know what to say because she loves it so much. The last of the four responses to the article that the National Council on Public History is publishing is by [historian] Annette Gordon-Reed [author of several books on Thomas Jefferson and the Hemings family], and her response is awesome. She makes it really clear that she loves the musical, and it’s also problematic in all the ways that I describe.

And that’s how I feel. I’ve listened to the soundtrack I-don’t-know-how-many times. I want to see it again. I think it’s an awesome show. I grew up doing musical theater, and there’s part of me that still fantasizes about being on Broadway. And from the perspective of the theater and working actors, it’s incredible to have a show like this that foregrounds people of color so much, and that it would be such a massive hit that’s going to be touring forever and have regional productions, this is really incredible. It’s an awesome opportunity for so many actors. And I don’t want to downplay that, either. That’s the case with all important cultural works, right? They are not ever all bad.


interview with Lyra Monteiro, A Hamilton Skeptic on Why the Show Isn’t As Revolutionary As It Seems (Slate)

this interview brings up a number of historical & artistic points that are very good to bear in mind when receiving the show & looking at the show in cultural context…

but at the same time, much of it (the bootstrap narrative is the part that I agree with) seems to miss the point. it’s so focused on the past that it fails to account for the present & is largely critiquing the show for not being a completely different show from what it is. Hamilton is not a show that aims to say “we were also there then,” but rather one that says “we are here now.” (look around, look around.) it tells the story about how all the hip-hop outsiders can grab their power & build a nation. 

one’s fave will always be problematic & that’s a good thing to remember. & certainly the mainstream media likes to simplify things terribly & puff itself up with how the slightest bit of diversity is absolutely revolutionary. but critiques in this vein tend to presume a lot of ignorance on the part of the artists (who certainly have not forgotten about the issue of slavery, nor ever claimed heroism on that account) & to carry a weird vibe of “[this particular piece of media itself] doesn’t actually mean anything” that is incredibly dismissive toward the people to whom it is, in fact, something very meaningful.


“The importance of women as power brokers is reflected in the fact that the greatest tension within the dynasty… existed among rival mothers.” - Leslie Peirce

up in the air isn’t a flashy movie and i don’t think it’s endured as a classic the way other movies from around that time have, but to me it’s just… incredibly vital not only on a personal level but as a reflection of how the world felt in 2009, when everyone was roiling in hopelessness in the wake of the 2008 market crash… like lots and lots of other movies have been made about that moment since but more often than not from the perspective of wall street power brokers, and for up in the air jason reitman actually took out ads in the paper asking for people who’d recently been fired to participate in a documentary about job loss, and so a couple dozen of the people featured in the movie had never acted a day in their lives and were speaking totally candidly about their own experiences and it’s potent it’s really potent. because in a movie that is so fundamentally about isolation by choice and closing yourself off from human connection, to demonstrate that even in the loneliest moments of our lives when we’re being fired or being cast out, there is… so much unity there… how even the most painful and isolating day of your life can be something that everybody knows to some degree… anyway it’s 2 am time for sleep.

Neil Diamond and J. Cole Caught in the Crossfire as Irving Azoff and AEG's Booking War Escalates

A-list artists choosing Staples over The Forum can forget about playing Madison Square Garden, as Azoff and Jay Marciano clash over exclusives.

On Nov. 23, 2016, 10 days after William Morris Endeavor worldwide head of music Marc Geiger confirmed that his client Neil Diamond would play two August 2017 dates at the AEG-owned Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles, he emailed the arena’s vp of booking and events with bad news: He was moving the show to The Forum in nearby Inglewood, Calif., an arena owned by Azoff MSG Entertainment, after “getting squeezed” by one of its partners, longtime music power broker Irving Azoff.

Keep reading

“He was Russia’s Mad Monk,” writes Nina Martyris. 

“A pale, bearded, wiry, horny, green-eyed debauch who was the preeminent power broker of the Romanov dynasty in its waning years. A party fiend, a drinker, a healer and a prophet who was poisoned, shot, drowned, and burned by his enemies.

But was he really?”

The answer is, we’ll never know – but a new biography of Rasputin debunks some of the main myths, like his legendary sweet tooth. Read more here.

And of course, because YOU KNOW I CAN’T RESIST:

– Petra

if everyone pays the abrasax family (and any other soylent producers) real money for their monoproduct, what do the abrasaxi //buy//? the most valuable substance in the universe is something they mass-produce themselves, they more than anyone have an effectively infinite free supply

so what do they do with everyone elses money, and if they have so much of it, why did margaery pay anime hair and featherhawk in soylent?

it strongly suggests that credits do represent a soylent standard, and that the abrasaxi run effectively a barter economy, making them kingmakers and power brokers to whom all are indebted for their longevity

which is a good source for simmering resentment and a tiered series of impending rebellions from the bourgeousie down to the proles

man i hope this does well because i want them to just keep making sequels, this is such a delightful mashup of thor and riddick

I’ll be honest here I’m not exactly moved to tears for these GOP lawmakers who got shot. The man who did this was an unemployed sixty something year old who was angry at conservative politicians and Trump for waging a war on the working class and poor for the benefit of the wealthy. His anger was justified, even if his actions was appalling. And what’s more unlike most mass shooters he aimed his actions at the appropriate power brokers - elite politicians. These were no innocent lambs he was targeting.

While we’re still at a point where (controlled) violent insurrection against the state shouldn’t be encouraged and isn’t productive, there’s no way I can put this incident close to the same category as all the other mass shootings that have taken place. This is, in many ways, the logical outcome of a government that privies the few at the expense of the rich. You can’t wage class warfare and then be shocked when the desperate and subjugated lash out.

Remember that as the consciousness in humanity is expanding and growing to the light. So it is that the opposite is showing  its face more and more. The people are coming to know they cannot hide from who they are. Not any of you. There is no escape, beloved ones. You are all coming to realize that the only way you will create the change is by knowing who you are. Know thyself and know God. That is reflected everywhere outside of who you are. All of the years your governments and religious bodies and power brokers have hidden knowledge. They have worked secretly to control humanity. No longer. No longer will anything be hidden. Your power-brokers will only have power if you allow it. The way you disallow it is to take your sovereignty. You do not have to do anything to them. You will not change anything by fighting it. You will not change anything by suppression or repression. You will change it by changing who you are in your own estimation; in your knowing. That is your power-sourceness - who you are.
—  P'taah