Random (but not really)

Sunday, January 26, 2020

Exclusion Covenants & Generational Poverty

Something that the right conveniently ignores is how systemic racism has kept minorities from accumulating wealth in the same manner non-minorities have for decades.

Consider ghettos, which were originally areas where Jews were segregated. The modern sensibility no longer thinks of religious segregation when ghettos are mentioned, but as areas where poor brown people lived in public housing.

Except that really it’s the same thing.

Exclusion Covenant

Mar 20, 1945

…the said land or buildings theron shall never be rented, leased, or sold, transferred or conveyed to, nor shall the same be occupied exclusively by any negro or colored person or person of negro blood.

I regularly hear “conservatives” claim that people should pull themselves up by their own bootstraps (which is QUITE LITERALLY something that is defined as impossible) completely ignoring the systemic racism that forced minorities into these ghettos where poverty and violence thrived, and where even if someone wanted an education, what was available to them was in no way comparable to that available to children not trapped in ghettos.

Before it was torn apart by freeway construction in the middle of the 20th century, the Near North neighborhood in Minneapolis was home to the city’s largest concentration of African American families. That wasn’t by accident: As far back as the early 1900s, racially restrictive covenants on property deeds prevented African Americans and other minorities from buying homes in many other areas throughout the city.

What continues to astound me is that so many West Virginians–who should understand systemic and generational poverty because it is inherent across the state–are blind to the same forces that keep WV struggling doing to same to others.

It’s the same process. The same forces. The difference is that the majority of us in WV aren’t doubly burdened by out skin color.

Racial covenants were tools used by real estate developers in the 19th and 20th century to prevent people of color from buying or occupying property. Often just a few lines of text, these covenants were inserted into warranty deeds across the country. These real estate contracts were powerful tools for segregationists. Real estate developers and public officials used private property transactions to build a hidden system of American apartheid during the twentieth century.

For centuries, the powerful have used poverty and segregation to keep “undesirables” “in their place”. It’s why mine owners used company scrip and had company schools and fought the unions tooth and nail: so they could maintain their wealth by keeping workers from rising above their station.

I understand that white privilege is something that makes no sense to rural West Virginians, who have been struggling with generational poverty themselves and so feel as if they don’t have any privilege, so this must be some kind of bullshit.

But it’s not.

However, those in power are going to push the narrative that it is, to push division between groups that have so much in common, so they can continue to maintain power and increased their own wealth.

I don’t have any solutions. I don’t even have the personal strength to fight power.

But I’m tired of being quiet about it.

When Minneapolis Segregated (https://www.citylab.com/equity/2020/01/minneapolis-history-housing-discrimination-mapping-prejudice/604105/)
Mapping Prejudice (https://www.mappingprejudice.org/)

Written by Michelle at 9:41 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Politics  

Saturday, January 25, 2020

Guo Nian!

Guo Nian!

Happy Year of the Rat!

If you were born in a rat year, you are considered to have spirit, wit, alertness, delicacy, flexibility and vitality.

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Holidays  

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Well, That Only Took a Decade


Not kidding.

This picture was November 2010:


Mind you, I did all the squares in about a month. Set everything aside for several years, put all the squares together in about a month. Set it aside for awhile. Did the backing and quilting two years ago, then waiting another two years (until today) before I finally bound the thing.

It wasn’t hard, it just took stretches of time where I wasn’t struggling mentally, and didn’t have anything else happening, and that was a bit of a rarity.

So unlikely to take on another quilt, but may well make clothes again (assuming I can find patterns and fabric).

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Categories: Sewing  

Monday, January 20, 2020

I Am Proud To Be Maladjusted


There are certain technical words within every academic discipline that soon become stereotypes and cliches. Modern psychology has a word that is probably used more than any … It is the word “maladjusted.” This word is the ringing cry to modern child psychology. Certainly, we all want to avoid the maladjusted life. In order to have real adjustment within our personalities, we all want the well?adjusted life …

But I say to you, my friends … there are certain things in our nation and in the world (about) which I am proud to be maladjusted and which I hope all men of good-will will be maladjusted until the good societies realize. I say very honestly that I never intend to become adjusted to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry. I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, leave millions of G-d’s children smothering in an air tight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society. I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, to self?defeating effects of physical violence.

I’m … convinced … that there is need for a new organization in our world. The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment – men and women who will be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos, who in the midst of the injustices of his day could cry out in words that echo across the centuries, ‘Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.’ As maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln who had the vision to see that this nation would not survive half?slave and half?free. As maladjusted as Thomas Jefferson who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery would scratch across the pages of history words lifted to cosmic proportions, ‘We know these truths to be self?evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator certain unalienable rights’ that among these are ‘life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.’

Through such maladjustment, I believe that we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr., at Western Michigan University, 18 December, 1963

Written by Michelle at 7:11 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Holidays,Politics  

Friday, January 17, 2020


I never make new year’s resolutions.

They don’t work for the majority of people, and I don’t need the guilt of failure.

But that doesn’t mean goals aren’t important.

I had a list of goals I wanted to achieve before I turned 40.

Thus I decided. What I want to do by the time I turn forty is to be comfortable with myself as I am. I want to be able to look in a mirror and be happy with what I see, and be comfortable in my own skin.

And I think I did okay! I learned how to put on makeup (even if I still never wear it), I learned how to deal with my hair, and I worked very hard to become comfortable with my body. The latter is still (of course) a work in progress, but I’m so much better at accepting myself as I am than I was in my 20s.

I achieved a lot over the past decade as well, aside from my goals. I went to Alaska (twice!), I left jobs that made me miserable and found a job I absolutely love, we hiked all the state parks and forests in WV, and I’ve learned a ton of new skills as I’ve taken on renovation and building projects I never would have considered myself capable of.

So I’m thinking about what goals I want to achieve by the time I’m fifty–which is this year.

So as part of my continuing goal of working to accept myself as I am, what might be some fun goals in the coming months, towards self-acceptance and becoming a better human.

Caveat: my mental health comes first, so it can’t be anxiety-inducing, or dangerous such as attempting tasks that are beyond me (sword-fighting with edged weapons (too clumsy), walking on a high wire (no sense of balance), memorizing pi (I can’t hold numbers in my brain), or becoming a portrait painter (I lack hand-eye coordination); you’ll note that a lot of things things are due to my lack of coordination–something I AM comfortable with.)

I’ve thought about a photo shoot. A friend of mine did one for her 50th and it was so lovely and marvelous and just accepting of her as she is. I’ve considered changing my fitness goals. I need more weight-wearing exercise, but I find it SO. BORING.

So any thoughts for goals I might set and or how I might achieve and change what I have been doing?

Written by Michelle at 12:02 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Random Notes from All Over  

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

The Books of 2019

It’s time for the yearly wrap up of what I read in 2019.

Covers I Hated
Fantasy Covers I Adore
Lovely Romance Covers
Mystery Covers
LGBTQ Fantasy
LGBTQ Romances
LGBTQ Mysteries

I read quite a bit this year, but there was a good deal of re-reading, so even if a book was excellent, it if was a re-read from a previous year, it most likely won’t make the round up.

However, you can go to my book blog and browse the categories for 8/10 and 9/10 and the re-reads I loved from this year will appear there.

And those are the books of 2019!

I’m always looking for recommendations–PLEASE tell me what awesome books you read this year and want to share!

Written by Michelle at 8:00 am      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading  

Monday, December 30, 2019

The Books of 2019: Stats Wrap Up!

It’s now time for me to GEEK OUT and talk about STATS!

I read a lot this year. Not as much as in 2017 when I was really struggling with, well, everything, but I hit 200 book read in November.

I did not read a single paper book this year.

To be clear, I got new cookbooks, which are paper, and which I used, but I didn’t read enough of the books to feel okay reviewing them. And I wanted to go back and re-read a couple series which I had in paperback, only to discover that I loaned out the first book in the series at some point, and have no idea where that book is. And those books aren’t available in electronic format. (Bruce Alexander‘s Sir John Fielding series, starting with Blind Justice for one.)

I did listen to audio books (five for the year) but when we started the bathroom remodel, I switched to podcasts, which are easily interruptible when using power tools or making a lot of noise.

Here’s a look at how my reading habits have changed since I got my first eReader.

There is a lot less variety in how I read than there used to be, and there is a two-pronged reason for this. First, I started needing reading glasses–but don’t need glasses at any other time. It is SO EASY to just make the font size larger on a kindle–no glasses needed! No worries about where I’ve set my reading glasses, no worries about having to take the glasses off to look at something away from the book–just reading. Second, even before the advent of ebooks, I rarely read hardback books. They were (even then) just too heavy and impossible to read one handed. Then reading paperbacks for extended periods of time started to hurt my hands, and that’s when the shift began.

The multiple formats and re-reads are related, but not always directly. Once I fell in love with eBooks, I started getting some of my favorite books as eBooks. In fact, I have an entire private wish list just to watch for old favorites going on sale. Also, I cannot listen to most fiction unless I’ve already read the book. Feel free to analyze, but it’s just how my brain works. So almost every audio book is also a re-read.

Also, now I’m looking at this data, I’m wondering where library books should fit in. If an ebook of a book I own in paper is very expensive, I’ll immediately see if it is available to borrow from the library, either as an eBook or as an audio book. So over the last couple years, a lot of library borrows were rereads. Plus, I’ve also been using the library to branch out my reading, borrowing books I’m not sure if I’ll like. If I don’t like it–nothing but time lost!

I can probably add this information on pretty easily going forward. We’ll see.



Next up–author gender and book genre.

I have always read a lot of female authors. In fact, when I first ran into the trope of guys talking about there being “no good female SFF authors out writing” I thought it was a joke. I’ve always read a lot of female authors, and assumed (correctly the overwhelming majority of the time) that an author publishing under their initials was a woman.

I fully admit this chart is pretty bad. There is a LOT of data here, and to make matters worse a single book can have multiple genres (a romantic fantasy, a supernatural mystery). This means the numbers in the right axis add up to half again as many books as I read this year, which can seem initially wrong.

The trend to note, however, is that even when I wasn’t reading romance at all, I was still reading mostly female authors. This year I overwhelmingly read female authors, partially because I read a lot of romance, but mostly because I have been trying to escape the toxic masculinity that has been saturating our culture. I just can’t handle ugliness in my escapism right now.

I’ve always wanted to read about women standing up for themselves and getting things done. I just have very little tolerance for male bullshit these days. Right now the only author I’m pre-ordering that might fit that stereotype is Andrea Camilleri (who died this past summer). And although he doesn’t do a good job with writing women, and the treatment of many of his female characters is not so great, the stereotypical masculinity of the characters is almost a parody. For example, Mimi isn’t lauded for sleeping with anything in a dress. Salvo is an asshole, but he’s equally an asshole to everyone (especially Mimi). Plus, he was 93 and mostly blind by the time he died, so I’m willing to cut him some slack.



Break time! Here’s my most insane chart. I keep it just for amusement purposes.

Genres by year

That’s the number of books I read each month. 2004 & 2017? Those aren’t typos.



OK, some numbers I just started tracking last year: Character Gender, Character Race, and Character Orientation.

Character Gender is skewed heavily male this year, even though I read so much romance, because I read a LOT of books with M/M romance.

character gender

That gave me far more male lead stories than in the previous year, although It’s not unreasonable–twice now I’ve re-read my collection of Robert B Parker Spenser mysteries (32 books). Another year I re-read all of Donna Leon’s Commissario Brunetti series (now 28 books).

However, for my sanity I didn’t go back to fill in those categories from past years. We’ll just see how these things go going forward.

Character Race is still skewed heavily white, but I have been trying hard to read more books with character of color.

character race

Part of my problem with this category is that I really do love historical mysteries and romance, but have zero interest in reading much set in the US prior to reconstruction, because it’s all but impossible not to bring up slavery if the book has any historical accuracy. I don’t want sanitized history, but I really can’t handle reading about the horrors and atrocities that happened in the US for so much of our history.

I know full well the world is and has been a horrible place. If I am to remain functioning, I have to push the bad things to the back of my mind. I know this is a weakness, but it’s one I accept to allow myself to get out of bed in the morning.

It’s part of my first-world white privilege and I am both aware of it and thankful for it.

(I’ll note, however, that KJ Charles does an excellent job of having characters of color in historical England. Just in case you were looking.)

As I noted, I read a LOT of M/M books this year, so that means I read a LOT of LGBTQ books.

character orientation

As I’d noted in earlier posts, I generally dislike boinking books, yet the overwhelming majority of LGBTQ books I’ve come across are boinking books. What this means is that they had compelling stories to keep me reading. So you might want to keep that in mind if you’re looking for a new author to read.

The Books of 2019

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Categories: Books & Reading  
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