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DODGING EROS: Grown-Ups Getaway Giveaway 1/4--2/20/2016

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Monday, May 15, 2017

Dodging Eros e-Formats Sale 5/15--5/26



inspired by supportive small publishers with mighty hearts, the summer reading season and upbeat, diversity-is-mainstream contemporary erotic (non-BDSM) fiction about grown-ups in love 

Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Jackpot

Finding never-used overstock hardcover and trade paperback books at the $1 store satisfies the cravings of my inner book hoarder.

inspired by an insatiable need to be #bookrich

Monday, April 17, 2017

From the Bibliocrimes Files: Coffee Rings

Illegal smuggling of Arabica plants? No.

Book vandals who set their dripping coffee mugs to mark their place in a library book! (Odds are high that they don't do that to books they've purchased for their personal collections.) Someone owes W.E.B. Griffin, William E. Butterworth IV and future borrowers of this book an apology.

inspired by carelessness with shared resources

Monday, March 27, 2017

EPA Rematch

Someone shared this recent political history reminder with me over the weekend. It encouraged me to remember to keep fighting the ethical, environmentally sane fight regardless of significant challenges and setbacks (Flint, MI, Corpus Christi, TX...). Hope it does the same for you.

An insurgent Republican captures the White House and unleashes a furious, in-broad-daylight assault on our environment. He installs a champion of polluters at the EPA, who moves to cripple the agency, slashing its budgets, undoing public health protections across-the-board, and all but ending enforcement actions against bad actors.
    Donald Trump, right?
    Yes ... but also Ronald Reagan.
    We have seen this movie before, colleagues, albeit the circumstances differ in key ways.
    This brief account of how environmentalists a generation ago fought back offers up lessons-learned and tactics worth emulating.

Before Donald Trump, there was Ronald Reagan

When the Reagan Administration in the 1980s launched its all-out attack on environmental and public health safeguards, we and our allies  mounted an unprecedented mobilization effort that exceeded expectations -- an object lesson for all of us in the trenches today.

``Environmental organizations launched an effective counter-mobilization that included aggressive fundraising, publicity, and coordinated action with congressional allies,’’ recalled Rutgers University political scientists Daniel J. Tichenor and Avram Fechter. That effort, they wrote, showcased ``the resiliency of many oppositional groups even when they are under assault from a breakthrough president.’’

Like Trump, Reagan appointed an EPA administrator (Anne Gorsuch) who opposed the very mission of the agency.

So drastic were Reagan’s proposed EPA budget cuts that a 1982 Washington Post headline read: ```Strangulation’ Budget Revealed for EPA.’’

By 1983, the agency's budget had been slashed 30 percent and its workforce reduced from 14,269 to 11,474. EPA enforcement actions plummeted by 84 percent during Reagan's first year in office.

Gorsuch had ``induced many of its best professional staff to quit, and has sabotaged the agency's enforcement effort by continual reorganizations and cutbacks. She has scrimped on the science and monitoring that must underlie effective regulation,'' a 1983 New York Times editorial fumed.

But environmental groups fought back with a vengeance. Leaders of 10 large environmental groups, calling themselves the Group of Ten, forged an alliance and set out to show Americans exactly how the Reagan Administration’s actions were imperiling their well-being and quality of life.

NRDC and the other environmental groups produced two influential reports that helped turn the public against Reagan's war. We also delivered to Congress a million signatures on petitions calling for the ouster of Interior Secretary James Watt. A grassroots group, called ''Save EPA,''  sprang up. NRDC published an ad in the Washington Post, styled as an open letter to EPA staff, with this message: ''Don't Give Up.''

The first report was called ''Indictment: The Case Against the Reagan Environmental Record.'' It summarized 220 administrative policies and actions that undermined efforts to control pollution and protect public health.

``We found an across-the-board pattern of lawlessness and heedlessness with regard to the nation's natural resources unequaled since the days of the robber barons a century ago,'' NRDC's Richard Ayes told the New York Times. Some 7,000 printed copies of ''Indictment" were to be distributed to members of Congress, stakeholders and the public.

The second report was called ``Hitting Home,'' a 66-page document that detailed an array of imminent health threats, such as dangerous levels of the insecticide toxaphene in Great Lakes fish, risks of pesticide contamination faced by Texas farmworkers in the Rio Grande Valley and damage caused by acid rain from New England to Wisconsin and Michigan.

''The hundreds of people across the country who helped prepare this report are angry and more than a little frightened. They believed the laws were in place to protect their health, their land and the extraordinary beauty of their nation's great parks. Now all this is cast in doubt,'' said ''Hitting Home.''

The report concluded that the severe budget cuts at EPA would make it more difficult for states to carry out their own air, water, hazardous waste and pesticide programs. Said the New York Times:

``The report specifically criticized EPA's cuts in aid to help states carry out their own air, water, hazardous waste and pesticide programs... It said the grants had been cut by up to 50 percent at a time when state legislatures were unable to take over the programs. In New York State, officials have said the cuts may force them to shut down half the state's 250 air monitoring stations.''

The report itself added:

``California, the Carolinas, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, all tell the same stories: less sampling of air and water quality, cursory reviews of permits for new sources of pollution and fewer inspections of existing sources.''

''Hitting Home'' found that the administration's cut in funding for research into Great Lakes pollution -- from $30 million to $3 million -- had forced the virtual shutdown of the environmental agency's Large Lakes Research Laboratory at Grosse Ile, Mich. That's the very lab that had found the levels of toxaphene in Great Lakes fish were double the allowable federal limit.

The report also said the administration's refusal to issue tighter air pollution standards on coal-burning factories and power plants was leading to the death of hundreds of lakes from acid rain. It estimated that the loss in fishing and tourism business in New York and New England was $2.5 billion a year.

And that problem is spreading, ''Hitting Home'' warned, noting that 2,200 lakes and 1,700 miles of streams in Wisconsin and Michigan could be in jeopardy because of high levels of acidity.

The report concluded that the administration had done nothing to crack down on improper pesticide spraying in the Rio Grande Valley in Texas, even though large numbers of workers had experienced symptoms of pesticide poisoning.

In the face of such threats, it was no surprise that environmental groups saw a surge in membership and contributions; at the same time, public officials encountered a widespread public backlash against the Reagan Administration's environmental policies.

A New York Times/CBS News Poll in the fall of 1981 found a large majority of the Americans supported strong protection of the environment even if it required economic sacrifice.

``The poll results suggest that the policies of the Reagan Administration, which would relax environmental laws to ease the economic and regulatory burden on business and industry, are out of tune with the sentiments of most Americans,’’ the New York Times said.

The resistance movement grew to such an extent that ``even many business leaders became apprehensive, in part because they needed an EPA whose actions were predictable and whose officials were competent, and partly because they recognized that, as the traditional public villains of environmental politics, they would be the ultimate victims of political recriminations if the public believed that EPA was being corrupted,’’  Richard N.L Andrews wrote in ``Managing the Environment, Managing Ourselves: A History of American Environmental Policy.’’

The Reagan Administration's overreach even turned off some Reagan's allies. For example, Wyoming Sens. Alan K. Simpson and Malcolm Wallop ended up co-sponsoring legislation that sought to bar oil and gas exploration in their state's wilderness areas. ``Constituent pressure,'' a Simpson aide explained.

``It's hard to get up and argue that you have to let the big steel and chemical companies pollute so they can make more money,'' another Hill staffer said. ``There are a lot of voters who are still suspicious of Big Business. People can see clean water and they know when they're breathing clean air. But many of them don't understand why they should give these up to promote productivity.''

One environmental activist told the Washington Post: ``These guys don’t want to go home and explain how they voted to gut a pesticide bill or a clean air bill.’’

At the end of the Reagan era, to be sure, eight years had been lost during which significant progress could have been made toward a safer, cleaner environment. But as the N.Y. Times also noted in 1989:

``... the environmentalists acknowledge that their worst fears were not realized... (and) the laws, agencies and public lands survived the Reagan years more or less intact.’’

Colleagues: Thanks for reading. The threats we face are even more dire than during the Reagan era, but we are stronger, smarter and better resourced than ever before. And given the strong public support for environmental protection and  climate action, we can do even better than our elders did in the 1980s. We must.

NRDC Action Fund

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Black Card


Credentials, please.

Unlike the black Amex that has no limit, the boundaries for black people are constantly being reduced and redrawn according to arbitrary standards of authenticity and legitimacy depending on the narrowness of the mindset of the person/s sitting in judgement.

It's 2017. We're all human beings.

Shouldn't this debate about who's authentically black have expired by now? (Coming from someone who was called Oreo, zebra, etc. in school.)

Saturday, January 14, 2017

The Golden Rule


It took me a few days to gather my thoughts about the content of this mural. My first reaction was that if those of us who are members of marginalized groups want to be seen as full-fledged human beings of equal intrinsic value by the police and all of society, then we need to offer the same consideration in return.

My next thoughts were about freedom of expression and art as social commentary, peaceful protest and non-violent rebellion against the status quo. If it's a choice between a mural with dehumanizing imagery or a physical clash of civilians versus law enforcement, the art is the lesser offense (at least in the short term). But for me, depicting cops as pigs is as offensive and dehumanizing as depicting black people as monkeys. Neither image contributes to creating a society where every person's humanity and citizenship are equally acknowledged, respected and protected.

Friday, December 9, 2016

The Political In/Correctness Continuum

On Thanksgiving weekend my reaction to reading this piece https://www.arcamax.com/entertainment/humor/belowthebeltway/s-1897248 by Gene Weingarten led me to e-mail him at the address listed at the end of the article. The following thread is the result of our exchanges so far. Attempts to verify that G.W. actually wrote the response sent from his e-mail address received no reply.

[This is my mindset whenever people complain about political correctness in the 21st century.]
Political correctness in not new in the U.S. or around the world. It's had many names and iterations: Jim Crow, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Indian Schools, the internment of American citizens of Japanese descent, the Salem witch trials, "no Italians/Irish/Greeks/Jews..." signs and policies, the Holocaust, the persecution of Alan Turing and other QUILTBAG people, the Rwandan genocide,,,

Until we decide to honor the truth that every human being's intrinsic value is equal to that of every other human regardless of superficial traits and external circumstances, we'll just keep killing each other in words and deeds.

I'm working toward the day when the U.S. Declaration of Independence is modified to say, "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all humans are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights..." I'm working toward the time when the words man and men are replaced with human and humans in every document pertaining to the rights, protections and privileges of citizenship and as members of the human race.

From: Cardyn Brooks
Sent: Monday, November 28, 2016 11:16:59 AM
To: Weingarten, Gene
Subject: about Cultural Confucian

About “Cultural Confucian” from the Sunday, November 27, 2016 The Washington Post Magazine

Obliviousness of Privilege Syndrome Strikes Again

You’re 65 years old now, which means you were 12 in 1963. That’s after the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, but before the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act of the 1960s. Were any of your schoolmates Americans of Chinese descent? Once your winning poster was distributed city-wide I wonder how many Chinese (or Japanese or Korean) American school children had to tolerate Anglo (and no, I don’t usually use white for skin color because in pigmentation white is the absence of color, and also, for me, labeling people as white supports racial superiority propaganda) classmates saying your slogan to them at intersections and crosswalks.
Many self-proclaimed liberals and unapologetically racist, sexist, homophobic, ageist, and other exclusionists voice the same complaint: Political correctness is so annoying and inconvenient.
Welcome to the club.
Emmett Till, Sean Bell, Trayvon Martin, Jordan Davis, Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, Jazz Alford and a long list of other black and brown and/or QUILTBAG people or members of populations whose intrinsic value as humans and citizens are routinely marginalized, discounted, dismissed and rejected are dead because they crossed paths with people who judged them, convicted them and executed them for being what they considered politically incorrect.
The 45th PEOTUS didn’t “hit paydirt” by attacking political incorrectness; he threw the well-churned mud of the effective divide-and-conquer strategies learned from Bacon’s Rebellion in the 17th century. When the Anglo indentured servants and enslaved Africans recognized their shared grievances against the privileged elites, the ruling class made inclusion in being white a distinguishing element of privilege, inherent superiority and innate worthiness of respect, recognition, access to resources, opportunities, citizenship, higher labor compensation and everything good in life.
It’s interesting that Eric Shansby’s illustration implies an unsafe environment (where “safe space” on the door seems to be ironic) shows three men and one woman, three of whom are Anglo with one ethnically fluid looking young man. Of course, the authority figure seated behind the desk with his finger on the reject button is an older Anglo man. Because even in the 21st century images of power are still disproportionately embodied by older Anglo men. 
When that changes maybe I’ll buy into your lament about political correctness.  

Cardyn Brooks
Baltimore, Maryland

On Thu, Dec 1, 2016 at 8:56 PM, Weingarten, Gene wrote:

Well.  Wow.  

Please explain how a poster of Confucius, held up as a paragon of wisdom, marginalizd Asians in 1962?  The pidgin English?  Sure.   I am well aware it would be declared cultural appropriation today.   In the context of the times, it was fine, unchallenged, unremarkable. 
That white guy at the desk was a caricature of me. 

Before you start lecturing me condescendingly on the murder of black people, the marginalization of cultures, the horrors of slavery!, well perhaps you should find out a little about my history.  I suspect I was marching on the front lines of human rights and civil rights and gay rights long before you were in diapers.   I don't want to make any assumptions about you, but I am guessing you are not very old.  You are certainly not yet very wise.  And yes, the fragile-flower fainting-couch collegiate attitude is something that is embarrassing to all of us who have actually lived through much more serious cultural problems, and joined the fray.   All of us. 

Read what you wrote again.  Police it for absurd, infantile condescension, and write to me again.  I'll answer it.

From: Cardyn Brooks 
Date: Fri, Dec 2, 2016 at 5:22 PM
Subject: Re: about Cultural Confucian
To: "Weingarten, Gene"

Thanks for responding. 

I did realize that the man seated at the desk represented you. Based on the content of your piece, it seemed like an illustration that focused on the young people judging you instead of your judging them would have been more consistent. 

Also, please note that in my e-mail to you there are no personal attacks or name-calling. (The "self-proclaimed liberals and unapologetically racist..." phrase was a generalization connected to a shared complaint.) On one side of my family I'm only the third generation removed from enslavement (my great-grandparents were first physically enslaved, then economically enslaved as sharecroppers) as well as the third generation of earning a college degree. What I wrote is my opinion. The core of my remarks is about point of view when it comes to complaints about the constraints and ridiculousness of political correctness, as if political correctness is something new. What's new is how many more people who aren't non-Anglo, non-hetero or whatever other traits are considered mainstream are getting tripped up by it.  

My references were not intended as condescension, but as context for my thoughts whenever people complain about political correctness. Your reply to me contains every offense of which you accuse me. I didn't question your intelligence or your motives or social justice background. My references to your age weren't intended to be ageist, just to set context for my speculations about how Asian students may have been impacted by your winning poster. The vehemence of your response suggests that my comments struck a nerve. 

What upset me enough to write was the "Donald Trump's remarks were vile but..." Your vehement response to my e-mail echoes mine to that phrase. For me, "Donald Trump's remarks were vile." is the full sentence without any type of acceptable justification. That's my opinion, which exists separate from any personal judgments about you. I don't know you, and you don't know me. 

There are times when my inherent privileges as a healthy, hetero, middle-class Christian woman make me oblivious, too. "Obliviousness of Privilege Syndrome Strikes Again" was meant to be as provocative as the content of your piece.  


On Sat, Dec 3, 2016 at 4:46 PM, Cardyn Brooks wrote:


Just trying to confirm that Gene Weingarten actually composed the response to my initial e-mail about his article from last Sunday's 11/27/2016 WP Magazine. 

Apologies if I've contacted the wrong department. 


From: Cardyn Brooks 
Date: Mon, Dec 5, 2016 at 6:54 PM
Subject: Re: about Cultural Confucian
To: an editor @washpost

The reason for my wanting to confirm that G.W. actually composed the response to my comments about "Cultural Confucian" is because I'd like to post the entire exchange (minus e-mail addresses) on my BlerdyBingeReader.blogspot.com to contribute to a deeper public conversation about the origins of political correctness in the U.S. Since his response is loaded with unfounded accusations and personal insults presented with an overall tone of a hysterical temper tantrum that's unexpected from a man of his level of achievement, I don't want to attribute this content to him if his assistant or a Washington Post staffer really sent it. 

The personal jabs are irrelevant to me. G.W. is entitled to his opinions and his First Amendment rights to express them. It's the contrasts between the substance and tone of my e-mail compared to G.W.'s that interest me. It's the fact that challenging the "back in my day political correctness didn't exist and life was grand" assertions generated such fury that he was able only to make one salient point related to my remarks about his being represented by the man behind the desk in the illustration. 

I plan to post the entire exchange this Fri.12/9 or Sat.12/10. If there's no verification from The Washington Post by COB this Thur. 12/8, I'll lead into the blog post with a caveat that although the response was received from G.W.'s e-mail address as listed at the end of his article, attempts to double check the identity of the author of the e-mail were unsuccessful.