A Writer’s Astrology




Writing takes imagination. It goes without saying that writers are magical thinkers. This means that we tend to be superstitious. We may love haunted houses and wild speculations, antiques and termite-hollowed logs. Many of us like astrology almost as much as we love gossip and the luxurious smell of new paperbacks. Unfortunately, most astrological sources do not gear their standard sign descriptions to the particularities of the novelist or poet. Everybody knows about the stubbornness of the Taurus. But how does that play out in terms of the writer’s life? What happens to the sexual energies of the Scorpio when translated into poetry? These are questions writers want answered, but there aren’t many places to go for the astrological skinny on the writing zodiac. Until now. Herewith, a writer’s astrology to satisfy all of your star-crossed curiosities.

(also, if you appreciate this article, please Check out my handmade oil paintings …

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If Only Your Stare Meant You Actually See Disabled People

If Only Your Stare Meant You Actually See Disabled People

Crutches & Spice

I can feel your gaze. If you think you’re being slick, you’re not. I don’t even have to look in your direction, I caught your head on a swivel from the moment you heard me coming. Am I odd to you? What is the story you’re concocting in your head about me? What will you take from me? What assumptions are you making? Are you using my body to pull yourself out of your mediocrity? Did you get the motivation you needed? Is this when you’ll get to know my name? Will you even ask? Or will you demand even more? Will you demand to know what’s “wrong” with me? Will you yell at me; tell me I’m faking? Will you pull out your camera? How many likes do you think you’ll get? Followers? Words of encouragement? Will you pray over me? In front of all these strangers? I wonder…

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A Seat At The Table

A Seat At The Table

A View from the Curve

Photo by rawpixel.com on Unsplash

I found myself actually asking for “a seat at the table” this week (in a conversation about a potential job).  I guess this post by Simon Ensor resonated so much in my mind that it came out in my speaking.

Simon asks us to consider what it means to have a seat at the table.  Whose table?  Who gets to sit there?  Who has the power?  Does everyone have power when they get a seat at the table?  Who is not invited to sit at the table? He examines all sorts of metaphorical and actual tables–the dinner table, the boardroom table, the inner sanctums of the seats of power and the moneylenders’ tables.

Here are a few examinations of my own.

The Experts’ Table

On Saturday, I sat at a table in a room full of tables.  I was happy to sit at that table…

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“Smile! You look tired!”


Behind on #npm18 #poetrybombing and #sol18 commenting. Follow GirlGriot’s blog for more about writing poetry and more poems

if you want kin, you must plant kin ...

My friend Lisa had a great opinion piece in the Times over the weekend that I just discovered this morning. How could I not try to find today’s poem in her words?

Today I was told not to look judgmental. Told this by a complete stranger on the subway platform. This, of course, is part and parcel of the “Smile!” nonsense that gets thrown at women. Feh.

“Smile! You look tired!”
(An erasure of Lisa Ko’s Times piece about quitting smiling.)

Women are often expected to smile,
make others comfortable.
Unnecessarily cheerful bluster,
Americans smile –
larger, toothier, intense –
a universal sign of the 20th century.
Smiling about a desire
for appeasement and artifice.
Nonverbal communication
is unpredictable, uncertain, suspicious.
The appearance of happiness
takes away our right to our feelings.
Appear happy,

It’s National Poetry Month! Every year, I choose a specific form and try…

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#Facebook still wants your #data


…according to today‘s MIT @TechReview newsletter The Download, “Facebook still wants to gobble up your data” (and more from today’s most important stories in emerging technology)

The company says it’s improving the way it handles your privacy—but with a business model centered on personal data gorges, don’t expect a total U-turn.

Backstory: Every Facebook user, except those in America and Canada, signs up to terms of service agreed with the firm’s HQ in Ireland. That makes every one of them eligible for increased protection under the EU’s new GDPR data rules.

The news: Reuters says Facebook will change that, so only European users are eligible. Users elsewhere would then be governed by (weaker) US privacy laws.

Facebook saysIt will extend new privacy measures to comply with the EU rules “to everyone, no matter where you live.” First in Europe, then the rest of the world.

But: Changing terms-of-service regions would give Facebook room to handle data differently for 1.5B users, and mean non-EU users have reduced legal recourse.

Plus: Sandy Parakilas, an ex-Facebook staffer who warned the firm about privacy issues, tells Wired that the company’s new privacy setting pages to comply with EU rules “manipulate you into doing the thing they want.” Which is, handing over data.

Bottom line: Facebook depends on data. It won’t be rolling over to give it all up.

Utopia and populism


occasional links & commentary


Much has been made of the rise of populism in recent years and the threat it poses to liberal democracy.

My view is that liberal critics of populism, standing on their heads, get it wrong. If made to stand on their feet, they’d have to admit that populism actually represents the failure of liberal democracy.

Populism has experienced a resurgence of late—in Hungary, Britain, France, Turkey, the United States, and elsewhere—especially the form of populism variously characterized as right-wing, nationalist, or authoritarian. It has attracted increasing support and achieved notable political victories within the institutions and procedures of liberal democracy.

The problem is that liberal democracy has failed to confront, much less solve, the problems that have led to the rise of populism in the first place.



Consider, for example, the history of populism in the United States. The three notable periods—in the late nineteenth century (with the rise…

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Dystopia and global poverty


occasional links & commentary


This post is for all those dedicated activists and teachers, such as mfa, who are committed to teaching about and creating the conditions to eliminate global poverty and economic injustice.

I have been writing of late about utopia—for example, with respect to classes and the right to be lazy.

But the world economy today represents exactly the opposite, a dystopia of extreme poverty for hundreds of millions of people (768.5 million in 2013 according to the World Bank, or 10.7 percent of the global population).


And as Angus Deaton reminds us, those struggling to survive in conditions of extreme poverty aren’t just “over there,” in the Third World. Notwithstanding the focus of the World Bank-sponsored campaign to eradicate extreme poverty and the ubiquitous appeals on behalf of the needy in poor countries, a large portion—approximately 14 million people—live in wealthy countries—some 5.3 million in the United States alone.


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Returning American, Fresh Remote


maps and places along the way


I hold US citizenship and always have. I have also lived abroad for the majority of my adult years. When I enter the US anymore, it is as both citizen and visitor. This is both strange and normal at the same time.

I don’t consider myself much of a traveler. I like to go places and stay there; observe the people, try the foods and then come home again. I have been to some places often but not to tons of places. Even if I am resident in a country of my choosing, I remain a foreigner, an immigrant. Living in a foreign country is what I do. It’s a big part of who I am.

When I return to the United States I no longer return home which would be Cleveland, Ohio. No, I go where the people are: to see family in Georgia, to conferences where they are…

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How Much is Too Much to Save a Dying Cat?

How Much is Too Much to Save a Dying Cat?


s.e. smith | Longreads | November 2017 | 17 minutes (4,363 words)

The veterinarian looks anxious as she enters the room, clearly dreading the conversation she must have many times a night on the late shift at the emergency clinic.

Yes, your pet is dying. No, I’m afraid there’s not much we can do, she is bracing herself to say.

Her scrubs are a rich maroon, coordinating with the jewel-toned surroundings of the hushed exam room in the swanky clinic. Thick doors block the sound from outside, the interstitial space where they’ve left me alone in an echoing silence with a grim steel table and a box of tissues after the technician rushed my cat to the back, somewhere in the bowels of the hospital. The last time I saw her she was gasping for air, eyes huge, expression: betrayed.

I wonder if I will see her again.


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From highway to master


occasional links & commentary


Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations makes for uncomfortable reading these days. That’s because, as my students this semester have learned, the father of modern mainstream economics—who has become so closely (and mistakenly) identified with the invisible hand—held a narrow theory of money and advocated extensive regulation of the banking sector.

This is contrast to the obscene growth of banking in recent decades, which Rana Foroohar observes “isn’t serving us, we’re serving it.”

According to Smith, the “judicious operations of banking” did nothing more than convert dead stock into active and productive stock—”into stock which produces something to the country.”

The gold and silver money which circulates in any country may very properly be compared to a highway, which, while it circulates and carries to market all the grass and corn of the country, produces itself not a single pile of either. The judicious operations of banking, by providing, if…

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