Jan 20 2012

Spinster aunt downloads book

Mushrooms in the manure pile

Spinster aunts, it is widely known, are among the world’s foremost experts, but the relentless trickle of time can erode even the masterful chops of our giant spongiform lobes. Which is why it never hurts to burnish the old bean with a weltanshauung-enbiggening book every now and then.

As luck would have it, just as I was casting about for some new spore of knowledge to fill an empty spot in my iPad, somebody on the radio was interviewing the author of this book Mushroom. Mushroom, I am pleased to report, is all about “the triumph of the fungi.” Jackpot!

Writes shroompert Nicholas P Money, “On breezy days, the wind is full of invisible biology.”

You had me at “money,” Nicholas P Money!

Señor Money continues,

We are bathed in a soup of these procreative morsels and inhale the biosphere with every breath. If that doesn’t make you reach for nasal spray, consider that each mushroom that elbows itself from the ground sheds hundreds of millions, even trillions, of microscopic spores. As a source of airborne particulates, the mushroom is a masterpiece of natural engineering. [1]

Aunts like mushrooms and fun mushroom facts, it’s just that simple. For example, the eradication of fungi would occasion the immediate cessation of all life on this planet. Also, some of them are delicious. Also, any author who thinks “bathing in soup” works as a metaphor deserves a Savage Death Island you-go-girl. This book is for me!

[On a side note, this whole ebook thing: what’s your take? It’s always sad and traumatic and occasions nostalgic, purist paeans to the days of yore whenever the dear old childhood technology gets edged out by something more modern. Plato, for instance (or one of those other dead Greeks), was bummed when the written word started taking off. He thought it would be the ruin of civilization if people didn’t have to memorize everything all the time.

But aside from the comforting musty smell, I’m not convinced that paper books are, in praxis, superior to digital ones. For instance, although I relish the feel of a hardbound tome in my gnarled claw as much as the next aunt, in recent years my reading spurts have tapered off. Why? On accounta sitting down with a book, in the quiet of the afternoon, bathed in a soup of soporific sunbeam motes or, as it turns out, mushroom spores, in the cushy lounge chair every middle-aged aunt should own– it’s an insta-nap. I might as well wash down a handful of Ambiens with a handful of Lunestas. Whereas it remains an unexplained mystery, but I don’t experience this bookalepsy when reading from a screen. Which means that, since I started downloading my lit, I’m now actually reading 99.99% more of every book I start.

Also, if you cut and paste from an ebook into your blog, it automatically creates the footnote. Sa-weet.]


1. Money, Nicholas P. (2011-10-24). Mushroom (Kindle Locations 115-118). Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.

Photo: Jill Psmith. Mushrooms in the manure pile. Cottonmouth County, TX. January 2012.


Skip to comment form

  1. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Check out the review of this fascinating book at NPR:


    There were exciting videos of fungi sporulating included. My appreciation of this sort of thing has led my friends-n-relations to deem me weird.

  2. Pinko Punko

    I still fall asleep with the laptop, but maybe I do stay more awake because I get distracted by other electronic crap. But the book keeps you from flying into outer space because it usually rests comfortably right under the chinzoes, so there is that.

  3. Kaethe

    Let me go on record as being in favor of tasty mushrooms and in favor of ebooks. I like the total instant gratification of being able to download a book the moment someone recommends it to me (or, more likely, to download a sample). I like having scads of public domain works taking up zero shelf space in my home, and thus, not requiring dusting to remove the mushroom spores. I really like having a back-up book handy when I’m kept waiting interminably for some medical test. And I like lugging fewer books back and forth from the library.

    Since men tend to read fewer books, I’m curious how soon the ebook concept with become en-cootiefied by the unseemly femininity of reading.

  4. Sarah

    The unseemly femininity of reading! News to me, but now that I think of it, the few dudelios I do know that read books tend to do so in a Very Hyper-Masculine Way, typically adorning their reading spurts with lots of mansplaining and paeans to “the greats,” all of which are male and white of course. Preferably dead, unless they’re Tom Robbins.

  5. Ashley

    E-books have changed my life! As a graduate student who can’t seem to leave the house without a small library in my bag, my e-reader has alleviated my chronic back pain and ensured that I’m no longer so frequently in danger of paying overweight baggage fees at the airport.

    I have never enjoyed mushrooms-as-cuisine, but mushroom facts are delicious! Life on this planet would also cease to exist, interestingly enough, without bacteria. We are indeed beholden to the infinitesimally small for our very existence.

  6. IBlameRonPaul

    More eBooks (and other digital editions), more! They take up no room on a shelf, waste no trees, and create more jobs for designers and other creatives. And, if you’re a Blamer who needs bifocals, the type size can be blown up to as large as you need it. Hurrah!

  7. shopstewardess

    For the past 30 years the computer screen has taken technology back approximately 600 years to the age of the scroll. The ebook has reinstated, in electronic form, that brilliant invention “the page”.

  8. susanw

    I love my e-reader! (Happy, happy butt dance.) Daughter bought me one for my birthday last year, and it must be on my person at all times or I’ll go into withdrawal. If I read non-stop for the rest of my days, I wouldn’t get through all the public domain collections I have stashed away.

  9. tessa

    one of the many pleasures i get from the paperback is its feel in my hands: the weight; the cut and texture of the pages; the look of the cover; the smell of it. when i remember a story, i remember it’s words and meaning, but i also remember what it looked liked.

    but, if ebooks makes you actually read more, than that’s the choice you’ve got to make.

  10. Hippolyta

    I love almost everything about my e-reader, except the inability to share books. I know that Amazon and Borders claim to allow sharing, but that is only one loan on a small handful of books. Also, I enjoy when my friends and family write an inscription on the inside cover of a book they’re giving to me.

  11. Le Chat Noire

    I’m for the book in paper form. I can drop it multiple times and it still works. It doesn’t need software upgrades and it doesn’t run out of battery time. A book on my shelf will last my lifetime. I don’t think I can say that about the ebook readers which will likely be broken and/or replaced by the latest new-improved! shinier! faster! e-reading gadget.

    Like tessa, I also like the tactile feel of a book and the design.

    Books can be recycled with other paper products. What happens when e-readers become outdated? Probably most of it goes to landfill.

  12. Le Chat Noire

    Oh and if anyone hasn’t seen this:

    Announcing a new device called, “BOOK,” an acronym for “Built-in Orderly Organized Knowledge.”

  13. TriciaMilitia

    I have recently acquired an e-reader. Just today I’ve discovered how to borrow e-books from my local library. I think I’m beginning to meld with my hammock. Commence remote blaming!

  14. Tagmata

    Money’s books are, for the most part, excellent! I’d also recommend “Mr. Bloomfield’s Orchard” on the same topic. Oddly enough, they were one of the first things to be loaded onto my e-reader last year. For others interested in doing the same, be advised that unlike paper books, e-readers won’t always close instantly, and pictures of extremely phallic (and apparently leaking) fungi that appear on the screen can make air travel awkward.

    One note of irritation with Money’s books – his references to women are rare and sometimes unpleasant (there was a bit about Michelle Pfeiffer in one of his books for no reason other than the obvious, though I don’t remember the full context). I’ve scrapped a bunch of other science writers for the same reason; ibtp.

  15. Le Chat Noir

    How does my comment get out of moderation?

  16. Sistertongue

    Ah, how we all follow technology into the abyss. . .

    “As we caress our Kindles,
    take unto our beds our proverbial IPads,
    Espouse cyberspace’s sterile virtuosity,
    How far the spirals of the transcending universe
    Fall farther and farther from our grasp.

    Let us not twitter and facebook easily into that good night.”

    horatio, wherefore art thou?

    Are you hiding in wonderland?
    I suppose tis true
    And may we all come to lament
    the loss of our heavens,
    indigo blue.

    ya know, girlfriends, the more we venerate the things of dude-y cyber mind, the more we do, indeed, lose ourselves.

    This morning, I watched the waxing moon rise, late in the tail of scorpio. I know, in three nights, she will rise, in her new moon in sacred marriage with Capricorn, the dark moon entwined with the sun to conceive of the next month’s full moon birth.

    I do not know this because of simple soft-ware programs or mathematical calculations inside my PC screen.

    I know it because I stand, in the dark, before sunrise, standing in the bitter cold, marking her demarcations all on my own. Scent, smell and twinklings tell ME what she is doing and when her quietudes and fruitions shall come.

    When, oh when, will we turn to ourselves for intelligence?
    When will we stop purchasing the artificial detritus of a culture whose death is long overdue?

    I wonder, even here in this seeming safe place,this cyber space, this nowhere place.

    I wonder. Really. Is anybody real really out there?

  17. Kea

    Sistertongue, it is without technology that we will find the abyss, you idiot.

  18. Sistertongue

    A simple correction. I watch the WANING moon rise. She always does at this time of the month, heavy and full. In the tail of the scorpion, tomorrow in sag.

    I am, indeed, a professional astrologer,metaphysicist. But I do not stuff my face inside a cyber screen software program to tell me what I know already, standing in the cold snow landscape watching twinkling, jingling stars and planets move about in the heavens. I already know. I only use those programs to confirm the understanding and intuitions I already know. THAT is how it should be.

  19. Katy

    Fun facts from someone who had 3 great years out of a 20+-year career in print publishing! Paper companies are greater poisoners of water ways than they are denuders of forests; and book, magazine and newspaper paper use is dwarfed, *dwarfed* I tell you, by packaging use.

    As for ebooks, I consider them a poor copy and lower-quality experience than the use of a real book. Yes, I embrace my snottiness in this arena.

  20. VibratingLiz

    I was trying to read a dead-tree book the other day for the first time in several months, and kept catching myself tapping my thumb on the right side of the paper in a futile effort to make the next page appear.

  21. Sistertongue

    “Sistertongue, it is without technology that we will find the abyss, you idiot.”

    Thank you, most imminent, supreme priestess/empress KEA, for your faaaabuuuulous contribution.

    When women stoop to calling each other “idiots” we are, indeed, lost, uh, oh, most imminent supreme, uh, mistress KEA.

    I bow before you. And crawl, so slimely and backwardly, out the door Oh supreme beingingness.

    I kinda got the gist of the scene here, finally.

    All done, wish you well, most mistress of supremeness.
    your most lowly and IDIOTIC servant.

    Well done, your highness.

  22. TotallyDorkin

    Epic flounce.

  23. Sistertongue

    Ding Dong

    KEA has killed the wicked, wicked IDIOT witch.

    And her stupid, stupid dude-y dog, TOTO, too.



    Later mates, find me at my website from now on.

    Cacao! . . .

  24. Kea

    Innumeracy and anti-technology culture in women is one of the worst diseases of the P, the Barbie syndrome. Most of the women here realise this basic, undeniable fact, and understand that the extinction of humanity will probably come down to a loss of technology that results from some disaster, as the P is not well equipped to deal with disasters. A good understanding of meta-physics and astrology, if that is one’s interest, requires an advanced knowledge of physics and mathematics, which happens to be my field. So yes, I think you are an idiot.

  25. xtimu

    Until they have water-proof ebooks, I’ll not be excited to make the switch as I prefer to do my reading in a tub of hot water.

  26. Darragh Murphy

    Reading is a subversive act, more or less, for women– always has been. I love that with my kindle no one knows how many friggin books I’ve bought (there’s no tell tale PILE), and in order to even know what I’m reading a person would have to invade my personal space; they can’t just glance at the night table and know I’ve been bingeing.

    But yeah, hard to give up on paper books, what with the inscriptiOns and the ability to lend out, and, most importantly, their comforting, physical PRESENCE. I look around at my bookcases and am reminded of their continuous embrace.

    I did not mention the moon. Or any stars.

    Since I bought my kindle I’m back to junior high level of reading- 2 to 3 books a week. Why just yesterday I read a book at lunch and got halfway through another by bedtime.

  27. Darragh Murphy

    There’s a conundrum there though Kea in that the P has made it difficult for girls and women to excel in math and physics (as I know you know). Thumbing the old nose at the math club that won’t have you has been both a feminist act and a self defeating cycle. But, what to do? There are feminist places to analyze the culture (right here) but there aren’t many feminist places to practice math/physics or science.

    As I know you know. But it sucks, no?

  28. Sistertongue

    What is innumeracy?

  29. Hattie

    I sent off my Kindle 2, loaded with reads, to my daughter, when I got my Kindle 3. So you can share. Five devices, I think. I also got a Kindle Fire, which I mostly watch Netflix downloads on. I don’t like reading off a glossy LCD screen but much prefer e-ink, for serious reading stuff.
    What I like about the Kindle 3 with wi-fi and 3G is that I can download from anywhere. It has a built in dictionary and easy to use underlining and footnoting features.
    Love it!

  30. Darragh Murphy

    As an astrologer you must be intimately familiar with innumeracy. In fact you are an Innumerancer and didn’t even know it!

    Google. It’s your friend.

  31. Teaspoon

    Ebooks are convenient and a boon to privacy, which is fine and well for those who can access them, but that access does require the purchase or loan of a fairly expensive piece of machinery.

    Paper books can be expensive, but they can also be had more cheaply secondhand, and can easily be borrowed for free from a library. Ebooks are difficult for libraries to lend, and impossible to give away or sell to a secondhand bookstore.

    As women are disproportionately affected by poverty, they will also be disproportionately affected by any significant shift from paper to digital books. Even here, the patriarchy is ruining good things.

  32. Twisty

    I don’t know what you MoonSisterRainboWomyns are going on about. Knock it off or do it somewheres else.

  33. Lidon

    I haven’t gotten into the whole ebook thing yet, although as I’ve been moving around a lot, I’m sure it will come in handy at some point.

    Mushrooms are great! In college, they gave me a MoonSisterRainbow explosion and now, they add a nice flavor and texture to my alfredo lasagna.

  34. Keri

    I am about to out myself in front of the literate.

    I “read” more books last year than I have in a decade because I, gasp, subscribed to Audible and I just listened to them.

    The thing is, when I listen to a book with my hand dandy pod clipped to my waist, I can simultaneously “read” and get a whole lot of shit done around the homestead. Keeping my 70’s tract home of peace all upkept and what not takes time. And the truth is the time goes by so much better when I am listening to a good reader just go ahead and read me a good book.

    Scandalous, I know.

  35. buttercupia

    I love ebooks. My nook is a wonder to me. I can carry nearly unlimited books, magazines, newspapers, and angry birds with me wherever I go. I can get books from the library without leaving the house, a good thing when one has limited access to a car and the local transit doesn’t serve home or library. I can blow the type up as large as I need, make it as bright or as dark as suits, and I don’t have to find space in the house for bought books.

    I wish I could get into audiobooks, that way I could knit and read at the same time. But I hate being read to.

  36. buttercupia



  37. quixote

    @Le Chat Noire: A BOOK! Omigod. The concept. So simple. So elegant. And those PENCILS. Do you think they would work on the OPT? I can’t wait to try it.

    (Oh, and I’m still snorting and chuckling.)

  38. Saurs

    But can you drop an e-book thingie in the can, and then just fish it out and continue on with your day? CAN YOU, E-BOOK THINGIE FANS?

  39. Saurs

    (Don’t ever borrow a book from me. It likely fell into the can at some point.)

  40. IBlameRonPaul

    Whether you prefer being read to, or using a Kindle, or touching a paper book essentially comes down to how you absorb information best. Some of us are visual learners, some of us are auditory, and some of us are kinesthetic. While this is by no means perfectly scientific, you can try this quick diagnostic to see which style suits you best: http://people.usd.edu/~bwjames/tut/learning-style/. The results, and the questions used to determine them, seem accurate.

    This blamer is hybrid of visual and kinesthetic, leaning more toward visual, which means that aside from math and art, school was always hellish. Interestingly, the patriarchy maintains that only men (or primarily men, depending on the study) are strong in visual and spatial skills, which isn’t true. Under the P, women are simply discouraged from developing those skills, or showing interest in the talents stemming from those skills, like engineering and interface design. Patriarchy compliant behavior for the females of our species are limited to sitting still, listening quietly, and smiling politely.

    Blaming on a Friday night goes down better with vodka. Who knew?

  41. alamo

    “Some of us are visual learners, some of us are auditory, and some of us are kinesthetic.”

    This is a pop culture myth. Check out this article about research on learning styles:


    Or this video:

  42. alamo

    Yes I love the Kindle’s built-in dictionary! Just click on any word in any book and you’ve got the complete definition. Another plus is that it is so easy to read in bed–no need for a separate reading light.

  43. speedbudget

    I like the eBook thing, but I gotta tell you. Paper books win, hands down.

    First, I don’t have to turn my paper book off when the plane starts taxiing. I can smugly continue reading.

    Second, when I bring my paper book to the beach, I don’t give a flying fuck if it gets covered in sand, salt spray, and/or water. Oh, and I can see the screen under any circumstance, including the circumstance of bright-ass noonday sun with sunglasses on.

    Third, and this is purely a personal thing, but seeing the book (or more likely books) that I’m reading laying about the house is a kind of visual reminder to me that I need to read. I haven’t finished any of my eBooks, I think because they are so neatly stored inside the iPad and I don’t remember I’m reading them.

  44. Twisty

    “Another plus is that it is so easy to read in bed–no need for a separate reading light.”

    Yes! This is perhaps my favorite part. When I drift off it shuts itself down so I don’t have to wake back up to turn off the light.

    The glare of the iPad screen sucks, though.

  45. Twisty

    As for learning styles, it is the policy on Savage Death Island to cast a jaundiced eye at any dudeliocentric psychology that lumps all kids into one of three categories for the purpose of facilitating their assimilation into patriarchal society. The categories are meaningless; one bit of data to support my statement is the poster upthread who, in trying to fit herself into one of the categories, could not, and ended up creating for herself a fourth “hybrid” category. The “learning style” thing is an unsupported hypothesis from a psuedo-science field.

  46. alamo

    “The glare of the iPad screen sucks, though.”

    You should try the Kindle Fire.

  47. buttercupia

    The built-in dictionary on the e-readers is great. If you’re connected to a wireless network at the time, you can do a web or wikipedia search as well. But to each her own. And paper books are a lot more cost-effective than an e-reader, especially when you get into used books. The thing that bothers me is there is very limited lending on e-books. I can’t give it to someone else to read when I’m done, and I can’t read and release like I used to when I buy a book.

  48. josquin

    There are always so many good reasons to come here. This morning’s good reason is to see the “learning styles” nonsense getting a well-deserved kick. I’d like to suggest tossing the Myer-Briggs analyses into that same waste-bin of stupid pseudo-science. When I had a Myer-Briggs analysis done on me, the “counselor” looked at me with a certain amount of disapproval as he informed that that I somehow didn’t fit into any of the quadrants, and that my results were strangely spread out between the various categories. His demeanor suggested that there was something wrong with me rather than that the analysis was weak and useless.

  49. yttik

    Sistertongue makes a good point, we are losing things as we transition into technology. You really see it with the younger generation, social skills are changing, the way we relate to people is different, language has changed, and we’re becoming more disconnected from our environment. You may of course mock me for being a squishy brained nature girl, but environment is rather important if you’re walking down the street texting and there is an exposed manhole in front of you.

    One thing that’s really missing is the way we use our senses. Books were about touch, smell, sight. These are the things that help us lay down memory, that stimulate our brains. Technology is pretty sterile. Over the years I know I’ve lost my ability to do many things. I type so much, my handwriting abilities are nearly gone. I no longer do math in my head because I have programs do it for me. I also no longer categorize or organize info because whatever I’m looking for is usually available with a google search.

    One of my big concerns is what is happening to our problem solving skills. I recently encountered three kids completely cut off from the outside world because they spent hours trying to figure out how a rotary phone worked, to no avail. People today actually die from carbon monoxide poisoning trying to stay warm. There are numerous hazards awaiting people who are so disconnected from their environment, they are no longer aware it exists or how to deal with it. I’ve just spent a week snowed in with power outages and observed people making their lives a lot more miserable by dancing around like surprised cavemen who have never seen white stuff fall out of the sky. No matter how clever we think we are, mother nature always laughs last.

  50. Hari

    yttik–well spoken. I’m with you on and Sistertongue on this…even if I wish Sistertongue hadn’t laid it on quite so thick as to seem kinda condescending…which seemed to lead to KEA’s invitation to a pissing match.

    IBTP, because ‘domination’ is the name of that game…and girls can play it just as well as the boys these days.

    Whatever about all that, I’m proud to be a squishy-brained nature girl and I love some moon-and-star gazing along with swimming naked in wild water and making gardens for beauty and food.

    I also love mushrooms, and even knowing that every breath I take is loaded with all manner of life forms beyond just fungi spores. Apart from there being a gigantic variety of species, so many shapes, colors, etc…apart from the fact that some are delicious/nutritious, I love it that some are poisonous, or will at least give the ingester a great and glorious bellyache. Now THAT is some good info for a blamer to have…I mean, you never know when all that patriarchy-hating might have to be taken out on a hateful patriarch.

    Twisty, thanks for the book recommendation. Around here, we love some good reading on fungus (and other life forms, but we have a special place in our hearts for fungi).

  51. speedbudget

    I don’t understand the carbon monoxide thing. It’s a colorless, odorless gas. People have been dying from it since before technology. Please elaborate.

    I have known people who weren’t texting to walk into poles, etc., because they were either reading their book while walking or so engrossed in their conversation with their friend that they didn’t notice. I am one of those people.

  52. buttercupia

    Yttik, to me, books are about content, not about touch or smell. And technology doesn’t make us out of touch with our surroundings, a lack of balance does. One can be an environmentalist without eschewing technology. These days, the technology makes the cause more accessible to many people.

    In the accessibility vein, (and also the selfish vein) I am reading way more now that I have a nook because I can see the print far more easily. I can read without risking triggering a vicious headache now. I missed reading.

    Speedbudget, I have a friend who regularly walks down the street with his nose in a book. He’s been known to run into things.

  53. ivyleaves

    Most social science isn’t science – it’s patriarchy trying to justify itself. That said, separate learning categories as a way to try to get schools to teach kids more that just one way all the time has been very useful to help some kids. Too bad the patriarchy exacts its profit from it all with a huge ton of tests and test-givers and test-analyzers, when all they really have to do is diversify with tons of different ways of learning that help all kids succeed and none of them end up labeled as “disabled.” Gender performance is only one form of oppression to force people into convenient boxes that reduce our need to think about stuff.

    As far as “technology makes us lose abilities,” I’m finding hilarious to think that we shouldn’t have technology because some kids don’t know how to work obsolete technology like a rotary dial phone. I imagine most adults, even those as old as I, would be similarly flummoxed by the first phones with a crank to turn to call an actual human being on the other end to connect them up, and those long dead didn’t know how to use drumbeats to warn the village. We should all return to the first people state of knowing nothing, I guess. Then we’ll be checking out all of those poisonous fungi for the first time as well.

  54. yttik

    “We should all return to the first people state of knowing nothing, I guess.”

    Excuse me? Wow, way to slam many highly developed and civilized cultures. I guess if you aren’t part of the modern, highly advanced, ideal western culture, with our porn, rape, a murder, you know nothing about the proper way to live.

  55. judith weingarten

    @Shopstewardess, that is one, indeed two, very clever insights. Thx. Judith

  56. Twisty

    Technology is our only hope. It’s the Obe Wan Kenobi of the feminist revolution. We need to be able to grow fetuses in incubating robots. De-womanizing human reproduction is the only way to bust the cycle of oppression.

  57. ivyleaves

    yttik – way to misread me. I am talking more about adam and eve – deliberately did not say first nations.

  58. Hari


    I misread you the same way yttik did. I guess neither of us noticed your ‘deliberate’ choice of first people rather than first nations–then again, when intentions are not made clear enough with words (in a setting like this), that is not just the stupidity of the readers at work.

    I’m glad to have you clarify, though.

    Those of you who think technology is going to save us…you’re j/k, right? B/c what with global warming ramping up more rapidly than predicted (search methane venting in the Actic), severe energy issues too, in terms of our passing peak oil (and the growing body of dangers understood now w/fracking not to mention nuclear energy) so many extinctions every day…hard for me to believe technology will save us at all, before the collapse comes.

    I do agree that when it comes to using tech, it’s about balance in one’s life. Nothing automatic about losing skills by using tech…still, that balance has to be sought.

  59. alamo

    “all they really have to do is diversify with tons of different ways of learning that help all kids succeed and none of them end up labeled as “disabled.”

    And who do you think is expected to come up with all these “tons of different ways” to teach in their lesson plans? Teachers–most of whom are female. And if you are going to make me try a ton of different ways, you better show me some evidence that these ways are actually effective.

  60. Jezebella

    It would probably help if they, y’know, paid you more and gave you less students per class.

    Oh, wait. That would mean actually VALUING “women’s work.” Silly me.

  61. Jezebella

    Speaking of learning styles: Twisty, remember that time you likened today’s schools to concentration camps, and everybody got their knickers in a twist? Check THIS shit out:


    It’s about the criminalization of students in Jackson, MS schools – treating them like prisoners since, after all, if they’re poor and black they’re probably going to end up in jail anyway. This article is so infuriating I’ve not yet been able to finish it. I have to stop after a few pages, breathe for a few days, and get back to it. I suspect that Jackson’s alternative school is NOT the only place operating like a prison. They’ve sent kids to jail – JAIL – for sassing teachers, wearing the wrong color socks, or, dog help us, not SMILING when told to do so.

  62. yttik

    “De-womanizing human reproduction is the only way to bust the cycle of oppression.”

    Yeah, we always part ways on this idea. I’ve never found de-womanizing to be of any benefit to me as a woman. In fact, you could even say that most things that are wrong with society right now have a whole lot to do with the way we’ve tried to erase women.

  63. alamo

    “we’re becoming more disconnected from our environment”

    What about the Hubble?

  64. Carpenter

    Paper books have less points of failure, can’t be tampered with by external forces (the entire Amazon erasing your ebooks thing) and they will last longer than ebooks. Paper(if it the right kind)is some pretty sturdy hardware. E-media not only requires the hardware to survive, but also hardware and software to turn it for bits into books.

  65. Kea

    I’m not getting this technology vs nature BS. I live in the wilderness myself, alone with my laptop. Technology and nature in harmony.

  66. ivyleaves

    You are right, Hari, I should not have phrased that so personally to yttik. I did originally think of adam and eve, and certainly did not want to use a christian myth to illustrate the first humans. “The first people” is pretty generic. it did suggest to me “first nations,” but since it isn’t, I decided the thoughtful people here wouldn’t jump to that conclusion, and certainly wouldn’t assume I was slamming others over it.

    I guess no matter what, the first humans on earth have been appropriated for all sorts of things, but I figure they were just folks with no foundational knowledge. That does seem scary, hence they always seem to have to be explained by mythmakers.

    I barely got my son out of the educational system alive, and not going to bore you all with his details, but I did end up with a lot information about alternatives to the norm and evidence-based teaching methods. What teachers do best is finding the ones that work for specific students, and I don’t think it’s something any teacher should be starting from scratch on and doing alone. The worst approach is using one and only one evidence-based approached for an entire classroom. IBTP that there is no support for teachers in most of their endeavors, but plenty of blame.

    As far as the linked article by Jezebella – my son’s middle school in Oakland had it’s own police officer resident in the office before he left there. The State of California took over the district and dismantled everything good, due to a budget “crisis.” State government takeovers of the functions of locally elected officials, with money difficulties as the excuse, is creeping into many, many other arenas. Corporate profits run the show.

  67. alamo

    “The worst approach is using one and only one evidence-based approached for an entire classroom.”

    What if the evidence says that there only a handful of methods that are proven effective, and that nearly 100% of students will learn using these methods? Because this is what the evidence shows, at least in regard to teaching English reading.

    No, the worst approaches are approaches that have been shown conclusively to be ineffective. Like, giving the kids a book and saying “look and the pictures and just guess what the words say.”

  68. Twisty

    “n fact, you could even say that most things that are wrong with society right now have a whole lot to do with the way we’ve tried to erase women.”

    Yeah, I don’t see Uterusbot as erasing women, I see it as liberating women from the disdain of the species and the whole biology-is-destiny crap. What Uterusbot would erase is the mandate to control people’s personal internal organs with legislation and godbaggery.

  69. ivyleaves

    I think you could sell a Uterusbot these days as something to keep women from suffering the effects of pregnancy that make them less patriarchy-compliant as sexbots. Then, once it is designed and marketed and becomes cheap/mandatory, the patriarchy will find out it made a huge mistake.

  70. yttik

    “I don’t see Uterusbot as erasing women, I see it as liberating women”

    I understand. Kind of makes me laugh though, because compared to me, you always sound downright optimistic. I’m convinced that once Uterusbot starts getting manufactured, women will be demoted even farther, possibly viewed as nothing but living organ donors, stepford-bots, pleasure slaves, something like that. Sometimes I think the only reason men keep us around is because they haven’t figured out how to replace our baby making abilities yet.

  71. rootlesscosmo

    One word: morels.

  72. B. Dagger Lee

    Rooted color nook with nook app, kindle app, ipad faker app and over the air access to the New York Public Library digital collection! I read all the fucking time now! I’m in my second childhood!

    Greetings all!

    Twisty, I’m revoking your pass to Camp Sisterwomynspirit East.

  73. Twisty

    BDL! As I live and gasp! You have been sorely missed.

  74. Hari


    “I’m not getting this technology vs nature BS. I live in the wilderness myself, alone with my laptop. Technology and nature in harmony.”

    No one on this thread posed it as a ‘technology vs nature’ argument. Hell, even Sistertongue obviously owns and uses her computer. What I don’t get is why, if anyone suggests that having an active relationship with *both* nature and technology, there are always some who immediately see an outright condemnation of technology and the setting-up of an opposition in which only ONE can be win–either tech, or nature. It just ain’t like that for nature-loving me, and I haven’t heard that idea expressed by anyone else on this thread, either.

  75. Hari

    yttik–“I’m convinced that once Uterusbot starts getting manufactured, women will be demoted even farther, possibly viewed as nothing but living organ donors, stepford-bots, pleasure slaves, something like that.”

    I’m with you on this! Hell, even without uterusbots, womyn of privilege are ALREADY demoting themselves by way of ‘liberation from biology in order to be more compliant with patriarchy’–via outsourcing surrogacy to India. India, where surrogate pregnancy is a lot cheaper than attempting it here. We don’t have uterusbots yet, just a nice big supply of utterly exploited, impoverished 3rd world WOC to use/use-up in our personal quests for ‘liberation’, not to mention still receiving a nice white kid who is biologically one’s own.

    But–Twisty, the point is well-taken anyway. Pregnancy and birth are probably THE biggest area of womyn’s lives where we are subjected via misogynist medicine to the most concentrated dosage of mind-control and bodily harm. Then you get to be a mom, of course–still an extremely rank deal for womyn in patriarchy for the most part. And I say this as a mom of several, who still feels that mothering has been the best part of my life inside patriarchy. Of course, I worked to make it so–worked to avoid my erasure and other tortures of motherhood. But the worst parts of motherhood all came from patriarchy and the necessity to contend with men’s sense of property where it comes to kids. In fact, one of the ways I avoided some of the standard harm of motherhood in patriarchy was to be a single parent most of the years (no picnic, but for me a choice far more enjoyable, and far less torturous than dealing daily w/biodads and the problems inherent for me and the kids all)

  76. speedbudget

    Humans are technological animals. We are tool-makers extraordinaire. The first upright walkers were making tools in order to ease their control over their environment. To argue that we should eschew all or even most technology is just ridiculous, and even more ridiculous is to argue that because some kids today don’t understand obsolete technology, that means there is something inherently going wrong. I guarantee if we were to take a time machine back to very early human history (say around the time of the mummified guy in the Alps. Osti? Don’t know how to do umlauts), not one of us would be able to figure out how to do much of anything with the technology they had available. The thing about all technology is it has to be learned and passed down from human to human.

  77. Hari


    “To argue that we should eschew all or even most technology is just ridiculous,…”

    Who here is making that arguement? Again with the setting up of an opposition that I haven’t seen expressed…where does this assumption-of-opposition come from? I am perplexed.

    Posing it as an either/or dichotomy tends to erase the actual points made here, which is simply (for some) that *over-reliance* on technology is not a good thing. As someone said, we need some balance–that’s all. One might disagree–might feel that all they need is technology, and no nature–ok. Some feel that a nature/tech balance in our lives is healthier. Can there be disagreement about these things, without putting words in people’s mouths on the point?

    Yes, we are totally tool makers, to a much greater degree than other species who do some limited tool use. We are also plastic enough, neurologically/sociologically, that we not only impact our immediate lives through our tools, we impact our world itself in a more longterm way…and we ourselves are impacted as well. We change in response to both the tools themselves, as well as in response to their modifying affect on the world. Unlike, say, an otter who uses a rock to beat open a mussel shell–where neither rocks, mussels nor otters are essentially changed by this tool use.

    So, *without* blanket-damning technology, *or* saying that anyone should ‘eschew’ technology, I still think a relationship with nature itself is important to health of individuals and life on the whole. Otherwise we run the risk of seeing ourselves so much in terms of our tech tools, that we forget ‘nature’ (as if we are not an interdependent part of it)–and thus, let our reliance on technology kill the whole planet that we still need to live. And that is quite apart from the more simple and personal joys of such things as hiking, feeling the breeze, seeing the stars at night…kinds of pleasure in life that can’t be found in technology, but which, for me at least, I know as an important part of my mental and physical health. Even while I really like and benefit from public waterworks along with my computer, my cell phone and the internet, and would rather not live without them.

  78. Twisty

    “I guarantee if we were to take a time machine back to very early human history […] not one of us would be able to figure out how to do much of anything with the technology they had available.”

    Ha, I bet we would. The first technology? Cliffs. Your great-great-great-great-great-great grandma Glog and her gang used to chase antelope off ’em, back in the good old days before agriculture got invented and H. sapiens started going to hell in a hand basket. Flaking a hand axe out of a hunk of flint isn’t rocket science, either, nor is poking someone in the eye with a sharp stick, or fishing for termites with a piece of straw.

    I agree with your sentiment, though. I’m no MoonRainSummerWomyn so it would probably take me a while to figure out how to use, like, a loom on my own. In the meantime what would I use to swaddle the Twisty kiester? Dead antelopes, I guess.

  79. Kea

    Actually, flaking an axe requires great skill, as does making arrows that fly straight.

  80. Twisty

    “Actually, flaking an axe requires great skill”

    Pfui. I saw Alan Alda do it on PBS.

  81. buttercupia

    Hari, selective reading? I said tech helps environmentalism way upthread.

    Also, tech is one of the ways OUT of climate change. We need technology to produce clean energy. We need technology to cut down on the need for travel, cutting down on greenhouse gases at the same time. We need technology to make possible global communication on ways the climate is changing, how to react, how to help people in harm’s way, and how to reverse or slow the changes. We can’t go back to a preindustrial society. we can’t go back to a pre-tech society. Even if we could, I wouldn’t want to. Then I would not have IBTP and the blametariat.

  82. stacey

    Hahaa. I took textile arts a few years ago, and learned all the fabric-from-nothing creation methods. We were housed in a building with students in the “digital media” program. One day, after a fire alarm, we were all shuffling back in and one of our group heard some media students, wondering what it is that the textile people do all day… “I dunno, make wool or something?”

    We talked it over amongst ourselves, for a few minutes, touching on technology, disassociation, slow manufacturing, etc. but the upshot of it was, “When the revolution comes, and your designer clothes are hanging in rags from your body, you’ll come running to US for warm blankets.”

    On-topic, I fucking love my e-reader. I got one that is generic, reads all formats, doesn’t have DRM, and isn’t linked to any particular retailer. I’m one of those downloading pirates that you read about, but I must say that the things I download are pretty much everything I’ve already read in my life, plus a few things I would probably get out of the library but can’t be bothered to make the effort.

    Alongside of this, I still purchase analogue books, such as the new books from my favourite authors, or local authors, or kid’s books. I read them paper-styles then either keep some of them on my greatly-reduced shelf or gift them to others. Then I download an e-version for re-reading. So I feel that although I’m stealing some books, I’m still supporting some authors as well, and that hopefully the bad karma will be cancelled by the good karma.

  83. stacey

    Oh, and dead antelopes require a vatload of stale urine to make the skin soft enough to wear. Weaving is all-in-all a happier activity.

  84. Barn Owl

    Fungi are amazing in their overnight growth potential – one of my earliest childhood memories is of a large, bright yellow, chicken-of-the-woods (Laetiporus spp.) fungus that appeared one morning in a neighborhood tree (probably an oak). Loads of our neighbors, adults and children, came to gawk at it and marvel at its resemblance to a huge mass of scrambled eggs. Weird that a fungus caused such a sensation in that Midwestern neighborhood, but it was the 1960s, so maybe we were all just one big Sistermoonrainbowchickenofthewoods commune. My parents will never admit to it, if so.

    A friend of mine gave me his paleoKindle when he upgraded to a Kindle 3, and I’m definitely a convert. Of course the wifi function has to be turned off when the plane is taxiing, but must an eReader be turned off as in “on-off switch off”, or is merely “sleeping off” enough? I only fly once per year for work, and maybe once every two years for vacation, so my experiences with eReader air travel etiquette are pretty limited. I’d hate to bring down a 747 because I was selfishly engrossed in a Scandinavian crime e-novel or something.

    A recent episode of This American Life featured a self-described Apple superfan’s trip to the factory in Shenzhen where iPhones and other iGadgets are produced. The irony of developed world people lamenting that “nothing is handmade anymore” was mentioned, because of course all that iGadgetry is assembled by hand. Hundreds and hundreds of hands, many of which develop repetitive strain injuries.

  85. Hari


    “Hari, selective reading?”

    Nice start, and then I read the rest of your post. Now all I can say is–

    buttercupia–selective reading? I think it must be so, because you just reiterated the point I’ve been making about some of the tech worshippers only selectively reading some of us equally tech-and-nature worshippers.

  86. speedbudget

    You know what, Hari? If a comment isn’t directed specifically at you, there is no need to get up in arms about what you did or didn’t say. I was referring to yttik’s demonization of technology as a desensitization technique to remove us all from our environment.

    Tell that to the women in developing countries who don’t have a washing machine. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, google a TED talk about washing machines.

  87. yttik

    “I was referring to yttik’s demonization”

    Yes indeed, in my spare time when I’m not dancing naked with the devil in the moonlight, I run around and demonize things. Last week I shriveled an entire acre of corn and caused some poor man’s sacred seed to go sterile.

  88. Hari

    Golly, Speedbudget, now that’s really telling me!

    yttik–womyn, you are ONE powerful demonizer, that is for sure.

  89. Darragh Murphy

    yeah Yttik, but did you get the fucken laundry done?

  90. Darragh Murphy

    For the women who dont have washing machines, what would be more empowerfulling? A washing machine that works in their shit rivers and villages without electricity (bicycling for clean clothes!) or not having to do fucking laundry?

    Do they have to go through the same slow cycle (delicate rinse!) that we did to learn that it’s not about the washing machine?

  91. buttercupia

    Hari, I was merely reacting to the statement you made that “nobody thinks tech and nature can work together” or similar.

    Stacy, fiber arts shoutout. Spinner and etc here.

  92. Bookem Danno

    It’s harder to sneak a look at someone’s digital reading index than it is to scan their bookshelves.

    But if someone does want to display their reading choices, digital indexing makes it easy to publish your favourites, right? And by your lists shall you be known? This suggests a possible addition to the etiquette of new acquaintance; swap book and song lists when you first invite someone home. Flag those books that are out of digital publishing and give your guest some way to browse those in the same way as they would pick a paper book up from your table and flip through it.

    I hate monitor glare, which is basically the same as staring into a light globe. The E Ink reader is very easy on the eyes in comparison.
    However I’m a “chunk” reader and don’t enjoy not being able to scan at least to the next paragraph where ever I am in the book. Similarly it’s a pain working your way back to look up something already read in the context of what part of a book you are up to at the time. It makes detective fiction reading, and endnote, and most reference reading in particular a real chore. Bookmarks, on the other hand, are much easier with digital editions. I could do with out stickies all over the place.

  93. Bookem Danno

    So I dream of an html browser with multiple tabs and and E Ink screen; that way I could properly emulate swapping rapidly between the pages of a book and which swapping makes the paper book so efficient a storage medium.

  94. Hari



  95. Twisty

    “It’s harder to sneak a look at someone’s digital reading index than it is to scan their bookshelves.”

    I don’t know if this is strictly true. If you’re Amazon.com, you know almost precisely what books I’ve bought for the past 10 years. If you’re Apple, you know the music. My ISP knows every website I’ve been to. I have a gnawing sense of dread about all this aggregation of info about me, silently lurking on remote servers, just waiting to be activated by forces of evil who want to do me in.

  96. speedbudget

    It’s fine to look down our collective noses on women living in hovels and being forced to do laundry, but one of the main reason we have all this time to sit around and opine on the internet is because we have technology and machines to do the shit work for us. The laundry at my house doesn’t do itself. I live here alone, and someone’s got to do it, and after watching that video, I am thankful as hell I don’t have to cart my own water from the river miles away and scrub my own clothes.

  97. yttik

    “..one of the main reason we have all this time to sit around and opine on the internet is because we have technology and machines to do the shit work for us….”

    Maybe, but there’s some research that suggests women may actually be working harder today then we were as hunter/gathers. True, we got washing machines, but many of us now not only do all the household chores, we hold down full time jobs.

    It depends where you live, but in my neck of the woods, the tribes around here had an ideal hunting/gathering situation and women had so much free time on their hands, they actually dominated politics, religion, culture, language, crafts, and excelled and all sorts of elaborate board games.

  98. pheeno

    “Yes indeed, in my spare time when I’m not dancing naked with the devil in the moonlight, I run around and demonize things. Last week I shriveled an entire acre of corn and caused some poor man’s sacred seed to go sterile.”

    Please come to my house and do something about the goathead thorns that have taken up residence in my backyard. My demonization skillz suck, evidently.

  99. ElizaN

    “I have a gnawing sense of dread about all this aggregation of info about me, silently lurking on remote servers, just waiting to be activated by forces of evil who want to do me in.”

    May I suggest Ghostery? http://www.ghostery.com/
    No use against Amazon or your ISP, but it does block trackers from recording your internet activities.

  100. yttik

    Pheeno, I had to laugh, I’m pretty sure what you’re calling goathead thorns is that nasty plant they extract in order to increase male testosterone and enhance virility.

  101. pheeno

    Yes. But my primary concern is that when you step on one it feels like you just stepped on an RPG.(rocket-propelled grenade)

    My dogs manage to drag them into the house, and I step on every single one.

  102. pheeno

    ht tp://4.bp.blogspot.com/_a6jPfEnmJwY/S9RAtKyxPfI/AAAAAAAABNo/bAFm7I-dzpo/s320/goathead-thorn.jpg


  103. ivyleaves

    Oh man, we called those bullheads when I was a kid in Arizona. Big enough to pierce not only our bare feet, but sometimes our rubber thongs, or occasional Keds sole. Ouch.

  104. Carpenter

    “My ISP knows every website I’ve been to. I have a gnawing sense of dread about all this aggregation of info about me, silently lurking on remote servers, just waiting to be activated by forces of evil who want to do me in.”

    Yeah it does boggle the mind. I recall two disturbingly petty digital examples of data collection. One is that Amazon also collects notes and highlight data from Kindles for later processing. The other is that every time you rip a cd, your media player labels the tracks using a digital fingerprint based on trach lengths gotten from a huge data base that then data mines all the info about what cds people are listening to. I would love to see an info graphic about how much information people unwittingly pass out every day and how mundane lots of it actually is.

  105. tinfoil hattie

    Maybe my 11 y.o. is right in warning me: “Don’t trust ‘The Cloud,’ Mom.”

  106. Bookem Danno

    “I don’t know if this is strictly true. If you’re Amazon.com,[…]Apple,[…]My ISP”
    Megatheocorp thingy excepted, of course. They don’t do etiquette.

    Give me the data of everyone on the Amazon board, and every public serpent who gazes at my lists and I’d feel better about this panopticon we live in.

  107. stacey

    @pheeno: OUCH.

  108. Hari

    tinfoil hattie–

    That is one smart kid you’ve raised! Kudos, mom.

    But I’ve noticed that anymore, kids are practically born with a chip installed–it takes them no effort at all to learn computers and related tech. Most seem so entirely sucked into it that they have little relationship with the rest of life–but then there’s the ones like your 11yr old. Not just skilled, but aware. We need that!

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