Recent Good Reading

Some good reading from the last week or so:

Panty Raid, 1952 – Michigan Today, U-​​M Heritage

By now it was 9 p.m., and for a moment the storm seemed to have spent itself. But then the milling crowd of men spotted a coun­ter­at­tack heading their way: a horde of women flooding into Central Campus from the Hill.

The women aimed straight at the symbol of male privilege—the front door of the Union, which by tra­di­tion was never to be entered by an unac­com­pa­nied female. They surged through the Union, then into all-​​male West Quad, where “several quadders, caught unawares with their shorts on, were forced to scamper for safety,” according to the Daily.

 Apparently the chaotic-​​spontaneous arche­type of what appar­ently became a fad of campus panty raid riots. Charming on one level, dis­turbing on another, given the mistily ambiguous allu­sions to rape.

Me and My Girls — David Carr, NYT

But that’s where the plot thickens and the facts collide. Erin and Meagan were born on April 15, 1988. Whenever I felt com­pelled to explain myself and the cold facts of our history, that night outside Kenny’s was the nec­es­sary moment. In the story as I recited it, that horrible night occurred very soon after they were born. I thought I quickly entered treat­ment because even though I had been an unre­li­able employee, a con­niving friend and a duplic­i­tous husband, nothing in my upbringing allowed me to proceed as a bad father. The twins were then whisked into tem­po­rary foster care soon after their birth. After that, it’s a Joseph Campbell monomyth in which our hero embraces his road of trials, begins to attain a new Self and hotfoots it back to the normal world.

Nice story if you can live it. If the girls were born in April, and I went into treat­ment a few months after­ward, as I have always said, where did the snow­suits come from? Minnesota is cold, but not that cold.”

This has now shown up on Boing Boing, but if you don’t know, now you know. Times colum­nist and former hard-​​core junky David Carr inves­ti­gates his own past. Highly recommended.

Taking the Cure — The Walrus, Christopher Shulgan

As the night wrapped up, Keithley let slip that the band’s tour van was having mechan­ical problems — some­thing that might prevent them from attending their next gig at a snow-​​boarding com­pe­ti­tion in Fernie. Verigin and his friends imme­di­ately began burning through their cell­phone minutes, trying to track down someone in the region who would be able to fix the band’s van at the crack of dawn.

I saw some­thing in that moment. Until then, I had lumped the Doukhobors in with ultra-​​conservative sects like the Amish and the Mennonites. But Verigin and the rest of the Kootenay Doukhobors were anything but con­ser­v­a­tive. After more than a century in Canada, they retained their com­mu­ni­tarian sen­si­bil­i­ties, and their anti-​​authoritarian, anar­chist vibe. They were far more com­fort­able along­side counter-​​culture legends like Joe Keithley than buggy-​​riding Christian conservatives.”

Christopher Shulgan wrote a biog­raphy of Aleksandr N. Yakovlev, who is credited with influ­encing Gorbachev towards per­e­stroika. This is his story of Yakovlev’s vist, as the Soviet Ambassador to Canada,  to the Doukhobor sect of Castlegar BC. He con­vinc­ingly the­o­rizes that the Doukhobors were a turning point for Yakovlev. Even if I hadn’t been living near Castlegar this summer, I think this would still be a heck of a tale.

Memories of a Dead Seer: Werewolf at Foocamp08! — Jane McGonigal

Having played nearly 100 games with the Ultimate Optimal Villager strategy, I have only ONCE seen a Werewolf play this strategy and pull it off. (In games where the village isn’t playing by this strategy, it’s actually quite common for a Werewolf to suc­cess­fully claim to be the Seer.) It will probably hurt me in future games to admit that this was a game in which I was the Werewolf and Jimmy Wales was the Seer and inves­ti­gated me on the first night. So, um, forget that I said that.”

On a lighter note, an informal rundown of the culture of the party game werewolf (aka mafia) at geek con­ven­tions, and a game-​​theory guide to probable victory. 

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