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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