Habitable elsewheres

Blues Buzz

Make no mistake: Steve Bannon is going to go after queers. This Muslim, hijab-wearing woman lasted eight days in Trump's White House. The wild west of wind. Uber is still awful. Zealandia. Carson McCullers at 100. 'Our most cruel experiment yet.' Apparently now everyone else has realized a nightmare trash human is a nightmare trash human. He might be gone but his transphobia will remain. Still, Roxanne Gay has the last word. One editor is going to the South and the Rust Belt, not to parachute in, but to find reporters already there. Mahershala Ali on Blackness and Islamophobia. 34 works by women of color for 2017. The gender-specific, women-only Chinese script. When neighbors turn on each other and when they don't -- like this week, when Muslims stepped up for Jews. Is America a 'safe country' for refugees? Native women remain amazing. This trans boy sticking it to haters. The comics giving life to gender diversity. Melissa Febos on love, both human and canine, and depression. The making of Moonlight. (Related: how done this one Arab actor will be with the Oscars if La La Land wins.) Some bizarre writing residencies you should probably actually consider. Democracy dies in darkness. 'You wouldn't have known about me.' Han Kang and when time stopped forever. Dating while Black in Canada. Good news -- we could maybe one day leave this planet for one of seven cool new options.

Pro-Unionist mural seen in Belfast, Ireland. © E.A. Crunden

Pro-Unionist mural seen in Belfast, Ireland. © E.A. Crunden


Around the Globe

Africa. South Sudan is in the midst of a horrifying famine (and 20 million people worldwide are facing a similar situation, many of them in countries destroyed by war.) Zimbabwe's dictator had some fond words for Trump. Tanzania is threatening to publicly out queer people. South Africa wants to withdraw from the ICC, no matter what anyone says. Libya's ongoing brushes with refugees and tragedy continued this week when 87 bodies washed up on the country's shore. DRC has said it will investigate a video seeming to show a massacre of civilians. Nigerians are protesting violence against immigrants and migrants in South Africa.

Americas. A homemade bomb in Colombia exploded, injuring dozens of people. The Guatemalan army is blocking a Dutch boat that takes women into international waters to perform abortions. Canada is still seeing an uptick in refugees and immigration from the U.S. The Trump administration's horrifying crackdown on immigrants has gone from bad to worse. (Mexico and the U.S. are, understandably, not on good terms right now.) ICE is denying trans detainees their medical necessities. Trump sort of pseudo-condemned anti-Semitism (despite continuing to employee white nationalists.) Trans students got screwed by Trump. Private prisons made a comeback. Protesters fighting the Dakota Access pipeline hit the deadline to evacuate; many set fire to the protest site, including to traditional structures that were burned ceremoniously in keeping with Native spirituality. Americans are PISSED about everything (but mostly health care) and they are assembling at town halls. Two Indian engineers were shot in Kansas by a man who believed they were Middle Eastern.

Asia. An Israeli soldier was sentenced to a mere 18 months in prison over the fatal shooting of a wounded Palestinian assailant. Israel is also denying visas to Human Rights Watch staff. Eastern Libya has banned women under the age of 60 from traveling abroad on their own. Pakistan's economy is growing, in spite of a resurgence of terror. That terror, however, made itself heard yet again this week--an attack hit a shopping center in Defence, an affluent area of Lahore. Deadly bird flu returns to China. Iraqi forces recaptured a Mosul airport previously held by the Islamic State. The half-brother of North Korea's dictator was reportedly killed with a banned nerve gas in a Malaysian airport. A car bomb killed 51 people in the Syrian city of al-Bab. A prominent foe of Rodrigo Duterte has been arrested in the Philippines.

Europe. Hungary withdrew its bid to host the 2024 Olympics. Britain's housing crisis has more and more young people staying at home with their parents. The Tories won a long-held Labour seat in a humiliating defeat for the latter. Russian diplomats keep dying in the U.S. which is probably fine and not suspicious but also these are strange times and people are raising eyebrows. What did happen in Sweden and what did not. Breaking news: Iceland's president is not pro pineapple on pizza.



To watch: Brown Girls, a new web series focused on the friendship between a (seemingly straight) Black woman and a queer Pakistani-American woman as they dive headlong into their twenties, with results both painful and comical. To caveat, I did not find this show amazing, the acting ranges, and it's unclear where it's all going. (The trope of 'I always know you were queer because once your girl Barbies touched each other' does indeed make an appearance. Hélas.) But it is VERY hard to find good work featuring queer women, and it is also highly unusual to see the bonds between women of color explored in a meaningful way on the screen. With that in mind, it's worth the occasionally cringe-worthy flubs and stumbles for what is, we can only hope, the first in a long line of series similar to this, and props to creator Fatimah Asghar for bringing us a world that looks much more like the one many of us inhabit. 

To do: Self-care and care for others. Let us take a moment for realness. Perhaps it was a weird (read: not good) week for you, or perhaps it was a good week, or perhaps it was just like any other week. Perhaps you are like me and were really hurt that no one reached out to you after your community was directly targeted (as so many have been) by the Trump administration, especially when you are a gender-nonconforming non-binary person who already: feels deeply uncomfortable in most social situations, fears public spaces, and is SO thankful to not have been out when young and vulnerable in Texas. Perhaps this is not your life. But if you have been affected or might be affected by current events arounds the world, or even if you just care about other people, take two moments. One for yourself and one for others. All liberation is intertwined. If you can't take a moment for others, you cannot expect them to take one for you. And you cannot have space for others if you do not have space for yourself. That's all, really.


Fun Fact

'Habitable' means very different things to different people. When we hear the term used to describe planets and areas in the solar system, we typically think of the cushy deal Earth provides: water, various climates that sustain life, and a pretty sweet deal, all things considered. But as this article from Cosmos details (h/t Vox), 'habitable' in the planetary sense doesn't necessarily translate to the situation we're currently used to. Put more bluntly:

'In the study of alien worlds, there is perhaps no designation more hopeful, or more misleading, than “habitable”. While it evokes a vision of a pleasant, temperate world, complete with breathable air and a human-friendly landscape, to an astronomer it means none of those things.' 

Moreover,  as the article notes, though we might be inclined to 'classify our own planet as habitable, the term could be applied to any of a wide range of lethal nightmare planets' -- so don't go picturing newly discovered habitable planets as a vacation, is the tl;dr of this.