the term ‘Race’ as an obscuring misnomer: Pt I


‘Race Is a Social Construct, Scientists Argue’,
Megan Gannon, 04 February 2016, livescience.com

“More than 100 years ago, American sociologist W.E.B. Du Bois was concerned that race was being used as a biological explanation for what he understood to be social and cultural differences between different populations of people. He spoke out against the idea of “white” and “black” as discrete groups, claiming that these distinctions ignored the scope of human diversity.

Science would favor Du Bois. Today, the mainstream belief among scientists is that race is a social construct without biological meaning. And yet, you might still open a study on genetics in a major scientific journal and find categories like “white” and “black” being used as biological variables.
…………………………………………………
“Assumptions about genetic differences between people of different races have had obvious social and historical repercussions, and they still threaten to fuel racist beliefs. That was apparent two years ago, when several scientists bristled at the inclusion of their research in Nicholas Wade’s controversial book, “A Troublesome Inheritance” (Penguin Press, 2014), which proposed that genetic selection has given rise to distinct behaviors among different populations. In a letter to The New York Times, five researchers wrote that “Wade juxtaposes an incomplete and inaccurate account of our research on human genetic differences with speculation that recent natural selection has led to worldwide differences in IQ test results, political institutions and economic development.”

The authors of the new Science article noted that racial assumptions could also be particularly dangerous in a medical setting.

“If you make clinical predictions based on somebody’s race, you’re going to be wrong a good chunk of the time,” Yudell told Live Science. In the paper, he and his colleagues used the example of cystic fibrosis, which is underdiagnosed in people of African ancestry because it is thought of as a “white” disease.

Gannon goes on to quote several scientists who suggest alternatives to the term ‘race’, such as ‘ancestry’, or ‘geographical populations’ as a genetic perspective, but that has limitations given the wide variance of Europeans compared to North America, where most inhabitants have come from elsewhere.

“And never mind that the concept is enshrined in the U.S. census, which last time it was taken, in 2010, asked Americans to choose their race from a list of choices that included “White,” “Black”, “American Indian,” “Asian Indian,” “Chinese,” “Japanese,” and “Samoan.” To the victims of racism, it’s small consolation to say that the category has no scientific basis. Perception is what matters”, a paraphrased version of an Elizabeth Gannon National Geographic quote.

 Spencer Wells: The Human Journey | Nat Geo Live, Jan 23, 2012  (24 mins.)

Outline from National Geographic

  • Introduction, updates, and underlying questions of The Genographic Project (start-02:16 min.)
  • The stones and bones theory: Paleoanthropology and Archaeology (02:17-03:00 min.)
  • The geneticist approach: using family trees to study human history (03:00-04:08 min.)
  • Primer on DNA: markers of descent, and the creation of a family tree (04:09-05:30 min.)
  • Patterns of human variation: mitochondrial DNA and the Y-chromosome (05:31-06:36 min.)
  • The earliest man and theories of African origins (06:37-08:16 min.)
  • A map of human migration over time (08:17-09:14 min.) (click for larger)
  • The Journey of Man and the beginning of The Genographic Project (09:15-11:22 min.)
  • Public participation and the Legacy Fund (11:23-12:48 min.)
  • The Genographic Project’s sample size (12:49-13:53 min.)
  • Examples of Legacy Fund projects: Tajikistan and the Andes Mountains (13:53-15:40 min.)
  • Collecting data from the public, and the power of large sample size (15:41-18:26 min.)
  • Climate change as a theme to analyze data (18:27-20:41 min.)
  • The Neolithic Revolution: using samples from western Eurasia to analyze the past (20:42-23:55 min.)

Spencer Wells – The Journey of Man (Part 2 of 13) – A Genetic Odyssey (9:54)

[Pt I is the overview of the rewriting of history by genetic mapping, and his having followed in the footsteps of his mentor Luca Cavalli-Sforza (25 January 1922 – 31 August 2018), then Wells hopping a plane to Africa to meet with the human ancestral Y-chromosome ‘Adam’ in the Kalahari desert.]


Recently some white-hooded KKK showed up at a police-state protest in Nevada; would they even care if they learned that all of us around the globe originated in Africa?  No, they’d not even believe it, of course, as it’s been enshrined in #TheRacistBrain that ‘Blacks’ are not only stupid, but inferior in every way to ‘Whites’, thus were only deserving of being slaves…to the ‘White race’.

 

As a side note, after I’d watched this series back in the day, I wrote it up for the local paper, sure that it would change racist and racialist perspectives, including locally  toward First American and Latinx; er...not so much.

(cross-posted from Café Babylon)

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the mid- late-1800s that refer to “the race of shopkeepers” and “the race of Yorkshiremen.” So clearly at one point the word meant merely a commonality. Nothing to do with biology.

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Orwell: Where's the omelette?

wendy davis's picture

@jim p

drift, but 'race of the shopkeepers' kicked up nothing on the bingle machine.

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@wendy davis written in the 1850s or so. Forget which, not one of the classics, might have been a theological or philosophical tract, but “race of...” and then a profession or location I’ve seen more than twice in English from 1910s and before.

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Orwell: Where's the omelette?

wendy davis's picture

@jim p

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lotlizard's picture

@wendy davis  
https://duckduckgo.com/?q=%22race+of+shopkeepers%22

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wendy davis's picture

@lotlizard

by way of a population colloquialism; white europeans, then. in terms of human 'Races' though, five are generally named: white, black, red, yellow, and brown.

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lotlizard's picture

@wendy davis  
back in the early 1950s — from the publisher of the Little Golden Books for kids.

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Up until the mid1600's, the Irish were considered an "inferior race".
The color of the skin didn't matter much, until there were economic and political reasons.

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wendy davis's picture

@gjohnsit
of: "‘we’ll give some land to the N*ggers and the Chinks, but Not the Irish!

but from the coming Part II: one of the earliest racist biologists also justified indigenous genocide on the same grounds.

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@wendy davis I get the gist of the post. Will have to read thru the links later leisurely when my brain is not fried.

Few years back I read Nell Irvin Painter's "The History of White People". It was a heavy read for me & don't think I completed it. But I did get the gist of it (some day I hope to go re-read it). Then I listened to this radio documentary on NPR called "The Invention of Race". That was a lot easier for me to grasp. Painter appears in it. And the ultimate conclusion was that it is a social construct and mainly about exploitation of labor. The points you both make - I mean Wendy & gjohnsit.

I haven't read the 1619 project series. But I just read a critique at WSWS.org which interviewed Prof.Adolph Reed. WHat I understood is that Hannah Jones attributes racism to white people's mentality while totally ignoring the angle of exploitation of labor (& hence capitalism).

Recently learnt that caste system in India is also about explitation of labor & acumulating wealth.

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wendy davis's picture

@Funkygal

subjects, but for now, i at last hope you watch spencer wells Part II as he meets the san bushmen in the kalahari desert, and pictured below. they speak in 'click' language, and as wells says: we can see all our faces...in theirs.

'castes in india' is a more complicated subject, certainly the lowest caste are 'the untouchables'. but india has had a middle class, as well. but at the bottom of the pile in india an occupied kashmmir and jammu are: the muslims.

i've posted about 'accidental©' genocidaire narendra modi (the Lion) numerous times, and often quote arundhati roy, including on modi's 'demonetization' scheme having shifted untold wealth upward toward the oligarchical classes.

roy also wrote recently at the FT (not behind a paywall for covid-19 coverage) that modi's weaponiized the cornoavirus against the muslims, although it's a needlessly long (imo) piece, and the gods only know why she'd mentioned bernie sanders (who wants to pay the police protecting the capitalist class more)...

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

...a disturbing crusade of self-proclaimed "antiracists" is running around convincing people to invert the definition of "racism", so that racism is not racism and vice versa, there's something wrong with you if you're NOT obsessed with race, and it seems there's no escaping their ability to get any major (or even minor) publication to push for them.

"In troubled times, there are few greater sorrows than a wayward savior."
- text from a Magic: The Gathering card released in 1997

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

lotlizard's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat  
https://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/how-to-start-making-real-change-i...

Going forward, it looks as if PMC (professional-managerial class) doctrine and discourse are going to be concerned with “triggering” and “Black* experience” and “white* fragility” for quite a while.

* Side note: When writing about race, lower-casing “black” or, especially, upper-casing “White” (!) are now progressive no-nos — yes, even minor things like your use of capitalization can now be minefields. The cultural revolution is here! Any deviation from the dictates of the moment can and will get you into big trouble when the hearings and committees of inquest find their way to your organization and surroundings.

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@lotlizard Where did this come from? How did this happen? How do we stop it??? I'm feeling pretty "triggered" myself (and if they're trying to help people with PTSD, this is THE WORST way to do it, on the level of dousing a fire with gasoline).

It's so FUBAR - I didn't see or hear anything about this (well, aside from relatively-harmless-seeming snippets that I only really recognize in hindsight) until right after I'd finally earned my degree in social studies - now, SUDDENLY, it's like my entire education has been NULLIFIED. This is the DEAD-OPPOSITE of every conclusion I drew from my education. All those years, erased and recorded over in a matter of months. Your "cultural revolution" thing does not feel like a joke to me at all.

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

wendy davis's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

understand your Qs far better than i, but is this you'd said earlier part of it?

...there's something wrong with you if you're NOT obsessed with race...

could you explain these Qs, as in What happen, how do we stop What?

Where did this come from? How did this happen? How do we stop it???

your triggers and distress are clear, though.

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@wendy davis ...but I don't really know enough at this point to say more than the ol' 5W&H. I've been exposed to lots of different bits and pieces, but throwing those out higgledy-piggledy is NOT how rational thought and inquiry operates.

I have always been your classic autistic Vulcan, culture-of-one, and Chaos Sphinx, powered from within and walking the crooked, narrow, and lonely Theravada path; all of that is anathema to these ass-clowns whose mindset seems to be the same as FOX News's - the kind that Stephen Colbert used to so effectively make fun of before (so it would seem) they snuck up on him from the other direction and assimilated him (I hope I'm wrong about that, I haven't seen his show in years...though I did see his appalling interview with Tulsi Gabbard, as was well-dissected by Caitlin Johnstone).

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

wendy davis's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

if you might muse for a bit on one or two of my Qs as to What or It mean to you, especially given your:

It's so FUBAR - I didn't see or hear anything about this (well, aside from relatively-harmless-seeming snippets that I only really recognize in hindsight) until right after I'd finally earned my degree in social studies - now, SUDDENLY, it's like my entire education has been NULLIFIED. This is the DEAD-OPPOSITE of every conclusion I drew from my education. All those years, erased and recorded over in a matter of months. Your "cultural revolution" thing does not feel like a joke to me at all.

but please, go take care of yourself, come back if and when the spirit moves you. we're all sending good vibes your way, moonbat.

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lotlizard's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat  
I’m not really joking — this really does feel like a Cultural Revolution is getting underway, complete with political banners and slogans adorning every institution, and compulsory self-criticism sessions at every place of work.

People you’d expect to be loyal friends viciously betraying each other, the way all these show business figures who owe a big part of their success to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling have now turned on her because she doesn’t completely toe the current party line on one point having to do with sex and gender.

This British essayist called the identitarian, guilt-fomenting flavor of leftism the “Vampire Castle”:
https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/exiting-vampire-castle/

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@lotlizard I can't believe this is real. It's infuriating after all I've been through. But this makes it all make sense...sort of.

What's weird is that I am of "petty bourgeois liberal" background - and yet in the context of this essay, I'm in the working-class predicament. That part doesn't make sense. Is this some kind of parallel-universe middle-class that is the bane, rather than the source of Enlightenment values? There's a super-weird invisible divide here. Is it German-American VS Anglo-American (a titan topic of American history that, of course, gets completely annihilated by the current "whitey V darkie" doctrine)? Jew VS Gentile? West Coast VS East Coast?

I read some very silly, very Internetty blurb a while back with someone suggesting that the world did end in 2012, and those of us who lived in it were shunted into a parallel universe, as evidenced by the complete rewriting of truth since about that time. Baloney, of course, but what's upsetting is...as politics go, that is a lot like how it feels.

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

lotlizard's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat  
https://quillette.com/2020/06/20/exploring-other-ways-of-knowing-the-new...

If there is such a thing as “woke” creationism whose most prominent exponents are women and/or people of color, it looks as if its hour for being judged an acceptable approach to science education has struck.

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wendy davis's picture

@lotlizard

lenny finally got to this, though:

During one of the EDI sessions, I pushed this point and asked Dr. Tajmel if her project did not, ultimately, amount to the reintroduction of religion in science. She responded, without missing a beat, that science itself was a form of a religion. With political demands increasingly taking precedence over the pursuit of truth, it seems only a matter of time before Science and Nature get on board with that idea.

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wendy davis's picture

@lotlizard

gone wild (via RT): decolonize Eskimo Pies; Aunt Jemima, & Uncle Ben!

kamala (the lotus flower) harris will soon offer a bill to make Juneteenth a national holiday!

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@lotlizard WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT THIS?!?

If BLM turns on science, it hasn't just become the bad guy, it has become THE Bad Guy.

I DID NOT spend the '000s fighting Republican attempts to bring back the Dark Ages just so a mob of counterfeit progressives/neo-Khmer-Rouge could do it for them.

Way to make police brutality (and racism!) look justified, SHITHEADS.

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@lotlizard ...is that of all the "oppressive Western institutions" these people set out to level, I have NEVER seen them go after the one thing that I have long believed DOES deserve this sort of treatment:

Christianity.

Every valid claim they make can be traced back to the mindset born at Nicaea; science and the Enlightenment are truly cosmopolitan, formed from a rediscovery of pre-Christian Europe, the fruits of the Golden Age Middle East, and pagan (including Hindu/Buddhist/etc) ideas from all over the world. Why are they ONLY tearing down the good, and ignoring the ONLY institutions that might actually deserve their ire??? I wonder what our dear friend Betty Clermont would say (her latest contribution was a doozy!)....

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@lotlizard How terrified and despondent should I be? I am, young, severely mentally ill, exhausted, and more alienated and disenfranchised than ever before. I am also a literal savant who has worked hard in the face of adversity for a real, non-cult education in the humanities. I deserve a far, FAR louder voice than I have...but I feel trapped in a world where my talents (intelligence, imagination, rationality, objectivity) are denied in some corners to even exist, and the things I despise most in all the universe (deceit, emotionalism, dominance behavior, speed and quantity at the expense of accuracy and quality, groupthink) are the highest values. I am the minority report when it comes to psychology. I've never felt like the term "human" fit me, and in a ship-of-Theseus sense, I am the exception to so many rules that there might be a lot more to that than just the whole "otherkin" thing (personally, I self-identify as a Marxist-Grouchoist: I do not wish to be affiliated with any group that would be willing to have ME as a member!). I've never had a group identity in my life, and because of that, the shitholes in articles like yours have sent me the clear message that my life doesn't matter.

How bad is it, REALLY? Everyone else needs to worry more (or rather, they should've worried SOONER about different things), but I keep being told I need to worry less...but how can I, when I keep seeing things like this? Are rationalists REALLY outnumbered by anti-rationalists? Does it even matter, who's outnumbered by whom? I find this devastating. Should I?

I need help; I need hope. I have labored like Sisyphus for years, and the reward for my discipline and selflessness has been less than nothing. I can't afford to march for anyone else when I feel like I am being riven apart by the very helices of my DNA.

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

wendy davis's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

what your cry for help is about, and i wish i knew, for now may i offer you this meditation video i like? tomorrow i might be able to offer another suggestion for a method i use to decrease my high emotional levels, and try to shut off my internal dialogue.

not to be presumptuous, but i'll also smudge you w/ sweet grass smoke with a part of the navajo beauty way prayer before i sleep (i have a bit of a list, including myself and mr. wd). love and peace to you, my friend.

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@lotlizard ...perhaps here and now is a good time and place to share this gem, which, if common knowledge, would doubtless transform the whole "conversation": https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/just-thinking-about-science-t...

Now then: Who else thinks they should apply that same study to the "social science" fields that are supposed to do DELIBERATELY what STEM apparently does by accident?

It occurred to me some time ago (and even in contexts other than this) that the forces of Stupid (AKA 'Pathos') managed to get the upper hand against Smart (AKA 'Logos') by weaponizing a moral argument (AKA 'Ethos') against it - we can and need to turn that around 180°.

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

lotlizard's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat  
who have naïvely believed in impartiality, skepticism even of one’s own methods and propensities, and the nobility of joining, even with one’s adversaries of the moment, in a common search for truth — I tend to include myself here — are going to have a hard row to hoe in the times that are a-comin’ …

STEM-ishly inclined nerds, geeks, and grinds are going to find that attempts to take a gander at aptitude and/or achievement objectively — for instance, via admissions tests like the SATs for college, or the exams to qualify for New York City’s special high schools for the gifted — have been determined to be discriminatory and are “out.”

They are going to be left singing, “♫ Look what they’ve done to my song — it was the only thing I could do half-right, and it’s turning out all wrong, ma ♫ …”

The cultural tide has turned, and identity politics and tribal loyalties in various guises are “in” now and will be allowed to decide things instead.

“♫ [Cis white male scientists] off on a spree, d—ed from here to eternity; G~d have mercy on such as we — baa, baa, baa …”

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@lotlizard They've directly reversed the definition of "racism", and yet expect the moral authority earned by the old definition to travel with the word rather than depart with the definition.

That is obviously asinine; we should be able to call them out on it. All they've got is linguistic masturbation, and yet they expect to be able to control truth with it. They're fascists. They're fundies. They're ditzy fashionistas.

They're THIS:
The best politcal cartoon ever.gif

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

lotlizard's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat  
Can’t argue with a tsunami. Either you (1) voluntarily turn yourself and your principles into liquid, go with the flow, and join the wave, or (2) head as fast as you can for higher ground as if your life depended on it.

What exactly constitutes higher ground is a matter for individual reflection and interpretation.

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The Liberal Moonbat's picture

@lotlizard That kind of spineless fatalism is why we never win.

We're not talking about a tsunami, we're only talking about politics - and unlike in science, reality in politics is determined strictly by fiat.

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In the Land of the Blind, the one-eyed man is declared insane when he speaks of colors.

lotlizard's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat  
with an open mind. Here’s a list that I took as my starting point, from Jay Kinney:

https://www.jaykinney.com/politix.html

Jay Kinney did admirable work at the CoEvolution Quarterly / Whole Earth Review for many years.

You don’t appear to need any of these admonitions — you’ve “seen the [Mao-ish?] fnords,” as it were — however, it seems a lot of folks who see themselves as lefties and wokies right now, or have been inclined to fall in line behind leftie-wokie (pseudo) authorities from academia, clearly could use a wider perspective …

A person who does this — regularly read sources across the spectrum à la Jay Kinney — may well find themselves in a fighting mood, armed with new insights about both “Right” and “Left” …

Find out what’s what and what’s true firsthand, to the best of one’s ability. Then fight like hell — or no, fight like the angels of Heaven! — for those values truly worth fighting for …

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wendy davis's picture

@lotlizard

piece of click-bait title the other day, a war of capital letters in which Black was capitalized, but not 'white'.

in general, what i've seen there lately is a hella lot of fascist op-eds from police-state apologists, though.

miz brooks: how to make your workplace leaders seem interested in solving the black/white dilemma. because: happy workers are productive workers? she never mentioned class one time. but she did get one thing utterly correct, inadvertently or not: 'the violence of silence in the face of white supremacy' (malcolm X). ; )

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wendy davis's picture

@The Liberal Moonbat

lotlizard seems to get what you mean. ; )

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magiamma's picture

that traced thr dna out of Africa. Riveting. Thanks for the link. Looks like they left Africa because of drought and walked all the way to Australia along the coast when the ocean was lower. One branch. Another went to India and another to Europe via China. Still a bit mote to watch.

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Stop Climate Change Silence - Start the Conversation

Hot Air Website, Twitter, Facebook

wendy davis's picture

@magiamma

a lot, too. it's hard to say what the landmass looked like 100,000 to 60,000 years ago. Pangea seems to have begun breaking apart 175,000 million years ago, though.

over the 13 parts, wells introduced us to so many of our other distant relatives; i found it all glorious! the edgiest was his team ending up in Dinetah, and hoo-boy, did they not like it when wells spoke of their navajo 'mythologies', which they call their 'creation stories', of course.

i hadn't remembered the reason the first humans began their migration as 'drought', but i just kicked up 'cold and dry', although the debates about it all still reign.

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wendy davis's picture

going on between the two of you, but just because the team and corporate bidnesses, sports teams, etc. have tried to co-opt this police state pushback (including globally) doesn't mean that it may not yield good (not strange) fruit in the end. can't even want to predict the odds, though.

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