What is Justice Elena Kagan doing? So far this term, the liberal justice has crossed ideological lines at least three times to join the Supreme Court’s conservatives. Most recently, on Thursday, Kagan authored the majority opinion in Lucia v. SEC, a huge case that threatens to erode the political independence of multiple federal agencies. Tearing down the “administrative state” is supposed to be Justice Neil Gorsuch’s pet project. In Lucia, though, it was Kagan who took the lead in undermining the civil service, authoring an opinion that prompted a sharp dissent by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who accused her colleague of making legal and factual errors.
This live drag competition is nothing like RuPaul's Drag Race. Thank god.
by Chase Burns
"I might cheat on my husband onstage" is not something you'd expect to hear from a typical pageant queen. But the drag queens competing in this year's Critter Person Pageant aren't typical.
They're dirty, scary, bedazzled, pretty, and potty-mouthed—and they'll do anything to be this year's Critter Person. One competitor told The Stranger they may even eat a human baby onstage, but that was probably a joke.
Now in its second year, the Critter Person Pageant was created by Seattle drag artist Cucci Binaca as a way to find a new cast member for her drag show, Cucci's Critter Barn, which happens every first Saturday at Kremwerk. The winner of the pageant earns a yearlong spot at Critter Barn, which is a good gig—especially for new queens seeking recurring work in the scene.
"When I started drag last April, my number one goal was to be asked to perform in Critter Barn," said SHE, one of the competing queens in this year's Critter Person Pageant. "It was the first drag show in Seattle that made me want to spend way too much money on plastic hair and eyeliner."
While Cucci Binaca's shows are popular, they aren't what most people think of when they think of drag. Critter Barn is more likely to feature queens lip-synching vaporwave tracks and pouring paint on themselves than anything resembling RuPaul's Drag Race. At Critter Barn's third anniversary this past May, a San Francisco artist named Jader Vision shoved a bottle up a papier-mâché anus they sewed to the lining of their body suit. It was very well received.
"The Critter Barn cast just kept growing, and the scene was exploding," Cucci Binaca told The Stranger. "I wanted to create room for new freaks to perform in front of audiences who would love or appreciate them. I also really got obsessed with the idea of having an entertainer who people came to see every month who was not me. Who was the complement of me. Who didn't get booed."
The six performers fighting for this year's Critter Person title—Angel Baby Kill Kill Kill, Irene Dubois, Miss Texas 1988, ONE, SHE, and Terrie Belle—were all selected by Binaca, presumably for their potential to be a Critter Person. Binaca defines such people as those who embody "intense self-actualization and an obsessive drive to entertain the people through a sick vision of what drag is."
Sick could be taken literally. Terrie Belle recently ate worms during a performance and spit them into someone's mouth (it was consensual worm-spitting). ONE claims to be "the best one at throwing up onstage." Miss Texas 1988 won her first pageant—and then had her title removed due to a voting miscount—after foregoing a traditional lip sync to eat a bucket of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter. At that same pageant, SHE ate fistfuls of meat out of a prop pig while dressed as a sexy pig.
As queens like to repeat ad nauseam in Seattle: "All drag is valid." But good drag can be determined with one question: Were you gagged? And you can expect lots of gags at this year's Critter Person Pageant.
Pardon me while I catch my breath, because this is the most intense reunion ever held on RuPaul’s Drag Race. I was expecting fireworks when all the queens got back together, particularly with The Vixen in the mix, but I couldn’t have foreseen just how incendiary this episode would get. The elimination of The Vixen…
“We get that you hate millennials, RuPaul. Sorry we stopped you from saying shemale.”
“The further a black queen gets in the competition, the more intense the vitriol she receives from the fanbase, and that’s a serious problem that the show is feeding by spending so much time forcing The Vixen to defend her anger rather than acknowledging her point of view.”
Parents and children tend to get upset when men with guns forcibly separate them and throw them in prisons, all for the crime of trying to obtain a better life and pursuing the one-time American dream. There are now reports surfacing of young children, toddlers and infants, being left in rooms to care for each other. Traumatized toddlers screaming out for their parents with no books, no toys, no parents in sight. I’m going to caution you right now, the details of this report from the Center for Investigative Reporting will enrage you because it details a new lawsuit over the children detained in the Shiloh Treatment Center just south of Houston regularly being injected with powerful drugs, drugs that were disguised as “vitamins.”
Parents and the children themselves told attorneys the drugs rendered them unable to walk, afraid of people and wanting to sleep constantly, according to affidavits filed April 23 in U.S. District Court in California.
One mother said her child fell repeatedly, hitting her head, and ended up in a wheelchair. A child described trying to open a window and being hurled against a door by a Shiloh supervisor, who then choked her until she fainted.
“The supervisor told me I was going to get a medication injection to calm me down,” the girl said. “Two staff grabbed me, and the doctor gave me the injection despite my objection and left me there on the bed.”
Forensic psychiatrist Mark. J. Mills told Reveal it was an outrage to see these drugs used in the U.S., like they once were in Russia.
“You don’t need to administer these kinds of drugs unless someone is plucking out their eyeball or some such. The facility should not use these drugs to control behavior. That’s not what antipsychotics should be used for. That’s like the old Soviet Union used to do.”
Read more at Reveal News about the abuse and the huge contracts being awarded to facilities like Shiloh, despite their record of abuse.
I’ve never really trusted the Democratic Party. Why should I? In a political system that forces us into one of two often problematic choices, it never made sense for me as a black person to decide between Kang and Kodos; in the end, they’ll both try to enslave us.
Were homo sapiens destined to become metro sapiens?
In the popular video game Civilization VI, your goal is to build an empire from the early cradle of civilization on towards the present day. To kick off your people’s progression through the ages, you must first settle a city. From then on, culture, science, and religion flourish within your borders, while beyond the safety of civilization lies a dark world populated only by barbarians.
I know the game’s creators never set out to develop a perfect representation of human history. But intentionally or not, Civilization VI perpetuates a common misunderstanding that the domestication of homo sapiens was natural, inevitable and desirable.
Most of us have internalized this story about our progress. It goes something like this: our primal predecessors were an underachieving bunch. They lived mostly in small groups. Some would hunt and some would gather. Violence pervaded all areas of life. Then, one day somebody discovered how to manipulate the land and everything changed. Our ancestors didn’t have to follow herds anymore. They could farm. They could rely on grain to fuel them throughout the year. They could erect walls for protection. People were ecstatic — they had been “saved” from all that aimless hunter-gatherer stuff and finally could focus on thriving as a species.
This “common belief in the beneficent rise of the state” has had some serious proponents over the years. Aristotle is one of the originals. He believed that humans initially lived only with their families. But as time passed we developed an ever-widening conception of the common good. Soon, we started residing with other families and after that we began shacking up in cities together. Thetrajectory of human communities towards greater density was unavoidable to Aristotle. He was convinced that the good life could only be achieved in this higher state of being.
Centuries later, Thomas Hobbes continued to overstate the magnificence of the civilized world. He had a particularly bearish outlook on humanity before the modern state came along. His depiction of pre-civilized “man” eerily mirrors how Civilization VI’s developers coded their savage barbarians to act. Influenced by his anarchic assumptions, Hobbes concluded that the earliest settlements must have been magnets “of civil peace, social order, and freedom from fear” for early humans.
This insight on the Hobbesian worldview comes from James C. Scott, a professor of political science and agrarian studies at Yale University. His book Against the Grain is what inspired this piece, and it takes issue with the conventional narrative I’ve just laid out. He fundamentally disagrees that humans were preordained to become “sedentary, cereal-growing, livestock-rearing subjects.”
According to Scott, we know that “our ancestors did not run headlong” into the civilized life for a few reasons. First, archaeological research shows that sedentary populations existed in Mesopotamia as far back as 12,000 BCE. But it took until around 3,100 BCE before the very first stratified, tax-collecting states popped up in the Tigris and Euphrates Valley.
This massive lag proves that, once settled, cities didn’t naturally flourish as Civilization VI indicates. The collapse of ancient settlements was actually very common. Fatal disease spread rapidly in these settings, brought about by the cohabitation of animals and people. Add in the potential for crop failures, taxes, and getting sent away to fight a war for some grain-rich despot and you’ve got some legitimate concerns about abandoning your “primitive” life to hop on the human progress train. Scott remarks:
The life of “late barbarians” would on balance, have been rather good. Their subsistence was still spread across several food webs, they would have been less vulnerable to the failure of a single food source. They were more likely to be healthier and live longer — especially if they were female…Barbarians were not subordinated or domesticated to the hierarchical social order of sedentary agriculture and the state. They were in almost every respect freer than the celebrated yeoman farmer.
Early cities were not, as Scott points out, the “logical and most efficient units of political order.” Ancient people would’ve known this firsthand. There’s good evidence to suggest their lives were marked by regularly movements in and out of different types of living arrangements. To paraphrase Scott, city walls were built as much to keep taxpayers in, as to keep the barbarians out.
The city life did not immediately spark human flourishing like Aristotle argued and Civilization VI implies, nor did it offer sweet refuge from a brutal world, like Hobbes claimed. Our evolution towards greater population density, like all things human, was messy and anticlimactic.
It’s not hard to understand why this less glamorous explanation has been omitted or ignored. Humans love a good, linear story and have a low tolerance for uncertainty. We prefer to embellish our place in the universe, instead of demean it. Frankly though, it’s more impressive to know that our modern world emerged from trial and error and not simply because of destiny. Our species’ success loses no shine by acknowledging that “lesser” truth.
Nonetheless, Civilization VI, like the rest of us, has continued to idolize an attractive, yet imprecise past. We now have enough evidence from our ancestors to know better. And if they’re anything like us, they’d want their story to be told accurately.