You might think that a site so prominently dedicated to political activism as Daily Kos is would be an unlikely venue for book nerds, but in fact the largest group in our Community is just that: Readers and Book Lovers, a group “where readers, writers, bibliophiles, and lovers of all things literary find their favorite series and one-of-a-kind diaries.” With more than 2,000 followers, Readers and Book Lovers brings together everyone who likes to read, no matter the subject. Founded by limelite 10 years ago and now shepherded by a team of administrators with different specialties, R&BL gathers fans of poetry, fiction and nonfiction of all stripes.
“R&BLers read whole books, all the time,” Brecht wrote about the group. “They research background, they chew and digest and develop their own theories: they produce substance, and sprinkle it with some poetry and wit of their own. And then we have debates like that too, which are not about scoring points but about sharing and expanding our minds.” It’s a place where Nabokov and Captain America are debated alongside spirited discussions of Beowulf and Shakespeare, where Umberto Eco and Charles Dickens and other authors get occasional group reads, where Neal Stephenson and Ishmael Reed coexist with Wilkie Collins, Mark Danielewski, and Ta-Nahesi Coates.
Wednesday evening’s Bookchat is just what it says it is: a water-cooler-type space for discussing books, and a welcoming place to hang out. Chitown Kev‘s Friday morning What are you reading? series is similar: another genial, low-pressure space for readers to discuss what they’re reading, to share impressions of the works, and to recommend favorite authors. In addition to promoting “reading, of course, and authors,” cfk wrote, “sharing good books is a great pleasure.” This is the secret of R&BL’s endurance: It’s all about the pleasure of sharing.
Most of the series that run in R&BL are just what they say they are, and they all welcome newcomers. SensibleShoes has helmed Write On! for years. It’s a writer’s group, complete with prompts and help with the craft of writing. Bookgirl specializes in contemporary fiction in her weekly Tuesday feature Contemporary Fiction Views. Founded by Angmar, the Classic Poetry Group is a true group effort, showcasing traditional and contemporary poetry that appeals to all tastes. Ellid‘s Books So Bad They’re Good is a regular standout feature as much for Ellid’s woolgathering, discursive, and hilarious prose as it is for the godawful books she writes about. My own series The Language of the Night, named in honor of Ursula Le Guin, discusses fantasy, science fiction, and sometimes whatever else I feel like writing about (it’s one of the benefits of a benevolent dictatorship.) R&BLer’s newest feature is DebtorsPrison‘s Nonfiction Views, which has so far discussed Angus Fletcher and Rickie Lee Jones.
The largest group at Daily Kos is more of an umbrella organization where readers of all interests gather for both deep discussion and witty banter—a cornucopia of good information and intelligent readers with interests of all kinds.
Interests of all kinds are particularly reflected in this week’s rescues. Community Spotlight’s Rescue Rangers read every story published by Community writers. When we discover awesome work that isn’t receiving the attention it deserves, we rescue it to our group blog and publish a weekly collection—like this one—each Saturday to the Recent Stories section at 3 PM and to the Front Page at 7:30 PM Pacific time. Rescue priorities and actions were explained in a previous edition: Community Spotlight: Rescuing your excellent stories for over 14 years.
10 RESCUED STORIES FROM 3 PM PDT FRIDAY, APRIL 2 TO 3 PM PDT FRIDAY, APRIL 9, 2021
For Bill Berkowitz, the thrill of the hunt sparked a childhood passion in Autograph Hunting in the Age of the New York Giants, New York Yankees, and Brooklyn Dodgers. Unlike autograph hunters today, collecting the autographs of baseball heroes in the 1950s was a hunt-’em-down affair, more craft than chance: “Waiting at the top of the subway stairs as they arrived at the ballpark, or standing in the parking lot looking out for team buses to pull in from some downtown hotel, became a crapshoot for some, but a well-honed art for others.” Bill Berkowitz became one of the experts; however, unlike collectors who are in it for an auctioneer’s payday, it’s the memory of an honest competition with peers, a chance conversation with a ballplayer, and a signed card or photo being the prize, that stands out. Bill Berkowitz has been a member of Daily Kos for 12 years and has authored 148 stories.
In a lifetime (any lifetime) there are struggles, setbacks, challenges, and disappointments that could easily loom over anyone’s existence. Which is why it’s an essential life skill to recognize and appreciate A Perfect Moment when it comes, as BayAreaKen chronicles. His perfect moment came in ideal circumstances and a gorgeous setting. “Something like this is impossible to plan, forecast, or predict. It just happens. And if you’re lucky enough to spot it while it’s happening, it’s heaven.” Come along for a tribute to the kind of moment that sustains memory forever. BayAreaKen, author of 186 stories, has been a member of the Daily Kos Community since 2005.
In The pine tree and the pufferfish: Not a fable, but two inspirations for purifying water easily, skralyx describes two new water filter types based on designs found in nature. Using water-carrying vessels (xylem) from pine trees only requires a section of a tree, but to use the pufferfish filter, scientists created a filter modeled on the fish’s body. “Xu and Priestley were struck by the idea that just as quickly as puffers “inflate,” they can “deflate” when the danger has passed. This inspired them to invent a composite material called solar absorber gel (SAG) that not only swells up quickly with water but can also release it later on demand, purifying it along the way.” Skralyx joined in 2005 and has written 417 stories with 41 rescued.
“How come I only find out about great people after they die?” is not a question you’d expect from a 9-year-old. But David B was 9 when his regular TV sitcom lineup was interrupted by a “Special Report,” an event that filled him with dread because he knew something terrible had happened, that someone had been “Assassinated.” To this 9 year-old, who remembered JFK and his assassination, that meant that “someone very important had been killed because he was very important.” “What’s a Nobel Peace Prize?” 4/4/1968. A memoir…. recounts how it was the television announcement of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s, assassination that told a child of a man’s greatness and awakened in him the desire to learn about King’s mission and work, and their enduring legacy. David B has authored 150 stories. This is his 15th rescue.
Mftalbot finds “Little pieces of string” in a desk drawer and weaves them together to make a tapestry in A Beautiful Life. The story of her mother—her strength in adversity, her overwhelming love for her family, her church and her faith—emerges as threads that, completed, pay tribute to a life of hope and grace. “Mom took these little pieces of string – these Stories of Love – and with her life wove them together into a beautiful tapestry that spoke of Mom’s overflowing love – the love that the ancient Greeks called ‘agape’ – an overflowing love that seeks nothing in return, and unconditionally wills the good of the beloved.” Mftalbot has authored 199 stories; 36 of them have been rescued.
A writer who needed 35 years to pay off student loan debt, Nonlinear makes the case for Why I support student debt forgiveness because student debt is racist, sexist and both. Nonlinear traces the evolution of higher education from its traditional role of knowledge for its own sake to a commodity necessary for a good-paying career. “Governments defunded higher education as fast as their greedy little fingers could draw red lines through the educational budget. The logic was flawed from its inception. ‘Higher education is correlated with higher lifetime earnings. Thus, students who are going to institutes of higher learning are gaining a leg up on others who don’t or can’t go to such institutions. We shouldn’t be using our tax money to create winners and losers. Let’s make them pay the full freight for their education. We’ll lend them the necessary money and stop funding higher education.'” Every student who wanted a leg up therefore had to pay for the privilege, saddling every student with increasingly heavy debt loads. Women and minority students, who start out deeper in the hole, have to borrow more and after graduation statistically earn less. The inevitable conclusion is that the student debt burden is made harder by generations of discrimination. It’s time to level the field.
Murphy, with 36 years of experience in criminal defense, discusses The utter failure of parole for the mentally ill. After no contact for 15 to 20 years, a parolee with schizophrenia who had been cycling in and out of the criminal justice system reached out to the author. With no friends, no relatives, and no one else to turn to, the parolee was in crisis and at risk of suicide. If this were a singular case it would be awful. But it’s not singular—it’s systemic. “The fact of the matter is, for the most part, if a person is severely mentally ill they are utterly incapable of comporting themselves in such a way as to avoid a parole or probation violation. Commonly they will refuse residential programs or get thrown out of them for not conforming to the rules. Also very commonly they will not comply with medication schedules.” If a system of justice has been failing the people who most need help, and has been failing for decades, what can we call it, except an utter failure? Murphy is one of the original Kossacks, a member of the Community for going on 18 years and author of 166 stories. This is their fourth rescue.
Spring is literal and metaphorical for Rexxmama in The Backyard Garden: April 8, 2021. Rising early and cleaning out the dessication from last year’s garden and winter shedding, she writes, “I felt Biden-ish, cleaning up the mess left by last season’s withering vegetation and the moldy leaves shed by the neighbor’s skyscraper maple tree.” With dead tomato plants that, like the last administration, extravagantly overpromised but underdelivered, cleared away and what could be useful saved, Rexxmama looks forward to a new infrastructure, both in the garden and in the country. Rexxmama has authored 15 stories; this is her first rescue.
TheCriticalMind traces the evolution of the Modern Republican party from a Bible-centered xenophobic movement to a full-blown white power party in The Secularization of the GOP’s Bigotry: How Hillary’s Deplorables Are Stronger Than Ever. The analysis begins in the 1980s with the rise of the Moral Majority and the tying of Christian conservatism to Republicanism. Even though the evangelical Christian movement is admittedly still powerful, its losses in the culture war (legalized marijuana, gay marriage, etc.) have left culture warriors looking “more like a rearguard action by regional resistors rather than a concerted national movement.” The election of Trump, initially thought the fulfillment of evangelism’s dreams, was instead the demise of the Christian right, as its power was eclipsed by white nationalists: “Now non-churchgoers could feel welcome. Neo-Nazis and white supremacists didn’t have to worry about Sundays. They could pursue their dreams of domination without taking time off to kneel. The Proud Boys and Oathkeepers, neither notably religious, became the face of movement conservatism.” The CriticalMind has authored 283 stories for Daily Kos.
The collision of two imperfect men is retold by vjr7121 in George Floyd’s legacy: The value of a man, troubled and imperfect, is still priceless…. Quoting former Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland, Jr.’s early belief that “locking up young offenders for a long time and releasing them as older adults would push them to age out of crime” and ignorant of the long-term effects of this kind of policing, vjr7121 suggests that Derek Chauvin followed the “lock ’em all up” philosophy of policing, which led to George Floyd being killed for possibly trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. In this comprehensive history of George Floyd’s death, subsequent investigation, and ongoing trial, the author recounts the fatal meeting of two flawed men: Floyd’s “last words, ‘I can’t breathe!’ were answered by officer Chauvin by pressing his knee more deliberately into Floyd’s neck finally cutting off his oxygen— for the crime of possibly passing on a twenty-dollar counterfeit bill.” With the evidence of police malice so nakedly apparent, vjr7121 predicts that the defense phase of the trial will be even more painful than the prosecution’s, as the defense tries to make George Floyd ultimately responsible for his own death. Vjr7121 is the author of 174 stories. This is their 23rd rescue.
COMMUNITY SPOTLIGHT is dedicated to finding great writing by community members that isn’t getting the visibility it deserves.
An edition of our rescue roundup publishes every Saturday at 6 p.m. ET (3 p.m. PT) to the Recent Community Stories section and to the front page at 9:30 p.m. ET (7:30 p.m. PT).