From the world pool: December 31, 2014

Well, I missed my regular links post on Saturday due to extra seasonal activities and a need to avoid too much time typing because of a rotator cuff injury. So this is a longish list. But this is the last day of the year, so I figure it’s a great time to do that kind of round-up.

See you next year!

SOCIO-POLITICAL COMMENTARY

Class

The Poverty Mentality: Always Starving, by Emmie Mears. “This is a mindset that has worked its way into multiple facets of my life, and the reduction at the bottom of the pan once it’s boiled down is this: get it now, or you’ll never get a chance again.”  (via Pretty Terrible‘s Natalie Luhrs @eilatan)

What if Downton Abbey told the truth about Britain? :The period detail is impeccable but the series is a far cry from the brutal reality of upper-class attitudes. …Does it matter? Isn’t it just a bit of fun? Well, what would we think of a prettified series about British colonialism, whose heroes were cleansed of racism, violence, oppression or imperial snobbery? The implanting of falsely comforting memories of a better bygone era disguises fundamental things about the way we live now. (via @evilrooster)

Policing

If you read the posts I link to you’ll know that my politics fall on the progressive rather than the conservative side. One big issue I’ve been following recently is bad policing practices. (And just to be clear, I believe that many cops are good cops; the problems we’ve been seeing have resulted from institutionalized attitudes and practices, and those attitudes and the things that perpetrate them need to be fixed. I also believe firmly that challenging such institutionalized attitudes and practices, and trying to make police forces address them in ways that benefit not just the community but also the police themselves, is NOT the same thing as attacking the police.)

In general:

Popehat: Broken Windows And Broken Lives: why don’t we apply the broken window theory to cops?

What Would Happen if I Got in White Cop’s Face?

Whoa. Baltimore Fox Affiliate Edits Protest Footage To Sound Like ‘Kill A Cop’ and also a related FB post. (via Patrick Nielsen Hayden @pnh)

The NYPD:

In particular, the NYPD has been demonstrating an appalling level of tone-deaf arrogance and childishness that only works against them. Some comments on this:

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: The Police Aren’t Under Attack. Institutionalized Racism Is. “Those who are trying to connect the murders of the officers with the thousands of articulate and peaceful protestors across America are being deliberately misleading in a cynical and selfish effort to turn public sentiment against the protestors. This is the same strategy used when trying to lump in the violence and looting with the legitimate protestors, who have disavowed that behavior. They hope to misdirect public attention and emotion in order to stop the protests and the progressive changes that have already resulted. Shaming and blaming is a lot easier than addressing legitimate claims.”

New York Times: Police Respect Squandered in Attacks on de Blasio. “Mr. de Blasio isn’t going to say it, but somebody has to: With these acts of passive-aggressive contempt and self-pity, many New York police officers, led by their union, are squandering the department’s credibility, defacing its reputation, shredding its hard-earned respect. They have taken the most grave and solemn of civic moments — a funeral of a fallen colleague — and hijacked it for their own petty look-at-us gesture. …[N]one of [their] grievances can justify the snarling sense of victimhood that seems to be motivating the anti-de Blasio campaign — the belief that the department is never wrong, that it never needs redirection or reform, only reverence.”

And finally, I think it’s important to point out that not all police respond to criticism with reflexive aggression: Nashville police chief shares message, responds to questions. Email to police criticizing them for allowing protests: “I just want myself and my family to feel that our city is safe, and right now we don’t feel that way.” Chief’s response: I have to admit, I am somewhat puzzled by this announcement. None of the demonstrators in this city have in any way exhibited any propensity for violence or indicated, even verbally, that they would harm anyone. I can understand how you may feel that your ideologies have been questioned but I am not aware of any occurrence that would give reason for someone to feel physically threatened.”

Feminism

2 ways quotas for women raise quality. “Both in terms of attracting stronger applicants and in terms of their impacts on groups, quotas increase quality. Period. That’s what the research tells us.”

Bill Cosby, Himself: Fame, Narcissism and Sexual Violence. Thought-provoking examination of the complexity of this issue and the intersections that make it so complex. “Let me begin by saying this:  I am prepared for this essay to be a hot mess.  It can’t not be a mess – how do you talk about Bill Cosby’s being accused of rape and drugging women, and not talk about stardom, and power, and racism, and sexism, and the news media, and black men, and white women, and fear, and slavery, and Jell-O, and childhood memories, and The Cosby Show, and class privilege, and rage at the first black president, and icons, and heroes, and fathers, hypocrisy, heartbreak and genius?”

Apparently feminists want to prevent men from enjoying the joys of 2D women, “the kind of joys many Japanese men who’ve rejected the pig disgusting ways of 3D women already have.” The screed reproduced is a call to men to free themselves from their oppression by real, live breathing women in favour of robots and/or digital female characters so that they can achieve their full potential. Um, guys? Feminists would have no reason to prevent men who think of women as “pig disgusting” from removing themselves from the dating pool. Trust me on this.

Trans Issues

Trigger Warning: This heart-breaking blog post, tweeted by several of the people I follow, is a suicide note, and yes, trans teenager Leelah Alcorn committed suicide.

UPDATE: Leelah Alcorn’s Tumblr site and suicide message have been purged from the net, presumably at the request of her family, but can still be found online: The Toast reproduces the suicide note here, and the first two comments on this blog post include links to archives of it.

The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say “that’s fucked up” and fix it. Fix society. Please.

Odds and Ends

Anti-intellectualism is taking over the US: The rise in academic book bannings and firings is compounded by the US’s growing disregard for scholarship itself.  (via Tressie McMillan Cottom @tressiemcphd)

DESIGN

Beloved Children’s Classics as Minimalist Posters. (via Maria Popova @brainpicker)

Google got it wrong. The open-office trend is destroying the workplace. I am SO glad that I have never been tortured with this kind of office setup.

Sara Wanenchak: “Here’s 2014!” “…Really?” – Facebook’s algorithmic storytelling. “This isn’t just about algorithms being thoughtlessly cruel, having the problems that algorithms have an enormous amount of the time. This is about something powerful – Facebook – claiming that power in order to tell us a story about ourselves, the terms of which we don’t really control.”

INTERESTING

Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write. “No matter the quality of your prose, the act of writing itself leads to strong physical and mental health benefits, like long-term improvements in mood, stress levels and depressive symptoms.”

Why airlines want to make you suffer. “But the fee model comes with systematic costs that are not immediately obvious. Here’s the thing: in order for fees to work, there needs be something worth paying to avoid. That necessitates, at some level, a strategy that can be described as ‘calculated misery.’ Basic service, without fees, must be sufficiently degraded in order to make people want to pay to escape it. And that’s where the suffering begins. …Ultimately, the fee models and the distinctions they draw make class inequality, which may be felt less in other places, painfully obvious.”

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

This exchange in the comments of a blog post cheered me up no end. It could apply to so many online interactions.

COMMENTER 1: I’m curious… what did you use to get the frothy indignation off your monitor? I have that same problem. I’ve tried righteous anger, teary-eyed sadness, even Windex, but it’s still there.

COMMENTER 2: Kittens. Those foul creatures love slurping up the froth and tears of righteous indignation.

Legend of korra

If you want to read the article and comments that are the source of the above quotes, it’s In Which John C. Wright Completely Loses his Shit over Legend of Korra by Jim C. Hines. It’s about an animated cartoon that ended its final season by having the female lead walk off into the sunset (spirit world, actually) with another female. Hurrah! I’ve never seen this but it sounds like I should check it out.

The show’s writers were explicit about their intentions: “Our intention with the last scene was to make it as clear as possible that yes, Korra and Asami have romantic feelings for each other. The moment where they enter the spirit portal symbolizes their evolution from being friends to being a couple.” Wright asserted that this ending betrayed the show’s audience (link to original Wright post): “You were not content to leave the matter ambiguous, no, but had publicly to announce that you hate your audience, our way of life, our virtues, values, and religion.”  Hines called him on it: “I can damn well make sure you understand that you do not speak for the audience of this show. You are not the mouthpiece for fans. Speak your poison in your own name if you must, but don’t tarnish the rest of fandom with your bile.”

Then it moved into the comments. And Wright wrote another blog post, and Wright’s supporters turned up, and somehow Russia and Iran got mixed in, and Wright huffily announced in Hines’ comments that “I did not call for the extermination of people, but of ideas.” (To which Laura Resnick responded, “Mr. Wright, calling for the extermination of ideas is an appalling position, not a righteous defense,” a position I entirely agree with.)

Just… wow. I wonder if guys like Wright have any idea as to the extent to which their attacks actually only increase the credibility of the people they are attacking?

JUST FOR FUN

A Christmas card from a friend included a postcard of this building in Vienna—LOVE the architecture. Google Maps street view has a pretty good perspective on it as well.

And finally, just a delightful piece of writing… “now think of a story where the fairy godmother becomes Bellatrix”— a twisted fairytale by Foz Meadows.

 

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