The flurry of stuff going on after the election got me all twitchy about political reading and posting, but somehow I haven’t managed to post anything now for a while despite collecting links. And you know what? I think it can get overwhelming. So I’m going to trim it back.
…you might not notice, overall. But I really did.
Indivisible: A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda These are tactics that are useful to any progressive organizing against reactionary forces.
Who is this document by and for?
We: Are former progressive congressional staffers who saw the Tea Party beat back President Obama’s agenda.
We: See the enthusiasm to fight the Trump agenda and want to share insider info on how best to influence Congress to do that.
You: Want to do your part to beat back the Trump agenda and understand that will require more than calls & petitions.
You: Should use this guide, share it, amend it, make it your own, and get to work.
Trump Survival Toolkit: Donald Trump’s presidency will make these organizations, and many more, critically important to protecting Americans, our freedoms and liberties, as well as our democratic institutions.
corrupt.af: the name says it all.
…But a more important connection between the two men may be their common approach to leadership, which will almost certainly outlast any friendship that may form between them. During his campaign, Donald Trump repeatedly expressed admiration for the way Putin governed.
Donald Trump is Gaslighting America. Teen Vogue is doing some amazing journalism these days.
The Sunlight Foundation: Trump’s Conflicts of Interest
As someone who loves natural places, I find this really scary. The House just made it a lot easier to sell off national parks
A new rule, written by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT), establishes as fact that any legislation to dispose of public lands and natural resources would cost taxpayers exactly $0. This paves the way for the new Congress to get rid of vast swaths of public lands — all at the expense of the American taxpayer.
Under Congressional Budget Office accounting rules, the House is required to account for the cost of any legislation it considers. Now, the House does not need to even estimate any financial losses from giving away public land. Bills to dispose of public land will skip several steps in the normal legislative process, coming up for a vote without any discussion of the costs and benefits. The House approved the rules change by a vote of 234 to 193 on Tuesday.
Since the move applies only to House rules, it is not subject to approval by the Senate or a presidential signature. It is effective immediately.
Truth and lies and media literacy
Here are your 4 new best friends:
CHILLY AWKWARD SILENCE
Summer Brennan: Notes From the Resistance: A Column on Language and Power
We have been beset with dangerous euphemisms. A neo-nazi becomes “an economic populist.” A lie becomes “a claim.” A propagandist becomes “a maverick” or “a provocateur.” Equality becomes “identity politics.” A public school privatizer becomes “a school reformer.” A climate change denier becomes “a climate contrarian” and a climate scientist “a climate alarmist.” Journalists are being called “presstitutes” or “lügenpress,” which is German for “lying press,” a term adopted by the Third Reich. There has been a kind of doublespeak silencing on social media in which those speaking out against white supremacists are themselves called “racists,” and those pointing out misogyny are called “sexist.” A protestor becomes “an economic terrorist.” White people become “the working class.”
How in all of fuckery have we gotten to a point where y’all think we’re not talking to each other? Or not being exposed enough to the other person’s point of view? I mean, jesus fucking christ, that sounds NICE to me. I’ll take just a day without having to see some racist screed, I swear to god I’ll take just a day without seeing some gross ass man say some nasty shit about women, or POC, or indigenous people, or queer folk, or immigrants, or refugees, or poor people, or disabled people. If anything, I hear too much of this vile poison. I hear it in songs, and I hear it on TV shows, in movies, in books. I hear it from news anchors and from politicians, senators and head ministers. It is ever-present, and this demented notion that we’re just not seeing enough of it needs to die.
Did media literacy backfire? As someone who tried to use principles of media literacy in the classroom, I find this article troubling.
… too many students I met were being told that Wikipedia was untrustworthy and were, instead, being encouraged to do research. As a result, the message that many had taken home was to turn to Google and use whatever came up first. They heard that Google was trustworthy and Wikipedia was not.
Understanding what sources to trust is a basic tenet of media literacy education. When educators encourage students to focus on sourcing quality information, they encourage them to critically ask who is publishing the content. Is the venue a respected outlet? What biases might the author have? The underlying assumption in all of this is that there’s universal agreement that major news outlets like the New York Times, scientific journal publications, and experts with advanced degrees are all highly trustworthy.
Think about how this might play out in communities where the “liberal media” is viewed with disdain as an untrustworthy source of information…or in those where science is seen as contradicting the knowledge of religious people…or where degrees are viewed as a weapon of the elite to justify oppression of working people. Needless to say, not everyone agrees on what makes a trusted source.
Tech and politics
I feel like I’ve fallen down a wormhole, entered some parallel universe where black is white, and good is bad. Though later, I think that perhaps what I’ve actually done is scraped the topsoil off the surface of 2016 and found one of the underground springs that has been quietly nurturing it. It’s been there all the time, of course. Just a few keystrokes away… on our laptops, our tablets, our phones. This isn’t a secret Nazi cell lurking in the shadows. It’s hiding in plain sight.
Google is not ‘just’ a platform. It frames, shapes and distorts how we see the world
Did the Holocaust really happen? No. The Holocaust did not really happen. Six million Jews did not die. It is a Jewish conspiracy theory spread by vested interests to obscure the truth. The truth is that there is no evidence any people were gassed in any camp. The Holocaust did not happen.
Are you happy with that answer? Happy that if you have children, this is what they’re being exposed to? That all across America and France and Hungary and Holland and Britain, when people ask that question, this is what they are clicking on and reading and absorbing? No? Well, then, we really, really need to talk about Google. Right now. Because these are the “facts” of what happened according to the number one source of information to the entire planet. Type this into your Google search bar: “did the hol”. And Google suggests you search for this: “Did the Holocaust happen?”
And this is the answer: no.
How to bump Holocaust deniers off Google’s top spot? Pay Google There is something very, very wrong when an organization that says it helps people find information has lies at the top of its search results, and won’t change the algorithm that produces those results.
Frank Pasquale, professor of law at Maryland University, a leading expert on “algorithmic accountability”, called it “gross hypocrisy”. “They frequently say that Google search is not just about giving you a list of sources, but rather to answer your question. And empirically speaking, people tend to treat Google like an authority. So this is an appalling shirking of responsibility. It’s about money. It always is. The commercial imperative trumps all other aims at the company, including moral ones.”
Never again. The tech bosses may be meeting with Trump, but their employees are saying no way to a Muslim registry.
We, the undersigned, are employees of tech organizations and companies based in the United States. We are engineers, designers, business executives, and others whose jobs include managing or processing data about people. We are choosing to stand in solidarity with Muslim Americans, immigrants, and all people whose lives and livelihoods are threatened by the incoming administration’s proposed data collection policies. We refuse to build a database of people based on their Constitutionally-protected religious beliefs. We refuse to facilitate mass deportations of people the government believes to be undesirable.
List of fake news sites “Some of contents of this educational resource/google document, specifically the list of potential false, misleading, clickbait-y, and/or satirical news sources, have been removed in order for it to be transferred to and expanded on in a more permanent, dynamic, and collaborative home. This page will reflect updates as they become available.”
World Economic Forum says capitalism needs urgent change When the rich guys who meet at Davos are worried about where things are going…
“The combination of economic inequality and political polarization threatens to amplify global risks, fraying the social solidarity on which the legitimacy of our economic and political systems rests,” it added.
That’s some conclusion from an organization that’s sought to play a central role in the globalization process of the past couple of decades and that is closely identified with some of the world’s richest people.
The changing shape of US income distribution. It’s one thing to hear about it—it’s another to see it.
Trump, Putin and the Pipelines to Nowhere: You can’t understand what Trump’s doing to America without understanding the “Carbon Bubble”
Here’s the blunt reality: the pressure to cut emissions and respond to a changing climate are going to alter what we do and don’t see as valuable. Climate action will trigger an enormous shift in the way we value things.
If we can’t burn oil, it’s not worth very much. If we can’t defend coastal real estate from rising seas (or even insure it, for that matter), it’s not worth very much. If the industrial process a company owns exposes them to future climate litigation, it’s not worth very much. The value of those assets is going to plummet, inevitably… and likely, soon.
(Dis?)ability and accessibility
How a blind astronomer found a way to hear the stars (Transcript of a TEDtalk)
I thought long and hard about it, when I suddenly realized that all a light curve is, is a table of numbers converted into a visual plot. So along with my collaborators, we worked really hard and we translated the numbers into sound. I achieved access to the data, and today I’m able to do physics at the level of the best astronomer, using sound. And what people have been able to do, mainly visually, for hundreds of years, now I do it using sound.
Feminism 101. This is pretty basic stuff, but may be useful to some.
I look at my precious daughter. All her life, I have enjoyed cultivating in her a tiny subversive streak called feminism. It’s partly protection – otherwise she’ll be another ignorant victim of sexism – and partly straight-up rejection of society’s imposed values. I was delighted to overhear my other daughter (aged 11) explaining feminism succinctly to her friend: “It’s basically the idea that no-one can tell you what to do just because you’re a girl. Or a boy.” I’m sure my children are a veritable nightmare at school (they tend to yell ‘sexism’ alarmingly wherever they find it), but it’s been a privilege and a pleasure to teach them about feminism. We have analysed, deconstructed and sometimes raged against the patriarchy together.
So why on earth have I spent the last 32 years plodding obediently into the ‘Womens’ Clothing’ section?
Sometimes There Are More Important Goals Than Civility: Confronting racism can be crucial, even when it’s not persuasive.
For people who suffer the incivil burden of bigotry, that claim doesn’t quite hold up. Sometimes the goal of argument is to vent. Sometimes it is to simply tell the truth. Sometimes it’s just to loudly proclaim one’s own humanity. The general burden to always remain civil in arguments—even if it means coddling white egos and casting a blind eye to obvious bigotry—can even create that need to commit to truth-telling at any cost. Civil discussions with people who themselves may have already breached the bounds of civility are difficult.
One way around that difficulty for marginalized folks is abandoning civility. The labels of racism and bigotry can impose a social cost on bigoted actions, policy preferences, or speech, regardless of whether hearts or minds are changed. Stigma can be useful.
Tressie McMillan Cottom: The Problem With Obama’s Faith in White America
White voters allowed Barack Obama because they allowed him to exist as a projection of themselves. It is seductive to believe Obama could shape that in some way, much less control and direct it. But, as Coates details in painful case after case of political obstructionism among Democrats and Republicans during the first black president’s terms, Obama never had the ability to shape white people’s attitudes. White people’s attitudes, the contradictions of their racial identities and class consciousness, made Obama. Obama did not make them.
Once again, my brain said, “That doesn’t look real. That looks like an article about a neo-Nazi in a respectable publication that treats him as benignly as some overyoung New York hedge fund exec with a particularly snappy fashion sense, and that’s not realistic, so I guess we’re back in the movie. What a sucky movie.” Except no, brain, this is real life.
Jamelle Bouie, Gene Demby, Aisha Harris, and Tressie McMillan Cottom: I’m Not Your Racial Confessor: The black person’s burden of managing white emotions in the age of Trump.
I have white people who are close enough to me that they can be un-PC with me. I give them that permission. A random white person who thinks we’re friends because we share a desk at work doesn’t qualify. The real challenge seems to be getting white people to risk social closeness and then the hard work of talking about race. —Tressie McMillan Cottom
Gone are the days when teachers broke up fights and sent the kids home, calling the parents and perhaps suspending the kid if it was a serious incident. “School Resource Officers” or local cops now arrest the kids and, if there is any perceived injury (an arbitrary judgment), will charge them with third-degree assault – treating children cooped up in school as if they are violent adults on the streets. …The worst state is Virginia, with a rate of 16 students per 1,000 being referred to law enforcement. One school had a shocking 228 students, most between 11 and 14, that were referred to cops. A 12-year-old girl was charged with obstruction of justice for clenching her fist at a cop. 11-year-old Kayleb Moon-Robinson, who is autistic, was slammed to the floor for walking out of class too early, and then was charged with felony assault on a police officer and disorderly conduct.
“I should tell you upfront that the job only pays $9 an hour, but the prison is in the middle of a national forest. Do you like to hunt and fish?”
A yearlong BuzzFeed News investigation — based on interviews with 175 current and former UHS staff, including 18 executives who ran UHS hospitals; more than 120 additional interviews with patients, government investigators, and other experts; and a cache of internal documents — raises grave questions about the extent to which those profits were achieved at the expense of patients.
…Former admissions and clinical staff told BuzzFeed News that most patients who arrived at their facilities did need treatment. But staff were under pressure to admit not just those people, but almost anyone who had insurance — especially when there were open beds.
“Your job is to get patients,” said a former clinician at Salt Lake Behavioral. “And you get them however you get them.”
For at least 20 years, upper-middle class, often tenured academics have been teaching young people that politics is a futile form of irony.
As we weather one discursive foodie sermon after another and choke down the aristocratic excesses of today’s foodie media complex, we may long for a sweet taste of silence. After all, there’s scant evidence that the vogue for artisanal cuisine has produced anything close to a more just, affordable, and robust food economy. If anything, it has driven our already class-segmented food system into still greater polarities, with privileged access to rabbit larb and Japanese uni at the upper end of the spectrum, and a wasteland of overprocessed, cheap, and empty slop at the other. To better grasp just how things got to be this way, let’s venture into the dark belly of the modern-day cult known as foodie-ism.
Oppression and Resistance
“We face an uncertain future. We have reasons to be afraid. But as I was reminded in Memphis, we’ve faced far worse before. We have a manual for resistance. We have models of courage and clarity. We have the playbook.”
When I fight back, though, when I continue to write about injustice in the face of the bullying campaigns that are daily life for every female activist I have met, precisely when I feel strongest—that’s when I’m told I’m weak. A crybaby. Special snowflake. Whiner. Virtue-signaling, I am told, by people who seem to believe that virtue never exists as a standard to strive towards, only as a set of empty signs.
…To demand “strength” from an oppressed person is to excuse their oppression, to label them weak for voicing anything that looks like dissent. That’s what we see when young people organizing for change are labelled “generation snowflake.” Dissent is called outrage, whining, crying victim, virtue signaling—unless it’s angry white neoreactionaries bravely fighting back against basic decency, in which case it’s called “legitimate concerns.” The concerns of women and minorities can never be legitimate—still less their pain.
But after all that…
It’s a pretty oppressive long list of depressing stuff to read about, isn’t it? So I’ll finish this part up by sending you to a music video. I believe I’ve posted the link before, but who cares? Vienna Teng: Level Up
Liftware’s selection of stabilizing and leveling handles and attachments are designed to help people with hand tremor or limited hand and arm mobility retain dignity, confidence, and independence.
Timed to align with Cooper Hewitt’s By the People: Designing a Better America exhibition—the third in its socially responsible design exhibition series—three of Pratt’s industrial design studios focused on this growing area of design activity.
I work in nature because we are nature…
2016 AICP Sponsor Reel. Amazing animation work.
Bauhaus: Download original books and journals for free.
Have you heard the fuss about the new movie Passengers? Spoilers: a guy on an intergalactic spaceship who is supposed to sleep through the journey is woken years ahead of schedule. Faced with the prospect of living out his life alone, he fixates on a pretty young woman and… “He then wakes Aurora up, effectively forcing her to live out her life with him. I kept waiting for the twist…the moment when the narrative’s “hero” would be called to account for his actions. After all, he’d knowingly, deliberately condemned this woman, a fellow human being, to a horrifyingly lonely existence. Her only options would be to enter into some form of relationship with Jim (an emotional one, if not a physical/romantic one), or to remain alone forever. Instead, there was a brief estrangement, before all was resolved after a big action set-piece finale. Effectively kidnapping somebody is fine, it turns out, because they’ll probably eventually come to love you anyway.’
Needless to say, a lot of people don’t like this—especially women and critics—and the box office results reflect this. But here’s a cool thing: someone explored an alternative plot that wasn’t creepy and predictable. It works, and it’s WAY more interesting and original than the Stockholm Syndrome ever was.
While I was working hard on all of this, a smart autistic woman told me that I was solving the wrong problem. She said: “My biggest problem is not understanding the emotions of others. My biggest problem is you are not understanding my emotions.”
I sought to learn more — Was it just me? I knew I could improve, but was I really THAT awful? She reassured me that it wasn’t just me: most people misunderstand her emotions. And it’s not just her: most autistic people are misunderstood.
Tweetstormer: Oh, now this is cool and very, very handy. If you’re on Twitter and someone has gone off on a tweetstorm, it lets you search by name and consolidates the tweets by time, making it much easier to follow what they’ve been saying
After months of speculation and leaked documents, NASA’s long-awaited EM Drive paper has finally been peer-reviewed and published. And it shows that the ‘impossible’ propulsion system really does appear to work.
Just for fun
HELLO NEIGHBOUR STEVE One of the things I love about Tumblr is how things take on a life of their own. (Read the whole thing.)