From the World Pool: January 20, 2017

Socio-political commentary

Another long, long set of links.

US Politics

The Somehow Controversial Women’s March on Washington

The significant portion of white women who voted for Trump have sown doubts about the possibility of a true coalition. There is a reasonable suspicion that the alliances, rights, and prospects that women have hoped for and counted on are blown away far too easily—by men, by our own divisions, by conflict and contempt.

But this is precisely why the Women’s March feels vital. Of course it’s difficult to pull together an enormous group of women who may have nothing in common other than the conviction that a country led by Trump endangers their own freedoms and the freedoms of those they love. That conviction is nonetheless the beginning of the resistance that those planning to attend the march hope to constitute. 

KING: Arizona lawmaker proposes new bill banning classes or events discussing social justice on college campuses. I… have no words.

It would ban any courses, activities, or events that:
“Are designed primarily for a particular ethnic group.”
“Promote social justice toward a race.”
“Advocate solidarity based on ethnicity.”

Feminism

Tressie McMillan Cottom: Black Cyber Feminism

(Dis)ability and Health

Jennifer Brea: What happens when you have a disease doctors can’t diagnose  (Transcript here.)

The problem with the theory of hysteria or psychogenic illness is that it can never be proven. It is by definition the absence of evidence, and in the case of ME, psychological explanations have held back biological research. All around the world, ME is one of the least funded diseases. In the US, we spend each year roughly 2,500 dollars per AIDS patient, 250 dollars per MS patient and just 5 dollars per year per ME patient. This was not just lightning. I was not just unlucky. The ignorance surrounding my disease has been a choice, a choice made by the institutions that were supposed to protect us.

Policing

Blue Lies Matter

BuzzFeed News reviewed 62 incidents of video footage contradicting an officer’s statement in a police report or testimony. From traffic stops to fatal force, these cases reveal how cops are incentivized to lie — and why they get away with it.

Technology and Education

Google and the Misinformed Public

It’s impossible to know the specifics of what influences the design of proprietary algorithms, other than that human beings are designing them, that profit models are driving them, and that they are not up for public discussion. It’s time we hold these platforms accountable and perhaps even imagine alternatives — such as regulation of search engines — that uphold the public interest.

—From the Post-Truth Issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education

Tressie McMillan Cottom: Digitized Institutions and Inequalities

Economics

Stark inequality: Oxfam says 8 men as rich as half the world

The same report a year earlier said that the richest 62 people on the planet owned as much wealth as the bottom half of the population. However, Oxfam has revised that figure down to eight following new information gathered by Swiss bank Credit Suisse.

Resistance

Rogue Scientists Race to Save Climate Data from Trump

At 10 AM the Saturday before inauguration day, on the sixth floor of the Van Pelt Library at the University of Pennsylvania, roughly 60 hackers, scientists, archivists, and librarians were hunched over laptops, drawing flow charts on whiteboards, and shouting opinions on computer scripts across the room. They had hundreds of government web pages and data sets to get through before the end of the day—all strategically chosen from the pages of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration—any of which, they felt, might be deleted, altered, or removed from the public domain by the incoming Trump administration.

It’s not just the scientists who are scared: here’s the info dump from the US Department of Labor Women’s Bureau.

Is History Repeating Itself?

The Music Donald Trump Can’t Hear

What is to be done? In such a moment of continued emergency, the most important task may be to distinguish as rigorously as possible between new policies and programs that, however awful, are a reflection of the normal oscillation of power, natural in a mature democracy, and those that are not. 

Exiting the Vampire Castle

Right now there’s a critical clash on the left between ideologies of class and intersectionality. This article come down strongly on the class analysis side, and makes some interesting points about the problems of erasing class analysis and imposing identity and individualism as markers of left wing values.

But I have to say that overall I have no time for this argument as formulated here: it’s as limited as those it stands against. The “Vampire Castle” described, a bastion of bourgeois faux-leftist privilege, certainly exists; but it’s a wing of a much larger edifice. Intersectionality does not require that class issues be ignored; it says that you can’t look at class without also looking at how other structures of oppression intersect with it. Fisher does point out some real problems with certain applications of the mechanics of intersectional analysis that need to be addressed, but it’s either ignorant or disingenuous to make statements like, “While in theory it claims to be in favour of structural critique, in practice it never focuses on anything except individual behaviour.” That’s simply not true: intersectional analysis examines multiple overarching structures of power hierarchies. It’s also untrue to suggest that intersectional analysis entirely comes from a place of wealthy liberal privilege (“partly to cover up their own invariably wealthy, privileged or bourgeois-assimilationist background “), To do so is to entirely misrepresent the origins of the theory: the term was first used by Kimberle Williams Crenshaw, a black woman whose work was on civil rights and critical race theory, and came out of issues of exclusion raised by black women about the feminist movement.

Yes, it’s useful to point out that focusing on identity and individualism can be a problem in intersectionality; yes, it’s useful to point out that vicious in-fighting is a distraction from much more important issues. But when you say, “First of all, it is imperative to reject identitarianism, and to recognise that there are no identities, only desires, interests and identifications”?

Nope. That sounds an awful lot like privilege speaking.

10 Investigative Reporting Outlets to Follow

Geeking Out

What a concept! The Light Phone

Just cool

Boggle. Puffer fish skeleton.

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