This cat is bored with your concerns. Continue reading “From the world pool: July 22, 2017”
This cat is bored with your concerns. Continue reading “From the world pool: July 22, 2017”
Happy Earth Day. (“Black Marble” image courtesy NASA)
Sorry, there’s not a lot of light stuff in today’s post. Continue reading “From the world pool: February 10, 2017”
My gosh, what a week. Long list of links to put up.
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. Continue reading “From the world pool: January 13, 2017”
There’s nothing like a problematic election to generate an unending list of things to read. Can I just say that I’d really rather have the unproblematic election?
I’m not putting this under US politics, because (a) some of it isn’t and (b) some of it applies wherever you live.But then that applies to quite a bit under the US politics subhead too, so you should read that as well.
Jo Cox in her own words “Our priority now is to try and focus on Jo’s amazing life and not the manner of her death.”
A Time for Treason: A reading list created by a group of Black, Brown, Indigenous, Muslim, and Jewish people who are writers, organizers, teachers, anti-fascists, anti-capitalists, and radicals.
Where we go from here Warrior up! Begin with small actions. We’ll be updating this list of resources, so do check back, and please comment below with your own suggestions.
The flood of “fake news” this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation.
Russia’s increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery — including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human “trolls,” and networks of websites and social-media accounts — echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia.
Fake News Is Not the Only Problem. Bias, propaganda, and deliberately misleading information are much more prevalent and do more damage.
No. Clinton did not fund ISIS.
No. She does not have Parkinson’s or some bizarre neurological disorder.
But the web that we’ve built — the social web, search engines, and spaces governed by algorithmic systems attuned to social signals (clicks, shares, likes, comments) — makes it increasingly difficult to locate a definitive response to fabrications like Clinton funding ISIS.
Christiane Amanpour: 2016 Burton Benjamin Memorial Award Acceptance Speech. Transcript here.
Since when were American values elitist values?…And since when did neo-Nazism and anti-semitism stop being a crucial litmus test in the United States?
To demonstrate how reality may differ for different Facebook users, The Wall Street Journal created two feeds, one “blue” and the other “red.” If a source appears in the red feed, a majority of the articles shared from the source were classified as “very conservatively aligned” in a large 2015 Facebook study. For the blue feed, a majority of each source’s articles aligned “very liberal.” These aren’t intended to resemble actual individual news feeds. Instead, they are rare side-by-side looks at real conversations from different perspectives.
In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism is what has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, change. When you have a belief system that is built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn’t “coastal elites don’t understand rural Americans.” The problem is rural America doesn’t understand itself and will NEVER listen to anyone outside their bubble. It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views are automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they WILL NOT even entertain the possibility it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their fundamentalist belief system and the fact I’m the enemy because I’m an educated liberal.
I realized that the Trump campaign wasn’t talking to readers; it was delivering content to watchers. This meant Trump had identified an audience for himself different from that of any other candidate. He was the only candidate campaigning exclusively through television. All the other Republicans, despite appearing on television, were campaigning in text. They produced policy statements; they read written remarks. Even Marco Rubio, in delivering his concession speech, read from a text.
Trump appears to have understood that the U.S. is transitioning from a text-based to an oral culture. I don’t mean by this that a commitment to text will disappear, only that it has become a minority practice, once again a mark of membership in a social elite.
Hate and extremism:
Shattered: Hillary Clinton aimed at the highest glass ceiling. What broke instead was the coalition she thought would pierce it—and faith that it will happen.
We are in a period of tremendous national turmoil. What we are seeing is a backlash not just against Clinton’s candidacy but against the entire eight years of the Obama administration. It’s not just about who gets to be president. It’s about who gets to vote for the president, who gets to stay in America and make their families here and how those families get to be configured. It’s about who controls the culture, who makes the art, who makes the policies, whom those policies benefit and whom they harm.
Calling them alt-right helps us fight them. I’m not sure I entirely agree with this, but it raises some interesting points and has information on the sub-variants.
Attending a demonstration in Ferguson, Mo. Advocating against campus-carry gun laws. Writing about gun violence as a public-health issue.
Those are the types of actions that landed about 200 professors on a watch list started on Monday by Turning Point USA, a nonprofit group that aims to “to identify, educate, train, and organize students to promote the principles of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government.”
The group’s website, meanwhile, intends “to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values, and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.”
The bottom line: I am by no means predicting the collapse of democracy in the United States under a President Donald J. Trump. What I am saying is that it is not impossible, and there are some clear warning signs to watch out for. Now, as always, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Or to use a more modern formulation: If you see something, say something.
Trump has a plan for government workers. They’re not going to like it.
“I have to tell you, I am emotionally fucking pissed,” another participant said. “How can this not influence coverage? I am being totally honest with you. Toward the end of the campaign, it got to a point where I thought that the coverage was all about [Trump’s] flaws and problems. And that’s legit. But, I thought, O.K., let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. After the meeting today, though—and I am being human with you here—I think, Fuck him! I know I am being emotional about it. And I know I will get over it in a couple of days after Thanksgiving. But I really am offended. This was unprecedented. Outrageous!”
Kellyanne Conway, who managed Trump’s campaign and who is now his senior adviser, said that the meeting had been “very cordial, candid, and honest.”
Work is a gift our kids can handle. This organization is said to have received thousands of dollars in donations from Betsy DeVos and her family.
Dykes to Watch Out For:
Then I asked around and professional media people told me that there isn’t a style convention on this matter so much as an informal culture. The general rule, I was told, is to never call anything racist and certainly to never call anyone racist. At best, they might quote someone calling something or someone racist.
The implication is that there is no such thing as objectively racist. Racism, according to many mainstream media producers and gatekeepers, can only be subjective.
For hundreds of generations, the Gwich’in people of Alaska and northern Canada have depended on the caribou that migrate through the Arctic Refuge. With their traditional culture now threatened by oil extraction and climate change, two Gwich’in women are continuing a decades-long fight to protect their land and future.
I watched the livestream video of this about two or three hours after it happened. I watched the hose spray everywhere in the crowd. I watched a fire start where the police had been lobbing things, and protectors rush to put it out; the hose was nowhere to be seen for that fire. And then the next day I read the police statement that said that the fires had been lit by the protestors—exactly what the person making the video said they would say.
And later I watched the almost complete absence of coverage of this by American media. Shameful.
A Dakota Pipeline’s Last Stand. The historical context of the water protectors’ action.
Their confrontations with police — who have responded with water cannons, pepper spray and rubber bullets — have steered attention to the 1,170-mile-long oil pipeline project and its owner, Energy Transfer Partners. But the real source of Native Americans’ grievance stretches back more than a century, to the original government incursions on their tribal lands. And those earlier disputes over their rights to the land, like the one over the Dakota Access pipeline, pitted the tribes against a persistent force, the Army Corps of Engineers.
If you want to donate to Standing Rock:
Food art. Food cookies? Whatever.
Well, I suck at updating my blog, don’t I? I haven’t done a world pool collection since October 18th. And as I had a lot of stuff to post two weeks ago—and almost got to it but didn’t quite—I now have an enormously long list of links.
Much of it had to do with the American election. I’m still going to post some of it, if I think it’s relevant to the aftermath, though I must say that the aftermath on its own is generating an ever-growing cascade of things to read.
This is a VERY long blog post, so I’m going to put the actual links under the cut. Continue reading “From the world pool: November 20, 2016”
This Vote Is Legally Binding. Did you read that awful advice thing from the Men’s Rights Activist called How to Talk to a Woman Wearing Headphones? (Trigger Warning: extraordinary levels of privilege and creepiness.) It spawned quite the internet memes, but this is one particularly brilliant response, from the wonderful Ursula Vernon.
The Disappearing Act. How women in science and academia get erased. “Take one 11th century Italian physician named Trotula who gained both fame and respect in her own lifetime for treating women’s ailments. By the next century, a historian assumed someone so accomplished couldn’t be a woman and changed her pronoun and name to the masculine form. (via @KameronHurley)
Equal Means Equal: A Wake-Up Call to Women WRITER-DIRECTOR-ACTRESS Kamala Lopez is an outspoken proponent of the Equal Rights Amendment. She believes that, more than any other legislation on behalf of women, the ERA could turn the tide on the systemic sexism and biases against women — including the gender pay gap, sexual assault and rape, pregnancy discrimination, domestic violence, female poverty and homelessness, health care and reproductive rights — by its assertion that “civil rights may not be denied on the basis of one’s sex.” Her film Equal Means Equal takes on these weighty issues in a sobering 94-minute wake-up call to American women on the vast inequities they face in the United States, while providing a compelling argument for the urgency of ratifying this constitutional amendment, which was first introduced in 1923 and passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification in 1972.
It’s hard to believe that it’s never passed, isn’t it? Or maybe not so hard to believe.
Watch Helen Mirren shut down the patriarchy in this incredibly sexist 1975 interview. This cheered me up a bit.
The ignorance aimed at Caster Semenya flies in the face of the Olympic spirit. “If this were a simple case of sour grapes it would fade with few caring. But the stakes are far higher. The IAAF is going back to Cas to defend a policy that it accepts discriminates against women. A policy whose explicit aim is to make women slower. That benefits no one.”
The Court That Rules the World This is scary stuff. “A parallel legal universe, open only to corporations and largely invisible to everyone else, helps executives convicted of crimes escape punishment.”
The Legacy of Lynching, on Death Row. “Lynchings, which took the form of hangings, shootings, beatings, and other acts of murder, were often public events, urged on by thousands, but by the nineteen-thirties the behavior of the crowds had begun to draw criticism in the North. ‘The only reason lynchings stopped in the American South was that the spectacle of the crowds cheering these murders was becoming problematic,’ Stevenson told me. ‘Local law enforcement was powerless to stop the mob, even if it wanted to. So people in the North started to say that the federal government needed to send in federal troops to protect black people from these acts of terror. No one in power in the South wanted that—so they moved the lynchings indoors, in the form of executions. They guaranteed swift, sure, certain death after the trial, rather than before the trial.'” (via @eilatan)
Why Do We Judge Parents For Putting Kids At Perceived — But Unreal — Risk? “Additional analyses suggested that it was indeed participants’ judgment of the parent’s immorality that drove up their assessments of risk. The authors sum up their findings like this: ‘People don’t only think that leaving children alone is dangerous and therefore immoral. They also think it is immoral and therefore dangerous.'”
White Nonsense Roundup: on Facebook and on Twitter. “White Nonsense Roundup (WNR) was created by white people to address our inherently racist society in our own communities. We believe it is our responsibility to call out white friends, relatives, contacts, speakers, and authors who are contributing to structural racism and harming our friends of color. We are a resource for anti-racist images, links, videos, artwork, essays, and voices. These can be used by anyone for a DIY white nonsense roundup, or by the WNR team to support people of color upon their request.”
How To Talk About Privilege To Someone Who Doesn’t Know What That Is. “The actual privileges we inherit because of our identity don’t define our character, but what does is whether we choose to act to change the system of oppression that affords us those privileges.” (via @nowhitenonesense)
Think Before You Appropriate: The Intellectual Property Issues in Cultural Heritage (IPinCH) project is a seven-year international research initiative based at Simon Fraser University, in British Columbia, Canada. The researchers there have created a resource titled: “THINK BEFORE YOU APPROPRIATE” and CARFAC is urging all artists to give it a read.
Think Before You Appropriate provides advice to designers and marketers on why and how to avoid misappropriation, and underlines the mutual benefits of responsible collaborations with Indigenous artists and communities. This is an important tool for all peoples in Canada as we move towards reconciliation and respect for Indigenous cultures and peoples.
Well, this is depressing.
“Our living dinosaurs:” There are far fewer African elephants than we thought, study shows. “The current rate of species decline is 8%, meaning that elephant numbers could halve to 160,000 in nine years if nothing changes, according to the survey — and localized extinction is almost certain.” (via @ChrisBoese)
Artist Turns Old Farm Equipment Into Incredible Animal Sculptures You’ll Ever See. I kind of want one for my yard.
I think it’s time for a cheery set of links. (It’s a short list because I last posted links just a few days ago.)
Biologist Single-Handedly Repopulates a Rare Species of Butterfly in His Backyard “The California pipevine swallowtail butterfly was once suffering a fate that so many creatures face—the loss of its habitat in San Francisco was causing their population to decline. But thanks to one man’s DIY efforts, the iridescent blue-winged insect is flourishing again. California Academy of Sciences aquatic biologist Tim Wong single-handedly revived the flailing species by building a home for them in his backyard. Now, over three years later, the stunning butterflies have slowly returned to the Golden Gate city.”
Oh, now this is cool. “Raubdruckerin uses drain covers as a printing module for textiles and paper. By pressing a garment on a drain cover coated with paint, the surface is being transferred as a graphical pattern onto the desired object. After first experiments in 2006 Raubdruckerin is meanwhile printing in streets all over the world.
I’m not sure if this should be categorized as art or geekery. Both, maybe? MIT and Microsoft Research made a ‘smart’ tattoo that remotely controls your phone “The paper presents three key use cases for the tattoo: you could use it to turn your skin into a trackpad, design it to change color based on temperature, or pull data from the tattoo.”
Collected over the last month. I’m not doing nearly a good enough job keeping up with this!
Trump’s Assassination Dog Whistle Was Even Scarier Than You Think Stochastic terrorism, as described by a blogger who summarized the concept several years back, means using language and other forms of communication “to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.” Let’s break that down in the context of what Trump said. Predicting any one particular individual following his call to use violence against Clinton or her judges is statistically impossible. But we can predict that there could be a presently unknown lone wolf who hears his call and takes action in the future. Stated differently: Trump puts out the dog whistle knowing that some dog will hear it, even though he doesn’t know which dog. (via @PatrickWeekes)
This is particularly terrifying in the context of this recent poll: New Poll Shows Trump Supporters Mostly Believe Whatever He Says
And this chart: Who Lies More: A Comparison
Laurie Penny: I’m With the Banned
Likable. Because Hillary Clinton, you see, would like to be President. And the thing is, there’s no right way for her to do that, either. The problem is that, if she campaigns too hard, or works too much, she (again) looks “pathologically ambitious,” obsessive, “ruthless,” selfish, and over-confident in her own abilities. (Unlike, say, anyone else who thought they deserved to be the leader of the free world.) On the other hand, if she actually wins anything, or succeeds in any way, everyone is pretty certain that she didn’t earn it: She slept her way to the top! The media is being unfair to Bernie! This whole thing is rigged!!!! She works too hard, and wants to succeed too much, but when she succeeds, it’s apparently never due to all that hard work. The only way for her to campaign “appropriately,” in this scheme, is to sit back and let a male opponent win. Or to not run at all. (via @juliedillon)
Bernie or Bust Supporters Continue to Sabotage Clinton Just to Prove a Point They are so desperate to see Hillary lose, several thousand have now huddled up around Jill Stein as the third-party spoiler. That means that their need for revenge is bigger than their need to preserve a moderate to liberal Supreme Court. It’s bigger than the safety of Muslim Americans under a spiteful Trump presidency. It’s bigger than respecting millions of hardworking Latino immigrants. It’s bigger than the fate of LGBT families whose rights will be stripped and reversed under a conservative Supreme Court. It’s bigger than the bare bones austerity budget Paul Ryan wants and needs to pass, reversing the course of decades of post-Roosevelt social policies. It’s bigger than demanding equal rights for women not be rolled back. It’s bigger than the environment because Trump has made it very clear that he doesn’t believe in climate change and wants to drill baby drill, burn coal till there’s no more to burn, and “bomb their oil and take their oil.” Their need for revenge is bigger than any other concern facing anyone poor, struggling, needy or oppressed. It has only to do with their anger and rage, their sense of entitlement, their hatred of women. (via @juliedillon)
“CHASING ICE” captures largest glacier calving ever filmed On May 28, 2008, Adam LeWinter and Director Jeff Orlowski filmed a historic breakup at the Ilulissat Glacier in Western Greenland. The calving event lasted for 75 minutes and the glacier retreated a full mile across a calving face three miles wide. The height of the ice is about 3,000 feet, 300-400 feet above water and the rest below water.
As a visual spectacle, this is just amazing. But it’s scary, too: think global warming.
In debt and out of hope: Faces of the student loan mess I am so very glad I’m not living in the US with a student loan.
Getty Likely To Settle $1B Suit By Photographer For Appropriating Her Public-Domain Work “Getty Images was perhaps a bit overzealous when it attempted to collect money from prolific photographer Carol Highsmith for using her own photograph without Getty’s permission.”
Understatement, I’d say.
How Pokemon Go Simulates the Ravages of Old Age Through Terrible Game Design. All right, I confess, I’m playing it, in a very laid back sort of way, not trying to capture the local gym (our post office) but just collect, which is a challenge in a rural environment. I hope these are things they fix. (via @kyliu99)
E = E-commerce As humans, we don’t prefer low quality. It was only through the rise of fast fashion — a business model based on the artificial creation of short-term trends combined with clothing that doesn’t last, what other industries call “planned obsolescence” — that consumers were, with of course very large marketing budgets, convinced to accumulate all of this stuff.
How to Email Your Professor (without being annoying AF) Every semester, I see the tweets and Facebook posts. My professor friends, they are annoyed. Their students do not know how to write emails, they say. What they really mean is that their students don’t know how to follow the conventions of email etiquette in the academy. I used to be exasperated by student emails too. Until I realized that there was a simple explanation for why they didn’t know how to write them — they’ve never actually been taught how.
Wish some of my students had seen this.
The Boy Who Lived Forever You can see both sides of the issue. Do characters belong to the person who created them? Or to the fans who love them so passionately that they spend their nights and weekends laboring to extend those characters’ lives, for free? There’s a division here, a geological fault line, that looks small on the surface but runs deep into our culture, and the tectonic plates are only moving farther apart. Is art about making up new things or about transforming the raw material that’s out there? Cutting, pasting, sampling, remixing and mashing up have become mainstream modes of cultural expression, and fan fiction is part of that. It challenges just about everything we thought we knew about art and creativity.
I wake up from my reverie and we are still parked at South Station. I tune into the conversation around me and hear the kids. Let me emphasize KIDS. Kids making a game plan for what they will do if the police start to shoot them.
I glance up at the boy across from me. He is squirming. He wants off bad. He is texting fiercely. I’m assuming he’s telling someone what we are both observing.
The girl next to me notices my presence and says “Sorry for messing up your ride.”
I say “Don’t worry about it.”
My voice catches on the last word. My throat starts to sear. She asks “Are you upset?”
I respond “Yeah, I guess I am. I just don’t understand why they are calling the cops.”
She says “Because we are black.”
The 12-year-old turns to the group and quietly says “Black lives matter.” They all murmur in agreement.
Jupiter Approach NASA/JPL is excited to share the unprocessed images that comprise the approach movie acquired by JunoCam as the Juno spacecraft approached Jupiter.
When you really think about it, this is just so amazing.
Radioooo Pick a country and a decade and listen.
The NRA vs. America (via @PatrickWeekes): Today’s NRA stands astride some of the ugliest currents of our politics, combining the “astroturf” activism of the Tea Party, the unlimited and undisclosed “dark money” of groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, and the sham legislating conducted on behalf of the industry through groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council. “This is not your father’s NRA,” says Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, a top gun-industry watchdog. Feldman is more succinct, calling his former employer a “cynical, mercenary political cult.” … The NRA insists in its publications that it is “not a trade organization” and that it is “not affiliated with any firearm or ammunition manufacturers or with any businesses that deal in guns and ammunition.” That is a lie. NRA’s corporate patrons include 22 firearms manufacturers, 12 of which are makers of assault weapons with household names like Beretta and Ruger, according to a 2011 analysis by the Violence Policy Center. The report, drawn from the NRA’s own disclosures, also identified gifts from dozens of firms that profit from high-capacity magazines, including Browning and Remington. Donors from the industry and other dark reaches of the corporate world – including Xe, the new name of the mercenary group Blackwater – had funneled up to $52 million to the NRA in recent years.
There’s been a lot of talk about Devin Faraci’s rant about entitled fans. Some good responses:
Use of the term POC. “So, the term “person of colour” is meaningless to me in the non-Western context context, and I personally find it actively harmful when people lump us as “POC cultures” because it purports to create an illusion of solidarity that obscures the massive amount of racism and oppression Asians are enacting against each other till today. Further, I see it as a projection of Western race politics on a non-Western context, which is decentering from local dynamics.”
Emily Brill: copy editing /is/ political
Stories of working retail. It adds up to quite a horror show.
Periodic Uterine Tantrum, by Natalie Luhrs. A wonderful essay. Women have been saying for decades that the medical profession doesn’t take female complaints seriously. It’s disappointing to see how little has changed.
The sexism problem. Harassment drove me out of physics 30 years ago and little has changed. Why is scientific sexism so intractable? “Most depressing of all is how sexism keeps reinventing itself, morphing into new forms just when it seems we might be on the verge of overcoming the old ones. There are signs now that we have reached a plateau in terms of women’s representation in the ‘hard’ sciences, suggesting that underlying structural issues remain unresolved. According to the US National Science Foundation, only 20 per cent of physics PhDs in the States go to women, a figure that hasn’t shifted much in two decades. In computer science, it’s now 21 per cent: fewer than 20 years ago.”
What trans men see that women don’t. “Cultural sexism in the world is very real when you’ve lived on both sides of the coin”
These are the cities that climate change will hit first. And here’s the interactive map. (via @ChrisBoese)
Never Mind the Sharing Economy: Here’s Platform Capitalism “This might sound trivial but given the confused usage of the notion of sharing, it seems appropriate to remind ourselves that helping each other out by sharing our resources is one thing while commodifying these resources by charging a fee for their use is quite another. And this gets us to the more innovative dimension of the “sharing economy.” Today, the “sharing economy” entails much more than just digital updates of second-hand exchange and rentals. What companies like Uber, AirBnB, TaskRabbit or Postmates have in common is that they are platforms coordinating supply and demand of products and services that in their present form were previously unavailable on the market. … While it might be convenient to make use of these services, they have absolutely nothing to do with sharing. They stand for a digitally enabled expansion of the market economy, which, again, is the opposite of sharing. If someone does my shopping or drops me at the airport in exchange for a financial fee, how is this sharing?”
Crochet coral reef gallery. This is just so cool.
This graphic is quite appalling. People who are 18-29 are definitely getting screwed.
But there was one other thing I noticed.
Now, there’s obviously no direct correlation between these generations and the age groups in the graphic. Most baby boomers fall into the oldest group. The second oldest group, those who have done the best, are a couple of years of boomers and 5 or 6 years of Millenials, but are mostly Generation X. The second youngest group, which is half Millenials, doesn’t do quite as well as boomers, but it’s after the older cohort of Millenials that the road really goes over the cliff.
I’ve seen quite a lot of online complaining about how boomers got everything for themselves and in the process ruined it for everyone else. (Which ignores, of course, issues of class and power, but that’s another topic.) And of course on the whole boomers have done very well for themselves, and young people are extremely disadvantaged by comparison, and have a right to be pissed. But based on this graphic, it looks like the “got everything” demographic isn’t just greedy old farts.
Another chart. Attitudes in two different industries. The comments are also interesting.
The nostalgia machine. Hit a year and see what music was playing.
“I might want one of these,” I thought. And then I thought: CATS.
Neighbors said to fear ‘transient academics’. The comments are golden.
Some of you may not know what cosplay is. It’s short for “costumed roleplay” and is a delightful combination of craft and fandom and passion that produces some spectacular creativity. Most of the time cosplayers present themselves as superheroes and/or characters from popular media, but sometimes they do… other things. (Be sure to watch both videos).
And because of the horrors in Orlando this week, it seems appropriate to end on something so unabashedly celebratory: Shut up and dance with me.
Outside, tomorrow, hangovers, regrets, the grind. Outside, tomorrow, the struggle to effect change. But inside, tonight, none of that matters. Inside, tonight, the only imperative is to love. Lap the bar, out for a smoke, back inside, the ammonia and sweat and the floor slightly tacky, another drink, the imperative is to get loose, get down, find religion, lose it, find your hips locked into another’s, break, dance on your own for a while — but you didn’t come here to be a nun — find your lips pressed against another’s, break, find your friends, dance. The only imperative is to be transformed, transfigured in the disco light. To lighten, loosen, see yourself reflected in the beauty of others. You didn’t come here to be a martyr, you came to live, papi. To live, mamacita. To live, hijos. To live, mariposas.
—Justin Torres, In Praise of Latin Night at the Queer Club
Well, I missed a whole week of links posts, and then a bit more, so this is an attempt to make up for it. I missed them because I mostly find interesting stuff when I’m surfing on my iPad, and then send myself an email with the links so that they’re in my mailbox when it comes time to write the links post, which I do on my computer. But last week when I went to go through those emails, they weren’t there. Somehow the mail I sent from any number of programs on my iPad wasn’t getting through. I checked the settings and they seemed to be okay, but…
Anyway, I tweaked some things and maybe it’s working now. More getting through, at any rate, though it still seems a bit wonky.
Revelations About Being Brown in a World of White Beauty. “In dentistry speak, the space between two front teeth is called a maxillary midline diastema. It is a genetic trait. It occurs across cultures and in casual observance, appears to have a higher occurrence among black communities. Some research notes black children exhibit more than twice the prevalence of gap teeth as white children. In books and articles I’ve read over the years, a worldview became visible about its value, ranging from ‘normal’ to ‘appalling’ to a ‘deviation from normal adult dentition.’ … A Nigerian acquaintance once told me how much he loved my gap. I learned from him that my gap teeth are valued, and in some instances coveted, by some Nigerian woman. I had never considered that I would posses anyone’s ideal. I live in America, and there are many reinforcements to remind me that small gap-toothed dark girls are the least desired. My gap teeth defined as a beauty mark? That shifted my axis.” (via @iSmashFizzle)
Kansas has found the ultimate way to punish the poor. “The legislature placed a daily cap of $25 on cash withdrawals beginning July 1, which will force beneficiaries to make more frequent trips to the ATM to withdraw money from the debit cards used to pay public assistance benefits. … It’s hard to overstate the significance of this action. Many households without enough money to maintain a minimum balance in a conventional checking account will pay their rent and their utility bills in cash. A single mother with two children seeking to withdraw just $200 in cash could incur $30 or more in fees, which is a big chunk of the roughly $400 such a family would receive under the program in Kansas.” (via @pericat)
James honed a definition that he finally published in his 2012 book, Assholes: A Theory. Formally stated, “The asshole (1) allows himself to enjoy special advantages and does so systematically; (2) does this out of an entrenched sense of entitlement; and (3) is immunized by his sense of entitlement against the complaints of other people.”
What separates the asshole from the psychopath is that he engages in moral reasoning (he understands that people have rights; his entitlement simply leads him to believe his rights should take precedence). That this reasoning is systematically, and not just occasionally, flawed is what separates him from merely being an ass. (Linguistics backs up the distinction: ass comes from the Latin assinus, for “donkey,” while the hole is in the arras, the Hittite word for “buttocks.”)
—Jerry Useem: Why It Pays to Be a Jerk
After these trivial but bracing exchanges, my pulse rate was normal, my cheeks were not red, I was not trembling. I hadn’t thought direct action would be so much fun. Habits of a lifetime peeled away. The world bristled with opportunities for a woman in her 70s to take a stand. I shouted on planes. I fought for my place in queues. I talked to myself out loud in public. I walked along the street singing a little song under my breath: “Back off. How dare you? Make my day.” I wouldn’t say I was on a hair-trigger. I was just primed for action.
— Helen Garner: The insults of age, A one-woman assault on condescension
Rishi Kaneria videos on Vimeo. These are some amazingly beautiful videos. Watch the Stunt Poetry one, even if you don’t watch the others.
Mad Max posters improved by Daily Mail comments. (Click on the individual images.) I keep reading reviews by feminists about this movie, and now I REALLY want to see it. (There are negative reviews by feminists as well, but so far in my online sources the pro-Mad Maxes are coming out way ahead.)
Can’t. Stop. Laughing: Xenostapler
“That escalated quickly.” (Ignore the warning about “sensitive content” if you get it, it’s worth it to see a sterling example of how one person sees one thing in an image while another might see something quite different.) (via @pericat)
Follow the money: The Weird, Money-Making World of Parody Twitter Accounts. (via @kyliu99)
The media and what I mean by “reinforcement”. “I’m not arguing that videogames are evil and cause lots of horrible things and we should ban them forever. I’m also not arguing that they’re distinct from other media – I’m arguing that they are one of many influences on people’s views (concious and unconscious) and that they will have a much easier job supporting society-wide views than implanting new unique ones.” Laying out the difference between reinforcement and causality. (via @Quinnae_Moon)
I’m a huge science fiction and fantasy fan, and this week that world exploded. Tl;dr: a group of conservative writers and fans, self-named the Sad Puppies (supported generally by the Rabid Puppies, an overlapping group), who believe that they represent the only real sf/f (and its True Fans) and have been shut out of winning the Hugos they deserve by the conspiracies of SJWs (Social Justice Warriors), gamed the nomination process to get a slate of their people onto the lists of nominees, displacing many worthy candidates.
Natalie Luhrs at Pretty Terrible has a round-up of links that I won’t bother recapping, go check them out; there are also oodles of posts by other sf/f writers and fan writers that you can find with a bit of digging. I will also add a few from mainstream media (which has been picking up on this, interestingly) to her list. All of these articles have lots of links, if you want to drop down a rabbit hole.
One additional note on this: last night I was reading comments on the post by George RR Martin that Natalie linked to in her links round-up. One of the Sad Puppy supporters complained that, “We’re tired of hateful, double-standard holding bigots attempting to sabotage the careers and reputations of people who don’t toe their lines.”
Martin asked for citations: “You make sweeping angry statements, drag in the odious Social Justice Warriors term, talk about feminists in the 1800s… but where are your FACTS? Whose career has been destroyed by the SJWs? Who are these pariahs? How does any of this relate to the Hugo Awards?”
The answer: “I can’t name many because you never hear about them in the first place.” And then the writer goes on to explain that a “chilling effect created by all of this means up-and-coming authors who have such ‘unpopular’ political views stay quiet. They don’t write works that might offend these peddlers of despair and outrage. They don’t get their careers ruined very often because they’re smart enough to keep their mouths shut. If they aren’t, their careers are shut down before the destruction of said careers would ever be newsworthy.”
Do you see what this is saying?! The fact that examples don’t exist is being used to prove that a conspiracy exists. This is the level of Sad Puppy logic.
Using Wikipedia: a scholar redraws academic lines by including it in his syllabus. What a great approach. (via @mchris4duke)
One does not simply send an email. “We’re not going to get to perfect security overnight, and the people who demand heroic measures aren’t being realistic or even helpful most of the time. I am not a security perfectionist. But there measures we can all start to take that would do a huge amount to reduce many, even most, of the security problems we face on a daily basis.” (via @tressiemcphd)
This is… appalling. Exclusive: Amazon makes even temporary warehouse workers sign 18-month non-competes. “The Amazon contract, obtained by The Verge, requires employees to promise that they will not work at any company where they ‘directly or indirectl’ support any good or service that competes with those they helped support at Amazon, for a year and a half after their brief stints at Amazon end. Of course, the company’s warehouses are the beating heart of Amazon’s online shopping empire, the extraordinary breadth of which has earned it the title of “the Everything Store,” so Amazon appears to be requiring temp workers to foreswear a sizable portion of the global economy in exchange for a several-months-long hourly warehouse gig. …The company has even required its permanent warehouse workers who get laid off to reaffirm their non-compete contracts as a condition of receiving severance pay.” (via @scalzi)
On Community, Fragments, and the Fringe: GamerGate, SJWs, and Everyone Between. “I want to build a community again, but every piece I have is broken, and I don’t know how they can be fit together again, or even if they can. I don’t even know where to begin.”
Author Scott Lynch takes on a reader complaining about one of his characters: “Why shouldn’t middle-aged mothers get a wish-fulfillment character, you sad little bigot?” (It gets even better.) (via @rcloenenruiz)
Why do we mock teenage girls who love One Direction when Top Gear fans are just the same? I had never heard of either One Direction or Top Gear, but the principle discussed is very solid. (via @fozmeadows)
O adjunct! My adjunct! “When I got to graduate school and began investigating post-graduate work, I finally learned what it meant to be an adjunct, and what such positions entailed. When it occurred to me that this was the job Harvey had, I was embarrassed by my naïveté, and angry that the school had never spelled this out for me, had never made it clear that so much of the work that Harvey did for his students was essentially uncompensated.”
Download 422 Free Art Books from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The article ends with links to other downloads.) (via @Quinnae_Moon)
The rhetoric of colorblindness is harmful in that it identifies difference (in race, gender, sexuality, ability, class, and more) as the impediment to equity rather than the systems that have registered those differences as inferior.
I was introduced to the antifascist resistance song Bella Ciao by Chumbawamba (this is their rewritten version in English, not a translation of the original lyrics). You can find a collection of original versions and translations here. And this week in my Twitter feed here it is again, led by a priest: Bella Ciao dopo la Santa Messa (via @makinglight)
All righty… for this week, lots of links and a fair bit of opinion. I’m turning into a mouthy old bat.
This is awful and it’s still unfolding and the news is full of it. A few thoughts:
The killings are despicable. This is clearly an act designed to intimidate people and oppose free speech, and people must stand together against this kind of terrorism.
Yet at the same time I can’t say “Je suis Charlie,” because I don’t want to be. I’ve looked through their cartoons, and some of them are vilely racist. Those cartoons go far beyond satire—the racism obliterates any strained satirical point—and I don’t want to be in any way associated with them. To clarify, this does NOT mean that I do not support free speech and the right of CH to publish—it means that I do not support the content of some of what they publish.
Katherine Cross puts this position across very well in Je ne suis Charlie: On the Charlie Hebdo massacre and duelling extremisms. “I support the sentiment, the empathy, the compassion that the slogan represents at its best (even if many are using it as a cover to spread Islamophobia as a misguided form of protest against Islamic extremism). But the simple fact is, I am not Charlie. I couldn’t be. Rather, I’m the sort of person who’d only ever get to be an ugly, rude caricature in their pages — a trans woman, a Latina, Puerto Rican but in the same community of Latinos scapegoated for various and sundry evils in the US, much as Muslims are in France. I’d never be the one wielding the pen, merely the lewd, pornographic subject and nothing more. I’d be fit for only the consumption of a privileged community, their joke, an unwilling jester. No, je ne suis pas Charlie.”
As a counterpoint, “I am not Charlie, I am Ahmed the dead cop. Charlie ridiculed my faith and culture and I died defending his right to do so. #JesuisAhmed” (not sure of original source, retweeted by @)
I also read a BBC op-ed article that said, “Unlike Charlie Hebdo, I had not set out to give offence. I am no satirist, and I do not usually enjoy hurting people’s feelings. Nevertheless, I too feel that some rights are worthy of being defended – and among them is the freedom of historians to question the origin myths of religions. That was why, when I heard the news from Paris yesterday, I chose to do something I would never otherwise have done, and tweet a Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Muhammad. …While under normal circumstances I am perfectly happy not to mock beliefs that other people hold dear, these are far from normal circumstances. As I tweeted yesterday, the right to draw Muhammad without being shot is quite as precious to many of us in the West as Islam presumably is to the Charlie Hebdo killers.”
Something about this bothered me, and it took me a little while to work out what it was. Here’s the thing: many individuals have republished CH cartoons from exactly these motivations of standing up for free speech. Organizations that normally would never dream of publishing the kind of racist content that CH produced, and would in fact critique it, are now republishing it. The point is to show that we won’t be silenced, and that’s important. But… the side effect of doing it in this way means offending many people who are not terrorists. Republishing the cartoons directly attacks not just the terrorists but all the multitudes of Muslims and minorities who are horrified by the attacks and condemn them without reservations*. How is that somehow now okay when it wasn’t before? It is possible to stand up for free speech and against terrorism without inflicting collateral damage—they are not mutually exclusive positions—but it doesn’t look like many are bothering to do so.
*Which of course raises the question: why are Muslims as a whole being asked to apologize for the actions of extremists?
Katherine Cross’s thoughts on “being polite” in discourse make a LOT of sense to me. (The first tweet is linked here; I don’t think anyone has storified them but this should help you find the original tweets if you want to.)
“See that’s exactly the problem with your column. You think being polite and respectful is the most important part of discourse” ~ a critic.
This is why I’m not a fan of the way the notion of the “tone argument” is structured, because it’s easily abused in precisely that way.
i.e. privileging caustic and aggressive speech as somehow more pure than reasoned discourse, which is as much of a fallacy as the reverse.
No, I don’t think politeness is the most important part of discourse; respect is far more important but still doesn’t come out on top.
No, if we must resort to ranking these things, I’d put “judgement” in the top slot. The ability to judge & discern different kinds of speech
Not all speech is equally valid or empirically accurate or just; learning to tell the differences is a vital skill.
If your response to that sort of thing is to throw your hands up and say “who gets to decide?” then I’d suggest you’re not into free speech.
Civic discourse is not just about the spewing of empty words (contrary to many a stereotype). It’s about resolutions and decisionmaking.
Speech has an outcome, an effect on the world. You don’t speak purely for its own sake, but for the sake of *doing something*.
So much free speech absolutism fetishises speech in the abstract, as if we say things simply for the hell of it.
That means avoiding absolute rules. Not all rude speech is awful and not all polite speech is virtuous. You must judge case by case.
So opposing racist caricatures, for instance, is not really about crudity per se, and disrespect only minimally. It’s about impact.
Other forms of rude, crude speech do *not* have the same deleterious impact (see: most Monty Python sketches).
Some forms of polite speech can be *deeply* harmful, e.g. Sarah Ditum’s call to suppress Leelah Alcorn’s suicide note.
The key to finding our way through this moral maze of speech is to learn how to judge, and judge fairly.
Russia says drivers must not have ‘sex disorders’: “Russia has listed transsexual and transgender people among those who will no longer qualify for driving licences. Fetishism, exhibitionism and voyeurism are also included as “mental disorders” now barring people from driving.”
Anti-terror plan to spy on toddlers ‘is heavy-handed.’ “Nursery staff and childminders are given ‘duty’ to report toddlers they suspect of being at risk of becoming terrorists under new Home Office measures.”
Katherine Cross: “We will force gaming to be free.” On gamergate & the licence to inflict suffering. “A careful examination of GamerGate reveals an anarchic social movement that is now fully given over to paranoid purge logic, purist orthodoxy, deep suspicion of outsiders and institutions, and, above all, a willingness to believe that the ends will justify the means. This conviction all but ensures that the movement will continually violate its own stated principles in order to achieve them, layering terrible irony atop terrible irony.”
A Man in Black: How imageboard culture shaped Gamergate. “That tell-tale wedding of relentless hostility and ethical affectation is a peculiar youth subculture spilling out into the open web. Get ready for more of it.”
Thoughts on shy nerd guy pain:
This makes me really angry. I live in a place that has a lot of trails used by hikers, mountain bikers, and horse riders…. And I’ve heard stories of mountain bike trail sabotage locally. The irony is that many of the trails that I use as a hiker were actually created by mountain bikers. Yes, there are issues with aggressive or discourteous behaviour by ALL trail using groups. Yes, there are battles between user groups. There are real issues with some kinds of trail use damaging trails; bikes and horses can do serious damage to them, but then, so can overuse by hikers, which is the group I’m primarily part of.
But the there are also solutions to these problems; you educate people as to how to share trails courteously, and you work on physical solutions that provide access while protecting the environment. You do NOT set traps that can hurt or kill someone.
Kickstarter and similar online crowd-sourcing venues now provide ways for people to fund projects that would otherwise be impossible to do. But evidently if you “do it wrong” there will be blowback. MCA Hogarth talks about how the reaction to the specifics of a request for funding relate to perceptions of risk-taking; Natalie Luhrs talks about the problems with too narrowly defining what is acceptable when asking for money.
Chaos at the Museum. “Beauty and craftsmanship are the standards by which their collections are traditionally built, but a number of design museums and galleries are widening their scope to include the ugly, dangerous and throwaway.” (via Paola Antonelli @curiousoctopus)
Intelligent design: The Empowerment Plan. “We are a humanitarian organization based in the city of Detroit. The plan centers around construction of a coat that transforms into a sleeping bag at night, and a bag when not in use. The coat is made by our team of mostly homeless single parents who have been paid to learn and to produce the coats for those living on the streets.” (via Paola Antonelli @curiousoctopus)
What we’re giving up on in 2015 “Giving up is easier, but it’s not just the lazy way out. It’s only when you throw out your ideal vision that you start living functionally with yourself the way you are.” (via Tressie McMillan Cottom @tressiemcphd) One item on the list that resonates with me: “… I have paid $2-$20 each for a plethora of online solutions to help manage my to do list and “life hack” my ADHD away: Evernote. Do It Tomorrow. Remember The Milk. The to-do list function in Google Calendar. HabitRPG. Those are just the ones I started and then immediately abandoned in 2014. With each abandonment or failure, I would beat myself up for two months about how terrible and lazy and disorganized I am before shelling out for the next thing that would fix my life. …This year? Fuck it. Fuck it so hard. I have one system that mostly works and that thing is physically writing down lists on paper.”
Local politician Kirby Delauter threatened a journalist with a lawsuit for reporting his name in a newspaper. This immediately and predictably and hilariously resulted in the Streisand effect. In particular, the offending newspaper’s response was a masterpiece (note the initial letter of each paragraph). He has since publically apologized, so I guess his attorney clued him in. (originally via @ChrisBoese before it all exploded)
William Geraldi wrote a supremely self-satisfied article on his experience of paternity leave, called “This Brat’s For You.” The gist: his wife did all the work, and he drank a lot. Mallory Ortberg riffed on it brilliantly: I’d Love To Help My Wife Do The Dishes, But I’m Trapped Under Something Heavy.