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?
Standing against bigotry
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:
- Update on USA Election Monitor
- Update: Incidents of Hateful Harassment Since Election Day Now Number 701
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:
Racism and Black Lives Matter
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:
Art + Design
Just for fun
Food art. Food cookies? Whatever.
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.)
Local environmental activism
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.”
Art + Design
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.”
Henry A. Giroux | Flipping the Script: Rethinking Working-Class Resistance (via @ChrisBoese)
Which brings me to this recording by Holly Near and Ronnie Gilbert.
(And let’s not forget… women are missing in Canada.) http://www.missingwomeninquiry.ca/
And of course I was reminded of this because Ronnie Gilbert died this week.
The ACLU unveiled a new mobile app designed to help you record and report abusive cops.
In the news
Good news for once. Conservation groups welcome protection for Strait of Georgia’s unique glass sponge reefs. (via Sheila Malcolmson)
Art + Design
Marko Korosec’s weather photos are amazing, especially some from this set: “I love extreme weather and seen a lot, but this was just above my imagination what I experienced earlier this week. A crazy amount of hard rime after more than a week of strong Bora winds and freezing fog atop of mt. Javornik, Slovenia. It was 100-150cm deep at some most exposed placed.”
Maggie Stiefvater: A novel is a lovely but forbidding natural monument, like an iceberg
Quote of the week
By the way, “full-diaper-angry” is Open For Business as slang for young men who are full of shit and mad at women for not being their mom
Just for fun
Golden retrievers. What can I say?
Janet Mock: Revealing Caitlyn Jenner: My Thoughts on Media, Privilege, Healthcare Access & Glamour. “To make any trans person a symbol for an entire community is an unfair task. No one can speak about the varying, intersecting and layered ways in which trans people experience the world. That is why it’s necessary to create a space for nuance and to amplify the voices of those who often are not heard. What excites me about Jenner’s story as a trans woman who revealed myself as a teenager is my own opportunity to learn about her experience. I find it fascinating, even as a trans woman, to learn about the journey of another trans woman who had taken steps to be her true self only to be pressured back into “the closet” and to step out more famous than ever in her mid-60s — at a time in most women’s lives when they’re deemed invisible.” (via @iSmashFizzle)
“The Theology of Consensus” A look at some of the inherent issues with consensus-based decision making that ties them to its history. As someone who worked for two and a half years in a co-op studio committed to consensus decision making, I found this fascinating. (via @al3x)
Art + Design
Seven Scribes: Letters from the Underground. WE ARE PLEASED to announce the launch of SEVEN SCRIBES, a brand new online publication. We are committed to creating a space where young Black writers and artists can offer commentary and analysis on politics, pop culture, literature, and art. This is a space where writers and artists can experiment with content and be intentional about consumption.
Quote of the week
20 Things That Women Should Stop Wearing After The Age of 30
1-20: The weight of other people’s expectations & judgments
I have learned not to be seduced by the notion of inevitability — whether it’s progress, hope, love, or friendship. It all requires work.
—deray mckesson @deray
“Blanket octopuses literally rip the tentacles right off portuguese men-o-war and use them like little nunchuks.” Six reasons the blanket octopus is my new favorite cephalopod. (I think this was via @UrsulaV)
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)
Art + Design
Quote(s) of the week
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.
Just for fun
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)
Happy May Day and Happy International Workers’ Day!
When ambiguity works either way: “Teachers/profs, here’s your next real-world classroom example of the importance of pronoun-antecedent clarity.” (via @mchris4duke)
Rebecca Solnit: “Dear other white people, this is about Baltimore. When you demand that a person of color explain or justify the situation to you, you are asking them to work for you for free. …The work of explaining has already been done. It’s our job to engage with it, not theirs to keep doing over again.” (via @Quinnae_Moon)
Christine Slocum: White People Do Not Understand Racism. “…racism is not simply the result of prejudice. It is an enduring institution that separates society through a centrifuge of differential access to opportunities. Racism exists beyond individual prejudices; it exists in the foundation of everything we consider acceptable and laudable.” (via @tressiemcphd)
Shut up and take my money! A tale of a poor gamer. The classism of definitions of “gamer.” “Of course I realize it was escapism from the harsh reality of my world, but is that really so bad, escaping that for a little while? When people realized I was homeless and had a laptop, they would sneer at me. $60 they would then turn around and pay for a game with a fee-structure attached to it. And I was a horrible person for keeping my laptop.” (via @Quinnae_Moon)
Art + Design
Advice from a Badass: How to make users awesome. “In her book, Sierra establishes why helping users become awesome can directly lead to the success of a product or service and and then builds a model with the reader to achieve this. I think it’s an exceptional book that wisely advises how to address the emotional and behavioural setbacks to learning new things without having to resort to bribery or gamification, neither of which work after the novelty wears off. The language of the book is informal but the research behind the words is formidable.”
David Whyte: “All friendships of any length are based on a continued, mutual forgiveness.” Looks like an interesting book. (via @brainpicker)
The Cost of Paying Attention. “Attention is a resource; a person has only so much of it. And yet we’ve auctioned off more and more of our public space to private commercial interests, with their constant demands on us to look at the products on display or simply absorb some bit of corporate messaging. Lately, our self-appointed disrupters have opened up a new frontier of capitalism, complete with its own frontier ethic: to boldly dig up and monetize every bit of private head space by appropriating our collective attention. In the process, we’ve sacrificed silence — the condition of not being addressed. And just as clean air makes it possible to breathe, silence makes it possible to think.” (via @KameronHurley)
Quote of the week
“The gold in you does not rust.”
This Couple Moved Off The Grid And Built A Self-Sustaining Floating Island (and not so far away from us, either) (via @mcahogarth)
Just for fun
5 Mètres 80: An Absurd Animation Depicting a Herd of Giraffes Leaping Off a High Dive by Nicolas Deveaux
It’s not a long list today, as I posted the last one just a few days ago.
Also, I realize I’ve been posting lists and not much else; not sure what that is. Certainly I’ve been taking photos. Memo to self: put the damn things online, okay?
Words for cutting: why we need to stop abusing “the tone argument”. “Outrage has a valuable place; it is the natural reaction to injustice, to a severe moral breach that must offend every nerve ending of one’s sensibilities. To look at our world at present there’s much to be angry about, and there’s some wisdom to the idea that outrage is better than a placid acceptance of our present condition, better than becoming desensitized to the cavalcade of moral crimes that litter the daily newspapers. But like any emotion or tool, there are right and wrong ways to deploy it, and when we uncritically suggest that all rage is valid so long as it is expressed by activists we thereby foreclose all strategic discussion of the utility of rage.”
WFT? Some days I hate humanity. Quebec girl told to stop reading book by school bus driver. “Sarah Auger, 8, enjoyed reading to and from school, until the bus driver said it was dangerous.”
“This, EXACTLY THIS, is why we can’t have nice things.” (via Tressie McMillan Cottom @tressiemcphd)
Art + Design
Authors Alliance: Keeping Your Books Available. “(A) guide that arms authors with the information and strategies they need to revive their books.”
Quote of the week
You guys know about vampires? … You know, vampires have no reflections in a mirror? There’s this idea that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. And what I’ve always thought isn’t that monsters don’t have reflections in a mirror. It’s that if you want to make a human being into a monster, deny them, at the cultural level, any reflection of themselves. And growing up, I felt like a monster in some ways. I didn’t see myself reflected at all. I was like, “Yo, is something wrong with me? That the whole society seems to think that people like me don’t exist?” And part of what inspired me, was this deep desire that before I died, I would make a couple of mirrors. That I would make some mirrors so that kids like me might see themselves reflected back and might not feel so monstrous for it.
—Junot Diaz, via the “Diversity Matters” article cited above
Just for fun
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.
- Kameron Hurley in The Atlantic: Hijacking the Hugo Awards Won’t Stifle Diversity in Science Fiction
- Guardian: George RR Martin says rightwing lobby has ‘broken’ Hugo awards (Martin is a Big Deal right now because he is the writer of Game of Thrones.)
- Slate: How Sci-Fi’s Hugo Awards Got Their Own Full-Blown Gamergate
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.
Art + Design
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.”
Art + Design
Download 422 Free Art Books from The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The article ends with links to other downloads.) (via @Quinnae_Moon)
Quote of the week
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.
Just for fun
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)
Mm, this has been a particularly juicy week. Have fun.
…Oh look, a bunch more since I thought I had finished the list. I blame this Continue reading “From the world pool: March 20, 2015”
When letting your kids out of your sight becomes a crime. People have pointed out that the writer is speaking from a position of relative privilege (and presumably therefore safety), and I can see their point. But I also remember my childhood, when a great deal of what my friends and I did was out of our parents’ sight, roaming around the neighbourhood, exploring down by a river and out along backroads (we lived in a bedroom suburb surrounded by farms). Knowing what that freedom was like, I think kids have lost a lot.
A tweet from Tressie McMillan Cottom sent me to an interesting article called Death to the “Public Intellectual”, but one of that story’s links led to the essay I found really interesting: Outside Charlie Hebdo. This essay, written at the time of the Charlie Hebdo massacre, takes that event as the starting point for a discussion of problems with satire. Caroline Small writes: “In what way does [satire] serve a positive end or increase our overall intelligence? Doesn’t satire need to be effective at challenging and destabilizing stupid beliefs if it is intended to have political power? If it only reaches people who don’t hold the belief, isn’t it just mockery? Mockery just ends up creating a group identity among the people who collectively believe the stupid thing is stupid. I think that may be why people react so negatively to this kind of imagery – even if it doesn’t actually qualify as racist (and I will refrain from an opinion on that in this particular context that is not my context), it does alienate and separate, working against solidarity rather than increasing it.” This articulates my discomfort with satire well: I find it funny occasionally, but if I’m honest with myself I find it most funny exactly when it allows me to feel superior to stupid people.
More from Tressie McMillan Cottom: The University and the Company Man. “Some colleges are doubling down on serving the most elite, most well-prepared students. Those students, through a combination of ability and fortune, will end up in high-skilled good jobs. But there aren’t enough of those spots to go around.”
Intersectionality Undone: Saving Intersectionality from Feminist Intersectionality Studies. “This article identifies a set of power relations within contemporary feminist aca-demic debates on intersectionality that work to ‘depoliticizing intersectionality,’ neutralizing the critical potential of intersectionality for social justice-oriented change.” (via @tressiemcphd)
Stop Blaming Women for Holding Themselves Back at Work. “But, as many women already suspected, it turns out that educated, ambitious women are not failing to achieve the corner office because they’re insufficiently tough, savvy, or competitive at work. It’s also not because they are diverted during their 30s and 40s by the demands of breast-feeding and test prep and the like. They are not ‘ratcheting back’ or ‘opting out’ or failing to ‘lean in.’ And now there’s a study to prove it.” (via @scalzi)
Jessie Daniels: The Trouble with ‘Leaning In’ to (White) Corporate Feminism. “As long as ‘race’ is a taboo subject for liberal feminists, then liberal feminism will continue to be consistent with white supremacy.”
A follow-up to a link I posted last week: Mourning Justine Sacco Is Missing the Point. “The basic mistake of writers like Ronson is seeing the racialized contempt for Sacco as separate from the racialized contempt for people of color. They see a new problem where in fact they are merely seeing an atypical iteration of a very old and very common problem.” (via @tressiemcphd)
Art + Design
The Economist: Inside the box. “What workers need from their offices has long been clear. A flexible workspace that encourages movement, combined with mobile technology, could finally liberate them from the cubicle farm—but only if employers pay heed to the evidence, rather than the short-term savings. Even cubicles were Utopian before the accountants took over.”
Wow. Medical tech research is really going in amazing directions these days. Zoom Contact Lens Magnifies Objects at the Wink of an Eye (via @mcahogarth)
Oh my! A New English Dictionary on Historical Principles. “These are the original public domain volumes of the dictionary that was eventually published as the Oxford English Dictionary.”
Quote of the week
It was the verb that did it: today we want to strip fat people of their benefits. How long will it be before some minister of public health suggests we strip them naked and run them through town?
Just for fun
I think it would be an awful lot of fun to play in an orchestra directed by Bobby McFerrin. (And that reminded me of this, and that led to this….)
And on the New Music from Old Stars front, as started last week, have you seen this? Not the Hozier “Take Me to Church”—the other one. Also, about the album. (Love the understatement: “I don’t necessarily fit into the moulds that it seems females are supposed to fit into. I’m kind of irregular.”)
I wish I could have taken this course: David Carr’s syllabus for “Press Play.” I wish my syllabuses were half as clearly and economically written.
Happy Friday 13th!
Race is a Technology (and so is Gender) “After all, what political project doesn’t have its share of fools who can be conveniently held up for mockery by opponents? But shouldn’t we look to those who best articulate the ideas underlying a project to evaluate its worth?” (via @tressiemcphd)
Molly Crabapple: How ‘broken windows’ policing harms people of color (via @iSmashFizzle)
From the “oh for god’s sake” department: Little Free Libraries on the wrong side of the law. “Crime, homelessness and crumbling infrastructure are still a problem in almost every part of America, but two cities have recently cracked down on one of the country’s biggest problems: small community libraries where residents can share books.” (via @ChrisBoese)
Hands, by Kari Sperring. “My body, these days, is for hiding, as is considered proper in our culture for older women. No-one wants to look at *that*. My written words are judged, by some, by my age and appearance. They don’t need to read me to know what I think, for older women are a uniform class. Our bodies, like our words, are not worthy. My hands, though. My hands are always welcome, as long as they serve. As long as they work for others.” (via @jimchines)
Big news in fashion: an image of 48-year-old supermodel Cindy Crawford doing an underwear photo shoot for Marie Claire surfaced on Twitter yesterday. Why is this news? The photo has not been retouched. What’s amazing is that this is amazing.
“I find this offensive”: how “offense” discourse traps us into inaction, by Katherine Cross. “No, you do not have a right to not be offended. Concomitantly, we need to stop using ‘offended’ as a synonym for “structural harm” or “oppression” in everyday political discourse.” An important essay on how the concept of “offense” can be used to derail discussions away from core issues. (via @Quinnae_Moon)
How One Stupid Tweet Blew Up Justine Sacco’s Life. People should be held accountable for their words and actions; but the shaming—the accountability—should be proportional, and too often it isn’t. (But also, as someone commented on this article elsewhere; it’s important to note that pile-ons are not equal opportunity, and the pile-on will be different depending on who you are; in one case mentioned in this article, a tech developer who made a stupid sexist joke in public lost his job; so did the black woman who reported him for it. He got a new job quickly and put it behind him; she is still under attack.) (via @tressiemcphd)
In the news
A man named David Carr, culture reporter and media columnist for the New York Times, died yesterday. I don’t read the NYT unless I’m pointed toward an article and haven’t hit their free-till-you’ve-read-ten-this-month limit, so I didn’t know his work. But quite a few people on my Twitter Feed did, and mentioned this article, which is amazing: Me and My Girls. “When a woman, any woman, has issues with substances, has kids out of wedlock and ends up struggling as a single parent, she is identified by many names: slut, loser, welfare mom, burden on society. Take those same circumstances and array them over a man, and he becomes a crown prince. See him doing that dad thing and, with a flick of the wrist, the mom thing too! Why is it that the same series of overt acts committed by a male becomes somehow ennobled?”
Art + Design
Medium wants you to make your online typography better: Death to typewriters. My attention was caught by their challenge: identify the elements of typographic finesse in the sample they provided. I missed 4 of the 20 items listed completely (hrmph—I challenge YOU to spot the hair spaces); two others I did actually identify, but thought they wouldn’t be what was being counted, so my final score was 14/20.
Even Words Can Kill. I don’t think this Italian ad campaign is completely original—I think I’ve seen something like it before somewhere—but it’s a great example of images speaking louder than words, and particularly apposite given the events this week in Chapel Hill. (via @rcloenenruiz)
Ha. Quality does matter. As photos flood our screens, which ones hold our attention? “When we analyzed the data, we found that each photograph rated highest had been taken by a professional photojournalist. And, professional images were twice as likely to be shared by the participants. …People spent 50 percent more time on the pro photographs, on average.” (via @ChrisBoese)
“Look, a bunny!” This will be mostly meaningless to anyone who doesn’t play this kind of game, but it made me laugh and laugh and laugh… If RPG Video Game Characters Were Honest. “I guess I’ll just drop it… I can’t, it’s too rare! Help!” This is exactly how I play Dragon Age. How embarrassing. (via @Quinnae_Moon)
How to Turn Off Tynt, the Most Annoying Thing on the Internet. Oo, as someone who does a lot of copy/pasting I must look into this. (via @tressiemcphd)
Quote of the week
BCFerrys: Thank you for choosing our complimentary WiFi. Our next connection is at 5 o’clock. Expect delays.
If you don’t travel on BC Ferries regularly and try to use their wireless, you won’t get the joke, but if you do….I laughed myself silly over this.
Just for fun
So on Grammy Awards night my Twitter feed blew up with this duet. Takes me back to the 80s and seeing the Eurythmics perform live… I’d gone to that concert just for the hell of it, not really caring that much about the group, and found myself absolutely transfixed. Oh my, Annie Lennox knows how to put everything into a live performance.
I was on the road over the last couple of days, so this is a day late. Whatever!
The concept of the Overton Window and its relationship to social media is fascinating, and in this application explains so much. Political Correctness Is More Reasonable Than Jonathan Chait. (via @tressiemcphd)
Trauma is the Truth Worth Talking About. If the central political questions of our time are inescapably personal, how can we dismiss arguments for being “too emotional”?
Chris Bourg: Never neutral: Libraries, technology, and inclusion. “I start with the premise that it isn’t just that libraries aren’t perfectly equitable or neutral because we live in a society that still suffers from racism, sexism. ableism, transphobia and other forms of bias and inequity; but libraries also fail to achieve any mythical state of neutrality because we contribute to bias and inequality in scholarship, and publishing, and information access.”
“I’m Autistic, And Believe Me, It’s A Lot Better Than Measles” by Sarah Kurchak. Calling out the anti-vaxxers on bigotry: “I take the decision not to vaccinate personally. I’ve tried to have empathy for the other side, I’ve tried to tell myself that it’s none of my business, but I can’t and it is. Someone who refuses to vaccinate their children because they’re afraid of autism has made the decision that people like me are the worst possible thing that can happen to their family, and they’re putting everyone at risk because of it.”
For Colored Girls Who Are Violently Quoted King When Their Own Words Are Enough. “So, no, I don’t place the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. or Nelson Mandela or any other famous man above my own understanding and experience of the world. I value them in the ways that they speak to me, in the ways that they align with my freedom—now, today— and the freedom of other black women—now, today—and I respectfully reject them when they don’t.” (via @mchris4duke)
Police Reform is Impossible in America. “I imagine, like Coates seems to, that identifying blacks as this country’s criminals helps white Americans dismiss their own criminal activity as incidental (teenage drug use, insider trading, mass shootings, etc). But I think it also must help to organize their fear in an uncertain world.” (via @iSmashFizzle)
Verizon Finally Buckles, Will Allow A Total Opt Out From Sneaky Super Cookies. This week’s coverage was the first I heard of this. Glad to see them change their approach, but I wonder what else we don’t know about? (via @ChrisBoese)
How Tipping Helped Make Sexual Harassment the Norm for Female Servers. I was beyond appalled when I read that the federal minimum wage for “tipped workers” (i.e. restaurant servers) in the US is $2.13/hour. I had no idea. No wonder 37% of Equal Employment Opportunity Commission claims of sexual harassment come from the restaurant industry. (via @tressiemcphd)
Coordinated Online Terrorist Attacks: a very personal statement.
If we liberate men’s sexuality, the war against women can end. “As a dominatrix, men come to me to explore a sexuality that is socially forbidden. While patriarchy endures, they will never be free to express who they are, or treat women as they should be treated.” (via @Quinnae_Moon)
“I’m a guy, and I need feminism. Not ‘men’s rights.’ Feminism. Here is why.”
Art + Design
Why Every Movie Looks Sort of Orange and Blue. I actually had noticed this trend, and wondered if it was motivated by a deliberate attempt to look “retro”—like all those photos from the 50s and 60s that have colour that’s just a bit yellowish. But I guess the answer has more to do with deadlines and what the software enables you to do, proving yet again that the choice of tool defines what the results of your work will look like. “The big change that digitization made was it made it much easier to apply a single color scheme to a bunch of different scenes at once. The more of a movie you can make look good with a single scheme, the less work you have to do.” (via @makinglight)
Lots of fun being had here: 28 Days of Black Cosplay & Superheroes Reimagined.
Related: Taylor Swift and the Myth of the Mean Greedy Artist. (via @KameronHurley)
For the players of Dragon Age: Inquisition. Cassandra rocks.
“Joe Hanson of It’s Okay To Be Smart explains some of our weirdest automatic body functions, including yawns, hiccups, and sun sneezes.” I was delighted to learn that hypnagogic myoclonus is a thing, as I suffer from it.
Quote of the week
This link takes you directly to a comment by Cole on an article by Angus Johnston relating to the current struggle with “political correctness” on the left. I’ve linked directly to the comment, which is much more extensive than the part I quote here—read the whole thing. You should also read the article the comment is on. (via @pnh)
The idea that PC language is inaccessible to working class people needs to die in a fire. I’m poor, but I ain’t stupid and being more doesn’t mean I’m more cruel than the cultured academic. If someone tells me that using a certain word hurts them, I stop. I’m perfectly capable of understanding the ideaology behind various types of language uses- because in case you didn’t realize this, a lot of this ideology came out of working class movements. Academics chiding each other over inaccessible language has to be one of the most patronizing and belittling things I have experienced in my own organizing.
Just for fun
Do not try this at home. I haven’t played Assassin’s Creed, other than a free tester on my Touch, but I’m familiar enough with the game to know how well done this is: Assassin’s Creed Unity Meets Parkour in Real Life – 4K! Only slightly illegal, I’m sure. But jeez, well done parkour is amazing. Also, Behind the Scenes. (via @mcahogarth)
This explains a lot. How the average American perceives the US racial mix vs. what it actually is. (via Chris Bourg @mchris4duke)
Holder limits seized-asset sharing process that split billions with local, state police: “Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Friday barred local and state police from using federal law to seize cash, cars and other property without warrants or criminal charges.” The article links to a WSJ investigation of this appalling practice, and there’s also a New Yorker story about it here: Taken. (via @ChrisBoese)
Gaming while black: Casual racism to cautious optimism (via Katherine Cross @Quinnae_Moon)
Deep Lab: “a congress of cyberfeminist researchers, organized by STUDIO Fellow Addie Wagenknecht to examine how the themes of privacy, security, surveillance, anonymity, and large-scale data aggregation are problematized in the arts, culture and society.” (via Alex Payne @al3x)
The invasion boards that set out to ruin lives. “Internet harassment doesn’t just stay on the internet any more. Banned from 4chan, the ‘net’s worst trolls are making life hell for ‘social justice warriors’—and anyone else that takes their fancy.” (via Katherine Cross @Quinnae_Moon)
“Things have happened in the past week”: on doxing, swatting, and 8chan (via Katherine Cross @Quinnae_Moon)
And finally for this section, Natalie Luhrs has a roundup of links, with a section relating to Shanley Kane and Model View Culture. It provides a good overview of a complex situation, and I agree with Natalie’s position on this: it’s complicated and hard, and harassment and abuse are never okay. I have a feeling I might eventually have some bigger-picture stuff to say about this, but we’ll see; it depends on whether I can pull my thoughts together coherently and actually produce something worth saying.
Art + Design
Two articles talking about the design of living spaces.
Quote of the week
Life Hacks: “If someone points at your black clothes and asks you whose funeral it is, a look round the room and a casual ‘haven’t decided yet’ is always a good response.”
Just for fun
Maria Popova of Brain Pickings says: “Brilliant-nitpickery-of-the-decade award goes to: All of my Issues With the “Goodnight Moon” Bedroom.”
Do I ever do anything but collect links? Naw.
White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo. “I am a white woman. I am standing beside a black woman. We are facing a group of white people who are seated in front of us. We are in their workplace, and have been hired by their employer to lead them in a dialogue about race. The room is filled with tension and charged with hostility. I have just presented a definition of racism that includes the acknowledgment that whites hold social and institutional power over people of color. A white man is pounding his fist on the table. His face is red and he is furious. As he pounds he yells, “White people have been discriminated against for 25 years! A white person can’t get a job anymore!” I look around the room and see 40 employed people, all white. There are no people of color in this workplace. Something is happening here, and it isn’t based in the racial reality of the workplace. I am feeling unnerved by this man’s disconnection with that reality, and his lack of sensitivity to the impact this is having on my cofacilitator, the only person of color in the room. Why is this white man so angry? Why is he being so careless about the impact of his anger? Why are all the other white people either sitting in silent agreement with him or tuning out? We have, after all, only articulated a definition of racism.” (via Tressie McMillan Cottom @tressiemcphd)
An Old Fogey’s Analysis of a Teenager’s View on Social Media. “There’s a reason why researchers and organizations like Pew Research are doing the work that they do — they do so to make sure that we don’t forget about the populations that aren’t already in our networks.” (via @satifice)
Family Outraged After North Miami Beach Police Use Mug Shots as Shooting Targets. “What the soldiers discovered when they entered the range made them angry: mug shots of African American men apparently used as targets by North Miami Beach Police snipers, who had used the range before the guardsmen. Even more startling for Deant, one of the images was her brother.” (via @evilrooster)
Saladin Ahmed: In an Unequal World, Mocking All Serves the Powerful
We should not kill people for speech. But I am not Charlie Hebdo. “It is possible to value one’s rights and simultaneously to refuse to support the abuse of those rights. And it is possible to refuse to support the abuse of a right, while simultaneously condemning utterly, entirely and without reservation those who would respond to that abuse with murder. It’s more than possible. If we’re to actually make anything better, it’s essential.”
Roxane Gay: If je ne suis pas Charlie, am I a bad person? Nuance gets lost in groupthink
Misogyny and harassment
Jay Allen (@a_man_in_black) How crowdfunding helps haters profit from harassment. “Here’s the fashionable anti-feminist narrative: any woman who complains about mistreatment is a “professional victim” doing it only to promote herself. Speaking out against harassment, in this view, is evidence of an ulterior motive, as though ending that mistreatment wasn’t enough of a motivation on its own. These women—and it is almost always women—are accused of inciting this mistreatment in order to profit from decrying it. Though these accusations are transparently unfair and untrue, the trolls using them to attack vulnerable people are nothing new. What is new is the cottage industry of professional victimizers, using crowdfunding tools to capitalize on their infamy and devote even more time to harassment.” (via @Quinnae_Moon)
Evidently some guys are unclear on the definition of rape. From a study of college men: “a sizable number of participants indicated that they might use force to obtain intercourse, but would not rape a woman.” (via @jimchines)
(Whether one is pro- or anti-gamergate—or anything else—doxxers and swatters are scumsuckers.)
Zoe Quinn: August Never Ends. “Keep in mind that I’m also writing this about 3,000 miles from the home it’s no longer safe to be at while we try and figure out how to move on from this meteor hitting us and be people again. I miss sleeping in my own bed, having my own space. I miss my cat.”
Speaking while female
How to Get Ahead as a Woman in Tech: Interrupt Men. Some really interesting stats in this, especially when you look at the details of who exactly interrupts whom. (via @ChrisBoese)
“Year ago, while producing the hit TV series “The Shield,” Glen Mazzara noticed that two young female writers were quiet during story meetings. He pulled them aside and encouraged them to speak up more. Watch what happens when we do, they replied.” Speaking While Female: Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant on Why Women Stay Quiet at Work (via @eilatan)
“It just seems a little crazy to me how people believe is perfectly OK for women to doubt a compliment they receive, [but] when they actually believe the compliment they receive, they get shamed and branded as ‘vain’ or ‘conceited’.” This Is What Happens When Women Actually Accept A Compliment From A Man Online (via @fozmeadows)
In the news
Software updates, installations now require consent. “Starting [January 15th], it’s illegal in Canada for a website to automatically install software on your computer.”
Art + Design
The interesting part of this article, to me, is its comparison of two approaches to designing communities. New, privatized African city heralds climate apartheid (via Kameron Hurley @KameronHurley)
The whole idea of fanfiction baffles many people. This is a really interesting analysis of it that covers everything from whether it should be defined in legalistic terms to its exploration of alternative forms of relations to its position in terms of male/female gaze and the politics of gender relationships to…. Wow. Foz Meadows – Thoughts on Fanfiction. “Fanfiction is old and new, smutty and sweet; it is flawed and complex and achingly human, and we will continue to discuss it for as long as we discuss stories – because if narrative borrowing can be reasonably considered an integral part of storytelling, then whatever its faults and professional status; whatever its biases, blind spots and mainstream perception, fanfiction is and will remain a pure, joyful expression of our impulse to tell stories about stories, an endless cycle of narrative interdependence that, for all its complexities, is also fundamentally simple.”
Quote(s) of the week
Sarah Kendzior in a 2012 article: “Free speech means not only the right to offend, but the right to defend.”
JK Rowling tweet, on Rupert Murdoch’s statement that even peaceful Muslims must be held responsible for Charlie Hebdo: “I was born Christian. If that makes Rupert Murdoch my responsibility, I’ll auto-excommunicate.”
Just for fun
Wiping away tears of laughter… Untimorous beastie: “Milo’s habits are simple and revolting. He is a proper South London dog.”
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.
file under: appalling
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:
- Laurie Penny: Male Nerds Think They’re Victims Because They Have No Clue What Female Nerds Go Through
- Compassion, Men and Me. “But do you want me to sympathize with you, or do you want me to drop what I was carrying to hold your feelings instead? That I will not do.” (via Chris Bourg @mchris4duke)
In the news
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.
Art + Design
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.”
Just for fun
File under: Clueless.
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.
Lots has been happening, so although I’d intended to skip posting this week because I already posted on Wednesday, there’s plenty to put up. Also: I’ve been posting these lists on Saturdays, but I think Friday may work better, so here we go.
Laurie Penny: On Nerd Entitlement. White male nerds need to recognise that other people had traumatic upbringings, too – and that’s different from structural oppression.
The Viagra vote? Campaign research pushes the bounds of privacy. “Data mining has become so sophisticated that campaigns can now target voters by mashing together public records with much more personal information from Facebook feeds and consumer reports that offer such nuggets as who has sterling credit ratings but hasn’t purchased a car in seven or more years. One company even wants to get into the political market by selling campaigns data that identifies which voters sought information on Viagra and other erectile-dysfunction drugs.” (via Tressie McMillan Cottom @tressiemcphd)
In my last World Pool post I linked to the suicide note of trans teenager Leelah Alcorn. The New Statesman published an article calling on people not to publicize her death, all in the interests of trans people at risk; here are two articles taking issue with that position and ripping the NS writer a new one.
- Cis People Know Best, They Tell Us, by Cheryl Morgan
- Sarah Ditum wants you to stop being so mean to the parents who murdered their child, by Jenny Trout. (via Katherine Cross @Quinnae_Moon)
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.
Evidently the NYPD’s protest action of reducing policing is working so well that people have noticed that policing has actually gotten better.
- The NYPD’s ‘Work Stoppage’ Is Surreal. In an alternate universe, the New York Police might have just solved the national community-policing controversy. (via Chris Bourg @mchris4duke)
- The Benefits of Fewer NYPD Arrests. New York cops started a “virtual work stoppage” to protest Mayor Bill de Blasio. That might be a good thing for New Yorkers. (via Ursula Vernon @UrsulaV)
Art + Design
Just for fun
In some ways I found this complex story of genocide and its aftermath a hopeful one to start the year with, as it shows that at least some individuals can turn aside from what history defines for them: A Century of Silence. “These days, if a stranger, a shopkeeper, a person offering directions learns that you are Armenian and of Diyarbakir ancestry, you will be ushered into a home, welcomed with tea, treated like a long-lost relative deserving honor. You will behemşerim: a person of this place.” (via Sunny Moraine @dynamicsymmetry)
And finally… Mary Lambert: Secrets. A delightful, cheerful song celebrating diversity and calling for an end to hiding who we are.
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!
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)
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.)
Whoa. Baltimore Fox Affiliate Edits Protest Footage To Sound Like ‘Kill A Cop’ and also a related FB post. (via Patrick Nielsen Hayden @pnh)
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.”
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.
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)
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.”
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.