From the world pool: September 2, 2016

Socio-political commentary

Feminism AND GENDER ISSUES

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.”

Globalization

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.”

Diversity and Racism

Video presenting people with their DNA results forces us to confront our biases against others (via @tressiemcphd)

What is the “Alt-Right”? A Guide To The White Nationalist Movement Now Leading Conservative Media  (via @eilatan)

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.

Environment

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)

Orangutans face complete extinction within 10 years, animal rescue charity warns

Art + Design

Artist Turns Old Farm Equipment Into Incredible Animal Sculptures You’ll Ever See. I kind of want one for my yard.

Just cool

Wow. Meet The Closest Living Relative To The Extinct Dodo Bird With Incredibly Colorful Iridescent Feathers  (via @fozmeadows)

Just for fun

Watch. The. Whole. Thing.

There is honestly no point in doing anything but this guy’s job.

From the world pool: August 14, 2016

Socio-political commentary

Collected over the last month. I’m not doing nearly a good enough job keeping up with this!

US politics

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

In talking about Trump and the baby  “Sometimes brevity is the enemy of an accurate picture of just how bad something is.” (via @tressiemcphd)

Trump & Putin. Yes, It’s Really a Thing  (via @sarahkendzior)

Laurie Penny: I’m With the Banned

LikableBecause 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)

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter did something huge today

Feminism

The Intersectional Woman’s Reading List

Environment

“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.

Censorship

Scaling the firewall: Ways around government censorship online

Education

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.

Art + Design

Simon Stalenhag

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.

Geeking Out

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)

Thought-provoking

A dissertation finds her readers.

The Case Against Honeybees  (via @KameronHurley)

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.

Useful!

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.

On Writing

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. 

Quote of the week

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.

This week I had one of the most disturbing train rides of my life – and it changed my perspective on Black Lives Matter (via @pericat)

Just cool

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.

Just for fun

Radioooo  Pick a country and a decade and listen.

Cat reacts to watching horror movie

From the world pool: June 16, 2016

Socio-political commentary

Another day, another death from hatred

Labour MP Jo Cox dies after being shot and stabbed

Gun control

Gun violence in America, in 17 maps and charts

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.

Fandom

There’s been a lot of talk about Devin Faraci’s rant about entitled fans. Some good responses:

  • This Song Was Written By a Committee: What Devin Faraci Gets Wrong About Audience, Ownership and Power “Social media is democratizing in that it amplifies the possibilities of disruptive speech. But it does not give material power to those who previously had none and it does not, by function, dissolve traditional power structures. Social media amplifies, it does not imbue.”
  • Geek culture isn’t ‘broken,’ but it does have a harassment problem“Except none of these examples are remotely comparable, representing different issues from different corners of fandom. Criticism is not the same as entitlement. Death threats are not the same as social media activism. And death threats aren’t purely the realm of disgruntled fans sending hate mail to creators; harassment is a broader issue of sexism and bigotry online.”
  • From Hydra to Ghostbusters: The False Equivalences of Fan Culture “Fans tweeting about giving Steve Rogers a boyfriend or Elsa a girlfriend are expressing a consumer desire, one that reflects changing social attitudes and as such that should be celebrated. I can’t even imagine us having this discussion four years ago and now it feels normal. That’s an incredible step forward.”

Diversity

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.”

Participating While Privileged  (via Chris Bourg @mchris4duke)

Residential schools findings point to ‘cultural genocide,’ commission chair says

How media clearly reflects the sexism and the racism we cannot see in ourselves.  (via @fozmeadows)

And you wonder why people are upset about the Kill Your Gays trope  (via @kameronhurley)

Death by numbers: A complete breakdown of 2016 TV character deaths and what they mean

Emily Brill: copy editing /is/ political

Feminism

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”

Environment

These are the cities that climate change will hit first. And here’s the interactive map.   (via @ChrisBoese)

Economics

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?”

Art + Design

Artist Creates Spellbinding Salt Labyrinth Inside a 13th Century French Castle

10 most clever examples of shadow street art.

Crochet coral reef gallery. This is just so cool.

Book art by Isobelle Ouzman

Beautiful 2,200-year-old mosaics discovered in ancient Greek city

Geeking Out

This Startup Is Renaming Every Place On Earth. I… am not certain this is going to catch on. (via @ChrisBoese)

Thought-provoking

This graphic is quite appalling. People who are 18-29 are definitely getting screwed.

But there was one other thing I noticed.

  • Baby boomers: between 52 and 70 years old in 2016
  • Generations X: early 60s to the early 80s (i.e in 2016 roughly between 35 and 51)
  • Millenials: early 80s to 2000 (i.e in 2016 roughly between 18 and 35)
  • Generation Z: after 2000 (i.e in 2016 will be under 17)

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.

Nature

A stealthy, stronger line of female salamanders are skipping sex and stealing DNA from males instead.

Just cool

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.

Just for fun

Neighbors said to fear ‘transient academics’. The comments are golden.

Yes, English can be weird.

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

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