Another long, long set of links.
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.”
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)
A bit short as this week another part of my back decided to self-destruct, so sitting at a computer is iffy.
Amy K. Nelson tweet: “One female gang member I profiled for @ReadMatter left me vm crying saying 1st time they’ve been treated as humans.” “We Ain’t Choosing No Sides; We Just Choosing Our Side” The gangs of Baltimore believe they can do a better job policing their community than the police. (via @iSmashFizzle)
You’re still nothing until you’re a mom: Why does pop culture hate the child-free? “There are pressures for men and women, but it’s still particularly bad for females. As Marisa Tomei said: “I don’t know why women need to have children to be seen as complete human beings.” That’s the part that really gets to me. And that’s what rubs me the wrong way with Baumbach’s movie. The idea that we’re all (but especially females) just frivolous people who are wasting our lives away until we add to the world’s population isn’t just wrong—it’s offensive.”(via @iSmashFizzle)
The geekery of slang: Why Is It That You “Can’t Even” But You Never Find That You “Can Even”? (via @mcahogarth)
Just for fun
There’s an advertising campaign called Are You Beach Body Ready? from a weight loss company that has been attracting a lot of flak recently for body shaming, and generated parody ads as well under the #beachbodyready hashtag. This is one of the funniest responses I’ve seen. (via @UrsulaV)
So there’s a tv show I’ve never watched, called Supernatural, that after 10 years has a very engaged and vibrant fandom; someone I follow on Twitter is part of that fandom, which is how I found out that a lot of fans are upset by this week’s episode. [SPOILER ALERT! in the unlikely case that someone who cares hasn’t already heard] The reason: one of the recurring characters, a queer woman played by Felicia Day, was fridged in the service of man-angst. Even outside the fans who love the character, not everyone thinks this was a good move. One of the stars of the show actually said: “… there’s an episode towards the end of the season when we make a sacrifice that i was thinking, ‘how are our characters okay with this? This is terrible, what we’re doing. This is disgusting’ we’re making some serious compromises in order to rescue dean.
Fridging. Sigh. I hope they bring her back somehow.
But… and this is why I’ve put this under the Just For Fun section, and not Socio-political, where it also could fit… my reading up on this pointed me to a lovely short clip from an earlier ep, showing Felicia Day as Charlie. If this doesn’t cheer you up I don’t know what would. Go full screen and turn up the volume.
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
I missed posting on Friday, because migraine plus back spasm, and that lasted through the weekend. So here’s the catch-up.
Let Them Eat Privilege. “By substituting class relations for an arbitrary list of “privileges,” Vox is attempting to paint a picture of an immiserated America with no villain. It’s an America without a ruling class that directly and materially benefits from everyone else’s hard times. And this omission isn’t just incorrect — it robs us of any meaningful oppositional politics that could change it all.” (via @al3x)
Gwyneth’s SNAP Challenge bombed, of course: Living in poverty takes skills she didn’t bother to learn. “So here’s what’s galling anyway about her “poverty tourism” — and what gives me just a touch of white hot fury. It’s that rich person arrogance of assuming that privilege equals ability. …Actually, guys, it’s hard for you to be poor. Lots of us are great at it. Lots of us do it every goddamn day.” (via @KameronHurley)
What you don’t know about Internet algorithms is hurting you. (And you probably don’t know very much!) “Unfortunately, personalization isn’t always everything it’s cracked up to be. Because personalization algorithms try to predict content you will like, they tend to surface only things that agree with your established preferences; over time, and through lots of clicks, you gradually work your way into an online world where all news articles are fiercely liberal, or all recipes contain Brussels sprouts.” (via @mchris4duke)
Thousands dead, few prosecuted. “Among the thousands of fatal shootings at the hands of police since 2005, only 54 officers have been charged, a Post analysis found. Most were cleared or acquitted in the cases that have been resolved.” (via @tressiemcphd)
Racism and diversity
Vanessa Mártir: Color in AW(hite)Place. “I could tell you about so much but my mind goes to that black body on the floor just outside the men’s bathroom, one sneaker just inches from his face.” (via @rgay)
Toni Bell on the language of racism: “So when someone says, ‘Oh, they did that to you because you’re black,’ I quickly correct them with, ‘No, they did that because they are bigots.’” (via @tressiemcphd)
Now THIS is a rant. Programming Sucks. “Every programmer starts out writing some perfect little snowflake like this. Then they’re told on Friday they need to have six hundred snowflakes written by Tuesday, so they cheat a bit here and there and maybe copy a few snowflakes and try to stick them together or they have to ask a coworker to work on one who melts it and then all the programmers’ snowflakes get dumped together in some inscrutable shape and somebody leans a Picasso on it because nobody wants to see the cat urine soaking into all your broken snowflakes melting in the light of day. Next week, everybody shovels more snow on it to keep the Picasso from falling over.” (via @pericat)
I Was Sexually Assaulted At UVA. I Don’t Accept the Reporter’s Apology. “When a someone agrees to tell his or her story, you must tell them you’re going to ask questions they don’t like. Let them walk away from the story if they aren’t prepared for how ugly and thorough the reporting can be. They need to know that you can’t shield them from the painful necessity of verification on account of the living hell they’ve walked through. It doesn’t feel good to cast aspersion on a trauma victim, but it’s not the survivor’s job to be able to craft a perfect, linear plot—it’s yours. As a journalist, you are not their friend, and you are not their advocate. That is someone else’s job, and you can’t lose sight of that for a minute.” (via @iSmashFizzle)
Rewriting the Future. “For all of our ability to analyze and critique, the left has become rooted in what is. We often forget to envision what could be. We forget to mine the past for solutions that show us how we can exist in other forms in the future. That is why I believe our justice movements desperately need science fiction.”
Just for fun
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”
Yep, running behind schedule again; yesterday was busy.
The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think. “But this new evidence isn’t just a challenge to us politically. It doesn’t just force us to change our minds. It forces us to change our hearts.” (via @mcahogarth)
Plastic People: Epigenetics has shown that there’s no such thing as a normal human body, so how did it get hijacked by the body police?
Venting About Students: Punching Up or Down? I’ve seen a lot of discussion about this subject recently; this struck me as a balanced position that identifies a core problem of relative privilege.
In the news
“We’ve got little doors everywhere. We’re not anti-fairies but it’s in danger of getting out of control.” ‘Fairy control’ to halt tiny doors in Somerset woods. We have some of these doors in our local woods. Thank heavens it hasn’t gone this far. (via @pericat)
“Shut up, Blackwall, I still don’t care what you think.” This will mean nothing unless you are playing the game, but if you are, it’s gold.
Chris Clarke: Desert words I want. “I want a word for the earth’s shadow in the sky on a summer sunset evening, that terminator between pink and indigo, and the knowledge in the gathering chill that tomorrow’s sun will be every bit as hot.” What words do you want? (via @evilrooster)
Quote of the week
The fad to make every game into an online multiplayer really does drive me nuts. I play computer games because I don’t like other people.
Just for fun
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.