I didn’t post last week, so the world pool is extra deep today. Continue reading “From the world pool: April 14, 2017”
Another long, long set of links.
Collected over the last month. I’m not doing nearly a good enough job keeping up with this!
Trump’s Assassination Dog Whistle Was Even Scarier Than You Think Stochastic terrorism, as described by a blogger who summarized the concept several years back, means using language and other forms of communication “to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable.” Let’s break that down in the context of what Trump said. Predicting any one particular individual following his call to use violence against Clinton or her judges is statistically impossible. But we can predict that there could be a presently unknown lone wolf who hears his call and takes action in the future. Stated differently: Trump puts out the dog whistle knowing that some dog will hear it, even though he doesn’t know which dog. (via @PatrickWeekes)
This is particularly terrifying in the context of this recent poll: New Poll Shows Trump Supporters Mostly Believe Whatever He Says
And this chart: Who Lies More: A Comparison
Laurie Penny: I’m With the Banned
Likable. Because Hillary Clinton, you see, would like to be President. And the thing is, there’s no right way for her to do that, either. The problem is that, if she campaigns too hard, or works too much, she (again) looks “pathologically ambitious,” obsessive, “ruthless,” selfish, and over-confident in her own abilities. (Unlike, say, anyone else who thought they deserved to be the leader of the free world.) On the other hand, if she actually wins anything, or succeeds in any way, everyone is pretty certain that she didn’t earn it: She slept her way to the top! The media is being unfair to Bernie! This whole thing is rigged!!!! She works too hard, and wants to succeed too much, but when she succeeds, it’s apparently never due to all that hard work. The only way for her to campaign “appropriately,” in this scheme, is to sit back and let a male opponent win. Or to not run at all. (via @juliedillon)
Bernie or Bust Supporters Continue to Sabotage Clinton Just to Prove a Point They are so desperate to see Hillary lose, several thousand have now huddled up around Jill Stein as the third-party spoiler. That means that their need for revenge is bigger than their need to preserve a moderate to liberal Supreme Court. It’s bigger than the safety of Muslim Americans under a spiteful Trump presidency. It’s bigger than respecting millions of hardworking Latino immigrants. It’s bigger than the fate of LGBT families whose rights will be stripped and reversed under a conservative Supreme Court. It’s bigger than the bare bones austerity budget Paul Ryan wants and needs to pass, reversing the course of decades of post-Roosevelt social policies. It’s bigger than demanding equal rights for women not be rolled back. It’s bigger than the environment because Trump has made it very clear that he doesn’t believe in climate change and wants to drill baby drill, burn coal till there’s no more to burn, and “bomb their oil and take their oil.” Their need for revenge is bigger than any other concern facing anyone poor, struggling, needy or oppressed. It has only to do with their anger and rage, their sense of entitlement, their hatred of women. (via @juliedillon)
Black Lives Matter
“CHASING ICE” captures largest glacier calving ever filmed On May 28, 2008, Adam LeWinter and Director Jeff Orlowski filmed a historic breakup at the Ilulissat Glacier in Western Greenland. The calving event lasted for 75 minutes and the glacier retreated a full mile across a calving face three miles wide. The height of the ice is about 3,000 feet, 300-400 feet above water and the rest below water.
As a visual spectacle, this is just amazing. But it’s scary, too: think global warming.
In debt and out of hope: Faces of the student loan mess I am so very glad I’m not living in the US with a student loan.
Art + Design
Getty Likely To Settle $1B Suit By Photographer For Appropriating Her Public-Domain Work “Getty Images was perhaps a bit overzealous when it attempted to collect money from prolific photographer Carol Highsmith for using her own photograph without Getty’s permission.”
Understatement, I’d say.
How Pokemon Go Simulates the Ravages of Old Age Through Terrible Game Design. All right, I confess, I’m playing it, in a very laid back sort of way, not trying to capture the local gym (our post office) but just collect, which is a challenge in a rural environment. I hope these are things they fix. (via @kyliu99)
E = E-commerce As humans, we don’t prefer low quality. It was only through the rise of fast fashion — a business model based on the artificial creation of short-term trends combined with clothing that doesn’t last, what other industries call “planned obsolescence” — that consumers were, with of course very large marketing budgets, convinced to accumulate all of this stuff.
How to Email Your Professor (without being annoying AF) Every semester, I see the tweets and Facebook posts. My professor friends, they are annoyed. Their students do not know how to write emails, they say. What they really mean is that their students don’t know how to follow the conventions of email etiquette in the academy. I used to be exasperated by student emails too. Until I realized that there was a simple explanation for why they didn’t know how to write them — they’ve never actually been taught how.
Wish some of my students had seen this.
The Boy Who Lived Forever You can see both sides of the issue. Do characters belong to the person who created them? Or to the fans who love them so passionately that they spend their nights and weekends laboring to extend those characters’ lives, for free? There’s a division here, a geological fault line, that looks small on the surface but runs deep into our culture, and the tectonic plates are only moving farther apart. Is art about making up new things or about transforming the raw material that’s out there? Cutting, pasting, sampling, remixing and mashing up have become mainstream modes of cultural expression, and fan fiction is part of that. It challenges just about everything we thought we knew about art and creativity.
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.
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.
Investigators Say Orlando Shooter Showed Few Warning Signs Of Radicalization In fact, intelligence officials and investigators say they’re “becoming increasingly convinced that the motive for this attack had very little — or maybe nothing — to do with ISIS.”
UK cuts to disability spending: “They know they’re killing us.”
Anil Dash: What is Public? Public is not simply defined. Public is not just what can be viewed by others, but a fragile set of social conventions about what behaviors are acceptable and appropriate. There are people determined to profit from expanding and redefining what’s public, working to treat nearly everything we say or do as a public work they can exploit. They may succeed before we even put up a fight. … The phenomenon of doxxing (revealing personal information about a person online) has made clear that public information exists in a context of power and consent, and we must construct our ethics in that context. We can’t do that if we are still pretending that taking information that was merely available and instead making it easily accessible is an act without any moral or ethical consequences.
I just can’t even
Why careers are gone, and jobs are going next “If companies can do business without permanent employees, they will.”
The End of Prison Visitation “These fees are the linchpin in an elaborate racket between telecommunications providers, prisons and local governments. The business model for the three major prison telecoms is built around long-term contracts that establish them as the sole provider in a given county or state. In order to win these contracts, the major companies promise each county or state “site commissions” — a euphemism for kickbacks. These deals are lucrative: In Los Angeles County, for example, it brings in a baseline, contractual guarantee of $15 million a year. In some counties, this money trickles back down to the prisons. … County officials across the country claim video visitation is good for security. When Renaud got ahold of prison records, they showed that incidences of inmate-on-inmate violence, disciplinary infractions and possession of contraband all rose after Travis County did away with in-person visitation. Because visitation is so new, these statistics are the earliest indication that the pro-security pitch for video visitation is all snake oil.” (via @tressiemcphd)
Scandal: Senator: Red Cross Misled Congress, Refused To ‘Level With the People’ on Haiti Money Documents provided by the Red Cross to Grassley show that the charity at times spent large sums of money on management even when it appeared to be simply writing a check to other organizations that were doing actual projects. (via @ChrisBoese)
And I don’t even know where to start with Brexit; it’s been all over the news. But here, have a couple of things.
- Britain’s Breaking Point
- But on the bright side, I’ve also been watching this unfold from Scotland: I believe my favourite so far is “mangled apricot hellbeast.”
In the news
Warning to all cat-lovers: Humans’ Use Of Pain-Relief Creams Proves Fatal To Felines
Tickle Me Dead. Fascinating.
Good Bones, by Maggie Smith
Quote of the week
When you shout BREAKING POINT over and over again, you don’t get to be surprised when someone breaks.
Lost Ladybug Project Across North America ladybug species composition is changing. Over the past twenty years native ladybugs that were once very common have become extremely rare. During this same time ladybugs from other parts of the world have greatly increased both their numbers and range. This is happening very quickly and we don’t know how, or why, or what impact it will have on ladybug diversity or the role that ladybugs play in keeping plant-feeding insect populations low. We’re asking you to join us in finding out where all the ladybugs have gone so we can try to prevent more native species from becoming so rare. (via @UrsulaV)
Just for fun
This illustrates one of the reasons I love Tumblr: regional differences. (There are more forks of this around—really, this is only the start.)
Another day, another death from hatred
The NRA vs. America (via @PatrickWeekes): Today’s NRA stands astride some of the ugliest currents of our politics, combining the “astroturf” activism of the Tea Party, the unlimited and undisclosed “dark money” of groups like Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS, and the sham legislating conducted on behalf of the industry through groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council. “This is not your father’s NRA,” says Josh Sugarmann, executive director of the Violence Policy Center, a top gun-industry watchdog. Feldman is more succinct, calling his former employer a “cynical, mercenary political cult.” … The NRA insists in its publications that it is “not a trade organization” and that it is “not affiliated with any firearm or ammunition manufacturers or with any businesses that deal in guns and ammunition.” That is a lie. NRA’s corporate patrons include 22 firearms manufacturers, 12 of which are makers of assault weapons with household names like Beretta and Ruger, according to a 2011 analysis by the Violence Policy Center. The report, drawn from the NRA’s own disclosures, also identified gifts from dozens of firms that profit from high-capacity magazines, including Browning and Remington. Donors from the industry and other dark reaches of the corporate world – including Xe, the new name of the mercenary group Blackwater – had funneled up to $52 million to the NRA in recent years.
There’s been a lot of talk about Devin Faraci’s rant about entitled fans. Some good responses:
- 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.”
Use of the term POC. “So, the term “person of colour” is meaningless to me in the non-Western context context, and I personally find it actively harmful when people lump us as “POC cultures” because it purports to create an illusion of solidarity that obscures the massive amount of racism and oppression Asians are enacting against each other till today. Further, I see it as a projection of Western race politics on a non-Western context, which is decentering from local dynamics.”
Emily Brill: copy editing /is/ political
Stories of working retail. It adds up to quite a horror show.
Periodic Uterine Tantrum, by Natalie Luhrs. A wonderful essay. Women have been saying for decades that the medical profession doesn’t take female complaints seriously. It’s disappointing to see how little has changed.
The sexism problem. Harassment drove me out of physics 30 years ago and little has changed. Why is scientific sexism so intractable? “Most depressing of all is how sexism keeps reinventing itself, morphing into new forms just when it seems we might be on the verge of overcoming the old ones. There are signs now that we have reached a plateau in terms of women’s representation in the ‘hard’ sciences, suggesting that underlying structural issues remain unresolved. According to the US National Science Foundation, only 20 per cent of physics PhDs in the States go to women, a figure that hasn’t shifted much in two decades. In computer science, it’s now 21 per cent: fewer than 20 years ago.”
What trans men see that women don’t. “Cultural sexism in the world is very real when you’ve lived on both sides of the coin”
These are the cities that climate change will hit first. And here’s the interactive map. (via @ChrisBoese)
Never Mind the Sharing Economy: Here’s Platform Capitalism “This might sound trivial but given the confused usage of the notion of sharing, it seems appropriate to remind ourselves that helping each other out by sharing our resources is one thing while commodifying these resources by charging a fee for their use is quite another. And this gets us to the more innovative dimension of the “sharing economy.” Today, the “sharing economy” entails much more than just digital updates of second-hand exchange and rentals. What companies like Uber, AirBnB, TaskRabbit or Postmates have in common is that they are platforms coordinating supply and demand of products and services that in their present form were previously unavailable on the market. … While it might be convenient to make use of these services, they have absolutely nothing to do with sharing. They stand for a digitally enabled expansion of the market economy, which, again, is the opposite of sharing. If someone does my shopping or drops me at the airport in exchange for a financial fee, how is this sharing?”
Art + Design
Crochet coral reef gallery. This is just so cool.
This graphic is quite appalling. People who are 18-29 are definitely getting screwed.
But there was one other thing I noticed.
- 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.
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.
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
After a bit of a hiatus, I’ve got a lot collected.
On a plate: a wonderful explanation of privilege.
#WhoWillYouHelp Good on you, Government of Ontario.
Captain America is a Nazi, it turns out.
- On Steve Rogers #1, Antisemitism, And Publicity Stunts (via @nkjemisin) “So let me be very clear: I don’t care if this gets undone next year, next month, nextweek. I know it’s clickbait disguised as storytelling. I am not angry because omg how dare you ruin Steve Rogers forever. I am angry because how dare you use eleven million deaths as clickbait.”
- Captain America (updated) (via @tnielsenhayden)
The straw that breaks the camel’s back: within a period of 30 days, four lesbian or bisexual female characters on TV were killed off. And one of them was killed literally two minutes after a long-simmering relationship was finally consummated. Which may be why there’s been a lot of discussion about the narrative laziness and implied homophobia of the dead lesbians trope in the media recently. Ya think?
- Bury your gays
- Stop killing off TV’s lesbians
- All 156 Dead Lesbian and Bisexual Characters on TV, and How They Died.
- “…the issue at hand here is what happened off screen and in social media.”
Odds and ends
When “local” isn’t local. At Tampa Bay farm-to-table restaurants, you’re being fed fiction. I have a funny feeling this story applies everywhere. “This is a story we are all being fed. A story about overalls, rich soil and John Deere tractors scattering broods of busy chickens. A story about healthy animals living happy lives, heirloom tomatoes hanging heavy and earnest artisans rolling wheels of cheese into aging caves nearby. More often than not, those things are fairy tales.” (via @UrsulaV)
On the perils of IP mapping (via Tiro) How an internet mapping glitch turned a random Kansas farm into a digital hell (via @TiroTypeworks)
Art + Design
And more free books are listed in the endnotes and sidebar to this article.
When in drought: the California farmers who don’t water their crops. I suspect we on Gabriola could benefit by learning more about this. “Bucklin’s Old Hill Ranch, purchased by his stepfather Otto Teller in 1980, claims to be the oldest-rooted vineyard in the area. Teller fell in love with the vineyard because it was one of the few that still “dry-farmed”. Dry farming is a method that bypasses artificial irrigation, relying instead on seasonal rainfall and working the soil in such a way that it holds on to water for the drier months.”
Hortum Machina, B (or, plants go walkabout)
Just for fun
I don’t want nobody… (nsfw)
Designing a really practical font: Sans Bullshit Sans
The “just for fun” edition.
For various reasons I haven’t been making “from the world pool” posts, but this week I decided to try to get back into it. And I decided to make it all things that cheered me up, because we all need cheering up sometimes.
Japan Keeps This Train Station Running for Just One Regular Passenger. (Obligatory snark: nice to see some governments take transportation seriously.)
Rare Cold Weather Phenomenon Displays Mesmerizing Light Pillars in the Sky. This is something I’ve never heard of, and boy is it cool.
1.5 billion pixel of the Andromeda Galaxy: this is… amazing. Zoom in.
Swimming with elephants and sharks: the photography of Ali Bin Thalith.
Choir! Choir! Choir! A tribute to David Bowie: singing Space Oddity at the AGO.
I wish I was a lot younger, so I could do this. I might not choose to do it, but I would love to be ABLE to.
If you like science fiction… Starships! —a fanvid tribute to sf tv and movies. (Bonus points for dancing.) (R for language, if you’re concerned about it.)
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)
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.
It’s been a long time since I’ve seen anything this deliberately vile. Takes “despicable” to a whole new level.
Interesting comparative analysis of truth in reporting. “…a Public Mind survey out of Fairleigh Dickinson University found that “people who said they consumed no news” fared better on a current events questionnaire than people who had been using Fox News to find out what was going on in the world. Let that sink in for a moment. People who categorically don’t watch the news know more than people who watch a network whose primary function is ostensibly to relay the news.” (via Chris Boese @ChrisBoese)
In the spirit of the season: The Doubleclicks: Sexist Bullshit (Christmas song)
E-Book Legal Restrictions Are Screwing Over Blind People “My class has just been assigned a project for which we must use information in the class’s textbook. Every student has a Kindle, which has the textbook loaded on to it. All of the sighted students can easily read the material and complete the assignment independently… I, on the other hand, cannot read the book without the assistance of a sighted reader.”
Comment sections are poison: handle with care or remove them. “Comments are often regarded as a right but they can do more harm than good. In the absence of strict moderation, we’d be much better off without them.” I so very much agree with this. Unmoderated comments quickly devolve into vileness. On the other hand, I regularly read well moderated comments on sites where enthusiastic discussion happens, with people disagreeing about things, and learn a lot.
In recent years there’s been a lot of talk about how economic changes are resulting in the “middle” classes disappearing, leaving only the privileged and the disadvantaged. This is an interesting article on how that’s happening to creativity as well. How the Death of Mid-Budget Cinema Left a Generation of Iconic Filmmakers MIA (via Chris Boese @ChrisBoese)
This looks interesting. MIT: From the Archive Friday: “Each Friday, we select an article from the depths of our online archive and make it freely available for one week.” (I think this one came via Chris Bourg @mchris4duke)
Just for fun
Stupid gravity. (Don’t know if this video is “real” or not but it’s fun either way.)
Donald Stookey: the joy of glass (obituary)
The masculine mistake, by Patrick Blanchfield. Why is America producing so many young men who are hostile to women?
As someone who teaches at a post-secondary level as a contract instructor—a vulnerable position—I have a strong interest in issues like this. Scabs, Scantrons, and Strikes at the University of Oregon. From the Department of You Can’t Make This Shit Up… You should also read the PDF of the statement from the department heads/program directors as to why the proposed actions are untenable. For example, “With regard to practical reasons, many program directors and department heads are stretched to the limit already, and telling us that we are forced to be responsible for the grades in all GTF-related courses in our units – for some of us numbering 90 sections or more, with literally thousands of total students – is not tenable.” What kind of mind thinks a solution like that could work? The level of cluelessness is amazing.
Two powerful articles on what Lemony Snicket said at the National Book Awards, and then Jacqueline Woodson’s response to it:
- Nikki Finney: “On Wednesday night Jacqueline Woodson won the 2014 National Book Award for Young Peoples Literature. After she left the stage the host of the National Book Awards, Daniel Handler, told the crowd that she, a Black woman, ‘was allergic to watermelon’ and then implored the crowd at the National Book Awards to ‘let that settle in your mind.’ I found myself staring at my laptop and choking on a waterfall of watermelon seeds.”
- Meanwhile In America, Brown Girls Are Still Dreaming (via Ashley Ford @iSmashFizzle)
- Jacqueline Woodson: The Pain of the Watermelon Joke.
Using a tax system to destroy small businesses: this is beyond fucked up. The VATman cometh, destroying businesses. “As you may know, the whole situation with VAT on ebooks is crazy. Although the rate for paper books is zero in the UK, the rate for ebooks is 20%. … anyone selling digital products in Europe has to register for VAT in every country, charge VAT on each sale according to the local rate, and account for all of this on a quarterly basis. …If all you do is sell one ebook, or a few knitting patterns on Etsy, or a little app you made for fun, you are required to register for VAT and file VAT returns once a quarter. Even if the tax involved is only pennies. …The implications for any small company selling digital products are so horrendous that the Head of Tax at the Institute of Chartered Accountants (England & Wales) has apparently suggested that small businesses stop selling in Europe to avoid all of this mess.”
Why women leave tech: what the research says. “The research shows that women in disproportionately-male industries are assumed to be less competent than men, and that when they’re perceived as competent they’re considered less likable. Being disliked hurts women’s pay and their prospects for advancement. The research finds that the only way competent women will be found likable is if they behave in a stereotypically-female “communal” style at work (cooperative, helpful and understanding), but if they do that they will no longer be perceived as competent. It’s a classic double bind.” (via Brianna Wu @Spacekatgal)
And then of course there is Ferguson.
- Time: What History Books Should Say About Ferguson
- It’s Incredibly Rare For A Grand Jury To Do What Ferguson’s Just Did
- Bob McCulloch’s pathetic prosecution of Darren Wilson
- The Purpose Of The Ferguson Grand Jury Was Not To Get An Indictment
- “When Darren Wilson says he saw Mike Brown as “a demon,” the problem isn’t with his eyes, it’s with what America told him demons look like.” (@austin_walker) (via Sunny Moraine) @dynamicsymmetry)
- The Parable of the Unjust Judge or: Fear of a Nigger Nation “The arc of the moral universe does not lead anywhere in particular, not in this life. If it bends towards justice, it is only because it is pulled that way by our constant effort, by our unceasing straining and sweating and shouting.”
- And finally, to end the list on a positive note, Ashley Ford (@iSmashFizzle) put out a wildly successful call for people to donate to the Ferguson Library.
Amazing. I hope the artist wears gloves. Shattered Glass Animals by Marta Klonowska
The Retreat. “I wondered why going off by myself was so strange and frightening. Almost everyone I knew was married, and most had kids. They did not go off to places alone, even if they might have wanted to.”
Quote of the week
Jesse Williams responding on Twitter to someone telling him to “rein in” his criticism of CNN’s coverage of Ferguson: “Please disabuse yourself of the notion that my purpose on earth is to tuck ignorance in at night.”
In the academic scams department: “Journal Accepts Paper Reading “Get Me Off Your Fucking Mailing List”. “Dr Peter Vamplew, a computer scientist at Federation University Australia got one too many invites from the International Journal of Advanced Computer Technology and hit back with the seven words repeated over and over, along with headings, pseudo-citations, a flow chart and graph. Vamplew didn’t expect to be published – he just hoped the ‘editors’ would stop cluttering up his inbox. Instead a return message said a reviewer had rated the paper as ‘excellent’ and IJACT would publish for the low, low price of $150.”
Brain Pickings: Lost in Translation: An Illustrated Catalog of Beautiful Untranslatable Words from Around the World. I love the word tsundoku, it lives in my house.
Cymatics is the science of visualizing audio frequencies using dust particles, water, or other materials to demonstrate how vibrations move. Nigel Stanford has applied it to this remarkable music video.
Lots of stuff this week—enjoy.
Some issues won’t die, and for good reason. How Ferguson showed us the truth about police: whiteboard animation by Molly Crabapple.
In case you thought prisons were all about crime: “In recent filings, lawyers for the state have resisted court orders that they expand parole programs, reasoning not that releasing inmates early is logistically impossible or would threaten public safety, but instead that prisons won’t have enough minimum security inmates left to perform inmate jobs. …The debate centers around an expansive state program to have inmates fight wildfires. California is one of several states that employs prison labor to fight wildfires. And it has the largest such program, as the state’s wildfire problem rapidly expands arguably because of climate change. By employing prison inmates who are paid less than $2 per day, the state saves some $1 billion, according to a recent BuzzFeed feature of the practice.” California Tells Court It Can’t Release Inmates Early Because It Would Lose Cheap Prison Labor. (via @nkjemisin)
Not all games fit your stereotypes.That Dragon, Cancer: a Kickstarter project “We created That Dragon, Cancer to tell the story of our son Joel and his 4-year fight against cancer. Our desire is to craft an adventure game that is poetic, playful, full of imagination and of hope. This is how we choose to honor him and his memory.”
10 Moments Black People In The Workplace Know Too Well (via Ashley Ford @iSmashFizzle)
For those wondering why so many women think catcalling is such a scary big deal, when you know, it’s really just a compliment.
Re Uber and other “cottage” industries: “…as we welcome new participants to the disruptive impact of the internet-based sharing economy, we must keep one eye on the future to make sure that we don’t build an economy based on exploitation.”
On making a living from art… an interesting pairing of articles:
Ask Polly: How Do I Make a Living As an Artist? “The bad thing about high capitalism is that we have a twisted idea about the differences between things that sell and things that don’t sell, winners and losers, masterful brands and flaccid brands. And we think of ourselves in those terms, too. This crass world holds a pretty twisted view of what it means to create something without being widely acknowledged for it.”
An Open Letter to Oprah: “To achieve the life you want, avoid situations that devalue your worth. Like when Oprah’s “The Life You Want” tour, with its tickets priced up to $999, asks you to perform for free.”
In the news
Obituary: Leslie Feinberg. “She was a pioneer in trans and lesbian issues, workers rights, and intersectionality long before anyone could define the phrase.”
Society’s Sandbox: Informal economies are the world’s biggest — and most overlooked — design research opportunity
The Secret Life of Passwords. A fascinating article about how people use passwords as memory boxes. (NYT paywall may stop you from reading it if you’re over their limit.)
Just for fun
Baby owl cuteness fix.
Quotes of the week
Every once in a while I read something, some turn of phrase, that makes me stop dead. This week there were two.
“Every morning, I try to break my heart. I crush it gently between my fingers until it can fit in the palm of my hand.” —Roxane Gay
Oh my: Imperial Tortoise Beetle, from Brazil.
Get Cracking, by B Fister (via @satifice): “Don’t bother me! If I don’t polish the shiny faster than others I’ll be outshone and I can’t let that happen. —This seems entirely connected to the ways technology – that magical time-saving, tree-saving, empowering thing – has turned into a vast shopping and advertising desire-machine that has ballooned the amount of shiny surfaces we have to polish, the amount of stuff we create, the increasing demand to attract attention to our stuff so that it can be consumed. And it takes the joy out of everything.”
Africa, Uncolonized: a Detailed Look at an Alternate Continent. Fascinating for anyone interested in maps and what they show.
Just for fun
Best sentence of the week, from Why I Didn’t See the David (and other methodologies of heartbreak: “You can try to pretend you don’t want something, but you can’t actually stop wanting it without spraining an obscure internal ligament.”
“TOMORROW’S THOUGHTS TODAY is a London-based think tank exploring the consequences of fantastic, speculative and imaginary urbanisms. Borrowing from the techniques of fiction, film and futures we deploy design speculations as an imaginative tools to help us explore the implications and consequences of emerging trends, technologies and ecological conditions. We travel far and wide, collecting weak signals and unearthing trends to be exaggerated into possible futures. We imagine alternative worlds as a means to understand our own world in new ways. TTT is developing the ‘think tank’ as a legitimate model for an architectural practice, a practice not built on buildings as endpoints but on speculations and research as products in themselves. This site is organized as an open sketchbook of our current themes and design projects an ever-expanding repository of our collective research.”
“The Unknown Fields Division is a nomadic design studio that ventures out on annual expeditions to the ends of the earth exploring unreal and forgotten landscapes, alien terrains and obsolete ecologies. Join the Division as each year we navigate a different global cross section and map the complex and contradictory realities of the present as a site of strange and extraordinary futures.”