It’s been a rough couple of months, so I’m only now getting back to actually trying to blog. Apart from all the photos I have, there’s a considerable backlog in my World Pool box. Here’s a start. Some of it’s a bit depressing (okay, a whole lot depressing) but some of it is actually good news (Kinder Morgan!) and I’ve tried to leaven it as much as possible. Continue reading “From the World Pool: November 4, 2017”
Another long post… Continue reading “From the world pool: August 19th, 2017”
This cat is bored with your concerns. Continue reading “From the world pool: July 22, 2017”
Wow, it’s been—well, far too long—since I posted links. Oops! Continue reading “From the World Pool: May 27, 2017”
Happy Earth Day. (“Black Marble” image courtesy NASA)
I didn’t post last week, so the world pool is extra deep today. Continue reading “From the world pool: April 14, 2017”
The weekly roundup.
A collection of links from the last week or so.
Let’s start with a picture of a sexy arbutus tree.
A woman her age is supposed to be invisible. But Hillary Clinton, who is 68, refuses to disappear — and there is no shortage of people who despise her for it.
Donald Trump’s conspiracy theories are making his supporters paranoid—and dangerous. I know it’s easy to get caught up in the drama of it all, but this scenario is beginning to look more and more likely. And Sarah Kendzior has called a lot of stuff accurately in this election.
And read this for examples of how supporters are responding: Warnings of conspiracy stoke anger among Trump faithful.
“If she’s in office, I hope we can start a coup. She should be in prison or shot. That’s how I feel about it,” Dan Bowman, a 50-year-old contractor, said of Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. “We’re going to have a revolution and take them out of office if that’s what it takes. There’s going to be a lot of bloodshed. But that’s what it’s going to take. . . . I would do whatever I can for my country.”
…His supporters are heeding the call. “Trump said to watch your precincts. I’m going to go, for sure,” said Steve Webb, a 61-year-old carpenter from Fairfield, Ohio. “I’ll look for . . . well, it’s called racial profiling. Mexicans. Syrians. People who can’t speak American,” he said. “I’m going to go right up behind them. I’ll do everything legally. I want to see if they are accountable. I’m not going to do anything illegal. I’m going to make them a little bit nervous.”
Black Lives Matter
This Baltimore school replaced detention with meditation. The results have been incredible. So simple. And apparently so effective.
Alicia Garza on the beauty and the burden of Black Lives Matter. (via Ashley Ford @iSmashFizzle)
The disturbing reason why we don’t believe young, black women are really doctors. (via @tressiemcphd) No news here, but still a good review of internalized bias.
When Tamika Cross heard a woman screaming for help for her husband, who fell ill on a Delta flight last weekend, she sprang to action. The young black doctor, on her way home from a wedding in Detroit, took off her headphones, put her tray table up and unbuckled her seat belt…. Cross, a fourth-year resident at McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, raised her hand.
“She said to me, ‘oh no sweetie put ur hand down, we are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel, we don’t have time to talk to you,’ ” Cross wrote in a Facebook post that has gone viral. “I tried to inform her that I was a physician, but I was continually cut off by condescending remarks.”
Sexuality and gender
On nearly every continent, and for all of recorded history, thriving cultures have recognized, revered, and integrated more than two genders. Terms such as “transgender” and “gay” are strictly new constructs that assume three things: that there are only two sexes (male/female), as many as two sexualities (gay/straight), and only two genders (man/woman). Yet hundreds of distinct societies around the globe have their own long-established traditions for third, fourth, fifth, or more genders.
This is fascinating. It’s linked from a page about a documentary called “Two Spirits”.
The Navajo believe that to maintain harmony, there must be a balanced interrelationship between the feminine and the masculine within the individual, in families, in the culture, and in the natural world. Two Spirits reveals how these beliefs are expressed in a natural range of gender diversity. For the first time on film, it examines the Navajo concept of nádleehí, “one who constantly transforms.”
The Fantastic Ursula K. Le Guin. I was sorry to see that Ursula K Le Guin didn’t win the Nobel Prize for literature, as she is my favourite author. But here’s a great article on her. One of the things that I love about her is her beautiful, sly sense of humour. Which is likely why I loved this:
Le Guin dresses well, but casually, favoring T-shirts, and wears little jewelry, though occasionally she puts on earrings fastened with clips or magnets. “You put the stone in front and a tiny magnet behind your earlobe,” she explains. “The trouble is that if you bend down near the stove, for instance, all of a sudden your earrings go wham!—and hit the stove. It’s kind of exciting.”
By breaking down the walls of genre, Le Guin handed new tools to twenty-first-century writers working in what Chabon calls the “borderlands,” the place where the fantastic enters literature. A group of writers as unlike as Chabon, Molly Gloss, Kelly Link, Karen Joy Fowler, Junot Díaz, Jonathan Lethem, Victor LaValle, Zadie Smith, and David Mitchell began to explore what’s possible when they combine elements of realism and fantasy. The fantasy and science-fiction scholar Brian Attebery has noted that “every writer I know who talks about Ursula talks about a sense of having been invited or empowered to do something.”
Not a bad legacy, whether you get a Nobel or not.
Just for fun
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.
I haven’t been posting the weekly links for a while, so I’ve got quite a backlog of stuff to work through. Here’s a start.
The Selfish Side of Gratitude, by Barbary Ehrenreich. An excellent takedown of the cooption of the idea of gratitude by the self-love industry. “So it’s possible to achieve the recommended levels of gratitude without spending a penny or uttering a word. All you have to do is to generate, within yourself, the good feelings associated with gratitude, and then bask in its warm, comforting glow. If there is any loving involved in this, it is self-love, and the current hoopla around gratitude is a celebration of onanism.”
Speak Up and Stay Safe(r): A guide to protecting yourself from online harassment.
Progressive. “I keep smiling — always smile at the job interview — but I cannot speak. Largely because I believe that what I just heard cannot possibly be what he really said. I misinterpreted something. I missed a word, misheard a word. He can’t actually be telling me that I would have to stop being so feminist to get a job at his “progressive” site. Or that “progressive” media is mostly for men.” (via Roxane Gay)
Black history you didn’t learn in school: Pauli Murray
The Reductive Seduction of Other People’s Problems. “If you’re young, privileged, and interested in creating a life of meaning, of course you’d be attracted to solving problems that seem urgent and readily solvable. Of course you’d want to apply for prestigious fellowships that mark you as an ambitious altruist among your peers. Of course you’d want to fly on planes to exotic locations with, importantly, exotic problems.”
Losing My Voice, by Natalie Luhrs. This could go under writing, or feminism, but I stuck it under diversity, because it belongs there too.
In the news
Touching moment on Skytrain goes viral. What happens when human kindness gets a chance.
Art + Design
Very cool book art by Kelly Campbell Berry!
Well, this is interesting. NASA has trialled an engine that would take us to Mars in 10 weeks.
When the song dies. “In Scotland, folk songs serve as memories, of places and the dead who once inhabited them. Exploring the theme of change, When the Song Diesseeks to bring the audience under the captive spell of the old ways. Featuring a range of contributors, the film is a poignant reminder that the dead linger on, all around us, in the houses and landscapes we live in, and in the language and music of our culture.”
The New York Public Library has digitized over half a million items from its collections.
Sunny Moraine: Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Quote of the week
I think a lot of people don’t understand that when we talk about these issues—blackface, rape jokes, the appropriation of marginalized cultures, and so on—we are having an ethical conversation, not a legal one. There is no thought police. No one’s coming to your house and carting you off to Insensitivity Prison. But you, as a person living on this planet, get to make a choice whether you want to hurt people or help people. Whether you want to listen or shut people out. I can’t imagine why you’d choose “defensive shithead” over “nice lady capable of empathy,” but okey dokey.
Our culture is quick to dismiss quiet, ordinary, hardworking men and women. In many instances, we equate ordinary with boring, or, even more dangerous, ordinary has become synonymous with meaningless. One of the greatest cultural consequences of devaluing our own lives has been our tolerance for what people do to achieve their “extraordinary” status.
—Brené Brown (I Thought It Was Just Me), via Natalie Luhrs
A Natural Woman: Aretha Franklin. Just… wow.
Just for fun
I was never this coordinated. http://n3ongold3n.tumblr.com/post/134515114581
Waking Up Ryer. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=iQyXZkN_5ZM
Adele at the BBC: how extraordinarily nice to see a joke where the punchline is a gift instead of a punch. I want to see more things like this.
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
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)
Ursula Le Guin turns 85 today. She has been my favourite author for a very long time, not just because she tells great stories and writes excellent, thought-provoking essays but because she is so skilled at doing so, in an understated way: she makes complexity seem deceptively easy. I still remember reading the lastish book in a series and delightedly hopping up and down saying to my partner, “She took everything she set up in the first book and turned it inside out!”
And she’s funny.
“I am a man. Now you may think I’ve made some kind of silly mistake about gender, or maybe that I’m trying to fool you, because my first name ends in a, and I own three bras, and I’ve been pregnant five times, and other things like that that you might have noticed, little details. …I admit it, I am actually a very poor imitation or substitute man, and you could see it when I tried to wear those army surplus clothes with ammunition pockets that were trendy and I looked like a hen in a pillowcase. ”