How Vladislav Surkov invented the new Russia, by Peter Pomerantsev for the Atlantic (from 2014) that I thought this deserved its own post:
The brilliance of this new type of authoritarianism is that instead of simply oppressing opposition, as had been the case with 20th-century strains, it climbs inside all ideologies and movements, exploiting and rendering them absurd.
[describing a novel apparently written by Surkov] 'Egor is described as a “vulgar Hamlet” who can see through the superficiality of his age but is unable to have genuine feelings for anyone or anything'
Like liberals working for Fox News, the new Russian authoritarians use compartmentalization and cognitive dissonance in order to live with their own complicity:
When I asked how they married their professional and personal lives, they looked at me as if I were a fool and answered: “Over the last 20 years we’ve lived through a communism we never believed in, democracy and defaults and mafia state and oligarchy, and we’ve realized they are illusions, that everything is PR.”'
"Everything is PR" is similar to the phrase "virtual signalling" as used by white supremacist: the propaganda that no one holds sincere beliefs and anyone who appears to do so is just performing or trying to make you think they have beliefs:
'“Everything is PR” has become the favorite phrase of the new Russia; my Moscow peers were filled with a sense that they were both cynical and enlightened. When I asked them about Soviet-era dissidents, like my parents, who fought against communism, they dismissed them as naive dreamers and my own Western attachment to such vague notions as “human rights” and “freedom” as a blunder."
Who does the next paragrah remind you of? If his first name rhymes with "Kylo" and his last name rhymes with "Viannopoulous", you might be right.
'Surkov himself is the ultimate expression of this psychology. As I watched him give his speech to the students and journalists in London, he seemed to change and transform like mercury, from cherubic smile to demonic stare, from a woolly liberal preaching “modernization” to a finger-wagging nationalist, spitting out willfully contradictory ideas: “managed democracy,” “conservative modernization.”'
If this sounds like 4chan or rationalism, then you're right too:
"Surkov’s genius has been to tear those associations apart, to marry authoritarianism and modern art, to use the language of rights and representation to validate tyranny, to recut and paste democratic capitalism until it means the reverse of its original purpose."
I think the antidotes to the destruction of meaning and morality are science, math, engineering, emotional self-awareness, genuine art, earnestness, sincerity, vulnerability, relationships, and queer sex (and as a friend said, all good sex is queer to some extent). There is no divide between science and art, only a division between intellectual fields that suffer under toxic masculinity and ones that have a little more individual and group balance in terms of gender.
And that part about the description of Surkov's novel jumps out at me. Hipsterist detachment and irony as a direct path to inhumanity; 4chan's in charge now, not because they're fascists but because of their use of irony to evade the imperative to take moral stances. Shitposting is not a good system of government.
"Everything in my life that I love
Could be swept away without warning
Yet the birds still sing and the church bells ring
And the sun came up this morning" -- Billy Bragg, "Rumours of War"
- Michigan Supreme Court Slams The Door On Jill Stein’s Recount Case, by Daniel Marans for the Huffington Post (2016-12-10).
"Only five of the Michigan Supreme Court’s seven justices considered whether to hear the appeal. Chief Justice Robert Young and Justice Joan Larsen recused themselves after Stein questioned whether they could decide the case independently, since President-elect Trump had put them on a list of preferred candidates for the U.S. Supreme Court."
- Trump proposes stripping citizenship from political protesters by Ian Millhiser for Think Progress (2016-11-29): "But once a person’s voting rights can be made contingent upon their beliefs, or their silence, then elections become increasingly meaningless."
- The biopolitics of desire and neo-nazi fashion icons, by Flavia Dzodan (2016-12-06). On the connections between media coverage of "dapper Nazis" and eugenics.
- The Electoral College is Great for Whiter States, Lousy for Cities, by Emily Dreyfuss for Wired (2016-12-08).
"In the sweep of American history, this is Alexander Hamilton versus Thomas Jefferson flipped on its head. The Framers designed the Electoral College to make sure that smaller states were not ruled by the tyranny of the majority. Today, rural voters wield disproportionate Electoral College power compared with population centers, while cities preach decentralization as a way of keeping a check on the executive branch....
At the forum, critics proposed two different ways to sink the Electoral College: abolition by constitutional amendment or an agreement among states that their electors will side with the candidate who wins the national popular vote. But the chances of either happening are slim to none, since the party that has now benefitted twice from the Electoral College system in the past 16 years controls both Congress and the White House (not to mention a majority of state governments)...
"For eight years, Republicans accused the Obama administration of executive overreach. Now its Democrats warning of too much power in the hands of one president—a president that this time around most voters didn’t even choose."
- Love Deez Nutz, or Why Van Jones Is Wrong and Maybe Even a Bit of a Bullshitting Magical Negro, or Happy Friday from My Corner of Trump’s America–Whatever You Like–I’m Tired, by Michelle R. Smith (2016-12-08).
"I can work with white people without exploding my antipathy for the worst among them all over the rest of them. I can teach white people without exploding my antipathy for the worst among them all over the rest of them. I can share public space, transact business, cooperate with, and socialize with white people without exploding my antipathy for the worse among them all over the rest of them.
And so can millions of other black people. So do we all. Because if we ever did explode–whenever we do explode–we get eviscerated or incarcerated or fucking eradicated.
And since we do it, and white people rank themselves as better than us–they make all these adamant claims to superior intellect, morality, discipline, and wisdom–they should be able to do it, too. They should be able to interact with us without exploding their supremacist bullshit all over any of us, even if they fantasize about doing it the entire time."
- Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America, by Lauren Duca for Teen Vogue. I couldn't pick a quote to pull from this -- it's all so good.
- Diving deeper into Russia's role in the US election (clearer news has come out since these stories were published):
- Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House, by Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller for the Washington Post (2016-12-09).
- Foes of Russia Say Child Pornography Is Planted to Ruin Them, by Andrew Higgins for the New York Times (2016-12-09).
- BBC's Adam Curtis On The "Contradictory Vaudeville" Of Post-Modern Politics, by Tim Hains for Real Clear Politics (2014-12-31). Yes, from 2014.
- The Hidden Author of Putinism
How Vladislav Surkov invented the new Russia, by Peter Pomerantsev for the Atlantic (2014-11-07). Yes, also from 2014 [CW: brief ableism aimed at autistic people, in a quotation]; there's so much worth unpacking here, so I'm writing another post about it.
- Secret CIA assessment says Russia was trying to help Trump win White House, by Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller for the Washington Post (2016-12-09).
- Steve Bannon’s disturbing views on ‘genetic superiority’ are shared by Trump, by Laurel Raymond for Think Progress (2016-11-28)
- Trump's Proving that Those who Called Clinton 'The Lesser of Two Evils' Didn't Know What Evil Looked Like", by Damon Young for VSB (2016-11-18)
- Why So Many Liberal White Guys Just Can't Admit the Election Was about Race, Explained, by Damon Young for VSB (2016-11-29):
"Where can you find them? Trader Joe’s parking lots. Inner-city bike lanes. Jason Derulo listening parties. Giving TED Talks about couscous. Writing for Slate. Producing feminist porn....
Liberal White people, however? You’d think someone told them their favorite gluten-free bakery has been using wheat.
...their steadfast refusal to acknowledge the role race played in the election makes it seem as if they’re playing some sort of devolved, pre-racial game of Taboo. Of course, there was Mark Lilla’s “The End of Identity Liberalism” which I assumed would be the pinnacle of this train of thought — the fuckshit thinkpiece to end all fuckshit thinkpieces. But a few days later, Mother Jones (perhaps the crunchiest major platform on the Internet) published Kevin Drum’s plea for us to be “careful with the White supremacy label.” Here, Drum defines and limits White supremacy to “people believing non-White people are inferior“; ultimately failing to realize that whether they believe we’re inferior doesn’t matter as much as the effort to ensure White dominance. Which is why the White Supremacy label fits. (It also must be said that Drum’s piece was a defense of Crunchy Jesus himself, Bernie Sanders, who also attempted to minimize the value of identity politics.)"
- Why So Many Liberal White Guys Just Can't Admit the Election Was about Race, Explained, by Damon Young for VSB (2016-11-29):
Every time Trump said something “outrageous” commentators suggested he had finally crossed a line and that his campaign was now doomed. But time and again, Trump supporters made it clear that they liked him because he wasn’t afraid to say what he thought. Fans praised the way Trump talked much more often than they mentioned his policy proposals. He tells it like it is, they said. He speaks his mind. He is not politically correct....
Trump and his followers never defined “political correctness”, or specified who was enforcing it. They did not have to. The phrase conjured powerful forces determined to suppress inconvenient truths by policing language....
There is an obvious contradiction involved in complaining at length, to an audience of hundreds of millions of people, that you are being silenced. But this idea – that there is a set of powerful, unnamed actors, who are trying to control everything you do, right down to the words you use – is trending globally right now....
If you search ProQuest, a digital database of US magazines and newspapers, you find that the phrase “politically correct” rarely appeared before 1990. That year, it turned up more than 700 times. In 1991, there are more than 2,500 instances. In 1992, it appeared more than 2,800 times. Like Indiana Jones movies, these pieces called up enemies from a melange of old wars: they compared the “thought police” spreading terror on university campuses to fascists, Stalinists, McCarthyites, “Hitler Youth”, Christian fundamentalists, Maoists and Marxists.
Many of these articles recycled the same stories of campus controversies from a handful of elite universities, often exaggerated or stripped of context. The New York magazine cover story opened with an account of a Harvard history professor, Stephan Thernstrom, being attacked by overzealous students who felt he had been racially insensitive: “Whenever he walked through the campus that spring, down Harvard’s brick paths, under the arched gates, past the fluttering elms, he found it hard not to imagine the pointing fingers, the whispers. Racist. There goes the racist. It was hellish, this persecution.”
In an interview that appeared soon afterwards in The Nation, Thernstrom said the harassment described in the New York article had never happened....
But soon enough, the term was rebranded by the right, who turned its meaning inside out. All of a sudden, instead of being a phrase that leftists used to check dogmatic tendencies within their movement, “political correctness” became a talking point for neoconservatives. They said that PC constituted a leftwing political programme that was seizing control of American universities and cultural institutions – and they were determined to stop it.
The right had been waging a campaign against liberal academics for more than a decade. Starting in the mid-1970s, a handful of conservative donors had funded the creation of dozens of new thinktanks and “training institutes” offering programmes in everything from “leadership” to broadcast journalism to direct-mail fundraising. They had endowed fellowships for conservative graduate students, postdoctoral positions and professorships at prestigious universities. Their stated goal was to challenge what they saw as the dominance of liberalism and attack left-leaning tendencies within the academy.
Starting in the late 1980s, this well-funded conservative movement entered the mainstream with a series of improbable bestsellers that took aim at American higher education. The first, by the University of Chicago philosophy professor Allan Bloom, came out in 1987.
"The responses that the conservative bestsellers offered to the changes they described were disproportionate and often misleading. For instance, Bloom complained at length about the “militancy” of African American students at Cornell University, where he had taught in the 1960s. He never mentioned what students demanding the creation of African American studies were responding to: the biggest protest at Cornell took place in 1969 after a cross burning on campus, an open KKK threat."
By making fun of professors who spoke in language that most people considered incomprehensible (“The Lesbian Phallus”), wealthy Ivy League graduates could pose as anti-elite. [ed.: Emphasis added. Sounds familiar? Trump = posing as "anti-elite."]
....As Black Lives Matter and movements against sexual violence gained strength, a spate of thinkpieces attacked the participants in these movements, criticising and trivialising them by saying that they were obsessed with policing speech. Once again, the conversation initially focused on universities, but the buzzwords were new. Rather than “difference” and “multiculturalism”, Americans in 2012 and 2013 started hearing about “trigger warnings”, “safe spaces”, “microaggressions”, “privilege” and “cultural appropriation”. [Emphasis added]
...As evidence of the “hegemonic” influence enjoyed by unnamed actors on the left, Chait cited two female journalists saying that they had been criticised by leftists on Twitter.
....The anti-PC liberals were so focused on leftists on Twitter that for months they gravely underestimated the seriousness of the real threat to liberal discourse. It was not coming from women, people of colour, or queer people organising for their civil rights, on campus or elsewhere. It was coming from @realdonaldtrump, neo-Nazis, and far-right websites such as Breitbart...
First, by talking incessantly about political correctness, Trump established the myth that he had dishonest and powerful enemies who wanted to prevent him from taking on the difficult challenges facing the nation. By claiming that he was being silenced, he created a drama in which he could play the hero.
Second, Trump did not simply criticise the idea of political correctness – he actually said and did the kind of outrageous things that PC culture supposedly prohibited.
'We should not underestimate how many Trump supporters held views that were sexist, racist, xenophobic and Islamophobic, and were thrilled to feel that he had given them permission to say so. It’s an old trick: the powerful encourage the less powerful to vent their rage against those who might have been their allies, and to delude themselves into thinking that they have been liberated. It costs the powerful nothing; it pays frightful dividends....
Trump drew upon a classic element of anti-political-correctness by implying that while his opponents were operating according to a political agenda, he simply wanted to do what was sensible. [Emphasis added]
That last part? Basically the fascist playbook: people talking about how much they hate politics and they don't have an ideology are usually trying to subvert the political process in the service of fascist ideologies.
Discussing events as “an illusion of the material world” keeps you in an unhealthy illusion that you don’t need to be an agent of change. Retreating to your safe personal cave of “inner peace” can too easily be used as a method of hiding....
Visualizing world peace is great. What’s even better taking concrete steps toward building that vision in real time.
I feel that way when white liberals invoke MLK, Jr.'s "arc of justice" line without mentioning the amount of blood that was and continues to be shed trying to bend that arc.
Posting guard is a reasonable and measured response to a clear threat. When a neighbor threatens to poison your dog, you secure the fence. When an aggressive power threatens to invade, a state arms and fortifies its borders. And when an autocrat-elect threatens your liberties, you post guard around them. As constitutional-law scholar Garrett Epps has written, “there is hardly a provision of the Bill of Rights or later amendments [Trump] did not explicitly promise to override, from First Amendment freedom of the press and of religion to Fourth Amendment freedom from ‘unreasonable searches and seizures’ to Sixth Amendment right to counsel to Fourteenth Amendment birthright citizenship and Equal Protection and Fifteenth Amendment voting rights.” He has not only promised to begin his work of undoing democratic institutions on his first day in the Oval Office—he has already begun, by insulting the protesters and by denying access to media. Waiting to post guard would be foolish and irresponsible....
The number of people in the streets is very close to being our only hedge against Trump’s power....
Finally, protest is a powerful antidote to helplessness and confusion. Autocracies work by plunging citizens into a state of low-level dread. Most of the powers commandeered by the autocrat are ceded without a fight, and the power of imagination, the claim to a past and a future are the first to go. A person in a state of dread lives in a miserable forever present. A person in a state of dread is imminently controllable. The choice to protest, on the other hand, is the choice to take control of one’s body, one’s time, and one’s words, and in doing so to reclaim the ability to see a future.
I really like the idea of protest as trauma recovery.
- Trump’s lies have a purpose. They are an assault on democracy., by Ned Resnikoff for ThinkProgress (2016-11-27).
"If Bush and Rove constructed a fantasy world with a clear internal logic, Trump has built something more like an endless bad dream. In his political universe, facts are unstable and ephemeral; events follow one after the other with no clear causal linkage; and danger is everywhere, although its source seems to change at random."The politics of "do it for the lulz". It's like 4Chan collectively got itself elected president.
"Bannon is a skilled practitioner of the “darkness” strategy, but he is not its inventor. The real Master of the Dark Arts is another Karl Rove equivalent: Vladislav Surkov, a top adviser to Russian President Vladimir Putin."
"... Surkov then let it be known that this was what he was doing, which meant that no one was sure what was real or fake. As one journalist put it: “It is a strategy of power that keeps any opposition constantly confused."
“Trump gaslighted me,” Fields later told Terris for an article about the incident. “I worry now that he’s gaslighting the country.”
"It is tempting to take solace in the belief that, if Trump cannot be taken literally, his extreme rhetoric might conceal a secret moderate streak. But that hope would be misplaced. Non-linear warfare is intrinsically authoritarian. The president-elect is speaking the language of dictators."
“Surkov’s philosophy is that there is no real freedom in the world, and that all democracies are managed democracies, so the key to success is to influence people, to give them the illusion that they are free, whereas in fact they are managed,” writes Sakwa. “In his view, the only freedom is ‘artistic freedom.’”
"First, social media companies need to be held accountable for facilitating the spread of misinformation. Men like Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, through their greed and stupidity, have shepherded authoritarianism to power in the United States. By embracing a facile definition of “openness,” they’ve sought to reap the traffic benefits of right-wing propaganda while ignoring its disastrous social consequences....
Second, journalists need to understand what Trump is doing and refuse to play by his rules. He is going to use the respect and deference typically accorded to the presidency as an instrument for spreading more lies.... That is the choice every news outlet faces for the next four years: Subservience and complicity, or open hostility. There is no middle ground."
"For the next four years, Donald Trump will seek to shred any institution that threatens his ability to unilaterally determine what is real." [emphasis added]
- Why I don't like the term "AI", by Chris Martens (2016-12-05). 'But ultimately, it's not the first word in "AI" that bothers me, that makes me hesitant to adopt it as a field I identify with -- it's the second one, intelligence. My issue is not just that "intelligence" is poorly defined and hard to measure, but actually that it highlights everything I find culturally wrong with computer science as a field: a false dichotomy and prioritization of the "smart" over the "dumb", the "rational" over the "emotional", and a supposition that these qualities are immutable and acontextual.' (Full disclosure: I'm quoted in this blog post.)
- Frightened by Donald Trump? You don’t know the half of it, by George Monbiot for the Guardian (2016-11-30). "As usual, the left and centre (myself included) are beating ourselves up about where we went wrong. There are plenty of answers, but one of them is that we have simply been outspent. Not by a little, but by orders of magnitude. A few billion dollars spent on persuasion buys you all the politics you want. Genuine campaigners, working in their free time, simply cannot match a professional network staffed by thousands of well-paid, unscrupulous people." (n.b. I think any analysis that only considers the role of money in politics without considering the role of racism in politics is incomplete.)
- ‘Don’t play identity politics!’ The primal scream of the straight white male, by Hadley Freeman for the Guardian (2016-12-02). "It boggles my brain that this even needs pointing out: political elections have always played identity politics. The difference is that the game was heretofore entirely weighted towards the white straight male, which I guess is why it comes as such a shock to that demographic when they are not at the absolute forefront of every single political discussion now."
- [CW: neo-Nazi propaganda quoted in a critical context] "Fascism is not to be debated, it is to be smashed", by smarmygryffindor (2016-12-05) "this is why i say not to argue with fascists, at least, not seriously. if you do, argue with them calmly at first and post sources and all that shit to prove that you’ve got facts and reasoning on your side for the sake of others who will read it, and under no circumstances let them piss you off or upset you. then, once you’ve made your point well enough, just start fucking with them back. don’t make the mistake of thinking arguing with fascists is a debate; it’s all for show, all about who can make the other one look worse. so it’s vital that you point out how fucking inane their talking points are, yes, but it’s also vital that you let them (and everyone else) know that you Are Not Taking Them Seriously. Because you shouldn’t, no one should. You don’t have to prove that human beings deserve rights and racism is wrong."
- [CW: domestic violence, graphic violence against women, anti-Black slurs, queer eliminationism] Trump's Cabinet, by quantum-displacement (2016-11-19). The juxtaposition of the list of necessary content warnings and the title says it all, doesn't it?
- Trump, Cabinet could avoid millions in taxes thanks to this little-known law, by Drew Harwell for the Washington Post (2016-12-02). It's important to maintain our sense of outrage at Trump's unprecedented level of corruption -- that will be key to surviving kleptocracy.
- Potential Conflicts Around the Globe for Trump, the Businessman President, by Richard C. Paddock, Eric Lipton, Ellen Barry, Rod Nordland, Danny Hakim and Simon Romero for the New York Times (2016-11-26). Likewise.
- Shy Person’s Guide to Calling Representatives, by actionfriday (2016-11-18).
- What is the social purpose of David Brooks?, by grapesmoker (2016-12-03). "His sociology is risible, and his lack of self-awareness is legendary; this is, after all, the man who unironically taught a class at Yale on the subject of humility and assigned them his own columns."
- Men Dump Their Anger Into Women, by Emma Lindsay (2016-11-29):
"So many men I know are unable to live a happy life when they don’t have a woman who stops them from feeling the negative feelings that accompany their poor life decisions. It’s notable that they often do not stop making these poor life decisions."(I'd add only that Lindsay's comments about how men are raised do not apply only to men who were assigned male at birth, and only apply to men.)
"Why do angry men deserve sex and I don’t? Why do angry men get women devoted to their emotional caretaking?"
"...we raise men to be angry by default."
"I’ve noticed that when I am forced to endure male culture too long (say, working as a programmer) I also start having trouble identifying my own emotions."
"The only men I know who go to therapy are either gay or in a very bad place. Straight men don’t go to therapy for a tune up, like I do, or many of my female friends do. "
"Most men in my social circle manage their emotions with alcohol, drugs, work, women, or some combination of the above."
- Lawyers: New court software is so awful it’s getting people wrongly arrested, by Cyrus Farivar for Ars Technica (2016-12-02). Another one about software, license agreements, economic incentives, and moral responsibility. "All lives matter, especially those who are being wrongfully put behind bars due to computer problems."
The article asks: "How do you blame software?" I don't think this is actually a complicated question. How do you blame a bridge? You blame the people who make it (and -- maybe more so -- the people who profit from the labor of those who make it.) It's time for everyone to hold the software industry liable for professional negligence.
[Syllabus for white people to educate themselves -- I haven't read all these links yet, but I plan to] https://docs.google.com/document/d/
[also re: safety pins] https://www.facebook.com/amadi.
And one non-election-related link, because we need it:
Actions I have taken to prepare for the Trump administration, by Valerie Aurora (2016-11-13). I like the emphasis here on mutual aid, and I agree with the level of seriousness.
These Babson College frat bros messed with the wrong Wellesley women of color – because we fought back, by Jalena Keane-Lee for the Tempest (2016-11-11). This happened at my alma mater.
a time to heal, by Kris Straub / chainsawsuit (2016-11-10). A comic.
"funny how folks grousing on working harder to understand plight of folks with rural background they never mean my queer ass from Briggs, Tex" -- destroyed4com4t on Twitter
Documented Instances of Harassment, and a Request to Trump Supporters, by Jim C. Hines (2016-11-12).
Doing Liberation Theology In A Reactionary Time, by Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thisthlethwaite for the Huffington Post (2016-11-12). 'Christofascism, according to Sölle, is a Christianity that individualizes and sentimentalizes Jesus, severs his connection to the Hebrew prophets, and makes a mockery of his ministry and mission to the poor and the marginalized. Christofascists have a “God without justice, a Jesus without a cross, an Easter without a cross — what remains is a metaphysical Easter Bunny in front of the beautiful blue light of the television screen, a betrayal of the disappointed, a miracle weapon in service of the mighty."'
How Do You Talk To Your Kids?, by Saladin Ahmed (2016-11-12). A poem.
"If you're a Trump voter who is tired of being called a bigot, if you say you voted for him based on gun rights or economic issues, or because you think Hillary really was that awful, and in spite of his rhetoric, rather than because of it, I believe you. If you're in my life, I clearly don't think you're a vile hateful person. But if you're now watching protests across the country and you don't understand why, or think they are just being sore losers, let me break something down for you. These people aren't just angry or sad that someone they didn't support won the election, they're scared...", by Michael Rex (quoted by Sydne Sullivan) (2016-11-11).
I've heard enough of the white male rage narrative, by Hadley Freeman for the Guardian (2016-11-10). "Trump’s supporters, like Brexit supporters before them, will say that these are merely the bleatings of the sore losers – the Remoaners, the Grimtons, or whatever portmanteau is conceived next. This objection always misses the obvious point that these people aren’t mourning for themselves. Whereas those who voted for Trump and Brexit did so to turn time back for their personal benefit, those who voted for remain or Hillary Clinton did so because they know time only moves forward, and this benefits society. To try to force it back hurts everyone."
A graphic on what "it's going to be ok" really means, by Geri Weitzman (2016-11-11).
I’m a disabled American. Trump’s policies will be a disaster for people like me., by Ari Ne’eman for Vox (2016-11-09).
- Exit Strategy, by EricaJoy (2016-11-03). "Staying is not a desirable option. Staying leaves me in a country run by a person who can start a war and would probably start one because someone slighted him."
- [CW: sex; sexually explicit images (porn covers)] The Erin Brockovich of Porn, by Jeremy Lybarger for Esquire (2016-11-04). "We almost made it through lunch without mentioning the turkey basters full of cum, which would have been a shame."
- Goodbye to all that: I’m done with Election 2016, by Sady Doyle for Global Comment (2016-11-03).
I’m tired. I’m tired of debating whether gender plays a role in the election of the potential first female President, whether sexism is affecting media coverage or public sentiment, whether Hillary Clinton’s female supporters are selfish for caring about gender when There Are So Many Other Problems In The World After All, whether sexism itself even qualifies as a problem. I am tired of the lingering hangover of the Democratic primary, tired of what this conversation has shown me about the seemingly well-meaning, “progressive” men in my life. I am tired of seeing the damage that even the mildest, wimpiest, plaid-shirt-clad beardy-bro can do when he’s been given license to stop taking sexism seriously, and therefore stopped worrying that he might get somebody hurt.
- is donald trump a ‘man of peace’?, by leftytgirl (2016-11-03). 'Why do some on the left seem to believe Trump is a ‘man of peace’? What personal traits of his is this based on?'
- What Hillary Clinton's Fans Love About Her, by Chimamanda Adichie (2016-11-03).
A conservative writer labeled her a congenital liar when she was first lady, and the label stuck because it was repeated over and over—and it was a convenient label to harness misogyny. If she was a liar, then the hostility she engendered could not possibly be because she was a first lady who refused to be still and silent. “Liar’ has re-emerged during this election even though Politifact, a respected source of information about politicians, has certified that she is more honest than most politicians—and certainly more honest than her opponent.
Because she is already considered guilty in a vague and hazy way, there is a longing for her to be demonstrably guilty of something. Other words have been repeated over and over, with no context, until they have begun to breathe and thrum with life. Especially “emails.” The press coverage of “emails” has become an unclear morass where “emails” must mean something terrible, if only because of how often it is invoked.
- When Truth Falls Apart, by Maria Bustillos for The Awl (2016-11-02). So good:
"Dismediation is looking to make you never really trust or believe a news story, ever again....
It’s not that we can’t agree on what the facts are. It’s that we cannot agree on what counts as fact.
(There's something to be said here about the relationship between what Bustillos calls dismediation -- the propagation of epistemological nihilism -- and the denial of marginalized people's lived experiences that is the substance of gaslighting.)
- His message was that America is fine, by Aaron Bady (2010-11-01). Yes, this article is six years old, but so much of it still rings true: '...by condemning both ideological “sides” equally for the crime of being ideological, he implies or explicitly claims that the truth is to be found in a “Real” that is outside those ideological filters.'
- Smashing the Silicon Valley patriarchy: anti-Lean In strategy puts onus on men, by Zoë Corbyn for The Guardian (2016-11-02). My friend Valerie Aurora in the news!
- Why I Glorify Obesity, by Marie Southard Opsina for Bustle (2016-11-01).
- Honest Diversity in Tech Report, by Sarah Cooper (2016-11-02). Finally, some good news!
Why would Facebook fire Peter Thiel?, by Paul Biggar (2016-10-26). This needs to be said, and maybe because it's a white man saying it, some of the people who need to listen will listen: 'Look at the words they use — “scared for the lives”, “hate and violence”, “his attacks”, “existential threat” — and contrast them to Altman’s and Zuckerberg’s: “because they support Trump”, “support of a political candidate”. Altman and Zuckerberg are talking about mere political support. The others are talking about fearing for their lives.' (I disagree with Biggar about one thing: the idea that people who aren't like him deserve to be safe is political; for most of us, whether we deserve to be safe is a highly politicized question. Nonetheless, the distinction between being unsafe and being disagreed with is important.)
Why I'm Done Talking About Diversity Or, Why We Should Try an All-White Diversity Panel, by Marlon James (2016-10-20). So many good points here. I think this relates to what I wrote about in "Opinions Are Abundant and Low-Value, too, in that we can only be fooled into thinking "diversity of opinion" is a useful goal if we think of diversity as a goal rather than an incidental outcome.
"Well for one, saying these isms are dividing us is implying that we are equally to blame for the division. What is happening is one group using social, economic and political policies to separate themselves from others, not always deliberately. It’s not for the black person to be more open-minded. It’s for the white person to be less racist."Developer hiring and the market for lemons, by Dan Luu. So many good points here -- Luu examines and eviscerates, in detail, why the belief that engineering managers accurately assess talent -- and therefore, the belief that "all good developers already have jobs" -- is completely wrong. It follows pretty easily from the points Luu makes that prejudice against people who change jobs frequently is illogical unless you blame people for having been in a bad working environment.
"Diversity can’t accomplish anything because diversity shouldn’t have been a goal in the first place."
"The point I will raise at a diversity panel this year, will be the same point I raised ten years ago, which again reinforces the question of what purpose these panels serve."
Some things that might help you make better software, by David R. MacIver (2016-10-27). This is not just a random bag of ideas -- I think that the points about testing and documentation are deeply related to the points about culture, working from home, and working hours. I'm working on a blog post in which I elaborate just that, but in the meantime, this is a really great list of things you should know about doing software right, written from a holistic standpoint.
Academia, Love Me Back, by Tiffany Martinez (2016-10-27). 'On the second page the professor circled the word “hence” and wrote in between the typed lines “This is not your word.” The word “not” was underlined. Twice. My professor assumed someone like me would never use language like that. As I stood in the front of the class while a professor challenged my intelligence I could just imagine them reading my paper in their home thinking could someone like her write something like this?'
[CW: white men with guns; description of murder] I Went Undercover With a Border Militia. Here's What I Saw, by Shane Bauer for Mother Jones (2016-10). There's a lot here. An incidental point that jumped out at me was: "there is an added concern among law enforcement that going after a group simply for training 'could backfire and make them feel persecuted or victimized.'" So much for the war on terror... oh wait, we only care about terrorists feeling persecuted or victimized if those terrorists happen to be white.
The pyramid at the end of the world, by Elmo Keep for Fusion (2016-10-28). What a weird, beautiful article about a weird, beautiful monument to how close we continue to come to nuclear annihilation. I don't know if it was written specifically about this place, but the song "Nightshift Watchman" by David Wilcox came to mind. "If I do my job, my job is over..."
Debunking Patient Zero, by Azeen Ghorayshi for Buzzfeed (2016-10-26). As several of my friends pointed out this is not news, but it should still be disseminated. '“There was so much anxiety and fear about HIV and origins of HIV that it led to blame — blame along people’s beliefs, blame along people’s prejudices,” Richard Elion, an HIV researcher at George Washington University, told BuzzFeed News. “People want to believe that bad things in the world happen because of bad people. But biology doesn’t work that way.”'
The Racist and Sexist History of Keeping Birth Control Side Effects Secret, by Bethy Squires for Vice (2016-10-17).
When tech firms judge on skills alone, women land more job interviews, by Erin Carson for Cnet (2016-08-27). Not news either, but it's always good to have more evidence.
The Accidental City, by Helena Fitzgerald (2016-10-27). If you're at all sentimental about New York City, subways, or the New York subway system, you'll enjoy this.
Lie: "Isn't calling people out for their abusive behavior just as bad as abusing people?"
- When is naming abuse itself abusive?, by Valerie Aurora (2016-10-24). This is so good and I want to print out many copies and nail them to various walls:
"Naming and accurately describing abusive behavior is necessary and powerful at the same time that it makes many people feel uncomfortable.... Being uncomfortable is not in and of itself a sign that you are doing something wrong. I encourage people to think about what makes you uncomfortable about naming and describing abusive behavior, or seeing other people do it. Is it compassion for the person engaging in abusive behavior? Then I ask you to apply that compassion to the targets of abuse. Is it fear of further abuse by the person being called out? Then I urge you to support people taking action to end that abuse. Is it desire for a lack of overt conflict – a “negative peace“? Then I suggest you raise your sights and aim for a positive peace that includes justice and consideration for all. Is it fear that the wrong person will be accidentally targeted? Then I invite you to reflect on the enormous risk and backlash faced by people do this kind of naming and describing. And then I invite you to worry more about the people who are remaining silent when speaking up would benefit us all."
- Peter Thiel, YC, and hard decisions, by Ellen Pao (2016-10-17). "Giving more power to someone whose ascension and behavior strike fear into so many people is unacceptable. His attacks on Black, Mexican, Asian, Muslim, and Jewish people, on women, and on others are more than just political speech; fueled by hate and encouraging violence, they make each of us feel unsafe."
- Part-Time Power, by Leigh Honeywell (2016-10-19). 'We all get to make a choice as to what constitutes “intolerable intolerance”. YC has made it clear that Thiel’s actions and words are tolerable enough to them to continue to give him power over people in their organization, and I find this unconscionable.'
- When the Genius Men of Silicon Valley Suddenly Don't Seem So Smart, by Sam Biddle for The Intercept (2016-10-19).
- The hypocrisy of Facebook's silence on Peter Thiel's support for Donald Trump, by Julia Carrie Wong for the Guardian (2016-10-18). "Money talks, and in Silicon Valley, it seems, money can say whatever it wants as long as one’s public statements (be they convention speeches or Washington Post op-eds) obfuscate the bigotry that lies beneath."
- “Emotions are Running High…” by Arlan Hamilton (2016-10-21). "This week, another entity was set to make a very generous investment in my company. This was a deal a few weeks in the making, and at approx $500k would have made a huge impact on what we’re building at Backstage. Because this entity has close business ties to Thiel, I was faced with the decision to be a hypocrite and take the cash, or not be a hypocrite and respectfully decline it. I chose the latter."
- Twitter Fires Its VR Project Manager After Homeless Rant Resurfaces, by William Turton for Gizmodo (2016-10-19). Sometimes there's justice in the world.
- [CW: sexual harassment; universities; but I repeat myself.] From Texas to the Smithsonian, following a trail of sexual misconduct, by Michael Balter for The Verge (2016-10-24). Systemic sexual harassment and professors' and administrators' insistence on making sure it keeps happening. So familiar.
- Why I won’t be attending Systems We Love, by Valerie Aurora (2016-10-22). "Even if Bryan doesn’t attack me, people who like the current unpleasant culture of systems programming will. I thought long and hard about the friendships, business opportunities, and social capital I would lose over this blog post. I thought about getting harassed and threatened on social media. I thought about a week of cringing whenever I check my email. Then I thought about the people who might attend Systems We Love: young folks, new developers, a trans woman at her first computing event since coming out – people who are looking for a friendly and supportive place to talk about systems at the beginning of their careers. I thought about them being deeply hurt and possibly discouraged for life from a field that gave me so much joy."
- [CW: abuse] Hillary: My President, my Patronus, by Tierney Wisniewski (2016-10-21). I really related to this article about finding vindication as a child of a narcissist from watching Clinton succeed by exposing Trump for who he is: "I’m an only child. I had no witnesses inside the family. It was my word against that of two unreliable adults. Now, watching one more very unreliable adult, I have millions of witnesses to corroborate my perceptions of what is happening, and the documentation to back up our perceptions. And that part feels awesome."
- The Leftist Case for Clinton, by Milo Beckman (2016-10-19). "Clinton has consistently been as far to the left as a public figure could be in America without being dismissed as a lunatic."
- Trumpworld, by Michelle García for Guernica (2016-10-21) "...For much of the campaign season, the press and commentators have branded Trump as an aberration, his rhetoric seemingly a deviation from the political norm, his vision for the country a frightening possibility of the future. In reality, much of Trumpworld already exists." García shows how Trump's white supremacy and anti-immigrant racism are nothing new. Nor are they unique to the right wing: "Partisan differences offer little or no immunity from the violent border paradigm, even among those seemingly supportive of immigrants."
- Hillary Clinton’s 3 debate performances left the Trump campaign in ruins, by Ezra Klein for Vox (2016-10-19). While Trump's opinions aren't unusual among conservatives, his strategy (or lack thereof) is, and Clinton has exploited it skillfully: "The dominant narrative of this election goes something like this. Hillary Clinton is a weak candidate who is winning because she is facing a yet weaker candidate. Her unfavorables are high, her vulnerabilities are obvious, and if she were running against a Marco Rubio or a Paul Ryan, she would be getting crushed. Lucky for her, she’s running against a hot orange mess with higher unfavorables, clearer vulnerabilities, and a tape where he brags about grabbing women "by the pussy.""
- The myth of personal life under capitalism, by Susan Rosenthal (2015-01). "Transforming inquisitive children into obedient, producing and reproducing machines requires a persistent shaming process that compels us to reject every part of ourselves that might rebel: our curiosity, our need to be heard and valued, and our need to actively shape our lives and our world. As a result, we cannot be complete human beings. When we believe that parts of ourselves are unworthy, we are ashamed to show ourselves, and our relationships remain superficial and insecure."
- The Gaslighting of the Millennial Generation, by Caitlin Herron (2016-10-17) "The negative opinions directed at millennials are a perfect example, on an enormous societal scale, of cultural gaslighting."
- Millennials Who Are Thriving Financially Have One Thing in Common… Rich parents, by Gillian B. White for the Atlantic (2015-07-15).
The study calls this a 'funnel of privilege': Young adults with rich parents soon become rich themselves.
"Haves are turning their riches or their wealth into bigger wealth because they are investing in the housing market by simply living in a house," says Gudell. This advantage is one that these Millennials will carry forward as they earn more than their degree-less peers, and save more than those who were forced to throw away tens of thousands of dollars on rent due to their inability to buy. In the future, they’ll have wealth to pass down to their own kids, continuing the cycle.
Discerning Emotional Abuse in Relationships, by Xan West (2016-10-14).
D&D For Young DMs and Players 3: The X-Card, by Rory Bristol (2016-10-03). Interesting example of content warnings in practice (in the context of roleplaying games.) h/t joxn
[CW: rape, rape culture] When Men Brag About Sexual Assault, by siderea (2016-10-10). I also recommend its predecessor piece, Trump's Sexual Inkblot. This is about much more than just Trump:
The "locker-room banter" excuse says to women (and others), "you don't get to make the same natural surmises that men get to make about the very same speech acts applied to other crimes". It's a double standard: when the crime being boasted about is sexual in nature, women (and others) are supposed to give it a pass. "He's just saying that. It doesn't mean he does it."
When it comes to sexual crimes and torts, women (and others) are told they are supposed to suspend operation of their common sense. What men say when bragging about sexual misconduct is to be held in a little epistemological bubble, where none of it means, signifies, or counts in any way outside the bubble. Within the bubble – the rhetorical "locker-room" – those speech acts are to be understood and evaluated only by a special set of rules, which insist such utterances are not of relevance to the (presumed female) parties spoken of, only to the (presumed male) parties spoken to. Those utterances are not to be taken outside of the bubble; they are not to be exposed to reasoned contemplation in the light of anything outside the bubble whatsoever. We are to pretend under all circumstances not to have heard that which we have heard that men arrogate to the bubble; we are to pretend not to know anything the knowing of which men arrogate to the bubble. It is, Orwellianly, knowledge that, if we know it, we are forbidden to know.
[CW: suicide, discussion of mental illness hospitalization] Suicide Didn’t Kill Me, But Capitalism Might, by Beck Levy (2016-09-09). 'The bottom line is that in this ongoing crisis, “awareness” and “ending stigma” are toothless if depoliticized. All the awareness in the world won’t dismantle for-profit healthcare. Applying free-market principles to human needs wreaks havoc on our bodies.'
North Carolina Governor: My wife and I are being shunned by friends over anti-trans law, by Nick Duffy for PinkNews (2016-10-13). The lack of self-awareness here is breathtaking.
Men, You Can Survive Without Us—Please Try, by Ijeoma Oluo for The Establishment (2016-10-14). "All of this fear that you cannot survive without us is leaving so many of us dead."
The Ada Initiative’s legacy, one year on, by the Ada Initiative, 2016-10-17. Includes a list of ways you can continue supporting women in open technology and culture!
How False Narratives of Margaret Sanger Are Being Used to Shame Black Women, by Imani Gandy for Rewire (2016-08-20). On how Margaret Sanger's views on race have been grossly misrepresented by the pro-forced-pregnancy movement.
on #notallmen, derailing, and the fury it causes, by Jay (2015-08-01). Because this can never be said enough times:
Let’s talk about metonymy.
thefreedictionary.com defines the kind of metonymy I’m talking about as “a figure of speech in which the name of one object or concept is used for that of another to which it is related, as “scepter” for “sovereignty,” or “the bottle” for “strong drink”. So, if we extrapolate, we see how saying “I hate men” could stand in for “I hate the kind of man that rapes, kills, refuses to listen to me, voids my agency, trivializes my experiences, speaks over me, and makes jokes at my expense.”
You can see how the one is quicker and easier than the other.
White Nonsense: Alt-right trolls are arguing over genetic tests they think “prove” their whiteness, by Elspeth Reeve for Vice (2016-10-09). White supremacists got their 23andMe results and you won't believe what happened next! (Truly delightful.)
Election Update: Women Are Defeating Donald Trump, by Nate Silver for FiveThirtyEight (2016-10-11). Good.
[CW: discussion of disordered eating] I Wasn't Addicted To Food. I Was Addicted to Dieting, by Virgie Tovar for Ravishly (2016-10-06). "...I do have a tendency to use experiences the way addicts use substances, because I learned addictive behavioral frameworks growing up." How when food gets used in a way that resembles an addiction, it's actually dieting that people use to distance themselves from their own feelings and reactions, not eating -- the "impulse to create emergencies and drama."
Trans Girl Periods. Yes, that’s right. No, I’m being serious. Just read the damn article, by Alaina Kailyn (2016-10-06). Bodies are so fascinating! I hadn't known that for many trans women, taking the same dosage of exogenous hormones every day still causes hormones to fluctuate, producing the same emotional ups and downs many cis women experience as part of the menstrual cycle, as the body adjusts its own production of hormones in response to the external feedback.
Fuck Portlandia, by In Other Words staff (2016-09-30). "...the last time the show filmed in our space, the production crew asked to us to remove the Black Lives Matter sign on our window."
Elon Musk Follows Zero Women on Twitter, by Sarah Jeong (2016-10-04). "Of course, Musk often retweets articles about Tesla Motors or SpaceX, which means he’s probably retweeted articles written by women. After all, about half the planet is occupied by people who aren’t men, and it would take a lot of effort to manage to completely erase them."
Idiocracy Is a Cruel Movie and You Should Be Ashamed For Liking It, by Matt Novak for Gizmodo (2014-07-29). I've never seen this movie and always thought there was something deeply anti-human about it, and Novak explains exactly what it is.
Trump and the Truth, by David Remnick, Eyal Press, Adam Davidson, and Adam Gopnik for the New Yorker (2016-09). This was written before That Video was released; it's still good to see a small number of Trump's lies systematically exposed.
More Evidence That Open Offices Make People Less Social, by Drake Baer for New York magazine (2016-09-16). Not that facts are going to persuade managers to reject open offices, since open offices were never instituted based on facts, but it's still nice to have facts. "...people who work in open-office plans had worse co-worker friendships than people who had private or shared offices" is something that resonates with my experience, since the sensory overload of an open office is such a drain on my resources that it makes me want to spend as little time in my office -- and by extension, with coworkers -- as possible.
Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem, by Kate Crawford for the New York Times (2016-06-25). "Currently the loudest voices debating the potential dangers of superintelligence are affluent white men, and, perhaps for them, the biggest threat is the rise of an artificially intelligent apex predator.
But for those who already face marginalization or bias, the threats are here."
Your ‘Political Beliefs’ Don’t Justify Racism, by Andrew Wang for the Huffington Post (2016-09-21). I've been waiting for somebody to connect the dots as to how "political diversity" is how fascists sneak their ideology through the back door. This isn't quite that, but it approaches that. (I tried to write about it in "Opinions Are Abundant and Low-Value", too, but since then it's gotten clearer and clearer how transparent "political diversity" is as a veneer over white supremacy and fascism.)
"Political diversity is valuable. But a definition of political diversity that does not emphasize the reality of identity politics is amorphous, and overlooks how these discussions are often the first issues to be unwelcome and disrespected in the political arena. What then forms is a guise under which racist views must be tolerated. And when such a tolerance is made explicit by an educational institution, that institution becomes an enabler of racist rhetoric."
I especially appreciated this insight into how paradoxically limiting it is to use American two-party politics as the metric for "diversity of opinion": "...it becomes almost impossible to move beyond a partisan realm of discourse when traditional politics have been selected by institutions as the starting and ending point of debate."
[CW: discussion of fatphobia and bullying] Emotional Implications of Weight Stigma Across Middle School: The Role of Weight-Based Peer Discrimination, by Jaana Juvonen, Leah M. Lessard, Hannah L. Schacter, and Luisana Suchilt in the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology. I read the abstract and another article summarizing this one, about how it's weight stigma, not being fat, that harms the mental health of fat middle school students. (Chorus of "well, duh" from every fat person in the room.)
This Transgender Boy Gave A Powerful Speech To Counter Fear At His School, by David Mack for Buzzfeed (2016-09-14). In a better world, adults would come for other adults who terrorize 12-year-olds because of their amorphous fears -- in this world, 12-year-olds have to stand up for themselves against those adults, and Ari Bowman, a 12-year-old trans boy, did that; you can watch a video of his speech to school board officials.
The Psychology of Victim-Blaming by Kayleigh Roberts for the Atlantic (2016-10-05). Good outline of how the just-world fallacy causes people to blame victims.
Protect Your Irritated Nervous System by sonia (2016-10). Good stuff about understanding chronic stress.
The Importance of Paying Attention in Building Community Trust, by mjg59 (2016-10-03). If your community doesn't handle the little things, no one will trust you to get big things right.
It’s Not About Race!, by John Metta (2016-09-18). 'When a white person says “It’s not about race,” they are pretty much always saying it when a Black person, or a Latino person, or a Muslim person is not acting the way a white European would act or wants them to act.' (I probably would have cited this in "The Filter of Unemotionality" had I read it sooner.)
Language in Emergency Medicine: A Verbal Self-Defense Handbook, by Suzette Haden Elgin (1999). I am thinking about this approach to communication and would like to read and think more about it. "In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume that it is true, and try to imagine what it could be true of" isn't advice I follow all the time, or even most of the time, and I especially don't want to assume that what somebody is saying is true when what they're saying is that I don't deserve to live. However, there might be more times when it's useful than I've accounted for.
A Health Benefit of Roller Coasters, by James Hamblin for the Atlantic (2016-09-26). Now this is the kind of science I love: "So I used real urine … to avoid criticism."
The Sexist Response to a Science Book Prize, by Thomas Levenson for the Atlantic (2016-09-30).
Some links about weight and fatphobia. CWs apply to all of them, but particularly the two articles by Gina Kolata, which are quite wrong-headed and pathologizing (having a body size and shape that some people find sexually unattractive isn't a "disease", folks), but still contain some useful information.
- After Transitioning, No One Calls Me Fat Anymore, by Liam Lowery for Buzzfeed (2016-09-24).
- Why Do Obese Patients Get Worse Care? Many Doctors Don’t See Past the Fat, by Gina Kolata for the New York Times (2016-09-25).
- What Obese Patients Should Say to Doctors, by Gina Kolata for the NY Times (2016-09-25). (Of course, I would rather see an article addressed to doctors about how they should treat fat people.)
The Mythology Of Trump’s ‘Working Class’ Support, by Nate Silver for FiveThirtyEight (2016-05-03).
A Pox On Your Box: The Problem of LELO Hex, by Lorax of Sex (2016-09-25) -- about a supposedly-revolutionary new condom design that's anything but.
Life-Hacks of the Poor and Aimless, by Laurie Penny for The Baffler (2016-07-08):
When Penny writes, "There is an obvious political dimension to the claim that wellbeing, with the right attitude, can be produced spontaneously," it reminds me of the blog post I want to write about the political uses of cognitive-behavioral therapy.
'Can all this positive thinking be actively harmful? Carl Cederström and André Spicer, authors of The Wellness Syndrome, certainly think so, arguing that obsessive ritualization of self-care comes at the expense of collective engagement, collapsing every social problem into a personal quest for the good life. “Wellness,” they declare, “has become an ideology.”
My Childhood Was Appropriate For Children, by Annalee for The Bias (2016-09-23). "Bisexuality is perfectly appropriate for children, because many children are bisexual. Treating bisexuality as an ‘adult’ topic? As if it’s a deviation kids couldn’t possibly understand? That’s what’s not appropriate for children."
Valuing chronically ill graduate students, by Sarcozona for Tenure, She Wrote (2016-09-22). "None of my colleagues would ever say to me that they think I shouldn’t be a scientist or that chronically ill and disabled students should be barred from academia, but when there isn’t (adequate) funding for sick students, chronically ill students are effectively excluded from academia."
ADHD Tipping Points: Why people with ADHD suddenly seem to fall apart, and what you can do about it, by Emily Morson for Mosaic of Minds (2016-09-15). About why people with chronic illness (whether that illness is categorized as mental or physical) often seem to function normally up to a point, then fall apart during adulthood -- writte about ADHD, but I think it can apply just as well to C/PTSD and probably many other illnesses.
[CW: rape] Cockblocking Rapists Is A Moral Obligation; or, How To Stop Rape Right Now, by Thomas MacAulay Millar for Yes Means Yes (2013-10-20). Lots of good points in this, including the importance of noticing boundary-pushing, and this: "What can people do with unsubstantiated accusations? Quite a lot, actually."
Two pieces on the trash fire that is Out magazine's decision to profile professional harassment campaign organizer Milo Yiannopoulos:
- Out’s editor-in-chief: controversial Milo Yiannopoulos story is ‘a great, top-notch profile piece’, by Sam Stecklow for Fusion (2016-09-22). "Charges that Yiannopoulos has been given space in Out over queer people of color or queer women reflect the magazine’s persistent problems when it comes to representation. Out, founded in 1992, was initially targeted at both queer men and women, but it has since become squarely aimed at the profitable niche of style-conscious young white gay men."
- This is the problem with the profile of internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos in 'Out', by Gabriel Arana for Mic (2016-09-22). "In fact, you do not have to profile a white supremacist as if he were Jacqueline Kennedy showing off the White House. You don't have to profile a white supremacist at all."
Occupy Wall Street, five years on: fire in the dustbin of history, by Laurie Penny for the New Statesman (2016-09-17). 'Being on the left is, in some ways, an exercise in learning how to fail. Of course, all resistance movements eventually fail, because those which do not succeed in overhauling the existing order invariably become the existing order. Wilson, writing as Bey, reminds us that the Temporary Autonomous Zones are, by their nature, ephemeral. “Such moments of intensity give shape and meaning to the entirety of a life. You can't stay up on the roof forever — but things have changed, shifts and integrations have occurred — a difference is made.”'
Take the Cake: Fat Fury, Fat Love — Claiming 'Fat Space' In Activist Communities, by Virgie Tovar for Ravishly (2016-09-08). "I too feel intense pressure to be perpetually kind, patient, and educational whenever I write or speak about fat discrimination and body image. Often, I do genuinely feel kind and patient and educational. The problem is that when I don’t feel that way, I am expected to bypass feelings of anger or disappointment in favor of sublimation, with the idea being that this sublimation benefits me/all people (since I am a subset of all people)."
Why I Quit My Job To Live Off My Private Wealth, by Fiona Pearce for Reductress (2016-09-20). "Life is about choices, and you only get one life to live. The only way to take control of your destiny is to decide how you really want to spend your time—which is why I chose to quit my job and live off my vast personal fortune."
2009Why We Document, by Mary Gardiner. "But what makes it worth it for me is that when people are scratching their heads over why women would avoid such a revolutionarily free environment like Free Software development, did maybe something bad actually happen, that women have answers."
Questioning the Merit of Meritocracy, by Skud.
2010But Women Are an Advanced Social Skill, by Mary Gardiner.
Is requiring Open Source experience sexist?, by Mary Gardiner.
Self-confidence tricks, by Terri Oda.
Geek feminism as opposed to mainstream feminism?, by Mary Gardiner.
How to Appear Incompetent in One Easy Step, by Amber Baldet.
When You Are the Expert in the Room, by Mary Gardiner.
Meritocracy? Might want to re-think how you define merit., by Terri Oda. "It’s not the intelligence of the group members that matters; it’s their social sensitivity."
"Why don't you just hit him?, by Mary Gardiner. "Harassment is not a private matter between harasser and victim, and it’s not the victim’s job to put a stop to it."
Letting down my entire gender, by Terri Oda. "You feel like changing the world rests in your hands, and you let the world down because you had to say no. You had to quit. You had to hide."
2011On competence, confidence, pernicious socialization, recursion, and tricking yourself, by Sumana Harihareswara. "It’s as though my goalposts came on casters to make them easier to move"
Impostor syndrome and hiring power, by Mary Gardiner.
in memory of nina reiser, by mizchalmers
Geeks as bullied and bullies, by Mary Gardiner
Online harassment as a daily hazard: when trolls feed themselves, by Mary Gardiner.
On being harassed: a little GF history and some current events, by Skud. 'I didn’t quit because I couldn’t handle the technology, or because I had a baby, but because I had become fundamentally disenchanted with a “community” (please imagine me doing sarcastic air quotes) that supports the kind of abuse I’ve experienced and treats most human-related problems — from harassment to accessibility to the infinite variety of names people use (ahem ahem Google Plus) — as “too hard”.'
2012What she really said: Fighting sexist jokes the geeky way!, by Jessamyn Smith.
How I Got 50% Women Speakers at My Tech Conference, by Courtney Stanton.
I take it we aren’t cute enough for you?, by Mary Gardiner. "I want to get this out in the open: people love to support geek girls, they are considerably more ambivalent about supporting geek women."
Pipeline Guilt, by Jessamyn Fairfield. "It’s a heavy burden to want to be the best example for women in your field, at the expense of your own happiness. And it’s easy to hear about the leaky pipeline and see it as prescriptive, implying that individual women have to choose to stay in the pipeline in order to help solve the problem."
2013Dear male allies: your sexism looks a bit like my racism, by mizchalmers. "Here’s what I want to tell you, dear male allies. It is such a relief. Listening to other peoples’ voices? Is incredibly moving, and humbling, and endlessly interesting. Shutting the hell up while I do it? God, how I love the sound of not-my-own-voice. Going into battle against racists and so forth? So much easier, now that I have a faint clue what’s actually going on."
Book Club: Three times a Geek Feminist walked away from Omelas (and two times she didn’t), by mizchalmers. "Now I think the best we can do is practise vigilance. To watch out for people who might be locking children in rooms. And to refrain from locking children in rooms ourselves."
Tech confidence vs. tech competence, by Alex. "This is in stark contrast to communities where tech competence is valued above all else: where people feel they have to hide their mistakes. In such settings we routinely observe low volunteering rates from people in marginalised groups, with low retention from beginning volunteers, because people are too scared to ask for help or too scared to admit that they don’t know how things work."
2014It is easier now that I look like a guy, by Fortister. "Instead of spending my weekend hacking open source I spend my weekend figuring out how to defend the notion of my humanity."
Dropping the F bomb, by Skud. "Women in tech groups are not necessarily feminist. Some actively work against feminist ideals."
White Woman at Her ‘Most Authentic’ When Appropriating Other Cultures, by Taryn Englehart for Reductress (2016-03-08).
To find Hillary Clinton likable, we must learn to view women as complex beings, by Caroline Siede for Boingboing (2016-09-15). "So why is Clinton critiqued for raising her voice like Sanders, speaking hard truths like Biden, and making an awkward Pokémon Go reference we almost certainly would have dubbed a “dad joke” had Kaine said it? Why do we find their flaws likable and Clinton’s flaws off-putting? Why isn't she seen as America's awkward aunt or nerdy stepmom?"
26 Things Emotionally Strong People Do, by Jeremy Radin (2016-08-25). "Emotionally Strong people have four emotions: strong, abundance, no I am not having a panic attack I’m just tired from being so busy manifesting what I am blessed about every day, and hashtag."
The lasting impact of white teachers who mispronounce minority student names, by Clare McLaughlin for Quartz (2016-09-07). '...it’s okay to make an error, “but it is not okay to ignore the mistake or not learn from it.”'
All 314 Bruce Springsteen Songs, Ranked From Worst to Best, by Caryn Rose for Vulture (2016-09-13). I feel personally attacked by this list in all sorts of ways, but I enjoyed reading it.
Mansplaining: how not to talk to female Nasa astronauts, by Laura Bates for the Guardian (2016-09-13). "In the meantime, here is a good rule of thumb for overenthusiastic men on Twitter to follow: if she’s wearing a Nasa spacesuit, take a minute to consider whether you really want to tell her how to do her job."
Why You Shouldn’t Label People “Low Performers”, by Ryan W. Quinn for the Harvard Business Review (2016-09-14). In general, labeling is a cognitive distortion. In specific, this article talks about why labeling employees as "good" or "bad" workers undermines an organization.
The Collective Gaslighting of the Trigger Warning Debate, by Miri (Brute Reason) for The Orbit (2016-09-13). "If people are telling you that they are trying to engage with trauma-related material and you insist that they’re actually saying that they want to avoid it–or literally ban it from being taught–you are gaslighting them. You are insisting that you know better than they do what’s inside their own heads. You are pretending that they said something other than what they actually said, making them doubt their own thoughts and words."
Real Talk: Women in Tech and Money, by Cate Huston (2016-09-15). "...if you know that part your career is likely to be over within ten years, you (if you are sensible) factor that into your financial planning. Looking at the data, it makes sense for women in tech to do the same."
HSAs are the worst new hotness in healthcare, by Amy (2016-08-29). Health insurance sucks.
Trauma, Trigger Warnings, and Making a Little Space, by Emily C. Heath (2016-08-27). "But that’s not what trigger warnings are about. They’re not “get out of hard conversations free” cards. Rather, they are conscious ways of telling the people involved in a conversation what they are about to see and hear." If you're a hospital chaplain warning a family about what their loved one who's been in an accident might look like before they go in to see them, that's a form of trigger warning. When not contextualized as "trigger warnings", somehow a lot of people have an easier time understanding why they're needed.
Teaching with Trauma: Trigger Warnings, Feminism, and Disability Pedagogy, by Angela M. Carter (2015). Suggested by jesse_the_k. So many good quotes from this, including:
- "Whether or not we consider the affect and effects of trauma on pedagogy is a choice only for those whose lives are not already shaped by trauma. For us, there is no choice; our experiences of trauma shape how we move through the world. "
- "...experiences of re-traumatization or being triggered are not the same as being challenged outside of one's comfort zone, being reminded of a bad feeling, or having to sit with disturbing truths."
'When this occurs, the triggered individuals often feel a complete loss of control and disassociation from the bodymind. This is not a state of injury, but rather a state of disability. Because others understand this lost of control and the other related affects as emotionally disproportionate, the traumatized individual is no longer seen as reliable, or as having the ability to "make sense."'
- "Throughout their report, the AAUP repeatedly equates trauma with being offended, made to feel uncomfortable, or responding negatively with a claim of injury. As noted above, being triggered or re-experiencing trauma entails a fully embodied shift in affect wherein any number of psychosomatic responses may occur without one's cognitive control. This is not the same thing as, for example, the discomfort that comes with confronting one's white privilege, or the feeling of personal injury that may come when someone challenges your belief system. With this fundamental misunderstanding grounding their response, it is no wonder the AAUP argues against trigger warnings."
- "Those in opposition to trigger warnings in classroom reinforce the individual model of disability, suggesting that the traumatized or triggered individual seek help on their own from the proper medical establishments. It is the responsibility of the traumatized to deal with their excessive bodymind, not the society that produces and then pathologizes it as such."
- 'Margaret Price argues there is a "popular conception that unsound minds have no place in the classroom" and that the academy is driven "to protect academic discourse as a 'rational' realm, a place where emotion does not intrude (except within carefully proscribed boundaries), where 'crazy' students are quickly referred out of the classroom to the school counseling center"'
- 'In the most basic sense, accommodations are not about "safety," but about access to opportunity for a more livable life.' [I'd note that this is a bit dismissive here of the concept of safe spaces, but it's true that safe spaces are a different different concept from TWs/CWs.]
- "...trigger warnings do not provide a way to "opt out" of anything, nor do they offer protection from the realities of the world. Trigger warnings provide a way to "opt in" by lessening the power of the shock and the unexpectedness, and granting the traumatized individual agency to attend to the affect and effects of their trauma. Traumatized individuals know that trigger warnings will not save us. Such warnings simply allow us to do the work we need to do so that we can participate in the conversation or activity. They allow us to enter the conversation, just like automatic doors allow people who use wheelchairs to more easily enter a building."
- "A college classroom, or campus, that adequately accounts for the material realities of diverse bodyminds is almost inconceivable within an institution built on awarding individual merit over acknowledging structural privileges and inequalities." [Emphasis added]
- 'nothing is "wrong" with person who is experiencing a moment of re-traumatization, or any other kind of disability-related affective experience.'
The Uses of Anger: Women Responding to Racism, by Audre Lorde (1981). A classic.
I cannot hide my anger to spare you guilt, nor hurt feelings, nor answering anger; for to do so insults and trivializes all our efforts. Guilt is not a response to anger; it is a response to one’s own actions or lack of action. If it leads to change then it can be useful, since it is then no longer guilt but the beginning of knowledge. Yet all too often, guilt is just another name for impotence, for defensiveness destructive of communication; it becomes a device to protect ignorance and the continuation of things the way they are, the ultimate protection for changelessness.
The ignorance aimed at Caster Semenya flies in the face of the Olympic spirit, by Katrina Karzakis for the Guardian (2016-08-23). I get furious every time I think about it.
Two more posts on enabling narcissists and why we should stop doing that: The Blood-bag: Cutting the IV line (2016-08-23) and
The Blood-bag: Patterns of Blood-bags and Narcissists in Tech
(2016-08-24), by Marlena Compton and Valerie Aurora. "We learn all of our relationship patterns in our families of origin and bring them to work or to our chosen communities every day."
Those Trump Statues Aren’t Funny, And They Sure Aren’t Progressive, by Marissa Jenae Johnson for The Establishment (2016-08-19). Body-shaming isn't the way to fight fascism.
Stop Devaluing Black Women’s Labor, by Kronda Adair (2016-08-18). If you want something, it's worth paying for. Especially emotional labor.
The Comedy World Can’t Handle Rape Allegations, by Emily McComb for The Cut (2016-08-18).
Assimilation, fetishisation and the problem with white queer activism, by Muhammad Taha for Archer (2016-09-02). About the problems that happen when queer movements are dominated by the most privileged (i.e. white peopl).
Why do evangelicals think everyone is addicted to porn?, by Dianna E. Anderson (2015-08). "...the pathologizing of everyday human interaction with their own bodies and their own sexuality is a further example of purity culture and the evangelical fear of our own bodies. "
[CW: police violence, domestic violence] Officers who abuse their partners are a greater threat to public safety, by Jarvis DeBerry for the New Orleans Times-Picayune (2016-09-02). Cops are more likely to abuse their partners than the general population is, and abusive cops also pose more of a danger to their partners than abusers who aren't cops do.
So You Think You Should Respond to That Facebook Post About Race/Gender/Etc, by thespanofmyhips (2016-09-01). On why you might not just want to jump into any conversation even if it's public, especially if it involves experiences you haven't had.
The Woman You Want to Be is Rich, by Chelsea Fagan (2016-09-01). On how the goals that get sold to us are usually only attainable by rich people.
[CW: abuse, trauma] Kaleidoscopes of Chaos – How Traumatic Boundary Violations Destroy The Capacity for Self-Care, by Heidi Hanson (2016-08-12). On how cPTSD can leave you not knowing what self-care is. Hit home for me.
Prefer Narratives with Hope, by sonia (2016-09). 'Whenever you find yourself thinking that you are crazy and wrong and bad, try a new narrative: “My perceptions and responses make sense. I am intrinsically good. I am doing my best with the resources and knowledge I have.”' So good!
The Mountain Goats’ John Darnielle Loves Amy Grant, Rich Mullins, and the Book of Jonah by Kate Shellnutt for Christianity Today (2016-09-01). A great interview with a great artist, talking about the relationship between religious belief and his work.
Participation Awards Don’t Suck. You Suck by Jef Rouner for the Houston Press (2016-08-18). I love this! "There is absolutely nothing wrong with the best player getting a trophy, but there's also nothing wrong with everyone getting a little medal that says, "You were here with us. You didn't quit. You tried, and that matters." The only people who hate participation awards are those who feel like losers because they didn't even participate...
Political correctness isn’t the problem. The assholes who made it necessary are, and they want you to see them as the good guy, just like all bullies."
- University of Chicago dean declares war on student autonomy, by PZ Myers (2016-08-26)
- Straw Freshmen: Why the War on Campus PC Culture is Bullshit, by Vann Newkirk (2015-09-24). Yes, this is from almost a year ago, but the status quo warriors' tactics are so predictable that every word applies to the UChicago situation.
- How Nextdoor reduced racist posts by 75%, by Kashmir Hill for Fusion (2016-08-25). Moderating racism isn't rocket science -- anyone with a site featuring user-generated content can do it if they care.
- Straight White Men, by Chloe Reeson for Scum Mag (2016-08-25): "How can you explain to evidence-obsessed men that the reason you’re afraid of them is simply because you’ve experienced a space without them? It’s a tree falling in the woods type situation. They’ll never know because they’ll never see it. It’s hard to talk about the impact of straight white men because it is so pervasive, so quiet and insidious. The effect is so constant that it’s difficult to break it up into stories or reason. That’s why it so easy for some men to ask us to explain ourselves, to offer evidence that they immediately shoot down as petty or weak or specific. It’s easy for them to shoot holes in our evidence because they are snippets out of an experience whose toxicity is in its wearying constancy."
- Two articles on grad student unionization at private universities (it's about time): Are they students? Or are they employees? NLRB rules that graduate students are employees. by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel for the Washington Post (2016-08-23) and Ruling Pushes Door to Grad-Student Unions ‘Wide Open’ by Peter Schmidt for the Chronicle of Higher Education (2016-08-24).
- 'Crack baby' study ends with unexpected but clear result, by Susan FitzGerald for the Philadelphia Inquirer (2013-07-22). Old, but it's still worth repeating that the "crack baby" moral panic of the '80s was a lie and that it's poverty, not drugs, that hurts kids.
- The Central Park Five Ad Told Us Who Donald Trump Really Is, by Jamil Smith for MTV (2016-08-23).
- Political Strategy and Buzzfeed’s analysis of “the Twitter problem”, by Flavia Dzodan (2016-08-18). Dzodan comes to a similar conclusion to the one I did in "The Democratization of Defamation": harassment continues on social media because it's a feature, not a bug.
- The Right’s Favorite Anti-LGBT Doctor Strikes Again, by Samantha Allen for the Daily Beast (2016-08-23). On the right-wing disinformation campaign targeting trans kids for abuse.
- I Got Hit In The Face With A Fish On The G Train, by Martin Bergman for The Awl (2016-08-24).