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http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2012/oct/15/letter-dismal-allies-us-left

I liked Rebecca Solnit's article that spawned the term "mansplain." Here she has written an op-ed titled "A letter to my dismal allies on the US left." In this post she unfortunately uses the same sort of language and phraseology ("Leftists explain things to me") to punch in the other direction and complain about people she calls "radical leftists" whom she claims are full of "bitterness and negativity."

I don't like it at all, largely because of the "us and them" dichotomy she sets up. "Please, radical leftists, spare us the bitterness and negativity; we need hope and incremental victories and you provide neither." So who is "us"? I can only assume she means people who are more mainstream than "radical leftists." So, it's a person who is closer to the majority viewpoint dressing down people who are farther away from it. That reminds me of Christians who complain that they are oppressed because people greet them with something other than Merry Christmas during the holidays.

If she were talking about people who approach the world using a negative mindset and admitted they exist in every pocket of the political spectrum, I wouldn't mind it so much. She doesn't like complainers, fine.

If she were talking about a conversational pattern where person 1 says "Such and such is good" and person 2 says "yabbut such and such is bad," and she didn't irrevocably tie it to a particular corner of the political spectrum, I wouldn't mind, because when that pattern dominates a conversation it can shut things down.

If she were talking only about people's behavior when they are playing a role as activist, she has a point: negativity can be a bad strategy and inviting positive dialogue with people who don't completely share your views is one way of practicing activism.

But she isn't complaining about people in their roles as activists. She's complaining about any situation where she mentions something positive that a politician did and someone replies by saying they did bad stuff. She complains about how people converse at dinner parties, and presumably she doesn't mean political planning meetings. So she comes across as insisting that if you're left of Democrats and interacting with people more moderate than you in any way, you don't ever get to mention anything politically negative to them. That sounds like bright-siding to me. (A word made popular by Barbara Ehrenreich in Bright-Sided: How Positive Thinking Is Undermining America.)

She then proceeds to give seriously embarassing straw man examples: "Can you imagine how far the civil rights movement would have gotten, had it been run entirely by complainers for whom nothing was ever good enough?" Does she have any idea how old that cliche that is? Does she have any idea of the huge variety of viewpoints and actions that made up the civil rights movement in the 60s and 70s? She's white, but she is a writer and the same age as me, she should at least have read one book about it or watched Malcolm X or something.
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Via [personal profile] andrewducker:

How India influenced the English language:
“Shawl enters English in the 18th and 19th Century because it becomes a desirable luxury garment for women in high society – if you had a brother working for the East India Company, you would want him to send you a beautifully embroidered shawl. Patchouli is linked to shawls because the perfume was used to deter moths while shawls were being transported and as a result this heady, heavy perfume became popular in Britain”....But patchouli soon lost its aspirational edge. “As the 19th Century moves on, patchouli becomes associated with racy, decadent French women and prostitutes. So patchouli goes from something royalty might wear into being beyond the pale, and then in the 1960s it becomes associated with the hippie movement.”
http://www.bbc.com/culture/story/20150619-how-india-changed-english

Robot sewing machines could take over the jobs of garment workers.
People who sew garments tend to be mistreated and paid poorly.
When are we going to set up guaranteed incomes so this sort of thing stops being a problem?
Also will the robots be able to customize fit better? Or will they be worse at it?
(Erm, as is probably obvious, the last two items in that list are mine, not The Economist's.)
http://www.economist.com/news/technology-quarterly/21651925-robotic-sewing-machine-could-throw-garment-workers-low-cost-countries-out

~

Via [personal profile] umadoshi:

Woman of color creates app that makes it easier for organizations to donate surplus food to homeless people. So far it is active in San Francisco only.
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/young-woman-develops-phone-app-to-feed-almost-600000-homeless-people-in-san-francisco-10348579.html

The graduating class of the Rhode Island School of Design was fortunate enough to have John Waters speak at its commencement. (I read the highlights but didn't watch the video.)
http://www.fastcodesign.com/3047929/director-john-waters-on-how-to-live-a-creative-disruptive-life

Society's ills illustrated by statistics about why cats are surrendered to shelters. ("the majority of these cats arrived for reasons related to poverty")
http://www.masslive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/05/leslie_harris_1.html
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Because it's Pride Day. But the links are not about Pride Day. (Happy Pride, and congratulations to all the people who wanted to get married but couldn't, who can now.)

Cartoon sums up how emotions are viewed through gender. "Part of the effort of feminism to make the world safer for all genders, including men, is de-gendering normal human experiences, and destigmatizing things associated with femininity."
http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/06/the-media-mens-emotions/

@Niall_JayDub drew this image of Bree Newsome taking down the Confederate flag at the South Caroline state Capitol. You can order a print.
https://www.etsy.com/listing/238538979/still
You can sign this petition asking that her charges be dropped.
http://act.colorofchange.org/sign/DropTheFlagDropTheCharges/

A trans* former employee of Facebook (who helped developed the custom gender feature) is not allowed to use on her Facebook account the name that was on her work badge when she worked there.
https://medium.com/@zip/my-name-is-only-real-enough-to-work-at-facebook-not-to-use-on-the-site-c37daf3f4b03
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
"Non-newsy" because it doesn't contain any information about recent events such as the SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality and the terrorist attack in Charleston.

The lives of people with high IQs: "greater intelligence does not equate to wiser decisions".
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/247201
Read more... )
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A family member was visiting this week and he, the OH, and I were arguing a lot about various books, TV shows, and movies we liked. Even though we're all SFF fans, we couldn't all three find anything that we'd (a) all read/watched and (b) all liked. (We did agree on Star Trek: TNG and the first two Star Wars movies.) So we flipped it around and tried to find something we all agreed that we hated. That was also hard. It led to this game:


You are a person addicted to reading. You are stranded on a desert island.

On this desert island is also a book, or a series, or the entire ouvre of one author.

What book/series/author, if any, would you REFUSE to read, even if it were the only reading material on the island?


Rules:

1. You have to have some familiarity with the work, set of works, or author you nominate. So, for example, no fair saying "Rush Limbaugh" if you've never at least started to read any of his books.

2. It's OK to diss works, but not other commenters.
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If you live in the US, please consider signing this letter of comment to the EEOC:

Letter of comment:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B-VgU73-rCwzc1l0LVIwbThyTlk/view?pli=1

Form to use for signing:
https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1n6g0ojXgjUcJQHFn4QeBaDNhCYwnzxeVwDJu0rUoKks/viewform?c=0&w=1

This is super important for people who are subject to workplace wellness programs.

The programs need to be voluntary, and not to coerce cooperation by requiring people who don't join the program or who don't meet program-determined health metrics to pay more for health insurance.

The way the programs are currently run, they amount to forcing poor people, older people, people of color, and people whose weight is over arbitrary BMI numbers to subsidize the cost of insurance for younger, healthier people. They represent a serious financial hardship.
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I'm trying to find out whether the new movie Spy with Melissa McCarthy has a lot of offensive fat jokes. (I saw The Heat when it came out and thought it didn't. Have a lot, that is. It had a few.) Any opinions? Would prefer no major spoilers in comments, minor spoilers OK.
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Wiscon 39 panel report: Size Acceptance 201

I almost didn't go to this panel, because I was worried that there would be a lot of talk about (from the quote in the panel description) "considering weight loss surgery" and/or "when you think there is such a thing as clothes that fat people shouldn’t wear". Although I can see why people considering weight loss surgery might want to be part of a size acceptance movement, talk about weight loss surgery upsets me; and talk about "clothes that fat people shouldn't wear" does not seem to have anything remotely to do with a size acceptance discussion. (Talking about clothing that you don't personally want to wear is fine.) Fortunately for me, there were no discussions of either of those things at the panel.

[My notes aren't a complete transcription and may represent my own language rather than the actual words of the panelists. I welcome corrections. I did not identify all audience commenters by name. If you said something I paraphrased here and want your name to be used, please comment or send me a private message.]

Description: What would Size Acceptance 201 even look like? Cary Webb writes that the endless focus on SA 101 begins to seem oppressive "when you can’t afford to eat healthy, when you gain/lose weight for any reason, when you have had or are considering weight loss surgery, when you have chronic health conditions or are not able-bodied, when you think there is such a thing as clothes that fat people shouldn’t wear, or when all those people/artistic endeavors who are lauded look nothing like you or represent ideas you think are flawed. It seems like there is in fact a wrong way to have a body." We need a conversation that prioritizes fatties who are POC, LGBTQ, disabled, men, and masculine of center. Bring your demands, desires, and ideas for a better, bigger Size Acceptance movement.
Read more... )
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On the advice of about 90% of the people I know everywhere, I saw Mad Max: Fury Road today. I found it a huge sensory overload, so my initial reaction was something like "It's like trying to read everything on Twitter for 90 minutes." It was a good movie and had lots of feminist messages, like 90% of the people I know everywhere said.

Unless everyone is completely done talking about it already, there might be spoilers in the comments.
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I'm a Schrödinger's person right now because Facebook says I am fake (even though I use the same name everywhere on the net) but it has let me keep my account for 7 days, after which I have to prove who I am to Facebook's satisfaction or be disappeared from Facebook, which means everything I ever posted there becomes invisible to other users, although Facebook gets to keep it.

Based on what I've heard from other people, Facebook is completely arbitrary with regard to what it will accept as proof (one person sent a copy of her driver's license and they rejected it), so even if I do decide to jump through that hoop, which I am disinclined to do, I still have no more chance of surviving on FB than Schrödinger's cat.

I have to decide what to do about this tomorrow. In the meantime, here's some linkspam.

~

I love these watercolor kitties!
http://www.thisiscolossal.com/2015/02/watercolor-and-ink-cats-bleeding-into-the-canvas/

~

OOOH SHINY (many pix of large crystals) http://imgur.com/a/QAS7d
Read more... )
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3 weeks for dreamwidth seems like a good excuse for starting to post again. Apparently I stopped posting in January because these are mostly links from January.

I love reading about shipping.
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20150209-the-network-that-runs-the-world
Read more... )
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Hey, anyone want to help work up any of these ideas as Wiscon panel descriptions? They're listed with the name(s) of the people I talked to about them.

• there are several entirely different WisCons going on simultaneously (jesse the k)
• "The Structural Underpinnings of Social Isolation" (jesse the k)
• "a panel that isn't about picking people up for sex, but meeting folks one has an emotional/intellectual spark with" (possibly for dating in the future. ACE-friendly) (sophy)
• "carbon dating fairy": which books have aged well, how and why? Not so much about which books the various $suck and $fail fairies have visited, but which ones feel modern even after decades (Dune?), which ones are classics for every age (Tolkien?), and which ones remain attached to the era they were written but stand as great examples of that era's writing and concerns (PKDick?) * Is SF more likely to age badly than fantasy? * How much of a role does writing style play in the feeling of aging well or poorly? Some other books/authors: _War for the Oaks_, Piserchia, _God Stalk_, McCaffrey, Le Guin (the OH)
firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awordtothewitch/2015/01/26/witchcraft-and-the-monkeysphere/

Almost all of my spiritual practices that involved other people have taken place in small groups. This article suggests that small groups work better than large ones because of the way human social brains are wired.

Reading it, I suddenly realized part of the reason I'm reluctant to get more involved in my local sangha (http://insightmeditationcenter.org) is because I have no experience of doing spiritual stuff in the context of more than 4–8 people. (I went to a big church with my parents when I was growing up, but that wasn't at all spiritual for me.) I've gone to the sangha to sit but I don't take part in planning or running things. Sitting with others is different from sitting alone, which is also true for me in other spiritual activities—some kind of group energy is generated. But my limited attempts to socialize with people at the sangha haven't brought a strong feeling of connection.

I couldn't necessarily say this is all due to human brain limits on the number of people we can know well, though, because I've always built or joined as a founding member covens and other spiritual groups instead of joining an already established one, and I think that makes a difference to me, along with the number of participants.

Also my tendency to other myself (thinking "I'm too weird for these people," in the absence of any corroborating data) is active at the sangha because I don't know the people from other contexts. There was an LGBQT* retreat last weekend and I wanted to go, but I couldn't drag myself out of bed early enough (why do Buddhists always start things so effing early?).
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Great essay about design of female warrior characters in video games. Because "Not all women have breasts as big as our heads."
https://medium.com/@Ruby_Magatama/on-designing-better-women-in-games-ebe785d8689
~
Via [personal profile] silveradept, managing your life when you have impaired executive function (but also could apply to managing when you have other kinds of disabilities).
1. Probably the most important part in my experience: especially if you’re having bad executive function problems, you get a star for every success. Metaphorically speaking. Put the dishes in the dishwasher? Star (even if you didn’t wipe the counters or empty containers out of the fridge or whatever). Put laundry through? Star (even if you didn’t fold it and put it away and you end up using it out of the pile of clean clothes before it gets there). The biggest problem with executive function malfunctions (and this is science!) is that we get caught in horrible self-reinforcing loops: we expect too much, we don’t achieve all of it, we feel awful for not achieving all of it, we get more depressed/upset/stressed/anxious, our exective function goes down. You want to do the opposite: set small, achievable goals and the celebrate your successes.
http://last-snowfall.tumblr.com/post/103741300275/hi-folks-im-asking-for-some-help
~
"The Debt: When terrible, abusive parents come crawling back, what do their grown children owe them?" (Spoiler: Nothing, but it's hard for some people to make that choice.)
http://www.slate.com/articles/life/family/2013/02/abusive_parents_what_do_grown_children_owe_the_mothers_and_fathers_who_made.html?wpsrc=sh_all_dt_tw_top
~
Cab Calloway's Hepster dictionary ("the first dictionary authored by an African-American" according to Barrelhouse words: a blues dialect dictionary.)
http://www.openculture.com/2015/01/cab-calloways-hepster-dictionary.html
~
Coyotes are the third most common carnivore found in The The Tar Pits Tar Pits (sorry, I mean La Brea) and we can study their evolution relative to that of the gray wolf.
...climate change couldn’t account for the shrinking coyotes. Instead, Ice Age coyotes may have been larger because size was an advantage during a time when there was a broader guild of big predators stalking the land. Once the dire wolves, sabercats, and American lions went extinct, competition for prey ceased to be so intense and coyotes became smaller. Also, many of the large prey animals of the Ice Age – such as horses and camels – went extinct, too, meaning less food on the hoof for coyote packs.
http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2015/01/14/how-extinction-changed-the-coyote/
~
In praise of non-photogenic food
http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/14/my-cooking-is-a-mess-and-tastes-better-for-it

Many interesting excerpts from Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in WWII by Allan Berubé
http://thingswithwings.dreamwidth.org/219082.html
~
Sherlock Holmes (TOS) fans take note.
...literary scholar Clare Clarke has uncovered some long-forgotten texts...as she sets out to examine the detective as criminal, the bad guy as the hero and societies where crimes may well go unsolved – as well as London, the books take in Australia and India. She introduces us to a master of disguise (yes, another one), a dodgy private enquiry agent, all manner of indolent young men about town and a bent copper. There is a moral complexity to a number of these novels, she contends, that has previously been overlooked.

Along the way, Clarke places the burgeoning crime fiction genre in the context of the growth of the police force and the modern bureaucratic state.
http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/books/late-victorian-crime-fiction-in-the-shadows-of-sherlock-by-clare-clarke/2017766.article
~
Interviews with various people in the SF publishing world about SF featuring people with disabilities. Thoughtful but misses some stuff I'm surprised it missed. [And now I wish I had written down what those were, because I had something in mind when I first recorded this in my linkspam collection, but now I can't remember what.]
http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/2014/09/mind-meld-disabilities-in-speculative-fiction/
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Movies


The Dark Knight Rises
2012 movie wrapping up director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. I didn't like it as much as the other two, but I thought they did a pretty good job with Catwoman. Also, I really want Bane's coat. (Costume designer Lindy Hemming "personally designed Bane's coat, which she admitted took two years to complete. The design was difficult as Hemming struggled to find a tailor in Los Angeles who could work with shearling.")

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies
Continues the tradition of telling the history of Middle-Earth by means of focusing on the humans that hang around with hobbits, with special emphasis on battle and escape scenes. This tradition started in Fellowship of the Ring. I saw it with a sweetie, who left to go to the bathroom (which was located on the other side of the theater) when the troll fighting scene in Moria started. When she came back, the scene was still going on. Well, in this movie, I could have spent half of my time in the bathroom and still not missed anything but battle scenes. Then again, since the title is Battle of Five Armies, I suppose I knew what I was in for going in. I watch these because I'm a Tolkien fan and Jackson's designers have done a fabulous job designing a Middle Earth that mostly tracks with the one that's been in my head ever since I first read The Hobbit at age 9. I don't think the plots track so well but I don't particularly care about that.

Planet B-Boy
2007 documentary about the 2005 Battle of the Year award for crew b-boying (aka break-dancing). The competition has taken place in Germany annually since 1990. I would have liked it better if I had understood more of the moves.


Episodics


Agent Carter
Marvel series about a woman agent in the 1940s just post-WWII. She was romantically involved with Captain America and played an important part in the war. Now that the war is over, she's working in a covert agency called Strategic Scientific Reserve but the men treat her like an office girl. So she starts taking secret missions on the side. First two episodes were very good and the third episode was pretty good.

Doctor Who
I heard that Netflix probably wasn't going to remove Doctor Who permanently after all but the threatened removal is a game of chicken with the BBC. Nevertheless I'm determined to catch up on Doctor Who before February 15. I'm currently in the middle of seaon 7 (11th Doctor with companion Clara Oswald. I REALLY LOVED the episode "The Snowmen."

Fiction


Jasper Fforde, The Well of Lost Plots (Thursday Next #3)
Competently narrated by Emily Grey. Fforde is a science fiction / fantasy writer comparable to Pratchett and Douglas Adams in his extremely high "clever idea to text ratio," absurdist humor, and complex world building. I'm liking this one better than the others. There is an extremely high clever idea to text ratio, and it makes me laugh fairly often. I recommend the first two books in this series, but I particularly liked this one, in which the protagonist leaves the "real world" and enters the "BookWorld," in which stands the Great Library (containing all books ever written, and all books ever attempted but not finished — the well of lost plots), and in which the organization Text Grand Central manages software that allows books to be written and read. Anyone who has worked in publishing or writing is highly likely to enjoy it.

firecat: red panda looking happy (Default)
https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2015/01/facing-challenge-online-harassment

I'm glad they said something.

It's true that rules and regulations aimed at harrassers are likely to end up being used against the same groups of people who are most often the targets of harrassment (women, people of color, queer people, etc.). For example, Facebook's real name policy has been used to harrass drag queens and trans people.

The suggestions they describe for addressing harrassment are important but they aren't sufficient. Stronger blocking tools that are easier for individual users to employ? That matters, but it's not going to help with doxxing. More control over the online availability of personal information? That matters, but it's a really inadequate tool against harrassment per se. It puts a huge burden on the victim and limits their participation in the public sphere. Counter-speech? That is absolutely necessary, but it's not a solution that allows victims to stay online, especially when the victims are individuals who would rather not spend every moment of every day being reminded of their harrassment.

I have a problem with the phrase "The kind of harassment we are worried about happens when Internet users attract the attention of the wrong group or individual," because it's subtly victim-blaming.

Also the post relegates the demographics of harrassment (e.g. that women are harrassed at a far higher rate than men) to a footnote.
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https://www.zooniverse.org/ is a collection of science projects that lay people can help with. Most of them involve looking at images and marking things on the images. Apparently it's easier for humans to do some tasks of this sort than computers.

One of my favorites is called Radio Galaxy Zoo. You're shown an image that is an overlay of radio signals on an infrared photo of a distant part of the universe. You click the picture to indicate associations between the radio signals and the infrared signals. I find it easy and calming.

http://radio.galaxyzoo.org/

Another easy and calming one involves keeping tabs on penguin populations. Basically you see a photo that may or may not have penguins in it, and if there are penguins, you click them.

http://www.penguinwatch.org/

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firecat (attention machine in need of calibration)

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