Friday, December 15, 2017

Brandi Friday

As just one instance of everything not being hopeless bullshit in the world, Brandi Carlile is coming out with a new album in February.

I watched this video of one of her new songs, "The Mother," and it hit me hard. Carlile and her wife had a baby in 2014. I'll just say that the lines below are relatable:

You were not an accident where no one thought it through
The world has stood against us, made us mean to fight for you
And when we chose your name we knew that you’d fight the power, too

Blub.


What are y'all reading, watching, playing, or listening to?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Boston Globe Details Harassment Complaints at LGBT Health Center

Via The Boston Globe:
"Fenway Community Health Center permitted a doctor accused of sexually harassing and bullying employees to continue working there for four years after the first serious complaint was filed in 2013, according to interviews with current and former employees and documents reviewed by the Globe."
The article goes on to report how the organization hired outside lawyers to investigate the allegations made against the doctor, with the CEO both ignoring the lawyers' recommendation to fire the doctor and failing to report the matter to the board of directors. Fenway, which is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, also is reported to have paid $75,000 to a male employee to settle related sexual harassment and bullying allegations.

The board chair and the CEO of Fenway have since resigned in the wake of these reports. The current senior management is comprised of 5 men and 1 woman.

Meanwhile, the doctor, who had previously resigned, has denied the allegations. Per the Globe:
"He said Fenway has a culture where people sometimes hug or have casual contact, and that his behavior was not outside the norm."
Of the many reports we're seeing of harassment in the workplace, notice that this argument is a consistent theme: this particular workplace just has a cool, sexually libertine milieu that is different than other, more buttoned-up, workplaces.

Yet, if the recent spate of allegations have shown us anything, it's that the workplaces in which powerful men do not regularly hug, kiss, and/or rub their dicks against their subordinates all in the name of "we just have a quirky culture like that" actually seem quite few and far between. That is, powerful men in the workplace seem to experience this norm "confusion" quite frequently about what is and isn't appropriate behavior, as they "struggle" to understand why people report them.

 The life lesson, as always, is to never mistake a sexual revolution for a feminist one.


*I use scare quotes for "confusion" and "struggle" because I think a lot of powerful people know exactly what they're doing and these aren't mix-ups at all. They actually "struggle" is not with understanding that their behavior is wrong, but that people would actually report them for it and that they might therefore experience negative consequences from it. Of course, another possibility is that some of them are complete sociopaths.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Recap: Supergirl 3.7 "Wake Up"

He's baaaaack.

Mon-El, I mean. Well, sort of. Supergirl, Winn, and J'onn find him in a ship that had been buried underground. He had been put in a pod, with a bunch of other beings, and he now has a beard and speaks "Saturnian."


A Mass Effect: Andromeda crossover? (j/k)

Anyway, somehow Mon-El is alive, even though all the lead in the atmosphere is supposed to be toxic to him. Hmmm, that's suspicious. Stay on guard, DEO people! Is it really him?

Meanwhile, J'onn's dad, who now lives at the DEO, is having some trouble adjusting to living on Earth. First, he asks Winn for permission to use the bathroom, because he hasn't gone in like three weeks. It's unclear if Martians only have to go every few weeks, or if J'onn's dad has been holding it this whole time? Either way, that sounds.... painful.


J'onn subsequently decides to spend a little time with his dad. They take a walk outside, drinking "brown water" (coffee) and watching people play a "duel of intellects" (chess), but J'onn is mostly distracted by his smart device. (Related: I like plots in which aliens/outsiders make observations about human phenomena.) Later, J'onn gets an apartment for he and his dad to live in together.

Also, the new character, Sam, finds out she's an alien. Apparently, her adoptive mother found her in a little spaceship, all alone, and then raised her. She also kept the spaceship in the garage, under a sheet, where no one could find it. I guess Sam never played in the garage when she was a kid.

She then takes a trip into the desert to find herself, and this structure appears before. It's her Fortress of Sanctuary:


There, she finds out that it's her destiny to destroy Earth, and she transforms into Reign. Well, okay then. That was unexpected. What about Ruby?? Oh no, is this character going in the direction of "ruthless villainess becomes human again via motherhood"?

Back on the Mon-El front, Kara catches him trying to steal a device from the DEO. So, she puts him in lockup.


The confusion here is that Mon-El has a history of being a liar, but there's a chance this person also isn't really him. In the cell, he doesn't really defend himself, which is annoying. But later, he convinces Winn to free him, so he can go back to the ship. Mon-El says people will get hurt if he doesn't get back to the ship. So, of course Winn lets him out, because Winn is the biggest pushover in the history of the DEO.

Supergirl follows them to the ship, and Mon-El finally explains that although, to Kara, he's been gone for 7 months, for him it's been 7 years. He's been living in the future on Earth. Also, one of the pod people wakes up and, whoooooooops, it's Mon-El's wife, Imra.


I'd like to say that Kara gives Imra a look that says, "Damn, even I'd like to date her," but mostly, Kara looks heartbroken. So, I'm sad for our hero.


Deep Thought of the Week: "Crisis on Earth," and most importantly featuring Agent Canary, is the next episode.


via GIPHY


Note: CW/Supergirl Executive Producer Andrew Kreisberg has been fired after a sexual harassment investigation.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

A Place To Go Towards

An entire city can have any utopia it desires, on one condition. A neglected, malnourished child must sit alone in a dank basement, forever.

That is, of course, the premise of Ursula Le Guin's short story, "The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas."  In it, she writes of the citizens of Omelas:
"They all know [the child] is there, all the people of Omelas. Some of them have come to see it, others are content merely to know it is there. They all know that it has to be there. Some of them understand why, and some do not, but they all understand that their happiness, the beauty of their city, the tenderness of their friendships, the health of their children, the wisdom of their scholars, the skill of their makers, even the abundance of their harvest and the kindly weathers of their skies, depend wholly on this child's abominable misery."
If the child were ever to be comforted in any way, the utopia of Omelas would vanish. When first confronted with this reality, young people of the city feel troubled. Yet, over time, they become inured to, and begin to justify, the child's suffering. The child would never be happy anyway, they think, the child is too stupid.

Besides, the child's trauma enables the artistes of Omelas to make great art. And, they don't want to lose their art. More broadly, to ignore the child's suffering enables everyone else to have their ideal society.

Sometimes, however, people leave. Silently, one by one:
"They leave Omelas, they walk ahead into the darkness, and they do not come back. The place they go towards is a place even less imaginable to most of us than the city of happiness. I cannot describe it at all. It is possible that it does not exist. But they seem to know where they are going, the ones who walk away from Omelas."
Everybody in Omelas knows the horrible truth that one person's pain is powerful enough to prop up an entire society. It's part of the deal. Or, rather, it's part of the deal they have made with each other. The child in the basement had no say.

Le Guin says that those who walk away from Omelas walk "into the darkness." I've thought a lot about that line over the years. Why would they walk "into the darkness" when they're making a decision that ostensibly shows them taking an act of moral courage? Is the darkness the unknown of what a society might look like that didn't ask some people to suffer so that others could be happy? Or, is the darkness the (ostensible) chaos of a wilderness not ordered by human suffering?

I had long thought the story of Omelas to be about bravey. Yet, I see now that I was thinking about Omelas primarily from the perspective of what was lost to those who walked away.

Yet, I now see the story as one of complicity. Why didn't they take the child with them?

And, as Le Guin invites the reader, throughout the story, to imagine what our own utopias might look like, is she inviting us to interrogate the deals we strike in navigating our political lives? Whose lives do we allow to be stifled so that others might prosper?

Monday, December 11, 2017

Columbia Journalism Review on the 2016 Election Media Coverage

It's not just that the political narratives in the 2016 election that were most amplified were those written by prominent media men (including prominent harassers, predators, and rapists), it's that the mainstream media overwhelmingly covered Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, as well as the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta hacks, far more than they covered her (or Trump's) policy positions.

I'm guessing for many readers, that is not a startling revelation. 

However, a recent Columbia Journalism Review article argues that this flawed coverage by the mainstream media, and professional journalists, had far more influence on the election than "fake news." I suspect that's probably correct, mostly given the reach of the mainstream media compared to "fake news," although I do think "fake news" helped tip the scales toward Trump.

Here's a snippet of the article, referring to just The New York Times' coverage from September 1, 2016 up to the election day, November 8, 2016 (emphasis added):
"Of the 150 front-page articles that discussed the campaign in some way, we classified slightly over half (80) as Campaign Miscellaneous. Slightly over a third (54) were Personal/Scandal, with 29 focused on Trump and 25 on Clinton. Finally, just over 10 percent (16) of articles discussed Policy, of which six had no details, four provided details on Trump’s policy only, one on Clinton’s policy only, and five made some comparison between the two candidates’ policies."
1% of front-page articles in The New York Times covered Hillary Clinton's policies.

If you followed Clinton's campaign, read her website, listened to her speeches, and read What Happened, as I did, you would know that she had many policy positions. She had also prepared policy binders, ready to go, so she could get right to work had she won.

It's been a popular talking point for those across the political spectrum to say that Clinton had "no policies," or that all she offered was that she "wasn't Trump." That has always been inaccurate. Hillary Clinton had policies, the media just liked to talk about everything but those policies.


Where is the accountability and what would that even look like here?