Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Dreher: "Obsessed With Decadent Crap"

If you've been on Internet for any length of time, you might be familiar with the hyperventilating blogging technique of linking to an article in which someone highlights an issue of importance to some people and then being outraged that some amorphous group of "people" (usually consisting of one's ideological foes) are stupid/elite/out-of-touch for caring about that issue when this other issue is what "people" should actually care about.

We've all seen it, right?  .

Well, that's the gist of a recent Rod Dreher obsesso-hate-fest, where he's super pissed that The Atlantic ran an article about the plight of transmen feeding their infants when flooding has happened in Louisiana.

He writes (content note: anti-trans bigotry)
"I am not interested in understanding the bodies or experiences of women who think they’re men who are bitching because nobody understands what it’s like to want to suckle your child at the breast you had cut off.
What I am interested in is trying to get inside the head of a coastal elite media that is obsessed with decadent crap like this. I think we can safely say that the people in J.D. Vance’s book aren’t readers of The (one of my favorite websites, by the way), nor are most people in my part of the world who are out there mucking houses, feeding flood victims and doing their laundry. I get that. No magazine or web publication can be all things to all people all the time, nor should it try to be. 
But if you read The Atlantic, The New York Times, and other publications edited by coastal elites, you would think that the travails of transgenders was the worst social problem facing America today. The bizarre degree of coverage and interest says little about transgenders and everything about the priorities of the media gatekeepers."
That Rod Dreher isn't "interested" in understanding trans people is abundantly clear by his own rantings about trans people, in which he contextualizes their plight primarily in terms of how they threaten a preferred Christian-supremacist social order. That Dreher both lacks interest in understanding trans people and yet writes/rants about them on the weekly, however, might offer some insight into why others in the media cover the plight of said trans people.

Just a thought!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Cool Revolution, Bros!

I don't want to dwell on Bernie Sanders, but it seems many feminists' spidey-sense was right with respect to him privileging his loyalty to the white male leaders he surrounded himself with over the concerns of the proles who largely supported, worked with, and volunteered for him.

The New York Times reports on recent events with his "Our Revolution" movement:
"A principal concern among backers of Mr. Sanders, whose condemnation of the campaign finance system was a pillar of his presidential bid, is that the group can draw from the pool of “dark money” that Mr. Sanders condemned for lacking transparency. 
The announcement of the group, which was live streamed on Wednesday night, also came as a majority of its staff resigned after the appointment last Monday of Jeff Weaver, Mr. Sanders’s former campaign manager, to lead the organization. 
Several people familiar with the organization said eight core staff members had stepped down. The group’s entire organizing department quit this week, along with people working in digital and data positions.
At the heart of the issue, according to several people who left, was deep distrust of and frustration with Mr. Weaver, whom they accused of wasting money on television advertising during Mr. Sanders’s campaign; mismanaging campaign funds by failing to hire staff members or effectively target voters; and creating a hostile work environment by threatening to criticize staff members if they quit."
Weaver is the man who Debbie Wasserman Schultz called "an ass" in a now-leaked* email, a sentiment which both (a) is one many Sanders supporters seemingly agree with, and (b) apparently shows, at least to some, that the entire Democratic Primary was rigged against Sanders.

NBC has also reported that the board of this group now:
"consist[s] entirely of white men from Vermont (Weaver and two of Sanders' longtime friends and advisers), along with the campaign's lawyer -- a composition the former staffers found to be unrepresentative of the progressive movement."
Aww, was the Pope not available?

*I haven't read the leaked emails and I refuse to do so on principle, under the belief that Julian Assange is "an ass" and Wikileaks is unethical, particularly when the organization only concerns itself with posting leaked documents to harm one political party and not the other.  < /can of worms>

**FWIW, Jill Stein of the Green Party thinks Assange is "a hero." Because of course she does.< /can of worms>

Monday, August 29, 2016

University of Chicago Rejects Trigger Warnings/Safe Spaces

I'll let others comment on other aspects of the letter, but today I want to focus on one aspect of University of Chicago's recent letter to incoming students:
"Our commitment to academic freedom means that we do not support so-called 'trigger warnings,' we do not cancel invited speakers because their topics might prove controversial, and we do not condone the creation of intellectual 'safe spaces' where individuals can retreat from ideas and perspectives at odds with their own."
"So-called." Scare/sneer quotes. Presenting safe spaces as students seeking to be coddled from dissenting views as opposed to reasonable accommodations for people of varying backgrounds and experiences.

I'm not offended. But, I am contemptuous. Incoming students, or their parents, are about to drop $200,000+ on tuition alone (~$280,000 including room, board, and other fees) to earn a degree at this esteemed institution and the grown-ass Dean of Students and other administrators involved in this decision have stooped to lowering the discourse to such simplistic culture war talking points about what is actually a much more nuanced issue than they present.

This topic could have been presented in a way that evidenced that the administration of this institution thoroughly thought through and debated the issue. Instead, framing their statement in the exact way that anti-PC crusaders frame the issue does not lend the impression that such a debate happened or had any measurable impact on decision-makers. Even if a more robust debate did occur behind the scenes, if I were an incoming student any acknowledgement of nuance would not be apparent to me.

Going forward, it remains to be seen how this stalwart institutional champion of free speech reacts to those who use their free speech to share their dissenting opinions of the university's decision here, as well as to those who might want to use their own free speech to critique and protest objectionable speakers and content the University sanctions and allows.

For all the railing against "safe spaces," speech that is defined as free to be said, versus not, often still depends upon who holds power over the platform.  If you don't believe me, tell a bigoted administrator or professor that they're being bigoted and see how well they tolerate that "dissenting view."

Friday, August 26, 2016

Farmer Friday

Rush Limbaugh and the right-wing news sources who fawn over the likes of him have said some silly things about lesbian farmers this week.  Here he is, speaking on his show:
"So here comes the Obama Regime with a bunch of federal money and they’re waving it around, and all you gotta do to get it is be a lesbian and want to be a farmer and they’ll set you up."
*Looks up from flannel shirt I just finished buttoning*

Oh, he he. Really now, I have no idea what he's talking about. Absurdity!

*Kicks straw under my desk*

Ahem. Yes, well.

But seriously, I want in. Hook me up with the Lesbian Farm Money!  I will quit blogging, move to the country, and open up an organic guest ranch/farm in a state favorable to divorce, seeking to help queer women legally end their marriages to men more quickly than they are able to in their states of domicile.  Growing some soybeans and tomatoes to boot would be a nice supplement to the revenue stream. Might as well destroy some Real Marriages while I'm sucking the teat of Big Government!

Sneak Preview Of My New Life:

Thursday, August 25, 2016

App To Warn When You're an Internet Harasser

Here's an interesting concept:
"Rather than spend the summer developing new chips, Alexei Bastidas spent his internship at Intel teaching a computer how to spot harassment on the internet. 
The result is a web app, currently in testing, that tells people just how intimidating they are on Twitter, offering both a numerical rating as well as example tweets that could be seen as harassing."
The solution is interesting to me on two levels.

One, it purports to use a technology solution rather than human labor to address the issue of online harassment.

Two, the thinking seems to be that notifying people that they might be engaging in harassment might then change their behavior.  The assumption seems to be that at least some people engage in harassment without knowing they engage in harassment.



I just reckon that many people who harass others online know they're about to harass someone. That, in fact, is the point.

So, I wonder what the psychological basis behind this solution is. Is the app meant to address the behavior of those who are unaware that they are about to harass someone? I mean, I do suspect there are, also, some people who harass unintentionally or unknowingly. For such people, I think, an app could possibly deter harassment.

For intentional harassers, probably not so much?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dear Diary

So I was scrolling through my archives and check out this HOT TAKE from me circa 2007:
"My voting strategy as of now. And this could change. First, I'm going to throw away my vote for Mike Gravel in the primaries. I refuse, on principle, to vote for any candidate whose support for LGBT rights is not clear, and frankly not correct- even if there's a woman running, and even if there's an African-American running. Because right now, this little-known and underexposed candidate is the ONLY one is in full support of marriage equality, who opposes the Defense of Marriage Act, AND opposes "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." (
And then Hillary will win the primaries. And I'll have to choose between (a) not voting at all (b) voting for "the lesser two-evils," neither of whom fully support gay rights and are more beholden to corporate interests than they are to the common citizen. Ahhh, the 'lessser of two evils,' that bane of the American voter's existence. 
But, since voting is one of the few meaningful ways for a non-millionaire average citizen to participate in our democracy, I'll choose to vote. 
And I'll vote for Hillary. Who will lose to Rudy Giuliani. Because when America's gut-checked, we'll find out we aren't quite ready for a woman president after all. 
I hope I'm wrong."
What the what? Who the fuck even was I back then? Who the hell is Mike Gravel? Why was I too lazy to use basic HTML to embed a URL? Was I a single-issue "gay rights" voter?

And damn, at least dudes regularly get paid for being wrong about politics.

I mean, it's like reading a journal of sorts, except way more embarrassing because other people can read it as well. (I know, oh woe is the blogger life).

Anyway, I guess my larger, more serious point here is that people's political opinions can and often do change over time.  I ended up voting for Obama in both the 2008 primary and general elections, which is a decision I still agree with. But, I supported the Greens in 2000 (yikes) - mostly because I was in college with little work experience, hadn't yet experienced gender discrimination, didn't fully appreciate that perhaps incremental change is the best way to make lasting change, and I felt powerless in the grand scheme of things and thus sympathized with "anti-establishment" sentiment.

The second point is that I'm also quite certain there are plenty of topics within my archives that I think differently about at present.  The challenge is if and how to address that now.  My thoughts are "out there" representing me, but I have changed over time, as many people are wont to do.

Sadly, neither political nor Internet "gotcha"/"callout" cultures allow for such change or concede that change can be genuine.  The demand is that people must have been perfect, however that is defined at the moment (which itself changes over time), from day one.  A person is painted as a flip-flopper at best or unchangeably rotten to the core at worst.

Hillary Clinton, for instance, is now sometimes critiqued for not fully supporting LGBT rights from the start of her political career. Now, however, I believe she is a sincere ally. I trust that now. I didn't in 2007.

I guess when I look for sincere change, I look for the reasons the person gives for changing. Have they listened? Have they learned? Have they apologized if they've done wrong?  And, looking at ourselves as the judge of someone else, what is our investment, if any, in painting another person a certain way?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Weapon of Mass Projection

Donald Trump is, because of his public attacks on others (and possibly for other reasons), abusive. Understand that emotionally-abusive people often engage in psychological projection.

Watch him describe Hillary Clinton:
"'She is a totally unhinged person,' Mr Trump said of his Democratic opponent at a rally on Saturday. 'She's unbalanced. And all you have to do is watch her, see her, read about her.'"
Then, watch what he claims about the election:
"The election, Mr Trump warns, could be nefariously tilted against him. 
'I'm telling you, November 8th, we'd better be careful because that election is going to be rigged,' he said in an interview last week. 'I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it's going to be taken away from us.'"
I know from my own social media feeds that many Trump supporters legitimately believe that the polls are rigged. The media is rigged. The narratives are rigged. The electoral process is rigged. Everything is rigged against Trump.

It's a theme that started with the Bernie Sanders campaign, and now Trump has run away with it. First, the existence of super-delegates meant that the system was "rigged" against Sanders. But then, when he was resoundingly losing the popular vote, the elected delegates, and the majority of states, his campaign pondered trying to switch super-delegates to thwart the will of the voters.

It's not so much that people mind "rigged" systems. It's more that they mind when the systems are not or cannot be rigged in their own favor.

Which brings us back to Trump. If that man is claiming the election is going to be rigged, I think there's a decent chance he's the one trying to rig it.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Hotpants Friday

With literally everybody fangirling over Kate McKinnon lately (which, 100% justified) I feel like we need to remember that Zoie Palmer is also pretty amazing.  And, from what I see of her on Twitter (which as we all know 100% represents how people are offline) she also seems like an adorkably-nice person too.

So, enjoy today's fan vid, featuring Dr. Lauren "HotPants" Lewis.

Dr. Lewis is one of the top reasons to watch Lost Girl, if you haven't watched it already.  (Spoiler alert)  She and Bo are endgame and, as a TV lesbian character, she (*whispers*) actually gets to survive. And end up happy. But, I also appreciated her evolving relationship with both Dyson and Tamsin, two other competitors for Bo's affections. With both, she went from strong dislike to rivalry to kind of a functional chosen family situation. (/Spoiler alert)

Plus, she's smart, funny, nerdy, strong, and attractive. There are so few of us.

(ha ha)

Just watch. Oh, erm, may not be safe for work though.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

NPR Website Drops Comment Sections

Via NPR:
"After much experimentation and discussion, we've concluded that the comment sections on stories are not providing a useful experience for the vast majority of our users. In order to prioritize and strengthen other ways of building community and engagement with our audience, we will discontinue story-page comments on on August 23."
 Although I'm a regular NPR consumer, I don't read or engage in NPR comment sections so I'm not sure what the commenting crowd was like. From the above-linked article, it seems like NPR noticed that only a tiny fraction of readers actually commented and that NPR is interested in using other platforms for community engagement, such as Facebook, Twitter, and other tools.

NPR Ombudsman Elizabeth Jenkins offered a bit more information, in a separate post, adding that the commenting system is relatively expensive for serving such a small percentage of users.  She also adds that the commenters are disproportionately male (~83%) and that comment sections are not "fostering constructive conversations" because of inappropriate behavior, harassment, and complaints about "censorship."


Anyway, NPR's account speaks to a key characteristic of online civility/commenting that I've echoed over the years: it takes actual resources to moderate comments. These resources include financial, human labor, and emotional resources.  People treating each other decently in online forums doesn't just "work itself out" on its own.  You build a forum and the harassers, trolls, and creepers will come.  Some Internet users have an entitlement mentality in which they believe that the intended purpose of a forum is irrelevant and the Internet exists for them to attack, derail, and assert other rituals of dominance just because they can.

As more and more companies do away with comment sections or re-evaluate their online engagement, at this point in the history of Internet it's difficult to think of any legitimate reason for a company to just throw up a comment section on their website without thinking through commenting guidelines and moderation policies/practices (And, to its credit, NPR had a host of rules, moderators, and FAQs, which can't be said for all large forums).

On a final note, it's too bad that a small minority (of predominately men) ruin comment sections for all within different online communities.  Comment sections on media sites can and do serve beneficial purposes, such as expanding upon, questioning, or legitimately critiquing articles, framing, and spin.

I wonder how much those who advocate "free speech/anything goes" forums think about that loss.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Another Day

Another low for Donald Trump.

Here, I'll note that, like most proud, brave critics of "political correctness," we see how frail Trump's own precious sensibilities are when people report on and critique the words he chooses to say.

Instead of standing behind his "un-PC" statements, he constantly calls characterizations of his words and veiled threats "dishonest."  He's the victim, can't you see?  Everyone else is so over-sensitive and mean to him!

He, his apologists, and the "both sides are just as bad"/"he said, she said" bullshitters within the media claim that Trump wasn't  inciting violence against his rival, Hillary Clinton, when he suggested that "the Second Amendment people" could do something about Clinton if she ever found herself in a position in which she was appointing judges.  

What a nice Presidential candidate you have there, liberals, would be a shame if anything happened to her, eh gun lovers?  *nudge nudge wink wink*

Responding to critique, Trump has claimed he was merely suggesting that the Second Amendment people might exercise power through legitimate political processes, rather than through assassination of his rival (whose position on said Amendment he lied about, because another thing about the non-politically-correct is that they often construct "truth" out of whole cloth). 

That claim of innocence, he makes, even as his own supporters at his own convention were so incited by his and his supporters' rhetoric that they chanted their creepy fantasies of locking Clinton up. That, too, as many others share their fantasies on social media of Clinton being executed for "Benghazi," "the emails," and/or just being a woman who doesn't properly know her place in the world.

As I Tweeted last night, things almost seem quaint when we were outraged by Trump "merely" bragging about his dick on national television, don't they?

With Hillary Clinton continuing to dominate the polls, expect the threats, harassment, and violent fantasies to escalate. It is what abusers do when they are losing, especially when that loser is also a misogynist who is losing to a woman.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Strange Thoughts on Stranger Things

Are people watching Stranger Things, on Netflix?

From a nostalgia standpoint, I like the '80s vibe of the show.  However, I have some initial critical thoughts:

  • Oh 1980s male character known as Teenage Jerk Who Coerces Uncertain Female Virgin Into Sex, how I haven't missed you.
  • Oh 1980s nerdy boy character who is already a misogynist, like not even a budding one an all-out misogynist (how quickly they learn!), how I haven't missed you, either. Wise-ass.
  • And '80s bullies were such jerks, weren't they? I'm only on episode 3, so things could get still get gray, but wow. Here's how you know you're a bully in an '80s movie: You're an upper-middle-class teenager who (a) breaks something of monetary value to a sympathetic working class kid (if male), or (b) you're a cheerleader (if female). PS: There are no other gender options. Because you're in a 1980s TV show/movie.
  • At this point, my main concern/hope is if and when El (11) decides to Dark Willow out on any and all bullies (and junior misogynists).
  • Winona Ryder, how I've missed thee!  Playing an 80s mom now, instead of a brooding kid! Now let's count all the people who gaslight her ESP experiences.
  • Barb. Barb is too good and too smart for any other character's shit, basically. Let's see where the show goes with her.
Talk about this or other stuff. Whatevs.  (Please give spoiler warnings though!)

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Quote of the Day

Via Josh Marshall at TPM:
"Trump didn't so much debate in the Republican primaries as use them with some skill to enact a series of dominance rituals at the expense of his opponents. Indeed, this is the key to understanding virtually everything Trump does. Whatever is actually happening he tries to refashion it into a dominance ritual or at least will not engage before performing one. You saw that in those numerous examples where he said he would participate in a debate but only after the other party wrote a major check to charity. It's primal. He needs to dominate before he will engage."
If you thought Bernie Sanders and some of his fans couldn't handle losing to a woman (and they couldn't), the Donald Trump type of man-baby wanna-be-alpha will be worse.

In fact, with Trump having now attacked women, immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, a deceased veteran's family, a deceased veteran, a retired general, a baby, a baby's mother, and a handful of Republican men, it seems the people left supporting Trump will disproportionately be cowardly, angry white people who find such attacks satisfying primarily because they themselves are not (yet) targets. Trump gives voice and validation to their fears and bigotries.

Trump is not a person who apologizes, even as women and others have publicly apologized to him at times. That, too, is an expression of what he thinks of as "dominance," but in really is just called "being a shitbag person."