Interrupting Gelastic Jew

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Word for 2015: Endure

Because I'm still going through repercussions of injury and treatment, because I've had 3 surgeries in the last 2 years and done uncountable days of recovery and physical therapy, and because I'm not well yet, I've chosen "endure" as my word for 2015.

I'm not ready to do more than endure. I will endure this process of recovery, with bad days and good ones. I will endure continuing symptoms and waiting for healing. I will endure sometimes painful, always tiring physical therapy. I will endure occasional medical appointments and minor changes in the state of my health. I will endure the emotional responses to all of these things.

But planning for a future life that is different from this, I am putting off. Deciding what to do about some long-term issues unrelated to this recovery, I choose to put off.

To endure is all I demand of myself for the coming year.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Where is the new feminism?

Laura at Apt 11D asked Where goes Feminism?
When I started blogging ten years ago, I stepped into a vibrant feminist blogosphere. There were raging battles about reproductive rights and motherhood and employment. I wasn’t a full-time feminist blogger, because I was too undisciplined to commit to one type of blogging, but it was certainly a regular theme at Apt. 11D.

Sadly, all those feminist blogs withered. A handful of bloggers went pro, but most just got tired of the whole thing, like most other bloggers. (One advantage to being an undisciplined blogger is that you don’t really get bored.) Now, we have Jezebel, which is more concerned with Lorde and Avril Lavigne than politics. And then the recession hit and the debates about having a fulfilling career seemed pointless. Having a job — any job — was more critical than self fulfillment.

So, what’s the big issue in feminism today?
She thinks it should be girls. I think she's just looking in the wrong places. I see a vibrant, outspoken, wide-ranging feminism online, it's just not on old-style blogs that respond to each other with cross-links and new posts. As I wrote in a comment to her post:
You’re not looking in the right places.

Feminism is partly being subsumed into intersectionality (rightly, in my opinion). Does a black woman suffer more from racism or sexism? The answer is, why are we even asking this question? We have to address both! Likewise gender expression and sexuality bias. And where I see this is not on traditional blogs that converse by alternating posts and cross-links, it’s on tumblr and Dreamwidth and Twitter, and it’s often in the comment sections of those places. It’s in articles about the lack of representation of racial, sexual, gender minorities in popular culture (like movies and comic books) and about reactionary anger of people-with-privilege when oppressive behaviors are called out and punished (like creepers at atheist conferences and science fiction conventions). It’s in online conversations spread across a multitude of platforms about how the old (mostly white male) guard counter-attacks when their sexist, racist, we-were-here-first-and-we’ve-always-done-it-like-this words and behaviors get them tossed out of their professional organizations (like the Science Fiction Writers of America). It’s a head-on conflict between the way things used to be (and since I had a good time impliedly they should stay that way) and the way the rest of us want things to be in the future (which means you can’t keep doing that just because you used to get away with it). And it’s a vibrant, loud, excoriating verbal battle everywhere I look.

It’s women actors speaking directly to the camera about how few good roles there are for women. It’s male authors dressing up and posing the way women are portrayed in comic books to show how absurd it is. It’s John Scalzi talking about “white male” as playing a game on the easiest setting. It’s women writers across the ‘net opening up about the rape and death threats they get, and sometimes it’s even a major forum (The Comic Book Resources Forum) closing itself and reforming because of the threatening writing posted by some of its participants, or a convention banning somebody because they touched a cosplayer without consent.

Feminism is out there and in here, at least in my life.
And then I tried to post some links, but I think that comment is stuck in moderation. Some of the places I read about feminism, intersectionality, racism, fat activism, and kyriarchy are:

Karnythia: Twitter, Tumblr, and Dreamwidth.

K. Tempest Bradford: Twitter and Tumblr.

Jim Hines, who is one of the people who dressed up and posed as book cover and comic book women to show the absurdity, and also generally posts on inclusivity.

John Scalzi's post on how being a straight white male is like playing a game on the easiest setting.

And then I asked some friends for additional links, which I am adding here with their permission. Some of these are personal blogs that only sometimes discuss feminism, being differently-abled, being fat, racism, sexism, etc. while others have one or more specific focus.

If you think feminism has lost its way, do more research. I hope this can be a resource for you.

Monday, December 30, 2013

How identity and being yourself in public are privileged

Great article on identity and "being yourself" concludes that "structureless" organizations default to the surrounding social structure, and if the social structure is white supremacy and patriarchy the "structureless" organization will copy it.
[I]n an organization without people formally titled “manager”, people will have to step up to manage each other at least sometimes and to some extent. How do you take initiative and assert power — in the absence of a structure that makes that power legitimate — when you’re already culturally oppressed and disempowered? If nobody is a manager, who will be most successful in, say, asking that their team institute a “run regression tests before committing code” policy: a tall, white, able-bodied, cis man; a short, Latina, disabled, cis woman; or a fat, Black, genderqueer person? When is it possible for people to really treat each other as equals, and when do they infer hierarchies when not given a formal hierarchy to look to?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Word for 2014: Heal

I have been through a lot this year, mostly physical health stuff (including two surgeries that involved opening my skull) but also some emotional stress, and so I am choosing heal as my word for 2014.

Surgery is very wearing on the body. I was under general anesthesia two times within four months, each time for more than two hours, followed by 2-night stays in the hospital and weeks at home recovering. I am doing physical therapy, but it will take months to get back the physical strength and stamina that I lost from the surgeries and more importantly the weeks of bed-rest after each surgery. Because my surgeries involved neurological symptoms, the healing of my brain pathways will also take time, as the physical therapy retrains my brain to fit the curing changes the surgeries made in my body.

I've also had some emotional pain and stress, and I need time to think about the sources of those feelings and work through my reactions.

I will focus on healing myself this year.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

More than the minimum

Megan McArdle gets it right when she says:
My point is one that both sides should be able to agree on: whatever we redistribute, the most important task of economic policymaking is to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to get a job which can support them decently--which is to say, at the minimum respectable standard of their society. He or she has to be able to obtain, in exchange for their honest labors, what Adam Smith called "the necessaries":

By necessaries I understand not only the commodities which are indispensably necessary for the support of life, but whatever the custom of the country renders it indecent for creditable people, even of the lowest order, to be without. A linen shirt, for example, is, strictly speaking, not a necessary of life. The Greeks and Romans lived, I suppose, very comfortably though they had no linen. But in the present times, through the greater part of Europe, a creditable day-labourer would be ashamed to appear in public without a linen shirt, the want of which would be supposed to denote that disgraceful degree of poverty which, it is presumed, nobody can well fall into without extreme bad conduct. Custom, in the same manner, has rendered leather shoes a necessary of life in England. The poorest creditable person of either sex would be ashamed to appear in public without them. In Scotland, custom has rendered them a necessary of life to the lowest order of men; but not to the same order of women, who may, without any discredit, walk about barefooted. In France they are necessaries neither to men nor to women, the lowest rank of both sexes appearing there publicly, without any discredit, sometimes in wooden shoes, and sometimes barefooted. Under necessaries, therefore, I comprehend not only those things which nature, but those things which the established rules of decency have rendered necessary to the lowest rank of people. All other things I call luxuries, without meaning by this appellation to throw the smallest degree of reproach upon the temperate use of them. Beer and ale, for example, in Great Britain, and wine, even in the wine countries, I call luxuries. A man of any rank may, without any reproach, abstain totally from tasting such liquors. Nature does not render them necessary for the support of life, and custom nowhere renders it indecent to live without them.

If that isn't possible for everyone, or can be done only with heroic and unceasing effort, then economic policy is not working, even if the gini coefficient and the tax laws are arranged to everyone's perfect satisfaction.

Economics is about more than tax policy, or inflation policy. It's part of how we shape our society and our community.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Quotes on creativity

"No great thing is created suddenly."


"Doing something and getting it wrong is at least 10 times more productive than doing nothing at all."


Friday, May 24, 2013

What if links made you think?

What if IQ tests are really measuring the ability to filter your visual environment?
The ability to visually filter the motion strongly predicted IQ in fact, motion suppression (the ability to focus on the action and ignore background movements) was as predictive of total IQ as individual subsections of the IQ test itself.

What if monogamy is what makes women's sexual desire diminish?
But for many women, the cause of their sexual malaise appears to be monogamy itself. It is women much more than men who have H.S.D.D., who don’t feel heat for their steady partners. Evolutionary psychologists argue that this comes down to innate biology, that men are just made with stronger sex drives — so men will settle for the woman who’s always near. But the evidence for an inborn disparity in sexual motivation is debatable. A meta-analysis done by the psychologists Janet Hyde and Jennifer L. Petersen at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, incorporates more than 800 studies conducted between 1993 and 2007. It suggests that the very statistics evolutionary psychologists use to prove innate difference — like number of sexual partners or rates of masturbation — are heavily influenced by culture. All scientists really know is that the disparity in desire exists, at least after a relationship has lasted a while.

What if you really got to negotiate the contract that is the terms of service (TOS) internet companies are always making you sign?
One thing a "People"s Terms of Service" would challenge is the Objective Theory of Contract, the doctrine that attempts to ignore the context in which contracts are negotiated and agreed upon. "The law currently protects one-sided contract arrangements," the authors write, "by assuming they were fairly negotiated, and thus reflect a 'meeting of the minds' by equal parties." Yet that assumption, in a world of boilerplate jargon and pages-long disquisitions, is no longer a fair one to make. "After all," they argue, "these contracts are usually created through user confusion and one-sided demands. How can citizens even bargain with a standard, take-it-or-leave-it form?"