Interrupting Gelastic Jew

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Charlottesville, VA

I keep scrolling through social media and professional news outlets searching for something. I keep thinking “this has got to be the thing that tips the balance, so everyone will acknowledge the situation.” This time for sure!

And it’s not happening. It’s never going to happen. People, human beings, it is our way to justify. We justify our positions and decisions as if they had logical bases when really they are emotional reactions (fear, anger, resentment, frustration) and then we defend them because we think we are defending ourselves.

They marched and chanted "Jews will not replace us." They carried flags from a war they lost and chanted "You lost, get over it" about the 2016 presidential election. They're walking, talking cognitive dissonance.

I listen to the man saying "our purpose is to stand for our heritage [...] for our people who are being scrubbed off the planet, by marxists and leftists. I mean they're literally pulling up all our culture from the roots, I mean they're not pulling up anybody else's culture, it's specifically Southern culture, white culture, Christian culture, and they're fricking throwing it all in the trash." And I wonder how puny and threatened he feels as he marches in public, in daylight, with police protection instead of police threatening him as they would a Black Lives Matter march. And what Christians around the world who are not from the few states in the southeast of the USA think of his statement.

I listen to another man saying "I'm here because our Republican values are, number one, standing up for local white identity, our identity is under threat. Number two, the free market. Number three, killing Jews." I know some Republicans and I don't believe they agree that killing Jews is in the top three most important Republican values...but I don't see enough Republicans repudiating this statement to be sure. And I'm not sure what the relationship is between marching to protect statues of Confederate generals and killing Jews but I don't think teasing that information out of the discourse will help. And notice it's about the Jews. It's not just blacks and slavery, it's not just Muslims and terrorism, it's the Jews who are called out and mentioned.

There were also people there counter-protesting, showing that there is more to the US than these protectors of their right to kill Jews, fly the losing Confederate flag, and discriminate against others. Until one white man drove a car into the counter-protestors. He murdered one person and injured more than a dozen.

This is not a fringe movement or a few exaggerated reactions. So if you've ever said about the Holocaust how you would have fought it and hidden people or helped them escape, what are you doing now? Because we are long past the beginning. We are in it now. We are in the 1930s when so many people outside Germany justified what was happening and refused to think the worst was possible even when there was evidence. We are beyond the canary in the coal mine stage.

This is war. Which side are you on?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Word for 2017

My word for 2017 is BOUND.

I will bound through the world like a leaping tiger.

I will bound the edges of my energy and my tolerance to protect and care for myself, to ameliorate and mitigate stress.

I will bound my expectations so they're realistic and more likely to be met.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Word for 2016

For 2016 my word is: wait.

I can wait for things to get better.

I can wait for my health to improve.

I can wait to achieve my goals.

I can wait to fix things that are outside my power right now.

I can wait because I am still alive.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Video games are about agency, not power.

An article at The Guardian used one of my button words: agency.
But in video games, I wonder sometimes if something much more subtle and instinctive is going on. Perhaps games aren’t really about power, they’re actually more about agency – the idea that we can have any sort of influence and control over what happens to us, and the world around us.
This makes sense to me-but that doesn't make it true, just gratifying.
For most of us, control is limited and ephemeral. We have jobs to do, people to care for, rules to follow – and we live in societies that place vast infrastructural limits on what we can do or affect. There are complex cognitive behaviours, from superstitions to compulsive gambling to obsessive compulsive disorders, through which the desire for, or belief in, agency express themselves. Throughout the 70s, UCLA researcher Ellen Langer developed the concept of “The Illusion of Control” studying how people often rely heavily on this unrealistic perceptions of their own autonomy. “The argument I’ve been making for the last 40 years,” she said during a talk in 2013, “is that actually, most of us are mindless virtually all of the time.”
And I think this is actually what video games are about. At a very basic, fundamental level, they are simply about providing a sense of control, rather than necessarily about making us feel like superheroes. Video games merely have to confirm us as sentient agents in order to function.
Do so many people really feel powerless and that they lack the ability to make choices and changes in their own lives? Agency is really all we have, in my opinion. I like to play video games, but not because I feel helpless to affect my life.

Maybe video games can be practice for exerting your agency.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Self Defense: notes from a seminar

This is a rough transcription of my notes from a July 2007 seminar given by Rory Miller.

Think about the difference between violence and martial arts. Martial arts is a highly structured sport that uses force.

If you don't train to jump out of the OODA loop (that's the loop of observe, orient, decide, and act) with an immediate, impulsive response (such as a punch to the nose of your attacker), you'll get stuck in it.

The most important thing is to work out your moral/ethical standards in advance.

1. What thing(s) would you create orphans to achieve, be willing to do jail time? What are your go buttons? Examples might be:

-No rape in my presence
-I won't be handcuffed by someone I don't know
-No abuse of children in my presence

What are yours?

2. Learn how attacks happen. Learn to see them coming. What is the body language? Facial expression? Tone of voice?

3. Is it possible to diffuse the situation? Can you/are you willing to use humor, to give up your wallet, to be submissive if that will make the attacker go away?

4. Operant conditioning to flinch reflex effectively. (Yeah, 8 years later I don't remember what I was noting with this sentence.)

5. Freeze--how to recognize it and break it

-Endorphine dump happens to help you cope/survive
-Two conscious actions in a row/at the same time will break it--what are yours? Rehearse, train, practice them
>hit back

6. Fight! This is where the fight happens, if it's going to happen at all. Training gets you through a fight, maybe.

7. Aftermath


Deal with these at step 1. Legal consequences are easy to predict. Physical ones will depend on how the encounter went: did the attacker break your arm, leave bruises, knock you out? Emotional ones depend on preparation, but will surprise you the first few times. Will you be angry? Feel shame or guilt? Maybe you'll have grief. Any emotional response could happen.

A fight is over is 5-6 seconds. Serious damage is done inside range, close up; every action you take should improve your position and worsen his. Keep your balance strong.

Vigilance is important all the time; it increases your appreciation of life.

Adrenaline effects (during and after an attack)
-hearing goes
-tunnel vision
-quick exhaustion
-you get weak
-thinking changes
-fine motor skills gone

A complex response to a complex problem: addressing mass shootings in the US.

Ysabetwordsmith dissects social, structural reasons for mass shootings in the United States.

Remember that America has had plentiful guns for a couple of centuries and only recently developed a persistent problem of mass shootings. Also there are other countries with guns that don't have this problem. So if you want to fix it, you have to look at the root causes, which include...


* Poor job prospects. People who can't get a job that pays enough to live on feel frightened and angry. It is difficult or impossible for them to participate in society, so they feel little if any loyalty to it.

* Social fragmentation. When job options, home insecurity, and other forces drive people to move frequently then that shatters social ties. The family has gone from extended to nuclear to now having lots of singles and single parents. When people don't have a social support network, that undermines their ability to handle challenges well. It also means that more kids grow up without learning a good set of coping skills.

* Lack of meaning. People want their lives to matter. They want to make a difference -- usually, want to make the world a better place. Profession, relationships, and home are among the things most people turn to for meaning. Unemployment and menial labor, lack of family ties, and frequent moves undermine that sense of significance. People go looking for ways to fill the gap, and that can leave them vulnerable to cults, violence, and other problems.

and then offers suggestions to address the root causes (because just trying to take away all guns won't work):

* Provide resources for self-regulation. These may include quiet rooms, reference materials, comfort objects, or whatever else helps people feel safe and calm after something upsetting. Quite a lot of violence -- especially in public places -- happens because someone gets wound up and then has no way to wind back down. That means the next thing that can go wrong tends to trigger an outburst, sometimes a violent one. Think of these as social firebreaks: they prevent small problems from becoming large problems.

* Establish a right to work. It's not that there's a shortage of workers or work that needs doing; what we have is a resource distribution problem where a few people are hogging so much wealth that it doesn't leave enough circulating to meet personal or public needs. Restore the high-tax-bracket system that was developed after the Great Depression, and that would fund public works and public-service jobs for everyone willing and able to work.

[links omitted; please read the entire post and follow the links.] I agree with every word of that post.

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.