rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (Default)
( Sep. 30th, 2013 09:14 pm)
"Fifty-five percent in the CBS/New York Times poll said the debt ceiling should only be raised if spending cuts are also enacted. Another 24 percent didn't want it raised at all. That means 79 percent of Americans disagree with the president who wants the debt ceiling raised without conditions."  Um, no.  It means that at least 24% were drunk at the time of the survey, as Caitlin Moran says.  On which already incurred obligations do these 24% of respondents propose to default?  And I'm not so sure about that 55% either: do they want Social Security cut?  I presume they believe that 10% of our budget goes to foreign aid, or maybe the CDC.  That result means, don't ask survey questions that your audience doesn't understand.

Of course, with this as the "narrative," G-d only knows where we'll end up.

rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (Default)
( Sep. 24th, 2013 08:41 pm)
The AO3 needs volunteers to help support other users!

A really powerful article about the use of labor practices to destroy public education and also to prevent the ability to organize among young teachers expected to work eighteen-hour days for low pay.  What was particularly striking to me was the anecdote on upper management “walkthroughs” looking not at what was actually happening in the classroom (who cares?) but at whether the teachers had the right “look”—the right posters on the walls, the right ties. It was as if the charter school had the same principles as an Abercrombie & Fitch. This philosophy really does want to reduce workers to mindless automatons, further "justifying" their terrible working conditions.

Bruce Schneier: NSA Spying Is Making Us Less Safe:
So you’ve recently suggested five tips for how people can make it much harder, if not impossible, to get snooped. These include using various encryption technologies and location-obscuring methods. Is that the solution?

My five tips suck. They are not things the average person can use. One of them is to use PGP [a data-encryption program]. But my mother can’t use PGP. Maybe some people who read your publication will use my tips, but most people won’t.

Basically, the average user is screwed. You can’t say “Don’t use Google”—that’s a useless piece of advice. Or “Don’t use Facebook,” because then you don’t talk to your friends, you don’t get invited to parties, you don’t get laid. It’s like libertarians saying “Don’t use credit cards”; it just doesn’t work in the real world.

The Internet has become essential to our lives, and it has been subverted into a gigantic surveillance platform. The solutions have to be political. The best advice for the average person is to agitate for political change.

rivkat: Dean reading (dean reading)
( Aug. 28th, 2013 09:07 pm)
OK, so I think posting a SV story fit with the "retro journaling" idea, but with the start of school I'm clearly not going to be posting every day. Still, here's some stuff I've seen around:

Via [personal profile] giandujakiss, this is a great interview with the editor of Flowers in the Attic. I am also a big My Sweet Audrina fan, if that is the right word.

Kate Losse, The Unbearable Whiteness of Breaking Things:
I write this not just to make the point that “don’t ask for permission” is a starkly, unconsciously raced and classed (and also gendered, in the way that Lean In asks women not to break rules but to lean into them, or the way in which Stanford summer camp doesn’t seem to notice that “don’t ask for permission” is a dangerously rapey lesson to teach young men) motto for Silicon Valley, though there is that.

It’s also to note that a young man and his friends are being schooled in this privilege from boyhood by institutions that have all of the intellectual and financial resources available to widen the scope of instruction and teach them more than just how to successfully trespass the few boundaries they encounter. By teaching primarily young white men to unreflectively “break things” and reward them when they do, Stanford and other Silicon Valley institutions like YCombinator are incubators not for any kind of social change or “disruption” but for the assignment of privilege to the people who are most likely to already have it.

Joseph William Singer, Titles of Nobility: Poverty, Immigration & Property in a Free & Democratic Society:
what has government done for me? what has it done to me? )

and a book on how we think )
rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (Default)
( Jun. 24th, 2013 06:14 pm)
I'm a fan of "lean in" etc., but sometimes dudes should probably go the other direction. This post brought to you by a perfectly pleasantly phrased request from a guy I don't know to give him free legal advice. And I'm conditioned enough that I feel bad about telling him I won't, because he was nice. My head knows that being nice doesn't entitle him to anything but a nice no, but my gut does not.

Interesting essay by Amanda Hess:  “I was cut off from those male networks of sexual imagery; my female friends and I spent our free time having destructive conversations with each other about our own bodies, and what they meant for our potential as sex objects. … [W]hen it comes to penis appreciation, I feel like I was never really given a fair shake. I grew up in a world where I was repeatedly told that those types of images were not for me, and where male nudity was framed in the context of male assault as much as it was female desire.” Note that the general question for discussion, whether women are turned on by pictures of naked men, could of course be answered, “some are,” and it’s not clear that the overall discussion has any more insight to add than that. Here’s an example of someone who has found porn that she likes on Tumblr, but thinks that therefore it’s the only porn that “works” for women.

Fertility doesn’t drop sharply after age 30 or 35:
Surprisingly few well-designed studies of female age and natural fertility include women born in the 20th century—but those that do tend to paint a more optimistic picture. One study, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2004 and headed by David Dunson (now of Duke University), examined the chances of pregnancy among 770 European women. It found that with sex at least twice a week, 82 percent of 35-to-39-year-old women conceive within a year, compared with 86 percent of 27-to-34-year-olds. (The fertility of women in their late 20s and early 30s was almost identical—news in and of itself.) Another study, released this March in Fertility and Sterility and led by Kenneth Rothman of Boston University, followed 2,820 Danish women as they tried to get pregnant. Among women having sex during their fertile times, 78 percent of 35-to-40-year-olds got pregnant within a year, compared with 84 percent of 20-to-34-year-olds. A study headed by Anne Steiner, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, the results of which were presented in June, found that among 38- and 39-year-olds who had been pregnant before, 80 percent of white women of normal weight got pregnant naturally within six months (although that percentage was lower among other races and among the overweight). “In our data, we’re not seeing huge drops until age 40,” she told me.
. . . In short, the “baby panic”—which has by no means abated since it hit me personally—is based largely on questionable data. We’ve rearranged our lives, worried endlessly, and forgone countless career opportunities based on a few statistics about women who resided in thatched-roof huts and never saw a lightbulb.
(However, the article makes clear that the dropoff is likely to be greater when IVF is involved, perhaps mostly because of the selection pressures that lead some women to use IVF.)

rivkat: Dana Scully, FBI (scully fbi)
( Jun. 8th, 2013 10:35 am)
I am very much enjoying The Fall (I’ve seen only to episode 4). I thought I was done with serial killers, but as it turns out Gillian Anderson, even blonde, can bring me back in, Dana Scully 4ever )

Maddy Myers has a good piece about supporting Anita Sarkeesian and her series, Tropes v. Women, without being in full agreement with her on particular choices.  It reminded me of other conversations about loving problematic things; we forgive ourselves that very easily.
Preliminary notes: (1) Survivorship bias, or why taking lessons only from the successful is a really bad idea, in an elegantly written narrative.

(2) Ugh, I hate grading.

(3) Note to self: Veronica Mars, for all its awesomeness and willingness to engage with class and gender politics, often enough cozied up to the creepy side thereof. S1 rewatch in anticipation of movie )

I did not notice at the time, but this is a depressing set of books.

a book on gun guys )

Confessions of a sociopath, bad evidence in criminal cases, America's secret wars, why your food is full of salt sugar and fat )
rivkat: Dean reading (dean reading)
( May. 21st, 2013 10:21 pm)
This discussion of Star Trek: Into Darkness has an intriguing treatment of prequels v. reboots along with a bunch of great lines, many spoilery, along with a reaction from Henry Jenkins that is interesting in its own right. My only hitch—and I have done this too many times myself, so it’s mostly a note for myself—was tripping over “‘the Captain’s Chair’ has been occupied by an American (Kirk); a European (Picard); an African-American (Sisko);”—because doesn’t it have to be “a white American (Kirk),” at a minimum?

Women by the Wayside:
on the invisibility of women on the road (and the violence against them).

This person has gone so far past pedantry that s/he’s come out the other side into awesomeness: Why two spaces after a period isn’t wrong (or, the lies typographers tell about history).
Mary Roach, immigrants as superheroes, David Sedaris, Washington crosses the Delaware, NYC trash collectors, the errors of seeking security, McKinley's death )
Quick question before school eats me again: my computer died and I'm trying to get good XF casefile recs ... anyone have a good list?

Free pilots on Amazon—all kids’ shows and (apparently vulgar) comedies now, but one of the comedies involves the zombie apocalypse and another is divas against the supernatural, if this is of interest.

Testing is the accounting of the reform movement, and the executives are cooking the books. They’re manipulating the statements so it looks like the venture is turning a profit. Well, actually, it’s got negative cash flow. The gains are phantoms. The enterprise is insolvent. Even by its own standards, reform fails.
The central proposition of so-called education reform is that it endeavors to make schooling more entrepreneurial. Now this is bogus on its face. The most salient fact about entrepreneurialism is that most ventures fail. Is that the proper model for the delivery of a universal service? …
Like most pro-market types, these people are ignorant of the actual workings of capitalism. They see Apple’s glittering headquarters, Google’s quarterly revenue numbers, and they think, Damn! I wish schools could be more like that! Strewn across the historic landscape behind all this success are hundreds of thousands of failed attempts, many of which don’t make it out of their first year. And you want school to look like this? Well, uh, no; we only want school to imitate successful ventures! Well, I want better arms and a bigger dick, but editing every other eighth of an inch out of the measuring tape will not make it so.

rivkat: Dean reading (dean reading)
( Mar. 28th, 2013 06:40 pm)
I am so far behind fannishly I now have no hope until the end of the semester. Also, I got a student telling me he expected to hate my class but didn't, which is sort of the equivalent of the feedback that says "I usually hate your kink, but I liked this story!" Thanks, I guess?

PSA: Benedict Cumberbatch and James MacAvoy perform Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere, the whole thing streaming on the BBC for a short time.

What is it like to be a vampire and/or parent? For what it’s worth, I’m with the writer of this post: I do not feel that I’ve changed into the undead, no matter how tired I am. Reference.

Too good not to quote: a condensed version of oral argument in the Prop. 8 case:
BREYER: I’m going to ask you an extremely long question riddled with nonspecific nouns, and you’re going to have to guess what I mean by it.
COOPER: I’m pretty sure the answer is no? But let’s stop talking about whether I should be allowed to talk, and get on to what I’m going to be talking about. Which is: nostalgia. Nostalgia for the good old days of traditional, bedrock values. Man, back in 1971, this Court said there was no federal question as to same-sex marriage. Those were the fucking days.
I’ve rarely seen Breyer better described.

Kate Hines, I love you, but WT actual F?

quiet is outlawed and the corporations control education: YA dystopia )
Erin Hatton, The Rise of the Permanent Temp Economy:
The temp agencies’ Kelly Girl strategy was clever (and successful) because it exploited the era’s cultural ambivalence about white, middle-class women working outside the home. Instead of seeking to replace “breadwinning” union jobs with low-wage temp work, temp agencies went the culturally safer route: selling temp work for housewives who were (allegedly) only working for pin money.…
Protected by the era’s gender biases, early temp leaders thus established a new sector of low-wage, unreliable work right under the noses of powerful labor unions. While greater numbers of employers in the postwar era offered family-supporting wages and health insurance, the rapidly expanding temp agencies established a different precedent by explicitly refusing to do so. That precedent held for more than half a century: even today “temp” jobs are beyond the reach of many workplace protections, not only health benefits but also unemployment insurance, anti-discrimination laws and union-organizing rights.
long review of super interesting book about gambling machines )
rivkat: Dean reading (dean reading)
( Jan. 15th, 2013 11:33 pm)
Short SPN thought for this season )

Programmer outsources own job to China, receives glowing performance reviews

Reading trolly comments can be harmful to your own balance and deliberation. In other news, water is wet. I wonder if concern trolls produce the same results?

I didn’t know Aaron Swartz, but I have a number of friends who did; he did a lot of good for open online culture, and the law prosecutors were hounding him with needs to be changed so that it can’t be used to threaten anyone who does something without permission. If you’re in the US, please consider signing this petition to the White House

Irredeemable, Earth One, revenge stories, Jacqueline Carey, Kristin Cashore )
rivkat: Dean reading (dean reading)
( Jan. 8th, 2013 11:57 am)
Once Upon A Time: spoilers are magic! )

Republican Angry at Trillion-Dollar-Coin Solution: “There turns out to be no serious economic or legal argument against the platinum coins…. The main drawback is that it’s hilarious…. See, here’s the thing. The United States government is not like a small business. Small businesses routinely go out of business. That is something we’d rather avoid as a country.” I will admit, the rule lawyer in me kind of wants to see this happen. The rest of the world already knows we’ve gone off the rails, so why not?

stories about skilled labor, an old Druid, Harry Dresden, attack memes from outer space, psychic soulbonded YA )
Three NYT headlines, one societal clusterf*ck:

West Antarctica Warming Faster Than Thought
: "New research suggests that the huge ice sheet there could collapse, with potentially drastic effects on the sea level."

How G.O.P. Shifted to ‘No New Taxes,’ Ever: "Some Republicans fear that the opposition to tax increases is coming at the expense of fiscal responsibility."

The Ultimate Amenity: Grandparents
: "Some affluent New Yorkers are buying apartments near their own so their parents can be closer to grandchildren."  Something about the juxtaposition just really made me sad at how quickly we are becoming a lifeboat society, and certain people have been pre-allocated the boats.

In slightly different news, Harvard is offering a MOOC copyright course from 1/28/2013 to 4/22/2013: it’s free, though you have to apply.  It should be interesting. Terry Fisher, who will be lecturing, was a speaker at the conference that is in part responsible for the creation of the OTW, because of all the guys on stage talking about how they’d invented this awesome new thing where they edited videogame footage to music. I’m not dinging the creativity of machinima--everyone gets to invent fandom—but it was definitely a moment where it was clear that some public representation from our kinds of fandom was called for, because history was going to be written and policy made with or without us, and with us was better.  I would be very curious about how Fisher teaches “user-generated content” these days.  It would be neat if one of you guys had the time to sign up and report back!
rivkat: Rivka as Wonder Woman (Default)
( Dec. 21st, 2012 08:19 pm)
[personal profile] podcath put my DA story Getting By in her anthology: The Manticore Anthology, yay!

[personal profile] cesperanza: So Hey, We Stopped Saying That! Or how fandom learned to stop worrying and love the label “transformative.” (My version of “hey, stop saying that” is here.)

Thanks to [personal profile] geekturnedvamp, [personal profile] talitha78 and [personal profile] mustangsally78 for the holiday cards. It’s not that surprising to me that the latter two both feature cats, and that the first doesn’t!

Via Jason Mittell, a really smart essay on violence in pop culture:
One argument I’m suddenly hearing a lot of is: Of course violent TV has a violent influence. Isn’t the whole TV advertising model based on the idea that content can influence action? Does that influence stop once the commercials are over?
For starters: yes, actually, it kind of does. In the sense, at least, that advertising is a different kind of rhetoric from fiction. It’s generally a direct argument: buy this product, for this reason, you will get this benefit, you will look and feel a certain way.
Fiction–even really bad fiction–doesn’t work that way. It tells a story, and people make meaning from it. It can have profound effects on people, but not necessarily the same ones on everyone, and its message isn’t linear. Breaking Bad, for instance, is a violent story of bad people, but you would have to have much more contempt for its viewers than I do to assume that its “message” is: life is cheap, power is awesome, so go cook some meth, dominate your wife and hurt whomever you have to, even kids, to get your way.
Which led me to this essay on why all the "good" TV is so violent:
But what is concerning is that this revolution has been deep but narrow; it's like we have an army of dazzlingly fluent poets who all write in one language. That doesn't, of course, make all the poetry the same, any more than all English-language poetry is the same. These shows are varied in many ways: The Wire is not the same show as The Walking Dead just because people get shot and otherwise brutalized, and American Horror Story and Boardwalk Empire are hardly identical twins. But they share elements, one of which is that the stakes involve — not solely but largely — avoiding being violently killed. And for that reason, they ask the viewer to want to watch people being violently killed now and then, and sometimes now and then and then and then, because otherwise the threats are false.
(It's worth mentioning that the violence is not the only thing many of these shows have in common. They're also very heavy, though less uniformly so, on the question of what it means to be a morally conflicted 40-ish white guy in modern America, or '60s America, or Prohibition-era America, or Westeros. This is also the theme of the highly decorated Louie, which is sort of a comedy, but only sort of. As much as it's failed to reach many kinds of stories, the revolution has also failed to reach many kinds of people with any regularity.)

Well, my experiment with iTunes 11 made me go back to iTunes 10.6, a more unpleasant proposition than it should have been—initially it erased 3 months of changes, and I’d added a bunch of music and am also obsessive about my play counts, so that was a couple of hours of fiddling. Ultimately I downloaded a couple of scripts that allow manual resetting of play counts, which wasn’t perfect but was a hell of a lot faster than skipping tracks one by one, which I should have done from the beginning; would have saved me a lot of time.

Unionmade, retailer of fashions that are not union made.
See, it’s an homage to the time when things were well made by people with good jobs! Or a huge slap in the face to real union labor. You choose.

Aaron Bady (wow is this guy sharp; his Batman essay was genius, and now this), Questioning Clay Shirky:
Why have we stopped aspiring to provide the real thing for everyone? That’s the interesting question, I think, but if we begin from the distinction between "elite" and "non-elite" institutions, it becomes easy to take for granted that "non-elite students" receiving cheap education is something other than giving up. It is important to note that when online education boosters talk about "access," they explicitly do not mean access to "education of the best sort"; they mean that because an institution like Udacity provides teaching for free, you can’t complain about its mediocrity. It’s not an elite institution, and it’s not for elite students. It just needs to be cheap.

Talking in terms of "access" (instead of access to what?) allows people like Shirky to overlook the elephant in the room, which is the way this country used to provide inexpensive and high-quality education to all sorts of people who couldn’t afford to go to Yale -- people like me and my parents.
Randall Munroe: “It makes me happy that an arm of the US government has, in some official capacity, issued an opinion on the subject of firing nuclear missiles into hurricanes.”

Predator Nation; Black women, civil rights, and the struggle against sexual violence )

Well, after reading the sad story of a reader who lost access to her B&N ebooks after her credit card expired, even though she’d already paid for the books, I went ahead and fixed Calibre so that I don’t have to worry about that little twist for Nook books again. I haven’t gone so far as to back up my entire Kindle library, though perhaps I should.

Great essay on whiteness in the age of Obama: “Knowing your genealogy is itself a token of wealth and privilege. After all, we all come from old families, no new strains of humanity having colonized the planet recently. The trick has always been to be born into one of the few intact legacies, with the family bible and heirlooms that tend to come with a long history of property ownership and education. It's memory, not time, that makes an ‘old’ family.” Purdy’s family history includes “black-and-white photos of a Gettysburg veteran, painfully posed before long-exposure cameras, his uniform cap bearing the letters ‘F.U.’ (I suppose it stands for ‘Federal Union.’ It has always taken me aback.)”

SG-1 fans may be interested to hear that Christopher Judge is starring in a movie that is in a bit of a legal pickle, Age of the Hobbits, which Warner Bros. is suing for being too similar in name to The Hobbit.
Yergin's The Quest and Silver's The Signal and the Noise )
Now just to get enough writing done.

Links: Marco Rubio says the age of the earth is “one of the great mysteries.” No. No, it’s not!

Men’s emotions as the standard for rationality.

Hilarious! For certain values of hilarious, anyway. How to make pseudoephedrine from meth.  The factchecking comments at BoingBoing also warm my heart (what’s the chemical reaction there?).

Cory Doctorow wrote a book about video remixers. Apparently they’re all dudes, though? And I have to admit I’m sympathetic to this review, which argues that he severely overstacks the deck against Big Content and that there is a difference between remix (especially remix that starts with paid-for DVDs/downloads, yay DMCA exemptions!) and wholesale downloading for consumption’s sake.
13 bankers, best practices for nonprofits )

Gone With the Wind Sequels, including fan fiction )



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