culture

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Blood and cum.

All this is the fruit of sexual repression, of the belief that non-normative sexuality belongs behind closed doors or even lock and key. Any sex worker could have told you the same. Many did. Tumblr’s porn ban, Facebook’s rules about soliciting or offering sex, it all contributes to a world where sexual knowledge and experience exist in a kind of lawless hinterland. And for what? So kids don’t see pictures of the brothers from Supernatural kissing? Children walk in on their parents during sex, endure the constant bombardment of pop culture’s sexual elements, and get their hands on sexual art regardless. The decision culture has isn’t whether or not they learn about sex, but how safe and loved they are while doing so.

Gretchen Felker-Martin on the queer grotesque.

2019-07-17T10:11:59+10:0021st November, 2019|Tags: culture, fandom, pop culture|

All boats more than others.

It does not follow from the fact that “we continue to live in a deeply racist, sexist, and homophobic society” that prior social movements have accomplished nothing. If environmentalists believed humanity “inexorably” destroyed nature, we wouldn’t be pushing for a Green New Deal. Most of this is just vicious, inaccurate cartoonish misrepresentation. I doubt you could find anyone to affirm that racism is the cause of “all problems.” Do those who say capitalist countries are ungenerous think feudal societies were more generous? Of course we don’t. Do we express nostalgia for the era of child labor and workhouses? No. Do mainstream environmentalists demand a “renunciation of technology”? Even radical anti-civilization anarcho-primitivist John Zerzan is on radio and podcasts. What Pinker calls the “demonization” of fossil fuel companies is the recognition that they engaged in practices they knew to be destructive, misleading the public to maintain profits the same way tobacco companies did. It’s important to treat this as what it is: fraud and theft, because those who are responsible for knowingly causing damage ought to pay for it. “Make polluters pay” is not immoral “punitive aggression” but an application of basic tort law principles.

Nathan J. Robinson on relativity.

As someone who was a fan of Better Angels on reading it—despite niggling doubts about certain chapters that, in retrospect, should’ve been glaring alarm bells—I’m always here for a takedown of Steven Pinker.

Also, the cartoon in this article is pretty gold.

2019-07-11T08:57:16+10:0017th November, 2019|Tags: culture, economics|

Lies the rich tell us.

Let’s flesh this out with some real-world figures. In 1990, it would have cost 10.5% of world GDP to lift everyone above the poverty line. In 2013, it would have cost only 3.3%. Our capacity to end poverty has improved by a factor of 3.18. Meanwhile, the poverty rate has improved only by a factor of 1.23. This means that the moral egregiousness of poverty is 2.58 times worse than it was in 1990.

[Philosopher Thomas] Pogge is right: by [his] metric, poverty is worse now than ever before. Our world is replete with unprecedented riches, and yet we cannot ensure that everyone has a decent basic share of it. Morally, we have regressed as a civilization.

Jason Hickel on uneven distribution.

2019-07-10T10:59:43+10:0015th November, 2019|Tags: culture, economics|

Full offence.

To misinterpret the fight towards equality as one of “taking offense” signals a profound misunderstanding of the fight and its goals. […] To be offended is to be on the offense: taking action, voicing dissatisfaction, instead of letting the status quo roll over you.

People who register offense gain power not because they’re whiny bitches, but because others recognize the legitimacy of their complaints: It IS fucked up to wear another person’s culture as a frat party costume, just like it IS fucked up to refuse to learn to use they/them pronouns because it entails personal struggle. Every time I flub up a pronoun, I ask myself: what’s harder, really trying to be better at this, or living your life as a non-binary or trans person in a world that inflicts psychological and physical violence on gender non-conforming people at nearly every point in their lives? But that difficulty is illegible, or inconsequential, to [New York Times journalist Bret] Stephens: nothing compared to his own inconvenience at being asked to reconsider the way things are.

Anne Helen on struggle.

Context is in response to one of those hand-wringy “political correctness gone mad!!!” style articles.

2019-07-10T09:30:51+10:0012th November, 2019|Tags: culture|

Getting away with it.

But Trumpism took the racial resentment that was always the only successful recruiting strategy of the College Republicans and fused it with the only lesson he ever internalized in his elite education: complete irresponsibility is gloriously liberating. What unites Trump’s older base and his small core of young white devotees is the delight they take in watching him get away with it.

Trumpism’s pitch to young white men is thus a stirringly amoral sort of syllogism: we can’t give you anything material, because we stole it all and are hoarding it, but we can create a world in which you can regularly act on your worst impulses and get away with it. Some city kids are coming to town; here’s a way to racially mock them that won’t get us in trouble.

[…]

Legitimizing complete irresponsibility is also exactly why the mainstream, respectable GOP eventually embraced Trumpism. It’s a force that protects the monstrously unfair world they’ve built. They want to ensure that righteous mobs don’t dismantle the institutions that crank out Jared Kushners and Brett Kavanaughs, so they go along with the big lie, aimed at their lessers, that the people who want to destroy those elite institutions are also determined to punish “your son.” A movement that is designed to preserve the privilege of teens like Brett Kavanaugh to behave poorly and still run the country is telling less-privileged white teens that it’s actually fighting for their much more meager privilege to be racist and piggish and not face consequences.

Alex Pareene on the talking truth to teens.

Long, but pretty much the whole of this article is quotable, so… go read the whole thing.

2019-07-08T12:28:14+10:006th November, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|

Market of the free.

For many people today, it’s hard to imagine government doing much of anything right, let alone breaking up a company like Facebook. This isn’t by coincidence.

Starting in the 1970s, a small but dedicated group of economists, lawyers and policymakers sowed the seeds of our cynicism. Over the next 40 years, they financed a network of think tanks, journals, social clubs, academic centers and media outlets to teach an emerging generation that private interests should take precedence over public ones. Their gospel was simple: “Free” markets are dynamic and productive, while government is bureaucratic and ineffective. By the mid-1980s, they had largely managed to relegate energetic antitrust enforcement to the history books.

This shift, combined with business-friendly tax and regulatory policy, ushered in a period of mergers and acquisitions that created megacorporations. In the past 20 years, more than 75 percent of American industries, from airlines to pharmaceuticals, have experienced increased concentration, and the average size of public companies has tripled. The results are a decline in entrepreneurship, stalled productivity growth, and higher prices and fewer choices for consumers.

Chris Hughes on megacorporations.

2019-07-08T11:56:38+10:004th November, 2019|Tags: culture, economics, politics|

Just say no (to hugs)!

As someone who loathes hugs from anyone but the most intimate of friends/family members, I can totally get behind this call to just fucking cut them the fuck out.

Incidentally, while this is obviously super culturally subjective,1 according to my parents “promiscuous hugging” was definitely not a thing here a generation ago. So wherever it came from, it totally needs to go back.

  1. Also, yes! I am ethnically from a High Hugging Culture! []
2019-07-31T09:40:07+10:0030th October, 2019|Tags: culture|

Reality (re)Bytes.

The neoliberal economic conditions that gave rise to the influencer—and all those side hustles and personal brands—simultaneously have made it harder to attain a normal middle class existence. Even if your goals are of the modest, slacker variety—an hourly wage job, a roof over your head, junk food to eat, and TV to watch—that’s all a hell of a lot harder to come by these days.

[…]

But perhaps that realization will lead some to divest from the belief that hard work and self-optimization will lead us to some capitalist promised land. The neoliberal ideal has reached its peak and, well, it’s not as though we’ve solved income inequality with all our hard work. Quite the opposite. As [Will] Storr writes of our culture’s failed promise: “It wants us to buy the fiction that the self is open, free, nothing but pure, bright possibility … This seduces us into accepting the cultural lie that says we can do anything we set our minds to … This false idea is of immense value to our neoliberal economy.”

Rosie Spinks on the return of the slacker.

2019-07-01T09:19:42+10:0027th October, 2019|Tags: culture, economics|