Original sin.

I wonder, though, about the idea that “pretending like online life wasn’t real life” is somehow that original sin of Internet culture. At the very least it seems to me that the claim can be variously understood. The sort of pretending the author had in mind probably involves the mistaken belief that online words and deeds do not have offline consequences. We could, however, also take the claim to mean something like this: the original sin of internet culture was the mistaken belief that our online experience could somehow transcend our offline faults, flaws, and frailties. Or, to put it otherwise, the original sin of Internet culture was its peculiar brand of gnostic utopianism: the belief that digital media could usher us into a period of quasi-mystic and disembodied harmony and unity.

Michael Sacasas on the sins of the past.

2018-11-29T08:19:57+10:0019th April, 2019|Tags: culture, tech|

Open plan offices are still garbage.

So asides from reducing productivity, open plan offices also apparently reduce face-to-face collaboration, which is literally the one thing they’re supposed to increase.

Technically, I currently work in an open plan office, but it’s small and there’s usually not more than about six of us here at any one time (the impacts of “open plans” start to kick in at about eight-to-twelve). Whenever I have to go on client site and end up in the middle of a floor of a hundred, I’m once again reminded why I do not miss it…1

  1. Incidentally, I once left a job because they were going to take away my office and put me out on the floor of an open plan layout. And, okay. That wasn’t the sole reason, but I was in a management role and the idea of having to manage staff without having an office they could walk into and shut the door on? No. So much no. []
2018-11-29T08:12:35+10:0018th April, 2019|Tags: work|

The first computers.

The failure of one unnamed and ignored postwar computer worker is a good place to start. In 1959, this particular computer programmer faced a very hectic year. She needed to program, operate, and test all of the computers in a major government computing center that was doing critical work. These computers didn’t just crunch numbers or automate low-level office work—they allowed the government to fulfill its duties to British citizens. Computers were beginning to control public utilities like electricity, and the massive and growing welfare state, which included the National Health Service, required complex, calculation-dense taxation systems. Though the welfare state was created by policy, it was technology that allowed it to function.

In addition to doing all of her normal work, our programmer also had to train two new hires. These new hires didn’t have any of the required technical skills. But once she trained them, which took about a year, they stepped up into management roles. Their trainer, meanwhile, was demoted into an assistantship below them. She succeeded at her job, only to fail in her career.

That the trainer was a woman, and that her trainees were both young men, was no coincidence. Nor was it coincidental that, as a woman, she had the technical skills for a job like this while they did not. That’s because before computing became electronic, women were seen as ideal for what was considered mundane calculation work. Though this work often required advanced mathematics knowledge, it was perceived as unintellectual. Before a computer was a machine, it was a job classification—these women workers were literally called “computers.”

Marie Hicks on computers.

Long quote from a long, but worthwhile, essay on how the British computing industry died… and what that means for Silicon Valley today.

2018-11-29T08:03:54+10:0017th April, 2019|Tags: culture, tech|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, finale.

“Everything is different now.”

The Lyddans do show up, Zoe tells him later. With the cops and even an ambulance. The last Zoe saw, they’d been taking Jake away on a stretcher.

From Aunt Addi, Eli learns the sheriff had found Jake’s grandmother. Dead in her trailer, hidden in the bedroom loft. By the timeline, she’d probably been Jake’s first victim. Eli tries not to think of a fading blue eye, watching him from beneath the water as its owner slowly drowned.

No one (else) dies from the incident at the rec centre, although Lance and a few others get treated for burns. They’d tried to subdue Jake after Eli had saved Arthur, and Jake had unleashed balefire on them to escape. The whole thing gets written up as just another attempted mass shooting—just another day in America, nothing to see here—this one averted by the bravery and quick thinking of a room full of teens.

“It was cool, what you did with the lacrosse stick.” Two days later. Eli’s at Zoe’s. They’re both sitting in the big couch-sized swing in her front yard, carefully supervised by Mr. Chung from the bay window in the den. Giving them space, but . . . watching. All the adults are on edge right now. Eli supposes he can’t blame them. He thinks his ribs are still bruised form Aunt Addi’s crushing hugs.

“Was it?” Zoe says. She isn’t in cosplay today, just nebula-patterned leggings and a big chunky black sweater. Eli thinks she looks really nice. Zoe always looks really nice, but today it’s . . . even more. “It felt kinda . . . shitty,” Zoe continues. “Like . . . like, I dunno. Un-feminist? Sending a Man”—she pronounces the capital letter, voice pitching low portentously—“to fight when I should’ve been able to do it myself.”

Read more »

2019-04-16T20:15:24+10:0016th April, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

Fear and loathing.

Look around and everywhere you will see it. White people are afraid. This means the rest of us should also be afraid because, as history has shown us time and time again, when white people get scared, people of colour get hurt. What are white people afraid of now? Well, they are afraid the date of “Australia Day” will change; Aboriginal youth are dying but it’s white people who are afraid. White people are afraid of boats; detained child refugees have stopped eating and drinking but it is white people who are afraid. They are afraid of terrorism; Arabs live under a veritable scorched-earth policy of bombs, famines, occupations, drone strikes, dictators, disappearing journalists and all the insecurity and terror that entails. But it is white people who are afraid.

Fear is a curious emotion to contemplate in this context. Fear implies helplessness, powerlessness – we are scared a stranger may follow us down an unlit street, we fear impending natural disasters, we are petrified of that giant huntsman that’s suddenly appeared on the ceiling in the bathroom. We fear these things because we cannot control them, but neither, for the most part, do they control us. That is the point – fear, like pain, is a signal to run, to seek safety from temporary danger.

White fear is different. White fear is permanent. White fear is entitled. White fear punishes. It is a political tool and a formidable weapon that permits the powerful to claim victimhood, consolidating their power by feigning powerlessness.

[… W]hite fear is not really fear at all. It is an irrational anxious entitlement that has little to do with the presence of danger and everything to do with the perceived right to control, to subdue, to dominate.

Ruby Hamad on white fear.

Long quote, but… damn. Hamad fucking nails it.

2018-11-28T08:52:17+10:0016th April, 2019|Tags: culture|

Making a Play-Doh dragon for your friends’ kid is Art™, right?

(The strips around his legs are “belts” added by said kid, who is apparently like the budding reincarnation of Rob Liefeld.)

2019-04-16T08:10:31+10:0015th April, 2019|Tags: my art|

Cues.

The fact is that “woman” is a rich cultural artifact with many cues used to designate that aspect of their identity — I accept the reality of girls’ names, women’s styles, women’s manner of speaking, women’s traditional roles, women’s typical careers, women’s make-up — all the signals that people use to mark their gender. I don’t freak out when a girl is named “Mike”, when a woman is a fighter pilot, when a man uses eye shadow, when anyone uses vocal fry, when a woman interrupts a man. We’re seeing people break out of the stereotypes we impose on men and women in many ways, and I think that’s a great step forward. Let’s treat people as individuals rather than representatives of only two allowed gender classes.

The presence or absence of a penis is possibly the worst gender signal ever, because we keep those hidden in almost all of our social interactions. I’d have to be really close, very intimate friends with a woman before she’d show me her penis.

PZ Myers on signifiers.

Mild content warning at the link, as the above is in response to the presence/bullshit ideas of TERFs.

2018-11-28T08:41:33+10:0014th April, 2019|Tags: culture|