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sudo touch

This doesn’t work for me because of the way I have the accounts set up on my Mac, but there are a lot of other people for whom using TouchID with sudo will be very handy.

2021-01-05T07:44:27+11:0018th January, 2021|Tags: , |

You’ve got fail.

In that sense, You’ve Got Mail is the ur-Clintonite film, a pure expression of the era’s liberal political defeatism masquerading as an optimism that politics are now disposable — indeed, that they’re only standing in the way of utopia. This is the ethos of Third Way centrism: that socialism versus capitalism is an outdated dichotomy, and that popular interests will be most broadly served through technocratic tinkering rather than conflict. Of course, big capitalists come out on top in the final result, but everyone else — from the proletariat to the petty bourgoisie — is also happier and more prosperous for having relented. We have no use for the old antagonisms, the movie seems to say. History’s over. Romance has defeated it.

On romance at the end of history.

This is what I think about, incidentally, every time I read a You’ve Got Mail AU fanfic. Mostly because most of the ones I’ve seen recently involve whomever is playing the Tom Hanks character to realise the Evils of Capitalism at some point in the story. The Meg Ryan doesn’t just “forgive” him; he has to actually renounce (at least some portion) of his previous Evil Plot to take over the bookstore/cafe/car mechanic/kid’s science centre/library/whatever, usually by teaming up with the Meg Ryan against the real villain, who is inevitably the Tom Hanks’s evil capitalist CEO boss and, usually, also parent.

Which is kind of… So, like. The “normal” application of a fic AU is to take characters from one media property and have them enact the plotline, or engage with the worldbuilding, from another one. Right? So far so good. What I think it kind of interesting with the YGM AU stuff is that they’re almost kind of the opposite, in that they’re characters from an outside property “fixing” Mail’s original plotline.

It’s worth pointing out at this point I’ve never watched You’ve Got Mail and never intend to. Literally everything I know about it I know from reading fic AUs and—literally just right now—the summary on Wikipedia, and I suspect I’m not alone in that. I suspect a lot of people who write these AUs have either not seen the original film or saw it so long ago its themes have mostly been overtaken in their minds by YGM AU fic plots. Which isn’t to say that’s a bad thing—I actually think it’s awesome—just… interesting. The way these things go.

2021-01-05T07:40:19+11:0017th January, 2021|Tags: , , |

Whenever media has a character who’s supposed to be “goth” or “punk” or whatever and this is shown by having a totally conventionally attractive girl with long blonde beach waves except she’s wearing, like, a pair of Docs or something I feel my soul physically leaving my body.

2021-01-05T07:17:16+11:0017th January, 2021|Tags: |

One rule for me, one for thee.

One of Facebook’s main content-moderation hubs outside the U.S. is in Dublin, where, every day, moderators review hundreds of thousands of reports of potential rule violations from Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. In December, 2015, several moderators in the Dublin office—including some on what was called the MENA team, for Middle East and North Africa—noticed that Trump’s post was not being taken down. “An American politician saying something shitty about Muslims was probably not the most shocking thing I saw that day,” a former Dublin employee who worked on content policy related to the Middle East told me. “Remember, this is a job that involves looking at beheadings and war crimes.” The MENA team, whose members spoke Arabic, Farsi, and several other languages, was not tasked with moderating American content; still, failing to reprimand Trump struck many of them as a mistake, and they expressed their objections to their supervisors. According to Facebook’s guidelines, moderators were to remove any “calls for exclusion or segregation.” An appeal to close the American border to Muslims clearly qualified.

The following day, members of the team and other concerned employees met in a glass-walled conference room. At least one policy executive joined, via video, from the U.S. “I think it was Joel Kaplan,” the former Dublin employee told me. “I can’t be sure. Frankly, I had trouble telling those white guys apart.” The former Dublin employee got the impression that “the attitude from the higher-ups was You emotional Muslims seem upset; let’s have this conversation where you feel heard, to calm you down. Which is hilarious, because a lot of us weren’t even Muslim. Besides, the objection was never, Hey, we’re from the Middle East and this hurts our feelings.” Rather, their message was “In our expert opinion, this post violates the policies. So what’s the deal?”

On consistency.

One of the things moderating my own communities over the years has taught me is that the more you pretend your rules are “neutral,” the more trouble you’re going to get yourself into in the long term.

A private community is not a state; it doesn’t have rule of law and the institutions needed to support it, like separation of powers between the body that makes laws versus the body that enforces them. It also has no accountability; general users can’t change Facebook’s TOS if they don’t like it, for example. And pretending that this sort of system is workable in private communities in general—particularly ones held or owned by individuals—is extreme galaxy brain STEM-kid-needed-to-take-a-humanities-class bullshit…

2021-01-04T10:27:10+11:0016th January, 2021|Tags: , |


Why would you do things like put climate denialists on Q&A to square an imaginary ledger? Why would you put Pauline Hanson on breakfast TV, resurrecting a dangerous criminal racist with a battler redemption arc? Why, through nine long months of lockdown, were we bombarded with opinions from sociopathic economists that have now definitively been proven incorrect?

What were we hoping to achieve with all that?!?!?! […]

For all the failed institutions of a largely dysfunctional nation, America’s best media is still better than ours. They have spines. They have a long, proud history of standing up to negligent, criminal Presidents and acting in the public interest. Not always, and not often – and definitely not when there’s bipartisan bombs to be dropped in the Middle East – but still far more often and effectively than we do on balance.

On Australian newsphobia.

2020-12-22T08:40:52+11:0014th January, 2021|Tags: , |

While I’m apparently having Opinions on Writing: Number One Hot Tip for anyone writing about characters going any place, particularly any place real, is to use actual locations.

Like, even if you’re just opening up Google Street View and walking yourself down a foreign city’s road. Don’t just have characters going to “a department store”;1 have them going to the Sogo on Nathan Road, or the Myer in Bourke Street. If they’re going to a coffee shop, make it the Elements at the back of the grey import sporting goods store; you know the one, you can get that Earl Grey hot chocolate there that sounds weird but is actually amazing. Give your characters opinions on locations around them! Make them hate a particular restaurant, or have opinions on local public art, or memories associated with a particular park. If you’ve never been to a city? Go talk to or read things from people who have; blogs, Yelp reviews, whatever.

Even if you get some of the details slightly wrong, and you will,2 the benefits of making your characters and your world feel “lived in” are worth it.

  1. Unless you’re trying to disassociate the character from the space they’re in. Which maybe you are! But, if so, do it intentionally. []
  2. I once wrote quite extensively about a building that, when I actually went to physically visit it several years later, I realised was about half a block back from where I’d assumed it to be, given Street View. I’m not sure anyone really noticed. []
2020-12-22T08:06:13+11:0013th January, 2021|Tags: , |

Behind the curtain.

In the U.S., most of us aren’t taught to use our sociological imaginations. We’re not taught to think about social problems as structural problems. We’re not taught to see the forces that operate beyond our control – forces like capitalism, patriarchy, and white supremacy. And we’re not taught to see how those forces create many of the challenges we face in our lives and constrain our ability to make choices that could help us overcome those challenges.

Instead, we — especially women and people from other systematically marginalized groups — are taught to self-help-book our way out of structural problems. To believe that all our problems would go away if only we were to strictly follow some seventeen-step plan.

Jessica Calarco on individualism.

Minor content warning for the link, which contains a (non-graphic) retelling of a story of sexual assault.

2020-12-22T07:48:49+11:0012th January, 2021|Tags: |

The oldest panic.

A short history of the Blood Libel.

Blood Libel has taken many forms over the years, but the point here is that in Ye Moderne Times—when overt antisemitism is considered a bit déclassé—it’s morphed into the various takes on Satanic Panic, most famously QAnon. But at the core of it, pretty much all modern moral handwringing about “think of the children!” almost certainly has Blood Libel lurking a few steps behind, whether the people who perpetuate it are aware of this fact or not.

Just, y’know. Something to think about…

2020-12-22T07:31:53+11:0011th January, 2021|Tags: |


Tolerance is not a moral absolute; it is a peace treaty. Tolerance is a social norm because it allows different people to live side-by-side without being at each other’s throats. It means that we accept that people may be different from us, in their customs, in their behavior, in their dress, in their sex lives, and that if this doesn’t directly affect our lives, it is none of our business. But the model of a peace treaty differs from the model of a moral precept in one simple way: the protection of a peace treaty only extends to those willing to abide by its terms. It is an agreement to live in peace, not an agreement to be peaceful no matter the conduct of others. A peace treaty is not a suicide pact.

Yonatan Zunger on the uneasy peace.

2020-12-22T07:21:01+11:0010th January, 2021|Tags: |
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