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|

The Dragon of Rosemont High, ch. 24.

“We’re all having a shitty time, asswipe! This is high school!”

He doesn’t, as it turns out, get far. Instead, he runs straight into Zoe in the hallway. Her eyes are wide and she’s breathing hard, like she’s been running too, which—

“Zee, I have to—” Eli blurts, at the same time as Zoe says: “Eli! Listen, I—”

They both stop, stare at each other for a moment, then blurt:

“No, me first!”

And it would be funny, maybe, if things weren’t so dire and Zoe didn’t look so panicked. Come to think of it, why did Zoe look so—

Eli doesn’t even get to finish the thought. Not when Zoe blurts:

“I saw it, Ee! In the flash. From the lightning. We were just, I dunno. Talking. Then the lightning hit and the lights went out, and everyone screamed. And it was kinda funny, y’know? Except, Ee. Ee, there was another one. More lightning. And in the flash, Ee. I saw it.”

And somehow, Eli just knows what she’s going to say. That little half-forgotten memory, from what seems like another lifetime, rushing to the fore:

“Eli. His shadow. It wasn’t his, it was the peryton’s.”

The peryton’s shadow. Just like the evil sorcerers in Zoe’s parents’ dumb Dungeons & Dragons book.

“Jake,” Eli says, and Zoe’s eye get even wider, whites seeming to almost glow both from the gloom and from the dark eyeshadow framing them.

“How—?”

It’s about that time, however, that the screaming starts. For real this time, not just the half-hearted shock of before. In between the sound, Eli can feel something. A sort of static hum and a thudding bass, like being too close to a live wire and too close to a concert speaker, all at once.

Read more »

2019-04-12T17:34:37+10:0012th April, 2019|Tags: books, DRAGON OF ROSEMONT HIGH|

Mo’ money, mo’ carbon.

Also, while we’re on the subject: it’s not using plastic straws or taking half-hour showers that’s destroying the environment. It’s the fucking mega-rich.

Repeat after me, kids: Individual “choices” cannot fix structural issues. And as the article points out:

[T]here is no “free market” incentive to prevent disaster. An economic environment where a company is only considered viable if it’s constantly expanding and increasing its production can’t be expected to pump its own brakes over something as trivial as pending global catastrophe. Instead, market logic dictates that rather than take the financial hit that comes with cutting profits, it’s more reasonable to find a way to make money off the boiling ocean. Nothing illustrates this phenomenon better than the burgeoning climate-change investment industry. According to Bloomberg, investors are looking to make money off of everything from revamped food production to hotels for people fleeing increasingly hurricane-ravaged areas. A top JP Morgan Asset investment strategist advised clients that sea-level rise was so inevitable that there was likely a lot of opportunity for investing in sea-wall construction.

Grotesque.

2018-11-27T13:34:21+10:0012th April, 2019|Tags: climate, culture, nature, politics, science|

If by “prisons” you mean “Hell.”

I mean, on the one hand. I don’t disagree with this analysis of either The Good Place or the broader critique of the purpose of prisons.

But, like. On the other hand? How do you write like an entire article about this subject without once mentioning that the modern Western concept of punitive incarceration is pretty much drawn directly from Christian notions of Hell and eternal damnation? I mean, it’s literally the show’s set-up and its central conceit, as well as being very, very specifically Christian. Islam has a similar concept of Hell, and Judaism… sort of does, although its logistics are far more vague.1 Meanwhile, versions of Hell exist in Hinduism and Buddhism—as well as the various traditions influenced by both—but are usually more like a place of tribulation where a soul can “work off” its karmic debt with a little light oil boiling before being reborn into its next life. If you’re thinking, “Hm… that sounds an awful lot like the point of s2 and s3 of The Good Place…” then, yes! Which honestly is one of the reasons I find the show way more interesting than most other things that draw on Christianity’s “eternal damnation” shtick.2

And, y’know. Watching too much Monkey as a child has made me a huge sucker for a reformed-demon story. So… there’s that, too.

  1. One assumes that fact Judaism is a non-proselytizing religion means it doesn’t need the whole “convert or be DAMNED TO HELL!” angle adopted by its descendants. []
  2. A show about reforming a Christian-style Hell into one more like those described in Asian literature? Go on. I’m listening… []
2018-11-27T08:46:21+10:0010th April, 2019|Tags: pop culture, religion|

Unnatural opposites.

Our weird cultural commitment to the gender binary goes way beyond actual living men and women—if it didn’t, people wouldn’t freak out so badly when someone declines to choose. Masculinity and femininity are concepts we layer on top of everything from people to pens to political parties. Sometimes there’s a middle ground, but often we seem lost without our familiar patterns; it’s the confused hetero doofus asking a gay couple “which one’s the woman,” except for the entire world. Take any opposed things—Democrats and Republicans, cats and dogs, even the sun and the moon—and you’ll find one of them associated with physical strength, action, and domineering behavior, and the other associated with emotion, reticence, and calm. That’s not just descriptive; it’s prescriptive, and proscriptive too. If we could judge the moon for yelling, we would.

Jess Zimmerman on binaries.

This is from a longer, and more specific, analysis on the Democratic party in the US, specifically the fact that it’s seen as “feminized”—as (ahem) “opposed” to the masculinized Republican party—and how that results in a heavily gendered political dynamic (i.e. the GOP are allowed to whine and scream and be giant manbabies, because mantrums, while Democrats are forever play the role of the “reasonable” mother-wife).

Mostly, though, I think it’s a reminder that “smash the gender binary!” doesn’t mean “ban individual gender expression” but rather “critique and dismantle cultural constructs that assign specific traits to genders and then in turn those genders to non-human objects/concepts.”

2018-11-27T08:15:57+10:009th April, 2019|Tags: culture, politics|