About Alis

Alis Franklin is a thirtysomething Australian author of queer urban fantasy. She likes cooking, video games, Norse mythology, and feathered dinosaurs. She’s never seen a live drop bear, but stays away from tall trees, just in case.

Blue plague.

Most of the cops I know retired out long ago. They were good cops. They honored the Badge. But there’s a reason they got out when they did. They tell me that policing has changed. They tell me about the corrupt guys who are dealing drugs, seizing property and acting like street gangsters. They tell me about the heavy steroid use that is turning some cops into ‘roid raging monsters. They tell me about the guys who didn’t have the cojones to join up to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan who are now playing “soldier” on the streets of America instead. They describe the sadists who figure a badge gives them the right to beat in the heads of anyone who “crosses” them. They emphasize with the cops who are basically good guys who joined up to be the heroes and protectors of their neighborhoods, but who are ground down by their corrupt gangster wannabe co-workers, the police unions who shield the bad guys no matter what they do, and the higher ups who still subscribe to that devil’s bargain.

Mike Pondsmith on cops.

2020-09-07T08:54:52+10:0025th September, 2020|Tags: culture|

Inside riot.

Relatedly to questioning the lionization of nonviolent protest, an anarchist’s look inside the Siege of the Third Precinct in Minneapolis.

Regardless of what you’re personal line of tolerance for violent protest happens to be, it is very much worth noting that one of the key, intentional strategies to defang protest movements in the last generation or so has been to centralized them. The more “organized” and “official” a protest is, the easier it is to control, threaten, disperse, and regulate. So… just something to keep in mind.

2020-09-07T07:59:21+10:0024th September, 2020|Tags: culture, politics|

Performative virtue.

The social narrative of the United States locates virtue in whiteness; its power and entitlements are justified by white altruism, white benevolence, white entitlement. We see black trauma turned into white virtue signaling, a process to which the murder of Floyd has already been converted. Social media features a plethora of white people who are—all of a sudden—justifying their every decision: a firing they may have seen coming, a donation they may have given, a phone call they may have made, as stemming from their deep-sprung empathy toward black people. Crowing for themselves under the pretext of feeling for Floyd, they are underscoring again just how good (and hence deserving of commendation) they are.

A useful counterpoint to this habit was given by Cornel West in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper this week. Speaking immediately after George Floyd’s funeral, West described the black tradition of marching for justice without words of hatred or revenge. He described the insistence on freedom for everybody as a “grand gift to the world.” “White America ought to give black people a standing ovation,” West said. “After four hundred years of being terrorized, we refuse to create a black version of the Ku Klux Klan.” West noted that Floyd’s funeral in Houston was marked with uplift. “You can put us down, but you’re not going to put us down in such a way that we’re going to hate you, because you become the point of reference.” The presumption of goodness cannot be allowed to rest with white America. But if Gandhi’s precepts for British India modeled anything, it is the fact that it is not enough for the oppressed to actually be good; they are continually asked to perform their goodness, to prove it against the decrepitude of the other side.

Rafia Zakaria on virtue.

From a broader article looking at Gandhi’s model of non-violent resistance, specifically in light of the criticism he received at the time from Jewish activist currently struggling against annihilation in Europe (what form of “nonviolence” or performative virtue could have stopped the Holocaust?).

One of the things that was kind of… eye opening to me when I first encountered it was that the narrative white Westerners have about Gandhi and the narrative a lot of actual South Asian people have… do not match up. Like. At all. For a variety of reasons, not all of them “good” per se (ref. parochial nationalism), but still…

2020-09-07T07:18:55+10:0023rd September, 2020|Tags: culture, politics|

You are what you make.

It’s not just how people use what you make. It’s how you make what you make.

Any time you design and build something, you do so through the lens of your values and beliefs. Implicit bias is present in everything we make.

The decision to force people to use their real names, or to not let people block users (I’m looking at you, Slack), expose how likely a designer or decision maker is to have experienced harassment themselves. This is often closely correlated to gender and ethnicity. […]

The tech recommendations someone makes are also driven by their own preferences, biases, and lived experiences. Do they recommend something expensive and powerful? Something cheap and accessible? Do they provide a mix of options or just offer one?

These decisions all reveal the politics, to an extent, of the author.

Chris Ferdinandi knows all tech is political.

2020-09-03T08:11:29+10:0021st September, 2020|Tags: politics, tech|

Boomer legacy.

[W]e often attempt to see forms of institutional racism as rooted purely in cultural attitudes rather than political institutions and economic arrangements that favor finance. In city after city run by Democratic mayors, many of whom were elected on platforms involving racial justice, police violence is endemic. Ross Barkan explained that in New York City, the reason is economic. The NYPD is a massive paramilitary force, and it exists in its current form because to protect the main industry of the city, which is property value appreciation. New York used to have a mixed economic base, with manufacturing, shipping, transportation, and finance. The Garment District was actually a place people made clothes. But in the 1980s and 1990s all that got ripped out in favor of making the city dependent on the appreciation of financial assets, most evidently real estate. A finance-dependent political economy with rampant inequality is dependent on brutal security measures, regardless of how tolerant the culture is.

The inability to reckon with the political economy choices we’ve made that result in social dysfunction is in my view a result of the cynicism of the [1960s and 70s] counterculture. Proponents in that world are openly and nakedly greedy, and they justify their libertine activities using the language of tolerance, of progress, often techno-utopian flavored. That is certainly the politics of Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and McKinsey, and both political party elites. It’s why Burning Man is what it is, a seeming place of creativity and artistic license, with a subtext of billionaires being self-righteous libertine jerks. It’s why fear is now rampant among anyone who works for a living, either doctors, engineers, daycare workers, cheer coaches, whoever. That’s how we structure our economy, with various layers of coercion.

Matt Stoller on being socially liberal, economically conservative.

2020-08-28T08:52:14+10:0019th September, 2020|Tags: economics, politics|

Ascent and decline.

Economic problems take time to ripple thru political system because after 30 most people don’t tend to change their views. They believe what they believe, they are who they are, and while age produces real changes, it doesn’t tend to change their politics, absent absolute catastrophe.

But we are now moving to the other side of that. For decades people put up with decline, but now the youngsters, some of whom are in their early 30s, have never known anything but a failed system and a bad economy. This political world has never worked for them, ever: they have no emotional investment in it, no habit of supporting it.

Ian Welsh on change.

… for better and for worse.

2020-08-26T10:23:02+10:0018th September, 2020|Tags: politics|
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