Alis

/Alis

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.

Problem solved.

Real learning is hard. It’s a slow, confusing process where you sometimes have to read long books with dreadful covers, and look at footnotes and shit. It requires us to recognize and then overcome our biases as best we can. It can take years to learn what we really think and why, and then if we get a lingering feeling we might be wrong, it can take years to un-learn and start all over.

Debate, in contrast, offers an easy way out. Some dudes spouting their favorite buzzwords in each other’s vicinity makes us feel smart and engaged, like we’re in that fresco of the Greek men they put on all the philosophy textbooks. (Small aside — have you ever noticed how in this image, all the female figures look thoroughly sick of these guys?) However, the format of debate, which is supposed to represent the height of intellectual tradition, encourages us instead to applaud the candidate who is best at using simple rhetoric, looking suave, and machine-gunning irrelevant lines at their browbeaten interlocutor. These are all things that real intellectual inquiry is supposed to look beyond.

Aisling McCrea debates debate.

Speaking of frescoes of Greek men, the whole point of rhetoric in its original Greek formulation was that, because what we’d now consider empirical sciences and the scientific method hadn’t been fully invented yet, people didn’t have anything other than force of argument to persuade people about stuff…

2019-01-04T16:03:04+10:0012th May, 2019|Tags: culture|

… there’s a king of hearts stuck to the ceiling in this restaurant.

2019-05-13T09:07:24+10:0011th May, 2019|

Athleisure.

On the somewhat startling realization that basically all modern clothing is some variant of athletic wear.

The obvious exception here, asides from business and formal attire, is probably jeans… but even they were originally designed for laborers and factory workers, before being repurposed into everyday wear.

2019-01-04T15:53:07+10:0011th May, 2019|Tags: culture, fashion|

Unexpected future in the bagging area.

I have this half-assed theory that Americans hate self-checkouts so much because status in their weird classist society is built entirely around how many people you can coerce into doing obsequious minimum wage labor on your behalf, and self-checkouts (and their refusal to buckle under threats, shouting, or bribery) break that.

Also… this whole thing about “‘ware the self-checkout because it’s robots coming for your JOBS!!!!” is like… yes. Yes, that’s good. Automate humans out of work! Kill the bullshit notion of “full employment”! I want my post-capitalist automated leisure society and, yeah, that’s gonna take work to make and it’s not going to come naturally, but pretending it’s not coming at all is just a recipe for leaving people destitute when it inevitably does, rather than preempting it by putting in strong social policies to deal with a post-work society. Which we really, really need to get onto, pronto.

Also also… I just like self-checkouts. Go figure.

2019-01-04T09:42:35+10:0010th May, 2019|Tags: culture, tech|

White yoga.

Nearly 37 million U.S. adults practice yoga. More than 70 percent are women and 85 percent identify as white. But it’s not just that yoga is an incredibly homogenous white female culture; it’s also an astoundingly upper-class culture. As of 2017, more than 40 percent of yoga practitioners earned over $75,000 a year, and 25 percent over $100,000 annually. In other words, yoga studios are the new country clubs. As the 21st-century version of exclusive and elitist recreational spaces, these studios are often located next to a coffee shop, health food store, juice bar or a lifestyle boutique that sells Orientalist curios.

Beyond their visibility as conspicuous and racialized wellness/leisure consumption, yoga studios have emerged in the United States as homogenous white spaces, which are in turn positioned as “safe spaces” for white women. Such ideas of safety, built around patriarchal notions of white women’s vulnerability and purity, rely on entrenched racialized ideas of what separates the public from the private, and often further marginalize women of color since we are rarely seen as worthy of safety or saving.

Rumya S. Putcha on safe spaces.

I like yoga but oh dear sweet gods do I hate yoga classes. This is one of many reasons…

2019-01-04T09:31:44+10:009th May, 2019|Tags: culture|

WHAT WAS THAT?

As someone who has both a deaf husband and a deaf father, over-loud restaurants are 100% an accessibility issue1 and the fact that sound-amplifying designs intentionally propagate because they’re aesthetically “trendy” is Ableism In Action 101.

  1. In fact, my husband realized he was deaf when we were having a conversation in a very loud restaurant and he couldn’t follow it. It became the triggering incident that caused him to get tested. []
2019-01-03T10:53:16+10:008th May, 2019|Tags: culture, design|

Slow down and be mindful.

But ubiquitous quality has given rise to a new problem: If everything just works, how are you supposed to choose what to buy?

My advice: Don’t just consider how well a product works, but look at who’s making it and how it is sold. Before you dive into any new doodad, consider a company’s ethics, morals, branding and messaging. If you aren’t comfortable, look to alternatives. […] Most important, when you’re choosing tech, it’s wise to consider the business model — because it’s in the buying and the selling of a product, rather than in the using, that you can best figure out its dangers.

Farhad Manjoo on tech mindfulness.

Manjoo is specifically talking about tech here, and I do think there are limits to the whole “ethical consumption” thing.1

Nonetheless, the perfect shouldn’t be the enemy of the good and all that, and if part of that is being more mindful about the tech we support and the platforms we use? Then I think that’s okay. It’s not going to, like. Cause radical systemic change or whatever, but… it’s still worth something.

  1. By which I mean, I mostly think it’s garbage. Not quite “no ethical consumption under capitalism” but rather that there are no ethical consumables under capitalism. []
2019-01-03T10:44:20+10:007th May, 2019|Tags: tech|