Staying out of politics is privilege

Hey, I’ll be honest. I’m one of those for whom it would be very easy to just “stay out of politics”. To post snide remarks about how all of you can argue about politics, but I’m just not going to waste my time with the bother. To shrug it all off. After all, I’m a well-educated, 45-year-old straight white cisgender man, in a heterosexual marriage, in good health, within accepted norms of physical attractiveness, employed, and (even with the move back to the Seattle area and going back to apartment living) fairly comfortably middle-class with a healthy financial cushion in the bank. I have so, so much privilege, and could so easily use it to just “stay out of politics”.

But on very real, personal, ethical and moral grounds, I cannot and will not do that. I know far too many people, many of whom are very close to me, who do not have the privileges I do, and who stand to be — or already are — in very real, present danger because of where our country stands right now. They have no option to “stay out of politics”. For them, “politics” isn’t some esoteric theoretical concept to be debated in classrooms or over coffee (or booze) and cigarettes in the wee hours of the morning, but a very real, very present, life-or-death situation.

Women, minorities, the non-Christian religious or non-religious, poor people, people with medical issues, people whose sexuality or gender identities and expressions fall somewhere other than cisgender and straight, and various combinations of those identities and more. I have many friends and loved ones that fall into those groups, who do not have the option to choose to “stay out of politics”, and for me to do so would be callous, uncaring, and cruel.

So, yes. I’m going to continue to post the links, articles, and occasional profane rants. Because it is far, far better for me to use the privilege I have to call attention to the concerns and plights of those who do not have the advantages that I do. As I do that, I have been and will continue to make an effort to quiet my own voice in favor of amplifying the voices of those who are oppressed. Of linking to those who speak from a place of personal knowledge about experiences I have never and in many cases can never experience. Of recognizing when I need to listen, rather than speaking out about things I can never truly understand. Of doing my best to call out my fellow straight/white/male/privileged people when they overstep their bounds, and listening and learning when I’m called out for overstepping mine.

Because this is what needs to be done. Not just to ease my conscience, but to do what I can to let those people in my life who are struggling know that they’re not alone, that we haven’t abandoned them entirely, even if it so often seems like it. Because I believe that we can be better than we seem to be right now. Because I grew up on Star Trek and its vision of an optimistic future, and that’s the future I want to live in, and to do that, we have to work towards it.

And we can’t do that and “stay out of politics”.

(Originally prompted by the embedded photo when seen on Facebook, posted to Facebook, and then re-posted here. Very minor apologies to those who are seeing this twice.)

Linkdump for April 27th through May 17th

Sometime between April 27th and May 17th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The Case of the Stolen Source Code: Last week, for about three days, the macOS video transcoding app HandBrake was compromised. One of the two download servers for HandBrake was serving up a special malware-infested version of the app, that, when launched, would essentially give hackers remote control of your computer. // In a case of extraordinarily bad luck, even for a guy that has a lot of bad computer luck, I happened to download HandBrake in that three day window, and my work Mac got pwned. // Long story short, somebody, somewhere, now has quite a bit of source code to several of our apps.
  • JSON Feed: Announcing JSON Feed: We — Manton Reece and Brent Simmons — have noticed that JSON has become the developers’ choice for APIs, and that developers will often go out of their way to avoid XML. JSON is simpler to read and write, and it’s less prone to bugs. So we developed JSON Feed, a format similar to RSS and Atom but in JSON. It reflects the lessons learned from our years of work reading and publishing feeds.
  • Let’s discuss the Linguistic & Pragmatic use of the [“N-word”]: No matter what your intentions, the word WILL mean something different depending on your relative status. Language is circumstancial.
  • The neural network writes the episode list for next season’s Dr. Who: I’ve trained this open-source neural network framework on a variety of datasets, including recipes, Pokemon, knock-knock jokes, pick up lines, and D&D spells. Now I give you: training a neural network on the complete list of Dr. Who episodes.
  • What we really need is an adaptation of the original 1740 The Beauty and the Beast: So were you aware that the The Beauty and the Beast story we all know is a heavily abridged and rewritten version of a much longer novella by Gabrielle-Suzanne Barbot de Villeneuve?  And that a lot of the plot holes existing in the current versions exist because the 1756 rewrite cut out the second half of the novella, which consisted entirely of the elaborate backstory that explains all the weird shit that happened before?  And that the elaborate backstory is presented in a way that’s kind of boring because the novel had only just been invented in 1740 and no one knew how they worked yet, but contains a bazillion awesome ideas that beg for a modern retelling?  And that you are probably not aware that the modern world needs this story like air but the modern world absolutely needs this story like air?

Linkdump for April 16th through April 19th

Sometime between April 16th and April 19th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The Heart of Whiteness: Ijeoma Oluo Interviews Rachel Dolezal, the White Woman Who Identifies as Black: Dolezal is simply a white woman who cannot help but center herself in all that she does—including her fight for racial justice. And if racial justice doesn't center her, she will redefine race itself in order to make that happen.
  • Volunteers, Professionals, and Who Gets to Have Fun at Cons: If your fun is dependent using your status as a volunteer as an excuse to not act responsibly, if it requires victims to stay quiet about mistreatment: then it’s not really a fun time for “everyone” is it? It’s not the expectation of professionalism that’s killing the fun at cons, it’s the lack of it.
  • Time to Fix the Missing Stair: It’s time to stop pretending the missing stair doesn’t need to be fixed. Relying on word-of-mouth means that the people who are new, who are just entering, are the ones most at risk of trying to step on it.
  • seriously, the guy has a point: A global investment firm has used a global advertising firm to create a faux work of guerrilla art to subvert and change the meaning of his actual work of guerrilla art. That would piss off any artist.
  • Westboro Wannabes Picket Norwescon: Thank you for proving, by your actions, the value that Norwescon (and all such fan-run conventions) have in this world. Thank you for proving that we can’t be bullied. You gave us all a teachable moment, and we learned something about ourselves.

Linkdump for March 30th from 13:25 to 16:32

Sometime between 13:25 and 16:32 on March 30th, I thought this stuff was interesting. You might think so too!

  • The Male Power Fantasy (and why Mad Max and Captain Kirk don’t fit): This relates to a theory I have, which is that the archetypal Western Male Hero is James Bond, to the degree that people (Mainly straight white men) start to see every Western Male Hero as James Bond. Which is to say an aggressively masculine, quip-spitting, hyper violent womanizer. The ultimate Male Power Fantasy. A new supermodel love interest (or two) every film, a gun in his hand, and no consequences for his actions.
  • So many biological genders: If anyone tells you that there are 2-3 sexes in the world I want you to just go ahead and slap them.
  • Fight Club and toxic masculinity (with a side of Mad Max: Fury Road): Hold up – you mean there are people who watch Fight Club and don’t realise that Tyler Durden is meant to be full of shit?
  • Geisha FAQ: Please do not spread misconceptions about these hard-working women artists. They deserve respect and have persevered for centuries with women at the forefront of these professions.
  • Earth is dangerous: I really want a science fiction story where aliens come to invade earth and effortlessly wipe out humanity, only to be fought off by the wildlife.
  • Of privilege and nostalgia: The reality is, there was never a time when everyone could just enjoy things. To be able to say you had that time is to admit the privilege you had at not having to think about problematic behavior because it didn’t negatively affect your life.
  • To everyone else in the galaxy, all humans are basically Doc Brown.: Random Headcanon: That Federation vessels in Star Trek seem to experience bizarre malfunctions with such overwhelming frequency isn’t just an artefact of the television serial format. Rather, it’s because the Federation as a culture are a bunch of deranged hyper-neophiles, tooling around in ships packed full of beyond-cutting-edge tech they don’t really understand.
  • Snarky but amusing and thorough Romeo and Juliet analysis: SUMMARY: Romeo and Juliet is a stunningly rich play that is mostly about how feuds fuck people over badly and how if you have to wait until YOUR KIDS OFF THEMSELVES to figure that out you deserve to lose your children. Romeo and Juliet are victims of the feud and its mindless death-lust, not perpetrators of death on others. They’re not supposed to be figures of ridicule OR representatives of True Love: they’re supposed to make the audience go “oh BABIES, no, you’re going to end so badly” and then be sad when they do.
  • The singular “they”: Next time someone complains about singular “they” I’ll point them to this 17th century rant against singular “you”.