Friday, March 28, 2014

lazy meals: New Mexican New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder
green chiles

Mix to taste in the pot. Nom!

I think I invented this one, though it was not the science of the rockets. It's best with fresh roasted chiles, of course, but canned chiles are nice.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

debunking rape culture theory, a linkfest

From The Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)'s recommendations to the White House Task Force to Protect Students from Sexual Assault (pdf):
In the last few years, there has been an unfortunate trend towards blaming “rape culture” for the extensive problem of sexual violence on campuses. While it is helpful to point out the systemic barriers to addressing the problem, it is important to not lose sight of a simple fact: Rape is caused not by cultural factors but by the conscious decisions, of a small percentage of the community, to commit a violent crime.

While that may seem an obvious point, it has tended to get lost in recent debates. This has led to an inclination to focus on particular segments of the student population (e.g., athletes), particular aspects of campus culture (e.g., the Greek system), or traits that are common in many millions of law-abiding Americans (e.g., “masculinity”), rather than on the subpopulation at fault: those who choose to commit rape. This trend has the paradoxical effect of making it harder to stop sexual violence, since it removes the focus from the individual at fault, and seemingly mitigates personal responsibility for his or her own actions.

By the time they reach college, most students have been exposed to 18 years of prevention messages, in one form or another. Thanks to repeated messages from parents, religious leaders, teachers, coaches, the media and, yes, the culture at large, the overwhelming majority of these young adults have learned right from wrong, and enter college knowing that rape falls squarely in the latter category.

Research supports the view that to focus solely on certain social groups or “types” of students in the effort to end campus sexual violence is a mistake. Dr. David Lisak estimates that three percent of college men are responsible for more than 90% of rapes. Other studies suggest that between 3-7% of college men have committed an act of sexual violence or would consider doing so. It is this relatively small percentage of the population, which has proven itself immune to years of prevention messages, that we must address in other ways. (Unfortunately, we are not aware of reliable research on female college perpetrators.)

Consider, as well, the findings of another study by Dr. Lisak and colleagues, which surveyed 1,882 male college students and determined that 120 of them were rapists. Of those determined to be rapists, the majority — 63% — were repeat offenders who admitted to committing multiple sexual assaults. Overall, they found that each offender committed an average of 5.8 sexual assaults. Again, this research supports the fact that more than 90% of college-age males do not, and are unlikely to ever, rape. In fact, we have found that they’re ready and eager to be engaged on these issues. It’s the other guys (and, sometimes, women) who are the problem.

It’s Time to End ‘Rape Culture’ Hysteria |

Is America A "Rape Culture"? | RealClearPolitics

Barbara Kay: A bump in radical feminism’s control of the gender agenda

Lest anyone claim these are only from conservative sources, Sommers is a registered Democrat. Young is apparently a "moderate libertarian" who has criticized Men's Rights Activists. Both identify as equality feminists.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

things science fiction writers got wrong #8247

I'm going over my third novel, The Tangled Lands, to release it as an ebook in a week or so. Written in the late '80s, it was set partly in a cyberpunk future that's now effectively an alternate version of our present. Which meant I was surprised when I came on a line about a smoking section in a bar. I never thought outright smoking bans would be so successful.

The line was not purely cosmetic, so I had to think for a minute or three before I found a new version for the book. Yeah, I could've left it alone. But it was the wrong place for something that's now distracting, and I like the new line better, so all's good.

on Rightscorp, the internet's privateer, and what to do if they say you've been busted for piracy

If you've been accused of pirating or think you might be, you should learn a little about Rightscorp before you do anything. As I understand the situation—and I am not a lawyer, so don't bother suing me if I'm wrong—companies like Rightscorp cannot legally get the names of suspected pirates from the ISPs directly, so they play a little trick. They send DMCA takedown notices with a request that the ISP send their full notices to the suspected pirates. Most ISPs agree. The full notices include details of what's suspected and a demand for payment. If the ISP's customer clicks on the notice links and pays, the accusing company gets (1) the person's identity, (2) the person's confession, and (3) profit.

Remember that wireless networks get used in many ways by many people. ISPs can know where piracy happened, but they can't know who pirated without a confession. So if you get charged through your ISP, your concern is with them, not with Rightscorp. The ISP will almost certainly be content to give a warning the first time they get a DMCA notice about you.

Here are most pertinent bits from  a few short articles that I recommend you read in their entirety:

From Comcast Kills Business Model of Piracy Monitoring and Settlement Firm | TorrentFreak:
Rightscorp usually asks for $10 or $20 per infringed title, demands that are concealed in DMCA notices so they can bypass the courts.
Under the DMCA Internet providers are obliged to forward copyright infringement notices to their customers, so with this strategy the company can contact the alleged pirates without knowing who they are.
At least, that’s the theory.
The problem is that Rightscorp’s entire business model relies on the willingness of the Internet providers to forward their full settlement requests. To make sure this happens the company specifically adds the following line on top of each DMCA notice.
Unfortunately for the anti-piracy outfit, not all ISPs are doing that.
TorrentFreak looked into the matter and we found that Comcast, the largest ISP in the United States, strips out all the threatening language and references to the proposed settlement. Instead, it only lists the infringement details including the source, file-name and a timestamp.
From Is the MPAA giant waking up and luring defendants through their $20 DMCA settlement letters? | TorrentLawyer™ - Exposing Copyright Trolls and Their Lawsuits:
What is bothering me, however, is that the release on their website (pasted below) releases the accused defendant from their claim of copyright infringement for a mere $20, but it has the defendant ADMITTING GUILT to the infringement. Thus, in legal terms, an accused internet user who pays the $20 may be released from liability for THAT instance of infringement, but the next time they catch that user downloading, they can not only sue for the full $150,000 (or ask for TENS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS as a settlement), but in court, they would use the prior settlement as EVIDENCE OF GUILT that the accused defendant habitually downloads copyrighted videos and TV shows.
To be clear: EVERY settlement agreement for copyright infringement should have language stating that the accused defendant is not admitting guilt, or else the act of settling a copyright infringement claim can be construed as an “admission” of guilt in a court. Specifically, the language (e.g., taken from CEG-TEK’s settlements) would say something like “this Liability Release represents a compromise and that nothing herein is to be construed as an admission of liability on the part of RELEASEE.” This language appears to be purposefully ABSENT from the RightsCorp Settlement Agreements.
For this reason, it is difficult for me to suggest hiring a third party / attorney and paying one of us to anonymously settle a $20 matter, BUT it is my opinion that the RightsCorp settlements are simply dangerous to your legal rights.
There're more interesting articles about Rightscorp at TorrentFreak.

And a reddit discussion: Recently received infringement notices from ISP linking me to Digital Rights Corp. -- Faced with 12 infringement notices each for $20. Paid two of them before learning the facts. Next steps?

For Canadians: Canadian Movie & Music Pirates to Be 'Fined' Without Court Orders | TorrentFreak

ETA: Judge: IP-Address Is Not a Person and Can't Identify a BitTorrent Pirate | TorrentFreak

Saturday, March 22, 2014

on "Oginga Odinga of Kenya", one of Malcolm X's favorite songs

I had heard that "Oginga Odinga of Kenya" was one of Malcolm X's favorite songs, so I went looking and found two versions:

Gail Falk wrote about it in Freedom Songs,
My favorite Oginga Odinga tells about the State Department’s ill fated effort to show Kenyan official Oginga Odinga in 1963 that race relations in the United States were really fine. The State Dept. included Atlanta on its tour (after all, it was supposed to be the City Too Busy to Hate) and put Odinga up at the Peachtree Manor, one of the only integrated hotels in the city.  SNCC staff heard about Odinga being in town and went to visit him with the purpose of giving him a different perspective. They invited the Kenyan to accompany them to the Toddle House restaurant, right next to the hotel, where they were refused service because of their race, and a number of people were arrested for sitting in. Odinga realized he had been given a “whitewashed” version of American race relations. He taught the SNCC workers the Swahili word for freedom, which is the chorus of the song: Uhuru, Uhuru, Freedom Now, Freedom Now.
The Freedom Singers recorded it in the '60s, so maybe I'll find a copy of that someday. But here they are doing another of their songs with the Obamas singing along:

And not related, but found in the search, another example of why I admire Malcolm X so much:

on Douglas Lain's 'Billy Moon'

This is not a book to read when you want to read a book like another kind of book. It should be shelved under "literature and fiction" because the people who go to the science fiction and fantasy section are not looking for a book like this, though some of them will be very happy when they find it. Douglas Lain is a great writer, but when I try to figure out how to recommend this book, I'm at a loss, because Billy Moon's characteristics are strengths or weaknesses depending on what you're looking for. I searched for other reviews to see if I could simply recommend one, and I came away thinking they're all fair, the positive ones and the negatives ones. Trying simply to be as clear as possible, I'll say that for me, the book is fascinating without being compelling, so I read it in bits over several weeks. Whether I would've found it compelling if I'd taken the time to read it quickly I don't know, but it isn't the sort of book that makes me rearrange my schedule or stay up all night. It's a book about love and honor and responsibility and reality and family and revolution that looks at those things quietly and quirkily. Lain reminds me a little of Chesterton and Vonnegut in ways I can't explain. Here's a review that may be as good as any if you want to know a little more: Douglas Lain's 'Billy Moon' | Portland Monthly.

ETA: For a couple more takes by readers with different tastes:

Book Review: ‘Billy Moon’ by Douglas Lain | Blogcritics

Book Review: Billy Moon by Douglas Lain | Marxist-Humanist Initiative

ETA 2: Library Review gave it a lovely writeup and made it their Debut of the Month: Science Fiction & Fantasy Reviews | August 2013.

Has Jim C. Hines addressed RAINN's refutation of "rape culture"?

I was thinking about fandom's culture wars and remembered Jim C. Hines' What is Rape Culture? when I read It’s Time to End ‘Rape Culture’ Hysteria | The crucial bits:
RAINN urges the White House to “remain focused on the true cause of the problem” and suggests a three-pronged approach for combating rape: empowering community members through bystander intervention education, using “risk-reduction messaging” to encourage students to increase their personal safety, and promoting clearer education on “where the ‘consent line’ is.” It also asserts that we should treat rape like the serious crime it is by giving power to trained law enforcement rather than internal campus judicial boards.
RAINN is especially critical of the idea that we need to focus on teaching men not to rape — the hallmark of rape culture activism. Since rape exists because our culture condones and normalizes it, activists say, we can end the epidemic of sexual violence only by teaching boys not to rape.
No one would deny that we should teach boys to respect women. But by and large, this is already happening. By the time men reach college, RAINN explains, “most students have been exposed to 18 years of prevention messages, in one form or another.” The vast majority of men absorbs these messages and views rape as the horrific crime that it is. So efforts to address rape need to focus on the very small portion of the population that “has proven itself immune to years of prevention messages.” They should not vilify the average guy.
Hmm. Have any of the warriors addressed that?

See also:

RAINN: stop blaming "rape culture" and blame individuals—a post especially for social justice warriors

debunking rape culture theory, a linkfest

David Lisak on rape and rape culture

pragmatists vs ideologues: on rape culture theorists and Jim C. Hines.

Monday, March 17, 2014

the all-enveloping confabulation of social justice warriors

The Unpersuadables: Why Smart People Believe Crazy Theories - The Daily Beast: "“If a person’s set of beliefs all cohere, it means that they are telling themselves a highly successful story. It means that their confabulation is so rich and deep and all-enveloping that almost every living particle of nuance and doubt has been suffocated. Which says to me, their brains are working brilliantly,” Storr writes, “and their confabulated tale is not to be trusted.” "

This seems especially pertinent in light of the identitarian love of narrative and subjectivity.

Friday, March 14, 2014

the primitive drumming of my people

Because St. Patrick's is coming up, the dance class did an Irish tune. I was, as usual, a little lost at the beginning, but I think I caught on reasonably well by the end of the song. It made me think about rhythms, and how people used to talk about "primitive" African drumming, which is actually extraordinarily complex—European rhythms are primitive.

If you want to research this, you could start at Polyrhythm - Wikipedia: "In traditional European ("Western") rhythms, the most fundamental parts typically emphasize the primary beats. By contrast, in rhythms of sub-Saharan African origin, the most fundamental parts typically emphasize the secondary beats. This often causes the uninitiated ear to misinterpret the secondary beats as the primary beats, and to hear the true primary beats as cross-beats. In other words, the musical "background" and "foreground" may mistakenly be heard and felt in reverse—Peñalosa (2009: 21)."

The cowardice of the "safe space" and the courage of engagement

I recently tweeted,
If Rosa Parks had been a social justice warrior, she would've demanded a safe space for people of color at the back of the bus.
I didn't think I had much else to say about safe spaces, but I just saw this comment from Brad R. Torgerson:
...the only winning move (with Scalzi and Whatever) is not to play.

It might be different if Scalzi ever stepped beyond his “safe space” in order to defend himself and his invective in an environment where he isn’t lord of the manor. But because Scalzi has created a “safe space” in which he never has to be made to feel demonstrably wrong for any length of time longer than it takes him to ban/deride a critic, he is not what I’d call an honest participant in the larger cultural, political, and philosophical debate. He needs his “safe space” too much.

Which is probably why most people (on Scalzi’s side of this) make such a noise about “safe spaces”, in all kinds of different arenas. They have concluded that any forum for interactivity that does not immediately affirm them — and all of their many smelly little orthodoxies and prejudices — is not “safe”, and therefore they will go to great lengths to whine about, pester, or attack, anyone who does not enable them in their need to be “safe.”
The safe space is an echo chamber, and nothing more.

Well, it can be a place for segregation, of course. I've been amused for years that WisCon is so racist that people of color need a safe space there. I recently saw this (click to biggen):

If I was a white racist on a college campus, I would be creating "a space for white folks to meet and work on racism, white supremacy, and white privilege" and put this sign up:

The shared sensibilities of segregationists remind me of Tom Metzger of the White Aryan Resistance addressing the Black Panthers:

He talks admiringly of Marcus Garvey and the Nation of Islam, and refers to the time the American Nazis spoke to NOI:

Call it a safe space if you want, but segregation is segregation. I pray I'll always choose dangerous spaces.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

on spoilers

Just left this comment at Why I refuse to watch movies without spoilers:
What spoilers spoil are the artist's intention of how the story should be revealed and the audience's initial experience of the art. Because I respect both of those things, I don't care how old something is—I won't spoil it. If you don't know what Oedipus Rex is about, read or watch it before someone rushes in to tell you. 
​The thing I hate most about people who spoil is their attitude. I'm not sure which are worse, the ones who're gleeful or the ones who're indifferent, but neither think it's wrong to deprive someone of an experience. 
That said, I believe in consensual activities, so if a spoiler and a person who likes to be spoiled find each other, I'm happy for both of them.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Clara Zetkin, founder of International Women's Day, on solidarity

Clara Zetkin, socialism and women's liberation | "The proletariat will be able to attain its liberation only if it fights together without the difference of nationality and profession. In the same way, it can attain its liberation only if it stands together without the distinction of sex. The incorporation of the great masses of proletarian women in the liberation struggle of the proletariat is one of the prerequisites for the victory of the socialist idea and for the construction of a socialist society." —Clara Zetkin

Thursday, March 6, 2014

feminists versus daughters

I am often struck by the extreme unpopularity of feminism today given that the vast majority of people support the traditional feminist goals of equal pay and equal respect. And then I think about the two recent scifi kerfuffles and the dismay of the daughters of Jonathan Ross and Sean Fodera, and I think I need wonder no more.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Belle Knox, aka the Duke University Porn Star

I was inspired to write by Elizabeth Stoker's This Duke University Porn Thing, which applies her version of Christian ethics, which I generally like, to the story of Belle Knox, the 18-year-old would-be porn star who has been outed and harassed at Duke University. Stoker made me want to look at the story simply as a socialist.

Like renting space in your womb or being a medical test subject, sex work is one of the purest forms of capitalism. The only ways you could more literally sell your body would be to sell your organs.

From the simplest socialist point of view, workers are united. Insulting a sex worker is no different than insulting a dock worker.

But there's also Marx's notion of alienation to consider. His idea is that our labor and our sense of self are separated when we work for someone else's profit rather than for what we think is fun or necessary. Which means porn stars are alienated in the most extreme sense. They're alienated from their bodies.

I watched a couple of Belle Knox's tapes. The fascinating and sad one claims to be her first interview to do porn—the real interview probably happened before, when she agreed to be on camera. The interviewer notices she cut herself in the past, and she says she did it because she thought she was fat. That moment changes the story from "this is a cute woman who likes rough sex" to "this is a human who has hurt her body in the past and is now selling it."

I won't draw an easy conclusion. But I want a world where no one wants to hurt themselves, and no one wants to make porn for any reason other than the love of making porn.

Update: Bully who outed Duke porn star has his porn preferences publicized | Bed Post | Creative Loafing Tampa

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dance is changing my idea of female beauty

My standard for female beauty was probably set when I was ten or twelve and first saw Diana Rigg in The Avengers:

I don't mean racially. My standard for female beauty includes Michelle Yeoh:

and Pam Grier:

and Buffy Sainte-Marie:

and a great many women with dark hair and bodies that look tall and strong, on-screen, anyway. But since I've started dancing, I'm finding shorter and heavier women attractive too. I'm sure it's the effect Laci Green describes, the consequence of paying attention to more kinds of women:

It's a cliché, but the most attractive thing a person can do is smile. Right now, I'd say the second is dance. Dancing, like smiling, can be completely goofy and completely enchanting.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

if you're curious about what Noah Berlatsky's doing

I saw Captain Confederacy was being discussed at The Confederate Superheroes of America « The Hooded Utilitarian, so I popped over, then made the mistake of reading the comments. Noah Berlatsky said,
So…Will Shetterly is the same guy who is now a somewhat infamous internet troll, right?
Must be the same guy. Runs around explaining how race doesn’t matter, it’s all about class and so forth. Lovely.
 I commented,
Yep, that’s me, except Coffeeandink took quotes out of context. I’m also the guy who wrote Dogland, which NPR’s Ellen Kushner called, “A masterwork. A particularly American magic realism that touches the heart of race and childhood in our country; it’s 100 Years of Solitude for an entire generation of American Baby Boomers, and deserves the widest possible audience.” The feministsf wiki said my “work features strong women characters and people of color”. I have never said race doesn’t matter, and the fact Coffeeandink doesn’t quote me saying anything to that effect should be significant. What I have said is that class matters more than race in the modern US, and anyone who thinks Herman Cain’s daughter is oppressed and a homeless white guy is privileged really needs to rethink their understanding of privilege and oppression. Really, criticizing Critical Race Theory is not the same as endorsing racism, denying racism, or thinking that racism is over. 
If you’re interested in a more nuanced take on these things, I recommend googling Adolph Reed Jr.’s “The limits of anti-racism” and the Rev. Thandeka’s “Why Anti-Racism Will Fail”.
Berlatsky said,
Hey Will. I am startled at your appearance, but appreciate your gracious response. Thanks for stopping by.
Okay…so, Will, I’m sorry about this, but I’m somewhat familiar with your actions online, and I’m afraid I’m not comfortable having you as part of this community. I’ve blocked you, and I’d appreciate you not commenting here again.
Again, I do appreciate your civility, and since I brought your name up it was reasonable for you to respond. Since I’m asking you not to post here, I will avoid discussing you in the future.
Along those lines, I’d ask folks not to respond to Will’s post, since he’s not going to be here to reply to it.
Thanks everyone.
I was amused by the notion that I was gracious, but I was being blocked. Some people really can't deal with intellectual disagreement.

So I googled Berlatsky and found Why Doesn’t the Atlantic Fire Noah Berlatsky? | Ted Rall's Rallblog. The quick answer is the Atlantic has plenty of identitarians working for them, perhaps because they share a belief system, perhaps because they produce great clickbait.

Then I checked what Berlatsky had done at the Atlantic and saw 12 Years a Slave: Yet Another Oscar-Nominated 'White Savior' Story.

In case you don't have the immediate reaction to his title that I did, I'll elaborate: He's objecting to a story being historically accurate. I left a comment there, but either I screwed up or he banned me there, too. It basically said that the history of ending slavery is a history of white saviors, because the only successful slave revolt ever was in Haiti. It took a lot of dead white saviors to end slavery in the US, which does not demean the black people who fought for their freedom, but they were outnumbered ten to one. They couldn't win without white saviors. That's just how the system worked.

And in the case of 12 Years a Slave, that's how history worked. I asked him a question I suppose I'll never have answered: Would he have preferred Django Unchained?

ETA: I misremembered where I'd left the comment. Not banned. It's here: What Movies About Slavery Teach Us About Race Relations Today - Noah Berlatsky - The Atlantic.

time to accept my aspieness

About every ten years, I'll come across something about Asperger's, take a test online, find I score in the 30s, wonder if I should get professional testing, then forget about it because a professional would only tell me to accept I'm a bit aspie.

But after reading How Asperger's reignited a passion for art, I'm thinking I need to do more than accept it. I need to embrace it. I need to love my limitations to make them my strengths.

At those times when I wondered about aspieness, I read What is Asperger Syndrome? and found this insightful:
From my clinical experience I consider that children and adults with Asperger’s Syndrome have a different, not defective, way of thinking. The person usually has a strong desire to seek knowledge, truth and perfection with a different set of priorities than would be expected with other people. There is also a different perception of situations and sensory experiences. The overriding priority may be to solve a problem rather than satisfy the social or emotional needs of others. The person values being creative rather than co-operative. The person with Asperger’s syndrome may perceive errors that are not apparent to others, giving considerable attention to detail, rather than noticing the ‘big picture’. The person is usually renowned for being direct, speaking their mind and being honest and determined and having a strong sense of social justice. The person may actively seek and enjoy solitude, be a loyal friend and have a distinct sense of humour. However, the person with Asperger’s Syndrome can have difficulty with the management and expression of emotions. Children and adults with Asperger’s syndrome may have levels of anxiety, sadness or anger that indicate a secondary mood disorder. There may also be problems expressing the degree of love and affection expected by others. Fortunately, we now have successful psychological treatment programs to help manage and express emotions.
The amusing part to me is "social justice". Clearly, it's meant in the broadest sense, but I do wonder how many social justice warriors are aspies.

I am aware that being aspie is dangerous: Man jailed for killing pedestrian with punch.