California lungmeat

Aug. 20th, 2017 02:43 pm
xtingu: (airplanes)
[personal profile] xtingu
Matt and I are SO FRIGGIN' SICK, like lung-meat death-cough no-voice-fever sick. Fun vacation. But right now we're sitting outside on Santa Monica Blvd drinking Philz Coffee, and a douchebag in a convertible drove by cranking "Life in the Fast Lane" and I've never felt more California.

Life is good despite it... though I'm not looking forward to 43 flights in the next 24 hours with clogged ears. (But I am looking forward to watching the eclipse from the plane.)

So much for singing Total Eclipse of the Heart for Southwest Airlines. Can't currently talk.

Boo.

OK, that's it. More later.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Reread.

This is the nth book in McGuire's Toby Daye series. Can't say I recall the exact ordinal, but it's definitely early. Stats with a party, but quickly switches to a quest of sorts, as Sylvester, Duke Torquill, tasks Toby with checking up on the county of Tamed Lightning, headed by his niece, January. Mostly because it's a small place, nested between two domains not quite at war. And nothing had been heard from there for quite a while.

At first, things seem fine, although a smidgen is. But as usual, in Faerie first impressions are not what they seem.

Eminently readable, but I would hesitantly say that this series grows better later. All that said, it is perhaps not a bad place to start, if you're curious. There will be things that have been explained earlier, but the general "the series has hidden mass accumulated" is not nearly as prominent as when you're 6-7 books in.

broken :-( And eclipse! :-)

Aug. 16th, 2017 06:38 pm
ilanarama: my footies in my finnies (snorkeling)
[personal profile] ilanarama
In case you're wondering why I haven't been posting, it's because I'm not doing anything worthy of posting about. Yeah, I had great plans after the Kendall Mountain Run, but maybe I shouldn't have posted, at the end of my race report:
Now, my legs hurt like you wouldn't believe, though I don't think I actually injured anything, just overused the muscles of my quads and glutes. Hopefully everything will feel good by next Saturday, when we head out into the wilderness for a week of backpacking. Then it will be time to turn my exercise attention to mountain biking in preparation for the Telluride-to-Moab ride in September. But I'll still be running 3-4 days a week, including attending the club track workouts, and hopefully by the time October comes around, I'll be ready to run a decent half marathon, and maybe even sign up for a late fall/early winter marathon.
Because in fact I did injure something. Gory details. )

Anyway, that's why I've been boring lately. :-( But in happier news, we'll be driving our camper van to Wyoming to see the eclipse, heading out this weekend! Originally we were going to combine it with some mtb'ing, but obviously if we do any, I'm just going to ride around on a dirt road as I'm not yet ready to switch to the real bike. This will be my second total eclipse, as I saw the March 1970 eclipse with my family:

March 1970 eclipse March 1970 eclipse

Er, I'm the six-year-old moppet wrapped in a blanket. The reason all the telescopes are there is that my father worked for NASA Goddard, and so this was a group of his co-workers and their families, who had all driven to just over the VA-NC line to get to totality.
xtingu: (geek)
[personal profile] xtingu
Suck it, anemia. (Suck up this iron infusion, specifically.) Can't wait to feel better soon. (Don't worry. This is part of normal Jill-maintenance.) #dw

 

This was automatically posted from xtingu's instagram account. the Hooray for computers and IFTTT!

All ironed up... and a new old song

Aug. 15th, 2017 04:55 pm
xtingu: (oh the torture)
[personal profile] xtingu
My friend Anthony Stramaglia (whom I wonder if [personal profile] boutell and [personal profile] jeremym know from the classic computing shows they've gone to?) attended this weekend's house concert, and was kind enough to tape all of the songs. I am SO grateful to him for doing so, because in all of my prepping for the show, I totally forgot to set up something to record the happenings. Anthony is a life-saver and an all-around awesome guy-- he used to run a local BBS back in the day. (Epsilon Process in the hoouuuuussse!)

So this morning he sent out a link to the second Sunnyvale song of the evening; this one is called "The Enemy." This song is an old Evelyn Situation song, and we retooled it for one voice, as opposed to the three voices that sang it back in the day. We dropped the key a step because in the old days Danielle (top voice) sang the melody on the choruses, and now that I'm covering all the parts essentially, we had to drop the key so I could sing the choruses that lay a little higher, as well as the verses (which I always sang because they, like my balls, hung low). (so classy.)

This song was always my favorite Evelyn Situation song. It was written from the perspective of a person who was left behind as their significant other decided she was leaving the "cold cold northeast." (In case you're wondering: Yes, Jeremy knows the song was inspired by him, though he wasn't interviewed before the song was written or anything. Durk just sorta imagined that this is how someone in Jeremy's position might feel.)

Once again, I tried to be extra-dictionny with the words so you could catch them all. In the event you can't, here's a link to the lyrics. (Click "Lyrics" from the cutting-edge 1996 FRAMES web technology, and then choose "The Enemy." (Huge apologies to Tom, whom I can hear cringing from over here! lulz)



If you want to hear what the song sounded like in its original Evelyn Situation format, click here. Cue college-age Jill. Good lord, how I loved that band like it was my only true, true love. And daaamn, how I love how the voices end the song with Danielle resolving to the 7th of all places, because why the hell not.

God damn, I love music.

ps: I wrote this while getting my iron infusion today. It went well. I can already feel the difference. Tomorrow I will be really cooking with gas. I go for a second infusion next week because MOAR MOAR MOAR.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Reread.

Third and most probably final volume of Kress' Probability series. Starts about, oh, 2-3 years after Probability Sun. Again, features and ensemble cast. Again, I can't say jack without spoiling the previous volumes.

And, possibly boringly, again eminently readable.

On the up-side, I am now caught up to "now", having carefully rationed up the last week-and-a-half's write-ups over two days. Go me!
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Reread.

The sequel of Probability Moon in what I have chosen to call (don't recall if there's a proper name) Kress' Probability series.

We continue the multi-viewpoint narrative, as a group of intrepid scientists (and military) return to World, where they expect to be solidly classed as "unreal". Things happen, science is done, setting the scene for the third book of the series.

I wish there was anything cogent I could say about this that would not simply be stomping all over the reading of #1 in the series, but that's pretty much it.

Still, a rather pleasant read, all things considered.
xtingu: (singing)
[personal profile] xtingu
Yes, I know you all know this. But just in case:
Please, PLEASE!! PROTECT YOUR EYES DURING THE SOLAR ECLIPSE. Everyone knows how to make a pinhole camera, but some people erroneously believe that you look at the sun through the hole in the paper. NO NO NO. You look wherever your pinhole camera is projecting the image onto.


Or, you need to get some ISO-certified eclipse-viewing glasses. But PLEASE don't look directly at the eclipse. "But I can look at the regular daytime for a second, so why can't I look directly at an eclipse?" BECAUSE YOU CAN'T, OK?

Click here for how to make a pinhole viewer.

House Concert in NJ with Sunnyvale and Hot Breakfast!


In other news, we were up in NJ at my folks' place on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday this weekend, because Hot Breakfast!, along with Sunnyvale, co-billed on a house concert in north Jersey at my brother's house. ("Sunnyvale" is our new bi-coastal musical project which includes me, Matt, and my pre-Matt lifelong musical collaborator Andrew Durkin. We play Andrew's compositions-- some are retooled versions of old Evelyn Situation tunes, and some are brandy-new compositions.) Andrew lives in Portland (OR) but was out east taking care of some family stuff, so we decided to try to play a show while he was out east. We also used this house concert as a way to honor Paul's memory. After Paul's memorial service in January, we all vowed to stay in touch... so we called everyone together to hear these Sunnyvale tunes which were all songs inspired by Paul's passing, or songs Paul had some input while Andrew wrote them, or songs that Paul had played on back in The Evelyn Situation days.   Hello, house concert! It was attended by my and Andrew's and my brother's overlapping high school friends; some I hadn't seen in eons.  

Here's a video of the first Sunnyvale tune of the night, called "Blood and Bone." It's my favorite of our Sunnyvale new tunes. I sing a bit more "legit" (meaning "treat these songs more like an art song rather than a pop song." Or, more precisely, find someplace in between art-song and pop-song) with Sunnyvale songs as opposed to the "always huge voice, all the time, always with a knowing wink" with Hot Breakfast.  It's sincere. Since I was mic-less for this, I really tried to focus on my diction because I wanted everyone to catch every word. I might have over-done it... I was nervous as hell, mostly because I wasn't able to get through a lot of these songs in rehearsal because I kept crying. (Plus, many of these songs are brandy-new and I've only sung them once before. Or never.)

I fucking LOVE this song so much; it's in 6/4 which just gives it this hypnotizing droney feel... but then I love how the piano part and the vocal intertwine with his majestic right-hand thing with the vocal's wordless "ooohs."  And then the bridge goes into a quicker 4/4 time as it talks about remembering how it feels like to be a child on the family vacation, and just *being.* 1

OK, now here's the video of the first Sunnyvale tune of the night, called "Blood and Bone." It's my favorite of our new tunes. (Music starts around 1:10. Feel free to forward through my thank-yous and the backstory.)



(I don't know if that YouTube video embed worked above, so if it didn't, you can click here to watch the video.)

Lizzie!


What else. Lizzie rehearsals continue to go well. The girl playing Lizzie hasn't been at the last few rehearsals because she was wrapping up another play, and then she caught the plague, poor thing. But the other cast members have been doing good work, and Lizzie will plug right in, no doubt.​​​​​​​ I still think we're on task for a

Stop! Iron Time!


In other news, I'm currently getting my first-of-two iron infusions. Hook me UP! And then Wednesday we leave for California to visit Patty and to see one of Matt's plays at the Little Fish Theater in San Pedro/Los Angeles... and then we fly home during the eclipse. Wooooot! We'll be home late on the 21st.

So that's the latest!

If you've emailed me ([personal profile] shellefly​​​, [personal profile] ms_violet​​​​​​, [personal profile] boutell​​​​​​), I know I owe you a reply. I'll reply soon, I promise.

Xoxo!

Jill-o


_____________

1 How the hell did I get so lucky to get to sing the songs that Andrew writes? It was just right-place-right-time -- If Andrew wasn't on my bus on that band trip in 1986, he never would have heard me sing, and he never would have asked to work together. And then none of the Area Code (201) / Brooklyn Ferry/ Evelyn Situation/ Jay's Booming Hat / Industrial Jazz Group bands ever would have happened. Which then means that I wouldn't have had the musical taste and experience that makes me me... which means I wouldn't have been the right fit to sing Matt's music in either the "Matt needs backing vocals for his solo record(s)" to "holy crap, playing as a duo is fun, let's do this more" days, up to and through to the Casarino Royale and now to the present Hot Breakfast! days. And now I get to make music with these two absolutely It's all right-place-right-time... and once again, I am the luckiest girl in the world. THANK YOU, UNIVERSE.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Reread.

It's been a few years since I read this, I think. All in all, eminently readable.

We're flipping between viewpoint characters, sometimes we're following Enli pek Brimmidin (I am now unsure if it's "pek" or "Pek"), a woman from World who's been declared temporarily unreal, for having done unreal things, thus violating Reality.

Sometimes, we're following one of a few Earth scientists, on World, trying to figure out things like "how does shared Reality work" and "that mountain over there is mighty strange, I wonder why". And we also have a bunch of Earth military going "that is not a moon, it's an artefact!"[*].

All in all, eminently readable, happy I decided it was the next to push into the queue.

[*] That may look like, but isn't, a spoiler. You're told this in the first 15-20 pages, IIRC.

What I saw at Worldcon 75

Aug. 14th, 2017 06:05 pm
ewx: (Default)
[personal profile] ewx
 

Things I attended included...

  • Appeal of the Bland Protagonist. I remember only that Robert Silverberg was fairly entertaining.
  • The Long Term Future of the Universe & How to Avoid It. I don’t think we got as far as proton decay. Entertaining but I don’t think I learned much.
  • Polyamorous Relationships in Fiction. I think a fair few examples given but I don’t really remember much about this.
  • What Science Can Tell Us About Alien Minds. This was largely a very well-pitched survey of what we know about minds and brains and their development here, with the implications for the alien underlined. Excellent.
  • New, More Diverse Superheroes. Something that’s been improving lately. Many of the examples were familiar. Slightly surprised that Vimanarama wasn’t mentioned, it can’t be that obscure?
  • How to Tell the Ducks from the Rabbits. This covered some unpublished research modelling some perceptual effects we find in human vision. Ian Stewart is a good speaker.
  • Cyberpunk and the Future. Fairly rambling but quite entertaining and IIRC avoided the trap of falling into a laundry list of recommendations which can sometimes happen.
  • New Publishing. A couple of models I didn’t know about (though ‘run publisher as a co-operative’ doesn’t seem conceptually new) but I didn’t get a sense that any particular model was about to set the world on fire. Apparently ebook sales are declining as a proportion of the total, which surprised me.
  • Supermassive Black Holes. A quick survey of how black holes work (which didn’t contain many surprises) followed by some new stuff: the GR-aware visualization of a black hole made for Interstellar, corrections to it involving red/blue shifting and the spin of the black hole, a further visualization of what you’d see as you flew into one (assuming you destroyed by any of the many hazards) and a project to radio image out galaxy’s central black hole. Another excellent science talk.
  • Hugo Awards. Very glad to see Monstress winning Best Graphic Story.
  • Beyond the Goldilocks Zone. Panel about the possibilities for exoplanets that sustain life. One point I’d not previously been aware of was that although Europa-style bodies might (hypothetically) have life in sub-ice oceans, there’s no realistic way of detecting this from a distance, meaning that more earth-like planets are a better bet for analysis. (The “goldilocks zone” is the range of distances from a given star in which planets can support liquid water on their surface, making them a good bet for life.)
  • Gender and “Realistic History”. The panel largely surveyed past examples of groups and behaviors sometimes thought to have been absent or rare in the past. Interesting listening.
  • Exoplanetary Zoo and The Search for Earth 2.0. Another excellent science talk, this time on the detection strategies for exoplanets and the results they’ve had so far. There are a lot of exoplanet discoveries awaiting confirmation.
  • Language Creation. David Peterson (famous for the conlangs from Game Of Thrones) described the basics of making a convincing sketch conlang. A very entertaining speaker.
  • The Singularity: Transhuman Intelligence in Fiction and Futurism. An opportunity for Charlie Stross to steal the show. Fun.
  • Bullets in Space. Basic orbital mechanics, done fairly well. The basic proposition is that ballistic projectiles are a terrible idea when fighting in an orbit; if they miss the target they are probably going to hit something you didn’t want them to.
  • Tomorrow’s Cool SF Physics. Enjoyed it but don’t remember anything else about it.
  • Designing Life. Fun discussion of biotechnological possibilities for modifying and creating life.
  • Ideas Crossing the World: Japanese Adaptations of Western Fantasy. In practice I think this mostly amounted to an opportunity for the panellists to entertain with their encyclopaedic knowledge of manga and anime.

...there were other things but I can’t remember enough to say anything about them.

vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Previously unread.

This is an entry out of sequence, but there's too much to clean up to make it worth sorting numbers out, sorry.

Where was I? Ah, yes, this is set in the same fictional universe as Seeing Red, but takes a completely different tack. We follow a young woman, who after a very mysterious aviation accident find herself not at ALL in her familiar Australia, but in a hilly, rain-foresty elsewhere. Adventure and perhaps a little romance happens, and so forth.

I suspect it's one of those that grow with repetitions, but even so I found it quite readable with a sense of "OK, now what?" when over and a "just a few more pages..." when reading.

Claims to be a first in the (sub?) series it's in, Return of the Aghyrians.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Reread.

Second book in Mckenna's Tales of Einarinn series. We continue the narrative style from installment #1, where we have a primary POV character using the first person and occasionally having other viewpoint characters, where the third person is used.

I am in a little bit of "catch-up" mode at the moment, but essentially this was pretty good reading. Perhaps not surprising, as I'm re-reading it. I would hesitantly recommend starting with the first book, but I think this would work just fine as an entry-point.

One year of cycling, installment #2

Aug. 13th, 2017 01:25 pm
rbarclay: (rad)
[personal profile] rbarclay
For background look here.

Anyway: 6,092.2km, €0.58/km.
xtingu: (geek)
[personal profile] xtingu
Instagram: WOOT! What a FUN #houseconcert! Our hearts are so full. A billion thanks and tons of love to @secondtino, @serenitymo, @emilyknappp, and @jackknappphoto for hosting us and @industrialjazzgroup tonight. We are some lucky dorks. #dorkrock #hbfb #dw
This was automatically posted. Hooray for computers and IFTTT!

Struck by lightning

Aug. 11th, 2017 07:18 pm
rbarclay: (donald)
[personal profile] rbarclay
No, not me, but one of the trees in our garden. Interestingly enough, not one of the bigger trees around, maybe 3.5m where 30m further there are 20-25m high ones, and just ~7m from the houses lightning rod (6m high).
Fell on one of the in-laws cars, but no discernible damage. Just one electric garden lantern was knocked over.

https://youtu.be/AIvUQlC2Zsk

Naming the problem

Aug. 10th, 2017 12:22 pm
tim: text: "I'm not offended, I'm defiant" (defiant)
[personal profile] tim
This is a follow-up to my article "Refusing to Empathize with Elliot Rodger: Taking Male Entitlement Seriously".

As I mentioned initially, Lundy Bancroft lists a number of tactics abusive men use in conversations. In Why Does He Do That?, he notes that when one of the abusers he works with attempts to use one of these tactics on him or another group participant, and Bancroft calmly names which tactic it is instead of reacting, the abuser usually gets even angrier. So in that spirit, I thought I would compile a list of responses to my article and classify them according to the abuse tactics they use.

Here is a subset of Bancroft's list of conversational abuse tactics in p. 145-146 (n.b. all page-number references are to Why Does He Do That?)

  1. Sarcasm
  2. Ridicule
  3. Distorting what you say (this was one of the most common responses I saw, in which the interlocutor would make up a caricature of what I wrote and then attack that, instead of engaging with the actual ideas).
  4. Accusing you of doing what he does, or thinking the way he thinks (AKA projection, as discussed on p. 142)
  5. Using a tone of absolute certainty and final authority -- "defining reality":
    When Mr. Right decides to take control of a conversation, he switches into his Voice of Truth, giving the definitive pronouncement on what is the correct answer or the proper outlook. Abuse counselors call this tactic defining reality. Over time, his tone of authority can cause his partner to doubt her own judgment and come to see herself as not very bright. (p. 82)
  6. Not listening, refusing to respond -- I've rephrased this as "dismissal", since the original list was concerned with in-person conversations where one person can literally ignore the other. Online, the equivalent of this is not ignoring, but replying in a way that doesn't at all engage with the content, rather labeling it in ways that create negative sentiment without actually trying to refute ideas. Dismissal is not ignoring (it's great when people ignore things they don't like or don't care about!) -- the effort that the abuser puts in to communicate "I didn't read this, I didn't think it was worth reading, but I'm still going to attack it" shows that it is important to them that the person being abused not be heard. (Compare Kathy Sierra's "Trouble at the Kool-Aid Point" and my own previous discussion of false dismissal.)
  7. Changing the subject to his grievances
  8. Provoking guilt
  9. Playing the victim
  10. Name-calling, insults, put-downs. I'm calling out "insulting intelligence" as its own subcategory:
    The abuser tends to see his partner as less intelligent, less competent, less logical, and even less sensitive than he is.... He often has difficulty conceiving of her as a human being. (p. 63)
    One of the primary rhetorical weapons used against underrepresented people in tech is that we're not intelligent, and indeed, that was a large part of what made the original manifesto abusive.
  11. Threatening to harm you
There are others, but I listed the ones that are most relevant to online conversations. And I would add two more:
  • Demanding explanation, where the interlocutor asks for more justification either in ways that make it clear they didn't read the entire piece, or didn't read it carefully, or don't actually want to debate and are just asking in order to steal attention. Sort of like a human denial-of-service attack. The person demanding explanation is like the type of abuser Bancroft describes as "Mr. Right":
    "Mr. Right tries to sanitize his bullying by telling me, 'I have strong opinions' or 'I like debating ideas.' This is like a bank robber saying, 'I'm interested in financial issues.' Mr. Right isn't interested in debating ideas; he wants to impose his own." (p. 83)
    "It is frustrating, and ultimately pointless, to argue with someone who is certain beyond the shadow of a doubt that his perspective is accurate and complete and that yours is wrong and stupid. Where can the conversation possibly go?" (p. 144)
    Demanding explanation is abusive because it's deceptive: the abuser who demands an explanation holds out the promise that he is reasonable, he can be persuaded, and the conversation can go somewhere positive if you just explain more. In reality, he is not open to being changed by what he hears, and is just trying to waste your time and/or entrap you for more abuse. Demanding a 1-on-1 conversation also reflects entitlement to the time and attention of the writer, who has already provided plenty of explanation. It is pretty obvious to me when someone is asking questions out of genuine openness to change, and when they're doing it in a rude and entitled way.
  • Gaslighting; Bancroft discusses discrediting extensively (p. 125, p. 146) but doesn't call it out in the above list. "You're too sensitive", "You're overreacting", and -- when not justified, other than by the purported oversensitivity of the writer -- "You can't make that comparison, it's ridiculous" are all forms of gaslighting. They attempt to make the listener doubt their own perceptions and judgment. I included gaslighting comments under "ridicule", but it's worth pointing out that this is a common and insidious form of ridicule, since it seems superficially reasonable (of course we all think that nobody should be too sensitive, or react too much, though the boundary for how sensitive it's acceptable to be is rarely discussed).

The analysis

I read:
  • All of my mentions that were replies to tweets (from me or other people) linking to "Refusing to Empathize with Elliot Rodger, or that linked to the essay without replying to me.
  • Two comments on my Dreamwidth post that were screened and that I deleted.
(I excluded a lot of mentions that could also have gone on this list, but were replies to tweets unrelated to the essay. My favorite one of those, though, was a response to a picture I posted of a display of boxes of LaCroix sparkling water, which said something like "looking for something to drink so you can get fatter?")

The following table lists all but one of the responses, along with the abusive tactics each one employs.

There was one response that didn't use any of the abusive tactics above. It was illogical (blaming Marc Lépine's actions on Islam because Lépine's father was Algerian), but may have been written in good faith, even if it was ignorant.

So in short:

  • 27 critical/negative replies
  • 26 out of 27 use at least one abuse tactic identified by Bancroft; most several
  • The remaining one is illogical / primarily based on religious stereotyping.
  • No substantive criticisms. At all.
I am often wrong, and many times, people have had critical things to say about my writing. Sometimes they were right. Often, they were non-abusive. But something about this essay drew out many abusive responses, while no one had a genuine intellectual criticism. When you call out and name abuse, a way that you can tell that you were right is that the abusers get more abusive. I'm sure there are places where this essay falls short, logically, or could be better expressed. But no one has pointed them out.

CW: verbally abusive comments; slurs )

Conclusion

The dominance of abuse in the negative responses to my piece doesn't prove I'm right, of course. It doesn't prove there's no good argument against my core theses, and it doesn't prove I didn't make any mistakes. But given that a lot of people were so eager to debunk my article, if there was a good argument, don't you think one of them might have found one?

I think giving names to abusive conversational patterns is extremely powerful and I think it's important to distinguish between criticism and abuse, and notice when the only thing people can seem to muster up in response to anti-abuse discourse is more abuse.

tim: "System Status: Degraded" (degraded)
[personal profile] tim
[Content warnings: Discussion of domestic violence, suicide, and verbal abuse, including specific misogynist slurs and more general sexist gaslighting strategies.]

In 1989, Marc Lépine murdered fourteen women in Montreal for being women and being engineering students. He proceeded to kill himself, having written in his suicide note:

"Would you note that if I commit suicide today 89-12-06 it is not for economic reasons (for I have waited until I exhausted all my financial means, even refusing jobs) but for political reasons. Because I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their Maker.... Being rather backward-looking by nature (except for science), the feminists have always enraged me. They want to keep the advantages of women (e.g. cheaper insurance, extended maternity leave preceded by a preventative leave, etc.) while seizing for themselves those of men." (quoted by Wikipedia)

More recently, in 2014, Elliot Rodger murdered six people near the UC Santa Barbara campus. Rodger also killed himself, citing his feelings of social rejection by women as the reason for his crime:

"I'm 22 years old and I'm still a virgin. I've never even kissed a girl. I've been through college for two and a half years, more than that actually, and I'm still a virgin. It has been very torturous. College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. Within those years, I've had to rot in loneliness. It's not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It's an injustice, a crime.... I don't know what you don't see in me. I'm the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.... How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me?" -- (Rodger's manifesto, quoted by Wikipedia)

Did Lépine and Rodger have some good points? Did they have valid grievances regardless of the regrettable way in which they both chose to express those grievances (mass murder)? I hope you won't have to think too hard before saying "no". Neither Lépine's sense of entitlement to social privileges, nor Rodger's sense of entitlement to sex and racial status, are reasonable.

In Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Lundy Bancroft (a counselor who co-founded the first program for abusive men in the US and has worked with abusive men for many years) shows that domestic abusers don't abuse because of their feelings, because they're out-of-control or angry, or because they are mentally ill or influenced by substances. They abuse because of their thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes, which create a coherent justification for abuse -- largely through beliefs that they are entitled to something from a woman, and are morally justified in punishing her if she doesn't provide it.

"...an abuser's core problem is that he has a distorted sense of right and wrong." (Bancroft, p. 35)

Likewise, Lépine believed that he had a right to a job and that women were oppressing him by being better job candidates than him. Rodger believed that he had a right to sex and that women were oppressing him by not sleeping with him. By killing women, they hoped to send a message to all women that interfering with men's wishes was dangerous. They killed in cold blood, uninfluenced by mental illness or uncontrollable rage. Both crimes were premeditated; both killers had moral theories that justified their actions. We know about those moral theories because both men wrote about them. The positions that men have a right to jobs and women do not, and that men have a right to sex and women have a moral obligation to provide it to men who want it, are political opinions. I hope it's obvious to you that these political opinions are wrong.

Last week, a manifesto written by a Google engineer surfaced; the manifesto resembles those of Rodger's and Lépine's, and you can [CW: explicit sexism, racism, and various other *isms, as well as gaslighting and manipulation] read it for yourself. The manifesto tells a subset of people who work at Google, "Your presence here is illegitimate and you don't belong." I know that's the message because I'm one of those people: I'm a trans man and thus, according to the document, am biologically worse at engineering than cis men like its author (although it's not exactly clear whether the author thinks that cis women's uteruses make them worse at coding -- in which case my skills would come into question -- or whether their hormones do -- in which case I'd be in the clear, phew!)

The manifesto expresses thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that are common to its author, Lépine, Rodger, and the domestic abusers Bancroft describes. It is written from a place of entitlement: like Lépine and Rodger but unlike some of the domestic abusers, the entitlement is not to just one specific woman's attention and service, but rather, to special privileges as white men and to submission and deference from all women, and all people of color, and everybody else occupying a lower position in the social hierarchy. Like Lépine, he's concerned that they're taking our jobs.

In response, Google's VP of Diversity, Integrity, and Governance -- in an email to all Google employees with the subject line "Affirming our commitment to diversity and inclusion—and healthy debate" -- said, "Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws." Other executives expressed disagreement with the message in the manifesto while agreeing that the author had a good point about the "psychologically unsafe environment" for people with political beliefs like his. Some managers reiterated that it was important to be able to share different points of view at Google. In other words: he was wrong to say these things, but you can't help but sympathize with the poor guy -- he felt persecuted for his political views.

When you say that the manifesto writer had a point, you are saying that Rodger and Lépine had a point.

"...the abuser's problem lies above all in his belief that controlling or abusing his female partner is justifiable." (Bancroft, p. 35)
In the rest of this essay, I'm addressing you if you think the views in the manifesto are wrong but that the author has some valid points, or that the manifesto is a valuable contribution to healthy debate. I want to show you that these views need to be shut down, not debated with or sympathized with. I am not addressing people who substantially agree with the content of the manifesto. If that's you, then you might as well stop reading right here.

Read more... )

July 2017

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