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But I have nothing to read no longer an excuse
So what's the difference? Following on vapidave's point, great SF gives me a quirky idea that I can roll around in my thoughts for a few days. Literature like Slaughterhouse shakes me up and sometimes I can't read anything for days.

While I am absolutely a descriptivist ("science fiction is whatever we point at when we say science fiction"...although that gets readily out of hand, I guess) and of course you're free to consider anything you... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 4:38 AM on September 4, 2014
(As far as the "what is science fiction" question:

That's one of my favorite questions! And it's not as simple to resolve as you think. I'd argue that many people have an unconsidered definition of science fiction as "set in the future, involves technology, not psychologically realistic, not concerned with form or experimental use of language, possibly concerned with ethics in a crude way, a purely commercial entertainment genre". But that's a... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:08 AM on September 4, 2014
No, Melville settled that question when he intentionally left the chapter about Moby Dick being a post-human artificial intelligence from an alternate future where whales had wiped out humanity out of his original manuscript.

If I were going to argue that Moby Dick were science fiction, I'd make some kind of argument about the whale being basically an SFnal monster and I'd probably make some argument about how the various foreign places and cultures in... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:47 AM on September 4, 2014
Another factor in terms of the list's race and gender make-up: with some exceptions (Butler, Delany) work by women and people of color has been small press and small run, with few reprints. Until very recently, for instance, most of Joanna Russ's work was out of print. Delany got some big reprints starting in the nineties, but even though he's a HUGE name in the field, it could be hard to find copies of even some of his better known works before about 1998. Butler never... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:16 PM on September 4, 2014

Three Pie Charts That Prove You Shouldn't Slack Off in College
It's worth noting that the writer appears to consider people "adrift" if they are not making more than $40,000 a year within two years of graduation. I broke $40,000 about twelve years after graduation and - with the various wage freezes since at work - don't make much more than that now, several years on. I consider myself incredibly lucky, since I make more than almost all my peers - who all have degrees, some advanced. I have more degrees than you can shake a stick at, myself.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:10 PM on September 3, 2014

Publish or PERISH!!!
Oh, so cute! Their tiny plastic grant budget problems!!!

When the lego adminstrators set comes out, they can have one where the Lego administrators eyeball the lecture nibbles and consider the number of attendees at the start of of the lecture to determine whether enough will be left over for the Lego administrators' lunch. And they can have the lego administrators go to a meeting where they try to convince the lego academics that they really do have to fill out the... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 3:50 PM on September 1, 2014
Perhaps we need to two lego administrators sets - one contains secretaries, accountants and the person who makes sure that your equipment line is backed out of the indirect costs (there aren't quite enough of those sets to go round, which is why the lego academics have to make their own copies) and the other comes individually boxed and costs as much as several tiny plastic flow cytometers.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 4:20 PM on September 1, 2014

Has science fiction lost the plot?
Actually, one thing I notice about a lot of post-collapse dystopias - they are really utopias because the Big Intractable Bad (global capitalism, the surveillance state) has broken down. Small groups of local heroes can overthrow the local bad, but don't have a prayer against global capitalism. We're living in a world that - despite the deeps of the sea and the depths of space - is mapped and known in incredible detail. We're living in a world where global capitalism... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:06 AM on September 1, 2014

SPOOOOON!
Oh my god, the animated part where the Tick says to Arthur while they are dangling from a rope and need to build momentum, "Swing with me, Arthur, swing!" - and then swing music starts playing, OMG, that alone almost makes me feel that there's some worth to humans.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:40 PM on August 31, 2014

"The English," GK Chesterton wrote, "love a talented mediocrity."
I wonder if he's read Orwell's smaller work - the As I Please columns and so on. I actually like those a lot better - and return to them much more often - than his bigger work and certainly his novels and most of the "big" essays.

For me the main thing about Orwell is that you get such a strong sense of him as a person from his minor work - judgy, an immense jerk about a lot of stuff, kind of sexist, kind of homophobic, kind of racist, and yet for the most... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:38 AM on August 31, 2014
The thing is, of course, that Orwell is the old original born with a purpose. He's writing to do things - his big essays are intended as interventions that will achieve something, like his letters to Partisan Review are intended to sway American opinion, and his essays about Englishness are intended to help create a post-war socialist consensus, and his BBC broadcasts are intended both to create some ground for Indian independence and to keep India "on the side" of... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:55 AM on August 31, 2014
Along with the race hatred, there’s another obvious feature of this intro: the way it dramatizes Orwell himself, a sensitive young white man alone in a crowd of evil aliens. That habit of dramatizing himself never changes. It’s a constant in Orwell’s work; the only difference is that the scene shifts from Burma to Europe, and the hostile crowd consists of fellow intellectuals trying to lure him into one of the orthodoxies they have cravenly embraced.

I... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:01 AM on August 31, 2014

“It’s okay, because someday they’ll all be dead.”
A red clip meant “leave me alone.” A green clip, and you’d soon be making friends.

This is so brilliant. I wish I could wear such kind of clips for everyday interactions.

The whole "old fans versus new" thing really gets me down, because I would love to go to a boring convention that is all about books and academic panels and doesn't involve television, superhero movies or... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:54 PM on August 29, 2014
(I would be shocked - like, really, worldview-upendingly shocked - if the Sherlock showrunners build in an overt romantic relationship. Partly because I am An Old, relatively speaking, and partly because I think that they can make a lot of money by including some fanservice stuff but nothing overt and thus keeping both the fangirl audience and the...er...nonfangirl audience.

You know what I'd really like to see? I'd like to see a version of Sherlock... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 3:07 PM on August 29, 2014

"The problem is I'm black. That's the problem."
At some point in the aftermath, did a reporter ever go back to the clerk who called the cops and ask him why he was being a racist jagoff? It's a minor footnote, but all (justified) cop-blaming here is letting someone else off the hook.

I sure would like someone to follow up with the store clerk, because I'd like to be sure that it was a store clerk, and not the police just lying. I once was present for the whole of an incident... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:16 PM on August 29, 2014
(To clarify my anecdote: the study area was in a location where no one could have seen who was making noise if they were making noise, so the noise complaint itself could not have been motivated by race, and we knew there wasn't any noise; also the security guard told us (sotto voce, since we were white) that he just wanted the guys to move along - even though they were students and it was basically public space.)
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:18 PM on August 29, 2014
I don't think so. If he'd been wearing an immaculate suit and perfectly groomed, they'd have behaved just the same. Just ask the legions of well-dressed black men who have gotten the same treatment.

Oh, I'm not saying that the cops only single out black men who don't look conservative/formally dressed - it's just been my experience (I've done a little bit of activism about police brutality) that when cops are looking to hassle a black man, they do... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:35 PM on August 29, 2014
Rarely do I pass up an opportunity to stick my nose into the cops' business. If I see a police officer violating some minor law (something that would get a normal person in trouble, like blowing through a stop sign or turning right on red in a no right on red zone or fucking littering in my neighborhood, you fucking asshats) I absolutely call them out on it. If I see them ticketing a car that doesn't appear to have any violations, I will stop angrily ask them why. If I see them... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:42 PM on August 29, 2014
Until about six months later when I was on my way to work and opened the front door to find my yard full of police, some squatted down behind shrubs, some at the edge of the house, and it turned out there were a bunch of them in the back yard and side yards too - all obviously on alert, hands on guns, etc. I was a bit stunned and then one of the two officers on the sidewalk in front of me told me that they'd received a call about an emergency at my house ...... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:47 PM on August 29, 2014

objectification and its effects on women
(The thing is, if your relationship is such that "if you loved me you would have sex with me right now regardless of what you want or how you feel" is primary way of getting sex, you have a bad relationship. There are all kinds of ways to have reasonable amounts of sex in a relationship, from directly negotiating to being in tune enough with each other that you both tend to want to have sex a reasonable amount of the time and are both happy. Believing that you should be able to pull... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:50 AM on August 28, 2014
Maybe the heterosexual dynamics are different. But in my experience with men, it's more than possible to stare at one's partner and be blown away by how beautiful they are without said action being dehumanizing or leading to sexual coercion. I mean, if you're with someone and you love them, part of that love is physical, no?

Partly, it's not as reciprocal between men and women. Women aren't encouraged to evaluate men physically in the same way or to... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:37 AM on August 28, 2014
I was thinking about how I've been "objectified" all my life - even though I have never been sexually attractive to very many men, and now am basically sexually invisible as a butch person of indeterminate gender. But the reason I say that I've been "objectified" is that my worthlessness as a person - to most men - is pretty much all about the fact that I am unfuckable. Most men don't treat other men as worthless/boring/etc because they don't want to fuck... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:24 PM on August 28, 2014
What I was really thinking was "what is objectification", and it occurred to me that "objectifying" is usually framed as "using something as an object of desire" and that's where the confusion comes in, because it's sometimes fun to be desired. So I was thinking about being made into an object, and how that happens to women/non-men-people in all kinds of ways, and that [sexual objectification] is a subset of objectification in general, and can be... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:48 PM on August 28, 2014
IIRC, Freudians were very big on female narcissism, right?

Of course, there's a very simple explanation for female sexual "narcissism" - if you grow up being taught that being desired is the measure of your worth, and you receive almost no models for being actively desiring, and you receive almost no information about actual pleasure in being touched as part of sex, and you receive lots of messages about how most women... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:16 AM on August 29, 2014
And it's worth considering that in the US, at least, straight dudes are not expected to be the objects of desire. The straight male body is very often framed as disgusting, something that women put up with - the official narrative that straight men are hairy and smelly, etc etc., men's legs look gross in shorts, male genitals are smelly and of no interest. And of course, the fact that straight men are virtually always discouraged from any kind of... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:35 AM on August 29, 2014
And one last thought that I meant to include in my previous comment, and then I'll knock it off - there's something really perverse in the "men are so gross" narrative, because it teaches men that women should have to have sex with men who are assumed to be gross and hairy and coarse and incapable of any form of bodily or sexual refinement (because men are "just like that" etc). It's basically saying "sex is categorically not fun for women, because... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:01 AM on August 29, 2014

SRLP and Laverne Cox
Oh my god, that poor little girl in the Connecticut case. I bet there are a hundred queer youth organizations who would work with her to organize housing, therapy and education if she could just be gotten out of state custody. I mean hell, she can come sleep on my sofa.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:00 AM on August 27, 2014
I recently learned that someone I respected a lot as a an anti-prison-pipeline activist had declined to make a statement about Cece MacDonald when the support committee (here in MPLS) had asked her to. I was really disappointed.

At the same time, I want to recognize that Laverne Cox is under a huge, ridiculous amount of pressure to be "the face" for trans women, especially trans women of color, and I could see how that would push someone to bad decisions -... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:40 AM on August 27, 2014
But the thing about CeCe McDonald is that it is possible to say "here is a nice college girl who was in the process of triumphing over adversity when she got jumped by a bunch of white trash racist nazi-sympathizers", and even the TERFs and anti-crime liberals have to deal with that narrative. While I was actually around - and did a very, very teeny-tiny bit of work for - CeCe's support committee and I recognize how incredibly difficult it was to deal with media bias, it's a different... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:11 AM on August 27, 2014
The link that ArmyOfKittens posted provides a lot more thoughtful analysis and brought home for me the ways in which Synthia was almost certainly victimized.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:34 PM on August 27, 2014

Parenting in the Internet Age: The Problem of Porn
So far, I feel like we're talking like "kids" is "boys". (And of course, the linked piece is about a son.)

I surmise that it's going to be a lot more likely that girls will be looking at really standard, male-centric straight (or fake lesbian) porn than that they'll be stumbling across woman-centered porn (even finding, like, yaoi or whatever is a bit of a different process).

Now, this is certainly no... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:17 AM on August 26, 2014
(In the commercial porn that I have seen - which I'd say is a reasonable and representative sample circa maybe five years ago, plus another reasonable and representative sample when I was in my late teens/early twenties - I'd say that my take-away was very much that it is fun for women because they enjoy being objectified and performing female sexuality, whereas it is fun for men because doing whatever sexual act itself is pleasurable. That was what really messed me up, because it took me a... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:06 AM on August 27, 2014
Would it be too chatty to ask what the allure is in the choking/vomiting/blowjob porn? And is one expected to believe that the vomiting is fun for the performer, or is it framed as explicitly not fun? Certain of these extreme things seem like they could be framed as "la la by happy coincidence I am just another woman who enjoys submitting to really aggressive sex that crosses over into choking and weird bodily distortion"* but very few people... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:31 PM on August 27, 2014

"And I’m going to keep doing it, unless you pay me to stop."
There's a public health aspect to this - the more cramped the seating, the more difficult it is for passengers to move enough to prevent blood clots, which are a risk of sitting or lying in a very cramped position for extended periods. To me, this is the strongest argument against "I will recline unless you pay me" - what you're really saying is "unless you are very short, I can recline so that it's difficult for you to move your legs or even get out of your seat, putting you at... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:21 AM on August 27, 2014

I have only the vaguest memory of a life before fear.
I would never in all my life have expected Lena Dunham to write an essay that...hm, had some remote and melancholy parts that seemed not from the age of references-to-commercial-products-and-gentle-self-mockery-via-commercial-activities-engaged-in-during-childhood humor. I would be interested to read what she'll write when she's older.

More than her access to therapy, what jumped out at me was when she talks about furniture shopping with her boyfriend, and they buy a... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:08 AM on August 26, 2014

Escalating Tensions in Ferguson, Missouri
Mass arrests also require somewhere to put people, and someone to watch the people, and someone to process the people, and if the cops don't have the equipment and space to do that, then they have several hundred angry, frightened folks just sitting there. The things that can go wrong are legion - the angry folks rise up, and they either break out (bad from a police perspective) or the cops have to fight them when the odds are poorer and the cops are more likely to need to... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:47 AM on August 20, 2014
Also, it occurs to me that "there are three hundred people including the elderly and children being held at gunpoint in a mass arrest scenario with very little water in the heat AND it is going to take two days to get everyone processed and released" would be a fucking powderkeg situation in the media and on the street. It would give a lot of very upset and frightened non-arrested people time to organize, it would be incredibly bad media, it would probably get a lot... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:51 AM on August 20, 2014

Obviously I'm not sure what happened, and I hate to cast aspersions on anyone, but the same people tweeting about the church raid were also accused of misrepresenting/falsifying events the other night (Monday, iirc).


In these situations, things get really confusing. I once accidentally sent a small group of people out to [a place] based on nothing, because I had received an impassioned phone call from a friend who had gotten some bad... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:50 AM on August 20, 2014
During the G20 in Toronto, a very, very few people smashing windows and setting a cop car on fire provoked an enormous police overreaction and how many people arrested, again? Without charges?

No, "was used as a pretext for". And if there weren't a bottle-thrower, they would have made something up.

I swear to you up and down, I have been in what used to pass for violent protests (ie, no live ammo,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:03 AM on August 21, 2014
(I add that IME if there is one thing that will make the police flip the fuck out and escalate the situation, it would be combat veterans in full gear. I'm not saying that people shouldn't do that, because it's a way of contesting the legitimacy of the police and potentially a powerful symbolic action. I'm just saying that "don't do anything to inspire the police to smash" and "show up in combat gear [even though without weapons" are totally contradictory... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:06 AM on August 21, 2014
Would you have a good idea, then, about how to refer to the small handful of loose cannon protestors who pull that kind of loose-cannon shit? Because on the one hand I absolutely don't want to contribute to a protest-tone-argument thing, but on the other hand I want to be able to call out butt-cranks like this. I nearly got myself trampled to death at a march outside the RNC in 2004 when a group 20 feet behind me set fire to a dragon puppet in the middle of the march and everyone... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:30 AM on August 21, 2014
In Ferguson, young demonstrators are finding it’s not their grandparents’ protest: "“We were trained when we marched. We were taught if they spit on you, just wipe it off and continue marching. But we are dealing with a new breed of youngster. They say, ‘You better not spit on me.’"

And yet, when it was the older generation, just protesting at all was the equivalent of, like, throwing a tear gas canister... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:02 PM on August 22, 2014

Urbanicide
But all these world heritage sites - it wouldn't mean anything if the global economy wasn't changing. If the economy itself wasn't becoming more and more dependent on financialization, more and more unequal and more and more services-for-the-well-off oriented, you could declare all the World Heritage sites you liked and people could still afford to live in the city center. I mean, Minneapolis sure isn't a World Heritage site, but huge chunks of it are ossifying in the same way, becoming... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:56 AM on August 22, 2014

Like taking a cold bath with someone you dislike
The thing is, all of these lean on the idea that "we" have intellectual opinions about Serious Literature, while they - for some value of "they" - are just lazy and ignorant. I mean, obviously, some of them are terrible, like the one of Beloved, but a lot of them are just informal and sort of flippant (like the On The Road one), and I mean really, why not? I could dress up my... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:20 AM on August 22, 2014
I also wonder how many of these were from classes where students were required to write and post reviews.

And honestly, the one where the writer was all "just once I would like a cheerful book in English class" - my god, it was nonstop grim grim grim mid-20th century fiction about people who were totally unself-aware all the way from mid-9th-grade through graduation. You would think that, like, James Thurber, Robertson Davies, Doris Lessing, Maxine Hong... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:25 AM on August 22, 2014
Er, I mean, we read that fiction from 9th grade to graduation. The characters were un-self-aware all their lives.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:27 AM on August 22, 2014
So so glad of the system in my school, which was basically going through the broad outline of Dutch/English literature and a basic understanding of literary tools in class while handing you a list of acceptable books to read for the exams, with the understanding that you had to read for this many points, then knock yourself out. Want to read something not on the list? Make a case for it and you could get it included.

What did you actually do in class?... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:50 AM on August 22, 2014

Club rats, sober alcoholics, the curious crowd, club kids, randoms.
I think a lot depends on how many people want to go dancing sober. In a large city, with the right planning, it might work. For a while I was helping organize a series of benefit events which were de facto sober until about 11pm, because the nerdier part of the crowd would show up early to dance and then leave when it got later and drunkier. (I personally don't really drink and love to dance, but I'm an outlier.)

I think the key... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:12 AM on August 22, 2014

and with a cat like that you know you should be cats
(At our house it has always been "psycho-kitten, qu'est-ce que c'est/meow meow meow meow, meow meow meow meooooww meow")
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:08 AM on August 21, 2014

You will also sense the life when you see the house's beating heart.
That is amazing. It's like if you were a multimillionaire twelve year old who read a lot of fantasy novels and wanted to be in a rock band.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:12 AM on August 21, 2014

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