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Future Bling of England
People who are not in the UK might find Owen Jones's (formerly writing as Owen Hatherley) book Chavs to be of interest. It's extremely accessible and gives a lot of case-study stuff about how UK elites mobilize the concept of "chav" as a way of cutting benefits and limiting civil liberties. When it came out there was a big to-do about how "Oh, it's not insulting to call people chavs, because it's true!" from a bunch of people you'd think would know better.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:18 AM on September 11, 2012
Probably worth thinking about in this context: Owen Jones, Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class.

Oops, I guess I did not see lucien_reeve's comment. Well, I guess I second the recommendation, then!
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:23 AM on September 11, 2012
I may just be a confused American, but what I've looked at online does seem to be on aesthetics - are these aesthetics not choice-based? Here, at least, even the underclass or lower working class (through thrift shops and other such things) have the ability to dress relatively nicely and respectably if they choose. Many do. Are these options not available in the UK?

Several points:

1. The whole discourse of... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:04 AM on September 11, 2012
I don't care if you're young, old, rich, poor, black, white, man, woman, etc....but at some level I expect people in the working world to dress professionally.

See, this is something else that I don't quite follow.

In my experience, most people - regardless of class background - actually do dress broadly appropriately for work. And inappropriate work dress is far less class-linked than is assumed - there are... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:47 AM on September 11, 2012
Also, I notice that here we are discussing clothes and individual choice as if those things were the cause of poverty and inequality - once again, aesthetics and the fallacy of "choice" stand in for politics. That's precisely what I was trying to say upthread!
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:50 AM on September 11, 2012
When a certain style of dress is seen to be "trashy" by society at large, you make a decision to as to how you want to be identified when you choose to dress that way. It's not fair, but that is how it is."

But this type of comment is always written from above, like the judgement of the rich on the poor is valid.

Do you think that middle class clothes can't look ridiculous to working class... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:04 AM on September 11, 2012
Owen Jones and Owen Hatherley are two different people, both writing on social issues from a left-wing perspective. Confusing, I know.

How can this even be? They are both young blond white thin-faced men from the UK! I don't understand anything any more.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:05 AM on September 11, 2012

See, what confuses me about this kind of narrative is that it gets made over and over again. Yes, we know - unprepared people in new circumstances will obey "authority" even if the authority tells them to do bad stuff and isn't really authority. Just like how if there's an accident, no one will call 911 because they're all standing around in shock and it's a crowd of strangers.

So all right, we're there. That's where I get confused. If... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:04 AM on September 8, 2012

They Won’t Magically Turn You Into A Lustful Cockmonster
All good enough, although I really wish that white folks would not do that whole "anti-gay person of color, gay is the new black!" thing. It is very rhetorically tricky to compare oppressive situations without derailing or saying something ignorant, and (IMO) it's in very poor taste for white people to tell people of color how they ought to be thinking about race. I mean, I know for a fact that there are at least some GLBTQ... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:45 PM on September 7, 2012
He does contextualize it really well, though, Frowner, given what Burns said:

Yeah, but there's still a sort of whiff of "you are a disgrace to the civil rights legacy of the state/our society", which is just not something that I think white people should be saying, especially to people they, like, didn't grow up with. I just think that when one is making this type of case, it's better not to say things... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:53 PM on September 7, 2012
Although I dunno, I do hang around with a bunch of people who are all very fussy about stuff - I realize I'm writing as though somehow I'm a white person speaking for, like, a consensus of people of color, which is dumb. I'm really "speaking for" my friends the language-sensitive anarchists of a variety of racial backgrounds, so I guess I should remember that mileage varies a LOT. We are united in our picky-ness, really.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:58 PM on September 7, 2012

So, Frowner, about what white people should and should not be saying... Thanks for the handy guide. Can you just verify the acceptable whiteness percentages? Or is someone thinking Ayanbadejo is a different kind of Black Irish? And, like, if the people you grew up with are a few thousand miles away, or dead, or not exactly the people you want to associate with? I just wonder what the Civil Rights movement in the 60s would have been like with your ground rules.
... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 3:34 PM on September 7, 2012

Design is first and foremost a philosophy, a system of values
Hilariously, I thought to myself "this has to be either Jacobin or New Inquiry" and lo, it was!
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:33 AM on September 7, 2012

Two men, four surnames
I guess I feel like Ellis is maybe a more realistic and less bourgeois writer than Wallace; Ellis-esque work seems to have more potential for generating real, serious, non-reformist social critique; Ellis's work is much, much less comfortable than Wallace's. Wallace is middlebrow and sophomoric, mistaking detail for insight. Infinite Jest would be a much better book if its engagement with politics weren't so silly, and so would virtually everything else... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:59 AM on September 6, 2012
Now that I think about it, here's what I find the difference between Ellis and Wallace to be (leaving aside, you know, differences of style): Wallace is project-driven. Wallace wants people to strive to better themselves in this extremely middle-class, sincere, intrusive way. Wallace feels that you can get at people's interiority and that it's complex and windy and basically sympathetic. Ellis...does not. Ellis is much more "people are very simple - greedy, stupid, hedonistic, violent.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:09 PM on September 6, 2012
Consider the cruise ship piece, which I liked a lot. Every anecdote is about how pointless the available activities are, and how simple obvious things you'd do with a boat -- start the engine, chum for sharks -- are unexplained or impossible. Finally he removes himself from the whole thing by locking himself in his room and reading for the rest of the cruise. It's the ultimate expression of his superiority; he cannot be bothered to feign participation.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:47 PM on September 6, 2012
You can make the case that that isn't necessarily as true of fiction as it is of technical writing, but it struck me as a good idea. And DFW is most definitely writing to impress his audience.

How do you prove this?

See, I find Wallace a really easy writer - if I had to have a long wait at the hospital or something, any book of his except Infinite Jest (which still makes me queasy) would be an excellent and... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:49 PM on September 6, 2012

Lestat, Eric Northman, Tohrment and Dracula aren't the only bloodsuckers at the library
Okay, this has convinced me that I am going to get an ereader. I love physical books and I don't like the idea of having no books if I break the reader or if, you know, total social collapse happens and there is no more tech support. But I hate and fear bedbugs far, far more.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:11 AM on September 5, 2012

Shulamith Firestone, sprung from her own head
Actually "incubate children in artificial wombs" was a relatively common idea among futurist-minded second wave feminists - you see the idea in the anti-racist utopia in Marge Piercy's Woman On The Edge of Time and in the intro to Women of Wonder. And honestly, if you assume that you can successfully and safely replicate the womb 100%, why not? The issue is that we can't - and that the techno optimism which still informed... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 3:08 PM on August 31, 2012

Chore list of Champions
Not that it's not cute and charming, but it sure does sound like "while my wife is pregnant I will do three pieces of light housekeeping and refrain from making unnecessary mess, but once she has a baby to raise I go back to doing no light housekeeping and not really worrying about dropping bits of paper, because cleaning is women's work."

If I were a dude and had a wife and were afraid she'd read this, it would be because I would fear being summarily... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:57 AM on August 30, 2012

All exotic white girls look the same to me
Has it been terribly rude for me to tell people that their new haircut looked nice, or that they made a funny joke? Is there some deeper difference I'm missing here, or is it just that "exotic" is a term that's now being absorbed into the fugue of racism?

I think it's really psychically tough to say to yourself "this thing that I have always assumed was okay to say and think actually isn't okay and I need to... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:56 AM on August 28, 2012
Er, that was perhaps a little too long. Sorry about that.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:57 AM on August 28, 2012
I don't know a better word for 'has a large vocabulary and uses it precisely'. If you have a suggestion, I'm all ears.

See, this is where one needs a sense of social context.

Yes, Obama is an extremely gifted speaker (and that's how I would put it). And it's true that "articulate" captures some of "gifted speaker". But it is also a famous example of a compliment/insult... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:34 AM on August 28, 2012
Vis-a-vis "but why can't I call you eloquent?"

Tact is good and fine, but honesty is far more important. We've lost sight of that fact.

"Honesty" is always social.

I think one of the features of privilege is the experience of getting to say whatever you want whenever and however you want to say it. In extremely misogynist situations, men call the shots about... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:35 AM on August 28, 2012
The problem with stuff like this is, if you truly take it to heart, if you really feel the guilt like the authors intend that you do, you start to be afraid of opening your mouth and restrict yourself to speaking to people outside of your cultural group in minimal, non-engaging ways. I think an end to the conversation is just as bad as a misguided one.

I don't!

With one exception, my first friends of color were friends I made... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:01 PM on August 28, 2012

Pawns in the War on Drugs
What strikes me immediately is how the corrupt and violent state of our prisons is used to pressure people by the very state that runs the prisons and makes sure that they are violent and corrupt. "We run our prisons in such a way that of course you will get raped and beaten in jail, so do what we say or else. Not that we're going to rape you or beat you personally or anything, no, we just maintain the apparatus."
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:27 PM on August 28, 2012
One of the officers threatened Shelly with prison—a particularly terrifying prospect for a transgender woman, who would be sent to a male facility—and then offered her a way out: she could set up her dealer, Qasim Raqib, and walk free that same day. She agreed.


See, this is why I think the whole prison system is basically fake: It's just a machine for employing cops and guards and court personnel and suppliers, a... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:46 PM on August 28, 2012

This Will End in Tears
Oh, the saddest songs? The saddest songs are, in no particular order:

Tom Joad
The Water Is Wide/Wild Geese (Ann Hills, can't seem to find it online)
A Pair of Brown Eyes, which is much sadder than Waltzing Matilda to me although it too has that theme of the persistence of war and loss
One more bottle to drink, by Billy Childish
And virtually every song on PJ Harvey's Let England Shake. "Hanging On... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:34 AM on August 24, 2012
Oh, if you are looking for a relationship song that is sad, No Looking by the Raincoats has always struck me as pretty darn sad. It's a translation/reworking of a poem by Jacques Prevert, but it is about a million times sadder than the poem.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:11 PM on August 24, 2012
It's funny, "The Cool, Cool River" isn't sad to me at all*. In my head, I picture a people under tremendous pressure and moving towards revolution - it makes me think of the indigenous and labor organizers in Mexico, like in Chiapas or Oaxaca or of the Guatemalan resistance. I think of the cool, cool river as the force of the ordinary people, people becoming, the urge people have to just be alive and be all right. The wild, white ocean better watch out, that's what I think. To me... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:39 PM on August 25, 2012

Portland and Brooklyn,read and weep:
But the whole point of this kind of article, culturally, is to bully people into liking or disliking something through fear of being a hipster, of not being hip enough or of having their identity challenged in some way. Economically, it's link-bait; culturally, it's actually about sustaining a "hipster" mentality - the mentality that what's important in life is performing your identity correctly through the correct modes of... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:16 PM on August 25, 2012

One Direction Tumblerites vs the world
alby: Sort of. There's an interesting conversation to be had about how the way a medium shapes the discussion that takes place within that medium; the nature of fannish content production has shifted dramatically in the process of the migration from LJ to tumblr.

I would be interested to hear more thoughts on this. I have thoughts of my own!
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:18 AM on August 24, 2012

The main African American character in the novel is referred to as a "beast-man."
Samuel Delany actually wrote a fantastic and somewhat under-read series of, yes, sword and sorcery books (Neveryona, Escape from Neveryona, Return to Neveryona, one other one) in which the dominant people who run the fancy slave-holding, conflict-rife, cultured and interesting empire are brown people and the barbaric slaves are white. That's not the main point of the books, but I'd say that they are much more realistic about how and why racism (and in this instance slavery)... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:26 AM on August 22, 2012
Oh my god, I read that Requires Hate thing linked upthread. This book is so much worse than anything I had hitherto read about it suggested. It's just un-fucking-believable. I swear - if you have not read extensive excerpts from this book you will simply not believe it! It's so full of racial resentment! It puts me in sympathy with the future world where the white people are oppressed - I'd be totally down with oppressing the white folks who produce this kind of thing... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:15 AM on August 22, 2012
I am so delighted by seeing this mentioned, and so confused by it being mentioned in a young adult science fiction thread, that I may have to take the rest of the day off to find my copy.

Actually, as a young adult (okay, here's a thing - we don't really describe 12-14 year-olds as young adults, but they read YA, right? I think of a young adult as someone old enough to live as an adult on their own, so at least 16 and probably older)...anyway, back... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:55 PM on August 22, 2012

Facts Didn't Get In Their Way
I don't think this phenomenon is unique to men, and don't care for the term 'mansplaining.'

But the point is that there is a particular kind of explaining that is sexist - that's rooted in male socialization. Men are socialized to assume that they are knowers and explainers, that what the world wants is more male explaining (instead of female explaining or something that is not explaining), that they are entitled... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:58 AM on August 21, 2012

Set phasers to "Hulk Smash!"
But it is a pet peeve of mine that happily-coupled people—like these letter writers—seem to often place normal single-person behavior in the same category as sexual harassment and sexual assault, as though the fact of not being in an established relationship and seeking a partner were inherently creepy.

I assure you that at every party I ever attended back in the days when I dated fellows, the guys who were in the headspace of "I want to get laid... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:34 AM on August 9, 2012
I don;t think there is anything inherently wrong with making sex jokes or even asking a woman to expose herself as long as it is going on between two consenting adults. The problem starts when one consenting adult has no fucking clue what other consenting adults are into. One adult is having difficulty navigating all the subtle cues that let him know that the other adult is into whatever is happening. If the guy only did this with women who were interested in this, he would be fine. The... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:41 AM on August 9, 2012
I think, also, people are reading this differently from me, e.g. Frowner's summation of "I want to get laid tonight doesn't matter who as long as she's attractive enough that I can get it up" is not how I read it—I read it as "I would like to meet someone at this party, who might eventually go out with me and sleep with me." Certainly it is possible that I am misreading it.

In the interests of internet honesty, I will say that I... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:49 AM on August 9, 2012
it also came from a long history of feminist discourses which basically said that every expression of male heterosexual desire is directly complicit in some form of sexual violence against women.

And thinking that through carefully is your responsibility as a good ally.

I'm going to be as sincere and experience-sharing as possible because I believe this is really important:

As I've said elsewhere on... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:13 AM on August 9, 2012
(A momentary derail: Sometimes I read blogs by POC and they are upsetting to read.

I wanted to clarify that the upset that I might feel in that situation is nowhere near how upsetting it is when some poor kid gets shot by the cops, or some other instance of racism - it's not that my little sadfeels are AS IMPORTANT AS RACISM. I just wanted to express how it feels to be a self-critical holder of privilege in a situation where... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:24 AM on August 9, 2012
Because I can hear the knees jerking: Frowner avoided saying that you should not critique feminists who are wrong. They said you should not make the critique about them--neither your own, new critique, nor the body of critique that the discussion is about.

I will however add something I should have said in my whiteness analogy: it's really important to be careful when you assume that someone is wrong when they're talking about how they experience... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:31 AM on August 9, 2012
(Thank you for the compliments, custardfairy and Mooski and Catchfire. I freely admit that my comments owe quite a lot to the blogular wisdom of others!)
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:44 PM on August 9, 2012
(I'd suggest that there are also 'whitesplaining', 'cisplaining', etc - that each word highlights the particular form of privilege in play, and that's why it's valuable. The dynamics that drive racism rhyme with the dynamics that drive misogyny, but they are not identical. I mean, I can't mansplain, for lo I am not a man and do not have social, institutional and emotional structures cementing my identity into place, but I have noticed... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:28 AM on August 15, 2012

The Reproducibility Initiative
No, this is a terrible, terrible idea. (I have some expertise in research funding) Here's why:

1. It will add an INSANE amount to university research expenses - that means either that a $250,000 NIH grant will suddenly be $150,000 for the actual research and $100,000 for the replication or else what used to be a $250,000 grant will need to be a $300,000 grant. Or else the schools can eat the cost - from where? Tuition? Slashing jobs?... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:54 PM on August 14, 2012

You’ll never be Chinese
This interview with Dongpin Han, a historian who grew up in rural China during the cultural revolution, discussing his book, The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village was interesting, and there's a transcript of an interview. He is very positive on the educational reforms and other aspects of the cultural revolution, and very negative on how these have been rolled back with the transition to state-capitalism in China.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:20 PM on August 10, 2012

Some Shoppers Are More Equal Than Others
yeah? How about if target gave your neighbor 10% off, because he's wealthier and more likely to be a lucrative customer? Is that still cool?

I feel like we all really, really need to internalize how contemporary capitalism/government/legal stuff is about taking from the vulnerable to give to the powerful. We fought for a long time to get redistribution going the other way via social services and labor rights, but basically the... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:14 AM on August 10, 2012
Perhaps I shall tell you about my local Target. I live in Target's home town, and if I choose to bus to downtown Minneapolis, I can go to the palatial flagship Target on the main shopping drag, where they have everything plus a few extra experimental special things. This is not my local Target. My local Target is shitty. It's the inner city one where the poor folks go. It is understaffed even though it's incredibly busy. The pharmacy is always a giant clusterfuck, even... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:06 AM on August 10, 2012
What do you mean, "contemporary"? That's the way it's always worked. That statement is no more true of twenty-first-century America as it is of fifth-millennium BC Mesopotamia. Doesn't have anything to do with capitalism. Or, if it does, then it's just a feature of the way the world is inherently, not some New Thing we've done.

That's a much, much larger question and too big for this thread, but I find the "let's flatten the history of... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:14 AM on August 10, 2012

Early abolitionist David Ruggles
Aw, this is so cool! I have been looking for more books about black abolitionists!
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:53 PM on August 9, 2012

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