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Life After Death
When I was growing up in the suburbs, I knew that I was queer and left wing, and back in the day before the internet when you had no connections to anything, ACT-UP and Queer Nation were all the activist stuff you'd ever see in the papers. AIDS novels were the only novels you'd see about queer folks at the library. It's so strange because I was socialized into this activism, this worldview right in the early nineties before the drugs came out, and then everything changed, it's true.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 5:52 AM on December 3, 2011

Two, not one, singularities
The thing is, science fiction does predict the future, but always in the things that get overlooked. Like, John Brunner's The Sheep Look Up - the novel is mainly about the experience of pervasive social and sexual corruption and decadence, plus a huge overdetermined environmental/social disaster. But it's not really predictive on that level - writing in the early seventies, Brunner assumes that a loosening of sexual mores, for example,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:44 AM on December 1, 2011

"You will feel like a fool, and that will last for about two weeks."
Honestly, this is the same process you go through in, say, a graduate history program. Your understanding of the Wars of the Roses (say) becomes much more complex than what you thought before. If you're a big dumb-head, you assume that no one else can have a new idea about the Wars of the Roses without having (say) detailed expertise in the household effects of the parties involved, and you talk patronizingly to outsiders and competitively to people around you. If you're reasonably... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:54 PM on November 30, 2011

Everybody Out!
If people "aren't supposed to strike" because it will inconvenience (even seriously inconvenience) others, where does that logic end? If I'm a nurse, should I work for a dollar a day because otherwise I'm leaving my patients?

I think blaming the British unions of the seventies and eighties for the Tories is going it a little - I'm not British, but this particular period in the UK has always fascinated me so I've read a bit about it. The recession of the... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:51 AM on November 30, 2011

"I would rather be sitting back home at my desk, believe me. But this is too important."
I have never really understood Habermas, because all the things he wants seem to rely on this "public sphere" of rational, equal, rather cookie-cutter citizens (the kind of citizens who are implicitly figured as white, male, middle-class, etc etc) all of whom have and want access to a certain type of information and all of whom are happy to leave the public sphere and a (certain, undefined) private sphere separate. That is, in some alternate reality where Europe was populated... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:11 PM on November 28, 2011

A descent into madness, of a particularly gruesome kind
Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of the popular The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo series, is emotionally stunted but, damn it, she actualizes herself! She punishes the people who hurt her, she sleeps with whomever she wishes, she zips around on a motorcycle, and she’s a master computer hacker. In other words, our actualized female heroine might as well be a tiny man.

I always wonder, as a queer person who zips around on their bike, is a bit emotionally... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:10 PM on November 18, 2011
(...and as if our gender performance comes from our over-valuation of the masculine rather than anything else. Like, I am not a persuasive public speaker because I think I'm a dude, all right?)
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:12 PM on November 18, 2011
Lisbeth Salander, the heroine of the popular The Girl With a Dragon Tattoo series, is emotionally stunted but, damn it, she actualizes herself! She punishes the people who hurt her, she sleeps with whomever she wishes, she zips around on a motorcycle, and she’s a master computer hacker. In other words, our actualized female heroine might as well be a tiny man.

There's this really specific self-critique in feminism and queer theory which basically... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:23 PM on November 18, 2011
Um, femmes can do all of those things too.

And the really good ones can do it without breaking a single nail.


But see, here we get slippage about what it means to be "femme". Which I have no trouble with at all, yeah, but there's this whole discourse about "femme" as opposed to "queer masculinity" or "trans masculinity". I mean, if we want "femme" to mean "anyone who wears... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:30 PM on November 18, 2011
In short, I think there's this slippage between "femme" and "conventionally coded as feminine" which gets confusing as a basis for a theoretical analysis. Like, I can be an emotionally-present sexually submissive butch person (although actually I'm not), you can be a ninja with stealth glitter skills and no ability to talk about your feelings and then what?

"Femme" and "butch" seem to me -as I think about it at this very moment,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:34 PM on November 18, 2011
Wait, wait. Are people now saying that it's somehow 'un-feminist' to 'act like a man' and transcend gender roles? Really? I thought that was the whole point of feminism. And "Tiny Man" is now a common term? I thought it was a really odd way to describe the heroine.

I am posting too much and I have to leave in a minute.

There are a LOT of feminisms and a lot of feminist concerns and a lot of social circles.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:37 PM on November 18, 2011
(And just before I leave for real, I want to say that Critique-of-Masculinity-Radical-Queer World and Mainstream World are TOTALLY different. Something that I disagree with in Radical Queer World context (like treating "femme" and "butch" as clearly defined categories with no slippage) might be something that would be a useful starter point of inquiry in Mainstream World.

It's like, I have FAR more in common with and care more for someone I... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:43 PM on November 18, 2011

"What makes music boring?" An article from the A.V. Club.
I think when people are making firm arguments that something is boring they are usually arguing "the things that I could be interested in about this are not worth being interested in" - ie, I could conceivably read Lucky and get really interested in how the pages are laid out, why the clothes are chosen, precisely what messages about class and aspiration they send, how the magazine is marketed, etc. I could do a detailed comparison with other fashion magazines, or... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:43 PM on November 18, 2011
(That is, a theory and a critical vocabulary are precisely what make a thing interesting - "has a good beat and you can dance to it" is theory and critical vocabulary.)
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:44 PM on November 18, 2011

This is The Goldman Sachs Project
When folks are linking the "fascist coup" thing, they are talking about the Greece Goldman Sachs guy's membership in an actual violent fascist student group during the eighties. It's not just hyperbole - he was a physically violent fascist who has now worked his way upstairs to run a country. When the left breaks windows, we're terrorists; when the right physically assaults the vulnerable, they get marked down for future greatness.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:59 AM on November 18, 2011
a) The fascist in the Greek cabinet is not Papademos, but Voridis. He's a deputy minister, not the prime minister. He's only in the cabinet because all parties were asked to join the government of national unity.
b) Papademos has no connection to Goldman Sachs.
c) Neither does Voridis.


Oooh, you are right. need to disarm the panic system here. Okay, disregard me totally, please I beg.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:15 AM on November 18, 2011
Okay, the issue isn't, per se, the economic advisor-ness of these guys. Because the European economy is coming apart, regular people are being hurt by austerity programs without recourse anyway, Greece and Italy have a long term history of actual literal fascism. There's probably no way to have a good, ie for average people and not for the banks, government short of an actual revolution, which would bring its own troubles.

The thing of these... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 12:08 PM on November 18, 2011

Womanspace
What the hell, Nature? Of course, the New Scientist is full of bullshit like this only dressed up as actual research, so I suppose at least Nature grasps that this is fundamentally not a real thing.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:30 PM on November 17, 2011

Seven Misunderstandings About Classical Architecture
That was written by Quinlan Terry? Truly, I have grown up believing him a total hack and a lackey of New Labor. And yet it makes so much sense.

But there's a politico-aesthetic concern here - as far as I know - which is unique to the UK: the way in which "classical" architecture and "tradition" have been mustered against working class and social justice movements, and for aristocratic... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:24 AM on November 17, 2011
(I actually have come to love brutalism. There are a LOT of beautiful brutalist buildings, but they are of course not classical buildings. The thing is, there's a snob/culture tendency to value classical architecture so much that it's the only thing we can see as beautiful - just like Vogue magazine retrains your eye so that you can't see the beauty around you, only high fashion beauty. Owen Hatherley has a lot of interesting stuff to say about modern... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:31 AM on November 17, 2011
Until about a month ago, I worked in a Gehry building, and man, did I work up a complicated set of feelings.

I suspect that I know this building, based on your location. I've always hated it, actually. It doesn't fit well with anything around it (although there have certainly been a couple of godawful monstrosities put up nearby). But what I really, truly hate about it is how it's unsuited to our climate - watching the wood bits deteriorate really... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 8:25 AM on November 17, 2011
That, clearly, is very much a minority view and should be of no more interest to those of us who admire those buildings than would be the view of whatever minority dislikes the buildings you, personally, happen to like. No one can make architecture that pleases everyone; Gehry has demonstrably succeeded in creating architecture that pleases most.

Most of whom? On a day to day basis, I rarely meet people who like the local Gehry -... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 9:37 AM on November 17, 2011
I have been enjoying a blog by an otherwise-unknown-to-me British left-wing architect guy with an unaccountable fondness for the postmodern, Fantastic Journal. Just as with Owen Hatherley's writing, it really helps me see a style in a new way.

I, personally, am far more outraged by a perfectly serviceable but utterly tedious and unadventurous design than I am by even an ugly building that at least represents an effort at achieving some kind of vision. The... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:58 AM on November 17, 2011
And of course you are strongly opposed to all classical architecture unless it appears in Greece, right? Oh, and all that imported Palladian crap in England should be torn down and shipped back to Italy?

No, I'm opposed to dropping a generic "world" piece of architecture into whatever random city can stump up the architect's fees and is under the delusion that they can replicate the Bilbao experience...and thinks that shitty tourist jobs... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:47 PM on November 17, 2011
Well, fine; but that's a completely different argument; it has nothing at all to do with reflecting local vernaculars or what have you.

We may have gotten our arguments crossed - I'm not obsessed by local vernaculars and I would define "takes its surroundings into account" as "things look good together and are appropriate for climate and use" not "things are all similar". The Gehry building does not irritate me because... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:40 PM on November 17, 2011

Ahmed Salman Rushdie
I've officially become a crank now.

My family and friends have stopped pestering me about having a Facebook page. You know who keeps "inviting" me now? Businesses. I get asked all the time by my dentist, my on-line nursery, my chicken supply guy, my pizza place, etc. Everybody wants me to start an account so that I can befriend them and get coupons! Whooo Hoo. It's not going to happen.

I really think you guys have given
... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:53 AM on November 16, 2011
(Also, Rushdie is kind of sexist and creepy, but I truly loved The Satanic Verses and some of his earlier stuff. Celebrity and the fatwa kind of destroyed him as an intellectual, I think - he turned into this wishy-washy neoliberal bore, all you need to do is contrast his first book of essays (awesome!) with his later ones (NYRB-level upper-middle blah).
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:56 AM on November 16, 2011

Teeth, Interrupted
...And it's more horrible than you could possibly imagine. If I hadn't already abandoned all that rationalist/unified-subject/bounded-non-monstrous-subjects stuff, this would do it. Oh god, baby teeth are way more effective than Bakhtin.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:15 AM on November 16, 2011

Why Americans won't do dirty jobs?
Capitalists are such frauds. They appeal to "market logic" when it's for themselves - "oh, we can't offer benefits, we can't afford it!" or whatever - but when people who are not desperate economic refugees refuse to work for minimum wage and no benefits under dire and unsafe conditions, why, it's not any kind of market logic, it's a character flaw among workers. Fuck them sideways.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:40 PM on November 11, 2011

"We should forget about small efficiencies, say about 97% of the time: premature optimization is the root of all evil." ~C.A.R. Hoare, quoted by Donald Knuth
I truly hate that autoloading "infinite scroll" business. I'd be very interested to hear why folks like it, if you do.

I often find myself needing to scroll rapidly through a page to look for something or to get to something that I know is located late in the document, and the infinite scroll/slow-loading thing gets horribly in the way. Or else I want to know something like "is this [THING] too long to have people read for [meeting]" and I can't... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:43 AM on November 10, 2011

Bucket list.
It's amusing that folks are all "oh, these old white guys couldn't do anything sinister" when there are plenty of sinister old white guys who do godawful things - Henry Kissinger, for example, was in his sixties when he was jetting around to enable the massacre of several hundred thousand East Timorese. If only age prevented evil!
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:26 PM on November 9, 2011

Yes Dad.
(IMO, people get dramatically hostile to this kind of article because they are on some level terrified of being perceived as weak - so they are driven by the need to tear down anything that could taint them. Geek says something that might make him look weak or silly or just plain lets some feelings show on the internet even if they're not correct "mature" feelings? Have to distance yourself from that shit, or someone might... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:02 AM on November 9, 2011

I don't speak Xiang, but I can if you like.
Causes me to miss living in China.

Good thing they're just dancing to the decadent music of the imperialist west

I hope no one is under the illusion that mainland China is communist in anything but name - authoritarian capitalism is the order of the day, showing that you can certainly have the worst of both worlds.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:10 PM on November 8, 2011
Those seniors look pretty healthy and vital to me. I wonder if they were hand-picked. If not, it says a lot for tofu, rice, hard work, not too much meat, and having something cool to do.

Also, not being despised. You try despising old folks in China the way they get despised and patronized over here and you will not be welcome anyplace.

Also, a cultural note: in my experience of China, there was a lot... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 2:16 PM on November 8, 2011

Oops!
Here is what will happen: our various elites will respond to global warming by making themselves richer and more secure, planning to survive climate change in tiny, highly secure enclaves. They'd rather reign in hell than serve in heaven, so we won't have any real climate mitigation efforts since those would require - horrors! tax increases and a general social leveling.

My parents will almost certainly be dead by the time things get really bad and I have no children,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:06 AM on November 8, 2011

Love is stronger than hate
Okay, I absolutely deplore firebombing people because they disrespect your religion. But honestly, I think it's an asshole move - and given French colonial history, a racist one - to lead with "let's lead off by disrespecting your religion in a way that we know will totally piss you off, and in a situation laden with huge racial and post-colonial meaning".

Love is stronger than hate, bullshit. Stop acting like an asshole,... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 6:27 AM on November 8, 2011

"While we still live in a sexist society, any woman who sticks her head above the parapet will encounter misogynistic abuse."
(A brief note on the "females" thing - I absolutely loathe how it sounds (so crass! so barbaric! so non-euphonious!) but I've been told that some folks pick up the habit of speech in the military. I mostly hear it as "working class person who has spent time in some highly regimented institution" rather than "misogynist jerkface" - I've met my share of military dudebro creeps who say "females" but it's by no means universal.)
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:15 AM on November 4, 2011

Anonymous vs Los Zetas Cartel
Unlike the government, the drug cartels don't have to look legitimate - they just have to look really, really scary. Which means that Anonymous's methods will by definition not work against them, since the drug cartels have no compunction about killing people until their opponents get scared enough to stop.

It's worth noting that the more our governments separate power from legitimacy (ie, the more dishonest elections, corrupt... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:27 PM on November 2, 2011

NOT OKAY
You know, when I lived in China, my students were all "you should totally get a qipao". They thought it was hiLARious to see my in my padded jacket, and would no doubt have split their sides laughing if I'd worn any form of traditional costume. This is because when I was in China they were the majority, not white people, and the majority discourse was basically "LOLforeigners". And also, I was not "dressing up as a chinese person" or taking... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 10:33 AM on October 26, 2011
So if, for example, I bought a Peruvian hat while traveling are you saying I can not wear my Peruvian hat this winter because I am white?

See, this is where people have to use their judgement and also act in good faith. Personally, I would not wear a hat that was some sort of ultra-identifiable South American mountain peasant hat (like with bobbles or something) because [I would feel like some kind of clueless new age white lady]... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:48 AM on October 26, 2011
(Also, if folks want to be able to dress up as whatever they please, perhaps they should work on ending racial inequality, so that someday they really can wear a geisha costume and not have it be part of this global rhetoric of racism and exotification of Asian women. This stuff isn't neutral right now, because we live in an immensely racist and unequal world. If you don't like that, let's fix the world. )
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 11:56 AM on October 26, 2011

Next, rubber gloves at the supermarket checkout
I was thinking about this - along with prison guard jobs and similar police-state employment - and realized that they're basically jobs programs for the right. We can't create real jobs programs because that would be communist or something, so we'll create shitty gulag-monitoring jobs (and these jobs seem to be pretty awful) and pay for the employment of mostly white, mostly-right-wing-working-class people that way, conveniently cementing their loyalty to the Republicans who... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:15 AM on October 23, 2011

Rick Genest covers his full body tattoo.
Just the other day, I had a little girl tell me that I should get a tattoo because "all your kind of white people have them". Which was 1. flattering, because I am a bit older than the "all my kind of white people" to which she was referring and 2. pretty cute.

Unless industrial society totally collapses, when this dude is 70 there will be lots and lots of other 70-year-olds with tattoos and everything will be fine.... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 1:49 AM on October 23, 2011

Is That Cupcake Vegan or Just Butter- and Egg-Free?
(I try to eschew honey not because of the toil of the bees but because of all the extra bees that die in industrial honey production. I am not a jerk about it because I recognize that almonds and blueberries, which I eat, are fertilized by mobile bee-keeping operations which also kill a lot of animals. As I've written elsewhere, some vegans feel that animal autonomy is the important thing - no pets, no use of directly-animal-created stuff - while others... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 4:24 PM on October 20, 2011
(And you can actually make delicious vegan lasagna - but it's vital that you do not imitate cheese. Think about things like squash-filled ravioli for a starting point. And you can make very good white sauce using an almond milk base, bay, olive oil, nutmeg and a few other seasonings. You top it with white sauce and a sort of deluxe gratin.)
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 4:26 PM on October 20, 2011
I make a lot of vegan gluten-free desserts for various events around town (in case anyone is interested) and seriously, I've never baked a successful gluten-free cake. I know it's possible, but it isn't easy with current baking knowledge and materials. I recommend coconut-based puddings, poached fruit in syrup, and various kinds of nut brittle/coconut brittle, all of which have proved very popular.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 4:30 PM on October 20, 2011
Also, I admit that I do love proseletyzing about the deliciousness of many vegan dishes. I will not impugn your pork-eating ways, no, but I will talk your ear off about vegan turnovers.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 4:33 PM on October 20, 2011
also you know what the best and also sometimes the worst is, is vegan cheesecake.

You know, I actually had some vegan cheesecake once and it was good. Though I'm a vegan, vegan cheesecake goes against everything I believe about the possibilities inherent in vegan food, so I was very surprised. No idea how they made it.
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 4:42 PM on October 20, 2011
I think one thing I'd love to see is more vegan stuff that isn't junk food.

Honestly, I think that there's so much publicity about vegan junk food for two reasons: First, there is still a perception that food without meat or dairy is necessarily joyless and puritanical; and second, because most vegans (at least all the ones I've ever known) eat really soberly and healthily on a day to day basis. I'm a little bit of a junk-food vegan when I get... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 4:59 PM on October 20, 2011
Well, I will just continue this even though I'm a bit late.

1. I think there is a fad for gluten-free stuff, at least in my circles - there is a perception among a small percentage of hippie/punk/lefty types that gluten itself is bad for you, so cutting it out is good even if you're not actually sensitive to it. I surmise that this stems - perversely enough - from the paleo / green anarchist critique of agriculture/the agricultural diet. Also, there's... [more]
posted to MetaFilter by Frowner at 7:58 AM on October 21, 2011

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