Dumbspeech State of Grace Echopraxia [website], the long-delayed "sidequel" depicting parallel events on Earth. Want more? Look inside for a guide to the rest of Watts' award-winning (and provocative) body of work. [more inside]
BIG and BOT Policy Proposals (transcript) - "Many of our current economic policies originated during times of scarcity. But now, says investor Albert Wenger, we live in an era of 'digital abundance', when creating new products costs virtually nothing. To adapt to the resulting economic upheavals, we won't need just more tech, says Wenger, but some strong policies. Here he explores two: basic income guarantee and the right to be represented by a bot." [more inside]
In a Ghana hotel I overheard a western-sounding white male utter the following to a listener on his phone: “The people in Africa are so simple, I can do whatever I like here. They never challenge me.” My body froze, and of course I said and did nothing.
When Subalternist theorists put up this gigantic wall separating East from West, and when they insist that Western agents are not driven by the same kinds of concerns as Eastern agents, what they’re doing is endorsing the kind of essentialism that colonial authorities used to justify their depredations in the nineteenth century. It’s the same kind of essentialism that American military apologists used when they were bombing Vietnam or when they were going into the Middle East. Nobody on the Left can be at ease with these sorts of arguments.Vivek Chibber (Professor of Sociology, New York University) discusses the pitfalls of postcolonialism in the wake of his controversial book Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital. [more inside]
The Department of Justice issued a memo today (pdf) stating that the litigation concerning gender identity employment discrimination regarding transgender Americans working in the federal government will be covered under the sex discrimination prohibition in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. [more inside]
How Chan-Style Anonymous Culture Shapes #gamergate Twitter user A Man In Black attempts to untangle the gamergater mindset using identity -- any identity as vice, and lack of identity as a chief virtue.
Noah Berlatsky in The Atlantic discusses how the backlash against cosplay in the comic book community is an illustration of the community's struggles with the gendering of their fandom. [more inside]
Thomas King wins Governor-General’s Award for fiction In February, King won the British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction for The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America. On Tuesday, he won the Governor-General’s Literary Award for Fiction for The Back of the Turtle, his first novel in 15 years. [more inside]
Here Be Dragons
People in the US are usually surprised when I say that my Thai mother lives in Ireland. “How did that happen? That’s so strange.” Strange, and their little laugh that accompanies the statement, are code for their assumptions about the education and mobility of this foreign woman of color, who in this case is my mom. She most recently worked for Salesforce, a fast growing tech company headquartered in San Francisco. When she moved to Singapore it was to work for Intel, another large tech company. She is ambitious and accomplished. She defies the stereotypes. My dad runs up against a different stereotype. That he, a white American man, lives in Thailand is not unusual. White American Men have more world-conquering powers according to a general, Western, unexamined assumption of normalcy.
Like blasted pecs or a little rhinestone flag pin, esoteric taste in music is an indicator of values. Under the heel of the major-label system in the early ’90s, indie taste meant more than liking weird bands. To care about obscure bands was to reject the perceived conformity of popular culture, to demand a more nuanced reading of the human experience than Amy Grant’s “Baby Baby” and therefore to assert a certain kind of life. That assertion was central to my identity as a young adult, and I found that people who shared it were more likely to agree with me on seemingly unrelated issues. Like all aesthetics, taste in music is a worldview.
Storms of doubt and change I expected as the parent of an adolescent, I just thought they would be hers, not mine.
SIMILO. "2065. The entire planet is hit by the effects of climate change. One of the few places that remain habitable is Antarctica, where corporations have built private cities. Hebe and Ciro get back together again. She is looking for love. He is searching for his own identity." [NSFW, Via]
Uncomfortable in His Own Skin ‘Your Face in Mine,’ by Jess Row, a Novel About Changing Race: [New York Times]
"When literary fiction dares examine the issue of race at all, it is usually done in an exceedingly tone-deaf way (think William Styron’s Confessions Of Nat Turner or Kathryn Stockett’s The Help) or from a somewhat safe remove (think Chabon’s Telegraph Avenue). It always seems as if the story is accompanied by a blaring announcement that it’s time for this (white) protagonist to learn something. Sometimes the pedantic drum-banging can get so excessive it drowns out everything else, including the inclination to tell a good story. If nothing else, the debut novel from Jess Row, Your Face In Mine, is a refreshing plunge into the deep end of the race conversation." [A.V. Club][more inside]
You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
Producer Michael Shamberg Wants to 'Invent the Future' With BuzzFeed Motion Pictures - "I don't think there's ever been a Hollywood R&D model like we have here." (previously 1,2,3) [more inside]
Hobbes Ginsberg is a 20-year-old photographer from Los Angeles who takes gorgeous, color saturated, studio composed photographs of herself and others, most often her girlfriend Chloe (NSFW). Buy her photozine, see photos from an exhibition, or read her text blog. [more inside]
30 Bisexual Women Discuss Their Long-Term Relationships With Men. Even though more people self-identify as bisexual than gay and lesbian, there is a widespread belief that those who identify as bi are either in a transitional stage or are lying to themselves or others.
On April 8, 2013, I received an envelope in the mail from a nonexistent return address in Toledo, Ohio. Inside was a blank thank-you note and an Ohio state driver’s license. The ID belonged to a 28-year-old man called Aaron Brown—6 feet tall and 160 pounds with a round face, scruffy brown hair, a thin beard, and green eyes. His most defining feature, however, was that he didn’t exist. I know that because I created him.
The loaded meaning behind 'What do you do?': [Deb] Fallows says the questions are meant to tease out socioeconomic status, political viewpoints, and cultural background. “You know that somebody’s kind of digging for information to put you into their world – how do you fit into my world?” [more inside]
Indelible Ink: The Deep History of Tattoo Removal
By the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, documentation of tattoo removal was often found in accounts of Europeans in contact with cultures overseas—particularly, although not exclusively, societies in the New World. The failed effort to remove the English pirate’s facial tattoo was not the only attempt at such a procedure in the early modern Atlantic world. A number of French, Spanish, English, and Native American sources suggest that people of the period could regret their permanent body modifications just as much as modern people do. Tattoo removal in the past, however, reflected something more powerful than transient personal taste.[more inside]
When I reached out [to Buzzfeed founder Jonah Peretti] yesterday, asking whether he saw Buzzfeed as embodying the trends described in the paper or as subverting them, he simply replied, "lol."
Julianne Ross asks: Must Every YA Action Heroine Be Petite? Amy McCarthy asks a similar question: Why do all our young adult heroines look the same? Mandy Stewart also offers up her own advice: Be Divergent and Other Lessons for My Daughter. Interview with Veronica Roth on her book 'Insurgent' and feminism. [more inside]
"Life-long Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev has suggested changing his country's name to make it friendlier to investors and tourists. It's obviously a little silly to change your country's name for marketing purposes. But there may be more meaningful reasons for the country to change its name..." An interesting perspective from Max Fisher at the Washington Post.
"Without external props, even our personal identity fades and goes out of focus. The self is a fragile construction of the mind."
The Names They Gave Me. From the essay: " 'Your name is Tasbeeh. Don’t let them call you by anything else.' My mother speaks to me in Arabic; the command sounds more forceful in her mother tongue, a Libyan dialect that is all sharp edges and hard, guttural sounds. I am seven years old and it has never occurred to me to disobey my mother. Until twelve years old, I would believe God gave her the supernatural ability to tell when I’m lying. 'Don’t let them give you an English nickname,' my mother insists once again, 'I didn’t raise amreekan .' My mother spits out this last word with venom. Amreekan. Americans. It sounds like a curse coming out of her mouth." By Tasbeeh Herwees in The Toast.
Passweird - Passwords too gross to steal. This website will create for you a password that is not only secure*, but is also so utterly repulsive that not even the most hardened criminal, identity thief, NSA agent, or jealous boyfriend would ever want to use it. *ish, but probably not. Don't use these for real.
Researchers at the University of York were able to identify people using the reflection of their faces in pupils of photographs of other people. Original paper
This year's critical darling essay collection -- Junot Diaz's favorite read of the year (#), Michael Robbins's pick for best book of the year (#) -- is White Girls by Hilton Als. Mentions of Als are infrequent on Metafilter, so I thought I would share a Readlist collection of his stuff (that has a bit of overlap with the book).
[T]he parrhesia in social media may set individuals against one another in pointless struggles for authenticity while precluding them from uniting politically to fight for shared goals against those remote elites. The satisfaction of those games, the “self” and “truth” that emerges from those compulsions [...] make the present tolerable or even pleasurable while altering nothing about a general condition that makes people feel overburdened, depressed, precarious, excluded, humiliated. There is a pale satisfaction in making a limited truth in the moment, even if it has no effect on the distribution of power or the way one is known by society.In a series of recent posts at The New Inquiry, Rob Horning writes about the construction of the self in social media as novelistic pleasure, ego depletion, and Foucauldian truth game.
The Melancholy of Subculture Society, an essay on the rise of multiple subcultures, the idea of “opting out” of the mainstream culture and the social and psychological benefits of the existence of alternative status hierarchies. [more inside]
Where a journalist tries to identify TheIneffableSwede, an online commenter on the Guardian website and elsewhere online. A journalist from the Guardian adds more context.
"The famous photographs of Lincoln assassination co-conspirator Lewis Powell show modern self-consciousness being born before an indifferent lens."
V.V. Ganeshananthan at The Margins on writing outside of what you know and the literary establishment's willingness to suspend disbelief and praise authenticity of narrative. As Gracie Jin put it, "In a society masquerading as post-racial, it is still only the white man who can speak authoritatively for every man."
"So why might a guy want to go on the lam? [The author of How To Disappear Completely and Never Be Found] lists three categories: legal, financial and psychological. He missed one. Scepticism: a cynical itch to find out whether the advice is sound and, if so, whether it's still relevant almost 30 years after it was published. Which is how I came to be...a 'lamster'." [more inside]
First Nations and the Future of Canadian Citizenship (CBC Ideas) Part history lesson, part memoir, the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations takes to the stage to share stories of the people he represents and his own past. In his lecture titled It Feels Like We're On the Cusp, National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo sets out why he believes First Nations peoples are on the cusp of change. via CBC Ideas [more inside]
"Unlike most teen dramas, Buffy wasn’t a narrative about finding an identity; it was always about having a lot of them." Kim O'Connor for The Toast on Buffy Summers, growing up, identity, and how saving the world every week is a better model than just getting through high school.
"Meanwhile, the Ruffs are wondering, too. They want to solve the mystery. At the very least, they want to be able to tell Blake and Lori’s daughter who her mother was. Yet they worry they’ll find out something terrible, something they wish they had never known." An East Texas woman commits suicide. Her distraught former husband opens the strongbox she'd forbidden him from accessing. The contents, however, continue to baffle investigators (and the public) - who are now requesting help with identifying the woman formerly known as "Lori Ruff".
Patrick Rodgers, who (previously) "foreclosed" on Wells Fargo, is now suing eBay over a case of mistaken identity.
This St. George's Day sees news of the next attempt to redress Britain's superhero shortage: Englishman, who looks like Iron Man crossed with a mediaeval crusader. The series promises “brand new, quintessentially English characters, including Greenbelt and Dry Stone Wall”. [more inside]
Short little film (SLYT) produced by the people at Dove that packs a lot of punch about how we see ourselves compared to how we see others.
Have you ever wondered if you might be fucking... but you weren't sure? Reggie Watts clarifies. SLYT, NSFW
January 13, 2013 marks the 125th anniversary of the National Geographic Society. The Magazine is celebrating by taking a yearlong look at the past and future of exploration. [more inside]
As the conversation about the state of games criticism continues, there is a site that acts as a platform for some of the best writing in the field by theorists, critics, and independent developers: Nightmare Mode dot net. [more inside]
"Which is another way of saying that Facebook is George Costanza's worst nightmare: It enforces, second by second, the collision of worlds."
Are Your Facebook Friends Stressing You Out? (Yes.) - "The finding, which is similar to one determined last year, is nice as a headline: It's both unexpected (friends! stressing you out! ha!) and ironic (the currency of the social web, taking value rather than adding it!). What's interesting, though, is the why of the matter: the idea that, the report theorizes, the wider your Facebook network, the more likely it is that something you say or do on the site will end up offending one of that network's members... Unsurprisingly, per the study's survey of more than 300 Facebook users, 'adding employers or parents resulted in the greatest increase in anxiety.'" [more inside]
You can accurately judge a person just by looking at their shoes, psychologists say. "Researchers at the University of Kansas found that people were able to correctly judge a stranger's age, gender, income, political affiliation, emotional and other important personality traits just by looking at the person's shoes." Virginia Postrel responded: "The study made a solid contribution to research on first impressions, but it was hardly earthshaking. By getting so much attention, however, it demonstrated a sociological truth: People love to talk about shoes. Even those who dismissed the research as silly often felt compelled to call radio stations or comment on websites, providing details about their own choices. Why this fascination with footwear? " [more inside]
"A conclusion is not the point at which you find the truth, it’s only the point at which the exploring stops. We do it quickly and unconsciously and the effects are long-lasting."
The person you used to be still tells you what to do: "We work from conclusions made years ago, usually with no idea of when we made them, or why. Most of our standing impressions are probably based on a single experience — one instance of unpleasantness or disappointment that turned you off of entire categories of recreational activities, lifestyles and creative pursuits, forever." (via notnamed)
"I don't see anything anti-American about not wanting to become an American citizen; it's similar to the fact that I don't know how to swim. I'm not anti-water; it just never mattered that much to me and my life is fine without it." Why I'm Still Not An American, an essay from a British green-card-holder with complex roots and complex feelings.
"Take everything you know and imagine about Freddie Mercury: the iconic British rock star, the philandering partier, the serial maker of testosteroned-anthems, and flip it around to something less familiar: Farrokh Bulsara, a demure, bucktoothed Indian boy in a Bombay boarding school, listening to Lata Mangeshkar, playing cricket." -- Janaki Challa writes about the contradiction in the openly gay image of Freddie Mercury the performer and his much more private cultural identity off it.
From Bible-Belt Pastor to Atheist Leader. Jerry DeWitt is a former Pentecostal pastor in the evangelical parish of DeRidder, Louisiana who slowly lost his religious faith. Last Fall, he went public with his atheism, committing what he calls "identity suicide," and instantly becoming "the most disliked person in town." Since then, Mr. DeWitt's lost his job, his wife, his community and may be losing his house, but is still persevering and working to help others who find themselves in similar circumstances. [more inside]