For a time this summer, it seemed all anyone could talk about was the N.A.A.C.P. chapter president whose parents had “outed” her as white. The tornado of public attention has since moved on, but Rachel Dolezal still has to live with her choices—and still refuses to back down.
DoubleX Gabfest: The Beazel Better Have My Money Edition - "On this week’s Gabfest, Slate’s Hanna Rosin and June Thomas join New York editor Noreen Malone to talk about what it means to be asexual, Rihanna’s music video for 'Bitch Better Have My Money' and other prefatory uses of bitch, and the 1939 film The Women." [more inside]
This Is What Ruby Rose Thinks About The Entire Internet 'Going Gay' For Her - Erin Whitney, Huffington Post | Girl On Girl: Why We Never Talk About Male Sexual Fluidity by Morgan Cohn, The Frisky | We Heart: Ruby Rose on Gender Fluidity - Emma Niles for Ms. Magazine
What does it mean to be black if you're a cop? Or Lupita Nyong’o? Or in the STEM fields? Or in the UK? Or China? Or simply black-ish?
StyleLikeU's "What's Underneath" Project features short videos of people from all walks of life slowly stripping down to their underwear, while giving revealing interviews intended to show that 'style is not the clothes one wears, but spirit, and comfort in one's skin.' Topics covered are as diverse as their subjects, and include beauty, fashion, disability, diseases and chronic conditions including albinism and cancer, career, gender, identity, body image/dysmorphia, abuse, miscarriage, etc. The majority of the subjects are women. Some videos may be NSFW. (Via)
Univalent Foundations Redefines Mathematics - "When a legendary mathematician found a mistake in his own work, he embarked on a computer-aided quest to eliminate human error. To succeed, he has to rewrite the century-old rules underlying all of mathematics." (previously) [more inside]
Understanding e to the pi i - "An intuitive explanation as to why e to the pi i equals -1 without a hint of calculus. This is not your usual Taylor series nonsense." (via via; reddit; previously) [more inside]
Adnan Khan: ‘Our Brownness Does Not Belong Here’
Do You Prefer "Native American" or "American Indian"? 6 Prominent Voices Respond "Wherever I go, from the reservation to the city, through the halls of academia, from younger to older, to the grassroots, and in social media, I hear numerous discussions and debates around how people choose to identify with certain references, e.g., which word is the most appropriate: Native American? Native? Indian? American Indian? Indigenous? My task here was to ask several friends and people whom I (and many others) admire what reference they feel most comfortable with."
The Asians Art Museum is a parody site bringing a cirtical lens to orientalist tropes in art museums, prompted particularly by rhetorical choices of the San Francisco Art Museum's 2009 Lords of the Samurai exhibition [audio]. It highlights the tendency for museums showing Asian art to present their shows as a"a harmless trip to a fantasyland of romanticized premodern Otherness, a place where dreams of Manifest Destiny never have to die?" [more inside]
Bruce Jenner Says He’s Transitioning to a Woman [New York Times]
Bruce Jenner, the Olympic gold medalist and member of the Kardashian family, ended months of speculation Friday night when he announced during an ABC television special that he identified as a woman and was making the transition from male to female.[more inside]
What Russians really think - "Many in the west see Russia as aggressive and brainwashed. But its citizens have a different view." Meanwhile,[1,2] in Moscow and Lviv...
The Trans 100 (pdf) is not an award ceremony. It is not a list of the “Best” or the “Most Important” trans people. It is not a popularity contest and there are many individuals absent from the list who are doing excellent work. More are no longer with us. To quote The Trans 100 Co-Founder Jen Richards, The Trans 100 “is an intentionally curated list of out trans people who are working on trans issues in the United States and having a positive impact.” [more inside]
"What would it mean to live in a society where people seek only the significant same." Reductionist discourses tend to infiltrate both genetic and big data enterprises. Could these discourses imperceptibly close rather than open the prospect for us to decide what we want to become—what we want our futures to be? Could such discourses also “hide rather than reveal the deepest sources of social ills,” which shape the evolution of our genes and identities?
"Ida" (trailer: YouTube & Apple) is a black & white (and a Polish language) film from Poland by director Pavel Pawlikowski (this link contains spoilers). Hailed a film "masterpiece" by more than one critic, the film has now been recognized in America by not just one Oscar nomination (Foreign Language Film) but a 2nd in the broader category of Cinematography. For those interested in filmmaking, cinematography, and lighting, here is a look at three scenes from Ida. More? Here are another four scenes. The film is not without controversy, including Poles who are upset at the portrayal of their countrymen (and women) during the Nazi occupation and the Stalinism that followed WWII. Does 'Ida' misrepresent Poland's treatment of Jews?
Some are kept in shoe boxes in a forgotten closet corner. Others are glued carefully into albums and kept on the family bookshelf. Many have been lost forever, destroyed out of panic or indifference. In Ukraine, whose tumultuous 20th-century history has spilled over into a bloody battle for its 21st-century identity, every picture tells a story. RFE/RL's Daisy Sindelar traveled to six Ukrainian cities to talk to people about what their old family photographs say to them about who they, and their country, are today. [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."