∞ “Some Days Have Bouncers That Won’t Let You In.” by Eden Riley.
“I can’t write on this website about every single thing that happens in my life. It would be wrong, hurtful, inappropriate, and incredibly fucking juicy. I try to be a decent person I really do. Loving my boys and being a good mother is the most important thing in my life. Their parents separated and seeing the pain on their faces, especially lately, is awful. It’s really hard to be living in this rented house by myself. Winter is here and there’s no proper heating and the lawns are so big I have to pay somebody to do it regularly and on the weeks I don’t have the boys I eat cold tinned spaghetti straight out of a can. I fucking hate tinned spaghetti but when there’s just me here what’s the point. I’ve put the same load of washing through the machine about five times now but keep forgetting to hang it up. It won’t dry on the clothesline and I don’t have a dryer. There’s a mountain of mail on my kitchen table that I’m terrified to open. My Foxtel has been cut off and I have to pay a cancellation fee to get rid of it and I just might because how can I flick through over a hundred channels and there’s still nothing to watch? Hey remember when we just had five TV channels and that was it?
The last time I felt this lonely was probably at the tail end of my drinking days in the nineties. Lost, confused, in pain, damaged, and successfully pushed away everybody in my life who truly cared about me.
I’m angry and so so hurt. And silent, because sometimes I go silent. Bono says some days have bouncers that won’t let you in. People often assume that just because I’m not on social media much or have updated my very very important twitter or Instagram or whatever the fuck else there is out there these days – well, people often assume that I have gone off the rails. I know it’s mostly coming from a caring place but it’s really starting to piss me off. It’s my blog and there will be tumbleweeds blowing through here if I want to. Some days everything is wrong and I want to punch inspirational quotes in the face, rage at the state of the world out there and the world in my heart. I don’t even want to be happy – just ok. I just want to be ok. I fight to be ok.”
∞ “And the Robot Horse You Rode In On (Anna Anthropy), with some thoughts about Spider and Web” by Emily Short.
“The technical virtuosity of the Plotkinesque world model is gone: Robot Horse has a few sequences where you’re doing cunning things with robots and devices, but they’re straightforward to perform and don’t dominate the player’s attention; there’s a magician’s choice, as far as I could tell, in the endgame, where the player has several options about where to look for the stash of chips and all of them are correct, because hesitation would be narratively out of place at this point. The Chair Puzzle is gone. The text straightforwardly tells you that you’d been lying to Di as soon as you need that information. Instead the climax comes in a massive screaming match in which you’re both searching for the most long-winded and ridiculously over the top insults you can scream at one another, in a way prefigured by the game’s title. It also is great, because it’s fulfilling a narrative and emotional promise that’s been there all along.
Meanwhile the human connection between interrogator and victim is turned up to 11. The primary stakes in Spider and Web are about whether you’ll survive and whether you’ll finish your mission. The primary stakes in Robot Horse are about your relationship with Di, and specifically about the sexualized power exchange between you. You may theoretically care about the credit chips but really, really the important thing is that question at the end: was this whole episode at least partly in fun, something that can be swallowed up by your relationship and end in a make-out session? Or is it a fatal break between you, and unforgivable? Have you hurt each other just enough, or too much, this time?”
∞ “Crouch, Touch, Pause, Revere” by Megan Vaughan.
“I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about what being a fan is, and what being a fan means and what being a fan can do, because Simon and I are making a Chris Brett Bailey fanzine and because a teenage girl on twitter built a viral community around the adoration of Ed Miliband (!!!), and because what is even the point of loving anything at all in the whole world if it’s not to share those feelings around a bit. A show about Alexander McQueen has just opened in London and the reviews have been dogshit, basically calling it a misguided piece of indulgent fanfic. I haven’t seen it, and I don’t really give much of a fuck about fashion, but so what if it is fanfic? So what if it is a paean rather than some clinical exploration of a person’s talents and flaws? Gareth Thomas was found guilty of assault in 2005; not mentioned in tonight’s show at all. If Crouch, Touch, Pause, Engage was a David Simon series for HBO, we’d probably come away thinking it was a shame he’d behaved like such a tosser to his wife. What do we lose by looking through rose-tinted glasses in this case though? Is this a weaker piece of theatre for not challenging its protagonist? Is a fandom just another permutation of naivety?
Do me a favour: look at the guys in this picture, the one at the top of this post. Next time you’re at the theatre I want you to imagine you’re sitting between them. Maybe they’re not specifically Welsh rugby fans in your version, but they are fans of whatever show it is that you’re watching, whichever theatremakers have made the work, whichever characters are having their stories told. Imagine you’re sitting between those guys, with their flags and their face paint, and tell me it’s not made you just a little bit happier, your night a little bit more joyful.
It’s like in that column that Trueman wrote a while ago: “There’s onllllyyyyy onnnnnne Katie Mitchell! There’s onllllyyyyy onnnnnne Katie Mitchell!” That chant pops into my head often, and I don’t even like Katie Mitchell that much. But I do like the idea that there are people out there who like her that much. I do like the idea that we’re all capable of liking stuff really really fucking much. Because isn’t liking stuff just great? Isn’t it such a joy to like stuff? I love it. I love liking stuff. I love that I love it. I am a fan, and I fucking love it.”
∞ “[NB] Computers, Consciousness, and Dark Corners” at viagnostica.
“I’m not one of those folks who likes to draw many comparisons from studies of computing processes and apply them to human behavior. I tend to think that computers mimic human consciousness more because of the human beings that structure and use them rather than them being intrinsically conscious. I may be wrong about that, but that’s my working hypothesis.
Nonetheless, when I see articles like this one describing hallucinogenic computer recognition results, I’m intrigued. If the computer seems conscious because it is an expression of human consciousness, then these accounts can still tell us something about ourselves.
Part of what intrigues me is that these results describing computer recognition provide strong parallels for what happens in ecstatic states, whether they are motivated by neurological misfires, the use of entheogens, and/or the disciplined cultivation of our own perceptual capacities (including dream work, singing, and dancing, as well as things like meditation). What does seem to happen is that our pattern-recognition capacities become disconnected from the schematic-habitual patterns that predetermine sensory experience before we become conscious of it.
In that space, our pattern-recognition capacities acquire a degree of freedom from our habits and can ‘play’ at ‘recognizing’ different things in the stream of sensory input. The curve of a table leg can be mapped through our animal schema, becoming a serpent or a horse’s back. Even outside the spiritual possibilities this opens, these states are likely quite adaptive, at the root of our capacity to adjust how we see and relate to the world.”
∞ “PolySocial Reality: You’re Soaking in It!” by Sally A. Applin and Dr. Michael D. Fischer, via Alastair Somerville.
“PolySocial Reality (PoSR) (Applin and Fischer 2011) is a model that describes the condition of information flowing in a system in multiple ways at multiple times and how people, software, and machines act on it (or not). PoSR examines all messages: Human/Human, Human/Machine, Machine/Machine. People and things act on information at the same (synchronous) or different (asynchronous) times. This creates different outcomes such as a lack of understanding, or partial understanding which can lead to more messages needing to be created or messages not being received as well as sociability though mediated devices at the expense of the local locale. These conditions can lead to a lack of cooperation. We are dependent on each other to maintain many complex systems for food, energy, water, etc.. We need to communicate well in order to cooperate and survive. PoSR looks at the aggregate of all of the information in the messaging system, digital and analog.
Formally, PolySocial Reality (PoSR) describes the multiple, sometimes overlapping, network transaction spaces that people traverse synchronously and asynchronously with others to maintain and use social relationships and systems; a conceptual model for the global interaction context within which people experience social interactions whether immediate or mediated by technology.”
∞ “A Few Thoughts on Xenofeminism” at Post-futurum, via synthetic_zero.
“What this manifesto manages to do so beautifully, is that it destroys the ongoing “project” within mainstream left-politics and liberal feminism to ontologize oppression, that is to say, to recreate a secular version of original sin. XFM seems to be able to combat this by creating (what I refer to in a previous post), a weaponized theory, a technomagick, something which allows us to navigate the webs and networks which techno-capitalism produces. One can see how the “network” is a useful replacement to the outdated concept of the physical commune. By recognizing the potential of networking, in the form of small IRC chatrooms, informal twitter posse’s, Tumblr, Ello, etc, XFM manages to incorporate these attributes and gives them an important place in it’s feminist networkology. Understanding these realities, one could even go as far as to say that the internet has the potential to abolish the mandatory gendered subject altogether, Or in better terms: the internet can allow for an opening up of a multiplicity. The transforming of the subject to something which is pure networked thought.
What makes XFM particularly important is that it takes advantage of the terminology of open source software. By allowing for the formulation of an “open-ended feminism,” XFM enables the creation of a feminism with multiple forks, clones, prostheses and I/O ports. A feminism of “universal ports, interfaces and orifices.” It is in this sense that XFM is fundamentally an inhuman (or posthuman) philosophy. In that it’s account for the subject (the “person”, the “individual”, the human) it recognizes the fluidity/liquidity of the subject as something akin to hot liquid, something which can be molded into a non-human thing. It is this dark excess which gives XFM it’s essential aesthetic.”
∞ “The ethics of defence” by Catriona MacLennan.
“Our Australian and New Zealand legal systems are based on an adversarial approach. Trials are a contest between the prosecution and the defence, ending in a ‘win’ or a ‘loss’, both for the parties and for the lawyers. Reputation, media publicity and lucrative cases come to lawyers who are seen to obtain good outcomes for their clients. For defence lawyers, a good outcome is an acquittal.
There is no similar financial reward or career advancement to be gained from advocating on behalf of rape survivors. There are no paid survivor-advocate lawyers in either Australia or New Zealand. Legal aid provided by governments in both countries pays for lawyers to defend the accused, but not for lawyers to represent the survivor.
In addition, lawyers – like other members of the community – want to think well of themselves and to believe that they are contributing to society, at the same time as earning an income.
Accordingly, there is every incentive for them to believe that false rape complaints are common, and that many men charged with rape are innocent victims of deceitful and vindictive women. Adhering to these myths allows defence lawyers to see themselves as gallant defenders of the freedom of the innocent.
The unpalatable alternative would be for barristers to admit that they are spending a large amount of their time securing acquittals for men in sexual assault cases when the defendants are actually guilty.
Who would want to accept that this is the way they spend their working life?”
∞ “Fearful Symmetry” by Scott Alexander.
“Getting back to the thesis, my point is there are a lot of social justice arguments I really hate, but which I find myself unintentionally reinventing any time things go really bad for me, or I feel like myself or my friends are being persecuted.
Once events provoke a certain level of hypervigilance in someone – which is very easy and requires only a couple of people being hostile, plus the implication that they there’s much more hostility hidden under the surface – then that person gets in fear for their life and livelihood and starts saying apparently bizarre things: that nobody treats them as a person, that their very right to exist is being challenged. Their increasingly strident rhetoric attracts increasingly strident and personal counter-rhetoric from the other side, making them more and more threatened until they reach the point where Israel is stealing their shoe. And because they feel like every short-term battle is the last step on the slippery slope to their total marginalization, they engage in crisis-mode short-term thinking and are understandably willing to throw longer-term values like free speech, politeness, nonviolence, et cetera, under the bus.
Although it’s very easy enter this state of hypervigilance yourself no matter how safe you are, it’s very hard to understand why anyone else could possibly be pushed into it despite by-the-numbers safety. As a result, we constantly end up with two sides both shouting “You’re making me live in fear, and also you’re making the obviously false claim that you live in fear yourself! Stop it!” and no one getting anywhere. At worst, it degenerates into people saying “These people are falsely accusing me of persecuting them, and falsely claiming to be persecuted themselves, I’ll get back at them by mocking them relentlessly, doxxing them, and trying to make them miserable!” and then you get the kind of atmosphere you find in places like SRS and Gamergate and FreeThoughtBlogs.
But I’m also slightly optimistic for the future. The conservative side seems to have been about ten years behind the progressive side in this, but they’re catching up quickly. Now everybody has to worry about being triggered, everybody has to worry about their comments being taken out of context by Gawker/Breitbart and used to get them fired and discredit their entire identity group, everybody has to worry about getting death threats, et cetera. This is bad, but also sort of good. When one side has nukes, they nuke Hiroshima and win handily. When both sides have nukes, then under the threat of mutually assured destruction they eventually come up with protocols to prevent those nukes from being used.”
∞ “Men Adrift” via David Hepworth.
“Tallulah may be an extreme example, but it is part of a story playing out across America and much of the rest of the rich world. In almost all societies a lot of men enjoy unwarranted advantages simply because of their sex. Much has been done over the past 50 years to put this injustice right; quite a bit still remains to be done.
The dead hand of male domination is a problem for women, for society as a whole—and for men like those of Tallulah. Their ideas of the world and their place in it are shaped by old assumptions about the special role and status due to men in the workplace and in the family, but they live in circumstances where those assumptions no longer apply. And they lack the resources of training, of imagination and of opportunity to adapt to the new demands. As a result, they miss out on a lot, both in economic terms and in personal ones.
For those at the top, James Brown’s observation that it is a man’s, man’s, man’s world still holds true. Some 95% of Fortune 500 CEOs are male, as are 98% of the self-made billionaires on the Forbes rich list and 93% of the world’s heads of government. In popular films fewer than a third of the characters who speak are women, and more than three-quarters of the protagonists are men. Yet the fact that the highest rungs have male feet all over them is scant comfort for the men at the bottom.
Technology and trade mean that rich countries have less use than they once did for workers who mainly offer muscle. A mechanical digger can replace dozens of men with spades; a Chinese steelworker is cheaper than an American.”
∞ “Horror’s True Gift” by Leigh Cowart.
“Just this past week, the number of new cases of Ebola increased in Sierra Leone, Guinea, and Liberia for the first time in 2015. In the same report, the WHO warns that Ebola response “still faces significant challenges.” Not to mention, the wet season is approaching, which will make travel within regions affected by the outbreak all the more treacherous.
And the West has stopped caring.
When I talk to my children about watching or reading the news, I always mention the story of the boy who cried wolf. Signalling danger to others is one of the fastest routes to attention, and we are certainly an attention-based economy. (It’s one of the reasons girls are taught to shout “fire” instead of “rape.”) Shriek down from the platform of legitimacy and find your audience; instill a baseline level of fear, and watch people line up with trembling hands for the chance to beat the foe du jour before their neighbours smell your terror themselves.
But, repeated enough, even horror becomes boring. This isn’t necessarily the kind of apathy borne of malice, but of comfort, routine—the shout of “wolf!” turning into an empty threat. The problem here, however, is that the wolf is real, and it’s busy as hell—it’s just that the threatened sheep aren’t our own.”
∞ “UnDemo – creating public debate” by Alastair Somerville.
“Campaigners for social justice and change can be lovely people when they’re in a group together.
Get them onto the street and it’s all placards and righteousness.
This is not a great way of engaging with new people.
If the purpose is to tell a government, corporation or other organisation that you disapprove and they are unwilling to listen through normal channels then demo’s are great.
For convincing the undecided and recruiting new members, less so.
It’s a forceful and physical way of pointing out an opinion.
It’s not a way of engaging in conversation or discussion.
So we come to the idea of UnDemo’s. It’s from a chat with Marianne and Jeneth.
Going out with placards of questions, fold out seats and paper.
Don’t go to tell people what is wrong and what you know is right.
Go out with your questions and ask people about their opinion and ideas.
Sit down and chat.
Write and draw ideas out.
Listen and learn.
Change but on somebody else’s terms?
People often complain that other people don’t seem interested or involved in social or political change.
They often say this in small rooms in conferences far away from those ‘other people’.”
∞ “Good services are verbs, bad services are nouns” by Louise Downe.
“To a user, a service is simple. It’s something that helps them to do something – like learn to drive, buy a house, or become a childminder. It’s an activity that needs to be done. A verb that comes naturally from a given situation that cuts across transactions, call centre menus and around advisors towards its goal.
But this isn’t how government sees a service.
For government, services are discrete transactions that need to be completed in a particular way. Because of this, they need to be easily identifiable so that the people who are operating them can become familiar with them and assist a user to complete the task. So we’ve given these transactions names, nouns, that help to keep track of them. Things like ‘Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1995 (RIDDOR)’ or ‘Statutory Off Road Vehicle Notification (SORN)’.
The trouble with names like these are that you need to be introduced to them before you can use them, meaning that part of ‘doing a thing’ means learning what government calls the thing you’re trying to do.
Imagine walking into crowded room and trying to find a doctor, and only once you’ve learned her name can you ask her to help you. That’s how using a lot of government services works.”
∞ “Working as a disabled person, not as simple as just having a job” by Milly.
“What many people are able to do is to use the wheelchair voucher provided by their local wheelchair services to fund the part Access to Work expect you to pay for home use. I don’t have that option as my local wheelchair service do not run the Wheelchair Voucher Scheme, that leaves us liable for thousands of pounds of part payment towards the wheelchair I need to keep me in work.
All this is irrelevant if we don’t have a home that is wheelchair accessible, or can be made so. For those that haven’t read any previous posts, we presently live in a 2nd floor flat with no lift. To get myself in and out of the flat I have 3 and a half flights of stairs to navigate on gutter crutches.
Not only is this exhausting, painful and dangerous it is also having a negative effect on my health; or as my consultant wrote in a letter ‘causing a significant worsening of her condition’.
I could refuse to climb them but then I’d be housebound and lose my job; so I grit my teeth, take the morphine and push on despite knowing it’s making me worse.”
∞ “All of the above” by Emily Gould.
“At what would turn out to be my third to last regular weekly appointment with my midwives, Karen (one of the two midwives) listened to his heart and there was something weird about the heartbeat. We all heard it: a sort of a lull between beats every few beats, or maybe they became too close together during that lull, it was hard to tell. It hadn’t been there a week ago. I was full term; if there was something wrong, we all knew (but did not discuss) that he would have to be delivered that day and would maybe immediately have to have some kind of surgery done on his tiny heart. Karen called a pediatric cardiologist and asked if we could come in right away, and we could. I dressed in one of my two remaining garments that fit (the midwives come to your house, so I had been in pajamas) and we put on our shoes. Karen drove us the three blocks to the G train to save time. We had decided to take the G to the L because it is faster than taking a car to 14th and 7th Ave, our destination, but that wait for the G train — a wait I have done so many countless times over the course of the last decade of my G train-adjacent life — was one of the worst moments of my life. I thought about what I had in my bag and how ridiculous it would be if this was the bag I would have with me in the hospital. I didn’t even have a book! We planned to give birth at home, so I had never thought about packing a hospital bag, it had seemed like a jinx. Keith said something to me about the baby and he used the joke name we’d been calling him, the placeholder we’d been using until we landed on something that seemed actually right. “THAT’S NOT HIS NAME,” I said and burst into tears. A name seemed so important all of a sudden, like it could tether our baby to us and to life.
The sonogram or EKG or whatever took ten hundred thousand silent years of first a technician and then the doctor pushing HARD into my navel with the wand in order to get the thing as close as possible to the baby’s chest, inside me. We stared at the screen with no idea of what we should be seeing or hearing. The doctor finally told us that the arrythmia was arterial (which is ok) as opposed to ventricular (which is not) and that he was okay with me delivering at home, even if it was still there at my next appointment with the midwives, even if it was still there in labor.”
∞ “Whose Story?” by Mark Neary.
“But all in all, am I telling Steven’s story?
I don’t think I’m telling my story. I’m not being booked to tell my story. I’m in the story but its not mine.
Am I telling “our story”? Steven and I aren’t on the platform together, so probably not. But at the same time, I am telling a story that involves the pair of us.
So perhaps I’m just telling “a” story.
Does that matter? I think it did to the guy who challenged me. Later that day, I followed a discussion about LBBill, where the focus was that it was a “parent led” project. In the same way that I had been telling a parent led story. Steven led the events of 2010, I lead the telling of the story. Is the LBBill parent led? There are a lot of parent voices involved, for sure. There are also lots of non parents involved. There are also, most importantly, lots of disabled voices in the Bill.
I get confused and embarrassed when I’m challenged by a disabled person over what they see as the shortage of disabled voice in the Bill. Instead of me trying to ensure Steven’s wishes and best interests are included in the Bill, should I step out and hand over to an advocate to speak on his behalf? Even the non verbal have a voice but seldom have a platform, so how will their voice be heard? Is it really so wrong for the parent or carer to try and provide that platform. Steven knows about the LBBill. If I’m totally honest, he hasn’t shown a blind bit of interest in it, no matter how much I’ve tried to involve him. But without me, LBBill wouldn’t get within 100 miles of Steven’s radar because his voice isn’t available unless he’s asked. And nobody, and I include all the disabled organisations in this would ask him. There is no point in waiting for, for example, Mencap to find him. Steven, and his voice, is inaccessible unless it is sought and nobody but his friends and family are going to do that.
My apologies for the confusion of this post. I certainly have more questions than answers. And it’s probably going to take ages, if ever, for me to get my head around these issues.”