A tale of two blockades

[CN: War, starvation, genocide] The legacy of WWII is a much bigger deal in the former Soviet Union than can be imagined in many other countries. The Victory Day celebrations of May 9th are a major international event in Moscow (although this year’s 70th anniversary was poorly attended by representatives because of the situation in Ukraine) that reverberate in the media and private consciousness. In comparison, there’s little commemoration in (say) Australia that’s specifically dedicated to WWII. The former Soviet republics’ strong focus is understandable. WWII caused about 26 million deaths in the USSR, or about 14% of the total […]

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On revoking affirmative consent

[CN: sexual assault talk, more graphic than previous posts] Last week, I looked at the specific wording of a law that talks about the application of affirmative consent in Californian colleges. One part of the law deserved a post of its own: Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. In the last two posts I’ve deliberately kept the language gender-neutral. The assumption of rape as having a male perpetrator and female victim erases a lot of other possibilities including male victims and female defendants (see these posts for more). This is […]

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Examining an affirmative consent law

[CN: Sexual assault etc.] Last week I posted about what a paradigm of affirmative consent would look like. A lot of the post was general, not talking about specific legislation. And yet, the whole media frenzy was around some of the new affirmative consent laws in college campuses in the US. So let’s look at one of the actual pieces of legislation at the centre of the media discussions. A good candidate would be the California affirmative consent bill SB-967. I’ll quote it item by item with my commentary (skipping the background text and stopping where they get to specific […]

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Affirmative consent: not that hard in life and in law

[CN: Sexual assault etc.] Last year, the idea of affirmative consent was first put into place by some US college campuses. This sparked a lot of discussion, some good and some, ahem, “sub-optimal”. Maybe we’ll remember 2014 as the year of the rape singularity that signalled a change in the way culture and law treat rape. As expected, a lot of conservatives were absolutely outraged. The main arguments being that this allegedly erodes due process for the defendant, that it turns the presumption of innocence into a presumption of guilt, that it is unrealistic and that it could criminalise most […]

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Dear fellow straight people

It’s been a massive weekend on social media. Best summarised by this photo (if anyone can source it please let me know): People have been posting and liking and rainbowifying profiles like there’s no tomorrow. It’s great to feel good when something good happens. And hopefully this will have a positive effect on Australia. But this is also a great time to read more things by LGBT people and get to know the issues more. Especially since sometimes reactions that we non-LGBTs think of as supportive or positive, aren’t. Here are 5 great LGBT-voiced articles: There has been a lot […]

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How a lateral thinking puzzle showcases privilege and disproves “objectivity”

Futility Closet is a podcast where the hosts explore historical oddities, trivia and strange tales. I like it a lot, but they have a fairly specific tone, I guess to increase its mass appeal. It’s apolitical, avoids [IMO] controversial topics and since it’s about whether certain things happened there is a natural focus on objectivity. None of this is necessarily bad, as long as we understand that being apolitical is also an explicit political stance and the frame of objectivity is also an ideological stance. Both of these are –– like it or not –– tied to respectability politics, civility […]

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When PSAs take advantage of prejudice, bias or ignorance

[CN: Racist imagery below] ……………………………… What does the image above make you think? While there’s a wide range of possible reactions, I predict the vast majority of people would be simultaneously repulsed by the racist imagery while possibly agreeing with the actual messages of the poster (ie. car safety and minimising waste). I hope most people wouldn’t consider this as an acceptable way to make a public service announcement or that the benefit of the announcement outweighs the splash damage. This is because the splash damage here is so apparent to us because it’s “vintage” and taken from another cultural […]

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The internet IS real life: against the terms online- & cyber-

I’ve got some breaking news: the internet is here to stay. Discounting major catastrophes, it’s going to become a larger and larger part of the lives of everyone on earth. So it’s time to stop treating it as some novel, completely separate part of human experience. One way we do this is with language that has modifiers for the online version of an activity. To be sure, if you can do something both online and offline, there will be a difference between the two. But if you look at the way online modifiers are used in culture, it’s often to […]

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Sydney’s war against the homeless is a form of social cleansing

[CN: Dehumanisation, crimes against humanity] In addition to the problems intrinsic to homelessness, homeless people often suffer from deliberate harm by others. For example, this story documents how often gangs of [non-homeless] people have been attacking homeless people in Melbourne, stealing their things and even throwing them into the Yarra river. It’s hard to fathom the callous sense of entitlement and belief in the just world fallacy that would drive such actions, but these have been taken to much greater extremes in parts of Latin America. Social cleansing is the act of targeting people you deem “undesirable” for the selfless […]

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How to use bad science to trash ereaders

Studies of ereading Studies about how reading paper books compares to reading electronic devices like a Kobo have gotten some attention in the media. Which makes sense because it’s often a chance to have a great moral panic about how technology is now ruining reading, or maybe even cognition. I’ve posted about technology panics before but ereader stories deserve a special, dishonourable mention. Here’s the story from August 2014 in the Guardian: Readers absorb less on Kindles than on paper, study finds. I’ll quote a large chunk to set the context. A new study which found that readers using a […]

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The thinly-veiled identity of lives and rants in Sydney. Views not his own, provided by hivemind. All my original work on this blog is licensed under a CC BY-NC License. Click here for the privacy policy

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