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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Sympathy for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev vs the Bali Nine

In the last few days, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev (the living Boston marathon bomber) has been in the news again. Having been convicted on all counts in April, he has just now been sentenced to death by lethal injection. Coming off the recent executions of Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran by Indonesia and the furore this has caused in Australia, this is a good time to examine the public’s reaction to the death penalty. Firstly, about the process. Tsarnaev’s sentence was decided by a jury who could have also chosen not to apply the death penalty. However, apparently being anti-death penalty is […]

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The problem with global indexes

In the last decade, we’ve seen an explosion in the media of country-based rankings/indexes that are meant to measure more than “just” traditional economic metrics like GDP. While GDP is an important measure that tells us something about what’s going on in a region, it’s very easy to see that it misses a huge chunk of the bigger picture. That kind of stuff is a bit harder to see for something like the World Happiness Index. But we have to be skeptical. Not because these types of indexes are worthless (although some have huge problems) but because without a critical […]

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97% of porn statistics are made up on the spot

[CN: Contains links to SFW pages on NSFW/porn sites] Everybody loves a good porn usage story in the mainstream media. The latest one to hit the rounds was this one from Salon/Alternet about the Middle East’s use of porn, but these stories do the rounds quite regularly. They are however often based on really shoddy research methods or misunderstandings about the internet. And yet, this is an area that’s worth studying, reporting and reading about. It’s interesting but there are real social issues at stake too. We need to know about this as a society, for the sake of policy […]

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It’s been 100 years since the Armenian Genocide, denialism going strong

This Saturday, April 25th, Australia will commemorate the ANZAC Centenary. On April 25th 1915, the ANZAC troops landed in Gallipoli, and there will be plenty of information about that in the media and in official channels –– before, during and after. This makes it likely that at least in Australia, the other major anniversary won’t get the attention it deserves –– a sad irony since they’re so related. Because the day before the ANZACs landed (April 24th 1915), a very short distance away, the events that would lead to the Armenian Genocide got started. And the Armenian Genocide itself has […]

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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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