Trump inauguration as the reductio-ad-absurdum for US democracy

Est Reading Time: 4 min Democracy Index Map [CN: Trump] Today will be the US inauguration. Given the importance of the Electoral College for Trump’s victory it’s a great time to examine why self-identifying as a democratic country doesn’t mean shit. Democracy has a pretty good brand so naturally countries want to identify as having democratic institutions. A lot of the time discussions about whether something’s a democracy devolve into bickering about technical definitions (eg. “democracy vs republic”). I think that’s a waste. We can establish common ground about what people might mean by democracy. For example: a country where all its people (to the […]

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Rashida Jones on the documentary Hot Girls Wanted

Est Reading Time: 6 min [CN: Porn including some graphic exerpts, sexual assault] Vice has a very interesting interview with Rashida Jones on the documentary Hot Girls Wanted which she co-produced. I haven’t seen the doco yet but the interview alone is worth a look: [Video Link] Jones starts out saying she has “no problem with porn as adult entertainment,” and if she did, who cares since she can’t exactly put a stop to people watching porn. The rest of the interview is about the documentary which is a critique of the “amateur” porn scene in Miami, Florida. Jones’s take is much better than any […]

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Aleppo has come full circle

Est Reading Time: 4 min As horrifying as the stories coming out of Aleppo have been, I hope you’ve been seeing a lot of them. One of the many issues with how the media covers events like these is how most of us lack the historical context — in other words we know fuck all about Aleppo. Instead of providing some (any) context, outlets typically write from the frame of “the war”, but without even explaining much about the war. For example, most stories about the evacuation haven’t mentioned Kefraya and Fua which are a key element. It good to see a mainstream media post […]

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Tut-tutting about filter bubbles & echochambers misses the point

Est Reading Time: 5 min [CN:Trump] One of the narratives that’s emerged from Trump’s victory is that “we” anti-Trumpers have been living in a “filter bubble” or “echochamber”. In the standard white liberal pundit narrative (which I shat on in the previous post), social media means we only see things we agree with which has led to where we are now. While this narrative has a grain of truth, the way it’s been discussed has been misleading and simplistic. Yes humans are tribal creatures — all of us, regardless of our politics. We’re subject to biases that distort our picture about the world. We will […]

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Respectability Politics Must Die

Est Reading Time: 7 min [CN:Trump][I’ve had a bit of a hiatus due to life but now that The World Has ChangedTM I can’t help but write again.]So much to say and do. I’ll take it one bite at a time. You’ve had two weeks to look at dozens of analyses (some academic, some viral/populist) of WHOSE FAULT it was that Trump had won. I’m sure you’re familiar with this narrative. That it was a protest vote against the establishment/’elites’. That it was cast by people who have been for too long ignored, condescended to and abused with the r-word, the h-word, the m-word by […]

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Can we let Syrians speak for themselves?

Est Reading Time: 1 min A year ago, the refugee issue took on an extra emotional charge because of the iconic image of three-year-old Alan Kurdi, a boy whose drowned body washed up on Turkey’s Mediterranean coast. I won’t reproduce that photo but this year’s comparable image is of six-year-old Omran Daqneesh sitting in an ambulance after surviving a Russian airstrike on Aleppo (his brother Ali Daqneesh died from his injuries): You might have also seen a letter that a 6 year old boy wrote to President Obama about how he wants to help Omran (which Obama read at the UN):

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Dalai Lama defines religious violence out of existence

Est Reading Time: 4 min This week, the Dalai Lama engaged in more mealy-mouthed bullshit that went viral because it’s telling many people what they want to hear. In condemning religious violence (yay DL?) he said that anyone partaking in violent activities is not a genuine practitioner of their religion. Here’s a quick quote from This Independent article: Buddhist terrorist. Muslim terrorist. That wording is wrong, Any person who wants to indulge in violence is no longer a genuine Buddhist or genuine Muslim, because it is a Muslim teaching that once you are involved in bloodshed, actually you are no longer a genuine practitioner of […]

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If you compare marriage equality to interracial marriage, put your money where your mouth is

Est Reading Time: 4 min Stuff is happening with marriage equality and the plebiscite clusterfuck, some of which might have changed by the time you read this post. If you’re not up to speed: a strong majority of MPs support marriage equality but due to the right wing faction of the Coalition, the current issue is still the (probably dead) plebiscite which is opposed by 85% of LGBT people and will be a disaster for these very scientific reasons as well as the inevitable (already happening!) hateful propaganda of a No campaign plus the problem (already happening!) of someone’s rights being up for an opinion […]

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Rape of sex workers and “theft of services”

Est Reading Time: 3 min So I’m a bit late to the party but in 2015, the Chicago Sun Times published what is officially the douchiest editorial ever. By Mary Mitchell, it took exception to the rape of a sex worker being characterised as such and prosecuted because it’s “making a mockery of rape victims”. Here are some choice excerpts so you don’t have to read the original charmingly entitled Rape Case Sends Mixed Messages on Prostitution. I don’t have one iota of sympathy for Akins’ [the alleged perp’s] plight. But I’m grateful he isn’t being accused of snatching an innocent woman off the street. […]

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Segregated seating on planes: is a non-bigoted compromise possible?

Est Reading Time: 6 min The behaviour of Chareidi (more commonly known as “Ultra-Orthodox”) flight passengers has hit international news a few times, mostly around them not wanting to sit next to women who have at times been asked to switch seats, something El Al is being sued over. There have been some other stories too, eg. Chareidi men who have smashed a flight screen showing an “immodest” movie or flying in plastic bags (such as the ones pictured) which protect their Kohanic selves from the ritual impurity of flying over a cemetery (more info here). The issue of El Al and segregated seating is […]

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