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Opposites

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.09.18

This is probably a fool's errand - surely we all lost patience for any Republican so long ago that pretending to take an innocent peek into their folksy ways of thinking just makes us want to punch holes in walls? That is how I feel. And yet!

This was posted on FB by a progressive person, quoting a conservative family member's comment:

I've been thinking about the liberal mindset a lot and I have come to a conclusion that makes sense to me. Liberals don't want to be held accountable or feel shame over their personal decisions (abortion, drug use, etc), so they try to stand on a moral high ground by demanding things for others (healthcare, free college, immigrant "rights"). This makes them feel like they are moral people without actually being moral.

(To be clear: I don't know the progressive person nor the conservative quotee.)

I want to juxtapose it with a FB post that one of you shared. The photo shows a bunch of Nazis on a picnic, truly relaxed and enjoying themselves:

There are not good people on both sides. There are party girls and weekend polka players everywhere, people who are kind to their children and bake extra cookies for their neighbors, but some people choose to be the instruments of horror and others do not, and history is rightfully merciless to the former.

(You can click and read the link to the whole post without logging into FB.)

Both people are framing morality in terms of your private morality and public morality. I just don't understand the conservative in the first quote who thinks that public morality doesn't count.

I think this is what Yggles was getting at when he said he can't relate to Carlson's wife whatsoever - he just can't understand how she can be so indifferent to public morality and then interpret what happened to her as being a purely a threat in the realm of private morality. I don't agree with Yggles exactly, but I don't think he's a monster for being fed up with people who are indifferent to public morality.


 

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Leftwing violence

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.08.18

Part of me wants to shrug and applaud the violence and threats against Tucker Carlson's house. Because fuck him. But I'm old enough to know that that impulse is probably wrong.

On a slightly different tangent, I always have this question around the "burn shit down/anarchy" side of things: what exactly are the daily activities that make up burning shit down? I still have to feed the kids, and they still need to fill 12 hours a day somehow. Do people quit their jobs to burn shit down, or is it a weekend warrior type of thing? Do they take their kids out of school, or just out of after-school activities?

Did any of you read Far From the Tree? There was a chapter about parents of kids with Pervasive Developmental Disorders, ie the parents who are losing their minds the most because of the lack of structural, day-to-day help with extremely high amounts of work associated to the medical needs of their kids. One mother went on a rant, which I recall as more or less thus: "People say to me, 'I don't know how you do it! You're amazing!' and I want to tell them 'Fuck you, I didn't have a choice. What do you expect me to do?' Each day shows up and you're stuck in it, and you'd do the same if this was your kid."

I'm definitely paraphrasing, but the business of "Each day shows up and you're stuck in it" is something I think about often. You don't walk away from your kid. So I'm not sure what you do differently that's not business-as-usual, when you decide to burn shit down, and so I see an article like this and think, "Is that what burning shit down means? Fucking with Tucker Carlson?" What happens the next day?

I'm just saying I understand why the frog stays in the boiling water.

I don't know if I should delete all this - I'm still feeling more-buoyant-than-not from Tuesday, so this doesn't really reflect my current mood - but I also have a rule-of-thumb that it's better to post impulsively than to overthink it, so.


 

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Guest Post - Intimacy Coordinator Hooray!

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.08.18

Nick S. writes: I just saw a story (link goes to summary which links to a Rolling Stone article with more details) that HBO will begin having an "Intimacy Coordinator" on set when filming sex scenes.

In practical terms, Rodis is a mediator among actors, directors, producers and crew. She reviews scripts, facilitates group discussions about the sex scenes they're going to film and meets with actors individually. When new or tweaked sex scenes are added to a day's shoot, she is often the one to break the news to an actor, checking in to clarify what their personal boundaries are -- to make sure, as she puts it, "consent is informed and certain before we move forward." Then she advocates for the actors in discussions with the production team.

"It's not the things [she does] that are so radical," Meade says. "It's just having someone other than yourself to think about it. It shouldn't be a radical concept to give someone something to cover their private parts. But to have someone do it at all -- the gesture of it -- it helps."

This sounds like (a) an obviously good idea, (b) something which might not have happened without the #MeToo discussions around consent and communication, and (c) an interesting example of recognizing the value of "soft skills" -- of taking something which had been handled by people informally negotiating among themselves and defining it as a clear job responsibility and hiring somebody who is skilled in it. This makes everybody's life easier:

Rodis' presence on The Deuce set was so welcome that Simon says he'll never work without an intimacy coordinator again, and Rodis is already overseeing the sets of HBO's Crashing, Watchmen, and the Deadwood movie. She's additionally training new coordinators to be on hand during other productions as this welcome new industry gets off the ground.

It makes me think of Yonatan Zunger's essay about soft skills in the tech industry (emphasis mine).

A good first step is to make sure we have, and share, a language for it. It's very hard to value something you can't name. Some common tasks which we often ignore are "make it possible for everyone to see what's going on in the project at once," "create a shared language for the core technical ideas so that everyone can explain the same thing," "make sure that everyone's voice is heard, and that important warnings don't get lost because someone didn't feel safe saying so," and "make sure all the stakeholders feel a sense of personal ownership in the project and that their success is tied to its success." (There are many more) Some common measures which we often ignore are "how often will a user/customer experience frustration or negative emotions while using this product, and how does that affect their long-term usage?," or "when someone has a negative experience using the product, what is the following experience on each time scale from 10ms to one week, and how does that affect their experience of the product?"

None of the things in that previous paragraph are new: in fact, they're all tied to professional specialities, from project management to user experience research. But if a team as a whole treats these as side things rather than as core to their success or failure, they can easily end up in the middle of a disaster: milestones missed, different groups building subtly different systems which only clash during final integration, a critical problem being ignored until it's too late, a project being subtly sabotaged because one team actually didn't want it to succeed, users hitting one "small" bug and revolting in horror (leading to anything from mass exodus to legal and regulatory action), slow erosion of user trust. I've seen projects fail for every one of these reasons -- even projects where the purely "technical" aspects of the engineering were beyond reproach.

Nice to see that, in this story, HBO has done that, and that initial responses are positive.

Heebie's take: I love this kind of thing, when people start being frank and concrete about mushy topics.


 

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Aftermath

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.07.18

I've felt strangely emotional all day, even though the election results are mixed.

Here's one thing that's arguable, but I now believe in my heart and soul: the path to the south is through outspoken progressive, lefty candidates coupled with an insane fight for voting rights. Fuck the strategy of finding centrist candidates who can peel off Republicans-lite.

(Maybe the centrist Republican-lite candidates are a good fit for the suburbs of major cities, all over. Could be. I don't think we need to be one-size fits all.)


 

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Guest Post - Making the World Safe for Autocracy

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.07.18

Mossy Character writes: This is just to remind you, before the next bout of midterm navel-gazing, that Republicans are only the beginnings of our problems.

This year, Beijing took steps to propagate its model abroad by conducting large-scale trainings [sic] of foreign officials, providing technology to authoritarian governments, and demanding that international companies abide by its content regulations even when operating outside of China. These trends present an existential threat to the future of the open internet and prospects for greater democracy around the globe.
[...]
Xi Jinping publicly outlined his plan to transform China into a "cyber superpower." He offered up the country's model of governance -- including its management of the internet -- as "a new option for other countries and nations that want to speed up their development while preserving their independence."
[...]
US companies like Delta, United, and American Airlines acceded to Chinese demands to list Taiwan as a part of China on their websites.
[...]
Chinese officials have held trainings [sic] and seminars on new media or information management with representatives from 36 out of the 65 countries covered in this survey.
[...]
While it is not always clear what transpires during such seminars, a training [sic] for Vietnamese officials in April 2017 was followed in 2018 by the introduction of a cybersecurity law that closely mimics China's own law. Increased activity by Chinese companies and officials in Africa similarly preceded the passage of restrictive cybercrime and media laws in Uganda and Tanzania over the past year.

Heebie's take: Doom and gloom.


 

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Election Results Thread

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.06.18

There's still six hours to go.
There's still four hours to go. I suppose I'm counting down to 7 pm EST.
Two hours to go.
Soon, my pretties. Very soon.


 

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Guest Post - Careless Rape

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.06.18

Nworb writes: Dear mineshaft: a story I don't understand. A court in Stockholm has just sentenced a man to a year in jail for something that has only been a crime there since June: "careless" or "inattentive" rape. The translation of oaktsam in oaktsam våldtäkt is not obvious. The official translation is "negligent rape" but that makes me think of Britney Spears - "Ooops! I did it again!" which is not what the law intends. I suppose the best, if free translation, by analogy with a British driving offence, is "fucking without due care and attention".

But the story, lifted from a legal magazine, is fairly clear. A couple met on Tinder and returned to his apartment. They talked for an hour, at least, at which point he made a pass. He was keener on sex than she was, and interpreted her pushing his hands away as a kind of foreplay. She didn't think it was a game at all. The court held that he was sincere in his belief that she had consented and was playing a role and that she never said "no" while they were wrestling [her experience] or fooling around[his understanding]. It also accepted her testimony that she was frightened, alone with a man twice her size in an apartment in a strange city and feared for her life.

By her own testimony, she took off her top, held his body tightly when he carried her to the bed, said they should use a condom, and said 'no' at a very late stage. They were having [what sounds to me] very rough sex and at one point he grabbed her by the throat. She was terrified by this and stopped resisting - at which point he stopped fucking her. I think this is proof that he really, sincerely, had supposed her resistance was a game and not a kind of borderline rape.

The court held that "in the light of this background, and of their Tinder messages after the event, ... it is not proven that at the time of the event X understood that there was a high risk that [she] didn't consent, nor that he was indifferent to the question of whether she consented."

So he had no intention of raping her, and did not believe that was what he was doing. He sincerely believed she was consenting, and when he realised this might not be the case, he stopped. None the less, the court found him guilty of this new offence of "negligent" rape. "The court finds that because he recognised the risk that she might not consent [my italics] to intercourse and the other sexual activities ... he was seriously inattentive to the possibility that she was not consenting."

In other words, he has been jailed for what the court decided was a good faith misreading of ambiguous signals. He had cared whether she consented. He just hadn't cared enough.

Several questions arise, apart from the really obvious point that this really does stretch the Anglo-Saxon definition of rape.

1) Should the good faith misreading of "ambivalent signals" be a crime at all?

2) If it is a crime, is a year in jail a reasonable punishment?

The lawyer representing the victim in this case is the same woman who produced when the law changed this summer, a smartphone app to let people digitally sign their consent to whatever they were about to do.

FWIW, I think the answer to the last question is clearly "no". Some jail time if that's what the law says, but it can't seriously be argued that a year is going to teach him more of a lesson than six months would, or even six weeks coupled with a conviction for rape.

As for the first question, it seems that what the new law has done is to make enthusiastic consent mandatory. Although this is an excellent moral principle, I don't know how realistic it is as a legal standard. In this instance, if he was telling the truth about believing this was a game they were playing, her resistance itself would have seemed to him evidence that she was enthusiastically joining in. He told the cops they had had a "passionate" fuck.

In any case, I'm sure that an audience of lawyers and feminists will have views.

Heebie's take: This seems like a legit boundary case. The problem is that she doesn't know if she's dealing with a rapist or a reasonable guy.

My first guess is that he sort of took advantage of the gray area - he's going to push his luck until he sees that she believes him to be an outright rapist, and then he's going to back down and say "whoa, whoa, would a rapist back down? Of course not. So my nose is clean."

The thing that instills the fear in her is him blowing past community norms. So there's no good way to solve this, because there's always a community norm, and so there's always a way for someone to dance on the boundary and maintain plausible deniability.

But maybe I've got it wrong, and he was just committed to the belief that she was giving consent until it dawned on him that she wasn't.

Either way I don't have an answer.


 

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Perspective

Posted by Heebie-Geebie
on 11.04.18

Let's hedge some bets. Tell me some good things that will still be true if things go badly on Tuesday. Separately, tell me some bad things that will still be true if things go well.

If things go poorly, I can still say that early voting in our county exceed 2016 early voting. That's pretty amazing.

If things go well, we're merely throwing some sand in all the horrible gears that are grinding. We still have this fuckhead as the president and we are still the kind of country who elected him two years ago, and we are still doomed.


 

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