This is my first post since June 1st - and by that you can probably discern that I had a tough month. My mother has had two extended hospital stays, and my priority is always to be with my family and help however I can. As much as I'd like to remain calm and collected during these times, they're obviously stressful - so even when I had the time to read, I didn't have the mental energy or stillness of mind.
I did, however, manage to get to the end of one book:
Memes to Movements by An Xiao Mina. A thorough exploration of how memes shaped political movements and vice versa. Thought provoking and full of possibilities; I think, against all odds, this book made me excited about the internet again.
I'm heading into the hospital later this morning. I hope we all get to have more peace and health in July.
Death of the calorie. It turns out there are better ways to measure what we put into our bodies. And it's simply not true that all calories are equal.
The Catastrophist, or: On coming out as trans at 37. "What I believed for too long, and what you might believe too, is that your body is not a gift but an obligation. That it is not who you are but a series of tasks assigned to you by the accident of your birth. This is not true. The best obligations — the only real obligations — are chosen. Your life is your life. It is worth fighting for."
Let’s Hear It for the Average Child. "To the daydreamer and the window-gazer, to the one who startles when called on by the teacher or nudged by a classmate, whose report card invariably praises your good mind but laments your lack of focus: We are grateful for your brown study. Here’s to the wondering reveries of the dreamers and the dawdlers, for the real aha! moments in life are those that cannot be summoned by will." It's me!
What HBO’s “Chernobyl” Got Right, and What It Got Terribly Wrong. Chernobyl is amazing television, and you should see it. But it's like we're still afraid of the Soviet Union, and rather than represent it in a nuanced way, on television it's always a place where people are forced to do things by the barrel of a gun. It's as if our own capitalist society is the only one that people could possibly participate in willingly - which simply isn't true.
Uber’s Path of Destruction. Damning. I don't use Uber and I urge you not to, too.
The Roots of Big Tech Run Disturbingly Deep. I've become an enormous fan of Tim Wu through this year's reading project. In this opinion piece in the New York Times, he and Stuart A Thompson examine the acquisitions made by large tech companies, and ask why the government hasn't challenged a single one of them.
‘I Can No Longer Continue to Live Here’. The experience of Honduran women is an international tragedy. It's important to understand why they're coming to the US border. We should be giving them asylum. Instead, of course, we're putting them in concentration camps.
Dissent in Nazi Germany. We rarely hear about peaceful protests in Nazi Germany, but they existed. It's shocking to me how many people don't understand that Hitler came to power through a democratic process. It's vital to understand if we have any hope of understanding the present dark moment.
Farming while black. "The truth, however, makes no one happy: 1.) Conservatives refuse to acknowledge racism, 2.) Liberals refuse to confront racism unless it carries a flag, 3.) As a result, what success I’ve had in life is owed mostly to an ability to make White people very, very comfortable."
The I in We. WeWork - or rather, the We Company - is going to catastrophically implode. Here's why.
The World of Online Dating for Socialists. It's too easy to make a joke about praxis here. But I found this fascinating. "Red Yenta isn’t the first socialist dating site to crop up on ye olde internet (a similar platform called OkComrade had a glorious, but brief run in 2014 before becoming defunct), but it is, as far as I can tell, the only one whose interface doesn’t look like a Trojan virus-encrusted Geocities page."
The IMF Confirms That 'Trickle-Down' Economics Is, Indeed, a Joke. I didn't know that, like meritocracy, trickle-down economics was literally coined as a joke. That it doesn't work is obvious, but why do conservatives spin satire into reality so easily? Don't answer that.
Alphabet-Owned Jigsaw Bought a Russian Troll Campaign as an Experiment. I actually thought about doing the same. They're cheap as hell; we have to assume that just about everyone is doing it. (Not just the Russians, and not just using troll farms in Russia. Social media is fully gamed.)
Right-wing publications launder an anti-journalist smear campaign. Quillette, which itself launders hateful rhetoric and makes it look like reasonable discussion (albeit for people who aren't willing to engage in critical thought), published work by a right-wing troll that formed the basis of a kill list of left-wing journalists.
To protect and slur. "Inside hate groups on Facebook, police officers trade racist memes, conspiracy theories and Islamophobia." No surprise, but excellent work by Reveal.
The Time I Went On A Lesbian Cruise And It Blew Up My Entire Life. This is a controversial piece because of the transphobia present on the cruise, and to some extent the lack of criticism of it in the piece itself. So read it through that lens - but I found it a fascinating window into a world I'll never get to see.
The Best Way To Save People From Suicide. Bad headline. But I've known too many people who have died through suicide. I want to be able to better help.
Bodies in Seats. Important reading for anyone in the tech industry - and anyone who spends a lot of time using its products. This is a terrifying portrait of life in a Facebook moderation site. From what I know of other big sites, life isn't much better there, either. So I consider this to be a systemic problem. The tech industry is very good at creating a shiny face that makes us think everything works by magic. Typically, it works through low-paid workers in bad conditions - and a lot of them.
What It’s Actually Like to Be on House Hunters—Twice. My guilty pleasure is all fake. I mean, I kind of assumed.
What Really Happened to Malaysia’s Missing Airplane. Ultimately, a very sad, very human story.
‘Never again’ means nothing if Holocaust analogies are always off limits. How clearly can we say this? We have concentration camps at the southern border. And the analogies are strong. No, they're not death camps. But that doesn't mean we can't draw parallels.
Balancing the Ledger on Juneteenth. "In 2019, Juneteenth will be celebrated as emancipation was in the old days: with calls for reparations." As it should. I support reparations.
Why Should We Care About Faux Free-Speech Warriors? Because the Koch Brothers Are Paying Their Bills. Peterson, Shapiro, giant swathes of the Intellectual Dark Web? Koch funded, as it turns out. The idea is to counteract left-wing thought in universities - systematically, as a concerted effort.
Hideous Men. A remarkably written account, not just of an assault at the hands of Donald Trump, but of a series of abusers. Frightening, not just because of the brutality of these people, but because these people are everywhere, and it's impossible to draw a line. All of us men can do better - even if we think we don't participate, we need to do far better at calling it out and dismantling the systems that allow this to happen.
Hackers are stealing years of call records from hacked cell networks. "At least 10 cell networks have been hacked over the past seven years." And at the same time, the Trump administration is considering a ban on end-to-end encryption.