Moved.

Jan. 1st, 2019 11:07 am
askalis: Alis by Alis. (Default)
To [personal profile] alisx, because... seed account. Go figure.
askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

ouch.

Mirrored from alis.me.

askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

White men are a minority demographic, yet hold a majority of power. And boy oh boy do they not like people realising that…

Mirrored from alis.me.

askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

This is the cardinal sin of the debate mentality, that you reduce the problems of the world to two sides, and you settle the issue with rhetoric and a popularity contest. That’s not how anything works. It’s a garbage strategy for simultaneously avoiding dealing with the real issues, elevating the two artificially simplified positions to an equal standing, and allowing the most golden-tongued babbler to come away with a sense of accomplishment.

PZ Myers on debate mentality.

Shockingly, it turns out the rhetorical form of your high school debate classes really isn’t in any way helpful for the investigation and resolution of Really Real World issues.

Mirrored from alis.me.

askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

One way in which people have felt [the ideological changes brought about by the end of the Cold War] is as a crisis of political representation, as a growing sense of being denied a voice, and of political institutions as being remote and corrupt, as the creation of a democratic deficit. The sense of being politically abandoned has been most acute within sections of the traditional working class, whose feelings of isolation have increased as social democratic parties have cut their links with their old constituencies. As mainstream parties have discarded both their ideological attachments and their long-established constituencies, so the public has become increasingly disengaged from the political process. The gap between voters and the elite has widened, fostering disenchantment with the very idea of politics.

The new political faultline in Europe is not between left and right, between social democracy and conservatism, but between those who feel at home in – or at least are willing to accommodate themselves to – the more technocratic, post-ideological world, and those who feel left out, dispossessed and voiceless.

Kenan Malik asks what happens after liberal democratic capitalism wins?

This is Malik talking about Francis Fukuyama’s End of History, which some of you may recall was my own Baby’s First Political Theory, and thus something I’ll always have nostalgia for, even if (like everyone else, up to and including Fukuyama himself) I no longer think much of the theory itself. Malik’s take here is that Fukuyama was right in the sense that the end of the Cold War marked the end of the main ideological battle of the bands of the 20th century, i.e. the knock-out fight between capitalism (primarily in its “liberal democratic” flavor)1 and Marxism (primarily in its “autocratic communism” flavor).2 Because capitalism “won” that fight, it’s held total sway over politics for the last few decades, and reduced all political debate in Western countries to, in effect, choosing what flavor of more capitalism they’d like to implement, rather than whether they’d like any capitalism at all.

What Malik is arguing is that this endless nitpicking has left huge swathes of the electorate behind and, specifically, those huge swathes that in previous decades would’ve rallied behind various flavors of socialism. This in turn has resulted in a growing “both sides suck the same”/”a pox on both your houses” kind of polity, on both the left and the right, with a political class that more interested in twiddling the knobs and dials of the existing order3 than it is in selling any kind of high-level vision of what society could be.

It’s also meant that both the left and right of politics (again, in the West) have had to remake themselves in capitalism’s image. For the left, Malik argues it’s been the move away from the Marxist class-based politics and into a kind of market-segmented “identity politics”, where one can “shop” for one’s preferred brand of social justice, be it anti-racism, feminism, LGBTQIA+ issues, or whatever. The right, meanwhile, has rediscovered capitalism’s autocratic arm, i.e. ultra-right nationalist fascism.

It’s worth noting at this point that I don’t… love the way Malik describes modern leftist/progressive politics, though I do think his argument is at least worth thinking about, if not uncritically accepting. I also tend to side-eye anyone who plays the “class-based politics is Real Politics™, identity politics is nonsense” card, since they all tend to be, a) men, who b) conveniently forget that a lot of traditional leftist/Marxist political movements are just as alienating to marginalised communities as their equivalents on the conservative right.4

Either way, I’m only giving a very bare-bones summary of a fraction of Malik’s whole argument, which is an interesting and thoughtful read, so… go check it out.

  1. Also, the fact that “liberal democracy” is commonly used as a synecdoche for “capitalism” is, let’s face it, telling in-and-of itself… ^
  2. Ditto. ^
  3. You may hear this expressed as, “It’s the economy, stupid.” ^
  4. Or, arguably, moreso, given people generally expect the the right/conservatives to be bigots, while the eternal conflation of “the left” with “progressives” can mean that running into an actual non-progressive leftist can feel like a deeply personal betrayal. ^

Mirrored from alis.me.

askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Part of making [Google Duplex] sound natural enough to not trigger an aural sense of the uncanny valley was adding those ums and ahs, which Huffman identified as “speech disfluencies.” He emphasized that they weren’t there to trick anybody, but because those vocal tics “play a key part in progressing a conversation between humans.” He says it came from a well-known branch of linguistics called “pragmatics,” which encompasses all the non-word communications that happen in human speech: the ums, the ahs, the hand gestures, etc.

On giving AIs a voice.

I want y’all to think about this next time you hear someone lecture (usually) women to stop “uming and ahing” so much when they speak…

Mirrored from alis.me.

Failcon.

Dec. 28th, 2018 03:16 am
askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

I mean I think the main take-home I’ve got from this whole thing is that teen girls SHOW THE FUCK UP. Like, holy shit if teen girls are into something, they’re into it.

Mirrored from alis.me.

askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

All my “friends” are cancelled.

Mirrored from alis.me.

askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

So I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m not… always enthusiastic about the trend in indie tabletop RPGs towards making deeply intimate games that focus on psychological trauma and interpersonal drama (see MonsterheartsBluebeard’s Bride, and Ten Candles, for example). Not to deny that these games can be fun, but they’re also sort of the TTRPG equivalent of Oscar bait; focusing on the cheap evocation of emotion rather than anything necessarily substantial.

Oh, and also? They’re an absolute nightmare when it comes to people using them as an inappropriate form of therapy. So, yanno. There’s that.

Mirrored from alis.me.

Victordog.

Dec. 26th, 2018 11:00 am
askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

The idea that “liberal elites” – a term used scornfully by millionaire politicians – run the world in conjunction with oppressed minorities is manifestly untrue. You can tell by how little anything has changed, by how many Indigenous people are still dying in custody, by how many women are still being killed by men, by the children and innocent people we still have in detention, by the way minorities are represented, by the lack of resources and care made available to disabled people. On and on, everyday cruelties abound. Somehow, conservatives get away with running things exactly how they want, while complaining loudly that they’re unable to because of censorship. They are both underdog and victor, gagged yet constantly heard.

Omar J. Sakr on white lies.

Mirrored from alis.me.

askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

On the economic impacts of dragon gold-hoarding.

Mirrored from alis.me.

askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Tl;dr, the Standford Prison Experiment was, basically, a hoax. Or, at least, it didn’t show anything close to what it’s purported to show in the popular media. The short version: “guards” did not become spontaneously abusive, and “prisoners” did not break down. But they did act like they had, basically because they’d been primed by sloppy methodology to know what behaviours were “expected” of them. So it’s not that the original study shows nothing, and more that it’s in-line with things like the Milgram experiment and The Wave in that it shows people will play along with a scenario (up to a point) under the assumption that it’s a kind of game.

My favourite SPE story, though, is of the re-creation attempt that tried to keep things as in-line with how the original experiment was portrayed… and ended up with the “prisoners” banding together to extract more lenient for themselves conditions from the “guards”.

On the less amusing side, it’s worth pointing out that the SPE has implications for prison reform. That is to say, the original SPE was specifically engineered to try and prove that prisons are, in and of themselves, abusive environments. Sounds like a nice, fair, liberal position… right? I mean, we all hate the prison industrial complex, school-to-prison pipeline, over-incarceration of minority groups, and so on. So… what’s the problem?

Well. The problem is that holding a base assumption that “prisons = abusive, always” serves to both curb any attempt at reform (how can you reform an institution that’s inherently unsalvageable?) and excuse any abuses that do occur within existing systems (“it’s prison, what do you expect?”). And it still leaves you with the problem of what to do with people who, for whatever reason, need to be removed from the general population, either temporarily or permanently. This is a problem humanity has been working with for a good hundred thousand years now—really ramping up in the last ten thousand or so, since cities and states came into fashion—and, like it or not, “prison” is still the most humane option we’ve come up with.

So. If you have to have a prison, are there options to implement them in ways that aren’t abusive, dehumanising, and punitive? Well… turns out yeah (keep in mind, as you’re watching that video, that it’s showing a maximum security facility). And it will probably surprise no-one to learn that, a) the Norwegians are the pioneers of humane incarceration, and b) they have some of the lowest recidivism rates in the world.

But, yanno. It’s expensive, I guess, to run a “humane” prison. And why would the private prison industry want to cut into its profits when it can just convince the majority non-incarcerated population that prisoners “deserve” their (highly lucrative) mistreatment and, even if they don’t, whaddareya gonna do, because prisons are inherently abusive, right? The Stanford Prison Experiment says so!

Mirrored from alis.me.

Halfway.

Dec. 23rd, 2018 06:24 pm
askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

There are many people who will tell you not to become an angry, militant advocate for anything. They will urge you to try to find middle ground, to compromise, to make peace with those you disagree with you. The problem is that there isn’t an acceptable middle ground between the propositions: “I want to live” and “you deserve death.” And the people who thank god for AIDS, who tell parents to kick their queer children out on the street, who argue that transitioning treatments are not medically necessary, and who argue we shouldn’t have marriage rights (which legally include the right to make medical decisions for one another and so forth)—they are all implying, if not outright saying, that queers deserve death.

Seriously, the only middle ground is that some queers deserve death. How is that a morally acceptable position for anyone?

fontfolly on compromises.

See also: why I will not hang out with my husband’s smattering of religious far-right friends. “But he’s a nice guy!” Yeah, maybe. To you. To me, he’ll smile and makes jokes in my presence and then happily go home and fund organisations and vote for politicians that advocate for my death, nonetheless convinced he’s a Good Person™ because he was Civil™.

The powerful can always afford to be “nice guys”, as it turns out.

Mirrored from alis.me.

askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Wait. Neopets was run by who what now?

Mirrored from alis.me.

Osmosis.

Dec. 22nd, 2018 02:44 am
askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

A list of authors you don’t have to read if you’ve ever dated men.

I will confess this list made me look up David Foster Wallace’s “Big Red Son” essay-cum-gonzo-diary-entry and, yeah. It is a pretty good read.

Mirrored from alis.me.

askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

This number is probably the truest measure of a person’s real wealth: What is the largest unexpected financial shock you could sustain without the cost of that to you suddenly becoming ten times the original cost or more? That number isn’t something easy to calculate; it depends on whether you have a family that can help you out, on your income, on whether that shock involves losing your job (and thus your health insurance, if you live in the US), on whether you have access to any other sources of security (including public assistance).

But it tells you a lot more about someone’s wealth than the total amount they have in the bank. […] If you want to understand economic class in the Western World today, here’s a simple rule of thumb: There are people for whom a shock that’s reasonably likely to happen within a year — a car breakdown, a lost job, and so on — would be catastrophic, and there are people for whom catastrophic events happen much more rarely. Those are your two social classes. All of the economic changes of the past few decades can be summarized as a lot of people who were previously in the second group (first factory workers, then a lot more “middle-class” jobs) suddenly found themselves in the first group (thanks to everything from the mortgage crisis to job automation).

Yonatan Zunger on true wealth.

Zunger goes on to posit that repeated shocks—particularly intentionally engineered shocks—are one of the easiest ways of redistributing wealth upwards.

Mirrored from alis.me.

askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Pillowfort… wut u doin’, man?

(With original credit here.)

Edited to add: From reports by other users, it seems Pillowfort isn’t doing any robust sanitization on usernames at all, allowing things like slashes and period and spaces that break their own UI. This is… not good. Weren’t they supposed to’ve done a “security audit” after their hack a few weeks back?

Mirrored from alis.me.

askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

I want a model of discourse in which we all behave like adults: mostly calm, as rational as possible, and informed but not controlled by our emotions. I would like a model of discourse in which stereotypically female emotions are less stigmatized, and stereotypically male emotions — especially destructive ones — are not given a free pass. I’d like us to acknowledge that we’re all emotional beings, and if Karl Rove and Rush Limbaugh get national airtime to completely give in to those emotions, there’s no argument to be made anymore that women “too emotional” for anything. I’d like us to acknowledge that uncontrolled emotions are the cause of most crime, and most crime is committed by men.

I can tell you, the truth is infuriating to irrationally angry men who try to bully you and shut you down. You want to see how much such men cannot handle the truth that they are slaves to their own emotions? Tell a shouting, angry man — “All you whores voted for Obama because you want handouts from the government!” — tell that man, “Stop it, you’re getting emotional. I can’t talk to you when you’re so emotional.”

On male emotions.

Mirrored from alis.me.

askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

This seems… not particularly great. Even by Facebook standards.

Ironically, I finally deleted both Facebook and Messenger off my phone last night (I never use them, but still had the apps) and ahahaha I do not regret my life choices!

Mirrored from alis.me.

askalis: Lain by neogeen. (lain.navy)

Former president Bill Clinton has contributed to a cyberthriller The President is Missing, the plot of which is that the president stops a cybervirus from destroying the country. This is scary, because people in Washington D.C. are going to read this book, believe the hacking portrayed has some basis in reality, and base policy on it.

Robert Graham on bad policy.

A good chunk of my day job is trying to communicate to non-INFOSEC people how various different INFOSEC threats, a) actually operate, and b) what actually works against them. It is, I would have to say, not an easy job. And it’s a not-easy job made all the more not-easy by the fact that pop culture depictions of hacking, viruses, and so on are all just so bad

(Also: Bill Clinton co-wrote a Jame Patterson-branded extruded fiction product. What a world we live in.)

Mirrored from alis.me.