I didn't love this; I'm not sure how much it's a weaker member of the series and how much it's me. It is book 10 in a set of 19, of which the last five are still to be written. I may have left it too long since I read the previous volumes, or maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it. I decided I couldn't be bothered following all the complex allusions to the meta-structure of the whole series, and as a single novel it's never more than just ok. I didn't find Vlad's voice or Loiosh's asides witty, and the pacing dragged, and I didn't care about the mystery. Because I hadn't been following the chronology properly, the twist at the end wasn't a delightful surprise, it just unsatisfyingly didn't make sense.
When I was reading 50 books a year, I intended to read the whole series, because both the individual novels and the way they fit together into a complex whole appeal to me. Now that I read more like 15 or 20, I'm thinking I may drop this. Not sure; one weaker book doesn't mean the whole series isn't worth bothering with.
Anyway, this is a really amazing fantasy romance story. It's beautifully written, great characters, twisty, thought-provoking plot. The worldbuilding is really deep; looking it up it turns out this is a companion novella in the setting of a novel, which I'm now definitely going to seek out. I had dismissed Wilson's Sorcerer of the Wildeeps mainly because the name is so clunky; I assumed it was parodic or just really generic swords and sorcery.
It's hard to describe exactly what's so great about AToH without spoilers, but it's a really moving romance, and has a lot to say about choices and sacrifices made for love. jack thought it maybe needed some content warnings; some of the content is about homophobia and abusive parenting. To me it didn't feel like misery porn, it felt as if it centred its variously Queer characters and described some of the bad things in their life as well as the good. But I can imagine some readers finding it hard going.
Up next: The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin. I'd been meaning to read this, though I'm a little scared of what I've heard about it, and I've now bumped it up my list since the sequel won a second Hugo.
Far too much crap this week.
And oh, my left leg's going numb so I have to see an ortho next week. It's excruciatingly painful when I get up in the morning, and now I'm getting a big ol' numb area.
The cause is most likely the bulging disc I've had for a while. Which I couldn't get physio for because I couldn't get to a fucking physio. Now there's nerve involvement. On the plus side, numb is better than painful, although I don't think the medical profession see it that way.
The usual admonition to go to hospital if it gets worse.
Lol. No fucking way. Hospitals are for people who don't have ME/CFS.
I start Metformin tomorrow for prediabetes.
I am about to go and attend to my fish. Weekend carer who helps with this couldn't make it, friend who was coming by today to help (and say hi) also had to cancel. Then Eldest Brother, who was coming by to continue some work here, also had to cancel so I couldn't ask him.
I am taking this as a sign that I need to do it myself. It's okay, I'll do it in half buckets.
But I really do feel I could do with some better luck.
Which broadcast version of the Doctor Who theme do you prefer?
A specialty variant which I will mention below
A song that has many meanings for you. I think this has to be Some kind of stranger by Sisters of Mercy. Partly because it's lyrically complex; I have never been sure if it's about a positive relationship or a breakup, a long-term connection or a casual affair, and it may well not be about romantic love at all.
This is another song that doseybat introduced me to when we were teenagers. So it's tied up with discovering alternative music and the goth scene, and forming my own tastes in music as well as more broadly. A period of my life when I think I did the most growing up.
In some ways it's a song about keeping faith in spite of everything that might push you towards despair. And that's why I keep coming back to it, whether it's faith in a person or just more broadly:
And I know the world is cold
But if we hold on tight to what we find
We might not mind so much
That even this must pass away
Then it's the soundtrack of my PhD. The bit where my brother had a bad accident and I was in an emotional mess, but the science was still inspiring and still needed doing. The bit where it wasn't inspiring any more, it was a slog, and I had to keep going. One more step, one more flask of cells, one more measurement. The long repetitive bit at the end
Come here I think you're beautifulover and over again, when I was sitting in the cell culture room with my headphones a portable tape player, and just keeping my cells alive and nourished before I could actually do any experiments took about three hours three times a week. You can't miss a sesssion or the cells die or mutate and you lose months of work. You have to concentrate enough not to get anything contaminated, but it's not exactly intellectually stimulating. In fact, a lot of the point of my PhD was providing justification for replacing me with a robot, but grad students are cheaper than robots, and I was just sitting there screening through hundreds of potential new drugs.
It's also a song about making friends with rysmiel, towards the end of that PhD and the years just afterwards. rysmiel is also a Sisters fan and gave me a recording of one of their concerts, since it's nearly impossible to buy studio versions of most of their music since the 80s. The ambiguous words might be about a sudden, intense yet enduring friendship, maybe. Some kind of stranger / some kind of angel.
And even though it's a pretty downbeat song, it's a very happy song for me now. It promised me that I could endure, and I have. My brother is fine now. I still love most of the people who sustained me in my late teens and early 20s. I've succeeded at some things that were hard and failed at others, but I have people who love me for myself, not my achievements. And nothing is permanent, but as long as I'm here and get to experience things and love people, I can cope with that.
( video embed, audio only )
As I mentioned initially, Lundy Bancroft lists a number of tactics abusive men use in conversations. In Why Does He Do That?, he notes that when one of the abusers he works with attempts to use one of these tactics on him or another group participant, and Bancroft calmly names which tactic it is instead of reacting, the abuser usually gets even angrier. So in that spirit, I thought I would compile a list of responses to my article and classify them according to the abuse tactics they use.
Here is a subset of Bancroft's list of conversational abuse tactics in p. 145-146 (n.b. all page-number references are to Why Does He Do That?)
- Distorting what you say (this was one of the most common responses I saw, in which the interlocutor would make up a caricature of what I wrote and then attack that, instead of engaging with the actual ideas).
- Accusing you of doing what he does, or thinking the way he thinks (AKA projection, as discussed on p. 142)
- Using a tone of absolute certainty and final authority -- "defining reality":
When Mr. Right decides to take control of a conversation, he switches into his Voice of Truth, giving the definitive pronouncement on what is the correct answer or the proper outlook. Abuse counselors call this tactic defining reality. Over time, his tone of authority can cause his partner to doubt her own judgment and come to see herself as not very bright. (p. 82)
- Not listening, refusing to respond -- I've rephrased this as "dismissal", since the original list was concerned with in-person conversations where one person can literally ignore the other. Online, the equivalent of this is not ignoring, but replying in a way that doesn't at all engage with the content, rather labeling it in ways that create negative sentiment without actually trying to refute ideas. Dismissal is not ignoring (it's great when people ignore things they don't like or don't care about!) -- the effort that the abuser puts in to communicate "I didn't read this, I didn't think it was worth reading, but I'm still going to attack it" shows that it is important to them that the person being abused not be heard. (Compare Kathy Sierra's "Trouble at the Kool-Aid Point" and my own previous discussion of false dismissal.)
- Changing the subject to his grievances
- Provoking guilt
- Playing the victim
- Name-calling, insults, put-downs. I'm calling out "insulting intelligence" as its own subcategory:
The abuser tends to see his partner as less intelligent, less competent, less logical, and even less sensitive than he is.... He often has difficulty conceiving of her as a human being. (p. 63)One of the primary rhetorical weapons used against underrepresented people in tech is that we're not intelligent, and indeed, that was a large part of what made the original manifesto abusive.
- Threatening to harm you
- Demanding explanation, where the interlocutor asks for more justification either in ways that make it clear they didn't read the entire piece, or didn't read it carefully, or don't actually want to debate and are just asking in order to steal attention. Sort of like a human denial-of-service attack. The person demanding explanation is like the type of abuser Bancroft describes as "Mr. Right":
"Mr. Right tries to sanitize his bullying by telling me, 'I have strong opinions' or 'I like debating ideas.' This is like a bank robber saying, 'I'm interested in financial issues.' Mr. Right isn't interested in debating ideas; he wants to impose his own." (p. 83)
"It is frustrating, and ultimately pointless, to argue with someone who is certain beyond the shadow of a doubt that his perspective is accurate and complete and that yours is wrong and stupid. Where can the conversation possibly go?" (p. 144)Demanding explanation is abusive because it's deceptive: the abuser who demands an explanation holds out the promise that he is reasonable, he can be persuaded, and the conversation can go somewhere positive if you just explain more. In reality, he is not open to being changed by what he hears, and is just trying to waste your time and/or entrap you for more abuse. Demanding a 1-on-1 conversation also reflects entitlement to the time and attention of the writer, who has already provided plenty of explanation. It is pretty obvious to me when someone is asking questions out of genuine openness to change, and when they're doing it in a rude and entitled way.
- Gaslighting; Bancroft discusses discrediting extensively (p. 125, p. 146) but doesn't call it out in the above list. "You're too sensitive", "You're overreacting", and -- when not justified, other than by the purported oversensitivity of the writer -- "You can't make that comparison, it's ridiculous" are all forms of gaslighting. They attempt to make the listener doubt their own perceptions and judgment. I included gaslighting comments under "ridicule", but it's worth pointing out that this is a common and insidious form of ridicule, since it seems superficially reasonable (of course we all think that nobody should be too sensitive, or react too much, though the boundary for how sensitive it's acceptable to be is rarely discussed).
The analysisI read:
- All of my mentions that were replies to tweets (from me or other people) linking to "Refusing to Empathize with Elliot Rodger, or that linked to the essay without replying to me.
- Two comments on my Dreamwidth post that were screened and that I deleted.
The following table lists all but one of the responses, along with the abusive tactics each one employs.
There was one response that didn't use any of the abusive tactics above. It was illogical (blaming Marc Lépine's actions on Islam because Lépine's father was Algerian), but may have been written in good faith, even if it was ignorant.
So in short:
- 27 critical/negative replies
- 26 out of 27 use at least one abuse tactic identified by Bancroft; most several
- The remaining one is illogical / primarily based on religious stereotyping.
- No substantive criticisms. At all.
ConclusionThe dominance of abuse in the negative responses to my piece doesn't prove I'm right, of course. It doesn't prove there's no good argument against my core theses, and it doesn't prove I didn't make any mistakes. But given that a lot of people were so eager to debunk my article, if there was a good argument, don't you think one of them might have found one?
I think giving names to abusive conversational patterns is extremely powerful and I think it's important to distinguish between criticism and abuse, and notice when the only thing people can seem to muster up in response to anti-abuse discourse is more abuse.
I know this makes me look bad, which is why I use a pseudonym.
I'm not really happy that she's sick, I am happy that she has cancelled all today's appointments including mine. I was due to see her this afternoon and I really don't fancy heading out in this weather.
Too windy. I get windbrain. Bugger that.
The village I am staying in is fine. It has one gym, which gets taken over by this team and that; very frequently I'm the person who takes it over for my team, but it changes hands every couple of days. (Alas, very often my pokemons return without bringing any poke coins with them. Funny how that glitch always works in Niantic's favour, isn't it?)
(There are other problems with this. There are not enough players to take down a 40.000 CP super-rare pokemon: usually, there's only me, and I can do 12.000-16.000 if I'm very, very lucky; 40.000 are impossible. I have no idea where the other players live; I've never seen one. Spontaneous crowd to take down a gym in a raid? In a village this small? Forget it.)
The next-nearest village, and the country town beyond, are firmly in the hands of one player. Now I've been out playing fairly seriously, once in a while, and I've never managed more than six or seven gyms at any one time, and then not for very long. This guy has a radius of at least six miles, ranging from next-village-over to country park-at-edge-of-town.
So far, so good. Maybe he's just REALLY determined, it's the summer holidays, and he has a motor.
( Too many coincidences )
Now, it is humanely possible that someone could have noticed their pokemon was knocked out the gym, drive up the lane about a mile out of town, parked their car or moped on the verge, climbed over the gate and hushed along the wall to hide in the brambles underneath the site in order to take down the gym while I was up at the site and walking down into the lane, but at THIS point, we're really talking a level of dedication that taking down a single gym in rural Wales does not merit. I do not believe that a second person would have joined them in that endeavour.
The more likely explanation is that someone is sitting at home, somewhere, *probably* in the area, because taking over a lot of gyms when you have no connection to them sounds even more boring.
I am - see second powerful pokemon appearing in gym #3 after I took it over the second time - certain this person has at least two accounts, one they seem to be using everywhere and one that's more bother to use, but I don't actually know how you would do this - someone feed your phone GPS recordings that correspond to gyms? Would you still have to do the battles yourself, or could you automate that as well? Maybe using assistive technology? I don't quite see how this could be done on iOS; would that sort of thing be easier or harder on Android?
And what, other than feeling immensely powerful because you've just ruined everybody's game from your computer desk, is the purpose of this? This is a level 35 trainer; and I'm level 30; I started late and am a regular, but somewhat indifferent player. OK, they probably have more than one high-level account, but still. What is the point?
Questions over questions.
I have reported this to Niantic, because it goes way beyond 'making it easier to play for someone who cannot walk as much as the game demands' - I've pretty much tested out how much pokemon a single dedicated player can play in a day (only I do this about once a month), and this person's hogging of gyms goes well beyond that. It also makes playing completely pointless: if you get kicked out of any local gym by a bot as soon as you're there, whatever the gym is, why bother?
In a world where someone is trying to kick non white-male googlers out of engineering, this is probably not the most pressing problem to solve, but this kind of game-wrecking pisses me off nonetheless. Someone is pissing in everybody's collective cornflakes, and probably feels very clever doing so.
Because I'm on a mission this may turn into a more formal research survey at some point, but in that case I'll pose the question in a formal context with ethics and everything. Right now I'm just trying to gather some opinions and not just rely on my own ideas. Plus I am eye-deep in paperwork and I could do with some distraction, so do rant away.
In 1989, Marc Lépine murdered fourteen women in Montreal for being women and being engineering students. He proceeded to kill himself, having written in his suicide note:
"Would you note that if I commit suicide today 89-12-06 it is not for economic reasons (for I have waited until I exhausted all my financial means, even refusing jobs) but for political reasons. Because I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their Maker.... Being rather backward-looking by nature (except for science), the feminists have always enraged me. They want to keep the advantages of women (e.g. cheaper insurance, extended maternity leave preceded by a preventative leave, etc.) while seizing for themselves those of men." (quoted by Wikipedia)
More recently, in 2014, Elliot Rodger murdered six people near the UC Santa Barbara campus. Rodger also killed himself, citing his feelings of social rejection by women as the reason for his crime:
"I'm 22 years old and I'm still a virgin. I've never even kissed a girl. I've been through college for two and a half years, more than that actually, and I'm still a virgin. It has been very torturous. College is the time when everyone experiences those things such as sex and fun and pleasure. Within those years, I've had to rot in loneliness. It's not fair. You girls have never been attracted to me. I don't know why you girls aren't attracted to me, but I will punish you all for it. It's an injustice, a crime.... I don't know what you don't see in me. I'm the perfect guy and yet you throw yourselves at these obnoxious men instead of me, the supreme gentleman.... How could an inferior, ugly black boy be able to get a white girl and not me?" -- (Rodger's manifesto, quoted by Wikipedia)
Did Lépine and Rodger have some good points? Did they have valid grievances regardless of the regrettable way in which they both chose to express those grievances (mass murder)? I hope you won't have to think too hard before saying "no". Neither Lépine's sense of entitlement to social privileges, nor Rodger's sense of entitlement to sex and racial status, are reasonable.
In Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Lundy Bancroft (a counselor who co-founded the first program for abusive men in the US and has worked with abusive men for many years) shows that domestic abusers don't abuse because of their feelings, because they're out-of-control or angry, or because they are mentally ill or influenced by substances. They abuse because of their thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes, which create a coherent justification for abuse -- largely through beliefs that they are entitled to something from a woman, and are morally justified in punishing her if she doesn't provide it.
"...an abuser's core problem is that he has a distorted sense of right and wrong." (Bancroft, p. 35)
Likewise, Lépine believed that he had a right to a job and that women were oppressing him by being better job candidates than him. Rodger believed that he had a right to sex and that women were oppressing him by not sleeping with him. By killing women, they hoped to send a message to all women that interfering with men's wishes was dangerous. They killed in cold blood, uninfluenced by mental illness or uncontrollable rage. Both crimes were premeditated; both killers had moral theories that justified their actions. We know about those moral theories because both men wrote about them. The positions that men have a right to jobs and women do not, and that men have a right to sex and women have a moral obligation to provide it to men who want it, are political opinions. I hope it's obvious to you that these political opinions are wrong.
Last week, a manifesto written by a Google engineer surfaced; the manifesto resembles those of Rodger's and Lépine's, and you can [CW: explicit sexism, racism, and various other *isms, as well as gaslighting and manipulation] read it for yourself. The manifesto tells a subset of people who work at Google, "Your presence here is illegitimate and you don't belong." I know that's the message because I'm one of those people: I'm a trans man and thus, according to the document, am biologically worse at engineering than cis men like its author (although it's not exactly clear whether the author thinks that cis women's uteruses make them worse at coding -- in which case my skills would come into question -- or whether their hormones do -- in which case I'd be in the clear, phew!)
The manifesto expresses thoughts, beliefs and attitudes that are common to its author, Lépine, Rodger, and the domestic abusers Bancroft describes. It is written from a place of entitlement: like Lépine and Rodger but unlike some of the domestic abusers, the entitlement is not to just one specific woman's attention and service, but rather, to special privileges as white men and to submission and deference from all women, and all people of color, and everybody else occupying a lower position in the social hierarchy. Like Lépine, he's concerned that they're taking our jobs.
In response, Google's VP of Diversity, Integrity, and Governance -- in an email to all Google employees with the subject line "Affirming our commitment to diversity and inclusion—and healthy debate" -- said, "Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions. But that discourse needs to work alongside the principles of equal employment found in our Code of Conduct, policies, and anti-discrimination laws." Other executives expressed disagreement with the message in the manifesto while agreeing that the author had a good point about the "psychologically unsafe environment" for people with political beliefs like his. Some managers reiterated that it was important to be able to share different points of view at Google. In other words: he was wrong to say these things, but you can't help but sympathize with the poor guy -- he felt persecuted for his political views.
When you say that the manifesto writer had a point, you are saying that Rodger and Lépine had a point.
"...the abuser's problem lies above all in his belief that controlling or abusing his female partner is justifiable." (Bancroft, p. 35)In the rest of this essay, I'm addressing you if you think the views in the manifesto are wrong but that the author has some valid points, or that the manifesto is a valuable contribution to healthy debate. I want to show you that these views need to be shut down, not debated with or sympathized with. I am not addressing people who substantially agree with the content of the manifesto. If that's you, then you might as well stop reading right here.
( Read more... )
a song that makes you think about life. I'm not quite sure what to do with this because in general I don't listen to music to inspire deep thoughts.
( digression on what music is for )
One song that often makes me stop and think is Song of choice. I heard it interpreted by Solas, a group with a Celtic-ish style that I find hard to classify, it doesn't seem to fit well into either trad or neo. I think this song isn't original to them; I know there's a Peggy Seeger version, but again, she often doesn't perform her own material. But anyway, I really like Karan Casey's voice, and the lyrics are all about taking decisive action before it's too late, a message that seems important to me:
In January you've still got the choiceBut I think my pick for this meme is going to be Farthest star by VNV Nation. I need to have some VNV in this meme, and they tend to have very thinky lyrics. So some of what I think about life is contained in:
You can cut the weeds before they start to bud
If you leave them to grow higher, they'll silence your voice
And in December you may pay with your blood
We possess the powerIt's a call to action, but a more optimistic one than the Solas. ( video embed, audio only )
If this should start to fall apart
to mend divides, to change the world
to reach the farthest star
If we should stay silent
if fear should win our hearts,
our light will have long diminished
before it reaches the farthest star
I'm still thinking about this, for all the right reasons.
He talks about towns and places not far to the north of me.
And the places he describes are so different now. Fenced off farmland and non-existent settlements. With a few national parks here and there. Kelly country is very tame.
The story describes a generational shift: Ned Kelly's father is transported for his role in an Irish rebellion. Once freed, he is silent about his past. But the poor Irish settlers of Victoria continue to experience colonial repression, and so the native sons both take on what remnants of the old world they can learn about, and Ned Kelly himself starts to spin this into an Australian political context.
Ned Kelly is a charismatic and smart boy, who lives the life available to him (petty crime, which leads up to outlawry and murder), but then starts to think in broader political terms.
In this, his fictional memoir, he talks of the support he has from the people he talks to, while the author, Peter Carey, lets us quietly contemplate the fact that these people are often his hostages.
Kelly Country was already empty of Aboriginal people: there are a few trackers with the troopers, but they don't rate a mention otherwise. Even when people go bush, when you'd surely expect interaction, there is none. And the bush is infested with blackberry and dandelion and dock. And to keep your selection (parcel of land) you have to clear trees, and turn the Australian landscape into something approaching the lands of Britain and Ireland.
I really hope I can pull myself together to come back and note some of the stuff about the meaning of cross-dressing. It's a part of the Kelly myth that appears to be glossed over and misinterpreted.