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periodic reminder

Jul. 30th, 2015 | 04:06 pm

Periodic reminder: the phrase "The Personal is Political" was not introduced into radical discourse as an affirmation that one's personal lifestyle choices have political effects (though they may well on some level, that's a matter of social norms).

The phrase may have mutated into that meaning over many years of use, but I suggest that meaning is strategically useful to establishment powers and harmful to people who repeat it to themselves.

The phrase originally denoted a very different meaning: the assertion that problems you've grown accustomed to as seeing as "personal", or that you're been told to think of as "personal", usually have a locus in policy. That is, in the very laws and institutions of normal ballot-box, public-office, power-and-influence politics.

In other words: when someone tells you that you've (say) been personally lazy at and that's why you are so often exhausted after work and housework, that you're personally bad at saving money and that's why you can't get loans, or that you're personally not strong enough or are a pushover and that's why that non-consensual things keep happening to you ... that these blame-assignments are themselves worth analyzing and rejecting. That what makes them possible is only a particular policy framework that treats some matters the concern of institutions, as "politics", and other matters "personal", ignorable, individual concerns. And that those frameworks can change.

To quote from a revised introduction to Carol Hanish's essay:

But they belittled us no end for trying to bring our so-called “personal problems” into the public arena—especially “all those body issues” like sex, appearance, and abortion. Our demands that men share the housework and childcare were likewise deemed a personal problem between a woman and her individual man. The opposition claimed if women would just “stand up for themselves” and take more responsibility for their own lives, they wouldn’t need to have an independent movement for women’s liberation. What personal initiative wouldn’t solve, they said, “the revolution” would take care of if we would just shut up and do our part. Heaven forbid that we should point out that men benefit from oppressing women.

Recognizing the need to fight male supremacy as a movement instead of blaming the individual woman for her oppression was where the Pro-Woman Line came in. It challenged the old anti-woman line that used spiritual, psychological, metaphysical, and pseudo-historical explanations for women’s oppression with a real, materialist analysis for why women do what we do. (By materialist, I mean in the Marxist materialist (based in reality) sense, not in the “desire for consumer goods” sense.) Taking the position that “women are messed over, not messed up” took the focus off individual struggle and put it on group or class struggle, exposing the necessity for an independent WLM to deal with male supremacy.

(emphasis mine)

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the web

Jul. 21st, 2015 | 10:31 am

So despite appearances, despite the feeling that things are accelerating and changing faster than ever, I want to make the shocking prediction that the Internet of 2060 is going to look recognizably the same as the Internet today.

Unless we screw it up.


This example illustrates the two things you need to know about exponential growth: it lets you get to large numbers very quickly. And it always runs into physical barriers.


This contempt for the past also ignores the reality of our industry, which is that we work almost exclusively with legacy technologies.


The web we have right now is beautiful. It shatters the tyranny of distance. It opens the libraries of the world to you. It gives you a way to bear witness to people half a world away, in your own words. It is full of cats. We built it by accident, yet already we're taking it for granted. We should fight to keep it!

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emotional labour

Jul. 20th, 2015 | 08:43 pm
mood: sadsad

Not everyone reads my lousy boring twitters so I'll repost here: the recent metafilter threads on emotional labour -- primary 700+ comment thread and followup 50+ comment ask -- should really be required reading for anyone trying to interpret modern western gender relations and the various domestic power and labour imbalances at play in many relationships.

They are not easy reads, and will probably make you uncomfortable if you're male or a slacker in domestic relationships or both. I have a lot of thoughts and feelings about these things but out of respect for the suffering on display I'm not going to respond in any way other than to encourage people to read and reflect.

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Jul. 20th, 2015 | 08:12 am
mood: awakeawake

Heaven sends us habit to take the place of happiness.

- Alexander Pushkin, Eugene Onegin

Yesterday I watched three movies in the "BBS Productions" œuvre at Cinémathèque: Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, and Drive, He Said. All 3 are set in 1969-1971 America, involve Jack Nicholson in some capacity, and present highly imperfect images of failing "rebellious" masculinity at the end of the 60s counterculture. They all make you feel bad, generally, to watch. They deal with sex, drugs, music, politics, paranoia, incompetence, futility, delusion, reactionary and traditional force in America, and defeat, withdrawal, retreat. They deal in interesting but incomplete ways with realignments afoot in gender relations in American society at the time. They are of a family, and benefit quite a lot from being watched as a group, despite the six hour slog, I'm glad Cinémathèque presented them together. I think they're a peculiar and very period-centric variant of superfluous man stories, as well as blunt and unflattering portraits of the American cultures -- bigotry, militarism and class hierarchy, in northern and southern flavours alike -- against-which many were rebelling in the 60s; one winds up simultaneously disappointed in the world, and disappointed in the obvious incapacity of the characters to change it by their inadequate lashing out. The characters all lose, very thoroughly. They are films about losing. I did not enjoy any of them.

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Jul. 13th, 2015 | 06:47 pm

I am male. I like reading books about gender, psychology, sociology, history, feminism, gender studies. I would like to read some more books about masculinity someday. Books that are not absolutely terrible and boring.

Here is a short list of topics that I'd like to receive no mention in such a book:
masculinityCollapse )

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the ak-47 of the sky

Jul. 4th, 2015 | 12:27 pm

... and yeah, it was true that you could buy nine—that’s nine—A-10s for the price of one F-117. But the F-117 was new and fast and “stealth” and all black like the Batmobile—every childish high-tech BS mess the USAF has always loved, whereas the A-10 was slow and ugly and—worst of all—cheap

-- War Nerd discusses my favourite airplane

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recent movies

Jul. 3rd, 2015 | 12:11 pm
mood: cheerfulcheerful

Yesterday I saw Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), a 5 hour long, 2-part intergenerational epic Indian gangster film that ought to rank near the top of any survey of the genre. It's quite an amazing piece of work, I'm still digesting it but I recommend anyone in Vancouver who likes cinema at all takes the time to see it. It's at Cinematheque only for the next few days: there was one show tonight, then one saturday and one sunday, then it's gone.

Other recent movies I've seen, beneath the cut...
reviews!Collapse )

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things rust shipped without

Jul. 3rd, 2015 | 08:26 am

Well-known things I'm very proud that rust shipped 1.0 without:

  • null pointers
  • array overruns
  • data races
  • wild pointers
  • uninitialized, yet addressable memory
  • unions that allow access to the wrong field

Less-well-known things I'm very proud that rust shipped 1.0 without:

  • a shared root namespace
  • variables with runtime "before main" static initialization (the .ctors section)
  • a compilation model that relies on textual inclusion (#include) or textual elision (</tt>#ifdef</tt>)
  • a compilation model that relies on the order of declarations (possible caveat: macros)
  • accidental identifier capture in macros
  • random-access strings
  • UTF-16 or UCS-2 support anywhere outside windows API compatibility routines
  • signed character types
  • (hah! vertical tab escapes (as recently discussed) along with the escapes for bell and form-feed)
  • "accidental octal" from leading zeroes
  • goto (not even as a reserved word)
  • dangling else (or misgrouped control structure bodies of any sort)
  • case fallthrough
  • a == operator you can easily typo as = and still compile
  • a === operator, or any set of easily-confused equality operators
  • silent coercions between boolean and anything else
  • silent coercions between enums and integers
  • silent arithmetic coercions, promotions
  • implementation-dependent sign for the result of % with negative dividend
  • bitwise operators with lower precedence than comparison operators
  • auto-increment operators
  • a poor-quality default hash function
  • pointer-heavy default containers

Next time you're in a conversation about language design and someone sighs, shakes their head and tells you that sad legacy design choices are just the burden of the past and we're helpless to avoid repeating them, try to remember that this is not so.

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(no subject)

Jun. 26th, 2015 | 12:44 pm

I went up to Whistler yesterday to see some Rust folks at a Mozilla meeting. It was nice to visit old friends and see how well the language and ecosystem have matured. I don't participate terribly actively in the community these days, but I do still have a lot of interest in its wellbeing.

I saw Carol Nichols doing a little unofficial community outreach by giving away an extra ticket to Rust Camp. While I'm not intending to go myself, I figured it might be helpful to do the same, and maybe encourage a few other folks who can afford to to follow suit. It sounds like Rust Camp is a bit minimal this year due to exhaustion from the 1.0 crunch and the community team still getting their bearings; hopefully future events will do some formal sponsorship or financial aid.

In the meantime I'm going to offer up 5 11 15 (see below) free tickets to Rust Camp, on a first-ask basis to anyone from an underrepresented group, be it a matter of gender, orientation, race, ethnicity, age, class, physical ability, or a minority status I've left off this list. If you're interested in Rust but are on the fence about the risk of unpleasant not-fitting-in feelings due to community demographics, I'd like to help lower the stakes for you by making it at least free to attend an event, join in for a bit and see whether it works for you.

[EDIT: 5 has become 11 due to generous help from Alex Newman]

[EDIT EDIT: 11 has become 15 due to generous help from another community member.]

Email me at graydon at pobox dot com if you're interested.

It's ok to be a bit vague about your specifics. It looks like Eventbrite will require a name and some contact details, though. See asterisked fields here:

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comfort food

Jun. 10th, 2015 | 10:27 am

Two things:

1. When I was in Japan, a few times I started to sort of have that panic-culture-shock reaction when transiting through particularly intense train interchanges; at these times I calmed myself down by listening to Dominik - Straight Outta Parkdale - Side A, a selection from the set of mid-90s terrible gabber and hardcore mixtapes that served as daily food and drink for teenage me, on my yellow sports walkman. Yesss.

2. On the way to work today, I walked past a store selling the following track, on LP. It is plainly the most 1989 artifact ever constructed: Ya Kid K (also of Technotronic fame) MC'ing for Hi Tek 3 on a track for the Ninja Turtles movie:
Now, out of belated respect to Ya Kid K (who at the time I treated as far less cool than, in retrospect, she was) here is the original and far superior (i.e. less ninja-turtle-y) video:

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