Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Dear Diary

So I was scrolling through my archives and check out this HOT TAKE from me circa 2007:
"My voting strategy as of now. And this could change. First, I'm going to throw away my vote for Mike Gravel in the primaries. I refuse, on principle, to vote for any candidate whose support for LGBT rights is not clear, and frankly not correct- even if there's a woman running, and even if there's an African-American running. Because right now, this little-known and underexposed candidate is the ONLY one is in full support of marriage equality, who opposes the Defense of Marriage Act, AND opposes "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." (http://www.gravel2008.us/issues
And then Hillary will win the primaries. And I'll have to choose between (a) not voting at all (b) voting for "the lesser two-evils," neither of whom fully support gay rights and are more beholden to corporate interests than they are to the common citizen. Ahhh, the 'lessser of two evils,' that bane of the American voter's existence. 
But, since voting is one of the few meaningful ways for a non-millionaire average citizen to participate in our democracy, I'll choose to vote. 
And I'll vote for Hillary. Who will lose to Rudy Giuliani. Because when America's gut-checked, we'll find out we aren't quite ready for a woman president after all. 
I hope I'm wrong."
What the what? Who the fuck even was I back then? Who the hell is Mike Gravel? Why was I too lazy to use basic HTML to embed a URL? Was I a single-issue "gay rights" voter?

And damn, at least dudes regularly get paid for being wrong about politics.

I mean, it's like reading a journal of sorts, except way more embarrassing because other people can read it as well. (I know, oh woe is the blogger life).

Anyway, I guess my larger, more serious point here is that people's political opinions can and often do change over time.  I ended up voting for Obama in both the 2008 primary and general elections, which is a decision I still agree with. But, I supported the Greens in 2000 (yikes) - mostly because I was in college with little work experience, hadn't yet experienced gender discrimination, didn't fully appreciate that perhaps incremental change is the best way to make lasting change, and I felt powerless in the grand scheme of things and thus sympathized with "anti-establishment" sentiment.

The second point is that I'm also quite certain there are plenty of topics within my archives that I think differently about at present.  The challenge is if and how to address that now.  My thoughts are "out there" representing me, but I have changed over time, as many people are wont to do.

Sadly, neither political nor Internet "gotcha"/"callout" cultures allow for such change or concede that change can be genuine.  The demand is that people must have been perfect, however that is defined at the moment (which itself changes over time), from day one.  A person is painted as a flip-flopper at best or unchangeably rotten to the core at worst.

Hillary Clinton, for instance, is now sometimes critiqued for not fully supporting LGBT rights from the start of her political career. Now, however, I believe she is a sincere ally. I trust that now. I didn't in 2007.

I guess when I look for sincere change, I look for the reasons the person gives for changing. Have they listened? Have they learned? Have they apologized if they've done wrong?  And, looking at ourselves as the judge of someone else, what is our investment, if any, in painting another person a certain way?

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Weapon of Mass Projection

Donald Trump is, because of his public attacks on others (and possibly for other reasons), abusive. Understand that emotionally-abusive people often engage in psychological projection.

Watch him describe Hillary Clinton:
"'She is a totally unhinged person,' Mr Trump said of his Democratic opponent at a rally on Saturday. 'She's unbalanced. And all you have to do is watch her, see her, read about her.'"
Then, watch what he claims about the election:
"The election, Mr Trump warns, could be nefariously tilted against him. 
'I'm telling you, November 8th, we'd better be careful because that election is going to be rigged,' he said in an interview last week. 'I hope the Republicans are watching closely, or it's going to be taken away from us.'"
I know from my own social media feeds that many Trump supporters legitimately believe that the polls are rigged. The media is rigged. The narratives are rigged. The electoral process is rigged. Everything is rigged against Trump.

It's a theme that started with the Bernie Sanders campaign, and now Trump has run away with it. First, the existence of super-delegates meant that the system was "rigged" against Sanders. But then, when he was resoundingly losing the popular vote, the elected delegates, and the majority of states, his campaign pondered trying to switch super-delegates to thwart the will of the voters.

It's not so much that people mind "rigged" systems. It's more that they mind when the systems are not or cannot be rigged in their own favor.

Which brings us back to Trump. If that man is claiming the election is going to be rigged, I think there's a decent chance he's the one trying to rig it.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Hotpants Friday

With literally everybody fangirling over Kate McKinnon lately (which, 100% justified) I feel like we need to remember that Zoie Palmer is also pretty amazing.  And, from what I see of her on Twitter (which as we all know 100% represents how people are offline) she also seems like an adorkably-nice person too.

So, enjoy today's fan vid, featuring Dr. Lauren "HotPants" Lewis.

Dr. Lewis is one of the top reasons to watch Lost Girl, if you haven't watched it already.  (Spoiler alert)  She and Bo are endgame and, as a TV lesbian character, she (*whispers*) actually gets to survive. And end up happy. But, I also appreciated her evolving relationship with both Dyson and Tamsin, two other competitors for Bo's affections. With both, she went from strong dislike to rivalry to kind of a functional chosen family situation. (/Spoiler alert)

Plus, she's smart, funny, nerdy, strong, and attractive. There are so few of us.

(ha ha)

Just watch. Oh, erm, may not be safe for work though.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

NPR Website Drops Comment Sections

Via NPR:
"After much experimentation and discussion, we've concluded that the comment sections on NPR.org stories are not providing a useful experience for the vast majority of our users. In order to prioritize and strengthen other ways of building community and engagement with our audience, we will discontinue story-page comments on NPR.org on August 23."
 Although I'm a regular NPR consumer, I don't read or engage in NPR comment sections so I'm not sure what the commenting crowd was like. From the above-linked article, it seems like NPR noticed that only a tiny fraction of readers actually commented and that NPR is interested in using other platforms for community engagement, such as Facebook, Twitter, and other tools.

NPR Ombudsman Elizabeth Jenkins offered a bit more information, in a separate post, adding that the commenting system is relatively expensive for serving such a small percentage of users.  She also adds that the commenters are disproportionately male (~83%) and that comment sections are not "fostering constructive conversations" because of inappropriate behavior, harassment, and complaints about "censorship."

Ahem.

Anyway, NPR's account speaks to a key characteristic of online civility/commenting that I've echoed over the years: it takes actual resources to moderate comments. These resources include financial, human labor, and emotional resources.  People treating each other decently in online forums doesn't just "work itself out" on its own.  You build a forum and the harassers, trolls, and creepers will come.  Some Internet users have an entitlement mentality in which they believe that the intended purpose of a forum is irrelevant and the Internet exists for them to attack, derail, and assert other rituals of dominance just because they can.

As more and more companies do away with comment sections or re-evaluate their online engagement, at this point in the history of Internet it's difficult to think of any legitimate reason for a company to just throw up a comment section on their website without thinking through commenting guidelines and moderation policies/practices (And, to its credit, NPR had a host of rules, moderators, and FAQs, which can't be said for all large forums).

On a final note, it's too bad that a small minority (of predominately men) ruin comment sections for all within different online communities.  Comment sections on media sites can and do serve beneficial purposes, such as expanding upon, questioning, or legitimately critiquing articles, framing, and spin.

I wonder how much those who advocate "free speech/anything goes" forums think about that loss.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Another Day

Another low for Donald Trump.

Here, I'll note that, like most proud, brave critics of "political correctness," we see how frail Trump's own precious sensibilities are when people report on and critique the words he chooses to say.

Instead of standing behind his "un-PC" statements, he constantly calls characterizations of his words and veiled threats "dishonest."  He's the victim, can't you see?  Everyone else is so over-sensitive and mean to him!

He, his apologists, and the "both sides are just as bad"/"he said, she said" bullshitters within the media claim that Trump wasn't  inciting violence against his rival, Hillary Clinton, when he suggested that "the Second Amendment people" could do something about Clinton if she ever found herself in a position in which she was appointing judges.  

What a nice Presidential candidate you have there, liberals, would be a shame if anything happened to her, eh gun lovers?  *nudge nudge wink wink*

Responding to critique, Trump has claimed he was merely suggesting that the Second Amendment people might exercise power through legitimate political processes, rather than through assassination of his rival (whose position on said Amendment he lied about, because another thing about the non-politically-correct is that they often construct "truth" out of whole cloth). 

That claim of innocence, he makes, even as his own supporters at his own convention were so incited by his and his supporters' rhetoric that they chanted their creepy fantasies of locking Clinton up. That, too, as many others share their fantasies on social media of Clinton being executed for "Benghazi," "the emails," and/or just being a woman who doesn't properly know her place in the world.

As I Tweeted last night, things almost seem quaint when we were outraged by Trump "merely" bragging about his dick on national television, don't they?

With Hillary Clinton continuing to dominate the polls, expect the threats, harassment, and violent fantasies to escalate. It is what abusers do when they are losing, especially when that loser is also a misogynist who is losing to a woman.