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I'd like to take this moment to point out that all forms of binarism are bad. (Including the binarist notion that all things are either "good" or "bad".) I feel like this has to be pointed out because we, every one of us, has a nasty habit: in our overzealousness to tear down one binary, we do so by reinforcing other binaries. So let me say again. All forms of binarism are bad.

It's well-known that I've had a long, fraught history with certain "feminist" communities, due to which I have heretofore disavowed that label. Because of these persistent conflicts, around ten years ago I retreated from feminist circles and communities. However, over the past year I have rejoined a number of feminist circles— or rather, I have joined womanist, black feminist, transfeminist, and queer feminist circles. And thanks to this reinvolvement with feminist activism I have come, once again, to feel a certain attachment to that word: "feminist". The attachment feels strange to me now, having disavowed it for so long in favor of "womanism", "black feminism", "transfeminism", and "queer feminism". But because of this attachment I feel, once more, the need to reclaim feminism away from those "feminist" communities whose philosophy and political methods I continue to disavow.

So, to piss everyone off once more: a manifesto. )

Edit 2014.07.13: Added footnotes [2] and [3].

TDOR

20 Nov 2013 02:06 am
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On this day we remember our dead.

When right-wing bigots lie and fabricate stories about trans* people, you look at our dead and tell me with a straight face who should fear whom. While you worry about your kids feeling nervous about nothing happening, I'm too worried for the children who will one day soon be shot, strangled, suffocated, stabbed, tortured, beheaded, lit on fire, and thrown off bridges simply for existing.

And you on the left: I love all you queers, and I'm glad for your victories; but the next time you celebrate an "LGBT" victory you take a long hard look at your history of throwing that "T" under the bus and you look at our dead and tell me with a straight face how it's not yet time to fight for trans* rights.

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Finally, hard evidence of what we've known all along: Everything the TSA has been doing is a waste of time and money, and violates our privacy for no security gain whatsoever.

quoted from the TSA's own statements: "As of mid-2011, terrorist threat groups present in the Homeland are not known to be actively plotting against civil aviation targets or airports; instead, their focus is on fundraising, recruiting, and propagandizing."
Elsewhere, in the redacted portions, the TSA is quoted as admitting that "there have been no attempted domestic hijackings of any kind in the 12 years since 9/11."
Amazingly, it appears that the government forced Corbett to redact the revelation that the TSA's own threat assessments have shown "literally zero evidence that anyone is plotting to blow up an airline leaving from a domestic airport."

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Google has their well-known unofficial motto "don't be evil". However, as they have grown as a corporation they often run into issues living up to that motto. As a recent example, Google is a major sponsor of this year's Conservative Political Action Conference. Conservatism alone is not evil, however this conference gives platform to anti-gay and white supremacist bigotry. There's a Change.org petition which has more details on the issue. Do go read it, and please sign it if you agree with the points made there.

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Stop ACTA & TPP: Tell your country's officials: NEVER use secretive trade agreements to meddle with the Internet. Our freedoms depend on it! For more information see La Quadrature du Net.

For European users, this form will email every MEP with a known email address.
Fight For The Future may contact you about future campaigns. We will never share your email with anyone. Privacy Policy

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Ten years ago a large number of people died tragically. After a decade of colonial warfare, torture, and oppression, Americans are starting finally to come to the realization that maybe it would be good of us to stop killing. As so eloquently phrased in On 9/11 and the War on "Terror": Names, Numbers and Events:

The events that have been taking place since 9/11 are not something that came out of the blue, but rather they are best understood as a continuation of a long history of deception, racism of Western modernity, and the ways in which those who are not white/westerners have figured into this history.

On this day, so full of jingoistic pride at "liberating" humans from their life on Earth, you should read that article and take Ibn Khaldoun's message to heart. Do not think that you are somehow special and exempt. Who funded and armed Al-Qaeda in order to oppose the Soviets? Who put Saddam Hussein into power and supported his regime? Who supported the Shah in Iran and opposed the democratic revolution in the 1970s? Who has been a close ally and long-time supporter of Mubarak? Whose officials helped Gaddafi cling to power and advised him in stomping out the beginning of Libya's uprising? The uprisings throughout the Arabic world are not uprisings against "Muslim extremists". The uprisings are Arabic peoples who are finally able to free themselves from the shackles of western hegemony.

Today, right now, a large number of people are dying tragically. They need our help; and the help they need is for us to stop killing them.

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An Atlanta area mother was recently convicted of vehicular homicide. Convicted for the crime of being a pedestrian hit by a drunken driver, a driver who was also on painkillers, also half blind, also convicted of two previous hit-and-runs. Her child was also hit, and killed, which is why she's now a criminal. In truth, she was convicted for the crime of being black and poor in America. I haven't been in the country six hours and this is the news story that greets me. Racism, the othering of people who take public transit, and the deadly violent car culture that dominates the US.

A (white) friend of mine was killed in a crosswalk in Portland years ago. The SUV driver couldn't be bothered to check if it was safe when making a left-hand turn across a busy street, at full speed without slowing at all. There were witnesses. He also fled the scene. She was headed to the corner to next to her apartment to buy a mop.

I've been hit three times in crosswalks, all three with the walk sign on and a red light for the cars. Only one of those times was it serious. But I was saved by the fact that the rich white man was driving a sporty little thing so I went over the hood instead of under.

What a welcome home.

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As Glenn Greenwald helpfully pointed out, the editors of the NYT — America's allegedly liberal newspaper — reserve the word "terrorist" solely for use in conjunction with the word "Muslim".

All the hate mongering confirmation bias in the wake of the tragedy in Oslo just shows how much the extreme terrorism of the right wing has corrupted American culture. As Ahmed Moor says in zir excellent commentary on the situation,

But not all liberals are created equal.

It is a credit to the Norwegian people that their prime minister did not respond to the terror attack with scorched-earth rhetoric or a carpet-bombing campaign. A real liberal with strong principles, he did not succumb to fear or vicious speculation.

(As always, the hat-tip goes to [profile] homasse for cutting to the heart of the issue, as well as informing me of world news in my last week here in Canada.)

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I've said it all before (and been harangued for doing so), but maybe it'll be heard better coming from someone else's mouth. Here's the shortest excerpt I can give from Why I'm leaving feminism:

My ‘issues’ being things like the rape of people in institutions, the fact that the average transgender person can expect to live for 23 years, forcible institutionalisation of people whom society doesn’t want to look at, ridiculously high domestic violence and sexual assault rates for transgender people and people with disabilities. The widening pay gap between white women and women of colour, the fact that the median net worth for Black women is $5. The fact that fat patients die without treatment due to fat hatred in the medical community. The fact that industrial pollution disproportionately impacts communities of colour, that class mobility is at an all time low, that the rich are getting richer while the poor get poorer, that protections for worker safety are steadily being eroded, that unions are under attack in the United States.

These barely scratch the surface of ‘my issues.’ Because I believe that no human is free until all humans are free, no human is equal until all humans are equal, no gains for one group at the cost of another are acceptable. I believe in social justice, in liberty for all. These are my issues. And many people who identify themselves as feminists tell me the issues need to wait. They pay lip service to them until something more important comes along and then it becomes all-consuming. They repeat the same mistakes make by older generations and appear surprised at the inevitable outcome.

[...]

People who continue to be celebrated as feminist heroes leave a legacy of ableism, racism, classism, transphobia in their wake. The feminist movement has never gotten away from this, despite the best attempts of many of its members.

For a long time, I genuinely believed I could change the feminist movement from within. I thought if I fought hard enough, and long enough, feminism would make a place at the table for me, that I would be welcome in the feminist community. But it’s painfully evident I am not wanted, not in mainstream feminism, which is the ‘feminism’ most people are exposed to. I know well enough to know where I’m not wanted. The leaders of the feminist movement don’t just have a lack of interest in ‘my issues,’ they actively want to suppress my voice, and the voices of people like me. They want us to shut up and go away. It’s evident from the palpable sighs of relief when they manage to quash us, it’s evident from the total silence when a disabled women talks about why she is leaving feminism and not one person, not one, says anything about it.

So many disabled people, nonwhite people, transgender people, people of colour, poor people, adamantly refuse to identify with feminism in its current incarnation in the United States. ‘Feminists’ talk about this in the sense that we’re all really feminist in how we think, behave, and act, we just have some irrational resistance to the label. No, we’re not really feminist. The model of feminism we see is one where oppression perpetrated in the name of ‘activism’ is acceptable, where casual ableism, racism, classism, transphobia run so deep that many of us don’t even bother to point it out anymore. The model of feminism we see is one where a handful of people profit at the expense of others. And that’s not how we think, behave, and act. That is not what we believe.

NIH

12 Mar 2011 11:55 pm
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I find it terribly unfortunate how susceptible academics are to Not Invented Here syndrome. Especially in disciplines like computer science where one of the primary acts of research is the creation of artifacts, a great amount of time and money are wasted replicating free publicly available programs. Worse than the effort wasted constructing the initial artifact is the continuous supply of effort it takes to maintain and debug these copies of the original. It's no wonder that so much of academic software is unreliable, unmaintained, and usable only by the developing team.

It's reasons like this why I support the free/open-source development model, demonstrated in academic projects like Joshua and GHC. The strong infusion of real-world software engineering methodologies that come from designing reliable software in F/OSS and industry seems to be the only way to save academia from itself.

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An excerpt from pdx42:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.— That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

It has become clear to me that far too few members of this nation have read, or contemplated, the significance of this document. The racial profiling law in Arizona is just one of a number of grievances that could be raised against the conservative movement that has been dominating the government for many years now. Where did we go wrong, and why is there not enough revolutionary spirit to combat our modern list of grievances?

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The Real Science Gap

If you're anything like me, you've heard tale of the shortage of American scientists and the failing standards of our education system for decades. This article offers a detailed rebuttal of the party line. The problem isn't too few talented individuals, they say, it's too few career prospects and a grist mill devoted to the exploitation of young scientists. This certainly reflects my experiences, both at a top research university and at a more vocational state school. I've always been more motivated by intellectual challenges than monetary rewards (in contrast to many of my colleagues), but it's always unsettling to look up at the house of cards. Will I actually be able to make a career of the research I so enjoy, or is this just a brief respite from the drudgery of a work-a-day programming job?
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Or, rather, why the people who state that are usually wrong.

So this definition for racism was brought up again recently when yet another person claimed we live in a post-racial society. Which is usually the context it's brought up in: someone claims Racism = Prejudice and then declares minorities need to get over themselves because of their evidenced prejudice against white folks; and then someone more educated on issues of racism seeks to correct them (using R=P+IP to disprove R=P). I certainly don't believe R=P, but rather my point of contention is a meta issue about how R=P+IP is presented. That is, the theory of R=P+IP as it is customarily presented online is false, even though I do believe something similar is in fact true.

Why it is wrong comes down to one simple fact: there is no Institution. There is no single power structure in which we're all embedded. Even if we parameterize IP by country (as people often do), it's still wrong because there is no single power structure for the entire country. By stating R=P+IP there is an implicit theoretical belief in this singular notion of IP. And as if the implicit theory isn't enough, people often feel the need to be explicit about it. It is this totalizing discourse which is wrong. In addition to being inaccurate, totalizing claims transfer the problem of racism from individuals and individual actions to some external and ineffable "Institution" which individuals are not able to affect (due to its externality). So in addition to being inaccurate, it also serves to dissuade people from altering their personal actions in hopes of combating racism.

The fact of the matter is that we are, each of us, embedded simultaneously in multiple different and often conflicting power structures. I am not only in America, I'm also in Bloomington and I'm also a graduate student. (And anyone who thinks academia isn't a power structure orthogonal to real life is seriously misled.) More to the point, prior to moving to Bloomington I lived in Baltimore for two years. In Baltimore they have problems with racially-motivated black-on-white hate crimes. Now, when I can be hospitalized or killed for the crime of riding the bus while white, anyone who says it's merely "prejudice" has some very odd definitions rattling around in their head. In Baltimore, yes, blacks can be racist too. So when someone gets on their high horse and starts making totalizing claims about how the general disenfranchisement of blacks in America means they can't be racist, it's my turn to call them out for spouting bullshit.

My time in Baltimore was thankfully free of any (noticeable) racism. And I'm sure most other white residents receive less racism from blacks per annum than the average black person does from whites in most places. This isn't the oppression olympics, but rather it's an existence proof: When I was living in Baltimore there were numerous white people hospitalized and killed due to being assaulted on the bus by blacks because of their race. This happens in spite of the fact that everyone living in Baltimore is also living in America where blacks are typically the targets of racism. These two different kinds of hatred stem from being embedded in two different systems of power. In America whites have more power than blacks and use that to police racial borders. In Baltimore, which has different population dynamics (e.g., blacks aren't a minority), blacks have more power than whites and will use that to police racial borders. There is nothing about the power dynamics of America as a whole which precludes some part of America having opposing dynamics.

So IP is not a constant, nor is it a function only of the country. For the R=P+IP equation to be true, IP must be a function which takes in all the different power structures we live in and highlights whether any of those structures provide power in the given context. Whether my power as a white person in America or my weakness as a white person in Baltimore is more relevant will depend on the situation and is not simply the sum of the power from all structures. Similarly, whatever sorts of power I have as a graduate student are unlikely to be of any relevance in contexts that have nothing to do with education. Institutionalized power is both polysemous and contextually dependent. What is institutionalized in one structure need not be institutionalized in others, and which of these many "institutions" can be brought to bear is constantly changing.

By trying to totalize over these two dimensions, people prone to espousing R=P+IP as if IP were a constant are not only misleading those they are presuming to educate, but in so doing they are also failing to acknowledge that individual institutions can be changed, as can the dynamics of which institutions affect our lives. Institutionalized power can never be entirely eliminated. It can, however, be restructured so that it does not support the marginalization and oppression of racial minorities (or women, LGBTQ, disabled people, etc). And most importantly it is because of our own power within these different systems that we are able, through personal actions, to alter the systems in which we have power. We don't have racism because Those People Out There all got together and agreed to it; it is because our personal actions are complicit in preserving the institutionalized structures which support the oppression of minorities. But those very same institutionalized structures give us the currency needed to alter them; it is not enough to want equality, we must have the power to obtain it.

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Important words from [livejournal.com profile] pdx42:

In 2006, Dr. Martin Luther King Day happened to fall on January 16. Below, I am reposting a small part of what I wrote for that day, slightly updated for 2008.
(original)

In three days' time, on January 21, the third Monday of the month, we as a nation will be celebrating the life, accomplishments, and blessings of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Our nation and our society have truly been transformed for the better by his life. Many Americans regard him as the greatest peacemaker of our history. I believe him to have been the greatest American patriot of the 20th Century.

This weekend, while enjoying your day off on Monday, or listening to a sermon on the life of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., keep in mind that he was, first and foremost, an inspiring man of God, a man of peace who kept close to the words of his prophet, Jesus Christ. Please also keep in mind that at the time Dr. King was assassinated, most of his civil rights work was done. Almost two years earlier, he had turned his attention toward the injustice of the Vietnam War. I and many others believe that this is the reason he was killed, much more than for his stalwart work for civil rights.

This weekend, many people will be quoting Dr. King's "I Have a Dream" speech. I'll bet you that even President Bush quotes this speech sometime in the next three days. Many consider it Dr. King's magnum opus, but they neglect -- perhaps intentionally, perhaps not -- the speech he gave not long before his death, "Why I Oppose the War in Vietnam". So that this is not forgotten, so that the words of this great patriot, America's greatest peacemaker, are not left to history, particularly in these days when we most desperately need to hear them, please download and listen to Dr. King's thoughts on the Vietnam War, which can plainly be applied to any war.

And do read the original. I know you are all old enough to remember that war. It was my first exposure to politics. I remember it. And I remember being ten years old and asking all the adults around me why we were there, and I remember noone could give any answers then either. I remember green-light videos of those missiles on the news. I remember people talking about Vietnam, a mythical word the wound too new to expose to some kid. And I remember losing power with those green lights when the hurricane hit Maine. It passed straight over us. I remember the eye, the deafening silence.

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So I was recently made aware of the SMART award offered by the DoD and I'm considering whether to apply or not. Now, as those of you who know me fairly well, I may well have moral reasons for not doing so. The question I'm uncertain of, is whether and the extent to which accepting such an award actually would conflict with my morals.

Assuming I make the cut to get the award and pass the security clearance, the award in sum: 31k$/year stipend, full tuition, 1k$ book allowance, and random other things like health benefits. Never say the DoD doesn't know how to entice people in. The obligations in sum: DoD retains certain (unspecified) rights to any inventions, summers spent in paid internship with DoD laboratory or agency, post-graduation employment in DoD civilian S&E workforce (laboratory or agency) for as many years as award received for, and other random things I'm not too worried about. The post-grad employment may require "mobility", the internships are unspecified. Applicants can list agencies they'd prefer to work in, but ultimately it's up to what the DoD decides they want/need. If the contract is broken, then they want all their money back.

Naturally, other benefits would include continued employment opportunities with the DoD, though I have other plans for life (which may also benefit from the addition to my CV). Depending on where I end up transferring to, I'd be looking at one or two years until graduation, meaning one or two years working before I can start on my doctorate which would push that back from 27~28 to 28~30, which pushes getting the degree back to 32~34 if I stay on track— still not too late for a career as a professor, though getting perilously close unless I already have a number of publications by then. Another indirect concern is about that mobility thing; I'm not too concerned for my own sake, but I'm uncertain how it might affect things with my latest romance. Which is ultimately something only she can answer, and no doubt will depend on what her career situation is looking like at that point, but nevertheless.

To make my question more concrete, I'm a pacifist or more specifically nonviolent. To be clear, it's not so much that I have problems killing people per se, it's that I object to the use of violent force as a means of resolving conflict. Having seen some small portion of the depravity to which humanity can sink in enacting violence against itself, as with Einstein, I know that the only hope for our survival is to overcome that most base instinct to revert every conflict into one for blood. To be brutally honest, it's not even the survival of the species I'm concerned with so much as the survival of me and my own and our ability to discover great wonders such as settling the stars or whatever else may be out there. The use of violence to resolve conflict has always and will always be at odds with the desire for survival and exploration. Say what you will about whether the majority of humanity coming to abandon violence is possible, if it is not then we are doomed, if we do not try then we are doomed, consequently we can accept defeat or we can try.

Now, my employment with the DoD would be as a civilian and so I have no need to worry about my own direct actions, however the question is the extent to which my indirect actions and their indirect effects would encourage or discourage the use of violence overall. At one extreme, I could design a critical component for a weapon. Whether the weapon was used in actuality or used only to threaten, either constitutes reinforcing the use of violence. On the other hand, my research could be in something more benign and generally applicable like communications. For which there is a general trend that greater levels of communication tend to reduce conflict (even if only by homogenizing the communicants) though there can also be backlashes when one communicant feels they cannot stop the communication nor hold their own against the cultural influx. On the third hand, my research could also lead to something such as powerful AI, the effects of which could revolutionize the world in dramatic ways which would be difficult to label as either good or bad.

Certainly I'll be putting in for other grants and fellowships, and I have a while before needing to apply for this one as well as being able to decline the award. But I'm curious what my readership thinks of the situation, either those who are also pacifists or those who are not but are willing to consider things from that position.

Discuss.

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CORTANA: The message just repeats. 'Regret, Regret, Regret.'
MIRANDA: Catchy. Any idea what it means?
JOHNSON: Dear Humanity... we regret being alien bastards. We regret coming to Earth.
And we most definitely regret that the Corps just blew up our raggedy-ass fleet!
PILOTS (in unison): Oo-rah!
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Feh, I'm feeling lazy. Go read my real blog. There are four five new posts which I'll port over at some later point; maybe after I finally write that script to automate the process

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"Let's turn on the funk. I'm here tonight to talk with you about open-source." Cue dimming of the lights. A single spot alights the stage wherein a lonely mic, a barstool, and an over-dressed geek or an under-dressed poet approaches. A lonely cello (or is it a bass guitar?) waits, stage-left, the clicking clapping crowd dims, waits, a blue smoke curling 'round the luminescence casts the world into amber and cobalt. "There's been a lot of discussion about open-source in the past, but for some reason noone seems to discuss it much these days...

Now, I'm not going to tell you f/oss'll save your soul. Not gonna tell you f/oss'll make your millions. I'm not here to sell software. Not today. But I am going to talk about software —no, I'm not going to talk about software, I'm going to talk about ideology. It's not an ideology of community, not an ideology of coöperation; I'm not talking about f/oss here, but rather about a new world order f/oss is but the harbinger for.

You are not it the world of your forefathers and -mothers. Not in the world of the dot-com era. Not in the world to which you were born. You are a nomadic hunter first discovering that grain left to moulder in sodden fields bears fruit. You are an entrepreneur discovering that heated gasses expand and captured in a vessel can force a piston into motion. You are discovering that lightning can be stored in jars, can transmit sound to the stars, can teach sand to think. You are discovering that everything you know is wrong. The world has shifted and you've been left behind to collect the remnant shards of nostalgia.

And you are being told this is cause to rejoice.

The Revolution will not be televised )
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