Melissa Bachman, hunting and the ethics of outrage

In my latest for The Guardian, I examine the backlash against hunter Melissa Bachman who killed a lion then posted a picture of her successful kill on social media. The backlash, more than the kill itself, worries me. That doesn’t mean I support hunting – I still don’t know my moral position on it – but it does confirm my worry over pile-ons, hate and indications of sexism that poisons much discussion of women on the Internet. [Read more…]

The ethics and integrity of consumer media

I made noises (wrote a Medium post) about maintaining a sense of integrity when reporting and criticising and writing on media that is popularly consumed: particularly tech ones.

It’s really an elongated reaction to the frequent, dirty habit of game and other tech journalists Tweeting pictures of amazing technology, that they didn’t themselves pay for (my follow-up post will argue “not paying” is not the same as “for free”).

I’m ignoring the boring accusations of how it means journalists have been bought by whatever company sent them such swag. I’m interested in what is more essential: that critics and writers and so forth ought not to emulate the base actions of fans.

It doesn’t matter how much they love something – be it an Apple product or the latest Call of Duty – what separates them from every commenter and gamer with a blog, is that they should have a higher (or special) degree of integrity, anchored by their responsibility to us: their readers. When they fail that, they’ve failed their job. And we must learn to recognise it.

(You can probably tell how much I hate all those “unboxing” videos of the latest consoles.)

Criticism of Islam and Islamophobia

My super smart frenemy Kenan Malik has a new post up, examining the blurry, grey landscape that is the no man’s land between the criticism of Islam and Islamophobia.

Islamophobia is a problematic term. This is not because hatred of, or discrimination against, Muslims does not exist. Clearly it does. Islamophobia is a problematic term because it can be used by both sides to blur the distinction between criticism and hatred. On the one hand, it enables many to attack criticism of Islam as illegitimate because it is judged to be ‘Islamophobic’.  On the other, it permits those who promote hatred to dismiss condemnation of that hatred as stemming from an illegitimate desire to avoid criticism of Islam. In conflating criticism and bigotry, the very concept of Islamophobia, in other words, makes it more difficult to engage in a rational discussion about where and how to draw the line between the two.

I tried tackling this in relation to Sam Harris – who I like but Kenan isn’t such a fan of – some time back, myself.

I find, for example, Murtaza Hussain’s criticisms of Harris misguided, though I’ve not yet formulated a good enough response. Anyway, Kenan’s articles are always incredibly nuanced and thoughtful (compare that to anything Hussain writes about Harris).

I hope you’ll read Kenan since he’s one of the smartest people you’re likely to encounter, whose topics are broad yet consistently insightful. Even The New York Times recognised this recently.

The rage against the cosplay girls (& fake nerd girls)

Whenever I Googled any aspect to do with “fake geek girls” or other aspects of regular nerdrage, this blogpost kept popping up. It’s titled “Why Cosplay Girls Annoy The Shit Out Of Me”.

I thought I’d write a response, since the comments seem to mostly agree with it and I’ve not seen one critically examine it’s strange claims. Sorry that it’s a little old.

I am anticipating a sudden drop in my number of online friends and an immediate rise in hatemail. Why? Because today I am calling out cosplay girls.

Not guys.

I am a science fiction fan, and I mean that in the “I know who Theodore Sturgeon, Robert Sheckley, Fredirik Pohl and a whole bunch of other people you have no idea are because you think watching 6 seasons of Lost made you a hardcore Sci-Fi fan”

Oh please! He think this proves his credentials?! [Read more…]

In my first digital magazine

Yes, it’s a (local) gaming one; if you’re interested in gaming, good writing or my writing, I hope you’ll give it a read.

It’s free and lovingly made by fellow South African writers who love games. I love the fact that it’s a magazine, not a knee-jerk, “put up as fast possible” website – where speed of information matters more than quality conveying of that information.

Engagement rings are bullshit

Engagement rings are bullshit.

My latest for the Guardian was a lighter piece – that actually ties into more deeper elements of my hatred for most things romance – on this.

The comment section is a pleasant (/sarcasm) space of people questioning the usual, irrelevant details of me:

  • Do I really get paid to write this? (Yes)
  • Have I got nothing better to focus on? (I can do many things at the same time and do)
  • Is this a letter/gripe because I’ve been dumped (No, if it was and the relationship hinged on jewellery then that’s a relationship I’d be glad to be out of)
  • I must be obviously single (Not that it’s anyone’s business but I’m in a happy, long-term relationship with an amazing woman who laughed at the comments)
  • I’m a cheapskate (Well done for proving my thesis that marketers for diamond companies can get their customers to shame men/others into purchases of a tradition the marketers started and for measuring love according to shiny rocks).

etc.

Some people seem fascinated with my ugly mug staring at them. I found that sweet.

Gay love burns

Indeed. According to a Christian group in Australia, October’s terrible bushfires were caused by the pesky gays trying to be all equal and love like other humans and shit.

The charmingly-named Christian Snippets Australia has sent many emails to New South Wales lawmakers, since there has been an effort to legalise same-sex marriage.

The group, says Andrew Potts, warned:

..that recent ‘bushfires and gale force winds’ were a ‘prelude’ to what would happen if a bill to legalize same-sex marriage is passed by the NSW Upper House.

As usual, with the threats, their inner-poet comes out as with the warning to the state Premier: “The email warned NSW state Premier Barry O’Farrell to ‘quash the bill or be quashed’ himself.”

Charming.

The terrible destruction caused by the fires won’t be solved by preventing gay people from marrying; but of course mindsets so embedded in finding moral faults via supernatural morality will always have refracted answers. The moral stick bends in the waters of faith, meaning no proper answer to real questions can be solved. Clarity and recognising why these fires occurred – from a scientific and evidence-based political perspective – will solve and prevent this, not prayer or recognised homophobia.

Monarchy… seriously?

I was reading an old, but good post from Hamilton Nolan – that’s equal parts hyperbolic and entertaining as informative. I’m not sure what it was that made me think how bizarre it is that UK still has people who just are “better” than us mortals — for some unknown reason.

Writing at Gawker, Nolan wrote:

It is amusing to reflect upon the imperial past of England, and the inherent assumptions of racial and cultural superiority that fueled it, while also noting the fact that the UK still to this very day continues to offer slavish financial, political, and cultural support to a tiny family elite notable for nothing except the lineage of the particular person’s vagina from which they slunk. The persistence of the Royal Family, and the worshipful attention that it draws from the British public, is the sort of primitive superstitious voodoo that puts to shame any of the animist rituals that the colonial British would have derided as uncivilized.

The rest of it just gets better.

I am reminded of Christopher Hitchens’ beautiful plea to Kate Middleton to do a 180 and find life as a normal, actual person, not the puppet of desperation with hooks from history propping up this charade for reasons that confound many.

Hereditary monarch, observed Thomas Paine, is as absurd a proposition as a hereditary doctor or mathematician…By some mystic alchemy, the breeding imperatives for a dynasty become the stuff of romance, even “fairy tale.” The usually contemptuous words fairy tale were certainly coldly accurate about the romance quotient of the last two major royal couplings, which brought the vapid disco-princesses Diana and Sarah (I decline to call her “Fergie”) within range of demolishing the entire mystique. And, even if the current match looks a lot more wholesome and genuine, its principal function is still to restore a patina of glamour that has been all but irretrievably lost.

 

 

propThe Free Dictionary: An object placed beneath or against a structure to keep it from falling or shaking; a support.