Skepchick is back! – That is, to say, they’ve collected a lot of their former writers, and relaunched the site. (Although, even when Skepchick was “inactive”, Rebecca Watson was still there with some good vlogging.)
Terrible Graphs of Orientation – I collected a bunch of graphs, primarily made by ace people. And I tried to “outdo” the graphs by drawing hypercubes labeled with comic sans.
“No romo”: An overanalysis – I wrote in great depth about “no romo”, which is an occasional meme among aromantic people. Mostly I end up talking about the history of “no homo”, and all the different ways it has been used.
A commenter pointed out that you can hear the beating frequency between two notes, even if each note is played in a separate ear. If you have headphones/earbuds, you can hear it for yourself. This is fascinating, because there is no real beating frequency in the air, so the beating frequency you perceive is somehow created in your brain.
Graysexuality – I’ve identified as graysexual (aka gray-asexual, gray-A) for almost a decade, so I’m quite pleased to see Ozy write about it. Ozy even takes a unique angle, saying that we’re witnessing the construction of a new sexual orientation.
People always complain that the problem with labels is that they box you in, and graysexuality is a sort of response to that, being a deliberately nebulous identity with no single narrative. The closest thing to a single narrative, is that you relate to asexual experiences a lot, but not enough to consider yourself asexual. And then people go and complain that graysexuality isn’t coherent enough–well you can’t have it both ways.
Overused Statistic #738: Mental Illness and Violent Victimization – It’s commonly said that mentally ill people are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, but as Crip Dyke points out, this is a trivial fact, and does not actually contradict people’s belief that most perpetrators are mentally ill. Yeah, this kind of annoys me too.
The argument that I would make, is that the number of perpetrators of violence is just so small. Therefore, if you want to try a preventative measure, you either have to target a very specific minority, OR your preventative measure has to be humane and fair enough that it’s acceptable to apply mostly to people who never would have become violent. Mental illness is so common that it is not a reasonable target–you might as well just target the whole population, and use some measure like “make guns illegal”.
We Prosecute Murder Without the Victim’s Help. Why Not Domestic Violence? – The short answer is that in 2004, there was a Supreme Court case that made a lot of evidence of domestic violence inadmissible. If the victim makes statements to the police, and then later recants (possibly due to threat of violence or financial dependency), those statements made to the police cannot be admitted as evidence without the victim’s cooperation. Prosecutors have to be creative in finding admissible evidence.
Michael Sam’s pursuit of happiness – Michael Sam was the first openly gay player in the NFL. But it seems that after he came out his football career was short-lived. He also broke off an engagement, and was dealing with hard drug problems. So, I don’t care about football and therefore don’t care about whether he was good at it, nor do I think anyone is entitled to a lucrative football career. But still, he seems in need of a supportive community, instead of the community he got, who seems to think his problems are best solved with more substances. At one point he says he feels abandoned by LGBT groups, who brought a lot of support when he came out, but would not help him at his low points. I’m sure this story must be very discouraging to other closeted gay athletes.
Sekiro and Difficulty: Why Cheese is Far Worse than an Easy Mode – Since the release of Sekiro (by the creators of Dark Souls), games critics have once again started talking about difficulty in video games. There’s a sense of fatigue among critics, but I don’t care, I still find it interesting (despite having no interest in playing Sekiro). Anyway, the author points out that Sekiro fan communities reject idea of an “easy mode”, but approve of “cheese”–tricks you can perform to negate the challenge, such as finding a way to completely skip a boss. There is no justification for this double standard, and in fact it should be the other way around.
Why a Traffic Flow Suddenly Turns into a Traffic Jam – As a former condensed matter physicist and former Los Angeles resident, I find the phenomenon of spontaneous traffic jams to be fascinating. Sadly I only ever get to read about it in these popular news articles, which seem to be forbidden from including any real math. Seems like ideal blogging fodder for the future.
The Political Implications of Talking Dog Movies (video) – Jack Saint discusses at length how talking dog movies take for granted that there is a race of intelligent beings who are completely subservient to us, and that their subservience is just and good. Of course, it’s just a genre convention, and most movies avoid dwelling on it.
It’s kind of silly to think about, but I think it serves as a useful point of comparison for talking about other genre conventions. For example, there are many genre conventions in romance that, in real life, would be giant red flags. But we usually don’t think of them that way, because in the language of the genre, it’s just there to generate conflict, or to be “romantic”.
The Politics of Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog (video) – Sarah discusses an old Joss Whedon short film, observing that the protagonist follows what we now recognize as the incel narrative arc. Whether the film is sufficiently critical of the incel narrative is up for interpretation.
I particularly like Sarah’s discussion of toxic masculinity. The antagonist, Captain Hammer, represents a certain kind of toxic masculinity, the stereotypical kind that is all strength and crudeness. But we can see that Dr. Horrible himself is an example of a different kind of toxic masculinity, a nerdier and more vulnerable kind. I’ve been saying for years that the problem with discussion around “toxic masculinity” is that there’s a lot of focus put on, essentially, machismo, which is a form of masculinity I have never felt pressured to perform. We’re missing a much-needed discussion of “nerdy” masculinity which often contrasts itself from jock masculinity, but can still be toxic nonetheless.