Problematic fiction, and action

Lately, I’ve been seeing discussions of “anti-shipping” hit mainstream, for example in a Kotaku article trying to connect it to the latest video game controversies. I’m separated by two degrees from any anti-shipping arguments, but I’m aware it’s a clusterfuck, so I’m a bit apprehensive about this new attention. People who are involved in anti-shipping flame wars are notorious for pulling in complete strangers to the subject, and coercively classifying them on one side or the other. It’s a nasty flame war I prefer to keep at arms distance, although I find some of the underlying questions to be interesting.

Briefly, anti-shippers (or simply “antis” if you want to be enigmatic and ungoogleable) are people with moral objections to certain kinds of problematic ships. The precise content of anti-shipper or pro-shipper stances is slippery, but in my understanding anti-shippers commonly object to ships with characters that are canonically minors, and even label it pedophilia. If you’re familiar with the dominant culture in fanfic (AO3 in particular), and their habit of shipping basically every pair of characters, you can see how the disagreement is substantial and significant.

This raises several questions. What exactly counts as problematic or not? What does it mean to have a moral objection to problematic content, vs just not liking that content, or not wanting to be exposed to it? Once we’ve identified problematic content, what actions do we advocate taking in response? As a writer who has occasionally critiqued works of fiction from a social justice perspective, it is that last question that fascinates me.

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Mixed race in the 2020 US Census

TL;DR: The 2020 US Census shows a very large increase in the “Two or More Races” group. However, at least some of this likely has to do with changes in the question design and coding procedures, and shifting constructions of race.

The US Census construction of Race

When the US Census asks about race and ethnicity, it tries to reflect the way that racial/ethnic identity is constructed in the United States, but it also has to obey certain constraints. As a result there are some outstanding differences between race as it is constructed by US residents, and race as it is constructed by the US Census. For example, Middle Eastern Americans often do not identify as White, and are not perceived as White (and I suspect this perception has increased since 9/11), but in the US Census they are still classified as white.

Another outstanding difference is in how the US Census defines “race” vs “ethnicity”. According to the Census, “Hispanic, Latino, or Spanish origin” and its negation are the only ethnic categories, and are excluded from the racial categories. I can say from my own experience with surveys, that this system is really weird, and causes no end of confusion among respondents.

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2021 California Election positions

Hey, remember in 2020, when I said vote, but not just today? I’m going to keep citing that.

Starting today, California voters are getting mailed ballots for the gubernatorial recall election. As far as I know, this is a uniquely Californian process, where if opponents gather enough signatures, they can initiate an election to end the governor’s term early. This ballot has only two questions, but I still going through the usual exercise of stating my positions.  (The point is not to share heavy amounts of research, which I do not do, it is to normalize the process of just looking things up and voting.)

No on recall

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Link Roundup: August 2021

Microtonal reharmonizations of “Red Dress”: mostly a capella version by Stephen Weigel, and synthwave version by FAST-fast – In case you were wondering what this song would sound like if all the backing were in tune with Sarah.  I’m just going to say that this is what I was hearing a glimmer of from the beginning.

Reflections on Jason Voorhees, Virginity in Horror, and the Specter of the Anti-Sex Killer | Ace Theist – A deep examination of how slasher films–especially Friday the 13th–are said to kill off characters who have sex, and leave virgins as survivors.  These supposed tropes are not entirely supported by the text, and it seems that characters who show sex or nudity on screen always die, but the survivors are rarely described as virgins.  Nonetheless, the reading of Jason Voorhees as anti-sexual has some weight to it, and is particularly interesting in light of how popular Jason is as a character.  Jason as an asexual icon is… fairly problematic to say the least.  But I’m reminded of the discourse on queer-coded villains–on the one hand, it’s kind of terrible that there’s an association between queerness and villainy, but on the other hand, villains are actually awesome.

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Blog effort justification

I hope bloggers don’t feel attacked by this…

As a blogger who is often in a position to plug articles from other blogs, I know that bloggers are like to promote the essays that they feel most proud of. And the essays they feel most proud of, are often the longest ones, the ones that they put the most effort into. However, I rarely believe these are the best essays they produce. Indeed, sometimes they are the worst.

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Origami: KNL Dragon

KNL Dragon

KNL Dragon designed by Robert Lang

This is a neat origami model that can be found in Origami Design Secrets, by Robert Lang.  Origami Design Secrets is basically a textbook, so it’s here to demonstrate the “grafting” technique.  Grafting can be used to create a model with one piece of paper, that might otherwise require multiple sheets of paper.  This model, in its original form designed by Kunihiko Kasahara, took three pieces of paper.  Robert Neale made a contribution that simplified it to two sheets of paper.  Kasahara’s head design was combined with a model by Robert Neale, to make a two-piece design.  Finally Robert Lang made a design that only used one sheet.  It’s called the Kasahara-Neale-Lang Dragon, or KNL Dragon.

Among the many models in the book, this is a favorite.  When I’ve shown this to other origami people, they often ask how to make one.  You’re welcome to try this video, but it’s only recommended for experienced origamists.  It involves some very tricky (and small!) sink folds–something I notice Robert Lang tends to scatter all around his designs like they’re nothing!  Nonetheless, it’s a lovely model with a particularly great silhouette.