Link Roundup: January 2022

Circumgender: A Gender/fucked history | Fox Auslander (zine) – This zine tells a story of a single microlabel.  It was supposedly coined by a 13-year old girl on Tumblr, but in fact the girl was the fabrication of a then self-proclaimed truscum (roughly means a binary trans person who doesn’t believe in nonbinary identities).  Now, the term is regularly mocked by TERFs, while also being “reclaimed” by a small number of people who identify with the experience it describes.  The original coiner collaborated to make this zine to beg people to stop.

You may have heard of the many microlabels that have been coined, especially in relation to asexual or nonbinary experiences.  These microlabels often have a secret history.  They’re not usually hoaxes–so far as I know–but they tend to be individual projects.  They rarely gain much traction as identities, but often gain disproportionate attention.  I have no ill will towards people who like adopting uncommon labels, and a few of them are more successful than you might think, but I’m extremely critical of resources that list all these identities without any real context on what’s going on.  If you’ve ever used the LGBTA wiki, please don’t, it’s completely littered with terms that were basically dead on arrival, and it routinely fails to supply that important bit of context.

‘Buy the Constitution’ Aftermath: Everyone Very Mad, Confused, Losing Lots of Money, Fighting, Crying, Etc. | Vice Motherboard – A cryptocurrency-based organization crowdfunded $40M to bid on a copy of the US Constitution, but ultimately lost the auction.  People donated eth in exchange for tokens that supposedly gave them voting power over a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO).  However, the details of how this governance would actually work was never quite worked out, and the decentralized organization was in fact centralized in all but name.  Even though the governance tokens are theoretically tied to a concrete amount of money, prices fluctuated wildly due to speculation and erratic behavior from the central group. I think if the central group was smart, they made a killing by making trades prior to their own public announcements.

Where did the money go?  In theory, people can get refunds.  In practice, people had to pay “gas” fees to the crypto exchanges, which may be high enough to wipe out the median donation.  So effectively, that money went to line the pockets of crypto corps, who in exchange provided the valuable service of *checks notes* destroying the environment.  Amazing.

Also, having tried to implement democratic processes for an informal organization… it’s really not enough just to determine who gets how many votes.  You also have to figure out when a vote gets called, what the voting choices are, how the vote is carried out, when the vote is closed, who carries out the final decision, who decides any of the above, who monitors whether the procedure was followed correctly, and so on.  I can’t imagine how this is even possible in a trust-free decentralized organization.

What happened to the nonbelief channel at Patheos | Religion News Service – (Also see Pharyngula comments on the subject.)  Patheos is a blogging network that has hosted a bunch of atheist blogs, most notably Friendly Atheist and Daylight Atheism.  But more broadly, Patheos was a network for all sorts of religious views, including some of the most repulsive ones, and it was always kind of an awkward fit.  I mean, is it really a sustainable business model to host a bunch of atheist blogs and serve them ads for Pureflix?  Now Patheos decided that its bloggers would not be allowed to say negative things about religions anymore.  This is a dealbreaker for many of the nonreligious bloggers, who have decamped for another network.

I haven’t read any Patheos blogs in many years and my attitude towards the atheist movement these days is “burn it all down……….. present company excepted of course”.  But I have distant sympathy with atheist Patheos bloggers.  Even putting aside any particulars about the atheist blogosphere, just thinking about it abstractly… if you have a minority viewpoint, they probably have something critical to say about majority viewpoint, whereas the people with the majority viewpoint probably just don’t care.  So an editorial policy against criticism is likely to discriminate against minority viewpoints, and not just the nonreligious viewpoints.  Of course, I figure that’s exactly the point of the policy.

4 Inclusive Statements That Aren’t ‘Women and Non-Binary People I Consider Women’ | Reductress – A satirical article.  Designations like “women and nonbinary people” have good intentions but almost every nonbinary or trans person I’ve ever heard from has expressed deep reservations about what it actually signifies.  I think the fundamental problem is that if you want a space that reliably supports nonbinary and trans people, it cannot at present be so broad as to be a general women’s space.

Sci-Hub: is it Unethical to “Pirate” Science? | Skepchick (video + transcript) – Science journals like Elsevier block free access to research and extort universities for money, and the whole scientific community knows it.  No they are not providing a valuable service in return, they’re just sitting on their monopoly power.  The scientific publishing industry should be regulated to prevent this.  That’s why I was applauding when University of California refused an Elsevier subscription in 2019.

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