Link Roundup: November 2022

I’ve been busy the past month!  The Ace Community Survey released its annual survey, and a 140 page report on an earlier survey.  I also wrote a long blog post about the intersection of asexuality and being a nerd, in which I complain about a certain fictional asexual physicist on a show I have never watched.

Google’s Caste-Bias Problem | The New Yorker – An interview with a former Google employee, who tried to organize a DEI event about caste discrimination.  Google got complaints from other employees about the event, and it got “postponed”, which seems to really mean it was cancelled.  Instead, the organizer of the event was given a warning, and then she resigned.  Apparently it’s a common stance among conservative (?) Hindus that caste discrimination just doesn’t exist and that to even speak of caste discrimination is anti-Hindu discrimination.  As a social justice activist, I learn to be humble about axes of marginalization that I am unfamiliar with–but I’m confidently unsympathetic with that point of view.  For members of a majority group to deny that the minority group experiences discrimination, that’s an all too common pattern, and presumably cross-cultural.

Why Queer TV is Getting Worse | verilybitchie (video, 45 min) – Verity Ritchie talks about “gaystreaming”, content that is gay but otherwise does everything it can to appeal to mainstream tastes.  There’s discussion of Heartstopper, contrasted with the work of Desiree Akhivan, topped with a discussion of the economics of streaming services like Netflix.  I love it.

As I pointed out in my review of Heartstopper, its gentle low-stakes story is common in the queer webcomic genre it comes from–but I don’t think that’s what makes it particularly amenable to being mainstreamed.  What makes it mainstreamable is that its author is clearly passionate about educating people about queer issues: modeling good behavior, denying stereotypes, and explaining relevant issues.  This is valuable to straight people who clearly need that education, and also for queer people, for whom learning about being queer is an important part of personal development.  But it also confines the webcomic to issues that are simple enough to be widely teachable, and the story may not reflect the messy realities of queer lives.  Following ace admiral I call this “checklist representation“, which is primarily concerned with checking off all the things required for a “good” representation.

As A Queer Asian Woman, Everything Everywhere All At Once Hits Different | Refinery29 – I know it’s been out for a while, but I finally saw Everything Everywhere All at Once, and I really liked it.  It’s a fun movie that doesn’t just represent Asian Americans on screen, but also captures the vibes.  It’s like if The Matrix, instead of being concerned with white collar angst, were concerned with the figure of the Asian mom. I don’t intend to write any commentary on it, so I searched around and found this short piece, which does not have any significant spoilers.

Value | Unlearning Economics (video, 1:07 hours) – An academic economist talks about theories of value, especially the labor theory of value, explaining reasons to be cautiously skeptical.

While I was aware of the labor theory of value, I have never been an expert, so I was under the impression that it was a primarily normative theory–and I kind of think it works better that way.  The point is that economic behavior, even when it follows the very simplest model of supply and demand, is not “fair”.  I think it is useful to have theories of what would be fair, even if these theories of fairness generate no predictions.  I think the labor theory of value takes a good shot–although I’m baffled by the strict separation between capital and labor.  On the surface, a lot of capital (buildings, machines, software) is the product of labor.

Valve’s Gambling Problem | People Make Games (video, 36 min) – An investigation into gambling enabled by video games.  It’s not just about lootboxes, but also widespread gambling using in-game cosmetics as betting chips, often practiced by teens who don’t know any better.


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