Link Roundup: October 2017

Something Something Soup Something – It’s a browser-based game about classifying things as soup or not soup.  A fun philosophical exercise for the whole family!  It shows that when people are asked to define soup, they use a slightly different definition from the one they use to classify soup.  Also, soup is a metaphor for video games.

Everything You Need to Know about Gun Rights (also see part 2 and part 3 tba) – Crip Dyke explains the history of the 2nd amendment, and how it wasn’t intended to guarantee individuals’ rights to guns.  This is all news to me, I don’t know anything about constitutional history.

Hillary Clinton almost ran for president on a universal basic income – In her memoir, Clinton says they seriously considered campaigning for universal basic income, but decided not to when they failed to come up with a realistic policy proposal.  I have mixed feelings about this.  Should she have included it in her campaign anyway?  And why didn’t Bernie campaign on UBI, since apparently, a lack of realistic policy doesn’t otherwise stop him?

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Link roundup: September 2017

I used to call this monthly feature a “linkspam”, but after some consideration I am now calling it a link roundup.  But whatever, it’s the same thing.

How an Ad Campaign Made Lesbians Fall in Love with Subaru – This is a very interesting article discussing one of the first ever queer-targeted ad campaigns.  What surprised me the most is that Subaru used subtle gay-coding that straight audiences usually missed, but this was not because they wanted to hide their intentions.  Subaru was open about it, and it was widely discussed in major newspapers.  Rather, they used coded messages because market research said that lesbian audiences liked it better that way.  Of course, I’m not sure that market research would extend to today.

Is there a “Gay Agenda” in Hip Hop? (video) – Music critic Anthony Fantano answers a question from a fan. I did not know this was a serious question that people asked. Apparently some of the barriers in hip hop have been breaking down, allowing more space for openly gay and bisexual rappers. This seems significant, especially given that hip-hop/R&B is the most consumed genre of music in the US.  Of course, it doesn’t constitute a “gay agenda” in hip hop.

BTW, I don’t really listen to hip hop, but if any of you do, here’s an example song, enjoy.  (content note: video depicts blood, lyrics talk about suicide and other violence.)

Damsels in Distress vs Distressed Dudes in Jin Yong stories (also see part 2) – Sara discusses the analogue of the distressed damsel trope in the Chinese genre of Wuxia.  It seems that when male characters rescue damsels in distress, the male characters are usually regarded with suspicion.  When female characters rescue distressed dudes, the female characters tend to get fridged afterwards in order to provide motivation for the male characters.  It’s still kind of sexist but it’s a different variety of sexism from western fiction.

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Linkspam: August 10th, 2017

Sexual Harassment Is Pervasive and Under-Reported in Gay Bars – I found this link via a Facebook thread, where a bunch of gay/bi men were arguing that it was ridiculous that anyone would ever complain about sexual assault.  They ask, if you don’t want people to grab your ass/dick unasked, why would you even go to a gay bar or club?  This is absolutely infuriating.  This is the sort of thing that makes me think RAINN et al. are completely underestimating rates of sexual violence.

On the Corner: Intersectionality and the Existence of Privilege – Crip Dyke responded to my article criticizing the “privilege” framework.  She disagrees with my conclusion about “privilege” (which is fine!) but thinks that there’s something to be said about the limitations of “intersectionality”.  My response is in her comment section.  I should also link to this one: Every Other Trans Person is Wrong, which is disagreeing with me re: gender and sex language.

University of Oxford – Why am I linking to a random Facebook post by the University of Oxford?  Notice all the comments about the Philippines!  Somebody from the University of Oxford published a study looking at government funded trolls.  Among other things, they found that President Duterte of the Philippines spent $200,000 on trolls.  A bunch of people went to the University of Oxford’s page to attack this study, and it’s hilariously unconvincing.

A reminder to all the Americans out there: Duterte is not like Trump.  Duterte has much higher approval ratings, and has already put the Southern Philippines under martial law.  The martial law was supposed to be 60 days long, but was recently extended to the end of the year–in conflict with the Philippine constitution.

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Linkspam: July 11th, 2017

It’s time for my monthly linkspam, just a collection of articles I found interesting from the past month.

In the Shadow of the Holodeck – A couple of months ago, my linkspam featured an article by Ian Bogost called “Video games are better without stories“.  This article here reinterprets Bogost as saying “most of even the successful cases of storytelling in video games are, formally speaking, extremely unambitious.”  That is, successful video game stories are still very traditional in structure, rather than offering infinite branching possibilities.  It turns out that people like traditional story structures.  IMHO the problem with branching story structures is that it’s difficult to traverse them in a Hamiltonian path, so you either miss some content or you replay some content.  This reminds me of Scott McCloud’s predictions about infinite canvas webcomics.  Such webcomics exist but it turns out that they’re kind of clunky to actually navigate.

I did end up playing What Remains of Edith Finch, the game that inspired Bogost’s article.  Contrary to what people were saying, this game was extremely literary.  It was a story about stories about death.  But yeah, the structure was almost entirely linear, and it could very well have been told in book form.

Games telling stories? – Here’s another article about whether games tell stories.  It seems to be targeted at people taking games studies 101.  I recommend it to anyone who wants to think about the question more systematically.

An intersex perspective on the trans, intersex, and TERF communities – This is an excellent article that gets into some of the differences in how trans and intersex communities talk about things, and how that can create friction.  Found via Shiv.

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Critiques of call-out culture: a linkspam

This is a repost of an linkspam I created in 2015.  So naturally, all the links come from 2015 or earlier.  I’ve removed a few broken links, and added some contextualizing commentary at the bottom.

One of the most common complaints by social justice activists about social justice activism is that there’s a lot of toxicity. Whenever an activist makes a misstep, other activists will “call out” that person, sometimes directing a disproportionate amount of anger and abuse at them. This pattern is often (but not always) referred to as “call-out culture”.

For a while, I’ve been collecting a lot of articles and blog posts which critique call-out culture from an internal view point. My main motivation is that I would like to write about the topic myself, and I’d like my ideas to be responsive to what has already been said.

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Linkspam: June 10th, 2017

Japan’s rising right-wing nationalism – I recently discovered Vox’s youtube channel, which was especially informative on foreign policy and politics. (Although, I know so little about foreign politics that they don’t have to be that good to teach me something new.) This video is about right-wing nationalists in Japan, whom I immediately hate. They’re the equivalent of neo-nazis, and the rising sun flags are like confederate flags.

On a somewhat related note, why aren’t more people talking about Mindanao (southern Philippines)?  The military clashed with a terrorist group in the city of Marawi, and president Duterte declared martial law in all of Mindanao.  This is very troubling for a number of reasons.

Confusing Intelligence with Goodness – Sara talks about the tendency in American culture to strongly associate intelligence with goodness, and observes that this is not true in Chinese literature.

There have been some attempts in social justice spaces to stop using the word “stupid” because it’s ableist.  But the more I think about it, the more I think this is the wrong approach.  Tabooing a bunch of common words is difficult, and doesn’t address the root problem.  It’s the whole cultural association between cognitive ability and goodness.  BTW, yes I am aware that “stupid” is used in the title of a link in this linkspam, and no I will not comment on that further.

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Linkspam: May 12th, 2017

This is my monthly linkspam, which includes some articles I found interesting, and some brief commentary.

Video games are better without stories – Ian Bogost argues that video games just aren’t as good at storytelling as movies or literature.  Currently the best stories seem to be told through environmental storytelling, which falls quite short of the interactive storytelling often envisioned.  This is a point I’m sympathetic to, having played several games that were widely praised for their story, and being frankly disappointed at how poorly they compare to even mediocre literature.

As far as my personal calculations go, it’s not so much a question of what the medium of video games is capable of. To me, the question is, “Is it economically feasible for the medium to produce good stories that go beyond mainstream tastes?”  For me, movies fail this test because either they need to sell to a broad audience (which generally doesn’t include me), or they need to be poorly produced.  Video games are also in a bad position, but they may get better as development costs go down.

I found this link via Critical Distance, which paired Ian Bogost’s article with several critiques.  To be honest, I was really put off by that Gamasutra article, which started out by complaining that this whole debate had been dismissed by academics since 2005, and then immediately followed this with the complaint that Ian Bogost was being elitist.  Games critics, why are you bad?  Patrick Klepek makes good points though.

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