Link Roundup: February 2019

This month, I helped launch a blogging carnival about the aromantic spectrum–perhaps not of interest if you’re not into aro/ace community stuff.  But I think it’s rather momentous how communities centered on aromanticism rather than asexuality are now getting recognized by activist organizations.

The story so far of “New” Atheism from Kerala – I was recently talking postmortems of the western atheist movement, but here is a fascinating parallel history of the atheist movement in Kerala, India.  Not only did they have a feminist/anti-feminist split, but they also had a split regarding caste–with one side trying to fight the caste system, and the other side arguing that atheists should not talk about caste at all.

Why blackface persists in Asia and what Western media gets wrong – An old article–I was searching for articles about blackface in Asia, and this one was rather thoughtful.  It makes good points about how western media criticism is often unhelpful, because it just plays into the Chinese government’s narratives about how westerners are trying to sow discord.  On the other hand, it embarrassed the Chinese government and they’ll try to avoid it in the future, so wasn’t that mission accomplished?

Where I disagree with the article, is when it describes blackface in Asia as arising from tone-deafness rather than malice–this is not a way of dismissing criticism, but a way of arguing that blackface in China is different from blackface in western culture.  That… does not sound different.  I suspect that most instances of blackface in the US also arise from tone-deafness rather than malice; that’s what racism looks like.

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Link roundup: January 2019

My Atheist (etc) Reaction to “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret?” – This is a book by Judy Blume, and published in 1970.  Although I had not heard of the book, this review was interesting to me, as a window into secular family life in the past and present.  It reminds me of my husband’s story–his family didn’t go to church, which led the neighbor’s kid to tell him he was going to hell.  Hearing my husband’s concerns, his parents ended up joining the UU church.  He later left the church, although his parents are still active.

Did the Sokal affair “destroy postmodernism”? (video) – This youtuber, Cuck Philosophy, says much the same stuff that I say about Sokal–that he was rigorous and humble in his conclusions, but overshadowed by his hoax and public perception thereof.  If one of the biggest failings of “postmodernism” (insofar as it is an intelligible category) is that it got coopted by rightwingers to deny reality, we have to admit that anti-postmodernism attitudes have been coopted for the same purpose.  On a related note, I was very disappointed to hear that Sokal is among Boghossian’s defenders.

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A music post for 2018

So, I’m disappearing for the rest of winter break.  I leave you with my annual music post, where I share a few bits of music that I enjoyed in the past year.  See you in 2019.

1. The Mercury Tree & Cryptic Ruse – The Cold Flame Burns

You know how earlier I was talking about microtonal (or xenharmonic) music? Well here it is, the best xenharmonic rock.  In general, I think both Mercury Tree and Cryptic Ruse are the best current xenharmonic artists.

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Link Roundup: December

Poisson has blessed me with many links this month.  I’ll start with a few plugs and followups.


The Ace Community Survey Team (which I co-lead) released our big report on the 2016 Ace Community Survey, alongside a shorter report on the 2015 survey.  If you’re interested in data, or want to know about the kind of diversity we talk about in ace communities, please take a look!

I wrote a summary of a scholarly article on asexuality and race.  Yep, I’m reading about critical race theory now.


After I wrote about the Tumblr ban, there were several other takes in my circle.  Brute Reason talked about how awful this is for sex-positive communities.  And Marcus Ranum put it in context, as an example of a cloud service exercising monopoly power.

I was saying over on Tumblr, that the widely mocked “female presenting nipples” is strangely appropriate.  There’s no way to tell someone’s “real” gender, you don’t know how people identify, and you’d like the policy to depend on whether the person wants to appear female or not.  On the other hand, “female presenting” is ambiguous whether it refers to intended appearance, or simply appearance (and the latter is likely more accurate to their real policy).  Anyway, they clearly put some thought into it, and the problem is that it’s attached to a discriminatory policy.

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Classifying sexual violence

Readers may recall earlier this year, when I wrote a practical guide to sexual violence terminology.

Now I’ve written another article, as part of the Ace Community Survey Team, explaining how sexual violence is classified by the CDC.  Go take a look.

Although the CDC’s definitions of sexual violence are publicly available in the NISVS report, few lay people would sift through over a hundred pages in order to find them. The lack of easily accessible information concerns us, because it deprives some victims of tools they need to understand their own experiences. The goal of this article is to explain the CDC categories and their use in the 2018 Asexual Community Survey.

Link Roundup: November 2018

Honestly I wasn’t paying that much attention this month, so there aren’t too many links.

The 2018 Asexual Community Survey was released.  If you can spare 20 minutes or so, please take the survey!

Fellow FTBlogger Great American Satan needs some money, and is taking art commissions!

Asexuality in Japan: An interview (video) – Vesper has a great interview with a couple asexuality activists in Japan.  Interesting tidbit: what we call “asexual” in the English community is usually divided into two groups in Japanese, with “asexual” referring to aromantic asexuals, and “nonsexual” referring to romantic asexuals.  If that interests you, watch the interview to learn more.

Catfishing and Conspiracy in Groves – This is a human interest story about a very young openly gay councilmember in a small town in Texas.  Someone got their hands on some nude photos that he exchanged consensually on Grindr, and released them to the media.  Other councilmembers filed a petition to get him recalled.  The town comes off looking rather bad.  And the pastor who insists that it’s not about homophobia gives the most unbelievable excuse.  I looked up the outcome later; he was recalled.

Pronouns (video) – Contrapoints offers analytic arguments for why calling a trans woman a “he” is just false, and not merely rude.  If I were to address the topic, I would probably not make much in the way of analytic arguments, I would just say I’m not having any of it.  Well, I’m glad we have Natalie around.

Link Roundup: October 2018

On the “Sokal Squared” hoax by Boghossian, Lindsay, and Pluckrose – Three authors submitted 20 hoax papers 48 times to “grievance studies” journals, and 7 of them were accepted.  I am so unimpressed, for reasons discussed in many locations.  I’m choosing to highlight this particular take, because it shows the dishonesty of Boghossian et al., who have made very misleading statements about the content of the papers, which papers were accepted or rejected, and about how friendly the peer reviewers were.  Usually peer reviewers will be polite and say a few positive things, even as they demolish and reject a paper; they’re supposed to.  I’m not on board with this crusade to make peer reviewers more hostile.

Ozy also has a post detailing several of the papers that were accepted.

Note that I myself have been critical of papers in gender studies (which I occasionally read in my role as an ace activist).  The “Sokal Squared” hoax does not come anywhere close to identifying any of the problems I would identify, it just muddies the waters.

YouTube: Manufacturing Authenticity (for fun and profit!) (video) – Lindsay Ellis talks about the desire for authenticity in content creators, and how this creates emotional labor for them, similar to how workers at Disneyland are required to maintain a friendly affect as part of their job.

Although there’s an obvious analogy to be made between blogging and vlogging, I feel like blogging really isn’t the same because one’s personality doesn’t come across quite so clearly, and often it isn’t expected to.  And the giants among blogs tend to serve as news sources, not as expressions of personality.  But perhaps there are some big shot bloggers who feel otherwise.

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