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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Link Roundup: September 2018

Let me start this link roundup with a couple of plugs.  First, I was interviewed by Asexual Artists, an awesome website that has lots of interviews of ace artists.  Second, in case you missed it, I published a two-part article talking about the history of asexuality in early radical feminism.

In Soviet Union, Optimization Problem Solves You – This is an old essay explaining how we might create a planned economy using math, and all the reasons why it would be so difficult.  This post was brought to my attention by Larry, who has a reply.  Larry says that to the extent this problem is intractable for socialism, it is also intractable for capitalism.  The difference between the two isn’t necessarily how the economy is computed, it’s the goal that they’re trying to achieve.

It seems like the best way to approach the problem is to break the economy down into more manageable pieces–each of which could be centrally planned–and have just a few inputs/outputs being passed between the different pieces.  This is basically what capitalism does, with individual firms being centrally planned, and inputs/outputs being passed between firms in the form of prices.  But in principle there could be other solutions, perhaps solutions that are computationally similar, but different in execution.  For example, Russian economists came up with the idea of “shadow prices” which help calculate resource allocation, but which don’t involve money actually being passed around–I have no idea if this particular idea works, but it’s a thought.

I think of myself as a socialist who lacks imagination, so I mostly complain about the current system while advocating for a familiar market-based economy with lots of redistribution.  YMMV on whether that counts as socialism.

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Asexuality on Breitbart

I’m going to make this short, because it’s Breitbart, there’s hardly any point.  I’m only talking about it because a friend was quoted in it.

Recently, Breitbart posted an article titled “Asexual” is a Hot New Sexual Identity In the San Francisco Bay Area.  Rather than doing their own journalism, they basically copy content from Mercury News, and add insinuations that asexuality is a ridiculous trend that is confined only to recent times, and to the San Francisco Bay Area.

They also spoke to an “expert” from Israel, the author of The Truth: A Pathway to the Subconscious.  She says:

My research shows that every person is divided into five different levels of being; the mental body, the feelings body, the emotional body, the spiritual body, and the sexual body. […] The people who define themselves as asexual, most of them are activated from a conditioning that says ‘sexuality equals delete’.

At first it looked like Breitbart quoted an “expert” to invalidate asexuality, but on second glance I believe they were trying to find someone ridiculous to “support” asexuality, in order to make asexuality look ridiculous.  But nobody in the ace community would take this woman seriously, and we can all see that it was Breitbart who thought she was worth talking to.

Breitbart also wrote about asexuality last year.  What?  I don’t follow Breitbart, I get Google alerts, okay?

Link Roundup: August 2018

In Bob We Trust – On “Nannette” and the state of comedy (video) – Hannah Gadsby has a comedy special available on Netflix, which I saw recommended several times by different people.  But this video is the one that finally persuaded me to watch it, because Bob described it as an anti-comedy.  Well, I hate stand-up comedy, and I like deconstruction, so if there was ever a comedy special that I’d want to watch, this sounded like the one.

I thought it was good, but calling it an anti-comedy might be a bit of an exaggeration.  I thought there were plenty of jokes and laughs.  Perhaps someone who actually likes stand-up comedy might feel the number of laughs per minute is a bit low, but I just can’t see it that way myself.

On Laziness – Ozy talks about the concept of laziness, and why it’s a terrible idea.  When people lack motivation, there must be a reason for that, and calling it laziness is a way of halting any inquiry into the causes, and unhelpfully turning it into a moral issue.  Nonetheless, laziness is still a compelling concept that I probably use with some frequency myself.  I think some parallels could be drawn with the way that “stupid” is used as an insult.  We know that there’s nothing morally wrong with having less cognitive ability, and yet “stupid” is still a compelling insult that people have difficulty avoiding even when they understand it’s wrong.

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