Link Roundup: June 2019

Experiencing neither romance nor spirituality – A good comparison between not experiencing romance and not experiencing spirituality.  I have often thought about this comparison myself.  When I considered myself a new atheist, I was constantly annoyed by how much atheists talk about being spiritual.  It’s fine to be spiritual, but it so overemphasized and exaggerated that it felt like a respectability politics tactic, one that failed to acknowledge or validate people who aren’t spiritual.  And it basically blocked any potential conversation about what it’s like to not experience spirituality, in a world that thinks you must.  Being asexual and aromantic spectrum has made me unapologetic about being nonspiritual.

Why books don’t work – The article argues that we don’t absorb information from nonfiction books very well, discusses why, and possible workarounds.  Nonfiction books (and lectures too) are based on a “transmissionism” model of learning: an idea is described, and you learn the idea.  But a better way to learn an idea is by actively engaging with it.  I am wondering how to apply these ideas to improve my own blogging.  Certainly when I blog about an idea, I learn a lot about it because I need to engage with it, but how do I encourage readers to also learn?

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Link Roundup: May 2019

Plugs

Skepchick is back! – That is, to say, they’ve collected a lot of their former writers, and relaunched the site.  (Although, even when Skepchick was “inactive”, Rebecca Watson was still there with some good vlogging.)

Terrible Graphs of Orientation – I collected a bunch of graphs, primarily made by ace people.  And I tried to “outdo” the graphs by drawing hypercubes labeled with comic sans.

“No romo”: An overanalysis – I wrote in great depth about “no romo”, which is an occasional meme among aromantic people.  Mostly I end up talking about the history of “no homo”, and all the different ways it has been used.

A commenter pointed out that you can hear the beating frequency between two notes, even if each note is played in a separate ear.  If you have headphones/earbuds, you can hear it for yourself.  This is fascinating, because there is no real beating frequency in the air, so the beating frequency you perceive is somehow created in your brain.

Articles

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Link Roundup: April 2019

First, some local news.  FTB got rid of ads!  At some point we’re going to start asking for crowdfunding to cover server costs.

This month, I published several articles on The Asexual Agenda.  Most of it’s not legible to general audiences, but I would at least plug Ace Exclusionists and Gender.  Ace exclusionists are an anti-ace Tumblr faction, our very own version of TERFs.

Useless Vanity.  Or Not. – Crip Dyke shares a personal narrative of how she became one of the early activists of transfeminism in the 90s, starting out in anti-domestic-violence activism.  We are honored to have Crip Dyke here with us.

Queer Tropes in Video Games (video) – It’s a three part series by Feminist Frequency!  I think this follows the usual pattern of Feminist Frequency videos, of explaining points that are very well established, but are nonetheless important to explain because a lot of viewers aren’t necessarily familiar with the issue.

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Link Roundup: March 2019

First, a plug: Carnival of Aros.  For readers interested in loads of aromantic-spectrum discussion.

h/H i s t o r y – Vesper explains why they’ve never been a fan of history.  Basically, history is always about the dominant group.  And even, say, Black history or LGBT history tend to focus on certain groups therein, and it can be hard to find a history of people at the intersections.  I really appreciate this article.

The Emoji Movie, Adorno and the Culture Industry (video) – Cuck Philosophy talks about Adorno’s criticism of the kind of media that gets incentivized by capitalism.  This is relevant to my interests, but he gives waaay more credit to Adorno than I would.  Any critique of cultural production needs to grapple with the fact that successful media is successful because it is, after all, popular.  That is to say, it provides a lot of people with value.  I think any reasonable economic system will produce media that tries to provide people with value; any reasonable economic system damn well should.  I think a better system could produce more niche media of little value to most people, but that’s not the same as saying it would not produce popular media.

When someone like Adorno criticizes popular culture, the danger is that he is simply criticizing “low” culture, from his own ivory tower.  Although I know little about Adorno, the mockery he receives for his jazz-hating seems well-deserved.  The lack of class-consciousness is just embarrassing coming from a Marxist theorist.

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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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