Link Roundup: May 2021

Pie That’ll Kill Ya: The Problem with Fandom Statistics | Franzeska Dickson (video, 5 min) – On the subject of fandoms, a lot of our intuition is informed by the AO3 community, which features a great deal of slash, and m/m slash in particular.  Franzeska argues that this is not representative of fanfiction in general.  AO3’s detailed tagging system for pairings tends to draw more people who are interested in m/m slash, go figure.

An “Ex-Detransitioner” Disavows the Anti-Trans Movement She Helped Spark | Slate – This article highlights stories from a few people who detransitioned but also reject the way that detransition narratives are used to attack trans people.  Detransitioners are a fairly small group with very complicated and personal journeys, and their stories get amplified and simplified in the name of attacking trans people.  I don’t want to amplify these narratives beyond reason, but I think it’s important to establish a route by which people can detransition without being transphobic–in the same way that we’ve established that individuals can stop identifying as bisexual without having to believe that everyone‘s bisexuality is just a phase.

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Link Roundup: April 2021

How Facebook got addicted to spreading misinformation | MIT Technology Review – Since Cambridge Analytica, Facebook has made efforts to make their algorithms more responsible.  However, it seems they ended up focusing on AI bias, which is surely a worthy problem, but distinct from the problem of Facebook feeding polarization and extremism.  The problem is that fighting polarization and extremism is anti-engagement and anti-growth, and simply not in Facebook’s interests.

There’s also an interesting bit discussing different kinds of fairness, such as equality in moderation standards, vs equality in moderation outcomes (the latter favoring conservative viewpoints more).  That just puts in mind a twisted version of one of those equality vs equity memes (which TBH I do not care for).

Transsexual, Transgender, Trans… and that damn asterisk | Pervert Justice – Last month, I had some tangential discussion of “trans*”, which had briefly become popular in the early 2010s, and suffered backlash after a few years.   Crip Dyke explains how its history goes much further back to the 1990s.  And indeed, the term did make more sense at the time, when transsexual and transgender were more distinct categories, and more care was needed to navigate trans* politics.

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Link Roundup: March 2021

The monthly link roundup is just a few links this time.  But first, a plug to the journal club that I organize monthly.  Last month, we read an article about incels and asexuality, and I thought some readers might enjoy that.

What it was like to be a doctor during the AIDS crisis | Psychology Today – Alan interviews a doctor.  I’m way too young to remember the AIDS pandemic (ongoing though it is), but its impact on gay culture is immense, so I value these primary historical accounts.

Tracing the Roots of Pop Culture Transphobia | Lindsay Ellis (video, 59 min) – Isn’t it odd how transphobes fixate on this narrative of trans women assaulting women in bathrooms?  I mean, it’s not impossible, but it’s a rather unrepresentative view of oh wait they got it from the movies, didn’t they?  I remember when vomit reactions to trans women was a common trope.  And when I remember this, I think, fiction is such bullshit, we should stop making fiction forever.

Old Scott Alexander email links him to the alt-right | r/sneerclub – It’s drama that you’d only care about if you’re familiar with the Rationalist community.  There was a hullabaloo in the Rationalist community because the NYT published a mediocre article on Scott Alexander.  Then someone leaked a private e-mail from Scott Alexander in 2014 where he expresses his belief in HBD (what we’d call race science), among other ridiculous things.  I thought we already knew Scott was into race science?  My favorite part was where he says he can’t dismiss things that sound absurd, because he believes in cryonics!

BTW some FTB oldtimers may recognize the recipient & leaker of the e-mail under a different …uncredible… name.

Link Roundup: February 2021

This month’s link roundup includes a wide range of articles, from masculinity, to blogging, to commentary on Gamestop.

What Hades Can Teach Us About Ancient Greek Masculinity | Wired – Recommended even if you’re unfamiliar with the game Hades.  And if you’d like to read even more about ancient greek masculinity, I recommend an article by cartomancer a while back.  Among other things, I was amused to learn that classical observers disagreed on whether Achilles was the erastes or eromenos in his relationship with Patroclus.  It’s like the ancient version of an argument over which character is the top and which is the bottom.

My Life as a Failed Pundit | Tris Mamone – I enjoyed this first-person account of the stress that comes from trying to have an opinion about everything.  I don’t consider myself a pundit, I’m an analytical blogger.  There’s some superficial similarity, but I don’t feel the need to comment on any of the hot topics of the day, because nobody is paying me to do so.

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Link Roundup: January 2021

I prefer not to blog about current events, but if you’re interested in that sort of thing on FTB, Crip Dyke is on it!  She has some live-blog style thoughts here and here, thoughts on race, the 25th amendment, self-pardoning, and impeachment.

Dropping The Bomb: Hiroshima and Nagasaki | Shaun (video, 2:20 hours) – So, obviously the length of this video is a huge barrier.  Personally I treated it like a podcast while doing a jigsaw.  Basically, Shaun seeks to answer why the nuclear bomb was dropped, especially focusing on the political motivations and diplomatic failures.  It’s a black comedy of errors, with Japan being desperate to save the emperor, and the US not really caring about the emperor, but wanting unconditional surrender for political optics.  Horrifying to think that nuclear war occurred not by some freak accident, but because people in power just don’t care.

Who “Deserves” COVID-19 Vaccine Priority? / Don’t Worry about COVID-19 Vaccine Frauds | Skepchick (~10 min videos or text) | Rebecca Watson discusses issues related to vaccine prioritization, and makes the case that it’s not about getting vaccines to the most deserving people first, or punishing cheaters, it’s about efficient allocation to end the pandemic sooner.  We are currently thinking of getting a vaccine as a selfish action that protects yourself at the cost of others who could have gotten the vaccine instead.  But fundamentally, vaccines help everyone, and will soon be recognized as a civic duty.  For example, people criticize Republican politicians for rushing to get vaccines early, but I want them to get vaccines for the same reason I want them to wear masks! I’m not afraid of people desperate to get vaccines, I’m afraid of the anti-vaxxers.

Link Roundup: December 2020

For this month’s link roundup… I got two videos.  Did I even read anything this month?  Well, I also published a couple articles over on the other blog, one about my work on the Ace Community Survey, and some journal club discussion notes on asexuality and BDSM.

That Time Geocentrists Tricked a Bunch of Physicists | Folding Ideas (video, 45 min) – Dan talks about an old documentary promoting geocentrism.  This video has me imagining an alternate timeline where the skeptical movement welcomed the humanities, and in addition to a bunch of hard science geeks poking at inaccuracies, we had cinematography geeks breaking down misleading editing techniques.  What could have been.

Queering Animal Crossing | A Helpful Guide to Queer Readings | Transparency (video, 29 min) – It’s a basic introduction to queer readings.  I wrote a reaction to this on social media, partially disagreeing with it.  I think I’ll adapt it into a blog post of sorts.  For now, you’re welcome to watch it and form your own opinion.

Link Roundup: November 2020

As usual, I bring you a collection of articles from the past month that I found particularly interesting.

Effective Altruism is logical, but too unnatural to catch on | Psyche – Alan Jern discusses why Effective Altruism is psychologically and morally counterintuitive.  This is very different from my own discussion of Effective Altruism, where I am most critical of the realities of the community and its priorities.  While Effective Altruism makes counterintuitive decisions in trolley problems, I don’t really consider that a problem with Effective Altruism, rather our flawed moral intuition is the problem, and Effective Altruism addresses that problem by offering community support and discussion.  In any case, I feel like it’s rarely a choice between altruism and family; the majority of one’s resources are usually spent on oneself, so altruism tends to come at one’s own expense first.

Inside Foxconn’s empty buildings, empty factories, and empty promises | The Verge – A bit late for this story, but this was just engrossing.  In 2017, republicans gave huge subsidies to bring a Taiwanese manufacturer into Wisconsin, and it was a huge scam and corporate nightmare.  As recently as last month, Trump was still claiming that Foxconn would keep its promises.

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