Speaker for the Diodes

Sep. 17th, 2014

05:25 am - QotD

"[T]there is a big difference between a 'real' name and a 'legal' name. Our real name (or names) is our identity, our legal name is just something we use to interact with the state. Certainly for many, they are the same, but for many others they are hugely different. A name that may not be a legal name certainly need not be 'fake'!." -- Marla Louise, 2014-09-15

[Yes, for anyone who asn't heard in the last few days, nymwars started up again, this time with Facebook making Google's painful mistake. I guess it's time to repeat this and this again.]

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Sep. 16th, 2014

05:25 am - QotD

"Rothblatt created this awesome/terrifying robot, and all people want to talk about is her gender?" -- Parker Marie Molloy, "CEO Martine Rothblatt is Transgender, and That's the Least Interesting Thing About Her", 2014-09-11 (quoted text appears on second page)

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Sep. 15th, 2014

05:25 am - QotD

"The reason the political spectrum is called a 'spectrum' is that it extends off in both directions, like some kind of, I dunno, spectrum. On this spectrum, Che Guevara is much farther away from Barack Obama than Obama is from George W. Bush." -- Jonathan Chait, 2014-09-03 [thanks to Paul Anderson for quoting this earlier]

context, for those who want it but won't just click through to the source )

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Sep. 14th, 2014

12:15 pm - #Qfaith Chat This Evening - Faith and Gender Roles

It's Sunday, so our weekly queerness-and-faith chat is happening this evening (this afternoon for folks on the West Coast) over on Twitter. This is a gathering of religious TLGBQ people (all faiths invited), to discuss various topics. This week we're going to start out by talking about faith and gender roles.

To listen in, point your web browser at Twitter and search for the #qfaith hashtag. To join the conversation, you'll need a Twitter account, and just include "#qfaith" in each of your tweets that's meant to go to the whole group.

We start at 6:00 PM Eastern Time - 3:00 PM Pacific Time - 11:00 PM British Summer Time, and usually go on for an hour to an hour and a half, occasionally a little longer.

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05:25 am - QotD

"On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
 Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
 What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
 As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
 Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
 In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
 'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
 O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"

  -- second verse of "Defence of Fort M'Henry" (better known as "The Star Spangled Banner") by Francis Scott Key (b. 1779-08-01, d. 1843-01-11) He started writing it 1814-09-14 and finished it shortly thereafter. First published 1814-09-17.

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Sep. 13th, 2014

05:25 am - QotD

From David Grandinetti (@dbgrandi) 2014-09-06:

OH: "Do programmers have any specific superstitions?"
"Yeah, but we call them best practices."

[thanks to @tjathurman for retweeting this earlier]

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Sep. 12th, 2014

03:57 pm - Poverty, Magical Thinking, and Of-Course-I-Don't-Mean-You

To folks who believe that poverty and misfortune, or health and prosperity, have nothing to do with luck and everything to do with "choices": your belief that one's station or situation is entirely one's own choice is, frankly, superstitious.

(This was originally written as a response to someone else -- as public comments on a public entry. I'm not going to link to that even though it's easy to find, because the point of posting this in my own space is NOT to send a bunch of supporters to go argue on my behalf, but to present something I should be saying to a wider audience ... in a different space. And yes, I'm aware that I'm saying things that other people have said better elsewhere. I think it needs saying several more times.)

You want to believe that you're in control. Our choices do have some effect, yes ... but people lucky enough to have more resources (money, health, privilege, location, talent, whatever) will find that they have more choices, and their choices have more impact on outcomes than the choices that people with fewer resources make. You want to believe that you're safe because you're in control and making all the "right" choices to keep catastrophe away. You're whistling in the dark. You're making up "If I just do this then everything will be okay" superstitions. It's magical thinking, and all too often it leads to cutting away the very safety net that's supposed to catch you if/when the bad luck happens to you anyhow.

It's also pretty insulting. When you say that "it's not luck, just bad choices," you're implying that I chose to have a chronic illness that prevents me from doing things that I want to do and hurts a hell of a lot all the time. ...

(Oh, I know, you're going to say you didn't mean me, of course, but dammit, that is what you're saying when you say that poverty is all about choices, not luck. Turning around and saying, "Oh, but I didn't mean you," is saying "Everyone like you is [bad-thing], but I don't mean you of course, just everyone else like you." It's just like saying, "Women shouldn't vote, they're too irrational," then turning to your girlfriend and saying, "Present company excepted, of course, I didn't mean you, you're the exception." It's like saying, "Black people are so lazy," then turning to your African-American colleague and saying, "But not you, of course, I know you work hard." It's like saying, "Christians are violent, privileged whiners who think that other religions should be stamped out but complain that they're the ones being oppressed," then turning to your best friend and saying, "Except for you; you're not like the rest of them." Great, I'm the exception because you're my friend but you hold this terrible opinion of people like me. Just wonderful. Here's the thing: most of the time people who say things like that will keep saying them no matter how many Exceptions they meet. No data are ever "oh maybe I was wrong", all data contrary to what they've already decided reality has to be, are "just exceptions, not meaningful".)

... I really liked my job, I liked the work and I liked my employer; I liked earning my own money and feeling free to spend it how I wanted, including spending some of it on things I wanted just for fun, instead of feeling like I have to justify needing things badly enough to ask someone to buy them for me (or to not be "wasting" somebody's assistance on frivolities), and I liked the pride and feeling like I was "one of the people doing it right" that I got from working a regular job like our society expects and values. I also liked having the energy to go out most evenings and weekends if I wanted to, after working my job, and I liked not being in so much pain all the time (though I didn't realize what kind of blessing that was until I lost it). "Your situation or station in life is not one of luck, but one of choice," huh? What fucking choice did I make to get sick, and why would I have chosen to throw away all those things I liked so much? Saying there's no such thing as luck in front of someone who has experienced random misfortune is personally offensive. It's offensive, and it's incorrect. It's also pretty damned mean-spirited. Yes, someone who is healthy, and wealthy, and born to a supportive family with the resources to be supportive, and grew up in a place with decent schools, and is intelligent enough to make use of all those advantages ... has the option of screwing it all up. Someone without some or all of those advantages doesn't have anywhere near as many options for making things work out. And someone who loses one of those advantages (say health, for example) loses a lot of options.

I'm not "an exception", I'm an example of the problem of the universe not-being-fair.

The universe is not fair. You may want it to be -- you want to be in complete control, to believe that the Scary Things That Happen To Other People can't happen to you because you're one of the good people and don't deserve bad-stuff, but that's naïve and -- as I said above -- downright superstitious. The universe is not fair, it's random. Fairness is a human concept, so it is up to humans to be fair. And that includes taking steps to compensate for the random unfairness of the universe, not just failing to do unfair things oneself. By pretending that the universe is fair, you excuse yourself from being fair ... or even helpful. Which means You Are Not Helping ... and ultimately you are part of the problem.

(I do believe that God is fair and good, but He apparently takes a mostly-hands-off approach to day-to-day stuff and lets us choose whether to act as His tools to make fairness and compassion happen, or as Satan's tools to allow -- or cause -- suffering to increase. Frankly, I think it's Satan's work to pretend that bad things never happen to 'good' people (right-choices people) and therefore no compassion is needed, no safety net.)

Do choices matter at all? Yes, some choices do affect outcomes, and some affect the odds of an outcome. Smoking increases the likelihood of getting lung cancer, but some people who never made that choice get lung cancer too. Eating too much meat increases the risk of colon cancer, but some people who don't make that choice get colon cancer anyhow. Becoming a firefighter increases the risk of a fatal or disabling on-the-job injury, but people who try to play it safe get crippled sometimes as well. Going to school and studying hard makes it more likely that you'll get a good job later, but when there just aren't enough jobs to go around, some people who deserve them won't get them. Being a loyal, hard-working employee is supposed to get you a nice retirement nest-egg, but when your employer gets bought by a corporate raider and the pension fund gets plundered, that careful planning goes out the window. Choice is sometimes a factor, but Luck is always a factor, even when it's not the only factor. Bad things do happen to good people, to people who tried to do all the 'right' things. It's up to us, the humans, to try to make the outcomes a little less unfair, to try to help, to set up systems so that when a 'good person' falls -- whether it's you, or a friend, or someone whose lifestyle you disapprove of, or even someone you really can't see a way to classify as one of the 'good people' at all! -- there is still hope, help, maybe even second chances. As a society, we can afford to do this, to cushion the blows of outrageous fortune. And if we also cushion the fall for people who did make bad choices, I don't think that's such a bad thing that it's worth screwing over all the unlucky people just to avoid possibly also helping somebody who (*gasp*) doesn't "deserve" it.

There are a lot of 'exceptions'. So many, that they really aren't exceptional. Even if you happen to have met some folks who fit your stereotype, unless you are in the business of counseling those people or a researcher studying them, your sample is probably too damned small. (Also, how many folks who receive assistance never mention that to random strangers or even most acquaintences? Odds are, you're overlooking most of your sample that doesn't confirm your biases because you never imagine they could be in that group.) There are people who do actually study this. They have more meaningful numbers than your (or my own) haphazard impressions.

And for crying out loud, I'm not your pet exception; I'm a counterexample to your assumptions.

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05:25 am - QotD

From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2014-08-09:

Q. You once cited diverse influences like Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, David Bowie, the Incredible String Band and early Pink Floyd. That's pretty eclectic.

A. I'm trying to tap the source, not steal it. You think of the Beatles, and they were stealing from Bo Diddley and great sources. All American music basically comes from oppressed people and slaves.

-- Joziah Longo, in a New York Times interview with E. Kyle Minor. Longo leads the band The Slambovian Circus of Dreams (AKA The Grand Slambovians)


(submitted to the mailing list by Terry Labach)

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Sep. 11th, 2014

05:37 pm - Cats and Cheese

I have not yet been able to figure out whether there's a pattern to when Perring will say, "Oh, you're eating cheese? Gimme some," and when she'll say, "Ew, cheese? Why would you eat that?"

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05:25 am - QotD

"Bullies are unable to properly judge threats – they see everyone and everything as a threat. Bullies live in fear and they deal in hate." -- John Powers, 2007-10-30

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Sep. 10th, 2014

05:25 am - QotD

[... description of sleep issues ...] "Which makes the afternoon incredibly hard to bear. Because I want a 3 hour nap at some point. Unfortunately our society doesn’t take naps into account. Which is a damn shame, I suspect a lot of the world’s problems could be solved by controlled napping. Really I think a lot of people are just cranky babies who need a bit of a lie down." -- Jackie Wohlenhaus (@betweenfailures), 2014-09-08 (authors comment underneath comic) [emphasis added]

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Sep. 9th, 2014

05:25 am - QotD

"Here's one vital lesson for white folks like me. When Michael Brown was killed, a lot of white people, mostly but not exclusively conservatives, said, 'He should have just complied when the police told him to get out of the road." Maybe. Maybe it would have saved him. But as we can see here, there is no correct behavior that will protect a black man from police brutality. All behaviors - standing, sitting, walking, not walking, showing your hands, hands in your pockets - are suspect." -- Lollardfish, 2014-08-28 [emphasis in original]

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Sep. 8th, 2014

05:25 am - QotD

From the Quotation of the day mailing list, 2007-01-26:

"I looked upon him as my personal friend. And I always treasured our relationship. And I had no hesitancy about granting the pardon, because I felt that we had this relationship and that I didn't want to see my real friend have the stigma." -- Gerald Ford, former U.S. President explaining the real reason for his pardon of former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon: concern for a friend, not the welfare of his nation. From a 2005 interview with Bob Woodward.


(submitted to the mailing list by John S. Karabaic)

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04:41 am - Archive of last night's queerness-and-faith chat

Here's the Storify archive of last night's #qfaith chat for TGLBQ religious folks, on what social justice issues draw us to act, what special things we bring to activism as GBLTQ people, and what we can do when we decide to do something.

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Sep. 7th, 2014

04:06 pm - #Qfaith tonight: what issues move you to act?

I know I've mentioned this on Facebook; I think I've mentioned it here as well, but I'm not sure: a bunch of us have been getting together regularly on Twitter to have a weekly chat about the intersection between being LTGBQ people and being religious. (Multi-faith -- all religions invited.) Different topics each week, but on that basic theme. We do this at 6 PM Eastern time on Sundays, usually for about an hour and a half, roughly. To listen in, just go to Twitter and search for the #qfaith hashtag. To join in, you'll need a Twitter account, and put the hashtag in any tweets you mean to be part of the discussion.

Tonight's moderator for #qfaith is Peterson Toscano (@p2son), and tonight's topic is: "What are issues that draw you, move you, engage you both in queer communities and beyond? How does being queer influence what you do and how you do it? How does faith/spirituality play a role?"

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05:25 am - QotD

"When you victim-blame, be aware that in all likelihood, at least one woman you know and love silently decides she cannot trust you." -- Steph Guthrie (@amirightfolks), 2013-03-08 [alas I have forgotten who retweeted this into my Twitter-reading stream]

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Sep. 6th, 2014

05:25 am - QotD

"What Twitter doesn't need: Filtered feeds. What Twitter does need: A "Report Tweet to Poster's Mother" button." -- @BeerFox, 2014-09-04

Happy birthday to Mark Arthur!

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Sep. 5th, 2014

03:43 pm - Fundamentalism?

Yesterday I was in a couple of conversations that I found frustrating and bewildering, and I eventually put my finger on at least part of the reason they seemed so strange. From my point of view, they went very much like this (though about a different topic, and X wasn't a single person):

X: Factoring is bullshit. You can't factor 31, factoring is pointless, all numbers are prime.

Me: While a minority of numbers are prime, most can be factored. Some are even squares or cubes.

X: Yeah, but 31, man. Numbers are evil. All of them. Also prime. Not like words. Words are nice. You can always split them up into smaller pieces.

Me: No, not all numbers are prime, not even most. Only some numbers are prime. You're ignoring the differences. Besides, not all words are splittable. Look at 'a' or 'I'. Just like numbers, some are and some aren't.

X: Oh hey, I never said that factorable numbers were evil, only primes. And I have nothing against words, so whether words are splittable or not is irrelevant. Just numbers that you can't factor.

Me: So we agree then, that most numbers can be factored and primes are a minority?

X: No, because they're all prime. Didn't you notice 31? Sheesh, liberals. You can talk all mathy, but that doesn't change 31.

Me: Yes, I noticed 31. And 17, too. But 12 can be factored -- it's 2x2x3; and 30 can be factored -- it's 2x3x5. Some numbers are prime. But no, not all numbers are prime. Just some of them.

X: Well, if you're going to deny that prime numbers exist, go factor 31, smartypants.

Me: I already admitted that 31 is prime. But what about 12 and 18 and 25 and 300?

X: Numbers are allowed to change how they look, like 12 can claim to be 10+2, so they're just deceiving you into thinking they can be factored. Any number that looks factorable has to be faking it.

Me: Wut?

It's a curious pattern. And it's a frustrating pattern. There's a bizarre cognitive shift in there, where one statement fails to connect up to another, and anything that challenges the initial premise is misunderstood, not-heard, or forgotten from one breath to the next.

It's a rigidity of thought, where anyone who challenges the assumptions using reason is first deemed mistaken, then deemed dangerous. New information is not allowed in. Reasoning is "just being fancy" and doesn't count. Arguments in favour of the initial premise don't have to make sense -- can even be contradictory -- and as long as they're dogmatically-correct the sound perfectly sensible to the speaker and his allies. "Have you thought of ____ as a sign that you might be mistaken?" never applies to the dogma, only to challengers of it. Positions cannot evolve, and nuance is seen as evidence of confusion, not evidence that the world is more complex than what is modelled in the dogma.

It's an odd pattern. And it's (*cough*) fundamentally broken.

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05:25 am - QotD

"Actually, there are TWO ends to marriage: 1) Unitive and 2) Procreative. The unitive end of marriage is simply a union of love and life. The Procreative end is, of course, to create new life. It is important to understand that the unitive end of marriage is sufficient for a valid marriage. The Church sanctions, and considers a sacrament, the marriage of elderly heterosexual couples who are biologically incapable of reproduction. So, if two people of different genders who are incapable of reproduction can enter into a valid marriage, then why is that two people of the same gender, who are incapable of reproduction, cannot enter into a valid marriage.

"The objections which are raised at this point are taken from Sacred Scripture. Scripture scholars reveal the problematic nature of attempting to use passages from the Hebrew Scriptures as an argument against same gender relationships. Essentially, these scriptures are addressing the cultic practices in which sex with temple prostitutes was part of an act of worshiping Pagan gods. With regard to the Pauline epistles, John J. McNeill, in his book: 'The Church and the Homosexual,' makes the following point: 'The persons referred to in Romans 1:26 are probably not homosexuals that is, those who are psychologically inclined toward their own sex--since they are portrayed as 'abandoning their natural customs.'' The Pauline epistles do not explicitly treat the question of homosexual activity between two persons who share a homosexual orientation, and as such cannot be read as explicitly condemning such behavior. Therefore, same gender sex by two individuals with same sex orientation is not 'abandoning their natural custom.'"

-- Roman Catholic priest Geoffrey Farrow (of Fresno, CA, US) 2008-10-05 (thanks to [info] dmk for pointing it out</a>)

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Sep. 4th, 2014

02:46 pm - Fundamentalism

I've said this before, and scores of people who've never heard of me have said it, and it bears repeating: a fundamentalist Muslim and a fundamentalist Christian have more in common with each other, than either has in common with mainstream members of their own faith.

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