Inspiration, by NdGT

Quote

Curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not.

-Neil deGrasse Tyson

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What I’m Reading, February 25, 2015

Depression is a Drug, Matt Coateson, Elephant Journal, February 16, 2015

Depression is like being addicted to the state of drug withdrawal. Any addict who knows that feeling of being incomplete, agitated, guilty and miserable knows what it is to be depressed. They believe they can, and often do, find temporary respite from this feeling by attaining and using their drug of choice—only for it to run out and they have to go through the cycle all over again.

Depression sufferers do not have the respite. They may not have the physical withdrawal and discomforts of the drug addict (although psychosomatic symptoms can be severe for those who make them so), but they also very rarely, if ever, find respite from the mental issues. When I did have a good day, as a depressee (I’ve also decided that that’s also a real thing), I used that as an excuse to make myself feel worse.

What right do I have to have a good day, to feel okay? Here I am, feeling miserable, feeling suicidal, making people worry about me, hating myself and I have the audacity to have a moment where I feel okay. I must be a terrible person, to feel good briefly, when I claim to be depressed. What scum I am, to claim I’m incapacitated by a mental illness and then smile today?

The Deadliest Prescription Drug in America? Christopher Byron, AlterNet, February 9, 2015 Continue reading

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What I’m Reading, February 24, 2015

The First Victims of the First Crusade, Susan Jacoby, New York Times, February 13, 2015

The message from the medieval past is that religious violence seldom limits itself to one target and expands to reach the maximum number of available victims.

***

Cultural ignoramuses portrayed President Obama’s references to the Crusades and the Inquisition at the recent National Prayer Breakfast as an excuse for Islamic terrorism, but the president’s allusions could and should have been used as an opportunity to reflect on the special damage inflicted in many historical contexts by warriors seeking conquest in the name of their god.

***

Thomas Asbridge, director of the Center for the Study of Islam and the West at the University of London, commented in this newspaper that “we have to be very careful about judging behavior in medieval times by current standards.”

This issue is better judged from the other side of the looking glass. What we actually see today is a standard of medieval behavior upheld by modern fanatics who, like the crusaders, seek both religious and political power through violent means. They offer a ghastly and ghostly reminder of what the Western world might look like had there never been religious reformations, the Enlightenment and, above all, the separation of church and state.

Unreconciled History: Why even victims don’t have the right to rewrite the past, Michael Kinsley, Slate, February 13, 2015 Continue reading

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What I’m Reading, February 23, 2015

One Woman’s New Tool to Stop Gamergate Harassment on Twitter, Taylor Wofford, Newsweek, November 29, 2014

Harper admits that Gamergate Autoblocker is more akin to a sledgehammer than a fine tool: She is willing to block out more than 9,000 Twitter users just so she doesn’t have to hear from a vocal few hundred. People who have never tweeted a single harassing thing end up blocked by nearly a thousand people, including many influential decision makers in the gaming industry. Gamergaters are worried Harper’s block list may turn into a black list, and anyone who appears on it will be persona non grata in the gaming industry. Harper attributes this fear to a quirk in her initial code. “The block list was in a file called blacklist.txt,” she says. She has since changed the file name.

Twitter is not the only place where women are harassed online. In a Pew Research poll released in October that tracked online harassment, a group of female respondents aged 18-24 reported experiencing severe harassment at disproportionately high levels: 26 percent claimed to have been stalked online, compared with 8 percent of all respondents, and 25 percent claimed to have been sexually harassed online, compared with 6 percent of all respondents.

Still Here, Part 1: A Memoir, Randi Harper, randi.io, November 16, 2014 Continue reading

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Monday Morning Cute: Oscars Edition

Feast won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film last night. Here’s the trailer:

I didn’t know anything about the film before the awards show, but I support any film in which a dog is the hero. The whole thing (all six minutes, fourteen seconds of it) is available on YouTube, Amazon, or iTunes for $1.99. Don’t torrent it, though, dude. That’s cold. Continue reading

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What I’m Reading, February 20, 2015

Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders? Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, Harvard Business Review, August 22, 2013

There are three popular explanations for the clear under-representation of women in management, namely: (1) they are not capable; (2) they are not interested; (3) they are both interested and capable but unable to break the glass-ceiling: an invisible career barrier, based on prejudiced stereotypes, that prevents women from accessing the ranks of power. Conservatives and chauvinists tend to endorse the first; liberals and feminists prefer the third; and those somewhere in the middle are usually drawn to the second. But what if they all missed the big picture?

In my view, the main reason for the uneven management sex ratio is our inability to discern between confidence and competence. That is, because we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a sign of competence, we are fooled into believing that men are better leaders than women. In other words, when it comes to leadership, the only advantage that men have over women (e.g., from Argentina to Norway and the USA to Japan) is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential, and that these occur much more frequently in men than in women.

Stop Blowhard Syndrome, Christina Xu, That’s What Xu Said, February 9, 2015 Continue reading

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The Cake Will Be Bone-Shaped, I Assume

Pat Robertson is worried. In other news, the sky is blue.

But seriously, Pat Robertson is concerned about same-sex marriage. Again.

After a Washington state judge found on Wednesday that a Christian florist had violated the state’s anti-discrimination law by refusing to sell flower arrangements for a same-sex couple’s wedding, Robertson asserted that an “intelligent judge” would have ruled against the gay men.

“To say that some procedural anomaly in the statute overrides the fundamental religious freedoms of the people, it’s just crazy,” he insisted. “And I hope that the lawyers for this florist will appeal this thing to get into the federal courts.”

“But this is outrageous!” the conservative preacher continued. “To tell a florist that she’s got to provide flowers for a particular kind of wedding. What if somebody wanted to marry his dog? She’s got to have flowers for that? What if there’s a polygamous situation where a guy has five wives and he wants to have five ceremonies, and she’s going to be forced by the law to provide them flowers. I mean, this is crazy.”

[Emphasis added.] (h/t Alice)

My favorite part of this whole “marrying-your-dog” trope is that it gets the question backwards. If you really value liberty and freedom, the question should always be “why should this be illegal?”, not “Why should we as a society allow this?” (Yes, I’m paraphrasing Donna from “The West Wing.”) Continue reading

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The Ickiness Subsides

I’ve been battling a frustratingly-mild cold of some sort all week. By that I mean it has been just bad enough to incapacitate most of the creative part of my brain, but not enough to render me incapable of daily life functions. I only just now realized that nearly every blog post from this week has been formulaic stuff that I actually scheduled to post weeks ago.

I realize that if I apologize too much for infrequent blog updates, I risk becoming the Least Interesting Man in the World, but it’s a chance I’ll just have to take.

The last time this happened, I was able to buy your forgiveness, dear reader(s), with an Olivia Munn GIF. I see no point in trying anything different now. Continue reading

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This Week in WTF, February 20, 2015

- Baby goes into crib. Shark’s in the crib. Our shark: If this baby doesn’t sleep well at night, his parents have no one to blame but themselves.

© Joseph Reginella / via Death and Taxes

© Joseph Reginella / via Death and Taxes

Are you thinking what I’m thinking? Yup:


Photo credit: © Joseph Reginella / via Death and Taxes.

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What I’m Reading, February 19, 2015

Blame the Muslims: how government and media stoke the fires of Islamophobia, Lindsey German, The Age of Blasphemy, February 12, 2015

Why are the approaches to different groups of terrorists so different? Part of the reason is racism: Muslims are portrayed as fanatics and extremists, caught in a clash of civilisations where the good guys are representatives of western civilisation while the bad guys are identified with backwardness, superstition and barbarity.

This dichotomy conveniently ignores western lack of civilisation, whether through two world wars and a holocaust or through the creation of empires which ruled over whole peoples – many of them the same who are being demonised here. It also ignores the record of Muslim culture historically.

There is one overwhelming reason why this happens however: the wars themselves. There is a refusal to link terrorism with the wars which have taken place over a decade and a half, and a refusal to see that one of their outcomes is a rise in Islamophobia.

There is a hideous symmetry in this: as the wars involving Britain and the US have become more mired in failure, so civil liberties have come under greater attack and the rise in Islamophobia has become more pronounced.

“The bills! The bills!”: A Japanese woman’s experience giving birth in the United States, Fran Wrigley, Rocket News 24, February 13, 2015 Continue reading

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