Feminist Monday, October 29
Today, I'd like to say a little something about The Chilling Adventure of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.
It's October, and I'm a Pagan. Typically, this means both rejoicing that my favorite holiday is here and near constant cringing. Everywhere you look there's a misogynist display of dead or dying splatted witches, disembodied body parts of witches, ugly witches, green-faced witches, fat witches, overly sexed witches, stupid witches, evil hag witches...and on and on and on. All of it negative. I'm justifiably offended. Because as long as these are the first things that spring to mind every damned Halloween when someone says 'witch' then it's an indication that misogyny is still heavily engrained in American culture. Witches are one of the few popular cultural images of women with power in this country. Is it any wonder that we've never had a woman serve as President of the US as long as this shit is what's most prevalent?
And yet, I'm enjoying the hell out of this show. (I'm on episode five.) I even read the comic book. My husband has been justifiably confused. I admit, I've been a bit confused myself. So, now I think I'll unpack a few things.
I tend to look at the bigger picture--or at least I try. I've found that if you back up from what's going on and stare at it from a distance, more often than not, helpful information crops up. Human beings are creatures of patterns. Our brains are structured on a base level to see patterns--even when none exist. The scientific study of perception is full of very good reasons why, starting with how the human visual cortex processes information. At any given moment, your brain is inundated with an overwhelming amount of information. In order to walk across a room and not smash into a wall or fall into a manhole, your brain sorts through a lot of the data and determines what is useful and what isn't. It doesn't have time to review every single bit. If it tried, you'd crash into that wall or worse, be flattened by the giant ball of stone rolling down the tomb's hallway.
Yeah, okay. I couldn't resist the Raider's of the Lost Ark reference.
So, the human brain takes shortcuts. These shortcuts involve pattern recognition, among other things. From the moment you're born your brain begins to learn what shit will kill you and what shit won't. The shit that hasn't killed you in the past gets ditched into the old mental file 13. This means when things happen fast, there are huge gaps in your perception and your memory. It's fascinating stuff, and I highly recommend reading about perception and human development. It's the main reason why I'm very aware that human brains are NOT computers and never have been. It's a totally incorrect model for the brain. Computers process all the data. They don't sort it, and then process it.
Feminist Tuesday, October 23
Good morning, y'all. I think I've got a handle on my personal stuff this morning. The bottled water has been obtained. The cat has his meds. And while I'm still having head bee issues, at least they're managed. So...here we go.
Gimme a break. There is no maybe. Bullet/torpedo bras are definitely about about replicating erect nipples. That's the point. (Pun intended.) Okay. Now, for those links.
Feminist Monday will have to be a day late. I've been dealing with Head Bees and my cat got bitten by another cat and that meant a vet visit and Austin is on a water boil alert and... I can't today. It'll have to be tomorrow. So sorry, y'all.
Feminist Monday, October 15
Lately, I've been reading Life 3.0 by Max Tegmark which is a nonfiction book about the future of AI. (I'm on the second read through right now because there's so much to unpack. I do that with research that's a key part of whatever it is I'm writing.) It's a fascinating read, and I recommend it, but it has some serious problems.
If there's a marriage made in hell, it's the pairing of AI with Libertarianism. It disturbs me when wealthy tech barons blithely discuss disruption of economic markets as if it were a tiny nuisance that nations get past in a matter of moments. When the reality is that people's lives are thrown into chaos. Jobs are lost and--quite possibly in the instance of AI--whole careers destroyed. And yet, the fallout is merely hand-waved over like it's a minor inconvenience. I don't buy his statement that 'everything will be fine.' It won't be fine. Not for years, possibly decades, not even for your precious tech company. If you're going to argue ethics, and pose how one creates an ethical AGI whose goals don't conflict with humanity's, maybe you shouldn't espouse a political and financial system that is laissez-faire?
The opening fiction story about a small group of amoral, selfish, greedy AI geniuses working within a tech company is downright hair-raising. Have you never heard of Lord Acton? Dictatorships, especially those run for profit, aren't a good thing. It's quite eyeopening.
And ZOMG, people, PLEASE understand that Wikipedia is not an unbiased collection of encyclopedic data. For fuck's sake. You're this really smart man, and yet...
Also, there's an assumption that even though vast, unlimited wealth can be generated by AGI (Artificial General Intelligence), the majority of that wealth will be hoarded by the few. There's zero reason for that--particularly if this is a Utopic perspective, and it takes place after the current censure of Capitalism has completed. He doesn't explain why exploitation and/or the broad imbalance in the distribution of wealth is so essential He merely assumes it will be because: Capitalism. I see it as a flaw in a narrow political and philosophical perspective.
The cherry on top of the tea cake is the unexamined sexism. There are few women (if any) mentioned by name in the entire book. Those who are mentioned are wives of Great Men--and none are technical contributors to the project. Or if they are, their contributions aren't mentioned even in passing.
Yeah. Wow. So much to unpack. Still, there's a lot of really interesting ideas in it. And I do recommend reading it. More on that later. For now, videos.
October Things :)
Halloween is my favorite holiday. So, today I'll collect some links about fun things to do. Hosting a party? Pop on over to USA Today's list of inspiring adult drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions are listed) and other treats. Dinosaur costumes officially rock. Author Heather Greene tweets a list of 31 films about witches. Sadly, a majority of them are awful, sexist, and promote harmful stereotypes from a modern witch's perspective. However, there are a few fun ones. Heather also has a new non-fiction book out about witch films. Have some costume ideas, couples costume ideas (same sex couples are included), and makeup tutorials. Got kids? Have some kids' craft suggestions. And have some DIY suggestions for your home.
Next week? We'll talk about my favorite Halloween movies.
Feminist Monday, October 8
So, last week sucked ass. The US Republican Party has ceased to function as an element of democracy and has switched into full-on Fascism mode. That makes November's election more important than ever before. There is so much on the line this election. And after the latest report on climate change everything feels dire. Because dictators don't care about the environment. Trump certainly doesn't. Neither does the Republican party. This, my friends, is a deadly combination on multiple levels. So, don't listen when the trolls tell you that you'll only make it worse by speaking out. You can't make it worse. It is worse. Relenting and giving the big bad what it wants just makes it easier for them to do whatever they want. Fight back.
Speaking of, lately I've been thinking hard about my practice of retweeting articles and opinions from BlackTwitter. The reason I was doing so was to promote POC voices. However, this had an unfortunate side effect. Trolls saw these RTs and abused POC Twitter-Users. I recently saw a complaint about white tweeters who RT POC tweeters not coming to the aid of the POC tweeters they've RTed. That is a valid complaint. I've giving some thought to my personal response. Anyway, I think, in the future if I see a POC being attacked, I will stop and ask if they need assistance. (Automatically doing so risks the whole White Savior thing.) If you have other ideas, I'd love to hear them.
In other news, today is Indigenous People's Day in the US. And I think it's Thanksgiving for Canada. Regardless of whether or not you're celebrating either holiday, I hope you have a happy Monday. Now for those links...
Feminist...Tuesday, October 2
Hey. How're you? Yeah, I've been away for a while. I took a road trip with my sister for a week and a half. We went to Tennessee. It was gorgeous and tons of fun--filled with music (i dj-ed on the road), shopping, gardening, house interior painting (or taping in my case) and niece-visiting. my niece and her husband bought a house in Nashville. I miss my sister so much since she moved to Houston. I'm thrilled she invited me along. It was fantastic to be able to catch up with her like that. Just the two of us + music + open road. We shared a room for all of our childhood and teens. We get along really well. I love her so much. Anyway, enough of that. You came here for links and Feminism. Here we go!
Today's video: John Oliver talks about Kavanaugh. You should watch the whole thing if you haven't.
Mind you, I'm not happy about making fun of a man crying. However, this is a man who is attempting to prove that he's the appropriate choice for a high stakes, high pressure, powerful position of power, and he's repeatedly lied about shit that we can *prove* isn't the truth. For the record, I believe Dr. Ford. Absolutely.
It’s impossible to overstate what a genuine hero this nun from Uganda is. OMG, she's so inspiring. Okay. And now...links.
is a Science Fiction and Fantasy author living in Texas.