Sep 24

The risk

Projects like Everyday Sexism and Hollaback are awesome, bringing attention to the problem of the pervasive street harassment that women experience.

But I can’t agree with this (the part I cited below specifically).

Guys who care about sexual harassment – you can help. When you see sexual harassment, call it out. If you see a guy wolf whistling at a woman trying to go about her day, yell loudly at him “Show some respect, asshole.” Let women and most importantly MEN know that you won’t stand for it, that women deserve better.

In such a situation, men are much more likely to be violently attacked than women are for speaking up. Why? Sexism, of course. A woman challenging a man (by most of these guys) is seen as inconsequential. To them, women are low-status. From their perspective, it’s like a gnat arguing with him. Terrible to hear, but it’s true.

But a man challenging these types? That matters to them. That threatens their status. A lot of them will respond with violence.

Most people – including most men — are scared of violence. I feel sympathy for this. When you as a male stand against these harassing men, your risk of experiencing violence goes way, way up, far more than a woman’s does.

I’d never ask anyone to possibly bring great violence on themselves for me as I have sympathy for that fear.

And also most women may not realize this or think about it (just as most men don’t realize or think about street harassment), but when you stand against a man or group of men in public as a man, you usually stand alone. No one will come to your side and fight with you. Often, no one will even look at you.

So when you open your mouth, know that you will be fighting alone. If you can’t accept that risk, probably best to keep quiet. I can accept that and have in the past. Such is life.

I am not a violent person by nature. But violence does not scare me — although perhaps it should — so I generally call out men who are acting like idiots and non-humans. I can’t help how I was born, though. My risk profiling is all screwed up. I know this. Can’t help it. Don’t be like me.

But I think it’s wrong to ask anyone else to do these scary (to most) things on your behalf. Most people piss themselves when true violent situations are cropping up. I think it’s morally wrong to ask people to expose themselves to such fear. I’d never ask that of anyone.

But here’s my dirty secret. I like confrontations. I like fighting*. If I didn’t worry about brain damage, I’d be in a boxing ring every day. Hand-to-hand combat training was my very favorite part of being in the army. However, I don’t provoke people and I am an introvert by nature. I don’t walk into fights. And I retreat even if people call me a coward because I also don’t like prison. But if someone pushes me and I have no way to escape (or my companion does not), then I will dispose of them as calmly as I do everything else. My nature is what it is.

I have no real point to this. Just that I think it’s wrong to ask someone to potentially get beaten, stabbed, or shot, no matter how much potential good it might do for society in general. There has to be a better way.

*Engaging in street-fighting recreationally, though, will lead to a very short life as there is always someone faster, smarter and stronger than you are. And even the best fighter has very bad chances against two or more assailants.

Sep 22

The drugs don’t work

Given what I’ve read about drug testing and the medical field, I doubt one in 50 drugs actually do anything other than exhibit the placebo effect.

Drugs are tested by the people who manufacture them, in poorly designed trials, on hopelessly small numbers of weird, unrepresentative patients, and analysed using techniques that are flawed by design, in such a way that they exaggerate the benefits of treatments.

No way to solve this really with business astride the world, never to be dethroned. Good to know anyway, though, as the placebo effect still works even if you know about it.

Sep 22

Creep

What is wrong with men who do things like this?

Like most people – women included — I will look at an attractive person if they happen to walk by or be in my field of vision. That’s just it, though – I will look. I won’t ogle them, gape at them, harass them or pull out my camera and snap a photo of them. I (really, really) don’t even have any desire to interact with the person.

But looking is ephemeral, and harmless. Taking photos sans consent and posting them on the internet? That’s a different matter altogether.

That said, I am not sure it should be a crime, exactly. That would raise a whole host of free speech issues that the government and corporations could then use to squelch public debate and public documentation even more than has already been done.

There isn’t a good solution, really, not that might not do more harm elsewhere. I just wish some of these men would get tased in the face (preferably by me) when someone notices this occurring.

Maybe that would be a bit of dissuasion.

Sep 22

Transition to unusability

The comment areas on sites are getting worse. Most of them are now completely unusable. What the fuck is this, for instance?

There are more and more sites like that. Who posted what when? The site shows that 43 comments were posted but if you look, there are only 16. Where are the other 27 comments? And the layout. What a design tragedy.

And more sites have started listing comments by default – some unchangeably – by the most recently posted. Why would you ever want to read comments this way, especially with no way to change it? Invariably, comments deteriorate as a thread lengthens. This has been well-known since Usenet and BBS days, in the fucking early 1980s. Amazing we are blithely re-making things into problems that were completely solved 30 years ago and have been working fine since then.

Most sites, I have started using various tools to render the comment sections completely invisible as they are so worthless. I don’t mean that the problem is the comments themselves. Some of them I’d actually like to read. I mean the presentation is so poorly done – apparently by a team of pre-Cambrian mollusk-like organisms – that I can’t even tell who is commenting on what or when.

I think part of the problem is that a lot of people and designers are new to the internet (And I, being the hipster that I am, consider you “new to the internet” if you first signed on after 1995 or so. Sorry about that.) They are trying new (to them) things that were well-solved many, many years ago.

Not that one should never try new things. One just should try things that are actually, you know, new, and not completely idiotic.

Bottom line is that each passing year the internet gets less useful to me as it’s turned more into cable television. That’s all the majority seem able to handle, and I get that. But that realization doesn’t make my experience any better.

Sep 21

Recruit-on

In addition just being naturally socially averse, one of the reasons I do not have a profile on LinkedIn or similar sites is because IT recruiters are like sharks.

In a time where so many people have such difficulty finding a job, I know I will sound like a bit of an ass, but if you have in-demand IT skills you get too many job openings and to go along with them voracious recruiters hounding you about them constantly.

For instance, I have no LinkedIn profile. No social media presence at all. I am very hard to find on the internet, really, for a variety of reasons. And yet I still get IT recruiters pitching jobs to me nearly every week.

I have no idea how they get my CV. No interest in the jobs (who the fuck wants to live in Hoboken, NJ?) and a lot of the time the emails are downright rude and demanding.

It’s a good thing — I won’t deny that! – that finding a job in the fields I know best is easy. It’s nice to be wanted. But the recruiters make it somehow akin to being stalked and that is never a good feeling.

Sep 20

Fed up

Of course Fed policies favor the rich. Doing anything else in the US is politically impossible.

Right now, stimulative policies that didn’t favor the rich would nearly all involve direct or near-direct cash transfers to Romney’s hated 47%. Can’t have the parasites getting something undeserved, now can we?

Never mind that for the past 30+ years all the productivity gains in the economy have accrued to the top one percent.

And never mind how much the rich and their companies are subsidized by tax breaks that the less-wealthy do not receive, are coddled by the press and by the law, are able to send their children to better schools and to live in better neighborhoods. And how most of the rich got there by starting on third base, usually followed soon thereafter by their theft of it from everyone else.

In most cases, there were no bootstraps and no pulling themselves up thereby. Like the Welfare Queen, that is all a myth.

Later, I will write a post about how thinking of the economy in terms of money is a distraction, and very much the wrong frame for discussing these topics. It leads to conceptual opacity rather than illumination and conceals how the economy is evolving and camouflages how it will further change in the near future.

It is really mystifying to me how people who were born with so many advantages, and who have gained so many more in life — like Romney — can genuinely feel so persecuted and set upon. I know that I would not feel this way were I to become very rich, and would gladly pay taxes.

Perhaps it’s just that I am not a complete sociopath.

Sep 19

Pomme

I often hear Apple criticized for being overpriced. And I guess they are overpriced if you don’t care a whit about quality.

Is it worth devoting the first 750 or so words of this piece to the iPhone 5’s surface appeal? I don’t know how else to convey the niceness of this thing. This iPhone 5 review unit is the single nicest object in my possession. I own things that cost and remain worth more (e.g. my car). But I own nothing this nice. It sounds hyperbolic to put it that way, but I offer this observation with no exaggeration.

When you pick up an Apple product, you can feel the workmanship and thought that went into calling forth each object from the void. Apple’s products are the only ones I use regularly that I would call “art.”cinema_display_30

I use a 30”  Cinema Display mainly because the screen is great (though nothing compared to the new iPad screen). But I also use it because the object itself is beautiful. It will be beautiful in a thousand years, just as Roman friezes are. It is timeless and there is a reason many movies feature a Cinema Display in their “futuristic” scenes – and not because it looks futuristic, per se.

No, it’s because it will never look antiquated. Know how 1960s sci-fi looks so dated, like it might as well have been filmed in the 1400s? That’s what set designers are trying to avoid when there is a Cinema Display mise en scène.

If you care more about price – and can afford it – an Apple product is what you’d nearly always choose, in my opinion.

I sound like an Apple ad, I know. But it’s worth recognizing one of the few companies in the world that cares about quality of experience and design first and foremost. It is extremely rare and worth noting.

Sep 17

Interloper

I’m used to my privilege of being a straight white male, but I am not often consciously aware of it because it is the water in which I swim.

Being used to this privilege and nearly always receiving the benefit of the doubt as a result of it, it is really strange when I’ve ventured into completely mom-dominated environments where men are either completely invisible or treated in an extremely hostile manner.

Ignore the evo-psych explanation later on in the linked post, though.

There are places and situations that moms claim as their domain and men are not welcome unless they’re with a mom and relegated to holding packages or minding the kids while the mom takes care of the important business.  Anywhere or in any situation where mothers run the show—playgrounds, supermarkets, shoe stores, doctors’ waiting rooms, the spaces outside schools where parents wait to pick up their kids—men without women, even dads with kids in tow, are greeted with cold indifference if not outright hostility.

It’s really illuminating when this happens because it allows me to understand how many people must experience the world nearly all of the time. And it is not pleasant.