https://www.facebook.com/michael.arnovitz.3/posts/1078105772254828

This is a good article, but I'm not sure if makes a strong case against *progressive* criticism of Clinton. It makes a strong argument to Clinton being better than Trump, and that Republican objections to her (at least relative to Trump, or Jeb Bush) is logically unsound. Full marks there.

It makes a strong overall case for Clinton being more honest than most politicians, and experienced, and being unfairly punished for being a woman - and this applies across the political spectrum. Again, well done.

But it seems to be trying to coast on that to "and democrats should love her too." When it claims that "The fact that these views [from left and right] could not possibly apply to the same person does not seem to give either side pause," it fails to take pause itself and consider that, for people on the left, she might be uncomfortably centrist relative to other options. And in this, this article, like many other articles, falls into the trap of false appeals of progressive unity,

For a lot of people, myself included, the evaluation comes down to what policies Clinton will implement *as compared to other alternatives on the left.* She's in favour of abortion access and has a stance on gun control that is in line with the bare minimum for most countries, and these are plusses. But on other issues, how does she stack up against alternatives like Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein (and, fingers crossed, Elizabeth Warren for VP - who is like the political frame of Sanders and the experience of Clinton combined) - not to mention the #1 Clinton alternative above all - Hillary Clinton as she stands with a few simple campaign modifications. And in this realm, Clinton (or current-Clinton) is not as strong as the alternatives, and, worse, she, and the media that supports her, seems to show little interest in addressing her own shortcomings:

1. For example, while this article makes a strong case for the value of speaking gigs, it fails to explain why, despite her "looking into it" she won't make their content public. This seems trivial, and it pales compared to Trump (while also raising the question of who would pay Trump to speak for them, and who would trust someone who makes that decision with any other decision) but it's suspect within the larger context. Like Clinton, it also fails to address where her campaign money is coming from - a problem that Sanders and Stein do not have. Admittedly Stein doesn't have a lot of money and has 0% chance of winning, but the fact that this correlation is normal points to how much we've gotten used to the system of legalized bribery that is "campaign contributions." This is fixable. Yet she won't fix it.

2. For me, this article, like Clinton, fails to address the idea of political dynasties and the concentration of power along class and blood lines that comes with them. I'm willing to give Clinton a cautious pass on this *because* she is a woman and until now she simply could not have run for president and won. If she could have done so in the 90s, Bill would have been first husband and that would have been as good a presidency if not a considerably better one because I think she's a better option than Bill, and I don't think the Republicans could have spun the VP sleeping around into the fiasco that The Sex Trials became. But if were she Bill's brother or some other male relative, I'd want her off the ticket. Still, as it stands, for a country in the midst of a runaway class system to choose a president who further cements an aristrocracy strikes me as a problem. Yes, again, she's "not as bad as Trump," but how does she stack up to other options, including a reflective verison of herself.

3. Most glaringly, this article, like Clinton herself, fails to address her comfort with the status quo of American militarism - which is a HUGE drawback as the US's joyful habit of blowing its riches on an army drives the globe to waste national resources on arming up, diverts money away from things we actually need, kills a lot of innocent people, and perpetuates imperialism. Consider the US "military status quo" campaign policy reframed: "We're in debt and have an ongoing healthcare crisis, so let's keep spending one sixth of our budget on war despite the fact that it's kind of weird for a country with 5% of the population to have 35% of the global war budget, then use our army for spurious reasons, then watch what happens when everyone else realizes that if they don't follow our example, they might get invaded, if not by us, then by someone competing with us." What kind of a political system - and what kind of a candidate for "most powerful person on Earth" - lets this fly unchallenged?

All I want from Clinton is a small amount of movement on #1 and #3, and perhaps, in an ideal world, an acknowledgement of #2 (easily framed as "at least I'm not Bush - ha ha") and I'll take time off from work to come and campaign for her. I don't think this is much to ask. Until then, I resent this and other articles' (and, for that matter, every other worldly instance of) disingenuous appeal to progressive unity - i.e. "Anyone who doesn't shelve their concerns and get onside is motivated by and helping The Other Side." I believe that I can't, and shouldn't, trust a leader who lacks the ability to listen to simple obvious criticisms and make minimal change.

As a US citizen, I will still vote for her. I acknowledge that the US Presidential election is anomalous compared to most of my decision-making as in every other case, from groceries to voting, I have at least two viable choices that are "Not Trump." Here this is not the case, and I agree with the article that she has that going for her. But, in my opinion, she is by her own ongoing choices, demonstrating that she is not a "good" president. Merely an okay one. And if she loses votes because she is too inert to address simple, gender-egalitarian, valid, and rational concerns, she will have brought that on herself.
We have a meeting between the chronic problem in leftist organizing and the overall online culture war, which shuts down discourse. Discourse ideally (1) creates ideological synthesis while (2) preventing emnity. In other words, it creates a "true unity" where people support the result because they feel heard. In this regard, neither candidate is doing their duty.

I see the Sanders campaign creating discourse including a variety of voices, having open town halls, adapting to BLM, and engaging a varied mass audience (yes to 1) but failing to structure itself to avoid creating hostility with potential allies (no to 2). By contrast, Clinton's campaign pushes a practical and well-tested manuever of an experienced federal politician pushing moderation as a means to incremental change, using strong old-media messaging to unify democrats against the shambling hungry corpse of what was once the Republican party (yes to 2) but in sticking to message, blows at adapting to criticism (no to 1).

I see the Clinton campaign pulling the manuever favoured by the centre-left and well-off middle aged feminists of demanding unity without putting in the work to create it (and by "work" I mean, changing a few sentences in policy and public speeches), then patronizing or or dismissing critics. (confer: the CFS) I see news articles pushing Clinton as The Only Choice, prominent old-school feminists patting me on the head for not being mature enough to support a woman in the White House (who, if they like policy, were oddly silent on the Greens since their 1996 inception, and if they liked electability over policy, curiously failed to support McCain/Palin) and a clear media push to say that Sanders' campaign can't engage voters of colour despite poll numbers that refute this. I see that even this article conveniently omits that the protestors in the photo were mostly organized by a Latino rights group with some pretty legit grievances.

Then the Sanders "campaign" reacts by turning up the rage and. I use scare quotes as it's more pushing/enabling/harnessing an anarchic social media structure, thus creating a hurricane of vitriol, and ignoring any responsibility for what it's created - which is kind of crap leadership. Nevermind that the rage past a certain point not only just makes people bunker down, it also makes it increasingly difficult to have peace talks later, as outlined two paragraphs down.

This is what happens all the damn time on the left. And it can be fixed. In this case, prior to proper negotiations this could be amended if:
- Clinton stopped ignoring criticism, tweaked her policy, and provided something concrete to indicate that this wasn't lip service (like naming some prospective cabinet ministers or a VP with a better track record - what's Elizabeth Warren up to these days?). While I love Bernie and really don't like Clinton, if she took the necessary five minutes to do this after she almost certainly cinches the nomination, I would take my US passport and go deliver some campaign signs for her. Hell, I'd campaign for any centre-left candidate who was willing to grow a pair of gonads and use the unity they demand to push some innovative policy.
- Sanders used some autocratic power (which, whether he likes it or not, is the province of the head of the Executive Branch) to ask people to either engage in civil discourse or GTFO. As Trump has shown, the culture they create is something that populist candidates are going to be increasingly responsible for going forward. Sanders needs to grasp this and act accordingly.

Like with any other climate of growing hostility, the ideal solution is for candidates to sit down and figure out how to make peace and combine their strengths. Hopefully, this could start in one month, after the last primary.
It's good that resources like this exist, and this is definitely worth a visit. I find that the essay here (https://iisaakteachings.com/processes-of-decolonization-by-poka-laenui/) has some conclusions that have some dodgy applications, insofar as they kind of run up against telling other nations that if they're doing decolonization differently (i.e. faster, or with greater hybridity), then they're not doing decolonization right - and when presented in the context of a foundational educational site, that message is especially ill-placed.

One nation's first (or second, or third or fourth) steps of decolonization might looks like the authour's idea of the fifth step of *colonization*. Laenui also claims that if one does not spend enough time in contemplation and goes to the next stage prematurely the results can be disastrous, citing other nations' governmental systems as being too western. Do those other nations see their new government as adequate? Or at least a work in progress, preferable to what came under occupation - to later be amended and improved? Is the authour aware that many of these neocolonial governments have systems of representation that make the British Parliamentary system look like a gerrymandered sham? If a nation has evicted a colonial government and installed its own, even if it's flawed, then is it just to say that they needed to wait and dream longer? Why are these other governments' so suspect while the authour's preference for western style media is taken for granted?

The reason that I'm being persnickety is not to suggest not using this site. It's that when one compiles resources for 101 allyship, teaching that one method of activism is right and another is wrong, without either a pluralistic frame, debate, or a lot more nuance can lead to allies latching onto one school of thought as correct, and alternative schools of thought as, for a lack of a better term, the enemy. Confer: men who join 2nd wave feminist organizations; NT parents who join dodgy autism organizations; etc...

Seems like a good site otherwise though.
The burden is actually on the authour to prove this assertion, not the people objecting to him.

However, I can still take a crack at it. While writing this, I see that Jessica seems to have a handle on it from a rules-based argument. I'll take it from a utlitarian standpoint.

This argument can be boiled down to
- If we let (minority) access (majority) space/benefit, then
1. (majority) will feel uncomfortable, and
2. (majority) will assault or harass minority

Okay - actually, stepping away from utilitarianism for a moment, this can be used to used to justify excluding any marginalized group from anything. It has been used w/r/t women in the army, women in mixed airplane seating (currently on El-Al), women in bars, women in business networking, black americans in desegregated schools, indigenous people being allowed off reserve, gay marriage, whatever. Take from that what you will.

Back to utilitarianism:
#1 is stronger if that marginalized group is a numerical minority. #2 is population-indifferent as the more people who gain access, the more people "at risk"

Since this is a utilitarian argument, we can put aside any (strong) argument to rights to or duties to equality and concentrate on the effect. Throughout this proof, as it becomes increasingly obvious that this is not a complicated argument, I will become proportionately increasingly sarcastic.

For #1.
Once (minority) people are allowed (majority) spaces, (majority) will just get used to it (e.g., we now work next to left-handed people, nevermind the fact that they may be possessed by the devil). Or at least members of (majority) can get used to it if they choose. However, (minority) cannot get used to not accessing the space or service in question, hence the demand in the first place

Thus, indefinitely barring (minority) people from equal access will have indefinite detrimental effect on (minority), while permitting (minority) access will have a detrimental effect on a small portion of (majority) for the finite period of time until this issue will be forgotten.

Note, I say "indefinite" rather than "infinite." This difference is not permanent, as at some point in the future I am willing to concede, for the sake of argument, humanity will either go extinct or invent a Star-Trek-like way of making the service in question so obselete that no-one uses it. So, I will concede that if the apocalypse occurs tomorrow or if we invent a way to beam our bodily wastes into the reagent chamber of the antimatter reactor by the end of the week, this argument may not hold, in which case I will be happy to reconsider my views.

However, if we for some reason want to look at the short term (although I can see no reason to do so - unless there's a rogue moon on it's way here right now, or MIT is about to spring something on us) we can still measure this.

X = (the detrimental effect of denial of service) x (number of people affected)
Y = (detrimental effect of provision of service) x (number of people affected).
X >=<Y ? Being able to excrete wastes is a basic biological function common to all life. And for humans to do so so outside of a washroom in a public space is illegal. (leading one to the interesting point where one's dog may have more rights than oneself). So not being able to use public facilities (since trans exclusion effectively bars trans people from both male and female spaces, as the harassment or risk for using the "legal" space can still, in most trans people's estimate, outweigh the benefits of using said space) effectively bar one from any public life in a space that uses washrooms (so this may not apply to some lumberjacks). Most estimates of the transgender population cover around 0.3%. The number of cissexed people who are sufficiently gender-variant to be harmed by trans exclusion from washrooms is harder to quantify, but I'd guess that a realistic estimate is 0.7%. The economy also suffers from this lack of public participation, causing a detrimental effect on society as a whole. Compare this to the inconvenience of being next to someone in the washroom who makes one feel uncomfortable, multiplied by the number of people who *at first* give a flying fuck (10% in schools to maybe 50% at a Ted Cruz fundraiser - I say 50% as, even assuming 100% objection to peeing near a trans person, about half of trans people will pass unnoticed). So on day one of trans integration we have X = Being barred from say half(?) of public life * (0.01) + general economic cost of restricting people from public life Y = Mild passing discomfort * (0.1-0.5) (also: as mentioned above, Y decreases with each passing day.) Argument #2 - In the estimation of the people seeking access, potential harassment during inclusion isn't as bad as exclusion. Unless they are somehow(???) wrong, that's the end of the assessment.
While while intentioned and needed, and largely accurate, I think authour is making the common culture war mistake of equating "vegan" with "hippies who buy $10 asparagus water at Whole Foods" - mistaking an ethical principle for the common depiction of those with the media access to advocate for it and those to whom it is marketed as a luxury - rather than what the term actually means.

Regular vegan food can be whatever the heck else one would be eating with a few substitutions or subtractions. By substitutions, I'm not talking about making everything out of emulsified whatever mixed with tapioca starch and moonlight - I mean, for example, beans for beef: healthier, more ethical, cheaper and, since the beans are just fine canned or dried, less prone to spoilage even without refrigeration (and also not buoyed up by inequitable meat subsidies) Likewise: baking with applesauce (tinned or blendered out of second-rate apples) instead of eggs; veg oil and table salt instead of butter; lentil soup for chicken noodle; nutritional yeast for KD cheese powder. Fresh (organic? local?) produce is nice, but it's not the same thing as vegan, just like organic alligator liver isn't the same thing as "omnivorous." And instead of starches - well those were already vegan in the first place. Sure have to add some B12 now and then, but that's still much cheaper than eggs, cheese, milk or fish.

This is noting new. In many (most? all?) agrarian cultures, for a long time, eating meat has been a sign of wealth - this is a natural extension of entropy: it simply takes more nutrients, labour and energy to farm a calorie of animal than of plant. Since entropy is still a thing, this hasn't changed.

I can think of four exceptions to this: (1) because of restrictions on time, health, housing or ability, you are living on fast food, where for some bullshit reason (likely tied into marketing ideas from the first paragraph) a veggie burger costs thrice what a basic burger, or (2) you are not exchanging money for food, instead living from shelters, donations, prisons, barracks, dumpsters or food banks that don't have don't know or don't care about veg nutrition, or (3) your grocery supply is extremely limited and unreliable, or (4) you live somewhere where at times it's easier to hunt or fish than grow things. In these cases, vegan food is impractical and, one could argue, has less of an ethical imperative behind it. Otherwise however, even with ethical considerations aside, it's cheaper, easier, and less likely to give you food poisoning. It's viable, and it's a shame that we don't push it harder as a tool in the fight against food scarcity.
 Hey <NAME>,

In the future, if you have moral concerns when I'm asking people for help, can you phone or PM me first? I'm very happy for you to point out that you are contacting me in public, and I'll make time to speak privately as soon as I can. Then, if you don't like my response, I guess I feel it's fair if you want to go ahead and raise your concerns publicly.

My situation right now is this: after making The Switch, I owe a lot of people *a lot* of money and the income we were expecting hasn't arrived yet. I need to find money to live on, and I'm trying to do it with regards to principles that I think we share. I'm lucky enough to be able to make an income doing things that overlap with my values, but I'm also working contract-to-contract (so that I have a schedule that lets me finish the show), which means I don't have a day job. Until things level out, which might be soon or... might not, sometimes when I'm doing work for pay, I'm asking people to help me do my job well and I'm paying them a cut as best I can. In my experience, when there's something that, whether it's the case or not, makes the first impression of a call-out, even when a public discussion follows that satisfies the original concerns raised, everyone disengages

 

______

 

Revised post (using response from original thread):

 

I am giving a Transgender-related talk for some UBC psych students. For the first quarter of this presentation, I need some "trans 101" powerpoint slides. If anyone has these and would be okay with me using them, I would like to pay $10 (to you or a cause of your choice) for the okay to do so once.

(See below for how I came up with this figure)

 

 
I'm getting $60 for about 5 hours of work. That's what I could negotiate - which is a step up from doing it for free, which is what I'm used to. The rest of the presentation is on related subjects (like the history of trans people w/r/t psychology) where I will have to generate the material from scratch. I'll also be fielding live questions. Plus there was a lot of overhead that went into this presentation. This material will constitute up to 1/6 of the content in the presentation, so I'm paying 1/6 of my fee.

I'm not asking to own the material, just license some of it to be used as a portion of a larger presentation, *once.* If I use it again, I pay again with the exact amount to be negotiated at that time.

(By comparison, as a songwriter, I get about 3 cents every time someone legally plays the song I wrote.)

Regarding this video winding up on a Facebook Feed

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbEJom2HJEg&feature=youtu.be

Response:

 Speaking as someone who writes opinion articles for a Canadian news site, while this video is edited and voiced over with a professional tone, were I to try to submit a text akin to this on any topic to any reputable source, the editor would be well within her duties to reject it. Problems with this video include but are most certainly not limited to the following: - It makes conclusions about the nature of the filmed event but is not clear about what the filmed event is about or who arranged the permit for it - these are key points of data in any reporting process. Nor is it clear if the prayers received an official stamp of approval. All this information is easily available to the public. - While France's census cannot legally ask about religion (since 1872), private polls can and do ask - frequently. There are many statistics available quickly and easily. About 8% of France is Muslim. This number is growing, but not as fast as the number of self-described Roman Catholics. - The assertion about some men practicing polygamy -> more births on welfare does not even try to quantify itself. As such, it's not false as all it requires is two guys in the whole of France to pull it off. However, it needs to be quantified in order to be relevant. It also does creates a bouble-standard as polyamorous non-Muslims are not subject to the same scrutiny - It fails to mention that the dystopian novel might have been overlooked by the French Media as "Мечеть Парижской Богоматери" (Eng: The Mosque of Our Lady of Paris" - "Notre Dame" being French for "Our Lady") is, as one might expect from the title, set in France but written in Russian. (And from a glance at the synopsis, it's not a very good book, that even breaks the rules laid out by Christian publishers in the US on how not to write a shitty Christian novel.) - Further to the above, the professional way to demonstrate being overlooked by the media is to compare word count, or advertising budget, or staff salary, or search engine count or some other quantifiables across comparable topics - in this case, taking an average of other mediocre contemporary dystopian Russian novels with thesis other than why Vatican II will result in the murder of all non-Muslims. I would guess that most such novels probably don't even have publishers in France which would prove the opposite of the video's claims. People have done this for decades before the Internet. Today you can do what were once months of work in in a couple hours. - Also on the above - claiming that one is beign censored simply because one is not receiving equal media attention minus any kind of proof that implies that this is happening for unjust reasons is so common a complaint that it is a fallacy unto itself. Any journalist should know this and know how to report such claims responsibly. - The woman in the video who is allegedly defending the veil cannot be heard. This is hopefully just sloppy reporting, but it may be a deliberate misquote. Also, she's not wearing a veil as much as a headscarf - The women displayed in the section about the burqa law is not wearing a burqa, she is wearing a niqab. Time to up your game!

 

http://slutist.com/why-i-cant-do-it-with-atheists-and-how-magick-made-me-less-of-an-asshole/

 I like that this article is calling for pluralism. And that it questions the line between trying to be right for the sake of understanding how the world actually works and dismantle injustice (e.g., as per the authour, dead babies aren't waiting in heaven, and life is unfair for most who don't share her privilege), and trying to prove someone wrong in order to push a political agenda on them. Kudos for that.


I also find a giant and ironic hole in her argument. The authour is taking her personal emotionally liberating experience with Wicca and making some dangerously unsubstantiated claims (e.g. "we witches are the most hated of all.") while ignoring the problems common to many highly vocal but not all practices of Wicca (i.e. unreflective Eurocentrism in a variety of forms, a habit of historical revisionism based on truthiness-centred pseudoresearch, and celebrating itself as sexually liberating while often being about as radical as Sex and The City - and then pushing all this on other people as something they must, on some level, accept). What is ironic and problematic is that every one of these problems *has a clear parallel* with her misgivings towards Atheism.

But consider - both are non-majoritarian metaphysical models whose practitioners are concentrated in the under-50 set with a privileged social position who, in seeking alternative universal models to what they feel is an oppressive majority, evangelize without first interrogating their own shit. In my opinion, from what she's objecting to in her article, that's the real problem - not Atheism, or even Christianity (or Wicca) but evangelizing without reflection.

http://www.dailyxtra.com/vancouver/news-and-ideas/news/trans-woman-leading-mens-rights-group-183906

 

 Oh that is interesting. And, as someone who has a post-bac from SFU's Women's Studies department, yet who does not identify as a feminist (although my politics generally agree with those who do), I have many many thoughts! I don't know if any of these would be good column fodder, but it's pretty much consensus among trans women that being read as a cis woman is much safer, easier and generally more privileged than being read as a transgressively feminine man. In my case, I was shocked to realize that even though I was never perceived as a man in a dress, I still had an easier time with day to day gender stuff after transition than before, insofar as being perceived as a hundred-yarder butch dyke was way easier than being read as maybe possibly gay.


In "Whipping Girl" Julia Serano postited that as hatred of femininty=mysogyny, so discrimination of trans women is actually a clear expression of latent sexism without the veneer of militarist masculinity that prevents the more violent expressions of patriarchy day to day. This sounds smart, and it truly is smart is, and it made a big difference in getting trans women access to community and lifesaving services, but the more I think about it, and most attempts to discuss gender in anti-oppression space, the more I see people trying to discuss observations of prejudice along any axis so as to shoehorn it into what was originally a second-wave feminist frame that was extremely limited and flawed to begin with. Even most of third wave feminism is still built on this foundation, endlessly renovating the limitations of second-wave feminism to fit reality. This would be like trying to modify Lamark to account for Darwinist evolution, or trying to use the language and worldview of elemental bodily humours in Gallenic medicine to describe neurochemistry ("Prozac preserves the fiery character of the sanguine humour, thus balancing out water, and combatting melancholy. It's like a little salamander cage!").
 
The problem is that every conversation still has to satisfy this original frame. And yet the more *most people* look at gender, the more most people gather that discrimination around gender acts differently than discrimination around race, ability or birthplace. I can't think of any significant downside of being white, predominantly able-bodied, or having dual citizenship in rich countries. But even not looking at what happens to visible trans women, when we look at incarceration rates, lifespan, some forms of homelessless, and gay-bashing, it seems that being male has some really shitty sides. Contemporary feminism tries to reconcile this by describing "toxic masculinity withing a framework of classism, sexism and racism" and ventures into "patriarchy is bad for everyone" but can't seem to ever say that under many circumstances, being (perceived as) male is grounds for some pretty brutal discrimination - i.e. sexism.
 
Where this costs us is that when people come to an understanding of gender through observation first, and when those observations include watching really awful gender-related shit happen to males they care about, and then they run into feminist theory, and see that it barely acknowledges this, then hand-waves away any attempt to directly address it as a problem unto itself (because the people who disagree either "just need to be educated" or "are the enemy"). Those people then need to reconcile facts with theory. What do they do then? (1) Most people shrug, shuffle and keep their opinions behind closed doors and stay the fuck away from activism, (2) some use the feminist frame to rationalize it, (3) some (like myself) who can both keep up with academic verbal gymnastics and are not highly dependent on anti-oppression circles for security or community can defend their standpoint that acknowledges the range of observations but frames it within anti-oppression social signals in a way that doesn't have them labelled a "traitor" but they never organize because that space is a tug of war between #2 above, and the (4)th option, "Men's Rights Activism."
 
As near as I can tell, most trans people have intimate personal observations that leave us facing one of the choices above. Those of us at a distance from anti-oppression use #1, those of us in it use #2 because we know we'll lose any verbal throw-down about gender. But this was bound to happen eventually.
 
The whole MRA scene is a good example of how the left totally fails to reconcile theory (which is usually mostly accurate and wouldn't require that much change to account for data) with fact, and what happens when we do. People whose well-being depends upon a particular problem being addressed go to the right. Because the right will listen to them, give them an explanation and hope for change.
 
Another good example of this is hiring or admission quotas that acknowledge race but not class. Poor whites who used to be able to make up for being screwed by classism by benefitting from racism, lose part of that edge and now have to compete toe-to-toe with rich whites like myself. They naturally feel shafted. The left could have done the smart thing and fought for race *and* class quotas and made allies (in ways that have been *very* successful in the past like the "Fusionists," to the point that the rich whites of the South built the segregation system to undercut it), but we didn't, and instead we fight against these poor whites. So the poor whites blame anti-racism and vote for Trump. Nice work left wing. Slow clap.
 
This failure to acknowledge real problems at the top of someone else's priority list even undercuts trans activism internally. AFAB cis-spectrum people who have seen shitty things happen to themselves and other AFAB people in childhood really do have grounds to question what the hell trans women would know about that kind of sexism. Some trans women like myself had a pretty easy gender-related ride in childhood, and yeah, I don't have that particular crappy experience, and I do keep my mouth shut. Other trans women got beaten and raped as kids, specifically because they broke gender rules, and they have a *very* good idea what childhood sexism looks like. But trans activism sticks to a soundbite of "we were always girls" and hopes that no-one questions it. For the most part this works. But when it fails to grapple with people with the above observation, said people find that TERFs are ready with answers.
 
(See also: when people see corruption in unions and try to address it openly; and for the mirror Left/Right image, how police inability to deal with complaints has lead to the current media state of affairs)
 
Unfortunately, when you tries to address these problems in anti-oppression circles, unless you're a verbal ninja with in-group social status, either someone tries to "educate" you or they label you as the enemy - and even then, if you want to make change, you *never* go after the central ideological tenets. If we could deal with this and have discussions based on more on reason than ideology, we'd win over a lot more people and win a lot more battles.


 
 The dream:

Well, crap. Just when you think you've annihilated one alien warship, it turns out the entire thing is a trap and that warp in space that ran their engines is playing merry hell with the impulse drive. Which is to say: the Enterprise is going down.

We crash-land on a snow-blasted landscape. Between this and the battle, 60% survive. And, in the distance, a valley, IR, and chlorophyll. We're here for the long haul, so we descend.

The deeper you go into this green gouge in a frozen iceball, the warmer it gets. Deeper down, the people who have lived her for centuries have adapted, settled. Which means a complex series of humanoid-sized tubes running down into the lake-sized spring. It's... a waterslide.

Some of the crew, tired, a little freaked out, and now giddy, and want to hop in.

"Speaking as your cultural officer, I'd advise against that. One: Prime directive. They have waterslides, but do they have warp? Two: Warp or no, these are obviously really important to them. Like, they're the only above-ground structure. They may be signif-"

The round of whoops and splashes goes to prove that you can lead a group of shell-shocked Ensigns to water but you can't make them stay out of it.

A few mornings later, Kirk knocks and enters the buried titanium wreckage turned bunker, in which my bedroom lies. I'm groggy. Since no one is listening to their cultural officer, I've been catching up on sleep.

Kirk gives me the bad news. They've been crucified.

"Okay. How can I help?"

____________

Often, when a sci-fi movie comes out, my dreams will generate a version of it. 

Like The Maxx says: "The shows in my head are always so much better."

IS "THE COTTON CEILING" RAPEY?


It's a little more complicated than that. Consider the sentence "I'd never date a ____________"

Then rotate through a list of marginalized groups. Looks, body type, disability. Then extend from that to "our community is about sexuality. And anyone here who I wouldn't fuck is't really one of us."


Example consequences: A friend of mine is at a diner on the drive. She can hear two women checking her out - perceiving her as a hot androgynous dyke. Then one says, with a note of disugst "oh, check the tattoo" (it reads "Trans Grrl") and they back off.

A gay or lesbian "community' play party where the dominant social groups don't want to see anyone who is trans, old and/or fat.

Or someone saying "oh, she's dating a trans woman - she's not really a lesbian then"

Consider someone also saying "I'd never date a bisexual." Is a bisexual rolling her eyes at this entitled to what's in her pants, or expressing healthy exasperation.


I've also had someone set me up with her queer/lesbian-spectrum acquaintance who thought I was genderqueer-hot. But then she found out I was a trans *woman* and since, in her opinion, trans women can't be hot genderqueers (???) she dropped the idea like a hot potato. This has also happened, where someone who hit on me at a dyke march had a personal profile where she didn't want to date anyone CAMAB. Now I don't want to date either of these people. But that they'd find me attractive and then rule me out because I'm transitioning *towards* what they have explicity said they find attractive is a little fucked up, and it speaks to wider issues in terms of access to community.


Cis bisexuals, heavy people, people of colour and PWD all object to this treatment and each gets dismissed - usually in a very particular way to that group. When trans women do it, we see blogs that this objection is rapey - as that feeds into the frame that when trans women object to exclusion from women's space, we're "being intrusive," which flashes over to explaining away of any assertiveness from a trans woman in women's spaces as being an example of male instrusion, approriativeness etc...

It's a hard thing to sound bite without playing into that.

How to discuss it?
 Ah yes. I'm in a weird space where, although I'm MtF, I'm cis-passable, have never done sex-work, am economically secure (well, secure-ish after I financed a TV show on spec), have all the surgery I want and am often masculine-of-centre, and so most of the major stressors/misogyny that trans women experience, I do not. And yet I'm an advocate. When I'm around trans women I tend to STFU, and yet I'm also part of the demographic. Weird.

I don't know what to do about that. It's really important to have open discussion that deals with all possible objections, as that allows social progress to be backed by critical thought. On the other hand, so many people who don't take a certain level of societal shit don't *have a fucking clue* as to how to have those discussions with people who do - and those who do often have their hackles up 24/7... I don't know what to do. It's not just trans. Indigenous rights, disability access, etcetera, could also benefit both in the short and long term from actually hashing through common concerns and objections, and not expecting that everyone should follow the party line as that only persuades people who are already onside. I don't know what the solution is.

And without that dialogue, communities try to convince the world using really shitty arguments and half-assed sound-bites because no one has challenged them *in dialogue*

e.g.
"This war/occupation/country is illegal!" Isn't 'legal' a social construction? If this atrocity was legal (and to the people doing it, it is), would that make our bombing campaign okay? If not, then what does legal have to do with it? Isn't the problem that it's morally abhorrent and causes gross human suffering? Then go with that!



ON SEX VS. GENDER AS A GROUNDS FOR DISCRIMINATION

 Ooh. That's an interesting conversation. 

 
Looong message ahead!
 
Usually what you're describing is parsed as a matter of 'sex rather than gender.' As in "genitals and therefore sex have such a huge impact on our lives that we need to examine this separately from gender roles and identity."
 
We really do need to have a cultural dialogue around it but it's hard to get any nuance in it because of the political situation.
 
Trans people started in by using sex vs gender to appeal to a 1970s feminist rubric that introduced "gender" into the english language outside of grammar to mean what it does today, with an emphasis on gender being socially constructed and therefore fluid and consciously redirectable. However, terfs picked this up about three years ago and, since it sounds like something that excludes are trans women categorically without negotiation or ambiguity, used it to turn any existing women's organizing they could into AFAB-only (and de-facto cis-only by also riding on women's 'gender' organizing without examining the logic behind creating this intersection of cis + woman). And thus it became a terf dog whistle.
 
If they were were organizing around, say, menstruation or abortion then it might make sense - although if it were genuine it would also raise the question of whether cis women who could not menstruate or get pregnant (i.e. like trans women) should be included, and uterus-bearing trans guys would have to be included as well, one would think. It also gets used to reframe everything in terms of girlhood vs boyhood, thus making whatever trans exclusion was unacceptable last week into something that is now ideologically justifiable, even if it has nothing to do with the actual organizing. For example: the former Michigan Womyn's Music Festival - it was all about women on all of their publicity, until someone asked about trans people, and then suddenly camping, vegetarian food and folk music was reframed as all a part of healing from the trauma of girlhood... for the duration of the conversation - as soon as the conversation was over, the festival was "about women" again. And, on an ethical level, it's dodgy to shut out a highly marginalized group because a political theory says it's okay.
 
Without this damned culture war, we could examine this distinction and find nuance and I really wish we could because gender and privilege is really fucking complicated in ways the sound-bite (and thus, usually non-intersectional) liberal feminism can never grasp. And the inside scoop from trans women is that this form of privilege is, well, complicated. And "complicated" doesn't make for good dialogue when some very aggressive people are looking for any out-of-context quote to slam you with.
 
For example, when I'm dealing with particular middle-aged cis lesbians, I have to watch my tongue about playing male roles because they perceive it as using male privilege - which, admittedly, it is (although I'd rather not be in the situation where I could just audition for more female roles) - but this in their eyes undercuts my gender identity. However, for no logical reason, cissexed butch women, and cis women with masculine frames and voices, are never subject to this judgment and are even celebrated for dealing with basically the same problem (being blocked from most female roles) by doing exactly the same thing. This double standard happens in a lot of circumstances, which is one reason why I limit involvement with anything lesbian - that and the cold shoulder that my usually-bi girlfriends receive.
 
The actual experience of trans women in childhood and its relative measure of shittyness to what cis women experience varies from context to context much as it does with adult experiences. In adult life, I know some corporate trans women who transitioned in middle age who were like "Wow. I used to be on top and now I'm at the bottom," much as one would expect. I also know trans women who will talk how the amount of sexual harassment has gone *down* since they transitioned, since they were perceived as feminine gay men who were 24/7 fair game for masculine dudes before, but now, although they pass as cis, men don't bother them as much because there are clearer social codes around what's not acceptable. In my case, as an adult, I switched from being perceived as a somewhat gender-variant man to being perceived as a highly gender-variant woman, and I actually find that latter is a lot easier day to day. Some trans guys are very surprised to find that transitioning to passing as cis-male makes their gendered life a lot harder this could be a matter of gender expression (the opposite of my experience) or race (e.g. *some* black, indigenous and latino dudes who experience a sharp uptick in police harassment during transition).
 
And so, likewise for childhood. It was, counter to what I would expect from theory, kind of the opposite of my adult experience: since I was not very  feminine, my childhood was usually very easy up until puberty at least. And I keep this in mind and give space to people, cis or trans, who did run headlong into sexism. For me, there was some gender stuff in the way, but my mom was a liberal feminist and she helped *a lot* and so it wasn't awful, just the usual run of shit that a lot of people, trans and cis, put up with. So I try to be mindful of this privilege. Outside of myself though, I don't have as many anecdotes because I don't talk about it much with my friends - very much on purpose. Some flat out refuse to discuss it because of whatever happened to them. That's often when a lot of people's PTSD suicide attempts started, so something must have been bad. Some people over 40 got institutionalized. A weirdly high number of people were perceived as transgressively feminine and therefore 'defective' and fair game for intensive bullying or rape, and for them, the social permission to walk around outside meant nothing when they were subject to all the things one would fear would happen to a cis girl if she was allowed out (but none of the social repercussions for the people causing the harm), and being allowed to take shop instead of home ec doesn't really make up for that - especially because shop had more intensive bullying. So when someone uses this to exclude them from women's organizing? To hold the wrong gender over them now as it was them and use it again to leave them to fend for their selves strikes me as lacking compassion, but probably because the people doing it are acting on a shortsighted understanding.
 
What's the logical error in this? Consider the following: most of the powerful and wealthy people in the world are assigned male. Being assigned male is correlated with privilege. Therefore trans women share this privilege.
 
The flaw in this argument becomes clear when you substitute "attracted to women" for "assigned male:"
 
"Most of the powerful and wealthy people in the world are predominately attracted to women. Being predominantly attracted to women is correlated with privilege. Therefore lesbians share this privilege."
 
It's a matter of intersections and complications. If someone has no sandwich and you have a peanut butter sandwich, is that a privilege? Yes, unless you're allergic to peanuts. Likewise, assigned male? Like girls? Great, if you're a dude. Not so great if you're not - probably. But there are always variances and exceptions, from individual to individual.
 
Does that make anything clearer?

Before anyone goes off on the usual Jedi propaganda rant, I'd like to point out that the whole damn Jedi order presided over a 5-millenium "republic" with zero innovation, and rather a lot of slavery. The Sith by contrast - an organization consisting of two people - pushed massive technological leaps in one generation. Of course the only ones you hear about are clone troopers, star destroyers and death star(s), and lightsabres other than a single blade, but which side is writing those movies? Also: think of the peacetime applications! Cloned organs, cities in space reducing ecological footprints (do you want your planet to turn into another Coruscant?), and the ability to supply the entire galaxy with its mining needs with just one planet blown up every decade or so! Oh, and lightsaber-based food processors and lawnmowers.

And you can join at any age, and are allowed to love.

_________

 
Actually, the non-satirical reason is that I can project myself onto a fictional character who is moved by her shadow, in touch with her id. Playing KOTOR, I realized that Lucas's good vs. evil barely holds up if you take long enough to think about it, and the Jedi are better at looking good than doing good. They are incapable of making real change. They are feel-good in-activism presented as glory. They are the state's dictum that legitimate agency in opposition to injustice starts at calm dialogue, moves into sign-carrying, and stops at passive resistance. All other forms of making change have been ruled out, cast into the shadow.

From there, both personally and politically, in projecting myself onto the "bad guy" within this narrative context, I can enter into dialogue with the parts of myself forced out of conscious acceptance (i.e. into the shadow), weigh them and give the parts that I like time to develop within a safe fictional shell. I do this with larp characters, and can separate those impulses which I fear into those I have and can/should use, those that I have and should only direct outwards when in a safe place while keeping in compassionate awareness for when I see other people living them, and those which I merely fear that I have. From this, I have learned: I can present in a dorky feminine fashion without the world ending; had, in the past, survivor guilt that I needed to acknowledge; I intuitively understand why people would submit to a tyrannical regeime but should only exercise that in my actual politics so as to fight that impulse in real life; and am basically, even when playing an awful person, motivated by fixing the world. 
I'm emailing you for a reason that I don't normally email people. I'm weirdly pissed-off after a few larp incidents in the last week. I emphasize *weirdly* as opposed to "really." The incidents started with the last Changeling game, continued on through trying to talk things out with Craig (nothing bad happened, it just relates to the below), and capped off with a not-very-successful conversation about Werewolf, and changes in gaming both mechanical and surrounding race, and how acknowledging these might assist in increasing the player base.
 
What's weird is that it's just been eating at me, and I keep think I've done the final private vent-to-myself, and I've even written a couple polemics, but I keep feeling angry. I guess I feel like I'm butting up against exactly the same problems in larp that I've seen repeatedly over the last seventeen years - at the same time as one of my favorite games (LutLL) closed down. Which was also tied into a process I started in therapy, which is creating some other weird feelings. The problems seem to run as follows.
 
(1) I realize that while a few multiple-game PCs I had left play voluntarily, most of the characters I've seen removed from play followed the same pattern - I tried to introduce some moral ambiguity or microcultural change into the game, and another character killed them as part of enforcing what said cahracter saw as an obvious moral system.
(2) I keep having the same unsuccessful conversation with STs about adapting improv and storygame principles. I actually started to get buy in from one recently who stated that one of J's birthday games was one of the best larp experiences he'd ever had, then spun around and got back to focusing on starting a WW troupe game.
(3) And, well, werewolf came out the year I started gaming and it hasn't changed. Even the revised 2nd ed larp book version seems to have more interest in small mechanical changes than addressing its shit.
 
So I applaud L's attempt to break the Cam monopoly with a game about interpersonal politics, but right now, for me, changing this hobby/medium that I love, or even creating space for alternatives feels frustratingly hard, like every out is blocked by some extra problem.
 
That's all I got. 
One of the problems we ran into with crowdfunding The Switch - A Transgender Comedy is that our community's spending patterns are unlike most others. While most Kickstarters would exponentially grow towards a goal and then exceed it, often easily doubling or quintupling their goal, ours crested the minimum before the halfway mark, and then... dropped, then rose and then dropped again. So while your average Kickstarter that asked for $50,000 and hit that goal less than halfway through would go on to $140,000-$190,000, our donation graph waffled and settled at $62,500ish. People gave what they could, and we got what we needed, but that's it.

As near as I can tell, the determining factors seem to be:
- People were reducing their donations because most of us are flat broke and so won't give more money than the minimum. Under different circumstances, the people contributing money would be running a fundraiser themselves just to pay rent

- Following the above, because of the lack of money, and the reliance on social media, our in-community-fundraiser per individual rate is high compared to many other demographics. We also get asked for a large amount of online micro-volunteering: fill out this human rights survey, help me complete my project, sign this petition, argue with this bigot. It's like the annual Christmas charity fatigue, only it's year round.

What worked for us really well was in-person calls to action. Can you give us used stuff? Could you cut us a deal on rentals? Do you have extra food? Trans and Cis people and businesses both pitched in huge for those, and it brought down the cost of our shoot to where we could afford to finish it. We also found that asking "Can you show up and help out in person?" was, for trans folk, a "push" rather than a "pull" - it offered community contact and a sense of meaning to people who are often isolated and depressed, and people came out and volunteered their time. These don't work well when you're trying to drum up nationwide support, but for local community stuff, it's amazing. 
Having been back and forth on this issue a lot over the last few years, I've lost any confidence in the validity of the question as to where the self begins and ends. I can find no logically sound test that indicates whether individual identity under a given case is continuous or not. It seems to ultimately come down to a cultural semantic argument, and the closest cognitive science can come is that the "self" is a projection, convenient within a brain and across them for labelling, tracking and predicting behaviour patterns.

Growing from an infant into a child into an adult; having the body replace its own cells and/or chemicals; becoming unconscious; brain damage; near death experiences; religious rebirth; spiritual experiences; disassociative states; being ridden; psychopharmaceuticals; losing a limb; abiotic prosthetic implants; organ transplants; tissue scaffolded pseudotransplants; cranial magnetic interference; bundle theory; it's the ship of Theseus by a thousand names. Each argument describing a true core self as something other than opinion or tradition strays either into the ad hoc or unfalsifiable metaphysics.

That's not to say that there is not a "self," but there is no way of deliniating where it begins and ends that holds up to empirical testing. It makes the question "does God exist" seem simple by comparison.

And this fuzziness is just one of the philosophical questions that can drive an amazing show! 

(And how you can't say who is better off, a person who experiences, x1y1z3, vs x2y2z1 vs x1y4z1.5)

_____

Actually I think that some forms of privilege not only can be quantified, but should. In fact, quantification is what allows us to determine whether a given social category is a form of privilege or oppression, and this has real consequences.


Examples:

When people want to deny trans women access to women's resources like emergency shelters, they usually argue that trans women have too much male privilege. Without quantification, this can only be contested through an ideological argument that ultimately has no measure of falsifiability (it can't be proven to be wrong) and thus is irresolvable. This then leads to a decades-long stalemate between the (thankfully increasingly rare) women's organizations with moderate to low resrouces and trans people with low to no resources. If, instead, we ask what the criteria are for admission to this shelter (limited income, risk of violence from partner, in society and in men's shelters) we can establish that trans and cis women both need to get into these things - actually, trans women, on average, need them more. Were the people trying to exclude trans folk to actually listen to this form of argument, access would improve and with it, quality of life.

Another example is the frequent claim in politics that indigenous people have it easy and clearly have a form of privilege over white people - due to band bursaries, reduced taxes and government programs. If one quantifies the very limited value of these (frequently slow) bursaries (which are limited to people with membership of a band that can afford them), the marginal gain from buying goods tax-free less the opportunity cost that comes from living on reserve (which is necessary to get these discounts), and the actual value of these government programs, and then if one compares it to the cash value of white employability, reduced police harassment and the average intergenerational wealth transfer, one can conclude that the average's individual's person's experience, it is actually the case being white that is a form of privilege versus being indigenous. This has policy implications. And it has numerous parallels in other discussions over equity measures.

While many incidents of privilege are still hard to quantify, the social categories through that determine when and how they occur often track with quality of life data, and from this, you ca get a picture of what's easier. This can allow apply within one form of privilege - for example, the 1965 book The Vertical Mosaic quantified different forms of racial privilege in Canada, and this ranking of racial ancestry versus life outcomes and political power still holds. From this, one can also state that, for example, all forms of neurodiversity (mild ASD vs Schizophrenia) are not equal burdens - and this too can be quantified, as is done with physical ability in the Paralympics.

Using this method, you actually can answer the questions above. You can do so holistically, or for each variable or combination thereof as experienced differently by two people of differing social situation. When the numbers are so close as to be swayed by small difference in interpretation, you can conclude that both can expect roughly equal but different outcomes. But when there is no reasonable equivalence, you can say who has it worse off in a given category (and the situations in which it has an effect), or overall.



CARRIAGES OUT OF PHASE

I get that it cuts down on maintenance and administrative overhead. The thing that makes me nervous about these new London/suburb commuter trains is how they phase through each-other. You don't want the front car - because it's never pleasant to see a cargo train hurtling towards you. Yes, sitting inside, you still get flickers of boxes, sheep and big orange steel doors hurtling through your frame of vision (and you). And I'm not clear on what keeps the tracks solid to all phase-frames. And in retrospect, I wonder about the combined weight. But the thing that scares me is what happens if the phase cuts out?

And as much as I want to believe that this is a stop-gap just to sort things out in congested bottlenecks due to track failures and the like (and once, it was), I can't help but notice that, in it's third year, until you get far away from London Central, you still have five or seven trains stacked on top of each-other's position, often for minutes at a time. It's unnerving. What exactly can go wrong here?


(Waking life - Thinking about the practical applications of different kinds of dark matter, taking transit)


---------------------

It's spacious, I'll give it that. Large and blue, like the whale of the same name as it rests in docks downtown on the Thames. We conduct a training exercise, and I hope that my loader won't prep all the tubes with nukes. Perhaps an independent Scotland doesn't want them anymore, but still, what are we supposed to do with them? Escalation and nuclear winter much?

Well, it turns out those extraterrestrials were kind of hostile. The flames are high as we pile a refugee crew across the deck and down the ladder. I'm second to last in, telling the last one through - he's a green one - that he needs to dog the hatch from the inside. Y'know, so we don't drown. The rest are automated, as is much of the craft. And I see that he does it.

In the main hall (so much better than those cramped WWII models) I survey the 30 or so folk who will be our sea-family for the next who knows how long. It's a good thing this ship is automated. Half of them have never been on a boat before. I really hope the Invaders don't have the kind of radar that can spot us down here. Anyone know if they do or not? Anyone? Well, I guess if we don't we'll not live long enough to regret it.

And those two, with their child. They seem... off, indifferent to their offspring. Maybe it's that greenish cast? ... Oh crap, the parents are dopplegangers. Well, even if they are infiltration devices of hostile alien overlords, they're part of our crew now. Holding their (human) infant though, they realyl don't give a damn about that tiny squalling human-larva. We can't trust 'em with her. And we don't exactly have formula down here, and she doesn't understand why she should give a shit enough to breastfeed. The infant seems to like my nipple enough. Let's dope me up with that bio-remediation gel we purloined from the hostiles. That can reprogram a cat into a garbage-truck-sized war machine, and the interface is intuitive (as in, it actually responds to thought - which makes it dangerous to an untrained user, like said cat, now roving the suburbs of Lancaster, obliterating houses whenever it spots something small and moving, like humans). I can lactate. And commanders don't get to sleep anyways.

Anyways. Let's give this thing the once over before we get out into sea. Leaking a little water, I see. That's normal if unnerving. I hope it's condensation... but I think it's salty. Down towards engineering then. We're orienting the newbies, the basic tasks aren't that hard, and the rest we can leave to the existing specialists? I hope. That crewperson looks a lot like a certain actress. In a TV uniform. Oh hell, the swagger. Did someone try to be a useful crew and hack their cells (and mind) to mimic Kara "Starbuck" fucking Thrace? And she's giving lip to her commander. Or trying to. She thinks that my assistant Robert here is her commander - he doesn't look like Edward James Olmos, but I guess he does more than me. That's why you shouldn't play with the gel.

Who did this? You two! No, over here, I'm the C.O. Yes I'm a woman. Hence the infant earlier sucking at my tit in front of you lot. What's that glare for? You doped her up with gel knowing it would skew her into insubordination. Hah! Cute! We need strong teamwork here or we all drown, starve, suffocate, or get blasted from the sky. Thirty for you and sixty days in the brig for you. We should probably fix the lights in there, but it's not a priority. We can let them out in half time if they're well behaved.

Moving on! We have a life undersea to get used to and not enough time to do it.



(Waking life: playing X-Com, reading about induced lactation for adoptive parents - I have no idea where the Britain theme come from)

I'm not sure I agree with the subtext.

As someone who both drives as part of her job and bikes to work, I find that bicyclists are in a pinch due to lazy regulation. Legally bikes are vehicles in BC - because the province saw them as a luxury item when they wrote the law. Saying, "this is like a car" is the only way of articulating safety rules in conversation with motorists. Idaho, by contrast, actually took a look at how bikes work (they're small, manouverable, don't do that much damage when they hit a car, and are a pain in the ass to get going from a full stop) and revised their laws accordingly - red car lights are bike stop signs; stop signs are bike yields. And they've kept it on the books for decades. I'm not entirely sure what the multiple lane rule cited here refers to, but when I bike on a 3-lane road with 1 lane of parking, I have the choice of either getting tailgated and possibly killed or getting doored and probably hurt - I choose the latter until I run into a wide vehicle or one where someone might open their door, so there's a bit of back and forth between lanes. I signal as possible, but since people often pull into my lane without shouder checking, I sometimes have to change lanes fast and that requires two hands.

By contrast, when I'm in a van delivering film gear, I really don't give a damn if someone is bicycling on the road like a fool. As long as the only thing they're going to run into my 2-tonne steel box on wheels, it's their neck to risk. I don't have any major physical disabilities so If I don't like being a motorist sharing the roads with human power vehicles, I can suck it up and bike.

Unfortunately, because of a few yahoos, most motorists assume that all bikes are driven incorrectly. When biking, people will honk and gesticulate at me for, say, executing a left turn into the closest lane of traffic, as per the law on left turns, or kicking off of the sidewalk via a curb cut (am I supposed to *walk* my bike onto the road?). This extends to accidents - at work, a crewmember backed up into traffic, and a cyclist went through his window. The emerg responders blamed the cyclist for things like going top speed (30km/hr, down a hill, on a bike route), even though he had right of way. Had it been a car going at its legal limit of 50km/hr (about 2.7 times the kinetic energy per unit of mass and at least 10x the mass = 27 times the impact), both vehicles would have been fucked and someone could have been very badly hurt. So yes there are some yahoo jocks pedaling their bikes like complete tools, but at least they're being yahoos on bikes and as opposed to behaving like that behind the wheel of a car. But if we made some cycling rules that actually make sense, and did not treat bikes as cars (and then perhaps enforced them), they might start to obey them.

In response to the usual:

 

 I once read through a long list of journal articles cited by a high-profile site claiming to link autism to vaccines, but among them, the only clear scientifically-tested, statistically-rigorous statements I could find was that huge amounts of research could find no link between the two (other than that which Andrew Wakefield turns out to have faked, much to our cultural detriment). Yes, there are rising rates of autism, but I find it more plausible that this is likely due to increased awareness of autism leading to increased detection, and increased rates of geeks and STEM professionals (who are often on the autism spectrum themselves) marrying and making babies with each-other. Or maybe it's how we're raising our kids. Or maybe it's a lack of tapeworm Who knows? Paralleling vaccines and autism, there are also rising rates of personal computers, and declining rates of high-wasted pants, and I see no link between any of these variables, although I would be happy to read a study claiming an epigentic link between the height of one's pants and the likelihood that one's child will own a macbook.


As to the claim that there is a huge industry driving this bias in study - I woudl ask, which costs more: getting a shot in the arm, or landing in intensive care with the measles?

Further, if it is the case that 1 in 68 people are on the autism spectrum, then they clearly most are not that far our on the spectrum, and so most are capable of having a life that is normal. And by "is normal," I mean, "includes a physically easy job with a high salary."

Speaking as someone on the spectrum myself (with ancestors who were probably also on the spectrum, but who were not diagnosed, leading to the appearance that I'm the "first"), I don't just get by with being autism spectrum, I *rely on* it every day when I do my job as a Line Producer, which involves financial math that most neurotypical (i.e. non-autism-spectrum) people either can't do or don't enjoy. If this job bottoms out, I will go quickly re-train and make six figures as a coder within two years, or maybe I'll go into industrial electric control systems, or maybe I'll get elected to public office seeing as I'm very capable of holding debates and have learned the necessary social and team skills to pull off a campaign.

If vaccines did somehow nudge people's brains towards the spectrum, I'd actually recommend them for people who were math-adverse, so that I'd be able to talk film tax systems with more people without their eyes glazing over. But since all vaccines seem to do is prevent infectious diseases for the user *and the people around them* with extremely low risks of side-effects, I'd still suggest taking vaccines so that my generation doesn't go through what my unvaccinated (but still autism-spectrum) ancestors did when they had lifelong consequences (and dead schoolmates) from infectious diseases.
 The more I write more opinion columns for Daily Xtra​, the more I attention to how other columnists do their job. One common method is to be needlessly inflammatory, substituting rhetoric for reason while ignoring the arguments of those who disagree with you and generally using logical fallacies to advance an agenda that your audience already agrees with. But you can also make logical arguments founded on well-cited data - and you can combine it with passion and wit. If you do it well, you should change the minds of your own readers. Or at least advance the dialogue with people who disagree with you.
 
So I try to make sure that every column I write is based in a combination of past study and present research. I know it works if it challenges my assumptions to the point where my conclusion is no longer the same as when I started writing it. And I like to think that this is why I hold my opinions. Because opinions can be facts, or they can at least be well-grounded in facts. But we forget this.
 
When we see that we can prove how transuranic elements decay, but we can't ultimately answer prove what god(s) want(s) us to do with our genitals or if ze/they exist(s), we conclude that particle physics and gay rights are totally separate realms of argument, subject to different rules. It's true that the morality of an action cannot ultimately be logically proven. However, the components of an argument that reach a moral conclusion *can.* Thus, while it is reasonable to take a pass on the issue of divine interest in our groins, we can prove whether or not gay marriage affects particular social indicators. And while we know how plutonium turns into other elements in very dangerous ways, we cannot prove the morality of eating it - we know the latter is lethal to the diner and probably everyone around them, but we can't actually prove it's wrong. 
 
The reason I don't agree with a lot of culturally conservative viewpoints is not one of mere bias. I grew up in a conservative area where these viewpoints were the vast majority. I know them. When I moved, I saw the arguments for and against various issues, and realized that usually, especially on cultural issues, the left simply has stronger arguments. Often this was because the left had arguments that engaged with the right while the right had arguments that engaged with little other than re-stating a baseless opinion.
 
That there is no quantifiable social detriment to gay marriage, and that there is no evidence to support that trans inclusion will have a detrimental impact on quality of life is part of why these causes tend to win in court, even before judges with contrasting politics - because judges are called upon to meticulously and publicly justify their opinion, and when your entire professional body of work is weighed on that basis, it's harder to go off the rails.
 
So I believe it is a columnists' job to construct arguments that are sound, grounded, relevant and interesting. And the more I look at other people in the field of punditry, I wish that other columnists covering issues relevant to human rights would do their damn job too.
 
Failing that (see, this is where the wit comes in), I would be happy to see less dutiful columnists address particle physics, or neurology, or paediatric nursing with the same reckless knee-jerk usually-conservative abandon that they treat human rights. Because I would actually enjoy reading someone's take on what Leviticus says about Bohr's model of the atom, or how they just weren't raised to believe in spindle neurons, or how we can alleviate respiratory ailments by just having a stronger work ethic. That would still be illogical, but at least it would be creative.

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June 2016

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