In this edition: the last word on Rachel Dolezal, federated social media, copyright-protected laws, a painful transcript, seeing colors that aren’t there, and a sex coven.

Also, I’m probably a month or two late here. The problem with living in a tumultuous time is that news breaks so frequently. Bear with me.

Power, Privilege, and Social Circles

If you haven’t read Ijeoma Oluo’s piece in The Stranger about Rachel Dolezal (and her follow-up cautious commentary about making parallels to gender identity), you should drop everything and read it. Then clean up the mess you made by dropping everything, you slob.

Treating politics as an abstract consideration, like a spherical cow in a vacuum, is a privilege that not everyone has, writes Ania Onion Bula.

Phil of Texts & Pleasure points out that the privileged often assume they are uniquely capable of persuading their political opponents through reason and intellect, and we need to cut that shit out.

When you refuse to kick toxic people out of social spaces, you’re giving them the ability to shape what your group looks like–the burden of which is borne by the disadvantaged.

There’s an unfortunate tendency for white male nerds to “gatekeep” hobbies like board games and insist that women are invaders in their space. Nicole at The Whole Nicole has a reminder to those men: women deserve to feel comfortable in their hobby too. The fine gents at Shut Up and Sit Down make a similar call for inclusivity.

Hey fellow white mental health professionals: we must be competent enough to not perpetuate racist trauma on our clients of color. We should all read Chaya Babu’s column on the matter and adjust our practice accordingly.

Portland has a reputation for being a liberal utopia, but in the wake of the recent fatal stabbing by a white supremacist, Zahir Janmohamed points out, it’s time to realize: Portland isn’t as liberal as we think.

Alexandra Erin makes the excellent point that in times of disaster and catastrophe, we reify our beliefs about human nature and community. Check out that thread.

Internet For the People, By the People

The internet might be the last great communications technology–and if it falls to corporate hegemony, says Quincy Larson, we will have lost a truly revolutionary technology. This is why Net Neutrality is so damn important.

A “dig once” bill would make installing fiber optic cables much more affordable by encouraging governments to install conduits whenever roads were constructed, to be filled with cables later. What an eminently reasonable idea.

Bruce Schneier’s The Value of Privacy is over ten years old, and yet it’s still just as relevant today as ever. Give it a read and some consideration.

For years, I’ve been interested in open-source, federated social networks: social networks that anyone can host. Sarah Jeong at Motherboard writes about the latest contender making a splash: Mastodon. I’m crossing my fingers (against the odds) that this is the one that takes off.

Also, there’s Scuttlebutt, a peer-to-peer social network system built on the idea of “gossip” that works even when off the grid. I know, sounds wild to me too.

Mike Caulfield: Media literacy doesn’t have to be complicated.

At Gutterstats, Joey has a fascinating explanation of how a computer learns the language of the “doggo” meme.


Gig economy companies, like Uber, Fiverr, and TaskRabbit, are tapping into our Protestant cultural values to glorify working ourselves to death, writes Jia Tolentino in The New Yorker.

At The Concourse, Albert Burneko points out that the more frightening thing about Chicago police dragging a United passenger off a plane is how Americans are bending over backwards to justify it. The corporation doesn’t always have to win, you know.

In the state of Georgia, writes Joe Mullen, distributing the full text of the official state law will get you slapped with copyright violation. Also worth considering is the promoted comment by user ip_what pointing out the legal power this gives LexisNexis, the private company tasked with maintaining the official text of the law.

Writing for the New York Times, Jim Koch sees a grim future for American craft beer. There’s good discussion on the BeerAdvocate community forums. My intentionally simplistic suggestion: go out and support some local craft breweries this weekend.

I don’t keep a lot of company with libertarians, but they crop up in my circles now and then. Scott Alexander’s Non-Libertarian FAQ is my new go-to resource for those discussions.

The minimum wage is under attack, and Sam Wallman’s got the deets in his comic, If They Could Pay Us Less, They Would.

Authoritarians, Autocrats, and the Un-Drained Swamp

Andrew E. Kramer in the NYT writes about the Chechen government’s campaign of torturing gay (and presumably bi) men, happening today.

The Atlantic‘s James Fallows: “If an administration will lie about facts where the contradictory evidence is in plain sight, how can we possibly believe them on anything else?

Ari Berman at The Nation: “ The story isn’t that both sides are to blame for hyper-partisanship in Washington. It’s that one party believes in democracy and the other does not.

TIME Washington Bureau Chief Michael Scherer interviewed President Trump about truth and falsehoods. The full transcript is available on TIME‘s site, and hoo boy, reading it is an unparalleled experience.

Scholar of authoritarianism Sarah Kendzior wonders in The Globe and Mail what could possibly go wrong when we praise our egocentric, glory-craving president for dropping bombs. Gee, that’s a stumper.

I had no idea what was going on over in Turkey until I read this NYT piece by Suzy Hansen about Erdogan and Turkey’s growing authoritarianism. Fascism isn’t just jackbooted thugs dragging people away–it’s citizens convincing each other that civil liberties are unnecessary.

This profile of Bob Mueller and Jim Comey by Garrett M. Graff reads like a thriller. Check it.

“Laws which are “blind” to asymmetries which exist in the world have asymmetric results.” Yonatan Zunger is killing it in this piece about how banning hate speech is not an attack on free speech. (Hear that, ACLU?)


Also from Scott Alexander: some interesting thoughts on asphyxiation reflexes and panic.

Did the color-bending sorcery of visual perception confound you when you looked at that picture of The Dress? Prepare to be even angrier.

Courtney Kist’s recounting of her experiences in a “queer sex coven” over at Autostraddle sounds so caring and comfortable and joyous and lovely and 😍. Did you know that I’m all about intentional community-building? Because spoiler alert: I am. (Link has very NSFW sexual text.)

For my money, Film Crit Hulk is one of our most insightful critics and commentators today.  This time: on dystopia, fascism, class divide, and differing abilities to see society functioning.

I’ve been getting into Android: Netrunner lately. It’s a kickass two-player card game with a thick cyberpunk theme. Clayton Purdom’s piece at Kill Screen, Why Netrunner Matters, takes a detailed look at the concept of cyberpunk and why Netrunner does it so well.

Apparently, people are being dicks about fidget spinners… in the most contrived ways possible. In Current Affairs, Nathan J. Robinson makes the case that, y’know, it’s okay to like things.

Remember when cheesy chain brewpubs were everywhere? I mean, I don’t, because I was a child in the 1990’s, but Aaron Goldfarb does, and his retrospective is fun.

I recently binged the (current) entirety of the McElroy brothers’ Dungeons and Dragons podcast, The Adventure Zone. It’s so good. Over at The Mary Sue, Katelyn Best has captured a lot of my feelings about why it rocks.

Header photo is public domain via Unsplash. Link icon by Noe Araujo from the Noun Project (CC BY 3.0).