Activism Political Commentary

Oppression against public opinion

A WaPo Poll Found That Significant Majorities Support Pro-Trans Policies, But Reported The Exact Opposite by Parker Malloy (The Present Age) on May 8 2023

WaPo polling found most people (57%) didn’t think being transgender was a real thing, but also that most believed trans people should receive protections regardless:

  • 71% of adults support laws banning discrimination against trans people by medical professionals.
  • 72% of adults support laws banning discrimination against trans people from getting health insurance.
  • 69% of adults support laws banning discrimination against transgender people in K-12 schools.
  • 73% of adults support laws banning discrimination against transgender people at their jobs and workplaces.
  • 74% of adults support laws banning discrimination against transgender people in housing.

Fascists and religious extremists are imposing their hateful views on all of us, against our common values. Forced birth is not popular. Discrimination against trans people is a minority viewpoint.

Corporations are driven by profit and simper into pathetic compliance at the merest whisper of manufactured exploitative outrage from fascists, but the rest of us don’t have to go along with it.


May Anti-Trans Legislative Risk Map by Erin Reed (Erin in the Morning) on May 20, 2023

Map illustrating the risk of anti trans legislation in each state, with a general trend of the West and Northeast being lowest risk.

This map illustrates a stark divide. Nearly all states with any potential for passing harsh anti-trans laws have done so… On the other hand, states with a low likelihood of passing such laws have enacted highly protective legislation, including refuge/shield laws that block extradition and investigations into care from out of state.

Health Political Commentary Society

Whose responsibility is contraception?

Liked Vasectomy: The US men embracing permanent birth control (

Google Trends tracked a huge uptick in US searches for ‘vasectomy’, along with the related search terms “Roe” and “abortion”; search volume was even higher in places with trigger laws. A report from telehealth research company Innerbody Research showed searches for “where can I get a vasectomy” increased by 850% in the days after the news, with the biggest jumps in conservative states Texas and Florida. One practice in Florida told CBS News that the number of child-free men getting vasectomies under the age of 30 had doubled since the ruling.

Responsibility for birth control, even for long-term couples, has long fallen disproportionately to women; female sterilisation, oral contraceptives, IUDs and other options for women remain the most common forms of birth control in the US.

Honestly I was surprised at the breakdown of birth control. Nineteen percent rely on getting their tubes tied versus nine percent counting on their partner getting a vasectomy. Thirteen percent are on the pill, and another thirteen use the shot, ring and IUDs. (As of 2017.)

Littlejohn says real societal change will require a different line of thinking. “As long as we see this as something that men are doing to ‘lend a hand to their partners’ and being noble, in service of their partners’ not being able to prevent pregnancy,” she says, it perpetuates a narrative that men aren’t the default responsible party for contraception.

I like that conservatives are all “lol we’re going to make you have all the babies 😂 enjoy poverty suckers” and dudes are like “😳 wait I didn’t sign up for this.” Evangelicals are so out of touch with society they think everyone’s a misogynist like them who wants to treat their women like broodmares and have a dozen kids. Thankfully for women, that is not the case.

I am scared they’re coming for our birth control next, but I doubt they’ll restrict vasectomies because misogyny — they aren’t liable to give up control over their own bodies, they just want to control ours.

Lol ten years ago I wrote a shitty NaNo novel that was like a Hunger Games mashup with forced sterilization and forced birth and it was not nearly brutal enough. I’m someone who’s well off and lives in a blue state and likely will always have access to the contraception of my choice — and it still fucking sucks to live in a USA where I have to question if that will change. So I can see the appeal in a permanent option that would protect my decision not to have kids.

Society The Internet Websites

Build to last, or move fast and break shit?

Replied to How Websites Die (Wesley’s Notebook)

I’m frustrated by so much of the short-term thinking I see in the world today, and the way we think about websites is a part of that: it’s “normal” for them to just go up in smoke as soon as their authors stop paying attention. People switch platforms and providers and break links without a second thought. It pains me to see people build websites with no feeling of obligation to them — when you put something out into the world, it is your responsibility to care for it.

At the same time, I wonder if this obsession with permanence is misplaced.

This goes back to, what does a writer owe their readers? Nothing.

But what does a publisher owe their readers — because when we self-publish on our own websites and the material is available nowhere else, that may confer a greater obligation to preservation.

If nothing else, it is thoughtful and kind to consider your readers. To dismiss that your words have any carrying value may be a reflection more of poor self-worth or self-confidence.

Yet… even books are not so long-lived as we may presume. Most (?) books don’t get multiple printings — they have a limited lifespan, and that is just fine. To achieve cultural relevancy, works often lock themselves into a limited duration of relevance, some shorter than others, depending how close they hew to pop culture. The genre and readers’ expectations shape a book’s cultural durability, too — romance books seem to have a ten- to twenty- year limit currently, as the cultural mores around relationships and feminism are deeply ingrained in the stories. Bodice rippers were apparently important to the formation of the genre, but are no longer relevant — clear on-page consent, and usually explicit mention of protection, is a vital element of the genre today, and “dubcon” (dubious consent) is a specific niche market. I suspect most non-fiction writing is the same as fiction, in that it reflects the current knowledge, thinking, and cultural context when it was written.

[M]aking things last on the web is hard because the web was not made to build things that last.

This is an interesting observation I haven’t really considered before.

For my part, I try to think as I’m launching things about what my commitment to them is, and to be explicit about that.

I also like to consider my intent upfront: is it perennial or annual? In general I’m a fan of “build to last,” but sometimes that doesn’t fit the form or purpose of a project. I have run a time-constrained art project with a fixed duration, as well as a short-term art activism web-based project. From the start, I knew they had limited lifespans. I’ve left the time-constrained project online as a “magazine,” but it may not last forever — because of the personal nature of some of the reflections, there may come a time when I no longer feel they accurately reflect my experience, and could take them down.

I also don’t want to lock myself in to preservation when it no longer serves me; before this mind garden, was a portfolio website I hand-coded in 2011, which wasn’t responsive so Google penalized me for being bad on mobile. It was a sunk cost that I lived with for years because I felt bad destroying something I’d made, even though it was a pain in the neck to update and no longer reflected my visual preference or served my needs.

Sometimes, ephemerality adds to a work. Mandalas are destroyed as soon as they are created, their temporary nature inherent to the value of the form. Craig Mod recently ran a one-week email newsletter about walking Tokyo. He noted that knowing the newsletter wouldn’t be publicly archived anywhere made him feel more comfortable going in without a plan, letting each day’s subject come or not, and allowing himself to “publish to email” his inchoate, unfinished, unrefined thoughts.

During the early web, redesigning my website was part of the fun for me. A way to reinvent myself through new organization and style, and learn how to use my tools better. The internet is a sandbox, and we all play here a different way.

History Science Society

The same scientist created fertilizer and TNT

Watched The Scientist Who Killed Millions and Saved Billions by Geoff Barrett from

Fritz Haber is the scientist who arguably most transformed the world.

And chlorine gas as a chemical weapon for use in the trenches.

And a poisonous gas used on the Jews in the Holocaust (after his death).

And from the concept of harvesting energy from broken or formed chemical bonds, used for TNT, only another twenty years till nukes (my connection so may be factually incorrect)…

But his discovery of a process to extract atmospheric nitrogen into usable form allows four billion more people to live on Earth than it could otherwise support.

So how should we think of him?

I both like and dislike Derek’s framing at the end to consider the inventor irrelevant, that someone else would have done it if he hadn’t. I appreciate the thought of not creating a hero or villain out of ordinary people who don’t know what their research may yield. I also like pulling back to the perspective that other scientists were working on the same problem, so even if he hadn’t found these, someone else would.

Yet, I’m wary of absolving responsibility for our creations. This goes straight back to Frankenstein, not wanting to deal with his monster. But in the real world, I hold Truman responsible for dropping the atomic bomb, even if it could have been FDR if his health endured. And I hold the scientists of the Manhattan Project responsible for their creation. Taking responsibility is the first step in repairing and recompensing harm, and excusing those who actually made or did something bad feels like denying any move towards restoration. It is possible to do harm without the intent; you are still responsible for the harm you cause, even as we can grant more grace for mistakes when they are admitted.


Life Advice from Neil Postman

Bookmarked Neil Postman’s Advice on How to Live the Rest of Your Life (

Some of his advice I like, and some makes him sound like an asshole. Here are the bits I agreed with or found worth thinking about.

Do not watch TV news shows or read any tabloid newspapers. Life, as it is, is terrifying enough.
In every age, it’s the same story, life is too busy and there’s too much news. I think part of the problem is we live in a globalized world but never learned how to think like we do when most of our lives are so local. We feel this responsibility to be global citizens when we cannot physically empathize with that many people, cannot influence the government of other nations (hell, truly cannot influence our own Federal government meaningfully). To feel as though we are connected to the rest of the world, to attempt to understand how our own nation acts internationally, we read news from around the world, about which there is literally nothing the average person can do. Even most politicians lack power at this level.
Sure, a lot of what’s true locally is influenced by bigger picture structures, but we shouldn’t forget that what really matters in our own daily lives is determined at the local scale. Our lives are constructed in symphony with real spaces that shape how we can live our lives on a daily basis. The places we live are shaped locally and when we neglect to fight for walkable, green communities the cars and NIMBYs will always win.
The lesson to be learned from the NIMBYs is the power of loud voices in shaping our communities. They aren’t afraid to take their egregious 1950s attitudes directly to Councilmembers, those of us who want a people-centric community with public amenities would do well to follow their example for the good instead of the fear of change.

Establish as many regular routines as possible… The point is to reduce the number of decisions you have to make about trivial matters. Save your energy for major questions that arise in our technological society. Regularize the trivial to cope with the significant.

Nowadays seems like technologists do this with “uniforms” which is maybe more important for CEOs and politicians who are judged on their appearance, while I work from home and don’t meet with anyone important so I just need to look passable on Zoom. But I can look for “templates” and routines to adapt in my life in the places I notice friction: keeping exercise consistent and the same time of day so I don’t have to decide what to do and when, or picking theme nights in advance for dinner to reduce the decision stress. Taco Tuesday is Taco Tuesday.

Avoid multiple and simultaneous changes in your personal life… Change is tremendously stressful, so control the amount of newness you must face.
A good reminder to not make drastic decisions and life changes during the pandemic, if possible.
Keep your opinions to a minimum… Although middle-class America seems to require an opinion on everything, you will find it liberating to say the phrase “I don’t know enough about it to form an opinion.”
This is probably good for me to chew over, who has an opinion on everything. But has to be weighed with privilege on what we’re able to ignore.
Carefully limit the information input you will allow… As a general rule, do not take in any more information after seven or eight o’clock at night. You need protection from the relentless flow of information in modern American culture.
Probably a good idea. Ties back in to not knowing how to live in a globalized world.
The question is what he means by information — does that include any form of intake (e.g. fiction), or just news and facts? How about reading nonfiction? For me I think news and Twitter are the information suspects.
Seek significance in your work, friends, and family, where potency and output are still possible. Work, friends, and family are the areas where what you think and do matters… Information used to be an agent or instrument for action, but nowadays, information is often inert — you cannot act on it… Try to dump useless information from your head.
Again, a balance in not stressing ourselves out about things we can’t control while advocating for a better world for all. Not forsaking responsibility to society — but focusing our efforts at a scale and scope we’re likely able to impact. That probably means local or County scale, potentially State, but for the most part probably donations are the best way to pitch in on bigger battles.

Divest yourself of your belief in the magical powers of numbers. Quantification has a very limited effectiveness. Any attempt to apply quantification to human affairs represents pure superstition of a medieval kind.

I’ve been into self-quantification in the past but numbers definitely can be a trap. And we’ve seen how reductive GDP is as measure of societal success, where the US has a huge growing GDP yet poverty and suffering are widespread while being largely avoidable if as a society we prioritized people directly over businesses. Playing out right now in the debate over upping the minimum wage. It makes me sick to think how many people believe it’s reasonable to pay a person less than ten dollars for an hour of their time. We all are worth more — and need more — than that. If your business can’t afford to pay people a reasonable amount, your business model is not viable (or you’re exploiting your workers to steal the profits).

Patriotism is a squalid emotion.
Exhibit A: January 6, 2021.
Political Commentary

Grappling with the Guilt of Your Ancestors

Liked My People Were in Shipping by Mike Monteiro (Medium)

Trump was the “immigrants took our jobs” meme made pustulant flesh. Some of America, mostly white, mostly male, decided this was exactly what America needed. To grow up white and male, within a system that is designed specifically for you to succeed, and yet not succeed… Well, that’s embarrassing, and Trump was giving those white males an out. They could blame immigrants.

“And what my father did, you know it don’t mean shit, I’m not him.” – Bright Eyes

How can we be responsible for what our ancestors did? We didn’t exist. And yet, we benefitted from their actions, so we do hold some responsibility in making up for the wrongs they perpetrated against the ancestors of others. Reparations for slavery and genocide. Land back to the people it was stolen from.

Federally “owned” land, no brainer, return it to Native sovereignty, or share jurisdiction.

We can’t give back what now an individual owns, but we could give Natives first right of refusal on the land.

And there is no excuse for continuing not to honor treaties. We know the treaties screwed Native Americans and still can’t uphold the shit our ancestors promised? Pathetic. The only reason is so the government can keep extracting oil and natural resources.

And we must recognize tribes that we’ve denied federal recognition. What a crock of shit.