Why the Jellyfish


I am fascinated by the way we talk about other life.

I am fascinated by the linguistic richness we are capable of, and how alternately we bless or deprive other life of this richness.

We are supposed to be amazed by jellyfish because they are such complex creatures, capable of swarm coordination, and even apparently intentional, agential movement, of hunting — yet they “don’t have a brain”. We are supposed to be amazed by jellyfish because they can make movement choices based on light conditions — yet they “don’t have eyes”.

Many creatures have senses and structures that we do not have. Mechanoreceptors, like antenna, tentacles, or hairs can sense the flow of air, of water — the pressurized movement echos of their community. Chemoreceptors, specialized tissues, can detect pheromones, secretions, the “scent” diffusions of their predators and prey.

Would they find us fascinating? “Look at those amazing creatures. They…

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Confederate Memorial shit

I keep seeing stories about southern towns & states having a Confederate Memorial Day “to remember those who lost their lives in the war between the states”.

boy that sounds admirable! what a great idea! why don’t we do that in the north as well? set aside an entire day to commemorate the veteran dead of the civil war?

we could call it… Veteran’s Day.

or Memorial Day.

oh wait it appears that there’s already two national holidays for that. there doesn’t need to be a special racist slaveowning day in the south after all.

I (also) *REALLY* hate how these narratives imply that nobody cares about the war dead but the former confederacy, that union soldiers didn’t fight and die, that confederate soldiers weren’t literally killing union soldiers and civilians, that the only dead worth caring about were the confederates.

that not only we should be proud of them, but that the only ones we should be proud of here were the southerners fighting to retain the right to hold slaves.

like, it’s not even “Civil War Memorial Day”; it’s specifically “Confederate Memorial Day”.

what the absolute fuck

that the south is STILL talking about this on a regular basis boils down to the rich white property owning southeners still brainwashing the middle class and poor white southerners:

“Hey remember the time we totally made you go fight and die so that we’d be able to stay rich and powerful? you did a great job! even though you lost, we’re so proud of you! keep defending us and the poisonous hate that enables our wealth forever!  Because we like being richer and more powerful than you!”


Cowards and Accomplices


Judith Hertog | Longreads | Month 2018 | 13 minutes (3,153 words)

The first thing I did when I learned the alphabet at age 6 was to spend a weekend writing out a stack of flyers that said, in large, uneven block letters: “Ret de weerelt!” a clumsily misspelled Dutch phrase that translates into English as something like “Sav the worlt!” I finally had a chance to express the urgency I felt when I discovered that, outside the idyllic life my parents had created for me in our small apartment in Amsterdam, the world was a dangerous and terrifying place where children starved to death in famines, innocents were killed in wars, factories poured chemicals into the water, and nuclear warheads stood ready to destroy everything in a flash. The world was in trouble and something needed to be done urgently.

So I copied the words “Sav the worlt” 50…

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The Tyrant and His Enablers


Stephen Greenblatt | Excerpt adapted from Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics | W. W. Norton & Company | May 2018 | 14 minutes (3,827 words)

From the early 1590s, at the beginning of his career, all the way through to its end, Shakespeare grappled again and again with a deeply unsettling question: how is it possible for a whole country to fall into the hands of a tyrant?

“A king rules over willing subjects,” wrote the influential sixteenth-century Scottish scholar George Buchanan, “a tyrant over unwilling.” The institutions of a free society are designed to ward off those who would govern, as Buchanan put it, “not for their country but for themselves, who take account not of the public interest but of their own pleasure.” Under what circumstances, Shakespeare asked himself, do such cherished institutions, seemingly deep-rooted and impregnable, suddenly prove fragile? Why do large numbers of people knowingly accept being…

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Why ABA is harmful and nobody ever “recovers” from autism.

"Do You Sell Nipples?"

Despite increased understanding and acceptance of autism, there are still people (mostly neurotypical) who push for a “cure”. Most people on the spectrum do not want a cure; they are happy being who they are, those who do want a cure often do because of a lifetime of being made to feel inadequate by the neurotypical people in their lives who profess to love them.

What is ABA?
ABA (or Applied Behaviour Analysis) uses positive reinforcement (and sometimes punishment) to reinforce what it sees as “good” behaviours, whilst eliminating “bad” behaviours. Advocates of it tote it as an autism “cure” or “treatment”.  They claim its use can bring “meaningful and positive change in behaviour.”

It is a very intensive “therapy” and often requires the “patient” (read “victim”) to undergo a gruelling 40-hours per week of “therapy” in order for it to work. For many people, alarm bells should be ringing…

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#1120: The Creepy Guy In The Friend Group, Revisited: Four More Geek Social Fallacies

Captain Awkward

Content note: After the jump I mention Rape Threats Dudes Have Sent Me for saying what I think about creepy dudes.

Dear Captain,

Over the past several years I’ve drifted to the periphery of a friend group where one member is a sexist creep. I immediately found him slimy and pushy and off-putting upon meeting him, but gave him the benefit of the doubt because he’s my friend’s brother — and then learned that he’s heavily into PUA bullshit and was pretty much being awful on purpose. It was a few years into my friendship his sister that he started hanging out with everyone, and as he’s spent more time with the group, I’ve spent much less. (Not just because of him, but he’s definitely one reason.) There’s only one friend I’ve explicitly discussed this with, and he’s sympathetic when we talk privately, but I don’t get the sense Mr…

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