Cowards and Accomplices

Longreads

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

Longreads

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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Rule Explainer: Why We Don’t Diagnose People Through The Internet

This is a must-read: internet diagnoses and labels, ableism, redemption narratives, and centering victims

Captain Awkward

There’s a really interesting conversation about narcissism that popped up in a comment thread yesterday that made me think harder about the “Don’t offer diagnoses for people based on letters or internet comments” rule we have here and I’d like to expand on it.

At length.

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#1127: “I think my friend is falling in love with me and I don’t feel the same way.”

“If someone who will project a whole relationship that you don’t want onto you blames you for puncturing his bubble with your actual thoughts and feelings, that’s not because you did anything wrong.”

Louder for the people in the back

Captain Awkward

Dear Captain,

Nearly 2 years ago I joined a MMORPG community for the first time. Through a series of events, I met a guy who has become one of my best friends. We are bizarrely similar at times and he’s really been there for me. It started out just online but we now have each other’s numbers and text A LOT throughout the day. He has never had a girlfriend and I was raised in a religious, sheltered household and have never had a boyfriend either. (For context, I still am religious and I would NEVER be intimate before marriage and would never marry outside my religion. I admit I’m not doing everything right spiritually but this is not “just my parents’ religion” to me. My only close friend is also of this religion and I feel I cannot talk about this with her because I’m sure she would encourage…

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