The Wyrd

The story of Chelsea Manning.

Manning, of course, was the first of the “Millennial leakers”, and the woman who gave Julian Assange his fifteen minutes of cultural relevance. The New York Times has a profile of her, dealing with her childhood, her decision to join the military, her leaking of documents, and her subsequent capture and incarceration. It’s an interesting and relatively sensitive read, though there’s an obvious content warning for gender dysphoria, transphobia, and mentions of several suicide attempts.

What I find particularly interesting is that the article makes it clear the WikiLeaks was Manning’s last resort; she first attempt to get in touch with various traditional media sources, but was shut down or ignored. It was also very likely her involvement in the WikiLeaks community is what burned her and lead to her arrest. What the article doesn’t say explicitly, but certainly implies, is that it was journalists missing the boat on Manning that allowed Edward Snowden to, effectively, get away with doing the same thing Manning did some years later (the media, remember, paid attention to and sheltered Snowden).

Funny, the way these things go, innit?

Thursday, 27th July 2017|Tags: infosec, politics, tech|0 Comments

Intent isn’t magic for you, either.

Usually when I talk about oppression, I emphasize impact over intention – because no matter how well-meaning someone is, they can still cause harm.

Maybe we should consider the same emphasis when we’re trying to stop oppression. Regardless of our intentions, sometimes the only impact of calling someone out is that we get to feel like we punished them for what they did wrong.

But what about the impact beyond that? Have we actually made things better for the people who were harmed?

Maisha Z. Johnson on toxic call-outs.

From a broader article looking at markers of toxicity in call-out culture and “performative activism”.

Thursday, 27th July 2017|Tags: culture|0 Comments

American woman.

In America, a woman’s body seemed to belong to everybody but herself. Her sexuality belonged to her husband, her opinion of herself belonged to her social circles, and her uterus belonged to the government. She was supposed to be a mother and a lover and a career woman (at a fraction of the pay) while remaining perpetually youthful and slim. In America, important men were desirable. Important women had to be desirable. That got to me.

[… T]he American woman is told she can do anything and then is knocked down the moment she proves it.

Paulina Porizkova on ownership.

Tuesday, 25th July 2017|Tags: culture|0 Comments

Why do airlines suck so badly?

As with most things, you can blame Wall Street for this one. At least, as far as the (internationally notoriously terrible) US-based airlines go.1

Incidentally, conventional Business School Wisdom is that airlines are both inherently unprofitable Because Reasons and perfect to leech money out of because they’ll always be propped up by governments (countries “have” to be seen to have at least one airline as some kind of… weird international status thing, I dunno).

  1. Seriously. If you’ve either never flown on a US airline or never not flown on a US airline you very likely don’t realize just how awful they are. Like, economy air travel is never great, but basically everything in the US–from the stupid boarding system to the way no-one will just check their freakin’ luggage ohmigod–is designed as a special torture to remind you, I guess, what a peasant you are for not flying chartered. Like, even First class travel in the US sucks. ↩︎
Monday, 24th July 2017|Tags: economics|0 Comments

Death to the graphing calculator!

I can’t believe kids still use these things.

Once upon a time in high school, in a fit of panic over an organic chemistry exam, I painstakingly entered a “cheat sheet” into my graphing calculator. I never ended up using it in the exam in question due to Fear of Discovery, but I didn’t delete it, either, which meant it was found by my maths teacher during the exam for that class. I got a bit of a suspicious stink-eye over that, but that was it. It’s also the one and only time I ever attempted to cheat in a test.

Ironically, I don’t actually remember whether I passed or failed chemistry. Or maths, for that matter. In the long run, that didn’t turn out the be the lesson that was important…

Sunday, 23rd July 2017|Tags: high school, tech|0 Comments

But maybe she only ate part of the baby…

What happens when you discover that not only is your dad a right wing conspiracy theorist, but that he quite possibly believes you’re personally involved in eating babies?

Why babies in particular, you might ask? Antisemitism, basically. Whenever you hear anyone getting paranoid about baby eating, it’s almost always rooted in a piece of age-old antisemitism known as blood libel, where Jewish people are accused of eating Christian babies and/or using their blood in religious rituals. Needless to say, there are plenty of recorded incidents of mobs getting together to brutally murder Jewish people on this pretext, and no evidence whatsoever of Jewish people actually eating babies as a matter of (a-har) course, if for no other reason than human meat and blood are not generally considered to be kosher.

Basically it means that, nowadays, hysteria over eating babies is a great indicator that your political movement/conspiracy theory/piece of popular media is hiding a bunch of Nazis behind its metaphorical curtains. So, yanno. Watch out for that.

Sunday, 23rd July 2017|Tags: culture, cw: antisemitism, politics|0 Comments