We live in the age of the franchise, of fiction as a brand. The most dominant stories in our cultural consciousness are designed to go on forever, and the law of averages states that at some point those stories are going to be bad.

Susana Polo on the endless.

So this is actually from a kind of milquetoast article about toxic fandom feeling that they “own” brands and, like, how maybe people should do that… but I want to call this line out specifically because, uh. It’s… kind of fucking horrifying? And in a way that the article it’s from never addresses.

So, like. Let’s do that here.

It is absolutely horrifying that we live in an age not just where our predominant popular culture can be referred to as an “endless franchise” but also that the vast majority of these are owned and leveraged, for profit, by a single-digit number of multinational multibillion-dollar capitalist enterprises. That… really, really sucks. It sucks creatively and it sucks culturally, and we should absolutely be suspicious of it.

And this is where I think Polo is correct; you can’t change media but you can change how you engage with media. Which is why I no longer go and see most “event” franchise films, for example—I’ve historically made exceptions for Star Wars though even that’s being reconsidered—or watch “watercooler” shows just because every media outlet is talking about them. But I also tend not to mention that unless directly asked about it. Because more and more and more I’m coming to the realization that it’s not just the individual media that matters; it’s also the money and the systems behind those media and, well, a hundred articles calling out Game of Thrones for racism or sexism or whatever are effectively still a hundred ads for Game of Thrones, so…

Maybe sometimes it really is better to say nothing at all.

2019-07-10T10:05:32+10:0014th November, 2019|Tags: pop culture|

Full offence.

To misinterpret the fight towards equality as one of “taking offense” signals a profound misunderstanding of the fight and its goals. […] To be offended is to be on the offense: taking action, voicing dissatisfaction, instead of letting the status quo roll over you.

People who register offense gain power not because they’re whiny bitches, but because others recognize the legitimacy of their complaints: It IS fucked up to wear another person’s culture as a frat party costume, just like it IS fucked up to refuse to learn to use they/them pronouns because it entails personal struggle. Every time I flub up a pronoun, I ask myself: what’s harder, really trying to be better at this, or living your life as a non-binary or trans person in a world that inflicts psychological and physical violence on gender non-conforming people at nearly every point in their lives? But that difficulty is illegible, or inconsequential, to [New York Times journalist Bret] Stephens: nothing compared to his own inconvenience at being asked to reconsider the way things are.

Anne Helen on struggle.

Context is in response to one of those hand-wringy “political correctness gone mad!!!” style articles.

2019-07-10T09:30:51+10:0012th November, 2019|Tags: culture|

A short history of Glenn Greenwald.

And by “short” I mean “long”. And by “history of Glenn Greenwald” I mean “history of Greenwald’s long-standing trend of defending white supremacists“, in both the figurative and specifically legal sense.

2019-07-10T08:41:56+10:0011th November, 2019|Tags: politics|


Tl;dr Google keeps a weird creepy history of everything it knows (e.g. via Gmail) you’ve purchased, makes it really unclear that it’s doing this, and makes it impossible for you to delete the history.

Awesome! Great value-add, just what I wanted! Thanks, Google!

2019-07-09T15:18:36+10:0010th November, 2019|Tags: google, privacy|

The Power.

But here is what I know about women and power: Men fear powerful women, because they know that women have always had cause to fear powerful men. Men fear that women’s power will be violent, because they use their power to rape, assault, and beat us. Men fear that women’s power will be temperamental and despotic — that they will be forced to fear our every mood swing and obey our every irrational whim — because men have been raised to believe that their women should tend to them, cater to their whims, hang on the thread of their good graces. Men don’t fear “female power,” in the abstract. They fear being treated like women; they’re afraid that, when we win, they die. That when get the power, we’ll do the shoving, and it will hurt.

Sady Doyle on power.

This piece is on Game of Thrones, so appropriate content warning for sexual violence. But having never seen nor read (nor ever had any intention to see nor read) GoT/ASoIaF, the thing this post actually reminded me of was Naomi Alderman’s The Power, which I threw across the room1 when I realised it’d done exactly this bait-and-switch on me.


  1. Metaphorically, given I was reading the ebook on my phone. []
2019-07-09T15:14:58+10:009th November, 2019|Tags: books, cw: sexual assault, pop culture|

This new world of ambient surveillance.

In the regulatory context, discussion of privacy invariably means data privacy—the idea of protecting designated sensitive material from unauthorized access.


But there is a second, more fundamental sense of the word privacy, one which until recently was so common and unremarkable that it would have made no sense to try to describe it.

That is the idea that there exists a sphere of life that should remain outside public scrutiny, in which we can be sure that our words, actions, thoughts and feelings are not being indelibly recorded. This includes not only intimate spaces like the home, but also the many semi-private places where people gather and engage with one another in the common activities of daily life—the workplace, church, club or union hall. As these interactions move online, our privacy in this deeper sense withers away.

Maciej Cegłowski in his testimony to the US Senate.

Cegłowski is the guy who runs Pinboard, for those of you who’ll recognize the service but not the name.

2019-07-08T14:01:46+10:008th November, 2019|Tags: privacy, tech|

Bit o’ the old ultraviolence.

So apparently working on photo-realistic, hyper-violent video games can have negative health impacts for developers. Would could ever have possibly guessed?

(For what it’s worth, a lot of the impacts seem to be related to the viewing of real-life violence and injury people like game artists have to do to get things looking “right”. So this isn’t a “exposure to fantasy violence is bad for you” thing so much as… exactly the opposite of that.)

2019-07-08T13:14:17+10:007th November, 2019|Tags: gaming, video games|