Bookmarked Blokes Will Be Blokes (Meanjin)

The suggestion seems to be that at some level, Grimshaw—and all Australian women—should apologise for their experiences because it puts them at an advantage. How, these men might ask, are they meant to know this has been happening if they are not themselves subject to repeated acts of assault from the time they are children? Very unfair.

This is the evolution of ‘boys will be boys’. Society broadly excuses aggressive behaviour by young men as though it is biological impulse. Cisnormative gender stereotypes reinforce the notion that boys are only hitting girls because they like them. The same little boys who whack a girl with a toy truck become the young men who cat-call women on trams become the parliamentarians who smirk in the face of sexual assault allegations.

How dare women expect better from men? When were they supposed to learn how to treat us, between being on the rugby firsts and drinking middle-shelf whisky with their uni mates? It’s not their fault. They didn’t have time before now. This is the absolute first opportunity they have had in their whole lives to try to learn the absurd language women are speaking. It’s not their fault no-one has ever taught them otherwise. They’re just blokes doing bloke stuff!

Anna Spargo-Ryan discusses the current crisis unfolding in Federal politics. Some of the issues include Queensland MP Andrew Laming online harrassment,
Attorney-General Christian Porter’s historical rape allegation and
Brittany Higgins’ rape in Parliament House. In response, Scott Morrison has provided a swath of mixed messages, on the one hand recognising the place of women in his life and the fear and inequity lived out every day, while also suggesting that sometimes “blokes don’t get it right all the time” and that maybe women protesting need to be grateful that they are not “met with bullets” like other places in the world. Spargo-Ryan suggests that in the end, Morrison’s actions have been akin to “bringing home a bunch of flowers because you worked late again.” Ryan elaborates further, raising particular problems with parliament house being a “training group to learn about women”.

In neglecting to protect the women in his workplace, Morrison acts as though he has forgotten to take out the bins or pick up the kids from sport. The Prime Ministership cannot be a training ground to learn about women. Federal Government is not a postgraduate program for private school boys who never learned to take care of themselves. The men defending these allegations cannot be allowed to hold up their hands and say, ‘It’s my first day!’

Annabel Crabb explains how this current situation represents a change in power:

In this instance, there is opportunity for women to seek justice, to speak out, to demand restitution in this new environment which suddenly gives a damn about what’s happened to them. But there’s opportunity for strategically-minded blokes, too. For some, the emergence of a cool new way to bring down their enemies is exciting, a brand-new update to the first-person shooter game called Political Ratf**kery.

While on The Minefield podcast, Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens explore the difficulties of justice and change. Aly even wonders if Morrison’s failure to adequately respond to the situation is actually what is needed to achieve the change required?

Liked The GameStop Mess Shows That the Internet Is Rigged Too by Zeynep Tufekci (theatlantic.com)

The social contract is broken, and that’s why the game feels rigged. Right now, especially in countries like the United States, many of the largest, most profitable companies play the legal-tax-evasion game to the point that they are sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars in cash. (Apple alone has cash reserves that hover around $200 billion. Similarly, both Microsoft and Alphabet/Google have more than $100 billion in their cash pile.) These stockpiles are humongous and the companies are not productively investing them—by building something, or by paying people—so the money all goes back into the stock market. When there is such concentrated wealth, many assets—from stocks to Picasso paintings—appreciate. Such disproportionate investment in speculative or nonproductive assets, coupled with the lack of investment in things that make society work better for more people, like education and health care, further break the social contract.

Bookmarked Cory Doctorow: Neofeudalism and the Digital Manor (Locus Online)

To engage in data-collection in the wake of 2013 isn’t just an oversight, it’s an act of collaboration with the forces of surveillance. In 2020, Google has admitted that it is being required to respond to “reverse search warrants” that reveal the identities of every person who was present at a certain loca­tion at a certain time; and “search-term warrants” to reveal the identities of every person who used a specific search-term. These warrants are utterly foreseeable. Google collects this data, so governments will require them to turn it over – and not just the US government, either.

As with Apple, the best way for Google to avoid being ordered to turn over data on its users is to not collect or retain that data in the first place. And, as with Apple, the next best thing is to give users the power to turn off that data-collection and data-retention altogether, something Google’s gotten marginally better at in the past year.

Reflecting on Apple’s move to restrict which operating systems are able to run, Cory Doctorow discusses what Bruce Schneier has called ‘feudal security’. This is where we hand over power and trust to platform capitalism to keep us say.

The security researcher (and Hugo Award-nominee) Bruce Schneier has a name for this arrangement: he calls it feudal security. Here in the 21st century, we are beset by all manner of digital bandits, from identity thieves, to stalkers, to corporate and government spies, to harassers. There is no way for us to defend ourselves: even skilled technologists who administer their own networked services are no match for the bandits. To keep bandits out, you have to be perfect and perfectly vigilant, and never make a single mistake. For the bandits to get you, they need merely find a single mistake that you’ve made.

To be safe, then, you have to ally yourself with a warlord. Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and a few others have built massive fortresses bristling with defenses, whose parapets are stalked by the most ferocious cybermerce­naries money can buy, and they will defend you from every attacker – except for their employers. If the warlord turns on you, you’re defenseless.

Going further, Doctorow ponders if in fact it is ‘manorial security’:

Schneier calls this “Feudal Security,” but as the medievalist Stephen Morillo wrote to me, the correct term for this is probably “Manorial Security” – while feudalism was based on land-grants to aristocrats who promised armed soldiers in return, manorialism referred to a system in which an elite owned all the property and the rest of the world had to work on that property on terms that the local lord set.

The problem is that we are then at the whims of somebody else’s choices or, in the case of Cambridge Analytica, abuses. In response, Doctorow posits that rather than a turn towards survellance, companies like Apple, Facebook and Google have an opportunity for a Ulysses Pact where in a position of strength these platforms decide to step away from shady data practices.

In his own commentary, Alan Jacobs suggests that this is why the open web is so important.

So let me bang this antique drum one more time: You need to own as much of your turf as you can. I explain why and how, in detail, in this essay. Avoid the walled gardens of social media, because at any moment they could appeal to digital eminent domain and move the walls somewhere else, and if they did you’d have zero recourse.

Liked Everything Is Different Now by Tom Junod (theatlantic.com)

The unsayable thing—the taboo thing—to say about 9/11 is that, while it might have provided an occasion for Americans to rediscover their patriotism, it was in the moment exactly what it felt like: a defeat. It is the same with January 6, 2021. This was the defeat of a police force, the defeat of a presumption, the defeat of naive faith in the native goodness of our fellow Americans—a defeat made all the more bitter for being an inside job.

Replied to Shocked, but not surprised by wiobyrne (digitallyliterate.net)

The mob that rampaged the halls of Congress included infamous white supremacists and conspiracy theorists.

Thousands invaded the highest centers of power, and the first thing they did was take selfies and videos. They were making content as spoils to take back to the digital empires where they dwell.

Members of the mob also used a site called Dlive to livestream while they rampaged.

A coup with no plot, no end to achieve, no plan but to pose.

Ian, I have been been thinking about the Gram piece and wondering if sharing events is in fact fuelling things, even more so from abroad.

I was left thinking of something Chris Gilliard ironically tweeted:

Liked “A Second Rabadash” — C.S. Lewis and Dangerous Leaders by Matt MikalatosMatt Mikalatos (tor.com)

here’s my hope for myself and all of us:

May we, like Susan, have the wisdom to recognize if we’ve been deceived by a leader who appears wonderful in one context but has “another face” when he gains power.

May we, like Edmund, remember our own failings and be generous with our enemies, and hopeful that true change is still a possibility even for a traitorous fool.

May we, like Lucy, see clearly into the hearts of our leaders.

May we, like King Lune, be kind-hearted and compassionate with our enemies.

May we, like the people of Calormen and Archenland and Narnia, find peace in the years to come.

In the meantime, friends, let us each be faithful in the things we are called to, despite what our leaders may do. Vote, speak up, and do what’s right. Aslan’s on the move—let’s keep our eyes open for him.

Bookmarked The Pro-Trump Mob Was Doing It For The Gram by Elamin Abdelmahmoud (BuzzFeed News)

As a coup, the actions of the mob were a failure. In the wee hours of the morning, Joe Biden was once again declared the winner of the 2020 election. They didn’t stop shit. But as fodder for content, Jan. 6 was a resounding success.

Elamin Abdelmahmoud argues that the coup was simply about capturing attention.

You can see this most clearly in this photo, where the man in the god-knows-what costume, Jake Angeli, the so-called QAnon Shaman, is posing on the dais of the Senate, his friends carefully framing him to get the perfect shot. It is the Trump supporter equivalent of an Instagram influencer getting a photo beside a perfect mural.

Mike Caulfield takes this further, wondering if this is more than just confirmation bias, but rather a case of brand building?

can we really say the motivation is as simple as “confirmation bias”? Or would we be better off thinking of these dynamics around issues of personal brand-building, its incentives and disincentives?

Replied to

Bookmarked #IStandWithDan vs #DictatorDan: how fringe accounts gamed Twitter during Melbourne’s lockdown by James Purtill (ABC News)

New research shows the #IStandWithDan and #DictatorDan warring Twitter hashtags were pushed by a small number of orchestrated and hyper-partisan accounts.

James Purtill reports on the influence of social media in regards to the messaging around Melbourne’s lockdown.

New research shows they were driven by a small number of fringe, hyper-partisan accounts — many of them anonymous “sockpuppet” accounts created specifically to support either side, but posting as an independent third party.

Although it is not clear if there was a central organisation behind the campaigns, but the ‘Dictator Dan’ message did align with the News Corp papers and Sky News.

On a side note, I think the War on 2020 team captured the absurdity of the ‘dictator’ movement in their skit:

Liked This was the year Australia restored trust in its politics – and that really is a miracle (theguardian.com)

When there are shared facts and values, and when governments are seen to be broadly competent and connected to the needs of citizenry, politicians lay the foundations of trust, because citizens are bound together rather than occupying detached alternative realities.

Rather than minimising the importance of moments of clarity like this – rather than pretending that government is about synchronising calendars – Morrison should make nurturing these conditions a project of his prime ministership.

Because the lesson of 2020 is democracies are in a larger fight than the transient scrabbles of partisan conflict that define our election cycles.

The crisis of 2020 will pick the world up and set it down in a different place, just as the global financial crisis did before it.

Liked Rebecca Solnit: On Not Meeting Nazis Halfway (Literary Hub)

If half of us believe the earth is flat, we do not make peace by settling on it being halfway between round and flat. Those of us who know it’s round will not recruit them through compromise. We all know that you do better bringing people out of delusion by being kind and inviting than by mocking them, but that’s inviting them to come over, which is not the same thing as heading in their direction.

This month, my feeds have been full of Trump. Here is a selection:

Although this is a significant decision for everybody in the world, I wonder if a part of the post-election actions have been as much about Trump’s effort to garner attention. I am reminded here of Doug Belshaw’s post from a few years ago, Curate or be Curated and the challenge that we face in regards to managing our feeds and thinking about who or what is filling our mental space.

After listening to a recent episode on corruption in politics on The Minefield podcast.

During this conversation Waleed Aly, Scott Stevens and Bruce Buchan discuss the current situation at home and abroad, I am left thinking whether people have simply become jaded by such discussions and how this all plays out.

Listened The Minefield from abc.net.au

In a world marked by wicked social problems, The Minefield helps you negotiate the ethical dilemmas, contradictory claims and unacknowledged complicities of modern life.

Started listening to Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens’ podcast on ‘wicked’ problems. I am always taken by Waleed Aly’s perspective on the world. I feel that the length of this medium allows more nuance than something like The Project.
Replied to This ‘BBQ Beer Freedom’ Meme Is Sending Us Right Now by Matt Moen (PAPER)

Experimental electronic artist, Holly Herndon, put an autotuned spin on the unhinged rant that has the internet in stitches.

I really enjoyed this remix:

Along with the Daft Punk version of Person. Woman. Man. Camera. TV, this election has produced some creative responses.

Liked Donald Trump’s tumultuous presidency has never made me laugh by Virginia Trioli (ABC News)

We are witnessing one of the most important battles of our times: not just the electoral one, but the battle between the power and importance of our institutions and of facts, and the self-interested misrepresentation of the truth.

The skirmishes are without precedent. Television networks actually took down and cut the feed of a US President as he gave a speech of countless untruths. Twitter now routinely deletes his tweets. Social media platforms suspend the accounts of his high-profile surrogates.

This is a moment of reckoning, the first time that a civil society has genuinely asserted itself over the jungle of social media and the ecosystem in which Trump has thrived and that he has so effectively used.

Bookmarked Rebecca Solnit on Black Swans, Slim Chances, and the 2020 Presidential Election (Literary Hub)

Donald Trump wasn’t really a black swan because everyone saw him coming; it’s just that a lot of people didn’t think he’d finish the journey. If you’re blindsided by climate disasters or Republican corruption, it’s not because they’re black swans; it’s just that you ignored the evidence. A pandemic like this had long been predicted. The nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl was waiting to happen, thanks to bad design and bad maintenance protocol. One huge problem with human beings in general, but particularly those who suffer from overconfidence, especially because they think they’re in charge, is that we tend to dismiss the unlikely and prepare for what we think of as the likely, even as we live out a history full of black swans and unlikelihoods.

Rebecca Solnit reflects upon the world that we are currently in. She calls for hope, not optimism:

Black swans happen. Which is why I’ve modified the slogan, hope for the best, prepare for the worst to: Hope and work for the best (and also be prepared to wrestle with the worst if it arises).

This reminds me of a piece from the Librarianshipwreck in regards to COVID-19.

Hope, on the contrary, is not the belief that “things will get better” but the belief that “things can get better.” To be hopeful is not to be certain that things will improve, it is to refuse to accept that this is as good as it can get. If optimism says “this is the best of all possible worlds,” and pessimism retorts, “you’re right” – it is hope that responds to both by saying “a better world is possible.”

Liked ABC Politics with Annabel Crabb (view.mail-list.abc.net.au)

I’m assuming nobody in Melbourne is reading this because they’re all off getting their roots done or just openly, lasciviously strolling about without the threat of having their collar felt by the Recreation Rozzers. But on behalf of all of us at the ABC, may I convey our congratulations to, and admiration of, the great people of Victoria, who have had an awful lot chucked at them this year. The photo in this account of the Great Reopening is just glorious.

Liked Victoria’s coronavirus lockdown might be finally be over, but we are still deeply divided by Virginia Trioli (ABC News)

It’s a bit of a paradox, because at the same time we have banded together strongly like never before. We wait to see whether what happens next, our recovery and the help we get along the way, will bind some of the wounds as well.

Listened Should we attempt to escape from “politics”? from ABC Radio National

“Politics” is, it seems, inescapable. Christos Tsiolkas joins Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens to discuss whether we should preserve ways — in literature, in art, in comedy, in sport — to escape the limits of political conflict.

An interesting conversation about the challenges of discussing politics. I was really interested in Christos Tsiolkas distinction between the idea and the author when talking about Uwe Telkamp’s The Tower. This reminds me of John Naughton’s discussion of Simone Beauvoir:

As Gornick implies, the passage of time, and posthumous revelations, has taken the shine off the image of Beauvoir and her accomplice in literary celebrity, Jean-Paul Sartre. Subsequent biographies have revealed that they both sometimes behaved abominably towards other people. I guess it leaves those of us who, as impressionable students, were dazzled by them, looking naive. So what? Everybody was young and foolish once. And whatever one thinks about its author with the 20/20 vision of hindsight, The Second Sex was a genuinely pathbreaking book.