clarification

Aug. 20th, 2017 02:05 pm
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
When I ask you not to show images of that torch march, or of the Swastika, it's not because I think sweeping them under the digital rug will Solve All Our Problems about race in America.

We all have to work through our own mental crap, the stuff we inherited from parents and society and friends. That's our job. That's each individual person's job -- to figure out for 'self what is true and right and honest and compassionate.

But that doesn't mean we are obliged to take on what those symbols represent. We are not obliged to be on the side that believes that hatred, racism, and genocide will make a better world.

We know that's not true.

In the meantime, we do not have to do the Nazis' work by spreading their images, by giving them our minds. We don't owe them that. We don't owe them anything, not one thing.

In Second Life terms, they're griefers. They get their rocks off by causing trouble, by hurting people, by causing damage. Unfortunately, in real life, I cannot press two buttons and ban them from the US. I don't have that power here. Neither do you.

So we need to keep them out of our heads. And not allow them to add to the pile of stuff we're already dealing with.

It's important to know who your enemies are. It's also important to know when they are trying mind games and to not let them win.

(Apologies if this is not as thoughtful as usual. I have a hell of a headache.)
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
Here's the thing. The point of the white supremacists' march in Charlottesville was to make us feel afraid and helpless. You know this and I know this. But there's a psychological bit in there that a friend on Facebook pointed out that I had missed.

It's this: the symbolism of them carrying torches. Something about that apparently goes back to a primordial bit of the brain that keeps the fear going. Maybe it's the shared ancestral memory of towns and cities burning centuries ago -- every one of us has, somewhere in our history, some ancient family member who was burned out of a home in some war or other. (I can tell you that my own ancestral fear of being burned out goes back two generations, to when my grandfather's blacksmith's shop went up in flames in midwinter, and it was a hard fight by the local fire brigade to keep the house nearby from going up as well. If both hadn't been next to the river, the family would have been homeless.) But the point is that something nearly primordial in us sees campfires as friendly (we cook over them) and torches as hostile, unfriendly and dangerous. And when it's a mob with torches? Especially dangerous and frightening.

And those of us who post and repost news items are spreading images of torches. We're doing the frightening for them and keeping it going. Think about what happened when we kept seeing the Twin Towers collapsing in the weeks after 9/11, when the horror and the fear just did not go away because those images kept feeding it.

So this is what I am asking you to do:

1. If, anywhere on any social media, you have posted a picture from Charlottesville with torches in it, please delete it. Or edit it so it's a bunch of ugly white men without torches. We already know what happened there -- everyone knows. We don't have to see that picture any more. We don't have to spread their message of hate for them. That's not our job.

2. Take extra care to keep your own mind free from that image, and from the fear that it and other images of the Charlottesville riot can foster. Make sure to spend time with loving pets, or out in nature, or with people you love or doing things you care about. Make sure to put joy in your life on purpose, not by accident, in whatever way pleases you. Take time to appreciate good things around you. Joy and appreciation are powerful weapons against fear; they set the ground for generosity, caring and peace.

Thank you.

(no subject)

Aug. 19th, 2017 11:45 am
lenora_rose: (Default)
[personal profile] lenora_rose
Context note: I originally wrote this particular not-quite-essay up for my brother after some discussion. He is the "You" referenced along the way.  

So. I started doing a point by point examination of Damore's manifesto, fisking style, and while it helped me pick apart his arguments, it wandered wildly off the actual questions at hand. So instead I am trying again, with a reframing. It will include significant excerpts of the fisking, but with an attempt to stay on topic.


Question number one: Is Zunger's interpretation "we should stop trying to make it possible for women to be engineers, it’s just not worth it." remotely an accurate depiction of the memo and its final gist? If not, is the interpretation you gave (in extreme short form: "That gender ratios in tech are not well-explained by sexist behaviour in tech companies ... It's a major recurring theme, arguably THE theme, of Gary's memo that people should be judged as individuals and not as members of groups") itself a fair and complete interpretation?

 

The really really short answer is "Zunger is overstating at best, and you are right to take him to task for it -- but there's a lot more unpleasance going on than you seem to think." Most of the rest of this will be focused on coming back to this answer.

 

Question number two, added later: Is Damore plausibly a well-meaning but socially clueless and possibly-on-the-spectrum person or an actual bigot as he is portrayed by detractors?

 

Not really a short answer, but an immediate one: I'm not exactly sure what led you to read him as possibly autistic. My read is a bit socially clueless, but more in the vein of "spends too much time coding and reading articles about people and not enough time interacting with them" AND actually a bit of a bigot.

 

While the dividing line is fuzzy between being socially clueless because he hasn't gone out and practiced, and being socially clueless because his brain literally works differently, I do not subscribe to treating him as a case of prejudice against autism. If nothing else, my impression is that the prejudice he displays is very real. And his actions, no matter his neurology, warranted firing.

 

I'm also wary that this falls close to a common trope in geek circles; the tendency to attribute bad elements (sexual harassers in particular, and other social assholes in general) to possible Asperger's, when such people most often display GREATER social acumen (in the case of sexual harassers in particular, in how they isolate their victims and code-switch when their audience is more mixed or all male. But, well, as examples, neither Thrym nor Mike read as remotely Asperger's, and nobody in Winnipeg that I know of has suggested it, but in other circles, men who have behaved exactly like them have had someone ask "in all innocence" if it explains them...)

 

In this case, there is a veneer of intellectualism to Damore's bigotry, which could be read that way, but I really think is better attributed to general life inexperience. A lot of NT men, especially post-grads/intellectually inclined, have talked about things they have said in their twenties that were in this range of "I read too many articles and didn't talk to enough people".

 

None of this above is aught but opinion, but it's also as complete an answer as I can give to question two at all.

 

Back to question one.

 

Here's my interpretation of the memo in the TL:DR version:

 

Damore's memo's central point is a combination of the key things in his own TL:DR (short version: Google has a strong leftward bias which makes it likely they are both stifling conservatives and committing to unproven programs out of ideology), and the desire to be rid of those same programs, which he sees as discriminatory; those that are aimed mostly or exclusively towards training of or hiring of minorities and/or women.

 

He accuses that leftward bias of encouraging extremism and authoritarianism by the left without producing evidence that anything in Google is in fact authoritarian. (It IS true that a leftward bias might move the Overton Window too far and open it to the biased excesses of feminist extremes, but it is not a given that this has happened to Google. Even his own firing, which is justifiable on many grounds besides ideology, is evidence of it only to people like Vox Day or the white nationalists talking about protest marches on Google headquarters this coming week. ( http://amp.timeinc.net/fortune/2017/08/11/google-diversity-memo-alt-right-protest/?source=dam ).

 

To support this, he calls on science, discussing the average tendencies of women to try and demonstrate that there should be little need to fight the gender gap at all (including paragraphs acknowledging that these averages are overlapping and full of exceptions but then making suggestions which treat the nature of women as vastly more uniform and immutable).

 

He suggests changes to narrow the gender gap which have no data to back them, and the abolishment of programs he sees as discriminatory, including not only those related to gender but those related to race.

 

He endeavours to paint Google's leftward bias as equivalent to climate change denial, the desire to support a better gender and racial parity in the workplace as coming from a paternalistic protective streak towards women and "those seen as weak", and emphasizes a need to support the psychological safety of conservatives over that of minorities more traditionally discriminated against.

 

His decision regarding delivery mechanism -- essentially sending it to every fellow employee -- is itself a major problem. Not just for use of company resources, though that alone is a firing offense, but because it literally forces every woman and every racial minority on the spot to worry whether their coworkers believe that they are there on their own merits, despite Google already being known to hire the best of the best as regards software skills. Because by describing the programs that support their entry as discriminatory, and stating aloud that they possibly lead to lowering the bar (yes, there is a line to that effect present), the memo leaves it possible to point to any of them and say "You're only here because the bar was lowered for you, so you are not *really* my equal." The same memo that suggests that affirmative action practices increase racial and gendered tensions and that this is bad increases them severalfold by laying out that implication and essentially making sure every minority and woman in the place has to see it.

 

This does not read to me as the work of a centrist looking to ask for better understanding across the board. This is the work of someone who genuinely believes that attempts to support people who are traditionally held back from entering some fields is discrimination against him as the prior norm.

 

He does not at any point say anything like Zunger wrote, and you are partly right that he makes a few paragraphs of bending over backwards to acknowledge overlaps and averages. But I do not disagree with those who inferred that he wishes to exclude more women from the job, and who feel that what he has said, if allowed to propagate within Google without active disapproval, is actively detrimental to the life of women and racial minorities in the company.

 

Rereading Zunger in the wake of picking apart the manifesto in more detail, I am much less satisfied in general with Zunger's approach -- his intro paragraph is a mess of that exaggeration you noted and a few others -- but I see a whole lot of merit still in his entire section 2 (about engineering), and I have just laid out a defense for his section three -- not far enough for the whole "Want to punch you in the face" but still for "large swathes of people at the company now feel they could not work with you."

 

Here are pieces of my initial fisk-style examination (Memo in blue. My commentary not.)

 

My basic impression of Damore's memo: He says a lot of things which are either factually correct or reasonable. His memo is 90% these things. But the other things overwhelm that, and they are sometimes hidden in the middle of the reasonableness.

  • Google’s political bias has equated the freedom from offense with psychological safety, but shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety.

Freedom from offense.

This is a common framing for people not wanting to hear explicitly prejudicial statements against them -- statements which have had a demonstrated negative effect on work. There was a study which showed that simply mentioning a statistic indicating that black people perform worse on a given test to a group of black students right before they take that test (However neutrally and "just the facts" the statement is made) has a visible and demonstrable negative effect on the students' test scores. (First google failure; I kept getting results linking to the Harvard Implicit Bias test…)

Freedom from offense also implies people want to be protected from things that they don't like, no matter what they are. This is a classic framing: being "offended" is literally not, in itself, a bad thing. A person can be offended because a mom is on her phone at the playground, because a person is on a bicycle on the street, because a person is on a bicycle on the sidewalk… any number of things which one has zero right to be "offended" by. In fact, the usage of the word offense for reactions to everything from outright hurtful shit to breastfeeding, and to describe responses ranging from incandescent rage to eyerolling laughter is part of the reason I am beginning to hate the word.

Describing not wanting to hear discriminatory statements as "freedom from offense" is a statement intended to make such a desire seem more trivial and less of a resistance to actual damaging statements. It's part of the normalizing of prejudice.

"shaming into silence is the antithesis of psychological safety."

Sounds good. If some people can't say what they think, then there isn't safety to be themselves. Pretty tautological… almost.

But then I have to look at what I call the moderator's dilemma.

Which is this: Any place with no moderation whatsoever (beyond deletion of actual spam like "I earned X money working from home!"…) turns into a toxic stew mostly inhabited by trolls spewing profanity. AT BEST, it contains some useful discussion threads that need to be carefully sifted from the whole. And most people either don't bother or refuse to even participate in the first place. You literally lose swathes of people who have much better ideas than what is being aired BECAUSE you refuse to silence anyone.

To maximize the genuine free expression of ideas, you need to remove enough toxic elements to allow those who are silenced by the toxicity to actually appear and speak up. This is why conversation at places with active moderators (eg, Making Light) tends to be much more productive and interesting and varied in subject matter than discussion on say, youtube threads. And it's not just the obvious -- simply having people who like "Arguing passionately" (to the point of haranguing or not letting a subject drop) also drive others away, who are less likely to speak but more likely to have something to say that wasn't already heard. (Abi at Making Light talks a lot about this).

Of course, an excess of deletions can stifle conversation in the "Echo chamber" sense. (it also means you lose evidence trails, but that's another discussion). This is why there are some areas, even in the social justice spheres, where deleting your own comments that brought on a negative reaction is something get castigated for doing, even when the moderator themselves blocks. This is why TNH came up with disemvowelling to indicate comments (or in some cases, sections of comments) of which she or another moderator disapprove. People can reassemble the evidence and see for themselves, if they are concerned the moderation is stifling ideas, but people can also see explicit disapproval. (It's worth noting some comments end up entirely deleted even though the people are allowed to comment again, some people get their right to post revoked short term, and people are still banned outright. And some people are forced not to post for 24 or 48 hours -- this last happened to Will Shetterly virtually any time he talked about race. One can consider this the debate on tactics, though.)

So, yes, actually, SOME types of ideas do need to be silenced to maximise psychological safety. The debate from there tends to be what is too far.

Of course, this fellow asserts Google culture goes too far. For evidence, he provides…. Well, let's keep going. (Skip a bunch that is not really arguable or terribly problematic, though some of it is in loaded language)

At Google, we talk so much about unconscious bias as it applies to race and gender, but we rarely discuss our moral biases. Political orientation is actually a result of deep moral preferences and thus biases. Considering that the overwhelming majority of the social sciences, media, and Google lean left, we should critically examine these prejudices.

Left Biases

Right Biases

Compassion for the weak

Respect for the strong/authority

Disparities are due to injustices

Disparities are natural and just

Humans are inherently cooperative

Humans are inherently competitive

Change is good (unstable)

Change is dangerous (stable)

Open

Closed

Idealist

Pragmatic

 

5/6 of these are merely subjective preferences, with argument reasonable for both sides. But right there in the middle. "Disparities are natural and just" is a really nice way to say "You're poor because you deserve it" and "Black people are half-savages" and "women just can't handle things men can".

SOME disparities can be concluded as just. A fast food counter-minder or floor-sweeper should not make the same as a chef or electrician. (Though they should all make a living). A junkie will lose their job to a sober person and that is just (though the junkie deserves some compassion and access to support in getting off drugs). An amateur singer should enjoy their singing but not be expecting to make millions.

But somehow, outside satire like Harrison Bergeron, these are not the "disparities" that are meant when conservatives argue disparities are just. When poked, when examined, they are nigh universally trying to justify disparities between gender or race or the offering of services to poor people.

Pretending that shrugging off disparities as just is no different from debating whether it's better to be idealist or pragmatic is a pretty horrid false equivalence.

…. In contrast, a company too far to the left will constantly be changing (deprecating much loved services), over diversify its interests (ignoring or being ashamed of its core business), and overly trust its employees and competitors.

Can he demonstrate how Google is ashamed of its core business or overly trusting?

Only facts and reason can shed light on these biases, but when it comes to diversity and inclusion, Google’s left bias has created a politically correct monoculture that maintains its hold by shaming dissenters into silence.

Query, though this is random and beside the point: is there any corporation, left right or middlin', that doesn't strive for a monoculture on some level?

Second, does he have actual evidence Google has deliberately taken steps to shame people into silence? Every article he links meant to support that is about the field of psychology or university campuses.

Lastly, define politically correct?

Because if one goes with Neil Gaiman's framing of "treating people with respect", then shaming people who don't "treat people with respect" into silence seems… healthy?

Does it mean "Don't say 'retard' or 'lame' or tell rape jokes or dead-name someone"? Again…

Here's his own footnote: 'Political correctness is defined as “the avoidance of forms of expression or action that are perceived to exclude, marginalize, or insult groups of people who are socially disadvantaged or discriminated against,” which makes it clear why it’s a phenomenon of the Left and a tool of authoritarians.'

That doesn't look far from "treating people with respect". It really doesn't look far from "Don't say 'retard' or 'lame' or tell rape jokes"

It may seem obvious to HIM why this makes it a bad thing, but the freedom to use the word retard or use the wrong pronoun doesn't seem like a way to foster the very psychological safety he wants.

He may dislike the phrase "perceived to", because there are often a few assholes who overuse rules against anything with the appearance of insult or exclusion. These are called rules-lawyers and they are jerks no matter their political stripe.

The actual reason for the "perception" phrasing is the reverse; it's to fend off rules-lawyers on the opposite side, who want to BE insulting and discriminatory and who would find a way to twist up any firm rule.

The article he links to discussing PC-Authoritarians discusses them as one of two groups of advocates for political correctness. Whereas he paints all usage of PC as falling into the one camp.

 

For the rest of this document, I’ll concentrate on the extreme stance that all differences in outcome are due to differential treatment

So by his own admission, he is attacking an extremist position, which he has offered no evidence is in fact that of anyone inside Google.

and the authoritarian element that’s required to actually discriminate to create equal representation.

Affirmative action programs are authoritarian. Looking at definitions and examples of authoritarianism, this only makes sense to me if one believes any social support program meant to correct a prior systematic injustice is authoritarian.

Possible non-bias causes of the gender gap in tech [3]

At Google, we’re regularly told that implicit (unconscious) and explicit biases are holding women back in tech and leadership. Of course, men and women experience bias, tech, and the workplace differently and we should be cognizant of this, but it’s far from the whole story.

So here's what YOU see as the thesis. Damore, by contrast, declares it the first piece of evidence against the extremism and authoritarianism above.

On average, men and women biologically differ in many ways.

On average, I would not disagree.

 These differences aren’t just socially constructed because:

  • They’re universal across human cultures
  • They often have clear biological causes and links to prenatal testosterone
  • Biological males that were castrated at birth and raised as females often still identify and act like males
  • The underlying traits are highly heritable
  • They’re exactly what we would predict from an evolutionary psychology perspective

Evolutionary psychology as a field has a bad reputation among social justice groups overall. Some argue it has some merit, just not as initially applied. Others pretty much distrust anything that comes from anyone who claims the name without some kind of caveat recognizing its problematic origins.

I gave myself a headache of sorts looking into evolutionary psychology, both defenses of and criticisms. My final conclusion is that it has some merit as a tool, but is still easy to twist in support of sexism.

The gist of it is this: we can look into some of the ways people (across populations and in general) behave now, and attempt to make a conjecture why that trait evolved. Then they take that theory and attempt to test it. Well, not the idea why the trait evolved, that's physically impossible to test. They usually test whether the behaviour they claim exists actually exists.

The problem with this is… testing the existence of the behaviour NOW actually teaches nothing about whether it was an evolved trait or a societally driven one. The base assumption that a trait that exists now has existed for 100,000 years or more literally cannot be tested. The closest they can come are traits common to most/all societies, which are implicitly more likely to be older. (Another issue that has been raised is the assumption we are not still evolving.)

Even more, the people who started evolutionary psychology as the thing pretty much outright did it in an attempt to prove that gender roles as they were in the 1970s (with a focus upon sexual relations and sexual appeals) were something humankind has always had, and that we should therefore preserve gender roles, not strive to alter them. In short, they were trying to give a scientific veneer to sexism.

The roles we are talking about are much more egregiously sexist than the roles that modern supporters tend to link and cite, and supporters of evolutionary psychology see this as proof it's a science and uses the scientific method. "See, we rejected the bad data and now we're getting closer to the truth."

But there are those who consider this itself a variation of iterated Naziism (to refer to something I linked before): "We couldn't prove the gender differences included all the things we wanted to prove, but what if we claim we have data for this much of the gender difference? We do if we massage it right and elide these bits." And I have to say, the evidence both for and against seems to massage data or shrug off nuance before presenting it. A LOT. some of what some of its proponents seem to think is proven is… really more debatable than they want to make it sound. (and some of what its detractors take as utterly destroying it… doesn't do any better.)

Part of the reason some responders appear to be saying there is no real gender difference whatsoever is a rejection of this iterated Nazi effect.

Yet … most people when asked about it without evolutionary psychology, would grant SOME difference between genders. Physical science has also seen some differences between male brains, female brains, and transgender brains. (trans brains seem to tend to include many, though not all traits of the gender the person declares themselves… and often, a few things that fit neither their assigned gender or their declared gender, but resemble neither. Another whole discussion though.) So observing some differences in behaviour and general trends between genders, is also to be expected. Some of these WILL logically have developed longer ago than others, even prehistorically

Sounds great, until you start reading someone saying that women don't go into jobs like upper management because the long hours, frequent travel schedule, unpredictable crises, and amount of work required outside of work hours are detrimental to the work-life balance women prefer.

Then look at how many low-status jobs women are known for also contain the above.

Until you see these trends being applied to all people of that gender regardless of how many caveats are written saying this is on average. Unless you see it being used to excuse wildly different treatments despite the visible overlaps.

In any case, all that history, all that explanation why some people flinch or throw things at the mention of evopsych is beside the point. So far nothing stated has been terribly wrong.

Note, I’m not saying that all men differ from women in the following ways or that these differences are “just.” I’m simply stating that the distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and that these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership. Many of these differences are small and there’s significant overlap between men and women, so you can’t say anything about an individual given these population level distributions.

This is the paragraph (And attached diagram, which I am cutting out but am aware exists) you seem to see as his central point, despite the fact that if judging people as individuals were the point, he wouldn’t have had to raise evopsych or the actual differences between men and women at all. Remember, he's defending himself here against an extreme stance he has not actually proven is more prevalent than a more moderate stance.

 

Reading over my comments in the Female traits section, other than the note that he does not acknowledge the studies showing women being assertive in business environments are punished socially for it, I mostly didn't have big objections or pick apart much of interest. My biggest objection came at the end:

 

The problems women mostly talk about when talking about discrimination in tech are not problems of having the inclination, or having the ability. By the time we're talking about the people trying to work for Google, we're looking at people who already skip past all these averages and have a declared interest in a non-feminine field.

I have more to say in the next area, though again, this is all more of a side trip than the general point.

Men’s higher drive for status

We always ask why we don’t see women in top leadership positions, but we never ask why we see so many men in these jobs.

I literally cannot see a way you can ask the one without asking the other. When we are looking at what traits women lack, we are implicitly suggesting the men have those traits. When we are looking at aspects of a job women prefer, we are implying what men prefer. When we are looking at systematic exclusion, we are implicitly noting systematic INCLUSION. Assuming a binary, and for these purposes, we can briefly elide those populations that do not fit the binary -- unlike in tech, in most of these positions they suffer if anything MORE discrimination -- you literally cannot examine why women are not in top leadership positions without some data suggested about men. EVERY STUDY about women in power is pretty much obliged to use men as a control sample.

 These positions often require long, stressful hours that may not be worth it if you want a balanced and fulfilling life.

Again, so do many jobs typically held by women, they're just low status. The argument about women and ability to cope with stress seems much more suited to arguing why women are so much less often firefighters than why women are rarely CEOs. Besides, what has this to do with tech? Tech jobs aren't top leadership.

Status is the primary metric that men are judged on [4], pushing many men into these higher paying, less satisfying jobs for the status that they entail. Note, the same forces that lead men into high pay/high stress jobs in tech and leadership cause men to take undesirable and dangerous jobs like coal mining, garbage collection, and firefighting, and suffer 93% of work-related deaths.

Are they the literal same drives? I am skeptical. Some of these areas also have an explicable difference in the physical divergence between the genders, not in their psychological differences. And coal mining is geographically focused -- in locations which tend towards much more conservative culture and gender roles.

I wonder how many studies have been done on how much more often women insist on, and/or follow, safety regulations?

But this is nitpicking, really. I don't disagree with the general point.

Still, this entire thing seems like a non-sequitur for tech jobs, few of which are as high status as is required for the gender difference in status-seeking to be a big part of the problem. Equating software engineering with top leadership is definitely as weird as comparing it with coal mining.

Non-discriminatory ways to reduce the gender gap

Below I’ll go over some of the differences in distribution of traits between men and women that I outlined in the previous section and suggest ways to address them to increase women’s representation in tech without resorting to discrimination. Google is already making strides in many of these areas, but I think it’s still instructive to list them:

This section is part of where I started really feeling skeeved out. And confused. If the gender gap is determined by our psychology, then why is it necessary to help reduce it? His caveats so far have included ONE line which implies sure, the psychology is not the complete story, and lots of "on average" caveats.

Let's assume this was a blip in writing, he meant to say, "despite these differences, some of the gap is based on discrimination against women. So how do we help reduce the remaining gap?"

Which he does… with the same thing he is using to explain why at least some of the gender gap is explicable and pardonable.

Never mind those women who want the job as written, who are exceptions to averages.

I feel like I'm seeing several contradictions in those last four paragraphs of mine. We don't need to make this job more appealing to women, but we can do these things to make them so. Women should be judged as individuals not subsumed in average differences, but we need to accommodate their blanket different thinking by these methods.

This whole section also suddenly becomes weirdly citation free. He provides no evidence these things -- without any other initiatives -- actually reduce the gender gap. And several of them are either vague or counter-productive, with one another if not with the stated goal.

He later goes on to suggest getting rid of all affirmative action type projects -- he's technically already done it, just not at length -- but this is all he has to replace them. It's like replacing the ACA with Trumpcare. There's no evidence any of this has a real impact, and where it does, some of it seems intended to do the opposite of the declared objective.

This is one of the places that, whatever else you feel about Zunger's commentary, he makes  a lot of points directly addressing these things.

  • Women on average show a higher interest in people and men in things
    • We can make software engineering more people-oriented with pair programming and more collaboration. Unfortunately, there may be limits to how people-oriented certain roles and Google can be and we shouldn’t deceive ourselves or students into thinking otherwise (some of our programs to get female students into coding might be doing this). (evidence? This sentence is clearly speculation, but it's also alarmist in tone. There's nothing cited to suggest any program is deceiving its students about how people oriented the tech jobs are, but neither is there proof  that telling people at this late a stage that tech jobs are not people-oriented would put women off the job.)
  • Women on average are more cooperative
    • Allow those exhibiting cooperative behavior to thrive. (Which means what?) Recent updates to Perf may be doing this to an extent, but maybe there’s more we can do.
    • This doesn’t mean that we should remove all competitiveness from Google. Competitiveness and self reliance can be valuable traits and we shouldn’t necessarily disadvantage those that have them, like what’s been done in education. (This article goes to considerable length to say that what men need is a more traditionally masculine upbringing and more father figures and masculine roles.)
  • Women on average are more prone to anxiety.
    • Make tech and leadership less stressful. Google already partly does this with its many stress reduction courses and benefits. (Another generic solution for a specific problem. Also of note later.)
  • Women on average look for more work-life balance while men have a higher drive for status on average
    • Unfortunately, as long as tech and leadership remain high status, lucrative careers, men may disproportionately want to be in them. Allowing and truly endorsing (as part of our culture) part time work though can keep more women in tech.

On the reverse, it seems like the way to get men to actually embrace more work life balance is simple, and it has nothing to do with women. If more men take time off for family, and come back to their jobs with no ill consequences, more men want to take time off for family. This is what has happened in companies and countries where parental time off is an option for both genders -- nothing happened with the fathers until some man actually took the leave and became a seed crystal to catalyze the others. So why is this not a part of his offered solutions?

Part time is rarely a solution in high tech jobs because it's darn near impossible to either rise in a company by part time means, or to do the upper level work on lower hours. Offering part time jobs almost always means offering them as low-status positions only. By contrast, flex-time options that still add up to full hours and a lot of time shared with fellow employees tend to be preferred higher end solutions for work-life. And once women demand and get it, some men start taking it too.

 

  • The male gender role is currently inflexible
    • Feminism has made great progress in freeing women from the female gender role, but men are still very much tied to the male gender role. If we, as a society, allow men to be more “feminine,” then the gender gap will shrink, although probably because men will leave tech and leadership for traditionally feminine roles. (So shortly after endorsing traditionally masculine upbringng and attitudes, he endorses feminizing men. Maybe he thinks he means being the seed crystal guy in the point above? Or maybe he's just unaware he's offering opposites as solutions. He's certainly implying that men who are allowed to be more feminine will want to leave tech -- which is itself another implication "women don't really want to be here anyhow" -- not just seek options that allow more work-life balance.)

 

Philosophically, I don’t think we should do arbitrary social engineering of tech just to make it appealing to equal portions of both men and women. For each of these changes, we need principled reasons for why it helps Google; that is, we should be optimizing for Google—with Google’s diversity being a component of that.

 

Which sounds like admitting he doesn't have any proof for any of these, and doesn't even really want to bother with any of them and these solutions are all coming out of his ass. But oh, yes, by the way, he really does want diversity.

 
The Harm of Google’s biases

I strongly believe in gender and racial diversity, and I think we should strive for more. However, to achieve a more equal gender and race representation, Google has created several discriminatory practices:

How you could let him have a pass for something like this while complaining about the logical gaps of his detractors, I don't know.

When did race come into this? Why are we suddenly talking about racism when he has talked this far exclusively about gender gap and gender bias? Does he have evidence of racial disparity being based on genuine difference? I doubt it. I highly doubt it. I also suspect he skipped that because if he tried to include such a section, his opinion would lose the veneer of respectability.

  • Programs, mentoring, and classes only for people with a certain gender or race.
  •  A high priority queue and special treatment for “diversity” candidates
  • Hiring practices which can effectively lower the bar for “diversity” candidates by decreasing the false negative rate (link is private. Not very helpful. )

I've already noted that even accusing a business of lowering the bar to let in certain minority candidates is a way to increase hostility towards those candidates by raising doubts bout their qualifications. And "Oh, but we didn't mean you, Julie. You're a good one." comments aren't that reassuring, as they represent a kind of "divide and conquer" or "exceptional female" attitude which is the reverse of really embracing diversity.

However, I also have to say, almost every time someone has argued that one is lowering the bar for diversity, there's some evidence that mediocre, just-barely-hired people in the NON-diverse group are the main ones to suffer, and that the candidates perceived as "less qualified" are at least as qualified as the mediocre candidates they replaced. So you're not generally losing good people to less qualified candidates. Often, too, at the top level of resumes, the differences aren't nearly as meaningful.

  • Reconsidering any set of people if it’s not “diverse” enough, but not showing that same scrutiny in the reverse direction (clear confirmation bias)

I'm not even sure how this works. In what way should a diverse group be "reconsidered" if they are already diverse? In what way are non-diverse groups reconsidered? Does he mean non-diverse groups have their actual production questioned and diverse groups do not? That WOULD be heinous and I think it's what he wants us to think, but it's also unclear that this is what is happening.

I suspect all it means is that if a group forms that is 8 white dudes, the upper levels mention it should be more diverse, but if a group of 8 gets formed that includes three women and three PoC {in overlapping circles}, the upper management doesn't blink.

  • Setting org level OKRs for increased representation which can incentivize illegal discrimination [6]

Illegal discrimination sounds horrible. But what does it mean? His footnote doesn't especially clarify.

I also have no idea what the techy words in this translate to, or the footnote except that he wants smaller groups within the company to hire diversely, not the company as a whole. I think.

  • These practices are based on false assumptions generated by our biases and can actually increase race and gender tensions. We’re told by senior leadership that what we’re doing is both the morally and economically correct thing to do, but without evidence this is just veiled left ideology [7] that can irreparably harm Google.

That last link is worth reading and thinking about.

It is not, in itself, proof that Google as a whole is failing to observe the effects of its policies, especially since working for Google itself, in a specific diverse department, with a specific (diverse) team, creates a basis for "Common interests" which is one of the main things the very same article cites as helping to decrease tensions.

Does he have evidence they lack evidence? Does he have evidence they have made changes this large, and don't know what they are doing or who it benefits?

Overall, the whole gist here is "Eliminate ALL of the known programs to promote diversity because I feel they discriminate against ME." After presenting what he feels is considerable evidence to  indicate that the gender bias against women is natural and to be expected, he proposes "solutions" with no supported evidence they will fix the gender gap, suggests removing nearly every instance of actual programs to help increase the number of women in the industry, and claims they are harmful to Google without presenting evidence how.

He offers NO evidence suggesting the racial gap is natural or normal, yet nonetheless suggests deleting all programs designed to decrease the racial gap, citing only one article discussing increased tensions in universities (Which article itself proposes solutions he never mentions.)

The footnote is another evidence-free opinion.

 

(And whatever the demerits of its awful title - I hate the title so much - the essay "I'm a woman in Tech. Let me Ladysplain the Google Memo to you" has some pretty firm points on this section:

 

"Many defenders of the manifesto have eagerly, and, as far as I can tell, earnestly, pointed me to the manifesto writer’s frequent claims to support diversity in the abstract, as if these are supposed to be reassuring. (“I value diversity and inclusion, am not denying that sexism exists. ...”) They are not reassuring. The object of his memo is to end programs at Google that were designed, with input from a great many people who are educated and focused on this issue, to improve diversity. If those programs are killed, absent a commensurate effort to create replacement programs that have plausible ability to be at least as effective, the result is to harm diversity at Google.

 

He does make some recommendations, but they range from impotent (“Make tech and leadership less stressful”) to hopelessly vague (“Allow those exhibiting cooperative behavior to thrive”) to outright hostile (“De-emphasize empathy”).

 

In the end, focusing the conversation on the minutiae of the scientific claims in the manifesto is a red herring. Regardless of whether biological differences exist, there is no shortage of glaring evidence, in individual stories and in scientific studies, that women in tech experience bias and a general lack of a welcoming environment, as do underrepresented minorities. Until these problems are resolved, our focus should be on remedying that injustice. After that work is complete, we can reassess whether small effect size biological components have anything to do with lingering imbalances.

 

 At this point, I only really want to cite one line of his next section:

 

In addition to the Left’s affinity for those it sees as weak, humans are generally biased towards protecting females.

 This is his claimed explanation why there are diversity-supporting programs at all. To protect the weak and female.

 His comparison of Google's leftward bias to climate change warrants little attention. His description of people trying to discuss male problems getting dismissed, is supported not by psychological studies or neutral articles as he tries with everything else, but with an explicitly anti-feminist link -- I can't even.  (He, and it, are not even factually wrong about some of the men's issues, but he didn't write this to discuss changes to the dress code to allow men to wear a greater variety, or to discuss men as victims of physical violence.)

 In fact, at this point, without picking apart every bit of the remainder of the memo, I think I've advanced a pretty good case that there is a whole lot of actual discrimination present against supporting women or minorities in tech, that the science is not the issue. If you really want me to comment on the section about allowing conservative voices and de-emphasizing empathy etc., ask away. I won't do it now. I have a literal headache.

 

As an addendum, your interpretation of the memo:

Gary's ACTUAL central point is one we've discussed before and you seemed to agree with, or at minimum be open to: That gender ratios in tech are not well-explained by sexist behaviour in tech companies. Whatever is keeping women out of those companies, most of it happens WAY too early in life to be plausibly explained by that, as gender ratios in high-school programming courses are similar or even worse. And in any case, lots of far more sexist, less feminist-friendly organizations (the Catholic Church jumps immediately to mind) have far better gender ratios! Not to deny that sexist treatment can have an effect, but you can't just read the prevalence of sexist behaviour from an organization's gender ratio in a simple one-to-one fashion. There's something else going on.

You don't have to believe anything overtly un-feminist to think it's entirely possible, even probable, that even in a situation with no sexist discrimination and perfect equality of opportunity, there would STILL be less than 50% women engineers at Google. This does not of course mean that you can assume any GIVEN women isn't a capable engineer; individuals need to be judged as individuals, that's the entire POINT here. But nevertheless, *in the aggregate* women and men are not identical, even feminists are happy to admit this when it suits their immediate rhetorical purposes. The surprise would be if they WERE interested in the same things in the same ratios.

(Writing this is making me pissed off at Zunger all over again. It's a major recurring theme, arguably THE theme, of Gary's memo that people should be judged as individuals and not as members of groups, and he repeatedly acknowledges that there are many solid female engineers at Google….)

 

You'll notice that very little of this actually falls into the category of "Stuff I had a problem with".

 

No, I would not expect genuine equality of opportunity between genders to lead to gender parity, though I would expect a smaller gap, a hugely decreased reportage of sexist behaviour and harassment, and more equal gender percentages reflected when assholery IS reported. I WOULD expect genuine, pie in the sky equality of opportunity between racial groups to lead to percentages of representation close to those in the population as a whole, but we are so far from that, so much farther than we are from gender equality of opportunity. Similarly, for disparities in class.

 

You'll also notice that almost none of your interpretation is related to his TL:DR summary of his intent, or his final list of suggested solutions either to the gender gap OR to Google's bias.

 

 

twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
Dreamwidth will not allow me to respond to replies to comments in other people's journals now. It simply will not allow me onto the page.

Petra: when I was there, St. Bonaventure University was 1800 people in all, plus 200 or so grad students, so fairly small. Not without its bad behavior by some and a number of outright scoundrels, but I don't recall Paladino being one of them.

assorted stuff from a hell of a week

Aug. 18th, 2017 08:19 pm
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
"Things won't change if the Grand Wizard remains in office." And he's running out of Republicans to alienate. Mitt Romney called on him to back away from his response to Charlottesville.

Since the police refused to protect the Charlottesville synagogue, the synagogue has hired armed security guards.

You'll never be as radical as this 18th Century Quaker dwarf. So you know: Quakers did not wear military uniforms or take up arms. This is relevant.

White pride is not a culture. And Southern pride in a time of terror, which talks about real Southern culture.

A social justice syllabus.

The entire US military has broken away from Trump and openly denounced racism.

The ACLU will no longer defend hate groups protesting while carrying firearms. This is a first.

A 21-year-old Nazi sympathizer who marched in Charlottesville is now whining that his life is over because he was identified as marching with Nazis and KKK. I don't have a violin small enough.

The real horror of Trump's response to Charlottesville.

A Charlottesville ER nurse talks, after a day of decompression.

Retracing Willa Cather's steps in the south of France.

Are we different writers when we move from longhand to a screen? I can say that I write poetry differently with a pen in hand, and essays differently, and I don't write nonfiction there at all.

The landscape of Civil War commemoration. 13,000 monuments, and descriptions.

Churches Uniting in Christ statement on white nationalism and white supremacism. The member churches of CUIC include the African Methodist Episcopal Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, The Episcopal Church, the International Council of Community Churches, the Moravian Church (Northern Province), the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church.

The president's Arts and Humanities Council, founded by Obama, has resigned over Trump's Charlottesville response.

Bannon's out of the White House; Trumpists are more afraid of him now.

3 major charities canceled Mar-a-Lago galas.

Charlottesville forces media and tech companies to draw a line on what they will allow.

In Oregon, rural Muslims fight for safety and inclusion.

In Iran, cracking down on journalists.

Ranking countries by their blasphemy laws.

New Dallas police officers face questions on how an ethical officer would act.

It's hard to find an impartial jury for pharmaceuticals scammer Martin Shkreli's
trial.
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
1. Look out the window and see how many demonstrators there are and how well armed they are. If you can't see them from there, go where you can. Take a picture with your phone - if you don't have a cell phone, get your aide to do it. Estimate the number of people in the group, their general ages and level of organization, and the visible armaments present. Is it signs on wood, not cardboard, posts? Is it flags on wooden flagpoles? Clubs? Swords? Is it pistols? Shotguns? Semi-automatic weapons? You should be able to tell from the photo. Are there insignia or symbols present? What groups do they represent? What is the goal of those groups?

1a. If there are fewer demonstrators than your available police and with less-able weapons, send the police to keep order. Or even if there are a few more but they are not heavily armed.

2. If there are more demonstrators than you have police, or they are better armed (though with all the gifts of military weaponry to local police groups this seems unlikely), get on the phone to call your State Police, local station or substation, and inform them of the situation and ask them for help. State police are well armed, generally extremely well trained, and just the people who should be there making sure things stay calm and the different groups of demonstrators stay clear of one another.

3. If for some reason (I cannot think of one but perhaps one exists in some alternate universe) you cannot call the State Police for help (or, in Virginia, Massachusetts, Kentucky and Pennsylvania, the Commonwealth Police), get on the phone to the governor and ask for the local branch of the National Guard to be mobilized to protect the people of your constituency.

Dear mayor/supervisor/top elected official, it is your job to make sure that peaceful protesters are not beaten down either by police or by armed insurgents who consider themselves protesters although by being armed and hostile they do not come under the coverage of the First Amendment. It is your job to keep people safe. If you don't call out adequate police/state cops/Guardsmen, you are failing your job and your people, and you do not deserve to be in office.

Is that clear???

Help!

Aug. 18th, 2017 10:41 am
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
I am having an extreme amount of trouble logging in and staying logged in. Dreamwidth is requiring me to log in every time I go to a different page for the last two days. I had to log in to go from my reading page to here. It doesn't recognize my login sometimes and asks if I want to start an account -- when I have been here since the beginning. It is ignoring me when I check 'remember me' at login.

I have tried to contact support, but it logs me out as I write the ticket, and then does the same thing when I write it again. And then tells me the entry is invalid and needs to be done over. For this reason I haven't been able to contact Support.

If anyone from Support is reading this, would you please do what you can to stop this frustrating situation?

Believe what you see.

Aug. 18th, 2017 12:01 am
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
From a Charlottesville resident:

"There seems to be a perception from people outside of Charlottesville that what is going on here is two opposing groups coming to town and fighting some ideological battle that has gotten messy. That is not what is happening here. What is happening here is that several hate groups from the extreme right have come together under the "unite the right" banner here in our town and basically started acting as terrorists. This may seem like an exaggeration but it's not...."
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
Confederate-honoring statues are going down. In Hollywood Forever Cemetery, LA. And Lexington, KY. And quite a few other places. And Nancy Pelosi wants them out of the Capitol. Here's a list across the country.

And whose heritage do public symbols of confederacy belong to, anyway?

Florida has more racist hate groups than any other state; I wonder how old the members are.

Texas A&M cancels a rally by white supremacists, because of the possibility of violence against students.

Congressman Will Hurd and others say Trump should apologize for his remarks about Charlottesville.

Not only did Trump's business leaders walk away from him, they're not quiet about why. Here's another statement of why, including the following: "To be clear, the council never lived up to its potential for delivering policies that lift up working families. In fact, we were never called to a single official meeting, even though it comprised some of the world’s top business and labor leaders. The A.F.L.-C.I.O. joined to bring the voices of working people to the table and advocate the manufacturing initiatives our country desperately needs. But the only thing the council ever manufactured was letterhead. In the end, it was just another broken promise."

It took quite a bit of behind the scenes discussion, apparently.

And a look into the past history of American racism in the other inconvenient truth. Note the role Nixon had in creating hatred and persecution that continues to this day.

The racist who organized the Charlottesville white separtists ran away from his own press conference. Another white separatist was stuck having a press conference in his own office after two hotels turned him down.

I am not sure I agree with this idea of how to handle Trump, by making him say only what is written down. Why? I'm not sure he's literate enough to deal with the concepts. Even when he writes things down, they're offensive, ignorant, ahistorical and just plain wrong. And he's as much of a racist in private as in public. It's not just for show. He's bad enough at being president that the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is saying, publicly, Trump lacks the stability and competence to do the job. Is he about to go down in flames? The big question: What do you do when the President is unAmerican?

At this point, domestic terrorism is not a federal crime; that may change soon. Or we may have to consider if we are heading for another civil war.

Bannon doesn't understand about interviews. He should. He was a founder of Breitbart, and fell down their hole long ago.

And Silicon Valley is having an anti-Nazi purge. Twitter is shutting down white supremacist accounts. Can they shut down Trump now? Maybe the damaging myth of the longer genius nerd is involved.

The NYTimes has thoughts on how to roll back fanaticism.

***

Is there a better way to protest?

Malala is going to Oxford.

New Jersey introduces a fund to support local journalism.

A new poem by Sherman Alexie.

Trump's anti-abortion policies could keep girls around the world out of school.

Top journalists talk about the best job advice they were ever given. And 7 quick tips for conducting tough interviews.

When someone is hit by a train in the NY Subway, where do they put the body? In the MTA lunchrooms!

Some thoughts on signaling behavior and decisionmaking in government.

Buddhist wisdom: Everything we do matters, but two things are critical.

You don't know about Vernice Warfield, but you should.

Meg Wollitzer on feeling strong without a security blanket.

Talking with Lili Taylor and Janeane Garofalo.

And down they come

Aug. 17th, 2017 11:34 am
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
In Baltimore, four Confederate statues were taken down at night and without prior notice, by order of the mayor. The City Council had called for their removal, also.

In Durham, NC, the night after Charlottesville, citizens tore down a Confederate statue. Police are investigating. Three of the crowd are turning themselves in. And, in a genuine I-Am-Spartacus! move, others are joining them.

Why quiet liberal Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia, became ground zero.

A positive and creative reaction to Nazis marching through your town -- don't just donate to anti-Nazi groups, but get out there and cheer them on as helping anti-Nazi groups. Confuses the hell out of them.

Why Robert Mueller is looking at Trump SoHo. Not about Confederates, but about working to throw a fascist out of the White House. And another piece of the Trump/Russia puzzle. Yes, it's probably slashy but I'm not interested to know the details.

And because of Charlottesville, Trump's two business councils dissolved themselves -- walked away. He, of course, took credit for disbanding them, but it was another lie.

Meanwhile, House Democrats are moving to formally censure Trump over his response to Charlottesville that indicated he was on the side of the Nazis and white supremacists.

***

In China, Facebook tests a stealth app. And how stealthy will it be if the NY Times is writing about it? Do they think they have no readers in China?

TED: How your brain decides what is beautiful. And let's end ageism. And the fascinating reason children write letters backward.

"Virtue signaling" isn't the problem. Not believing each other is. I'd add, not trusting each other.

Why some famous singers are ruining their voices. And yes, there are people whose voices I hear and it makes my own throat hurt.

Libraries are the real punk rock.

100 law professors have written to Trump to tell him there is no question that the Dream Act is Constitutional.
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
First -- you need to know that the March for Racial Justice has been scheduled for Yom Kippur, excluding anyone Jewish who might want to participate, and the organizers refuse to reschedule: behind cut for length )

ETA: They changed the date.

Second, a Quaker response to Charlottesville from Baltimore Yearly Meeting Quoting: behind cut for length )

Third, the experience of Congregation Beth Israel in Charlottesville. Behind cut for length, but please, please read it. )

Fourth, a philosophical principle coined in 1945 could be a key US defense against white supremacists. It's the Paradox of Tolerance:

1. A tolerant society should be tolerant by default,
2. With one exception: it should not tolerate intolerance itself.

Start throwing (metaphorical) rocks.

Aug. 16th, 2017 11:18 am
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
On taking action against white supremacists as metaphorical rock-paper-scissors.

I'm not going to repeat all the links in the superb posts I'm seeing. Instead, I'm asking you to go read this one by [personal profile] rydra_wong and this one by [personal profile] kore because they're brilliant. And they have good historical info on the way the Klan has moved through the last century of US history, what knocked them down and what's different now. For instance, I don't recall any other time when KKK/white supremacist members rallied without their robes, with their faces uncovered and in bright torchlight so they're identifiable in the camera photos that are posted online -- and then must account to the others in their lives (bosses, families, universities) for their actions.

And yes, Trump did not slip when he said the alt-left in Charlottesville was attacking "us". He did mean that he identifies with the white supremacists/Nazis/KKK. It wasn't a slip-up, no matter what you hear from "unnamed White House sources". Watch the Rachel Maddow videos in [personal profile] kore's post; she puts it together well. Ignore the toadies from the staff. But do take note of them as untrustworthy; they have already sold themselves to Trump.

ETA: [personal profile] rachelmanija is planning to be part of a counterprotest, to oppose Nazis at a rally in Los Angeles this Saturday, and invites those of you who wish to join her to let her know. Be safe, please, and counterprotest while keeping a good distance from people with clubs and other weapons, okay?

In the middle of this hatefulness, I implore you to find something that feeds your spirit, your soul, whatever you want to call the deepest inmost part of yourself, that makes you happy, that gives you joy, and keep doing it. The only way to do this kind of work, opposing hate, and get through it sanely is to fill yourself first with joy and love and peace to give you strength. Whatever it is, let it be your refuge. We will not see the last of this for a long time; best to start now to create your own inner sanctuary that nobody can mess with. For me it is meditation, prayer, shamanic practice, and tai chi. Handwork also helps-- knitting, spinning, weaving. Walking on the woods trails, when my foot is up to it again. Music, always. You can't give to others from your own lack; fill yourself first.

Insomnia Post

Aug. 16th, 2017 03:18 am
tablesaw: Charlie Crews, in a dark suit, rests his head on his left hand (That's Life)
[personal profile] tablesaw
I really wish i were better at typing on my phone because i can't sleep but i don't want to get a laptop while I'm in bed.

what ho? a calendar?

Aug. 15th, 2017 02:15 pm
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
Does anyone know when the Shakespeare fiction exchanges assignments are to come out? I can't find it in my calendar, and I'd like to know so I can set the time aside for it.
twistedchick: General Leia in The Force Awakens (Default)
[personal profile] twistedchick
An arc of arms are reaching out from distant
Suns whose gestures stir the life of seeds.
To be here, now, requires our hearts to listen,
Watch, and know that Light fulfills our needs.

When gripped by stagnant vines of fear, relief
Springs from the pulsing centers of our chests.
False boundaries dissolve in prayer; peace weaves
The seeming chaos into something blessed.

Stay rooted. Stand witness. Be upholding.
Guidance from great Mother Oak whose limbs will
Move ours to join in sacred dance, singing
Aloud that work is love made visible.

Roused by poetic muse of rainbow voice,
What stirs us also presses us against
The tide of thick embranglement of choice
In which our spirits rise and fall, unfenced.

One truth: that drawn by gravity and awe,
The world is in relationship with all.

***

This poem accompanied a five-panel watercolor painting about 30 feet long in all, which was displayed at Pendle Hill, the Quaker 'experiment in living', in 2011.
fairestcat: Bobbi Morse, a blonde woman standing in the rain, with a mask-like pair of glasses pushed up on her head (Bobbi Morse)
[personal profile] fairestcat
I'm really excited about this. I stepped outside my comfort zone and volunteered to write a monthly Column about Marvel comics over at Women Write About Comics.

My first post went up today and you can read it here.

This is my first time in a long time writing for an audience that isn't people I already know and I'm both nervous and excited about it. Mostly excited, I think. Ask me again when I have to put together my August post.
twistedchick: mountains, Jackson Brown quote: You do what you can to keep your love alive -- try not to confuse this with what you do  (love alive)
[personal profile] twistedchick
When I do not go on and on about them here, it isn't because I want to ignore them. It's because I don't want to give them my space here. I want to keep this space for things that we need to know -- yes -- but in particular for stories and issues and art and music and anything else that is about life, culture, love, joy and peace.

I am not ignoring the warmongers -- they are out there. You see them screaming in many places. I do not want to endorse their screams. I am not silent and consenting to anything; I am trying to offer alternatives.

One alternative that I endorse is the Alternatives to Violence Project, which teaches ways to resolve differences without violence, manipulation or deception but honestly, thoughtfully and with consideration.

You will still see news items here about them, but probably not the ones that are everywhere else. You can get those everywhere else.

We are already in a war of the mind and the heart, holding fast to peace and courage against hatred and ignorance. I want to feed your heads (thank you, Grace Slick!) and hearts with words that nourish and inform and enjoy and celebrate life; that is what you need to stand up and stay standing.

Stay rooted. Stand witness. Be upholding.

(and when I find the rest of that poem I will put it here.)

ETA: In Second Life, the equivalent is griefers -- people who come into SL only to create trouble for others. They can't actually destroy anyone else or anyone else's things, but they come in to disrupt events, to cause problems for entire regions by filling them with trash, animations, particle storms (think fiery clouds) so that all the extra space is used up and the region crashes. Some of them are overt Nazis or white supremacists; they are banned from Oxbridge, the newcomer education region where I volunteer, as soon as they are seen. The standard policy, though, is not to give space to them -- not to talk about griefers in public chat rooms or at events -- because they monitor these areas and want to know if what they did affected anyone. We wish to rob them of that satisfaction.

I realize SL is not RL, real life. If you have an organization to promote that confronts and fights White Supremacy in any fashion and you want to spread the word, I will be glad to include it here.

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