One of the Greatest Things

July 17, 2014 § Leave a comment

…Is this video of Joaquin Phoenix’s super serious forehead flipped upside to look like a monster’s smiling face. Just trust me.

The Wisdom of Puppies

July 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

I know, I know, I haven’t been posting much, largely because I immediately jumped from submitting my first book to working on the proposal for my second book, which will focus on antagonism, mischief, and humor online. Also, all these episodes of Broad City, Frisky Dingo, and Sins & Secrets aren’t going to watch themselves, oh well. I will likely return to a more regular posting schedule once my life schedule gets back to normal, or what passes for normal. For now, here is a puppy expressing concern for his elderly friend!

Fembot Schools of Shame (SOS) Map

June 16, 2014 § Leave a comment

The amazing humans over at the Fembot Collective have just put together an SOS map visualizing the discrepancy between expected incidence of college sexual assault (based on the White House’s recent report on the subject) and the assaults that are actually reported and disclosed per the Cleary Act. As anyone even remotely familiar with sexual assault on college campuses (or sexual assault generally) will be utterly unsurprised to discover, the discrepancies between these numbers are staggering. Here is that map, as well as Fembot’s explanation of the research process (full disclosure: I helped with some fact-checking).

On that same note, here is the story of one woman –one woman amongst thousands and thousands of women– whose experiences are not reflected in the Cleary statistics. Not reflected because she did not report her assault; and not reported because she didn’t think it would do anything, and more insidiously, because she’d internalized the idea that it was her fault for “letting” it happen. As writer and Yale grad Amanda Ruggeri explains of her decision to remain silent:

As the years went on, I became only more aware of just how commonly this happens — and how few of us have come forward. In our senior year, I was in an all-female secret society. There were 13 of us. We were 21 years old. As each of us gave our “bios,” or life histories, the traditional way to jump-start what was meant to be a lifelong bond, I kept count.

The number was four. And all four assaults had gone unreported, un-investigated, and uncounted.

A few years later, I was having dinner with two good friends. Somewhere between our second and third cocktails, we found out that each of us had, at one point during our university years, been raped. We were all strong women, and none of us had pressed charges. We were all smart, and none of us seemed to realize, deep down, that we were entirely blameless for what had happened. We were all writers, and none of us had published a sentence about our assaults.

“I was roofied and raped in college,” I told a different friend about a month ago. She took a swig of wine and laughed wryly. She had been, too, it turned out. A bartender. A glass of water. A ten-hour blackout. A naked wake-up. Vomit on her hands. She did a rape kit, but she wished she hadn’t: invasive, traumatizing. She did not press charges. She did not know where he was, these days.

“It’s like women are the walking wounded,” a friend commented to me once. Dealing with it on our own, quietly — whether because that’s what strong women do, or what good girls do, I’m not sure.

But one thing is for certain: Most of us don’t speak. No matter how strong we are, no matter how “feminist,” we carry around with us a sense that, somehow, we brought the assault on ourselves. We were too flirtatious. Or we didn’t say “no” loudly enough. Or we were wearing the wrong thing. Or we should have known better than to go to his room, get in his car, go for a drink, accept that shot.

I’d say I’m not sure where we pick up those signals, so much and so early. Except, of course, that I do — because they’re everywhere.

I won’t even try to throw together a tidy conclusion.

Regarding Slenderman

June 11, 2014 § Leave a comment


For those of you who haven’t heard from The Media, the internet is currently being stalked –STALKED!– by a mythological creature with origins dating as far back as ancient Egypt (i.e. 2009 on the Something Awful forums), who has already claimed…well one victim for sure, but maybe two depending on whether or not this mother is correct in assuming that the reason her daughter tried to stab her was because of something the daughter read about on the internet and which the mother then read about on the internet, thus putting the pieces together.

There have been some interesting takes on the story, like this Slate piece in which journalist Katy Wladman frames Slenderman as the perfect metaphor for how we describe (and -erroneously- decry as aberrant) acts of violence, and I like certain sections of this Verge article as well, particularly the bits where author Adrianne Jeffries debunks the idea that there’s such an easy relationship between people who do crazy things and their media engagement practices (although it also does what most of the articles on the subject do and speak of the Slenderman character as if it has its own agency, which is weird because it’s a meme).

« Read the rest of this entry »

Today’s Travels: Book Madness Edition

June 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Things have been raaaather hectic of late, what with final book details and etc etc, plus other simmering projects like fact-checking campus rape statistics for a sexual assault data representation project forthcoming from Fembot, a feminist media and tech collective. More on that later this week when the thing goes live but boy howdy, are those some grim statistics. Because of that I’ve just not really been “paying attention to anything,” as they say in the business.

But! Here’s what Chris sent me when I told him “I need you to send me something funny or cute.” He said these pictures, apparently of Kirsten Dunst “and that guy who looks like Toby Maguire” were so NOT cute they were funny, which is good enough for me.

In that same vein, here’s a video I clicked on because the headline read “You Can’t Punch People Because You Want Pancakes,” which is a lie.

Another thing I liked this morning was teens reacting to an old internet instructional dealie; as a general rule, “The 90s” plus “The Internet” is always going to be pretty funny. Money quote: “Their clothes and their computer…it’s just so OLD.” You bet your cybernet they are! Also, apparently the source of this magical gif:

something ducks walk on


That’s all I got you guys, God bless you all.


May 31, 2014 § Leave a comment

Yas, yas, YAS! Dogs need to get pumped too you know. I’M GETTING PUMPED JUST THINKING ABOUT IT. They should make one of these for editing books!!!

via What’s trending

“So Bad It’s Funny: Ambiguous Fan Engagement as an Expression of Cultural Literacy” — Presentation for 2014’s International Communications Association Meeting in Seattle, WA

May 23, 2014 § 1 Comment

Actual first slide

Actual first slide

 From the panel “How Memes Matter: Probing New Modes of Popular Participation and Exclusion,” May 24, 2014.

Today I’m going to be talking about online content that is so bad, or so weird, or so broken, or so dated, that it’s great.

Although English lacks a quick and easy way of describing such content, the Japanese and Chinese-speaking webs have it covered: kuso (“e gao” in Mandarin), literally translated from Japanese as “shitty.”

In Japan, “kuso” is a basic and highly versatile adjective—not unlike shitty in English. In the context of bad video games (Kuso-ge) and other amusingly sub-par content, however, the term takes on more nuanced meaning, something to the effect of “this is so bad and stupid and terribly designed, I LOVE IT!!!”

That’s the basic overview of what this talk will cover. Here are two things I will not be addressing:

Another actual slide -- notice a theme?

Another actual slide — notice a theme?

« Read the rest of this entry »

There Are Just So Many Money Quotes Here!

April 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

I have nothing to add but more clapping:

It’s easy enough to call out brogrammers and fedora-clad MRAs, but the truth is that I too often feel “attacked” when someone simply disagrees with me, or points to a way in which I could stand to improve myself. If I’m being horrifically honest, I am more likely to feel “attacked” when these things are voiced by women.

It’s taken me a long time, but at this point I genuinely believe that much of this “GEEKS SHALL INHERIT THE EARTH” rhetoric is little more than patriarchy’s bespectacled wingman. It excuses the pain that systems of power exert on children by promising little boys future dominion over little girls. It is deeply and massively fucked.

It is indeed, and we need more people –particularly men, when they’re being honest– saying so more often.

On a Related Point: “What (Else) Can Men Do? Grow the Fuck Up”

April 28, 2014 § Leave a comment

SLOW CLAPS FOR MATT LEMAY OVER AT MEDIUM, who just gifted me with the following glorious introductory paragraphs:

So, first things first, Shanley Kane wrote an essential guide to the steps that men in tech can take to address systemic sexism. You should read it.

I’d like to chime in with my own, less thoughtful suggestion: Men in tech, myself included, can grow the fuck up.

Men: If your response to that is “BUT I AM TOTALLY GROWN UP I MAYBE EVEN HAVE A WIFE AND SOME KIDS AND STUFF HOW DARE YOU,” then you fell into my devious trap because that is not a very grown-up response, is it? Growing the fuck up means being able to admit that you still have learning to do. It means opening yourself up to narratives in which you are not the expert or the hero. If you believe that your exceptional smarts make you an authority on other people’s experiences and perspectives, then you have some growing the fuck up to do.

Growing the fuck up is an excellent idea for everyone; as LeMay says in the world’s greatest concluding sentence, “‘Grow the fuck up’ isn’t an attack, it’s an invitation.” Link here!

Right Exactly, and the Solution Needs to Come from Game Developers as Well

April 28, 2014 § 1 Comment

Chris and I have been spending a lot of time lately talking about the future of VR gameplay (or whatever you’d call it, since many VR games/titles won’t exactly be games as much as social experiences), and a frequent point in these conversations is how critical it is for VR game developers –and those who own/will own the platforms, most pressingly Oculus VR though Sony isn’t far behind– to approach development from a universal design perspective (another critical point is thinking up ways to preempt the worst forms of antagonistic fuckery, but that’s a topic for another day). Otherwise you’ll end up with the same (white) male-dominated space that currently, well, dominates the video game industry, and results in the mess of myopic testosterone described in the afore-linked article on male privilege in the game space.

Basically: the universal human experience is not cisgendered male (shock!), and games should be designed with that basic truth in mind. I’m in the process of developing more actionable thoughts on this, but for now, I’ll just say that the games industry has the chance to do something radically different with virtual spaces (seeing as the basic architecture of these spaces has yet to be fully realized) and hopefully the right people start building the right (read: more inclusive) foundations.

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