Open Thread and Link Farm, Human Tower Edition

  1. Who Decides When Pain is “Intolerable”? – Brute Reason
    “‘Not all pain is intolerable’ means acknowledging the fact that some pain is intolerable, and any way you slice it, you have people other than the patient determining if their pain is tolerable or not.” Thanks to Mandolin for the link!
  2. If You’re Worried About Free Speech, Stand Up for Prisoners – Pacific Standard
    “The shuttering of a prison debate club shows the precarious nature of free-speech rights among American inmates.” I think that prisoners – along with sex workers and undocumented immigrants – are the people in the U.S. whose free speech is most often suppressed. But the issue gets almost no attention from mainstream free speech pundits.
  3. “Free” Tablets Are Costing Prison Inmates a Fortune – Mother Jones
  4. The Callout : NPR
    This episode of the “Invisibelia” podcast is about the “callout culture” in the hardcore music scene in Richmond, Virginia, and more generally about “the role of pain in making social change.” To me, this story is about the problem of having a set way of dealing with transgressions (something all communities need), but no set way for anyone to come back, and no distinction between minor and major transgressions.
  5. What is restorative justice? A practitioner explains how it works. – Vox
    “{The process invites truth-telling on all sides by replacing punitive approaches to wrongdoing in favor of collective healing and solutions.”
  6. What are we teaching boys when we discourage them from reading books about girls? – The Washington Post
    I’ve seen the same thing happen with my books; lots of boys read my books, and lots of parents assume boys won’t.
  7. This film – of how a complex shot in a TV show was choreographed – is amazing. I recommend watching the right half only all the way through, with the sound off, and then watching the left half with the sound on.
  8. Why the Democratic Party has to “fight dirty” if they want to beat the Republicans – Vox
    Suggestions include breaking up California into seven states and packing the Supreme Court.
  9. The Socal Affair in Context.This 1997 paper by Stephen Hilgartner has some interesting discussion of which scholarly hoaxes are seen as credible and which are not. (Hint: It has nothing to do with how rigorous the hoax’s methodology are.)
  10. All the men who never assaulted me – Vox
  11. Billionaires Are the Leading Cause of Climate Change | GQ
    A crucial example – maybe the most crucial example – of how our democracy is broken.
  12. Female Supreme Court Justices Are Interrupted More by Male Justices and Advocates
    “What our findings additionally suggest is that there is no point at which a woman is high-status enough to avoid being interrupted.”
  13. Tyrannosaurus Redesign 2018 — Saurian
    “We are proud to present our results: what we believe to be the most accurate Tyrannosaurus rex reconstruction ever. Here’s a look into the design process and research that went into this massive project.” And the current thinking is: no feathers!
  14. This Is How Sex-Trafficking Panic Gets Made :
    “One hundred and twenty-three missing Michigan minors were found during a one-day ‘sex trafficking operation,’ the New York Post reported… What the associated articles fail to mention for multiple paragraphs is that only three of the minors are even suspected of having been involved in prostitution.”
  15. I’ve been watching the animated show “People Watching,” and so far it’s good. Very talky, very focused on social anxiety.
  16. The gender studies fakery (“Sokal Squared”) doesn’t help – it hinders (and it’s meant to) – Ketan Joshi
  17. How members of the ultra-rich are preparing to survive the collapse of civilization.
    “What would stop the guards from choosing their own leader? The billionaires considered using special combination locks on the food supply that only they knew. Or making guards wear disciplinary collars of some kind in return for their survival.” (I’d like to credit the person I swiped these links from, but I lost the tweet, sorry.)
  18. Free Busing: A Way to Combat Global Warming | Dean Baker on Patreon
  19. It turns out Taylor Swift isn’t alt-right; 4-chan is despondent.
  20. A defense of “A Feminist Glaciology Framework.”
    Jeffrey Sachs argues that this much-maligned paper was actually making reasonable arguments that, whether or not one agrees with them, should not be out of the bounds of what we’re willing to think about.
  21. Photos found at: Human Towers in Catalonia Rally for Independence and Catalonia’s 36-foot-tall Human Towers Look Even More Amazing from the Air
    “If you’re not there, or if you don’t do your part, the castell will fall. It’s a really special feeling.”

Posted in Link farms | 18 Comments  

Surrey International Writers’ Conference

This weekend I’ll be in Vancouver (BC, not Oregon) at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. Here’s my schedule, if you want to come to any of events or just say hi.

Fri Oct 19, 2018

12:45pm – 2:15pm “Meet and Mingle Luncheon” This is supposed to be a good chance for guests and attendees to meet and chat, so you should feel free to come up and say hi if you see me!

2:15pm – 3:30pm Breaking the Rules Workshop. This is the convention version of my online Breaking the Rules class (

3:45pm – 5pm World Building panel with Nalo Hopkinson, Cat Rambo, and Stephanie Stein, moderated by Mary Robinette Kowal.

5pm – 6:30pm Socializing at the hotel bar. Come say hi!


Sat Oct 20, 2018

10am – 11:15am Detail & Image Workshop (

12:45pm – 2:15pm “This Day We Write Luncheon” Another chance to come chat.

2:15pm – 3:45pm Blue Pencil Session This is where you can make a 15-minute appointment to have me read and critique 3 pages of your work (for free!).

5:30pm – 7pm Book signing. If you would like to buy a copy of my collection Through the Drowsy Dark, there will be some for sale at the conference. I’m also happy to sign loose paper or bookplates!


Sun Oct 21, 2018

11:30am – 12:45pm Second Blue Pencil Session

12:45pm – 2pm Closing Lunch. I may have to leave this one early to get ready for my trip home.

If anyone here is going to be at the conference and want to hang out, let me know!

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Surrey International Writers’ Conference

This weekend I’ll be in Vancouver (BC, not Oregon) at the Surrey International Writers’ Conference. Here’s my schedule, if you want to come to any of events or just say hi.

Fri Oct 19, 2018

12:45pm – 2:15pm “Meet and Mingle Luncheon” This is supposed to be a good chance for guests and attendees to meet and chat, so you should feel free to come up and say hi if you see me!

2:15pm – 3:30pm Breaking the Rules Workshop. This is the convention version of my online Breaking the Rules class (

3:45pm – 5pm World Building panel with Nalo Hopkinson, Cat Rambo, and Stephanie Stein, moderated by Mary Robinette Kowal.

5pm – 6:30pm Socializing at the hotel bar. Come say hi!


Sat Oct 20, 2018

10am – 11:15am Detail & Image Workshop (

12:45pm – 2:15pm “This Day We Write Luncheon” Another chance to come chat.

2:15pm – 3:45pm Blue Pencil Session This is where you can make a 15-minute appointment to have me read and critique 3 pages of your work (for free!).

5:30pm – 7pm Book signing. If you would like to buy a copy of my collection Through the Drowsy Dark, there will be some for sale at the conference. I’m also happy to sign loose paper or bookplates!


Sun Oct 21, 2018

11:30am – 12:45pm Second Blue Pencil Session

12:45pm – 2pm Closing Lunch. I may have to leave this one early to get ready for my trip home.

If anyone here is going to be at the conference and want to hang out, let me know!

| Leave a comment  

Cartoon: Yemen

If you enjoy these cartoons, please help me make more by supporting my Patreon! A $1 pledge really matters.

My favorite foreign policy writer, these days, is Daniel Larison, who writes for The American Conservative. Larison’s beat is American foreign policy, and as you can imagine, his column is often an angry one (regardless of which party holds the White House).

If you’re interested in consistent, sharp takes on US foreign policy, I’d recommend reading Larison. And if you do, you’re going to hear quite a lot about Yemen.

In the current Larison column, criticizing a column by Robert Nicholson, Larison succinctly outlines the humanitarian crisis that the Saudi coalition – supported by the U.S. – is creating in Yemen:

Nicholson acknowledges the humanitarian crisis in passing with a link, but he doesn’t mention and doesn’t seem to grasp that the U.S.-backed Saudi coalition bombing campaign and blockade are responsible for most of the suffering of Yemen’s civilian population. He does not confront his readers with the number of people at risk of dying from famine (more than eight million), the number of food insecure Yemenis (more than 17 million), the number of people infected with cholera (more than one million), or the figure that a Yemeni child dies every ten minutes from preventable causes.

And U.S. support of this tragedy has been bi-partisan, I’m sorry to say.


This cartoon has four panels, plus a small “kicker” panel under the bottom panel.

Two men are talking. One, representing the US, is a man in a Hawaiian shirt wearing a stars-and-strips “Uncle Sam” top hat. The other man, representing Saudi Arabia, has glasses and is dressed in Saudi-style robes similar to what Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud wore when he met with President Trump. Top Hat is angrily spreading his arms; Glasses is looking downward, apparently abashed.

TOP HAT: Saudi Arabia, your atrocities in Yemen have gone too far!
GLASSES: Yes, I know.

Top Hat continues to yell angrily. Glasses sadly shrugs.

TOP HAT: I mean, hitting a school bus with a missile! A school bus!
GLASSES: A tragic mistake.

Top Hat sternly points a finger; Glasses has turned his back on Top Hat and looks a bit bored.

TOP HAT: You can’t just blow civilians up with missiles! Or there will be consequences!
GLASSES: Understood.

The “camera” backs way up, and we can see that Top Hat has huge carts full of huge missiles with him, dwarfing the two characters. They both look pleased now, Glasses looking up at the missiles.

TOP HAT: Glad that’s behind us. Also, I brought this month’s missile shipment.
GLASSES: Could we double our order?

KICKER PANEL (tiny panel below the bottom of the strip).
Glasses is speaking cheerily to Barry the Cartoonist.

GLASSES: To compensate the innocent Yeminis we killed, we’re giving a billion dollars to U.S. weapons manufacturers.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, International issues | 1 Comment  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Cartoon Physics Edition

  1. Academic Grievance Studies and the Corruption of Scholarship – Areo
    This trio of writers wrote twenty deliberately bad hoax papers to submit to prestigious “grievance studies” journals, and were able to get seven papers published, or accepted for publication, before questions were being asked and they felt they had to fess up. I want to wait and see what more knowledgeable people’s takes on this are (eta: see here, for example), but my initial reaction is that – even though the authors are obvious ideologues – this is rightly embarrassing for women’s studies, fat studies, etc., and indicates that work needs to be done to make their peer-review process more skeptical. That said, I also note that the hoaxers lack any control group; that is, they didn’t bother testing to see if similar hoax papers were publishable in journals outside the fields they targeted.
  2. Unlearning the myth of American innocence | US news | The Guardian
    How people in Turkey see the US. Thanks to Grace for the link!
  3. Twelve years ago, Amber Wyatt reported her rape. Few believed her. Her hometown turned against her. – Washington Post
    A well-written, enraging long-form article.
  4. Science Says Toxic Masculinity — More Than Alcohol — Leads To Sexual Assault | FiveThirtyEight
  5. If you’re shocked that Brighton University is offering advice on sex work at freshers’ week, you need a reality check | The Independent
    A sex-worker-safety group sets up a table with pamphlets at the new students’ fair, and some people – including, alas, some feminists – lost their shit. I clicked through to the Sun article to see which feminists are angry about this, and was not surprised to see that both feminists the Sun quoted are TERFs. I don’t know why being anti-trans and anti-sex-worker are linked, but in practice they usually are.
  6. London’s Super-Recognizer Police Force | The New Yorker
    I have prosopagnosia, or “face blindness.” So it was interesting to read about people from the opposite end of the face-recognition spectrum. I was amused to read that, like prosopagnosiacs pretending to vaguely know everyone they meet (to avoid offending actual acquaintances), super-recognizers often lie and pretend not to have met people before (because saying “oh no, we chatted in line to a movie four years ago” creeps people out).
  7. Why Dallas Authorities Are Desperate to Attack Botham Jean’s Character – Rewire.News
  8. Critique of Just Love, Part Two | Thing of Things
    This blog post discusses the differences between “no means no consent,” “enthusiastic consent,” “verbal consent,” and “affirmative consent.” Like me, Ozy comes to the conclusion that “affirmative consent” is the position that makes the most sense.
  9. Trump Administration to Deny Visas to Same-Sex Partners of Diplomats, U.N. Officials – Foreign Policy
    It’s just so fucking petty. I guess this is what conservatives want – or at the least, what they vote for.
  10. The truth about false rape accusations — Quartz
    False rape reports, and the people who make them up, have a pattern. “… it’s radically unlikely — and in practice does not happen — that a false accuser would invent a story where the issue of consent could seem ambiguous.”
  11. ‘Designing Women’ Creator on Les Moonves: Not All Harassment Is Sexual [Exclusive] | Hollywood Reporter
  12. How Hungary’s Viktor Orbán destroyed democracy, and what it means for America – Vox
  13. Wodaabe Wife-Swapping Rituals | Sex in a Strange World
    “The Male Beauty Pageant Where Female Judges Sleep with the Winners”
  14. 10 Questions We Need Radical Feminists to Answer Pronto, Answered | Thing of Things
    Answering questions from a right-wing website. (They don’t mean “radical” the way we do.)
  15. FACT CHECK: The Unsolvable Math Problem – Snopes
    A urban-myth-sounding story, about a math student mistaking an “unsolvable” proof for homework and then successfully completing the proof (two, actually), is more-or-less true.
  16. “Through an online advertisement, we found 67 people who had never been on a 10-meter (about 33 feet) diving tower before, and had never jumped from that high. We paid each of them the equivalent of about $30 to participate — which meant climbing up to the diving board and walking to its edge. We were as interested in the people who decided to climb back down as the ones jumping. We filmed it all with six cameras and several microphones.”
    I found this short film strangely enthralling. Here’s an alternative link if the Times doesn’t let you in.
  17. FYPhysics! – The Moving Sofa Problem
  18. Critique of Just Love, Part One | Thing of Things
    As in “love that follows principles of justice,” not as in “only love.”
  19. Seven endangered species that could (almost) fit in a single train carriage | Environment | The Guardian
  20. What Julia Salazar’s Win Means About Our Changing Tribe – The Forward
    The “our” in this case refers to us Jews. “…young Jews and Jews of Color are increasingly moving to a model of Jewish identity that involves choice rather than ethnic purity or religious affiliation. And they are rejecting exactly the kind of truth-finding missions that Salazar has been subjected to.”
  21. Everything You Know About Obesity Is Wrong – The Huffington Post
    I don’t think much here will be new to most “Alas” readers, but it gathers a lot of stuff together, and I like the interviews and photographs.
  22. Researchers “Translate” Bat Talk. Turns Out, They Argue—A Lot | Smart News | Smithsonian
  23. This city banned cars and no one seemed to mind | DriveTribe
  24. How Money Affects Elections | FiveThirtyEight
    It matters a LOT less than we think (at least, for the question of who wins). Except during primaries.
  25. The Spider-Man Proposal Easter Egg has a Darker Side | Houston Press
    Like more than a few stories about gaming, this one ends “…has deleted her her social media accounts due to harassment.”
  26. Rihanna’s beauty is subversive – Cheryl Lynn Eaton
  27. I Know Brett Kavanaugh, but I Wouldn’t Confirm Him – The Atlantic
  28. 11 Takeaways From The Times’s Investigation Into Trump’s Wealth – The New York Times
  29. Alternate link.

Posted in Link farms | 164 Comments  

Cartoon: Why Didn’t She?

I couldn’t make these cartoons without people supporting my Patreon! A $1 pledge really matters.

Another cartoon inspired by the current, infuriating moment. Hundreds of hundreds of conservatives (mostly, but not entirely, white men) have been asking this question. Including the President of the United States, in (of course) a tweet.

And the constant denial can hurt. Emily Dreyfuss in Wired:

When I read Trump’s tweet this morning, first I stopped breathing. When the most powerful person in the land denies your lived experience, it feels like someone punching you in the diaphragm.

Thousands of victims of sexual assault – mostly, but not entirely, women – have taken to Twitter to respond to Trump, using the #whyIdidn’treport hashtag.

The failure of empathy inherit in the “why didn’t she report it?” question – asked by so many even today, while Christine Blasey Ford’s character and safety are under constant attack – is staggering. A better question is, given how some people are punished for reporting being raped, why do any victims report?

Almost two years ago, Rachel Sklar – addressing the question of why Donald Trump’s accusers stayed silent for years – wrote:

All of this reinforces the prevailing power structures of rape culture and patriarchy: Men are to be respected, believed and obeyed. Women mess with that at their peril. Not only are women expected to receive and submit, but they are expected to laugh off behavior that is otherwise invasive and threatening, to “not make a big deal” about it. But that just shows the normalization of violence against women…

Elizabeth King summed it up well:

Which is why “Why didn’t she report?” is a nonsense question. It doesn’t even need to be asked because 1) survivors are allowed to deal with a traumatic event however they want to — nobody is required to report, and 2) we all already know why; some simply choose either not to listen, or to not believe. It’s another way to blame victims, who deserve better than to rehash their trauma for the benefit of others’ understanding.

So, anyhow… about the art:

I’ve been working long days on this cartoon since… well, since an hour after I completed my previous cartoon.

The art here will remind some of you of the “Brave Truth-Teller” cartoon I did quite recently, which featured a similar bird’s-eye-view-with-tons-of-characters panel. And I probably wouldn’t have drawn this cartoon in this way, without having drawn that other cartoon fist. With Brave-Truth-Teller, I expanded my cartoonist’s toolbox a tiny bit, and now that I have that tool I can use it again.

I will admit, however, I didn’t expect to be reusing this particular tool so soon.

One last side note: As I was writing this, my housemate Matt walked by, looked over my shoulder, and said “I like the perspective you used to draw Kevin there.” And I looked again, and omg – the jerk at the bottom of the page does look a lot like my friend Kevin Moore.

(Kevin, dude – that wasn’t on purpose, honest. I didn’t even notice until Matt pointed it out. So this is Matt’s fault, maybe?)

Let me hasten to add that Kevin is incredibly nice and empathetic and would never say what the dude here who looks like him is saying. And also, Kevin’s a terrific cartoonist himself – he even has a patreon.


This cartoon has only one panel. The panel shows a crowd of people, looking down on them from above. A dark-haired woman in the middle of the crowd, wearing a red blouse and a blue skirt, looks frightened. Everyone else in the crowd is yelling at her, pointing at her, shaking fists at her, etc – it is not a friendly crowd.

A little removed from the mob, at the bottom of the cartoon, a blonde man wearing a blue turtleneck talks to a black-haired woman, raising his hands in a shrugging gesture.

MAN: If she was raped, why didn’t she say so sooner?

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Feminism, sexism, etc | 44 Comments  

Cartoon: Checking The News

If you enjoy these cartoons, please help me make more by supporting my Patreon. A $1 pledge really matters!

The worse physical pain I ever felt in my life was a mysterious pain in my left forearm, searing and throbbing at the same time. This was many years ago; at the time, I had no primary care physician, and that was very bad, because there was no one who would just say “hey, let’s giving his arm a cortisone injection.”

(The week or week and a half of this pain is very blurry in my memory. Did I go to the E.R.? Surely I must have, and apparently they didn’t help me. But I have no memory).

Anyway, I finally managed to get an appointment with my brand-spankin’-new primary care physician, and he gave me a cortisone injection, and an hour later the pain was magically gone.

And now I can’t remember the pain at all. I remember the fact that I was in pain, but the pain itself is beyond recollection.

I wonder if the current political moment will be like that. Decades from now, we’ll remember the fact that it happened, but it’ll be hard to really remember how it felt. Or for people who were born after this moment to understand.

So this cartoon – which, unlike most of my cartoons, isn’t issue-oriented – is my attempt to capture, in gag cartoon form, something of the way things feel to me right now – of the feeling that the world is in a state of perpetual crisis, and yet perpetual crisis has become our new normal.


This cartoon has four panels.


A woman with glasses and dark, shortish hair, sits at a desk, an open laptop on the desk in front of her. She’s turned her head away from the laptop, and is responding to an off-panel voice.

OFF-PANEL VOICE: What’s going on in the world?
WOMAN: I’ll check the news.


The woman checks her laptop.


An enormous, violent blast of bright force shoots out of her laptop screen, pushing her so hard her hair streams out behind her.


The woman again turns back to speak to the off-panel voice, but her head is now just a skull, still smoking from the blast.

OFF-PANEL VOICE: Anything going on?
WOMAN: The usual.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Uncategorized | 3 Comments  

Cartoon: HE would never do that!

If you enjoy these cartoons, please help me make more by supporting my Patreon. A $1 pledge really matters!


This cartoon has four panels, plus an additional tiny “kicker” panel below the bottom of the cartoon.


Three people – a dark-haired woman in a skirt and blouse, a bald man with a tie, and a somewhat hipster-looking guy with a largish beard but no mustache, are walking through a park. The woman is in front; the two men are talking to each other.

NECKTIE: Maybe she’s bitter because he didn’t call her the next day.
BEARD: She could be saying it for attention.

The same three people walking; we can see the woman looks annoyed as she listens to the two men talk. Necktie is looking up into the air a bit and scratching his chin thoughtfully; Beard is enthusiastic.

NECKTIE: Maybe she was drunk and imagined the whole thing.
BEARD: Yes! She could be delusional.

In the foreground, a tire swing hangs from a tree branch, and there’s a stream. In the background, the same three people continue their walk. Teh woman looks really annoyed now; Necktie is holding his arms out in a declaratory fashion as he makes his point; Beard is holding up a forefinger to make a point.

NECKTIE: Maybe she made the whole thing up in a jealous rage!
BEARD: It could be a conspiracy.

The woman has stopped walking and turned back to address the two men. The two men are infuriated, yelling, Necktie actually jumping up and pointing.

WOMAN: Maybe he raped her.

A small panel below the bottom the strip shows the three of them; the woman is rolling her eyes, Necktie is speaking a bit angrily, and Beard, looking a bit smug, makes a point.

NECKTIE: It’s wrong to ruin someone’s life with unproven smears!
BEARD: Unless that someone is a woman.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Feminism, sexism, etc, Rape, intimate violence, & related issues | 103 Comments  

Open Thread and Link Farm, Trapped Inside This Rotting Building Edition

I Am Part of the Resistance Inside Nyarlathotep’s Death Cult – McSweeney’s Internet Tendency
Thanks to Grace for the link!

Demanding an End to ‘Modern Day Slavery,’ Prisoners Launch Multi-Day Nationwide Strike | Portside
Includes a list of the prisoners’ demands.

Julia Serano: Everything You Need to Know About Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria

ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES: Do 20% of Men “Get” 80% Of All Heterosexual Sex?
Spoiler: No.

Bank of America freezes account after asking proof of residency | The Sacramento Bee

Social science replication crisis: studies in top journals keep failing to replicate – Vox
There’s some interesting discussion here of what this could mean for researchers going forward.

‘Alley Oop’ Comic Strip May Be Going The Way Of The Dinosaurs | Deadline
My first reaction was, “Alley Oop is still running?” Turns out the strip has been running over 80 years, but is now in reruns. It has about 600 papers, however, so I bet the syndicate will find someone to keep it going. Cartoonists with Ally Oop ideas, now may be the time to send in your pitches!

The Great Chinese Art Heist | GQ
This could be the basis of an awesome heist movie. Or a reverse “Indiana Jones.”

Opinion | YouTube, the Great Radicalizer – The New York Times
YouTube’s algorithms are biased to showing us more and more extreme videos, apparently because that keeps the most people watching longest, bringing in more ad dollars. Interestingly, this is literally the opposite of the expected outcome of the “an open marketplace of free speech will lead to the truth succeeding” arguments. Alternate link.

Is sex work still the most dangerous profession? The data suggests so

The Country’s First Climate Change Casualties? – Pacific Standard
“Scientists predict Tangier Island could be uninhabitable within 25 years. This is the story of the people willing to go down with it—and why they’ve risked it all on Donald Trump to keep them afloat.” The population of Tangier Island is less than 1,000; would it make more sense to give up on saving the island and instead offer the residents who are willing to relocate generous grants?

Mel Gibson set the pattern for a #MeToo comeback. Others will follow it. – Vox
Unfortunately, this isn’t the way I’d like to see things go; Gibson mainly got to come back by staying below the radar for a while and refusing to talk about it, while his friends sometimes told the media that he’d gotten a bum rap. My preference would be for celebs in need of rehabilitation to undergo a restorative justice process with their victims, if the victims are willing.

‘Virtue-signalling’ – the putdown that has passed its sell-by date | David Shariatmadari | Opinion | The Guardian

Victorian Doctors Didn’t Treat Women With Orgasms, Say Historians – The Atlantic

For Older Voters, Getting The Right ID Can Be Especially Tough : NPR

Against Identity Politics | Francis Fukuyama
This is one of the better attacks on identity politics I’ve seen, not least because he doesn’t dismiss the problems identity politics addresses. But I still think he makes his case by leaving a lot out. It’s not obvious that the zero-sum game Fukuyama posits – that if we concentrate on (for example) racism, then the left won’t also concentrate on economic ideas – is actually true. The support for a basic income has recently been shooting up on the left; ditto for medicare-for-all.

The New Science of Seeing Around Corners | Quanta Magazine
Really neat stuff that I don’t fully understand. “…the computer vision scientist Antonio Torralba noticed stray shadows on the wall of his hotel room that didn’t seem to have been cast by anything.”

Why We Should Lower the Voting Age in America – Rolling Stone

Is a glass of wine a day really unsafe? A new alcohol study, explained. – Vox
The answer is “no.” But this fuss is indicative of a larger problem in how food and health is reported. Reading this article made me think of this brilliant Funny or Die sketch.

The Living Wall by Nikita Nomerz | Bored Panda“Russian street artist Nikita Nomerz travels around various cities in his homeland to find abandoned structures and bring them back to life.”

Posted in Link farms | 53 Comments  

Cartoon: Incels

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Have you noticed that the more misogynistic someone is, the more likely he is to use “females” in sentences where most people would say “women”? I have no idea why they do that. (Well, I do have an idea – the effect is to dehumanize women a little. But I don’t know if they’re doing that consciously or unconsciously).

I probably wouldn’t have done a comic about “incels” a year ago, because too few people would know what that word means. Since then, tragically, an incel terrorist ran down a bunch of people in Toronto, and incels were suddenly in the news.

Of course, the overwhelming majority of incels are not mass-murderers. But the misogyny is so much more extreme than I’m used to, even on right-wing forums.

You don’t have to read an Incel forum for long to realize that the guys divide into two categories. Category one: those who write about “females” with white-hot rage and over-the-top contempt. Category two: those who choose to spend time in a forum filled with guys from category one.

“Incels” stands for “Involuntary Celibites,” a termed coined by “Alana,” a queer woman, back in 1993. She now says, “I can’t uninvent this word, nor restrict it to the nicer people who need it.”

When Alana created the first Involuntary Celibate forum, it was a needed support group for people dealing with a real problem. As someone who has gone years between romances, I relate to that problem. Loneliness and lack of connection are painful; lack of physical affection is painful; and a better society would have institutions to help people feel less alone.

Alana intended to create something like that back in 1993. Over the years, however, incels has become a group exclusively for bitter, misogynistic men to marinate in each other’s hate, to let it soak in even deeper. (We really need a new word, meaning “involuntary celibates who aren’t super misogynistic.”)

The gag in this cartoon is pretty obvious, I admit, but I haven’t seen it done yet in cartoon form, and I don’t mind doing old gags if I can try to do them well.

Of course, many incels would answer the question in panel four by saying that they don’t wonder why they aren’t getting laid. Rather, they believe they know why; they believe that they themselves are so ugly – physically, that is – that no woman would ever have them. (Or at least, no woman they’re willing to have back; many incels seem to think they have a moral right to sex with 21 year old women, and that sex with a woman in her thirties or older is a moral affront. Have I mentioned that these guys are really unpleasant?)

They’re wrong about why they’re not getting laid; most of the incels I’ve seen photos of are ordinary looking guys, and often pretty good-looking guys (Elliot Rodger, for instance). Furthermore, I was a wedding coordinator for over a decade, and in that time I attended over a thousand weddings. From that experience, I can tell you: People with all sorts of looks, including conventionally unattractive people, have been able to find love.

It’s not your looks, incels. It’s you.

I want to acknowledge that this cartoon was influenced by Jia Tolentino’s excellent New Yorker article, which was also the source of the quote I used in panel 3.


This cartoon has four panels, plus a small “kicker” panel under the bottom of the cartoon.

The panel is a close-up of a smartphone, behind held in someone’s hand. On the screen, a friendly-looking young man waves and smiles, speaking to the camera. He’s wearing a button-up shirt with white pinstripes. A caption below him on the screen says “I.C.K. Livestream.”

MAN: Welcome to the online conference of the Involuntary Celibates of Kansas – AKA “Incels!” Today we’ll discuss two main topics…

A shot of the same man, no longer on a cell phone screen; he is seated in front of a desk, speaking at the laptop on his desk. His hand is in his fist and he has an intense, almost angry expression.

MAN: Topic One: Females! We incels realize that females are spoiled children who are handed the world on a platter.

Another shot of the same man, this time looking at him from behind his laptop. He’s waving his hands as he speaks.

MAN: Society has become a place for worship of females. And htat’s so #$%*ing wrong! Females aren’t gods. They’re just #$%*ing cum-dumpsters.

The man’s dialog in this panel has a footnote. The footnote says “actual quote.”

Like panel 1, this is a close-up of the smartphone being held by a hand. On the smartphone, the man who has been speaking now looks hurt and puzzled. He is shrugging.

MAN: Topic Two: Why can’t we get laid?

The same man is speaking angrily at Barry the Cartoonist. Barry is rolling his eyes.

MAN: You only drew this cartoon to get laid!
BARRY: Yeah, because that’s how getting laid works.

Posted in Cartooning & comics, Feminism, sexism, etc | 110 Comments