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February 01, 2013

Geeks are bullied because they violate gender roles, are privleged

I find this argument persuasive. Geeks Don't Get Bullied Simply For Being Geeks. There's More To It Than That.
How many times have you heard/seen the cliche about geeks being bullied only to go on to rule the world? That's a class thing; it's taking solace in the idea that a geek will not remain with the plebs. Though in this case, the writer found that they came from a background and maintained interests that gave them advantages down the road because it gave them cultural capital. Cultural capital is the idea that there are things beyond finances that can influence social mobility (the ability to change class.) We're talking education, intellect, the way you dress, the way you speak, the way you look, amongst other things. To put it simply, when it comes to class, a stereotypical geek might have good chances of moving up in the world. In certain sects of geekdom, the tie between class is particularly clear. Some hobbies require a good deal of money to keep up with, and games are a good example. Beyond class, there's also the issue of gender and homophobia. If you're into games, comics, D&D or any other geeky thing, those hobbies operate outside gender roles. You're not, say, learning domesticity if you're a girl playing shooters. You're not being manly if you're constantly lost between the pages of a book instead of playing football. Class and gender roles are difficult, sensitive subjects. Perhaps that's why we don't talk about these things—I fear that the narrative of being bullied simply because you're a geek and you really like things is simple and attractive when trying to explain the bullying.

January 31, 2013

Life in a theater troupe, in occupied Palestine

The Hourglass < Killing the Buddha
As we made our way among the winding, shoddy roads that Palestinians are allowed to drive on, the settlements were everywhere—on hilltops, around every turn, connected by their own sumptuous superhighways. I convened a contest among the other riders on our Freedom Bus about what science fiction terminology best described the settlements we kept seeing. “Death Star” or “Coruscant” from Star Wars seemed appropriate to their looming effect, but not their actual appearance. So I settled on, simply, “moon base.” A moon base is, essentially, the perfect suburb. In contrast to its hostile surroundings, it is supposed to be clean, orderly, functional, and white. Every inch is planned. Its inhabitants work together for a higher purpose. I imagine that life in the matching apartment buildings and townhouses and houses of the settlements is like that too. I imagine that there are a lot of recycling bins. Space eventually leads one to time. They are closer than we think, and one doesn’t make sense without the other; light-years measure distance, and timezones dictate the hour. On the map of the West Bank, too, I began noticing traces of my own country’s history. Consider, on that map, those settlements planted on conquered land. Consider the wall, winding around the settlements and native towns, effectively annexing land with so little faithfulness to the Green Line. Consider the Jewish-only roads connecting the settlements. See them, out the window of a bus that cannot access them, lined by massive concrete barriers, leading into tunnels under Palestinian towns and across bridges over Palestinian valleys. Consider the archipelago of Zone A, the paltry islands not under Israeli military control, where a so-called Palestinian Authority is built to fail. . . .

China shuts down parts of Beijing after second day of murderously bad smog

I had some pictures of the terrible air, but they're all basically brown rectangles. Beijing Takes Emergency Steps to Fight Smog - NYTimes.com
BEIJING — The Beijing government put in place emergency measures on Wednesday to try to combat thick smog that has encased the city, which the Communist Party has hailed as a showcase capital, in brown and gray soot. The measures include temporarily shutting down more than 100 factories and ordering one-third of government vehicles off the streets, according to official news reports. The effort came on the second straight day of air that was rated “hazardous” by the standards of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. That rating, in which the air quality index surpasses 300, means people should not venture outdoors at all. This month, Beijing has faced the most polluted air days on recent record. The surge in pollution, which is happening across northern China, has angered residents and led the state news media to report more openly on air quality problems. Officials have also begun acknowledging the severity of the problem. Xinhua, the state news agency, reported that Wang Anshun, the newly appointed mayor of Beijing, said Monday that the government had come up with a preliminary plan to curb the pollution. “I hope we can have blue skies, clean water, less traffic and a more balanced education system,” Mr. Wang said at a session of the municipal legislature, in a broad reference to quality-of-life issues. . . .