Friday, February 20, 2015

Weekend Links: The Good Writing about Annoying Things Edition

My plans for today were upended when Petunia woke up with a fever and clearly feeling not well at all. So I've been home with a sick kid today. She slept a lot in the morning, which let me get quite a few things done. I write my links post in the afternoon, though... and mostly, she has insisted that I sit next to her on the sofa. She let me do some work while she "snuggled" me by putting her feet on any exposed skin (or skin she could easily cause to become exposed), but that wasn't very conducive to typing.

So what I'm say is that this post is a little more rushed than usual.

I didn't read the NY Times article about Justine Sacco and "internet shaming" that had everyone talking. I did read a couple of reactions, though. This post from Sam Pritchard is quite good, and references a piece Tressie McMillan Cottom wrote on the occasion of a different racist getting fired over an ill-judged tweet, about how part of our discomfort with these repercussions is that we aren't used to seeing white people treated as having a race. I will not do justice to either piece trying to summarize them, so just go read them.

You might also want to read Shakesville about the poor treatment Adria Richards received in the NYT article, and note the difference in outcomes for her and the man who was fired for the stupid dongle joke that set that story in motion. As she points out, the guy who was fired was violating a published policy at a professional conference. Perhaps he was just not expecting to be made to pay a price for misconduct. I don't necessarily think that firing him was a proportionate reaction, but then I don't know what else was in his HR file.

Moving on... sort of. This article from Anne Therieult does a good job arguing that we should consider the sort of harassment that Adria Richards suffered to be a form of terrorism. It might sound like an extreme label for this, but it does have a terrorizing effect, and not just on the direct target.

Here is an excerpt from a book on the subject by Danielle Keats Citron, who is an academic studying this issue.

And here is a Pastry Box post from Eileen Webb about how perhaps we all need to sit with the discomfort brought on by people speaking up about their mistreatment. It is aimed specifically at the tech industry, but I think it applies broadly.

Moving on for real this time: here's a list of things Susie Orman Schall learned when she interviewed a bunch of women about how they achieve "work-life balance." The points about how achieving balance means making choices and takes effort particularly resonated with me. At least in my experience, there is no magic solution to making all the pieces you want in your life fit together into a satisfying whole. You have to look at the problem, analyze it, and try out solutions until you find what works for you.

Have you ever wondered why people with chronic fatigue and/or pain syndromes often refer to themselves as "spoonies"? I had. Here is the answer (I think). Either way, it is a good analogy to help the rest of us better understand what living with that sort of disease is like.

Brittney Cooper wrote a profile of Dr. Pauli Murray, a Black, queer, feminist legal scholar whose work Ruth Bader Ginsburg referenced and who has largely been forgotten. There is an interesting example of not appropriating work in the profile, too, in which Ginsburg gives proper credit to the people whose work she used in a brief.

I usually end with something funny... and this is funny in a LOLSOB sort of way: If critics wrote about male directors the way they are writing about Ava Duvernay.

In other news, I posted another kid's book we love over at my author site. And here's a drum that Petunia and I made together. If you have access to Nature Chemistry, you can also read a review of Navigating the Path to Industry. If you don't have access, the ebook is cheaper than even renting access to the review, so if you're curious you might as well just buy the book! This page includes all the links. The GumRoad option includes a PDF, if that is your preferred format.

And here is a proper light-hearted ending: the evolution of bunnies, in needlework.


  1. We had the same Friday! I went to my parents' because my partner was out of town (the children have a secret pact only to get sick when my partner is out of town), and the LO spiked a fever over 104 degrees. He was red and burning hot and thrashing and screaming in pain when we tried to cool him off. It was a very exhausting and scary 45 min until the analgesics kicked in. I started googling area hospitals. Friday night of parenting.

  2. Anonymous10:23 AM

    I did read the NY Times piece about Internet shaming. I think the Pritchard piece is a good article that's not responding to the actual writing. The NY Times piece was focusing much more on the why people do it aspect and what assumptions people make about the results.

    Given the nature of who was writing about Sacco, I'm also not convinced that she was raced. This is impressionistic and I could be wrong, but it seemed like a lot of the energy driving the hashtags and the gawking was typical Internet troll lulz seeking. It didn't feel like it was primarily driven by people who cared about her tweet but more that it was driven by people who thought the whole thing was funny.

    I actually thought the section on Adria Richards, herself, and the effect of the Internet mob on her was good. But the framing of her section was bizarrely bad to the point where I'm not sure what the author was thinking. It undermined the effectiveness of the writing about Richards and was INFURIATING. The dongle guy was part of the problem, not a victim! He rallied the mob against Richards but was never a target himself. If his company chose to fire him solely because of Richards' tweet, that was a choice the company freely made. There were no DDoS attacks or anything trying to compel them. (and there was a carefully worded statement at the time that strongly implied the conference was a last straw, not the primary cause) I don't know how someone writing about Internet shaming could get such crucial details so wrong.



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