Friday, May 14, 2010

A handful of links

--Two excellent and at several points fascinating posts at zunguzungu dissect Christopher Hitchens' manly, Western outrage that any woman would dare conceal her face from the male gaze. The Soul of Mark Zuckerberg: What DuBois can tell us about Facebook observes that privacy means something very different to people lacking power:
Just as Hitchens never has to worry about Muslim women telling him what not to wear, neither need the owner of facebook ever need to worry about being surveilled against his interest or will, or of it mattering much if he is. Knowledge is power not in a Friedman-esque globalization-will-democratize-the-world kind of way, where opening up barriers makes us all the same, but in a much more Foucaultian sense: when you have power, knowledge is the medium through which you exert it (including the ability to believe what you want and make it authoritative). Knowledge without power is forgotten, ignored, and impotent while power without knowledge just creates new “knowledge” (as in Hitchens’ ability to know whatever he needs to know about Muslim women). But since powerful white men can experience that power through their singular and unambiguous identity — and since white privilege is about enjoying the benefits of being the default category without having to do anything to claim it — the sight of people whose identities limit and subordinate them exerting control over those identities becomes a threat, a limit that has to be vaulted over. What Muslim women hid, Hitchens will demand his right to see. And what you make private, Facebook will monetize.
And Feminism and the power to be (un)recognized looks at the veiling issue via Lila Abu-Lughod's analysis, Michael Kimmel's comments on the aggressive, humiliating male (frat) gaze at Duke University and the arrogant male gaze his mother endured in 1970 at Yale, and Leila Ahmed's discussion of the history of the Western narrative of women in Islam.

--At the Angry Black Woman, unusualmusic links to The NYPD Tapes: Inside Bed-Stuy's 81st Precinct. Imagine, a police officer recorded hundreds of hours of his life as an on-duty police officer; the tapes reveal, among other things, bosses requiring patrol cops to write a daily quota of petty tickets for minor nuisance offenses and pressuring victims of crime to withdraw their complaints or mis-report the incident altogether, to report, for instance, a violent robbery as "lost property." Fascinating and infuriating. I tried listening to the tapes, but it's tough for someone not from New York. Native New Yorkers are a whole lot harder to understand than, say, Cajuns. (Guess they couldn't teach K-12 English in Arizona, either.)

--At Knowledge Problem, Michael Giberson reports on a paper by threeUniversity of Massachesetts researches detailing
the overwhelming influence of anecdotal information in decision making, even less-than-adequate anecdotes presented alongside directly relevant and authoritative statistical information. The research also looks at two strategies that mitigate some of the influence of anecdotal bias, priming a more “scientific” outlook and encouraging counterargument.
(Link thanks to Cheryl Morgan.) From which I conclude that for humans, emotion trumps reason-- even, it seems, when accounting and audits are concerned.

At the Nation, Sharon Lerner notes that in the US, (a) the gender wage gap is no longer shrinking; (b) "women, in aggregate, are running up against the limits of what they can achieve given the lack of institutional and public support for families. Whether we are experiencing a major collective hiccup in our march toward gender equality or are headed for an inglorious mass landing, the shift in our trajectory has to be seen as a reflection of a lack of policies that would make the combination of work and caretaking feasible"; and (c) "International data suggest that no population can sustain such double duty, i.e., high levels of both fertility and women’s employment, for long without infrastructure to support working women. That helps explain why the fertility rates have been dropping in so many countries as women enter the workforce en masse—and why so many of these countries have tried to combat the problem by increasing the availability of things like childcare and flextime work. So how do we do it? Partly the answer lies in the fact that working mothers in the U.S. sleep a mere six hours a night on average. Our depression rates are high, our free time almost nonexistent. That is to say, we’re doing it, but we’re miserable."

--At Torque Control, Niall Harrison rereads Joanna Russ's "The Second Inquisition"

--On his blog, Frederik Pohl reveals that when he was the editor of Galaxy, he asked Robert Heinlein to decide whether or not to run a review of Stranger in a Strange Land that Algis Budrys had written:
If there was one thing I knew about Heinlein it was that he was almost pathologically protective of his privacy — had threatened to sue people who invaded it — and, I was pretty sure, would take a dim view of some of AJ’s quite perceptive remarks. So there was a dilemma. I didn’t want to deprive AJ of an audience for a piece of good, hard work. I also didn’t want to get Robert mad at me. I stewed over the problem for a while, finally decided to leave the decision up to Robert himself and shipped off a copy of the review to him, pleased with myself for having solved the problem.
Heinlein got upset with the review, so it didn't run. Did editors used to do that often, I wonder-- let the authors of the books under review decide whether the reviews should run? Or are we to understand that Heinlein was so special he rated kid-glove treatment?

--And finally Google, having been challenged by Germany's data protection authority, has admitted that once again it's messed up in a big way, collecting private data through unsecured WiFi networks without the owners' permission or knowledge-- via a programming error from 2006.

Oh, and a reminder-- if you missed Kristin's comment-- Molly Gloss's paper, Desperado, is online at Serving House: A Journal of Literary Arts.

No comments: