On duty at the office today, with most of my regular work done and nothing coming in so far, so what better time to clear out my bookmarks? Let's see if I still remember how to do this:
- Last year seemed to be a banner year for good old-fashioned consciousness-raising about the place of women in geek culture. As a woman who's been into geek culture four about 40 years now, it's frustrating to see the wheel constantly needing reinvention as succeeding generations of men are socialized not to get it, but heartening to see the immediacy of the responses to continued sexism and the sheer number of men and women on the winning side of history. Among the best of 2012 were this post by Becky Chambers about how calling out sexism in fighting game culture is not akin at all to stifling of free speech, just as defending against bullies anywhere is empowerment, not censorship - remember, bullies like to cry "censorship" after they've had their say to expressly prevent those being bullied from defending themselves. Heidi McDonald was on a roll as always - witness her wonderfully packed essays Why DC and Marvel will never truly target female readers and More on comics, women, branding and the future, and her revelations about scary creeps in Troll toll: the dark side of the internet (which also mentions the Nerd Girl thing still going on). And Annalee Newitz weighs in on The Great Geek Sexism Debate regarding harassment at cons. Lisa Fortuner examines the rejection of the feminine in What Sword of Sorcery #0 has to do with everything else.
- Not quite geek culture, but Wil Wheaton (always at the forefront of the fight against sexism) shares a post from "UnWinona" (whose tagline I love: "I'm a sarcasm machine made of whiskey and bubblegum.") about being harassed whilst reading on public transit; I'm relieved to say that's never happened to me, but I've never considered myself conventionally pretty, so perhaps that's a blessing in disguise. Still, the essay leaves me furious all over again, as there's certainly enough it in with which to identify. Sometimes I think there isn't a woman alive who's been bothered while minding her own business, and that's just it - to a lot of men, women don't have their own business, their very existence is everybody's business (i.e., it's every man's right to intrude on their personal space because they, as women, don't merit personal space).
- As a long-time Firesign Theatre fan, I was devastated by the death of Peter Bergman last March, and appreciated the touching tributes from Skippy, Cat, and especially the person who got me into Firesign in the first place 30 years ago, Jill.
- Speaking of Jill, my goodness can this woman write. I mean, I've known it for decades, but you should really check out her blog if you aren't already subscribed. In particular, I loved her essay on the diet industry and fat-shaming (this seems to be a sadly necessary annual occurrence, as she revisited the theme last Thursday), the Paula Deen backlash, the idiocy of the notion of running a government like a business (and how Bain Capital ran businesses... into the ground), and why she loves the Mets (which reminded me of why I do too, even though I often can't bear to watch the games).
- Elsewhere in pop culture, we note the passing of Teletext, which I'd never heard of until I visited Robin for the first time in England. Lance Mannion looks at the change in focus of Doonesbury to the next generation and whether poor Kelsey Grammar is as hard-done-by and put-upon as he whines about. I also liked Chris Arrant's essay at Robot 6 about how often comic book artists get short shrift, although I'm not sure his example of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons is representative, as Moore is so much a force of nature that he's apt to overpower any artist. PZ Myers had the same reaction I did to Cee-lo Green's "All religion's true" bastardizing of a John Lennon lyric (I mean, the entire point of "Imagine" is to imagine a world where things like religion, nations, property etc. don't exist as barriers to humanity coming together). Bill Barol banters at BoingBoing about meeting Al Franken, and Franken's touching remembrance of his friend Tom Davis. I loved Wil Wheaton's bit about author intent. I actually got into an argument about this in elementary school, specifically wherein Wil states "English teachers who forced me to find symbolism and meaning in books make assigned reading in high school absolutely miserable. It was bad enough that I couldn’t just enjoy the story and spend time with the characters, but they also made me go on some kind of treasure hunt where I had to find something the teacher/school/board of education/someone-who-was-not-me decided was the 'correct' thing to find." Unlike Wil, I wasn't as easily turned off reading by these teachers' stubbornness in insisting "it doesn't matter if the author meant it to be there, if it's there it's a valid analysis!" But I've always opted to read for enjoyment rather than to figure out some kind of puzzle. Sure, give me Shakespeare any time (I took four years of Shakespeare in high school and college!), but just teach me what some of his words meant and point out where the puns are, I have no special interest in going deeper.
- Susie Madrak has so many great posts all the time it's hard to choose her best of 2012, but since I saved them I'll go with Why don't you give all your money to Third World children?, about over-reliance on private industry (and not-for-profits are industries!) and corresponding under-reliance on governments; and The alleged IT talent shortage, which is actually self-made by greedy corporations unwilling to pay talent what it's worth.
- Obviously 2012 was a big year in politics, and other political essays I appreciated were Melissa McEwan's analysis of Mitt Romney's bullying; Susan of Texas' musings about power and obedience; EastsideKate pointing out the silliness of the pie metaphor; and Paul Krugman's reminder that America isn't a corporation, nor should it be. Just as corporations aren't people, America is (or should be).
- Apparently the times they are a'changing. John McKay has a thoughtful essay about the accumulation of stuff, but I disagree that people will keep accumulating exponentially. First of all, there's no space. Secondly, the nature of space has changed with the advent of The Cloud. I still hang onto my paperbacks, graphic novels and record albums out of sentimental value, but if I can call up movies and TV shows on demand, what's the incentive to buy and store DVDs? Why do we need to keep all our comics (which pretty much take up an entire room) when Robin can find most any reference he needs more or less instantaneously? It's not like any of this stuff is ever going to be reread. Interestingly, I have looked through things like college papers, old issues of IJ (which I'm still determined to put online someday) and comic book essays, and I have old zines around for such occasions as other people wanting stuff from them (like this), but for the most part I'm happy not to collect more stuff, at least paper stuff. Give me more matroyshkas any day! And Wil Wheaton (him again?) passes along an essay about how Millenials won't get fooled again, which I really hope not but I see so many of them selling out just like our generation did that I don't know. I think humans will be humans, no matter what generation.
- So, did any of Sean Carroll's 2012 predictions come true?