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A mystery. UPDATED: Solved in the Comments [Jul. 27th, 2015|08:40 am]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
I was going over some posts for research recently and noticed someone had deleted all of their comments. Deleting one's LJ account still leaves comments active, so this required active effort.

The posts were over a year old and I cannot tell who they were or when they did it. Contextual cues indicate they were amicable. I have not checked to see how many posts this involves.

I have no idea if it's just my journal or a sign of some mass erasure effort; both are equally plausible.

I suspect one could do a mass scrubbing using the "most recent comments" page. It maxes out at 100 but deleting comments may update the list to the next previous ones (I'm not about to test it).

This is preferable to thinking someone dislikes me so much they methodically went through each of my posts to find and remove themselves. That's a bit creepily aggressive, like reverse stalking.

This is a social network of people I know as text save a very few, yet I was unsettled by this for an afternoon. I've been reading the site very infrequently for months now, and this moment of emotional disquiet makes me think this is a good idea.

UPDATE: There is an explanation in the comments.
Link7 said it all|what you say?

Vague thought from a much longer rant I don't have time to write. [Mar. 20th, 2015|01:29 pm]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
It's kind of weird watching feminists who have previously said patriarchy is systemic and collective activism is a good thing - and have enjoyed the benefits of feminist activism - suddenly start forming a Camille Paglia cover band to write about how women are now complaining too much about sexual abuse, especially too fragile students. It's particularly amusing to read Laura Kipnis denounce allegedly fragile students who allegedly demand an environment free of conflict and risk*, while whining about how 55 year old grown men should be able to get drunk with college freshmen and take them home without worrying about potential consequences or the possibility they are abusing their power. Or how she complains about students denying agency while discussing a case in which the accused is defended as if he were a passive participant, like tripped and fell into bed with a drunk 19 year old or she somehow forced him to do it.

Even more hilarious are those defending Kipnis by pretending she's too fragile to handle some vehement criticism from students who aren't trying to get her fired, just loudly saying she's wrong. How they are denouncing these kids as being melodramatic and oversensitive while simultaneously comparing a protest to McCarthy, Stalin, insert your hyperbolic metaphor here.
*Spoiler alert: They actually aren't doing this.
Link5 said it all|what you say?

T'Pol...T'Pol...T'Pol...T'POOOOOLLLL! [Mar. 15th, 2015|12:43 pm]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
Tried watching Enterprise but stopped after 15 minutes.
I did notice something which explains the whole series.

Linkwhat you say?

Well, shit. [Mar. 12th, 2015|11:59 am]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
Terry Pratchett was one of my favorite authors. Despite knowing he was going to die for some time, the ongoing output of satisfying work means it still came as a shock.

A word like generous is an amorphous cliche when applied to an author, but it does seem like he responded to a terminal diagnosis by leaving behind as much as he could for readers. I suspect he had a hand in the planning the tweets which announced his death.
AT LAST, SIR TERRY, WE MUST WALK TOGETHER.- Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob) March 12, 2015

Terry took Death’s arm and followed him through the doors and on to the black desert under the endless night.- Terry Pratchett (@terryandrob) March 12, 2015
I also think there's a strong chance he took care to ensure whatever material left unfinished by his death would handled carefully in a way which pleases fans. He had started a new series with another author, The Long Earth, and it will be interesting to see where that goes without Pratchett taking an active role.

There's something about Pratchett's work I found personally comforting and insight into the human condition that neither forgave or condemned and usually managed to be optimistic without excessive cheating. Some of the books I read during personal hard times and the light but serious touch was a diversion which (unlike some) made it easier to gather myself and face reality.

Usually I am merely wistful when a well-known stranger I like passes. Today I felt a momentary twinge of sadness. No more books and someone who clearly had enthusiasm for writing and life is gone. But he went out well, so there's that.
Link3 said it all|what you say?

Everything Written on The Internet Summarized [Mar. 11th, 2015|12:18 pm]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
From an excellent essay about the Marine Todd meme (also known as "Just Filling In"):
Of all the things that the Internet could be and all the ways that it could be populated, we’ve wound up with what we have-sort of like a movie set after an apocalypse, maybe, with ragtag survivors hoarding canned Vienna sausages and rifles, banding together against the marauding Others. As befits that state of play, the conversation that results is not so much a discourse as a series of peevish monologues playing nonstop at varying volumes, aimed not at convincing but at shoring up various assumptions, tendencies, and micro-ignorances, and shouting their specifics into the void. Just Filling In is, in the most basic sense, someone wandering in a dark and unfamiliar place yelling out, with strategic menace, “I have a gun.”

Marine Todd and his cousins are not part of a conversation, or even an argument. As much fun as Twitter had remixing and goofing on it, there is really no responding to it. These memes are ways of broadcasting a very particular type of brand loyalty, of announcing — through a bit of graffiti on a Facebook wall or a supportive retweet — belief in a certain view of things.

...For all the ceaseless wheedling dishonesty of the web’s ambient commerce — One Weird Trick, Doctors Hate Him, Free iPads — there is a system to it. Every action is cataloged by business concerns for sale to other business concerns, so that their ads might more effectively follow us around. In a sense, these memes serve that same end — if you “like” Just Filling In, you are broadcasting that perhaps you’d also be interested in Liberal Tears Gun Oil...it’s not so much there to be read as it is to be noticed, to signal a series of allegiances. It’s more advertisement than literature, in the end, and so it fits in perfectly.
Linkwhat you say?

Spam needs to step up its game. [Mar. 10th, 2015|11:31 am]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
Phishing spam has been around so long it's totally tired and unhip. The text below is from a wave of messages targeting an account our department uses to receive online invoices.

"Hello) My name is Olga. I live in Moscow. I found out your page on the Internet and I was curious about you. Tell me, please, what are you doing now and how do you spend your life in general?"

I picture bland offices in some former politburo building, where a few greying dudes wearing NIN t-shirts under sports jackets (clinging to some Neuromancer daydream) oversee a bunch of bored young temps who monitor a rapidly ossifying network of hijacked desktops which pump out this crap to addresses harvested from rather sad sources. The temps wonder who has a desktop anymore and occasionally take a peak, seeing drives where the most accessed program is a copy of Myst or Loderunner and there are still traces of Napster in the registry.
Link5 said it all|what you say?

Made of Win [Mar. 3rd, 2015|10:47 am]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
An amazing post by the amazing blog A Good Cartoon. As pointed out by theweaselking.

The Cartoonist Has No Idea How Net Neutrality Works
by A Good Cartoon

More Here. Discussion Here.
Link1 said it|what you say?

Sad Thought [Feb. 4th, 2015|03:40 pm]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
Perhaps one reason LiveJournal is in decline is people aren't getting into huge arguments anymore. Racefail occurred at a time when LiveJournal uproars could attract hundreds of participants and involved some actual activism and ultimately, positive energy.

Now that action has moved over to twitter where far more people take part, because LJ was never that cool.
Link8 said it all|what you say?

The problem with leftists is they always resort to broad generalizations. [Jan. 30th, 2015|09:07 pm]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
When I was a bright eyed leftist fresh out of school I moved to the Uptown neighborhood and ended up being a volunteer for Alderman Hellen Shiller's campaign.

Shiller was an independent alderman, opponent of the Daley Machine and as much of a Marxist as an alderman could be openly. Uptown was a truly diverse place - as was her staff and supporters - and my presumptions about class, race, gender, etc. were challenged as I did this.

One day I was canvassing with a white woman who was a bit stiff and earnest, but a truly devoted neighborhood resident who knew an astounding (to me) number of people by name. She and her husband had spent their lives doing low paying social work and always rented.

We had talked our way into one of the increasing number of condos in Uptown. In recent times the poorer sections had been gentrifying to the delight of many wealthy and consternation of long time residents.

It turned out the people who had let us in were a middle class African American couple who had just moved in. They were interested in Shiller's campaign, but they had questions. They said they chosen Uptown because they wanted diversity, but hostile anti-condo and anti-gentrification graffiti was freaking them out. They understood what it meant, but it still reminded them of the sort of harassment which had long kept Chicago segregated.

We were not prepared to talk about this. My colleague was clearly flustered and defaulted to a speech about how she had known the people who had been displaced when this place went condo and the tension had reasons. It did not go over well. I stepped in to say Uptown's uniquely mixed population could make it intense, but Helen Shiller took care to provide service to all residents equally even as she worked to protect the less powerful. Or some babbling to that effect, then we handed out flyers and left.

I were Fredrick deBoer, I could write how I Watched That Happen: A Black Couple Who Just Wanted To Understand Were Berated For Their Privilege By A White Lady and I Didn't Know What To Do. I could describe the black couple in depth and my colleague as a left wing cliche who Ruins Everything.

It would not, however, be the whole story, just one which fit into scoring points against the powers of Political Correctness.

As we walked away from the building, I hesitantly suggested that might not have been the best thing to say. To which she replied defensively what she said wasn't untrue - that condo had come at the expense of renters. I said yes but spray painted threats and their earnest yet friendly concern was not unfounded given Chicago's history. She pointed out this neighborhood had areas where lower class blacks and whites had lived for decades and now they were being pushed to areas far from the lakefront and trains. After a few moments of very midwestern tension and muttering, we agreed it was awkward and someone non-white should do a follow up.

We never canvassed together again but over time the tension eased as we were next door neighbors. She had many positive qualities and the doctrinaire attitude which had dismayed me in that moment was a strength in others. I had realized how much effort is required to get anything done and long term fighters can be inspiring and insufferable at different points. I also realized I wasn't so different. After 15 years of fighting the good fight, Ald. Shiller tried to make a deal with Daley to get more affordable housing and ended up playing the fool. I don't actually have a conclusion to this story.

DeBoer presents his anecdotes with a dramatic flair ("I have seen, with my own two eyes") which draw attention to what's left out. When this 19 year old passionate white girl ran from a classroom in tears was it his class? Didn't he have power to address this? Did he talk to those who upset her? Did he talk to her? Is it possible her reaction was as overblown as theirs? He dramatically proclaims "I watched that happen." but "that" is a vague, evil Them vs. idealized Her. (Also, how does he know the woman in the other incident had $300 shoes? Did he ask or just assume?)

I appreciate a well formed essay, generalizations are not inherently bad as they are a key part of communication and even what we deem rhetorical fallacies can be used to convey truth.

I've read several essays which say Chait's essay was band but he still has a point. Each one ends up indulging similar reductive narratives and annoying sanctimony they decry. They exaggerate the sins of PC which points to the unspoken larger context of the severe injustices these PC people are talking about.

As John Hodgman observes: "there are toxic, pointless arguments all over the Internet since internet began. Social justice is just one flavor of contentiousness."

Chait's essay conflates mean Facebook comments and the murder of cartoonists. Boer disagrees but then says Chait has a point by describing a student upset by thoughtless peers as "shellshocked" and "burned terribly" and uses rhetorical flourish like "This is where I live" and "I am out of fucking ideas" as if he had been tending the wounded in some war on a distant front no civilian has seen or could understand, rather than a guy who has spent a lot of time in college.

If DeBoer doesn't know what to do, I suggest he start by admitting the students who were mean are also "being typical clumsy kids" who aren't perfect. Try being a grown up who can defuse drama and address assholes calmly. Which is not writing two paragraphs making a condescending prediction "the same pack of self-absorbed media liberals will herp de derp about it". Because that makes it clear you don't want answers, you want to demonize some people to rationalize whatever agenda is unspoken.

An answer: once one is over 30 it becomes harder to relate to students - and indeed anyone - who seems like they should be more mature than they sometimes are about things. It can be exasperating and exhausting to deal with the same immature bullshit over and over, but it's but if one is to work in a university perspective is part of the job. At the very least, recognizing toxic stridency isn't exclusive to right or left, but an eternal human failing to be understood, especially within oneself.
Link6 said it all|what you say?

RIP [Jan. 29th, 2015|09:31 pm]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
Y'know, when the last article has been written, the last movie made and the final rocknroll hit turned out about the Beat Generation - somewhere around 1965 I should think - will they finally let us out of the cage?

Linkwhat you say?

Νίκη για την εργατική τάξη [Jan. 26th, 2015|10:59 am]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
Today we are one step closer to the only economic policy that matters.

Link5 said it all|what you say?

Actions speak louder than words. [Jan. 21st, 2015|06:22 pm]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
Obama supports fast track for the anti-democratic Trans Pacific Partnership. It's a treaty the public is not allowed to read that grants unprecedented power to private corporations over elected governments and he's asking to pass it without even the ritual of debate and scrutiny from our elected legislature.

No matter how impressive one might find his other words, this makes most of it hollow bullshit. It's almost worse because those other words mean he knows on some level this shit is wrong. Alas, loyalty to the ruling class means more than whatever regret or guilt he might feel over such things.

Maybe if he's defeated on this issue, he'll end up accomplishing the higher minded parts of his speech just because that's what's left on the agenda.
Link2 said it all|what you say?

Who needs magick when you have amusing serendipity? [Jan. 15th, 2015|10:05 pm]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
I really enjoyed Love Is The Law by Nick Mamatas, a classic noir story which incorporates Marx, Crowley, Punk and Harriet the Spy. Adding to the fun was excellent packaging - a truly pocket sized paperback (similar dimensions to classic pulp editions) with an awesome cover.

Recently I was looking up classic 80s tunes and discovered that the Suburbs were not the only band to release a song titled "Love Is The Law". It was also the title tune on an Toyah Ann Willcox, a new wave pop star who had 8 hits in England but was new to me.

The cover of her album has a very slight resemblance to the book (as Dark Horse and illustrator Jemiah Jefferson are very clever, this might be intentional).

Toyah does not resemble Nick's protagonist. She grew up middle class in Birmingham and embraced punk as emotional rather than political rebellion. She acted in Jubilee, Quadrophenia and Derek Jarman's The Tempest. She's now married to Robert Fripp. She made a point of saying she wasn't a fan of Crowley "but I thought the phrase 'Love Is the Law' was possibly one of the most beautiful to ever be uttered because it crosses every social and tribal divide".

Then I took a look at her videos - they remind me of Nina Hagen with a dash of Bowie - and found this bit of raw 80s:

"IEYA...Zion, Zuberon, Necronomicon!" The story of the song is fascinating and includes neo-Nazis. I swear, I'd think she was fictional if there wasn't extensive documentation.

She's also the first actress in this scene from Jubilee (a film very worth watching):

Link3 said it all|what you say?

Wow. [Jan. 14th, 2015|05:40 pm]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
Apparently the Jerk Store had a sale today and my workplace bought the entire supply.
Link6 said it all|what you say?

Here's a Link for You [Jan. 12th, 2015|12:33 pm]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
"This letter so perfectly encapsulates everything I find deeply endearing about this bloviating monster. It is 30% very good advice, 50% unnecessary yelling, and 20% nonsense...it is TOTALLY APPROPRIATE for her not to want to give her money (or to give her money according to her own terms), it's just hilarious that instead of saying "Sorry, no" she sent her a two-page lecture about capitalism."
-Mallory Otenburg An Actual Letter Ayn Rand Wrote To An Actual Teenage Girl
Link3 said it all|what you say?

If I were to speak at Chicago's Je suis Charlie Rally [Jan. 10th, 2015|07:48 pm]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
If I were to speak at Chicago's Je suis Charlie Rally, here's what I'd say:

A Bishop is returning from an inspection of all the churches in his diocese when he realizes he left his house keys at the last stop. When he walks in, he finds the priest drunk out of his mind and sodomizing a choir boy on a pile of Eucharist crackers at the altar.

For a few seconds he is mute with anger, then he yells out, "For heaven's sake, O'Brien, HOW MANY SECOND CHANCES CAN I GIVE YOU?"

If it was England, the Bishop would say, "Father, where do you think you are? Parliament?"

If it were Hammond, Indiana, he'd say, "When I said do more to compete with the Baptists, this is not what I meant."

If it were Pennsylvania, he'd say, "TOUCHDOWN!"

If it were Hollywood, he'd say, "Oh, so you want to direct?"

Or Canada: "Father, you'll be late for the broadcast!"

France: "That's it, back to the IMF with you!"

Or: "Come on, the Mists of Avalon fan club doesn't meet until Thursday."

Or: "I think we just lost the Jello Pudding Pops account."

If we are Charlie, this is what it means.
Link8 said it all|what you say?

So many long discussions end up being a varient of this. [Jan. 7th, 2015|10:17 am]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
Woman: I just want to be left alone when I walk down the street.
-Ijeoma Oluo
Link2 said it all|what you say?

Oh god, enough. [Jan. 5th, 2015|02:14 pm]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
Oh shit, please tell me we aren't starting off this year with a bunch of stupid essays about how feminism is failing nerd boys. Particularly when it's some rich straight white dude whining about he doesn't feel privileged because he didn't get laid in high school or college and actually suggested shy nerd guys are somehow a uniquely disadvantaged class.

I don't think feminism needs to accommodate a dude having the sads because he wasn't the popular sex machine he thinks everyone else was in his fantasy memory of youth. Worse he uses feminist literature as a pretext for blaming his own inability to handle rejection, indulging a paranoid fantasy which an actual smart person would be ashamed to voice:
Here’s the thing: I spent my formative years—basically, from the age of 12 until my mid-20s—feeling not “entitled,” not “privileged,” but terrified. I was terrified that one of my female classmates would somehow find out that I sexually desired her, and that the instant she did, I would be scorned, laughed at, called a creep and a weirdo, maybe even expelled from school or sent to prison. And furthermore, that the people who did these things to me would somehow be morally right to do them—even if I couldn’t understand how.
Dude, if you get to your mid-20s buying into this woman blaming bullshit, you are either too stupid to be a professor or you are choosing to embrace ignorance to avoid responsibility for your own flaws.

Nerds do not own the experiences of painful rejection, social anxiety, feeling lonely, sexual frustration or even getting picked on. It's the human fucking condition and does not, unto itself, make one part of a disadvantaged group.

Then there's this bullshit:
I’m not even suggesting to equate the ~15 years of crippling, life-destroying anxiety I went through with the trauma of a sexual assault victim...But let me draw your attention to one difference: the number of academics who study problems like the one I had is approximately zero. There are no task forces devoted to it, no campus rallies in support of the sufferers, no therapists or activists to tell you that you’re not alone or it isn’t your fault. There are only therapists and activists to deliver the opposite message: that you are alone and it is your privileged, entitled, male fault.
A nerd who is allegedly smart enough to process data should be able to notice just how much of culture is devoted to how people feel isolated and desperate. That there are a shit ton of support groups, studies, therapies and medical and natural remedies for those suffering acute social anxiety. Pretty much every issue of mainstream women's magazines have at least one article about how to find the courage to talk to potential mates.

Of course, many people struggling with this recognize it is their issue and up to them to resolve. Not something caused by their desired object having an agenda to punish them for even trying.

The billions of talk show hours spend on lonely people who can't make connections don't matter to this guy. He wants "campus rallies" for guys who are so afraid of rejection they won't even try, just sit in the corner and decide those crazy women will have them arrested if they do it wrong.

It's particularly galling to read this in the context of kids who kill themselves because they were raped, shamed by nude photos, sent to reprogramming for expressing gender preference, or repeatedly punished for infractions which didn't count for lighter skinned people.

Oppression can prevent one from getting laid when merely admitting desire has significant physical, life altering consequences, like getting kicked out of the house or labeled fair game for rape. It's not when a girl laughs in one's face when one asks her to prom, leaving one worried it might happen again, or when it seemed like everyone else was invited to the big make-out party, or when you equate getting consent for sex with the threat of being imprisoned for liking someone.

As for getting ill treatment for wearing glasses or liking math, one should be able to apply this context to how others get worse shit for their entire lives just for their own skin.

If one really is a nerd - and thus allegedly good at thinking - one should be able to grasp how privilege can be a separate issue from being treated unfairly. How solace for one's own lack of hot sex or friends shouldn't be a prerequisite for respecting the arguments of people who have nothing to do with that lack.
Link14 said it all|what you say?

When will Chicago media address its cop blog problem? [Jan. 2nd, 2015|02:02 pm]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
As I've written before, Second City Cop is blog which claims to be written by Chicago cops - one active, one retired - with anonymous comments by real cops in the comments. Aside from being pro-union, they regularly reveal themselves as racist and right wing, even circulating conspiracy theories from sources like Alex Jones when it fits their worldview.

For years, Chicago's media - both mainstream and alternative - has given SCC a pass on it's ugly side as it occasionally repeats valid gossip. Some have been openly cozy, interviewing the bloggers and citing it as a top or best blog.

I get using a flawed source of gossip, but the near silence about the flaws of that source is telling. Chicago's media - alt and not - is generally owned, operated and almost entirely staffed by white people. Which makes it easy to decide the open racism and ugly biases means less than potential info. After all, an even more openly racist blog was the source of a juicy if never quite verified story alleging the winner of a city sticker art contest had included gang signs in his entry.

Now cops shooting black people are a mainstream topic, and along with it the hostility and ugly attitudes by cops online. One might hope Chicago's media might discuss Second City Cop in this context. They can start with this post from 2012, which has only gotten more disturbing over time:
This is the generation of no parents. No supervision. No order. No limits. These are the ones that are bringing back dog fighting in a big way. That have no conflict resolution abilities. That have no moral center. The end result of "immediate gratification" and "if it feels good, do it" that has been polluting society since the 1960's.

These are the broken, and quite frankly, we don't see a fix that doesn't involve putting thousands of them in prison and hundreds in the ground. Our opinion of course, but we're the ones on the front lines seeing it each and every day.
By "them" he means poor black people. This is one of those times when the comments are worth reading, because anonymity lets cops drop their mask of public service:
It is incumbent upon all Chicago Police Officers particularly those in 001 and 018 to realize this and to act accordingly. Since we/the state can no longer do our sworn duty because of things beyond our control, we can at least assist them by not arresting them if one of them shoots or uses "bear spray" on one of these punks. Look th otherway, let them walk away if you are there, whatever but please, DO NOT ARREST THEM OR BE THE CAUSE OF ANY MORE GRIEF FOR THEM. Remember the system is not on their/our side,it is instead on he side of the punk. Don't let the punk win. And if you can plug one of these little bastards yourself, even better.
There's a ton of material for critique. For example, how SCC rarely mentions indicted cops except in the context of bad apples for whom the force is not to blame (a striking contrast to how every criminal proves all of Them are bad).

It would be interesting, but it will not happen.
Link1 said it|what you say?

A concise summation [Jan. 1st, 2015|09:45 am]
Greetings Fellow Comstoks!
So your brilliant, devious plan is this: you’re going to show the people who believe that the NYPD is full of power-hungry bullies and paramilitary goons what for by displaying to the country exactly how most of the collars you make are in fact wholly unnecessary exercises of petty microagression towards the citizenry you hold in open and rancorous contempt.
-Balloon Juice
Link3 said it all|what you say?

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