[Repost] LWT W/ John Oliver: Voting Machines

November 2019 Quote of the Month

“They were careless people[…]- they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness […], and let other people clean up the mess they had made.

– Nick Carraway, The Great Gatsby by Scott Fitzgerald

[Repost] Opulence

[Repost] What is Code? by Paul Ford

I was recently assigned to read this entire article/essay/magazine in a class of mine and was blown away by how comprehensive it is. If you guys are just beginning to dip your toes into IT or software development, then this is a must-read!

To read the article:

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-paul-ford-what-is-code/

A Million Little Deaths

To the skeptics and the willingly blind,

Recently, a friend and I was talking about politics and current events and this phrase was uttered:

“I think people are exaggerating. Well, it’s not like the world is going to end.”

Or something to that effect; I don’t remember it word-by-word.

And immediately, it had a gut-clenching effect of hopelessness and frustration on me. The phrase contains a world of privilege that some would sacrifice everything to have.

That simple phrase opened up a chasm of experience between suffering and a TV screen, death and the even voice of a newscaster. The individuals and the statistics used to represent them. The eye-watering emotion of a well-written book and the inert words that you could stop reading at any time… except not everyone is able to “go back to the real world”.

If you’re tired of seeing the news, you turn it off and ignore it and keep on with your days. You don’t want to see suffering, you close the door so you don’t have to hear your parents watching the news. When you walk past people demonstrating or petitioning and you’re irritated they’re wasting your time.

No, these issues aren’t your fault as a common citizen but to numb your awareness is to walk around intentionally blind. To live in a black-and-white world because you couldn’t handle the sensation of colors. Besides, you wouldn’t want others to turn away in your time of need so why would you towards others?

Feel the anger. Feel the sadness. Feel everything when you see broken little bodies coming out of elementary schools, feel everything when you see the bodies of mothers cold over their infants, feel for the village of children where everyone else has been eaten up by War. Feel when you see men treated worse than animals, when women become faceless and when the profit of one trump the good of many.

Of course, the world wouldn’t end. Society and people would carry on but remember: society, laws and rules don’t protect people, rather, it is the people who protect society, the status quo, the law.

When a middle schooler came home to find her mother deported, don’t you think her world ended just a little?

When a man was short $50 on his GoFundMe to pay for life-saving insulin, he literally died. He left behind an ailing mother who also passed away.

When a teenager is forced to give birth to a malformed infant after a rape or a rape survivor has to see her rapist granted custody of her child, feeling less than a worm on the sidewalk, don’t you think their worlds have ended then?

When a parent travels thousands of miles because even the threat of death isn’t enough to make them stay only to see their child die at the doorstep to freedom when they needed to be treated like people but were instead deemed worse than vermin, don’t you think their worlds ended?

These millions of little deaths individually should be worth more than the comfort and ignorant bliss you get from closing your eyes and ears.

It’s not about you, okay? IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU! Your discomfort, unease, whatever it is, does not compare to this monumental suffering. It’s doesn’t mean that one has to be consumed with it but the worst one can do is turn their back and become tired. Because, that’s when hope is lost. This devil of fatigue, of mental sleep is so alluring because it feels unfair to feel the burden of suffering you didn’t cause and feel too little to alleviate but even if one in one hundred can bear it and cry out and say “I hear you”, then just in the US, that would be three million voices strong.

So, don’t turn away. Feel every one of these little deaths like pricks on your skin. Let them tattoo you and empower you to act and change a world that isn’t nice.

Labels in Politics

Merriam-Webster defines identity politics as politics in which groups of people having a racial, religious, ethnic, social, or cultural identity tend to promote their own specific interests or concerns without regard to the interests or concerns of any larger political group. 

Identity politics are a persistent part of the American narrative, as they would be for any non-homogeneous society. A homogenous society tends to assume a singular culture which would include the same beliefs and identity. This means that everyone will easily agree on how to use resources and what should be prioritized. This is an idealized benefit of homogenous society, but it also means the members of said community would have more difficulty interacting with people from other communities. It could even mean a more difficult time thinking outside of the proverbial box, stifling innovation. These would be the strengths of a heterogeneous society. . . if such a society could manage to cooperate but of course that’s if they could settle on an agenda. America elected to have a democratic republic and that means America should evaluate the weak points of such a system and make them less vulnerable. 

I commend the fundamentalists for trying to stick especially close to what they believe is the exact vision of the Founding Fathers but as with most fundamentalists: they never consider that the context has changed since then. It’s always struck me as odd but of course, that would mean that they would find them to be self-evident truths. As these are the core values that they refuse to have compromised. That isn’t to say that federalists constantly make ethical concessions but that they’re constantly illustrated as being “less sane” due to their progressive agenda. Of course, this is just a tactic to win arguments in policy by targeting the public’s insecurity with change as well as the expenses that come with adjusting. Quite frankly, I’m of the opinion that the whole constitution of the American government is a social experiment with ideas borrowed from the Native Americans, the Magna Carta and The Enlightenment; therefore, the government would follow to have a progressive agenda on most matters. Of course, many things tend to be rather ambiguous when it comes to the more theoretical cases; that’s exactly why we elect presumed experts to oversee such things so that the everyday man can go about his personal affairs.  

A democratic republic in and of itself is to appoint experts to oversee the operations of the government. Identity politics have a negative connotation whenever it’s mentioned in any commentary. It’s become the go-to for “I can’t empathize or remotely understand your mindset because I feel that it doesn’t affect me but I will acknowledge that a minority of the population is concerned with the same thing as the issue you have just presented.” Or even more demeaning, “The issue you have presented affects a small minority and for that reason, it is not a major concern that needs to be addressed. I dare say it is a waste of resources.” This is the polite way of putting it. I would advise readers to continue the discussion in the comments but the United States of America was founded on salutary neglect and identity politics. No one was advocating for the British colonists “across the pond”. So they advocated for themselves but there was an issue of the Loyalists, Tories, and “Patriots”. Ultimately, America did get its independence despite the reluctance and opposition of others. I’d like to know why this differs from minority groups that have been systematically persecuted from doing the same thing. However, bear in mind that these minorities would like to be treated as equal and NOT superior to others by enforcing a hierarchy that means stripping others of their rights. 

Liberals have started to advocate for intersectionalism (that the overlap of various social identities, like race, gender, sexuality, and class, contributes to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual) to better unite the party with an identity. Largely because they unfairly characterised and branded the Republican party for years and for free without determining where they themselves truly stand. I assume it was to avoid limiting the scope of their audience by saying, “if you aren’t these things, we will warmly accept you” given the two-party system America has always had going on. 

In the time that it took me to complete this article, Special Counsel Robert Mueller finally testified before Congress. In the time that it took me to write this article, 55 people were fatally shot in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas and there was an attempt in Springfield, Missouri. In the time it took me to complete this article, I was indignant than the devil’s advocate, before taking to the dreaded fence. The United States has internalized the bipolarism of the Cold War to an excessive degree. As it stands, Republican is now synonymous with racist and Democrat with contradictory cradle cullers. Things have grains of truth but humans are such that we try to establish generalizations as to the regular standard by which “all of them” operate. It lends to the whole Us vs Them dynamic. 

[Repost] Bias in Medicine

Error 404: White Allies Not Found

There’s always this nebulous cloud of unease whenever I get invited to a discussion of race and privilege with a white person. At best, they could listen to what’s being said and try to understand but at worst, it will devolve into a he said she said where everything is taken as a personal attack or a joke. This article puts that feeling into more definite terms.

To read more: https://perilousblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/04/error-404-white-allies-not-found/

August 2019 Quote of the Month

By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.

-Kafka

Mini Takes: NotAllMen and Model Minority

Again and again, I see the same tactics used to silence those who are earnestly trying to talk about issues that they clearly feel strongly about only for others to silence them in the most insulting ways possible.

A discussion on the prevalence of inappropriate/criminal behavior towards women is often interjected with the assertion that there are also male victims. You get the picture. These sort of interjections are meant to derail and dismiss. It also carries with it, the intention to accuse, to project the feeling of being wrong onto the other. This defensiveness also means that the point of discussion has been lost on them because they were more focused on thinking of things to say to protect themselves from the perceived accusation.

However, the reality is that there doesn’t need to be an entire demographic that participates in one behavior for the behavior to be extremely damaging. The hashtag #YesAllWomen highlight just how a few bad apples ruin the whole bunch. Secondly, the goal of the movement was never to accuse; rather, it was to educate and to reform. More people come forward today with their accounts and experiences because they were unable to before. God knows there are better ways to gain fame and recognition than to air your worst traumas in front of the infinite witnesses on the internet. There will always be people who take everything as a personal attack but as someone who is more self-aware, there should always be the second thought that the victims don’t have the luxury of trust and so their state of vigilance and distrust is entirely justified.

Besides, the point of these interjections isn’t to talk about men’s rights either. It’s to shut down the current discussion about women’s experiences. By saying this, it shits on the victims of both genders by using one and dismissing the other.

Then, some paint discriminatory and demeaning acts as compliments: that the overweight woman was probably flattered by unwanted sexual advances, that the accuser wasn’t hot enough for the accused to be interested in sexually assaulting her, etc.

For this next segment, let’s look at the situation of Asian Americans.

In the later half of the 1900s, the myth of the model minority was pushed into the national psyche and it’s only rooted itself more firmly since. Like a lot of the more subtle manifestations of racism, this seemingly positive attitude towards Asians is still harming the population.

For one, this myth was first started as a way to free institutions and the wider white population from any responsibility to address racism because if Asians can make it in America, then black and brown people are just not working hard enough to be successful and racism/other inequities of the system aren’t to blame. This also drives a wedge between the Asian community and other minorities who are not included in this myth. It’s like your parent comparing you to a more successful sibling or a cousin; you tend to resent the person you’re compared to rather the person trying to manipulate you. Not only does this divide the two groups but it also downplays the other factors that have affected black and brown populations for centuries like the vestiges of slavery and segregation, just to name two.

Besides, Asia is an entire continent with thousands of ethnic groups each with thousands of year of history so it is inaccurate to generalise about such a large and diverse population. This has caused authorities to overlook Asian communities and their needs due to the myth and this has since caused a lack of representation for these communities. This leaves those that don’t have as strong of a background as, say, Japanese-Americans or Korean-Americans have to fall through the net and leave them under-served in their communities.

Furthermore, this has caused it to be more difficult to report incidents when Asian-Americans are targeted as a result of racism and xenophobia. The news often skips over these stories and it is often left out of conversations when people do talk about racism and discrimination. Since the population is held as the model of a hard worker and rule-follower, civil disobedience and any attempt to break out of the mold in a way that threatened the majority is strongly discouraged and deviators are punished. This also paints the population as being subordinate, robotic members of the community whose only aspiration is high grades and a good career.

It also has real consequences on the opportunities that Asian-Americans can access. Asian-American students have to overachieve to be evaluated as equal to their peers. Their achievements are undervalued and in return, this has placed increasing pressure on students to perform to a higher and higher standard. This extends to their professional life where although they are perceived as being competent and hard-working, they are unlikely to be promoted to leadership positions as the myth paints Asians as colder, less social and less dominant. This forces Asians in the workplace to overcompensate to dispel that myth, like how African-Americans often have to be extra mindful of their behavior, voice, gesticulations etc. to appear non-threatening and polite in a society that expects them to be violent and disrespectful.

These drawbacks from seemingly positive associations with your race aren’t very well-known but personally, it has made it hard to me to speak out about racial issues when it could be interpreted as lessening other’s experiences or if I express discomfort in getting these “compliments”, it’s seen as anti-social or ungrateful. This is a very specific example of how an elaborate social phenomenon has impacted every aspect of an entire race’s life.

These are only two scenarios where methods are used to derail and delegitimise a legitimate discussion. There are a lot of people that would rather stay in their safe bubble and not have to look at the uglier side of life as long as it benefits them and will try to throw off any meaningful discussion to maintain status quo. The world as it is with all its problems right now can’t afford to be less aware. To end, these are some of the more common logical fallacies to help you the next time you get the feeling that your interlocutor’s argument doesn’t quite hold water but you don’t know the word for it.

Like if you’ve enjoyed, and follow for more!
This is Lieutenant out.



Additional Reads:

Why We Must Talk About the Asian American Story, Too

Your Secret Misogyny