Greetings from 2017, when we’re having Peak Trans. In 5-8 years this will be over. A generation of children currently being treated with hormones and surgery for being “born in the wrong body” will be suing their doctors and parents. People will no longer say that a penis is female if the penis-haver “identifies as a woman”. The current trend of allowing male athletes to compete “as women” as long as they’re taking estrogen will be history (to refresh: male-to-trans runners, weightlifters, volleyball players, etc. are currently thrashing female opponents because women’s sports organizations are unwilling to appear “bigoted.”)
My (former?) friends are sharing memes (will they still call them “memes” 5-8 years in the future?) that compare males’ demands to access female bathrooms to the Civil Rights Movement, and women who say no to them as white racists. Liberals are insisting that sex – biology – is a social construct, that humans aren’t sexually dimorphic because of the existence of intersex people and clownfish. They pass along sciency-sounding science-denial articles that use the same rhetoric as “creation science.” They denounce “creation science” because it is a tool of the Right, and they fear the Right. Their science denial is of the Left, and they deny it’s science denial. Science denial denial.
My (former?) friends support changing the legal definition of sex from biology to “identity.” If a man says they “feel like a woman,” and someone like me asks, “what does that mean? How do you ‘feel like a woman’? Is ‘woman’ a feeling?” they rush to support the male and condemn me.
I have recently come out as one of those witches who refuses to say males are female; who believes females need sex-segregated spaces like women’s shelters and prisons; who believes women are entitled to say “no” to males for any reason. I have been banned from Facebook* twice and my reddit* account has been suspended permanently. Friends have sent me messages saying they can’t associate with me any longer because I’m so “hurtful” and “ignorant.” I just lost a $2,000 speaking gig with no explanation; since women like me are regularly “no-platformed” as “TERF”s, I assume it’s because of my recently exposed politics.
So right now we’re in the midst of a kind of Liberal mass hysteria. There have been crazes like this in the past: actual witch hunts, McCarthyism, the lobotomy fad of the mid-20th century, the “false memories” of the 1980’s. It could be worse; maybe it will still get worse. But like other trendy hysterias, this will pass.
And when it does, what will you, my (former?) friends, be saying about it?
“Oh that, that time was so weird!” you’ll say, perhaps with an eyeroll or giggle.
Or, “I always knew it was wrong.” You’ll think you were the one who stood up for sanity back then. You’ll forget that you were in fact declaring you were on “the right side of history,” virtue-signaling with your civil-rights-appropriating memes, while shunning and condemning women like me. You will forget.
You will forget that you said “sex is a spectrum, we don’t understand biology.” You’ll forget you vehemently argued that “female brains” can be trapped in male bodies, “it’s SCIENCE!!!” You’ll forget you said “assigned male at birth” as if sex is assigned by transphobic doctors and not observed by anyone with eyes and a brain. You’ll forget that every time someone pointed this out you said “intersex and clownfish!!!” as though they disproved reality, because of some creationist-style sciency-science-denial that supported your politics.
You won’t be that dumb in the future. But right now, you are.
You didn’t know, you weren’t paying attention, it wasn’t your thing, you have to pick your battles. While women like me were screaming about the transing of children and the male pattern violence of males, you “didn’t know.” It was convenient not to know. Meanwhile you got head-pats and excitement in the “movement” (what movement? Against Trump? Why does opposing Trump mean you can’t think critically?) for repeating thought-terminating, loaded language like “trans women are women” and “assigned male at birth” and “cis”.
What will you blame, future? You will probably minimize the problem. It was just women, after all, they’re a minority, right? And so many women are white and middle-to-upper class, they did fine, it didn’t hurt them. OK, some kids got transed and regretted it, we went too far there, we meant well, why are you making such a big deal? It wasn’t that many, they were almost all homosexual anyway. It’s history, it’s over, we know better now.
Oh, Future, we’ll be lucky if you can read this. We’ll be lucky if you’re even there to ignore me.
*Facebook and reddit are social media sites. Will there be social media in the future? Will there even be electricity in the future? Since we’re on the brink of ecological and social collapse, I realize you might not even be able to read this. But if society and the planet are still holding together enough that you can: PAY ATTENTION.
The Creation Museum in Kentucky is really a marvelous testament to what money can buy. A temple of Mammon, if you will. Designers and craftspeople work for money, not ideology, and the money here paid for some good ones. It reminded me a lot of Las Vegas that way.
You won’t learn much about the Bible here, since creationists really pick and choose. From an Old Testament perspective the whole place is outrageously idolatrous, violating the Second Commandment: “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that [is] in heaven above, or that [is] in the earth beneath, or that [is] in the water under the earth…” —Exodus 20:4-6 (KJV)
Finally, the Creation Museum is a magnificent monument to the limits of human psychology. Here it’s especially easy to see the extraordinary lengths humans go to to make some kind of PALATABLE sense of the world. I vastly prefer science to biblical authority, but even the best method of inquiry gets mashed through our squishy, emotional, fallible, fragile human minds. It’s easy to make fun of creationists, but we all have similar longings to understand the world, and there’s only so much cognitive discomfort we can handle before we just project on reality as we see fit.
Big ol’ bible dinosaur at the entrance
The Bible is authoritative, without error, and inspired by God. UNLIKE YOUR SILLY “SCIENCE” NONSENSE!
On a recent trip to Trivandrum, India, I decided to try learning to touch-type in Dvorak (after decades of hunt-and-peck in QWERTY). Here I share some excerpts of my “Dvorak Diary”.
Tuesday, December Thirtieth, Two thousand fourteen….
I have been kinda ‘offline’ since returning. The last legs of my flights were awful, and I still haven’t recovered, though at this point it’s probably jetlag more than exhaustion that has me failing to connect to ‘my’ world and identity. I haven’t felt connected online, and am concerned about how I let Facebook information just wash over me with no real engagement on my part. It’s a hell of a lot of information to just suck through me like a stream. I surely have more than enough information rattling around in my head already. Maybe it’s time to let it settle, to digest it and let it adjust to the habitat of my mind and maybe make something of itself instead of just washing through like a tsunami. I feel less satisfied being an information node than a full human animal. Jetlag reminds me I am an animal, and no amount of information can heal my exhausted body. I recently read that staring into screens is terrible for sleep – I read that staring into a screen, ha ha – so last night I didn’t check email or read Facebook.
Is Facebook the television of today? It’s not broadcast, and it can be useful sometimes, but I become very passive with it, especially at night when I turn to it in my insomnia.
On a recent trip to Trivandrum, India, I decided to try learning to touch-type in Dvorak (after decades of hunt-and-peck in QWERTY). Here I share some excerpts of my “Dvorak Diary”.
December Twenty-Fifth, Two Thousand Fourteen….
The airport here has two levels. Lower is a huge confusing mall like Heathrow; upper is one huge business class lounge with its own gates. Lower is a dystopian capitalist nightmare; powerless citizens oppressed by armed guards are blasted with ‘luxury’ images and stores. The more oppressed, powerless, and confused the human, the more vulnerable to advertising. The violence behind capitalism is apparent at airports. Armed guards at the periphery, armed guards at every step, and at the center: shopping. But the business class lounge is ad-free and store-free. ‘Luxury’ goods aren’t for the rich and powerful, they’re for the disempowered middle class. They are the only way to gain a sense of power where all other power has been stripped away.
I started typing that at the Dubai airport but finished it here on the plane. That’s how slow a typist I am.
As for the music, it is Fair Use. This Land Is Mine is a PARODY of “The Exodus Song.” That music was sort of the soundtrack of American zionism in the 1960’s and 70’s. It was supposed to express Jewish entitlement to Israel. By putting the song in the mouth of every warring party, I’m critiquing the original song.
Why are the Freedoms guaranteed for Free Software not guaranteed for Free Culture?
Free software is a matter of the users’ freedom to run, copy, distribute, study, change and improve the software. More precisely, it means that the program’s users have the four essential freedoms:
The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0).
The freedom to study how the program works, and change it to make it do what you wish (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2).
The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others (freedom 3). By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. Access to the source code is a precondition for this.
These are the Four Freedoms of Free Software. They are foundational principles, and they are exactly right. They have served and continue to serve the Free Software Movement very well. They place the user’s freedom ahead of all other concerns. Free Software is a principled movement, but Free Culture is not – at least not so far. Why?
1. The No Derivatives (-ND) Restriction
If you tinker with software, you can improve it. You can also break it or make it worse, but the Freedom to Tinker is one of the foundational 4 Freedoms of Free Software. Your software may also be used for purposes you don’t like, used by “bad people,” or even used against you; the Four Freedoms wisely counsel us to GET OVER IT.
Unfortunately, The Free Software Foundation does not extend “Freedom to Tinker” to Culture:
Cultural works released by the Free Software Foundation come with “No Derivatives” restrictions. They rationalize it here:
Works that express someone’s opinion—memoirs, editorials, and so on—serve a fundamentally different purpose than works for practical use like software and documentation. Because of this, we expect them to provide recipients with a different set of permissions (notice how users are now called “recipients,” and their Freedoms are now called “permissions” –NP): just the permission to copy and distribute the work verbatim. (link)
The problem with this is that it is dead wrong. You do not know what purposes your works might serve others. You do not know how works might be found “practical” by others. To claim to understand the limits of “utility” of cultural works betrays an irrational bias toward software and against all other creative work. It is anti-Art, valuing software above the rest of culture. It says coders alone are entitled to Freedom, but everyone else can suck it. Use of -ND restrictions is an unjustifiable infringement on the freedom of others.
For example, here I have violated the Free Software Foundation’s No-Derivatives license:
The Four Freedoms of Free Culture:
1. The freedom to run, view, hear, read, play, perform, or otherwise attend to the Work;
2. The freedom to study, analyze, and dissect copies of the Work, and adapt it to your needs;
3. The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor;
4. The freedom to distribute copies of your modified versions to others. By doing this you can give the whole community a chance to benefit from your changes. (link)
Without permission, I’ve created a derivative work: the Four Freedoms of Free Culture. Although I violated FSF’s No-Derivatives license, they violated Freedoms # 2 and 4, so we’re even.
2. The Non-Commercial (-NC) Restriction
The Freedom to Distribute Free Software is essential to its success. It has given rise to many for-profit businesses that benefit the larger community.
Red Hat, Canonical – would the world be better if such companies were forbidden? Would Free Software benefit from a ban on those businesses?
Yet the Cultural ecosystem is stunted by the prevalence of Non-Commercial restrictions. These maintain commercial monopolies around works, and – especially for vocational artists like me – are functionally as restrictive as unmodified copyright. Yet they are widely mislabeled “Free Culture,” or even “Copyleft.”
Which of these things does not belong?
This is a still from the mostly excellent and popular documentary RIP:a Remix Manifesto. This film is many peoples’ introduction to the term “Free Culture” and “Copyleft.” But as you can see, the Non-Commercial restriction is lumped in with actual Free license terms.
This film is itself licensed under unFree Non-Commercial restrictions. As an artist and filmmaker, I have found confusion is rampant among my creative colleagues. Some filmmakers are beginning to think the term “Free Culture” is cool, but they still want to restrict others’ freedom and impose commercial monopolies on their works.
This doesn’t help either
The book Free Culture by Lawrence Lessig its itself not Free culure, but it is widely looked up to. It sets an unfortunate and confusing example with its Non-Commercial license. It illustrates the absence of guiding principles in the Free Culture movement.
I have spoken to many artists who insist there’s “no real difference” between Non-Commercial licenses and Free alternatives. Yet these differences are well known and unacceptable in Free Software, for good reason.
Calling Non-Commercial restrictions “Free Culture” neuters what could be an effective movement, if it only had principles.
So what do I want?
I want a PRINCIPLED Free Culture Movement.
I want Free Software people to take Culture seriously. I want a Free Culture movement guided by principles of Freedom, just as the Free Software movement is guided by principles of Freedom. I want a name I can use that means something – the phrase “Free Culture” is increasingly meaningless, as it is often applied to unFree practices, and is also the name of a famous book that is itself encumbered with Non-Commercial restrictions.
I want a Free Culture ecosystem that allows artists to make money. I want anyone to be able to accept money for their work of remixing and building on Culture – just as a trucker can accept money for driving on a road. I want money to be among the many incentives to participate in building culture. Without the freedoms to Tinker and Redistribute without restriction, there is little incentive to build on and improve cultural works. There is little reward to help your neighbor, when you are guaranteed to lose money doing so. “Free Culture” with non-Commercial restrictions will remain a hobby for those with a surplus of time and labor, and those who only accept money from monopolists.
I want commerce without monopolies. I want people to understand the difference.
I want a Free Culture ecosystem that includes equivalents of businesses like Red Hat and Canonical. I want cultural businesses that give back to their communities, that work with their customers instead of against them. Only if we refuse to place Non-Commercial and No-Derivatives restrictions on our works will a robust Free Culture ecosystem be able to emerge.
I want the Free Software community – those who currently best understand the Four Freedoms – to champion the rest of Culture, not just Software. I want Freedom for All.
It seems the same people who can’t tell the difference between fraud and copying, also can’t tell the difference between anti-social disregard for authors and copyright reform. Folks invoking my name in the Cooks Source scandal are as clueless as Judith Griggs.
As usual, Techdirt has the best article on the topic:
…Cooks Source Magazine copied one woman’s blog post and published it as an article, without asking her permission or letting her even know about it. They did put her name on it, but she only found out after a friend spotted it and told her about it. Where the story takes a bizarre twist is after emailing with the editor of the magazine, Judith Griggs, asked the original author, Monica, what she wanted. Monica suggested a public apology (on Facebook) and a modest $130 donation to Columbia’s journalism school. That’s when Griggs responded like this:
“Yes Monica, I have been doing this for 3 decades, having been an editor at The Voice, Housitonic Home and Connecticut Woman Magazine. I do know about copyright laws. It was “my bad” indeed, and, as the magazine is put together in long sessions, tired eyes and minds somethings forget to do these things.
But honestly Monica, the web is considered “public domain” and you should be happy we just didn’t “lift” your whole article and put someone else’s name on it! It happens a lot, clearly more than you are aware of, especially on college campuses, and the workplace. If you took offence and are unhappy, I am sorry, but you as a professional should know that the article we used written by you was in very bad need of editing, and is much better now than was originally. Now it will work well for your portfolio. For that reason, I have a bit of a difficult time with your requests for monetary gain, albeit for such a fine (and very wealthy!) institution. We put some time into rewrites, you should compensate me! I never charge young writers for advice or rewriting poorly written pieces, and have many who write for me… ALWAYS for free!”
That response not only shows a rather confused understanding of copyright law, but also suggests someone who’s kinda sorta heard arguments about why copying can be beneficial, and jumbled them all together in her head. Now, we’ve spent plenty of time over the years showing how content creators can be better off allowing their works to be copied, but even so, Grigg’s response appears totally tone deaf to what Monica’s actual concerns were. But here’s where social mores and reputational value take over. Monica’s story made it onto Reddit and it got picked up by tons of others, leading the Facebook page of Cooks Source to be filled with angry comments from people supporting Monica.
So I missed my whole trip to California due to a badly-timed cold. Which means I have lots of time on my hands to bang my head into the wall that is the Mimi & Eunice web site.
I hired a developer who started building a beautiful new system in Ruby on Rails, only to discover that my web host, Media Temple, has a relatively wonky and outdated Ruby setup. That led the site to disappear for a few days. It’s potentially a really nice system (though it still has some kinks in it), but I may have to switch web hosts if I want to rely on it.
So I started uploading the strips in plain old WordPress, which is excellent in all ways but one some: the images don’t show up in all RSS feeders, they don’t show up in Facebook, and I can’t find a way to generate simple embed code for them. What am I talking about? Behold what I want, as shown on the fine comics site qwantz:
See that code it automatically generates that lets you embed any comic? I spent a day searching for a wordpress plugin that does that, and still can’t find one. Help?
And I don’t know why my Mimi & Eunice comics don’t show up in the RSS Feed in Firefox, but they do in other browsers. I already did this, and installed the AbsoluteRSS plugin. But I still can’t see the images in Firefox. Help?
I just want Mimi & Eunice to be as easily shared as possible. Help appreciated, but please don’t suggest ComicPress. Been there, done that, it has a lot of problems. Also my budget is exhausted of $$ to pay for consultants, since the Ruby on Rails project consumed it all. The nice thing about the simple WordPress setup is that each comic displays at a small size (640 pixels wide) but links to a high-res (2400 pixels wide) image suitable for printing. That’s important to me, because I want to encourage all kinds of sharing, including paper publishing. The current site has all the features I want except image embedding. Please tell me there’s a solution. Thanks. I love you.
Update:Brett Thompson has made an embed code generator for Mimi & Eunice! It looks big and text-y today but Brett says he will spruce up its appearance tomorrow. But you can start embedding Mimi & Eunice comics RIGHT NOW!