The Inimitable Tiff


  1. Out of the bag onto the floor
    Things fallen in scatter.
    And it occurs to me —
    The world is
    Just a grin glimmering
    Warming itself
    On the lips of a hanged man.

    untitled, Velimir Khlebnikov (1908)

    (via russkayaliteratura)

  2. changetheratio:

"Every woman knows this to be true: when you tell someone your age, you give them the power to decide how you’re perceived. No matter your qualifications, people are predisposed to judge what you are really “worth” to them based on your age. The point of someone asking your age is almost always so that the asker can make a judgment about you based on that age—what other reason is there? Finding out your age is a way for people to size you up, put you in a specific box, determine their expectations for you, and decide whether you meet them sufficiently."
“Why I Never Tell Anyone My Age," by Nisha Chittal. 

    changetheratio:

    "Every woman knows this to be true: when you tell someone your age, you give them the power to decide how you’re perceived. No matter your qualifications, people are predisposed to judge what you are really “worth” to them based on your age. The point of someone asking your age is almost always so that the asker can make a judgment about you based on that age—what other reason is there? Finding out your age is a way for people to size you up, put you in a specific box, determine their expectations for you, and decide whether you meet them sufficiently."

    Why I Never Tell Anyone My Age," by Nisha Chittal. 

  3. Of Gamers, Gates, and Disco Demolition: The Roots of Reactionary Rage - The Daily Beast

    Good piece.

    I’m scared of people who look at someone like Zoe Quinn, an individual who makes free indie games, or Anita Sarkeesian, an individual who makes free YouTube videos, and honestly think that these women are a powerful “corrupt” force taking away the freedom of the vast mob of angry young male gamers and the billion-dollar industry that endlessly caters to them, and that working to shut them up and drive them out somehow constitutes justice. The dominant demographic voice in some given fandom or scene feeling attacked by an influx of new, different fans and rallying the troops against “oppression” in reaction is not at all unique. It happens everywhere, all the time.

    But let’s be honest: It’s usually guys doing it. Our various “culture wars” tend to boil down to one specific culture war, the one about men wanting to feel like Real Men and lashing out at the women who won’t let them. Whenever men feel like masculinity is under attack, men get dangerous. Because that’s exactly what masculinity teaches you to do, what masculinity is about. Defending yourself with disproportionate force against any loss of power? That’s what masculinity is.

    Underdogs, make no mistake, can be vicious and cruel and evil, all the more so because they have a grievance to justify their viciousness. But to be an underdog is to lack power. It means, by definition, that you’re weak, where the overdog is strong.

    And to be an overdog who thinks he’s an underdog is, therefore, worst of all.

  4. magictransistor:

    Rockwell Kent. Illustrations for Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. 1930.

    (via omit-needless-words)

  5. Sun Kil Moon Yells At Cloud: "War On Drugs: Suck My Cock" and the Language of Male Violence | Pitchfork

    Meredith Graves, musician:

    This is why Kozelek’s song is a seven-minute ode to how funny and smart he is for saying mean and sexually aggressive things about people he doesn’t know: it’s OK that you didn’t invite him to your party, because he didn’t want to fucking go to your stupid party anyway. If it wasn’t obvious enough, in comparing the War On Drugs to Mellencamp and Fleetwood Mac, he’s actually taking shots at people closer to his own age, as if to insist that he’s not like those other old people—that he’s still relevant, still cool, that the War On Drugs crowd would be better off listening to his music, that he still in some way fits in with them. He’s only imitating what his curmudgeonly peers are doing—fumbling to hold on to whatever relevance they have left in order to feel like they still belong.

    These men are devotees of a dangerous patriarchal herd mentality, which they confuse for part of some imaginary intellectual elite. These men can’t just be smart on their own; they have to be smart in a superior way that only exists in relation to the ways in which other people are dumb, generic, inauthentic. These are men who never learned that someone else’s success doesn’t mean their failure. It’s sad in the same way that American Beauty is sad—to see these men holding on to their fragile egos and public identities for dear life. And their retaliation is, more often than not, aggressive and menacing.

  6. Moulson’s Touch of The Cancer

    Moulson had cancer.  Today it was cut away, leaving him a tidy row of stitches, an asymmetric lip line and (currently) amusingly dramatic whining.  While we’re waiting for official word, he’s probably cancer-free which is great.

     …Yet it will come back, harder to detect and more expensive to treat.  Cancer-free but lymphoma-inclined is our reality.

    Mo would, no doubt, tell you all about rotten day at the vet with one big eyebrow-flair then flopping onto his side (cone rattling for emphasis).  Which is probably all that needs to be said.  I have more complex thoughts.  I sat in the vet’s lobby for hours this morning until an attending vet told me Mo was under observation until 1 p.m.—they’d call sometime after that with a post-surgery update.  All things they should have explained during our three prior visits but instead I’m the asshole silently taking up space in their wretched lobby.

    So I walked home, did random things I cannot recall, then walked back once they confirmed that Mo survived.

    As I errantly sat in the lobby, I saw a energetic young dog with four broken paws in casts.  I didn’t have the heart to ask why.  I saw a cat’s first steps on three legs instead of four.  I saw two simple checkups and relieved owners.  I saw a sobbing woman run in with her dog in her arms, “Sunny” foaming at the mouth and seizing.  They were whisked into the clinic.  An admin mopped a tiny part of the floor where Sunny left some foam, swearing loud enough for all of us in the lobby to hear.  I hope Sunny’s mom didn’t hear.

    If you see small heartbreaks daily, you harden yourself to its regularity—I do understand that. Yet as a fellow human stuck in that lobby, like the (paid) admins:  today sucked.  Moulson and I being referrals, the emergency clinic admins did little more than speak for their scheduling software.  The doctors overcompensated by spouting medical terminology, pointing at a printout only they could see on their clipboardOur attending vet finally laughed at my lame jokes, realizing three visits in that I cover my anger and fear (more of the former) with dark humor.  However, I’m still googling medical terms from his discharge papers.

    Recently I drug Moulson by plane to Utah, to see his grandhumans.  It was a tough choice and was very stressful (fodder for a different post) but he loved every minute in Utah and my parents loved seeing him.  Yet to fly back to New York we had to get a fresh health certificate, so I took Moulson to the local vet.  That vet treated Mo like an honored out-of-town guest visiting from The Big City rather than a one-time, $80-to-sign-a-form client.  The doctor kindly asked after my parents and their recently passed dog Tracker, he inquired about Moulson’s adoption and entire medical history (even looking at the folder I brought), he did a general checkup and even emailed notes to both our New York vets.

    Mo didn’t want to leave that office due to the kind peopletreats and nice smells.  (I liked the faux fireplaces in each exam room, myself.)  

    What a contrast within two weeks, 99% of it being empathy.


    Moulson’s next touch of The Cancer will probably take him. It’ll be too quick, too expensive and he’s too old now.  But we won’t be going back there, either way.  And we’re certainly not sending one of those pitiable “thank you for trying” handwritten cards festooning their exam rooms.  They did their jobs, not one shred more.

    Update: Our regular vet called today to check in on Moulson and to reiterate that we should come in anytime if I have concerns about his healing. I like them. They try and succeed.


    BTW, I cross-posted this to a new TinyLetter account, in Mo’s name. Not entirely sure why.  Subscribe if you like, to his posts or mine?  Guaranteed at least one email.  Perhaps ever.

  7. futurejournalismproject:

    New York Times reporter James Risen, via Twitter.

    James Risen recently won the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Journalism Award for excellence in journalism.

    The Pulitzer Prize winning national security reporter has long been hounded by the US Justice Department to disclose his confidential sources from his 2006 book State of War.

    As the Washington Post wrote back in August, “Prosecutors want Mr. Risen’s testimony in their case against Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA official who is accused of leaking details of a failed operation against Iran’s nuclear program. Mr. Risen properly has refused to identify his source, at the risk of imprisonment. Such confidential sources are a pillar of how journalists obtain information. If Mr. Risen is forced to reveal the identity of a source, it will damage the ability of journalists to promise confidentiality to sources and to probe government behavior.”

    While accepting the Lovejoy Award, Risen had this to say:

    The conventional wisdom of our day is the belief that we have had to change the nature of our society to accommodate the global war on terror. Incrementally over the last thirteen years, Americans have easily accepted a transformation of their way of life because they have been told that it is necessary to keep them safe. Americans now slip off their shoes on command at airports, have accepted the secret targeted killings of other Americans without due process, have accepted the use of torture and the creation of secret offshore prisons, have accepted mass surveillance of their personal communications, and accepted the longest continual period of war in American history. Meanwhile, the government has eagerly prosecuted whistleblowers who try to bring any of the government’s actions to light.

    Americans have accepted this new reality with hardly a murmur. Today, the basic prerequisite to being taken seriously in American politics is to accept the legitimacy of the new national security state that has been created since 9/11. The new basic American assumption is that there really is a need for a global war on terror. Anyone who doesn’t accept that basic assumption is considered dangerous and maybe even a traitor.

    Today, the U.S. government treats whistleblowers as criminals, much like Elijah Lovejoy, because they want to reveal uncomfortable truths about the government’s actions. And the public and the mainstream press often accept and champion the government’s approach, viewing whistleblowers as dangerous fringe characters because they are not willing to follow orders and remain silent.

    The crackdown on leaks by first the Bush administration and more aggressively by the Obama administration, targeting both whistleblowers and journalists, has been designed to suppress the truth about the war on terror. This government campaign of censorship has come with the veneer of the law. Instead of mobs throwing printing presses in the Mississippi River, instead of the creation of the kind of “enemies lists” that President Richard Nixon kept, the Bush and Obama administrations have used the Department of Justice to do their bidding. But the effect is the same — the attorney general of the United States has been turned into the nation’s chief censorship officer. Whenever the White House or the intelligence community get angry about a story in the press, they turn to the Justice Department and the FBI and get them to start a criminal leak investigation, to make sure everybody shuts up.

    What the White House wants is to establish limits on accepted reporting on national security and on the war on terror. By launching criminal investigations of stories that are outside the mainstream coverage, they are trying to, in effect, build a pathway on which journalism can be conducted. Stay on the interstate highway of conventional wisdom with your journalism, and you will have no problems. Try to get off and challenge basic assumptions, and you will face punishment.

    Journalists have no choice but to fight back, because if they don’t they will become irrelevant.

    Bonus: The NSA and Me, James Bamford’s account of covering the agency over the last 30 years, via The Intercept.

    Double Bonus: Elijah Parish Lovejoy was a minister in the first half of the 19th century who edited an abolitionist paper called the St. Louis Observer. He was murdered by a pro-slavery mob in 1837. More via Wikipedia.

    Images: Selected tweets via James Risen.

    (via markcoatney)

  8. Publishing and Reading

    Clay Shirky, on Amazon, Hachette and the quality of future books.

    In the current fight between Amazon and the publisher Hachette over the price of ebooks and print-on-demand rights, Amazon’s tactics are awful, the worst possible in fact: They are denying readers access to books, removing pre-order options and slowing delivery of titles published by Hachette. Amazon’s image as a business committed to connecting readers to books is shredded by this sort of hostage-taking. The obvious goal for readers in should be to punish anyone using us as leverage.

    This skirmish will end, though, and when it does, we’ll be left with the larger questions of what the landscape of writing and reading will look like in the English-speaking world. On those questions, we should be backing Amazon, not because different principles are at stake, but because the same principle — Whose actions will benefit the reader? — leads to different conclusions. Many of the people rightly enraged at Amazon’s mistreatment of customers don’t understand how their complaint implicates the traditional model of publishing and selling as well.

  9. The Next Civil Rights Issue: Why Women Aren't Welcome on the Internet - Pacific Standard

    Our laws have always found a way to address new harms while balancing long-standing rights, even if they do it very slowly. Opponents of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 characterized its workplace protections as unconstitutional and bad for business. Before workplace sexual harassment was reframed as discriminatory under Title VII, it was written off as harmless flirting. When Title IX was first proposed to address gender discrimination in education, a Senate discussion on the issue ended in laughter when one senator cracked a co-ed football joke. Until domestic violence became a national policy priority, abuse was dismissed as a lovers’ quarrel. Today’s harmless jokes and undue burdens are tomorrow’s civil rights agenda.

    Emphasis mine.

    By Amanda Hess, just one of a half-dozen similar pieces shared and read this weekend, in the wake of Kathy Sierra’s most recent harassment and response.

  10. How to Make a Black Hole: Spinning Into Oblivion | Out There | NYTs

    Supercomputer simulations show the moment when a pair of neutron stars collide, collapse into a black hole and tear themselves out of the visible universe.
    Video by Dennis Overbye, Jason Drakeford and Jonathan Corum on Publish Date October 8, 2014.