Monday, August 17, 2015

Driving your elephant

Here's a model (more info) that I thought was an old Buddhist thing but is actually just from Jonathan Haidt, like a number of other cool things (like Moral Foundations Theory, and a fun test about it here). Anyway, it's been a useful model for me.

You've got an elephant (your impulsive, emotional self) and a rider (the cool, calm, rational self). You can't really control the elephant, but you can learn about the elephant and steering it the right way. The elephant is much stronger, so learning to work with the elephant is way more valuable than just trying to ignore it.

I guess when people say something is hard, they mean it's an environment that's hard to drive your elephant in. Grad school is hard like that. It's full of a lot of things that aren't really problems, but will spook your elephant. (Your paper got rejected! These senior researchers think you're a fool! Your work is meaningless!) If you get better at calming down the elephant, even if you just slowly plod along forward, you'll do fine.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Bernie Sanders and #BlackLivesMatter

As I understand it, Bernie Sanders held a rally in Seattle, some Black Lives Matter protesters stormed the stage before his speech and took the mic, said some stuff and had a 4.5-minutes of silence for all the black people who have been killed ... by police since Ferguson? ... and then Sanders did not go on to speak. That's about all I know. I like this article about it, by Pramila Jayapal, a lot. But since I have a place I can blog too, I will.

White people: the BLM protestors are right. (see point #1 in the article I linked above.)

BLM protestors: huh, maybe this worked. Got a lot of people talking. Maybe it didn't: alienate the people rooting for the most radical candidate out there. Shoot, this seems the best I've seen from any candidate so far. See point #5 in Jayapal's article above. How can we call people in as we call them out?

Ms. Jayapal: "But in the end, if we want to win for ALL of us on racial, economic, and social justice issues, we need multiple sets of tactics, working together. Some are disruptive tactics. Some are loving tactics. Some are truth-telling tactics. Some can only be taken on by white people. Some can only be taken on by people of color."

What are those tactics? What can I do? (not saying I will do them, because I'm trying hard enough to work on my work and stay sane otherwise. but I'm curious what I ought to/can be doing here. maybe talking about it on the internet is part of it.)

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Bloggin' about Political Correctness cause I don't want to argue this on facebook

I mean, that term is too loaded. It's either Bad (if you're republican) or Good (if you're not). Obv I think Good is closer to the truth, but it's more complicated.

Bad 1: using racial slurs (obv)
Bad 2: using insensitive words like "illegals" or "retarded" that we haven't yet elevated to the level of Really Bad Word, or other sort of language that indicates racist thoughts
Bad 3: "postman" instead of "postal worker" or other sort of uninclusive language

But like, these are different levels of badness. I feel like if your uncle starts dropping n-bombs, you should be like "dude. don't say that." But if he does a thing that is Bad 2 or Bad 3, don't jump all over him. Use the right word, and if he asks you about it, explain why in as non-confrontational and non-superior a way as possible.

If people have deep-seated racist/sexist/*ist beliefs, you're not going to change their mind by saying "that one word is bad" - they're likely to think you're just being "politically correct." And the cartoonish stereotype of PC is of course silly. Even though the sentiments behind PC are totally correct and most people who "hate political correctness" really mean "Can't things just be simple like they used to be back in the good old days?" without realizing that the good old days weren't so good for everyone.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Someone Did Something Bad Somewhere: Stop It.

We need a word for this. Articles where it's not a wider issue, but just one person doing one bad thing, and everyone freaks the hell out because it's easy or socially appropriate to. See: that guy who shot Cecil the lion, that pizzeria in Indiana somewhere who said they wouldn't serve a gay wedding, #HasJustineLandedYet.

Used to be, these headlines were just annoying noise on a slow news day, but now these cases end up with people's lives... drastically changed, if not totally ruined. For doing a crummy thing (or sometimes even just misunderstood; Justine Sacco's tweet about AIDS was just a joke misinterpreted by people she never intended, without context), in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"SDSBS" is the best I've got now. Example:

Facebook friend posts "hey this guy punched a puppy! how terrible! (link)"
Response: "SDSBS, move along."
OP: "oh yeah, sorry."

I don't know. It's a clunky term, but it'd be nice to have some shorthand for "stop sharing this."