April Recommended Reading


Cascadia Volcanoes

At the end of each month I compile links to articles I found thought-provoking over that month, categorized with pull-quotes for your perusal and edification. Each of these is a story that made me stop and think, and hopefully one or two of them will do the same for you.

LGBTQ+ Rights:

Mississippi Senate Passes Sweeping ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill – Jacquellena Carrero

“The legislation says that businesses, social workers and public employees cannot be punished for denying services based on the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman or that “sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” It also protects individuals who believe gender is determined at birth.

According to the bill, the government would not be allowed to prevent organizations from refusing to marry a same-sex couple, from firing an individual whose “conduct or religious beliefs are inconsistent with those of the religious organization” or from blocking the adoption of a child because of religious beliefs.”

How its anti-trans smear campaign is spreading not just hate, but violence too – Eesha Pandit

“Activists in Houston feel strongly that the hateful rhetoric advanced by opponents of LGBT rights has contributed to this climate of violence. Monica Roberts, transadvocate and writer of the prominent blog TransGriot, told Salon that the hateful and false messages about transgender people, trans women in particular, have a real impact on their lives. “ We are going to have to work twice as hard to overcome those messages, which are exacerbated by willfully ignorant media coverage of our issues,” said Roberts.

Fran Watson, President of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, told Salon that the damaging rhetoric about transgender people obfuscates the fact that this is a particularly vulnerable community, saying, “For those who believe the rhetoric and hear nothing else, the conversation continues to perpetuate the myths and lies about the Trans Community, which has a negative impact on an already vulnerable community.” In fact, according to the latest data collected by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs shows that more than two thirds (72 percent) of hate crime homicide victims were transgender women, and 67 percent of those were transgender women of color.”

I Heart the Singular They

I’ve written about this in the past, and this is a delightful take on the subject. You don’t need an except to click through this one.


How “She Just Wants Attention” Became America’s Hottest Sexist Insult – Rebecca Onion

“When used to address a woman who wishes to bear testimony or present an analysis, “attention-seeking” sweeps every merit of her truth or observation away in a profoundly ad hominem accusation, lent even more weight by its gender essentialism. In 2014, Ann Coulter appeared on conservative talk radio host Lars Larson’s show to talk about that year’s disastrous Rolling Stone cover story about a campus rape at the University of Virginia, a story later found to have no basis in reality. Besides saying that rapes are only rapes if the woman has been “hit in the head with a brick” during the assault, Coulter suggested that women who come forward about being raped are “girls trying to get attention.” The disgust and dismissal in that statement show how “attention-seeking” infantilizes the person who’s hit with the label.”


“Happens All the Time”: What I Do When I’m Stopped By Police – Katrina Otuonye

“I’ve been telling these stories a lot lately — a series of slights that make up the fissures and bonds in a person’s character. I tell the stories so other people have a better idea of where I’m coming from; so they have a response when white voices chorus, “I don’t get it” or “What’s the big deal” or “Why is everyone so angry?” I also tell the stories for myself, to make better sense of them, to contemplate the world around me and how my life has changed. But I don’t want to constantly think of the worst-case scenario, and I don’t want to always have these stories. The responsibility of taking ownership of them is crushing me.

Injustice happens every day. Maybe it’s because it’s on the news more often now, because of Black Lives Matter, because people are engaged and interested, but whatever the reasons I feel like my stories — the ugly ones, the ones I’m not sure anyone wants to hear — are fighting their way out of me. Merely telling the stories has never been enough. It has not stopped my nightmares of attempting to wash hundreds of tiny pebbles from my mouth; of bruised and broken black men and women lining the streets while white people stand around and talk about what they did to deserve it; of the removal of lynching from our textbooks, old men erasing a hanging body from history so only a mob of half-disinterested faces remain, staring up at a coiled, empty noose. I wake up from these nightmares gasping for air.”


“Everything is problematic” – Aurora Dagny

“I used to endorse a particular brand of politics that is prevalent at McGill and in Montreal more widely. It is a fusion of a certain kind of anti-oppressive politics and a certain kind of radical leftist politics. This particular brand of politics begins with good intentions and noble causes, but metastasizes into a nightmare. In general, the activists involved are the nicest, most conscientious people you could hope to know. But at some point, they took a wrong turn, and their devotion to social justice led them down a dark path. Having been on both sides of the glass, I think I can bring some painful but necessary truth to light.”

Changing Minds:

How Two Grad Students Uncovered An Apparent Fraud — And A Way To Change Opinions On Transgender Rights – Christie Aschwanden and Maggie Koerth-Baker

The study used a common political science tool called a “feeling thermometer” to quantify emotions. Three days later, people who had experienced the L.A. LGBT Center’s persuasion technique showed an average 10-point increase relative to the control group in their positive feelings about transgender people, on a scale of 100. Three months later, that average 10-point increase in positive feelings persisted. For comparison, between 1998 and 2012, Americans’ positive feelings about gay and lesbian people increased by an average of 8.5 points. That change came about slowly, through a combination of cultural influence, explicit attempts at persuasion and implicit peer pressure. It’s considered to be one of the biggest success stories in the history of political persuasion, said Diana Mutz, director of the Institute for the Study of Citizens and Politics at the University of Pennsylvania. “It’s impressive that [Broockman and Kalla] were able to change minds in a short period of time and that it persisted,” she said.”

I Was a Men’s Rights Activist: One man’s journey from misogyny to feminism – Edwin Hodge

“I sought out other men who felt like me. This was in the Web 1.0, pre-social media days, so it was mostly chat rooms or poorly written proto-blogs on Angelfire, AOL and Geocities (all of them fueled by rage and fear). I read a little bit of The Myth of Male Power by Warren Farrell, and I adopted this rhetorical trick many men’s rights activists employ: “I’m not a feminist and I’m not a men’s rights activist,” I would say. “I’m an egalitarian.”

I didn’t encounter the term “men’s rights” until 2005, right before social media really took off. I’d Google “men’s oppression” or “anti-feminist” and find anything I was looking for on people’s Blogspot sites or in the comments on pre-Reddit sites like Fark. And, of course, 4chan. Every once in a while I’d stumble across MRAs advocating killing feminists, and I’d think to myself, That’s insane. But then I’d do what a lot of MRAs do: I’d say, “Those voices are on the fringe,” and argue they didn’t speak for the movement as a whole.”

Climate Change:

The New World: March 2016 Is the Sixth Temperature Record-Breaking Month in a Row – Phil Plait

“Most likely there is a confluence of events going on to produce this huge spike in temperature—latent heat in the Pacific waters, wind patterns distributing it, and more. And underlying it all, stoking the fire, is us. Humans. Climate scientists—experts who have devoted their lives to studying and understanding how this all works—agree to an extraordinary degree that humans are responsible for the heating of our planet.

That’s why we’re seeing so many records lately; El Niño might produce a spike, but that spike is sitting on top of an upward trend, the physical manifestation of human induced global warming, driven mostly by our dumping 40 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air every year.

Until our politicians recognize that this is a threat, and a very serious one, things are unlikely to change much. And the way I see it, the only way to get our politicians to recognize that is to change the politicians we have in office.”


The Really Big One – Kathryn Schulz

“Roughly three thousand people died in San Francisco’s 1906 earthquake. Almost two thousand died in Hurricane Katrina. Almost three hundred died in Hurricane Sandy. FEMA projects that nearly thirteen thousand people will die in the Cascadia earthquake and tsunami. Another twenty-seven thousand will be injured, and the agency expects that it will need to provide shelter for a million displaced people, and food and water for another two and a half million. “This is one time that I’m hoping all the science is wrong, and it won’t happen for another thousand years,” Murphy says.

In fact, the science is robust, and one of the chief scientists behind it is Chris Goldfinger. Thanks to work done by him and his colleagues, we now know that the odds of the big Cascadia earthquake happening in the next fifty years are roughly one in three. The odds of the very big one are roughly one in ten. Even those numbers do not fully reflect the danger—or, more to the point, how unprepared the Pacific Northwest is to face it. The truly worrisome figures in this story are these: Thirty years ago, no one knew that the Cascadia subduction zone had ever produced a major earthquake. Forty-five years ago, no one even knew it existed.”


Image Credit: andrey.skv

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