June 8, 2018

The 29%

Yesterday, the people of Ontario elected a new party to govern the province for the next four years.

There is going to be much said about the election, the results, and what it all means for the province in the next few days and weeks; as an impartial public servant, my thoughts about the future of governance in this province are irrelevant and unwelcome at this time.

I do, however, have something to share: my personal, non-professional, sentiment about what happened in my own neighborhood yesterday.

In my home riding, one of the candidates was actively and outwardly homophobic, misogynistic, Islamophobic, racist, anti-choice, and has advocated for hatred towards people who are different” from him. While that candidate did not win (thankfully), he did garner 29% of the vote in our riding.

What this tells me is that 29% of the people who live near me, 29% of my neighbors and community members, actively hate me and people like me.

It’s sobering to realize that almost a third of the people who live around you don’t believe you have the right to exist, or at least to have access to basic human decency. It has reframed my connection to my neighborhood, and made me rethink what it means for me to live here and invest so much time and effort into the community.

If I am not wanted by a significant chunk of people who live here, if almost a third of my neighbors don’t believe I deserve basic decency or have the right to be here, what is my responsibility to those same people, to this city as a whole?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but here is another question I will now ask myself every single time I pass someone on the sidewalk: do you hate me? Are you a part of the 29% that wants me gone, that doesn’t think I deserve to exist?

It is terrible to feel uncomfortable and unwanted in your own neighborhood, in your own community. This discomfort, this exclusion, is something that will plague me every single day, thanks to the 29%.

A few things to read and explore:

A convincing argument that our devices, algorithms, and gadgets are the effects, not the causes of our social ills:

In order for something to count, it must be counted. Measurement is the order of the day. We live, as Google executives might say, in a democracy of clicks.

The NFLs denial of black humanity is the main reason I’ve decided to stop watching and following football—my favorite sport, yet one I’ve grown increasingly wary of in the past few years—this year and from now on:

Kaepernick and others were protesting the unjustified, yet seemingly normalized, killings of Black people in this country. In this light, Kaepernick’s protests represented a radical Black politics that sought to reveal the systemic anti-Blackness of this country and its investment in the dehumanization of Black peoples. By introducing a policy that censors Black radical politics and penalizes athletes for denouncing the foundational anti-Blackness of the United States, the NFL is, in effect, denying the humanity of Black people in this country.

Spot on:

One of the reasons Queer Eye feels like comfort food is that it clips the heels of complicated topics without sitting with them for too long. Is this problematic? Sure. Do I enjoy Queer Eye any less for it? Fuck no.

As an avid lover of the postal service and it’s history, I’ve long been interested in the idea of postal banking and how it can make the banking system more equitable. The recent Ezra Klein podcast episode with Mehrsa Baradaran has a great discussion on the subject. Worth a listen.

One of the smartest decisions I ever made was to force myself to take a real lunch break every single work day, away from my desk, and enjoying a proper meal. Once in a while (once a fortnight, perhaps?) I also enjoy a nice glass of wine or a cocktail with my meal, and it makes the day so much better.

Alexis Madrigal ruminates on why no one answers their phone anymore, and I think it really comes down to this: synchronous communication is fraught with peril—not knowing what to expect, not having time to react, not trusting who will be on the other side—so we’ve all shifted to methods that are asynchronous.

When you called someone, if the person was there, they would pick up, they would say hello. If someone called you, if you were there, you would pick up, you would say hello. That was just how phones worked. The expectation of pickup was what made phones a synchronous medium.

A fun, and critical, rebranding of anthro textbooks:

Why is there always images of exotic” peoples on the cover of anthropology textbooks? Why can’t there be images of, for example, a group of white American women eating salads, on the cover?

Rebranding Anthropology Textbooks Rebranding Anthropology Textbooks

As someone who has canceled” a handful of people in life over the last few years, I love this piece by Anne T. Donahue on people who are dead to her:

Cancelling with abandon is often construed as a bad thing—but we don’t talk about how self-preserving it can be. We don’t sing the praises of how doing so teaches us to evolve and to protect ourselves by putting up boundaries we didn’t know we needed before. To cut someone off isn’t to wash your hands of power, it’s a means of asserting it when you feel like you have nothing left. It’s you recognizing that someone is leeching off you is disrupting your well-being. It’s you saying, No thanks.” To cancel is to rebuild your power source.

The ability to travel, and to have the papers necessary to travel, is something I often take for granted. I need to check myself for that privilege more often:

Casablanca reminds us that the identification papers we carry were created not to give us freedom but rather to curtail it. The right to mobility is granted not by the individual but by the state, and access to that right is dictated largely along class lines. The poor, unwanted abroad and unable to pay for the required visas, transit costs, and even basic documentation, stay trapped, while the rich can come and go as they please.

Anyone who is a fan of brutalist architecture will be smitten by these cuckoo clocks by Guido Zimmermann:

Cuckoo Blocks

Everyone is talking about this article detailing how Anna Delvey scammed celebrities, socialites, and financiers in New York for years, and rightfully so: it’s a spellbinding and captivating piece.

Important to remember: don’t link to the line-stepper.

To be a good critic, you must stay curious and look for ways to make things better.

A few beautiful passages from Claire Vaye Watkins’ reflection on being naked in Death Valley:

How rarely we let pleasure lead the way. Usually our bodies are molded by various structures, tight waistbands, bras, shoes. How often we let some wire dig into us, and for what? If it’s buoyancy you’re after, come to the hot springs, float free, for once, and do it daily. Let your bigness rise in brackish water. […]

Naked bodies have stories writ on them in sun and scars.

What stories are written on your body? When was the last time you reflected upon them, appreciated them?

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