I’ve Moved.

It turns out WordPress isn’t really the interface for me. I’m much more familiar with Tumblr, so I’m moving there. Here’s my new URL if you’re interested in following me.

My WordPress stuff will still be around for you to check out, just know that I will be active on Tumblr now–not WordPress.

Thanks for sticking with me!

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Climate Change: It’s a Thing. (Part 1 of 3)

CLAIM: Climate change/global warming isn’t happening. Wrong. Climate change is happening, and it’s backed up by vast volumes of scientific evidence from all branches of science. This graph is a helpful visual representation of temperature trends for the last 140-odd years. The climate is definitely warming. Not only that, 2000-2009 was the hottest decade on record. And 1990-1999 was the hottest decade before that, and 1980-1989 the hottest decade before that. It’s happening. Of course, you could theoretically pick a starting and end point on the graph–say, between 1980 and 1990–and claim that temperatures actually are dropping. You could totally do that–but not only would you be flat-out wrong, you’d be manipulating the facts to suit your own conclusions. Looking at the bigger picture, and considering all the data points, shows that global temperatures are rising at an alarming rate. The Daily Mail ran an article a while back claiming that the world was cooling, backed by the dubious evidence of Arctic sea ice levels rising from 2012 to 2013. Climate “skeptics” have been parading this article around like the Gospel of truth, but the fact is that this article is based on flimsy reasoning and a misrepresentation of data. Yes, the extent of sea ice rose in 2013 when compared to 2012. But that’s because 2012 was the worst year for Arctic sea ice extent on record.

Source: nsidc.org

You can’t predict trends to span decades and centuries by extrapolating from changes that occurred over one year. It’s like staring at five pixels on a screen and announcing with utter certainty that it’s definitely a replica of the Mona Lisa. That’s not a sound or reasonable conclusion to make unless you can zoom out and see the entire picture. In this case, zooming out to see the entire picture will show you that the opposite is true: with some fluctuation, sea ice extent in the Arctic has been steadily declining. Evidence backing the existence of global warming is hardly reserved to climatologists, either. Carbon is measurable, and scientific evidence shows that in places where carbon can accumulate, it has–in unprecedented amounts. For example, carbon dioxide dissolves in oceans to form carbonic acid; in turn, this acid has been steadily lowering the pH of oceans, making them more acidic.

A visual representation of how ocean acidification came to be.

Because the oceans are the second-largest receptacles of carbon (dioxide), measuring their content in the water is a great way to estimate the volume of atmospheric CO2.  Incidentally, this is the same carbon dioxide that’s building up in the atmosphere, causing temperatures to rise. Aside from the obvious negative effect of temperatures rising above what oceanic ecosystems might be able to tolerate, the increased acidity of the water means that more and more shellfish will suffer from deformed shells, or worse, no shells at all. The decline of shellfish, especially plankton, in the oceans will seriously affect oceanic biodiversity and our own livelihoods.

Increasing global temperatures are a mixed blessing. For the past 50 years, rising global temperatures have contributed to rising crop yields, but now that trend is going to change. Global heat waves, now rising in frequency and intensity, threaten to diminish crop yields and exacerbate the already-awful global food crisis.

Finally, evidence of global warming is also apparent in the movement patterns of migratory patterns. As we all know, certain species go south in the winter to escape the cold and north in the summer to escape the heat–Monarch butterflies, for example, some whales, and some birds. In recent years, however, it’s been observed that migratory animals are ranging further north to escape the heat, and much more quickly than anticipated. In fact, species are ranging as far north as 11 km every year to escape warmer weather. Here’s a graph showing the northward movement of birds over 40-some years.

The same thing is happening to tree ranges and butterfly migrations. Temperatures are rising and pushing animals further north, but that’s not the only issue. Soon, these animals won’t be able to go any further north. As the seasons fail to suit their requirements, or as they fail to adapt so quickly to the changes, they will probably decline and maybe even go extinct.

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Some Words on “Happy Holidays” and Political Correctness

It’s that time of year again, you guys, when the Christmas lights go up, children carol in the streets, and Bill O’Reilly bitches about the “War on Christmas”. According to the acclaimed FOX News, “the right to celebrate Christmas is under attack“. Among plenty of other things, like the unspeakable atrocity that is Jewish people celebrating Hanukkah and the general aversion to putting Christmas trees in public schools, (note: the Holiday Tree,) this “War on Christmas” appears to have a lot to do with the fact that you’re supposed to say “Happy Holidays” these days instead of “Merry Christmas”.

On a slightly more sane battleground, the debate over “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” is one largely grounded in political correctness (and maybe some religious dogma). Basically, the argument is: Why should we go out of our way to tiptoe around other people? We’ve always said “Merry Christmas”, and if anyone’s offended/gets uncomfortable, that’s their problem.

Now, I know that it’s the holidays and this is a jolly season and everyone needs to just lighten up already, but I find this line of thought to be extremely problematic for several reasons. First, the general timeframe where Christmas is celebrated is also the timeframe where other cultures also observe their own holidays–Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and the recently established secular Human Light, to name a few. Just because a majority of Americans celebrate Christmas doesn’t make these other holidays unimportant–and, as I would always inform those who despair at the war on Christianity in America, freedom of religion was meant to protect the minority, not the majority. Because the holiday season encompasses so many different holidays from so many different cultures, using the inclusive “Happy Holidays” and framing the holiday season in terms of all holidays celebrated during that time isn’t bullshit political correctness. It’s a matter of common decency and acknowledging that different people celebrate different holidays, all of which deserve to be respected.

The second reason why I find this line of thought so problematic is that it’s honestly not that hard to greet people with “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas”. Certainly, if you know someone celebrates Christmas, feel free to continue using the latter. But when you’re not sure about that? It’s really not that hard to add one more phrase to your general vocabulary and use it out of courtesy to others. Saying “Happy Holidays” does not mean you have to refer to the tree in your living room as a “holiday tree”. It does not mean you have to put a menorah next to your stockings or stop indulging Santa to your kids. It just means that you acknowledge the breadth of cultures celebrated around the holiday season and that you’re choosing to be inclusive. As Paul Raushenbush wrote in The Huffington Post,

If you don’t know the spiritual tradition of a co-worker, friend, or stranger in the elevator but wish to offer them a ‘Season’s greeting’ — a simple ‘Happy Holiday’ is not at all an insult or a denigration of Christmas, or any other tradition. It is an appropriate and inclusive salutation that recognizes that there are many ways that people are observing the season and you don’t know enough to be specific.

That is not too much to ask by any stretch of the imagination.

The third reason why this line of thought is problematic is because deciding to dismiss someone else’s concerns out of deference to “how we’ve always done things” is the root cause of all oppression. I’m giving Hank Green the floor to explain this:

In case you don’t have time to watch the whole thing, here’s the most important part of the video:

Traditions are important, but they’re only relevant as long as they uphold the dignity of all people. This assumption that Christmas is the default winter holiday may seem harmless on paper, but put yourself in someone else’s shoes. If Christmas is considered the norm, and you celebrate Hanukkah, you’re basically being told by the mainstream that your holiday isn’t as important. Nailing up “Merry Christmas” when you’re vaguely aware that other holidays do exist is a subtle invalidation of those holidays, as well as the right of those cultures to celebrate those holidays without fear of being looked down upon. In that same vein, choosing not to adopt “Happy Holidays” with strangers because “Merry Christmas” is easier may not be inherently malicious, but it does contribute to a culture of exclusion that, in the past, people have been all too happy ignoring and upholding. Just because you mean well does not mean your actions do not result in hurt. Intentions don’t matter as much as consequences.

Why is this becoming an argument now? Why are people so offended now when they weren’t before? Are they…looking for things to be offended by? I don’t think so. Maybe it’s that people have always been offended, but for the first time, thanks to social media and globalization, they finally have a forum where they can express their grievances–and people will listen. That’s an indication that we’re finally making progress, by the way. “This was never a problem before” is evidence, in my eyes, that it has been a problem before, just that you didn’t have to listen. Well, guess what? Now you do. Christmas-centrism is rightly over. It’s not about political correctness, it’s about affording different people the acknowledgement and consideration they deserve. It’s time for us to recognize who the holiday season is really for: everyone

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Sir Patrick Stewart: Shakespearean actor, feminist ally.

I always knew Patrick Stewart was the best guy.

Last year Patrick Stewart wrote an article in The Guardian recounting growing up in with an abusive father and the necessity for everyone to hold abusive spouses/parents accountable. It is a really moving piece, and he has a certain aptitude with language that makes the whole story seem triumphant even if it is ultimately tragic.

Videos after the break.

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The Truth About Climate Change

In scientific terms, the debate about climate change is over. With 97% of published climate scientists affirming the belief that climate change is not only happening but also caused by humans, it’s indisputable that the scientific community has come to a consensus. More than that, it’s becoming increasingly clear that climate change left unchecked will have decidedly negative consequences.

And yet on the public floor, climate change is a political statement, a statement that can still be challenged. To a discouragingly large portion of the public, climate change is not only not human-caused, it’s a hoax and not worth acting on. 

The climate change “skeptic” movement has three main tenets:

  1. Climate change is not happening for one reason or the next.
  2. If it is happening, it’s for natural reasons, not because of human activity.
  3. The scientists who perpetuate the idea of climate change are actually profiteering liars.

And guess what? It’s bullshit, all of it.

In this three-part series, my goal is to deconstruct each of these false assumptions and replace them with facts. They will be linked here as they come.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

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We Don’t Live in Imaginationland

Or, you can’t will societal problems out of existence.

Here’s something you’ve probably seen before. It’s a pretty popular exchange between Morgan Freeman and some guy about Black History Month. I agree with everything, right up until the last bit:

“Morgan Freeman”, it says, like he’s God or something.

Now, Morgan Freeman drives home a very salient point: Black history is American history and it’s inane to treat it as anything else. But his solution to get rid of racism is to “stop talking about it”, and I find that problematic for a bevy of reasons. The final few seconds of the video I linked illustrate Freeman’s actual point: that drawing racial distinctions between people and using it to define them just makes racism worse, no matter how pure your intentions. But notice that the picture doesn’t reflect that. The excerpt ends at “Stop talking about [racism]”, because that is what many people–namely, people who aren’t affected by racism–want so badly to do.

The reason why I think this is such a popular solution to societal issues–in this case, racism–is because when you’re not affected directly by racism, it’s very easy to pretend that it doesn’t exist, that it’s just a marginalized view expressed by a couple of Confederate nostalgics that will one day die off and rid us of this pestilence. I’m an upper-middle class Chinese girl who lives in southern California. You have no idea how easy it was for me to go through elementary, middle, and part of high school believing that racism had been solved–and most of my peers felt the same way…except, unsurprisingly, for those of us who belonged to marginalized groups. In my sheltered bubble where everyone was financially privileged, white, or both, it was all too easy to think that racism was a relic of a bygone era. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. Racism is still a thing, and it’s not as in-your-face as Jim Crow anymore. Hell yeah we have to talk about it.

We have to talk about racism because the causes and manifestations of racism in America are often now de facto than they are de jure. In other words, racism is not perpetuated so often by actual laws as it is by accepted societal mannerisms (and even now, we still have states wanting to implement voter ID laws, poll taxes, and gerrymandering their districts until they’re lily white). Chances are, if you’re like me, you were brought up not with outright disgust and fear of black people, but with a mild distaste and distrust in them. It wasn’t something that was explicitly taught to me, either; it was just that for the majority of my childhood, nearly everyone I hung around was white–and so that became subtly ingrained in the way I viewed people. I’m still trying to kick that to this day. And it gets worse. Did you know that there are still people out there who think that blackface is acceptable for a Halloween costume? Anyone with a remote knowledge of American racial history ought to realize that no, that is not by any means okay at all–like, wasn’t blackface the comedic device people invented specifically to parody and dehumanize black people? Yeah, let’s totally just dress up as Suzanne from Orange is the New Black and Gandhi even though we’re lily white because using makeup to make yourself look like a different race is totally okay, right? No. And we have to talk about that, because people might not know that. How about racially charged Halloween costumes, period? Here’s Chris Brown dressed up as a “terrorist”:

Haha, get it? Because terrorists are Arab? Let’s just put this turban together with this bullet sash and pretend that ordinary Muslims in America aren’t terrorized every day by people who can’t make the distinction between “extremist Muslim” and “the other 99.9% of Muslims and/or vaguely Middle Eastern-looking people”. Hey, remember that time when a couple of guys shot up a Sikh temple because they thought it was housing terrorists? Even though Sikh is only related to Islam by like, the wildest leaps of logic imaginable?

Oh, and how many of you have heard of the natural hair movement? Did you know that it’s still looked down upon for African American women and men to wear their hair in non-Western styles? This is pretty obvious if you do a Google search of Kerry Washington. Notice how all of her hairstyles are Western approved, even though her natural hair probably looks more like what she looked like in Django Unchained? (Sorry for having to mention that racist train wreck of a movie.)  And you can’t just explain it away as “Hollywood is an asshole”. No, this prejudice exists everywhere. Tiana Parker was sent home from school because her dreadlocks were not “presentable”, and she has since switched schools. She was seven. Seven. Imagine being told at that age that your hairstyle of choice, the one that was best suited to the way your hair grew out of your head, was not okay. Feel shitty yet?

Does anyone else find something kind of fucked up about the fact that wearing your hair in the way that it grew out of your head is seen as unprofessional and unpresentable for a certain group of people? I mean…come on. Come the fuck on. And yet, most people probably didn’t realize this until I pointed it out. Another reason why we have to talk about racism.

How about this? You know how people still debate the usage of the n-word so much? At least in that context, we acknowledge on some level that using it, throwing it around, etc. is not okay. Because we’re talking about it, we’re keeping it real and acknowledging that tossing the n-word around in normal conversation can be really offensive. Not so with the word “gypsy”.

Seems so innocuous, right? I mean, we use the word “gypsy” to describe people who look like this:

Hell, Pacific Rim even named a Jaeger the Gipsy Danger:

Well, hold your horses there. Did you know that “gypsy” is a derogatory term for those nomadic peoples? The correct term (and the one Romani lobbyists would insist you use) is Romani. “Gypsy” was a word created by other peoples to dehumanize and label them as dirty, thieving delinquents. Hell, “gypped” is a word in English vocabulary that means “cheat or swindle”. And guess what? We’ve so normalized and accepted the use of this racist slur that we named a giant robot “Gipsy Danger” in a film that, by all accounts, was really progressive in terms of representing non-white characters leading the story! We toss this term around and are legitimately shell-shocked when we realize that it’s a hurtful, racist slur! And you know what? We need to talk about that!

In short: “stop talking about it” is a lazy solution to racism concocted by people who are not affected by it, derive privilege from it, and feel uncomfortable having to question their daily habits and being aware of whether or not their actions are insensitive or offensive. And you know what? Fuck comfort. These are painful conversations, but we have to have them. You can’t just will societal problems out of existence. Societal problems become societal problems because people start to see them as accepted norms, not things that need to be solved. That’s why it’s still so hard to uproot sexism, classism, racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia–you name it. Because most people are unaware of how these things manifest, it’s nigh impossible to have an enlightened conversation on them and figure out as a society how to solve them.

And that’s just not okay.

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What Makes A Slut

I’ve been around the block a few times (seventeen, to be exact) so one might say that I’m so very life-experienced. At the very least, I’ve been on more comment threads and forums than I really want to remember. And if there’s one word I know better than I know “like”, it’s probably “slut”.

Wow. “Slut” must be a pretty powerful word–or, at least, a pretty ubiquitous title–otherwise we wouldn’t use it so much, right? So what makes someone a slut?

Well, if you’re showing too much cleavage in a cosplay, you’re a slut…

Comments: Who would be intimidated by a slut like her?

…but not if you’re Jessica Nigri.

Comments: This is the best pic ever! Keep being awesome! 🙂

If you’re showing a little leg at a graduation ceremony, you’re a slut, too.

It’s bad enough that she’s getting an education.

If you pass out at a party and get gang-raped by a few teenage boys, you’re a slut, too, and it’s your motherfucking fault.

Yeah, and that's what you deserve, you cum-munching whore.

Yeah, and that’s what you deserve, you cum-munching whore.

If you thought your husband was dead and turned to his friend for comfort and support, you’re a dirty, friendship-ruining slut. 

How dare she be emotionally traumatized by her husband’s death? The world just went to shit. She has to man up like everyone else.

If you’ve been labeled by the general public as an effeminate fag, you’re a slut, too.

You can’t fool us, Justin. Everyone knows it’s really Justine.

And if you’re singing into a mic and the camera catches you at an awkward angle, you’re also a slut.

You can’t fool me with that microphone, bitch.

If you’re a Georgetown law student who testifies before Congress about why women need reproductive healthcare, including birth control and treatment for stuff like ectopic pregnancies and ovarian cysts, you’re a slut, too.

Next she’ll be telling us that condoms lower the frequency of abortions! Ha!

If you’re a Pakistani girl who was shot in the face by the Taliban for advocating education for girls, you’re also a dirty, bitchy slut. 

Even if you dress like this:

Oh my God, her forearms are showing. How will I explain this to my children?

Basically, if you have ovaries, you’re just a dirty slut.

So, what makes a slut? Anything, apparently.

Is it time we started asking ourselves if “slut” has become a meaningless label?

Posted in Gender Stuff, Life Stuff | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments