Could you quit working full-time?


"Life is too short for a full-time job," writes Mohit Satyanand. "Time unwatched is its own treasure, gracious host to conversations that drift and swoop, afternoons that stretch into evenings, dinners that slur into a last coffee." Good if you can hack it, I suppose. Read the rest

Cognition, categories and oppression

Our minds naturally group things in culturally specific categories -- for Americans, robins are more "bird" than albatrosses -- and we're better at categorizing more prototypical items than outliers -- but what does this mean when we group humans in categories like "real Americans"? Read the rest

HOWTO commit reverse racism

Lachlan writes, "My friend Aamer Rahman is an Australian comedian, one half of the duo Fear of a Brown Planet who makes race, religion and capitalism a central part of his comedy. Here he is, looking like Malcolm X, with a fantastic rant on reverse racism in his comedy."

Aamer Rahman (Fear of a Brown Planet) - Reverse Racism (Thanks, Lachlan!) Read the rest

HOWTO improve your startup's chances

Anil Dash has got ten dynamite top tips for people hoping to run a successful startup, based on his wide experience:

1. Be raised with access to clean drinking water and sanitation. (Every tech billionaire I've ever spoken to has a toilet!)

2. Try to be born in a region that is politically and militarily stable.

3. Grow up with a family that is as steady and secure as possible.

4. Have access to at least a basic free education in core subjects.

5 Avoid being abused by family members, loved ones, friends or acquaintances during the formative years of your life.

The other five are just as great!

Ten Tips Guaranteed to Improve Your Startup Success Read the rest

Literacy privilege, or, why grammar nazis are dicks

Chandra, a "recovering grammar snob" who works as an English teacher, has a smashing trio of essays on Literacy Privilege -- the invisible privilege that accrues to people who have the facility to write well and clearly, and who have absorbed the "correct" conventions of English. I know I've been guilty of dismissing people because of their grammar/spelling errors (I'm sure I'll make several in this post, BTW, thanks to Muphry's Law), and I've also posted regrettable grammar-mockery in place of rebuttal at times. Even when I was doing it, I knew that it wasn't quite fair or rigorous but Chandra's critique is a good frame for understanding precisely what's wrong with the practice.

One important issue that Chandra doesn't touch on in her essays is the way that this works in languages where an official academy defines formal correctness -- French and German, for example. English is very much up for grabs, thanks to the absence of any final authority over its rules. In other cases, there is a technically correct way of doing things, and an incorrect way -- presumably, this exacerbates the problem.

Literacy Privilege Checklist:

I can easily and safely navigate my way around the city I live in because I understand all of the posted signs, warnings and notifications.* I can make healthy and informed choices about the products I purchase because I can accurately read their labels and price tags.* I can safely use pharmaceuticals prescribed to me without having to remember the doctor’s or pharmacist’s instructions because I can accurately read their labels.* When required to visit doctors, hospitals, government agencies, banks, or legal offices, I do not have to invent excuses to bring paperwork home so that someone else can read it to me.

Read the rest

Nasty men's rights ad banned

Britain's Advertising Standards Authority has upheld complaints leveled against a men's rights group's controversial ad campaign.

Fathers4Justice's ad depicted a crying baby, his body emblazoned with perjoratives such as "pig" and "rapist", with text attacking Mumsnet, a popular online hangout for mothers of young children. According to Fathers4Justice, Mumsnet presided over an anti-male hate campaign as objectionable as homophobia and racism. Read the rest

Unpacking privilege: straight white male is the lowest difficulty setting in the game of life

John Scalzi attempts to explain privilege using a video-game metaphor in "Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is." It's a good metaphor in that is illuminates more than it obscures (the litmus test for metaphors).

Okay: In the role playing game known as The Real World, “Straight White Male” is the lowest difficulty setting there is.

This means that the default behaviors for almost all the non-player characters in the game are easier on you than they would be otherwise. The default barriers for completions of quests are lower. Your leveling-up thresholds come more quickly. You automatically gain entry to some parts of the map that others have to work for. The game is easier to play, automatically, and when you need help, by default it’s easier to get.

Now, once you’ve selected the “Straight White Male” difficulty setting, you still have to create a character, and how many points you get to start — and how they are apportioned — will make a difference. Initially the computer will tell you how many points you get and how they are divided up. If you start with 25 points, and your dump stat is wealth, well, then you may be kind of screwed. If you start with 250 points and your dump stat is charisma, well, then you’re probably fine. Be aware the computer makes it difficult to start with more than 30 points; people on higher difficulty settings generally start with even fewer than that.

As the game progresses, your goal is to gain points, apportion them wisely, and level up.

Read the rest