I remember being in college and spending a lot of time doing/listening to debates about various -isms and inequality. (hint: we were against it). What is weird is, the teachers didn't give us the conceptual tools to discuss it productively.
For instance: any time there's a case of social inequality (the haves always do The Thing, and the have-nots don't get to do The Thing), there's actually TWO ways to remedy the situation. One: make the haves STOP doing the thing, and two: allow the have-nots TO start all doing the thing.
Both approaches result in equality, but through two totally opposite paths. And yet – as far as I can tell – for hundreds of years that people have been debating inequality, NO ONE HAS NOTICED THIS. You get idealistic people who will use every last bit of logic and passion and carefully-thought-out ideals (Jeffersonian republicanism! Pluralism! Transparency!) and spend a fucking hour advocating that we should make the haves STOP doing The Thing. . . . all based on a snap judgement that took a tenth of a second. Why should we make the haves STOP doing the thing? Why not allow everyone to ALL do the thing? You didn't even consider that for a whole second. . . .did you? Because, against all logic, BOTH FUCKING TOTALLY OPPOSITE approaches to justice are taught to you as THE EXACT SAME THING.
We're taught NOT to ask ourselves, "Which TYPE of equality should I advocate to remedy such-and-such an injustice?"
So, OK! Let me help the problem.
Let's call the "make the haves STOP doing the thing" approach LEVELING UP, and call the "let the have-nots ALL be able to do the thing" approach LEVELING DOWN.
Some instances are easy as shit: the overwhelming majority of domestic violence is done by men. You don't have to think too long to realize this is a LEVELING DOWN scenario: Men should STOP doing the thing.
Other instances are fairly easy: most senators are white, so most people would say that people of color should LEVEL UP. Unless you're an anarchist and think that NOBODY should have state authority, in which case you'd be all for LEVELING DOWN.
Then, a favorite of mine: farts. Men fart and burp, women don't. Are crude noises a form of oppressive male domination? Or are they a fundamental right which women have historically been forbidden to do by restrictive gender roles? In other words , should we get equality by LEVELING UP OR BY LEVELING DOWN?!?
Without these two concepts, you can't even begin to have that discussion!
Or song lyrics: a lot of rappers talk about killing young black men. Would the world be a better place if britney and lady gaga mostly sang about murdering white women? After all, that is more equal. And much much better.
Or this other thing, which I'm also surprised that no one has remarked upon: the american police / national security state's radical EQUALIZATION and ELIMINATION of racism. This is the single most equality-making development in government since King marched at Selma, and yet nobody even says thank you?!?? Consider this: government now treats upper-middle-class white people like Black Panthers: reading their mail, tapping their phone, strip-searches at airports without cause, "civil forfiture" of possessions without even an arrest, and "indefinite detention" without trial. Still waiting for a rapper to make fun of Occupy kids: "How's it feel, whitey? Oh, NOWWWW it's unfair, right, since it's happening to you! Welcome to the club, white kid."
Anyway, does treating whites as crappy as black people count as leveling up or leveling down?4 comments
It's great that Boing-boing could take time away from their busy Pedo-bear-shirt-selling schedule to rail against misogyny.
I'm looking forward to hearing the Boingers explain in their upcoming TED talk, which I believe is titled: "rape is never funny . . . unless it's children . . . . and I make ad revenue."
The comments on this article are just PRECIOUS:
Dear Madam! I was deeply offended that you would point out sometimes bicyclists hit pedestrians. How dare you attempt to hold us accountable for anything when cars kill SO MANY MORE PEOPLE??? Don't you realize we can't even have this discussion until after every motor vehicle has been wiped off the face of the earth? Until then, I will deny that cyclists ever do anything bad and exhibit no sympathy for people we hit.
Also, I was deeply hurt by your portrayal of cyclists as self-righteous and lacking in self-awareness.
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I don’t know about your country, but in America, it’s impossible to have a rational discussion about unions. Conservatives hate them all, and lefties fall into one of two types: a) academics who like unions in theory because they “stick it to corporations” (but have no real-world experience dealing with unions’ bullshit), and b) union members who have no incentive to snitch on union corruption.
America is so dummin’! On the left, you can find reports decrying mis-treatment of military or corporate whistle-blowers. And, while there’s not a lot of exposure of corporate or government wrongdoing, you can find it if you look. Unions don’t have a tenth of the money or political clout of giant military-industrial corps, AND YET you CAN’T find whistle-blowing on THEM. Fucking weird, man.
You can’t find anyone who says, “OK, this industry’s union is pretty good, but that union over there is a bunch of – as Zappa said – flakesssssssssssssss.”
Union corruption isn’t just mob involvement. There’s other kinds:
You work in an office and need to fix a jam in a printer (or plug in a new computer). But you’re not allowed to do it yourself, you have to call the official union Maintainance Guy. Not only that but you have to fill out a request form in triplicate, and then wait 3 hours for the Maintanance Guy to show up and plug in your PC or fix your paper jam and charge you $20 for it. If you do it yourself for free in 3 seconds, the whole union goes on strike. Things like that are bad for efficiency.
Like the guy that gets paid $100,000 to sit in the boiler room and make sure the boiler don’t explode. Like probably he checks it 2 times a day and spends the rest of the time doing ebay to make even more money.
BEING DICKS TO THEIR OWN PEOPLE
Or, some unions are cool to new members, but other unions are assholes about seniority: giving all the perks to old timers even if the old-timers are total burn-outs or fart-knockers, and screwing new guys/gals who bring a lot more energy and new ideas to the job. Again, the degree of welcome extended to newcomers is vastly different from union to union, but you’d never know it by listening to the “unions are all good”/ “Unions are all bad” pundits.
COLLUDING WITH MANAGEMENT
The degree to which union bosses represent their rank-and-file or just represent themselves. AKA are the union officials respected by the workers? AKA The degree to which bosses are willing to fight the employers. Hmm, maybe that should be two different categories? I mean you could go by a popularity contest: have the union members vote on how much they liked union bosses, but probably the most corrupt unions would wind up with the most popular rankings!
RECRUITING VS. FUCKING WITH NON-UNION LABOR
some unions go out of their way to fuck with non-unionized labor all “We don’t WANT more workers in our unions because they’ll depress wages. Get the fuck out of here!”, and other unions try to RECRUIT the non-unionized labor and HELP them.
KNOW WHAT I WOULD LIKE????
A fucking graph! A line, a continuum of all the major unions by industry, from most corrupt to most sincerely trying to help the rank-and-file.
This would mean taking all the metrics I detailed above (mob involvement, standing up to management, wasting efficiency, wasting money, seniority issues, and non-union labor outreach) and making some kind of math equation that would add them all up and generate a single number that would place them somewhere on the line.
Since all these things are deliberately secret and off-the-books, any attempt at a ranking them would, of course, involve some guessing, un-named sources, and arbitrary opinions about how to weight the various variables of the equation. But so what? respectable newspapers and NGOs use these kind of “best guess” rankings all the time! From things like GNP to national corruption index, state transparency index, quality of life rankings, etc. . . there’s nothing new about “best guess” rankings. The only new thing would be to get one for unions.
Unfortunately, since this doesn’t suit the interests of the American right OR the American left, it will never happen.
In other countries, is there something like this?
The race to space! (aka the race to have LRBMs). Back in the ‘50s, when Russia launched sputnik (demonstrating it had the technology to lob a fucking nuke missile at us from across the ocean), science and smarts became an immediate matter of national survival. It’s difficult to imagine, but it used to be the most right-wing, General Jack D. Ripper type Crusty anti-commies that were pushing the HARDEST for more education. Smart kids were seen as vital for national defense. WWII vets got the GI bill to repay them for being good warriors. If a modern right-winger went back in time to the ‘50s and started talking about reducing teacher salaries and sending all the kids off to private religious schools to learn about Jesus, they would be laughed out of the fucking Republican party, if not called a Commie agent!
SCHOOL REFORM WITHOUT CURRICULUM REFORM?!?
let's start this off modestly:
THE WATCHES ON MY ARM
This is a page-by-page review of all the watches dude owns. Not like the best watches. Just ones he owns. The dude is defiantly analog: writing about wind-up watches in a zine format.
POSTAL GUIDE VOL. 7
I didn't post any scans of the inside, because this is basically a guide to filling out post-office forms. Written not by the post office, but a post office customer/obsessive maniac.
I asked him why HE was doing it (instead of the post office itself) and he just looked at me, as if this should be self-evident.
Also: just like with the watch zine, there is something defiantly old-school about this. . . considering the USA post office is now considered obsolete and about to shut down!
THE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO TIC-TACS FROM AROUND THE WORLD
(at the bottom it adds: A MEMBER OF THE "TABLET FIELD GUIDE CREATORS" ASSOCIATION) which should give you some idea.
The scan shows tic-tacs of latin america and africa.
Each box is analyzed for the following criteria:
country of mexico
type of label (adhesive, etc.) (IS there even more than one type of label?!?!)
"There's more than I thought around here! I suppose South America wants some too!"
ACADEMIC JOURNAL #23
This zine is thick- almost a pound! And consists mostly of reviews of the most eccentric or absurd books (fiction and non-) from around the world. Like a freak-show of books.
For example, here are some article titles:
"katakana foreign words I learned from anime"
"the author of this book is spiritually deluded!!"
"a book about animals trained to fight wars"
"I want to explain to fictional characters what their nuroses are"
"funny new subculture words in Japanese Wikipedia"
"a book which is a fictional interview with barrack obama from america"
"a new manga which is entirely about anti-korean sentiments"
But the main article in this book is not about literature at all. The main article is an analysis of the physics and math involved in making 3d-animated boobs bounce realistically.
This is the creation of a gentleman who is 1) obssessed with Eames furniture, and 2) interested to see what each Eames chair would look like as a moe girl.
The term for "anthropomorphism" in Japanese is 擬人化 (gijinka).
BLUE OCEAN SOMETHING SOMETHING
The same idea as the previous 'zine, but substitute "deep-sea life-forms" for "eames furniture."
Is this a great country or what?!?!?
AN ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO SURGERY AND THERAPY OF THE HEISEI (the current era) ERA
Here , a cartoon panda teaches you how to do surgery. Just like the Post Office book, this is not written by any official institution.
Below: the panda is dressed like Michael Jackson while teaching you different suture knots.
below: a rabbit helps the panda put on his/her surgical scrubs.
A GUIDE TO SEPARATING YOUR GARBAGE INTO RECYLABLE AND NON-RECYCLABLE, FOR OTAKU, MANGA, AND EROTIC PEOPLE.
A guide for specifially otaku items: your PC, your porno magazines, and (in a nice touch) your old comic market merchandise!
But the best part is this:
. . . how to break down your old pocket pussy to recycle it.
Also: the zine is printed on news-print. Kudos.
Another "ranking" zine, but this one is more tongue-in-cheek. The "categories" are different for each pen. For instance:
PROBABILITY THAT THE DESIGNER IS A FAN OF GANDAM W: *****
PROBABLITY THAT HE'S A HERO FAN: *****
THAT HE'S WORRIED ABOUT GANDAM 00: *****
the rest of the text:
You know how when a comedian you like debuts a new joke that you find un-funny, but you instantly adapt to it because you like the comedian?
This pen is not like that.
This pen combines the instant-transformation beloved by gundam fans with principles of ergonomics, and. . . .
Oh, forget it.
I'm sure there are lots and lots of reasons why it looks the way it does, but the fact is. . .
IT IS UNCOMFORTABLE TO USE!!!
I suppose that pens, like everything else which evolves, must have some false-starts in their evolution!
Mokonika's four-kanji expressions
This book is a really nice idea: they take four-kanji idioms (yonjijukugo) and not only personify them as cute girls, but they do a little manga that shows the girl doing the thing.
The opposite page has her statistics as if she's a game character. Also the book's cover is designed to look like a elementary school-kid's kanji workbook.
NAME: ACCOU ZOUGON
SPECIAL ABILITY: every time she opens her mouth, bad things come out.
PERSONALITY: For her own benefit, or to shame others, she delights in putting on a magnificent display of abuse and scorn. If you see someone talking irresponsibly, making sure they aren't caught by the target, backstabbing, or spreading malice without ever making a mistake, you know it's her! However, if confronted, she gives up more easily than a regular person.
MEMBERS OF SAME CATEGORY: akkoubari, zannboubari, barizougon (none of these are in my dictionary, sorry.)
STICK FIGURE GIRL: Thanks so much for helping me!
AKKOU ZOUGON: (taking off her mask) Don't worry about it. By the way. . .
AKKOU ZOUGON: Is it true that your older brother is unemployed? That he's a hikikomori?
AKKOU ZOUGON: Everybody's saying it so I just happened to overhear. They say he's otaku, but to the extent that he stopped coming to school altogether? I was just wondering because everybody's talking about it
STICK FIGURE GIRL: (runs off crying)
GLASSES GIRL: You're enjoying yourself, aren't you? Even you shouldn't take things too far, Accou Zougon
GLASSES GIRL: That girl's brother got hurt – he's been in the hospital. And of course he's unemployed – he's still in school, like us!
AKKOU ZOUGON: FUCK YOU, I HATE YOU!!!!!
NARRARATOR: (translation of above statement: you're so cool, i wish i could be more like you!)
A "lifestyle magazine" for people who enjoy the ona-ho (short for onna-hole, which means "woman hole" which means "pocket pussy")
What makes this zine unique is that every issue has back cover which is a parody of a real lifestyle magazine: in this case, MEN'S NO-NO.
Below: weekly sales rankings of the top 5 brands:
text on the cover reads:
ona-ho will save the world!
ona-ho and lotion!
limited edition and special collaboration ona-ho festival! wheeee!!
the lucky vibrator that calls the god of death!
i will become the unrivalled king of winter ona-hos!!!!!
also in the issue:
How to make a glove out of fried bean paste so when you jack off it feels like someone else doing it.
masturbation-related chinese zodiac forcasts
final page just says "this space for rent"
Just that! it only works if you already have the english transcript but can't find the slang in your J-E dictionary.
DAILY LIFE WITH YOUR PROSTHETIC LEG
The main article in this one is , how to change the batteries in your prosthesis. I didn't even know they HAD batteries.
DO YOU LIKE ROMANCE???
The lovely but absurd world of Harlequin Romances
This is yet ANOTHER review zine, reviewing only japanese translations of Harlequins! It comes complete with its own 3 ranking categories:
The standout review, which the zine seller helpfully pointed out to me is this:
a review of NIGHT OF MADAM BUTTERFLY – a novel about a western woman who goes to Japan and gets laid.
(romanticness 3, rediculousness 5, story 3)
the title of this section is:
GEISHA COSPLAY AND SUPER-EXPENSIVE BONSAI GIFTS ARE THE WAY TO A MAN'S HEART?
It goes on to print an extract from the book, which takes place at a bath-house, where the Japanese man says to the foreign lady:
"When in Japan, you should forget your western attitudes about nudity. Here, mixed bath-houses are common. We're not embarrassed of our bodies. Neither should you be! Perhaps the fat or aged are another matter, but you've got a nice style there, so you shouldn't be shy about it."
The zine author then goes on to make fun of the book for saying the heroine bought her man a 370-year-old bonsai: "No one would be able to afford such a thing, and even if it did exist, it would be listed as 'a national treasure' and not for sale! Clearly the heroine got decieved by the bonsai seller."
the final verdict?
"This book thoughtlessly gets the details of our culture all wrong. Perhaps only a foreigner can fully enjoy the "exotic Japan" atmosphere of it. "
CONVENIENCE CAFE AU-LAIT REVIEW
Just like all the other "ranking" zines. Honestly there are hundreds more of these things. I include this one because they went the extra mile and included a diagram which familiarizes the reader with how to read their coffee-ranking diagrams:
MAKER, PRICE, QUANTITY, CALORIES
THE HISTORICAL BOYS LOVE MANGA OF JAPAN
This book is amazing! The guy gets these real, historical gay pornos from back in samurai times, and "translates" them from old-timey Japanese to modern Japanese. He says that, although we would today call the pornos "fiction", or "manga", they are actually closer to journalism – such distinctions were not made back in those days.
In the passage below, well, you figure it out.
As a bonus, here are some indies gag comics I've picked up over the years.
that's right: SUPER-DEFORMED HITLER!!!!
. . . AND HERE ARE SOME RANDOM UH BL ("boys'-love") MANGA:
this is the only ultra-man sex joujinshi i could find. I must have gone to 2 or 3 comic conventions looking for this kind of godzilla-fucking-ultraman's-ass stuff, and the guys at the tables stocked with underage rape-porn would be offended , like really indignant , that i would even ASK them such a thing: SHIRANAI!!!
I don't know what is so offensive about it. I guess comics should only be used for porn, never just for humor? But finally just by chance i found this one, which is kind of nice.