Making Mastodon Home

Fediverse logo
I posted a thread on Twitter in early November about what I did to make myself comfortable there. I hadn’t started and really moved into a social media account since sometime around 2010, so there was some learning involved. I’ve since locked my Twitter account and set the content to delete over time, but a friend was looking for the content. So I’m moving it here.

Picking a Server

The Orbit had a Mastodon server (instance) when I started, so I learned more about this after I wrote my thread. Servers running Mastodon are part of the Fediverse, each with their own admins, moderators, and rules. Some are very new and in the process of learning through trial and error. Some will tolerate anything. Some work very hard to build communities and make safe spaces. Some customize the basic software.

It may take some time to know what you want from an instance, so understand you may change servers. That’s not unexpected. There are functions built into Mastodon to make that easier. The following are among the servers and/or moderators I’ve been impressed by:

Each server has its own rules, listed on its About page (for example: If you’re good with those generally, go ahead and sign up. You’re not committed to stay there if you find somewhere better for you, and you’ll be able to take your community with you if you move.

Building Your Home Feed

Your home feed on Mastodon is your standard social media timeline but the way it was before social media companies went in hard on algorithmic sorting and intrusions. These are the people you choose to follow. It’s an empty feed until you find your people, and the Twitter thread I wrote was on how I filled it.

  • As of this morning, my Mastodon feed feels like real social media. If you’re thinking about moving or are there but feeling a bit bereft, here’s what I did to get there.
  • In the settings, I enabled the advanced view, which is much like TweetDeck. I may or may not keep it as my home feed grows, but having that much information right now is good. I also set my notification preferences right away.
  • I turned on the federated timeline, which is a feed of all the people a server follows. It was useful to me because I’m on a small instance. Also great if you’re on an instance based in common interests. Maybe not if you’re on one of the huge instances.
  • I muted people in the federated timeline liberally. Turns out my instance includes someone who really likes shitposters. But I also found people I knew there, as well as people who ask questions about Mastodon I also want the answers to.
  • I found out about from that. There’s a great FAQ there. I’ve shared it with other people asking questions too, which makes the whole thing feel more social and friendly.
  • I advertised my Mastodon profile on my other social media accounts. People I like followed me, which means I didn’t have to search for them.
    I also search “Mastodon” occasionally on my other social media so I find my existing friends that way too.
    @[email protected] btw
  • When I joined Mastodon, I entered an existing culture. I kept my initial posts low key and friendly while I watched my feeds to see how other people use it. I learned how people commonly use content warnings and read a bunch of image descriptions.
  • I figured out my following strategies would be different than here. There are people I don’t follow here because they’re so broadly retweeted by friends. That’s not a thing on Mastodon, at least not yet. There are people I follow here who don’t fit the vibe I’m building there.
  • I watched my home and federated timelines for accounts on specialized instances. I went to the instances that looked relevant to me, and browsed the profiles there.
  • I did the same thing with the following/follower lists of friends I have lots of people in common with. I found a bunch of friends with currently inactive accounts. I followed them anyway so I’ll see them when/if they become active.
  • Today I have a bunch of content from friendly people! Yay! I’m chatting a bit so people don’t feel like they’re shouting into the void. Got enough of that on Twitter.
  • I’m currently working on getting some of the other accounts I post for set up over there and figuring out how to post across sites without ongoing extra work. Most documentation is a bit out of date, so it’s a process. I’ll share as I sort it out.
  • Additional notes: Following people on another server in the web interface can be kind of weird. Check the FAQ if you get frustrated.
  • I’m mostly using the browser. If you’re on the app and don’t like it, explore third-party apps. Most people seem to prefer them.


Making Mastodon Home

Toward a Taxonomy of Bad Moderation

Like many people, I dusted off my Mastodon account when Musk signed the agreement to buy Twitter. When the deal got close to completion, I asked Jason to make me an admin on our tiny server and set about preparing for more traffic.

I started by reviewing the #fediblock hashtag—where the Fediverse communicates about bad actors and safety—and our own list of silenced and blocked servers. I began there because, well, we all have plenty of experience being harassed around here. I didn’t have the power to keep harassers off the technology, but I did have the tools to take care of the most obvious threats.

I was working on a way to systematize our reasons for moderating at the server level when our own server ended not in fire but in ice in an upgrade. Given Jason was already concerned about having enough time for it, I suggested he let it go. He told our handful of sporadic users it was time to find a new instance.

I’ve still been thinking about the system, though, partly because I do that and partly because I’m watching the discussions about moderation on Mastodon closely. Technocrats are talking to social engineers and activists are talking to people targeted for harassment are talking to scholars are talking to people who’ve never had to think about moderation until today.

It’s messy and made messier by:

  • A lack of common purpose in using social media. This is true for any service, but it’s particularly obvious in the Fediverse, where individual servers are often organized around these purposes.
  • A wave of new servers with new administrators and new moderators, many of whom are not aware of the long arguments about moderation and whose resource materials are mostly technical.
  • Rapid growth reflected in technological chaos that makes following current events in the Fediverse more difficult.
  • Disorganized social networks that haven’t resettled after service and server moves, such that many of us have been talking into the ether instead of discussing it among people with experience in the topic.
  • Targeted harassment of admins and moderators who openly share their block lists and reasons for blocking.
  • A history of abuse of moderation tools in the Fediverse.

Much of the current discussion is about how to consolidate knowledge about servers with bad or nonexistent moderation, so each individual moderator doesn’t have to learn separately and may be able to automate some decisions. I’ve also seen alarm at the idea, coming from people who see moderation decisions they don’t understand or wouldn’t choose.

I believe that grouping the types of bad moderation likely to be encountered by its consequences and the actions needed to mitigate it may help in making such moderation feasible. This list is roughly in order of priority, with the most pressing issues first.

Illegal Content

There are servers that host content that may get you arrested if it ends up on your server. Unless you’re making a stand by practicing civil disobedience, you don’t have much choice on these. If you are taking that stand, you should expect the vast majority of the Fediverse to lock you out.


These are servers that organize around the people they think shouldn’t exist or shouldn’t have rights. These are the neo-Nazis, the ultranationalists, the religious nationalists, the people trying to deny health care and public bathrooms to trans people, the people who call for violence against abortion providers, other stochastic terrorists, and other outright terrorists.

There is no reason for any decent server to give eliminationists access to your users. They will only use it to recruit and to attack. That’s what they organized to do. Suspend them.

Freeze Peach

These are servers that tell you up front they are organized around “free speech” or that anything goes on the server as long as it isn’t illegal or porn. There may even be some administrators on these servers who believe that, though I’ve seen several with neo-Nazi administrators. In practice, however, even if these servers didn’t set out to be eliminationist or harassing instances, these servers are where bad actors collect when they get kicked off well-moderated servers.

Pleroma is an alternative to Mastodon for running instances in the Fediverse. The development history of Pleroma is such that the software is used by numerous eliminationist and harassing instances. The association is frequent enough that “Pleroma instance” has become a shorthand for a freeze peach instance.

If you see a very new server that looks decent but has “free speech” rules, you might want to take the time to suggest they get a real code of conduct if you’re feeling generous. Otherwise, suspend them. The people who are happy in the cesspits these instances become are going to cause you problems, and freeze peach mods aren’t going to help.


Not all promotion is spam. “Spam”, here, specifically means more intrusive types of communication, such as tagging people to get their attention, or misusing hashtags or groups for promotion. As with other types of bad behavior, once a server is known not to moderate spam coming from its users, it will probably be swamped with users who spam.


The internet is for porn and other sex work, but you usually have to go looking for it, because the internet is also for business and children. Your instance may not allow children, but if it’s organized around business interests or activism, you’ll want to give some real thought to your policies around NSFW materials. These materials have a long history of being used in sexual harassment to create and signify hostile environments. On the other hand, many people experience censorship because some aspect of their identity is sexualized and declared off limits.

There are lots of tools to help you limit how your users interact with NSFW materials on other servers and how that affects other users’ timelines. The only broad guidelines are to be thoughtful about your choices and transparent with your users so they can find an instance that meets their needs.


These are collections of users who post antivax, crypto, climate, political or other types of misinformation frequently enough that the server itself becomes a significant source of bad information, either as policy or through being unwilling to moderate it. How you handle one of these servers will likely depend on the type of disinformation. Individual servers may choose to keep, for example, flat Earthers around as entertainment but may block political disinformation as a threat to democracy.

Good in Theory, Bad in Practice

Having policies is easy. Enforcing them is often a miserable slog. You see things you can’t unsee. Bad actors test your boundaries regularly. You hear from lovely, charming people mostly when they’re upset. Written rules collide with unwritten rules. Competing access needs are real. Moderators aren’t going to get everything right.

That said, there comes a point where repeated mistakes suggest an underlying problem exists and is likely to lead to more mistakes. Right now, instances are starting up or growing without planning ahead for the moderation growth will require. Then they’re making major, high-profile mistakes. It becomes reasonable for other instances to decide they’re bad at moderating and are going to stay bad without major course corrections.

As a moderator, you can offer help, but you have to choose how much of another instance’s moderation you’re willing to take on and for how long. If they don’t, the work falls on you. Defederation and the threat of defederation are your tools for doing that.

Critical-Issue Fail

As mentioned previously, competing access needs are real. They also don’t only apply in a disability framework or even among people with different goals. For example, activists who do policy work need a degree of access to government entities, while activists who do community care work on the same topics may need to keep themselves and those they serve far from the eye of those same entities because current policy hurts them.

Both groups may do important work benefiting the same group of people, but they’re unlikely to want the same federation policies. Neither of them is wrong to federate or defederate based on their needs, and all of them should be able to talk about their decisions and the behavior on a server that led to it.

That’s as far as I’ve gotten in trying to group moderation issues that may lead one server to defederate from another. What’s missing? What’s redundant? Is the framework useful?

Toward a Taxonomy of Bad Moderation

The Reading List, 2/28/2016

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

The Reading List, 2/28/2016

The Reading List, 2/25/2016

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

  • Antonin Scalia and the Ethics of ‘Celebrating Death’“–“Here someone often argues that Scalia’s family is in mourning and would be very upset at the things that some people are saying. That’s quite possible, although it seems highly unlikely that any of Scalia’s family members are spending this time browsing the social media feeds of random unknowns like my friends and me.”
  • Red Carpet Rundown: BAFTAs 2016“–“My favorite character arc of the red carpet season is Alicia Vikander’s slow realization that this Louis Vuitton partnership means she actually has to keep finding Louis Vuitton dresses to wear on the red carpet.”
  • Period pain can be ‘almost as bad as a heart attack.’ Why aren’t we researching how to treat it?“–“Around half a dozen friends told me that they’d had similarly frustrating experiences—that they’d been shoved on birth control indefinitely, been prescribed Prozac to deal with their monthly bouts of depression, suffered through migraines and even vomiting whenever they had their period. The symptoms were diverse, but these stories all had one key thing in common: No one seemed able to get clear answers from their doctors.”
  • Sometimes busting myths can backfire“–“Peter and her colleague Thomas Koch decided to find out how best to combat this backfire effect — our tendency to misremember myths as fact — when confronted with scientific information.”
  • Brazil’s First Dark Skin Globeleza Queen Was Stripped of Her Title For Being ‘Too Black’“–“Justino was called everything from a monkey to a darkie, and told she didn’t deserve to be the Globeleza because she was ‘too Black.’ What hurt most, though, were that many Black Brazilians also thought she was unfit for the title because of her dark skin.”
  • Colorado Planned Parenthood Clinic Reopens After Deadly Attack“–“Joseph Martone, 54, said he was a regular protester at the clinic and had returned just after the shooting. ‘People believe he’s part of us, but he’s not,’ he said, referring to Mr. Dear. Then, turning his attention to the clinic employees, he said, ‘They are harming women and killing babies.'”
  • De-platforming and free speech“–“But what if we took the free speech claim at face value, but we took it a bit father and looked at who we invite to speak and not just who we ask not to. If our goal is to use our platform to advance free speech, why not give speaking positions to people of color and trans people?”
  • Beware of the angry white male public intellectual“–“But we need to start acknowledging that men with real power and authority are fostering online harassment. Such public intellectuals are perhaps even more dangerous—both because they give online harassment a larger and more mainstream audience, and because they give those campaigns the stamp of moral or intellectual seriousness.”
  • The Anti-GMO Doctors Behind False Monsanto Microcephaly Link“–“The leader of Médicos de Pueblos Fumigados, Dr. Ávila Vazquez has come under fire for making giant albeit unfounded scientific leaps.”
  • Deadpool, Zoolander 2, sexy fighting, and transmisogyny“–“The female villain in Deadpool, Angel Dust, does eventually fight Negasonic Teenage Warhead, but her longest and most protracted action sequences is with Colossus, and there is nothing sexy about it.”
  • An Open Letter from Past CEA Chairs to Senator Sanders and Professor Gerald Friedman“–“We are former Chairs of the Council of Economic Advisers for Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton. For many years, we have worked to make the Democratic Party the party of evidence-based economic policy.”
  • Police say cop who told drivers to run over protesters has resigned“–“Rothecker apologized and the comment was deleted, but his remarks drew condemnation from Mayor Chris Coleman.”
  • The Consequences of Dissent: When Atheism Lands You In A Psych Ward“–“Eight months later, fearing Mubarak would negatively influence his other siblings by eating during Ramadan and not praying, his father baited him into seeing another doctor.”
  • I Am Not Ashamed of Identifying As Mentally Ill“–“Here’s the truth: accepting and paying attention to an important fact about myself is not negative or limiting. My mental illness has a big impact on my life.”
  • A Romance Manifesto“–“When I want comfort, I read romance to escape. I don’t understand why that is so difficult to grasp, given that the same folks that often rag on this practice may spend an awful lot of time in Middle Earth.”
  • Is this a KISSING book?“–“If you’re going to write an essay about romance and you’re not a regular romance reader, here are a few tips”
  • The Geek’s Guide to Disability“–” I’m hoping that if I walk through some of the more common misconceptions, I can move the needle a little–or at least save myself some time in the future, because I’ll be able to give people a link instead of explaining all this again.”
  • The Science of Star Wars: The Orbital Mechanics of Starkiller Base“–“But, like, it’s also orbiting the star. It’s not eating some star a long way away. In the movie, we see it destroy the star it’s orbiting. What’s up with that?”
  • A fetus can’t ‘hold hands’ with its twin“–“This story is already all over the anti-choice sites (I’m including Fox here) as well as many more sites as ‘proof’ of fetal emotions and purposeful movement (either explicitly stated or implied). However, ultrasound images of fetal movements are really just a Rorschach test.”
  • The remarkably different answers men and women give when asked who’s the smartest in the class“–“In other words, if Johnny and Susie both had A’s, they’d receive equal applause from female students — but Susie would register as a B student in the eyes of her male peers, and Johnny would look like a rock star.”
The Reading List, 2/25/2016

The Reading List, 2/21/2016

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

  • Carry on, carry on as if nothing really matters“–“Clever touch, too, to frame everyone who wants nothing to do with the man’s opinions as ‘the girl’, because that’s exactly what will appeal to the Dawkbros. For the rest of us, though, it just tells us that you haven’t been listening.”
  • IT IS TIME: My personal journey from harassee to guardian“–“It is only now, when I see these things happening to my students, that I have become really, truly, irrevocably angry. Angry because I know them, and I know they didn’t ask for it and don’t deserve it.”
  • Why Again Were You My Enemy?“–“My sense of identity had already marked him as Other, and so I had to undergo the cognitive dissonance now of wondering why I had that intuition at all. And of course, I recognize that it’s a false association and no longer think Avalos the devil that he was portrayed to be.”
  • Why I Just Dropped The Harassment Charges Against The Man Who Started GamerGate“–“The simple fact of the matter is that I’m less useful to the world as someone who fought this case, win or lose, than someone who can throw all hope of winning away to be honest with you, to educate you, to try and call for reform so I can set the next girl up for a spike instead of falling on my face.”
  • placing Ken Zucker’s clinic in historical context“-“This is perfectly fine, of course – no one is obligated to use my quotes in their article. But I did feel that the most important point that I stressed (i.e., placing the current Zucker clinic debate in the historical context of the long history of gender reparative therapies) was not duly acknowledged in Singal’s article.”
  • Against Endorsements“–“I don’t so much hope that any reader ‘agrees’ with me, as I hope to haunt them, to trouble their sense of how things actually are.”
  • Minneapolis Police Chief Janee Harteau will keep her job, but not without critics“–“Harteau took heat for the disputed death of Jamar Clark, as well as police officers’ treatment of protesters during Black Lives Matter’s ensuing 18-day occupation of the 4th Precinct. An uptick in gun violence in 2015 led others to accuse her of being too soft on crime.”
  • Stop Bernie-Splaining to Black Voters“–“Instead, black folks are trying to keep their feet planted in reality and choose from among politicians who have historically promised much and delivered little. It is often a choice between the devil you know and the one you don’t, or more precisely, among the friend who betrays you, the stranger who entices you and the enemy who seeks to destroy you.”
  • Arizona mayor forcibly removes Jewish rabbi who objected to Christian-based invocation“–“‘If they don’t like it, they can vote us out,’ said Marley.”
  • The Science Byline Counting Project: Where Are the Women—and Where Are They Not?“–“But for longer front-of-book or back-of-book pieces, where writers have an opportunity to showcase their writing style and establish credentials that could lead to opportunities to write the more prestigious feature articles, men outnumbered women, in some cases by a factor of two or three to one.”
  • Ferguson Mayor: ‘There Was No Agreement’ With The Justice Department“–“The Justice Department slapped the city of Ferguson, Mo., with a civil rights lawsuit this week after the City Council voted to change a proposed settlement agreement to reform the police and courts.”
  • Cash is Bad for Creativity? Yeah, Right“–“Obviously autonomy is key. In any study where monetary rewards are given for creativity, one must assume a baseline where the artist is well-fed and has the basics of existence, or alternatively, plan to sort subjects by a variety of economic conditions and then see how cash rewards affect creativity.”
  • Catholic leaders say Zika doesn’t change ban on contraception“–“The Zika epidemic, he said, presents ‘an opportunity for the church to recommit itself to the dignity and sacredness of life, even in very precarious moments like this.'”
  • Why is Silicon Valley so ‘tone deaf’ to India?“–“When the news came that India had rejected Facebook, board member and investor Andreessen tweeted the missive that echoed around the world: ‘Anti-Colonialism has been economically catastrophic for India for decades. Why stop now?'”
  • Audit of U’s human research reveals profound ignorance, chaotic mess“–“One person said the U’s required training left her confused about the process of getting informed consent. Nevertheless, she still actively recruits patients for human research.”
  • Peyton Manning’s squeaky-clean image was built on lies“–“For anybody other than Peyton Manning, such damning statements from a fellow student who had no dog in the fight would have been the nail in their coffin. As a general rule, it’s not just gross to smash your testicles on a woman’s face, it’s a crime.”
  • Jerkbrain Lies“–“You see, if you didn’t know that Jerkbrain lies, you might be tempted to take it seriously. Might think that maybe it’s right and you should just go back to bed forever to stew in your own filth because you’ll never be worth anything more than that.”
  • Trans people have no dispute with feminists – they either support transgender rights or they do not“–“Well I say there is no ‘row’ between TERFS and trans people. Just as there is no ‘row’ between Westboro Baptist Church and gay people, no ‘fallout’ between the BNP and ethnic minorities, and no ‘debate’ between rape advocates and women.”
  • #PrayForDawkins Isn’t Trolling, Just Religious Privilege“–“Even if someone at the Church of England would really like to make such a remark to Dawkins to, as my mother often liked to say when I was younger, “heap burning coals on his head” by being so magnanimous, it just makes no sense as a public relations move.”
  • This Sex Which Is Not Two“–“The resistance to the notion of the social construction of scientific knowledge was, and to some extent still is, pretty fierce. A lot of people at first can’t imagine what that would mean. To some people at first it means, well, you can just make anything up. And of course that isn’t true.”
  • Brief thoughts on women writers being erased from SFF – again“–“No, women SFF writers don’t take these best-of lists, these recommended-for-award-nominations and shortlists, these articles and review columns erasing us ‘personally’. We object because they damage us all professionally.”
The Reading List, 2/21/2016

The Reading List, 2/14/2016

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

The Reading List, 2/14/2016

The Reading List, 2/11/2016

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

  • The Quest for Social Justice in Secular America is a Real Thing“–“The conference was a great vehicle to connect secular people of color and allies who have been in the trenches of social change. The participant’s roll is a who’s who of secular leaders of color.”
  • Creating a Welcoming Fannish Community“–“We are a diverse group of people from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and no two of us will give you the same answer. But if you are committed to creating a convention culture that is inclusive in deeds, not just words, then here are some things you need to consider.”
  • #SSJCon What’s Next: How can secular women of color help our communities?“–“We can do this for ourselves, and seeing the beautiful faces at #SSJCon simply reinforced this reality. I had never been in a space filled with so many atheists of color, much less atheist women of color.”
  • In Iowa, Hillary Shows She’s Learned Something About Running While Female“–“This is a paradigm; it’s why Mom is the disciplinarian and Dad is the fun guy, why women remain the brains and organizational workhorses behind social movements while men get to be the gut-ripping orators, why so many women still manage campaigns and so many men are still candidates.”
  • Ted Cruz’s radical supporters: He won Iowa on the back of the scariest Bible-thumpers in the business“–“This Jesus-walks act of Ted Cruz’s worked like a charm, as Cruz sucked up a veritable rogue’s gallery of every creepy straight guy who claims he loves Jesus but has his eyes fixed firmly on the crotches of America.”
  • Why Liberals Always Win the Culture Wars“–“Work themselves into a lather, rinse, repeat.”
  • Accessibility Checklist for SFWA Spaces“–“The SFWA Accessibility Checklist is provided for the use of conventions and other gatherings who want to ensure that their event is fully accessible by all attendees.”
  • 9 Ways to Be Accountable When You’ve Been Abusive“–“But the truth is that abusers and survivors of abuse do not exist, and have never existed, in a dichotomy: Sometimes, hurt people hurt people.”
  • The Secular Social Justice Conference and the Progressive Atheist Movement“–“We—organizers, panelists, and participants—came into the space with the implied virtue of atheism and knowledge of the adverse effects of certain religious ideologies. Rather than reaffirm or hover over these conclusions, SSJCon displayed a refreshing evolution beyond the mainstream agenda and complacency I’ve encountered many times previously.”
  • Yes, Our Lives Are Intersectional: Reflections on the Secular Social Justice Conference“–“It didn’t surprise me that as I live-tweeted so many important words being said and conversations taking place during the conference, we received negative feedback from a small number of our followers on Twitter. But I couldn’t help but feel shocked by the hate behind the words”
  • Coin-toss fact check: No, coin flips did not win Iowa for Hillary Clinton“–“Gone unmentioned so far is that even if Clinton won that Miracle Six — and there were no other coin tosses — it would make little difference in the outcome.”
  • Chicago Professor Resigns Amid Sexual Misconduct Investigation“–“Before he was hired, molecular biologists on the University of Chicago faculty and at other academic institutions received emails from an anonymous address stating that Dr. Lieb had faced allegations of sexual harassment or misconduct at previous jobs at Princeton and the University of North Carolina.”
  • ‘You Need Some New Friends!’“–“Finally, the ‘get new friends’ response concerns me because it’s so reminiscent of the ‘not all _____’ response, which is weird because it’s usually coming from fellow marginalized folks.”
  • The One-Percent Difference“–“While this person and I agree on most matters, he disagrees with me about the wisdom of Dawkins’ promotion of callous misogyny.* But more importantly, he disagrees with me about how big a disagreement that is.”
  • Sexual Ethics 201“–“One of the difficult things about being in relationships is that oftentimes just saying what we think or feel or want is not enough to make sure everyone comes out of an interaction feeling good.”
  • Ask Polly: Why Did My Dream Man Dump Me?“–“There is nothing whatsoever wrong with being a sexy badass, as long as you can keep that shit up forever.”
  • Minnesotans talk fast and get the hell off the phone, says science“–“Now, here’s where it gets interesting. In the category of who speaks the most, total, Minnesota ranks second-to-last, meaning we say the second-fewest words when on the phone with a business.”
  • At last! White History Month is here!“–“In fact, I feel kinda sad that white people don’t have an entire month to learn more about their history. It really isn’t fair. Therefore, in response to the calls for fairness that I’ve seen on Facebook and Twitter year, after year, after year, I give you White History Month.”
  • Problems with Pre-Pregnancy“–“Everyone should have access to healthcare that focuses on them and their needs, whether those needs include treatment for drug addiction, smoking cessation, access to birth control, or help getting or staying pregnant. Preconception healthcare takes the focus off the real patient right in front of doctors, and moves it to a figment of the imagination.”
  • Is That a Threat?“–“Then I realized that I was afraid to sound ‘whiny’ in writing about strangers physically threatening me. That’s how deeply ingrained these ideas are.”
  • How abortion opponents secretly bought a Va. abortion clinic to deceive women“–“Nothing indicates that the abortion clinic is closed except a locked door. The clinic’s Google ads still pop up, and the phone number still works. When women dial the closed abortion clinic, the call is forwarded straight to the pregnancy center.”
  • Hillary Clinton Told the Truth About Her Iraq War Vote“–“‘Because bipartisan support for this resolution makes success in the United Nations more likely and war less likely—and because a good faith effort by the United States, even if it fails, will bring more allies and legitimacy to our cause—I have concluded, after careful and serious consideration, that a vote for the resolution best serves the security of our nation.'”
The Reading List, 2/11/2016

The Reading List, 2/7/2016

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

  • Why the calorie is broken“–“Humans are not bomb calorimeters, of course, and we don’t extract every calorie from the food we eat. This problem was addressed at the end of the 19th century, in one of the more epic experiments in the history of nutrition science.”
  • If You Don’t Take Women’s Harassment Seriously, You Don’t Want to Understand The Problem“–“Every few months stories like these make it into the news cycle, even though related harassment and assaults are happening every day in the US and elsewhere.  When stories do surface, people express surprise, sadness and outrage, all of which seem to dissipate in a heartbeat.”
  • Navajo water contamination more horrific than Flint Michigan’s“–“Navajo water has long been contaminated by Peabody Coal mining on Black Mesa, uranium spills, strewn radioactive tailing from the Cold War uranium mining, and recently the EPA’s poisoning of the Animas and San Juan Rivers.”
  • Pregnant, Sick With Zika—and Prohibited From Getting an Abortion“–“Of the countries that have called on women to avoid pregnancy, only Colombia allows for abortion in cases of fetal anomaly, and the vast majority of nations in the region don’t permit abortion in such cases. Even in Colombia, 99 percent of abortions are clandestine, because so many women are turned away by doctors who won’t perform the procedure.”
  • 10 Things I Hate About Sex (Scenes)“–“You know what two words NEVER belong in a sentence together? Nipples and scissors.”
  • Female Shark Wins Seoul Aquarium Turf War, Eats Male Shark“–“Despite her best efforts to make a meal of the male shark, the female shark is expected to at some point regurgitate the remains of her former roommate.”
  • free memberships to CONvergence (& many other cons)“–“The following SFF con memberships are newly available, first-come first-serve, to fans of color/non-white fans”
  • UrsulaV explains the Oregon Occupation“–“Here’s what I don’t understand about the Oregon militia, and because I’m me, I will use Star Wars as a metaphor.”
  • Against ‘Don’t Read the Comments’“–“The fact that we joke about it documents an acceptance of a culture of abuse online. It helps normalize online harassment campaigns and treat the empowerment of abusers as inevitable, rather than solvable.”
  • NECSS and Richard Dawkins“–“First, many have pointed out that if we had such reservations about Dawkins we should not have invited him in the first place. This is a fair point.”
  • Feminism isn’t a side issue, it is a central issue in any movement with a pretense to rationalism“–“Feminists tend to be natural allies of the atheist movement, except as we’ve been seeing lately, when self-proclaimed leaders of that movement use their pulpit to dismiss their concerns as minor disagreements getting in the way of the great cause.”
  • ‘Hundreds’ of masked men beat refugee children in Stockholm” (warning: auto-play video)–“Before the attacks, the mob handed out leaflets with the slogan ‘It is enough now!’ which threatened to give ‘the North African street children who are roaming around’ the ‘punishment they deserve’.”
  • The readers’ editor on… handling comments below the line“–“As a result, it had been decided that comments would not be opened on pieces on those three topics unless the moderators knew they had the capacity to support the conversation and that they believed a positive debate was possible.”
  • Let’s Talk About The Other Atheist Movement“–“I don’t want to talk about Richard Dawkins. Not today. I want to talk about the amazing, indispensable atheists I work with, and all the positive changes they’re making in the world.”
  • FOMO for Writers: in which bad puns are mostly avoided“–“If you want to make a career of this, you really need to go to cons. Or man, it sure does help. And then when you get back you have something to talk about on Twitter, with the people you now know. Unless you’re bad at Twitter, and you can’t afford to get to a con.”
  • Observations on the Nebraska Walk for Life“–“It was around this time that his friend in the green coat turned around, got a couple of inches from my face and said, ‘I love you. I love you and there’s nothing you can do about it.’ I told him that was creepy.”
  • Dawkins insults feminists, complains when feminists feel insulted“–“Here’s a link to the video, but if it you don’t want to watch it I don’t blame you in the slightest. I didn’t want to watch it either, but did so that I could provide this transcript”
  • To the Ghosts of the Past I Left Behind“–“In one case, I had known a particular friend for over twenty years, but I knew all too well how the conversation would go if they found out — in fact, I knew because we had discussed evangelism tactics over lunch once in the past.”
  • A question for straight people“–“From lobotomies and workplace harassment to bullying and violence by the state, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have long experienced unique forms of discrimination tied to our sexual orientation and gender identity. It is because of that discrimination that Pride is important and is the reason why Pride exists.”
  • The left must speak uncomfortable truths about migration and sexual violence“–“The truth is this: Asylum-seekers, refugees, emigrants and immigrants are people, human beings in a full spectrum of behaviours and qualities.”
  • Please Don’t Eat Your Placenta“–“Neither of these functions is even remotely relevant in a modern human context. Unless, that is, you gave birth in a forest full of hungry wolves.”
  • World Fantasy Con 2016 doesn’t care about your harassment and accessibility concerns“–“The screengrabs show that the people behind WFC 2016 were told repeatedly that they needed these policies, and that it is unfair to not have the policies up before the lower registration fee deadline passed.”
  • Police swarm Katherine Clark’s home after apparent hoax“–“Clark said she assumes she was targeted because she has spoken out on the issue. She is the sponsor of the Interstate Swatting Hoax Act, which would make it a federal crime to spur an emergency response by any law enforcement agency without cause.”
The Reading List, 2/7/2016

The Reading List, 1/28/2016

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

  • Do we count as real writers, too? (aka that thing about Clarion. that. thing.)“–“The point of this post– if it were to have a point, and not merely be a rambling collection of thoughts– is not that workshops are necessary to become a serious writer. The point is that for people who don’t have easy access to a support system, it feels like it’s necessary in order to break into the global SFF scene. And it shouldn’t be.
  • But many of the people speaking out the other day cannot safely ignore Gaiman. His status is such that even casual statements of his carry weight.”
  • Why aren’t there more women in the SFF section?“–“As we talked, it became clear that the fault doesn’t rest with a single source. It’s the result of a ton of decisions, each of which is probably fueled by unconscious bias and then reinforced by a feedback loop.”
  • Jordan Kushner, crusading civil rights lawyer, on trial for filming police“–“He knew his rights. No matter: Kushner was escorted out and ‘thrown over a little brick wall’ by police, he recalls, a moment that was captured on building surveillance video.”
  • Stop saying Trump has a mental disorder“–“I know it’s tempting to share something that sounds like Trump is unfit for president. But there is plenty of material we can use to explain why Trump is not presidential.”
  • Police Use of Force Project“–“We reviewed the rules governing police use of force in America’s largest city police departments to determine whether they include meaningful protections against police violence.”
  • Lost erotica of Spain reveals an overlooked feminist history (NSFW)“–“For 10 years, Zubiaurre treasure hunted and researched similar erotic materials, eventually building a visual history of early 20th century sexuality in Spain. The X-rated treasure trove illuminates the public emergence of feminism, gay love, cross dressing, psychoanalysis, masturbation, sex manuals and hardcore porn.”
  • Militants Plow New Roads At Refuge, Possibly Damaging Artifacts“–“When asked about the construction, the militant claimed that the road was already there, and that militants had only removed snow from the path. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed Thursday that not only is the road built last week by the occupiers new, but it is also within an archaeological site important to the Burns Paiute Tribe.”
  • St. Paul officer had antagonistic history with demonstrators, community groups“–“The St. Paul police sergeant widely criticized by the public, his own department, an industry group and the mayor for a Facebook comment encouraging drivers to run over marchers on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day apparently posted similar antagonistic comments three months earlier.”
  • Thinking about Disability More“–“What I want to say is ‘Because we live in a society that values our ability to labor over quality of life, I worry about being judged on my “good days”, so I carry it with me at all times whenever I leave the house.'”
  • The Texas Abortion Case, Explained“–“As a result, legal experts, as well as activists on both sides of the abortion debate, see this case as the most important in a generation. So how did we get here, to a turning point in a legal and political journey that spans four decades and will set the stage for the next generation of abortion rights — or lack thereof — in the United States?”
  • What journalists get wrong about social science, according to 20 scientists“–“As a result, journalists can often write eye-catching stories that appeal to a popular audience but miss the bigger picture. This tension may never disappear. But in an effort to bridge the gap, I recently asked a few dozen psychologists and social scientists a simple question: ‘What do journalists most often get wrong when writing about research?'”
  • [Advice] Dating & Disorders“–“Of course, the complicated thing about values is not the having them, but the figuring out which ones you have, and in what order.”
  • 5 Things You Can Do Right Now to Support the Asexual Youth in Your Life“–“Some adults who understand and acknowledge asexuality in youth end up supporting it for the wrong reasons – that is, for sex-negative reasons.”
  • Ethics For Men Online, AKA How Not To Be An Asshole“–“Nothing is more frustrating than constantly seeing powerful people, with reach and influence, spend their precious time on obviously angry jerks rather than, say, people of color who need eyes on their work and who are supporters of these influential people.”
The Reading List, 1/28/2016

The Reading List, 1/24/2016

I share a lot of links on Twitter and Facebook that I don’t blog about because I don’t have much to add. The reading list is a periodic feature where I share those links with my blog audience too. Of course, you’re still welcome to follow me on Twitter.

The Reading List, 1/24/2016