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Sunday Morning Paper: death of the autodidact


On Donald Trump, and Who Really MattersBitch Magazine (October 12, 2016)

White women matter, but only as possessions. The idea of a man like Trump marauding among the daughters and wives of Republican leadership is abhorrent. (I don’t believe for a second that the public response to Trump is about the safety of women of color.)

It is not a coincidence that so many men who formerly backed Trump invoked their wives and daughters in their disavowals. Or, like Jeb Bush, their granddaughters: “As the grandfather of two precious girls, I find that no apology can excuse away Donald Trump’s reprehensible comments degrading women.”

Why the plan to rename Pikachu has made Hong Kong angry, BBC News (May 31, 2016)

For example, Pikachu’s new official Chinese name, 皮卡丘, is pronounced Pi-Ka-Qiu in Mandarin. But in Cantonese, the characters would be pronounced Bei-Ka-Jau – which Hong Kong critics argue sound nothing like Pikachu’s original name.

More than 6,000 people signed a petition in March asking Nintendo to reverse its decision. Then on Monday dozens of people protested at the Japanese consulate.

For a small but vocal group, the move has hit a nerve.

“Our main point is that the translation ignores Hong Kong’s culture,” said a spokesman from a Facebook group known as Petition to keep Regional Chinese Translations of Pokemon. “There’s no respect for it.”

Every semi-competent male hero has a more talented female sidekick. Why isn’t she the hero instead?Vox (October 11, 2016)

To be clear, I’m not saying that every story with a competent female sidekick and a semi-competent male hero is necessarily bad or even anti-feminist. The problem with this trope lies less in its individual occurrences and more in its sheer prevalence. As with the Bechdel test, the analysis that grows out of looking at this trope is most interesting when it’s directed at overall trends, not at isolated instances.

Because however well-intentioned any particular story’s use of the competent female sidekick trope might be, the enormous accumulated mass of these stories sends a very different message. It suggests that no matter how strong and smart and compelling a woman might be, she is still less important, less vital, just less, than any vaguely competent man. And no matter how hard she works, she will never accomplish more than he does.

The Death of the Autodidact, The Baffler (October 7, 2016)

Autodidacticism is as old as civilization; in many ways, it is the story of civilization. The problem with public advocacy campaigns urging kids to stay in school is that they treat education as a fundamentally passive pursuit. Jump through these hoops, however rote and arbitrary they may seem, and you will become a card-holding member of the professional class. If the aim truly is to develop a highly skilled and adaptable workforce, then we should be encouraging people to get educated through means as numerous and unusual as possible.

Fiction pick of the week:
Mono no awareLightspeed Magazine (Issue 37)

The world is shaped like the kanji for umbrella, only written so poorly, like my handwriting, that all the parts are out of proportion.

Poetry pick of the week:
Litany in Which Certain Things Are Crossed OutCrush

I can tell already you think I’m the dragon,
that would be so like me, but I’m not. I’m not the dragon.
I’m not the princess either.
Who am I? I’m just a writer. I write things down.
I walk through your dreams and invent the future. Sure,
I sink the boat of love, but that comes later. And yes, I swallow
glass, but that comes later.

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