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By Eyebrows McGee in "what... what happened in Alberta" on MeFi

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"A little trivia; Warfarin gets the first part of its name from the group that funded research into it at the school where it was discovered; the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation."

There's a really touching story about this -- and an antidote to Scott Walker's Wisconsin. UW is a land grant university, which means that it has extension offices serving every county, and one of its main purposes is to research and disseminate the world's-best research on all agricultural matters for farmers in its state. The land grant university system, created by the Morrill Act signed by Abraham Lincoln in 1862 during the Civil War, is one of the major reasons for the United States' agricultural dominance, and one of the reasons the Midwestern and Great Plains university systems are so strong and broad-based, since they reached farmers on their farms, and those grateful farmers sent their kids to learn Shakespeare and farming at the university. (If you know a farmer who went to a land grant university, he TOTALLY knows more Shakespeare than you, and this is one of the reasons the Midwest is great fun.)

So the story about Warfarin goes, a farmer's cows kept dropping dead, bleeding out in the field for no reason. So he loads one of the carcasses up in his pickup, drives to Madison, and hauls them onto the steps of the ag college, and says, "My cows keep dying. Tell me why." And the professors are only a little taken aback, because they're a land grant university and literally their whole purpose is to improve agriculture in the state of Wisconsin, so they study the cow and go to the fields and do a bunch of research and eventually figure out, it's the clover, and it kills rats at low doses and cows at high doses due to its anticoagulant properties, which can be harnessed for humans with clotting problems. The Wisconsin Alumni Research Fund funds research into this as both a rat poison and a human medicine, and Warfarin is the ultimate result (which is both a rat poison and a human medicine). But it comes from the trust that regular, everyday farmers had in the land grant university at UW, and the trust the the scientists at UW had in the fact that farmers would find interesting problems that they could solve, and the trust that the Wisconsin Alumni Research Fund had that the problems UW scientists and Wisconsin farmers found were worth solving and would help the state. And the feeling that the UW system belonged not just to the moneyed sons of the merchant class, but to the farmers and regular folk all around the state, who could drop dead cows on the steps of the ag college and demand a solution.

Scott Walker wants to break that trust and that whole-state spirit animating the UW system, but Warfarin stands as a monument to what a state university that is owned, loved, and trusted by the people of its state can do. And if you take Warfarin, you're participating in a great experiment started by Abraham Lincoln in the depths of the Civil War to extend the knowledge of the liberal university into every tiny corner of every state, and to make us richer in resources, yes, but also in mind and spirit thereby. A liberal arts education is the education needed to be free, and Lincoln was determined it would reach every county in the entire country, providing both practical agricultural and technical information, and the habits of mind that created and protected a free people -- the reason the US started with public universities (and public libraries) at all, beginning with UNC (which just tore down Silent Sam), to teach its citizens how to be free. And that is why your local farmers know Shakespeare, and that is why UW provided the world with Warfarin, and that is why we can't allow public land grant universities and everything they stand for to be swept under by false libertarian ideals that reject the greatness of community for the false idol of individualism.
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iridesce
17 days ago
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nj
acdha
25 days ago
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Washington, DC
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By Frowner in "Sectarianism that is fuelled by the very act of being vocally sectarian" on MeFi

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I feel like this article does a great job of standing up a bunch of strawmen and knocking them down with vigor.

I don't! Whenever anyone makes the argument that hey, we could stand to be assholes to each other a little less, people are breaking down and leaving, it gets read as some kind of attack on left politics rather than a conversation among activists, even though people are breaking down and leaving.

I've been part of healthy, good activist projects and activist projects that were good enough, but I've also seen a number of situations where people burned out or were driven out, and those people were usually the hardest workers and/or from marginalized communities.

I've definitely experienced the pressure to tear things down rather than express curiosity about them, and I've definitely been bullied over activist crap - by people I like and basically think are decent humans, even!

For instance: I've had so many, many conversations with fellow activists where I've been all, "Oh I'm so excited about this book/film/project/person" and the knee jerk response is always, "yeah well that sounds shitty because it is bougie/didn't you know that working within the system is politically unacceptable/fiction is a waste of time/etc etc". Very very few people ever start from, "Hm, Frowner is my friend, I don't think they're a waste of time, perhaps even if this idea or book is flawed Frowner is still finding something useful and interesting in it, I wonder what that could be" or "Hm, people often get important ideas even from flawed works, I wonder what Frowner is on about".

That never happens. It's all about competition - someone else is excited about something, so how fast can we shut that down?

And of course conformity - if someone says, "I'm really into this memoir by a Menshevik [I'm making this up, I have never read a Menshevik memoir]", it's important to show the Big Other that we know that the Mensheviks were trash by putting that book down, even if we've never read it and our grasp of the events of the Russian Revolution is in fact rather shaky.

People are mean and competitive in ways that are extraordinarily fatiguing and conformist, and TBH I've withdrawn from a lot of my old activist relationships because it was contributing to my depression. I still do stuff, but I'm sure not close with people like I used to be - I felt like the choice was to pursue my own intellectual interests in comfort or constantly have to defend very ordinary choices from people who mostly didn't know what they were talking about.

And that's not exactly the world's biggest problem to have - I've seen people treated far worse.

This has virtually never been about "call-out culture" or questions of privilege, either. It's just asshole culture, bully culture, conformist culture.

Whenever you say, "hey activists, maybe we could stop being so horrible to each other", folks are quick to assume that you mean "hey, stop being mean to white people". The people who have "been mean to me" in activist culture have always been white, mostly men. I am capable of distinguishing between "hey Frowner, that thing you did wasn't cool, how are you going to fix it" [which has absolutely happened to me] and "oh, you like this book about travel in central Europe between the wars, well it's a shitty book, let me quote you some Guattari about the personality failings of people who read that kind of book".
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iridesce
32 days ago
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nj
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hubbins: cooking-with-caustic-soda: viralthings: Monks...

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hubbins:

cooking-with-caustic-soda:

viralthings:

Monks confused by band name

Maybe they also are into grunge

#theyre probably not confused and are just the funniest people on earth

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iridesce
55 days ago
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nj
bibliogrrl
58 days ago
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Chicago!
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Digital Wellness for Grown Ups

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Beyond Digital Wellness

Earlier this week, the Washington Post published an article on the digital wellness movement, which attempts to use technology to help cure some of the issues caused by technology.

This movement, for example, is responsible for an app that “plants a tree” each time you put down your phone, and then shows the tree withering and dying when you pick the phone back up. It also produced a popular plug-in that displays, each time you go online, the number of days left in your expected lifetime.

Even Apple is getting involved in digital wellness. Their new suite of “wellbeing” features in iOS includes a wake-up screen that helps you “gently [ease] into your day” when you pick up your phone in the morning, and an improved Siri that makes suggestions about optimal notification settings.

I recognize that digital tools have a useful role to play in productivity. I’ve long advised, for example, that people use internet blocking software like Freedom to help jumpstart deep work training.

But something about this growing digital wellness movement makes me uneasy, and I think I’ve finally put my finger on the source of my concern: it’s infantilizing.

I’m a grown man. If I’m checking my phone every 5 minutes, or playing video games instead of paying attention to my kids, I don’t need an animation of a dying tree to nudge me toward better habits, I need someone I respect to knock the stupid thing out of my hand and say “get your act together.”

My sense is that more and more people in our current culture of digital excess are hungry for this type of strong challenge.

They don’t want to depend on Apple to tweak their OS to be slightly less intrusive, or need to download an app that provides a fun reminder about disconnecting; they want instead to be so wrapped up in doing things that are hard and important and meaningful that they forgot where they left their phone in the first place.

There’s something about these new technologies (and the screen zombie lifestyle that surrounds them) that feels fundamentally childish. This is making people uneasy. They’re ready to grow up.

(Photo by Jacob Gomez)

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iridesce
55 days ago
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nj
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By: filthy light thief

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Sara Schaefer and Sabrina Jalees on How Nanette Will Change Stand-up (Sara Schaefer (Nikki & Sara Live) and Sabrina Jalees (The Lineup) discuss the special, for The Vulture)
Sara: I would like to think the latter happened. I hope Rob was dropped from the group text. Okay, back to Nanette. I particularly like how Hannah pulls back the curtain on what comedy is and how it is done, and even though she's showing us the wizard behind the curtain, we're still caught up in the tension she's so masterfully building. Part of the reason I think it works so well is because she's being incredibly vulnerable and just straight-up beaming out her humanity like a Care Bear Stare. It made me think so much about my own comedy and how I've been afraid to get "too angry" or "too smart" or "too female" onstage. But then of course it made me think a lot about how as a straight white woman, I'm only experiencing a sliver of what others experience onstage. She brilliantly brings us into her world and cultivates empathy from people who don't walk in her shoes. At points I wanted to tell her to stop saying "I don't hate men!" At first it felt like she was apologizing for who she was, but I realized by the end she was doing this purposefully not only to demonstrate her points, but to, as she said, appeal to everyone's humanity. She fundamentally has chosen to approach everyone in her audience with love. Sabrina: It was brilliant and magic and cuts to the core of what stand-up can be while deserting the sport entirely. I watched the first 20 minutes or so before bed and felt like, "Wait, what's happening? Why are people losing their minds over this?" Then I finished it the next day and my jaw dropped and my tears dropped, and my brain has been chewing on it ever since. Sara: Another thing that really struck me about this was how validated I felt about how I've approached my own comedy. For years, I felt a lot of pressure by the comedy community to, number one, be solely focused on the "craft" of joke writing; never concern yourself with sincere messages of hope! That's corny! To this idea, Hannah says "My sensitivity is my strength." Sabrina: Yes! I'm always only interested in hearing people's real thoughts and secrets and things that take a few whiskeys to spill out. It's so much more interesting starting with a real feeling or insecurity or confession. I'm finding this in TV writing too — as long as you're building a story on truth, the foundation is always solid and interesting, so the jokes that build off of it are so much more satisfying. Sara: Yes. And number two, never concern yourself with the feelings of the audience — this idea of "Fuck the audience if they get offended, I will NEVER apologize!" has always been strange, because as a comedian, is it not your main goal to care very deeply about the emotional state of the audience so that you can elicit laughs? To this idea, Hannah talks about how being in the margins requires that you concern yourself with the feelings of the audience to make them comfortable with your very existence. For her, it's not even a choice. Sabrina: I started doing stand-up when I was 16, before I realized I was gay, and the way I'd be perceived was a huge hurdle that held me back for years. When I was 18 I fell in love with a woman for the first time, but it took me until my early 20s to start talking about it onstage. I cared too much about what people would think and how they'd judge me. Breaking through that fear and realizing that judgment is unavoidable regardless of your sexuality was a huge lesson for me both as a person and comic. Sara: Yes! Comedy is hard for everyone, but for those in the margins, it comes with added pressures and considerations. Whenever we talk about the struggles of what it's like to be a nonwhite, straight guy comedian, some people get mad and just dismiss you with a simple "Funny is funny." I absolutely love how Hannah brilliantly turned this on its head with the Picasso stuff. She makes us ask: Who is defining what's funny? Who is being allowed to speak? What perspectives are we including?
Emphasis original -- I loved getting a glimpse of these shared exuberances, and there's a lot more in the full article. Some fun, some tragic excerpts from Hanna's interview with Jenny Valentish for The Guardian titled 'I broke the contract': how Hannah Gadsby's trauma transformed comedy
One unexpected sanctuary during the run of the show – when she was coughing up a furball of trauma night after night – was the actor Emma Thompson, to whom she has become close. Thompson contacted her after seeing Nanette in Edinburgh, and Gadsby stayed with her during the London dates. "Oh, we're friends now; I think I can say that," Gadsby smiles. "She described what I was doing as Promethean – tearing my liver out every night. She didn't tell me to stop; she said: 'You've got to keep doing it.' I think that gave me permission to take more care of myself. Really, I just wanted to get to know her mum [the actor Phyllida Law]. I love Fifi." More remote support has come from fellow comedians; many see Nanette as a game-changer (it was the joint winner of best show at last year's Edinburgh fringe festival). "I've been a professional comic for 30 years," tweeted Kathy Griffin. "I've been studying comedy for even longer. I thought I had seen everything ..." Kristen Schaal advised her followers there was nothing better and more important than Nanette. ... The burden of talking about complex issues usually comes down to the most marginalised people. On the rare occasions that a white, heterosexual man steps up – Louis CK pointing out, for example, that "there is no greater threat to women than men" – they are hailed as heroes. "It's funny that it was during the process of doing this show that Louis CK came undone," Gadsby says. "I was furious with the phenomenon of Louis CK before it even came out. I was aware of the rumours [of him masturbating in front of younger female comedians] but I wasn't in that world, so what can you do?" Louis CK's predilection for talking about masturbation in his sets became a metaphor in Gadsby's mind for the rudimentary question-answer setup of punchline jokes – "like rubbing one out" – and made her determined to pursue more sophisticated narratives. "A joke is a wank, but a story is intimacy," she says. ... Following a brief bit on the murder of Eurydice Dixon, a young comedian in Australia -- "It's often young men trialling their philosophies on life, and we've got a generation of young men who believe that they are victimised, because they've been promised the world. That's a poisoned chalice, because now there's a gap between what the cultural narrative is and what their experience is. Looking back, I think it's done me more good than harm to be promised absolutely nothing. I was always told I didn't matter to the world, but the world still matters to me. That's why I haven't responded to the more brutal aspects of my life with violence or bitterness."
Which lead me to Hannah Gadsby on the male gaze in art: 'Stop watching women having baths. Go away.' -- In her new ABC* show Nakedy Nudes, the Tasmanian-born comedian delights in taking the highbrow mantle off art history * That's the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, not the American Broadcasting Company. This will be her 3rd production for the Australian ABC; the first two were for the Artscape program on ABC TV, Hannah Gadsby Goes Domestic (2010) and The NGV** Story (2011) ** National Gallery of Victoria
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iridesce
64 days ago
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It's pretty cool to see that this thread is still being commented on almost a month later.
nj
angelchrys
64 days ago
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Overland Park, KS
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Immigration defense group rejects Salesforce.com donation

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A leading nonprofit group helping immigrant families reunite at the U.S. border on Thursday rejected a $250,000 donation from Salesforce.com Inc in protest at the cloud-computing company's contract with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency.
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iridesce
64 days ago
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nj
angelchrys
64 days ago
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Overland Park, KS
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