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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Weekend web readin'

I've been slacking with the interesting articles sharing lately. Let's fix that.

From The Raw StoryGlobal report: Decriminalization does not increase rates of drug use
Money quote:
The report, A Quiet Revolution: Drug Decriminalisation Policies in Practice Across the Globe, “looks at over 20 countries that have adopted some form of decriminalisation of drug possession, including some States that have only decriminalised cannabis possession.” The studies’ objective was to examine all existing research and attempt to establish whether communities that adopted decriminalization policies saw in an uptick in use. 
“The simple answer,” said the report, “is that it did not.” 
After examining the 21 countries and their “decriminalization profiles,” including the U.S., Mexico, Australia, the Netherlands, Estonia and more, the global study concluded that “many countries adopt models that are ineffective, unworkable, or in some cases which result in greater harms for those who use drugs and for society more broadly,” but that ultimately a country’s policies concerning drug legalization and enforcement have “little correlation with levels of drug use and misuse in that country.”
From Greta Christina's BlogUnmixing Messages: Nudity, Sex, and Hooking Up at Atheist Conferences
Money quote:
So yes, if you’re interested in hooking up at atheist conferences, knowing which other people might share this interest — as an interest in general, or with you in particular — is not always obvious. So if you’re at a conference hotel bar, and you’re trying to figure out which people there also want to hook up — and which among those number might be interested in hooking up with you — how are you supposed to know? 
You ask them. 
Not right off the bat, of course. There are some settings in which etiquette permits introducing yourself to strangers by asking if they want to have sex with you — but hotel bars at conferences are, as far as I can tell, not among them. So you start by conversing on other topics. You see if you establish a rapport. You behave in slightly flirtatious ways, and see if these are met with a withdrawal or a response in kind. If it seems that things are moving forward with this, you behave in slightly more flirtatious ways. If this seems to be moving forward, and you want to try establishing physical contact — you ask them if they would be interested in that. 
This seems to be a tricky concept for some people. So I’ll spell it out again: If you are interested in having sex with someone, the person you need to consult about it is the person you’re interested in. 
You do not, however, consult the question of whether some atheist bloggers posed nude for a calendar. Or whether they participated in a mock scientific experiment designed to make fun of the hypothesis that female immodesty causes earthquakes. Or whether they title their quick-summary-of-interesting-links blog posts with the mildly double-entendre title of “quickies.”
From Gamasutra: Video games and Male Gaze - are we men or boys?
Money quote:
Male Gaze, then, has to do with the relationship between a heterosexual male viewer, and a female that is being viewed. The theory poses that in media like film, photography, and I would here add games, when a heterosexual male is in charge of the viewing of a female, the resulting media necessarily reflects that male's gaze. In the case of games, this may be more of a collective gaze.  
In cinema, for example, if a camera follows the curve of a woman's body, or keeps her cleavage in primary screen real-estate, that is an example of Male Gaze. Or in games, consider the Golden Axe Beast Rider trailer in which the camera pans down from the protagonist's butt to reveal enemies in the distance. This was a conscious choice someone made when creating this trailer. Note also that the two top-rated comments are in reference to this scene, which altogether should give you a pretty good idea of what Male Gaze means, and the simplest forms it takes. [Note: the original version of the trailer linked is this one which has more views, and has the mentioned top-rated comments. It was not viewable in the U.S., so was replaced. -ed.]
Some folks argue that these women are strong, kill lots of men, and thus are positive characters. But take a look at these ladies from Tera Online. They may have crazy superpowers, sure. But they are nearly naked to the eye of the player, and the target player here is clearly male. All their power is stripped away; their primary function, the reason they were created, is to be sexy for a male gaze, to draw males to stare at them. When you look at that picture, do you see "powerful mage" or do you see "hot girl." Let's be honest here! I know what I see. 
From Dr. Nerdlove: On labeling women "crazy"
Money quote:
There are certain words that are applied to women specifically in order to manipulate them into compliance: “Slut”, “Bitch”, “Ugly/Fat” and of course, “Crazy”. These words encapsulate what society defines as the worst possible things a woman can be. Slut-shaming is used to coerce women into restricting their own sexuality into a pre-approved vision of feminine modesty and restraint. “Bitch” is used against women who might be seen as being too aggressive or assertive… acting, in other words, like a man might. “Ugly” or “Fat” are used – frequently interchangeably - to remind them that their core worth is based on a specific definition of beauty, and to deviate from it is to devalue not only oneself but to render her accomplishments or concerns as invalid. 
“Crazy” may well be the most insidious one of the four because it encompasses so much. At its base, calling women “crazy” is a way of waving away any behavior that men might find undesirable while simultaneously absolving those same men from responsibility. Why did you break up with her? Well, she was crazy. Said something a woman might find offensive? Stop being so sensitive.
From Dispatches from the Culture Wars:  SCOTUS Overturns Stolen Valor Act
Money quote:
The Stolen Valor Act punished such claims with a fine and up to a year in jail. The government argued that false statements do not have First Amendment protection and cited a long line of cases with language indicating that. But Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion, joined by Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Roberts, Kagan and Sotomayor, notes that all of those examples “derive from cases discussing defamation, fraud, or some other legally cognizable harm associated with a false statement, such as an invasion of privacy or the costs of vexatious litigation.” 
The distinction should be obvious. A lie that deprives another person due process (perjury, for instance) or harms them against their will (fraud or defamation, for instance) is legally actionable, but that does not mean the government can, under the First Amendment, punish any and all false statements that do not harm others. By such reasoning, the government could police every personal interaction imaginable.

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