July 18, 2024

things to read: june

a row of six red-eared slider turtles on a log with a seventh turtle treading water in the background
a row of red-eared sliders sun themselves on a log in a small urban pond. a seventh turtle treads water in the background. as soon as seattle gets warm again i’m going to be all of these turtles.

No new post this week while I head home from my vacation! Instead, here are a few articles from the past few weeks that I liked.

I Figured I Would Never Find Another: On Being a Queer Asian American Buddhist by E. Alex Jung

It’s pride month! I haven’t been Buddhist for long, but maybe for long enough. Anyway, I loved this post about finding intersections between some of the biggest aspects of who we are.

“In Buddhism we talk about getting to the top of a mountain as a metaphor for enlightenment: we all have the goal of getting to the peak (enlightenment), but people take different paths to get there, and not any of them are incorrect. Understanding this concept has led me to embrace my queerness this past year. Early last year, I felt my queer experience was inauthentic or invalid because I came to my queer awakening during a college humanities class. All the queer depictions in media were of people who knew they were ‘not straight’ when they were young, so who was I to call myself queer at twenty years old? But similarly to how some people take longer paths to get up the mountain, it takes other people longer to understand themselves and their sexuality—again, neither are wrong. We are all just cells trying to find love.”

LGBTQ Politicians Won’t Save Us by Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Another Pride Month reminder that being queer alone doesn’t make you for queers. An article about the Fire Island Pines Property Owners Association in New York honoring u.s. Rep Ritchie Torres this month. ACT UP NY is relevant today and speaking out for Palestinian liberation. Stay vigilant, folks!

While Torres is openly gay, he’s also a loud and proud Zionist and has bolstered the power of the NYPD in his district even while claiming to be in favor of police reform. FIPPOA’s decision to honor Torres as a “trailblazer” is built on the flawed idea that “representation” and one’s identities are the only markers of progress and radical change. That Torres is technically the  first openly gay public official in the Bronx is seemingly worthy of celebration and heroic honor in the eyes of FIPPOA. Never mind that his alliances with the NYPD in his home district and the IDF abroad go against everything true queer liberation stands for.

Everyone Into The Grinder by Hamilton Nolan

I think society could use more “we’re all in this together” feelings. The first two weeks at the start of the pandemic felt nice. We lost it as soon as the wealthy figured out how to insulate themselves from most consequences. Targeted Universalism recommends targeted strategies based on a universal goal. This article makes the case that we need to get everyone back together, first.

Rich kids should go to public schools. The mayor should ride the subway to work. When wealthy people get sick, they should be sent to public hospitals. Business executives should have to stand in the same airport security lines as everyone else. The very fact that people want to buy their way out of all of these experiences points to the reason why they shouldn’t be able to. Private schools and private limos and private doctors and private security are all pressure release valves that eliminate the friction that would cause powerful people to call for all of these bad things to get better. The degree to which we allow the rich to insulate themselves from the unpleasant reality that others are forced to experience is directly related to how long that reality is allowed to stay unpleasant. When they are left with no other option, rich people will force improvement in public systems. Their public spirit will be infinitely less urgent when they are contemplating these things from afar than when they are sitting in a hot ER waiting room for six hours themselves.

Surveillance Pricing by Cory Doctorow

If you know me IRL I’ve sent you this article. A horrifying breakdown of all the ways companies make money and you can’t keep enough of it.

[W]eaponized credulity is totally on-brand for the pro-monopoly revolution. It’s the same wishful thinking that led regulators to encourage monopolies while insisting that it would be possible to prevent “bad” monopolies from raising prices. And, as with monopolies, “personalized pricing” leads to an overall increase in prices. In econspeak, it is a “transfer of wealth from consumer to the seller.”

 

“Personalized pricing” is one of those cuddly euphemisms that should make the hair on the back of your neck stand up. A more apt name for this practice is surveillance pricing, because the “personalization” depends on the vast underground empire of nonconsensual data-harvesting, a gnarly hairball of ad-tech companies, data-brokers, and digital devices with built-in surveillance, from smart speakers to cars.

photo of josh martinez

my name is josh martinez. i have always loved trying to understand systems, and the systems that built those systems. i spend a lot of time thinking about how to get there from here.

i own and operate a consulting practice, Future Emergent.

say hello: josh[at]bethefuture.space