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Interesting Links for 03-06-2014

Original post on Dreamwidth - there are comment count unavailable comments there.

Wow, that's a really good article about Laverne and language. I know enough to refer to people as they prefer to be, but otherwise have a very deep "I don't get it" with trans issues.

But THAT article helps. Thank you.

Glad it helps!

I think it helps to remember that it's none of my business what genes, genitalia, or other body-characteristics a person has unless I am involved in very specific kinds of relationship with them.

But if someone wants to be referred to in a particular way, and that's not causing anything awful to happen (like fraud, or people taking their medical advice seriously), then it's simple politeness to do so.

Yes, really good article and I particularly appreciated the Gillian McKeith exception ;)

I find it really quite boggling how incredibly hateful and rude some people are over these issues.

I think it is a nice article but the author may be astonished to know that many people are *very bad* at respecting change-of-name (or a lack of change-of-name that they expected to happen) even without the new name being differently gendered to the old one.

There is that. But much as it infuriates me when people ignore the fact that I kept my own name when I got married, and when one of my old school friends refuses to use my title, I don't think it is really undermining my identity the way that intentionally misgendering people does. But then being married and having a PhD are privileges and I suppose not all the examples you could come up with are.

Which is not to say that I thought you were arguing that they were equivalent, just musing about the issue in general.

Oh indeed! The author of the linked piece says (paraphrased) "just as you would simply accept a name-change you should simply accept pronoun changes" which I don't think works as a comparison because people don't "simply accept" name changes!

(I often find people say "oh you shouldn't do PREJUDICED THING because you would never do OTHER PREJUDICED THING" and... just no. Because people do OPT! For all values of OPT I have seen cited)

Aye – my mum, (in her day a slightly important feminist benchmark (first woman in Europe to qualify as a consultant doctor whilst working part-time) and who herself didn’t change her name the second time she got married) continues to address mail to my wife as Mrs My Last Name, despite my wife very and deliberately not changing her name.

It’s baffling.

I sometimes get called Mr. [spouse's surname] but that's mostly from telemarketeers; we both retained our names when we got married & that's reflected in our phonebook listing.

Yeah - that happens to me too. I know as soon as someone refers to me as Mr Spouse that it's a telemarketing call and I can safely hang up.

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of my mom's, L, about a person roughly my age (20s-30s) who's just gotten married and not changed her name. L told me that this person was frustrated at people addressing her as Mrs. Husbandsname (or addressing them as a couple as Mr. & Mrs. Husbandsname, with no mention of her names anywhere!). L understood the frustration intellectually but she said in practice it was very difficult for her to not address a married woman as Mrs. Husbandsname; it went against everything she'd been taught about being polite and respectful.
As far as I can tell (though I may be misrepresenting this as it's foreign to me), L and my mom and their generation were led to believe that there are hard and fast rules about what is and what isn't polite, and that these rules apply to everyone. Respect or offense can therefore be implied and inferred solely from manners.‎ 

And so they find it hard to extract the intention from the act. I tried to help L separate her good intention -- to be respectful -- from the thing she'd customarily do to show that respect. It was a big leap for her: clearly until quite recently she had no need for a distinction between a desire to show respect and an action that went along with it. And she could be confident that the respect would universally be understood and appreciated as such because everybody she was likely to interact with knew the same rules she did. But now, suddenly the polite act would not necessarily be taken as it was intended. 

I think it must seem very weird, to have these rules that have served you well most of your sixty-some years on the planet subverted by a subsequent generation who emphasize the importance of context and personal preference. It can look like swapping a bedrock foundation of certainty for a vague, nebulous world where you have to work out everything afresh for each new person you interact with. My mom and her friends are fundamentally nice people; they don't enjoy going against someone's ‎explicit wishes, but the bone-deep indoctrination and decades-long habit of "good manners" is going to cause some distress, some cognitive dissonance, if they defy it, especially if they feel they have to leave their bedrock and move to constantly shifting sands.

This kind of cognitive dissonance is going to happen with any culture-clash, of course, but I think it's especially profound when it's to do with politeness and manners. Because manners exist to keep us from having to think too much about how we interact with people, as the point of them is to offer a pre-ordained way to deal with pretty much anything. They allow us to tell ourselves "well, I don't know why Mrs. Husbandsname was so upset, I was doing my best! I was trying, wasn't I? I only want to be nice!" We can avoid as much responsibility for the effects of our behavior as we like, safe in the knowledge that we can blame the vague authority of manners which, being bigger than any one of us, knows better than we do what's good for us.

So I can't say it baffles me. I don't like it, but I do understand it. And I'm grateful it only took me a year after I got married for my mom and my grandma to stop calling me Mrs. Hickey.‎

That's helpful and interesting.

Thank you.

I'm very glad to hear it! That's exactly what I was aiming for. But I know I often miss that aim when I end up writing long screeds to strangers in the middle of the night. :)

I really enjoyed writing this comment and all the thinking I had to do to get it written, so thanks for giving me the impetus to do that.

I can understand that.

Although it's now been in popular usage since the 1950s, you'd think that they'd have had time to adjust...

Well obviously I am only speaking about my own little weird corner of the world here, because that's all I can do. But in that case, I wouldn't expect them to adjust, actually. They still haven't adjusted to divorce ever being anything but a shame, or interracial marriages being okay, and those things have been happening for at least that long too. But they haven't been happening around them, or not enough for my parents' and grandparents' generations to think anything other than vague discomfort at such notions. Change happens so slowly in homogeneous communities.

I agree.

But at that point you're clearly into the "You're just being a dick" territory rather than arguing over what sex someone _really_ is, and ending up throwing definitions at each other.

As far as I can tell, net neutrality is a collection of poorly specified bullshit workarounds for lack of proper competition in the last mile ISP market.

I'm not sure I agree.

While last-mile competition is great, I'm not happy relying on competition to drive everything, and I think that basic standards are a good thing.

And as a basic standard "You shall not fuck with data because it's in competition with your own products/you don't like it." is a good one.

One of the things I don't understand about net neutrality is why it has been imported from the US to the EU. Here our last mile ISPs have much lower prices and better performance than in the US, and we generally don't hear about stupidities like that recent Level 3 blog post. The usual observation is that there is a positive correlation between competition and performance, both in the US and the EU.

I think that concepts like net neutrality and common carriers are nice, but the principles and arguments seem to have more to do with civil liberties and censorship than with performance and cost-effectiveness. So I don't think net neutrality can fix the streaming video performance problem, or even fix different quality of service between an ISP's own video services and those from competitors: after all, a congested peering point drops packets neutrally without regard to their contents, source, or destination. The way to fix that is to force the ISP to upgrade their peering so it isn't congested, or force them to host co-located fan-out proxies for competitors' video services on their network. And I don't see how a high-minded regulation about fair packet forwarding can reasonably lead to that kind of heavy-handed outcome without having horrible side-effects.

So when I say "bullshit" I mean that net neutrality proponents seem to be dressing up a problem of bad service as (almost) a failure of human rights in order to justify regulation. But the regulation is in the wrong place, because in practice we observe that proper competition is enough to address the original problem (as opposed to its window dressing).

The other thing about net neutrality in the EU that puzzles me is how odd it is as a political strategy. Dressing it up as freedom of speech clearly plays well in the US where they give that a much higher priority than our governments do. Here there is a much greater enthusiasm in government (and in the tabloid press) for censorship. So are the EU net neutrality people importing it to fight that? Are they casting ISPs as the bad guys because they have capitulated to government demands? But I haven't seen any arguments along these lines - it looks to me more like copy-cat lobbying: "look, they have net neutrality over there, we should have it too!"

Oh, I think the level 3 thing was blown out of proportion - there has always been paid peering, and if you're trying to significantly transfer more data than your opposite number are currently dealing with then you'll have to come to some kind of arrangement.

I think that the argument is that if you're with, say, Comcast, and they have a deal with Hulu, then you don't want them streaming stuff in from Hulu's external servers faster than they stream stuff in from Netflix's external servers. But then they'll just put a cache in their network for their supported services anyway.

Having competition over the last mile certainly has made a big difference in the UK, and I'm not knocking it. But I can understand that people don't want to give their ISP any kind of control over the content they deliver - they want big, dumb, pipes.

I don't think net neutrality regulation will save users from getting small dumb pipes.

"proper competition" is exactly one of the things net neutrality is about.
If the conglomerate which owns my ISP (which has a monopoly in my area; arguably a "natural" monopoly) also owns a movie studio, it wants to discourage me from watching Brand X movies, whose owner also owns ISP company Z. So they slow down my streaming of Brand X movies unless Z pays danegeld a premium.
I pay my ISP to send my 1s and 0s back and forth. If they can double-charge the parties at the other ends, it's pure rent seeking, not to mention corporate censoring.
Permitting an ISP to select which 1s and 0s it will give first, second, and third class transportation is wildly anti-competitive. I really don't think Google's network would throttle queries to bing, but net neutrality would prevent it.

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