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Daily Archive: October 8, 2017

Sunday

8

October 2017

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COMMENTS

Crash Override by Zoë Quinn

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Five Stars

Best for: Everyone who spends time online. So, you know, all of us.

In a nutshell: Video game designer who experienced the hell of online attacks tells her story and provides us all with the tools to fight back.

Line that sticks with me: So many! But this is a great one: “Pretty much everything we’ve been told about dealing with online abuse is wrong, but the misconception that ‘trolls’ will just go away if they’re ignored is possibly the most damaging.”

Why I chose it: My husband purchased it (he’s works in the same field as Ms. Quinn), and I was excited for the opportunity to read about how she’s handled the abuse and what she is working on these days.

Review:
You may have heard of Zoë Quinn. She is the incredibly talented video game designer behind Depression Quest. Unfortunately, you may be more familiar with her as the person viciously targeted by an abusive ex-boyfriend in what eventually became known as GamerGate.

In this well-written and incredibly relevant book, Ms. Quinn shares her story. We hear first-hand about what it can be like to be in the center of a near-literal shit storm, and learn about how she worked (and is still working) through it. This changed her life. She went from being a couple of weeks away from moving with her boyfriend to France (where he was to start a new job) to having to couch surf and eventually leave her home in Boston because of the harassment.

The men who decided that they would believe Ms. Quinn’s abuser went after her like a mob. They targeted her online presence from multiple angles, but also doxxed her, finding out her phone number, her address, her dad’s phone number. Anyone who spoke out in her support — especially those who work in her industry — as also targeted. She, and those associated with her, have had to take very serious security precautions, to the point where she urges people to not share her location if they see her in public.

Instead of disappearing, though, Ms. Quinn has been a vocal advocate for change in our systems. She spends time in this book discussing the ways law enforcement is ill equipped to handle this, including how the system of restraining orders can actually make contact with abusers unavoidable (via court appearances) as well as make personal information readily available (as most of these orders require the petitioner to provide their address and phone number). More importantly, Ms. Quinn is quite aware that involving the police is not something a lot of people want to do if they are part of a group that has a history of being treated poorly by law enforcement. She has also been trying to work with tech companies that, as she points out, can somehow quickly ban for life a person who posts copyrighted Olympics footage, but claim their hands are tied with people spewing death threats.

Another thing that has come from this is that Ms. Quinn and her former boyfriend Alex started Crash Override to assist others who are being targeted by online abuse. They — along with unnamed agents — help people address the abuse, from assisting with gaining back control of hacked accounts to escalating issues at tech companies. They are temporarily not taking new cases, but have a wealth of resources available on their website to help people navigate the systems.

Some of this book will get your blood boiling, because it’s so frustrating to read tech companies essentially doing the bare minimum and not taking the steps that exist to help fix things. Its infuriating to learn that a judge could say with a straight face that Ms. Quinn should just find a new line of work, as though that should be an acceptable outcome of the abuse her ex boyfriend instigated. It’s frustrating that this is all continuing today, on a regular basis.

One thing I also wanted to mention is that Ms. Quinn is good at pointing out that her story is just her story, and that other people — especially people of color and trans people — also experience this kind of harassment, and, unless famous, usually are ignored. I appreciate that she is focused on finding solutions that will work for the most marginalized, not just people like her, who have some measure of privilege.

Please go read this book.

Sunday

8

October 2017

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COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – October 8, 2017

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Horrific Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Action

“For most Americans, especially young ones, it’s easy to picture Amanda’s situation. $800 is an insane amount of money. According to Forbes, as of 2016, 63 percent of Americans don’t have $500 saved to cover an emergency. In March of 2017, CNBC reported that, according to a study by the health care information firm Amnio, more than one-third of Americans said they could not afford an unexpected medical bill for more than $100 without going into debt. Sixty percent claimed receiving a medical bill they could not afford would be as bad or worse than being diagnosed with a serious illness.” The 20-Week Abortion Ban is Designed to Hurt Poor Women (by Jennifer Wright for Harper’s Bazaar)

Reproductive Health

“To be honest, the choice not to have kids never really felt like a choice to me. I just never felt any way but one way, and that way didn’t include raising a child. My procedure in January 2014 wasn’t very memorable. I didn’t have sweeping emotions or feel grand waves of independence. A friend came with me, and we read magazines before I was called for surgery. I woke up cold and groggy after the anesthesia wore off. Another friend came to bring me home. I had some pain. I spent a few days relaxing in bed, and then returned to work and my typical day-to-day shenanigans.” I Tied My Tubes at Age 31. And It’s Not Up for Discussion. (by Laure Himiak for Rewire)

Gun Violence

“In this, Hodgkinson fits a pattern. As Rebecca Traister has written, for New York magazine, “what perpetrators of terrorist attacks turn out to often have in common more than any particular religion or ideology, are histories of domestic violence.” Traister cites Mohamed Lahouaiej Bouhlel, who drove a truck through a Bastille Day crowd in Nice, last summer, and Omar Mateen, the Pulse night-club shooter. She also cites Robert Lewis Dear, who killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, in 2015. According to Traister, “two of his three ex-wives reportedly accused him of domestic abuse, and he had been arrested in 1992 for rape and sexual violence.”” The Link Between Domestic Violence and Mass Shootings (by Jane Mayer for The New Yorker)

White Nationalism

“These new emails and documents, however, clearly show that Breitbart does more than tolerate the most hate-filled, racist voices of the alt-right. It thrives on them, fueling and being fueled by some of the most toxic beliefs on the political spectrum — and clearing the way for them to enter the American mainstream. It’s a relationship illustrated most starkly by a previously unreleased April 2016 video in which Yiannopoulos sings “America the Beautiful” in a Dallas karaoke bar as admirers, including the white nationalist Richard Spencer, raise their arms in Nazi salutes. These documents chart the Breitbart alt-right universe. They reveal how the website — and, in particular, Yiannopoulos — links the Mercer family, the billionaires who fund Breitbart, to underpaid trolls who fill it with provocative content, and to extremists striving to create a white ethnostate.” Here’s How Breitbart And Milo Smuggled Nazi and White Nationalist Ideas Into The Mainstream (by Joseph Bernstein for Buzzfeed)

“But a Buzzfeed News investigation has found that Breitbart didn’t just tolerate those white supremacist views that Bannon denounced on 60 Minutes; it actively allowed them to flourish. One of the key figures in the investigation was provocateur Milo Yiannopolous, a former senior editor at Breitbart, who was a link connecting far-right trolls and white supremacists with Steve Bannon and Breitbart’s powerful allies, like hedge-fund billionaire Robert Mercer.” Expose on Breitbart proves the ‘alt-right’ is just a euphemism for white supremacists (by Luke Barnes for ThinkProgress)

Sexism in Sport

“On Friday, the situation escalated when a group of former players published an open letter criticizing the federation. “We, the players, have invested years of our own lives and all of our energy to build this team and this sport to its strength today,” read the letter, which was signed by eight former players, including Cristiane and Francielle as well as the former World Cup stars Sissi, Rosana and Formiga. “Yet we, and almost all other Brazilian women, are excluded from the leadership and decision-making for our own team and our own sport.”” Brazil’s Women Soccer Players in Revolt Against Federation (by Tariq Panja for New York Times)

Death, Dying, and Grief

“This kind of “reporting” does nothing to bring people together. It is offensive, cruel, unnecessary. The overload of imagery, graphic imagery, burns out our empathy, fries our hearts, infects our minds with things we can’t un-see, things we had no right to see. Is this ever appropriate? Yes. Yes, maybe. The only time this might be appropriate, the only time having your intimate experience of pain and loss spread across those wide channels of “news” or social media is if it comes with a strong, swift call to action: if it gives you a place to help.” Have You Been the News? When Private Pain Is a Public Spectacle. (by Megan Divine for HuffPost; reposted in light of the Las Vegas shooting)

“But it’s not always this simple. It’s true that categorizing any death as “good” is radical in our death-fearing society, but lurking behind this movement is a complicated disparity and dichotomy: A good death is often a privileged one, and the bad deaths — the violent, untimely, unexpected and patterned deaths — are disproportionately experienced by the country’s most marginalized people.” Who Gets To Have A ‘Good Death’? (by Tessa Love for The Establishment)

Sunday

8

October 2017

0

COMMENTS

Playing Dead by Elizabeth Greenwood

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for: Anyone interested in a good (failed) crime story, or the human desire to just leave it all behind.

In a nutshell: Author Elizabeth Greenwood explores the lengths (mostly men, usually arrogant) go through to leave behind their lives.

Line that sticks with me: N/A (didn’t have a pen with me when reading it)

Why I chose it: Do you listen to the “Wine and Crime” podcast? Because it’s great. And they did a whole episode on faking one’s death, including an interview with the author.

Review:
It started with an idea the author had, after realizing how much student loan debt she had, and how unlikely it would be that she could pay it off any time soon. And since student loan debt can’t be discharged through bankruptcy, the author briefly flirted with the fantasy of just leaving it behind the only way she could – if she ‘died.’

While she didn’t end up faking her own death (at least, not exactly, although she does have her own death certificate, courtesy of a contact in the Philippines), she decided to look into the people who do fake their own deaths.

Of course because of the nature of the topic, Ms. Greenwood can only discuss people who failed at faking their own death. There are people who have succeeded, I’m sure, but because they did, we don’t know they did. And while the people who fake their own deaths (and get caught) are overwhelmingly men, it’s unclear if there are women who do it and are just more successful at it, or if women are less likely to do it because they generally feel less able to walk away.

Ms. Greenwood doesn’t just focus on the people who do the faking – she also talks to the investigators who look into possible life insurance fraud, as well as the children whose fathers left. And in one unexpected chapter, she looks into those who believe that famous people (namely, Michael Jackson fans) faked their own deaths.

This is, admittedly, my kind of book. I enjoy books that look into death and crime, and I enjoy non-fiction. So while I was already primed to enjoy it, I think I am being fair when I say that this is a really good book.