Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Helpful Action Steps

A friend shared this post on Facebook yesterday. It's by Arden Leigh, a writer and lead singer in a band who lives in Los Angeles:

Hey guys (straight white men in particular), I've been having trouble lately with feeling like I have to redirect your good intentions in feminist allyship into helpful action steps. I'm happy giving you benefit of the doubt that you really do mean well but are maybe unclear on what to do.

So here's an advanced guide for good guys who want to be helpful online when a woman shares a post or article about a feminist issue.

These things are unhelpful:
  • Acting shocked that men do these things
  • Proclaiming that you are a good dude who already knows and applies this
  • Repeating the exact sentiment a woman just expressed but using different words as if somehow your version is pithier
  • Debating the specifics of the post with the woman who posted it (asking for genuine clarification is ok)
These things are neutral:
  • Clicking like
  • Commenting "Thanks for posting, I agree"
These things are ACTUALLY HELPFUL:
  • Sharing/amplifying the woman's post on your feed
  • Sharing the post with your guy friends
  • Tagging several of your guy friends in the comments and saying "hey did you know this was an issue? Let's try to do better"
  • Starting actual in-real-life conversations with your guy friends about the article you read even though there are no women present and you will get no immediate cookies for your wokeness
  • Educating the doofuses in the woman's comments section who are still so trapped in their misogyny that they will only listen to you, A Man™
  • Defending the woman against the trolls who attack her so she knows at least some dudes have her back, even if the troll is a hopeless case
  • Actually examining yourself for places you might fit the description of the article's complaint, despite your self-identification as a good woke dude
  • Encouraging your fellow men to do the same
  • Bringing up the topic to other men in other speeches/groups you lead (best if you credit the woman who brought it to your attention)
I'm just really tired of all the guys on here who clearly want to self-identify as nice woke dudes but who won't do anything beyond proclaiming themselves to be nice woke dudes. I can say I'm the Queen of England all damn day but that doesn't mean I actually am. Please starting walking your talk.
I'm not going to click the "view previous comments" link after Arden's post, but from the comments I can see just after that, there must be all sorts of men on there doing the exact opposite of Arden's advice. The one I can see says, "So now there's rules on how to show support? Smh. Got it."

You get the idea. I recognized many of her actually helpful acts as things I have hoped for from male friends, but even more, I recognized that these rules apply to me as a white person when it comes to racism and white supremacy. Do I follow these suggestions? Not nearly enough.

Arden's list both gives me a path forward, and a chance to examine my own behavior and, by analogy, the behavior of men who don't do these things when it comes to sexism and patriarchy.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Off the Rails

I just took a trip by Amtrak to central New York, via the Empire Builder to Chicago, then the Lake Shore Limited along the south end of several Great Lakes to the Finger Lakes region. In between the train trips, I saw this vehicle in a hotel parking lot:

I guess railroad crews who work the tracks have to stay over night somewhere, just like the rest of us!

It did make me wonder, though, what would happen if I pressed the buttons or pulled the red lever on the front bumper.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Four from the Past

These aren't from my basement, literally, but they're all things I saw recently in antique stores or used book stores.

This is the top of a poster case from an early 20th century theater.

Stylistically, I'd place this point-of-purchase advertisement in maybe the 1950s... but I have to say, I think the damage amount claimed is highly exaggerated. Using 1955 as a year, the equivalent dollar amount in 2016 would be more than $3.6 billion. Does anyone believe that?

This sign caught my attention because Valspar is a Minneapolis company, and the sign was nowhere near Minneapolis when I saw it. But then I noticed the circular illustration in the center. What are those people doing? The smiling, besuited man is either pouring water onto a burning table to put out a fire, or pouring burning oil onto the table. Meanwhile, the chicly dressed woman looks on in chin-touching fascination. What does this have to do with selling paint?

The final photo is a terrible shot. This safe was behind the desk at a used book store. I asked if I could photograph the lettering and they said yes, but I couldn't get close enough to it. So squint your eyes a bit when you look at it to appreciate the 1920s-era lettering. The words, though, are ominous: "Warning! This property is protected by chemical warfare gas."

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Racing Out of Their Spaces

I'm in favor of the more active-looking disability icon, but when you see several of them in a row in a parking lot... starts to look like a race. Which is fine, I guess, but a tad distracting. I can get used to it, though.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Negative Space, Positive Logo

Wow, two posts about current logos that I like, seen within a few days of each other. It must be my new, positive outlook on the world affecting my judgment (here's the previous post).

Today's logo is one I saw in a rural hospital. It's not their main logo, but rather one to publicize their request for patient feedback:

I saw the leaf first, then the walking figure in the negative space. The green shades differentiate the parts of the leaf a bit better in person than they do in my photo.

Friday, July 21, 2017

How to Make Six Outets into Three

Today I had one of those modern-age moments. You know how older houses don't have enough outlets for all of our electronics these days, so people plug in power strips to make more outlets?

But who designed these power strips? Have they done any user testing? Here's an example:

This strip has six outlets in it, with a window air conditioning unit plugged in. But because the plug is grounded (of course), and has lots of extra stuff built in, the plug covers up two more of the available outlets than it's using.

And note that even a fourth outlet is unusable by other grounded plugs, because the air conditioner cord sticks out in front of the ground opening.

All the designers of the power strip would have to do is rotate the outlets 180 degrees along the strip, so that plugs with big dongly bits could run off the end instead of covering up the other outlets. But no.

This is the kind of thing that 99 percent of science fiction writers get wrong about the future. It will have just as many stupid details as the past.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

A Sad But Beautiful Sign

Old motel signs are a favorite of mine. It's a joy to see one that has been maintained and sad to see one that hasn't... yet there's a different kind of beauty in a weathered, half-destroyed sign, too.

This sign is on Brewerton Road in North Syracuse, New York, almost right across the street from Julie's Diner (where I stopped for lunch, upon recommendation from Michael Leddy).

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

A New Lutheran Social Service Logo

Lutheran Social Services has a new logo. And what do you know, it's a major improvement over their old one!


Boring, if readable, type (Palatino... very desktop-publishing-1987-looking). Colors that seem to evoke the old Norwest Bank identity (it's a Minnesota thing, sorry if it doesn't resonate for you). And that symbol... what is it? Someone playing ultimate frisbee?


The now bolder, sans serif type is still readable (and better for social media and web uses). The colors have a lot more pop. And the designers have made a clever LS interaction that combines to make a heart with a burning flame atop, referring to classic Christian iconography without looking stodgy.

A+ for LSS!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Farms Were Not Always What We Think They Are

Here's an etymology fact you may not have known (I didn't): the noun farm comes from Old French, ferme, "a rent or lease." It originally meant "fixed payment" rather than a place where you grow food. It comes from the Latin word firma, which also meant fixed payment, which itself came from firmare (to fix, settle, strengthen) and firmus (strong, stable).

This English meaning is from the 13th century. (Farm comes from the same root as the noun firm, meaning "business house," which dates from 1744, though it came to its present meaning along a different path.)

According to etymonline, the sense of farm meaning "tract of land" was first recorded in the 14th century, but "cultivated land" didn't come into use until 1520. The verb we all use today (to farm crops) didn't come into use until 1719. There was an earlier verb form that meant to rent or lease, and the current phrase "to farm out" is a remnant of that.

So farm, in its original sense, was all about being in debt to or renting from a land owner; essentially serfdom or tenancy. Serf comes from the Latin word servum or "slave," but it lost that meaning by the 18th century, when it had come to mean the "lowest class of cultivators of the soil in continental European countries."

Farmer, ironically, was originally the person who collected the taxes (14th century). The agricultural sense of farmer became common in the very late 16th century, when it replaced the magnificent word churl. These days, churl is an insult, but its earlier meaning was simply "man of the common people" or "country man."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Which Side Are They on?

I don't have a lot to say on this day when yet another Minnesota cop has shot and killed an unarmed citizen. But I did see this cartoon recently that tied together a few things:

Sunday, July 16, 2017

The Modern Library

I'm not quite sure what year this cartoon is from... I guess it says ’98 in the signature. It was co-created by Janice and Anthony Peyton Porter of Minneapolis.

Pretty relevant, huh?

Saturday, July 15, 2017

The Least We Could Do

Jeronimo Yanez may have been found not guilty of manslaughter, even though he shot and killed Philando Castile without reason. But that doesn't mean Yanez is innocent.

I thought we all knew by now that "not guilty" does not equal "innocent." You are not found innocent in a trial. You are found not guilty by a reasonable doubt.

Given that, and the circumstances of Castile's death, our governor, Mark Dayton, has decided to name a newly announced police training fund after Philando Castile. This seems like the best outcome still possible, given that a jury and judge have failed to find justice in this case.

The police unions, of course, immediately denounced the idea, and several letter writers in the newspapers have echoed their point of view. The writers always include the detail that Yanez was "found innocent." No, he wasn't, and he's the poster child for police training in deescalation. Not to mention (in his case) non-escalation in the first place, since he was entirely responsible for everything that led to Castile's killing.

As a child at Castile's school put it:

Naming the fund after Castile is the least we can do. It's more than "nothing" happening. It means his name will be remembered and cops will be reminded how not to act even when they aren't at a training.