Some links for you

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Well, I’ve made a substack. If you are one of the 6 subscribers I picked up when I posted about it on Twitter, welcome. The basic idea here is that I see a lot of stuff online, and some of it seems worth highlighting. So here’s some things that I noticed this week: 

A Better Body Is Possible. These Anarchist Biohackers Want to Build It - Motherboard reports from “Please Try this at Home,” a biohacking conference built around transgender medical issues. Due to structural deficiencies and biases in the medical bureaucracy, transgender people often can’t get the care they need. Rather than roll over and let the system win, this conference essentially tells the powers that be in the medical world “we’ll do it ourselves.”  

The problem with complaining that ‘everyone’s an Iran expert now’ - Earlier this month Twitter became a whirlwind of hot takes on Iran, some right, many wrong, and almost all before anyone knew anything conclusively. This is a common occurrence. So who should we listen to? The internet has changed this dynamic. As Tom Whitton writes: 

But that’s not to say that “expertise” is something we ought to huffily defend from the top down. After all, when it comes to something like the present conflict in the Middle East, who are the experts, really? Should some foreign policy journalists with access to Washington sources be trusted more than, for instance, the guy who used to tweet under the handle @PissPigGranddad who went to fight for the Kurdish leftist YPG militia in Rojava? Do ordinary Iranians, whose lives and families will be directly affected by this conflict, or dissenting US veterans count as experts or not? Are they really less well-informed than the former Bush administration officials being wheeled out as foreign policy “experts”?

I am always on the lookout for situations where a person with on-the-ground or deep experience, but no traditional credentials, is pointing out a flaw in the prevailing narrative. 

It’s also why I really do not like the proposed Twitter feature that will let only a select group of people reply to a tweet. If someone is saying something wrong there should be an option to reply and say why. Of course it should be done politely, but framing this new feature as solely a tool to curb harassment ignores how it can be easily abused.

There was apparently a “meme salon” at Davos, where attendees could “come together to maximize [their] collective impact” and “discuss memes for the Golden Decade.” Let’s imagine what this would probably look like: a bunch of boomers in suits, nursing Moet hangovers, wondering how we can encourage kids to create memes that push us toward a more orderly society. I think it’s a great idea. The World Economic Forum should post videos of its speakers in front of green backgrounds and let the memeing begin! 

Jokes aside, my friends at the Neoliberal Project have had some success in this area. So if you’re into global economic development memes that’s probably the place the go. 

On Davos, The Guardian published a widely ridiculed op-ed entitled “I co-founded Occupy Wall Street. Now I'm headed to Davos. Why?” The article makes a simple case, that by ignoring the glitz and glamor of keynotes and parties, he can bring his radical message to the quiet aside meetings and private roundtables. Sure, but the reason people made fun of it is similarly simple. No one believes any kind of change is going to come from the World Economic Forum. Who knows, maybe he will convince one or two people to maybe hire an activist-in-residence at their energy concern. And hey, he gets to go to Davos. 

The New Urbanist Memes for Transit-Oriented Teens Facebook group, which has over 180,000 members, announced its endorsement of Bernie Sanders. It might seem crazy that this is newsworthy, but I am dead serious. The group itself is a place for people to share news and jokes about how great public transit and bike lane infrastructure are. These are ideas that are growing in popularity, with this group being a sort of content engine. Winning over content engines gets your message out through their far reaching grassroots network, which I think over time gets you a lot further than something like a New York Times endorsement.

Finally, the best thing I saw this week was easily this parody of the typical “Ben Shapiro DESTROYS college liberal” youtube video. There’s not much to say. It’s perfect.