You know you are a woman who said something interesting on the internet when you receive death threats. It is like graduating but instead of smiling at your parents you cry to your pillow for several weeks when no one is around and contemplate your own worthlessness until you get angry and creative and emerge some sort of burning, fuschine dragon.
Cara Ellison, “Embed With… Nina Freeman”

Nullos esse deos, inanae caelum
adfirmat Segius: probatque, quod se
factum, dum negat haec, videt beatum

'There are no gods, there's no one in the skies',
Says Segius: and there’s proof
Would he be wealthy otherwise?

Martial, Epigrams 4.21. (A very free translation that improves the punchline, based on James Michie’s translation for Penguin Classics.)

One of the reasons the subordinate’s exercise of agency so agitates the conservative imagination is that it takes place in an intimate setting. Every great political blast—the storming of the Bastille, the taking of the Winter Palace, the March on Washington—is set off by a private fuse: the contest for rights and standing in the family, the factory, and the field. Politicians and parties talk of constitution and amendment, natural rights and inherited privileges. But the real subject of their deliberations is the private life of power. “Here is the secret of the opposition to woman’s equality in the state,” Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote. “Men are not ready to recognize it in the home.” Behind the riot in the street or debate in Parliament is the maid talking back to her mistress, the worker disobeying her boss. That is why our political arguments—not only about the family but also the welfare state, civil rights, and much else—can be so explosive: they touch upon the most personal relations of power.

Still, the more profound and prophetic stance on the right has been Adams’s: cede the field of the public, if you must, stand fast in the private. Allow men and women to become democratic citizens of the state; make sure they remain feudal subjects in the family, the factory, and the field. The priority of conservative political argument has been the maintenance of private regimes of power—even at the cost of the strength and integrity of the state….

Conservatism, then, is not a commitment to limited government and liberty—or a wariness of change, a belief in evolutionary reform, or a politics of virtue. These may be the byproducts of conservatism, one or more of its historically specific and ever changing modes of expression. But they are not its animating purpose.

Neither is conservatism a makeshift fusion of capitalists, Christians, and warriors, for that fusion is impelled by a more elemental force—the opposition to the liberation of men and women from the fetters of their superiors, particularly in the private sphere. Such a view might seem miles away from the libertarian defense of the free market, with its celebration of the atomistic and autonomous individual. But it is not. When the libertarian looks out upon society, he does not see isolated individuals; he sees private, often hierarchical, groups, where a father governs his family and an owner his employees.

Corey Robin, “The Reactionary Mind”


The Enlightenment - for whom? The Industrial Revolution - for whom? The Space Age - for whom? I began to wonder if I was living in a Golden Dark Age of Reason.
Jem Cohen, introducing “This is a History of New York”

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see the beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who has heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.

Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?

I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical

with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

Margaret Atwood, “Siren Song”
Half the shouting and social upheaval on the internet today comes from entrenched groups who are outraged to learn that their opinions and views are not universally agreed upon; the other half comes from those whose silence was previously mistaken for assent.
Charles Stross, YAPC::NA 2014 keynote
For there hath Spaniardes come into these contries which, havinge lefte their consciences and all feare of God and men behinde them, have plaied the partes not of men, but of dragons and infidells, and, havinge no respecte of humanitie, have bene the cause that many Indians, that peradventure mighte have bene converted and saved, are deade by divers and sondrie kindes of deathes. And althoughe those people had not bene converted, yet if they had bene lett to live, they mighte have bene profitable to your Majestie and an aide unto the Christians…
This day the Masons finished a house which Captaine Fenton caused to be made of lyme and stone vpon the Countesse of Warwickes Island, to the ende we might proue against the next yeere, whither the snow could ouerwhelme it, the frost brake it vp, or the people dismember the same. And the better to allure those brutish and vnciuill people to courtesie against other times of our comming, we left therein diuers of our Countrey toyes, as belles, and kniues, wherein they specially delight, one for the necessary vse, and the other for the great pleasure thereof. Also pictures of men and women in lead, men on horsebacke, looking glasses, whistles, and pipes. Also in the house was made an Ouen, and bread left baked therein for them to see and taste. Also here we sowed pease, corne, and other graine, to proue the fruitfulnesse of the soyle against the next yeere.
We tend to be patronizing about the poor in a very specific sense, which is that we tend to think, “Why don’t they take more responsibility for their lives?” And what we are forgetting is that the richer you are the less responsibility you need to take for your own life because everything is taken care for you. And the poorer you are the more you have to be responsible for everything about your life….Stop berating people for not being responsible and start to think of ways instead of providing the poor with the luxury that we all have, which is that a lot of decisions are taken for us. If we do nothing, we are on the right track. For most of the poor, if they do nothing, they are on the wrong track.
Esther Duflo


Boarding children invariably construct a survival personality that endures long after school and operates strategically. On rigid timetables, in rule-bound institutions, they must be ever alert to staying out of trouble. Crucially, they must not look unhappy, childish or foolish – in any way vulnerable – or they will be bullied by their peers. So they dissociate from all these qualities, project them out on to others, and develop duplicitous personalities that are on the run, which is why ex-boarders make the best spies.
Nick Duffell, Why boarding schools produce bad leaders (Guardian, June 2014)
Unlike the hopes of Frankenstein’s monster, the cyborg does not expect its father to save it through a restoration of the garden… The cyborg does not dream of community on the model of the organic family, this time without the oedipal project. The cyborg would not recognize the Garden of Eden; it is not made of mud and cannot dream of returning to dust.
Donna Harraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto”
This is how we protect ourselves; the pain is there, and it is unendurable, and it is real, we find ways to make it not exist. I was patient for a very long time. I practiced zeroing out the experiences of pain so well that I didn’t even know what hurt and what didn’t, and even when it didn’t hurt the marks still left were real.

Two Legends


Black was the without eye
Black the within tongue
Black was the heart
Black the liver, black the lungs
Unable to suck in light
Black the blood in its loud tunnel
Black the bowels packed in furnace
Black too the muscles
Striving to pull out into the light
Black the nerves, black the brain
With its tombed visions
Black also the soul, the huge stammer
Of the cry that, welling, could not
Pronounce its sun.


Black is the wet otter’s head, lifted.
Black is the rock, plunging in foam
Black is the gall lying on the bed of the blood.

Black is the earth-globe, one inch under,
An egg of blackness
Where sun and moon alternate their weathers

To hatch a crow, a black rainbow
Bent in emptiness
over emptiness
But flying

Ted Hughes, “Crow”

The cultural narrative of masculinity says a woman who is a virgin is a prize, holding her “special gift” for a “special person”. A male (not a man, a male) is a failure. He is a boy, not a man. He is a failure, because masculinity is rated in two axis’ - in our capacity for sex and our capacity for violence. These are the two ways that men establish our masculine credentials: by being a stud or being a bad-ass.

And - critically - men cannot show weakness. To show weakness or emotion makes you less of a man; it makes you a pussy. Not even a woman, just a part of a woman, something to be fucked by “real men”.