Linkthing: When You Give Permission To Experiment, You Give Permission For Honest Mistakes

Stuff has been super busy forever. There is some possibility of them getting less busy soon, though, which may result in actually writing The Blogthings. Meantime, this is pretty good:

“What’s this?” you ask.

“It’s milk,” they say.

“That’s whole milk,” you say, hands trembling.  “I needed skim.”

“It just says ‘milk’ on the list.”

“How could you not know what kind of milk I needed?”

“I’m lactose-intolerant, remember?  I don’t drink milk.  And I thought you drank whole…”

“I’m on my diet!” you cry.  “The one I started two months ago!  And now whole milk tastes disgusting to me!  I can’t drink this!”

Now, look, it’s reasonable to be a little pissy about it, especially if you had your stomach set for a delicious glass of milk.  (Mmm, milk.  My favorite drink.)  And clarifying what you mean when you say “milk” is certainly an action item to be discussed on the endless list of Shit We Need To Get Straight.

But if it’s two weeks later, and you’re still sulking and snapping about the time your trusted your partner, and they came home with whole milk, then you guys have got some work to do.


But that’s often how it is when people are starting with beginning polyamory.

The grocery store is not a grocery store, but some new partner they’re unsure of.  And the worry is not that your lover is going to buy an extra box of cookies, but that they’re going to do That Sexual Thing That You’re Totally Not Okay With.

And the milk?  That’s the miscommunication.  That’s where they thought that “kissing” meant “making out” was okay, and stopped when it got too hot and heavy, yet what you meant was “a kiss goodnight.”  That’s where they thought “going out on a date” meant “they could hold hands in public.”  That’s where they thought “cuddling” involved sexual tension, and you distinctly did not.

That’s super-common behavior for a partner who’s not sure they’re poly yet: straightjacketing their partner’s every new interaction with a thousand rules.  And some relationships feel they need training wheels at first, so the other partner can be sure that their partner is trustworthy.  (Some small segment of of them even do need them.)

But here’s the thing: If you give your partner permission to experiment, you have to give them permission to make honest mistakes.

Go read the rest: When You Give Permission To Experiment, You Give Permission For Honest Mistakes

Link Roundup 3: Conversations About Communication Across Power Gradients

There have been a lot of conversations lately about communication between people with privilege and people without. This link roundup is going to be largely (though not entirely) centered around those, as I think it’s a very important thing to talk about and a lot of good things have been said. Anyone know other good posts in a similar vein?

The Distress of the Privileged: Maybe the best piece I’ve read about understanding both sides of a power dynamic. Complete with a brilliant analogy from the movie Pleasantville:

“So I think it’s worthwhile to spend a minute or two looking at the world from George Parker’s point of view: He’s a good 1950s TV father. He never set out to be the bad guy. He never meant to stifle his wife’s humanity or enforce a dull conformity on his kids. Nobody ever asked him whether the world should be black-and-white; it just was.

George never demanded a privileged role, he just uncritically accepted the role society assigned him and played it to the best of his ability. And now suddenly that society isn’t working for the people he loves, and they’re blaming him.

It seems so unfair. He doesn’t want anybody to be unhappy. He just wants dinner.

George deserves compassion, but his until-recently-ideal housewife Betty Parker (and the other characters assigned subservient roles) deserves justice. George and Betty’s claims are not equivalent, and if we treat them the same way, we do Betty an injustice.”

Aesop to the Right: Why I Believe Bristol Palin: Cited in the Distress of the Privileged piece, and also containing a brilliant analogy that explains why not including the underprivileged is so hurtful and damaging:

“I don’t think you hate me. I certainly don’t think you’re afraid of me. Neither is Bristol Palin. She probably even has LGBT people she calls friends. She just disagrees with them about whether they should be invited to the party (the party, in this case, being marriage). But here’s the problem: the basis of that disagreement is her belief that her relationships are intrinsically better than ours.”

Certain Propositions Regarding Callout Culture (in two parts):

“Not silencing people is not an option. Not silencing people is a great plan; I am totally okay with everyone being able to speak out. But not silencing anyone is not going to work. If you say “no, you have to stop yelling and insulting people,” you silence some of the people who are angry! about! INJUSTICE! On the other hand, if you let people yell insults whenever they like, you are silencing the people who are afraid that if they speak up they’ll be yelled at. And the second group is not going to loudly spew insults about how they’re being oppressed; they’re just going to be quiet and stop talking and censor themselves and eventually leave the movement altogether.”

How to Argue: Call Harm, Not Foul: The brilliant piece that spawned this post.

“The last generation of social justice warriors, anti-racists, feminists, outspoken atheists and activists of all stripes made the -isms and intolerances so abominable, that everyone has successfully convinced themselves they’re not it. Now, being called those things (racist, sexist, bigoted, etc) is so terrible that we end up arguing only about whether or not the label applies . And that’s a damn shame, because I have a lot of other things I want to talk about.”

Three Tips to Handle 500 Comments Landing in Your Inbox: An excellent piece by The Ferrett on dealing with shitty commenters. Required reading for any blogger.

“Once you get to a sufficient level of popularity, there is literally no avoiding people hating you.  Go on, seriously.  Name a celebrity.  Then Google up some haters.  Sure enough, someone fucking abhors them.  Why do you think you’re going to avoid this?”

Just Shut Up: A piece about the value of feminist media criticism, with Beauty and the Beast as an example.

“Gaston loses but stabs the Beast anyway before being thrown to his doom, the Beast more or less dies, but Belle loves him, which breaks the spell keeping him trapped as the Beast and saves his life. They, in theory, live happily ever after.

The film ended, and my professor flicked the light on. She passed out a handout we’d already received, a list of warning signs for domestic abusers. This list included things like, “Isolates partner from support systems—tries to keep them from family, friends, outside activities.” It included things like, “Attempts to control what partner wears, does, or sees.”…The Beast meets almost every criterion on the list, and those he doesn’t meet (“Was abused by a parent,” “Grew up in an abusive home,”) are only unmet in the sense that we have no way to know, from the narrative given to us, whether he meets them or not.”

Can Versus Must: a piece on confirmation bias and ways to manipulate your brain. Including the best one-sentence summary of how confirmation bias works I think I’ve ever seen: 

“It is, he says, as though we ask ourselves “CAN I believe this?” when we want to believe something and “MUST I believe this?” when we don’t want to believe it.”

How to Make Your Social Spaces Welcoming to Shy People: What it sounds like, a very good list, and something a lot of event organizers could take a lot from.

A picture of one of the best protest signs ever. Though it should be noted there could’ve been better word choices than “stupid”.

Link Roundup Two: The Linkening

While I’m working on fitting my life into a workable rhythm again, here’s another link roundup:




By ResearchToBeDone Posted in links

Inaugural Link Roundup

I’ve decided to steal adopt Miriam at Brute Reason‘s Occasional Link Roundup idea for myself. Here are a few of the things I’ve seen and liked around the internet lately:


 Social Justice:

  • Tim Wise Talk on White Privilege: I just discovered Tim Wise, and this is one of the best talks I’ve ever seen for explaining the realities of racism and white privilege in our society. Watch it all the way through if you’ve got time. Totally worth it.
  • Tim Wise Talk: Between Barack and a Hard Place: Similar to the talk I just linked, but a lot of new angles and details, and about an hour of Q&A at the end that I also found very informative.
  • Anita Sarkeesian’s TED Talk on Online Harassment: If you didn’t hear about this whole series of events, this is an excellent overview of Anita Sarkeesian’s experiences with online harassment and why it’s important to take this shit seriously.
  • Reasons to Be Proud in 2012: Victories and happy realities with respect to LGBT rights and visibility in 2012.
  • Miriam’s Social Justice Resources: As the kids are saying these days: READ ALL THE THINGS [on this page and you will be better informed about stuff]!



Pain Quote of the Day

About chronic pain, but also applies pretty well to depression. Just because it’s a brain problem doesn’t mean you can magically think it away:

Can we think pain away?

“Alas, no — pain neurology can’t be manipulated simply by wishing. The brain may powerfully control how we experience potentially threatening stimuli, but I’m sorry to report that you do not control your brain. Consciousness and “mind” are by-products of brain function and physiological state. (Deep, eh?) It’s not your opinion of sensory signals that counts, it’s what your brain thinks of it — and that happens quite independently of consciousness and self-awareness.”

Paul Ingraham

A Wonderful Video on the Future of Education

I have strong opinions about the state of our educational system today, and they are more or less that it takes an incredibly inadequate system to make something as inherently wonderful as learning and make it as inherently miserable as it is for so many people in the system.

I’m optimistic, though, because people who truly love and understand good teaching, now, thanks to technology, have easier and wider access to the audiences that so desperately need to have access to them. I think our educational system is fucked, and I think that large swaths of it will soon be obsolete, as it becomes more and more obvious how much better education can be. I truly believe it can be better by orders of magnitude that we can’t even imagine right now, and I’m happy to see that process accelerating  Also, frankly, I’m a little schadenfreudically (totally a word) pleased at the idea that some of the institutions that made it so miserable for me probably aren’t going to manage to keep pace.

Anyway, the video:


If I have a Grand Unified Theory Of Everything, it’s this: I believe that people always do things that make sense to them. Hard as it is to believe with all the hurting out there, almost nobody hurts others just to be a jerk. So if you want to change human behavior on a grand scale, you can’t tell people “stop being a jerk.” You have to dissect and then recreate their models of the world until being a jerk doesn’t make sense.

-Cliff at

I don’t agree that telling someone to stop being a jerk is never the thing to do (sometimes when the elephant is driving, blunt force trauma is the only thing that will stop it), but I do think that this is excellent food for thought.

Pervocracy on Jerks

By ResearchToBeDone Posted in links Tagged

Collected Analogies

Continuing the analogy fun, here are some analogies that I’ve found particularly enjoyable, insightful, or useful. Like I said, I enjoy collecting them:


On Sexism: Sexuality is Like Money

On Privilege: Difficulty Settings

On Privilege: Dogs and Lizards


On Dealing with Jealousy: Fixing the Refrigerator

On Jealousy and Negative Metaemotions: Not Feeding the Trolls

On the Idea of Ownership in Relationships: My House

On Brain Problems:

Working on Mental Issues: Your Brain as a Garden

Invisible Illnesses: Spoon Theory

Suicidality: The Hot Stove (from here in my blog)


On the Religious Burden of Proof: The Sausage Machine

On Why Your God Isn’t Moral: The Ogre Story

On Not Needing God to Be Moral: Hamburgers and Morality

On Why Nice Religion is Still Problematic: Listening to the Hair Dryer

On How Religion Looks to Nonbelievers: Kissing Hank’s Ass

On How Radiometric Dating Works: The Popcorn Analogy

On Why Atheists Don’t Care About Threats of Hell (video)

And finally, not a link, just a from a comment on a blog I read somewhere a long time ago:

“Trying to understand someone else in terms of your own thoughts and feelings is like trying to get from Boston to Los Angeles using a map of Albania.”

Anyone have other ones they think I might like to add to my collection?