Profile

Cover photo
Michael Powell
Works at IMVU
Lives in Sunnyvale, CA
251,508 views
AboutPostsPhotosVideos

Stream

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
I feel rather behind the times, but I was just introduced to the term "kyriarchy", from a post by +Ember Cooke in another forum, and I think I'm a fan. I googled it, and this article popped up, which seems like a good introduction.

I've always been a little leery of the term Patriarchy. It describes a real problem, but it does so in a kind of simplistic and limited fashion. The objective of modern feminism is less about directly fighting the oppression of women, and more about freeing society from the shackles of gender roles and oppression and general. And in doing so, the oppression of women will fall to the wayside.

So kyriarchy, as I'm understanding the term, refers to a society in which privilege is, by default, used to oppress those without it. This applies to the common and obvious cases of men oppressing women and white people oppressing black people, and the other common bigotries. But it also applies to the often more insidious cases of men or women oppressing more effeminate men or more masculine women. It applies to the wealthy oppressing the poor. It applies to the popular or charismatic oppressing the awkward.

It provides a much more holistic view of oppression.

So fuck the kyriarchy!
1
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
So a thought:

By the Middle Ages, Europe was kind of stagnating. There was a very large population of very poor people who resulted in ample cheap labor, leaving little motivation to automate. Then the Black Plague came around and depopulated the continent. Especially the peasantry. Suddenly labor was a lot less cheap, and tons of innovation came along, both in philosophy and technology. This was the Enlightenment. In many ways, Europe's global dominance in the following centuries can be credited to that plague.

The western world is debatably in a similar rut now. Our economy has been stagnating for a few decades now, and while technology is continuing to advance at a rapid pace, there is a lot of automation which we aren't bothering with because rampant unemployment means labor is cheap. Why invent a machine to flip burgers when it's so cheap to hire somebody to do it? I think we need to change our labor market to get out of this rut. Further, we're stuck with an outdated model of human dignity where selling yourself for money is considered the only noble and right thing to do.

While a great plague would do the job, it'd do it in the most horrific way possible. I'd rather take another route. The real key, though, is just making labor less cheap. A substantial increase in the minimum wage would do that, but that may just result in a lot more unemployment without doing anything to make that less disastrous.

What we need, really, is to soften the blow of unemployment. Make it so people don't need to take whatever work they can get in a desperate struggle for survival. Then they can turn down jobs they don't want, which raises the price of labor. This could spur a lot of automation of low-end jobs, because it's now cheaper to make a robotic line chef or checkout robot then to hire an unskilled worked to fill that role.

It would also, more importantly, spur a philosophical update. In short:

Working because you love it is dignified. Working because it's necessary for survival is a denial of dignity.

All of this is honestly just another way of saying: We need a Universal Basic Income.
2
1
Eric Rall's profile photoEmber Cooke's profile photoMichael Powell's profile photo
11 comments
 
+Ember Cooke​ Totally and wholeheartedly agreed. One of the other reasons to be employed is health insurance, and if that's not fixed than a UBI might not do that much to bid people out of the labor market. They'll still need to take whatever crappy job they can to get health care.
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
Both this video and +Nate Gaylinn's commentary on it are really fascinating alternative takes on the concept of violence and how it can reframe discussions on bigotry. Leaves me with a lot to think about.
 
Idea Channel did a great video on "violence," and why it's useful to apply that term even to non-physical acts. I recommend it. The tl;dw is that any act that removes a person's ability to choose can be considered violent.

From this comes a very interesting concept: "symbolic violence." This is the idea that by inventing, reinforcing, or promoting stereotypes you are committing violence against a group of people. This concept was new to me, and this post is my way of exploring the idea. I think it’s fascinating. It's an explanation for why hate speech is bad, but it's also useful for understanding what political correctness attempts to do, and why it sometimes fails.

The way to think about this is that by manipulating a symbol that represents a group of people, you are creating a role for them to play, and denying them the chance to define that role for themselves. They don't have to play along, surely. But by saying this is what you expect of them and encouraging others to think likewise, you create a pressure, a force pushing them into whatever shaped box you imagine. Weak or strong, that force is a form of violence.

Here's a concrete example. Say you're transgender. You're a normal, everyday woman who likes to look and act in a very typical way, you just happen to have been born with male genitalia. That's your experience of “trans,” and you accept that label because it accurately describes your situation, at least by your definition. When a North Carolina politician uses that word to mean “sexual predator,” they do so without asking you, or having any familiarity with your experience. By promoting that definition they shape how others think, and make a hostile environment for you. They push you to change your behavior to be less obvious or threatening, even though the fear is of a symbol, not of you. By warping the definition of the symbol, they warp the definition of you.

Political correctness attempts to fix this, but often misses the point. It starts by saying “don't use that awful, tainted symbol!” which is good. There are a lot of harmful memes that we need to move past. But then it typically goes on to say “use this symbol instead.” The replacement is intended to be neutral or positive, but this, too, is symbolic violence. Rather than defeating stereotypes, it uses them to push public opinion in a “positive” direction. I'm reminded of Autism Speaks, an organization that claims to help people on the autistic spectrum, but without actually involving them or asking their opinion. Imagine two people vehemently arguing about what you'd like for lunch and all you want is a chance to say “um, actually…”

Creating a new symbol (“transgender” instead of “transexual”), or reclaiming a symbol (like “queer”) can be a powerful tool for social change, but any symbol can be tainted, and no one can speak for everyone who identifies with a particular label. What's important is to treat people as individuals, and to judge them by their behavior rather than your preconceptions. When you use a loaded label, you should ask yourself, “what baggage comes with this word?” and “does this reflect my personal experience with individuals who choose to identify this way?” If you don't have much hands on experience with a group, maybe you shouldn't say anything about them at all.

23 comments on original post
1
1
Michael Powell's profile photoNate Gaylinn's profile photo
3 comments
 
The "sticks and stones" thing kind of infuriated me. Thank you for refuting that so soundly.

I think the counter-points are off topic, actually. They're mostly just using attacks on the words to dismiss the concept. That's cheap, and sounds more reasonable than it is.

+Christina Tom had a great suggestion to turn the discussion on its head by asking: "what is violence?" I really like where that line of reasoning went, but I guess we'll see how its received.
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
I know not all toddlers are extremist murderers, but those that aren't really ought to speak up and condemn the rest.
9
2
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
This is an incredibly profound talk, and I can't recommend it highly enough.

"The gospel of doubt does not ask that you stop believing. It asks that you believe a new thing. That it's possible not to believe. It's possible the answers we have are wrong. It's possible the questions themselves are wrong. The gospel of doubt means that it's possible that we, on this stage, in this room, are wrong. Because it raises the question why, with all the power that we hold in our hands, why are people still suffering so bad?"

This isn't a call to atheism, and it isn't really even directed at religion specifically. Rather, it's a call to question ALL the things we place blind faith in, delivered in beautiful and profound oratory.
What do you do when your firmly held beliefs turn out not to be true? When Casey Gerald's religion failed him, he searched for something new to believe in — in business, in government, in philanthropy — but found only false saviors. In this moving talk, Gerald urges us all to question our beliefs and embrace uncertainty.
2
Ember Leo's profile photo
 
The combination of the Problem of Evil and my direct experiences with spirit are how I ended up at Polytheism. An Omni-everything God who intervenes in our daily lives made no sense to me.
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
On Negative Campaigning

There's been a lot going around about negative campaigning recently, as there always is during a campaign season. And it's starting to really bother me, because I think virtually all of it misses the real problem:

There is nothing wrong with negative campaigning provided the attacks are both true and relevant.

The problem is NOT when a candidate attacks their opponent. Pointing out their opponent's flaws is completely reasonable and appropriate. The problem is when they either lie about their opponent, or level irrelevant criticisms.

For instance:
- Pointing out that your opponent is taking money from the financial sector while promising to reign in the financial sector is fair and relevant.
- Pointing out that your opponent's legislative agenda is unlikely to get through the legislature is fair and relevant.
- Pointing out that your opponent has small hands, or a small penis, or is soft spoken, is completely irrelevant, regardless of truth.
- Pointing out that your opponent's health care agenda would involve repealing vital parts of Obamacare, without mentioning that this would only happen if replaced by something better, is relevant, but misleading.
4
Michael Powell's profile photoEmber Cooke's profile photo
6 comments
 
Tone is primarily indicative of the emotional content, which IS potentially an aspect of the validity of the underlying points, especially if one of those points is "this is very distressing".

Mind you, emotional content is another data point, not a logical operator. But dismissing it is also invalid.
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
Theory: VR is the savior of 3D printing.

The biggest problem with 3D printing is that, no matter how high quality and cheap the printer gets, somebody still needs to do the work to build the 3D model. If you have to rely on models people have already built, you're not going to get that much utility out of it, because the real power comes from having objects very specifically customized to your circumstances.

I have the skill to do this. I suspect many of my friends on here do as well. But the general populace? Hell no. It's far too complex and technical a skill to expect everybody to learn.

Enter VR. The reason 3D modeling is hard and technical is because you're doing 3D things through a 2D UI. This requires a lot of annoying abstractions. But VR gives you a 3D UI. You'll now be able to do 3D modeling by just sticking your hand in the object, grabbing vertices, and dragging them around. You'll be able to sculpt 3D objects like clay. Skilled artists will be able to make much fancier things with this, but anybody will be able to create basic, crude, practical objects, just like anybody can use MS Paint to build some crude pixel art.

And thus 3D printers might actually become useful to the masses.
3
J Berg's profile photo
J Berg
+
1
2
1
 
As a 3d modeler myself, I completely agree. Although to do complex operations you'd still need tools, how intuitive they are would seem the deciding factor for how much the average person could accomplish with one.
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
I'm looking for a specific kind of video game, which I think MUST exist, but I can't find examples of.

I want an open-ended procedural small unit tactics game based on an adventuring company.

There are a lot of classic RPGs that are sort of in this vein, but they tend to focus a lot more on weaving a pre-written narrative. I'm looking for something that's more open-ended. Something a bit more like Cube World, but a tactical experience instead of an action one.

Battle Brothers is kind of like this, but it focuses on building a small army with a high fatality rate. I'm looking for something more akin to a classic D&D adventuring company: 4 to 6 heroes that you pretty much stick with and continue to advance the entire time.

Any suggestions?
1
J Berg's profile photoMichael Powell's profile photoEmber Cooke's profile photo
17 comments
 
Explore on your own terms is actually reasonably common in the "wide-open sandbox" genre. It's the develop part that's less so.

The most recent Dragon Age game, for example, has totally open spaces that you can keep exploring after the game is over, but the plot is nevertheless clearly ... well, not entirely linear, but heading in a specific general direction.
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
You barely even have to dig to find a long history of how horrifically terrible a person Trump actually is.
Donald Trump casts himself as a protector of workers, but a USA TODAY Network investigation found hundreds – carpenters, dishwashers, painters, even his own lawyers – who say he didn’t pay them for their work.
3
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
In the Republican primary right now, the delegate count ranking is:

Donald Trump
Ted Cruz
Marco Rubio
John Kasich

Cruz and Rubio have dropped out, but they keep their delegates. Which means Kasich is in 4th place in a 2 man race.
1
Eric Rall's profile photoMichael Powell's profile photo
2 comments
 
Dammit, Kasich. Way to ruin my joke.
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
Resharing this from +Ember Leo, but not using a direct reshare because I want to tweak the presentation a little.

First, click on the image below to read that strip. Then come back to see the context I give it.

On the rare occasion when MRAs actually devote energy to something besides attacking feminism, this is pretty much what they complain about. And it's very valid. The way men suffer under the typical male gender roles is a real and serious problem, which we really need to address.

The thing that might surprise those on my friend list who are less friendly toward feminism (and third wave feminism specifically) is that this strip was made by a third wave feminist. This is central to modern feminism. Which makes it particularly ironic that MRAs are so dead set on the idea that feminists are the enemy, that they're somehow "anti-man". They latch on to various fringe quotes by people associated with feminism to build feminism into this bizarre strawman, and lose track of what feminism actually is. Most importantly, the fact that it's already fighting for the exact causes they claim to be for.

This is actually part of a larger strip, which looks at gender roles from both sides (http://bust.com/arts/16202-artist-drags-sexism-toxic-masculinity-and-double-standards-in-epic-comic-takedowns.html), and the whole thing is important. But I think changing the order of the presentation a bit can make it more impactful to those who most need to see it.
5
Darius Gabriel Black's profile photo
 
I love this strip.
Add a comment...

Michael Powell

Shared publicly  - 
 
This is the most comprehensive article I've seen to date about the history and current state of the basic income movement. An excellent read, of the high calibre I've come to expect from FiveThirtyEight (which is the blog of Nate Silver, famous for predicting every state in the 2012 Presidential race with the power of statistics, though he didn't write this article himself).
Daniel Straub remembers the night he got hooked on basic income. He had invited Götz Werner, a billionaire owner of a German drugstore chain, to give an independent talk in Zurich, where Straub was…
6
1
R. Deeds (Ragnarok Now)'s profile photoMichael Powell's profile photoEmber Cooke's profile photo
5 comments
 
Oh thank you so much!
Add a comment...
People
Places
Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Currently
Sunnyvale, CA
Previously
Mountain View, CA - San Jose, CA - Santa Barbara, CA - Fremont, CA - Ojai, CA
Links
Other profiles
Contributor to
Work
Occupation
Software Engineer
Employment
  • IMVU
    Software Engineer, 2011 - present
  • PlayFirst
    Software Engineer, 2010 - 2011
  • Cryptic Studios
    Game Programmer, 2008 - 2010
Basic Information
Gender
Male
Apps with Google+ Sign-in
  • Svarog: The Awakening