hometowns, shame, coffee, and whiteness

Part 5 of the 6-part series called "Reactions"

I haven’t been writing about everything I’ve read the past week or so because (1) it’s really tedious, (2) it was changing the way I read things, and (3) I actually haven’t read that much this past week. So, a new tack: I’m going to write about things that I read and couldn’t not take notes on. I’m going to be easier on myself about writing notes on every little thing and just share what I thought was really good about my daily readings, if there was anything good each day.

Drew Devault, Announcing the release of sway 1.0

I’ve never really used sway, but I’m interested in the project because it’s a WaylandThe Future of the Year of the Linux Desktop (TM) compositor and it’s written by sircmpwn, the guy who’s behind sourcehut, where I host this blog’s source.

I’ll quote a comment from Tildes I made on this:

I mean, I don’t know anything about it (I used sway for about 30 seconds), but from the blog post, it looks like that’s the case. If that’s so, that’s really good news. I don’t think I’ll make the switch to Wayland anytime soon, but when I eventually do, I won’t be too scared.

Michele Anderson, Go home to your dying hometown

I’m from a dying hometown. I’ve thought about going back, maybe to establish a writers’/artists’ colony at my parents’ estate, but I don’t think it’ll ever happen, if I’m thinking realistically.

Salvatore Scibona, The industrial revolution of shame

The offender is denied even the mercy of exile.

Talking about the pervasiveness of internet videos and the judgment they invite upon the people in them.

To bring up any one of these examples is to invite the objection, That time it was deserved! Maybe so. But is there no way of discussing these controversies that doesn’t come down to whether an offender deserved the punishment?

The most devoted activist can help fix only a small portion of what offends his conscience.

GAWD this hits me hard. Not that I’m even an activist, but there are so many problems in the world that they freeze me for wanting to fix them. I need to focus on one or two things to help with, to advocate and activate for, and it really doesn’t matter what I pick because they all need help and here I am, I guess. Right?

To witness is to ignore as little as possible. Because a judgment so often impairs the ability to notice what doesn’t conform with it, the witness chooses for the time being to keep judgment at a distance.

I think of meditation as a training for this kind of watching, but in the self: who do we judge more harshly than ourselves?

Anton Robsarve, What you need to know about colors & accessibility

There’s a score you can give text and backgrounds that notes how contrastive they are, and they need a certain amount to be accessible. I want to try working with this for this website, but I need to find a more in-depth article to research. This is not much more than a widget.

Randall Munroe, Size Venn diagram

A five-element Venn diagram
A five-element Venn diagram

Now I know how to draw a penta-Venn-diagram, if I’m ever so inclined. Maybe for the five different types of evil?

@Are0h, Here’s the thing, homie

A toot thread that woke me up to the ways I enable racism. Next time I see something, I’m going to say something.

Rebecca Jennings, Why do we hate decaf so much?

I tried going without caffeine for a little while, shortly after giving up drinking. I liked going without it, but I also like the taste of coffee — and I also scorn decaf, so I thought this article’d be interesting to read.

So where is the caffeine backlash? Where are the adorable cafes that proudly label themselves as caffeine-free, with all the millennial-baiting accoutrements but minus the addictive stimulant?

You know, in an age of teetotaling (it seems like I see more posts about minimalism, about paring down, prioritizing mental wellness and self-care, getting rid of addiction stigma to help those addicted, etc.) it is curious that coffee doen’t get the same treatment as other drugs.

Despite the fact that less than 1 percent of people have celiac disease, in 2013 nearly a third of Americans said they were trying to avoid gluten thanks to the influence of marketing and diet trends.

As a vegan, it really bothers me, this whole gluten-free thing. I’m not a vegan for health (not that I don’t enjoy the free health benefits), I’m a vegan for animals, and I love glutenanimals. It really bugs me to see a vegan cookie that’s gluten-free as well, because it’s not going to be as good as just a vegan cookie. I feel like these vegan GF baked goods are making people think, Oh, vegan stuff is flavorless and chalky, when really it’s the lack of gluten that’s making them flavorless and chalky. It’s especially annoying because unless you have celiac disease or an actual gluten intolerance, which is exceedingly rare, gluten is perfectly fine for you.

All of this may be perfectly true, but like everything else on Instagram, there is subtext: I drink coffee because I am very, very busy.

Why do we Millenials have such a hustle culture? I’m looking forward to the day when we demand the right to be able to relax. (Cf. millenial burnout, or workism, linked later on that page.)

In part, this might be why decaf is so maligned: It has all the bitterness and blandness of coffee and, crucially, none of the implications that the drinker is here to hustle.

I know this is where I maligned decaf: coffee it doesn’t taste that good, and if there’s nothing else coming out of it I’d rather pass and drink something like juice or water or soymilk or tea. Like non-alcoholic beer: I don’t drink it either because beer doesn’t taste so good that I just want to taste it. I really drank it for its effects.

Decaf is a bit embarrassing in the coffee world, [Guy Wilmot, owner of Decadent Decaf] says. When I do tastings at, say, the London Coffee Festival, you kind of fear the tattoo brigade going, Oh, I’m not into that.

LOL @ the tattoo brigade. I wonder if he’d count me as one.

I wonder how much of our generation is laughing at others’ goofiness (cf. hipsters) while being simultaneously dreading being a part of their number? Sort of an inverse When the saints go marching in.

animals: It’s funny; I started being vegan for the environment, but it’s much more an animal welfare thing now.

Lauren Michele Jackson, The white lies of craft culture

Craft culture looks like white people.

This article talks about how craft culture, that is, the emerging culture that obsesses over the old way of doing things, in small batches, by hand, by ourselves, is primarily the domain of white people.

I wonder how much of the phenomenon is due to the relative perceived dearth of culture that white people have, since pretty much the only constant feature in white culture, or at least white American culture, for the past few hundreds of years has been repeated theft of culture and of people from their own homelands or ways of life. So now there’s a want to get back to something better, but we’re faltering because we don’t know what culture looks like that isn’t ripped from someone else, packaged up into an easy-to-digest commodity, and sold at the market.

The character of craft culture, a special blend of bohemianism and capitalism, is not merely overwhelmingly white — a function of who generally has the wealth to start those microbreweries and old-school butcher shops, and to patronize them — it consistently engages in the erasure or exploitation of people of color whose intellectual and manual labor are often the foundation of the practices that transform so many of these small pleasures into something artful.

… a product, in part, of the white cultural monopoly on all things country, while black people are endlessly urban

I’m not going to lie, when I first came to Baton Rouge I was surprised that black people were from the country. I mean, now that I think about it, it’s like duh. But the myth is pervasive.

In a survey of imagery used by coffee companies, [sociologist Nicki Lisa Cole] found that they leaned on racially and culturally essentialized depictions of the coffee farmer, their lives, and communities, which facilitate knowledge of coffee farmers as distinctly different from consumers in the United States, neatly distancing the farmer from the consumer.

Further, Cole writes, coffee farmers, their families, and communities are described as helpless against the exploitative forces of the capitalist market that undervalues their labor by setting a low price for coffee. The discourse tells consumers that by purchasing socially responsible coffee they can improve lives and communities in coffee growing regions, thus consumers too are able to help steward coffee farmers toward a better way of life. Every $5 cup is dosed with a whiff of philanthropy, satiating the coffee drinker’s desire to be an ethical consumer with good taste, even though farmers get just pennies on the dollar.

White saviorism strikes again.

Instead of living up to the vibrant, unique histories that food and drink have to offer, craft culture’s commitment to lifting itself away from its origins has made it monotonous and predictable.

The more stuff like this I read, the harder it seems to be to get away from the constant commodification of culture, of bodies, of work, and of products. Capitalism makes everything the same.

For craft culture to survive as more than an artful label or meaningless slogan, as something not synonymous with the Panera Breads and Blue Moons, it will need to take its own objectives seriously and embrace the stories behind the facade, the ones about individual people and specific histories and ongoing traditions. Otherwise, it will succumb to the same cycle of alienation as the mass-produced culture it once stood against. Rather than look for the next picture-perfect face to head the trend, food culture would do well to look around and pass the mic to the people of color. Craft is only as white as the lies it tells itself.

Great ending to a really good article.

Tim Bray, Graying out

I didn’t really read this entire article, but it’s about how people are not using XMPP any more for better chat solutions like Messenger, WhatsApp, etc. It’s sad. I wonder if I should just refuse to use Messenger or anything and just use a federated something. XMPP or Matrix or IRC. Hm.