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Stop Calling Bigots Bogans - Spook Magazine

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In every curio-bedecked sitting room and artisanal food store there are mutterings about the easily-fooled masses who don’t deserve the vote: the tinnie guzzling, singlet-wearing, immigrant-hating philistines who brandish their southern cross tattoos with idiot pride. On each one’s V8 ute a bumper-sticker reads: Love it or Leave. Nearly choking on his or her liquid-nitrogen ice-cream, the compassionate cosmopolitan splutters: “Why don’t the bogans leave?”

Anger and grief are healthy responses to realising that your compatriots are happy to see vulnerable people broken. But blaming it on the nebulous category of “bogans” is classist and counter-productive. Like chav, white trash, redneck, or hillbilly, the word bogan implies an essential connection between bigotry, poverty, and a lack of education, evoking a stock cultural character whose poor breeding and stupidity ensures they will always sport a mullet and brutalise immigrants. Among white people especially, such words project the worst of our heritage onto the “undeserving poor”, as though vulgarity were responsible for a history of racism and subjugation, and fear and hatred were absent from polite society. In short, the way middle-class progressives use bogan blames bigotry on the working class and unemployed – even, strangely, when this bigotry is directed at people on welfare.

“Like chav, white trash, redneck, or hillbilly, the word bogan implies an essential connection between bigotry, poverty, and a lack of education.”

Of course, drunk xenophobes sporting We grew here you flew here tattoos and equally charming bumper stickers do exist (as do workers who live in jealous fear of dole bludgers seizing their taxes). And their toxic views are more obvious than the insidious prejudice that threads through more sophisticated circles, or the opportunistic tactics of political elites. But why are they the main focus of ire, and why do they get lumped into the same category as their neighbours and workmates? Perhaps this projection is linked to the middle-class’s cherished ideal of education – the belief that the school’s and the university’s disciplinary systems will uplift their charges beyond cruelty or selfishness, as though it were only ignorance that prevented kindness and unity.

While knowledge of the world is important to making intelligent political choices, and education can help with this, such examples as Barry Spur, erudite fascists, and the racial views of the founder of the Rhodes scholarship should be sufficient to make it clear: being “cultured” does not always make us nicer or less prejudiced people. Recall too that Ricky Muir and Jacqui Lambie, often maligned as two of the most bogan senators in Australia, showed more signs of conscience about the fate of asylum seekers under unprecedented Ministerial powers than the educated blue bloods filling the Liberal bench. While neither are political role models – indeed, Lambie has been styled as a new Pauline Hanson – nor do they exemplify the deeper sickness in Australian politics.

Of course, no one shares quite the same definition of bogans, and any bogan-hater charged with classism will protest: “Being a bogan’s not about money, it’s about attitude and culture” – and the way people talk and the way they dress, that just so happen to be associated with being born in the wrong suburb and working a trade or being stuck on welfare. Being bogan may not be about money, but it is about the cultural markers of class. The much-despised figure of the “cashed-up bogan”, far from proving that being bogan isn’t a question of class, fits the aristocrat’s vision of the newly rich, the upstart who’s gotten beyond their station. The very term implies a contradiction, as though something went wrong in the natural order to give rise to this monstrosity: a rich person, but without the right breeding or education.

“When ‘progressives’ blame injustice on bogans, they slot smoothly into the story the likes of Abbott, Bolt, and Murdoch want to tell.”

As a consequence, when “progressives” blame injustice on bogans, they slot smoothly into the story the likes of Abbott, Bolt, and Murdoch want to tell: it is the story of an Australia divided between hard-working, true-blue Aussies who vote for the major parties, and out-of touch cultural elites who snigger at ordinary people. Meanwhile, the Tories who pulverise work rights and social services are portrayed as every men with the common touch. In this warped morality play, the hater of bigots takes on the character of the champagne socialist, the smug and self-righteous radical who holds Australian culture in contempt.

Such paranoid fantasies about a scheming culture elite, while not unique to Australia, are particularly successful here in obscuring the realities of wealth and power for four reasons: first, they tap into people’s profound fear of being laughed at. Second, they draw on Australia’s special hatred of wankers and attendant suspicion of intellectuals. Third, they allow the privileged to feel like underdogs – and this is particularly important for Australians, given that on average we are among the richest people in the world. And fourth, they have a grain of truth to draw upon: the temptation among moderates to treat questions of social justice as an opportunity to feel superior and gain cultural capital through excluding unbelievers, cleansing themselves of responsibility with the ritual mantra: what a bunch of bogans. In doing so, they alienate themselves from the people whose support they need, and whose struggles they in turn need to support.

Anyone hoping to protect the rights of asylum seekers and minorities cannot take these issues in isolation. The right is winning on this front because its fever dream of a country overrun with inner-city hipsters and suspect newcomers fits into a broader narrative, and resonates with real fears. While rabid nationalism can grow anywhere, it feeds on insecurity, on people’s sense that their world is not their own or could be taken away from them. Among working people, this could come in the form of the erosion of industrial rights, and the resulting precariousness that makes the thought of an immigrant “taking” jobs seem plausible. Among small-business owners and professionals, it is the ideology of merit, the fixation on “hard-work” and competition, and the fear of losing what they believe they have won of their own accord: I earned what I own and to share it is robbery. What moderates and leftists must do is build an alternative vision that is so compelling and inclusive as to eclipse the prevailing one – a vision that acknowledges and exorcises socioeconomic anxieties, rather than disowning their outgrowths as alien.

Until we do this, the best would-be allies of the oppressed can do is retreat into a sense of defeated goodness. Words like bogan offer lazy comfort, something we can reach for to remind ourselves that tyranny is stupid, that it’s not in our name. Letting go of these illusions is difficult. To help, remember the following: every time you call a bigot a bogan, or sneer at someone’s literacy, you become a little more like Barry Spur, and it becomes a little easier for other people to treat your voice with reciprocal disdain.

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pfctdayelise
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Melbourne, Australia
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Ask Polly: Why Did My Friends Ditch Me?

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Dear Polly,

My issue is that I feel dismissed by a lot of people I consider friends and it hurts. I have tried to make new friends but for some reason or other it never works for us. I resent my friends and I feel like they're constantly doing things without...More »

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pfctdayelise
38 minutes ago
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aw <3
Melbourne, Australia
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Never trust a corporation to do a library's job

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my ranting about Google and the Internet Archive for the Message  
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pfctdayelise
3 hours ago
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Love this slogan, would totally buy a t-shirt.
Melbourne, Australia
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Monday, 19 January 2015

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In 1997 I started my first tech job. After a few days of settling in, learning the environment, and getting my .bashrc just the way I liked it, I was given my first project: train an algorithm to be smarter about the ways it was grouping and categorizing porn sites. Because why wouldn’t that be an appropriate task for a 17-year-old intern?

Two summers later, a different company sent me on a sales call with a colleague who talked over me so much during the meeting that our prospective clients couldn’t hide their laughter. On the way back to the office, he proposed we “stop off for a quickie” in a nearby hotel. HR noted his behavior in a file, and did nothing. My first two jobs, and I was 0 for 2 on having a workplace free of inappropriate innuendo and advances.

Around that time I began practicing yoga. One of my staples is Yin yoga: where most American yoga is yang – warm, fluid, and flowing – yin is cool, slow, and still. You choose a pose and settle in for the long haul, staying in one position for anywhere from three to fifteen minutes. These aren’t the muscular poses of a yang practice – Warriors, Dancers, or Handstands – but are almost always seated or lying down, like Forward Fold, Pigeon, or Child’s Pose.

A Yin practice is designed to address the deep connective tissues that only respond to gentle and slow nudging. Its intention is to make subtle changes to the foundational structures of the body.

It doesn’t sound particularly challenging – how hard can it be to hang out in head-to-knee pose for five minutes? – but most people who’ve tried it will describe Yin as the most difficult practice they’ve ever done. When you’re not distracted by movement and breath and muscular effort, there’s only one thing left to put your attention on: yourself.

Yin poses are uncomfortable. Certainly not painful, but definitely uncomfortable. A few minutes into a long-held forward fold, your muscles start to let go of their tension and your fascia and tendons start feeling the tug, and it feels weird. It’s not dangerous, but it’s not exactly pleasant, and that’s when the real work starts.

What do you do when you’re feeling uncomfortable? My urge is to lash out, to declare “this whole idea is stupid” and to storm off. If I can work in some vaguely-official sounding arguments ("connective tissue is supposed to be stiff; that’s how it does its job”), all the better.

Some people react to discomfort by feeling anxious that they must be doing something wrong; that if this is hard it’s because they are failing and their bodies are terrible and everyone in the room probably hates them. Others look around and find someone who looks like they’re having a harder time, and feel smug and satisfied that at least they’re not as bad as that guy.

Whatever the reaction, we tend to have the same one, pose after pose, all class long. I’ve been doing Yin for years, and it often takes a little while before I remember that my reaction has nothing to do with the pose, and everything to do with how I behave when I’m feeling uncomfortable. I always want to lash out when I’m not in my element. People who turn vague doubt into self-loathing, or look for weaker people to judge: they do that every time they’re faced with discomfort, on or off the mat.

In Sanskrit that’s called “saṃskāra”, a word that roughly translates to a concept like “impressions” or “grooves”. They are behavior patterns that we fall into without thought, choices that we make because the ruts are well-worn into our decision paths. A Yin practice gives me a chance to jump the groove: I know that this pose won’t injure me, so what happens if this time, I don’t get angry? What if this time, I choose to let the fear of looking stupid wash over me, and through me? Do I survive? Am I still me? What have I lost? What have I gained? In a 90-minute class, I get 10 or 15 chances to be aware of my decisions, to be present with my urges, and to choose differently. There is a reason we call yoga a practice.

2014 was a shit of a year for women working in technology. We were barraged with everything from egregious threats of violence to run-of-the-mill condescension, from “ladybrains can’t make code” pseudo-science to arguments opposing something as simple as a conference Code of Conduct.

When I witness an erupting Twitter conversation, or read through article comments (I know, I know), what I see – spluttering, denial, derailing, and always alongside a rousing chorus of Not All Men – looks like nothing so much as people refusing to be present with their own discomfort.

Yes, many women are angry, and injured, and our public seething will make you uncomfortable. Sit with that. Let it wash over you, and through you. Breathe, and feel the urge to squirm, and choose to be still instead. For we who have been living with this discomfort our whole careers, you can handle not-reacting for a few minutes.

What do you lose when members of your community begin to speak freely about changing things that hurt them? What could you gain from actively listening to a conversation without sharing your opinion? What happens to you, and to us, if you make an effort to jump the groove?

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pfctdayelise
3 hours ago
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Melbourne, Australia
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Why people hate economics, in one lesson.

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Why people hate economics, in one lesson.

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pfctdayelise
4 hours ago
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Interesting. "Enthusiasm for the market is supposed to be one of the conclusions of economic analysis, not one of its presuppositions. If you present it as one of the basic assumptions, then people who are not already disposed to accept that point of view will simply tune out the whole thing."
Melbourne, Australia
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Announcing Hound: A Lightning Fast Code Search Tool

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Today we are open sourcing a new tool to help you search large, complex codebases at lightning speed. We are calling this tool Hound. We’ve been using it internally for a few months, and it has become an indispensable tool that many engineers use every day.

The Problem Hound Solves

Before Hound, most engineers used ack or grep to search code, but with our growing codebase this started taking longer and longer. Even worse, searching across multiple repositories was so slow and cumbersome that it was becoming frustrating and error prone. Since it is easy to overlook dependencies between repositories, and hard to even know which you might need to search, this was a big problem. Searching multiple repositories was especially painful if you wanted to search a repo that you didn’t have cloned on your machine. Due to this frustration, Kelly starting working on a side project to try out some of the ideas and code from this article by Russ Cox. The code was robust, but we wanted to tweak some of the criteria for excluding files, and create a web UI that could talk to the search engine.

The end goal was to provide a simple web front-end with linkable search results that could perform regular expression searches on all of our repositories quickly and accurately. Hound accomplishes this with a static React front-end that talks to a Go backend. The backend keeps an up-to-date index for each repository and answers searches through a minimal API.

Why Create a New Tool?

Some people might point out that tools like this already exist – OpenGrok comes to mind immediately. Our main beef with OpenGrok is that it is difficult to deploy, and it has a number of hard requirements that are not trivial to install and configure. To run Hound you just need Go 1.3+. That’s it. A browser helps to see the web UI, but with a command line version on the way and a Sublime Text plugin already live, the browser is optional. We wanted to lower the barrier to entry for this tool so much that anyone, anywhere, could starting using Hound to search their code in seconds or minutes, not hours.

Get It

Hound is easy enough to use that we recommend you just clone it and see for yourself. We have committed to using the open source version of Hound internally, so we hope to address issues and pull requests quickly. That’s enough jibber jabber – check out the quick start guide and get searching!

 

Hound trained at Etsy by  Jonathan Klein and Kelly Norton

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pfctdayelise
1 day ago
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Hang on, the web interface came before the command line?
Melbourne, Australia
acdha
1 day ago
I think of that as choosing not to compete with ack / ag at their strongest points at first
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