Sapiens By Yuval Harari

This book covers big history from the big bang to today, with an emphasis on our species, and the other species of humans who we originally coexisted with. The book covers theories about what happened to our cousins, as well as what happened to every ecosystem we moved into.

The book goes on to talk about the rise of cultures and civilizations, why they evolved the way they did, and why there is no going back.

Big Takeaways

  • We have changed a lot in our short history, and there is no going back.
  • Most of the issues we are preoccupied with are pointless and transient.
  • Syncretism: All the cultures and religions of today are a blend of many previous ones as well as of their competing religions and cultures..

Social Problems: Policy Analysis

CJ Trowbridge

Professor Jeffrey Sacha

Social Problems

2018-12-11

Policy Analysis Midterm

Imagine a child being forced to have sex up to twenty times a night by a trusted friend or significant other. This is a very typical situation for thousands of children being sex trafficked on a daily basis throughout California. Now imagine the police interrupt one of these encounters, only to arrest the child as a prostitute. Instead of taking them to safety, the police force them into the criminal “justice” industrial complex where their record will be tarnished, and they will face a lifetime of stigmatization and systemic punishment on top of the trauma and tragedy they faced as a victim of sex trafficking. Until earlier this year, this situation was actually standard practice and fully validated by California state policy. Following claimsmaking work by human trafficking nonprofits working with state senator Holly Mitchell and state assembly persons Christina Garcia, Tom Lackey, and Bob Wieckowski, a child safety bill was put forward to change this unjust policy. The new law says that children (who are unable to give consent for sex) cannot be held liable for prostitution, and that the police should be focusing on the people exploiting them rather than unjustly punishing the victims of these terrible crimes.

According to WEAVE, “Sex trafficking is a form of modern-day slavery. Sex traffickers frequently groom victims and then use violence, threats, lies, false promises, debt bondage, or other forms of control and manipulation to prevent victims from leaving.“ Prostitution, conversely, is defined under California Penal Code 647(b), “[To] Pay or accept money or other consideration in exchange for a sexual act.” The situation of being forced into sex, which countless children face, is certainly a troubling social condition, but it may surprise the reader to learn that while a significant number of people in California agree with claims made by human trafficking nonprofits that prosecuting trafficked minors as prostitutes is wrong, some on the right argue that this new child safety law is wrong. In an op-ed published on the East Coast, California Republican Assemblyman Travis Allen wrote, “Beginning on Jan. 1, prostitution by minors will be legal in California…. So teenage girls (and boys) in California will soon be free to have sex in exchange for money without fear of arrest or prosecution.” (Ortiz) In an interview with KCRA news, the bill’s primary author Senator Mitchell responded to these misrepresentations from the right, “Children who are under the age of eighteen and cannot give consent should be treated like the victims of other crimes.”

For more than a century, the law throughout the western world has clearly established that children cannot give consent for sex. Despite that fact, it has become standard practice to hold children liable as prostitutes when they are forced by traffickers to have sex for money. This may sound like an edge case, but in fact it is quite ubiquitous. There are over a thousand cases of child sex trafficking throughout california each year, and the vast majority of the female youth in juvenile detention have been sex trafficked without any cases ever being filed. (California Child Welfare Council). According to Sacramento human trafficking non-profit WEAVE, “The average age of a young woman first being trafficked is 12-14 years old.” (WEAVE).

The standard practice in California and elsewhere has been to imprison and punish victims of child sex trafficking and not to press any kind of charges against the traffickers who perpetrate these crimes on children, while occasionally pressing charges against the people purchasing the children for sex. This law corrects this unjust practice by requiring police to focus on the perpetrators instead of unjustly attacking the victims.

In the future, I see this as becoming a valence issue. The conclusions proposed by the nonprofits fighting human trafficking are very reasonable and well thought-out. The opposition is absurd, catastrophizing, and just plain wrong even from their own standpoint. In the words of WEAVE CEO Beth Hassett, “There is no such thing as a child prostitute since children cannot give consent.” Any sex which involves a child is fundamentally non-consensual by definition. This law should not have been necessary because these truths are self-evident. The Republican claim that “prostitution by minors will be legal in California” is absurd. A minor cannot have consensual sex. A minor does not have agency to commit prostitution. Especially when those children are being forced into it, holding them as somehow responsible is just wrong no matter what perspective you hold.

In the current political climate where presidents openly boast about sexually assaulting people, and child rapists run for Republican house seats, it’s not hard to see why this issue is enduring unwarranted discussion. The biggest obstacle that claimsmakers face on issues like this is the ignorance of a determined and low-information opposition. I think the best solution to this claimsmaking problem would be building coalitions like the Prop 8 lawsuit did. The most famous conservative lawyer in the country sided publically with the gays, forcing those on the right who were looking for any reason to disagree to instead take a second critical look at the issue.

Works Cited

California Child Welfare Council. Published 2013. Accessed 2018-12-11. Prevalence of commercially sexually exploited children. http://www.chhs.ca.gov/CWCDOC/CSEC%20Fact%20Sheet %20-%201.pdf

Nichols, Chris. Politifact. “Pants On Fire for claim California legalized child prostitution.” Accessed 2018-12-11. Published 2017-01-04. https://www.politifact.com/california/ statements/2017/jan/04/travis-allen/lawmakers-claim-about-california-legalizing-child-/

Ortiz, Erik.  NBC News. “New California Law Does Not Legalize Child Prostitution.” Accessed 2018-12-11. Published 2016-12-30.

WEAVE. “Sex Trafficking.” Accessed 2018-12-11. https://www.weaveinc.org/sex-trafficking

When We Rise By Cleve Jones

I found this book inspiring for many reasons. I know many of the people and places in the story, so it has been intense to see so many of my friends’ roles in the story of gay liberation. It’s also interesting to see so many of the problems from before the movement still present today; especially the way young people often consider or attempt suicide if they feel isolated. The emphasis on community building is just as urgent and important today as it was decades ago when we started.

It’s also inspiring to see how many unbelievable disasters our community has faced and survived and overcome. From willful genocide at the hands of conservative governments who did nothing to fight AIDS, to the constant random threat of murder at the hands of homophobes, to Loma Prieta.

I was also very impressed with the way he included many visceral details of gay life which outsiders may find surprising or unbelievable. Cruising is a deeply intrinsic part of being gay, but not often talked about outside gay culture. He includes many stories from french graveyards to train rides.

It’s a great book which young political non-heterosexual should read!

Elon Musk: The Recode Interview

This is a really great interview that covers a lot of the recent insanity. She is really tough on him and he does a great job of responding well to many of the recent news stories about him and his companies.

Interview Transcript

Kara Swisher: I’m here with Elon Musk at the headquarters of Tesla. We’re gonna talk about Tesla, we’re gonna talk about SpaceX, we’re gonna talk about this year, we’re gonna talk about The Boring Company, and anything else Elon wants to talk about, because people like to hear you talk.

Using Twitter without a filter

Let’s start from the beginning, about this year. You’ve given some very interesting interviews. You’ve gotten on Twitter, made some mistakes.

Elon Musk: What’s Twitter?

What’s Twitter? Okay, let’s start with Twitter. I have an obsession with Twitter, too, and an addiction. What happens with you and Twitter?

Well, I tweet interesting things pretty much as they come to me, and probably with not much of a filter.

And why?

I find it entertaining. I think, “Oh, other people might find this entertaining.” Sometimes they do.

Just at night? What are you, at home you’re doing this?

Yeah. Mostly at home. I spend a lot less time on Twitter than people probably think. It’s like maybe 10-15 minutes or something.

Yeah, well people pay attention when you do that.

Yeah. It’s pretty interesting what my most … What people are most interested in, like some little tweet about “I love anime.” That was it. But it was lowercase “i”, black heart, “anime,” and people loved that. That was like one of my most popular tweets.

What about the things they didn’t love? Are you under strict orders not to do that? Is that correct? Will you be? Will you have to change your Twitter behavior?

Not really. I think it’s mostly just if it’s something that might cause a substantial movement in the stock during trading hours. That’s about it.

Do you consider it a communications medium? How do you look at it?

I look at it as a way to learn things, kinda stay in touch with what’s happening. It feels like dipping into the flow of consciousness of society. That’s what it feels like. It’s kinda weird. I guess I sometimes use Twitter to express myself, and that’s a weird thing to do, I suppose.

Not so much. It isn’t. Sometimes it’s very funny, other times it’s not so funny.

Some people use their hair to express themselves. I use Twitter.

Picking fights with the press

You pick fights with the press over Twitter, and then you have all your fans, of which there are many. Are you aware of what they do once you start them off?

Well, I have to say, my regard for the press has dropped quite dramatically.

Explain that, please.

The amount of untruthful stuff that is written is unbelievable. Take that Wall Street Journal front-page article about, like, “The FBI is closing in.” That is utterly false. That’s absurd. To print such a falsehood on the front page of a major newspaper is outrageous. Like, why are they even journalists? They’re terrible. Terrible people.

I get that, but do you understand the mood in this country around the press and the dangers of attacking, especially when the president is doing that? In quite an aggressive, “enemy of the state” and everything else. It’s disturbing when someone like you as a leader does that, too, or goes along with it.

The answer is for the press to be honest and truthful, and research their articles and correct things properly when they are false. Which they don’t do.

Okay. But I’m asking if you understand where it goes to.

Yes, of course I do.

What do you think of that? Are you worried about unleashing a dangerous cycle that a lot of the press are worried about? Justifiably.

I suggest the press take it to heart and do better.

What about what Donald Trump does, about “enemy of the people”? Do you look at it that way?

No.

Just that you don’t like falsehoods.

Yeah. There are good journalists and there are bad ones, and unfortunately the feedback loop for good versus bad is inverted, so the more salacious that an article is, the more salacious the headline is, the more clicks it’s gonna get. Then somebody is not a journalist, they are an ad salesman.

What about things that are just critical of you that you don’t like? Do you think you’re particularly sensitive?

No. Of course not. Count how many negative articles there are and how many I respond to. One percent, maybe. But the common rebuttal of journalists is, “Oh. My article’s fine. He’s just thin-skinned.” No, your article is false and you don’t want to admit it.

Do you take criticism to heart correctly?

Yes.

Give me an example of something if you could.

How do you think rockets get to orbit?

That’s a fair point.

Not easily. Physics is very demanding. If you get it wrong, the rocket will blow up. Cars are very demanding. If you get it wrong, a car won’t work. Truth in engineering and science is extremely important.

Right. And therefore?

I have a strong interest in the truth.

All right. And you are —

Much more than journalists do.

What I’m trying to get to is, do you want to acknowledge when you do this it does set off … People beyond you that listen to you, you have a fan base that’s quite rabid, I would say.

No, I wouldn’t say that.

No?

I think they’re great.

All of them?

No, not all of them.

The “excruciating” year of 2018

Let’s talk about this year. What has gone on this year with you?

It’s been a very difficult year. We had the Model 3 production ramp, which was excruciatingly difficult. It is incredibly difficult to survive as a car company. Incredibly difficult. People have no idea how much pain people at Tesla went through, including myself. It was excruciating.

Talk about that toll.

Pretty sure I burnt out a bunch of neurons during this process. Running both SpaceX and Tesla is an incredibly difficult … You realize we’re fighting the incredibly competitive car companies. They make very good cars. They’ve been doing this for a long time. They are entrenched. Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Lexus, you name it. All those car brands. And the history of car companies in America is terrible. The only ones that haven’t gone bankrupt are Tesla and Ford. That’s it. Everyone else has gone bankrupt.

You put too much pressure on yourself this year, or it just is what you’re doing?

It sounds like you’re not hearing me. Making a car company successful is monumentally difficult. There have been many attempts to create a car company and they have all failed, even the ones that have had a strong base of customers, thousands of dealers, thousands of service centers, they’ve already spent the capital for the factories, like GM and Chrysler, still went bankrupt in the last recession. Ford and Tesla made it barely through the last recession. There’s a good chance Ford doesn’t make it in the next recession. So, as a startup, a car company, it is far more difficult to be successful than if you’re an established, entrenched brand. It is absurd that Tesla is alive. Absurd! Absurd.

What do you credit that to?

Excruciating effort.

By you and —

Hundred-hour weeks by everyone.

By everyone here at Tesla.

Yes. There wasn’t some other way to do this.

Why does Musk push himself so hard?

What I want to get at is why you’re doing that. It’s not a trivial … Why do you think you want to push yourself that hard?

Well, the other option would have been, Tesla dies.

Right.

Yeah. Tesla cannot die. Tesla is incredibly important for the future of sustainable transport and energy generation. The fundamental purpose, the fundamental good that Tesla provides is accelerating the advent of sustainable transport and energy production.

Which I think most people credit you for doing. Pushing everyone else into it at the same time, correct?

Yes. The success of Tesla is, by far, the biggest forcing function for the other carmakers to get into into electric cars. They’ve said so.

No, there’s no question. I was just having a discussion with someone the other day, and I said, “He has pushed everybody into this, really dramatically. There wouldn’t have been this much investment. There wouldn’t have been this.”

Yes. It’s very important for the future of the world. It’s very important for all life on Earth. This supersedes political parties, race, creed, religion, it doesn’t matter. If we do not solve the environment, we’re all damned.

And this way via sustainable transportation.

Yes. It sort of blows my mind, all these social justice warriors driving around in diesel cars. It’s outrageous.

You’re doing this to yourself because you think that the world depends … Not the fate of the world. You’re not a cartoon character.

No, I think the electrification of transport, and there’s also an important part of Tesla which is solar and stationary batteries, because you need to generate electricity in a standard, sustainable way with solar and then store it at night when the sun goes down with batteries, and then use that energy from the sun to power cars. Without Tesla, this would still happen. There would still be a transition to sustainable energy, but it would take much longer. History will judge this, obviously, but I would say on the order of 10 years, maybe 20 years.

So, pushing it forward by that much.

Yes. I think it’s probably fair to say that Tesla has advanced sustainable energy by at least five years, conservatively, and maybe closer to 10, and then if we continue to make progress, we might advance it by 20 years. This could be all the difference in the world.

What is the toll on you? What has been the toll on you and your employees? How do you think about that?

It’s been terrible. This year felt like five years of aging, frankly. The worst year of my entire career. Insanely painful.

Was there any other way to do it? You didn’t think there was any other way to have it happen? Why this year?

For this past year, it’s been because of the Model 3 production ramp. Myself and others at Tesla, we had to go in and fix the mistakes in the Model 3 production system, and there were a lot of them. I personally solved a bunch. Jerome [Guillen] solved a bunch. Everyone helped, the entire team. Javier [Verdura], Franz [von Holzhausen], Deepak [Ahuja], everyone. It was … like, we had the legal team delivering cars in Q3. Todd [Maron] is great. There was a lot of people … Everyone had to basically go hardcore to solve the ramp.

Self-inflicted wounds and sleep deprivation

I want to get into Tesla specifically, and about the recent results, which I think people were surprised by. You surprised Wall Street and some of your competitors. But when you’re thinking about doing this incredibly complex thing, do you regret some of the things you’ve done to slow it down itself? You know, some of your tweets, some of it is self-inflicted. Do you not see it that way?

Yeah, there’s no question there’s, like, self-inflicted wounds. In fact, my brother said, “Look, if you do a self-inflicted wound, can you at least not twist the knife afterwards?” You stabbed yourself in the leg. You don’t really need to twist it in your leg. Why do that?

So why do you do that?

It’s not intentional. Sometimes you’re just under a lot of pressure, and you’re not getting much sleep, you’re under massive pressure, and you make mistakes.

Is that over? Do you feel like that’s over? Do you feel calmer now?

It’s totally over. I will never make another mistake again.

No, I’m teasing you. But how do you … You look well. You don’t look under a lot of pressure. You seem rested.

Yeah. Things are back to a hard work schedule, but not an insane work schedule. I was, there were times when, some weeks … I don’t know. I haven’t counted exactly, but I would just sort of sleep for a few hours, work, sleep for a few hours, work, seven days a week. Some of those days must have been 120 hours or something nutty. You’re gonna go a little bonkers if you work 120 hours a week. Now we’re down to 80 or 90. It’s pretty manageable.

And you had talked in the New York Times about using Ambien and stuff like that. That was to regulate your sleep, correct?

Yeah. It’s not like for fun or something.

No, not at all.

No, it’s just like, if you’re super-stressed, you can’t go to sleep. You either have a choice of, like, okay, I’ll have zero sleep and then my brain won’t work tomorrow, or you’re gonna take some kind of sleep medication to fall asleep.

Tesla’s profitable quarter and self-driving cars

You turned in a great quarter. How do you look at where you’re going with the Model 3 and others?

I think at Tesla we’re doing pretty well right now. Tesla’s not staring death in the face. We’re in, I think, a pretty good position. We don’t want to be complacent, but it’s not … Up until around September, we were really faced with, like, “We must solve this or we’re gonna die,” constantly. I feel like we’re no longer in the staring-death-in-the-face situation.

What, is death over and sitting in a seat nearby?

Well, you never want to get complacent, so we still need to work hard, but I think we’re over the hump. We’re certainly over the hump on Model 3 production. For us, making 5,000 cars in a week for Model 3 is not a big deal. That’s just normal. Now we’re working on raising to 6,000 and then 7,000 Model 3s a week, while still keeping costs under control. We could probably do 6,000 or more, maybe 6,500 Model 3s a week right now, but it would have to stress people out and do tons of overtime.

Talk about the new navigation feature.

Drive on Navigation?

Right.

That’s I think one of the first major steps toward full self-driving. You can enter in an address, and from highway on-ramp to highway off-ramp, the car will change lanes. It will go from one highway to the next automatically, and take off-ramp automatically. It’s pretty wild. It’ll overtake a slow car. It’s basically integrating navigation with the Autopilot capability. That’s why we call it Navigate on Autopilot, or Drive on Nav.

What are the challenges that you face with these technologies now, from your perspective?

Well, the main challenge has been improving the neural net so that we can recognize all types of objects from all eight cameras. There are eight cameras: Three forward, two on each side, and one rear. The big challenge has been solving a wide range of corner cases. So if you have a —

These are things that just happen.

Yeah, the roads are pretty messy, so you could have, say, skid marks on the road that look like a line. Sometimes tar seams look like a line. Sometimes the lines are just painted wrong, for some reason. One of our biggest challenges, actually, with Drive on Navigation was dealing with forks and gores, where if a lane is splitting, you need to be confident that you’re going either left or right, not down the center. And the car will come to a halt at the first intersection.

Now we’re integrating stop signs, traffic lights, being able to do, say, hard right turns or hairpin bends and that kind of thing.

What about regulations? The regulatory environment right now? Because that’s gonna be part of it, or else building out infrastructure that will have sensors in roads or things like that? How do you look at that, or you’re just not even thinking about it?

Yeah, we’re not really thinking about it. We’re assuming that there won’t be —

You’re not assuming.

No. The car needs to drive better than a human driver using the same inputs as a human driver. Eyes are basically just cameras. All creatures on Earth navigate with cameras. A fish eagle can see a fish from far away and take into account the refractive index of the water, dive down and get the fish from far away. There’s no question that image-recognition neural nets and cameras, you can be superhuman at driving with just cameras.

You don’t need anything else, from the government or from infrastructure or anything. I was recently talking to the Mercedes people. They were talking about sensors in the roads.

Yeah, that’s hopeless. That would, at best, be a specialized solution, and whatever city puts stuff in roads … You can always make something work for a specific solution, like some special-case solution in some town, you can make that easy, but what you really want is a general solution for self-driving that works worldwide.

Tesla’s competitors

I’d love you to sort of assess the competitive landscape. Faraday just lost another founder today, which was the hot company, or the allegedly hot company, I think that’s probably easier to say it that way. Lucid got a billion dollars. How do you assess — Google’s working on stuff, Uber still seems to be hanging in there. I’d love to get your assessment of all of them.

Yeah. I don’t really think that much about competitors. I just say like, you know, how do we make our cars as good as possible? How do we make sure we have like the best engineering and manufacturing talent in the world?

It’s sort of like the old adage with, you know, running … If you start looking at the other runners, it’s not good, you know. Like, you can lose races because of that.

Which one of them, do you think, is the furthest ahead or closest to you all?

Self-driving, maybe Google, Waymo? I don’t think anyone is close to Tesla in terms of achieving a general solution for working on —

Overall solution.

Yeah. Yeah. You can definitely make things work like in one particular city or something like that by special-casing it, but in order to work, you know, all around the world in all these different countries where there’s, like, different road signs, different traffic behavior, there’s like every weird corner case you can imagine. You really have to have a generalized solution. And best to my knowledge, no one has a good generalized solution except … and I think no one is likely to achieve a generalized solution to self-driving before Tesla. I could be surprised, but…

So none of the car companies. None of the car companies.

No.

Do you ever look and go, “Okay, that’s interesting what they’re doing there.”

The other car companies … I don’t wanna sound overconfident, but I would be very surprised if any of the car companies exceeded Tesla in self-driving, in getting to full self-driving.

You know, I think we’ll get to full self-driving next year. As a generalized solution, I think. But that’s a … Like, we’re on track to do that next year. So I don’t know. I don’t think anyone else is on track to do it next year.

Why Tesla is not going private after all

So the challenge you face is financial, though. Getting funding and stuff like that. And you’ve gotten … Saudis had bought a big bunch of your stock, that’s just separate, they —

They might have sold it, I don’t know.

Yeah, we don’t know what they have now. But where do you get the money? Talk about the finances of doing this, because that’s what could really hurt you, is not having enough capital.

You know … I mean, as I said earlier this year, I think we will be cash-flow positive for all quarters going forward.

All quarters going forward. So do you need more investment?

No, I don’t think so.

Do you need to go private? Are you still contemplating that?

We don’t need to go private. I think we could execute better if we were private.

Without all the attention?

Yeah, you know, not to harp on those short-sellers, because people think I have this obsession with them, but I spent like 1 percent [or] less of time thinking about them —

It’s the tweets, Elon. But go ahead.

Less than 1 percent of my tweets have anything to do with short-sellers. But the issue is that there’s a group of people who are quite smart, very mean, and have a strong financial interest in Tesla’s downfall.

And what that results in is a constant attack on the Tesla brand, on me personally, on the executive team, on our cars. You know, every mistake we make is amplified.

Going private would definitely result in some short-term drama. Let’s say we’re private, and then we went public five years from now. Then the area under the curve of brand damage by short-sellers would be probably less than the short-term difficulty of going private in the first place. That was the approximate calculus.

And then also being public, particularly when everyone at the company is a shareholder, causes a lot of distraction when the share price moves around a lot. It tends to end up being like a mood, to some degree, a mood thermometer. So it’s like the stock goes down, people are sad and feel undercompensated. And then when the stock goes up, people are exuberant, overly exuberant, and you get distracted thinking about what you’re going to buy.

Right, right.

So, like, neither of these things are great. When you have big moves in the stock, this just causes a distraction.

The Tesla Semi, pickup truck and other new products

Okay. All right, so last thing on this, on Tesla, these new products. The truck, the Roadster, do you have another thing you’re making?

Ha-ha. We definitely do.

Do you have a vertical lift and takeoff?

The supersonic VTOL jet, electric jet.

Yeah. Perhaps a hovercraft like Larry Page, I don’t know.

No, hovercrafts are pretty straightforward.

Yeah. Okay, sure. For you.

A supersonic vertical-takeoff-and-landing electric jet would be interesting to do at some point, I think. But my head would definitely explode if I tried to do that right now.

But I’ve been thinking about that design for nine years. It’s great.

It’s great? It’s in your head?

Yeah. I mean, I wrote down some of it, but …

But the truck is more immediate, [and] the Roadster? When do those come online?

I think it’s literally the most exciting product lineup of any company in the world. Certainly from a consumer standpoint. I’ll just go through the things that are publicly announced.

You’ve got the Model Y, which is the midsize SUV. You’ve got the Semi truck, which is, can be great for really heavy transport. It’ll be like the heaviest class of truck, of industrial truck.

We’ve got the next-generation Roadster. Which will be the fastest sports car on every dimension. Fastest acceleration, fastest top speed, best handling. It’s important to have an electric sports car that’s faster than the fastest gasoline sports car. And it helps address that halo effect that gasoline sports cars have. So I think it’s important to do that to show that, you know, electric is the best architecture.

Then we’ve got the pickup truck, which — actually, I’m personally most excited about the pickup truck.

Why’s that?

Well I can’t talk about the details, but it’s gonna be like a really futuristic-like cyberpunk, “Blade Runner” pickup truck. It’s gonna be awesome, it’s gonna be amazing. This will be heart-stopping. It stops my heart. It’s like, oh, it’s great.

Who do you wanna sell that to? People that buy F— whatever?

You know, I actually don’t know if a lot of people will buy this pickup truck or not, but I don’t care.

Okay.

I mean I do care, eventually, you know. Like sure, I care. We wanna get gasoline, diesel pickup trucks off the road.

Right.

It’s something I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. If there’s only a small number of people that like that truck, I guess we’ll make a more conventional truck in the future. But it’s the thing that I am personally most fired up about.

Do you have a motorcycle?

No. I rode motorbikes a lot when I was a kid. So I did, like, dirt biking and then rode a motorcycle on the road. And then I almost got killed when I was 17. Most people are paralyzed, but depending on how you count it, the probability of death in a motorcycle versus —

It’s quite high.

It’s 25 times higher.

Yeah, my brother is a doctor. He calls them donor-mobiles, actually.

Yeah. Like organ donors. So, we’re not gonna make motorcycles.

But a few more Tesla products that are cool: We’re almost done with the development of the solar tile roof. So we have those on a few hundred roofs right now. And we’re just doing testing to make sure they have long-term durability.

These are tile roofs, these are tiles on the roofs? Yeah.

Yeah, the solar tile roof where it looks like a normal, beautiful tile roof. But it’s actually solar. And, like, that development process is longer than we’d like, because we’ve got to make sure that the roof’s gonna stand up for 30 years.

Sure.

And even when you do accelerated lab testing on a solar roof, it still takes a while. And we’ve gotta put a lot of work into making the installation process easy, so it doesn’t take ages to install a roof.

Then we’ve got the Powerwall battery storage system. We’ve got the Powerpack, which is used for utilities on industrial scale. We’re gonna have some other exciting announcements on the stationary storage front. So when you —

This is within the homes?

I can’t talk more about it, but there’s —

Presumably.

We have a large product on the stationary storage side that I think will be very compelling for utility customers.

Okay, all right. So, a Roadster. Any planes?

No plans to make planes at Tesla.

SpaceX and dying on Mars

Well let’s get to rockets, then. SpaceX. Last time we talked, you said you wanted to die on Mars, just not on landing. Which was a very funny joke, although it’s probably not a joke, it’s probably —

Well, it’d be ironic if that had happened. I have to be careful about tempting fate, because I think often the most ironic outcome is the most probable.

It just very often seems like reality tries to … Actually, technically, there’s a friend of mine, Jonah Nolan, who had this like modification of Occam’s razor where he said he thinks “the most ironic outcome is the most likely.” And then I think that there’s some truth to that. And then also I think sometimes the most entertaining outcome is the most likely.

Instead of discussing your death, let’s discuss what’s going on at SpaceX. What are some of the things you’re doing?

We successfully launched the Falcon Heavy rocket, which is the most powerful rocket in the world by a factor of two. So that’s twice the power, twice the thrust of the next biggest rocket. And we actually launched a Tesla — my Tesla Roadster — to Mars orbit. The reason we did that is actually because, normally, when a new rocket is launched, you just put a dummy payload, which is like a block of concrete or something.

Right. Not creative in any way.

Super-boring. So we were like, okay, what is the least boring thing we can launch?

And then next year, the exciting things are we’re gonna be launching astronauts for the first time to the space station. It’ll really be the first time a vehicle from the United States launches astronauts into orbit since the Space Shuttle, which —

Which has been some years, right?

2010 or something like that? Since then, the United States has relied upon the Russian Soyuz, which actually recently has had some issues.

Donald Trump’s Space Force and colonizing beyond Earth

What do you think of the Space Force? The Trump Space Force?

Well, this may be a little controversial, but I actually like the idea. I think it’s cool. You know, like, when the Air Force was formed, there was a lot of like pooh-poohing, and like, “Oh, how silly to have an Air Force!” You know, because the aircraft in World War II were managed by the Army.

Right.

And so you had the Army and the Navy and the Coast Guard and the Marines, and then … it became pretty obvious that you really needed a specialized division to manage aircraft. And so the Air Force was created.

And people today may not realize back then it was wildly panned as a ridiculous thing to create the Air Force, but now everyone’s like, “Obviously, you should have an Air Force.” And I think it’s gonna become obvious that we should have a Space Force, too.

Out there, to do what?

You know, it’s basically defense in space. And then I think also it could be pretty helpful for maybe expanding our civilization … You know, expanding things beyond Earth.

I think we could just have a base on the moon, for example. A base on Mars. Be great to expand on the idea of a Space Force. Anyone who has an exploratory spirit, and I think that especially applies to a country like the United States, where you know it’s kind of the distillation of the spirit of human exploration. I think the idea of being out there among the stars and among the planets is very exciting.

All right. And, Mars. Last time we talked, it was 2024, was it? That you talked about getting there?

Yeah, we’re still aiming for 2024.

Okay. And you going? Or someone going?

I don’t know if I will go or not. It may be just an unmanned mission, you know. I’m not sure if there’ll be people onboard or not.

But there is a Mars rendezvous opportunity, ’cause you can only do a launch to Mars roughly every two years. So around the 2024 timeframe, there’s a rendezvous opportunity for Mars, which hopefully we can catch. There’s one in 2022 —

So an unmanned flight to Mars?

Hopefully, there are people on board. But I think there’s a pretty good chance of at least having an unmanned craft go to Mars. I think we will try to do this.

Do you think NASA should continue to exist, or all these space agencies by the government?

Yeah, I certainly think NASA should continue to exist, NASA does a lot of really useful things, and these go beyond astronaut transport. There are missions to rovers on Mars that are thanks to NASA. There are these planetary probes, there’s the Hubble Telescope. NASA does a tremendous amount of good, and ideally we should actually increase the budget of NASA. I think it’s high time that we went beyond Earth orbit again. I think it’s very exciting and inspiring, and I think it really gets the whole world fired up.

When the first humans stepped foot on the Moon, it was probably the most inspiring thing, maybe in history? We should try to do more of that stuff.

How do you look at what [Jeff] Bezos is doing with Blue Origin, because I suppose that’s the most comparable private thing going on?

Yeah, I think it’s great that Jeff is spending lots of money on space. I think it will encounter some challenges getting to orbit; it’s remarkably difficult getting to orbit. But he has the resources to overcome those difficulties. He’s got some spare change in the couch, I think.

You’re not buying a newspaper, are you?

No, I don’t generally acquire things.

Yeah, just curious.

I create companies, but I don’t really acquire them. So I wouldn’t … I have no plans. It does seem to be popular these days.

The Boring Company, dad jokes and drilling technology

So let’s finish up the last two things. Boring Company, I was just with Eric Garcetti in Los Angeles —

Oh, great, yeah. Eric’s been a great supporter.

Yeah, he has. He says, “Anything to cut traffic.” He doesn’t care. I was like, “Why do you think these people are interested in traffic so much?” And he said, “Because no matter how rich you are, everybody can get caught in traffic. And so they just want to do something about it.”

Yeah, Eric’s been really supportive of our activity in L.A. I mean, technically, our first tunnels are in Hawthorne. But we do expect to, over time, create a network of tunnels under greater L.A. And I think this is really the key to getting around the city very fast. You’ve got to go 3-D. Our offices are 3-D and dense, but we then have a 2-D road transport network.

So you’re thinking all around, lots of roads within the tunnels?

Yeah, many levels of tunnels, so —

Right, like a subway system?

Yeah, but even subways tend to be essentially two-dimensional. You’ll have a subway cross another subway, but they’ve never really tried to make many layers of subways. The cost of tunneling, historically, has been prohibitive. And they’ve also been incredibly slow. The typical cost for a subway, per-mile cost for a subway in the U.S. has been about a billion dollars a mile, so that is not a very scalable solution.

So tunnels?

You could certainly have a subway system which had many layers of tunnels, but the tunnels are so prohibitively expensive that they don’t do it. But you can go down 100 levels if you want to; you could have 100 layers of tunnels on top of each other. You can go further down than you can go up. So the deepest mines are much deeper than the tallest buildings. But, really, the key is a massive improvement in tunneling technology. That’s the linchpin, that’s fundamentally what it amounts to. And as I got sort of digging into tunnels … Ha-ha, good one.

Do you say that? Please don’t do that, you need to stop. Is that how you amuse yourself?

Yeah, yeah, no, I’ve got a million of ’em.

“Digging in?”

Tunnels are really so underappreciated. They have no place to go but down.

Oh my god. All right, okay. These are dad jokes, you know that?

I am a dad, so —

I’m glad you’re amused with yourself, go ahead.

No, no, it’s a terrible habit. I laugh at my own jokes, even with the terrible ones. So, what I discovered is that there are massive improvements possible in tunneling technology.

When will one be useful? The Hawthorne one, it’s a test tunnel?

Yeah, we’re about to finish the first test tunnel.

At what cost?

I don’t know, I think it’s probably … Excluding the equipment, probably cost us $10 million for a mile. It’s one-way, admittedly, but —

So when will people be able to use it, actually use it?

We’re planning on having an opening party on Dec. 10th, in six weeks.

Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi investors and techlash

One thing I didn’t ask: When you had been looking to go private with Tesla, you had talked to the Saudis. How do you feel about them now? I ask every internet executive this now, given the amount of money they have in the system.

Yeah, well I mean, it’s important to appreciate that the Saudis have been approaching me for two years about going private. It wasn’t like spur-of-the-moment.

But I’m talking about in the wake of Khashoggi’s murder.

Yeah, I mean, that sounds pretty bad. So … that is not good. That is bad.

That is bad.

That was really bad, it was really —

Would you take their money now?

I think we probably would not, yes.

Okay, and what about their influence in Silicon Valley, given the billions that are being poured in here?

I know I can’t speak to that, I mean, it’s not … Saudi Arabia’s an entire country, so I think you don’t want to, if there’s one really bad thing that occurred, nail down the whole country, it’s not great.

It’s their ruler.

Sure.

It’s their ruler, it’s the guy who runs everything.

They didn’t elect him, you know?

No, they didn’t, that’s right. No, I get that, I’m not impugning all Saudis, but it is the government.

I think we should just consider that there is a whole country, and there’s, you know … There are a lot of good people in Saudi Arabia, and Saudis who are outside of Saudi Arabia. So I think you cannot paint an entire country with one brush.

No, no, I’m just talking about the people who have the money.

I think there are serious issues, it’s not good.

And what about the techlash itself? You had been a critic of how — the responsibility around AI, around diversity of AI. About the power that’s held by Facebook and Google and others, in previous interviews we’ve done. How do you look at that now?

It probably makes sense if something is responsible for a public good, and could potentially negatively affect elections or something like that, that there probably should be some regulatory oversight to ensure that we’re not negatively affecting the democratic process. That the quality of news is good and not unduly influenced. These seem like sensible things.

At the time we’d talked a couple years ago, you were worried about the power that Google and Facebook were assembling in AI, and you were worried about AI itself. And I think one of the things that you had said that really struck me was that it wasn’t going to kill us, it would treat us like house cats. I thought that was a really striking way to think about it.

In the long term, as AI gets probably much smarter than humans, the relative intelligence ratio is probably similar to that between a person and a cat, maybe bigger. I do think we need to be very careful about the advancement of AI and —

And you’re still worried about it in that way?

My recommendation for the longest time has been consistent. I think we ought to have a government committee that starts off with insight, gaining insight. Spends a year or two gaining insight about AI or other technologies that are maybe dangerous, but especially AI. And then, based on that insight, comes up with rules in consultation with industry that give the highest probability for a safe advent of AI.

You think that — do you see that happening?

I do not.

How is Musk feeling about the future?

How are you feeling about the future, when what appears to be reality …?

For some reason, I feel optimistic. And I’m not sure if that is irrational or not.

Does this polarization affect you? You’ve pulled yourself off the Trump councils, I know you and I talked about whether … I said you shouldn’t go, ’cause he was gonna screw you, remember?

Well, you were right.

I am right, thank you, Elon. I know that. But you feel, in the midst of this polarization, these bombings, the president continually being divisive, you feel optimistic?

Yeah. By the way, I still think it was worth trying to be on the Trump councils, and especially just to be an advocate for climate, I did my absolute best.

Yes, I know you did. I think I called you, I think I said, “You’re not Jesus, it’s not going to work.”

I definitely do not think I am Jesus.

No, I know you don’t. I think I was just trying to egg you into getting off the councils.

Arguably, it was unlikely, but it was worth a shot, yeah.

Right, would you do it again?

Do you mean now, or …?

Yeah.

I don’t know, are there councils?

No. But you’re optimistic, given all this polarization? Are you thinking about the midterm elections?

I am thinking about the midterm elections, and I did vote, by the way.

Me, too. Today.

Though I do wonder what effect a vote in California has. There’s so much gerrymandering of electoral districts that it seems like … I voted for the sake of voting, but things are very divisive right now, politically. But it’s probably not wise for me to wade into political debates, it’s a no-win situation.

Right, I got it. But how do you feel — as a citizen, how do you feel?

I definitely wish people wouldn’t yell at each other quite so much, I wish there was less hate.

If he got one redo on something from 2018, what would he redo?

Right, okay, my last question. If you had to redo anything this year, Elon, what would it be?

It’s fair to say I would probably not have tweeted some of the things I tweeted, that was probably unwise. And probably not gotten into some of the online fights that I got into. I probably shouldn’t have attacked journalists, probably shouldn’t have done that.

I don’t know why you do it.

Yes.

Yeah, do you want to say you’re sorry? You can if you want.

I’m sorry to some journalists.

Okay, I’ll give you that, I’ll give you that. Okay, I’ll give you that. Elon, podcast secured.

Thank you, Kara. It was great to see you.

It’s been a really fascinating discussion, and I will think about buying an electric car, probably not.

I mean, why not?

Make a scooter. Make a scooter and I’ll go for it. They actually are electric, what am I talking about?

I don’t know, there was some people in the studio who wanted to make a scooter, but I was like, “Uh, no.”

I love the scooter, no, get on the scooter.

It lacks dignity.

No, it doesn’t lack dignity.

Yes, they do.

They don’t lack dignity, what are you talking about?

Have you tried driving one of those things? They —

Yes, I do it all the time, I look fantastic.

They do not, you are laboring under an illusion.

All right, well, everybody at Lime, don’t worry, Elon Musk is not coming for you.

Electric bike. I think we might do an electric bike, yeah.

All right, perhaps. All right, Elon Musk, thank you very much. I appreciate it.

That was a pleasure, thank you. It was good to see you.

Social Problems: Critical Media Analysis

CJ Trowbridge

Social Problems

2018-10-30

Critical Media Analysis Midterm Paper

The group I studied was Stand Up Placer which is a nonprofit working on the issue of the human trafficking of children, and the victim-centered approach to this issue. Stand Up Placer worked hard to get Placer County and its municipalities to take a victim-centered approach to human trafficking enforcement, treating the victims as legitimate victims rather than criminal prostitutes. I expect that most news coverage of human trafficking will be an attempt by cities to label themselves as serious about “solving the problem,” but not clear on exactly how to do so. I hope to see more victim-centered enforcement, but I don’t expect to.

In “All-out effort to bring human trafficking out in the open” from the San Jose Mercury News published January 7, 2014, author Nancy O’Malley summarizes the human trafficking situation in Oakland using the FBI as a claimsmaker, “The FBI has identified Oakland as an epicenter of trafficking in the Bay Area counties. The majority of exploited children are 13 to 16 years old, some as young as 11.” This age range is actually not unusual. The FBI’s choice of the word “epicenter” is interesting considering there have been only 350 prosecutions since 2005. For comparison, Placer County had 141 just last year. Furthermore, the author comments that she is shocked when she quotes local human trafficking nonprofit claimsmaker M.i.s.s.s.e.y. as saying that human trafficking numbers in Oakland are increasing; the common-grounds rhetorical strategy of an increasing danger or risk which potentially affects us all. This fact however is also no surprise; the numbers in Placer County have more than doubled each of the last few years. In O’Malley’s words, “There are two sides — supply and demand — that make sex trafficking of our children possible. Human trafficking exists because there is an endless and disgraceful demand for children for sex and traffickers fill that demand daily.”

The author talks about several policymaking steps which have been taken to move towards a solution on this issue. First, a Regional Intelligence Center has been established and is working closely with local police to maintain a high rate of prosecution on child human trafficking cases. Secondly, a public advertising campaign has been launched with the goal of using media coverage and billboards to inform people in Oakland that purchasing children for sex is a crime…. Yes really. The policy outcomes seem clear. Informing people that purchasing children for sex is a crime is an absurd way to attempt to address this problem. It’s a waste of advertising money which could be spent on enforcement. The uptick in enforcement with the backing of federal resources though does seem like it has the potential to create a positive outcome in the community. For now, the problem is still getting worse. We will see with time whether this strategy will be effective. As we will see in the next article, full enforcement of human trafficking laws is not a given, and this is one way in which Oakland is ahead of the game in addressing human trafficking.

In “’FINALLY BELIEVING’; Reports rise of human trafficking in Humboldt County; officials seek unified response, say bringing offenders to justice proves challenging,” published in the Eureka Times-Standard on August 26, 2018, author Will Houston argues a very different point. He quotes the local district attorney as a claimsmaker who shares that despite the same dramatic rise in human trafficking that we are seeing elsewhere (over 600 reports last year), Humboldt County has had only one successful human trafficking conviction, EVER. And that person is already out of prison. A claimsmaker referred to only as an “area official” says that one unique factor in Humboldt County which makes the problem of human trafficking more difficult to address is the deep entrenchment of organized crime related to the underground drug industry. The author also quotes the district attorney as blaming the victims for the lack of enforcement, “Ultimately, one of the biggest challenges is gaining the cooperation of survivors and victims that are being trafficked.” From the other side of the judicial power dynamic, Katrina Taylor is a claimsmaker who was also used as a rhetorical typifying example, having formerly been a human trafficking victim. The author quotes Taylor as saying, “one of the biggest problems is the victims themselves don’t even know they’re victims… I didn’t even know I was a victim. It wasn’t until I started hearing and seeing scenarios of different cases and people when I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s me.’” Taylor is now working with local organizations to try to expand education about human trafficking so that victims can learn that they are victims and seek help. At an upcoming meeting of the county board of supervisors, funding will be discussed to further study the issue.

This is a pretty shocking article for me. Just a few hundred miles from Placer and Alameda counties where there is enormous enforcement and a plethora of victim resources, Humboldt county is still in the stone age in terms of dealing with the problem of human trafficking. Humboldt County is doing essentially nothing despite the fact that the problem seems empirically worse than in “Epicenter” Oakland.

Quick Meta Analysis: According to numbers taken from the article, with just 0.6% of California’s population, Humboldt County’s reported human trafficking makes up 7% of all the reported human trafficking in California, whereas Oakland has 4% of the reported human trafficking with 1.4% of the population. Humboldt County’s per capita incidence of reported human trafficking is therefore four times higher than Oakland’s, yet Humboldt county is doing nothing about it, while Oakland is labeled “Epicenter.” This seems like a very biased FBI policy which ignores the affluent white area’s HT crime rate while highlighting the poorer, blacker area’s relatively lower HT crime rate.

In “How VTAs human trafficking awareness training inspired a state Assembly bill,” The Mercury News on June 14, 2018, author Kristin Lam discusses an important new statewide bill to tackle human trafficking. The author summarizes the grounds for this policy by saying that the bill is based on important earlier work done by the Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority, “ the bill aims to equip public transit workers with the skills to identify and report signs of human trafficking in and around transit systems.” Assemblymember Ash Kalra elaborates, “human trafficking… occurs along our streets or along our transit nodes and our transit system… We want to make sure we do everything we can to combat the scourge of human trafficking.” The author expands, “Through the training, they learn to recognize potential red flags: related to lack of freedom and control and poor mental and physical health. When they encounter indicators of human trafficking, VTA workers follow a protocol of who to call and what to do.” This law would apply to all public transit workers throughout California because as the Santa Clara Human Trafficking Commission’s legal services chair Ruth Taube said, “Typically the traffickers move the survivors or the victims around to different cities and counties. So I think it’s important for combating human trafficking that we have consistent training.”

This seems like an interesting and novel strategy to attack the problem in a potentially effective way. Absent from the article is any projection of how many victims could be rescued through this new program. The author does go over several other efforts at similar types of exposure around human trafficking, including mandatory pamphlets placed in certain businesses by law. Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen is quoted as hedging on the effectiveness of these types of strategies, “It’s hard to get details from trafficking victims about exactly why they sought help.” This seems to indicate that the official, conscious strategy is just to throw everything at the wall and hope something sticks, without much expectation of accountability for the spending or the effectiveness of the specific methods. The warrants seem clea here, but the conclusions seem vague. It is more about doing something, than about doing the right thing.

In conclusion, my initial hypothesis was correct. None of these jurisdictions seems to know what to do about a problem that is getting dramatically worse every year, but all of them want to be seen to do something. Materially, that ranges from essentially nothing as is the case in Humboldt County with its upcoming public debate on whether to research the issue, to mandatory statewide training of all transit employees as human trafficking sleuths. I was very surprised by the way the local paper in Humboldt county seemed totally fine with the fact that there is essentially no enforcement despite a far more serious crime rate than Oakland with its “HT Epicenter” moniker. There is no clear consensus about how to address the issue. Everyone is trying something different, and none of the ideas seems to be working, as the rates are still showing ubiquitous exponential growth. It is interesting to consider the converse relationship between perception and reality in Oakland versus Humboldt. I think the public would feel more afraid in Oakland before reading these articles, and more afraid in Humboldt after reading them. It’s worth reflecting on the biases that lead us to these conclusions.

A Call To Empathy!

LGBT1 – Midterm Exam

CJ Trowbridge

LGBT1

2018-10-23

LGBT1 Midterm Exam

  1. 1.

What is the problem of the gender binary? The sexual orientation binary? Explain how these binaries are both repressive and constructive. (What does it mean for power to be repressive and constructive too? Apply this to both gender identity and sexual orientation.)

 

The gender binary is a social construct which does not reflect reality. This fact creates tension for people who do not fit into the contrived metaphor of a gender binary as imposed and constructed by those in power. One of the most common reasons a person may not fit into one of the binary genders is biology. There are dozens of biological conditions under the umbrella of intersex which place a person outside the gender binary. This leads to repression towards the person by the people around them and the people in power in local culture; the intersex person is often forced into one of the binary options which does not reflect the reality of the person. Sometimes this involves surgical gender assignment of infants or children, all at the behest of the people in power who impose cultural constructs about gender on the child and parents.

Another common reason a person may not fit the gender binary is because they recognize it as a social construct and do not accept it as a valid structure to define themselves within. Rejecting imposed structures is a fundamental quality of humanity. We want to break out. We want to be free. We construct and define ourselves outside the rules and norms which we are given by people in power. For many people, including genderqueer, transgender, and other groups, rejecting imposed ideas of gender becomes a fundamental part of their identity. The flawed social construct of the binary is often the first thing to be rejected during this process of self-construction.

Many transgender people feel that they were born in the wrong physiological sex; a belief that is corroborated by brain structure analyses and other means. These people may decide that their true identity lies across the binary, or that it lies outside the binary. No matter what the reason is that a person may reject their place within the binary, they all hold in common the truth that the binary is a socially constructed and fundamentally invalid perspective with which to approach reality.

The sexual orientation binary is another social construct which does not reflect reality. It is the result of myths and misinformation about sexual orientation which have percolated through our post-dark-age culture to form a stew of superstitious nonsense which many people attempt to use as a lens through which to view the world. It is convenient for them to use simple concepts to describe other people. This is a major factor in the categorization and labeling of people into sexual orientation groups by those in power. The problem is that it does not reflect reality. Early sexual research showed that there is a bell curve on the spectrum between homosexual and heterosexual, with most people falling in between rather than at one end. The idea of categorizing all people at one end or the other is repressive nonsense. This fallacious concept has led to criticism and repression of people who experience both types of attraction as “undecided” or “outside the norms.”

Another problem is the fact of asexual people, who experience no sexual attraction whatsoever. These people are clearly not in one of the two categories demanded by the socially constructed idea of a sexual orientation binary.

The sexual orientation binary has another overarching problem; its intransigence or immutability. Once a person has a sexual orientation label, they are likely to conform to that label rather than exploring outside it. This intransigence is imposed by people in power through the construction of these permanent labels which themselves do not reflect the truth of all people.

 

  1. 2.

Explain the tensions between the following groups in one paragraph each: a) LGB and T, b) Traditional Trans Narrative and Genderqueer, c) LGBT vs. Queer.

 

Tension exists between Lesbigays and Transgender people on epistemological, cultural, and historical levels. Epistemologically, Lesbigays generally see themselves as part of a valid gender binary and a valid sexual orientation binary. The Bi- (binary) prefix is right there in the middle of the word “Les-bi-gay.” Transgender people fundamentally reject all or some of these ideas. Culturally, Transgender people have a history all their own. The history of their culture and movement largely took its own direction without the support or aid of the Lesbigays and their movements. The converse is true as well. Lesbigays had their own historical culture and movement which largely excluded Transgender people.

The traditional trans narrative includes an eponymous etymological acceptance of the gender binary. Trans means to cross over. Crossing over between genders implies acceptance of the gender binary. It’s in the meaning of the word “Transgender” and inescapable within that context. Genderqueer people reject the gender binary. They may change from the presentation and role norms of the gender assigned to them at birth, but they reject the idea that there are two sets of presentation and role norms to choose from. They freely accept and reject ideas throughout both sets, and outside either set. This fundamental difference between the two groups creates tension.

LGBT people categorize themselves within a small number of socially constructed identities which accept both the gender and orientation binaries to some degree. Queer people reject all of this. They reject both the binaries and the categories. Queer people see each of these labels as carrying with them systems of oppression which can simply be shrugged off by refusing to play the game of adhering to labels and categories. Their attitude and response to the question of their identity is a simple, “fuck you.” Naturally, this creates tensions between LGBT people and Queer people. Some common conflicts include hate crimes legislation, gay marriage, and gay adoption laws. LGBT people see these as necessary laws to impose equal rights for LGBT people on an unwilling Cis-Het majority electorate. Queer people see these laws as excluding anyone not named in them. The Queer solution would be to remove all government interference with marriage, adoption, etc based on any discriminatory factor, not just for gay people.

LGBT1 – Sister Outsider Quiz

Audre Lorde critically approaches each of her three main intersections. She sees each of these movements as umbrellas which focus unfairly on privileged members to the exclusion of marginalized intersections, perpetuating those other forms of oppression. She approaches Lesbians as a Black Woman. She approaches the Women’s Movement as a Black Lesbian. She approaches Black people as a Lesbian Woman. In “Man Child,” she comments, “Raising Black children — female and male — in the mouth of a racist, sexist, suicidal dragon is perilous and chancy.”(a, pp81) This description of America shows how she considers it at odds with each of her intersectional aspects; as a black person struggling to justify her right to exist, as a woman struggling to justify her right to exist, and as a lesbian struggling to justify her right to exist.

Many other writers take the side of the movement associated with their first adjective. (ie. Black Lesbian Woman vs Lesbian Black Woman vs Woman Lesbian Black.) Lorde does the opposite. Her perspective is to critique each movement from the perspective of the others. In An Open Letter to Mary Daly, Lorde criticizes feminism from the perspective of a Black Lesbian, “Mary has made a conscious decision to narrow her scope and to deal only with the ecology of western european women.”(b, pp75)

 

Lorde’s critique of Mary Daly shows that Mary ignores marginalized groups within the feminist movement and suggests she include examples from these groups in her publications. For example, she writes, “Then, to realize that the only quotations from Black women’s words were the ones you used to introduce your chapter on African genital mutilation made me question why you needed to use them at all.”(a pp76) Lorde goes on to question whether Daly has even read the work of black women beyond skimming it for quotes to copy and paste in order to confirm her preexisting conclusions.

The simplest suggestion Lorde has for Daly is that she live up to her own values and respond to the many criticisms leveled in the open letter, “I would like not to destroy you in my consciousness, not to have to. So as a sister Hag, I ask you to speak to my perceptions.“ (b pp78) Silence on the part of the privileged is an act of oppression, especially silence with regard to oppression. An ally uses privilege to empower and support the oppressed and to interrupt the cycle of oppression. Lorde’s simple suggestion is that Daly demonstrate the principles she espouses to, and offers support and voice for the oppressed intersections under the umbrella of feminism.

Social Problems: Local Claimsmaker Analysis

SOC 301 Social Problems

CJ Trowbridge

Local Claimsmaker Analysis Midterm Paper

Description of the group

Stand Up Placer is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Auburn, California. According to their website, the organization was founded in 1974 by a group of concerned women as a rape crisis line. The organization has grown a lot since then. Today it includes nearly a hundred people of many genders, ethnicities and sexual orientations. I had lunch with CEO Jenny Davidson to talk about how Stand Up Placer provides services for survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking throughout Placer County, and about what kind of impact they are trying to have on the issue of underage prostitution as a subset of human trafficking in the area. I also spoke with one of Stand Up Placer’s volunteers who works with the FBI and local police on human trafficking stings as a decoy, luring Pimps and Johns as part of a larger strategy to tackle the underage prostitution issue in a novel way.

Methodology

I selected this group because I was already familiar with the important work they are doing in the community, and because I have many homophilies with the people involved through other causes and organizations we share stakes in. The main interview took place at Panera in Auburn and lasted about an hour. I also spent about an hour attending a meeting of the Roseville city council along with several staff members from Stand Up Placer. This included Jenny who was scheduled to speak about the issue of human trafficking and child prostitution along with Roseville Police Captain Glynn. The officer was very enthusiastic about Stand Up Placer and about the work being done between the organization and the local police on the issues of prostitution and human trafficking. My last interview with the volunteer who works the front line doing stings with the FBI took place the next day at a Starbucks in Auburn. This interview lasted about an hour as well. The main sources of secondary information were the organization’s website and data published by local police, newspapers, and the Department of Homeland Security.

Grounds

According to the Department of Homeland Security website, “Human trafficking is modern-day slavery and involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act.” According to Davidson, in practice in our area, this usually means young people being forced to have sex with “Johns” by a romantic partner or family member through threats of violence or other types of coercion. In most cases, the trafficking victim is underage.

Quoting from the DHS again, “Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are susceptible for a variety of reasons, including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, lack of a social safety net, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.” When trafficking victims are caught by police, the traditional view holds that the child has committed a crime and should be held responsible as a prostitute.

According to Davidson, the problem is getting much worse, not better. In fact, Stand Up Placer has helped more than fourteen times as many survivors of human trafficking in the first half of 2018 as the entire year of 2015. They are on track to help twice as many people as last year, which was double the year before that. More than half of the survivors are minors, and almost all survivors are under 22 years old.

Warrants

The traditional view that child prostitutes should be held responsible has recently come under scrutiny. Groups like Stand Up Placer are reframing the issue. Talking about child prostitution is an issue with many positions, but when child prostitution is phrased differently becomes human trafficking; a valence issue. The traditional view ignores the obvious fact that child prostitutes are typically victims of human trafficking. They are being coerced into this kind of work through threats and other means. The real criminal is the trafficker. They are taking advantage of vulnerable children and forcing them into prostitution.

According to one of Stand Up Placer’s FBI sting volunteers who I interviewed, an average child in the trafficking industry in our area is forced by the trafficker to have sex with up to ten “Johns” per night. The child is not the criminal here. The idea of punishing a child caught in a bust after they were just forced to have sex with a dozen “Johns” becomes inconceivable to the person who was arguing for punishing criminal child prostitutes under the traditional view of the issue

I think Stand Up Placer’s use of typifying examples and an excellent rhetorical strategy to redirect attention from what used to be considered criminal children to the real villains, traffickers, is an excellent and effective strategy for accomplishing the change they sought to make on this social problem.

Conclusions

Through recent legislative, judicial, and policy accomplishments, the bizarre traditional view is changing. Stand Up Placer is one of the organizations at the forefront of this issue, working with local police and policymakers to change the priority from targeting children who are victims of human trafficking, to instead targeting traffickers. “It’s been years of work to get here,” said Davidson.

When I visited Roseville city council with Stand Up Placer, Roseville Police Captain Marc Glynn described the new strategy around the human trafficking issue in the area. As quoted in the Press Tribune, “Our crime suppression unit will be a victim-centered approach focused on supply and demand. The ‘supply’ will involve undercover operations where we rescue the victims and arrest the pimps,” Glynn said. “The ‘demand’ part of it is where we will set up sting operations where we use ‘reverse Johns’ (in an effort to entice and catch the traffickers). This operation will be a positive move in the right direction.”

Councilman Scott Alvord responded, “I’m really appreciative [sic] how (Roseville Police Department and Stand Up Placer) are working together… You guys (Roseville Police) are catching them and you guys(Stand Up Placer) are taking care of the victims.”

Per Councilman Alvord’s comments, survivors of human trafficking have the need for many important services such as therapy, legal, medical, and housing services. Stand Up Placer provides all of these things free of charge to any survivors who need them.

This change in perspective to treating victims as victims instead of criminals marks a new chapter in enforcement around human trafficking in Placer County and especially in Roseville. No longer will children and other victims of human trafficking be subjected to punishment or treatment as criminal prostitutes rather than the victims of human trafficking that they really are.

Audience

Stand Up Placer does outreach through seminars taught at schools and organizations around the area, as well as through awareness events like Take Back The Night. Many of these outreach methods are targeted at survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence which are other issues the organization deals with. The majority of the human trafficking survivors who come to the organization are coming not from media outreach but directly from police stings. They are rescued and taken to Stand Up Placer in order to get those critical services and start rebuilding their lives.

Relationship with/use of media

Stand Up Placer has a weekly TV show on local public access TV where they talk about important issues relating to human trafficking. They also use social media and lots of outreach events and fundraisers to reach a wide audience with their important message. Most of the substantive policy work they do is done directly with local officials or through Federal intermediaries like Title IX or the FBI.