OpinionWeekend

Required Reading

Interventions by artist Michael Pederson creates humorous and thoughtful moments in the noise of the urbanscape. (via Colossal)
Interventions by artist Michael Pederson create humorous and thoughtful moments in the noise of the urban landscape. (via Colossal)

This week, nonbinary people and transgender visibility, democratic architecture, Amazon is suing reviewers, the earliest use of the ellipsis symbol in English, and more.

 One writer explains why greater transgender visibility hasn’t helped nonbinary people:

Our culture still holds an ingrained suspicion of gender nonconformity, as if people like me exist solely to deceive and harm others. I remember all the times I have been called a freak, an “it” and ugly. To refuse to participate in the gender binary –the idea that there are only “masculinity” and “femininity” which exist in opposition – is to be considered a monster.

 What do we really know about the death of Osama bin Laden?

It’s hard to overstate the degree to which the killing of Osama bin Laden transformed American politics. From a purely practical standpoint, it enabled Obama to recast himself as a bold leader, as opposed to an overly cautious one, in advance of his 2012 re-election campaign. This had an undeniable impact on the outcome of that election. (‘‘Osama bin Laden is dead and General Motors is alive,’’ Joe Biden was fond of boasting on the campaign trail.) Strategically, the death of bin Laden allowed Obama to declare victory over Al Qaeda, giving him the cover he needed to begin phasing U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. And it almost single-handedly redeemed the C.I.A., turning a decade-long failure of intelligence into one of the greatest triumphs in the history of the agency.

 An in-depth look at legendary Japanese film director Hayao Miyazaki:

 Jonas Staal helped build a new parliament for the new Democratic Self-Administration in northern Syria, which is controlled by Kurdish forces:

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Q: Was it difficult to produce?

Jonas Staal: Yes, for many different reasons. The scarcity of certain construction materials is one. The Rojava region is surrounded by the Islamic State, or “Daesh,” and has been able to defend itself effectively but at high costs. This war demands much of the resources from the region. Further, Rojava is not recognized by any state, even though the People’s Protection Units and the Women’s Defense Units (YPG/J) have been at the forefront of fighting a threat that has been created in part due to the devastating wars that the international community has waged in this region, the Iraq war in particular, with support of the Dutch state of which I am a citizen. There are also embargo’s on the economic exchange with Rojava, in and export, partly due to the pressure of the Erdogan regime and its fear that the Kurdish people – long suppressed in the history of Turkey – will undermine the regime’s wish for a one-party state. In part, solutions have been to work with as many local materials as possible and to find international support of cultural and diplomatic foundations willing to contribute to the construction of the parliament and summit, in which we succeeded.

 Amazon is going after reviews they think were bought or written by authors’ friends:

Amazon filed suit against more than a thousand fake reviewers earlier this week.

Amazon is going after reviewers who sold their reviews for $5 on Fiverr, an online platform for minor tasks.

In July of this year, users began to notice that Amazon had begun data mining, linking authors and book reviewers and blocking people from posting reviews of books if Amazon suspected the reviewer knew the author.

Simply interacting with an author on social media like Twitter appeared to be enough for Amazon to consider the author/reviewer relationship compromised.

They are specifically going after 1,114 reviewers.

 This is the notice Facebook users will see “if we have a strong suspicion that an attack could be government-sponsored”:

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 Dr. Anne Toner believes she has identified the earliest use of the ellipsis in English drama, pinning it down to a 1588 edition of the Roman dramatist Terence’s play:

Andria, which had been translated into English by Maurice Kyffin and printed by Thomas East, and in which hyphens, rather than dots, mark incomplete utterances by the play’s characters. Cambridge academic Dr Anne Toner believes this 1588 edition of Roman dramatist Terence’s Andria is the first time the ellipsis was printed in an English play’s script.

Although there are instances of ellipses occurring in letters around the same time, this is the earliest printed version found by Toner following her chronological research into the earliest dramas in print.

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 What happens when the writers for TV shows are not diverse? This:

Writers who speak up in the room aren’t just doing it out of a sense of political correctness. They’re doing it because they know that three-dimensional characters of color make their shows better—and because they know that white writers don’t always get it right. As pretty much any person of color can tell you, it’s easy to tell from watching a series whether there weren’t enough people of color in the writing room. Sex and the City was notoriously terrible at presenting its non-white characters (sample quote: “Yes, he does have a big black cock”). But there are other, more recent examples as well, such as Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt with its poorly executed Native American backstory, and the mystifyingly long-running comedy Two Broke Girls, which traffics in troublesome racial stereotypes, particularly with regard to its Asian character, Han Lee.

 Mia Matsumiya, a violinist who has performed in rock bands in New York for the past 10 years, recently revealed that she has been collecting all of the online harassment she has received over the years and began posting them on an Instagram account, @Perv_Magnet:

 Someone has been transforming recipes into GIFs, and they work rather well:

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 A volcanic explosion in Mexico:

Required Reading is published every Sunday morning ET, and is comprised of a short list of art-related links to long-form articles, videos, blog posts, or photo essays worth a second look.

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