miss me? read my always-compelling livejournal!
link : thoughts (1) : track it (2) : in
The [first since we brought the site back up] question I raised to the WHB group this week is on the subject of "feminine" vs. "masculine" styles of debate and communication.
Do these differences in debate style even exist? Neither all men nor all women communicate according to certain patterns. Patterns may be detectable, but I wonder how useful that even is - does it matter if women are more likely to communicate a certain way, or is it most significant that people discuss things differently? The answer is that it matters because we've given it airplay. So, in beating ourselves over the heads with the idea that there are differences between men and women on the communication front, we could in effect create these differences.
Something to think about.
Kerri and a few others who've answered this question already have noted their English class experiences - being told, for instance, that couching an opinion in soft words ("I feel", "I think", "You may disagree, but...") is a weak mode of speech. My perspective is different. I never heard that lecture in school, and instead heard the dual lectures of "you don't have to tell me it's your opinion; this is a debate afterall" [debate, high school] and "people need to differentiate between fact and opinion" [business, college, life in general]. Kerri and I are both women, we're both annoyed by the idea of "soft, feminine" arguments - in completely different ways. [And we express that annoyance in different ways, too.]
I'm annoyed that a mode of stating opinion as opinion is equated with weak arguments at all. That's preposterous. I'm positively pissed that these weak arguments are then attributed to a feminine communication style.
It's no surprise that young feminists (as Vic alluded) would want to avoid thinking in terms of this sort of difference at all, if their experience teaches the "masculine" mode is the acceptable one, encouraged by academia and politics. And here I have to give credit to my business education for teaching a more practical mode of argument, where allowing for or glazing over disagreement is a strategy, not an accident of your gender.
Posing this question happens to coincide with my reading of Jordynn's blog essay, which discusses the communication modes of feminists in the context of feminist communities. Something she said about the invitational mode of the collab resonates with my feelings on this issue; essentially, that the non-confrontational approach to discussion, though seemingly lacking in passion, helps foster mild shifts in opinion. The collab wasn't intentionally formed along one line of feminist community building or another, but the heart of this is true. Mild shifts are my goal. I hold that mild shifts in opinion are the most useful - that's the rate at which social change happens.
And I like to think practically - so, if my purpose is to change someone's opinion, I tend to adopt a non-confrontational mode of argument, ask leading questions, and work towards consensus. There are times, of course, when I argue simply for the sheer joyous logic of it all, but those occur in a context in which I may not even argue my own perspective. And there are other times when the goal is simply distribution; this is my opinion, and you will hear it, with no concern over whether it sways you. I use myself as an example, but the point is that these modes of debate are not constrained by gender.
Yet men and women do, in the context of traditional gender roles, communicate differently. Robert Bly, for instance, talks constantly about the different speeds of men's and women's thinking mid-conversation. The Men/Mars/Women/Venus guy, the crazed ladies who wrote The Rules, and a host of other individuals of varying credibility has weighed in on the subject, almost always in the context of heterosexual relationships. Each book read individually seems to speak an aspect of truth. But. What I find most interesting about all of it is that you don't see one single message, one clear pattern of differences between men and women. In fact, if you read enough of these books, they manage to simultaneously conflict and blend together, ultimately approaching the message that the Women's Way of communicating (whatever that is) is the right one, the properly feeling one, for relationships. Convenient, considering women are more likely to buy those books. [I suppose this means everything balances out after a fashion; if women are better at relationship talk and men are better at debate, then it's all good. Or conversely, women are soft and feely and men are good at that important "serious" conversation stuff. Excuse me for breathing.]
The conclusion I draw from this is that men and women don't have to communicate in gendered ways at all, but we've managed to convince ourselves we do. It lends more mystery to the interaction between genders. It's also getting more out of date in a world where gender and sexuality are getting blurrier.
I think, as Vic said, the solution is in training people to communicate with other people - in a way that allows for interpretations of different styles and encourages us to see the value in different modes of discourse. There is no one way to argue or one way to discuss one's feelings; we all ought to know that by now.
link : thoughts (4) : track it (0) : in books & tv & internet stuff
This is such a sweet idea: the blog love-in.
Even from a less narfy perspective, it's interesting to know what prompts people to visit your site and nice to share with your favorite reads why you like them.
the tv monster
link : thoughts (6) : track it (0) : in books & tv & internet stuff
It turns out that we're freaks at our house.
Maybe because we were both the sort of latchkey kids who were allowed to do homework while watching 3-2-1 Contact or maybe resulting from some multitasking gene, embracing of pop culture or other oddity, we don't really get sucked into the television.
I've always assumed that the icon of child or beer-can-toting armchair driver staring unmoving at the glare of a television set was largely a propaganda tool. A great portion of my family's interaction now and as a kid took place with some form of media background - music, television, reading at the dinner table. These things weren't outlawed as a distraction from real life, but accepted as part of life. Don't most families work this way?
Turns out - no. My informal survey of my friends, which started last weekend with one of those semi-intelligent discussions you try to have in a too-loud bar, reveals that it's more common for television and other media to be forbidden. Homework is homework, reading is reading, and television-watching is an activity unto itself.
I had no idea.
And. This is a cultural problem in America. Television, particularly, is only occasionally enough to occupy the brain without any other stimulus. It's not that interesting, or that informative, when you consider how effectively people can process multiple stimuli in the background and keep on working (this is, for instance, one reason you can work in a cube environment and not constantly be looking over your shoulder). People are good at giving focus to one thing without ignoring others completely.
By forbidding ourselves and our kids from ingesting multiple media at once, we reject this capability in ourselves and fail to train it. We make ourselves worse at driving, at defending ourselves, at getting things done - because we assume we have only the attention to pay to one thing at a time.
I have no doubt that part of the reason I am now so productive at work and so creative at home is my ability to work on multiple levels simultaneously, and I'm equally sure that these things are a direct results of years spent doing homework in front of the television and reading while listening to music on the porch.
the work crush
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in work & money stuff
I've been reading (see the little picture to your right and down the page a bit) a book about the lives, particularly the working lives, of working class women. I like Johnson's goal - to look at the real experience of gray and pink collar workers apart from the standard organizational behavior survey questions.
The women she interviewed talk a lot about autonomy in the sense of not being penalized for being 5 or 10 minutes late, and being able to dictate when you go to lunch. And their tendency to report on job satisfaction has a lot to do with hygiene factors (coworker relationships, level of supervision, cleanliness of work, etc.), less so with the softer things like fulfillment and personal growth. Not that they don't think about these things; what Johnson's book is slowly revealing is that a lot of what we think about workers' satisfaction is heavily influenced by varying worker expectations.
These women's thoughts on job satisfaction have prompted me to reflect on the things I value at work. I expect near-complete autonomy. I haven't worked at a job that required attendance from a certain hour to a certain hour just because since I graduated from college. My schedule is constrained by meetings, my customers and my personal preference (generally in that order), but I don't consider that level of autonomy as a factor that makes one job I consider better than another. I just expect it.
What makes me happy or not at work is what I call the work crush. It's the hot new thing - be it a coworker, a project, a new technology or idea - that makes me feel all middle school ready to get up and go in the morning, thinking today I get to work with X [where X is object of crush]. I need it to be satisfied with my job.
but wait! there's more »
For awhile, that crush was career-focused - specifically, I was crushed out on project management. I loved thinking of things in terms of process, loved learning enough to have others think of me as someone else who knew. I loved every team I managed, except for this one guy I could have killed.
I've also had crushes on the whole collaborative open source movement, making tape backups, the ability to dye my hair purple and paint kanji on my skin and still be considered competent at work, unpersonable developers in general and specific, Fresca and my officemate. Not in that order. Each of these things ceased to be a presence in my life for whatever reason, and was replaced with something else.
Or worse - not replaced at all, which was roughly what happened when I was exiled from the dotconomy (just in time, though). Being crushless at work is just like being crushless in a seventh grade study hall. Life-threatening.
Lately, my crush is collaboration. I went quite awhile thinking I was a better leader than I collaborator (I may be), then I worked alone so often that I forgot the satisfaction. Now, I have new team members, and the first thing I do each morning is go say hello. When they're out of the office, I feel quite the same as I did in middle school when a certain boy wasn't in school, capable of being glimpsed across the quad.
I know it's overly precious to describe my enthusiasm for work in terms of juvenalia, but this is how I think. And I may be communicating "like a woman", but I am a woman and so - however I communicate, it is like a woman. [I paraphrased that from something Alison said about dressing like a teacher some time ago.]
In any case, I find it interesting that there is this gap between working class women's and middle class women's job expectations, but Johnson's book is peppered with their references to good jobs as ones where they like their coworkers - and my current work crush is exactly that, my coworkers. And I'm happier at this job than I have been in a year and a half.
« get it out of my sight!
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in artsy stuff
Some people who teach art(s) to children don't seem to care much for either, despite their attitude of caring for both.
It's entirely too common for teachers of theatre, for instance, to assume that young people's theatre has to educate them or address Their Issues. If you've ever been a student in a "average" kid's theatre class, you know that anyone who wants you to talk about Your Issues has already defined them for you. And while any truly good theatre is educational in a certain sense (even bad theatre is education by experience), kids get enough didacticism in the classroom.
Part of this problem, of course, is the need to legitimize arts education. In Virginia, that means art courses that follow our SOL's (Standards of Learning, which most teachers rightly dislike) and occasionally, arts "enrichment" activities like musical comedies featuring the SOL's. No, I am not kidding.
But I'm more concerned with pure arts education that with the version of art taught in most public school settings - at the moment, at least. The root problem is this notion of art as culture, the idea that culture is beyond people and children can't handle the culture.
This idea leads arts teachers to teach down to their kids. I've seen some very talented, challenging artists completely fail to challenge kids in a learning environment, not because they lacked teaching skills, but because their curricula were based on the false assumption that kids need a children's version of art. Arts teachers who come from a background of teaching and dabble in an art tend to apply a similar philosophy, adding to this dumbed-down art a sense of curriculum; the art classes they teach are the same regardless of their changing audience from year to year.
Children can handle real art. Five year olds won't produce Monet or Broadway, but they can be challenged at an appropriate level to create work that is, on some level, better. And seventeen year olds do not need to be producing work that only speaks to Their Issues [the ones we tell them they have] about high school, cars and graduation; they're people, not simply high school students.
The level to which this art for you and your gerbil concept exists varies, of course, from teacher to teacher and program to program. It seems least common in voice teaching, most common in theatre for youth.
Last weekend I watched a presentation of work by kids ranging in age from 5 to 18. They danced. They sang. They made julienned fries. Actually, they did short scenes, but in most cases, the fries would have been more compelling. The singing was universally quite good, with a clear progression in quality from youngest to oldest students. The dance and theatre were problematic.
The dance progressed in complexity slightly from group to group. The littlest kids danced mostly by forming shapes and standing up/sitting down. It was the right level of work for them. Then we had the 7-8 year olds, who started to get more fluid and expressive and had, you know, actual dance moves [my partner taught them, so I may be biased]. And then you get to the kids at various levels, aged 9-18. They progressed through the program by age, so you'd expect the older, more trained, kids to be more expressive, more precise, more - something. Well, they smiled more. Their dance moves were a tad more complicated. But it remained kids' dance, even for the oldest.
The theatre was appalling. Not only because it's the art I know best. But because the nature of the scene work didn't change with increased age and training. Actually, in a way it downgraded. My partner's kids used a combination of poetry and experimental theatre text (remember, they're at most eight). The older kids did folktales. And something really embarassing about cars and younger siblings (remember, some of these kids are seventeen, as are some of you, readers). They did the exact same type [hokey] of work, with the exact same level of expression [also hokey], after years of training as they did at age nine.
This wasn't the kids' fault. They don't have much involvement in choosing the scenes they'll perform, or even how these will work. So I blame the program, and the teachers (who have a lot of say in what they teach). I presume they approach teaching all ages and types of kids with the same method. As far as theatre is concerned, this method appears to be reminding kids to "smile" and "project" and relying on their natural ebullience and personalities to do the rest. I presume the argument in favor of this is something like "we're training them to be better public speakers through acting" or "it's more fun for them; we know what's fun for kids". Maybe the kids are okay with that, but I submit that they accept this idea of theatre only because they haven't been exposed to something better.
I have another bias, of course, which is that I went to a high school populated by some highly talented people. So I feel like I know what seventeen year olds can do. And I'll tell you - it's amazing. I wasn't expecting amazing from these kids last weekend. They train a couple hours a week, not a couple hours a day. This is likely one of many things they do. What I did expect was for their teachers to gradually increase the challenge level over time and, given their teachers' collective experience, to expose these kids to real dance, real theatre. At least a little.
And I didn't see that.
Kids, like adults, benefit from arts training that gives them an opportunity to explore & then gives them more and more to explore as they progress. This doesn't seem that difficult to offer. I wonder why it's not obvious to more people who teach arts?
meat or not salad
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in food
At work lately, there's one cafeteria station that seems to focus on the meat salad. Taco salad, funky asian noodle salad, mystery pico de gallo salad. All with chicken, which I don't really do. But they look so good! I've gotten them chickenless a few times.
On a related note. We've started making variations on this fatoush-based recipe on the grill, which is unbelievably tasty and summery. We'd eat outside if it weren't for the eight inch of pine pollen all over everything. Pollen Day has lasted all week this year.
Ingredients: meat of your choice (pork or tuna, in my case) or heatable cheese or tempeh, feta, red peppers, onions, mushrooms, olives, grapes, plus lime juice, basil & garlic, olive oil, lime juice & the white wine left over from some party.
Basically, you mix the liquids and spices, soak the meat or meat-like product in the mix, grill it and the grill-friendly vegetables, then mix in everything else in pretty bowls. You can make it all Tex-mex or slightly Sunday brunch by varying the fruit, spice and cheese (and leaving out the olives). And all your food's in one bowl, which makes this easy to make for any number of people, especially one or two.
whb : the storm clears
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in books & tv & internet stuff
Ah. At last there's something vaguely resembling the website up at We Have Brains. It's ass-slow (I'm temporarily publishing and loading from this site, thanks to a beautiful side effect of my new host's mode of setting up accounts), but it's up.
I've got to install everything, remake templates, recreate as much content as I can - all that, but. The mess with the domain name is over. [Partly, I'm sad to say, because I capitulated into saying Keep my damned money, just transfer the domain!] I was so worried it would take ages.
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in nerdy & silly stuff
There's a scene in Catch 22 (the book, I have no idea if it ended up in the film version) in which one of the characters is challenged to name one great American poet.
He's in the midst of multiple phone calls, and the end result is that someone, speaking to him on the phone, hears only "T.S. Eliot!" before he hangs up. I think an argument ensues over whether Eliot really counts as American or British.
T.S. Eliot's famous The Wasteland starts April is the cruellest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land.
I do not believe in April Fool's Day. April fools who? I say, annoyed with the bastardized pagan holiday that we've turned into something desperate and silly.
These three things, taken together mean this: I celebrate April 1 as National Call Someone, Say T.S. Eliot, and Hang Up Day. Have done for many years. And some of you, whose email addresses I'm lucky enough to know, might have received the email equivalent of that traditional phone call two weeks ago. Some of you quickly figured out the sender, others probably ignored and deleted it.
But some of you might have wondered for a moment who sent that odd little email. Now you know. Happy April.
fat kids can dance
link : thoughts (5) : track it (0) : in fat & health stuff
There's a commonly held misconception that fat people are less graceful, that the bulk of our bodies makes it more difficult to move around. This misconception has been spread very nicely by folk who try on fat suits.
Empirically, it's just not true.
My partner teaches theatre to wee small children. And regular kids, too. Today I went to see his kids, and some older ones, perform. The performance content was - eh, okay [I'll get to that in a later post, as I have a lot to say re: our lack of respect for children's capacity to grasp art.] - but it served to point out something really interesting. About 30-50% of the kids were what you'd call fat, and those kids were invariably the best dancers and most interesting actors.
He thinks it's because they're more self-aware, that fatness might make them more skillful, rather than less so, at managing their bodies. So they're graceful, and can do things like make a dance movement seem emotional - in ways that not as many of the thin kids can.
I don't know if this is true or not, but it did make me think. Could being fat, contrary to most expectations, actually make you more physically skilled?
who is a feminist?
link : thoughts (4) : track it (0) : in feministy stuff
I struggle sometimes with the notion of what makes someone a feminist. It's complicated. And then, not.
Some time ago I came to the conclusion that one needs to be free to choose whatever personal or political definition one desires. This idea actually originated for me in the college queer scene - where defining oneself as this word or that word became very important. We'd have these discussions around bisexuality, particularly, that would leave your mind and tongue numb. The usual debates: if you're 51% something, are you that, or are you in the middle of that and not-that?
It can be absurd, the definitions. So I finally decided that what made sense was just naming yourself whatever. When it comes to queerness, this works most of the time - after all, queer or not queer is about action, but also about intention; so, in most cases (excepting what VA Spider calls the "Girls Gone Wild Bi's", perhaps) you are at liberty to name your own intention. And who could question you?
And then I try applying this to feminism. It doesn't always fly so well. There are too many "feminists" claiming the term in service of what I don't consider a feminist (meaning belief that equality between people of various sexes is necessary and needs defending) set of politics - or worse, using the term primarily to garner publicity or simply create the image of themselves as belonging to a certain sect of the academic or political world. This issue applies, of course, to the obvious candidates like Christina Hoff Sommers - who claim that equality exists already, but also to scores of women who advertise themselves as feminists while actually promoting an idealized version of women as superior. I actually have less trouble with Hoff Sommers claiming feminism than I do with the latter types, but they're both problematic.
The challenge with claiming a feminist identity [This also applies to a queer identity from an activist perspective, I suppose.] is that you're not just dealing with an intention; you're dealing with a political movement - or movements, rather. So, to take on the name while holding a view completely counter to the political movement (i.e. that equality has been obtained already) is an issue. To take on the name while holding a perspective wholly different from the spirit of the movement (i.e. that equality isn't necessary) is absurd.
It's still difficult for me to assert that someone is not a feminist, though - because I've seen too many people be told they're not feminists for reasons like their gender or their attitude towards a specific issue (most commonly sex work or class). It's just that sort of thing that divides us into many feminisms, excluding entirely too many people from the conversation.
i collect action figures
link : thoughts (3) : track it (0) : in nerdy & silly stuff
I came home to this in the mail yesterday (courtesy a friend I guilted a little too much for missing my annual first of April party last week): is it not the cutest?
This is so much more mature and politically savvy than my Jedi figure collection. Really, who needs four different Obi Wans?
link : thoughts (1) : track it (0) : in feministy stuff
I've been meaning to post something on the Augusta / PGA issue for awhile and not gotten around to it. Well, Roni's posted a nice summation of the issue: Do you need balls to play?. She's said most of what I meant to say. So what are you doing? Read it already!
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in artsy stuff
Eris has started up a letter-writing project that I'm a little too chicken to join: postmarked (lovely design, by the way).
See, I'd like to send eris a letter, but I respect her design skills enough that I feel the letter would have to be artistic, Griffin & Sabine-type stuff. And I'm not sure I'm cool enough for that.
I should know better, of course. A small handful of you, gentle fabulous readers, already know that I'm capable of sending multipage illuminated notes whose very envelopes are little ironic works of art. [I actually have a drawer filled with bits of letters and cards people sent me over years, including a favorite, labeled to "Medea" with the return address of "her children". You know who you are. Worse, you know I have things you wrote in high school. Or middle school. I'm not really pathetic, just after awhile things become five or ten years old, and then their value grows. Like wine.]
So, basically, I should shut up and write a letter already.
testing for the ineffable
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in nerdy & silly stuff
There's something about tests that challenge the contradictions in one's beliefs that hearkens back to that boy. You know, the geeky one who was always getting his ass kicked for trying to make other people look stupid?
So, if you harbor residual resentment for the aggressive geek in your [past] life, you might want to avoid Battlefield God.
If you're curious about my personal philosophy, or are just interested in the level of annoyance produced by the questions in the battlefield test, read on for the answers I gave and the supporting theories on my part. I have to say, I feel much better now that I've gotten my niggling and quibbling out in the open.
I still owe a boy named Eric a kick in the shins from sixth grade for asking me stupid questions like this over and over again. If you see him, will you pass it along for me?
[Link from Ampersand]
but wait! there's more »
1. God exists: FALSE
Glad we got that out of the way up front.
2. If God does not exist then there is no basis for morality: FALSE
Does anyone actually argue to the contrary on this one? What we consider moral clearly varies from culture to culture, with or without existence or belief in gods.
3. Any being which it is right to call God must be free to do anything: FALSE
You could rightly call any power you believe in "god". Does the calling enable that power to do anything? Maybe, maybe not.
4. Any being which it is right to call God must want there to be as little suffering in the word as is possible: FALSE
Suffering in the WORD? Even taking the misspelling, there's certainly the potential for a vengeful god.
5. Any being which it is right to call God must have the power to do anything: FALSE
To me, this falls pretty much under the same category as #3, but I suppose freedom could be implied to mean unconstrained power, so a god could have constrained power but still have power. I'll give you that.
6. Evolutionary theory maybe false in some matters of detail, but it is essentially true: TRUE
This is the sucker punch question, isn't it? You just know this is going to trigger that kid coming back around with his "well, you said evolution was true, so nah!" attitude. Damned kid. Rationally, though - there is evidence that evolution happened, so I'll believe it's true.
7. It is justifiable to base one's beliefs about the external world on a firm, inner conviction, regardless of the external evidence, or lack of it, for the truth or falsity of these convictions: FALSE or TRUE, whatever.
When it comes to the ineffable, there is no hard line drawn between external evidence and internal conviction. When it comes to the prosaic world-as-it-is stuff, my internal conviction that I am a murderous loaf of bread may be justifiable, but it is both irrational and unprovable. If I sit and believe my loaf of bread thing, fine, but if I act on my murderous breadly tendencies, it shifts to unacceptable. So, what does justifiable mean to you? To me, it has an implication of rationality and fitting into what everyone agrees is the rest of the world; I say, generally you need to act on what you have evidence is true.
8. Any being that it is right to call God must know everything that there is to know: FALSE
Bah. I've already said this. God is whatever you say it is.
9. Torturing innocent people is morally wrong: TRUE
Hey, this one is easy! I think it was intended to "get" the anarchists who answered #1 false and #2 true. But torturing innocent people is morally and ethically unacceptable in my culture, so I'm uberconsistent on this one. If you added "always" to this, I'd have to disagree, though.
10. If, despite years of trying, no strong evidence or argument has been presented to show that there is a Loch Ness monster, it is rational to believe that such a monster does not exist: TRUE
This is so setting me up for some sort of argument against the existence of a god. But you could also say, if there's not much evidence against the existence of the LNM, it's rational to believe that it does exist.
11. People who die of horrible, painful diseases need to die in such a way for some higher purpose: FALSE
But some people who die horribly do deserve it. So do some people who get kicked in the shin. And maybe dying of a horrible disease might serve some grand purpose in terms of your personal development that might carry over to some future life. I don't know.
12. If God exists she could make it so that everything now considered sinful becomes morally acceptable and everything that is now considered morally good becomes sinful: FALSE
I think I've already explained the rationale behind my perspective on morality. But, despite a lack of dings from the test on this one, my answer is somewhat inconsistent. If I really believed that whatever you thought god was became what god was, then I'd say this one was true, even though I think morality is a real, useful social construct and god doesn't actually exist. The test only knows what I say, though, not why I say it.
13. It is foolish to believe in God without certain, irrevocable proof that God exists: FALSE
"Foolish"? I told you that evolution question was coming back - if you answer "true" to this question, the test dings you for saying you think evolution is true, since the proof isn't certain and irrevocable. I take issue with the semantics here. It didn't ask me if I thought myself foolish for believing evolutionary theory, but it does return an issue if I say I think god exists in question 1, but then say I think it's foolish to do so. I suppose it is inconsistent to hold a belief you think is foolish.
14. As long as there are no compelling arguments or evidence that show that God does not exist, atheism is a matter of faith, not rationality: TRUE. And FALSE.
This is so the Loch Ness Monster question all over again. You cannot prove something does or does not exist without evidence to support one of those assumptions. So, barring any evidence, only agnosticism is purely rational. Atheism is both a matter of faith and of rationality; the same could be said for belief in god.
15. The serial rapist Peter Sutcliffe had a firm, inner conviction that God wanted him to rape and murder prostitutes. He was, therefore, justified in believing that he was carrying out God's will in undertaking these actions: FALSE
Based on my previously stated assumption about the meaning of "justified", this answer is consistent. Based on what I actually answered (when locked into the one or the other approach), it was not.
16. If God exists she would have the freedom and power to create square circles and make 1 + 1 = 72: FALSE
A circle is simply the name we've given something. And there probably is a mathematical basis for the truth of the statement 1 + 1 = 72. So, who knows?
17. It is justifiable to believe in God if one has a firm, inner conviction that God exists, regardless of the external evidence, or lack of it, for the truth or falsity of the conviction that God exists: TRUE
I was dinged on this one on the grounds that "god" is part of the "external world", which may or may not be the case. The ineffability of god is such that, if god exists, it might exist only in the context of my exact, personal experience. In which case, I challenge the externality implied by this question. Shennanigans!
« get it out of my sight!
some things are so funny they make you cry
link : thoughts (1) : track it (0) : in books & tv & internet stuff
I think this speaks for itself: Propaganda Remix Project. [Thanks to Jordynn for the link.]
link : thoughts (2) : track it (0) : in generally political stuff
I've been thinking about a comment I made on Rev's war humor yesterday or so. [Yes, I'm actually thinking about a comment I made on someone else's blog. It's not self-involved; it's reflective.]
I said, basically, that the notion of freeing the Iraqi people is obviously not the root cause of this war, so it seems silly to me to argue over whether it's worth it to Iraqis to die in the cause of their freedom. It's silly to speculate about the feelings of others in any case. But it's just so clear to me that we're only fighting a war on behalf of the Iraqi people because that sounds better than what we're actually doing. Let's look at the chronology of reasons to go to war (as told by me):
- Saddam is just plain bad. Bad bad bad. Um, bad for business, that is.
- We think Saddam has chemical weapons. He should be disarmed.
- More importantly, he's really no good for the rest of the Middle East. He's clearly down with building coalitions against the west, and that could turn out very badly for all of us.
- We're pretty sure he doesn't like us. What if he really does have chemical weapons? And then there's that thing with North Korea, you know, where we called them evil? What if he buys their nuclear weapons and uses them to distribute chemical weapons which he points at the US and and and...
- You know, come to think of it, he's clearly buddies with that Bin Laden guy. Saddam is a terrorist. We think he was behind 9/11.
- Actually, he was behind everything. See previous statement about badness. Clearly a threat to American national security. We're just defending ourselves, yo.
- Wait! Did we mention he's a mean old dictator?
- Yeah, that's right! This war is about freeing the suffering Iraqi people! Also, Shi'ite Muslims (the ones we said were bad in the 1980's) are now good, and the Sunnis are bad.
The real logic behind this war, what we're really doing, falls somewhere between numbers 1 and 3. And the thing is, I don't disagree with what we're really doing. I do take issue with wrapping it in the guise of freeing Iraqis, though; even if that's a much welcomed side effect, the truth is we're trying to find a way to make the Middle East less threatening (and, apparently, we suck at diplomacy).
Please, though - I wish the Bush administration would stop the babbling about freedom and evil. We, the listening public, are not that gullible.
Er, or maybe we are.
[For additional reference, good reading, and the shocking assessment that 42% of Americans think number 5 is true, see Arundhati Roy's Guardian piece from last week. Bring on the spanners, indeed.]
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in sexually liberated stuff
My Happy Fat posted an assignment a few days ago.
BREAK OUT YOUR CAMERAS GIRLS. If you don't want your boyfriend or girlfriend to take them, take them yourself. Delete them right after if you want, but take them. Try different angles and lighting. Get creative and GET NAKED.
Brilliant. I do really highly recommend it.
And then Tish was talking today about that horrid show that combines the "Am I Hot Or Not" website with American Idol. As if one sort of body is built for sex. Ha. The rest of us, apparently, didn't read the label.
Why do we have the cultural notion of sexiness? Aside from the obvious biological basis, why bother? Clearly sexiness as it stands today is divorced from selection for health. So, what's with this?
The cynical (and I suspect correct) answer is that it's market-driven. The body can't serve as a sales vehicle and is a less effective generator of demand if all bodies have equal value. Enter media-promoted hotness, designed both to sell things that make you hotter and things unrelated to hotness by association with hot people. [This whole discussion becomes more amusing when "hotness" is the topic, doesn't it?]
And yet, empirically, I know that no two people have exactly like views on what constitutes sexy in other people. Why do we tolerate a cookie-cutter hotness sales pitch, then?
I don't know. But people are fighting it. You can fight it yourself. Just list, say, five things you think are sexy that are outside of the official hotness mode. Here are some of mine:
1. Jiggling when you dance.
2. Long grey or white hair, the kind that says hey, I'm old - so what?
3. People who just woke up.
4. Dressing to suit only yourself.
5. Smiling wickedly at idiots.
how to be an artist
link : thoughts (1) : track it (0) : in artsy stuff
Mal posted this great introduction to the idea of "how to be an artist". Mal talks a lot about art and art school and is generally fabulously clever, so it should come as no surprise that her comments about making art are spot-on.
I did, however, find it a little surprising that her advice for visual artists is not dissimilar to what I'd give actors. Give yourself permission to suck.
But I'd add to that. I'd say, give yourself permission to suck and then refuse to suck.
Actors, more than any other artists, seem to keep their technique in a black box. It's difficult for most actors to demystify their craft for others, because it's actually mystical to them. Some very excellent actors seem to have no idea how they do it. As a result of this black box quality, a lot of new actors tend to fall into two groups; they either don't work at all and await brilliance (which, hey, works on television) or they struggle and cripple themselves with their notions of sucking and phrases like "she's really in her head".
No one is in their own head.
I think I've finally succeeded managed to become an alright, and I did it by constantly insisting that I wasn't going to suck. By which I mean - I'm going to have to fuck up occasionally, but I will endow those fuck ups with so much energy that they will be, in a way, brilliant. Suck brilliantly! This is my advice (which is really not much different from Mal's).
So how does one suck brilliantly? Since an actor's product is ultimately the body in time, pushing the boundaries of either gives you a product that's at least interesting, if nothing else. You could say something similar for any art - what we find so compelling about art is the way it expands human experience, so stretching your media is a way to at least reach towards that. To ensure that even a failure shines a little.
link : thoughts (2) : track it (0) : in feministy stuff
People tend to place judgements on words and assign their own etymologies to words based on sound and spelling. I have no idea why we do this, but it bothers me.
Specifically - and I know I've talked about this in other fora before, but not all consolidated like this - feminists in the 1970's who were otherwise logical, passionate, and many other things approaching brilliance nevertheless came up with a whole new view on language that twisted etymology in frightening ways.
I do realize that the overall premise of rethinking pronouns and suffixes and the like was good. I like s/he, his or her, actor in liew of actress and such. The assumption of male gender in pronouns does, after all, exclude 50% of the English-speaking population, and it really is silly for genderless English to have invented the suffix "-ette". Complete agreement here, even with the now ubiquitous "everyone get their jacket" that we were told over and over was wrongbadgrammaticallyincorrect.
What I have never really grasped can be summed up in two words: wimmin (or womyn) and herstory. All the writing I've seen on these two words either ignores etymology or misrepresents it.
A "woman" is not a man with a wo, but a wo-person (well, actually a "wif-person"; a man was once a "waf or wap-person"). I can see making an argument for calling men something non-neutered, but keeping the pronunciation of woman and spelling it to avoid the word man strikes me as totally unnecessary.
And "herstory" - well, I'll accept this when used to refer specifically to women's history. It's rather cute, I admit. But using it because you don't like the word his in your history is just annoying. It's Latin, people. A language with gender, yes, but a language that doesn't include any gender-based pronoun sounding or spelled remotely like "he".
What I'd like to see is something more radical around our gendered nouns.
For instance. What if everyone became a person? It would eliminate any need for gender hedging by anyone in a sexual preference closet; you'd refer to the "person I'm seeing" or your "companion" no matter what their gender and your preference. Can you imagine a world where it actually didn't matter?
I'm serious here, people. Substitute "person", and you eliminate the duality of gender (which is at least partially cultural, and just doesn't fit some people). Because the feminists who came up with the "womyn" concept did have something right: the way you use language influences the way you think about other people. If you didn't hear constant, casual references to gender in your daily conversation, how would it change the way you think?
horrific puppy torture
link : thoughts (1) : track it (0) : in nerdy & silly stuff
Happy Easter, from my parents. I'd say "poor puppy", but she seems to be enjoying it.
People tend to think of cats as stereotypically female, but it sure seems like dogs enjoy clothes a lot more.
no, i'm not insane. but i do cook.
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in food
I've subtly insinuated a "recipe" category into this blog. I know this is mostly a vehicle for talking about politics and things I think are wrong or right with the world, but I also like food.
And I cook!
We make up a lot of odd little recipes at our house, and I figured it'd be nice to collect some of them. I'm sure as hell not going to write them on cute little cards in the kitchen - they'll end up soaked in oil or something. So, here they are. Some that I made up, some that my partner did. All tasty, and mostly pretty cheap.
And I won't cook anything that takes more than a half hour, so if you ever decide to some variation on one of these at home, you'll at least know you get to eat soon.
martha stewart is evil goat cheese
link : thoughts (4) : track it (0) : in food
My mother buys Martha Stewart's magazine, and I always end up reading it when I visit my parents. This is one of the few recipes touted as "easy" by the Martha Stewart empire that actually is - well, easy.
Ten minutes, max. I swear.
Ingredients: 1 log of soft goat cheese (chevre), at least 2 different types of fresh herbs, salt and pepper, olive oil. Oh, and crackers or bread - unless you feel like eating this with a spoon.
Make sure your goat cheese is pretty cold and decidely log-shaped. Martha will tell you to warm it to room temperature, but she's a liar. Room temperature goat cheese is like melted play-doh. Ick.
Chop up your herbs, relatively finely. I use basil and whatever else is in the house, and this always ends up tasting the same - so, whatever herbs sound good to you. You need about 1/8 the volume of herbs as you have cheese.
Roll your cold cheese in the herbs, patting the green stuff into the cheese slightly as you go. Add salt and pepper if you like. Put on a plate, and drizzle with olive oil (touch you, you're drizzling olive oil, you chic thing!). Arrange artistically with light-tasting crackers or bread.
link : thoughts (0) : track it (0) : in food
These wontons are a mix of two or three different semi-traditional recipes I learned from my friends' multiracial families when I was a kid. The meat filling is a Latin take on the filling for Filipino lumpia.
Ingredients: 1 lb ground beef, 1/2 a small cabbage, 1 lunch-sized package of baby carrots, package of 50 wonton wrappers, whatever's in your spice collection, liberal doses of soy sauce. You can substitute extra cabbage or 2 boiled, chopped up potatoes for a vegetarian version.
Brown the meat. While cooking, throw in appalling quantities of soy sauce, red wine, and the herbs of your choice. I use pepper, garlic, ginger & sesame seeds, but anything vaguely Latin or Asian would work.
Chop up the carrots and cabbage very finely, then toss them in with the meat, too. Add more of your liquids and seasonings. Cook until the cabbage is translucent but still slightly crispy.
Let the mixture cool, then fill wontons. I generally gather the wonton wrappers (think of those little origami "fortune tellers" from grade school) instead of folding them, since that makes for more full dumplings. Deep fry.
I often serve this with a cold sauce made by combining 2 parts soy sauce to 1/2 part lime juice and 1/2 part good (balsamic or rice) vinegar.