when the status quo frustrates.

Restavec

Monday, February 1st, 2010


An interpretation of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, represented as a pyramid with the more basic needs at the bottom.

A restavec (or restavek; from the French reste avec, “one who stays with”) is a child in Haiti who is sent by their parents to work for a host household as a domestic servant because the parents lack the resources required to support the child. (wikipedia)

I came across this article today, about a 9-year-old restavec named Sende Sencil.

Beaming, and in clean clothes for the first time since the earthquake, Sende, who was thought to be an orphan, returned to the hospital’s tents with the doctors.

As they walked, a man approached them on the street and reached out to grab Sende.

“I’m looking for her. She’s my family,” the doctors remember the man saying in broken English. “I’m taking her home.”

Pediatricians Tina Rezaiyan and Liz Hines, had been looking forward to the day when Sende’s parents might come to claim her, but this was not what they’d anticipated.

“She was trembling and hiding behind us. She was so scared of him,” said Hines, a second-year pediatric resident at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

Flashback to 1982: Walking home from school with my best friend, Sheila.* We’d been best friends since the first grade; we walked home from school every day together, hand in hand–though not that day, because one of her arms was in a cast and she needed the other one to carry her books. My eight-year-old self didn’t even notice the cast; it had been there for a few weeks, it was part of the scenery. Only my thirty-six-year-old self stares at it, remembering how Sheila got it.

“So can you spend the night tonight?” Sheila asked me.

I could, and I did, though even my eight-year-old self dreaded it a little. Not a lot, because Sheila was there and she was my best friend and we always had such fun–putting her mom’s 45s on the plastic record player upstairs and setting it on “78″–who needed an actual Alvin & The Chipmunks record when you had a stack of 45s and a record player with a “78″ setting? And eight-year-olds think that what they see and live is the way it is for everybody–they don’t resist the system because they aren’t even aware that there is one. But the night Sheila’s stepdad broke her arm was still fairly fresh in my memory, and I had no cozy feeling that I was entirely safe from him either–he’d hurt me before too, though nowhere near to the degree he hurt Sheila.

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Aviation Stupidity Bill

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

This post does not have much to do with progressive politics, except that I believe that the progressive side of the spectrum supports being intelligent.

Early this last year, there was a terrible crash in Buffalo, New York. The NTSB discovered that the crash was a result of significant ice build-up on the wings of the aircraft. Many people died and were injured as a result of that crash.*

But, as a another result of that crash, the House immediately sprang into action to “Do Something”. They Must Make Aviation Safer!** So they created the “Aviation Safety Bill” H. R. 3371; a sweeping piece of legislation, and by an overwhelming majority passed it. Now it’s shipped off to the Senate, and they are the only hope to block it. And this is a bill to be blocked. Most of the stuff is actually a pretty good idea- for example, it basically kills overnight quick turns. It is currently pretty standard practice to have a pilot fly somewhere, and get 8 hours between their last flight, to when they need to be back in the morning at the airport. That sounds like enough to sleep, right? Except that you have to include the time to drive to and from the airport to the hotel, wind-down time, and getting ready in the morning and being at the airport early enough to inspect the plane. Then, all of a sudden, that 8 hours of sleep is more like 5. Having pilots that are more rested and awake will certainly make aviation safer.

There is also the redundant in this bill- such as the “pre-employment screening” of prospective pilots. It’s true that there is no law mandating such a thing, but all airlines do it anyway. They’re not going to waste their money on a bad pilot; not even American-based airlines are that stupid.

But, in section 10, there is the awful reason this bill needs to be killed, or at least amended. In section 10, it now requires that all first officers have an FAA ATP license.
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Well, that’s it then. All Hail the GOP, the true party of righteousness!

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

The last three times I’ve opened a browser window, the top news headlines have been variations on the above theme. Yep, folks, the brief insanity of the American people in both electing Barack Obama to the White House and purging Congress of its Republican majority has ended! The tide is turning! And here’s the proof!

By seizing gubernatorial seats in Virginia and New Jersey, Republicans on Tuesday dispelled any notion of President Obama’s electoral invincibility, giving the GOP a lift and offering warning signs to Democrats ahead of the 2010 midterm elections.

Wow. A Republican governor in Virginia! When we have a Democrat as president! Because one thing Virginian voters sure are known for is–!

List of Virginia governors, 1982-present

Charles S. Robb (Democrat) 1982-1986 President at time of election: Ronald Reagan (Republican)
Gerald L. Baliles (Democrat) 1986 -1990 President at time of election: Ronald Reagan (Republican)
L. Douglas Wilder (Democrat) 1990-1994 President at time of election: George H.W. Bush (Republican)
George F. Allen (Republican) 1994-1998 President at time of election: Bill Clinton (Democrat)
James (Jim) Gilmore III (Republican) 1998-2002 President at time of election: Bill Clinton (Democrat)
Mark Warner (Democrat) 2002-2006 President at time of election: George W. Bush (Republican)
Tim Kaine (Democrat) 2006-2010 President at time of election: George W. Bush (Republican)

–consistently electing a governor of the opposite party of the sitting president. And nope, it’s not a coincidence; for one, in Virginia, the incumbent governor is barred by law from seeking reelection, and two, Virginia has a large number of voters registered as “Independent” (about a third of all voters), the majority of whom consider themselves “Moderate.” Which means, that whatever direction they percieve themselves as being pushed…say, by the ideology of the Commander-in-Chief of the United States…they will dig their heels in and lean the other way. As you see above.

Now, I already knew all this from simply living smack up against Virginia for about sixteen years now (which is why I engaged in some heavy eye-rolling after the third or fourth repetition in the news of the title meme of this post); however, I can’t claim the same level of familiarity with New Jersey governors and voters–maybe it has some sort of grandiose meaning. But as far as Virginia goes…well, no. Sorry, folks.

Meghan McCain Has Tits- Conservative Community Shocked

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

This morning, I woke up and opening my eyes to the thin amount of light in my room caused shooting pain to go down my temples. Every cell of my body was crying that I needed more sleep, dammit, and they were not getting up for sex much less for working at the thrift store. Naturally, I appeased the demands of my oppressed body and called in sick to work.

A few hours of sleep later, and a couple tylenol with codeine, and I’m in a state where I can comfortably look at a computer screen while sitting (though not much else). My friend jumps up to send me this conversation(typos kept in because, fuck it, that’s why):
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When Your Male Privilege Stops Applying To Your Situation, It Goes Beyond Inconvenient, Doesn’t It?

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

I had seen this post by Melissa MacEwan of Shakeville before Hugo wrote about it, but I hadn’t been aware of her follow-up post til he linked to it. Basically, her emphasis in her follow-up post and Hugo’s primary message in his own were the same–in their own words:

Melissa: Feminist men who do the right thing often do it quietly, while misogynist men spew their rubbish at incredible volumes…If, my esteemed male feminist allies, you don’t want to be part of the problem, these fights have got to be your province, too. Giving yourselves the permission to not get publicly involved, or to get publicly involved only when it’s convenient and not all that risky and not all that hard, is the ultimate expression of privilege.

Hugo: I was able to assent intellectually to the principles of feminism long before I was courageous enough to espouse them in potentially hostile settings. I had to take baby steps. Identifying as a feminist in a women’s studies class came before identifying as a feminist in an all-male environment. But I felt a sense of urgency; it is male privilege that allows feminist men to pick and choose to join battles into which women are regularly drafted against their will. If we’re serious about our feminism, we can’t just be allies when it’s safe or convenient, we can’t merely offer soothing reassurance in private to the women in our lives. We’ve got to do it as publicly as possible, remembering that our primary usefulness to the egalitarian cause lies in our willingness to model publicly a different way of living as brothers, fathers, sons, husbands, lovers, bosses, students, roommates, coworkers and friends.

(emphasis on convenient mine)

Certainly this is something I’ve thought about before–even written about, rather passionately–grounded as it is in the unavoidable knowledge that women will never achieve true equality if we can’t get more than 50% of the human race on board with that as a basic societal truth. But seeing Hugo write about it made me pause for a second, because Hugo is, after all, a man…who apparently doesn’t entirely know what he’s talking about. Not when it comes to being a man representing feminism, or even anything remotely like feminism, in an all-male environment…a hostile setting.

I used to be pretty close to someone, a man, who had spent nearly 20 years in the military by the time I knew him. When he was 19 years old, he was stationed in Korea. Now, nobody in the Army brought his family over to Korea then; the Army wouldn’t pay for it and there was no real housing available there for family, schools for the kids, etc. Few Army women were sent to Korea, as nearly all the military specialties over there were either combat arms (outright banned to women) or very closely combat arms-related, in which there weren’t too many women serving to begin with. In short, it was essentially an “all-male environment”–not just for a few hours a day every few days or so, but 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And as anyone who has either been stationed there himself or has been very close to someone who has been stationed there knows, the standard operating procedure was for all the guys to go out together at night, get hammered, and patronize prostitutes.

Now, my friend was not particularly feminist–certainly not at age 19. But he didn’t want to patronize prostitutes. He’d only had sex a few times in his life period prior to being stationed in Korea; he was, he told me, frightened and repelled by the idea of doing it with a prostitute, just like that. His stint in Korea was only a month long–it was a training exercise–so, he said, he did manage to avoid having to do it–though both he and I doubted that he would have been able to continue to successfully refuse if he’d been stationed there for the standard 12-month Army rotation.

Because I don’t think Hugo and Melissa really know what a hostile all-male setting really consists of, sometimes, especially to a five-foot-nine inch, 140 pound, 19 year old boy. Like this*:

A Youth Radio investigation has found that between 2004 and 2006, sailors in the U.S. Navy’s Bahrain Military Working Dogs Division, or “The Kennel,” were subjected to an atmosphere of sexual harassment, psychological humiliation, and physical assaults.

It was inside that Bahrain kennel in July 2005 that Petty Officer Joseph Christopher Rocha, then 19 years old, says he was being terrorized by other members of his own division. “I was hog-tied to a chair, rolled around the base, left in a dog kennel that had feces spread in it.”

Rocha says that beginning six weeks into his deployment, he was singled out for abuse by his chief master-at-arms, Michael Toussaint, and others on the base, once Rocha made it clear he was not interested in prostitutes. “I was in a very small testosterone-driven unit of men,” Rocha says. “I think that’s what began the questioning-you know-‘Why don’t you want to have sex with her? Are you a faggot?’”

Youth Radio has conducted interviews and obtained documents released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) showing that the hog-tying episode was not the first or only case of harassment and abuse during Rocha’s deployment. In another incident cited in the documents, Rocha was forced to appear in a twisted “training video.” A member of the Working Dogs Division, Petty Officer Shaun Hogan, recalls the scene.

“Petty Officer Rocha and another junior sailor…were instructed to go into a classroom by Chief Michael Toussaint, who orchestrated the entire training. And Chief Toussaint asked them to simulate homosexual sex on a couch,” Hogan says.

Next in the simulation, Hogan says a handler and his dog barged onto the scene, and that’s when “one person…would sit up, kind of wipe off their mouth, the other would get up, and they would be fixing their fly.”

Rocha says Toussaint bullied him, “telling me I needed to be more believable, act more queer, have a higher pitched voice, make the sounds and gestures more realistic…I didn’t think I had a choice…It made me feel that I wasn’t a human being, that I was an animal, rather.”

Youth Radio has obtained a copy of both Braden’s investigation and the Navy’s Findings of Fact, which detail what happened to Rocha, in addition to incidents involving other service members. The FOIA documents have been redacted, so names are blocked out, but the actions listed include: throwing hard balls at the groin, spraying down uniformed personnel with multiple hoses, and a dog attacking a sex worker on base to the point of hospitalization.

Youth Radio’s investigation includes interviewing four members of the Bahrain Working Dogs Division who served between 2004 and 2006. All say the tone was set by Chief Toussaint. Some sailors participated in the culture of hazing as victims, others as perpetrators, or in some cases both.

When discussing his own Korea experience with my friend, I suggested that it might have been different if he’d been sent there as a sergeant in his 30′s rather than as a scared private of 19–he laughed and agreed: “Oh my God yeah…I wish I could go back there now…and this time they’d be like, ‘What’s wrong with you, man? Are you gay?’ and I’d be like, ‘That’s right, not only am I gay…I am THE gay**!’” But that’s now…as a mature adult man who has been to war and seen terrible things, who has the full growth and strength of a male in his physical prime, who has had enough sex of his own choosing to feel comfortable and confident in his own sexuality–and also, as a man with the authority of a senior noncommissioned officer’s rank.

I was in the Army myself, at age 18, in a heavily male environment–I know exactly what that’s like. There is no way in hell you could reasonably expect any of those boys to buck the system, and no, not just because they would be called names, or ostracized–they would be at serious risk of physical and sexual assault…just like I would have been if I’d ever made waves myself. And no feminist alive would have expected me to open my mouth and speak out under those circumstances. Male privilege doesn’t exist anymore when everyone in the group is already male, does it..?

So Hugo’s and Melissa’s messages are important…but they are lacking context. Which would be the privilege of never having served in our glorious Armed Forces, I would imagine. If you really want to advance the cause of feminism, first you’re going to push to make those spaces safe for the young men inhabiting them. That must come first, or you will never accomplish anything real and lasting in terms of encouraging young men to speak up for gender equality. And for God’s sake don’t trivialize a situation you can’t or won’t understand by calling it inconvenient…haven’t we had enough of that from the anti-choicers?

*via Pam

**He’s heterosexual, I should mention–you get his point, though.

Welcome to the Jungle

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

Probably this is the wrong place to ask this– I should really visit some horticulture forum or something — but what the hey, it’s more fun to do this here, and see what kind of secret green thumbs we have reading this blog.

When I moved to my new place in Fukuoka, Japan, I was all excited because I actually had a real back garden. Not a huge one, but considering I was right smack dab in the town center, it was a pretty lucky coup. I had these grand ideas of starting a vegetable garden in there, despite the fact that I have exactly zero experience with gardening.

My apartment is on the ground floor of an apartment building with 11 floors. Only the three ground floor apartments have a back lawn, and most apartment buildings don’t have lawns, period, so again, I stress my crazy luck. I was warned before I moved in that the previous tenant didn’t take care of the garden, but they offered to clean it up for me once before I arrived. And they did that.

In April, I finally saw the garden with my own eyes. I was a bit disappointed to discover that the lawn area was surrounded on all sides by multilevel apartment buildings. Whatever grew there would probably be sick for sunlight. But still, it was my own little patch. The lawn was mainly clover, with a couple of little patches of some kind of green stalky plant with thick roots that had recently been cut, and which had grown to 2 or 3 feet high. I was also secretly pleased to see that both of my neighbor’s lawns were untended and overgrown. My perfect little veggie garden was going to kick their ass!

(I wish I had taken a picture when I first arrived, but I did not.)

As any of my real life friends could have predicted, knowing what a lazy cretin I am, I did not immediately do what was necessary to plant a vegetable garden. For one thing, I had no idea what to do. So I decided I must research. Yes, research was key. No internet yet? Oh well. Off the hook.

This is what the garden looked like a month later. You can see that the green stalky thingies had grown a bit. Evidently my fears about lack of sunlight were overrated. I estimate they were 4 or 5 feet tall here.

Quin's lawn May, angle 1

Here it is from another angle.

Quin's Lawn May angle 2

Now, from roughly the same angle, but taken just this afternoon. As you can see, they’ve grown a bit more.

Quin's Lawn July 4

I shit you not, that tallest green stalky thingy is nearly 8 feet tall!

I actually  kind of like looking out my windows and seeing so much green out there. Especially because the view, otherwise, is drab apartment high rises. But for one thing, I kind of do still have this fantasy of growing vegetables out there. And for another, the mosquitos are unbearable out there. To go hang up my laundry, I need to put on a hooded sweatshirt and long jeans. And it’s getting HOT now. Mind you, maybe the mosquitos are just as much from my neighbors’ untended lawns, or from some standing water just around the corner or something. But can I just say how maddeningly clear of giant green monster stalky things my neighbors’ lawns are? Obviously this is just something indigenous to my own garden.

So, consider this a plea for help. Anybody out there know anything about this stuff? What do you recommend? Giant pruning shears? A flamethrower? Prayer? Will it tear up the soil in some detrimental way if I just put on some work gloves and buy a shovel and try to dig out the roots? What, dear gardening hobbyists, would YOU do if you inherited this situation?

What Can I Do?

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

I’m looking for ways to volunteer in my community. The catch is, I live in Fukuoka, Japan, and my Japanese language skills, while functional for my daily life, are really not at a level where I can be useful in the same ways I could in an English-speaking country. Which is to say, I talk like a four-year-old. At least I can talk at all, but still, options. Kind of limited.

My vague thoughts on the matter run like this. I’ll get Japanese friends to help me research, and see if I can find a worthy oppression-fighting organization, and then offer my services by:

1. giving free English lessons to their activists (if it’s a group for whom this is helpful);
2. helping with childcare, if their activists rely on any kind of volunteer childcare– maybe I could even lead some free music or English classes for the kids, since, after all, teaching English to Japanese kids is my regular day job; or
3. doing anything else they think I could helpfully do.

I’m a bit stymied by my language restrictions. I’m afraid any kind of proper activism is beyond my means right now. I mean, I guess I can just ladle out soup to the homeless if need be…

Please share any other ideas you might have.

More musing on the whys and wherefores of p-o-r-n

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

So, I got some het dude input on my last post on porn, which I found somewhat useful and somewhat not–useful because one of the main foci of the last post was, why is this what your average het dude wants to see..? And not useful because apparently, these two het dudes are themselves not the dudes that want to see the commonest porn scenarios of woman = hurt/humiliated/bored.

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I heard flu vaccines are linked to autism, so to be safe from “swine flu” I’m trying to lick an autistic kid.

Thursday, April 30th, 2009

(Hat tipped to Aaron.)

Now don’t get me wrong. Influenza, whatever ithe specific strain, totally sucks. Nobody wants to catch it. People can and do die of it. H-o-w-e-v-e-r, I think we may be losing our perspective a little, en masse, on the subject of the ZOMG SWINE FLU PANDEMIC!!!!!!

Just a few items of note to keep in mind, my fellow Americans, before you succumb to panic, panic, panic!

WaPo:

British officials confirmed three new cases of swine flu on Thursday, bringing the nation’s total to eight.

Two of those infected live in London, and one lives in the northern city of Newcastle. Officials at Britain’s Health Protection Agency said the three “have mild symptoms and are responding to treatment at home.”

The agency, in a statement, said all eight British cases involve people who had recently traveled to Mexico.

Let me repeat the salient points: “Swine flu” is not a magic disease that teleports itself around the globe deliberately infecting people without any hint of why it would be choosing those particular people. “Swine flu” in no way resembles the Ebola virus in terms of virulency. It resembles, well, pretty much any other strain of flu in terms of virulency.

NYTimes:

On Thursday, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 109 confirmed cases from 11 states, up from 91 cases in 10 states on Wednesday.

So, the incidence by population has gone from 0.00003 percent of the population of the United States on Wednesday to 0.00004 percent of the population on Thursday. Chances are, nobody anywhere near you personally has it. Seriously, you personally are probably All Good, especially if you don’t live in New York City.

New York City’s total of confirmed cases is at 49, and the probable cases at 5. All have links to Mexico or St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, where the virus first surfaced in New York, health officials said.

Again–it is not the Evil Juju of diseases, lying in wait for you ready to pounce without warning, cause or pattern.

Thus far, the epidemic has resulted in mild illness in many of those infected, and claimed only a confirmed eight lives in Mexico and one — a 23-month-old child from Mexico — in the United States.

And if you do somehow get it, unless you’re in the high-risk category of death from any other kind of flu–you’re very young, very old or you have other serious health problems–you are going to feel like crap for several days and then you’re going to recover and get on with your life.

Of course, you could just barricade yourself in your house and stress yourself to death. If you did, would that count as a “flu-related death?” ’cause we might see a serious jump in mortality numbers if it does.

Stop Bad-Mouthing Liberal Arts (Part 1: English)

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

It is not uncommon for me to run across people who are of the belief that liberal art degrees of various types are worthless, or that they are not very difficult. A common punching bag tends to be sneers about “English majors”. This confuses me on one level, because these are the very same people that can’t grasp the distinction between “well” and “good”, and that only people who are grammar authoritarians care about such things but think that if someone remembers the Pythagorean Theorem*, they must be very smart. Yet, if you are the average American English-speaker, you will use the words “well” and “good” hundreds of thousands of times more than you will use the Pythagorean Theorem (if you ever use it outside of a math class at all. In my experience, I have used the PT exactly twice outside of school; both times for moving furniture**).

Now, to be perfectly clear, people should learn the math and that includes a formula that is very basic to geometry. For some people, learning this formula may be the spark that ends up a burning passion for mathematics. If one was looking for simple, self-containing, universal elegance one would be hard-pressed to find anything as perfect as mathematics. Under these conditions, a squared plus b squared will ALWAYS be c squared. What other discipline could boast something without exception? Even physics will require some exceptions; the laws of physics are based in ideal states that don’t happen in the “real” world. But mathematics is it’s own self-contained universe; it is perfect.

Yet, language is the equal to mathematics in beauty and importance, and in some cases, I feel it surpasses math in its necessity. Without understanding mathematics, you are flat-out not going to understand engineering, and the ability for a person (or a group of people) to produce to a skyscraper is functionally impossible. But, without language, how are you going to coordinate with everyone to make the sky-scraper at all?

Language is a symbol that we have created because we cannot peer into someone else’s mind and hear, see, and know what they are thinking. And since language is a symbol, it only functions if we all agree what that symbol means. “Well” is an adverb (with the exception of when it is used to describe health); it modifies a verb or an adjective. “Good” is an adjective; it modifies a noun (with the exception of when it is a noun). Without these distinctions, language becomes more ambiguous. If you say “Bryce is doing good”, a literal reading of this draws the question “A good what?”. If you say “Bryce is doing well” you know that “well” is modifying “doing”. Even “Bryce is well” means “Bryce is healthy”.

“So what?” asks Hypothetical, Doesn’t-care-about-English-person. “EVERYONE understands that ‘Bryce is doing good’ means the same as ‘Bryce is doing well’. You are making a distinction without merit.”

Not so, my hypothetical, hopefully-not-a-strawman friend. The distinctions between different kinds of words build up. It is true that the distinction between “well” and “good” will probably be a half-a-second misunderstanding. But what about other words? Hubby is fond of using the phrase “I’ll borrow it to you”. What he means is “I’ll lend it to you”. Again, someone may say this is without distinction. Okay, fine. Now think of a contract where we are lending money. Think about how much easier it is to have the words “borrower” and “lender”. Think about how confusing it is if you had “borrower” and “borrowee” would be***.

Then, think about when words start to be sacrificed for propaganda. Think about terms that used to be fairly benign, or even had pleasant connotations, which have now been have been co-opted by specific groups, so they no longer have the same meaning. How many people seem to think that “facist” or “communist” means “Generic phrase for someone who has different political opinions from me, so I think are bad”? How many people have heard (or been guilty of) using the words “racist” or “sexist” used as “generic word meaning bad”. This is because we don’t consider it important to be rigorous with our language.

Additionally, when we start sacrificing precision in language, we start sacrificing our ability to communicate complicated thoughts. George Orwells 1984 spoke to this; why have the word “bad” when you can just have “ungood”? Why have “great” when you can just have “plusgood”?

And I am firmly convinced that sloppiness with “meaningless” distinctions makes it easier to abuse the definition of more important words. In martial arts, you don’t let someone with a sloppy stance get a pass because they land punches. In basketball, if you toss by taking swinging your hands like a pendulum you don’t get to evade criticism because, hey, the ball still gets to the person your passing it to. So, why would ignoring the foundations of language be acceptable?

Language is a dynamic, fluid thing. I don’t expect (or endorse) laws to be passed mandating English to remain static, and indeed, that would lead to greater misunderstandings. But, language cannot just be noise. It has to mean something, and it has to be something we can all agree on. Communication is hard enough with out further handicapping ourselves. An English major is not a simpleton, or a loafer, but a person who wants to be a rigorous guardian of our communication medium. This should be a position of respect, not a position to be denigrated.

*For those of you wishing to avoid the 30 seconds of googling, but can’t grope back to your last relevant math class, the Pythagorean Theorem states: in a right triangle, where the hypotenuse is c and a and b consist of the remaining sides a^2 + b^2 = c^2. (Side not: the hypotenuse is the side opposite of the right angle.)

**If you ever want to know how much space you’ll need if you want to put a couch in the corner of the room, PT is your friend.

***I should know; I’ve had to read contracts where they put those words in instead of “lender” and “borrower”.

Sexist/ Not Sexist

Saturday, February 14th, 2009

Routinely, feminists are accused of thinking that there are no differences between men and women. This statement, aside from being patently ridiculous, is one of the straw-men that is routinely disassembled.

Feminists do think that there are differences between men and women, but those differences do not mean that women or men are inferior to each other, and generally that those differences are irrelevant to the matter at hand. But since this is confusing to some, I thought I’d give a friendly list on what makes something sexist.

Diapers made for boys and girls: not sexist, different genitalia
Boy’s diapers having “boy things” on them and girl diapers having “girl things” on them: sexist

Citing evidence that the mean of men and women are different in some things: not sexist
Using that evidence to claim that it is “natural” or that any individual man would be better than any individual woman: sexist

Having a female writer write about “Women’s Issues” in a magazine/ webzine/ newspaper: not sexist.
Having “Women’s Issues” ghettoized in the “Fashion” section of self-same publication, and having women ONLY write about women’s issues: sexist.

Saying that women are routinely the primary caregiver: not sexist.
Saying that women SHOULD be the primary caregiver: sexist.

Saying that there are currently not a lot of women in some professions: not sexist
Claiming that this means that women are just not interested in these professions: sexist
Bonus: If you think that male-dominated fields are more important than female-dominated fields; and that sexism has nothing to do with the pay gaps you should probably think about why you think that. I’m not willing to go that this is always sexist (as I don’t want to mix it up with certain science majors that think humanity majors are less important/ easier.)

Suits tailored differently for men and women: not sexist
“Professional standards of dress” dramatically different for men and women: sexist

Different products for men and women (like tampons for women): not sexist
Different gender marketing for essentially the same item (loofas, deodorant, razors): sexist

Please feel free to leave your own examples in the comments.

Let’s talk thrifty

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

So like I said in my last post, I’m moving. This will be the first time I’ve lived by myself, which of course has advantages and disadvantages. Ability to walk around topless whenever I want? Maru! Splitting the cable bill? Batsu! This biggest disadvantage will be the crippling loneliness. Sure, I spend all night reading or attached to the computer anyway, but the option to go down and pester a roommate was always there, and now they are a 15 or 50 minute drive away, respectively. This means I will probably have to venture out in search of local companionship, and will probably be hitting more bars. No bill splitting + more leaving the house to socialize = must budget better.

The biggest place I can rein it in is the grocery store, and that means finding the time to clip coupons. But there are other obvious places: our family plan cell phone bill was $100/month, which meant I was paying $33/month for the 100 minutes of phone conversations and a dozen text messages I actually used. We have over 3,000 unused rollover minutes. Screw that noise – I suspect a prepaid plan will slash my yearly phone bill from almost $400 to just over $100.

Cleaning supplies were another place. I have an insane collection of cleaning chemicals. I’m always on the lookout for that one product that will actually make my life easier. And just before I left for Europe, I found it: vinegar. Cleans fucking everything. So the only remaining chemicals I want are toilet bowl cleaner (love those curvy necks, love them love them love them) and a super-strong calcium and lime remover, plus window cleaner because it’s still cheap and easier than diluting your own ammonia, which is what my mom does.

So I’ve been on the interwebs looking at being thrifty. I found this recipe for homemade laundry detergent, and have looked at covering my windows with 3M window films. Would wrapping my water heater in insulation actually help? How long would it take a toaster oven to pay for itself?

How do you punkasses save money?