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July 10, 2021

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Musk seems to be putting a Falcon 9 into orbit every couple of weeks, on average

true. but SpaceX didn't put a person up until 2020. cargo is different than people.

Having experienced a number of colleagues, friends, and associates trying to come to terms with where they fit on a non-binary spectrum, I don't know that trying to make trans woman and trans man an official status that can be regulated and policed is possible. Many people, especially younger adults, go through years of trying to find a space on the spectrum that makes sense.

4. I don't care about sports, but I see the point made by female athletes about fairness, and I believe therefore a solution to this must also be found.

I'll try to discuss Japanese concepts of sports categories and how they bumped into Western concepts later, so hold that thought.

5. I believe that women who object to the erasure of the words "women" "girls" "mothers" etc from public discourse should be listened to. Misogyny takes many forms, and women have learnt the hard way to be on the lookout.

Have a lot to say about this, but one big problem is that people who demand that these words remain can also be doing so for misogynist reasons. Context matters, so I'm not cool with blanket bans, but oftentimes, it takes on that faux-libertarian vibe, where the arguments are made, but they conceal something deeper. More, possibly later.

I believe that women who object to the erasure of the words "women" "girls" "mothers" etc from public discourse should be listened to

this marks the first time i've heard of such a thing.

i can understand wanting to take the gender out of a lot of things. but "mother" has a meaning that can't really be separated from biological gender, at this stage in our evolution. and if nothing else, the other two say something important about the possibility of the subject ever becoming a mother - and that will likely always be important in at least some contexts.

hold that thought

Will do! Although from tomorrow, since it's super hot, and I'm going to bed to swelter in peace.

Good heavens cleek, you obviously haven't heard that, presumably at the behest of trans activists, in certain medical (I think NHS leaflets) contexts they are called birth-givers so as not to discriminate against trans men.

better classifications points the way, IMO to potentially make sports better for all participants

The challenge would seem to be: how do we come up with appropriate classifications for each sport. Clearly basketball, golf, and hammer throw will need different criteria. But it seems like an enormous, and fraught, effort to deal with them all. I'll be fascinated to see lj's report on how Japanese sports deal with it.

It occurs to me that, once we have those, we still have a problem with those who are truly exceptional. Consider Shohei Ohtani.** It's simply not possible to put together a team, let alone a league, where everybody is on that level. Other sports have similar issues, I suspect.


**For those who don't follow baseball, he's a major league player who is both exceptionally good as a hitter and as a pitcher. The last guy who could do both in the same class was Babe Ruth. And Ohtani is substantially better.

birth-givers

ah, zeal...

1. discovers analytical tool
2. applies it to everything
...
163. learns better

Are infertile cis women who adopt children "mothers?"

As a language professional, I have no problem with a sentence like: "As a woman who has fathered a child...."

As a scholar of science fiction, I've been trying to work through ideas like this for decades. So have many SF authors - Joanna Russ spring most immediately to mind as the author of The Female Man. She was gender critical for many years, but changed her stance later in life and apologized for some of the stances she had taken in her writing during her last interview before death. I wish she had been healthy enough to expound on her reasons for the change of heart, but her last years were a constant struggle with chronic fatigue.

nous, did you ever read Marge Piercy's "Woman on the Edge of Time"?

-- now there's an interesting angle on what a "mother" is (in the future-society)

It's been a long time since I read Piercy, but yes.

Musk seems to be putting a Falcon 9 into orbit every couple of weeks, on average

true. but SpaceX didn't put a person up until 2020. cargo is different than people.

Cargo is, indeed, different from people. And orbit is different from a sub-orbital flight.

Are infertile cis women who adopt children "mothers?"

"Mother" is hardly the only word in English that has multiple meanings which only partially overlap.

My impression is the language thing is more a British thing than an American thing, but it's often difficult for me to tell for sure.

Eugene, where I went to grad school, is quite a center for feminism, and, together with UC Berkeley and UW Madison, has a strong culture of feminism. When you have a culture like that, it's easy to push the envelope. For example, the UO Motto is Mens agitat molem or minds move mountains. Unfortunately, some assumed that the mens was men, and demanded that the motto be changed. This anecdote then became an example of a culture that was historically inept and therefore shouldn't be heeded. As a linguist, I thought it was pretty dumb, but given the howlers I've made in dealing with different languages, I think that, in keeping with the theme of my other comment, the anecdote doesn't really tell us a lot except that humans often like to climb out on limbs.

Cargo is, indeed, different from people. And orbit is different from a sub-orbital flight.

We can debate, for example, which is harder: a structure that survives anything that the Bezos's or Branson's flight profiles encountered, or maintaining acceptable O2, temperature, and structural integrity while using friction to achieve 17,000 mph of delta-v (roughly five miles per second).

Just as discussion points, sailplanes are some of the most fragile craft we regularly put up, and reach 25% of the Kármán line. The world's record for free fall from a balloon was from 41% of the Kármán line.

If it moves really fast, tax it.

"Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) said Tuesday that he is planning to introduce legislation that would establish excise taxes on commercial space flights with human passengers that aren't focused on scientific research."
Democrat proposes taxes on commercial space flights for nonscientific purposes

The space companies could avoid the tax and save on fuel if they made a deal with Brazil...

Now if everyone will just be good sports...

Trans model makes Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover history: ‘If you don’t like it, you can go somewhere else’

Seeing red...

The MAGA-targeted “Freedom Phone” has a breathtaking amount of red flags: Analysis: No specs listed, "uncensored" app store looks like Google Play.

I remember silly disputes about replacing history with herstory in the 1980ies. Somebody please conjure up Hisodot to put him on trial for this pre-English abuse of English to foster his womanthrope* purposes.
It's probably all Greek to some people.

*thanks Oscar Wilde

Took me a minute to work out Hisodot (English has a "us" on the end)!

Cargo is, indeed, different from people. And orbit is different from a sub-orbital flight.

also true.

i'm trying to figure out why it's an argument worth having. Blue Origin and SpaceX (and Virgin) have different business plans, different ideas, different budgets, etc.. they're all doing cool stuff. why would spectators like us want to take sides?

why would spectators like us want to take sides?

Because golf is better than tennis.

Golf played with tennis rackets, for extra spectacle goodness.

Golf played with tennis rackets, for extra spectacle goodness.

Hey, why not. If you can play tennis with pingpong paddles, and call it pickle ball....

To go back to pronouns, check out today's Dilbert
https://dilbert.com/

It appears that somebody finally clued them in. On the fact that
- If the delta variant is almost exclusively killing the unvaccinated, and
- If their supporters are mostly the ones refusing to get vaccinated,
- Then the demographic problems they already face are going to get worse even faster.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/growing-number-of-republicans-urge-vaccinations-amid-delta-surge/2021/07/20/52a06e9c-e999-11eb-8950-d73b3e93ff7f_story.html

The rest of us, of course, already figured that out.

Too bad it's a comic written by a right-wing kook. And that particular comic evinces his disdain for the concerns of people who don't conform to gender norms. "Those funny pronouns have destroyed civilization! Yuck it up!"

If I were to bet on the cause of Fox's reversal, I'd bet that the legal department got a nice call/letter from the FTC, who wants to talk to the corporation and some of the talent about violations of the Covid-19 Consumer Protection Act.

They don't seem to care about things like long-term demographics. But billion-dollar lawsuits, threats of fines and/or jail time, and the head of the legal department sitting down at lunch and saying something like, "Our opinion is that we'll likely lose this one in court," that gets Rupert's (or the kids') attention.

Want to know what would really terrify them? Comcast sitting down when the carriage deal renewal comes up and saying, "We really think the benefits of continuing to carry Fox are not worth the risks."

Want to know what would really terrify them? Comcast sitting down when the carriage deal renewal comes up and saying, "We really think the benefits of continuing to carry Fox are not worth the risks."

FYLTGE

It would be good for the country if we could get upwards of 75% of the adult population vaccinated. At the moment, that looks fanciful. Too many on the right are refusing to even consider it -- in significant part in order to "own the libs." But there might be a way to get vaccination rates up.

As a thought experiment, suppose we saw some loud voices on the left (not Biden or other Democratic leaders, but maybe someone like AOC) start saying something like: "We should make it hard for conservatives to get vaccinated. Cut supplies to red states, etc. If they want to kill off their supporters, just say Go for it! and walk away." Suddenly, the way to "own the libs" is to get vaccinated.

Think of it as political aikido.

But the 75% have to be more or less equally distributed over the whole country, otherwise you'll have a fertile breeding ground for newer and nastier strains that will sooner or later get past the vaccinal barrier and will require to restart it all. And then of course the surviving anti-vaxxers will howl: told you so.

it won't matter. as long as other countries remain unvaccinated, they will serve as the petri dishes and we'll just keep importing the new strains because people are still going to travel.

we're fucked.

Although we are fucked, all of us, for oh so many reasons, I tried to fix my mind on higher things.

I was thinking with pleasure of the opening statement by the attorney representing Wile E Coyote in his suit for damages against the Acme Company:

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/1990/02/26/coyote-v-acme

And I found this, among all the other reasons there are to admire MIT, Janie's alma mater:

Even in these end days there is pleasure still to be found.

The whole book by Ian Frazier is worth it. He has another book of comic essays (Dating your Mom) and two books On the Rex and Travels to Siberia that are more serious but infused with his take on things. Looking these up, I see he has several others, which means I will be financing Bezos' next flight...

On your say-so, lj, I have just ordered the book from Abe Books. Bezos still gets some money, but so does the secondhand bookshop.

Took granddaughter #1 bicycling along the Poudre River today. There was flash flooding from one of the burn scars several miles upstream of us on Tuesday (at least one death when a mudslide took a house into the river). The water today was about the consistency of chocolate milk, only darker. Even this far downstream, there was heavy construction equipment pulling debris (eg, burnt tree trunks) out of the river where the stuff had collected on bridge pilings.

They are essays, so they can be read out of order, but they build up to the final one. Enjoy!

I'm spending part of my summer modifying one of my electric guitars. Not sure if what I'm doing counts technically as heresy or blasphemy to the Telecaster purists, but it's a Squire, so I'm already most of the way to being an apostate... Gonna be a bastard son of a Gretsch (with a twang bar) by the time I'm done with it.

Been a long time since I last soldered anything, but electric guitar wiring should be a good reintroduction before I try my hand at building an effect pedal or two from kits.

Thanks for the shout-out, GftNC.

Other MIT entertainment, an article in Sports Illustrated, of all places, from 1975, a few years after I graduated, that starts like this:

BEATING THEIR BRAINS OUT

...BUT RARELY ANYONE ELSE'S. MIT FIELDS TEAMS IN A RECORD 22 SPORTS WITHOUT GRANTING A SINGLE ATHLETIC SCHOLARSHIP OR CHARGING ADMISSION OR CARING IF ANYONE TURNS OUT TO WATCH, WHICH IS ALWAYS A POSSIBILITY

It includes this line, in 1975: It's the MIT way. When the basketball team refused to stand for the national anthem a few years ago, MIT quit playing it.

Also, the Wikipedia article on MIT hacks, which includes that picture of Wile E. Coyote, and my favorite (b/c my dad was a firefighter) -- the fire engine on the Great Dome, honoring first responders from 9/11 five years later.

Huh, I had no idea about the MIT hacks tradition - that's great!

Despite all the cool ones over the years, this one to me takes the cake, given the actual damage it did and what it must have cost to remedy it. It's the last one on the page:

1930s Ken Wadleigh, who later in life became a dean at MIT, and 4 others welded a streetcar to metal rails by first distracting the motorman and then setting off thermite bombs to weld the wheels in place.[125][126]

Wadleigh was a dean when I was around. Very buttoned up by that time, LOL.

When the basketball team refused to stand for the national anthem a few years ago, MIT quit playing it.

If you attend MIT, you are definitively an elitist. And, at least while attending, you're a New Englander. In short, clearly not a Real 'Murican™. So what else would one expect?

I love pretty much all the hacks, and the idea of the hacks, but the one I love best may not have happened - the birds being conditioned to divebomb the Harvard football pitch when the first whistle of the season is blown. What a brilliant idea - and what amazing dedication to the cause of mischief it would have required! I only hope it happened.

My favorite bit of MIT lore and hackage.

Smoot later became Chairman of ANSI and President of the ISO.

Apologies for being Debbie Downer here. I was one of those persons who did a lot of that at university. We would break into the Performing Arts center (there was a basement door that you could move in just a certain way and get in) We'd get into the theatre costume department or play spotlight, where a bunch of us would break in and the person who was it would have a flashlight and it was basically tag. One time, campus security noticed a light and came into check and I was hiding under a couch for about 2 hours until they left.

This might all be listed under 'stupid things I did in college', but it struck me a few years ago that these kinds of hijinks would, had I been black, been something else altogether. Perhaps a black person wouldn't have been shot, but I'm not so sure. That thought really stopped me short and everytime I think of that, I think that I got to do that because of privilege. This isn't to crap on MIT students, and some of their hacks display an incredible amount of ingenuity, but it's hard to escape thinking that it's pretty problematic.

While I completely accept the concept of privilege generally, and white privilege in particular, and want the commensurate levelling up to take place, I don't let this ruin my appreciation for the capacity of smart kids to create smart mischief, or think outside the conventional box. I've been going down the MIT rabbit hole, currently reading Janie's 1974 Sports Illustrated article, and absolutely loved the bolded bit of the following. I have always had a serious crush on this kind of thinking.

De Jeude says he finds solutions to his engineering problems "in the middle of the night. I wake up and write them down." Though he wants to be an opera singer as well as a computer analyst, he also wants to wrestle as long as he can. "It is a very sportsmanlike pastime. You're not thinking of killing anyone. In football [which he played without distinction in high school], they always said you had to hate the guy in front of you. On what basis?"

Italiexo!

But, to change the subject entirely, further to our previous discussion about use of the word "Jew", in which I talked about something that had come up years ago, I have just seen this relevant piece by David Baddiel, the writer and comedian who, as a matter of principle, has his Twitter bio just say "Jew". His recent book about anti-semitism, Jews Don't Count received very good reviews, but I haven't been able to bring myself to read it yet.

I didn't mean to be disapproving GftNC. I just meant that for me, having done stuff like that (and regaled people with tales of oh you wouldn't believe the shit I got up to in college), it has slowly dawned on me that telling stories like that is similar to explaining how it is so hard to find a decent help nowadays.

west coast problems:

thieves in CA are stealing water from municipalities to keep their pot farms alive.

No no, lj, no worries. I just wanted to emphasise that one could appreciate the problems and issues, but still retain some enjoyment in the stories. Everybody gets to make their own accommodation with this kind of stuff; for me it is that there is so much worrying and depressing in the world, that it would easy for me to tip into a low mood all the time, so I prefer to take pleasure where I can and where (in my estimation) it does no harm to do so. As I have said elsewhere, I do believe in simultaneously fighting to end discrimination of the type you are talking about.

it has slowly dawned on me that telling stories like that is similar to explaining how it is so hard to find a decent help nowadays.

I strongly disagree with this. There's an unending list of things that "privilege" gives you, and a lot of them -- probably most of them, in the sense in which you're using the word -- should be birthrights for everyone. My goal would be making sure that becomes a reality, not that those of us with "privileges" that hsould be birthrights should give them up. You think you shouldn't feed your kids decently, and take them to the doctor, because not everyone has the same resources and access?

Yes, "making sure that becomes a reality" was what I meant by levelling up - I agree with this.

You think you shouldn't feed your kids decently, and take them to the doctor, because not everyone has the same resources and access?

I'm guessing it's more about realizing/acknowledging that not everyone has that same access after being blissfully unaware/unthinking of that aspect of it for a long time.

If you've always realised and acknowledged it, does that make it OK to enjoy the existence of it again? Not talking about anybody here, but just the tendency, I always think of that thing from Twelfth Night: "dost thou think because thou art virtuous there shall be no more cakes and ale?"

I'm guessing it's more about realizing/acknowledging that not everyone has that same access after being blissfully unaware/unthinking of that aspect of it for a long time.

This brings to mind a passage from one of the essays that I teach, Hanif Abdurraqib's "I Wasn't Brought Here, I Was Born," where he meditates on the friendly violence of the punk rock show:

It is a luxury to romanticize blood, especially your own. It is a luxury to be able to fetishize violence, especially the violence that you inflict upon others. To use it as a bond, or to call it church, or to build an identity around it while knowing that everyone you can send home bloody will not come back for revenge. To walk home bloody. To walk home at night. At the time of writing this, a video is circulating of a black man being killed by police, on camera. Before this, there was another black man. And a black boy. And black women vanishing in jail. And black trans women vanishing into the night. I do not blame punk rock for this. I instead ask to consider the impact of continuing to glorify a very specific type of white violence and invisibility of all others in an era where there is a very real and very violent erasure of the bodies most frequently excluded from the language, culture, and visuals of punk rock.

It's an ambivalence and an awareness. It can be both LJ and JanieM at the same time, but getting to what JanieM seeks does take a bit of LJ's reflection to consider how things might need to change to open up those possibilities for all.

The rest of the essay is also well worth a read:

https://pitchfork.com/thepitch/862-i-wasnt-brought-here-i-was-born-surviving-punk-rock-long-enough-to-find-afropunk/

Abdurraqib is consistently thoughful.

Thanks, nous. I appreciate your offering the possibility that it can be both instead of either/or.

I also want to note the emphasis, in your quoted paragraph, on framing in terms of "bodies." Coates's Between the World and Me made me think about all of this ("this" -- I know) most specifically in relation to bodies for the first time. And that changed my way of looking at a lot of things.

I was one of those persons who did a lot of that at university.

Yes, but were your hijinks canonized in the same way as our friend Oliver Smoot's?

The markings are recognized as milestones on the bridge, to the degree that during bridge renovations in the 1980s, the Cambridge police department requested that the markings be restored, as they were routinely used in police reports to identify locations on the bridge. The renovators at the Massachusetts Highway Department went one better, scoring the concrete surface of the sidewalk on the bridge at 5-foot-7-inch (1.70 m) intervals instead of the conventional 6 feet (1.8 m).

I think not!!

I played in a band for a while back in the 80's in which I was the only person who was not a present or former student at MIT. Played a number of parties for MIT folks, on and off campus.

I have stories....

I will leave it at this: MIT people are not like other people.

And apparently Google Earth and Google Maps offer smoots as an optional unit of measurement...

Thinking further about Abdurraqib and Coates and how they have affected my thinking...

I think the project of trying to make white privilege visible is directly related to the project of ending black erasure. To accomplish this, we need the people who are sheltered within a particular power structure to develop something like double consciousness that lets one see the places where the shelter one enjoys has barriers in place that make it unavailable or unreliable or dangerous for others.

When those barriers (or zones of exclusion) become visible, we can learn a lot about a person by how they respond and act in the face of that differential status, and where in the situation they locate their empathy and concern.

I hope that makes sense. I fear that trying to be more concrete will lead to way too many words.

To accomplish this, we need the people who are sheltered within a particular power structure to develop something like double consciousness that lets one see the places where the shelter one enjoys has barriers in place that make it unavailable or unreliable or dangerous for others.

This is a very good formulation in not-too-many words. I think where lj and I differ (and maybe we wouldn't actually differ if we had time enough to hash it out) is how much of, and whether, we can legitimately enjoy stuff behind the barriers even as we want the barriers dismantled. It's a tough question. My own literal-minded mind immediately leaps to: I'm not giving away $ until I've got what the least of these have......I guess the same goes for intangibles.

Big, difficult topic.

I will leave it at this: MIT people are not like other people.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

My sense is that we blend in better as time goes by. Most of us. Some of us. ... (I used to work with alumni, so I have some experience to go by.)

It is a big, difficult topic. But nous, I agree, I think your formulation at 03.04 is very good, and does indeed make sense. And when Janie talks about whether, and how much, "we can legitimately enjoy stuff behind the barriers even as we want the barriers dismantled", that's also very well and clearly put. I think you can, but you definitely have to be aware first.

ObWi was very salutary for me, because I didn't know anybody (I don't think) before I hung out here who would have dreamt of denying there was such a thing as (for example) white, male privilege. (Actually, that's a lie: my girlhood very close friend is a Republican, and we had never discussed the issue.) Now admittedly, it was kind of easy to dismiss at first because it was McKinney and Marty, but as we hashed it backwards and forwards it was fascinating to see in real time how the mechanism worked.

But the danger of having that kind of reaction to contrast one's own with, is that it's easy to feel an awful sense of superiority, which can deaden one's own self-critical faculties. I think this is an ongoing project, for everyone.

Morning all, I have to say, I love it when things get resolved without me around. Thanks to all.

One of the most useful words, to my mind is 'squick', a reaction of visceral disgust that one acknowledges may be something that someone else find quite exciting and enjoyable. But not everything can be a squick. Racism? Sexism? A lot of modern life seems to be trying to figure out how to separate the squicks from the things that everyone should find intolerable.

Nous quote of Abdurraqib saying this

It is a luxury to romanticize blood, especially your own.

gets at something that, especially in the past couple of years, I've been thinking about more and more. As all of you probably know, knowing about my family, my connections, is something that, well, obsesses me. It's helped me blend in here in Japan. "I'm not an outsider, I'm one of you." That's all fair and good, but I'm exploiting an impulse that leaves others outside, waiting. It's not like thinking you have to make your kids suffer in order to be enlightened. But it is having to interrogate yourself (emphasis on yourself) about what benefits you get out of a transaction. But this is me talking about me, not me talking about anyone else.

Anyway, more later.

In so far as there's any disagreement, I'm on GftNC's side of it. I'd throw out a student who welded a streetcar to the tracks: there's s shocking sense of entitlement in causing so much damage and inconvenience for a laugh.

I'd throw out a student who welded a streetcar to the tracks: there's s shocking sense of entitlement in causing so much damage and inconvenience for a laugh.

I suppose, when you get right down to it, this is the responsible, proper, grown-up response (which I admit, I didn't immediately have). I like hacks which are particularly clever, using MIT type skills, or witty (like the Wile E Coyote one) and I did not understand the (no doubt brilliant) technique involved in this stunt, so it wasn't one of my favoured ones. I can only assume that MIT is prepared to occasionally pay the cost of making good such stunts, on the basis that it's a price occasionally worth paying to have the kind of brilliant students who think such things up, and a kind of PR for attracting them. I guess the trick would be to convince the hackers of the future that the cleverest, most prestigious stunts involve the least damage (as, apparently, hacker ethics dictate when "re-decorating" the Harvard statue).

But it's true, and relevant to the meta-discussion we have been having, that this did indeed exhibit a shocking sense of entitlement in causing so much damage and inconvenience for a laugh

Of course, since it happened in the 30s, we can hope that current day MIT students would have more of a sense of this kind of issue. But I don't know any - perhaps Janie could guess from her more recent experience whether this sort of obliviousness would still be likely.

Of course, since it happened in the 30s, we can hope that current day MIT students would have more of a sense of this kind of issue. But I don't know any - perhaps Janie could guess from her more recent experience whether this sort of obliviousness would still be likely.

Are they human? Then some of them are oblivious.

On the other hand, I'm pretty sure MIT would take a much dimmer view of such antics these days.

The Wikipedia article doesn't mention, and I don't have time to research, whether Wadleigh and friends *were* punished at the time. Given the MIT I knew, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the students were required to make restitution somehow, but I don't actually know. When I was first told about the track-welding, my first thought was that "modern" students (this was probably when I was working in admissions, late 70s) were quite tame in comparison -- their hacks were mostly meant to be clever and funny.

The article cited in footnote 126 of the wikipedia page is from a student publication in the spring of my senior year. A lot of the names on the masthead are famliar, but I didn't know any of those folks. The whole issue is dedicated to Wadleigh, but I don't have time or heart to read it and see if the track-welding caper is mentioned. When I look at stuff from that era I tend to be appalled at the casual misogyny, and go do something else.

When I look at stuff from that era I tend to be appalled at the casual misogyny, and go do something else.

Admittedly I'm never going to be on the receiving end of this. But I'm inclined to be less appalled by folks in that time acting in ways that were unexceptional at the time. I'm far more appalled to see the same behavior today, when the problem is broadly recognized. Today, people should d*mn well know better.

But I'm inclined to be less appalled by folks in that time acting in ways that were unexceptional at the time.

All well and good, and I do that in general too. But this perhaps supports lj's side of whatever divergence of opinion we have on these issues: I have to face the fact that I was personally, and probably deeply, affected by it, and took it all for granted as just good "clean" fun. Some of the stuff in printed matter I have from those days is disgusting.

I have to face the fact that I was personally, and probably deeply, affected by it, and took it all for granted as just good "clean" fun.

Yes.

I don't feel guilty for laughing at the misogynistic, rape-y, racist comedies of my youth that now make me cringe, but neither do I want to sit around claiming that things were so much better back then when "people didn't get worked up about 'x'." I try to turn a bit of my attention to finding the things I am not seeing now that will make me cringe in 20 years.

But I'm a Social Justice Warrior, so...

And as LJ points out, it helps that I am perpetually in contact with young adults who don't have the context for all those past things. Trying to explain without excusing, empowering, or perpetuating the problems is a worthy challenge.

While I completely accept the concept of privilege generally, and white privilege in particular, and want the commensurate levelling up to take place, I don't let this ruin my appreciation for the capacity of smart kids to create smart mischief, or think outside the conventional box.

It is entirely possible to be entertained by, or even admire in a perverse way, antics that you disapprove of.

It is similarly possible to be entertained by, or even admire in a perverse way, people you distrust completely.

This is, after all, the core of an untold number of stories, movies, etc.

It took me a while to learn the distinction.

Trying to explain without excusing, empowering, or perpetuating the problems is a worthy challenge.

Certainly it is a worthwhile exercise. Just as it is a worthwhile exercise to point out to students that some things that we see as problematic are unexceptional in other cultures. As some things that are unexceptional to us are very problematic for them. (The obvious example being our swimming attire versus the clothing standards in various Middle Eastern countries.) That is the basic Anthropological principle of Cultural Relativity.

Everyone should understand that cultural standards are different, not only across space but across time. Unless you grasp that, you can't really understand our own current culture.

Classic prank: Caltech undergrads hacked the electronic scoreboard for the Rose Bowl game.

Made various small changes (improved the graphics! had a beaver image scurry across the chyron!) and were not noticed.

So they changed the team names to "Caltech" and "MIT" (with Caltech ahead, of course). The score, etc? Left untouched.

Officials freaked and stopped the game.

Students up on criminal charges, but what REALLY set of the judge was that the students got course credit for the hack. A course in digital electronics, so of course.

As may be obvious, one of my subfields for my graduate work in Anthropology was Cultural Change. It really, really helps in understanding a lot of what we see in our current political landscape. And also provides some hope for the future.

I have to face the fact that I was personally, and probably deeply, affected by it, and took it all for granted

Same, even the bits that didn't seem (even at the time) like such "good, clean fun". I am astonished sometimes, when I look back.

Certainly it is a worthwhile exercise. Just as it is a worthwhile exercise to point out to students that some things that we see as problematic are unexceptional in other cultures. As some things that are unexceptional to us are very problematic for them. (The obvious example being our swimming attire versus the clothing standards in various Middle Eastern countries.) That is the basic Anthropological principle of Cultural Relativity.

Undergrads these days are soaking in Cultural Relativity. Most of their essays are carefully performed balancing acts where they lay out sides and endeavor not to take one. The rest are polemical broadsides.

My job in First Year Writing is to try to get them past these two poles to a place where they can make an accounting of cultural relativity, but also take critical positions and trace out better ways of understanding how it all plays together so we can find better ways to affirm our shared values.

morning again, interesting stuff all.

It might be different if I hadn't engaged in that kind of behavior, I might look at it as more anthropological 'wow, aren't those kids clever?'

Perhaps it is better to work with fictional examples. Here is one where the deleted scenes from the movie tell us a different story

https://heavy.com/entertainment/star-trek/2009-deleted-scenes-kobayashi-maru/

It's interesting because with the deleted scenes, it tells of that Chris Pine's Kirk got around the Kobayashi Maru simulation by essentially sleeping with (if you aren't up on your star trek lore

https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Orion_slave_girl

https://memory-beta.fandom.com/wiki/Orion_slave_girl

the first one is canon, so is limited to only 'official' sources while the second includes non-canonical information. It's fascinating to see how the construction of fictional worlds is shaped by all of the currents in society.


Finally got to Janie's SI article and this amazed me

By whatever measure, the Lambda Chis are indeed jock infested, and proud of it. On a recent Friday evening President John Cavolowsky, a tall, handsome, short-haired junior from Dedham, Mass. and a two-sport letterman (baseball and basketball), led members in an informal postdinner discussion on the whys and why nots of the non-existent MIT varsity football team. Dinner had been coat and tie. A polite, to-the-point blessing was said, and a bawdy—though dated—table song sung to enliven the stew.

The past is indeed a foreign country.

Still an open thread, so, a story.

When I was at law school (only for a year, and it was as you will see a long time ago) I remember that in one of the lectures the female lecturer, a very proper Englishwoman, was talking about the issue of obtaining sex by deception (I cannot now remember what the law actually was, but the links below may or may not shed some light). I just remember, as if it were yesterday, this terribly correct woman saying:

I believe there is currently a pop group [sic] called the Damned, and that one of their number is called Rat Scabies. Suppose a young woman had sex with a young man who said that was who he was, but then she discovered that he was not Rat at all, but a roadie....

"Not Rat at all, but a roadie" passed into my close-knit friendship group's vocabulary, to join "How awful! Why not?" which I have previously told you about. But I was caused to remember the occasion by reading the following piece in today's NYT, and I also include a link to a past BBC piece about the same sort of issue.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/05/opinion/sexual-consent.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-49127545

I found the consideration of the concept of "consent" to be interesting all over again, in the light of (as we have been saying) changed times.

Have just seen that that NYT piece was from March, so I don't know why I have only just seen it. Not that it matters...

today in Freedom-killing Conservative Cancel Culture

Then there's this from cleek's link:

kicking them off their committees would be easier said than done. While McCarthy could remove Cheney and Kinzinger from their other committees, Pelosi ultimately controls committee membership. She could theoretically just re-appoint them to their current posts.
I suppose, however, the McCarthy will be happy enough with a gesture sans substance. Seems like his wheelhouse.

It's quite ironic how the GOP turns more and more fascist in content but clearly prefers Stalinism as far as form is concerned (although without legally enforcable show trials, labor/re-education camps and shots in the neck...yet).

On the other hand: The Koch family built its fortune by doing business with Stalin (mainly because the Kennedy clan already got the lucrative deals with Hitler), so ideological reserve always had its limits.

What is remarkable to me is the utter horseshit that the GOP has decided is gonna be their hill to die on.

Support for Trump, a refusal to publicly acknowledge that he lost the election, and a refusal to recognize the 1/6 riots for what they were.

None of this is about policy. It’s a cult of personality and culture war bullshit.

There is no future in it, I just worry that they’re gonna take the rest of us down with them.

What is remarkable to me is the utter horseshit that the GOP has decided is gonna be their hill to die on.

Support for Trump, a refusal to publicly acknowledge that he lost the election, and a refusal to recognize the 1/6 riots for what they were.

None of this is about policy. It’s a cult of personality and culture war bullshit.

What's remarkable to me is that they chose to include opposition to vaccination in their collection of horseshit. It's not just blatantly false to fact. It's something that will, in the real world, lead to deaths disproportionately among their supporters.

If the Democrats were as lacking in moral fiber as today's GOP, it would be a great disinformation approach to future political power. It wasn't, of course. But the part about it threatening Republicans' electoral future does seem to be (belatedly) perpetrating the tiny minds of GOP politicians. But, I suspect, too late.

I’m back to wearing a mask when I’m around other people in public spaces. I’m vaccinated, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get COVID, and it doesn’t mean it won’t make you sicker than you want to be. And it doesn’t mean you can’t spread it around, and even if you don’t get sick, or especially sick, you could hand it off to somebody who can’t be arsed to get vaccinated, and they could die.

If enough people get vaccinated, we won’t need to keep doing this. If they don’t, we will.

It’s rampant dumb-assery. People fill their heads with bullshit fresh from the bullshit factory, and we all get to live with the freaking virus for another year.

In other news, I’m sitting on my front porch in eastern MA, about a half mile from the Atlantic Ocean, while looking at haze and smelling wood smoke from fires in Montana and Oregon.

Stay safe out there.

My 88-year-old mother died with Covid last November. I don't say died "of" Covid, because she was hardly alive at that point: her dementia had progressed to where she had lost her ability to speak, let alone reason or remember. After living in her house for over a year, trying to take care of her at home, I had to surrender to reality: we had to move her into a nursing home. Where she got Covid, and died.

And now I read that plenty of fucking nursing home staff are refusing vaccination. MAGAts abound, alas.

A few days ago, I was visiting my uncle -- my late mother's 94-year-old brother. He's physically declining, but still has all his wits about him and will recount details of his youth at the drop of a hat. While I was there, another visitor dropped by: the son of one of my uncle's old friends -- a guy about my age who I had last seen at some Greek shindig 30 years ago when his father, my father, and my uncle were active members of the Pancretan Association of America.

In the course of a reasonably pleasant conversation, it transpired that neither he nor his girlfriend (who came with him) are vaccinated. At the risk of my aunt's displeasure, I called him an idiot to his face. That was extreme restraint on my part.

This boyo is an unfortunately-typical Greek MAGAt. He owns a pizza joint someplace in Vermont. He sees it as his right to refuse the vaccine because reasons. He visits a 94-year-old man and his 83-year-old wife in company with his also-unvaccinated girlfriend, no masks, no avoidance of handshakes or hugs, no embarrassment or apology.

Had we been at my house, I would have kicked his ass out the door. Out of respect for my aunt's let's-not-have-unpleasantness sensibilities, I attempted to reason with him without explicitly calling his behavior reckless endangerment. I listened, without throwing things or pulling my hair out, to the usual MAGAt talking points he mumbled. We parted with conventional civilities, in effect having "agreed to disagree".

But I'm done being civil. God rot all MAGAts. God damn all appeasers of MAGAts. May Covid hurry up and gather them all unto their Lord and Savior.

--TP

TP, I'm sorry about your mother's death, but most of all for what preceded it. Clearly, you were a very caring son. As we Jews say at such times, I wish you a long life.

As for your forbearance in the face of the MAGAt couple, words fail at their behaviour. I wonder what your aunt and uncle thought about the complete lack of concern for their health.

So sorry to hear of your mother’s death, Tony. Especially sorry that she was not completely present for her last years.

FWIW, at the moment I know two people personally who were vaccinated, yet contracted Covid. They aren’t as sick as they would have been, which is good. They could pass it on to someone else, which is not good.

It’s been great to relax a bit, but it ain’t over yet.

TP, condolences and I echo GFTNC and Russell's comments.

On the anti-vax front, our neighborhood in Spicewood TX is undergoing an outbreak due to unvaccinated people infecting vaccinated people. If there is a silver lining, it's that the people who were vaccinated but got sick anyway, despite being over 70 with a range of co-morbidities, all had relatively mild symptoms, mainly sore throats and tired for 2-3 days. But, they all had to self-quarantine.

Very shitty leadership from the Repubs on this one, not to mention a really stupid unforced error.

Here in Japan, I've not run into those types. There are some floating around, but perhaps Japanese norms and culture serves to have them tamp it down. Tony P's comment has me wondering how to react.

Obviously, the situation is that they are visiting, so he couldn't trundle them out. I might go down the the nurse's station and ask her to claim that the visit was over, or that your uncle had already been visited or anything to get them out the door. That pressure to not rock the boat is so strong, it's hard to imagine what to do.

On the other hand, if this were someone I were meeting and didn't have that pressure, I would simply ghost them, pick up my things and leave without a word.

My reaction has been shaped by what works here, and I wonder if it would work in that context as well. There is always the desire to set out why you are doing something. To explain yourself and your actions. But when you do that, you are granding a measure of equality, of equal footing to them. And I believe that is a mistake. They don't deserve it.

Japanese have what is called an odashibeya and perhaps this is more attuned to Japanese norms, but my feeling is that you simply ignore them. If your uncle is there, you simply talk to him and pretend they aren't there. If you were to meet these types while grocery shopping, you'd ideally set down your basket and walk out of the store.

I imagine this sort of thing would require some sort of mental prep, a psychic girding of the loins. But I had the opportunity to do that with a student who plagiarized this term. Everything for this class is online, and I'm using a SNS to keep in touch with students. So this student plagiarized and I sent him a picture of their essay and where they took it from (helpfully highlighted) and have not replied to any message they sent. Which got them more and more frantic. (unlike the US, plagiarism here is much harder to punish) However, the student sent multiple messages, each one more apologetic and resubmitted the homework. I'm not sure if that would work with the MAGAt types, but it certainly might.

i'd happily walk out of places where non-vaxxed gather. but the problem is there's no way to tell who has been vaccinated and who hasn't. the little paper cards are easily faked - and we can't ask for them anyway.

I'm sorry about your mom, Tony P. You are not alone in your anger and frustration with the anti-vaxxers.

From the NYT via yahoo:

As Virus Cases Rise, Another Contagion Spreads Among the Vaccinated: Anger

https://www.yahoo.com/news/virus-cases-rise-another-contagion-121658945.html

"As Virus Cases Rise, Another Contagion Spreads Among the Vaccinated: Incandescent Rage"

Cleek, I was just thinking about Tony P talking to the person and that sort of situation. Maybe I'm getting a warped view from some of these stories, but it sounds like in some of these places, people are pushing for a confrontation.

TP, sorry about your mom. Having been through it earlier in 2020, I can relate. It's hard enough to face the decline and the dementia, without adding the COVID situation. I don't blame you one little bit for your anger.

I've just been watching the Committee hearing on the January 6th insurrection. I would find it completely incredible that anyone could believe that this event was in any way, "friendly", "loving" or "tourist"-like. I would do, if I hadn't now read that the father of one of the survivors of the Parkland school shooting has become a QAnon believer, and is now sure that the school shooting that his son survived is a hoax, and that the kids and others are being paid to continue the hoax.

We are through the looking glass.

"Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?"

Always seems farcical... until you run into someone who literally refused to believe his eyes. Whether it's a shooting survivor or one of those folks dying of covid while insisting to the end that it wasn't real, so this couldn't be happening.

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