“It’s a Boy”

It was understandable, really.  By far, most of the crime— 97% in fact—was committed by men.  Prisons are expensive to build and maintain.  Prisoners are also expensive—they don’t work while they’re in prison, so we have to support them.  Then there’s the expense of the police forces and courts that get them there.  And the emergency services that take care of all the gunshot wounds, the knife slashes, the broken jaws…

She pushed.  And pushed.  The hospital room was white and sterile.  The attending doctor said something to the assisting nurse from time to time, but things seemed to be progressing normally.  But that didn’t mean it wasn’t excruciatingly painful.

Her husband mopped the sweat off her brow, and encouraged, and reassured.

“And push again,” the doctor said.

“It better be a girl,” she grunted as she pushed again when the wave of pain struck her.

“Don’t worry about that now, honey” her husband said.  “Just focus, you’re doing good…”

            Then there’s  all the environmental stuff.  All those beer cans, empty cigarette packs, fast food cartons—most of the litter along the highways was put there by men.  And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  What are they driving on those highways?  Big cars and pick-up trucks.  Gas-guzzlers with high emissions.  And the companies that dump toxic waste, and clear cut forests, and dam river systems…?  All run by men.

“I want a girl,” she cried.  With exhaustion.  With worry.

“Oh come now,” the nurse said.  “Boys are harder, I know, had two of ‘em myself.  Holy terrors half the time, but you love ‘em just the same.”

“Another push— ”

            The insurance companies opened the door when they implemented higher premiums for men between the ages of sixteen and twenty-six.  They were the ones more likely to cause an accident.  Can’t argue with the facts and figures.

“No, it’s not that,” she gasped, “It’s the money.

“Shh, honey, we’ll find a way, it’ll be all right,” he wiped her brow again.

“One more, I think—”

She gave one final push then fell back against the pillows, drenched, exhausted.  She waited anxiously for the announcement.

“It’s a boy!”

            They called it the Gender Responsibility Tax— a $5,000 surtax was levied on each and every male.  Payable annually, from birth to death.  By the parents, of course, until the boy reached manhood.  


(Thanks to June Stephenson.  It was her idea.)

 

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“I am Eve” by chris wind

the first piece in Thus Saith Eve...

I am Eve

 

the bad girl, the evil woman.

I stand accused, and sentenced. Without a trial. For life.

Because of my single action, millions of individuals have been born with ‘original sin’, have been guilty even before they acted, doomed before they started. I alone have been held responsible for this sad and pathetic fallen race. Therefore, let me begin by correcting this: if I were free not to fall in the first place, they were free not to fall after me; and if I were not free, then I can’t be held responsible—for my fall or theirs.

Now, let us further examine the charges, let us correctly define that action.

I have been condemned for choosing knowledge over ignorance: the fruit I ate came from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In a society that praises pursuit of knowledge and honours men of wisdom, why have I been viewed with disfavour? Had Adam reached out first, would he have been so rebuked? Or is the state of ignorance requisite for women only? (Histories pass on Socrates, they pass over Aspasia.)

In the same vein, I chose experience over innocence. In a context of attitudes that value experience, the disapproval of my action can only imply the desire that women, like children, live in a state of innocence.

I have also been condemned for disobedience. If that were the issue, then why wasn’t the tree so named—‘the tree of obedience and disobedience’ or ‘the tree of temptation’. By naming it what it was not, God either deliberately tempted me or deliberately deceived me. And he should be judged, not I.

Perhaps though, the tree really was a tree of knowledge. In that case, one should wonder what insecurities led God to prefer obedience over knowledge. Indeed, one should wonder why he went so far as to forbid knowledge. The reason is evident in Genesis (3:22-23): he didn’t want us to equal him. He sent us out of Eden to prevent our eating from the tree of life, because already we were as wise for having eaten from the tree of knowledge, and if we had made it to the tree of life before he found us, we would’ve been immortal as well—we would’ve been as godly.

And that takes me onward, for counted among my sins is that of pride. Considering that later, through his son, God commands us to ‘follow in his footsteps’, I find the label of pride odd for the action that would do just that—make me like God. Furthermore, I find it odd to be condemned for being like God when, after all, he created us in his image (Gen 1:26-27). And God certainly is proud: to create us in his image can be called narcissistic, and to prefer us to spend our time admiring him rather than learning about him is equally evidence of pride. (As an aside, I would think that my knowledge would increase my admiration; that wasn’t why I ate the fruit, but if it was, would it have mattered? Did God ever ask my intent?)

I have also been charged with a lack of faith. Yet I took it on faith in the first place that God told us not to eat from the tree: remember, he gave the command to Adam before I even existed (Gen 2:16-17).  (I don’t rule out the possibility that the command therefore was meant only for Adam—God knew that knowledge in the hands of men is a dangerous thing.)  Further, I had faith in the serpent, I trusted the serpent to be telling the truth. Is it dishonourable to trust?

And is it reprehensible to act on that trust, as I did then in offering the fruit to another, to Adam? God commanded innocence, then held me responsible for an act of innocent intent. For how could I know my faith was misplaced? How could I know the serpent was evil until I had knowledge of good and evil? By telling us not to eat of the tree, he insisted on ignorance—but then held us responsible, for an act of ignorance.

Lastly, I have been condemned for using my reason, for it is through the exercise of reason that I decided to eat the fruit. The serpent’s explanation of God’s motives, that the knowledge of good and evil would make us godly and he didn’t want us to equal him (Gen 3:5), seemed very reasonable to me. God’s command on the other hand, not even to touch the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil because then I’d die, seemed so very unreasonable. Where is the fault in using that faculty given to me by God? The fault is not mine, but God’s: he made reason guide our will and left our reason prey to deceit.

Or did he? History has it that the serpent’s words were false, that I was deceived. But God’s words after the fact (Gen 3:22 “Behold, the man is become as one of us”) verify the serpent’s prediction (Gen 3:5 “Ye shall be as gods”): the serpent was telling the truth.  (And in fact God lied: he said we would die (Gen 3:3) if we touched the fruit of that tree, and we didn’t—at least not for several hundred years.) And so I stand condemned, for listening to truth. And for offering that truth to others.

 

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The Problem with Business Ethics Courses

The problem with business ethics courses is that all too often they’re taught by business faculty.  And ethics is, after all, a field of philosophy.  And with all due respect to my business colleagues, philosophy faculty are far better qualified to teach ethics than business faculty.

As far as I can see, business ethics when taught by business faculty is superficial at best.  The so-called ‘media test’ and ‘gut test’ are in essence nothing but appeals to intuition and childhood conditioning.  I think it far better to teach the many rational approaches to ethical decision-making which consider consequences, rights, values, and so on.

A further weakness of business ethics when taught by business faculty (and medical ethics when taught by medical faculty, and so on) is that what takes place is preaching, not teaching.  The course is essentially ‘This is the right thing to do’ or ‘Do this in this situation’ – what is taught is simply the current conventions, standard practices, and/or legal obligations.  Far better, I think, that a critical thinking approach be used: provide students with a toolbox of approaches so they can figure out what to do for themselves (after all, they are responsible for the decisions they make).*

Unfortunately, philosophy’s disdain for business is matched only by business’ disdain for philosophy.  So even when a philosopher does teach a business ethics course, it is unnecessarily difficult and sadly unsuccessful.  Students can be quite hostile when things they have been taught as fact (such as ‘The purpose of business is to maximize profit’ or ‘As long as it’s legal, it’s okay’) are challenged.  They take it personally and spend a lot of time trying to win – and so miss much of the course.  But that’s what philosophers do: we challenge the assumptions that arguments are based on.

And we insist opinions be based on arguments!  Clear and logically sound arguments no less!  That’s a lot of work!  Students are especially hostile when a lot of work is required for what is, after all, ‘a bird course’!  If the student is used to knowledge and comprehension courses, then teaching ethics, requiring arguments to support opinions, is doubly difficult.  (And business students have led me to believe that the kind of critical and abstract thinking required in these ethics courses is significantly different from anything they’ve had to do before – which is worrisome because this kind of thinking, at a much more advanced level, is required for the Reading Comprehension and Logical Reasoning sections of the GMAT.) (Of course, that’s the least of the reasons why this is worrisome.)

And in ethics in particular, we navigate through grey: there is no right answer; there are only degrees of right.  Students resist this, they stand on the sidelines, never really getting the value of the course.  They are far more comfortable with the black and white they seem to be taught in their other courses.

And sad to say, though I was a philosopher teaching business ethics, one day I was informed that I would not be asked to teach ethics again. (Well actually I wasn’t really informed – talk about the need for ethics: if it weren’t for the phone call of an administrative assistant acting on her own initiative, I probably would’ve found out I was ‘fired’ by seeing an ad for an ethics instructor in the paper….)  Why?  I asked the Dean for confirmation and an explanation.  Student evaluations have been “mixed”, he said.  True enough.  In any ethics class, there is a handful, usually the less mature and less academically apt, who react with the hostility and resistance described above.  And there are others who nominate me for an Excellence in Teaching Award.

It’s quite possible, though, the ad won’t appear.  It’s quite possible the course will simply not be offered anymore.  Such was the fate of the IT Ethics course I also taught for a couple years.  As it is, the business ethics course was offered only every second year, as an elective, sending a message of unimportance that also makes the course so difficult to teach successfully (after all, since business is profit-driven, ethics is irrelevant, and anyway, everyone already knows right from wrong).

 

* These weaknesses, by the way, are horribly magnified in business ethics practitioners (consultants, officers, and the like).  To my knowledge, most have no training in philosophy/ethics at all!  And that’s considered okay!  Would you accept an accounting consultant who had no training in accounting?  After all, anyone can add and subtract (just as everyone knows right from wrong).  Ethics practitioners are either legal people or management/human resources people and so their approach to an ethical issue is either ‘Comply with the legislation’ or ‘Comply with the company’ (but in either case, remember that bottom line). Articles on ethical issues that get published in business magazines (as opposed to those that get published in ethics journals) are, frankly, embarrassing in their lack of depth; business codes of ethics are laughable for their simplicity, their naiveté….)

 

Postscript:  Since this piece was written, a business graduate has been elected president of a country.

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Rain Without Thunder (movie) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Rain Without Thunder (movie) HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!

 

I just watched this! And will watch it again, stopping to think at so many points!

 

Here’s the brief description: It’s the year 2042 and the threat is real…women are going to prison for terminating their pregnancies. An investigating reporter is determined to reveal the truth behind the convictions.

 

It’s available on amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Rain-Without-Thunder-Betty-Buckley/dp/B009YCWW7E/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1486337772&sr=8-1&keywords=rain+without+thunder

 

 

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a couple excerpts from UnMythed, by chris wind

and now for something a little different, a couple excerpts from UnMythed, by chris wind

 

Macha

 

this one I’ll tell straight:

 

you were forced to race against a team of horses

you were pregnant at the time

you won

then you died, giving birth.

 

but with that last great exhalation

you cast a curse

upon the warriors of Ulster:

for nine generations

whenever they attempted to fight

they were incapacitated

with childbirth pains.

 

***

 

Amphion

 

perhaps you’re right about my beard–

it’s funny, I guess facial hair

well, hair of almost any kind

is a measure of masculinity

and academics and artists

have always felt a little like eunuchs

(real men use their bodies)

 

it’s an interesting insight

(and surprising from you)

but it falls a little short–

what I wonder is this:

do I have a beard

to look more like a man

or less like a woman?

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Women Discover Life on Mars

“Should we fund a mission to Mars?  Sure.  Give us a bit of time and we can make that planet uninhabitable too.”  (jassrichards.com)

That said, I thoroughly enjoyed watching MARS.   Why?  Because the three astronauts who walk out onto the planet’s surface at the end to discover life on Mars are all women.  Not a token one of three.  Not even a remarkable two of three.  But ALL THREE.  All three are women.

AND the bureaucrat back on Earth who makes the announcement?  Again, a woman.

AND none of this was presented as in-your-face feminist.  Not one line in the entire script made reference to their being women.  There was no male resentment, no resistance, no snide comment about quotas or reverse discrimination.  There was no undue praise, no celebration for having achieved the status of being the first humans to discover life on Mars.

They just were.

I can’t tell you how gratifying it would be to just be.  To be an astronaut if I wanted to be.  To be the one to discover life on Mars.  To be the head of a Mars mission program.  Just because I was qualified to do so and lucky enough to make it through the selection process.  And my sex had as little to do with it as my hair.

Furthermore, throughout the expedition, there was as much female presence as male.   Sure, okay, one of the women became leader only because one of the men died, but when the second crew arrived, its leader was a woman.  And if I’ve got this mistaken, it’s only because regardless of the actual hierarchy, women were as central, as important, as valuable, as active.

They were just living their lives. 

And yet, seven of the eight writers are men.  The director is a man.  All ten executive producers are men.  Even so, they had THREE WOMEN discover life on Mars.  Three women, all by themselves.  They didn’t need a man to go with them to protect them.  They didn’t need a man to go with them in case they got lost.

Amazing.  Truly amazing.

And so truly … gratifying.  To see this.  To actually see this.

Thank you.

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Telling our Members of Parliament How to Dress

So I recently found this on the Parliament of Canada website:

While there is no Standing Order setting down a dress code for Members participating in debate, [84]  Speakers have ruled that to be recognized to speak in debate, on points of order or during Question Period, tradition and practice require all Members, male or female, to dress in contemporary business attire. [85]  The contemporary practice and unwritten rule require, therefore, that male Members wear a jacket, shirt and tie as standard dress. Clerical collars have been allowed, although ascots and turtlenecks have been ruled inappropriate for male Members participating in debate. [86]  The Chair has even stated that wearing a kilt is permissible on certain occasions (for example, Robert Burns Day). [87]  Members of the House who are in the armed forces have been permitted to wear their uniforms in the House. [88]

What could possibly justify this Speakers’ rule?

Could it be that our Members of Parliament can’t dress themselves?  The people we’ve voted into positions of power? Doubtful.  They’re adults.  Many of them even have a university degree.  (Okay, I know …)

Could it be somebody in a higher position of power is prioritizing appearance over reality?  What you look like is more important than what you are like.  That bodes well for, well, the world.

Could it be someone in a higher position of power is making a series of non sequiturs from clothing to behaviour and character?  If you wear a business suit, you must be honest, hard-working, mature – respectable.  Say what?

It is certainly that someone in a higher position of power is appealing to tradition and practice.  Philosophers rightly consider that fallacious reasoning.  Just because we’ve always done it that way, just because we do it that way, doesn’t mean we should.

And the other thing to note?  There’s no mention of what exactly female members must wear.  Because there’s no standard business attire for women?  No, that can’t be right.  To judge by the Speakers’ own criteria, tradition and practice, it is standard for women to wear shoes with high heels (that will be uncomfortable for standing, difficult for walking, and eventually cause postural pain), to wear a skirt or dress (that will ensure their legs are showing, because – men want to see women’s legs at all times?), and at the very least to not wear a jacket, shirt, and tie – because we MUST MUST MUST enforce the gender norms.  Our patriarchy depends on it.

(Oh, one other thing to note: “..male Members wear a jacket, shirt and tie” – what, no trousers?)

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The Sci Phi Journal!

Check out the Sci Phi Journal: a journal about science fiction and philosophy!

Not just about though, there are many cool stories to read and think about…

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Planning is Sinister?

In This Changes Everything,* Naomi Klein makes an interesting observation, intended to explain why we aren’t building the kind of economy we need: “… there is something sinister, indeed vaguely communist, about having a plan to build the kind of economy we need, even in the face of existential crisis” (125, my emphasis).

Is that why we don’t plan?

At the individual level.  People are so que sera even about creating other human beings.  ‘You’re pregnant?  I didn’t know you wanted to spend twenty years of your life looking after someone.’  ‘Oh, it just happened ….’

And at the community level.  If lakes were zoned, for example, everyone—jetskiers, and people-with-screeching-kids, and canoeists —could be happy.  But as it is, the first group is angry with the third, the second group is angry with the first, the third group is angry with both the first and the second.

This lack of planning—it’s all because it’s communistBecause a pre-determined society is somehow against individual freedom?  

Not planning is against individual freedom.  Not planning is allowing yourself to be tossed about at random, by chance—and that’s not being free.

I wonder if there’s also a religious element involved.  To plan, to choose your future, is to reject, or at least challenge, God’s plan.  For you, your future.

Also, planning requires foresight, and foresight requires imagination.  Which, I’m realizing, most people don’t have.

Planning also requires strong desires, for X over Y.  Again, I’m realizing that most people—don’t really care.  (Which means they get in the way of those of us who do.)

 

*very highly recommended, by the way

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Calm down. Don’t think about— Don’t think.

One day when I was talking to a neighbour about something that I wished we could do something about—someone tossing their garbage out of their car onto the road where we walk every day, someone letting their kid drive a dirt bike with no muffler throughout the neighbourhood, someone burning leaves and sending toxic smoke everywhere—and she said something like ‘Calm down, your blood pressure’s going up!’

Well, it wasn’t (my blood pressure has finally creeped up into the normal range, ten years after I stopped running forty miles a week), but I realized then that she wasn’t distinguishing between my cognitive anger, my critical thinking—I was making a point about civility, and respect for others, and the difference between public and private space—and some emotional rant that might end in screaming and slamming doors.  I suppose the latter can elevate one’s blood pressure, and if it’s high to begin with, if you’re on blood pressure medication, like so many people are these days, then yeah—calm down.  So no wonder people develop a sort of blind and deaf veneer.  No wonder they just ‘go with the flow’ and never object.  No wonder they avoid thinking about—  Well, thinking.  It’s literally bad for their health.

But what this means—this inability to distinguish argument from rage, along with the increasing number of people with high blood pressure—is that the more we eat at McDonald’s, the less we’ll get angry about McDonald’s.  The more zombied out people are, sprawled on the couch in front of the tv, the more zombied out people will strive to remain.  Sprawled on the couch in front of the tv.

Not thinking.

 

 

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