Cultural Anarchy

Why is it that so many people claim, usually with considerable passion, “I’m an American!” or “I’m Canadian” or what have you?

To identify yourself by country is to accept the territorial divisions made by people with economic power eager to retain that power.  So why the passion?  Read the rest of this entry »

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Basketball, Gymnastics, Hopscotch, and Double Dutch

The neat thing about television coverage of the Olympics is that women’s events are shown a lot. Often within close temporal proximity to men’s events. Comparison is inevitable. And interesting.

Consider basketball. Men’s basketball isn’t even a sport anymore. The guys are simply too big. Give me a ball small enough to hold upside-down with one hand, and I’ll be doing some pretty fancy dribbling too. Give me a net so low to the ground I can just reach up and touch it, and I’ll slam dunk every time. And give me a court I can cover in five strides, hell, I’ll play a whole game without even breaking into a sweat.

And yet Read the rest of this entry »

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Digital Thought

On/off, yes/no, either/or, in/out, for/against, male/female, win/lose, true/false, right/wrong, black/white, all/nothing, 0/1.

Preachers do it. Lawyers do it.

Why have we become so enamoured with digital thought? What’s the attraction?

It’s precise. Precision is good.

It’s fast. We like that.

It’s easy. We like that even more.

But any educator will tell you that T/F tests are the sparrows of measurement. They can handle knowledge, and maybe comprehension. (Multiple choice tests, the robins, are just one step better. Except for the LSAT, the smartass bluejay, which is designed by demented geniuses who have made a science of turning a curve ball into a triple helix and figured out how to get paid for doing it.)

So digital thought is perfect for this so-called information age. (And surprise, computers do it.) But knowledge and comprehension are the lowest levels on Bloom’s taxonomy of cognitive skills. What about application? Analysis? Synthesis? Evaluation? What, no time for critical thought? Too busy surfing the net to notice you’re in an ocean of shit?

Thing is, digital thought is, well, limited. Most of life isn’t subject to such precision, isn’t true or false, black or white. Ever hear of the false dichotomy? It’s an error in reasoning, it’s when you assume, erroneously, that there are only two possibilities. So it leaves out a lot. (For example, subtlety.)

It encourages extremism. It ignores the richness of a continuum, a spectrum. Between all and nothing is something. Lots of somethings.

And it sets up competition. It has no room for compromise, for combination.

In short, it’s two dimensional. Frogs do it: if it moves, it’s food; if it doesn’t, don’t bother. Are we frogs? Yes/No.

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The Freedom to Shop

In a not so recent, but largely unnoticed decision (Daishowa Inc. v. Friends of Lubicon), the Ontario Divisional Court said that boycotts are illegal when specifically intended to cause economic damage to the boycott target. Isn’t that generally the point? Boycotts allow us to put our money where our mouths are; they allow us to hit a company where it hurts, so it smartens up and changes.

I often choose brands according to Read the rest of this entry »

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Speaking in Code

“I just can’t give any more, sorry.” But of course he can. He just doesn’t want to. By saying “can’t” instead of “won’t”, however, he appears powerless and thus absolves himself of responsibility; as a result, we don’t even consider the matter of blame.

“That’s not gonna happen.” Okay. So informed, we move on. But in most cases, the accurate, honest, statement would have been “I don’t think that’s gonna happen” or “I don’t want that to happen.” By presenting an opinion as fact, the speaker has diverted our attention from evidence and reasons. Why don’t you think that’s going to happen? Why don’t you want that to happen? Read the rest of this entry »

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Every day in every way …

Every day in every way the world is getting better and better.  Yeah right.

Well why isn’t it?  Every day there’s a whole new batch of young adults just chafing at the bit to change the world.  What happens?

They become parents.

So first, Read the rest of this entry »

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A Fun Run

I happened to experience once upon a time to a provocative juxtaposition: I watched the IAAF World Cross Country Championships, with Kenyans in the lead of course, just after I saw the news about a famine in east Africa, in particular, in Kenya.

So it occurred to me that Read the rest of this entry »

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Games for Girls (Seriously? In 2012?)

Okay, so I went to bored.com, clicked on Games, then clicked on Girls.

Mostly because I was irritated that there even was a separate section for Girls (and surprised there wasn’t a separate section for Blacks)—alongside Popular, Animations, Stickman, Shooting, Escape, Puzzle, Action, Skill, Walkthru’s, Mobile, and More. Why do girls need a separate section? Are they not interested in any of the other sections? Are none of the other sections ‘for’ them?

Anyway, so what do I find when I click on the Girls tab? This:

Sugar and Spice and everything Girl! Play celebrity, dress-up, cooking, sports, and puzzle games designed just for little ladies young and old alike! Like to run restaurants? Become a princess? Go on a hot date with the boy of your dreams? It’s all here!

Seriously? In 2012?

I’m a girl, or at least female-bodied, and I have to say I’m very interested in Action. Specifically, Shooting. Failing that, Escape.

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Combining Family and Career

People say that women can’t have, can’t combine, a family and a career, that it’s having family responsibilities that keeps them from advancement – the inability to work late or on weekends, the tendency to need time off to tend to kids…

I’m not so sure.  I’ve never had such competing obligations, and I don’t have a career.  I think the family thing is a red herring.  Women just don’t get hired into career-track jobs nearly as often as men, and when they do, they don’t get advanced.  (And not because their family responsibilities get in the way.)

In fact, it might be an advantage to be a mother, because you’re seen as more adult then, you’re seen as an authority.  Certainly one carries oneself with more authority, I notice that a lot: as soon as someone becomes a parent, the authority they are to their kids spills over, and they start acting like they know everything with everyone, like they have a right to tell everyone what to do.  It’s especially obvious with women because it’s the first time they have, or are seen to have, authority. Women without kids aren’t grown up yet, they aren’t granted any sort of authority, certainly no position of responsibility.  It’s as if becoming a parent proves you can be responsible.

But of course it does no such thing: witness the very many irresponsible parents; indeed, becoming a parent in the first place is, for many, due to irresponsibility.  And, of course, there are many other ways of demonstrating responsibility.

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Trust – the movie

I’m so bloody sick and tired of men who assume center stage is for them.  The way the movie ends, and most of the way it plays out, it’s about the dad, about how he can’t deal with his failure to protect his daughter.

Mom’s not quite so important, apparently, despite her greater empathy with the whole experience: not only is she too beating herself up over her failure as a parent, for, after all, she’s as much the girl’s parent, but also she must surely be saying to herself ‘It could’ve been me — at 13.’

And that’s what the movie’s really about.  The real story, Read the rest of this entry »

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