Monday, December 7, 2009
Monday, November 2, 2009
In case you missed the multiple smack-downs posted by some awesome science bloggers, here's some background: Amy Wallace writes an article on how anti-vaccination loons (henceforth called antivaccaloons) are creating panic out of thin air and ignorance. J.B. Handley does his usual job of throwing shit at anyone criticizing him and takes it one step further by emailing Wallace some pretty fucked-up shit. Here have it straight from the horse's (or rather horse fucker's*) mouth:
Warning: discussion of rape and date-rape drugs
I often write and then re-write pieces. When I first wrote the piece about Ms. Wallace's Wired article, which I wrote right after reading that horrible piece of shit, here is how it began:
Paul Offit Rapes (intellectually) Amy Wallace and Wired Magazine
By J.B. Handley
"The roofie cocktails at Paul Offit’s house must be damn good, I really don’t know how else to explain the intellectual rape that lead to the writing and printing of Wired magazine’s cover story on vaccines and autism that you can now read HERE..."
I was so amazed with the article. As a student of Paul Offit's talking points for years, it was as if he had put his brain inside Ms. Wallace head and written the piece for her. As is often the case, I forwarded my essay, via email in advance, to Ms. Wallace the night before it ran.
In his defense he didn't end up running the article, but then again in his defense this was his defense:
With some reflection, I decided that although "intellectual rape", a relatively commonly used term, and "sexual rape" were very different things, the use of the word "rape" was ultimately in poor taste, would distract from the article, and would most certainly offend some readers, and could appear demeaning of women, which wasn't remotely the intention of the piece or my words. So, I changed the article to the one you all have read, and then AoA ran it the next day. And, I sent Ms. Wallace, via email, the new piece.
Because you know using rape as a metaphor for what you perceive to be shoddy scholarship has absolutely nothing to do with "sexual rape". It's just that that word that's the problem, not that fact that you're trivializing a very real and horrific experience so you can insult someone -- yeah fucking right.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
I decided to take a seminar class on dev-bio for the following reasons: the topic is pretty damn interesting, I really liked my dev-bio and evo-devo classes last year, and the profs teaching the course are the most engaging instructors I have had at university. What I had failed to take into account was that class content would be highly determined by the students enrolled and that some student would have managed to get through three years of a biology degree believing in Intelligent Design. Apparently, this was a huge oversight.
It didn't help that the person presenting decided to spring this on us as a wild change of topic. He started off doing a pretty good overview of some aspects of sex determination in mammals and how one model of this was creating. After about an hour of this he finished and put up a slide about how the stuff we learn in class and in the labs should effect the way we view the world. My immediate thought was: "Awesome, we're going to talk about sex/gender/intersex people/etc!" Oh, how wrong I was. The segue wasn't for that; it was for a slide with the words intelligent design plastered all over.
*Sigh* What followed that was an entirely uncomfortable 45 minutes.
He started off with an exercise involving us pretending we knew nothing about several objects and trying to intuitively place them in either designed, natural, probably designed. I, of course, decided to object because if I don't know anything about these object I can make no judgement about their origins. It's also pretty damn hard to pretend you know nothing about a lion or a pyramid. As you can guess, this was all about making us go "complexity = design" because obviously our "cognitive biases = reality".
This was all to prime us for the magic that is -- wait for it -- Kirk fucking Durston. Was it rude to giggle at that point?
My problem right now is that I need to give this guy a mark (wee! for peer marking), but I have nod idea how to go about that. Do I give him a good mark because he did a good job presenting the science-y bits? Do I give him a terrible mark because he used the science-y bits to legitimize wasting my time on inane, drivel? Is it right to give him a zero because, while he can parrot biology he seems to have not learned the core of the subject?
Monday, October 12, 2009
I know it's comedy, but can we please do funny without icky ideas of gender and stereotyping of gay men? Gay jokes aren't funny. The old "personal grooming and style isn't for men, it's for teh laydeez and the gays" routine isn't funny. It's offensive and it makes me go sadface.
Sunday, October 4, 2009
So, that week didn't go as well as I'd hoped, but tomorrow I'm back in the lab and it's a new week. I have some idea over where I could have gone wrong so maybe my failures will be more minor.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
General updates on life:
- I spend more than the course recommended amount of time working in the lab on my fourth-year project. I'm currently in the lab honeymoon phase where I'm convinced my supervisor is awesome (even if she intimidates me), the research I'll be doing is pretty cool, and the grad student teaching me is not a controlling asshat who thinks I'm an idiot. Now I just wait until everyone realizes that I'm an incompetent idiot.
- I've had a quick intro to neuroscience in three of my classes which is almost all repeat of stuff I've already learned (in one class I've even gotten the same lecture I had two years ago by the same prof). At this point, I think I may be learning more about the various ways to give this lecture and the different things you can emphasize.
- The only non-physiology course I'm taking this term is with the two awesomest professors I've had at UofT. I took a course run by them last year and it freaking blew my mind. Since I'm sure someone will make a wrong assumption on the subject, it's a science course.
- I've got a lot of events to help setup as club exec and circumstances keep conspiring to give us even more stuff to do. I'll also, hopefully, be volunteering at the Centre for Women and Trans People. Yeah for non-class stuff to keep me busy!
- The last two days have been crappy emotionally. Everything external to how I feel is pretty good, but my reactions to stuff are completely inadequate. Anytime I'm not mentally occupied I start feeling panic-y, like I'm about to screw something up.
- If I could have any superpower, I'd want to be able to stop time while I nap/sleep...
Friday, September 11, 2009
"if someone has been masturbating before for the past six years and he stop it. is it possible for the person to recover all the lost sperms"
Does anyone else wish to answer this reader's question with something more articulate than "WTF?!?!?!"?
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
- Stop wasting so much money on meaningless trinkets. Yes they're shiny and I'm a magpie pie, but I should try.
- Get into grad school
- Stop eating skeezy candy from the bulk store during exam periods
- Read more than 2 works of original fiction
- Finish building my RX-0 Unicorn Gundam before the anime is released.
- Learn some awesome things from my fourth-year project course
- Come up with awesome pie ideas that don't end up looking like chocolate soup in a pie crust
- Keep on track with reading for my classes
- Kick ass at life...
- ... so I can buy a pet unicorn. A gal can dream, right?
So for all of you who still think the year starts in September, what do you want to achieve and/or change about your life in the 2009/2010 year?
Friday, September 4, 2009
It's really all quite fascinating to remember the days before UofT got to work on destroying my spirit. Hopefully the new student will have just as great a time as I had and the best of luck in realizing there's more options than medicine.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I haven't read the book, and based on several reviews I doubt I'll be reading this, so this is not a review or critique of the actual book. For all I know the quotes may be out of context and the context given by the articles may be skewed, but having seen these same things said and written by others I've decided to address them as they are.
"I believe that all of us, even those who are atheists, seek God - or at the very least not one of us would be unhappy if God appeared and told us that the universe was actually His creation," Richards writes in God Is.
And I believe this is where I say Richards is wrong because he is. Unless he's decided that the many atheists saying "no, I'm not interested in this whole God business" are not part of "all of us", he's wrong. I don't "seek God", whatever that means, and in the unlikely situation that there is a God I doubt I would be pleased. Maybe I'm alone in thinking this, but the idea of an all-mighty creator watching over me is as annoying as my mother sitting behind and watching as I surf the internet.
But that part of the quote is just usual feel-good nonsense from the religious, it's not really that offensive and ignorant. This is:
Oh, we might put him on trial for making it so hard, and get angry at Him, too, but we would be very happy that He is here. Well, He is.
I'm so insanely tired of religious people regurgitating the idea that atheist are just angry at God for making things hard. I'm guessing this partly originates from the fact that many atheists rightly use the problem of evil to demonstrate that some conceptions of God are self-contradictory. However, some dimwits seem to hear this as atheists being upset at God for their shitty lot in life. These dimwits are wrong and made of fail. I'm not going to claim that it's impossible to be upset by something that doesn't exist because I've been upset by fictional characters before. Hell, reading parts of the Bible make me pretty disgusted with the God character. That is, however, very different from actually acknowledging that a particular character exists. The anger I feel toward fictional characters is also different from anger at actual people and actual atrocities. [snark] But what can you expect from people who have a hard time telling fiction from reality[/snark].
Note the word in bold below, it's important:
Richards uses incidents from his own life to underscore his belief that God is present in everyday life.
Others might call them coincidences or luck, like the day when he was a child and he was run over by a car. All four wheels missed him leaving him unhurt.
He also rolled a car end over end in his younger years driving at a 175 kilometres per hour and survived. In that case, his forgetfulness in not buckling up probably saved his life..."There are things that happen in life which seem to be absolutely ordained for us," he says during an interview.
Seriously, can we stop selectively picking seemingly unlikely good things a giving God and/or that ritual goat sacrifice credit? I know we're wired to see patterns everywhere and that when we've decided on a conclusion it's easy to ignore contradicting evidence, but is it that hard to think up examples where we see patterns that don't exist? Also, why is it that when these examples are brought up it's always the good things being used as evidence for God's plan? Sure there are the times when someone will console themselves after a tragedy by saying that God has a plan, but there's always that undertone of tragedy being turned into a good thing.
Apparently, Richards also brings up Stalin and uses him as an example of what happens when you accept atheism. Because, you know, only atheists become a tyrannical, paranoid megalomaniac bent on killing millions of people. It's not like there have ever been any Catholics who've committed atrocities, right? But that's not the point. It's not about whether people of X religious beliefs have done worse or better things. Using Stalin in this manner is like taking a sociopathic murderer as an example of what being human will lead to. It's a dumb argument.
Richards also repeats the tired old refrain of religion is special and those mean atheist are well mean and disrespectful:
Richards staunchly defends "a person's right to believe," which he considers sacrosanct to a person's humanity.
The glib comments of non-believers strike him as sanctimonious.
Really, that's one great straw atheist being built there. I'm loving the implication that atheists want a world were people don't have a right to believe whatever they wish. I've never seen that implied before and atheists have never ever said flat out that that's not what they want.
But then again I have dealt with this all my life in my work, the idea that hubris and self-righteousness promotes sins against others. It's the one thing humanity continually tries to overcome and that they overcome it by recognizing in themselves and others a universal truth and that if this is denied as Harris and Dawkins and Hitchens kind of mock it
*Yawn* So now we're back to the whole "atheists can't be moral" schtick because we don't see the "universal truth". It's not like being moral is related to the way our brains work. Empathy and all those wacky feeling things our brains do don't contribute to how we treat others. And hell, social constructs aren't as meaningful as TEH TRUTH because we can all decide tomorrow that killing everyone we want is okay, even if we don't actually do that. Who cares if there is no evidence that seeing TEH TRUTH makes you a better person.
"The church has done enormous harm in the world but that doesn't mean that everyone who practises religion has done enormous harm," he says.
If he means the Catholic Church, a correction should be made: The church is doing enormous harm in the world but that doesn't mean that everyone who practises religion has done enormous harm. Now I agree. What he's missing is that the many good religious people give money and time which supports the church in its endeavour to fuck over the world.
The Islamic fundamentalists have done harm but that doesn't mean Islam has done harm ... these things get very confused in our society. They get confused because there's a benefit to those who want to confuse these things. I know many Catholics who are tremendous people and who have never done wrong.
Yes, the old argument the X religious extremists are bad, but that doesn't mean that X religion is bad. Yeah, sure, the only thing that counts as X religion is that stuff that you picked out that's made of fluff and cotton candy. Of course, this works only if you ignore the fact that the religious extremists are using the same texts and general frameworks and just picking out different parts to justify their actions. You can't justify your cherry-picking any better than they can. Live with it.
The only time man pretends he does not need God is when he thinks or she thinks they are themselves God or are in a position of such comfort that God cannot trouble or touch them. Once the man or woman finds himself or herself in deep trouble or despair, they search for what was always there.
Now we're back were we've started. Yes, tell me again, Mr. Richards, how you know what I believe better than I do. And while you're at it why don't you also tell me that I pretend to believe what I say I believe because I'm arrogant and think highly of myself. It's not like assuming you know know better than me isn't arrogant. You're not a hypocrite at all. And no, the sentiment of "no atheists is foxholes" isn't trite and stupid. All atheists have completely perfect lives filled with unicorn farts and lollipops. That's why they don't believe in God. If only they had shittier lives so they can see TEH TRUTH.
Conclusion: I. just. sadfja[pkl. Why are some people so full of fractal wrongness?
Monday, August 10, 2009
I'm beginning to suspect that there are actually shape-shifting lizard-people among us and they are EVERYWHERE!!1!!!!1!!!Eleventy!!! How else do you explain these "people" who like this kind of heat.
Friday, July 24, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
P.S. You can now bother me by email anytime, if you are so inclined.
P.P.S. No, this does not mean I will start twittering about how I'm taking a crap (another word not in their dictionary).
P.P.P.S. "Fuck" doesn't exist either. Fuck!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
- The Land of Oz - L. Frank Baum
- Metamorphoses - Ovid
- The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat - Oliver Sacks
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
- Dune - Frank Herbert
- The Demon Haunted World - Carl Sagan
- The Unbearable Lightness of Being - Milan Kundera
- The Myth of Sysiphus - Albert Camus
- The Plague - Albert Camus
- The Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
- The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
- The Silmarillion - JRR Tolkien
- Alice's Adventures In Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
- Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo - Plato
- The Tombs of Atuan - Ursula K. Le Guin
UPDATE: There were never any typos and spelling mistakes here. NEVER. YOU WILL FORGET ABOUT EVER SEEING ANYTHING OF THAT SORT.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
These two posts seem to be a reply to yesterday's post. One of them is a PSA informing me that:
If you take off your panties and get into bed with a man, he will conclude that you want to have sex with him. Counterintuitive, I know, but there ya go.
So, anytime a woman not wearing a chastity belt gets in bed with a man she can expect to wake up with his penis in her vagina? Seriously, this has not been the experience of my friends and me.
Two heterosexual people of the opposite sex have been known to sleep in the same bed, sometimes even nude, and not end up having sex. Really it's not magic; it's simply two people agreeing that since one, or both, of them isn't interested in sex tonight that there won't be sex. Unless, of course, you believe that a man's penis completely takes over his brain whenever he see a great pair of tits and ass. (...this, by the way, is from the same mind that concludes women are irrational.)
In a reply to Hex*, MCW brings up many a man's objection to the confusing signals modern women send to men [/sarcasm]:
So if a woman took off her panties, got into your bed and rubbed up against you, meanwhile breathing, "No," into your ear, you claim that wouldn't be a mixed signal? I pity the women who actually want to sleep with you; what do they have to do, put it on a billboard?
Actually, all it really takes is the woman saying "Yes, I want to have sex" and the man feeling sure of her sincerity. Seriously, asking and waiting until she clearly states that she want to have sex isn't difficult. I know it'll completely ruin people's romanticized version of hot, rough sex filled with violence, but frankly I don't care for it unless there's clear consent and a safeword involved.
*He now has his own blog. GO. READ. He's a better writer than I am.
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I wouldn't have bothered clicking— the words "Female Misogynist" are so rarely a good sign— but the half-sentence blurb included a referece to Isis the Scientist, so I was curious. I clicked; I read; I facepalmed. Then I went over to Learn Hexadecimal's house and shared the horror. When he learned that comments on that blog are moderated, he acquiesced to co-write this post with me, which is why this post contains words like "acquiesced".
Warning: Discussion of rape
Things that are wrong with the linked article: where do we start? The title certainly isn't promising. Why feminists claim rape has no connection to sex. It's always nice to analyze people who disagree with you in the aggregate, so that there's no possibility that the object of your musings will come along and say "Actually, you're wrong. That's not what I was thinking at all."
Dear "Male Chauvinist Woman", on behalf of feminists everywhere: actually, you're wrong. That's not what we were thinking at all. And your name distresses the hell out of me.
That issue aside, the title is also more than a little disingenuous. When feminists argue that rape isn't about sex, that's not to say there's no connection between the two concepts. There obviously is, it's ridiculous to assert that there isn't, and nobody is making any such assertion.
The assertion we are making is that sex is not the point of rape. We are trying to get rid of the stubborn myth that somewhere out there are hundreds, thousands, millions of men who just cannot control their own penises. It should be just as disingenuous to explain this idea; it should be just as disingenuous to say that we're battling the falsehood that says rapists are drawn to attractive women by a magnetism so strong that it makes them temporarily forget how to masturbate.
It should be, but it isn't, because there are people who actually think this.
Lately I've been seeing a lot of feminists (Isis the Scientist is one example, the Errant Wife is another) shrilly insisting that women should be able to wear provocative clothing without having men ogle them, or that women whoring around will not inspire violence.
If that ain't a problematic opening paragraph, I don't know what is. "Shrilly"? What is the purpose of this word? What are you trying to accomplish with it, Male Chauvinist Woman? According to every dictionary Google has found me, it means high-pitched. This is the Internet, ma'am; there is no pitch. Unless, of course, you live in a world where all feminists speak (and, apparently, type) in squeaky little chipmunk voices, because if you don't like someone's message, they were obviously saying it wrong.
I don't like your message, but I have so far resisted the temptation to do a dramatic reading of your post in the style of Foamy the Squirrel. Please extend us the same courtesy.
As near as Marbles and I can figure, this is what the esteemed Dr. Isis sounds like when she is being "shrill". We're not really seeing the Foamy here.
Moving right along: apparently, MCW has figured out why we're making these "extraordinary claims". But before she tells us the nature of her epiphany, she's going to talk about a book she read. An "awesome" book.
One point he makes is that men will do pretty much anything else you can imagine for sex, why wouldn't they use force?
...I'm beginning to doubt the awesomeness of this book. Men will do pretty much anything you can imagine for sex? Will we really? I sense the Myth of the Uncontrollable PenisTM approaching. Let me tell you, penises are not uncontrollable. Anyone here ever been really, really hungry? Skipped a few too many meals and then all of a sudden discovered your stomach still existed after all, and it wasn't happy with your neglectful habits? Did you immediately go out and assault the first person you saw who happened to be carrying a delicious sandwich? The same principle applies.
There are exceptions. I slightly know a fat, homely, middle-aged woman who was raped last year. The culprit has apparently raped other women of similarly low attractiveness. Why does he target this type of woman? I have no idea. This guy is the exception, though. Most rapists target fertile women.
Lots and lots of things are wrong with this paragraph, but I'd like to draw attention to the word fertile, because it is the one that bewilders me most. Have some statistics: in 2007, over half (58%) of sexual assault victims were under the age of 18, with children under 12 accounting for 25%. Does that sound fertile to you? Didn't think so.
There's a digression here about "deranged liberal egalitarianism", but Marbles tells me we're not touching that.
Then, at last, MCW's theory of feminist reasoning is revealed.
Feminists need to separate sex from rape because that's the only way they can defend women's "right" to sashay around in provocative clothing, including late at night in bad neighborhoods.
Scare quotes around the word "right". Did I just see that? I did, didn't I.
Yes, Male Chauvinist Woman. You're right. Feminists believe that in an ideal world, we would all be able to sashay (seriously?) around in whatever the fuck clothing we felt like, in whatever the fuck neighbourhoods we pleased. We also believe that in reality, which is very much not ideal, a woman who chooses to thusly sashay is not responsible for the actions of anyone who chooses to assault her while she's at it. And unlike you, we actually believe this.
Does a woman who does that deserve to get raped? Absolutely not. Is it a high probability that she will be? Yes, it is.
An analogy: suppose that when I go into the grocery store, I leave my wallet, with fifty-dollar bills sticking out of it, on the seat of my car. Do I deserve to have that wallet stolen? Of course not. Would anybody be at all surprised or sympathetic if someone did steal it? Of course not.
Basically, feminists want women relieved of all responsibility.
So what you're saying is that you don't believe women are responsible for their rape, you just... believe that women are responsible for their rape. And apparently that your hypothetical self is responsible for having her hypothetical wallet hypothetically stolen, and apparently that a woman's bodily autonomy is worth n*50 dollars of your hypothetical money, where n is an integer greater than one and less than the number of bills that can plausibly be stuffed into a single wallet. I don't think that analogy means what you think it means.
Rape is not theft.
They tell women they have a "right" to do foolhardy things, then insist that there's no connection between, say, provocative clothing and rape. Does a woman have a "right" to wear a miniskirt and halter top? Of course she does. Does such attire make her more likely to be raped if she's not careful where she goes and with whom? Of course it does.
This myth is even worse than the Uncontrollable PenisTM. The Uncontrollable PenisTM is risible, that is, you can laugh at it. It's funny. The underlying principle implied by the words "and with whom" here is not funny at all.
71.9% of rapes are committed by a non-stranger. That includes roughly 7% relatives, 27% friends, and 26% casual acquaintances; the numbers given at the link don't quite line up straight, but I'm not going to argue with the US Department of Justice's statistics.
71.9%. Seven out of ten.
It doesn't matter how careful you are. It doesn't matter how modestly you dress, or how early you draw your self-imposed curfew, or how thoroughly you restrict which neighbourhoods you walk in. There is no magic formula that will protect you, because— and I cannot express how much it pains me to have to spell this out— the victim does not choose to make rape happen. The attacker does. And seven times out of ten, they choose to attack someone they already know.
I wish I could say that the fail in this post stopped here, but alas. Much like a used diaper dropped from a height, it just keeps accelerating until you reach splat. In this case, right now, splat is merely a smudge on the horizon.
Anyway, I remember a couple of articles they published about rape. In one, a woman related that a man she had been "dating casually" showed up at her apartment unannounced. He started kissing her. She says she was "too frightened" to stop him or protest, even though she admitted that he didn't threaten her in any way. She lay passively letting him have his way with her. Afterwards, he said, "That would've been better if you had, you know, got into it." She finished, "It was years before I realized that it was RAPE! Sex to any unwilling partner is rape!" Well, how the hell was he supposed to know she was unwilling? Feminists had at that point spent years telling the world that women wanted to have active sex lives just like men!
Active sex lives... passively letting him have his way with her...
Another article: after a date, a woman invited the man into her apartment. While she was pouring some wine, he came up behind her and started kissing her. She said something like, "Don't, I'll spill the wine." He said, "Let it spill," and embraced her. She submitted without any further protest. She too took years to decide that this was rape.
While Googling around for things to link to, we ran across a phrase that summarized this problem perfectly: non-dissent. Not dissenting isn't the same thing as assenting.
"How the hell was he supposed to know she was unwilling?" Here's a novel idea: he could ask. And if he can't get a clear answer, or if he has reason to doubt her sincerity, he could not have sex. There is no problem of the form "but how could he be sure he wasn't raping her?" that is not solved by these two basic principles: (1) communicate openly, and (2) when in doubt, don't fuck.
Oh, but it gets better. And by better, I mean worse.
Yet another, hauntingly remniscent of the Mike Tyson case, though this guy was far more guilty than Mike: a co-ed spent the night in bed with her college boyfriend. She was wearing a short nightgown and no underwear. She had told him repeatedly that she wasn't going to have sex with him. Before they went to sleep, he kept moving his hands up her thighs and she kept telling him to stop. Then she went to sleep. She woke up when he penetrated her. She screamed. He kept on. Now, I suppose this one does qualify as rape, but this woman was behaving with incredible stupidity. (Thankfully, one letter to the editor did point this out.) He behaved wrongly, but really. What was this woman thinking? Did she really think that she could spend the night in bed with a man who had made it clear that he wanted to have sex with her, wearing a shortie nightgown, and still be a virgin in the morning? See, all those hidebound rules about how nice girls behave around boys - i.e., not spending the night in bed with them without any underwear on - was to protect stupid bimbos, and the hapless males they date, from exactly this sort of thing. I doubt this young man believed he was committing rape. She was sending out extremely mixed signals, and he was a college-age male flush with hormones.
That paragraph is a bit of a beast, so I'm just going to pick out the relevant parts:
She had told him repeatedly that she wasn't going to have sex with him. Before they went to sleep, he kept moving his hands up her thighs and she kept telling him to stop. Then she went to sleep. She woke up when he penetrated her. She screamed. He kept on.
I doubt this young man believed he was committing rape. She was sending out extremely mixed signals, and he was a college-age male flush with hormones.
Splat. Ladies and gentlemen, the diaper has hit the pavement.
Like the title of this post says, "no" is not a mixed signal. "I'm not going to have sex with you" is not a mixed signal. Screaming is not a mixed goddamn signal. As Marbles puts it, anyone who ignores all three should have his penis permit revoked. When in doubt, don't fuck. It's not that difficult.
(By the way, it case it wasn't extraordinarily obvious already: any uses of first-person pronouns past the second paragraph should be taken to mean that I, Hex, am talking out of my hexagonal ass. Where Marbles has input, I use "we" or her name.)
Monday, June 15, 2009
Sunday, June 14, 2009
But don't expect cookies or admiration from us because this isn't about being a great guy, it's about doing the decent thing.
*While we're at it go click through the blogs donating as part of the Silence is the Enemy
**There's an crossposted version here
Saturday, June 6, 2009
...Or may be not.
I was going to write something completely different this week, but reading comments on We Remember Love got me thinking about the topic of AI stories and Sharon Apple in particular.
I actually don’t favor ‘cautionary tales’ as the cases of Macross Plus and Macross Frontier
suggest. When the AI of Sharon Apple becomes too human, or when Grace O’Connor becomes too powerful via her ‘on-line’ existence and her robotic bodies — bad things happen. But these are cases where these characters are more plot devices rather than explorations so I’m not that bothered.
The "cautionary tale" plot about an robot/computer/etc. becoming too human or too intelligent or too powerful leading to "bad things" is modern-day mythology. It's the type of story we tell over and over again. From the Terminator movies to half the sci-fi books ever published we see it used. This is such a prevalent yet simple myth that it can be used for various purposes. Sometimes you get explorations of what it means to be human when intelligence can come in non-biological forms (as is the case with the Puppetmaster in Ghost in the Shell) and sometimes it serves as a plot device for a compltely unrelated message (Grace O'Connor's wacky plans in Macross Frontier). The former are interesting because of what AI brings to the table; the latter could work with almost anything replacing AI. It's a fine plot, but too often it's used as lazy writing by simply using the formula of "sentient robots = bad things" without explaining why that's the case.
So what about Sharon Apple? Well -- I have to say, I disagree with ghostlightining's interpretation. I don't see her as as simply a plot device. It's just not as simple as that, especially not in the context of the Macross universe.
Music and love are the leitmotifs of the Macross universe. You can't have a Macross series without singing. You can't have a Macross series where love and romantic triangles aren't a major plot point. And in almost all cases the singing reminds the us, and the various warring factions, of love and through that understanding. We've given culture back to the Zentradi through Minmay's songs, we've made entire islands bloom with life through song, we've even made space whales listen to our song.
Sharon Apple takes on these characteristics and twists them into something ugly. There's really very little to her aside from her being a singer and feeling love. She was made to do that, just that. And normally in Macross, love plus singing would be enough to save the world. However, Sharon is different because she's not human. She might feel emotion, but she doesn't act like any normal human being (If you think she does, I believe you might want to get your sociopathic ass checked). Despite her feeling love and pain and sadness, she's missing something essentially human, something that prevents her from going through the usual "song + love = understanding".
What I believe Sharon's missing is the ability to understand others--a theory of mind and empathy. Sure she can understand other people's simple desires, like Isamu's desire for a thrill, but she's not very good at the complex stuff. She simplifies Myung's complex feelings toward Isamu and Guld into "I love Isamu a bit more, so who cares about Guld". To Sharon this is a simple matter because she doesn't seem to take anyone's feelings into account; to the human Myung this decision is nearly impossible because she knows that whichever way she chooses someone will get hurt (including her). And her fulfillment of Isamu's "desires" hardly taking his actual feelings into account. He clearly doesn't want his thrill in the way she presents it, but she doesn't care.
In the Macross world, where we've always been told that singing about love will bring about understanding between groups, a singer with the kind of power Sharon has (her song is drugs) not having the ability to understand others is more meaningful than a simple plot point. In a world where love songs are an effective weapon, we need to remember that empathy and understanding are also important. Sharon Apple, the AI that knows only personal emotions, is here to remind us of that.
I'll leave you with my favourite scene from Macross Plus, while I go into a Sudafed and flu induced coma:
Friday, June 5, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
Ignoring this is not an option, which is why Sheril Kirshenbaum writes the following:
Today begins a very important initiative called Silence Is The Enemy to help a generation of young women half a world away.Why? Because they are our sisters and children–the victims of sexual abuse who don’t have the means to ask for help. We have power in our words and influence. Along with our audience, we’re able to speak for them. I’m asking all of you–bloggers, writers, teachers, and concerned citizens–to use whatever platform you have to call for an end to the rape and abuse of women and girls in Liberia and around the world.
In regions where fighting has formally ended, rape continues to be used as a weapon. As Nicholas Kristof recently wrote from West Africa, ‘it has been easier to get men to relinquish their guns than their sense of sexual entitlement.’ The war has shattered norms, training some men to think that ‘when they want sex, they need simply to overpower a girl.’ An International Rescue Committee survey suggests 12 percent of girls aged 17 and under acknowledged having been sexually abused in some way over the previous 18 months. Further, of the 275 new sexual violence cases treated Jan-April by Doctors Without Borders, 28 percent involve children aged 4 or younger, and 33 percent involve children aged 5 through 12. That’s 61% age 12 or under. We read about their plight and see the figures, but it’s so easy to feel helpless to act in isolation. But these are not statistics, they are girls. Together we can do more. Mass rape persists because of inertia so let’s create momentum.
The movement began a couple weeks ago after I was feeling particularly outraged after reading Kristof’s terrific NYTimes piece. I wondered aloud to Isis how we might draw attention to the mass rape taking place across the globe. Very soon we began coordinating a blogospheric awareness campaign to say 1) this is happening 2) it’s completely monstrous, and 3) we want change. But acknowledgment isn’t enough–people have to be motivated to care and act. We want folks thinking about these girls beyond a single morning they read a few coordinated posts.
If you haven't already read her post go do so NOW. And while you're at it browse through the following blogs who are donating their June profits (based on site hits) to Doctors Without Borders:
- The Intersection
- On Becoming A Laboratory And Domestic Goddess
- The Questionable Authority
- Adventure In Ethics And Science
If you have the means you can donate to Doctors Without Borders and if you have the time write to your MP or just blog about it.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
The problem with a lot of mecha anime is what they do to the female characters. Since they are written about boys/men for boys/men, the women often end up being entirely defined by their relationships with men. For example, Lalah Sune isn't important as a person because all that matters is her impact on Char and Amuro. Even worse is the tendency to make a female character's entire inner life about romance or supporting her man (See: Ranka Lee. Everything I do or don't do depends on how things are going with Alto).
The can sometimes become very frustrating to me as a woman watching these shows. Which is why I tend to fall in love with the few shows that do it right. One of these shows is Bubblegum Crisis. I can't remember what made me love the show as a 14-year-old, it could have been the gritty cyberpunk setting or simply because rampaging robots are awesome, but I know that I keep coming back to the show years after because I get to see women who are as fully human as any cartoon character can be kicking ass. Priss, Linna, Sylvia, and Nene aren't the cute girls sitting on the sidelines cheering their men. In fact, there is no romance for the lead characters. They kick ass. They have their own life, interests, and day jobs. They aren't just there because the guys need a romantic interest or attention and I love them for it.
Oh, who am I kidding. The really important part of Bubblegum Crisis is the cheestastic 80s music:
P.S. If you are remotely interested in anime, check out We Remember Love. I've spend a good part of my day reading the archives of this blog and at this point I gotta say it's my favourite animeblog.
Friday, May 29, 2009
Last weekend, I went to a convention and, let me tell you, there is nothing like a large group of overly enthusiastic fans to get you excited about something again. So over the past week, I've caught up on some of the decent shows airing (Sora Kake Girl, Eden of the East, Shangri-La, and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood). I've also made a list of older shows that I want to see again or that I really ought to have seen by now.
As you can imagine, this eats up my time. Mostly it chomps into the time I would spend on another activity I enjoy: playing on the blagosphere. As a compromise, I've decided that I'm probably going to start blogging the anime I watch. This doesn't mean I'm turning into an animeblog mostly because I could never manage to stick to just one topic.
Right now I'm watching the first episode of my favouritest anime ever and I'll probably post something on it Saturday afternoon. Until then you can enjoy this:
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Saturday, May 16, 2009
As awesome a writer as I am (not), I have friends who are much more eloquent and coincidentally one of them is Learn Hexadecimal who posted a comment in another discussion about just this topic, so I asked him if I could repost it.
Speech is action.
Let me be more specific: every word that is on this page right now is a contribution to the social and cultural gestalt of humanity. Every person who has read these words, or read some of them, or skimmed them, or heard somebody talk about them once, has been affected by them. Maybe a little, maybe a lot. But to dismiss a conversation like this, to unroll a banner emblazoned "Talk Is Cheap" and prance away towards far-off charity websites, is to elide a very important aspect of what it is to be human: that we can communicate, and that our communication can affect others and allow us to be affected by them in turn when they communicate back to us.
I don't think anyone here actually forgot that fact. It would be kind of difficult. But I never want to hear "virtual virtue" derided as meaningless. It isn't. It can't be. Virtual virtue, Internet virtue, is the exercise of virtue in communication. Such exercise is crucial to all other aspects of what it means to be human and humane and good. How can we be virtuous if we never learn what virtue means? How can we be virtuous if we never teach that meaning to others-- never discuss it-- never remark on its presence or absence in the stories that shape our minds?
Lois Bujold/110, you tell us talk is cheap, and then you demonstrate that it isn't. You tell us that we tipped you over from intention to action; you tell us that this conversation, this dialogue we're having right here, had a material effect on your material contributions to one or more causes.
You're right: holding admirable opinions and doing nothing is indistinguishable from holding execrable opinions and doing nothing. Because if we hold admirable opinions and keep them locked inside our skulls, nobody will ever know about them. But if we hold admirable opinions and talk about them, and defend them in the court of public discourse whose standards of due process you so diligently uphold, we can change other people's minds. Such a powerful phrase, when you think about it: to change someone's mind. That is action. That is admirable.
Lois Bujold/121 , I see more of the same. Your stance on falsehood and the provability of motivations, while interesting, isn't my primary concern at the moment.
Consider this: you ask us to rule our statements in the court of public discourse by the measure of due process, and by that, you mean we ought to read a book before discussing why we don't like it. Why can't we ask Patricia Wrede to rule her statements in the public discourse of fiction-- and fiction is a discourse; vast, slow, indirect, but a discourse all the same-- by the measure of virtuous speech?
And by that, I mean that you are engaging in exactly the task which you imply is cheap and easy and not enough for you. Here we are, expressing our dislike for yet another erasure in yet another place of a people who are erased too often already; here you are, expressing your dislike for yet another case in yet another comment thread where people talk a book down without ever having picked up a copy. It must in some sense be a worthwhile task to you, or you wouldn't be doing it.
Yes, monetary donations to charitable organizations often have a more concrete, or at least more measurable, impact on issues than words on the Internet. But somebody still has to say those words. Somebody has to say "no, this is wrong, this story has problems", because if nobody ever does, then the people who write those stories will never realize that they could be doing it better.
You are, if I'm to believe the name attached to your comments, a writer of stories. Realize that you could be doing it better. Realize that everyone you know who also writes stories could be doing it better. In other words, what Stella Omega/133 said.
Fiction_Theory/131, you made a good point extremely well. I'm now in the middle of reading the blog post you linked in the course of introducing that point, and it is a work of further excellence. I encourage anyone whose eyes are passing over these words right now to go and read both of the above; you will be improved thereby.
The context to the post, in case you are wondering (and I hope you are), is a massive FAIL on the part of author Patricia Wrede. Last week, a review of Patricia Wrede's new book Thirteenth Child was posted and immediatedly is spawned a lot of discussion due to its premise. You see, she wanted to write an American settlement story with MAMMOTHS and other megafauna. That sounds kind of cool and may have made a good book if she had not decided that to do this she had to write Native Americans out of her book's history. Erasing a group that has been a victim of genocide and who has been marginizalized in US and Canadian history is wrong, unacceptable, and wrong. People rightfully got on her ass and on the asses of all the vapid jackasses defending her or attempting to derail the conversation. Naraht has complied a few links on the topic.
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I know you're teaching a joint course with psychology and therefore you need to touch upon the biology involved in language, but please don't repeat the lecture you gave this week EVER AGAIN. You were clearly clueless about neurobiology and your attempts to explain concepts you didn't get had me cringing and rolling my eyes.
That neuroscience student making faces at the back of your class
P.S. The part on the biology of the vocal apparatus and phonology was pretty cool and well done. Videos of flapping vocal folds are awesome.
Monday, May 11, 2009
As for Mondays, they will be the worst day ever for the next month or so. I can deal with having to wake up at 6 AM to get to work and I can deal with a 6 to 8 PM evening class, but I don't want to deal with both on the same day. Especially not when I have a 5 hour gap between the two. I am convinced that if previous experience hasn't convinced me that Mondays were invented by the devil, this schedule would.
Today was particularily bad because I'm been a massive ball of nervous energy and nausea. I also got attacked by wild books leaping from atop my bookshelf and they were fucking heavy and OUCHmotherfuckingOUCH. The only redeeming part of today was spending two hours with the bestest person on the planet.
P.S. If this sounds disjointed as fuck and pointless, that because my brain is not exactly coherent.
* Damn, I just watched that and i'm already feeling better.
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Friday, May 1, 2009
I'm afraid of being seen as an "attention whore". It's hard to escape that insecurity when the most widespread image of a person who self-injures is the angsty teenager using mental illness cutting as a way of rebelling, getting their parent's attention, and/or garnering sympathy from their peers. While this image is dishonest and dismissive, it's not what really fucks me over and makes me insecure with how I'm judged when I talk about self-injury. What fucks me over is when it's used to create a distinction between "real" and "fake" self-injury.
You see, there are fake self-injurers (whatever that actually means) who use self-injury to manipulate people for sympathy points when there is really nothing wrong with them (lets ignore that that cutting/burning/hitting yourself for attention indicates that something is probably not right). These people flaunt it (by which we mean talk about it at all) and should be ignored or laughed at (see various jokes at self-injurer's expense). There are of course "real" self-injury. These are people with serious mental illness and serious problems because there's got to be something really, really wrong with you if you purposely injure yourself. More importantly, these "real" self-injurers don't ever talk about it because they are too ashamed
I know this is all complete bullshit. I know that what other people, especially ignorant idiots, think shouldn't matter. But having that as a the main discussion and characterization of self-injury during those formative teenage years makes it hard not to develop anxiety about this judgement even when I know better.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
You know, if you'd have told me that twitter is a great way to observe mass hysteria I would have joined without second thoughts. I loves me some mass hysteria (Why do you think I still have an LJ account? They do mass hysteria better than anyone else).
P.S. ERV has an interesting post on ketotifen fumerate, an allergy med that works both as an anti-histamine and a mast cell stabalizer. I might have to bother my doctor about it, preferably before I claw my eyes out. Dying of allergies. Please rescue.
Monday, April 20, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
- Or I've caught the Dr. Isis bug.
Reading Dr. Isis' "Shoe of the Week" posts has made me realize that I am severely lacking in hot shoes. Luckily I got abandoned downtown today (long story involving a dead cellphone and various levels of miscommunication) and spend a good two hours at payless hunting until I found these adorable heels. I'm still severely tempted to buy the navy and white version of the brown pumps, I just have to come up with a reason why I would need them.
I also met up with a really good friend from high school who is still one of the funniest and nicest guys I have ever know. sh
Sunday, April 12, 2009
*I'd be lying if I said I really minded that.
What the fuck guys? How is Stephen Fry's autobigraphy or a guidebook for LGBT college-bound students or one of the many banned books that have mentions of non-vanilla-heterosexual sex or love adult? Jesus Christ, first the "same-sex marriage will destroy America"-video and now this bullshit, is this like prudish homophobe week or something?
LostMarbles: Amazon needs to have one of the giant vibrators they sell firmly shoved up their asses...with no lubricant
Pyth: until then, we can shove googlebombs up their ass instead
So here goes. Amazon Rank and the hilariously written context.
[HT: Stupid Free Drama]
Thursday, April 9, 2009
Here's a nifty table of what I have so far (If anyone out there has opinions please express them, they need not be based on anything):
Principles and concepts of cell biology are covered including the structure, molecular organization and dynamic interactions of cells with each other and the extracellular matrix during cell migration & cell adhesion. The role of cytoskeletal components and cell surface receptors in these processes and in membrane traffic will be addressed.
Biophysics and molecular biology of ion channels. Topics include equivalent circuits for cells, molecular structure of voltage-gated channels, distribution of channels, relationship between single-channel and whole-cell recording and regulation of channel function by voltage, phosphorylation, G-proteins and metabolites.
A variety of questions relating to signal transduction are investigated. How is calcium regulated in the cell and how does calcium regulate cell function? How are extracellular signals received and transmitted by intracellular proteins to control cellular proliferation and differentiation? What signalling pathways are triggered by insulin?
Exocytosis and other aspects of secretion mainly in neurons and neuroendocrine cells, but also in pancreatic cells. Topics include synapse anatomy and physiology, synaptic plasma membrane and vesicle proteins, membrane fusion, genetic tools, endocrine secretion, plasticity in neurotransmitter release, diseases arising from secretion defects.
Seminars analyzing the major problems in developmental biology from cellular, genetic and molecular perspectives.
Students will choose a major issue in contemporary Developmental Biology and critically analyze present and future prospects in that field.
Introduction to systems neuroscience. A review of basic neuroanatomy and physiology followed by in-depth study of selected sensory and motor systems. Students with an elementary neuroscience background progress to reading neuroscience literature on their own.
Overview of the fundamentals of cellular and molecular aspects of brain function. Course material is updated yearly to reflect the rapid evolution of ideas in Neuroscience.
Wednesday, April 8, 2009
Anyone who has an aversion to discussion of feminine hygiene can skip this post.
This month I managed to quit tampons and pad. No I haven't gone into very, very early menopause or decided that free bleeding is a great idea. What I did was finally give into my curiosity of menstrual cups. I'm sure you're all intelligent enough to pick up on the environmental benefits and supposedly there are health benefits (via reduced chances of TSS). Whatever, the real thing the convinced me was the idea that I wouldn't have to be running to the bathroom every 4-6 hours to change products.
I bought my Diva Cup a couple of weeks before my period to do a "dry run". This was an interesting experience in alternating anxiety and relief:
- Remembering the good old days on LJ, I find a community dedicated to menstrual cups where I read up on how to put the goddamn thing up my vagina. Apparently there are about 50 million ways to fold the thing so it fits in. and apparently everyone has a favourite.
- After trying a couple of folds, I'm not getting them to open up in my vagina (anxiety, maybe I suck at this or my vagina is sentient being all of its own that dislikes my environmentally friendly menstrual product).
- Success! I felt it "pop" open and twisted it around to confirm (relief).
- Next comes the removal and a fuck-tonne of anxiety. HOW THE FUCK DO YOU GET THE FUCKER OUT?!?!?! The thing is now basically suctioned to my vaginal walls and doesn't want to let go. FUCK!
- Okay I just need to calm down. If worse comes to worst, and I need to get it removed at least I didn't stick something embarrassing up there like a pickle or a dildo on a power tool.
- After waiting 30 minutes, I manged to relax and make another attempt to rescue the silicone cup from the jaws of my rabid sexual plumbing. It is successful and I can now relax until my next attempt to repeat steps 1 through 6.
Having now also tried it while on my periods, I'm fucking sold. Even on my heaviest day, I manged to go 12 hours between changes and aside from the incident where I dropped a cupful on my bathroom floor (if I ever need to stage a miniature massacre, I now know what to do) I had no leaks - a huge change from the usual.
Comment moderation is a hassle and I don't want to do it. It also disrupts the conversation since sometimes I can go offline for hours or days. I'd like to keep my door open to anyone: anons, pseudonyms, and even those crazy people that use a real name. I'd also like that discussions continue whether I'm here or not. What I don't like is people coming and shitting on my carpet. Since I can lock them out with comment moderation, I damn well will when I have to. I'll try to avoid ever doing it, but if I see trolls, people completely derailing conversations, or paranoid-delusional wackos coming to rant about the SciBlog hivemind I will turn on comment moderation because I like my carpets clean dammit. This will be temporary until the idiot I'm trying to rid myself of is gone.
As for actually not publishing posts or deleting them - well, that's something I feel really uncomfortable with. I won't delete comments once they've been published no matter how dumb, trolltastic, or useless they may be. I will, however, keep comments that contribute nothing to the discussion and don't pertain to anything said in the post or other comments from being posted by using comment moderation. This will only happen if I even deem it necessary to turn on moderation again. Hell, I'm even loose with that. I'll let through blatant trolls and other undesirables if they're not repetitive and are entertaining enough because I love laughing at you.
I think this pretty much matches what I did in the post linked above. None of the posts by YouKnowWho and their various aliases have been deleted after they were posted. I only kept one comment from being published because it contributed nothing but a "you're lame" and would have futher derailed shit.
To make it clear I will NOT delete comments for disagreeing with me unless they contain absolutely no content. I'm open to arguing and discussing something pertaining to my post even if you disagree. I'm not open to trolling, raving about a blog-conspiracy, or any obsessive loons using my comments to continue a tirade about other bloggers. To continue my analogy, you can come in smelling as if you've been rolling in garbage or Chanel No. 5 (read:vile) and I won't be happy, but you don't get kicked until you start shitting on my carpets because I like my carpets clean dammit.