Friday, September 30, 2011

"A classic example of what we already knew."

Apparently CERN broke the speed of light, although it is contested. What was the response? Well, of course they broke the speed of light, it should be obvious from souls and cosmic healing and time travel!

This is an extreme example of what I wish to discuss. I am thinking more of "Cultural garbage our own fault" by Dylan Wilks in the Sept 21 2011 version of the Nexus. A new study has been done, Dylan reports, which shows that watching badly written TV shows is bad for children. Instead of explaining the study in detail so that others can have an opinion he quickly remarks "although the empirical evidence may be new, it's actually just a classic example of garbage in, garbage out." Now this could just be bad writing but it isn't only writing. I encounter it in speech as well. Whenever an interesting study comes out people remark 'but of course the Siberians have known that for centuries. Firstly, I'm not Siberian, secondly that isn't the point of testing a scientific hypothesis!

Science is not straight forward. We make big mistakes. We no longer lobotomise crazy people, but we used to. I think it is a darn good thing we realised it was a bad idea, even when people thought that it was. The trouble is this: Whenever a scientific study confirms an opinion of one of these people, they don't get excited and say 'look, now I have scientific justification for believing this, isn't that exciting?' instead they say, 'I already knew that so the scientists must be stupid.' But what about all those things that don't agree with their opinions? Those are just ignored, forgotten, or mocked as the 'evils of modern science.'

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Woman home-makers

I struggle sometimes to be open-minded. There are those still in this world who want a heterosexual marriage with gender roles clearly marked. The man works, the woman stays home and looks after the children and the house. The 50s style suburb but without the Cold War playing on the radio. Now that I am educated and able to defend my ideas I rarely make vitriolic statements against things I disagree with, and rarely even believe those things. Instead I make good arguments for my own side and point out flaws in the other. I do not call someone who wants to be a 50s style house wife a sheep and I no longer think her one either. But this is one area where some of those harsh judgements still remain, and I struggle against them.

I was homeschooled. I am an advocate of homeschooling. I learned how to tell stories, and do art, I learned about plants in the forest and really nothing useful at all. Once I could read, however, I would take a subject I was interested in outside of school and find all the books on it. I loved learning. I think home schooling did that for me. It also gave me a chance to mature in a protected environment so when I finally faced the world my beliefs on right and wrong stood strong. Day Care, to me, is cruel. Children are not supposed to cry all the time. They do at Day Care. What are we thinking putting all these hardly human creatures together in a room and telling them to share? I learned to share by being given too much and realising that I wanted those around me to have some too. Scarcity and obedience do not teach a sharing spirit, they teach greed and secretiveness. Looking after your own children instead of paying someone else to do it seems quite sensible in this respect, although not always possible.

The world is really not that nice a place. If a couple can afford to have someone stay home, that might be a good thing, especially if the person who stays home happens to be extremely shy, sensitive, have some mental disorder that makes dealing with the external world every single day difficult. As a consensual act between two adults having someone to stay at home is not unethical and sometimes desirable.

This is my defense for the bread winner / home maker model. Note that it does not assume women ought to stay at home, but that there isn't anything wrong with one member of a partnership keeping charge of the house well the other works. This assumption is built on my positive experiences as a homeschooler and my observations of friends who had parents contribute positively to their up bringing. I still find it difficult to understand the woman willing to, from how I see it, give up her freedom. But would we still calling it giving up freedom if both members of the relationshio were women? No. So why is it patriarchy if one of them is a man? I'm not saying it isn't. Maybe that is something we still need to work on as a society.

I have a trouble, however, with those who defend a women's right to stay at home. Not the right of a person to become a homemaker, but the right of a woman to look after her family because it is her natural role. It is appropriate to defend women who wish to be home makers. They need defending. They get flack for their choice and should not. The trouble is that you have no right to tell me my natural role, and all those who do not fit into your little box. I am not abnormal for my choices. I am not abnormal because I do not wish to have children.

It makes no sense. These people deal with criticism all the time. People think they are weak or dumb or abnormal for their choice. They should know better then to turn around and try to force others into the same role in which they themselves are suffering.

"If suddenly the majority of women decided to pull out of the workplace, it would cause economy to undergo quite a shake, but eventually, we might all be better off. " How should young women prepare for their future? from Domestic Felicity by Anna T.

We would not be better off. We as women would certainly not. I personally would be a very upset philosophy student running around asking why no one wants a female scholar. Then I would probably change my name legally and try to pass in order to get a job. Thus would begin a repressive and tyrannical society! It would not be better. It would be better if those who desired to stay at home were encouraged instead of discouraged. That is what would be better. This is the trouble with apologists for woman homemakers: They take it too far. They take their arguments beyond what is acceptable, beyond simply defense, and make claims that are meant to apply to everyone, thus encouraging alienation of a different group instead of solving the problem.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Tea cups made of bones

At a yard sale today my partner bought a belt. I bought a tea cup made out of bones. It does not matter if it was more valuable, because I am unlikely to give it up. There were other tea cups and saucers. I chose this one because the one with pretty blue flowers cost five dollars. It is paragon fine china and cost three dollars.

The British, wanting to make porcelain cups and dishes at home instead of paying for chinese porcelain, ground bones to mix with the local clay. Bones made the clay whiter. In China porcelain was made from a white clay fired at extremely high temperatures. Genuine porcelain glows just a little, is just a little bit translucent.

I am starting to learn that this is the way with history: Tea cups are made of bones. It is so very much the way of the British empire. To say 'yes, these people did great things; yes, it is beautiful, it was heroic, it is amazing' but look again. Look at the bones. We cannot praise the past, but I long to. The sun never set on the British Empire, and it was grand. But the imperialistic policies were used to subjegate the peoples of North America, and I live on land which they stole. In some places the land was fought for. Here we signed a treaty with the local people, and then built on the land which the treaty gave them.

I am a skeptic now. I doubt Plato, who thought that beauty, goodness, and justice were unalterably linked. But every time I find a thing of beauty I also find that other thing, like my tea cup made of bones. I think it adds to the beauty, but it's a good thing I'm not vegan.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Violence in Victoria

I thought of this in terms of violence in modern North America or contemporary society, but unlike most of my posts it is an observation based on, well, actual observation. Hence I will limit my claim. BC, Canada, is a violent place. Victoria, BC is a violent place. A convenient limitation as I can include some of my own pictures this time. The pictures included here were taken last year, around sunset. I don't bike in the downtown core. I wouldn't lock my bike down there. As a female, I should be down town at night because I could be a target for rape. My male friends also find it dangerous to go downtown because fit, healthy males are the target of people who simply want to fight someone. They are targets because they can look after themselves. I over hear things about the clubs downtown, about underage drinking, fights, and people being beaten by the cops.

Why is this of interest? Because it is Victoria, BC. Victoria is a tourist town, and the capital of the provincial government. It is kind of fake, a tourists trap. It is without a doubt a beautiful little city. It is a little city. Vancouver is big, dangerous, a real big city like you read about in books. Victoria is the most European city in BC. It isn't a bad place. Isn't it strange that there is so much danger?

My second interest is the Vancouver hockey riot. It happened. Set cars on fire, fought, looted, mob mentality type stuff. In Vancouver. Canada is supposed to be a peaceful, up right sort of place.

These things got my thinking. I started to wonder if there was something wrong in our world. Everything seems calm and peaceful and yet famous people are murdered in the middle of downtown Vancouver. How is this an okay place to live? Shouldn't I be concerned?

It reminded me of lyrics from the song "Slipping" in Doctor Horrible's Sing along Blog --a brilliant superhero/supervillain musical by Joss Whedon if you have not encountered it before.

"I bring you pain,
the kind you can't suffer quietly.
Fire up your brain
remind you inside your rioting
society is slipping.
Everything's slipping away..."

It does seem, from what I see around me, that society is slipping. And yet, I don't want to associate with the villain of the piece. I do not want to have those views. I do not want to see society in that way. I must see it differently because I cannot afford to think that this is the end. People have always thought that, but we aren't in the middle ages anymore, there is no definite end. Therefore I can ask, is it really slipping?

No. There has always been violence. Cities have always been dangerous places. Paris is a beautiful city, a night city, and you should not go into the alleys. That would be stupid. It was the same in the 1800s as today. Things are actually under control. The riots occured one day, and the next day people apologised and went back to business as usual. We may have robbery downtown but we do not have a curfew and you are really rather unlikely to be shot by an enemy of any sort when walking downtown. Of course it isn't okay, and we have a long way to go before it will be, but I can still consider Victoria a sleepy tourist town even with the violence.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

The slippery slope

In 1927 the Pope claimed that cigarettes would lead to "the deterioration and destruction of a Christian society and civilization."1 Today we claim it will lead to the deterioration and destruction of your lungs, but that isn't the point. The point is I think the Pope was right. I mean, I am sure it is a collection of factors which have led to a greater freedom of religion and a acceptance of a secular way of life, but all those things put together, they were right! Those people who said that allowing women the vote would lead them to be less womanly were right. I'm certainly not womanly. That might be because standards have changed: I would probably fit better in a world where womanly did not require quite so much make-up. I certainly would not fit well in a world where educated females were considered odd and out of place. I feel like no one comments on this, and I often wonder about it, because often these peoples slippery slopes seem ridiculous, but are actually correct. It doesn't need to turn out this way but in the end it does. The trouble is we cannot see it like that, because what we have now is a good thing. Maybe talking about it is dangerous. We can say 'oh, don't be silly, gay marriage will not destabilize gender norms.' It might be true that it won't, but the trouble is there are lots of people who support gay marriage because it does exactly that. It makes husband/wife a little less clear, a little less the only way to be and we think that's a good thing. It's strange, because their fears seem so ridiculous but are in the end valid. Maybe in the end what is ridiculous is that people feared those things.

1("The Pope's Appeal to Men to Reform Women's Dress," Literary Digest 72 (January 29, 1927): 27-28, 57-59.)

Monday, July 4, 2011

My last year of university

My last year of University begins in September. I feel that I have put it off long enough.

I spent the first two years living at home and moved out in third year. Part way through third year I realised that if I wanted to cook myself proper meals and remember all the classes I was taking I would have to take less classes. I can do 15 hours of class a week, but 9-12 hours I actually remember and enjoy. I loved learning, so why was I 'suffering through' it? So four and half years became six. Six years is a long time. I feel ready to be done now. Five would have been enough I think, but this way I can be awake for my final year. It certainly feels like a finally year. I will be graduating next June with a double major with honours in Philosophy and History. I wish my mother was alive to be proud of me; I will have to be especially proud myself to compensate.

It makes me queasy.

I am afraid without a constant affirmation of my ideals I will not remember what I believe in, that I will forget to be a good person and to pursue the things that I am passionate about, that I will stop writing and stop learning. I am afraid that I will become cynical and sour. I am old enough now to encounter those dreadful people who believe that they live in the 'real world.' I will say more on this real world of theirs later. Needless to say it is not the real world, but a very particular place. Everyone who lives in this place becomes obnoxious and narrow minded. This is because this reality of theirs is a very long but very narrow place and they must all squeeze past each other all the time. No one ever stands still and everyone becomes tired and overheated because it is unventilated and stuffy in this place. I do not want to go to this place. Growing up I was not interested in humans, except those who were my friends, and I would really rather not enter Sartre's hell if I can avoid it.

I am afraid also because I fear change. I fear what I do not know. It is a grand adventure but it is also frightening. I am happier to finish university then I was to finish highschool, but it still frightens me. Another town, different friends, a new life. These things scare me. What if I do not meet anyone? What if I do not pay the hydro bill and a collection agency hunts me down and drags me off to a laboratory somewhere in the underground of Toronto where they mainly do experiments on rats but sometimes on humans too? I wouldn't put it past the current mayor.

I am also the sort who likes ritual and sybolism. I am writing this because I need a last year of school. It needs to be something that I remember. I have already finished my philosophy degree. After this summer I have seven more courses to take and then I am done my history degree as well. I will audit some philosophy classes, but I will miss my friends and the group of philosophy students that I spent so much time with last year won't really be there this year. My roommates will, however.

I had a friend who I miss very much now. It makes me wish I graduated in four years because she had this special talent for making everything special and important. I need it to be special and important, because I am that sort of person. I will have to try hard to do it for myself. I will probably write more throughout the year.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Dante's Inferno Test

I took this test a few years ago. I expected I would be much more sinful now, since I have been a student for a few years and do terrible things like have sex with people who have different last names then I do. Apparently not.

The Dante's Inferno Test has sent you to the First Level of Hell - Limbo!

First Level of Hell - Limbo

Charon ushers you across the river Acheron, and you find yourself upon the brink of grief's abysmal valley. You are in Limbo, a place of sorrow without torment. You encounter a seven-walled castle, and within those walls you find rolling fresh meadows illuminated by the light of reason, whereabout many shades dwell. These are the virtuous pagans, the great philosophers and authors, unbaptised children, and others unfit to enter the kingdom of heaven. You share company with Caesar, Homer, Virgil, Socrates, and Aristotle. There is no punishment here, and the atmosphere is peaceful, yet sad.

Here is how you matched up against all the levels:
Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Very High
Level 2 (Lustful)Moderate
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Very Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Very Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Low
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Low
Level 7 (Violent)Low
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Low

Take the Dante Inferno Hell Test

What better place for a philosophy student? Why would I ever want to go to heaven when I can meet Aristotle instead? And Socrates too. We could corrupt the youth together!