Category: Elsewhere

In the overall, Hank was a nice guy. He was also a bit of a “nice guy.” That is, he is a guy who would hover around too-attractive-for-him ladies, befriending them and hoping it would turn into something more. He wasn’t terrible about it, but it was obvious he was doing. It seemed like 75% of his friends were female, and he was playing an odds game hoping just one of them would pan out. Being the nice guy that he was, he knew that if he ever got a hold of any of these girls, he would be able to hold on to them.

Then he hit the jackpot. Susie was a step or two ahead of Hank in the attractiveness department but closer to him than most of his female friends in that regard. If you saw them on the street, you wouldn’t necessarily say “What’s up with that?” Susie found out her boyfriend had been cheating on her. Again. Susie had a history of relationships with not-great guys. They were typically guys a step or two ahead of her in the attractiveness department that she managed to get by being very available for them.

In that sense, Hank and Susie were actually well matched.

Now, I probably give you more information on Hank and Susie’s background, which is not especially important for the political metaphor.

The strangest thing happened after they got together. Hank had been the happiest guy alive and then… well, he flirted with another girl. This one was a step or two up from Susie. He didn’t make a move or anything, and it’s unclear that he would have. But multiple observers said it was inappropriate. Especially the part where he very conspicuously did not tell this girl that he had a girlfriend.

Susie found out and she dumped his ass.

He, for his part, never argued that he had not done anything wrong. he admitted that he had. He had apologized for it. He had promised that it would never ever happen again. Between you and me, I think he meant it. But after he was dumped and it became apparent that he would get no second changes, Hank was mighty pissed off. I mean really, really pissed off. At Susie.

What made him angry was that Susie had given her previous boyfriend Roger like eight chances and she kept taking him back. And Roger didn’t just flirt. Oh no, he did more. Roger did objectively worse at least half of those times. Then, before Roger was Derique. And Derique wouldn’t even agree to exclusivity. So technically he never cheated on her, but it was the same difference when he was making out with several girls while she was at his beck and call. So why the hell does he get dumped after one stupid flirtation? What the holy hell? That was when she decided that he wasn’t dumped for anything he did. He was dumped because she was superficial and really kind of hypocritical when you think about. Roger and Derique were cooler. And that was terribly unfair.

Susie’s point of view, however, was different. Susie may be more attracted to the Roger’s and Derique’s of the world but that’s her right. After much cajoling, she gave Hank a chance with one thing in mind: Reliability. Roger had the car. Derique was on varsity basketball. Everybody had their selling point. Hank’s selling point was that she would never have to worry about him being a dick and going out and flirting with other women. Without that advantage, Hank really didn’t have that much to offer.

Hank strongly disagreed. He could point to all sorts of things like success with video games and his ability to draw. He was smarter than Roger or Derique, too. He had a lot of traits that should matter to Susie.

Whatever, replied Susie, you had your chance and you knew it.

Hank reiterated the unfairness of it all and how he was being held to a higher standard.

If you can figure out the political metaphor, good for you. There’s one that I have in mind, but it actually works in many contexts. If you can’t, that’s okay. If you get bogged down in the details and say that you totally aren’t Hank (or Susie) here, I won’t be able to convince you otherwise. And the world will keep on spinning. Personally, I think the story of Hank and Susie is interesting and kind of important in its own right.


Category: School

National Park Service ends policy encouraging parks to ban plastic water bottle sales (The Hill)

The National Park Service has ended a policy encouraging national parks to end the sale of plastic disposable water bottles that was aimed at reducing pollution and plastic waste.

In a statement, the NPS said they were lifting the policy to “expand hydration options for recreationalists, hikers, and other visitors to national parks.”

“While we will continue to encourage the use of free water bottle filling stations as appropriate, ultimately it should be up to our visitors to decide how best to keep themselves and their families hydrated during a visit to a national park, particularly during hot summer visitation periods,” acting National Park Service director Michael T. Reynolds said in the statement.

I find the arguments against bottled water to be pretty compelling in general, but I think Trump is in the right on this one. Symbolic legislation has its place, but this is the government making bottled water less accessible where it’s most useful. Most bottled water is consumed around the house, where people can really come up with alternate arrangements (such as tap and filter) easily enough. Even those used outside the home are in places where there is a degree of flexibility waiting for the next water fountain. On the other hand, national parks tend to be places where you’re most likely to be concerned with hydration. You don’t want to stand in the way of people and their water because they forgot their bottle.

The policy formulation strikes me as “Bottled water is bad” and “We have control over the national parks” therefore “We should ban bottled water there.” Which is true, true, and false.


Category: Newsroom

I had a dream last night – bear with me, this is not just a post about my “weird dream” – that I was out somewhere and there were these cute baby goats. I kept trying to take a picture of the baby goats with my phone but the camera on my phone just wouldn’t work. I never got a picture of the goats and, in fact, even said to myself “There are no goats. This is a dream.” right before I woke up.

But the goats aren’t the important part. The camera is. As it happens, I’ve been having some difficulty with my camera phone lately. So the problems in the dream were not usual or off-the-wall. But I’ve had this dream before. This is the first time it has involved goats, but my inability to take a picture has become a recurring thing.

I wonder if anyone else has had that happen in a dream. Or more than one. And if so, what that might be tapping into.

Collective dreams are not that uncommon. A lot of people have dreams of losing their teeth, showing up naked, or that class that you’ve never studied for and there is a test. That last one is of particular interest because it is the most situation or society specific. Losing teeth is one of the oldest problems in the history of problems. Being naked goes back to whenever we first started wearing clothes. But school? As a universal thing? In the greater scheme of things, that’s pretty recent. Yet our collective subconscious has adapted it into an exemplar of unpreparadness.

These social dreams are interesting because they don’t appear to be something we get from one another. It’s not that we hear about someone having a dream about X and our subconscious says “Ohhhh, that’s a good way to rag myself over lack of preparedness.” A lot of us have these dreams for really long times before realizing that other people are dreaming them.

Do any of you have dreams involving cameras or other modern inventions malfunctioning?


Category: Bedroom

So far good. In fact, a pretty good looking guy for his age.

So far, still good. In fact, that’s a nice head of hair.

Something went horribly wrong here.


Category: Theater

Once again, I have a somewhat sqishy view of the whole thing. But one that will put me mostly outside of my class’s mainstream. This doesn’t include all of my thoughts on the whole thing, but includes a lot of them.

Pro: First, I don’t really blame Google for firing him. When he sent that out on company channels, they became responsible for it. They’re also dealing with some liability and failing to take action on this hurts them.

Anti: The above and Walter Olson make a fair case that this was partially the result of public policy rather than a strictly silent decision. Not unlike how the Obama administration basically pushed private universities across the country to some rather questionable due process policies for sexual misconduct charges. The federal government’s hands are clean, but they’re not, both at the same time.

Pro: All of this would be an issue if the memo weren’t as troublesome as it is. If it had been presented with more delicacy. If it had been some unearthed private blog instead of through company channels.

Anti: It was through company channels but was apparently not, as initially reported, a memo sent out of the blue or something emailed to everybody. Rather, it was in an internal forum dedicated to discussion of precisely these sorts of issues. Google said they wanted a free discussion. This wasn’t some memo sent out of the blue, it was part of a discussion.

Pro: Okay, but what are we, five? On what basis should he have had any faith that this was ever a free and open discussion? On what basis should he have felt free to speak his mind knowing that there were some really controversial views in there? Knowing that it would be disruptive to the workplace? Knowing that women would likely respond in a way that would make his continued empoloyment there difficult? If he didn’t know these things, he should have. Even if we ignore the fact that the left almost never wants the free and open discussion that it says it does, how did he think this would end? Did he think they would look at his statistics and say “Woah, he’s totally right. Women aren’t getting these great jobs because they don’t want them and they’re not capable.”

Anti: That’s not an accurate summary.

Pro: No, but it’s an obvious one. It’s an oversimplified response to a more nuanced argument… and if something can be summaried that way, it probably will be by someone. And if nobody wants to put nuance back in there, that’s going to be the official interpretation. Then you run into a situation where people can sit back and say “It doesn’t matter how accurate your words are. It doesn’t matter if your argument was too nuanced. People won’t work with you. You’ve got to go. QED.” And they’ll say this and they won’t be wrong.

Anti: That’s really not fair, though. It sets up a “discussion” wherein the first person says it’s all about discrimination and anybopdy responding to that is walking through a minefield. It is almost impossible to imagine a 10-page memo claiming that it’s 100% discrimination and harassment getting this kind of response.

Pro: Yes. This is a common tactic in these discussions – to win arguments by default by declaring illegitimate counterarguments (sexist, racist, etc) and counterarguers (whatever your marker of privilege is removes you from the discussion). And in this case, it works. And it works in large part because the other side blew it by actually being sexist and saying sexist things. Enough connections can be drawn between this memo and things written by people that have said some truly awful things that you’re stuck.

Anti: That’s not fair.

Pro: Maybe, but life seldom is. But it’s also not fair to tell female employees that they have to work with and under the guy and that they’re comfortable with his attitude. If they’re not, that’s a problem for them and that’s a problem for the company. A lot of people are mad at the women that no-showed, but getting employees to band together is difficult and that probably indicates existing problems.

Anti: How responsible is Memo Guy for these problems Why should be pay for Google’s sins?

Pro: He made himself a target when he introduced himself into the discussion.

Anti: The free discussion Google said it wanted.

Pro: He shouldn’t have believed that the discussion needed to include deeply unpopular points of view. His bad. He put himself in front of the Mack Truck.

Anti: But look, what he had to say hasn’t been discredited and the science is on his side.

Pro: At least some of it is. There seem to be some feedback loops going on that we have some control over above and beyond the things pointed out in the memo. Computer science has become more male over time rather than less. Their genes didn’t change, and it’s unlikely their priorities have. So culture has an effect.

Anti: Okay, even if it does, it’s not clear they’re accepting anything other than sexism as an explanation. We are, as Jesse Singal says, making Blank Slate-ism a litmus test.

Pro: Which is unfortunate. But we’d have a better way to gauge where everybody is coming from if the original piece hadn’t been as sweeping in the other direction.

Anti: What if the solution are those things you condemn, like stripping computer science of its cultural markers (Star Trek posters in the workplace, etc) and taking the freak flag down?

Pro: Well, screw that. But just because some people are too cavalier about what we can do doesn’t mean we can’t do anything.

Anti: That seems kind of weak.

Pro: Yeah, it kind of is, but no less weak than “This is just the way there is and there’s nothing we can do.”

Anti: So we’re okay with him being fired?

Pro: Yeah, I think so. He doesn’t belong on any blacklists and the list of people who should also be fired should have zero or few names on it, but it’s hard to see any other conclusion, even if it reveals some unflatting things about the conversation we’re supposed to be having.


Category: Office

Utah is lying.

Louisiana is being very honest.

Washington state is being pretentious.

New Hampshire hates God?!

If you’re Casey Affleck, you have to have mixed feelings about ChesapeakeDelaware.


Category: Elsewhere

You may be aware of the Disney movie Frozen. Lain hasn’t seen it yet, though she has an Ilsa doll that she got as a gift. But there was another movie by the name that came out a few years before.

It’s a very, very different movie.

The acting was okay. I only recognized one of the actors as the kid partner from The Following.

Not Disney’s Frozen is about three friends who get stuck on a sky lift. Nobody is going to be back for five days and if they don’t do something about it, they’re going to freeze to death. It’s an independent filmmaker’s dream of a plot, because for filming all you need to do is rent out a ski area when it’s not being used and that’s all you have to do for location expenses! All of the drama takes place right there.

The downside to that plot is that it’s hard to fill 90 minutes with it. They aren’t stuck until they’re about 30 minutes in. Some of the stretches of the movie are pretty slow. It’s one of those movies to watch while you’re doing something else.

Don’t watch it right before bed, though, because it is really really dark. I will share with you only one spoiler to give you an idea of how dark. One of the characters, after breaking his legs jumping off the ski lift, is eaten alive by wolves while the others look away. And the kicker? His fate isn’t the worst of the three.

The jumping character made the mistake of holding his legs out straight. Anyone who has ever watched movies knows that’s not what you do. It turns out that I was wrong about what you do do, though. I thought you’d be best just jumping in a ball, but you’re supposed to have bent legs that take some of the pressure as you fall. Lesson learned!

Anyway, I neither recommend the movie nor tell you to stay away from it. You can watch it for free (with ads) on TubiTV. It’s a good background movie, but only if you’re in the mood for something dark.


Category: Theater

A new CDC report could reignite the debate over Hollywood’s influence on teen tobacco use

The drop in the percentage of youth-oriented films featuring tobacco use, as well as the dramatic decline in tobacco occurrences in G and PG films, is positive. Still, tobacco impressions within films geared toward teens and young adults hasn’t improved since 2010. If it had, the CDC reports that all youth-rated films would have been completely smoke-free by 2015. Instead, “the average number of tobacco incidents increased 55 percent in youth-rated movies with any tobacco depiction,” a result of five of Hollywood’s six major movie companies — all of which have corporate tobacco depiction policies — featuring more tobacco use.

The answer to the issue lies with where, how much, and what type of tobacco is being used in cinema. In short, fewer movies are featuring not just more smoking but more kinds of tobacco use. That concentrated increase is once again raising concerns about the relationship between tobacco’s presence in media and an increased likelihood of picking up the habit.

To clarify: Smoking in youth-oriented movies is down, it’s especially down in movies aimed at younger audiences where people are most impressionable, and of course smoking rates among the young are down. They really, really need something to be alarmed about.

Smoking rates are down and have been doing down a while. Smokers are going broke paying ever-increasing taxes on cigarettes. Most people hate smoking, and smokers. More smokers than not hate smoking and themselves for their havit. Can public health at some point just declare victory and go home?


Category: Newsroom

When Will Wonder Woman Be a Fat, Femme Woman of Color? (Ms Magazine)

Why couldn’t Wonder Woman be a woman of color? When it was announced that Gadot would play Wonder Woman, audiences went wild body shaming her for not having large enough breasts. One can only imagine the white supremacy that would have emerged had the announcement said instead that she would be played by a Black woman. On Paradise Island, there are Black warriors in addition to white ones, which is a good start, but other women of color are missing. Also, while the female warriors are strong and ass-kicking, they all have tall, thin body types and they all could be models on a runway. In fact, in a pivotal battle scene, Wonder Woman struts across the battlefield as if on a catwalk. As a result, their physical strength plays second fiddle to their beauty, upholding the notion that in order to access power women must be beautiful in a traditional way. Especially with the body positivity movement gaining steam, the film could have spotlighted female warriors with fat, thick and short body types. While people have said that warriors can’t be fat, some of our best paid male athletes are, particularly linebackers on the football field, and no one doubts their physical strength.

Another problem is that the story’s overt queerness gets sublimated by heteronormativity. Diana comes from a separatist commune of women who have intentionally chosen to live without men. In one of the first scenes between Diana and Steve, she explains that she read 12 volumes of a series on sex that concluded that while men are required for reproduction, when it comes to female pleasure, they’re unnecessary. While a love story develops between them, a requirement in superhero stories, Diana thankfully doesn’t compromise her integrity for him.

The Sham Psychology of Wonder Woman The beauties of the soul and body do not correspond. (American Conservative)

It doesn’t help that Diana is a beautiful woman. The film never shows the realism of what great beauty can inflict on a person: the deathblows to maturity that are attention, flattery, and unearned affection, and the self-complacency and mistrust of others that can follow. Just as she is unaware of her superpowers, Diana is unaware of her womanly powers. She attempts to undress in public, oblivious to the effect it might have on those watching. She doesn’t understand the concept of partner dancing, complaining that it’s “just swaying.” When she tries it for herself she remarks, with the sterility of a doctor, that the bodies of men and women are very close in this kind of dance.

Not that I can say too much. I have myself complained about female cop characters (and some males) looking more like underwear models than police officers. In Batman vs Superman, Gadot doesn’t really fall into that category, though. And while I do wish Hollywood would be less myopic when it comes to standards of beauty, Wonder Woman is Wonder Woman, and the Amazonians are Amazonians, and it’s built in to the concept that I would not choose to die on that particular hill.


Category: Theater

Please ignore anything below this, there is experimentation in progress

Espresso


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Queenland

Greetings from Stonebridge a fictitious city in a fictitious state located in a tri-state area in the interior Mid-Atlantic region. We're in western Queenland, which is really a state unto itself, and not to be confused with Queensland in Australia.

Nothing written on this site should be taken as strictly true, though if the author were making it all up rest assured the main character and his life would be a lot less unremarkable.


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