Apr 19

Twitter

My partner just said, “Twitter is like listening to half of a cell phone conversation on a bus.”

So true. Perhaps we are both too old but neither of us really get Twitter. Guess we never will.

Like many things on the internet, it reminds me of bad implementations of technologies that existed on BBSes in the 80s.

Apr 18

Appropriate

For the most part, I think the spazzing out over “cultural appropriation” is overblown.

Yes, when the harm is immediate and ongoing it can be offensive, such as dumbass hipsters wearing Native American headdresses and such. That is tacky and tasteless, and shows lack of historical knowledge as well.

However, the naïfs who go around screaming “appropriation” probably don’t realize just how much human cultures appropriate from each other all the time, every day, every month, every year since forever.

Most of the words we use, the music we listen to, the clothes we wear, etc., were at one time or another appropriated from another culture. It’s how culture works. Always has. Always will.

The only real difference is that most people lack the historical knowledge to recognize appropriations that occurred more than a few dozen years in the past.

But Americans are a very, very ahistorical people so that is not surprising. In my experience, even the most well-educated American people have almost no knowledge of history at all, and basically zero knowledge in this realm outside of England and perhaps France.

Apr 17

Saw

I saw this on someone’s Tumblr, but anyone who says that words are violence has probably never been punched in the face before. Or the stomach. Or the kidneys.

I have been, and I can tell you that a good hard punch hurts a hell of a lot more than any words.

I know what they are getting at, but it’s just…wrong.

Apr 17

Weight

Just noticed that I’ve been below my goal weight for over four years now.

I was just a little over 200 pounds five years ago. Now I am below 150 still, and will stay that way. That’s over 25% of my body weight lost and kept off for four — going on five — years.

Just because I can do it doesn’t mean you can; I am an outlier in many areas.

I was sure that I could do it, so I did. No lessons for anyone else should be drawn from this.

Apr 17

A rant

I meant to write a rant similar to this months ago about about this bullshit.

I am also just old enough to remember this world, which apparently s.e. smith is not.

Return to the phrase “cheap paperbacks.” This too is critical. The MMPB was meant to be inexpensive and disposable. It was meant to attract impulse buyers. It wasn’t meant to be printed on acid-free archival paper and passed down as an heirloom for generations to come. It was banged out cheaply to be sold cheaply… or pulped if it didn’t sell quickly enough.

These books were not status symbols of the “upper middle class.” They were dirt-cheap popular entertainment for all social classes, and all social classes were tempted by racks of the things nearly every time they entered a retail establishment. Remember that… these days the book aisle at Wal-Mart is a place you seek out on your own initiative. Forty years ago, cheap books were something the store would have tried to sell to you at multiple points, in the places you find now DVDs and candy bars and cut-rate video games. Cheap books WERE the DVDs and cut-rate video games of forty years ago.

Now, grandpa isn’t here to lament that time has moved on, kids. Grandpa likes DVDs and video games quite a bit. Grandpa just wants you to remember that books were targeted for sale to everybody, everywhere, and were not doled out of vaults at country clubs.

Yes. When I was a kid, books were available everywhere, commonly, and very cheaply. Drugstores, convenience stores and many other retail establishments had large and varied book racks. Hard world to imagine, I know, but it did exist.

I remember; I was there.

Now, my family was poor. When I was young, very, very poor. And yet we had hundreds of books. How? Used book stores, trade shops, library discards and similar. My mom somehow even had quite a few books with the front covers ripped off, which I believe were supposed to be returned to the publisher by the retailer.

How she got those, I don’t know.

But the point is that at least post-WWII owning a bunch of books was not some elitist, snobby activity. It was an aspirational and entertainment activity of the lower middle class and the poor as well.

Apr 17

Inc

If the Incredible Hulk and Tinkerbell had a child….

She can clean and jerk 175 pounds (though she’s not in this older video). Amazing.  Even at my most fit in the Army, I could do about 165 pounds consistently in that particular exercise…but then I had at the time about fifty pounds of weight and at least six inches of height on her.

She’s lifting absolutely and especially comparatively a lot, lot more weight than I ever did, or could.

Now I’d be lucky to clean and jerk 50 pounds.

Apr 17

Nearly happened to me

This sort of thing nearly happened to me.

As it turns out, Honda keys — as the long-rumored urban legend goes — really do work on more than one vehicle, or at least Deanna’s did.

I don’t know about Hondas, but Toyota keys used to work on at least some cars of the same make. I know this because sometime back in 1995 when I was in the army, I had a 1989 Toyota Corolla. And so did someone else who parked in the same lot, though I didn’t know that until just a little later.

Here’s what happened.

One day on the weekend I walked out of the barracks to the parking lot and unlocked what I thought was my car. I sat down, put the key in the ignition, pressed down the clutch and started the car. Then I reached over to the gearshift and noticed in the passenger seat and on the floor were strewn all sorts of things I hadn’t left there.

My first thought was that someone broke into my car and put some trash in there, but quickly discarded (heh) that idea as it just didn’t make any sense. So I looked around a bit and realized…this was not my car.

I turned the engine off, hopped out, and found my actual car about three spaces down, behind a large truck that was concealing it from view.

I never figured out who owned the other Corolla. And from then on made sure I was getting into the correct vehicle in that parking lot especially.

Apr 16

Teaching

It’s not really surprising that teachers are being denigrated and devalued.

Like the postal service, public schools and the educators who work for them are an example of a government institution that is visible and works well, so to the conservatives destroying that is paramount to show that “government doesn’t work.”

And teachers are an easy target, as even in academia someone who “just” teaches is seen as far inferior to a researcher who also teaches (usually poorly) on the side.

Apr 15

Fake Geek Girls

Remember this when you hear idiot men moaning about “fake geek girls.”

The first ever novel, The Tale of Genji – which was also, coincidentally, a work of fantasy – was written by Lady Murasaki Shikibu in around the year 1000, and is still being read today. In 1666, Margaret Cavendish published what is arguably the first ever work of science fiction, The Blazing World; but even if you discount her work on the grounds of obscurity, Mary Shelley is still recognised as the mother of modern science fiction for her 1818 publication of Frankenstein, which she wrote at the age of 19. The first ever crimefighting vigilante to go don a mask, a cape and a secret identity was the Scarlet Pimpernel, created by Baroness Emma Orczy in 1905. Women have been creating comic books since the late 1800s; even in the male-dominated Golden and Silver Ages, women like Nina Albright, Ruth Atkinson and Marie Severin were still known quantities. The whole concept of young adult novels – and, indeed, of teenagers as a distinct literary audience – was introduced by Sarah Trimmer in 1802, while the novel most widely held to have prompted the separate categorisation of YA in the modern era was S.E. Hinton’s The Outsiders, published in 1967.

I of course knew that Mary Shelley had written Frankenstein. I read it when I was seven or eight. But I didn’t know that she’d written it when she was 19.

Apr 14

Mate preferences

The only real argument I have with modern feminism is that it is now a mainstream view that male mate preferences are wrong if the male states a preference for thin or fit women, while all female mate preferences are all fine – for instance, that many/most(?) women will not date shorter-than-average men.

I understand it’s reacting to objectification and past historical and currently-happening injustices, but that doesn’t make it right.