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burning like matchsticks in the face of the darkness
 
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Monday, August 23rd, 2004

Time Event
10:41a
10:44a
fannish
musefool talks about POV here. Interesting. I know i’ve written stuff in first and second person before, but i think i’ve only ever written fanfic from third person (limited) omniscient.

dorrie6 has been thinking about "what writers like in their own work as opposed to what their readers respond to" and asked for people to tell her which stories of their own they love (5 at most). It was interesting to go back through the stuff i’ve finished enough to post. [Oh and for the record, i don’t know which stuff of mine i like best. Some of the ficathon stuff i was proud of myself for managing to write the requested pairing. Some stuff i was impressed that i had actually managed to write a lot of plot/dialogue, not just sex. Other stuff i felt i really nailed a particular character’s voice and was proud of myself for that. And then there’s stuff where i just really enjoyed the pairing i was writing.]

A recent discussion with lilithchilde reminded me of how we had once talked about how i’ve written lots of smut but have difficulty writing actual plot and she was surprised because she said that for most people, sex is what they have trouble writing. My perspective is that sex is basically a limited number of options in terms of body part interactions, and then you tailor that to the particular characters involved. But actually coming up with things for people to talk about, situations for them to interact in, that kind of stuff involves actual thought and creativity. One can argue about how easy it is to write sex that really feels organic to the characters, sex that doesn’t suffer from Any Two People syndrome, etc., but i think in general, it’s easier to write sex than to write plot. But that’s just me. I’m really curious to hear other people’s thoughts on this.

Sisabet & dawn and made: "Country Cavalcade (or How We Learned Premiere) -- This vid is a medley of Goodbye Earl, Family Tradition, and Pink Houses." "Goodbye Earl" (the first 2 minutes of the video) is brilliant (and they even avoided using the vid bit that always makes me wince!). Oh, the rest of it is good, too. 3:13-end is all about Xander, whom i’m not madly in love with, but as always the vidders do a great job of matching words to images.
10:45a
update
Saturday, Ginny and my grandmother took me to lunch at Piccadilly Pub. Ginny mentioned PP first, but was insistent that i could pick whatever place i wanted, like Old Country Buffet or whatever. Now, i’ve been to OCB plenty of times and i know there’s plenty i can eat, it doesn’t feel special. And i’d never been to PP, so i thought i’d try it out. It’s definitely not made for me (menu-wise), but i got the pasta with eggplant and it was yummy.

The now-dead Westwood Free Church donated their electric organ to us, so we’re getting rid of the pipe organ that a member of this congregation donated years ago. This may be what finally causes Ginny to leave the church. My grandmother still won’t leave, though. She’s just too attached, despite how much she dislikes so much of what has happened

She and Ginny were greeting on Sunday, and i said i might go to church since it would be nice to see people before i go back to school (i haven’t gone since like June). Grandma agreed, saying the services weren’t worth going for but that was really beside the point. Um yeah, grandma. Church is a wholly social occasion. *sighs* Though to be fair, as far as United is concerned, it has always been a social thing for me. I almost never get anything out of it in terms in terms of religion/spirituality/theology. This may or may not be why i think of spiritual quests as something between you, your god, and a large library. Church has always been about a group of people who will support you or whatever, and maybe about reminding yourself that you really do believe in all this stuff, but actual questing? totally individual research (introspection and reading books and conversing with people, the last of which does not at all have to be conducted within any sort of church setting).

I think i’m currently feeling bitter, and snobbish, about this and other things. It occurred to me that despite my obsessiveness re: certain television shows, i mostly look down on the whole thing and am like, “Sheesh, don’t you people have anything better to spend your time on [than watching television]?”

Anyway, i went to church on Sunday.

During the Children’s Message, Tim talked about how it isn’t nice to complain to your parents (“I don’t wanna eat this,” “I don’t wanna go there,” etc.) and thusly how it isn’t good to complain to God. Example: Numbers 21:4-9 -- the Israelites are out in the desert and they start complaining, so God sends poisonous snakes. (The resolution to this is weird, ‘cause they repent -- duh -- and ask Moses to pray for them -- i suppose this is the Old Testament God who turns a deaf ear to those who have turned away from him -- and God says “Make a bronze snake on a pole, and anyone who looks at it will be healed.” Um, okay. And then Tim paralleled this to Jesus put up on a cross and all who look upon him, i.e. believe in him, are saved.) I was really troubled that Tim was saying “Don’t complain to God.” Yes, you shouldn’t always be complaining, and often you should be trusting, but you can’t have a close relationship with anyone if you can’t tell hir about the bad things, and come on, God’s Chosen People were forever arguing with him. Wrestling with the Torah is a holy Jewish tradition. Jesus tried to say No to God. I wanted to discuss with Tim after the service, but of course he is always talking to umpteen people.

My mom came home with my Pooh newly bodysuited. (I got him as an early first birthday present, so almost all of his fluff had worn off and the plastic mesh keeping his stuffing in had begun to tear quite frequently, so i picked out a yellow fabric at JoAnn Fabrics and while my mother was relaxing at her in-laws, she made it into a new skin for him.)

And i gave her Harry and the Potters to listen to before i return it, and she opened up the CD player and lo, I Bificus. I realized that i had been inflicting it upon Allie when she visited and in all the shuffle i must never have taken it out of the stereo and by the time i was looking it for to make a mix for her i totally forgot about that. So now i have both the American and Canadian versions of the CD. *shrugs*

We went to the Venice for dinner ‘cause George never did get his birthday dinner and Daddy wasn’t back from his bike ride yet (it was 7:45 when we left; we saw him putting his bike away when we returned around 9) and we wanted real food. I got pasta primavera alfredo. It was yum.

I am now drowning in replies to my grad program queries.

One of the grad students i e-mailed at UC Davis wrote:

Hi there Elizabeth,

I am glad to learn of your interest in our program. I think what you are
doing could be a very good match. Please feel free to give me a call this
coming week. I would be happy to talk with you about my sense of the
prgram and to hear about your work. Also, I will be in Boston for a
couple/few days around the 30th of this month if you're around and would
like to talk in person.

I replied to the helpful UPenn Renaissance girl, and her reply [in part]:

Good luck with applying, and I hope you do end up
visiting Penn as a prospective student in the spring. Incidentally, one of
my dearest friends went to Smith, before going to Harvard to do a Ph.D. in
English (also Renaissance- we met in a colloquium at the Folger Shakespeare
Library).

The reply that made me die of teh squee, though, was from a Rochester prof. Her "Transforming Flesh: Wargs, Werewolves, Witches and Other Shifting Creatures" course reminded me particularly of the werewolf chapter in Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked: Sex, Morality and the Evolution of a Fairy Tale (Catherine Orenstein), though discussion with Renaissance girl have gotten me thinking about transformation as a theme as well as my particular interest in the transformation of story tropes. Anyway, her response began [after the greeting, of course]: "You sound like an ideal student." Hence, dead from the squee.

And dude, how did i miss her "Alien Sex: Gender and Difference in Film and Fantasy" course?!

I’m also totally dorking out wanting to read the fascinating books professors mention in their e-mails. The professor mentioned above was also really helpful with not only mentioning other professors and students i might have common ground with, but also explaining further just how Rochester works with concrete examples of how i could work within that to pursue my interests. (And she offered concrete advice about applying, which i already knew but which is always good to be reminded of -- "When and if you apply here, note these different professors and their interests, and be as specific as you can about what you want to do; but also be flexible and multivalent.")

You sound great, and I hope you do come here and we do meet, though I'm
afraid I could never get into Buffy...a generational allergy I think.
-Nina Auerbach (UPenn)
11:26a
Catching up on political linkage (I am so behind)
Jacqueline Mackie Paisley Passey (who wants to be an economist) has a dream about sampling bias:

What a strange nightmare. I dreamed I was back in high school -- or was it junior high? [biographical note: I dropped out of high school two months into my sophmore year, and junior high was an unrelenting torture fest for me] -- and we had gotten a new teacher. In my dream she looked like my trigonometry professor from spring quarter, although in reality the trig professor was fine, I didn't have any problems with her. But I did have problems with her lookalike in my dream. In my dream I think I must have liked the old teacher, but something had happened to him/her and we'd gotten this replacement. It rapidly became obvious that she was not too bright and that she liked to arbitrarily order people around for the sake of asserting her authority. (Regular readers of this blog might recall that I don't take well to that.) So I began a loud running criticism of everything she did -- her teach! ing methods, her organizational habits, her decision calls, etc. At first she fought me but as things escalated she was near tears. She got an envelope out of her box of stuff that was full of nice notes and pictures that her prior students had drawn her [was this elementary school???] and was putting them on the door to "prove" what a great teacher she was. "If I'm such a bad teacher, why do I have all these?" she defended herself with. One of my classmates turned to me and said, "Look, she must be a good teacher, she has all those compliments". I shouted at her, "You're not showing us ALL your teaching evaluations! How about the bad ones? We call that sampling bias, bitch!" and then I woke up.

http://jacquelinepassey.blogs.com/blog/2004/08/we_call_that_sa.html
That was an e-mail from my father. I’m prefacing this post with it because it reminded me of how much confirmation bias we all do. Much though i try to educate myself about both Presidential candidates, i’ve been doing this for months now and i have certain ideas and i tend to lend more credence to the information that supports what i already believe.

Bush, Kerry, foreign policyCollapse )

decentralization (intelligence agencies)Collapse )
11:30a
first in a series
A few weeks ago my brother was complaining about two things at the high school -- the new dress code and health food. I was thinking that they are 2 liberal preventative (in the bad sense of “save people from themselves”) measures.

The dress code is ridiculous. I just don’t entirely buy the “girls in skimpy clothes distract the horny boys,” and that’s what the whole first half of the verboten list is about. As my father put it, The first half, everyone (female) wears, and the second half, (almost) no one does. (Spiked bracelets and heavy chains, plus hats and stuff, and we’ve had a No hats rule for ages.)

Then i read this -- "Now Bush wants to test every American for mental illness--including you! And guess who will create the tests?" by Jordanne Graham. I got to thinking about how i bet liberals could propose an identical plan and spin it totally positive. Test everyone so that we can provide treatment early. And of course the treatment would all be provided free of charge, because universal health care is the ideal.

My father's e-mail on the dress code:Read more...Collapse )


This next bit doesn’t explicitly relate, but it reminded me of how frustrated i get by people who decide they want to fix something, not really understanding what it is they’re dealing with.
Doug Isaacson has a few ideas about city folks. First of all, they do not understand Alaska. Second of all, they do not understand Alaska.

He was flying in a six-seat Piper Navajo the other day above the tundra, grousing that he could not build on all that empty land because the city slickers wanted to preserve it. They needed some place to dream of in their cramped apartments, he was saying.

Read more...Collapse )
11:51a
second in the series (regulating free speech, etc.)
My father sent me a link to this, saying:
I know I'm swimming against the tide here--because both left and right want it for their own purposes--but perhaps it's time to take away the FCC's power to regulate broadcast content (as far as I'm concerned, the First Amendment always prohibited them from having that power, but that's a minority view).
A later e-mail:
As I attempt to transgress the boundaries of left and right

What would be the reaction to some UMass-Amherst guy bringing this to a Smith WST class?

http://www.livejournal.com/users/mephron/349969.html
Eugene Volokh talks about how antidiscrimination laws are restraints on liberty. He also posts on "Will judges be barred from participating in the Boy Scouts?" and "Sexual orientation discrimination and race discrimination" (the latter of which makes the interesting points that people are up in arms about the fact that the Scouts -- the Boy Scouts at least -- discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, but don’t bat an eye at the fact that their very basis is sex discrimination).

As a follow-up, my father e-mailed me this about "hostile work environment"and finally this, explaining how the last one tied in:
I was trying to tie them all together with the idea that legally requiring people to "be nice" leads to what may also be considered civil liberties violations. If you can't "incite racial hatred," then you may violate the law if you say that there are IQ differences between races. If you can't create a "hostile work environment," then you may violate the law if you make sexually themed jokes. If it is against the law to treat gay and straight people differently, then it becomes illegal to make certain decisions about who you want to associate with (to flip it backwards, "gay bars" might well be illegal).

Moreover, the possibility of legal liability can have effects well beyond people who are breaking the law. People can get sued, be investigated, or brought up on charges even if what they do or say isn't actually against the law. This affects their liberty and enjoyment of life. Further, in order to avoid such an outcome, they may try to avoid saying or doing various things which are perfectly legal. In First Amendment law, this goes by the name "chilling effect." (I think the word "chilling" in the last sentence here was an allusion).

It is an article of faith on most college campuses that 1) civil liberties are a great thing and 2) the great danger to them comes from the right. I was trying to suggest that 2a) the greater danger may actually be from the left and 1a) sometimes civil liberties are actually kind of ugly. If you really believe that civil liberties are pretty absolute, then you have to oppose hate speech laws, hostile environment laws, and maybe even discrimination laws. If you favor hate speech laws and hostile environment laws, and believe that discrimination laws should be broad and intrustive, then don't pretend you're a civil libertarian.
11:57a
Okay, done flooding your friendspage now. Should tackle some of that grad school stuff before i go to work.

I feel kinda like i should apologize for flooding your friendspage, but really, people can scroll. There have been various discussions recently about how much your LJ is really your own given that other people read it and digressions occur in comment threads and you're filling up people's friendspages and stuff, and i agree that there are various courtesies that should be observed, but i always come back to "This is my journal. I like people engaging with the stuff i say, but i'm mostly posting because i wanna put stuff out there and people don't have an obligation to engage with it and can just skim over the stuff that doesn't interest them -- certainly i'm not deeply interested in every word posted by everyone i read, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't post what they want, because their LJ isn't in existence for me, just like mine isn't in existence for them."

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