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burning like matchsticks in the face of the darkness
 
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Monday, February 18th, 2008

Time Event
11:05p
I tend to draft these sorts of entries and never post them.
A recent Sophian article opened:
"I am not here as a firefighter trying to put out the flames of this racial incident or to give a Kumbaya-My-Lord-We-Are-All-a-Big-Happy-Family speech to make most people at Smith feel good about themselves," he said. "I am here today to speak truth to power about race matters in contemporary America and, in the process, connect the dots about this 'incident,' an incident and an aftermath which I believe are emblematic about how race works in post-civil rights America."

Those were some of the opening words of Professor Eduardo Bonilla-Silva's speech titled "It's Real! Racism, Discrimination, Color Blindness and Isolated (Racial) Incidents." The Duke University sociology professor spoke on Jan. 29 to a nearly packed house at John M. Greene Hall. The meeting was an all-campus meeting called last semester by President Christ in response to a blackface incident at a Smith party last November.
I only sort of followed the blackface party incident, but I love the opening "I am not here as a firefighter trying to put out the flames of this racial incident or to give a Kumbaya-My-Lord-We-Are-All-a-Big-Happy-Family speech to make most people at Smith feel good about themselves."

***

Unrelatedly, polymexina recently posted:
Reduced to the Small Screen
Incident, Reaction, Forget, Repeat: Formulaic Entertainment Replaces Serious Discussion on Race

By DeNeen L. Brown and Darryl Fears
Washington Post Staff Writers
Sunday, November 11, 2007; M01
ExcerptsCollapse )

On the theme of politics as entertainment: My dad sent me this link.

He also sent me this one -- which is not about politics as entertainment, but rather about politics and hypocrisy.  Interestingly, my immediate reaction was to defend the Left's position -- but yeah, it is one of those instances of "When my side does it, it's okay," which was the kind of thing I called people on a lot at Smith.  (I'm actually not entirely averse to people making the "When my side does it, it's okay," argument, I just want them to acknowledge that that's the argument they're making.)
11:06p
utilitarianism
I flipped through the February/March 2008 issue of Scientific American Mind when it came for Prof.B. in the mail, and ended up photocopying a couple of the articles to read.

One section was on emotion and cognition and morality.  It included the classic "Do you push someone in front of a train if you know the resulting stoppage will save the lives of five workers down the track?" and (leaving aside questions of whether that scenario is actually in any way in feasible with the laws of physics) I felt like, "Why should I feel like a deficient human being for saying yes to that?"  I mean, I get that people feel squeamish (and it's not like I would unblinkingly do it), but you're saving more lives than you're losing.

In David Pizarro's article "The Virtue in Being Morally Wrong" (p. 33) he writes: "As one of my economist colleagues put it, if you know a man who is perfectly fine with throwing someone off a bridge (even if it is for the greater good), it is a pretty good bet that he is not the kind of person who is going to win father of the year, donate to charity or be loyal to his team."

The magazine posted excerpts from conversations on the Mind Matters blog responding to posts by the people whose articles were published in the issue.

Vivek Viswanathan wrote: "I think there may be a bit of a misunderstanding.  Utilitarians would be extremely likely to give to a charity that distributed bed nets in Africa, for example, because the good of saving lives far exceeds anything that person could spend money on (assuming he is relatively well off).  Recognizing the good to humanity of raising a good, functional child, he may well win father of the year.  Utilitarianism does not imply acting robotically.  It just means that one acts in a way that attempts to maximize the happiness of all sentient beings from now until infinity."

I have so much love for the final blog comment they printed:
David Boshell: "And the moral is: never stand between a utilitarian and a train."
11:07p
"if I'm the Seated Woman with a Parasol"
hernewshoes posted about two posts copperwise made about her experience as a victim of domestic abuse, which she found through a link on matociquala's blog.

hernewshoes talked about how domestic abuse is like unto torture.

A lot of the discussion talked about how easy it is for those outside of a situation to not see abuse, and/or to not believe accusations of abuse, as well as how easy it is for victims to feel like it's "not really" abuse.  I thought of the book my mom told me about the other night -- about how we learn about the cut-and-dried stuff but less about how to deal with all the complicated stuff.  (For example, some commenters on the_red_shoes' post point out that the abuser is often very charming, isn't always torturing, and that makes it so much more difficult and scary.)

In her first post, copperwise told the story of the day she finally left her abusive husband.  "I moved in with friends who had firearms, large cranky dogs, and the willingness to use either to protect house and family."

In her second post, copperwise responded to a commenter who had said: "I don't understand why women who say they're abused don't just move out."

cija left a comment on matociquala's post:
I had a minor insight, which is perhaps much too obvious to be called an insight, when reading one of the several comments by someone who is sure they would leave the first time something bad happened. I think that too, though it's never been tested. But I think that when women say that, they mean, "if I had dated your abuser, I would have left the first time he hit me."

The real question is, if their own husband, that real person whom they know and love, if he hit them, what would they do? Because it means nothing at all when it's a thought experiment about a hypothetical abuser. You have to imagine your own real, named lover, your own best friend, whom you know up and down and who would never, ever do that to you, because your judgment is so good that you got one of the good ones, one of the best ones, who would never because he could never. If he hits you, that particular guy, not if he were to, hypothetically, but if he does, in the real future, tomorrow, next week what will you (I) do?

I mean, my first reaction to my own suggestion is to say, well, that won't ever happen, because he just wouldn't, I have to make it a hypothetical abuser because that's the only way to realistically imagine it. And of course it's like that for everybody, for everybody's boyfriend, until the first time. I know it's blindingly obvious, but thinking about it that way helped me to not just sympathize but understand, a little.
11:09p
[CHPC] Lent 2 [2008-02-17]
The cover of the bulletin had a drawing of a sun behind hills, with the words:
"I lift my eyes to the hills---
    from where will my help come?
My help is from the LORD, who made
    the heaven and earth"

Psalm 121:1-2
Read more...Collapse )
11:11p
[CWM] A Liminal Lent: Walking Between the Times [2008-02-17]
Prelude and Silent Meditation

Within the circles of our lives
We dance the circles of the years
The circles of he seasons...

Again, again we come and go,
changed, changing.  Hands join,
join in love and fear, grief and joy.
The circles turn, each giving into each, into all.


Wendell Berry


Second Sunday in Lent: the Nicodemus storyCollapse )

***

trans study series

We watched some clips from Beautiful Daughters on LOGO -- about the first all transwomen performance of Eve Ensler's Vagina Monologues -- which was totally news to me.  I thought of Toby's GenderQueer Monologues The Naked I: Monologues from Beyond the Gender Binary.  [Edit: Checking my tags, apparently I had heard a little about this back in 2005.]

One of the women said: "I live in the Female Zone now.  But you know how people feel about immigrants."

Eve said so many transwomen after their first date with a man after transitioning come back and say, "All men want is sex," and she thinks, "But you were a man.  Why would you want to go on a date with a man, knowing what they're like?" but then she realized that no, "You were never a man.  You were a woman," and she got it.  That was a powerful moment for me, too, because I've thought similar things, and that realization didn't quite click for me until I heard her say it.  (I do think it remains a non-ridiculous criticism to some degree, though, as these people were socialized as men, but yeah.)

There was a clip of a black, Baptist/Pentecostal style preacher (Archbishop Carl Bean) at Unity Fellowship Church in L.A., talking about how God loves everyone and if you need an operation than that's just fine, and the best moment was when he said that God loves homosexuals, bisexuals, heterosexuals, yadda yadda, "all the sexuals."  Marla suggested we include that in our Welcome :)

Valerie Spencer, one of the transwomen, said that she has a penis, but she's still a woman.  "I'm not trapped in a penis' body."

In discussion afterwards, Sean and Marla said that in Iran, for example, as well as some fundamentalist Christians in the U.S., people totally support trans people transitioning -- provided that the end result is a heterosexual person.

Changing the information on one's birth certificate seems so bizarre to me.  I mean, isn't it supposed to be a legal document of who you were at birth?  Shouldn't you be able to change your name and stuff through other legal documentation means?  It also frustrates me that our culture is so stuck on classifying people in gender boxes.  I mean, so long as your driver's license photo looks like you, does it matter which bathroom you choose to use?

At the end, as Sean called us to join hands for a closing prayer, he said, "As Willy would say: "Now let's all touch each other."
11:13p
Pretty Things (2005) [MFA, 2008-02-17]
[MFA, IMDb]

Yeah, I'm shallow and was going probably as much to get to watch attractive women in various stages of undress as I was to learn about this culture.

Thus I was really pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable the interview segments with former burlesque stars were.

One of the women was saying that there's no mystery these days: "They come out nude, get lewd, then screwed."

Liz (the documentary-ist) was asking Shelley Britton about some boyfriend and expressed surprised that Shelley didn't remember all her boyfriends.  Shelley said she'd had hundreds after all.
Liz: "So you slept around a bit?"
Shelley: "A bit.  But I sent out the invitations."

[Zorita's gay; Liz seems to be straight.]
Zorita: "I think being gay intrigues you."
Liz: "Sex in general intrigues me.  Why can't I just be interested in you?"
Zorita: "What, you wanna go steady?"

I'm crap at writing reviews, but this was really interesting and enjoyable, and I'm using part of my Amazon gift certificate to purchase the book.

There's lots of other stuff in the documentary I didn't talk about in this entry, but which I'll happily talk about in comments if anyone asks.
11:14p
11:16p
Last entry of the night, I swear! (Lent 11/40)
The nearby Episcopal church says on its signboard: "Forgive like there's no tomorrow."  Huh.

*

I spent a lot of time on public transit today.  I spent a lot of that time attempting to be in prayer.  One thing I think prayer helps with, for me at least, is helping me to focus on what it is that I really want -- long-term and for my greater well-being and all that, as opposed to what I want short-term . . . Toby's idea of Will, wants vs. needs in the parlance of a tarot reading I once had, want-self vs. should-self in psych parlance.

I've also been thinking during Joys & Concerns in recent weeks, wondering how it is that you decide which concerns to lift up.  'Cause there are always lots of people I know going through difficult times (especially the kind of stuff that isn't just over in a week or two).

*

carlyinrome is hosting the pearls before swine: everyone is unsad meme.  She explains: "Comment here saying nice things about anyone. Anything! Anywhere. Say nice things, and then people will comment to your comment saying nice things about you."

And mjules did joy sadhana today.  Yay for joy.




"Joy Sadhana is a daily practice in the observation of joy."
-mylittleredgirl [more info]

"Sin is necessary, but all will be well, and all will be well, and every kind of thing will be well."
-Julian of Norwich, Showings

Five good things about today:
1. I got like nine hours of sleep.  Yay days off for sleeping in.
2. I mostly enjoyed the warm (highs in the low 60's, people! but it was rainy this morning, which I think helped me be okay with it) weather today rather than fretting about how unseasonable it is.
3. I found okay clothes at Sears -- and all on sale, so I got 4 shirts and 2 pairs of pants for <$85.
4. I sent a mildly impulsive e-mail last night, and today I didn't obsess excessively about the potential fallout.  (And, bonus, there wasn't really fallout but rather, unexpectedly, an opening for further dialogue about an ongoing issue.)
5. I found a few things I'd misplaced.

Three things I did well today:
1. I went clothes shopping even though I really didn't want to.
2. I called a friend I've been out of touch with for far too long.
3. I registered for this year's Harvard Lambda Legal Advocacy Conference.

Two things I am looking forward to (doing [better]) tomorrow:
1. Followup on a particular ongoing conversation.
2. Not having to go anywhere after work.

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