greensword: (there's no crying in baseball!)
The two great goals of my childhood were to play for the New York Yankees, and the become President of the United States. I have yet to accomplish either of these things, but it occurred to me today to wonder - which will happen first? A woman in major league baseball, or a woman in the White House?

What do you think, and why?
greensword: (<3)
What is it about a romantic relationship that makes it different from other kinds of relationships such as friendships and family relationships? Is it something more than sexual intimacy? Why are romantic relationships so commonly exclusive? Is there something about romantic relationships that leans inherently toward exclusivity, or is it just a common cultural preference?
greensword: (gimme some of that honey baby)
A few weeks ago [ profile] aliterati and our friend Dan and I had a conversation about the love stories we obsessed over growing up and how they effect our taste in partners, our dreams of what relationships should be, and the way we go about our romantic business. Since today is Valentine's Day, I thought I'd talk about the romantic daydreams of my childhood - those bits of feeling gleaned from books and t.v. shows, before we started figuring things out on our own.

Like many little girls, my favorite book when I was young was Little Women*. I read it cover to cover, over and over, and identified with Jo and hated Amy and loved Laurie. I didn't understand why Jo turned Laurie down in favor of the older, less pretty, less fun-loving Professor Behr. I had a crush on my own dark-haired, mischievous best friend and desperately wished he'd stop in the middle of one of our adventures in the woods and declare his undying love for me.

However, as much as I liked Laurie, he was not my romantic idol. After all, he didn't end up being good enough for Jo, and had to settle for annoying Amy. (My best friend didn't end up being good enough for me either - something I didn't understand even when I realized he would only be friends with me when no one else was around. I thought that meant I wasn't good enough for him.)

No, I met my great storybook love when my mother, seeing my fondness for Little Women, got me Anne of Green Gables. Now Anne Shirley, like Jo March, is a great character for girls to identify with: clever, independent, endlessly creative, passionate. But it wasn't Anne that I read the Green Gables books over and over for - it was Gilbert Blythe.

Gilbert Blythe was, at age ten, the embodiment of everything I wanted. Keenly intelligent, he is Anne's only intellectual rival (how I wished I had a handsome, flirtatious intellectual rival at that age!) and though he loves to tease her he stops when he hits on something she is sensitive about (the exact opposite of what all the boys I knew would do). It takes Anne years to realize she loves Gilbert back, but when she does, he is there waiting for her.

The third and final romantic book I loved was The Witch of Blackbird Pond. This is a little less famous than the other two, so I'll sketch out the plot - Kit, the orphaned child of Caribbean slaveholders, flees to Puritan New England to be with her mother's family, rather than marry the middle-aged friend of her father. On the journey, she meets Nat, the captain's son, who earns her displeasure by pointing out the flaws in her privileged, frivolous worldview. When she gets to her aunt's town, she tries to adapt herself to her new surroundings, but quickly becomes frustrated, and often escapes to be with Hannah, the witch of Blackbird Pond. It turns out that Nat is a friend of Hannah's as well. When the town turns against Hannah, Nat and Kit help her escape and, by the end of the story, fall in love and live happily ever after.

Why I love these books:
~ In all three books, the hero falls in love with the heroine first, usually for her independence, intelligence and bravery. The heroine takes her time to come to terms with her feelings.
~ However, they do not become doormats - they can clearly see the heroine's flaws and will point them out to her. When the heroine sees a real flaw in them (arrogance, rudeness, lack of compassion, lack of direction) they do their best to change themselves.
~ Except for Laurie (who is my least favorite of the three), they have a strong sense of self and a person they want to become regardless of what happens with the heroine. Gilbert wants to become a doctor, Nat wants to captain his own ship and try to win American independence and abolish the slave trade.
~ They all really like to tease each other.

These are actually rather common themes but they still ring true to me. I like intelligent, good-natured guys with enough self confidence to call me on whatever bullshit I put out there. I find stupidity, lack of direction, meanness, and an uncritical view of me to be huge turnoffs. And someone who likes to be teased and can make me laugh is just icing on the cake.

What about you? What were your favorite childhood romances, and can you see their influence in your life now?

* Actually it was Lord of the Rings, but there was no real romance in that. I didn't understand Eowyn until I was older and Arwen and Aragorn's star-crossed whatever still doesn't feel like romance to me. Little Women was my second favorite book.
greensword: (i fight the world!)
I think there is an art to amusing yourself when you're alone, or when the power goes out, or when you lose internet access. I remember a period of months - or was it even years - when I was growing up, before we had a computer in the house, but after Nickelodeon's prime years were past and I wasn't really watching t.v. I read every book in the house, from my sister's awful fantasy collection (Robert Jordan, people) to my father's collection on suicide prevention. I read every book at least three times. But sometimes I just ran out of books.

I remember spending hours in the forest behind my house, making up stories in my head as I followed the muddy paths to the lake. I remember bringing all my dolls and stuffed animals down to the basement, where I ran an orphanage. Or on nice days, I would lie on the hill in my backyard looking up at the sky and make up lives for myself, because when all you can see are clouds and all you can feel are damp blades of grass, you can be anyone and anywhere. (Well, anywhere that there's clouds and grass, that is.)

I think there is something to be said for days that stretch out endlessly, that you don't know how to fill. Sometimes I hate that my first impulse, when bored, is to go online. I can always fill my time now, but with what?

What about you? Do you wish you spent less time online, or do you wish you had more time? Are you too busy, or are you restless? If you were granted an extra day, every week, what would you fill it with?
greensword: (Default)
Here is a hypothetical question. Does owning seven houses worth thirteen million dollars make a person incapable of empathizing with or understanding people who live in poverty? Do you think it makes them less likely to empathize or understand?

If someone can be very rich but still favor helping people in poverty, does that mean that someone else's life experiences as a very wealthy person bear no relation to feelings that poor people should just pull themselves up from their bootstraps?
greensword: (Default)
Is Barack Obama really supposed to be the best we can do?
greensword: (Default)
I remember once having a conversation with my parents (who, to give you some background, met at a home for the developmentally disabled) where I called something retarded.

Mom: You shouldn't use that word. Do you know what it means?
Twelve Year Old Shauna: Um... no.
Dad: It means someone who has a problem when they're developing. It's not something they can help. Using it to mean something bad hurts their feelings as well as those that care about them.
TYO Shauna: Oh. Sorry. I mean, that's moronic.
Mom: Actually, moron is an older word that means the same thing.
TYO Shauna: That's stupid?
Dad: Same.
TYO Shauna: Idiotic?
Dad: It's kind of a recurring problem.
TYO Shauna: But how do I say I think something is retarded? I NEED TO SAY SOMETHING IS RETARDED.
Mom: Try unintelligent? Or obtuse?
TYO Shauna: This is why I have no friends.

The range of perjoratives for the developmentally disabled and mentally ill is only the tip of the iceberg. There's physical ableism ("Don't be lame!" "Why are you so blind?") not to mention your average, everyday homophobia ("That's so gay!"), sexism ("Don't be a pussy."), racism ("What a gyp!" among many others), the list goes on and on.

To be clear here, I'm not talking about words which are specifically used to target certain groups. I'm talking about words which have become separated from their original meaning and now are often used without one even realizing one's causing offense - but which can still be quite painful to hear, if you know the origin of the word.

What are some negative words you can use gleefully and guilt-free? What are words you wince when you here, but no one seems to even notice what they're saying?
greensword: (braaaains?)
Do you believe in any sort of universal "right and wrong"?
greensword: (party animal)
Does the university/academy/degree system have a stranglehold on intellectual thought? Is it the main or only way that ideas and people can become "legitimate"?

What else can you do when you want to "think for a living"? What are other ways that knowledge can be shared? How are those ways better, worse? What do you lose from breaking away from the current model, and what do you gain?
greensword: (mad scientist)
There are so many graduate schools, and yet none that really suit me. Those of you who are/were in grad school - how did you go about your search? How did you make sure you didn't miss any program or advisor with real potential?

Also, a google search led me to this advice:

When we do the things we love we create congruence between motivation and talent; we come alive. When we are brought to life by doing what we love, we do it well, and people notice, and they hire us. When we are only pretending, we languish and suffer, doing mediocre work begrudgingly, hating our lives and those around us, and we die poor and unhappy.

So do what you love.

It is hard to do what you love. It takes more work than doing what is simply available. But it is the right thing to do. And in the end it is the most practical choice.


Apr. 1st, 2008 12:14 am
greensword: (apathy kills)
I have a headache from trying to decipher 18th and 19th century political philosophy writing. And I still don't understand property.

I would welcome anyone who could articulate their personal theory of property, and answer the following questions:

1. How does property arise? Is it possible for people to live without having some idea of property?
2. Does a man have the right to kill another man to defend his property?
3. In the midst of a famine, there are three men, and one meal. Who gets the meal? What further details could help you make a decision, and why?


Mar. 21st, 2008 08:10 pm
greensword: (Default)
So, what the hell is up with property, anyway?
greensword: (Default)
All right, kids. Let's have at it.

Are there fundamental flaws in the way our government works (our meaning U.S., but also can be stretched to similar gov'ts) and if so, what are they and should they be fixed? Can they be fixed? Could a new form of government ever replace it? What would be the best form of "government"?

And, lastly - death... or cake?
greensword: (Default)
what are some examples of "the means justifying the ends", that is, examples of times when the actions taken were not morally, ideologically or practically consistent with the ends that a person or group was aiming for?

please provide as many examples as you can think of. i'm trying to figure something out.

also - do you think the means can ever justify the ends? why or why not?
greensword: (apathy kills)
If you had to choose between having a democratically elected government and having the bill of rights, which would you choose?


I just suddenly understood why my ancestors rioted in Hell's Kitchen and joined the confederacy (some of them) rather than fight for the union. I probably should have gotten it this past summer when I visited Ireland and heard about their six billion rebellions, but. What can I say, I'm slow.

The need to intervene when human rights abuses are taking place is entirely distinct from the need to fight to keep a part of your country from seceding, which is not a need at all, so much as a deadly affectation. It just got all mixed up in the Civil War.

I also hate the very idea of sovereignty.


I'm turning into such an anarchist.
greensword: (Default)
I've been reading a lot about Jean-Jacques Rousseau lately, although of course I haven't had enough time to read everything of his or think about it in too much depth. One thing that really intrigues me is his novel Emile, which imagines the "perfect" education for a child by following his life in narrative. There's a full copy of it online here if you're interested. It's, like, 500 pages though, be forewarned.

It's just such an interesting idea and I wonder what it would look like if someone did that today. For all I rail against the modern education system I'm not sure what my concept of the perfect education would be. Perhaps it's impossible to do a modern-day Emile. Perhaps we have too much appreciation for the vastly different needs of different people. Perhaps you'd have to write about a thousand Emiles.

I also have been reading Ivan Illich's Deschooling Society, where he suggests abolishing the school and making discrimination based on level of schooling as illegal as discriminating based on sex or race. He supports a focus on skills as opposed to broad certifications, which I like, but at the same time, I think this approach might make interdisciplinary and critical thinking harder... but how much harder can critical thinking be than in a totalizing institution?

Anyway, what do you think? What would an "ideal" education look like? What things are most important in education?
greensword: (Default)
Do you consider yourself a competitive person?

And do you think competition is a good thing or a bad thing or a little bit of both?
greensword: (apathy kills)
Is a group more than the sum of the individuals that make it up? Can a group be held responsible for something that individual members are not to blame for? Can a group of people possess rights or privileges in addition to or different than the rights and privileges of its members?
greensword: (Default)
If you had $200 to give to any charity, organization or cause, what would you give it to, and why?
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