Also this week - a Barenaked Ladies concert (I have to say, they're fun performers), a local version of the Texas Chainsaw Musical, Pacific Rim, which satisfied a monsters-fighting-robots urge I didn't know I had, and Side Effects, which was a slickly made, well-acted and disappointingly misogynist movie from some very talented people. If they'd at least made the wife's character sympathetic, or anything other than a bitchy plot decice, I could have taken it. As it is
Books: I'm reading Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable; Parry's Account of 3 Voyages to the Polar Seas (research); and The Mad Scientist's Daughter.
It arrived when I was at ICFA. It is, in fact, green! Apparently I'm supposed to keep it on me at all times. I'm going to ask other immigrants about this, because I don't like taking important, hard-to-replace documents with me to the gym.
As I sat down to write this post the following Guardian article popped up in my Facebook feed: Why the Left is Wrong about Immigration .
I read it with interest, obviously. And I was left scratching my head. Maybe it's because I'm in the USA rather than Britain, and I don't know Britain's cultural immigration battles that well. But as an argument I thought it was deeply flawed.
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As an argument against easy immigration, I give this article a C- . Being what Americans would call a "big government" person, I'm for the government exerting careful control over immigration,* but I'm anti-stupidity.
At some point I'm going to post a reflection on my immigration experience & American politics. But not today.
*P.S. Americans: Why is it that the same people who support small government and free markets tend to be the ones calling for more government control over the mobility of international laborers -- mobility that's dictated by the supply and demand of the free market?
I'll do a fuller write-up later. In the meantime -- it was great to see you all.
I've posted about the lack of male rape in George R.R. Martin's books before, so I was interested to read Sophia McDougall's much more developed essay on popular culture & male rape in The Rape of James Bond.
Some thoughts on the Evil Gay Man trope: Our culture is terrified of male rape. I wonder whether part of the rationale for the Evil Gay Man caricature isn't also an attempt to control the threat of male rape by positing that the people who would do THAT are <<Evilgay,>> and therefore not anyone the viewer would want to be. Only over-the-top Evilgay (TM) characters, or prisoners, would even contemplating raping a man and so that act becomes both evidence of and explanation for their deviant identity.
Meanwhile, it's perfectly possible for a character to be portrayed as both a rapist of women and normal. Even admirable. I'm looking at you, Rhett Butler, Thomas Covenant, etc. To rape a female character is merely to commit a crime, whereas to rape a male character is to define one's identity.
I didn't end up attending that many panels, but those I did proved interesting. Jim Kelly gave an intriguing talk on the Virtual Utopia, which gave me some ideas for my upcoming lecture on The Matrix. And the "gamechanger" panel added to my reading list, as I knew it would. Other than that, I mainly hung out in the lobby and caught up with familiar faces, including some of the ICFA brigade and mindstalk, who I had yet to meet in his new Boston habitat.
On Sunday we were kidnapped by James D. Macdonald and Debra Doyle and taken indoor skydiving, which is, btw, AWESOME, and does not come with the same terrifying quantity of space and ground found in the other kind of skydiving. I thoroughly approve.
My observations re: indoor skydiving are limited to the fact that a) it's harder than it looks and b) I'd like to do it again. Actually, I'll add that the thing that constantly surprises me about skydiving is the nothing-beneath-you part. The hindpart of my brain equates flying with swimming, but there's a significant difference between feeling yourself supported by water and the what-the-hell-is-THAT sensation of being supported by wind. Wind's much less stable, and it's also full of light and noise and NOTHING, and to someone who's a confident swimmer, it's very odd.
Now: back to work.
Sunk: The Incredible Truth about a Ship that Never Should Have Sailed makes for some terrifying reading (at least for me, and I gather, via conversation, most people who have sailed). The author's a UD grad student, apparently, and she seems to have done a bang-up job of outlining and analyzing the Bounty's sinking. Her description of the rigging going into the water just horrifies me.
But what also horrifies me -- and tends to terrify me about survival stories in general -- is the way that social dynamics can force people into situations they are clearly realize are risky, even if the height of the stakes isn't clear. It's all very well to say, on shore and with hindsight, "I wouldn't have set sail." But clearly even crewmembers who weren't entirely comfortable with the decision to sail didn't break ranks and leave. I don't know if it genuinely occurred to them to do so, or whether staying in port was financially or practically feasible for them. Given that any departing individuals would have been shorting the ship on crew, I also don't know if it was *socially* feasible. The urge to help out your community is pretty strong.
Anyway. If you have time, it's a worthwhile read.
Two weeks ago, my elderly neighbor died. She was a sweet lady who'd babysat my plants many times. And she had a cat. A cat that, for one reason and another, now had no home.
The upshot: I now have a cat. A 14-year-old grey cat that, from what i can tell, is determined to compete with me in world domination. And everything else, including the running of my life.
THE CAT has two interests in life: eating and trying to escape. Unfortunately for THE CAT, the first of these requires me to feed it. Which if THE CAT had its way, would be all the time.
For week one this resulted in an interesting standoff, in which the cat either yowled or pointedly ignored me, and I, having a cattish personality myself, pointedly ignored it.
We've now progressed to the point where we occasionally deign to notice each other's presence. And THE CAT has now learned, to its and my benefit, that just because I'm doing an impromptu song-and-dance performance of The Threepenny Opera in my kitchen does not mean I'm about to feed it. There's hope for us yet.