Tuesday, November 30, 2010
I also held that liberation from patriarchy is something that women need, not being aware that it is primarily men who need liberation from patriarchy! Such a thought, that it is precisely men who need liberation occurred to me only when I got married to a woman who was raised to think independently for herself and who refused to accept gendered roles. I came to a greater awareness of my gendered self when I lost to her in arm-wrestling. I stopped arm wrestling with my wife in the presence of my kids.
This was written by Joseph Prabhakar Dayam, and appears in an e-book published by the World Council of Churches and World Communion of Reformed Churches called Created in God's Image, from hegemony to partnership.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Call me ultra-moralistic if you want, Mr 'Working-to-the-Rules', a namby-pamby, a non-risk taker, and anything else, but I can't for the life of me see the point of radar detectors.
The reason police use radars on roads is to prevent accidents primarily, rather than to make money. You can argue this till you're blue in the face, but making money from radars is a secondary aspect - they are there to prevent people speeding.
To me the mindset that goes with using a radar detector is one that says to itself: the whole radar thing is a game. This is how it's played. The cops set up their radar. I speed as much as I can, and if I get caught, it's not my fault. They shouldn't have been being sneaky in the first place. I'm an innocent victim here. Therefore, in order to cease being an innocent victim in the game, and to get one up on the cops, I install a radar detector. This means that when my detector detects, I can slow down. And the cops won't get me. That's how the game is played.
It's a stupid game. It fails to take into consideration the fact that even though you may think you can drive safely at a greater speed than everyone else, it's possible you can't. Furthermore it fails to take into account the fact that there are other people on the road who may not appreciate your speeding and the possibility that you may cause them to be involved in a crash.
I've been told by someone who's a member of our family (an in-law) that he always drives faster than everyone else because he knows he's in control. Yeah, right.
I know I'm banging my head on a wall on this one. I've never yet met anyone who's told me outright they wouldn't think of using a radar detector. Must be a kind of macho thing that I just don't understand (being the little wimpy person that I am, the kind who used to get the sand kicked in his face by the big muscular guy).
Well, the time has come: the paper is starting to discolour (not helped by being on a table one which the sun shines strongly for part of the day) and if I don't do it now it won't get done at all.
The piece concerns some research done by one Prof Jeffrey Mogil of McGill University and relates to the pain threshold differences between men and women. Now the first reaction to such a statement will be to say that women endure pain more readily than men - think 'giving birth' as one of the prime examples.
No, says Prof Mogil of McGill. Overall, men endure pain more than women, even apart from the fact of the pain of labour in pregnancy. A random street survey in which people are asked who endures pain more will come up saying that women do, but Mogil says this is incorrect.
Another interesting aspect of Mogil's findings is that women are 'the vast majority of chronic pain patients.' 'When controlled pain studies are done, not every study finds a difference between the sexes' in terms of pain thresholds. 'But every time a difference is found [my italics], it finds women are more senstive to pain, and less tolerant of it.'
Well it's nice to come across a study that doesn't tell what we already know, but turns accepted wisdom on its head.
You can read a more detailed report of Mogil of McGill's research work on the Boston.com page.
Somewhat connected with what's gone before, in relation to the differences between men and women, there's little doubt that young men suffer more from acne than young women. Just one of those facts of life (in fact, related to the facts of life!). MD Clear is given the all clear in terms of being a helpful method of reducing the problems relating to acne. I don't know what the MD stands for, though I suspect that it's meant to signify that Medical Doctors approve of this product. Let's hope they do!
The neat photo is by Shira Gal, from Flickr.com
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Now that the laundry has a new floor she had this idea of putting cupboards and shelves in there and a bench top, and found the ideal sort of thing (once she’s rearranged the configuration somewhat) on TradeMe for $150. Ridiculous bargain. But talk about heavy – and of course on Sat morning it drizzled solidly, and it took us two trips to get the stuff, one with a trailer on which the largest item was carried (a former pantry).
Celia was inside the car for that trip, half lying down trying to hold the other stuff from smashing through the windows. Carrying the stuff out to the car was bad enough – we had to come down and go up a steep (though not long driveway). But getting it into our house here was worse. In the end she had to unscrew the large trailer-carried item completely (in the rain) – it was too big to go through any of the doors.
However, since then she’s painted the laundry and put down the secondhand floor covering (same stuff as we've used in the bathroom –I keep thinking it’s called Vortex, but that’s not right) and put the fridge, freezer, washing machine all back in there...on her own. Tonight we’ve set up the former pantry (now chopped down to fit in with the sloping ceiling) and it’s looking great.
The room is so much better without all the clutter of pipes (they’ve all been removed and replaced with the Tub thing that we bought), and the leftover bit of concrete from the old toilet, and the horrible pink walls we’ve endured since we were foolish enough to paint them that colour (I think we hoped the colour would fade – it didn’t) and the old cistern, and the rubbish floor that was heading downhill, and the wall that divided the laundry itself from the toilet area. Plus all the junk that accumulated in there.
All in all, a transformation.
Here's Whitacre conducting his virtual, but definitely live, choir: 185 voices from 12 countries all apparently singing together. I'm not sure how this is done, because the intro talks about '243 tracks' as well - does that mean he actually conducted each singer separately? Seems unlikely. But then, so does getting 185 internet connections to function perfectly together! [You can actually see how it was put together in the link under Whitacre's name above...]
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
My wife received a secondhand ring too, when we got engaged. We weren't particularly well off at that stage, and it seemed reasonable enough. One of my daughters subsequently dropped it down a hole in the stairwell wall and that's the last we've seen of it. (I have no idea what my daughter was doing playing with it.)
I didn't give my wife-to-be my mother's engagement ring because I'm not even sure if my mother had one. She was married in wartime, and I suspect engagement rings were regarded as a bit of an extravagance. Apart from that my mother was still alive when I got married, so if she did have an engagement ring, she may not have been keen to part with it.
On the other hand, my grandmother's ring is something I do have - my English grandmother, that is. (Again, I don't know if my New Zealand grandmother even had an engagement ring - she had nine children in due course, which probably would account for any lack of rings in the house.) My English grandmother's ring could easily be recycled too: it looks exactly like a curtain ring. It's perfectly round and thin as can be. How it came to be in my possession is something that I no longer remember - not because I'm losing my marbles but because I don't actually recall ever knowing. Maybe my mother received it at some point, perhaps when my grandmother died. Who knows? Hidden in the recesses of time.
Friday, November 19, 2010
“I think atheists miss the point. I don’t grant atheism and agnosticism the same moral quality that I give to people who pursue the religious or spiritual way of life… . If you are still an atheist when you get to my age, you don’t know shit. I hope you change.”
found courtesy of Alan Jacobs.
Another spectator asked him to stop swearing, and was abused himself. The spectator, who just happens to have a Maori or Pacific Island name, finally decided enough was enough and punched the abusing man in the jaw.
The abusing man called him a 'coward'! Yeah, right. The Maori/Pacific Island man punched him again.
The result: the striker gets fined $500 and the abuser walks away Scot free. And the judge's comments? I quote from the Otago Daily Times:
The judge: said [the Maori/PI]'s reaction to [the swearer's] "poor behaviour" was unjustified and wrong - particularly in front of children - and the conviction would remind him such actions were unacceptable.
Uh, it's acceptable to swear continually, abuse the ref, walk on the field, continue to swear after you've been asked to stop. Oh, right. That'll be why such 'victims' (as the judge called him) get away with such garbage.
And note this paragraph: In court yesterday, defence lawyer Sarah Saunderson-Warner said a restorative justice meeting had not been possible because of the attitude of the victim, who indicated he would only take part if [the Maori/PI] brought $5000.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
For reasons I don't fully understand, statistics hold a strange power over people. Someone who is otherwise a clear thinker will readily accept something not true when it is presented as a statistic. (This is especially true for statistics presented in written form.) Statistics somehow can bypass the critical-thinking part of hte brain and go straight ot the "oh, that must be right" part.
Guess what? You don't have to believe all statsitics! The Bible commands us to love others unconditionally, but this applies to people, not statistics. With statistics, we should be everything we shouldn't be with people - cranky, sceptical, and critical. With statistics, acceptance should be earned, not freely given.
I routinely irritate friends and family by not believing the statistics that they tell me if the statistics don't sound right. When I disagree, they sometimes respond by repeating the statistic, in case I somehow missed that it's a statistic (and therefore to be accepted at face value). I still choose not to believe it, and their reaction is often one of disbelief, as if I'm breaking some unwritten rule.
His rules for his 'deputy-sociologists' in dealing with a statistic (pg 221):
Question whether it's accurateI note that this has been my way of working with statistics for quite some time, so it's nice to know I'm in good company!
Question the motives of the person writing
Disagree with the conclusions
Judge the statistic in light of your own experiences
Not believe it for any reason, including just being in a cranky mood.
It's going fairly well: there are ten scenes in all, some of which will have only a small amount of music; some of which - like the one I'm working on now - will have a great deal. Scene four, the current one, appears in the script just to have 'songs' (for want of a better name though perhaps 'sung moments' might be Best Buy choice) scattered throughout with dialogue in between, but in order to get a decent flow I think I'm going to have to do what I did with the first and second scenes: have music going continuously so that the singers sing where appropriate, or talk over the music where it's not.
But those in-between bits need special timing and a better sense of the overall music in the scene, and so I haven't written any of them yet. Instead, what I've been writing are the 'sung moments', leaving gaps for the in-between stuff to get filled in later. I'm sure it's a perfectly legit way to work, but it feels a little odd. My tendency with music is to write from whoa to go and then fix things up later, reconstruct where necessary.
Anyway, there's one advantage to my approach here, and this is that the moments are all fairly short, (no one sings lengthy arias in this musical, or even lengthy songs), and so they don't take a lot of writing. It'll be all the joining up and the figuring out of how long the dialogue will take that's going to be the slower part.
Another advantage is that I'd already written some of the songs for this scene a while ago, because they were in my head when the script was being written and I wanted to get them down (and one of them has been lifted in a modified fashion from the original version of the musical, written some thirty odd years ago).
So the upshot of all I'm saying here is that I have a stretch of music with holes to fill in later. And the advantage to that approach is that when it comes to filling in the gaps there'll be plenty of thematic material to work from.
Some time in the next month I'd like to get a cast together to read the script through (without any music) and just let other people get a feel of what it's like, and see what their comments are. It's something we (my collaborator and I) have been planning for a while, but both of us had exam commitments to get out of the way first. Hopefully that'll be an interesting experience for those involved, and they'll find the script fresh - and funny. Time will tell.
Our first attempt a couple of weeks ago had been to try and surround the potato patch with a kind of fence but the wind was too strong for the material we were using. Then my older son suggested using a spray of cayenne pepper (ten parts water to one part cayenne pepper) - that kept him (the dog, not my son) away from the patch briefly. My son also suggested putting down newspaper over the patch with some sort of weights to hold the paper down. This kind of worked, except where the dog removed the paper.
Yesterday, while my grandchildren played with my wife's iphone, we tried the approach I'd suggested initially: some netting over the top of the patch that would allow the plants to grow but keep the dog from digging. It looked very successful - we even managed to reuse some very elderly wire netting that was cleared out from under the house where my wife and youngest son had pulled out the laundry floor on Friday in preparation for a new one going down.
After making some pins out of number 8 wire to hold the netting down, we felt that success had finally been achieved. Went inside to rescue the smartphone from the kids. Found later in the afternoon that the dog had chewed some of the netting (it's a material type) and got into the end of the one of the patches and....dug up a potato. Put the remaining bit of elderly wire over the broken material.
Went to my other's son's first son's birthday party (on yet another very hot day) where my son didn't have time to show my wife his newly acquired iphone mark 4 because he was busy running around after a bunch of pre-schoolers, and came home to find yet another potato had resurfaced. Dog duly told off in such terms as to make him look abashed for at least five minutes.
Pinned down the material again. Discovered that the dog has decided to use the area around the clothesline for depositing other things -the kind you walk in by accident and only discover after the smell keeps walking along with you.
Washed the dog who was also carrying around some of the same smell, and finally settled down to watch an excellent Indian movie on Maori television that I'd already seen in which true love doesn't win out, while my wife, who knew the story already, played a game that has so far defeated her, on the app on the phone that is obviously smarter than her...at least for the moment.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Kathleen Norris (in her book, Amazing Grace, pg 78) quotes William Stafford...."who once said that he never had writer's block, because when a poem failed to come, he simply lowered his standards and accepted whatever came along."
He also said: "Successful people cannot find poems, for you must kneel down and explore for them." Norris writes that she decided this applied to religious belief as well as to poetry.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Mesothelioma, as you'll know, is a cancer related to asbestos; that is, people who've worked with asbestos and inhaled the asbestos dust over a period of time are very susceptible to getting the illness. Just so you're really clear about this, mesothelioma is named from the mesothelium, which is a membrane that covers and protects most of the internal organs of the body. It's composed of two layers of cells: one layer immediately surrounds the organ; the other forms a sac around it. The mesothelium produces a lubricating fluid that is released between these layers, allowing moving organs (such as the beating heart and the expanding and contracting lungs) to glide easily against adjacent structures.
Now there's something you didn't know you'd find out when you came to read this blog today. Anyway, if you've contracted mesothelioma you may need a mesothelioma lawyer so that you don't find your employer or ex-employer trying to wriggle out of paying you money in compensation. That's another story. What I'm more interested in today is asbestos itself.
Asbestos is a Greek word meaning 'unquenchable' or 'inextinguishable' - a pretty scary sort of thought in itself, particulary if you've picked up the cancer connected to it. There are other other illnesses you can contract via asbestos: asbestostosis, which affects the lungs, for instance, and lung cancer itself.
Asbestos ain't fun to be around, even though it's very effective as a building material, with various qualities that make it useful. In fact, it's not so much its use in building that's the big problem (although there are hazards), it's what happens when you 'unbuild' it.
Now you might think we've only just discovered in the last couple of centuries that its use brought problems; nope, the ancient Greeks noticed that when their slaves mined asbestos they tended to get sick. Of course, there were always plenty more slaves around, so it didn't matter in those days. (Slaves were only there for use, like other tools and materials.)
There's a story that Charlemagne had a tablecloth made out of asbestos. Certainly it might have saved on the laundering, but you have to kind of wonder what it did to the food....
Mining of asbestos in modern times turned out to be not much better for the slaves - sorry, workers - than it had been in ancient days. Miners got sick just like their forebears and were probably treated only marginally better.
Strangely, asbestos is found naturally in the air outdoors, and in some drinkable water, including water from natural sources. Most people's systems cope with the infinitesimal amounts that they come in contact with, but there have been studies done in which it was found that people living near to asbestos deposits got sick; increasingly, the closer they lived to the deposits. Mesothelioma was one of the main illnesses they contracted.
When the Twin Towers were destroyed on 9/11, millions of particles of asbestos were released into the air. That's pretty scary.
You look around the world some days and think: this is a pretty okay sort of a place. And then you discover that the Creator seems to have left some very strange things just kind of lying around. Equally, when you think that the ancient Greeks had a fairly good idea that asbestos, for all its useful properties, wasn't that healthy for humans, you have to wonder why we moderns have considered using it in such huge quantities.
Seemingly the only way we learn is when we find we have to fork out large sums of money in compensation.
However, not having one makes quite a vital difference to a number of famous faces, as the Mustaches Make a Difference campaign shows. This campaign not only promotes Movember, but also de-promotes a number of famous faces, from Gandhi and Einstein to Dali and Queen. The 'renamed' character sans moustache shows that this most remarkable facial feature makes a huge difference to the look of a man - it always intrigued me how many NZ policeman wore the 'police moustache' as I called it. It had a certain regulatory look about it, was very formal, and added an element of threat to the police face (note how ordinary Stalin looks without his moustache - it's the same process).
Here's just one example of these clever pictures:
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
It may not become top of the pops (although the close harmony is great) but at least it provides something humorous about what is often a deadly serious subject.
(Incidentally, Martin's movie, Leap of Faith, from 1992, still stands as a surprisingly good 'discussion' about faith, real and fake.)
Monday, November 08, 2010
NO Shotgun gives you increased energy - something I could do with about 2 pm most days, when my mind decides that a little nap wouldn't go amiss. It's one of a huge range of products available nowdays for those who think that building up strength and energy the old way - by working out - isn't sufficient.
There was a guy on TV recently who's dying because of the way he's treated his body in order to be able to look like the most muscular guy on the planet (you know, the kind of guys who seem to be all arms and legs and very little else). And yet he's still punishing his body; it's an addiction.
And on my way to work I notice that a shop has been opened just recently which sells these kinds of products and little else. The window display at present consists of large boxes containing stuff that's supposed to make you big and strong. Don't think I'm going to be trying any of them any time soon, not even to foist off a nap.
Apropos of the above not at all, we got a quote today for removing the laundry floor. Why would we want to do that, you ask? Well, when it starts off flat and then heads rapidly downhill as you go towards the back of the room, something has to change. The piles had always had an amateurish look about them, but they've survived longer than the thirty plus years we've been in the house. Until now. Some of the piles consist of a bundle of bricks stacked on top of each other with a bit of plaster to hold them in place, and a piece of wood shoved in at the top if the bricks didn't fit directly to the base of the floor.
Some of that wood has just given up the ghost. On the other side of the room, however, is something even more amazing - and this was put in by whoever built this part of the house. Instead of having a flat wall of bricks on that side, every so often there's a brick sticking out sideways, and these bits of brick are supposed to support the floor over there. Extraordinary. The builder who came to look at the floor the other day had never seen anything like it. One of the bricks isn't even touching the floor at all.
Anyway we're going to get some proper piles, and a new floor, and hopefully from then on when we enter the room, our first experience won't be of slightly queasy feeling as we see the floor lowering away before us.
Thursday, November 04, 2010
It's well known that the maps of the world we usually see are distorted, with the Northern hemisphere countries being out of proportion to their actual size. (Here's a map that gives a better indication of relative sizes.) But what's really intriguing is that the map of Africa (the whole continent) comfortably swallows up countries that we normally think of as huge: the US, China, and India.
Population size doesn't equate to land size, which is why, as I was told yesterday, the Chinese invaded India back in the 50s/60s (sorry, not just sure of the date), in order to have more space. If they'd really wanted space, they should have shifted some of their population to Africa. The Africans might not have even noticed. Or to central Australia. No one would have noticed if they'd been quiet about it.
Anyway, here's where to find the map of Africa with China, India, the US, Great Britain, and all of Europe laid over it.
Russia doesn't fit, because, in spite of our general thinking, Russia has the largest land mass of any country, with Canada in second place - even though it's almost half the size. The US comes next (although it's in 4th place on this page) with China in the actual fourth place. Brazil and Australia follow.
There we go. Got the world sorted out at last.
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
For 25 years, the researchers have made detailed observations of bottlenose dolphins in the eastern gulf of Australia’s Shark Bay. That one-of-a-kind dataset allowed them to chart the relatedness of dolphin moms and map their habits of social association, then correlate these patterns to whether their offspring survived childhood.
As would be expected, calves born to moms from reproductively successful families tended to do well. But for dolphin moms from less-fit families, that lack of a pedigree was offset if they tended to hang out with successful moms. The researchers’ analysis suggested that keeping good company was just as important — even, at times, more important — than coming from good stock.”
We must communicate to politicians that we don’t expect 100% perfection but we do expect 100% truth. In this way we give politicians permission to tell the truth even when they might otherwise fear the public response. Making a case for a move away from the reigning assumption of spin towards a radical assumption of truth is very important, and a crucial one to democracy and just government.Paul Chaplin
"The lie of perfection" in catapult magazine
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
Now that my exam is over, and the course finished, I can relax a bit and start reading books that aren't related to NZ history again. I've been reading one called Bottled and Sold - the story behind our obsession with bottled water, by Peter Gleick. It's interesting but a bit repetitious, so I may...not...finish...it...yet. On the other hand I finally started reading Half the Sky today, which I bought a month or more ago and couldn't allow myself to get into because of the study. It's an in-your-face look at the way women are treated around the world, not just in terms of forced prostitution, but slavery in general, and abuse of every kinds (and I mean abuse: beatings, eyes gouged out, having acid thrown at them and much more).
I did read some other non-study books over the last few months (impossible for me not to do so). One was a biography of Georgette Heyer, the historical romance novelist. My mother had practically every book she wrote, I think, and I've read some of them in the past myself. She was an excellent writer, a great humorist, and a somewhat indomitable human being. I also started reading the biography of jazz pianist Mike Nock called Serious Fun. It started off very interestingly but has become a bit of a list of who played with whom and who was taking drugs at the time and which album they recorded while they were together for a few months and so on. I'm supposed to review it, so I'll have to give it some more house room yet.
I haven't consciously heard a lot of Nock's music, as it happens. I know his name well, and I've no doubt heard tracks on which he's been playing in passing (usually on one of those jazz programmes on the Concert FM, or whatever it's currently called), but I've never really sat down and listened. Hmm. I got a CD out of the library the other day and was surprised at how dull it was. Nock's left hand went on and on playing the same thing, while his right hand wandered around with no apparent idea where it was going. That was the first two tracks. After that my mind had switched off and I didn't hear what came next. I gave the CD another go a day or so later, and the same thing happened.
I'll have to try a different album. It's unlikely that his reputation stands or falls on that particular CD.
And the other thing I'm doing, of course, is getting on with writing the music for the musical. The stuff I'd already written has been buzzing around in my brain every time I stopped thinking about anything else, so I need to get on and write some more (or go mad). I've been orchestrating some of the music I wrote a while back and it's been good to hear it - particularly now that I'm actually hearing what it's like rather than what my two dud speakers on the computer claimed it sounded like. A bit of adjustment on the Sibelius program itself, and the use of earphones, made a huge difference.
I've just noticed that there's some way to record music via a microphone using Sibelius. Once it's recorded and Sibelius has transcribed it, you can edit it - make it look like it should! I hope it's better than the scanning program Sibelius uses: I've given up on that because it's more work trying to edit than just transcribing the stuff straight into the computer in the first place. It doesn't seem to work any better with this latest version of Sibelius than it did with the old one. Of course, it possibly doesn't help that most music people want me to transcribe is elderly, often torn, scribbled over and various other things. But even clean copies don't seem to go too well.
It doesn't look as though I installed the microphone (audio score lite) program. Maybe I'll get onto that some time - although the way I write music doesn't really lend itself to that much. Still it may prove more of a bonus than I think!
By the way, the exam went far more smoothly than I expected, I felt pretty good about it, and hopefully the examiner will too. But three hours of typing took a fair amount of concentration (I can't even begin to imagine writing for three hours) and my bum also got tired of sitting in the same spot for so long. There were only two of us disabled people in the room - I don't know what was wrong with the young woman who was also doing an exam (probably a different one to me) - and there were two supervisors! All very friendly. Because there were so few of us we started a quarter of an hour early. Better than sitting around nervously.
This is the Official Trailer for a new documentary short about the oldest Holocaust survivor in the world Alice Herz-Sommer. If you want to see the finished film early next year please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Directed by Oscar winning director Malcolm Clarke
Produced by Nick Reed, Malcolm Clarke, Chris Branch, Larry Abramson, Jasmine Daghighian