40 going on 18.

Monday, 29 November 2010 12:42 pm
seryn: flower with text (eryngo 2)
I'm 40 years old. But I remember being 17. Obviously I wasn't as smart at 17 as I thought I was, but I was a responsible adult. I could have held down a real job at least as well as the people I deal with now do. I was not living at home, so I am not imagining this level of competence.

I find that I really resent people saying that 19 is not old enough to make adult choices. Why the fuck not?

I'm not disagreeing with the people who think the Portland bomber was manipulated, perhaps to the point of illegality, but seriously, why wasn't he trained to be an adult by 19 years old? Why wasn't he expected to shoulder adult responsibilities and make adult choices and deal with the consequences?

When I was 17, you had to be 25 to rent a car. You had to be 21 to drink. You had to be 18 to marry, enlist, or sign legal documents. That was around when they started trying teenagers as adults for serious crimes too, so it seemed incredibly unfair. We'd already spread out the levels of responsibility we expected from 18 year olds. But if you enlisted at 18y 3mo, your parents couldn't wave a magic wand and get you out of your committment. We have decided that 18 year olds can make (at least some) adult decisions, as unfair as it was that it was limited in my case, there is a line drawn by society.

So 19 years old, unrestricted drivers license, can buy a house, can buy a car, can enlist in the military, can sign an employment contract, can get married without parental permission, can be held liable as an adult for criminal activity. You don't get privileges without accepting responsibilities.

The 17 year old me would be beyond angry if being 19 is no longer enough to qualify as an adult. It was already a gigantic hassle because I couldn't sign contracts on my own, I didn't need that delayed because other people were socially retarded and underparented to the point of irresponsibility.

Parents have a job to raise their children to know right from wrong, to be able to make a choice and abide by the consequences. And we, as a collective society, have decided that 18 years old is when most people have matured to the point where this can be expected of them. It's unfortunate when this is untrue, but it really should not be held against those who are ready to step forward.

Buying stuff.

Thursday, 30 September 2010 10:22 am
seryn: flowers (Default)
Is there a price point at which you expect not to think much about the purchase?

Is there a price point at which you expect, when seriously buying the item, to be treated with avid professionalism?

Does it matter what kind of thing it is?

my response and a long discussion )
seryn: flowers (Default)
I made a minor error. I mistakenly referred to an incident as invoking Godwin's Law. It was actually a corollary.

This is the relevant part (for those who don't follow links): For example, there is a tradition in many newsgroups and other Internet discussion forums that once such a comparison is made, the thread is finished and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically "lost" whatever debate was in progress.

It is, according to the wiki, a canonical corollary in that Godwin himself adopted it, and many other people consider this the actual principle of Godwin's Law. (Myself included.)

The original GL was that the likelihood of any conversation including a reference to [genocidal World War II German leadership] approaches 1 (100% likely to happen) as a conversation grows in scope or length.

When someone says "Jews and American Indians have been discriminated against [by people who think like you]." That's perhaps subtle, but you've still implied that someone is a genocidal monster and it will terminate any threads in any well-moderated forum. In strictly moderated forums it would get you booted or banned. In the original USENET the appropriate response is, "Bye." Because there is nowhere the thread can legitimately go from there. It was one of the failings of an unmoderated forum that there was no one who could stop those threads officially.

I froze the thread where it happened and screened any further comments. I'm not going to screen comments on all posts, but I will deal with any incidents that arise.
seryn: sad face sheep (sadmiro)
One of the things I ran across today was a link to Black Mesa Weavers. It sounds like a concept I would like to support but their website is completely incoherent. It explains, repeatedly, the need for fair prices to be paid for the rare churro fleeces. It does not, however, explain anything about why they need donated funds with which to do this.

There is a section "About Churros" but it does not describe the type of wool or quality of the fleece. It has very little about the sheep and is, yet again, used as an opportunity to explain how horrible the conditions are. It does not even link to the wiki article.

They make it difficult to give them money, which is probably wise since they obviously do not have a clue how to do what they are doing. Step one: market churro sheep wool as rare and describe what makes it special. Step two: make churro wool and yarn and products available at boutique prices online (and have your store set up by people who know how to do it right so there are no security concerns and you can take credit cards for transactions.) Step three: sustainable product/profit loop.

So if they need to have an up-front pile of cash to get the shepherds to bring fleeces to the sale, then when I send money, it should buy me a place in the queue for my choice of fleece. At least that ought to be an option. I am not insisting on a discount or that my donation be applied to a purchase. But what do I get out of giving them money? It sounds like all the fleeces are re-sold immediately to local users and nothing is made available for outside purchase. If that is the case, then the local users should just buy the fleeces and leave me out of it.

When I was a child, my father taught me that it is easier to get a job if you do not need one. You need to be able to go into the interview in good clothing and with enough research to show that you are interested in the business. You need to explain that you will be an asset to your employer. It is not about you needing the job because lots of people can do most jobs and you need to convince the employer to choose you. Obviously doing all that becomes difficult if you do not have money for good clothes or have to work several low-end positions waiting for the right opportunity. But you are selling yourself as the best choice and the best choice is someone who has already put the effort in before they even start.

Charities are like this too. I want to see what the small scale experiment did when you asked your friends for money to get the ball rolling. There should be clear information about goals and where money is being spent. I want to see a professionally laid out website that has (at least PayPal) credit card buttons for donations. There should be references and security seals provided. All of that costs money, sure, but I did pro bono work when I was a web designer. I expect there are attorneys who are happy to provide boiler plate privacy policies to not-for-profits. And there are canned site building tools out there which have drop-in shopping cart functions. Some of them are there for the cost of the hosting. (Yahoo had a free one for a while, it was not horrible.)

I will likely be searching out more rare wools in the future, but if I buy churro wool, it will not be through Black Mesa Weavers.
seryn: flowers (Default)
There is a group on Ravelry, called Remnants, which is this catchall thing. Everyone is automatically subscribed to it and you can't get rid of it though you can shuffle it to another page.

One of the posts there (which you have to be a member of Ravelry to see, but it is free and there's probably a bugmenot for it) is from a store manager who describes her staff as "young puppies". One non-busy evening customers came in. The staff found out the customers were going to the Olympics. One of the staff members asked if you have to get tickets for individual events. The customer said he wasn't paying so he didn't know. The staff member was supposedly crushed by the customer's "harsh tone".

The store manager, the original poster, was not there when this happened and it was only related to her after the fact. She then conveyed this to the store owner with the statement that she would like a cash register button that allows her to "add a fee for this kind of behavior". The store owner created the fee button. Now customers they don't like get charged more. [It does not say where they live, where the store is, nor does it give the real life names of these people.]

One of my friends posted about this in her LJ. That is where I found it because I am not so idiotic as to torture myself by reading the Remnants group on Ravelry.

The other commenters all thought this was a really amazingly good idea. Some said they wished more stores would have signs saying that prices change based upon customer attitude. I disagree strongly. I left this comment which I am editing for clarity now:
I find most of these [odd expectations for personal behavior] strange and I'm just eccentric. I'm from here. Imagine what tourists from other countries feel? Imagine how people who look different or who have other cultural expectations feel. It's discriminatory and intolerant to presume rudeness. I wasn't there. Maybe the guy was actually condescending and snippy, but it didn't sound like it to me from what I read.

I guess I can see the attitude problem if the tone was really there, but the OP didn't actually hear it (said she wasn't there or she'd have sent that clerk out to get cookies.) I think the OP is really intolerant. If you're not paying for an event like the Olympics, you probably don't know if there are individual fees per thing or how cumbersome the logistics are. It was an annoying and off-topic question that was answered, textually at least, politely and possibly to the best of the customer's knowledge.

Personally I hate it that stores have these bizarre and unreasonable social expectations that no one explains. I understand that the staff shouldn't have to be mistreated or put up with rudeness, but for the customers to be denigrated for [politely] answering unrelated questions asked by yappy-puppy clerks*? I'm not shopping there and I hope they go out of business.

*the OP described them as puppy-like.

Knowing they have a penalty button on the cash register? "Hello Amazon! Thanks for taking my money with no hassle and delivering my purchases to my door for free." If this is what personalized customer service means, why on Earth would I want it? Small store owners are constantly whining about how people go to big box stores and order online and how there won't be any small stores anymore if no one supports them. Well guess what? We've just seen an example why. I'm pretty sure when I go to Target I'm going to get treated just like everyone else there. I order my yarn online because the local yarn stores are staffed by bitches who don't think fat women should be allowed to buy nice yarn and say so in front of me without ever turning away from their phones where they are speaking loudly to a remote person.

If there is ever a store with a sign saying that people are treated differently for nebulous and undefined reasons, I'm not going in there.


Sunday, 14 March 2010 12:28 pm
seryn: flowers (Eryngo)
I hate Daylight Stupid Time.

It makes no sense to me that they decided to move the change back another 6 weeks either. I cannot believe anyone thought this had anything to do with "saving energy". Š Oh, yes! If the time is changed one hour, no one will need their lights on in the evening! That will save so much power! š In reality, because I am getting up in the dark again, I turn the heat up in the morning. I turn the lights on. I make hot breakfast. I take a longer shower with hotter water. And it's not like adults go to bed at 7:30pm, so we're all going to need our lights on in the evening anyway.

Daylight Stupid Time was annoying enough when it happened just for the summer season so the sun was already up even with the extra hour subtracted. Now that we spend an extra 3 months a year getting up in the dark but still coming home after dark, I am even less whelmed.

If people really prefer the Daylight Stupid Time so much that they have to keep adding on to its interval in bits and drabs with the most transparent of excuses, then they should just go all out and say they want DST all year. Honesty. Admit to the truth.

Stop fucking around with the time. At least if they admitted they wanted Daylight Stupid Time all year, I could make arrangements and change my schedule. My SO could make arrangements with his employer for alternative hours if he needed to. I do not like getting up in the dark for 3 extra months per year just because some people are too damned selfish to admit they want DST all year.

I also cannot believe the ridiculousness of using "it will save energy" as a rationale for the change in the span of Daylight Stupid Time. Anyone who said that should have been recalled from office instantly on the grounds of being too retarded to be effective in any leadership role.

If you want more daylight in the evening, then go to work earlier. If you arrive at 6:30am, you can leave at 3:30pm. You could pick your kids up from school yourself and they wouldn't need daycare... you could be a parent for real instead of just borrowing an inconvenient doll and demanding that someone else pay for your child to be cared for by creche workers. If you have no children but still want time after work for lawn mowing and gardening, then you could still do this. There is no reason why we have to all work 8am to 5pm. In fact, traffic is significantly better if we have more personal choice or variability in schedules.

But just because your work is too conservative to allow you to have a flex schedule does not mean you should be able to inflict your preferences for sunlight on the rest of the country except Arizona. We should stop having Daylight Stupid Time entirely. The time should not change back and forth. Time should have a stable progression as it is measured by the clocks, it should not be disturbed by some people's selfish desires.

No more Daylight Stupid Time.

Feeling spiky

Thursday, 11 February 2010 10:54 pm
seryn: flowers (Default)
You want to know what irritates me? TV schedules. I have TiVo, I know about Hulu. You wouldn't think this would still be a big deal. But we got deluged in January, to the point where there were conflicts in the recording of content. But now, there's nothing recording for the next 2 weeks (the TiVo content forecast only goes 2 weeks into the future). Why did they do that? We already know they only have enough content for about 30% of the year, so why not spread it out more?

I'd also like them to move House back to 9pm because I didn't have a conflict then. Of course if Chuck continues being as puerile as it has been, there won't be a conflict any longer. I cannot believe people campaigned to resurrect this show. It ended cleanly and the revised version is stupid and plays up the "humor".

Want to know what's good? Doc Martin is on PBS currently. So I was able to watch season one via Netflix streaming and now I'm able to watch season 3. I didn't expect to really like the show, but I do.

I listened to music today. And I got my stupid iPod to use a bedamned playlist.

I bought salted toffee today. It's excellent. Ridiculously expensive though and I keep thinking I ought to be able to make that myself. I might try at some point.

weird requests I would like to change how words are spelled. Not all of them. I'd like to ban "ough" in spelling. That's not how American-derived dipthongs are spelled and having 3 silent letters is ridiculous in a country where they drop necessary doubled letters in past tense verbs just because the Microsoft spell-checker has become the country's official dictionary. Also... we shouldn't have ough words that are not "ow!" sounds, it's confusing. I used the word "slough" today and it's not "slow" or "slau"... it's "sluff". There's not even an alternate pronunciation like there is for "enough"--- though that's probably just for poets.

I would also like there NEVER to be words where 'c' is used both as an 's' and as a 'k'. Circus is just wrong. Cyclops. Though I had a literature prof who pronounced that as "ky klops".

And I would like a name that country game that chose a random region on the globe instead of forcibly dividing by continent. I saw a map from last week's Jeopardy with the Strait of Gibraltar (note, Strait, not "straight") and I was reminded that Africa is spittin' distance from Europe. I shouldn't have discovered that in this century. It should have been something I learned before leaving high school.

I would like to know why we were taught that the song "Blue Danube" was about a river somewhere in Europe but were told that Hungary and Romania and Bulgaria were not. Must be like Chinese people saying India isn't part of Asia because "Only Asian people are Asian." Of course I am old enough to have learned the continents as "North America, South America, Australia, Antartica, Africa, Europe, Asia, Russia". Might have been residual Cold War era geography.

And finally... I would like schools to stagger their dismissal times. It's absolutely wrong that there are 70 cars waiting for an hour to pick up children from school. It blocks traffic half the afternoon. Since we don't have all the schools consolidated in some sort of child ghetto, they're scattered all over residential areas, shouldn't the children be able to walk home? We probably should have regions near businesses where all the schools are located centrally. If all the schools were in one place, then everything would be integrated and services could be provided which are not financially feasible when there are 26 locations. There could be a great school library. There could be opt-in enrichment courses. But since we're not likely to move the children off somewhere away from my home, we should at least not make it so the main thoroughfare is impassable from 2pm until 4pm. Where are the police and why aren't these people being arrested?
seryn: flowers (Default)
I think the news media is lazy.

First they created a false dichotomy about the abortion debate. They went out and found the looniest crazy people who would scream on the air and contrasted them with educated people who know that reproductive rights are the foundation of gender equality.

But the same news media puts assholes like Pat Robertson on the TV saying that Haitians made a pact with the devil and deserved what they got. Jon Stewart was on his show saying, "NOT THE RIGHT TIME!" but no one else was denouncing him. There are a LOT of people who have their own forums and no one, not even my friends, said anything publicly against the asshole.

Where was the dichotomy? Why didn't they have local church leaders saying, "We believe Christianity is about helping others." Or even regular people saying, "He doesn't speak for me."

The news media created the mainstream pro-life movement (which is, at the heart of it, about the subjugation of heterosexual women) by allowing the crazy people on the air. Now they put the crazy church guys on the air and make Americans sound like complete assholes who have no compassion for anyone else.

Christianity is lacking one major major thing as a religion. Smiting by god-thrown lightning. I'd be happy to be in church every Sunday if there was the face of a dude in the sky who exploded Pat Robertson with a ball of electrical force, preferably while he was on the TV so everyone would know god hates people who blaspheme. Without that, god seems ineffectual.

God can't get rid of assholes who speak in his name, why would god care if women use contraception so they can have fulfilling careers and not overpopulate the planet with children they don't love or want?

Pun intended. There are two kinds of dichotomy. The kind that says if it's not A, it's B. And the kind where if it's A, it can't be B. Called jointly exhaustive and mutually exclusive, according to wikipedia. So the news media manufactures dichotomies that appear jointly exhaustive and are probably mutually exclusive. I doubt that the scarily high percentage of Americans who claim to be Christian actually want Pat Robertson speaking for them. I've always taken their apparent silence for tacit consent, jointly exhaustive... if they're not Agreeing with Robertson, they'd Be telling him off. And that's a false dichotomy, there might be a C or D option or even a Q option.
seryn: flowers (Eryngo)
As an aside to another conversation--- largely irrelevant so not cited-- I think one of the largest problems with our current culture is the mismatch between what people believe is a unique experience.

Think of the phrase, "Laugh and the world laughs with you, cry and you cry alone." Except it's not true. Humor isn't very universal. Even among peoples who share a language... there's a line in the movie Bottle Shock where Alan Rickman's character says, "You don't like me because you think I'm an arsehole, but I'm not. I'm British." Most Americans don't think the British have humor because they see Stephen Fry as a dramatic actor.

Now remember how it felt to be a teenager. No one else had ever had a bad breakup like yours. No one else had ever lost a pet like yours. No one else has ever been misunderstood like you are. Everything bad that happens to you hurts so much that it must be unique. And yet... when someone dies we send sympathy cards because we're all expected to have personal experience from which to sympathize. I don't think there are people who haven't had a bad breakup or lost someone special... and I seriously suspect that everyone is still misunderstood, it's just that once you get to be an adult you're not expected to be a clone of everyone else and differences are tolerated.

We act like tragedy is unique, but it's not. That's why so much literature has its basis in tragedy. It's universal. Everyone gets it. It's easy to make an emotional connection with a remote reader if you kill off a beloved character. A durable emotional connection over time is what makes something "literature".

No one even tries to have a sustainable emotional connection via joy. So the height of our literary culture settles for mediocrity.

(no subject)

Friday, 8 January 2010 05:41 pm
seryn: tea (virgin tea)
Things I'll miss about the holidays...
  • soy nog. Stuff's fabulous, costs less than the organic nog with real dairy, and unless you open the carton, it's good for months in the 'fridge. I microwave my mugs full.
  • the expectation that there will be feasting... my SO's already back on his scanty breakfast, "I've gone out for lunch", and "Why did you make so much food" dinners. I've been hungry all day because there wasn't anything easy to fix and I was already working on a big thing (kettle of stew).

Things I don't miss about the holidays...
  • everything being full up. No room at restaurants on the minimal days they're actually open. No room in parks or on beaches (it's freaking winter, where did you idiots come from?)
  • really pitiful veg
  • queuing with a stack of heavy boxes

I'm actually reading a Kitty Norville book, from the library, which tells you how anxious I am for my books that are still in pre-order to be released. 

I've been watching Hotel Babylon, which is okay but a little moralizing and slutty (which is an odd combination) and I started Were The World Mine... but I'm not all that keen (both via Netflix streaming) .

I'm working on a replacement gift, holiday knitting has spilled over into the me!knitting time. I'm never going to have warm feet at this rate. 

I took a picture of the Christmas tree policy our building has. It's amusing because several of the words are randomly scare-quoted, like "live" "tree" and "holiday". I took one look and wondered if it had been a MadLib... I might be willing to share this but not until I've obfuscated the identifying parts. 

Someone today wrote and said there was an earthquake in California... I didn't feel it, and California's big, so that's fairly likely. It had the usual comment, "I could never live somewhere there are earthquakes!" The email went on to say that New Orleans is out of water because of the cold and the plastic handles on her snow shovels have all cracked completely off. There has not been an earthquake where I felt the need to seek shelter since I moved here 15 years ago. But it snows every damned year. Who is the idiot now? No matter where you live, there is something truly sucky beyond your control. Floods, tornados, hurricanes, landslides, earthquakes, blizzards, drought, hail... It's hard to imagine anywhere that humans can comfortably habitate without risk. What really bothers me is that California has earthquake retrofitting for almost every building... so even if there is a noticible quake, it's not likely to kill as many people as sitting on their hands and doing jack did for New Orleans flood control. 

That would be something else I'm wishing was over already... it takes a couple weeks for the residual "holiday closeness" to wear off and family to stop calling and telling me I'm doing my whole life wrong. 
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
I'm disappointed in Maine voters. I realize, living in California, that I don't have a lot of room to talk. I voted against the proposition that says the voters can take away rights from people who have them, which was numbered 8, but even I was not all that enthused because they never seemed to explain it that way.

The majority should NOT be able to decide some minority group no longer has the same rights as everyone else.

And to reiterate my arguments against domestic partnership laws to get around the semantics... in Washington (the state) they voted on new rules which would make domestic partnerships more equitable with marriage. That is precisely the problem. Marriage is a social contract defined by unwritten common consensus. Domestic partnerships are explicitly defined and the provisions must be specifically allocated and can be revoked at any time without real outrage. They're not rights, they're privileges and thus contingent upon your group's current popularity.

You should not have to worry that your rights are going to be taken away for no reason. Who will be next to be declared subhuman?
seryn: flowers (Default)
I was kind of annoyed about the Nobel prizes this year. Well, secondarily annoyed, because everyone seemed so angry.

Friend with a used bookstore was upset because the book that won for literature is long out of print so no one has any, but of course that kind of win generates a lot of requests. The Nobel committee should have released a shortlist in advance so the publishers could run up copies of all of them (because it's not like being shortlisted by the Nobel committee is peanuts).

Then it was the medicine one which was for something from years ago. It's hard to admire that because most of the time the winners no longer do any actual experiments.

There was that huge kerfuffle about Obama winning the peace prize. It really angers me that the peace prize is given to people before they accomplish anything. There isn't even any real proof that the idea is sound because the work isn't even started. (This is true for all winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, I'm not just ragging on Obama.)

So for science and literature and economics, the winners wait decades, until a large fraction of them die unacknowledged because Nobels are not awarded posthumously, but the peace prizes are given to people whose plans will likely make things significantly worse but we can't tell. Peace prizes are incentives. Science prizes are after it's too late for the money to do any good.

It's screwed up. Obviously if we made the peace prize recipients wait a minimum of 10 years to see how well their ideas hold water in the real world, we wouldn't have to give it out as often since many of the recipients die rather early.

I have personally met more than my share of Nobel winners. All in physics or medicine categories. And every single one of them that won no longer did daily work in the lab or even theoretical work. All their time was taken up managing postdocs and getting grant money and putting together gladhanding materials or being on committees. It's hard to see the point in rewarding them at that point in their careers. But science has the back-assward personnel structure that guarantees the people who might make actual breakthroughs are mired in minutiae while the people who can barely find their own asses when they're handed to them are looking at experimental results. Literature is similar because the only people who get to write a second book are the ones who did their own self-promotion--- a skillset which is almost entirely disjoint from writing--- it almost creates a vacuum wherein nothing of value can possibly be published.

I haven't looked at a list of peace prize recipients, but since the world still has the same hot spots of political upheaval, it seems pretty likely that no one who won was actually successful.
seryn: flowers (Default)
Obama's endorsed a UN resolution saying that criticism of religion isn't part of free speech.

I think criticizing someone's religion to their face is rude. I think being rude in a non-public area is going to subject you to being asked to leave. I think it can be unwise to mouth off when you're outnumbered.

But it's free speech. If religious people can have governmental offices closed on Sundays because they're the majority, then I should be allowed to complain. Unless we're going to amend the Constitution and the whole body of law to eliminate that pesky business about Freedom of Religion.

I thought about going back and locking those posts ranting about Christianity and how Christians pat themselves on the back for their tolerance, but decided not to. Now seeing that Obama is shouting about how tolerant Christians are while campaigning to restrict anyone who disagrees from saying so, I rather like the hypocrisy.

I have to say that Obama's Christianity was so much a caveat for me that it almost didn't matter what good policies he had. That has been proven true with his health care reform speech saying women don't have the right to get legal medical procedures if the government becomes the only health insurance option-- and the only argument on that subject is religious.

I would really like to see someone running the country who is a religious minority (preferably atheist), childfree or gay (preferably both), and who insists that Congress members not live in Washington DC so they can actually live the kind of life their constituents do.
seryn: fountain pen nib (screed pen)
On my LJ flist, there was a post saying there's going to be an evolution discussion in a church in Berkeley. The comments are all about hey look how tolerant churches really are but how scientists and academics are all bitchy and intolerant of religion!

Um. No.

Phelps. Heard anyone naysay him who actually goes to church? Nope. Never happens because Christians believe anyone who says they believe in Jesus is a Christian and it's not up to them to complain.

Heard about Texas and Kansas public schools?

Scopes Monkey Trial.

Teaching evolution is illegal in some places of 2009 America.

Evolution is a fact. There is molecular proof. We can watch evolution happen (in microscopic creatures). Want to know where antibiotic resistance comes from? It's fucking evolution. Scientists have hosed themselves by calling it a "theory". But GRAVITY is a theory and even the most god-ridden folks cannot fly. Theory is one of those words which means something different within the scientific community than it does in the vernacular and scientists really should choose another word that means "Our current best explanation as to why this demonstrable event happens." Evolution HAPPENS. All the time. It is not some sort of mythology.

Christianity, is, however, some sort of mythology. It's a currently popular mythology. But if anyone stands on a college campus and says they think we should sacrifice a bull to Zeus, they get laughed at and jeered and people think they're crazy. Belief in Jesus Christ as some sort of savior is the same thing. Christianity didn't start as a religion until after Jesus was dead and it's not about worshipping Jesus, it's about spreading hatred of people who don't worship Jesus. It's the Amway of religions.

So being in a place where study and investigation and experimentation has taught us how to find our place in the world and how to understand something that actually happens... that should treat someone who spouts off about mythology as fact as if they need help for their mental illness.

As for why a Berkeley church is hosting this evolution discussion, I think the functional part of that is the adjective. It's Berkeley, not church, and I think it's awesome that there are churches who remember the reason they get tax breaks is because they are supposed to be meeting places for the community. Churches which refuse to allow community groups to host respectful-of-property meetings should have their property tax bye stripped. The state can use the money.

Finally. I agree that scientists and academics are sometimes disrespectful of religion, but I think 95% of the country being overtly religious needs an active sort of rebellion in order not to swamp everyone in its tide of unthinking hate-mongering. I do think it would have been a lot more polite if the evolution discussion did not take place in a church because churches are supposed to be safe places for religious people to feed their delusions. As much as I appreciate the irony, I do think it's mean.

I would much much much rather the country be that everywhere is safe to discuss evolution, schools, workplaces, stores, parks, restaurants, beaches; and the only safe places to discuss Christianity are in secret enclaves hidden from the public view. But in practice, knowing several people who have been beaten by Christians for their belief in evolution, having seen people's cars demolished for footed-fish logos, and never having seen a school actually ban Christian-focused events (until the courts step in) despite the amended Constitution of the country, having watched the courts say that public schoolchildren can be required to pray (Pledge of Allegiance's "Under God")... I don't think Christianity needs any defense. I think it is the defacto and dejure standard by which all Americans are judged and I think it should not be any surprise that there is violence between citizens since the scriptures require it.
seryn: flowers (Eryngo)
One of the things I find that differs for me compared to other people is a relatively high disbelief in the power of genetics. Oh, sure, there are traits in appearance and physiology, but I think there is a much much larger component to the environment in which the individual grows.

I think people are much more like bonsai trees, they can be trained and restricted and shaped over time into almost anything. Obviously there are some who are not bonsai or even bamboo, they're azalea or marigold or honeysuckle or whatever. When you get someone like that, no matter how much trimming or shaping is done, they will never be an austere bonsai, though they might resemble the intention for a brief period.

I watched (while knitting and with a heavy hand on the fast forward) Idiocracy last night. The basic premise is that smart people don't really have children compared to idiots and centuries later, the world's gotten butt-stupid.

But there's a reason smart people don't have children. It's completely unrewarding, expensive, and causes lifelong medical issues for many women. Not to mention that the world is vastly overpopulated and millions are starving, the air isn't fit to breathe, there isn't enough potable water, and most of the world's people live in over-crowded conditions rife with disease and violence. It takes a special kind of delusion to be able to see all that and damn someone else to a lifetime of suffering through it. The only people who have lots of children are too stupid to look at the bigger picture.

However. My own parents are not very smart. They're sort of average plus lucky. They did have a lot more hands-on training in life skills than most people get today, which meant fewer things had to be professionally done. But my mother got dumber and dumber as time went on. Some of that is my own expanding world-view, but a lot of it was that she didn't do anything intellectual. I'm not sure how conscious of this she was, but she knew she was unhappy and alcohol numbed it. I got as far as I did in my education because of that situation. I was required to come straight home from school, but I only made noise once before getting the premise of "Don't annoy a sleeping dragon." There are not a lot of quiet activities. I could read, I could do my homework, or I could do my outside chores. If when my mother awoke, something wasn't done, there were penalty tasks assigned. So I quickly learned to focus on getting my schoolwork done. There is a lot of public school education that seeps in just by doing the assigned work.

I doubt I was all that much smarter than anyone else, but I was organized and quiet and did what I needed to do in order to get unnoticably good grades. (A bad grade would mean a term of, "Since you are clearly wasting your time doing homework, you will make dinner and clean the kitchen every day." The only way to have that stop was to improve but with less available time in which to study.) I do thoroughly believe that people who having music on while they're studying retain less information, but regardless, I don't think most children had the same incentives.

I consider myself fairly average in genetic smartness. I didn't come from some phenomenal stock. But I did astonishingly well in school and made it into grad school while that still meant something largely based on continual effort. It makes me rather intolerant of the stupid.

I don't believe it can possibly be all genetics. Or really even mostly genetics. I just had the right incentives and an environment conducive to learning. I never failed a test. There was a fractional likelihood that failure could cause my actual death. There is a lot a body can do to focus with that kind of incentive. But I absolutely believe it was wrong for my parents to have children since they intended to torture them.

So I think it wouldn't matter what genetic stock people have as far as intelligence if there is a need they can internalize which drives them to study hard, work towards a goal, and learn. It's not about the genetics, it's about expectations. From what I've seen, even smart parents have relatively low expectations and the children certainly live down to them.
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