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28th May 2015

6:48pm: two way mirrors
I've just noticed a class of effect I'm thinking of as two-way mirrors; there's a divider, and how things look, what awareness of the world one has, is very different depending on which side of it one is located.

When the Cosby show aired, to me it was just some sitcom. To black America, it was transformative, a sitcom that showed African American people as middle/upper class. I was on one side of the mirror, they were on the other.

This is markedly different from say, affirmative action programs or real estate steering/redlining; in those cases what is going on is generally not invisible from one side, even if it looks different.

Giglet once asked me if I remembered Title IX. When she was a young girl, it was a huge bone of contention, lots of people very sure it would mess up boys' sports if public schools had to equally support girls' athletics. It was invisible to me; I barely remembered the controversy, and my opportunities had certainly not been noticeably impacted. To Giglet, it meant she got opportunities that hadn't existed just a year or two before.

Mad Max: Fury Road is pretty much chock full of this.

Possible spoiler alert.

In one scene, I see a character with limited bullets shooting a big heavy rifle and missing, another character who is a better shot walks up, first character hands them the big gun and acts as a gun rest, better shot character uses last bullet to harm baddies. But see, better shot character is female while less good shot character is male. So to many viewers, especially female ones, this scene isn't about who is the better shot nearly as much as it is about gender issues. If 12 year old me, or probably 20 year old me, had somehow seen this film, the scene would have made subconscious statements about gender, but consciously, I don't think I would have noticed or considered that.

Even now, I noticed enough to write this mainly because the film has caused such a stir; the first few times anyone mentioned the film's existence were people saying that "men's rights advocates" were upset about it. If I had just gone out and seen it without that background, I'd probably have been like "Hey, it passed Bechdel really well!" but I wouldn't be writing this.

This effect probably exists all over the place, and while all three of my above examples relate to invisible privilege backpacks, I suspect there are many cases that don't involve them.

Note that calling it a two way mirror is obviously oversimplifying; there undoubtedly exists a set of humans for whom the Fury Road scene would not be about either who is the better shot or about gender; given billions of humans, you can certainly find some who will land in the middle of nearly any division, but the qualitative difference between phenomena that result in evenly distributed spectra of reactions vs those that mainly cause a certain reaction or don't cause that reaction is interesting to me. But of course, actual two way mirrors aren't simply binary either; they work differently depending on lighting level, degree of transparency, viewing angle, etc.

19th April 2014

1:21am: unsolicited advice
I'm cleaning up old mail. Two years and a day ago, someone I knew was having trouble getting over a breakup. I sent this adviceCollapse )

27th February 2014

10:48pm: Apparently my cellphone stutters when I've been drinking.

8th February 2014

5:52am: A category...
Things I don't know how to get rid of. This may be a long series.

There are a lot of things in storage I have realized I can take photos of and throw away, a lot I can give away, a lot I'm ok selling if I don't have to handle costing out and performing the packing and shipping myself, a fair bit that I want to keep, and then there's the stuff I don't know how to make myself let go of, even though owning it makes little or no sense. Books are the worst in this category, but it contains some rather random objects. They include...

* A fencing mask filled with a large piece of coral.
* My father's high school and college diplomas. By an odd twist of history, his high school gave out bachelor's degrees. They are mounted on nice stained wood.
* A mechanical parking meter. I don't have a key for it.

I'm hoping that making an inventory of these objects will make it easier for me to figure out what I want to do with them and why.

3rd February 2014

2:02am: accomplishments
(1) Activated a Tensor panel in the building where they were constructed. Where their creator died. Where delicate negotiations were needed to recover them from afterwards. Where one had not shone bright in over eight years.
(2) Moved the most psychically stuck object in my life: My grandmother's blue velvet Victorian couch. Which had been stuck in the back corner of my storage area for at least eight years. And now sits halfway forward and not hard to remove from the space if I sell it.

These things are related; doing the first gave me the energy for the second.

As I cleaned the storage area, opening the empty boxes and sweeping up broken pieces of myself with the dust, I listed to the poetry of a depressed woman, reciting the litany of psychiatric medications and ridiculous suggestions by incompetent therapists she had gone through, and she ended by promising she would remain alive; I could hear the fire of life burning in her as it sang softly in me. I turned off the radio, and triumphantly sat on the century old couch, and brought inside my self the gorgeous silence of the deserted night-clad building, and I took out my phone and recorded to remind myself that I am creature of love.

It's tricky to feel love for others so much more easily than for myself. To treasure people who do not give me a second thought, but wind myself with phantoms and phantasms for trying to find peace. My mother tried so hard to fix this, but I did not even think it was a wound. The movement of that couch changes the course of the river of my life. How much is still to be seen; one of the riddles of being human is how we can remain ourselves and change completely at the same time.

3rd June 2013

3:35am: In defense of the irrational
So, in my quotes file is the entry "It's human nature to attribute good things to our actions and assume bad things come from outside ourselves."

I have some friends who would do better picking their romantic partners with dice rolls than being allowed to make the choice based on their own evaluation of a person.

A long time ago, someone taught me the value of divination, that flipping a coin or pulling a tarot card can be a decision making methodology just as good as or even better than intellectually evaluating a situation.

We like to think we're so smart. Even dumb people like to think this. And crazy ones especially. And all humans are kinda dumb, with our measly 30MB or so of imperfect storage. And nearly all of us are crazy in some way or another. Sure, logic is a powerful tool. But it's better at some things than others.

My quotes file also says "here are our three leaves of absence which came from M. de Treville, and here are three hundred pistoles which came from I don't know where. So let us go and get killed where we are told to go. Is life worth the trouble of so many questions?"

Tonight I installed the AC unit in my livingroom because my cat seemed to indicate that it was an ok idea. That's probably kinda crazy, but maybe not any more so than incurring $100k in debt for a liberal arts degree or being angry at gays or caring what a tv person wears or who they marry or believing in psychiatrists or democrats or republicans, and plenty of people seem to do those things. I might like it if life made more sense, but well, at least the cat's not meowing at me any more. Sometimes ya gotta just pick a random door and hope things will work out, and sometimes ya gotta at least hope it won't make that much difference anyway, and sometimes ya gotta accept that there simply may not be a good answer or that if there is, you might not be smart enough to figure it out.

7th May 2013

3:15am: I received many replies to my recent post, some as comments, some in person, some by email.
Thanks very much, everyone; I'm still a bit confused, but it's very nice to feel listened to, especially when I'm trying to puzzle stuff out...

14th April 2013

4:32am: Go team irony... follow the link and scroll down to the auction.

7th September 2012

10:36pm: The Burn
Burning Man this year has rendered me stupified and speechless, beaming and guffawing, bruised, aching, and so so so happy. I slept 20 hours yesterday, and am tired yet; that will happen when everything is different. For two weeks of my life, the balances were different; nothing was wrong for more than a few moments. The world was a song of beauty, laughter, and smiles.

I would not have believed that this was possible.

24th May 2012

5:15pm: My mother had an entire shelf of books of etiquette.
And numerous copies of this poem.


And this I solemnly declare:
That I have lived no worthless year,
Nor trodden any road for naught,
Nor closed my mind to any thought,
Nor closed my ears to any news,
Nor given gifts where none were due.
Neither do I my Love regret,
Deceived and wounded and unsure,
Whose light, imperishably pure,
Is with me yet,
is in me yet.
And it will never be too late
To start afresh,
begin again.
Yet from the past obliterate
No single word, no gasp of pain.

(by Anna Akhmatova, trans by Avril Pyman)

16th March 2012

3:10pm: Passover
Passover is approaching. With dad gone and mom on the West Coast, I'm looking around for a Boston-area seder to attend. Anyone got space?

10th March 2012

4:59am: old time music
There's this hardwood floor that I run a dance on. It's beautiful, but also beat up. The room it is in has wainscotting and two-pipe steam, so I figured the building was maybe 1900s or 1910s, I supposed just possibly as old as 1880s. But tonight I wanted to research what issues might come up around using filler or wood putty on the floor, and real estate info is on-line now, so I dug a bit.

It's hard for me to tell which part of the building got done when, but it seems quite likely that college students have been getting their groove on on that floor for something like 165 years. The current floorboards are probably not that old, but given the degree of wear and the use of cut nails, I'd believe pre-war; when did cut nails go out of fashion on high-class joints around Boston? Just how long can a hardwood floor last in a high-traffic area?

9th January 2012

12:10am: Anyone got a spare Arisia membership for sale?
It looks like I'm probably going... reply in comments or email... comments are screened.
I think today (Monday) is the deadline for transfers...

29th September 2011

5:50pm: The wonders of laptops
O: You must not not take me seriously. Give me something to throw at you.
G: That's totally bloggable,
O: Yeah, but you'll forget before you're near a computer.
G picks up computer from table next to him.
O: Oh sh*t.

28th September 2011

3:29am: Well, my first really terrible idea of the day was to hire a spam haus to send spam for me in Latin.

Then at a group outing after dancing, I came to the realization that the Narnia books are about Jesus being a furry, an idea which I think has a lot of really awful potential.

9th August 2011

4:55pm: Old hubs?
Anyone got any spare old ethernet hubs, preferably on the large side?

I need about 20 ports worth of 10 MBit. Faster is fine, and there's no problem hooking a few 12-port units together. Bonus points if it has a real power cord and doesn't need a wall wart.

25th July 2011

8:00pm: wildlife
Sitting on a friend's porch in Brookline last night, a fox wandered down the street and around for a few minutes. Seemed to be having some interactions with a cat.

Driving across Somerville today, a wild turkey blocked my path on Porter Street.

Nice to see nature bouncing back a bit.

16th July 2011

2:17am: Worst remote power control idea ever?
Cleaning out old mail, I found a message where I suggested putting The Clapper next to a computer so that the computer could power-cycle a nearby network device by playing a clapping sound out loud.

14th July 2011

2:48am: I thought it was hardboiled.
Yep, I did gaff tape that egg back together and put it back in the frig.

29th June 2011

11:28pm: Metasongs
How to Write a Love Song brought to mind the old meta-song concept;
the most obvious ones for the folkies are Einstein's Little Homonculus' "Rough Draft", Da Vinci's Notebook's "Title of the Song", and the Limeliters "Generic Uptempo Folk Song".

And while I'm here, I'll note that while the subtitle bugs me a bit, and the whole thing could be a bit tighter, I do find the following cute...

23rd June 2011

8:50pm: I need to quickly put up a small (1-3 page) website. Won't need a lot of bandwidth.
Anyone got a favored registrar that has a good cheap register/DNS/hosting package?
4:16am: Never sure how hard to push when it hurts.

Is it doing damage? Am I straining a muscle at its limit? Or am I building muscle up, ripping those fibers so they'll grow back stronger? Or just malfunctioning pain sensors that should be ignored or put aside?

20th June 2011

1:23am: This weekend, I witnessed the best use of the word "incognegro" that I have seen to date.

This has been a rather odd week, between graveyards, dancing, a rusting ocean liner, breaking a piece off of a museum, buying a cheese plane, visiting Tobi Won Kenobi (the Cat of Conshohocken), close relatives ignoring me and people I'd never met before offering me crash space, partying in remote corners of New Jersey where people wear ENSMB t-shirts, and, well, it's just been a very odd week. Well, ten days.

28th April 2011

5:49pm: Going Loonie
Oh mystic Intertubes, font of information if not knowledge, where near Somerville might I change some US greenbacks into Canadian monetary units for rates that are short of usurious?

My bank (Eastern nee Wainwright) wishes a 17% premium over today's going rate, plus five bucks fee, up with which I will not put...

To use a debit card in Canada, at a restaurant or pharmacy, I get dinked 3% by Mastercard, plus perhaps a DCC fee, yes?

20th April 2011

5:13pm: Birthday Time
Next Wednesday (Apr 27) is birthday-time! Plans are loose this year, but are likely to include dinner out someplace followed by dancing (either swing (with some blues) at MIT or Revival in Harvard Sq)).

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