glasses, default

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.
glasses, default

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.
glasses, default


(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.
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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.
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(no subject)

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...
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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.
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(no subject)

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)