Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Guilt, Shame, the Internet, and You

Very interesting post on the function of the internet in displacing guilt and undermining internal controls on behavior. As a full-throated supporter of the capacity for the internet to swallow and incorporate evidence of past behavior as a method of developing more accurate and widely encompassing reputational data, this was an unsettling read.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winding You Up

As I do more and more dyeing and spinning, I realize that it would be useful to have a skein winder. However, they are rather expensive, especially considering they consist of a spinny thing with pins sticking up to hold the yarn and a crank to turn the spinny thing. I do have a spinning wheel, but cannot figure out how best to attach something to the flyer to harness the wheel's motion to allow for foot-powered skein winding. Ideas?

Sunday, December 19, 2010

My Right to Travel: Impeded.

Ah, DC. Which other jurisdictions so obsessively track you and force you to show papers proving you don't live there?

While parked legally on a street in DC this weekend, I received a warning notice for failure to register for DC tags. Since I already pay car tax as a resident of Virginia, DC can go jump in a lake. However, telling them to do so is going to be something of a pain. In order to not incur a $100 ticket, you must report to the DC DMV and prove you live elsewhere with your original lease, a recent utility bill, and your car registration. (In return, they will give you a six-month exemption, at the end of which the entire process repeats itself.) You can also mail this information to them, but the ticket also helpfully notes that the processing period associated with doing so may exceed the fifteen day grace period before which a ticket for failure to register is issued.

In contradiction to both this blog post on the problem and the DMV's own website, which make it sound like you only get these for parking twice within thirty days, the warning notice clearly states that "[y]our vehicle has been observed for the second time within a 180 day period parking without DC tags." So if you've parked in DC while shopping, visiting a friend, or doing business within the last six months, beware of that second trip. And heaven help you if you don't have a lease or mortgage or have your name on the utilities.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

All the female libertarians

On the question of where they are, and the cause of their low numbers: I was discussing this at my last gaming session, in which an Objectivist-ish dude and I played War of the Ring (which is awesome, by the way). The following points seemed relevant to the persistent failure of libertarianism to attract female proponents:

1) To start out with, most libertarians are male. Whether this is because men or male brains are innately attracted to libertarian ideas or because libertarian ideas are more commonly found, and thus disseminated, in male-dominated social groups or tribes (SF fans, CS types, high school nerd clusters, etc.) is a separate question.

2) In opposition to traditional statist positions regarding the need for coercive intervention to prevent discrimination against women by governmental entities, corporations, and individuals, male libertarians often go so far as to deride the general goal of social norms of gender equality.

3) Women see this and recoil. The male domination of libertarianism continues.

If libertarianism is about free human flourishing, then why wouldn't you, a libertarian male, push civil society to allow for the self-actualization of half the population? Wouldn't you be concerned about the extent to which female* children are inescapably victim to the coercive inculcation of beliefs about gender that are destructive to their full personhood? Wouldn't you want to admit, for the sake of your female listeners, that even if you disagree with government intervention to remedy sex discrimination, you still think sexism is wrong? (If you want to say people have a right to be bigoted, it's prudent to condemn bigotry; cf. Rand Paul.) If libertarianism is to attract women and be viewed as more than "f*** you, I got mine," then a little empathy would go a long way.

* And male [PHMT genuflection].

UPDATE: Phoebe gets at what I was going for. If a libertarian man's default stance is to scorn attempts to control behavior and conventional wisdom, then you're going to throw out some feminist baby out with the bathwater. Oddly, IIRC this sort of juvenile oppositional posturing is one reason why Ayn Rand thought libertarians were not potential allies.

Monday, December 13, 2010

What do Italian women want to be?

When I ask him how he understands the Presidente's political vision, he says, "He loves the idea of having fun. Fun is the mantra of Berlusconi. The politicians before him, they were just the brain. Just the head and mouth was moving, and the body didn't exist. Berlusconi is very physical. Just like Mussolini. Very virile. The smile. The body. The idea of having fun is so, so crucial. And he could make people dream. That's the typical side of the narcissist: Where I am, there is paradise."

If there's a distillation of that fun, an image that, along with the proud, bleeding face, explains why the Presidente survives, it is the famous old-man penis from the Summer of Love, the penis belonging to the former Czech prime minister. It is a normal penis, white, either semitumescent or caught in an upswing so that, captured there in the air, it looks semitumescent, perched above a pair of legs that are not the legs of a young man—a little skinny, a little short. But here in the world provided by the Presidente, this penis is allowed to swing in the bright Mediterranean sunlight, for once freed from the suit pants of respectable early old age, happy and carefree and unashamed, surrounded by friendly women in thong bikinis who love and accept this penis for what it is. You can be that penis, Italy. You don't have to pretend to be young or virile or world-beating; you can just be you, an aging, graying, stagnating nation, and still thrive in the world of fun.
Whenever I read an article about Berlusconi, I wonder: What is it like to be a woman in Italy these days? And how do women who support Berlusconi justify their decision? Regardless of whether one agrees with his policies, there is no particular reason why they have to be implemented by someone who actively undermines the significance of female political participation.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

So much worse than "ma'am."

On the advice of AskMe, I put Lily and Snape on an all-wet-food diet so Snape would drop a few pounds. This means I go through a lot of canned cat food. It apparently means that I look like a Crazy Cat Lady at the grocery store.

Me: (attempting to be helpful) There are 36 cans of cat food. They're all the same.

Cashier: ... So, do you feed ferals?

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Cool Stuff Watch

23 and Me extended their holiday sale through Christmas ... genetic testing only $99.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Nothing "Bamber"

If I were a yarn company, what would I be called?

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Problem: "[T]here’s not a ton of great art that completely refuses to communicate vulnerability (the oeuvre of Leni Riefenstahl notwithstanding)."

The 1585 guy is back. He's been trying something new lately:
So that was the project before me: never say anything insecure, ever. At least not in front of a girl, although I figured it would be good practice to avoid saying insecure stuff in front of guys too. This didn’t seem like it would be too hard. After all, we’re not talking about something subjective here, like comedy, where what one person finds hilarious another person might find offputting and vice versa. Everyone basically knows the difference between insecure and non-insecure, even me.

And with that kind of setup, you’re probably expecting an essay about how it turned out to be harder than it looks. But it didn’t. It turned out to be every bit as easy as I thought it would. Seriously, all I had to do was not say insecure things, duh. How easy or hard it was isn’t the problem.

Now you’re probably thinking that it didn’t work. You’re expecting me to say that I refrained from saying insecure stuff, but girls didn’t like me any better—either because they could still magically tell I was insecure somehow, or because it turns out that girls look deeper than that and aren’t really as shallow as I was making them out to be. But that’s not it either. Girls—and, to be fair, people in general—really are as shallow as I was making them out to be, and the simple practice of never saying insecure things worked amazingly well. To be perfectly honest, I had sex with more women this past September and October than during any year-long stretch of my life before, or all four years of college. And I didn’t even go out that much. So without becoming boorish here, let it be established that never saying insecure things really does work, and is incredibly easy. Those things are not the problem.

The problem is that, as far as I can tell, I no longer have a personality.