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July 11, 2006

Making Light
Posted by Patrick at 12:02 AM * 565 comments

“Not at all a feminist blog”, according to Feminist SF: The Blog.

“Covers big world politics and all kinds of other things, including Teresaís fascination with knitting (in the subtitle) and other crafts.” Uh huh.

Comments on Making Light:
#1 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:50 AM:

Perhaps the author has, ahem, missed the point. That is to say that feminism -- at any rate, the idea that men and women are equal and deserve equal respect -- is normative and thus discussed no more than other normative elements that form the background here -- the worthiness of sf as literature, for example.

#2 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:52 AM:

I have trouble describing this-- "I read something really cool on Making Light, it's nifty people, um, publishing, but it doesn't have anything to do with that (unless it does)..."
Try explaining that you're fascinated by diabetes and fight songs because of a website about politics and gardens. I can't do it, so I mumble on.

#3 ::: Kip Manley ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:01 AM:

Myself, I always assumed it was Teresa who was fascinated with crafts. I mean, who'd think Patrick was crafty?

#4 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:11 AM:

Oh my. What an analysis. Who invited the brain surgeon to make a review. oh. I'll go look.

#5 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:18 AM:

It's not so appalling a statement. She's listing a bunch of blogs that she regards as feminist or fellow travelers, and it's pretty clear in context that she thinks of Making Light as the latter. (If she didn't think so, Making Light wouldn't have been listed at all.)

I think it's a pretty fair assessment. Feminism is obviously not the primary focus of this blog, but it's just as obvious that this blog is, at the least, feminism-friendly. I don't think any disrespect was intended.

#6 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:23 AM:

Making Light not feminist? Well, depends what you mean by feminist, really.

At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, one of my favourite hobbies:

There's feminist as in "focuses upon feminism as a major informing topic." Singling Making Light out as being not-this-sort-of-feminist is odd; the world is full of not-feminist sites just like it. Seems kind of mean-spirited, if you ask me.

Then there's feminist as in "takes for granted that women's opinions, thoughts and preoccupations are equal to men's, and gets on with the business of discussing them."

People who espouse Fragano's amiable norms might self-identify or be identified as feminist (and/or liberal, and/or knitters, and/or so on), but a blog which they own/to which they post might only be a feminist blog in the second sense. I get the feeling Feminist SF is more feminist in the first sense.

I blame the Romans.

#7 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:54 AM:

Oooh! Can I put fellow traveler on my resume? Please? Puh-leeze!

#8 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 02:03 AM:

Larry, if you're like me, all the HR people you meet are way too young to remember when that phrase had a pejorative meaning or what it was.

#9 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 02:09 AM:

Um. Huh? I'd like to see someone look Teresa in the face and say that.

#10 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 02:47 AM:

Matt Austern has it. From the post, introducing the list:

...these blogs are by people that I know identify as feminists and do good feminist work of a variety of sorts. Hereís my annotated sampling for your convenience. My own disclaimers: Some of the folks on Scalziís list may be very serious feminists and I might not know it. Many I donít list below are feminist allies whom I value highly.
Debbie considers Making Light a blog full of feminists. The awkward phrasing of the annotation is meant to say that feminism isn't a major topic here, just a bedrock.

#11 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 03:29 AM:

If you look at the article, the list of blogs is meant to be all feminist blogs, and Making Light is first on the list. I think that the phrase "not at all a feminist blog" is a brain fart, and that the person who wrote it meant to say "not entirely" or "not feminist in focus" or something, and what they meant to convey was that the blog was feminist in outlook but eclectic in subject.

#12 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 03:34 AM:

If the word "at" were removed, the line would be applicable (if badly phrased).

But the Copyeditor Within is very tired, and has miles to go before he stets.

#13 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 05:43 AM:

On strophing would-be-goods on a snowy evening:

You have premises to vet ....

#14 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 06:36 AM:

I was thinking what Lucy said before I got to what Lucy said and so I associate myself with her remarks. It seemed like a brain fart.

Though I can't deny it's been a long time since I've seen any bras burned around here. Facts are facts, after all.

#15 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 06:44 AM:

I have one spare, Michael, if you want to do some burning.

#16 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 07:07 AM:

We're supposed to read "not at all" as an attempt to say "not entirely"? Give me a break.

#17 ::: Nadai ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 07:26 AM:

She specifically says that Scalzi's list has at least 16 blogs 'by people that I know identify as feminists and do good feminist work of a variety of sorts' and then she lists 16 blogs, one of which is Making Light is the first. So I suspect she does mean something like 'not entirely'. Why else would Making Light even be on her list if she really meant it wasn't at all feminist?

#18 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 07:51 AM:

Also, the most memorable thing about Teresa's writing is her "fascination with knitting and other crafts."

Will Shetterly, by contrast, is a "tireless crusader for justice." And Scott Westerfeld's books raise significant feminist issues. Well, they do. And Will is indeed tireless. But the contrast is striking. On the one hand, lavish praise for male novelists. On the other hand, belittling.

#19 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 07:52 AM:

Well, I'm perfectly happy to give you a break if you want one, but brain farts are brain farts and are notoriously hard to read as anything more than brain farts.

But I'll certainly acknowledge I could be wrong. I imagine asking the author of the post what she meant might help clear things up.

#20 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 08:31 AM:

Just a note: Making Light is first on the list because it's more popular (according to Technorati) than those that follow. Its presence on the list can be read as a compliment by those charitably inclined; its placement on the list can't be read as any sort of positive review.

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 08:42 AM:

So, the site is run by feminists, ergo it must be about feminism. Right. With logic like that...

#22 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 08:53 AM:

*wakes up*
*reads*
*boggles*
Should I go back to bed?
-r.

#23 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 09:04 AM:

What surprises me the most is how surprised she is by Scalzi knowing lots of feminists. He goes to WisCon for gu's sake. He's *invited* there.

*shakes head*

Kids these days.

#24 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 09:10 AM:

I'll vote with Lucy and Michael -- given the general context of the list, "not at all a feminist blog" must be some kind of typo or relic of an earlier edit.

The emphasis on knitting rather than language, fraud, folly, or truth is odd. (And how long has it been since you've had a post on growing luminous by eating light? How many photovore restaurants does NYC even have?)

#25 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 09:18 AM:

I can see what Patrick is irritated by, because it bothered me, too. She stresses my feminist background, for example, although The Sideshow is no more explicitly a feminist blog than Making Light.

Maybe I particularly noticed it because I regard Patrick has having made a very important contribution to the existence of feminism in fandom and in sf, and over the years I've been aggravated by the way he keeps getting written out of that history. I'm all for emphasizing the importance of the women involved and all that, but we didn't do it all by ourselves and Patrick supplied a lot more than mere moral support, y'know.

Not that Teresa's many discussions of related issues is by any means neglible, y'unnerstan....

#26 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 09:49 AM:

How many photovore restaurants does NYC even have?

Photophage, surely?

#27 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 10:23 AM:

I'm flabbergasted at a feminist singling out Teresa's knitting as worthy of note. I thought that battle had been fought, won, and equestrian statues erected therefor.

#28 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 10:36 AM:

Or maybe lucivore. (No offense meant, Lucy.)

#29 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 10:40 AM:

Well, knitting is in the subhead of the blog, so why be surprised if it's mentioned?

#30 ::: BSD ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 10:52 AM:

Leaving aside the incomprehensibility of that statement for a moment, what I found notable in that post was the infomation that Nalo Hopkinson has a blog. Awesome.

#31 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 10:54 AM:

It looks like the criteria for being called a "feminist blog" is a) focuses on feminism specifically OR b) is known to the author as a feminist.

The idea that women and men are to be considered equally is a basic, shared assumption here. So is the idea that women and men have different life experiences and different things to bring to the table in discussions that touch on that difference. Neither is valued above the other.

Anyone who comes here and acts as if that isn't true gets put in his (almost always his) place fast. Example: the hubristicly-pseudonymed Vx Dy.

And wasn't there some loser who published a blog about how the whole problem with modern life is that men are too soft and sensitive, and how they ought to take back their rightful place as dictator of the household? I recall Teresa leaving little more than bloody shreds of him.

But well, she writes about knitting. Obviously no good feminist knits, or, if she does, is decently ashamed. (Good feminists presumably make MEN knit.) Writing about knitting is just Not Correct; it's far too housewifely a thing. What she'd say if she saw Teresa's preserves I can't imagine. Maybe habanero oil is sufficiently feminist?

And if she demolishes sexist jackholes on a regular basis, and runs a blog where the most conservative commenters don't hold sexist opinions, and where feminism is absolutely the air we breathe and the water we drink, well, she writes about knitting.

#32 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 10:56 AM:

adamsj: Because language, fraud, folly, and truth are more important. Because knitting is the last thing on the list. Because knitting is the only item in the list that is "women's work."

#33 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 10:56 AM:

Well, knitting is in the subhead of the blog, so why be surprised if it's mentioned?

So are language, fraud, folly, and truth. Prior to the mention of knitting. Her characterization makes this sound like a knitting blog.

#34 ::: Grey ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 10:57 AM:

Yeah, so feminists can't knit now? Shucks. Guess I'll have to use all my knitting needles for something else... Maybe for stabbing people who don't define feminism exactly the same way I do.

#35 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:02 AM:

Or you could just read what Xopher said. I'll be in the corner knitting a sock if you need me.

#36 ::: Rachael de Vienne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:10 AM:

There is "feminism" and there is "peopleism." I always thought this a peopleist blog. You treat humans with respect. Gender seems not to matter here. That's peopleist. (I'd say humanist, but the wordís been glued to other ideas.)

A mature philosophy recognizes the worth of humans. An ethically mature person practices that belief. Feminism isn't an overt issue to the morally mature. Doing right is the issue. If one ďdoes right,Ē they will put into practice the ideals of equality, respect, and, as our ancestors of the mid-nineteenth century would say it, ďdoing good.Ē

As may hold it, feminism fosters enduring conflict. ďPeopleism,Ē puts the ideas of feminism and personal liberty and responsibility into practice is a quiet and consistent way. Who are the real feminists here?

#37 ::: John C ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:10 AM:

Wow. This seems to be much ado about nothing.

The inclusion of ML in the list was supposed to be a good thing. Maybe she chose her words poorly in describing the site, but it hardly seems worth getting so upset over.

We're supposed to read "not at all" as an attempt to say "not entirely"? Give me a break.

"Not overtly" would probably be a better choice. Again, poor wording, but not an attack on this site.

So are language, fraud, folly, and truth. Prior to the mention of knitting. Her characterization makes this sound like a knitting blog.

And a "big world politics" blog. And "all kinds of other things." Let's face it, reading the list of topics in the subheading, knitting stands out a bit in a "one of these things is not like the others" sort of way. Not surprising the brain would latch onto it. It is a good example of how diverse this blog can be - from politics to knitting! That's the message I think Debbie intended.

I'm a long-time lurker and I love this site. I get the impression Debbie does too - or at least likes it enough to include it in her list. Can we cut her some slack?

#38 ::: LauraJMixon ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:11 AM:

Sheesh. Seriously.

#39 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:12 AM:

How many photovore restaurants does NYC even have?
At least three. No actual native photovores (photovoreans?) have been spotted yet, but I'm sure they will show up any day now.*

-r.
*everyone knows that nifty ethnic restaurants just sort of apperate a few months before the ethnic group they belong to first appears in NY, don't they? How else do you think we keep it so diverse here?

#40 ::: Laura Quilter ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:15 AM:

To the people who are pissed off: Are y'all serious?

Debbie can explain what she meant if she chooses to -- my guess is there was a typo or misphrasing on the making light entry, which read "Not at all a feminist blog" when she probably meant to write something like "Not an all feminist blog" or "Not all a feminist blog" substantively meaning "Not focused on feminism". No other conclusion makes sense, if you look at what she's doing with the list. She says "at least 16 of these blogs are by people that I know identify as feminists and do good feminist work of a variety of sorts" and then lists 16 blogs. Given that description of ML as a feminists/doing feminist work, wouldn't one want to give her the benefit of the doubt on a contradictory text? Wouldn't it feel silly to go all in a tizzy or feel outraged about the classification and then have her say "oh yeah that was a typo?"

Other than a typo, the second likeliest meaning is that she meant "feminist blog" as some term of art; and then one could critique her for not explaining the definition & criteria, and argue about whether something fit or not. But given her earlier reference to the criteria she used in picking her 16 ("identify as feminists and do good feminist work") this seems less likely. Either way wouldn't it behoove you to cut the sister some slack?

As for the knitting - good grief, what's wrong with knitting? or mentioning knitting? how is it not feminist to discuss knitting? In her annotations she briefly mentioned the general theme of the blog or its coverage and/or what was particularly interesting to her about the blog. What's wrong with the making light description (other than the likely typo/brain fart about feminism): "covers big world politics and all kinds of other things, including Teresaís fascination with knitting (in the subtitle) and other crafts"?

It's an interesting example of group dynamics. Imagine if the making light entry had not had the likely typo/misspeak, and read something more like "Not only a feminist blog, covers big world politics and all kinds of other things, including Teresaís fascination with knitting (in the subtitle) and other crafts". Would the knitting comment have struck anyone at that point? Or is it that once people thought something (A) was wrong with the post, then they began seeing wrong also in (B)? I just really don't see how the knitting comment is problematic. (Except that it's been kind of a while since I saw knitting discussion - bring back the knitting, Teresa! Some of us liked it.)

Likewise, the comparison with SS. I think it would only get made at all if someone takes seriously the description of ML as "not at all a feminist blog". Then you can look at SS & ML entries and see them as materially different. Otherwise, you look at the SS & ML entries and see them as not that different: One says feminism isn't her focus; the other says something like "not an all feminist blog". Not materially different. Indeed, most of Debbie's annotations say little or nothing about the feminist content on the blog itself; some only identify the blogger.

#41 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:16 AM:

Photophage restaurants are, of course, the perfect place for a light meal.

#42 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:17 AM:

If folks want to get pissy, I recommend they direct it toward The American Prospect, a wonderful magazine that nevertheless still links here from its blogroll to "Patrick Nielsen Hayden's Electrolite".

Anyway, I'm personally a little distressed by the continuing devaluation of feminism into "anything a woman does and any choice a woman makes". I suspect the author of the posting in question might have similar sentiments.

#43 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:23 AM:

"Feminism fosters enduring conflict. 'Peopleism,' puts the ideas of feminism and personal liberty and responsibility into practice is a quiet and consistent way. Who are the real feminists here?"

This may be well-meaning nonsense, but it's still nonsense. Feminism is an analysis of social relations that focuses on the extent to which men persistently have and use unjust and unearned power over women.

Everyone who mounts a critique of established power winds up being charged with "fostering enduring conflict," as if the complaint of the victim is somehow the cause of the crime. It's abuser logic: "Look what you made me do."

#44 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:36 AM:

Photophage restaurants are, of course, the perfect place for a light meal.

Xopher, just step over here a moment will you?

*thwack*

adamsj: I'm sure TAP used to link to both ML and Electrolite. Obviously someone got it wrong when the Amalgamation happened.

rhandir: everyone knows that nifty ethnic restaurants just sort of apperate a few months before the ethnic group they belong to first appears in NY, don't they

Eerie. Would make a good Twilight Zone:

Irate New Yorker: "You serve rats? What kind of weird diner serves rats? What sort of Visitors are you expecting, anyway? And another thing - what the hell does "The Old Crevet Bar & Grill" mean?"

#45 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:40 AM:

*rubs ear* It's a fair cop.

#46 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:43 AM:

As for whether anyone is overreacting, this is a classic dynamic of online discussions. One person posts, briefly, looking askance at something. Thirty other people express their opinions, some briefly and some at length. Statements are critiqued and clarified. At which point it's the easiest thing in the world to wade in and announce that Everyone Here Sure Is Making A Big Deal Of This Small Thing. Thank you for straightening us out, O Wise One.

That said, I can't say I'm all that impressed by the gymnastics being performed to explain why a couple of belittling remarks actually mean something entirely opposite to what they say. By themselves the belittling remarks are no big deal; indeed none of this is a big deal. But it's interesting that, in some SFnal feminist circles, unless you are forcefully all about feminism all the time, you're "not at all" feminist.

Note that it would have been perfectly easy for the author to have written, as she did about Avedon's blog, that Making Light isn't constantly focussed on feminist issues. Instead she went out of her way to make, quite clearly, a categorical statement that Making Light is entirely devoid of anything feminist. What this suggests to me is that some people are more interested in having a club, with membership boundaries they can define, than in promulgating ideas to the greater world.

#47 ::: Rachael de Vienne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:43 AM:

Dear Patrick,

I think you misunderstood me.

Yes, men oppress women. Men hurt women. In most of the world women are chattle, possesions and no more.

The answer rests not in yelping over it, but in taking positive action. The solution is a change of heart and mind. This means changing how we act, not merely politically but in our practice.

The most persuasive argument is one's own behaviour. True, consistently treating others with respect, defference, and honour is a much harder road. But it is what works.

Do I mean to say there is no room for strongly voiced protest? No. Part of 'doing right' is that we open our mouths, drop our fear, and say, "This is wrong. Stop it!"

But, merely protesting or setting up a social voice that reinforces the wall we wish to tear down will not work. The lesson, 'It is wrong to hit,' is far more effective than 'You hit me, and I'm going to hit you back!'

#48 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:46 AM:

Regarding Tapped, the excellent blog of The American Prospect, I think they started linking to Electrolite back before Making Light even existed. Since all links to Electrolite's front page now automagically go to Making Light, we have no complaints. (Tapped is in fact one of my favorite blogs, leaving aside my evident compulsion to nitpick them on occasion.)

#49 ::: Avery ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:47 AM:

Isn't the problem more an issue of labeling the forum as this or that rather than looking at the ideas expressed there on their own merit? Part of this blog's appeal is that it is not just the same thing ground to a fine powder every day for your reading pleasure.

Maybe things would be different if Teresa did bronze casting as her artistic outlet.

#50 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:50 AM:

Or if she shouted "K'plah!" when finishing a knitted Batleth sheath or something.

#51 ::: rams ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:53 AM:

Screw that. Teresa, got any views about Trekking XXL vs. Regia vs. Opal?

#52 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:56 AM:

Patrick,

If you didn't want a thread, perhaps this should've been a Sidelight. If that wouldn't have drawn sufficient attention, perhaps you should've posted but disabled comments. Since you have a good understanding of the dynamics of on-line communities, I find it a tad disingenous for you to be shocked that people have behaved in an easily foreseeable manner. That said, I do agree the original posting was a tad snarky in its phrasing (unless it was the typo others have hypothesized).

However (and this here is the meat of the issue for me), I stand by my comment above that "feminism" has come, wrongly, to mean all things female to all people and my suspicion that a similar sentiment may have motivated the original poster.

(I also suspect there might be a little inside baseball going on here, but that's just a suspicion and I could be wrong.)

#53 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:56 AM:

Rachel: I don't misunderstand you at all. You're promulgating a bunch of silly falsehoods about what "feminism" means. I'm pointing out that they're false.

#54 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:57 AM:

Silly Xopher, Batleths don't have sheaths!

rams: I'm not Teresa, would that I were, but my favorite sock yarn ever is Blue Moon's Socks That Rock. As far as I'm concerned, it's a foolproof cure for second-sock syndrome.

#55 ::: Neil Rest ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:58 AM:

There's “doing feminism”, and then there's life (which, of course, is what feminism is about, after all). “Feminists” who do nothing but feminism seem to me a bit dubious.
But feminists (regardless of gender) doing Life go about with certain implicit attitudes, which colors everything else.

Avedon, for instance, wanders back and forth as the breezes take her. Making Light rarely focuses on directly feminist bits (meaning that I can't recall any at the moment, but that that's no guarantee of anything), but it's clear nonetheless. If anything, having “knitting” in the subhead is a lovely, genteel display of Attitude; “I am unconstrained by your categories, ascriptions, or associations”.


Excuse me. Why are we having this thread?

#56 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:00 PM:

"I find it a tad disingenous for you to be shocked that people have behaved in an easily foreseeable manner."

I'm not remotely shocked. I was making mild fun of the predictability of it all. When I'm actually shocked I'll let you know.

#57 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:01 PM:

Silly Xopher, Batleths don't have sheaths!

They're called "redshirts."

"Where's the Away Team?"
"They went away."

#58 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:01 PM:

Fair enough.

#59 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:02 PM:

adamsj: I understand what you're saying. But I'm one of those women who gets very damn sick of people saying, "oh look she's knitting how cute" or "you're so brave to knit in public, it's so nice to see young women doing that" or other varieties of smug head-patting. Nobody says that a man is special for liking cars, but a woman who knits is pointed at.

#60 ::: Rachael de Vienne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:04 PM:

Well, I don't want to argue with you. My impression is that you and Terresa practice what works. I mean that you base your relationship on your principals.

All I'm saying is that there are feminists who have a strident voice but don't practice what they want for themselves. This isn't real feminism. It won't repair our broken society to merely yell. And it isn't helpful to show disrespect to those who make the principals of equality work.

The test of belief rests in putting our belief into practice. I'm advocating putting the belief in equality into practice.

And umm it's Rachael, not Rachel.

#61 ::: Rachael de Vienne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:06 PM:

I really should proof read before I post, shouldn't I?

princpals=principles.

#62 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:09 PM:

TexAnne...you're right. That was culturally insensitive.

Wait, wait! That's worse, isn't it? Let me try again.

TexAnne, I will show you my Batleth sheath...which will be your heart!!!! Q'apla!!!! *the battle is joined*

#63 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:10 PM:

Patrick, Making Light was listed as one of "at least 16 of these blogs are by people that I know identify as feminists and do good feminist work of a variety of sorts." That just plain contradicts "not at all feminist", so I don't think it's unreasonable to figure the latter was a mistake.

If Debbie ever gets around to replying to the comments, we'll find out.

#64 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:11 PM:

Trekking XXL vs. Regia vs. Opal

Those are sock yarns? I thought they were WWE wrestlers!

#65 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:13 PM:

Xopher: You can sheathe your Batleth in my heart if you must--just don't get those sharp edges anywhere NEAR my knitting.

#66 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:14 PM:

Yes, they're the autoflagellant yarns. (Self-striping, you know.)

#67 ::: Laura Quilter ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:14 PM:

Well, I didn't think it was gymnastics to point out that there was an obvious contradiction in the top of the post ("feminists") and the description ("not at all a feminist blog"), and to suggest that where there is an obvious contradiction one reads the whole text to ascertain the author's intent. We run into this all the time in legal circles and have an entire set of canons of "statutory interpretation" dedicated to divining the intent of legislators despite their awkward and/or internally inconsistent language. Occasionally Congress goes back and fixes some obvious error. Luckily bloggers are faster.

#68 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:15 PM:

Oops. Rachael, not Rachel. I'm usually good at spelling proper names, but I consistently fluff that one. Bad sector, no doubt; as ever, I look forward to the release (shortly before the Singularity) of Norton Brain Doctor.

My objection boils down to this: you seem to be defining "feminism" as everything ineffective ever done by anyone who called themself a feminist, while appropriating for something called "peopleism" everything admirable and good. This seems to me unwise and, also, unfair.

Also, while I agree that good behavior in our own lives can be a force that inspires positive change in others, it seems to me that, throughout much of history, rather more reforms were accomplished by "strident" people who "yelped" a whole heck of a lot. Quietly dignified virtue only gets you so far.

#69 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:21 PM:

*puts down Batleth*

TexAnne, could you come here for a moment please?

*thwack*

(only because ajay is busy)

#70 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:26 PM:

PNH, possible mnemonic help: Rachael is like Michael, Rachel is like Michel.

(The names aren't actually related in that way, but the spellings are analagous.)

#71 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:32 PM:

The Civil Rights fight, for example, Patrick?

#72 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:33 PM:

Or the War of Independence...

#73 ::: Rachael de Vienne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:33 PM:

Dear Patrick,

I think our difference is only one of emphasis. Choosing to call effective feminism "peopleism" was probably a mistake. It was misleading, apparently.

And my gripe isn't with a strident voice only. It's with those who only have a strident voice but don't practice their principles. I believe in a firmly stated "this is wrong; stop!" It takes more than a "stop." It takes consequences for failing to stop.

I think I'm a conservative revolutionary. Confusing? Maintaining good social values is important to me. Kindness, consideration, respect, even-handed treatment of others are key to how I try to live. I'd like to see the social structures that hurt humans all torn down. So, I'm a conservative revolutionary. I don't know how else to describe it.

Before a social structure is collapsed, there should be something to replace it. Hopefully, it would be something that works.

#74 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:41 PM:

Patrick: you did sound a bit ungracious, while Rachael had every right to say what she did -- quite well, too.

[Now I'll duck and run, quaking with cowardice after daring to criticize.]

#75 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:49 PM:

It's gracious to trash feminism--to define it as "fostering enduring conflict"--but "ungracious" to point out that this is nonsense. Noted.

I really am annoyed now, so I'll stop.

#76 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:52 PM:

TexAnne - "second sock syndrome"?

#77 ::: Rachael de Vienne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:56 PM:

I am sorry I upset you. I can see that I didn't phrase what I meant in an understandable way. What I wrote drew your focus to things unmeant.

Additional explanations would only make it worse, I think.

I offer my profoundest apologies.

#78 ::: FungiFromYuggoth ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:57 PM:

I am reminded of yesterday's Altercation: The purpose of intellectuals is to defend the language (referenced to Susan Sontag and Nadine Gordimer).

#79 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:57 PM:

As for the knitting - good grief, what's wrong with knitting?

Nothing is wrong with knitting, but given the incredibly broad range of topics here, and the vanishing infrequency of actual posts about knitting, it makes it sound like an awfully shallow review. Like, as in, didn't get past the subtitle shallow. I mean, if I were going to mention non-political oddball topics in Making Light, I would think of rip off artists who prey on would-be writers, favorite solecisms in everyday reading, Mormon cooking, or even the occurrence of guinea pigs in religious art of the last supper, before I mentioned *knitting*. So it just makes this Debbie person look like she couldn't even be arsed with reading Cliffs notes.

#80 ::: John C ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:59 PM:

Thank you for straightening us out, O Wise One.

Point.

That said, I can't say I'm all that impressed by the gymnastics being performed to explain why a couple of belittling remarks actually mean something entirely opposite to what they say. ... Instead she went out of her way to make, quite clearly, a categorical statement that Making Light is entirely devoid of anything feminist.

I don't think that is clear at all. As has been pointed out, she indicated there were 16 blogs that "do good feminist work of a variety of sorts." She followed this up with a list of 16 blogs, including ML at the top of the list. It's hardly a stretch to conclude she believes ML is one of these blogs that "do good feminist work."

So no, it's not that I believe people are overreacting. I think some are misinterpreting the intent. Whether willfully or no, I'm increasingly unsure.

#81 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 12:59 PM:

joann: You see a nifty yarn or a fabulous pattern. You just hafta try it right then at that very second. You finish the first sock, put it on, and are filled with a sense of accomplishment. Then you remember you have two feet and feel put-upon because you just made a sock, why do you have to do it again?

#82 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:02 PM:

I agree with Patrick. He began by saying that Rachael's statements were well-intentioned. I thought his criticisms were very gently phrased.

I think it's easy to forget that people wearing the label 'feminist' - or being tarred with it - won women many of the rights they enjoy today. It is just not OK to disparage feminism as 'fostering enduring conflict'. (Saying it's not OK isn't the same as saying you have no right to do it; people have a right to do all sorts of offensive things.)

It reminds me of the behavior of young gay men these days. Many of them seem to have no idea about what life was like for gay people even twenty years ago, laugh at those of us who are still inhibited about PDA (no, not palms) because we remember being beaten up for it, and complain that their GSAs are weak, with no idea that GSAs would have been unHEARDof when I was in high school, or that you could actually be expelled from a public school for being too queer.

I'm actually, in the abstract, glad that they live in a world where such ignorance is possible. It's what we fought for, after all. But on a personal level it makes me angry.

Similarly, when young women tell me "I'm not a feminist" in the tone they'd use to say "I'm not a Satanist," it pisses me off. I want to say "Then of course you won't be going to college, because naturally you'll be marrying whomever your father picks, right?" And things of that nature.

#83 ::: Rachael de Vienne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:16 PM:

Well, I thought I was done with this, but I see I'm not.

What I actually said was: "As may hold it, feminism fosters enduring conflict." It seems to me that this is a qualified statement. It does not paint feminism or even the majority of feminists as interested in or fostering conflict. And isn't the point of feminism to bring equality? Isn't the point of equality to bring a resolution of conflict? To bring fairness? When we reach the point that only a rare, hard, reactionary spirit sees women as property or less than human we wonít have conflict. The point of human rights is to end conflict on the basis of justice, isnít it?

If language means anything, then the qualifier is important. If it means nothing, then you may understand what you wish from my statement.

I'm not afraid of criticism. But, let's at least be plain in what I did write. My intention was to praise what I see as a practical application of principles on this blog. That was my only intent. I neither criticized the Patrick nor the person who posted about this blog. I didnít say feminism was useless or wrong. I said, that those who are only interested in the conflict, but not its resolution are wrong. Thatís it.

I may have said it badly. For that Iím sorry. Iím not sorry for my views.

#84 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:18 PM:

"I think it's easy to forget that people wearing the label 'feminist' - or being tarred with it - won women many of the rights they enjoy today. It is just not OK to disparage feminism as 'fostering enduring conflict'. (Saying it's not OK isn't the same as saying you have no right to do it; people have a right to do all sorts of offensive things.)"

In my view, this is precisely right, both inside and outside the parentheses.

That said, it wasn't Rachael's remarks that really annoyed me; apologies are unnecessary.

#85 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:19 PM:

People have no memory, Xopher.

#86 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:21 PM:

Similarly, when young women tell me "I'm not a feminist" in the tone they'd use to say "I'm not a Satanist," it pisses me off. I want to say "Then of course you won't be going to college, because naturally you'll be marrying whomever your father picks, right?" And things of that nature.

Well, but that's a whole different ball of spaghetti, right there. Honest to Pete, I have absolutely no idea whether I'm a feminist or not.
It mostly seems to depend on who I'm talking to, and how they parse "feminist," and there seem to be as many readings on that word as there are readers to have them. At least. Sometimes saying "I am not a feminist," is simply distancing yourself from the last person who tried to load you down with a bunch of Theory-with-a-capital-T-laden, neo-Freudian, Post Modern hoo hah when you were just trying to explain why you took your husband's last name. There are way too many Feminists with degrees in junk think from Comparative Literature programs that haven't gotten over Derrida yet for me to be entirely comfortable calling myself a feminist, even though I probably am one.

#87 ::: Rachael de Vienne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:22 PM:

This is not my day for spelling well. I meant, "as many hold it ..."

It would have been better writen as "many practice it."

#88 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:24 PM:

What does the qualifier "As may hold it" mean?

#89 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:26 PM:

Rachael: You're right, your remark that "feminism fosters enduring conflict" was stripped from a sentence that began "As many hold it".

However, the whole thing came from a comment which began by setting up an opposition between "feminism" and "peopleism". It's true that some of the reaction hereabouts has been a bit severe, but labels are important, as the Mensheviks discovered too late.

#90 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:30 PM:

"There are way too many Feminists with degrees in junk think from Comparative Literature programs that haven't gotten over Derrida yet for me to be entirely comfortable calling myself a feminist, even though I probably am one."

Beware. Down that road lies being Jonathan Chait.

#91 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:36 PM:

I overinterpreted your statements, Rachael. I'm sorry.

#92 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 01:50 PM:

I'll chime in with Lucy, Madeline, and Matt; I read it as they did. Given the context (a list of feminist SF blogs) what the actual words say (not at all feminist) is impossible. Author was clearly having a bad brain day and probably at some point will come back, read it, and go "what the hell did I write there?"

#93 ::: Thena in Maine ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 02:00 PM:

Finally, a knitting thread! (Ok, it isn't really, but it's a knitting sub-thread on a mostly unrelated topic, which is what I like about this group.)

(I'm 2/3 of the way through my very first sock, and I think I've done something wonky in the tension on the heel. But I don't care. Because it looks more or less sock-like, and the second one will maybe not be so lumpy.)

I'm using Magic Stripes, and by gum, it's stripey. *wide-eyed gaaaaaze*


#94 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 02:00 PM:

Pairing "feminism" with "strident", implicity contrasting it to "mature", and offering instead an ambiguous invented word, is not doing anyone any favors. Classic example of dividing a dangerous group into several parts and setting them to eat each other. "Oh, I'm not one of those morally immature people only interested in strife... But what about Betty over there?!"

I think you've got noble goals, Rachael, but your tactics are counterproductive. As in any group of humans, there are some jerk feminists. The way to win is to make it clear that the jerk feminists are only a tiny part of the group, and the main point of the group isn't jerkish. Shrug and fight on.

#95 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 02:08 PM:

"Second sock syndrome" = lots of Christmas (or whenever) stockings.

Well, at least they'll get used.

(Somewhere I have a couple of sock projects. I just don't know which box(es) they're in.)

#96 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 02:14 PM:

P J Evans, only that you've got them socked away somewhere?

#97 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 02:21 PM:

Xopher: I need to give you a copy of the button I saw the other day:

"I'm an incorrigible Punster. Please don't incorrige me."

#98 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 02:22 PM:

*aims death-ray of yarniness at Xopher, adjusts setting to mohair*

#99 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 02:23 PM:

You see a nifty yarn or a fabulous pattern. You just hafta try it right then at that very second. You finish the first sock, put it on, and are filled with a sense of accomplishment. Then you remember you have two feet and feel put-upon because you just made a sock, why do you have to do it again?

So this time you can do it right?

I've noticed that in many sorts of projects, the first one is never quite right; it's only when I'm doing it again that I figure out the shortcuts necessary to make it really work. (Frex, many recipes are badly organized and you end up taking twice as much time the first outing because you made stuff in the wrong order.)

Also, the second time takes less time simply because of familiarity. The first time I walk somewhere (or even drive it), it seems to take forever; subsequent trips seem much faster.

OTOH, my second-sock syndrome kicks in before the first sock, as it were. I don't knit; I do occasionally sew, and have discovered that for me, the real rush is picking out the pattern, and getting the material and the notions. At that point, the project seems to acquire a weird finished-ness that it's sometimes really hard to get past to get the thing actually made. But then, software is sorta like that, too, sometimes.

#100 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 02:23 PM:

Beware. Down that road lies being Jonathan Chait.

Well, possibly. But just because I'm not entirely comfortable with it, doesn't mean I don't ever call myself a feminist. You're right that I should probably do it more often, if only to assert my own understanding of the word, but when you hang out with a lot of academics and their tendency to turn all nouns into terms of art, it's easy to slip into the habit of needing to make distinctions before you make assertions.

#101 ::: d ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 02:23 PM:

rather more reforms were accomplished by "strident" people who "yelped" a whole heck of a lot. Quietly dignified virtue only gets you so far.

AND

Pairing "feminism" with "strident", implicity contrasting it to "mature", and offering instead an ambiguous invented word, is not doing anyone any favors.

Word. Thanks.

Intended or not, "strident" is a word long-used to criticize (or worse) women who have the audacity to not shut up and act like ladies. Fuck that.

And, re: knitting socks: Auto-stripes! Yes! I love that yarn. Dang, people think those stripes are hot shit, don't they? Which is awfully inspiring for making sure you do that second sock. And sock-knitting is so incredibly portable, I love that about it too.

Regards from,
a strident, knitting feminist

#102 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 02:24 PM:

Ooo, ooo. Fidelio's gonna knit us a mohair Xopher.

#103 ::: P J evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 02:27 PM:

Xopher: ooowww!

#104 ::: Patrick Connors ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 03:38 PM:

What we really need as a guide for those who absolutely must categorize Making Light is an archive copy of the RASSEF FAQ, or similar. That'll get their heads spinning, or exploding.

I just re-read that FAQ, though and there's absolutely no mention of d*nosaur s*d*my. Ah for the days when we were young and unspoiled, yet to experience the sensuous thrills of, well, you know.

#105 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 03:42 PM:

Bif! Sock! Whammo!

#106 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 03:45 PM:

Bif! Sock! Whammo!

Zappa's grandkids? What are they up to now?

#107 ::: John C ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 03:47 PM:

For the record, Debbie has responded, and apologized, in her own thread.

Also, I apologize for any snarkiness in my previous posts. As I said, I have great respect for this site, and am a long time lurker - I don't know why I felt compelled to post in this particular thread, after years of silence. I shall now return to lurking. :)

#108 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 03:52 PM:

Rams, I expect that the Sock Thing will someday possess me, as it does all knitters, but it hasn't yet. Speaking therefore only as an observer, I'll say that Trekking XXL stripes nicely over short rows, and I like the effects produced by Regia, but Opal's a bridge too far. It may look like Fair Isle from a distance, but up close it's like a multigeneration xerox image breakdown.

#109 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 03:57 PM:

the Sock Thing will someday possess me

That sounds like the last line from Samurai Cat's poof of Lovecraft.

#110 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 04:04 PM:

Ooo, ooo. Fidelio's gonna knit us a mohair Xopher.

"Fidelio made me a homosexual."
"If I get her the mohair, will she make me one too?"

#111 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 04:10 PM:

IANA knitter, but happily married to one; and the Sock Thing has definitely been lurking around the place lately.

In particular, I've been privileged to observe the genesis of a Toe Up, which I now understand is called that because it gets to'e up about five times before it can properly get underway.

#112 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 04:20 PM:

yay! Knitting (sub)thread!

I'm working on a string bag, and trying to figure out how to do Turkish stitch in the round. I can't seem to produce the pattern right, and if I don't figure it out in the next few days, I'm throwing my hands up in the air and using a different pattern.

I have a lot of sock wool and patterns and plans, but very few (2) finished socks. They took me 3 years.

I'm planning on the next pair from Priscilla Gibbons-Roberts Simple Socks book, in Paton's Kroy, or in Magic Stripes using a pattern that has a lettuce edge at the top.

#113 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 04:35 PM:

Teresa knits?

#114 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 04:38 PM:

Teresa knits?

Notonly that, but she spins a mean yarn too.

#115 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 04:43 PM:

I had a conversation with a brilliant, wonderful writer, at WisCon, where he told me rather defensively that he wasn't a feminist, because he had not experienced what it is like to be a woman in our culture, and he didn't want to claim to represent them. I let it go because I still think he's a good guy, and I didn't see any point in arguing with him. Maybe he was being overly modest. But I thought the word feminist meant a supporter of women's rights. If we required gender-specific nouns to separately classify male and female feminists, that wouldn't be very feminist, would it?

I would be rather suspect of anyone who claims to be only a humanist or a feminist and not both. If they are humanist and not feminist, they're not very aware of the last few thousand years of human history, or their humanism is more theoretical than real. Conversely, if they are feminist and not humanist, they're missing out on some valuable friends and allies. We're all in this together.

#116 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 04:55 PM:

I had a conversation with a brilliant, wonderful writer, at WisCon, where he told me rather defensively that he wasn't a feminist, because he had not experienced what it is like to be a woman in our culture, and he didn't want to claim to represent them. I let it go because I still think he's a good guy, and I didn't see any point in arguing with him. Maybe he was being overly modest. But I thought the word feminist meant a supporter of women's rights.

I would think the same but I've observed supposedly thoughtful and intelligent female feminists effectively saying that men can't be feminists. I try to challenge this attitude when I encounter it because I think it's dumb and counterproductive.

#117 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 04:56 PM:

rather more reforms were accomplished by "strident" people

I've always been strident. If not for that, it would take me twice as long to walk everywhere. Besides...

What?

It doesn't?

Nevermind then.

#118 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 05:01 PM:

Ooo, ooo. Fidelio's gonna knit us a mohair Xopher.
. . .
"Fidelio made me a homosexual."
"If I get her the mohair, will she make me one too?"

Nah, I don't knit in hot weather; also I tend not to finish my knitting projects, and if I started something like that, I'm sure you wouldn't want me to leave the poor thing incomplete.

I'm impressed by everyone's restraint on the possibilities of the mohair pun, especially given Xopher's coiffure.

#119 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 05:04 PM:

Rats! Missed that. Too late now.

#120 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 05:05 PM:

Xopher's coiffure

You mean, the Luthor hairdo, Fidelio?

#121 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 05:06 PM:

Hey, it's the Egghead Geek look. Only my egghead REALLY looks like an egg...

#122 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 05:09 PM:

Not mohair, but nohair?

#123 ::: Debbie Notkin ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 05:12 PM:

The problem with how good Making Light is, is that when you want to get in to apologize you're 103 comments down (122 once the server problems are fixed!) That's a testament to how good this space is.

I can only say that I was crafting that piece as I went, the tone of it changed, and I made the classic error of not going back to conform myself to the way I finished up.

As I said there and will say anywhere: Making Light is an incredibly valuable and important blog which I read and appreciate, and it is written by feminists and reflects feminist values.

I'm a twit. Why I'm so frequently a twit with the Nielsen Haydens, whom I value personally an enormous amount, is not clear to me, and I wish I understood it.

'Nuff said?

#124 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 05:24 PM:

tomb,

I would be rather suspect of anyone who claims to be only a humanist or a feminist and not both. If they are humanist and not feminist, they're not very aware of the last few thousand years of human history, or their humanism is more theoretical than real.

first, it's "i would suspect," or "i would be suspicious." (sorry)

second, maybe they're feminists but not humanists because they don't discriminate against animals. i have heard of people like that.

i'm a feminist, but i don't know if i'm a humanist because i haven't studied the beliefs of humanism. i'm uh, for poeple, though.

#125 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 05:48 PM:

In fact, it never occurred to me that the un-surnamed "Debbie" who wrote that post on "Feminist SF--The Blog!" might be Debbie Notkin. If I'd known, I would have been a lot more generous in my reading of it.

This probably says one or two good things about me, and several bad ones.

#126 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 05:54 PM:

I get really nervous around Internet discussions of feminism ever since last spring when I was violently flamed for having the temerity to stand up to someone who claimed that the experiences of male victims of sexual violence did not matter as much as those of female rape victims.

#127 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 06:00 PM:

Good gravy. Yep, I too had no idea that "Debbie" was Debbie Notkin. If I had, I could have guessed from context that the bit of business about knitting and craftiness came out of knowing too much about Teresa's interests to track what has been said here as opposed to elsewhere, rather than not knowing anything at all. Well, I'm a doof.

#128 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 06:07 PM:

Pat Greene: Holy cow, really? Eeeeww.

#129 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 06:09 PM:

Nancy C: Ah, but are the two socks a pair? If not, join the club. Right now I have 2 finished socks from different pairs, with the mates on the needles, and one poor lonely little almost-finished singleton. Along with the skillions and whillions of other UFOs, but we won't go into that. It's almost entirely Teresa's fault. (See below.)

Teresa: Succumb to the lure of the Sock Thing. It's only fair, considering that it was your offhand mention of the party trick in War and Peace that made me yearn to know how they did that.

#130 ::: Annalee Flower Horne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 06:11 PM:

...wait-- you can't be a femenist if you like knitting?

And here I thought all it took was recognizing that women and men are fundamentally equal in value and deserving of equal rights and protections under the law. I guess I missed the purled ceiling. I'm glad someone pointed it out, because I would have gone all my life thinking I was a femenist.

Apparantly, women who really believe in equal rights for everyone know that they have to dedicate all their time to discussing how oppressed they are. All other interests--like knitting-- are for boys. Duh.

#131 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 06:18 PM:

And also, to Debbie: What I thought was smug was really a fellow geek waxing enthusiastic about a very important part of life. Please accept my apologies.

#132 ::: Rachael de Vienne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 06:20 PM:

My father's mother liked to knit. She did good work. My mother's mother and her sisters crocheted beautifully. I value the pieces of their making that have come my way.

I fancy crochet and tatting myself, but I'm not adept. The gene of thread and steady eye was not passed my way.

#133 ::: Heatherly ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 06:26 PM:

I state that I'm a feminist in every circumstance save for those exceptions which could endanger my personal safety...or sanity (and/or negatively impact my ability to serve my clients). Unfortunately, those exceptions still occur with marked frequency.
Many of the people I work with, from various cultural settings but usually lower socio-economic backgrounds, still DO consider feminism akin to communism, Satanism, socialism and other 'evils.' For most of them, feminism isn't equality, feminism is 'special rights', just like affirmative action and absolutely anything relating to homosexuality, or 'those people'. Feminism isn't about reforming social power structures, it's 'destroying family values.'
Of course...I do live about three blocks from the home base of Publish America (literally!), so this is a slightly more conservative area than some. :)

#134 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 07:35 PM:

miriam beetle, thanks. I meant "I would be suspicious".

I'm a firm believer that animals are much smarter and more complex than we understand or would like to acknowledge. But I don't think that has anything to do with humanism, in the same way that being a feminist does not imply any bias against men.

I could imagine a feminist non-humanist who is comfortable with social inequality based on class, race, or belief, as long as the genders are treated (or mistreated) the same.

#135 ::: Vian ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 07:47 PM:

On admitting to the dreadful and incurable condition of being a feminist: One of the best comebacks I was ever witness to involved the F word.

There was a dialogue on admitting women to the Catholic priesthood (I am not a Catholic; of course I realise now I wasn't then).

So, there's Archbishop (now Cardinal) George Pell, holding a forum and announcing some of his best friends are women, and so on. Basically, he had stopped taking my questions on whether a woman was the spiritual equal of a man in the eyes of God, which was lucky because I was this close to asking him whether a dick was a magic wand for turning wine into blood ...

Towards the end of the encounter, he was only taking questions from men. So the friend I'd gone with (gay, male, practicing) asked a polite version of my question for me.

"Well," began ponderous Pell, "A feminist might accuse me of that ... "

"I am a feminist."

The silence was golden. The laughter after it was platinum, studded with diamonds and wrought into a really nice hair toy.

#136 ::: Steff Z ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 08:44 PM:

There's a simple way to avoid the dreaded Second Sock problem:
knit them both at the same time.

It takes very little time to learn how,
thanks to this excellent how-to page:

How to knit with two circulars

Knitting them at the same time makes it easy to knit two socks that match, exactly. Same stripe pattern, number of rows, places where pattern elements start, you name it.

Also, toe-up socks are great. You can try one on as you go, and no grafting at the end of the project. Just one knot each sock. Best of all, no *seams* [shudder] at the toes -- automatic deluxe smooth lump-free toesies.

#137 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 09:11 PM:

Debbie, no, you are not a twit. Not nohow, not ever.

Intended or not, "strident" is a word long-used to criticize (or worse) women who have the audacity to not shut up and act like ladies. Fuck that.

Got that right. I want a button (remember buttons...?) that says Strident Feminist.

#138 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 09:28 PM:

Apparantly, women who really believe in equal rights for everyone know that they have to dedicate all their time to discussing how oppressed they are. All other interests--like knitting-- are for boys. Duh.

Only girly interests are for boys. Feminist girls are supposed to have, um, boyly interests. Let me loan you this torque wrench from another thread.

Seriously: while I don't knit with yarn, just metal, the population of sewing machines - speaking of girly hobbies - in my house is equal to the population of humans and the population of cats combined: five sewing machines and five living beings. If you just count my personal living space, we three are actually outnumbered by the four machines. And I am surely a feminist.

#139 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 09:32 PM:

Steff: yeah, I know, but then I couldn't stuff 'em in my purse. (There's just no pleasing some people...)

#140 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 09:38 PM:

Susan -- cool. Does that mean you are also a machinist?

#141 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 10:01 PM:

1. Meseemeth that there was a certain amount of semantic dissonance in effect.


2. If the first sock is the oddball... knit three and give the first to the SFWA Auction?

#142 ::: flaring ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 10:04 PM:

Susan's got car-fu.

#143 ::: Sean Bosker ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 10:13 PM:

I forget that there are non-feminist points of view sometimes. I mean, I know there are, and that sexism is alive and well, but sometimes I feel like calling oneself a feminist is like calling oneself an abolitionist. Whenever I hear it, I think, "Well, yeah. I mean, of course."

#144 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:43 PM:

TexAnne,

They are an actual matching pair, and I even matched the stripes. I've got about 10 more pairs of socks in the wool ball form, and a shawl, and a sweater, and that doesn't even account for the embroidery, or the clothes I want to sew, or the floor loom and spinning wheel that I really need to learn how to use. I promised my boyfriend a floor rug or two because he moved a 5' floor loom made of Canadian maple not once, but twice, and he wants more than a kitchen towel in stripes for all that work.

And of course, the stuff I plan to make with the materials I haven't even bought yet.

Yes, I am a fibergeek. I'm thinking of making a shirt....

#145 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:46 PM:

I, er, came to this blog in the first place because of the knitting description. I didn't know anything about anything then! Forgive me! But this, quite possibly, is the first by-any-stretch-of-the-imagination knitting post since then...

Steff Z -- I was gonna suggest that! Knitting two socks at once was how I survived making two pairs of bulky-weight tube-sock moccasins in a month (wedding presents). Except the "inside sock" stitches I always knit a little looser than the "outside sock", resulting in a significant length difference if I don't occasionally swap their positions.

Am I really dense, though? It sounded like you were saying that the "two circulars" instruction was something to do with two socks at once, but I couldn't see anything about two socks at once when I read the page...

Current projects: Finishing up the Crazy Margaritaville Parrot socks for a friend (they're knee-high now and waiting for me to graft off the fold-over cuffs and buy a little bit of black ribbon for use as garters), and contemplating six balls of Cascade Fixation and the allure of a home-knit bathing suit. Actually, five balls; the cats made off with the sixth. I'm sure it'll turn up someday.

#146 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:50 PM:

On that note... this.

I don't know that I have the figure to wear it... but hot damn I want to knit it.

#147 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 11, 2006, 11:53 PM:

I would make striped socks if I found yarn that had colors I like. Like variations on purple, red, and green.

#148 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 12:02 AM:

I, er, came to this blog in the first place because of the knitting description.

It is probably true that a construction like "Language, knitting, hamsters, Catherine of Siena,* infused oils, that thing over there, second from the left, and excursions into Middle English" would produce a different histogooglegram**. Though it might well, in the long term, accrete the same galaxy, or at least one of similar luminosity.

*Example only. YStMV.
**Overuse of antihistograms can actually aggravate congestion in the sample space, and produce severe sinusoidal pain. This is not medical advice, though it owns a white coat.

#149 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 12:11 AM:

I don't know if it's just a Kansas City thing, but I have no use for the 'feminists' I''ve met in my life.

They usually dismiss me because I've got a happy marriage and therefore have to be a brainwashed clone. I beg to differ but they're usually so impossible that I just refuse to waste my time.

Or they're very insistent and again get my disdain. I have a very wonderful husband, someone who is likely much like Patrick in attitude from what I can tell. So I've just about totally washed my hands of that whole issue.

Joke 'em if they can't take a fsck.

#150 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 12:38 AM:

Patrick: Yeah, it was pretty unpleasant. Because I dared suggest that the male victims of sexual violence mattered, I was called a troll and a tool of the Patriarchy. There are people out there who I wish would not call themselves feminists, thank you very much, because it makes it so much harder for the rest of us.

#151 ::: Steff Z ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 01:29 AM:

Socks.
Two at once, once you've got them properly cast on, works a lot like one at a time, except with two balls of yarn.

When it's just one, you've got the "tube" you're knitting flattened out and strung on two needles. You knit one half of a round and run out of needle. You turn the whole set-up 180 degrees, and knit the second half of the row. Turn it all around again. Repeat.

For two, you've got both flattened tubes strung on the two needles, next to each other. You knit half of one round of Tube 1 on the first needle, you switch to the other ball of yarn, and knit half of Tube 2. And run out of needle. Turn the whole (now! more tangly) unit 180 degrees, and knit the second half of the row at that end of the project, which is, necessarily, still Tube 2. Again switch yarn, and knit the second half of the round on Tube 1. Turn and repeat.

Obvious mayhem ensues when you forget to switch yarn. Your socks become conjoined twins instead of independent entities. Luckily, this is obvious, and rarely requires un-knitting ('tink'ing) more than a few stitches.

It is not cheating to use more than 2 needles to get set up, with the two objects lined up properly to start out. The extra needles can even be a different size, though of course the closer the better. One row knitted on a needle one size up or down won't be noticeable.

And nearly any knitting on nice bendy circulars fits into a purse better than a bundle of double-points.
I spent hours once, in Fry's, knitting two socks (with the balls of yarn still in my purse). I would otherwise have gone batshit. After I get past the electronic parts and tools and fasteners and fun stuff, and I'm marched along (too, too slowly) through the consumer electronics and office supplies (like, you know, keyboards, or thumb drives) and household appliances, I glaze over at Fry's.
And of course at Boeing Surplus, I left the knitting in the car.

#152 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 04:36 AM:

"...a Tiergartendirektor (Zooheadkeeper) who became seized of a desire to knit a pink sock.

Some time later, unable to envisage a method of turning the heel, he postponed the moment of crisis by amending his ambition to that of knitting a pink stocking.

After several months of knitting, he offered the resulting tube to the Zoo as a warm collar for use by Wintergiraffen.

The zoo's rejection drove him to a pitch of unparalleled Woolological frenzy which continued uninterrupted for nineteen years. The end product, a pink knitted tube some 100,453m in length, was divided among the victorious Allies at the Treaty of Versailles."

#153 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 06:27 AM:

**Overuse of antihistograms can actually aggravate congestion in the sample space, and produce severe sinusoidal pain. This is not medical advice, though it owns a white coat.

Sinusoidal pain can be treated with Cotangentenol, now available from Fourier et Cie; a qualified doctor must cosine the prescription. Side effects may involve complex transformations or imaginary ringing.

I'll, uh, go work on histograms of galaxy luminosity now.

#154 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 07:50 AM:

Pat Greene: Because I dared suggest that the male victims of sexual violence mattered, I was called a troll and a tool of the Patriarchy.

I've run into this concept frequently in my travels, and I HATE it. It's pernicious. On its surface, it says that men don't matter, which is bad enough. But what underlies it is the idea that sexual victimization is inherently gendered: the experience belongs to women, and is the rightful legacy of women, and that anyone attempting to discuss it as a shared human legacy is trying to take something away from us.

Ick.

#155 ::: Bryan ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:03 AM:

" But what underlies it is the idea that sexual victimization is inherently gendered: the experience belongs to women"

There are two components of the idea:

1. That male on male sexual violence is not as important as male on female (sometimes people who think this seem to have a the guys have it coming attitude)

2. That female on male sexual violence is non-existent. an absurdist fable.

#156 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 09:07 AM:

!!!!!!

It did briefly occur to me that Debbie might be Debbie Notkin, but I dismissed the thought out of hand. It didn't seem like her writing style. So much for my style analyzer.

#157 ::: Sam Dodsworth ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 09:17 AM:

But what underlies it is the idea that sexual victimization is inherently gendered: the experience belongs to women.

Perhaps the point is that, under patriarchy, sexual victimization _is_ gendered because it's part of the systematic oppression of women? Telling a feminist that sexual violence isn't gendered is like telling a young Black man that stop-and-search isn't racist.

#158 ::: Rivka ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 09:24 AM:

I have no use for the 'feminists' I''ve met in my life. They usually dismiss me because I've got a happy marriage and therefore have to be a brainwashed clone. I beg to differ but they're usually so impossible that I just refuse to waste my time.

Great! Now all we need is someone to post about how feminists reject women who shave their legs, and we'll have collected the whole set of tired stereotypes.

#159 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:19 AM:

Susan -- cool. Does that mean you are also a machinist?

Nope. I knit chainmail. The torque wrench does not pertain to the knitting; it was a loan from the local machine shop back when I was doing serious car engine work. (Broke enough to rebuild one's own engine = too broke to buy one's own torque wrench.) Somewhere I have a girlie-calendar-style picture of me holding it in a mildly suggestive way that I had taken back then, inspired by the calendars in the various auto parts places, garages, and machine shops I was frequenting at the time.

The sewing machines are just for sewing. I have a Sewing Machine Guy who repairs them for me when necessary. The torque wrench, unfortunately, would be overkill.

Susan's got car-fu.

Not anymore, alas. Nowadays I get in touch with my inner macho only through my temporary relationship with a lawnmower and occasional things like carpet removal.

#160 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:26 AM:

No shot of you as Rosie the Riveter on that calendar, Susan?

#161 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:42 AM:

alpher:

That knit swimsuit has some issues for wearability:

1. Consider curves versus the flat panel mid-front, there would be a huge gap between skin and suit there... one piece suits with banding around the waist or nearer to it, or two piece ones, work a LOT better for very curvy forms

2. Shaving or waxing or other depilatory effort... euwwww/ouch!

bethe:

Pathological functions go off in different directions.

gamow:

Statistically there is a lot of skew regarding sexual victimization violence promulgators/victims, and there is more bias when the subjective comments enter about "male victims of sexual victimization."

Usually the situation is that of males trying to play the "we're the only ones who deserve any attention--I've seen way too many discussions where some male jackass barged in with the thinly veiled intent to take control of the discussion by bringing up the topic of male victims and change the venue to exterminate any meaningful discussion or communication other than promoting social views that the way of the world is/should be American Nuclear Family with husband who has a job outside the home and the wife whose life consistes of Kinder, Kuche and Kirche (children, kitchen, and church), and that all the ills of the world derive from people who don't properly comply with that ... and that any woman who is a victim, -deserved- it, and that any man who is the victim of it, is a victim of psychopathology on the part of of the abuser, who is a psychopath caused by failing to properly be compliant to the Only True Natural Social Roles.

(I had a coworker who said one of her husband's friends had decided she was a lush, because her house wasn;t model home pristine. The fact that she worked full-time, had three teenager, and three horses, and her husband did no housework whatsoever despite being a stay at home retiree, registered not at all on the husband's friend as consideration. In the husband's friend's view of the universe, if someone's house weren't model home pristine, the only possible reason was that the wife were a drunk...

The relevance of that above: the husband's friend had that particular worldview of gender roles, and completely rejected any other possibilities/realities.

There -is- victimization of males, but it's statistically way down from the victimization of women. Ideally, what would get looked at would be -victimization- and there were be different categories... but what usually happens, is that Gender gets the attention, not "victimization" and analyzing -patterns-. The patterns of bias in the people discussing and examining the topic is yet another gloss [although, "gloss" tends to connote a lot more benigness that the situation involves...]

People have lots of subjective responses and sensing that are non-linear, example, I was at a DARPA Strategic Space Symposium, years ago, at the Naval Postgraduate Schoo. There were several hundred people present. There were maybe 20 women. "Wow, there are a lot of women here!" I thought, and even as I did so, I recognized the incongruity/warpage-- the percentage of female attendess was 6% or less, the conference was 94 or more percent male, but "there were a lot of women" -- compared to a literal handful of women, 20 was "a lot". Compared to how many men there were, it was a neglible percentage--but there perception was that there were a large number of women present....

That type of skewed perception applies regarding male victims of sexual violence, compared to female victims. Yes, there are male victims, but they get far more notice and attention statistically than the math-without-the-subjective-glosses has. And just like women at military tech conferences two decades ago, they're ordinarily not considered when doing aggregate analysis and planning and consideration, but stick out when looking around the room and noting what doesn't look "normal."

It's exception handling... and in the case of sexual victimization, there is male privileging going on claiming primacy of "men are Important, so you need to focus on the male victims!"

There's a double bind--bring up male sexual victims and there can be lotsof sniggering, or there can be the male supremacists playing head games to rewrite the agenda and rules, or one can be accused of diverting attention from the majority of cases/situations....

There are lots of contextual issues.

The ways out tend to be things like doing models, plural, with the different categories modelled, so that there are models where there are the contributing factors and situations of males victimizing females, females victimizing males, males victimizing males (Voice of the Faithful's focus has mostly been there), and females victimizing females, plus cultural glosses of different cultures and their particular patholigies that affect such things (e.g., religions which don't have altar boys and an all male priesthood, don't have the all-male priests who are pederasts victimizing the altar boys... but other religions have their particular pathological cases deriving from their particular power and clerical structure.. there can still be pederasts in the clergy, but their victimization patterns, don;'t involve having an easily accessible cadre of altar boys they can prey on).

#162 ::: nobody ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:51 AM:

Sam Dodsworth said:

"Perhaps the point is that, under patriarchy, sexual victimization _is_ gendered because it's part of the systematic oppression of women? Telling a feminist that sexual violence isn't gendered is like telling a young Black man that stop-and-search isn't racist."

I can see why people would make that mistake, but it is a category error.

Think Venn diagrams.

'Sexual violence' is one tool that belongs to the set of all oppressive tools. Partriarchies use many items from that set - because they are opressive, not because they are gendered.

'Sexual violence' looks gendered because it violates how we see ourselves as gendered people. This has been the reason why same-sex sexual violence is aborrhent to men: it is a personal violation of their gender identity. The specific kind of damage sexual violence does is gendered, because gender idenity expectations are different in our culture.

The point of 'sexual violence' is that it is an opressive tool, like many other opressive tools, that is still opressive no matter who weilds it. The gender of the weilder of a gun is of no concern to the gun. Making an opressive tool gendered because of its use by a patriarchy logically makes other opressive tools used by a patriarchy, such as wage discrimination gendered also. This is nonsense.

Stop-and-search is opressive by its nature. The fact that it is opressive is the reason why racist cops use it. But if it is opressive by its nature, then even non-Black men would feel threatened by it. Reportedly, this is so.

#163 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:57 AM:

Chainmail.

I don't NEED it.
I wouldn't ever WEAR it.

I don't have the attention span or, alternately, the vast supply of money for things I don't need.

But I want it anyway.

#164 ::: Laura Quilter ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 11:21 AM:

nobody: Interesting point. Relatedly, I have sometimes wondered about the different treatment, in law, of rape/sexual assault, and other forms of serious assault. It's a historical artifact, at least. But is it helpful or harmful to dealing with sexual assaults and patriarchy? I haven't done enough thinking on it to have interesting insights; just questions.

But while I take your point about categories, I think you're missing an important point. Yes, stop-and-search is oppressive; yes, sexual assault is oppressive. But particular tools/oppressive behaviors may be particularly well-suited (historically or for other reasons) to enact particular kinds of oppressions. Rape, for example, may be particularly harmful to women in cultures that place value on a woman's hymen, lack of exposure to male sexuality, etc. And it may be particularly effective for upholding patriarchy because a major element of patriarchy is the insistence on the control of access to women's bodies and reproductive capacity. So for instance, while male-on-male rape has occurred in all sorts of settings historically, it has not been used to perpetuate patriarchy, because it doesn't carry as much of a patriarchal bite.

I'm not disputing your categories; just pointing out that there are other categories you're not considering.

#165 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 11:41 AM:

The wonderful multi-strandiness of this Thread is why I love "Making Light" so much. I'm allergic to wool, gave up crocheting for crossword puzzling long ago, and am prone to gaffes when I try to get into the philosophical/ideological swordfights, but reading this blog is sure a lot of fun!

PS: Hi, Debbie -- long time no see! (almost makes me wish I wasn't too shy/impoverished for con-going).

#166 ::: Sam Dodsworth ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 11:42 AM:

nobody:

I don't think it's a category error so much as a case of missing the implied context. Sexual violence in the abstract is a neutral phenomenon that can be a tool of oppression. Sexual violence here-and-now is part of patriarchy and, because of that, is gendered to the extent that it's overwhelmingly committed by men against women.

We could get around this by insisting on constructions like "sexual violence here-and-now", or "the contemporary use of stop-and-search as an instrument of oppression directed at young black men" but I, for one, feel that life is too short.

(There is, of course, another reason why a feminist might get annoyed at someone who asks "What about sexual violence against men?" It's a standard rhetorical question for anti-feminists who want to deny that there's an unequal power-relation between men and women. Once again, context makes a difference.)


#167 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 11:47 AM:

Not mohair, but nohair?

PERHAPS YOU DID NOT SEE THE POST WHERE I SAID IT WAS TOO LATE NOW.

*pant-hoots, throws small sticks*

#168 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 11:47 AM:

I have no use for the 'feminists' I've met in my life. They usually dismiss me because I've got a happy marriage and therefore have to be a brainwashed clone. I beg to differ but they're usually so impossible that I just refuse to waste my time.

Paula Helm Murray:

You seem like an intelligent person, and I can't assume that you actually hold these views, but your statement could be interpreted in the following ways:

"Feminism must be a stupid idea, because I've met some feminists and didn't get along with them."

"I have lived my entire life in a happy little feminism-free bubble. Feminism has never done anything for me."

#169 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 11:49 AM:

I sort of feel that the idea that men shouldn't call themselves feminists implies that men are somehow incapable of the idea that women are people. This is not a concession I'm willing to make to Teh Patriarchy(TM).

(There's a Henry Rollins quote that sometimes gets pulled out in these discussions - "Guys, be cool and don't call yourself a feminist," because there's really no way a man can ever understand what it's like to be female. I like Rollins, but the sentiment is wrongheaded, if well-intentioned.)

OTOH, I'm a great admirer of fellow male feminists (such as many hereabouts) who don't seem overeager to assert their Feminist Cred, which is something that strikes me as similar to Zen and cool: if you think you have enough of it to draw attention to, you've probably lost it.

#170 ::: OG ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 12:00 PM:

What Paula said. After you've seen any subspecies of troll repeatedly use a tactic, the immediate reaction is to assume anyone saying something similar to be yet another troll.

Rivka, are you sure that we don't also need my personal pet peeve about certain feminists to complete the stereotype set? The "if they don't speak our jargon fluently, they're tools of the patriarchy, and we don't have to take them or their complaints seriously" bunch.

#171 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 12:11 PM:

It was Debbie NOTKIN???? As in, Kith? THAT Debbie Notkin?

Wow, were we wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Owwies.

Sorry Debbie.

I get really nervous around Internet discussions of feminism ever since last spring when I was violently flamed for having the temerity to stand up to someone who claimed that the experiences of male victims of sexual violence did not matter as much as those of female rape victims.

O. My. Frelling. Gods. Fire and Brimstone to that person! Wow. I would certainly have lost my temper and flamed them. If you said anything short of "you should die horribly and afterwards burn in hell forever" you showed great restraint. And the people who flamed you should be ashamed.

Basically, he had stopped taking my questions on whether a woman was the spiritual equal of a man in the eyes of God, which was lucky because I was this close to asking him whether a dick was a magic wand for turning wine into blood...

"If you haven't got a penis then you can't become a priest!
This archaic stipulation should have long ago been ceased.
Faith in God, and Love, and Scripture; men and women both can talk,
And what's more you serve Communion with your hands and not your cock!"

About sewing machines: I may have mentioned here before that when I asked my friend Lenore if she had a sewing machine (because I wanted to borrow one), she said "No, but John [her husband] does." She explained that "John is in charge of the power tools in our family."

#172 ::: nobody ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 12:13 PM:

Sam:
Agreed.

The patriarchy is not the only system of concern. In this thread we see examples of women using the idea of feminism in struggles to control other women on both sides. Intra female conformity conflicts are invisible in struggles constructed to be solely against the patriarchy. (Intra female conformity conflicts may be invisible to males?)

Proposal: other gendered, anti female constructs exist that are not the patriarchy. The continued success of the patriarchy could be attributed to these invisible allies?

#173 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 12:37 PM:

On the other hand...male-on-male sexual violence is not typically a tool the Patriarchy uses to oppress women, at least directly. It IS a tool used to keep men in line, and to assert the structure of the Patriarchy.

Patriarchy isn't just a system where all men have unjustified power over all women. I, for example, have no power over Oprah Winfrey (or I'd give her a good talking to about Deborah Tannen). It's a system in which a few men have unjustified power over all other men and all women.

Men tend to see all relationships, even friendly relationships, as competitive or hierarchy-based (speaking of Tannen). This helps enforce the tendency of men to assert power over other men when possible, and over women whenever they can do it without actually dying on the spot. The structure dictates (and many, many people, chiefly but not only men enthusiastically support the fact) that in a given social class, men will call the shots and women will toe the line.

One of the tools of homophobia is the gang rape of homosexual men and boys (or those who seem like they might be) by "straight" men and boys (where 'boys' includes teens in both cases, and children in the first). The perpetrators don't consider themselves gay for doing it, which I think is more evidence (if any were needed) that rape is about power, not sex.

The punishment of men who transgress against Patriarchally-approved male behavior is key to maintaining the separation of gender roles. Choosing rape as the punishment is a way of saying "if you behave like a woman [sic] we will use you as a woman"—that is, punish you the way the Patriarchy punishes women.

#174 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 12:43 PM:

My dad, as a teenager, caught a camp counselor on a kid and dragged him off. Twice. He even tied up the counselor (good knot-work) but the other counselors let him go. The whole thing was hushed up, and after that my dad never trusted the system. He didn't tell my why until later, but it's why I didn't do scouting as a kid.

Sexual violence against men and boys is real. I don't think there is any difference between a man and a woman in the hurt they feel as a victim.

That having been said, sexual violence against men does not cause the general oppression of women, is not caused by the general oppression of women, and doesn't seem very useful in understanding or explaining why there is general oppression of women. Sexual violence is a problem we need to work on, but it's a different problem than gender-based discrimination.

#175 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 12:44 PM:

wow. no way I can catch up on all the little details of all this, but I think Fragano started the thread out right saying: feminism ... the idea that men and women are equal and deserve equal respect

As for whether ďNot at all a feminist blogĒ is a dig, I think it matters whether you see a difference between (1) holding a principle within yourself and (2) getting the world to take on that principle. The principle is "the idea that men and women are equal". And Making Light holds that principle. Someone used the word "bedrock" which seems about right. Then there's the idea of propagating that principle out into the world so that everyone you run into takes on that principle. I don't see Making Light as taking on as its central theme the notion of propagating to the world the principle of equality among the various sexes.

If "not at all a feminist blog" relates to the propagation of the priniciple, independent of whether the principle is held or not, then it seems a feasible statement. I can't recall the last thread that was specifically geared to fix some specific sexual inequality, but I've a lousy memory.

But holding the principles and propagating the principles can be viewed as two different things, which the "not at all" comment might be directed at. (then again, I've stuck my foot in my mouth before, so what do I know)

As for violence against women versus violence against men, and whether a man is trying to say that violence against men is more important, whether he is trying to subvert the conversation, or whether he is simply trying to get all violence addressed, or whether some woman is disregarding all violence against men, or downplaying it, or saying that violence against women is her only concern: all of this is allowing some one specific detail to replace the general principle. I believe the term "anecdotal evidence" applies.

If the general principle is "equality amongst all the various sexes", then violence between the sexes is a reflection of inequality. Any violence. Any sex.

The simple question to ask is whether this principle is leading the conversation being had or not. On both sides. A man citing "woman-against-man" violence may be acting on that principle, or he may be trying to subvert the conversation with some factoid and replace it with "men are more important". A woman refuting that citation may be acting on that principle, or she might be downplaying male victims of violence and really leading with "women are more important".

Then there is the matter of implementation. A woman might be acting on the principle of "equality amongst all the sexes" and may only act by helping out at a battered women's shelter. That is not a disengenuous act. The act is lead by the principle. But while principles are infinite, action is always finite. So all actions must be a subset of the principle, not the whole principle. You cannot act upon the whole principle of equality amongst the sexes unless you somehow bequeath that all sexes are treated equally in the universe, and you somehow do this with your deity-like powers. Otherwise, the rest of us humans will have to make do with doing only part of the job, leaving some parts undone.

Now, what can happen is that a woman who has a history of only helping battered women can be acting totally from the principle of equality, but may be viewed by someoen else as being unequal in her actions. A man might raise the issue of women-on-men violence as needing to be addressed. To which, the woman might respond as an insult, since she is acting from the principle and at the same time can only act on finite resources. The ideal response would then be for her to say "you take that on." Then the man might end up helping men at a men's battered shelter or whatever. And both are having their actions lead by their principle of equality for all sexes.

A woman who only helps battered women is not proof of inequality of principle. It may or may not be that equality is causing her actions. The lack of a positive is not proof of a negative.

Likewise, a man who cites women-on-male violence may or may not be acting from the principle of equality. He might be pointing out some action that needs to be taken on for the principle to be fully realized, or he may be trying to subvert the conversation. But simply pointing out that woman-against-men violence exists is insufficient to determine what principle the man is acting from.

The question is whether or not the principle is being honored by some finite action. Unfortunately, it's one of those questions that you can only answer with any certainty for yourself, because only you know what principle is driving you. You can get a feeling for what principle is driving someone else, but a single passing comment made by them online is probably not enough to know with any certainty. And then there is the issue of the difference between comments and action. Some people you need to ignore what they say and focus on what they do to figure out what their real principles are, which means comments may be completely unrelated to their real principles.

Now, if you'll all excuse me, my work project is currently on fire and I have nothing but a can of moist towellettes to smothering it.

#176 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 12:53 PM:

...sexual violence against men...is not caused by the general oppression of women

I think it is, actually, albeit indirectly. But that's just a quibble; it doesn't really challenge your actual point.

#177 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 01:22 PM:

"I say, waiter! I've got a good husband in my house!"
"For heaven's sake, don't wave him about so, or else everyone will want one!"

#178 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 01:25 PM:

Serge:
No shot of you as Rosie the Riveter on that calendar, Susan?

No, but I'll do one one of these days, when I have time to sew things I don't have a pressing need for.

#179 ::: Thena in Maine ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 01:32 PM:

Faren Miller:

I don't think this is a thread anymore. It's more like a yarn. One of those fancy specialty yarns where you've got a strand or two of some wool / nylon blend twisted together, and a totally different strand with mylar eyelashes and bits of fluffy stuff sticking out that's going vaguely the same direction as the first part, and then a very thin strand of rayon wrapped around the whole thing holding it together...

Fancy Yarn: great fun to look at, tricky to work with.

MakingLight conversation: great fun to look at, tricky to keep up with.

#180 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 01:41 PM:

Thena in Maine (as opposed, I assume to the one in Attica (the province, not the prison)): I agree, and yet it's somehow avoided the dismal fate of some threads, which have effectively become Fun Fur. *shudder*

#181 ::: crazysoph ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 01:53 PM:

"If you haven't got a penis then you can't become a priest!
This archaic stipulation should have long ago been ceased.
Faith in God, and Love, and Scripture; men and women both can talk,
And what's more you serve Communion with your hands and not your cock!"

Please, oh please, Xopher, where is this from??!!

Crazy(but will be ecstatic to hear it's your own work!)Soph

#182 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 02:20 PM:

So, no Rosie the Riveter, Susan? Speaking of Rosie, my wife thinks, because of the size of her biceps, that the artist actually used a male model for the body. I wonder. After all, how common were muscular women in the Forties? But what do I know?

#183 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 02:29 PM:

crazysoph, I only WISH that were mine. No, I first heard it at a Pagan gathering (in Paganism you can't be a Priest if you're a woman either, but since you can become a Priestess, and that's a higher-status position (mostly), it's not such a problem).

The only reference my Google-fu could find was in this article about Faith Petric. I don't know if she wrote it or not.

#184 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 03:14 PM:

Susan, folkwear (just add the .com) has a Rosey the Riveter pattern.

#185 ::: flaring ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 03:41 PM:

...my wife thinks, because of the size of her biceps, that the artist actually used a male model for the body. I wonder. After all, how common were muscular women in the Forties?

I don't know about all women in the '40's, but my grandmother washed all three of her children's diapers on a washboard. Better the the gym for the arms, but not so easy on the hands (Mom said that, in all her early memories of her mother, her mother's hands were red and chapped.).

#186 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 04:11 PM:

...my grandmother washed all three of her children's diapers on a washboard.

Wow, if she had a washboard she really WAS in great shape! :-)

#187 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 04:20 PM:

Xopher -- fair quibble. All violence and oppression have their roots in selfishness. It will always be that way -- life is inherently selfish. Fortunately, it's also inherently cooperative.

#188 ::: Thena in Maine (as opposed to elsewhere) ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 04:21 PM:

Xopher -

YMMV, but in the coven I used to circle with we rotated officiating among initiates, and we had a real shortage of male initiates, so we decided the Gods could figure it out, and allowed women to fill the "priest" role in the ritual. And then we had a male covenor who wanted to try being priestess, and we figured the Gods could sort that out, too.

Rationalized it with the whole "everybody has male and female within so the external bits don't matter" doctrine.

Am sure we are all going to somebody's hell for this. :)

#189 ::: Lisa Goldstein ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 04:30 PM:

I too had a passing suspicion that "Debbie" might be Debbie Notkin, since she's the only person with that name I know who goes by straightforward Debbie and not Debra or Deborah. Hi, Debbie! Long time no hear from!

#190 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 04:56 PM:

Nancy C:
Susan, folkwear (just add the .com) has a Rosey the Riveter pattern.

Yes, I know. I have every Folkwear pattern in existence except the new Japanese one, though I've only made maybe a dozen of them - I collect useful patterns. I'll get the new one soon. It's not lack of a pattern, it's lack of time in my life for sewing anything that isn't actually needed.

#191 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 05:16 PM:

Thena in Maine, I rarely run across a simple, anecdotal blog comment that makes my soul feel as if a raw cut, irritated daily, has just been healed with some good tingly curative compound. Okay, so it happens here more often than on most blogs I visit, but still. Thank you.

(I also happen to be in Maine, this week. So, hello. Usually I am in Oregon.)

#192 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 05:25 PM:

(There's a Henry Rollins quote that sometimes gets pulled out in these discussions - "Guys, be cool and don't call yourself a feminist," because there's really no way a man can ever understand what it's like to be female. I like Rollins, but the sentiment is wrongheaded, if well-intentioned.)

Many years ago, I had a friend who finessed the problem by calling himself an honorary feminist.

#193 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 05:36 PM:

Stef: Thanks for the two-socks-on-circulars explanation. It sounds like this will solve the gauge problems I get with one-sock-inside-another-on-dps work, although I'm not sure if I'd like the changing-yarns-all-the-time angle. I'll have to try it and see.

Now, I must return all these extra hyphens to the puncutation library. I'm usually over my ration just from signing my name, so this post is really trying the librarian's patience.

#194 ::: flaring ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 05:39 PM:

...my grandmother washed all three of her children's diapers on a washboard.

Wow, if she had a washboard she really WAS in great shape! :-)

*snort* Well who know what she had under those practical ladies' fundamental garments?

#195 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 05:59 PM:

Non-Attic Thena: I think we had a pretty elegant solution. We called you a Priestess if you were female, and a Priest if not, and dispensed with the whole gender roles thing except when Drawing Down, when we defaulted to gender-identical dieties. Anyone could do anything, and everyone was expected, eventually, to do everything.

flaring, that's what I say. And I do have a washboard stomach...it's just got a bit of laundry on it right now.

#196 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 06:03 PM:

"Guys, be cool and don't call yourself a feminist," because there's really no way a man can ever understand what it's like to be female.

I may never know what it's really like to be female, or black, or a True Scotsman, or (insert disenfranchised group here), but I'll be damned if I'll let anyone tell me I don't know what equality, or fairness, or justice is.

In any majority-vote-wins system, no minority group can achieve equality unless at least some of the members of the otherwise oppressive majority group forgoes whatever advantage their class might get them and instead stand behind the principles of fairness (or at least act as much).

To dismiss folks who would support your equality in principle because they are not like you physically (not a woman, not black, not whatever) is just dumb.

#197 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 06:04 PM:

...whether a dick was a magic wand for turning wine into blood...

I'll have to remember that if I ever get stuck arguing with that species of Catholic. (I don't know whether it's a regrettable lack of experience or just preservation of my sanity that I haven't yet.)

#198 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 06:14 PM:

...whether a dick was a magic wand for turning wine into blood...

That's not magic, that's renal trauma.

#199 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 06:44 PM:

Men tend to see all relationships, even friendly relationships, as competitive or hierarchy-based (speaking of Tannen). This helps enforce the tendency of men to assert power over other men when possible, and over women whenever they can do it without actually dying on the spot. The structure dictates (and many, many people, chiefly but not only men enthusiastically support the fact) that in a given social class, men will call the shots and women will toe the line.

This is another point of disconnect I have with many fellow feminists. When the talk gets down to Patriarchy-speak, and descriptions like the above of how it all works, I feel like I have wandered onto an alien planet that very little resembles the world I live in. Am I really that oblivious?

#200 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 07:04 PM:

"...the idea that sexual victimization is inherently gendered: the experience belongs to women, and is the rightful legacy of women, and that anyone attempting to discuss it as a shared human legacy is trying to take something away from us."

I see a similar dynamic here: "Some Jews were angered that Poland's communist government during the 1940s and 1950s portrayed Auschwitz as a place of martyrdom of Poles, too. Poles, Gypsies, homosexuals and Russians also died at the camp." (Full story on the renaming of the concentration camp formerly known as Auschwitz.)

#201 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 07:06 PM:

Greg London said: I may never know what it's really like to be female, or black, or a True Scotsman, or (insert disenfranchised group here)...

...or a Canadian.

Anyway, people always seem to forget that there is such a thing as Imagination. I can't tell what being a woman is like, but I can extrapolate some of it from other elements of my own life.

"I want you all to call me Loretta."

#202 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 07:07 PM:

Ulrika, read Deborah Tannen. Have you noticed that men tend to bond by competing? When leaving a tennis game, they don't tend (and Tannen is careful to say these are only tendencies, not absolutes; I should be, too) to say "Let's do this again next week." Instead, the loser will say to the winner "I want a rematch!"

When it becomes a regular weekly thing that both of them value, they don't talk about it at all.

I follow the female more-than-not pattern for a lot of things, so Tannen was an eyeopener for me. I had no idea how I was damaging my relationship with my ex when I asked him what time he'd be home from work; I was just asking for information, so I could time the nice dinner I was going to surprise him with.

But having told me he'd be home at 7:00, he felt that he was being unreasonably constrained. He resented it, and would go out drinking and come home sloshed at 3:00 AM. And I'd get angry, and...well, we broke up.

By asking "What time are you going to be home?" I was, to him, asserting my right to know when, and putting him in the "one-down" position. Had I instead said "Can I cook dinner for you tonight? What time should I have it ready?" I could have put him in the "one-up" position, with no change that mattered AT ALL to me. I bet he'd have come home at 7:30 or 8:00 (can't ask TOO much!) if I had.

These things aren't universal, and most people (especially fannish geek types) are a mixed bag. And if they aren't true for anyone you know, lucky you. But the dynamic exists in society; Tannen didn't make this up, she observed it in her research. I know reading it has helped me interact with men (invaluable as a gay man), and understand that they aren't just being difficult for its own sake, but because it MATTERS to them.

#203 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 07:20 PM:

"Men tend to see all relationships, even friendly relationships, as competitive or hierarchy-based (speaking of Tannen)."

This is horseshit, and Ulrika is entirely correct to say so.

"Have you noticed that men tend to bond by competing?"

No, I have not. I have noticed constant pressure to agree to fatuous and damaging stereotypes like this, however.

#204 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:14 PM:

sub translate_to_usable_english {
my ($string)=@_;
$string =~ s{men}{some}g;
$string =~ s{women}{some}g;
return $string;
}


print translate_to_usable_english( "Men tend to see all relationships, even friendly relationships, as competitive or hierarchy-based (speaking of Tannen)."...);

ah, I feel much better.

Now if i could just set that up on a cron job in life somehow...

#205 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:31 PM:

Have you noticed that men tend to

I follow the female more-than-not pattern for a lot of things

xopher, everything you're saying has some truth to it, but if instead of talking about "male" behaviour and "female" behaviour, you replace it with yang and yin behaviour*, you can then allow for people to have mixes of both yin and yang without being mutants who have male bodies but "female" behaviour. Instead they're males who behave with a lot of "yin" and some "yang", or a female who behaves with a lot of "yang", or whatever.

And yes, I know some competitive types who bond by competing. And I know some accepting types who view competition as rejection. And I know some competitive types who view pure acceptance as inaction. And I know some accepting types who bond by accepting one another in conversations.

And I know most people aren't one or the other. We're talking about various types of principles when we're talking about the yin and yang behind the behaviours, and physicality, such as someone's gender, doesn't restrict the choice of principles. And I'm pretty sure you know that, it's just that the language you use sets my alarms off. I get who you are being and what you are doing, I'd just point out a clarification in what you are saying would make a huge difference for you.

*substitute "yin" and "yang" for whatever terms you wish to use to describe "embracing" and "competing" type behaviours.

#206 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:36 PM:

PNH, have you seen Tannen's evidence? I found it quite convincing, and I would respectfully submit that I'm not an idiot. She's no man-hater, either. She doesn't give value judgements; she just says that being aware that men and women are often talking cross-culturally can help facilitate better communication.

You don't say whether you thought my analysis of the communication problem I had with my ex was horseshit; if you do, I'd like to see you demolish it more thoughtfully.

Also, I'm not saying all men always do that. I'm saying it's a tendency. And not all men even have the tendency. It's a more-than-not pattern.

Anecdotally: I've found that understanding what Tannen is talking about has actually helped me deal with men; communicate better at work, for example. I hope it will help explain why I've been such a failure in gay bars.

Patrick, why don't you try assuming that I'm not saying something totally stupid. Even if you disagree, I'm not just mouthing stereotypes. There's some scientific basis for this theory. You don't have to buy it, but saying "this is horseshit" is a bit much.

Greg London, I might try to respond to that if I had some idea what it meant, other than an attempt at geeky one-upsmanship. And however strongly you may disagree with the idea expressed in that statement, there was nothing at all peculiar about the English. Are you just piling on?

#207 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:41 PM:

I had no idea how I was damaging my relationship with my ex when I asked him what time he'd be home from work; I was just asking for information, so I could time the nice dinner I was going to surprise him with.

This is another language thing: you weren't "damaging" anything if you were really just asking for information. If the behaviour went down as you described, you ex needed to do some growing up and not throw a tantrum. I'd have to talk with you to figure out how much of your portrayal is accurate and how much is an unreliable narrator, but the way you describe it, you inflicted no damage.

oop. my batch job is done. gotta go.

#208 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:43 PM:

I may never know what it's really like to be female, or black, or a True Scotsman, or (insert disenfranchised group here), but I'll be damned if I'll let anyone tell me I don't know what equality, or fairness, or justice is.

Greg, exactly (and the rest of your post, too).

Besides, I'm a thespian and a writer; figuring out what it's like to be people I'm not is what I do.

#209 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:44 PM:

Well, on the subject of Tannen (and Greg London's little coding exercise):

My college pals are mostly Great Big Nerds; programmers, engineers, etc. The women in their lives - with a few memorable exceptions - tend more toward the normal.

So, years before Tannen put pen to paper, I've seen multiple instances of an exchange that typically runs like this:

There's the guy, coming off a semester of mastering some arcane programming language, and his GF - trained all her life (by, depending upon who you ask, either the patriarchy or her mother...) to be polite and considerate of others - asks him something innocuous like "Would you like to empty the dishwasher?"

And the poor guy evaluates the literal content of the question, and truthfully answers "Uh, no."

The outcomes of this sort of exchange range from mutual laughter, to slammed doors, to breakups.

He would have been completely agreeable if she had asked: "Would you empty the dishwasher, please?" "Sure." But they're sometimes incapable of stripping out the 'politeness' content of the question, to understanding what's actually being asked.

I've more than once made apologies to their partners on my friends' behalf: "You'll have to excuse him, he sometimes suffers from Literalism."

#210 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:45 PM:

It wasn't me being perfectly reasonable and him "throwing a tantrum." It was the two of us failing to communicate. If he'd asked me what time I was going to be home, he'd have meant that kind of control thing; so he never did, and resented it when I did.

The failure to communicate was damaging to our relationship. That's a better way of phrasing it.

#211 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:46 PM:

Oh, Susan, I am jealous...

#212 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:46 PM:

Are you just piling on?

sorry. stupid geek humor. I've been coding 10 to 12 hours a day for most of a month now. It seemed funny at the time. but it could land like I was trying to be an ass. sorry. see second post.

#213 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:52 PM:

Men tend to see all relationships, even friendly relationships, as competitive or hierarchy-based (speaking of Tannen). This helps enforce the tendency of men to assert power over other men when possible, and over women whenever they can do it without actually dying on the spot. The structure dictates (and many, many people, chiefly but not only men enthusiastically support the fact) that in a given social class, men will call the shots and women will toe the line.

This is true only of Really Stupid People, and sometimes, Really Selfish People, and mostly, I think Selfish = Stupid.

Tannen is not respected by linguists or psychologists and hasn't been for ten years or more. I was an expert witness for a copyright case involving Tannen, Lakoff, and Gray, and after I was deposed both sides dropped the suit; this kind of half-bakery goes back at least to things Shaw wrote in his letters. It's true of some people some times, and is more closely tied to age, class and culture than sex than any of the authors above acknowledge, and all three of the twentieth century authors left out important pieces of evidence that contradicted their assertions.

#214 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:55 PM:

The failure to communicate was damaging to our relationship. That's a better way of phrasing it.

OK. I can go with that. And if you ask for an ETA and he says "7", and he gives the impression that he doesn't have a problem with "7", then it isn't up to you to read his mind that he really isn't fine with "7". You know what I mean? You didn't fail to communicate in that situation. He did.

If you were asking for an ETA for reasons other than an ETA, then you weren't communcating what was really going on for you. But that's not how you say it went down, so no "failing to communicate" on your part.

gawds, I gotta get back to work... deadline... must code...

#215 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 08:58 PM:

I think all kinds of people "tend" to be competitive in one or another area of their lives. I think this gets expressed in all sorts of ways. I think that generalizations like "men tend to see all relationships, even friendly relationships, as competitive or hierarchy-based" encourage us to aggregate a broad variety of behavior by men and boys into the box labelled "competitive or hierarchy-based," while at the same time excluding equally "competitive" behavior by women and girls from that box. I think Deborah Tannen is successful because what she's peddling claims to be progressive while in fact it's deeply reactionary. I think all she's done is repackage the Little Blue Book and the Little Pink Book for modern sensibilities, and I'm amazed that any smart person would fall for it.

Then again, I'm astounded by the readiness of one of my best friends to constantly attribute her teenage son's imperfections and intermittent misbehavior to "testosterone." It seems to me we are trapped with our stereotypes and foolish generalizations at the bottom of a very steep hole and will never get out, not in my lifetime.

#216 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 09:04 PM:

Greg, I agree with most of your second post. But boys and girls effectively grow up in different cultures...then there are the weirdos like me, who played with the girls at recess because the boys wouldn't let me play. I couldn't run or kick or anything, but I could hold one end of a jumprope well enough (jumping would have been beyond me).

OK, if I call them Osken and Biven ('yin' and 'yang' carry a lot of cultural baggage for me, so I'm making up these words), there's still the fact that way more men have predominantly Osken traits, and way more women have predominantly Biven traits. Not all, no. 'All' and 'no' tend to be the beginnings of untrue statements, I find.

One thing Tannen did was analyze tapes of pairs of boys and pairs of girls who were asked to sit in a room and talk about something serious, then left alone. The girls tended to sit facing each other and try to find something "serious" to talk about; the boys tended to sit facing away from each other, or both in the same direction, and talked about random things, working around (IIRC) to a serious topic without ever admitting they were trying to fulfill the instruction.

This pattern was quite strong even among six-year-olds. So boys are trained to be Osken from an early age, it seems, and girls to be Biven. I can't quite believe it's genetic or hormonal; that doesn't make sense to me. But by the time we're adults we have some pretty strong Osken or Biven tendencies (and some few of us poor unfortunates have both).

#217 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 09:11 PM:

Patrick, thanks. That's something I can understand and think about, instead of just feeling defensive about.

I need to think about it some more (and probably sleep; my eyes are going all wonky) before I try to answer you. As you know, I may just decide what you say is right. But I've found that a lot of what Tannen says matches my experience, and/or explains a lot of troubles I've had. I'm a gay man who really has a lot of trouble dealing with men, and Tannen appears to hold out a straw for me to grasp; perhaps that's all, but it's all I've got.

I'm going to go away and think now. And eat and sleep, a couple of things I tend to shove aside for hangin' out on the intarwebs.

#218 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 09:24 PM:

"Do you want to do.." for "Would you do..." is what I consider an utterly viciously pathological speech pattern. The answer to, "Do you want to [do the dishes, wash the floor, etc.] is "No." The answer to, "Will you..." might be yes. But the insert that the person being asks WANTS to do the chores.... Grrr!

As for relationships among people... "This band of brothers" did not necessary have interband competition as glue.

Once upon a time I was in the military. Once upon a time I was on a business trip, and there were three or four of us sitting in the hotel lobby bar talking about the presentation we were doing the next day, and exchanging military stories--or rather, those of us who were veterans with. The next day one of the people said he felt left out because he didn't have that experience/lacked that bond. He didn't mention it to the others, who were all male (and all of them, also, worked for Boeing, I worked for GTE...)

The point--there are different forms of bonding. They don't have to be competitive. Most of the stuff that women get left out of in the networking is because of OTHER gates that keep them out--the military vet bond involves having been IN the military, and most vets are male. Being an airline pilot back in the 1960s one of the ways that women were kept out were the airlines looking for military piloting experience, and until 1976 when the US military allowed a few women in the active duty military and Guard/Reserves as test program into military flight training for the first time, there were -no- women in the USA who were or had been US military pilots (the WASPs were later given military veteran status, but didn't have it in 1976). No military flight experience, no accession into airline pilot programs except by exception--and it was easy enough for them to disqualify women otherwise, by Northwest's 6' height requirement, or by outright banning women from cockpits.

When I was working on proposals, people weren't generally competing against one another working on the proposal, they were working together--and the proposal teams I worked on were overwhelmingly male.

Etc.

#219 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 09:32 PM:

Xopher -- I have a tendency to feel, when someone asks me a question, that I have to figure out why they were asking so I can come up with the best possible answer. This means that simple questions can make me feel that I'm being put on the spot. The alternate phrasing you described would help a lot with someone like me. It's a more open communications style, with more negotiation and give-and-take. I tend to respond very positively to it. Other people, it might drive them nuts.

I don't think it's gender-related -- more likely upbringing and communication styles within families. We have a societal tendency to associate personalities and styles with stereotypical gender roles. Even committed feminists do this. I think it's because our brains are highly evolved to find patterns in information, whether they are really there or not. This trait gave us fantasy and science fiction, so I'm inclined to be a little forgiving about its errors. Also, it often gives us insights that are useful even though they were arrived at the wrong way.

#220 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 09:52 PM:

Greg, I agree with most of your second post. But boys and girls effectively grow up in different cultures...then there are the weirdos like me, ... if I call them Osken and Biven ... there's still the fact that way more men have predominantly Osken traits, and way more women have predominantly Biven traits.

The fact of "men tend to osken and women tend to biven" may or may not be true. I have no statistics in that. The truth or lack thereof of the statement wasn't my point. My point was rather that the truth or lack thereof of said statement doesn't really matter

to you.

See, you took some population statistic of men tend to be this and women tend to be that, and you took those statistics and then applied them to an individual, yourself, and came up with the notion that you're a weido.

My point is that taking a subset of the population, drawing bell curves, and gathering such statistics, are good for Cliff Claven moments, and cocktail party conversation where you reply "oh, isn't that interesting". But it is invalid to take said statistics of a subset of the population and then apply it to an individual and then make value judgements about that individual, such as calling them a weirdo.

Individuals form statistics,
but statistics should not shape individuals,
nor should statistics be used to beat up
individuals who don't fit nicely under
the bell curves.

I'm feeling a little punchy right now
so I don't knwo if any of that makes sense
to anyone but me...

#221 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 09:55 PM:

PNH: It seems to me we are trapped with our stereotypes and foolish generalizations at the bottom of a very steep hole and will never get out, not in my lifetime.

Don't lose sight of the fact there HAS been progress.
It's a very steep hole, sure, but I can remember what things used to be like Before Things Changed. We may not get out of this hole, but we can see the sunlight.

#222 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:13 PM:

and some few of us poor unfortunates have both

this being another statistically induced value judgement

#223 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:15 PM:

Have you noticed that men tend to bond by competing? When leaving a tennis game, they don't tend [ ]to say "Let's do this again next week." Instead, the loser will say to the winner "I want a rematch!"

Not the guys I know. Really. That is not my planet.

#224 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:19 PM:

Greg, thanks for that. I appreciate it.

Unfortunately, the fact is that I'm a weirdo. This was giving me a handle on part of what makes me a weirdo, not making me suddenly decide that I was one! It may still be invalid, but it's not as pernicious as you thought.

I was trying to figure out WHY I have such trouble relating to men. That I have this trouble is not in doubt; in fact I'm considering just making a monogamous commitment to my DVD player and giving up totally. For now, though, I'm still trying.

After reading Tannen I realized that for years I'd been taking offense to a lot of what men said to me in bars, when no offense was actually meant. They'd say something that could be taken as a diss, and I'd take it as one and end the conversation. I remember some puzzled faces, but I chalked it up to them being surprised that someone was calling them on their bullshit.

They were flirting.

Now, that still seems pretty bizarre to me. I flirt with people by paying them compliments. This just makes most guys (even gay guys) really uncomfortable. But what I think those guys I cut off expected, was for me to either brag or give them a cut in return; we'd continue until the disses got ridiculous in scale ("Yo mamma so dumb, she vote for BUSH") at which point we laugh, buy each other drinks, start making out, and I don't know what-all because I was never able to do that.

When someone says something nasty to me, my feelings are hurt. If I've just met them, I avoid them after that. This seems perfectly sensible to me.

But in part as a consequence of that, I don't date (or get laid, or whatever) very much at all.

OK, now I'm in the TMI zone and I'm really just going to go to bed.

#225 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:40 PM:

Xopher - regarding Tannen: have you got anything that actually underwent peer review to point to? What I see at the Amazon link are popular works, and, well, popular presses aren't known for sending manuscripts out to experts in the field to have them double check the footnotes and contextualize them in the current literature. I mean, Thomas Sowell talks a good line if you read him in isolation, and hell, so does Ayn Rand if you don't know her sources. A seductive argument does not a good scientist make, and Tannen's claims, as you report them, do not match my corner of consensus reality at all well, so I'm skeptical.

#226 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 12, 2006, 10:48 PM:

Unfortunately, the fact is that I'm a weirdo.

Xopher, could you come here for a moment please?

*thwack*

How the hell can you establish that as any semblance of the word "fact" without refering to statistics? You will either have to tell me about "bell curves" and explain how you don't fit under them, or you will simply have to fall back on the unfounded assertion that your weirdo-ness is indeed irrefutable fact. Unfounded assertions "I am a weirdo" are not to be confused with facts. And any reference to statistics and/or what "other people" are like will get you a sound thrashing from me. population statistics are not to be used to form value judgements of any specific individual.

cut. it. out.

I'd been taking offense to a lot of what men said to me in bars, when no offense was actually meant.

Ah, crimeny man, that isn't weird, that's that lack of communication you were talking about. And if you say you damaged a relationship again, I'll kick your ass to the other side of the Kessell run. He said something with a certain intent. you heard the something but a completely different intent, and you both stopped talking before either one clarified their intent.

lemme tell you something, that don't make you weird. that makes you human. welcome to the club. here's your membership card.

My wife and I spent the first six months of our marriage about this () close to getting divorced because we both kept thinking the other was thinking what we thought they were thinking. (does that even parse? christ I'm tired.) Only problem was we were both making it up. completely. total fabrications. The thing was we weren't actually talking to the point of actually hearing the other person say what they were thinking, we'd start out by making something up, and go downhill from there.

It wasn't until we started going past that sticky mess and getting into what we really meant that we got past that crap.

But that doesn't make you a weirdo. It makes you human like everyone else.

#227 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 02:08 AM:

Just out of curiousity -

We've seen people ask "Would you like to empty the dishwasher?" and "Will you please empty the dishwasher?".

From personal experience (marrying an English major), I've seen what happens when one says, "Can you empty the dishwasher?"

But how do other people feel about the statement, "The dishwasher needs to be emptied"?

#228 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 06:16 AM:

But how do other people feel about the statement, "The dishwasher needs to be emptied"?

I'd say the dishwasher should stop being so passive-aggressive. If it needs something, it should just say so and stop forcing others to magically "detect" what it requires. I can't stand needy home appliances. I had an overwrought vacuum cleaner once. It was the worst. Whenever its bag filled up, it just sat there. With diminished suction. I was supposed to notice? Well, I bought a carpet sweeper and I tell you what, that vacuum cleaner stopped its sulking pronto. I dunno, maybe this is a male thing, but I find all this waiting quietly to be employed really the most irritating thing about home appliances. I'm looking into that little robot floor cleaner they have now. That looks interesting.

I mean, it's not like I haven't tried to be accommodating.

#229 ::: RuTemple ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 07:47 AM:

Some time yesterday, a few 112 messages into this posting, Debbie looked in and clarified and asked,
'Nuff said?

Er. No, actually. You haven't edited your original blog posting away from that bothersome "not at all a feminist" phrasing and the longer it takes you to do that, it grows Really Bothersome. Please go back and edit to say what you mean to say, really, because there's no excuse for leaving the error you published sitting there in front of Goddess and everybody forever. Please to wiggle those recycled-electrons anew?

And thanks for stirring up some of this interesting conversation and for fomenting, finally, a knitting post!

#230 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 07:54 AM:

Lisa Goldstein wrote: I too had a passing suspicion that "Debbie" might be Debbie Notkin, since she's the only person with that name I know who goes by straightforward Debbie and not Debra or Deborah.

Is this like people who go as Sue or Susan or Suzanne, but don't you dare call them Suzie? The only person ever allowed to call my wife Suzie was her grandfather and, now, our young nephews, aka The Next Generation.

#231 ::: Steve Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 08:43 AM:

Margaret Organ-Kean wrote:

> But how do other people feel about the statement, "The dishwasher needs to be emptied"?

It might just be the book of Tom Waits interviews I'm reading, but it sounds oddly reminiscent of "The piano has been drinking."

Maybe what the dishwasher needs is a good stiff drink.

#232 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 08:55 AM:

Maybe what the dishwasher needs is a good stiff drink.

It makes perfect sense, Steve, if the dishwasher is a human, not a machine. That unfortunately can't be reconciled with the earlier statement that the dishwasher needs to be emptied. Or maybe it could. But I'd rather not think of what that'd mean.

#233 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 08:57 AM:

"Do you want to do.." for "Would you do..." is what I consider an utterly viciously pathological speech pattern. The answer to, "Do you want to [do the dishes, wash the floor, etc.] is "No." The answer to, "Will you..." might be yes. But the insert that the person being asks WANTS to do the chores.... Grrr!

The one that gets me is "I'm going to let you..." Like, "I'm going to let you empty the dishwasher." Gee...thanks.

And the special form, "I'm going to let you go now," when it's the person doing the speaking who needs to go. This happens a lot on the phone and I really dislike it, because it suggests that the person cutting off the conversation is doing the other one a favor when in fact it's the other way 'round. Makes me grind my teeth every time.

#234 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 09:19 AM:

I'll chime in on the Tannen thing. The patterns she notes seem to explain the behavior of people in the ethnic groups I belong to.

Stereotypic white men seem to play for points - a measure of "who's higher than whom" as a means of self affirmation/gaining respect. This leads to some bizzare, silly behavior. Bragging, buying expensive toys, playing chicken, debating who's OS has worse bug counts, picking divisive points of view in order to have an arguement, etc. Some pro-social behavior is also possible in this context - choosing to overlook differences, letting the other guy win, losing gracefully, treating an unimportant success of a friend as significant. (e.g. "Well, he may use vim, but he's got the coolest model railroad in town.")

Sterotypic white women seem to compete on the basis of affiliation: how many close friends do I have/how close are the friendships. That game is won by indirection - smoothing over differences, cooperating...backstabbing, rumors.

Sound like middle school? Some people never stop playing these games. Some do.

Note that I'm illustrating extremes. No one's gender is all male or all female; we all have mixes of approaches. The models of gender identity that I am familiar with speak of the idea of gender characteristics independantly varying, e.g. 70% male typical, 65% female typical, instead of being one value partitioned into male and female halves.

I will not say that Tannen's work has fared well or poorly under peer review - I haven't checked. But it seems to have explanatory power, and is useful for explaining some human behavior, some of the time. Decoupling "gender typical behavior" from sex typical biology is helpful.

#235 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 09:31 AM:

Xopher: Please go and tell your troubles with men to Orson Scott Card, the weirdest thing about whose anti-gay tirade was about how men understand each other so much better than they understand women so if you allow homosexuality they'd all be doing it.

Patrick: I don't know if it's the same in your friend's case, but I also have a friend with a son Sasha's age who attributes pretty much every time either of them roll their eyes and sigh to "testosterone". I used to think she was just using an odd label and it didn't really matter, that when she used that word she just meant "being a teenager". But recently we had a conversation where I was citing my memory and experience of having been fifteen as useful when it came to stepping back a bit on being a mother as Sasha got older, and she said that it wasn't the same for boys -- and I saw she really meant it, that she really thought testosterone as a male hormone made such a huge difference that the entire experience of being caught between being a child and an adult was overwhelmed by it. I didn't know what to say, and I'm afraid what I did say was just discounted -- and her belief is having an actual effect on how a real youth is being treated.

I think one of the things about feminism requires that alongside the demand that women be recognised as people is the simultaneous demand that men be recognised as people. So while women aren't there to be put down and bullied and paid less, men aren't there to be cajoled and manipulated and admired for existing. There's a way in which society expects and allows gendered areas of helplessness -- I'm not supposed to be able to put up a curtain rail, I'm automatically excused from that competence, and Emmet isn't supposed to be able to cook, or clean -- if he sweeps the floor and doesn't move the furniture, I'm supposed to think it's a big deal that he did it at all.

I have for years, ever since I figured out what was going on, refused to be the "exception", and go along with men in putting down women. I'm ashamed to say that I have sometimes though gone along with women in the assumption that men are to be worked around and manipulated, just because it was easier than speaking out, and in the same way I've been going along with this "testosterone" thing without actually realising how pernicious it is. I do speak up when women say "Men!" and roll their eyes, and I'm not going to let "testosterone" pass any more either.

I think an awful lot more of how people act and expect others to act is conditioning than it is inborn, you only have to look at other cultures to see that. If we don't, all of us, stop providing that conditioning as axiomatic, then it's not going to change. Women have to treat men as equal too. I think looking at someone and assuming their communication style from their gender presentation is a lot more damaging to everyone than trivialities like whether the Catholic Church requires possession of a penis to perform the miracle of transubstantiation.

#236 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 09:39 AM:

This is what I get for letting the conversation run on without me: that indeterminate Debbie is Debbie Notkin? (!!!?) Cripes. I'm halfway relieved that an early set of comments I drafted never saw light.

I can't recall many instances when I've been at such a loss for words.

Hi, Deb.

#237 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 09:58 AM:

Please go and tell your troubles with men to Orson Scott Card, the weirdest thing about whose anti-gay tirade was about how men understand each other so much better than they understand women so if you allow homosexuality they'd all be doing it.

Can anyone explain why this seems to be such a popular meme among the anti-gay set?

At least as I read it, there does seem to be this persistent notion that systemic suppresion of homosexuality is the only thing ensuring that civilization survives to the next generation. i.e., the natural inclination human beings is to be gay and only by societal pressure do people engage in opposite sex relationship and procreate.
(Just as I have problems understanding what the various Defense of Marriage Acts are actually defending marriage from. Actually, there was a recent article in Slate that suggested that perhaps part of it was a defense of traditional gender roles.)

#238 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 10:05 AM:

Jo...

Is it my imagination that, at least in Occidental cultures, women are more likely to be 'allowed' to fulfill their potential, but they're also allowed not to succeed at reaching it? Meanwhile, most cultures sends out the message that men absolutely must fulfill their potential, and even exceed it so that they can be Da Man. (Me? I do try to fulfill my own potential, but I know there's always going to be some other dingdong-adorned human who's going to be better than me. So be it.)

#239 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 10:10 AM:

Can anyone explain why this seems to be such a popular meme among the anti-gay set?

The snarky answer is "Because they have gay tendencies of their own and assume everyone is like them."

Sad part is, given recent findings I'm not at all sure it's the wrong answer. (Warning: that link has popups and annoying in-page ads. It was the best quick summary I could find, alas.)

#240 ::: Claudia ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 10:22 AM:

Jo,
Sasha's friend's mother may not be talking about this, but rising testosterone is a feature of adolescence for both boys and girls. (Not always a feature. Sometimes a bug.) It contributes to pimples, and to feeling unsettled and irritable. I know women who have used steroids analogous to testosterone...some for sports training, some for more accepted medical purposes. The ones who talked about side effects all said it felt like being a teenager again.

#241 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 10:33 AM:

if you allow homosexuality they'd all be doing it.

Can anyone explain why this seems to be such a popular meme among the anti-gay set?

the meme is a reflection of someone who hasn't quite matured emotionally. There is a stage in kids' development where they relate to morality as "the 'good' is what I can get away with". Some people don't mature beyond this stage. So they relate to the government as an entity whose job it is to make sure people don't "get away with" all the things they're thinking about doing. Which puts the government in a parental position, and the citizens in a 'child' position.

Contrast this with someone who develops their morality to the point where "good" is something they generate from within, and people work out whatever it is they wish to do amongst themselves. Government then becomes an entity whose job it is to hold people to their promises between each other, whatever those promises might be. Government is no longer the parent telling people what is "right". People are negotiating between themselves and government is a record keeper.

This is a picture painted with a broad brush, but it can help understand where someone's coming from when they say some odd meme.

#242 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 10:45 AM:

the meme is a reflection of someone who hasn't quite matured emotionally...they relate to the government as an entity whose job it is to make sure people don't "get away with"...things...[in a more developed worldview] Government then becomes an entity whose job it is to hold people to their promises between each other, whatever those promises might be.

This point may well be correct, but it doesn't answer Jo's question, which was why anti-gay people assume that everyone would be gay if not restrained by law. That is, why do they assume Joe-on-the-street is going to want to get away with being gay.

#243 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 10:45 AM:

I missed that if being gay were allowed they'd all be doing it meme completely. (That's okay. I'm not complaining...) But the internal illogic of it is stunning.

I saw this in the WaPo today. Some folks may find it interesting.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/12/AR2006071201883.html?

#244 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 11:02 AM:

it doesn't answer Jo's question, which was why anti-gay people assume that everyone would be gay if not restrained by law.

yes, it doesn't answer Jo's question. But I guess I answered it more in how I think the problem could be solved. I don't think the answer to "why do they assume that?" would be of much use. i.e. I don't think knowing that answer would change the anti-gay folks into non-discriminatory folks.

The problem to me seems to boil down to people relating to government as a parent who knows what is right and decrees the law. The solution would seem to be to get people to grow up a bit around their morality to something more adult, more a negotiation among equals.

If you know the answer to "why do they assume we'd all be gay if not restrained by law", but they still relate to government as "adult" and the citizens as "children", all the answer will do is shift the problem from gays to some other prejudice being enforced by the government.

But if you get them to change so that they relate to people as equals and able to negotiate what they do amongst themselves and the government is simply there to record the agreements, then you not only solve the anti-gay stupidity, but a whole lot of other stupidity as well.

#245 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 11:20 AM:

But if you get them to change so that they relate to people as equals and able to negotiate what they do amongst themselves and the government is simply there to record the agreements, then you not only solve the anti-gay stupidity, but a whole lot of other stupidity as well.

Nrg. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with the idea that seeing The Government as a referee rather than a parent is the more mature/developed response.

Frex, there's that bit in Peter and Wendy where Hook gets the better of Peter by shocking the boy with unfairness; Hook can do this because for Peter it's always the first time. One could argue that assuming everyone will play fair is the childish response, while assuming they'll do whatever they can get away with is more adult.

I am inclined to agree with you, actually, but I'd like to see it worked out rather than just assumed.

And I really don't agree that casting the government as pure-record keeper is going to help anything; the obvious answer is "Well, we're having the government record that we don't like gays."

#246 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 11:30 AM:

I do speak up when women say "Men!" and roll their eyes, and I'm not going to let "testosterone" pass any more either.

Thanks, Jo: this is something I've been struggling with for years. Women who say men this, men that, who explain every thing they don't like about a man by the fact that he is a man, people who accept bad behavior from boys because they are boys -- who accept other kinds of bad behavior from girls because they are girls.

I don't mean to discount biology. But for people, biology is just another raw material. It doesn't matter that men and women have different physiological effects on their personalities and behavior. The capacity for acquired variation from person to person is much greater than the tendencies made by biology. Every human trait -- competitiveness, cooperativeness, directness, indirectness, every one of them -- is accessible to people to use in varying degrees and in varying combinations.

The only time I found my memories of growing up utterly useless in dealing with my son's issues was when he was having growing pains in his testicles. Funny, the nice fellow I married couldn't rule out a real injury either, and we had to take him to the doctor.

#247 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 11:59 AM:

I think one of the things about feminism requires that alongside the demand that women be recognised as people is the simultaneous demand that men be recognised as people. So while women aren't there to be put down and bullied and paid less, men aren't there to be cajoled and manipulated and admired for existing. There's a way in which society expects and allows gendered areas of helplessness...

Part of feminism, for me, is the assumption that everyone has both agency and responsibility; you can't bring up the shape of your privates as evidence that you couldn't help yourself from [x]. And you don't get to use the shape of anyone else's privates as a reason to not treat them like a grownup.

That's about all it comes down to as far as I'm concerned.

#248 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 12:00 PM:

I really don't agree that casting the government as pure-record keeper is going to help anything; the obvious answer is "Well, we're having the government record that we don't like gays."


well, "government as recordkeeper" isn't the required component. by itself it can obviously and easily fail. The required component is that individuals relate to each other as equals who can negotiate what's best for them. If people relate to each other as "people are equals, free to negotiate whats best for themselves", then government isn't needed to "decide" what is right, it's only needed to keep track of what folks agreed to.

The thing to keep in mind is that whether or not you relate to people as equals and government as record keeper, someone else can still relate to people as children and government as parent. The solution isn't in the role that government plays. By itself, "casting the government as pure-record keeper" is NOT going to help. The solution is in getting the population to mature to the point that they no longer relate to the world like a thirteen year old, but rather like adults who can negotiate what's best for themselves, and out of that, then the role of government is changed from parent to recordkeeper.

#249 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 12:09 PM:

hm, I thought this government as parent thing was sounding more and more familiar. Then I remembered it's one of the things discussed in Don't think of an Elephant. hmm....

#250 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 12:30 PM:

Everyone is right that I don't know anything about Tannen's peer review. I'd have to look into that.

I want to live on Ulrika's planet. Sounds like I'd be much happier there! More seriously, a lot of people seem to have experiences that don't match mine at all. Maybe I'm hanging out with the wrong men (or rather avoiding the right ones, since the only men I hang out with much are ones I've known for 20 years). This is actually encouraging news, even if it was a little embarrassing for me on this thread.

I also sure wish I'd grown up in a world where guys would be queer if it were allowed. I'd have had a much happier adolescence! Teenage boys (and girls, but I can't speak to that) are always looking for ways to be transgressive. They're not allowed to drink, smoke, or do drugs either. I could have had a terrific time if "having sex with six different guys in one night" had been in the same category as "drink a whole six-pack in one night"!

What a wonderful world it would be. </sarcasm>

As for testosterone: yes, people overattribute certain behaviors to it. BUT: there is a thing called 'roid rage, which is not "irritability due to hemorrhoids" as I once thought, but the irritability, or even outright violent fury, that occurs periodically when a man has artificially raised his testosterone level too high (or used other steroids to the same effect).

Adolescent boys are subject to a weaker version of the same thing, with one important difference: it's not their fault. Indogenous anger is a condition of being a teenage boy: I remember it well. (I may not by typical though, since I have ADHD, which also has a rage component.) Suddenly getting angry for no reason other than that your body has decided it's time for a growth spurt is terribly confusing, and leads to negative associations with whatever you happened to be experiencing when the hormone surge hit.

Just as the fact that antidepressants are overprescribed shouldn't lead you to believe no one really needs them, the tendency of some parents to overattribute teenage boys' behavior to testosterone shouldn't lead you to ignore the fact that sometimes their feelings really do get out of control due to hormones sometimes, and it's very, very difficult to behave reasonably when you're so fluxed you can hardly see.

Don't try to tell me this is cultural, or imaginary. I remember how it felt. I was rational enough to know that I was angry over nothing (THERE. ARE. NO. RED. M&MS. IN. THIS. BAG!!!!!!), but unable to control it.

Well, I have more to say about this, but they're closing my office due to a watermain break, so it'll have to be later.

#251 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 12:38 PM:

[urls neutred, post split into two parts due to "questionable content" autoflagging.] Part I.

Jo, Claudia, & Lucy,
this may be of interest, re: testosterone. Griffen Hansbury is a woman who does have first hand experience with male levels of Testosterone, and writes quite explicitly about the nature of sexual desire. (see www.bordersstores.com/features/feature.jsp?file=grrrltalk52 for an interview, which I'll quote from:

After testosterone, I'd see a woman on the trainÖ no, let me amend that, I'd see a woman's knee on the train and instantly aggressive, violent, sexual images of just nailing this woman would flood my mind. There was not even a split second between seeing the knee and having the flood of images. It's just instantaneous, and it's unstoppable. You can't get it out of your brain.
... Well, I can't compare because I don't know what it's like being an adolescent male, so I'm not sure, but I can tell you it was pretty scary. I felt out of control. I felt like a monster.* I felt horribly distracted. ...

There's also an episode of This American Life on Testosterone, ( www.thislife.org/pages/descriptions/02/220.html ), and Hansbury is the second person on.

Hansbury's experience's of pure lusting are pretty much what I recall from being a 13-15 year old male, though it is worth noting that mine were not quite so extreme. (Hansbury's dosages of T were 2x the normal level for someone who weighed 30% more, so the paralell can't be exact.) I would be surprised if many females would percieve their sexuality that way purely on the biological basis of having somewhat less circulating T and fewer (or less sensitive) receptors for it.

#252 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 12:45 PM:


Post part II of ? (see above)


Lucy, I fully accept that one's sex and gender are raw material, but in this one case, I think it is prudent to note that the way young men first experience their own sexuality is different, and therefore have ongoing cultural consequences. For example, re-reading the anti-masturbation tracts of the 50's (or the 1870's), or the anti-pr0n** screeds written more recently - the ones authored by men - is a different experience in this context. Even the generic moral themes of self-discipline take on a different cast in the context of this open secret.

Young men are certainly not in a good position to be introspective about this, and as levels of T fall off over the years, it becomes harder to recall (and there is, ideally, some measure of self-discipline to not think of others that way.) I have a hunch that some gay-phobia on the part of men is a fear of those monsterous desires in oneself, along the lines of "if I can barely keep from thinking about sex with girls all the time, what's to stop me from thinking about sex with other men? OMG, what if they are thinking about having sex with me?!?" This interpretation could be useful to teach someone what is meant by "the objectification of women," if we could ever talk about this kind of thing openly.

I wrote elsewhere about these ideas, so this is a repeat: This is what it is - all men are pigs (ref. Porco Rosso) - and good men have consciences...of differing levels of competence. Being a real man means being able to not act on it. Sound familiar? Or should I say, "all men are fanboys."

-r.

*There's a lot of meat here for a discussion of the reader experimenting with the moral choice of taking/refusing to take the pov of the monster in horror/sf fiction. I have an unfinished essay on how this explains the popularity of giant robot anime with young teen males.

**=redaction marker

#253 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 12:49 PM:

The redaction marker is correct, the string anti-p/rnography triggers the questionable content filter. The string pornography does not.

-r.

#254 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 01:12 PM:

Re Deborah Tannen: Some of her popular writing is probably based on refereed work, since her bibliography seems to list a lot of journal publications and conference proceedings, some of which have relevant titles.

Since it isn't my field at all, I have no idea how good her research is, or how much her interpretations (which I expect sound more generally exciting and make up a large part of her popular books) are really justified by the data. (Or whether some of her work has been invalidated by later research, which can certainly happen.)

The impression I get from reading some postings about this on Language Log is that the whole issue of gender differences in speaking and conversation is, among linguists, still very controversial and unsettled; Tannen should probably not be taken as The Last Word on the subject. There's an interesting discussion of a small facet in this Language Log post: what was initially claimed (by Robin Lakoff, mostly on the basis of personal recollection) to be a gender difference in one direction turned out (after analysis of a large dataset) to be a difference in the other direction -- and then (after even more data) seemed to depend more on power issues (who was in charge of a particular conversation) than on gender per se.

Liberman has a good cautionary note in another post:

"Because of the enormous effects of social and interpersonal context on all the variables involved, and the enormous range of individual differences among people of all sexes, both in general and in their response to differing circumstances, and the strong effect of social stereotypes on experimenters' interpretations as well as on their subjects' behavior, this is an especially difficult kind of thing to study. People and social circumstances are variable and complicated, and it's clear that you need to look at the details in order to predict behavioral tendencies, much less individual behavior."

#255 ::: DaveL ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 01:27 PM:

if you allow homosexuality they'd all be doing it

My suspicion is that this meme is part and parcel of the idea that homosexuality is a sin, like thievery or lying. There is a strong persistent current of "we are all sinners" and "only fear of hellfire makes us behave" in fundamentalist Christianity.

They would probably also say "If robbery were legal we'd all be doing it" as well.

As always when suggesting some repressive point of view, they don't mean they personally would sin, but other people, those weak ones, would.

I don't think it means they are all unsure of their sexuality, it means they are unsure of other peoples sexuality (and scared or disgusted by it as well).

#256 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 01:32 PM:

Xopher, something I forgot to say earlier. You know those two examples you brought up to show how women and men have different conversational styles?

Neither of them had any women in them.

Your reasoning about this is circular: "Women and men have different conversational styles. Proof? these conversations I had with these men. They are proof because I'm more like a woman than a man in some ways. Proof of my being more like a woman than a man is these conversations."

I'm not arguing that there are no physiological differences between men and women that have impact on behavior and emotions. I'm arguing that these differences are more complicated than some people think, that the consequences of the differences are more varied than some people think, and that they matter a lot less than other effects: the effects of culture, the effects of class and caste and oppression and entitlement, and biologically the effects of health -- nutrition, body tone, training, and the effects of decisions acted on or not -- if I stop and think about it I can think of many more effects that have more consequence than the relative levels of a particular sex hormone or the presence or absence of specific sexual organs.

#257 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 01:35 PM:

Another data point: Linguist (and science fiction author) Suzette Haden Elgin disagrees strongly with Tannen's ideas. In this post on her LiveJournal she discusses some of the reasons why.

If you're interested, she also has a number of posts up about language and gender.

#258 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 01:37 PM:

if you allow homosexuality they'd all be doing it..

Next, the farm animals. Then dinosaurs.

#259 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 02:15 PM:

Obs. SF MJ Engh has a good deal to say on language and especially on neutral language with normative suggestions for writing and for speech. See also Rainbow Man for some discussion of gender and sex.

For my money much of this discussion takes a position and finds something in Tannen in opposition to that position - or in support of that position - and so defines Tannen's work out of the discussion. Like say Malloy's Dress for Success which I've seen knocked for telling people how they should dress but which in my view tells people how their choice of dress will impact other people in specific settings and still allows free choice so too based on a fair amount of research Tannen (and the verious Gentle Art of Verbal Self Defense books as well) can be read as telling us how we come across to specific groups when we talk - and something of how our biases affect how others come across to us - nothing new under the sun see e.g. GB Shaw's Pygmalion/My Fair Lady.

In fact Tannen quite explicitly says that in her observation there is no, not one, gender specific characteristic of speech that is universal. What one culture considers proper male speech mannerisms and to some degree subject, some culture somewhere will describe as proper female - Perhaps some of Tannen's examples might lead to a hypothesis that there is a speech pattern associated with sitting around in robes drinking hot (LDS usage) drinks. Steeped vegetable matter may drive the conversation?

#260 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 02:20 PM:

Lucy, you wrote:
I can think of many more effects that have more consequence than the relative levels of a particular sex hormone or the presence or absence of specific sexual organs.

I think you are missing the simplicity of the genderlect hypothesis. It's not about biology. Our biology (sex organs, hormones) has external cues that our culture interprets as male or female genders from infancy.* In our culture we treat males and females differently and train them to behave differently. The genderlect hypothesis is that this training includes language assumptions, AND that some points of misunderstanding between people of different genders due to this different cultural training. In other words, some miscommunication between the sexes can be attributed to something that acts very like a cultural difference.**

Of course this isn't sufficent to explain all differences between males and females, or all communication conflicts between males and females. It is a pretty modest hypothesis after all.

I don't think it is wise to contest Xopher's assertions about communication conflicts rooted in cultural assumptions about male and female roles in his life - I expect that he knows quite a bit about his life. Note also that he was willing to back off from labeling two different communication styles as being male or female - but he was insisting that there were two different communcation styles. That sounds reasonable to me.

-r.
*ref studies where people treat babies differently depending on blue/pink color coding.
**the devil is in the details here

#261 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 02:32 PM:

Stereotypic white men seem to play for points

Ah. Stereotypic white men. Let me know when we get to talking about actual people.

#262 ::: Frank Trollman ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 02:51 PM:

Testosterone
Testosterone is a very important hormone. It exists in men and women, and interacts with many biological processes in the body. Let's talk about some of them:

Testosterone is most famous for being the "Male Hormone", and indeed it is a requirement for the development of male sexual characteristics. Before birth, certain minimum levels of testosterone are required for the testes to descend into the scrotum and for the penis to extend from the pelvis. Spikes in testosterone are required at puberty for the reproductive system to mature and throughout life for spermatogenesis to occur.

Testosterone also promotes male secondary characteristics Ė thicker skin, deeper voice, broader shoulders, thicker "Adam's Apple".

Testosterone regulates mood and social functioning. Adolescents with high levels of Testosterone exhibit a low tendency for physical violence (and excel socially), while violent actions are substantially more likely to be perpetuated by those with low testosterone level.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=pubmed&dopt=Abstract&list_uids=8885586

Testosterone promotes anabolism of proteins and increases growth of bone and muscle mass. Testosterone is also a regulator of the capping of bones preventing further growth (not the only time testosterone levels cause opposite effects in different concentrations). People with higher testosterone levels are, for the amount of effort they put into such things, larger and stronger than those without.

Testosterone, incidentally, increases inter-female aggressive tendencies in rats and other animals. That is, while a male songbird given testosterone injections sings more and fights less, a female rat given an injection of testosterone fights other female rats more.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=9398371&dopt=Abstract

#263 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 03:02 PM:

If identical twin caucasian males wearing the same clothes stand next to each other, are they stereoscopic white men?

#264 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 03:02 PM:

So I just read that interview with an f-to-m transsexual that rhandir linked to, and what the heck's up with that thing at the end? Supposedly NYC hotdog vendors will offer men a large hotdog (for 25 cents extra), but not women. Are any other male New Yorkers totally mystified by this claim? I've never even heard of this before, much less had it offered to me. Maybe it's recent; I haven't had a street hotdog in years.

#265 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 03:08 PM:

Clark: What exactly is a "normative suggestion"? Either a statement is normative, or it's a suggestion. It's like having "optional laws".

For my money much of this discussion takes a position and finds something in Tannen in opposition to that position...

Funny, I thought most of this discussion /w/a/s/ /a/b/o/u/t/ /k/n/i/t/t/i/n/g/ was about whether Tannen's claims mapped to observation and, as such, whether they had any explanatory power.

#266 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 03:19 PM:

If you allow homosexuality they'll all be doing it...

There often seems to be an element of "If you allow homosexuality they'll all want to do it to me, and I find that really yucky/secretly want it*."

Unfortunately, not everyone who expresses this view is in nearly as much danger of being fancied by One Of Them as he thinks.

* (delete as appropriate).

#267 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 03:26 PM:

Stereotypic white men. Let me know when we get to talking about actual people.

Stereotypes can sometimes be no different than statistical averages, both can accurately reflect traits of some bell curve section of the population, and therefore, actual people. Stereotypes, statistics, and the like can be useful in understanding what happens when actual individuals fitting those archtypes interact in the real world.

But the thing is, and what I keep thwaking Xopher about, is that you can't take the stereotype or statistics or archetype, apply it to any particular individual, and extract some sort of value judgement about that individual.

There is an statistical chunk of the male population that exibits behaviour under the bell curve of which Xopher does not fit. That doesn't mean Xopher gets to say he's "in fact a weirdo". The statistics, bell curves, stereotypes, archtypes, and similar tidbits of information say nothing about Xopher in a qualitative way.

So while stereotypes can be talking about some real poeple who fit the stereotype, it doesn't talk about all people or say anything about people outside that stereotype. I was saying to xopher that some of what he was saying about "men" and "women" was true, but it's only true for individuals who fit the notion he's using for "men" and "women", and when speaking about an individual outside that notion, (and he spoke of himself as outside that notion), then the notion is no longer true for the individual.

The archtype is true for the individuals for which the archtype fits.

But that's where it stops, which is where people mess up. The archtype is talking about some real people. But not all real people.

I think it goes back to a fundamental way of relating to 'knowing' something, in that a lot of people tend to see a pattern, create an archtype that fits it, and then operate under the assumption that they have a complete set of all types. They know all there is to know. So when an individual is encountered that doesn't fit their assumptions, they relate to the individual as broken, rather than their assumptions being incomplete and a simplification of reality.

If I could give the world but one piece of insight, it would be for everyone to know how little they know.

#268 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 04:01 PM:

Well said, Greg London.*
(that's why I used the phrase "sterotypical white men" and qualified it as being based on my own limted experience/milleu. At least, I think I qualified it?)
Also, Stephan, good one.)

-r.
*though I stand by Xopher's right to call himself a weirdo, should he so choose.

#269 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 04:18 PM:

Steff Z: Boeing has a surplus store? selling what? (My mother - also a knitter - wondered once what she'd done to have two daughters who could get lost in hardware stores. Tools! Parts! Really neat looking whatchamacallits and thingamajigs!) And I'd consider knitting in Fry's, if I went in there more than once a year, if it weren't frequently brain-rattlingly loud.

(I knit most of a Snowdrop shawl on my commuter train. And I cross-stitch during the ride when I'm not knitting.)

#270 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 04:22 PM:

though I stand by Xopher's right to call himself a weirdo, should he so choose.

Xopher has a right to call himself whatever name he wants. I had issue with his claim that said name was a "fact" based on statistics. It's like saying most people drink Coke or Pepsi, and that "proves" that people who drink Mountain Dew are "weird".

There's a difference between (1) declaring yourself a weirdo, an artist, a person of honor, or whatever label you wish to assign yourself as a way of calling on yourself to be that, and (2) declaring yourself a weirdo or some other label because some outside source wants to limit you to the inside of that box.

it sounded to me that xopher was using someone's label to beat himself up with, and like any friend, I thwacked him for it.

#271 ::: Scott H ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 04:27 PM:

Greg London wrote:

sorry. stupid geek humor. I've been coding 10 to 12 hours a day for most of a month now. It seemed funny at the time. but

I too have been coding for a really long time, and you're right. It WAS funny.

Xopher wrote:

The failure to communicate was damaging to our relationship

FWIW: my experience has been that communication is waaaay overrated. 80% of a good relationship is knowing when to shut up.

#272 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 04:43 PM:

Ah. Stereotypic white men. Let me know when we get to talking about actual people.

I know a number of stereotypic white men. Some of my BEST FRIENDS are stereotypic white men!!!!

(OK, not really. Or not much. But anyway.)

Thank you Greg and rhandir. If I hadn't been cut off by a watermain break, I'd have said that I proclaim Weird Pride. I'm the guy who pointed out that one definition of 'weird' (as people use the term, not that they'd admit it) is 'unusually rational'. That's not the sense that I was using, though.

Greg, what I was actually trying to get at was my realization that my unpleasant encounters in gay bars were due to a communication problem, and that I was the one with, shall we say, an unusual communication style. This was a huge improvement over my previous theory, which was that all gay men, at least the ones I'd encountered in bars, were obnoxious assholes!

The fact is, those men were using perfectly reasonable osken communications. I was reading them through a biven communication filter, and taking offense. This made me feel MUCH BETTER about those interactions, though it was much too late to fix any of them. Taking offense where none is meant never improves your life, I find.

Of course, I'd much rather find a guy who matches me biven for biven and osken for osken (that is, who uses the same mix of styles that I use). But chances are (pace Ulrika) that I'm going to have to learn to deal with an osken guy—and probably a fairly arrogant guy, if my previous taste in men is anything to go by. The thing is, I no longer have to read osken as biven, so at least I'll notice when a communication failure has taken place.

#273 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 04:44 PM:

it sounded to me that xopher was using someone's label to beat himself up with, and like any friend, I thwacked him for it.

The thanks in my previous post were for that thwack. May I have another? :-)

#274 ::: Mark DF ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 04:46 PM:

If you allow homosexuality they'll all be doing it...

Oh, no, not me, man. I'd stop.

#275 ::: Stefanie Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 05:00 PM:

And the special form, "I'm going to let you go now," when it's the person doing the speaking who needs to go. This happens a lot on the phone and I really dislike it, because it suggests that the person cutting off the conversation is doing the other one a favor when in fact it's the other way 'round. Makes me grind my teeth every time.

Well, speaking as someone who does that, FW(L)IW, Miss Manners is on my side (scroll down to the last question).

Miss Manners would like to convince you that it is a useful new-ish convention. It implies that the other person's time is more valuable than one's own. And it beats the sign-off of "I think I hear my mother calling me."

#276 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 05:09 PM:

The Onion has some insight on "then everybody would do it".

#277 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 05:21 PM:

The little primer on testosterone was provided by my son at my request.

Far be it from me to tell Xopher how weird he is or isn't, or even how osken and biven he is (where do those words come from, Xopher? They're really fun in the mouth), or any of that. It's just the particular argument I was objecting to.

rhandir -- exactly what I've been objecting to is any simplicity in any explanation for any aspect of human behavior. Complex is the human strategy. Or, as Gregory Bateson used to say over and over, it's all overdetermined: there are many causes, any of which might be interesting in some particular context. It's just a mistake to burden influences and tendencies and pressures with as much weight as people like to do when they're speaking simply.

#278 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 05:32 PM:

Lucy, as far as I know I made them up. I wanted words with no cultural baggage attached, so I invented some. Glad you like them.

Fun in the mouth R us. :-)

#279 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 05:49 PM:

And about the particular argument, Lucy: I wasn't intending to argue the circle you define. That would be silly, as you point out. I was just trying to express why I found Tannen useful in explaining my own experience. I think I've since clarified in a later post; does it make more sense now?

#280 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 07:23 PM:

Tools! Parts! Really neat looking whatchamacallits and thingamajigs!)

PJ Evans: I am not particularly handy around the house; I prefer to not touch electric wires or plumbing of any kind, and though I have been known to pick up a hammer, I hammer like a girl. (That's a joke. Oh, never mind.) Despite this, I LOVE hardware stores, and can roam for hours through Home Depot, admiring all kinds of stuff I couldn't use if my life depended on it. (This is something none of my friends knows, except, now, the ones who read this blog.) I finally figured out why. I was the eldest child. My father, who loved to do home repairs, used to take me to the local hardware stores when he needed a tool, a part, or a piece of wood. We would go to Sears, to places with large and small tools, to lumber yards, and he would then proceed to have a blissful time handling tools, talking to people, and finally deciding what to purchase. I loved my father, and I think his joy became my joy.

How does this relate to the topic at hand? Dunno. But I think it does.

#281 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 07:24 PM:

Clark: What exactly is a "normative suggestion"? Either a statement is normative, or it's a suggestion. It's like having "optional laws".

MJ, in my experience, takes a you really oughta wanta approach to laying down the law. I was trying to convey the notion that MJ has very firm suggestions/preconceptions on what folks really oughta wanta and useful suggestions on how to achieve them in the use of language. I suspect Arslan's methods are to be condemned even in the support of a noble cause and negative selection is a bad approach to Utopia - "really oughta wanta" describes it well to steal a phrase. I'd say frex that MJ might ask you take your shoes off at her door but never demand that society furnish slippers at every door. [O]ptional laws sounds to me like a very good expression of the notion I was trying to convey. That's just my reading of course YMMV. Notice that AJ and Orson Scott Card and any number of very diverse people have found something in MJ's writing to like and that MJ's agent judged MJ's writing as fine as any of the other fine writers the agent represented. I'd look for more than 7 types of ambiguity there. Then too I tend toward the usage in economics where positive economics deals with what is and normative economics deals with what ought to be.

Funny, I thought most of this discussion /w/a/s/ /a/b/o/u/t/ /k/n/i/t/t/i/n/g/ was about whether Tannen's claims mapped to observation and, as such, whether they had any explanatory power.

For my money Tannen's observations map to her observations - both participant and setup and taped and taken from generally available sources. I'd say Tannen's assorted testable hypotheses are not refuted.

Assuming arguendo ....the fact that they seem gender-linked is a statistical phenomenon.... I believe that this is because the language behavior she's portraying is accurate for a population of upper-class privileged white Northeasterners emphasis added ozarque op. cit. then I take that to mean that statistically they are gender-linked for purposes of all the analysis I am capable of doing or following.

This in no way refutes alternative hypotheses and is reminder that it takes an advanced what I sometimes call a mature theory to achieve the model stage because so many things are co-linear and so susceptible to misleading results - what some call data-mining ("Adam Smith" Money the stock market follows the Red Sox post hoc ergo propter hoc).

I suggest that Tannen is discussing specific populations - including of course her Greek inlaws and others who are not "upper-class privileged white Northeasterners" and says so repeatedly - that Tannen suggests that for a given population a given thing follows make of it what you will.

(I tried to convey this with the Malloy analogy - Malloy talks about costume in contexts Malloy has researched - Dress for Success is not a guide to hall costumes and Tannen is not generalizing beyond specific times and places where she has data - pushing the analogy Malloy says the rules for office dress are different if you are Olive Beech sitting in your office in Wichita with your family name on the building and it neither follows that other women in other circumstances should imitate Olive Beech nor that Olive Beech should imitate other women - Elgin I suggest (op. cit. supra) is looking for universal rules of language associated with universal rules of proper behavior (Sapir-Whorf and obs. sf. The Languages of Pao) and so misfires in her criticism of Tannen.

Going on at excessive length - in my experience men in a tense circumstance will bond by insulting as an expression of membership in the group - the locker room, the military, the dating bar may all have aspects of tension and relief. Precisely the same words may be fighting and bonding words in different circumstances Smile when you say that Owen Wister -


#282 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 07:30 PM:

Regarding rhandir's stuff:

A female-to-male transsexual, after a couple years of testosterone, is physically indistinguishable from any other man as long as he keeps his clothes on. I wish to provide a gentle reminder that it is not polite to refer to such a person as a "woman". Half my friends are in this category, and believe me, they have low voices, beards, male pattern baldness, etc. It's really hard to suss out unless, like me, you spend so much time with transgendered folk that you can follow subtle signs -- and even then it's not terribly easy.

In other news, I do believe some of the hormone information in the article is (a) true for some people but not all; or (b) erroneous. (Like the corpus callosum thing; that's from disputed studies.) Not surprising, and no blame in it, as in every case where there is a broad range of personal experience and it often falls into dispute, people will try very hard to back up their own -- like with psychiatric drugs, in general and specific.

There's so much more I'd like to say -- this is one of my pet topics and I could expand for ages, but I'm in Maine, Jim Kelly is doing a reading, and I have to scamper off to it. Tally-ho!

#283 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 07:40 PM:

Lucy Kemnitzer wrote:
exactly what I've been objecting to is any simplicity in any explanation for any aspect of human behavior. Complex is the human strategy. Or, as Gregory Bateson used to say over and over, it's all overdetermined: there are many causes, any of which might be interesting in some particular context.

I completely agree. However, the value of a simple, limited, explanation of an aspect of human behavior is that it is testable and that it is limited. (It can't possibly explain everything.)

Most people think in terms of simple causes: A causes B. I think in terms of multiple, overlapping causes, each of which contribute to the outcome, sometimes interacting in interesting ways. That is where multivariate statistics comes in; you can say that x amount of the variation can be attributed to y variable. (Not which variation, but how much of the variation in the whole group.)

If the genderlect hypothesis is correct, then it would predict misunderstandings qualitatively like the kinds of misunderstandings you get between cultural groups. For some operational definitions, this is the case. The significance is that there are known rules of thumb for dealing with those kinds of misunderstandings.

Most people reduce this to a rule of thumb: "that other gender usually thinks about things this other way, so it's probably worth checking to see if this conflict is caused by that." I can't see anything wrong with that, and it beats the earlier rule of thumb: "$othergender is stupid and irrational."

Why do I like the genderlect hypothesis? It assumes that men and women aren't idiots, that they behave rationally according to the different assumptions about the world that they were taught.

My hunch is here that we aren't really disagreeing - that your objection is to "one theory to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them?" That would be a dark future, to replace sexism with some kind of formalized, time-frozen, culture-bound linguistic theory!

-r.

#284 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 08:13 PM:

For my money Tannen's observations map to her observations

Dandy, if circular, but not interesting. They still do not, at least as reported here, map to mine.

#285 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 09:08 PM:

Multiple, overlapping causes as rhandir puts it is my viewpoint on how gender happens in the first place too -- the most easily identifiable cause being chromosomes, followed by hormones, which I imagine is why the literature places a great deal of emphasis on these factors. Nurture is a lot less measurable. You can't do a simple test to tell how much "boy training" or "girl training" someone's carrying around in their blood, and you can't figure out the chemical composition of "boy training" or "girl training" either. But it's definitely present, even if they don't make test strips for it.

It's enough to give anyone a science headache.

#286 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 09:48 PM:

I just saw an annoying commercial again. It's the one where the guy says "This guy's the man!" about a great car, and then the female owner walks up. And they act like Ha, he was wrong, it's a woman.

Anyone remember the slogan "The best man for the job may be a woman"? Well, "the man" could be a woman too.

So: to the women here, if some guy said to you "dude, you're the man!" How would you react?

#287 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 10:06 PM:

I think the reason Deborah Tannen's ideas are taken so seriously is because she's attractive and speaks well on TV.

#288 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 10:50 PM:

I've never seen her on TV, and I'm pretty much immune to female attractiveness.

#289 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 11:01 PM:

Xopher: "So: to the women here, if some guy said to you "dude, you're the man!" How would you react?"

Xopher, I'd say thank you!

I''m also re-composing my thoughts because I was feeling cranky when I said I'm not much for feminists.... but may take until the weekend because work is sucking my brains out.

#290 ::: Jen Roth ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 11:11 PM:

Xopher, on a related note, I hate it when people compare men to women as a way of insulting them (calling them pussies, for example, or girly-men). I also am not too fond of the practice of saying that somebody "has balls" or "needs to grow some balls", implying that courage requires testicles.

(Oddly, I really have no problem with the use of "Be a man" as a way of exhorting a male to act like an adult and do what needs to be done, probably because I could easily imagine saying "Be a woman" to a female in the same situation.)

#291 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 11:15 PM:

If someone said to me "Dude, you're the man!" I would smile, and appreciate both the irony and the compliment.

#292 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 13, 2006, 11:24 PM:

Tannen with Georgetown University certainly does a fine job of promotion see e.g. the website http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/tannend/ where she lists and links and offers for sale quite a number of her own works including no charge at http://www.georgetown.edu/faculty/tannend/CS%20Excerpts.html what appear to be the audio recordings behind her book Conversational Style with page references.

I'll defer to others with personal experience of the mother daughter relationship but this pushing a later book sounds more than plausible to me:

I'm a linguist. I study how people talk to each other, and how the ways we talk affect our relationships. My books are filled with examples of conversations that I record or recall or that others record for me or report to me. For each example, I begin by explaining the perspective that I understand immediately because I share it: in mother-daughter talk, the daughter's, because I'm a daughter but not a mother. Then I figure out the logic of the other's perspective. Writing this book forced me to look at conversations from my mother's point of view.

....I interviewed dozens of women of varied geographic, racial and cultural backgrounds, and I had informal conversations or e-mail exchanges with countless others. ...

Quite possibly the logic Tannen figures out is wrong but I suspect the conversations are real on a least effort basis - easier to record with the aid of students as Tannen does than to make them up. Like the fabled description of Wren's work as amusing or maybe pompous aweful and artificial I don't doubt many conversations are tied to their own time and place. Tannen emphasizes this herself with her many examples, chosen for contrast, from the Greek society she married into.

#293 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 12:00 AM:

See, that's what I thought about "you're the man!" So the woman in the commercial likely appreciated having her the-manness recognized, and it was the friend, not the main guy, who was being a jerk. I hate those commercials, where they're all about someone being wrong...when they're NOT wrong. She WAS the man, dammit.

Jen Roth, I've heard a woman say, admiringly of another woman, "Wow, she has some serious ovaries to do that!"

#294 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 01:32 AM:

My wife's family is prone to statements like "Someone needs to turn the heat up." I've occasionally thought about saying "Hell, Yes--it's cold in here" to see if the results are any different...

#295 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 01:38 AM:

Xopher I''m used to sometimes 'being the man' though I'm fairly femme.

I'm just not afraid/leery of: spiders, bugs in general, clearing mousetraps to re-use (the snap-kind), fetching attic-trapped squirrels far enough away that the Mo. Dept.. of Natural Resources says they won't come back (10 miles) and setting such traps.

My family really appreciates my pest-animal-fu. And I really appreciate the dumbest-of-all-cats-I've-ever-known(tm) mouse-fu. It it wasn't for the fact that she can do that, she's probably the most waste of protoplasm in our house because she IS the dumbest of cats I've ever had.

I just do not want her tangling with a squirrel (they've got HUGE teeth and could probably shred a smallish cat so much that it'd have to be put to sleep.....) Mice are her league sport and more power to her.

#296 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 01:44 AM:

Xopher, in our microculture gender silliness is highly appreciated, and especially amongst the youngsters saying "you're the man!" to a woman is really the mildest and least of it. I'm pretty sure that gender silliness is a major force for good.

But I saw this other commercial which was all-out gender war:

This guy's in a grocery store checking out piles of groceries including huge packages of tofu. He's jealous of this other guy who's checking out huge packages of beef. Hummers are brought to the tofu guy's attention somehow, and he goes out and buys one -- fade to "RESTORE YOUR MANHOOD" white on black.

That commercial is wrong on so many levels, and no, it's not funny, it's disgusting. for the record, I do not think a man driving such a vehicle is manly, I think he's a decadent, sniveling, nasty little piece of work. You want manly? Manly's the guy bringing home a week's groceries on a subway. Or walking all over town, that's a good manly.

#297 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 05:25 AM:

My boss one project back used to say "Good man!" to me sometimes when I'd pulled some particularly elephantine rabbit out of a tiny hat.

Sometimes he'd then freeze up, realising suddenly that that was a male-oriented comment and, well, I'm not male. Then everyone would laugh at him and I would say "thanks". I appreciated he compliment.

But I never considered saying "good woman" when he did something well.

#298 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 06:49 AM:

Lucuy:

Did you fire off complaints to the advertiser and the network the ad was aired on?

[Clorox remains on my excrement list for the woman-is-household-happislave ad campaign that ended months ago...]

Regarding adolescents in growth spurts--their brains apparently are also getting rewired during growth spurts, and the neurons aren't metaphorically all connected up nd firing in the correct order.... fingering "testosterone" as the culprit is a red herring; the sensors and actuators all have to get recalibrated, because when one has mutating sensors and actuators, in the sense the among other things, when your measurement equipment is changing shape, and the communications medium path lengths are changing ("timing and synchronization are always problems, and when someone is growing, the nervous system has to grow for the nerves to reach when there ret of the body is growing, and signals in the nervous system take -time- to travel to and front the brain and elsewhere... if your body's been calibrated that you are X height and reach, and suddenly you're not that size anymore, there are going to be Registration Problems... reaching for something when your fingers are two centimeters longer than the body's been -trained- to, means -awkwardness-, at the very least. There are probably also effects of signals getting crossed and routed to wrong places, because the signal -timing- is off and that can mean the signal goes to the wrong location for action/response....rewiring the brain with growth spurts, is rewiring an organic computer, and there are areas which do multiple tasks. Throw one program off by physical changes to the nervous system, and chemical changes with the growth spurt also involves chemicals involved in setting off andcontrollin the growth, and there are perobably a bunch of -other- programs that there are cascading effects to, from physical changes and chemical changes, and synergistic effect with different parts of the brain being affected different by the changes and changing conditions...

#300 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 07:43 AM:

xopher, i do feel like i've been seeing more & more "conform or we'll kill you" (with the "killing" being represented by something falling from the sky or otherwise shooting on from off-camera, & hitting the nonconformist in the head) ads aimed at men.

there's one for, i think, the cfl (canadian football league) where a guy is discussing moisturizer, or air freshener, or something, enthusiastically, & a giant football flies in & knocks him over. the black screen, the logo for cfl, & "you need football." tee hee.

i've seen the same basic plot used by several companies. these ads make me very sad. i think feminism taught women, at least women who care to think about such things, to recognize oppressive messages & advertising, & to see when they're trying to keep you down. i wonder if men today have tools for fighting these horrible messages (i mean, not men like here, where everyone knows we're all big nerds & nutty conspiracy theorists anyhow).

#301 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 07:46 AM:

& i see now that i was actually echoing & responding to lucy. just to clarify.

#302 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 08:40 AM:

Miriam, the advertising on British TV seems very different to what I hear reported of American TV.

There's certainly adverts which look more North American, even if the voice-overs are localised. I remember one for some sort of indigestion remedy which showed some sort of generic cop, but not obviously from the USA either.

Anyway, we don't get adverts for the Hummer.

We get these. Anyone used a Hummer to pull a freight train?

And there's a guy in Yorkshire planning to drive a Land Rover from the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Horn. Including the Bering Strait.

#303 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 09:11 AM:

Several topics, condensed for your convenience!

Miss Manners would like to convince you that it is a useful new-ish convention. It implies that the other person's time is more valuable than one's own. And it beats the sign-off of "I think I hear my mother calling me."

Much though it pains me to disagree with Miss Manners, in this case I have to. If someone tells me that they have to end the conversation, it really doesn't matter to me what words they use; they are telling me that they have to go. It doesn't imply any particular judgement about the relative worth of our time, unless they think that I think that talking to them is a waste of my time, and I'd hope no one I'm friends with would have such a low opinion of themself. Why not just be upfront about it? "I'm sorry, I have to go." No need to bring mothers or any other proximate cause into it.

Obviously, your milage may vary, but it bugs me. :)

Tools! Parts! Really neat looking whatchamacallits and thingamajigs!

As I was wandering the aisles of Home Despot this weekend (for a home improvement project, alas, nothing more interesting), it occurred to me to wonder how long it takes a new hire at such a place to realize how much sex toy shopping goes on there. The conversations must be fascinating: "Hey, Jake, there was just this couple in here buying wooden dowels, heavy-duty eyebolts, the hardware to mount a porch swing and a hundred feet of rope. What do you think they were making?" "Well, was one of 'em wearing a collar?"

So: to the women here, if some guy said to you "dude, you're the man!" How would you react?

In the unlikely event that he said it without irony, I would raise an eyebrow at him until he realized and then take the compliment in the spirit in which it was meant. I say "unlikely event" because most of my friends would only say it to me as a joke (though the compliment would be sincere). We do call each other "dude" without regard to gender, though.

#304 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 09:14 AM:

I do not think a man driving such a vehicle (Hummer) is manly, I think he's a decadent, sniveling, nasty little piece of work.

hm, this probably isn't the time to enumerate my wish list for toys. I haven't quite groked why people hate the Hummer so much, but I don't get out much. According to wikipedia, the H1 diesel gets 16 mpg. I was thinking that if I can't get an H1, I might put a Toyota Tundra on my wishlist instead, which gets 18 mpg. If I could get a diesel H1, I'd probably look into putting a grease kit on it so I could burn alternative fuels. Toyota Tundra's, as far as I've been able to figure, don't sell diesels.

Alternatively, I could put the VBL on my wish list. but I havne't seen any for sale anywhere. wikipedia put it's numbers in metric, but I think I converted it to be around 15 mpg for the diesel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VBL

I used to own a full-size Ford Bronco, and whenever my wife and I tell the story of how we met, part of the sequence involves our first date, where upon, I put my Bronco in 4WD, drove about two hours at around 20 mph through one of the worst blizzards for decades to get to her place, passing at least a dozen abandoned vehicles on the side of major 8 lane highways, including one semi-tractor trailer.

The H1 just seemed to strike me as having more of that nothing-is-going-to-stop-me attitude. But I really don't want to be wiping eggs off my car every morning, so I'll probably get a Tundra king cab when the time comes. I don't understand it, but oh well.

I have a feeling that if I had a VBL, no one would egg that. Of course it's friggen armored, so that might alter a potential egger's decision making process.

#305 ::: Nikki Jewell ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 09:33 AM:

Re: the hot dogs, Elizabeth David used to get angry when a waiter in a top restaurant brought her a half-bottle of wine when she'd ordered a whole one - just because she was a woman. Or when they implied that women didn't know anything about wine, or only liked certain types.

Re: the whole women saying they aren't feminists thing, does anyone else get 'strident' when young women refer to themselves or their friends as 'birds'?

#306 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 09:46 AM:

Dave Bell: And there's a guy in Yorkshire planning to drive a Land Rover from the Cape of Good Hope to Cape Horn. Including the Bering Strait.

Presumably he's hoping the ancient land-bridge will reform across the Bering Strait in the time it takes him to get from Good Hope to the Far North.

Hmm... Not an impossible bet, I guess.

#307 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 10:38 AM:

Carrie S., I'm very much with you in regarding "dude" as an established gender-neutral form of address. (cf. "Guys.")

#308 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 11:20 AM:

if your body's been calibrated that you are X height and reach, and suddenly you're not that size anymore, there are going to be Registration Problems... reaching for something when your fingers are two centimeters longer than the body's been -trained- to, means -awkwardness-, at the very least. Very noticeable at the moment in teenage tennis star Maria Sharapova, now that she's around 6'3" tall. Kinda scary how big they get (since I'm a foot shorter).

#309 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 11:28 AM:

My wife's family is prone to statements like "Someone needs to turn the heat up."

"Yeah, everyone thinks so, but probably no one will."

Paula Helm Murray, there's a difference between "being the man" and being "The Man!" If you examine the cork and taste and approve the wine at dinner, you're being the man. If you do what no one else could, or had the guts to do, you're The Man. Sometimes spelled (and pronounced) Da Man to distinguish.

I think you're probably both, just to be clear.

Lucy, I agree about gender silliness. Next time we're at a convention, especially one attended by Chip Delany, let's all use gender words the way the narrator does in Stars in My Pockets Like Grains of Sand—'woman' means any human; 'she' is used generically of any person; 'he' is used always and only of someone to whom one is sexually attracted.

Of course, this will be easy for me!

And I HATE those commercials. I can't think of any reason why a private person of sound mind would want a Hummer. And they're a huge safety hazard in a congested city environment even when they're parked; No one can see over, around, or through them. I personally think private ownership of them should be banned outright. Some military vehicles transfer well to a civilian environment (Jeeps, for example), but some do not. What's next, "be the first in your neighborhood to own an APC"?

But then, I live in Hoboken NJ and don't drive. If I learned and bought a car, it would be a Mini Cooper, which you can park anywhere.

Clorox remains on my excrement list

I can't remember where I first saw the phrase 'fecal roster' for that, but I like it and I'm gonna steal it.

miriam beetle, I hate those too, and all ads that glorify stupid and obnoxious male behavior in the name "being a real man." Or just stupid behavior in general. Captain Morgan Spiced Rum made my fecal roster (tolja) for their "got a little Captain in ya?" ads, and there were a string of ads for something or other where the driver of a car was being an asshole to someone outside it.

My "favorite" was the one where the guy who'd gone into the store to get drinks for the others gets teased with "no really, I'll let you get in this time" and every time the driver pulls away just as he tries to get in. Was that a car commercial? Gee, let's assume everyone who buys that car is a flaming asshole. Had I been the victim in that, it would have happened twice, then I'd have sat down on the curb and said "OK, since obviously you can't be trusted an inch, turn the car off and get out of it, then I'll get in. OR I can sit here and drink my drink, then start on yours."

Yeah, that's pretty osken. But it also applies an important principle: when people are having fun at your expense, the crucial thing to do is to make it no fun. Of course, they'll say "can't you take a joke?" To that, the response is "I can, when it's funny to me as well."

Greg, what I can't grok is why a man of your intelligence would even want a Hummer. It's a gas guzzler, of course, but it's also huge and obnoxious and excessive. That last is key; since no one could possibly really need one (in civilian life), owning one seems like vulgar ostentation. It says "Hey, look at me! I waste the Earth's resources! I take up way more room than you! I can drive right over a traffic jam, because I'm the meanest SOB in the valley!"

It's a dickwagon, in other words. I assume you're not a dick (and I have evidence in this very thread to back up that assumption). Why do you even want one? Serious question. Also: what's a VBL? Never heard of it before. My brain keeps going "Visual Basic L...um...L..."

Michael, I understand that there was never a land bridge all the way across the Bering Strait, but different bits of land that appeared at various times, so that random migration left people who had been in northeastern Asia in northwestern America.

This could be out of date by now, but if not...he could have to drive ve. ry. slow. ly.

#310 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 11:31 AM:

Can everyone tell that I have older brothers? I just realized how younger-brotherly I was being in my description of what to do when people are having fun at your expense.

#311 ::: odaiwai (formerly dave) ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 11:33 AM:
Presumably he's hoping the ancient land-bridge will reform across the Bering Strait in the time it takes him to get from Good Hope to the Far North.

Parts of the strait freeze over during the wintertime. Several expeditions have attempted to cross the straits by land-based transport and some have even succeeded:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/england/humber/4872348.stm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bering_Strait

#312 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 11:40 AM:

Greg: I hate Hummers because, in addition to the lousy gas mileage, they are the ugliest cars on the road.

My teenage son regularly calls me dude, or more accurately "Duuuuude," (think Keanu Reeves, but blonde). Usually he catches himself and corrects it to "er, Mom."

#313 ::: Laurence ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 11:41 AM:

I can't think of any reason why a private person of sound mind would want a Hummer.

They're big enough to live in?

#314 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 11:42 AM:

Laurence, so is a clunky old VW Microbus™.

#315 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 11:46 AM:

Xopher:
Last summer my son and I went up to the attic to prop open the vent. There was a wasp in the attic. My son (20 yrs old at the time) was freaking out. I sent him downstairs to find a larger block of wood to jam in the vent. While he was gone the wasp landed on the floor and I stomped on it. When my son returned I showed him the dead wasp and he said *ahem*: "Mom, you have proven once again that you are The Man in this family."

Hehe. I loved it.

#316 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 11:47 AM:

I just realized how younger-brotherly I was being in my description of what to do when people are having fun at your expense.

I have an older sister and I pretty much have the same reaction to people having fun at my expense. (Of course, she also spent a lot of time reminding me that she could always get her way by hitting me in the balls. But that wasn't her being funny.)

#317 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 11:53 AM:

Greg London,
As much as I dislike how SUVs are used in our culture, I have to admit that the VBL is pretty darn cool. (e.g. Maximum Swim Speed: 5.4 km/h you wouldn't happen to know to what depth?) I really like odd looking, impractical vehicles, particularly if they have some outre feature that can be occasionally useful. My own tastes run towards the Nash Metropolitan, or the original WWII/a jeep. I would just die with joy if someone could manufacture a small hybrid engine that would be compatible with a Nash Metropolitan drivetrain.*

-r.
*yes, I know the engineering obstacles are insurmountable - stuff like weight, size, where you put the batteries, expense of small runs of equipment, etc etc.

#318 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 12:18 PM:

"You're the man!"

"Damn straight!!" says I, says I.

I'm somewhat bemused at the rest of the responses, all of which seem to involve saying "Thank you!" This seems unnecessarily submissive, under the circs.

#319 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 12:21 PM:

The way I see it, rather than the definition of "woman" being upgraded, the long-held definition of "man" (as "full adult human being") is gradually being expanded to include women.

By this the male privilege zone has shrunk vastly -- to the point that a male who wants to reinforce the idea that they are a man (definition: holder of privilege, above woman) as opposed to a man (definition: human, with male-gendered connotations: the you-the-man definition) must indulge ridiculous cliches, and narrow their field of gender expression further.

I think this is actually a good thing to see happening: it means, I'd guess, that gender as power-zoning is on its way to disappearing entirely, which will leave us with gender as an expression of various things, less the power baggage. But it's awkward while the language transitions.

Gender vocabulary is awkward: there are no words for "man" right now that don't have any privilege connotations. There are few words for privilege that don't have any male connotations. Vocabulary is being reshaped and defined, and in the meantime, it's difficult for men to find various things, such as clothing which is not boring and a social role which is gendered without being tied into gender privilege structures.

It's similarly difficult for women to expand into the "privilege area" without taking on masculine re-labeling.

And I'm not sure exactly where I fit into this, except that, at present, I'm pronoun-neutral in a (public/internet) context and that's awkward. People stick to the one that seems to denote my physiology, and I've been hearing it for long enough that I'm used to it, but all the same, it doesn't suit. Trouble is, I'm not sure if the other one does. At least, not sure enough to take hormones, at present.

When half the time you are buying one gender's clothing and half the time you are buying the other's, you get to see how clothing stores are battlegrounds...

#320 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 12:27 PM:

what I can't grok is why a man of your intelligence would even want a Hummer. It's a gas guzzler, of course, but it's also huge and obnoxious and excessive. That last is key;

Well, lets look at that list one at a time:

It's a gas guzzler:
H1 diesel is listed at 16 mpg
Toyota Tundra gas is listed at 18 mpg

It's huge:
The H1 does have a wider footprint. To increase it's clearance, the transmission and transfer case are pushed up into the cabin, which then means the seats had to be pushed father apart, making it wider.

I don't think it blocks the view of the road for other drivers any more than an SUV or one of the larger minivan's do. But in some cities with narrow street, it could be a problem getting around in.

It's obnoxious:
Er, no, some of the drivers are obnoxious. The vehicle itself has no personality.

It's excessive:
Well, that has several possible interpretations, so I'm not sure in which way it is excessive. for functionality, it seems like a better version of the fullsized Ford Bronco I used to drive. So, excessive could mean better. Price-wise, yeah, it's out of my range right now, which is why it's on my "maybe some day" list. But milage-wise, it doesn't seem much different than the alternative I was considering, which was a Toyota Tundra.

Why a man of my intelligence would even want a Hummer:
Like I said, I used to own a full sized Ford Bronco. It was 4 wheel drive, had plenty of space in back for tools, jumper cables, emergency equipment, and 50 feet of logging chain to pull a car out of a ditch. On rare occaision, when in the middle of nowhere, I would sleep in the back. I used the 4 wheel drive on many occaissions to get through snow and get around.

Other than cost, I see little difference between getting an H1 and getting some other full sized four wheel drive vehicle. Whether I drive a Bronco or a Tundra or a H1 does not determine whether I'm acting obnoxiously towards other drivers.

What's next, "be the first in your neighborhood to own an APC"?

Well, the VBL is an armored car. The thing about it that caught my eye was it was amphibious. when the polar caps melt, that might come in handy. It looks a lot smaller than a hummer so it won't block any views and should be able to get around in the city. And it gets around 15 mpg diesel. And when we run out of petroleum, it could probably convert to burn soybean oil. of course, it's armored, so it probably costs more than a hummer, which means its currently out of my price range. But I dream about owning a helicopter now and then too.

#321 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 12:35 PM:

rhandir, don't know what depth, the wikipedia article had some links. this one shows some pictures of it, including one fully in the water. It seems to ride pretty high, keeping the top of the hood out of the water. Some amphibious vehicles look like they barely float.


As for unusual vehicles. I owned a civilian jeep for a while, had a VW beetle for part of college, and was always partial to the truck that Kevin Bacon drove in "Flatliners".

#322 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 12:46 PM:

"TexAnne, you da man!"
"Betcher ass."

I wish to point out that I'm very femme in dress, so anyone who tells me I'm the man is doing it to be funny.

Greg: I drive a Corolla. Believe me, the Hummer is the absolute worst SUV to be stuck behind. Or beside. There is a real difference between Hummers and those other Overcompensation Machines.

#323 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 01:03 PM:

Those sorts of ads appeared on US TV years ago, with SUV at the top of a mountain and such.

They were obnoxious back then, and pushed wanton resource sqaundering and environmentally irresponsible/destructive behavior, and reckless driving... and in recent years there have been disclaimers added to the driving-backwards-on-highways and cars dropped out the back of vans etc. commercials saying things like "Professional drivers used, do not attempt this at home"...

#324 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 01:28 PM:

I can't think of any reason why a private person of sound mind would want a Hummer.

Well, speaking only for myself, I--

...Oh. You're talking about cars.

#325 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 01:40 PM:

Greg, the Hummer is SO huge that it's impossible to drive one through a tightly-congested urban area like Hoboken without being obnoxious in several ways. And I think they ARE significantly higher than most SUVs. That's what I meant by 'obnoxious'; the most considerate driver in the world could not drive one through Hoboken without seriously inconveniencing people at several points.

By 'excessive' I mean more than you need. What makes it BETTER than a Ford Bronco? There's a big downside in that it's so wide that parking it on the street anywhere is antisocial (I'm thinking of our little narrow one-way streets here) and so tall that it can obscure signage (which is a problem with some SUVs as well). What practical advantages does the Hummer over the Ford Bronco, other than being a macho display car?

#326 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 01:41 PM:

I'm with Lucy again. Anyone driving a Hummer is "a decadent, sniveling, nasty little piece of work." You want 4-wheel drive? Get a Subaru. You want 4-wheel drive with hauling capacity? A Hummer is not what you want, then. Get a truck.

Anything a SUV does, a station wagon or a minivan or a truck could do better. Except the all-important "make you feel like you're not such a worm."

SUVs screw up the road for everyone because you can't see through them to traffic ahead. For a truck, at least there's an excuse... Maybe the person actually needs to haul plywood. A Hummer screws up the road worse than anything else. That extra width cuts off a massively larger amount of the view ahead. Maybe you look at shadows on the dividing wall to see how traffic is going? Not behind a Hummer.

And they really are driven predominantly by morons. I surf the air disturbances of other cars to get better gas mileage, and SUVs are good for kicking up a lot of disturbed air... But Hummers are always blowing by at >80 mph, way too fast to be of any use. 16 mpg my ass. I'd be surprised if they pull 10 on the highway.

#327 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 01:42 PM:

Dan, yes, quite. That's why I'm careful to capitalize the car version. I will never give anyone a Hummer. A hummer, however...well, never mind.

#328 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 01:46 PM:

English has the words "people" and "person" and "persons" which are gender-neutral. Why don't they get used more?

Originally "man" was gender neutral, with wereman denote a male human, and wifman denoting a female human. Perhaps it was Christianization which dropped wereman out of usage/mindshare/psycological-space, or perhaps not, but somewhere along the timeline the male-gender-specific term for adult human got dropped with the originally gender-independent term perverted into a definition where the generic adult human was a male one and adult female humans, relegated to being exceptions and not what one thought of when referring to the generic "man."

Again, originally "man" was neutral gender--it still is in German I think--but the psychological landscape changed with what evolved into English and again, ditched the meme that the generic adult emancipated human could be either male or female, replacing it with a privileged position in society and thought that the default was male, and female was socially and psychologically an afterthought and inferior, and dismissible and to be overlooked or defined out of consideration.

The use of the terms "man" and "men" over the centuries have been used in ways to marginalize and keep female people marginalized, exploiting the ambiguity of whether legally "man" and "men" were referring to adult people, or merely adult males.... And that exploitation continues today.

#329 ::: rhandir ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 01:58 PM:

Paula Liberman,
How do you pronounce the vowels in wereman and wifman*? It would be nice to nudge those back into use.

-r.
*and does anyone know where I can look up the phonological history of words, that isn't a subscription-only academic resource?

#330 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 01:59 PM:

A woman I knew in college is a Hummer driver, and I think bought it for all the reasons that male egocentrics buy it that include for, for conspicuous consumption and exhibitionism, and "I'm well off enough to engage in conspicuous consumption and buy an egomobile that most of you can't afford and aren't going to get to cut off in traffic!"

The more recently I've been doing a lot of driving, the more I hate SUV drivers and a lot of recreational vehicle truck drivers, who treat -trucks- like sportscars... most of the people out driving them, don't engage in activities where the haulage capabilities, four wheel drive capability, etc., get used or are relevant more than a few days a year, if then, they bought them because the ad campaigns pushing them as egomobile were highly effective, and perhaps secondarily the sightlines over non-SUVs and non-trucks are much better (but the rear view... there are a LOT of fatalities of small children run over by SUVs driven by a parent or grandparent or other adult relative, the driver couldn't see the child behind the SUV when backing up in the driveway...)

#331 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 02:26 PM:

I thought were and wif were the perpendicular thread strands in weaving...

Seriously, 'were' is the same 'were' as in 'werewolf' and 'weregild', so I'd pronounce it like that. As for 'wif' I think it's probably best said weef. It's the word that became 'wife' after the GVS.

Incidentally, the word 'hus' meant 'house', and the compound 'huswif' meant the woman who was in charge of the house. Guess what modern word is directly descended from it? No, 'housewife' is a modern re-formation. Regular sound change turned 'huswif' into 'hussy'. Obviously some shift in meaning occurred too! The moral is, etymology is for Trained Professionals™. Don't Try This At Home.

#332 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 02:29 PM:

A friend was in the USArmy when they made the transition to the Hummer from the Jeep, and can still bitch about the drawbacks of the Hummer for half an hour at a time. Highlights include "When you get stuck behind one, you can't see for sht, even if you're in one" "Rural Europe in a Hummer, or Sergeant Adams, we seem to be stuck between these two buildings; please explain to the locals how to file for damages" "We're stuck on something in the road, who wants to get out and look under the damn thing and see what it is?". There are others, but I think the drift is plain. The hummer has a lot of good points as a military vehicle, but it was not, and is not, an unalloyed joy.

I have relatives in Montana*, and acquaintances in rural Minnesota and Wisconsin; I can see how a large 4-wheel drive vehicle is advantageous to them, just as my cousins in Missouri, who breed cattle, find a ten-cylinder diesel truck helpful when it comes time to pull large pieces of equipment or trailers loaded with bovines around. However, these aren't people living in a tightly-packed urban environment--they aren't even people who live in the suburbs, in fairly mild climates, who might go camping a couple of times a year. Most SUVs aren't going to people whose lives actually require them; they're going to people who just want them and I feel free to mock them for this.
I suspect, from his description of uses he's found for a Big Truck, that Greg lives in an environment where a real need can be demonstrated.


*Havre, where the border crossing guards north of town checks for drugs, wepaons, and terrorists, but wave the weather by without even checking for a license plate.

#333 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 02:40 PM:

Egomobile! Thank you, Paula. I'm stealing it.

I hate SUVs; I don't like to encounter them, and I don't like to drive them; in fact, I have been known to wait several hours at the place I rent cars for a small car to be returned, rather than drive one of those big things which I don't need. The wastefulness and egocentricity of those big cars drive me crazy. I've driven big cars -- I spent some time driving a '59 Plymouth, no power steering -- and I way prefer my Toyota Corolla. If I could afford a new car, I'd get a Prius. If I ran the world, we'd all live within walking/biking/wheelchair/scooter access of everything we needed (not, however, everything we wanted.) There'd be trains and electric jitneys and the only things with combustion engines would be fire trucks and ambulances and stuff like that.

And you'd have to have a license for a cell phone. If I ran the world.

#334 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 02:46 PM:

I just do not want her tangling with a squirrel (they've got HUGE teeth and could probably shred a smallish cat so much that it'd have to be put to sleep.....)

Well, our Tinka is a smallish cat (5 lbs) and she's a complete terror with the local squirrels. Hal just had to toss out an old side table we'd had on the patio because she had stored away not one but two squirrel corpses in it some time ago. Not that I recommend other cats hunting squirrels, mind you. I'd rather break her of the habit, but I notice that it wasn't much more than a week before she managed to ditch her new belled collar.

#335 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 02:49 PM:

setting aside the rampant anthropomorphism being injected into inanimate vehicles, and ignoring the rampant projectioning as to my value as a human being as a function of what vehicle I drive, this conversation still has gotten silly.

In all the years I've driven vehicles, large and small, I have never backed up over an infant in the driveway. Nor do I ever intend to. sheesh.

Nor has my choice of vehicle ever been driven by an attempt to not "feel like a worm". I drove a 1972 volkswagon beetle for a good part of college for gawds sake. My reason for buying it was purely functional. It was available, it was cheap, there isn't much that can break on them, and it was easy for me to fix with a few tools. I also got stuck in the snow a lot, couldn't haul anything, and couldn't pull anyone out of a ditch.

What's interesting, now that I think about it, is all the projecting that people did when I drove a beetle, that I drove a wimpy car, a weak car, and the like, which I pretty much ignored because the car did what I wanted.

When I drove the full-sized bronco, I bought it because I was in blizzard country, and I was contracting around from job to job, so I couldn't buy a house, but I needed a vehicle I could drive to a new city and sleep in for a while until I found a place to rent, then commute to work reliably. But now that I think about it, I do recall some folks seeing my Bronco and making value judgements about who I was as a person. No, I am not a moron. No this isn't my egomobile, thankyouverymuch.

Whatever. You guys can think whatever you want. I've been the same person I am, whether I drove a 72 VW bug, a 69 chevy nova, a ford f150 flatbed, a bronco, or a corolla (a list of the cars I can remeber owning). And I'll continue to be the same person regardless of what I drive in the future.

And if it happens to be a Hummer, and I see you stuck in a ditch, I'll still stop and offer to tow you out. If it ends up being a wind-up hybrid, I'll stop and offer some muscles.

#336 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 02:59 PM:

does anyone else get 'strident' when young women refer to themselves or their friends as 'birds'?

Um, no. Mere good manners suggests it's not my business to tell other people what they may call themselves. And observation of the younger, ironic, postmodern, and sly "Pussy Power"-with-a-cat-logo style of feminism suggests to me that there is a species of feminist action that is perfectly legitimate feminism, but doesn't take the whole language policing thing very seriously. Instead, it embraces silliness and subverting the dominant paradigm by reclaiming supposedly-patronizing usage and tweaking until it's new again. And, on the whole, I tend to think the more levity and playfulness feminism exhibits when it can, the better, force-for-good-wise. It's a honey-vs-vinegar thing.

#337 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 03:00 PM:

Greg! We're not saying that! Sheesh yourself.

You're not the sort of person we expect to want a Hummer for the dumb reasons. We're trying to find out what the smart reasons are. For example, I asked what the practical difference is between a Hummer and a Bronco. You obviously need some car power, and you said why. Is a Hummer that much stronger than a Bronco?

If I owned a Bronco, or perhaps even a Mini Cooper, it would be for dumb reasons. I just don't have that much practical need for a car. (I sponge off friends for the rare exceptions.)

Some people really need to own trucks. Others really need SUVs (though in that case I'm more dubious). Tell me why you need a Hummer! What can you do with a Hummer that you can't do with a Bronco? I'm assuming you DO have such a reason, but so far you haven't said anything about that.

#338 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 03:10 PM:

It's a gas guzzler:
H1 diesel is listed at 16 mpg
Toyota Tundra gas is listed at 18 mpg

On what planet is that not a gas guzzler? My main point of unhappiness with our new-to-us Volvo is that it only gets about 25 mpg. Both Saturns have reliably gotten 30 mpg or better.

I don't think it blocks the view of the road for other drivers any more than an SUV or one of the larger minivan's do.

You'd be wrong, but it's damning with faint praise even if you were right.

Like I said, I used to own a full sized Ford Bronco.

The thing that amazed me about the Bronco when I rode in one is what a *tiny* amount of interior cabin space you get for all that external road-hogginess. And badly laid out. As for the necessity of either 4WD or an SUV to get around in the snow, yeah, it was really sad the way all life used to stop in Sweden and Norway and Finland during the winter months, back before everyone started driving 4WD SUVS. oh. wait...

#339 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 03:10 PM:

Again, originally "man" was neutral gender--it still is in German I think--but the psychological landscape changed with what evolved into English and again, ditched the meme that the generic adult emancipated human could be either male or female, replacing it with a privileged position in society and thought that the default was male, and female was socially and psychologically an afterthought and inferior(...)

Paula, thank you for the etymology post. Yes, I've seen that information before, and that was what gave me the impetus to start playing around with phrases containing the M-word, using them neutrally. Hey, it's one syllable shorter than person!

Humanity (humanity?) is gradually re-assimilating the parts of "man" that mean "person" but got stuck in "male".

On the vehicular note, I've never been comfortable driving anything that didn't hug the ground, simply because when I'm driving, my tactile sense keeps me aware of my relative position. I learned to navigate traffic on a bicycle. I need to feel the ground and hear the traffic. I'd say that's nearly as important to me as seeing -- at least, I've always been lousy at racecar arcade games. Haven't tried the more recent VR-style ones, but I suspect that if the seat told me where the ground was, I'd do better. I also have a sense of self, and of car-self, that is maneuverable and gymnastic. Driving a station wagon, while not out of my range, makes me feel rather like I'm wearing a spacesuit.

#340 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 03:35 PM:

xopher, the reason the idea of a truck showed up on my radar is because I've been thinking about getting a boat and trailer. I can't afford it right now, but I was thinking maybe by the time my corrolla dies, I could buy a truck/tundra/bronco/suburban, and get a boat/trailer some time after that. Then I recall how much I liked the enclosed space in my Bronco, I could sleep in it, I could store all sorts fo tools and stuff for roadside emergencies, and then I free associated to Hummer.

I'm still in blizzard country, and I get stuck in my corolla once in a while in snow. I generally think being in a populated area means help is close, but I got run off the freeway by a semi last winter, ended up on top of a snowbank. And I'm standing there, on the side of the road, with the wheels of my car a foot in the air, and car after car is driving by without stopping. I might as well be back in farm country, where I'm on my own and the nearest person is miles away. At least back in farm country where I grew up, the first car that drove by would stop to help. So, I'm thinking for my next vehicle, I want four wheel drive again, and I want some ground clearance again, and I want room to store a towchain, a comealong, and other supplies in back.

Whatever behicle I buy will be for the functionality it provides, maybe to tow a trailer if I decide to get a boat, and to be able to get around in blizzard country. The choice will not be based on an attempt to convince the world what a large penis I have.

#341 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 03:48 PM:

It's a gas guzzler:
H1 diesel is listed at 16 mpg
Toyota Tundra gas is listed at 18 mpg

On what planet is that not a gas guzzler? My main point of unhappiness with our new-to-us Volvo is that it only gets about 25 mpg. Both Saturns have reliably gotten 30 mpg or better.

My main point was that no one eggs a toyota tundra for getting 18 mpg, but folks will egg a Hummer. It is a reaction based on subjective perceptions rather than objective facts. Five seconds of google and this link says folks are getting 12 to 18 mpg on their hummers. The thing is I probably wouldn't get a hummer just because I don't want to deal with folks telling me what an asshole I am and egging my car in the night.

it was really sad the way all life used to stop in Sweden and Norway and Finland during the winter months, back before everyone started driving 4WD SUVS. oh. wait...

Well, why didn't you say you knew what's better for me than I do in the first place? We could have avoided this whole confusion. When it comes time to trade in my corolla, I'll shoot you an email and you can tell me what to buy. Or maybe you can tell me right now what sort of vehicle will best suit my needs two years from now. I'm not sure how this works.

#342 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 03:50 PM:

Whatever behicle I buy will be for the functionality it provides, maybe to tow a trailer if I decide to get a boat, and to be able to get around in blizzard country. The choice will not be based on an attempt to convince the world what a large penis I have.

Yeah, pure pragmatics, which is why the Volvo V70 XC has never entered the conversation, but the Hummer has, I'm sure. This seems a lot like the folks who buy SUVs with tinted windows because the tinting makes them *feel* safer.

#343 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 03:54 PM:

Well, why didn't you say you knew what's better for me than I do in the first place? We could have avoided this whole confusion. When it comes time to trade in my corolla, I'll shoot you an email and you can tell me what to buy. Or maybe you can tell me right now what sort of vehicle will best suit my needs two years from now. I'm not sure how this works.

Ah, so you've conceded that your argument was bullshit, and now you're trying to distract us from the fact by pounding on the table. Ok. I'll accept that concession.

#344 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 03:56 PM:

it was really sad the way all life used to stop in Sweden and Norway and Finland during the winter months, back before everyone started driving 4WD SUVS. oh. wait...

Yeah, snarkiness meets snarkiness, but I'm the one pounding the table.

#345 ::: Dan Layman-Kennedy ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 04:04 PM:

As a minor counterpoint: I'm in a band, and we most definitely couldn't haul around the large pile of instruments and gear (as well as three musicians) in my station wagon that we can in the bass player's SUV.

A minivan would probably work just as well or better, but we don't have one. And he lives in semi-rural WV, where there are other good reasons for having a vehicle of that sort.

So while I have some sympathy for the anti-SUV perspective, I'm glad all the same that we have the Command Carrier to get us to gigs.

#346 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 04:07 PM:

I could do without the Hummers in the city - all they do is take up a heckuva lot of space, block the view of anyone trying to see past them (can't see over, under, around, or through a Hummer), and generally be an egomobile (wonderful word!) for the driver/owner. Other large SUVs and pickups are only slightly better (ever try getting out of a parking space when there's a large vehicle on each side, and a crew-cab longbed pickup, with a foot of trailer hitch sticking out, parked behind you?)

My vehicle progression: Corona, Corolla, Prius. And the Prius has the best mileage and the worst corner visibility of the three.

#347 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 04:34 PM:

Yeah, snarkiness meets snarkiness, but I'm the one pounding the table.

Okay, let's review, shall we?

Your claim: you need an SUV to cope with snow/blizzard driving.

My response, without the sarcasm since that seems to have distracted you: millions of people have managed for many decades to cope with snow and blizzard driving without SUVs or 4WD, and indeed still do.

Your response: oh, so you know my needs better than I do?

Your response, Greg, is a non-sequitur. It doesn't address my point about snow driving at all. You got yourself all excited about the snarkiness and totally lost track of the argument. What I meant in using the phrase "pounding on the table" is shorthand for the following aphorism for lawyers:

If the facts are on your side, pound on the facts,
If the law is on your side, pound on the law,
If neither the law nor the facts are on your side, pound on the table

In taking a sharp left from the discourse and making random claims about what I do or don't know about your needs, you were pounding on the table. You were being non-responsive in a hystrionic way. The snark is irrelevant to whether one is pounding on the table, or not, -- pounding on the table is all about trying not to admit that one has run out of pertinent things to say.

#348 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 04:39 PM:

I still say Hummers and SUVs are different animals, at least in terms of their practical annoyance of others.

#349 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 04:48 PM:

Someone in the Heidelberg military community owns a bright yellow Hummer. Whatever advantages they may or may not have in other civilian settings, I do not understand why you would want one here, where most parking spaces are too tight for my Ford Focus hatchback.

And then there's the ongoing discussion in the Stars and Stripes about not standing out in Germany. There's a schedule to change us all to authentic German license plates so our license plates won't mark us as Americans. My Focus blends in, but there's a lot of cars that shout American even if they've got a German plate. I don't think a German plate would help the Hummer at all.

#350 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 05:12 PM:

Someone in the Heidelberg military community owns a bright yellow Hummer. Whatever advantages they may or may not have in other civilian settings, I do not understand why you would want one here, where most parking spaces are too tight for my Ford Focus hatchback.

Yeah. In spades. I mean, my experience in Germany is limited, but in smaller, older towns especially, lots of streets are too narrow for two cars to pass. People handle street parking by parking with two wheels on the (very low) sidewalks, and at least some cars are made with parking lights that toggle between all four on, or only the left ones, or only the right ones, precisely for the park-on-the-sidewalk situation, to mark the outer corners. My ex- used to tell stories about his godlike uncle who could back a (freight) truck straight down an alley so narrow he had to fold in both the side mirrors for clearance. In that context, I can't see why anywone would drive a Hummer unless they *wanted* to proclaim to everyone around them: "Arrogant, Self-Absorbed American Asshole Driver, Please Bomb Me First."

#351 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 05:20 PM:

Your response, Greg, is a non-sequitur. It doesn't address my point about snow driving at all. You got yourself all excited about the snarkiness and totally lost track of the argument. ... In taking a sharp left from the discourse and making random claims about what I do or don't know about your needs, you were pounding on the table. You were being non-responsive in a hystrionic way. The snark is irrelevant to whether one is pounding on the table, or not, -- pounding on the table is all about trying not to admit that one has run out of pertinent things to say.

I posted here that this conversation has taken on rampant anthropomorphism and that folks asserting as irrefutable fact that that hummer-owner->must->be->asshole.

I also pointed out the red herring about "backing over babies in driveways", which I'll note your sudden stickler for pointing out logical fallacies wasn't quite so stickler then. In that same post, I also said that my purchase desision was not driven by an attempt to not "feel like a worm". I'll note that given your sudden stickler for pointing out logical fallacies now, you made no attempt to point out this "ad hominem" attack then.

I ended that post saying that you guys can think whatever you want and that I'm done with this conversation. Xopher asked why I needed a truck. So I answered his specific question. I was thinking about buying a boat and I've gotten stuck a lot in snow with my corrolla. If it'll help you understand my point of view, the semi-drove-me-into-the-snowbank episode, in trying to unstuck my car, I gouged a small chunk of meat out of the tip of my finger, and 9 months later that finger has a small lump of scar tissue and it still hurts like a bastard when I play guitar. So, I don't want to get stuck again. It pisses me off. and every time I play guitar, it reminds me of it and it pisses me off again. thankyouverymuchforunderstanding.

So, I list xopher some of the reasons I was thinking about a truck, and I point out that hummer was little more than free association, and you jump down my throat with righteous indignation about people in norway not needing trucks and SUV's in the snow. And at this point I had already responded that I'm sick of the character attacks against me for even mentioning the word Hummer, that you guys can think whatever you want about me, that i withdraw, and you go and jump down my throat with some snarky response about norway?

So, yeah, I'm a little ticked off and respond to your snarkiness with more snarkiness. But you don't like it when I respond in kind. Apparently, your snarkiness is OK, but my snarkiness is admitting everything I said was bullshit and simply pounding the table. And now you're pulling all this "logical fallacy" crap on me.

Your "Okay, let's review, shall we?" only works because you only back up just enough to make it work for you. You ignore all the logical fallacies thrown my way since this started, babies getten backed over in driveways for gawdssake, egomobile, "I am not a worm", and all the other must-be-an-asshole-to-drive-one crap. Now you want to get all legaleze on me?

I said this conversation was getting silly with all the logical fallacies, to the point that I was withdrawing from it. You then jump down my throat after I answer xopher's specific question, and get snarky about norway, and when I get snarky back, you say that proves my whole argument is bullshit and start getting technical about what is and is not a logical fallacy.

Well, try backing this history all the way back, and you're recent penchant for pointing out logical fallacies brings the word "hypocrite" to mind. But hey, it's me pounding the table.

#352 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 06:02 PM:

Greg, you don't seem to have realized that if you backed this discussion farther, it would make you look even more foolish. You're complaining that you're getting called a worm (which conclusion takes quite a leap of trouble-borrowing) when you started this whole thread by suggesting you were going to add yourself to the class of snivelling, nasty little pieces of work, and mentioning that you didn't understand what the problem with that was.

Don't ask questions you don't want the answer to. Don't pretend that the rules you started with are mean and illogical now that you're losing.

#353 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 06:08 PM:

I still say Hummers and SUVs are different animals, at least in terms of their practical annoyance of others.

Yeah, could be. Clearly, buying a humvee is putting a big "call me an asshole" sign on your back. Even if from a functional point of view it were the right vehicle for me, it woudln't be worth it pragmatically. I might as well go to a national PETA meeting, while wearing a chinchilla fur coat, eating veal, and drinking milk while slowly circling the parking lot in my steam powered car that burns live hamsters for fuel. I'd only be asking for trouble...

that's half supposed to be funny.

#354 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 06:13 PM:

Eh, my last post was a bit harsh. I think you've demonstrated in this thread that you're a good guy. I don't think anyone thinks you're an ass for considering buying an SUV. The argument over whether SUV/Hummer drivers are necessarily asses isn't personal.

#355 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 06:40 PM:

Again, originally "man" was neutral gender--it still is in German I think--

You may be thinking of the German word "man" which translates to "one" (as in "one can eat dinner anytime"), though the sense is less formal and stilted than in English. The German word "Mann" (different spelling, capitalized 'cause it's a noun) means male human being, and is in fact grammatically masculine. Not that the latter fact is terribly meaningful, since Fraulein (young woman) is grammatically neutral.

Humanity (humanity?) is gradually re-assimilating the parts of "man" that mean "person" but got stuck in "male".

Alas, "humanity" is derived from Latin, and thus not directly related to Old English "man".

#356 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 06:45 PM:

Alas, "humanity" is derived from Latin, and thus not directly related to Old English "man".

And 'history' is not related to 'his' in 'his story', no matter how much some people want it to be (for their own reasons).

#357 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 06:52 PM:

But, for purposes of mutual understanding, I'd just like to say that if I came upon an online discussion thread in a forum I cared about wherein someone said "Anyone who doesn't want to have kids [or does want to, for that matter!] is a decadent, sniveling, nasty little piece of work," I'd damn well put in my side -- and probably a lot less politely than Greg London's put in his.

Search and replace in the phrase for anything, really, that's of some value but not broadly, and is annoying to people to whom it is not of value. It's really a very colorful, charged and personalizing phrase. It regards the individual and not the Hummer.

On the primary argument, I have only this to say: There are definitely places where any giant monster of a vehicle is useful. There are also places where it is useless-to-dangerous. If I were to own such a vehicle, I would plan ahead and make certain that I had another way (other car, bicycle, bus, etc) to accomplish tasks for which the vehicle was not suited -- such as getting around in a major city, should I choose to enter one.

#358 ::: A. J. Luxton ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 06:53 PM:

I'm sorry to have mooned you all with that dangling "But". I moved some thoughts around, and somehow didn't catch the loose end in the preview.

#359 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 06:56 PM:

you started this whole thread by suggesting you were going to add yourself to the class of snivelling, nasty little pieces of work

I didn't say I was adding myself to the list of nasty little pieces of work, I said my wishlist had a truck on it, maybe an H1 or a Toyota Tundra or something.

mentioning that you didn't understand what the problem with that was. Don't ask questions you don't want the answer to.

First of all,I didn't ask a question. I quoted the "sniveling, nasty little piece of work" ad hominem attack being directed at Hummer owners, and said I don't understand why people hate the Hummer so much. But by bringing that up, you're saying I open myself to ad hominem attacks? Should I not ask for more objective reasons than "egomobile"?

Don't pretend that the rules you started with are mean and illogical now that you're losing.

what rules did we start with?
"no logical fallacies"? "no ad hominems"? "no red herrings"?
because that rule was broke from the beginning.

I point out here that a Tundra gets 18 mpg. Hummer gets 16 mpg.
But people hate hummers way more than Tundras. It's a rather long post answering several points and mentioning that I used to own a Bronco.


Ulrika O'Brien replies here to that post. She is non-responsive as to why Hummers are bad but Tundras are OK with the same mpg, and instead changes teh topics to Volvos. She responds to the idea of Hummers and SUV's having the same blockage as "damning faint praise", which is a nonanswer. Then finishes by getting sarcastic about "life used to stop in Sweden and Norway and Finland during the winter months, back before everyone started driving 4WD SUVS. oh. wait..." which is a red herring.

I respond to Ulrika here pointing out that 16 mpg versus 18 mpg may both be gas guzzlers but she never answered the question as to why people hate Hummers but don't hate Tundras. Then I responded to her sarcasm with sarcasm.

Ulrika posts further sarcasm here saying "Yeah, pure pragmatics, which is why the Volvo V70 XC has never entered the conversation, but the Hummer has, I'm sure. This seems a lot like the folks who buy SUVs with tinted windows because the tinting makes them *feel* safer." The logical fallacy is that the lack of a volvo in my list must prove some ulterior motive on my part.

Then she responds to my sarcasm here by saying I admit my whole argument is bullshit and now I'm just trying to distract everyone.

I give a short reply pointing out that I was simply replying to her snarkiness in kind.

Ulrika suddenly engages the logical fallacy razor and the "you haven't responded to my question" razor. Meanwhile, this whole time, with all the logical fallacies bouncing around such as your red herring about backing up over babies in the driveway, or the "nasty piece of work" ad hominem that started my entry into this thread, and Ulrika said nothing to them.

So, did we start with logical fallacies as being off limits or no? Because Ulrika seems to have let a whole bunch slide until I was snarky to her snarky comment, and now she seems to have taken the logical fallacy high ground. So, did we start with those rules? Or did the rules suddenly change, where logical fallacies were allowed, but now that I got snarky to her snarky, suddenly they're not allowed, and that means I'm "losing"?

As for her "you haven't responded to my point" thing, her point was that Norwegians don't need SUV's to get around in snow, but I already said I was thinking about towing a trailer, which need more ooomph than a station wagon, so she already has a response. And if "not responding" is a rule we started with, then we need to go back to her non response to my Hummer=16mpg, Tundra=18mpg, why hate hummers? question, rather than having her switch the topic to "get a Volvo instead".

#360 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 06:56 PM:

I thought were and wif were the perpendicular thread strands in weaving...

I think there is a theory that wif (female human being, later) is cognate with "web" and "weave", suggesting an old stereotyping of women as weavers... but I gather that's a very speculative link, and not to be taken too seriously.

Seriously, 'were' is the same 'were' as in 'werewolf' and 'weregild', so I'd pronounce it like that. As for 'wif' I think it's probably best said weef. It's the word that became 'wife' after the GVS.

"were" is also cognate with Latin vir (meaning "male human being"), from which we get virile/virility/etc.

Other traces of the old meaning of "wif" are in "midwife", "fishwife" (woman who sells fish, not... oh, you get it), and "old wives' tale".

And the archaic poetic word "leman" was originally "leof" + "man" = "person you love" -- another trace of the Old English meaning of "man".

#361 ::: Tom Scudder ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 06:57 PM:

Re: "You the man!" - I have been told, "you go girl!" on a few occasions, and taken it as a compliment.

#362 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 07:54 PM:


http://www.cnn.com/2005/AUTOS/tipsandadvice/11/03/backover/index.html

SUV backover deaths: What can be done?
Drivers unaware of rear blindspots accidentally backing over more small children, experts say.
November 7, 2005; Posted: 1:10 p.m. EST (1810 GMT)

What SUV drivers can't see is what's close behind them and, when backing out of a driveway or parking spot, that could be a person. In many cases, it's a small child.

More than 2,400 children are backed-up over every year in the United States. Of those, about 100 are killed. In most cases, those children are run over by a parent or other relative.

And what I wrote was,

there are a LOT of fatalities of small children run over by SUVs driven by a parent or grandparent or other adult relative, the driver couldn't see the child behind the SUV when backing up in the driveway...)

I did NOT write "babies" and resent Mr London playing the screed game by replacing "small children" with the emotion-yank of In all the years I've driven vehicles, large and small, I have never backed up over an infant in the driveway. Nor do I ever intend to. sheesh. and then I also pointed out the red herring about "backing over babies in driveways"

I was NOT accusing him of backing up over children, or anyone else. Responsible truck-type vehicle drivers tend to be a lot more careful that the "urban cowboy" and suburban cowboy types who the bulk of the ire here is against... it's the irresponsible sorts who are out there driving SUVs and trucks as if they were low center of gravity passenger vehicles, for example, and who evince no consideration for anyone else on the raod, who are the bulk of the reason why SUV drivers are held in such contempt by so many people... they're driving -trucks- with poor rear sightlines, lousy stopping distances, and high centers of gravity--and driving as if they were in much lower to the ground, smaller, passenger vehicles, in places where there's a lot of heavy traffic and often narrow streets, and limited parking spaces. Then there are the SUV drivers who park their monstermobiles where it says "compact cars only".... "inconsiderate" is a mild term for way too many SUV and light truck owner/drivers.

Again, that is NOT all, but the bad ones, like Gresham's Law, give bad reputations to ALL SUV and light truck owners/drives.


#363 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 07:58 PM:

And if it happens to be a Hummer, and I see you stuck in a ditch, I'll still stop and offer to tow you out.

I live in the snowbelt. About four miles up in the hills from my house, there's a Army NG training base. A couple of winters ago, the local paper ran a photo of a guy with a winch on his SUV pulling a real-live, milspec NG Hummer out of the snow. (weekend warriors, sheesh....) The rule of thumb is: the better your 4WD, the further from the road you are when you get stuck.

I live where the NE megolopois falls off the northern edge and hits the northern edge of Appalachia. I've never seen yet the Hummer that was bought as anything BUT an egomobile. I suppose the possibility exists that somebody, somewhere, has bought one for its alleged "practicality", but I've never seen it.

They are purchased because they are THE most ostentatious vehicle for sale today. Some people dig that. Some people really get off on annoying the damn treehuggers. The general term for these people is "assholes."

GM just announced that they're dropping the civilian version of the Real Hummer; they'll still sell the pretend models, the H2 and H3. I dunno which model people have been discussing on this thread, but Greg is right: the "smaller" Hummers are within sight of the more ordinary SUVs. They merely pretend to be the
Most Ostentatious Vehicle Sold, for POSER assholes who can't actually afford the price tag of the Real Thing.

And the anti-Hummer pile-on is also correct: right now, today, people are dying to bring us oil, and there are people STILL running out to buy larger vehicles than they need, simply as a fashion statement.

Greg, whether or not you need the capabilities -or whether or not anyone buys any vehicle as a fashion statement - as you see here in this thread, the Hummer presents an image to the world, and it's an image that an awful lot of people deeply despise:
F U H2

#364 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 08:28 PM:

There's a limo company that has bright yellow stretch Hummers it uses as limos, I've seen them on 128...

#365 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 08:50 PM:

My minivan has the trailer package. I didn't expect to tow anything, it just makes the van stronger.

I used to see a bright yellow Hummer around town once a week or so, but the last month, I've seen it every time I go by a used-car dealer.

#366 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 08:54 PM:

Greg:

Your "Okay, let's review, shall we?" only works because you only back up just enough to make it work for you.

By which you mean that I only refer to the part of the conversation you quoted and supposedly were replying to. If I was just standing proxy for anyone who has said something that frustrated you in this thread, then it would have been ducky if you had said so in replying to me, rather than implying that you were responding to what I actually said. My review works because it reviews the exchanges between you and me. If you're holding me responsible for everything that pisses you off about others' attitudes of dislike about SUVs in general, and Humvees in particular (which views, I note, you *actively* solicited), you've got a bigger problem with making or following a coherent argument than I realized.

Meanwhile, based on the rest of your response, I am somewhat forced to conclude that a)you aren't really clear on what a non-sequitur is, b)you didn't follow my previous point at all, and c)you think logic and argumentative sense are some sort of trivial parlor trick whose primary purpose is to count coup. Those three factors (or indeed any two of them) will make it tricky to establish any sort of rapport here.

#367 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 09:02 PM:

Iím following this thread in fits and starts and Iím way behind. I was really interested in some of the comments re gender issues and wanted to respond, but now itís all about hummers and itís gotten angry. (I saw a stretch hummer pulled up outside a posh restaurant a while ago. rofl.)

I have my own gender issues, although theyíre not sexual in nature (uh, if that makes sense *scratches head*). Iím comfortable being female, I love being a mother, Iím heterosexual, and Iím feminine in appearance. I never wear skirts or dresses, but that has more to do with hiding my fat knees than with style.

What makes me sometimes question my ďgender identityĒ is that I have more in common with men than with other women. Iím a mathematician and I work in an outrageously male-dominated field. Itís common for me to be the only woman at meetings I attend. Iíve been one of two women in a meeting of more than 200 men. (Thereís a nice side to this: no waiting lines at the ladiesí room; waiting lines at the gentsí instead.)

Also, Iím handy. Like Lizzy, I love the hardware store, and I do know how to use quite a few of the gadgets there. I have good mechanical intuition when it comes to putting things together and getting things to work. Iím no more fearful of bugs than the guys I know. I understand the workings of a combustion engine and Iíve tinkered with every computer Iíve owned.

In appearance and personality I feel, look, and act, completely feminine, but Iím a grown-up tom-boy, I guess. It makes me feel insecure sometimes. Iíve wondered if itís a brain thing related to my gift for mathematics. Iíve wondered if Iím a latent lesbian, even though Iíve never been sexually attracted to another woman.

I did feel a strong (non-sexual) attraction to a woman I saw working in my gynís office one day. She wore menís clothing and had a manís haircut, and yet she was feminine enough that you would never have mistaken her for a man.

#368 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 10:05 PM:

mary wrote,
I have my own gender issues, although theyíre not sexual in nature (uh, if that makes sense *scratches head*). Iím comfortable being female, I love being a mother, Iím heterosexual, and Iím feminine in appearance. I never wear skirts or dresses, but that has more to do with hiding my fat knees than with style.

What makes me sometimes question my ďgender identityĒ is that I have more in common with men than with other women. Iím a mathematician and I work in an outrageously male-dominated field. Itís common for me to be the only woman at meetings I attend. Iíve been one of two women in a meeting of more than 200 men. (Thereís a nice side to this: no waiting lines at the ladiesí room; waiting lines at the gentsí instead.)

"Good morning ladies and gentlemen, I assume there are some ladies in the audience?" -- speaker at morning session of MILCOM 1 in Bedford, Massaschusetts, more than 20 years ago.

"Hello," I said, sticking my hand up at the back of the room, because of the 140 people in the room, I was the only one who was female...

Also, Iím handy. Like Lizzy, I love the hardware store, and I do know how to use quite a few of the gadgets there. I have good mechanical intuition when it comes to putting things together and getting things to work. Iím no more fearful of bugs than the guys I know. I understand the workings of a combustion engine and Iíve tinkered with every computer Iíve owned.

Mechanical aptitude, or inaptitude, is not gender dependent, look at all the woman who do quilting--for that matter, quilting that involves strong spatial-geometric kinaesthetics. A lot of "female crafts" require a high degree of mechanical ability... but Society generally refuses to accede to acknowledging any such thing.

In appearance and personality I feel, look, and act, completely feminine, but Iím a grown-up tom-boy, I guess. It makes me feel insecure sometimes. Iíve wondered if itís a brain thing related to my gift for mathematics. Iíve wondered if Iím a latent lesbian, even though Iíve never been sexually attracted to another woman.

I would say that is it more in the nature of cultural deprecation of women--there were women among the Pythagorean mathematicians all those many hundreds of years ago in Asia Minor, a society a LOT saner that the social pederast misogynist slave-economy-based Athenians. There was Hypatia. There was Maria Hebraica. There undoubtedly were many other women with mathematical/science talents thoughout the ages, whose names got got blotted out by those who redacted records and didn't approve of women as other than the role the Southern Baptist Convention prescribes for women...

I will never forgive the culture for the internal conflicts that it inculcated in me about "girls aren't/don't..." of what I wanted, versus what Society deemed appropriate... those who cage people and clip their metaphoric wings with gender stereotype cages, ethnic stereotype cages, skin color bigotry, etc., make the world a much more miserable place, make the people caged miserable, and deny everyone what the people caged could have achieved, had then not been caged and conditioned and warped.

#369 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 10:15 PM:

I've been avoiding popping into the Hummer/SUV thread because I have very strong views about the vehicles, but Paula Leiberman posted about the backing hazard they cause...

I had a child who was struck and nearly killed by an SUV several years ago. An important factor in the severity of his injuries was the high front profile of the vehicle. Something about having a doctor say "if the SUV had been an inch or two taller your son would be dead" tends to prejudice a person.

#370 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 10:19 PM:

A. J. Luxton: But, for purposes of mutual understanding, I'd just like to say that if I came upon an online discussion thread in a forum I cared about wherein someone said "Anyone who doesn't want to have kids [or does want to, for that matter!] is a decadent, sniveling, nasty little piece of work," I'd damn well put in my side -- and probably a lot less politely than Greg London's put in his.

Well and so, but that's a sight different from placing yourself in the middle of a discretionary fight (child/no child is more of a toggle, where you can't help but be in one group or the other... How about Budweiser/no Budweiser?) and then after posting more than a dozen times complaining that there are ad hominem attacks. If the ad hominems were the issue you had with the statement, better to address them right off, as you say.

mary: Yeah, gender and sex are different. I deal with the kinds of things that trouble you by laying out in my mind: There is no male spot on the spectrum of humanity that is not occupied by at least one female, and there is no female spot on the spectrum of humanity that is not occupied by at least one male. If men were yellow and women were blue, a picture of the mindspace of humanity would be nothing but different shades of green. Some parts of the scale would be more chartreuse, and some would be more slate, but that's no reason to tell the slate women they should be chartreuse.

Thus, anything a man might want to do should also be open to a woman; and anything a woman might want to do should also be open to a man.

Feminism is about being part of humanity instead of one gender, for me. Dunno if it helps you to think of yourself as a human who gets jammed into annoying boxes for the sake of surface similarities to humans who tend differently, but it helps me.

The sliding scale image also helps me to think of sexuality/attraction. Leaves people more space to say, "Oh, yeah, sure, person-of-my-gender is hot, but I'm heterosexual." Or the reverse. Everyone gets more options when people believe it's not binary.

#371 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: July 14, 2006, 11:39 PM:

I will never forgive the culture for the internal conflicts that it inculcated in me about "girls aren't/don't..." of what I wanted, versus what Society deemed appropriate... those who cage people and clip their metaphoric wings with gender stereotype cages, ethnic stereotype cages, skin color bigotry, etc., make the world a much more miserable place, make the people caged miserable, and deny everyone what the people caged could have achieved, had then not been caged and conditioned and warped.

Well said!

I accept that there's a sliding scale of gender. The problem I have is that certain characteristics are associated with one end of the scale or the other. I don't feel as though I fit comfortably anywhere on the scale. Parts of me are scattered all along it.

#372 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 12:55 AM:

My main point was that no one eggs a toyota tundra for getting 18 mpg, but folks will egg a Hummer.

I still say Hummers and SUVs are different animals, at least in terms of their practical annoyance of others.

If I egged cars, I'd egg an SUV as much as a Hummer.

Apparently the guy who made the stickers for SUVs that read "I'm changing the climate! Ask me how!" has removed his website, so I can't direct you to him, sadly.

There are people who have good reason to have an oversized vehicle. The band director at the high school often has to transport immense instruments, sound equipment, and miscellaneous adolescents. So she gets to have an SUV. You can come up for good reasons for quite a few people. Okay.

But remember how this branch of the conversation started? It started with aggressive marketing for the Hummer -- which can only be appropriate for like fifteen people in North America -- which played on gender identity fears and which also connected overconsumption in general with manliness. Way too many people find it way too easy to convince themselves they need overconsumption. And the reason they do, I think, is because of fear-mongering in advertisements, along with other nasty things.


Greg, you went to some lengths to establish that you wanted these ridiculous vehicles for their coolness factor, before you claimed that whatever vehicle you get will be for practical reasons. If you were living in a comic book, I agree, they would be cool. But you can't convince me -- especially after referencing the coolness factor first -- that they are in fact and on balance actually practical.

I need to haul things sometimes too. I rent a truck for a day, and I try to stack several tasks into that day, and to plan the tasks to be efficient in terms of mileage as well as time and money. Because every gallon of gas I don't use is several gallons of crude oil nobody got killed for: is some amount of air that isn't polluted in the neighborhood of a refinery: is some amount of a plume that doesn't kill the water downstream: is -- well, you get the idea. (one of the Wrongest Decisions of the 20th Century, in my opinion, was the US placing all its faith in private transportation. Another was the Soviets closing the tractor stations and making ever collective have their own)

#373 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 01:56 AM:

Oy! I go to Boston for a trade show (neatly missing a possible Readercon drive-by because of a friend's birthday party in SEA last Saturday) and ML devolves into an SUV flame-fest?

So, how shall I join this, er, discussion? By jumping right in, of course!

I own a frightfully fuel-inefficient Nissan Xterra. (Yes, I see the irony in the name.) I like to vacation in places where I drive on forest roads or dirt trails rated 4x4 only. I schlep stuff around, up to and including sofas on a regular basis. The thing handles like a truck - and I think it has made me a calmer (read safer) driver. And I've put 120k miles on it in 6 years.

Would I buy a Hummer? Probably not, because it's too garish for my tastes. The same applies to the Escalade.

Would I like the thing to get 45 MPG. Hell yes! Does it? Hell no! Would I buy a Prius? Hell no! I don't want to drive around trying to maximize my mileage in the left lane (doing 40 in a 65) slowing everyone else down. Maybe when gas hits $6/gal, I'll think about it.

Y'know what I want? A fuel efficient car that can either drag stuff around, or move like a scalded cat when you stomp on the accelerator. That, and a reasonable mass transit system so I don't have to drive to work every day. Cars should be fun, getting to work should be easy and not involve cars.

This is one place where I almost side with the libertarians - let the market fix this one. But I also think we should have higher gas taxes (so I don't side with the Libertarians after all!), maybe adding $1 or $2/gal to current prices, with the proceeds going into re-building the transit infrastructure we tore out in the 50's and 60's.

#374 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 08:44 AM:

Non-sequitur altert! Another use for a Hummer: it will fit six women in hoop skirts.

#375 ::: Nikki Jewell ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 09:04 AM:

Ulrika:

I'm included in the 'bird' category by implication, and I don't like it. And I especially don't like that it allows some men to feel that they can refer to me as a 'bird' - without any attempt at playfulness - and expect me to like it and be flattered by it. That's what makes me 'strident', and why I do take the language issue seriously.

Sorry; I should have been clearer in my original comment.

#376 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 09:30 AM:

Larry --

The market can't fix that one, because markets do a terrible job of pricing in anything that's going to happen years in the future.

Look at how many insurance companies manage to do themselves dire harm, badly pricing either things that aren't insurable risks in the first place or which are insurable risks but which are badly mis-priced. Pricing risk correctly is the sole business of insurance, the problem is at least decently understood, there's a lot of history of practice to fall back on, and the results are still frequently wrong.

Oh, and the first firm to start building in the replacement infrastructure cost will see its business vanish to its lower priced competitors.

"Driving should be fun", like "if you don't own a car you are poor and contemptible", are deeply culturally embedded. They're not something that the market wants to fix.

My take on it is that the best way to fix the car problem is ban the production and sale of internal combustion engines on a five year phase-in. There's been way too much flailing around trying to pick an ideal solution, rather than trying to make things progressively less bad.

Agreed about the transit, and what gas taxes are good for, but there still needs to be something done about the 'poor and contemptible' idea. (Also the attached "and we don't want your business" on the part of many firms.)

#377 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 09:46 AM:

Xopher: I understand that there was never a land bridge all the way across the Bering Strait, but different bits of land that appeared at various times, so that random migration left people who had been in northeastern Asia in northwestern America.

Any cites for this? Recent archeology suggests that there were waves of immigration, specifically that the Folsom points are from a later wave; do the proponents of the above argue that it provides enough access to account for the rate of spread? (Genuine question; the numbers don't \feel/ right but I have no expertise in the area. Possible counter: some evidence that people spread down the coast even when there was substantial glaciation, then moved inland during the retreat(s).)

Paula: you conflate "mechanical aptitude" (IME a weakly-understood phenomenon) with grasp of spatial relationships -- which is understood at least a little better from research at the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation. Their observation 35 years ago (after ~50 years' work) was that spatial visualization appeared in family patterns suggesting it was a sex-linked recessive, as it appeared in 25% of women and 50% of men. I don't know whether they've reworked the guess based on better understanding of how genes are expressed, or whether their test results have changed. Yes, the ratio is a lot less imbalanced than in many technical fields; it would be interesting to live long enough to see where the professional ratios settled out after other negative influences on career choice were removed, but I'm not holding my breath.

Greg: I won't argue your particular circumstances, except to note that you'd probably be at least thinking about different choices if it weren't for all the jerks who will \never/ need the off-road or muscle capacities of SUVs but who buy them anyway, allowing for economies of scale. (i.e., what would you do if the relative price of an SUV (compared to a conventional car) doubled?) (The assessment of use isn't mine; it comes from the auto columnists in the Boston Globe, who are much fonder of oversize or otherwise expensive vehicles than the average Globe reader.) Recent events bring this into particular focus; Shrub is too dumb to realize that Iran is insulated against his pressure (not to mention financing Hezbollah) through its large oil revenues -- which have been massively boosted by his anti-conservation policies. (There's plenty of blame to go around, starting with the congresscritters who let SUVs out from CAFE rules, but Shrub has done his part.)
PS: wrt boat towing -- ZipCar is expanding to trucks. (So far, the only one I've seen looks like a joint venture with Ikea, but it's a step.) It sounds like your case is different, but buying for an infrequent worst case isn't much better than buying (per above) for no case at all; the alert readers of this blog have go-bags per MacDonald's advice, but I doubt they purify every drop of water they drink.

PJ: could you expand on the Prius's bad corner vision? It \looks/ like it shouldn't be bad, but I've never ridden in one. (Handbasket is 10.5 years old, so I'm starting to think about a replacement.)

#378 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 09:52 AM:

By which you mean that I only refer to the part of the conversation you quoted and supposedly were replying to. If I was just standing proxy for anyone who has said something that frustrated you in this thread, then it would have been ducky if you had said so in replying to me, rather than implying that you were responding to what I actually said. My review works because it reviews the exchanges between you and me.

Oh for gawds sake. Lets review again, shall we: you replied to my post that was specifically addressed to xopher, a post that was in answer to a specific question by xopher to me. Now, that you're losing the argument, you suddenly want to say only posts directed between you and me count. If you're quite willing to jump down my throat to something I posted directly to xopher, then you can't claim later that the only valid posts for analysis are the ones specifically addressed between me and you.

And in my post to xopher I mention "driving in snow" and "towing a boat trailer" as reasons for considering a truck. You latched onto "driving in snow" and got snarky about people in norway. well, that only works if you ignore the other half of my post. Your 4wd volvo station wagon may drive well in snow, but it may or may not tow a boat on a trailer. Since you replied to my post to xopher, I didn't think I needed to reiterate both requirements, but you kept saying I was ignoring your "people in norway don't need a hummer" argument. except it only works because it's only half the requirements.

It's like me telling xopher I was thinking about getting a helicopter because it flies and I need to hover. And then you get snarky with something like well why not get a cessna airplane, it flies, it's a lot cheaper on gas, and people in norway get around just fine in cesna's. Great. You solved a completely different and unrelated problem, but somehow that proves my argument is bullshit adn that I'm just pounding the table.

#379 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 09:59 AM:

OK, now you all (Ulrika and Greg) are arguing about arguing, instead of arguing about SUVs.

If you could stop, I bet I'm not the only one who'd appreciate that. Weren't we talking about feminism?

You're both good people and I hate it when good people fight with each other. It saps so much energy from the fight against the BAD people.

#380 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 10:09 AM:

ZipCar is expanding to trucks

CHip, that might be an alternative. I'll look into zipcars more when the corolla starts wheezing. (don't know much about it.) The other that's been kicking around is paying for a boat slip, always keeping the boat in one location, and hiring someone or renting a truck/whatever when it comes time to store the boat, although from what little research I've done, that can be quite expensive too, and comes with other tradeoffs.

Another option is joinning a boat club, you pay a large chunk of money a year to be a member, and the club maintains the boats and you just pay for the gas. The one I looked into seemed like it was almost cheaper just to buy a boat, though.

#381 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 10:10 AM:

Would I buy a Prius? Hell no! I don't want to drive around trying to maximize my mileage in the left lane (doing 40 in a 65) slowing everyone else down.

As long as we're talking about stereotyping behavior based on cars, I should point out that when you buy a Prius, the optional lobotomy package is, in fact, just that, optional. You don't have to drive dangerously just because you are driving a gas-electric vehicle. (In fact, given that the view out the rear of a Prius is, at best, limited, one should drive as safely as possible, including not being a traffic plug.)

While it's possible to get exceptionally poor gas mileage with any vehicle, the whole point of a hybrid is that it gets better gas mileage than a conventional vehicle given comparable driving habits. You don't have to drive it in any special way althoug you may choose to. It's also possible that there are Priuses which are in fact traffic plugs in the fast lane. (I'll note that I haven't personally witnessed this. I haven't been looking for it either. But since owning a Prius, I've become very sensitized to seeing them on the road.) However, it's a bit weird to suggest that simply buying the car buying the car will turn you into someone who does 40 in the left lane of a 65 road. Like I said, the lobotomy package is strictly optional. You don't have to get that unless you really want to.

It seems to me the real reason why you shouldn't get a Prius is that you like to go off-road and haul stuff around. It makes your point just as well without assuming that all Prius owners get the optional lobotomy package.

As a personal data point, I don't drive my Prius any differently than my previous car, the VW Jetta (except that the Jetta was a manual). But I get about twice the gas mileage with the Prius. However, I've always been the "coast when possible, roll to a stop" kind of guy which I suspect may be more effective with a Prius than a Jetta. However, I've never pulled the sort of shananigan suggested here and driving a Prius hasn't caused me to start. (I got the vehicle stability control, but I passed on the lobotomy.)

Y'know what I want? A fuel efficient car that can either drag stuff around, or move like a scalded cat when you stomp on the accelerator.

Get a diesel. Once clean diesel is completely phased in and environmental laws catch up, you might even be able to buy one in any of the 50 states. (You currently can't buy a diesel car in states which follow the CA emission standards. I would think that ultra-low sulfur diesel should fix this.)

#382 ::: Paula Liebermans ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 10:31 AM:

CHip:

Mechanical aptitude naively involveds spatial ability--if someone has a lousy spatial relationship grasp, the person is going to have a lot of difficulty envisioning how parts fit together for assemblying mechanical multipart items, for coming up with concepting of making and implementing mechanical stuff, for taking apart and fixing things mechanical, even for relatively "simple" tasks involving apply a hammer to a nail, using a screwdriver, using a chisel, using plans, saws.. and going to more complicated tasks such as using joiners, using soldering irons and blowtorches, etc. I had male relatives (mostly by marriage) who were incapable of changing a tire on a car, and one of my earliest memories is of my Uncle Melvin hammering his thumb instead of the nailhead. relatives by marriage.

Human neural networks are dynamic, and the wiring changes over time. There's also a lot of positive feedback, including when people of similar values clump together and reinforce and enforce those values on one another. What that has to do with aptitudes--why should aptitudes also change over time, with changing brain chemistry and nerual organization? Though, the flexibility to relearn/reorganize seems to drop over time, it's harder to teach old dogs new tricks, and people under stress revert to what they learned at earlier times--everything from people remembering the phone number for where then lived as a child but not for where their relatives live now, to a pilot in Vietnam who decided to try to get his crippled plane back to base instead of ejecting and was grateful to having made that decision because when he unhooked himself from parachute harness and ejection seat, he realized that he had hooked up the belts the way they would be hooked up for the T-33 jet trainer he had learned to fly ejection seat aircraft in, not whatever fighter plane he had been flying in. He was strapped into the seat, but not to the parachute, and he he ejected, it would have been fatal, with the parachute and his plummeting body going separate ways.

=====================

These days I do not have much appreciation for most off-the-road vehicle travel--joyriding around field and forest tearing up the landscape compacting the soil and causing erosion and other problems, isn't my idea of social responsibility, particularly not with situations like having to walk on the narrow and full of brush shoulder to go around the big yellow metal road gate to get into and out of conservation land by the Shawsheen River a mile from my house, and canoers having to carry their canoes around it to get them to the canoe landing area beyond it, because of the stinking yutzes who otherwise would take their stinking SUVs and drive into the athletic fields in the area, smashing over the chainlink fencing to get into it, and leave deep tire tracks all over the fields destroying the fields and costing thousands of dollars to the town to fix the damage and put the fields out of use for weeks... the only time that gates are open are when there are athletic team matches going on, the rest of the time the big yellow 6" or so diameter steel-tubing gate is chained shut.

Irresponsible/malicious yutz SUV drivers have made the entire species of SUV owners/users a detested group. And those who taken them out in ways which harm ecosystems and erode soil and leave trash behind etc., are amoung the more irresponsible... They do an enormous amount of damage on deserts, fragile mountain eco-systems, and as noted above, to fields... damage that can take decades for the natural environment to recover from, assuming that more SUVs and motorcyles don't come in do more damage before recovery can occur...

#383 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 10:34 AM:

As the person who brought the Prius into the discussion, I should like to say, I want one because it feeds my driving needs perfectly, will save me money, and it will spew less gunk into the air. I drive lots of short hops (under 20 miles) on the freeway and lots of in-town, many stops, under 3 miles trips. I drive under 10,000 miles per year. I no longer feel the need to drive in the left lane of the freeway (except on those occasions when I'm running late to wherever I'm going) and while I would like quick acceleration, I don't have it now in my 10 year old Corolla. I'd like world peace, too.

#384 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 10:34 AM:

Subarus have been popular in New England for a long time, with their four wheel drives.

Some car companies I think announced they're coming out with hybrid SUVs, Ford through is apparently backing off on its previous plans in that area.

#385 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 10:37 AM:

How did a thread originally meant for a discussion of feminism turn into one about cars? Urgh. Okay, no more car comments from me...

#386 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 11:24 AM:

If someone really wants to drive something that shows how large his penis must be, he should be driving one of these.

(I actually came across one of the vehicles filling up at a local gas station a few years ago. The driver gave me a couple of their giveaway whistles, ones shaped like the vehicle's inspiration. The idea of putting one end in my mouth and blowing did give me a momentary pause....)


Switching subjects: Uptopic, Mary wrote:

Last summer my son and I went up to the attic to prop open the vent. There was a wasp in the attic. My son (20 yrs old at the time) was freaking out. I sent him downstairs to find a larger block of wood to jam in the vent. While he was gone the wasp landed on the floor and I stomped on it. When my son returned I showed him the dead wasp and he said *ahem*: "Mom, you have proven once again that you are The Man in this family."

I respect both your son for freaking out and you for killing it as soon as feasible. I know it's regarded as heresy to say that any being other than God could create anything, but wasps, hornets, yellowjackets... those were created by Satan. Satan, the bastard. This I believe.

(Can you tell I've been stung by wasps and yellowjackets before? The difference between a wasp sting and an ordinary bee sting is like the difference between a habanero and an Anaheim pepper.)

#387 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 12:14 PM:

Xopher said:
Michael, I understand that there was never a land bridge all the way across the Bering Strait, but different bits of land that appeared at various times, so that random migration left people who had been in northeastern Asia in northwestern America.

I'm not sure about that -- a little poking around with Google (paying attention to scientific sites) suggests that when the ocean levels were low enough, there really was quite a wide land bridge. And since it was in the rain shadow of mountains in Alaska, it got very little precipitation and wasn't always covered with ice.

There's a nice animation of sea levels in the "Beringia" region over the last 18,000 years here.

It's not just humans coming over from Asia; uncovering of the land bridge during previous periods of glaciation over the last few million years apparently allowed lions to migrate from Asia into N. America, and the ancestors of camels to move from N. America to Asia and then to Africa.

#388 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 12:30 PM:

Irresponsible/malicious yutz SUV drivers have made the entire species of SUV owners/users a detested group.

This was basically my original point around SUV's: what that sentence describes is prejudice. Using some set individuals to judge a larger group that is similar in outward appearance or external measure such as owning an SUV. You pre-judge others based on your experience with someone else. It may not be apparent in that form, but if I flip the specifics around, it may trigger some of your detectors:

Irresponsible/malicious feminists who go around calling happily married women "brainwashed" have made the entire species of feminists a detested group.

So, there is some truth to that statement that some feminists have made some people detest all feminists. But the people who detest all feminists based on some irresponsible ones are taking on a prejudice. And one can argue that there are responsible feminists who fight for equal rights, respect men as much as women, and support het marriages.

Hopefully the responsible types can overcome whatever prejudice was created by the irresponsible types and forward the idea of equality among the sexes, but the point is that it is a prejudice.

Also, your wording "Irresponsible xxx have made the entire species of xxx a detested group." is ambiguous in that it doesn't specify detested by whom, and one possible interpretation is that you're asserting they are "detested by all", which isn't accurate. I am part of neither the group that detests all SUV owners nor all feminists. But taking myself out of that detesting group does not mean that I don't say the irresponsible group exists, just that I'm not going to detest the entire group.

Nor is pointing out that the statement reflects a prejudice in any way saying that it doesn't contain some truth. Some people detest all feminists because of the actions of a few irresponsible ones.

But to get beyond the prejudice, it first needs to be pointed out. And part of that would seem to entail getting more specific with the wording as to who is detesting whom, which generally can be fixed by putting the word "some" in appropriate places, perhaps even rewriting the sentence to avoid passive voice:

Some people detest all feminists because of the actions of some irresponsible feminists.

OK, now the sentence is no longer ambiguous. And the detesters are specified, rather than implied, meaning attention can be drawn as to who these people are. And hopefully it becomes obvious that these people are demonstrating a prejudice.

The other thing it makes clear is that not all feminists are irresponsible, and for the responsible ones, it naturally leads to the question, "what do we do?" and a natural answer: deal with the irresponsible folks, and deal with the prejudiced folks.

Finally, and I think this is most important, by specifying that the detesters are "some" rather than "all" of the population, it gives space for some non-prejudiced folks to exist. If a feminist takes on the idea that everyone is against them, then they won't get very far. The rewritten sentence clarifies that it is speaking specifically about a subset of the whole population: people who detest all feminists.

But it says nothing about the rest of the population, and it is those people that responsible feminists may enroll into their idea of equality for all sexes.

#389 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 01:33 PM:

I don;t notice feminists going out destroying athletic fields by knocking down fences and driving SUVs over them, at major expense to the communities that pay for repairing and reseeding the fields and lose the use of them until the new grass has grown in. I don't notice feminists going out eroding public land and destroying desert habit driving dirt bike motorcycles and SUVs and other off-the-road/all-terrain-vehicle leaving tire tracks compacting the soil and destroying the plant life.

I do systematic disempowerment of women going in in various places, e.g. http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/38932/

A Wave of Sexual Terrorism In Iraq

By Ruth Rosen, Tomdispatch.com. Posted July 14, 2006.

...since the American invasion of [Iraq], the reported incidence of sexual terrorism [against women] has accelerated markedly... despite [strong reluctance] to report rapes either to Iraqi officials or to occupation forces, fearing to bring dishonor upon their families [and fear of the victim's family murdering her]. "For women in Iraq," Amnesty International concluded in a 2005 report, "the stigma frequently attached to the victims instead of the perpetrators of sexual crimes makes reporting such abuses especially daunting."

.... the invasion and occupation of Iraq has had the effect of humiliating, endangering, and repressing Iraqi women in ways that have not been widely publicized in the mainstream media: As detainees in prisons run by Americans, they have been sexually abused and raped; as civilians, they have been kidnapped, raped, and then sometimes sold for prostitution; and as women -- and, in particular, as among the more liberated women in the Arab world -- they have increasingly disappeared from public life, many becoming shut-ins in their own homes.

...

In the early 1970s, American feminists redefined rape and argued [it is] driven not by sexual lust, but by a desire to exercise power over another person...That is precisely what has happened to Iraqi women since the American invasion of Iraq. Sexual terrorism coupled with religious zealotry has stolen their right to claim their place in public life.

Equating feminism and SUVs to me shows a major mismatch... feminism's intent to eliminate the barriers and mindset which lock women in purdah whether they want to be there or not, and which lock men into public life whether or not they ight prefer to be keepers of the hearth and do childrearing instead of living an exterior life--it's removing the definition which decrees over here are males, and over there are females, and the sexual dimorphism is all-encompassing and overwheening and there is a natural, mandatory segregation of roles and percpetion based purely and solely on gender, and not mixing allowd except for very specific individuals on an individual waiver for e.g. Queen Bees.

SUV ads are aimed at egocentricity... equating "discrimination" against SUV drivers and prejudice against them to prejudice against feminism, is like Ken Lay's wife complaining about the prospect of losing one of her houses to have to pay restitution compared to someone denied an education because their parents wanted to keep them in e.g. rural Virginia and were afraid that too much education and the offspring would permanently leave the area.



#390 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 02:17 PM:

In that context, I can't see why anywone would drive a Hummer unless they *wanted* to proclaim to everyone around them: "Arrogant, Self-Absorbed American Asshole Driver, Please Bomb Me First."

Little bit of both - my brother who has spent more time there recently than I have is repeatedly astounded by how small some urban spaces where he now drives have become in the time since we were small and on bicycles there ourselves. On the other hand there have been drivers who insisted their fancy high performance high speed low drag cars entitled them to break an American convoy and sometimes found to the detriment of the car that it was not so. Arrogance afflicts both the nasty American and the noble European.

Just the same the Swiss will subsidize the purchase of dual purpose vehicles for personal use given the state's claim on them for mobilization. The Hummer has better approach and departure angles, climbing, ground clearance and fording capabilities than almost anything else in the category and still does better on the road than a Unimog.

Folks I've known whose experience has been more at the NTC than the streets of Heidlberg have been known to say in effect:"I've just got to have one of these they are so cool." I'm not going to say they can't. I've lived a unibomber life style with a dirt driveway .6 miles long and about 400 vertical feet in snow country where chains were really handy even on a 4X4 with good tires - lacking a real SUV it was park on the paved but not necessarily plowed road and walk in.

I used to drive the beaches and such in the SE of the United States in an early (first edition) soft-top Bronco I bought from a Coastie at Norfolk who couldn't use it while he was on a weather cutter. My wife remarked that one reason we got so many looks of envy was that all those people thought we had another vehicle for daily use - which of course we couldn't afford. There is a lot of fun to be had with a fun vehicle.

The suspicion that somebody someplace is having fun with an extravegant vehicle doesn't bother me.

#391 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 02:30 PM:

I have done no personal research on land bridges and there is no authority I consider worth pointing to for a definitive statement.

On the subject of larger cat migrations I was quite amused to read in Tribe of the Tiger by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas that the reason both Lynx and Bobcat exist in North America - with two quite distinct species in two different ecological niches yet the animals are very similar - is two different migrations over the land bridge at different times with different conditions so the ecological niches were different by necessity. By the time each species arrived it had adapted to the niche that applied on the bridge. Waves of migration affects more than humans.

#392 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 02:58 PM:

Thanks, Paula.

I want to add: there's a level of responsibility it is not possible to reach driving an SUV. No matter how super wonderful the driver may be personally, the excessively large vehicle blocks visibility, takes up more space in the lane and in the parking lot, uses more gas to do the same job, uses more resources to make and maintain, increases the risk to other people in accidents, and for reasons stated above are more likely to be in accidents than less excessive cars.

I also want to say more about feminism, but somehow what I wanted to say tripped the questionable-content filter and I don't know how, so it may take some experimentation before I can say it (I swear none of it was actually questionable).

#393 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 03:20 PM:

Lucy: Exactly.

Greg: I must have missed the part where you answered Xopher's question about why you want a Hummer. You are not a selfish jerk, so why do you want something that actively harms the drivers of smaller cars? (Because it does. If I had a dollar for every unsafe thing a Hummer driver has done around me and my Corolla, I'd have enough for a Prius. With the lobotomy package.) Why wouldn't a pickup or a normal SUV be just as good?

#394 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 03:22 PM:

feminism ... (is) removing the definition which decrees over here are males, and over there are females ... SUV ads are aimed at egocentricity...

OK. fine. that wasn't being disputed.

equating "discrimination" against SUV drivers and prejudice against them to prejudice against feminism, is like Ken Lay's wife complaining about the prospect of losing one of her houses

It seems that I am unable to make a small point here for some reason. I haven't figured out exactly why. But when given the stage of feminism, trying to point out a minor point that egocentricity as a principle part of a whole is not bad in and of itself is occuring to me like one injustice is so large that I cannot speak of a smaller injustice. Or something. I really cannot figure out what is going on.

Yes, all sorts of evil things are being done in the world. And no, I have not signed up to take on all those evils. but pointing out a minor wrong is not invalidated simply because you want to talk about some larger wrong.

egocentricity is a part of every human being. So is some form of empathy. Yang and yin.* There is some combination of yang and yin in every individual. And the point is not that there is one combination is right and all others are wrong. The idea is that a multitude of different combinations can be part of a healthy system.

egocentrism as a part of the whole is not a problem. A lot of egocentrism in some individuals is not necessarily a problem, either. The problem is thinking there is one right combination of egocentrism and empathy, that there is only one (or two) right possible combinations of yin and yang.

Some folks in the anti-gay crowd might argue that men should be all yang and women should be all yin. Some female man-hater might try to assert that any and all yang is bad. Some woman-hater might think that all yang is good, and any yin is bad or weak.

The problem is thinking there is one right combination and that all other combinations are wrong in some way.

So, if you wish to lose this point and focus on the simple fact that there are a great number of wrongs being perpetrated against women in the world, fine, go for it. I am sure you will do good deeds. But someone else could fight all the wrongs against women by thinking all men are bad. Good action could be driven by bad principles. The principle that I see leading to a stable end point where all genders are treated equally, is one where no one combination of yin and yang is decided to be right for men and right for women, but that the principle allows for a spectrum of possibilities of yin and yang in different individuals. That the principle holds valid someone with a lot of yang, someone with a lot of yin, someone with an even mix of both, and that there is no "right" mix, nor a "right" gender to be assigned to any particular mix.

Which means you need a world that accepts men with a lot of ego centrism, women with a lot of ego centrism, as well as men with a lot of empathy, and women with a lot of empathy, as well as men with a fifty-fifty mix of ego and empathy, as well as women with a fifty-fifty mix of ego and empathy.

And some of those men with a lot of ego might be driving around in a big ol' SUV, but they might also have enough empathy to not destroy a public playing field or knock down a public fence. If you cannot allow for this as a possibility, then I question what principle is driving your actions.

This will occur as a small point if you are focused on action. If we're simply talking about SUV's driving over fences, this will sound like a minor quibble, like Ken Lay's wife complaining. But if you are focused on principles, then it becomes a rather large point. From the point of view of action, many wrongs are being committed against women and they need to be righted, they need action now. But I think it is the poitn of view of principles that will determine where your final destination might be. Without the right principle, feminism will forever go in circles or pendulum back and forth, unable to find an endpoint.

This really has little to do with SUV's driving over someone's fence, but has more to do with what should be the principle and destination behind feminism. Focus on the SUV's and the point is lost. Focus on the principle, and maybe you can hear what I am trying to say.

*apologies to xopher, those are the only terms I've got, and I can't remember which one was osken and biven.

#395 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 03:36 PM:

TexAnne,
I must have missed the part where you answered Xopher's question about why you want a Hummer

I replied to xopher here
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007730.html#133723

Then I point to this reply here
http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/007730.html#133775

Why wouldn't a pickup or a normal SUV be just as good?

In the reply to xopher, wherein he asks for the specifics behind my thought process, I point out that I was thinking of getting a truck to do a job, probably a Toyota Tundra, and a Hummer was free associated in as one of many possible alternatives. This is one of the few times where anyone actually asked where a Hummer was in my thought process. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that I never said a Hummer was the best and only vehicle for the task. It seems like everyone is reading my posts as saying a Hummer is the only way to go or soemthing. I don't even think I ever said a Hummer was "cool". The only vehicle that I recall discussing with a "neato" factor was the VBL. I find the VBL cool for being amphibious the way I find a tiltrotor cool for having tilt rotors. But I don't have any plans to buy either a VBL or a tiltrotor.

#396 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 03:51 PM:

Greg: Thank you, I'd missed both of those. Please ignore the rest of my comment.

#397 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 03:55 PM:

Okay: corner visibility on a Prius. Mine is a 2002, and I don't know how it may have changed on more recent models. I can't see the front hood at all - a taller driver might be able to see the top few inches - because it drops fairly quickly to the bumper: no visible front corners.Rear corners: the trunk lid is high, and has that itty-bitty wing - maybe it does something for aerodynamics, but I think it's mostly to look neat - so the back corners are about six inches out and two feet down from where you can see anything behind you. Road visibility (as far as seeing other vehicles) is actually pretty good. And it handles freeways quite nicely: what it hates are grades over 6 percent and stop-and-go traffic. (The problem with grades may be less in the newer models also, as I understand they've increased the horsepower.)

And on the subject of knitting: Nancy C, I got to the box with 'Fair Isle Knitting'. If you'll send me a snailmail address, I'll get it to you.

#398 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 06:11 PM:

Hunh. This whole argument about SUVs seems to be based on what I consider to be a completely false assumption: that the majority of SUVs are driven by men. The vast majority of SUVs I see around here, in an urban area, a suburb of DC, are being driven by women. I myself drove an SUV (an Isuzu Rodeo) for five years while my husband drove a Honda Civic. SUVs replaced station wagons and minivans for hauling the kids and their friends around to soccer practice and little league. When my son was in school I was his one-woman road crew. I drove kids to soccer games, Tae Kwon Do tournaments, and orchestra rehearsals. The day my son turned 16 the Rodeo became his car and I took over the Honda Civic.

I'll add, though, that I've never seen a woman driving a Hummer, so that may be the last refuge for men who want their vehicle to say I Am The Man.

#399 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 06:14 PM:

I meant to add that many women feel safer in an SUV because it's a heavy vehicle. The statistics suggest otherwise, though, because SUVs have a tendency to roll over.

#400 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 15, 2006, 06:44 PM:

Paula: Mechanical aptitude naively involveds spatial ability--if someone has a lousy spatial relationship grasp, the person is going to have a lot of difficulty envisioning how parts fit together for assemblying mechanical multipart items, for coming up with concepting of making and implementing mechanical stuff, for taking apart and fixing things mechanical, even for relatively "simple" tasks involving apply a hammer to a nail, using a screwdriver, using a chisel, using plans, saws.

I'll buy this relationship, but the converse is not necessarily true. I inherited great spatial skills from my father, and love tools, but my tool-using ability is nowhere near as good. In a word, I'm clumsy, and my husband winces every time he sees me using a broom.

#401 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 12:41 AM:

Paula - I'm horrified that you have people in town who would tear up the local athletic field. Sounds like stupid teenagers to me.

FWIW, I don't drive off-road on vacations, I just drive on roads that would destroy a car without high clearance and 4WD. Most landings where you can put in a canoe are accessible from real roads, and only sometimes from forest roads. There are many roads in our National Parks that are 4WD only. I like being able to drive on all of them. (BTW - renting isn't an option as every company bans driving their vehicles on dirt or gravel roads.)

I should also add that one reason I bought an SUV in the first place was that I was tired of looking at the undercarriages of all the other vehicles on the road. In the fleet-compatibility wars, I chose not to be among the run-over. I suspect that my next car will be a real car, but I'll keep the Xterra till it dies for vacations.

Oh, and I ride a motorcycle too - although only on-road. It's the vehicle that lets me accelerate to highway speed faster than most any car can, and it's a mild-mannered BMW.

#402 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 01:19 AM:

Karla Comfort had some publicity as a woman with a decent reason to choose a Hummer - I'd hate to think anyone would mar her paintjob with egg or use a key to scratch.

#403 ::: Madeline F ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 03:58 AM:

Using some set individuals to judge a larger group that is similar in outward appearance or external measure such as owning an SUV. You pre-judge others based on your experience with someone else. It may not be apparent in that form, but if I flip the specifics around, it may trigger some of your detectors:

Irresponsible/malicious feminists who go around calling happily married women "brainwashed" have made the entire species of feminists a detested group.

You are lost. Again and again you've ignored the points repeated by handuls of people that SUVs are, physically, cars that endanger everyone else on the highway more than normal cars. You've got a point that it's unfair to call all SUV drivers jerk drivers because some are jerk drivers... But that's not the main point against SUV drivers.

#404 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 01:43 PM:

Just the same the Swiss will subsidize the purchase of dual purpose vehicles for personal use given the state's claim on them for mobilization.

What a great idea -- make all SUV owners (or at least all Hummer owners) serve in the reserve! (Minimum requirement ~(1 weekend/month + 2 weeks/year); current requirements unlimited thanks to Shrub's little mine's-bigger play.)

#405 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 02:18 PM:

I'm going to smile and assume that the anti-SUV vitriol is just hyperbole.

1. I bought an SUV so I can drive on roads that would destroy an ordinary car
2. I bought it at a time when I regularly took transit to work
3. I'd use transit now, but it would take 3 times as long as driving. Transit in King County, WA is built around the travel patterns of the 1960's, so I'd have to take a bus downtown, transfer and then sit in even more traffic getting out to the Eastside (of Lake Washington) than if I was a solo driver. The motorcycle is the fastest option for this commute. 25 minutes by motorcycle, 45 minutes by car, 75 minutes by bus.
4. I'd rather drive something more fuel efficient, but I still want to be able to drive Forest Service roads and schlep stuff.
5. Renting allows for schlepping, but not for Forest Service roads.
6. I don't want to be the one who gets decapitated in an accident where one vehicle slides beneath another.
7. I work from home 1 day a week, reducing my communting carbon load 20%. I also try to use the bike 2 or three days a week, which is more fuel-efficient (45 mpg) but not necessarily less polluting as bikes are exempt from emissions testing.

So, given the above paramaters and remediations, what would you do?

#406 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 02:39 PM:

...make all SUV owners (or at least all Hummer owners) serve in the reserve!

Time to update the Second Amendment?

#407 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 03:47 PM:

Larry, I said that some oversized vehicles can be justified. I'm not going to say what you should do in your situation, because I wouldn't be in your situation unless I was you.

The SUVs I meet are on urban streets and in urban parking places. They regularly take up two or even three parking places because the parking places were designed during that brief period when USians bought reasonably-sized cars and the SUVs simply do not fit in them. They regularly block intersections because they can't help it. They regularly threaten bicyclists, pedestrians, vespaists, and the denizens of smaller cars because they can't help it. Do you even know how bad it sounds when you say I don't want to be the one who gets decapitated in an accident where one vehicle slides beneath another
-- when you and I and everyone knows that that kind of accident is peculiar to the SUV v regular car situation?

I don't honestly care if a few people have SUVs. The problem is that the SUV has been marketed as the logical choice for everyone to drive, as a symbol of respectability ("soccer moms"), an evocation of the good life (in the commercials: driving off road to gorgeous vistas, loading the SUV with consumer toys, driving, driving, driving all over town to respectable places, filling the car with glamorous, upper middle class, white people), and both a privilege of and a prequisite for membership in the middle class. And to get back to the beginning of this subconversation: the marketing for these vehicles reinforce gender stereotypes -- some of them new, some of them old.

It's not me (or by extension, these other folks here) you need to convince of the appropriateness of your vehicle or how repsonsible your transportation choices are. We have no hold on you, and I promise that if we ever met in person I would not snub you for your vehicle. Can you see how this is a conversation that is bigger than your personal situation?

This is actually something I should have said way back when Greg London first turned a discussion of gender politics in general to a platform for defending his personal vehicle choice.

#408 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 04:26 PM:

Greg London first turned a discussion of gender politics in general to a platform for defending his personal vehicle choice.

Lucy, I went back and read the thread, and that isn't what I see. The commentary about cars was fairly light-hearted -- at one point I believe Greg also wished for a helicopter -- until Greg suddenly (seemed sudden to me, anyway) came under attack for his refusal to disavow Hummers and by extension all SUVs, and the commentary stopped being light-hearted and started skirting the edge of personal insult.

Were I moderator -- no disrespect or criticism intended, Teresa -- I would now suggest that each of you withdraw to your respective neutral corners and get a grip.

Or you could continue...

#409 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 04:47 PM:

Lizzy -- Somehow I managed to miss the whole SUV fracas. Oh well. You might like to know that friends of mine who drive Priuses (Prii?) are very happy with the acceleration. The electrical assist gives hybrids fantastic low-end torque. One friend was heavily into Mustangs before his environmentalist conscience got him into buying a Prius. Now he is heavily into wind energy, plug-in hybrids, and surprising gas-guzzler muscle cars at stoplights.

#410 ::: Laura Quilter ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 06:07 PM:

A modest proposal for rational fantasy economics: Let us simply stop externalizing the cost of individual transportation onto the citizenry broadly. Figure out the cost of gas, air pollution, building and maintaining and resurfacing roads (and the gas and air pollution costs of all the industrial resurfacing equipment), policing and regulating roads (traffic lights and signs & tollbooths), licensing transportation (DMV bureaucracy, cost of license plates), manufacturing cars, shipping cars, health costs to the populace, and the like. Come up with the appropriate measure(s) and appropriate times to be charged: perhaps a single charge when purchasing a vehicle plus a per-mile or per-gallon charge (gas tax anyone?). Give appropriate discounts for socially useful transportation: get-out-the-vote, school buses, groceries for the elderly; driving to work at perhaps a slightly lower discount. Obviously the economics would be different in rural & urban; there would have to be some sort of discount for people who are part of essential rural economies (e.g., agriculture).

If we put the taxes up front, instead of writing them into the budget for DOTs and DMVs and EPAs, would people realize how inefficient the automotive transportation system is? Would it change anyone's behavior? (Or, if we saw the numbers, would it turn out to be more efficient than trains or mass transit?)

... On SUZ size complaints: It's interesting to hear about the heightened risk of death to small persons. I find SUVs to be annoying to non-SUV drivers on the road, because they block too much view. The folks who talk about the heightened safety of SUVs may feel that they are crowded by SUVs, and need their own in order to be able to see the road. An arms race of sort.

... last but not least: My partner & I quarrel over which of us came up with the highly popular sign she carried to 2001 Pride in San Francisco: "Lesbians Against SUVs".

#411 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 08:04 PM:

A lot of people believe the way to get ahead in life is by separating a cost from a benefit, claiming the benefit, and sticking someone else with the cost. They think this is good business. It's strictly a zero or negative-sum way of thinking: If they empower the other guy, they're leaving money on the table. Their ultimate goal is to gain an entitlement, a benefit they can claim permanently, without working, and pass on to their children. Getting away with this requires power, which is why members of this class are so preoccupied with accumulating resources, gaining control over governments, and controlling access to education and news.

I'm not saying that rational economics is never going to happen, just that there are powerful special interests who think that fully accounting for externalized costs is bad for business; their business.

Drawing parallels with patriarchal control of women is left to the reader.

#412 ::: Sara G ::: (view all by) ::: July 16, 2006, 08:42 PM:

Personally, I don't think SUVs are harder to see around than minivans, and where I'm from their primary purpose seems to be to replace the minivan, so I do not have the grudge against them that many here seem to. I drive a Honda Insight, so I have trouble seeing around just about everything. The only time I have serious trouble though is in parking lots, and that is usually with full size vans or pickup trucks, though SUVs are annoying. I tend to be aware that I am the smallest thing on the road, and drive accordingly.

Per the Prius part of the conversation: I don't think my acceleration is any worse than the average car. I believe I do have to downshift sooner to get up steep hills than I might in a non-hybrid, but I just learned to adjust. It's the perfect car for me, as with my driving habits I only buy gas once a month (or every six weeks recently) and I'm always surprised by what I can fit in the back. I wouldn't drive a Prius, because the trunk is too small, and I have more need for carrying things than passengers. But I will always drive a hybrid of some sort, because I could never bring myself to raise my monthly gas budget over $30.

Anyway, that's contributing to the car tangent. I could comment on feminism, but I have nothing useful to add.

#413 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 12:49 AM:

Sara G: I tend to be aware that I am the smallest thing on the road, and drive accordingly.

Hey! Not so fast there. For the past 15 years, I've commuted in a Mazda Miata. I look up at Honda Insights.

What's even funnier: until our kids finally outgrew our Honda Civic a couple of years ago, the Miata was the largest car my family had ever owned. (The Miata's curb weight is greater than any of our various Civics.)

The Miata was the perfect commuter-car until just about ten years ago, when everyone in my town decided that they really wanted to be a truck driver, and they all ran out to buy an SUV. Occasionally I stop at a light, and every single one of the eight adjacent vehicles will be an SUV. It's like sitting in a hole.


#414 ::: Ragnell ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 08:00 AM:

Mechanical aptitude naively involveds spatial ability--if someone has a lousy spatial relationship grasp, the person is going to have a lot of difficulty envisioning how parts fit together for assemblying mechanical multipart items, for coming up with concepting of making and implementing mechanical stuff, for taking apart and fixing things mechanical, even for relatively "simple" tasks involving apply a hammer to a nail, using a screwdriver, using a chisel, using plans, saws.

"I'll buy this relationship, but the converse is not necessarily true. I inherited great spatial skills from my father, and love tools, but my tool-using ability is nowhere near as good. In a word, I'm clumsy, and my husband winces every time he sees me using a broom."

It's not true, I can't judge distance for crap but the best work I can do at my job is the stuff that involves mechanical skill.

#415 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 08:56 AM:

About the Prius, the continuously variable transmission means that unlike an Insight, you don't get a choice of what gear you're in. Acceleration is up to the task of ordinary driving. It is so clearly not up to the task of say drag racing. (However, the electric motor has lots of torque so passing is easier than I'd expected.)

Passengers tell me that the cabin is really quite roomy. (This includes a guy who's 6'5" and a guy with the body structure of a comic book superhero.) So if you value cargo space over passenger space, lowering the back seat probably works well. That's how my upstairs neighbor fits her cello into her Prius. (Of course, the Insight gets better gas mileage and is available in manual. Two reasons why I almost bought one instead of a Prius.)

As for feminism, (taking lead time into account,) I wonder if Garry Trudeau anticipated this conversation with this past Sunday's Doonesbury.
Also, Xopher made an analogous point (albeit without the positive spin) about the emerging generation of gay men.

#416 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 10:01 AM:

JC - Great minds think alike. Here's Sunday's Doonesbury.

And I think I did say that the world where they don't have to think about it was what we were fighting for...even though it annoys the hell out of me.

#417 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 10:03 AM:

JC again, speaking of the Prius: Acceleration is up to the task of ordinary driving. It is so clearly not up to the task of say drag racing.

Good car to be the only one the teenagers in the family are allowed to drive, methinks.

#418 ::: adamsj ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 10:16 AM:

I had a similar thought about Sunday's Doonesbury, with which I disagreed.

#419 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 10:33 AM:

Non-sequitur alert! Another use for a Hummer: it will fit six women in hoop skirts.

Um, yeah, and so will my Ford Taurus. I can also sleep in the Taurus - with the back seat folded down it's as long as my bed.

Costumes In Cars Annoyance Scale: It's less annoying to drive in a round hoop than an elliptical, and less annoying to drive in an elliptical than a bustle, and all of these are less annoying behind the wheel than a @#&*! Edwardian corset. I think I have bruises on my thighs from yesterday.

#420 ::: Sam Dodsworth ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 10:38 AM:

adamsj - I'm with you on that Doonesbury strip. Anyone who thinks there's no more need for feminists should ask my four-year-old nephew why he doesn't like "girls' colours".

#421 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 10:39 AM:

Mechanical aptitude, or inaptitude, is not gender dependent, look at all the woman who do quilting--for that matter, quilting that involves strong spatial-geometric kinaesthetics. A lot of "female crafts" require a high degree of mechanical ability... but Society generally refuses to accede to acknowledging any such thing.

One of my dance partners (male) does beautiful counted cross-stitch, which I put in the category of Fussy Little Embroidery Things that I hate doing. My favorite form of sewing is long straight seams where I can put my (all-mechanical) sewing machine on high speed and really zoom along.

We agree that making cage crinolines is da bomb, though. I get to use my drill and he gets to do little bits of hand stitching and we both get to play with string.

#422 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 10:43 AM:

Anyone who thinks there's no more need for feminists should ask my four-year-old nephew why he doesn't like "girls' colours".

That's certainly cultural - a hundred years ago, pink was considered a strong color more suitable for little boys than girls. Things do change.

#423 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 11:20 AM:

Mechanical aptitude, or inaptitude

Am I the only one who remembers that the opposite of 'apt' is 'inept'? There's no such thing as an "ept pupil," or an inaptitude.

#424 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 11:39 AM:

You are lost. Again and again you've ignored the points repeated by handuls of people that SUVs are, physically, cars that endanger everyone else on the highway more than normal cars. You've got a point that it's unfair to call all SUV drivers jerk drivers because some are jerk drivers... But that's not the main point against SUV drivers.


You have some points against SUV drivers. They appear to include some objective measures such as poor milage, to which you seem unwilling to tradeoff in the face of some functionality that is unavailable in a hybrid electric. Another objective measure of sorts is some statistical numbers which say they are more dangerous to other drivers, but no one seems willing to acknowledge that someone experienced with a large SUV might actually know how to drive one to the point of having the same chance of rollover as a minivan, and have the same chance of backing over a child in a driveway as someone in a station wagon. The only other objective complaint that I've heard so far is "I can't see around them", which has been presented on this thread repeatedly as if it were some sort of trump card that wins out against all other replies. I can't see around 18 wheelers, but I can deal with them on the highway.

If any of these were the "main complaint" against SUV drivers, then they only work if you are unwilling to allow someone to trade milage for towing capacity, if you are adamant that you know better than they do what sort of capability they need, and whatever they need to do, they don't need an SUV or truck. Otherwise, these are all trade-off issues, which the potential owner should make, not you. The fact that several people practically demanded that I exlain my thought process to justify the reasons I might need a big truck, gives me the impression that they felt they could decide what's better for me than I could.

The other "main complaint" against SUV drives is that the people who drive them are obnoxious. anecdotal evidence is submitted about some people in SUV's tearing up a public playing field.

The problem with that "main point" is that obnoxious SUV drivers get noticed because they're assholes and do noticable things. But how, exactly, is one going to notice a non-asshole SUV driver driving down the highway, not tearing up some public field? You can't because they aren't noticable. You might notice that you can't see around this person's SUV, but that doesn't make them an asshole. This is using anecdotal evidence of a positive (asshole SUV drivers) to prove a lack of a negative (that responsible SUV drivers must not exist).

The remaining complaints against SUV owners have all been subjective issues. They are "egomobiles". The advertising for SUV's appeal to the drivers egocentricity. And to this I was making my one main point with regard to feminism.

I tried explaining this in my last post, but to no avail. Ego is not inherently bad or evil. Everyone has some mix of ego and empathy in them. And it is possible for an individual to have a lot of ego but enough empathy to act responsibly. The people tearing up the playing field obviously don't. But to sit back in righteous indignation and condemn any and all "ego" could be the sort of thinking behind the caricature-feminist-man-hater. And for those on this thread who have been completely unwilling to acknowledge even the remote possibility of someone demonstrating ego but having enough empathy to do it in a responsible way, I have to wonder what principles are driving their reasoning.

The ideal principle behind my idea of feminism would be to allow for a spectrum of ego/empathy combinations in individuals, and to also allow any combination to be expressed in any gender.

The problem I percieve to be behind sexism is in part the thinking that ego is good and empathy is weak, and that men should have ego and women should have empathy, and anything that violates these ideas are abominations. To respond to this with the idea that ego is bad, is to simply create the flip side of the same mistake.

#425 ::: Lucy Kemnitzer ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 11:49 AM:

I think we've been demonstrating the error of the Doonesbury strip here in this conversation. It's wishful thinking. It represents a dangerous delusion ("we've done that work and that struggle is over, we don't have to be on alert anymore, so stop being shrill").

Let's go ahead and be shrill, okay?

Do people here read The Corpuscle? I think here is where I learned about him. He makes great sense on these subjects.

#426 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 11:52 AM:

Lucy: and on most subjects. And he makes sense with wit and warmth too.

I think he's one of the commenters here, but I don't know which one.

#427 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 12:16 PM:

We do indeed read, and recommend, The Corpuscle. Who has indeed posted hereabouts under his given name.

#428 ::: Christopher Davis ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 12:33 PM:

The Boston Zipcar system lists 11 Toyota Tacoma pickup trucks, two of which are IKEA-labeled hourly-only vehicles.

#429 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 12:44 PM:

The Corpuscle...has indeed posted hereabouts under his given name.

That means you're not going to tell us who, doesn't it? Darn you anyway.

#430 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 01:20 PM:

Ragnell -- [on spatial relationships] It's not true, I can't judge distance for crap but the best work I can do at my job is the stuff that involves mechanical skill.

Spatial relationships isn't all (or even really at all) about distances, it's about topologies--how things fit together, what happens when you rotate them, finding shortest/best paths, being able to mentally walk though a house when all you have is the floor plan, being able to visualize a fully constructed temple from three broken columns, two steps, and a chunk of frieze.

I can't do anything that involves trying to figure out where a ball is going to be, and then putting part of myself there, or any of the other real-time vector processing athletic things. I was a fencer becasue I only had to worry about 2.5 dimensions and no curves.

#431 ::: Ragnell ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 06:29 PM:

joann -- Oh, then what do you call it when you can't judge distance?

#432 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 08:33 PM:

There are kind, courteous, thoughtful, gracious SUV drivers, who also comprehend that what they are driving is a truck with a high center of gravity, and who are using them to carry loads of stuff-. Then, there are the ones who park their monstermobiles where it says "compact car only," who drive in the left lane as if their trucks were sportscars, who in a low-speed crash accordion the car ahead of them because they don't understand the concept of "momentum" and that SUVs need a longer distance to stop than less massive vehicles (I was behind an SUV demonstrating just that... I think I mentioned in here in detail some months back...), and who may never have seen the inside of a Home Depot, let alone needed to haul -stuff- around that wouldn't fit in a passenger car.

Then there was the driver of the H2 Hummer which I thought I got a picture of, who with a red light in the center of town headed north on 3A/Boston Road just before the town common, sort of stopped well ahead of the white line, then continued going past that white line and all the way into the crosswalk, blocking off the crosswalk.

That was egregious behavior even for the particular noxious variety of jerk who drives a Hummer (note, I am NOT saying that all SUV drivers or Hummer drivers are jerks--but the one who are, stick out a LOT more and are a lot more obvious than jerks who drive smaller vehicles are and acting like jerks...

Also, when someone is being a jerk driving, the jerks driving SUVs are generally more dangerous and more lethal jerks, than jerks driving smaller vehicles--the reasons include Newtonian physics regarding mass and momentum and center of gravity stability and stopping distances and torque (the higher the center of gravity, the greater the rollover likelihood, the greater the mass, the more time and distance it takes to stop a vehicle, and the less time and distance there is available to avoid catastrophe), and SUVs since they get binned as "utility vehicles" get waivers on safety requirement strictness that passenger cars don't get for protection of people inside the vehicle. Additionally, the perceptions of the drivers--that SUVs with their greater mass are "safer" and the perception sitting higher up that the vehicle isn't travelling as fast as a lower vehicle of the same height would be, when one is the driver, exacerbate the situation.


As for female hummer drives, they exist, someone I went to college with, I was told by her brother who goes to conventions, has one.

Non-instantaneous-at-least-jerk SUV drivers show on highways when they are driving at the prevailing velocity keeping extra space between their vehicle and the vehicle ahead, and not playing sportcar driver, and aren't in the left lane tailgating. Then tehre was the day I was on the MassPike and notice an SUV doing 80 or more in the left lane, loaded with racks of clothing, which had not license plate... there wasn't one on the FRONT of the car, either. I called the state cops on my cell phone and reported it, suspecting there might be a merchandise theft ring involved.

Basically, the equation is that "SUVs are more dangerous and inconvenient for -other- people vehicles than passenger cars, and callous SUV drivers are much more noticeable and can cause more damage and unpleasantness than someone in a smaller vehicle. Therefore, the reputation of SUVs and SUV drivers as classes, are held in greater contempt that the reputation of drivers of smaller vehicles." Someone in a smaller cut with shorter braking distance, a lower center of gravity, and a smaller size footprint, is commenrately less obnoxious on the road and in the parking lot and on cramped urban areas for other drivers and for pedestrians, than someone in an SUV. And a smaller vehicle with its snout in a crosswalk takes up a lot less space of the crosswalk and can be seen around better than the car next to the Hummer that the driver stuck his privileged snout far into the crosswalk with (guess where I in my small car compared with that Hummer...) The two men in the commercial truck behind the Hummer noted me taking the picture of the Hummer (which may not have come out...), they seemed to be rather appalled at the Hummer driver, too...)

#433 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 08:51 PM:

Paula - It's possible that the badly-driven SUV was recently registered in CA, where the temporary tag consists of a little piece of paper that you fold up and tape inside the front window.

BTW, the 2000 Nissan Xterra (which I own) is 178" long x 70.4" wide, 2006 Toyota Camry (most common new car sold in the US) is 189.2" long and 70.7" wide, making it substantially longer and just slightly wider than my car, and even less eligible for parking in a space marked "Compact". (Not personalizing your comment, just pointing out that many SUVs are indeed shorter than a mid-sized sedan.)

Oh, and the car/driver combo that *I* notice behaving badly on the road is most commonly a late model Toyota Camry (usually in metallic gold) driven by a middle-aged woman. The most common bad behaviors are indecisiveness, driving much slower than the prevailing speed, improper merging, missing brake lights and failure to signal. This seems to apply in both Northern CA and Metro Seattle.

#434 ::: Thena (still in Maine) ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 08:58 PM:

I think the biggest problem I have with SUVs is that there are so bloody many of them, and I'm still driving my 1989 Oldsmobile.

I'll grant that some people have a good use for high-clearance vehicles - we have some scary roads around here, and I don't just mean the tote roads and fire lanes in rural areas, I'm talking "should have been paved again five years ago and was that my muffler?" scary. I'll also grant that some people have a good use for cargo/passenger capacity beyond what my beater can handle (though it's amazing what you can pack into a sedan if you have short legs and load carefully.)

I just don't understand why there have to be so damn many of them, speeding beyond the usual ten-over, pulling forward and blocking my sight line in the left turn lane, riding my rear bumper up long hills, taking up both the shady parking spaces and half a traffic lane in the old village shopping districts, driven by solitary cell-phone-yakking coffee-drinking non-turn-signal-using fools who either aren't looking for my non-SUV or think the law about yielding to the inside lane of the rotary doesn't apply to them personally.

My one solace is that the Goldsmobile's blue book value is less than my insurance deductable, so I won't lose much if it gets wrecked, and I don't care about the paint job. That's what Bondo is for.

#435 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 09:40 PM:

I'm included in the 'bird' category by implication, and I don't like it. And I especially don't like that it allows some men to feel that they can refer to me as a 'bird' - without any attempt at playfulness - and expect me to like it and be flattered by it. That's what makes me 'strident', and why I do take the language issue seriously.

Well, that seems like something to take up with the men who use the word in reference to you, not the women who use in on themselves. It seems to me that the men in question are the ones you have a beef with. And it would be the worst sort of silly sexism to think that the women you were describing were more responsible for those men's utterances than the men themselves are.

#436 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 09:41 PM:

Thena not in the Attic, I hate those people too. Especially when they almost hit me.

#437 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 09:50 PM:

That means you're not going to tell us who, doesn't it? Darn you anyway.

What? You seriously don't already know? :->

#438 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 09:52 PM:

PJ,
I emailed you from an .edu account with the word knitting in the title.

Squee!

#439 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 09:55 PM:

So, given the above paramaters and remediations, what would you do?

Learn to hike. Offroading should just be illegal.

And stop exaggerating the limitations of King County transit.

#440 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 10:01 PM:

I just live in fear that someone talking on a cell phone in an SUV will just run my teeny Mystique ass over. It HAS gotten better since the office moved a bit closer and I've found a rather pleasant way through the suburbs and tree-lined streets, I avoid getting on the highway totally and it takes the same 30 minutes whether I get on the highway or not.

but even then, especially in the morning, sometimes people in SUVs get right up behind me and then I realize they're on the phone and not really seeing what is in front of them. I do my best to change lanes and let them go.

#441 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 10:20 PM:

Ulrika - I *do* hike, and I don't drive off-road. I drive on roads that are designated 4WD only. There are quite a few of these in the National Park system, particularly in parks like Lava Beds and Death Valley. Often these are the only way to get to certain places. If you want to see the mysterious sliding boulders of the Racetrack Playa, don't try it in a standard sedan or you'll be wondering exactly how long that gallon of water will keep you alive.

And the transit system in King County is extensive, but needlessly complex and overly focused on downtown Seattle.

I can walk to several bus routes from my apartment (5, 16, 46, 31, 26) three of them go downtown, the others go to the U-district, but not all the way to the Montlake Freeway Station, making them useless for commuting. All of these buses stop at different stops, both downtown, in the U-District and in my neighborhood, so you have to have a crystal ball to know which bus stop to use for the next bus. They each run every 20 minutes peak and 30 minutes off peak, so missing one means a serious wait. I'd rather have fewer routes with more frequent service.

KC Metro provides false choice with regard to the services it operates. I use the bus more on weekends than to commute because I want to go downtown on weekends. I want to go to work on weekdays, but I don't want to have to waste an extra hour each day to avoid driving just because the routes don't reflect current commuting patterns.

BTW - I worked from home today, and haven't started my car since Friday, when I took it to the carwash. I like driving, but I don't like having to drive.

#442 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 10:42 PM:

There are kind, courteous, thoughtful, gracious SUV drivers, who also comprehend that what they are driving is a truck with a high center of gravity, and who are using them to carry loads of stuff-. Then, there are the ones ... (snip)

One sentence acknowledging hypothetical responsible SUV drivers nonetheless driving a homicidal vehicle, and seven paragraphs listing anecdotal evidence of asshole SUV drivers. I suppose that may be the best I can hope for.

as for the dangers associated with various vehicles and drivers, I've been scanning through the Dept of Transportation report for 2004.

If I'm reading it correctly, page 33 says the most dangerous vehicle as far as fatalities goes is a motorcycle, based on the involvement rate per 100,000 registered vehicles. cars=19, light trucks=25, large trucks=60, and motorcycles=71.

note that they define "large truck" on page 214 as "Trucks over 10,000 pounds gross vehicle weight rating". and light trucks are under 10,000 pounds. which, I think can be taken to mean SUV's are "light trucks" according to these statistics and what they call large trucks are semi tractor trailers and the like.

Then again, the table on page 35 says that the involvement rate per 100,000 drivers shows men=42 and women=15, so maybe we should just outlaw men drivers. The table on 27 shows that involvement rate per 100K based on age peaks in the 16 to 20 year old range at 28/100k, then flattening out to 12/100k from ages 25 to 75.

Then again, the table on page 48 shows that 34 percent of all accidents were caused by drivers with a blood alchol level of .08 or higher. The table on page 49 shows that half of drunk driving accidents occur on a holiday. perhaps we could shut down the highways during holidays.

The table on page 56 shows that 52% of people killed were not wearing a seatbelt, versus 42% of fatalities being people wearing a seatbelt. (the other portion, seatbelt use wasn't known.)

The table on 71 does show that of the total 38,000 fatalities for the year, that about 14,000 were two-vehicle accidents, and in those accidents, the largest combination was a car and a light truck. But apparently the remaining 24,000 fatalities were single vehicle accidents. I'm not sure how the two-car accidents get added up into the vehicle type statistics of cars=19, light trucks=25.

But it would seem that in terms of lethality on the road, driving without a seatbelt is the biggest killer, followed by drunk driving. and that light trucks are hardly any more dangerous than a car at least on the grand scale of things. The difference doesn't seem to deserve the rap that they're getting at least.

#443 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 17, 2006, 11:32 PM:

Did those fatality figures also include fatalities per unit distance, and fatalities to pedestrians and people in other vehicles?

"Whether the rock hits the pitcher, or the pitcher hits the rock, it's going to be bad for the pitcher." -- Sancho in Man of La Mancha

There are four wheel drive vehicles that are smaller than "Tahoma, it's a guy thing" (commercial that was just on TV, I didn't see it, I heard it...), Bronco, Hummers, etc., and even some four wheel drive cars, Subarus and such.

#444 ::: pat greene ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 02:41 AM:

Did those fatality figures also include fatalities per unit distance, and fatalities to pedestrians and people in other vehicles?

Probably not. But researchers are saying that SUVs pose significant danger to pedestrians. The study mentioned in the article showed that a the risk of death to pedestrian struck by an SUV was nearly double that of one struck by a sedan.

As I said above, my view is prejudiced by unfortunate personal experience. But it is not just me who thinks these things are a menace.

#445 ::: Sam Dodsworth ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 04:49 AM:

Susan:
That's certainly cultural - a hundred years ago, pink was considered a strong color more suitable for little boys than girls. Things do change.

I don't actually know what colours he thinks are "girls' colours" - I asked, but he got distracted. But, yes, the fact that it's cultural is part of my point: the idea that there are "girls' colours" that he's supposed to despise is something he's picked up from the zeitgeist. And as long as boys are expected to despise "girly" things then feminism will be a live issue.

#446 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 09:40 AM:

Did those fatality figures also include fatalities per unit distance, and fatalities to pedestrians and people in other vehicles?

I don't know if it included fatalities-per-distance traveled. Since it was a DOT report of fatalities in general, I would think they included fatalities to pedestrians. People in other vehicles are still vehicle fatalities, so they are in there.

But the overall involvement rate based on vehicle type was

19 cars involved per 100,000 registered cars
25 light trucks involved per 100,000 registered trucks.

oh, wait, they do have rates per mile on the same page (33). Involvement rates per hundred million vechicle miles traveled are:

1.6 per 100 million car miles
2.0 per 100 million light truck miles

So, my point is that 19 cars per 100,000 cars as compared to 25 trucks per 100,000 trucks doesn't seem to be a big enough difference in my mind to justify making a car-versus-suv purchase decision based on the idea that SUV's are homicidal vechicles compared to cars.

The biggest issues on the road seem to be not wearing a seatbelt and drunk driving. The idea that SUV's are far more dangerous than a car, to the point that even thinking of buying an SUV is akin to vehicular homicide, appears to be a fallacy, prejudice, or bias.

#447 ::: Laura Quilter ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 09:55 AM:

And here some people accuse feminism of being divisive. <grin>

#448 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 09:58 AM:

the risk of death to pedestrian struck by an SUV was nearly double that of one struck by a sedan.

OK. Fine. But that doesn't mean that any randomly selected SUV driver is twice as likely to get in an accident as a car. The DOT report shows that overall fatality involvement rates per 100,000 vehicles, cars came in at 19, light trucks at 25 per 100,000.

Driving an SUV isn't like driving while intoxicated. But some folks here reacted to the idea of me even thinking of buying an SUV as if I were announcing on the list that I plan to chug a bottle of whiskey and then get on the freeway. The statistics do not support that reaction.

most accidents were single vehicle accidents, which means statistically that SUV's aren't roaming the streets just waiting to plow into someone. And if you want to know who to be wary of when you're driving down the street, the biggest contributers seemed to be males between 16 and 20, and drunk drivers, (and that probably has a lot of overlap). If you see someone driving drunk, you should be afraid. But the numbers don't support that same reaction for when you see an SUV driving down the road.

#449 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 10:21 AM:

"Driving an SUV isn't like driving while intoxicated. But some folks here reacted to the idea of me even thinking of buying an SUV as if I were announcing on the list that I plan to chug a bottle of whiskey and then get on the freeway. The statistics do not support that reaction."

when I stated that I would like a fuel-injected hovercraft people acted like I intended to drive it on a crazy mix of LSD and Ibogaine.

when all along I intended to drive it on the highway.

#450 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 10:32 AM:

I just want a hybrid the size of a Mini Cooper, for tootling around town the few times walking is inconvenient, and the occasional out-of-town trip. It should get 100 miles to the gallon.

Is that so much to ask?

#451 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 10:57 AM:

Totally anecdotal, but illustrative of why Hummer drivers get the a-hole rep. This is a tale of a Hummer tearing up the urban environment.

A few winters ago in upstate NY, we had gotten a two foot snowfall in a season which had already seen its share of snow. It was difficult to clean up after this, because the snow banks by the walks, driveways and roadsides were already piled high.

I was out front clearing off the porch and sidewalks, and noticed a line of cars penned up on my street; a city bus had got hung up on a chunk of ice in the intersection, and was blocking the traffic in all directions.

One of the penned up vehicles was a grey Hummer, and the driver figured he could cross over an uncleared parking lot to the next street over, and get around the impass. What he didn't realize, was that there was a short but sturdy rail fencing the opposite side of the lot, bumper high, completely covered by the new snow. He got across the lot okay, and got his front wheels over this rail, but the back wheels couldn't clear it.

I wish I could report he was stuck there until the snow melted. But the driver drove forward, then back, forward again (and so on), for about ten minutes, until he tore this railing down. And then drove off.

I don't know if there were any consequences for the driver from this. I never got a license plate number, but when the laundry (the business which owned that parking lot) opened the next day, I told one of the workers there what I had seen, how their railing got destroyed, and provided some contact info in case someone wanted to follow it up. I never did hear anymore about it.

Even without a license plate, it would have been possible to attach a name to the vehicle. I told the story to a friend, who said he knew who had a grey Hummer (there are not so many of those around here).

Maybe the guy got back to the business and made restitution (and this was why no one needed to get back to me). Maybe he paid for his sin with damage to his undercarriage. But what I saw appeared to demonstrate a couple of varieties of arrogant behavior.

#452 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 11:06 AM:

All I want are SUV and pickup truck drivers who know what a 'hold short' line is and realize that pedestrians have right-of-way when the "Walk" light is on!

I'm getting damn tired of trying to cross the street when some less enlightened driver decides he/she is going to make that right turn on red come hell or high water.

Someday we're going to lose a tourist to one of these idiots. (Either that or my reflexes will fail, and I'll end up decorating the grill of an SUV.)

Oh, and regarding SUVs backing over children? Last year the preschool down the street from my house lost a toddler to a soccer mom who wasn't paying attention to her rearview mirrors. I didn't see the accident, but arrived during the aftermath, just in time to see the EMS unit pull up. (Shudder)

There well may be polite, safety-concious SUV drivers out there. So far, I haven't met any in Columbus, Ohio.

#453 ::: JC ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 11:25 AM:

I just want a hybrid the size of a Mini Cooper, for tootling around town the few times walking is inconvenient, and the occasional out-of-town trip. It should get 100 miles to the gallon.

To a first approximation, isn't this a Honda Insight? (I think it's a little larger than the Mini Cooper. Of course, while it's AFAIK the most fuel efficient vehicle on the market, it's probably not 100 mpg. Honda is apparently replacing the Insight with another small hybrid so maybe its successor will get there.)

I don't know if there is a lot of demand at this design point though. When I was looking at this last year, it seemed to me that the upcoming models skewed towards using hybrid technology to improve performance at a given fuel efficiency rather than to raise the fuel efficiency under typical conditions. Of course, this was before car commercials on TV started to tout their fuel economy numbers so prominently.

(This may be a gross generalization, but Americans like their cars to perform as impressively as possible.)

#454 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 11:26 AM:

Lori, in New Jersey pedestrians have right-of-way even when they're flagrantly against the light. None of the regular signs and lights apply to them, and the walk lights don't have the force of law.

Cars are required to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk (where 'crosswalk' is very broadly defined; it needn't be marked in any way, for example). The only requirement the motor vehicle law gives pedestrians is not to jump out in front of a car so suddenly that it's impossible for the car to stop in time. Note: not inconvenient, but impossible.

That's why I gave the finger to the cigar-chomping asshole in a fatass SUV (pace, pace: he could have been in a Mini Cooper, OK?) who blared his horn at me for not getting far enough out of his way fast enough. Gosh, he had to slow down to the speed limit. How dare I cause such inconvenience?

IANAL and TAINLA.

#455 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 11:28 AM:

JC, in Hoboken the length of the vehicle is critical. There are parking spaces for a Mini Cooper that no other car could dream of occupying even if lowered in by helicopter.

#456 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 12:16 PM:

Ragnell: Oh, then what do you call it when you can't judge distance?

No flipping clue. Really poor vision? (I've always been extremely myopic. These days it's sufficiently bad that my ophthalmologist once remarked, "I think you're the most near-sighted patient I have.")

All I know is that when I took aptitude tests that included a section marked "spatial reasoning" or near offer, I was not attempting to do anything useful with a baseball. Instead, I was finding hidden lines and saying which of four drawings, if you rotated it ninety degrees, would be the example.

#457 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 01:18 PM:

Since we're all telling vehicle anecdotes, here's mine. My wife left her car parked on the street one night. (perfectly legal, in case anyone was wondering.) It started to snow. Some guy slammed into the back of her car and then took off. hit and run. I get home from work maybe a half hour later, and start picking up the wreckage. I find a sliver of a car sticker with part of an ID number on it. So I get a shovel and shovel up all the snow and anything that might be in it and put it into bags. Then I take it all into the basement, and let it sit overnight to let the snow melt. Next day I find five pieces of a sticker and jigsaw them together to form a one-inch by one-inch permit sticker with a city name and complete ID number on it.

The police didn't even bother to show up the day before or after. I call the detective, tell him what I've got and drop it off at the station. The police look up the number and visit the guy that day and find the car with the front end caved in. I can't remember the exact specifics, but I seem to remember the driver turned out to be some 50 year old guy driving a station wagon.

It might have been a Volvo, even, I can't quite remember.

#458 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 01:25 PM:

A year and a half ago there was a really noxious snowstorm Saturday night Arisia weekend. I drove home at 2 AM, with most of a foot of snow, if not more, covering I-93, driving very slowly. When I got to 3A from Winn Street, I was delighted when a line of six snowplows pulled out of the strip mall parking lot in front of me, I therefore has mostly-cleared road surface to drive on... then a jackass in an SUV got behind me, and decided that he wasn't going to accept the 15 mph crawl the line of traffic was doing, and cut in front of me though the deepening snow in the middle of the road (the road originally had one lane north, one south, and a center passing land) and when he saw the snowplows as he passed me, cut abruptly in front of me... then after a while he went back into the snow and zoomed out ahead of the plows...

#459 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 01:30 PM:

JC, in Hoboken the length of the vehicle is critical.
Xopher, hang on a year or so - DaimlerChrysler is finally going to be importing the euro SmartCar: it's under 100" long, so it can be parked perpendicular to the curb(!) - AND it gets upwards of 60 mpg.

It's on my list for my next commuter-car.

#460 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 01:30 PM:

then after a while he went back into the snow and zoomed out ahead of the plows...

Oh, well, I guess you're right then. All SUV drivers are assholes, and will probably end up killing someone. I'll let the DOT know their statistics must be wrong. because when national statistics meets anecdotal evidence, anecdotes win.

#461 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 01:50 PM:

ooh, the tiltrotor is finally flying again.

yahoo has a video clip

can't wait to see the coast guard and medflights start using them.

#462 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 02:14 PM:

Greg, Paula was just telling a vehicle anecdote, as you were. Or are you alleging that 50-year-old guys in station wagons are assholes?

Can we lighten up? I think we've established that you're not an asshole, that wanting a Hummer doesn't make you an asshole, and that you won't buy one for asshole reasons or become an asshole simply because you get one. Actually, those were my assumptions going in, which is why this whole argument has been pretty boring for me.

#463 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 03:00 PM:

Waitaminnit here: in New Jersey pedestrians have right-of-way even when they're flagrantly against the light. None of the regular signs and lights apply to them, and the walk lights don't have the force of law.

Cars are required to yield to pedestrians in the crosswalk (where 'crosswalk' is very broadly defined; it needn't be marked in any way, for example). The only requirement the motor vehicle law gives pedestrians is not to jump out in front of a car so suddenly that it's impossible for the car to stop in time. Note: not inconvenient, but impossible.

This is true? In New Jersey? Suddenly I no longer feel obliged to listen when the expatriate New Yorkers out here complain about California's pedestrian right-of-way law.

#464 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 03:05 PM:

xopher, my station wagon anecdote was to show that anecdotes don't make a good basis for making useful generalizations. I figured if we were going to discuss whether or not SUV's are really death machines, that bringing in the DOT statistics might make the conversation a little more reality based. But you are right that this thread has gone in circles enough to get rather tedious.

#465 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 03:12 PM:

Hey, let's talk about knitting some more!

My birthday's coming up. What knitting book should I ask for?

#466 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 03:18 PM:

Or we could talk about the yang version of knitting: machining. I was at B&N last night cause the wife had a women's gathering at the house, and I stumbled upon a magazine for hobby machinists. They had some article for building a small gas engine from stock. Granted, the cost of entry is a lot higher than getting into knitting. Well, I assume anyway. How much do those needles and yarn cost?

#467 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 03:28 PM:

Greg: If yarn = books, you can go all the way from PublishAmerica (nasty acrylic from the craft store) to a First Folio (handspun yarn, hand-gathered plant dyes). You get what you pay for, in other words, though there are exceptions...there's one company that has very high quality for bargain-basement prices. (That would be the equivalent of John M. Ford's oeuvre on Making Light.)

#468 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 03:47 PM:

Lexica, the law is one thing, and the prevailing culture is another. In New York the rule seems to be that you try not to hit the pedestrians, but only if you think your car could be damaged. And most New Jersey drivers seem to think that the bigger object has the right of way.

#469 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 04:05 PM:

TexAnne:

As a knewbie knitter, I seek enlightenment - what is the John M. Ford equivalent in yarn? Thanks!

#470 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 04:06 PM:

And most New Jersey drivers seem to think that the bigger object has the right of way.

This is a useful rule, if you're the smaller object. I try really hard not to argue with the laws of physics. The city bus is bigger than I am, and will squash me. (I don't drive an SUV, nor have I ever personally driven in New Jersey, just FTR).

#471 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 04:17 PM:

debcha: KnitPicks. So far I've tried their merino and alpaca laceweights and their alpaca/silk blends. I've ordered the 100% alpaca and the modal/cotton blend, too--haven't swatched yet, but they're lovely to pet.

There's also WiseNeedle, a completely independent review site. When I'm debating the wisdom of mail-ordering a new-to-me yarn, this is the first place I check.

#472 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 04:22 PM:

TexAnne, so, if I got a 3-in-1 machining tool (mill, drill, lathe) with CNC control for, like, ten grand, is that like alpaca yarn and gold needles? Or polyester and plastic? Oh to have land and space and a shop...

#474 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 04:35 PM:

Lexica, I'm having a bit of a hard time believing the veracity of that site. Actually, what's coming to mind is this guy I played some RPG games with in college who had the habit of walking into every room and declaring "I disbelieve!" repeatedly in an effort to disperse any illusions that may have been laying about.

#475 ::: debcha ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 04:37 PM:

TexAnne: Thanks! I look forward to experimentation.

#476 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 05:17 PM:

This site also has information (g/m, weight, suggested gauge, fiber content) for a variety of yarns. It is missing some, but is still useful.

#477 ::: Clark E Myers ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 05:30 PM:

Are motorists required to yield to buses or other transit vehicles?

Yes. When a transit vehicle has signaled and is reentering traffic flow, or is traveling in the same direction, motorists are required to yield the right of way.

http://ecmaseattle.org/transportation/sdotfaqs.htm

Washington State Traffic Code regulations are available online. The online Seattle Municipal Code contains a searchable database where you can look up traffic code subjects by keyword.

#478 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 05:43 PM:

joann, that's all very well, but where I live if you're on foot and don't assert yourself at some point you'll never get to cross the street at all.

You have to watch and be ready to jump, while looking like you don't see them.

#479 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 05:57 PM:

Clark E Meyers: Washington State Traffic Code regulations are available online. The online Seattle Municipal Code contains a searchable database where you can look up traffic code subjects by keyword.

The reality of the situation on the ground is that cars play chicken with buses pulling out into traffic. Personally, I tend to yield to buses - they're a lot bigger than me, my bike or even my much-loathed SUV.

Pedestrians in Seattle have a magic bubble of invulnerability which allows then to stroll (or madly dash) into traffic without displaying intent or assessing the traffic, resulting in much screeching of brakes. Fun. Especially since if you stand in the crosswalk for a moment looking as if you intend to cross, traffic will stop in an orderly fashion.

Stupid dangerous pedestrians! Let's ban em. ;-)

#480 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 06:20 PM:

Bob Oldendorf: hang on a year or so - DaimlerChrysler is finally going to be importing the euro SmartCar

Is this official? There's a dealer new my office importing them grey-market from Canada and fitting them to pass US standards (minor emission tweaks). There was a report on this on the local NPR station, featuring a friendly interview with a DCX press flack who immediately clammed up with a hostile "No Comment" when asked, if it was so difficult to get Smart Cars to meet US standards (apparently the DCX party line) why could a tiny local company satisfy the Feds so easily.

A fully dealer-supported smart car would be a good thing. I've had the chance to drive one - surprisingly fun! Not as much fun as a Mini, but still fun.

As I understand it, they have a waiting list in Canada, and their car market's not so different from ours.

#481 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 07:06 PM:

DaimlerChrysler is finally going to be importing the euro SmartCar:

yup, they already have them in canada, as larry said above. i see a goodly number here in vancouver, where people love their small dogs & small cars.

i myself have an echo hatchback (toyota), which i love dearly. they never had echo hatchbacks in the states, though i believe they do have the yaris, which is the updated version (it has an uglier face, but i wish i'd held out for it cause the echo eschewed the middle seat in the back).

the greatest thing, besides ease of parking, is that the seats fold down very easily & i can fit several canvases up to 3'x4' in back. er, coincidentally, that was about the size all my paintings ended up last year.

#482 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 07:49 PM:

I can walk to several bus routes from my apartment (5, 16, 46, 31, 26) three of them go downtown, the others go to the U-district, but not all the way to the Montlake Freeway Station, making them useless for commuting.

Amusingly, you have more available relevant bus lines than I do. They'll probably get you further than you realize.

For instance, the 46 bus runs to 43rd and 15th. From there it's a quick and easy walk down hill to 15th and Pacific, where you can pick up a 540, a 271, a 272, a 277, or a 556, all of which run to the Eastside, by way of both Montlake freeway station and Evergreen Point freeway station. If none of those run to the part of the Eastside you want, at Montlake or Evergreen Point you can pick up any of a round dozen or more other buses that run to other Eastside destinations, including the very frequent 545, which runs right by both MSoft main campus and Redwest.

Additionally, back at 15th & 43rd you could also catch a 43 or a 48 to Montlake, and during peak times, between the two of them there's a bus going every 7-10 minutes.

So, whatever else may be true, you certainly don't have to go downtown to get to the Eastside. You just have to know what you're doing.

I freely grant that the web interfaces of both Sound Transit and Metro Transit could be a lot more friendly and helpful than in fact they are, so you have to spend some sweat figuring out what you're doing. But once you do, the problem is seldom lack of coverage.

#483 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 08:04 PM:

There are quite a few of these in the National Park system, particularly in parks like Lava Beds and Death Valley. Often these are the only way to get to certain places. If you want to see the mysterious sliding boulders of the Racetrack Playa, don't try it in a standard sedan or you'll be wondering exactly how long that gallon of water will keep you alive.

Looks like you're confusing "only way to get there" with "only way to get there in a vehicle." Possibly also conflating 4WD with high clearance. It is certainly possible to visit both Death Valley and Lava Beds without benefit of 4WD, I'm here to tell you. And to get across roads that a sedan wouldn't handle in an ordinary Westfalia van.

#484 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 08:11 PM:

Small adendum from sad experience, though unlikely to be a problem on an Eastbound morning commute: do not, through inattention, confuse the 556 with the 586. You will only notice a route difference when the 586 turns *West* on 520, at which point your literal next stop is Tacoma.

#485 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 08:13 PM:

Greg: Gold needles? Pff! Far too heavy for comfort. No, give me good old bamboo! (Besides, if I spend all my money on needles, I'll have none left for the qiviut.

#486 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 10:06 PM:

Ulrika - Wow. Still quite complex. Choice of 2 buses (from different stops) to get to the U-District, seven buses to get to the Freeway Station (better have a cheat sheet), and another 2 to actually get to work. 28 combinations! But, alas, a three seat ride is absurd, and I'm not convinced it'll be faster than going downtown. Or less than 50% longer than driving the car or 200% longer than the motorcycle.

BTW, I'm not trying to be snarky - since you've given me the secret decoder ring that the KC Metro site (or their paper map) won't, I'll try a trip via the U-District and see how long it really takes. And going home will be easier since I can take the 44 as well and walk downhill from 46th street to my apartment. (I won't go that way in the AM because it's 1/2 mile straight uphill, and I don't like getting to work sweaty.)

I'd rather take the bus, but the trip needs to be less than an hour door-to-door to consider it on a regular basis.

Oh, and I'm not conflating 4WD and clearance, I'm thinking of places where you need both and a limited slip differential to boot.

#487 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 18, 2006, 11:32 PM:

My minivan qualifies to park in "compact car" spaces.

In VA, pedestrians also always have right of way, which is why when I go to my appt with the chief of Public Works in a couple weeks (about something else) I'm going to talk to him about the new bright yellow signs in Old Town that say "Pedestrians watch for turning vehicles."

Larry, the WashPost said that Smart cars will be in the US next year.

#488 ::: Bob Oldendorf ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 02:36 AM:

Larry Brennan: Is this official?

The news was in the WSJ at the end of June, here's Car &Driver:

DaimlerChrysler Confirms U.S. Smart Car Launch Thursday, June 29, 2006

DaimlerChrysler plans to introduce its Smart minicar in the U.S. in 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The automaker will partner with an American distributor ó United Auto Group Inc. ó to sell the Smart ForTwo model in about half a dozen areas of the country....The Smart is expected to get about 40 miles per gallon and sell for less than $15,000.... [it] will be sold in Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Seattle, Puerto Rico and parts of Florida.

#489 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 03:01 AM:

The Wool Arts Tour has been an annual event in New Hampshire for years, farmers sell fiber directly to the public. Want bags of first sheering fleece with the name of the aninal on the bag for $25 or so for an entire fleece?

#490 ::: John M. Ford ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 03:42 AM:

"How much for the nice gold fleece?"
"You better talk to the guy by the boat."
"The big strong guy?"
"Next to him."
"The strong guy looks cool."
"The strong guy has kind of a temper on him. Anyway, I wouldn't argue with a man who can get a sea-going vessel into this part of New Hampshire."

#491 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 06:27 AM:

Ulrika: ...do not, through inattention, confuse the 556 with the 586. You will only notice a route difference when the 586 turns *West* on 520, at which point your literal next stop is Tacoma.

Good heavens. The image of distraught passengers desperately pinging the "Stop Requested" dealie all the way to Tacoma puts me in mind of something about life, but I'm not entirely sure what. I'd love to be a fly in the brain pan of somebody who's made this error. What do you think about, all that time, while on your way to Tacoma when you don't want to be?

#492 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 08:51 AM:

What do you think about, all that time, while on your way to Tacoma when you don't want to be?

...How you wish you could have been a better person/lived a better life when you had the chance?

Never quite managed to do that one during my stint in Seattle. It puts the fear of Metro in me, reading it now. At the time, I lived in the U District and rarely poked my head out of it, which appears to have been one of the few approved uses of the system. Every once in a while I had to get to West Seattle; it wasn't until years later when I drove the same route that I understood exactly how much longer that trip took by bus than it had any right to.

#493 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 09:26 AM:

I've tried [KnitPicks's] merino and alpaca laceweights and their alpaca/silk blends. I've ordered the 100% alpaca and the modal/cotton blend, too--haven't swatched yet, but they're lovely to pet.

The Alpaca Cloud laceweight is fabulous, as much for its colors as for its feel; the Tide Pool looks rather boring on the monitor, but in real life it's glorious, with little threads of yellow and bright blue running through the greens. I am hoping the Iris, when it arrives, will have similar qualities.

I was also happy with the modal/cotton blend, though I'd be delighted if they came up with something 100% cotton at some point.

Their Essential sock yarn is good workmanlike stuff, though some of the darker colors (especially Burgundy) have a harsh hand I'm not fond of. And the Sock Memories stuff, though wonderfully soft, creates an odd barber-pole effect due to the color spacing. At least, it does for me on socks that are 60 and 64 stitches around.

#494 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 10:12 AM:

Wow. Still quite complex. Choice of 2 buses (from different stops) to get to the U-District, seven buses to get to the Freeway Station (better have a cheat sheet), and another 2 to actually get to work. 28 combinations! But, alas, a three seat ride is absurd

It really isn't that complex. Certainly no more so than ordering coffee at Starbucks. And it's really dumb to get wound up about how many busses are involved; all you really need to track are the useful *stops* -- the points at which you maximize your useful options. Or, you can just pick one option and get to the fracking bus on time, if having choices will distress you.

Sometimes I take a total of two buses, sometimes as many as four, depending on when I'm travelling and what shows up first. The thing is, it really isn't hard to get off and on a bus, and often taking the first one that comes makes my commute *quicker*. I can, in theory, take just one bus to work, but that involves a 20-minute walk to the Park&Ride and then a long and unnecessary meander through the suburban splendors of Kirkland, and adding 45-60 minutes to my commute time.

So taking three busses isn't absurd, for my money, it's insisting on keeping a commute down to some arbitrary number of busses.

My commute, btw, is not significantly longer most days than it would be if I drove in, most days. In fact, on mornings when 520 is a parking lot for non-HOVs, it's pretty clearly quicker.

#495 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 10:22 AM:

I'd love to be a fly in the brain pan of somebody who's made this error. What do you think about, all that time, while on your way to Tacoma when you don't want to be?

Well, mostly you think "Crap, I am an idiot," call your sweetie to let same know wassup, spend a little time hoping there might be a magic freeway stop appearing *before* Tacoma, and then go back to reading Kindred and enjoying the A/C. Arguably, reading Kindred at the bus stop and getting waaaaay too involved in the story for attending to ordinary tasks, would be why you didn't notice the difference in what bus you were getting on in the first place. So, on the whole, I blame Octavia Butler.

#496 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 10:41 AM:

Carrie--I think they do have a 100% cotton now, though I can't remember why I wasn't all excited about it. They've also got a new cotton/wool Cotton Fleece knockoff, but the colors didn't impress me.

#497 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 10:41 AM:

So, on the whole, I blame Octavia Butler.

On the whole, I'd rather be in Tacoma.

I'm sorry. I just couldn't resist this.

#498 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 10:54 AM:

Carrie--I think they do have a 100% cotton now, though I can't remember why I wasn't all excited about it.

Perhaps because it's a fluffy novelty yarn--that's why I wasn't excited, at least. :)

They've also got a new cotton/wool Cotton Fleece knockoff, but the colors didn't impress me.

That's my biggest problem with KnitPicks, to be honest. They have this habit of making staple yarns in boring colors, and dumb novelties in the colors I like. Why can't I have Main Line (the Cotton Fleece knockoff) in as many colors as Butterfly Kisses? Failing that, could I at least have it in Ruby and Emerald and Twilight rather than Red Velvet Cake and Mint^H^H^H^H Silver Sage and Wedgewood?

Then again, I am a sucker for saturated colors, and I know not everyone is.

#499 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 10:56 AM:

Paula: Do you spin your own wool as well? How long does it take you?

#500 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 11:03 AM:

You said it, Carrie. I wish Alpaca Cloud came in the same colors as their alpaca sportweight. I also wish they had their silk/alpaca blend in non-stripey colors...lace in those short-repeat dyejobs gives me a headache.

Paula--is the fleece au naturel or washed? No, don't tell me, I do _not_ need to get hooked on spinning. Really. Just don't mention it in my presence, that's the safest thing.

#501 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 11:18 AM:

I wish Alpaca Cloud came in the same colors as their alpaca sportweight.

I agree, though even in the sport there's not a really good red and I wouldn't give up Tide Pool for anything. :)

I also wish they had their silk/alpaca blend in non-stripey colors...lace in those short-repeat dyejobs gives me a headache.

Gosh, yes. It's such a luscious fiber, but trying to combine varigated colors with lace just causes the two to fight with each other for attention, to the detriment of both. Unless it's a dead simple lace, and where's the fun in that?

#502 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 11:26 AM:

trying to combine varigated colors with lace just causes the two to fight with each other for attention

"You Knit What??" ahd a good example of that several months ago. It was a shawl or stole in Noro "Silver Thaw", in its rainbow multi. The thing looked like a fish wrapped around the model (the comments were ... interesting). In a more subtle multi it might have been better; in a solid color it would have been great. (I say this as someone who's a sucker for ombres and brights. I didn't like that color choice.)

#503 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 11:36 AM:

Carrie, I didn't mean "instead of," I meant "in addition to." I did the FiberTrends shawl with the starfish and Old Shale on the bottom in Tide Pool, and I'm ridiculously proud of myself, too. Mmmm, drapey! Let us know how Iris is in person, please.

Ooh, I love "You Knit What??" It's right up there with the Manolo's wisdom.

And speaking of assertively-colored laceweight, has anybody tried Jaggerspun Zephyr? I keep having visions of an emerald-green circular shawl, and Zephyr comes in a couple of succulent greens.

#504 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 11:56 AM:

If you want to see the Noro thing, it's
here and scroll down past the sample pictures.

#505 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 12:09 PM:

Someday someone will explain to me what the big deal is about Noro yarns. I've never seen one in a color combo I've liked, and every time I pick up a skein I put it right back down again as the skin is scoured from my fingertips. It's nasty stuff. I've read a number of reviews that say the color progressions aren't regular and there's apt to be a lot of knots in a given skein, too. Where's the appeal?

#506 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 01:12 PM:

I'd love to be a fly in the brain pan of somebody who's made this error. What do you think about, all that time, while on your way to Tacoma when you don't want to be?

I've done this in Italy. Around Venice, the buses have paired routes, so that the only visible difference between a 6 and something that goes in the other direction is a slash: /6. I wasn't clear on this, wanted to go to the local mainland ipermercato, and ended up sitting for a good while at the end of the route, out in the country, observing people arriving at the church for a wedding. Up until the stopping point, when the driver kindly explained to me the error of my ways, I'd been thinking nothing at all, because I'd had no clue that I was headed to the Venetian equivalent of Mukilteo. On the way back, I was thinking furiously about my theory that buses *never* go where I want/think they should go.

#507 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 01:14 PM:

If, say, hypothetically speaking, my wife liked the look of wool sweaters, but I find them terribly itchy, would there be something that would look similar to the "formal" look of wool but not make me scratch obsessivly?

#508 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 01:31 PM:

If, say, hypothetically speaking, my wife liked the look of wool sweaters, but I find them terribly itchy, would there be something that would look similar to the "formal" look of wool but not make me scratch obsessivly?

Alpaca's good for that. It's not quite as elastic as wool, but it gives much the same look and is as warm or warmer.

Do you have an actually allergy to wool, or is it just that it's generally scratchy? If the latter, you might look into merino, which is very, very fine and subsequently soft. Also expensive, though, and won't help if you're really allergic to wool rather than having sensitive skin.

#509 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 01:37 PM:

Greg London:

Is is just wool (i.e. sheep)you're allergic to? If so, trying fiber from other animals -- rabbits, goats or alpacas -- *might* work. (Alpaca is wonderfully soft.)

Bye the bye, there are some spinners who will create yarn from your dog's hair. This works best with the inner coat hair from double-coated breeds: Japanese Chin, Shetland Sheepdogs, et alia.

#510 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 01:48 PM:

Do you have an actually allergy to wool, or is it just that it's generally scratchy?

Not sure. Is it possible to develop an allergy to wool? Like it was itchy before, but more recently my skin seems to get slightly redder than normal when exposed to wool. I don't really know because I can't stand wearing the stuff long enough to find out.

I'll have to keep an eye out for alpaca. Can you get an alpaca sweater in a store or is that a special mail order thing? Or would it be custom made? Don't know anything about it.

#511 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 01:54 PM:

There are galore of alpaca items on eBay; another possible alternative might be cashmere, which has become much more affordable over the past few years (Costco sometimes carries cashmere clothing).

#512 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 01:56 PM:

Oh yes, you can acquire allergies to almost anything at almost any age. Pity, that.

And, from your description, I'd say you're definitely allergic to wool.

As for the alpaca sweaters, try some of the pricier menswear stores. (Or, if you've got good Google-fu, maybe a search on alpaca sweaters?)

#513 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 02:02 PM:

Lori Coulson: Bye the bye, there are some spinners who will create yarn from your dog's hair.

I had an eccentric aunt who saved the undercoat from her (very sweet) Samoyed and had it spun into wool. I don't recall all of the details but I do remember the bags full of dog har that she kept until there was enough to do something with.

Re: Buses, I think I just have an aversion to the things. I love trains, and the rails lend a certain predictability to where the things will go, unlike buses which can veer off-route in flights of schedule-driven variable-route fancy and fail to stop where you're standing and waiting. Still, I'll use the things if they'll save me two of the following: time, money or hassle.

joann - I can't imagine a Venetian equivalent of Mukilteo. An equivalent of Edmonds, maybe, but not Mukilteo.

#514 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 02:05 PM:

Is it possible to develop an allergy to wool?

Opinions are divided. Some people say no, it's just psychosomatic reaction to wool's normal scratchiness. Some people say no, it's just the chemicals used to treat it; if you get plain wool from a handspinner you're OK. Some people say yes, but only to the lanolin so if it's well-washed you're OK.

I am inclined to believe that if it can get into the bloodstream someone somewhere can have a bad histamine reaction to it, but I'm no doctor.

Can you get an alpaca sweater in a store

Rarely, but it does happen.

or is that a special mail order thing? Or would it be custom made?

You might do better looking around on the web for already-made sweaters, and/or talking to knitters.
NB: a custom sweater isn't going to be cheap. Though the yarn's not any more expensive than wool if you know where to shop, the labor involved in an adult sweater is huge--ca. 300 hours for one I made, and he was not a large man.

Also it may be a good idea to feel-test some alpaca first to be sure it's not a purely mechanical irritation. I'd be delighted to send you some alpaca yarn if you'd like to give me your address. Heck, I'll even knit it into a swatch. :)

#515 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 02:07 PM:

Or, if you've got good Google-fu,

I think I have negative google-fu. I end up knowing less than I did before I started googling.

I'll check the high end stores...

#516 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 02:11 PM:

I just googled for "men's alpaca sweater". The first non-paid link was Alpaca Unlimited, and there are many others. :)

#517 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 02:59 PM:

I can't imagine a Venetian equivalent of Mukilteo. An equivalent of Edmonds, maybe, but not Mukilteo.

Someplace totally out in the boonies. (My recollection of Edmonds is that it doesn't quite qualify.) I picked Mukilteo because it's very far away from anywhere (except the ferry, which I admit is irrelevant here), and sort of at the end of the line.

Where I ended up was Spinea, or somewhere nearby, outside of a small town. I was on a country road, cows on one side, a small church on the other, farmland all round. It seemed to be at the limit of the area bus service, roughly 10 miles from Venice proper, and about 4 miles further out than I wanted to be.

#518 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 03:03 PM:

Some people say yes, but only to the lanolin so if it's well-washed you're OK.

But...if there's no lanolin, what's the point of using wool at all? The lanolin is the good part.

#519 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 03:19 PM:

But...if there's no lanolin, what's the point of using wool at all? The lanolin is the good part.

Not necessarily; lanolin is great if you want really waterproof but it's not really essential to wool's warmth or other good properties. Most wool isn't spun in the grease (i.e. with lanolin still on) especially these days.

#520 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 03:27 PM:

Greg, I have a friend who wanted to find out whether she was allergic to alpaca. She borrowed one of my skeins, rubbed it all over her hands, and the next morning they were red and itchy. If you've got a knitter or a yarn store near you, try doing the same.

#521 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 03:54 PM:

Is it possible to develop an allergy to wool?

I did. Wool scarves now make me break out in an itchy rash. On a previous thread here someone told me that was not an allergy, just contact dermatitis. Since it's itchy and annoying, I don't actually care what the precise condition is. I just avoid wool scarves. This has only been happening in the last few years.

Bye the bye, there are some spinners who will create yarn from your dog's hair. This works best with the inner coat hair from double-coated breeds: Japanese Chin, Shetland Sheepdogs, et alia.

Interesting. I wonder if they could make yarn from human hair. I shed hair in vast quantities and usually save it to make rats, but I could divert some to make yarn instead.

#522 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 04:08 PM:

TexAnne: I have a friend who wanted to find out whether she was allergic to alpaca. She borrowed one of my skeins, rubbed it all over her hands, and the next morning they were red and itchy.

Hmmm, kinda like testing for allergy to oysters by downing a dozen on the half-shell. :-)

I'd suggest rubbing the alpaca wool (after making sure it's 100% alpaca) on a small area of your forearm. This area should be more sensitive, but less critical to daily functioning. Plus, if you can remember which spot is which, you can try out a few other kinds of yarn to test for reactions.

Hey, Greg! What'd you do to your hands?

Greg (muttering): Danged Alpacas! Next one I see, I'm spitting right back at.

#523 ::: Michael Weholt ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 04:10 PM:

I don't know if any of this is still the case, but when I was growing up out there a representative sample of my Washington State Boonies Continuum would have looked something like:

Edmonds (Cute Suburb)
.
.
.
La Conner (Cute Boonies)
.
.
.
George (Boonies in the First Degree)

#524 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 05:04 PM:

Regarding mistaken turns/buses, instead of this: "So, on the whole, I blame Octavia Butler" I had Rolling Stone to blame for missing a United flight from LAX to HNL once. Fortunately this was in the days when you could walk across to another gate, convert your UAL ticket to a Delta ticket and catch a flight only 1/2 hour later.

However, the embarrassment quotient when calling the family expecting to pick you up was quite high.

#525 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 05:41 PM:

http://www.miragealpacas.com/MA.FarmShop.htm


"Visit the Farm Shop at Mirage Alpacas. We have many items for your fiber arts needs: yarn, spinning wheels, weaving products, finished garments, raw fiber, and others."

There is or use to at least one store in Boston that carries sweaters made from alpaca fiber, on Newbury Street, called Zrinka or Zrinka's I think.
===

The Wool Arts Tour has raw and processes fleece both available, also rovig, finished yarn, etc.

http://www.miragealpacas.com/MA.artstour.htm

Mostly I dabble in spinning..

#526 ::: Steff Z ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 06:35 PM:
"I wonder if they could make yarn from human hair."

They could, but it would be more like twine.

Cat or dog underfur makes nice yarn because it's springy and fine -- like merino sheep wool, or "wool" from all those cute camelids like alpacas. Or muskox underfur, the fabled and fab (and fabulously expensive) quiviut. People-hair, even from blonde youngsters, is just not fine enough. Which means, scratchy.

Also, good yarn-making fiber is springy. Cat or dog guard hair (is "overfur" a word?) is too straight to make deluxe yarn. Those pet-fur-spinning services recommend that you separate that out (in so far as that is possible). If you've got a mammalian pet with underfur, take a look. My Maine Coon cat's underfur looks like someone used the world's tiniest crimping iron on him. Sheep wool, alpaca, and all the other fur used in yarn does the same thing. Yarn from crimpier fur gives more, in the stretches-and-springs-back sense.

People in the biz even measure fiber thickness and "crimp" because finer, springier wool (even from the same species, and even from the same individual) costs more; it costs more because it's softer and stretchier; softer and stretchier make yarn that makes better fabric, and is certainly nicer to knit with.

People-yarn would probably be nice & strong. On the other hand, there are far less labor-intensive ways to make twine.


PS to Larry and Ulrika -- my (whiny little) problem with Metro transit right now is how far I have to walk, uphill of course, now that they moved all the bus stops in my (apparently our) charming little neighborhood away from the (now bus-free) Fremont bridge. (I'll get over it.) I tend to bus like Ulrika, and go for stops where I can catch whichever comes next. But yeah, the online "trip planner" is far stupider than it ought to be, for tech-saturated Seattle.

#527 ::: Ulrika O'Brien ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 07:02 PM:

my (whiny little) problem with Metro transit right now is how far I have to walk, uphill of course, now that they moved all the bus stops in my (apparently our) charming little neighborhood away from the (now bus-free) Fremont bridge. (I'll get over it.) I tend to bus like Ulrika, and go for stops where I can catch whichever comes next. But yeah, the online "trip planner" is far stupider than it ought to be, for tech-saturated Seattle.

Yeah, the stupidness of the transit web resources in this of all towns is disheartening. In terms of getting useful information, I actually used to do better in LA county, where you got route planning help by calling a county number and talking to a live human. The Metro and ST maps could be a lot better detailed for that matter.

Is the Fremont bridge permanently bus free now, or is that a temporary measure while they rip it down and rebuild it?

#528 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 07:13 PM:

Ulrika - The Fremont Bridge will (presumably) get the buses back once they finish rebuilding the approaches sometime in (I think) early '07.

Stef Z - We are apparently very close neighbors, since I now have the buses that used to be on N 36th St cruise right past my apartment.

#529 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 07:49 PM:

Ladies and gentlement, proving once again the fundamental interconnectedness of all things, may I present knitting while making light.

#530 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 10:10 PM:

TexAnne,

I saw those, and want a pair, but I want bamboo. Oh well, I can knit garter and stockingette in the dark, so as long as I only knit scarves or afgans, I should be ok.

#531 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 10:47 PM:

I lived in Edmonds from 1963-67. It wasn't bad, I could catch a bus to Seattle.

The Fremont Bridge isn't working? I used to walk across there from SPC every week or so.

#532 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 10:56 PM:

Marilee - The Fremont Bridge works fine and remains among the most frequently opened drawbridges in the world. It's the approaches that are being replaced, lest they fall down in the next big shake.

Edmonds (IMHO) is kinda cute. I substitued it for Mukilteo because I can't imagine anything close to Venice not being somehow appealing.

#533 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 19, 2006, 11:05 PM:

Those batteries must be a really odd size, if they'll fit in a #6 needle. (Patternworks could use someone to check their grammar, though.) If they could do that with circulars, would it be just the ends, or would the cable section act as a light pipe?

#534 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2006, 02:03 AM:

"I wonder if they could make yarn from human hair."

They could, but it would be more like twine.

I twisted five strands of my hair, doubled up to ten*, to use for a bookbinding project that also includes machine-spun silk, hemp, artificial fibres, and handspun silk. Twine is a good term for spun human hair.

By the way, does anyone here use a drop spindle, or are all the spinners wheel spinners? I've a friend in Canada who spins (she did the silk for the book), and has promised me a drop spindle. I don't think it's coming, so I think I'll be ebaying one to give it a go. What should I look for to learn on? My final goal is to work with a lace weight spindle, because I want to spin thread for making headbands on books.

* I have very long hair

#535 ::: oliviacw ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2006, 08:00 AM:

I suspect those light-up knitting needles have a bump on the end for the batteries. The battery replacement kit says they are G3-A types, which are apparently 7.9 mm in diameter and 3.6 mm high. That's substantially bigger than a #6 needle is in diameter, I think.

#536 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2006, 08:58 AM:

abi: I'm dashing off to class or I'd Google it for you, but ISTR that there's a site with directions for making your own drop spindle with a dowel and a CD. (At last, a use for those stupid AOL coasters.)

Re light-up circs--that would be so cool, but given the battery size, they probably wouldn't come smaller than a #13 or so. There's also the small matter of the batteries being in between the lightsource and the cable.

#537 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2006, 09:27 AM:

abi: I was wandering about last night looking for information on spinning and found this, which teaches you how to make a drop spindle from some dowel and a wooden toy wheel.

Now, of course, I'm trying to talk myself out of trying my hand at spinning. Even buying a whole beginner kit isn't that expensive.

#538 ::: Nancy C ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2006, 10:05 AM:

abi,
General info on spinning
here
Particulars on a CD spindle here (Warning: PDF)

A good book on handspinning is Priscilla Gibson-Roberts' High Whorling. It is reprinted/rereleased/touched up as Spinning in the Old Way.

#539 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2006, 11:07 AM:

Edmonds (IMHO) is kinda cute. I substitued it for Mukilteo because I can't imagine anything close to Venice not being somehow appealing.

Twenty-odd years ago, we found Mukilteo appealing; some pair of pleasantly misguided souls had opened a nice little cafe down next the wharf, and we had a fine meal there watching the sunset over the Olympic peninsula. Then we visited the lighthouse park thingy, and agreed we'd had a grand time. I gather it's changed in the interim?

#540 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2006, 11:14 AM:

It occurs to me that if one were to use those knitting needles for chopsticks, one would be eating light.

#541 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2006, 11:52 AM:

Texanne: I hadn't thought about that. The weight of the batteries would then help balance the food?
(Not that I'm likely to be getting any of these needles soon. I think I have enough in those sizes already.)

#542 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2006, 02:51 PM:

TexAnne, Nancy & Ceri,

Thank you for the links and encouragement. I've just gone through some of the sites, and they look immensely helpful.

Of course, I have no time whatsoever for this. My bookbinding site has been untouched for over a year, my mother is expecting a finished purple notebook in a fortnight, I brought work home again for the weekend, and I haven't slept more than five hours a night for over a week.

Still, I have tomorrow to myself, and there's a spinning place right nearby...

#543 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2006, 08:11 PM:

I can't imagine that the dowel-and-CD spindle would be heavy enough to learn on, but it might be nice for lace-weight once you get there. I made a teeny-tiny spindle once out of a dowel, a wooden wheel, and a hook, and it does thin thread nicely. I made it to spin cotton balls into cotton thread as a stress-management technique. It sat on my desk at work and invited comment.

For learning, I'd definitely recommend something heavy enough to spin in one direction for a while without bumping into the twist and rebounding. The yarn store here in Boulder teaches drop-spindle spinning on Louet spindles.

(And as a very amateur bookbinder myself, I thought your hair-twine idea was super-cool. I may have to try that sometime.)

#544 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: July 20, 2006, 08:21 PM:

abi: Of course, I have no time whatsoever for this.

I actually e-mailed a friend last night saying something like: "I'm looking at spinning sites and it looks fun and I want to try it. I don't have time for this. Please help me."

And she e-mailed back with "If I have held myself back from getting a drop spindle and learning how to spin for three years now, you too can be strong."

And now it's much, much worse, because I know somebody who would learn with me.

(That noise you hear in the background is my quilts screaming "Nooo! Now we'll never be finished!")

#545 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 03:09 AM:

Nicole,

I had my doubts that a CD spindle would be a good idea to start with, if one can afford to buy one. And since I am obscenely rich (in that I can afford food, clothing, housing, books, travel and hobbies while doing a job I enjoy), I can. When I know what is and is not important in spinning, I can figure out how to make my own.

Although I found the hair twine was strong enough for structural use, I wouldn't find it appealing for, say, an entire Coptic binding. It really is coarse stuff. It may vary by hair type, and better spinning techniques might help as well. I don't know its archival properties, but I suspect it's durable, and I don't know of any insects that eat human hair (this is why wool is never used in archival binding - moths).

I do informal electronic mentoring on bookbinding, by the way, if you're ever binding anything and have questions...

Ceri,

Your quilts and my books could form a chorus.

My better half saw me holding a sheaf of PDF printouts on spinning and said, "You haven't been doing enough binding lately. You're getting restless."

He's right. I'm playing with this partly because I haven't done any binding to speak of since May, and my crafty side is developing a wandering eye. Not even making two pairs of linen wrap trousers has settled it down.

#546 ::: Carrie S. ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 10:09 AM:

I got my laceweight yarn in the mail yesterday. It's gorgeous--not as dramatic as the Tide Pool was, but with all sorts of lovely little colors popping out when examined closely. (This is KnitPicks Alpaca Cloud in Iris.)

Of course, this means I'm working on a shawl rather than finishing the t-shirt for Liam, but he's just going to have to wait. Alpaca is so much softer than that nasty bamboo stuff he wanted...

#547 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 10:23 AM:

abi,

Yeah. I keep looking at my quilts and sighing -- I should work on them but with all the heat recently I'm just not in the mood (I'm talking doing piecing, not actual quilting. Not for much money could you make me sit at a frame in the summer). I probably wouldn't be in the mood to spin either, which is as good a reason as any not to rush right out and get a beginner spinning kit. I can wait until the fall, anyway, at which point it won't be this shiny new thing that OhmygodIhavetodothisrightnow.

Nicole,

Thanks for the heads-up on the CD-spindle. Do you have any recommendations about beginner spindles as to approximate weight and top vs. bottom whorl? If I start (in the fall, or later) I want to make it as easy for myself as possible.

#548 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 10:28 AM:

(That noise you hear in the background is my quilts screaming "Nooo! Now we'll never be finished!")

I'm feeling an odd sense of relief right now knowing I'm not the only one who does this. Just substitute "projects" for "quilts" and we're on the same page.

#549 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 10:36 AM:

Greg, do you mean that guys also have 'whoever dies with the most projects, wins'?

#550 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 10:43 AM:

"Whoever dies with the most yarn, wins."

"She's dead? Can I have her stash?"

Several needleworkers I know have a codicil in their will naming a needlework executrix/tor. That way the stash, WIPs, what-have-you, stay out of garage sales.

#551 ::: Ceri ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 11:00 AM:

Greg -- oh, it's not just the quilts. My saxophones are lonely too, among others. Too. Many. Projects.

TexAnne -- I have a very sneaky suspicion I might be the intended recipient of my grandmother's attic full o' fabric. She's already given me all of her quilting books and magazines. I'm just not sure whether she gave them with her blessing or her curse.

#552 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 11:33 AM:

When my mother died, I asked for the cross-stitch stuff (and also got the bobbin-lace stuff). I left the knitting books to my sister-in-law and my niece, since I already had most of them (and the few others, I can get). I did get a couple of knitting projects, but I don't have any idea what I'll do with the partially-knitted sweater (no visible instructions, and I doubt I'll get any visitations).

#553 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 11:41 AM:

Well, it's most of the way through my day alone, and I have resisted the temptation to call the local spinning place and throw my credit card on their mercy.

Instead, I've finished the sewing on the multi-fibre book, made a bunch of miniature Japanese-style books for geocache logs in film canisters, and am about to go back to working on my mother's book. I'll get a step or two ahead on two or three more projects before the zoo comes back from a granny visit to Aberdeen.

Just half an hour more to hold out...

#554 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 12:35 PM:

I was recently reminded by some long thin fibers of the need to cut ginger root across the grain, especially if you're planning to use any kind of food processor on it. What a pain that was. (The end result - ginger buttercreams in bittersweet chocolate - was well worth it.)

But it made me think. Most of a ginger root is fibers. If I collected them, and if I make a HUUGE quantity of those ginger buttercreams (yum!), could they be spun into yarn, and knitted into a really odd-looking sweater?

Ahhhh, it'd smell funny in the rain. Never mind.

#555 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 01:06 PM:

I've often considered trying to spin artichoke fibres, after an incident involving the garbage disposal in my parents' house. It would smell less like ethnic cooking than ginger.

As a bookbinder, I tend to avoid food-smelling materials. They're tasty for insects and vermin, and they make the rest of the library smelly.

#556 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 01:08 PM:

That noise you hear in the background is my guitars (I have three) gently weeping "Now we'll never be played!"

#557 ::: Kate Salter Jackson ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 01:29 PM:

As for knitting books - thre are some nice new ones out - Wendy Knits is by Wendy Johnson who has a blog. (Wendyknits.net) Not everyone's cup of tea, but might be what you want. I also liked Knit one Felt too.

As for stash and unfinished projects - I have 10+ trash bags of yarn in the basement. I have to destash. I used to work in Classic Elite's Millstore for 14 years - my stash is quite evil.

Greg - Alpaca can be found in menswear quite readily - check out some of the higher end stores. I can also bring a skein to VP 10 if you want to see if you are allergic to it.

Knit Picks Yarn is okay - i had some problems with breakage with the worsted weight wool. I admit to being a fiber snob. I'd love to have my own spinning wheel. I can't spin with a drop spindle yet. Add in the cross stitch/needlepoint/beading/stamping projects and I will never finish all I have, even if I start RIGHT now and never stop.

email if you want the destashing list link - Teresa can attest to the quality of my stash.

#558 ::: Greg London ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 01:44 PM:

Thanks for the offer, Kate. I think, well, I hope anyway, that by that time I will have found some alpaca somewhere locally. October can get a bit chilly. If not, I'll keep your offer in mind.

#559 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: July 21, 2006, 03:46 PM:

Since knitting is on-topic for this thread, the knit-1, purl-2 fiber-based tagging crew, Knitta has recently been sighted in Seattle.

#560 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: July 22, 2006, 02:59 AM:

Ginger buttercream in bittersweet chocolate. Ooooh.

(I do have some dried champagne grapes dipped in Scharffen Berger. Maybe I should eat a couple.)

#561 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 02:05 AM:

OK, I lost it last night.

I've had a shouler injury for a day or two, and am on medication that includes coedine. Not wanting to go through life known as Nine-Fingers, I've had to lay off the sharp-kinives aspects of bookbinding.

So last night I got an old chopstick, some wire, some leather, and a CD and made myself a 15g drop spindle. I've been playing around with cotton wool. I'm having trouble drafting, but my third skein is markedly better than my first.

This is unorthodox, bad, and exactly how I started bookbinding. Oh, dear.

#562 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 07:38 PM:

abi, when I can't use knives, it's usually kitchen knives and I compensate with alternate bites of cheese and bread.

I learned to make and use a drop spindle in a meadow and forest. It was a Smithsonian class and we made our spindles and then spun fibers we found in the wild.

#563 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 27, 2006, 08:19 PM:

Marilee,
Bookbinding knives are made to cut through leather. Mere human skin is a bagatelle. I've reshaped my left thumb a number of times since starting to bind.

I've been playing with the home made drop spindle for a day or so now. I decided it was too light at 15g - just not spinning enough. I added another mini-CD to bring it up to 23g, at which point it was more prone to keep spinning.

I've also ordered some fibres online - some silk, some bamboo, some merino. (I also ordered an orthodox drop spindle, somewhat heavier, so I can do yarn if I wish.) While waiting for them to arrive, I got some "craft wool" from a hobby shop, and I've been spinning it.

It's great! It draws better than cotton wool, and I'm actually getting the sort of thread that, were it silk, I'd acually be using on books! (I can't use wool on books - or not archival ones, anyway.)

This is fun.

#564 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: July 28, 2006, 08:03 PM:

You're hooked! The last time I rearranged part of my hands, the doctor banned me from using power and heat tools. She hasn't said anything about knives and saws.

#565 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: July 29, 2006, 04:13 PM:

I'm hooked, but since I don't knit, I haven't got the "pull" economy, just the "push" of doing it. I'm doing a lot of thread, but I think I'm more likely to get lots of colours of silk and spin from time to time than to give up binding for spinning. (No, I am not taking up knitting.)

I might try some embroidery with it.

A ban on heat tools would cut out half of bookbinding (I have spent a week with the letter L burned into one fingertip from gold tooling). My solution thus far has not been to go to the doctor, particularly since I usually injure myself when I'm in the midst of a time-pressured bind and don't want to stop for anything. My main concern has been to learn how to remove blood from paper and leather.

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