Monthly Archives: September 2014

Curiosity Recap: Monthly Post Review (Sept 28, 2014)

It’s that time again!

recapsmallAre blue eyes and red hair going extinct? Learn a little bit about genetics
The cure for boredom… I like where this is going – A quote graphic that is right at home here
The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge: why it really matters – Things get real for a moment, because reality is often better than sensationalism
Watsi: crowdfunding health – A website founded so that you can make donation towards life-saving surgeries, kind of like Kiva for life instead of small businesses
Motion vs Action aka Planning vs Progress on Goals – An article that is a friendly reminder to not fool yourself, planning is good and important, but without action, plans are just plans
How well would your bike lock hold up to a grinder? An article that gives some unfortunate truth about bike safety
Haircuts for the homeless – One man gives back to his community in an admirable way
“Hey, I’m just being honest. That’s how I am!” – If you’ve ever said this to someone, you might want to read this comic
Life without a cell phone – One man goes traveling for 18 months during which he does not have or use a cell phone. These are his insights
Sadness and the Bottle Analogy – Something written by a friend of mine in light of Robin Williams and Depression, that I thought was so well said I had to feature it
One big hockey puck molecule – Science can be very surprising sometimes
In Istanbul you can help feed stray animals with plastic bottles – An ingenius vending machine type device in Istanbul that encourages recycling, and compassion
Creative system for letting your neighbours know what they can borrow – A simple sticker based project from Switzerland that might be helpful to you
Two cool videos of animals being animals – One of the world (sort of) through a dog’s eyes, the other of an animal you don’t see every day
New restaurant staffed exclusively by deaf waiters – Go check out “Signs”, and learn some sign language
Password Myths: your password might not be as secure as you think – Your average 6-8 character password will likely take just a few minutes to crack. Want one that will take over a million years?
Activism is the rent I pay for living on this planet – Another quote graphic that resonated so I featured it
More insight for introverts: stimulation – There’s (still) a lot of confusion out there about introverts, here’s a bit more info to help you understand
Repair cafe: community based skills lending – Need something fixed? Want to learn how to do it yourself? This is the place to go (once a month)
Science basics quiz – Wonder how much you remember about science from what you studied in school? Find out
Washoe the Chimp gives us more to think about as humans – Really amazing story of animal intelligence, empathy, and sign language
Insightful quote of the day – Attempting to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth
A science and safety lessons re: microwaves – Why can’t you put metal in a microwave? find out
Heterochromia Iridum aka multicoloured eyes – Ever seen an animal (or person) with two different coloured eyes? Come learn what that’s all about
Want to get more cuddles? There’s an app for that – New app lets you find platonic cuddle partners in your area, since we literally need physical touch as beings and often don’t get it outside of relationships
Political perspective: Liberals and Conservatives really ARE different (but maybe not how you thought) – It comes down to principles and policy
Can’t get no (lasting) satisfaction? Here’s why – Psychology today explains why we always need a goal to work towards
What’s the deal with blood types? If you’ve ever wondered, here’s the answer
Hold your new shiny social network horses – Before you jump on the Ello hype train, this is worth reading
The next evolution of feminism? Taking aim at the Kyriarchy – Oppression is complicated, there are a lot of interlinked, moving parts

Last recap: Aug 17th, 2014

The next evolution of Feminism? Taking aim at the Kyriarchy

Today a friend of mine made the comment (one that I would have very much agreed with him on a year ago) that he doesn’t like feminists/the term “feminism”, because it implies that one side is more important, or should be better off than the other, it doesn’t speak to equality. I wasn’t in a position to easily correct him, but I have since told him I don’t agree.

Last year I felt the same way, mostly because anti-feminists have been so successful at bastardizing and vilifying the term and making feminists out to be raging, hairy, fat, man-hating people. Perhaps it’s a bit similar to how in America, the media has made efforts to vilify the term “liberal”, as out-of-touch hippies who want to give everyone participation medals and welfare for nothing. But I’ve realized that feminism is very important, and it is important to wear the label proudly and defend it whenever and however necessary against these malicious naysayers.

Feminism is definitely misunderstood, something it took me a while to figure out and understand what is really going on. I won’t get into it here (I already dealt with this on my podcast), but I did come across an article a couple of days ago that I do want to highlight and share because I think it will better help make the distinction between what feminism is fighting for and striving to accomplish, vs what the naysayers think/claim it is.

From Everyday Feminism, “Kyriarchy 101: We’re Not Just Fighting the Patriarchy Anymore”:

If you’re familiar with feminism, you’ll have heard of the term patriarchy – the social order that privileges men and oppresses women. It’s a useful term as it gives a name to the institutionalisation of male privilege.

But feminism has moved on from being purely concerned with male privilege.

Intersectional feminism tells us that oppression comes in many different forms. Someone is not simply oppressed or privileged: we can be simultaneously privileged and oppressed by different aspects of our identities.

For example, somebody can be privileged by the fact that they are cisgender, thin, and white, while being oppressed by the fact that they are queer, disabled, and female.

Because of this, we need a word to describe the complex social order that keeps these intersecting oppressions in place.

Kyriarchy is an excellent word for this concept – it is more in line with intersectional feminism, and is not as problematic as the word patriarchy can be.

Kyriarchy 101

The term kyriarchy was coined by Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza in her 2001 book, Wisdom Ways: Introducing Feminist Biblical Interpretation. In the glossary, she defines kyriarchy as:

a neologism…derived from the Greek words for “lord” or “master” (kyrios) and “to rule or dominate” (archein) which seeks to redefine the analytic category of patriarchy in terms of multiplicative intersecting structures of domination… Kyriarchy is best theorized as a complex pyramidal system of intersecting multiplicative social structures of superordination and subordination, of ruling and oppression.

In other words, the kyriarchy is the social system that keeps all intersecting oppressions in place.

Many anti-feminists argue (and complain) that feminism is wrong because it only fights to help women and ignores other problems in society, but they make this claim based on incomplete information and improper understanding. Feminism started as a women’s movement, but once they started fighting social injustices that affected them, surprise surprise, they noticed other social injustices that affected others as well, and since they were already fighting the system, they just expanded that fight. (Note, this is not to say I am a scholar on feminism, but I know a few people who pretty much study this stuff constantly because they live it, often being part of several oppressed groups simultaneously, and I listen to what they have to say, and read the articles they share)

An example:

To extend this example, let’s imagine two people: one is a white, cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied woman. Another is a black, transgender, pansexual, disabled man. According to the theory of patriarchy, the woman would be oppressed and the man would be privileged.

Sure – the woman will experience oppression as a woman, and the man might experience forms of male privilege. But it’s a whole lot more complicated than that.

In this situation, the man would not have control (or economic, social, and political privilege) over the woman. To merely call the man dominant and the woman oppressed without taking any other factors into account would be to erase all the other aspects of their identities.

This is not to say that male privilege can be totally erased because of certain factors. Rather, it means that the way someone experiences male privilege is dynamic and dependent on other identities.

These complexities are something I wasn’t able to see right away, it has taken years of reading, listening, pondering, starting to have the blinders come off slowly but surely to start actually being able to see and recognize this for myself. I had a pretty big personal epiphany about a year ago, that I wrote about because it hit me so hard when it slammed into my awareness. It’s complicated, and that’s why a lot of people have a hard time ‘getting it’.

Oppression is not simply about discrimination. It is about being institutionally and systemically repressed.

Gender-based oppression, for example, is not just about someone making a joke about women belonging only in the kitchen. It’s about women being denied equal access to education, the job market, equal pay, reproductive health services, and legislative equality for centuries.

It’s about women being presented as weak, overemotional, lacking sexual desire, irrational, and superficial by institutions such as the media, education system, politicians, legislation, and commercial groups.

It’s about socializing people to believe one gender is superior while the others are inferior. It’s about the social, political, and economic repression of women.

Oppression is not about isolated incidents. It’s about a number of incidents, habits, culture, and tradition enforcing the domination of one group over another.

Effective anti-oppression movements will view oppression as systemic. These movements take into account the fact that oppression can only be eradicated through radical, holistic change.

We therefore need a name for the institutionalisation of oppression. Feminists often call the institutionalisation of sexism “the patriarchy.”

Mainstream feminism has been traditionally concerned with gender inequality. Intersectional feminism, however, is concerned with all types of inequality. The term kyriarchy is useful as it is therefore more in line with intersectional feminism.

The tricky thing here is that some people will say (and honestly believe) that this isn’t true, because they don’t think anyone is inferior just because they’ve been told so, but it’s not nearly that obvious. There are a lot of subconscious biases that form, and are reinforced over the years, to the point that for many of us (yes, I include myself since I am still working on weeding these biases out), we act on them even if we don’t actually want to, or know we’re doing it. I know I’m particular bad with this when it comes to people who are overweight. The media would have me believe that anyone who is “fat” is lazy, unhealthy, and not a valuable human being. That’s the message I’ve been given my whole life (and it doesn’t help that I’ve had family members who reinforce the validity of that idea). The right thing to do is assess each and every person on an individual basis, but that’s very time consuming and energy intensive, so a lot of us don’t bother. And since many of us have been socially programmed in very similar ways (if we grew up in the same culture), if we get lazy, and fat shame, it’s very unlikely that someone is going to speak up and tell us we’re being inconsiderate.

Anyway, getting back to the article, what does this new term help with?

1. It acknowledges that gender-based oppression is not the only type of oppression that exists.

2. It acknowledges that one can both benefit from and be oppressed by the system.

3. It could suggest why so many oppressed people are complicit in their own oppression.

4. It does not erase people who do not identify as men or women.

5. It acknowledges that oppressions are interlinked.

I remember being dumbfounded earlier this year, when just before the annual Toronto Pride Parade, news broke that festival organizers were giving transgender groups grief and wanted them to have their own separate celebration. Yes, that’s right, the gay community felt it was separate from, and arguably more important than the trans community. Both groups are oppressed, and one is acting to further oppress the others. Similarly, as the fight for gay marriage and rights has raged on in the US, I’ve seen people remark at how the black community hasn’t come more to their aid, since the black community knows what it’s like to be held back by the system.

I happen to be “lucky” (if you want to call it that) that I was born a white male, thin (easy to get and stay “in shape”, though I have been thin-shamed many times), able-bodied, though not completely cisgender (at least not anymore), so I benefit from a lot of privilege. But I’ve always had a social justice spark in me, it has only grown much stronger as I’ve learned about feminism and the various isms of oppression (sexism, ableism, classism, ageism, etc). It has been my goal to learn and to know better, and to try to contribute as minimally as possible to existing systemic oppressions. It’s definitely not easy, especially when a lot of my peers (other white, thin, hetero, cis, middle-class, able-bodied people) haven’t learned to see or understand this stuff, and thus when I raise issue, they react to me as if I’m either “being too sensitive” or worse, “out of my mind”. I’ve had people unfriend me on facebook (at least one anyway) for posting too much about this stuff, and I’ve toned it down, but I can’t be silent. I’m just trying to find better ways to express these ideas and be less militant and radical. Really, it’s just about trying to be a better, more kind human being, and it’s bizarre that some people view efforts to do so, as going unnecessarily out of their way for something they don’t think matters. But it does.

I’ve still got a lot of work to do for myself, but the more I learn, the harder it gets to be complacent. The more I learn to see the ever subtle forms this oppression takes, the more it pains me to be in the minority of people even coming close to acting to stop it. That’s part of why I share these articles on here as well, because I want to pass on the wisdom that helps me know better, so maybe you can too.

One last quote from the article:

It also reminds us that since different oppressions exist, we can fight one form of oppression while perpetuating others.

So, I hope you consider this. Take aim at the Kyriarchy and fight to help everyone. We’re all in this together.

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‘The Fate of the Furious’ is a movie genre Action, was released in April 12, 2017. F. Gary Gray was directed this movie and starring by Vin Diesel. This movie tell story about When a mysterious woman seduces Dom into the world of crime and a betrayal of those closest to him, the crew face trials that will test them as never before.

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Vin Diesel, Neal H. Moritz, Michael Fottrell.

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‘The Boss Baby’ is a movie genre Animation, was released in March 23, 2017. Tom McGrath was directed this movie and starring by Alec Baldwin. This movie tell story about A story about how a new baby’s arrival impacts a family, told from the point of view of a delightfully unreliable narrator, a wildly imaginative 7 year old named Tim.

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Can’t get no (lasting) satisfaction? Here’s why

I wrote an article on medium not too long ago titled “The Real Root Cause Behind ‘I’m Bored'”, where I basically (spoiler alert) said that humans crave a goal or purpose to fulfill (this is not a new idea, I admit). Perhaps part of the reason why some people keep working even after they’ve won the lottery is because no one really wants to just sit around watching TV in their underwear all the time. It might seem pretty awesome at first, but I think eventually they would get bored and want something more meaningful.

Then there are people like me who are so obsessed with goals and creating meaning, that I try to do too many things at once and just get frustrated that I can’t clone myself or grow a second pair of arms, or never need sleep.

Well, Psychology Today has a good article titled “Why You May Never Be Truly Satisfied, and Why That’s Okay”, which also touches on this issue. With actual science to support it, rather than my attempt which was mostly just personal experience.

Have you ever set a goal, achieved it, became content, and then went looking for the next thing? It’s fascinating how quickly our lives adjust to reaching a goal: We get our dream job and, soon enough, start wondering when the next promotion will come. We move into a new house and then, a few years later, start dreaming of the next dream house. We quickly adjust our realities, constantly creating “new normals.” And then we want more.

That has been my experience lately. For me though, it’s more a constant question of “can I do this thing?”. Like, can I, as an individual, physically and/or mentally step up and get through it? And once I’ve answered that, I test the next thing. There are some things I don’t particularly care to know if I can do or not, but asking myself “what can I learn from this?” has done me very well since I started focusing on that question.

We all have different goals—different mountains to climb. One person’s climb may be about sobriety; another’s may be about diet; and someone else may be trying to find a passion. And we often think we’ve reached the top of the mountain, only to realize it was really just the base of another, larger one. And so we start out again. Generally, this works: If we had to reach the zenith all at once, we might be too intimidated to begin.

Popular inspirational speaker Iyanla Vanzant puts it another way, positing that there are curves in the road because if you were shown how long a stretch you actually have left, you’d never drive yourself there. These curves that only show a little bit of the road at a time so you can just focus on that piece. The lesson? Today, focus on the piece that’s in front of you. The better you manage that stretch, the better you’ll be set for the next leg, whatever it is.

I’m feeling this right now. I’ve figured out I have been pretty successful in doing a lot of incremental learning/goal tackling. Currently, I have several ambitious goals, they’re all larger, and I’m battling my brain because I want to do them all at the same time, but not all the little steps (feels too unproductive), so I’ve actually been procrastinating somewhat.

Those goals (in case you’re curious)
-finish learning how to program so I can make an app (this will take months of learning to code bit by bit, and I don’t really want to deal with that right now)
-re-learn website coding so I can built a website idea I have
-finish the curated book I’m working on (probably the most nebulous)
-finish developing the card game ideas I conceived recently (need to playtest)
-finish recording/producing an album I started 6 years ago (only a few things left to be recorded, then lots of editing/mixing which I am not in the mood to do)

The question, then, becomes how we balance being content—and grateful—where we are, while also being okay striving for something still greater. It’s not easy: Oprah Winfrey once said, “I got so focused on the difficulty of the climb that I lost sight of being grateful for simply having a mountain to climb.”

On the plus side, one of my other admittedly larger goals is happening – I’m currently learning ASL (American Sign Language), and unsurprisingly, I’m really benefitting from the formal classroom environment that I’m learning in. It’s incremental, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. I know I could just discipline myself and do these other things incrementally, and maybe that would work better if I didn’t have that many things I want to do (all right now, not one now, the rest later). Maybe it’s time for me to get an accountability coach. When I get in a groove, I’m really good at not procrastinating, but right now I honestly just can’t seem to bring myself to pick one thing to focus on (well, aside from ASL).

The reality is that our journey stretches as long as we live, and if we ever think we’ve made it to the end, we might be limiting ourselves. We just don’t realize it when we set our current goals. This is why so many of us never feel truly happy, or fully satisfied. We want to see today’s goal as a destination because that allows us to feel a sense of certainty, finality, and accomplishment when we reach it—as it should.

However, there is another piece that often gets lost, which is that we’re always in a state of change. It’s not about wanting more, but about being present for where we are, and the people we’ve become at every new stage of our journeys. It’s not specifically about the better job, home, or relationship—the truth is that wherever we are, there will always be something more to reach for.

One thing I can definitely say since I got on this persistent quest for learning, skill building, and personal growth, is that I have been exposed to some things I never expected, met some really cool people, gone to some cool events, and ultimately inspired and enriched my life quite a bit. In my “old life”, I never would have thought someone like me could have some of these experiences, all I had to do was try. I was afraid, I was unconfident, I didn’t think I deserved it in some cases. Now I just want to encourage others (which is why I started a bucket list group with some friends on facebook, so we could attempt to tackle some of these things together), and that has really helped me not feel so unlikely to accomplish some of my goals. I’m in that ASL class because of a friend of mine who I didn’t even know was interested in ASL. She’s my accountability buddy. And I’m loving it. I’ll be writing about it later, but I’m excited by the possibilities it creates, and the ability to interact and connect with people I couldn’t before.

I’ll leave you with one last quote, from Jon Bon Jovi: “Any time that you think you’ve hit the top of the mountain, the truth of the matter is you’ve just reached another mountain. And it’s there to climb all over again.”

Political perspective: Liberals and Conservatives really ARE different (but maybe not how you thought)

Most people don’t want to talk, or even think about politics. It’s too divisive, and rarely pleasant. Unfortunately, politics is a part of our lives whether we like it or not, and we’re better served to not stick our heads in the sand and hope everything just works out.

That said, I found an article recently that finally seems to bring some clarity to the age-old Liberal vs Conservative debate. I’ve been really into the idea of emotional intelligence lately – understanding someone else’s situation, point of view, why they feel the way they feel. In doing this, it’s easier to relate, empathize, and maybe even work together (compromise), rather than just saying “I don’t agree with you, you’re stupid, I’m going to make your life harder”.

From Vox.com comes “Why Democrats and Republicans don’t understand each other”, and I think it does a good job of explaining some key differences that we hear about, and we perceive ourselves, but they’re finally presented in a more “tangible” way.

First:

Democrats are more focused on making policy to appease their various interest groups and Republicans are more focused on proving their commitment to the small-government philosophy that unites their base.

As Speaker John Boehner put it when he was asked about the slow pace of lawmaking in his House, “we should not be judged on how many new laws we create. We ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal.”

As one example I can think of (though I’m sure there are better ones), I watched a documentary years ago about Ralph Nader called “An Unreasonable Man”. The title is derived from the quote “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to adapt the world to himself, thus all progress depends on the unreasonable man”. In this documentary, it chronicled how Nader initiated several organizations and committees to protect various groups – workers, consumers, families… and he was making quite a bit of headway, until the next Replublican president was elected and quickly squashed and stagnated his efforts.

This next bit speaks to a point that Chris Rock made in one of his stand up specials, about being liberal on some issues, and conservative on others:

On its face, this presents a puzzle: how can conservatism be the more popular ideology even as the Democrats are the more popular party?

Grossmann and Hopkins disagree. They see this not as a puzzle about American politics but as an explanation for why it works the way it does. They note that 73 percent of Republican voters say they’re conservative but only 42 percent of Democratic voters say they’re liberal. And they note that while voters tend to agree with Republicans on the philosophical questions in American politics (should government be smaller?) they tend to agree with Democrats on the policy questions in American politics (like should Social Security be smaller?).

The Republican Party, in other words, has a very good reason to base itself around philosophical conservatism, while the Democratic Party has a very good reason to base itself around policy deliverables.

This next part is pretty interesting, and gives you an idea of the broader, longer-term implications of this:

The chart above shows the results: Democrats consistently prefer politicians who compromise and Republicans consistently prefer politicians who stick to their principles.

What’s remarkable is that held true even when Republicans controlled the White House. “Though they voiced strong disapproval of Bush, Democrats still expressed a preference for compromise in government — a tendency that has carried over to the Obama era,” write Grossmann and Hopkins. “Republicans have been consistent in their elevation of principle over moderation, regardless of which party is in power.”

That is…extraordinary. Even when a Republican president was facing a Democratic Congress, Republicans did not choose the answer that would have helped their president get more done. And even when a Republican president was facing a Democratic Congress, Democrats did not choose the answer that would have stiffened their party’s spine against passing Bush’s bills. I would have bet money against surveys showing this kind of stability between Democratic and Republican administrations. This is a difference between the two parties that runs deep.

This is something I do tend to find frustrating about more pure conservatives, some might call it “stubbornness”, and it’s important to be able to tell the difference between stubbornness (refusing to budge no matter what) and sticking to principles because you don’t feel you’ve been giving satisfactory reasoning for a change.

“Democrats and liberals are more likely to focus on policymaking because any change that occurs is much more likely to be liberal than conservative. New policies usually expand the scope of government responsibility, funding, or regulation. There are occasional conservative policy successes as well, but they are less frequent and are usually accompanied by expansion of government responsibility in other areas.”

The cleanest way to shrink the size of government is to repeal laws and regulations. But it doesn’t happen very often. In the American political system, Grossmann says, “it’s hard to pass anything, but it’s particularly hard to repeal a law that already exists.” Systematic analyses show it’s rare for laws to be repealed wholesale. “That creates perpetual disappointment among the Republican base,” Grossmann continues. “They correctly perceive that their party does not succeed in enacting their professed ideology.”

But they’re a reminder that American politics is fundamentally rational. Republicans are uncompromising because compromise tends to expand the scope of government. Democrats are willing to make deep concessions because policy moves in a generally liberal direction. Republicans have a clearer message about government because their message about government is fundamentally popular. Democrats talk more about policy because what they have to say about policy is fundamentally popular.

I think that’s a good distinction, and I think if more people were aware of it, it could help grease the gears a bit better and perhaps lead to a little more getting done. I think it suggest that partisanship is at least partially misconceived. Yes some people are truly stubborn and unwavering for personal and/or selfish reasons, but I’m sure that’s actually a minority.

This next bit feels a bit like the whole “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” idea, but applied to politics:

The data also explains why Democratic and Republicans have so much trouble understanding each other. Democrats tend to project their preference for policymaking onto the Republican Party — and then respond with anger and confusion when Republicans don’t seem interested in making a deal. Republicans tend to assume the Democratic Party is more ideological than it is, and so see various policy initiatives as part of an ideological effort to remake America along more socialistic lines.

This is really why effective communication is so important. If you make assumptions that are wrong, you obviously won’t get the results you expect. As frustrating and broken as the 2 party system often seems, perhaps there is a healthy balance hidden in there.

I’ve been “liberal” and “socialist” for a long time, and used to be much more ideological than I am now. If I was given political power in my 20s, I probably would have made a bunch of laws which were well-meaning, but not fully or properly considered/researched. Now I feel like I would think longer and more carefully before setting a policy for something.

Want to get more cuddles? There’s an app for that

A few days ago, a friend of mine posted an article on facebook titled “Tinder for cuddling: This app will find you a random stranger to spoon”, which initially I thought was satire because it just seemed so unexpected. The article is about a new app called “Cuddlr”, and when I tried to google it, I actually couldn’t even see what looked like an official website, or press release, or anything. So things didn’t quite seem to add up.

But then I spotted an article on medium by one of the inventors of the app (Charlie Williams). His article, “It’s Touch, Not Sex”, is about the app, its inception, its purpose, and its goal.

What is Cuddlr? Put simply, it works like Tinder, but is meant to help you find willing, platonic cuddle partners. I’m sure a lot of you can think of problems with this idea, but hang on for a second and hear them out.

Cuddlr is all about the power of touch, though some folks are confusing “touch” with “sex”. Oddly enough, the hubbub shows exactly why the app and the discussion it is creating are necessary in the first place.

Coming this week [out now as far as I know], Cuddlr connects you with new people in your immediate area who are up for a cuddle. (It’s sort of like Tinder or Grindr, but for public cuddling instead of hookups.) Once you and the other party agree to cuddle, the app helps you find each other, and the rest is up to preference and communication. For each user, the app shows a tally of how many successful cuddles they have had already: the more someone has been vetted by other users, the more likely they are to be good at cuddling, communication, and respecting boundaries.

I like that he is immediately addressing issues of communication and respecting boundaries (ie consent). That tells me that his intents for the app are more on the positive side.

He also addresses another important distinction here:

While we seem wired to pursue both sex and closeness, we aren’t necessarily wired to expect them to come packaged together into one experience. Before the birth of the modern egalitarian relationship, no one would have expected a romantic partner to also be a friend, a confidante, to share one’s taste in music or books. Now, if and when we find a partner we’d like to marry, or have children with, or buy a house with or just stay together with for a long, long time, there’s a presumption that we no longer need close touch to come from anywhere else.

But we are born needing, even craving touch. As children, we revel in the closeness we get from snuggling with parents and close family members. As teenagers or young adults, we discover sex, and generally speaking we try to do as much of it as we think we can get away with. By the time we form a stable adult peer group, we’ve effectively trained ourselves not to cuddle except for with people we’re sleeping with: not because it wouldn’t be pleasant or fulfilling, but because of inherited social rules left over from our ancient pregnancy anxiety.

I really like that he addresses the distinction between intimacy and sex (since it rarely seems to get addressed otherwise), and how many people who are not in romantic relationships (such as myself), often get little to no physical touch of an intimate, caring nature. And to be honest, a hug from a family member is not the same as a hug from a female friend, co-worker, or new acquaintance. They don’t have to love me, so getting a hug is at least somewhat of an implicit “you’re a nice person and I like you”.

And this is the paragraph that I practically tripped over myself to quote because this really is my experience:

It’s not just me: a friend who had moved away to teach at a private high school came back for a visit, and when I gave her a “welcome back” hug she was momentarily overcome with emotion. It took us both a moment to realize why this was happening. Then she said, “I just realized that I haven’t actually made contact with another human being for three months.” [emphasis added] There she had been, unaware of the sort of contactless confinement she’d fallen into even as she was surrounded by people all day long. When people relocate, we rarely acknowledge how it will also radically affect our day to day intimacy needs, nor do we have any systems in place to accommodate. I think future civilizations would find her lack of opportunity for benign touch disturbing. We find it normal. That’s not something we should let continue; it’s something we should work to change.

I had had a vague sense for a little while now that I lacked intimacy in my life. I was trying my best to reach out to women via OkCupid (as one example) to try and make a connection, to meet and maybe start dating. I really do love hugs, cuddling, hand holding, gentle physical touch, and I rarely get it. In fact, the only person who ever really regularly hugs me outside of my family, is my best friend’s girlfriend, and I feel a bit weird of wanting to hold on for a couple extra seconds, but I really don’t want to let go. Then this came along and I was just like “holy crap! I am totally starved for physical intimacy!”.

I actually sought out “friends with benefits” arrangements earlier this year, and while sex did end up happening, I did not really get intimacy and I ultimately realized that was what I wanted more than the sex itself.

There’s even science behind all of this – hugs have been shown to release oxytocin which is a natural anti-depressant hormone, so hugging people is literally good for your health. Yet, many people who are not in relationships rarely get that physical contact, and it’s something that we literally need as human beings. I certainly try to make the most of things, but the absence has definitely been noticed and felt.

And so, with my “not quite poly, but supportive!” attitude, I’ve decided to be proactive. I have actually reached out to a couple females specifically, to ask in the most respectful, transparent way that I can, if they would be willing/interested to be platonic “cuddle buddies”. And I plan to reach out to more yet. Technically, all I need is one. I can’t get the app (sadly, since it’s currently iPhone only as of this writing), but the idea has been planted and I want to be proactive about it.

If you want to watch a video showing how the app works, you can see one on www.cuddlrapp.com.

So honestly, I think this is a cool thing, I’m glad someone made it. It also helped me realize a deficit in my own life that I am serious about addressing in the most consentual, mutually beneficial way possible. If you’re not really into hookups, but would rather meet someone more sensitive and arguably nurturing, this might be for you.

Heterochromia Iridum aka multicoloured eyes

I only recently learned that this had a name, and since I find it interesting, I wanted to do a post about it. Apparently, there’s one player in the NHL (Shawn Horcoff) who has this, and actually, I grew up with a pet dog (a gorgeous Siberian Husky) that had it too.

Heterochrowhatia?Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)?

From WikiPedia:

In anatomy, heterochromia (Greek: heteros ‘different’ + chroma ‘color’) is a difference in coloration, usually of the iris but also of hair or skin. Heterochromia is a result of the relative excess or lack of melanin (a pigment). It may be inherited, or caused by genetic mosaicism, chimerism, disease, or injury.

Heterochromia of the eye (heterochromia iridis or heterochromia iridum) is of two kinds. In complete heterochromia, one iris is a different color from the other. In partial heterochromia or sectoral heterochromia, part of one iris is a different color from its remainder.

Eye color, specifically the color of the irises, is determined primarily by the concentration and distribution of melanin. The affected eye may be hyperpigmented (hyperchromic) or hypopigmented (hypochromic). In humans, usually, an excess of melanin indicates hyperplasia of the iris tissues, whereas a lack of melanin indicates hypoplasia.

So, either both eyes can be different colours (as was the case with my childhood dog), or one eye can have two different colours, or the eyes can simply be a different colour from the hair or skin. But since it’s not something we see very often, it always catches our attention and fascination.

You can actually see it somewhat in this closeup of the iris that I found and posted recently:

eye closeupPretty darn cool huh?

So, if you want something pretty to look at today, I suggest googling “heterchromic eyes”, and behold. I’m partial to any images with green or blue, personally.

 

A science and safety lesson re: Microwaves

Short post here, busy week, but this is pretty interesting, and does a good job of explaining a concept quickly and succinctly. I don’t microwave a lot of stuff, but this is definitely good to know:

SciShow “Why can’t I put metal in the microwave?”

Insightful Quote of the Day

Attempting to define yourself is like trying to bite your own teeth
-Unknown

I haven’t been able to find a source for this (heard it on a podcast), though I would at least partially beg to disagree.

The point is that you’re constantly changing and evolving, so any definition you come up with will eventually be inaccurate, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be very self-aware and know how you have changed and thus know how to redefine yourself. I’m all too familiar with that, thanks to being a Scanner.

Reminds me of another Incubus lyric:

Picture the scene
Where whatever you thought would in the blink of an eye,
Manifest and become illustrated
You’d be sure man that every line drawn reflected a life that you loved
Not an existence that you hated
So, must we demonstrate that we can’t get it straight?
We’ve painted a picture, now we’re drowning in paint
Lets figure out what the hell it’s about
Before the picture we painted chews us up and spits us out