Category Archives: Steering the Relation Ship

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.

The Gender Map: How well do we really understand gender? (not very)

Here’s a video from Sexplanations on YouTube. It’s pretty simple but touches on some important information, which is why I’m sharing it.

And since it’s a shorter video, I wrote up a transcript since I’d rather you get the information than not, and you may be more inclined to read it than watch/listen (but you should, because visuals!)

You may remember studying Columbus, Vasco de Gama and Magellan in middle school, they’re on the books for their pioneering explorations, their navigations of the ocean, and their rudimentary thinking.

Magellan is known for being the captain of the first voyage to circumnavigate the globe. Except that wasn’t circumnavigation. We called this circumnavigation because no one at the time realized that planes and rockets and satellites and who knows what else could actually circumnavigate more efficiently.

This is where we are with gender. Magellans.

We’re curious, and we’re navigating, but we’re limited by our abilities and our language to truly and completely navigate gender. Sometimes we have the words but not a complete sense of the concept. Like gender performance, roles, script. Other times we have the concepts, but lack the words to realize them.

Historically, navigation of gender has looked like this. We started with no gender. These (penis and testes) were merely the inversion of these (ovaries and uterus). The thinking was that this body (male) had more “vital heat” and thus forced the genitals to descent in order to “cool off”. Then there was a belief that gender was strictly grammatical. Any use beyond that was considered a joke, or an error.

It wasn’t until 1955 that gender took on the meaning it has today.

The Reimer family consulted Dr. John Money about their two boys. One’s penis had been damaged during surgery and Dr. John Money recommended that (1) the penile tissue and testicles be removed and (2) that the child be raised as a girl. Similarly to Magellan’s European sailors bringing disease and death to the natives, Money’s pioneering thoughts on gender were also traumatic. Baby Bruce, who was raised baby Brenda, reportedly never felt, acted or identified as female and eventually committed suicide. Nurture over nature? Uh, no.

Gender is a complex sense of how an individual relates to, identifies with one, multiple, or no gender categorizations that our culture constructs. Some describe it as a “sense of identity”. In my culture this may include bi gender, man, gender fluid, gender queer, woman, cis, transgender, agender, pangender, two-spirit, neutrois, questioning, M to F, F to M, M to M, F to F.

In comparison, gender roles are the stereotypes that our culture has for these genders. Primary assessment of one’s adherence to these roles was designed in the 1970s by Dr. Sandra Lipsitz Bem. This is an online version of the BEM Sex Role inventory (BRSI). 60 items, 20 feminine, 20 masculine, 20 neutral. It was designed in the 1970s, of course I’m going to splatter the gender roles.

Gender isn’t the parts of your body, it’s how you express your body in the context of culture. Innately or otherwise. In the words of gender navigator Judith Butler, “We act as if that being of a man or that being of a woman is actually an internal reality or something that is simply true about us, a fact about us, but actually it’s a phenomenon that is being produced all the time and reproduced all the time”

Perhaps we are each a unique gender, perhaps no gender at all. Until then, we draw squiggles, it’s our best effort to understand gender as we develop the language that allows us to circumnavigate it.

Stay curious.

Terms to Know If Your Child Struggles With Executive Functioning Issues

This post falls primarily under the “information I think you should be aware of” category. Applies mostly to parents.

This comes from the website for the National Center for Learning Disabilities:

Here are nine key terms and phrases doctors and other professionals use to describe executive functioning skills and the way your child thinks and learns.

  1. Cognition

    The many different ways your child’s brain automatically makes sense of things. When experts refer to cognition or to cognitive skills, they mean how your child thinks, knows, remembers, judges and problem-solves.

  2. Emotional control

    Your child’s ability to connect what she thinks and knows to how they feel and react. Poor emotional control might cause your child to overreact or respond inappropriately to things that upset them. For example, if they lose their video game time because they didn’t finish their chores, they may have a tantrum because their siblings still have their game time.

  3. Flexible thinking

    Your child’s ability to think of alternate ways of doing things, integrate new ideas into existing thinking, and abandon what isn’t working to try a new approach. If your child has difficulty seeing other viewpoints or gets stuck on ideas even if they’re not the best plans, experts might describe them as a “rigid thinker.”

  4. Organization

    The ways your child gathers and stores information to use in the future. When experts talk about organization, it’s not just about lining things up or putting them away. They’re also referring to how your child stores and manages information in their brain so they can pull it out of their “mental filing cabinet” when they need to use it.

  5. Self-monitoring

    Your child’s ability to keep track of their performance on a task, assess how it measures up to a goal, and catch and correct mistakes. Without self-monitoring skills, your child may set the dinner table without noticing that they are putting the silverware in the wrong place and then be surprised when the table doesn’t look like it should.

  6. Task initiation

    Your child’s ability to get started on an activity and come up with ideas or problem-solving strategies on their own. For example, your child may not be able to initiate the task of cleaning their room because they can’t figure out the first thing to do or any of the steps after that.

  7. Working memory

    Your child’s ability to hold onto information in order to complete a task or activity. Working memory is a combination of auditory and visual-spatial memory, and relies on attention skills, too. If your child has weak working memory skills, things may “slip their mind” or be “right on the tip of their tongue.”

  8. Visual-spatial working memory

    Your child’s ability to use their “mind’s eye” to hold onto visual information long enough to use it. Visual-spatial memory is like a camera in your child’s brain. It can take snapshots to help them do things like search through laundry to find a sock that matches one you’ve shown them. It helps them recall where new things are and where they are in relation to them—for example, finding the bathroom in the middle of the night at a friend’s house without bumping into walls.

  9. Auditory working memory

    Your child’s ability to hold onto information they hear long enough to use it. It’s what helps them remember the five words they just read so they can understand how they fit together in a sentence. It’s also what helps them remember a phone number someone just said to them long enough to dial it.

Things to watch out for if your children seem to be struggling a bit, perhaps they have a learning issue which can be addressed to help them function and perform better.

“Functioning Labels” and “Person First” may do more harm than good

You’ve probably heard Aspergers Syndrome referred to as “high functioning Autism”, and while in some respects that may be true, I recently read a take on this that has led me to believe that “high functioning” is not a label one should use. No one can stop you, but you might want to reconsider.

Yes, That Too is an autism centric blog that has lots of interesting posts. I’m going to highlight some of them today. The first is on “Functioning Labels”:

Yesterday at the #autismchat, one of the things I said was “High functioning means your needs get ignored. Low functioning means your abilities get ignored.” I am by no means the first person to say something like this. Over at Autistic Hoya, there is a good cartoon about functioning labels. I think that over at Just Stimming, something along these lines has also been said. Cal Montgomery criticized a lot of the ways they’re used in a movie review back in 2005. And of course, every time someone assumes high functioning/Aspergers because someone blogs, this gets brought up. It gets brought up because it’s true.

I have traveled foreign countries alone, and done so competently. That doesn’t mean I’m not Autistic. It means that the skills I have allow me to do that. I don’t catch a lot of non-verbal communication. That’s a skill I don’t have so well. If the situation I face is needing to figure out how to get from point A to point B by public transit, I am in good shape. I’ll function GREAT. If the situation is a crowded gathering where I need to politely interact with people, I might manage the length of the party (or I might not.) Then I go home and shut down. My functioning in that area is kind of cruddy.

How do you define high and low functioning? Is it by how easy it is to make an independent living arrangement work for that person? Is it by ability to navigate from point A to point B safely? Is it on being able to drive? Is it by ability to handle social situations? Is it by ability to speak? Is it by IQ? Is it by what society thinks we should be able to do? Is it by what WE think we should be able to do?

So, what are we defining functioning by anyways? We ALL have strengths and weaknesses. If I’m high functioning, you just ignore the weaknesses, and if I’m low functioning, you just ignore the strengths. Either way, we get hurt (and ignored!)

I think that’s a great point, and I had never considered this before. Many people use the “I’m high functioning” as kind of a defensive maneuver. Since Aspergers and Autism are both still so poorly understood for the most part, if you tell someone you are Autistic they’ll likely want to avoid you because they will instantly form associations in their head. By saying “but I’m high functioning“, you’re basically saying “but it’s safe for you to still associate with me”. And perhaps inadvertently, it continues to uphold the stigma around others who would be “less high functioning” than you. Let’s bust those stigmas folks!

Next is the issue of “Person First” terminology. Here’s a good quick and simple rundown. I’ve written about this before (after first discovering the idea and deciding it was the better way to go). The idea here is that if someone has a disability, you wouldn’t call them a disabled person, you would call them a person with a disability. It respects the fact that, despite a disability, they are still a human being worthy of the same respect and care that any other person, disabled or not, receives.

-“You are a person with neurotypicality.”
-“I am an Autistic who happens to be experiencing life with personhood!” (Laughing)
-Can I cure your neurotypical?
-Just like I’m a person with femaleness, right?
-And you’re a person with whiteness?
-No, I think I’m an Autistic Martian. Nice try, though.

However, as in the queer and transgender realm, there is a big push to let people self-identify and self-label. As in, if someone introduces themselves and says “Hi, I’m John and I’m autistic”, you wouldn’t say “No John, you’re a person with Autism”, because they is not how they want to be addressed. They told you how they consider themselves. If you meet someone who appears physically male but they introduce themselves as a woman named “Jane”, you will have to address her as such.

I admit, for a moment I thought to myself “but that’s inefficient, to have to stop and ask every individual person how they would like to be addressed”, and then I realized that’s exactly what we do when learning people’s name when we first meet. “Hi, I’m Christopher”. Hi, Christopher, I’m Bob. So, you wouldn’t call Christopher “Chris” (unless you ask him and he says he doesn’t mind), and you wouldn’t call Bob “Robert” under the same reasons.

So, with Person First, it comes down to the person. The blog writer (who has linked to tons of resources on the subject) advocates to address people whoever they tell you they want to be addressed, even if it seems negative towards themselves.

Lastly, the issue of Disabled vs “Differently Abled”. The blogger writes that while it’s technically true that she is differently abled, she is also still disabled, that is just a fact:

And yet I won’t say that I am differently abled, and I will correct people who call me differently abled. I will also info-dump all the reasons that it’s not the language choice I want if you tell me I should be using it. It’s soft. It’s nice. It also ignores the fact that I am Disabled. I am disabled by society’s responses to my actual set of abilities, impairments, and kind of weirds. In many cases it’s more by the kind of weirds than the actual impairments, which is… really telling.

I won’t let society ignore the fact that they are disabling me. If I’m not supposed to call myself disabled, they can ignore that I am even disabled at all. If they can ignore that I’m even disabled at all (I am, and by the rules and expectations of what I am supposed to be able to do, like use phones and sit still and make eye contact and not need to choose between paying attention and looking like I am paying attention and being able to use speech instead of typing whenever I meet people in person and choosing to do so every time it’s possible because that’s what’s expected even if typing would be much easier and there are certain things I can only communicate that way because I have mental blocks that I’m not supposed to have and it goes on and on…) well, if they don’t need to look at my being Disabled, they don’t need to look at the ways they are making me disabled. Ableism, institutional and personal, creates disability, and I can’t let people forget that because you can’t dismantle a system you can’t even see, won’t even look at. I need the world to look at the way it turns differently abled (different from what? Always ask) into disabled, and I can’t do that without calling it what it is made- DISABILITY

And Lastly, a good post on self-labeling.

Perspective on labels, and fixed mindset thinking

I have posted in the past about fixed vs growth mindsets (ie how willing are you to believe things can change and be improved), and recently the topic of fundamental attribution error has been popping up a lot.

What is fundamental attribution error? Well, I have found an article that helps explain it in a really good general, easy-to conceive way. Psychology today has a post “The Danger of Labeling Others (or Yourself)”.

When you say that someone is a bully, you not only mean that they tend to bully other people, but also that—at their core—they are the kind of person who bullies others. I have a cartoon on my office door of two prisoners sitting in a cell. One says to the other, “You’re not a murderer. You’re just a person who happened to murder someone.” This cartoon works, because being called a murderer feels like it carries something essential about the individual.

If you use terms to describe people—and you believe that they cannot change—then your life can be stressful. Every time that someone treats you badly, you take that as evidence that they are a bad person, and not just that they are a possibly good person who just happened to do a bad thing.

If you are able to think about people’s personalities in a less fixed way, perhaps that would decrease your overall stress.

This comes up most often in the case where someone takes offense to something that someone else said, and the person who said the offensive thing might retort “why are you  being so sensitive?”. Why this is flawed, is because the person saying that is implying that their level of tolerance is the correct one and anything more sensitive is wrong. As in, “if it doesn’t bother me then it shouldn’t bother anyone”. And that’s flawed because not everyone agrees on where this point is, and we can’t satisfy everyone, so we have to agree as a group on a point where something is unacceptable.

This is also why it is flawed to make sweeping generalizations like “all women are too emotional” or “all men are too aggressive” (or “you’re being too sensitive”). They are demonstrably false, and while it’s easy to anecdotally think of several experiences that prove this belief, we much more easily forget the experiences that don’t support our claim. Everyone behaves in a certain way some of the time, but no one ever behaves in only one way all of the time.

Listen to a Conservative Republican mother tell the story of her transgender daughter

You know, often the most compelling and convincing stories are ones that are truly personal and genuine perspective changes. I’ve been fortunate enough to have several in my life, and when I come across them, I try to share for the benefit of others.

Here’s a really beautiful story from a mother defending critics of her Transgender daughter. Politics be damned, the phrase “unconditional love” comes to mind.

For your convenience, I’ve typed out the transcript as well:

I’m the mom of a little girl called AJ, who was recently profiled in the Kansas City Star. As surprised as I was to find my family in the paper, I’m also incredibly proud.

My daughter is six years old. She transitioned, which means she changed her outward appearance from male to female, and started living full time as her true gender, when she was four.

Until that point, she was quite a rough and tumble little boy with a buzz cut and a shark tooth necklace. But when she was three, she asked her dad and I if we could buy her a princess dress.

We didn’t buy the dress.

We thought she might be going through a stage of liking bright or sparkly things, and didn’t want to waste money on something she would grow bored of in a week. But she kept asking, and I found out that she had a favourite princess dress she wore at daycare.

What the heck we thought, and we took her to the store to pick one up. Things didn’t stop there. Over the next few months she started to wear that dress every single minute that she was at home. And then she asked for more. Dresses, nightgowns, headbands, sparkly pink shoes. And eventually, even girl’s underwear.

We allowed some of those things, but we drew the line at the undies. There were just some things we weren’t comfortable with during this phase.

But then I noticed her pushing down on her genitals a lot, and I asked her what was wrong. Not having those parts, I assumed she might have a rash and was itchy, but her answer shocked me.

She said that they bothered her, and were in the way. She wanted them gone.

Thank god for google, because I immediately jumped on the computer and typed in a search “four year old boy says genitals should be gone”. What came back was a very short list of results, but they all pointed to one thing. My child might be transgender.

I had never even heard the word transgender before and really didn’t know what to think. We made an appointment with our pediatrician. She recommended a child psychologist. But before we could even get an appointment, my daughter, then my four year old son, said these words to me: “Mom, you know I’m really a girl right? I’m a girl on the inside”

That moment changed my life.

In the following months she became more insistent. We saw the psychologist and an endocrinologist just to make sure there wasn’t a hidden medical issue. She became more determined to express herself by wearing those pink sparkly shoes to daycare. She wanted to go out for ice cream in a fairy dress and wings.

Eventually we couldn’t hold her back. She was showing signs of depression and refused to leave the house dressed as a boy. The day I let her go to school in girl clothes she was happier than I had seen in a very long time. The kids were great, and the teachers were awesome.

But then the kids went home and told their parents, and they weren’t so great after that. Adult bigotry had influenced them.

We lost most of our friends and some of our family. We basically went into hiding for about a year while my daughter grew out her hair to look like the girl she is. When we emerged again, it was with a very happy and confident daughter.

When I share our daughter’s story, I hear the same uninformed comments over and over again, so I’d like to address a few of those now.

One. We are liberals pushing a gay agenda.

Nope, sorry, I’m a conservative southern baptist republican from Alabama.

Two. We, or at least I, because they always blame the mom, wanted a girl, she we turned our child into one.

Again no, I desperately wanted boys. The idea of raising a girl in today’s world scares me to death. I’d *much* rather be responsible for raising a good boy who knows how to treat girls well, then to be responsible for raising a girl who might only be interested in dating bad boys.

Three. Kids have no idea what they want or who they are. My kid wants to be a dog, should I let him?

Well, that’s up to you but I wouldn’t. There’s a profound difference between wanting to be something in imaginary play and declaring who you are insistently, consistently and persistently. Those are the three markers that set transgender children apart, and my daughter displayed all of them.

Four. Kids shouldn’t have to learn about sex at such a young age!

Well, I agree, so it’s a good thing that being transgender has nothing to do with sex. Gender identity is strictly how a person views themself on the inside and is completely separate from who we are attracted to.

Five. Transgender people are perverts and shouldn’t be in the bathroom with “normal people”.

I don’t know what you go into the bathroom to do, but I know what my daughter goes in there for and it isn’t to look around. It’s to go into a stall, lock the door, and pee where no one else can see her.

Six. God hates transgender people. They are sinners and going to hell.

My God taught us to love one another. Jesus sought out those who others rejected. Some people choose to embrace biblical verses that appear to say transgender people are being wrong. I choose to focus on verses like verse Samuel 16:7 which says “what the lord said to Samuel, do not consider his appearance or his height for I have rejected him. The lord does not look at the things that people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the lord looks at the heart.

My daughter is a girl in her heart. She knows it. God knows it. And that’s good enough for me.

10 ways you are making life harder than it has to be

Nifty article over on Thought Catalog, by Tim Hoch, “10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be”.

A couple highlights:

You’re the star of your own movie.

You are the star of your own movie. You wrote the script. You know how you want it to unfold. You even know how you want it to end. Unfortunately you forgot to give your script to anyone else. As a result, people are unaware of the role they are supposed to play. Then, when they screw up their lines, or fail to fall in love with you or don’t give you a promotion, your movie is ruined.

You let other people steal from you.

If you had a million dollars in cash under your mattress, you would check it regularly and take precautions to insure it is safe. The one possession you have that is more important than money is time. But you don’t do anything to protect it. In fact you willingly give it to thieves. Selfish people, egotistical people, negative people, people who won’t shut up generisches viagra soft. Treat your time like Fort Knox. Guard it closely and give it only to those who deserve and respect it.

Food for thought.

“I’m just handing out sticks, you’re the one surviving”

Came across this via social media recently (original), and loved it so much I had to share it. Having been to see a therapist/counsellor during a couple of rough times in my life, I am 100% in favour of seeking help when you feel you need it, and not being ashamed of it.

giving-out-sticksI don’t like the phrase “a cry for help”. I just don’t like how it sounds. When someone says to me, “I’m thinking about suicide, I have a plan: I just need a reason not to do it,” the last thing I see is helplessness.

I think: Your depression has been beating you up for years. It has called you ugly, and stupid, and pathetic, and a failure, for so long that you’ve forgotten that it’s wrong. You don’t see any good in yourself, and you don’t have any hope.

But still, here you are: You’ve come over to me, banged on my door, and said “Hey! Staying alive is REALLY HARD right now! Just give me something to fight with! I don’t care it it’s a stick! Give me a stick and I can stay alive!”

How is that helpless? I think that’s incredible. You’re like a marine: trapped for years behind enemy lines, your gun has been taken away, you’re out of ammo, you’re malnourished, and you’ve probably caught some kind of jungle virus that’s making you hallucinate giant spiders. And you’re still just going, “GIVE ME A STICK. I’M NOT DYING OUT HERE.”

“A cry for help” makes it sound like i’m supposed to take pity on you, but you don’t need my pity. This isn’t pathetic. This is the will to survive. This is how humans lived long enough to become the dominant species.

With NO hope, running on NOTHING, you’re ready to cut through a hundred miles of hostile jungle with nothing but a stick, if that’s what it takes to get to safety.

All I’m doing is handing out sticks.

You’re the one staying alive

Visual, Technology Metaphors for Heartbreak

This is a bit different, but it amused me, and it’s kind of light hearted.

Victoria Seimer has created an image series called “Human Error”, (featured on HuffPo “This Is What Heartbreak Looks Like In The Digital Age”), which she describes:

The series was inspired by an unfortunate Photoshop experience. “I lost everything I was working on,” Siemer, also known as Witchoria, explained to HuffPost. “An error message popped up that said, ‘Photoshop has crashed unexpectedly’ — you know, stating the obvious. In my frustration I took a screenshot of that message to make a joke about how photoshop broke my heart.”

“As I was manipulating the image, I realized how many error messages could be applied to things that happen in day-to-day life,” Siemer added. “The options that error messages offer are limited; by putting their prompts in conversation with images that evoke heartbreak or discontent, I’m emphasizing the sense of futility you feel in both contexts.”

The resulting series pairs dreamy portraits of beaches, tangled hair and crumpled bedsheets with stomach-churning error messages familiar to anyone who’s operated modern technology. Gazing at the series, the viewer conflates feelings of ill will, realizing praying for a rainbow wheel to cease spinning — and impatiently waiting for a heart to heal — are not so far from each other.

Go, have a look, have a chuckle, and share with anyone who could use something like this to bounce back today.

Self Defense of the Artistic Kind

I try to focus on positive stuff here, and while this story has an aspect of negative, ultimately the end result is positive. PetaPixel has the story, “Band Responds in the Worst Way Possible After Stealing Photographer’s Work

Photographer Rohan Anderson had one of his photos “stolen” (used without credit, permission or payment) by the band the photo was of. When confronted, the band initially scoffed at him and told him to get lost and that he had no case.

I’m not an intellectual property lawyer, but even I know better than to do what this band tried to.

Rohan fought back, and after continuing to be mocked by the band, the tables began to turn. They attempted to contact a magazine that he worked for but the magazine sided with Rohan. Then they had the ill-conceived idea to try and rally their twitter followers around the theft, which quickly backfired on them, and someone from legal/PR on the band’s side must have stepped in, as the band was forced to put their tail between their legs and concede.

Apparently, the final word from the band is that “all forms of digital art should be free”. That, I think, is a choice to be made by each artist about their own work. I happen to offer most of the art I create, for free, but that’s mostly because I’m not try to make a living from it.

The original blog post is good, and features several screenshots of the exchange, so I encourage you to go check that out, as this has only been a brief run-down.

You may also want to read a blog post I did about Fair Use.