Saturday, February 26, 2011

if your cat suffers from motion sickness

I'd been googling the recommended doses of Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) for cats, but our vet recommends meclizine (which is sold as Bonine and a number of other things, including, to my surprise, the "less drowzy formulation" of Dramamine). She prescribed 12.5 mg per cat once a day. Our cats are big; I dunno if the dose would be smaller for a smaller cat.

one true statement from Charlie Sheen

"So you're telling me, anytime someone calls me Carlos Estevez, I can claim they are anti-Latino?" (From Charlie Sheen, "Two and a Half Men" Star, Says He's Not an Anti-Semite)

I'm always fascinated when Hollywood talks about race: they almost always leave out the Hispanic population. They're the people who cut their lawns, clean their homes, and care for their children. Now, how many Hispanic superstars can you think of? Remember that in the US, the black and Hispanic populations are about the same size.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

I'm in great company

Dogland gets a nice mention in a review of "Swamplandia!", a book I really should read: http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2011/02/19/swamplandia_karen_russell/index.html

Want to join a union and be cool for free?

I dunno much about these folks, but you can't complain about their dues: Freelancers Union :: Platform for an Independent Workforce: http://www.freelancersunion.org/index.html

Now, whether they can actually accomplish anything remains to be seen....

Friday, February 18, 2011

how to write a strong woman

Imagine you're a strong woman. Write.

I started this post as a joke, but here's the underlying truth: If you write badly about people who are different than you, it's because you're focusing on what you think they're like instead of what you would be like in their shoes.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

posessions possess you

Some people love getting stuff. I love getting rid of stuff. Some people love to be surrounded by things. I love to be surrounded by space. The greedy take what they can. The wise take what they need. Everything we keep is part of a prison we build for ourself. If you love your prison, your love isn't freedom; it's acceptance of imprisonment.

Can you guess that I'm visiting my mother-in-law's home? I love her, and I like her home, but she has lived like a middleclass American in the vague US suburban sense for most of her adult life. Now that her health requires a change in her living circumstances, I'm very aware of all the things she has that she can't take care of.

If you have more than you can take care of by yourself, you have too much.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

a note for an article about "rape culture"

Pacific Center for Sex and Society's "Pornography, Rape and Sex Crimes in Japan" is fascinating, not just for its information about Japan, but for its summary regarding rape and pornography elsewhere: http://www.hawaii.edu/PCSS/biblio/articles/1961to1999/1999-pornography-rape-sex-crimes-japan.html

Among the things that rape culture theorists don't grasp: Just as there are women and men who fantasize about being raped who hate the idea of anyone being raped, there are men and women who fantasize about being rapists who hate the idea of raping anyone. Human sexuality and human imagination are not as simplistic as moralists believe. We all have fantasies about being powerful or powerless in sexual or nonsexual circumstances. We also know our fantasies are only fantasies.

(Many thanks to serialbabbler for providing this link in the comments on the previous post.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Getting started with Marx and Engels

This looks like the beginning of an excellent series:

http://socialistworker.org/2011/02/08/starting-marx-and-engels

India's richest 5% vs. US's poorest

"Yes, the poor in the United States are "rich" by world standards. They generally (though not always) have running water, built dwellings, access to sufficient calories (though not necessarily good nutrition), and so on. But the idea that the poorest residents of Washington, DC, have a standard of living that is as good or better than the average person in the top five percent of the income distribution in Delhi is absurd. The top five percent in Delhi generally have a very nice house (possibly more than one), luxury cars, multiple servants, will travel internationally, go to elite schools, have access to excellent medical care, and so on."

from Milanovic Graph on International Inequality | CEPR Blog

Friday, February 4, 2011

what slacktivists don't understand

It's not how many people you reach; it's how many minds you change. Preaching to the world's largest choir is still preaching to the choir. The size of an echo chamber is only impressive to the people listening to their own voices. Being busy has nothing to do with being effective.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

artistic freedom and dickwolves

Here's the original cartoon: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2010/8/11/

The kerfuffle's in many places; search "dickwolves" if you're curious. Here's the writer's response: On The Matter of Dickwolves http://bit.ly/gZ8UGp

I think the idea that rape jokes promote rape culture is as reasonable as the idea that dead baby jokes promote dead baby culture. But this can't be explained to people who don't understand that in art, what's obvious may not be what is meant.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

the work reveals the soul: understanding writers

To be an artist is to be judged, not just for what you do, but for what you are.

Sometimes the judgment is fair. For example, Celine was anti-semitic. I disagree with those who say that's sufficient reason to leave him out of an upcoming commemoration of French writers—to be human is to be flawed, and greatness often co-exists with great flaws— but I agree with Richard Prasquier's observation, "When the text is despicable, so is the writer."

But sometimes the judgment is not fair. Sometimes the failure is the reader's.

An easy example: Twain used racist language to write a profoundly antiracist novel.

A harder example: People who don't understand Christ figures will conclude that Uncle Tom is weak rather than the most admirable character in the novel.

A challenging example: In the 1960s, Asa Carter was unequivocally racist. Whether he truly changed his nature when he became Forrest Carter and wrote The Education of Little Tree is debated. The only black person in the novel does some admirable things, but he's a minor character. However, whatever the strengths and weaknesses of the book may be, it's not the work of a writer who secretly thinks American Indians are inferior to white people.

Because this is true: the work reveals the soul. Writers cannot hide their prejudices. When the only capable characters in a story are white men or brown women, you know the writer has issues. When the characters represent the world as it is or the world as you wish it would be, you know the writer is like you.

I was inspired to write this by a comment about a writer whose work I know. I'm not going to link to the commenter, who can most kindly be described as very naive, or name the writer, who does not need any controversy—but it's not me or Emma, so don't bother googling our names in the hope of finding the comment.

What struck me was the commenter's claim that the writer was racist, but the commenter enjoyed the writer's work, so the commenter bought it second-hand.

I wanted to leave this reply: Either the writer is racist, and you enjoy the work because you are, too, or you've misjudged the writer. I've read stories by that writer, and you're right to enjoy them: they've got complex characters of all hues and beliefs and orientations in them. The work isn't racist. And that means the writer isn't, either. You're making the same mistake that people do who say Matt Taibbi is anti-semitic for writing about corruption at Goldman Sachs: your beliefs are making you see racism where it does not exist.

But I decided to write this instead.

Frederick Douglass on justice

"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where only one class is made to feel that society is in an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, no other persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass

Why is anyone in US homeless when nearly 11 % of US houses are empty?

Home Ownership—Nearly 11 Percent of US Houses Empty - CNBC: "There were 18.4 million vacant homes in the U.S. in Q4 '10 (11 percent of all housing units vacant all year round), which is actually an improvement of 427,000 from a year ago, but not for the reasons you'd think."