What was awesome.
- I loved the acro. It came as a total surprise to me that I'd enjoy it that much, but I found it completely heavenly.
- I liked the group I was in. Although I didn't necessarily gel that strongly. - Everybody was pretty nice, and they were a lot of fun to Beltane with.
- I was pretty useful. I made sure a lot of things were okay, I got them a yard to build their boat in, and generally looked after things.
- The night itself, although there were about 40 minutes of improv audience interaction (don't like this if unplanned), once we got the boat moving everything came alive, the crowd were loving it, and it was a huge buzz.
- Burning the boat at the end. Rather than the slightly dull all sitting at bower, we burned a boat, then the foxes joined us, and the Aerie. It was lovely.
- The After Party. This was a fantastic thing filled with drumming and friends, I completely loved it.
- The feeling of community in general. I may not be so strongly bonded to the group, but I feel much closer to Beltane, than I used to. Really must GO again.
- The views at the After-After. I was a little bit high, and found the party itself it's normal meh, but god, some of the scenery up there!
What was meh, or bad.
- I didn't really connect with the group as well as I'd liked. I made a couple of new friends, and I enjoyed Beltaning with them, but for some reason I didn't really feel I closely gelled. This is a common, but by no means universal thing with Beltane. I'm not that much like quite a lot of the people.
- It was chaotic, everyone was unusually late for everything, didn't actually harm that much.
- The away weekend, started out quite well, and I enjoyed some of it, but I drank and smoked too much on the first night, and it made everything else harder. I was a bit upset that I was left outside when I incapacitated myself with dope. It was cold out there, and kinda dampened trust for me.
- I damaged my leg. This was the worst thing, as it affected bonding, acro everything else, and meant I couldn't to acro with the group for two essential weeks, made the bits of performance less good for me. It was bad.
- The After-After. As is near universally the case, everyone I was very close to at Beltane was either drumming or at home asleep, I was a bit drugged, and so didn't get on with it. Nice views though.
I noticed that none of the descriptions as were actually terribly close to my stance.
- Liberal (closest?): Although I don't necessarily think it's dreadful if there are slightly more of one gender in a profession than the other, big discrepancies are a sign of a cultural problem. Also, there seems to be a bit of an "it'll go away if we ignore it" attitude pervading this one. Simply giving basically equal legal rights isn't enough if there's a massive culture to impose what are basically laws. Social pressure can be more powerful than legislation in many cases.
- Rad fem (next closest). Bit too much telling people what to do, also I think the oppression is a bit more complex than stated. Everyone in society oppresses by their internalised states, men are less inclined to challenge this by dint of them getting the better deal, and indeed, will sometimes defend the oppression. I also question whether the suggestion that it's just women who need to stop this actually accurately reflects the Rad-Fems views.
Re: Gender roles: it's not strictly about rejecting traditional gender roles, for me, so much as trying to completely remove the enforcement of them culturally or legally. The whole point is you're allowed to choose who you are. Prostitution / Pornography? Extremely complex issues, these are both full of exploitation, and that needs to go, going further and completely eliminating though? To illiberal for me, I'm afraid, at the end of the day both should be based on unfettered choice for all parties.
- Marxist? I suppose I sort of agree that capitalism spreads misogyny, but this is more a result than a cause. I don't actually see capitalism as being inherently "for men", that'd be gender-essentialist. Capitalism will basically leap on any societal unpleasantness if there's profit there. This means that it can be deeply oppressive, but it doesn't really care what race, colour etc. people are, as long as the cultural norms are in place for it to exploit them. In this society it means it follows, and perhaps reinforces sexism for its own gains. Splitting hairs perhaps, but it has an important upshot that I don't believe that stamping on capitalism will remove the root cause of gender inequality, and there are many other models which are equally, or more willing to use exploitation for their own goals, some of which actually *are* inherently misogynistic.
Cultural Feminism - Although I'm willing to accept that there may be gender differences, I also strongly believe that we'd need to achieve near complete equality of opportunity and regard before we could reasonably assess what these are. In the past the differences have been assumed to be very great indeed, lots of assumptions were made, and basically all of them have been shown to be wrong. The vast majority of descriptions of the "differences" I hear these days is swollen with tired and ancient stereotypes and very light on actual evidence. As such, I don't resemble this at all.
Feel I should something about sexuality etc for #comingoutweek. Well, I don't want to say it on Facebook, a bit too personal, but I'll say it on LJ.
Okay, I'm bisexual. I like being bisexual, because it helps with the love and excitement I feel about toward some people of either gender.
I'm normally, but not exclusively attracted to people who are somewhere towards the "centre" in terms of gender presentation. This is probably because I've got some issues with my own gender. Internally, I'm quite a bit less clearly male than I appear (do I behave that male? I'm not sure). This isn't too much of a problem for me, the mild gender-queerness was terrifying as a teenager, but these days it's something of a source of happiness. I'm not sure I'll ever be wanting to dress as female, but being able to act as something in-between sometimes, well, that can be very nice.
I'm also demisexual. I hate being demisexual. I think I'd find the uncomplicated nature of romantic asexuality very lovely, and just being normally sexed would make things a whole lot easier. As it is, as a demisexual man, when I get close enough to to be intimate with people, they assume that as a (presumably highly sexed) man, my lack of interest represents my not fancying them, and thus it's time to move on. Also, the lack of initial basic desire means the impetus to just get intimate with a new person anyway and see if it turns into something good later doesn't really happen either.
A combination of these two factors means it makes it much harder to find someone to be loving with, and that's pretty much the worst thing in the world for me. For all that I'm less than excellent with other people, there have been quite a few who I've liked a very great deal over the years, and a couple of them have liked me back. I often wonder whether without the demisexuality, things could be very different now.
I've found chinks and cracks in the armour, and those gaps have let me love a handful of people over time, sometimes it has felt a little stolen, but it's been good anyway, and I'm very grateful for those things. Still, I'd love a way round it.
New job is going very well. I'm basically sole developer on a significant, closely observed dev project, and so far I'm doing well. I'm enjoying the autonomy and the respect, I think I can do the job, and it's the most interesting thing I've ever done. I haven't been so engaged in any work ever before.
If this works, or maybe even if it doesn't, it won't be the last thing of this nature I do.
Major milestone last night, I actually relaxed and started to watch random tv things. In essence, it was not at all different to mildly drinking, I just relaxed and watched random stuff. I'm thinking of having my first and only drink in a week today to see what the effect is. Probably will it's in company and drinking's better then.
(Note also that I've stopped smoking, and so am quite irritable.)
Gah, Self Anti-Realists are stupid, and increasingly dominant. (For the links NS will annoy you about logins, but will let you log in and look without paying)
I really think this field of study is more an exercise in professional psychological nihilism rather than any real attempt to find out what's going on with our apparent consciousness. I get especially annoyed when commentators attack a two-hundred years dead argument**, and think they've destroyed a modern concept. I'm prepared to accept some pretty wild things about what my consciousness actually is***, however, as literally all things are predicated on the fact that we are perceiving, one should probably make sure one has an pretty water-tight argument before saying one has demonstrated that actually we aren't. I also find the optical illusion arguments to be trivial curios being used to attempt to fully describe the attributes of a complex, and ill-understood system. It's a bit like saying the monitor flicker on a BBC microcomputer shows that actually there isn't a processor anywhere, because sometimes the image is gone.
Because something that's apparently clearly present, but doesn't fit your theories, it doesn't mean that it doesn't exist (though it's possible that it genuinely doesn't). There's a good likelihood that you don't quite understand everything yet. More looking, less grand announcements.
* I'm willing to accept that there's not, if a good description of how the illusion works is provided. (Also, who or what is perceiving the illusion?)
** that we're not actually ghosts in a machine, who'll go to heaven, we're part of the machine (or some sort of weird resultant effect).
*** I'm totally happy that it's nothing like what it looks like. I don't think it must be continuous, indeed, I suspect it isn't; I may well be a series of deluded flashes of universe processing.
I'm feeling that I should probably make myself clear on this one, as I'm feeling that perhaps my point of view on these things isn't clearly understood. In general, I'm pro-feminist, but for reasons which I'll explain, I'm currently unsure as to whether I'd call myself one, anyway:
I think the Patriarchy is a real thing, a kind of set of ancient mega-memes that are embedded in our, and many other societies. It comes from a long line of male rulership by force, and it tries hard to re-inforce ideas of gender, and generally makes lots of excuses for pretty awful behaviours. My personal experience of it is getting considered a weirdo by both men and women because I don't behave in certain prescribed ways. I've also seen countless much worse examples in friends, and in media, of it making men feel entitled to behave in utterly shit ways towards women. This is a big complex one, and I don't have time to go into everything which it is, but I think these memes are a an almost universal cause of suffering, feelings of inadequacy, bullying, rape and violence. I would love to see it dismantled, and am willing to actively support anyone trying to.
I have Privelege, in many ways. It's hard to see how things are hard for others when they're not for you, but once again, I've seen countless examples. Because I'm male, and middle class, and well educated all sorts of doors are open to me, which are hard to open for others. I think pushing this point on people is extremely valuable, and that cultural change is necessary to eliminate this.
However, I don't agree with the idea that privileged people are simply incapable of any sort of sympathy with or comprehension of people who don't have it. Saying "you don't get an opinion here", or "you'll never understand, so you just have to agree with us blindly" is a good way of ending an argument on the losing side, and I think it's important that this argument is won (assuming winning involves persuading people of your point of view). I also think this idea is incorrect, as incomplete understanding doesn't equate to a complete lack of understanding.
I'm troubled by the term itself, as it seems to consider our current culture in isolation rather than in relation to all other cultures. I think, largely due to the work done by previous feminists, our culture is considerably less accepting and enabling of rape and and man-woman violence than it used to be, and probably ever has been. However, I entirely agree that this is a battle which is far from won, so if the term means, this is a culture which sometimes accepts, enables and ignores rape, well, okay. There are still tons of men finding ways to make themselves feel entitled to sex, and encouraging others to do the same (it's part of Patriarchy thinking). Several organisations, some of them governmental (once again, led by feminist campaigners) are working to try to combat this problem by changing the culture. It's a thing which I'm 100% behind, and I think could do with being stepped up.
This is far from a complete analysis of even the major points of feminism, but my point is, although I've got some niggles with terminology, I'm at least broadly onside. So why don't I call myself a feminist? I suppose it's because I perceive an attitude that to be a feminist, I have to agree with everything which is said or done by any even remotely reasonable feminist. Indeed, I feel that if I disagree with anything such a feminist says, some will judge me just as bad as someone who is completely on the other side. I'm willing to be persuaded further in, but that doesn't mean that I'm willing to blindly agree to anything to call myself part of the movement, indeed, my perception of that attitude has the opposite effect.
One of the problematic things with trying to debate this in a public forum like facebook is the other side. As a friend said to me the other day, one of the problems with disagreeing with feminist points, is that many people (mainly men) are uncomfortable with the ideas as a whole, and will take any crack in an argument to try to derail the whole cause. I think this is pretty evident, and I dislike the other side a lot more than I dislike feminism. Should I be quiet then? I don't see much traffic from the other side in the friends and family I keep in contact with, so there's not much to strike out at there. I dunno, I'm definitely more moderate than the hard lines of feminism, and it's a difficult place to be. I'm also uneasy about remaining silent if a large number of people are cheering on something which I feel might actually be wrong.
I would certainly be capable of thinking this of someone male, but does the fact that she's a politician mean that I'm inappropriately sexualizing her? She's certainly a very attractive woman, and clearly presents herself as one. I'm also perfectly capable of thinking men are evil, and I don't think the fact that she's good looking makes her in any way less dangerous, or a less serious politician.
Perhaps, we should look at the astronomical universe in a different way. Perhaps we should ask why are things the way they are, rather than just trying to analyse what they are. I'm suggesting an analysis of the benefits of making various cosmological factors to be as they are, rather than just assuming that they're random and a mathematical puzzle created by random chance. It's a sideline, but you might find something, so it's worth a shot.
Why? Have I suddenly decided that Our Lord and Saviour put everything there for a purpose? No, that's not why.
The point is this, because if you get a "no, it isn't" it kills three rather irritating birds with one stone. The first is Theism. If you assume a kind of blank Theism, i.e.: No, Christ didn't get resurrected, and the books are cosmologically bollocks, but still there might be an intelligence setting this up. So, you look up, and try to analyse if there's a why behind it all. If there is, you'd sure as hell want to know what it's about.
Second up, there's the geekily popular Simulation theory, that beings in other universes could conceivably make subordinate (but totally believable) simulations of their own, in which case we're probably in one. I suspect (but can't logically analyse due to lack of the appropriate mathematical/logical/bullshitting skills) this has a wider application in that our universe could be subordinate to some other intelligent thing in a wide variety of situations. It is a strange little theory, but interesting nonetheless.(and also a kind of superset of the first example)
Third up, is that we're a bit flummoxed by our existence, mediocrity theory (as I understand it) say we should be pretty average, but we're not, we appear to be unique amongst all we can see. There are explanations that civilisation necessarily flourishes (as we have) and then inexplicably vanishes (ah, nuclear weapons or something)*. Well, maybe it doesn't, perhaps all these things we don't understand amount to that there's clearly and obviously other life up there, we just don't know enough yet to see the wood from the trees.
What these lead to is a proposition: suppose there is a reason to this setup, we should at least determine if we can see one, as if there is some intelligence behind this, we'd learn a lot more by understanding its interactions than assuming natural laws for things which don't have them. It doesn't mean that we're saying that there is, it's just taking an assumption and running with it and seeing if you get any meaningful results.
Anyway, rare philosophy entry over, see you all in two years time.
*Or maybe things like us are rare but numerous (say, 2 per galaxy), this totally evades the problem, but is far from proven.
I think probably the incline is what was damaging my joints, so it's probably safe to run on the flat. Also, I'd like to strengthen the muscles I use for hill work. As such, I'm planning to do the following:
Now: 3 times a week do one of these, alternating which one:
Jogging - Jog 3 miles on the flat round Holyrood Park. (timed)
Climbing - Climb to the top of Arthur's Seat and back down again. (timed)
I might also consider joining the gym to do cross-trainer and exercise bike stuff in the new year
I have missed a 3 hour long seminar on the university's self-help courses today, starting at 9:30, feel I should have gone along, but I just couldn't face it. For heaven's sake, the seminar on Napier's major research projects tomorrow is only two hours! Well, half the course skipped the team building thing on Tuesday (which was actually a laugh) and it's not a critical part of the course. Still I'm kicking myself a bit because I really don't want to miss anything which might be important.
On the bright side, I'm looking forwards to lessons starting, and can't wait to get programming. I reckon now I know intelligence alone won't help me here, I've got a good chance.
I've been trying to place quite why I liked it so much. The plot was slightly dodgy, the special effects were okay but nothing special, the fight scenes were quite good, but once again nothing special, and the ending was ropey and a bit predictable, as was the bad guy.
I suppose it's this: by the end of the film, I really liked the three main characters. I felt comfortable with them, and cared what happened to them in a way which doesn't happen normally in a super hero film. The humour got me too, there was a joyous, ridiculous intensity to many scenes which had me leaning forward and laughing loudly. Finally, I liked the backdrop, it's a humanitarian's way of looking at the occult, in all of these bizzare places, the inhabitants still have their own little concerns.
It clearly wasn't as good a superhero film as The Dark Knigt, but, as characters, I just don't like Batman anywhere near as much as I like Hellboy.
Despite the fact I thought the film was flawed, I'm desperate for another sequel so that I can see the characters again. Maybe GdT should consider making a series (of some kind, not necessarily of this), I'd watch.
A person/thing wakes up in a universe. He/she/it doesn't understand, or know the universe, but does know three things (for absolutely certain, really knows, they're True, (rules of the universe, what one might call 'divine knowledge')):
1) That this is the only universe
2) That he/she/it is the only possible conscious being
3) That this is the only possible universe that he/she/it could have existed in.
Is said individual right to think that there is some sort of creator/ceative urge who wanted/required him/her/it in it?
I'm told that the answer is No. I'm prepared to accept that he/she/it just doesn't know, not enough info.
I'd really like to be convinced of Yes or No. But I'd also like get an explanation of what "not enough info" means in this case too.
They can tap your phone, access your e-mail, or even have you followed. What's really disturbing is that they don't need much (if any) legal backup to do this (i.e. court orders etc.), and they can do it for any reason they want as long as it's in some way related to a criminal offence (meaning any criminal offence).
This means that if a local council has a problem with you, it can decide to invade your privacy. Perhaps they think one of your children might be a graffiti artist, so tap your phones, and force access to your child's e-mail. Maybe they think you aren't following dog litter procedures, so they have you followed.
Puts the whole American privacy thing into perspective really. The Federal Government were tapping people's phones to look for "potential terrorists" and there was an outcry. All the while our local councils were tapping the phones of, well, anyone they wanted really, and we barely even knew about it.
The bill in question (Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act) was brought in to help "tackle terrorism".
So my thoughts on the diet:
The Fife diet had several glaring holes in it, sugar of some form was necessary, and butter, milk and bread would have been incredibly useful. Maybe you can get these from Fife, but it sure ain't easy. Also I think it would have been a lot nicer if we had allowed ourselves spices (as I believe the originator of the diet does).
The beer and wine situation was frankly a bit odd. Drinks made outside Fifeshire, like Fraoch (Alloa) and Cairn o' Mohr (Perthshire) are on it, but other drinks made in similar places such as Carlsberg and Smirnoff (both Alloa) are not, despite both being equally organic* (i.e. they're not) and none of them actually being sourced from Fife. I appreciate that the first two go along with the spirit of supporting local producers, but then local people work in the Carlsberg factory, too.
What these restrictions meant was that anything I drank had to be very expensive, and had to have a Ye Olde Scottish feel, which got annoying after a while. Can't I also drink some nice ale locally sourced from Yorkshire, or at least anywhere in Scotland if we're going to bend the rules like that? It'd be cheaper, and less dull.
There were definite up-sides to the diet. Although restrictive, I didn't find I missed my normal diet of takeaways and crap beer at all. The Fife diet was bland, and I started to really hate some aspects of it (the bloody potatoes), but the food wasn't crap, as I find many of the cheaper takeaway options are. I started to feel healthier, drank less, and didn't snack, except on oatcakes. I also found that the lack of strong flavour made me feel less like gorging myself on the stuff when I came home after a few beers. The diet really focussed on content over flavour, which is the opposite of what I normally eat.
So, that's all. I don't think I'll be staying on the Fife diet, but maybe I'll start shopping for more locally sourced stuff, (but not potatoes, for a while at least).
*Thanks akicif for that lead
On Day 7 I just did another roast, this time with a gammon joint. I found that if I made the baking area of the joint smaller, (in this case by making a small foil tray) I could turn parsnips, potatoes and carrots halfway through cooking and thus have lovely fried vegetables. It would have worked better with a normal joint though, as the gammon juices were extremely salty.
That evening, having reasoned that as I finished eating at 10pm the previous week, I could start eating normally again at 11pm. I did this with great gusto, consuming a third of a pizza and half a bag of popcorn in short order.