I hadn't realized I was buying myself a handheld gaming thing - I found Civilization in the App Store, and have been playing the stupid thing until my eyes cross. I've always had a bad (in the addictive sense) relationship with computer games, and having an appealing one in my pocket is not great for my chances of paying attention to anything else when I have a free moment. Newt's already chastised me for playing games instead of watching his soccer team get massacred.
Also, when I crank up the difficulty, I find that it produces absurd situations like allowing the computer to defeat my tanks with its mounted knights. (A) This is poor design -- no matter how hard the game's supposed to be, that's just silly, and (B) it causes me to behave in a childish and unseemly fashion in public.
I shoulda just bought myself a phone.
"I'm not a racist. I just don't believe in mixing the races that way," Bardwell told the Associated Press on Thursday. "I have piles and piles of black friends. They come to my home, I marry them, they use my bathroom. I treat them just like everyone else."
I never thought I would be writing to the Mineshaft, but my significant other teaches at a regional liberal arts college, which, as is the case with many other schools, picks a book for the entire student body, including incoming freshman, to read over the summer. This year the choice of book falls to my (devastatingly handsome) SO, and he cannot find the right book, Mineshaft! The chosen book has to be relatively accessible, 250pp or so, perhaps longer if it is fiction. A more limiting factor is that the book must have some kind of ethical content/significance/implication, and this ethical content/significance/implication needs to be broad enough to suggest some sort of overarching interdisciplinary theme around which various programming will be produced, such as teach-ins, panels, invited speakers, etc. Books that have worked well in the somewhat recent past have been Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed and Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains (for which the broader theme was "Complicity," but the DHSO says "That was a bad theme; it should have been something like "Obligations."). Do you see? Something vaguely contemporary and ethically . . . didactic. Tell me what to tell him to pick!
The page limit means that my first choice, The Recognitions, won't work, and Agapē Agape is probably too hermetic. (My current institution has a similar program except with three books which only the incoming class reads; this past summer one of them was Outliers, blech.) Here are some loopy suggestions—I know you can do better, commentariat!—: Wilde's Intentions (comprising the essays "The Decay of Lying", "Pen, Pencil and Poison", "The Critic as Artist", and "The Truth of Masks"); Robert Harrison's Gardens (which I have not read); Max Frisch's I'm Not Stiller (which is didactic).
This is something I've long wanted to write about, but it seemed difficult to do so without coming off as vain. But I know Bitchphd would want me to soldier on anyway, so what the fuck. There's this famous quote from Joan Collins that the problem with beauty is that its like being born rich and getting poorer. I sometimes wonder if aging is going to cause people to treat me radically differently than they do now, and if I'll be able to deal with it.
That is, I've always been an attractive person. I've had more than one person tell me that I'm the most beautiful person they've ever seen in real life, rather than in a movie or whatever. I've never been in the position of wanting to have sex with some particular person and thinking he would turn me down. I've never gotten dumped, or even turned down for sex. (Well, I'm sure there must have been at least one occasion when I wanted to have sex and my long-term partner at the time felt sick or something, but I honestly can't remember any). And I was going to say that everyone is nice to me, and in a way that's true. I assume that random strangers are going to stop and help me out if I'm having some problem. My friends and I used to call this the girl on the bus situation. When I was in my 20s, I was certain that if I had to get on a city bus without any money and a sad story, then either the driver would take pity on me or someone on the bus would pay.
But then, a lot of fucked up stuff has happened to me, too, and maybe it wouldn't have happened if I looked different? But getting raped or having someone stalk you isn't a compliment, and women of every sort have problems with sexual violence, so that's probably wrong. Still, I know with a lot of the particular situations that it was about how I looked. I mean, why a random acquaintance would get obsessed with me and painstakingly photoshop my face onto some Ingres nude and send it to me. (Seriously, dude, what the fuck?)
I've been pleased to age out of the level of street harassment I used to face, although I haven't actually been able to put it to the test in a while. (My record was 15 sexual comments from strangers in a single day. To be fair, I had to walk past a construction site.) Already I'm not sexually attractive to people much younger than me, I assume, but I don't really want to have sex with them, so I don't care much. And on the other hand, my mom is still a beautiful woman. But still, at some point in my life I'll become invisible to people. Will they treat me way differently? Will it freak me out more than if I'd always just been a normal, averagely attractive person?
And the funny thing is that I was horribly critical of my appearance when I was younger, and when I look at pictures from then I just think, I should have worn short shorts a lot more. I didn't have any cellulite until I was 31! And obviously when I'm 80 I'm going to look at pictures of myself from now and think, what was I thinking, I looked great. Nonetheless I am unable to translate this into a consistently positive self-image. This might seem contradicted by the earlier part of this post, but I live in a crazy world in which I oscillate between thinking I look beautiful and thinking I'm repulsively fat and awful with terrible skin. My sister is amazingly beautiful, and she's the same way. She hates her too-muscular calves, for example (?!). Anyway, this isn't meant to be all, "I wonder what the poor bunnies are doing this year" in a Bugs Bunny voice, but it is a weird thing to think about.
I can't remember how to put things below the fold, but if someone else wants to, then by all means do.
Tonight, I've been studiously untagging photos of me on Facebook. There's nothing scandalous. I just feel a bit better keeping it to a minimum of images that are out there linked to me semi-publicly.
I was surprised to meet some resistance to this policy from a friend who never untags. Internet people, please tell me we're all studiously untagging photos. Or tell me I'm vain. Just tell me something.
I'm realizing this post I'm about to write may be kind of disgusting. Please don't be too grossed out. It's about snot, (of which I currently have buckets). I am the type of sneezer that can fill my hands, when they are cupped around my nose and mouth to protect the rest of the world.
So in school, this was a big problem. I remember it most vividly in middle school. I'd sneeze and fill up my hands, and my nose and mouth would be equally coated, and there was no way to get out of the classroom. I couldn't raise my hand and ask to leave. I couldn't even open the door. I remember sort of rushing towards the door and getting someone to open it for me, and finding the whole thing embarrassing.
So I launched a campaign to master sneezing. And master it I did! I learned the mechanism fully, and how to disengage it. Most of it centers around disrupting the breath you inhale immediately before you blow rockets. So beginners will try holding their nose to prevent that breath. The problem is that your diaphragm still contorts as though you're inhaling, which makes your lungs feel like they're being sucked inside out. But it's very tidy.
From there I learned how to feel it earlier, and disrupt the tickles leading up to the deep breath. This is what I currently employ.
But there was one other technique, which totally, totally works. You can't sneeze with your eyes open. So just hold your eyes open. The thing is, it's very hard to actually hold your eyelids up. They're very hard to grip, and they don't have far to travel to close your eyes. But if you really do grip them, near the eyelashes, and pin them up against your brow, then you'll kind of shudder, but you will not sneeze.
What's the saddest song?
The inimitable eekbeat brought to my attention this book review. Specifically, this bit:
In one of the eye-opening studies cited in Lise Eliot's masterful new book on gender and the brain, mothers brought their 11-month-olds to a lab so the babies could crawl down a carpeted slope. The moms pushed a button to change the slope's angle based on what they thought their children could handle. And then the babies were tested to see how steep a slope they could navigate.
Girls and boys proved equally adept at crawling and risk-taking: On their own, they tried and conquered the same slopes. But the mothers of the girls -- unlike the mothers of the boys -- underestimated their daughters' aptitude by a significant margin.
I don't have any immediate reaction other than "Hmph, that's troubling", but I figured some of you weirdo child-raising types might have some insight here.