I totally enjoyed You're Wrong About's episode on Vanessa Williams (and in fact the whole podcast is great and it's our friend Michael Hobbes from Rotten In Denmark, and Sarah Marshall who is so smart and wry, and whose understated pronouncements just make me laugh and laugh.)
Anyway, near the end of the second episode, they are reflecting on the demise of the Miss America Pageant since 1984. They speculate how Americans still love judging women on their looks, so Miss America pageants could have gone full sleaze and gotten huge ratings, but instead they were so invested in the veneer of respectability that they just became utterly boring and irrelevant.
From there, they segue into the justification for the bikini competition - that a fit body reflects a fit mind or some bullshit - and then have the following bit (not specifically about the pageant):
Michael: Also there's something interesting, too, about how sort of good looking women are not supposed to talk about how hard they work for it. Right. Like women are supposed to talk about, like I love pizza and I eat burgers all the time and I don't really do any exercise.
Sarah: I'm not suffering. Don't worry about your complicity in this industry is not exactly causing me to have an eating disorder. Yeah, fine. Yeah.
Michael: To lean into the sort of the work that it takes to maintain American Beauty standards would get like pretty uncomfortable. Oh yeah.
It's not exactly invisible how hard people work to look good, but it's something that society is incredibly conflicted about - it's better to have good genes, too much obsession means something about your superficiality or lack of character, not enough work means something else, etc. Young people are definitely supposed to be naturally beautiful. As you age, you're allowed to either work harder or be more indifferent.
But this bit still pulled me up short and made me think: If we properly and widely understood the time it takes women to look (conventionally) great, then there might be an opposite sort of admiration towards time saved by being slob. When you sink a lot of time into a commitment, you often have a love/hate relationship with the idea that other people spend no time on it whatsoever.
What I'm proposing is that the time it takes to look great is still invisible enough that there's no admiration for the time saved by skipping all that. There's maybe a little acknowledgement of the time saved, but it doesn't hold much positive value. If you said, "Well, at least she gets out the door quickly in the morning," it sounds like a back-handed compliment, not like "damn, I could use a few more hours in the week" whereas if you say, "yeah, but their kids aren't signed up for baseball, ugh" it clearly means you are jealous of the time that is freed up.
In reality, most of us are picking-and-choosing which time-sucks are important to us. Blow dry your hair? Make up? Put some time into fitness and food due to vanity? Shave your arms and legs? Etc. If you skip steps and it's noticeable, it's usually attributed to ignorance, negligence, or laziness. And maybe indifference.The positive benefit of time savings are generally not admired.
(I've been discussing leg-shaving with the eldest, lately. She asks a lot of questions about how people do it, and what I did in high school, and my answers keep going back to, "Well...I just found it so boring. I think people do X, Y, and Z, with N frequency, but I just couldn't.")
Twice this semester I've had to have conversations to ascertain that a student cheated and that they can't possibly connect the problem to the correct answer on their paper. (Both times were under the pretext of oral exam, which non-cheating students also took, to supplement taking a remote exam.)
There is basically no such thing as a good conversation where you bust someone for cheating. It's horribly uncomfortable. I hate springing it on the student, I hate how they spin into increasingly far-fetched lies or sob stories or whatever, and I also know that they brought this whole thing on themselves. I resent that they cheated in the first place and created this whole problem and then were blindsided by how excruciating it was to get busted.
I guess the goal of the conversation is:
1. Convince yourself that they did in fact cheat
2. Let them know that you know, and what the consequence will be.
There's no way to design a conversation with any sort of movie-plot learning-of-lessons or show-of-remorse or re-establishing connection at the end, or anything. The only thing I can think to do is to keep the conversation on a shorter leash, because when I wing it, it is excruciating. (I have a tendency to let students ramble in these situations. Give them enough rope to let them hang themselves over and over and over.)
In the fall, I gave online tests and quizzes. I could tell when they were cheating but I felt like I'd created a situation with a huge available temptation. This semester, exams were face-to-face. A lot of students just took it on the chin and failed. To cheat, you had to proactively work with me to arrange a remote test and supplemental zoom oral exam. That's a lot worse, in my book. I guess premeditated cheating pisses me off more than opportunistic cheating.
Mossy Chossy sends in this link, Reckoning with Foucault's alleged sexual abuse of boys in Tunisia. It's not too long, and incredibly measured in tone, given the fury that must underlie it.
Although he is the most influential theorist and critic of the relationship between sexuality, knowledge, and power in the West, Foucault completely disregarded the colonial subject from his writings on sexuality. And yet, I believe now that Foucault's sexual abuse of Tunisian boys largely informed and shaped his criticism of the notions of normal or natural sex and children's sexuality. After all, dehumanisation and exploitation in the (neo)colony have always been central to Western academia.
FOUCAULT IS CANCELLED!
To be clear, I am not calling for Foucault to be "cancelled" or the reports of his child sexual abuse to be used to attack his scholarly work and academia in general.
But it is important to acknowledge that Foucault's monstrosity had permanently changed the lives of many faceless and nameless Tunisian children and caused rippling traumatic effects in their lives. Reckoning with his sex abuse in Tunisia means that social justice may finally be brought to his victims.
Oh. Well, I told you he was measured.
I'm currently reading "A Billion for Boris" to the kids, and she uses the phrase "a flug in the rug" which a cursory internet tells me nothing about. Later in that chapter, she "un-flugs the rug", so it is not a typo. From context, I assume it means there was a ripple in the rug that she smooths out.
The book (the sequel to Freaky Friday) holds up decently well? It's funny, has a meandering plot, and they live in New York City in 1974. I kind of just enjoy exposing the Giblets to random 20th century settings. I feel like there was a whole genre of books I read as a kid, where kids lived in NYC, and had friends down the hall, or a couple floors above them, and went to schools with names PS 427 or whatever, but I don't know if it's quite as in vogue as a setting anymore.
(We did read High Rise Mystery after it was recommended here, which takes place in London, and there is regular apartment life represented there, although not much of the larger city. That book made our fragile Geeblets absolutely climb the walls with the suspense and tension of solving a murder. We don't do suspense very well.)
On a different note, we've been watching Making It with the kids, and Amy Poehler had a bit where she used the phrase "heebie-geebies" a few times, and now Hawaii has absorbed it in that over-use way that kids do when they get a new phrase. It definitely snags my attention each time.
This fundraiser for Jesus McQueen's daughters was sent in to me. Briefly:
A leaky roof destroyed ceilings, walls, and floors, as well as a tragically long list of possessions and family mementos. The entire property had gone to seed in a jungle of blackberries and bamboo.
Sadly, the amount of money it would take to fix the house enough for the daughters to keep and live in is nearly impossible. But a massive community effort is already underway, spearheaded by Barb (James' ex-wife and mother of their daughters), to get it in good enough shape to sell it for a price that'll give the daughters the nest egg James would have wanted for them.
Anyway, if you're moved to donate, it sounds like it would be appreciated.
I think some here were skeptical when those claims were being made (no link), but at least a few said it really was right around the corner.
I don't think we can blame the pandemic much, as I'm not sure what in the process that would have slowed down. Not programming or road testing, in particular.
Heebie's take: I didn't know that Tesla has been letting people put money down on fully self-driving cars for a number of years now. You'd think those should have a money-back expiration option after some length of time, although I suppose that's not the GoFundMe model.
Since Minivet is explicitly asking for predictions, here's my uninformed guess. Can self-driving cars of 2021 operate divinely well in a fantasy city populated with only other self-driving cars? Sure, I can believe that. Can they integrate into the real world? My guess is that the people making the lofty predictions never really understood the real world they'd need to integrate into, but now they mostly realize that they really, really didn't.
A lot of what I remember from the former discussions came from Sifu, and how driving requires a lot of things that our brains do spectacularly well in a nanosecond, such as evaluating whether a dog is noticing a squirrel, or that a pedestrian is about to take a step, or that a plastic bag blowing across the road is not a problem.
The other thing that I remember is the idea that the first FSD cars would be in controlled environments along a marked path - golf carts at the retirement community, for example. My suspicion is that for FSD cars to operate in Peoria, there will need to be a modified environment eventually that forms a bubble with its own rules - marked tracks with signs posted with rules. And then eventually, the bubble would expand and the rules would somewhat relax, and over time connectivity would spring up - connecting hubs quickly, filling in the gaps at a glacial pace. I mean, there still isn't reliable cell phone coverage or wifi service once you're anywhere very rural.
I'm going to say that modified environments will be here by 2030 and that gaps will be filled in by 2060? (The other consideration is if everyone's lost interest.)
This is intended to be our system for checking in on imaginary friends, so that we know whether or not to be concerned if you go offline for a while. There is no way it could function as that sentence implies, but it's still nice to have a thread.