Holy Crap is this guy good! His “realistic” Pokemon sculpts are amazing.
Dean Wesley Smith has written a great article about keeping your writing going that everyone who wants to be a writer should take the time out and read today. Like most things, succeeding at writing is about planning, hard work and perseverance, and the start of a new year is the start of a new chance at making it work!
Some basics to start:
Any business and production plan you decide to set up for yourself is made up of goals that can be attained with work.
The focus of the goals you set is to attain a dream.
A dream is what you work toward with a series of goals.
Opiliones (which we call Daddy Long Legs in my neck of the woods) are a species that most people mistake for spiders, but which are actually their own whole classification of insects. They are a fascinating (if creepy looking) genus that have a number of odd habits, including doing this…
Mathew Cobb has more videos and a great writeup on what makes Opiliones different from spiders on which you can find here. In the links below that article, I also found a great Flickr page with images of Harvestmen from around the world, some of which are really really freaky looking. (There are like 10,000 different species!) My personal favorite is probably the “Jason Mask” Harvestman, which looks like it walked off the set of “Jason vs. The Thing” and would be terrifying if it wasn’t so tiny.
P.S. If you need something to keep you awake at night, watch this. 😉
So, what did people read on my blog in 2013? Here’s the list of the twenty most read posts. (my own thoughts follow)
Naturally, since the blog is often focussed on writing, my Keys to Writing a Good Story was the top read post. What was more surprising was that Naruto’s possible homosexual ending also got a lot of attention, although given that this has truly been the year when gay culture reached new levels of acceptance in North America maybe that shouldn’t be such a shock. (Although in truth, I think Kishimoto is just playing the crowd with statements like that to keep his numbers up as he rockets toward the manga’s finale in 2014.)
Korean dramas are also very popular online right now, so people are always looking for good ones to watch and so they checked out my selections. Neil Degresse Tyson’s throwdown was also great watching, so it doesn’t surprise me that people found their way to it through my site.
As for the rest, it’s heartening to see so many people interested in Writing Audio Drama and the Three Kingdoms eBooks, since neither usually get much attention in popular culture. I’m also happy to see so many people found my “In Defense of the Male Miniskirt” essay interesting, although it didn’t garner much commentary.
I mostly do this blog for fun as the whim strikes me, but I’m glad to see some people find it interesting enough to visit and read about what goes through my head. (You poor, poor folk!) Seeing that people do read it inspires me, and I’ll try to post more interesting articles in 2014!
Happy New Year!
I want to wish all of my readers a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays! 2013 has been another interesting year, and I’m sure 2014 won’t be boring or quiet either. I hope all of you have a great holiday, and enjoy good times, wealth and health in the coming year!
Words have power. Power given to them by their social and cultural context.
Different words have different strengths and will produce different reactions from people; for example, if I call someone a “dummy” they generally won’t get too upset, but if I call them a “f*cking idiot” there’s going to be a strong reaction from most people. The reason these two words produce different results is because of how often they’re used and when they’re used. The receiver understands the weight these words carry, and reacts according to that weight.
But, what if I call my friend a “f*cking idiot” all the time? Eventually, that term will lose its strong meaning and come to have a weaker meaning similar to “dummy”. This is just human nature- we get used to hearing something and slowly it becomes part of the normal background noise of life. It loses power, and even its meaning.
This is bad because it means when I need to use the stronger term to emphasize that something important is happening or to really make myself understood it isn’t there anymore. I’ve used it. Just like The Boy Who Cried Wolf- when he sounded the alarm too many times, people stopped coming or caring, and when he really needed it, it was too late.
And this is what’s happened to the word “misogyny”.
Misogyny, which literally means “hatred of women”, used to be a very powerful word in the feminist arsenal. And rightly so- it was used to describe cases of extreme sexism where the hatred of women was so strong it was violent or abusive. To call someone a misogynist was equal to calling them a Nazi, and saying they were the lowest type of human being, bordering on evil. If a woman cried “misogyny!” and pointed at something, other women listened, and it was like a battle cry for the feminist cause.
It was a rare word, a powerful word, and one which drew attention to great injustice.
Sadly, that is no longer the case.
Today on my social media pages, it’s almost a strange day when I don’t see the word “misogyny” somewhere in my feed. My more feminist friends are constantly linking to articles with that word liberally used within them, and the internet is filled with articles using it. (1.3 million hits on Google, and counting!) As a result, the word is very rapidly going from “hatred of women” to mean “stuff some women don’t like” in the popular internet consciousness.
We have a whole generation of young women growing up thinking the words Sexism (favouritism or preference towards one sex) and Misogyny are the same words, when they’re not at all. The majority of the discrimination women face is Sexist, not Misogynist, because it’s not coming from a place of hatred so much as a place of unfair attitudes towards gender roles in society. A toy maker or TV show producer who chooses only to target a male audience is being sexist, they’re giving preference to one sex, they’re not being misogynist. (Unless you can show they have made clear statements that they in some way actively hate or dislike women or girls.) And, calling them Misogynist does more harm than good because it dilutes the meaning of the word even further.
But, who cares, right? They’re being unfair, and it doesn’t matter what word we use to target them!
The problem is, it does matter.
The more you use it, the more it fades into the background, and the easier it becomes for people to just ignore. It takes on a cultural meaning of “noisy feminist stuff” and no longer gains the attention it deserves when it’s used in a proper context. And this is a shame, because it’s a strong word and a good word to have when fighting for social justice, but only if it’s properly used.
After all, when it loses all meaning, who will come when the cry is made?
Tonight, I attended a lecture at my local community center by a local historian on the largely ignored Eastern half of the city of London, Ontario. My city, as I learned tonight, was originally two- London Proper (what I know as Downtown London) and East London (where the factories and working class people lived). These two halves, divided by Adelaide Street, would amalgamate at the dawn of the 20th century into a single city, but those lines still exist over a hundred years later in class and social divides.
In my city, we have the term East of Adelaide (EOA), which basically means “the bad side of town”, although it’s not technically completely accurate anymore. I grew up EOA, and although I never really felt the divide much at the time, now looking back I can see it in my own youthful experiences and how that shaped my attitudes towards class in some ways. I was one of the lucky ones, since my father was a doctor, as I still had a very middle class existence, but many I knew weren’t so lucky.
Regardless, what I found precious about tonight was the fact that for one of the first times in my life I actually learned about the history of the place where I grew up. It wasn’t that I avoided it, or that I didn’t want to know- it was that there simply wasn’t anyone available to teach it to me. My parents grew up in other cities, and moved here shortly after I was born, so they couldn’t teach me what they didn’t know. (A common situation in many highly mobile Canadian families.) So, how was I supposed to learn it?
The obvious answer should be school, but the sad truth is that school doesn’t teach local history either. They teach world history, national history and provincial history, but almost nothing about the history of the place where the school sits.
And that, is wrong.
Oh, I know why it happens. Here in Canada we’re a young country, and we have this odd Canadian provincial mentality that nothing Canadian really matters much in the greater scheme of things. We’re only three hundred years old, or so, and we haven’t had many wars, or political upheavals, and nothing really all that exciting happened, and Canadians history is boring, so why should we really bother teaching it? Especially local history, right? What good is that?
Except that’s all wrong- all of it. That’s the stupid mentality we’ve developed because of the way we’re taught history, and that creeping sense of inferiority we have to the UK and the United States who look so much cooler and bigger and cooler from where we sit. The truth is that Canadian history is filled with pirates, adventurers, explorers, entrepreneurs, political leaders, sports heroes, uprisings, cultural battles, wars, sex, violence, and everything else that makes history exciting.
We just don’t teach that stuff, because it’s somehow not proper. It’s like the stuff we’re embarrassed about, and we don’t want people having the wrong idea that we might be descended from THOSE people.
And that leaks down to the attitude about local history as well, which has this air of being nothing special or important. I mean, unless you live in Montreal or Quebec, that’s history, but the rest of Canada? Who cares, right?
Well, we should care.
It’s a little bit like not knowing your parents or your family history. The place we grow up shapes us and defines us in a thousand little ways, and unless we know and understand that place and where it came from, we will never truly understand ourselves. We need that knowledge as we go out into the world, because it lets us know who we are, and gives us a center to find our way.
Local history should be taught in schools, and it should be taught in a way which is no less important or detailed than the other “greater” types of history. If anything, it’s more important, exactly because it’s part of the lives of the students learning it.
Of course, I can already hear people sayings- “but local kids won’t want to learn that!”
To this, I reply with what the historian told me tonight. She told me about casually mentioning her area of study to a bunch of teenage boys she knew, and her being shocked when they actually wanted to sit there and learn everything she could tell them about where they grew up. They wanted to know where they came from, and were more than willing to pay attention if there was someone to teach it to them and answer their questions.
And why shouldn’t they? It was history that actually mattered to THEM.
It might not be important to anyone else, but it was their lives, their roots she was talking about, the place they lived in every day, and the questions that they’d always had but never thought to ask about their real world.
We talk all the time about disillusioned young people, voter turnout being down and people not being engaged in civic politics, but we need to ask the question- why should they be? If we don’t teach them to know and love the place where they grew up, how can they be anything but unattached and uncaring? Why should they care when they have no sense of connection to their homes, neighbourhoods and towns? A place is its people, but it’s also its history.
Even if the school boards just gave one semester of one year to local history, it could make a huge difference in the lives of many kids. Yes, not everyone will want to learn it or appreciate it, but don’t they deserve the chance to choose?
This short film makes me think a bit of the Alex Ross illustrated series Marvels that came out in 1994- a citizen’s eye view of what it’s like to live in a world with superbeings and how terrifying that would be.
Well, this is sufficiently terrifying.
If Fukushima had a full meltdown with radiation spewing into the air, I’m not sure what I’d do. Then again, I’m not sure what any of us could do except try not to be downwind.
So much for the feminist ideal that the only gender differences are learned.
Scientists have drawn on nearly 1,000 brain scans to confirm what many had surely concluded long ago: that stark differences exist in the wiring of male and female brains.
Maps of neural circuitry showed that on average women’s brains were highly connected across the left and right hemispheres, in contrast to men’s brains, where the connections were typically stronger between the front and back regions.