improperlyhuman: (dark Mulder)
Squated one hundred and ten pounds this evening. I increased weight for all three of my exercises. I don't see how I'm going to squat much more than this because I'm putting an uncomfortable amount of pressure on my wrists to stabilize that weight, and I'm fairly sure my grip is proper. I got a copy of Starting Strength from the library. I have weak, puny wrists.

Saw therapist today and she surprised me a bit by focusing on breathing exercises that are supposed to help me sleep. I was quite worried about my ability to stick with these exercises because focusing on my body is so boring. The only way I can exercise for more than 5 minutes at a stretch is simultaneously watching videos or listening to music. I gots to start sleeping or my lifting will suffer.

Today was supposed to be grocery day, but I didn't want to reschedule my therapy appointment or go grocery shopping on a lifting day anyhow. I'm planning on going tomorrow though I know I won't have the energy for it. Haven't decided whether I'll take paratransit or not, but if I do, let's hope I remember to ask for a taxi driver that will not be playing the damned radio.

Right now I am downloading Tails, a security-based OS. It runs from a live USB and leaves no trace on the hard drive, so I can use it to access Google Docs and have secure conversations. There is a similar OS that is meant to be installed to hard drive. Can't remember the name at the moment. I want it on my other partition, but I'm afraid I'll install to the wrong partition again and overwrite Debian.
I'm going back to a highish carb diet. I don't feel satisfied eating all these damned legumes, and that just makes me eat more than I would otherwise. And cooking potfuls of beans and lentils is a pain in the ass anyhow. I miss the ease of putting a yam or baked potato in the oven. I'll eat tofu for protein, and I don't think I need 80-90 g of protein per day anyhow.

I've been reading a lesbian novel I bought before the fire. It's called We Too Are Drifting, and damn, is that title ever accurate. Very dry book, not much happening, and what is happening is only palely illustrated by the characters actions. Their actions: so much talking without saying anything and sitting around not doing anything, gives it a very bourgeosie flavor.

The protagonist, Jan, seems to have a lover she doesn't much care about and is just passively going along with the relationship. Jaded and can't focus on her art. 84 pages in, Jan has had tea with someone she is interested in and is still not being forthright with the lover. Lots of ambiguous looks and lighting cigarettes and sipping brandy throughout the story. Who are these people who drink hard alcohol every day.
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I want to order a box of organic, non-gmo brown lentils, but they are expensive. Five bucks for 1.25 lbs.

I thought I could get away with increasing my protein next month, but I need to do it now. I've been feeling tired around my weightlifting workouts. I deadlifted 80 measly lbs. today. Can't weight to get back to my 120.

I have to repeat last week's overhead press weight because I'm not strong enough to lift 5 extra lbs. over my head.

I'm thinking there's a good chance I'll never get the body I want and will just be bulky.

In the third of fourth chapter of Prince Lestat, vampiric doctors offer Lestat the opportunity to ejaculate (which he hasn't done for over two hundred years). They also offer him a female doctor, who is apparently a prostitute in their warped little vampire biology research organization, sitting half-naked in a box with one-way mirrors for walls. I couldn't deal and stopped reading at that point. Ann Rice has some iffy, borderline misogynistic shit going on in her books.

So I did an Internet search on misogyny in Ann Rice's novels. Came across a tumblr on which someone was discussing her vampire novels as literary representation of bisexuality. Whut??? They're freaking vampires, they don't have sex, and they don't really have romantic relationships either. The novels can be interpreted as having an air of homoeroticism at points, but I don't see the bisexuality at all, and I've read them all except for Merrick and Prince Lestat. There's love for males, but little for females.

Ann Rice still calling Lestat "brat prince." It's old and getting on my nerves.

Now that I'm older, I can see the flaws in her writing. Or maybe this book is worse than the others.

I got my rent reduced to nothing! Still can't afford my bills.

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Yet another vet benefit. A bunch of restaurants were giving out free meals for Veteran's Day yesterday. I wanted so badly to go the pizzeria because I knew that they have vegan pizza, but the pies they were giving out to vets weren't vegan :( The vet pies didn't even really have any veggies on them, so trying to veganize them by removing the flesh and bovine rape products would have yielded an empty pie. No goddamn veggies, that's SAD right there. Then I found out that the crust offered had chicken ova in it. Game over.

I probably could have gotten something vegan from Olive Garden, but I wasn't in the mood for pasta. That wet, glutinous texture—maybe I'll never be in the mood for pasta again.

I decided to go to Sizzler for dinner (for anyone who isn't familiar, it is a sit-down restaurant with a very SAD-oriented menu, specializing in huge slabs of flesh). I took a refreshing ride down to the south part of town (the ghetto part of town, which alarmed me a bit when I remembered it because it was after dark). I needed the exercise because I'd eaten too many bags of chickpea chips for lunch.

The vet special was slaughtered cow, slaughtered chicken, or slaughtered shrimp with one side dish and a drink. I'd hoped to get a plate full of veggies, but I could see that that wasn't in the cards. I asked if I could have just a side dish and the staff made a biggish deal about it. First, the person at the register went to ask someone if I could have just a side dish. Then she came back and said they couldn't give me that because she needed to ring up the whole meal. I asked her whether she couldn't ring up the whole meal and just leave the flesh off of the plate, and she said yes. Duh. Why's it such a big deal to give out /less/ food? That would save them time, effort, and money.

The person at the cash register gave me a weird look and asked me whether I'd already eaten. I said that I didn't eat meat. Finally, she gave me silverware and the receipt (which had errors on it), and I chose a table. My waitress came over shortly, cleared up the errors in short order (see what I did there), and my food was out shortly. I'd ordered the baked potato with chives (having overcome the urge to order fries). I don't usually have a drink other than water when I eat out, but I went with the raspberry tea (with the small hope that it would be unsweetened) since it came with the meal. The waitress also offered me the choice of cheese-something or a dinner roll; I chose the latter.

Of course the tea was too sweet (and there was waaayyyy too much of it). I took ten or less sips. I finished off my potato and dinner roll (hoping that it was vegan but knowing that it probably wasn't. The sheer number of foods to which people add unnecessary animal products is amazing.). After a bit of walking around the place half-blind (without my glasses, I mean), I found and used the bathroom, then left. On my way back to the shelter, I bought a delicious pumpkin pecan muffin ($2.99), which is made by a local vegan bakery. Vegan and gluten-free. Joy. The topping was a bit too sweet, though. I also paid two bucks for a jar of organic (and oil-free!) pizza sauce and $0.85 for some bulk spinach (the two of which will be added to some Afghan bread) for today's lunch and dinner (wannabe pizza).

Ok, I just had lunch. As I'd feared, the pizza sauce was too sweet.

Few anti-civ books are available in this library system. Day before yesterday, I finished reading /After Civilization: Humanity's Next Great Adventure/. The book was too poetic for my taste. The most important thing I got from it was the idea that civilization doesn't have to end altogether, that Earth could handle a few of us being wasteful, pollutive, and resource-greedy, just not a lot of us. Connected to that is the idea that made the greatest effect upon me: that simply individually abandoning civilization is a helpful act. I have been focusing on how attached people are to civilization, and forgetting that many of them are also fed up with (not to mention literally sick of and dying from) a lot of it. Rather than trying to persuade them (which I never do anyhow, but should be prepared to do) with broad political arguments, ecological arguments, or arguments about the Asian wage slaves who make our cheap crap, what about appealing to concerns closer to home?

As I thought about how our individually abandoning civilization could affect any significant change, I thought about all the people who are fed up with working for others. Could that eventually drive them to walk away from civ? The more jobs that are abandoned, the less able civ is to continue, existing, as it does, on the backs of workers.

The author spends a lot of the book discussing more modern tribal forms (in fact, that's the "next great adventure" to which the author suggests we escape), such as the circus. These created tribes (which contrast with tribes into which members are born, ethnic tribes) will remove whole groups of people from civilization at once. This tribal formation is another way in which the individual abandonment can snowball into a greater effect.

Damn, I'm sleepy all of a sudden.

I just changed floors because the trashy homeless (as contrasted with us non-trashy homeless) have made the library's top floor their own little space. It seems that security doesn't often venture that far up the stairs, and the trashy homeless have whole conversations and play music loudly up there.

When I left, someone was snoring.

Hope this blog post continues to be coherent.

I also recently finished reading /Acting White: The History of A Slur/. Poorly composed, badly in need of an editor, and too long, this book also had just one or two impressive ideas (modern non-fiction is rarely edifying). Although the author traces the origin of the "acting white" accusation back to /Uncle Tom's Cabin/, he also marks the rise of the Black Panther Party and its promotion of racial pride as a major turning point, the point at which racial group membership became a more important identity than individual identity. It has always puzzled me why ADOAS seem to value racial group membership so much, so this explanation was very interesting to me.

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This is the first adult French novel I read, back in 2012 when I was living in my car in Sacramento.  The main character is a scientist who discovers a way to shrink and expand matter: decreasing and increasing inter-atomic distances. I believe the procedure came to be called fleurisation.

The scientist leaves the city and sets up an elaborately secretive and secure home/laboratory out in the middle of nowhere to develop and test his idea. Early in the book, he talks about how ridiculous people are and wanting to be away from them. He refuses to read the work of his colleagues, preferring to keep his ideas pure.

After successfully applying fleurisation to non-human animals, then a desperate little person, and then an army that subsequently uses its size advantage to win battles, the scientist turns to his next challenge: General society.

Terrible idea. We all know how nerds fare in the social realm. They just don't understand people. They expect them to behave according to predictable principles like the physical world does, expect them to have their own nerdy, asocial motivations and introverted temperament. They never take sufficient account of emotional factors. The scientist doesn't release his invention to benefit or harm anyone. He does it out of pure curiosity.

So fleurisation becomes commercially available to the public. It becomes hugely popular, far more popular than the scientist had anticipated, more popular than he thinks is prudent. Huge shifts in the structure of society come about, a society made up of people who expand themselves to float up amongst the clouds and shrink themselves to invisibly hitch free rides on buses.

Of course the beauty of the title (despite the misogynistic reference to all of humanity with the word "man") is the double entendre: fleurisation reveals that people are not only biologically elastic, but also socially and psychologically elastic, as evidenced by their rapid and enthusiastic adoption of a major technological change and subsequent sociological upheaval. An elasticity the scientist did not foresee. What was just an experiment to him becomes a new way of life to everyone else.

Nearly everyone elects to undergo fleurisation. Because their new sizes afford them some sort of immunity to viruses and bacteria, everyone who has not undergone the procedure comes to be seen as a health threat. The government rounds them up and houses them in a camp against their will.

The scientist steadfastly refuses to undergo the procedure, and so, in a lovely twist of irony, ends up imprisoned in the camp birthed by his own misguided social experiment. And there he dies, several years later in his old age, still stubbornly in his unchanged body.

I love this book's plot and totally identify with the scientist (I pretty much always identify with the scientist in science fiction). What I love even more than that beautifully metaphorical title and the contrast between the scientist's disdain towards humanity and decision to experiment socially is the artfulness and fidelity with which the book reflects actual technological shifts in society: what is novel, dangerous, grotesque, and bizarre to the current generation becomes mundane to subsequent generations, no matter how extreme the departure from former conditions.

Yet another interpretation of the elasticity theme is technology itself: it grows, changes, fulfills new wants and needs while its original purposes are abandoned. It outlives its inventors and may bring about their undoing.
improperlyhuman: screenshot of Apocalypse from X-Men: The Animated Series (apocalypse)
I've been trying for weeks now to finally dig in and read more than a paragraph of Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman rather than letting it lie unused on my floor until it's due at the library. The six-hour download time of the boot repair utility I need to safely remove Windows crap from my laptop gave me just the motivation I need.

I can't read this book for the same reason I can't read other modern non-fiction. It is typical low-content, pop science trash made to look shiny with a million ambiguous references to a million different outside research studies. In contrast, I need straight-forward

1. here's my thesis
2. here's my argument for it.

Before I gave up on this book, I came across an idea that has begun to irritate me lately: the falsehood that there is some sort of contradiction between reason, or rationality, and emotion. Emotions are not unreasonable! They ALWAYS occur for some reason or another (or several). They are never random; I doubt that any living thing is even capable of random emotions except under the influence of medical problems.

Example:Somebody comes at you with a gun. You decide that your safety is therefore in danger, so you feel fear and begin to act on it. That's a reasoning process leading up to an emotion. Completely rational. I know that some people would probably say that no thought was involved, only instinct. However, recognizing a gun and knowing what can be done with it requires more than mere instinct. Walk up to an infant with a gun and the kid will not know enough to be afraid. Same with anyone of any age who is not familiar with guns.

I don't quite understand the reasoning behind this idea that emotions are irrational. Emotions may flare up without much conscious thought, but there are horrendously fallacious conscious reasoning processes that result from little thought as well. Snap judgments can come as fast as emotional outbursts. Emotions may provoke undesirable actions; but so do conscious lines of reasoning. The reasons for emotions may be unconscious or subconscious, but so are some of the premises of conscious reasoning.

I will go so far as to say that nothing that any living creature does is irrational. It's not even possible to do, think, or feel things without reason.
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After eight months of waiting, I finally had my neurology appointment three days ago. I thought my appointment was with the Autism Clinic, but, apparently, it was just a generic neurology appointment.

The paperwork they sent me is still in storage, so I decided to show up early to fill it out again. I had to get on the bus at six thirty in the morning. That's not long after the time I usually go to bed. I hadn't slept all night, and the alarm went off as I was finally dozing off. I was unhappy to find the bus half full of commuters. During the ride, I began to develop a migraine. This surprised me because the sun hadn't risen and I hadn't done much yet.

I got off in downtown Sacramento and rode my bicycle the two miles to the clinic. After locking up the bike, I walked a couple blocks to a grocery store to round up some kind of second breakfast. I had a bunch of granola/energy bars, which I knew was a bad idea because of all the sugar, especially now that I've had almost no processed sugar in the past month. It ended up having an effect on me as if it were a mild dose of caffeine. I was restless, but the migraine eventually killed that. I arrived at the office an hour early.

I saw three people before the doctor came in. First, the assistant took my vitals and medical history and gave me an autism questionnaire to fill out. Then came the social worker. She asked me about my neurological symptoms, my living situation, my financial situation, and my support network (I don't have one). I told her that I wasn't close to anyone in my family, and she assumed that I'd had a difficult childhood. I have, but my relatives and I just aren't compatible, I think. I told her that I was mainly there to be assessed for Asperger's Syndrome, and then she asked me about my education and those symptoms. An intermittent noise that reminded me of the CAT scan machine had started up while I'd been out in the waiting room, and, by this time, I was having pseudo-seizures because of it. Good. Finally, someone sees them.

The social worker asked me if I needed anything. I told her about my inability to afford eyeglasses, and she said that she'd look into it. After a bit, a nurse came in and gave me some brief cognitive tests. There were some bubbles connected in a pattern, and I had to complete the pattern. She showed (shewed?) me a picture of a three-dimensional shape and asked me to draw it. I had to name the three animals beneath that. At some point, she gave me a list of five items and asked me to remember them for later. She gave me a short list of numbers and asked me to repeat them back to her, backwards and forwards. She read me a list of letters and I had to slap the edge of the examination table each time I heard the letter "A". Then I had a few minutes to think of as many words as possible beginning with the letter "F," proper nouns excepted. Weird tests. Finally, I had to recite the five words I'd remembered, which I accomplished by creating a visual to represent them. Thanks to that visual, I remember them even
now: church, face, velvet, red...oh, I've forgotten the fifth.

An hour after my appointment time, the doctor came in. He didn't act the way I'd expected him to act. After I had that thought, I wondered why I'd expected him to act any particular way at all. I decided that it was the waiting: having waited so long for this appointment, I'd built it up in my mind to some extent. Imagined it too much. Well, the doctor was much more sedate than I'd imagined, his hair was shinier than I'd imagined, and so he looked better than his picture on the website. And his right shoelace was untied for the entirety of the time we spent together.

He asked me several of the same questions the social worker had asked me, which I found mildly frustrating. He asked me to describe my autistic symptoms. I got out two and stopped talking. He asked me if I was ok. I said that it was difficult think with the CAT scan noise going on. Why hadn't I brought my list of symptoms, to this of all appointments??? We talked about my migraines and he offered me some drugs to take for prevention. I declined. He said that he wanted me to have an MRI, then decided that he wanted to see my CAT scan results first because the CAT scan had been so thorough. He gave me a physical exam like the VA neurologist gave me, but a bit longer and some different tests. He put something under my nose and asked me what it smelled like. My brain was conking out a little bit, and I had to redo the part in which I touch my nose then bring the finger over to touch the tip of his finger because I'd missed his finger the first time. I didn't like when he rubbed something metal across the bottoms
of my bare feet.

He asked me if I'd had narrow interests as a child and I couldn't figure out how to answer so I said that I didn't know. He asked me several times if I was depressed. I said no. Then, I thought that my answer wasn't exactly true. I don't feel clinically depressed, but I've been having my moments of blueness. But I panicked and thought that he would try to dismiss my suspicions of ASD as depression. Well, whatever. He said that he would refer me to the neuropsychologist. I was confused because I thought that he was involved with the assessments himself. Why had I waited eight months for this? The social worker had said that the neuropsychologist had a long wait list. So I'm expecting that, in addition to the eight months I had to wait for this appointment, I'll have to wait another x months to get the actual ASD assessment. What in the hell.

So I'm waiting for that and I'm waiting for my audiology appointment and I'm waiting to get the results of my psychological assessment in Berkeley. In the meantime, I'm to get some blood work done for the neurologist, with whom I have another appointment in June. I'll be getting a "comprehensive metabolic panel," "thyroid stimulating hormone," and some other stuff I can't figure out the nature of.

After my appointment, I wandered around on my bike, trying and failing to remember where the library was. Bittersweet memories to be in Sacramento again. There were comic books on sale at the entrance to the library. I got about eight editions of the X-Men for two dollars. Then I went upstairs and selected some math books and fiction to check out. I got some Lovecraft, "Best Lesbian Romance 2012," "Best Lesbian Erotica 2011," and a random science fiction novel that I expect to dislike.

Back at home, I took a four-hour nap, then I went to WalMart and bought some notebooks, including a small one for the migraine diary the doctor asked me to keep. Didn't paper used to be cheaper at WalMart? Back at home, I read one of the stories from the lesbian romance volume. It was ok. I tried another but didn't finish it because it was about a baker and sugar and eroticizing dairy (rape cream). I started one more but didn't get past the second page because the lesbians had kids and drama from men they used to be with. Blah. I flipped through the book and saw a number of words that put me off: bitch, hoes, corset, Super fem, eyeliner, mascara, prom. Bunch of hetero bullshite. I wished that I had gotten another volume to try. I don't really want to start in on the lesbian erotica because I don't want to read about sex.
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I saw the VA neurologist this morning. About half the appointment consisted of her typing up notes about my symptoms. She said that it was unlikely that I was having seizures because my EEG, CAT scan, and the physical exam she gave me were normal. I don't know about that; I thought EEGs often gave false negative results. Whatever. She said she didn't know what was going on with me and that it didn't seem hazardous to my health, so there is nothing more to do.

She offered me some variants of the migraine medication I'd taken before, Imitrex. I declined.

The only thing I got out of this was a referral to a CBT program for my insomnia at the Oakland VA. Part of the reason I agreed to try this was sheer incredulity at the prospect that it might work. I've had insomnia on and off since like forever. My entire adult life. If ~six weeks of CBT puts a dent in that? Wow.

However. I hope that I won't be expected to do a lot of talking about the troubles I've had in my life. I hate that shit, and will refuse and end the treatment if it comes to that.

I got my mail while I was waiting for the VA shuttle early this morning. There was a book; Desert of The Heart, upon which the movie Desert Hearts (one of my favorites) is based. My bootleg copy of the film won't play, so I was looking up other downloads online and ended up on Amazon buying the book. I made it through some forty pages today, and it isn't nearly so charming as the movie. The dialogue is odd, a bit too poetic to be realistic, crisp to the point of stiffness and formality. Some of the author's metaphors don't make sense to me. I was a disappointed to see how many of the details were different, details that were rather dear to my heart, such as the setting (a ranch in the Nevada desert vs. a suburban house on the edge of the desert). The characters are far less likable so far, but that's partially down to the writing style, perhaps.

Also in the mail was a letter from the grad student who conducted my Asperger's assessment. She wrote that she'd tried to contact me again; again, my phone did not register her call at all. The clinician who supervises the neuropsych assessments has left for the holidays, and I cannot get my feedback session without the final report having been signed off on by this person. The student, in turn, will be on some sort of tour for internship interviews for the whole of January. Long story short, I won't get my damned results until the end of January/beginning of February at the earliest. Nice. Ok.

The way to deal with homelessness, the way I deal with it, at least, is to take things one day at a time. I try not to let myself look to the future too much. Today's view of tomorrow is distorted by yearning and dispair, but today is always clear, seen through the lens of practicality as it is. So goes this. I bury it. No more anticipation of my assessment results.

I haven't gotten a call about my apartment inspection, so it obviously isn't going to happen this week, and, I'll bet, won't happen until after Christmas, maybe not until January. Maybe it's the phone acting up again. The school is going to close for winter break tomorrow, so I'll be out in the cold for a while.

It is a bit surreal to see "LGBT" stuff up in a military establishment. There was a large poster sitting on an easel down the hallway from the cafeteria, announcing the VA's commitment to serving its "LGBT" members. Tacked to a corkboard next to the vending area in the main clinic was a rainbow-colored printout asking for input from "LGBT" veterans to be communicated to a social worker who is serving as some sort of liaison. An LGBT liaison! Crazy.

I remember when I filled out my enlistment paperwork, sometime around late 1999 or early 2000, there was a question asking if the enlistee was gay or lesbian. It had been lined out with a black marker, but the text was still visible. Half-assed implementation of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, although I hadn't known it at the time. I was only about 19 at the time and hadn't even heard the acronym DADT. 
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A volume entitled Chicana Feminisms: A Critical Reader has been lying on the rack at the front of the library ever since I began visiting this summer. I finally grabbed it today. I've been wondering how "Chicana Feminism" differs from feminism of any other variety. I didn't read much of it; it's boring as hell and written in the flowery, annoyingly subjective style particular to the humanities academy, seasoned with the irritating textual characteristics particular to academic feminism (text littered with "agency" and "praxis," the ambiguous packaging of multiple meanings into single words, as in "Literary (Re)Mappings: Autobiographical (Dis)placements by Chicana Writers," and awkward sentences in which abstract concepts are the subject of action verbs). 

It seems to be little more than a cultural studies reader, it's only claim to feminism reflected in the various and sundry experiences of womyn it details, and written from an unusually (and self-consciously, I think) subjective perspective at that; I was surprised to find that some of the chapters concern the experience of a single womon. I was thinking to myself, "what has this got to do with feminism?" And then I remembered my habit of thinking of feminism in terms of power structures and brainwashing and compromised bodily integrity artificiality and how to fix womyn's situations. I think of radical feminism as feminism. The contents of this book, what to me seems to be dull, irrelevant details about ho-hum sociopolitical movements and incessant word-play in the service of self-important autobiography, is not alien to modern mainstream feminism, and is perhaps quite similar to academic feminism (I can't say for sure because I do not and cannot stand reading that stuff).

There is discussion of the differences that mark female lives in this book; it is culturally- and individually-specific to a greater degree than anything else I have ever read with regard to feminism. From what I gather, it seems that telling one's personal story is seen as some sort of form of power. That's straight-up liberal feminism right there. Belying the subtitle, the book seems to be far more narrative than analytical, and this is why I find it boring and toothless. There's some analysis in it, but it's of the oblique, value-neutral, poetic variety that would earn one a good grade in a literature course, and there isn't nearly enough explicit man-blaming. If I were to judge based solely on this collection, I would say that the chief distinctions between Chicana Feminism(s) (I still haven't figured out why the noun is in plural form) and the feminism to which I am accustomed are the extent of subjectivity and that the text tends to be be partially in Spanish.

Goddess, I am so tired from the errands I ran today. I thought that I would recover, but it seems that I was wrong. I'm going to have to come back and read this post to make sure it reflects what I actually want to say; I think I tend to use the wrong words when I'm fatigued.

The Veteran's Service Officer was not in his office today, but his assistant or whatever gave me some more numbers to call (likely dead ends) and two twenty-ride bus passes. I wasn't able to register my separation document at the County Clerk's office because they will only register an official copy. The VSO's assistant ordered that for me online.

I finally got some vegan pizza today, but it wasn't very tasty and definitely not what I wanted, a weird-tasting pizza topped with red peppers and sweet onions. Besides that, I also bought some hi-cut socks with the money guy gave me yesterday, so that my legs won't be so vulnerable to scratches from the brush I regularly walk through.

Walking through the brush last night as I returned home (and I don't like to say that I'm homeless because the woodlet, and the outdoors in general, is at least as good a home as any other; better, in my opinion), I think I was almost caught. I was crunching through the leaf-carpeted area at the entrance to my woodlet, and I somehow couldn't find the narrow path between the bushes that I've followed so many times by now. Back and forth I crunched, looking for a break in between the branches, panicking when I couldn't find it, suddenly hearing voices, and recognizing that I had gone beyond the point which I sought. I tried taking my shoes off, but creeping about in my socks didn't modulate the noise one bit.
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Well. I was going to post about Man-Child: A Study of the Infantilization of Man, but I happened across something far more disturbing: When Women Work Together: Using Our Strengths to Overcome Our Challenges, by Carolyn S. Duff. I was quick to grab this book because I have been fruitlessly contemplating the problem of sociopolitical unity amongst womyn for some time now.

The book happens to be specific to workplace relationships, but I decided to read a bit of it to mine for more general insights. The rather mild introduction from which I then passed did nothing to prepare me for the discomfiting narrative that opened the first chapter. The (apparently true) story centered on Denise, a manager at some sort of publications firm. Denise did not care for extra-professional socializing with her female co-workers, and avoided such situations both on and off the job. She was straight-forward and on-topic at meetings, and focused on problem-solving when speaking to the writers. The author described this as a "masculine" management style. WTF.

The whining balls of emotion on Denise's team were "alienated" by her "distant style," and Denise's boss called Denise into her office one day to deal with their subsequently low moral and decreased productivity. The end of this anecdote was particularly really messed up. Denise ended up in tears during this meeting, and the author implies that this improved her relationship with her co-workers because

Suddenly, she became real to them. Crying is something women do; by crying, Denise revealed she was one of us. The women on her publication team could then connect with her femaleness, and their ability to identify with another person showed these women that behind the controlled facade Denise, too, was vulnerable.

Wow. What horrible feelings swirled around in me as I read this book. I saw Denise as a victim of...I know not what to call it/them. The implication of the first sentence in the blockquote is chilling all by itself: Denise was not real to them because she did not act the way they acted. Therein lies the beginning of all manner of atrocity and abuse. And why does one need to see concrete evidence of vulnerability? Some sort of blood thirst? Every living thing is vulnerable.

There have been a number of threads on my autism forums about the way womyn specifically target and abuse other females in the workplace. Are women in general really like this? If so, they're messed up. I don't freaking care how common it is. This is b.s. I don't say that lightly; consider an alleged consequence of not being open to "connect" with other women

Along with resistance and attacks on their femaleness, women who don't easily connect with other women often have to confront rumors. By not making themselves available to other women, by not letting themselves be known, they leave themselves vulnerable to speculation.

Warped. Refrain from talking about oneself, and other people make shit up.

The author cites a book I posted about previously, Carol Gilligan's In A Different Voice. Aside from that, she mentions a research project in which some five hundred womyn were surveyed. That doesn't seem to be a sufficiently large sample size, but the principles explained in the book have also been taught in businesses, with good reviews, according to the author. I don't really know anything about womyn's personalities in general, so I've little idea how much credulity to accord the content.

Another little story details the work issues of an employee whose new female boss didn't "recognize" her work. The boss brought up problems, but didn't give the employee a star when the latter did what she was expected to do, namely, her damned job. I guess the paycheck was not enough. Some people seriously need to learn to get validation from within rather than without themselves. Or maybe just de-couple their emotions from their performance.

"Lack of self-confidence" is also supposedly a problem with female employees. None of that with me. What is wrong with all these other people? If you know that you can do it, you know that you can do it.

I took the brief Comfort Zone Inventory and, not surprisingly, scored low on most categories. This survey is supposed to reflect womyn's work preferences: valuing relationships at work, personal involvement "or caring," being competent, and sharing and cooperation instead of competition (I dislike both). I am Denise. And I think all this bodes very badly for me.

So I just got off the phone with someone from the nearest Veteran's Home. He's going to bring me some money so that I can get my DD-214 registered at the County Clerk's office downtown, besides trying to help me get veteran's disability and expedite my application to the home. No immediate housing solution yet, but I have a couple of avenues to try tomorrow. Very helpful.
improperlyhuman: (Default)
Today I read roughly the first chapter of Principia Ethica by G.E. Moore, which explains the subject matter of Ethics. I was a bit surprised and slightly disappointed to find that, after identifying the central concern of Ethics as defining "good" and determining that to what the term applies, the author contends that "good" is indefinable. Upon further reflection, particularly in light of my conclusion that all matters of morality (and thus, Ethics) only arise under artificial, materially (I must now avoid using the concept of morality) unacceptable conditions (the philosophizing over which is therefore useless), I found the indefinability of "good" to be more palatable. 

I must place "good" firmly within the realm of rhetoric, along with "inherent worth" and "inherent value." The primary purpose of all of these terms is to direct behavior without a concrete justification for the direction. They are employed as parents employ the boogeyman: they are walls others build up in our minds so that, henceforth, we keep ourselves in line (or behind the wall, to efficiently utilize my own metaphor), but far more abstract than the boogeyman, than religion, and without referent. Indeed, religion and other sociolinguistic methods of control are ultimately based upon such notions, adding to them colorful, user-friendly mythologies.

"Inherent worth/value" bother me particularly because I have observed their use as characteristics of animals in explanation of the moral component of ethical veganism. These concepts cannot serve as justification for the avoidance of animal exploitation (or for anything else), for they are oxymorons. Worth and value are inherently subjective in all circumstances; they are in the eye of the beholder, and therefore cannot be inherent to anything or anyone. To illustrate, in a universe devoid of living things, though gold and diamonds and verdant lands may abound, nothing is valuable because there is no one to value any of it.
improperlyhuman: icon says: Radical Feminism: Females First. Always. (females first)
Because I don't feel comfortable at the main public library branch, I've been hanging out here in the college library and reading a LOT. Over the past couple of days, I read the first two chapters of a very thought-provoking book by Carol Gilligan. Gilligan, who it seems worked as a student under Kohlberg, creator of a system of moral development based on psychological research conducted on overwhelmingly male subjects, noted the discrepancies between the system and personal information gleaned from interviews with women. In addition to analyzing the responses of females questioned against Kohlberg's system, Gilligan conducted her own morality studies with womyn, whence she came by the thesis that womyn's moral reasoning differs fundamentally from that of men, and that Kohlberg's theory of moral development is therefore not the universal metric that the latter makes it out to be.

Gilligan identifies Kolhberg's mature levels of moral reasoning as based on abstract, "universal" laws of fairness and justice. In the responses of females, however, she identifies morality as based in the maintenance of relationships, and as being very context-sensitive. These differences are exemplified by the parallel questioning of two eleven-year-olds as to the resolution of the dilemma of a man with a terminally ill wife and insufficient funds to purchase life-saving medication. The boy analyzes the situation in terms of the law (stealing the medicine would be wrong, but the husband, if caught, may be able to make a case with which the judge would sympathize); the girl considers the matter in terms of the husband's responsibility to his wife and the responsibility of the druggist to respond to human needs with compassion. 

Gilligan's book describes a social experiment in which men and womyn are asked to respond to various images. A significant percentage of the male-authored narratives included randomly violent imagery, notably, in response to images of human connection (a couple together at a river, acrobats holding hands up on a trapeze). The womyn's narratives, on the other hand, tended to employ violent imagery in response to the images which depicted solitary pursuits, particularly individual achievement at the expense of others. Gilligan explains the difference in responses to various images in terms of childhood development: the boy, in seeking manhood, must in some sense reject the mother to facilitate his identification with all things masculine. The mother being the primary caregiver (and thus a huge part of the child's life), however, makes this rejection a very heavy affair, such that the growing males comes to identify himself in terms of his individuality, to identify separation with development and goodness and even normality (as reflected in Freud's theories), to see relationships as preventing his freedom, if not outright harming him. The female child feels no need to cease her identification with the mother, and her development is thus characterized by interpersonal connection, to the extent that she comes to fear and distrust competition. 

Not having finished Gilligan's book, I don't know if she makes the connection, but it occurred to me that a development focused on separation, and the subsequent valuing of separation as the hallmark of maturity, is the perfect explanation for the valuing of abstract principles, moral and otherwise. Seeing the world as separate from himself, the male would seek to understand it in abstract, impersonal terms, rather than concrete terms. This brings to mind the problems I have understanding physics. It seems plausible that one can abstract to such a point that that which is supposedly represented is no longer identifiable in the abstraction, and, ironically, the abstraction becomes more personal than impersonal because it is so much a reflection of the mind of the abstractor, and so little a reflection of that which is supposed to be represented by the abstraction. My difficulties with several physical theories stemmed from their apparent arbitrariness; they are certainly abstract rather than particular to phenomena, but the abstractions seem to introduce unnecessary constructs (such as fields), that gave them a personal feel. 

The other thing that hooked me on this book was its connection to a book (more like  I happened to have read just before: Patriarchy as a Conceptual Trap. In explaining the reason behind the generally horrific state of the world, the author of the latter laid out three fundamental features of patriarchy:
1. the tendency to view the world as inherently hierarchical (god above men, men above women, women above children, children above non-human animals, etc.)
2. the tendency to see nature as being under man's dominion
3. the tendency to conceptualize nature as feminine

These, too, can be quite neatly explained as a result of the male seeing the world as separate from himself. I got a cool intellectual buzz from the way it all fit together so neatly.
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