Archive for July 2011

Black student taking test

Stereotype Threat

Psychology, Society · · 3 comments

Prejudice is still alive and well in many areas of our society. And one mechanism that keeps prejudice alive is the perception of the accuracy of negative stereotypes. For instance, before slavery was made illegal in the US, slave owners would sometimes justify slavery by stating that God made black people less intelligent and more suited for manual labour. And of course, when they looked around, this perception was justified, since slaves with no formal education and with many years of performing manual labour generally fit the stereotype. Thus, a feedback loop was formed, where the stereotype supported the system, and the system supported the stereotype.Continue Reading

Being a Decent Human Being for Dummies

The Duty of Decency

Morality, Society · · 4 comments

I never thought it would be so hard to be a decent human being.

How hard could it be? Just be nice to people. Yeah, just try to put other people’s needs in front of your own, and try to go out of your way to do nice things for them once in a while as well. Nobody expects you to be perfect at this, so all that’s required is that you try your best.

But what about real help? Some people need more than a shoulder to cry on, or a compliment sent their way. There are people out there who live in abject poverty, who live their lives in a constant state of malnutrition, or who struggle even to find a place to keep out of the rain and the snow. Just “being nice” is not enough to be a decent human being. I have to do something to help these people. Well, it’s a good thing there are plenty of charities set up to do just that. Great! I’ll just send in my money, let them do what they’re best at, and continue being a nice guy in my everyday life.Continue Reading

Less CSS logo

LessPHP Minified

Web Design · · 5 comments

Recently, I came across an excellent tool to keep CSS code clean and non-repetitive. Often, large CSS files end up cluttered with declarations like the following:

#container { … } #container a { … } #container a img { … } #container a:hover img { … }

This sort of coding is clunky and awkward. LESS offers a way to avoid that awkwardness by allowing for nesting, variable declarations, functions and operations, and mixins. These more semantic .less files are then compiled to create functioning .css files. Unfortunately, it uses Javascript, which means (a) significant client-side processing and (b) availability only to users with Javascript enabled.Continue Reading

Beware of Dog sign

An Analogy of Assault

Society · · 4 comments

There has been a recent controversy in the atheist movement about some comments made by Rebecca Watson about sexism. I really don’t wish to explain the whole thing and thus bring that argument to my doorstep, so I’ll just refer you to the summaries of the events made by Jen McCreight, PZ Myers, and Phil Plait. But essentially, one issue that has been brought up as a result is the fear of rape that many women have. As a straight white man, it is difficult for me to truly understand this fear, and the precautions that women take as a result. I can’t say that I’ve ever been nervous at the thought that I might be sexually assaulted. (Although I’ve often felt nervous about walking behind a solitary woman on the sidewalk, for fear she might be fearful of me! Nobody likes pepper spray in the eyes.) I try to sympathize with women on this, and I try to be a decent human being about the whole thing, but it is difficult, and I understand why many men don’t get it. But walking home today, I had an experience of my own that I think might be roughly analogous to it. I hope that some women can chime in and let me know if the analogy is actually apt.Continue Reading

Your Body Is a Battleground

Sizing Up Suffering: A New Language of Liberation

Society · · Leave a comment

"Untitled", by Barbara Kruger

I’ve written at various times about gender issues. I’ve written about gender roles, about gender-neutral language, and about feminism as a label. I have had notes stored on my computer for months now for a post about feminism, but I never feel qualified enough to provide my insight about such a broad movement. In short, it seems clear to me that thoughts about gender issues have taken up prominent residence in my mind. So I’d like to share a few of those thoughts. I’d also like to hear what others have to say in reply, so please feel free to comment afterwards.Continue Reading