Archive for January 2012

Government Regulations Monster

The Rewards of Regulation

The current political rhetoric in the United States (and other countries, to a lesser extent) is all about government regulations vs. the free market. Republican candidates have been spending much time making promises about budget cuts, removal of regulations, and untying the hands of “job creators.” Government regulation is said to be “inefficient” and an impedance to the progress of the country. The rhetoric here in Canada over the past few years has been similar, focusing on “stimulating the economy” and creating jobs.

Amongst all this language about business and economies, it is important to clarify the goals or end-state that one wishes for society to achieve. Certainly, people have different ideas about what society should be like, but in general I think it is fairly uncontroversial to state that society should benefit the people within it. I would submit that a good goal for society to have is to be just and equitable, and to work toward the well-being of its citizens. It is only after we set this goal that we can start to clarify whether government regulations and policies are truly a good thing. Do they achieve this goal?Continue Reading

Mansplainer

A Mansplanation of Mansplaining

Society · · Leave a comment

One of the lovely words that feminism has created is “mansplaining”. Unlike “bromance” or “manscaping” or “murse”, which imply that men’s non-sexual same-gender friendships, untamed body hair, or fashion accessories are somehow totally different from women’s, mansplaining is not an attempt to state that men explain things differently than women. I think Karen Healey says it well:

Mansplaining is when a dude tells you, a woman, how to do something you already know how to do, or how you are wrong about something you are actually right about, or miscellaneous and inaccurate “facts” about something you know a hell of a lot more about than he does.

Bonus points if he is explaining how you are wrong about something being sexist!

It’s the “Well, actually…” of discussions about gender (or any topic, really). As an example of the attitude in question: I had a discussion today with a guy who thinks that he knows everything. On any topic for which you could ever dream up, he would confidently assert his opinion, stated more as fact than opinion. While I admit that he is certainly well-read, no one is capable of being an expert in every topic. But conversations with this person quickly devolve into a lesson about how you are wrong and he is right. He frequently cuts people off to interject his disagreement before even having anything to disagree about, and relays his points with didactic condescension. All-around, he is just an annoying conversation partner. Take this attitude, and put it in the context of men conversing with women, and you have mansplaining.Continue Reading

Housefly

There Was an Old Lady: A Critical Analysis

“There Was an Old Lady” retells the fantastical account of an elderly woman who swallows various animals in an ever-increasingly bizarre and grotesque display of ingurgitation. The following brief analysis will examine this nursery rhyme for critical thematic elements and possible problematic components.

The song opens as follows:

There was an old lady who swallowed a fly I don’t know why she swallowed a fly — perhaps she’ll die!

One should note the relative banality of the opening statement: While swallowing a fly is somewhat uncommon and an unpleasant experience, it is almost certainly not fatal. The utter confusion of the author is expressed, as he or she seems to believe that the woman must have swallowed the insect on purpose. Much more likely is that she did so by accident. Nevertheless, the author “blames the victim” in an attempt to explain the described event, and then seems to revel in the possibility that she may not survive the incident. Whereas most observers would spend the time helping the old lady, performing first aid techniques if necessary, and calling the paramedics if serious, the author instead decides to retell the event with no indication that any help was given. As can be seen in the following stanzas, the woman is left to correct the problem herself.Continue Reading

New Year's Resolution

A Passion for Progress

Personal · · Leave a comment

Welcome to 2012! According to the Mayans (or, more accurately, the New Age fanatics), we have less than a year to live! But the rest of us reasonable people know that the world has much more happiness and heartache, mirth and misery, feast and famine in store. The universe is here for the long haul, and humans will likely be here for a while longer too. So enjoy life while it is here!—and be sure that others do as well.

New Year’s has always been a time of reflection for me, as it is for many. I prefer to find a quiet place to sit and ponder, rather than the raucous, drunken celebration of a changing calendar and a ball dropping. For me, Christmas is a time to celebrate, but New Year’s is a time to reflect on what has been and what is to come. Such reflection should really happen continually, for every day is a step forward. After all, January 1st merely marks an arbitrary point in the circumnavigation of the Earth around the Sun. We are always moving, always being propelled forward into the future. Without an understanding of the past and a clear vision of the future, we are condemned to stumble blindly about, never finding solid footing. The Earth may always smoothly travel in its orbit, but we have no such guarantee. And so, as the old year leaves and the new year makes its entrance, I prefer to keep the company of my thoughts, with a mind to my own actions and the development of my character.Continue Reading