Tuesday, March 28, 2006

You scored as Either. You brain is neither specifically male nor female dominated in the way you perceive things and as bad as this sounds it can easily mean that you are capable of combining both limiting gender aspects to your advantage. Rather than being genderless you are possibly able think freely. This does not nec. mean that you are bisexual or androgynous or indecisive, though it might. (If you want me to reply to any issues you have with test I can only do so by leaving me your E-Mail address)









Should you be MALE or FEMALE?*
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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

It's spring break and I'm in Toronto (headline from NYT travel section, "A Revitalized Toronto Pins Its Hopes on the Hobbits" meaning the new musical based on Lord of the Rings which opens here tomorrow night.)

Alex is at work now and he has thoughtfully collected a few local Filipino newspapers for me to peruse. I've been studying the Philippines for a class in Social/Cultural Geography.

I'm not going to get into all of the political stuff but it's important to know that the president in the Philippines, while ostensibly elected, only really serves at the pleasure of the upper class and the military. If the president is well-liked by those groups, then mass protests will be quelled. If, however, the president has pissed off the wealthy and the military, then the mass protests are allowed to continue and the military says, in effect, "Hey president, good luck with that uprising. You're on your own." Liked or loathed, the mass protests seem to be part of the deal.

Anyway, the Philippines are considering changing their government from a presidential system to a parliamentary system. I'm not really sure how all that works but it does give an opportunity for lots of fun abbreviations and general verbal playfulness.

The switch in constituion requires a charter change, abbreviated everywhere as cha-cha. One group of officials supports a constitutional convention, or con-con, while another thinks that an assembly is appropriate, a con-ass.

Right now this is more exciting to me than the boring-ass primary election that Illinois held yesterday.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

This sounds like my experience with conservatives. From William Saletan in today's SLATE:

A longitudinal study suggests whiny kids grow up to be conservative. They "turned into rigid young adults who hewed closely to traditional gender roles and were uncomfortable with ambiguity. The confident kids turned out liberal and were still hanging loose, turning into bright, non-conforming adults with wide interests." The authors suspect "insecure kids look for the reassurance provided by tradition and authority," whereas "the more confident kids are eager to explore alternatives." This matches a 2003 analysis that suggested "people who are dogmatic, fearful, [and] intolerant of ambiguity … are more likely to gravitate to conservatism."

Saletan takes issue with some of the methodology...you can read his reservations in the original if you want. It's my blog and I'll edit selectively if I want to...

Sunday, March 19, 2006

The NYT directed me to check out The Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project, maintained by UC Santa Barbara. Way, way back in the day records were not flat platters but rather rotating cylinders. The good folks in Santa Barbara have digitized a bunch of these and you can listen to them streaming online or download them.

Lots of xylophones and banjos, lots of polkas and rags. And slurs, there's lots of those.

The site includes an admirable disclaimer about the popularity of "ethnic" songs at the turn of the last century and indicates that this terminology has not been sanitized from the original.

I tried searching for "pansy," "queer," "fairy," and "sissy." No luck. I'm not sure if this means that there aren't any such songs or that I don't have the correct terminology.

Terminology is a tough one. For instance, if you had to guess what the word was for minstrel songs, you might guess "race" or "negro" or even "colored." Fortunately the disclaimer points the way; unfortuantely the way is the word "coon."

97 results come up for "coon" including "That Welcome on the Mat Ain't for Me," "Everloving Spoonie Sam," and "Celebrating Day in Tennessee." I clicked on that last one, which the notes point out is described on the original sleeve as a "coon duet." One verse asks, "Why is every darky/feelin' kind of sparky?"

The site gives some weird insight into the state of both race relations and popular music back in the early 1900's. There are almost as many results for Irish--80-- as for coon. One song offers the helpful hint, "It Takes the Irish to Beat the Dutch."

No luck searching for "Jew," "Jewish," or "Hebrew," but I got 19 results with "Rabbi" including "Under the Matzos Tree," and "I'm a Yiddish Cowboy."

The site mentions that these cylinders cost $5 back in 1900, about $110 in today's dollars. So one must have had some especially strong feelings about those groups to shell out that kind of cash.

The links page suggests other sites, including the Canadian Virtual Gramophone, which is hardly free from slurs.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

I'm totally into WikiHow "The How-to Manual That Anyone Can Write Or Edit"

Clearly I could spend all morning here if I'm not careful. How to Become Gothic, How to Stop Being Viewed as a Nerd ("Buy a track jacket. Any color. This is ideally worn over any regular t-shirt, making any outfit hip."), How to Figure the Cost of Running Buses to Your Protest, How to Paint an Ice Rink, How to Get a Pot-Bellied Pig to Take Antibiotics...

Seriously, I'm stopping now.
Chicago public high schools require all sophomores to take (and pass) a driver's ed course.

Including students who are blind.

This has been going on for some time now. A mentor program that pairs blind adults with blind teenagers asked the kids what they would like to see changed--the point was to teach political activism. And the kids all mentioned that they were required to take Driver's Ed.

Chicago doesn't offer simulators or behind the wheel training; the classes are videos and booklets (that aren't translated into braille or anything).

The Trib notes:

For Teniya Booker, 17, who lost her sight after she was shot at age 3, the class proved to be one more struggle in an already challenging class load. "Why should we have to memorize how a street sign looks when we are never going to see them while driving?" Booker wrote in a letter to Ald. Howard Brookins Jr. (21st).

My favorite part of the story is this:

One teacher argued that the lessons aren't a waste of time."I don't think you can ever get enough traffic safety ... and we do a lot on how to make good decisions," said Brent Johnston, a Hinsdale South High School teacher and a chairman of the Illinois High School/College Driver's Education Association. "Still, this shouldn't be the school's decision; it should be mom and dad's decision. A little common sense would go a long way."

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I'm really glad I lived in Seattle and there are days when I miss it terribly. There are also days when I remember that it got on my nerves.

Seattle has lots of cool parks, one called Gas Works. It's an old coal gassification plant by the lakefront. After cleaning the soil, the city turned it into a park in the mid-70's. Some of the old equipment remains for folks to climb on and there is a huge hill in the middle, good for flying kites. It's a very Seattle kind of thing, repurposing something gross into something delightful.

A concert series was to take place at Gas Works this summer but it's been canceled. Seattlest picks it up here:

The move comes after a group calling themselves Friends of Gas Works Park, but who we call a bunch of hippie assholes, claimed that the concerts would bring crowds, traffic and parking problems to the area. Boo-fucking-hoo.

If you live in a major city, events which draw a large number of people are going to occur. We agree that the public should have ample time to comment on city proposals and that secret deals are not a way to make public decisions; however, shooting down ideas because, "I'll have nowhere to park my Subaru," and "I may have to walk around people when I take my golden retriever out," is annoying.

Indeed. Seattle does often operate under the idea that everything can and should be controlled, as befits a city where engineering-related tasks have flourished.

No one believes me when I say that the dog parks in Seattle post signs that say, amongst other rules, that excessive barking is not allowed, but here's a link. The rule on barking is in the third of 14 (!) rules shown here.
There's a story about Gene Simmons of KISS in today's LA Times. I'm easy when it comes to Kiss stories and I ignored the rest of the news to read the entire three page "Outrageous Entrepreneur" story. At the end there is a little bio with the usual facts one might expect (former schoolteacher, sold a bunch of records, appeared on "Miami Vice," etc.) but there was one fact that stood out for me:

...briefly managed Liza Minnelli's recording career

It's not quite the same as independent confirmation but GeneSimmons.com does include the Liza detail (also that he discovered Van Halen which seems way more plausible.)

The Gene Simmons site has the bio, the discography, the links that take you to, among other things, this listing of reviews/pics of Kiss Expos held recently in Louisville and Indianapolis. There is also a feature called "Ladies in Waiting." These are like little personal ads that are meant just for Gene. Here's Lilly who poses in an American Flag bikini:

Hi! I am outgoing,passionate,and wild(sometimes):)The reason I want to be a Lady in waiting will be to get more exposure,of course,and because I actualy Am a Lady in waiting.......Waiting to pursue my dreams!!!!!!!!!!!

Between the Ladies in Waiting and the pics of Kiss conventioneers at a Q&A with Peter Criss, I have to say that GeneSimmons.com is incredibly depressing.