Monthly Archives: June 2015

Thought of the day: What makes us human?

If we developed AI, one could say that they are our spiritual children, or inheritors. What makes us human, “doomed” should our species perish, perhaps even at their hands? The loss of “the human spirit” or the loss of our genome? Which part makes us sad?

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On dictionaries

Let us remember that the purpose of a dictionary is not to offer one, comprehensive, infallible statement of what something is.

It is a tool designed to present the best possible, brief, verbal pointer to a concept so that people may better understand and communicate. As a device based on language, it falls prey to the very kind or errors that it attempts to prevent or remediate. Were it otherwise, all dictionaries would have precisely the very same definition, without exception.

“The dictionary definition of X is…” at most a guideline. A dictionary’s definition is a starting point for a conversation, not an end point. Its purpose is to ease communication and understanding.

The real hard work and responsibility of genuine conversation and communication, is up to us, and not to be fobbed off on the tool.

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Deeper than Dogma Episode 20 “Gender Roles”

I participated in this chat of lovely people, and of course, my friend Ozy. It was a light and breezy 101 conversation.

Trigger warning: Francis’ face.

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Is Mad Max Fury Road a Feminist Film?

Some have tried to make a big to-do about Aaron Clary’s one post on the PUA blog Return of Kings as being “an MRA boycott against a Feminist film.” Setting aside the fact that Aaron Clary does not call himself and MRA (he calls himself an Economist) and that the website Return of Kings actively dispels the notion that they are a Men’s Rights site, the narrative was still promoted. One post or one tweet, it seems, is now “a campaign.”

I’ve watched the film. It is no better or worse than the preceding three films.

The stunts were pretty good, I can respect the people who did them, but the story, in my opinion, was predictable and quite frankly slow and shallow. I would classify it as a very high budget “B” movie. I watched it because it was playing and I had budgeted my time and popcorn for it, but I wouldn’t watch it twice, and most certainly not in the theatre at $18 a pop. Charleze Theron is one of my favourite actresses (see her in Monster), but even someone with her skill can only do so much with the story given to her.

Was it a “Feminist” movie? Not in the least. It’s the same old formula movie that we’ve all watched 100 times, with a different skin. Women are mistreated by the one-dimensional bad guy, they need to escape, the strong silent, sexy hero comes along and plays his part in their rescue, there is the predictable sequence of challenges to surmount until they finally meet the boss, the challenge is won and the hero rides off into the sunset.

The only thing that was remotely novel was a number of the admittedly well executed stunts.

No boycott was ever endorsed, and neither do I. The reason to not watch it is that it isn’t worth the ticket price–for me. Wait until it comes out on Netflix or DVD.

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A Term to Kill: Diverse

“X group is a diverse group.” One item is not diverse. Often a speaker will use an expression such as “Feminism is diverse” when the intention is usually to convey “A wide variety of types of people advocate for Feminist ideas.” Lately, the term diversity is used to express “A group of people who is composed of mostly non-white and non-male people.” Much as the term “People of Colour” means, quite literally, people whose race is not Caucasian, the term diversity has come to signify “a variety of non-Caucasian (and/or non-male) people.”

A more correct way of expressing the idea would be to say that “the board consists of people of diverse races (and/or sexes).” One should note that there is a pecking order, and the definition is usually quite fluid, and it’s exponents are adept at hedging and shifting goal posts.

A group of all white men is not diverse.

A group of all white women may be considered as diverse.

A group of men of many races lacks diversity, because it does not include women.

A group of all women of many races is diverse.

Bonus points if other characteristics such as sexual preferences or disabilities of any kind are criteria used as “diversity qualifiers.”

Why is diversity important? So that the group can be representative of the oppressed, or of those in need of representation. This is important so that voices may be heard.

Feminist jargon is, in large part, speaking using the passive voice combined with nominalizations.

Active: Mary threw the ball.
Passive: The ball was thrown by Mary.

Note that the first example portrays agent unambiguously acting upon an object, whereas the second example obfuscates the direct action.

A nominalization is the grammatical error of using a verb, or an adjective as a noun. Nominalizations are also known Zombie Nouns.

change

  • I need a change. (change = noun)
  • I will change. (change = verb)

murder

  • The murder of the man was tragic. (murder = noun)
  • He will murder the man. (murder = verb)

When listening to Feminist jargon, take the time to re-read each sentence as though it written in the active voice and convert nominalizations into active verbs. Prepare to be surprised as to how little sense the language makes.

 

 

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