Saturday, November 24, 2018

Short Posts 11/24/18: Bad News on Black Friday, Political Exhaustion, Home Economics And Poetry

1.  It has long been a custom for newspapers to publish those articles they have to publish but which go against that particular newspaper's ideology on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, because that's the day the smallest number of people will read anything.  Or watch anything.

What you don't know can't hurt you, right?  In any case, the climate change report came out yesterday and it is not good.

2.  About a week ago a piece in the New York Times talked about people who are not into politics in the fierce there-will-be-blood way the online political participants are.  It suggests that as many as two thirds of all Americans are exhausted by the political fighting and don't want much to do with it.

The reactions to the piece among those in the my-fangs-are-around-your-ankles crowd are mostly about the danger of not caring about politics when Donald Trump is steering, carelessly, the body politics.  But it's also true that most people, everywhere and at all times, are not really following politics, for many different reasons.

I spent sixteen hours last weekend in a workshop with people whom I didn't know at all at first.  They were male and female,  all ages, races, ethnic groups and so on, and they were all wonderfully sweet and kind and we had such a good time.  I never asked if any of them had voted for Trump or if they followed politics or not.  By the end of the time spent together we were all pretty comfortable with each other and I made some new friends.

The point is that the world I spend so much of my time in (political activism, in-fighting and writing) is not a world which reflects reality in all its aspects.

The online debates have a tendency to go aggressive, a tendency to forget that it's people on the other side of that screen, not some abstract monsters, and the tendency to forget that we are talking to individuals, not some weird representatives of "all women," "all white people," "all black people,"  "all men" and so on.

So if the uninterested should pay more attention to politics, perhaps the politically obsessed should pay more attention to humanity.

3.  A Guardian opinion piece suggests that a return of home economics, taught to both boys and girls might be a way to talk to young people not only about how to change a light bulb and boil an egg (do not confuse those tasks with each other), but about how to divide labor at home when there is children in a marriage or a partnership, and other similar questions.

It had this bit in it which is not quite on the topic but echoed in me because I have seen a similar thing happen:

In the 1980s, after conducting a study on working mothers, the time-use expert John Robinson proclaimed that they were spending far less time with their children than previous generations of mothers had. The media exploded with headlines reinforcing the long-held belief that mothers in the workplace would result in the total destruction of the American family.

Far less reported was the correction Robinson made shortly after publishing his findings. He had miscalculated. In fact, working mothers were spending as much or more time with their kids.
But the damage was done, and the expectation that working mothers will spend ever more time with their children – usually at the expense of sleep, exercise and personal hygiene – has never stopped rising.
Bolds are mine.  Compare the above to what happened a piece which reported that women orgasm more often when they have sex with men who are rich than when they have sex with men who are not rich.  And what happened when the study was found to have an error in it and the correct calculations showed that there was no difference in women's orgasmic frequency by the partner's wealth or income levels.

4.  For something completely different, this was my favorite poem when I was an itty bitty goddess, though I read it in Swedish:

I saw a tree…
I saw a tree that was greater than all others
and hung full of cones out of reach;
I saw a tall church with open door
and all who came out were pale and strong
and ready to die;
I saw a woman who smiling and rouged
threw dice for her luck
and saw she had lost.
A circle was drawn around these things
that no one crosses over.
The day cools

I still like it.  You can read more about Edith Södergran here.

 Or if you don't care for poetry, how about a Finnish folk song, named the saddest song in the whole world (well, by me, anyway)?  It's about yearning for one's home, even if that home is nothing to write home about (err).

My rough translation of the words:

So vast is the emptiness of your shores,
yet I long for it.
How the lament of the wild mallard
echoes in the reeds at night.

Someone lonely, someone lost
someone crying of the cold,
who has circled the reeds
but cannot find its mother.

I have seen your grey waves
through tears in my eyes. 
On your shores my youth
wept its first sorrows.

Deep is your image etched in me
and I long for it.
 I have heard the wild mallard
there many a night. 

Monday, November 19, 2018

Very Very Short Posts, Monday, 11/19/2018

1.  I eagerly look forward to all the stories in the New York Times and the Washington Post about people who voted for the Democrats in the midterms as a protest against Trump.  You know, the sort of stories we have been fed for the last two years about Trump voters: what makes them tick and what they like to cook for dinner.  Now I'd like the same for the other side.  Or better still, perhaps the right-wing press should cover a few lefties with empathy and understanding?

2.  Dear Concerned (from my mailbag):  No, I don't really believe that I am a Greek goddess of snakes.  My blog handle has to do with the story about Eve and the snake (which has been used to justify women's subjugation), the ancient belief that snakes were the messengers of the divines, the slipperiness of snakes (good for getting rid of problems by slithering away),  and their fangs.  They have nice fangs.

I'm still going to hell, most likely, as you warned. 

3.  The Finnish social media is now full of funny stories about Finns raking the forests, clipping evergreens with nail scissors and so on (my favorite is the woman who is out there vacuuming the forest floor)*.

This is a response to Our Dear Leader's theories about how one might care for forests so that they don't burn down. Raking is an important part of his theory. 

Beside being hilarious to contemplate, Trump's comments reveal that he has never held a rake in his hand.  But should he wish to try it, he should know that the wide end goes downward.

And no, being a rake is not the same thing.

4.  The New York Times has a story about an African-American female composer, Florence Price, whose work is now being re-discovered.  She wrote in 1943:

“Unfortunately the work of a woman composer is preconceived by many to be light, froth, lacking in depth, logic and virility,” she wrote. “Add to that the incident of race — I have Colored blood in my veins — and you will understand some of the difficulties that confront one in such a position.”

She was intersectional and disliked gender stereotypes.  I look forward to hearing her music.


Here is one example which uses an old Finnish painting to show Trump among raking Finns in the woods.