Friday, May 11

So I was reading this post from blackaire, which is interesting in many ways... but for me struck a chord because of the brief mention of homeschooling vs. private school. Because, yanno, I was homeschooled from sixth grade on. And among the many condescending comments one gets when homeschooled, "If you went to a real (read: non-public and/or non-rural) school, you'd have liked it," ranks high. (Though "you'll never get into a good college" makes the top of the list by a mile.)

So. Interesting.

Discussion of this with a fairly sympathetic party, however, elicited the following comment:

"If you'd gone to school, you would be far less of an introvert."

Which in turn, elicits this rant, because the party in question doesn't really deserve it.

First, let's clear up the vocabulary issue. Introversion is not a measure of social aptitude, it's a measure of your gregariousness and whether your general focus is inner or outer. I've always been an introvert, I always will be an introvert, regardless of how many people I meet or know or even like. People fucking wear me out. Sitting at home alone staring at the wall makes me feel all happy and well-adjusted. See? Introvert. What he meant was "If you'd gone to school, you would be far less socially inept."

Now that we've cleared that up, I can call bullshit.

See, I used to be a very outgoing kid. No, really. I used to talk to anyone. I used to make friends easily. I used to walk up to complete strangers and start conversations with them. Those of you who've met me can stop laughing anytime.

Care to guess what changed that? You got it. I went to school.

School taught me to fear people.

School taught me about teachers who would browbeat and humiliate me for no reason save that I failed to conform to some unspoken set of standards. Teachers who'd stand me up in front of a class of kids and mock me about my handwriting, my spelling, my clothes, anything, knowing full well that those kids would take it as a license to bully me all they wanted. Teachers who'd accuse me of lying to get attention when I said I couldn't see the blackboard, causing me to suffer in silence for weeks before I finally got the vision test and the eyeglasses I needed. Teachers who'd fudge my grades to keep from admitting I was smart. Teachers who'd tell me what I wanted, then punish me if I didn't prove them right.

School taught me about weird. Not wearing makeup, that was weird. Not having a boyfriend at age eleven, that was weird. Reading was weird. Wearing glasses was weird. Making friends of the opposite sex was weird; having friends from a different grade than yours was weird. If the teachers liked you, you were weird; if they disliked you, you were weird; too smart, too stupid, too anything... and once you had it, it was a stamp of doom, a stain you couldn't wash away. Weird!

That stamp meant anything went. It was okay, for example, to let the weird kid be your friend for the first few weeks after you moved to school, until you got in with the real kids, and then turn on them and savage them with no warning to gain the approval of the in-crowd. It was okay to booby-trap their locker. It was certainly okay to call them any names you could think up. Send them anonymous notes filled with insults, shoot them with rubber bands, kick them under the table, gouge their arm, pull their hair, think up any nasty trick you liked: that was fine. If they yelled for the teacher, you won. If they tried to fight back, you won. Their best possible option was to show no reaction at all to what you were doing: a qualified win, or maybe a draw, if they were pretty good at it.

(I remember sitting on the school bus digging my nails into my arm, or standing in the shower and turning the hot up until I scalded myself: training myself not to flinch, training myself to bear the pain. I always was proud.)

It never stopped. On and on, day in and day out, the endless round of abuse from kids and teachers and, if you were unlucky, parents, all designed to make you conform. To force you into an identity. Any identity. Jock, dyke, geek, slut, loser, prom queen -- you could chose well or badly, you could be lucky or unlucky, but you had to fucking choose. You had to match somebody's category, because they'd keep pounding on you and hurting you until you did, ripping away every bit of self-confidence or good self-image you had until you broke.

Homeschooling did not make me socially inept. School made me socially inept. Homeschooling left me a few rags of identity left on which I could try to rebuild that fearless, outgoing kid who walked into a kindergarten and never walked out.

Now, I admit I have a warped perception, and I'll admit that my rural backwater of a school was worse than most. But I don't think I'm a unique case. I watched the automatic flinch reflex kick in too much in college when someone admitted to something a wee bit off the norm -- the apologetic half-smile, the self-mockery, or that air of hurling it in your teeth and daring you to say something about it. I watched too many people struggle to treat members of the opposite sex as friends and not sex objects. Some of it's society, and some of it's teenagers, but a fair bit of it? Is school.

In America, anyway. I've been told it's different in Canada. Feel free to speak up for or against.


Okay. Ranted out now. It's amazing how much stuff from when you were a kid can push your buttons, even after years and years.

*goes off to do something useful, like sleep*
11:28 PM - kat -

Wednesday, November 09

I was going to write something pithy about the elections, but it's ten-thirty and I think I'm coming down with a cold and we've got chickens to kill tomorrow.

So you get extra-pithy.

Yay Virginia, not just because we slapped the face of the torture advocates squatting Shelob-like in the Oval Office but because the Republican candidate was a real dickhead.

Boo Texas. No cookies. Instead you get to wallow in your own pit of self-righteousness while the politicans smirk behind their hands at what frightened, easily manipulable monkeys you are and the Religious Right gloat over their success at convincing people that Jesus taught not "love thy neighbor" but "love thy neighbor as long as he's not different and doesn't make you feel uncomfortable, challenge your worldview, or make you suspect that he's getting better sex than you."

Cookies for the sane people in Texas. I know you tried, guys.

Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4,484 / 50,000

Today's Progress: 559.

Comments: Of course, the other reason this story is moving so slowly is that I'm used to writing a mature, decisive woman 20 years Timmain's senior. I mean, Joey'd be up on the stage throttling the king by now, but Timmain just sits there. It's unnerving.

Snips: Perhaps the king was startled also; there was a pause before he answered. "I will give you a city. I will give you glory."

"Cities and glory are for the river," said Sula. "The river can afford them. What will you give us?"
10:43 PM - kat -

Wednesday, July 27

More news from the war front, aka my family: they fired the part-time help. They'd already decided to do this when they came home for a trip and found she'd taken off a day early, leaving her cheesehouse work undone and her dairy chores for my brother to do. But she made it easy for them, apparently, by showing up an hour late for work on Monday. My mother also found out she'd been flat-out skipping on washing cheeses in the cooler; there's now several shelves in dire condition that will have to be babied back into sellable condition.

My mother's decided to stop cheesemaking until I'm home to help her, which is bad for the business, but frankly I'm glad. She'd kill herself otherwise.

My mother is bitter. I'm resigned. It seems ridiculous that you can't find people capable of doing manual labor competently, but really, you can't. It's not just us. Try hiring a construction crew to build your house and you'll see what I mean.

It's not the money (try paying a construction crew and you'll see what I mean.) Skilled workers may not have the potential for many-hundred-thousand a year income, but most of 'em are still making more than my college-degree friends, and they don't have student loans to pay off. It's not that there isn't demand for this kind of work. The professions that the Canadian Immigration site are listing as most likely to get you a speedy entry into the country are truck driver, auto mechanic, welder, and nurse (of course - everyone wants nurses), and I'm pretty sure the US is similar. It's not that the professions are inherently inferior.

It's the attitude towards the work, both on the part of society and the part of the workers.

I wish, I really wish, that we could hand a five-point list to everyone who comes on the farm. And make them believe it. It would go something like this:

You will need to learn. Skilled labor is exactly that: skilled. You will need to learn these skills. That you cannot learn these skills out of a book does not make them easy. There will not be a point at which you get to collect your certificate and stop learning. Those of us who've done it for decades are still learning. Get used to it.

You must think. If you think manual labor means you can turn off your brain, bad things will happen. If you're working with animals or heavy machinery, those bad things can potentially involve hospitals or morgues. No matter what you will be loosing us money. Contrary to popular opinion, people without college degrees think all the time, and a job that requires no degree does not free you from the inconvenience of the thought process.

Robots need not apply. We have little interest in people who show up, do the least they can, and go home. We aren't in farming for the money, we're in it for the love, and if you can't care at least a little about us and what we're doing then you will be doing a crappier job than the rest of us and creating us work.

You must do your job. This is not WalMart. If we tell you to do something, it's because it needs doing. If we tell you to do it in a specific way that takes longer, it's because the job requires it. It is not just to keep you busy or for some arcane corporate reason. If you do not do the job you are assigned when you're assigned it and in the way you are assigned it, one of us will have to. Do not act surprised when we're pissed about that.

And, finally, You are responsible for your actions. Not just to your employers, but to the universe. Yes, most of the time there is no way we can catch you doing a slipshod job or pretending to have done a job you haven't, but since we do not assign unimportant jobs (see above), "they'll never know" will not prevent the animal getting sick, the cheese going rotten, or the next person to use those stairs slipping and breaking their neck. If knowing that your job has an actual real-world effect is too much pressure for you, there are plenty of other places to seek employment.

... really, I haven't held any non-farming jobs, but I know this stuff has to be universal. There's no job on earth that's not going to require all of 'em to some degree. So why is nearly everyone who comes to work for us shocked by them, and why do we end up firing people because they're dysfunctional in most or all of them?

Oh, well. The world is going to hell in a handbasket, blah blah, et cetera. Ranting about it occasionally is good for the soul.

Type-In Revisions: 38 pages (of 385)
Word Count, Original and Current: 118,040 / 118,820
Notes: Mmm. Clean dialogue good.
11:30 AM - kat -

Sunday, June 12

There's hope for religion after all.*

To be honest, I've known there was hope for religion all along; I know too many good religious people to think otherwise.** But knowing that only makes the actions of the Religious Right that much more frustrating. They're pulling so many good people in behind them... but let's face it; the whole platform is geared towards a return to the Good Old Days of the 50s, when rock hadn't been invented yet, abortion wasn't legal, good girls only put out in the back seats of cars and never told anyone, the black people were in their proper place (as were the women) and the Cold War was keeping everyone tractable.

Take abortion, for example. If the RR was really interested in the welfare of the children, they might be supporting programs like this one, that give poor, underage mothers a chance in hell of coping. They might be pushing for reforms of the adoption laws that would make adoption a viable option, or ad campaigns that trained Americans out of the idea that adoption was only for sterile couples. They'd be supporting the notion of planned parenthood and advocating birth control.

They're doing the exact opposite - which suggests that the RR has no interest in the actual welfare of these children. No, what they care about is returning to the Good Old Days, when sex was scary... for women, that is. Men were, of course, having sex quite regularly and fearlessly. But it was so much easier when you could seperate women into Good Girls and Whores. It saved you having to think about them except as categories.

Or look at it this way: while there's some very interesting religious science fiction out there (Orson Scott Card, anyone?), there's only one series that's in line with the RR: the Left Behind books.

The best, indeed the only, future the RR can imagine is one in which Armageddon has happened and they have been whisked up to heaven, leaving the unbelievers to scream and suffer in agony. In fact this screaming, suffering Armageddon is such a comfort to them that they've written upwards of ten books describing the horrors that beset the unbelievers.

This is their idea of a positive future.

And these people are running our country.

So it is a relief to me to hear someone saying is time for Christianity to choose whom it will follow: an angry exclusionary God or the loving God who opens the path to wisdom.

Yes, please! More like you! I know you're out there. For the love of God, speak out!

* link nicked from oletheros.
** I myself am an agnostic in the old sense of "honest doubter." For those who're interested.

Revision Progress: 97 pages (of 337)
Changes: Finished up the scene with Joey's commander. Copiously revised yet another interview scene (are these all going to suck in draft? Damn) and blocked out the medical expo scene (which is going to be a delicate balance between "enough info that the readers are satisfied" and "not so much that the readers are bored. Arrg.) Revised the scene where Joey talks to the Ambassador with an eye to Gord's comments on translation; another delicate balance, but I think I've got it better at least.
Up Next: Revise the computers scene - which mostly means getting the right data in there. Cut the smuggler scene - I like it, but it just doesn't fit the main storyline - and find something to replace it. Depressing, because most people who read the manuscript liked the scene too.
10:35 AM - kat -

Wednesday, August 18

A Violently Executed Blog linked to this article on conservatism.

It's good. It's very good. Read it. Make your friends read it.

Q: What is conservatism?
A: Conservatism is the domination of society by an aristocracy.

Q: What is wrong with conservatism?
A: Conservatism is incompatible with democracy, prosperity, and civilization in general. It is a destructive system of inequality and prejudice that is founded on deception and has no place in the modern world.
12:50 PM - kat -

Friday, June 11

My family is not very good with current events. Case in point: we were cussing the mailman up one side and down the other as a lazy bastard today until we finally remembered.


What is it they're doing to him now? Burying him?

For the record - if by some bizarre twist of fate I die famous - let it be known that, no matter how famous I am, I do NOT want to be carted from one end of the country to the other, shown to millions of people, cried over, discussed endlessly, had the mail stopped for me, et cetera, ad infinitum. No fuss, please. Just chuck me into the coffin and cover me over like the rotting side of meat I will be.

I suppose at this point I should say something about how, personal distaste for spectacle aside, I respected Reagan as a person and so on, but actually I didn't. I was born about three days before Reagan was elected, and so, while I may have lived through the Reagan administration, it was not precisely my most politically aware stage of life. Reagan fell into that awkward time period of too long ago for me to really remember but too recent to be covered in my history classes. We did cover Reagan briefly in Environmental Politics, but that was confined to my professor bringing in a picture of Reagan's pet environmentalist, Julian Simon (actual quote: "The only environmental problem is the environmentalists!"), pinning it to the blackboard, and drawing horns on. Succinct, but brief.

My main hope is that when Bush Jr. finally kicks it he will not get all this hoop-la, but that instead the news will be quietly swept under the rug, as news of Nixon's death was. God knows he's as big a fuck-up as Nixon. At least Nixon wasn't a war criminal. That's right, our darling president doesn't have to follow the rules - he can torture people all he wants! And so can other people, because he told them so, in an actual written memo! His good buddy Mr. Ashcroft said it was just fine! Against the law, but hey, that's a-okay, since we're hunting TERRORISTS! God, I need to move.
08:13 PM - kat -

Tuesday, February 24

I seem to have been collecting links for a while, so let's get some of them out of the way:

In the writing front, Making Light has been posting some excellent stuff for writers recently. There's an article called Slushkiller describing why not to take rejections personally, in some detail. As a tangent the best checklist of why manuscripts get rejected that I've ever seen is provided. A bit later Teresa also posted On Getting An Agent, a succinct summary of the reasons and the pitfalls involved in agent-hunting.

On the more political front, Making Light also linked to this article where the Secretary of Education calls the NEA a "terrorist organization". That would be... the National Education Association. Yup, the teacher's union.

The state governors the Secretary was addressing were said to be "startled" by this, just going to show, I guess, that even politicians are a bit startled when a member of the president's cabinet reveals that he has gone completely around the bend and will now be spending the rest of his days in Happy La-La Land. But it seems the remark was not quite as insane as it first appeared:

"He is, I guess, very concerned about anybody that questions what the president is doing," [Missouri governor] Holden said.

"He was implying that the NEA has not been one of the organizations that has been working with the administration to try to solve 'No Child Left Behind,"' he said.

You know, we loopy leftist liberals have been saying for years now that the War On Terror was going to be used as an excuse for persecuting anyone who didn't agree with the government, and people called us paranoid. It's awful nice of the administration to go proving us right.

In other "our government is whacked" news, A Violently Excuted Blog some time ago linked to an article describing how The Army tried to confiscate the attendance list of a UT conference on Islam. That's right, our beloved military sent agents around to bully a couple of law students out of a (nonexistant) attendance list to a "basically bland" conference on Islamic law and sexism. Brilliant, guys. My tax dollars at work!

And, in a final installment of politics, Ralph Nader has announced he's running for president, provoking screams of outrage from the Democratic Party as a whole. Oh, come on, guys, you're the side of the angels for at least this year and it's embarrassing to see you make such pansies of yourselves. As The Ferrett points out, far better than I could, Nader did not loose Gore the bloody election. Gore lost the bloody election all on his own, by being such a Republocrat that most people genuinely couldn't see a difference between him and Bush - not that Bush was all that outstanding either. As my political science professor put it, "the difference between Bush and Gore is that Gore is going to stab you in the back, and Bush is going to just stab you." 2000 may well get the award for "most apathic election year ever." And the votes that Nader "stole" from Gore aren't going to be "stolen" from Kerry, if he ends up being the Democratic candidate, because Kerry's succeeded in distinguishing himself from Bush. If the Democratic race was still in the same state it was last fall, sure, there'd be a problem, because at that time the Democrats were still being meek little mice and believing the polls and not daring to say anything against the war because they thought it would alienate people. I credit Howard Dean with saving the party from that. He came along and made noise and suddenly the other candidates caught on to that age-old fact: statistics lie. Polls lie like hell. And people, rather than being alienated by Dean's railing on the war, were flocking to his banner in droves.

Of course, Dean was later to find out for himself that polls lie, which is probably all to the good; he had more noise than planning in him, and I doubt he'd have made a good presidential candidate. But credit where credit is due, he made noise, and for once the Democrats don't need to worry about a hellraiser like Nader coming along and showing them up, because they've actually got a platform for once.

It took someone like Howard Dean coming along to shake the Democrats out of their four-year stint as cringing cowards and yes-men, and now they're running away from Nader. *sigh* makes you wonder why you vote at all, really.

(Those of you who don't live in America are probably bored stiff by all this ranting, but hey, it's election year. Look on it as a free circus and bring your own popcorn....)
02:30 PM - kat -

Sunday, February 01

This year for Christmas I got my father a subscription to World Press Review, on the grounds that, as long as he was going to rant about politics, he might as well rant with his facts straight; and also on the grounds that any "slanted" news publication - which is to say, all of them - would cause him to foam at the mouth. World Press makes a real effort to be objective, and they publish news articles from newspapers all over the world. It seemed a good bet.

I've had myriad subscription problems with them (note to self: call about that double-charging thing) but the first issue arrived on Friday, and Dad likes it a lot. As do I. But it's frightening. The cover story this issue was on Saudi Arabia and contained this article, published in a London newspaper. The writer sums up the problem in five points:

One, that Saudi Arabia commands the greatest share of the world’s oil and plays a role "controlling market fluctuations" in production levels.

Two, there isn’t a nation that consumes or is more reliant on Saudi oil than the United States.

Three, the United States and most of the industrialized world are in a situation of absolute dependence on Saudi oil, with this being the case for many years to come.

Four, if it were to come to pass that the Saudi oil rigs were shut down, whether as a result of a terrorist act or political revolution, the effect on the global economy (especially the U.S. economy) would be paralyzing and devastating.

Five, control over Saudi oil is maintained by a ruling family that is increasingly demonstrating manifestations of its corruption, weakness, disintegration, and isolation from reality and modernity - and that is spurned by both its people and neighbors.

I find this - to say the least - disturbing. My future health and security - the health and security of all Americans - depends on the ability of a corrupt monarchy which commits regular atrocities and bans women from driving cars, conducting business save with a male proxy, or appearing in public with any flesh showing, and which is being run by a stroke victim, to maintain itself in power.

In the meantime, my government is bashing the crap out of a petty little dictator with half the crimes and a tenth the power to make me "safe". Somehow I don't feel very safe.

Why did I ever think keeping up with the news was a good idea? I'm going back to hiding under the bed for a decade or three. Come get me out when the spaceship for Mars is ready to leave.
04:21 PM - kat -

Sunday, December 14

I know I've taken this before, but it's been a few years, I've changed, the test has changed. And it's a good thing to check with elections coming up....

Your political compass

Economic Left/Right: -5.62
Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.21

This puts me in the lower left-hand quadrant of the graph, somewhere near the Dalai Lama and Nelson Mandela - oddly enough, not people I have much respect for, as they tended to go back on their own stated morality with great regularity. Still, there's worse people to be near. I seem to be diametrically opposed to Bushie - no big surprise there.

What's really scary is this graph from the site depicting the primary candidates in this year's presidential election:

Now is it just me, or is this a little frightening? I mean, aside from the fact that there's only two people on the list remotely near my own political position and I've never heard of either one. But I thought that we were supposed to have a two-party system around here!

There is no candidate - save for those two - whose politics differ in a significant way from those of Bush.

Oh, they're better, no doubt about it. But it's the same. Goddamn. Politics. Bushie's a bit more extreme than most, it's true. But every single candidate is an authoritarian right-winger.

Leave off whether you agree or disagree with their politics for a minute - just forget that. It's not the point. The point is that this is America. We are supposed to have a choice. We are supposed to be holding an election to choose what kind of politics we like or dislike. Now how in the hell can we do that when we're not being offered a choice in the first place? I mean, "Okay, how do you like your authoritarian right-wingism - hardboiled or soft in the middle?" Does that sound like a real choice to you?

Does that sound like democracy?

And, of course, if you're not right-wing, it means you'll be stuck voting for the lesser of two evils. Again.

Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go bash my head against the wall for a while. If I do it for the next eleven months I may have sufficiently prepared myself for the election.
08:56 AM - kat -

Thursday, November 20

Now this is a good idea.
09:54 PM - kat -

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"It is an odd thing about Americans. The expend huge efforts exhorting themselves to 'Say No To Drugs', then go to the drugstore and buy them by the armloads."

Bill Bryson
"Notes From a Big Country"
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