Posts Tagged ‘Logic’

Nothing is perfect. We all loved flawed things, and sometimes we love the flaws themselves as well as the things despite them. This does not stop us from taking personal offence when people not-us find flaws in our things, particularly when these aren’t flaws we’ve ever noticed ourselves, and especially when the flaws are so offensive to our morals and aesthetics that, if we acknowledged their existence, we’d feel obligated to stop liking the thing all together.

Which is, basically, why most people don’t like to be told that a thing they love is sexist or racist or homophobic in a particular way: because it creates an instantaneous and enormous sense of fury and guilt and betrayal. Sometimes, these emotions are rightly directed towards the people who made the things that way, but more often than not, we shoot the messenger. Dammit, I washappy liking my thing, and now you’ve ruined it for me! Or, worst of all, they deny the flaw and attack the flaw-finder, following a rage-logic that works roughly like this:

– I do not like racist/sexist/homophobic things; therefore

– nothing I like is racist/sexist/homophobic; because

Рif it was, I’d be forced to stop liking it; but

РI can’t just tell myself to stop loving a thing that I love; which means

Рthat if someone does tell me a thing I love is racist/sexist/homophobic, I must close my ears and ignore them; because

Рif they’re right, I’ll be stuck forever loving a terrible thing, and if that has to happen; then

РI’d rather pretend I never knew it was terrible in the first place; because

– ignorance is bliss.

Which, yeah, no.

Look.

You remember that part where everything is flawed? Everything? Even the things we love most? Does this not suggest to you that we ought to critique those things more than others, even Рor perhaps especially Рbecause of how we love them, why we love them, the better to know them better? To see if they deserve our love? To see if we’ve chosen wisely?

Because the fact is that sometimes we won’t choose wisely. And that can hurt to admit. The first time someone makes you realise a thing you love is sexist/racist/homophobic, it’s easy to feel like a terrible person. It’s also good that you do, too. Just for a little. Just a bit. Because sexism, racism and homophobia are far more terrible things than anything a flaw-finder ever did to hurt your aesthetic pride; and that feeling of guilt you have when someone points out what you’ve missed? That feeling is how you acknowledge that up until now, you haven’t been paying attention.

The worst thing you can do after this point is avoid all critical discussion of the things you love for fear that other, unnoticed flaws might be pointed out, and your cosy sense of unflawedness further eroded. That it’s too hard to ask questions of the things you love. That you’d rather just take everything at face value, and assume it’s all meant for the best.

Don’t be that person.

Please. Just, don’t.

Instead, accept that the things you love are flawed. That you can revile one aspect of a thing while praising another. That sometimes broken things are broken in interesting ways. That some broken things can be mended, while others were never truly broken in the first place.

And that sometimes, it’s the things we love that break our hearts, and that when that happens, we have to let them go.

This post also appeared here.

I’ve been pretty silent lately on the subject of news and popular culture, not because there’s been a dearth of commentworthy topics, but because I’ve been singletracked by a pesky plot point in Book the Second. With the cancellation of Dance Your Ass Off, however, I can no longer remain silent. The time has come again to get my whinge on.

For those of you who’ve long since burned your TV guides, abandoned the internet and turned your unplugged plasma screens into a lightweight building material (and who are therefore presumably reading this via telepathy, the secret transmitters in your fillings or the subether waveband), Dance Your Ass Off was intended as a reality TV cross-pollination of Dancing With The Stars and The Biggest Loser, viz: fat people dancing competitively in order to lose weight.

Process that for a moment, if you can.

In what should come as a shock to absolutely nobody on the face of the Earth, ever, the show has been cancelled after one episode. However, in what should count as the jusitifcation for the extinction of the human species should a race of eccentric aliens ever point a space-based laser cannon at our fair globe and demand a moral accounting of our foibles, no less than one million Americans still watched the debut episode.

Process that for a moment, if you can.

In¬†today’s news, the executives of Oxygen, the channel on which Dance Your Ass Off aired, explained the modus operandi¬†behind a show which Absolute Power’s Charles Prentiss and Martin McCabe might very well have dreamed up in one of their more cynical moments –¬†which is saying something –¬†thusly: “that dance and diet were two areas of interest for younger viewers, so combining both themes into one show made sense.”

Process that for a moment, if you can.

This is more than stupidity. This is bot logic. The independent popularity of two things in no way suggests that they should be combined, unless your are a crazy person. Just because the human race currently needs oil and water to survive doesn’t mean we should try and blend them into a single super-substance that we both drink and use for fuel. Ice-cream and steak are both pretty good, but would you serve them together? (Note: lovers of chicken fried steak and twinkies¬†aren’t allowed to answer that question.) I mean, seriously. The satire practically writes itself.

Unless,¬†God help us all,¬†you are Oxygen’s senior VP of original programming and development, Amy Introcaso-Davis, who said of the show that “if you have five pounds to lose or 150 pounds to lose, it’s something you think about all day long.”

Message for Oxygen: you’re so concerned with weight loss? Why not trim the Goddam fat from your upper management circles. Make them dance through the boardroom as they leave. Dangle the possibility of rehiring if they can demonstrate that they have had a single original, nonsensical¬†thought since 2000, or at all. Film¬†everything secretly, then air it.

It’s not like you haven’t made worse¬† programming decisions.

Oh, come on, Queensland – women who don’t breastfeed are¬†more likely to neglect or abuse their children? The fact that you’ve managed to correlate these two things does not mean that one is¬†directly responsible for the other. Many women choose not to breastfeed: some for medical reasons, some out of personal preference, some out of necessity. The fact that abusive mothers go down a similar path, however,¬†is not a rational choice, because for whatever reason, they are already emotionally disconnected from their children; and if this disconnect is caused by external or pre-existing problems, then breastfeeding will not solve them. In fact, if those problems concern substance abuse, alcoholism or chain-smoking, then breastfeeding could well harm the child in question. Fancy!¬†

So, no, Lane Strathearn: promoting breasfeeding is not a simple and “cost-effective” way of¬†preventing abuse and neglect. The act of suckling a child will not cure post-natal depression, alcoholism¬†or¬†nicotine addiction, nor will it negate the consequences emotional trauma, poverty, single parenthood¬†or poor education. Those are many and various battles; none of them simple. By all means, promote breastfeeding in public; educate women about their choices; help addicted mothers come clean. But don’t¬†lay guilt on good, happy,¬†bottle-feeding¬†mothers¬†by¬†wielding¬†poorly reasoned conclusions about their propensity for child abuse.

That kind of idiocy helps no-one.

….a mess. But an insightful mess! Behold: my natural habitat.

1. Meaning and Necessity, by Rudolf Carnap. My Long-Suffering Husband (LSH) is, as has been mentioned, a logician/philosopher; this book was part of my first-year wedding anniversary present to him. Underneath is a¬†tome on non-classical logic, while further down the table one may spy works on both symbolic logic and models¬†and ultraproducts – huzzah! Sufficed to say, I don’t read them. Unless I’m suffering from insomnia. Or, even then, perhaps not.

2. Ugh boots. These also belong to the LSH, but as they are warm and overlarge, I’ve been known to make use of them during cold Melbourne winters, or whenever I feel like clomping.

3. More logic papers. Note the extreme proliferation of Greek and algebraic symbols. Know what they mean? ‘Coz I don’t.

4. A crude communications device, referred to in some literature as a “mobile phone”, or mobilius phoney in the Latin. This one belongs to the LSH.

5. Unopened mail from my university containing this week’s lecture on pop culture. (Best thing about distance education: pausing or fast-forwarding the lecturer at your whim. If only real life were so obliging.)¬†

6. Unopened superannuation mail, to be set aside in a kitchen drawer until such time as my father calls and asks why I still have three different providers, and when will I get around to rolling them over? As a result, I will send it to him. He will read it, make a note of the contents, file it in another drawer full of similarly uninteresting but frustratingly important data, make timely remarks about my financial future, and then all will be well with the universe. 

7. An alabaster chess board, which was an awesome wedding present.

8. Pertinent reading material (mine).

9. Trashy action movie of the Brendan Fraser oeuvre.

10. Chocolatey goodness.

11. My iPod – another awesome wedding gift. You can tell it’s mine, because the rubber circle thingies have come off the ear buds and there’s a slight scratch on the screen. Contents include an amalgam of Buffy soundtracks/songs,¬†90’s rock and the entire Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy radio series.

12. Salt and pepper shakers. We have no kitchen table worthy of the name, and so end up eating in the lounge. This makes us lazy.

13. Nintendo nunchuku!

14. Beginner-sized knitting needles. I’d post a photo of the (I use the word laughingly) scarf I finished yesterday, but one of the cats is sleeping on it. There is no untruth in saying that this is the best possible to use to which it could be put.

15. Headphones. All the better to hear you with. Or not.

16. There is, I swear, some kind of God-Damned breeding factory for water bottles in our house. We never buy them – in fact, I can think of only one we’ve purchased in the past year and¬†a half – and yet they just show up, like¬†the creepy Mormon lady who¬†knows my name. This one, at least, holds some actual water.

17. Nutritional sugary goodness.

18. The Wiimote. (Thinks: I wonder if I can fit in some tennis before bed?)

19.¬†Glasses tend to accumulate on our table. There’s no real excuse. Bad Foz.¬†

20. TV remote. Ah, bringer of entertainment!

21. X-Box 360 remote. Our DVD player died of mysterious causes some time ago, so now we use the X-Box instead, largely because it comes equipped with this handy, cordless doodad.

22. X-Box controller. The LSH and I are intermittent gamers: my addiction to Final Fantasy and Mario Kart has been well-documented, while he tends more towards first person shooters. The console was my last Christmas gift to him, so that we could play Halo together – ironically, however, this doesn’t often happen, as whenever I’m winning (most of the time), he has a tendency to drop suddenly out of the map, grumbling inaudibly about the unfairness of shotguns, swords and plasma grenades.¬†Currently, though, he’s playing The Force Unleashed. Which is shiny.

And, finally: 

23. The LSH himself. Or at least, his hip and guitar-print shorts.

What does your coffee table say about you?

When it comes to spending money, the LSH* and I have two core weaknesses: books and DVDs. Back in Melbourne, there’s a Swirling Vortex of Fiscal Doom between JB Hi Fi and the comic shop guaranteed to extract a minimum of $40 on an average day, which is why I¬†avoid that street¬†unless¬†all bills are paid. But holidays – ah, blissful holidays! – are a different matter. Where other people spend vast quantities of moolah¬†on spas, luxury accomodation, souveniers and exotic locations, we buy books. Lots of them. (To give you a rough idea, we bought upwards of thirteen – each –¬†on our honeymoon. Sufficed to say, our luggage was several kilos heavier on the return trip.)

Our current jaunt has proved no exception. Being a philosopher and, more particularly, a logician, the LSH tends to buy books with scintillating titles like Logic, Logic ang Logic (seriously), and is possibly the only person ever to be wildly excited by a 40% discount on Cambridge University Press textbook editions. Meanwhile, my own papery hoard has been enriched by the aquisition of no less than 11 titles:

– The Midnighters Trilogy (Scott Westerfeld);

– The Last Days (also by Scott Westerfeld);

– The Kingdom Beyond the Waves (Stephen Hunt);

– Perdido Street Station (China Mieville);

– The Book of Dead Philosophers (Simon Critchley);

– Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt ( R. T. Rundle Clark);

– The Alchemyst (Michael Scott);

– City of Saints and Madmen (Jeff VanderMeer); and

РCairo Jim and Doris in Search of Martenaten (Geoffrey McSkimming). 

Thanks to a saved wedding voucher, we’ve also gained¬†a rather¬†large quantity of Doctor Who DVDs from the Tom Baker era – and for those who might protest the usage, really: we’ve got all the household stuff we could possibly need, and in any case, the giver would approve. All in all: a most satisfactory harvest. (And just to dispel the image of the LSH and I as a pair of sedentry layabouts, we’ve been out to Taronga Zoo, walked around the Blue Mountains and caught up with friends, too. We just love¬†us some¬†books.)

The Blue Mountains, speaking of which, were spectacular in just about every respect Рwe even got snowed on, which is a novelty in most of Australia and particularly for us. It was even cold enough to justify the purchase of what shall hereafter be referred to as the Coolest Hat Ever (which, given that I actually collect weird hats, is no small boast). Behold!

Nifty, eh?

 

* Long-Suffering Husband