Tag Archives: on culture

Links from the Wider Internets

Sexism, Racism, and Homophobia

The Rape of James Bond: You know how when people complain about the prevalence of rape in grimdark fantasy, people argue back with, “But, REALISM!!!1”?  This article makes the INCREDIBLY good point that the logical extension of the “but, realism!” argument is that we need way more rape of men in media.  But . . . people don’t seem to be complaining about not having that in their books and movies at the level it happens in real life.

Straightwashing GLBT Characters: “Now we’re getting Da Vinci’s Demons, that would be Leonardo Da Vinci, he was repeatedly accused of sodomy, never married, was never connected to a female lover, but repeatedly with men, drew erotic pictures of them and left his most valuable painting in his will to one of his live-in “apprentices” Da Vinci. It’s an act of wilful ignorance to not realise Da Vinci played for our team. […] Well his love interest has been cast (a woman) and the trailer shows lots of naked sexy times between them. But, fear not, the writer has assured us that there may, sorta, kinda be some male flirting. FLIRTING!”

Microaggressions.  This site is a stark demonstration of the concept.

More on microaggressions.  I didn’t know there was a name for this before I found these links, but I love that there is, because it helps to have language to be able to point to what’s wrong here when people come back with, “Oh, but that’s not a big deal; get over it!”

For something else striking: Groups that are 100 percent men.

To (All) the White Girls Who Didn’t Get Into the College of Their Dreams: “By your logic, if a white girl with your background doesn’t get into an Ivy League college, it’s because there weren’t enough spots for white students that year. But, if a non-white girl with an identical profile is rejected, who do they blame? No one. They don’t have the excuse; they simply weren’t good enough. We don’t get to make ourselves feel better by engaging in a smear campaign against the fictional Cherokee girl that took our Ivy League slot.”

Anti-gay rights activists say they are the real victims.  Because, y’know, fighting marriage equality is taking so much time, and they’d so much rather be doing something else.

Superhero women in pants.

On Math and Science

Programmable goo helps solve the traveling salesman problem.  SO COOL!  Though like one of the commenters, I want to know how they find the Hamiltonian circuit . . .

Mars is faaaaaaaaaaaar.  Love this!

What happens when you wring out a hand towel in space?  (Awesome video.)

On Writing and Publishing

The differences in expected plot structure in different cultures: not all traditions say plot needs conflict.  Fascinating.

A bestselling author pirates his own book, and finds it helps his sales.

A TechDirt smackdown of author Scott Turow’s rant about the changing wold of publishing.  I skimmed the original rant; the smackdown was much more informative and interesting.

Jane Goodall accused of plagiarism.  And shoddy science.  Sigh.

Tactility and Culture: Holding Hands

I said to one of my friends the other day, “You know something I’ve noticed you’re great at?  Holding hands.”

And she is.  She takes people’s hands quite naturally, with no awkwardness, and does it with anybody she’s close with.  Sometimes hand-holding can just feel weird—there’s a weighted self-consciousness to taking hands, and then the hand-holding might go on for too long, and it starts to get uncomfortable but it seems offensive to let go.  Her hand-holding, on the other hand, is entirely organic, from the time one of us takes the other’s hand to the time one of us lets go in the course of casual movement and conversation.

When I said that, she knew what I meant right away, and explained that it had to do with her growing up in Egypt.  “Everyone holds hands in Egypt,” she told me.  “Not just couples, but friends.  Two male friends who aren’t gay and aren’t a couple will walk down the street holding hands, and it’s perfectly normal.”  She explained that she thought the reason for it was that everything was so busy and crowded and fast there—“It’s not that street lights don’t exist, they are just . . . ignored”—and with cars and bicycles and people coming from all directions all the time, it’s easy to become separated from a conversation partner unless you’ve taken each others’ arms or hands.

I’ve written about cross-cultural hugging before—I love discussing the cultural differences in social interaction; it’s fascinating to me.

Christmas Light Love

The other night, my friend and I went on a drive looking at Christmas lights.  Or rather, she drove, and I wrapped my still typhus-ridden self up in blankets in the passenger seat (doctors say about two more weeks before I’m better, yay?) and drank peppermint hot chocolate.  We had carols on the radio and the Southern California air even deigned to have a snap in it, making for a lovely December drive.

The best house by far was this one:

To the owners of that house: Thank you for existing in the world.  Thank you for having that much love for Christmas lights.  You are amazing.

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Your Food Is Just as Gross as Everyone Else’s

I find myself annoyed at the “ewwwwww!” reaction a lot of Americans give to cuisine not from their culture.  It’s not only childish, it’s hypocritical.  The only thing that makes one food seem “grosser” than another is lack of exposure to it; I mean, why is soy milk icky and peanut butter isn’t?  Why is Jello hunky-dory but not blood soup?  What’s the substantive difference between eating pig intestine that’s sliced up and sauteed with vegetables and eating a hot dog?  (Honestly, the hot dog probably has more unmentionable bits pureed into it than the stir fry would.)  And for those of you who complain about “strange textures” of tofu or taro, have you met bananas or baked potatoes or meatballs?

So, to any monocultural Americans: Your cuisine is just as gross as everyone else’s.  Stop making faces at what other people eat—first of all, it’s rude, and second of all, how do you have a leg to stand on when you have no problem with any of the following:

  1. Yogurt.  You purposely mix active bacteria cultures into dairy and then eat it!
  2. Sausage.  All the refuse from the animal ground up and shoved into a tube made out of the intestine.
  3. Wine.  You let fruit start to rot and then you mash it up and drink it.
  4. Twinkies. Continue reading

Tactility and Culture: Hugs

My friends and I were talking about hugs the other day. Some people are great at giving hugs. Others are . . . awkward.

The United States—at least the places I’ve lived—is quite a hug-friendly culture. My friends and I give each other hugs when we see each other and hugs when we leave each other. I sometimes end up hugging people goodbye upon meeting them for the first time, if they happen to be huggy sorts of people.

When I lived in China for a short time, casual hugging was not done, not the way we Americans do it (at least, not in the part of China I was in). Once, my American friends and I went out with some of our Chinese friends that we were getting to know quite well. Upon leaving each other at the end of the night, they asked hopefully, “Can we hug now?”

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