"Any woman who chooses to behave like a full human being should be warned that the armies of the status quo will treat her as something of a dirty joke. That's their natural and first weapon." ~ Gloria Steinem

Monday, November 15, 2010

Writing, but not NaNoWriMo-ing

The thing about NaNoWriMo is that it's a good idea, but completely not feasible for me this year.

I know, I know; claiming impossibility is a good way to get yourself a kick in the pants around there. "Just make time!" "I'm busy too!" "You can doooo it!" Actually, I can't.

My sister got married a week into November, and I'm not sure if anyone who hasn't ever been part of wedding planning knows how stressful and time-consuming it really is. There were days in that first week of the month when I literally did not have time to eat, much less write.

Furthermore, I'm not sure anyone who isn't an archaeologist knows how exhausting and time-consuming it is. When I'm in the field, I work 10 hours straight; 10 hours of hiking and filling out forms and digging and screening and well, it's exhausting.

But. I am writing anyway. I'm doing my own little version of NaNoWriMo--mostly in that I'm going for word count. Every time I sit down to write, I write as much as I can; when I hit 50,000 words, I'll consider that the end. Last night I churned out just over 2,000, which is a personal record and something I'm feeling really proud of. I might end up writing in the field; I might not. It might all be contained to 11p-1a time blocks (I've always written easily and well when everyone else is asleep.). It might not.

Monday, November 1, 2010

On "Progress" And "Progressives" And, Apparently, Evolution

Here's the thing: I do not like the "progressive" label. I disagree with the use of the term "progress" in any generalized fashion; by that, I mean that it's perfectly acceptable to say that you're making progress toward a substantiated goal, but ridiculous when you speak of a general political ideology as progress, or of technological changes as progress, etc.

I will now digress in order to illustrate my point.

I disagree with the term because it carries an inherent value judgment; it's like when people who don't understand evolution treat it like more = better--that a higher quantity of evolutionary steps is, by definition, synonymous with a higher quality of resultant organism.

Except, cockroaches have remained essentially the same for millions of years; so have sharks. It's not because these organisms have stalled in the evolutionary world, like they're stuck in some sort of useless limbo. To the contrary, it's because further evolution is unnecessary. In their current context (which has either not changed in millions of years, or has changed in such a way that their arrangement of traits didn't require alteration), they survive. It's pretty damn simple, so I don't understand why it's so difficult for some people to comprehend. They're already as fit as they need to be; there's nothing "good" or "bad" about it.

Survival, and evolution, and fitness; all of these are, as always, deeply contextual. ("context" is a very broad term; it encompasses everything from physical environment to societal structure to who you're competing with for resources.) Humans have gone through quite a few more evolutionary steps than either cockroaches or sharks, but rather than endowing on us some sort of Evolution Trophy or something, this actually means that our context has changed more times throughout our history. See? Simple. We evolved because we needed to; cockroaches and sharks didn't evolve because they didn't need to. When you look at it that way, you could make the argument that humans have never hit on an arrangement of traits that allowed them to survive as well as either cockroaches or sharks. Who's inferior now?

Back to "progress."

As explained by Liss at Shakesville, I very much agree with the progressive viewpoint. Do I think these substantiated goals would be an improvement over the current situation? Absolutely. But changing things, and calling it progress, just because the change is for the better--contextually--implies that any past situations of your society, or any situations of other societies, are, by definition, lesser. But, of course, this ignores context. In 1776, did we need laws governing fossil fuel emissions, corporations, interstate highways, reproductive rights, blah blah blah etc.? Of course not.

Now, we do need laws regarding those things. But how, exactly, does acknowledging reality and attempting to deal with it automatically confer superiority, high-ness, right-ness, "more than"?

Seriously. I'm asking you.

As Liss is fond of saying, words mean things. You call yourself progressive, you mean that your ideals are superior and if you meet your goals, society will be better, higher, righter, "more than". All I'm saying is that if the "progressive" goals are met, society will be equipped for its current context.

That's it.

I Just Can't Vote For Ken Buck

There are these tv ads regarding Ken Buck, Republican Senate candidate for the state of Colorado. It's basically all these different people saying "I just can't do it--I just can't vote for Ken Buck." Well, I can't vote for Ken Buck, either--and here's why.
  •  Obviously, he is "pro-life".
     Duh. Moving on.
    • Ken Buck thinks ordinary people make extravagant decisions about their healthcare unless they have to pay for their wretched decisions out of their own pocket.
      Seriously. Don't believe me? Check out Ken Buck's website (emphasis mine):
      Federal policy should also encourage individuals to buy high-deductible policies and to establish health savings accounts. HSAs serve two purposes: They help people build up a cushion to help with medical expenses; and they introduce a greater level of price awareness among healthcare consumers. People can't make smart decisions about healthcare when the price is camouflaged by employer-paid premiums and low-deductible insurance policies.
      Did you get that?

      I will not tolerate a senator who
      • Treats healthcare like the business it has clearly become, to the detriment of the people, and
      • Thinks I'm likely to beg my doctor for ridiculous, expensive procedures because I just don't know any better.
      Who do you think you are, Mr. Buck?

      I mean, is there something I'm missing here? Some logical step I, not being burdened with the wisdom of politicians, have failed to make? Because, how could anyone in their right mind be ok with this line of thinking?

      Does he mean that I will quit smoking if I know I'd have to pay for a lung transplant if I needed one? I guess that's reasonable, but let's keep going with that. Does he mean that I will avoid falling prey to a genetically inherited predisposition to diabetes if I know I'd have to pay for insulin if I get diabetes? Does he mean that I won't drive a car anymore, because I might get in an accident and I'd have to pay for the emergency room visit? Does he mean that I will make sure I'm not born male, because then I'd have a 1 in 6 chance of getting prostate cancer? Does he mean that I will make sure I'm not born female, because then I'd have a 1 in 8 chance of getting breast cancer?

      Do you see where I'm going with this?

      Jesus Christ, I should never have been born! I have a 100% chance of death! If only I'd had an insurance plan with a high deductible; then I could have made the smart decision to abort myself before I even started growing arms.