Monday, January 30, 2006

so I have a confession. I do step aerobics. once a week, on mondays, before squash. it's fun. my instructors name is dawn and she is this burly 50ish woman. I don't have to motivate myself unlike regular machine exercise, and my heartrate hits target pretty consistently. I have been told to do things my whole athletic life so that feels normal. and I don't have to deal with all those overcompetitive dudes with no game and all the time wasting of rec leagues and pickup sports. But the thing I find most curious about it is how gendered the space is. it is all women except for me and some pudgy guy who often slinks out halfway through. throughout the hour, dawn growls at us about how our boyfriends tell us we're perfect until we get married, then they want us to work it and stay slim. She talks about which muscles increase our cleavage and which exercises are designed for bikini wear. The women waiting for the next class always titter at me, and I am too tall for all the jumpropes. I feel actively unwelcome. I sortof dig this because I am plenty fit to keep up in class and I feel like my presence has a bit of subversive flair. and following intricate and changing commands from the instructor when tired is a lot like rowing. But I am curious if spaces like that still exist in other places? girls, are there still lots of highly, overtly gendered spaces that you enter? what does aerobics mean? is it the rawest form of individual vanity fitness, or is it a community of women bonding under the oppression of appearance norms? Should I respect one of a few safe female spaces? or is it just fucking aerobics, and it's free, and there is no use overthinking it?

Monday, January 23, 2006



so this is a big day for canada: election day.
Ccanadians elect 1 parliamentary representative from their district called a riding. whatever party has the most seats in parliament gets to pick the prime minister. so there are not separate legislative and executive elections.

the conservatives have made a very strong push and are likely to take the election. this has set up a difficult quandry for many canadians about what it means to be canadian. It seems to focus on a degree of socialist egalitarianism which is typified by the healthcare system. (These ideas are related to minorityist anti-americanism, but more on that later). You knw, everyone is equal and should get taken care of. pretty nice thought. however, in a global age where we use economics as an immutable and all encompassing logic, it has become increasingly difficult for canadians to embrace their goodnatured socialism when it appears to be set in contrast to a system which equals growth, power, and wealth south of the border. Conservatives want to align more closely with the US, liberals want to continue the socialist ways, and the two smaller parties NDP (students and hippies), and bloc quebecois (secessionist Quebecers).
add to this cocktail the fact that the liberal party has several black eyes from corruption scandals, and canadians are facing a polarizing split about what they want "canadian" to mean in the near future.

many of the smear adds by the liberals against the conservatives have aligned stephen harper (prime minister if the conservatives win a majority) with George Bush in the hopes of driving people back to liberal out of fear of this association. Canadians, as you might imagine, don't like GWB very much.

The canadian relationship to the US is an awkward one. During a game of PS2 hockey in which america (me) was playing canada (someone else), a drunken female spectator shouted out "I hate americans; I just hate them." a curious land up here. a popular t-shirt for young women read "you can't get this in the states" across the chest. In a sense they are an continental minority, and I view their antics as one from a dominant ethnicity views the understandable anger of racial or religious minorities.

N.B. Said female spectator also hates the Maple Leafs, and had to consider for 45 seconds whom she would root when I posed a hypothetical matchup between America and the Leafs. She decided on the Leafs.


new word

fun new word that I discovered in a 1950's ornithology text: nidifugous. it means "fleeing the nest" and is used to describe chicks that leave the nest immediately after hatching like grouse and turkeys. It has generally be supplanted by "precocial" academically, but I think this word has serious potential for describing humanity. It is an instinct or trait that we cannot accurately describe with just one word. so use it when you can.

Thursday, January 19, 2006


shoot, pass, slam

I beat slate to the punch.
suck it, william selatan.

and go bison volleyball. they rallied from two games down to beat the 5th ranked unviersity of winnipeg 17-15 in the 5th game led by Drew Venebles who transferred into UMan from COLLEGE OF THE CARIBOO (proper spelling, I hear it is a mountain range) in BC.
N.B the team also has a player whose first name is "Toon" (it's pronounced Tone, but who cares)


canada...not quite as dumb as we all thought

every wonder what happens to that dish or ruffled, sliced meat behind the deli counter. well, in canada it turns up zacuum-packed in a tiny little corner of prepackaged meats section where the packages are labeled "coldcuts priced to clear" and the are 75% off. discount meat. gotta love it. they sell their expired bread in a similar fashion. in addition, my canadian supermarket has TWO house brands. president's choice is the more upmarket but still priced under name brand. and no name in the plain yellow wrapper is the lowest price available. talk about multi-point pricing on all fronts. these dudes were listening during microeconomics.


everybody get down if you feel me

there is also an interesting study in which some sociobiologists took jamaican teenagers and had them dance. the researchers recorded the teenagers using computers and reflectors (same technology as athletic videogames) and created generic images doing the dance moves (the researchers controlled for appearance of the dancer by eliminating it) then asked female jamaican teens to judge how good the dancers were. the nondescript images that danced best as picked by the female jamaicans judged were actually the images of those in real life who were the most symmetrical. symmetry is a generally accepted proxy for good genes, because it is tough to bear out symmetry during development. admittedly they didn't control for the possible gain in self-confidence of symmetrical dancers who could have received prior benefits due to symmetry. but it is pretty fucking wild that we can sense who has good genes.

we can smell it too. as shown all those studies where women decided that men with different MHC (major histocompatibility complex) genotypes from their own had the sexiest smelling t-shirts. (Wedekind & Furi. 1997) Breeding with someone with a different MHC conveys maximum immuno-fitness upon your offspring. Women can also smell symmetrical men wihtout seeing them in a similar t-shirt experiment. (Gangestad & Thornhill, 1998). it has also been shown that women select perfumes to enhance their natural MHC-related odors. (Milinski & Wedekind, 2001)mindblowing.

I'll properly annotate this post when I get a chance.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

congrats to lauren for actually bothering to have opinions (unlike me) and write an analysis of the NYT magazine article about covering and civil rights I posted a few days ago. read it here if you like.


ever wonder why gay people are gay? scientists totally don't know

ok, well, basically the scientific answer is "we don't know." the ultimate constraint on any theory is that the evolutionary explanation has to help get the genes of that individual or his close relatives into the next generation by having kids. so unfortunately, the idea that we have plenty of people on the earth so we evolve non-procreating ones doesn't hold up because evolutionary theory doesn't support group selection.

standard idea based on kin selection is that by having gay children, you have what are biologically known as "helpers at the nest" other people who can increase the fitness of thier siblings or neices by bringing in extra resources. (Wilson 1975) (And yes, that is E.O. Wilson...we kiss his ass for being tenured at harvard making up this field of half-truths). this is an interesting idea as far as there being lots of unused money lying around from these folks (e.g. Jonathon Edwards College) but are gay people really noticably more altruistic or likely to care for their siblings and/or sibling's kids? not really.

an idea I found very interesting is that there is an allele that is maintain in the population through heterosity--active selection for heterozygosity. same way that sickle cell anemia works. because individuals with one copy of sickle cell recessive allele and one non sickle cell are more fit (malarial resistance) the allele for this terrible maladaptive recessive condition is maintained in the population. this idea applies to gay people that if there is some reason that people wtih one recessive "gay" allele and one dominant "straight" allele are more fit than homozygote straights, it would explain maintanance of seeming maladaptive gay behavior. perhaps homozygotes straights are "too aggressive." or heterozygotes are "more charming." this is also kindof a silly idea on the surface, and no one has found a gay gene (well, this one dude Hamer did but no one has been able to replicate his results. But they have found on in flies (Gill 1963).) but i am attracted to it because of its defensible explanation of the seemingly genetically maladaptive behavior of exclusive homosexuality. It does give rise to the interesting offshoot that we are all a bit gay.

The most likely explanation is borrowed from bonobos that, much like morrissey, we are pansexual and use sexuality to form alliances. Bonobos also use it to greet one another, introduce themselves, and alleviate social stress. it is thought that we don't do this because we are able to communicate verbally with more sophistication to explain ourselves, but the roots of this behavior trace to our common ancestor. because you can have sex with as many men as you want, but as long as you have kids with someone at some point, your genes are totally viable in evolutionary terms. This is the general explanation of female homsexuality. so basically, bisexuality has hominid evolutionary support. Exclusive homosexuality is still kindof a mystery.

The absurd blending of robust evolutionary theory and flimsy social conjection about the behavior of modern gays is why people think sociobiology and evolutionary psychology are silly disciplines. and they are to some degree, but they are also dealing with questions that are a lot more interesting to the world at large than "do guillemots switch prey when confronting with shifting foraging range composition?"


I don't want to hear it...

and I have tried in my yalie conservative-in-liberal's-birkenstocks way to embrace roberts and alito and a spirit of fairness and understanding. (See sympathy in earlier post this week). But for chrissake, doesn't the whole umpire metaphor (roberts' cutesy explanation that supreme court justices are like umpires, they apply the law rather than make it or the game) fall short when you look at the record. If everyone is so fair and balanced, why do scalia and Thomas (and now Roberts) come out of the wrong side of everything (except expanded eminent domain which seems like bs)? if you believe in states rights and strict construction, bully for you, I accept that, but then why dissent from upholding a state's asisisted suicide law? and why strike down california's medical marijuana law? I know their technical reasons of why, but it looks like there is plenty of room on any case to take your ideological opinion and then cloak it in defendable legal grounds. It is just too convenient that justices move in herds to look at this impartiality snowjob with any credulity.

Supreme court watchers are falling over themselves to distance themselves from ignorant liberalism (, but you have to call a spade a spade at some point. The Supreme court is a political body whose decisions move along party lines.

lawyers who read this blog, attempt to use your twisted logic to explain why this blather about impartiality isn't blatant hypocrisy.

Monday, January 16, 2006

scoop, you should have been writing about this.
This touches on all your favorite points about the racism of professional sports. It overlays interestingly with the new york times article about covering. (careful, it is 7 pages long).

I love Keira Knightley too, but this purple prose is a bit much.
also, if you watch Bend it like beckham again, Jess is a much more interesting and charming character than Jules.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Sexy Midgets! (title is relevant, I swear)

Quick, read the link before ESPN turns into a pay article

holy hell.
how did I miss this? The Pied Piper.
I know I watch Canadian hockeycentre, but I should have known about this.
it should also be noted that this article takes all available positions on the issue at once. Is it a brilliant journalistic representation of the conflicted relationship of african americans to the event? Or is it lazy writing with no preparation, no syntax, and no editor? Who can tell?
Is this article bad? or am I racist? I do embrace the idea of written word mirroring speech. And I do respect the idea that conventionally idea that written syntax may not properly express the experiences of american who are black.


Lies and the lying liars who tell them

Do James Frey and George O'Leary sit around and reminisce together? That would be amazing! Talk about playing the dozens.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


the easter bunny, santa claus, and samual alito are racing toward a $100 bill...

I want you, my cloverlets, to take a full 30 seconds to imagine what republicans, democrats, and pundits would say if the senate was trying to confirm you for something. How your actions, associations, family, friends, papertrail would be judged. keep doing it; it takes a little time.

scary, huh? imagine how much would be misrepresented.

On side notes, why are there TV ads smearing Alito? What a waste of money. He is going through. Also, does anyone else find it absurd that Alito is condemning the irresponsibly liberal actions of PRINCETON. yet he had no personal wealth to protect as a kid. This undermines a basic liberal tenet about conservatives that they are either looking out for #1 financially, or they are so enmeshed in a positive religio-social community structure that they want to give that stability and kindness to everyone. (I am ignoring the "ignorant jesus-hicks" angle because it is downright lazy.) So where does Alito come from?

Sunday, January 08, 2006


despite the media's love for chris simms

did anyone else see LaVar Arrington's interview after the skins playoff win? It was so cute. He had a big smile and didn't really know what to say. It was very endearing. Especially after the smear campaign the team has conducted against him (the offsides in the first half was pretty undisciplined) and the controversy of the last weeks trade rumors.

IN addition, does the dehumanizing language comparing football players (particularly running backs and defensive ends who both tend to be black) to animals bother anyone else? Clinton Portis was described as needing to be "in a lather" to be successful. This prepositional phrase is used almost exclusively to describe horses. I can't tell whether it denotes latent, Jimmy the greek-style racism, or it is simply the closest thing to a visual image that tv-men can muster.

While on the subject, Mike Patrick is a terrible color commentator. He switched overenthusiastic sides on the Shaun Taylor spitting incident with no explaination. He is like that friend everyone has who won't stand by his opinion when it is questioned.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Veruca Salt writes a novel

now anyone who reads this knows I love wonkette. But she has apparently written one of the worst, and strangely, least hip, books in a long time.

a female washington blogger writing a novel about a fictional female washington blogger. who are you? Nicole Ritchie? At least Bret Easton Ellis' attempt at this was cloaked in some distance and shielded by his well-earned reputation for literary narcissism. In an age when young consumers are widely reported to be more media-savvy and more fickle than ever, why drop this career bomb? and why didn't your own internal suck-sensor go off at any time?


death race 2000
this article has larger implications than whether the budweiser hotseat is really hot or not (BTW what is with the cheap, roundtable time wasting on sportscentre? The imaginary playoffs between USC and the greatest teams of all time made me want to live on a gravel bar in alaska. Bring back highlights. In Canada, they devoted 22 min. to the Wolrd Junior Hockey championships today. amazing.) the article is nominally about what an ass Dan Snyder (Redskins owner) is, but it does bring up larger issues about the purpose of the media and what that purpose will be in a decentralized information environment. For those of you too lazy to read the piece, the redskins, in response to what the p[receive as negative media coverage from the post, have simply started putting out their own news on thier own website and declinign interveiws with the "hostile" press. This action opens up the dystopian possibility that this decentralized environement in which anyone can have a voice which bloggers hail as egalitarian and good for the "little guy" will actually just generate cheap vertical integration for the power players. As corporations, federal agencies or whatever are able to produce their own news, most of our news will be even less skeptical of the status quo than it already is. and the line between news and advertising will continue to blur. It is already pretty blurry given the paid punditry of No Child Left Benhind. Somewhere, Karl Rove is hyperventilating like a pre-teen girl at a Ryan Cabrera concert. (You love that mental image. My infinitely wise 10th grade english teacher told me that imagining small, absurd things makes surviving the day much nicer. Unfortunately, she spared the rod on editing my work, and here before you stands that hubris writ large in typos.)

I am won over by Tim hortons. I had a blueberry muffin and their yogurt and berries. both yummy and not insulin-nuke sugary. The coffee comes in stoneware if you order it "for here." The sandwiches are light, simple, and tasty. and there are even a couple of good sugar donuts if you need them. it is like a cute, reasonable version of mcdonalds and Dunkin'. Amazing.
Totally meaningless differences in the juggernaut of unsustainable eating, but a bit of placation in my day.


If I'm going to be impotent I want to look it

I want to change the name of the Washington Redskins. It is indefensibly offensive. The argument that it holds no racist connotations to the user of the name is probably true, but imagine the feelings of those depicted. I grimace every time Canadians start their anti-american diatribes that seem to define their national identity. They bear no malice toward me, and I am from the dominant of our two cultures, and still I feel uneasy in their culture. Once you have taken the 30 seconds to imagine being an american indian looking at the logo, there is no way to think it is harmless. My aunt is right. However, there seems to be no appropriate outlet for this. To obsessively correct the speech of others has been so thoroughly demonized by the mid-90s Ani DiFranco army that it is untenable. Ignoring the problem is obviously not a solution. SImply asking for a change seems unlikely without some economic impetus, because ultimately, the issue lies in the fact that the team is owned privately, and that the recognizability of the logo is a huge moneymaker. so clearly, not purchasing skins apparel is a start. Not attending games would be a help as well. A painful step, I admit. I am willing to let myself slide on watching, because I don't have a neilsen box and I am not in the market for a pickup truck or a big TV so clearly I am not effected by the advertising. The problem seems too big.

I am so sick of feeling sad and empathetic about stuff. Katrina, Darfur. For fucks sake, is feeling bad better than not feeling bad when nothing happens. Aren't they the same thing pragmatically.


Why my college roommates relationship makes me worry for all of us

when I was wee, I considered the appeal of "the west wing" (back in the Sorkin years before it became ER for politics) to my college classmates to be something akin to power porn; they projected themselves into these glamorous roles. I was watching sex and the city on Bravo (first season when Carrie has red hair and talks to the camara) and I started to wonder if that show acted as performative literature for an generation of power elite females. I am not talking about people identifying with the underlying personality catagories, I am talking about people turnign this fiction into a reality for lack of a better superstructure. What other role models do they have? And if this is the case, how does one combat the performative aspects of all television on the impressionable. Now I'm not Tipper Gore here, but I am curious about how we learn to act like adults. The novel "holds a mirror up to western society so as to teach it how to behave." that's a paraphrase of I'm not sure. But given the rise of chick-lit, that is hardly solace. we tend to read what we like now that we have slipped the shackles of assignments. Are we bound to reinfornce our own worst stereotypes? I guess Philip Roth taught me to hate women. Or let me feel ok about it. The devil may wear Prada, and Patrick Dempsey is hard to resist (I'm branching out from literature, I know), but how do a subset of young people who have been told in no uncertain terms by society that what they set their mind to will be theirs, that the realities of humanity are not so simple a transaction?


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