The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Friday, September 28, 2007

Coloring outside the lines

http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2007/09.27/99-longdiet.html


A study suspect that they may have discovered how low-calorie diets extend life. Their theory is that it revs up the mitochondria, the power plants in the cells. Of course, they’re trying to isolate a drug that would enable them to imitate this effect without diet or exercise. Which is both good, inevitable, and bad. The whole pattern of people seeking “short cuts” to meditation, diet, exercise, whatever, is one of the things I love about the West, but also feeds the whole “brain in a box” syndrome that I’ve seen kill so many hearts. They say it might take five to fifty years. Meantime, if you want the effect, why not try I.F.?
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Is Hollywood more racist than the rest of America? I have an opinion based on actually working and living there, and the opinion is “no.” I understand why, once one sees the negative images encoded in the films, it would be comforting to think so. But as I’ve said, very few people “grow up” in Hollywood. The scripts and executives come from all over the country. If the movies don’t appeal to the average American, the exec loses his job, and someone else comes in.

I complain about racial images in SF and publishing. So…what is it now? That Los Angeles and New York are more bigoted than the rest of America? Or creative people are somehow more bigoted? My experience has been precisely the opposite. That the reason New York and Los Angeles were destinations for black immigrants is because of increased opportunity and decreased bigotry. Were they stupid or wrong for thinking this to be true? The arts communities…ANY arts community…tends to be more integrated than the surrounding “straight” community, whether you’re talking dance, drama, poetry, painting, whatever. I just don’t believe it. If you don’t like what you see in Hollywood, my answer is that you won’t like what you see in the actual social mirror of America. Or in the actual reality of the way human beings, white, black, yellow, whatever, all over the world, do to each other in the name of tribe.

Artists color “outside the lines.” They would naturally be the first to embrace the possibility of integration. But…here’s an odd thought. If racial equality were ever actually reached, that “outside the lines” tendency might very well backfire, and one would find a GREATER amount of racism in Hollywood than America as a whole. Wow. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard anyone mention THAT possibility before.

For those who disagree: can you suggest a mechanism by which Hollywood executives might be expected to be more bigoted than whites of their income and power level in other cities? I’d love to hear the speculation.
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Interesting how, as Jason nears control of his body functions (four out of five days he has no accidents) we see “wobbling” in some of his other behaviors. It’s as if he has a finite number of Appropriate Behavior points, and as he concentrates on one area, he lets something else slip elsewhere. But he’s definitely growing as fast as he can. We got him a bed without crib-rails, and he loves it, but the increased freedom leads to creeping in the dead of night. We have to watch him like a hawk, which is amusing in one sense, but means I have to punish him more often in another. I don’t like that. I hate conflict with the people I love…
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Nicki is ending up her first week away at college. Last night, some knucklehead in her dorm hung a heavy bag from the sprinkler system, and it flooded the dorm. Big fun having a slumber party in the Community Center. Life in the big city!
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What do I think about the relative importance of Conservative and Liberal position? I think that Conservatism can be the skeletal structure of a culture, its strength and solidarity. Liberality is it's muscular system, moving it into new positions, or its skin, feeling the weather and reacting to the environment. Without bones, you have movement without power. Without muscle, you have strength without motion or sensitivity. We cannot throw away the wisdom of ages, and stable value hierarchies. And we have to remember that we are driven by selfishness and fear--and must constantly seek flexible response and spiritual connection. I see one as the root, the other the branch. Neither is superior, either dies without the other. Male and Female energies, perhaps, Yang and Yin, often in deep conflict, but both are required to create the Tao.

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