Tomorrow I take off for Iowa. Today is a mad dash, getting everything together for the trip. Included in what I have to do is talk to Jason's preschool teacher. Apparently, he was making reference to the karate games we play, talking about how he was "going to kick Daddy in the face and the back and the butt..." Needless to say, she was a bit disturbed.
I think that Nicki hit a node of insecurity about her future chances to be an actress. Self-doubt is a part of human existence, and for the artist...fuggitaboddit. In general, artists either have a drive to create that obliterates considerations, or an ego so huge that it overshadows their fears and doubts. What I have to do is help her craft another way...born of genuine Self-exploration. I may need to guide her toward more of a safety net, however. Say...a Masters, which would allow her to teach. But this Summer she will be serving an Internship at a small movie studio. That will give her some real-world experience, and hopefully, a taste of the real world.
I suspect her self-image is going to have to shift, and that will be a tough one. It requires either major life shifts or long hard work to shift our concepts of self. They form to protect us (or our society) and any break-up of these constructs can be traumatic.
The trouble is when your self-image is "A" and your conscious goals or values are "B." You can tear yourself to pieces, and destroy your self confidence battering into the limits of image as you strive to reach goals, lose weight, form healthier relationships, or whatever.
The "Psycho-Cybernetics" approach is to visualize (and emotionalize) the successful completion of your task. To see yourself vividly as the kind of person who can do it. This probably requires about...twenty minutes a day. That number keeps coming up.
A deeper approach is to clear the mental stage altogether, and then build upon that empty clarity. This requires more patience--it doesn't seem that anything is happening at first. The advantage is that progress, when made, seems more genuine. To visualize the goal without removing the rubble of past self-image and personal history can be like building a house over a cesspool without draining it.
From my perspective, the difference between art and craft is that art demands both craft (technique) and self-expression. The deeper your contact with your true self, the easier it is to eschew what others have done in your field, and make a genuine contribution to the cultural dialog, based upon clarity rather than imitation.
Jerimiah Wright is genuinely rat-fucking Obama's campaign, so far as I'm concerned. And this is where I think that the idea that Obama's race somehow works to his advantage is absurd. IF he could LOOK black without any of the load or damage, perhaps. That goes along with my observation that he has an advantage in his father being African, rather than African-American. He did not inherit certain aspects of slavery's legacy. On the other hand, in order to have a community, he had to associate with those who did and do suffer that legacy--the walking wounded. Unless he wanted to walk alone (or almost exclusively among whites) he probably had to look at himself as a doctor among patients. Wright's politically loaded sermons probably hit him as "wow. People are really, really hurt and frightened. I must find a way to help." When stuff started coming out on Utube, the politically expedient thing to do would have been to utterly reject. "Not "A", but rather "B". Instead he tried to resolve the duality, "Both A and B"--the comments were abhorrent, but represent an honest set of emotions that whites would feel were historical positions reversed.
The controversy was dying down until Wright started his traveling show. Now, regardless of what Obama says, one thing is true: he is constantly reminding America that he is black. Over and over again. Endlessly, in every news cycle. And that (I believe) is a losing position. In my own professional life, I've noticed that if I can keep people's attention on the project, I can get the job. But if race comes up in the conversation before the deal is sealed...I'm screwed. If he could have kept the conversation off race, he had a chance.
Like I've said: if Will Smith can't get laid, Obama can't get elected. And vice-versa. Just my take on it. But it looks to me like Jerimiah Wright's ego is out of control. He claims to be protecting "the black church" but most of his comments have been personal. Sadly, I don't buy it.
But if Obama doesn't win, the sad thing will be all the black folks who say: "see! Nothing has changed" without realizing the absurdity of that position. Massive change has occurred. A path has been marked out. A black man with zero baggage can make it now--that simply wasn't true a generation ago. A generation from now, he'll be able to have baggage, like a normal human being. I see nothing but ultimate positives in what has happened here, in the sense that an accurate diagnosis is ALWAYS better than having the doctor lie to you, or make a mistake. Unless I believe blacks are inferior, I know we'll work it out. The only way to do that is with clarity. I think Barack Obama is remarkable, really more of a philosopher than a politician, and it will be fascinating to see how this all plays out. I'm determined not to be too depressed or exalted, no matter what. And as long as Hillary fights (relatively) clean? I'll be happy to vote for her.
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Tomorrow I take off for Iowa. Today is a mad dash, getting everything together for the trip. Included in what I have to do is talk to Jason's preschool teacher. Apparently, he was making reference to the karate games we play, talking about how he was "going to kick Daddy in the face and the back and the butt..." Needless to say, she was a bit disturbed.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 8:17 AM
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
ﾠIRON MAN is coming this weekend, and all the buzz seems to be spectacular. I'm GOH at a Con in Iowa this weekend, so I'll have to check it out with some fans in Des Moine...and can't wait. I certainly read Iron Man when I was a kid. He was a superhero in the Batman mode--he created himself. But I suspect that it is easier to imagine yourself as Ironman. If you could just get that damned flying suit...
Strange synchronicity this last weekend. I was embroiled in two different controversies, using the same modes of thought, ended up accused both times of having a closed mind. One was the whole question of whether men control the world to their benefit. The other was whether 9/11 was a conspiracy. The 9/11 question came from an old friend who is VERY convinced that a small cabal of truly evil people pretty much ran the whole thing with radio-controlled planes, demolition charges, etc. And she has a vast storehouse of video clips, web pages, etc. that she feels I have to sort my way through, answering every question, in order to have an opinion.
No, I don't. I take short cuts. If I have a single question that seems really pertinent, and I can't get an answer to it, I feel no obligation to go deeper down the rabbit hole. There are infinite rabbit holes, each of which will swallow your life with time and energy. Everybody takes short cuts. i take them about some controversial topics, in public. With 9/11 the stopper for me were two questions. One had to do with the fact that her theory, well fleshed out, demanded that a little group of Europeans is running the world. I pointed out that the Chinese would be amused to hear that theory, and told her that she had one hell of a lot more respect for white people than I did. The second is that her theory demands a conspiracy involving hundreds or thousands of people. I don't believe in such things, and unless she could show me how it could be carried out by fewer people, or make me believe in gigantic utterly silent conspiracies involving thousands of engineers, airline pilots, demolition experts, military personnel, intelligence officers and on and on...I just don't buy it, no matter how much data she has piled up.
And the same thing is true on the other issue. If I say there are flying saucers, and I think there's one behind the barn, until you look at what I have behind the barn and explain it, it literally doesn't matter how many experts you produce, or pages of official debunking. WHAT THE HELL IS THAT BEHIND MY BARN? Josh sent us a link to a paper he implies deals with some of the issues I mention (My belief is that if men were in charge, they'd actually shape life to their advantage. Since I don't believe that life operates to their advantage, I have a very hard time believing they're in charge. Part of my evidence for this is the death rate, both due to natural causes, disease, hazardous occupations, and violence. Without a context to understand how this is dealt with in an explanation of men's control of the world, I reserve the right to disagree)
It was a coincidence that both of these issues, similar in their expression of a particular mode of thought I have, would be stressed during the same 2-day period. Not sure if it means anything at all, but I can feel that I developed a real need to communicate my position without offense, but also without being intimidated. I only bring this up again because Suzanne was asking why I kept talking about it.
I grant that there's been massive amounts of intelligent and honorable feminist research. As there has been massive, intelligent and honorable amounts of racial/Afrocentric research. Never have I suggested that white people needed to be familiar with it to understand race relations. All I've ever said you needed was to actually know and talk to black people, and extend them the exact same humanity you extend to members of your family, and reserve for yourself. I fail to see how playing by the same rules in both contexts is in any way disrespectful or dismissive of women or those who love them.
I've been writing on BUZZWORD for the last few weeks. Except for the moments in which my internet gets funky, it works almost perfectly. I understand that Adobe is developing an offline version that will meld with it seamlessly. Can't wait.
Went to the Renaissance Pleasure Faire on Sunday, and could only stay for about three hours. It was blistering hot. It was also smaller and less well attended than in many years past. And the frozen ices, which I've loved for twenty-five years, were smaller and of a changed formulation--they've become commercialized. I swear I could taste preservatives. Sigh. I remember John D. MacDonald complaining that whenever a good thing is created, it is mass-marketed and made a little cheaper and tackier. That may be kicking in here...
Jason is watching Curious George this morning, sitting next to me on the couch while I write this. I have to admit to liking the monkey quite a bit. No matter what kind of mess he makes, he always has the best of intentions, and usually ends up making the situation better.
Thom Hartmann did an interesting survey on his radio show. He talked to Clinton or Obama supporters and asked them to give an "elevator talk" for the opposite candidate. And in most cases, they could not. The situation really has gotten bad. I don't remember whether in pat years, given similar acrimony, a party has healed sufficiently to defeat the opposition. It's going to be interesting to watch.
The questions of race and gender in America regarding politics seems to me to miss something. When people look at Hillary and talk about her toughness and pugnacity, or at Obama and talk about his articulateness and transcendent nature, they are touching on this. And what I'm seeing is that the question of whether America is ready for a female president, or a black president, is missing something.
Because the people who say "yes" in both cases are, I think, actually saying
"America will vote for a man with a vagina and breasts. Or a white person with black skin." Hillary seems to believe--and she may be right--that she has to out-guy the guys to have a chance. And Obama's greatest problem relates directly to race--Reverend Wright. For comparison, if Hillary had a dear friend and mentor who had committed violence as an Abortion activist, and that association had become a major campaign issue, it would be reasonable to say that her gender had turned into a stumbling block.
In both cases, questions of her marriage, his ethnicity, etc. have dogged them. Underneath the questions, I think it's fair to say that so long as America can see her as a man with feminine genetics, or Obama as a white person who happens to have half-African features, that the fact of gender or race is irrelevant. But she isn't. And neither is he. A remarkable thing about both of them is that they DO fit the gender and/or race-neutral roles so well. The real question is: what happens when they have to deal directly with the issues that relate to these factors, and how does it affect their chances? Just a thought. I'm not sure whether it would be better for them, or the country, if the issues never came up, or if they were front-and-center from the beginning. Hey--the very same might be true for McCain and age. Three very important issues onstage simultaneously. What an election THIS is! Americans are about to learn a lot about themselves, if they pay attention.
And the question of the day is: what, if anything, do you think we'll learn?
Posted by Steven Barnes at 7:47 AM
Sunday, April 27, 2008
ﾠI was asked to try to prove my point about men not really being in control using a similar methodolgy to what I used with black men and sexuality. If this feels like torturous logic to some, all I can say is that I'm not screwing around with you: it's genuinely the way I think.
ﾠHere's how I reason:
ﾠ1) If someone is in control, they modify the situation so that it is either even, or to their advantage.
2) If the situation is to their advantage, the disadvantaged group should have a diminished life expectancy, and a diminished perceived quality of life.
3) There are very obvious and incontestable horrors perpetrated upon women by men, as well as a generalized oppression.
4) I believe that there is an evolutionary force, which prepares and creates males to fulfill a protective role that also involves increased aggression.
5) Both men and women are programmed to consider men's lives less important than women's. It is for this reason that the statistics for men's longevity or violent death don't enter into the discussion: they just don't matter as much.
6) Okay, here's where I use the same method: An evidence that men's lives are not as valuable as women's can be found in popular entertainment. Look at the movies that have earned over 100 million dollars--in other words, which have been totally embraced by our culture. On a list of almost 400 films, I can find only two (Fatal Attraction, and Chicago) in which more women die than men. There are several where whole cities go up (or a ship goes down), of course--these pretty much cancel out. But there are more than fifty where the death toll for men as opposed to women ranges from 10:1 (Maybe Forrest Gump?) to many hundreds to zero (300?). Who cares? They're drones. Men's lives don't count. In fact, millions of men and women (myself included) find it quite entertaining to watch men die. The closest equivilent is slasher movies--and even there plenty of men are slaughtered. It is possible that more women die in these films--I think it could go either way. But one thing is certain: they are nowhere near as indicative of a broad cultural mood, or programming. They typically make 20-40 million, no where near the level we're discussing.
We program little boys to think it glorious to get their balls shot off. We put glorious images of noble death in every medium known to man: story, song, poem, movies, television--there is not escaping it. I grasp what the negative effects have been, and are, but know that both men and women collaborate in the programming of boys and girls. The result is useful--but it isn't pretty. I'm not saying its evil to create the images (I've done plenty of it myself), I'm saying that you have to grasp that we are all playing parts in a game that doesn't much care about us as individuals.
While many--including many men--think men are in control, I disagree. I think our genes are both blessing and cluster-fucking both sides of the equation.
ﾠIf I'm wrong, I'm wrong, but I'm not trying to make some kind of political point, and I have no agenda other than freedom and equality for all sentient beings. Any other conclusion you come to can be attributed to imperfect communication on my part, and I apologize. No offense was intended, at all.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 10:38 PM
1) I never said men don't control more executive positions and overstructure power. I said that that isn't the only form of power or control.
2) I have never denied a single fact that has been quoted or suggested about women being abused, under-compensated, denied the vote, or whatever. My only point has been that these statistics never take into account the factors that are to the detriment of men--like dying violent deaths.
3) Suzanne, was that link intended to be a gentle chide? If so, sure, I'm a man who talks about the way the world looks from my position. Like there are women who talk about the way it looks from theirs. I fail to see the difference.
4) I've listened to plenty of white people speak authoritatively about race relations. And every one knew black people, and none of them suggested blacks were less, or to blame for my circumstances. I had no problem. I never said I know more about women's lives than women do. I said that I seem to be considering the questions of men's lives more than they do. And that one cannot make a comparison--or come to conclusions about "who is in control" without factoring both in. I have the exact same right to discuss the male side of the issue that women have discussing the female side.
5) Show me the paper, or study, that attempts to create a hierarchy of human values accepted by people all over the world, at least half the respondants women. Then have people list where they think they are. My guess? Men have more money, political and military power. Women get to live longer, die more peacefully, spend more time with their families, and have more satisfying human relationships. My point is that when people think men are coming out ahead, they NEVER discuss both sides: they just give a list of the areas women have (admittedly real and important) problems in.
6) I can certainly start clipping specific comments from women or those commenting on women's issues that relate to the "men are running the world to the detriment of women" meme.
7) I've been in favor of every women's rights issue I know of, including aspects of affirmative action I don't support for black people. My only point is that I don't believe that men come out ahead--I think that they SEEM to if you buy into a male value structure. That that value structure is brain-washing to control young men, and that neither men OR women are in control of this game.
8) I've made equally controversial comments concerning race, especially the "black people are responsible for their lives" comment, which has triggered responses of "race traitor." In saying that men and women have created this world together, I seem to be treading on toes. In saying that the only way I'd believe that men were actually on top of this game is if they got more of what everyone wants--and they don't. They get more of SOME of what we as humans want. And women get more of others.
9) If women the world over thought their quality of life satisfaction was lower than men's, again I might agree that men were in control. But if men are in control, and women report satisfying lives in the same proportion as men...then where is this advantage? Only if you get hypnotized by looking at a few indices WAY up on Maslow's hierarchy, and ignore the lower-level, more basic stuff does this make sense to me.
If there are other studies that indicate that, on average, women report a lower level of life satisfaction, please show me.
10) Remember: quoting statistics that prove that women are bested by men in a variety of important indices is valuable, but not determinative. We would have to create some kind of system to measure all the advantages and disadvantags of being male and female, weight them against each other, and total up. I know of no one engaging in such a project. Do you? And if we don't have that information, then I have to agree that the women I've known who felt that "the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world" and other sayings that have to do with the comparative powers of men and women were right. I'm not ignoring them. I'm taking them seriously. Now I'm being told that if I look at men and women as being really, truly equal I'm being this typical condescending male. I honestly don't see that.
11) If at any time, in any way, I've ever suggested that women shouldn't go to any school they want, have any job they want, are in any way less intelligent than men, or worthy in any way...if I've implied that men have the right to hit or dominate women in any way, please point it out. I say that men have exactly the right to comment on male-female relations that women do--no more, and no less. And that women are going to tend to know more about what women's lives are, and men more about what men's lives are about. At no time did I say that what women are saying about their lives is factually wrong. I say only that they seem to omit data when they compare their lives to men's.
12) My basic point is that yes, men think they're running the world. And that they are wrong. No one is. Our biology, or God, or whatever, is running both games. If you buy into the illusion, it looks like men are sitting pretty. Until you add up the toll. At which point it is as impossible come to a useful conclusion as it is on the "are women more disadvantaged than black people" argument--you simply can't come to a conclusion without discounting someone's misery. And if men are in control...but things aren't any better for them...then excuse me, but I'm missing something here.
13) I think one of the problems is that people worry that what I'm saying might be used to justify abuse, or neglect. You know? You may be right, and if that's true I'm sorry. But the same is true of my saying that black people are responsible for the crime in their communities--true, they're not at fault, but they ARE responsible. As men are responsible for any behaviors that they instigate, even if those behaviors are triggered and motivated by social or biological forces beyond their conscious awareness.
14) If there is a feminist web site or article that DOES try to take the factors of male mortality and male-on-male violence into account in reference to the question of "who rules the world"--please tell me where it is. My only real point is that no one's really in control, no matter how much Men might like to think they are.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 3:13 PM
Saturday, April 26, 2008
You will have noticed that I cling to the notion that human beings are basically good-or that their basic instincts mostly lead to actions and feelings we call "good." Liberals or Conservatives, black or white, men or women...I refuse to take the position that one is better, or better intentioned, than the other. But it is possible for things to sway out of control. For instance, I see a period of greater feminine energy coming...and I welcome it. Cool. But I won't stand by and make a politically correct agreement that men have controlled the world game to some extreme degree. While I KNOW that my attitude is probably going to be off-target at bit at times, I have found that I stay much closer to reality by STARTING with the assumption that we're about the same, and then adjusting, than by STARTING with the assumption that one side or the other is better, or superior, and modify from there.
Moving toward evolution, or enlightenment, is a matter of resolving dualities, not getting stuck in the "us-themism." It can be hard, and I have been pretty much called a race traitor (for instance) for refusing to believe whites are evil. And a race apologist who won't open his eyes for not admitting blacks must be intellectually inferior. And a political coward for not admitting conservatives are evil, or whatever. And I just don't buy any of it. I need ever ounce of my energy to keep moving forward, to burn away my own illusions. And every time I resolve a duality, it frees energy. Ah...I'm not white or black, I'm human. Now from that perspective, watch the war. Interesting. Ah...I'm not male or female, I'm human. From that perspective, look at the interesting games nature plays to keep the ball rolling. Interesting. Ah...I'm not human or animal...I am alive. Look a the way reality looks from that perspective. Ah...I'm not alive or inanimate. I AM. How does reality look from there? And most intriguing, "I neither Am nor Am Not." My conscious mind rebels, but I can catch the implication from the corner of my eye, and it is an absolute hoot.
So thank you for letting me air out my thoughts here. Anyone who knows me well knows I have sacrificed much time and money trying to make the world safer for women, and I have nothing but contempt for any man who hurts one. I have no agenda to keep the present power structure going, except insofar as it makes the world safer for children, and allows adults to mature to full capacity. I believe in the sanctity of the human soul, and that, beyond all the games, we are really quite remarkable. While I plan to vote for Hillary or Barack in the general election, I don't believe McCain would break us...humanity is stronger than its institutions. I don't like the political games I see Hillary playing, but in truth she is simply a master of the game she was presented with when she started walking this path decades ago. She didn't create it.
But on that subject...I wonder if Hillary really grasps how ugly the Impeachment stuff would be in the general election? I suspect that she is a bit in denial about that. She would have to be (in my mind) to stay married to Bill. Her choice will make sense to people who would do something similar. But to those of us who would not, dragging her sexual business into the light will be devastating. And then there is the whole matter of her husband's disbarment. Excuse me? If Michelle Obama had been disbarred for lying to Congress, I do believe that issue would have come up. Obama has been VERY cool not to go there...but I can't begin to believe it isn't going to turn into a nightmare in the General, something the Republicans have to be licking their chops over. This whole situation is WAY intense. Part of me is heartbroken, another part pops the popcorn and watches the fun.
Guess I'm just a sick puppy.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 8:48 AM
Friday, April 25, 2008
Regarding men and women: the exact same gate that bars any conclusion that whites are intrinsically evil for slavery and racism bars a conclusion that men are intrinsically evil for sexism and violence toward women. I just don't see human beings that way. I look for basic tendencies that manifest differently in different circumstances. I see advantages and disadvantages for both groups, different styles of power and manipulation and control in both groups. But male and female is a complementary whole, not a separate group--the rules are very different.
I have more reason to think whites are evil or lesser than that men are. And if they're not, then it makes sense of my contention that what's really going on here is a gigantic cooperative clusterfuck clouding the minds and hearts of both men and women in the service of producing maximum children. Insisting that men get more out of life than women, when women themselves seem to indicate this is not true (by life satisfaction index) implies to me that there is important wiring here that is protected by guilt, blame, and shame. And that nature doesn't want us to look at it. Which makes it all the more important that anyone seeking to surpass their basic programming MUST look at it.
Anyway, that's genuinely what goes through my mind. To more specifically relate this to slavery, I think that men and women, blacks and whites, are equal spirits. It took black people 400 years to move from total slavery to a situation where the gap is one of tricky statistics, and one of us is the front-runner for President. Women have been working at this for a thousand times as long. To believe that they couldn't have found a way to level the field more than some of you seem to think would imply actual incompetance and incapacity...and if I genuinely think women are equal, the advantage of physical strength alone doesn't cut it. Anyone willing to die can equalize that in a heartbeat--its the advantage that every oppressed people has always had. I can't disbelieve the women who say that their lives are as satisfying, or look at the grotesque damage to men connected to violence and aggression and not conclude that the things that drive us as a species takes about equal toll on either side...but the damage and goodies are different. If you make the mistake of buying into either the male or female world views, it will look like the other side is either lesser or greater. I say they're just different, and complementary.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 2:44 PM
Now this is excellent, excellent news. Rewatched "Lord of the Rings" this week, and am even more convinced it is one of the high-marks in the history world cinema. And I'm not a "Rings" fan, and I resent the all-white cast with the only dark skin belonging to evildoers. So you know I MUST be impressed.
Interesting background. Robert Shaye at New Line brought in Peter Jackson to do "Rings" and then apparently used the standard wonky bookkeeping to deny him some of the profits. Jackson protested, and Shaye tried to embarass him publicly. Then Shaye made a mistake: he tried to prove he didn't need Jackson to make a smash, and made "Golden Compass" which tanked domestically. That and other mistakes led to the death of New Line as an independent entity. Now, then...New Line clears the legal rights for "Hobbit" with the Tolkien estate, and lures Jackson back to the fold--as executive producer. Shortly after this, Shaye leaves New Line.
My guess? Jackson said: "sure, I'll save your asses. The price is that you can Shaye. I'll never work with that bastard again." And they gave Shaye the boot, while letting him save face by leaving a few weeks later for unspecified reasons.
God, I love intrigue. Anyway, "Hobbit" will be two films. The first will tell the story of Bilbo, and the second will bridge the time between the Hobbit and "Fellowship of the Ring." I cannot wait.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 10:26 AM
I've had an ongoing conversation with a friend who believes 9/11 was a total conspiracy. There are three things that leap out of her scenario that automatically trips the "bullshit" alarm.
1) her theory demands that BOTH the planes were auto-controlled into the towers, AND the towers were set to demolish. Since I believe that the plane-hits alone would be enough to trigger a war (which she believes was the point), the idea of setting the WTC for demolition in addition is overkill of a grotequely inefficient and dangerous kind. As far as I know, there would be no way of coordinating a demolition on two buildings that size without massive eveidence: stripped walls, thousands of pounds of explosives, hundreds of workmen preparing the building for weeks. No such activity was reported by survivors.
2) The sheer number of conspirators, including tens of thousands of physicists, structural engineer and demolition specialists who, by their published comments or massive silence are either fools or knaves.
3) If you want to trigger a war with Iraq...uh...wouldn't it make sense to have some Iraqis on the plane? Duh.
Just for the sake of argument, does anyone see any obvious flaws with my logic?
What do celebrities owe? Wesley Snipes has been sentenced to three years. Sigh. I'm not suggesting it was unfair--his co-conspirators got a lot more time. I'm suggesting that it is sad, and a waste. Celebrities definitely get a break in jury trials, and even the way they are often treated by the police. The downside is that they have so much light on them that they make great object examples. My grief comes from knowing the man, that's all.
This morning I did a little Googling on the matter of men and women in the world. I think it's a fertile arena, because I think that examining the relationships between men and women has a lovely parallel to the internal wars all human beings wage.
What I looked for was an answer to the question: "worldwide, what is the comparative life satisfaction of men and women?" If I make the basic assumption that men and women are equal in basic qualities of perception and honesty, then if, for instance, the average woman experienced less subjective life satisfaction than the average man worldwide (depending on the divide), it would be a powerful argument that women get the short end of the stick.
I only looked into it briefly, because I thought the best thing to do would be to throw the subject open, and let you guys educate me. But the first data I came across that seemed at all valuable seemed to be from a feminist-perspective study at a university (if I posted this some months ago, I'm sorry. I only got four hours of sleep last night, and I'm a little foggy)
"An apparently paradoxical finding in the literature is that women show
higher rates of depression than men, but also report higher levels of well-being.
At the same time, the majority of studies find no gender differences in life
Life satisfaction. These conflicting findings can be resolved by considering the range
of affect that men and women typically experience. Women report
experiencing affect -- both positive and negative -- with greater intensity and
frequency than do men. That is, women tend to experience greater joy and
deeper sadness -- and experience these emotions more often -- than do men.
Hence, measures of depression and subjective well-being, which include
affective components, appear to capture the extreme lows that leave women
vulnerable to depression, as well as the extreme highs that allow for greater
well-being. By contrast, men and women report similar rates of global life satisfaction, which is primarily a cognitive assessment.
Despite similar levels of life satisfaction across gender, women and men
appear to derive life satisfaction from different sources. For example, Ed
Diener and Frank Fujita (1995) found that social resources (i.e., family, friends,
access to social services) are predictive of life satisfaction or both men and
women, but they are more predictive of life satisfaction for women. Perhapsﾠ
women’s roles as the conservators of contact with friends and family -- both a
blessing and a burden -- lead to their relatively greater reliance on social
support. By contrast, factors that may be more relevant to men’s personal
goals, such as athleticism, influential connections, and authority, were found to
be related to life satisfaction for men, but not for women."
I found that interesting, and more or less in line with what I've observed. My feeling is this: men are high-performance short-lived worker/fighter drones. The EXACT same psychological tendencies and hormonal cocktails that make it possible to respond to aggression or predation with efficiency also burns us out, separates us from our emotions, and makes us trend more toward violence (than women) even in family situations.
This is horrible, and must cease. No argument that the rates of violence toward women by men are inexcusible. No excuse...but there ARE reasons. And the trend toward violence, and hierarchicalism, doesn't really serve men, although to (what I consider to be) a superficial level, it appears to.
For me to believe that men have this worldwide edge, at least one of two things would have to be true.
1) Men would have to direct more violence toward women than they address toward other men. They do not, by a long shot.
2) Women would have to routinely consider their lives to be less satisfying than men. I can't find this data. Perhaps you can.
And there is a third thing that is almost as important, but is too subjective and therefore vulnerable to being twisted by my own wishful thinking:
3) Men would have to get a higher percentage of those things considered most ultimately valuable in life. By my standards, they do not.
That #3 is tricky, and I admit it. But if you got a group of men and women together, especially mature men and women over 50, let's say, and ask them what the very most important values in their lives might be...
Or if you asked people on their death beds what they wish they'd spent more time doing...
Or listened to the great spiritual and moral leaders about what makes a good life
And considered those answers to be the real keys to the kingdom, I submit to you that men don't get more of that stuff at all.
What DO they get more of? The stuff teenaged boys dream about. Power, glory, wealth. In other words, fool's gold. In fact, to broaden that, men get more of the things men value. But then, women get more of the things WOMEN value.
Which means that if you make the mistake of thinking that the things immature men value are actually the most important thing in life, you'll make the further mistake of concluding that men are qualitatively better (or much better) off than women. Conversely, though, if you accepted WOMEN'S values as the most important things, women would come off better, with better relationships, more time with family, more honest expression of emotions, etc.
Looking at the quote from the academic paper above, one might explain women's reactions by stating that, although they are in greater pain than men, they have greater depths of strength to deal with it. Very interesting--so, then, not only are men brutal, but they are weak. I ask a question: is it possible to sustain the belief that women have it worse than men without taking the parallel position that women are superior to men? It seems to me that that might be a bit difficult.
If a poison gas rolled through a town, triggering men to kill 20% of the women and 40% of each other, despite the fact that it was men doing the killing, this situation hardly worked to the advantage of men. This is kind of how I look at testosterone poisoning. Nature decided upon this particular chemical cocktail to produce warriors and hunters. Societies formed afterward, reinforcing the glory of testosterone, and encouraging young men to march merrily into cannon fire. A side effect is explosive violence (especially when mixed with alcohol), stifled emotions, shortened lives.
Those boys bought the lie, a lie that is quite efficient at producing empires and acquiring resources to keep children alive. And women are definitely more controlled under such a system. The problem seems to be that, pre-technology, the systems where women are freest are also the most vulnerable to external predation.
Can you see the paradox and dilemma? Women are punished when they want to be Alphas. Men are punished if they want to be Betas. Women express their emotions more, so we hear about their pain. Men repress their emotions (no one cares!) and as a result suffer in silence.
This makes sense of the world to me. Remember that list of things that I wanted to see equal between blacks and whites?
1) Infant mortality rate
2) Incarceration rates
3) Life expectancy
4) Inherited Wealth
5) Net Worth
6) Death by violence
As far as I can see, it's a toss-up if I apply this same standard between men and women. Women have it better on life expectancy, incarceration rates, and death by violence. Infant mortality rate? Not sure how to measure that, since men don't have babies. Net worth? Men win. Inherited wealth? Well...I'm not checking my facts on this this morning, but some years back I heard that most inherited wealth was actually in the hands of women. Perhaps one of you could fact-check that for me.
Obviously, one could say that that list doesn't apply. But remember: this is the stuff that for about ten years, I've hoped and dreamed and prayed for concerning my ethnic group. White women trump black people on ALL of them, so I am skeptical about some feminist rhetoric. And women in general at LEAST equal men in these categories.
There are other categories, certainly. As I said, these may not be valid applied to gender. I am quite sure that some will say that, because so much violence is directed at women BY men, the fact that far more men than women are victims to violence is irrelevant. And as I said, I think that deep down inside such people believe women to be superior--are, in essence, female chauvinists. Which are morally equivalent in my book to male chauvinists. Or am I missing something?
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:48 AM
Thursday, April 24, 2008
There's an article in this month's Scientific American Mind about the effects of self-image on performance which is fascinating. Most of it is on the web: look it up. One of the experiments was absolutely elegant. They took a group of Asian women and gave them a math-weighted intelligence test. Half were told that because they were women, they wouldn't do as well as men. The other half was told that because they were Asian, they would do better than average. Easy to imagine what happened, right? Right.
Take a look back a couple of subjects to the conversation about good boys/bad boys, etc., and we get a perfect example of where the problem in examining human relationships occurs: each side (men and women) seem to believe that the other side has the advantage.
To me, suggesting that men are running the game, and have been for twenty thousand years or so, simply isn't possible unless women are inferior mentally and emotionally. ISN'T POSSIBLE. To me, something else has to be going on. The men who resent women and the women who resent men are exactly the same in my book, and if you flipped their genders, they would behave exactly the same as the people they abhor. This is the same as whites who think blacks are intellectually inferior, or blacks who think whites are evil. Flip their race, and they'd be their own worst enemies.
I've been down this road many, many times. Women who think men are in control ALWAYS ignore the fact that most of the victims of violent crime are men, and look at the carnage on a battle-field (generally all men) and say, "well, men start the wars..." Well that's great, but it begs the question of WHY.
If it's nearly universal, then it's anchored in our biology. Which implies that aggression in males is a serious survival trait for an individual or society. Which relates to the survival of more children--which is of benefit to both men and women. Men didn't decide that women would be the ones who get pregnant--nature did. If men are these horrible dominating creatures, blame God, or Nature, not man.
But I think the game is different from that, that men and women are the same animals with different wedding tackle, and that each side has a schetoma about it's negative effects on the other.
Someone commented about how black people know more about their lives than whites, and therefore must be considered the experts. And that the same courtesy should be extended to women. That, in other words, men should be careful in having too much confidence in their opinions about them. I see the argument, but it isn't quite valid.
A white person who grew up in a 50% black neighborhood, whose address book is 50% black, and 50% of their family (by marriage, let's say) is black and a big chunk of their employers, educators, students, co-workers and neighbors and ALL of their lovers had been black (looking at this from a heterosexual perspective, of course) I'd think that if they didn't know black people they were IDIOTS.
Men and women SHOULD know each other as they know themselves. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that's exactly true. That, in other words, from my own point of view, the more a man or woman considers the opposite sex to be "different" and/or "to blame" for the problems of the world, the less they know themselves. Frankly, I think the major reason I've never had a problem having women as friends or lovers is that I don't seem much difference. Most of the people I talk to who think there's some huge difference have a pretty miserable record with the opposite sex.
What is that truth? That the surest way to raise the standard of living (as well as health stats overall) is women's equality? I buy this completely. Then you have to consider the reverse to be true as well: the surest way to trash your standard of living is to REPRESS women. Afghanistan, for instance, had a dreadful record of women's rights--and, if I'm not mistaken, the highest infant mortality rate in the world. That's the road to extinction. You simply cannot sink half a boat. Men might well jocky for the FRONT of the boat, but to continue the analogy, when the ship is sinking, they know they have to protect "women and children first."
Contrast this with race relations. Whites literally COULD kill every black person on the planet, and still survive just fine. As blacks could kill all the whites, or Asians could kill off everyone. Whatever urges to domination and control exist within the human psyche (women conditioning men to be more aggressive, men conditioning women to be more passive) that shit REALLY takes off if you actually don't need the other group--and fear that the other group might actually kill you and take your resources.
In comparison, the "war" between men and women is a family argument. Yes, from time to time there is brutality, and feelings are hurt, and people even die. But in general, men and women LOVE each other as they love almost nothing else in this world. They need each other, hunger for each other. They yearn to spend their lives together. They move heaven and earth to be together. They die and kill for one another, and sacrifice fortune and fame to build lives together.
To my knowledge, there is no case, anywhere in the world, at any point in history, of the men of a town, city, state, or nation killing all of their own women There are uncounted instances of one ethnic or racial group slaughtering and utterly exterminating another. I wouldn't doubt that men might have killed all the women--or vice versa--some little teeny village somewhere...but any imaginable human behavior has been done SOMEWHERE. The point is that slaughter of another ethnic group is just business as usual for humanity. Slaughter of all woman is SUICIDE. There is a gigantic difference, and it's easy to miss it--everyone's pain feels like Everest to them, if they lack perspective.
Years ago, I came up with a list of requirements for racial parity. I said something to the effect that I'd consider that the playing field is level when there is parity between white and black for:
1) Life expectancy
2) Infant mortality rate
3) Inherited Wealth
4) Incarceration rates
5) Net Worth
6) Death by violence
Look at this. When people started asking about whether, in America, blacks or women have it worse, so far as I know women have the advantage over blacks in every single one of these categories. Now, I'm not saying that my standards apply with fairness and elegance. I mention them to suggest why I PERSONALLY can't agree that women in America have it worse--I would literally have to ignore damage being done to the basic levels of Maslow's heirerarchy. Most of the things women complain about have to do with higher levels: presence in the executive board room, education (in the past), self-expression. For me to think it was worse, I would need to see something impacting women so that they DIED earlier, on average.
Any society, anywhere in the world, that is so screwed up that it's women are dying at a faster rate than their men is a society in collapse. Period.
This is why I kinda think that in life, "men's lives are disposable, as are women's dreams."
It's horrible. But what we're trying to do is create a world where both lives and dreams are precious for all. When you look at the different ways the mating game is played, to me, the thing to ask is: "if men and women are equally intelligent, equally moral and strong, how do their most basic human drives propagate through different reproductively weighted neurology to create the societies and customs we see?"
Both sides tend to assume superiority, trust me. It is gloriously easy to provoke a group of either men or women into prating on about why their side is the best. In my mind, this mode of thought is precisely the same as racism, homophobia, cultural elitism, or whatever. It is the standard "we rule, you drool" crap that Octavia Butler was afraid would doom us as a species.
We've going to get beyond it people. I hope you're around for the ride.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:51 AM
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Got my Amazon Kindle two days ago. For those who don't know, it's an electronic book that can hold 200 volumes, play MP3s and connects wirelessly to the Internet. I think it's glaringly obvious that some version of this technology is the future of reading. About the size of a paperback book, you can shop online at Amazon and have your books downloaded in about 60 seconds. The price of books? Varies from about 50% of the bookstore price down to a buck for public domain material like "The Complete Shakespeare" to maybe a dime if you download it from Project Gutenberg. I think I'll tend to use it more for research than pleasure reading, though. It looks and feels kinda like an Apple wanna-be. If Apple had made it, I would expect more elegance, whereas what we have here is functionality.
My guess? Jason will grow up with these things, and consider printed books antiquated. Whatever. Anything that makes information cheaper and more available is just fine with me.
Feeling "Blah" today, and there might be four or five different reasons for that, including being slightly overtrained. I'm taking the day off from working out, will do yoga tomorrow, and see how I feel on Friday.
"Buzzword," the online Word Processor, is still cool in my book. My desktop Mac has some problems with it, but they seem related to the internet connection, rather than the program itself. My laptop works fine. I think they have a winner.
Kinda fun watching Hillary and Barack both claiming victory after Pennsylvania. It's true: it's all about who can frame the debate and control the story. Personally, I thought if she won by less than 5% it was a victory for Obama. Over about 12%, a victory for Clinton. She won by 8.6%, which makes it a draw in my book. She needed to win big. So far she's done nothing that would prevent me from voting for her. But I could imagine a scenario where back-room deals are cut that feel...unfair. Now, I understand that this isn't about fair play. So I'm not saying my reactions would make sense. But if something nasty goes down, I would really have to close my eyes and think of England when I pull the switch for her, and I don't want that. I want to be enthusiastic. I don't think I could be enthusiastic about McCain unless he were to seriously denounce the Iraq debacle and what I see as an inept Bush administration. I don't think he'll do that. Which means he either agrees with the policies, or is playing dangerous political games. Either one is bad to me.
On the other hand, I resented it when Liberal talk radio pilloried him for making an obvious statement "there will be more wars," as if he had said "I want to have more wars." That struck me as unfair and dishonest.
The question of the day is: What do you think of the future of electronic books like the Kindle? Would you use them? Why or why not?
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:07 AM
Tuesday, April 22, 2008
Apparently, David Hasslehoff divorced his wife, and as part of his settlement, got the right to use catch phrases such as "don't Hassle the Hoff" and so forth. Ah, Hasslehoff. I actually worked with him twice. Baywatch, of course. But back in the beginning of my Hollywood career, I was a tour guide at CBS Television City. One of the things I did was act as security guard on the sets (ask me about Lily Tomlin sometime...I have a great story. Nice lady.) Anyway, I did guard work on "The Young and the Restless", where Hasslehoff played a doctor (I think) named Snapper (I think.) At any rate, one lunchtime I ended up having lunch with the girl who played his girlfriend on the show. Just sitting in the commisary (ask me about the time I ran into Michael Jackson there) muchng sandwiches or something, talking about life and the Business. At one point, she let something slip: that Hasslehoff was REALLY a nasty kisser in their love scenes. I'll never forget the face she made. Ah, the things actresses do for money...
But on "Baywatch" I was impressed by the fact that he didn't take the whole thing seriously at all. He knew this wasn't "Hamlet." And helped create a very laid-back atmosphere that was tremendous fun (ask me about my Pam Anderson story some time...)
Primaries continue. Turned on CNN and there were several women talking about their choice of candidate. It was interesting how swiftly one of them said that "it is Hillary's time." I've never heard an Obama supporter use quite that phrasing, and it is tempting to think that, yes, there i a sense of entitlement going on here. There is something that I DO think is strange about the Liberal radio world and blogosphere. That is that everyone seems to be either neutral or Pro-Obama. Men, women, whatever. It's very odd, and I'm not sure what to think about it. Frankly, the last couple of weeks of the campaign have seemed improved in tone, and I hear her making a case for her Presidency in a more positive way...still can't believe her implications that McCain would be better than Obama. I've never heard someone promoting the other party's candidate before. That's either extraordinarily low, or extraordinarily honest. Hmmm.
A comment from a reader caught my interest. It had to do with men being "nice guys" and getting passed over by women (a complaint I've heard all my life, and experienced for a good chunk of it). A female reader said that women who go after "nice guys" get hurt at least as often--if not more--than the "nice guys" themselves.
Now, this isn't a complaint I've heard before. This is what I've seen:
1) Guys who are "nice guys" complaining that women aren't attracted to them. They end up being "friends" while the girls go after "bad boys." Then when the ladies get their hearts broken, they commiserate with the "nice guys" and sometimes tearfully say "why can't I fall for a nice guy like you..?"
2) Girls who would LIKE to have a relationship with a "nice guy" but find that they are turned on by "bad boys"--and then get their hearts broken. Over and over. The "nice guys" just don't turn them on, and they want that "chemistry."
Now, of course I know guys who are "nice guys" who find terrific relationships, and women who are attracted to them. But the discussion here is about typical complaints, and those folks ain't complaining. As a corollary, another thing I hear women complain about is that their level of power makes it hard to find men. True, I've heard women complain that beauty can put guys off as well, but rather obviously that ain't the way to bet.
My question here is an honest one. Women, if deliberately seeking out "nice guys" is getting you hurt, what exactly is the pain? Is it that "nice guys" end up being assholes, so it's better to go after a "bad boy" from the beginning?
You all know that my starting position for any of these discussions is that men and women screw each other over about equally, so I take convincing to believe that either men or women are getting the short end of the stick on this stuff. But I admit to being taken aback a bit here. I'm not sure I'd ever heard that one before.
I'd love to have today's question have to do with this matter. While "niceguy/bad boy" is a simplistic distinction, for the sake of casual discussion I think we all know what I mean, and I hope you'll excuse the need to simplify in order to dissect. So, ladies: has specifically seeking "nice guys" seemed to cause more grief than happines in your life, and the lives of your friends?
The equivalent for guys might have a touch of that old song "if you wanna be happy for the rest of your life, never make a pretty woman your wife..." that is, that homely girls are nicer than beautiful ones. While I would never take the position that that was true, the opposite would seem almost grotesque: " beautiful women are nicer than plain ones" --that statement would raise my eyebrows instantly. Hmmm. Any thoughts? Or is this just sour grapes on the part of men or women who can't take responsibility for their personal failings on the level of relationship? Or insight of unusual honesty and clarity?
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:03 AM
Monday, April 21, 2008
Another thought on "Forbidden Kingdom." In the history of American-made martial arts films, it is probably one of the very best. "Enter The Dragon" will always be special, showcasing a virtually superhuman performance, capturing moments of intensity onfilm that have never been seen before or since. But for all its flaws (and there are some real hoots) it is still remarkable that it got made at all. Don't blame America for not putting Chan and Li together before: hell, the Chinese film industry could have done it long ago. Whatever the problems might have been, Hollywood worked it out, not Hong Kong. Frankly, I'm tickled.
You can turn almost any activity into a "Yoga" with the proper mindfulness. If Mastery is automatically, without thought, doing the correct thing, then the door to Mastery is attention. Being able to perform an act or motion without a single break in focus. A way to do this is Coach Sonnon's "Pain at level 3, Grace 8+, Intensity 6" formula. If you concentrate on the breathing, and NEVER let your pain go above 3 on a subjective scale of 1-10, this is good. Wait until your level of "grace" gets above a 7 or 8 before you let your level of intensity rise above a 6. If you do this, you turn exercise into meditation.
Just got home from Yoga. Am surprised I made it: the water heater went bust last night, and I didn't notice it until this morning. T insisted I go to yoga anyway, and I'm glad I did. Big class, hot room, but I kept my attention on my breathing and 3rd Chakra, and came out of class feeling centered and energized. Nice.
The kid who co-stars with Jackie Chan and Jet Li in "Forbidden Kingdom" strikes me as having some actual martial arts skill. If so, what an incredible trip it must have been traveling to China to work with them both! Unreal. I asked myself: what was the greatest fantasy wish fulfillment of my life? Traveling to Tanzania? Meeting Arthur C. Clarke or Robert Heinlein? Writing for Twilight Zone or Outer Limits? Heck, writing a "Batman"? Not sure. There are probably other things. But the question for the day is: what is the greatest wish fulfillment you ever pulled off? Especially if it was connected to a childhood dream. Love to hear your thoughts!
Posted by Steven Barnes at 11:35 AM
Sunday, April 20, 2008
"FORBIDDEN KINGDOM" (2008)
ﾠI really only have one complaint with this movie: why couldn't it have been made ten years ago? Jackie Chan and Jet Li are past their peak...but still, arguably, better than anyone in the world. Yes, it's a mash-up of every convention of Chinese martial arts epics, and yes, it is Americanized as hell (what would you expect? It's our money. It has to appeal to our audiences. And at 55 million dollars, the box office for "Crouching Tiger" would barely break even--and trust me, this is no "Crouching Tiger.") Micheal Angorano ("Sky High") plays a kung-fu obsessed teenager who must return a sacred staff to the legendary Monkey King in a mythical, magical Imperial China. Along the way he meets a drunken-style indigent (Jackie Chan, who also plays an elderly shopkeeer) and a mysterious monk (Jet Li, who also plays the Monkey king). Look, this isn't the very best of Chinese cinema. But I promise you it's better than LOTS of Chinese epics I enjoyed the hell out of as a boy. And they put honest effort into it. Angorano is a decent actor, and actually moves with a bit of physical fluidity (he compares quite favorably with Keanu Reeves, trained by the same team for "Matrix").
ﾠAnd as for Jackie and Jet. Look. Life isn't perfect. But the chance to see them together is infinitely more satisfying than watching the few moments of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly dancing together ("That's Enertainment: Part 2" and the "Babbit and the Bromide" sketch in "Zigfield Follies"). And the comparison is apt. Jet is Astaire--he is the superior martial artist. Jackie Chan is Kelly--who wasn't the dancer Astaire was, but actually made the better, more creative movies. Jackie is simply one of God's gifts, and the fact that we finally got these guys together, wire work and CGI and all, is a miracle. I was grinning like a fool. Yes, they're older, but they move PERFECTLY. And any human performance at that level is a joy to behold.
ﾠI understand there was more of a romantic subtext between Angorano and a gorgeous Chinese girl seeking revenge for the death of her family (Liu Yi Fei), which was excised. Good. Frankly, if he'd kissed her it would have irritated me no end, considering how Jet and Jackie have been emasculated in American film. But by removing that element, I was able to relax and watch this cultural event with perhaps a lingering regret that it couldn't have been better...but a realization that were the shoe on the other foot, I doubt the Chinese would have been better at saluting an eccentric American art form.
ﾠWhatever its failings, "Forbidden Kingdom" is obviously a labor of love with two actual geniuses at play. You don't see much of that these days. Actually, you never saw much of that, ever. For someone like me, this fantasy adventure earns an "A". For a typical American audience, probably a "B". For a Chinese audience, probably a "C" and for stickler purists who are offended by anything less than perfection...maybe a "D+"
Nicki and ﾠI had a hell of a time. Jason is gonna LOVE this.
"Forgetting Sarah Marshall" (2008)
This latest comedy from uber-producer Judd Apatow (40-Year-Old Virgin, etc.) is written by, and stars Jason Segel as Peter Bretter, a television composer for the seedy cop show that stars his girlfriend, the eponymous Sarah Marshall. When she breaks up with him for being a slacker (hilariously) he pretty much melts down, ultimately seeking solace in a Hawaiian vacation, where he ends up in the room next to...his ex and her rock-star boyfriend. Hilarity ensues. The movie is quite raunchy, but not non-stop laugh-out-loud guffaws only. There is a touch of honesty and clarity about human relationships mixed into the stew, and a sweetness that is occasionally surprising. Very entertaining, sexy stuff, and I'll give it a solid "B".
WARNING: SAMBO ALERT
There are two black characters. One is a girl Bretter screws. The other is a grotesquely fat black man who counsels him on romance. So bizarre. The "Breeding Circle" phenomenon in full bloom: all the white guys are sexual (remarkably, athletically so), all women want to screw white men, and black men are either too fat, too old, too gay, too young, too dead, or too busy for nookie.
Remember that this blog is my attempt to externalize my thought patterns, a sort of internet quasi-spiritual autolysis. I don't present this as "fact", only a genuine insight into my thought processes. This is a PERFECT example of the reasoning process that leads me to reject the notion that Obama has an advantage on the basis of race.
These are my assumptions/positions:
1) Human sexuality is a deep and unconscious river. By the time you have accepted that a member of another group is having sex with a member of your group (say, your daughter or sister) without flinching, for all practical purposes, your "racist" tendencies are a non-issue.
2) Box Office in films is a good, fast-and-dirty measurement of what people are comfortable with, or want to see. It is better than surveys (where people might say what is politically correct) because movie theaters are designed to throw audiences into mild trance. The images we hunger for in this state are revelatory of deep emotional needs and desires.
3) With the single exception of a short period between about 1968-1973 when black film first matured, minorities have always been presented in films as partial human beings-specifically in the arena of sexuality. When sex is present in these films, the box office suffers. Thus, no film featuring sexual behavior in non-white males has ever earned over 100 million dollars, regardless of the fact that about 15% of 100-million plus films feature non-white male stars, and that about 25% of over-100 million movies feature sexuality. One exception to this: "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
4) Because the filmmakers in Hollywood come from all over the country, and because Los Angeles is one of the most diverse areas in the country, and due also to personal experience traveling and working around the country, I completely reject the notion that Hollywood is more racist than America as whole. I actually find that notion almost comical. The results of the box office, over the thirty years I've been watching, match my social experience...and have allowed me to actually predict box office performance.
Add these things up. Remember I said that "If Will Smith can't get laid, Obama can't get elected?" The reverse is true: "If Obama can get elected, Will Smith can get laid" (in a movie). This means that I acknowledge that public acceptance might lead the (economically conservative) decisions that drive the movie industry. My guess right now is that Smith COULD get laid in a movie, and still get it across 100 million. But that it would hurt the box office of his NEXT film. Is this cynical? Well, if you'd been right in your predictions about something as painful as this for more than half your life, you might be cynical too.
So then, while I can see that it is POSSIBLE for things to have changed, my whole life I've talked to white people who say "gee, Steve, you're behind the times..." based pretty much on wishful thinking. And not one of them had noticed the sex thing. Which makes me think that there are countless other, subtler clues and cues they miss as well. Point these things out and they get depressed: "gee. I'd hoped things have changed. What can I do?" I've heard variations on these two sentences countless times.
Because of these statistics, and the fact that whites are oblivious to it until their noses are actively rubbed in it (I'm sure men can be this way about women's issues, straights that way about gay issues, etc: if you're winning, you don't ask if the deck is stacked) I listen to someone say "Obama has an advantage because he's black" and it makes about as much sense as saying "he has an advantage because he's Muslim" or "he has an advantage because he's a Junior Senator." Given my other belief systems and observations, it would make sense that my position is: "no, in all probability, he's where he is DESPITE these things. And that without those disadvantages, he would have smashed Clinton out of the race months ago. His advantage is that a large number of people see him as extraordinarily intelligent, charismatic, and uncommonly honest and direct. I think that most of those who disagree disagree not because they are racist, but because individual perceptions make the world look different to different people. I think that the Ann Coulter-ish belief that people who think him extraordinary are lowering their standards because he's black are exactly as reasonable as people who think those who DON'T think him extraordinary hold that opinion on the basis of race.
They are your mirror: look carefully, and tell me if you like what you see.
I'm not saying I'm right. I'm saying that this is honestly what I think, and why I think it. These are the voices that buzz behind my ears. Chances are very good every black person you know has thoughts similar to this, whether they will admit it to you or not.
This stuff also seems to be consistent with my other thought patterns--it's turtles "all the way down" so to speak.
1) People who are in favor of Obama are because they have positive regard for his mind and heart, and because he "makes them feel good" (this isn't a pejorative or a complement on my part. A large stack of money makes me feel better than a small one. Ice cream makes me feel better [in the short term] than liver. Emotions can be connected to logical reasons or not).
2) People who are not for Obama feel that others surpass him in the arena of mind or emotions, making them feel good, or they do not share his vision.
3) While a higher percentage of black people probably support Obama for racial reasons than white people who reject him for racial reasons, numerically the number of whites voting against him for racial reasons would surpass the NUMBER of blacks whose votes he has won on that basis.
4) the percentage of whites who would vote for him based on race and the percentage who would vote against him on the same basis cannot be established to my satisfaction. I therefore cancel these out.
5) Since I used "blacks having sex in films" as a standard to measure when the playing field is level, and this has not happened, it would be illogical, in the absence of outside evidence, for ME to believe that Obama has an advantage based on race. It would be inconsistent with an entire rubrical architecture (is that a word) which has helped me make sense of the world most of my adult life. Not that it is CORRECT, but when you have something that allows you to predict with confidence, only a fool would discard it without solid reasons.
I would LOVE to think that things have changed enough for Obama to have some kind of an advantage based on race. But I see nothing, nothing at all in the culture to support that other than a lot of wishful thinking by very nice people. And a bit of venomous thinking by others who are not nice at all.
When black men have sex in movies, and white audiences come out to see it, I'll admit the playing field is level. Until then, I will extend no benefit of the doubt at all, except to believe that human beings are basically good, and motivated to evil and oppression primarily by fear. I can look at blacks and whites, Christians and Muslims, Conservatives and Liberals and love all of them from that position. Any other position seems to lead me into some pretty ugly conclusions...about everyone.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:04 AM
Friday, April 18, 2008
ﾠA student asks:
I have a question for you on physical fitness regimes. The question is when do you know that something is not working for you? I understand that part of getting to be good at anything is having the discipline to stick through the difficult and boring times, but when is it time to realize that a particular discipline or method is not working for you. I believe that you have mentioned that at some point you realized that bodybuilding wasn't a sound method for achieving a useful and healthy physical condition.
I've been training at a kempo school in XX for about a year now. Prior to that I had studied at a non-traditional self-defense school in YY for about 4-5 years until I moved to XX. While I still think that I can learn from the Instructor, who has a wealth of knowledge, it is starting to feel like a chore to me. I rarely if ever feel that I'm being pushed at during class. I'm in decent shape, by no means great (used to be, when I was in the Army, but that is another story), but I barely break a sweat in the class. There are several other schools in the immediate area that have compatible schedules and I think that I might get pushed a little more at each of them.
So, the question is, at what point do you move on to another discipline in your goal of achieving excellence (or at least "pretty-good-ity," yes that is a word) in one of the three areas? I guess this would be similar to the question of when do you get out of a relationship (spirit) or find a new job (mind)?
Your thoughts are appreciated?
Your question has a lot of different strands. Let me try to wind them together. In my philosophy, the physical body should be treated with a level of importance roughly equal to relationships and career (although in actual fact my family comes first, followed by my career, followed by martial arts). This moving toward balance creates a situation where your personal flaws and demons are pretty clearly exposed, allowing you to engage with them directly and profitably.
That said, any physical activity that is wholesome and pushes you past previous limits will have a positive effect. The reason that there is no "ultimate" martial art is that there is no standardized human being, or human context. What exactly are you looking for? The Three-Dimensional Performance Pyramid (slightly adjusted) suggests that the order you should look for is:
Only the first three are absolutely essential. Martial arts CAN cover this entire range (depending on the school and the instructor), but not always, or even usually. The average MA school covers 2-4, maybe 2-5. The average weekend athlete makes the mistake of concentrating on 4-5, and ends up getting injured because there is no cardio-muscular foundation to support the neurology. The result is Injuries Galore (younger sister of a certain James Bond babe, no doubt).
Understanding the relationship between stress, strain, and breathing can turn any martial art, sport or exercise into a meditation, so that's really up to you to do the supplemental research necessary to ground yourself spiritually/emotionally. So what's left is the question of physical stress and artistic or practical skill.
Let's say that you want to increase your skills, but see useful skills in multiple arts. It sounds to me like you are hungering for a discipline that will leave you pleasantly exhausted or exhilarated, dripping with sweat and with that overall "glow" after class. You'll get that from an art that twists your body through the Six Degrees of Freedom at the same time that it takes you through the gateway called "Second Wind." Achieving flow state during maximal exertion while letting your Predator mind out to play...Yowsa! Talk about a neurological cocktail!
Now, you don't have to choose a martial art based upon fitness. In fact, it is NOT optimal to try to get in shape in a martial arts class--they are too skill intensive. When fatigue climbs, skill declines. As coordination breaks down under fatigue, trying to reach a high level of fitness gets problematic. This is why most fitness activities are very simple coordination-wise: you want to be able to push into that fatigue zone even after the lactic acid has built up to the point that the muscles aren't firing perfectly any more.
So the optimal thing is to make a MA class a place to learn and express skill, rather than fitness. In other words, you go to the gym to develop fitness, and then go to the MA school to test and enjoy it.
That said, what is MOST important about any physical activity is that you do it. And the easiest way to ensure that you do it is to enjoy it. That means that the activity has to match your goals and values. That you have clarity on what YOU want out of it, and to the degree possible, EVERY TIME YOU GO, you get both what you want and what you need.
So...if I read you right, you want a wringer of a workout. You have the right to get what you want. As long as your body can handle it, then, look for something that fits the "feel" that you desire.
One exception: if you have a history of quitting things half-way through, be careful: this might be a way for your mind to trick you into quitting something that would change you. ANY time you approach an activity that triggers deep change, your ego will fight back. If this behavior is NOT part of your history: hell, you're a grown-ass man. Find a school where the students move the way you'd like to move. Where they form a community that you would be proud to join, and their bodies look the way you'd like your body to look. There should be people of approximately the same age. If there are women there, they should be treated with respect, as if, pound-for-pound, they are as dangerous as the men (there are multiple reasons for this, not just Political Correctness).
To finally answer your question: leave a school when it no longer matches your goals or values.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:18 AM
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Two weeks ago I finally put the last piece into place with my new exercise program. The thing is that I wanted to use the Gama Cast Century, but found that the DOMS was brutal. I not only needed to solidify my weekly yoga practice, but to include yoga as a daily "capper" to my sessions, jsut to de-pressurize the tissues and realign my joints. Finding the 15-minute Ashtanga routine was simply GREAT. It seriously reduced the amount of soreness. Now, by Saturday I'm ready for a day off, but that's why God made Sundays, after all. The point is that in the two weeks since I've started grooving the new routine (which incorporates yoga, martial arts, Bruiser Clubbell, Jump rope, and FlowFit in varying configurations, as well as the 'Legendary Abs" routine) I've seen that soreness is general rather than localized, there is no joint pain, I can easily feel when it's time to take a day off, and I love what I see in the mirror. More on this in six weeks or so...
Working on "Night of the Heat" today, and then on the jacket copy for "Shadow Valley" and then back to the "Good House" script. Definitely a juggling act.
And in the midst of this, family stuff. Parent-teacher conference at Jason's preschool. Everything seems to be fine. I've got a summer internship lined up for Nicki (who is on the Dean's List again. Yea!) and so that plate doesn't seem to be wobbling at the moment.
It looks like I'm going to Worldcon this year. Anybody out there attending?
I noticed that Obama has something in common with Bush: they both seem to process information kinesthetically. His "umms" and "ahhhs" before answering, as well as his tendency to look down as he pauses before answering questions, is a hallmark of someone with this style. Bush does much the same thing...which in combination with his malaprops gives the impression of being less intelligent than he actually is. It's a "How does this feel?" tactic. Obama seems to be "Kinesthetic-Visual" which is an interesting combination. "How does this feel, and what do I think about it?" With the thought component expressed in visual images. Personally, I'm ultra-high visual with "constructed" kinesthetic components. Definitely some messy wiring in my head. Most school programs I've seen are designed to be primarily Visual, with some Auditory. Puts kinesthetic processors at a disadvantage. I've met tons of athletes with this style of thinking, and visual types often make the mistake of thinking them stupid.
And the question of the day is: in which major area of your life have you had the most difficulty, and to what would you attribute that?
Posted by Steven Barnes at 11:12 AM
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
The following quote from William J.D. Doran is valuable:
"The core of Patanjali's Yoga Sutra is an eight-limbed path that forms the structural framework for yoga practice. Upon practicing all eight limbs of the path it becomes self-evident that no one element is elevated over another in a hierarchical order. Each is part of a holistic focus which eventually brings completeness to the individual as they find their connectivity to the divine. Because we are all uniquely individual a person can emphasize one branch and then move on to another as they round out their understanding.
In brief the eight limbs, or steps to yoga, are as follows:
1. Yama : Universal morality
2. Niyama : Personal observances
3. Asanas : Body postures
4. Pranayama : Breathing exercises, and control of prana
5. Pratyahara : Control of the senses
6. Dharana : Concentration and cultivating inner perceptual awareness
7. Dhyana : Devotion, Meditation on the Divine
8. Samadhi : Union with the Divine"
What we have here is a complete life path: morals and ethics, occupation, exercise, prayer, meditation, intellectual study...a core of meaning running all the way through life.
One measure of Mastery is to be in control, or aware, of every moment of an action. In Tai Chi this equates to slowing things down so that you are aware of "every half-inch" of motion. Only then are you ready to move more quickly. Not much real Tai Chi in America...but what I've seen of those who have actually mastered this is devastating.
If you meditate, somewhere in the practice you will hit a point where you are more centered than you ordinarily are. Notice this: how does your body feel? How are you breathing?
Take THIS quality of relaxed focus, and bring it into yoga.The point is to be centered and calm while under physical stress--consider this to be, in one way, a low-tech form of biofeedback. But this is not theater for the mind. It is a finger pointing to a very precious door. On the other side of that door is the real you. No words suffice here.
Now then...what should one do to maximize the health and fitness benefits of yoga? Take the previous comments: remain calm under stress. But once you've learned to do this, you want to take your body to the edge. This is vital for multiple reasons. One is that if you aren't on your edge, the chances are good that your mind is wandering. Don't go PAST your edge. If you can't breathe smoothly, you've gone too far.
Yoga poses are like putting your car up on a rack at the mechanic's and looking at the suspension and power train. Sports are like running your car on a track, and life is taking that car on the road.
While you are calm, and centered, it is time to let your mind penetrate deeply into your body. Get a skeletal chart if necessary, but really KNOW how your bones, joints, tendons and ligaments work together to create posture, motion, and so forth. Think about the "six degrees of freedom", the basic planes of motion: forward and back, side to side, and twist to each direction. In some cases, your motion will be limited by joints, others by stiff tendons, and in others by unyeilding muscles.
After your body is warmed up, your synovial fluid runs more readily, and your joints should be capable of greater mobility. Tendons also yield more readily. Muscles are more a matter of your mind releasing the Golgi tendon organs. In all cases, IF you keep the thread of breathing steady, you cannot hurt yourself.
Every day, you should work your way through all basic joint and muscle flexions. The "Sun Salutations" are great, and a full workout in themselves. Scott Sonnon's "Warrior Wellness" program is terrific, as is the 15 minute "Yoga short forms" routine by David Swenson.
As we age, the fluid in the padded disks in our spine dries out. Spinal flexion exercise, performed carefully and consciously, is wonderful for the back. For other joints, gentle exercise can wash he "joint capsule" with nutrients, allowing it to rebuild itself more rapidly.
For damage that cannot be healed (or is not yet healed), such slow and careful work will tell you where the damage is so that you don't accidentally aggravate the injury. It grieves me how often people throw their backs out performing ordinary daily movements.
What you have here is, in a physical sense, a system for becoming aware of your body, for releasing unbalancing tension, for flushing tendons and joints with nutrients, and more. The centering, relaxing, and meditative benefits can be transferred to other arenas easily through breathing.
If stress does not become strain, the body and mind adapt, becoming more capable. As you master one level of your life, the next presents itself, creating a road of growth that eventually becomes spiritual--IF you actually deal with the emotional wounds and survival needs.
PLEASE ask questions if anything seems unclear here. But this is a decent take on my understanding of hatha yoga's relationship to fitness, health, and life itself.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 10:07 AM
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
Let me take the other side of the "If Obama weren't black, he wouldn't be where he is" argument. In other words, can I see a way that it could be true?
Hmmm. O.K. The following factors converging could make the entire thing realistic.
1) Let's say the 400 years of oppresssion is true. But post 1967 or so the number of virulent racists has dropped every year, especially considering birthrates and death rates. At some point comes a "tipping point" where the number of racists no longer really affects the outcome of an election (for instance). I suppose it's conceivable that that tipping point might have come by, say, 2000.
2) There are folks who would like to vote for a black president to prove some kind of social point.
3) There are white folks who think voting for Obama would be a "get out of hell free" card. In other words, proving once and for all that they are not bigots.
4) There are black people who would vote for Obama just because he's black. These would have to outnumber the whites who would votes AGAINST him simply because he is black.
5) Perhaps for fear of being thought prejudiced, some whites might under-criticize Obama. Another motivation might be wish to promote a social agenda.
6) If the damage of the slave system and Jim Crow affected Obama less than most black Americans due to his African parentage or Hawaiian/Indonesian upbringing, this might also enable him to move through a perceptual/philosophical "loophole" with greater facility than otherwise possible.
There may be other factors I could reckon in as well. But IF much of the above was true at the same time, then perhaps the 21st Century opened a hole, and Obama was the first person capable of moving through it.
So...if someone were to present an argument containing those elements, while simultaneously acknowledging the very real problems that blacks have faced and still confront, I might disagree with their conclusions, but admit they had an interesting and plausible argument. On the other hand, if they DON'T acknowledge the social hammering blacks have received, I would suspect that their argument was actually another version of the "white men don't have a chance in America" "Affirmative Action Candidate" bullshit.
And if someone formulates their argument as "Hillary has it harder because she's a woman, Obama has it easier because he's black" I find that offensive, stupid, and purely political. I feel it is glaringly obvious that if you changed either Hillary's race OR gender, she wouldn't be where she is. IIn fact, you couldn't change the race OR gender of any president or presidential candidate in American history without completely trashing their entire career. No matter which way I slice it, the entire question is a non-issue, and utter nonsense.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 10:45 PM
Buzzword has just revealed another fun trick. When I output Final Draft to RTF and then upload that to Buzzword, the formatting doesn't hold. But if I output Final Draft to RTF, then open and save that document with Word, then upload the Word document with Buzzword, the formatting holds almost perfectly. REALLY cool.
Should smart people be worried about not having as many kids as "dumb" people? The problem, from my point of view, is that the smart people I've met who worry about this believe more in Nature over Nurture--in other words, they don't believe that the context affects the content. In many, many cases, I see this combined with genteel racism: "well, they don't have it, but it's our responsibility to take care of them..." and I find that casually vile.
To me, this is what rankles with the suggestion that
1) Hillary has had it tougher because she is a woman and
2) Obama has had it easier because he is black.
I find the first contention to be reasonable. And the second to be either blissfully ignorant or politically dishonest. And it carries with it that "genteel racism" quality. If he's gotten further than any black person EVER, and there are ADVANTAGES to being black, but Obama still "doesn't have it" (his being an affirmative action candidacy) I fail to see how this doesn't lead, in the majority of agreeing minds, to the conclusion that black people just aren't up to snuff. All right--people are free to believe what they want, but I think they are hiding that belief behind layers of polite, PC obfuscation.
Watching three or four movies/movie previews over the last days where minority women are presented as swooning for white guy, while minority males apparently have no sex drive at all, I think that this attitude of "we're different, and the difference is an improvement" is pretty close to universal among human beings--it just gets hidden behind polite smiles, courtesy, and double-speak.
Back to reproduction: the "I'm wonderful! The world needs more of me!" attitude is interesting. While absence of an educated class seems to be damaging to a society, I'm not sure where the evidence of the "smart class underbreeding is a tragedy" comes from. And frankly, a disproportunate proportion of those who have suggested this also, in my mind, harbor racial attitudes I find unfortunate and self-serving, if not actually bigoted.
Another thought experiment that cropped up again is the idea of all politicians being dishonest (I do think dishonesty can be a survival value for politicos, however) but if government's functions were just handed over to private industry...
I just don't buy it. I think that this appeals to people who earn above average, and therefore believe that they could purchase, on the open market, better serviced than those currently provided by taxes. Not to mention the fact that their taxes would go down thereby.
But the gap between the social/governmental services available to the rich and the poor is not as wide as the gap between the commercial services available to the two groups. The gap between an inner-city grocery store (uh...what grocery stores?) and one in Beverly Hills is WAY wider than the gap between an inner-city Post Office or police department. If all of the companies providing formerly public services were Non-Profit, I would consider the two to be in closer competition. But a commercial venture has as primary responsibility the production of profits--NOT providing a service. That means that they HAVE to widen the gap between what it costs them to supply a service and how much they can charge for it. Nothing immoral or wrong in that, but I see the poor get screwed worse by the private companies than the governmental agencies. And YES, I see tons of problems with the governmental agencies.
But I consider this a perfect example of a thought experiment ungrounded in basic reality of huan existence--just as bad as Communism, which also ignored what I consider to be basic aspects of human nature. You have to factor greed and fear into the equations, or they get away from you.
The most important thing about Yoga is the word itself. From a sanskrit term meaning "to yoke, to unite, to join" it concentrates on the BOND between mind and body. Looking at yoga as the balancing or stretching or strengthening exercises is looking at the grass bending and thinking you are looking at the wind.
You have to slow down, get quiet, calm your mind. This is the LAST thing that the ego ever wants to do, and it will fight you like crazy. It would ABSOLUTELY rather you spend, say, ten minutes a day than seventy minutes once a week (although there actually are some advantages to the short-workout approach).
But if you treat yoga as a meditation, the first 15 minutes or so are just the beginning entry to the inner world. Following your breathing down into the depths of your being you will burrow past layers of excuses, intellectualisms, and more. What you search for is the sense of flow, of surfing on the process of self-examination. To get there, you CAN'T overdo your poses. You have to stay just disconnected enough to maintain perspective. After 15-20 minutes, you should experience the same sense of Flow that you reach when writing, making love, driving a familiar route, playing a favorite game.
It is THIS quality of subject-object melting together that you seek. It is the doorway to a deeper world.
The question of the day is: where in your life do you experience flow states?
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:16 AM
Monday, April 14, 2008
If I believe (and I do) that the single most important measurement of potential disaster on this planet is the expanding population, and the single most powerful means of controlling population is the political and social equality of women (which seems to be true) then a reasonable case can be made that Women's issues are an incredibly important pressure-point for change, world-wide.
That argument could be broadened into a support for Hillary on the basis of the symbol it sends around the world...change and hope for oppressed women--and their families--on a massive scale. I can see a 100% reasonable and rational argument there that does not get into the "we've been hurt worse than you" nonsense that is just preaching to the choir on whichever side.
The more comments I read from middle-aged (and older) women who have been waiting all their lives for a female President, the more empathy I feel. I really wish these two particular candidates hadn't come along at the same time. Perhaps it was an eerie inevitability. But I wish that the national dialog was at a higher level--it swoops toward race and gender so damned fast.
I wonder what kind of Ageist stuff will come out in the General? Certainly concerns about mental competence, as well as health and generational attitudes, will make this discussion relevant. It almost would have been fun to have all three candidates throwing mud at each other on the basis of race, gender, and age...if the three situations were equivalent. Of course, we know that men get MORE powerful as they get older...which makes it interesting to "attack" McCain on an issue which, on the one hand, confronts pain fear and mortality...and on the other "attacks" him for being at the peak of his life power.
I wonder if it is possible to use bad habits in a positive way. Let's say you have high goals in three different arenas. All will demand overcoming bad habits. Let's say you make a deliberate choice to engage in one bad habit for a week while you maintain a perfect record in the other two. I wonder what would happen if you rotated between them? Or just found an indulgence and engaged in it selectively while pushing to the max in your other areas?
In the name of balance, this clearly couldn't be maintained for very long...a week perhaps, or a month. But it was just a thought this morning...I was wondering if anyone out there has ever used a bad habit for a positive purpose?
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:34 AM
Sunday, April 13, 2008
Hold the presses. I may have found the online word processor I was looking for. After going through Ajaxwriter, Zoho, Google Documents, and Microsoft Office Online. All were interesting in their own way. All fell short. Lack of pagination, platform stability, program compatibility, lack of margins, funky RTF output...ow. Even the best of them (Google Documents is pretty cool, especially when you factor in the rest of the suite functionality. Calendar is excellent) but the maximum document length is about 25,000 words.
Well, after a massive amount of on-line research, I found BUZZWORD. Created by a company called Virtual Ubiquity, it seems to have been debuted last September, then acquired by their major investor, Adobe, in December. It's built on a Flash engine apparently, and therefore has excellent control of the presentation. It's "What You See Is What You Print " with only seven fonts, but imports and exports MSWord just fine, so you could easily export a finished file and use any damned font you want.
The most important things I wanted have been handled
1) Looks and feels like a desk-top program.
2) Faster than Word in most functions!
3) Available from any Internet connection.
4) The automatic back-up potential is obvious. Just output your files at Word or RTF at the end of every workday. Between Adobe's secure servers and my desktop and/or laptop...wow. I think my needs are handled.
5) Collaboration is potentially a dream. We've only been playing with the concept a few weeks, and only had Buzzword a few days. But this thing seems to save every five minutes or so. If two people are working on it at the same time, it seems to rank them, and let one at a time actually make changes, until that person saves. Then the other person can edit. That's how it feels. But both people can add notes at the same time, So it is actually possible t create a Supermind. Cool, cool, cool! The "Mastermind" concept applied to writing, in real time, from opposite sides of the world.
I see a model for collaboration that is mind-blowing. You put the notes and outlines into a file. Process this stuff any way that is comfortable for either collaborator. Things are added and subtracted, and the material is manipulated variously. At some point scenes will begin to be written. They will be polished and added to.
In one mood, a collaborator can be linear...simply adding text. In others, one might go through the material tweaking and pruning to the heart's content. Every time you return to the file, there will be changes.
If the collaborators are really in sync, and trust each other, a book will simply appear, based on all of the "playing around."
My mind is blown. I ask readers who are technically savvy to peek at buzzword.com and let me know what you think. If there is any major problem you know of, PLEASE tell me now...Tananarive and I are starting to play.
Saw "Street Kings" with Keanu Reeves and Forest Whitaker yesterday. It's not "L.A. Confidential," but it's not bad, either. A role Clint Eastwood would have pulled off, back in the day. Reeves just doesn't scare me, and the role needs someone who can be convincing as an uber-lethal borderline sociopathic cop. It's one of those "he's a bad guy, but he's OUR bad guy" movies. It would get a bid fat "Sambo Alert" in the sense it's one of those Super-White Boy movies, but casting Forest Whitaker as the Chief and the general fantasy badassery of Reeves would make me feel petty. It doesn't portray race well because it doesn't represent HUMANITY well (this is similar to my answer to people who find Bond a misogynist. Nonsense. He's a misanthrope, if anything.) But I thought Reeves' performance was pretty good, given the fact I don't find him intimidating. Russel Crowe could have pulled it off. Oh, that's right. He already did.
Posted by Steven Barnes at 9:32 AM