Sunday, November 26, 2017

Take it back

Thus far I've not said anything really political in this space, but I think I'm going to start now. 

     The problem we have right now is that the right wing has been allowed to control the narrative. They have gotten to define all the words. Liberal is a bad word. So we shifted to progressive, now that’s a bad word. We need to drag public discourse back to the left. Stop catering to the so-called middle. The middle has been forcibly shifted to the right. The liberal base doesn’t come out to vote because all the candidates put forth are center right. Most people when surveyed are center-left or left outright, but they have no reason to interrupt their busy schedules to stand in line in the cold to vote.

     So, here’s how we take the country back. First, we find the most wing nutty wingnut out there and have them run in an election that we probably wouldn’t win anyway. No one that believes in weird conspiracy theories though; no chem trails or vaccines cause autism people, that’s dumb. But someone who believes in a universal income, state-owned oil companies. Make sure that the small oil drilling companies can still operate but kick out the big ones. Run this person, hype them up pretty good. Then in a more contested election, dial it back to more normal. The masses will have gotten a little used to hearing the far out there stuff so the more typical progressive policies will seem less out there. Maybe the wing nut should be a man and the more mainstream person a woman of color. We should make sure they are all above reproach though. No questionable financial dealings, no sexual assault or discriminatory behavior.

     It will take some time but I believe we can drag the political climate back to the left and make our country the place our founding ideals suggested it could be, one where everyone is included and gets what they need.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Grammar Nazis Are Bad!

Right now I'm supposed to be studying for a test in my Linguistics class, but I guess wring a blog post about language is kinda the same thing.
I was reading over my notes and one of the first things in there was 9 Ideas About Language. This stuff is in a textbook as well as other places on the internet. I can cite my textbook later when I get home or just not since it's easy to find on the net. I promise I didn't come up with the idea on my own though. 

1. Children learn their language swiftly, efficiently, and without instruction.
This one kinda blew my mind a little. I am a parent and I thought that I taught my daughter how to talk but apparently, she learned on her own and just got her dialect from me. As well as figuring out what sounds she could make were English. Another part of this idea: Babies make all sounds for all languages and start to filter out the ones they don't need by age 1. So all that babbling your baby does is language based. That's neat huh? Also, there is a critical window for learning language, from birth to 6 where they are sponges absorbing everything. After that, it slows and some researchers think it stops by 10 or 11. This isn't to say we can't learn after that obviously, just that we can't learn like normal speakers after that.

2. Language operates by rules. This one seems obvious but there's a difference in rule types. There are Descriptive and Prescriptive rules. The descriptive rules are unconscious rules that our brains just follow. A lot of them just make it so our brains don't work too hard while still getting our point across. Irregular verbs are difficult for our brains for instance. They have to be memorized. This is why a toddler will say something like "I runned really fast!" instead of "ran". Their brains are following the rules, but run doesn't follow the rules. Prescriptive rules are ones we have to teach in school and are usually about writing, like "don't split the infinitive". A lot of these are based on Latin and don't actually make sense for English. Apparently, that rule specifically came about during the Enlightenment where scholars thought that everything from ancient Greece and Rome was the best thing ever. The thing about Latin is, you can't split the infinitive because they are single words. In English where they come in 2 words, splitting them is fine. The thing about Prescriptive rules is that they are often used to separate us into "educated" and "uneducated" categories, which is really more about privilege than anything else. The irony about this is I'm currently using Grammarly to make sure I'm following all the Prescriptive rules. Another Prescriptive rule example is "no double negatives". Our brains understand this perfectly. Again, because of the Enlightenment, someone decided to bring about this rule. I don't know if they were trying to inject some mathematical logic to language or what but double or even triple negatives are actually grammatical.

3. All languages have 3 components: A sound system (phonology), vocabulary (lexicon or morphology), and a system of grammar (syntax). There's nothing groundbreaking about this other than the idea that just because it's different than English doesn't mean it makes more or less sense.

4. Everyone speaks a dialect. Even if you speak the "standard" version of your language, it's still a dialect. 

5. Speakers of all languages employ a range of styles and a set of subdialects or jargons. We switch back and forth between them in different social situations.

6. Language changes are normal and inevitable. So crying over the fact that teenaged girls talk differently than you is dumb. Stop doing that. In fact, teen girls tend to be the primary drivers of change, in not only word usage but pronunciation changes like vowel shifts.

7. Languages are intimately related to the societies and individuals who use them. There's a lot you can find out about a culture or an individual by studying word choice or the syntax. Time is important to some cultures and their language reflect that. Same thing with snow.

8. Value judgments about different languages are a matter of taste. Just because you prefer yours doesn't mean it's better. Also, just because someone doesn't speak yours doesn't mean they are less intelligent.

9. Writing is a derivative of speech. Writing must be taught. whereas speech isn't taught. Speech also came first. We've been writing for only about the past 5000 years, we've been speaking for much longer. Some languages don't have a written form. Not just tribal languages either, gesture languages don't have writing either. Those that speak with ASL write in English. Otherwise, they would have to "write" by drawing the gestures. Drawing gestures is useful for illustrative purposes but would make a very inefficient writing system. 

Well, thanks for studying with me, I now need to study the other parts of the test (I have flash cards too, ugh). Keep in mind, this has been from a linguist's perspective. I'm sure there would be plenty of people to argue any of these points.

Friday, August 4, 2017

OMG Eww!

Lays Crunchy Taco flavored chips are gross unless you like the shredded iceberg lettuce that comes on a generic taco... by itself.

That is all.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Major Change

In my last post, I mentioned that I changed my major. I suppose I can talk about it. 

(Ok, before I start that I have to talk about how Blogger is annoying me right now. There are only 6 fonts, the one I like doesn't stay between posts. Same thing with size. And whose dick do I have to suck to get a line spacing button? I may need to switch to WordPress.)

During the Spring Semester, I started to get deeper into the program. I had all the heavy math classes and math adjacent general ed classes too. I got very stressed out. I dropped one class and it didn't really help. It got to the point that I was questioning my degree program. 

Now, this wasn't the first time I had questioned it. But I did finally analyze why I picked Math in the first place. And there were a couple of reasons. None of them were about me or what I wanted to do or what I'm good at. 

I originally picked that major because I wanted to make the biggest impact. Service to the community. For one, there are a lot of bad Math teachers out there. They may know how to calculate stuff, but they have no idea how to teach. I think this is a big reason why kids hate math. If they have no confidence in their ability, they will struggle and hate it. Also, we need more women in STEM. It might help if girls had more STEM teachers that are women, it might help.

The other reason I picked Math is that I have been trying to prove I'm as good as the boys my whole life. Part of this is how my mom treated me and dressed me before my brother was born. She raised me kind of boyish. There were girls that tried to make me prove I was a girl because I always had boy clothes on. Of course that all changed when my brother was born. Then I was told to wear more dresses and he was the favorite. Now she wonders why he does nothing and expects handouts.

So for the longest time, I suppressed everything girly. Slowly I've shed most of that nonsense. The last to go was vocation. 

I bought into the idea that the hard sciences are masculine and the soft sciences are feminine. Which is nonsense since men have been trying to keep us out of all of them for generations, and women were the 1st coders. And who cares if I do something girly anyway. We need to stop gendering jobs.

Once I unpacked that I realized that I  missed writing papers. Getting a grade for my opinion is pretty great really. And while Math concepts are interesting, I really don't care about the computation. 

I am, however, still very interested in Astronomy and am doing independent research studying Seyfert Galaxies. Let me know in the comments if you want me to write for days about Active Galactive Nuclei. And we still need people to report on science if we're ever going to get the public to value it again. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Zwei Katzen (Two Cats)

I figured I should start writing again and there are a couple of different reasons for that. 

1) School starts in about a month so I need to get the writing juices flowing again since I changed majors from Maths to English. Maybe I'll explain that whole thing in another post.

2) If I'm ever going to write the "Great American Novel" I should get to writing something... anything.

So I thought I tell you about my two cats, in the form of an interview. I will be interviewing myself, there may end up being pictures; we'll see.

Interviewer: Hi Ella, how are you today?

Ella: I'm good. How are you?

I: I'm good as well. Let's get started. I've heard you have cats, how many do you have? What are their names?

E: I have two cats, their names are Sinon (pronounced She-known) and Aave (pronounced Ah-vey). They're sisters.

I: How did they come to live with you?

E: We got them from a local rescue group, Clear Creek Cat Rescue. We were told that they were rescued from a hoarder.

I: That sounds rough. Has it affected them negatively at all?

E: Of course, I don't believe anyone comes out of a rough upbringing unscathed.
They are both still pretty skittish. They tend to run at the slightest provocation. Sinon will watch the mail man come up the driveway, poised to run. If he stops at the mail box all is ok, but if we get a package, she bolts. 
When they had only been with us for a couple months, I tried to take Aave outside. To get her comfortable being an indoor/outdoor cat. I took her outside, she wanted down and then she took off. We had to borrow a live trap from Animal Control. She was gone for nine days. She was starving and dehydrated. She still has food insecurity. Sinon eats random fuzzes and dust bunnies. They can be really cuddly though. Aave meets me at the door for belly rubs when I get home, Sinon likes to be held like a baby. Over all, they're weird and great.

I: Wow, thanks for sharing with us. That's about all the time we have right now, would you like to share any pictures before we sign off?

E: Yes I would!


Sisters Sleeping
I: Those are great! Thanks for talking with us.

E: Thanks for having me.

Ok, so that was my pretend interview. It ended up shorter than I anticipated. Maybe if I had written it when I thought of it rather than three days later. Oh well, maybe next time.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Empathy is not a higher form of sympathy

They are different things.

Closely related I'll give you, but one doesn't lead to the other. You can have empathy without sympathy just as you can have sympathy without empathy.

Here's the difference.

Sympathy is just feeling bad for someone who is having a hard time. You don't have to understand what they are going through to have sympathy for them. For instance, I have no idea what it's like you lose my mother. If you lose yours, I will have sympathy for what you're going through.

Empathy is understanding what someone is going through. You don't have to also feel bad for the person. I know what it's like to run late, but if it's your own fault you're late, I have no sympathy for you. I know what it's like to be poor, that doesn't mean I'm going be sympathetic when you vote against your best interest and mine.

Of course those two things are combined all the time. I know what it's like to lose a beloved pet and I will feel bad for you if it happens to you. 

We can also never completely understand what someone else is going through. Everyone's experiences are different. The circumstances that led to whatever is going on with a person are different, as well as our perspective. That doesn't mean we shouldn't try. And when we do try we shouldn't half ass it. Trying to think of what you would feel like if something happened to you does no good if we forget to add all the circumstances to one event. Just because you think someone is overreacting doesn't mean they are. What else is going on? Is this incident the latest in a long line of small things? All good questions to ask, either the person you're trying to understand or just as a prompt to widen your perceptions.

Finally, being empathetic or sympathetic doesn't mean we need to carry other people's burdens. Most people just want a little consideration. We all have enough of our own burdens to carry. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

I hope everything

Went well last night and everyone made it home safely. I just want to say you don't have to make resolutions. I know a lot of people resolve to lose weight for the new year. We spend way too much money crowding into gyms and buying diet books only to gain all the weight back plus some.

There's a reason most fail and it's not because you're weak. After a few million years of feast/famine cycles, our bodies were built to hold onto as much weight as possible in the very likely chance there will be a famine. And then the sugar lobby messing with dietary research that lead to low fat diets. Not only does fat make you feel full faster, most of your vitamins are fat soluble, which means you need to eat them with fat in order to absorb them. Wrap it all up in the stress of working too much and being shamed by the diet industry, and you have a recipe for an ever growing waistline.

Also fat doesn't equal unhealthy and thin doesn't equal healthy. Behaviors help determine our health outcomes more than our physical attributes. 

So remember to love yourself. Even if advertisements seek to make you hate yourself in order to sell you stuff. After all, no matter what shape your body is, it still carries your brain around so you can experience stuff. We could all be more grateful for that.