11 May 2010

Recommended Reading

I promise I will go back to real posts soon. My last seminar essay is due Thursday, so hopefully I will get back to not dying of stress this weekend. Until then, read these fine folks!

Sqbr on Disability in Speculative Fiction: Monsters, Mutants and Muggles:
Fiction reflects social attitudes, and the social attitudes to disabled people tend to suck. Disabled people are presented as scary, pathetic, exotic, demanding, laughable, etc.

But some tropes are popular/unique to SF.

It's not all bad: speculative fiction allows for powerful allegory, and can also make very interesting explorations/extrapolations of future attitudes/experiences of disability.
National Journal Magazine asks, Do "Family Values" Weaken Families? (Hint: Yes.)
Can it be? One of the oddest paradoxes of modern cultural politics may at last be resolved.

The paradox is this: Cultural conservatives revel in condemning the loose moral values and louche lifestyles of "San Francisco liberals." But if you want to find two-parent families with stable marriages and coddled kids, your best bet is to bypass Sarah Palin country and go to Nancy Pelosi territory: the liberal, bicoastal, predominantly Democratic places that cultural conservatives love to hate.
Rebecca Traister over at Salon says, Screw Happiness:
When it comes to social science and economics, women lately seem especially prone to having the contentment thermometer thrust at them, and their temperature always seems to register at "dissatisfied." A study by University of Pennsylvania economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, as well as one by Princeton economist Alan Krueger, have shown a decline in female happiness in the years since the second wave, a trend that has been cheerily used as proof of exactly how unhappy increased social, sexual, professional and economic liberation has made American women. Even those who dare make claim to general life satisfaction are told not to get too comfortable; as Marcus Buckingham, the author of "Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently" gloomily warned any aberrantly chipper chicks in a piece last year, "as women get older they get sadder."

But really, how could they not, given the aggressive messages about happiness and how they must achieve it, and unhappiness and how they must avoid it that are foisted on them from every direction, making them feel like failures if they are not warbling and grinning their way through life?


You know what I think? It's all bullshit. Not just the trend stories and the self-help stuff, but the laser focus on happiness itself. I say this as someone who has grown steadily happier as I've aged, but I think I would have said it even more emphatically earlier in my life: I'm just not sure that "happiness" is supposed to be the stable human condition, and I think it's punishing that we're constantly being pushed to achieve it.
And filed under both hilarious and interesting, xkcd published the results of a color survey, broken down by gender:
Basically, women were slightly more liberal with the modifiers, but otherwise they generally agreed (and some of the differences may be sampling noise). The results were similar across the survey—men and women tended on average to call colors the same names.

So I was feeling pretty good about equality. Then I decided to calculate the ‘most masculine’ and ‘most feminine’ colors. I was looking for the color names most disproportionately popular among each group; that is, the names that the most women came up with compared to the fewest men (or vice versa).

Here are the color names most disproportionately popular among women:

1.Dusty Teal
2.Blush Pink
3.Dusty Lavender
4.Butter Yellow
5.Dusky Rose

Okay, pretty flowery, certainly. Kind of an incense-bomb-set-off-in-a-Bed-Bath-&-Beyond vibe. Well, let’s take a look at the other list.

Here are the color names most disproportionately popular among men:


I … that’s not my typo in #5—the only actual color in the list really is a misspelling of “beige”. And keep in mind, this is based on the number of unique people who answered the color, not the number of times they typed it. This isn’t just the effect of a couple spammers. In fact, this is after the spamfilter.

I weep for my gender.