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Monday, February 24, 2014

Gender Expectations?

I just read an article on Thought Catalog about 24 things you can do to be more of an old-school gentleman. A lot of it was good advice and common sense, like owning at least 1 suit and being able to wear it comfortably. Some of it was odd, like having a “Signature drink.”

But some of the people in the comments went NUTS. Men were saying over and over things like “take your gender stereotypes and shove it!” and saying “If I wrote an article on how to be a lady, I’d get lambasted!” They didn’t use the word “lambasted” but I put it there because it’s an awesome word and they should have used it.

Why are we so up in arms about being a “gentleman” or a “lady”? Are these terms now coming to mean that being one or the other is the only way to be classy? To get laid?

I don’t understand why we can’t have more articles like “Ways To Be A Nice Human Being” and “Common Sense Says These Things Are Attractive To The Opposite Sex.”
Mind blowing logic.
Here’s the thing. I am a classy chick. I can speak eloquently, use proper grammar, dress appropriately for an occasion, and not offend people every time I open my cakehole (I'm not a huge fan of pie).

I also fart and then giggle when Boyfriend notices, practice evil laughs when I’m at home alone, slam doors sometimes when I’m really mad, dance like a weirdo to make people laugh, talk in strange accents sometimes without noticing, and curse like a sailor when I feel like it.

Does that mean that I’m not a “lady”? Maybe to some people it does. But mostly I think it means I’m just me. Normal, human being me. Flawed, interesting, certainly imperfect, fun, silly, weird.

Why does it have to be offensive for a guy to ask me to cook? Because that is where we’re at. The thought catalog article said in one of it’s points was that men shouldn’t expect a woman to cook for them and they should know how to cook themselves. A commenter (rightly) pointed out that these days, if a man were to say the same thing about a woman, that he’d be told he was sexist and shouldn’t ask her to cook for him.
You know who's having a good day? THIS GUY! Fire!
The thing is, women’s rights, gay rights, civil rights, these are all huge, real, and important social issues. The woman’s right to choose, for instance, is important and shouldn’t be decided by the government (most of whom are men). The LGBT’s right the a legally recognized marriage shouldn’t be decided by religion, but by the fact that they are humans, full citizens, and deserving of the same rights as heterosexual unions. Just because YOU don’t want to get married to another person of the same sex as you certainly shouldn’t mean others can’t.

Just because you like the X-Files doesn’t mean I have to watch it or like it, too.

But the smaller things, we may be taking too far.

It’s not sexist if my boyfriend asks me to make dinner because he’s tired. Or if I ask him to go move the car, since he’s still wearing pants and I’m not. It’s just a natural give and take of a relationship.

ANY relationship. My friends, guys and girls alike, are not feeling marginalized by any of this.

Maybe we've gotten to a point as a society that we are just a little TOO careful about being PC, and not caring enough about the bigger issues. No, I am not "height challenged." I'm just short. That's not offensive, what's offensive is you thinking I'd be pissed off about something that stupid.

Bigger issues than being PC, being a "lady" or "gentleman," and the X-FIles: DOLPHIN-FLIPPIN' EVERYTHING. There are wars being fought, revolutions being waged, people living and dying, and the world at our feet. Perhaps we should worry more about the growing issue of childhood obesity in the US and less about giving each kid a "participation trophy."

If I ever have a kid, don't ever give it (after the age of about 6) a participation anything. The kid either won, placed, or didn't. I think we should be teaching our kids how to lose gracefully and how to aim high, as opposed to telling every single child that they are a special snowflake who is perfect in every way and can do everything amazingly. Statistically, not every kid can be an astronaut or president. I'm not saying we should crush children's dreams, I'm saying I don't think it's right to tell EVERY kid that they won when they did not win.

Whoa. Rant over!

Things I have put a lot of thought into lately:
New Zealand, long flights, and how Billy Joel is amazing and if you don’t agree with that, then meet me in the parking lot at 3 for some explosive hand gestures and some ridiculously excessive smack talk, because IT IS ON.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Story of a Channel-Flipping Semi-Watcher of the Olympics.

Like many others in the world right now, I am a moderate, channel-flipping watcher of the Olympics. If I happen to flip past it while something interesting is happening, I’ll stop for a few minutes before moving on. I don’t go out of my way to watch it, though when I do, I find it interesting enough.

Yesterday I caught a few minutes of men’s skeleton and cross-country skiing. Cross-country skiing is weird. They look ridiculous, kind of run-skiing and pushing off all in unison. Some are in tracks, some aren’t, I don’t get it.

Skeleton is basically facedown ice-sledding on a luge course. It looks pretty cool, they go 80 miles an hour, but I have no idea how this is a sport. People train for this? How? Where might one go to find a giant luge course thing to practice on?

You know what IS a sport and should be a part of all Olympic gatherings?
Look at that! Look at the amazingness and see it’s beauty! I demand that you look at ski ballet and see it wondrous spirit!

Ski ballet. Cheesus crust why isn’t this still a thing? This is amazing and majestic and ridiculous. I need this in my life. The only thing that could possibly make ski ballet any better was if they wore those spandex-y figure skating outfits or if they did it in pairs. SYNCHRONIZED SKI BALLET.

WHY is it no longer an Olympic sport?? If bowling is, then this definitely should be. Look at the grace, the outfits, the pure joy of movement!

Dear God, it’s me, Margaret.
Please, please, for the love of you, give the world back ski ballet on an international platform in skimpy outfits and in synchronized pairs and groups. Please. I’ll be really good and make my bed every single day! I swear to you that I will stop cursing loudly for no apparent reason, if you do this for me. Ooooh...wait. I said cursing for NO reason, right? Because I really can’t promise I would stop cursing all together, that seems like a little much. Um...I can promise something else though? Maybe that I’ll stop eating pork? Because I can totally do that. I mean, I don’t even eat all that much pork now, and to be honest, I really like beef and turkey bacon, even though people who love bacon tend to agree that beef and turkey bacon is not real bacon. They’re wrong, it’s delicious. They should really just give it a shot, though I adore real bacon, too. Where was I? Oh, yes. Oh, please please please let the world have the magnificence of ski ballet once again. Thanks.
Love, Me.

The Olympics are cool and all. The long-held tradition of each nation bringing forth their most gifted athletes, who then battle it out individually for a chance at greatness. To the death!

...wait, wait. We aren’t in ancient Rome? No one dies? WELL THEN. The games have changed.

I wonder how to gods up on Olympus feel about us playing these games for medals, declaring the best of each sport in the world. Do they feel it is a tribute to them and allow us our competition? Or do they believe we are making a mockery out of Olympus and are slowly planning our complete annihilation?

Either way, congrats to the Olympians. And it is somewhat entertaining to watch.

I feel bad saying that, because these people have trained for most of their lives, hours a day, often missing out on fattening foods and late night parties in the prime of their teen years for the chance to one day, ONE DAY, hold that gold medal in their hands, proof that their dedication, hard work, and perseverance have paid off.

And I just flip the channel.
I wouldn't be so fast to change the channel if THIS was happening.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Bill Nye, the Nerdy Genius Guy Who Stole My Heart

To summarize last night’s Evolution/Creationism debate:

Bill Nye punched Ken Ham right in the science, using physical and biological and theoretical science facts and evidence to prove his point, explain why he believes Creationism is not a viable model, and showed examples of scientists using the study of evolution to make predictions. Ken Ham started out pretty strong, and then nursed his science-punch by eventually devolving into “Creationism is true because the Bible says so!” and saying that we can’t really know anything about how old the Earth or universe is or about evolution because we can’t physically observe the past ourselves, therefore we can’t really know anything about it, other than what God says happened. Nye makes the excellent point that Ham is saying everyone should respect Ham’s interpretation of a book written 30 centuries ago and re-translated numerous times and now into American English over any science-related proof of evolution. (And later, Ham admits in an awkward way, that you can't take the whole Bible literally, just parts of it.)

Watching the debate last night, I had a flashback to grade school when the science teacher would lay down her lesson plan, roll the black cart with a TV strapped to the top that always looked like it could topple over at the slightest provocation, turn off the lights, and let us watch an episode of "Bill Nye the Science Guy."

Bill Nye is to science what Alton Brown is to food: magical, logical, knowledgeable, and adorable in a bow tie.
From the debate.
Tonight on NPR, out in the middle of Kentucky, Bill Nye and Ken Ham debated the age-old question, Evolution or Creationism? Funny enough, the debate took place in the Creation Museum that Ken Ham owns. Guess who was on which side.

I was interested in this debate (that lasted like 3 hours) for several reasons, not the least of which is that Bill Nye is a dolphin-flippin’ genius. The dude has an answer for everything, and it always makes sense and is all science-y and stuff.

Unlike the inevitable devolving of this same debate on Facebook, I was hopeful that this wouldn't end in sadness, bloodshed, and calling each other gay for no reason.

Ham went first in the debate. He did not sound at all like a crackpot yet, and seemed to approach the topic very logically, at least at this point.
SPOILER ALERT: It didn't end that way. During the Q&A with questions from the audience, Ham was asked “Do you take the whole Bible literally?” (after quoting from it numerous times, and using the Bible as the entire basis of his belief system) Ham began his answer by saying “First, we have to define what you mean by ‘literally.’” And then went on to say that while all of the book of Genesis is true, some of the stories are just stories about people, some are poems, and so he takes the Bible “naturally.” Whatever that means.

Anyway, Ham began by claiming that there is a difference between ‘historical science,’ the science of the past, and ‘observational science,’ the science of the present. Honestly, he presented this very effectively and seemed not at all like a nut. He used a clip of a previous Bill Nye interview to try to prove his point (it kind of didn't, but I saw what he was going for, with the way Nye talked about death), and then unfortunately moved to bible verses. Still, at this point, he was showing clips of very smart scientists who were also creationists, and definitely got off on the right foot.

Bill Nye used his time to say that there is no ‘historical’ and ‘observational’ science, there is just science. And then went on to show proof of trees and plants and evidence of atmosphere in snow ice rods that are all older than creationists say the Earth is, show evidence that a global flood 4000 years ago never happened, and discussed how we are able to know stars are moving apart and that using radio waves, we've been able to detect emissions in space. Nye also went on to point out that Noah was unskilled at boat building and would not have been able to make a wooden boat larger than any wooden boat any boat building team of humans has ever been able to make. Nye also pointed to plants that are over 4000 years old that could not have survived being underwater for a year during a global flood.
Ham claims that we can’t actually observe the age of the Earth. He explains that they get 6000 years by adding up all the generations of people in the Bible until Jesus and then now. He says we can observe radioactive decay now, but not observe it in the past, and that different dating methods will yield different dates. Ham says we weren't physically there, so we don’t know that atoms are the same now as they were in the past. He then goes on to talk about how the fossils show diseases, animals eating other animals, thorny plants, and death long before the bible says when it all happened (apparently all animals and people were vegetarians until after the flood, death didn't happen until the garden of Eden as a result of man’s sin, and thorns didn't come until after the “curse.” What?) Basically, because he believes in the word of the Bible, Ham says all physical evidence we have of prior to that time “can’t be real or logical,” and also that there are many dating systems (such as radioactive dating, carbon dating, etc) and that we can’t know that any of them are accurate.

I am not going to take you step by step through the over 3-hour-long debate, but suffice it to say that the above explanations are as scientific and logical and Ken Ham gets. Bill Nye continues trying to urge people to look at the evidence and learn and discover, and Ham does get to the point where when asked “what evidence, aside from the Bible, can you give to support your theory of Creationism?” he actually gives no evidence at all, and instead gives a slightly lengthy discussion about the Bible and why God is infinite, all-powerful, and great (and that the stars are proof of God's power), before saying that we just can’t know what happened in the past, but “we can be great scientists in the present.”

My absolute favorite question of the night, during the Q&A:
“What, if anything, could change your belief in Creationism or Evolution?”
Ham: Nothing. Ever. God is great and the Bible explains everything exactly as it happened.

Nye: Literally if any shred of evidence challenged what I currently believe, I would embrace it and change my view to fit with the new understanding that new evidence could provide. Science is about learning and discovery, and if you make any evidence supporting any other model, then you will literally change the world. Science is about adjusting theories based on ALL the evidence we have, so anything new would be welcomed and learned about and added to evolving theories.
While I wanted to come into this debate open-minded, as I do truly enjoy hearing why people believe other things, I was disappointed by Ham’s debate becoming a sales pitch for the Bible. As Nye pointed out, religion and faith are important, seeing as so many billions of people have it and find comfort in it, but it shouldn't change the way we view our natural world and how we can continue to understand the world around us.

In conclusion: Bill Nye is awesome, is definitely still the Science Guy, looks great in a bow tie, hasn't aged as much as you’d think, sits on the boards of many science-y things (he is Executive Director of the Planetary Society), and has this whole science thing down to a SCIENCE! (zing!)

I’m not saying Ken Ham is a whacko, but he truly believes that we can’t understand or know anything about the past because we weren't there to see it.

Umm...I wonder if he “believes” in the Civil War? We have plenty of evidence saying it happened, but I wasn't actually there to witness any battles. Wait, now I believe the US hasn’t been involved in any wars prior to 27 years ago. You can tell me I’m wrong, but you can’t TRULY prove it, because you weren't THERE.