July 31, 2003

El Camino de Santiago

Posted by shonk at 06:18 PM in Ramblings | permalink | comment

If you speak Spanish, learn a bit about the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela here. I walked the Camino two years ago (270 miles of hiking over 17 days, I think) and was just getting a bit nostalgic about it, as I realized I'd forgotten all about St. James' Day when it happened (July 25th). Lots of hard work, but well worth it.

Feminist Vocabulary

Posted by shonk at 04:01 PM in Feminism | permalink | comment

I got to thinking recently about people who refuse to use words like "mankind" or "history", claiming that they're sexist. Now, first of all, to me, this seems really, really trivial. I mean, even stipulating that women are and always have been oppressed, they were never oppressed by words. Words are just sounds, or, at best, concepts; they are totally incapable of taking action. They are effects of culture, not causes (Wittgenstein and Jaynes disagree with me on this, in part, but let's keep the argument simple). Hence, if you are going to fight oppression, fight the causes (e.g. people, social institutions, etc.), not the effects. At least, that's my gut feeling.

Furthermore, the whole thing is made even more ludicrous by the fact that most of these words are not, technically speaking, sexist at all. Take, for example, "mankind". Here is Dictionary.Com's etymology of the word "man" (look for the "Usage Note"). You'll note that in Old English, "man" was entirely gender-neutral, so "mankind" literally means "humankind" or "person-kind" or whatever other gender-neutral synonym you prefer. Similarly, "history" derives (by way of Old French) from the Latin "historia". However, the Latin possessives look something like "suus", "sua" and "suum" (look here for a cool Java Latin/English dictionary); in other words, the root word was not intended to mean "his story", and the fact you can parse it that way in English is, apparently, a coincidence.

The moral of the story is, if it makes you feel better to say "herstory" or "personkind", then go right ahead, but realize that the words you are substituting for are not actually sexist.

(Just trying to alienate as many readers as I can in the first two days)

Marilyn Monroe or Condoleeza Rice...

Posted by shonk at 02:55 PM in Feminism | permalink | comment

Which would you rather be?

This ICQ conversation is edifying:

roo: i read somewhere that fashion magazines have started hiring 14-year-old models and then 'sexing them up', i.e. making them look older!

roo: isn't that sick?!

shonk: yeah...but they're just pandering to people's tastes, so I have to blame the people that buy the magazines more than anything

roo: i am not concerned about WOMEN buying them. i'm worried about the girls who read them.

shonk: ah...well, I can't imagine it's any more damaging than looking at the anorexic, heroin-addicted models that were popular when we were adolescents, if that's any consolation

roo: in my women's studies class we looked at pictures of models from the early 90s and the 80s. they all look so...normal!!!

shonk: hell, look at models from the 50s and 60s, and you'll be frightened by how normally shaped their bodies are

roo: marilyn monroe was a size 12!!!

roo: condoleeza rice is size 6!!!

shonk: exactly

roo: i'd much rather be marilyn than condoleeza ;)

shonk: well, keep in mind that marilyn did commit suicide, so she wasn't exactly the happiest person

shonk: of course, if my parents named me Norma Jean, I'd probably be depressed too

roo: hhaha

shonk: wait, did I say that out loud?

roo: some suicide-bomber might kill condoleeza...so you never know.

Generic Layout

Posted by shonk at 04:16 AM in Blogging | permalink | comment

The layout is generic and lame. I know this. I knew this before the thought ever crossed your mind. Someday, I'll change it.

Is This On?

Posted by shonk at 03:46 AM in Ramblings | permalink | comment

So, right. This is my new blog. The way I see it, it's pretty much guaranteed to be the stereotypical weblog: filled with unfunny deadpan comments, infrequently updated, read only by the writer.

In fact, that's pretty much how I pitched it to my host. I said, "I'd like to start up a self-centered, insular blog with more links to people who are actually funny than content, rarely if ever updated and dedicated primarily to offending the sorts of idiots that would plunk down $15 a year to a hosting company for the privilege of a public soapbox."

And the host said, "Will there be tittie?"

I hadn't quite thought of that, but I said, "Sure."

So host says, "What are these titties going to do?"

I, of course, responded, "Uh...jiggle?"

BOOM! Server space falls into my lap, and all of a sudden, I'm a blogger.

"Jiggling titties," the host said, "who'da thunk it? We've been waiting for you here in the blogosphere. I just can't give you enough server space."

And all these years I'd been coming up with content outlines, preparing reams of links, writing satire; little did I know it would be as simple as " 'Will there be tittie?' 'Sure' ".

(At this point, Bill Hicks is rolling over in his grave, both because of the unfunny adaptation of his bit and because it remains extra-parenthetically unattributed)

Actually, if you replace the phrase "Will there be tittie?" with the phrase "Will you have content?" the above scenario becomes far more accurate. That, and my host is much cooler than that. Check her out.

Anyway, by now I hope to have attracted both the acne-scarred male adolescent masturbators of the world desperately Googling "jiggling titties" and the twenty-something college-radio hacks trying to dig up the dirt on Bill's latest posthumous live album. If so, I figure I'm pretty much in my element.

Seriously, though, give me a few days to get the layout straightened out.