liveonearth: (Default)
Maher crossed a line with his joke, but that's what comedians do. It's the taboos that make jokes funny, the fact that they refer to something that is painful or secret. The US history of enslaving Africans is not secret, but it is painful. The pain is felt by many of us, perhaps not the same for those with other colors of skin, but there is no doubt that it has marred many generations of our society. When/how will we ever get past it? Can the descendants of slavery ever forgive?

My great grandmother lived in the piedmont of North Carolina and owned a slave. Am I guilty? Should I be punished for that? I have been punished, and I'm sure I will be punished more. Do I deserve this punishment? I go out of my way to protect and include black people. Does my calling them black people make me a racist? How about brown people, red people, white people? Does my effort to be inclusive make me an ass? Is there any way for a white person to broach this subject without it being negatively received? I know I am priviledged but I am not immune to the attitudes of people around me of every description.

Racial relations get worse when people are unfairly punished. I was born with no ill will toward any group. Painful experiences in my life have led me to be wary of certain groups of people. Usually it is the people who have historically been abused who later become agressive or condescending. Jewish people have treated me badly, moreso than Blacks but some of them too have assumed that I am a racist and helped to make me into one. It is understandable, but it does not result in the whirled peas that we seek.

Those who say Maher should be fired for racism, seriously now? He did not call anyone else a nigger, he was referring to himself. His joke was on TV and showed that he understood the class system that was applied to black slaves in our nation. Who else but a comedian can publicly break taboos and get people talking about it? If we are to heal these wounds, we need to talk about it. Keeping it secret and taboo does nothing to reduce the pain. Time passing, generations shifting, that reduces the pain... but I wish we could do it faster.

This brings me to the question about words. The word nigger is apparently 100% taboo, at least for a white person to say on TV. It appears to me that it is just a word. It is not the word that I am worried about, it is the attitude. Certainly words and attitudes are linked, but it is not a 100% correlation between saying the word nigger and being a racist or promoting racism. I do not believe that Maher is a racist. I think he is trying to defuse the tensions around our dark history and get us all to laugh, together, and let the pain slip away.

What other words are taboo? I can't think of any that the two white men I live with react to as strongly. Honky? LOL.

I wish "bitch" were less acceptable. The word has been applied to me many times in my life, usually because I refused to do what a white man wanted me to do, or because I got angry. The word bitch has been used to suppress the will of a huge class of people, and it is still in common usage and acceptable in rap music and other places. I am allowed to get angry and to assert myself without deserving denigration. But women have been put down for a long time and a large segment of our population would like to keep us down. If Maher had said "I'm a bitch", I would not have been offended. That is not the same as him calling someone else a bitch.

I would like to hear from the descendants of slaves in the US as to whether they think Maher should be fired. I bet they will say no. He is doing his job, making us laugh out things that hurt.

Television

Nov. 2nd, 2015 06:46 am
liveonearth: (moon)
I don't normally watch TV.  When I stay at my mom's house it is running all the time.  My first impression is that the programming is sensational, and that there is very little depth to any of the reporting or storytelling.  There is a lot of redundancy with so-called news programs repeating clips over and over.  Next impression: pharmaceuticals dominate the advertising.  I saw an ad for the "female viagra", and one for Humira that says "don't take this if you have an infection" and others that speak of liver failure and other dire consequence.  Direct advertising of pharmaceuticals should be BANNED.  As a doctor I would rather that people come to me with concern and complaints from their lives, not requests for drugs.  Television programs Americans to be shallow, ignorant, and demanding.  So unappealing.

I don't remember the stats but I saw in the news that most 4 or 5 year old Americans already have a television and a "mobile device" of their own.  Most babies are exposed to mobile devices before age 1.
liveonearth: (gorilla thoughtful)
We're on season 3, watching the last season of Lie to Me. The first season is perhaps the best, with plenty of good information mixed in about how to read people's emotions on their faces and bodies. The second season turns into a FBI story, and the third season is more police oriented---they were trying for a larger audience but apparently didn't get it. Only dorks like me who are curious about nonverbal communication stick with it.

The lead character, Cal Lightman, is a great study in body language. I don't know the actor's name but I am impressed. He does this thing I call the "Lightman Flop" which is to say that he jumps up into the air and lands on people's couches in a sprawled position that says "I own this place" and also "climb aboard" to any attractive women. He also shows his distrust of various characters with a toothy "smile" that isn't friendly at all---it's more of a snarl, and he is showing his teeth as if to say "Look out, I bite". One other notable thing that Cal the character does is he is very relaxed, intentionally relaxed. Being able to shrug off tension, to grimace and then release the face, is something most of us could use some practice at. Watching his swaying walk and the way his mouth hangs open when he is listening carefully has me experimenting with new ways of relaxing myself, and of conveying that I am paying my full attention. One of the recent episodes in season 3 showed him training a cop to fool lie detection specialists, and the main tidbit I took from it is "relax your cheeks" and keep after it, to avoid showing emotions that you don't want to show.

There's a lot that is said out loud in this program to teach people about nonverbal cues, but there is more that is not said, it is simply modeled, and it is up to the watcher to identify it.
liveonearth: (concerned eye)
This might end up being important:

Under the deal announced Friday, Verizon will pay $3.6 billion to Comcast, Time Warner and Bright House Networks to use a swath of cellphone airwaves that the cable giants own but do not use. That would cement Verizon’s status as the dominant wireless carrier and give it access to valuable spectrum at a time when its primary rival — AT&T — is struggling to expand its network through a controversial proposed merger with T-Mobile.

The rest of the story on the Washington Post
liveonearth: (Default)
The new finding is that 10 year old children of persistently depressed mothers have larger amygdalas. This new finding makes me wonder.......about our society. But-- a little orientation for those of you who don't read about the brain all the time. The amygdala is part of the mammalian or limbic brain, and it is the part that helps us feel fear and loathing, instinctive attraction and lust, and mystical or religious experiences. In other words, the amygdala drives a whole lot of instinct and emotion, and is completely distinct from rational thought. Another recent study showed that political conservatives have bigger amygdalas, whereas political liberals have bigger frontal cortices. So my question is this: is our current generational swing to the right side of the politic spectrum due to a generation of depressed mothers? Or were these mothers inattentive for other reasons? Did the advent of television cause a rewiring of our brains on a population level? Just asking. What other factors could have caused a generational swing toward amygdalic dominance??
(new article from medscape) )
liveonearth: (mushroom cloud)
I got enough responses to my bit about preparing to resist radiation that it occurs to me to wonder, is the media really working so hard to inflame panic? Or are they trying to keep us from panicking so that we will all just go to the mall and buy movie tickets instead of concerning ourselves with radiation? I have no idea what the media is up to, because aside from this outward mental spew I participate in it very little. I do not watch TV. I do catch a few minutes of NPR from time to time, and last I heard was some expert saying that the situation at the plant there has surpassed the level of the Three Mile Island meltdown. That was enough for me to know that radiation has already been emitted. I'm not panicked....but I'm interested. These ARE interesting times. I'm fascinated, in fact, with the homogenaity of the responses I've gotten. So everybody thinks it is a hoax? What is informing you of this certainty? And what makes you so sure you are right? I'll have to wait for my other bit a media---a weekly called The Week---before I will have any more media hype to pass on.
liveonearth: (Default)
I haven't watched much TV in this life. It's because my family moved to Austria when I was 12, and I was broken of the young habit. When I returned at age 16, I couldn't believe how inane TV was. I could sit through it, but the most fascinating part for me was always the advertising. What are they selling, and how? If anyone hands me a remote control, to this day, the OFF button is where I'm going. I've been known to unplug people's TV's when they weren't looking, and to futz with the controls to make it hard to get back to their program. But I have a confession. Now that I am living in a city where I STILL don't have any close friends, my best friends are on the radio and the internet. And the two shows that I watch on Hulu both feature men who are cynical and adept at seeing through people (House and Lightman). I don't own a TV, but I have two computers and a wireless network. I just ran across a composite clip that simulates a conversation between the two men, and it cracked me up. If you don't know the characters, this will bore you. )
liveonearth: (Default)
Researchers at the Ochsner Health System in Baton Rouge, Louisiana analyzed 14 years of data ('93-'06) on 120,000 people, adjusted for smoking and obesity, and discovered that just plain old sitting is a major health risk. Six or more hours a day on the keester causes women to have a 37% higher risk of dying compared with women who sat 3 hours or less. The difference in death risk between 3 and 6 hours sitting among men was only 17%. ...people who sat a lot and did not exercise or stay active had an even higher mortality risk: 94% for women and 48% for men.
SOURCES )
liveonearth: (Default)
The moon looks awfully near to full....bright white shining in my window. Cold out there for Portland, but probably not freezing. Today did my first ever gynecological exam, both the speculum and the bimanual. I actually felt her ovary. It was one of those firsts, like drawing blood the first time, that not everybody gets. The further I get into this training the more I want to live in a state where I can legally diagnose and prescribe. What a pain it would be to be persecuted for being a good diagnostician, and punished for competing with the established corporate medical monster.
random ruminations )
liveonearth: (Default)
This is the age of irresponsibility. There are moments when it seems as though every figure who waltzes across the public stage is a cheat, a fraud, a liar, or a failure. Child abuse scandals have tarnished the image of Catholic bishops and priests. Steroid scandals have racked Major League Baseball, the Tour de France, and the Olympic Games. As the men who brought the financial system to the brink of collapse were cashing in and remodeling their offices, the executives and union officials who bankrupted the American automobile industry were begging the public sector to give them aid. On any given day, any public figure might be arrested, assaulted, admit to infidelity, go bankrupt, or break down emotionally in front of television cameras. There are no consequences.
--Matthew Continetti in The Weekly Standard
liveonearth: (Default)
I don't have a television, so I don't get to see "talking pictures" of the candidates very often. I go out of my way to watch some debates each political season, in order to get a good look at the candidates. I already know what positions to expect from them, but I want to see how they hold themselves, how they react, what kinds of emotions they display. And I like to hurl insults at the television screen to get out some of my frustrations. This time I didn't drink any wine, so the insults didn't flow as readily, but it was still worthwhile to watch.
more )
liveonearth: (Default)


Here you can watch Mr. T defend himself against people who think he might be a homophobe. A snickers commercial that showed Mr T harassing a speedwalker with a candy-shooting gun was pulled from British TV. The ad is in here. The speedwalker's swishing ass is shown, and apparently a lot of gays were up in arms about the implied homophobia of the swish in combination with Mr. T's usual schtick about 'be a real man' and 'get some nuts'. I know of no correlation between speedwalking and gayness. I do find Mr. T's general belligerence distasteful. On the other hand, I love the way Mr. T calls Bill Reilly "Beeul". His dipthong sounds positively east Tennesseean.
liveonearth: (Default)
I did not attend the screening at NCNM, instead I went to classmates' houses to view three segments of the program on PBS. After the first one the show began to seem like a broken record. People who have less money, less insurance, less transport, less contacts, etc have less access to the fine healthcare that is supposedly available in the US. We know this already. This program provided specific examples of socioeconomic variables that correlate with better or worse healthcare.
more )
liveonearth: (Default)
Well I could have gone to school early this morning in order to go to Mamie's free yoga class, but instead of practiced a little yoga here at home and then made a big eggy goat cheese peppers and onions and cilantro burrito. Now digesting and posting for the first time in a day or so. It's nice to be home. I like home.
more )
liveonearth: (Default)
I caught the 2nd half of the Republican presidential debate tonight. I could not believe the way that Ron Paul was treated by the questioners. They offered him no respect whatsoever, cutting him off before he could get half a reply out, and didn't even offer him the opportunity to speak much of the time. CNN was showcasing the McCain & Romney show, and a show it was. McCain was sitting there smug in the knowledge that those incumbent scoundrels are scheming to get him in next. His smug grin started to irk me just as bad as Shrub's leer does. I'm starting to get really scared that McCain will be our next president. Romney is a pretty boy and did really well with the Reagan question, but otherwise he's a loser. And imagine the races----McCain against a woman, or McCain against a black----plus the advantage of alliance with the cheaters running the voting machines----McCain's a shoo-in. Holy SHIT. It's going to take a revolution to turn this train around, and I am certain it won't be bloodless. The only plus note on this debate: Ron Paul got the biggest applause of the night when he brought the Iraq war duration question back around to the more fundamental question of when and how we go to war, with or without a declaration, and with or without justification? Whatever happened to real foreign policy debate? I want to think that there's hope, but tonight it appears to me that true debate is dead. Not happening. Not going to happen. CNN be damned. Politics is just a TV show.

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