Human beings tend to cling to convenient obliviousness - 'I haven't seen it, so it can't really exist!' - in spite of embarrassing, burgeoning bodies
Human beings tend to cling to convenient obliviousness - 'I haven't seen it, so it can't really exist!' - in spite of embarrassing, burgeoning bodies of evidence to the contrary. In order for this comfortable bliss of ignorance to be maintained, it follows that any flagging up of the problem will be met with denial: so naturally you get accusations of lying, or exaggeration. These aren't always intentionally unkind - I think they're often motivated by a horrified inability to accept the severity of the problem as by a deliberate attempt at dismissal.- Laura Bates, Everyday Sexism
This quote explains perfectly the ignoring of all the warning signs in The Plague, especially by Dr. Rieux and his colleagues. A stampeding immigration of thousands of infected, dying rats doesn't raise an alarm, really?!
A riveting 100-page opener filled with realistic personal, medical, social, and legal observations and their emotional repercussions was followed by an increasingly introspective and philosophical narrative and dialogue. Unfortunately I wasn't as enamoured with the slower paced latter than I was the action-packed former. However, it does perfectly reflect the tiresome nature of the plague: being imprisoned in the town under quarantined conditions, unable to leave or communicate with the outside world, separating friends and family.
The stifling heat of summer, the inescapable smell of burning bodies and the only news of note being the number of dead that day, becomes insufferable, but the people must endure for they have no choice. All emotions are heightened in the face of the apocalyptic nature of the plague, randomly killing everyone around you - fear, depression, desperation. One could've even take solace in their pets as they're exterminated in case they spread the disease, which deprives one old man of his favourite pastime - spitting on cats. (Haha! Sorry, I'm a dog-person.)
This story of triumph and tragedy covers 8 months (Apr 16 to Jan 25) and is set in 1940s Algeria, and by the end I was just as exhausted and tired of the plague as Oran's residents, Dr. Rieux especially.
*Read the translation by Robin Buss. **Read as part of The Dead Writers Society's Around the World challenge....more
Laura Bates brings issues of harassment, assault and abuse of both men and women to light, after being deluged with submissions to her website and T
Laura Bates brings issues of harassment, assault and abuse of both men and women to light, after being deluged with submissions to her website and Twitter accounts. Seemingly small incidents of off-hand remarks can feel like the death of a thousand cuts when they happen everyday in every facet of your life. These sexist ouccrences happen so often and are so insidious and pervasive in Western society that they've become normalised to the point we feel silly for being upset about instances others brush off and disheartened when our complaints are ignored. All of this undermines confidence and erodes self-esteem. Even if we don't realise it, we've all witnessed sexism - on the street, in the media, at school and work, and now online with social media and comment forums. As Bates says, 'Enough is enough'.
Sexism is more socially acceptable than racism. Misogyny and misandry. Men get their own chapter but instances of misandry are sprinkled throughout. Bates doesn't just focus on the stereotypical, she points out that women can rape men, women can rape other women, and that men can be feminists.
Huh. Reading your post, I realise now that I experienced sexual harassment at 18 in my first office job - I've never thought of it as being that before. He was a 40-year-old client who publicly harassed me in front of my colleagues. I had no idea what to do because he was also a friend of my boss and almost everyday he would come in for an hour after he'd finished work, every time hitting on me and trying to shame me into submission because I was so young and inexperienced - I'd yet to have a proper boyfriend. This went on for months until my only female colleague told the boss, and suddenly the man didn't come in as much. I didn't tell any friends or family because I found it deeply embarrassing that I couldn't handle it.
As a result, I changed my behaviour towards men, practically fearful of them for years afterwards; making as little eye contact as possible in case I was encouraging any of them, and always making sure I wasn't showing flesh or wearing too much make-up. But I'd still attract the creepers. I look very young for my age - as in not legal - and every now and then an older man will approach me. The worst was when I was in the YA section of the library (I get approached there alot so I don't go in much now) where a man said he wanted to be "my friend". I had Pippi Longstocking-style plaits/braids at the time and was wearing teenage clothes precisely to deter attention.
But that's not all.
Age 12, holidaying in the Seychelles, a native reaches out to touch my left breast "They're coming in nicely," she says. Age 18, Freshers Week at uni saw a guy banging on my dorm room door for ten minutes shouting that my room used to be his and he wanted to see inside again. I didn't open the door. Age 19, being followed around a clothing store then out into the street. Quick thinking had me walk into the well-staffed John Lewis which he refused to enter, instead waiting for me outside. I left via another exit. Age 21, interviewed by a lecherous man who couldn't take his eyes off my chest. Was offered the job immediately. Despite the huge increase in salary and intriguing career-making job description, I turned it down.
Then there are the occasions when a man asks "where's that smile?" or "smile, might never happen" which somehow gave rise to 'bitchy resting face' which only appears to affect women. Hmm.
Sadly, as the majority of the perpetrators of the incidents that left the biggest impressions on me have been Pakistani and seemingly African immigrants (I live in a town with large communities of both), I'm wary of men from similar backgrounds.
83 per cent of Egyptian women report experiencing sexual harassment in the street. Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, 2008
More like 100%. I visited Sharm El-Sheik in November 2008. Worst. holiday. ever. I needed another holiday to get over the stress of that one. The Lonely Planet Egypt guide dedicated just a couple of sentences in the safety section on the street harassment of women so naively I believed it wouldn't be a problem. Nothing prepared me for what I experienced. I've very briefly talked about this before.
I travelled there with only my sister while in our early 20s. Big mistake. We were harassed every day. We didn't even have to leave our hotel room to witness it. We saw it from our balconies. Men clustered around the pool and the massage tables openly staring at women. Men calling after us in the street, trying to get us to follow them down dark alleys in that creepily cliched way we were warned of as children. They took every chance to touch us, to compliment us, to grill us about our marital status. A wedding ring or a husband standing by your side didn't necessarily protect you. (I was surprised the husbands tolerated the blatant disrespect of their wives, I kept hoping the offenders would receive a bloody nose or a black eye.)
I received multiple marriage proposals, me more so than my sister, we reasoned that was because she was gobby while I was quiet and observant, constantly looking out for grabby hands and other dangers. As for assault, my sister's breasts were manhandled. She tried to let it roll off her but I could tell it was starting to get to her. We decided to abandon our plans to visit Cairo and the pyramids - too risky. Would I ever go back? No. I don't want to feel like I need intimidating bodyguards to feel safe walking down the street or relaxing on the beach. No wonder native women didn't leave the house, the one or two I did see wore stiflingly hot burkas.
For awhile now I've held the belief that our deeply ingrained gendered stereotypes beaten into us as children and reinforced by society at large, are the main contributor to society's inability to accept the transgendered. Gender should be a matter of biology alone with none of the additional spurious and unequal social expectations, that if not met, leaves those 'failures' vulnerable to public disapproval and condemnation.
This is my new top 5 of non-fiction feminist reads:
Okay, so Everyday Sexism took me 3 weeks to read it because I had to pause for a mental swig of spirits every now and then when the rage overcame me, but I can assure you this is a 5-star read that I recommend to all.
I didn't like the ending. Stupid, I know. It's right there in the title. I found it so upsetting, I ran into my mother's bedroom, woke her up and huggI didn't like the ending. Stupid, I know. It's right there in the title. I found it so upsetting, I ran into my mother's bedroom, woke her up and hugged her tightly. I have been taking her for granted. She won't be around forever and I must appreciate her more now while she still has all of her faculties despite her difficulties with her mental and physical health. The next day I ran out and bought her flowers, chocolates and her favourite cheesecake as early Mother's Day gifts.
This is a collection of short autobiographical articles covering 10 years, originally written for the author's column in The Guardian. We begin with an 89-year-old independent grandmother called Clarice deciding to move from her home on the coast in Brighton to live with her 54-year-old daughter and 18-year-old granddaughter in London.
Generational gaps and culture clash / shock provide plenty of friction. Friends to compete, argue and console with are entertaining distractions. And frustrations take the form of form-filling and jobsworth bureaucracy, health issues with the associated numerous endless hospital and GP appointments, the expensive no value for money nursing homes, and the appalling attitude NHS hospital staff have towards the elderly and mentally ill. Quite a few of these things I've experienced myself with my own mother so I sympathise.
Hanson's mother is painted as an honest-to-a-fault, opinionated, food porn loving, make-do and mend scrimper and saver of money. She is sweet, brazen, stubborn and fascinated by all the sex on TV. In a word, she is lovable. I wish I'd had a grandma like her. As it is, my mother's got the honest to a fault part down. Getting her to lie is impossible. Even little white ones. "Does my bum look big in this?" "Yes, you need to lose weight." "I know! No need to tell me."
While Michele writes in a middle-aged, southern England mildly posh and slightly melodramatic and comedic way, her daughter Amy's extra long chapter towards the end is poignant and heartbreaking. Her grandmother's birthday wish for many years was to die and instead she seems to receive a new ailment. A stroke causing aphasia - a difficulty in communicating, particularly talking, was the worst. A previously animated, chatty and opinionated woman is at first reduced to silence and life became one long game of Charades, and then gradually she was able to say a few words at a time but they aren't always the right ones. Her daughter and granddaughter became excellent translators.
My mother was lucky. Her mini-strokes happened all at once, resulting in amnesia - including forgetting how to eat - and referring to herself in third person, taking months to recover.
I understood Amy's painful guilt, her inability to watch the indignities of ageing, the simple everyday activities we carry out and take for granted that become embarrassingly difficult and messy as her grandmother's body deteriorates and malfunctions.
It's amazing that Clarice lasted as long as she did, to a ripe old age of 99. Had she moved into a nursing home instead, I doubt she would've lasted 3 years let alone 10. Michele couldn't do that to her mother, didn't want the guilt or the worry that goes with letting others care for someone you love. She did everything she could to keep her mother mentally and physically active, and raising Clarice's spirits when she was depressed and longing for death.
Right now I'm doing the same. I've become concerned that my mother's mental agility is in peril. Dementia has become a concern and I've realised she has little stimulation since she fills her day with repetitive OCD activities. The jigsaw I bought was for us to do together but I suspect the number of pieces and the complexity intimidated her. Trying to get her to read new books is a nagging exercise, in fact anything and everything I try to introduce is outright rejected or reluctantly accepted but never done. This is going to be an uphill battle.
I recommend Living with Mother to everyone because not only will many of us be responsible for caring for our parents as life expectancy increases, but we are all ageing. Hanson's account informs us of what's in store for us in our futures, enabling us to decide on how we're going to cope....more
Anthony Weston encourages the use of representative examples and counterexamples, warns of the hazards of statistics (like I recently have), imparts tAnthony Weston encourages the use of representative examples and counterexamples, warns of the hazards of statistics (like I recently have), imparts the importance of impartial and reliable sources, explains the correlational relationship between cause and effect, presents deductive reasoning in the words of Sherlock Holmes, preaches the value of librarians, and can teach a thing or two to Badly Behaving Authors.
Criticisms and suggestions, as always, are welcome. ~ Page x, from the Preface
Writers --at all levels--need feedback. It is through others' eyes that you can see best where you are unclear or hasty of just plain implausible. Feedback improves your logic too. Objections may come up that you hadn't expected. Premises you thought were secure may turn out to need defending, while other premises may turn out to be more secure than they seemed. You may even pick up a dew new facts or examples. Feedback is a "reality check" all the way around --welcome it. ~ page 64,Rule 38
The Some Common Fallacies chapter is excellent. The examples I run into the most:
One word: X-Factor. The sob stories 'appealing to pity as an argument for special treatment.'
"Everyone's doing it!" Sex (for teenagers). Brazilian waxes. iPhones. '...appealing to a person to go along with the crowd.'
As the author invites criticism, I have only one complaint: No forms of cognitive bias were included. Bias is explicitly mentioned once, during the introduction of section IV on Sources. I've tried to find a book that does include them and this was, in the end, the most likely candidate to cover this topic, so I'm a tad disappointed.
A Rulebook for Arguments really is what it says, a short and concise, but easy to understand, list of rules on how to construct a solid argument.
Recommended to everyone 12+, including authors of both fiction and non-fiction, for everything from a short and simple discussion to essays, oral presentations, and dissertations....more
Bestiality. Kidnapping. Mugging. Ye olde carjacking. Burglary. Assault. Murder. Female paedophiles. Incest. Male rape. Adultery. Animal cruelty. SeriaBestiality. Kidnapping. Mugging. Ye olde carjacking. Burglary. Assault. Murder. Female paedophiles. Incest. Male rape. Adultery. Animal cruelty. Serial killers in the making. Poisonings. Homosexual priest gangbangs. Shapeshifting. Gods and goddesses. The Seven Deadly Sins. Evil mother-in-laws. Drama. Comedy. Tragedy. Adventure. Romance. Horror. Urban legends. Stories within stories. Inspiration for that Hannibal episode where a person was sewn into a dead horse's belly.
What doesn't The Golden Ass have?
At this point I should probably be comparing The Golden Ass to the brutality shown in Game of Thrones, only this is much less about political maneuvering and Machiavellian plotting, but still, they're both not for the faint of heart. The Golden Ass is one of the first, or the first, human-to-animal transformation stories that run in the same vein as Disney's Brother Bear and The Emperor's New Groove.
With all of the beatings Lucius received as a helpless slave in donkey form, carrying loads too heavy for his four-legged form, having his fur set on fire, never allowed rest when he most needs it and forced to continue on or have his feet tied together to be hurled off a cliff - because that's what they did to lame animals - I feel like I need to donate to The Donkey Sanctuary.
For a 1,900 year old novel, you realise that nothing's really changed in that time, socially speaking.
Sex scenes are surprisingly good. There's no hesitation. No repressed sexuality. No self-esteem issues. And all manner of positions are attempted.
'The only redeeming feature of this catastrophic transformation was that my natural endowment had grown too.'
Typical man. Turned into a donkey and he's impressed with the increase in the size of his manhood.
Yelling 'FIRE!' when being burgled and in need of help:
'Then, leaving him there fatally crucified, he climbed to the roof of his hovel and shouted at the top of his voice to summon the neighbours; calling each one by name he gave out that his house had suddenly caught fire, reminding them that this involved the safety of them all. So everybody, frightened by the danger next door, came running in alarm to help.'
Well, it's been proven. Video games don't make kids violent, a lack of video games does. Imagination is a dangerous thing. So many inventive ways to torture and kill, to humiliate and degrade. The devil makes work for idle hands, as they say. So parents, quickly stuff a Playstation controller into your little one's hands before they turn their minds to dastardly deeds.
Certain aspects of The Golden Ass really do get you thinking about contentious issues.
How do you define bestiality? Lucius is a man turned into a donkey. When it's proposed that he'll be allowed his choice of horses with which to procreate - is that bestiality? Is Lucius's fornication as an ass with a human woman bestiality? Does the fact that he has a human mind inside an animal body change the status of the sexual relationship?
Surprisingly, Apuleius doesn't deliver the stereotype paedophile. A lusty married woman sets her sights on her stepson. Oddly this is labelled incest though there appears to be no blood connection. And it's the same with rape. A cuckolded husband rapes his adulterous wife's toyboy lover as punishment. Perhaps male paedophiles and rapists were stereotypes even 2,000 years ago.
The feminist in me feels compelled to point out the unbalanced female representation. Many women were demonised as witches who pee on men's faces, who steal body parts from the dead, who are complicit in evil deeds, who are nymphomaniacs, adulterers, paedophiles, vain and jealous grudge-holding goddesses. Psyche (myth), Photis (Lucius's servant lover) and Byrrhena (Lucius's aunt) are the only exceptions.
The Abduction of Psyche by William-Adolphe Bouguereau
During Lucius's journey, the stories he hears are mostly told at the dinner table, around the fire, as a distraction on a long journey, or as a comfort to distraught kidnap victims. Understandably storytelling was their main form of entertainment. Well, that and gossip, which was free or you provided a meal for the teller. I really enjoyed the mythical telling of Psyche and Cupid.
Each of the 11 'books' are self-contained chapters of about 20 pages with a spoiler-y summary of what's to come at the beginning, so it was easy to dip in and out. I wasn't particularly happy with the ending, in fact I skimmed and skipped around at that point. I can understand Lucius's gratefulness at the chance to become human again, and I'm aware of that ancient tradition of 'a life saved, is a life owed' [see Azeem of 1991's Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves], but I have an issue with blind faith. Lucius walks away from his previous life to devote himself and his future to worshipping his rescuer. That's just weird, from my 21st century non-religious perspective.
The translation very much played a part in my enjoyment of this ancient novel. I carefully researched which was right for me. I chose the Kenney edition as it seemed the least stilted of those available, and I'm glad I made that choice.
I never thought I'd enjoy a 2,000 year old novel, but I did. And you might, too.
I passed my theory test on November 14th 2013! And that was after only 8 hours of sleep in 48 hours, and the*Cross-posted on BookLikes and Wordpress.
I passed my theory test on November 14th 2013! And that was after only 8 hours of sleep in 48 hours, and the day before I was sitting in a hospital room waiting for my mother to come out of high risk hip replacement surgery. I was so pleased she pulled through okay that I didn't care if I passed or not. But when I saw I did, I had to turn the letter over in my hand to check my name, and not someone else's, was on it!
Honestly, I didn't use this book that much. Answering the questions and watching the Hazard Perception clips on Theory Test Pro for 3 weeks trained me up to pass. All the questions you get wrong get funneled into the next practice test you take so that you eventually learn from your mistakes. I'd advise anyone learning to drive in the UK to use this website to study for their theory test.
If, however, you're without a reliable internet connection then this book is the next best thing, although it will only suffice for the multiple choice portion of the test as there's no substitute for the Hazard Perception part where you click the mouse when you see a hazard in the short video clips to test your response times.
I am the product of MLK's "dream" as the daughter of a black mother and white father. Who knows, I might not be here if people like him hadn't foughtI am the product of MLK's "dream" as the daughter of a black mother and white father. Who knows, I might not be here if people like him hadn't fought for racial equality and against segregation.
Brilliant free BBC audio of "I Have A Dream" read by Maya Angelou, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Ndileka Mandela (granddaughter of Nelson Mandela), Stevie Wonder, Doreen Lawrence (mother of murdered British teenager Stephen Lawrence), Malala Yousafzai (sixteen-year-old student from Swat in Pakistan, shot by the Taliban for going to school), and a few others.
Each reader seemed to have read a passage personally relevant to them, bringing new meaning to MLK's eloquent words from his impassioned speech delivered to hundreds of thousands of people in Washington 50 years ago, the anniversary of which was yesterday (28th August 2013).
1st read: 29th Aug 2013 of BBC audio 2nd read: 9th Sep 2013 of Paperback ...more
Gifted to me for Christmas 1994 by the Sunday School I temporarily attended - according to the bookplate - af*Cross-posted on BookLikes and Wordpress.
Gifted to me for Christmas 1994 by the Sunday School I temporarily attended - according to the bookplate - after I'd watched the 80s film adaptation at school, I remember the ungrateful disdain I felt for the novel; feeling I'd already read the book having watched the film. How ignorant I was. Granted, I only 8 years old, but we all know that adaptions are usually inferior to the original.
Unsure if I'd ever read this in my childhood during a desperately bored moment, I decided to seize upon the opportunity when this C.S. Lewis classic was selected for The Dead Writers Society's 2014 Series Project.
Immediately I was struck by the quaint simplicity of the language used 60 years ago and the innate kindness and naïveté expressed by the children of that era. Tedium and disjointed fantasist logic, though, soon irritated like mosquito bites; every few pages something caused an eye-twitch.
But in general, take my advice, when you meet anything that's going to be human and isn't yet, or used to be human once and isn't now, or ought to be human and isn't, you keep your eyes on it and feel for your hatchet. - Mr. Beaver
Anyone spot the irony? That's right, Mr. Beaver isn't human. There are no humans in Narnia, that's the reason for the children's importance. He's just warned them that every creature they encounter in his world is a physical danger to them, including himself. Ugh.
Edmund's betrayal abruptly dismissed and forgiven was one of the worst irritants as his implicit pride, arrogance and greed left him open to the White Witch's charms, and although it's hinted he punishes himself, no one berates him for betraying his siblings for the archetypal stranger offering chocolate in the windowless van.
Sheldon: Hold on. Just because the nice man is offering you candy, doesn’t mean you should jump into his windowless van. What’s the occasion? Seibert: Just a little fund-raiser for the university. Sheldon: Aha! The tear-stained air mattress in the back of the van. ~ The Big Bang Theory
While it's true that shame and self-punishment can sting more than anything anyone else could say, it still grates. Edmund's apparent hurried redemption off-stage - rewarded with a battlefield knighthood - and later becoming a 'graver and quieter man' earning the name 'Edmund the Just' feels like a cop out. However, he's the only character to be generally cautious, skeptical and untrusting as we witness him pointing out the unwise act of instantly trusting the word of a stranger, which is contradictory to his earlier aforementioned behaviour evident before he eats the tainted Turkish Delight. I suppose his complexity makes him the most interesting and well-developed character of the novel.
Edmund and the White Witch in her sleigh a.k.a. her windowless van
Crowning these sons of Adam and daughters of Eve for just showing up one day, also appalls me. Hardly meritocratic, and yet the 2005 movie changes this aspect. All four children earn their crowns by bravely fighting the good fight using the weapons bestowed upon them. Due to the time period in which this was written, Lewis only allows the Sons to wage war as Father Christmas claims "...battles are ugly when women fight" when gifting the girls with a bow and arrows (for Susan) and a dagger (for Lucy). Despite this, the boys do very little in the way of violence or strategy. Again, I can put this down to the age-appropriate and historical tolerance for violence in the media during the late 1940s.
Susan actually uses her bow
And now I'm reminded why I shouldn't read pre-teen fiction; it's never quite realistic enough for me to enjoy. However, I do wonder if this classic would make it past editors in this condition in the present day. Instinct tells me the manuscript's syntax would be tinkered with and more contractions added for a smoother reading experience, at the very least. Its current form left me eager to abandon it to the never-to-be-read-again shelves, if it hadn't been for the DWS Series Project, I would have, although I won't be reading the rest of the series....more