Summer Dresses for People That Wear Bras

Probably the best thing about the Internet is it enables you to get a glimpse of what life is like for people different from you. I rarely have an occasion to contemplate having to wear clothing that isn’t functional in the way I want it to be functional, such as having my breasts spill out, if I happened to have breasts that could spill. The idea of having working pockets in something I am wearing is a given. But, apparently, I live, unknowingly, in a fashion utopia.

Also TrollXChromosomes can be interesting in the same way, if you use Reddit.

Principles of Democratic Structuring

“Once the movement [grows to the point of needing structure and/or] no longer clings tenaciously to the ideology of “structurelessness,” it is free to develop those forms of organization best suited to its healthy functioning. This does not mean that we should go to the other extreme and blindly imitate the traditional forms of organization. But neither should we blindly reject them all. Some of the traditional techniques will prove useful, albeit not perfect; some will give us insights into what we should and should not do to obtain certain ends with minimal costs to the individuals in the movement. Mostly, we will have to experiment with different kinds of structuring and develop a variety of techniques to use for different situations. The Lot System is one such idea which has emerged from the movement. It is not applicable to all situations, but is useful in some. Other ideas for structuring are needed. But before we can proceed to experiment intelligently, we must accept the idea that there is nothing inherently bad about structure itself — only its excess use.

While engaging in this trial-and-error process, there are some principles we can keep in mind that are essential to democratic structuring and are also politically effective:

1) Delegation of specific authority to specific individuals for specific tasks by democratic procedures. Letting people assume jobs or tasks only by default means they are not dependably done. If people are selected to do a task, preferably after expressing an interest or willingness to do it, they have made a commitment which cannot so easily be ignored.

2) Requiring all those to whom authority has been delegated to be responsible to those who selected them. This is how the group has control over people in positions of authority. Individuals may exercise power, but it is the group that has ultimate say over how the power is exercised.

3) Distribution of authority among as many people as is reasonably possible. This prevents monopoly of power and requires those in positions of authority to consult with many others in the process of exercising it. It also gives many people the opportunity to have responsibility for specific tasks and thereby to learn different skills.

4) Rotation of tasks among individuals. Responsibilities which are held too long by one person, formally or informally, come to be seen as that person’s “property” and are not easily relinquished or controlled by the group. Conversely, if tasks are rotated too frequently the individual does not have time to learn her job well and acquire the sense of satisfaction of doing a good job.

5) Allocation of tasks along rational criteria. Selecting someone for a position because they are liked by the group or giving them hard work because they are disliked serves neither the group nor the person in the long run. Ability, interest, and responsibility have got to be the major concerns in such selection. People should be given an opportunity to learn skills they do not have, but this is best done through some sort of “apprenticeship” program rather than the “sink or swim” method. Having a responsibility one can’t handle well is demoralizing. Conversely, being blacklisted from doing what one can do well does not encourage one to develop one’s skills. Women have been punished for being competent throughout most of human history; the movement does not need to repeat this process.

6) Diffusion of information to everyone as frequently as possible. Information is power. Access to information enhances one’s power. When an informal network spreads new ideas and information among themselves outside the group, they are already engaged in the process of forming an opinion — without the group participating. The more one knows about how things work and what is happening, the more politically effective one can be.

7) Equal access to resources needed by the group. This is not always perfectly possible, but should be striven for. A member who maintains a monopoly over a needed resource (like a printing press owned by a husband, or a darkroom) can unduly influence the use of that resource. Skills and information are also resources. Members’ skills can be equitably available only when members are willing to teach what they know to others.

When these principles are applied, they insure that whatever structures are developed by different movement groups will be controlled by and responsible to the group. The group of people in positions of authority will be diffuse, flexible, open, and temporary. They will not be in such an easy position to institutionalize their power because ultimate decisions will be made by the group at large. The group will have the power to determine who shall exercise authority within it.

-Jo Freeman (aka Joreen), “The Tyranny of Structurenessless.” jofreeman.com. May 1970.

Remembering Boro Mashi

“The neighbors want to know, “Who will give mukhagni?” — only menfolk are allowed to go with the dead to the cremation grounds. Only sons or designated male family members are allowed to light the pyre, mukhagni (adding fire to the mouth of the dead). Women are second-class, not permitted. Women are to bear children — souls may get attached to them when they return from the cremation grounds — not allowed, not allowed.

Didi tells the crowd and to no one in particular, “Ma will give mukhagni. We will be there with her.”

I hear the collective soft gasp of horror. But no one says anything. The Ghosh daughters are foreign-returned, with Western ideas. They don’t see how wrong this is. How men and women aren’t equal.

We have my father to cremate. We have no time to worry about what the neighbors think.”

-Madhushree Ghosh, “The State We Are In: Neither Here, There, nor in Heaven.” Longreads.com. May 2021.

I was reading this, and it brought to mind Boro Mashi. Boro Mashi was not “foreign-returned, with Western ideas.” She was the eldest daughter of four surviving daughters. And, she went to the cremation ground to give mukhagni for her mother. Scandalous, but there was no one else she would send in her stead. This pretty much tells you everything you have to know about Boro Mashi’s character.

Perhaps the one favorite moment I remember about Boro Mashi is when she came to the United States to visit for a year. She was staying with us, at our house for a few weeks, and I must have said something that was a bit cheeky. I turned, and I saw this stern looking, tiny Indian lady with her hand raised looking at me angrily, although kind of overacted. I was trying to figure out what she was doing, and actually leaned in. It turns out she was threatening to smack me, which when I realized that was what she was doing, I started laughing.

And she laughed too. She had spent her whole life as the eldest sister, very tough, and all the “kids” of my generation did not take her lightly. I only knew her as a very small Indian woman, who didn’t talk much to me because her command of English was minimal. Still, it was better than my Bengali. Being afraid of her was simply inconceivable to me.

But, it endeared her to me. She was strong and willing to stand up for herself. She probably liked me partially because not only did I accept this fact about her, but I liked it. Reading this bit above, I find myself missing her.

Immortality Potions

“Poisoned potions of immortality caused the death of up to seven Chinese emperors – the last less than three centuries ago.”

-“Death by immortality potion.” The Generalist Academy. May 4, 2021.

It occurs to me that the modern equivalent of the immortality potion is nutritional supplements, which offers extended or healthier life but are more likely to be causing harm. But, the good news is they won’t kill you as quickly as mercury sulfide.

Colette

“Colette has won the Academy Award in the category of best documentary short…90-year-old Colette Marin-Catherine confronts her past by visiting the German concentration camp Mittelbau-Dora where her brother was killed. As a young girl, she fought Hitler’s Nazis as a member of the French Resistance. For 74 years, she has refused to step foot in Germany, but that changes when a young history student named Lucie enters her life. Prepared to re-open old wounds and revisit the terrors of that time, Marin-Catherine offers important lessons for us all.”

–Anthony Giacchino, “Collette.” The Guardian. November 2020.

Zuihitsu: 2021-04

Collecting these little ideas has become a major focus. Here’s this month’s installment.

  1. Social media turns life into episodes.
  2. When money exchanges hands,  something is being bought.
  3. Constraints liberate, liberties constrain. —Runar Bjarnson
  4. Software is eating the world.
  5. Never forget that society can go balls-up at any moment.
  6. Pleasures deferred can be pleasures foregone.
  7. “A compromise is an agreement between two men to do what both agree is wrong.”—Lord Edward Cecil
  8. Use it right away.
  9. Use research and make a decision.
  10. You get what you pay for.
  11. Take risks, make mistakes.
  12. “We tend to get what we measure, so we should measure what we want.”—James Gustave Speth
  13. Most people are full of crap and not worth listening to. They only know what they know, which is not much.
  14. You’re an individual, no one thinks exactly like you, no one completely understands you, so factor that in in the decisions you make.
  15. Just do your own practice.
  16. Keep doing the experiment as best as you can.
  17. Integration of insights takes time.
  18. Practice, take time to develop, persist and respect the insight of good teachers.
  19. People aren’t perfectable.
  20. Narcissism and arrogance aren’t the same thing.
  21. Prioritize mental training.
  22. Understand the problem before selecting your tools. Before selecting your tools, know what they can and can’t do.
  23. “Telling the truth to someone who can’t understand it is tantamount to telling that person a lie.”—Eliphas Levi
  24. Wisdom is knowing the truth deeply enough to optimize the specifics.
  25. Perseverance furthers.
  26. Only ideologues ignore experts.
  27. Everybody needs shelter, calories, and resources.
  28. Addition is the default for solving problems. Try substraction.
  29. Large organisations are intrinsically sociopathic.
  30. Don’t tell me what you value; show me your budget, and I’ll tell you what you value.
  31. To give everyone a loud speaker is to assure that no one can be heard.
  32. Sounds are a scaffold for thought when logic and imagery elude us.
  33. ”To trust people is a luxury in which only the wealthy can indulge; the poor cannot afford it.”—E. M. Forster
  34. “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”—John Shedd
  35. Transformation happens when you tire of your own bullshit.
  36. Find the people and things you love and make time for them.
  37. Does this need to be said? Does it need to be said by me? Does it need to be said now? Yes * 3, say it.
  38. Change your perspective. The view of a river from a canoe at water level is different from  a bass boat or a bicycle on the side of the river.
  39. There is a difference between contradiction and prosecution.
  40. In every interaction, try to go in heart first and let the  mind view through a filter of compassion.
  41. Good intentions don’t work. Mechanisms do.
  42. Is your view based on reality or a fantasy?
  43. Destruction / Creation, the asteroid that formed the Amazon also killed the dinosaurs.
  44. Men are most likely to believe what they least understand.—Montaigne
  45. People are fearful of whatever they don’t understand, and creativity, by definition, means operating outside collective  understanding.
  46. It”s not how old you are, it’s how you are old.—Jules Renard
  47. ”One fifth of the people are against everything all the time.” —Robert Kennedy
  48. “I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can’t see from the center.”—Kurt Vonnegut
  49. Try your best. After that, leave it.
  50. A good mentor can save you a lot of pain.
  51. The secret to a good life is to enjoy your work.
  52. Don’t ask unless you already know.
  53. Ninety percent of problems are in your head.
  54. Everyone is dangling at the end of a supply chain.
  55. Communities evolve away from reason to affirmation.
  56. “We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.”—Charlie Chaplin
  57. “Making mistakes is better than faking perfection.”
  58. “If you can’t convince them, confuse them.”—Harry S. Truman
  59. If you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with.—Stephen Stills
  60. Sometimes you’ll make a mistake. You’ve got two choices: live with it or fix it.
  61. Goals and desires are always underspecified in human language and thought.
  62. Plans impose boundaries, which can be both good and bad.
  63. It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.– Jiddu Krishnamurti
  64. “Knowing how to be solitary is central to the art of loving. When we can be alone, we can be with others without using them as means of escape.”–bell hooks
  65. There is only one hatred: the hatred of recognition.
  66. The masses have never thirsted after truth. They turn aside from evidence that is not to their taste, preferring to deify error, if error seduce them. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim.—Gustave Le Bon
  67. No one else can look out for your inner life.
  68. We don’t know other people’s thought
  69. What are the seven thoughts you keep coming back to? Want to change your life? Change the way you think.
  70. What haunts you?
  71. We often don’t value something until we are about to lose it.
  72. If you live the life you love, you’ll get the blessings from above.
  73. People only change when not changing is more painful.
  74. Before you diagnose yourself with depression or low self-esteem, check to see if you aren’t just surrounded by assholes.

How to Make Enemies and Influence People

“This essay outlines the characteristics of what I call the ‘totalitarian mindset’. Under certain circumstances, human beings engage in patterns of thinking and behavior that are extremely closed and intolerant of difference and pluralism. These patterns of thinking and behaving lead us towards totalitarian, anti-pluralistic futures. An awareness of how these patterns arise, how individuals and groups can be manipulated through the use of fear, and how totalitarianism plays into the desire in human beings for ‘absolute’ answers and solutions, can be helpful in preventing attempts at manipulation and from the dangers of actively wanting to succumb to totalitarian, simplistic, black-and-white solutions in times of stress and anxiety. I present a broad outline of an agenda for education for a pluralistic future. The lived experience of pluralism is still largely unfamiliar and anxiety inducing, and that the phenomenon is generally not understood, with many myths of purity and racial or cultural superiority still prevalent. Finally, as part of that agenda for education, I stress the importance of creativity as an adaptive capacity, an attitude that allows us to see pluralism as an opportunity for growth and positive change rather than simply conflict.”

-Alfonso Montuori, “How to make enemies and influence people:
anatomy of the anti-pluralist, totalitarian mindset
.” Futures. 2005. pgs. 18-35.

Preferring Pain to High Cognitive Effort

“Cognitive effort is described as aversive, and people will generally avoid it when possible. This aversion to effort is believed to arise from a cost–benefit analysis of the actions available. The comparison of cognitive effort against other primary aversive experiences, however, remains relatively unexplored. Here, we offered participants choices between performing a cognitively demanding task or experiencing thermal pain. We found that cognitive effort can be traded off for physical pain and that people generally avoid exerting high levels of cognitive effort. We also used computational modelling to examine the aversive subjective value of effort and its effects on response behaviours. Applying this model to decision times revealed asymmetric effects of effort and pain, suggesting that cognitive effort may not share the same basic influences on avoidance behaviour as more primary aversive stimuli such as physical pain.”

Todd A Vogel, et al. “Forced choices reveal a trade-off between cognitive effort and physical pain.” eLife: Neurosciences. November 17, 2020. doi: 10.7554/eLife.59410

Of course, it’s a little more complicated than outlined in this abstract.