ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I loved this article about the ongoing evolution of regalia at powwows.  

As much as I love the traditional materials, I understand that novelty is a crucial indicator of cultural survival.  If people are only copying the past, then the culture is stagnant.  Tribal spirit depends on each individual finding their own dreamvision.  So if a person's regalia is exuberant and unique -- if they're incorporating current resources into their outfit -- then it's a healthy sign of a living, growing culture.  Then when you see the traditional work, it's about the challenge of keeping the old ways alive, taking a consistent set of materials and learning what you can do with those.  Innovation there looks a bit different.  And then there's fusion, where you might see someone making motherboard lines in quillwork and beads. 

Hints of this show up in my writing occasionally.  The Iron Horses are a superpowered, intertribal, motorcycle gang over in Polychrome Heroics.  Their uniforms are a cross between regalia and biker leathers.  That was inspired by something I've seen a lot of tribal folks doing, where they'll take their cultural background and look for a way to merge it with whatever their contemporary interests are.  It's not something that only exists in the past.  Native culture is still here, and it interacts with the mainstream, sometimes in breathtaking ways.

And you can see it in my aesthetic tastes: my favorite dances include men's traditional, men's fancy dance, jingle dress, and hoop.  A pretty even mix of classes that are straight historic and ones that have the most modern influence.  *ponder*  Though after having recently seen a white girl in a circus who did a brilliant hula routine with holographic hoops, I have to say I would really like to see what a native dancer could do with a set of blinged-up hoops.  Because fusion is awesome.  Traditional is awesome.  Modern is awesome.  Dance ALL the things!
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
This article is really about why most people don't remember being babies

It doesn't mention the fact that some people DO remember.  But the logical explanation connects to at least one reason for remembering: those of us who come into this life with some memories already in place.  Think of it as a scaffold.  If you already have some memories, then you press that template into the barely-formed brain of your new body.  This makes it easier to attach new memories immediately.  The physical plasticity means you'll probably still lose some stuff, but you are way ahead of people who have to start from scratch.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
It turns out that people arrived in the Amazon basin before it was a rainforest.  Well that's new. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
[personal profile] dialecticdreamer tipped me to this fascinating article about Naia, the oldest paleoamerican skeleton found. 
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
I was amused by this post about marriage equality in Kentucky, link courtesy of my partner Doug. What caught my attention was this bit:

The case against Gay Marriage was not made by the state's Attorney General, by the way. He refused to go in and defend the law so the Governor hired an outside law firm to argue that position. That was sure money well-spent.

Whatever your job is, you never know when it will give you an opportunity to showcase your morals on a public stage.  Sometimes, the best way to do your job is politely declining to do your job.  Justice can be refraining from perpetrating injustice.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Well, this is irritating.  Gittip is a platform that enables small weekly payments, explicitly aimed at helping people pay bills because bills are regular and thus benefit from regular income.  Trouble is, the folks behind the platform are unsupportive in ways that make it hostile to women and minorities.  *headdesk*
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 [personal profile] dialecticdreamer has posted a thoughtful essay about gender in Vancouver as people try to provide alternatives to the boy/girl division.

The gender-neutral pronoun issue is not new; dozens of sets have been proposed, and I've even seen that one before.  The fact that none of these have caught on indicates that a majority of English speakers currently dislike them.  The fact that it keeps coming up is proof that some people really, really want or need them.

I'm especially happy about gender-neutral bathrooms though.  You should not have to advertise your sex/gender every time you need to use the can.  That gets people hurt, and sometimes killed.  A gender-neutral bathroom is not only safer for altsex folks, it's a terrific overflow when one or the other gendered bathroom is full or if someone needs to assist a party of the opposite sex/gender (parent and child, attendant and handicapped person, etc.).
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
The fight isn't over yet, but the Redskins trademark has been cancelled as racially offensive.  Link courtesy of my partner Doug.
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
Casey Kasem has passed away.  I knew him as the voice of Shaggy in Scooby-Doo,  Robin in Super Friends,  and Mark in Battle of the Planets.  For a lot of us, he was an iconic voice of childhood and will be deeply missed.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
For the first time, a computer has passed the Turing Test.  While this does not constitute artificial intelligence per se, it is a step in that direction.  As a society, we need to think about the ethical implications.  Given that America is currently busy fucking over human beings for a lot of trumped up reasons, I am not hopeful that AIs will be treated any better.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Someone has proposed a learning disability for foreign languages.  

Actually, humans are born with their language window wide open.  It begins to close in early childhood.  At the onset of puberty, most people find learning a new language to be challenging.  By adulthood, almost everyone finds it difficult and it is downright impossible for many.  This is NORMAL.  Some people have a gift for languages and their window does not close.  Yay!  I'm one of them.  It makes me weird.  It doesn't make you mentally handicapped if you can't do it.  

If you want people to learn multiple languages fluently, all you have to do is raise them that way from the beginning, like civilized nations do.  America introduces foreign languages late so people will NOT be able to learn them well; that's not an accident, not a learning disability, it is linguistic imperialism.  Waiting until people are too old to learn a skill well, and then tormenting them for doing it poorly, is just sadistic.

The stupid, it burns like hydrogen. 

EDIT: People with learning disabilities may have issues which affect their native language and then make foreign languages much more difficult.  One of my readers thoughtfully linked this article about teaching foreign languages to LD students.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 A Wisconsin judge slammed homophobic arguments while striking down marriage discrimination.  I'm amused to see her making some of the same points I have.  Thanks to my partner Doug for the link.
ysabetwordsmith: (moment of silence)
Famous poet Maya Angelou has passed away

Sometimes I write elegies for people.  In this case, what I'm mourning is the loss of a black female poet.  Has anyone seen poetic tributes to her by other black poets?  That seems like the most fitting memorial in this case.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
Many things are chalked up to prejudice or poor decision-making that aren't necessarily so.  This study indicates that mental work takes energy, which can be depleted; and when it's depleted, people tend to choose the default option because it's easier.  There may be prejudice in the nature of the defaults, but it doesn't necessarily belong to that person; such things are readily absorbed from the environment.
ysabetwordsmith: Cartoon of me in Wordsmith persona (Default)
 Know your rights: If you are serving on a jury, and you believe the law is unjust, then you can choose to release the defendant regardless of the evidence.  The justice system works very hard to prevent people from knowing this.  Spread the word, because it's a vital part of producing actual justice.

Conversely, if you need to get out of jury duty, tell them that you know about jury nullification and plan to inform all the other summoned jurors.  People are routinely kicked out of courthouses for talking about it.

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