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Epistulae Ciceronis
A Perfectly Squiffy Jag

Recent Entries

16.03.05 Wednesday
07:01 pm - Pricing Discrimination
An Ontario, Canada legislator is proposing a bill that would make "gender pricing" (e.g., different prices for men and women's haircuts or clothes) a human rights violation and a fineable offense. [Source].

What do you think about this?

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06.03.05 Sunday
05:28 pm - Pro-Life Democrats
As most people are aware, Howard Dean is now the chairman of the Democratic National Committee (DNC). In this role, he is enjoying newsworthy popularity and celebrity, as seen in his Mississippi rally (a state Democrats don't normally even bother campaigning in anymore given a 25 year loyalty to the Republican party). More...Collapse )

Given this, it is interesting that in the aforementioned rally in Mississippi, Dean embraced "pro-life democrats" with open arms, suggesting a policy counter to the praise and criticism summarized above. Instead of pushing the party to the left and distinguishing it from the Republicans, he's further expanding its position as an ideologically ambiguous and moderate party. Through this leadership, he seems to be having an impact on the undecided count as well as many traditional Republicans (as seen in Mississippi).

In doing so, though, is he isolating his traditional base? I know many of you are quite fond of Howard Dean and also very adamantly pro-choice. Are you willing, as Howard Dean has, to embrace pro-life Democrats?

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08:39 am - Sexism in America
herbaliser recently referenced "The Great Stop Fucking Him Post" in her journal, which is cmpriest's response to the article Abortion foes shun Democrats' proposal to reduce pregnancies (from The Seattle Times).

Naturally, I had an opinion on this.

What do you think? Do men want women to have babies?

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30.01.05 Sunday
07:00 pm - From my cultural anthropology text...
"It is common for outside forces and the internal cultural exchange they promote to increase social disorganization within a group and lead to conservative political and religious movements" (Conformity and Conflict, p161).

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25.11.04 Thursday
09:32 am - Jeremy's Virtual Abortion Tour
A couple weeks ago a close friend asked me to accompany her for an abortion, in absence of the father. In addition to providing support for my friend, this offered a fascinating glimpse at the tactical reality of a cultural battle's front line.
Oh, and yes: my friend is doing quite fine although her body is still adjusting.

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06.11.04 Saturday
08:11 pm - Women: 01, Men: 00
I just shaved my legs and let me be the first to say: on the debate between who has it worst when it comes to body hair management, women win hands down.

(But I'm so soft!)

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03:10 pm - What Jeremy Believes
I've been challenged for the fact that I sit back on my high horse and criticize the opinions of those who are brave enough to state their beliefs publicly and yet I rarely state my own.

This is primarily because I do not identify myself by my beliefs and I think that opinions are largely subjective, conditional to experience and otherwise transitory; I do not believe that my views are inherently right or the best option for other people.

Nonetheless, by request, my personal views on a number of popular issues... These responses were mostly plagiarized from emails and comments; as such likely longer than anyone really cares to read. However, for those of you curious as to my personal opinions or anxious for an opportunity to criticize them, here’s your chance ;-).

Now, that said, I’ll probably refrain from sharing my opinion for a while because I could (generally) care less about what people think about these beliefs and I find it tiring to articulate and discuss them.

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05.11.04 Friday
08:03 pm - Just clarifying...
So it's alright for someone to push their beliefs onto someone else (or otherwise judge or attempt to change them) as long as you agree with their values, right? Rad; that makes so much more sense!

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14.10.04 Thursday
08:17 pm - A society of island universes...
"We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies--all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes."

- Aldous Huxley, Doors of Perception (thanks to llarian for looking this up!)

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08.10.04 Friday
01:16 pm - The new cultural dogma
It is tradition for the church to reject, deny or challenge scientific evidence that threatens its social control or fundamental assumptions. In the dwindling popularity of organized religion in urban environments, political correctness is the new cultural dogma. We (as a society) only accept science that promotes our ideological fantasies of humanity.

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26.08.04 Thursday
03:00 am - Blondes have more fun?
The other day, a female friend (identity undisclosed to protect the innocent) observed that when she had her hair died blonde she received more positive sexual attention but was taken less seriously. Conversely, when her hair was brown she received equal amounts of sexual attention but it was creepier (obsessive, clingy, etc).

I realized that this supports, largely, the stereotype that blondes are more fun (and thus it's safer to be sexually forward with them) and brunettes are more serious, nurturing and intelligent (and thus, perhaps, more intimidating romantically and sexually).

Now, if this relationship does exist, I'd propose that it is mostly conditioned, although it could also be genetic (I just tend to blame nurture over nature by default). It makes sense, though: if someone is expected to act a certain way based on their appearance they will likely find themselves reactively catering to that mold. Regardless of the source, though, I think it's an interesting generality. Since I have very limited experience with blonde women, however, I'm soliciting your experiences.

Poll #341260 What do you think?

Blonde girls only: Do you get a lot of attention but aren't taken very seriously?

Yes, the stereotype is true
No, no more than any other woman
N/A, I'm not and never have been a blonde female.

Non-Blonde Girls: Do you get unwanted ("creepy") attention more than positive attention?

Yes, the stereotype is true
No, no more than any other woman
N/A, I'm not and never have been a non-blonde female

Men: Are these stereotypes consistent with your experience?

Yes, blondes tend to be more fun and brunettes more serious/brainy
No, that's a ridiculous stereotype; there is no general trend between hair color and personality
N/A, I've never had a penis

Any women want to die their hair as an unscientific social experiment? Also does anyone know when it was that the stereotype of blondes as fun/dumb originated? I'm thinking it was a 1940s pinup girl / Marylin Monroe association. I do know that before the 20th century, blondes were considered more innocent and pure, a stereotype I think we still may apply to young girls as a whole.

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10.08.04 Tuesday
06:42 pm - University and forty-fifth
University and Forty-FifthBy her manicured appearance I'd guess her to be a freshman. She's wearing a mid-length red skirt and a tight black blouse. A careful haircut and a deliberate stroll. She's carrying an open laptop in her arms which holds her attention. She's standing in the middle of the street. And has been for the last two hours, between lights. People and cars push past her, barely acknowledging anything beyond an obstacle. Different planes.

Each of these people has their own story. Their own destination, personality, style, purpose. I want to tell you about all of them, without judgment or assumption. I want to tell you about the black man leaning against the wall wearing a Union army hat. I want to tell you about the girl wearing the short white skirt and the pink underwear. I want to tell you about the old bearded man to my right who has been talking to (himself? me? no one?) for the last hour about technology, artificial reality and how it defines our lives.

As each person walks by I look them in the eye and smile. It's easy to smile at strangers; they're just figments of reality, unconnected and unaware. She smiles back. He meets my eyes then turns away quickly. This one scowls at me; it's a social taboo in Seattle to acknowledge others, a violation of their personal autonomy. A girl walks by who talked to me online a few weeks ago; she doesn't recognize me. Why would she? Different planes.

I want to talk to these people. Just for five seconds. That’s enough time. In fives seconds you know the relevance of someone. Eyes meet, identities are exchanged via the encoded subtleties of body language; in the background our intuition cross-references a shared consciousness to evaluate the social benefit of our exchange; results are delivered via direct chemical acknowledgement. Votes are cast, fates plotted. A “good day” and parting of ways.

Transient relationships. Different planes.

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07.12.03 Sunday
03:00 pm - Multitasking vs. ADD
abumponthehead recently wrote "I multi-task with the best... you could also call it ADD if you want."

I thought this tied in well with my recent post regarding cultural values vs. psychological disorders but more importantly it raised the following thought: If you agree with this proposition (I do) then what we're seeing in our schools today is the educational establishment fighting a necessary cultural evolution with Ritalin.

In some ways this is like how homosexuals were medicated for their "disease" in the last century before the culture had caught up to accept such social change.

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06.12.03 Saturday
01:55 pm - Cultural Phenomenon vs. Psychological Disorder...
If a psychological disorder is prescribed by an underlying cultural value at what point, if any, do we acknowledge it as "normal"? (e.g., ADHD). Likewise, if such a disorder maps to human nature at what point do we acknowledge it as instinct? In other words, how relative are psychological standards to social and genetic baselines vs. objective ideals of "healthy" behavior?

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12.11.03 Wednesday
01:17 pm - Definition of Cheating?
A New Hampshire court recently ruled that it is not adultery if a women is sexually involved with another women (Seattle PI article). While this is probably a completely valid interpretation of the law (which is all a judge is supposed to do) I strongly disagree with the underlying principal. While admittedly the definition of adultery and cheating do not necessarily have to coincide (one being a legal definition and the other being a personal expectation), I think that that there are some pretty objective definitions that could qualify what most people would consider physical indiscretion. Of course, I do admire the court's concern over broad definitions; if your spouse has "cybersex" (I hate that term), is that cheating? If so, what if they view pornography (of other people)?

What do you think? How do you define cheating?

On a somewhat related note, why women cheat (according to the authoritative staff at MSN).

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27.10.03 Monday
10:40 am - Relationships and Marriage
I started to write a typically long rant about relationships and marriage. Talking points included the decay of traditional social structures (community, family, gender roles, career models, etc), the acceptance of diverse individual interests (sexual, political, religious, social) and the soaring divorce rates. Speculation focused on the myriad of variables involved in not only establishing but more importantly maintaining a relationship and how our social evolution seems to have undermined the stability which once supported our romantic unions. Instead of ranting on this, though, I'd like to simply pose a question to everyone:
    Is the traditional ideal of the lifelong monogamous relationship obsolete? If so, what is its replacement? Ideally? Realistically?
I don't have any preconceived goal or point in this discussion, just an invite for an open forum. Personally, I find my romantic ideals conflicted by practical experience and knowledge of people, but have drawn no firm conclusions. What do you think?

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11.10.03 Saturday
02:23 pm - American Victimn Mentality
I just started to write this really lengthy post about how people's inability to accept personal accountability for their actions leads them to compensate with external scapegoats that neglect to solve the core problem and, in fact, often inflame the situation.

To illustrate this I referenced examples including Western medicine (with an emphasis on dehydration and the diuretics we use to cover up its symptoms, such as fatigue, depression, weight and long-term damage such as cancer) and corporate organizational structures (citing the crippling change in Microsoft's management theory after lawsuits shattered the company's admirable marriage of individual accountability, responsibility and authority through a trickle-up justice system). I further noted how these trends permeated most individual and organization structures and could be seen in school, social groups, family, etc and really ultimately came from the individual contribution of a victim mentality on the basis of each member of our society.

And then I realized that I had, in essence, not proposed anything new but had basically rehashed the classic victim mentality theory that so many people before me have observed. The fact that we cannot take personal accountability but must abstract out blame and thus never truly grow as individuals. So instead of including my rant I just paraphrased it for this post as some means of avoiding a sense that my effort at documenting this realization was in vain.

Nonetheless, trite or not, it baffles me that we have such a cultural aversion to failure (or, perhaps, more at the root: with punishment as a means of justice) and I fear what the long-term impacts of that will be as we attempt to scale a system that is based on the organic learning of trial and error through individual efforts (as core to both democracy as well as capitalism) in a cultural setting of witch hunts and scapegoats.

We like to blame The Man for all of the bureacracy but really we generate it. As long as we fail to put our egos aside, acknowledge personal accountability and grow as individuals our society will continue to lack an overall maturity and will likewise be caught up in the petty mob mentality that diverts progress.

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06.10.03 Monday
10:42 am - Affirmative Action + Discrimination Suits
In response to a post by mrmcgrath regarding reverse discrimination:

A rant about Affirmative ActionCollapse )

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18.08.03 Monday
01:20 pm - Texas, don't mess with me...
This has been going on for a while, but I just took notice. Apparently a clerk at a comic book shop in Texas was sentenced to six months jail time for selling an offensive comic to an adult police officer on the grounds that comics are traditionally targeted towards children and thus this was innapropriate content to be sold at such a store. It should be noted that the comic was in a special adult section in the back of the store and that both the section and the comic were clearly labeled as being adult-oriented I could make a number of rants based on this and it's parallels in other venues (including game, movie and music stores), but I'm certain that I'd be preaching to the choir. MetaFilter Rant w/ Links and Comments. The cover of the comic, Demon Beast Invasion.

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05.08.03 Tuesday
02:20 pm - Nutritional Retailer Prescribes Political Ideology
Michelle forwarded me an e-mail last night from GNC. It begins with...
    Exaggerated press reports about the effects of ephedra have led some legislators to propose extreme solutions that would all but eliminate the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and education Act (DSHEA) and allow, if not encourage, the FDA to regulate supplements like pharmaceuticals. This means you could lose access to many of the supplements that you take regularly such as Multivitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, etc.
[A similar message is posted to, with links to the supposed watchdog group, National Nutritional Foods Association].

What angers me about this is that I've heard report after report (mostly on NPR) from FDA scientists, third party experts, alternative health practitioners, etc citing the case with ephedrine specifically as an example of why we need to strengthen the FDA's authority because currently they are being strong-armed by pharmaceutical companies to release drugs that are not ready for the market. Further, to emphasize this current point, I was prescribed ephedrine based products in response to allergies and exhibit many of the same (permanent) symptoms that many industry experts are suggestion the drug may trigger (such as severe fluctuations in heart rate).

I also heard (also on NPR) recordings of congressmen (in different parties) discussing the proposed legislation against ephedrine and the impact such a move would have on them in lost financial contributions. The senators (who were taped at a public function) discussed means of derailing a plan being proposed by McCain (as well as a democrat) to better regulate the pharmaceutical companies via stricter FDA regulation. The conversation was a horrifying confirmation of almost every fear I have about our government.

I'm not a big fan of government regulation, but that comes from a general fear of providing authority over my life to any organization which may come to represent interests outside my own. The current system gives that authority to pharmaceutical companies, and the case with ephedrine is just another example of the need for a checks and balance. It makes it especially difficult for the consumer to be aware when allegedly third party resellers/experts (such as GNC, who sent out this alert) are in the pharmaceuticals pocket (think: what is GNC's interest? Is it your health? Or is it selling supplements?).

My Opinion: Write your congress person in support of this initiative. Stop taking ephedrine based products (such as Sudafed). And boycott GNC in reaction to them being the corporate [enterprise/tool] that they are.

What’s particularly disturbing about GNC's campaign is that this will probably invite thousands of protests and letters from American’s that think that being informed means reading a SPAM message from GNC or listening to FOX news.

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10:18 am - "God Hates Fags"
There was more on the news this morning as opponents to the confirmation of the openly gay Reverend Gene Robinson raised allegations of misconduct suggesting that he "inappropriately touched a man and that he is connected to a group whose Web site can indirectly link users to pornography" (Associated Press).

In contradiction to my previous idealistic (and fundamentalist) rant about Christian hypocrisy, I really hope he is able to push through this confirmation (as was expected). Even though I find it personally baffling that someone as well spoken, compassionate and seemingly intelligent as Gene Robinson would wrap their faith up in any large Christian organization, I also acknowledge on a practical level that right or wrong the church commands leadership over a large portion of our society and while I'd rather see people think for themselves, I think it's admirable that he accepts the place of the church and seeks to influence the culture and mindset of both the organization and its practitioners from within its leadership ranks. Far more mature, really, than my impractical radicalism that promotes fundamentalism as a means of disempowering the cultural acceptance of such organizations.

Really, though, when it comes down to it we're just a cold, bitter and closed-minded people.

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10:13 am - Pray for the Apocolypse
I was listening to NPR this morning (my endless source for journal posts) and they reported that there are an estimated 300,000 underage/teenage prostitutes in the United States right now.

When we look at the problem of poverty and homelessness it seems like we often forget to assess the people who may have escaped those conditions but only through desperate sacrifices of personal values, social ethics or self-respect. Of course, I guess that topic better addresses businessmen and politicians than teenage prostitutes; while the selfish failures of social duty have rewarded the white collar community the desperate sacrifices of the poor are often rewarded only with a cycle of predictability that is not only maintained over a lifetime but also across generations.

For all of my idealistic whining and ranting it seems like most of my ideas for how to fix the world revolve around issues of personal freedom, individual responsibility and self-accountability; high-minded utopian theories which cater to the intellectual and creative freedoms that are only worried about by those whose basic life needs are met. Conversely the current system focuses its efforts on preventing people from smoking pot, driving too fast or somehow managing to make an error when filling out their 20 page IRS documents; busy work that keeps the masses occupied and simplifies the application of political theory to minimalist administration while exercising authority over every aspect of American life except for social welfare. Neither of these approaches solve the cultural issues that provide for things like teenage prostitution, sexual abuse of children or other systemic cultural parasites which plague generation after generation.

There really must be a better way. I can't accept that an estimated 25% of woman in King County will be raped or sexually abused at least once in their lifetime (another NPR stat, although I can't confirm this). I can't accept the ongoing lack of maturity with which our culture "deals" with sexual issues and the impact that has on our overall lifestyle and social constructs. I find it appalling the amount of time, money, talent and energy we dedicate to building economic infrastructure, reinforcing consumerism and fitting individuals into easily processed/manageable "resources"... while the underlying moral, ethical and cultural fabric of the society unravels.

And by “we”, I include myself. It's all pretty much fucked.

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17.07.03 Thursday
10:31 am - Conditional Piety
My rant about being true to one's faith on pinkocommie's journal reminded me of the topic of homosexuality and the church. This is where I get to be politically incorrect for a few minutes, so bear with me.

It bothers me that so many churches are accepting/embracing homosexuality. If you've read the bible, you know that it considers sodomy an unforgivable sin. You'll also have noticed a strong trend against "sexual immoralities" (which include the spilling of semen or having sex for any purpose outside of procreation). I don't understand what the value of their book is if they use it to justify their actions while, again, selectively/conditionally ignoring other beliefs.

Now, this doesn't mean that I support the message. Hardly. I think our culture is moving along fine without the blessing of the church. The church recognizes, however, that by polarizing the moral yardstick in contradiction of shifting cultural values that they will alienate their audience. As such, the church has bent not out of respect for their faith but out of greed for an audience; they know, as much as any corporation or marketing suit, that their power is derived not from God but from the blind masses that buy into their propoganda.

To me, this discrepency (not to mention any number of other moral contradictions starting with the crusades and ending w/ the widespread acceptance of sex as entertainment -- <gasp!>) undermines the basis of the church and makes them irrelevent. And this wouldn't be bad except that it's been engineered with enough understanding of the sheep that follow the church that it maintains their stronghold on the masses (at least as much as can be expected in our culture) as opposed to allowing a cultural rejection of outdated values.

[As a note, one of the reasons I rejected my parent's faith initially was due to value conflicts with the teaching of the bible, primarily pertaining to issues of sex such as sodomy and aforementioned "sexual immoralities". The fact that I didn't believe it was secondary to the value conflict. As such, I am particularly sensitive to the hypocracy of people who maintain their "faith" while bending its alleged values to suit their selfish interests. I'm all for defining your own morality, but don't confuse that with religious conviction... instead explore a philosophy such as Bhuddism that allows you to define your own path based on your individual purpose in life]

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15.07.03 Tuesday
11:26 am - Redefining Evil
Upon sentencing, a judge in Syracuse, NY, issued this condemnation:
    You are a sick coward. You are an evil man. You are a kidnapper and rapist, a master manipulator of people and the truth, but your reign of terror is over
This was in response to John Jamelske's guilty plea over "kidnapping five women and girls and holding them as sex slaves between 1988 and 2003 in a concrete bunker he built 3 feet underground". Full Story.

The cruelty that we, as humans, are capable of is simply appalling. I don't even know how to begin responding to this.
Current Mood: [mood icon] depressed

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08.06.03 Sunday
09:15 pm - Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy
[For those of you who I didn't send this to in email].

Last week’s Alternative Radio (NPR) features a speech by Arundhati Roy, entitled “Instant-Mix Imperial Democracy. Buy One Get One Free.”

It was a really good speech (in my opinion) and did a great job outlining a lot of facts regarding our current political condition. I recommend listening to the audio edition, although the transcript is provided as well.

Current Mood: [mood icon] pensive

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