December 13, 2005

This is a pretty excellent resource on the subject of gender-neutral pronouns. Check it out if you care.


anarchy means i’m bitter

December 13, 2005

I try not to merge disparate parts of the internet, such as the message board I often inhabit and my blog, but sometimes it’s called for. Some thoughts brought on by this discussion of gender-neutral pronouns:

Linguistic debates seem to curry a great deal of passion in people in every which direction. It seems a bit odd, as linguistics isn’t something that a whole lot of people are all that interested in, but at the same time there are two factors that make it fairly sensible that this is the case: First, language is something we all use every day, and second, most of the debates revolve around presciptive grammar, which can be viewed as a set of “rules,” which is always a touchy subject in libertarian America and in often-left-libertarian “punk” circles.

The overarching point to all of these discussions about language and the treatment of people in minority groups and people in privileged groups, to me, is that regardless of where you stand on the subject of being governed, there will always be a set of standards by which people abide in order to cohabitate on Earth.

I personally am, in philosophy at least, an anarchist1, because I don’t believe in the theoretical right of the state to destroy (or injure) life, and that’s where the state ultimately derives its power. What that doesn’t mean is that I’d advocate a free-for-all society in which everyone looks out for number one, vis-a-vis Ayn Rand or some similar kook. I don’t see every guideline and standard as necessarily an extension of the state/the patriarchy/the hegemony’s power. Sure, many/most of them are right now, but that doesn’t mean they have to be or always will be.

So, when someone suggests a way to change the guidelines by which we live — linguistic guidelines, for example — to better accommodate a more liberatory philosophy, we shouldn’t automatically discount it because it’s a change in the “rules” instead of an abolition of them. I’m not supporting state solutions here, just grassroots efforts to deal with problems we’ve been handed.

So, when I support efforts (at least in theory; I think most thus far have been a bit clunky) to institute the use of gender-neutral pronouns, or when I suggest that we be more sensitive about race and gender and class in our language, I’m not doing it for the sake of being “politically correct”2, or for fear of “offending” certain groups. That’s not the point at all. The point is that language structures our thoughts (to a great extent, if not completely), and in order to be completely and thoroughly free of racial/gender/sexual prejudices (which I wouldn’t claim to be), one would have to make a very deliberate effort to purge one’s linguistic habits of latent prejudice.

And until the structures we speak/write within accommodate those sorts of efforts, we can’t even begin to pull it off, right?

Not to beat it into the ground, but I think once again we can draw an analogy with Monderman: Monderman’s traffic design works because, lacking hard-and-fast rules, drivers create conventions in an effort to watch out for themselves and one another. Even lacking a governing structure, linguistic guidelines would prevail, and they would (I think) be even more respectful of the different types of people involved because of their grassroots, non-authoritarian, nature.

1. Prod me if I don’t get back to this in another post soon.
2. I recoil at the use of this term not only because it was demonized, but because I don’t think it was ever correct or adequate in the first place.

let this weekend end.

December 11, 2005

So yesterday there was a water main break outside Roboto that ruined a whole lot of the stuff at the practice space (some of my drums are salvageable, but basically everyone’s cabinets are done for, and some of the heads, including Jo’s Music Man). I’m really least concerned about my own stuff, as I was planning on getting a new kit anyway (although I’m not sure if I was ready to do that, financially speaking, quite YET . . .), but the other bands that practice in the space sustained some major damage, and I feel for Tim Williams, whose LEGENDARY AUS ROTTEN HUMAN INVESTMENT DRUM KIT was sloshed, after 16 years of service.

No shows for us for a while!

Also, it snowed a lot today, which was pretty, except when everything froze over and I had already convinced my dear mother to drive me home from her house and we nearly died. But at least I have food in my body now. That’s all there is. Warm and cozy, praying for sleep.

when? NOW!

December 9, 2005

While I’m thinking of things that I love, I’d like to bring to your attention, in case you are not already familiar, Dr. Jack Van Impe. This man is a walking Bible, quoting chapter and verse with reckless abandon but at the same time stunning precision.

The thing that sets Jack apart from other televangelists, though, is not his rapidfire Bible quotation, nor his partner-in-prosyletization/wife Rexella, but his bizarre throwback-to-the-Cold War mentality regarding the interpretation of scripture. He’s forward-thinking in some ways — he isn’t particularly tough on people of other religions, for example (even Muslims!). And, despite (clearly) being Protestant, he often expresses being a fan of the Pope. His hangup is . . . Russia and China! And . . . THE EUROPEAN UNION (see Final World Government When? NOW!)!

In a time when, according to most, the enemy is stalking among us and our own sin could be the undoing of us, it’s refreshing to see a fundamentalist crazy on TV talking about the outside enemies — the big empires that are out to destroy. This guy’s not folding to current trends in religious rhetoric. He’s all about what the Good Book says. I respect a man who stays on message.

Watch an episode online if you can, or check the phenomenon out on Cornerstone TV (Channel 40) in Pittsburgh Saturday night or Sunday morning.

letting it lay

December 9, 2005

As I played drums for only the second time in months last night, the snow happened. Things outside became quiet and heavy, just as I like them. We made it home alive, and, after a lengthy phone talk with the mother, I settled down with soup and Satie (Gymnopedies I absolutely melts me). Things could be much worse.

Also of note: today I went to Veracruz (the little Mexican joint in Oakland) for the first time in several weeks and was greeted there by a massive Christmas tree on the counter, under which resides a full nativity scene in miniature, including a bicycle made of foil and plastic lids leaned against the stable and a turkey the size of Melchoir. I recommend a visit to see it for yourself if you haven’t yet — just for the sights if nothing else.

mix and mingle

December 8, 2005

I began preparations last night for my mixtape for the mixtape potluck, but I supposed I shouldn’t let any cats out of any theoretical bags, for fear that the person who ends up with my tape will have read this and therefore the element of surprise will be ruined. So let’s just say that there’s some doom and there’s some Dan.

Was a time when I thought anything less than a 90-minute mixtape was cheating, but lately I’ve come of age and realized that quantity is not always (not usually?) (not ever?) paramount. There’s nearly always a point in that 90-minute mixing session which is really like three hours at which you just blank. It’s usually about 25 minutes into the B side. You know where it’s going to end but not how to get there. So you reach for some ridiculous long song that doesn’t really fit but will eat up some time before that AWESOME CLOSING TRACK. And it usually ends up okayyyy, but not GREAT. So I’m working with the 60-minute format for this one, in hopes that the whole thing will RULE. HARD.

Also, someone e-mail me a prompt for my next post. I’m full of opinions but low on motivation to go the next step with any of them. If there’s something on your mind right now, I’d be really happy to engage in a conversation with you.

I’ve been (hardly) working on writing something about crowded buses, but since that’s going nowhere, a quick couple things to voice some concern over:

Out there in the great beyond: they’re gearing up to put Tookie Williams to death. Read the article to get a little information about the case — he founded the Crips, was convicted of murdering four people with a shotgun, has worked to end gang violence, was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, and now Governor Schwarzenegger is going to put him down. I’m not (right now) going to thoroughly explore my stance on capital punishment, other than to say that ultimately, race, good behavior, and any other issue that might be brought up pales in comparison to the simple fact that we shouldn’t be perpetrating this absolutely appaling practice.

There is an online petition here if you’re into that sort of thing (I signed, although I don’t know how effective they are) and there’s also a link to e-mail the Governor’s office on that page, if you like that method.

Closer to home: there is a bill being brought to the table tomorrow in City Council to ensure unimpeded entry to health care facilities. Basically this bill would make it illegal for abortion clinic protestors to come within 15 feet of the clinic doors. Regardless of your stance on abortion, I think most of us can agree that we’d rather not F up the minds of the women who are in most cases already F-ed up about the fact that they’re having the procedure in the first place. Call or email your city council people and as them to support it. Bill Peduto and Doug Shields are sponsoring, so thank them. Twanda Carlisle is straddling the fence apparently, so give her your support.