Saturday, March 08, 2014

Other stuff to read about what I'm thinking about.

What I Think About When I Think About Monsters:

I watched "Monsters" on Netflix last night, and it was a good, enjoyable movie. Here's the stuff it made me think about.

What's The Message, Here?

Did you ever get the feeling that a movie, or book, or whatever, is trying to make a point but you just don't get what that point is?



Things I Think Are True About North Dakota. (Infinite Monkeys)

Things I Think Are True About North Dakota.

North Dakota was the 31st state, probably.  It has two senators in the U.S. Senate, almost certainly. It is located North of every other Dakota in the world, hence the name. If you tried to drive across North Dakota without stopping it would take you five hours but you wouldn’t get to stop at Wall Drug, which is not in North Dakota, now that I think about it.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Anne O'Leary thinks I'm dumb and offensive. But I'll prove her!

All because I chose a leprechaun, a pot of gold, and some sci-fi-y stuff for the first-ever issue of Indie Writers Monthly, the magazine I edit and contribute to.

This is the cover:

Commenting on Andrew Leon's "Strange Pegs" blog, Anne says:

"The Luck of the Irish" means bad luck, not good luck. Whoever came up with that title needs to take a history lesson. Also, that cover is paddywhackery and is highly offensive.

COMMENCE THE HISTORY LESSON, and verily we shall see who is dumb.

The phrase "Luck of the Irish" is not of Irish origin at all.  While it means "good fortune" or "extreme good fortune" it first came into vogue during the second half of the 19th century, the gold and silver rush years, when Irish and Irish-Americans (of which I am one; my great-grandma's name was McDermott) were
successful at mining, leading to the expression. (Source.)

Most sites that claim multiple meanings or cite to the version Anne is apparently familiar with have no sourcing (this one, for example, is pretty vague on where the author gets info from) My source, on the other hand, is the author of a book on Irish-American history and a professor at Holy Cross, so: right-er than unsourced vague claims.

David J.J. Lynch, a reporter for Bloomberg and the USA Today used the phrase to mean good luck in his book titled When The Luck Of The Irish Ran Out: The World's Most Resilient Country and Its Struggle To Rise Again. He has a master's degree in international relations and probably (I'm guessing) wouldn't want to start an international incident by misusing the phrase "luck of the Irish" in a way contrary to its meaning.

So what about "paddywhackery?" What is it?

Well, when it's not a TV show airing from 2007 to the present in Ireland, it generally means (according to Urban Dictionary) use of stereotypical elements of Ireland to make something seem Irish.  This is a bad thing, or offensive? If I use the Kremlin and wool hats to show Russians, is that Tolstoywhackery or whatever? What if I have Americans in ill-fitting jean shorts with fanny packs talking loudly? Is that UncleSammification?

Using a leprechaun on a March issue of a magazine is not just more or less acceptable, but wasn't my first choice.  The original cover was going to have a freaky-looking kitten that is a good luck charm in Japan,  but I decided that didn't fit with the theme.  So I searched for Irish symbols of good luck and kept coming up with leprechauns and 4-leaf clovers, over and over.  Is it my fault if the Irish only have two good luck symbols?

But real paddwhackery, as opposed to using leprechauns on a March issue of a magazine, is using racial stereotypes to pigeonhole the Irish and hold it against them.  (Source.) That site notes that

It is hard to say whether there is any harm in all of this, as the great majority of [examples] are electing to be Irish out of genuine affection for the culture.

But ANNE says there's harm in it because Anne was offended, without knowing who made the cover or why they made the cover.  She just assumed it was meant to be offensive, without any provocation. (One could, in fact, assume that the leprechaun on the cover was a SCIENTIST, since he is working with a plasma ball rather than magic, but ANNE apparently assumes that leprechauns cannot be scientists. I  make no such assumption, and I NEVER pre-judge magical tiny people.  I treat them as individuals.)

What is REALLY offensive is small-minded people jumping to conclusions and slamming someone without knowing ANYTHING AT ALL.

Note that I didn't say "Anything at all about the author." I chose my words carefully.

Sunday, March 02, 2014

So the Madison Public Library one day had some information on how to do origami... (A Photo Essay)

And it turns out that origami is VERY hard to learn, except for "butterfly," which is super-easy, easy enough that you can make a LOT of them while you follow Mr F around and check in on Mr Bunches and in-between doing puzzles and reading books, and then you can go up to the top level and do some ART with them: