Thursday, February 26, 2009

You readers of N.S. may not know that I Badger am in a loving, romantic relationship. May you have the blessed pleasure of meeting her, my dear Naomi Larsson. I could see myself with this woman for ??,???, if fantasizing about distant futures was what I did for fun. In the meantime, here is an image. We are going to PowerShift and I can't wait to see her! Do not despair radixals, we will be planting trees in the spring and realize the self-defeating underefficacy that student activists working through the American political system so often implies. 10,000 youth getting psyched about a green economy is good vibes, though, will be interesting to observe and the Roots are playing! I anticipate standing up in the forums and sounding the call for increased leisure in our *new* economy. I had an ANXIETY attack with all my workload at school today. Minor anxiety. Got over it, took a nap. Leisure must be defended in this talk of helping poor people out of poverty with green jobs. Can you imagine working on the line at a fucking recycling plant?

The ground this time of year opens up to be filled, really it does. How else do you explain frost heave?! Well, here's another way that works but seeing this curious phenomena does get me excited, seeing the lawns erupting in boils that beg for innoculation with more lively seed.

Also, the pink lady slipper looks very much like a *coochie*. Just saying, and pretty much it serves a similar purpose in biological reproduction. Men, never mistake your semen for *seeds*... it's pollen if its anything. There's a fabled ginseng patch/PLS patch in some nearby woods and this May, the search is on! In secret. Also, mushrooms are big around here. Morels any minute now, maybe.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Scientists self-censor in response to political controversy

I was upset that people are being prevented from researching controversial topics by the stupid politics of our day. Also, Andrea Lafferty of the Traditional Values Coalition saying that "scientists overall don't believe in God, and they don't want to be questioned," is irrelevant and misleading. Irrelevant because her conception of god excludes anybody else's metaphysical structure from legitimacy, and misleading because scientists do want to be questioned. That's the scientific method- you make a hyptothesis, test it, support or deny it with your data, and then submit it for peer review. Ignorance is her number one traditional value, hahaha. I'm tired of writing this fricking paper.

Monday, February 16, 2009

thesis freewrite

I am choosing to answer "Should 'hate speech' be censored by universities?" with this assigned rhetorical argument essay.

When students make arguments that seem hateful and threatening to any population of the the student body, the university's responsibility is to facilitate intelligent dialogue rather than censor, except in the case of genuine threats to the physical and intellectual integrity of students. One argument is that people who hold reviled positions on controversial topics often will mention taboo facts that need to be heard. "Hate speakers" need to be invited into and trained in the art of rhetorical argument; if they are not emotionally mature for this task, they could be assigned to academic probation along with something like Outward Bound.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

from wence came this hallmark holiday?

reprinted from From Werewolves With Love - History Of Valentine's Day
By Brad Steiger
FATE Magazine - February 2006

Everyone thinks they know the origin of Valentine's Day. According to the most commonly accepted story, Emperor Claudius of Rome issued a decree forbidding marriage in the year 271. Roman generals had found that married men did not make very good soldiers, because they wanted to return as quickly as possible to their wives and children-and they didn't want to leave them to fight the emperor's battles in the first place. So Claudius issued his edict that there should be no more marriages, and all single men should report for duty.

A priest named Valentine deemed such a decree an abomination, and he secretly continued to marry young lovers. When Claudius learned of this extreme act of disobedience to his imperial command, he ordered the priest dragged off to prison and had him executed on February 14.

Father Valentine, the friend of sweethearts, became a martyr to love and the sanctity of marriage, and when the Church gained power in the Roman Empire, the Holy See was quick to make him a saint.

The early Church fathers were well aware of the popularity of a vast number of heathen gods and goddesses, as well as the dates of observation of pagan festivals, so they set about replacing as many of the entities and the holidays as possible with ecclesiastical saints and feast days. Mid-February had an ancient history of being devoted to acts of love of a far more passionate and lusty nature than the Church wished to bless, and the bishops moved as speedily as possible to claim the days of February 14 through 17 as belonging to Saint Valentine, the courageous martyr to the ties that bound couples in Christian love.

February Is for Mating

Actually, there is no proof that the good priest Valentine even existed.

Some scholars trace the period of mid-February as a time for mating back to ancient Egypt. On those same days of the year that contemporary lovers devote to St. Valentine, men and women of the Egyptian lower classes determined their marital partners by the drawing of lots.

But the time of coupling that comes with the cold nights in February before the spring thaw likely had its true origin very near where Valentine supposedly met his demise.

Among the ancient Greeks and Romans, the Wolf Charmer was called the Lupicinus. Perhaps hearkening back to prehistoric times, the Lupicinus may well have been an individual tribesman who had a particular affinity for communicating with wolves. As the tribes developed agriculture and small villages, it was necessary to have a person skilled in singing with the wolves and convincing them not to attack their domesticated animals. The Lupicinus had the ability to howl with the wolves and lead them away from the livestock pens. In some views, because he also wore the pelt of a wolf, the Lupicinus also had the power to transform himself into a wolf if he so desired.

Rites of the Lupercalia

The annual Lupercali festival of the Romans on February 15 was a perpetuation of the ancient blooding rites of the hunter in which the novice is smeared with the blood of his first kill. The sacrificial slaying of a goat-representing the flocks that nourished early humans in their efforts to establish permanent dwelling places-was followed by the sacrifice of a dog, the watchful protector of a flock that would be the first to be killed by attacking wolves.

The blood of the she-goat and the dog were mixed, and a bloodstained knife was dipped into the fluid and drawn slowly across the foreheads of two noble-born children. Once the children had been "blooded," the gore was wiped off their foreheads with wool that had been dipped in goat milk. As the children were being cleansed, they were expected to laugh, thereby demonstrating their lack of fear of blood and their acknowledgment that they had received the magic of protection against wolves and wolfmen.

The god Lupercus, represented by a wolf, would next inspire and command men to behave as wolves, to act as werewolves during the festival.

Lupus (wolf) itself is not an authentic or original Latin word, but was borrowed from the Sabine dialect. Luperca, the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus, may have given rise to secret fraternities known as the Luperci, who sacrificed she-goats at the entrances to their "wolves' dens." For centuries, the Luperci observed an annual ritual of chasing women through the streets of Roman cities and beating them with leather thongs.

Scholars generally agree that such a violent expression of eroticism celebrated the ancient behavior of primitive hunting tribes corraling captive women. Once a wolfman had ensnared a woman with his whip or thong, he would lead her away to be his wife or lover for as long as the "romance" lasted. Perhaps, as some scholars theorize, this yearly rite of lashing at women and lassoing them with leather thongs became a more acceptable substitute for the bloodlust of the Luperci's latent werewolfism that in days past had seen them tearing the flesh of innocent victims with their teeth.

As the Romans grew ever more sophisticated, the Lupercali would be celebrated by a man binding the lady of his choice wrist to wrist, and later by passing a billet to his object of desire, suggesting a romantic rendezvous in some secluded place.

Christian Marriage

One can easily see why the early Church fathers much preferred the union of man and woman to be smiled upon by St. Valentine, rather than the leering wolf god Lupercus. And, of course, they encouraged a knot tied securely by the sacred rite of marriage and blessed by the priest, rather than a fleeting midnight liaison.

By the Middle Ages, the peasantry in England, Scotland, and parts of France honored St. Valentine, but their customs seemed very much to hearken back to ancient Egypt and Rome. On the evening before Valentine's Day, the young people would gather in a village meeting place and draw names by chance. Each young woman would write her name or make her mark on a bit of cloth and place it into a large urn. Then each of the young men would draw a slip. The girl whose name or mark was on the piece of cloth became his sweetheart for the year.

This method of celebrating St. Valentine's Day quite often led to circumstances and situations that encouraged long-term and lasting relationships, blessed by the recital of marriage vows in the local church. If the young couple did not take the necessary steps to become bound in a church-sanctioned union, the parents of the respective "bride" and "groom" would actively arrange for the marriage sacrament to be observed.

It wasn't long before the peasant method of utilizing St. Valentine's Day to guarantee the next generation of field hands, construction workers, and merchants reached the ears of the upper classes, and the custom became popular among the young men and women of the aristocracy and the landed gentry. Since the prospect of arranged marriages between successful families meant far more to the upper classes in Europe than to the peasantry, parental supervision most often limited the interaction between their children to be "sweethearts" during Valentine's Day parties.

By the late 1400s, the upper classes of Europe and England would come together in homes to celebrate Valentine's Day and allow their young men to draw a "valentine" with the name of a member of the opposite sex, beside whom he would be seated at a lavish dinner party. Hostesses took advantage of the holiday theme to express the tradition in colorful decorative schemes.

Gradually, Valentine's Day came to be synonymous with the exchange of pretty sentiments, written in flourishes on scented paper and decorated with hearts, arrows, doves, and cupids-those little pagan deities maintaining their hold on the ancient holiday. By the early 1800s, young men were taking care to create symbols of their passion on elaborate cards that they could offer to "My Valentine."

Today's Customs

By the 1850s, Valentine's Day cards were being manufactured and sold commercially in England, and the custom of observing the holiday with cards to one's sweetheart became popular in the United States in the 1860s, around the time of the Civil War.

Today, of course, we have vast commercial enterprises centered around St. Valentine's Day, insisting that callow young men and seasoned husbands must buy their sweetheart a box of candy, a dozen roses, a diamond ring or necklace, or at least a five-dollar card. But don't let the slick advertisers fool you with all this talk of a saint named Valentine who was martyred for love. Remember that it all began with a hyped-up wolfman smeared in blood chasing the object of his desire with a leather thong.

One last word of advice: Forget the whip and stick with flowers and candy

Brad Steiger is a professional writer who deals with the strange and unknown.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Thinking Critically about "Paintball: Promoter of Violence or Healthy Fun?"

1. My own view of paintball has been this: it's a militaristic rich kids sport that fosters a social acceptance of war in children. It does this by glorifying the physicality and the adrenaline rush, the strategy and the comraderie that soldiers must engage if they want to survive. This is my position, personally informed by the support of America's foreign policy and a fascination with killing machines in general, exhibite by my economically priviledged, paintballing classmates during highschool. Also I have played the sport, once, and succeeded in grasping some of Taylor's well-spoken examples from that experience. Ross Taylor's essay did little in moving my understanding over to his position, however. The largest addition to knowledge that I took away was new appreciation for why people are attracted to the game. "Paintball is a fun, athletic, mentally challenging recreational activity that builds teamwork and releases tension," says Taylor. So are a lot of other sports that do not precisely glorify war. Taylor offers no rebuttal to this. The points and evidence of what they enjoy about paintball were relatively strong, especially the around it being mentally challenging and building teamwork. However, the teamwork building of Fortune 500 companies who bond over paintball is a joke in that it buries his poorly thought out attempt to wrestle with the main controversy nagging the sport. Fortune 500 companies are an exemplary part of the military industrial complex that paintball trains us to live for. For Fortune 500 employees, paintball reinforces the twisted Social Darwinism that our economy is paritally based on.

2. Taylor's appeals to ethos are often strong but not entirely consistent. The strength of their tone and depth of experience lend credibility. He holds fun, competition, physical fitness, collaboration and mental challenge as values, all of which are easy for Americans to relate to. He also seeks to address certain criticisms, the two which he claims that opponents of their position commonly cite. These are the possible dangers and violence of the sport. For the safety issue,Taylor gives strong examples of why paint ball can be very safe. For example, reported eye injuries are very rare, and most people who are hurt this way were not wearing the appropriate eye protection. However, they stop thinking straight when it comes time to thoughtfully reflect on the violence issue. That paragraph is a jumbled mess, and it's the most important paragraph for defending the pro-paintball position. Taylor does not mention how paintball is used as a tactical exercise in the American military, which clearly indicates that it is used to promote violence. If I ever bear offspring, I would strongly object to them marrying anyone who doesn't understand the nature of violence. It should be obvious that forms of play which mimic mortal combat are instilling violence as a value in children. This lack of clarity really disrupts the ethos of Ross Taylor.

3. Pathos, the appeal to reader sympathy, is very effective in this piece. Taylor "goes there" with drive-by paintball shootings, which are probably sensationalized television news stories. He calls such individuals rare, bad apples. During my reading of Taylors description of the physicality of their sport, I found myself getting pumped up. The chest beating and "splendor and glory" Taylor feels is contageous.

4. The Logos of the argument (the appeal to reason with evidence)is mostly solid in this piece. Taylor clearly demonstrates that paintball can have the beneficial, positive characteristics of other common team sports, like soccer, ultimate frisbee, and pickup baseball. The problems grows from the critical lack of support for how paintball doesn't usually reward violence. One result of fragging somebody is "a nice dark bruise" (my emphasis). Purposefully damaging another organism is usually, rightly considered violent behavior. I realize the players agree to this, but a lot of humans and non-human organisms living in a war zone don't have the choice to opt out of their location, and this sport encourages war more than probably any other that's commonly played in this country.

5. Ross has validated half of their argument- paintball is a sport, sharing the essential, beneficial characteristics of other American sports. Paintball is not much more dangerous than any other contact sport that result in bruises. However, the rhetoric comes apart when Taylor defends paintball as aloof and separate from other violent human expressions.