Friday, December 14, 2012

Not even in the top 10

This week (so far) there have been two mass murders, and both murderers used guns. Both murderers were men in their early 20s. Both attacked sites where there was a concentration of people--one a mall, the other an elementary school. The sites shared a reasonable expectation that few of the potential victims would be armed themselves.

In another person's reaction to these horrifying events, that person linked the interesting information that the United States isn't even in the top ten list of countries by firearm-related death rate.

What you may not know is that a man with a knife also attacked an elementary school. In China. Violence is the problem, not the tools used.

* * * * *

I'm reading (well, I'm listening to-due to an attack of vertigo reading is difficult so I bought a couple of audio books for my commute) Nassim Taleb's "Antifragility," the thesis of which is that the opposite of fragility isn't resilience but some other state that benefits from chaos and change, and that humankind's attempts to damage-proof itself and its environment are causing more weakness and fragility. I think eventually the author will start directly advocating for learning to be antifragile, although he is aware that some antifragile people benefit by the damage done to fragile others and condemns that form of antifragility.

The concept of antifragility intersects interestingly with the current tension between the helicopter parent movement and the free range parent movement. I'll write more as I get further through the book.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Fashion and aging

American Age Fashion is subtitled "What older American women Wore, 1900 to now" and explores how women's bodies change as they age and the choices fashion offered them. A recent post explains that the "teenagers these days" problem noted by Plato also applies to elder fashions:
Consider these observations from 1898: “My mother never varied the form of her dress for forty years. To the last she wore a soft fleecy cap, a muslin kerchief about her neck crossed in front, a gown with the skirt gathered in fullness and fastened to the waist. Other women of her period dressed as she did. But today the aged matron draws her thinning locks into a tight little knot at the back of her head, or wears false hair, with never a softening cap about her sweet and faded face. She is dressed as her juniors are, and not to her advantage.” The author, Margaret Sangster, was upset about rapidly changing standards of dress for older women. Other commentators celebrate it. However, one thing remains the same: our sense that “everything is different now” has been around for a long, long time.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Word for 2012: Persist

Right now the most important task in my life is to keep trying, to endure what is happening and hold onto my sense of values through some experiences that are testing me sorely. And so I pick "persist" as my word for 2012, and hope in my innermost self to exceed persisting and actually thrive this year.

Thinking about work

I often say that I love my job, and most of the time, that's true. I enjoy the tasks, I enjoy most of my co-workers, I am paid a good wage, and well-treated in other ways, including verbal appreciation and respect. Kahlil Gibran:
Work is love made visible. And if you cannot work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of those who work with joy. For if you bake bread with indifference, you bake a bitter bread that feeds but half man's hunger. And if you grudge the crushing of the grapes, your grudge distils a poison in the wine. And if you sing though as angels, and love not the singing, you muffle man's ears to the voices of the day and the voices of the night.