tom thinks

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date 2001-03-22:11:51
SelfConciousness I'm terrible at categorizing things. Should this come under "Reading" because it's about something I read? Or "Writing" because it's about writing online? Or "Humans" because journalling is a new realization of a deep human need?

I've opted to put it under "SelfConsciousness" because it's about journalling and why I do this, and that's where I've been putting that kind of thing.

I recently came across Why Web Journals Suck by an "old-time" journalist who's being doing this online since 1996. Her comments are pretty reasonable, and naturally I found myself asking, "Does my journal suck?" And naturally the answer I arrived at, after much cogitation, was, "No."

I know what I'm doing here, I know why I'm writing, I know why I'm writing online, and I know why I'm writing about what I'm writing about. Most web journals suck because the people writing them don't have answers to those questions.

Here are some of my answers.

I'm writing because writing gives me great pleasure, both immediately and in the long term. I like the process of discovery that goes on while I'm writing, the learning I do while trying to formulate my thoughts clearly. And I like to be able to look back at what I've written a long time later and see that I've created something good.

I'm writing online because I want to be seen and heard. I want an audience, I want the feeling of being noticed by other self-aware creatures whose lives and thoughts may be a little bit different than they would have been otherwise, because of me.

I'm writing about what I'm writing about because it's what interests me and it's what seems important to me. I'm still learning how to do this. I could write more personal stuff, but I'm an intellectual and a lot of what really turns me on is intellectual stuff. And I have deliberately set out to cover as wide a range of topics as convenient.

I have a couple of rules for what I write, or how I write it. The most important is that I don't do any research for anything I write here--everything is straight out of my head or based on web pages that I cite. My intent is to show me, the sort of thing that goes on in my head--the title is "tom thinks", not "tom researches". Research has it's place, but not here.
Movies The Sixth Day is a terrible movie. Arnold used to be a good risk--if he was in a film, it was probably watchable. But I can't remember the last thing he was in that was any good--True Lies, probably.

"Cloning" in The Sixth Day is related to the science of cloning in name only. The producers have taken an completely fanciful replication process and called it "cloning", presumably to add an aura of topical relevance to their lame undertaking.

Plot-wise, I'd call the film a comedy of errors, were it only funny. The evil mastermind and his henchpeople seem incapable of doing anything right, and if it has been played for laughs this could have been a really funny film. As it is, it's just dumb, suitable for MST3K.
Reading I'm done with Churchill's History of the English-Speaking Peoples. The most striking thing about the final volume is just how recent the modern democratic ideal is. A hundred and fifty years ago, almost none of the young men dying in the Crimean War could vote for any of the politicians who had sent them off to die.

It's really hard for me to wrap my mind around that idea that this society was supposed to be male dominated. It's not as if young lower class men were even valued for their ability to be soldiers: in the Crimean War in particular most of the British troops who died were killed by lack of supplies, and the supplies weren't provided basically because no one in power could be bothered. Men's lives simply didn't count for that much. Nor, let it be said, did women's.

This raises an interesting question. A society that so massively undervalues it's men can't possibly be called "patriarchal". But with the growth of the franchise, conditions for men have improved substantially, and if there was a heyday of patriarchy surely it was in the middle years of the past century, by which time men had had the vote for sixty or seventy years (longer in the U.S.) and women for twenty or thirty.

By this analysis, the feminists whose work popularized the notion of "patriarchy" were most influenced by the world they grew up and worked in--the world of the middle years of the past century. Seeing how the world worked in the 1950's, they analyzed all of history in similar terms, but fundamentally were drawing on their experience of their own times.

This suggests (and by now I should be categorizing this under "Speculation") that "patriarchy" was an artifact of universal male suffrage, that it took close to a century to reach it's peak, and that just about now we should be seeing its final demise as the effects of universal female suffrage reach their peak.

The modern feminist movement is then analogous to the early Radicals and Socialists in England, who tried to base their political power on the enlarged franchise. This was always a marginal strategy--working men have always tended to vote on the conservative side of the spectrum, even at the height of socialism's popularity. And now as women are almost fully integrated into economic and political life, the strategy is more marginal than ever. The thesis that one sub-group in the population has interests that are strongly opposed to or even substantially different from everyone else's depends on that subgroup being without political and economic power, and for women that is, thankfully, no longer the case.

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