Archive for the ‘Guest Blogger Post’ Category

by Kevin, AKA Thin Black Duke

In keeping with her man-hating, feminazi ways, Thinking Girl has graciously allowed me and all my manly dewdness to say a thing or two on her blog. Thank you, Thinking Girl, but I see through your little scheme here. You want to lure me into your patriarchy hating trap. You want to oppress me. And the menz! What about the menz?! Oh please! Stop oppressing us poor menz! We have it soooo bad! I mean, that one chick wouldn’t date me and I really was a Nice Guy™, but instead she dated that other guy, who is obviously an asshole because he’s not me, the real Nice Guy™. I’m NICE, damnit! And just to show you how nice I am, I’m going to treat you like an object to be possessed or won. I’m going to call you a beeyatch and a ho because you’re not attracted to me. Or better yet, maybe you’re one of those dreaded lesbians. It’s really all about us, the menz! The MENZ! DAMNIT! And if we don’t get everything we want then it’s just not fair! NOT FAIR!

Why can’t you understand that we’re really on your side?


A little over the top, yes, but seriously, that’s how some of you male commenters here sound, which is to say: like fools.

To be serious now, I truly am honored to be allowed to say a thing or two here at Thinking Girl’s blog. For my first post, I’d like to share 10 Things Men Can Do To End Men’s Violence Against Women

1. Acknowledge and understand how sexism, male dominance and male privilege lay the foundation for all forms of violence against women.

2. Examine and challenge our individual sexism and the role that we play in supporting men who are abusive.

3. Recognize and stop colluding with other men by getting out of our socially defined roles, and take a stance to end violence against women.

4. Remember that our silence is affirming. When we choose not to speak out against men’s violence, we are supporting it.

5. Educate and re-educate our sons and other young men about our responsibility in ending men’s violence against women.

6.”Break out of the man box”- Challenge traditional images of manhood that stop us from actively taking a stand to end violence against women.

7. Accept and own our responsibility that violence against women will not end until men become part of the solution to end it. We must take an active role in creating a cultural and social shift that no longer tolerates violence against women.

8. Stop supporting the notion that men’s violence against women can end by providing treatment for individual men. Mental illness, lack of anger management skills, chemical dependency, stress, etc… are only excuses for men’s behavior. Violence against women is rooted in the historic oppression of women and the outgrowth of the socialization of men.

9. Take responsibility for creating appropriate and effective ways to develop systems to educate and hold men accountable.

10. Create systems of accountability to women in your community. Violence against women will end only when we take direction from those who understand it most, women.

From A Call to Men

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Hi everyone! I’ve got another guest post for you, from one of my readers, Craig, over at [Insert Witty Title]. (We’re actually doing a post trade, so I submitted to him an edit of a post I did over here about women in math and science careers (that was an interesting process, editing a post I had already written, and incorporating some stuff from the comments to make it even more clear. If you want in on that discussion, go visit Craig’s blog!) He’s a science guy, and likes explaining science-y stuff to people who don’t have a background in science. Perfect! I thought, I sure could use some of that, since science totally overwhelms me. Maybe if I’d had a science teacher like Craig, I wouldn’t have dropped science classes in grade 10!



Infinity is Quite Big

Infinity is one of those concepts that everybody gets in theory but nobody really thinks about too hard. Personally I find infinity very hard to visualise, but that desn’t stop me from trying. Almost without fail I struggle for ages and then just for one horrible second almost manage to grasp how big everything is; for one moment everything else in life feels painfully insignificant and comically small. The feeling always slips away again quickly.

I’m going to try and make everybody feel like that today, using this:


No, not just a cat: A picture. In fact this picture is 50 by 50 pixels in size, greyscale, and (believe it or not) will make for a really good demonstration of how big numbers can actually go.

When you display a greyscale image on your computer it actually shows only
256 shades of grey. Bearing that in mind lets ask an interesting question: How many different 50 by 50 pixel greyscale images can my computer possibly show?

Not that many, right? It’s such a small picture, there can’t be that many different combinations, right? Wrong!

The answer is actually approximately 10 followed by 6020 zeroes, or more precisely, this (click for big number). This is an absolutely overwhelming, mindblowing number. Looking at a page of digits doesn’t even begin to get over how stupendously large it is, it’s nearly impossible to visualise.

To give us some sort of perspective, imagine if each of our tiny greyscale photographs were printed out and piled on top of each other. The resulting stack would not fit on the Earth, or in our solar system, or our galaxy, it wouldn’t even fit inside the entire Universe, not by a long shot! It would, in fact, need this many (click again for another big number). Universes to contain the stack of images. Quadrillions and quadrillions of Universes needed to hold just that one patch of light.

To ground us a little bit, lets do exactly the same thing again with this picture:


Yes, there is a picture there, it is 5 by 4 pixels in size and has only two colours, black and white. How many of these could there possibly be? Following the same method as before we can calculate that there are 1048576, or just over a million.

I have far too much spare time and went out and made every single one of these million pictures, then mirror imaged them so they look like space invaders. Here are one million space invaders (beware, web browser destroying 6.8Mb png lies beyond that link), here is a tiny fraction of that image:


No repeats, nothing missing, this is every image that could possibly be taken from our hypothetical 5 by 4 pixel black and white camera. Even this little patch of 20 pixels is pretty much mindblowing.

One final thought to leave you with — If you multiply these results up to everything else in life: Every pixel on your monitor and television, every photograph in your house and every image you’ve ever drawn then suddenly reality feels (at least to me) terrifyingly large and at least a little bit more incomprehensible.

So next time you’re bored and feeling like you’ve seen it all before, just remember our quadrillions of Universes and millions of space invaders, and remember exactly how much you haven’t seen.

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Hi all,

Here’s another great guest post from one of my frequent contributors here, Ballgame. I’d direct you to his blog, but he doesn’t have one. So, I’m happy to give him an outlet for discussion here! This one should be fun, I think.


What makes a good feminist film?

I wondered about this when I realized that more than a few of my favorite films of all time were what I think could quite readily be classified as ‘feminist’, including my top pick, the somewhat obscure Plenty.

Plenty focuses on the struggles of Susan Straherne (Meryl Streep) to reconcile herself to the stifling banality of female life in postwar Britain, after a brief but courageous stint as a British intelligence operative working with the French Resistance in WWII. Straherne is clearly a profoundly flawed character, at times self-deceptive, arrogant, manipulative, and occasionally even cruel. But she’s also brilliant, sensitive, loyal, empathetic, and uncompromising, and it is through her eyes we begin to see how the hypocrisy and doublespeak of British (and by extension Western or even civilized) culture works to thwart the human impulse for true freedom, virtuous achievement, and honest relationships. Plenty is not “about” feminism, but the misogyny and sexist double standards of the time are a significant part of the frustration that lies at the heart of Straherne’s struggles, as she finds herself repeatedly playing peripheral roles to much less talented men. Straherne is torn between the necessity of living in the world as it is, and the clarity of her vision of how the world could — should — be.

Meryl Streep brilliantly embodies this complex character, and this could very well be her best role, which is saying a lot given her incredible career. David Hare’s dialog sparkles. (He also wrote The Hours, Damage, and Strapless.) The movie as a whole is just about flawless, with impeccable production values, a poignant score, and an outstanding supporting cast (Tracy Ullman, Sting, Ian McKellen, Sam Neill, Charles Dance). (There’s even a segment about British complicity in the contrived circumstances of the Arab & Israeli war of 1956 that may have seemed like an historical aside when the film was made in 1985 but which today seems chillingly prescient.)

Favorite bit of dialog: “I think I married him because he reminded me of my father. Of course, at the time I didn’t realize what a shit my father was …”

Another film that I found extraordinarily moving is Housekeeping, which is set during the same time period but in a radically different milieu: the Pacific Northwest. Christine Lahti plays Aunt Sylvie, who is given charge of her nieces long after their mother dies. The nieces soon learn that Aunt Sylvie is hardly the ideal mother-substitute which they longed for, but is in fact quite an unorthodox outsider to life. Once again, Housekeeping is not “about” feminism, but the radically different ways each niece and their aunt struggle against or embrace the feminine options they see before them is a significant subtext. Sadly, this unpredictable and extremely poignant film from the 1980s has been quite overlooked and hasn’t even been converted to DVD, though it remains available on VHS.

Kissing Jessica Stein is probably more of an ‘LGBT flick’ than a ‘feminist’ one, but deals with relationship and (admittedly rather idealized) career issues from a distinctly feminine perspective. It’s an exceptionally well-written look at two women who become involved that is alternately moving and outrageously funny.

I’m tempted to add the original Alien, given that female action film leads were still a relative novelty back in the late 1970s when it was originally released (outside of cartoony works). But I’m very interested in knowing what everyone else thought were strong feminist films, particularly from those released the last couple of years.

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My friend Matthew over at littlewoodenman has a new post up about microfinance (AKA microcredit), and offered it up as a guest post here. I thought I would use it for Feminism Friday, since it definitely has a focus on women and empowerment.

Microcredit has been lauded by the development world – recently the inventor of the concept was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Matthew provided me with this quote to explain the relevance of microcredit for women and feminists:

“Microfinance programs have generally targeted poor women. By providing access to financial services only through women—making women responsible for loans, ensuring repayment through women, maintaining savings accounts for women, providing insurance coverage through women—microfinance programs send a strong message to households as well as to communities.

Many qualitative and quantitative studies have documented how access to financial services has improved the status of women within the family and the community. Women have become more assertive and confident. In regions where women’s mobility is strictly regulated, women have become more visible and are better able to negotiate the public sphere. Women own assets, including land and housing, and play a stronger role in decision making.

In some programs that have been active over many years, there are even reports of declining levels of violence against women.”

Source: Kiva website , CGAP website
Here’s what Matthew had to say about microcredit:


I just read about this over at La Gringa’s Blogicito and think it deserves everybody’s attention. Kiva is a microfinance organization that facilitates the lending of money to poor people in several countries around the world. Microfinance has been in the news recently—Muhammad Yunus, who created the Grameen Bank and the idea of microfinance, was just awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006.

So why is this such a fantastic idea? Because it’s a loan, not a donation. I’m usually hesitant about donating to charities because I just don’t believe handouts solve the problem. But Kiva isn’t a charity. You can give as little as $25 to help someone’s small business grow. But here’s the kicker: you get your money back. You can then keep your money or reinvest it into another small business. Just think how many people the same $25 can help. Talk about bang for your buck!

What I really like about microfinance is that it capitalizes on the abilities of the poor. Most people don’t find themselves impoverished for lack of initiative or work ethic. In fact, they are entrepreneurs in every sense of the word. They have to be just to get by. They want to work hard, learn and grow. They don’t want to receive handouts any more than you want to give them. Microfinance empowers them, instead of treating them like victims.

I could lend $25 to a friend and they’d spend it on pop, chips and BBQ chicken pizza. A good time, to be sure. But if you have $25 to spare I suggest you to support any of the businesses in Honduras that need help (and the list seems to update many times a day). Kiva makes it really easy and it’s all handled online. I just lent $25 to Agusto’s auto paint and repair business and it took me 3 minutes.

Matthew, littlewoodenman 

What do YOU have to say about microcredit?

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Hi all,

my second guest blogger has stepped forward, and I couldn’t be more pleased that the idea is catching on! if you haven’t considered submitting something, please do.

Marc Andre submitted to me a post he wrote on his French language blog. (Don’t worry, he translated it for us!) It’s about Faith, and I thought it was a very useful post that might generate some discussion.


Of Credit and Faith

We can believe people on various levels, especially the intellectual one: what we say makes sense and we adhere to the position; and the emotional one: it is not so much the reasoning but the person we believe, or the idea behind the reasoning. This emotional credit supercedes the intellectual; it acts as filter to rational, logical, argumentative discussions. We can beleive, understand the reasoning, the thoughts, but it doesn’t go further if emotional credibility is lacking. That is what often distinguishes good dialectiticians: you believe them, not their words.

I would actually distinguish between the two types by calling intellectual credence “credit” and emotional credence “faith.” When we give faith to an idea or a person (actually, it might be more accurate to say the idea we have of the person), there is not too much room for reasoning. Belief in God precludes any rationalization – it’s a question of gut feeling. Same thing goes with ideas (e.g. patriotism) or people (love??). We filter out, disregard any data going against this faith; the information just doesn’t stick.

It’s not a question of intelligence (or lack thereof) but of perception. We can use reason to challenge our own faith, but we will only change it through revelation, epiphany. And sometimes, that’s exactly what we need; it’s necessary, even reasonable, to have faith in an idea or a person. This is often what keeps us going, without havin gto always question everything. This can of course lead to abuse (we often see that in discussions where people stick to their guns), but it seems to be a vital mechanism.

Kuhn (whose study I’m fond of quoting) showed that such a mechanism exists in sceince. When a student begins his training, they give credence to what the teachers say. This basic knowledge of the field, its axioms, will never, for most people, be challenged, all contrary data being filtered out, explained away.

The same thing goes with our view of society.

Marc Andre Belanger, Cruset of Ideas

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Hi all,

So this is the first of perhaps a few guest blogger posts. I’m glad to have some help from my readers and blogging friends to keep the momentum on this site going as I go through a bit of a lull and work through some issues with voice in my writing.

So as I embark with you on this experiment, let’s all remember that these posts do not necessarily represent MY ideas, political positions, or conspiracy theories – so comments should be directed accordingly.

Thanks so much to Ryan for writing this, and picking up some of my recent slack on this blog. and let’s have a bit of discussion, yes? Here goes:


I found this on the Sincmil News Network Wire.

Feminist Feels Good about 2008 Election

(SNN Coffeyville)  Sue Valance is an everyday normal person, much like any other. But there is something different about Sue.  She is a feminist and she is happy.

“I have been a feminist all my life.  The other day, I was thinking about the 2008 elections, and I thought to myself, ‘How far we have come, that I would actually consider voting against a black woman,'” Sue told around 400 reporters, who had gathered for her press conference.

“Being able to imagine the ability to vote for a woman president is an opportunity I never thought I would see in my lifetime,” Sue continued.  “And to be able to say that I would even consider voting against her is an amazing feeling.”

RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman said of Valance’s statements, “This is an excellent example of why we call the GOP the Big Tent Party.  No matter what your race, creed, sex or color, we accept anyone willing to support rich, white, Christian men.”

Ryan Maynard, Editor
NewsBlog 5000

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