Cast of Characters:

Enkidu (AKA Slim)
Beowolf (AKA Wolfie)
Blaze (AKA Blaze)

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The vase-anorexia link

Vrouwen voelen zich dikker door dunne vaas

Vrouwen die ontevreden zijn over hun lichaam voelen zich nog dikker bij het zien van een dunne vaas. De Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG) deed er onderzoek naar en maakte de resultaten dinsdag bekend.

Het onderzoek toonde aan dat vrouwen zich ook met objecten vergelijken en niet alleen met andere vrouwen. Debra Trampe onderzocht hoe vrouwen die ontevreden zijn over hunl ichaam, reageren op een dikke of een dunne vaas. 'De vrouwen die de dikke vaas te zien kregen behielden hetzelfde lichaamsbeeld', vertelt Trampe. 'De vrouwen die de dunne vaas zagen voelden zich nadien nog ontevredener.' Volgens Trampe vergelijken vrouwen zich met alle vormen waarin ze een lichaamsvorm kunnen zien.


De Standaard, webeditie, 30 mei 2007

Women feel fatter through slender vases.

Women who are dissatisfied with their bodies feel even fatter when they see a thin vase. The Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG) did a study about this and reported the results on Thursday.

The study demonstrated that women also compare themselves with objects and not just women. Debra Trampe studied how women, who are dissatisfied with their bodies react to a wide or narrow vase. 'The women who saw the wide vase kept the same body-image', says Trampe. 'The women who saw the slender vase felt even less satisfied afterwards.' According to Trampe, women compare themselves to all forms in which they can see a human figure.


De Standaard, web edition, 30 May 2007

Sunday, June 10, 2007

The Twenty-Fifth Hour by C. Virgil Gheorghiu

I recently finished reading The Twenty-Fifth Hour by C. Virgil Gheorghiu (as opposed to the handful of books by the same title by other authors). It had been recommended to me by Jassim, who has read it at leasts a dozen times. He said that it really describes the current situation in Iraq, even though the protagonist is a WWII era Romanian farmer, who is wrongfully imprisoned and passed from internment camp to internment camp throughout the war.

There is a review of it from TIME from 1950:

...It is the innocent helplessness of its heroes that gives The Twenty-Fifth Hour its heavy coating of irony. Men, Gheorghiu is saying, no longer think in terms of individuals or their happiness. Human life has ceased to mean anything except as a cog in some machine or pattern. Production, material results, categories, statistics—these are all that count. The criminals are not so much the Nazis and the Communists as the big-machine boys everywhere. And of all the nations in the world, says Gheorghiu, it is the U.S. that most fervently worships the twin cults of bigness and the machine. Author Gheorghiu (who steadfastly refuses to visit the U.S.) offers his novelist's proof: his heroes, sure they can count on justice from the Americans, get a heartless shake in U.S. Army P.W. camps.

Choice in Despair. Despite its European popularity, The Twenty-Fifth Hour is no literary masterpiece. Its plot is heavily propped with coincidence, the characters are undeveloped and its message is spelled out with "petitions" that bring the story to repeated full stops. Gheorghiu's villain, machine-age power, is neither an original nor a persuasive one. What gives the book its impact is its assembly of evidence of man's inhumanity to man, by no means peculiar to the machine age. ...

As stated in the TIME review, the mechanics weren't excellent, but most of the book was a compelling read and it certainly made an impact, despite the occasional sermon/manifesto-like tone interspersed throughout the narrative.

gay fetus

I saw a new (to me, anyway) question posted online:

If the fetus you save is gay, will you still fight for its rights?

Friday, June 08, 2007

Torture in Germany

I just found out a from a German friend of mine, that women who have an abortion are required to look at the aborted fetus. Apparently, they are also required to have a 'counseling session' before the abortion, in which they show how horrible a decision it is. (I don't know if this is an actual law, local practice or what, just that my German friend understands it to be widespread.)

I'm not opposed to having a counseling session, if the information is provided in a 'just the facts' way to let the woman know what potential health and psychological risks are. It's also OK to let her know what various social implications might be. However, such a session should not be aimed at convincing the woman to decide one way or the other.

I think that bombarding the woman with images of ripped apart fetuses does nothing but attack her mental well-being. I don't believe that she should be forced to not only make the difficult decision but also be tortured with having to see what remains of the fetus.

All that said, I can understand why they force women to see the fetus. It is reminiscent of the American policy at the end of WWII to march locals through the concentration camps to make them see what they allowed to happen.

I don't know. I guess it all comes down to whether you consider a fetus a living, thinking being or not. For me, I guess the line really does come down to when it becomes aware of its surroundings.

I don't think that I would personally feel comfortable with an abortion, but I wouldn't deny a woman the right to make that decision for herself.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Stay the course!

That's right! Stay the course! Keep eating that dinner, even if you come to believe that it is poisoned! No flip-flopping!

Monday, June 04, 2007


I just finished writing this Email to my Iraqi friend and decided that it would make a good blog post. We had been chatting online when the power was cut there forcing him offline.

Hi Jassim,

How appropriate that our conversation about a power outage was cut short by a power outage!

You had just asked how my dad would do with only one hour of power a day. I'd imagine that it would be pretty devastating for him. Walking through my parents' home when my father has just gone out means finding the light on in every room. There are 2 televisions on the main floor, and it is quite common for them both to be on. Sometimes, the TV in the attic is also on. The stove in the kitchen is a gas stove, but it has an electric ignition, so one either needs electricity or a match to light the gas to cook.

Another reason why my dad was so upset about the power outage on Wednesday, was that my parents had bought a generator last year when the power was out, but the generator was in the garage, and the garage couldn't be opened, because the garage door opener needed electricity. Since there was no access door then (though there is now, after some choice words to the contractor), the generator was out of reach and useless until the power came back on (though Dad did figure out how to break into the garage anyway).

I think that my parents' generation is perhaps the most wasteful and the least apologetic about it. Their parents and grandparents had lived through the Great Depression and WWII and had learned to save everything. By the time the 1950s and 1960s came along, there was an overabundance of resources and consumer goods available in the United States and everyone wanted to have everything that they could have. There was the idea of "keeping up with the Joneses", which meant that you couldn't let the neighbors have more stuff than you did, so you had to keep buying things in order to keep up. Cars were big and got bigger until the 1970s, when there was an oil scare. I think that the generation of baby boomers considers it a right, or maybe even a responsibility, to live with as many things/toys as possible, because they can. There seems to be little thought of what one really needs or should do. I think that the idea is not to ask 'why' someone should have/do something, but rather 'why not?'.

In later generations, though I couldn't say exactly when, they started teaching about the environment in school. America is still worlds behind Europe in environmental awareness, but it's starting to catch on. Most of the people I know recycle at least some things. A lot of my friends and acquaintances are careful to turn off lights when leaving a room. A lot choose to ride a bike or take the bus rather than driving. For my dad's generation, it's nearly impossible to understand why someone would want to walk or take a bus when one could drive. I personally prefer driving most of the time as well, but I think that this might be partially because I grew up in a small town without public transit, where everything was spread far apart.

It's really amazing to stop and think about how much power we use in this country and how many resources we just throw away. It's also important to remember that although I've framed everything in terms of generations, there are also other factors involved. For instance, about a month ago, I decided that I needed a new mouse for my computer, because the old one had stopped working reliably. I commented to my friend, who is about 20 years old, that I had had the same mouse for about 7 years. He was really shocked. He said that he didn't think he had anything that he'd had that long. He also tends to leave the water running in the sink when he is getting ready to do dishes, whether he is in the kitchen or stepped out to make a phone call or go to the bathroom.

This really is a throw-away culture. People replace things just because they feel like something new or because they are too lazy to clean or repair what they already have. Whenever I think about my time in Europe, where they could live like we do in America, but for the most part don't, or about my experience in Bolivia, where 80% of the population is lucky if they have power and water at all, or about you in Iraq with your one hour of power a day, I can't help but feel a heightened sense of responsibility to conserve resources.

On the other hand, I like my creature comforts. I'm willing to turn off extra lights and the TV, but I still have the air conditioner on. I tell myself that it is because of the ferrets, but they would survive with it a bit warmer. I could probably turn the A/C off at night without hurting them, and sometimes do, though I just as often leave it on. Scolding others for wasting power is only hypocritical when I think about how much I prefer driving to taking the bus or how often I have my computer on, even when I am not actually using it.

There is a bumper-sticker that I have seen that says "Live simply that others may simply live". I guess that this is something that we should all take to heart, even if we aren't angels ourselves.


Sunday, June 03, 2007

New Carrier

After getting Goldie a carrier, I found out that my ferrets were really jazzed about having a carrier. So, I went out and got the same carrier for them. As soon as I got it assembled here at home, Chaos carried out quality control.