Hobbesian Ethics and the Zombie Apocalypse

path: ethic.

I was 19 when I read Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes.  Like most of my classmates, I was at first taken aback by the idea that people act out of self-interest, but I came to really appreciate the idea of that, and of social contracts and a strong leadership, which were the elements which saved us from the chaos of man in the state of nature.  The state of nature, in which the life of man would be ‘solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.’

My friends and I loved that description, ‘nasty, brutish, and short.’ We’d throw it into conversations and laugh the laugh of the philosophy geek.  

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Four Things About Men and Women I’ve Learnt From Being Neither

a gentleman and a scholar

I think part of it is a family trait, of being treated as a safe person to talk to – several relatives have had similar experiences – but part of it is most definitely being publicly genderqueer. Since I came out, nearly half a lifetime ago, I’ve found that so many of my interactions with women and men* have been marked by them designating me as something like safe territory. Someone they can talk to about gender, sex, sexuality, identity, who will both understand where they’re coming from and give them another perspective – like a gender translator and diplomat – and, crucially, listen and respond without judging them along strict binary lines. Because I’ve already transgressed those boundaries, and won’t try to punish them if it turns out that they’re transgressed them too.

This isn’t anything more than anecdotal evidence and personal experience – in generalized, anonymous terms and…

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What’s the Problem with Pink and Princess?

Dr. Rebecca Hains

This week, New York and Slate published pieces asking why so many moms have a problem with pink and with princesses.

“What’s the problem with pink, anyway?” griped Yael Kohen in New York. Then, building upon Kohen’s piece, Slate senior editor Allison Benedikt demanded: “What is it with you moms of girls? I have never met a single one of you who isn’t tortured about pink and princesses.” Her annoyance is palpable.

Both writers proceed to defend all things pink and princess. “We treat pink — and the girls who like it — with […] condescension,” Kohen states, while Benedikt adds, “Moms of daughters need to chill out.”

Let’s take a step back, please. I am the author of a forthcoming book called The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years, and Kohen and Benedikt’s arguments are wrong on several levels. By pontificating on the subject without actually talking to the moms they’re criticizing, they’ve missed the point. Having interviewed…

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Twitter, Outrage, and Jesus

The Divine Latitude

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It happens over and over.

First: the offensive statement, the easily misunderstood opinion, the flattened phrase.

A victim is created and shouts. They claim space, a part of the territory. Here I am. They say. Look, I’m bleeding. You hit me. You meant to hit me. In cyberspace, within the pixels, there is blood.

Someone says the rules. One rule is this: they are always right. I do not know who made these rules, but someone says it, so it must be so. The sensitive and righteous tweet support and tell their own stories. They demand an apology. Twitter has spoken. They determine what will be a satisfactory penance. There are other rules, and there are hashtags.

In 140 characters we will sort through all the mixed motivations of human desire. We will make it clear; we will judge, and correct, and make right with our succinct and brief…

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Successful Authors on Word Counts

Nail Your Novel

Dave writing This question appeared in my inbox from Adam Nicholls after I reported on Facebook that I’d managed 4,000 words of The Mountains Novel in one day. Adam DMd me, in not a little anguish:

How many words do you write per day? And do you have to force yourself to do it? I love writing, but it’s work.

There are two significant points in this question:

  • output; books growing steadily at a satisfactory rate
  • difficulty.

How many words per day?

I asked this question of a group I’m a member of, The League of Extraordinary Authors. Romance author Melissa Foster says she has no difficulty getting 7,000 to 10,000 words written in a day and that she adores the blank page. No issues with output there. (But there’s more to writing a good novel than stacking up the wordcount, as she points out in the comments below.)

Romance author

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On the Gridiron

Feminist Games

as a kid i loved football.

along with hockey and the occasional trip to Volcanoes Stadium, football was how i spend a lot of time with my dad. everyone living in the house (except my mom) had a team that they rooted for; i rooted for the Pittsburgh Steelers, brother1 worshipped the Packers, and brother2 and my dad supported the SF 49ers.   my dad always gave me a hard time about choosing the Steelers—i never fully admitted that i chose the team as a 10 year old because i liked the colors of a winning (’79) team in the Madden ’99 football videogame for N64.

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Post-Traumatic Healing

The World of Special Olympics

In the world of Special Olympics, we’re accustomed to the trauma of physical challenges and even more, the trauma of social injustice. Intellectual differences sometimes come accompanied by physical pain and worse, with exclusion and ridicule and name calling. The trauma can often be sharp and lasting.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years watching our athletes, it’s that healing is always possible. No matter how many times the world has said “no” to us, it’s still worth trying to assert our own “yes” to the future and to each other. That’s the message I saw last month in Aaron Banda who despite years of untreated seizures caused by cerebral malaria, is now playing football (soccer) and going to school. That’s the message I saw in DJ Ficca who has been battered by infection and misdiagnoses but who showed up for our recent Special Olympics Unified Game…

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