Archive for September, 2008



16
Sep
08

Empower girls is fine… but boys are people too.

“Use your power to empower girls” was the headline of the e-mail. Now, I have no issues with empowering girls but the body of the e-mail brought back an old debate for me. A few years ago Oprah started a series of schools in sub-saharan Africa that educated girls and only girls.

I have a huge issue with this practice and the whole concept behind it. Now, if the boys were all educated and that problem was a done deal I could see it… but the boys aren’t actually any more educated than the girls and society might even have more need for them to be educated. See, the boys are the leaders of most societies in that part of the world, and they tend to be sexist as hell. Basically they often view women as little more than chattel. Now, in the west where there are jobs that require education, education allows girls to get out of the home, to develop values that aren’t based on their ability to have sex and bear children. In many third world nations those opportunities don’t exist… meaning that the educated girl is still living in the village with all the boys who have not been educated. Those boys are likely to resent her education and still have an attitude that is based in a different time (I have seen this in action). These boys, as they become adults, will marry these girls who become women… and they will not all treat them kindly due to the resentment over the special privilege. Again, I have seen this in action. If you start by educating both the boys and the girls you open them all up to a larger world, to a world where the boys do not feel that you are excluding them (and believe me, nothing is harder to bear for someone used  to privilege than discovering someone else has what you do not).

So fuck empowering girls, empower people regardless of gender,  give them all the magic of the world, not just one gender or another.

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16
Sep
08

The end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

So, the news coming out of the US is all bad these days. Seems like the markets are imploding and going down the tubes. Of course, there are signs that things may be even worse than we are seeing right now. The people who said that the US economy would reach this point all said it would get worse than this. The people who are saying we are at the worst have said so a whole lot of times already, and each time they have been wrong.

Now, the ones who have been crying doom are saying Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley may be on the chopping block. If that happens, the economy in the US may as well just pack it in. There is no saving it anymore, no mitigating it. It is simply time for the powers that be to stop the bailout activity and let the chips fall where they may. There is no divine right for a corporation to exist, and since it is increasingly obvious that bailouts are only going to prolong the pain, the thing to do is just to stop. Yeah, it will suck for a bit… my whole  survivalist thing may come in handy for a while, but those who are committed to survival will survive, as crappy as things might get.

I saw a letter to a TV station this morning (watching the news while eating breakfast) and the viewer said that many people were being forced to dip into their savings to cover essentials, and that it needs to stop soon. Here’s the bad news: it isn’t  going to stop. JWR of survivalblog.com has been talking about this scenario for a couple of years now… so has Sharon Astyk from Causubon’s Book and John Michael Greer of the Archdruid Report. These are the people whose predictions to date have come true, not the ones being paid big bucks to tell you what is going to happen on the market.

10
Sep
08

Glenn Sacks

Glenn Sacks (you will see him mentioned a few times in older posts) posted a piece I wrote on his site. It seems to be getting a bit of attention (read: hate and vitriol) which I love.

Most of the criticism stems from men feeling like I am dismissing what they are saying… in fact I am not doing that at all. I am trying to find middle ground between what I feel (I have been screwed over quite nicely by the family court system, grew up feeling like males were second class citizens, hell, one of my mom’s favourite jokes is “What is fifty men under the ocean? A start.”) and what I see those I care about going through.

In other words, I try to listen to the other side and the piece I wrote reflects that. I am also very impressed that Glenn put the piece up and can’t wait for part two, even more impressive as I single him out for criticism.

06
Sep
08

Capabilities

If you are reading this then you are probably among the worlds privileged. If that is the case, then this post is aimed right at you. In the coming world things are probably going to be a bit different. Not post nuclear mutants different, but a lot less luxuries different, and then you will discover what you can do. It is far more than you think you can do.

Right now you are limited by the world around you… but your body and mind have capabilities so far beyond what you can imagine.

You can, with enough conditioning, learn to run a hundred kilometers a day, every day if need be.

You can, with enough hunger, learn to trap, kill, and finally eat rats, mice, squirrels, cats, even dogs (although dogs are a special case where most of the time you are better off keeping and training them… they will help you get far more food than they eat)

You can, with enough motivation and training, learn to climb an almost sheer wall.

You can, with enough stress, stay awake for a week at a stretch.

You can, with enough motivation, kill someone.

Most of us are never tested that far in the western world, but as humans  we have the genes for all of these things. They are our heritage…  and they are a heritage that we will probably be forced to rediscover. These things are not that far in the past, or that geographically distant in the present. In time of war (and I promise you, there are people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Ethiopia and may other countries experiencing this right now) most  people are forced to stretch beyond the limits of what we believe we can endure. Even then, it often is not enough, but even those that  don’t  make it fight harder in life than we in our comfortable  society based on pushing around data ever have to. I  know this because there have been a few times in my life where I have gone beyond what I thought I could. Times when I discovered that eating food others have thrown out is actually not that bad, that sleeping on a heating grate is a decent option compared to sleeping on bare ground, that simply not giving up is often so hard, but is the only way through. All of this, and I still haven’t seen what the average Somali sees on a daily basis.

Now, if these tests are coming, if this world is the world of the future (and it probably is) then we can either prepare for it, or not. If you have a strong community around you, you probably won’t get the worst of things… so build one. If your body is stronger and faster than most, more efficient, then you can survive better, so strengthen your body. If you are used to making do, then you will be better equipped to make do, so learn how to make things for yourself, how to live without luxuries, how to survive.

This is true survivalism, and while specifics are great, they aren’t at the core of it. At the core is being capable and competent, the kind of person who handles a crisis when it hits instead of falling to pieces. Becoming that kind of person is useful even if everything stays the same… because you might get hit with a major storm,  a gas leak that causes your house to be unusable for weeks, etc. Why not get yourself ready for it now instead of waiting until you need to?