Regarding this video winding up on a Facebook Feed

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EbEJom2HJEg&feature=youtu.be

Response:

 Speaking as someone who writes opinion articles for a Canadian news site, while this video is edited and voiced over with a professional tone, were I to try to submit a text akin to this on any topic to any reputable source, the editor would be well within her duties to reject it. Problems with this video include but are most certainly not limited to the following: - It makes conclusions about the nature of the filmed event but is not clear about what the filmed event is about or who arranged the permit for it - these are key points of data in any reporting process. Nor is it clear if the prayers received an official stamp of approval. All this information is easily available to the public. - While France's census cannot legally ask about religion (since 1872), private polls can and do ask - frequently. There are many statistics available quickly and easily. About 8% of France is Muslim. This number is growing, but not as fast as the number of self-described Roman Catholics. - The assertion about some men practicing polygamy -> more births on welfare does not even try to quantify itself. As such, it's not false as all it requires is two guys in the whole of France to pull it off. However, it needs to be quantified in order to be relevant. It also does creates a bouble-standard as polyamorous non-Muslims are not subject to the same scrutiny - It fails to mention that the dystopian novel might have been overlooked by the French Media as "Мечеть Парижской Богоматери" (Eng: The Mosque of Our Lady of Paris" - "Notre Dame" being French for "Our Lady") is, as one might expect from the title, set in France but written in Russian. (And from a glance at the synopsis, it's not a very good book, that even breaks the rules laid out by Christian publishers in the US on how not to write a shitty Christian novel.) - Further to the above, the professional way to demonstrate being overlooked by the media is to compare word count, or advertising budget, or staff salary, or search engine count or some other quantifiables across comparable topics - in this case, taking an average of other mediocre contemporary dystopian Russian novels with thesis other than why Vatican II will result in the murder of all non-Muslims. I would guess that most such novels probably don't even have publishers in France which would prove the opposite of the video's claims. People have done this for decades before the Internet. Today you can do what were once months of work in in a couple hours. - Also on the above - claiming that one is beign censored simply because one is not receiving equal media attention minus any kind of proof that implies that this is happening for unjust reasons is so common a complaint that it is a fallacy unto itself. Any journalist should know this and know how to report such claims responsibly. - The woman in the video who is allegedly defending the veil cannot be heard. This is hopefully just sloppy reporting, but it may be a deliberate misquote. Also, she's not wearing a veil as much as a headscarf - The women displayed in the section about the burqa law is not wearing a burqa, she is wearing a niqab. Time to up your game!

http://www.dailyxtra.com/vancouver/news-and-ideas/news/trans-woman-leading-mens-rights-group-183906

 

 Oh that is interesting. And, as someone who has a post-bac from SFU's Women's Studies department, yet who does not identify as a feminist (although my politics generally agree with those who do), I have many many thoughts! I don't know if any of these would be good column fodder, but it's pretty much consensus among trans women that being read as a cis woman is much safer, easier and generally more privileged than being read as a transgressively feminine man. In my case, I was shocked to realize that even though I was never perceived as a man in a dress, I still had an easier time with day to day gender stuff after transition than before, insofar as being perceived as a hundred-yarder butch dyke was way easier than being read as maybe possibly gay.


In "Whipping Girl" Julia Serano postited that as hatred of femininty=mysogyny, so discrimination of trans women is actually a clear expression of latent sexism without the veneer of militarist masculinity that prevents the more violent expressions of patriarchy day to day. This sounds smart, and it truly is smart is, and it made a big difference in getting trans women access to community and lifesaving services, but the more I think about it, and most attempts to discuss gender in anti-oppression space, the more I see people trying to discuss observations of prejudice along any axis so as to shoehorn it into what was originally a second-wave feminist frame that was extremely limited and flawed to begin with. Even most of third wave feminism is still built on this foundation, endlessly renovating the limitations of second-wave feminism to fit reality. This would be like trying to modify Lamark to account for Darwinist evolution, or trying to use the language and worldview of elemental bodily humours in Gallenic medicine to describe neurochemistry ("Prozac preserves the fiery character of the sanguine humour, thus balancing out water, and combatting melancholy. It's like a little salamander cage!").
 
The problem is that every conversation still has to satisfy this original frame. And yet the more *most people* look at gender, the more most people gather that discrimination around gender acts differently than discrimination around race, ability or birthplace. I can't think of any significant downside of being white, predominantly able-bodied, or having dual citizenship in rich countries. But even not looking at what happens to visible trans women, when we look at incarceration rates, lifespan, some forms of homelessless, and gay-bashing, it seems that being male has some really shitty sides. Contemporary feminism tries to reconcile this by describing "toxic masculinity withing a framework of classism, sexism and racism" and ventures into "patriarchy is bad for everyone" but can't seem to ever say that under many circumstances, being (perceived as) male is grounds for some pretty brutal discrimination - i.e. sexism.
 
Where this costs us is that when people come to an understanding of gender through observation first, and when those observations include watching really awful gender-related shit happen to males they care about, and then they run into feminist theory, and see that it barely acknowledges this, then hand-waves away any attempt to directly address it as a problem unto itself (because the people who disagree either "just need to be educated" or "are the enemy"). Those people then need to reconcile facts with theory. What do they do then? (1) Most people shrug, shuffle and keep their opinions behind closed doors and stay the fuck away from activism, (2) some use the feminist frame to rationalize it, (3) some (like myself) who can both keep up with academic verbal gymnastics and are not highly dependent on anti-oppression circles for security or community can defend their standpoint that acknowledges the range of observations but frames it within anti-oppression social signals in a way that doesn't have them labelled a "traitor" but they never organize because that space is a tug of war between #2 above, and the (4)th option, "Men's Rights Activism."
 
As near as I can tell, most trans people have intimate personal observations that leave us facing one of the choices above. Those of us at a distance from anti-oppression use #1, those of us in it use #2 because we know we'll lose any verbal throw-down about gender. But this was bound to happen eventually.
 
The whole MRA scene is a good example of how the left totally fails to reconcile theory (which is usually mostly accurate and wouldn't require that much change to account for data) with fact, and what happens when we do. People whose well-being depends upon a particular problem being addressed go to the right. Because the right will listen to them, give them an explanation and hope for change.
 
Another good example of this is hiring or admission quotas that acknowledge race but not class. Poor whites who used to be able to make up for being screwed by classism by benefitting from racism, lose part of that edge and now have to compete toe-to-toe with rich whites like myself. They naturally feel shafted. The left could have done the smart thing and fought for race *and* class quotas and made allies (in ways that have been *very* successful in the past like the "Fusionists," to the point that the rich whites of the South built the segregation system to undercut it), but we didn't, and instead we fight against these poor whites. So the poor whites blame anti-racism and vote for Trump. Nice work left wing. Slow clap.
 
This failure to acknowledge real problems at the top of someone else's priority list even undercuts trans activism internally. AFAB cis-spectrum people who have seen shitty things happen to themselves and other AFAB people in childhood really do have grounds to question what the hell trans women would know about that kind of sexism. Some trans women like myself had a pretty easy gender-related ride in childhood, and yeah, I don't have that particular crappy experience, and I do keep my mouth shut. Other trans women got beaten and raped as kids, specifically because they broke gender rules, and they have a *very* good idea what childhood sexism looks like. But trans activism sticks to a soundbite of "we were always girls" and hopes that no-one questions it. For the most part this works. But when it fails to grapple with people with the above observation, said people find that TERFs are ready with answers.
 
(See also: when people see corruption in unions and try to address it openly; and for the mirror Left/Right image, how police inability to deal with complaints has lead to the current media state of affairs)
 
Unfortunately, when you tries to address these problems in anti-oppression circles, unless you're a verbal ninja with in-group social status, either someone tries to "educate" you or they label you as the enemy - and even then, if you want to make change, you *never* go after the central ideological tenets. If we could deal with this and have discussions based on more on reason than ideology, we'd win over a lot more people and win a lot more battles.


 

(And how you can't say who is better off, a person who experiences, x1y1z3, vs x2y2z1 vs x1y4z1.5)

_____

Actually I think that some forms of privilege not only can be quantified, but should. In fact, quantification is what allows us to determine whether a given social category is a form of privilege or oppression, and this has real consequences.


Examples:

When people want to deny trans women access to women's resources like emergency shelters, they usually argue that trans women have too much male privilege. Without quantification, this can only be contested through an ideological argument that ultimately has no measure of falsifiability (it can't be proven to be wrong) and thus is irresolvable. This then leads to a decades-long stalemate between the (thankfully increasingly rare) women's organizations with moderate to low resrouces and trans people with low to no resources. If, instead, we ask what the criteria are for admission to this shelter (limited income, risk of violence from partner, in society and in men's shelters) we can establish that trans and cis women both need to get into these things - actually, trans women, on average, need them more. Were the people trying to exclude trans folk to actually listen to this form of argument, access would improve and with it, quality of life.

Another example is the frequent claim in politics that indigenous people have it easy and clearly have a form of privilege over white people - due to band bursaries, reduced taxes and government programs. If one quantifies the very limited value of these (frequently slow) bursaries (which are limited to people with membership of a band that can afford them), the marginal gain from buying goods tax-free less the opportunity cost that comes from living on reserve (which is necessary to get these discounts), and the actual value of these government programs, and then if one compares it to the cash value of white employability, reduced police harassment and the average intergenerational wealth transfer, one can conclude that the average's individual's person's experience, it is actually the case being white that is a form of privilege versus being indigenous. This has policy implications. And it has numerous parallels in other discussions over equity measures.

While many incidents of privilege are still hard to quantify, the social categories through that determine when and how they occur often track with quality of life data, and from this, you ca get a picture of what's easier. This can allow apply within one form of privilege - for example, the 1965 book The Vertical Mosaic quantified different forms of racial privilege in Canada, and this ranking of racial ancestry versus life outcomes and political power still holds. From this, one can also state that, for example, all forms of neurodiversity (mild ASD vs Schizophrenia) are not equal burdens - and this too can be quantified, as is done with physical ability in the Paralympics.

Using this method, you actually can answer the questions above. You can do so holistically, or for each variable or combination thereof as experienced differently by two people of differing social situation. When the numbers are so close as to be swayed by small difference in interpretation, you can conclude that both can expect roughly equal but different outcomes. But when there is no reasonable equivalence, you can say who has it worse off in a given category (and the situations in which it has an effect), or overall.



I think a lot of people share David's impression, and as producers, we have a lot to learn from it.

Lack of diversity is one of the reasons that I don't go to most theatre very often (or have any qualms about torrenting mainstream movies) - most shows don't reflect the diversity of my community, not just in race but on many other axes. I am not only disinterested in seeing these performances, I would rather put money towards something that provides acting opportunities for the range of people in my community. I have ethical concerns as well - I can't tell if the lack of diversity is due to a lack of applications (as in your case) or due to outright prejudice from the casting chain (writer-producer-CD) - something I have fought against as a producer on many occasions.

Here it sounds like the problem is a lack of applicants. What to do?

As a nonprofit admin turned business owner turned producer, I have learned that when there's an odd demographic skew in applications, something has gone funny with outreach. And if it's not corrected, we'll wind up with a sub-par applicant pool. Fortunately, it's easy to fix.

I recently shot a music video about transgender people and I found eight transgender actors to be in it - plus a couple trans extras. It's attached to a TV show that has three transgender leads, three trans principles, and two trans actors ("actors" is the TV term for "bit parts"). A lot of people - okay, almost every seasoned film professional I spoke to - thought this was an impossible casting attempt for even a high-budget show with an international reach. And yet we found 6 people in Vancouver, 1 on the Island and 1 came in from Montreal. If I can find transgender actors without breaking the travel budget, I think there may be some nifty ways to get some more racial variety in theatre applicants going forward.

As near as I can tell, the biggest obstacle is as follows: People who are less-castable or who are cast poorly are *often* likely not to apply where they assume (or rather, have learned due to experience) that they will be wasting at least a day prepping and auditioning - even if the breakdown doesn't specifically exclude them. The more experienced actors have agents, and agents are *even more* reluctant to do this. For example, a breakdown may not mention the physical size of a character, but fat actors have learned not to bother applying to anything that isn't explicitly written with a large person in mind as they will only be wasting their time. In my case - I'm not *that* badly off in terms of castibility, but I have learned not to apply for most romantic (heterosexual) roles on account of my gender-variant appearance - there are tomboys who like guys (I am sometimes one of them), but I'm still not considered. Unforunately, hetero romantic roles are about 80% of female leads - so I don't apply for those. But anyways, something similar goes for for non-local/non-american accents, trans status, plain-looking people, and race, among other factors.

So. How to find those motivated actors?

To get around this as a producer, we:

1 - Make it crystal clear in our breakdown that we want a variety of human beings. In the case of race, we don't just write "all ethnicities" as for some reason, agents don't get that this means exactly what it says. We have learned to either write "ethnicity preferrred" (the TV term for "POCs welcome. No. Seriously. We mean it."). Or we write four identical breakdowns for different racial groups - "25-40 female" becomes "25-40, female South/East Asian; 25-40 female, Aboriginal or Black; 25-40 female, Arab or Latina.

2 - Make sure that the breakdown gets in front of people who have given up on reading mainstream breakdowns. Facebook groups. Tumblr. Community bulletin boards. Asking people for help spreading the word. If the role is not token but respectful, producers can usually expect enthusiastic support.


Do this, and you'll get a wider variety of applicants and a better and more motivated cast. (The funny thing about less castable actors is that when we get a decent role, we will generally bust ass on it because this is probably our only shot this year.)

Plus, you'll get a fresh new audience who will love your show all the more for speaking a little more to their friends and family.

- I'm also available for consultation ;) -
 
  • Amy E. G. Fox Oana Capota - it depends on what time period we're talking about. Generally, people will more heavily anglicize their name, the more racism is directed at their culture. The category of "white" used to mean English, Germans, Welsh and Scots and I think the French, who were Catholic. Northern European were considered white later (see Deadwood for examples of what I'm talking about). Later, Irish, Italians, Spaniards, Poles were granted fringe White status in the US and Canada. Jews are often still in a gray area.

    During this period, non-white Europeans would often not jut re-spell their name but swap it out entirely for something English or German. After that, they would keep their name but radically change the spelling. Then slightly change it. Then keep it the same as much as possible within the latin alphabet as recognized by the government bureaucracy's character set.

    You can see some of this at work with Chinese surnames as some newer immgrants use a standardized pinyin system, which refers to non-English phonemes, rather than anglicized aproximations Eg: Chin -> Qin, Wong -> Wang.

     

  • Amy E. G. Fox Haide Anne Rose - the list is not condemning whiteness, it's focusing on forms of predjudice that still have lasting effects, which advnatge white poeple over others.

    I am descended from Scots. And I have huge amounts of White privilege. This despite the fact that the romans thought of us as "wild" and took some of us as slaves. And despite the fact that the English colonized us and our language started to evaporate. I have white privilege because, in the age of sail, my fellow Scots hooked up with other Britons to go beat the crap out of everyone else and take their stuff. And while the worst of it ha passed, nothing has yet overturned the day-to-day advantages that I receive.

    Roman stereotypes about blue-skinned cattle-thieves have faded away, and we no longer give our best food to English landlords, but, due to British Colonialism, whether my ancestors themselves dished out the beatings or not, I still have a disproportionate amount of wealth, access to education, resistance to prosecution and so on. Thus, I have privileges that Raven does not enjoy - This is White Privilege. It doesn't make me a bad person, any more than I begrudge Raven for not being on the cisgender end of things. But we both acknowledge that we enjoy privileges that the other lacks, and for no just reason.
 How to get more auditions from a range of people?
 
I know film better. Here's how it works there - I imagine theatre is largely the same?
 
In film, if a casting breakdown does not specifically say "all ethnicities" and ethnicity is not otherwise specified, it means that casting wants to see white people first and everyone else second. Or it's a whites-only gigs.
 
Agents submit POC as "wild cards" to these shake up assumptions. I'm told wild cards are 5-20% of agency submissions - and this percentage includes white people who are wild cards in some other way. People who are not of a normative body-weight and white and cis and nominally able-bodied are kind of screwed in this system. Agents know not to rock the race-boat.
 
What results is that less-castable actors cannot get paid work. A white actor is more likely to get paid to train while they act, but a POC actor is more likely to have to pay to take classes. And then "experience" is a factor in getting hired. So even if they pay to train just as hard as a white actor who is getting paid to train, when someone POC has to go up against an equally skilled white person, the white person will, on average, have more credits and thus be perceived as 'more experienced' and therefore better.
 
Some people run out of willpower to study for a job they will never get due to their skin colour (or size, or gender or age, or ability). Other people just run out of money.
 
___
 
Thus, as someone doing casting, there are a few things one can do to see a broader range of people:
 
1 - Question who needs to look like what. People have asked me to distribute breakdowns where everyone in a family has to be white - because they've already cast one white person. I ask, why is it so important that this family can't be mixed-race? Why no step-parents? Why no adopted children? Hell, why not get people to stretch their minds a bit - if ancient rome can be recreated in a 20'x20' area where Romans are played by savage Nords and Gauls who would normally be Slaves-of-War and everyone speaks in English poetry, why can't non-adopted non-half siblings be different colours?
 
2 - Spell it out in your breakdowns that you are looking for a variety of people. Don't just say 'open ethnicity' or 'we encourage everyone to apply' as many CD's are writing this just to avoid lawsuits (e.g. FOX in 2012?) and then go on to cast a sunscreen party. You can reserve some roles for POC. You can say "we want this show to have the diversity of Vancouver and will cast accordingly. Mixed race actors especially welcome."
 
3 - Make sure your CD understands this and knows how to make it happen. Interview them to see how they will do outreach. When all else fails, say "See this chart of racial diversity? I need my production to look like that. How will you make this happen?"
 
4 - Send the breakdowns out far and wide. Not just the major services, but community organizations that will reach the people who you want to cast. There are a lot of ex-actors out there who quit for the above reasons, who are motivated and eager to land a role and will play it well.
 
6 - For highly specific roles - well - don't be so specific. Does a character really have to be 28-30? Could she be 20-40? Wider net. More fish.
 
7 - If you really must cast specifically (must be 5'2"-5'4", have one eye and speak Etruscan), be ready to either fly people in or spend a little extra time with a newbie actor. Fortunately (at least in film) said newbie actors are often non-union and will be happy to attend some mandatory classes.
 
______

 

Further:

What else to do:

As a manager - look in a human resources textbook for the chapter on equity hiring. It's 30 pages that will change your job.

As a creative - when someone asks for your input, push for diversity in casting on all demographic fronts. DIscuss breakdowns. Circle stereotypes and assumptions in red pen and explain them to the writer.

As a member of the community - Buy tickets and help promote only those companies that would actually hire from the range of people found in Vancouver. And... more long-term... any organization that receives over a quarter million a year in government money has to have an equity hiring program. I want to push for this in all industries and see that casting is held up to the same standards as every other kind of HR. I should really talk to my MP.

In response to Joy Smith:

http://www.straight.com/news/553441/joy-smith-canada-must-target-buyers-sex?comment_mode=1#add-new-comment

 

 Under the old laws, sex workers (and their bookkeepers, security and even roommates who were "living off the avails") could be arrested and placed on a life-long sex offender registry, prevented from travelling and have their children seized. And yet the only people I saw actually trying to end this injustice were pro-sex-work groups. People allied with the views espoused in the article, who were "concerned about women and girls," made some noise about the Nordic model, but it was the sex workers who organized and got this law overturned - all at great personal cost and risk. I say we listen to the people who actually fix things.

 
What of exploitation? A lot of people are horribly exploited and even forced into agriculture, and no one seems to be in favour of banning that. Same for food service, garment manufacture, caregiving, and a lot of other fields that pay a lot less than sex work. These other fields *also* see sexual assault and rape. The solution is not criminalization of the worker, nor of the client - how do you expect labour standards to be upheld when business has to operate in secret? The solution is labour standards, respect and worker organizing. These are much easier things to make happen when people can do their jobs openly and transparently.
 
As for the Nordic model - I'd like to see stats that actually back this up. Human trafficking stats are dubious: often, travellers and foreign workers suspected of prostitution (read: people of colour, trans people), are stopped, searched and interrogated. Once it is "determined" that they are sex-workers (the evidence can be as little as "had frilly underwear in suitcase") border guards then conclude that they are not "on vacation" but are being trafficked against their will. Border security detains and deports them - all "in the interest of protecting them" of course. I've seen it happen to American actors. I've heard of it happening to East-Asian women on vacation to Australia. It supports the hypothesis that a lot of anti-trafficking leglislation, when practiced, winds up being no more than a thin justification for xenophobia. So I don't buy the stats coming out of it. So please, give me some meticulous research, and until then, let the sex workers decide what's best for themselves.

Beautfully shot. Great integration of candlelight. Well-acted.

It's great to see movies about how slavery is the horribly unjust foundation of contemporary America. We need more of this sort of historical awareness. Not that Django is historically accurate, nor does it claims to be. It's kind of a trend with Tarantino what with Inglorious Bastards and all. But what's curious is how, the further we get from the present, the less people care about historical inaccuracy. WWII is more precious than the antibellum South, and no-one cares about wild flights of imagination in the medieval period.

The gender politics are crap. There is some terrible use of the "damsel in distress" trope, with one exception  - the inversion of the "man of colour menacing white women" trope. But not enough to redeem the gender politics. I could write on it, but Tracy Bealer has already said it better.

The only thing I have to add to that essy on gender is that it's curious how the damsel never actually gets raped during the story (as it would make her "less pure"), and the hero never gets castrated (as he'd become "less of a man"). I'd kind of prefer the movie if this wasn't the case. Because that's how slavery worked - you cross the people in charge, and they make an example of you.

For a movie about slavery, and for a blacksploitation movie, the middle has a lot of Candie and Schultz (white leads) talking. However, this changes towards the end as the last two leads are Django and Stephen.

Also, it shows that interpersonal violence is usually not about two people facing off, but one person getting the drop on the other. The "face-off" between two mortal rivals only happens when one person leverages the indisputable advantage of force to push their world-view on the other (like how an armed police officer will lecture you about being in the park after it closes... even though it hasn't closed yet) and it's an act of courage to give back-talk. I like that.

___

 

Follow up thought: I realize now that the filmmakers managed to mostly (completely?) ignore shade, which is kind of an important axis of how slavery was organized in the 1860s. Is a slave 100% african? Exactly half white, half-black? Less than 1/8 and 7/8ths? Somewhere between categories? This measure of white vs. black blood was an important indicator of relative status, and who did what jobs (i.e. housework vs. fieldwork). But Django seems to have passed it by. Oops. Might want to talk to casting about that.

A Facebook thread copy/pasted here as I may need it later

It's important to consider message is that one is sending. Wearing (1) objects of mourning/war/childbirth/diplomacy as a fashion/fetish/newage accessory, when (2) they belong to cultures that lack accurate media representation, which causes (3) the general public to mistake the former meaning for the latter is an act of intercultural hostility. It cuts short the ability of people to publicly express their own culture publicly without creating miscommunication - and especially because that miscommunication often entrenches existing stereotypes (e.g. Rasta being depicted as synonymous with "Chronic" rather than a religion; Cheongsams as sub wear; anything Aborignal being laid back nature hippies)


Example:
Person from dominant culture:
"Dude! Looks like you're all gearing up for an awesome kink party!"

Person from marginalized culture in traditional wear:
"This is a child's festival you ignorant a**hole"

By contrast, wearing something where the meaning is clear (a European funeral veil) ironically is fine, as, in this culture, most people (or at least most people with cultural power) know it's a funeral veil.

I would also assume it's safe to wear summer leisure wear as summer leisure wear. But, since I come from the dominant cultural frame, there are nuances I may be missing.

There was a cover of an Archie comic, or something like it. And Betty had fallen in love with another girl.

We sit at a long wooden table, appys finished, amongst friends. Betty, on my left, is engaged in conversation. Another woman across from me, making flirty eyes with Betty. I recognize her from the cover, except here she is flesh, not ink.


So, did you do this? She asks

What? I wonder what exactly, taking off my cowboy hat and flipping my thin long black ponytail. Checking my reflection in the mirror-wall across the restaurant. Lean. Male. An outfit that screams Console Cowboy.
Read more... )

"You can get Xtra West there. It comes in every couple of weeks." I say to her.

She's a fag hag and says she's been missing her circles in Toronto.

"I might be in the next one: i was interviewed."

"About what?"

I relay the story with Lu's. How it opened, and wouldn't admit transsexuals or intersexuals, and how the Femininjas protested, did outreach. How they held out, but changed. How they lost a lot of volunteer support, and aren't doing so well now.

"Great. Another service for women closes." She says.

And so a very difficult conversat
Edited for length )

I cannot leave this conversation be. Something in it hurts more than I expected. I am reminded of how far I am from home. I wonder what this bodes for the remaining school year. I feel very tired. Angry. Listless. I wonder how long change will take. I think about the practicality of engineering a different kind of human being. Or an artificial intelligence that sits on your shoulder and all it does is call you on your bullshit - and maybe calculate tips and remember telephone numbers.
When someone says that "the steel in this ______* sword is folded over one-thousand, or sixty-five thousand times," this is what it means:

You start with four layers of metal: two of a hard steel for cutting and two of a soft steel for flexibility. You get them so hot that they fuse together at the edges. Then you hammer them out and fold them. Now you have eight layers. Another heat and another fold is sixteen layers. And so on.

The sword is not actually folded a thousand times. It's folded between eight and fourteen times. This makes between 1024 and 65536 layers of steel. If you want over a million** layers, as i've heard from time to time, fold it eighteen times.

This still requires a lot of skill, as it needs to be flat, and smacking the sword the wrong way could easily puncture a layer of steel. And you don't want to repeatedly heat and cool something that thin, because you'll lose a bit of steel and structural integrety every time. This means that you need to get several people pounding the sword at once, with great accuracy and fine rhythm, and without accidentally sledgehammering each-other.

And you need to temper the sword right, heating the whole sword and getting the whole cutting edge to hit one temperature and the back another before you cool it. And then you need to sharpen it just right. And then you need to figure out which swords are good, which to recycle, and which to sell at a discount under a fake name.

But there is not some _______* blacksmith hunched over a forge, folding it a thousand, or sixty-five thousand, times, or a million times. That would be silly. Never mind the time involved. If you truly folded a sword fifty times, you'd split it's atomic nuclei several times over. If you tried, you'd just mash the layers together to make a lump of steel that varies between thin layers and an alloy, and which, when you went to use it, would bend in interesting ways.


I am learning a lot in this class.



* Insert a nationality here. Blades from cooking knives to scythes, from Switzerland to Burma are made like this. But for some reason the word is usually "Japanese," which makes me hope that Honshu bladesmiths are having a collective mathematical giggle at the rest of the world. It also makes me think that North America has some  stereotypes about the Japanese (obsessively skilled but dull - suitable for repetitive factory work) that resemble 1900-era Euro Vancouver's assumptions about Chinese servants. But until word gets around, I can always change my name to Keiji and hire a model to stand in for me on the "about us" section of the website.


**1048576 layers, to be precise. The same number of layers as bytes in a megabyte

I went to the gender discussion group at the Three-Rivers health care center. Very cool. Food for thought.


The 2006 Abridged North American Guide to The Categories that will Define You.
Job - largely mutable - since the death of the feudal system you can always be unemployed
Race - immutable unless you discover that you have a great grandparent who is part something else in which case you can pick,
Age - mutable, but only by time
Weight - mutable! mutable! mutable! we Northamericans don't care if your entire family is whale fat: lose those pounds!
Height - immutable... unless you like leg-braces and scarring
Hair colour - mutable
Natural hair colour - immutable save by gray hairs and baldness
Hobbies - highly mutable
Nationality - mutable... in theory
Sexuality - some disagreement exists; some say you're born with it, others say that it changes on its own, sntill others say that you can change ("should cure") it
Family Ties - severable under only extreme conditons; spouses and childern can be added, siblings and parents can not; your parents can add siblings and siblings can add nieces and nephews without your permission;
Pets - mutable (easier to add than remove)
Sex/Gender - an interesting question (mutable but icky)


How does this read? Any improvements you'd suggest? I'm planning to see if I can get this published.
Also, I still have Rhino membership forms.


To the Right Honourable Mr. Stephen Harper,

     I am concerned by your statements to date regarding the violence between Israel and Lebanon. Israel's bold, explosive-centred, approach to peace-making is a fine example of outside-the-box thinking that will doubtlessly only win them the friends they need in the Middle East. As part of our commitment to Israel's Right to Exist™ and Middle Eastern stability overall, I see no reason why we cannot lend the aid of our military forces.
     Ideally, we should demonstrate our moral support through imitation, the most sincere form of flattery. Should we see a repeat of the 1970 October crisis - if a terrorist organization that might compromise our right to exist is believed to be operating within Quebec, and the police's polite requests for their surrender go unheeded - I think it is our duty as a peace-loving country to systematically level the suspect areas, after, like Israel, dropping warning leaflets on target areas. Leafletting is important, as it makes the subsequent deaths of the unaware, incredulous, slow, illiterate, those working night shifts, and those who die from disrupted infrastructure, stray bombs or inadequate leafletting, to be within the bounds of international law.
     This would only be one-half of leading by example. Should the United States find, or strongly suspect, a terror network to be operating in Canada, we must defend the USA's right to exist (or perhaps that of the real or imagined terror cell, depending on who has the stronger case) with all the gusto we can muster while one side obliterates areas they believe to be harbouring the leaders of the other.
     I'm sure you'll agree that all of the above is well and good. Still there remains the question: how can peace-talks between Israel and the as-yet unresponsive and diffuse leaders of Hizbolla be expedited? I suggest that Canada do its part to facilitate their participation by providing the services of its fine reserve of mediums, channelers and necromancers, as due to the efforts of the Israeli military, post-mortem communication may be the best way to reach the leaders of Hizbollah at this point.
     This leaves the question of domestic consequences. No need to worry. I believe that your support of Israel's actions will draw nothing but support from Canada's Arab voters, who will be pleased to have yet another telling example to counter the stereotype of “it's Arabs who bomb other people.”


Your Humble Servant,
Graham Fox,
President, Rhinoceros Party of British Columbia

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