Thoughts on Halloween

The Geist of Halloween is abounds. This is significant; sometimes, holidays just don’t feel like holidays. The mind just won’t impose the right tertiary qualities to color our experience of the day. But today, it is Halloween, and all of us believe it. I flinch at the wind’s stirrings of leaves behind me as if they were footsteps, ghosts appear in unlikely places, and the inevitable swipe at “slutty” costumes has been swept by a Tribune columnist.

Certain words are only heard at certain times a year. “Merry” and “jolly” come out of hibernation for December. “Freedom” is uttered all year round, carelessly, with no real thought as to the nature of its referent; but the air is thick with “freedoms” in July. “Grateful” pops in and out for the last week of November. And “slut” and “slutty” are dropped in public without passion or selfconsciousness in the two weeks leading up to 31 October. It’s strange. At every other time of year, the word is a joke among close friends, or else hissed under breath, or shouted in hatred. But around Halloween, men and women assume a smugness to apply a brazenly hurtful word to persons for their costume choices.

Now, I’m not prepared to go so far as Dan Savage and prescribe Halloween celebrants embrace its sexualization and take the occassion occasion for any and all to “flaunt” sexuality. Of course, if someone wants to flaunt within the bounds of reasonable caution, I don’t care, but no one should feel obligated.

I think there could be reasons good and bad for oneself to decide to costume skimpily. A good reason might be a genuine confidence and joy in one’s body and one’s sexuality, coupled to a weighted understanding of the social and physical risks of potentially provocative clothing in mixed company, and a caution to protect oneself (and one’s drinks) from unwanted attention. A bad reason might be feeling pressured to wear something one is not comfortable with, by a partner or by peers. Another one might be a temperamental bawdiness with its foresight blinded to possible negative consequences to attention. It seems to me uncouth to presume someone’s motives, their intelligence, their regard for their body and reputation based on a glimpse we see of them on the street or across a crowded room. Skimpy costume-wearers may regret their choice. They might regret it later that night, when the first pictures hit Facebook, five years from now paging through those same pictures. Their regret may or may not be rational. So it seems cruel to sneer at them now, and make them regret for our judgment and not theirs.   

Do what you’re ready to do, have fun, be safe.

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Obligatory Halloween Post

No matter what you’re doing to celebrate the harvest this year, try to keep the Word Warrior in the back of your mind. I wanted to create this post so we can document both the amazing and wonderful costumes and the sexist/racist/homophobic/etc. costumes we see this year. So here’s your prompt:

What was the costume?

Where did you see this costume in action?

What makes this costume awesome (or unacceptable)?

Did you say anything? If so, what did you say?

Happy Halloween-ing everyone! If you see an 80s aerobics instructor running around in Walker’s Point tonight, it’s probably me. Say hi!

Self-Indulgent Music Post

Who says everything we post in the Word Warrior has to be all cerebral and thought-provoking? I’m all about community too, and one of the things that I think community can be built on is music. Typically, I’m the mix cd type. I make mix cds and give them to my friends, and sometimes they give me mix cds in return, and we are able to share the gift of music and lyrics with each other.

So since I’m not entirely sure who all reads this thing, and the cd burner on my MacBook is currently knocking on death’s door, I thought I’d post a few of the things I’ve been listening to lately. AND since I’m trying to help cultivate our little community here, I encourage you, our loyal readers, to critique what I’ve put up and post some of your favorite stuff in the comments.

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The next information revolution?

Papyrus. The printing press. Digital silicates. Are nano-ceramics next?

Engineers have created a material that could hold a trillion bytes (a terabyte) of data in a chip the size of a fingernail — 50 times the capacity of today’s best silicon-based chip technologies.

The engineers, from North Carolina State University, said their nanostructured Ni-MgO system can store up to 20 high-definition DVDs or 250 million pages of text, “far exceeding the storage capacities of today’s computer memory systems.”

Working at the nanoscale, the engineers added metal nickel to magnesium oxide, a ceramic. The resulting material contained clusters of nickel atoms no bigger than 10 square nanometers — a pinhead has a diameter of 1 million nanometers. The discovery represents a 90% size reduction compared with today’s techniques, and an advancement that could boost computer storage capacity.

“Instead of making a chip that stores 20 gigabytes, you have one that can handle one terabyte, or 50 times more data,” Narayan said in a press release.

The process also shows promise for boosting vehicles’ fuel economy and reducing heat produced by semiconductors, a potentially important development for more efficient energy production.

By using the process of selective doping, the engineers could introduce metallic properties into ceramics, Narayan said. The process would allow them to develop a new generation of ceramic engines able to withstand twice the temperatures of normal engines. The engines could potentially achieve fuel economy of 80 miles per gallon, Narayan said.

If that went over anyone’s heads, here’s an instructive video in which U.C. Berkeley student Glory Liu explains nanotechnology, with help from her puppet friends:

How many of your classmates believe in ghosts?

If you’re a freshman, about one in four. If you’re a senior, one in three:

[H]igher education is linked to a greater tendency to believe in ghosts and other paranormal phenomena, according to a new study.

Contrary to researchers’ expectations, a poll of 439 college students found seniors and grad students were more likely than freshmen to believe in haunted houses, psychics, telepathy, channeling and a host of other questionable ideas…

While 23 percent of college freshmen expressed a general belief in paranormal concepts—from astrology to communicating with the dead—31 percent of seniors did so and the figure jumped to 34 percent among graduate students.

Yeah, damn academics, cramming materialisms scientific and dialectical down students’ throats.

Do I preemptively win Scariest Halloween Thing?

(Via Live Science.)

Guam archbishop: Gay-murdering terrorists have a point

Archbishop Anthony Apuron issued a statement on the highness of the stakes in Guam’s legislature’s proposed Bill 185, which would recognize same-sex civil unions. Apparently, he finds the stakes high enough to concede points to Islamic fanatics who horribly torture and murder homosexuals. Also, America is the Great Satan:

The culture of homosexuality is a culture of self-absorption because it does not value self-sacrifice. It is a glaring example of what John Paul II has called the culture of death. Islamic fundamentalists clearly understand the damage that homosexual behavior inflicts on a culture. That is why they repress such behavior by death. Their culture is anything but one of self-absorption. It may be brutal at times, but any culture that is able to produce wave after wave of suicide bombers (women as well as men) is a culture that at least knows how to value self-sacrifice.

Terrorism as a way to oppose the degeneration of the culture is to be rejected completely since such violence is itself another form of degeneracy. One, however, does not have to agree with the gruesome ways that the fundamentalists use to curb the forces that undermine their culture to admit that the Islamic fundamentalist charge that Western Civilization in general and the U.S.A, in particular is the ‘Great Satan’ is not without an element of truth. It makes no sense for the U. S. Government to send our boys to fight Al Qaida and the Taliban in Afghanistan, while at the same time it embraces the social policies embodied in Bill 185 (as President Obama has done). Such policies only furnish further arguments for the fundamentalists in their efforts to gain more recruits for the war against the “Great Satan.”

Protecting your kids, gender norms on Halloween

Tips from America’s Finest News Source on how to butch-up your sons.