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Straightey C. McWhiterson Goes to Ballroom Dance Class: a Metaphor

Teacher: No! You’re doing it wrong!

Straightey C. McWhiterson: No I’m not. I’m doing it right, see?

Teacher: No, that’s not the Quickstep. You’re doing the Electric Slide.

Straightey C. McWhiterson: Really? Are you sure? Everybody knows how to do this dance. I see it all the time. I like it. It must be the Quickstep.

Teacher: No, really, that’s the Electric Slide. The Quickstep is a partner dance. It’s very elegant. You’ll need to learn how to properly “hold” your partner, first, here, the posture is like THIS:

Straightey C. McWhiterson: Hold? What are you talking about? Put my neck like this? But that’s uncomfortable. Ow! Hey, what are you trying to say about my posture? My posture is fine, I’m fit, I do yoga.

Teacher: It’s part of the dance. And the steps go like this: slow quick-quick, slow quick-quick, glide.

Straightey C. McWhiterson: Whoa nelly! I’m not here for this highfaluting terminology. I came here to learn dancing, not this uncomfortable posture and these confusing steps! Why aren’t you teaching me dancing?

Teacher: I am teaching you dancing. Ballroom dancing. The Quickstep. That’s what you came here for, right? That’s what the sign says on the door. Ballroom dancing. Learning hold, and learning the steps, are an essential part of ballroom dancing.

Straightey C. McWhiterson: What!?! Sir, that is so unreasonable! I have no choice but to conclude that you must not love dancing, nor wish to spread your love of it through teaching dancing, very much at all!

Teacher: … I think you’d better find another teacher.



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In Transit: The Joys of Flying

I like flying, I really do. My mother agrees with me. We talked about it in the car on the way to the airport—she was nice enough to agree to pick me up and drop me off.

For me, I love the aerial view. Just love it. Don’t care if it’s cloudy or sunny. If it’s sunny then I have an unimpeded view of the ground and I can track the changing watershed basins, transportation networks, topology, geology, and ecology right beneath me. When we’re close to the ground I analyze the connectivity of classic cul-de-sac suburban neighborhoods and compare them to the connectivity of the older, denser neighborhoods that you find closer to city and town centers. I try to guess which highway that is (probably the accursed I-81). When we’re higher up I try to recognize landmarks such as lakes and mountain ranges. Flying out of the airport in Burlington, VT provides an amazing view of Lake Champlain and the Adirondacks. Far below, tiny pools of water shimmer like coins, scattered at various elevations throughout the mountains, are testament to the legacy of the glaciers that shaped the landscape of the Northeast 12,000 years ago. If it’s spring or fall, I can see the changing seasons illustrated in the graduated amounts of green on the ground as I travel south or north. That was obvious today. Traveling from New York to DC, the white crusts of ice on ponds and rivers disappeared, exchanged for a faint fuzz of green shading over the farm fields.

If it’s cloudy out, once the plane rises above the cloud cover, I put on my polarized sunglasses (a necessity for this; otherwise, it’s just too bright to make out much detail, and probably bad for your eyes to boot) and attempt to puzzle out the topography of the clouds. There must be more atmospheric instability over there to the west, where the clouds are roiled and rising, as opposed to the other clouds which are smooth and scalloped and static. I know less about atmospheric science than I do about geography, geology, and ecological communities, but that doesn’t stop me from trying to apply my limited knowledge and having fun with it.
Having this level of intellectual stimulation, combined with the excitement of turbulence and the involuntary gasps of breath and speeding heart rate that comes with it, makes flying pretty much the best roller coaster ride I can imagine. (Obviously the excitement fades if you’re on the plane for more than a few hours, which is why I can’t in honesty extend my praise to international flights to, say, New Zealand–the thing I remember most about that flight is when a poor suffering 6-month-old baby puked on my bag.)

My mother, on the other hand, mentioned that she doesn’t mind having layovers in airports because she enjoys people-watching. Of course she does, she’s a people-observer and people-interactor by profession–she’s a registered nurse (shoutout to nurses! one of the most under-appreciated professions in the country). To me, the clothes, bags, languages and movements of the mass of people passing through an airport form a sort of cultural topography that the geographer in me itches to map somehow. Do people from different countries tend to congregate in different areas of the airport, what are the customs around sharing phone charging outlets, striking up random conversations, etc. Right now I’m at the Washington Dulles airport, staring more or less directly at an older balding white guy who has a ton of musical electronic equipment out and is bobbing his head and singing along to something, while a troupe of black-veiled Muslim women herd their children down the concourse behind him. Flight for Riyadh is leaving soon. Rarely do you see such a concentration of diversity, and the combination of people in an extreme hurry with people who are idling hours away, like me, is especially amusing to watch.

To top it all off, the musician I saw at my friend’s house last night sang a really sweet song of his own invention about the magic of kisses in airports, so I’m happily thinking of that right now. Thanks, Old Man Luedecke, for that. I promise I’ll buy some tracks, once my wallet recovers from this little jaunt. In the meantime, maybe some other folks want to check out his stuff? If you like good folky-style songwriters, you will not be disappointed, I guarantee.

All this, and I’m not even halfway to Austin.


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Another Celebration Gif

Another celebration gif

Just because I can. And this one was pretty awesome.

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Goal Reached!

Ben Stiller/Sarsgard Jeep Party


Thank you thank you thank you to everyone who donated. My goal has been reached. If you still want to donate, please do so chez Stephanie Zvan – any additional money will go to fund travel grants for the WiS Conference this May.

Seriously, as I yelped to my roommate a few minutes ago, “The internet is fucking awesome!” I even feel almost charitable towards the sweet dude who offered to send me his girlfriend’s IUD. Wait, no, that faded before I finished writing that sentence. And I’m a fast typist.

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Quick Note About Commenting

At the moment, I have the blog set so that I have to approve the first comment by anyone wanting to comment. After you get approved once, you’re good to go.

That’s about the extent of my comments policy right now; obviously I’m going to have to come up with something a bit more detailed and helpful for would-be commenters, but for now: don’t say hateful shit. That’s my only requirement. And I get to decide what’s hateful or not.

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Because @FeministWhore has consistently pointed out how much feminism falls on its face when it comes to the topic of sex work, I thought that Jadehawk’s amazing post deserves a wider audience. So, dear readers–all 4 or 5 of you–please take this to heart and spread it far and wide. Any feminism I’m part of will have something besides criminalization and shame to offer sex workers. “My feminism will be intersectional or it will be bullshit.”

Jadehawk's Blog

Jill wrote a blog post titled Supporting Sex Workers’ Rights, Opposing the Buying of Sex. Reading it, I once again did that thing where I start arguing with an online article in my head, and then I realized this is blogging material. So here you go:

I am an anti-sex-trafficking feminist. I think sex work is incredibly problematic. And I also support the rights of sex workers. I think you can do all those things at once.

Sure one can. The question is really rather whether one’s actions on all these are consistent and synergistic, or whether one’s undermining one set of actions with another. Oh, and whether the actions actually are helpful, of course.

Also, sex work is “problematic” only in the same sense that manufacturing is problematic: it sits at the intersection of multiple axes of oppression and is made invisible/marginalized by the kyriarchy. And since the…

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Nested Comments

If you hate nested comments, I invite you to bellyache, kvetch, complain, whine, and vent about nested fucking comments. Right now I’m figuring out how to change those settings.

Really? This is the default? Really?

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