December 30, 2003

dressing gender attraction

I was reading normal over the Christmas break and thinking about why some people feel compelled to make massive changes to their apparent gender - so it fits their internal one.

And I started to wonder why people get so attached to the way they appear outwardly. I'm pretty calm about it at the moment, but I've worn 7 dresses in total my whole life (and none of them more than 5 times). I've only owned 3 (currently 1).

So why did I care?

I think I cared because of the way it invited people to treat me. If I wore pretty pink sandles and white cardigans it seemed to invite people to find me dolls and talk about more dresses - none of which I was even romotely interested in.

Whereas, if I dressed myself in corderoys and t-shirts, it seemed to invite people to find me cars and cowboy outfits - which I was rather stuck on.

In some ways they way other people does define your life. Yes, you can make opportunities - but being offered them is so much more civilised.

Anyway, C has an opinion that you can define butch as what femme is attracted to and vice versa (which doesn't help until you've decided what one or the other is, but never mind).

Which suggests to me that a critically important facet of why we create our outward appearance of gender is how we want other people to see us. And even more importantly, specific people to see us. So, if I am a straight man, I will want pretty ladies to find me attractive *as a man*. And even more so, as a specific type of man (maybe sensitive and arty, maybe strong and protective - who knows!?!). If this desire to be seen in a particular way occurs in a woman, there is a somewhat uphill battle to bring the two together.

For some people, being found attractive is enough (I don't *care* what I look like, I just want every Latino boy to drop at my feet!!!). For some people, it will be very specific. For some people it may be horribly conflicted or complicated (Yes, I want you to see me as macho *and* cute - they are *not* incompatible!).

And we use the widely available cues and clues to construct the look that will get the right reaction.

(I am currently wearing a pair of British Army suplus shorts and a size 10, boy's, camoflage, flanellet pajama top. I have no idea what this says about me.)

Posted by carla at 08:56 PM

December 26, 2003

driving people crazy

I spent the first 4 hours of Christmas day driving down from Napier to Wellington. Driving on Christmas day is an odd experience. Everyone is somehow more themselves, and almost noone is doing their usual driving pattern.

Consequently some people drive very slowly on the main road. Now you'd think that in the spirit of Christmas they'd pull over occassionally and let other people (who are travelling up to 50k/h faster than they are) past.

But no.

I saw some really invigorating passing manouvers. Including one charming moment when two people tried to pass the same van at the same time. Well, actually Ceri saw that. I was too busy watching the motorbike which was attempting to pass something that was passing something else at the same time.

Sadly, the van had just passed a rest area where they could have pulled over and let everyone past.

Though why anyone would be in a hurry to get to Woodville I have no idea.

Posted by carla at 06:48 AM

December 24, 2003

christmas, the sport of champions

I (very) recently rang the partner of my partner's sister to confir on gifts. We had been instructed by said sister out-law to confir to avoid difficult overlaps of presents.

and I discovered that we both bought her the same two presents (a gas lamp and a picnic blanket).

which requires the use of the term "D'oh" much.

Ceri is good at present shopping. If Christmas gift giving were a sport she'd have a good clutch of medals by now.

Not so much in my case.

So far this Christmas I appear to have managed one really good present and a couple of okays. This isn't a bad showing, as there are still a number of events to compete in, but discovering that the high profile event of family out-law has already been scuttled is somewhat depressing.

Your own family (while occasionally tricky) is, at least, a known entity. Like a national sport, the audience pretty much knows the team's chances before they go on the field, and the preperation has had a chance to be adequate.

The out-law family is a whole nother story. More like fencing or greek wrestling, attempting to produce a medal prospect is very much a dark horse kinda deal. They might win, but there is a lingering feeling of having no idea why.

And somehow, all this analogy with sport makes me wonder why everyone has to participate in this activity - event the grossly untallented and underprepared. Like insisting that everyone have an innings batting at cricket or cooking pavlova before the festivities are over. I mean, I can understand why the people who are good at it insist we all have a go - but why put the rest of us through the embarrasment, indecision and final feeling of futility. It just isn't fun if you aren't any good at it. I'd much rather do the dishes.

in a marginally more positive note, mum did squeak out loud when i gave her the two large stripy blue plant pots I bought for her in October.

merry christ's mass all. hope your presents are all unforseen successes.

Posted by carla at 02:05 PM

December 23, 2003


Perhaps the best thing about hanging out with frail and aged people is the constant affirmation that you have superhuman powers. Such as:

* being able to lift heavy loads (like 6 bags of shopping at once)
* being able to see tiny objects (like telephone book writing)
* being able to complete complex tasks (like putting cds into the sterio)
* being able to remember what is happening this afternoon

Much love to the good people of Napier.

Posted by carla at 02:08 PM

December 21, 2003

arwen and the groovy cricket shirt

there isn't actually any connection between these two items (other then time and my brain). but hey... I tried (not very hard).

There has been some comment that Liv Tyler made a sad, sad comment that she liked Wellington because she got to be a special movie star here, instead of just a movie star. This would be a hell of a lot more egocentric, except that she is one of the few people who has grown up in stardom. On account of her dad, a medium level of stardom has been normal to her her whole life. And then she comes to Welly and gets to be a big star - like most people feel if they make it in Hollywood at all.

Besides, I like the idea of hijacking the loyalties of Amercian stars.

Tho possibly not for $400 million.

The New Zealand cricket team have found an unexpected level of styliness in their shirts. Normally these things are very utilitarian and are made of white polyester (or something equally banal).

This season the fabric has ferns woven into the fabric. On account of the whiteness of the fabric, the ferns appear silver. They are the best bit of sports fashion innovation I have seen in some many years. Yay! (I think the NZers have also done quite well in the batting).

Lastly, yes, I do think $400 million is an exorbitant amount to subsidise a film (or even 3 films) by. The only long term benefits I can see from the whole shebang are:

1. We proved that producing a very large scale film in NZ was possible. Okay, so you have to ship in lots of people, but it can be done.

2. The NZ landscape has been used in an international story (albeit a Western one). This has been done sympathetically with the natural shapes, colours, light, and diverse locations. Peter has done a proper job of making our landscape that we see everyday into a star in its own right. I am deeply moved by this, and consequently I don't care how much it cost.

3. It gave NZ a win against a rather unforgiving world. I don't actually care whether or not an oscar is won by a NZ film I'm just amazed that there are real discussions about a NZ film getting one. It gives us stories to tell ourselves that we can make it after all. Of which there are precious few.

On balance, I think these things were cheap at the price.

Posted by carla at 01:06 AM

December 18, 2003

the justice applicable in this case

I'm curious that Mr. Bush is spouting soundbites about Saddam Hussien now facing the justice he denied to many millions of the citizens of Iraq.

Given that their failure to sign up to the international criminal court means that the any justice the Iraqis get from America regarding American soldiers would be on American terms.

If you are going to suggest that facing justice is a good thing, perhaps you should support methods by which the actions of your citizens can be held to account.

But of course, American justice is the *real thing*, so it is different for them...

Posted by carla at 07:52 PM

December 13, 2003

unfavourite things

If I'd done my homework last week, I'd know how to approach this...

Things that don't work because they are badly designed. (This is actually a *huge* topic. It includes contracts, governments, toasters, tramping gear, software, shopping malls...)

People who are nasty or destructive without cause. (This is also a huge topic including everything from people who break up relationships for fun to cops who enforce laws subjectively and maliciously to superpowers who invade other countries.)

The third windy day in a row. One or two I can take. The third just makes me grumpy.

Snafus, fuckups and stupidity on my part. Scary, embarrasing and vexing.

Panic attacks. Nothing like being on a rollercoaster driven by a madman with no breaks, no safety belt and no padding.

Combined illnesses (e.g. Hangover and period pain. Cough and broken rib. Sprained ankle and diarrhoea.)

Bad timing (e.g. racing to a meeting to miss the meetee by 1 minute).

Posted by carla at 01:03 AM

December 11, 2003

slavery, not

National and Act are currently attempting to say that the proposed amendments to the ERA amount to slavery.

Are they really that incredibly stupid? Slavery involves the labour resource being owned by the person who wants to use said labour. They can do what the hell the like with it, even to the extent of being able to kill the slave and suffer no penalty other than a loss of a capital asset. They can terminate the 'employment' contract at any time.

To my mind, legislating that employers must honour existing employment contracts when they purchase a company is quite the opposite. Rather than controlling labour, it controlls those who wish to use labour. And I do not think you can argue that it makes slaves of the employers - as the only impact on them is on their wallet. If a crime must be alledged, theft would be more apt.

At this rate we will have left-wing governments for the next 50 years.

Posted by carla at 10:29 PM

December 09, 2003

dyke eye for the het girl

okay, so I like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. They manage to keep the bitchyness tempered with what appears to be genuine warmth and knowledge about their area of expertise. And I'm glad that queer guys are getting accepted to the point where their charactatures are working for them.

But what about Dyke Eye for the Het Girl? Somehow, doesn't seem like such a good idea. And it makes me wonder if that is just my own internalised homophobia, or if there is some special quality about queer women that means they would make bad viewing.

I wonder what they'd cover. Simplifying life somewhat (I assume), such as how to not put any product in your hair or on your face and still look good. Tools and hardware rework (that could be fun). Care of your pets. Um. Stuff.

Except for the gardening segment. Which could be very cool (including an excellent barbeque segment).

Posted by carla at 07:35 PM


ELY (n.)

The first, tiniest inkling you get that something, somewhere, has gone teribly wrong.

(from the Meaning of Liff, by Douglas Adams and John Lloyd)

I mention ely (partly because it is an excellent word) and partly because I have a small ely that I am a bogan. Probably something to do with the black jersey, and the Meatloaf and Stevie Nicks cds on my desk.

Perhaps if I close my eyes and hold my breath it will go away... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... ... .. . . . . . .. .

Posted by carla at 12:53 PM

December 08, 2003


to the Listener online :)

Posted by carla at 09:44 PM

December 04, 2003

rejection massively reduces iq

There are a couple of scientists who have found a strong correlation between rejection and a drop in ability to reason. References: New Scientist, acfnewsource, and Prof Jean Twenge.

I'm waiting with baited breath for someone else to replicate the results.

If there is a causal relationship between rejection and lowered intellectual performance, the implications are very far-reaching. The impact of racism and sexism must be huge. The classic, "Yeah, I really like, you. Pity you're so smart" comment becomes a whole lot more sinister.

Also, I wonder what might mitigate the effect. Quite a few geeks remain smart despite being harrassed for it at school. Do they have an internal mechanism for retaining their intelligence despite being rejected? How long does the effect last? Would you have to be rejected in class to effect your scholastic performance, or would it be enough to be hassled at home that morning? Would God's love help? If so, is that one of the reasons the Judeo-Christian-Muslim religions have done well? What if people misunderstanding your culture is read as rejection by the subject?

A huge pile of research indicates many offenders have reduced cognitive function (especially when they offend). Is societal rejection on release increasing their chances of making crap decisions and reoffending? Would that be another place where religions preaching love and acceptance of others have a cumulative benefit for the societies where they are followed? Was Christ trying to give us a competative advantage?

Given that behaviour modification does seem to work, and it involves punishing people for fuckups, is one of the success factors the ability to reject the *behaviour* rather than the person? Is this part of the reason that the most effective ratio of positive to negative responses in behaviour modification programmes is 12 positive to 1 negative?

Wheeee! Question Girl strikes again!

Posted by carla at 11:43 AM

December 02, 2003


Very cool. Well, actually, kinda warm, which was nice.

Very old, but with enough of a youth population to keep in this century.

Good quality museums and art gallery. Though you'd be forgiven for thinking that local Maori didn't exist, most of their Tangata Whenua collection coming from the North Island.

Fantastic and bizzarre architecture, including a prison, barracks and courthouse, two of which are still in use. Properly Victorian driveways. A smattering of odd modernist buildings.

In its own way, as strongly impacted by the gold rush as Napier and Hastings have been by the earthquake.

I also discovered that my great, great grandmother was a "good conversationalist" and her two eldest sons had a lot of pictures taken of them.

And one of the most beautiful pieces of sculpture I've ever seen. Rangi and Papa (before Tane got in the way). Utterly peaceful, utterly absorbed in each other, almost eternal. Perfectly balanced. Lively, warm and human. It stikes me how seldom I've seen art about happiness in relationships that doesn't depict dramatic passion or mother/fatherhood.

Posted by carla at 08:36 PM