Friday, December 28, 2007


Mosch and I saw Juno last night - a movie about a smart, quirky teenager who gets pregnant. I thought it was pretty fabulous, with consistently smart dialogue, unexpected humor, and a lot of warmth.

At first, I was concerned that the main character (played by Ellen Page) was going to just be too much - too amazingly quirky and cool in a way that even the best high school kids aren't. Instead, I really bought into the character and fell in love with her almost immediately. And I loved Michael Cera here (similar to how I loved him in Superbad). All of the characters were great, actually.

There are times when you think the movie is going to take potshots at easy targets (yuppies, for instance) doesn't quite, or it does so only gently.

Ultimately, the movie is very cool, but not too cool. It's clever but not in love with cleverness. It doesn't idolize coolness or cleverness above other qualities.

Go see this movie, or put it on your Netflix queue.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Wrong But Not Ridiculous

In the car last night, Ed and I were discussing the blog I Blame the Patriarchy by Twisty Faster. It is a favorite read of mine even though my style of feminism is pretty far away from Twisty's in many ways. For Ed, the blog goes wrong in many ways, and he appreciates it less than I do.

Twisty could be reasonably accused of holding that all heterosexual sex is rape, a position that strikes most people as ridiculous. It's an idea that is often used as a straw man. But we were talking about this last night and I wanted Ed to understand why I see this argument, like many on Twisty's blog, as wrong but not ridiculous. (I can't find an instance of Twisty actually arguing that all heterosexual sex is rape, and she may not actually espouse that position, but it doesn't actually matter for the purposes of this post. You could read this delightful post about anal sex, or this one proposing a legal solution to rape to get a general idea.)

I argued it to Ed this way. Is consensual sex possible between a slave and a slave owner? Even if the slave wants it? You might answer yes, but surely you can see how it's possible to answer no.

Consent is really a continuum, from the enthusiastic and informed "yes" of free, sober persons, to actual forced sex. At some point, we draw a line and say, "This isn't consensual enough." I think sex with a willing but drunk lover is fine, but sex between a teacher and a horny 16-year-old is not consensual enough for me.

So, slaves and masters: consensual enough or not?

Assuming you can see this point, it's not such a stretch to say that insofar as women are subordinate to men in a culture, sex between the two is less consensual than sex between free people. If you don't think there's real consensual sex between masters and slaves, do you think there is consensual sex between husbands and wives in Saudi Arabia? What about 1940's America?

What about present-day America?

For me, the question about present-day America is easily answered: sex between willing adults is plenty consensual for me these days. It's not really a close thing for me at all. But Saudi Arabia is.

That's why I think the position (which may or may not only be held by strawfeminists in any case) is wrong but not ridiculous.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Looking Forward to "Sweprac"

Next semester, I am taking my Senior Experience course, which is Software Engineering Practices (aka "sweprac"). It's the big project class. Last semester, I took Software Engineering Principles, which is where you (theoretically) learn about the things you're supposed to do in sweprac.

I kind of am and am not looking forward to the course. I've historically hated group projects, like most people, and project management seems like a kind of horrible thing.

At the same time, not only is it with a professor I like, but I really did enjoy the first half, even the (bad) group project that we did. I love doing software design in a group. I love working in a code repository with other people. I like writing requirements. I basically like just about everything about it.

I think my reluctance towards the class is more a sort of slight intimidation than it is about not enjoying what we'll have to do.

I did email the professor lately, to see how his current Principles class (which will be the feeder for my sweprac class) is going: most your sweprin class going to pass? Are there any women in that class?

I'm just curious who I might see in sweprac next semester. Should I be afraid or very afraid? :)

and he wrote back

Most of the class should pass. No women. Some good students. Issues are (as expected) with respect to working as a "team", but awareness definitely raised during this semester. Should be interesting. :)

You'll no doubt be hearing (reading) a lot about this next semester, so be prepared!

Some Kind of a Tetrahedral-Figure?

I love this Saint Gasoline comic.