August 28, 2006

What Makes A Man?

Category: Social — Cranky @

A real man is in touch with his emotions. He’s sensitive, and not afraid to cry. He enjoys a sad, touching movie from time to time, and his eyes fill to the brim when confronted with puppies or orphans. An orphan holding a puppy… well, the emotional wellspring can only run so deep. Women yearn for such a man, and men who cannot let themselves fully experience their emotions are disdainful of them because of repressed jealousy.

Personally I think it’s a complete load of horseshit.

I don’t understand why so many people look down on traditional roles. I don’t believe a man should be emotionally distant when it comes to family… quite the opposite! But neither do I think he should burst into tears when his daughter gets a gold star on her homework. He should be proud of her, and she should know it! But no tears. Good times for a man to cry include when his child is born, when his daughter is wed, and when his dog dies. A man shouldn’t cry because Meg Ryan’s latest romantic comedy is reaching its conclusion.

I think a man should be emotionally strong. He shouldn’t come apart at the seams over insignificant things. He shouldn’t bottle things up… but if he has to have a “moment”, he should do it alone. When everything goes to hell, the woman should look to the man for support, and if he’s crying in the corner, well… If you have to cry in front of your spouse, do it… but don’t make a habit of it. It’s unmanly.

Extreme sensitivity and emotional openness are traits women love in their homosexual guy friends – not their husbands. I talked with five women I know about this subject. When asked, each said they wished their boyfriends/husbands were more sensitive. Then I asked, “Would you want a crier?” and each responded quickly with some variation of “Hell no.” Responses like that show an interesting dichotomy at work.

I think men should be more in tune with the thoughts of their mate. They should know when she would appreciate flowers, when something is troubling her, and what acts of kindness matter the most to her. Perhaps it would be easiest to say that I think men should be receivers and not transmitters. There’s nothing unmanly about showing her you love her. Romance is very manly, and so are public displays of affection. A real man hugs his family.

But don’t break down over silly stuff. Be a man.


August 24, 2006

It's Official – Pluto is Demoted

Category: Science And Technology — Cranky @

Some time ago I wrote about the questionable status of Pluto as planet. Well, after a lengthy and vocal debate, the scientific community has settled on a new definition of “planet” that relegates Pluto to “dwarf” status. We now have eight major planets.

The final text of the definition of planet:

A planet is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

During their formation, planets sweep clean their orbital area, adding that matter to their bulk. Pluto, being an object in the Kuiper Belt, never cleared its neighbourhood, and so fails the planet test.

Pluto is a dwarf planet:

A dwarf planet is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, (c) has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and (d) is not a satellite.

The science lover in me is thrilled by this decision on the part of the community. It’s clean, simple, and direct. I would have been very disappointed if Pluto had remained a planet. Science is about organization and structure, and sentiment has no business in scientific classification.

I’m even happier that the competing definition failed. For a while it was looking like the new classification would allow not just Pluto, but it’s moon, Charon, to be titled planets, along with many other objects.

You see, there is a common centre of gravity shared by a planet and its satellite. In the case of the Earth and its moon, that common centre of gravity lies within the Earth. With Charon and Pluto it lies in the space between. Charon would have qualified as a planet, while our moon would not. This silly system was rejected, and rightly so.

As we improve our understanding of the universe, our old definitions must change. When they no longer serve us, we should let them fade without regret.


August 21, 2006


Category: Social — Cranky @

On a service door in a mall near my home is a sign. It says, “Authorized Personnel Only”

I began to think about that sign. It’s interesting that the vast majority of people simply take the message at face value. It’s commanding, and daunting in design and execution. It looks official, and unquestionable.

Really, though, the sign is not an order. It’s a request. A plea… nothing more. “Please don’t come in here”. What happens if you go through it? Nothing significant. You might run into somebody who will ask you what you are doing in the restricted areas. That person may even ask you to leave… but what, really, can they do? I went through that door, and wandered around for a few minutes. Nobody asked me who I was, or what I was up to.

I left unquestioned. There wasn’t any difference between the authorized side of that door and the restricted area – such a restriction isn’t a concrete entity. It’s just an idea. A line in the sand is just a line in the sand, unless somebody with a gun is watching it.

Nearly all power is illusionary. The only true power is that which can be maintained by force. The police have real power. The mall security guard has no power whatsoever, and if you walk away from his “authority” it crumbles into dust. We grant other people the right to have power over us because it helps the world work a little better.

If you didn’t wait in line for a popular movie, and merely walked past the door staff and sat down, they might verbally harass you for a moment, but again there’s nothing they can do, and nobody making six dollars an hour is going to bother you for long. We allow other people to retain power because anarchy helps nobody. We wait in lines because it causes confrontation and friction if we don’t. We allow our bosses to exercise their power over us because we don’t want to have to find a new job.

The point I’m trying to make is that we agree to be subservient. The world works on the honour system, and there is nothing preventing us from walking all over these polite conventions. But why throw sand into the machine of society? It’s having a hard enough time running smoothly.

I do, however, think that everybody should know when they are agreeing to be controlled, and when they aren’t. Power allowed is fine. Oppression is not. Western governments are powerful enough to become dictatorships within a very short time frame, and it may be necessary to take back the power we have granted them