Sex Keeps you young

When your wife says, “Not tonight, honey. I have a headache.” you can tell her that an active sex life makes a woman look four to seven years younger than they are. So having sex frequently is good for everyone. (Assuming you are in a committed monogamous relationship.) This article says that having sex keeps you younger biologically and keeps you looking younger.

“Sex as beauty aid.” I like it.

Color of the Day

First it was brown. Then red. Then black. Today I thought I would dye my hair blonde, but my hair, and my hairdresser, disagreed. My hair had to be stripped. You can't just lighten black. Then color had to be added back on. My sister and my hairdresser chose a light brown/dark blonde color which, when put on my hair, turned it a medium to dark brown with reddish highlights. But at least it wasn't orange, like the stripped hair, or pink like my hair the last time I tried to go blonde. (It stayed pink for two months as I avoided dealing with the disaster of a strip stopped in mid-stride in order to attend my sister's wedding.)

The plan is that in a month, when my fragile hair has recovered from being stripped in public, I will go back in and get it highlighted so much that it looks like the highlights were the original color. I'm not quite sure how that will look.

I'd like it to look natural. The black certainly didn't. Not with my pale skin and freckles. But I don't want to go with my natural color. That's a beautiful silver. I'm too young to be silver.

Wooden Mirror

I saw a wooden mirror on Boingboing. That was cool. But it isn't why I am posting. It's 'cause the post said “using dated 1999 technology” the wooden mirror worked. Man, all my technology is that old. (My software is newer, but …)

If you want to see a wild wooden mirror go to boingboing and look at the pics.

Castro, Stalin, Kruschev= Conservatives

World Net Daily adds the information that the academics of the study felt that Castro and Stalin are conservatives.

“From our perspective, these psychological factors are capable of contributing to the adoption of conservative ideological contents, either independently or in combination,” they wrote, according to a press release issued by the University of California at Berkeley.

“Conservatives don't feel the need to jump through complex, intellectual hoops in order to understand or justify some of their positions, he said, according to the Berkeley news release.”

“Berkeley's Sulloway said the research is the first of its kind, synthesizing vast amount of information to produce an “elegant and unifying explanation” for political conservatism under the rubric of “motivated social cognition.”

The article goes on and on. It does not purport to add to the comments of the study, but simply by selecting which comments were quoted, the World Net Daily lets you know they are liberals.

This whole study, to use an old-fashioned expression, is horse hockey.

Two flaws with the Berkeley study

Fear and aggression

Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity

Uncertainty avoidance

Need for cognitive closure

Terror management

These are the characteristics which the Berkeley study on conservatives found were consistent among the people they studied. Guess what? They are consistent across all people.

This study was fundamentally flawed in two ways.

One, the study labeled as conservative anyone who the liberals did not like. Their “conservatives” include

Adolf Hitler (a national socialist)

Benito Mussolini (a socialist)

Ronald Reagan (a conservative republican)

Rush Limbaugh (a conservative republican)

Fidel Castro (a Marxist communist, which is a form of socialism)

Joseph Stalin (a Marxist communist)

You cannot simply decide that the people you don't like should be labeled as anything other than “the people we don't like.” This is a major flaw in the study.

Since academia is primarily a liberal group, however, I do not expect to see many rebuttals in the academic presses.

A second flaw with the study has already been mentioned. The five characteristics of conservatives. What they really are is five characteristics of people across national, cultural, and time boundaries.

Terror management: This was when, as a child, we were taught to hide under our desks from tornadoes. We would be as well-protected as we could be in school and we had the feeling that adults knew what to do. This is terror management. Turning on a night light for your two year old is terror management. Finding out from a friend if the girl will accept a date with you if you ask her is terror management. Using statistics to console yourself over a loved one's illness is terror management.

Need for closure: This is the reason we have funerals, wakes, burials. People need to say good-bye to the person they loved and realize they are gone. It is one of the main reason for open-coffin funerals in the US. It is the reason morticians make a lot of money for dressing and putting make-up on the departed. It is also the reason books say “The End.” And the reason that we have official divorces, even though you can have common law marriages.

Uncertainty avoidance: This is the reason we have contracts. Yes, I know what you said and you know what you said and we both know what I said, but we need a piece of paper which makes those things clear so that we can avoid uncertainty later on down the road. Ah-hah! Anyone who has signed a contract, including those four liberal scholars, are conservatives. It is the reason people write down formal job offers, so you will know you are really being offered the job. It's the reason why your child may ask you a hundred times, “Are we really going to go to Astroworld?”

Dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity: Okay. Dogmatism is one thing and intolerance of ambiguity is another. However, since the researchers themselves lumped them together, I can deal with one and the other will be knocked out. So, intolerance of ambiguity means that we want to know what you mean. That was the whole point of writing their research. They wrote it because they wanted to show “unambiguously” the character traits of conservatives. Intolerance of ambiguity is why people expect a yes or no answer to a yes or no question. If one of those professors has a student who writes a paper and tells the professor what is in the people but doesn't turn it in, that student will not get an A because the idea of the paper was good. The professors will not tolerate the ambiguity of the possibility that the paper wasn't really written. It is also the reason they sent out press releases to explain what their research said. They didn't want their study findings to be ambiguous to non-academics.

Fear and aggression: Here we go again, lumping two things together that don't go together. If this had been a conservative paper, the study would not even have been published. Who has never felt fear? Fear of failing, whether your doctoral defense or your first spelling test or your role as parent. If your wife is dying and you feel fear, does this make you a conservative? If you are afraid of heights or spiders or public speaking, are you a conservative? By this definition, that conservatives are those who have fear, the entire world is conservative. If that's true, these four academics ought to relax. They're on the same side as Hitler and Mussolini.

These two flaws with the study are real, relevant, and debilitating. The study is inaccurate because what it purports to study is not, in fact, what it does study. Therefore, any conclusions which the study draws are faulty and have as much likelihood of being right as a dart thrown by a first time dart player.

"Pinata of asininity"

PittsburghLIVE carried an article about the Berkeley study on conservativism.

A snippet from the article:

Anyway, Jack Glaser, one of the lead authors of the Berkeley study, acknowledged in a media release that a study focused solely on why right wingers aren't right in the head might seem “partisan.” But, he explained, there is a “host” of information available about conservatism and comparatively little about liberalism.

But why, exactly, haven't they studied why people are liberal? Perhaps it's because the profession thinks it's “abnormal” to be a conservative in the first place.

After all, psychiatrists study why people murder or why some people believe they're Napoleon or why they think Carrot Top is funny. But they don't study people who take showers. Why? Because taking a shower is normal, and therefore uninteresting. Perhaps it says something interesting about a profession that sees conservatism as so abnormal so as to be worth studying.

If you go back and look at the list of characteristics that define conservatism, you'll discover that it applies to liberals, too. Fear of ambiguity, a desire of cognitive closure, etc: These are human traits, not conservative ones.

Reagan, Limbaugh, Hitler, and Mussolini= conservatives

The study was conducted by four American university researchers, and its findings were reported in an article in the American Psychological Association's Psychological Bulletin, titled “Political Conservatism as Motivated by Social Cognition.” It purports to show psychological links among Ronald Reagan, Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Rush Limbaugh and other “political conservatives”

The enlightened professors concluded that certain psychological motivations characterize conservatives, including “fear and aggression, dogmatism and intolerance of ambiguity; uncertainty avoidance; need for cognitive closure; and terror management.”

This article comments on Berkeley's study of conservativism. It mentions that Nazis and Fascists were liberal socio-political movements. (I guess these four researchers missed that.) The following is from the article:

Let me give you a few other examples of the liberals' seeming inability to make intellectual distinctions. They seem too narrow-minded to understand that:

perjury, obstruction of justice and contempt of court are different from merely “lying about sex”;

likening Ronald Reagan and Rush Limbaugh to Hitler is the grossest form of hate speech they otherwise pretend to decry;

the desire to reverse liberal judicial activism is not conservative judicial activism;

one can favor action against Iraq without being a “neo-conservative”;

opposition to affirmative action is born of egalitarianism not racism;

advocacy of government-forced wealth redistribution is not synonymous with compassion, and opposition to it is not incompatible with compassion;

their championship of tolerance as the highest virtue is inconsistent with their intolerance toward conservatives, particularly Christian conservatives;

opposition to federal control over education is neither anti-children nor anti-education, but precisely the opposite;

the tax code can affect economic behavior such that marginal tax rate cuts do not result in dollar-for-dollar losses in revenue;

the terrorist threat of suitcase nuclear bombs does not obviate strategic missile defense (SDI) ? we continue to face multiple threats;

developing SDI is not an offensive gesture, but defensive, and should not be deceptively dubbed “Star Wars”;

America can attack Iraq without attacking all other despotic regimes in the world and not be guilty of inconsistency in its approach to foreign policy;

school choice will liberate and uplift minorities;

irresponsible gun control measures will cost, not save lives;

promoting “separation of church and state” often stifles rather than promotes religious freedom

Slumming in Genre

“Academics define the literary debate and have contempt for the genre [of science fiction]. You taint the dialogue when you violently hate what you discuss,” stated the purple haired woman.

“Like that Berkeley study on conservatives?” another panel member asked.

End of that discussion.

8-9-03 Con25

The snakeskins were blue and rode up her legs, over her hips, and way above her waist. Her ribs stopped the blue snakeskins abruptly and a little too late. Her high heels were open backed and sexy. They contrasted dramatically with the snakeskin slacks.

Even as I thought of writing the snakeskins down, the Dracula lady opened a side door. She drives a red Miata with a black convertible top. The top matched her outfit. Black high heels were topped with tight black slacks. Her blouse, a black fishnet which didn't even attempt to cover her shoulders, caught my eye. Some art, also black, dotted her shoulder and pulled my eyes away from the silver ring dangling from her nose.

The panel was four regular guys, left old, right young. But the woman with the purple hair dominated the visual landscape.

We were here as academics to discuss science fiction as a literary genre. And sci fi folks wonder why we (sf readers) have a reputation.

Sticks and Stones and Words

You know the rhyme “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” What a lie! Bones will repair, given time and minimal help. Words take a long time to get over and we don't really know the physics to make them go away.

I had a nightmare last night in which someone was telling me something I didn't want to hear. I think it was lewd and suggestive comments from someone. In the nightmare I was in a place where I couldn't move. Anyway, I started screaming. Woke myself up and lay there wondering what you should do when you can't get away from the person, for whatever reason.

My husband had a boss who cussed his employees out on a regular basis. He couldn't get away from that and still be gainfully employed there.

I was watching a movie last night which was too scary for me. My hubby said, “Don't be a wuss.” I can be a wuss if I want to. But I have found that scary things are MUCH more scary if I think they might conceivably happen to me. If they are just beyond my imagination, I enjoy the show. If the main character is a bad guy, I enjoy the show. But when the person getting hurt is someone who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, I kind of freak. Too much imagination and not enough control, I guess.

What are the worst words anyone's ever said to you? Are you over them? Or do they stick in your head and roll around in there popping up at the most inopportune times?

“You'll never be pretty.” “You can't do this.” Etc.


“Knowing nothing about fantasy stories and being unable to write a book myself, I am confident that I will be an indispensable book critic for you.” That's how my dad started off his critique. It made me laugh, which is a good way to start off with a critique.

I started a novel fourteen months ago. It's now totally written. I've revised it on a chapter by chapter basis and as a whole. There are still some things I want to change, but after a while it seems like it is a behemoth that is out of control. So I think I will quit were I am today and leave it alone for a week.

I know where I want the story to go, so I have been able to revise it quite a bit on my own. Also, my dad gave me a very good critique.

I am thinking more about revising because I am critiquing six stories/chapters for other people. Some of them are excellent. Some of them are strange. None of them are out and out horrible. Thank goodness. One of the stories is a chapter and I would like to read the rest of the book. Three of them are individual stories and all of those are a bit strange. One of them is “brain-warping.” When you read, you suspend belief. Well reading this is like suspending reality.

I tried to find something useful to say to each of them, beyond the easy grammar checks. I think I won't even mention those. They're on the work and they can read it themselves. When there is something really good, it is easy to say. When there is something really bad, it is easy to recognize and hard to say.

But one of these stories is just so weird I didn't know what to tell them. The story is well-written. There's a beginning, middle, and end. There's a major character and several minor characters. There's a problem and resolution. But it's whacked. The woman watches birds fly off with her children and then instead of running after them or anything, she feeds the damn birds. Everyone feeds the birds. There's no justification for it; it doesn't make sense. I was hard pressed to say anything useful to that person.

If you get a decent critique, you can revise easier. You know what did and didn't work for your audience. Even if there's only six of them. You get a sense for what is an individual problem and what is actually problematic in your work.

I teach and I'm having to critique papers all the time. Usually though they are non-fiction and the students have more of a vested interest in what I think and less in the words they put on the page. In creative writing it is the other way round.

E's BDay list

Blogs are the new refrigerators of the world. We can post stuff up here we need to remember. You can all read it when you come by “my house.” And I don't have a piece of paper in the dump reminding me what presents to buy.

E will be 12 this month. His wish list is as follows:

Wireless Game Cube Remote

Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

D 20 Modern (bk)

Warcraft D&D (bk)

Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne

Advanced Wars 2

Game Cube Mobile Monitor

My comments:

remote, we already have one

he borrowed the game and didn't like it cause he got stuck

he reads this every time he sees it, so I think it's a good choice


I have no idea

What is this?

No way. I am not letting them unhook from the TV.


One of the things about writing is that you need someone to read your work. I don't mean you want it published and read, although you do. I mean you need someone to read it and tell you what's good, what's bad, what's close but not quite there. That's a critique.

Yesterday I got a four page critique on my book. I was expecting one from my brother, who reads scifi and fantasy all the time. However, it is from my dad, who never reads those things. Some of the suggestions he made don't work because he doesn't know the outline of the second book, but some of them were good. I am in the process of incorporating them now.

Today and tomorrow I am reading six pieces of works or whole works, if they are short stories, and writing critiques on them myself. I am going to ArmadilloCon25 on Friday for their writer's workshop. Most people would have read these much earlier, but I am a procrastinator. I am always afraid they are going to be horrible and I am not going to know how to suggest improvements. They've never been that bad, so I don't know why I think that.

I just read one that I would love to read the rest of the novel. I hope she has it finished and isn't on the first chapter like I was last year.

Challenges Still Waiting to be Overcome


Okay, I obviously figured them out enough to get a list going. However, I don't know how to edit the title of the list so that it says “homeschool” and I am almost afraid to try anything for fear it will undo what I've done. (Managed that twice while getting the list up as it is.) Truthfully, I guess I am too afraid to try, since I'm leaving it labeled “school stuff.”

H-Town Blogs:

Since I live in Houston, I thought I would get my blog listed on H-Town blogs. I went and joined. But I don't have a clue how to list my blog there. I am hoping that the email they send will explain it. Otherwise I'm going to have to ask my programmer husband for help.

RSS Feeds and Mailing Lists:

I am not sure if those are the same thing or not. I am figuring not, since I know I don't want an email telling me when a certain blog has updated. But I tried to accept/take/get the RSS feeds for some blogs off blog-city and wasn't able to do it. I thought I had done it. It looks fairly straight forward. However it wasn't.


I was kidding about the serial killers in my last post (I hope). However, you don't really know who is going to commit murder and who isn't.

I teach college. One semester I had a class of about 20 students, freshman remedial English. I had 17 year olds for whom English was a second language and a 65 year old lady who was just too wacked out to be able to write a coherent sentence. Then I had a lot of 18, 19 year olds who just hadn't gotten it the first time and needed someone else to practice on.

If you had told me that someone in that class would commit a murder by the end of the year, I would not have had any trouble identifying her. It's the 65 year old post-menopausal lady who is in love with a married man and thinks God is going to kill his wife and give him to my student so that they can repopulate Israel. (Apparently there weren't enough problems in Israel at the time.) I mean, ask for a murderer and that's who I would have picked out.

That's not who killed another teacher. The teacher was a young woman. Just like I was at the time. For some reason, he didn't murder me. Maybe my car wasn't nice enough. I definitely did not have enough credit cards. I didn't have any credit cards. For whatever reason, I wasn't the one my student murdered. I am very glad for that.

We had company

Tonight we had company. You know how you tell your kids not to give out their address to people on the internet? We just had folks over for dinner that my husband met on the net.

We had a great time. Well, I had a great time and I know my husband enjoyed it. Hopefully they did too.

My youngest son did ask why we gave our address out to someone on the net. Bad example. But so far it was fine. If they turn out to be serial killers, though, you'll have to read about it in the paper.

A Record!

I've lived in this house for three years and one week. That's a record for me. Growing up my family moved every two to two and a half years. I guess I was stuck in that mode.

I went to college and transferred to a less expensive one. Went back to the more expensive one. The less expensive one. Back to the more expensive one again, this time in the dorm again. Then out of the dorm again. Summer school in Austin. Summer school in San Antonio. Graduated.

A year and a half as a secretary in Geneva, Switzerland. Then back to Texas. Living with my folks (awk!). One year teaching school on 1960.

Two semesters doing graduate work at Sam Houston State U. Back to my alma mater for a year and a half to finish my masters. Then on to Indiana to start my doctoral program at Purdue. Two years there.

To an old hometown so my husband could go to grad school. Two years in a duplex. Two years in a house. Then we moved to NC. One year in an apt. One year in a townhouse. Then we moved to Austin. Two years in an apt. Two years in a house.

Then we moved to Houston. Three years. I've been in this house three years. I am 41 years old and I've finally lived in the same place for a whole three years.

Too bad this is the first time in my life I have moved anywhere and haven't made friends with anyone right away. Forget right away. If aliens came and took me away, only my husband's bestfriend's family would even notice I was gone.

Anyway, enough of the pity party; I have lived in the same house for three years. The down side to that, which is what got this blog started, is that I have now moved the furniture around often enough that it is in the best place for it and unless I get some new furniture, I will de-optimize its placement if I move it again.

Previous Computer-Literate Challenges: Mastered

Some of the things I couldn't figure out how to do in the past, but have since mastered:

1. Make a list of bookmarks that actually showed up on my page. I spent a couple of hours one day organizing my blog into what I thought were bookmarks, so that if you wanted to follow a single strand of thought “homeschooling,” “strip clubs,” “teaching,” “God,” you could. However, when I went to look at the entry page, there was nothing. When I went back, there was nothing. I to this day do not know what I did wrong.

You will notice there is a list called “school stuff” that has my blogs on it. That's because I tried again a while ago and managed it. I don't know what I did differently, but I do know that blog-city had changed the software to make it easier. Thank you, Alan, et al.

2. Change my theme design so that it didn't look like all the others on blog-city. I tried this three or four times in the beginning, when blog-city and I were both new to blogging. I am not sure what finally got through my head. I think I just kept pushing new buttons until I finally figured out how to do what I wanted. Unlike some other bloggers on blog-city, I don't change it often. I liked the bright colors and still thought it was easy to read, so I left it alone.

However, I am the kind of person who moves the furniture around every 6 months (Well, I have been. I think I've found the optimal placement now, which means I won't move it again because then it will be less than optimal. Maybe we'll have to move. We have lived in this house longer than I have ever lived in a single place in my life.–3 years.), so I should be re-designing it soon. The real reason I haven't is that I am not sure I'll be able to figure it out again.

Computer-Literate Challenged Blogging

If I weren't married to a programmer, I never would have blogged. Even married to one, I have a lot of challenges others seem to think are equal to turning on a faucet in complexity. It's a bit of a pain to want to do something and not know how. It's even worse to have to admit to your computer programmer husband that you're not even sure it can be done, but you still want to do it if it can.

I'm not sure how you become a geek. If I could do it without learning C, or one of the derivatives thereof, I might be able to. Do they have a class? I routinely check the Leisure Learning catalog and the community college catalog, but those classes are for learning to use programs. “Microsoft Word” hello? A class that teaches you how to use the menu items. I admit to not being that challenged. I can use all the programs I have. Some not as well as others, but still.