Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Gay, Gay, Gay

I've decided that I'm going to be available for romantic relationships to women only for the foreseeable future. It's a very practical decision: I am sick of always starting out on unequal footing with the opposite sex. I'm sick of fighting against millenia worth of conditioning with all the enthusiasm I can muster, only to find that I'm still inevitably discriminated against - and unfavourably - because I identify as female. I deserve more than that.

Women are better lovers anyway. ;o)

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Making Work Pleasurable

How can we like our work more?
(I recently read an article which measured when people were happiest throughout the day. For employed people, they experienced a high upon waking, which was dispensed with by the time they started their work at 9am or so. They then had a second high when they were at home after work, with time to themselves to do the things they loved.)
Being employed is something that is expected of us, and brings many people a sense of belonging, or, at the very least, material prosperity. I want to know 'how can we make it more enjoyable?' because making the world more pleasurably engaging is within our reach, and will change our culture for the better.
Any ideas? Here's a few of mine:
o} Work less, and take more breaks while on the job, to increase performance.
o} Encourage a playful approach and reward boldly creative ideas
o{ Collaborate with other companies - in a different field, better yet. Imagine what a newspaper team could learn from a biotechnology team, or vice versa? (At first they might seem barely connected, but actually we are all connected in a plethora of ways, one which we don't always appreciate.)
o} Collaborate with workers in different countries. Have a conversation over Skype with someone who can show you a different side to life, halfway around the world! Let the ideas circulate, share your skills, be open to both teaching and learning simultaneously.

If we wanted to, we could make the word 'work' obsolete, through a transformation of occupational culture which makes 'play' the key concept to creating new things.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Conflicting Messages

Yesterday, if you had asked me who I wanted to be like, I might have given you the name of Richard Florida. This extremely gifted American academic, private consultant and public speaker is versatile enough to be known as an urbanist, economist, sociologist and more. His Twitter profile reveals that he's a guitar player, so perhaps I should call him 'the rock star of economic theory.'

Looking at Richard's CV, he has taken a pretty traditional meritocratic approach to career development: The last bit of study he did was at Columbia University, a PhD. He's also a senior editor at The Atlantic.

So imagine my surprise to read Tweets today and discover this one of his:

"I have always love to discover and learn. But I never liked school."

I like him even better now. And I've never been more confused about whether to grin and bear a traditional university education or to continue making my own path and hope it will all work out.

(?)

*

I had a dream that I was locating a spot on the map just off the east Norwegian coast. That it was in and around this area that I would find it rewarding to study at a university.

My research into studying in Norway as an exchange student led me to find this para:

The academic profile of the University of Bergen has two major focuses. One is marine research - the city of Bergen is considered to be one of the largest marine science centres in Northern Europe. The other is global development research, and the university has earned a distinguished reputation both in Norway and abroad for its excellent, result-driven collaboration on research and education with universities in developing countries.

Is my intuition telling me that Bergen would be the perfect placement to explore both the oceans and the land in complementary ways? There's something about Bergen that draws me...

Striving Towards Equality

It has struck me that there are a lot of similarities between how some sectors of the US are treating Barack Obama, and how some sectors of Australia are treating Julia Gillard. Both heads of state are what we currently call 'minorities' - an African-American and a woman. They also both challenge the previous dominance of Caucasian males in the foremost position of leadership in their nations, making them recipients of thinly veiled discrimination from the conservative elements in society.

In the US, Morgan Freeman recently said on CNN that the Tea Party movement is racist. From the way I've seen John Boehner and most of the Republicans acting, I believe that racism is a widespread problem in the GOP as well. While Republicans would be quick to deny accusations of racism, their actions speak louder than words: their efforts to undermine Barack Obama's leadership have been so extreme, that I'm surprised that more people aren't heralding Morgan Freeman as an innovator of public opinion. But then, racism is under-acknowledged as a problem in American society, something we must be aware of if we seek to change the world.

In Australia, Julia Gillard has been criticised from the beginning for being an atheist who isn't married to her partner and has no children. These delineations have been used to attack her political agency, and de-emphasise positive and progressive actions taken. Murdoch's News Limited has run stories like this to muster up as much antipathy towards her as possible, as well as continually overemphasising misogynistic Opposition leader Tony Abbott's aggressive anti-Gillard criticism. The pronouncement of Australian misogyny is now becoming public, though, like US racism is under-acknowledged. 

What is the bigger picture here? We are at an important place where old, established norms about who has power and who is creating policy for everyone else, are being challenged and subverted. In Aus & US, the jilted former status quo will do everything it can to resist the opening up of the political sphere to as many types of people as possible. They are used to calling the shots, and for all the lip service to fostering equality and celebrating diversity, now that we have seen these societies demonstrate a more inclusive approach, the limitations of these discourses, and the fears and prejudices that circulate among and even underneath them, have been brought to the surface.

As unfortunate as it is that good people have to suffer for histories of discrimination, the election of these leaders and their ability to cope under pressure and continuation to fight for some important progressive goals is a good sign. It shows that American and Australian people are slowly but surely re-imagining what authoritative leadership means. Their perception of powerful people is expanding. It may be that these new leaders are suffering from a full spectrum of deeply ingrained prejudice, but this is the beginning of the long march towards equality that will improve all aspects of these societies. It already is, as young disadvantaged black males are seeing a brighter future for themselves and refraining from crime in the US, and as young Australian females are inspired to aim and achieve even higher, now that they have a new role model.