Brittle Skillet

Sparks of passion and items of interest.

Posts Tagged ‘Human nature

Pantyhose or No: Like the Plague or A Girl’s Best Friend?

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PantyhoseI came across a blog post today that had me caught in a weird facial expression: half smiley smirk, half frowny confusion. On one hand, I was interested by the fact there were other women giving the question some serious thought—relieved that I wasn’t a lonely obsessive, concerned about the hip yet appropriate way to dress one’s legs. On the other hand, how much serious consideration does this question really merit?

In her post Why I Still Wear Pantyhose (Oh, The Horror!), Kate Evans-Correia is quite sure that there’s a time and a place for the hose. Confidently, she gives a friend no-qualms advice to wear, “something that looks bare, but you still have something on your legs to get a smoother look.” Sounds reasonable and logical given the planned event under question is in Massachusetts during October.

You’ve got to read the post yourself to appreciate the humor and the actual weight of the dilemma. Although I’m not particularly pro-hose myself, I do understand where Kate is coming from.

Keep going all the way to the bottom to see the comments too. I’m still amused in a secret society kind of way by the whole thing. Perhaps I’m just strange.

Photo by telethon

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.


Written by Julie Pierce

August 19, 2009 at 5:56 pm

The Good Critic: How To Critique

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By PresleyJesus

Everyone’s a critic all right. Sometimes that can be helpful, but most of the time it’s a drag. Especially when your a writer. Who are these people with their slicing comments and degrading suggestions? Why would someone actually say, “This sucks,” even if they don’t like it, or “Why don’t you just slit your wrists now?” It’s nothing but hurtful.

Writing is a process. It doesn’t always come out right the first time. That’s why we need feedback. It helps correct course and approach. But blatantly thrown rocks and knives do nothing but destroy us.

It’s not that we only want to hear the good things, but the difference between constructive criticism and a cruel blow is the difference between an improvement to a manuscript and a really crappy day, wherein we may want to slit our wrists.

So if you are ever asked for your opinion about someone’s writing, be thoughtful and truthful, but also be kind. There’s no need to say, “Well, my friend, you may want to stop with this writing fantasy of yours. Besides you don’t really have time for a hobby.”

Instead, why not suggest that you’re not the best critic for this job because the story is not generally the type you like. Or perhaps you could just smile and pick the one thing you did enjoy about it, like how cool the title is, or how well you like the font.

In her blog post from July 4, 2009, Anne R. Allen lays it out perfectly and offers great advice to writers everywhere, no matter what they write. Her suggestions of how to deal with a self-appointed critic are golden. Anne also tells us where to solicit a critique and where to avoid it. This is the good stuff.

Photo by PresleyJesus

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.

Written by Julie Pierce

July 25, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Sotomayor: Latina of Clear Judgement

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Poster by Favianna Rodriguez,

I vote “Yes” for Sonia Sotomayor! Listening to her responses during the questioning process of her hearing, I was impressed by the way Sotomayor remained calm and thoughtful, collected and deliberate no matter how ridiculous or heated the questions and remarks of the various senators became. This woman is a consistent thinker and is very clear about the difference between the rule of law (the stick by which every judicial decision must be measured) and her personal preferences and opinions.

Aren’t these traits exactly what we want in a Supreme Court Justice? A person who is publicly aware (by self-declaration) of her biases and the contrast between those and the rule of law — how perfect! Her track record of case decisions reflects a clear difference between her rulings and her biases, specifically in cases involving race discrimination.

Despite this clarity, there are some who are still clinging to and expressing concerns about her personal preferences regarding race and immigration policies. Out of a endless list of cases, there is only one case in which Sotomayor ruled against the white plaintiff in a racial discrimination case. Her ruling, which was unanimously shared by the two other judges on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, was in line with and supported by federal law. Sotomayor ruled by following the law, not by following her personal preferences.

The fact that the GOP continues to gin up concern about her personal biases is just silly politics as usual. Her personal preferences are really not the issue here. How does she perform as a judge? That’s the question. The answer is perfectly satisfactory: she follows the rule of law without prejudice.

Sotomayor hearings: The complete transcript, Part 1

Sotomayor hearings: The complete transcript, Part 2

Poster by Favianna Rodriguez,

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.

Written by Julie Pierce

July 25, 2009 at 5:53 pm

Teaching Our Kids Respect

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By g-hat

We must teach our kids respect. The state of our society depends on it. I’m not sure how or why, but our culture, in the main, seems to have left this lesson by the roadside.

Respect for authority and our elders and choices about what language is okay are important aspects of the bigger picture. But what I’m specifically targeting here is respect for self and respect for others. I believe that if these foundational aspects of respect are instilled from the very start, the other types of respect will fall into place.

I realize that I am making broad generalizations here, but these generalizations seem perfectly appropriate to the prevalent lack of these two types of respect within our larger American society today. CNN’s series Black in America offers great examples of how this segment of our population is addressing the challenge of respect in their own ways within the scope of their larger challenges to give their kids a fighting chance toward future success. But on the whole and across our communities at large, the opportunity and need for these lessons is greater than the response to them.

There is a group of people for whom the natural biological drive is to conquer and control the world around them, abusing resources, including people, to achieve their own pleasure or success. The self-selecting members of this Group A are usually, but not always, boys.

By contrast and in compliment, there is a second group of people for whom the natural biological drive is to nurture and support, accommodate and supply. The self-selecting members of this Group B are usually, but not always, girls. By nature, A and B are a perfect fit.

Specifically, and here I continue the broad generalizations, the lesson of society for the Group A member child is that he should make the world his own. Group A member children are taught that complying with parents or other authority is often a good strategy to ultimately get what they want and keep the waters calm. But ultimately, it is for the selfish execution of his own gain, not the cooperative gain, and it leads to the neglect of this child’s own inner moral checkpoints.

In general, members of Group B are taught to gain the positive attention and approval of others, to please others frequently at the cost of their own inner motivations. At some point in childhood, this lesson translates itself into the Group B member child turning these external motivators into internal motivators. This practice leads to the neglect of this child’s own inner voice and her inner moral checkpoints.

I am not suggesting that we deny nature, but rather work with it. The strengths and natural leaning of Group A members and Group B members are useful and good for the cooperative progress of community. However, the natural biological drives, instead of being enhanced by what our culture is currently teaching, should be consciously recognized as such, and then monitored and modified, redirected with intentional choice and an awareness of consequences.

Respect for others builds a foundation for compassion and deters against harming and exploiting others. Respect for self keeps our ears open to our own inner motivations and enables us to exercise a balance between nurturing and supporting others while nurturing and supporting ourselves. Both kinds of respect provide a mechanism of guidance from moral checkpoints that we, presumably, also learn along the way to adulthood. The first place a child of either group learns both kinds of respect is by watching the adults around him model it. Let’s all practice respect.

Resources that suggest how to teach and model respect:

Photo by g-hat

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.

Written by Julie Pierce

July 24, 2009 at 6:52 pm

The Expansion of Evil . . . and Good

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Is the world becoming a crueler more heinous place? As humans, are we becoming more violent and defensive? Is the divide between us and “the other” becoming greater? Or have we as a species made strides in the other direction?

I was having this conversation with a friend over dinner the other night, and I was shocked to learn that she is rather fearful that indeed we are becoming more barbaric and abominable. In my friend’s observations of the world through history, ancient and recent, she’s noticed a trend toward worse behavior; evil is on the rise. She’s sure that we are treating each other more brutally than ever. Have we learned nothing from the past?

While I agree with my friend that we can easily find many examples of sad scenarios and inhumanity throughout  the world around us, I was quick to point out that perhaps the world is expanding in both directions: toward evil and toward good at the same time. Also, it might be useful to remember that good and evil are often a matter of perspective.

I imagine that we are standing on a continuum that is continually moving out in two directions — directions of opposites — at any given time and in any given aspect. It’s a very basic idea that we know of one quality by distinction from its opposite. For example, there is no understanding up without the inherent understanding of down.

With this in mind, it might be useful for us to focus on the good side of the continuum. I like to believe that the good is expanding in balance with the evil; while the human race becomes more despicable, it also becomes more virtuous at once.

To help me keep my focus on the growing good, I read Ode Magazine and try to bring in something positive to every conversation I have. Some days I’m better at this than others. Wouldn’t it be great if we could have a consistently balanced view of reality such that we aren’t bogged down in the gloom and doom, nor are we annoyingly Panglossian with our heads in the clouds?

Graphic by Zeusandhera

© Julie Pierce and Brittle Skillet, 2009-2011.

Written by Julie Pierce

July 20, 2009 at 6:07 pm