Reviews for Desiderata
N. R. Nazario chapter 1 . 5/10/2018
I understand your position that an egalitarian approach might be insufficient to address issues when the starting point is not equal. However, when we approach the collective disadvantage, we must take care not to ignore the impacts on individuals. Considering one entire population as advantaged can make us justify the boost to the other, but on an individual level, you might actually end up repressing people because they are not part of the disadvantaged group.

There is plenty of evidence for privilege. I am not arguing that, but my case is that when we apply collective measures, we affect every member of the population, even those who are not privileged. I grew up in a lower middle class family. As such, we couldn't afford cultural enrichment events such as theater and museums. I had several friends of a similar socio-economic background who were entered into a program because they had bad grades. The program gave them help in improving their grades, but also provided many "enrichment" event, which brought them to museums, university tours, planetariums, plays, parks, and even got them priority of a Washington DC trip. I was told that I could not go with them because I had "good grades". I went ahead and intentionally lowered my grades by flunking a few tests, so they'd add me to their support group, but when they did, my regular teacher made a case that I didn't belong, and pulled me back out.

I know school grade is not a protected category, but the point is that being part of a privileged population, the platform kid if you will, limited me from participating in those opportunities that were given to my friends who had bad grades. Did they need the support these activities provided? Maybe they did. Was I undeserving of participating? Maybe I was. However, the argument I'm trying to make is that applying measures on the basis of a population can hurt people at the individual level.

You get enough stories of individuals that have been disadvantaged by boosts given to the "other" population, (and add a sprinkle of bogus or embellished stories to the mix) and the group starts feeling justified in calling you out for reverse discrimination and that whatever efforts being made are attempts to hurt them. The perception that equality movements are really trying to impose a new kind of domination is what generates resistance against them and galvanizes extreme groups to fight, or make questionable choices in the name of self-defense or self-preservation.

Somehow, a balance needs to be reached. Equal access to opportunity needs to be provided without depriving those who are "too poor to afford these opportunities on their own, but too rich to qualify for help" (using quotes because I'm not applying it to money alone, but to other disadvantages as well).

Boosting entire populations based on prior patterns of discrimination might seem like a noble idea, and there is some merit on it, but it needs to be approached with care not to hurt the individual.
hannah.rozenwheeler chapter 21 . 5/4/2018
Good, except too much adult language. I know that you tend to use it, but please keep the swearing to a minimum.
Hannah chapter 12 . 4/30/2018
Awesome job on this essay! I really enjoyed reading about the different types of Asians. Before I read through this, I had no idea that there were various kinds, though I knew some Asian parents were very strict. Just because someone is Asian, that doesn't necessarily make them geniuses or A students. That is just a stereotype.
Hannah chapter 8 . 4/25/2018
I agree. I support the LGBT community, as I am bisexual myself. I can't decide if I should get a boyfriend or girlfriend, yet hope that whatever happens, he/she will love me for who I am and not despise me for how I behave. While I was reading the part of your essay about racists, I thought about how I could change for the better (I have been thought of as racist since I was in fifth grade). I hope the world eventually changes and nobody hates anybody else anymore.
ghodges137 chapter 36 . 4/25/2018
Sounds like someone's been bit by the acting bug. Hope you break a leg out there - when's opening night?

I never cease to be amazed at how theater brings out the most interesting things in people - shy, socially-awkward people are sometimes the best actors. And sometimes the nicest people can play vile antagonists really well too.

Take care and good to see you're loving the college life.
Hannah chapter 7 . 4/16/2018
Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed reading this essay despite not knowing what the big words meant (my reading level is 7.2). I also loved learning about your situation as a junior going back to freshman year. I had a similar experience in my senior year of high school. After flunking English the year before, I had to take 10th, 11th and 12th grade Special Ed English. It hurt, but I felt similar to how you felt. Keep writing and good luck!
hannah.rozenwheeler chapter 4 . 4/13/2018
Beautifully put! I agree with you. Tomboys and girly-girls aren't the only types of girls out there. Even when you were younger, you realized that you didn't have to conform to those standards. If there had been more Asian-American inspired dolls, people in media, etc. would you have sought them out? I enjoyed the essay overall but loved the third paragraph most. I love manga, too. I like how we both enjoy Asian culture and writing.
hannah.rozenwheeler chapter 3 . 4/7/2018
I enjoyed this essay very much. Even though you and your friend Lily are different, you have some similarities as well. Thanks for being so nice about the fact that you two don't agree and for not saying anything rude about her in your essay. Your English teacher sounds like a nice, curious man; hopefully you two get along both in (and out of) for sharing! :)
hannah.rozenwheeler chapter 2 . 4/3/2018
I enjoyed this essay very much. My favorite part was when you stated: "There is no need to listen to what other people prefer-do what you want to, and that is how you can be happy with yourself. Don't worry about appealing to society's interests" (paragraph 14). That is a very important message that tween and teen girls in this day and age should keep in mind. Nobody should feel like they aren't good enough or that they should do what everyone else is doing, unless what the individual wants to do is strange/odd/weird.
ghodges137 chapter 24 . 2/10/2018
This is another good article - and I feel opens a difficult question:

I suspect the root of these disparities between men and women in these societies may be from a cultural perception - that families are defined by patriarchal rules, or that women are viewed as "inferior" in some way that behooves them to have a male guardian. Sometimes these very cultural barriers are encouraged or enforced by the women in the society - Bride Kidnapping in Kazakhstan comes to mind, with the bride's future mother-in-law often hindering the unwilling bride's escape in favor of her son getting a wife. And when it comes to gender identity, the problems can get even worse.

It is a difficult line to walk - is it OK to judge a society poorly when it forbids women to own wealth/property, hold a job, choose to stay single, or even be respected as an equal in the eyes of the Law? Regardless of incentives, you will find disparities in pockets of humanity when they embrace this disparity as a part of cultural heritage and identity, or as a divine right or commandment. In a world where Multiculturalism is celebrated and protected, do we draw a line when cultural expectations conflict with social justice ideals? At what point is it OK for a society to allow a woman to abdicate her rights? I still struggle to answer that question myself.

Even in first-world countries, these cultural perceptions can still be found. And disparities between the genders still exists in wages, job placement and opportunities, and in legal decisions. A generation after the rise of Feminism in the USA, there is still debate about its effectiveness and its future. Can we even hope for a sustainable solution to gender disparities without total social upheaval?

Thanks, as always, for sharing these thoughts.
ghodges137 chapter 23 . 2/10/2018
This is a well researched article. Thanks for sharing.

There has been a lot of research going into extended space flights of humans and how to maintain survivability. We're also advancing our understanding of the risks as we continue to explore space as well, like how radiation exposure risks may not be as severe as once predicted (this is being hotly debated right now among health physicists). There was even a NASA research project to look into an all-female team of astronauts to Mars to save on costs because women don't require as much food for the same work output level as men - but it turns out the savings were fairly minor. And there will never be a shortage of volunteers - even Bill Nye still applies to NASA to become an astronaut, but he keeps getting turned down.

But we may still rely on robots or probes for the riskiest missions first, if for no other reason than to get some basic information that could help prepare for manned missions.

Thanks again for sharing these thoughts. This was an interesting article.
ghodges137 chapter 19 . 1/10/2018
Thanks for the clarifications. As I stated in some previous reviews, when there is a clear distinction between your platform kid and trench kid, your description of the pros & cons of feminism v. egalitarianism makes sense in terms of what can produce the best possible dynamic for reversing the disparities.

I also wanted to follow-up on your comments about reverse discrimination - there is an argument that it is also good and practical for White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs) to support ending a pro-WASP societal bias (which can be applied to any society that has an issue with socio-economic disparity):

First, there is a long-standing secret shared among people of color that (affluent) whites, particularly men, don't really earn their place in society like everyone else does. They are unwilling benefactors of a positive selection bias - in promotions, legal decisions, encounters with police, even grading exams and performance reviews. So long as this privilege exists, the spectre of doubt will exist in the public eye with the accomplishments of every white male - i.e., if they weren't white/male/etc., would they still be (fill in the blank)?

Second, it is a generally verified truth that Talent is not bound to any ethnic background, financial status or gender. When people of color are denied opportunities to express their talents in favor of (presumed less talented) whites because of an unfair selection process (i.e. privilege) then EVERYONE loses out on the benefits of that talent. The recent movie Hidden Figures showcases NASA's black women employees in the early part of the space program. Where would the USA be today without their help at that time?

Third, it is a matter of Principle! How can anyone who believes in altruistic ideals like social equality - WASPS included - stand idly by and allow a biased system to go on when they have the power to do something about it? This is a BIG criticism of Thomas Jefferson - he wrote the famed phrase "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal..." yet owned slaves and made a fortune off them (and some say he had other benefits as well). If that isn't a blatant display of hypocrisy, then what is? It is not just a matter of helping the disenfranchised - it helps EVERYONE, both the living and those yet to be born, that we have a fair and just society and that our creeds and convictions are not just window dressing to make ourselves feel good. People aren't being fooled.

(Sorry Marina, I'm not following the spirit of your advice from here on)

Further, let me say this loud and clear to everyone reading this: I am a white cis-male, and I voted for Obama too (in BOTH elections) - but that doesn't mean I'm not a racist or prejudiced. I didn't vote for Clinton in 2016, but that doesn't mean I'm not supportive of feminist ideals (I voted for Jill Stein BTW, and she was the best choice IMHO). Please stop using your voting record as a sole testament to your ideals - to be fair, it's says a lot, but doesn't say everything about you.

If you support social justice and equality, do it every day. Most of us have our "dark places" in our hearts, but we don't have to act on them. Be fair - be honest - be reasonable - and live by the creeds you claim to honor. No excuses - no exceptions.

I believe most people make rational choices more than once every so often. But for the few that are skewing the system (intentionally or not) - please reevaluate your thoughts and actions and what effect you make when you turn a blind eye to what can clearly be demonstrated as unfair for others. One's convictions can be judged by the investments and sacrifices they make in their time, treasure and efforts. Being compassionate and calling out unfairness, however you coin it, is not being anti-white or pro-white, misogynist or misandrist - it's just being a good human being.

OK, I'll stop my rant now.
Bob Story Builder chapter 19 . 1/7/2018
Fourth question reminded me of Plessy v. Ferguson. Well written.
ghodges137 chapter 1 . 1/6/2018
I finally went through your essay on Feminism vs. Egalitarianism - you make some strong arguments both by volume and by content. I generally agree with the logic of your statements (although I'd still prefer Egalitarian, see below) - and I believe it is the reasoning behind Affirmative Action, a policy that I generally support. As a cisgender white-anglo male who's native-born in the USA, I recognize that I can be denied a promotion or a job or a special opportunity just because I am those things while we still have disparities in our schools and workplaces. C'est la vie, I say - I have to put my money where my mouth is.

But, let me play a bit of Devil's Advocate...

First, not everyone is going to agree with the definitions of words like "Feminism", "Black Lives Matter", "Egalitarianism", and even "Socialism" for that matter. For example, some would argue that the word Feminism is defined as a form of female-centric chauvinism or reverse-sexism. Of course, you are not advocating that men should lose rights - but the word Feminism has taken on a different (i.e. negative) meaning with different crowds and that alone can shut down a productive dialogue. I blame a lackluster education system and biased news outlets for the vast levels of misinformation on these topics.

Second, where do we draw the line on what's fair? Is it fair that there are college grants reserved only for women? Is it fair that people with Down Syndrome are underrepresented in universities? Is it fair that boys have higher car insurance premiums than girls? Is it fair that we have to pay for our own healthcare in the USA? Part of our political divide comes from how we define what is and isn't fair (e.g. the debates between Progressives versus Libertarians). Yes, there are some who'd say that platform boy deserves more apples because he had the foresight/parenting/finances/etc. that gave him the platform - why is that not fair, then? Why doesn't the trench kid blame his lack of foresight/bad parents/poor luck or skills with money/so on instead of just being envious of the platform kid and wanting some of his/her apples?

And - if we're going to debate on what's fair, then how do we decide that? Or who? You? By what metric would you use to determine how many apples platform kid SHOULD give up to trench kid? I'm certain platform kid would give you the ugliest glare as you took his/her apples, one by one, as you try to decide when it's enough - and trench kid will glare at you if he/she feels you didn't give him/her enough.

Now, if I may, offer why I'd still prefer Egalitarian...

First, I think there is a general consensus that Egalitarian means "as fair as fair gets", regardless of how we draw the line. It doesn't seem to have the baggage some of the other terms carry. We may never agree on what is fair for everyone - to be honest, I am certain there is no such thing. But, you can argue that if all parties are getting roughly equally (dis)satisfied or balanced vis-a-vis their gifts/predispositions/etc, then you generally have achieved an Egalitarian system. It doesn't mean platform kid and trench kid MUST have the same number of apples regardless of their situations, but that trench kid and platform kid (and the rest of society via our political/judicial system) can look at each of their baskets and can say that it isn't too unreasonable of a difference. Fuzzy, but I'm still looking for an objective measure myself - so far I have to resort to the "I know it when I see it" rule, and I suspect that may be the only one that counts in the end.

Another way to square the circle can be like this: perhaps platform kid and trench kid can make an arrangement - platform kid will focus on the highest apples, and the trench kid can focus on the lowest apples. Each can (generally) cover different areas with the same efforts - the problem is that there needs to be an incentive for platform kid to agree. This is where good governance needs to step in (e.g. balanced laws on taxation that give incentives as well as punishments). The other half is to have an educated public. Trench kid needs to understand that everyone wins when he gives trench kid a break - because helping trench kid now by not being a jerk with the apples will pay off when trench kid helps platform kid collect strawberries. I'd call that an egalitarian way to handle the situation. That's also Good Karma in action, too, if you believe in such things.

In the case of Affirmative Action, the argument is that there is a known bias in the system that favors one group over another (of course, some will debate this). But the numbers don't lie - so long as one group is disfavored by a statistically significant amount (and some will debate this too) then Affirmative Action can be justified. And sadly, I suspect it may have to be perpetual - even if I could wave a magic wand of social equality and make all wages equal, all housing equal, and all job placements equal, you'll STILL have the biases there. Some people just don't like certain others, and for reasons only they feel are legitimate. Whites and Asians are willing to pay a higher rate in their rent/property taxes/etc. to be in a neighborhood away from Blacks and Hispanics. So long as (I believe) we carry our innate tribal instincts, we'll always have to have Affirmative Action.

And, I think one can argue that Affirmative Action can fit in an Egalitarian system, because you are trying to make it absolutely fair and equal. It is literally a reverse-bias, like a "back EMF" on a motor wanting to drive in one direction or another.

Sorry that went on so long. This touches on a big topic, and your preference in terms only churns up a deeper problem with our society on what the real problems are, why we have them, and what can actually fix them.
Bob Story Builder chapter 17 . 1/5/2018
I remember the smoking and millions of cigarette butts in the gutters but don't remember everything smelling like smoke maybe because I got use to it. I do agree with the gentrification although I don't remember seeing too much but again I went to Paris in summer of 2013, so things will have changed since then. Yeah the Eiffel Tower is not tall enough of a landmark to guide by. I do remember the security and felt safer for it but security has probably gotten stricter since I was there. I drink way too much carbonated water nowadays, but flat water was all my friends and I drank while there. On subject of phones I just used my smartphone as a camera and nothing more because I don't need internet when I travel when I can read! Would like to go back to Paris and see how much has changed and actually explore more of the city.
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