Zumba & Gender

Zumba is the world’s largest dance fitness program. I’ve been doing it remotely since the start of the pandemic, actually because my mother runs a small class. I’ve also seen her participate in larger classes, where it’s clear that just about all of the participants are women.

I once observed that the exception seemed to be the instructors, who were much more likely to be men. I asked my mother if this was a common pattern. No, she said. It’s only that she personally preferred male instructors, because their classes tended to be less sexualized.

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It should have been a walking sim

Since getting into the habit of writing a bit about each of the games I play, I find myself using a catch phrase: It should’ve been a walking sim. It’s a way of praising the narrative and world design of a game, while playfully disparaging all the gamey obstacles they throw in your way. After all, these are human creations, the obstacles didn’t need to be there.  We could have just been enjoying the in-game rewards without having to work for them, only having to walk for them.

It’s also a slightly subversive thought experiment. What if we removed all the combat, the platforming, skill-based anything? What if we only had press w to move forward, mouse to look around, dialogue, environmental storytelling, audio logs, item descriptions, cinematics, choices that matter, and a dash of light puzzling to taste? Walking sims are so simple, surely it should be easy, right? We shall see.

Some of these hypothetical games may sound horrible.  That’s okay, just remember: they don’t really exist and can’t hurt you.

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Things that make vegetarianism hard

I’m flexitarian, that means that I prefer to eat vegetarian, but I don’t commit to it. I think there’s a good case to be made that eating meat is bad for the environment and animal welfare, but I don’t translate that into a behavioral rule, more of a guiding principle. Also I don’t really like meat that much.

I don’t really know enough about vegetarianism to argue about it, but my personal experience gives me familiarity with some of the pain points in vegetarianism–situations that make it particularly difficult to eat vegetarian. I imagine that committed vegetarians need to make major changes in their lives to get around these issues. But for someone like me with a very low level of commitment, it’s easier to just eat meat.

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Review: The Rift

The Rift is a short novel by fellow FTBer William Brinkman. It’s a fictionalized version of the feminist wars in skepticism, one where the skeptics work for the aliens. I was provided with a review copy.

The Rift book cover

I admit I’m not very familiar with Brinkman’s Bolingbrook Babbler, but I know Brinkman has been writing it since 1998, and that he has perfected a style of satirical fiction where real (often political) events are mixed with the fantastical. Like The Onion, you might say, but long form.  I also know that some of it is quite topical, covering issues in atheism and skepticism.

The specific focus on skepticism produces interesting results, where the skeptical movement is juxtaposed with the reality of the paranormal. It’s delightfully absurd, but also hints at deeper interpretations. It implies a dilemma: do you side with the skeptics, who conceal the truth even as they fight for it, or do you speak the unbelievable truth? It explores, in a metaphorical way, the faults of the skeptical movement—something that can be quite difficult to talk about in a non-fictional context, if I do say so myself!

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Origami: Fourteenth Stellation of the Icosahedron

Fourteenth Stellation of the Icosahedron

Woven Fourteenth Stellation of the Icosahedron designed by Daniel Kwan

Some years ago I went to an origami convention, and I thought I’d bring something big and flashy.  So I found this design by Daniel Kwan, decided an appropriate coloring, and the size of the final model surprised me.

No I don’t really know what the “14th Stellation of the Icosahedron is”, I just take Daniel Kwan’s word for it that that’s what it is.  I do know that to “stellate” a polyhedron means to extend the planes of each face outwards, beyond their usual shapes.  Wikipedia has a list of 59 ways to stellate an icosahedron, and this one seems to be arbitrarily designated the 14th stellation.

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