On (in)validation

Confession time: I’m not quite sure what people mean when they call emotions, preferences, choices or identities valid.

I know what it means for conclusions: a conclusion is valid if it follows logically from the premises. “Socrates is mortal” is a valid conclusion to draw from the premises “all men are mortal” and “Socrates is a man”: it correctly combines the premises and makes no assumptions not given in the premises.

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Lazy Link List

Do you ever consider writing about a particular topic, only to discover that your position has already been summed up perfectly by someone else? I get that all the time. So instead of writing my own posts, I’ll just share a few other people’s today.

I share a lot of values with Ozy from Thing of Things, so it’s no surprise that I frequently agree with their writings. Today, I clicked through to their post on the gender wage gap and found my position on choice reflected perfectly:

The feminist position is that these choices are not made in a vacuum. Of course, any individual woman can choose to become a nurse or a stay-at-home mother if she so pleases; neither I nor Barry nor the National Organization for Women has any interest in forcing women into careers they have no desire to pursue. But we don’t view the fact that this is the product of a choice to mean that there is no injustice, simply that the injustice is probably located somewhere else.

To pick an extreme example, consider a slight variant on the trolley problem. A runaway trolley is going to hit five people on the trolley tracks, and you have the ability to switch it so that it hits you instead. You do so. Would it make sense to say “there’s nothing unjust about this situation! It would have been unjust if someone had deliberately switched a trolley so that you would be hit by it, but you made the free and independent decision to be hit by the trolley yourself, so there is nothing morally wrong about this situation.” That would be silly. It is true that you have not experienced the injustice of a person deliberately hitting you with a trolley. But you may have experienced the injustice of poor trolley safety practices, or a philosophy-themed supervillain going about tying people to tracks in order to set up moral dilemmas, or similar. Your free choice in a situation does not mean the situation itself was okay.

Over on tumblr, Alison left a strongly-worded comment on a video about racism in the gay community. I’d quote the best party, but I’d just end up quoting all of it. Go read it.

And in a reblog chain spawned by a blog post on monogamy and polyamory, wayward-sidekick writes about preferences promoted and influenced by culture, again in an unquotable but very readable way (the relevant part starts at “Not everyone”; it’s not necessary to read the rest of the reblog chain to understand her post, although if you’re interested in the topic, of course you should feel free to do so).





DBT workbook – part III (1): Objectiveness Effectiveness

Part III of the workbook starts on page 19 and is titled “Interpersonal Effectiveness Skills”. Sounds like we’re getting to the good stuff now!

The next page splits effectiveness into three parts: Objectives Effectiveness (getting what you want), Relationship Effectiveness (getting and keeping a good relationship), and Self-Respect Effectiveness (“keeping or improving your self-respect and liking for yourself”). Because this blog post got long enough on Objectiveness Effectiveness alone, I’ll only deal with the introduction and this kind of effectiveness here and save the other two for the next post.

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Categories & tags

In a move that has taken me completely by surprise, I have categorized and tagged all my blog posts in the span of less than 24 hours.

The categorization scheme is definitely not set in stone, and the tags are somewhat messy because I haven’t been able to decide whether I want to stick to the original, descriptive function of tags or use more “quirky” tags of my own. The former approach has the benefit that it allows other people to find stuff I’ve written by tags, and to know by sight what a tag actually means, but the drawback that I have to decide which content of each post is relevant enough to tag, and that I’ll accumulate a lot of tags over time. The latter approach allows a looser tagging policy (if I decide to throw lots of different things together under the tag “bananas are made for butts”, who’s to tell me that’s wrong?), but loses some (or even all) informational value.
So right now I have a hybrid system of some unique(-ish) tags and some boring old normal ones.

Anyway, here’s a handy guide to help you in case you find my system confusing!

The categories:

  • Becoming better
    This is a category for posts about various attempts of mine to improve myself, build better habits, fix brain bugs, troubleshoot social interactions, and generally improve my mental or physical health.

  • Blog Meta
    Pretty self-explanatory, really. Promises to post more, excuses about why I haven’t done so, challenges, posts about what to expect, etc.

  • DBT workbook series
    In which I blog about a Dialectical Behavior Therapy workbook I found online.

  • Gender and related phenomena
    Gender (cis and trans), gender relations, feminist stuff, and anything else I feel fits into this category. (Probably also sexuality if I ever post about that.)

  • Skepto opines
    In which I muse about stuff I know little about that has little or nothing to do with me, including media, social issues, communication, and whatever else strikes my fancy.

  • Stories of my life
    The category for posts in which I talk about something I’ve experienced and analyze various details in hindsight.

    • short stories & updates
      Short stories from my life buried in the middle of other posts, updates about things that have been going on in my life and such. (Probably will not be used in the most consistent way, because I’m not exactly sure what to count as short story.)

  • The ACDC
    The acronym is short for “awkwardly circumscribed dialogue chronicles”, a (rather civil) back-and-forth between me and a trans-exclusive radical feminist who has objected to the term TERF (hence the awkward circumscription). Enter at your own risk. (Posts in this category will not be categorized or tagged any other way so people who don’t want to read them can avoid them more easily.)

  • Welcome to the zoo
    My category about political events and happenings. The category name stems from Greek philosopher Aristotle’s description of humans as “political animals”.

The tags:

Self-explanatory tags (“music”, “abortion”, etc.) will not be described here, just custom ones.

  • fucking technology how does it work
    Tag for everything I write about failing electronic devices, programs I can’t handle, and anything else to do with technology, positive or negative.

  • my food is problematic
    Tag for anything to do with food (and my relationship with food), originally a Firefly quote.

  • relationship sailing
    Everything I write about my own relationships to people. (Maybe also commentary on relationships in general, if I post some.)

  • transgender adventures
    Catch-all for anything transgender-related, adventurous or not. (Most things trangender seem to be adventurous to some degree, but I’ve spent too many hours in waiting rooms and/or lines to think all are.)

  • tsuyoku naritai
    Literally translates to “I want to become stronger” and is an alternative name I considered for the “Becoming better” category. Ultimately I decided against it, because it’s not exactly informative, but I still wanted the sentiment in there somewhere, so most of the posts in the category will be tagged with this. If you want to know more about this, go here.

If you have suggestions for improvement or would like something tagged I’m not currently tagging (out of interest, to avoid it, or for any other reason), let me know and I’ll consider and/or do it.

Twenty posts in twenty days: the review

Yesterday concluded my twenty days of blogging in a row. It feels like it’s been much longer, to be honest: it has already become a habit. Multiple times today, I squirreled away stray thoughts “for today’s blog post” before remembering I didn’t need to write one, usually with a slight feeling of disappointment, which I view as a very good sign.

So here I am, writing one anyway!

Starting out, I was afraid I wouldn’t have ideas to blog about every day. This fear was partly justified: sometimes I really didn’t have ideas, and ended up writing short, boring posts about mundane, boring stuff.
Which is great! This blog doesn’t feel like a blog for high-quality, well-researched, well-written content anymore, it feels like a collection of random ramblings about random topics, which is exactly what I wanted. Blogging has become less of a daunting task and more of an actual recreational activity. The thought of needing good posts is one I kind of shrug at now: well, too late to have only good posts, so fuck it.

I was also afraid I’d feel too pressured by the time constraint. Surprisingly, that wasn’t really an issue: while I did hear the clock ticking sometimes, and eventually had to decide posts uploaded after midnight counted, the deadline didn’t feel too threatening, and it was a great help. I couldn’t wait around for good ideas, or carefully plan each post: if I had no worthwhile ideas, no structure, and not as much editing as I would have liked, well, random ramblings had to do, so I just put some down and threw them online without thinking too much about it. And sometimes they actually developed into unexpected and somewhat interesting directions. (Or at least I think so.)

Sadly, it did not help with any of the “big” posts I’ve been putting off. I mostly felt like I had too little time for them anyway, so I ended up focusing on the more urgent thing and not working on anything else at all.
I still want to get to them eventually, though. I also have the DBT series to continue, and maybe one or two ideas that went unused to write about.

I’m thinking about continuing the challenge going forward, or modifying it a bit to see what happens – maybe write four blog posts a week, so I’ll have more time to work on longer ones? I’m not sure I wouldn’t just use the additional time to procrastinate, though. And I do have some other stuff to do as well.

We’ll see what happens, I guess.

I also feel like I should make categories, start tagging stuff, and archive this whole mess somehow, because with all the new posts it has become too chaotic for my liking. Although I could also use the opportunity to tweak my theme a little (or a lot), and that makes it a whole big project…
And tagging and organizing stuff is complicated anyway: thinking of and committing to a good categorization scheme is hard, and renaming and retagging is mind-numbingly boring. (In related news, most of the files from my old laptop are still a mess, now stored in folders on the new laptop which are aptly named “from backup and still unsorted”. Incidentally, they in turn contain lots of older folders with names like “old stuff”, “miscellaneous”, “other” and such.)

Ah well. Maybe my lowered inhibitions will extend to the categorization scheme, and I’ll just throw my posts into big, vaguely-named piles and call it a day.


DBT workbook – Part II

Today’s post starts on page 13 of the DBT workbook (here’s part I in case you missed it) and deals with section II, “Core Mindfulness Skills – Taking Control of Your Attention and Thoughts”.
(It also prompted yesterday’s post about mindfulness, which I started to write in this one, but split off eventually when I realized it had gotten quite long and had little to nothing to do with the workbook.)

Continue reading “DBT workbook – Part II”