September 18th, 2006

ozarque figure

Recommended link; theists and atheists, interacting...

I am so impressed by Doug Muder's essay "Red Family, Blue Family: Making sense of the values issue" that I went to Google this morning looking for what else he might have written that was available online -- and immediately found "Meeting at Infinity: What Theists and Atheists Can Learn From Each Other," at .

This is a sermon embedded in a blogpost, and right before the sermon Muder talks about going back to his hometown of Quincy, Illinois. Which got my attention, since one of my favorite memories from my childhood is the stories my mother and grandmother used to tell me about taking the riverboat up the Mississippi from Louisiana, Missouri to Quincy, Illinois to go shopping. Scroll down a bit in the post and you'll come to the "Meeting at Infinity" header.

I'm looking forward to reading the post on "Red Family, Blue Family" that starcat_jewel has planned for this week, and am indebted to her for posting the link to it in the first place.
ozarque figure

Yet one more Doug Muder link....

Because the link to "Red Family, Blue Family: Making sense of the values issue" is a link to a PDF -- and some of you have expressed serious distaste for PDF links -- I went hunting for a non-PDF link to it to post here; Muder's work is posted all over the Net, and I was reasonably certain that that essay would be available elsewhere. What I found, however, was something else entirely: a sermon by Doug Muder titled "Red Family, Blue Family: What to Make of the Religious Right," at . It covers roughly the same material as the other article, but goes about it differently. Recommended.
ozarque figure

Shapeliness and shapelessness...

Thanks to all of you who've been sending me alerts about the recent flurry when a fashion show barred extremely thin models from participating. (See, for example, "Models Flunk BMI, Get Spain Fashion Boot," by Daniel Woolls -- at .)

I've now read a batch of articles commenting on the incident, and the story pattern seems to go roughly like this:

1. Report what happened. Briefly.

2. Throw in a chunk about how happy all right-thinking rational adults are to see somebody actually try to do something about the skeletal-models-only ethic at long last.

3. Throw in a warning like this one:

"But pear-shaped females should not celebrate too heartily, for the leading names of world fashion are showing no sign of following in the Spaniards’ footsteps."

[In "Skinniest models are banned from catwalk," by Fran Yeoman, Carolyn Asome and Graham Keeley, at,,3-2349467,00.htm .]

(Notice that the opposite of twig-shaped females is pear-shaped females. Which demonstrates how few normal women the journalists who wrote that article have seen lately.)

4. Finish with instructions for figuring out whether you [You The Female Reading The Story] would also have been too thin to walk that Spanish catwalk.

I'm not ready to do any hearty celebrating about this. It got the Spanish show some publicity -- which I assume was the purpose of the move -- but I don't think for one moment that it signifies any sort of trend. It goes with the bias against the way that women who age "naturally" look. I don't think that our culture is going to give up its obsession with tall rail-thin female Terrans who look like they're permanently eleven years old any time soon. [This obsession doesn't seem to me to fit too well with the hypothesis that an attractive woman is one who appears to be prime breeding stock, but that's a different discussion entirely; never mind.]

The evidence that being extremely thin is likely to shorten your life has been around for decades; it hasn't changed anything. The evidence that the final result of chronic dieting is weight gain rather than weight loss has been around for decades; it hasn't changed anything. The evidence that the obsession with thinness leads to life-threatening eating disorders has been around just as long; it hasn't changed anything.

We're not going to give up our obsessions about this until we've matured enough as a species to stop judging a person's worth by that person's appearance.