Something something masculinity

I am not sure how I should title this post. I’ve worked on it for a few weeks, and I haven’t gotten it into a coherent piece. It’s thoughts in progress, a bit rough. But this is a blog afterall. So lemme just punk this out:

I appreciate Christine Emba’s article, from a few months ago, in the Washington Post about men and masculinity. I think it’s an important conversation to be had — men* are not doing well, in the sense that many lead unhealthy and unfulfilling lives and don’t do well for society and their relationships. Of course, this paints with a broad brush, and exceptions confirm the rule. I put an asterisk behind “men” because Emba and her interviewees, despite hemming and hawing, nodding and handwaving in all directions, really talk about straight cis men, not men more generally. That’s fine with me, as this is a group of men that tends to experience (and create) the problems noted above. I am part of them and thus am (I think) poised to join the conversation, and there is a need for conversation and (self-)reflection — and discernment. Also, I think it’s important to recognize that women, gay men, people with nonbinary and trans gender identities are not doing well either, and that they are usually still worse off in a patriarchal, modern, industrialized society. It’s just that men have to liberate, or at least modernize, themselves as well if society is to move forward in a productive, (excuse the buzzword) sustainable, and (gender-) equitable way.

I don’t think I can offer a coherent essay at this point, so here are only a few disjointed thoughts.

Continue reading Something something masculinity

Roll in my sweet baby’s arms

This was a nice surprise. A classic song that Nelson had recorded before, this time with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, in the early 2000s. I don’t like Nelson’s voice too much, but here, at around age 70, he sounds gritty and cracked, weathered, relaxed. What makes this recording special to me is how perfectly easy and off-beat Nelson and the band make the song sound. The instruments are stressing the twos and fours, and as a result, Nelson seems to be off the beat as well, off balance, dazed out, floating over the accompaniment. He’s not going to work for the railroad, but the mail train is always present, rolling through his dream of rolling in said baby’s arms, who, sweet as she (he?) may be, doesn’t want to pay Willie’s bail.

On Apple Music

On Spotify

Why the genAI?

Maybe I simply need more time to learn the ins and outs of generative AI, but every time I try to ChatGPT, Google Bard, or the fancy new Bing, it I find a waste of time. Trying to write prompts that generate something close to the output that I need takes more time than just doing the search or writing whatever I need to write. Maybe I have to explore further uses — outlines, lesson plans, or the like — but so far I am underwhelmed. Are these tools essentially for people who are illiterate? And, at the danger of sounding like an old fart complaining about the decline of civilization, have we come to the point where people are so inarticulate in their writing, have so little ease in communicating, that they prefer to spend hours with slick but bullshitty computer tools instead of just saying, in writing, what they mean to say? (If so, we, as teachers, have ourselves to blame, don’t we?)