Iron Filings - 80
November 1, 2023
Cold Iron -253
Iron Filings - 80
For those of you wondering about last month's Cold Iron – the surgery gave me a new total right knee. For some time I'd been hobbling along with my femur going south and my tibia going north. Not very painful until recently, but awkward as hell. The surgery went well, but the recovery takes time and it's only recently that the pain has truly diminished. That's at least three new knees in my immediate family so I'm hardly an outlier. I do think we are fortunate to live in a country where these things are possible and affordable (thanks, Medicare!).
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I'm having a little trouble with the phrase "artificial intelligence." Artificial suggests fake or not real, and of course much (not all) of what comes out of our devices is real, reliable, and accurate. I thought "non-human intelligence" might work, but then it occurred to me that there's nothing in our devices that wasn't put there by a human, or manipulated by a human. What fascinates me more than anything, though, is that we have this fantastic new creation that can potentially revolutionize how we process information – and nobody really seems to understand it or how it works or what the ultimate consequences of using it might be. Of course people probably thought the same thing when the first automobiles were produced.
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Do you understand what's happening with Hamas and Israel? Of course you don't. Neither do I.
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Arkansas Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders has released a list of forbidden "woke" words along with the proper expressions for Alabamans to use (I don't make these things up):
a. Rather than "pregnant people" or "pregnant person," use "pregnant women" or "pregnant mom."
b. Rather than "chestfeeding," use "breastfeeding."
c. Rather than "body fed" or "person fed," use "breast fed."
d. Rather than "human milk," use "breast milk."
e. Rather than "birthing person," use "birth mom."
f. Rather than "laboring person," use "birth mom."
g. Rather than "menstruating person" or "menstruating people," use "woman" or "women."
h. Rather than "birth-giver," use "woman."
i. Rather than "womxn" or "womyn," use "woman."
I have the feeling that most Alabamans won't know what in the hell she's talking about.
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Which reminds me – we've had some interesting discussions within the family (an amicable group) about various LGBTQ issues and those discussions have not been easy. Pretty much all of us lean from the center to the far left, but that hasn't made things any easier. We struggle with things like "gender fluid" and "binary" and "pronouns". The beginning of such discussions might sound easy: Okay, someone's born one sex or the other. But the minute you introduce such notions as "boy" or "girl" or "male" or "female," you introduce a lot of cultural baggage, and, most importantly, keep in mind that culture is constantly changing. The problem is that when we assign such terms to a child we're also laying on certain expectations, expectations that simply might not match up with what the child is. When little Ralphie likes being garbed in dresses and skirts and ribbons and bows we think it's cute. But when big Ralphie exhibits the same preference we frown and cluck (or worse) and it's not clear why. It does sound weird to speak of Ralph as gender fluid or binary, but mostly it means that gender is not particularly significant to Ralph, whether in his personal life where his persona might be traditionally masculine one day or traditionally feminine on another day, or where he simply thinks only marginally, if at all, in terms of gender when dealing with others. Still, this will be, for some time, a tough conversation in any sense, and we would be wise to approach it with a good deal of compassion and understanding toward those who simply don't get it.
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G.K. Wuori ©2023
Photoillustration by the author