Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Birthday Boy

Apparently a lot of people with synesthesia actually see the colour projected into space, but I don't. So either I've only got a really weak form of synesthesia, or it's something else... bummer. Oh, well. Whatever it is that I have, it's cool.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DADDY!

Yes, yes, love the he-man pose.

For my dad: "There are only 10 types of people in the world; those who understand binary and those who don't." Anonymous

Monday, 25 February 2008

Rainbow-Coloured

Okay, I just learned something cool today. Take a guess at what it is.

Ready? I'm going to tell you!.... (Isn't the suspense killing you?)

I...

am...

a...

Dun dun duhhh....

A synesthete.

In particular, a grapheme synesthete, but to some degree, also a sound synesthete. The condition certainly isn't as strong in me as it is in some people - I don't perceive colours coming from each of these words/letters simultaneously, like some people do, but if I single out a word or a letter, and think of it, as opposed to simply look at it, then I definitely experience the colour.

Perhaps it's learned. The letter A, for example, is red. I figure a good explanation for this could be that the first time I really learned about the letter A, it was with the song "A, A, A, A, Apple...." (Whoo! Sing, Spell, Read, and Write!) It explains the letter A, anyway, although I have no idea where some of the colours come from, because there is no association that I can find. How on earth is Q a deep silvery purple?

My name, Carla, is also red, while The is green, and Wanderer is purple. "Carla the Wanderer" I have to consider separately, or I don't see any colour, although The and Wanderer can stay together, because The gets swallowed up by the purple Wanderer. Blog is blue.

5 is red, 6 is yellow, 7 is orange, 8 is blue. 3.14 is lavender, unless I contemplate the 4, which is orange. 1,000,000 is white, but "one million" is red.

I also associate colours with certain sounds. For me, it's not that a high C has a colour of its own, like with some synesthetes, but a song or a voice will have a certain colour overall. For example, the song I posted earlier, "Storm", is a vivid green mixed with blotches of darker blues and moments of purple - and they're all swirling around. Most of the background violin music to The Village is mustard yellow and russet, and instead of swirling, the colours tremble somewhat, and eventually fall. See, I figure that was learned, too - it's like autumn leaves.

Despite possibly having "learned" these, the instant association and experience is involuntary. I can ignore it and turn my attention away, but I don't get to decide what colour I want something to be. It just is.

I've always known that I imagine colour with letters and numbers - at least ever since I started learning how to read - and I told my dance teachers about the music/colour thing once, which they liked so much that they printed what I said as a quote in the programs to one of their shows. Regardless, I didn't know that it was actually a condition with a scientific name. I mean, I knew there was a thing called synesthesia, but I kind of laughed at it and thought "that's stupid". I guess is wasn't explained to me properly, or something. Synesthesia itself, by the way, is pink.

Yay! I feel so exclusive - even if it is a somewhat common condition, and some of my friends have it, too.

Admittedly, this post is nothing truly profound, but hey, like I implied, I'm excited.

My Dad's birthday is in a few days. I should really look into getting him something.

And speaking of medical conditions:
“'My doctor says that I have a malformed public duty gland and a natural deficiency in moral fibre,' he muttered to himself, 'and that I am therefore excused from saving Universes.'” Douglas Adams

P.S. I played around with the title of the this post for quite a while because the colours weren't right. I just realized now that I make a habit of that. Who knew it would take me so long to settle on something as boring as "Rainbow-Coloured"?

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Sock Stock Depleted

My birthday is next month. I'm hoping for some socks. I never have enough socks. Yesterday my mom did a little laundry for me (thanks Mom!). She got confused because many of my socks had no partners. I explained to her that once a sock gets a hole in it, I throw it out, but keep its pair to wear with some other sock. Yes, these are fashion socks, not plain white socks, so the mismatchedness is blatantly obvious. Like I said, I'd like more socks.

Brianna's in Regina for the month, now. *Pout*

Can anyone explain to me Dietrich Bonhoeffers "unreligious interpretation" or "religionless Christianity"? I have to do a presentation on it. Maybe once I can wrap my head around it, I'll post on it.

Well, on to homework!

I'm sorry, sir, but you seem to be wearing my socks.” Panic Squad

Friday, 15 February 2008

Blunder of the Buses

I took the wrong bus yesterday.

The bus was sitting in the place my bus normally sits, and, assuming that my bus was simply early, I neglected to check the number. The fact that I didn't recognize the driver should have been my first clue, but I was busy thinking about multi-culturalism and prejudice.

The bus took a left turn where it was supposed to go straight, and that's when I clued in. As it stood, I was faced with a decision: get off at the next stop, and walk back to the station, or save face and pretend that I meant to be there. My choleric streak kicked in, and I thought "Ok, today we're going on an adventure.... and hopefully not looking like a dweeb in the process."

It wasn't very much of an adventure. It turned onto a street that I had formerly lived on, so even my pitiful sense of navigation was not thrown off. In some odd sense, I was (nearly) disappointed.

I disembarked at the point where I understood it was as close to my house as it would get, then walked the rest of the way to my house - without getting lost. It was several blocks longer than my usual walk, but it was a nice day outside, though a little slushy.

I arrived victoriously at my front door without any pain, so I'm not complaining. Just rolling my eyes at myself for getting on the wrong bus, and bragging that I did not get lost.

The quote for today (don't recall where I first heard this):
It's not my fault that I can't find my way. I have an iron deficiency, so I don't align with magnetic north.

(Psych analysis of the quote - sounds like I have an external locus of control. Odd. I'm normally quite internal)

Thursday, 14 February 2008

An Ugly Bit of History

Hey, guess what I found out about recently?

Alberta had a eugenics program, which ran from 1928 until 1972. That's 44 years of forced sterilization. It was called the Sexual Sterilization Act of Alberta. According to Wikipedia, almost 3,000 people were sterilized - most of them against their will. Maybe you knew that already, but I was blissfully unaware of any such awful thing running here, in my province.

The idea was to sterilize mentally deficient people to keep them from passing their problems onto any children and thus burdening society. Voluntary sterilization is one thing, but these weren't voluntary. Apparently it began that way, but the government soon dropped the whole "must have consent from the person or guardian" thing when the program wasn't proving effective enough. Mentally deficient or not, sterilizing someone against their will is, I think, a breech of human rights.

It's too bad that I couldn't find any more prestigious Internet sources about the Alberta Eugenics Board than Wiki or Answers.com, but I suspect they've got the gist right, well enough. Although Aboriginals accounted for only 2-3% of the Albertan population, they accounted for at least 25% of the the sterilizations in the final few years of the program. Also, teens and young adults, though comprising only about 20% of the population, accounted for 55% of the sterilizations. 58% of the 2832 operations were performed on women. Sometimes it wasn't just sterilization, either, but they would remove certain kinds of tissue to perform experiments on.

People up to have their cases reviewed before the board would undergo an IQ test. If they failed, they were considered mentally deficient. Sometimes, however, these tests were given to recent immigrants, who had not yet learned English, and therefore failed despite having adequate intelligence. In other cases, like Leilani Muir, it was an inadequate education that caused her to score poorly, not a bad IQ. It didn't matter. Most of these people were sterilized, anyway. There is also evidence that sometimes people were scheduled for operations before their cases had even been reviewed.

If this isn't disgusting enough as it is, the program continued through the years 1939-1945. That is, it ran straight through World War II. Here we are, aghast at the Nazis for what they're doing to people, but look at us! We've got our own kiddie version of their program. Granted, the Albertan government didn't kill anyone, but it's still an eery mirror of what we were fighting against in Germany. My prof said that there's actually some evidence that Hitler was inspired by the Albertan eugenics program, but I'm not sure what nor where that evidence might be.

Oh - guess what else? The person first put in charge of the board was a psychologist - John. M. MacEachran. Yup, he's the same one who set up the psychology department in the U of A. Whoo! And I want to be a psychologist when I grow up! All I can say about that is I'm upset that the psych department still honours him with a lecture series and offers scholarships in his name. Maybe he meant well, but it was all wrong.

Now, I can understand wanting to have fewer mentally deficient people in our society, but having that desire does not justify eugenics. Not even eugenics to weed out the mentally handicapped. Why? Because, even it weren't a scientifically flawed plan, a) they're still people with rights, and b) as soon as it's okay to do it to mentally handicapped people, why wouldn't it be okay to do it to anyone else who is not "up to snuff"? It's the start down a really scary and slippery slope.

I was, and am, proud to be Albertan, but this is a black and ugly chapter in our history. Not a very happy Valentine's Day post, is it?

Now, to lighten the mood:
If your parents never had children, chances are you won't, either. -Dick Cavett

Friday, 8 February 2008

Song for the Storm

For Lent, I've given up kitchen-grazing and secular music. That means that I've been listening to this song by Casting Crowns a fair bit, recently. When I was with VTI, the England team did a dance to this song, which is where I first heard it. This is the same dance and dance team, though the the people aren't all the same. As a former dancer, I'm rather critical of the dancing itself (she's obviously trained more for competition pieces than solo work), but all in all, I still like it.

If the dancing distracts you from the words, close your eyes, because it's the lyrics that make this song so powerful.



What can I say, but that I love this song?

“Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper." I Kings 19:11-12

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Looks Like You Goofed, Sophie


At least, you sure goofed if the emotivists are right.

In Ethics class today, we began discussing emotivism. Yikes. At least the prof wasn't trying to teach us that emotivism is the way to go. After watching a movie about someone like Sophie Scholl, the whole idea of "there is no such thing as ethically right or ethically wrong" rings stupidly hollow.

Why is it that some people are so stringently empirical that ethics are not only entirely subjective, but entirely meaningless, except as an expression of emotion? (No, not even an expression of opinion, but an expression of emotion, akin to "Ouch!" or "Wooooo!", with no truth or falsity value at all).

When I say, mitigating circumstances aside, that "stabbing me in the hand with your fork is morally wrong", I do not mean "stabbing me in the hand with your fork, blech!"

Are people who adhere to this theory so frightened of a higher power, or so rebellious towards it, that they cannot even admit that "morally right" and "morally wrong" have more meaning than "!" ?

I admit that in some cases, it may be true that what we believe to be ethics related is only emotion related. For example, it's obvious that this post is very emotionally charged. Is it righteous indignation, or offended bafflement? Sometimes what I judge to be a moral affront may just be hormones and an upset stomach. But I think it's nothing more than a load of rubbish to say that every single instance of ethics boils down to just that.

Sure, morality isn't physical. But being unable to verify something empirically does not logically mean that it is either meaningless, inexistent, or unimportant. All it means is that you can't scientifically prove it. I realize that is a sad, short attempt to argue against emotivism, but how do you argue with a theory like that? If people reduce everything unphysical down to just emotion, you can't even hold a rational discussion on the matter!

People may hold whatever opinion they want to hold, but it would be ridiculous to talk to me about holding an open mind when one is unable to even admit the possibility of there being a notion of right and wrong.

Well, that's my rant. Sophie and Hans Scholl would be rolling in their graves to hear people actually believe in a theory like this. They died as an expression of their emotions? Oops.

Granted, this was part of the movie, so I don't know if she actually said this, and granted, too, this is only a paraphrase, and yes, I realize "wrong" can mean either immoral or incorrect, but the gist is the same either way:

Mohr: You were just following your older brother; you didn't question what he was doing, did you? Shouldn't we put that in the report?

Sophie: No, because that would be wrong.

You have to respect someone like that.
(Notice she doesn't say "No, grooooaaan.")