The origin of stereotypes, why they are useful, and why it is counterproductive to deny them

The origin of Stereotypes:

The origin is fairly simple to identify. Any/all stereotype(s), positive or negative, is/are based on at least (one or more) partial truth(s). This is evidenced by the fact that all stereotypes change with time, because the most prominently visible aspects of groups and causes change with time. Unfortunately for all groups and causes, their most prominently visible aspects are, to the unsympathetic, almost always negative.

Why they are useful:

-They are useful to street-level supporters because, in truth, "the opposition" is rarely friendly, usually hostile. It can't be denied that at least on the fanatical fringes of the most heated political arguments, there are elements of mutually opposing groups that would not hesitate to cause real physical damage to each other if given a chance. When the rank-and-file of a particular cause has no choice but to recognize that some elements of their opposition would be quite happy to see them disadvantaged, damaged, or dead, why should they waste much effort trying to have an amicable understanding of such opposition?

-To smart leaders they can be useful indicators of problematic elements within their group or cause. If, as a leader, you come to realize that your group or cause has a negative popular image, you would be very stupid to blame it solely (or even largely) on media manipulation. If anything is manipulating media in order to amplify the image of a problematic sector of your group, it is probably an influential force within that sector, and not hostile external forces (e.g., "gangsta rap" itself is more damaging to the black community than any commentary that opposition groups could make about it).

A couple convenient examples:

-If Native Americans don't want to be identified as alcoholic bums, Native American leaders need to get rid of their alcoholic and vagrant elements.

-If black and Hispanic people don't want to be identified with gangs, drug traffic, and wholesale racial violence, then black and Hispanic community leaders need to exterminate those elements from within.

-If medical marijuana supporters don't want to be identified with potheads, they need to push the potheads out of their cause.

-If feminists don't want to be identified with the kind of fractured psychology that spews forth angry hatred toward men while celebrating women who (actively, in their daily dealings) emulate caricatures of the worst traits of masculinity (including aggressive objectification of other women,) then feminist leaders need to ruthlessly wipe out those elements in defense of their cause.

(I didn't include "right-wing" groups and causes in my list of examples because, for the most part, I don't think they're in much denial about their negative elements. I think in large part they pretty much openly embrace what outsiders view as some of their most negative elements. While I may not agree with it, I do respect it, much more than I respect the amount of denial I see in most "left-wing" groups and causes.)

The key is that is has to be done ruthlessly, remorselessly, and quickly. The group must reject those elements even more so than the opposition. If (as a leader) you support a cause or want to see a brighter future for your group, then you have to put forth strong values that won't admit any deviations. The negative elements described above are just such deviations, and community leaders need to pay attention to the stereotypes as they point to the deviations as the main representatives of the group or cause as a whole. For that reason alone, they deserve ruthless and remorseless elimination.

As long as any group or cause allows their worst elements to steal the spotlight, they can't blame the opposition for embracing the stereotypes thus spawned. It is impossible to highlight the positive until the negative has been eliminated.

Why it is counterproductive to deny stereotypes:
Another easy one. I stated at the beginning that all stereotypes are based at least partially on fact. As such, the groups viewed through them must accept at least partial responsibility for them. Denying a negative stereotype does not give advantage to the group in any but the most shallow and temporary aspects of an argument. In no case does it ever actually improve the group or cause. However, in the long run as well as immediately, it gives free reign to the problematic elements that the negative stereotypes are based on, and more importantly, shows the deniers (to more discerning observers) for what they are (liars and cowards,) and disempowers the entire group from improving itself, establishing and putting forth strong core values.

At the end of that note, it should go without saying that it is absolutely hypocritical for a group (regardless of their place in the power pyramid) to deny their own negative stereotypes while at the same time attacking their perceived opponents with equally negative stereotypes. I bothered to say it because, as I observe these sordid spectacles from day to day, I can't help but notice that all sides of all arguments are doing this.

To all of you, best of luck. "Right" or "Left," I don't support or wish ill to any of you. As far as I'm concerned, it's all in the hands of Nature for all of you, and I've covered my own ass so I don't really care what happens.

note: I'm Native American, Hispanic, and half white. Working-class, spent most of my teens and early adulthood homeless and impoverished, never had access to White Male Privilege, so if your disagreement with my analysis should hinge on anything counter to those facts, please reconsider your argument before posting it.

Wilderness Settings

I never really liked any of the AD&D rules for Wilderness play, and the OD&D stuff is a little disorganized, so I can't say I've tried very hard to get it so far.

None of what follows has been tested yet, but as I've been ramping up to start my own campaign here, I've already been thinking about this one because it was a big problem for me during my early DMing years.

It basically hinges on this: As long as the PC's aren't doing anything more particular than moving forward and keeping an eye out for danger, a "Wilderness Turn" represents one hour of game time.

Make up to 3 encounter rolls per WT, unless one of them turns something up (in which case give the players a break and don't roll any more encounters). Of course, if some logic dictates that one encounter will provide occasion for another that is up to the DM but I don't think additional rolls would be necessary to determine that.

The first encounter roll represents the first 20min of the WT, the second roll the second 20min, etc. If an encounter comes up, roll 1d20-1 (+20 if the second third of the WT, +40 if the final third) to get the exact time of the encounter (if you care about that kind of thing).
Time of encounter + length of encounter in min = time to begin next turn.
I will probably do myself a favor and not calculate to the minute but rather keep it confined to blocks of 20min rounding to the closest block.

An unencumbered, uninjured PC of average (9-12) Constitution can comfortably walk for about three WT before needing to take a break at the following paces:
small-sized – ~2.5mph (1.5 hexes)
medium-sized – ~3mph (2 hexes)
large-sized – ~4mph (2.5 hexes)

As I remember, the WSG has some ok guidelines about movement while injured or encumbered, and I'll probably refer to those or simply determine that every 1/3 of your total HP that you lose brings you into a higher encumbrance bracket, and movement is accordingly affected.

For mounted movement, I'll play with the figures at this site: http://www.ultimatehorsesite.com/info/horsespeedmph.htm

Rest, Meals, other Specific Actions
Movement breaks: at least 20min (one encounter phase).
Meal breaks: at least 40min to prepare, consume, and "digest" (two encounter phases).
Making camp: at least six WT to get restful rest, and must have reasonably comfortable conditions.
-Spell Study/Prayer Time: Spellcasters must take at least four WT in addition to their rest time.
-Setting watches: time spent for a "watch" period must be in addition to any time needed for rest and spell study/prayer.
Other specific actions: The DM just needs to keep track of the time to the degree of accuracy that they consider appropriate to their campaign. If for instance the PC's are carefully searching a section of terrain because there is supposedly a hidden treasure there, they are in my opinion no longer on wilderness time but dungeon or city time. When they're finished, they're back on Wilderness Time. Their activity may or may not attract the attention of possible inhabitants, and so may or may not increase encounter probability.

I'm not sure yet, but I'm thinking campfires should incur a small cumulative increase to encounter probabilities depending on terrain type and the size of the fire. As a kid partying in the woods, we knew that even deep in the woods we had to keep our fires small and discreet if we wanted to keep away the police (decrease probability of wilderness encounters).

this website:
gives the following equation: about 1.23 miles times the square root of the eye height in feet
So in clear daylight at ground level on flat ground and with no obstructions, a 6' PC with normal unimpaired (human) sight should be able to see about 3 miles to the horizon.
Of course things beyond the horizon at higher elevations (mountains, towers, etc) may be visible depending on how tall they are, and how far away.

Populating the hex with specific terrain features:
If your map is the kind where each hex only displays one type of terrain, you'll have to use your imagination to figure out intermediate terrain. If your hex pattern is superimposed over a more realistic representation (like a Google map for instance,) then you can lean on the map more for guidance with regard to where the terrain starts to change and what kind of features appear there. In the end though, I think the only way to really believably populate a terrain type with features is to have some personal experience of that terrain type, or to do some research on them. I think I'll do a lot better in this than I did in the past because I've done a lot more hiking in many different terrain types since the last time I struggled with this.

I think for purposes of presenting descriptions of wilderness settings and imagining how the lay of the land changes in relation to travel (which are the parts I had the most trouble with as a young DM,) the parts in this article about movement, visibility, and placement of terrain features will be most useful. I think one way to manage this is to roll a d6 to determine what portion of the hex a prominent feature will turn up in, and then based on how the PC’s choose to navigate that hex, they may or may not discover it. If it is something prominent though, the visibility equation dictates it’s fairly probable that they’ll see it as long as they are venturing generally toward the center of the hex.

Everyday Thelema #1: Will

As I write this, I just finished eating a lunch of oatmeal with acacia honey, of which it was a joy to say Will over. I think it is important to mention that it was a joy to say Will over, because I think that is a major component of Will, if not exactly its primary raison d'être. Or perhaps we could say that joy is a by-product of an honest performance of Will over honestly fortifying food and drink.

For those who may not know what “Will” is, it is the Thelemic answer to the “Grace” that is said over meals by practicing Christians. While Christians believe that the transmutation of food energy into action is the result of Heavenly “Grace” and thus owed back to God in the form of “holy” works, Thelemites believe that the only proper and thus “holy” use of any energy (including that which we get from our food) is in the pursuit of one’s true will.

The basic script is thus (unless there are variations I’m not aware of):

Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.
It is my will to eat and drink,
That my body may be fortified thereby,
That I may accomplish the Great Work.
Love is the law, love under will.

Study of the first and last lines is beyond the scope of this little article, so we can focus on the middle three.

1. When Thelemites eat and drink, it is because it is their will to do so, and shouldn’t be for any other reason.
2. When Thelemites eat and drink, it is only for the purpose of fortifying their bodies, and none other.
3. When Thelemites fortify their bodies, it is only for the purpose of accomplishing the Great Work, and none other.

Readers unfamiliar with “the Great Work,” may benefit from doing some Google-searching for “Emerald Tablet of Hermes”, alchemy, hermeticism, etc.

If the middle three lines of Will demand these three interpretations, we have to ask ourselves a few questions every time we pick up some food.

1. Is it my will to eat this? If it is my will to eat this, what might my will actually be?
-If it is total crap that you are eating, then your will might be total crap as well.

2. Will this fortify my body? Is it fortifying, or poisonous? Is it more fortifying, or more poisonous?
-I eat from convenience stores often during my work day, so I often ask myself this question. The prepared sandwiches from Family-Mart, a can of coffee, and the soy milk satisfy on this front so far, but I also know that there must be something better, so I continue to keep an eye out for better options on the shelves, and other possible venues. My home meals are much easier to answer with, as are my street meals. There is a great little food stand on my way home from the gym that serves halal bbq lamb skewers and flat bread. One flat bread and three lamb skewers after a weight session and a run, and I know that I am fortifying my body for great things.

3. Will the actions I perform with the energy I’ve received from this food bring me closer to accomplishing the Great Work?
-In order to answer this question, you have to qualify your understanding of the Great Work, and allow that it may change as you progress. That is not to say that you should be able to game your purported understanding of the Great Work to allow for any kind of nonsense to lead to it. An evening of sitting on the couch, watching DVDs, after a day of basically working for no other purpose than to sustain your ability to sit on the couch of evenings and watch DVDs, would probably not make a convincing argument for any honest and thoughtful aspirant. I think one thing that Thelemites tend not to understand about the nature of Thelema is that it does not release them from responsibility to an idea. They may be free from the Christian idea of “grace,” but they are supposed to be engaging with an even more demanding idea of “will”. “Grace” is easy to game as long as one stays out of the way, but “Will” demands that one get in the way and make an example. Even if all you’re doing is sitting on the couch watching DVDs, you’re still representing your creed.

Other considerations:
Will is only as powerful as the integrity and character of the person performing it. Modern people who say they don’t need this kind of thing in their lives are, in my opinion, mostly covering for a fear of these things as being tests of their integrity, betrayals of their character.

To come back to the subject, though, when you say Will is just as important as when you –don’t- say it. If you only say Will when you eat decent food, and then simply don’t say it when you know you would really rather eat a bunch of garbage, it doesn’t make you any more honest than if you said it every time. What it really shows is that you have deferred to your own weakness of character and lack of integrity.

That said, I think the idea of saying Will is to polish your will. Of course your will is not perfect at all times, but by reminding yourself of your purpose, if indeed it is your purpose, one should be gradually induced to improve their behavior in accordance with the reminder.

If we have three meals unworthy of Will in one day, and we only happen to think of it in order to disparage bad food, that is still better than not thinking of it at all. But still, it is almost worthless to think about it if it doesn’t result in at least one good meal the next day.

The same goes for actions, but to extend the metaphor just a bit more. We can say that Will is polish, but no polish can put a shine on material that is dull by nature. If your will is of silver but caked with dirt, it is no use trying to polish the dirt, and even less use blaming the polish for the dirt. My friend in Beijing introduced an interesting phrase to me some months ago, “maimed by modernity”. This phrase describes so much of what I see in the lives of people around me, they are so maimed that they don’t seem even to have an idea of what the human form is supposed to look like. To this kind of person, Will would appear to be a useless trifle, and they would get no use from it. See above.

Sorry for the abrupt end. It is time to go shopping for dinner.

Preface to articles tagged “Everyday Thelema”

Two weeks ago (the morning after spring equinox,) I began the practice of keeping a magical diary, and of maintaining basic everyday Thelemic practices (Resh and Will, for now,) and maintaining more or less daily study of key Thelemic texts (Liber AL, 777, and the Equinox of the Gods, for now). While I don’t plan to go into too much detail about that outside of my diary, I will, from time to time, comment here on my thoughts and the development of my understanding of whatever I’m studying and/or practicing.

First off, I will note that this is not the first time I’ve tried to keep a record of practices, nor my first attempt at keeping up practices. It’s probably somewhere around (at least) the tenth. If I had kept up with the first attempt until now, I would have an eleven-year old and current magical diary, with daily entries detailing my thoughts and discoveries regarding my practices and study.

Before anyone criticizes me for not having accomplished this, please submit your eleven-year old and current magical diary (with detailed, daily entries) to my secretary for review.

My last attempt was in 2009, before that, once in summer of 2009, and once in winter of 2007. Before that, I probably made a crack at it at least once or twice a year from 1999-2005.

In 2004, I met somebody who didn’t care much for magick, and, weakened as I was from abuses self-inflicted from 2001-2004, I tried to play it her way and almost forgot about magick until late 2006. As damaging as that was, she did help me initiate other needful changes such as getting back into school, upgrading my vocational ambitions from “general clerical support” to "entry-level accounting," and focusing more on fortifying my body than inflicting damage on it (the gym and kungfu as opposed to meth and cocaine).

Fallout from our breakup in late 2005, and my almost concurrent split with OTO (which lasted until 2009,) left me once again weakened and depressed. My kungfu attendance began to taper over the following year, and my gym attendance, while never given up on, never really improved. My eating habits were sufficiently atrocious to overtake any good result the gym might have been able to provide. By the time I moved to China, I was 177lbs and 23% body fat. Interesting numbers qabalistically, but terrible realities physically.

Stepping back a pace, something that happened to me in winter of 2006, which included some reunions with people I’d not seen since I was a teenager, reawakened my interest in magick, although indirectly. None of these people, as far as I know, know anything about magick, nor do they have the slightest interest in it, but the impact that they had on my outlook at that particular stage in my development reminded me of why I had originally taken an interest in that study to begin with.

Nonetheless, almost the entire year of 2007 was spent preparing for a move to China, a move which I finally made in November of that year. My next attempt at a record would not take place until after I arrived.

Living and working in China gave me more free time and disposable income with which to carve out a place for my continued studies. On one hand, one could say I have not used the time well so far. On the other, coming to China has given me a whole new set of difficulties to deal with and overcome. It has been a few years, but I feel pretty comfortable now, even about being uncomfortable with things I can’t understand, that make no sense to me, and probably never will. I hope that my situation has stabilized enough to allow this present attempt at a record to be more successful than the previous ones.

Finally, these entries will not be “friends-only,” as I hope they may be of use to others trying to do the same thing. I hope it may also lead me to those others so I can check out what they’re doing, and maybe learn something from them. Since they are public, however, I will screen all comments.

Writer's Block: You've got the look

How important is physical attraction in selecting a romantic partner?

Excluding the idea of partnering into money or something like that, I don't really believe the people who say looks aren't important. Unless there is damage or some kind of problem, they are. This may be so in a positive or negative sense, but it plays into partner selection regardless.

Positively, most people want to select a partner whose looks and style are worthy of and compliment their own. In fact, many mildly delusional people out there believe they are worthy of a partner with far superior looks and style to theirs. These are usually men.

Negatively, some people with low self-esteem or emotional damage of some other sort will "seek down" or at least settle for a partner whose looks and style would normally be considered unworthy of them (that is, in a purely physical sense).

Under normal circumstances, well-adjusted people with a healthy sense of self-esteem and a clear awareness of their own attractiveness will not be interested in potential partners whose looks are unworthy of and don't compliment their own.

As a result, those with a higher degree of mainstream attractiveness are going to have a lot more room to be selective than those with a lesser.

While in the West, those with a lesser are likely to find more potential partners who would settle for them, it is only because in the West (at least the USA,) "the average" is yearly becoming fatter and less healthy.

People whose looks or style wanders away from the mainstream are naturally going to be more limited in terms of what they can demand, and by whom they will be found in demand. I think this is why the further a fashion statement wanders from the mainstream, the more likely it is to be followed by people who wouldn't exactly make the mainstream cut. (i.e., overweight and homely people tend to sport the most bizarre affectations in the highest volume. This is the same in China as well. Whenever I see some crazy hairstyle in a wild color from behind, I know it is a 99% chance that the face on the other side of that hairstyle is going to have some kind of skin problem or other unflattering feature or features, or the body beneath the hairstyle is going to be frumpy and out of shape, or probably both).

As for myself, I think my expectations have always been realistic. I am a thoughtful guy, so I have always sought thoughtful women. When my looks were naturally slender and gracefully youthful, I sought others who had the same physical qualities.

Now that I am older, I have to make more of an effort to stay slim, and though I have to trade the slender grace of youth for the more robust strength and vigor of a man reaching his prime, I consider it a very good trade.

The "Me" of today could run farther, faster, and longer, do more work more efficiently, and of course in a fight would easily stomp the hell out the "Me" of 15 years ago. As a result, I consider it my right to have a thoughtful and intelligent partner who is also fit and physically beautiful.

I think, with my present partner who I am pretty sure will someday be my wife and the mother of my children, I've hit the mark on all points.

Third Power

Well, I made some decisions, and I think I can get everything taken care of by late October.

The car is up for sale. The sooner I sell it, the better. If I can get $4-5000 for it, that will enable me to pay it off for a little less than what it would cost to keep up with the monthly payments for the next 9 months, and have a couple thousand left over. I can put that in the bank, and it will cover the automatic withdrawals for my student loan for the next 10 months.

Also, I am moving out of my place, and getting a room closer to the office, so I can walk/ride a bike to work. This will virtually eliminate my overhead, enabling me to save about $2000 per month. This will also help me to lose some of the extra pounds that I can't seem to shake, that I am fairly convinced may be the result of driving for the past 18 months...

If anybody reading this entry knows anybody within 1 mile of Lloyd Center who needs a temporary room-mate, feel free to forward this ad:

I am moving to China this late autumn, and need to save money.

To that end, I am selling my car, getting a bike, and ditching most of my stuff.

I am a 32 year old male, with a full-time accounting job in the Lloyd Center area. I need an inexpensive temporary arrangement near my office, basically just a place to eat and sleep for a few months.

I spend most of my free time studying at the internet cafe or working out at the gym, and am friendly, quiet, and tidy.

[edit: due to noise problems at my current building, I would gladly occupy a place as early as July 1.]


White stone day, and other assorted weirdness...

2006 Employee Appraisals came in today... I am at the top of my class this year. Hopefully, the raise will reflect this!

TESOL certificate course is paid for, and begins in a few weeks. Tomorrow, I will submit passport application and fees.

Martial arts classes continue to get more challenging. I recently emailed my Sifu to ask if it would be a good idea for me to focus on one style as opposed to two, as I have recently been having some trouble with the Tai Chi training, while I seem to be improving quickly with the Tang Lang Quan training. While his response was helpful and encouraged me to continue taking both, I also got the slight impression that he seemed to think the question was a way for me to ask him for permission to bail on my commitments.

In any case, it seems my determination to pursue both has redoubled, and somehow, within the course of a few days, I have filled many of the gaps I was perceiving in my Tai Chi. Hopefully, it will continue.

At the recommendation of Marz, I read "Living the Martial Way : A Manual for the Way a Modern Warrior Should Think" by Forrest E. Morgan. There is a lot of good information in here for advantageous ways that a modern M.A. student can approach their training. On the other hand, much of the tone seems like the book was intended for idiots. A more in-depth review may follow after a re-read. Presently, I am finishing up the articles on my teachers' website, at www.i-chuan.net .

In other (somewhat related) news, I keep getting offers to review books from various publishing houses. This is rather odd, as I wrote all of two reviews for www.oregonminoritybusiness.com , neither of which were in the genre of any of the offerings I have received so far...

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Words of Wisdom

"When someone expects a lot of us, we often find that we can do a lot. When little is expected, we tend to provide little. In either case, the expectations are self-fulfilling."

Samuel C. Certo,
Steinmetz Professor of Management
Roy E. Crummer Graduate School of Business
Rollins College

entry 2 in Resources series on back burner...


If anybody is waiting for the next installment of the Organizational Resource essay series, it will probably surface this weekend. I am too damn busy to sit down with it this week, as I am in Corporate Training, which while very interesting and exciting, is draining as all hell... I just wanted to mention it, so nobody thinks I have forgotten, and so I have a record of commitment to refer back to.


Survey assignment for my Management/Supervision class

For my essay assignment this week, I have to analyze some survey data regarding workplace factors.

It is pretty simple. All you do is rank 15 factors in order of personal importance, then grade your present employer on each factor, on a scale of A-F.

There is optional demographic info at the bottom. PLEASE fill it out if you take the survey, as the demos will be what I need for the analysis.

One last thing... the survey is on an excel 2003 worksheet, so you will have to be capable of editing this file type to take the survey.

In interested, please send me an offlist email to frater210@sekhetmaat.com, and I will reply with the file attached.

Thanks in advance for helping me out! To anyone who does, I owe you one.

[edit: in case you didn't assume so already, all info is 100% confidential. No names are attached to any data, and all data collected stays between me and my professor.]