Neil Hester

All poems © Neil Hester unless otherwritten

Name:
Location: North Carolina, United States

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Article and Excerpts of: Hodophixuality

A Cosmoetica newsletter brought this article, Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse: Science, Religion, and the Slippery Slope to my attention via this blog article, Homosexuality Versus Pedophilia. As suggested by earlier articles on homophobia and the term "pedophile", I do have a large interest in human sexuality (and its kinks).

LAEvaside: To dispel confusion, any usage of the word "pedophile" will be by modern definition, despite my disagreement with the word's current definition. [/laevaside]

The base article in question here (Homosexuality and Child Sexual Abuse: Science, Religion, and the Slippery Slope, in case you got lost in the sea of links) is extremely interesting, and proves a variety of things. Firstly, homosexuality and child abuse are separate entities; there is no relation, contrary to the skewed and misrepresented statistics that attempt to prove a connection between the two. Secondly, acceptance of pedophilia is not being gained via "slippery slope" in response to gay rights movements, and Judeo-Christian ethics have *not* always condemned sexual relations between adults and children. On the contrary, such relationships were condoned until the late nineteenth century. The article is rather interesting, so I highly suggest you check the actual article for statistics, excerpts from other works, and more specific explanations. Here are a couple quotes:

Freund stresses that pedophiles are significantly different from men who prefer adult partners, whether heterosexual or homosexual, in that their arousal pattern is lacking in gender differentiation. That is, pedophiles are attracted in general to the bodies of children; and since children lack the secondary sex characteristics which distinguish mature males and females – body hair and muscles in men, breasts in women – pedophiles are often attracted to both male and female children. In contrast, Freund has found that true bisexuality among the adult‑ preferring population is very rare.

Basically, there are three categories: androphiles, gynephiles, and pedophiles. Androphiles are to males as gynephiles are to females and pedophiles are to children. As far as sexuality goes, children possess no male/female category as far as this analysis is concerned.

An honest examination of the historical record indicates that Biblical law and the Judeo-Christian tradition, far from condemning pedophilia, often condoned sexual relations between adults and children. The contemporary social and legal taboo against sex with children developed only gradually over the centuries, and did not become firmly established until the late nineteenth/early twentieth centuries.
...the feelings of the victim of rape are not really all that important under Biblical law. Rape was considered a crime by the ancient Jews not so much because it caused harm to the female but because it violated the property rights of the father and the rules of social order. The virgin status of a young girl was a valuable asset to a father hoping to obtain a suitable bride-price from the man who would marry his daughter. If this asset was destroyed before marriage, it was an economic loss to the father. That is why the offender is forced to pay a fine to the father and marry the victim.

Almost self-explanatory. The latter quote pertains to Judaism. The concern was not for the child, but for the father: the issue not psychological, but monetary. Other sorts of details are touched on in the main article. Here's one more:

Sexual intercourse which took place before marital age limits or puberty was not necessarily illicit or sinful. On the contrary, some popes ruled that intercourse below the age of twelve/fourteen had the effect of sealing a marriage contract, as long as such intercourse took place after the age of discretion, which was seven. Once intercourse had taken place, the marriage could not be annulled.

Bizarre quote to moderns ears (or eyes). Contrary to the current idea of "no sex before marriage", intercourse sealed the marriage and prevented an annulment? The age of discretion, seven? Times certainly do change...

All in all, the article is a wonderful read for anyone it interests. Now, if people would just calm down and worry about important issues, like, oh, education and war (or cookie rations)...

~LAEvanesce

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Hydropsyche: Umbrella Brigade

I'm pleased with the comments on the PSAT; I may write a shorter follow-up to cover the National Merit Society, a scholarship rewards group that goes hand-in-hand with the PSAT. To put that into context, if I get a high enough score on the PSAT next year, people will pay a good portion of my dues in college.

That said, here's a poem that's longer than most of my works (I still have problems keeping interest intact in longer works):

~~~

Hydropsyche: Umbrella Brigade

Hello! I am of the Umbrella Brigade:
One of the siblings Hydropsyche.
Follow, child, our perfect parade,
And understand. Now, carefully
Listen; I am the teller of rain,
Of heavenly poison, of falling champagne.

Our sky is chartreuse donning goldenrod clouds,
The sunlight’s the lightest of blues.
The night never wakes to amuse the crowds
Of stars lined in heavenly pews.
Here we stand, the emotional three
In the weather’s decree, umbrellas in hand.

The dark fellow; yes, the one in the red
With the orchid skin and the yellow eyes,
He’s a melancholy chap. He sits and broods,
An unkempt teddy bear upon his lap.
He cries sometimes, with a choir
Of sympathetic thunder and hail.

The madame; indeed, the lady in blue
With the lavender hue and the slender hands,
She stands there, reading a romance,
On and unending, poring eternally
Like the monotone rain that worships her,
Her and her book of purple lips.

And I; the lad in the vivid pink suit
With the fuschia corsage and the lime-green tie,
I grin as sprinkles dance downwards,
Sublime in that each possesses a bow
That varies so nicely, like and unlike me,
A constantly stepping stargazer.

Understand this: we are in you.
Dear little child, you can’t omit
The bitter parade; our march is true
To reality. One cannot always quit
Tears with tears; happiness is bound
To its vast and savage surround.

By Neil Hester

~~~~~~~

This poem is still being revised, though slowly (in the first revision I chopped off nine lines and rewrote the first and last stanzas). I like the trope, so I may totally redo it in another style soon; the descriptive portion in this poem may be a bit overdone or too color-focused. Maybe I'll just rework the description-heavy parts; I like the first and last stanzas, generally (save for a couple clumsy parts). Of course, I can't always judge my own work properly; I'm not at that level. Still, it feels like this one could go somewhere.

If you read that last paragraph, congratulations and thank you for letting me ramble incessantly. 'Til next time,

~LAEvanesce

Thursday, October 19, 2006

PSAT- Pretty Savvy Aptitude Test

So I took the PSAT (Preliminary Scholastic Aptitude Test) for the first time yesterday. I gotta say... it's a well-made standardized test. I'm pleased with the process of taking it, the structure of the problems, and the time limits. First, a quick overview:

~~~

The PSAT is comprised of 5 sections: 2 Reading, 2 Math, and 1 Writing. The time limit for each section is 25 minutes for each of the reading and math sections, and 30 minutes for the writing section. A 5-minute break occurs between sections 2 and 3. A 1-minute break occurs between 4 and 5. Correct answers are 1 point, blank answers and incorrect math grid (number answer; not multiple choice) are 0 points, and incorrect multiple choice answers are -1/4 points.

~~~~~~~

This test is designed to be rough, as opposed to the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) tests we've taken every year that are much easier and limitless in time. It's rather refreshing, really. The PSAT pushes you to think on your feet and answer every question to the best of your ability; it's exciting. The time limits almost made it feel like a game (albeit a mentally draining one), and going into a test knowing that the point isn't to answer everything right, but to perform as well as possible, is great. The test itself is easy to navigate, and the chance of error in filling out any of the forms is minized due to clear explanations and a walkthrough during the personal information portion at the beginning.

The time limits seem to be very well set. Though I managed to answer every problem, I only finished with (a little) time to spare on 2/5 sections, and I had to rush to finish the other 3. Most people in my classroom ended up leaving several problems blank, so the time limit definitely separates the quick/focused from the slow/unfocused. Technical values aside, the limited time makes the test much more exciting.

The scoring system is definitely a plus. It encourages students to attempt problems they are only somewhat confident about; mathematically, it makes sense to attempt every problem. With a 1/5 chance, you would lose 1 point with four misses and gain 1 point with 1 hit. Normally you'll have some sort of idea of what might be the answer and what isn't the answer, increasing your chances beyond a 1:1 point ratio.

Now, a breakdown of the sections, with a mixture of my opinions and technical information. My skills in reading, writing, and math are similar, so my opinions shouldn't be too biased:

~~~

Reading: The reading section is the most difficult of the three. Consisting of two sections, 24 questions each, it also contains the most total questions. Each section begins with a sentence completion portion, which has sentences with 1-2 missing words. The answers cover the possible missing word(s). These sections have graduating difficulty, so the context clues are obvious and the words less obscure at the beginning. By the last 1-2 problems, I usually didn't understand 2-3 of the words offered as answers.

Other portions of the reading test involve passages, ranging from short excerpts (1/5 page) to long ones (1/2 page). Some passages come in pairs, followed by questions concerning passage #1, passage #2, and both. This sub-portion of the test is by far the most difficult; some questions have very similar answers, and it's hard to discern which is a better fit. Others are just difficult to understand, especially considering the constant time pressure; the reading section is the most difficult section to finish in time. Also, the second reading portion seemed more difficult than the first.

Math: The math part consists of 38 problems: 28 multiple choice and 10 math grid (numerical answer). The first section consists of 20 multiple choice and the second contains 8 multiple choice and 10 math grid problems. Both math sections have graduating difficulty; the first half of the problems are relatively simple, but there are some confusing problems later on. The second math portion, like the reading one, seemed more difficult than the first one.

Writing: The last portion, writing, is 39 questions long. There are three sub-sections in the writing part which occur in this order: sentence rewriting, error identification, and paragraph rewriting. The first section, sentence rewriting, contains sentences with an underlined portion. Underneath, there are five replacement fragments: answer A is always the exact same fragment, while B-E are rewrites. Choosing the correct rewrite wasn't too difficult in most cases; the answer tends to be obvious, provided the testtaker's writing is grammatically sound. A few problems, however, have very similar answer choices that can make discernment difficult.

Error identification, the second writing sub-section, is the easiest part of the entire PSAT. The reason behind this is that one isn't required to rework the sentence; the objective is to merely recognize the mistake. Each problem offers a sentence with four underlined parts labeled A, B, C, and D, with the fifth answer being E, "No Error". Any of the four underlined fragments may contain a grammatical error (no spelling), or no errors may exist. Mistakes most commonly occur in verbs, followed by pronouns. Most of these are simple and can be answered quickly, though a few of the problems can contain rather nit-picky errors ("you and me" vs. "you and I", "any" vs. "any other") that can cause problems for the testtaker.

The final sub-section of the entire test, paragraph rewriting, contains a "rough draft" of an essay with each sentence numbered. The questions pertain to rewriting, rearranging, and adding/deleting sentences from the paragraph. This section is probably the most difficult part of the writing portion of the test, though still easier than any part of the math or reading sections. As opposed to the reading and math sections, very few people had trouble completing every problem in the writing section.

~~~

Overall, I'd say the PSAT is an excellent standardized test. However, there are a few possible changes that might be worth considering:

  • No calculators: Cuts off reliance on technology and tests mental math. This may be unnecessary, considering the nature of our modern world
  • A 3-minute break instead of a 1-minute break between sections 4 and 5, in case someone is anxious to relieve themselves
  • Implementation of alternating letter choices (i.e. ABCDE for #1, FGHJK for #2) to lessen chance of error when filling out answers

The fact that I only addressed minor details in my ideas for revising the test is a testament to the PSAT's savviness, in reference back to the title. The PSAT is, without question, a consistent and well-designed test.

~~~~~~~

That concludes my loose analysis of the PSAT; I'm happy that the American educational system has done something very right in this case. Now, if they could just cut the number of chances to take the SAT down to 3...

~LAEvanesce

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Five and Twenty

I've decided that, at every interval of 25, we'll look back at some of the more important posts of the past. Here are selected posts that you should definitely read and comment upon:

~~~

~*Welcome and Whatnot~ I include this merely because it is the first post. It isn't particularly interesting, though it does mark the first of my "definition pulls".

~*Lewis Carroll~ Lewis Carroll is one of the greatest influences on my writing as of now. His prose is delightful, and his writing, both poetry and prose, is along a "fairy tale" fret I am very interested in.

~*Poem I: Lighten Up~ Not only an interesting expiremental poem, but as the first of my works posted here.

~*Copyleft! Copyup! Copydown!~ A short entry on copylefting, a nice extension on copyright that is briefly touched on by myself and elaborated upon in a linked article.

~*Let's Talk About Pedophiles!~ Here's where we get a little gritty. Though I touched on homophobia briefly in an earlier entry, this is a topic I have much more interest in. Society warps language. It's a problem, annoying, and unforgivable. [/"uh"lliteration]

~*Education Ain't Intelligent~ The war against education begins; sometimes they just don't get it.

~*The Sargent: John Singer~ My favorite artist, I highly enjoy his works, particularly his portraits of children (hey, what can I say? I like kids) and his landscapes/floral paintings.

~*Foray Into Teaching Poetry~ The most heavy-hitting of my educational essay, this one discusses what teachers and textbooks are doing wrong and how/what certain things should be presented.

~*A Little Idyll~ One of my best poems as of now is featured here, as well as a nice piece by Kate Benedict.

~~~~~~~

It's rather pleasant looking back. I suppose that's a wrap for five and twenty: 'til next time,

~LAEvanesce

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Formatting

It has recently (note: today) come to my attention that my blog has serious font/size issues in Internet Explorer. I rarely touch IE in favor of Firefox, but I made a quick visit to my blog at school today and gazed in horror. Well, okay, it wasn't that bad, but the formatting issue is pretty upsetting (I hate reading in fancy text *and* in large text), so I'm giving it a look.

On the positive side, I hope the quotes on the sidebar and the word of the day are nice additions to my format. I realize they've been there for a while, but I haven't felt the need to post anything about the layout until my little aggravating IE problem popped up. Since we're discussing computers, here:

~~~

Poetry 2000 TM

In particular, it is a language designed expressly for streamlining the writing of novels (or poetry).
-Metamagical Themas, Douglas R. Hofstadter

Hello and welcome to Poetry 2000TM,
the finest in poetry programs today. Please read
the End User’s License Agreement, sign and send
the pre-addressed reply card, then proceed.

The System 2000 is simple to use. Just point
the tiny quill and click. The pull-down menus
will lead the way to self expression choice
by choice. Then click the icon of the Muse.

In seconds your first-draft appears, correct
in style, grammar, spelling, length and theme:
A wistful moment that you recollect,
perhaps, or snap-shot of someplace you’ve seen.

Next simply click the Shakespeare icon. Note
that an eraser has replaced your pen.
You simply rub out each word or phrase that’s not
just right. Just click the little visor, then.

Now watch 2000 really show its stuff.
It's searching through the Anthology Data Base,
and, while the Bard of Avon chews his nub,
the changes you selected are being made.

Revision is the key to writing well
and now those boring late-night hours are done.
Erase as many times as you wish and still
have time to mix at our virtual Cafe Dôme.

So then, (1) click on File. (2) Click on New. Note
the little scroll unfurl. (3) Click on Edit.
(4) Click Special next. (Note: Never double-click Rose
without Expanded Tautology Gertrude-Stein-Set.)

The Special Editing Scroll has unfurled now
and all the choices are yours to make --
each a pretested adjective, each a pretested noun.
(For pretested neurosis click Emotional State.)

Perhaps you’ll pick Poetic Nouns. Your menu
will display a list of over twenty choices
selected by the hundred most successful
contemporary American poetic voices.

Choose ice, perhaps, or mirror, salt or moon.
Wing, bed-slash-bedroom, breast, bone, heart or blood --
just click the ones you want. (Note: You must Undo
or the system will assume mouth, tongue and love.)

Or Botanicals, perhaps: just click the flower
and poetical gardens blossom before your eye.
Plant camomile or crocus in your bower.
Pick baby’s-breath, viburnum, gorse, or thyme.

And Colors are a poet’s special tools.
With a single choice a poem may be made.
Too many poems fail for simple blues
which indigo or cobalt might have saved.

Just click the little palette icon. There
before your very eyes appears a rainbow
of mauve, pop-sickle pink and lavender,
the spectrum of turquoise, silver, jade and rose.

Choose Adjectives or Place-Names next perhaps.
Djakarta, Titicaca, Kathmandu,
Kuala Lumpur dot our market-tested maps.
In all, twenty poetic places are there for you.

Before you close, consult the Style screen
to choose your poem’s type-face, shape and size,
including Hen-Scratch, Random, and Prestige,
and, the present standard, Under Thirty Lines.

Now click the Muse (see figure 1, above),
And watch your favorite sitcom while you wait,
Or prepare a meal, perhaps, with Gourmet StoveTM.
(For a one week trial just click the little soufflè.)

Warning: product is only meant to be used
in the manner prescribed. For injuries which may
result should the product be altered or abused
Poetry7 will be harmless in every way.

For damages which may result (either
direct or indirect) to leather, tweed,
berets, careers, relationships, or other,
it excludes all legal liability.

The Poetry 2000TM is designed
for exciting years of personal expression.
When used as directed no group may be maligned
or suffer insufferable fascist oppression.

It respects all rights of property, the laws
of all the 48 contiguous States.
The little Walt Whitman pixel even applauds
when a poem mentions lower short-term rates.


WARNING!

The product is designed to be perfectly safe.
To modify the program in any fashion
is a violation of Federal Statute and may
be referred to the Federal Bureau of Investigation.


By Gilbert Wesley Purdy

~~~~~~~

If I can manage to add all those italics in, surely I can manage to get this font/size issue worked out ^^

~LAEvanesce

~LAEvaside: I worked out a decent compromise between the two browsers. Still, if you want to see it the way it's supposed to appear... go Firefox.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Pop Poem

I got a little burst of inspiration in Human Geography today due to a scheduled test that had somewhat of a "pop" quality because about 2/3 of the class totally forgot about it, including me. Fortunately, we ended up having some cram time, which pulled me a good grade. Anyhow, here ya go:

~~~

Pop Quiz

Our pleasant chatter falls away;
Rattles run from anxious pens
And fingertips. Eyeballs writhe
Like witches at high stakes. Red and black
Roulette: my ballpoint pen lands black,
Bound for red. We’re the smartest group
Of gambling minors that I know.

By Neil Hester

~~~~~~~

It seems to me that noone is ever not unpreprepared for pop quizzes [/triplenegative], which contributes to the bizarre liking I have for such surprises. Unfortunately, they can occasionally be detrimental to one's grade (normally not mine, though). Pop... quick! What is the mermaid's fate in the fairy tale The Little Mermaid, by Hans Christian Andersen? The answer... next time.

I do believe that's all I have for this rather brief entry; take care 'til next time,

~LAEvanesce

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Rules For Faerie's Aire Ensembles

Ah, yes, Faerie's Aire and Death Waltz. And no, it's not a poem; it's a composition by Mr. John Stump, from "A Tribute to Zdenko G. Fibich", based on a Cro-magnon skinning chant. Have I lost you? Good. This might explain it a little better:

~~~

First Page

Last Page

~~~~~~~

If you know *anything* about music, you should be laughing it up by now. While we're on the subject of music, here's another rather humorous little bit I found posted on a bulletin board in my cousin's private school in Denver (actually, come to think of it, I found both these right next to each other):

~~~

Golden Rules for Ensemble Playing

~~~~~~~

It's mildly funny if you're not a musician, and extremely funny if you are. I'm a fairly good violinist, which would explain why I'm featuring this jazz~ Anyhow, that's all my notes for today: 'til next time,

~LAEvanesce

Sunday, October 01, 2006

October~

Another entry in the "month" series, here's a little trivia about October pulled from Wikipedia. Although octo- means eight in Latin, October is the tenth month of the Gregorian calendar. Here's some trivia on October pulled from Wiki~:

~~~

  • In Finnish, October is called lokakuu, meaning "month of dirt".
  • Canadians celebrate Thanksgiving on the second Monday of October.
  • In the nineteenth century, the month of October was dedication to devotion to the rosary in Roman Catholic countries.
  • October begins on the same day of the week as January in common years.

~~~~~~~

For quotations, folklore, and other October-related jazz, visit this compilation. It's a bit unorganized, but there are quite a few excerpts and links there. As probably expected, here's the two-liner for October:

~~~

Octaber

October's an octave from March and May;
Poor little April's caught halfway!

~~~~~~~

'Til next time,

~LAEvanesce