March 8th, 2014

Of Arc Faults and Printers

R. and I are both pretty good at buying real estate around the nadir of of the business cycle. Alas, we miscalculated slightly this time, by buying something built at the tale end of the boom. There were A Few Problems: no outlet on the island, and the garbage disposal wasn't switched. The wide opening between the kitchen and the living room needed additional supports in the basement. Those we caught at the time. We eventually had the switch moved up where it belonged (it was initially under the sink) and lights added on the top of the cabinets (we love those). We had all the smoke detectors replaced, because they had a really high false positive rate (apparently there was a huge recall issue). The jacuzzi tub had a gfi plug in a gfi circuit so that had to be fixed. And on and on.

Currently, the printer is misbehaving. This is the replacement printer for our previous printer which worked fine, but wouldn't do AirPrint or GooglePrint. This one will do both ... if it's working at all. I'd sort of given up on those, but the final straw was when it started flipping the living room breaker, which meant the entire TV, Tivo, DVD player, Apple TV, etc. setup went down to. And the lights. And so forth.

The printer will work on a circuit which has a recently replaced breaker (these are all arc fault breakers, and we think that might be part of the problem). It won't work on a circuit with a less recently replaced breaker, or an unreplaced breaker. So having put it on an almost unused 20 amp circuit (in the dining room/playroom, which has exactly one thing plugged into it, a phone) and had that flip, we're pretty sure this isn't an over-amp problem (we're still waiting on the arrival of the test equipment that would check for that directly. And for a callback from the electrician, who will presumably be better at this, and have more equipment to figure this out than we do).

Because T. was extremely unhappy with the new location of the printer (interfering with playing with toys that until the printer moved, no one had been noticing for months), we're pushing forward with this task. But it is yet another reminder of the problems ahead for institutional adoption of electronic replacements for paper and pencil. I'm all in favor of switching away from paper and pencils; I can just painfully imagine all the problems which will crop up along the way. FWIW, I'm not that concerned about printer issues in a school setting (schools which adopt ubiquitous computing and can't get the printer to work just email or otherwise e-transmit documents around instead). I'm more concerned about all the long-standing power problems that heavier use will expose, the most recent limitations associated with wifi networks, etc.

The current solution to the printer problem involved tightening the screws inside the outlet. It appears to be working; we'll see how that goes over time.

Today's Activities Include: Jam Time, lunch, maple barn, cultural appropriation

I mostly stayed home. R. took the kids to Jam Time, because open gym was pre-empted by a gymnastics meet. Then he took the kids to lunch. After that, he dropped T. off at home, and he took A. up to Parker's Maple Barn. We have Grade B maple syrup again! Yay! It never fails to amaze me the joy that came into my life when my mother-in-law did that fast thing involving grade B maple syrup. She abandoned the grade B at our house and I fell head over heels in permanent love with the stuff.

I spent way, way, way too much time poking around the idea of cultural appropriation after a friend linked to that Salon article about belly dancing. It seemed wrong to do a glancing fact check on it (altho I'm sort of glad I did, because one of the artifacts of tracking down that foolishness about Mark Twain making a film in 1893 was realizing that phrases like "fun fact" should raise your fact checking sensors at least as quickly as infographics) and then not address the very real issues raised in the article, and highlighted by my friend.

I've tentatively come to the following:

It's probably better to treat cultural appropriation Dos and Don'ts as a matter of etiquette and respect, than as a ethical or theoretical or philosophical construct. Etiquette is generally understood as having a certain amount of arbitrariness and situation-specificness to it (and it is recognized as evolving over time) especially compared to the other frames, and it also has built into it the idea of showing respect/treating others as one would like to be treated/etc. which is so missing from clueless idiots who attempt to construct a persona or identity out of cultural pastiche -- and those clueless idiots appear to be the dominant form of cultural appropriation that is currently offending. Discussions of cultural appropriation which attempt to draw bright lines, or elucidate clear and universal principles seem to not be as helpful as one might wish (altho those bright lines and universal principles can do a _great_ job of attracting attention and passion, which serves a valid purpose in this context).

As always, if you are attempting to deploy a characteristic you have strength in, to appear to have a characteristic you do not have strength in, Trouble Awaits. You may be very smart and able to travel the world, but if you attempt to use your cultural acquisitions abroad to make yourself seem cool, you aren't. Privilege and power relations are probably happening, and not in a way that future-you will be proud of. Alas, the whole thing is even rougher on those who are less smart and less able to travel, who attempt to adopt other cultures at home via media representations or other means. In their heads, they are being open-minded and interested in other cultures. Other people have other thoughts, probably including those they are attempting to emulate.

The pass you can get for being a fan/nerd/acolyte/wtf is dangerous and limited; it's only good as long as you don't make any demands based on it.

All that said, saying, "That's Cultural Appropriation!!!" does not make one right or righteous. Just like any other assertion, it can be valid or not. And there are some people out there trying to police this stuff that aren't necessarily making enough effort to get it right. Etiquette has a bunch of rules about _that_, too.

Finally, it is _very_ important to recognize that lots of things offend, whether that is expected or not. It's probably wrong to base any kind of value system on avoiding offending anyone at all (it's definitely foolish), but pretending one _hasn't_ offended, or trying to argue the person who is offended into not being offended is even more wrong.

Or as my husband would say, we should try to be kind.

ETA: Oh, and if you are a WP doing some sort of POC activity like belly dancing or martial arts or cooking food that you didn't grow up with or whatever, and a POC tells you You Are Doing It Wrong, please listen politely, say thank you, and refrain from arguing. WP have apparently been behaving badly and should knock it off, and even if you in particular haven't been behaving badly, you should probably strive to raise the average.