What’s the Difference Between Sex and Gender?

•October 29, 2011 • 4 Comments

During the last 12 months I’ve filled out hundreds of job applications. At the same time, I’ve also joined several paid survey sites, where I earn points for taking surveys that can be turned into Amazon gift certificates, so that I can keep myself in books. In both those places I’ve noticed a particular grammar mistake constantly repeated. Similarly, I’m increasingly seeing it in news articles all over the net, the most recent being a Yahoo story about the change of royal succession laws in England.

The mistake is using the word gender when the word sex is called for. The two words are not interchangeable.

Put simply, sex is male and female, gender is masculine and feminine. Sex is a biological fact, gender is cultural and refers to the variable and often stereotypical roles society assigns to people on the basis of sex.

On a job application, asking a person their gender is akin to asking whether they prefer football to cooking, rather than asking what variety of dangly bits they have. It’s wrong and it’s irrelevant.

Concerning seeing these words misused in news articles, it boggles my mind that so many journalists don’t know the difference between the two words. But, then again, nothing should surprise me these days.

But I suspect that many writers DO know the difference between the two, but that they think their readers are stupid and that if they see the word “sex”, they’ll think of “having sex”, rather than male or female. Thus, they write “gender” instead, thinking readers will be too stupid to know the difference and spot the mistake.

To read more visit this site.

Concern for the Welfare of Animals and Children

•May 28, 2011 • 3 Comments

In the wake of the recent earthquake in Japan and the tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri, I’ve read a few stories pertaining to how some pets fared who survived these disasters, with some having gone to great lengths to find their humans again.

Most of the comments reacting to these stories were positive, with people being pleased to find some little good coming out of such horrific events.

However, there were a few negative comments; comments  that I see every time there is a story relating to the welfare of animals.  Such people always focus on the same theme.  In a nutshell, their complaint is to be disgusted and amazed that so many people would spend even the slightest amount of time being concerned with the welfare of animals when there were so many abused children in the world.

First of all, who said that caring for animals and caring for children are mutually exclusive?  It’s not as if it’s an either/or thing, that if you care about one, you cannot care about the other.

Secondly, those who mistreat pets and other animals are the very same people who are the most likely to abuse children as well.  It involves the same factor: preying upon those weaker than themselves.

So, these are not unrelated concerns, but, rather, go hand in hand.


Invasive and Useless Assessment Tests

•May 26, 2011 • 5 Comments

I haven’t felt much like blogging lately, though I have more than enough time to devote to it.

I remain unemployed and I see no change in my status any time in the near future.  Nevertheless,  I am grateful to be able to conduct my job searches online at home, because with the high gas prices and the pittance I’m getting in unemployment, I can’t afford to do much driving.   Twenty-five years ago, however, I would have had to go out in person to apply for jobs, gas money or no, to do what was then known as “pounding pavement”.

In the last several months, I have filed dozens of applications, mostly online, lowering my standards as the months have gone by.  I no longer expect to get a good job. I don’t think I ever did, even when I first began my search.  Now, I’m looking for anything I can get, and that’s extremely depressing for someone my age.

One rather disturbing thing that I’ve noticed is that even the most menial of jobs have these lengthy assessment quizzes one must take in order to apply for the job.  These are either true or false or multiple choice questions, typically asking  about a person’s attitudes and practices concerning work.  Unfortunately, most of these tests do not limit themselves to asking questions about one’s working habits, but instead ask irrelevant and often intrusive personal questions, and some even probe into an applicant’s political opinions.

One place I applied at mainly stuck to the relevant questions concerning work habits, but there was one off the wall question in the middle of the test:  “Modern art isn’t really art”, to which I was required to answer as true or false.   WTF?   What on Earth does a person’s opinion about art have to do with doing some Mickey Mouse menial job, anyway?

As well as asking irrelevant and/or invasive questions, such assessments are inaccurate.  Anyone with half a brain knows what they want to hear, so a person can check those responses off, regardless of their actual opinions.  Secondly, even for a person who decides to be entirely honest, most of these questions are phrased in a manner that only allows black and white answers, and leaves no room for context or shades of grey.

I never saw these annoying tests when looking for work years ago, but they now seem almost ubiquitous, no matter how low-level the job.


A Humbling Experience

•March 10, 2011 • 7 Comments

I’ve been out of work since the middle of October. And as time goes by without me being any closer to being employed again, my living situation has become increasingly grim.

I started out with a halfway decent amount in savings, which is nearly gone. My former employer challenged my claim for unemployment money, which resulted in me having to wait three months before I saw any unemployment checks, which are a measly pittance.

In the meantime, I took aptitude tests and resume seminars at the unemployment office. I did exceptionally well on the tests, especially in my knowledge of reading and writing. None of this has done me the slightest bit of good in finding a new job.

I’ve cut spending to the bone. I do most of my job hunting at home, online, because I can’t afford to be driving around every day, especially since gas prices have jumped. My car is also acting up, which also discourages much driving, as I’m trying to baby the car along until I can get another job.

I went through the winter freezing my ass off, because I didn’t want a high electric bill. I wore several layers of clothing in the house and went to bed wearing gloves and a woolen cap. It didn’t help — I got a high bill for that one month, despite shivering in the dark. Even now that it’s warmed up, I’m sitting here typing in the dark.

While waiting for my unemployment checks to kick in, I did something I’ve never had to do before. I applied and received food stamps. Before getting that, I went to a church in a bad part of town that hands out nearly-expired food every week. And, most recently, I had to go to a social service agency to help me from getting my power shut off, which, I think, has been the most humbling thing of all.

There’s a certain routine that goes with applying for various forms of assistance. Doing so involves waiting hours in lines that often form before the sun comes up. Such avenues of assistance can only offer limited resources, so if you’re going to have a chance of getting anything at all, you have to get in line hours before the appointed time, otherwise you’ll go home empty handed.

And this means waiting outside in all kinds of weather. One place has a covered ramp for people to wait under, but at most places, there’s no protection whatsoever from the elements.

Another ubiquitous feature of applying for assistance is calling the agency in question, which often has only one or two people to answer, with one or two phone lines. If this wasn’t bad enough, most such places have a very limited window in which one may call to request an appointment. In other words, constant busy signals in which you’ll be dialing over and over, hoping to finally break through.

I’m sure the powers that be set it up this way quite purposely to discourage as many people as possible from seeking help, so that only the most persistent will successfully run the gauntlet.

I’ve hesitated writing about this — or anything at all — in the last few months, as it’s rather an embarrassing thing for me to be in this position at my age.

I’m grateful for the food stamps, especially, which allows me to have plenty to eat, but it doesn’t buy toilet paper or deodorant or cat food. And I think I would kill for a McDonald’s burger just about now.

It’s been said in the news that the economy is getting better. That might well be true, but I’ve seen no indication of it in my own life.

Another Phenomenal Trumpet Solo

•December 13, 2010 • 2 Comments

This is Maynard Ferguson again, recorded some time in the 1960s.   Ferguson, who died in 2006, was best known for his incredible range with the trumpet, easily able to hit notes more properly in the range of a piccolo.  As a teenager playing trumpet in the high school band in the mid-70s, this man was my trumpet playing role model.   Enjoy.


If You Don’t Have Anything Nice to Say…

•December 7, 2010 • 3 Comments

A few minutes ago, I saw a breaking news bulletin on Yahoo saying that Elizabeth Edwards had died.  This came  just a day after announcing that doctors had advised her that there was nothing more they could do and that she’d decided to stop treatments.

After reading the short announcement, I scrolled down to read the comments.  Though many people posted respectful condolences, many others saw this as an opportunity to spew hateful, grammar- and spelling-challenged remarks.  For some people, everything is an opportunity for partisan politics and no exceptions are made, even to respect the grief of those in mourning.  To such people, if you do not believe as they do, then you have forfeited any considerations of courtesy and common decency and it’s open season on you and yours.

I would think the old saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all”, should apply in such instances for everyone who has any character and integrity at all.   If you don’t like Elizabeth Edwards or her husband, fine, but simply don’t comment on such articles at all if you can’t be respectful.  A person’s death notice is not the time nor the place for partisan politics.

But the literacy-challenged trolls who haunt the comment sections of Yahoo News and other similar sites do not limit their vitriolic political spewing to articles relating to politics.   They post comments trashing their political bugaboos on nearly every article posted, even those that don’t have even the remotest thing to do with politics.   Apparently, no one has told these simple-minded fanatics that not everything in this world has to do with politics.

There are several ultra right wing politicians I find completely reprehensible,  but I would nevertheless grant them the respect of my silence if they or someone in their  family were to die and allow them to grieve in peace.  Time and place, people.   There are certain niceties that are the hallmark of a civilized society, and respect for the mourning is one of them.


Two More Versions of Harlem Nocturne

•November 6, 2010 • 1 Comment

Here are two more renditions of Harlem Nocturne, though I still like the Taylor version best.


Electrifying, Part II

•November 5, 2010 • 5 Comments

Here’s another piece  I played in high school, though not the same arrangement as is heard here, unfortunately.  It’s mislabeled as “Malaguena”, but the true title of this piece is, “La Virgen de la Macarena” or just “Macarena” for short.  It’s done by the phenomenal Maynard Ferguson, who was one of the finest players ever to pick up a trumpet.  I was also privileged to hear Ferguson play in 1974, and he was even more electrifying in person.   Enjoy.


•November 3, 2010 • 8 Comments

Continuing with my walk down musical memory lane, the song below is one we played when I was in the high school band, Malaguena by Stan Kenton.  I played trumpet on this when we played this as part of our halftime show.  I was lucky to find the same arrangement our band used.    We had some damn fine musicians in my band, and when we played it, it was just as electrifying as what you hear in this video.  Again, this another of the songs that made me want to take up music as a profession.  Listening to it now makes me wonder why I ever gave up music — all the old feelings came back.

Sex Set to Music

•November 2, 2010 • 3 Comments

Here’s another video of a favorite song, which I discovered during my teen years.   Recorded in the mid-fifties before I was born, by Sam “the Man” Taylor, this song is a perfect example of sex set to music.