Firsts and Hopefully No Seconds

This article has been haunting me since I read it a couple weeks ago. It’s about a début YA novel by Laurie Elizabeth Flynn, Firsts, about a girl who sleeps with young virgin males and teaches them about sex so they can turn around and give their own girlfriends a good first time. Sound ridiculous? Well, it certainly is, and the sad thing is that it’s not really new in YA “literature” and it’s marketed as a “realistic” novel and not as a comedy.

I got the sense that the publishers of YA novels were peddling their own “progressive” worldview around the time I started reading Vivian Apple at the End of the World awhile back. Publishers are always crying about how we need more diversity and more realism in YA literature. Every time I pick up Writer’s Digest, I see at least one article about the need for “diversity.” That diversity can come in the form of including characters of different races/ethnicities, different sexual orientations, different family lives… etc. The publishers want this diversity to be a reflection of reality, but it flies in the face of any reality I have ever seen. And apparently that “diversity” has extended to characters’ sex lives. Apparently, we’ve grown tired of the vanilla male-and-female-in-exclusive-relationship sex scenes in traditional romance novels and even in much of YA.

Yes, it is true that teenagers are having sex. It is true that sex is constantly pushed to teenagers via their own hormones and popular entertainment: the Internet, TV shows, music and music videos, movies, and YA novels. Yes, sex is a reality of life, but as I’ve said before on this blog, sex is probably the greatest creative power that human beings possess, and with great power comes great responsibility. It isn’t something to be casual about, especially when you’re 16, 17, or even 18.

I can only hope that Firsts is actually a cautionary tale about the dangers of promiscuity, and I can only hope that teenagers are smart enough to see it for its supposed moral: “judge not, lest ye be judged” and not for the route by which the author chooses to arrive at that moral. After all, a judgmental bigot is supposedly the worst possible thing one can be nowadays, but that’s a post for another day.

The Thursday Three #21

  1. If you were to attempt the Milwordy challenge (one million words a year), you would have to write about 2,740 words every day (assuming said year had 365 days). I think I want to try that challenge one of these years, but not this year since it’s already started. Maybe in 2020, when there’s 366 days. :)
  2. For the super-organized type A people among us, there is bullet journaling, the Week Dominator, and the Emergent Task Planner. Honestly, all I need for planning and organization is a regular planner that can be found at Walmart, but these tools could be useful if you have a particularly busy day ahead.
  3. Here is a scientific paper generator. All you have to do is add in the author names and you get something that looks great on first glance but makes no sense when read, so you end up with this:

    Reality aside, we would like to visualize a design for how RhineRhyme might behave in theory. Figure 1 details an embedded tool for improving IPv6. Further, our application does not require such a private management to run correctly, but it doesn’t hurt. Despite the results by Zheng and Williams, we can demonstrate that hash tables and Smalltalk are generally incompatible. Despite the fact that electrical engineers mostly hypothesize the exact opposite, our framework depends on this property for correct behavior. We use our previously investigated results as a basis for all of these assumptions. This may or may not actually hold in reality.

    Just don’t submit one of these to a peer-reviewed journal (or any kind of journal for that matter). It’s just for fun.

Desserts and Lent

Some things in life are so good and so sweet that you don’t want to have too much of them for fear that their goodness and sweetness may run out. These could be literal good and sweet things, like desserts, or something that’s incredibly enjoyable to you, like going to certain places, or even listening to music.

I have been thinking about these “dessert-type” things lately, and in the context of Lent, I have been thinking about other kinds of creature comforts, like air conditioning, hot showers, sleeping late, and being able to warm food up in the microwave.

The fewer “desserts” and creature comforts you have, the more you appreciate them. I guess that’s why “everything in moderation” is a good rule (but you always get some smart aleck saying “everything in moderation… even moderation”).

But Lent isn’t necessarily about giving up a material thing or even a food item. My priest said today (and I think he was quoting Pope Francis) that Lent is about giving up those spiritual stumbling blocks that keep you from God, like giving up envy or bitterness or impatience. These things, the things that keep you self-righteous, are what should really be cast aside, and it is much harder to cast them aside.

I’m not a huge fan of meat to begin with, so it’s not difficult for me to avoid it on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent. I can go without listening to music for months on end. Refusing to sleep later on the weekends and taking cold showers are no big deal. But giving up those abstract things is a real problem. I tend to realize what I should have done in a situation the moment after it would have been appropriate to do it, or I recall a tiny voice in the back of my mind that told me exactly what I should do in that moment, but I moved too quickly and was so convinced that my way was correct that I didn’t listen.

So maybe the goal of this Lent should be to listen more and not overindulge in my own sense of self-righteousness.