aeternamente replied to your photoset: Dongfeng Race Team training for the…

Tuesday, May 30th, 2017

Huh… when is this starting?

The start of Leg 1 (Alicante, Spain -> Lisbon, Portugal) will happen on October 22. So just under five months from now.

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I mean if you count the KitR characters’ roles as also being KitR characters, then technically Poe, Annabel, and Lenore are KitR characters who are also in Poe Party, but I don’t know how pedantic you’re being on this point…

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

Ooh, that’s an excellent point. Thank you!

I’d forgotten to factor in the retconning of ATTV as in-world for KITR. Turning in my pedant badge…

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echojar replied to your post:  For scienceseveral months?sophisticatedajumma replied to…

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

echojar replied to your post:  For science

several months?

sophisticatedajumma replied to your postFor science

6 months??

flameysaur replied to your postFor science

I feel like a month or two.

aeternamente replied to your postFor science

since at least the beginning of the year i think…

About 5 months, as it turns out. (I thought it had been longer.) Replies went away around the beginning of November.

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aeternamente replied to your post:flightofthelbd replied to your post:DO THE THING…. You’re…

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015
You’re not Mr. Burns! That icon is a lie!

Old me might have been bothered by that. But new me just thinks, “Yes… excellent.”

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aeternamente replied to your post: My opinion (possibly completely wrong)… If it is a matter…

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

aeternamente replied to your post: My opinion (possibly completely wrong)…

If it is a matter of experience, it seems SCA’s participation is an essential step toward women sailors gaining enough experience to be more competitive in the future. Doesn’t make it any less heartbreaking at the present, I’m sure.

Yeah. At the moment they’re hampered by the legacy of the previous lack of opportunity. But every mile in this race adds to their experience. And the current poor result is part of that experience they are gaining — arguably the most important part of it.

I’m sure it’s disappointing, given their years of preparation and the dreams they probably had of doing better. But the feedback they’re getting is honest feedback, and it gives them the same opportunity to identify and fix their shortcomings that made the more-experienced teams as good as they are today.

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Any commentary on what you’ve observed of the gender dynamics in the VOR? Are there any women on teams other than SCA?

Friday, November 7th, 2014

I have been thinking about that, yeah. Details after the cut.

From the beginning, the storyline of there being an all-woman boat was compelling for me. I realize that was intentional on the part of the sponsor and the central VOR media operation, but I don’t begrudge them that. They’re in the business of trying to get people interested in the race, and the all-woman team has a built-in storyline that is going to interest a lot of people, including people who haven’t previously paid much attention to competitive offshore sailing.

There are no other women competing this time around. There have been 4 previous races (out of the 11 Volvo/Whitbread races that preceded this one) in which there was an all-woman crew, but this is the first time since the 2001-2002 race, and arguably the first time ever that a woman’s team has competed on an equal footing in terms of the quality of the boat and the resources of the shore operation.

The one accommodation to gender in the VOR rules is that any team composed entirely of women can have 11 crew onboard (plus the 1 OBR who doesn’t sail the boat), as opposed to the 8 + 1 limit for the other boats. Racing a VOR 65 is very dependent on upper-body strength for things like hoisting and sheeting in sails and shifting “the stack” (the unused sails and other gear that they are constantly moving around the boat for optimal weight placement). The consensus seems to be that having the 3 extra crew doesn’t get SCA all the way to parity, especially for the shorter in-port races where completing maneuvers quickly is crucial. But it helps.

Where they might make up for that somewhat is with their on-board crew dynamic.

I grew up racing on sailboats (because my father raced, and dragged his kids along with him). This was mostly amateur racing in southern California, with the longest races only lasting a few days. So it was a very different sort of thing than the VOR. Still, it gives me a (possibly misguided) sense that I can relate to the on-board dynamics you see in the videos.

A racing sailboat is an intense environment. You’re cooped up in a tiny space with a group of people for an extended time. You’re dealing with cold, heat, discomfort, motion sickness, sleep deprivation, mental and physical stress, and the added stress of competition. Sometimes it can be frightening, even physically dangerous. Other times it can be boring. And you’re trapped. Whatever you’re experiencing, there’s no escape.

Everything ends up being magnified. If there’s a positive energy, it can be wonderful. If there’s a negative energy, it can be horrible. Having women in the crew, in my limited experience, can help make the energy more positive.

I don’t want to take it too far, because every crew and individual is different. But I’ve raced with both male-female and all-male crews, and it’s my sense that there’s a particular kind of emotional intelligence that tends to be present when the crew includes women. It’s a (potentially sexist) cliché, but I think having women on board can have a civilizing effect. At least, in the absence of women I think there is a greater risk of a certain kind of macho dynamic taking over.

I feel like I can see some of that in the various VOR teams. At one extreme is SCA, which under Sam Davies’ leadership has demonstrated a nurturing, cohesive crew dynamic. Even when things are going badly (and things certainly went badly for them at various points during Leg 1), there’s a sense of the team looking out for each other and pulling together.

The other crews all show their own versions of that kind of team dynamic, but there are differences. Not all those differences are gender-based; there are other factors at work like age and national origin/culture. And again: individual differences. The skippers and watch captains, especially, put their personal stamps on the way things run.

If you watched video of the finish today, you saw a very different kind of on-board dynamic on Mapfre than on SCA. I don’t think it was just the difference between a leader seeing their lead erode and a follower seeing a chance to pass. Mapfre in particular has been generating a lot of talk among sailing obsessives because despite having one of the most-successful and experienced crews in the fleet, they haven’t seemed to gel as a team, with the result that the on-board decision-making and performance seem to have suffered.

And then you have Dongfeng, where a small number of experienced people along with a group of very inexperienced people seem to have come together really well, such that they’ve outperformed some observers’ expectations.

But getting back to gender, there’s a particular kind of unpleasant male-specific gender dynamic that I mostly haven’t seen on the VOR boats. Where I have come across it is in the discussion forums at Sailing Anarchy, a popular site for online sailing discussion. I won’t say it’s commonplace there, but that it even happens at all kind of shocks me. I’m talking about the kind of overtly misogynist online sexism that I’m sure I don’t have to describe to anyone who’s both 1) active online and 2) a woman. But I’ve been spending so much of my time on Tumblr in fandoms that skew toward women that I guess I’d forgotten how bad it can be.

The closest thing I’ve seen to that sort of attitude on the VOR boats have been a few moments in videos from Alvimedica. I don’t want to make too much of those moments. But I’ve thought about them.

One moment was from early in Leg 1, when Alvimedica watch captain Mark Towill had his 26th birthday on board, and the team posted video of him receiving a present of a couple of Playboy and Penthouse magazines. It wasn’t the fact that it happened that bothered me, but more that the Alvimedica shore operation thought it would be a cool video to add some music to and post on the team’s YouTube channel. That made me think, wow; this media operation is being run by dudes, and more, by dudes who aren’t concerned at all about potentially alienating some of the women in their audience.

The later moment was just a brief comment in a video from day 21, when Mark jokingly told skipper Charlie Enright, who was answering a question from the OBR, “He’s talking about the weather, you douche.” And granted, they were slatting in zero wind, had just lost a bunch of distance to the boats around them, and it was just playful dudebro joshing of the sort that is completely unremarkable in a context of a bunch of young American males hanging out together and blowing off steam by humorously putting each other down. But to my Tumblr-sensitized ears it came off as a gendered slur.

Alvimedica has the youngest and most American crew in the VOR. As someone who came from the same cultural context and has only recently had his own consciousness raised somewhat, I’m probably more sensitive to this kind of casual sexism than I otherwise would be. I’m not saying the sailors on Alvimedica are bad people. But to my eye they exhibit signs of some problematic and unexamined views about women that are extremely common among young male Americans.

The crew of SCA face a lot of hardships. Besides fighting against the same storms and doldrums and monster waves and unappetizing food and broken heads and physical drudgery as the rest of the teams, they’re also fighting a battle for acceptance. Just by being there, by taking on the challenges of the race and facing them as women, they’re sending an important message.

I think that’s pretty cool, and potentially a more significant accomplishment than crossing oceans or winning races.

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aeternamente replied to your photoset:It’s neck and neck, but ADOR’s neck keeps being… I’m…

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014
I’m starting to recognize team names and such. I have a feeling that by the time this is all over, I’ll have picked favorites and everything. Being a vicarious fan of things on tumblr has taken an interesting turn…

I wanted to mention, now that there’s a chance of a bit of a breather, how much I appreciate your, and any other follower’s, willingness to stick with my blog through my recent spate of obsessive VOR coverage, despite your (presumably) having no particular background or interest in competitive sailing.

In the interest of nurturing whatever nascent interest you might have, please feel free to ask about anything you’re curious about. Because you know I’d be all over talking about that.

Though I suspect it might well be the case that you find the current level of discussion entirely adequate, with no need to augment it. :-)

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What happened to your icon? I am thoroughly disappointed. I thought we were both confirmed members of the i-will-never-change-my-icon club, but I guess I was wrong. (JK it looks great!)

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

More detail here. But the answer to your “What happened” question is (spoiler): Life. Life happened to it. :-)

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the-eldest-woman-on replied to your post: ibmiller asked:Oooh, tell me abou… So what was the…

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

the-eldest-woman-on replied to your post: ibmiller asked:Oooh, tell me abou…

So what was the movie?

anonsally replied to your post: ibmiller asked:Oooh, tell me abou…

You can’t post something like this and not tell us what movie it was! (Well, I guess you can. You just did. But please consider filling us in on that detail.)

ibmiller replied to your post: ibmiller asked:Oooh, tell me abou…

Seconded! What movie? I feel you on the weariness-I think some of the comic book movies are a bit more, but on the whole, yes, big dumb loud.

aeternamente replied to your post: ibmiller asked:Oooh, tell me abou…

Fourthing the request to know what the movie was. Our curiosity is piqued.

Whoa. sophisticatedajumma was right; that Scheherazade trick really works.

Sorry to take so long to get back to you. Like many in the tech world, I’ve been extra busy today dealing with the Heartbleed vulnerability.

It was this movie.

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