Not Your Wedding

Planning your wedding is likely one of the most stressful events in your life. So it irks me when people complain about the couple's choices and call them selfish.

The couple has likely made concessions on any number of issues. Maybe they had to bump up their guest list to accommodate their parents friends. Or they cut the list to fit their budget. Or the bride couldn't get the dress she wanted. Or they were guilted into hiring someone's nephew as the photographer.

After accommodating so many demands and constraints, some choices are purely up to the couple. And so what if some of their choices are selfish? Its their wedding! Why is that so hard to understand?

Whether it's 50 guests or 500, no couple should be expected to consider and accommodate for the needs of each person they've invited.

Weddings are one of the few things today that still retain ideas of proper etiquette and obligation. Most weddings today are outdoors. Receptions are held in barns and bars. Ministers get ordained online. The line for which traditions are still expected and which can be tossed aside is blurred to near invisibility.

But weddings bring together multiple generations of family with very different ideas about what's acceptable. Meaning that there is no end to the amount of criticism that can be directed at the couple. Here's a short list of some of the things I've heard criticized about weddings I've attended:

An adult's invitation is mailed to their parents house in another state.
Someone wasn't invited to the shower.
The guest already gave an engagement present and is now invited to the shower.
Items on the registry are too expensive.
The wedding is in a location that better suits the groom's family.
It's a destination wedding, and the guest can't afford it.
The wedding is on a Friday, necessitating the guest takes a day off from work.
The wedding is on a Saturday, meaning the whole weekend is wasted on it.
The wedding is on a Sunday, meaning guests will have to drive directly home afterward.
The wedding is adults only, meaning the guest has to find a babysitter.
The reception has a cash bar.
The food is all vegetarian.
The ceremony is on the top of a mountain and the guest is afraid of heights.

During their bitch-fest, the guest invariably asks, "What do they expect me to do?"

The answer (in my humble opinion) is one that no one seems to want to accept: The couple doesn't really care what you do. They expect you to behave like an adult, figure it out, and leave them alone to deal everything else. They have too much else to worry about. And if the wedding is truly so inconvenient to you, I'm sorry to say it, but they might not really want to come. A lot of people I know have invited guests they don't expect to attend, but think they should when when alternative is snubbing them.

If you can attend the wedding, do so. But if you really can't, then don't! Sure, someone will probably criticize you for it. The couple will probably be a little disappointed. But so what? Just as the couple gets to decide on a destination wedding or a no-kids policy, you get to make your own decisions as well. Own it!

And really, how much time does any guest really spend with the couple at their wedding? Maybe you'll disappoint someone, but you won't be missed.

Don't attend if it's just out of obligation. You don't need to prove that you're a better person than your hosts because you were willing to inconvenience yourself. It's more likely that you're not going to have a good time, and no one wants a sourpuss ruining their party.

If you really think a couple is being selfish by not accommodating your needs, I's say it's time to look in the mirror.

Dirty Words: Should We Use Technology to Clean Up a Book's Language?

There's a new e-reading app out that searches for profanity and scrubs away those dirty, dirty words. It's called Clean Reader, and it has the publishing industry up in arms.

While it is illegal to make changes to copyrighted works, makers of the Clean Reader app have found a clever way around this pesky rule. Instead of republishing the works, they use an opaque highlighting feature to cover up the words in question. Critics of the app call it censorship, while proponents say once they own the book, they should be allowed to read it however they want. 

In practice, it's unlikely that the omission of certain words can truly block the offensive words from taking hold in the reader's mind. For example: 

"No ______ way!"
"I don't give a ____."
"You've got to be _____ me!" 
"I want to ____ his brains out." 

It's easy enough to fill in the blanks. 

In its current state the app itself seems fairly banal. But it does set a bad precedent for future technology that could, if we're thinking big, rewrite an author's text. If readers are not viewing the author's actual words, they can easily misconstrue the author's intention. 

But of course, we're not there yet. What we have now is software that searches out individual words to cover up. And rather than worry about a science fiction future that we are nowhere close to achieving, it might be prudent to explore the potential benefits of apps like Clean Reader. 

One obvious use for the app is its potential to allow schools to teach books that were previously banned for their use of profanity. Books that have been banned at least in part for their use of profanity include, JD Salinger's Catcher in the Rye, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird, John Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men, Richard Wright's Native Son, and Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.

We should remain wary of technology that promotes or enables censorship, but not at the cost of technology that has the potential to put ambitious, thoughtful, challenging books in more readers hands. 

I Don't Have Any Children And I Do Support Feminism

"Feminist Suffrage Parade in New York City, 1912" by This file is lacking author information. - This image is available from the United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID cph.3g05585.This tag does not indicate the copyright status of the attached work. A normal copyright tag is still required. See Commons:Licensing for more information.العربية | čeština | Deutsch | English | español | فارسی | suomi | français | magyar | italiano | македонски | മലയാളം | Nederlands | polski | português | русский | slovenčina | slovenščina | Türkçe | 中文 | 中文(简体)‎ | 中文(繁體)‎ | +/−. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons -,_1912.jpeg#mediaviewer/File:Feminist_Suffrage_Parade_in_New_York_City,_1912.jpeg
My Facebook feed is too often a source of frustration and anxiety.

A few weeks ago, one of my “friends” posted a link titled “I Am A Mother Of Two Children And I Cannot (And Will Not) Support Feminism.” The title surprised me, and so I clicked.

I don’t want to be consumed by the misguided worries of strangers on the Internet. It’s a circular time suck that only seems to result in caps locks insults and getting banned from commenting boards.

But in the same token, I have not been able to put my feelings about what this writer said to bed.

I want to tell the author that her sons are not threatened by feminism.

I want to tell her that chivalry is, of course, a great thing to teach her sons, because it goes hand-in-hand with kindness and respect.

I want to tell her that chivalry involves not just opening physical doors, but metaphorical ones as well. That welcoming a woman into a space dominated by men and validating her presence there is more important than offering to take her coat.

I want to tell her that it is okay for her sons to tell a woman they care about that she looks beautiful, but she would be better served if they told her that she is smart, kind, strong, or talented.

I want her to know that it’s alright for her sons talk with a woman they don’t know on the street, but that this is different from indiscriminately calling “hey beautiful” to any woman who walks past.

I want her to know that just because 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted, doesn’t mean that all men are rapists, but that it is still very important to talk to her sons about consent.

I want her to understand that women’s issues are men’s issues too, because we all need to do better.

I want her to know that if she fails to teach her sons how to support women’s issues, that she is doing them a great disservice. Pretending they will always know to treat everyone equally and won’t pick up on societal attitudes about gender, race, and religion is ignoring the problem.

I want the author to believe that her sons are not threatened by feminism. Because manliness, strength, valor, and chivalry should be valued equally as femininity, tenderness, sympathy, and respect.