24 November, 2014

FERGUSON, MO: Let the games begin

There's a first time for everything. I actually agree with Chris Rock.

The most racist comic I know--are any of his routines about something other than race? --tweeted this a few minutes ago:

Doesn't take 100 days to decide if murder is a crime. It takes 100 days to figure out how to tell people it isn't.

It's almost like a game, isn't it? "How To Get Away With Murder."

Yes, several witnesses changed their testimony, saw things and then didn't see them, didn't see things and then saw them. That's the nature of eyewitness testimony: so unreliable in stressful situations as to be almost useless.

However.

There are several facts that did not change throughout the trial: that Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown for the grievous offence of walking down the middle of a street. That Michael Brown was unarmed. That he was shot at least six times, and at least one of those shots, perhaps many more than just one, came well after Brown could have even remotely been construed as some kind of threat. That his shooting was part of a larger pattern of blatant racial discrimination which sees black youths targeted far out of proportion to any crimes they commit.

As an e-friend of mine tweeted: "It's insane. No trial, no public inquiry, not even a disciplinary hearing for officer Darren Wilson. Scot free, no consequences."

And I'm sorry, but I can't help flipping the races around. If Michael Brown hadn't been so brown, (a) I'm willing to bet he'd be alive today; (b) if he had been killed, the black officer who killed him would have been indicted long before tonight.

We're in for some black days in November.

t has been noted that many of the protestors are being bussed in from out of state, as if outrage was a peculiar quality limited only to Missourians. On the one hand, everyone with any concern for justice or human rights should be ringing Ferguson, MO a hundred miles deep tonight. On the other--that's not such a good idea, becuase--

Riots solve nothing. All riots do is confirm people's worst prejudices. As *another* friend of mine noted, "it's highly doubtful there was a crowd of white people ready to set cars on fire and run off with big screen TVs had Wilson been indicted." Give me one good reason why a hard-working store owner should have his livelihood destroyed out of this. What did he do?

Peaceful protest is one thing, and it's more than warranted here. Riots will only result in more bloodshed. Is that what's really wanted?
I

23 November, 2014

Recurring Nightmare

Here's another thing we say to the surviving spouse. 
"I'm keeping him in my thoughts."

...Where?

Where exactly in your thoughts does he fit? In between "my ass hurts from this chair" and "let's fuck the waitress"? What are your priorities?
--George Carlin (RIP)--"Things We Say When People Die"

-------

I wake up dead.
I've had this dream a good dozen times since I was a little kid, maybe more often than that. I wake up dead. It's hard to explain how I know I'm dead even before my field of vision starts expanding to impossible angles, but I know. Probably the same way I know I'm alive in the mornings before I open my eyes.

Like a helicopter lifting off, my perspective starts whirling slowly around the room. The details are always different. Sometimes I look down at my body and think it almost looks asleep. Other times I've been savagely murdered and hacked, almost minced. Sometimes there's just a newspaper article...that's when it's a continuation of another recurring dream, one in which I'm trying to teach a pretty girl how to swan dive: I bounce on the diving board, sproingy-sproingy-sproingy, and launch into my dive...except I keep going up. First the pool, then the city is lost to sight as I find myself high in the stratosphere, and only then do I curve and plummet to earth. As I'm bracing myself for the impact that will turn my body to paste, the dream cuts out to a black-and-white newspaper shot of my remains, and then I'm in my dead dream.

Regardless, I know the dream immediately. Oh, no, not this again.

If it's not suicide-by-impossible-swan-dive, I resolve that this time I'm going to gather some details about my surroundings. I never manage to do it: it's as if my disembodied eyes are on strings and everything I'm supposed to see is spotlighted while everything I'm not is in deep shadow.

There's then a jump-cut and I'm at my funeral. Here's where things come clearer, visually. This part of the dream is always different, too. Sometimes I'm in a huge and packed cathedral; sometimes I'm in a simple country church (more than once it's definitely been the church Eva and I got married in); one time it was a graveside service, and you couldn't have picked a better location for a grave if you tried: forest, overlooking a lake. 
I'm able to fit around the ceremony, observing the congregation, noting who's there and who isn't, who seems to be happy I'm dead and who is inconsolable. Often somebody I'd expect to be on one side or the other of that emotional equation isn't where he should be.

 When I was a kid I used to jerk myself awake at this point, because everybody was pointing at my corpse and laughing...and when I was a teenager there was one instance where all the men were taking turns pissing into my coffin. 

Last night there wasn't a soul there at all. Just a preacher droning on, his voice echoing in a church where I was the only other presence. There was music (there's always music--my dreams should have soundtrack albums). In this case the song was Corey's Coming by Harry Chapin, a song that really affects me every time I hear it. 
Not a sign of Corey, though. Or anyone else.

The worst thing wasn't the empty church. The worst thing was that I wasn't surprised.

Last night, for the first time ever, the dream didn't end at my funeral scene. I found myself Steadicamming up the aisle, making a right and entering a hallway, then a left into a small office. A computer sat on an old desk and before I knew what was happening, I was inside it--where my actual funeral was taking place.
No people, of course, any more than I was a people in this eerie blue digital world...but lots and lots of thoughts. Thoughts both fleeting and eternal, like everything else online. 

------------

I usually catapult up out of that dream sucking in air, heart pounding. Having been so recently "dead", it's a shock to the system to be alive again. This time I floated up gradually, trailing dream-strings like so much seaweed.  Some of them were knotted up and I struggled to untie them, feeling as if I had just dreamed something both personal and profound. 

I know what ingredients combined to make that nightmare stew. I heard that Carlin routine above yesterday for the first time in years; obviously that got filed away where it jibed with my recent (and not so recent) musing on the deceptive depth of purely online relationships. Add a soupçon of loneliness, stir vigorously and voilà. 

Laying in bed, dream both fading and solidifying, I think to myself:

ONLINE = UNDEAD

What's online stays online, of course: it's there forever, if you know where to look. Give me two minutes and I can find you the first thing I ever posted to the internet, in late 1991. It was quickly followed by a torrent more posts, in forums as diverse as can.politics, rec.arts.pinball, and (yes, indeed) alt.polyamory, among half a hundred others. The internet very quickly subsumed my waking life and before long I could not be said to have a waking life. I was hopelessly entangled in the Usenet: I'd invited it in, and it was sucking my lifeblood out of me, drop by drop.

I neglected my real-world relationships...they all migrated online. It's a world of pure thought (often impure thought, but whatever) and seemingly pure emotion, and that is a potent, heady cocktail for such as me. Only in hindsight--as in, this morning--did I realize that only one relationship which originated online lasted. With a very few exceptions, any friend I made in real life first is still a friend today, even if the relationship is largely online now. I'm certain of his place in my world and just as certain of my place in hers. The woman I married? I didn't have her email address until it was the same as mine.

The online relationships are almost  without fail ephemeral and uncertain. The only real exception I think  of is ironic given this extended 'undead' metaphor: it spawned in alt.horror in '92, and though I've never met her, I know she's a friend.
Excepting her, though, the more real emotion I pour into an exclusively online relationship,  the less solid it feels. 

It's not that these people are fake. Not at all. It's that the online realm takes real emotions and makes them indistinguishable from ersatz copies. "I'll keep him in my thoughts". Really? Where? This cause is important to me...so important that I will spend three seconds "liking" and "sharing" it. It occurs to me, for the first time, that pouring all these real emotions into a giant facsimile machine is probably a waste of energy. If only it didn't have such a bloodsucking hold on me.

Circumstances combined to deprive me of a computer for several years. I'd allowed the internet vampire to eat my scholastic career; any more feedings would (I'm not exaggerating here) imperil my life. It was to the point I was starting to forget to eat. I put a lot of effort into keeping access, piggybacking on my only friend's account; when she graduated, I was left pouring my money into Spectrum Internet Café...which promptly closed.

For two years I wandered around, leeched of most of my vitality, recoiling from the sunlight, not entirely sure how to even begin to start over in the real world. Very much like someone who has been bitten. Gradually, oh so gradually, with the help of a LOT of (offline) writing, I recovered enough of myself to make a friend who became a lifemate; she helped me with the rest of it. I'm not sure there are enough words in this language to express my gratitude for what she's done for me. I've been saved twice in my life, once by my stepfather and once by my wife. That's twice more than I deserve. I'm working to become someone who's worthy of it. 

Alcoholics say they are always alcoholics, no matter how long they've been sober. Likewise, I'm an internet addict. I've kept my addiction mostly in check this year, but it's been difficult and there have been days when I've slid back into an early-nineties mindset. 

The net hasn't changed much in twenty plus years. Oh, it's obviously no longer just on university campuses: now it's in the palm of everyone's hand. And there's endless video. But Skype aside, most people communicate online exactly the same way they did in 1990: with words. And the words are just as fake-seductive and often meaningless as they ever were. I've become more and more convinced that the sentiments behind them are real...and if they're expressed face to face it's still real...but in many cases putting it into a series of texts makes it fake anyway. Kind of the way vampires turn people into something that's not dead, but not living either. Undead.

Recognizing this, being able to put it into words and post them (online, natch) is important for me. It makes it easier not to throw my whole heart into relationships that don't reciprocate--and easier to blame the net, rather for the person, for that lack of reciprocation.  It's only the vampire doing what the vampire does, sucking all the bloody substance out. Dracula can't help his nature.



20 November, 2014

An Unjust Word

'A kiss is just a kiss
A sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As Time Goes By'
--"As Time Goes By", Herman Hupfeld (1931)

-----------

You know what's an unjust word? "Just".

I'll start off here with a big one: "just friends".

Oh, the pain of that phrase when you're a love-besotted teenager and you've convinced yourself the essence of love involves, well, spilling your essence. "Just friends" means you have to console her every time she's dumped by men who aren't worth a booger (or who aren't worth one of your boogers). "Just friends" means that at some point she's going to look at you, probably crying as she does it, and say something like "why can't men be more like you?" Because, you know, you're not actually a man, just a friend.

You grow up, you find love--it's usually hiding in plain sight in those people you call "just friends"--and you realize one day that you were right all around, the word "just" is a bad word...but for precisely the opposite reasons. You learn, with some people, that what you have is more than friendship--the word "just" belittles the relationship, makes it smaller than it is.

There isn't a word in English for that kind of friendship, and so we're stuck with the catch-all word I've written far too many times over the last ten years: love. It's a perfectly good word, to be sure...the only problem with it is that nobody knows what you mean when you say it. So you either don't say it at all, or you have to have a nice long discussion explaining the (ahem) ins and outs of what this particular flavour of love is for you, and making sure that the flavours match.

Friends are family you pick yourself--in that way, often, they become even more important to you than family is . It's ideal if you make your best friend of the appropriate sex your spouse...that way you have a friend who is family. That's Eva for me: if someone asks me to explain the longevity of my marriage, after I react incredulously at the mere thought of fifteen years being "a long time", I would probably first cite that she's my best friend. It makes breaking up doubly unthinkable because you'd be losing a spouse and  your closest friend.

 Then you have other friends, a very few, who would uproot their lives for you and who would help you with body disposal if it came to that. There's no "just" about it: they're not lovers, but 'friends' is pitifully inadequate to describe what they are. But, ha-ha, you can't even say "more than friends" without people thinking dirty thoughts. Even "close friends" is tainted. Screw it--if you're a friend with that kind of depth, I love you and I'm not afraid to say it.

Of course, sometimes there's a huge imbalance between what you feel for someone and what they feel for you. Call it unrequited love, or call it wishful thinking, sometimes you have to insert that word "just" where you hoped and prayed it didn't belong. That's a hard thing to do. I keep thinking I've learned the last of the big "adult lessons", that life school is over and I can finally get on with the business of living...the reality is you graduate from life school by dying and (I hope, anyway) levelling up. Letting relationships settle into where they're supposed to be, versus trying to inflate them into something they're not: it's usually easier to just part ways and move on.

"Just" is used in other places where it shouldn't be. "A kiss is just a kiss", for instance.

Um, no, not really. A kiss is usually considered more intimate than sex. Prostitutes, for instance, rarely kiss their johns. Given that many people would unthinkingly hold out sex as the most intimate activity two people can get into, well, the realization there's something more intimate than sex should always and forever exempt the word "just" from having to appear near it."
There are cultures where kissing on the lips is considered disgusting--you eat with those lips! Ewww! Suffice it to say that even a chaste kiss packs a fair punch in emotional power, and a serious, hungry kiss is like being hit by lightning while riding a different lightning bolt.

A "sigh is just a sigh"...not with me, it isn't. I have a whole sigh thesaurus I employ. There's an angry sigh (really? Were your mother's eggs expired?), an exasperated sigh (I just saw that damned commercial); the bored sigh (and now for an encore, we're going to twiddle our LEFT thumb!); the tired sigh (I think my eyes fell shut as my shoulders fell); and a whole bunch of levels of happy sighs, from mildly pleased up to delirious.  If I ever lose the ability to speak and write, I think people will still be able to decipher my mood fairly easily.

Last but not least, I want people to stop referring to their professions or jobs with the word "just". I've actually heard 'I'm just a teacher". That means you're only the most important person in the lives of the kids in the room with you, for as long as you share that room. "Just"? Seriously?

But it's more common with retail workers and "lowly' office peons. "I'm just a part time clerk". No, right now you're the face of an entire company in your customer's eyes. That's a massive responsibility, and if you think of yourself as "just" a clerk, you'll shirk that responsibility sure as shit.

"Just". It's a word that needs to go away.

Change My Mind, Please:

1) That we need easier access to alcohol in this province.

I need my mind changed on this because I don't think we do...and for thinking that way I'm treated like pond scum.

I think people have absolutely no trouble procuring more than enough alcohol. The cops are called to one street in our fair city an average of more than once a night. Alcohol has something to do with the vast majority of those calls. And while I understand that there are in fact people out there who can drink booze without turning into raving lunatics, the sheer number of people who do turn into raving lunatics makes me very leery of loosening restrictions on alcohol in any way.
"But it will be cheaper and there will be better selection!" Cheaper, yeah, just what we need. More selection, ha. How many different kinds of drunk are there, anyway?
"Keeping it restricted hasn't stopped people from drinking to excess, so we might as well make it cheaper and easier to get." Yeah. Restrictions on guns don't stop murders, so, hell, let's just hand them out in the schoolyard.

I shudder to imagine the midnight clerk at 7-Eleven having to cut off someone who's intoxicated. Those folks make close to minimum wage and they work alone. Given how crazy drunk people get if you deny them anything at all, the thought of denying them more alcohol chills my blood.

I know it works elsewhere--almost every elsewhere, actually. I just don't see how the culture here can handle it.

2) That texting is actually the bee's knees.

I'm sorry, I don't get the appeal. I don't understand why we had to shrink a perfectly good keyboard from "my finger rests on one key" to "my finger rests on six". I don't understand why *anybody* would prefer such a soul-destroying, dehumanizing form of communication over all others. Truth be told, I hate messaging/emailing people on Facebook with a bloody passion. I would much rather at the very least hear their voices. and even better actually see them face to face.  Instead I have to stop what I'm typing and restart in light of the text that just came in; my 'phone' rings every time the person I'm 'talking' to so much as clears her throat. And nobody but nobody can text as quickly as they can talk, or even type on an actual keyboard. I've seen people who can text so fast my eyes blur--I can still out talk them.
Messaging is great for getting in touch with lots of people quickly. But one on one, it sucks. I'm sorry. I keep coming back to "Ily", the three-letter acronym that means "I love you, but not enough to type seven extra keystrokes".

I have to remind myself that so many people prefer to message *everyone* and when they keep *me* at a distance I shouldn't take it personally. It's hard, though.

I had a friend call me last week. I get about one friend call every six months, and truth be told it had been several years since someone has called me just to talk. No time anymore, I guess. I say that knowing full well you can talk an a telephone while doing something else, even without speakerphone, but texting takes both hands and (usually) both eyes (unless you're driving, then you can occasionally spare half an eye for the road). But no, Ken, there's no time to talk to you.

I ask people if I can call them and outside that one friend who called me, I almost invariably get a no. No, Ken, no, stay behind your screen, we don't want to hear you or God-forbid see you, because if that happened we'd...I don't want to finish that sentence. I've stopped asking. There's no point. Pile up enough rejections like that and you start wondering if maybe the few people who do seem to want to hear your voice really don't, and are only doing so out of politeness.

So I'm stuck with the screen. I take what cold comfort I can out of it. To be fair, I've racked up a lot of nice things "said" to me just in the last week or two. I appreciate them, I really do. At the same time I wonder: would I hear them, face to face? In some cases I know the answer. It's no.

I need my mind changed on this more than possibly anything else. As you can see, it has a direct line to a lot of really shitty thoughts I'd prefer not to think.

3) Lotteries. Why. Just...why. The supreme irony is that many of the people who play the lottery will tell you with a straight face that they pay the damn government waaaaaaay too much in taxes. I mean hey, if you want to set your money on fire, go to, it's not my money. But it's utterly bizarre behaviour so far as I can see or say. It's even stranger that so many of the people playing the lottery are the ones who can least afford to do it. If someone could explain why so many people are so willing to throw so much money away in search of an impossible dream, I'm all ears.

4) Smoking. I have the utmost sympathy for smokers trying to quit (for the record: Champix if you have no history of depression, e-cigs if you do). What I don't get is why, in this day and age, someone would start. I could certainly understand people smoking fifty years ago, when it was marketed as a cure for the common cold. Now....? I can't help thinking anyone who starts smoking nowadays is mentally defective.

---------------

The rest of these things I don't *need* my mind changed on, because I'm perfectly content thinking the way I think...but I like to understand the people who think thoughts diametrically opposed to mine, and in some cases I can't do it.

Case in point: same-sex marriage.

Open invitation to anyone reading this who believes same-sex marriage is bad/evil/wrong. Look, I promise not to judge you or yell at you. In fact, if you can articulate your thoughts in some sort of compelling way, I'll bow down and kiss your feet. I've yet to hear someone explain to me just how same-sex marriage affects their marriage, or anyone else's, and why "traditional" marriage needs "protection" or "defence". I sincerely don't understand these things, and I'd like to. You won't change my view, but you'll help me understand yours, and that's a good thing.

I want to understand strongly religious people, for similar reasons. I want to know how you believe in an all-loving God, a God who loves unconditionally, and yet who judges, let alone condemns, let alone damns, let alone forever. To love unconditionally means that you do not judge, by definition--at least it seems to, to me. I simply can not accept a universe in which a Hell exists.

Pot. People who are viciously against it--why? Have you tried it? Do you discount its medical effects? I am not a pot smoker, but I do not understand the level of fear and loathing it presents to people. I especially can't figure out why the Harper government is so dead-set against a huge new revenue stream stream that only affects users, and likewise a solid blow against organized crime. Harper claims to care very much about organized crime, and he certainly hates the idea of raising taxes--well here's a way the government could cut taxes and still keep the same revenues. Why not jump at it?

And that's all I can think of for tonight. So come on, folks, change my view. I've had it done successfully on two issues in the last fortnight. Let's go for more.










18 November, 2014

Does A One-Eyed Trouser Snake Make a Man?

...or get a man made, so to speak?

Surprisingly serious question.

NSFW, adult themes, obviously

If you know me at all--if you even know of me--you can probably figure out I'm not the sort of man who would ever even dream of putting a picture of my penis on the internet. Under any circumstances. Ever. I wouldn't email such a thing to Eva; I certainly wouldn't send one to a stranger.

Sources, multiple sources, suggest that this is yet another way I'm something of a rare breed. I don't mean to exalt myself here, or anywhere when I say that. I'm just friggin' human, and I am not my penis.

I get offended enough on behalf of women whenever I hear of yet another 'dick-pic' thrusting around in some unsuspecting inbox. And yes, the crass innuendo is completely intentional: it's obvious that a "box" serves as a useful metaphor, as far as all these men are concerned. A box with holes in it. A receptacle.

What moved my disgust to a whole other level was the subtitle to this article.  "Men are all too eager to send them...sigh...and they get offended when you tell them to stop."

Say what? I was struck dumb at this--kind of the way Eva was yesterday when I told her that Giancarlo Stanton had signed a contract with the Florida Marlins for $325 million dollars--$154,321 per game. She reacted with mock horror to that, a flat refusal to accept that any one person could possibly be worth that kind of money to anyone. 'Nonononononononono" seems to sum it up, along with "stupid, stupid, stupid..."

I've long known of this scourge of the internet, of course. It's right up there with Nigerian princes. Back in days of yore when the 'net was text-based and viewing images took real know-how, the equivalent was a marriage proposal. Often it was a man's first point of contact with a woman...I couldn't believe that even after I read through dozens of them aimed at a woman who was to become my girlfriend. They were all very similar, bragging about how well the men behind them could "provide" for her, and most of them seemed to originate from somewhere on the Indian subcontinent.

Now, of course, the Internet is much more commonly used for, shall we say, commitments of a shorter duration. And the currency of choice for males is a picture of the equipment they wish to commit with. It's another of those things where you don't know whether to laugh, cry or scream.

Getting offended at any reaction other than slavering drooling lust is--well, let's go well beyond the pathetic here. This points to a deep, deep problem in society that I suddenly realize is going to be much harder to solve than I'd thought.

Because if these men are offended that you could possibly demand they stop sending you cock-shots, it suggests they don't understand in the slightest that they're doing something wrong.

And what are they doing? They're objectifying themselves. Gleefully. They are announcing to women and the world, I AM MY PENIS. They have absolutely no problem with this.

Which means they almost certainly can't understand women's objections about being likewise objectified.

-----------

I can't speak to what it is to be a young girl, but as a young boy you discover the joys of your johnson right early. Babies get erections in the womb; once they're out (he said, autobiographically), it doesn't take long for them to realize that touching it feels good and rubbing it against things feels even better. Your parents tell you--well, mine did--not to do it, but c'mon, it's just hanging there, a twig and two berries, and it begs to be played with. It's your own personal Lincoln Log. Flop it around, slap it off things, squoosh it into shampoo bottles (oh, dear, am I scaring anyone?)
And that's before, long before, the real erections come. Sigh, another pun. Yeah...the first time that happens, you think you broke your dick and you wonder why you suddenly smell fish when you haven't eaten fish for like a week. But it feels so damn good that you do it again as soon as you can--which is probably in a few minutes. "They" tell you that you'll go blind, so you close your eyes and tighten your grip. "They" say you'll grow hair on your palms, so you go find something hairy and vigorously hump it and think to yourself, "wow, this feels incredible".  It's about that time you suddenly volunteer to do more household chores, specifically the laundry.

Uncomfortable yet? American Pie is a DOCUMENTARY, is what I'm trying to tell you.

Every...single...girl in every...single...class is fuel for your fantasy-fire. The pretty ones, of course, but also the ugly ones (you've got more of a chance with them. right?) Women: I assure you that many men have thought of you while, ahem, performing manual labour. That may titillate you, it may disgust you. Doesn't matter.   A teenage boy is a horndog of jittering hormones and he pitches tents in his pants without warning or explanation, so he rushes to make one up...the nearest bit of female flesh is as good an explanation as any.

Then, if you're good and lucky, you get to experience sex sometime before you're collecting old age security at seventeen. Me, I was nineteen and naïve as all get-out and I think that was where I first deviated from the standard sexual script.

Because my first time wasn't all that great. It wasn't for her, either. There was the matter of the condom...guys don't masturbate with condoms on, and it really is like trying to operate with a winter glove on. There was the larger matter of the fact I didn't really love her, nor she me. We thought we loved each other, of course, for values of "love" applicable to naïve nineteen year olds. I've learned a hell of a lot about love since, and I'm sure she has as well: she's married to her high school sweetheart, the man I briefly supplanted, and they have at least one child. I wish nothing but the best for her, despite--no, because of--the horrible break-up we went through. I wasn't right for her, she wasn't right for me, and I think on some level we both knew it all along. Hell, our first dance was Meat Loaf's "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad" ("I want you, I need you, but there ain't no way I'm ever gonna love you")...and my first sexual experience had Air Supply's "Making Love Out Of Nothing At All" as a soundtrack..you'd think I've have realized something was amiss much sooner.

But anyway...after that first experience, sex came off its pedestal for me. That first time wasn't the last time I "made love out of nothing at all"....but I did eventually learn that sex is so much better when love precedes it. I'm not sure sex "makes" love at all; that phrase, "making love", has always confused me.

Evidently many (most?) other men either had better first experiences than I did, or were willing to stick it out the way you get past your first hacking attempt to smoke a cigarette. Because there seem to be an awful lot of men of almost all ages who are still acting the way I did at fourteen.

Yes, sex for men feels exquisite. Though I have to tell you, it feels better for women. I can't even remember which woman told me this, but it stuck with me: you have an itch in your ear and you scratch it. Now, which feels better, your finger or your ear?

You don't see women pursuing sex as avidly, as dog-with-a-boner, as men do because women have been culturally conditioned to believe something is wrong with them if they like sex too much. Remove slut-shaming from the picture and you'd see women on the prowl at least as often as men are. But even then,  I find it hard to imagine a world where you'd see as many slots in random internet messages as you do tabs.

Maybe it's because, evolutionarily speaking, sex is an end for men and a beginning for women. Men can lay 'em and leave 'em; indeed, from a solely genetic perspective, it's advantageous to impregnate as many women as possible to ensure offspring. Women are stuck with nine months of various kinds of hell and then years of childrearing. We're only into our second generation, as a species, with reliable birth control--that's far, far too early to be expecting women to act as if the shackle of likely pregnancy has been lifted.

I'm not sure how to solve the dick-pic problem. I only know it needs to be solved. Because as long as there are dick-pics, there will be rampant sexism and objectification of women.









17 November, 2014

Do Clothes Make The Man?

Story here: short version is a male TV anchor in Australia wore the same suit on air every day for a year without anyone noticing, even as his female co-host was routinely praised or criticized for her outfits.

"You look a bit like Sheldon Cooper with your clothing choices today," said my darling wife on her way out the door.
True to form, I failed to see the problem. I was (and am) clad in a pair of what are for some reason called pajama pants (I don't know any--well, adult male--who wears anything more than maybe underwear to bed) and a sweater. Black and grey all around, what's the issue here? I had no plans to go anywhere.

I know better if I'm going someplace...I'll wear jeans in good repair at the very least...but I'll do it grudgingly. It's not like I'll complain to anyone other than the inside of my own head, but I simply do not appreciate most clothing. My sole criterion for clothing is this: is it comfortable? If yes, add to cart. If not, let it rot.

Most of my professional life I've had to wear a uniform of some kind, and they're always ill-fitting, itchy, and generally unpleasant. And that's without having to wear, say, a suit and tie, which is low-grade torture that nobody with any sense would willingly put up with. And yet we all do. Not only that, we treat people vastly differently depending on whether they're wearing a suit or not.

And yes, I know this from personal experience, too. Apparently I clean up well: I've drawn countless double-takes and even a few triple-takes on those few occasions I suit up. I'm supposed to feel flattered at this. I don't. I feel annoyed instead. C'mon, people, explain this to me. Did my hair change colour? Did this suit come with a six-pack? Can I suddenly leap tall buildings in a single bound? Am I suddenly smarter, funnier, more compassionate? 

You know what I think it is? A suit costs anywhere from, what, a hundred bucks on up into the thousands. If I can afford to waste that kind of cash on stuff to cover my body, who knows what I might buy you?

Yeah. a suit makes a man attractive. But apparently nobody notices a man if he wears the same suit every day for a year.

Women, I ask you: what would happen if you wore the same outfit two days in a row? Let alone a week straight? Let's assume it's properly laundered and you don't smell like deodorant failure. Wouldn't matter, would it? You're probably horrified at the mere thought. People would talk. Your professional reputation would be ruined. All over some scraps of cloth.

One of my dear friends--a woman, oddly--thinks much the same way I do: she owns the bare minimum of clothing and she wears whatever she feels like (within reason) on any given day. I've kidded her about it...but I hope she understands the sincere admiration behind my jibes. She's smart and frugal and as far as I'm concerned she's got her priorities straight.

Even she wouldn't wear the same thing day in and day out for a year. Hell, I wouldn't do that, not even on a bet or a dare. I'd get sick and tired of doing laundry every single night, for one thing.

Look, I kind of get it. All of us use our eyes...supposedly men use theirs differently from women. A study has found that men are significantly more motivated by sociosexual visual cues than are women; the hypothesis is that rapid response to such visual cues ensures men a great chance of passing on their genes. (You never hear that women are interested in passing on their genes; why is that?) Maybe my crappy vision has led to a disconnect, or at least a distrust, between how I see things and how things are, and that explains why I almost completely ignore outward appearances.

But the thing is: things, and especially people, often aren't how they look. We all know this: we've all heard "don't judge a book by its cover". This makes me wonder how and why people, especially men, routinely disregard such a basic lesson.

Women, by and large, have their own oddities. Shoes..big one there.  It's a given that high heels absolutely wreck most of your body. Women insist on wearing them anyway, claiming that men insist they have to. Not this man, it goes without saying. I'm told they're sexy. Yeah...nerve damage, spider veins, and soreness everywhere...that gets my motor revving, how about yours? If they're not wearing heels, they're wearing sandals or flip-flops or something else guaranteed bad for the feet. So much masochism.

Shoes are also the first thing women notice on men. This utterly baffles me. I mean, I understand if the guy's wearing hip waders in the desert, or if there's a big hole in the toe and the sole is flopping, that's bad. Beyond that kind of obviousness, what the hell are you looking at shoes for? Do you interact with them? Do they tell you if the guy's a cheater? I mean, of all the things you could be looking at, feet seem to be the silliest. Hello? I'm up here.

I can hear you now. If all he cares about is his own comfort, he's a selfish unfeeling prick.

Dead wrong.

I've been called a lot of things, but in my entire adult life I've never been called selfish, unfeeling, or a prick. Oftentimes I wish I was at least a little more unfeeling and selfish and prickly. Here's the thing: If I'm not constantly having to flex my toes, or scratch myself, or concentrate on my tie not choking me to death, I'm going to be able to spare a lot more attention for you (and you and you...)

I tell you right now, allow people to wear sweatpants or pajama pants to work and productivity would skyrocket. Men--men could probably get away with it. Women, not so much....and that's not just a shame, it's a travesty. "It's not professional!"--look. Obscene tattoos are not professional. Nudity isn't professional (though how I wish I lived in a world where it was...it'd save me a lot of money on scraps of cloth. BEHAVIOUR may not be professional. Clothes...are clothes. If they're clean and in good shape...that's good enough for me.









12 November, 2014

My Life's Lesser -- And Greater -- Joys


  • That slow dawning of consciousness, wrapped in layered blankets against the chill of the room, with a cat purring away to itself in the nest it has made at my knees.
  • Sometimes, I intentionally wake up just so I can slide blissfully back down into sleep.
  • Getting up before the sun and seeing it safe into the world for another day.
  • Sleeping in (but not too late, else the day is shot before it starts).
  • The shower. It sounds so dirty--hot and wet and dark and steamy--and makes me feel so clean.
  • The first use of a freshly laundered towel. How it slurps the shower residues off me from the top of my head to my knees.
  • How Tux tries to dry off the rest of me -- with his tongue.
  • The donning of clothes, especially comfy clothes, and especially especially new socks.
  • The Giving Of The Things to the Tux. Never have I seen such an old dog act so much like a puppy as when Tux knows his Cheese and his Biscuit is coming.
  • That first shot of coffee. It's a shower for the inside.
  • Going to work. Take it from somebody who doesn't right now, the work is secondary to the people at the work, and I miss them.
  • Staying home. Take it from somebody who has gone to work, staying home is nice, too.
  • That first step outside. The weather doesn't matter: you can feel invigorated by the cold, caressed by fog, warmed by the sun, cuddled by the breeze, cuddled with authority by the wind...rain is hard to get excited about without an umbrella, but remember; there is no bad weather, only bad clothes.
  • Peace and quiet. Turning off the yattering television when Eva leaves for work--the only joy in her going to work.
  • Petting cats. And the dog, but mostly the cats. As much as I love my Tux, he doesn't purr.
  • Connecting with friends on Facebook. Feeling like I make a difference in their worlds. KNOWING they make a huge difference in mine.
  • My niece Alexa and my newer niece Lily: watching them discover the world is a sight to behold.
  • Reading. Nothing else opens the outer world half as well.
  • Music. Nothing else opens the inner world half as well.
  • School. Not the commute there, but the actual experience.
  • The first hour of the commute home from school, which I share with a classmate now: it makes the bus bearable.
  • Anything Eva makes for supper.
  • Watching the Toronto Maple Leafs (but only when they win). 
  • The slow stealing of fatigue up your body and the knowledge that bedtime is coming.
  • Bedtime. To sleep, perchance to dream.

11 November, 2014

...But Many Are

My previous entry rubbed some folks the wrong way, and so I would like to clarify my thoughts on this most somber of sunny days. Remembrance Day, Armistice Day, Veterans' Day, call it what you will. It matters.

Several times at school and many times at work, I was the one asked to give the announcement at the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. I've read "In Flanders Fields"  for an audience on several Remembrance Days, and I make a point of reading (when I can), "Dulce et Decorum Est", linked in the last blog, as well. It conveys, as few other works in my experience can, the horrors of war and the birth of a global cynicism that has deadened our society.

I don't have any direct link to the military in my family, but my father raised me to respect service, and I do.

One friend of mine gently chided me yesterday for what she perceived as criticism of the uniform and what it stands for. She feels very strong that the choice to join the military does automatically make one a hero--after which point, of course, one is obligated to live up to the heroic standard. That some disgrace their uniforms does not disgrace the nobility for which a military is supposed to stand: the steadfast determination to protect strangers, even in the face of death, is possibly the highest ideal to which a human can strive.

It's a pity that on so many occasions their deaths and maimings accomplish so little. It's a pity that returning veterans are so often treated with contempt by the very governments that sent them off to die in the first place. It's nothing short of disgusting that war has become just another industrial endeavour...and THAT's what I was vociferously protesting yesterday: the weird dichotomy that glorifies the soldier while remaining resolutely ignorant of what it is that soldier confronts.

I will explain that.

Once a year, we stop to remember. Once a year, for a whole minute or perhaps two, we're asked to consider the fallen and those who stand ready to fall. We pay them a minute or two's worth of respect; they paid with lives and limbs. And after that minute or two is over? Back to business as usual, killing and being killed, for small causes made great by a society that is thoroughly infatuated with war. It's infiltrated the language: the War on Drugs, the War on Poverty, the War on Christmas(!) It's so thoroughly a part of our culture that it sickens me: the average child sees thousands upon thousands of deaths long before she reaches the age of ten. We rush out and buy the latest instalment of Call of Duty so we can play-act war even more realistically. And most distressingly, we get all jingoistic about it.  All sentiment, no substance. Even today, in many cases, it feels as if sentiment has won out.

If we really cared about peace, we wouldn't be at war so damned often.

I think most soldiers would agree with me. For all the stripping of individuality that is the hallmark of all things military, these people remain people, with minds and hearts and souls of their own. Most of them join with ideals held aloft like banners, and many of them live up to and surpass those ideals, in life and in death. I feel very strongly that the overarching causes these men and women fight for have been warped beyond recognition. Most of them aren't aware of it; I doubt many of their commanders are truly aware of what they're really fighting for. Far too often, it's not freedom.

But that does not lessen the sacrifice. Indeed, for me it makes it even more poignant. What passing bells for those who die as cattle?

I remember. Not just today, but every day. I wrote this entry ten years ago today and I stand by it. Saluting.