Malcolm Gladwell quote

People are so insecure and neurotic about their ‘material.’ It’s not your material. You got it from a thousand places, the person who uses it is going to take it in a thousand directions. Everyone should just chill out. I thought that Jonah Lehrer was sloppy and made mistakes and all that, but the real question is: Did you read his books and learn something from it? If you did, who cares whether the Dylan quote had that precise wording or had a slightly different wording? I don’t know, I just don’t have the strength and patience for these kinds of intramural arguments that writers have about whether this precise use of words matched this precise use of words. I’d just much rather answer the question of whether something is being learned, or something interesting is happening.

 

word

Colonialism rant

The crowning achievement of colonialism is how it has tapped into the human genome to recycle itself. The finely woven threads, the self-repairing structures of racism and sexism, fear of the other, the urge to destroy that which is experienced as diseased and loathsome, they all belong to colonialism, which I am now going to conflate with the human tendency to devalue other human beings based on feelings of disgust rather than facts. Now science brings us the truth behind the experience of conservatism, that it is based in physical disgust.

This disgust results in things as various as the relentless offering of young men to death in warfare, and old men fighting against young women guarding their fertility as they see fit in consequence. Generation after generation of old powerful men, in whatever culture and of whatever colour, offer young men into the maw of war and conquest, having dragged them from their parents’ arms and essentially from the mother’s womb. Kind people on the sidelines weep with loss as this happens generation after generation.

I have been struggling all my life with this fundamental flaw in human nature, the place where the sociability of human beings, which is quite remarkable, breaks down. Now I see it. It is in the rock-crusher of our capacity to feel deep, emotional, physical disgust that we are broken into pieces and fed into colonialism. It seems circular, and it is. There is a constant value, circulating in the human genome, of persons who feel disgust more readily, inbuilt and coiled in every cell. They will, being of a certain neurotype, congregate, and then they will amass resources and make of their disgust a common, noble reason to make war on anybody on the outside of the group.

Jesus God.

Unsettled arguments

Porn has permanently altered the relationship between men and women in North America.

Jeff is under the impression that research (most of this is non scientific precis) here, here, here, here, here, (showing how public health problems arise from porn familiarization) here, and here, (part of this research is more about how young women are affected by partners’ porn use) and cultural commentary like this is of no consequence.  My observation that men are experiencing sexual dysfunction in eyebrow raising numbers and women are being forced to emulate porn stars just to keep the interest of their partners is dismissed by Jeff as anecdotal.

If it wasn’t for porn, why have stats on word frequency for certain sex acts skyrocketed in the last thirty years?  If it wasn’t for porn, why would Brazilians be so popular?  If it wasn’t for porn why would women and men my kids’ age tell me about how porn and hookup culture have come winnowing through their lives like tornados, leaving busted relationships, shame, sexual dysfunction and very bad vibes in their wakes?  And let’s not forget the contribution of porn to misogyny.  Some poor schmucks watched their way through a lot of contemporary porn, and 90% of the sex acts depicted had the men verbally or physically or sexually abusing the women while the women either stayed blank or appeared to enjoy it.  Young men are often (and yes, anecdotally) surprised when the women they have sex with object to having their faces ejaculated on, or don’t want to have unprotected anal on the first date.  You can say this is poor socialization.  I think it’s porn. Porn changes behaviour.  Monkey see, monkey do.  Monkey do, monkey think.

Let’s get our feet under us, shall we?

I am a pro porn feminist.  I like and consume some forms of porn, and have publicly discussed my porn preferences on this blog, although it was a while back.  There is evidence to suggest that porn availability has dropped the rape stats; that legalization of child pornography decreases child sexual abuse; that pornography can be liberating, enjoyable and a perfectly fun part of whatever the hell it is that passes for a normal sex life in these parlous times.

I do think there is enough evidence to suggest that the inescapability of porn is harming the brains and manners of young people, and that an activity that’s really designed for adult brains is injuring young ones.  I’m not going to try to ban it or bag at the people who make it.  I am going to say that we are, as a culture, participating in a large scale uncontrolled social experiment about the effects of porn, and I predict the long term results for the sexual health of a hefty percentage of Canadians is going to be really, really shitty.

Jeff, given that your contention that porn isn’t a problem for men’s sexual health, would you care to provide the evidence that supports this?

22 ways rapists hurt men

  1. They reduce the number of women interested in sex.  Then they blame women for not being available.  They drag you along for that ride.
  2. They damage women physically and sometimes give them long term health problems which your taxes help pay to ameliorate.
  3. They spread diseases.
  4. They make men who don’t rape look bad by association.
  5. They use men who don’t rape as camouflage.
  6. They can sometimes leave psychological damage resulting in some women have a hard time being open and honest about their sexuality.  Some women vomit, cry or go limp during consensual sex because they’ve been raped.  If they won’t tell you why, it can leave you devastated about your own sexuality.
  7. They are convinced that women deserve to be raped, and con younger men who look up to them into believing the same thing. That younger man could be you, your brother, your son.
  8. They mess with your reality, your life, your future and your trust by raping women you love and continuing to be your ‘friend’. THIS HAPPENS WAY MORE THAN MEN REALIZE.
  9. They are the men who invented the friendzone, and try to convince you that the way out of the friendzone is rape.
  10. They tell women you love that no-one will believe them as they rape them, with the end result that the women you love will lie to you about what’s happened to them, by omission.
  11. They hurt people and spread the blame across all men.
  12. They expect you to stick up for them if they are caught.
  13. They trick you into agreeing if they say she deserved it, so you can be reduced to their level of selfishness.
  14. They gloss over how much of rape is rape PLUS child abuse PLUS mental cruelty PLUS messing over the reproductive futures of the women they rape, and possibly, as a consequence, you.
  15. They honestly believe that what they are doing is merely ‘having sex’, ‘getting laid’; their inability to feel remorse or consequences mars the relationships between and among men.
  16. They prop up the notion that sex is something women have that men want, rather than sex being a continuum of desire / consent / ability / availability.
  17. They misuse science to prop up their belief systems and turn up the volume when they are repeatedly proven wrong, to the point that any evidence that rape is not a ‘natural state of affairs’ gets shouted down.
  18. They turn men who don’t rape into faceless villains.  It’s hard to be the hero in your own life when you’re the bad guy in literally thousands of other lives.
  19. They kill the ability to be sexually spontaneous in some women, one of whom may end up being your partner.
  20. They rape your sisters, daughters, mothers and friends.
  21. They kill discourse by threatening rape to women who say things that irritate or refute them.
  22. They make it possible for human trafficking for sexual slavery to occur by making rape part of the breaking in process, hurting every close family member of the victim.

Well, it’s not my novel, but it’s writing

So, there’s an essay competition.  I wrote it, and now I think why the hell would I submit it even if I thought I could win…?  I have my own bully pulpit, thx.  The essay prize was a thousand dollars, but when I realized that all my good portraits of myself died with the last hard drive, that fixed it.  And so….

 

Why me? Why Vancouver?

For almost ten years, my husband’s request to be transferred to Vancouver by his employer sat in some HR equivalent of development hell.  Nothing happened, and given the desirability of the posting and Paul’s place in the line, nothing was expected to.  Then, three weeks after our family followed his employment from Montréal to Toronto, he got word to report for work in Vancouver in 72 hours’ time.

And he smiled.  He’d applied for three weeks of vacation at exactly the same time, and couldn’t be forced to start work until it was finished. Thus began our family’s transition.

We put everything we owned in a truck trailer – including the vintage motorcycle and sidecar that Paul later sold so we could buy a house – and sent it on its way. We grabbed the kids and the cat and flew to Victoria and dropped the kids off with the grandparents, and then we spent two weeks lining up a car, a place to live and schooling and drivers licences,

We laboured in that little golden slot of weather that we get sometimes in late October, when the days are deliciously crisp and cool, the air smells wonderful, and the sun on the mountains makes you think you’re living in a fantasy novel.

We wondered why there was a bird we could only hear at intersections.  We said Gag-lard-ee and Anna-kiss and locals choked on polite laughter. We found a house (after consulting an earthquake map for the safest locales) and got the kids settled, and began a love affair with Vancouver that continues to this day.

I can’t speak for the rest of my family, since time has kept us in the same city but no longer under one roof, but the shape and texture and beauty of the city has come to mean home as no other place ever has.  Memories bubble up.

The turbaned Sikhs teasing the waitress to bring them chopsticks in the Chinese restaurant, “What are we, uncivilized?” The silent explosion of flowering shrubs each spring, the lilacs, the rhodos and the cherries. The way people leave their Diwali lights up until Christmas. The Babel of accents and voices on the transit; the kindnesses I have experienced on the two occasions I’ve had car trouble and strangers appeared out of nowhere with cell phones. The ‘four o’clock stripe’ at sunset in the winter, just about the only time you can reliably see the sun. The hundreds of kilometres of lovely places to walk and ride; the hills that nearly gut you in the summer and cause articulated buses to splay out like drunks in the winter.

Watching my son do Winter Karate Training on Jericho Beach, marching in his gi into the water; paddling among the herons on the Pitt River, and then nearly dying of the effort required to get back to the dock when the tide was making.  Sunsets and sunrises of transfixing beauty.  Dealing with raccoons, skunks, coyotes, deer and bears, and once, the authorities had to tranquilize a cougar, mere blocks from the house.  Running into herons in every part of the city.  Once I startled one as I came around a corner on my bicycle and nearly fell off as a six food wingspan abruptly flung wide in front of me. The stairs at Wreck Beach and the 60’s vibe that greets you at the bottom.  Sadness at the ancient trees wrecked by a storm in Stanley Park; joy to see the statue of Lord Stanley the first time and read the beautiful words inscribed on it.  Asking Headwater to come play on the back deck for my brother’s birthday, and what an amazing concert that was.

 

There are things I’ve learned to dislike about Vancouver, but complaints are cheap.  I’ve learned to love my splendid city, to want to know more about her and the people who were here before the settlers came.  It was a happy accident that brought me here, and I’ll be staying here as long as I can.  Vancouver has given me a church community I cherish, co-workers whom I now consider my closest friends, and music and love and really phenomenal craft beer in abundance.

 

It seems strange to have been born on one coast only to find my heart’s home on the other, but Vancouver is a place that has taught me to respect the playful grip coincidence has on any human life.

An open letter to J.

who wants all the kinksters to stop promoting BDSM on the UU poly feed.  Best of British luck with that, darlin’.

 

letter begins…

I guess it all depends on whether you consider the uu-poly group to be a place to talk about kink.  I do, but it’s for the moderators to decide, if we aren’t a democracy.

I used to take what I thought was a moral stance on the subject of other people’s wacky sex practices, in line with how I was raised, of course, but once I figured out that what ‘paraphilias’ are, is a normal human response to various kinds of stress, plus wiring, plus repetition, I quit thinking it was necessarily a bad thing.  The moral issue is not whether it’s healthy by a narrow definition, but whether there is genuine consent.  Human beings of their nature have long childhoods and are incredibly social, and so experimentation with hierarchy in terms of dominance and submission is not just normal, it’s inevitable. And along with inevitable, we will get extreme. 

Paraphilias have been defined as a trifecta of sexuality that is extreme and dangerous and abnormal.  Funny thing; I think of rape the same way and yet we have a large constituency of people, both men and women, who think rape is part of the normal course of events – and a desirable one too, as it allows rapists to provide tools of social control for the society at large.
If we want to travel down the path of having our sexuality defined by those who will profit by othering us, then we’re getting off the UU train entirely.

In that regard the kink community has been leading the way for a number of years with an emphasis on consent for scenes. Humans contain a multitude of sexual possibilities and as long as all parties are able to give and obtain agreement for activities my opinion on whether those activities are harmful is just wind.
Paraphilias concerning those who cannot by nature give consent (children, animals, unconscious and disabled, as examples) need a better class of scientists and therapists to figure out what’s going on so it can be controlled for the benefit of all, because the people who came up with the DSM have harmed our culture almost irreparably; each successive iteration has been an object lesson in legitimized othering. I could start raving about the drug companies too and how long it took to get queerness out of the DSM but that rant’s been done better elsewhere.
Paraphilias involving consenting adults who play in safe spaces and in a fashion that isn’t a menace to public health are not my concern. Which is why I choose to call THOSE paraphilias kink, and will use the freighted medical term for people who get off forcing their violent imaginations and lust on those weaker than themselves.  Solitary paraphiliacs I just feel sorry for but I always was a softie.
I don’t want to other people.  Draw the circle wide, friends. We all need love and acceptance, and we have to model it, whether we feel like punching each other out occasionally or not, or want the (pick a minority group) – oops, I meant kinksters – to leave the room while we’re talking about our serious matters.
Letter ends
At least I didn’t say tone troll, evoke Hitler or tell her to go fuck herself, so there’s that.  I didn’t have permission to quote her letter, which was a masterpiece of liberal uptightness, srsly.

They warned me

They told me what would happen.  I started following racism eradication activists on twitter, and they told me, down to the last squeak of privilege and bleat of illogic and roar of cognitive bias and growl of hatred and whine of misdirection and concussive threat of personal violence and siren of tone policing, exactly what would happen to me when I started confronting racist speech in others, in public.  In a three round conversation, I got it all but the threat of violence, including how the other person’s spelling and grammar devolved as (I assume from the name) he completely lost his shit.

I’ve spent a lifetime avoiding conflict and trying to talk pretty; this is going to make the friendships I have with people who want to help me with the work even more important.  It already IS ugly.  Up until this point I’ve had no skin in the game.  That’s what privilege does.  Now I want to have skin in the game without getting my feelings hurt, and that’s just not going to happen, and I have to get over it, and I’m scared.

One of the things that is helping is learning about the Japanese-American and African-American troops as they served their country fighting in the Second World War.  They wanted to prove two things, their patriotism and their worth. Many made the ultimate sacrifice to demonstrate both.  As they fought in their campaigns, they encountered the worst of what human beings can do to each other, and helped destroy the engines of fascism and racism, although they could not eradicate those ideologies.  With their sacrifice in mind, I will get off my ass; I will quit whining; I will do the work.

An open letter to the Canadian Legion

Dear Canadian Legion:

In 1948 by Act of Parliament, the Canadian Legion came to own the Poppy as a trademark for marketing, advertising and fundraising activities.

These days, we encounter the poppy around the middle of October, usually outside a liquor store.

But I hate the thing. If I had a dime for every time I’ve stuck myself with a poppy pin, I could recover all the money I donated to the Legion to acquire one, usually once a year because they fall off.  It’s like they are designed to fall off and inflict pain, which certainly encourages remembrance, but I’m not sure it’s the right kind.

Since they are identical every year, cheapskates I know (including a member of my tribe) reuse them every year. I don’t, but I know people who do.

Please redesign your trademark so that you put the year on the center green bit, to encourage people to buy new ones.

PLEASE fix the fastener OR start making enamelled versions of the poppy.  It would be an effective year round fundraiser, especially if sold with branch numbers so local members could support their local with pride.  And instead of being, effectively, somewhat hazardous trash, once no longer worn, it would be beautiful jewelry.

With love and thanks to Canada’s veterans, and sincere appreciation for the work of the Legion,

AR Sloman

The funny things the characters say

Jeff took me for breakfast… the leftovers will make a loverly brunch.  We also did a shop, including two for one standing rib roasts.  Nom.

Teaching the homeless to code.

I said I wouldn’t, but I did volunteer for something at church; I’m doing esthetics for Sally’s birthday (which is also a choir day so she can’t sing and set up at the same time).  I will be talking to Sue about what she wants, since the Board is doing the service that day. Sue returned my steampunk hat and we had a lovely visit.  It was weird; I thought of her because I knew she was back from vacation and I hadn’t talked to her in yonks, and she rang me up within seconds of this thought occurring.  Ah, the message in the wind.

Trip to Toronto is not yet booked, but it is tentatively 26th Nov to 5 Dec.

Good news for prostitutes and women at high risk of HIV everywhere.

I just had a character whisper in in my ear “Shiny is health, sparkle is magic”.  It made sense in context. (Kima, if anybody cares.)

Jeff and I are watching Cheers.  Shelley Long as Diane makes me want to alternately slap her and make counted crossstitch samplers of her dialogue, but the rest of the characters, especially Coach, are so funny my occasional cringes are worth it.  It’s one of the many shows in my tv blackout period so I never watched it the first time.

I am reading Foucault for Dummies.  There’s probably only one person who reads my blog on a regular basis who will find this amusing.

We are also watching Caprica, which is way, way better than I expected it to be.  As I remarked on another subject, all this and Bear McCreary too.

pOp is feeling poorly, so I am sending him a big hug and a wish that he recover his normal level of grumpiness with all due speed.

 

 

 

 

Marijwhatnow?

The Seattle PD responds to marijuana legalization. pOp you MUST read this, it is the single funniest statement to the public evar by any PD.  The tone, the tone.

A friend who’s otherwise entirely left wing doesn’t support legal marijuana on facebook.  I disagreed with him, but not by taking issue with one substance.

My response:

 

Legalize everything.

The problem with marijuana legalization is that the state removes a tariff (essentially) and the profit from a wildly lucrative trade.  It is lucrative for those who build prisons and put disproportionate numbers of POC in them, lucrative for bad people with automatic weapons, and lucrative for state sponsored terrorists from foreign climes.

When you pull insane amounts of profit from the hands of bad (mostly) men, their response is not to roll over and play dead, it’s to find something else to profit from.  In this case it would be refined opiates and meth that they would now be trying to extract value from. Or they’ll push human trafficking instead, since the demand by men for teenaged girls seems to be entirely limitless.   I will be fascinated to see if the rates of meth use and reported human trafficking bump up, along with intergang carnage, in the places marijuana has been legalized.  It may be the revenge of unintended consequences all over again.

The Portuguese model of across the board treatment of drugs as a HEALTH issue has been running for 10 years and their HIV rates have plummeted, their societal costs for drug use are minimal, they’ve unclogged the courts and drug use across the board has been reduced especially in young people, and what sane human being doesn’t want to see drug use rates in teenagers fall.  I would be willing to hazard a guess that human trafficking is worse though, although I have no proof of that.

(That’s what I put on facebook – I could have said MUCH MORE).

Gendered slurs

Crikey, it’s not like I needed another project.  So here is what you might call a ‘substantially complete’ list of gendered slurs.  I don’t want these words coming out of my mouth, so I’m trying to find replacements.

Ballbreaker – woman

Ballbuster – woman

Bimbo – starlet

Bint – woman

Bitch – crank

Bitchy – cranky

Bleeder – woman

Boob – jerk

Breeder – woman

Broad  – woman

Chica – woman

Chick – young woman

Cocktease – unavailable woman

Cow – crank

Crow – crone

Cunt – cloaca

Dick – jerk

Dickwad – jerk

Dickweed – cloaca

Dog – not to my taste

Douche – jerk

Douchebag – cloaca

Dyke – lesbian

Feminazi – woman

Fish – woman

Frail – woman

Gigolo – sex trade worker

Girl – This one is troublesome.  If for a female under 14, yes.  For a female between 14 and 18 I prefer young woman or teen.  Over 18 – woman.

Himbo – escort

Ho – sex trade worker

Honey – woman

Kitten – woman

Mangina – feminist

Minger – woman

Munter – woman

Pussy – schlemiel (in the sense of being ineffectual)

Putz – jerk

Real girl – as opposed to what, but prefer woman

Rentboy – sex trade worker

Scrote – timewaster

Scrotey – trivial

Sexkitten – woman

Shemale – transperson

Skanky – unhygienic

Skirt – woman

Slag – not to my taste

Slut – enthusiast

Streetwalker – sex trade worker

Sweetie – woman

Teaser – woman

Tit – woman

Tosser – idler

Tranny – transperson

Twat – jerk

Wanker – incompetent

Weiner – jerk

Whore – sex trade worker

Witch – older woman

 

I left homo, queer and faggot off the list as those words appear to be in a state of flux regarding usage.  I do use queerfolk as an inclusive term.

 

Kittle cattle

This is an expression I was exposed to in reading Lucy Maud Montgomery.  I only got through the Anne books once, and not attentively; most of my Montgomery reading was the same two books, over and over again, because that’s what I did, when I was a kid, was to read books over and over again, like the Mary Poppins books and the Hobbit and the Narnia books, and then Lord of the Rings and then Dunnett, ah, Dunnett.  I obsessively re-read Blue Castle and A Tangled Web.  Like, a lot, and repeatedly, to the point I memorized great chunks of dialogue.

When I’m trying to be warm and funny and chumpathetic with human foibles and vices, it’s to Montgomery I look for the blessed tone.  She gave me characters of occasional dignity and variable worth; all more or less attempting to be good while surrounded with the potential for thunderous criticism inherent in a small Prince Edward Island town early in the 20th century.  Where people really cared about what their neighbours did, having no tv poor things, rather than strangers living in Babylon several thousand leagues away and anything you saw them doing happened three months ago, which is good because it keeps you in perspective.

In this environment kittle cattle means – easily spooked or set awry.  The descriptor from the text is “so intense”. To me it’s a combination of being easily startled and self-willed, ‘difficult to manage’.  Not fun to be married to, as I construe it.  A troubling person, perhaps with genuine mental health difficulty.  Liable to stomp off.

 

I’ve got rants in my pants

I called somebody out on using a gendered slur recently and he paused & adjusted his speech. Sometimes it’s that easy.  Now if I could just stop using my own slurs and replace them with something better.  I am in search of a few good words, to replace a few slur-ry ones.  I’m looking at YOU r-tarded and p-nsy, two words which shouldn’t even be coming into my mind, let alone leaving my mouth.  If the action is stupid, I’ll use ‘ill-considered’, and if the person is stupid to the point of being a threat to life, limb and body politic, ‘witless’.  P-nsy is more problematic.  I am thinking ‘mollescent’ or ‘mollusc’ or ‘spineless’, although if I use mollusc I am afraid the Old Ones will cotch me.  I’m working on replacing “Thank G-d” with “Thankfulness!” and I’m already well into replacing the exclamations “C—-t!” and “J—s!” with “Darwin’s Beard!”