Sunday, May 31, 2009

I was tagged with that covers meme...

Damn you JLK, damn you to hades!!1!!!

All right - the problem we have here, is that there are several covers I really love and in the interest of saying fuck you, to internet memes, I am posting them all. This is not, as one might assume, a comprehensive list of my favorite covers - just my very favorites.

And to totally be an asshole, I'll post a couple that aren't covers.

My very favorite covers all share one thing in common, with one exception. I love the covers considerably more than the original and of all covers of those songs, the one posted is my favorite. The exception, is Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah. This is quite possibly my favorite song ever and I am posting two versions of it, which are the very best versions. Jeff Buckley's is probably my favorite between the two, but it is only by a small margin and really only because I have a much easier time singing along with him than with KD Lang. Both are just incredible renditions and both Buckley and Lang were/are absolutely exceptional vocalists (KD Lang is totally on my top ten list of absolute best female vocalists).

But before we go to the rest of my favorite covers, here's my favorite cover from my old band Nackt, recorded roughly fourteen years ago.

Because embedded videos always fuck with the format of my blog, I am going to post them below the fold. That, and with the videos, this post takes up a lot of space...


First up, is my very first favorite cover. I have loved this song since I was about eleven and before I even knew that Sting didn't write it. I should mention now that as horrible as it might sound, I actually don't get all that excited about most of Jimmy Hendrix more popular stuff that is rife with distortion. Don't get me wrong, I still love a few of them - mainly ones that were a running theme when I was tripping or simply really stoned with dear friends, but by far I prefer his acoustic work.

I really don't care for his version of "Little Wing" though - or anyone else's. It's not that they suck or anything, it's just that every other version of this song that I hear is compared to this one and found wanting in comparison. Sting is rather remarkably arrogant - pathologically arrogant even - but there is a fucking reason...

Another horror to admit - I absolutely despise Bob Dylan the musician. I certainly have a fondness for Bob Dylan the songwriter, but his voice fucking grates my nerves and his guitar playing isn't anything to write home about either (not that he's bad, but he's certainly not good enough to make up for his abysmal singing).

OTOH, I absolutely love U2. And mid to late 80's U2 was just fucking badass. Bono was possibly the only popular musician to pick up the mantle of "the man in black" without looking like a total wannabe ripoff of the venerable Johnny Cash. And of course Cash later validated this by recording with U2 on Zooropa and covering "One."

So U2's "All Along the Watchtower" is by far the best rendering ever. Bono is every inch the badass motherfucking rock-god, bringing this song to rock-anthem greatness, with The Edge driving this song harder than ever before...

And I'll now admit to yet another sacrilege - I absolutely hate the fucking Beatles. Seriously. "Helter Skelter" is one of the few Beatles songs I like and that only because U2 covered it and covered it really fucking well...

Now there are a lot of people who would argue that the next one isn't really a cover. But while it's true that very few people have heard the original and Johnette Napolitano actually backs Andy Prieboy on the original recording of "Tomorrow Wendy," it is still a cover. And actually, the original is pretty good too, though Napolitano is a much better vocalist who graces my top ten list of favorite female vocalists.

And for good measure, here's the original...

Now we come towards the end. But before we get to the covers of Cohen songs, I would like to throw Leonard Cohen himself into the mix. The last of my favorite covers are Cohen songs and I don't think it's fair to leave him out simply because he didn't really do covers. Leonard Cohen is a songwriting giant, though he never reached the levels of fame that many who played his music ever did. He also happens to be right up at the top of my list of favorite songwriters, second only to Neil Young.

Apologies for the strange video in the background, but it was the only youtube I could find of "Chelsea Hotel #2," one of my favorites by Cohen. While there are those who would claim that it is rather unsentimental, I am certainly not one of them. I think it is first, a beautiful descriptive of the experience of those who exist in a world of fame and fortune, who find the intimacy that they can with who they can. And it is also quite obvious that his experience with Janis Joplin was a beautiful intimate moment - just because he doesn't "think of her that often" doesn't mean that when he does, it isn't important to him. People don't always think about lovers who affected them profoundly all that often.

And clenching your fist for the ones like us
who are oppressed by the figures of beauty

Nuff said...

And here's Cohen's own version of Hallelujah...

Now we'll return to Concrete Blonde. This is a fucking awesome live version of "Everybody Knows," performed acoustic - just Napolitano and Mankey.

KD Lang - I just absolutely love her voice and the obvious passion she performs with...

And then there is Jeff Buckley...A fucking remarkable musician who grew up with musicians and died way too fucking young...

Saturday, May 30, 2009

On Being "Good in Bed," or in the Kitchen, in the Woods or in the University Library

Greta Christina has a very interesting post up, discussing the phrase, "good in bed." Now as one who has been described in those terms by everyone in a position to know....Err, wait a minute - ok, yeah, so I've been described in those terms, but the mileage has varied here and there. But I think that I am pretty well qualified to discuss this topic, as there are reasons I have been, how shall we say, around the block - most of the city and quite a bit of the countryside. And no, it's not because I'm a Fabio, or because I am a Don Juan (though in some regards...). Indeed, as much as it pains me to admit, I probably don't even have the carnal skills of Ron Jeremy. We'll get to that in a minute...

Greta doesn't like the phrase "good in bed." My initial reaction to seeing the title was, neither do I... It's always rather bothered me because it ignores the importance of being, "good in the laundry room," "good in the kitchen," "good on the balcony, where the neighbors might catch us," "good on her desk at work," or "good in the university library." That has always been the problem I've had with "good in bed" and even after Greta's post it still is. If you're only "good in bed" you are missing out on some really great sex and a wonderful facet of human sexuality. This isn't to say that sex in bed isn't beautiful too, just that there is a whole world of sexuality to explore and if those explorations are limited to the bed and bedroom, most of the world of sexuality will be ignored.

Sex where you might get caught at it by others, is heady and especially exciting. It is important to take a great deal of care in choosing such a spot, because you don't want very good odds of the person catching you to be someone who should not, such as a child. But when it's done just right, it can make for absolutely incredible sex. One of my favorites when I was younger and first into wearing skirts, was to fuck out in the open, but hidden by draping skirts. On occasion I got busted - there are certain noises that are unmistakable. But I only did that sort of thing in adult only venues, usually private homes during open gatherings, hosted by people I knew wouldn't mind. Indeed, this occasionally led to rather bland parties, turning into quite memorable ones...Though it could also end up kind of awkward - but that is part of the excitement of public sex - trying to avoid the awkward and definitely trying to avoid arrest.

Sex in a natural setting can also be very exciting, even when there's little to no risk of getting caught - or if getting caught wouldn't be the least problematic or awkward. My favorite is hot, passionate sex near flowing water and flowering honeysuckle, lilac and/or lavender - the scents, the water and an aroused, sweaty body against mine - hell fucking yes!!! (I cannot stress enough, the importance of identifying and avoiding poison ivy and poison oak - and making sure that there isn't any anywhere even close to where you are playing - even if you usually aren't all that "athletic" with your lovemaking. Trust me, there are places you really don't want to end up with that problem and it seems like certain bodily fluids act as a magnet.) But that warning aside, sex in nature is awesome big fun. Plenty of room to move and lots of objects that can become tools or furniture to enhance the experience - finding the right spot can make for hours upon hours of excellent lovemaking - but be sure to bring plenty of clear fluids to drink, food to eat and comfortable blankets and possibly cushions. If you are going to be out there for large chunks of a day, you are going to want all of those things.

The next one is fairly specific to bibliophiles such as myself. I have to admit that I have something of a fetish for libraries and one time a used book store. Especially that used book store...I love sex around books - lots of books. Like the honeysuckle, lilac and lavender, the smell of books is a huge turn on for me. Little says fantastic sex like the rare books room, or a used book store after hours. Unless of course you somehow managed to hook up with a non-bibliophile, or worse, aren't a bibliophile yourself. I know such people exist in theory, but...Ok, now that I've gone all clammy...lets just assume that we're all bibliophiles and leave it at that...

And of course, there is sex all over the damned house or apartment (apartment common laundry spaces combine several aspects of kinky fun). If you don't at least venture out of the bedroom, you are needlessly missing out. You just need to be aware of a few things. Refrigerators do occasionally fall down. Dryers may move when running when you are fucking on them. End tables and coffee tables are not usually built nearly well enough - nuff said. Bending over the arm of the couch puts her (or his) pertinent bits in the perfect position. A good swing is easy to construct - just be very careful where and how it's mounted - unless you are experienced, do not attempt to mount one in a frame.

Sex around your living space is important. It is a very safe way to really explore you and your partner's sexuality and bodies. It affords opportunities to try many positions, use many objects and see your body and more importantly, your partner's body in a variety of lights, settings and interesting positions. Exploring one anther's bodies and your own is so very important to having an exciting, healthy sex life. Too many of us have some latent shame, hammered into us by a repressive society. Trust me, you have nothing to be ashamed of. We all have these bits that can be so many things and feel so many things. Celebrate who and what you are, in all your glory and celebrate your partner as well. Like me, I have a penis that is really small when it's flaccid. It gets to be fairly average in size when I'm hard, but it's a wee thing when I'm not - though I have pretty big, funny looking balls. I also have a few rather peculiar scars, including an interesting one on my left ass cheek that is it's own erogenous zone. I also have rather funny looking knees, the right more so, due to a scar. These aren't flaws though - to the contrary, these things are what make exploring your partner's body so much fun. Discovering the areas that turn them on - especially the areas they didn't even know turned them on. Finding fun little surprises - like funny shaped scars and the sometimes funny stories behind them.

But none of this has a damned thing to do with Greta's post. Her objection to "good in bed" isn't the same as my own, she's using the context of "good in bed" as it implies "a good sex partner." And hers is rather important too, though I question it to a degree - not the fundamental premise, but something more fundamental. To whit:

In my experience, once you have these basics, good sex isn't about learning a lot of fancy tricks or positions. It's about communicating: being able to say what you want without pessimism or fear; being able
to listen to what your partner wants without getting threatened or hurt. It's about being familiar with your own body and your own desires and responses, so you can communicate them in the first place. It's about being perceptive: paying attention to non-verbal signals as well as verbal ones. It's about giving a shit about your partner's pleasure in the first place, and being able to get aroused by their excitement as well as your own.

She ultimately concludes that good in bed should really be, good with your partner - or partners, because she, like myself isn't particular or judgmental.

The problem I have with this, is that being a good lover means that you are all the things described above or open to being those things - because not everyone has much or any experience as a lover. Personally, I would much rather fuck my hands, than go through the trouble of having sex with someone who isn't enthusiastic or who freaks out if you suggest they try this or that - or who won't tell you they don't like something you're doing or like something you're not doing. Less messy the hands and a lot less hassle, if all that one is getting out of sex is a fucking orgasm. Honestly, as far as orgasms alone are concerned, I rather prefer the orgasms produced by my hands and/or a toy or two. Sex is exciting because of the interactive qualities, because you are doing everything possible to make your partner explode in intense pleasure and they are doing the same to you. Sex is exciting when you are doing everything you can to make this sex the very best sex your partner has ever had and they are doing the same for you. Being a great lover is being the person who wants to provide that kind of experience for your partner - nothing more, nothing less. And while you may not always have the great sex, because you may not always be with a partner who wants to provide all that in return - because you may not always be with a partner who is also a good lover - if you are that kind of lover, you will always be "good in bed."

Friday, May 29, 2009

I have been so remiss...

I am really depressed at the moment, but I'm working on a post - a post about sex even. Because Sci didn't write about Teh Sex today, I feel compelled...Ok, it actually has nothing to do with Sci not giving us more weird science that involves Teh Sex and everything to do with something written by possibly the very best skeptic blogger ever and the inspiration for this post...

I am such a bad, bad blogger. I realized as I was compiling the list of extra fun Godwins, that I never linked Greta Christina in my sidebar. I don't often wander over, because I am super sporadic about my blog reading - so many great blogs, so little time. But Greta fucking rocks - hardcore. She's fucking brilliant, eloquent and she has absolutely no problem writing about anydamnedthing she wants. She is absolutely unrelenting in her hammering of irrational nonsense, yet she does so with obvious compassion and empathy for the society around her.

It's that last bit that really makes her one of my very favorite bloggers. That, and she writes about sex with - well, obvious compassion and empathy for the society around her. She even edited a book that I am really looking forward to checking out, when I can actually afford to buy books for pleasure reading and can afford the time for pleasure reading. I am not so much interested in reading it because I pay for sex, but because I am a very strong advocate for sex workers rights (which reminds me that I have some serious maintenance to deal with around here).

The post I am working on, which I will get up tomorrow, was inspired by this rather interesting discussion...

And since I'm writing about other bloggers, I should like to note that DanJ, who comments here and there and a few other places, has a shiny new blog of his own. So shiny and new, it doesn't even have a fucking theme yet - so when you check him out, mock him for not having a theme. Also note, that he has a giant fucking spider, pictured up top (at the time of this posting). Don't be alarmed and don't feel compelled to run to the gun vault - it's only a picture. A picture of a Huge Fucking Spider That Needs Shooting!!!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Anti-Christ Exposed!!1!!!11!

I have to finish preparing to take my first psych quiz, which I suspect that I am actually already a bit over-prepared for. But said quiz is to be followed by a test tomorrow or Saturday - which again, I am certain to be over-prepared for. The thing is, after two more units which will also follow this pattern - I will have a proctored exam (I like the word Proctored) - which I will certainly be over-prepared for - this whole cycle will run three times over the next eleven weeks...But I want to 4. this class - 4. it as an honors class. I fudged something in my first semester that prevented an overall 4. and I want to make up for it - quickly.

So I will probably not be adding any more suggestions for the last post until tomorrow. But while you wait...

DrugCaligula has created discovered the anti-christ!!! Even worse, CathVWXYNot? has entered into some twisted, nefarious agreement with the hell-spawn and it's demonoid minion DrugCaligula - there are evile MouseMan slaves!!!

Behold our new hellish over lord in all it's....


Cute, cuddly fuzziness!!!




source original source

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

If you gotta Godwin: A rule for Anti-vax loons and other Denialists

Orac is getting rather bored with the damned Hitler references already. Now I can't say that my new rule - more a suggestion really, will get you much further than calling anyone Hitler will. But lets try to get creative about it, 'k? In the spirit of turning over new leaves, of entering exciting new realms of hyperbole, I thought I would help you folks out. Lets stop being so generic. Hitler is so very early millennium - socialism is the new fascism.

Keep in mind though, many of these will easily apply to those of us loons who are rather more keen on evidence than hysteria. And they needn't be restricted to vaccine denialists either. These work just as well for cancer denialists, HIV/AIDS denialists, even psychiatry denialists. I am pretty sure the more creative among you - and there is a lot of creativity amongst the denialists - can even work it for 9/11 denialism and other non-medical woo.

1) Chairman Orac and his merry band of Maoist poison peddlers!!1!11!! (or Chairman Tara and her...)

2) Pal Pot, the anti-smoking mass murderer and pharma shill!!!11! (sorry, but I don't think that one really works for anyone else)

3) McCarthy Hoofnagle thought crime investigator!!!11!!

4) Mike the murdering Bolshevic!!1!11!!!

5) PZ Stalin - Christian baby eating Cthulu worshiper!!1!!!1!

6) Ed Satan and his dispatches from hell!!1!11!!

7) Osama Greg Laden - Islamosocialist terrorist!!1!!111

8) DrugCaligula evile cloner of human/lab animal hybrids!!1!!11!!

9) Bad Ass Cylon destroying the human race!!!1!!1!11!! (stolen from the Science Pundit)

10) Jason Chavez, totalitarian commie gun thief!!!11!!1!!!

11) Imelda Podblack, laughing in her million dollar wardrobe, while poor babies are injected with toxic sludge!!!11!!!!1! (Mike Haubrich, FCD)

12) Dave and Greta Mussolini, with their propaganda rag, the Communist Daily!!1!!11!!! (Lousy Damned Canuck)

13) Jamestiltskin on his Island of the Damned, dragging down teh human race one royal firstborn at a time!!1!11!!!1 (Stolen from that Damned Canuck)

14) Stephanie Genghis Zkhan, barbarian warlord, murderer of peasants and pusher of wordiness!!1!!!!1!! (Osama)

15) Mike Jong-Il, repressive socialist sociopath, who probably hangs people who aren't "rational"!!!11!1!!!!!

16) Greta M Hari, flaunting evidence, sexuality and erototoxins - she's into that toxic sludge marinading too!!!1!!111!!!

17) Lucretia Sci Borgia, the treacherous temptress of science, injecting the poison directly into your BRAIN!!!11!1!!

18) Ben Goldtorquemada, turning the tables on the inquisition!!!11!111!! (David D.G.)

Come on, lets make this list longer, so we can provide an exhaustive reference for those times when irrational arguments are wearing thin and only a Godwin will do!!! Help a loon out - or if you are a loon - get creative!!!

And if someone calls you Hitler, you can send them this way!!!11!!!1!!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

DuWayne's New Addiction

A friend has loaned me most of the "new" Battlestar Galactica with the rest to be loaned as I finish the first seasons. I may be in trouble now - blogging could suffer (because school can't) as might my socialization. The sure sign of an addict - when they spend time alone with their addiction, instead of with friends and loved ones.

So if you'll excuse me, I need to be alone with my new crack...At least until the most wonderful women to ever grace my life calls.

Pseudoblogging versus Open Blogging

The title is not meant to imply that pseudonymous blogging is a bad thing - I just really liked saying pseudoblogging - say it, it's fun!!!

Pseudonymous blogging has certain advantages, as well as a few disadvantages - or at least perceived disadvantages. Zuska poses an interesting question:

To re-enter the workforce, I'll be a position of supplication, and any
potential employer can Google my name and see what I've been up to.
Will I then be sorry about being so outspoken?

When I first started meandering through the blogosphere, I commented and eventually began my own blog using a pseudonym. I felt that I really needed to ensure that what I wrote about online, would not cause me problems professionally. But I was working in home repair, remodeling and some new construction. Even though I was going into business for myself, I was getting set to move to Portland and really wasn't terribly concerned about the impact it might have on potential clients who google me. I started blogging in my own name and found that any impact it might have on my ability to get work was virtually non-existant. I had a few potential clients who disagreed with me, but to whom I came highly recommended - certainly not enough of a problem to decide not to hire me. One potential client chose not to use me because of my views - something I learned from the friend who had recommended me. And there were several of my clients who actually felt better about hiring me after reading some of the things I wrote - it is Portland, OR after all.

Then things went badly and I ended up where I am now - moving in a very different direction and being a little more concerned about the things I say. I can't depend on existing with people who appreciate who and what I am. I am a student who will be trying to enter a highly competitive grad and postgrad environment. I have some good ideas and a decent mind, but so do a lot of folks - I imagine that many of them either haven't led the sort of life I have, or at the least don't write about it publicly. I imagine that many of them have also managed to avoid writing about their views on controversial issues. I am not ashamed of who I am or what I believe, nor do I regret writing as freely as I have - indeed I would prefer to be free to write about issues I have avoided. But I am increasingly aware that I will be competing with people who have not been so open about themselves.

But what about the flipside of blogging openly? There are certainly problems with blogging anonymously - or at least there would seem to be. The most obvious problem being the issue of speaking authoritatively about topics from which the pseudonymous blogger has the background to do so. How can others trust that the pseudonymous blogger is actually an authority on a particular topic? Oh wait, they can. And the way they can is actually rather superior to showing their actual name with a bunch of fancy letters after - all they have to do is show it in the content of their writing. Beats the hell out of their real name with letters on, because rather than being judged by what they have done, they are judged by what they say. Another problem is rather insidious. Most people who blog under a pseudonym do so for reasons that are rather important to them - quite often for professional reasons. The problem is that the anonymity that they crave, for whatever reason, isn't perfect. People can and sometimes do, find out the actual identities of bloggers who are trying to remain anonymous. Sometimes they are outed with rather dire consequences.

But there is also an advantage to blogging openly, in the rather open fashion I engage in. I am not going to be held hostage to my past - no one can use it against me, gossip about me and distort who I am. It's pretty much all out there and I will never have to worry about someone digging up dirt about me. Nor do I have to worry much about working for or with people who would have a problem with who and what I am. There is no reason they can't find out what they need to know before an awkward situation arises. And that is a comfort to someone like me, moving towards a highly competitive educational paradigm - while being rather less than competitive by nature. As concerned as I occasionally get about having thrown out so much about me, that concern is tempered by the advantage of that potential disadvantage.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Making Music in Lansing

I am in Lansing for the weekend, visiting with old friends and making new music. It was a rather last minute decision and I am really glad that I did - my old songwriting partner and I are getting set to create a fair bit of new music together, for the first time in nearly a decade.

It's really great to reconnect musically - both of us have grown quite a bit musically. At the same time, what we have fooled around with is very recognizably us - just us a little more grown up. We have little idea what we'll do with it, but I'm really excited to be making music with Larry again...

But tonight will be the D&D game, set in a world of Larry's own creation. I an not generally a huge fan of role playing games. Not that I'm not enough of a geek, I just generally don't like the rules and the way most people play. But Larry's game is a great deal of fun. And while there are certainly rules - strict rules even, it's his game, set in his world and if there is a compelling enough reason for changing a rule or making an exception - he does it. All that, and his theatrics make it rather more fun than games I have played with anyone else...

Not sure when I am heading back home, excepting that I need to head that way by tomorrow evening. My schedule is pretty open, which has worked out well. I just spent the last couple hours chatting with my very dear old friend Merril, who I was, back when I was using a lot of hallucinogens, convinced was god. He was rather frustrated by the fact that I would mention this to whomever I was with, whenever I saw him.

All in all, this has been a very enjoyable weekend.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Who Are You? I'm _____ and _____'s papa.

I have a facebook profile, like many people do. And like many other people (I imagine) I use it very sporadically. I don't like to really use it for much more than reconnecting with people I spent several years with, ambling from classroom to classroom. I like to occasionally post something there that identifies the adult me, but for the most part my profile just gets neglected.

I also do something I've noticed a lot of the people I spent those many formative years do. I don't have a profile picture that readily identifies what I look like today. Not because I'm particularly unattractive (though I am definitely not the pretty boy I was in school), but because there are two aspects of my adult identity that are not only much cuter than I, they are also far more important to me, than showing off my own mug.

I really love it when my old comrades in education tell me how damned cute my boys are and how amazed they are that I actually reproduced. Or at least that I reproduced outside the context of a broken condom type accident. Some would be blown away that I managed monogamy - not for months, but for years. I really love the fact that there are several others who ambled those halls with me, who were given similar probabilities for reproducing, who also proudly feature their children in their profile picture.

While my children haven't subsumed my entire identity, they have certainly added to it. And what they have added to who I am, is the most important part of who adult DuWayne is. And should my boys make the choices that lead that way, someday I expect that the addition of grandpapa will share a similarly important addition to the identity of DuWayne.

It's not infrequent, that I am identified as "Eldest's papa." Much rarer, because he's still very small, I am also identified as "Youngest's papa." And you know something? I am no less DuWayne for being identified otherwise. In fact, I would go as far as saying that I'm much more DuWayne for being identified as my children's papa. I am proud to wear the mantle of papa, proud to be my children's dad.

I am proud to have my children prominently featured in my facebook profile picture. Sure I'm there - those of my readers who have become my facebook friend can attest. But they can also attest that you can't really see my face, because I'm crawling after youngest, while eldest is riding on my back.

Yesterday I was directed by Drugmonkey, to a post on this topic, written by Sheril Kershenbaum. A certain Katie Roiphe (I am not linking to her article, because I suspect that CPP's comment is dead on) seems to think that posting pictures of one's children as one's profile picture is horribly antithetical to feminism. At least it is if you happen to have carried said child inside your uterus for nine months - she really doesn't mention us papas and dads who do the same thing. Presumably if we do it, it really doesn't hurt feminism. Katie seems to think that women posting pictures of their kids instead of themselves, implies that their identity is thus subsumed by archetypal female social gender constructs. She doesn't actually use those terms, but that is certainly the implication.

Drugmonkey maintains that more men should do this, to normalize this kind of behavior and make it more reasonable for everyone to do it without gender bias entering the equation. The concern he raises about this approach is valid - i.e. that it will just be a way for us men types to look more progressive, but I think it falls short of the depth of the problem...

While I am the last person to say that men shouldn't be a strong part of tearing down gender disparity, I believe that the approach described by DM is problematic, because it presupposes that only if more men do this, is it going to be reasonable for women to do it as well. The implication is rather antithetical to feminism.

There should be absolutely nothing wrong with us men types saying loud and clear - with our actions and if asked about it, with our words; it's ok for men to do things that fall under the purview of traditional femininity. Women shouldn't stop doing things that would seemingly promote gender bias - choosing not to do something because one is afraid of looking too feminine, is far more antithetical to feminism, than making the choices you make because you want to. Rather, men should take action and do things that we want to do - even if they're "feminine" things to do.

Deconstructing gender means not making choices based on gender. This is just as true when it means women focusing on careers, men staying home with the kids, as it is when it means women wearing make-up and men going hunting. Deciding not to do something because it would seemingly reinforce archetypal gender constructs, is no different than choosing to do something you would rather not do, simply to maintain archetypal gender constructs.

Basing any decision on gender constructs, is absolutely antithetical to deconstructing gender and ending gender disparity.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Numb3rs, The Princess Bride and Fairy Tale Endings

When I was a kid, one of my very favorite movies was The Princess Bride. I must have watched that movie fifty times, if I watched it once. The sword fights, the witty repartee, the sheer cheese - it was possibly the very best movie ever. But there's something I never admitted to my friends at the time - not even my friends who were girls. Don't tell anyone, but I rather appreciated the whole fairy-tale, once in a century "true love" of Wesley and Buttercup. It settled rather well with my general sense of justice, that this very special love would be bestowed upon commoners - and I was always something of a romantic. The latter being something that even my friends of the female persuasion would have gagged at, because while I broke the general convention that girls are icky and had a few close friends who were girls, they were not so much the pretty pink princess types. One of them had a habit of beating up boys who dared infer that she was anything less than capable at boy type games...

Just last night, I was watching the season finale of Numb3rs, which is my absolute favorite show currently on the tee vee (though I don't actually watch the tee vee and have no idea what else is on for the most part - I watch stuff online, mostly CBS). There are a myriad reasons I love it, not the least being the fact that several main characters are math and science profs who are portrayed as real human beings. But my very favorite aspect of Numb3rs is the dynamics of the interpersonal relationships. Across the board they are realistic and compelling - it's rather hard not to really care about them.

My very favorite relational dynamics is that of Charlie, Don and their father. But that one aside, I am also fond of the relationship between Charlies and Amita. It has been rather exciting watching their relationship evolve into something truly remarkable. And the season five finale was the culmination of that, with Charlie proposing to Amita at the end. It wasn't that proposal that got me though. It was in the previous episode when Amita was apologizing for not answering Charlie's earlier "would you love me if" question. It was really a small thing when it had come up and there was a larger discussion going on, but when Amita went to apologize, she had tears in her eyes, because she realized that in ignoring that question, she had implied that her love was somehow conditional. Of course plot rules and their "moment" was disrupted by Amita getting kidnapped, so that the resolution came at the end of the following episode. But that whole scenario, minus the intervening kidnapping and rescue, was one of the most romantic moments I have ever seen on the screen - as much due to the buildup that began in the first episode of the series, as was due to the phenomenal acting.

For years now, I have appreciated that people fall in love like Charlie and Amita. I have also appreciated that the standard many would hope for is more like Wesley and Buttercup's, "once in a century" sort of love. But I also appreciated that that depth of feeling is something that other people, people who aren't me achieve. I understood that my capacity for romantic love was far short of that mark and always would be. While my love for my boys scales far beyond what I ever thought I could possibly feel for a women, they are my children and I figured that made for a rather special case. I resigned myself years ago, to loving a partner on a very different level. Had you asked a few months ago (and my therapist did), I would have still told you that I had reached my capacity for feeling with the mother of my children.

And then Juniper happened to me. While ours is far from a fairy-tale ending - or more accurately, a beginning, I now know that I am capable of a depth of feeling that I knew I would never come close to. I love her with a passion that occasionally manifests as actual physical pain. I am not alone and don't feel alone. I have a lover who shares everything with me, my pain, my mistakes, my dismay, my joys, my beauty and I share hers. A million miles away, yet right here with me, loving me and sharing my life. And I'm with her, loving her and sharing her life. Neither of our lives are all that perfect right now. Indeed both of us have a lot of unpleasantness to deal with at moment. But having each other makes it tolerable.

It's not fairy-tale love, but I suspect that it's as close as real life can get...

For the Record...

...I only apologize when I think I'm wrong.

Though I'm not happy about a couple of people who don't like me anymore and won't read my blog unless I apologize, I am not writing to make or keep friends/readers. I am not keen on losing friends or readers, but I am going to remain true to myself and what I believe. I am going to write what I believe I need to write and what I believe is true.

I am all about apologizing when I'm wrong. I am also all about acknowledging when someone manages to change my opinion on something and how they did it. But it is not easy to change my opinion and telling me you don't like me anymore is simply not going to cut it. About the best anyone gets out of me when I don't think I'm wrong, is what happens in meat world, for example when someone walks into me. Then I go all Canadian and will usually apologize - though why I would apologize for occupying the space that someone else was walking through, instead of around is beyond me. I don't think I actually have any Canadian blood, so I'm not sure what the problem is - but I digress...

I blog about what I want to blog about and I state my sincerely held opinions. If you were to peruse through the archives of my various blogs, you would note that I have changed some of my sincerely held beliefs over the few years I've been in the blogosphere. If you were to actually see the various threads in which my opinions have been changed, you would notice that I tend to push back really hard when someone is on the verge of convincing me I was wrong. This is not because I am afraid to change, it is because I want to make sure I am wrong in the first place and the best way to do that is to challenge the new paradigm. If you think I am wrong, then damned well convince me - give me a substantive argument. I am even willing to take them in email, if you are afraid to drop them in comments - though I much prefer that they go into comments, even if you post them anon (with some sort of identifier).

Initially I was rather pissed and was considering posting the emails that inspired this post, but I ultimately respect the people who sent them and hope that they will reconsider their position. There is nothing wrong with being friends with people you have even fundamental disagreements with.

But please, don't insult my intelligence or your own by expecting me to change my opinion or apologize for it, simply because if I don't you won't play with me anymore. And don't insult me by expecting that the same threat will convince me to stop blogging about certain topics...I post what I want to post - period. I'll post about gender issues, I'll post about my neurological issues - I'll even post about how very much in love I am (indeed another of the latter is coming today). There is no reason to read every post - I don't really expect people to. I sure as hell won't stop writing about this or that, because someone doesn't like it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Women, Men and Gender (updated)

I am actually working on a much longer post about gender disparity, gender constructs and modern feminism, but that post is shaping up to be something akin to a research paper and will take a while. In the mean time there have been some interesting discussions going on besides the one in which I was recently engaged (as well as some discussion right here ). If you want to wander even further back, you can follow the links that I didn't - I wandered into the discussion over at Zuska's blog - the one about reading materials for proto-feminist men. This post in turn, linked to CPP's guest post at Dr. Isis' blog - the one that is a handy dandy guide for men commenting on feminist blogs.

To ensure clarity, I really like CPP . Through our interactions on the intertubes, I have come to consider him a friend and occasionally dispenser of good advice. I don't always agree with him, but we definitely share some pretty fundamental attitudes/personality traits. I have an immense respect for him, because not only does he write a great deal about things that are very relevant to the decisions I am making about the path my education and ultimately my career will take, he also goes off on excellent rants complete with expletives.

I make this clarification because as much as I adore CPP, this guide he wrote made me vomit in my mouth a little, a couple of times. This is not to say that everything in his guide is wrong - most of his points are quite reasonable. Ultimately, it's not so much that the one's that I found so distasteful are wrong that bothers me - it's actually the fact that his guide is pretty accurate when it comes to discussing gender issues on many forums that makes me queasy. It is also why I don't get involved in a lot of discussions on feminist forums.

And just to be absolutely clear, there are many discussions where it is absolutely inappropriate to go and push the ideas I am going to discuss here. For example, the Letters to our Daughters project is all about the women. The context is important, when it comes to discussing gender disparity...

(2) If you are using the words "men", "boys", "fathers", or "sons", you are almost certainly fucking up.

(3) If you are using the words "should" or "useful", you are almost certainly fucking up.

(15) Women will get along just fine without your input. If you are entertaining and funny, they might tolerate your presence.

The problem with this, is that gender disparity isn't just about the women. First and most critically, gender disparity is an issue that involves women and men. Men are part of the problem and by necessity, men are also an important part of the solution. And ignoring the negative impacts of gender disparity on men, ignores a significant part of the gender disparity puzzle. Both sexes fall victim to gender disparity - recognizing this doesn't mean that we ignore the impact of gender disparity on women - it doesn't signal yet another exertion of male privilege. What it does is foster the understanding that men have a personal stake in fighting gender disparity.

Men, boys, fathers and sons are part of the gender disparity problem. We are dealing with social gender constructs that have millenia of momentum driving them into the twenty-first century. Awareness of a huge part of the problem does not, unfortunately, lend itself to resolution. It is no simple task to wind your way through the manifestations of gender constructs that are inherently abusive, while maintaining a sense of gender identity - changing behaviors that have been reinforced since we were first capable of discerning rudimentary language.

Many feminists (though certainly not all) seem to feel that the only place for men in the discussion of gender disparity is as an active listener who will go forth and do what he's told, spreading the gender dogma that said feminist happens to be disseminating. We are just supposed to behave a certain way and pressure other men to behave that way as well. This works well enough when we're talking about men who actually care to listen - some of us even change our behavior, in an attempt to avoid perpetuating gender disparity. But we are a finite group of men (and women for that matter) and this is not a solution that lends itself to changing the society in which we live. To functionally change our society, we need to go much deeper. The heart of the problem is our social gender constructs and they aren't just going to go away because a few of us change superficial behaviors. We should, or more to the point, must root into the heart of archetypal social male gender constructs and work on changing the fundamentals, instead of focusing on the superficial.

When it comes to deconstructing male gender constructs, men are a critical part of the equation. There is only so much that women can contribute to fundamental changes in what it means to be a man and fostering that change across the strata of our society. That is not to say they have nothing to contribute - they do and should make those contributions. But changing the masculine is going to be largely the purview of men. Likewise, men also have something to contribute to the same discussion on the feminine side of the equation. What women do, who they are affect men, just as what men are and what they do affect women.

To be totally clear, I am not suggesting that feminist blogs should all be or always be open forums for discussing solutions to gender disparity. I recognize that they are also often safe places for women to unload. Believe me, I recognize the importance of safe spaces and have absolutely no desire to see them over-run by assholes or derailed into something different...

We are all harmed by and responsible for perpetuating gender disparity. It's time to stop pretending that gender disparity is a women's issue that only women can stop. We are all, every single damned one of us, an inherent part of the solution...

Summer Semester Has Begun...

...Albeit rather slowly. Two of my classes don't start until June 15th. I have begun my intro psych class and my health and fitness classes already, the latter ending in early July. Cultural anthropology and physical geography are the two that start in June. Having perused the books for the three less than stupid classes, I am looking forward to an interesting semester - if also a rather rapidly paced one.

I am looking to have one hella busy summer.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Don't Ask, Don't Tell versus Honor and Integrity

Ed posted the open letter that West Point grad, Daniel Choi wrote to Obama and congress. This isn't the first time I have read statements by those in the military who feel that DODT is antithetical to the environment of honor and integrity that is, or should be the foundation of every person who serves in the U.S. armed forces. But Daniel's letter is possibly the most eloquent and poignant statement of that position I have ever seen or heard. Bereft of anger or vitriol, Choi's letter is all the more powerful a damnation of an inherently dishonorable and unethical law.

We live in a society that accepts and occasionally even perceives a certain nobility in dishonesty. We don't like to call it that, because the implication sounds so negative - we find euphemisms that pretty it up, such as "bending the truth" or "obfuscating," - unless of course it's coming from people we disagree with, in which case it's bullshit and horribly wrong. In our modern society, honor is not only too often considered anachronistic, it is often disparaged as representative of regressive patriarchal feudalism. This is not to say that modern society is entirely bereft of ethics, just that ethics and honor are not nearly as important in the mainstream, as they have been in the past. There are many factors that influence this phenom, but that is a discussion for another time...

One place that honor is still very much alive, is in the U.S. armed forces. Military academies in particular, place a profound emphasis on honesty and integrity - on the honorable conduct of it's students and alumni. Half truths are disparaged as a fallback of the weak, lies are the realm of petty crooks and criminals. Yet we expect members of our armed forces to accept and promote dishonesty and half truths as a matter of course. We expect some members to pretend to be something they're not and others to be complicit in this pretense. The personal damage this can cause aside, this denigrates and undermines the foundations of discipline in our service men and women.

Don't ask, don't tell is wrong on many levels. But I believe that issue that Choi so eloquently raises is possibly the most critical. I actually heard that same argument years ago, when DADT was first put on the table - then from a couple of vets. I have heard it a few times since then. But Daniel Choi presents it with remarkable clarity and obvious passion. And his passion raises another important factor in this discussion...

Repealing DADT isn't about gay rights, in the same way that marriage equality is about gay rights. The repeal of DADT is about men and women who have a passionate drive to serve their country with honor - no matter their sexual preference or gender identity.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Criminal Stupidity

I really despise incompetent morons who decide to charge people money to fuck up their homes. Every time I turn around and look at the shit the criminally, pathologically stupid son of a bitch who worked on my parent's home did, I get more and more angry.

But the stupidity on their roof really takes the trophy for ridiculously fucking stupid. What he did around their chimney is so egregiously incompetent, that I doubt anyone reading this blog would think that it would actually shed water. I am quite confident that any one of you would have managed a far better job of it - I don't care if you're blind and missing one arm - you simply could not screw it up as bad as this idiot did.

This is a level of stupid that should land people in jail.

Friday, May 15, 2009

My Rational Belief in Juniper's Love For Me (or why I love her more than my beloved SciFi)

In comments on the previous post, Abby Normal used my mentioning Juniper's love for me as an example to describe a question about irrational and rational. Abby had mentioned it in the context of non-rational thinking and I responded by explaining that in reality, my belief that Juniper loves me was actually based in evidence. But I didn't explain what that evidence was - largely because I thought it would make a good post - in turn because I love Juniper and enjoy writing about her. While the evidence I discuss will be limited due to the very personal nature of some of it, I really have been looking for an excuse to explain what a wonderful women she is...

It all started several months ago, when she wrote about her desire to prance about in an Edwardian tea dress. It may well have been the first post of hers I read. All I know is that I thought what a wonderfully fun person she must be. Smart, beautiful and quite charming - I had a crush. Like most crushes, I figured that was that - except it wasn't. We emailed regularly and quickly became friends. Only as our friendship developed, I was increasingly uncomfortable because I was feeling things that I thought were rather inappropriate, untenable and very likely offensive. I continued to write, but increasingly writing her felt very dangerous - but given the value we both placed on our friendship, I couldn't stop.

I felt a lot of contradictory feelings. I was confused. I was also afraid that I was just allowing my crush to run wild, because I was recently come out of a long term, very toxic relationship that ended in a brutally fucked up manner. I was, to put it mildly, a bit panicked. It was noticeable too - she asked me about it, concerned about our burgeoning friendship - so I sucked it up and told her what was happening and managed to rather piss her off with my presumption that my feelings might freak her out. She had after all, mentioned that she was rather attracted to me - by explaining that she was keeping a tally of my negative attributes to keep herself in check.

I was mostly concerned that she would think I was insane for even contemplating the possibility of a relationship with someone who lives a million miles away and who is far more stylish and elegant than my rather rough and, err, less than elegant, stylish self. The jury's still out on the insanity of it, but it is an insanity that we share.

Did I mention Juniper's real name is so very lovely? Almost as lovely as she is...

I definitely had feelings for her, but what? I truly believed that I had reached the pinnacle of my depth of feeling with the mother of my children. That is not to say that it was a heart-stopping excitement - it assuredly was not. I loved her, and I still do in a way - even after the hell she's put me through. But it never even approached what I feel for Juniper, not even what I was feeling then. I truly believed that what I had felt in the past was the sum of my capacity for romantic love. I could not begin to understand what the fuck was happening - it was - and is, completely foreign to me. Terra incognito.

I was also rather panicked because I had resigned myself to being alone. Not completely alone - I have kids and love them, they love me - and I expect to have them a lot of the time. I refuse to parade women through their lives and really don't see myself wanting to waste the time that I do have to myself, on pursuing even Teh Sex. I figured on being alone for a rather long time and was actually resigned to it - looking forward to it really. And then Juniper happened and happened big. I felt what I feel now (though the depth continues to grow) a while ago - but I wasn't sure what it was or if it was even healthy - she lives a million miles away after all. Then something happened that forced me to accept what I felt and to tell her. It was at once both very simple, a small gesture and absolutely, stupendously exciting.

It was when I was last in TN to see the boys. We had started talking on the phone quite a bit and that had been very exciting. But on my last morning there she really blew me away, smiting me with a small gesture. That morning I was going to meet with Eldest's therapist, his teacher and check out his therapeutic day school. I was frazzled - moreso because our wakeup call didn't reach us. When I got up and was checking the time on my phone, I noticed I had a text message - considering that the only texts I got were spam, I almost didn't open it. When I did, I knew beyond any doubt that I was in love with Juniper.

She had sent me a text to let me know she was thinking of me and hoping that my visit with the school went ok. Like I said, a very simple gesture. Probably not even a big deal to most people. But it was to me. I almost started crying - did a bit when I got done at the school and got back to the hotel to finish packing my van. I was in love with her and this was evidence that at the least, she cared a great deal for me. I emailed her, letting her know that I love her. And was later gratified to find that she hadn't been online all day, so I was able to tell her on phone, when I called to let her know I made it home safely.

She loved me too.

There is more evidence than her now regular texts, when she knows I have something stressful to deal with. But those data points are rather more personal than I am willing to go into. Suffice to say that I have a great deal of evidence as to the veracity of Juniper's love for me.

I also love my SciFi. SciFi and Fantasy has been my boon companion since I was a child - more than any other genre. Exploring strange and exciting new worlds, being regaled by stories of lands that exist with different laws governing time, space and matter have provided the very best escape from the worse my mind has to hammer me with, for as long as I can remember. When I was the most upset, the most alone - there were my friends, Daneel, the Magician and his wives (the gorgon was my favorite), the Pevinses and Prince Caspian, the Space Tyrant, Brother Paul of Tarot, Maudib - the list of my dearest friends is endless and I loved my visits with them - still do.

I am quite serious when I say that were it not for them, there is a good chance I wouldn't be alive today. I am not talking about some passing fancy, or minor infatuation.

Forced to choose, there would be no question or competition.

I choose Juniper......

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Happy Stephanie Z Day!!! (or Why Creationism and Faith are often Arational)

Greg has declared yesterday Stephanie Zyvan day and since I don't have something of hers to repost (Lucky Greg), I will have to write a smart blogpost. I haven't been terribly motivated lately, choosing instead to get some posts I am going to write outlined, while also trying to frantically get some paying jobs done before classes start Monday.

Actually, that for some reason reminded me of something Scicurious (it was also Sciday!!!) inspired me to mention...Not that I'm trying to hint or anything, but man do I love getting books in the mail. I mean I really love getting books - and if they happen to come from the author of the book - maybe with the authors signature, why I would have to write up the book and tell everyone how much it rocks...

And apparently today is Jason Thibeault day...I think that that calls for some cake - some inappropriate, even naughty cakes...(as in, don't click that link at work, or in front of your grandma (unless you have a really cool grandma))

And because I can, I love her and she did actually contribute to this post, by discussing the topic with me for quite a while, I will declare this Juniper month. She really deserves more than a day. I mean hell, she puts up with me, loves me and as an atheist, I can't put her up for sainthood.

So onward to the heart of it...

John Wilkins is possibly the very smartest ape the world has ever seen. Either that, or he's just better at expressing himself than most members of his species. In any case, he recently had a very interesting paper published about creationism and rationality. I think that it is quite reasonable to extend the logic of his position to Faith in general, rather than limiting it to a single facet of that faith.

But for my purposes, creationism is actually a very good example, because arational creationism has a counterpart amongst those who accept evolution...Yes, yes it does and I am actually going to start with that counterpart...

There are a lot of people who have very interesting ideas about evolution and they're not all creationists. There are, for example, a lot of folks who pretty much assume that On the Origin of the Species is basically the best explanation of how evolution occurs. Survival of the fittest is basically how many, if not most people would characterize the theory of evolution. While we can give such people kudos for not buying into the idea that some god zapped everything into being, they are in fact wrong and difference in their ignorance of origins is only a matter of degrees of difference from the ignorance of creationists.

Does this ignorance make such people irrational? I would argue that it does not, it merely makes them ignorant. And I would also argue that the same is true of many creationists. The fact is that most people really don't spend much, if any time thinking about human origins or science in general. I would daresay that more people think about politics than science and in the U.S. at least, most people don't seem to think much about politics either. Most people struggle to focus enough on work and their interpersonal relationships - politics is barely on their radar if it is at all and science is nothing more than a peripheral concern I.e. "how does current science affect me?"

Even today, in the twenty first century, science education is abysmal in the U.S., especially when it comes to talking about evolution. There are many locations where the teaching about evolution is minimal or ignored altogether - whether because the teacher is afraid of dealing with pissed off parents or school boards, or because the teacher doesn't believe evolution explains where we come from. And your average fundamentalist is having their Faith and dogma constantly reinforced, while any discussion about evolution is dismissed as liberal, atheistic propaganda, or even the work of Satan.

So it works out as really easy for people to grow up believing what their Faith and the dogma of their faith has to say about origins and dismissing the little they may have heard about evolution as evil lies. About the only creationists who are really likely to change, are those who have a casual interest in understanding how the world works and who aren't ready to believe that Satan makes it appear that evolution happened.

But is it really reasonable to expect them too? Like I said, most non-creationists have little, if any understanding of how evolution happens because it simply doesn't really matter to them. Why would creationists be a whole lot different. They know how the world came into being - they learned it when they were young, had it reinforced throughout their lives and had people they trust explaining why evolution is really evilution. About their only hope is to have a science class with a teacher who actually understands evolution, isn't afraid to teach it, has a smart-ass in their class who wants to throw creationism out there and a teacher who isn't afraid to address the smart-ass's comments - oh, and said student would also need to be paying attention...

Most people are simply not going to go looking into this on their own. They aren't going to really look into anything that might contradict what they have believed their whole life. They aren't doing it maliciously either - nor are they attempting to wallow in ignorance. They are mostly just living their lives like anyone else - not really giving a shit about anything outside their cosy little world.

They are no more irrational than people who believe that evolution is survival of the fittest, that evolution means we descended from apes or monkeys that are just like the ones we can see at the zoo. It is not particularly rational, rather it is neither rational nor irrational - ignorant is a considerably more accurate label. And there are even cases where not believing in creationism would be highly irrational - especially when we are talking about children, who truly know nothing else. When you know nothing else, is it remotely rational to decide what you know to be true isn't? There was a time in my own life when it would have been pretty irrational for me to deny the Genesis story of creation.

Given the prevalence of religion in the U.S., unless you are young or non-American, odds are that there was such a time for you as well...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Misogyny, Misandry and What Lies Beneath

DuWayne has been very, very bad. We're talking horribly evile and possibly even stoopid. Recently, I had the gall to use the term misogyny, while totally failing to counterpoint it with accusations of misandry after being attacked with an apparent attempt at misandrist rhetoric. Worse, it was then noted that in all my posts about gender, I have only mentioned misogyny once and never mention misandry. Apparently it didn't matter that the time I posted about misogyny, it was to chastise someone who made a flagrantly bullshit accusation of misogyny. No, what matters is that I have completely ignored misandry.

Evile I tell you, I am totally evile...

Or am I?

There is a reason that I haven't really discussed misogyny and misandry. While I definitely do not approve of either, I am far more interested in writing about the roots of misogyny and misandry. Rather than focusing on specific incidents of M&M, I want to focus on why I think these are persistent problems in society and the evidence that suggests that I'm correct in my perception of the underlying problems. And while there are plenty of folks discussing specific incidents of M or M, there aren't so many discussing how to deal with the root causes.

While I am not one to shy from illustrative anecdotes, I tend to be a rather abstract thinker. I am more interested in the why than I am in the specific whats. The why is important, because until we understand the why, we can't deal with the whats and ultimately we'll just be stuck in a reactionary mode that will never accomplish anything.

But I think there are some very important points to be made about M&M. Accusations of M or M tend to fly way too freely. Like many other sorts of accusations, the overuse of M&M has gotten to the point that both words, especially misogyny, have been rendered virtually meaningless. Like the post I wrote about misogyny - accusing someone who is criticizing someone else of misogyny, simply because the person being criticized happens to be a women is absolutely absurd on it's face. Likewise, taking the lying gameplaying insult at Greg's blog and assuming that it exemplifies misandry is absurd. It was a personal insult leveled at me and men who share some similarities with me - it was far from a generalized statement of man hating.

These should be very powerful words, yet like many powerful words they are rapidly becoming useless. When I was a child, bigot was a word of similar power and while it is still a relatively nasty word, one can't assume that a person being accused of bigotry has said or done really horrible things. It has gotten to the point where we just use too many damned power words in inappropriate places. We just destroy the potency that such words should have and render them useless when it is appropriate. And I say we because unfortunately, I am occasionally guilty of it as well.

What's really rather ironic, is that I didn't really think that the original post that fostered this discussion (warning: there are rather nasty trolls on this thread, do not read scroll down that thread if you have bloodpressure problems) was showing something that is inherently misogynistic. Rather, the very old childrens book pictured perpetuates gender roles that lend themselves to misogyny and destructive gender role conflicts. That book and the bullshit it perpetuated is definitely worthy of discussion and I plan on writing about it at some point. But even that is not worthy of accusations of misogyny. Rather, it is worthy of fostering a discussion of what lies beneath misogynistic attitudes and ultimately misandrist attitudes that were fostered in the backlash of the social gender constructs that book fosters.

But even beyond the discussion of M&M, it would really behoove us to quit acting like complete and utter fucking morons and use power words sparingly, so that they can retain their power.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

My Everything Hurts!!!

I am just way too out of shape right now. I just put in a days work that would have had me nary breaking a sweat four or five years ago - only not only did I break a sweat, I am hurting - everywhere...

On the up side, I got a lot done and made sure that the pole barn shop I am getting prepped to side will be sound. The guy who originally built it put in a single 2x12 for a header over the sixteen foot garage door. Apparently he felt that because he was putting another 2x12 on the inside of the posts, everything would be fine. And it actually would have been, had he connected outside 2x12 with the one on the inside. So we were able to take about two inch sag out of the opening. To do so, we had to fur out the rest of the wall - at this point, if anyone runs into the wall (it's a mechanic's shop) it won't be a problem. Likewise, if there is a massive earthquake, that wall will still be standing...

Did I mention I'm really sore? Like everydamnedthing hurts?

Oh well, tomorrow should be...even worse. Because tomorrow, we have to build and set the gable end overhang ladders. But it will all be downhill from there - mostly I'll just be doing the light duty, more skilled aspects of getting this job done.

I forgot to mention the insulation in the walls and ceiling. It was the best of both worlds. I am mildly allergic to the fiberglass in the walls and the ceiling is covered with celulose - and me also mildly allergic to formaldehyde.

And did I mention I'm sore? I need some damned icecream!!!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Dead Deer on the Highway and Other Adventures

There was wildlife galore, on the 130 mile trip between here and the Detroit Metro Airport. I counted about 13 dead deer on the highway, as well as 7 turkeys on my round trip run to drop my aunt at the airport. While it's not unusual to see dead deer on Michigan highways, 13 in that trip is pretty extreme. And I'm pretty sure that I've never seen dead turkeys on the highways of southern Michigan at all. They aren't even all that common north of Big Rapids, but at least I've seen them up there. But today, I saw as many, if not more turkeys on this run, than I think I've ever seen as road kill.

What's more, there have been quite a few coyotes spotted in southern MI, over the last couple years. Coyotes have been virtually nonexistent much further south than Cadillac for most of my life. For several years there was a DNR bounty on coyotes and red tail foxes - presumably a bounty that's been lifted.

But back to today's adventures...

I'm pleased to announce that my aunt survived the trip to the airport and I managed the same. I even managed to be extremely polite and carry on a reasonable conversation that didn't involve any real conflict - and remarkably, there was no criticism forthcoming from my aunt. Probably why there was no conflict and she survived the trip... The ride back was actually pretty pleasant, though I may have been off on my deer count, because the large number of state troopers out was a bit distracting. Not that I'm a big speeder, but because they flitting about all over the place and it makes me very uncomfortable to be tailgated - especially at seventy some mph.

And I just smoked a few hits off my third cigarette of the day. I am not doing as well as I would like considering the start that I had, but I am doing pretty good and now that the semester is over and I am out of crunch time, I am getting back down. We'll see how long it takes, but since getting the e-cigarette a few weeks ago, I have smoked less than what would usually be a weeks worth of tobacco...

So now I am enjoying a decent cup of coffee, brewed at my preferred 73 degrees celsius. I am also enjoying the wonderful smell of onions, garlic and flank steak, emanating from the roaster in the kitchen. About the only thing missing, is the most beautiful and brilliant women in the world. Because I would love nothing more than to be wowing her with my prowess in the kitchen and, well...

My lovely roaster is filled with diced tomatoes, pureed sweet onion and garlic, chopped golden potatoes and vidalia onion, mushrooms and of course, a super sexy flank steak. Dinner will be late, but it's going to be most wonderful. And though I will be without the greatest women ever, my friend John will be joining me. I will just have to wow Juniper with my cooking at a later date.

I will also note that DuWayne will be getting more orgamanized with the blog. I have several things that I want to get writing about and have started actually outlining the topics and how I want to approach them. I have several posts to work on about me and how I became me, before I start with my next therapist in a few weeks. I also want to get into terrorism, protest and the rule of law, which will probably end up encompassing five or six posts - possibly more. There are some posts I would like to put up discussing addiction and some about gender, as well as some general neurological issue posts in the wings. Finally, I am going to start working on some posts about magical thinking - both religious and "medical." And of course there will be the random reactionary posts.

I figure that getting some decent outlines put together now, will make it easier to keep up with writing when the summer semester starts. I have a heavy schedule and this fall will also be pretty full, so I want to be well prepared to deal with the topics that have been bothering me and unfortunately neglected because I have trouble figuring out where to start.

I am also going to outline some posts for the Quitters blog and am desperately hoping that some others begin to post over there as well. I have had interest in a general addiction blog, but am not sure I want to go through the trouble, if I can't get others to post to the smoking blog. We'll see how it goes, I am hoping that getting some more posts up over there will get others going. And it may just be that a general addiction community will work out better - I certainly got a strong response to the possibility.

If anyone has any suggestions for what they would like to see me write about, let me know. I am not promising that I will prioritize entirely according to what others want to read, but I am definitely willing to take that into consideration....(For the record, the smell coming from the kitchen is really hot - not quite as sexy as my love, but pretty sexy just the same)

Monday, May 4, 2009

CAM, Anti-Vax loons and the Morons at Merck

I am more than a little pissed after reading this post, which I found through Greg Laden. I am pissed because I have become increasingly involved with fighting non-evidence based medicine, mostly with people around me. I don't really write about it much, though I have begun thinking that I should. I haven't really felt the need to, because there are a lot of great medical bloggers out there who do such a fantastic job of it - several of whom are linked in my sidebar. In particular, Orac, PalMD, Mark Hoofnagle and the great people at Science Based Medicine do one hell of a job tearing down the veneer of crap and exposing it for what it is.

Here's the issue I have. I'm a reasonably intelligent person, a bit above average even. Yet I am also what I like to call, pathologically credulous. I have fallen into remarkable amounts of magical thinking over the years and not because I'm dumb. In fact part of it is because I tend not to assume that something is true, just because everyone else says it is. And my relationship with non-evidence based "medicine" was largely grounded in the idea that evidence based medicine is largely profit based and therefore largely corrupt. What wasn't so apparent to me at the time, was that a lot of the bullshit that I was falling into was just as profit based and much of it was even more corrupt - though much of the corruption was a very different sort. I also fell into a lot of the bullshit because many of the claims were made by people who also made claims that were easily verifiable - they fostered my trust and I believed what they had to say about things that weren't so easily verifiable.

And that is the key to sucking people into so called alternative medicine. Efficacy by association. Throwing plant medicines that actually have some degree of efficacy (largely because many pharmaceuticals are derived from plant sources) into the mix, even though this can actually be quite dangerous in some cases (a whole post of its own sometime). Throwing legitimate medical treatments in, but using them for things they simply aren't called for - such as chelation therapy. It makes it easier to sell people on flat out bullshit. Things like osteopathy, homeopathy and energy medicine - things that are not only not supported by evidence, but which are flat out absurd on their face. Things that are based on nothing more than magical thinking.

It's bad enough that some of these "medicines" can be dangerous in and of themselves - either because the actual treatment is harmful, or more often, because the treatment is used in place of evidence based medicine. But it doesn't stop there. There is a very dark side to this, with insane and deadly notions like HIV/AIDS denialism, denial of the germ theory of disease, the anti-vaccine movement and anti-chemotherapy proponents. People actually die because of this complete and utter bullshit.

Another reason it is easy for some people to fall into magical thinking in regards to medicine, is because of the perception that evidence based medicine is mostly based on therapies developed by corrupt pharmaceutical companies. Most people don't start out believing that, but I think that most people do recognize that pharmaceutical companies and for that matter, medical science in general, is not immune to corruption. And I think that most people recognize that sometimes that corruption includes maliciously covering evidence that companies wish to avoid becoming public. This makes it rather easy for some people to buy the CAM line that critics of CAM and even fringe CAM ideas, are simply shills for Big Pharma - an evil bogyman that's out to addict people to their medicines and cast them aside when they've been poisoned by them. From there it isn't much of a trek to believing that all evidence based medicine is evile and that doctors are merely merchants of death, the death manufactured by Big Pharma.

This is why I am so very angry at Merck and the doctors that contributed to their advertising rag, disguised as a legitimate science journal*. The doctor involved should should face sanctions. And Merck should be fined heavily by the FDA. Things that would happen, if we lived in a reasonable world, in a reasonable country with reasonable oversight. There is something very wrong with a system where this can happen and the people involved don't even understand that they did something wrong. This is absolutely and categorically disgusting and unconscionable.

But the idea that this somehow validates the proponents of woo, the peddlers of magical thinking in the guise of medicine, is a logical fallacy and a rather obvious one - if not also one that is easy to accept. Just because another pharmaceutical company and some doctors were really damned stupid and highly unethical, does not mean that all of science based medicine is. And there are several doctors and scientists out there who would like to make sure you know that this is not the mainstream of science based medicine. Some of them have even written about this....

Respectful Insolence

Adventures in Ethics and Science

Dr. Isis

Stranger Fruit

Greg Laden

*I would also note that I am more disappointed in Elsevier for publishing this bullshit, than I am with Merck and the people involved from their end. That they would choose to put out this kind of garbage reflects poorly on them and while it may be a while yet before I am publishing papers, this will certainly reflect on my decisions about where to publish.