Author Archive

It’s all About Communication

spinach caught in teeth

Shelley Berman did a comedy routine back in the sixties in which he described being on a date and every time you go to kiss the girl she turns her head.  Then when you get home you look in the mirror and find a big piece of spinach RIGHT  HERE.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if such a scenario were impossible.  In my perfect world it would be, because people would talk to each other.  Like this: “You know, I’d really like to kiss you but you have a big chunk of spinach in your teeth and it’s grossing me out.  How about we get rid of that and try again?”

Is that really so hard?  Why don’t I live in that world, instead of a world in which people identify with and laugh at Shelley Berman’s story?

And given that my perfect world doesn’t exist, can we do anything about this?

 

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The Rehab Industry

Drug-Testing-Table-SignIt’s quite possible that the “war on drugs” is winding down now.  Finally.

Washington State in America has made the purchase of recreational marijuana legal, following the lead of Arizona.  Both states are now raking in the tax revenue and everybody’s happy.

We are seeing more effort and money put into rehabilitating drug users, and less going into enforcement.  This is an improvement.  But of course the war on drugs had a very heavy economic component.  Lots of people were making money off fighting the “crime” of drug use.  That economic activity must be replaced by something if our economy isn’t going to tank.  Enter the rehab industry.

It’s just a cynical as the war on drugs was, maybe more so.  If you have a job that is thought to require a clear mind, which could be just about any job, then you must never admit to having even tried drugs.  Ever.  Not even once.  Because if you admit that you once tried drugs, you become suspect.  Next thing you know you’ll be paying for drug testing every week to make sure you are not currently using.  That can get expensive.  That can get VERY expensive.

Here’s a link to a British Columbia drug testing company, CDS Drug Testing SErvices of B C, Inc.   If you follow that link you will see that this company has more ways than one to make a buck. They offer reasonable suspicion training or how to recognize employees who likely to be using, and employee assistance programs, read rehab.  Some of these costs will be born by employers, but often the employer can insist that the employee pay for his or her testing, which can go on for months.  All it takes is reasonable suspicion, and you gave them that by being honest and admitting that you smoked weed back in university.

Some of this makes a certain amount of sense.  We don’t want stoners driving our taxis or working in our hospitals.  But the reality is that a joint the night before at a party is not going to fuck you up for your next shift the following morning.  It will show up in a blood test though, and that could get you suspended or fired.

The world is making adjustments to the more tolerant and intelligent attitudes toward drug use, especially soft drug use.  But what is really happening is that the white businessmen are planning on making a shitload of money doing what they have been putting poor black kids in jail for, and at the same time catching the recreational drug users in the rehab system.

The war on drugs isn’t really over.  It’s just shifted to a war on drug users.  Grab some popcorn and sit back to watch, because this is going to get interesting.

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Trolls, Attention Whores, and the Streisand Effect

Here’s a situation.  A misogynist YouTube blogger puts up a sexist and disgusting video that generates outrage.  A prominent feminist blogger writes him an open letter politely asking him to take down his offensive video and rethink his attitudes.  She invites everybody to share and reblog her letter, which all friends, supporters and allies do.  Misogynist sexist douchebag gets a metric shitload of traffic to his offensive video.  He then puts up a video revealing that it was all a social experiment designed to bring attention to a very worthy cause and thank you all for reacting the way you did; am I not a true hero of the Internet.  Many people dismiss his rational, some accept it and consider him clever, but the end result is that he’s suddenly well known.

Is he an attention whore douche bag or a clever activist genius?  I’m having a hard time deciding.

If we object to a message being put out on Yourtube, or any other site, how can we publicize our objection without driving traffic to the person we would like to shut down?

Laci GreenThis actual scenario played out recently when Laci Green put up an open letter to Sam Pepper, politely asking him to reconsider his attitudes toward women and take down, or cease making, the kinds of videos he was putting up on YouTube.  I’m a fan of Laci Green.  I never would have heard of Sam Pepper if she hadn’t written the open letter to him, and invited me to reblog it.  Actually, the chain of events is longer than this.  I’m a fan of PZ Myers at Pharyngula, and I first got the Lacy Green letter story from that site, which linked me to the Lacy Green site.  And it was in the Pharyngula comments that I learned about the “reveal” video that Sam Pepper had posted.  Also a link to Ophelia and Steve Kelly and Fay Strang atMirror.  Wow.  I’d say this was a successful self promotion campaign in spades.

Sam Pepper

All of this activity seems to have played right into Sam Pepper’s plans.  If attention and fame was his goal, and it’s hard to imagine him having any other, despite his proclaimed desire to bring attention to men who suffer from assaults, we have all delivered exactly what he wanted.  I feel tricked and used.

I also feel a tiny bubbling of admiration for this shameless self promoter.  I mean, one has to admire success.

I now intend to go back to my previous practice of not commenting on the buzz of the blogosphere but sticking to issues I feel something about directly.  I don’t want to be a part of the Is-Sam-Harris-Sexist-Is Dawkins-a-Douche-Is-Thunderfoot-an-Asshole imbroglios.  I don’t really care who is wrong on the Internet and all I could ever add to the discussion is my opinion.  There are certainly enough opinions floating around.  You all can live without mine on these issues.

Now that I’m back up and running, maybe I should look at my drafts and see if there is anything worth posting.  I’ll get back to you.

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Time to Shut Down Sam Pepper

I haven’t been posting for a long time.  Something was wrong with my WordPress.  I couldn’t see what I was typing in.  Rather than fix it, which would have taken a lot of time, I just backed everything up and stopped blogging since all the previous posts were visible.  But apparently the latest WordPress updates fixed the problem, though I’m not happy with the new layout of my blog (I wanted the sidebar on the side, not under the posts but oh well). It’s been a nice break.  But now I’m back.

A Youtube “comedian” has been posting “funny” videos of himself pinching women on the butt and expressing great amusement at their discomfort.  Lacy Green wrote him an open letter, very politely suggesting that this was not good behaviour and asking him to stop.  I don’t know how this works, but apparently reblogging her letter somehow adds my signature, so here it is.

Sam Pepper as dumb as he looks.

Sam Pepper as dumb as he looks.

*******************************

Open Letter from Lacy Green to Sam Pepper

Hi Sam!

Thanks for taking the time to read this letter.  As fellow YouTubers, we have much respect for others who put so much hard work into building their channel.  It’s not easy, and you should be proud!  That said, we’ve noticed that in your success, there has been a lack of respect in return…namely, for women and girls.

You may have noticed that your latest video “Fake Hand Ass Pinch Prank” has garnered considerable negative attention.  In this video, you sexually violate a number of unsuspecting women on the street, many of whom are visibly confused and upset at being touched by you without permission.  One woman even says “I don’t like that!” while you proceed to laugh and touch her more.  In “How to Make Out with Strangers”, made a year ago, you pressure women on camera to make out with you – again, many of whom are visibly uncool with it.  Confused and caught off guard, they painfully follow through with your requests, clearly uncomfortable.  In “How to Pick Up Girls with a Lasso”, you physically restrain women on the street with lassos – many of whom look alarmed to be restrained by a stranger.

You’d probably be alarmed too, wouldn’t you?  Imagine someone on the street comes up and rubs their hand on your bottom, or a girl walks up to you with a camera and forces her mouth onto yours while you’re trying to figure out what’s going on.  Imagine walking down the alley alone, when a guy much larger than you physically restrains you with rope and pulls you toward him.  You probably wouldn’t like it, right?

People don’t like to be violated and they don’t like to see their friends and girlfriends be violated either (hence the group of men that tried to beat you up in the lasso video).  And yet, history suggests that perhaps you find this humorous.  It is very disturbing that we live in a world where the violation of women and girls’ bodies is not only funny, but profitable, and can garner considerable notoriety and views on YouTube.

We are deeply disturbed by this trend and would like to ask you, from one creator to another, to please stop.  Please stop violating women and making them uncomfortable on the street for views.  Please stop physically restraining them and pressuring them to be sexual when they are uncomfortable.  Please show some respect for women’s right to their own bodies.  While it may seem like harmless fun, a simple prank, or a “social experiment”, these videos encourage millions of young men and women to see this violation as a normal way to interact with women.  1 in 6 young women (real life ones, just like the ones in your video) are sexually assaulted, and sadly, videos like these will only further increase those numbers.

We realize that people make mistakes, and that sometimes it’s hard to see the ripple effect of one’s actions.  We really hope that you will take a step back and consider the power you have to be someone who makes the world a better place.  It’s not too late to make a change!  We invite you to join us in ending widespread bodily violation that takes place in so many forms all around in the world.

Thanks so much.

Laci GreenMeghan TonjesTyler OakleyTomSkaViHartALBRoss EverettMatt LiebermanMeg TurneyTom FlynnTyrannosaurus LexArielle ScarcellaDan at NerdCubedRachel WhitehurstHannah Witton, Jefferson Bethke, MusicalBethan, Kaleb Nation, Chris Thompson, Michael Buckley, Jared Oban, Liam Dryden, Sanne Vliegenthart, Bryarly Bishop, Nicola Foti, Chescaleigh, Grace Helbig, Wheezy Waiter, Morgan Paige, Nathan Z., MumboJumbo, Miles Jai, Adorian Deck, Alli Speed, Matthew Santoro, Jaclyn Glenn, Hank Green, Rosianna Rojas, Grayson, Taryn Southern, Carrie Hope Fletcher, Adam Hattan, Drew Monson, Josh Sundquist, Mamrie Hart, Strawburry17, Catie Wayne, Hannah Hart, Catrific, Connor Manning, Emily Graslie, Sarah Weichel, Jack Howard, Louise Sprinkleofglitter, Mr. Repzion, John Green, Rob Dyke, Dean Dobbs, Charlie McDonnell, Wil Wheaton, Mitch & Greg at AsapSCIENCE

[MORE COSIGNERS TO COME.  SHARE/REBLOG TO SIGN!]

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A Believer Being Right for a Change

Neil at Australian LutheranThere is so much annoying nonsense coming from religious believers, it’s tempting to dismiss them all as unreasonable idiots.  But it’s important to give them some credit when credit is due.

Neil writes at a blog titled Lutheran Church of Australia: In My Opinion. He is trying to single handedly reform the leadership of his church when it comes to LGBTQ issues.  He’s good.  He’s worth reading.  He’s entirely too intelligent and reasonable to be a Christian, but he insists that’s what he is.

The leadership of the Christian Church in Australia including the leadership of my own church enjoy a position of real power and influence in this country. They have, for decades, in a coordinated and well-funded manner spoken against our LGBT brothers and sisters labelling them as sinful, disordered and diseased.

But things have changed. Others have voiced their support for LGBT rights and equality and have begun to publicly question the Church. Some have even gone so far as to call the church*s views bigoted and homophobic.

The churches response? Rather than entering into genuine dialogue with those who have been hurt by their teachings,  the Church have pulled up the drawbridge, manned the ramparts, dug deeply into their persecution complex storehouse and cried *Discrimination.*

You’d almost think PZ Myers was his ghost writer.  His latest post is one of his best.

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Religion on Thin Ice

This is a daring, even dangerous, sign for a church to put up.  The only logical result of thinking about doubt is atheism.

Thinking? Dangerous ground for religion to explore.

As secularism gains critical mass, we can expect the churches to become more tolerant of atheists and even doubt, questioning, and yes, thinking.

My domestic partner and main squeeze has started to attend a church on Sundays.  It’s a church in which even I feel comfortable, the First Unitarian Fellowship, a United Universalist church.  The sermons could only be described as secular, with few if any mentions of a sky faerie, and the intellectual environment is several cuts above any other church I’ve ever been in.  They welcome everybody, including atheists.  The stories they read for the children are things like “The Everything Seed” by Carole Martignacco which presents a seed from which came everything as an analogy for the big bang, like an atheist creation myth.  I think a good part of the draw for my partner is a chance to sing in a choir, but she also appreciates the welcoming atmosphere and,  as advertised, the fellowship.

PZ has a post about how we can’t expect churches to go away.  They will adapt and evolve.  We can see this happening already, especially when a church invites us to think.  Of course they want certain conclusions from the thinking they encourage, but that’s only to be expected.  Dream on, you guys.

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Too Much Information

I’ve always hated that phrase, too much information.  It’s usually said by somebody who is squeamish about body functions or your personal and disgusting habits.  But we all have body functions and personal disgusting habits.  I have no problem with people telling me about theirs.

But I’ve found that too much information is really hurting me now.   I thought I knew all about the effects of infant male circumcision.  I didn’t.  I recently found this video, and it explained why my ejaculation is, as she describes it, an “on off switch” rather than a smooth ride to orgasm.

Interesting.  Upsetting. The more I learn about the results of circumcision, the more I personally feel a deep and painful sense of loss.  I wish I could simply ignore her description of the sexual act for an intact man as opposed to a circumcised me, but her description of what sex feels like to me is too spot on.  That’s what it feels like to me.  No smooth ride to climax, but hard humping waiting for something to happen and then, okay, here I come.  An on off switch.

Masturbation has now become at times painful.  I feel like I have to beat the little prick to death to get him to spit it out.  Again, it’s an on off switch, not a smooth ride to the top of the roller coaster.

I’ve never before wanted to be ignorant about anything, but sometimes I wish I had remained ignorant on this subject.  I’ve always loved sex.  It’s been good enough. No, not just good enough, it’s been great. But now as I get older, I find problems that obviously come from having been circumcised and if I were ignorant they wouldn’t have the same sting.  If I were ignorant, as I assume are most circumcised men, I’d just accept it as the way it is with being human.  I wouldn’t feel so cheated and fucked over.

If you are a circumcised man, and I’m now making you feel cheated and fucked over, sorry about that.  But join the campaign.  This kind of thing has to stop.  It was done to us, but it doesn’t need to be done to any more helpless babies.

Fucking doctors with their anti-sexual Abrahamic religion backgrounds, their smug assumption that they can fix things with surgery when no fixing is needed.  Fucking parents with the smug attitude that they can do whatever they want with their baby, even cut off part of his genitals just to make him look more like daddy, though apparently that wasn’t the situation with my father.  My father never allowed me to see his penis.  He had a huge lump of body shame and I never even saw him in a bathing suit.  I found out recently that he wasn’t circumcised.  I’d love to know who sold him on the idea and how a smart man like him could accept it.

Ah, baggage.  Let it go, Darwin.  Let it go.

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I Guess I’m Just a Crank

A crank is a person who is angry and offended by something that everybody else accepts or even desires.

It seems nobody agrees with me on some issues.  That makes me a crank.  There’s no getting away from it.

It has recently been brought to my attention, or more correctly my awareness, through conversations within my family, that I am the only one who is offended by the concept of laws against public nudity.  This isn’t because I wish to, as my sister would put it, prance around in the nude.  It’s simply because being told that I will go to jail if I try it says that there is something wrong with my body, something unacceptable, probably located in the genital area.

“Indecent exposure” is itself an indecent concept.

Stephen Gough, the naked rambler.  Turn him loose.But okay, I’m not completely alone here, though I lack the commitment of Stephen Gough, the naked rambler.

Mr. Gough walked naked from Land’s End to John o’ Groats in 2003-2004 and again in 2005-2006.

 

 

Stephen Gough arrested for offending the public. I am not offended by him.  I am offended by the public.

He’s been repeatedly arrested, and is currently serving 6 years in jail for appearing in public naked.  That is so very fucked up.

I wish I had the guts to walk across my country to show solidarity with Stephen Gough.

 

But back to my original point – Stephen Gough is a crank and so am I.  This is apparent because there’s been no widespread campaign to have him released, no embarrassment in the culture for treating him so shamelessly.  The vast majority of people seem to think that public nudity, which really harms nobody, is quite rightfully illegal.  People who offend us with their naked bodies deserve to be in jail.

Stephen Gough does have his fans and his defenders.  The Hebden Bridge Eccentrics turned out naked, or mostly naked, in solidarity.

Art least some people have a sense of shame.But it’s far from a general outcry.  I am truly offended.  I am furious.   Stephen Gough decided to fight one of the stupidest of our taboos.  He’s harmed nobody, but society feels justified in putting him in jail for what could be life.  By what right?  This is abuse of the law, using it to enforce the preferences of the majority.

New York recently declared that women have the right to appear topless in public.  I want the right to appear bottomless in public.  There is nothing obscene about my body, or yours.

This is a freedom of expression issue that should be important to everybody.  But only cranks like me and Stephen Gough care.

Maybe someday I’ll write up a sign to carry, strip off my clothes, and show my true colours.  It’s tempting, but I really don’t want the attention right now.

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Vancouver Pride 2013 Featuring Intactivists

As always, the Vancouver Pride parade this year was a great party.  There seems to be nothing like celebrating tolerance to bring out the best in people, and though one could easily become cynical at the political and corporate opportunists who are now flocking to raise the rainbow flag, it’s hard to imagine a more pleasant way to spend a summer’s day than surrounded by happy smiling people having fun. (click on any picture to see it more clearly if you can’t read some of the writing on the signs.)

Some of the parade now has nothing to do with being gay, though everybody claims to be celebrating diversity.  Some of it is just showing off and having fun, like these guys on their pedal powered walking sofa.

Paul and George on their walking sofa.  Vancouver Pride 2013

There is still some mild protest going on.

A mild protest of Russia's new anti-gay laws.  Vancouver Pride 2012

And the bondage faction added their usual colour….

The kinky guys and girls show off their pride.  Vancouver Pride 2013

There were eye candy hunks and babes…

Hunks and babes at Vancouver Pride 2013

 But most of the Pride Parade is safely bland good clean fun.

Christianity was well represented, with several churches declaring that the nasty opposition to gay rights is all being done by the other guys.  Not them.

The Anglican Church marchers in Vancouver Pride 2013

Every political party got an oar in the water, even the one that would like to take us back to 1956. But the good guys were also represented.

The Green Party of Canada at Vancouver Pride 2013

Vancouver City Counsillor Adrian Carr at Pride Vancouver 2013

I was very pleased to see the extent of the participation by intactivists such as the Childrens Health and Human Rights Partnership, who had a tent set up at Sunset Beach where the parade ended.

The CHHRP tent at Vancouver Pride 2013

I got to meet Kira and Tim, and thank them in person for their efforts to end the barbaric practice of infant male circumcision. They tirelessly explained the issue, which they correctly label as “forced circumcision”, to a stream of visitors.

Kira Antinuk explains the medical facts at Vancouver Pride 2013

I also met James Loewen under his sign reading “His Penis His Choice”.  James is a video blogger with the BONOBO3D YouTube channel.

James has some great videos on his Bonobo3D Youtube channel.

If you still have any doubts about what circumcision takes away, or about what you have lost yourself, you need to watch this.

One group that couldn’t participate in the parade, but were there to protest was Foreskin Pride .  You really should watch their video from last year.  They had approval for nudity before the parade last year, but there were “complaints”.  The Pride Parade committee to their shame found excuses to exclude them this year.  As their founder said, the Pride Parade is trying to be very “family friendly” and corporation friendly, which means that in your face activism doesn’t fit any more.  So sad that Gay Pride has morphed into this safe and mainstream celebration of diversity, with every politician and corporation jumping literally on the band waggon. Who could be against diversity?  But please… let’s keep it family friendly.  Let’s not offend anybody.

Foreskin Pride - banned from the parade but still there as protesters.

The great thing about Foreskin Pride and their campaign is that these are intact men, lucky bastards.  They are stepping out to refute the claim that a foreskin is dirty, that a foreskin has no importance in sex, and that a foreskin is a bad part of a penis, claims that any thinking person will see as bullshit. It takes men who still have their foreskins to start correcting the myths and misinformation.

My first reaction to these guys was to think, why are they here?  They still have their foreskin, so why should they care?  Why should they be fighting infant male circumcision.  Then I realized that I have no stake in the issue either.  My foreskin is gone and it’s not coming back. I’m an intactavist because I see something being done that is wrong and I want it to stop.  It’s not about me now, it’s about the infants who are still going under the knife.  I also realized that most of the women campaigning against FGM were not mutilated themselves.  They just recognize the crime and the horror.  So I’m grateful that these men as saying no, my foreskin is not ugly and my penis is not dirty.  The foreskin is the most enjoyable part of my body and cutting it off an infant is a crime against human rights and a crime against nature.

Foreskin Pride was banned from the parade, but they were there protesting.  I hope they got more press than I can give them here.

Foreskin Pride signs: Infant Circumkcision is Medical Fraud, Infant Circumcision Violates Medical Ethics, Genital Cutting is NOT a Parental Right Foreskin Pride signs: Forced Circumcision is Assault, Put Down the Knife Step Away From the Baby

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Do Yourself and Do It Yourself

What Nicolaus Hartsoeker imagined he could see in a sperm cell back in 1694, in the days when women only provided the vessel.My partner and I are both too old to have another child, a decision we reached when we found out the odds of having a downs syndrome baby once a woman is over forty.  So we’ve been using the notoriously ineffective coitus interruptus method for birth control.   A condom simply doesn’t work for me.  Put latex on my dick and it might as well be made of wood for all the sensation that makes it through the rubber, one more gift of circumcision.  It takes me long enough to achieve a climax as it is.

I never seem to dribble before I shoot, so coitus interruptus works well for us.  But it has the obvious disadvantage that I have to closely monitor my ejaculation, which pulls me out of the moment.  We both look forward to those times of the month when her period has reduced from a gusher to a trickle, and I can just stay where I want to be and explode into her without fear of contributing genetic material to a rug rat.  That means the really great sex happens once a month, provided I manage to slip through that window of opportunity.

Before we decided that pregnancy was too dangerous, we were trying to have a child.  I still would like one.  She’s never had one.  But two years or so of unprotected sex did not result in a pregnancy.  A while back she wondered out loud whether she is even fertile.  It’s a question.

There’s also a question about my fertility.  For all I knew, I could be shooting blanks.  I’m getting old.  Sex is still great, when it happens, but I do notice a marked reduction in my sex drive.  I’m just not the three times a night stud that I used to be.  Now it’s more like three times a month, if I can get it up.  And that can be a problem too.

Pretty much what my son's microscope looks like, only older.I happen to be visiting my son these days.  He’s a sciency type of guy and owns a microscope.  You can see where this is going, right?  Yesterday I took a…ahem…. sperm sample.  This is not as easy as it once was, but still possible with patience and vigorous stimulation.  I put a drop of my ejaculate on a slide and positioned it on the stage of the microscope.  Focus.  Focus.  My son’s microscope is a bit of an antique, though I’m sure it would have given Charles Darwin a pulge if he could have got his hands on one like it.  I couldn’t get the highest level of magnification to show me anything, and don’t know why.  But the middle objective lens gave me an image. Lo and behold there were dots in my cum.   Very active dots with tails.  Millions of active dots with thrashing tails.

I spent quite a while staring at those wiggling dots with tails.  It’s rather awesome to think that each one of those dots with a tail contains half my genetic material, and that the son I am visiting started out as a similar dot that managed to luck out and find a fertile egg in appropriate place in my first wife.  It was a feeling akin to looking at a newborn baby, except not as cute of course.  Missing those adorable fingers with tiny fingernails.  So strange to see something that came out of my body, yet remains so obviously alive, one might almost say purposeful.  That didn’t last.  After twenty minutes there was nothing to see, as if the cells had dissolved into the background goo.

I’ve read that one ejaculation from a healthy human contains enough sperm to impregnate every woman on the planet.  I don’t know if this is true, but there sure were a fuck of a lot of sperm in that drop of cum, and that drop was just a tiny fraction of my total ejaculation.

This is a bit bigger magnification than I had, but I could tell that those dots were active.That answers the questions about whether I still need to withdraw before I inject sperm into my wife’s vagina.  Now I realize that I could have done a more complete and definitive sperm count if I’d just spent the time for a bit of research.  I should have read this first.

Oh well.  It’s another couple of weeks before my wife joins me at my current location, deep in the back woods of a former British colony.  I have time, and possibly something else, on my hands.  Perhaps I’ll feel motivated to refine my technique and get more definitive.

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