Archive for January, 2011

In Defense of Hef – on Sex, Romance and Aging

Hugh Hefner and Crystal Harris.  Congratulations Hef.  And Ms. Harris, I wish you ever happiness.I read an op ed piece in the New York Times the other day that trashed Hugh Hefner. Apparently it’s unseemly, no,  more like revolting and nauseating,  for a man in his eighties to be marrying a twenty-four year old Playboy Playmate.  The Times piece has festered since I read it, and I’m finally ready to reply, to offer a defence of a man who needs no defense, but mostly to express my disgust with the writer and my appreciation if not admiration for Hugh Hefner.  

 Timothy Egan begins his pointlessly nasty rant on Hefner with:
“Let’s just get this out of the way before the new year is all backed up with highly consequential events of much greater urgency: Hugh Hefner is repulsive.
There. I feel guilty already violating a resolution to be less snarky and judgmental in 2011. But while on a sugar high as I vow to diet, I might as well take another bite: Hugh Hefner is reptilian and should never be looked upon as a role model for anything except how not to grow old.”

This is pretty much the cutesy tone of the rest of the piece, and one can just imagine the middle-of-the-road-brain-dead of America nodding their heads in self-righteous agreement as the portrait of senile decadence rolls out.  I could pick his attack apart, point by point, but that would be… rather pointless. This hatchet piece and hack job isn’t really about Hugh Hefner.  It’s about Timothy Egan and his superficial and judgmental assessment of a man he has, in all likelihood, never met and knows only through his extensive reading of the popular media – National Enquirer, People Magazine, that kind of high toned intellectual fare.   Egan even consults his daughter on the topic of the Hefner marriage, and gets the predictable teenager grimace in response.   Timothy Egan and his, by his own admission trivial, shallow as a soap dish, paid by the word opinion is not worth another word from me.  So I’m not going to talk about Timothy Egan any more.  I want to talk about my youth, Playboy Magazine, and the man Mr. Egan says should be a roll model for nobody, Hugh Hefner.

Hefner has taken a lot of flack over the years.  Some is no doubt valid.  You can’t look at a Playboy bunny without seeing a woman objectified.  The feminists do have grounds for complaint.  But Playboy also objectified men and gave us a glossy and superficial vision of success and shallow materialism.  It’s always been a far cry from “Wooden Boat”.  What we should put on the plus side of the ledger, though, is that the magazine presented the revolutionary idea for its day that woman just might like sex too.  Maybe it’s time somebody pointed out that the Hefner has been IMPORANT.  Yes.  Important.  If for nothing else than for making my generation of men better lovers.  That’s no small thing.
     I’m old enough to have a sense of history.  I came from the tail end of an age of oppression and repression that Egan’s teen-aged daughter can hardly imagine.  In high school I owned a pocket dictionary with one or two word definitions,  surely the worst dictionary I ever owned.  For example, it defined “circumlocution” as “prevarication” and then defined “prevarication” as “circumlocution”, which, when I think of the circular nature of this set of definitions, is hysterically ironic but not very useful.  It also contained the incredibly enlightening two word definition for masturbation:  “bodily self-pollution”.  You got that?  Aside from being more an expression of disgust than a definition, all connotation with no denotation, it was stupid and destructive.  To me it sums up the attitude toward sex of that age:  The healthiest sexual activity one could ever encourage a youth to practice, a release of sexual tension that should be taught in schools, in today’s world the ONLY truly safe sex, was in my childhood blamed for every medical problem from heart disease to failing eyesight.  In that thankfully dead world, masturbation was not just a sin, it was positively dangerous and, just like smoking pot, could lead to death.  Death from masturbation?  Absolutely.  Just consult any sex manual, or ask Dr. Kellogg
     In my childhood, sex was seldom mentioned and then only with disapproval or a snicker of embarrassment.  Ours was a repressive culture.  A culture dominated by men.  A culture in which sex education was presented disguised as a dirty joke, or a good technique to trick a woman into giving you sex.  A culture in which sexual harassment in the work place was an executive privilege and farm boys headed for the big city to beat up queers for fun on Saturday night.  A culture in which sex was usually coercive and pretty darn ugly.  Women were “made”.  If my father spoke of my penis, he called it  “your weapon”.  Words have meaning.  It took men of courage to suggest that sex could be good clean fun, for both men AND women, and even for LGBT men and women.  It took a man like Hugh Hefner and his Playboy Magazine, in particular The Playboy Forum, which discussed in very frank and open terms the concerns and problems men have with sex.

When I was just starting university, my mom found my stack of Playboy Magazines under my bed.  She was outraged that her son was reading what she considered to be porn.  I told her she could throw them out, but she had to read them first.  She did.  Then she gave them back to me.  
     Oddly enough, I wasn’t whacking to the pictures all that much.  I never found the Playboy “bunnies” all that attractive.  They always looked too plastic.  Too artificial.  Or maybe just too unattainable.  But the magazine published the best minds of the day, and introduced me to everything from world politics to civil rights.  It was a good magazine.
     It’s easy to look back at those days of my callow youth and squirm inside with embarrassment.  Playboy Magazine now seems so utterly juvenile, with it’s big titted airbrushed beauties and totally silly comics.  We all need to go through a juvenile phase before we emerge as mature, thoughtful adults.  Playboy was a huge part of that process for me.  The Playboy Forum discussed sex in a way that was intelligent and totally politically correct.  The emphasis was always on consensual sex, loving sex, enjoyment and respect.  It seemed to cover anything, and I vividly remember being introduced to the concept of (What?  Yuck?  You’re kidding? What would the young Egan daughter say to this?) eating an anus,  or “eating the rose” as the Playboy Forum told me the French would put it.  It took me thirty years to get around to trying that one, but without The Playboy Forum the experience would not be in my memory bank.  And while I’m not a dedicated rose eater these days, I must say it was worth the visit.  My life has been enriched. 
     The Playboy Forum also spent a fair bit of time on cunnilingus and fellatio, two other rather large stumbling blocks for the previous generation.  And those are part of my sexual repertoire that I am ever so grateful to Mr. Hefner for popularizing.

When the movie Deep Throat came out to a lot of fanfare and media attention, my parents asked me what the fuss was all about.  What was the plot of the movie?  I told them that it was a silly fantasy about a woman whose clitoris was in her throat,  hence the title.  My mom and dad looked like they were going to vomit.  “That’s disgusting,” was all my father could manage to say.  I realized that my old man had probably never been blown, and had for sure never gone down on my mom.  This made me sad.  It also made me appreciate the heroic and courageous men and women who had changed the sexual landscape so completely.  Kinsey, Masters and Johnson, and, yes, Hugh Hefner.

I have a dear friend who once told me:  “They criticize me for liking younger women.  I don’t like younger women.  I like the same women I’ve always liked.”  And ain’t it the truth.  Hefner has had, in all probability, more pussy than anybody else on earth.  He deserves it all.  If, with the aid of our modern miracle drugs, he can still get it on with a healthy and athletic young woman, more power to him.  We might suspect that sex at his age is,  in the immortal words of George Burns, “like playing pool with a rope”.  But I also can imagine and believe that there is a lot more to their relationship than sex.  I suspect that Crystal Harris is a very lucky young woman.  I suspect that she’s found a good man, and knows it.  But who can say?  A friend of mine opined that this is more a business deal than a real marriage.  Again, who can say?  It’s none of my business, and certainly none of Mr. Egan’s.

I think we can all recognize the ick factor in the marriage of a man in his eighties to a twenty-four year old, but then so many things associated with coupling and sexuality kick up the gag reflex that this should merely be cause for a moment of thought, rather than a reflex regurgitation.  I know an incredibly handsome gay movies star whose dumpy middle aged lover is hardly the erotic wet dream one would expect.  Who knows what attracts people to each other? Mr. Egan doesn’t seem to consider the possibility that the young woman may actually love Hugh Hefner, even if Mr. Egan and his daughter find the old fossil reptilian.  Hefner has been fighting taboos all his life.  I’m glad to see that there is still some fight in him.  The tut tutting of this puking and puling journalist is only an indication that the fight hasn’t yet been won.

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The Power of Prayer

Not even the devout believers really believe it works.I have a fundamentalist friend who sometimes sends me jokes intended to tickle the funny bone of the believers, and, apparently unintended, to further convince all us unbelievers that the whole religion thing is a total crock.  The last batch he sent me included a joke that I found VERY funny, because it’s very true, not necessarily true in fact as a real event, but certainly true in principle:

Joke:
In a small mid-western conservative town, a business owner  began to construct a building for a new bar. The local  Baptist church started a campaign to block the bar from opening with petitions and prayers.  Work progressed, however, right up until the week before opening, when a lightning strike hit the bar and it burned  to the ground.
The church folks were rather smug in their outlook after that, until the bar owner sued the church on the grounds that the church was ultimately responsible for the demise of his building, either through direct or indirect actions or means.
     In its reply to the court, the church vehemently denied all responsibility or any connection to the building’s demise.  As the case made its way into court, the judge looked over the paperwork at the hearing and commented, “I don’t know how I’m going to decide this, but as it appears from the paperwork, we have a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer, and an entire church congregation that doesn’t!”

The power of prayer: Sometimes it works.  Sometimes it doesn't.Yes.  Exactly.  That’s how believers feel about prayer.  They don’t really expect it to be effective, and actually know that it isn’t.  But it gives them something to do that quiets their minds when they have concerns, problems, or crisis.  It gives them the illusion of taking action, even when no effective action is possible.  When prayer doesn’t work, which, illusion aside, is all the time of course, they have their excuses ready: “God always answers prayers, but sometimes the answer is no.”  When the laws of probability allign with their prayers, they gleefully tell us that prayer works, and to praise their Lord. 
     The psychological value of this cognitive exercise is pretty obvious, and one can see why a believer would be reluctant to give it up.  That would mean they would have to accept the great “what is”, and stop trying to impose their puny human desires on reality.  That would be the true surrender they are always going on about.

What a strange collection of dementia, illusions and self-deception is this thing called religion.  I hold the theory that, in their hearts of hearts, the believers recognize the power of prayer as totally nonsense.  This is why they object so strongly when we point the nonsense out to them.  The most obvious indication of cognitive dissonance is anger.  The believer doth protest too much, methinks.

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Oh No, Canada.

I have tons of respect for Canada, the people of Canada, perhaps not so much for the current Conservative government, given their opposition to Kyoto and general neglect of the fabulous Canadian environment, but great affection for the country as a whole having spent a fair bit of time during my teenage years in several universities there.  Wonderful, enlightened country.  One of the first to recognize same sex marriages.  No death penalty, not even for Clifford Olson who certainly deserves it.   Canadians are the Swedes of North America.  But wait, are our Canadian friends going just a bit too far?
Dire Straights.  Classic rock satire, not homophobia.  Good clean fun.I just got the news that the great rock classic, Money for Nothing, a Dire Straights mega-hit from 1985 has been banned from the airwaves in Canada by the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.  If I were the owner of the rights to that music, I’d be rubbing my hands in glee.  I’d be dancing my happy dance.  I’d be off to the hardware store to buy a wheel barrow for all the money that’s going to flood into my bank account.  Talk about putting Dire Straights back on the charts after twenty-five years.  Good on ya, listener in St. John’s, Newfoundland, who complained about the lyrics being insulting to faggots.  Way to go.  Since the CBSC is a non-governmental organization intended to self-regulate the recording and broadcasting industries, one can’t help suspecting a bit of, shall we say, blatant marketing and promotion.

Funnier and more biting words have seldom been penned and put to music.  Here they are:

ARTIST: Dire Straits
TITLE: Money for Nothing
Lyrics by Mark Knopfler

I want my, I want my MTV
I want my, I want my MTV
/ Em7 – -

Now look at them yo-yo’s, that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on that MTV
That ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free
Now that ain’t workin’, that’s the way you do it
Lemme tell ya, them guys ain’t dumb
Maybe get a blister on your little finger
Maybe get a blister on your thumb

{Refrain} We got to install microwave ovens
Custom kitchen deliveries
We got to move these refrigerators
We got to move these color TV’s

The little faggot with the earring and the makeup
Yeah, buddy, that’s his own hair
That little faggot got his own jet airplane
That little faggot he’s a millionaire

{Refrain}

I shoulda learned to play the guitar
I shoulda learned to play them drums
Look at that mama, she got it stickin’ in the camera
Man we could have some
And he’s up there, what’s that, Hawaiian noises
Bangin’ on the bongos like a chimpanzee
Oh, that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Get your money for nothin’ get your chicks for free

{Refrain}

Now that ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
You play the guitar on that MTV
That ain’t workin’ that’s the way you do it
Money for nothin’ and your chicks for free Money for nothin’ and chicks for free  

I want my, I want my, I want my MTV

{Repeat, ad lib to fade}

Mark Knopfler, author of the lyrics making fun of working class homophobics.Now THOSE are lyrics. Couple these words with a really catchy tune and great rock guitar licks and, well, how could it get better? And how could the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council possibly buy into the stupidity of banning this song from the Canadian airwaves?
     It’s such an egregiously stupid ruling that one is forced to wonder, were there commercial motives behind the CBSC decision?  As the forensic auditors say, follow the money.  Who is benefiting here?  Not some poor offended gay Newfie idiot who lodged the complaint that prompted the ban, and that’s for sure.  Radio stations all across Canada have been playing the song, unedited and uncensored, non-stop for hours and days.
     Couldn’t happen to a better song.

     The decision has been called everything from “regrettable” to “tragic”.  The real tragedy is that the largest and most influencial Canadian gay rights group, Egale  Canada, has applauded the decision.  Stupid guys.  Stupid.  Can’t you recognize satire when you hear it?   That song came from OUR side of the cultural divide.  Don’t support our opposition by censoring our allies.

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The Passionate Life

Forgive me if I ramble a bit.  Having just immersed myself in Meera Nanda’s review of the Sam Harris book “The End of Faith“, my head is flooded with thoughts and ideas.  I’m impressed, not just with Merra Nanda’s analysis, but by her very precise way of pointing out the flaws in Harris’s argument.  For a rationalist to endorse mysticism, some way of “knowing” other than observation and verification by the rest of us mere mortals and non-mystics, seems to me to be a betrayal of the enlightenment.
     I believe that we ARE our brain.  It’s physical.  It works on strictly physical principles.  We don’t understand it all that well, and we get very confused by consciousness, but it seems to me very unlikely that there is anything else to our consciousness than brain activity. 
     That said, I once had a drug induced insight, an experience that felt very mystical,  that I think is valid.  But it is valid because of logic and reason, not because it showed me anything that others can’t see.  The insight went like this: There is a whole universe out there that is not me.  It’s vast, complicated, intricate, and very very interesting.  It existed long before I came into being as an egoic consciousness.  And if you remove my consciousness from the vastness of reality, you don’t take away enough to amount to anything at all.  The only reason I care is because of brain activity, emotions given to me by evolution so that I can survive in the frame of reference in which we exist.  My consciousness, my sense of “I”, my sense of self, is just brain activity.  If I can separate myself from my brain activity, and just look at my existence for what it is, a certain configuration of atoms and molecules and electrical impulses and information, I have no particular reason to care about anything. 
This way lies nihilism?  Or existentialism?  It’s an old idea:  “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” I’m not sure how Shakespeare intended us to interpret this line, but it seems so obvious to me.  Good or bad are both emotions.  Emotions come from the brain, nowhere else.  It may feel like emotions come from our heart, because our heart responds strongly to emotion, or to our soul, because it’s hard to believe that we are one with our body, but really it is all the brain.  Everything is the brain.
     I am not a nihilist.  But I believe that I am responsible for my emotions, and I don’t “need” to “care” about anything.  I could chose not to care.  It might be difficult, because I’d be fighting some pretty serious hard wiring in my brain, but it is possible.  I don’t do it, because I enjoy emotions, enjoy caring, sometimes even enjoy drama, and think that it is caring that makes my life worth living.  The thing is, we should be very careful what we care about.  The choice of what to care about has a huge influence on how happy or unhappy we make our lives, and make our world. 
     You probably know the cliches.  If I drop my favourite coffee mug, it’s broken.  Whether I care that it is broken or don’t care that it is broken doesn’t change the situation.  It’s broken.  Similarly, if a dear friend dies, I can chose to be emotionally destroyed by the loss, or I can chose to be okay that they have died.  In either case they are dead.
     I can almost hear you saying, “Wait.  This is going too far.”  You MUST care when a friend, or a friendship, dies.  And I agree.  I do care, and I care passionately.  I care about all kinds of things passionately.  Because that is the way to live a rich and full life.  But the point is, it’s my choice.  Even about my own impending death, it’s my choice.  There is no reason outside of me, and my brain, for caring about anything.  The universe exists, outside of me and outside of my desires.  Reality is not something I can understand.  The whole ball of wax is truly awesome, and it inspires me with awe.  I choose to care.
     I am living a passionate life.  But I’m very careful about what I’m passionate about.  If I were to decide to be passionate about whether somebody insulted my prophet, passionate to the point of being willing to kill that person, I’m pretty sure my world would be a more violent and ugly place.  I’d also have to waste a terrible amount of time bashing my head into a prayer mat.   If I decide to be passionate about kindness, tolerance, freedom of expression, rational inquiry, and reducing the suffering of the human condition, perhaps I might manage to make my world a better place. 
     I’m always amazed when people allow their passion to make their world ugly and nasty.  I’m surprised by haters.  Despite what you might think from my harsh language and insults, I don’t hate.  I truly feel sorry for those who poison their lives and their world with passion about the wrong things.
     I said in a recent post that I am not a racist, but I am a culturist.  There are cultures I don’t like and think the world would be a better place without.  Most of those cultures are “cultures of honour”.  They are the kind of culture in which a father can send an electric kettle full of dynamite to his daughter as a wedding present because she married somebody against his wishes.  Whatever passes for love that he feels for his daughter was trumped by his passion for whatever passes for honour in his brain.  A passion for justice is a fine thing, provided it is tempered by a stronger passion for compassion, and a recognition that justice is not the same as revenge. 

Rose petals for a killer.  A culture of honour, and passion about a very destructive belief.I think the culture that created Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of Salman Taseer, is an honour culture.  His killer and the supporters of  his killer feel that murder is the honourable thing to do in the face of blasphemy, or the condoning of blaspemy.  It’s a passionate belief.  It’s also destructive and makes their world ugly.  I’m passionately opposed to that kind of passion.

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Probabilities and Things We Don’t Like to Think About

The fact that you are reading this suggests that there is a probability of 100% that you and your consciousness exist right now.  But if time is linear, as we always think of it, then there is an infinity of time in the past and an infinity of time in the future, which would suggest that the probability of you being here right now is infinitely small.  I’m not sure how to reconcile these two ideas, other than to say that what is, this thing we call reality, seems to be infinitely improbable and a huge paradox.

Did I just prove that we don’t exist?  Obviously not, because we DO exist.  But… it’s a puzzle.  How can something that is infinitely improbable actually exist?  Infinity is a big number?  Maybe I’m doing the math wrong.  I never was any good at assessing statistical probabilities.  Any mathematicians out there who can help me with this?

One ejaculation contains enough sperm to fertilize all of the women on the planet, yet just one of those sperm united with your mother’s egg and became you.  Another example of the infinite improbability of your existence.  I’m not going all mystical and religious on you here, but these things are something to think about once in a while.  What an amazing miracle is our mere existence.
I don’t know about you, but I find it hard to think about biological reality.  One half of what I am, my genetic material, flowed down my fathers erect penis in the form of a motile sperm and gleefully, one assumes, buried its microscopic head in the egg that waited for it in my mother’s ovaries.  We’re now discovering that all those other sperm were not necessarily competitors.  It seems that some of them acted as line backers, blocking others while cheering on the champion.  Whatever.  That event was the beginning of what I call “me”.  A very similar event was the beginning of what you are happy to call “me” as well.  How very strange.  How repulsively icky.  No wonder children and fundamentalist Christians don’t want to hear about this.

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On the Other Side of the Knothole

I’m getting bored with the atheists versus believers discussion.  The lines are drawn.  The positions seem clear.  They are ignorant fools and we aren’t.  Enough already, at least until I’m further provoked.  At the top of this page, under the title, you can read: Opinion and Whimsy from an Outspoken Bisexual Atheist.  If that’s how I’m going to describe myself, I think maybe it’s time to be outspoken, to talk about it.  Bisexuality that is.   So what’s with this? 
     One gay friend told me he didn’t think there is such a thing as bisexual, or if there is he believes it’s very rare.  He seemed surprised when I told him I’m bisexual, that I feel pretty sure most people are to some degree.  Yet for me it’s not as Woody Allan commented, a way to double my chances of finding a date on Saturday night.   It’s just a recognition of who/what I am.

Bisexual symbolism.  It ain't happening, but it's fun to think about.     At the moment, and for what I hope is my entire future, I’m in a committed monogamous heterosexual relationship, so the bisexual part of my nature is enduring abstinence.  That’s not difficult to endure, since I decided years ago that my bisexuality works better in fantasy than it probably would if I went out of my way to make it a reality.  And since I’m not quite as old as one of my heroes, the recently out of the closet Amazing James Randi, but old enough to qualify as a troll if I went looking for male sex, and since male sex has not been offered to me lately, the bisexuality thing is only a condition and not a practice.  In truth, I’d like to be more actively bisexual, but I really don’t need the complications in my life, both with my current relationship and with the necessarily new one.  
     My bisexuality would be extremely limited in any event, because I have absolutely no desire to stick my dick in anybody’s asshole, or even to have my dick sucked by anybody but my current partner.  For me, bisexuality would have only one expression – sucking off a guy with very good personal hygiene whom I really like and trust.  Nobody like that is showing up on the radar, so sucking a cock ain’t happening.  But just as a person can be heterosexual yet abstinent, I can be bisexual yet abstinent.

     As the Yodelling Goat once said, “It’s like a wart on yer dick.  Nobody will know it’s there if you don’t tell them about it.”  So why talk about it, then?  If I’m not doing it, why broach such a delicate and personal subject in a public forum, even under cover of anonymity?   Why?  Because I find the subject interesting.  That’s why.  The subject is full of puzzles.  For example, what could I possibly get out of sucking a cock?  Why do men do that?  We presumably know why women do that – because their man likes it.  A lot.  But I’m not really sure if I care whether the owner of the cock  is even conscious.  It’s the cock that counts.   I’m like one of those gay dudes on the other side of the knothole, not a very flattering place to put myself.  Rather pathetic, really.  It’s not like I’m really looking for another realtionship.  Why?  What is it about an erect penis that makes it such an incredibly erotically charged object for me, and I assume for other bi or gay guys. 
     I know I’m not alone in this.  Most porn has the obligatory fellatio scene.  That’s the scene that most men I’ve talked to find most erotic.  But are they identifying with the man who’s being sucked off, or with the man or woman who is doing the sucking.  I don’t know.  I’m pretty sure that in my case it’s the sucker that is me.  Maybe for solidly heterosexual guys, it’s the suckee.  Anyway, that is one puzzle.  What is it that could possibly make an erect cock so charged with eroticism for a guy?
     Another, more dangerous, question - is a desire to suck dick common for guys who had no male sexual contact in their childhood?  This is something I have to wonder about because I don’t know.  I wonder sometimes whether it’s a matter of imprinting, the way a newly hatched chick will follow the first thing it sees moving.  I did have male sexual contact in my childhood, and I’m not sure that isn’t what wired my brain to find cocks erotic.  The consensus in the queer community seems to be that being gay or bi is not a choice, and not a result of being influenced by contact with gays.  I know that when I hit puberty the desire to know a woman in the biblical sense was not a choice.  Yet the one example of queer lit that I remember reading featured a sexually abusive uncle, in the childhood memories of the protagonist, as a person upon whom the child got some revenge by painfully trapping uncle’s tackle in the bathtub drain, however that might be possible, before growing up gay.  As an amateur social scientist, I’m curious.  If you are gay or bi, what’s your opinion?  There are good political reasons to support the claim that being gay or bi is NOT EVER a result of recruiting by pedophiles.  But I don’t want to get caught up in argumentum ad consequentiam on the subject.  I simply have no way of knowing whether being introduced to cock sucking as a child had an influence on my present proclivities.  Not that it matters.  I wouldn’t change anything.  But I would be very interested in hearing from the gay community about how many of you were introduced to gay sex as a child.  I know.  I know.  Thin ice here.  We don’t want to give the anti-gay people any ammunition,  or allow them a gay ratified justification for associating gay with child abuse.  But I still want to know the truth.  Let’s not be afraid considering the question.
     Then there’s the thing about sucking your own.  Don’t tell me you haven’t tried to do it.  But maybe you haven’t.  I have.  Can’t even get close.  I’ve had some fantastically realistic dreams in which it was no problem at all. but in the waking state, no joy.  I know a man who works as a prison guard.  He told me that the warden called him to the peep hole in a cell door once to see an inmate with his legs over his head giving himself a blow job. 
“Look at that, willya,”  said the Warden.  “Shit.  If I could do that I’d never leave the house.” 
     So here’s a question for all the straight guys who might be reading this:  If you could, would you?  And if you would, why not admit that you are as bi as I am?  After all, that would be a homosexual act, wouldn’t it?  Wouldn’t that make you a cock sucker?  Doesn’t just wanting to do it, and having tried to do it, make you a cock sucker?  I’ve always seen masturbation as a homosexual act, even if it only involves one homosexual.  So it amuses me that so many straight guys are so turned off by the thought of gay sex.  They’ve had it already, only with themselves.  Sex with somebody they love, as Woody Allen put it, but still with a man.

It’s very interesting to me that I’ve found this post quite hard to write.  In fact, I wrote it some weeks back and only now am getting around to posting it.  Even though I know with absolute certainty that revealing oneself holds no dangers, unless of course one is revealing oneself to some judgemental control freak who has power over one’s life, or to somebody with an irrational need to visit their loving god’s punishment on  people they see as deviant.  I started this site so that I’d have a place to put out my thoughts anonymously, and to solicit anonymous opinions from readers.  It’s a testament to the power of our taboos that I’m finding this difficult, even under cover of a pseudonym. 
     It’s also interesting to me that my favourite expletive, the words that spring to my lips when I’m really angry at somebody, are “you cocksucker”.  Hey.  I’m a cocksucker.  How did that get to be a pejorative?  Sucking a cock is a nice thing to do for somebody, presumably.  Every woman I’ve ever known, with the faintly possible exception of my sainted mother, a woman of her own amazingly repressive age, has been or is a cock sucker.  I LIKE cock suckers.  And I like sucking a cock.  But still there is this nagging thought while I write this – can I say this?  Out loud?  Really?  What if somebody finds out who I am?  I mean my real name.  (I’m pretty much revealing who I am as I write this. Just not giving away my identity.)  Well, if somebody finds out who I am I’m pretty damn sure I’m not alone.  This world is full of cock suckers.  If you are one of them, say hi.  You don’t need to use your real name.

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Nigger Nigger Nigger Nigger Nigger

Huck and Jim with discuss rewriting history and fucking with a classic.

If this is hard to read, click to see it full size.

I am not a racist.  I know.  I know.  Lots of people who say they aren’t racists actually are racists, but in denial or rationalizing or justifying.  Not me.  There’s not a racist bone in my body.  He’s welcome to marry my sister.  Some of my best friends are black.  You should see the colours of my neighbourhood.  I will admit to being a culturist.  There are some cultures on this earth I would happily see extinguished, starting with anybody who agrees with those fuckers in Iraq who killed the tennis coach and two young players for the “crime” of wearing shorts.  If it weren’t for the women and children collateral damage I’d say nuke ‘em ’till they glow and shoot ‘em in the dark.  There are lots of cultures I detest, but no people.  Not as individuals, unless they self-identify as belonging to one of those hateful groups. 
     I would never call a black man a nigger, unless we were on very intimate terms and the trust between us was so complete that he would know I meant it with great affection.  Even then, probably not.  Too loaded.  Too dangerous.  But it’s just a word after all.  If a character in fiction is a racist, it’s only accurate to have him use the word unsparingly.

When NewSouth Books brought out their new and improved edition of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”, with the 219 occasions where the word “nigger” was used replaced with the not quite equivalent word “slave”, they committed a crime.  Maybe it’s not an indictable offense anywhere in America, but it’s certainly a crime against literature, against art, against a great writer, and against a whole population of readers.  How could they do something so fuckin’ stupid? Publishers?!  Book editors?! (Where is my interobang key when I really need it?)  These are people who should be ready to die in defense of a classic novel, not the people we would expect to be the enemy of literature.  There should be crowds of bibliophiles gathering outside their offices as I write this, waving picket signs replete with impolite words, ready to raze the place and stone the management.
     My first reaction to this news was to marvel at the amazing, and apparently growing, stupidity of Americans.  But the comments under the New York Times opinion piece on this travesty  changed my mind.  I’m prevented from saying that America is looking dumber than ever by the intelligence of these comments.  Most people think it’s a very bad thing for this publishing company to do.  Many are very articulate. 

Check out  this one for example.  David Potomac, MD  January 6th, 2011 8:05 pm wrote: 
“Does anyone recognize the central irony that the “nigger Jim” was the only trustworthy, honorable or admirable adult in the book? This fact set in stark contrast to the way he was treated, including his epithet, was searing, uncomfortable and heart rending.”

Right on, David.  Mark Twain was anything but a racist.  He wrote some of the most biting and scathing criticism of racist behavior in American literature. 

Of course there had to be one exception among the comments.  Reacting to the last line in the op-ed piece: “What’s next? Substituting orange for red in a painter’s work because some observers find red too aggressive? ” somebody identifying him/herself as C. P. Millsboro, Delaware  wrote:
“It is a quantum leap from comparing colors of the rainbow to slurs of people. Who really cares if a fruit is red or orange? But if your child comes home crying because she was called a nigger in school, I think you will care, and your next day’s voyage to that school will be filled with anger because the pain your child received.”

Leaving aside the question of whether the colours in a painting actually matter to artists and art lovers, and recognizing that this was a rather thin analogy on the part of  Jill Nelson, the op-ed author; as many educators know, parents often go brain dead if anything harms or threatens their child.  C.P. is really missing a few bricks from his/her load here.  Reading a word in a book is not the same as being called that word by another child, nor is it permission for a child to call another that word.  It’s a word in a book.  Altering a book that has an iconic position in our culture to sooth contemporary political correctness is just wrong.  If C.P.’s child comes home crying after being called a nigger, it time to take that up with the head master.  Not with the fucking book, or with history.  I mean, sheesh.

I was reading Woopi Goldberg’s new book, “Is it Just Me? Or is it nuts out there?” this morning.  Light reading.  Sensible but not deep, and not as funny as I’d hoped.  No matter.  I love Woopi.  Have loved her ever since I heard her “Crippled Lady” routine on the radio, had no idea who the performer was, and had to pull off the highway to listen.  So brilliant.  Woopi writes about words in her book.  She’s taken a lot of flack for using fuck and shit constantly.  But she explains why she won’t give them up – they are meaningless.  They have no power anymore.  The words she objects to are words like “stupid” and “dumb”.  Right on, Woopi.  Those are the words that matter, the words that undercut confidence, belittle and humiliate.  The words that are a kick in the nuts.  And those words are not banned or restricted.  Politicians call each other stupid all the time.  In contrast, those banned words that are simply, irrationally, taboo don’t matter at all.  “Fuck” has no meaning when used as an expletive.  Neither does “shit”.  This applies big time to the word “nigger”.  What does it mean that is so bad.  At the worst it means “I hate you.”  It doesn’t say anything about the recipient, only about the sender.   It ain’t pretty, but it’s not as bad as saying something like “You’re stupid.”   Now those words are really hateful.  Those words should be banned.  But let’s not take them out of our classic novels.

Addendum:  My partner just proo fread this post, and disagrees with my last point.  As usual, she’s right.  “Nigger” is far more directed than “fuck” or “shit”,  more on a par with “bitch” or “cunt”.  Nigger has a lot more baggage and associations that imply things like inferior, stupid, lazy, or servile.  She does agree that it shouldn’t be taken out of the book.  And also that “stupid” is worse than “fuck”.

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The Death Penalty for Blasphemy?

Mumtaz Qadri, the killer of Salman Taseer, was greeted by lawyers who showered him with rose petals as he was taken into court.  (Maybe they were hoping to get hired to defend him?) Others in the crowd slapped his back or kissed his cheek.  (You think maybe they’re just gay? He is a big Teddy bear of a young dude.) He’s a hero.  Unrepentant.  Happy to be a trigger man for his prophet.  This 26 year old true believer who gunned down the unarmed man he’d been hired to protect is proud of himself.  He was judge, jury, and executioner because Salman Taseer had committed the unpardonable “crime” of…. well, not actually insulting the prophet himself but of condoning the blasphemy committed by a Christian woman, Asia Bibi, who was sentenced to death for blasphemy late last year.  Taseer thought that the death penalty might be a bit too harsh a punishment, and for that crime he was murdered by a man who thought that the death penalty was the perfect punishment for anybody who opposes the death penalty for blasphemy.  Ouch.

SalmanTaseer, executed for the crime of opposing the death penalty for blasphemy.Okay.  I can buy that not all Muslims are fundamentalist fanatics ready to murder a man for just suggesting that a blasphemer shouldn’t be killed.  I can buy the idea that there are moderates, and that those moderates condemn this kind of thing.  I know there were protests of the murder and a lot of grief in the Punjab.  But the fact that there was a single person in that courtroom expressing support for this murderer, expressing approval, giving him an ego boost, not just a single person but several very outspoken people,  this freaks me out.  In any country with an ounce of sanity to the collective population, you would think such a thing is unthinkable.  You would think the more evolved spectators would be so outraged that they’d beat those approving cretins to a pulp.  But no.  It’s mainstream in their culture.  Both the mainstream religions announced that the murder was perfectly justified.  What could we possibly do to help people like these?  What could possibly redeem them?
     I detest the rhetoric and bullshit that polarizes people, particularly based on silly religious nonsense.  But this kind of act is polarizing in the extreme.  Even I feel polarized.  How can we not be, when there is such a gap between our values and theirs. 

In a British Columbia, Canada, prison there sits a man named Clifford Robert Olson, Jr. in solitary protective custody.  Mr. Olson has reliably informed the world, being in that very select group of investigators who have performed this experiment,  that a nine year old boy can still be crying for his mother after Mr. Olson has nailed his head to a picnic table with a twelve inch spike and is fucking him in the ass.  For this crime, and the equally pointless and brutal murders of at least ten more young boys and girls, Mr. Olson will never be executed.  That’s because Canada doesn’t feel that ANYBODY or any actions warrants capital punishment.  I applaud the Canadian people for this.  Canada is a civilized country.   But what does a serial killer of young boys and girls in Canada have in common with the smug Mr. Mumtaz Qadri in the Punjab, or with Salman Taseer?  Nothing at all.  But isn’t it remarkable the range of value systems in this world.  Mr. Olson has not been executed though most people would see his crimes as… serious.  Mr. Taseer was executed, albeit extra-legally, for a crime most people would not even consider a crime.  How strange a world we live in.  What breadth and range of sensibilities.  How can we possibly help Pakistan if they let this kind of shit happen in public?
     It felt futile and pointless to even comment on this news.  After all, what can I say that compassionate, thinking people won’t already be saying and posting.  I do hate to be pointless.  But to not comment means I’m silent, and that’s just not me either.  So here’s the point:  To anybody who says that Internet anonymity is a bad thing, point out this news item and describe this event.  There are people out there who would be happy to kill me, or you, not even for saying stuff they don’t like but simply for saying that somebody else shouldn’t be killed for saying stuff they don’t like.  Is that enough point for you?  Basta.  Enough.

Oh yes, one more thing.  Fuck Muhammad.

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Dancing the Chicken

A dead chicken is a good dancer in the right hands.A number of titles for this post ran through my mind – Revulsion,  Why I Love my Partner,  The Gag Reflex.  But Dancing the Chicken leapt out at me as a great catchy phrase.  “My husband has never danced a chicken,” she said,with mock astonishment while miming dancing the corpse of an invisible chicken over the table.  We were talking about revulsion, a subject motivated by her reaction to the picture on my last post, the censored image from goates.cx, which even in a partially covered form had the power to revolt.  And this is one more reason why I love her so much. 
     Some things are just plain revolting.Most women I have known take revulsion as a fact of life, a message from God that must be obeyed, a clear indication that something is disgusting and needs no further investigation.  My partner, by contrast, felt the sensation of revulsion, the visceral shock, and it only made her curious.  Where is that feeling coming from?  Why do I feel a revulsion when I look at a part of the human body which every person on earth possesses.  My partner is an aware human being, a thinker.  How wonderful to find such a woman on this planet.

I read once about a Victorian Englishman who was left impotent for several years by the discovery that his bride had pubic hair.  Pubic hair was not what he expected, and it revolted him.  I’m always mystified by the fact that hair on the head is beautiful and desirable, but in the nose or ears it is gross.  Yogurt drizzled on a desert is appetizing, but cum is disgusting.  A shrimp makes us drool with anticipation, but a cicada or locust  is revolting.  Why?  One of the obvious answers is that body fluid is a disease vector, and we have evolved a revulsion reflex to cause us to avoid phlegm, snot, shit, puss, saliva, cum, blood, tears, and any other organic fluid that might cause us to contract a disease.  By association, anything that looks like any of these things can trigger the revulsion reflex, the gag reflex.   But it goes beyond that.  I remember sitting in my first German class at university, and feeling my gorge rise at the sight of my female professor’s unshaven armpits.  For Europeans, leaving the armpits au naturelle was not unusual.  But for a boy of my culture, back then, it was very strange indeed.  So, part of what causes revulsion is a lack of familiarity.  We are revolted by the strange, the out of the ordinary. If something does not meet our expectations, it triggers the gag reflex.  Again this is explained by evolution theory.  It’s probably a good idea to be revolted by anything strange, since it indicates a creature not of our tribe and hence potentially dangerous.
     Neither my partner nor I are attracted to revulsion.  We’re not fascinated by the sensation.  We don’t need to explore the feeling or try to trigger it on purpose.  We have no interest in scat, or golden showers, or coprophagia, coprophilia, necrophilia, beastiality, or even messy sweaty sex.  We’re pretty white bread, as a couple.  But we are both interested in reality, and don’t see why we should have a visceral reaction of repulsion to something that is simply part of our everyday reality.   It’s so great to have a partner who thinks about these things, rather than simply being revolted.

I am revolted by cruelty.  I’m revolted by the idea of a man fucking a living chicken.  Once the chicken is dead, it’s a dead issue.  I couldn’t care less.  This all ties into the whole issue of sexuality.  If you believe, as the Christians claim to believe, that the body is just a place to house the spirit, then it is the spirit that counts.  How could anybody be revolted by ANY activity which gives two or more people pleasure, no matter what body their spirit happens to occupy.  I don’t get it.

Of course, I don’t believe we have a spirit, a soul that is separate from our bodies.  I think we are our brain.  To think that there is something outside our brain, separate from our brain, that is the “real me”, just seem delusional.  So what is revulsion all about.  It’s a reaction in our brain either to something we are evolutionarily inclined to avoid, or to something we  have been conditioned to avoid.  It’s just another emotion, not necessarily justified or valid in an objective universe.

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As Long as You’re Nice About It?

I’m hearing a rising uproar about the Internet and the damage that it does because people can create “shame free zones” and say anything they want, even things that are abusive and untrue and dangerous.  This kind of thing simply can’t be allowed!!!  For some anonymous schmuck to be able to say that Sally Puckerfaster has herpes and they want to sodomize her, well that just causes poor Sally a lot of pain and there’s no way for her to fight back.  So two solutions are being proposed, both of which will destroy most of what I love about the Internet, blanding it down to the level of Reader’s Digest.  One obvious solution is censorship.  Just make sure that the people who provide the servers don’t allow us to say anything nasty.  Hold the servers responsible, and sue their asses if they put goates.cx on line.  The other solution is: Take away anonymity.  Make sure that Sally can find out who said those nasty things, so she can take them to court herself, or if she is more fundamental in her orientation she can go and firebomb their house, or try to kill them with an axe in front of their grand daughter.
          The Internet was born into controversy about the dangers of pedophile predators stalking children, identity theft, pornography, vile and antisocial sentiments, terrorism.  At times this verged on hysteria.  And it’s true, it’s all there.  That’s what I love about the Internet.  I don’t normally look at porn, unless something makes me curious.  Mostly porn is boring and stupid.  I did go and look up the goates.cx image the other day, after it was mentioned in “Questionable Content“, a web comic I follow.  The image was shocking, but not if you look at it with the eyes of a medical professional.  Then it’s just a guy’s rectum.  A rather stretched rectum to be sure, but nothing that isn’t a part of every single person reading this, with the possible exception of colostomy recipients.

It's only an asshole, folks.  Stop denying that you have one.Now, if somebody wants to put up a picture of their rectum on a site, just for shock value, I really don’t see the problem.  We should all have the right to shock people.  If you can’t look at an asshole without a visceral reaction and clutching your Bible to your heart, you are one sick puppy.  It’s only an asshole.  You’ve got one too, though you may be in denial about that.  Keep this kind of thing off the Internet and you also keep off the critical information about hemorrhoids and breast cancer.    There is simply no way to get rid of the objectionable material on the Internet.  Not without getting rid of the valuable material as well.

 It’s not surprising that we are hearing this outcry for propriety now.  The rising clamour is following on the heels of the Wikileaks situation.  The establishment is threatened.  They are unhappy.  They are trying to pass laws that prevent us from communicating with each other, like their new so-called Shield bill, which was recently introduced in both houses of Congress in response to the WikiLeaks disclosures.  It would amend the Espionage Act of 1917 , an abomination in it’s own time that was put to terribly repressive uses, including the jailing of a presidential candidate for making a speech against conscription.  The abuses that act brought with it are now all but forgotten and the act itself lay neglected for decades, like a sleeping snake in the American legal system.  It was remembered only recently and dusted off to deal with terrorists and whistle blowers.  The new, improved, act will make it a crime for any person knowingly and willfully to disseminate, “in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States,” any classified information “concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States.”  Talk about vague language.  Talk about discretionary legislation just begging for abuse!
          We have freedom of speech as long as we don’t say anything offensive.  Start making noises that threaten the establishment, or the sensibilities of your sweet old Aunt Martha, and the forces of repression gear up to shut us down.  Actually, pornography and offensive material is just an excuse, as usual.  The real target is political information and political dissent.  When proponents of Internet accountability point to cyber bullying as a justification for eliminating anonymity, that’s just an excuse.   An informed and active public is not what Corporate America wants.  They want passive consumers who pay attention the the circus, the sports and movies and music videos, and let the elites do whatever they feel like doing.  Sit back.  Have a beer.  Shut the fuck up. 
      The real reason we must value and allow anonymity, as I stated in my last post, is not so that I can hide while being an asshole.  It’s so the asshole who wants to kill me for not thinking as he does can’t find me.  Unfortunately, you have to let some people act like assholes to protect me from the assholes.  It’s why I love the ACLU.  And why the Southern Baptists generally hate them.  They stick up for freedom of speech, even if they don’t like the content.  I’m pretty sure they will also stick up for my right to anonymity on the Internet.  I think I’ll send them a donation right now.
     Fortunately the Internet treats censorship as damage, and simply mirrors the material someplace else or routes around the blockage.  It’s a slippery beast to get under control, which doesn’t mean the prudes and control freaks aren’t going to give it their best shot.  Be vigilant.  Remember, if we want  Jesus & Mo we have to put up with a Terry Jones and goates.cx, preferably on the same website.   Net neutrality is not a fake issue.  It’s real, and it’s important.

     Here’s what we say to to those who want to control and shut down freedom of speech on the Internet.  That’s not the answer, and not necessary.  What is needed is a self imposed rating system.  Sites should warn visitors if they contain material that might offend.  The servers should be required to put up a warning at the entrance to any site that is offensive, and give a hint as to the nature of the offensive material.  Just a warning.  All it should take is a click through to get past it.  This should work just like the movie rating system, except we don’t need a government board to establish the ratings.  The entrance to this site has a warning.  I wasn’t forced to put it up.  But I really don’t want Aunt Martha to wander in here without knowing what she is going to see.  Search engines like Google should not bypass the warning page, as they will right now when they go straight to the posts.  That solves the problem of offensive material.  Untrue, painful, damaging material …. well you just need to suck it up, Sally.  Nobody takes anything on an anonymous blog posting seriously.  That’s jut a troll, or an asshole.

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