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Echoes and Mirrors » 2009 » October

Archive for October, 2009

oh the timing!

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

I regained access to my DreamHost account, which amazingly still has a year of hosting left on it and a free domain name registration available. I will be moving this blog to a slightly fancier URL (but still within the blogger network and this URL will forward, I guess). It also means, provided that I can scrape up a few bucks, I’ll have a couple of my other sites back (without access to dreamhost, I couldn’t renew the registration, sad times). Some ass-clown has stolen hobsonschoicezine.com and is selling… some crap on it. I’ll have to get creative.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect, though: Geocities is dead. I do believe I had a site there over a decade ago (probably 95/96) and knowing that whatever it was (my vague memory is not pleasant) is gone now, permanantly, pleases me. Even though it was under some wonky pseudonyme.

The rest of my internet shennanigans can still be found quite readily with google. More to come, with luck. Just need some of that highly sought-after free time. (Mid-December after finals?)

The video card on my desktop finally kicked the bucket and I can’t access any of my crap that wasn’t on my thumbdrive.

My blogging has been light lately due to rising amounts of work and school. Things should return to normal at some point.


Fury Road!

Monday, October 26th, 2009
I just stumbled upon this article about the new Mad Max flick. Sam Worthington seems like a good choice, but I am not entirely convinced. Max wasn’t a badass because he was necessarily physically endowed – it was because he was smart and took risks (although he was fit enough to pull off whatever he started). The inclusion of Charlize Theron? The only reason for this is to add a romantic sub-plot; it should be noted that none of the other Mad Max movies had one.

Also, the name is kinda hokey.


Glenn Beck rumours?

Wednesday, October 21st, 2009

This Fark.com thread is making me all sorts of stupid happy right now. The arguments about memeology (is that correct?) are funny, but the whole Glenn Beck “controversy” is pure gold.

Father_Jack 2009-10-21 02:29:18 PM
So you are saying its ok to take out an add in your hometown Newspaper saying you raped and murdered a girl in the 90s?

no, because that is slander.

but to ask an open-ended question, “DID FATHER_JACK RAPE AND MURDER A GIRL IN THE 90s?” is protected by free speech, evidently.

there’s a great daily show entry called “punctuation punditry” that calls out the whole “open ended question” sleazy yet legal way to slander. Fox News pioneered it, and now its being used by these guys against their boy.

Having to explain it sucks, but apparently some people just don’t get it.

Ctrl-Alt-Del 2009-10-21 02:45:33 PM
I Like Bread: Wait, I thought it was “murdered and raped”. But then, I guess there’d be no rape since dead girls can’t say ‘no’. Either way, it’s horrible what he did.

You mean it’s horrible what he is rumored to have done. There is currently no convincing evidence that Glenn beck raped and murdered a girl in 1990

However, his continuing refusal to even issue a simple denial of these absolutely horrific allegations does lead one to wonder, doesn’t it?

And the fact that Glenn Beck is now trying to circumvent the US justice system and use a foriegn regulatory body to quietly shut down the website that is investigating these allegations, makes it look even worse.

Glenn Beck, why won’t you just come out and simply deny these rumors? Then this whole sorry mess would just disappear. What possible reason could Glenn Beck have to NOT deny this?

A purely evil tactic. One I’ve successfully employed on a number of occasions – for bad and good, mind you -and wholly encourage the use of it.

Why is it funny though?

tuxedobob 2009-10-21 02:55:00 PM
pd771: daychilde: Also, “by using his tactics”, you acknowledge that those are his tactics. What the hell is a parody, except a satirical reportrayal of someone?

My argument is that the spite in the creation along without any wit makes not fall under the category of parody. I think John Stewart understood this, and that’s the reason he was so against it. Maybe if were in any way creative or funny I’d understand, but I know I’m not going to change any minds on this, so have at this stupidity.

I don’t know, I think it’s pretty funny to see him at the other end of his own modus operandi.

Because this is just too hilarious. Yes it is funny. Turnabout is fair play.

I personally disapprove of Glenn Beck’s socially conservative stance and fear-mongering, much the same way I disapprove of Olberman, Malkin or any other number of political pundits. But the key to their success is that they serve as a sort of Cliff’s Notes for politics to many Americans. Granted, many people need someone to boil it down and summarize the political climate into something quickly digestible. The problem is that the people doing it are ideologically polemic.

The question of whether or not Glenn Beck raped and murdered a girl in 1990 is interesting because it links the idea of the crime with the name and puts the burden of proof on Glenn Beck. This is the same reason our courts are designed to adhere to innocent until proven guilty. The panopticon does not operate in this manner. There are moral and ethical implications, but those have zero impact on the effectiveness of this tactic. Machiavelli would be proud.


Darwin called, he wants his royalties

Monday, October 19th, 2009

Anthropologist: Modern Man is Inferior to Ancestors

“If you’re reading this then you — or the male you have bought it for — are the worst man in history,” McAllister writes in the opening sentence of the prologue. “No ifs, no buts — the worst man, period. … As a class we are in fact the sorriest cohort of masculine Homo sapiens to ever walk the planet.”

Delving into a wide range of source material McAllister finds evidence he believes proves that modern man is inferior to his predecessors in, among other fields, the basic Olympic athletics disciplines of running and jumping.

Anthropologist: meet natural selection. Adaptation does not necessarily moving towards perfection. It means adapting to what is best given the current conditions.

“We are so inactive these days and have been since the Industrial Revolution really kicked into gear,” McAllister replied. “These people were much more robust than we were. We don’t see that because we convert to what things were like about 30 years ago. There’s been such a stark improvement in times, technique has improved out of sight, times and heights have all improved vastly since then but if you go back further it’s a different story.
“We are simply not exposed to the same loads or challenges that people were in the ancient past and even in the recent past so our bodies haven’t developed. Even the level of training that we do, our elite athletes, doesn’t come close to replicating that. We wouldn’t want to go back to the brutality of those days but there are some things we would do well to profit from.”

No shit.


All to stop syphilis

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

My experience with a prostitute – a feminist perspective

I was on vacation in Atlantic City – a two-week break from my year-long deployment in Iraq. At about 3 a.m., I ran into and eventually had drinks with a woman who I eventually brought up to my room, thinking this was going to be a mere casual hook-up, things that people do on vacation and in bars. Come to find out, before I initiated sex, and we were flirting, she told me that she is an escort and spends time with men for money. In short, it was the beginning of a business for pleasure transaction.

Though my mind was fogged with alcohol, red flags went up – firstly because I’d felt horrible that I’d taken an hour of this woman’s time already, just talking to her, with the full intentions of having sex had she not been a sex worker. Secondly, I had never been in a situation like this before, and didn’t know exactly what to do to tell her I had to intentions of buying her body for my own pleasure.

Having already wasted an hour of her time, with her assuming I knew she was an escort (a term she says she prefers), I made a deal: while I was most certainly sexually attracted to her, my values wouldn’t allow me to actually pay to have sex with her. I would, however, pay for her time to listen to her story and learn something from a group of people I’ve spent to much learning about, yet never had never actually sat down and spoken with.

So there we sat, in my hotel room, and over Jack Daniels, talked about her life, choices and perspectives. She is new to the escort industry, she said – and became an escort after much careful consideration – mostly for the stigma that comes with sex work, but also consideration for the dangers she faced, and the way society and the government look upon her.

I don’t even know where to start, but I’ll lay a few things out to get the ball rolling:

  1. Being a war vet does not make you manly. This guy proves it.
  2. Sex workers of the sort he met do it because they choose to. Exploitation was not part of the equation.
  3. His vagina still had sand in it from his deployment.
  4. Prostitution is amoral. Get off your fucking high horse.

There is nothing wrong with respecting a whore for her work -she puts in the time and effort to produce a satisfactory product. There is also nothing wrong with acknowledging a whore as a person because they are people. Big whoop. There is something wrong with patronizing them and being condescending.

If he doesn’t find hiring a prostitute kosher, he should have just said, “oh, well, not interested,” and went back out to find a normal girl. Instead, he sat with her, blue balls crammed up in his pantyhose, and talked.

Of course, if you really believe it is immoral and should be outlawed and that women who choose to go into the profession are secretly coerced, then you probably respect the guy. I think he’s lacking in testosterone.

(Anti-prostitution laws were passed as health-care measures, at least superficially. The real reason was ugly women who wanted to put an embargo on imports. If you get my drift. And my drift means intercourse. For money. Penis. Vagina. Cash.)



Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Bright Sided:

Who would be churlish or disaffected enough to challenge these happy features of the American personality? Take the business of positive “affect,” which refers to the mood we display to others through our smiles, our greetings, our professions of confidence and optimism. Scientists have found that the mere act of smiling can generate positive feelings within us, at least if the smile is not forced. In addition, good feelings, as expressed through our words and smiles, seem to be contagious: “Smile and the world smiles with you.” Surely the world would be a better, happier place if we all greeted one another warmly and stopped to coax smiles from babies — if only through the well-known social psychological mechanism of “mood contagion.” Recent studies show that happy feelings flit easily through social networks, so that one person’s good fortune can brighten the day even for only distantly connected others.

Furthermore, psychologists today agree that positive feelings like gratitude, contentment, and self-confidence can actually lengthen our lives and improve our health. Some of these claims are exaggerated, as we shall see, though positive feelings hardly need to be justified, like exercise or vitamin supplements, as part of a healthy lifestyle. People who report having positive feelings are more likely to participate in a rich social life, and vice versa, and social connectedness turns out to be an important defense against depression, which is a known risk factor for many physical illnesses. At the risk of redundancy or even tautology, we can say that on many levels, individual and social, it is good to be “positive,” certainly better than being withdrawn, aggrieved, or chronically sad.

Oh, I think this is just another step in this direction:

The same, it turns out, is true of daily affirmations. A recent study published in Psychological Science finds that for people with low self esteem saying positive self-affirmations actually lowered their self-esteem. For people with high self-esteem at baseline, affirmations has only a slightly positive effect. Seem counter-intuitive at first, but researchers Wood, Lee, and Perunovic believe that for people with low self-esteem the self-affirmation just makes them consider how untrue the contrived statement is, lowering their self-esteem.

Being positive and being determined are two completely different things. Optimism can lead to massive disappointment (not that it necessarily will, but it can). Being determined to succeed is far more realistic, because you still understand the chance of failure, accept it and can make contingency plans.

The concise thesis of the whole shebang:

With the mythbusting powers for which she is acclaimed, Ehrenreich exposes the downside of America’s penchant for positive thinking: On a personal level, it leads to self-blame and a morbid preoccupation with stamping out negative thoughts. On a national level, it’s brought us an era of irrational optimism resulting in disaster. This is Ehrenreich at her provocative best — poking holes in conventional wisdom and faux science, and ending with a call for existential clarity and courage.

Instead of always assuming everything will be fantastic, be realistic about it and try your damnedest to succeed. Failing that, cut bait. I’ve pretty much always felt this way, though and find it somewhat alarming that most people don’t. Then again, as an atheist, I don’t have the big guy upstairs looking out for my best interests either. I take the good with the bad and am reasonably sure than I can succeed if I try, but I always leave myself an out (poker skills are useful in real life, you know).


The forest through the trees?

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

Weed Culture is Boob Culture:

Why aren’t there more female marijuana activists, Marijuana Policy Project employee Laura Greenback asks in High Times. Ooh! Pick me! I know the answer!

It’s not that women don’t like smoking weed. We do. And it’s not that we don’t care about the ass-backwards war on drugs—despite Greenback’s fears, half of the MPP’s top staff are women. It’s not that there are too few pop-culture stoner females, as Double X suggests—though we’re getting warmer!

All culture is boob culture. Because women like to exert control through their sex organs. And most men will bow to their wishes, hence sex sells.


Movie Violence

Saturday, October 17th, 2009

While I’m a huge fan of so-called art-house films I am also a fan of big fuck-off blowing-shit-up action flicks, too. Sure, Con-Air was bad but 300 was good. These movies don’t require cleverness or depth or require a huge amount of artistic merit. They exist solely to feed the desire to see shit get fucked up. Because we can really only do it vicariously. Very few of us have ever had the chance to blow something up or shoot at people or get into awesome fights.

Overcoming Bias had posted something about movie violence the other day:

One reason that real violence looks so ugly is because we have been exposed to so much mythical violence. … Contemporary film style … may give many people the sense that entertainment violence is, if anything, too realistic. Nothing could be farther from the truth. … [They] miss the most important dynamics of violence: that it starts from confrontational tension and fear, that most of the time it is bluster, and that the circumstances that allow this tension to be over­ come lead to violence that is more ugly than entertaining. …

From the first chapter of Violence by Randall Collins.

I have previously made a note about violence in movies, specifically about Straw Dogs before and quoted this gem:

A more astute observer would say “Violence never solved anything such that both conflicting parties were equally satisfied with the outcome”. Violence creates two entities: A winner, and a loser. Losers don’t like to engage in violence because it will make their plight both obvious and inescapable. Winners may avoid violence if there are less expensive ways to win, ie trade or psychological manipulation.

But there isn’t a whole lot of room for moral pondering in movies like this. You can do it, but it detracts from the entertainment value. I’ll take the eye-candy for what it is: eye candy. Some things just don’t need to be analyzed to death.



Friday, October 16th, 2009

Oh, my. Michael Moore admits that Capitalism is good, and that Corporatism is bad. I’m a big fan of small businesses and try to shop at them as often as I possibly can. Unfortunately, what I purchase is often not produced by small businesses – I just can’t afford to.



Friday, October 16th, 2009

I’m getting ready for a heavy-duty weekend of studying. The next several days worth of posts have been scheduled (actually, most of them are anyway as I don’t have time to do it every day of the week).

The tidbits: