An interesting article could be written that summarizes the history of Viagra spam. Not specifically that product, but just the general onslaught of “pills to make your dick work better/bigger” spam emails. I have every sort of email spam filter in place, but still get fairly regular junk mails, mostly sent via my various Flux@incgamers/diii.net/diabloii.net old emails. Which aren’t linked anywhere recently, but which live on as contact emails on articles that are now 6 and 8 and 10 years old.
And which, thanks to Google caching and such, will never die.
Anyway, years ago the emails were straight up. “Buy Cialis here!” type titles. No idea if the links were legit ways to obtain such drugs, and in fact I think not, since such pills were prescription-only? So maybe the spam was offering a way to get prescription drugs without a doctor? Which is illegal, AFAIK.
Anyway, people soon got tired of such spam and all of the actual drug names got added to spam filters, which ushered in the grand era of “vi4gra” and other such atrocities upon the English language. (I blogged on such in 2007.) When I saw such emails or the like in spam comments I was always reminded of those studies that show people are able to comprehend borderline gibberish, so long as the initial letters are correct.
I suppose spam filters caught up with those as well, since the ones I’m getting lately are in proper English and don’t mention any drugs at all. Screenshot from my junk folder this morning, with duplicate titles deleted.
The titles are 90% of the emails; if you open one the body is just a short line of semi-nonsense text with a link. Quote:
http://tascq.dreamhosters.com/lake.html No amorous malfunctoon risk
I haven’t clicked the link and I wouldn’t recommend that you do so either. I assume it’s just malware, and probably has nothing to do with actually trying to sell anyone $50 bottles of M&Ms that are labeled “penis enlargement pills” or whatever.
Recursive digression #1: It’s weird how online scams mutate; in the early days scams were about well… scamming. Selling people fake bullshit, like penis enlargement pills. The scams then became more meta, with the Nigerian 419s at the forefront. I still get amusing emails of that nature, always themed to the world news. Whatever third-world hellhole is currently descending into chaos, barbarian, anarchy, and cannibalism gets inserted into the standard “I have $10m USD in a bank I can not access from my country and will give you 25% if you will cover some of the upfront fees.” So I see emails from Gaddafi’s wife or son, the widow of a general or prime minister from Liberia/Syria, Hugo Chavez’s mistress, Kim Jong-il’s finance minister, etc.
Such scams still exist, but quite a few these days aren’t actually selling anything, or even directly targeting the recipient. They’re purely inducements to get computer noobs to infect their machines with malware, in order to facilitate Google-bombing or to add the machine to the zombie ranks for DDoS attacks or other online mischief. Many of which are more profitable, more successful, and far less effort/risk than actually scamming some individual person.
It’s weirdly recursive. The scammers appear to be selling a fake product (usually related to penile function) to draw in the marks, but they aren’t actually selling anything. Or if they are that’s not the main point, which is to contaminate your computer with malware. Basically, clicking such a link is akin to three-card monte against someone who picks your pocket and gives you herpes at the same time.
Recursive digression #2: Women love to flirt and joke about sex and tease… when it’s safe. Ideally (for the women) they do it with their boyfriend/husband. That sort of banter engages the mind in a sexual theme (or flows forth once the mind is horny), and women love that sort of thing. It’s why women don’t get so much out of porn; since they don’t have the direct visual “I see something sexy and get horny” reaction that men do. Women get horny from their brains, which then activates the body. That works on men also, but men also work backwards, where visual can instantly arouse the body, which leads the mind along.
The willingness to engage in such banter, teasing, joking, flirting, etc, is another big diff between the genders. Women are much less willing to do so, since they need to be in the mood, and to feel safe when they’re doing it. So sure, sometimes women get drunk at a party and start sassing and being sexy, but not as often as men do. And they’re very unlikely to do that on say, a first date. They enjoy the banter and teasing, but they have to be careful since men take them seriously and read too much into the joking.
And men take them seriously because women seldom joke or flirt like that unless they’re really interested.
Because women don’t often joke around like that since they know guys will take them seriously, rather than being content to just joke back and see where the conversation leads.
Because men really want it to be true, and because it usually is true, since women seldom flirt and joke about sex unless they’re actually interested.
Because they know men will take it seriously and go right past flirting and joking into like, trying to kiss them.
Because women don’t often joke about sex unless they’re flirting and they don’t often do that unless they actually are into the guy, because they know men take it seriously.
Which is a shame, since banter and witty conversation is supremely fun and mentally-engaging, and it’s a great way to lead to knowing each other better and finding mutual attraction. I also enjoy it since women have very interesting thoughts and observations on the topic, which are often surprising since they come from a very different perspective and angle than those of men. But they hardly ever show them off early on, such as on a first date, for the recursive reasoning I detailed above. Which leads to another recursion I’ve noticed on a number of my first dates in the Portland area over the past year.
- I’ve gone out with a lot of women who were really boring and plain (personality-wise) on first date.
- But in many cases (I suspect) they were only that way since it was a first date and they felt they had to remain reserved and cautious, since they didn’t know me, or know if they could joke and be themselves.
- Which led me to not want to date them again, since they seemed boring and lacking in personality.
- But they were only that way since it was the first date.
- But there was never a second date because they were boring in the first date.
Thus does cat ownership multiply.
Amazing series of videos by a Clayton Cubit, a New York filmmaker. There are seven so far, all classy black and white videos of a fully-dressed (at least above the table) woman reading from a work of literature, while someone unseen uses a vibrator to bring them to orgasm.
Watch any of the videos for a better explanation, but basically the women are being stimulated to orgasm in an entirely asexual atmosphere. They’re dressed and reading aloud from various fine books. Not erotica, not porn, not even sexual content in the books, and they’re not “reading it sexy” or anything. Which is what makes the videos interesting to me; the odd dichotomy of the visuals and the reaction.
Hysterical Literature: Session Seven: Amanda
Hysterical Literature: Session Five: Teresa
One of the things I find most annoying and stupid in porn is how relentlessly and obviously fake most of the female reactions are. It’s worst in Japanese porn, where the actresses often spend the entire video panting in a sort of squeaky, cat-is-coming kind of, “eh, eh, eh, eh, eh.” And they’ll keep that up no matter what, if they’re being stimulated, if they’re doing the stimulation, if they’re lubing up a dildo, etc. It’s laughable, literally so stupid that I can’t find such videos sexy no matter what the visuals are.
I was reminded of such traditional cinematic depictions of female pleasure while watching these “Hysterical Literature” videos (like a seasoned porn viewer, I mostly skipped to the end) since their realistic depiction of female orgasm resonated with me. I’ve been fortunate enough to induce that reaction from a number of women on a number of occasions, and the reactions of these women really resonated with me.
There’s usually a lot more panting and verbal expressions of building pleasure, but the way the women look during and especially after orgasm is so awesome, and so universal. There’s almost always that giddy laughter, and the clear-eyed, alert, rapturous expression on their faces, then the slightly-amazed expression during the afterglow. They make very direct eye contact and seem 1000% honest and pure at that point, as if the misdirection and artifice and subterfuge we all use to pad out our personalities and mask our real feelings and emotions is stripped away by the orgasm, and for a moment they’re just honestly astonished by the turn of events, and completely open to their companion(s).
I’ve long assumed (and been told by women) that part of the amazement they show to me at that moment is at least partially due to how surprising and atypical the event is. Women so very seldom achieve orgasm from the ministrations of a man, (note that I said achieve, not pretend) that they’re always kind of shocked when it happens, even if it’s happened with the same man many times. I might have to reconsider that theory a bit after these videos though, since all of the women have much the same amazed expression here, and no exceptional moment of male sexual competence was involved. (Then again, they probably are amazed to have just come as they did, in such an odd circumstance and situation.)05.14.13
Interesting, extensive, and historical article about the evolution of profanity. It’s about the specific words and how they’ve evolved and changed over time, and I could quote about half of it for constructive conversation. I found it really interesting how specific words have become more or less obscene over time.
The ever popular English (and Australian) term “Bloody” is covered in detail. They’re not sure of the origins, but it wasn’t considered profanity at first. That waxed and waned, but eventually class (that other great English institution) became part of the equation when “bloody” became a word more used by the lower classes. Which made it more obscene in the eyes of the upper class and society in general.
A related issue is gender, as words change in how they are applied to one or both genders.
With the development of feminism, many swearwords have become more equal-opportunity, not less. Bitch can now be applied to men and women, as can cunt. In the 19th century shit as a noun was reserved exclusively for men — the “West Somerset Word-Book” defines it as “a term of contempt, applied to men only,” as in “He’s a regular shit.” Now, women too can work, vote, own their own property, and be called a shit.
When swearwords don’t become more equal-opportunity, they often begin to be used solely for women — Geoffrey Hughes calls this the “feminization of ambisexual terms.” Words such as scold, shrew, termagent, witch, harlot, bawd, and tramp were all at one point in their histories terms for men; furthermore, the terms were usually neutral and sometimes even adulatory. Scold, for example, comes from the Old Norse word for “poet.” When these terms were feminized, they perjorated, going from neutral or positive to insulting. Bugger bucks this trend, too, going from a word used of men and women equally to an insulting term reserved almost exclusively for men.
Gendered profanity still exists, of course. You can call a man a “cunt” or a “bitch,” but it has something of a different connotation using those terms for a man or a woman. Compare to something like “asshole” which is more often pointed at men, as is “wanker.”
The only profanity that leaps to mind that’s still almost exclusively gendered is, “cock.” As the article says, “cunt” can (sort of) be applied to both genders (in a sexist or not connotation), and lots of sort of goofy/stupid type words like “asshole” or “shithead” seem more used for men, but “dick” or “cock” remain pretty much exclusively male in application. (And not just in an Evangelist’s gay locker room fantasy type way.) It just doesn’t really make sense to call a woman a cock. Or a dick. (Though I’m sure this will not be the case forever, the way all profanity seems to expand in usage and application over time.)
There’s probably an argument to be had there about the purpose and impact/import of gendered profanity, especially using body parts. “Pussy” means wimpy, usually applied to men. “Cunt” means “stupid and vile in a womanly way” when applied to a woman. “Cock” or “prick” or “dick” are usually terms aimed at men, but they tend to just mean “stupid” or “rude.” They’re not terms with any especially male trait attached, the way “pussy” is. Unless you want to argue that being a stupid asshole is kind of a male specialty, and that someday those terms might evolve to mean that. And if you said a woman was “being a dickhead” it would mean she was being stupid in a typically-male way, such as due to excessive ego or aggression.
Words are fun!05.14.13
Not to distract from the fascinating medical and sociological and cultural aspects of Angelina Jolie’s awesome editorial about undergoing a preemptive double mastectomy, but…
My own process began on Feb. 2 with a procedure known as a “nipple delay,” which rules out disease in the breast ducts behind the nipple and draws extra blood flow to the area. This causes some pain and a lot of bruising, but it increases the chance of saving the nipple.
Two weeks later I had the major surgery, where the breast tissue is removed and temporary fillers are put in place. The operation can take eight hours. You wake up with drain tubes and expanders in your breasts. It does feel like a scene out of a science-fiction film. But days after surgery you can be back to a normal life.
Nine weeks later, the final surgery is completed with the reconstruction of the breasts with an implant. There have been many advances in this procedure in the last few years, and the results can be beautiful.
I wanted to write this to tell other women that the decision to have a mastectomy was not easy. But it is one I am very happy that I made. My chances of developing breast cancer have dropped from 87 percent to under 5 percent. I can tell my children that they don’t need to fear they will lose me to breast cancer.
…do I need to feel guilty about my desire to see bikini photo before/after comparisons?
A few “before” images I gathered with about 10 seconds labor via Google Images.
You know that every tabloid on earth is currently scrambling to assemble a retrospective, and that the woman’s new boobs will be relentlessly scrutinized at every public appearance for the foreseeable future. But do we need to feel guilty about our salacious nature to see and compare and contrast?
Probably not. In fact, I’m expecting that after this opening serious, medical, informative news coverage, she’ll get dishy. After all, before she turned into Saint Angie, Angelina was the best sort of dirty slut with scandalous tattoos, knife advocacy, blood fetishization, sleazy boyfriends, etc. You know that Angie is still in there somewhere, and she would *love* to talk about picking out her new breast shape/size/perkiness, and if she aimed for her own 20 y/o perfection, offsetting the ravages of time, gravity, and nursing. If she resists it’s only to preserve her saintly, mothering, UN-ambassador image. Alas.05.14.13
The latest mock-scandal to suck oxygen out of the national media echo chamber is the IRS’ admission that they cast a bit closer scrutiny of some recent “non profit” political groups. Quote:
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service’s special scrutiny of small-government groups applying for tax-exempt status went beyond keyword hunts for organizations with “Tea Party” or “Patriot” in their names, to a more overtly ideological search for applicants seeking to “make America a better place to live” or “criticize how the country is being run,” according to part of a draft audit by the inspector general that has been given to Capitol Hill.
And sure, the IRS targeting any groups based on political affiliation, especially if those groups are opposing the political leanings of the current presidential administration, is a bad thing. Except when it happened many many many times under the previous Republican administrations, it got almost no media attention. Because IOKIYAR.
If nothing else, this demonstrates for the umpteenth time that the right wing is almost infinitely more successful than the left at elevating the media coverage of their chosen scandals. Though they can’t always work their magic, which is why the majority of Americans continue to yawn at even the increasingly rabid mentions of Benghazi.
As so often happens in media scandals though, I’ve read a lot about the IRS vs. the Tea Party issue without hearing anything speak the obvious truth. So here it is.
The Tea Party groups are composed of right wing kooks whose primary motivating purpose is a naive glibertarian belief that government (other than the military and Medicare) is evil and corrupt and unnecessary and that people should do all they can to bring it down, especially by not paying taxes.
Given that evident fact… it’s pretty obvious why the IRS would want to check into their tax-exempt status a bit more closely than the average charity, eh? Except that it’s impossible without it seeming “politically motivated.” Which it might have been — I can’t speak to the motivations of the low-level IRS people in Cincinnati who pushed this agenda — but there is a clear and obvious reason that the IRS might want to give more scrutiny to the efforts of tax resisters to make their money tax-exempt. Ironic that such people are the biggest proponents of racial profiling, except of course when it’s applied to themselves.
Update: Naturally, an hour after I posted this I visited another political blog I read sporadically, and found a post making much the same point.05.7.13
I’ve never been overly fond of dogs. My grandparents had a bird dog (trained to fetch shot birds since the GPs were hunters) who was a semi-pet (friendly and fun to play with, but lived in a kennel in the backyard and was never allowed in the house) and I liked that animal… but never felt any strong emotional attachment. I’ve never owned a dog myself, and while I am fine interacting with the beasts now and then, I don’t feel any real attraction or interest in them.
I should specify that I love animals in general. I love visiting the zoo or browsing pet stores, and I like animals in person. I’ve always felt strongly drawn to cats, and craved exotic animals all through my childhood, despite parental pet-blocking. Once I was into my twenties and living alone I immediately got a snake, then some rats (for pets and reptile food), plus a variety of other lizards and eventually a larger snake. I ultimately grew lazy and didn’t want a high maintenance pet, so now I’m content with just one cat. (Mostly because Jinxie doesn’t get along with the other cats I’ve tried to introduce into our household.)
Furthermore, I used to be very anti-dog and that extended to a distaste for people who did. I regarded dog ownership or sympathy as a sort of mental insecurity or failure, like announcing to the world that you just wanted someone to kiss your ass and tell you how great you were. Even as a child, I never liked followers, or sycophants, or brown-nosers, and those traits define most dogs, and are what most dog owners seem to crave. Some people want something that loves them unconditionally, that will ignore all their flaws, etc. And that’s exactly the opposite of how I think or feel. I prefer animals and people who are independent or aloof or who force you to earn their trust and respect.
Here’s a line I used to have in my online dating profile, on that topic:
So here’s where I defend cat ownership. (Not that it needs defending!) To me, cats are like women; sophisticated and potentially-temperamental, but liable to bestow great blessings when treated properly. Dogs, on the other hand, are like (most) men; over-eager, messy, and predictable since they only have two things in their tiny brains. Sure, they’re loyal, but it’s a stupid loyalty that’s easily-earned. Personally, I prefer animals (and humans) who require some finesse and subtlety to win over. That said, I do like dogs, as one of my profile pictures explains.
As you may suspect, I added the last line mostly so that dog owning women wouldn’t entirely disregard me. Which is much more of an issue in Oregon than it was when I lived in California, as I shall elaborate on shortly. The line isn’t a complete lie though, since these days I don’t dislike dogs. I don’t miss them or want them around, but when I come into contact with one I don’t fight back the urge to punt it. (Well, except with yappy rat dogs. I’d put one of those little shits into orbit, Pele-style.) I don’t trust the animals though, and I never relax around a strange dog. I’ve never been bitten or attacked, though like everyone else, I’ve had dozens of dogs rush up to me barking, or chase after me on a bike, etc. I’m not afraid of them, but I know what the animals are capable of and therefore I’m cautious. I keep my hands in a fist when they sniff, so if it bites it won’t get a finger, and I hold my body in a way that I can quickly react, to escape or fight as needed.
That sounds a bit paranoid, but it seems prudent to me, given the statistics on dog bites. As I said, it’s never happened (yet) but the price of freedom is eternal vigilance, or something like that. Once a dog has proven itself non-aggressive I don’t mind patting it or playing fetch, etc, but I don’t really gain pleasure from that, as I do from stroking a cat or handling a snake.
I regard dogs much as I do children. I don’t mind them existing and I realize that other people gain great delight from them, but I only want them around me for short periods, and that’s assuming they’re well-behaved and can avoid being too messy/noisy. (I like kids a lot more than dogs, as they have a much greater upside and potential.) But that’s the rub, isn’t it? Other people’s dogs are so often not well-behaved, and the breed is inherently messy and noisy. I’m not fond of random cat yowlings in the night, but that’s *far* less common than dog barking, and while cats do shit in public places, they tend to hide/bury it, and produce vastly smaller quantities than canines.
I’ve grown much less tolerant of dogs since moving to Oregon, simply because there are so many more of them up here than I ever saw living anywhere in SoCal or NoCal. It seems to be something of a cultural difference; Oregon is more outdoorsy and there’s more space and real weather, so more people have dogs. (I saw hardly any apartments that didn’t take dogs when I was looking up here, while at least 50% in the SF area refused them.) And not only are there more dogs in Oregon, the average dog is much larger. That’s actually a good thing IMHO, since while I’m basically indifferent to large dogs, I actively dislike ratty yappy ones. The drawback of big dogs is bigger dogshit, and I’ve learned to watch my step and basically never cut across the grass while walking around my apartment complex.
So, moving at last to my initial point… why are dogs legal? I’m not going to construct some alternate ecology/biology of earth and descent of man and domestication of wolves into canines, so just play along. Say there weren’t dogs anywhere on earth, and no one had domesticated foxes or anything similar. And then one day, dogs were invented, or discovered, or imported, etc. Would they be legal? Would people permit them in civilized regions?
I’m sure every dog lover would say “Yes, of course!” but think about it. While some people derive pleasure from their company, it’s not at all a victimless crime. Secondhand barking is a nuisance to everyone else, they’re messy, and they’re frequently dangerous or lethal to their owners or visitors. Look at the weird legal patchwork of laws about other “exotic” animals, none of which are 1/100th as dangerous or annoying as dogs. Many cities ban ownership of pot bellied pigs, large cats like lions or tigers, all sorts of primates, maintain limits on how large or numerous someone’s snake collection can be, etc. And all of those bans are for fairly random reasons; old livestock laws, phobias and superstitions about snakes, etc.
I’m not saying all those laws should be overturned, but none of those banned animals are capable of the sort of general nuisance via noise pollution that dogs are. I’d much rather a neighbor had a tiger, or a crocodile, or a twenty food anaconda, than a barking dog. So long as another person keeps their animal safely indoors and under control, it’s of no importance to me. But dogs bark and bark and bark and people think it appropriate to walk them around outdoors to shit, and with their pissing and shitting and sniffing urges and “friendly” nature there’s no way that someone can parade a dog in public without it being at least something of an inconvenience to others. Imagine if people regularly owned tigers and insisted on taking them for walks down crowded streets?
So, in this thought experiment, here’s the question. If dogs didn’t exist, would they be allowed into cities today? Perhaps if they were bred to lose their voice? Imagine a world where dogs were classified as livestock. Like pigs or sheep or cattle. Useful for some purposes (including as food) but controlled and regulated. They’d be a bit like horses; common out in the country and on farms and such, but you’d never see one in a city unless a cop was sitting on top of it.04.25.13
It’s fairly well-established that movies or TV shows are generally a lot funnier if you’re drunk. Or stoned, I suppose, but I don’t do that so I can’t vouch for it. But what about other art forms?
Music is often alleged to be better on drugs, especially if Pink Floyd and the Wizard of Oz are involved, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone claim that music is better when you’re drunk. Certainly going to (enduring?) a club experience can be improved by music, and many people (especially men) need some booze to loosen up enough (i.e. stop caring if they look like idiots in public) to dance. And maybe being buzzed or drunk helps with the dancing, but mostly it’s motivation / liquid-courage to get out there and dance in the first place, and to move freely enough to dance properly. (And since 99% of “dance music” is suck-ass-horrible, being buzzed enough to not notice/care certainly helps.)
Being drunk can make video gaming interesting. I don’t think it helps, since drunk slows reflexes and mental acuity. But that can actually be sort of a cool / good / funny thing, as basic video game operations that aren’t even worth a thought when sober can become funny and challenging when buzzed. I’ve played enough Diablo 3 while drunk to know that the experience is not improved; mostly I’m just struggling to maintain concentration and function, rather than gaining any additional enjoyment from the experience.
But how about other forms of art? Art, for instance. Has anyone ever argued that museums are better appreciated while drunk? Stoned? I can see stoned, but then it’s like, hallucinogenics, and with a proper dose a blank white wall can seem like amazing artwork. Or so I’ve been told — no first hand experience in the field, at least not yet.
Art’s an odd extension though, since it’s not really entertainment. It’s about your mind finding interest in a still visual, where it’s largely up to the observer to create meaning and interest.
How about books, then? Reading, I mean. Does anyone consider reading more fun when drunk or stoned? I find comedy films or concerts a lot funnier when buzzed on a couple of drinks, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried reading something funny while drunk. I suspect it wouldn’t really work — reading anything while drunk / stoned, I mean. Reading requires some concentration and clarity of vision, and those are amongst the aspects of human mental function most immediately sabotaged by intoxicants.
I suppose that being drunk and reading jokes would work okay, if they were short jokes. Any stupid “knock knock” joke could be elolable if you were buzzed. But I don’t think “Hey I’m going to knock back a couple of shots and then dive into Lord of the Rings.” is real viable… at least if the drinker is talking about reading it. Watching the movie, sure. Why not?
Or maybe it’s just me, since when I’m buzzed I get sleepy and sitting still and silent to read is a very good way to fall right the fuck asleep. Whereas watching some movie requires no real concentration and can be done happily while much too drunk to do any sort of proper work / thinking. I’m open to alternate opinions though, if anyone wants to offer them in comments.04.5.13
News today that a federal judge reviewed all the relevant scientific data and then ordered the “morning after” pill to be sold to all ages and OTC. (Previously it was only available in the US with a prescription, to women 17 and older, which was, by definition, idiotic, as it’s a drug that prevents pregnancy, but which only works if taken with a few days after the potential fertilization, and which works the very best within 24 hours.)
I skimmed the article, curious to see what some Catholic type would say to oppose scientific progress and medicine of benefit to women, and sure enough, there’s an outrageous pull quote floating in the punch bowl:
“When these are right out there with the bubble gum, they’re going to be part of the date rape cocktail,” said Karen Brauer, president of Pharmacists for Life.
Read that a few times to try to make sense of it. I did, and I don’t think it can be done, since there’s no sense to be made. It’s just a word salad, a string of unrelated nouns intended purely to evoke emotional reaction and response. So “bubble gum” is meant to convey childish innocence and vulnerability, and then “date rape cocktail” is meant to be threatening and ominous. Basically it’s a way to say, “this drug will destroy the lives of our helpless children!” without actually saying that.
Because she can’t actually say that, because it doesn’t make any sense.
There’s zero correlation between this drug and rape, this has nothing to do with bubble gum, it’s not recreational since emergency contraception costs $10-80 per dose, there’s no medical evidence that the “morning after” pill is dangerous to young women (and quite a bit of evidence that unplanned and unwanted pregnancy is extremely dangerous to the health of young women), etc. Basically, the anti forces have nothing but a distrust of pleasurable sexual activity and a dislike of women’s rights and emancipation, so they’ve got to do a Southern Strategy type thing, and try to run on that platform without actually voicing it. Hence illogical word salads about “date rape cocktails.”
Honestly though, try to parse some meaning from that. Yes, yes, the group’s Orwellian title pretty much gives the game away right at the start, but pretend you’re ignorant of all larger political realities and deal with her words on their own merit. (So to speak.)
(BTW, I love that “Pharmacists for Life” title. As opposed to all the others who must be Pharmacists for Death? Admittedly, it’s a lot catchier than their deserved, literal title: “Pharmacists who refuse to perform their crucial jobs by providing legal medications to eligible customers in certain specific sex-related circumstances but who don’t want to get fired for it so they pretend to have some higher moral obligation.”)
As far as I can tell, Mrs. PfL there is arguing that if this drug is more widely-available, over the counter and without a prescription, that men will buy it and use it to facilitate their rapes. Their drug-induced, roofies-style rapes, presumably. (As opposed to physically shoving the pill down the woman’s throat, post violent coitus, like a cat-owner trying to treat heartworms.)
So by analogy, she’s saying that rapists are currently restrained by worries about accidental pregnancy, and that rapes will increase once there’s a more widely-available pill to prevent that? Admittedly, I’m not a rapist so I can’t claim a great deal of insight into the mindset, but I’m fairly confident that “maybe she’ll get pregnant” isn’t really atop the list of worries that keep rapists from doing more raping. Because there are um… other ways to avoid that. From sex, I mean. Personally, I’d think that, “They’ll get my DNA from the sperm and catch me and I’ll go to prison for fifty years.” would be a much larger clear and present danger than “maybe she’ll get pregnant,” but what do I know.
(I’ll tell you what I know; that about 5% of rapes are actually prosecuted and maybe 1% of rapists actually wind up getting any prison time, so by any logical world view, if the anti-contraception people were actually concerned about rape, they’d do vastly more good by lobbying to improve anti-rape legal procedures, rather than trying to deny rape victims a simple and cost-effective method that can lessen the life-ruining after effects of being raped. But there I go, letting logic get in the way again.)
Also, to be at least semi-serious… if a rapist drugged a woman with roofies and the morning after pill at the same time… wouldn’t he be doing her a favor? Of course it would never work that way, since the victim would never know (what’s the rapist going to do, leave the empty pill container and a note on her nightstand?) and even if she did she wouldn’t trust the guy and would therefore go buy and take the pill herself. So the argument is nonsense even if you humor it far enough to take it seriously.
As for taking it seriously… no. Don’t bother. No one is advancing this argument on logical grounds, based on any scientific anything. The people opposed to this medicine being more widely available are motivated by religion, or a warped sense of morality, or just a general dislike or sex and women’s health options. If you argue with them about the science or logic you’re basically Richard Dawkins dignifying the nonsense of a Creationist by debating them. You can’t debate a person who doesn’t actually believe what they’re saying, or how they’re saying it. You’ll merely spend the entire time swatting down the strawmen they throw forth, like an overly-patient adult besieged by a “Why? Why? Why?” asking five year old.
I suppose it’s possible that some anti-choice people actually do believe that a two-day old blastocysthas the same moral and ethical rights as a living human… but come on… Maybe it’s too far to say that, “no one” thinks that way, but certainly “very very very very few” do. They don’t think that way, they just use that as their public excuse. The people against this sort of thing are acting purely on instinct and primitive religious values and fear. Any logic or reason or explanation is tacked on, post facto. They’re just a less-barbarous version of witch burning Puritans, or the men in the Taliban who throw battery acid into the faces of little girls for the crime of trying to learn to read. I’m intentionally going full Godwin here (without actually mentioning Nazis), since I think it makes the point. These anti-sex, anti-women, anti-health attitudes are on the same continuum, and motivated by the same root urges and impulses coming from the controlling, anti-pleasure, monstrous lizard brain that modern humans work to overcome.
Which brings me to a related point. The weird way that so many people reflexively feel any substance which merely provides pleasure (like drugs, alcohol, pills that prevent the unfortunate consequences of heterosexual activity, etc) is bad and should be denied. Puritanism, to sum it up in a word. This issue is becoming more obvious in recent years as support for the legalization of marijuana continues to grow (over 50% in the latest Pew poll), but it’s not really about pot, it’s about anything that’s purely meant to provide pleasure.
I don’t (currently) smoke pot, and have never been in the regular habit of doing so. I’ve never smoked tobacco. I do drink alcohol regularly, though very seldom in a large enough quantity to impair me (i.e. make me laugh a lot more than usual), and when I do get buzzed I generally find it quite enjoyable, usually watch a movie that I enjoy a great deal more than I would have sober, and and never feel an urge/desire/need to do it more than once every week or two. Mostly since I’m always busy working on stuff, or doing things that require my full concentration and awareness and presence for.I read with some interest “Gabe’s” first person account of his first time smoking pot, and it sounded like fun… except that it was like, his entire evening, just sitting around giggling and watching YouTube videos. I don’t do well scheduling free/wasted time of that duration. An hour or two, fine. But like 4-6 hours? That’s a whole fucking day.
But that’s up to the individual. I don’t see any qualitative difference between watching 5 hours of TV sober and watching 5 hours of TV stoned and enjoying it much more. I don’t want to do either, but if other people do, so what? I’d like everyone to live a more productive and fruitful life (myself most definitely included), but I’m not the behavior police, and if a pastime isn’t harmful to anyone else, I’m not going to prohibit it. (I might condemn it and regard it as stupid; I feel that way about a lot of the stuff I do myself, but there’s a big difference between arguing against and attempting to ban something. And that difference is generally that the later requires or at least thrives when given a religious connection or connotation.)
So sure, legalize pot. I think it’s stupid that most drugs are illegal, when they’re popular because they feel good. Obviously things can be overused or misused, and some drugs are dangerous because they feel so good that people stop wanting to do anything else (or more likely it’s people who don’t want to do anything else who find drugs that make the time pass painless, but that’s a whole causation vs. correlation argument that would be an even bigger digression than the rest of this post.)
And sure, we’re repeatedly told that illegal drugs lead to crime and violence, etc. But there again it’s causation vs. correlation, and it seems pretty clear to me that the causation is the illegality. Drugs are expensive since you can’t just buy them in a six pack at 7/11, and there’s violence involved because that illegality makes them fantastically profitable to sell. If you removed the illegal part and sold them like alcohol or tobacco, then the violence goes away with the profit incentive.
But the violence and crime aspects keep being propped up as they are handy rhetorical tools for people who principally oppose these drugs since they’re things that feel good. (Even if people aren’t thinking of that consciously.) An excellent example of that reflexive mentality is found in this news article about how many members of the Auburn University football team were using drugs during their run to a National Championship a few years ago. Some quotes:
The 2010 national champion Auburn Tigers were gripped by an epidemic of synthetic marijuana use that led to a rash of failed drug tests and a decision at the highest levels of the university’s athletic department to keep the results confidential, ESPN has learned.
…The drug — also referred to as “spice” — has been linked to paranoid delusions, hallucinations, and, in rare cases, deaths.
…Mosley’s attorney, Davis Whittelsey, said he will argue in court that Auburn was more concerned with covering up drug tests than getting students counseling for the highly addictive drug, which is linked to about 11,000 emergency room visits a year.
I know nothing about the “drug” and don’t dispute the veracity of these figures, but I found it interesting that nothing else was said about “Spice.” A few related points:
1) How do those “emergency room visits” figures compare to other things found in the lives of college athletes? Alcohol, for instance? How many people are sent to the emergency room every year by vending machine accidents? Toaster misuse? Slipping in the shower? How much of the medical attention required by drug users stems from those drugs being illegal and unregulated and often binged on covertly? Who dies from alcohol poisoning? Thirty year olds who can legally and freely sip wine with dinner? Or 19 year olds during fraternity hazing?
2) If Spice is actually that harmful… why are we banning non-synthetic marijuana, when it’s almost harmless? After all, these players are only using Spice since they want an intoxicant and they’re being drug tested for marijuana. Cure > disease.
3) Why is this relevant? The theory is that we drug test athletes since there are substances that have been (quite arbitrarily) defined as “performance-enhancing.” But by no definition I know of is marijuana on that list. I guess it might help the guys relax and chill out after a long and stressful day of lifting weights, running around in the hot sun, skipping class, laying low while a TA on the football team’s payroll takes their midterms for them, and coercing fellatio from drunken groupie coeds, but it’s not like smoking pot, or “Spice,” is making them stronger or faster. So why should anyone care if they’re using it, in any athletic, “drug-testing” sense?
I’d say this entire “if if feels good then it’s bad” logic is driving the illegality of prostitution as well, but as I’ve belabored my incomprehension at that issue in the past, I’ll spare you another round.03.24.13
Interesting blog post about a book on Mexican food. The post gets kind of TLDR and I lost interest halfway through, but I liked the basic issue since it’s something I’ve talked about with friends, especially International ones. (Basically, people in Yurp and Oz don’t have any idea what’s Mexican food.) Quote:
2. What is Mexican food? Pilcher places Mexican food within a 500-year trend of globalization. Most famously, the corn, chocolate, and chile that make up key elements of Mexican food traveled to Europe while pork, beef, and chicken all came from Europe to Mexico. But that’s hardly the end of the global Mexican story. For instance, tacos al pastor, a fundamental food of Mexico and now the taco culture in the U.S., go all the way to ye olden days of the 1950s and 1960s when Middle Eastern immigrants took pork cooked shwarma style and put it on a corn tortilla, maybe with a slice of pineapple. There’s also the large Chinese immigrant population that brought their own ideas to Mexican food. A related question is whether the Tex-Mex and Cal-Mex food of the United States is truly Mexican? Or for that matter, Taco Bell? Of course in a sense it all is. Given that the United States stole half of Mexico in a naked attempt by the Polk Administration to expand slavery, we shouldn’t think about Mexican food without bringing in the indigenous cuisines of New Mexico, California, and Texas, as well as their hybrid and fusion descendants.
A related but key point is that as Mexican food has slowly spread to other parts of the world, it is seen globally as American food. Much of its original spread was to serve American soldiers near military bases abroad. Its association with American culture for much of the world, not to mention a very real ignorance about Mexico, reinforces these ideas. In most of the world, Mexican food means getting very drunk on tequila American tourist-style. American hippies helped establish a more legitimate Mexican food experience in parts of Europe, but that just reinforced its deep Americanness in the minds of Europeans. The reasons for are pretty obvious–because Mexicans migrate to the United States instead of Europe, there was never an ethnic community established in Europe that would make Mexican food part of the European foodscape.
I love Mexican food and have learned to cook a lot of different types of it. Especially since moving to Oregon, since the Mexican food I’ve had in Mexican restaurants up here has left me unimpressed. There are Hispanics here, though in far smaller numbers than in SoCal or even NoCal, but many restaurants have white chefs, and whatever their race, they cook for the audience. Portland is 95% white and there are a ton of great and very eclectic restaurants, but they do not do spices or chiles or the like very well, and those are essential for good Mexican food.
I’ve had to hunt local stores to find jalapenos in bulk (still haven’t found anywhere that sells huge jars of pre-sliced jalapenos, which I always got in California), or Mexican spices in quality, and it’s hard to get good flour tortillas. I’ve bought some local brands that I’d never heard of which looked okay in the bag, but in practice they were weird. Too thick, very white, and sort of slippery, like the Wonder bread version of a torta, like they’re a jumbo-sized flour-pita. They taste weird, sort of chewy, and they don’t grill up properly. (I now get my tortillas at Trader Joe’s, which are fairly authentic but still not great.)
I’m still better off than Mexican-food lovers in Europe or Australia, where locals inform me that it’s almost impossible to find Mexican food, and if you can it’s a weird local version of the cuisine, with sausage or beets or other weird things.
The irony is that “Mexican food” as I grew to know it in California isn’t anything like Mexican food, i.e. the food that Mexicans eat in Mexico. I’ve eaten at “authentic” Mexican restaurants, and/or had “traditional Mexican style” dishes in good Mexican places, (in California of course, nor Oregon), and it has nothing in common with anything on the menu at say, Taco Bell. They’ve got stuff like pork roasts, shrimp and fish stews, casserole type dishes with beans and vegetables, etc. Thus the “Mexican food” that most people know, tacos and burritos and quesadillas and such, is in no way authentic or traditional Mexican cuisine.
Most people have heard this truism about Chinese food, as the stir fry with tangy sauce over rice or noodles that makes up the bulk of the menu at foreign Chinese restaurants is nothing like what they actually eat in China, now or historically. Thus, to get the best “Chinese Food” you’ll have to do the same thing you’d do to get the best “Mexican food”… go to California.
The same is not true of every regional cuisine; humorous videos not withstanding, Japanese people actually do use little sticks to eat marinated, undercooked fish on cold rice, and Germany people really are fueled entirely by beer and ground pig meat stuffed into intestinal casings. I know it’s true, because I read it on the Internet.03.8.13
I’ve lately seen a number of moves I want to write something about, including The Hobbit and Django Unchained, but I just sat through The Hunger Games this evening and it was bad, yet thought-provoking enough to motivate me to write something about it.
I’ll start off with the scores, for a change.
The Hunger Games, 2012
Eye Candy: 3
Fun Factor: 4
I knew almost nothing about the story going in, and I’ve not read any of the books. I meant to; months ago when the trailer for this first debuted a female friend sent me the link with great excitement to see it since she loved the books. I watched about 15 seconds of it at that time and turned it off, since the type of story was right in my wheelhouse, and I figured I’d read the books before I saw any of the film and didn’t want spoilers.
I never got around to reading any of it (though I will at some point), and after Jennifer Lawrence won the Academy Award for some other movie I read a lot of mentions of her career and performance in this film, which reminded me that I’d never seen it. So now I have.
I didn’t think it was very good, as the scores indicate. It wasn’t awful, and the movie made me want to read the book, but not in a good way. More in a, “this story and the characters have some potential, but the film is so poorly directed, edited, photographed, and written that I need to read the book to see what went wrong.” Basically, it felt like it could have been good, but the film felt like a hurried rough draft of a proper movie presentation. If I didn’t know better I’d have thought it was a low budget project, something that was rushed to market to cash in on a fad, made to go straight to home video or cable. It didn’t feel cinematic or sweeping, the special effects were mediocre at best, the glorious capital city was an obviously CGI creation that looked as plastic and phony and unlived in as the “Coruscan, home of midair collisions” confections that were occasionally shown in Star Wars Episode 2 and 3.
As I said, I haven’t read the books or anything about the story, so possibly (hopefully) things make more sense in the books, but the movie was underplotted and basically stupid. The premise is that a Rome-esque capital city rules over 12 provinces which are apparently all dirt poor and full of misery and discontent, while all of their wealth is siphoned off to the capital city, which is entirely filled by decadent idle evil rich. That’s not entirely unrealistic, but there’s an annual contest where each of the 12 provinces hold a semi-random lottery to select one male and female to be shipped off to the capital, where they fight to the death in a Battle Royale style survival match until there’s one last survivor.
A cool idea, if not particularly original to this series, but there are so many logical and functional holes in it that I spent the whole movie trying to figure how the system could be changed to make any sense and hoping the books were at least 90% less stupid.
1) The kids selected are 12-18 y/o, which is just ridiculous. What 12 or 13 year old alive can compete fairly with a 17 or 18 y/o in a fight to the death? It could work if the children were selected and thrown in with the almost-adults purely to pull on emotional heart strings, but that’s not emphasized and they’re basically expected to fight toe-to-toe, except the few kids that young in the contest get slaughtered without putting up any real resistance.
1.1) It’s a random lottery selection, except that anyone can volunteer, apparently. But no one ever does, since it’s big news when Katniss does after her little sister is selected. Except apparently the B/G from District 1 are always volunteers, since they’ve got some kind of training academy where they train from childhood in combat and survival skills (almost none of which they displayed in the film).
1.2) What’s the prize for winning? It’s never stated and at the end Katniss and the other guy are just going back home… to what, work in the coal mine? Why would people from District 1 train their whole lives for the contest if they don’t win anything if they win it?
2) The entire Hunger Games is presented as a sort of national spectacle that is meant to pacify and control the formerly-rebellious provinces. But that doesn’t make any sense. Having to send off their children to die for the entertainment of the decadent scum in the capital would just make the provinces more rebellious, not less. People will do insane things in resistance when they’re starving and/or to protect their families. The Hunger Games grants them both motivations.
3) Eighteen is way too old for females in this world. The movie acts like they’re all children still, meek and docile and accepting, but it’s only in modern rich Western nations were 15-18 year olds can still be treated as (and act like) children. In poor countries all through human history, (and the provinces in Hunter Games all appear to be basically West Virginia circa 1932) 14 y/os are living as men and women, getting married (usually the girls to much older, richer men), working full time, having children, etc. Half the 17 y/os in every province would be mothers and/or pregnant at the time of selection, and many of the men would be fathers. The lack of anthropological rigor in this aspect of the film really marked it as a dumb, thoughtless piece of entertainment created for ignorant young modern readers, and offended the historical, cultural, sociological world building mentality I apply to my own fictional worlds.
4) There rules for the contest are complete bullshit. This is shown as the national sport and something all the decadent rich bet fortunes on, but at the same time there are no uniform rules and regulations and things can be changed at any time. The game is rigged and phony, with artificial hazards (forest fires, huge killer dogs) introduced and applied unevenly. Furthermore, some of the players are given special assistance in the form of medicine and food, while others are on their own, and even the overall rules change mid-game. It’s supposed to be a plot twist when suddenly the game changes to a team sport, where the B/G from one district can both win, but at that time only one district still has both the B and G alive. Of course the evil overlords could cheat and change around the rules, but you can’t have that *and* have this be the national sport with billions wagered on it. Gamblers would not tolerate the rules being changed mid-game when they’ve got fortunes riding on the outcome, and the lack of logical rigor behind the overall structure becomes even more obvious with the absurdity of allowing “sponsors” to gift contestants with medicine and food and other essential supplies. Obviously the gamblers would be sending their favorites constant gifts throughout, and cheating as much as possible.
5) The contest is completely unsuited to television, and yet is apparently broadcast across the entire nation, live and unedited. It’s just a bunch of kids running around in the woods with knives and stuff, but aside from a few dramatic moments, 95% of the time you’d just seem some girl sleeping on a tree branch. Yet everyone stands around big TVs in public squares for 4 or 5 days while it goes on? Why is the whole thing set in forest with no time limit or structure? Why not a gladiator style arena, or an urban setting? Why isn’t it on a map with regular food areas or weapon spawn points to encourage more conflict? Why don’t they get points for kills?
5.1) It’s not produced at all like a TV show, for one thing. It’s basically Survivor, to the death… but there’s no personality or character development. All the kids get interviewed on this cheesy TV show type thing in advance, but none of them are talking or sharing their thoughts during the “game.” And that sort of character-driven, inter-personal interaction is the entire animating force behind all Reality TV shows. Imagine watching Survivor if it was just surveillance cameras? For the Hunger Games to work, every kid should have a camera and mic on them the whole time, like those mo-cap setups they put on the actors in Avatar. The audience would want the kid’s reactions and facial expressions, their every conversation, what they saw and felt as they killed or died, etc. Even if the TV audience in the movie doesn’t get that… the audience of the movie should have.
7) There’s a vague hint of the whole thing functioning on a larger sense of “how this game and the heroine will work to overthrow the decadent tyranny” but that’s woefully under-explained or represented in the film, which takes away what should be the entire subplot of larger events and importance. The film shows the idle rich in their stupid clothing, and the poor dirty villagers from the hinterlands (none of which seem to have a population of more than about 10,000, judging by how many kids are up for the lottery, while the capital city holds millions in luxury), and a few vague mentions of some war/rebellion 75 years ago.
Aside from the lacking content and focus and detail on the larger story, the film itself is really poorly done. I hated the direction and editing. The first 30 minutes has a really amateurish, “my first movie” feel to it, as every scene is photographed with restless shaky cams. One would-be intense and emotional conversation after another is ruined by the camerawork and editing, as the camera constantly pans left and right, focuses in way too tightly, shows the back of someone’s head while someone else is talking, etc. That annoying tendency settled down later on, but almost all of the action scenes were terribly staged and filmed, with no sense of the structure of the fighting, where the combatants were in relation to others, no flow or rhythm of action, etc.
And the plot sucked and treated Katniss as the favorite throughout. She somehow wins despite being terrible at the game, never stalking or killing others when she has a clear shot, fighting only in self defense, trusting everyone who appears friendly, giving zero thought to how she’s going to kill the others off as she must to win, etc. Every time someone else has her number danger they stop chasing her or stop to monologue, other contestants help her until they’re conveniently killed by a bad person (thus saving Katniss from ever having to act mercilessly as survival requires), etc.
The other characters get no character development at all. Only Katniss’ sort of boyfriend has a personality, and he’s just helpful and supportive and noble and more concerned with her well-being than his own. There’s a saintly and helpful 12 y/o from another province who loves Katniss and dies for her, but everyone else is just some guy/girl without any distinguishing personality traits. The District 1 guy/girl are shown as happily murderous in a Nazi youth sort of way, but it just seems to be a job for them. They’re not sociopaths or anything, and all the other kids are just ciphers. No one is a sycophant in an alliance and then suddenly backstabs their teammate, no one refuses to kill and dies for it, no one shows any real emotion about anything, etc. It just feels so underwritten and like it’s missing every opportunity to show the pathologies and insanities of human behavior and psychology in times of in extremis. The setting has potential to go into a Lord of the Flies type character drama, but instead everyone just acts like kids on a nature hike, aside from occasional moments of murder, none of which seem to come with any emotional weight or intensity.
I suppose the film deserves some credit for not going to the hoary cliche of showing some good guy who must kill the cornered bad guy, but “just can’t do it,” and then the bad guy leaps up with a weapon and the good guy ducks and the bad guy misses their attempted murder and falls off a cliff to their death (AKA the ending of 2/3 of all Disney animated films). But it felt more like the story was just too poorly-plotted to even create that sort of a dramatic scene, rather than smartly-written to avoid reusing the cliches.
And in the end, I suppose that’s why I disliked it and felt motivated to write about it immediately after watching. Because it wasn’t good, but it had so much potential to be better, and it has subject matter and a setting that’s similar to fictional worlds and events I’ve thought about writing myself. But it did so little with them, while even my rough draft partial thoughts have 500x more emotional intensity and interest and potential than the lacking characterization and flaccid plotting exhibited by this massive, runaway blockbuster success of a film.
I can only assume that the book did it much better and the movie, over-stuffed with extraneous characters and yet so lacking in emotional resonance and plotting and characterization, was the problem here. I’ll have to read it and judge for myself, at some point.