Friday, October 29, 2004

Happy Weekend

Blaine reappeared and dropped me off at the train station on his way to his lake house, Jenn is out of town for some much-deserved Halloween debauchery in Las Vegas, and after much perusal of theatre offerings, jazz nights, comedy stuff at Second City, and a good, hard, look at my bank account, I've decided I'd rather spend my holiday weekend at home, watching unlimited rentals from the Blockbuster across the street and doing line edits.

In all fairness, I do plan to have a more exciting life again when I'm thirty.

I think South Africa just really burned me out.

Anyway, for your further amusement, I will leave you with Anne McCaffrey's WTF moment:

"It's a proven fact that a single anal sex experience causes one to be homosexual. The hormones released by a sexual situation involving the anus being broached, are the same hormones found in large quantities in effeminate homosexual males. For example, when I was much younger I knew a young man who was for all intents and purposes, heterosexual. He was mugged, and involved in a rape situation involving a tent peg. This one event was enough to have him start on a road that eventually led to him becoming effeminate and gay."

I think she's upset because this guy wouldn't date her. Do I really need to comment? Nah. Nick's readers do it for me.


Check out Retro vs.

"We've established a clear link."


This year's scariest holloween costumes.

Oh yes. They did.

via roxpopuli

More Reasons to Like My Boss

Well, besides the fact that he's out traveling 2-3 weeks every month, has been known to bring me coffee, never hangs over my shoulder, and takes great stock in my perceived intelligence in matters of reading, research, computer knowledge, and grammer... and seems to assume that I'm psychic....

Blaine burst into the office this morning and began downloading, printing, filing, and requesting help to do said tasks. Big meetings going on today, and he was about to fly out (our office is about 5 min from the airport).

He briefed me in his best abbreviated style about sending out an SOQ (Statement of Qualifications) for a new firm we're talking up. I was also put on research duty, as nobody's all that familiar with them.

"Work with Ned on this," Blaine said. "And tell him to stop procrastinating."

Ned: Regional VP mucky-muck.

Me: Lowly admin. who, until just now, had never heard of an SOQ.

"If you have any questions," Blaine told the secretary, Cyllia, who was making folders for Blaine's files, "just ask Kameron. She knows all about what I'm working on."

This was news to me.

I had printed out some RFPs. I hadn't had time to read any of them. I had no idea where he was flying out to, or why, though I suspected it involved one of our partner firms, as I worked on a powerpoint presentation with Rhea yesterday.

Oh well.

Let him think I'm a scary genius who knows what the hell a "microwave backhaul project" is... after all, due to great things like the internet, it never takes me long to catch up.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

KJ Bishop's Latest & Greatest

Vandermeer has an interview up with KJ Bishop, who's book The Etched City, I recently finished re-reading. Great stuff.

Why should readers pick up your book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else's book?
K. J. Bishop: Readers should pick up my book and someone else's. Readers: buy a book instead of a pizza, or half a pizza, or whatever fraction of a pizza you can get for a few bucks these days. It's a diet that works.

Yea. That's why there's 1377 books in our house, and no food in the fridge.

Breathing Space

Back to work. I'm so behind. My first drafts are always such crap.

Mixed Bag

Over at bluesmama, check out the lyrics for her "Blues for J." You may also be interested in checking out the President uncensored (via boingboing).

Also, Amanda's got some links up about voter fraud and directs us to Voter Video, in which those with video cameras are urged to catch Republicans challenging others' rights to vote at polling stations. She's also got up some thoughts on women, food, and anxiety, as does Hugo. I might post later about this one.

I also recommend: In My Arms, a web gallery of pulp magazine covers/comics, video clips, et al of men, monsters, and robots carrying women (there's even a shot of supergirl carrying a woman). A fascinating cultural image.

And here's a very good article about Bush's bizarre Dred Scott statement in the Kerry/Bush debates. Yea, it was code for Roe vs. Wade (Bush intends to erode it), but if you take the pres. at his word, that the judges in the Dred Scott case were acting on matters of "personal opinion" and weren't "strict constructionists" - you'd be wrong. The Constitution of the United States of America allows slavery. Slaves weren't real people. These guys were about as strict on the constructionism as they could be. Check it out.

The Fighting Life

I've been kinda off this week. Maybe because I spent too much downtime this weekend - I should have gone jogging or gone for a bike ride or something.

After this week's Monday class, I found myself too exhausted, hungry, and shaky to go to my now-usual Tuesday class. Instead, I made sure to eat well and sleep a lot to prep for tyhe Wednesday class. But last night, I arrived to class and found myself feeling weak and shaky and uncoordinated again. I slowed down, took several water breaks, and had that fleeting, "Oh screw it, I'm not going to finish this damn class tonight" thought.

We broke up into teams, and one of the warm-up exercises was running up and back down the back stairs of the building. It's only five or six flights, but I was seriously dying. I was the last person back to class; I had to slow down my descent because they're metal stairs, and I was really dizzy. I could easily imagine slipping up and cracking open my head.

Not sure what's up with this - if it means I'm working too hard or not hard enough. What it probably means is I need to up my calorie count. Weather permitting, I'll be going bike riding this weekend.

The good news is that I'm doing pretty well with my 30lb free weights in the morning, and I've been able to add another rep to each set this week. I've also discovered that my abs (though one cannot see them) are my speciality. Wednesday ends with partnered sit-ups while passing medicine balls from 4-12lbs in weight. This is tough for a lot of people, and not everybody gets through it without a break. But I've been doing abs every morning since I was fourteen. I think that at one point, in high school, I was doing 500 a day. I've settled into a comfortable morning routine of four different sets of 40, for some variety.

Hey. I gotta be good at *something*.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Where I Get My Games

Meetings, meetings, everywhere, but I'm not a part of them.

So, here's where I get the games I play at work:

I recommend Zuma and Bookworm.

Also, I am quite partial to Mah Jong, but that's just me.

Free Speech, Howard Stern, FCC & Etc.

Here's another guy who I personally can no longer listen to, but whom I respect for Fighting the Fight.

Howard Stern set out from loserville nothing with a driving passion to be the highest rated radio talkshow host ever.

It's good to have goals. You might get somewhere.

I listened to Stern for about 2 months with I was 19, fascinated at the idea that women were so eager to hop around naked on his show and have him and his gang decide what size their breasts needed to be. All the women sounded like little girls. It really started to get to bug me, so I stopped listening.

Note that: I didn't petition the FCC. I didn't flip out and start campaigning against his objectification of women who had (as far as I could tell) willingly agreed to be on his show. If they didn't like it, they could leave (I could go on about socialized patriarchy, but I won't, cause I'm preaching Free Speech here).

As many have heard, Stern is moving to satellite radio after the latest huge fine from the FCC about his radio programming. Stern caught the commissioner of the FCC on a radio show, and - being Howard Stern - called in to confront him. Stern rightly points out that if he's been fired for talking about sexual function on the air, then Oprah should be getting fined too (her case is currently pending - Stern didn't even get to take his to court). Check out the side-by-side transcripts of both snippets in question at Stern's site (it's the usual - oral and anal sex, and blah-de-blah-blah-blah).

Personally, *I* find these sorts of radio and tv segments really educational. I mean, I like to know the current lingo: I'd heard of tossing salad, but a rainbow? This is useful information. I'm going to be able to understand more jokes. It helps me become a well-rounded American.

And you know what: being an American consumer, if I *don't* want to know these interesting tidbits, I'll turn off the radio. Or turn off the tv. There's shit on the air all the time that I find offensive and just plain stupid - I don't watch it. I don't ask that it be taken off the air, because it's not stirring up hate against other people (so far as I know), and it's entertaining somebody out there.

It's like abortion. If you don't believe in abortion - don't have one.

It's that simple.

Oh, of course, I realize it's NOT that simple. When South Africa was drawing up its new media regulations post 1990, they very nearly let it run without an "obscenity" clause. Women's groups got worried about violent acts against women being aired right alongside sesame street. Now, you can get all sorts of goodies after 10pm (like naked guys in Cape Town - yes, I mean all-over naked), and swearing (there are 11 official languages in South Africa), but the soap-opera that depicted a rape scene got a lot of flack (one in three women in South Africa will be raped in her lifetime). Obscenity had less to do with showing beautiful body parts and more to do with banning depictions of overt sexualized violence.

I don't know how promoting fear and disgust of the human body is helping anybody in this country.

One thing that Jenn thought was interesting about the Stern discussion: Stern asked why the FCC didn't fine Janet Jackson for bearing her breast on television, but fined the station instead.

Jenn retorted, "Why are they blaming Janet Jackson?"

After all, it was Justin who ripped off her top.

Funny how people forget that.

Evil sexual woman.

To Vote Or Not To Vote?

It must suck to live in a swing state right about now.

There are, in fact, people in this country who exercise their right to choose NOT to vote. My mother is one of them. It drives me batty that she doesn't, but she chooses not to encourage the system. Small form of personal protest, and all that. There are indeed people who protest the system by not being a part of it - or, at least, by not engaging in the voting part. There are other excuses, "my vote is just one vote, so it won't make any difference," and "they're all the same candidate anyway - bunch of lying bastards."

These are all somewhat true things.

The system sucks. I hate it. I want a variety of candidates. I'm tired of having to choose between rich white Old Boys, because that's not much of a choice at all.

What's not often known is that there were at least two major camps of suffragists coming out of 1848 and moving into 1920. There were the radicals like Elizabeth Cady Stanton who were talking about universal childcare, free love, critizing the system of marriage (when she got married, she insisted that the word "obey" be dropped from the vows), and even created a "Woman's Bible".

Then there were the conservatives: the Susan B. Anthony type (which is why you hear more about Susan B. than Elizabeth - she and Sue were best friends, but Susan had to basically banish Liz from the movement because she was seen as being a "divider." Her later-year treatise about revolutionizing motherhood and womanhood were freaking out women who were quite proud and happy to stay at home and mind their husbands as per the men's version of the Bible, thank you very much). Sue ended up being more focused than Liz: in the end, she put all of her eggs in the voting basket, and campaigned for that as Liz got increasingly unpopular among conservative women.

Revolutionizing the system would have meant that radical, liberal, and conservative women would all have needed to come together and fight for a revolution: instead, the only thing the bulk of women could agree on was that if "ignorant black men" had the right to vote, *they* should have the vote too (oh yea. It was totally couched in racist language - likely because Sue was pissed at the audacity of those organizing for black men's suffrage continuing to exclude women's suffrage from the fight. As I recall, Sue and some of her more conservative contemporaries were also incredibly leery about allowing *black women* to join the women's suffrage movement; which is a great fuckup, and assists in making sense of the race division of the women's movement today).

And, of course, there was the upheaval in the 1930s caused by the Great Depression, which was likely the time in our history when the US has come the closest to switching over to socialism or marxism. The depression was seen as the "death throes of capitalism," and if Roosevelt hadn't coaxed America through it, I might have free healthcare right now. I wouldn't be making as much money (it'd all be taxed), but the public restrooms would be clean and there wouldn't be as many people hacking their lungs out on the train (this isn't an anti-Roosevelt rant. I have a deep respect for any guy that gets elected to three terms and whose character and presidency were so well liked that we had to pass the 22nd amendment to limit a president to 2 terms; he also managed to keep his country intact and running when the whole world was going to hell. I have a deep respect for Castro for similiar reasons). Instead of bloody revolution, we got more public works projects; a lot of dams, clean-up of some really backwards poor places, and - as I recall - some better railroads. We also got Timberline Lodge. How cool is that?

But we kept our electoral college. And as elections moved into the television age, it became increasingly important to be a rich, telegenic candidate (Roosevelt was no pauper, of course, but he also spent most of his time in a wheelchair - I don't know how that'd go over in the 80s).

In any case, our presidential voting system has more-or-less operated the same way for 200 years (election law changed in 1800 - electors were supposed to cast votes for both president and vice president, without saying which was which, so the person with the most votes was president, and the second most votes was VP. Jefferson and Burr were... tied). There have been some twitches (there's the potential for "rogue" electors, too), but we've stuck with the "may the richest man win" philosophy, and unlike the French, we don't change our constitution every five minutes, so we've become a conservative morass of pointing fingers that seems to be more interested in barring same-sex couples from signing legal agreements and penalizing women for allowing themselves to get pregnant (as women are wont to do).

Knowing all this stuff, I understand why people exercise their right not to vote. I can see all the bloody frustration, the being-pissed-off at a system that doesn't include you and doesn't want to talk to you. Not voting is the anarchist's "fuck you" to American government.

And it really makes conservatives happy.

My big question is this: should Liz have just withdrawn from politics all together? Knowing she was being shunned by conservative women, knowing it was a far stretch of the imagination to get all women on board to revamp divorce and marriage laws and put domestic abuse laws into place for women, should she just have stopped talking? Why fight for the vote when you're not going to revolutionize the system?

Perhaps it was best said by one of the suffragists who campaigned in the years leading up to the 1920 vote. She said something to this effect, "We were so excited to get the vote. We really thought it was going to change everything. Everything was going to be different.... but, really, it didn't change things as much as we hoped."

I have a vote. Have I changed the system with it?

There are some things I can help change, sure. I can vote democrat and protect abortion rights and protest against warmongering. On a purely selfish note, I'd like to be able to travel overseas again without knowing I've got a president who's a fucking idiot acting as the Face of America.

But the really big stuff? The universal health care? The civil rights? That stuff has to be done from the ground, because the Old Boys aren't listening. A president's going to lead from the middle. It takes a strong backbone to pull a Lyndon Johnson, who said, after he'd signed The Civil Rights Act, Johnson said "I think we’ve delivered the South to the Republican party for your lifetime and mine."

And he signed the damned thing anyway (I could add other reasons Johnson signed this bill that have nothing to do with taking a moral stand [particularly his personal campaign against the KKK, which he believed was beginning to threaten the US government] but I'm going to go with the really nice moral integrity idea, because it's just so pretty. Let me have some hope for good in the world).

To vote or not to vote.

That is the question.

My personal mantra?

When in doubt: vote.

You can always piss on a politician later.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004


Eminem has a new song out, Mosh. And you can view the video here. I'll be the first to say it's not a "great" song, but it's angry and pissed-off, and it's one of the best "go-vote" videos I've ever seen put before the Eminem target audience. It's really pretty.

And very, very angry.

I love it.

I do want to say something about Eminem - believe it or not, I'm a big fan. Yea, he's got a lot of misogyny in his songs. Lots of rage and anger, particularly directed at his mother and the mother of his daughter. There's at least one song on the three CDs of his that I have that's so incredibly woman-hating that I have trouble listening to it.


Eminem speaks to something right in my gut. That passionate anger against a society that wasn't made for me. He's trailer trash. White, yes, but no son of money. He's pissed off at everybody and doesn't know who to rail against. And he speaks right from his gut. With anger. And you can hear it in his voice.

I have respect for people who do what others believe they can't do, and do it because they love it - and use those powers for "good." Usually.

The video's a great build-up of rage against Bush, and Eminem fuels it right into the best weapon we've got next week.

Today's Alaska Pic

I'm behind on my new novel draft. Need to finish ch. 1 today. 100 pages by the 20th.

More later...

Today's Alaska Pic

I'm behind on my new novel draft. Need to finish ch. 1 today. 100 pages by the 20th.

More later...

Myst IV

Myst IV is out! Myst IV is out!

Need I say more?

I have very fond memories of lying on my mattress on the floor in my cockroach invested flat in Durban, eating brown rice w/peri-peri sauce and playing Myst III: Exile.

Those were the days.

FCC OKs Cingular bid for AT&T

I wondered why my boss was funneling stuff onto my desk this morning, and why the phone kept ringing...

Here we go:

FCC OKs Cingular bid for AT&T
Commission joins Justice Department in giving OK for $41 billion cellular deal.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said Tuesday it has conditionally approved Cingular Wireless' $41 billion cash acquisition of AT&T Wireless Services Inc., clearing the last big hurdle for the deal....

A combined Cingular and AT&T Wireless will have about 47.6 million customers in 49 states, surpassing current market leader Verizon Wireless.

This is huge.

I Love My MA School

Yet another reason I love my MA school -

I had noticed that one of the buff boxing women at my MA school, Ray - who I was partnered with once and mentioned in a post a couple months ago - had started wearing her shirt untucked during class. This was a month or so ago, and I hadn't really paid attention to it. She was still banging the crap out of shit, still jump roping, etc.

A couple weeks ago, I noticed she was doing modified situps on her side when we did medicine ball partner situps.

Huh. Weird.

Yesterday, in the changing room, it occured to me that Ray had put on twenty-five pounds in about two months (the untuck-the-shirt-trick works every time).

Hey, I thought, the only people who gain twenty-five pounds in two months are --


"Can you feel anything yet?" Saran, one of the MA veterans asked Ray as she geared up.

"Oh, are you kidding? I've been feeling things for months."

"That's cool."

"Yea. It's cool."

Ray is over four months pregnant.

And she's coming to class and continuing to kick ass.

I LOVE being alive in this century. Ask me what time period I'd choose to be born a myopic woman in, and it would be this one. If we can get over the conservative social pressure, and continue to fight for the rights we've got while expanding on them, we've potentially got an incredible power to live the sorts of lives we all want to live.

As fighting young professionals - pregnant or no - and crazy bed-hopping artists; should we so choose.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Just for You

1) Go to
2) Type in: weapons of mass destruction
3) Hit the "I'm feeling lucky" button, NOT the "Google search"
4) Read the "error message" carefully.

Someone at Google (UK) has a sense of humor.

Off to See the Wizard

So, one of our small office number is now off to Iraq. He's signed out and packed up and he'll be getting on a plane Thursday. He'll be overseeing the construction of cell phone towers. Need I mention that people like Blaine and Yellow don't believe he's qualified to do this?

Hell, who cares, right? We're bleeding our tax dollars out the ears anyway. Why not send incompetent people over there to help out so they can fuck the job up even more so we can bleed more money?

"I'll see you guys around Christmas," he said as he headed out the door --

and it was all I could do not to say, "Unless we see you on CNN first."

If anyone wants to know why the war in Iraq is costing so much, I can tell you, as our company is one of the ones contracted there. Employees get paid 2.5X their base salary (tax free), plus two plane trips home a year, and free room and board, transportation, satellite phones, and internet connections (likely through Halliburton).

I actually signed up to go with the first wave of contractors last year in June. I figured "Hey, it's our mess, we should clean it up." And 2.5X my base salary meant I'd be pulling over 90K (tax free). I have a crapload of student loans and a credit card that's maxed out every month. It was tempting.

Then things started to go to hell. And I realized nobody actually wanted us there. Not just the guys out blowing shit up, but the Iraqi contractors on the ground. I heard that local Iraqi firms were bidding on rebuilding work and US firms were coming in and charging 20-30X the amount the Iraqi firms were - and the US firms were getting the contracts.

What would it have cost the US if we hired out local contractors? It's not like Iraq is a wasteland (we haven't blown up *all* of it yet). There are cities there. Bridge builders. Telecommunications people. They *do* have cellphones there, people. And they have technicians who know how to build those things. Welcome to the 21st century. Not everybody in Iraq lives in a hide tent and hunkers over a dung fire.

So, one of ours is outta here, and I'm staying here.

But hot damn, that 90K looked good.

I understand why he went. The battle between greed and morality is ongoing.

Visualize Winning

I admit it: I got a bit teary-eyed. That alone tells you just how freaked out I am at another 4 years of international disaster and homeland fascism.

Check it out.

via Jenn.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

On Useless Weekends & Other Joys

Rolled out of bed at 7:30am on Saturday, ready to dress, shower, do some free weights, and head downtown for pilates followed by local writing jam session.

Stumbled into the kitchen and realized I really, really, didn't want to do anything at all. Stayed home, watched adventure movies, did some rewriting of what I'd done Friday (which seemed really brilliant on Friday, and looked like something I must have written while on crack by Saturday morning), and started reading The Origins of War.

Jenn did our twice-yearly book count and came up with a combined total of 1377.

There are worse addictions we could have.

The Age of Anxiety

An American just returning from five years abroad takes a look at the current US political climate:

Fearful of the present, the outside, the alien, the defender of America looks backward to a mythical golden age in Puritan New England. But now the white anglo-saxon Protestant is armoured with a computer. The culture of soft fascism cannot be reduced to the traditional bogeymen of the American left: even in its liberal years, the United States was an ardently religious country; Americans were ardent nationalists even when they fought for Europe in the two world wars. Nor is the appeal of soft fascism to be treated with simple contempt. The terror attack tripped a domestic switch about experiences of marginality that people have trouble naming and about which they can do little. Abroad, Bushism registers a wounded national honour; at home, confusion about living honourably...

For a long time the American intellectual left has been out of touch with the American people. It has spoken in the name of the people but not to them. Now, in the reconfigured landscape of economics, class and culture, however, the educated, cosmopolitan liberal is a social victor. Even the sculptor in Fanelli's struggling to make ends meet is a social victor; nobody can rob him of his work and worth.

The right has perhaps understood that victory better than the victors themselves, in giving fresh life to the taunts of "cultural elitism" aimed at the intellectual left. The attack embodies a classic dilemma: when a young man with a good degree and an expensive lap-top attacks injustice, the ordinary person feels patronised.

For the past four years, the rich and powerful in America have capitalised on just this social distance, between the cultural elite and people beset by anxieties about personal insufficiency and mutual respect. The victors have defended themselves by saying, but we are just like you, loyal Americans; the defence rings false because they aren't domestically the same. Those bewildered glances out of Fanelli's window, the knowing sniggers at Cooper Union, are signs of an inequality as ambiguous as the word "American".

Read the rest over at The Guardian

Via Jenn

Wow. What a Nightmare!

Last night, I had a nightmare that I couldn't vote. My voter registration hadn't gone through. I showed up with my registration card, to no avail. I wasn't allowed to vote, because I was a woman, and voting democrat. When I tried to get in the booth, I didn't understand the punch card, because it wasn't a punch card anymore. I was voting by touch screen. I didn't get any kind of physical receipt cataloging my vote. I was herded out of the library by smug-looking officials, and I burst into tears.

150 years of American women fighting for suffrage, and here we were again.

Gosh. I sure am glad I woke up from that nightmare.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Ah, Crossfire

Ah, Crossfire... let me count the ways...

Remember that Jazzercise instructor Jennifer Portnick who was told she was "too fat" to be one of their fitness instructors (though she'd been successfully teaching for some time, apparently), and took Jazzercise to court over it?

Well, she got to be a Crossfire debate point between Marilyn Wan (author of "Fat!So?") and radio talk-show host Neal Boortz (not sure where his authority to speak on the issue comes from) back in May. The discussion revolved around whether or not somebody who's 240lbs can "represent" the ideals of a fitness franchise.

Keyword: Fitness. Right?


CARLSON: Now you know as well as I do that most people do Jazzercise and other sorts of jumping around in front of videotapes to get thin. Now you can see the problem if you own Jazzercise -- having a 240-pound instructor's a pretty bad advertisement for your product. It implies that it doesn't work. So can't you understand why they wouldn't want to hire a 240-pound instructor?

WANN: You know, I think the fitness industry is shooting itself in the foot by marketing thinness, rather than marketing fun. When I go to Jennifer's Portnick's class, I have fun. I feel great. I get healthy. My weight doesn't change. That's not my purpose. In fact, the latest numbers show that about 37 percent of Americans are doing no exercise. And I think if we welcomed people of all different sizes into exercise classes, they might come and have fun and get healthy. Would they get thin? I don't care. I really don't think the research supports that they would.

Someday, Tucker's bow tie is going to start spinning. That will be a great day.

The kicker comes when Boortz starts offering up the rehashed American reactionary hate speech:

BEGALA: Mr. Boortz, you support laws then, right? Do you support laws that say we will force companies to hire qualified people who are black. ...

BOORTZ: Oooh, Paul, you said qualified. This girl is not qualified.

(First intimation that we're in trouble: he referred to a 38-year-old woman as a "girl." Ah. That speaks volumes, actually)

BEGALA: Do you support our civil rights laws?

BOORTZ: In some -- for some civil rights, yes. For honest civil rights, not the right to be a lard butt and lead an exercise class.

Did he just say that?

Why yes. Yes, he did.

As Wann points out, the "qualifications" for being a fitness instructor include the ability to teach an hour-long class, six days a week, sometimes back-to-back classes. Portnick is 240lbs - I'd guess she's 5'6 or so. She's formidable, yes. Does her weight impair her mobility? Not so much. Obviously. Or she wouldn't have passed the fitness tests that got her certified to be an instructor.


Now, predictably, Boortz and Carlson bring up the issue of models: models have to have a certain "look" in order to follow their profession. The argument goes that Jazzercise instructors have to "look" fit. First, I agree that models need to be a certain size - runway models all need to be the same size so they can all fit into the same outfits. They need to be a certain height for the clothes to hang properly, and they have to have "looks" that don't draw people's eyes away from the clothes. I'll give them that. But somebody who's otherwise a perfect "fit" who doesn't know how to walk down a runway (say she or he doesn't eat enough and faints halfway down the runway) isn't going to be a model, are they? (I realize I'm grasping for straws with the model thing: I've never believed it takes any sort of smarts or talent to be a model, so my natural biases are showing).

Who decides what "looks" fit? There's already a standard all instructors have to pass that shows they can successfully teach the classes. That'd be a "fit" test, right?

As someone who's been to a jazzercise franchise, I can tell you this - as a patron of such a facility, what I want to do is move around and have fun. Losing weight (at the time I went to Jazzercise, I think I was 16 or 17) was certainly a major goal for me at the time, but I realized also that just moving was good for me, and I wanted an instructor who got me through all this movement with the most fun. As a fat girl who spent most of her childhood being hounded by people of both sexes about my weight, I had (and am working to shed) a terrible fear of thin women. Thin, "hot" women were the ones who were the absolute meanest to me. They were like little devils come up from hell to torment my size. Now, of course, I realize the thin-woman backlash was so strong because I represented everything that they feared: fat; while walking around not-hungry, as many of them were. We all tend to resent those we see who aren't playing by the rules and are somehow getting through life anyway.

So, being at Jazzercise, my favorite instructor wasn't the thin little blond woman who looked like she'd curl her lip at me if I ever approached her, the one who looked like she went home and vomited up her lunch. No, my favorite instructor was the 200lb black woman with the cropped hair and big laugh and amazing sense of humor who looked like she could kick my ass. She was fit and tough, and most of that weight was muscle, with a good cozy layer of fat over it.

*That's* the instructor that kept me coming back.

I think Wan is right on when she says that places like Jazzercise are selling themselves short by promoting weight loss instead of fitness. If you're toting weight loss, people get frustrated unless they see huge results in a very short period of time - hence the success and popularity of diets like Atkins that shed weight very quickly. It gets us motivated to keep going. Unfortunately, a lot of fitness programs don't work that quickly, particualy if you're the typical American woman who's spent a lifetime going on periodic dieting and excercise binges, followed by binges of another kind. Your metabolism is gonna be screwed up. Your body's gonna be angry with you. And as you get older, that metabolism slows down.

What keeps people fit and healthy in the long run is regular excercise and a reasonable diet (throw out all that crap processed food, keep your white bread and sugar intake nil at best, very, very low at worst. STOP binge eating, for all you bingers like me). And to keep people interested in exercise, it needs to be fun. You want to go there and not feel like a fucking reject idiot, a fat loser. And when there's somebody up there who's fit and fun and inspires you to kick your ass, then Jazzercise is doing its job and making money to boot: people come back for classes with good instructors.

Jazzercise is a franchise. If the local congregation (that's the first word I thought of to describe the local clientele) really doesn't like a particular instructor, they'll let you know. The number of students will plummet. Numbers will drop off. They'll start complaining and ask for the skinny blond to take those classes over instead, and relegate the fat instructor to the crappy 3pm class.

They'll let you know if they don't like their instructor.

At my MA school, Sifu Katalin looked me in the eye when she shook my hand. Coach Fernando didn't treat me like I was a worthless idiot. As someone who's internalized a lot of the hate-against-the-fat attitudes, I was ready to fold away into the woodwork at the first sign of disgust or derision. And there was none of that. Granted, I do realize that I have an inflated sense of my own size (most women do), but it was important to be at a place where everybody was supportive.

I also realized later on that a couple of the amazons there had shed 50-70lbs over 2-3 years of classes. If the goal is weight loss, I knew I wasn't going to see it very soon, or all at once. It was gonna take a long time. But damn, was I gonna be buff on my way there. And I was going to have fun.

For the record, Sifu Dino is likely pushing 230-240 as well, and nobody's questioning *his* ability to lead martial arts and fitness classes. He could wipe the floor with every one of us.

Of course, he's a man. He's supposed to be Big and Scary.


Once again: are we toting health and fitness, or trying to get everybody into a size 2?

Tell me again why it's so important for all of to look the same?

Oh. Yea. So jerks don't call us "lard butt" on national television.

What is this, grade school?

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Crappy Writers and Crappiness in General

Got another couple flat rejects from agents for crappy query letters for fantasy saga book 1 (6 months turnaround for one of them - for a *query* letter).

"You're a crappy writer I've never heard of. I can't sell three copies of this frickin' crap you crappy writers keep pitching. Fuck off."

Why do I do this shit, again?

Oh, that's right: cause I'm going to write books anyway. I may as well try and sell the goddamn things.

I'm going to rent some movies and drink something.

I've got another novel to work on tomorrow.

Choking on My Morning Coffee:

via atrios

Check out: Spring Break Fallujah

And Notes of All Sorts

Today's mixed bag:

Sarah Michelle Gellar, Buffy in the long-running Vampire Slayer TV series and star of the coming The Grudge, wants to follow Pierce Brosnan as the next 007.

The star says: "I don't see why Bond shouldn't be played by an actress. Everybody else seems to be talked up for the role but so far no female has been considered!"

Go Sarah.

In other news, MSN is helpfully trying to help out poor Men who have this terrible, terrible problem:

Do I intimidate women?
I’m very successful in my career and earn a high salary. Since I’m 43 and never married, I have been able to buy many luxuries for myself unlike many of my colleagues who are married with children. I have a beautiful loft in a posh downtown neighborhood, wear a leather coat in the winter, vacation at spas and top resorts around the world, and my business card says “President.”

However, despite all this, I am usually quite lonely and would love to meet the right woman. When I go on dates, I rarely get a second, and my friends have told me that it’s because I intimidate women. I have dated a range of women from CEOs to secretaries but have not found someone secure enough to pursue me. How can I find a woman who is comfortable with what I’ve achieved?

NOT. Luckily, Amanda puts `em straight.

Speaking of keeping things straight, check out for some fun facts (and some really, really good TV spots) about putting the marriage rights issue into perspective. The deeper I drudge into the politics of gay marriage, the more pissed off I get. The spots take awhile to download: I recommend "Threats" and "Permission" (the Sex Toy one is apparently not work safe...).

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Polyamory is Just Wrong

"... She explained polyamory to her mother-in-law, whose response was "That's just wrong.... It should be either multiamory or polyphilia, but this mixing of Greek and Latin roots? No. Wrong."

I love people.

via metaquotes

Today's Alaska Pic

OK, my chiklits.

New book writing starts in earnest today. I've got a wacky-strict schedule of 3-5 pages a day, so I've gotta get cracking. Taking Friday off as a writing day - I do my best writing from about 7pm-2am. Likely going to go ahead and start the Saturday cafe writing days with local writers as well. It'll get me off my ass.

150 Punches

Had boxing class last night with Sifu Dino. It's only the second time I've worked with him, and you know, I suppose there's always gotta be one semi-evil instructor at an MA school.

First, I do want to say that I was in a brutal woman mood last night, and if he was really all bad, I would have walked out. He's an OK instructor and knows his shit, but I wasn't in the mood for shit last night. If Coach Fernando is Mr. Miyagi, Sifu Dino is John Kreese the Evil Cobra Kai Sensei.

So the goal was to work the bag for two minutes, then throw 150 punches in 30 seconds, which gets you to the "over five punches a second" level. He told us to keep track, and at the end of 30 seconds, we called out our scores (I was 101 - just over 3 punches a second). One guy forgot to keep track, and Sifu Dino goes. "Then we do it again. Let's go. You guys think I'm kidding?"

And we did it again.

Not bad in itself. Good discipline crap (or good at teaching people to lie, anyway).

Then we got paired up, and as we had an odd number of guys, and I was the tallest woman, I was paired with a guy. I like being paired up with guys because I think it's more realistic. If I get in a fight, it's more likely I'm going to be dealing with a guy.

At the end of the round, Sifu Dino was pacing the ranks of partners and yelled, "90 seconds! We're not playing patty-cake here, people! You guys can exchange numbers after you're done! What, you guys think you're on a date!"

If you wanna piss me off, play the kiddie-date card.

Come over here, you slimy son of a bitch, I thought, and I'll kick the shit out of you (of course, rationally, this guy would wallop me with his little finger, but seething anger isn't rational).

Fucking. Stupid. Piece. Of. Shit.

I wacked the crap out of the mitts, and got some tap shots from my partner, something else that also pissed me off. Sifu Dino didn't tell us to grab our mouthpieces before doing mitt work, then had our partners smack at our faces after each punching combo (so we could work on blocks). This is a good drill, because you gotta get used to getting hit in the face - or, ideally, get used to *blocking* someone hitting you in the face. But he kept telling everybody to hit harder, which means I'm getting my face walloped without wearing a mouth piece. Which pisses me off. I have really good teeth, and I'd like to keep them that way, and avoid getting my lip split for no good reason (real sparring would be another matter, of course).

So we end the round, and he gives another little crass date-phone-numbers line, and my irrational self was just absolutely seething.

My rational self knew that mine was the only mixed-sex pair, and the comments weren't personal, and the fact that they were pissing me off so much was because I'd gotten so pissed off about that Ladder Theory crap that I ranted about earlier in the day. When I'm pissed, little bullshit things can set me off.

This was a little bullshit thing, and I was pissed.

Bashing on the mitts after the Sifu's haughty little lines, I got echoes of other voices, groups of guys talking about women like our sole purpose is that of penis-sheath and sperm dumpster, idiot guys and jerk girls telling me I'd failed to be a "real girl" because I didn't look right, dress right, eat right. People telling me I was too tall, took up too much space, talked too much.

And all those crappy voices saying: you can't. You can't. You can't. Can't. Can't. CantCANTCANTCANTCANT.

Fuck. You. You. Stupid. Piece. Of. Shit.

Men have this "freak-out hysterical women" stereotype that seems to baffle them. "Hormones," they say. Something instrinsically womanish. They're part right, but not for the reason they think. Highschool age girls especially will burst into tears for apparently no reason. They'll freak out about what seems to be a totally innocent comment. A lot of this is trying to find some kind of outlet, some kind of release. Women are allowed to cry. Men aren't. They're given other avenues to express their displeasure at the system. You've got a culture and often, a social circle, that's banging you on the head telling you how to be now that you've passed through puberty and get forced to look at yourself as a gender instead of a person (and using sex/social attractiveness as reward for good behavior as you get older), and you've got no idea how to handle it. Guys explode into adolescent violence and/or start to worry about how to gain sex points. And women... and women...

I keep getting told "can't."

Men wouldn't want to screw around with me, my elders consoled. I wasn't the sort of woman men would screw around with. I was the sort they married.

But. Wait. That's supposed to make me feel better? I don't want to get married! I want to hang out with guys who are my friends! I want to hang out with good people! I don't want my entire social life to revolve around a husband! I don't want people to look at me like some sort of sex-point meter!

It's OK that you're a fat girl. Fat girls can be smart. Just be a smart fat girl. You know that stereotype, right?

But.. but... I wanna fight! And smart girls don't get laid!

You're not supposed to want to get laid. You're supposed to want to get married.

Who says so?

You can't go to South Africa. 1 in 3 rape rate. You can't buy a one-way ticket to Alaska, you've never been there. You can't jump off the bridge at Molten Falls - girls don't do that.

Can't. Can't. Can't.

Fuck you.

WHAM! SMACK! BASH! I'll show you my dating behavior, you slimy prick!

The thing I *really* spent my college years learning was this: it's all bullshit. It's all make-believe. When I hear other people say "can't" or my own little socialized self monitor freaks out and goes, "You can't. You're a girl," I ask myself this: If you were a guy, would you do it?

Funny, how merely altering my gender makes me so much bolder, and makes so many decisions so much easier. Take my womb and my fertility out of the question, and it's almost like I can have the autonomy of a "real" person (read: a man). I always wonder what it would have been like, to be raised like a guy. To not have been so afraid about the sex=pregnancy thing, the onrushing hordes of potential rapists (read: sex=pregnancy and of course sex=AIDS=Death), the constant hammering about serial killers stalking women, the concern about who's handing me a drink at a party, who my partner could potentially be talking to about bedroom antics, whether or not people thought I was a slut and therefore a low-class outcast, to not always have to consider my fertility as being my sole goal and purpose in life, to not measure my corporeal form by those of plastic people and place my entire self-worth on it.

It would be different. Other worries, of course - I would have gotten into WAY more fights if I was a guy - but different worries, and I believe, not nearly so pervasive, or so tied up in my physical body and its fits and starts, it's physical attributes and manifestations. Nobody would be passing legislation on my womb. Nobody would be threatening to rape me if I didn't have sex with them (unless I was in prison, or the military). In fact, I would have no stigma around rape at all, really.

It would be a different sort of world all together.


The good news is, I felt a lot better after class.

I need to buy a punching bag.

Jon Stewart is My Secret Boyfriend

"They said I wasn't being funny. And I said to them, 'I know that, but tomorrow I will go back to being funny, and your show will still blow.' "

Also, the always entertaining crime/mystery writer John Rickards has got a post up about why American-setting crime novels are far more interesting than boring British ones. Some good points about the differences in the policing of Britian and the US that amused me.

Kerry's ahead at electoral-vote - looks like Florida is gonna get to decide the election again. Damn Floridians (current company excepted, of course). Speaking of politics, my brother also pointed me to an article from FOX news about the 11,000 British people who wrote to the swing state of Ohio and tried to get everybody to vote for Kerry. Because they're Americans, Ohioans WROTE BACK:

"Have you not noticed that Americans don't give two shits what Europeans think of us? Each email someone gets from some arrogant Brit telling us why to NOT vote for George Bush is going to backfire, you stupid, yellow-toothed pansies ... I don't give a rat's ass if our election is going to have an effect on your worthless little life. I really don't. If you want to have a meaningful election in your crappy little island full of shitty food and yellow teeth, then maybe you should try not to sell your sovereignty out to Brussels and Berlin, dipshit. Oh, yeah - and brush your goddamned teeth, you filthy animals."
Wading River, NY

Please be advised that I have forwarded this to the CIA and FBI.
United States

Ah, America. Full of loving tolerance. Friends of the UN (after all, we created it). Fun-loving neighbors to all. But here's the kicker point, which I think well-meaning Brits should have considered before beginning their writing campaign:

I just read a hilarious proposal to involve your readership in the upcoming US presidential election. At least, I'm hoping that it is genius satire. Nothing will do more to undermine the Democratic cause in Ohio than having patronising Brits wander around Clark County telling people how to vote. Just, for a second, imagine if the Washington Post sent folks from Ohio to do the same in Oxfordshire. I'm saying this as a Democrat, and as someone who has spent the last few years in the UK. That is, with all due respect. Please, please, be rational, and move slowly away from the self-defeating hubris.
United States

And, also via Empire of Dirt, here's some more Wednesday wackery.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

So. You Get Laid. Then What?

Ah, Vincent forwarded me a site to piss me off. Sweet boy.

This is a damn funny little site. Let's just say that up front. I was giggling much of the time. What wasn't so amusing was going to the sites' forums and watching boys trying to learn how to "treat women like bitches so they'll respect you" game.

For those who don't know it, here's an introduction to Ladder Theory:

Every time you meet someone (let's talk purely about hetero attraction here, and working on the assumption that when we meet someone, they're default "straight" if we're straight), you rate them based on their fuckability. That is, men rate women like this.

Every time a man meets a woman, he puts her on his fuckability ladder and rates her by how much he wants to have sex with her.

To sum up:

1. The people men really want, who may even be out of their league, are on top (celebrities, models, etc)
2. Then come the people men like (that hot cheerleader)
3. Moving further down men pass the people who men would fuck if they were intoxicated and would admit to doing it later (the fat funny chick)
4. At the bottom are the people men would fuck drunk, and would lie about doing it later (the ugly ho-bag who sucks off all the football players)

We’ve all been beaten over the head this again and again - men are ONLY looking to fuck anything that moves. Their penultimate goal is to move their fuckery "up the ladder" - so a man’s goal is to always be banging a hotter chick than the one he was banging the day before.

(For the record, I’ve never met a guy who was having sex with one woman one night and another woman the next night. Except for maybe one of the theatre slut-boys back in highschool. And he has since retired. I think he works at a gas station now.)

Fucking lots of women will get men status points (hence the “up the ladder” analogy). Will this mentality get him peace and prosperity? Well, not likely. But other guys'll wanna suck his dick too, cause he’s so cool.

To sum up: men rate women based on how fucking that woman will move them up in social status.

and women apparently rate men like this.

"The first thing to notice here is that a woman has not one, but two ladders. This is becasue in addition the normal ladder, a woman also has a friends ladder. The friends ladder is where a woman puts guys that she considers "just friends". More to the point where she puts guys who don't get to have sex with her."

Um. Yea.

“Well most guys know that women dig guys with money. Would Donald Trump be fucking models if he wasn't rich? That question is rhetorical. Now I don't even believe this is wrong, I think it is just nature. But I also think women who are this way (and it is almost all of you) should be honest and admit that they are basically whores, and stop saying bad things about the so-called "actual whores" who are just trying to earn an honest living.”


To sum up: women will only have sex with a guy they believe will increase their social status. Because a woman’s social status is measured differently than a man’s, she’ll be more likely to sleep with a rich or powerful man.

Do I even need to add that this theory was concocted by a bitter guy, so it's a little loopy? He's trying really hard to understand women, and why some women won't sleep with him, but will sleep with Outlaw Bikers and Rich Guys, hence the huge Money/Power pie piece in the women's attraction pie chart.

There's some problems with this. Let me suggest something.

Men are always on the lookout for the "hottest" chick, right? Sure. Let’s go with that myth. But let’s owe up to what being with the “hottest” chick is really about, OK? It’s not biology. Let’s stop right there. If it was about biology, a guy wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about who was on his arm, so long as it was female. If sex was really all about procreation (ha), then guys wouldn’t give a shit about who they were screwing so long as she had the requisite 35lbs of extra body fat for the production of children.

I’m sorry? What’s that, you say? Women can’t get pregnant unless they’ve got 10% body fat? What? But, if fat women are more fertile, shouldn’t fat women be “the hottest chick”?

Shhhhhhh! Don’t tell people that beauty is a cultural construct! Keep convincing people to feel bad about being attracted to “imperfect” people! If we tell them it’s OK to be attracted to the people they’re attracted to, everyone’s going to realize that they can get laid and have really warm, cozy partners without investing in cosmetics and plastic surgery, and then where would the economy be?

So a man wants to walk into a room with a "hot" chick on his arm. “Hot” meaning our conceptions of “hot” as illustrated by Britney Spear and her clones.

A man with a hot chick on his arm gets big Alpha Male status points. Screwing better-looking women has to do with status points, not the viability of his sperm in her body. This is social. Not biological. See above reasons.

In order to perpetuate this lurid cycle, women in our society still often grow up believing that their bodies are their ticket to success. If women are already good-looking and not so great in school, they learn that their best ticket out of Nowheresville is to attract a rich guy to support them. Or a powerful guy who can drive them out of Nowheresville. Hence the Outlaw Biker. So all of a woman’s time and energy goes into “perfecting” her body so she becomes the “hot chick” ideal.

Men are told to consider women just bodies, commodities (which is reinforced by talking with these "hot" women and discovering that in order to stay "hot" their main topics of conversation revolve around the associated obsessions: diet, manicures, and makeup), and men respond to women in kind.

Lovely little vicious circle, isn't it?

And I'd argue that it's NOT inherently "natural" or "the way things are" or that "all women are bitches" and "nice guys end up being a woman's intellectual whore." Our narrator enlightens us on how poor, defenseless men are being "used" by women as "intellectual whores":

"Later in life I started encountering a certain breed of woman. To begin with they never wanted to sleep with me. Now, this by itself is okay--not all women will want to sleep with me. However, this particular breed wanted to have me around to talk to and to make them laugh, because I was so "entertaining" and "funny." Some of them went so far as to describe our relationship as that of "friends", and a few even had the audacity to talk to me about problems they had with other guys."

There's some whoring in there. But not much intellectualism.

Our narrator also believes that women can't be intellectual whores, because no man would be crazy enough to talk to a girl who would never have sex with him. This is a boo-hoo why-won't-women-have-sex-with-me rant (cause you're an asshole?). Men apparently don't like to keep women around who they won't have sex with. So if a guy is hanging out with you but appears to be sexually uninterested, he's gay, find you repulsive and is sober, or he "has someone higher on the ladder already. If you haven't read the ladder theory, then if the guy thinks you are beneath him."

Now, I'm not going to argue against the idea that we often estimate our sexual chances and/or interest in someone when we first meet them. But I will argue that women are a lot more keen on sex than anybody gives us credit for, and all men aren't dumb enough to cast off female friendships just cause she says "no." The ones who are, of course, women are better off without.

The problem is, women have a lot of other factors going into the sex-or-no-sex decision besides money and power (damn, this guy loves that money and power thing. He must be a poor college student). And we have the big divider, which is why I think there's so much confusion over sex between the sexes -

Men learn that if a woman likes him, she'll have sex with him. Women learn that if a guy likes them, they'll talk to them and hang out with them. Guys are expected to have sex with anybody. It’s no compliment to a woman for a guy to want to have sex with you.

I'm going to repeat that: I find nothing flattering about a man's wanting to have sex with me. I don't gain any sense of personal pride or fulfillment having sex with a total stranger or somebody I don't really give a shit about.

But men are taught that getting into bed with a woman is akin to "winning" something. They "score". They're somehow more macho, better, more "manly" (whatever the hell that is), and a man's status will almost always go up when he gets laid (even if it's the fat funny chick - the shame comes when he tries to start a relationship with the fat chick, but I'll get to that in a minute). Whereas a woman's status is more likely to go down depending on the number and type of her sexual partners. Meaning she's going to be a lot more selective. Otherwise, she's a "whore" and do I even have to talk about all the negative connotations of that label? How it’ll likely open her up to sexual assault, et al? Women have to worry about getting pregnant, and how well their chosen partner will support that should the time come. We have to worry about guys running around starting rumors about us and trying to screw up our social status. Sex is fun. All types of it. Not just the penetrative kind. Women love sex. It’s great.

But we’ve got a shitload more on our shoulders than guys do.

Let's take, for example, me (I'm a bad example, but let's just go there). I'm bad at casual dating, so pretty much all of the guys I meet get automatically slapped into the "friends" pile or "one-night fuckable" pile (that is, he's damn hot but there's no way he would date me, but if I ever got him drunk and had the chance, I'd totally have sex with him, because even if he does like me and thinks I’m cool, I view myself as physically inferior, and he won’t be able to take me home to meet the friends and family without getting a negative social reaction).

As a general rule, guys stay in the friends pile until they start indicating an interest in me that's beyond "friends." Most guys don't bother, because I don't give them much to work with. For those who do, I'll either respond in kind, or give that "kiss of death" line - hey, you're cool, but let's just hang out.

Now, why would I say this? Does it mean I don't want to have sex with him?

Not neccessarily (though let's not be hasty - women have the "repulsive slob I wouldn't touch even when drunk" category too).

What it means is that I'm not interested in pursuing anything long-term with him. I don't have sex with men I'm not interested in hanging out with in the long term (generally - see my rules above). I'm very bad at not getting attached to people, which means I have trouble with casual sex, so I don't do it. You're my friend (we hang out and laugh and there's no sex) or my boyfriend (we hang out and laugh and there's sex). And, to bust down this bizarre myth people keep building up around men - another big reason I don't screw around casually with guys (particularly guy friends, unless they've become boyfriends, meaning I want to form a longer-term partnership) is that guys I get intimate with are often looking for some kind of longer-term commitment from me.

Whoa. Yea. Imagine that. Men who want to be in relationships. Shit, we better not talk about that. About how men's dependency on sex actually has a lot to say about weakness. If my identity was so integrally tied to having a bazillion of female sexual partners, I'd be a virulent misogynist too.

Huh. There's that circle again.

I'd like to come back to the intellectual whore idea. Ladder Theory posits that men really hate talking to women unless they're going to get laid. The woman has to "pay" for his attention by allowing him to penetrate her body.

WTF??? Can you say, fucked-up male assumption of privilege, much?

I love talking to all sorts of people I'm not having sex with. Most guys don't have sex with each other, but they talk all the time. And I sure as hell would find it offensive if every time somebody listened to me or read one of my books, they expected to be able to punch me in the eye without reprecussions.

So, can only a man be an intellectual whore? No. I've made a living out of it. And I know a bazillion women who do the same. They're the one the guy calls to get "female advice" about his girlfriend. They're the one they call when they're depressed, angry, envious, scared, and sometimes, when they feel sexually incompetent in bed and want advice. If I had to tell you the amount of times I had to listen to Hot Guy #4 tell me about his problems with his girlfriend, I'd be here all night.

Here's the deal about guys and dating. Because for some reason, this ladder thing doesn't talk about dating. Just fucking. Which is way, way easier and less complex. What I want to know is, after a guy get's laid, then what? You take your "getting laid" points and move on. While some girls have to freak out about who he's gonna tell, and does a one-night-stand make her slut, and if she's a slut, will anyone ever treat her like a real human being ever again?

This is shit women shouldn't have to worry about.

I learned the weird part of intellectual whoredom really early. In the 4th grade, I lusted (as much as a 4th grader can lust) after a beautiful Aryan boy who quite literally must have dated every girl in our fourth grade class but me. Though I wasn't so sure what "dating" meant to him, because he was spending all of his recess and class time talking to me about the stories I was writing. We talked about religion and Stephen King. When he broke up with his next girlfriend, I was twitter-paited, and stood expectantly waiting in the wings.

Instead, he chose the next chick on his list.


Cause I wasn't a "real girl." He wanted to out with a “chick.” With the “proper” sort of girl.

What, exactly, is a "fake" girl?

Fake girls are the girls you like but can't date. And - they're the boys you really like but can't date because you're afraid of what everyone else will think.

I was a chubby little dork with glasses. Aryan boys might like hanging out with me, but they can't show up to dinner parties with me. I chose not to mold my body into a commodity, and chose to be myself instead. I’ve spent twenty-four odd years working on the sorts of commodities that’ll last me past middle-age, not the ones I’ll have to mold with plastic surgery. In part, this is because I managed to get out of the “I view myself as a commodity” mode.

In any case, it was all for the best, because I would later learn that Aryans were pretty, but not very interesting (I, too, was locked into the "people I'm supposed to be attracted to" mentality), and have since come to terms with my personal desires, as already discussed.

But most people have a bitch of a time with it.

Guys get into trouble for going out with fat girls, or for actually caring about "sluts." And gals get razzed for hanging out with "losers" and "dorks." Or, say, for being attracted to guys who are smaller than they are.

The social harassment net is already in place.

So, listening to this guy bitch about his ladder theory and all the Hot Chicks who wouldn't fuck him, I could certainly sympathize. Men get points for # of fucks, not oozy-relationships, even if that's what they really want. So what do we have to hear about all the time from the monstrously masculine? How much they wanna fuck women. Stay home and masturbate then! If it's all about ejaculation, stay home and get off my fucking porch.

Unless. It's. Not. About. Merely. Getting. Off.

Oops. Did I write that?

It's about Alpha Points. And, I think, the stuff that men refuse to owe up to - they want to be wanted. A woman having sex with a man means she *must* like them. They receive validation in the bedroom. They feel like "real" men instead of boys or losers or dorks. They want to be touched. Is it ever meaningless sex?

But I also saw that our narrator didn't understand that women's choices about sex are much more constrained than men's, and that because of the different gendered weight given to sex, we just don't get all of the same things out of it that guys do. And let me be clear - I think guys are getting gyped with the whole "must have meaningless sex with as many women as possible" mentality, too. As a woman, why aren't I encouraged to collect men like postage stamps and use them to give myself a sense of confidence and power?

Cause then we'd have to start talking more about sex and power. Go run around those intellectual whore forums on this guys’ site, and you'll find men who believe that women are in charge of the world, that rape is a myth and all women use their sexuality to emasculate men. I'm not sure what statistics they've seen, but I know bitterness when I read it. Why is the number one question among men: how can I get this woman to fuck me? and the number one question among women: how can I get this man to like me?

Because, I think, we're talking about the same thing.

We want to be liked. And we've been given different standards for what that means. Men like the fucking thing because they believe it gives them control over women. Women like the "emotional tie" thing because they believe it gives them some modicum of control over men (and the sorts of rumors they'll spread outside the bedroom).

So, no. I don't think women and men have different ladders. I don't think all women are Evil Bitches and all men are Sluts.

I think we're a bunch of people who want to be liked, and we have no idea how to go about it because we're locked in the messages being pushed at people of our sex, and having trouble putting ourselves into the shoes of the other sex, and seeing what's being shoved into their faces about what "true masculinity" or being a "good woman" really means.

And I feel that bullshit pop-culture sites like this perpetuate the "men and women are soooooo different that they'll constantly and forever hate each other and not get along!" myth.

And they piss me off.

Monday, October 18, 2004

I Love Geeks

Oh, my geeks. Let me count the ways...

Continuing Worklife... And the Beat Goes On

At aforementioned lunch with boss, I was reassured that we're all sitting on our hands waiting for the FCC to approve the merger between Cingular and AT&T that went down earlier this year.

When that happens, telecommunications work should absolutely explode - next year is gonna be a bitch, and you better bet that I'm going to be asking for a raise. We're bidding on a ton of work, and as it's common knowledge that Cingular's going to be doing integration AND upgrading at the same time, I'll just point that out here. Read: LOTS OF WORK. Combine the Cingular sites with AT&T sites, and you get 30,000 cell phone tower sites ready for upgrading... and a bunch of smaller carriers in the wings who'll have to follow suit if they want to remain competitive.

So until the FCC approves the deal (and they have another 85 day period in which to do so), I will continue to remain here, sitting on my hands, reading, War in the Shadows: The Guerrilla in History, and writing novels.

And blogging.

It's a living.

The Karate Kid and the Rules of Attraction

So, writing what I write, and studying what I study, I'm often perplexed at the sorts of people I'm attracted to, and the one's I'm not (and I spend a good deal of time interrogating these desires or lack thereof). Over at Ex-Gay Watch, there's a post about "enraged ex-gays" who got pissed at Kerry's blip about Lynne Cheney being "born gay." I think the ex-gay movement is a load of puritanical, totalitarian crap, so I haven't bothered ranting about it (really. There's just no need). But today I found that one of the advocates of "altering behavior" has this to say:

"We all have a choice to do what is best, and with regard to acting on my homosexual feelings and inclinations, I did not choose God's best for me or for society when I chose to act upon them," Chambers wrote. "However, I did finally choose to live beyond those feelings and today I am not a homosexual nor am I tempted to be one."

Notice he doesn't say "my homosexual feelings and inclinations have gone away!" nor does he say, "I find women irresistably sexually attractive!" He says he's stopped "acting" on his desires. Which, of course, we can all do.

We can stop eating food, too, and starve ourselves. Doesn't mean it's good for us.

Coercing people into relationships with people they aren't attracted to is grotesque. And it's horrible to be the poor, dumb "quick fix" woman or man who gets to be in a relationship with somebody who isn't attracted to them in the least. That's not fair to you. And sure as hell ain't fair to them.

Having spent far more time outside of sexual relationships than within them, I've had lots of time to interrogate my sexuality. Being in my early 20s is about the right time for that sort of searching. I started to pay more attention to who I was attracted to, and when, and I noticed that I was attracted to certain types of people, and - in particular - certain physical types of men. I was also able to acknowledge the fact that, yes, on occasion, I found myself twitter-paited over boyish girls - I once had to get off the train a stop early because I couldn't stop staring at a short-haired female cello player who couldn't have been 20. It doesn't happen often, but it's neat when it does, and I've learned to owe up to it and say, "Well, that's human sexuality for you." And move on. My wandering gaze still falls on boys 98% of the time, and I identify as being hetero (see why I hate all these labels?). The intensity of my attraction for certain boys is one I oftentimes find staggering.

My own personal angst, however, is that I always feel I'm not attracted to the "right" type of boys.

Ah. You're expecting to hear that I like bad boys, right? Big, brutish, dangerous men with tattoos and prison records?

Uh. No.

My father's biggest grumble about my choices was this: "When are you going to bring home a Real Man?"

My boss is a former football player - 6ft tall, 230lbs - and attractive in a corn-fed, Midwestern football player way. He's funny, nice, simple, polite, and easy going. He makes oodles of money, isn't yet 35, and owns three houses. And I sat at lunch with him the other day and pondered for the dozenth time, "Why aren't I attracted to this guy?"

I ask myself this question a lot, because Blaine's the sort of guy I could see my dad gleefully fawning over.

But the guy just doesn't do it for me. In the least.

What are these "non" men that my wandering gaze locks onto, these strange "non" men who I long to take home and tumble into bed?

Oh, they're the scrawny dorks.

The tall and skinny guys, or the short and stocky guys. The nerdy little guys with the PhDs and glasses. All those guys who got beat up in highschool. Little guys who read books. I'm even quite partial to men several years younger than me.

Perish the thought.

I picked up The Karate Kid last night, feeling some 80s nostalgia, and thought, "Hot damn, I would have loved to date that kid when I was 16! Why isn't it totally obvious to him that Elizabeth Shue is totally hot on him?"

And I realized just how crappy Hollywood movies have become with their portrayal of plastic people who all look the same. Early on in the movie I caught myself thinking in an offhand way, "Man, Elizabeth Shue is looking kinda chunky, and that kid's a total cutie, but should he really be *so* skinny for this movie? I mean, he *is* the male lead."

I jerked myself out of this reverie and realized what I was doing. 90s beauty standards on an 80s movie - Elizabeth Shue isn't bigger than a size 6, and Ralph is totally the guy I was crazy about in high school and was terrified to approach because I always outweighed him by 40 or 50lbs. What 90s movie blockbuster pairs a wimpy-looking boy hero with a normal-weight female lead?

I mean, besides Titanic.

Come to think of it, Titanic exploded at the box office. But I digress. That rant is for another day.

Instead, what I'm getting fed from the media are the sorts of boys I'm *supposed* to find attractive. Like Russell Crow and Ben Affleck (yuck and double yuck). Get me Christian Bale and Orlando.

Actually. No. Stop there. Before I get carried away.

Those boys don't have grad degrees. I wonder what they read? Does Bale wear glasses? I know they've got acting passion, but how big are their home libraries? (books, not movies)

These are very important attraction coupons.

Oh. But. Well. There's still that image problem. The image problem being the Sex in the City monstrous dimorphism of the sexes thing.

I definately outweigh Orlando, and Bale's gotten emaciated to the point where I refuse to watch his concentration-camp chic in The Machinist.

Women are small and thin. Men are tall, butch (or fem gay), and broad-shouldered. Very rarely will you catch a male/female of the same height (and rare-to-never will she be taller than him, unless it's played for comedy), and never-ever-ever will you see a woman paired with a man she outweighs. Ever.

In real life, however...

Being a media whore who's very plugged into media images via movies and internet (not a big tv fan, as I glut out on it pretty easily), I'm well aware of the sorts of men I should be attracted to. And after a lot of stupid first dates and some awful second and third dates, I've also come to the conclusion that I'm not attracted to those sorts of men.

Lucky for me, nobody's interpreted a Bible passage that says I can only be attracted to big butch guys who manage their lives around football.

Very lucky for me indeed.

Granted, they've found one that says I should be my husband's property.

But again, I digress.

I certainly could have sex with someone I wasn't really attracted to. I could hop into bed with him. I could have kids with him. I might even have affection for him. Sure, sex would always be a chore. Sure, I'd never get that gut-warming physical spike of desire, let alone the insatiable I MUST HAVE YOU NOW!! kind when I was with him. And sure, I would always be reaching out toward other people, perpetually thwarted, with no hope for release.

But hey, it'd look good on TV right? I'd drop down to 130lbs and turn into an obsessive-compulsive, he'd go to the gym to bulk up every day, and we'd eat raw eggs. I'd dress in spangly dresses and high heels and he'd wear an Armani suit and keep his hair short, and we'd pose for pictures, and everybody at dinner parties would sigh over us and our visual sexual perfection. You could put a picture of us on billboards and announce to all those struggling men and women out there, "You too can find the person our society most deems fit for you to be paired with!"

We could even start a series of workshops teaching women and men how to be attracted to properly proportioned partners. Oops. Wait. We already do that. There are thousands of self-help books about just that. And blah blah blah, like forming this mystical perfect couples for family photos is the be-all and end-all of existence. We'd continue to teach women to be smaller, and stigmatize them if they're not, and we'd continue to teach men to be bigger and angrier and more "dominant" (read: abusive/controlling). Because we all have to fit into our little crappy boxes.

Not attracted to the person everyone else thinks you should be?

Too bad for you. You get to be celibate for the rest of your life.

I expect my government to stay out of *my* bedroom when there are consenting adults involved. And they should stay out of everybody else's.

Tomorrow, they're going to be choosing your partners for you.

And that's not the country I signed up for.

What's Up With The Writing Life

Spent this weekend doing worldbuilding work and boning up on my war reading. Book 2 of the fantasy saga (Over Burning Cities) has got some serious invasions coming up, and I'm pitting two war commanders against one another who're both supposed to be really good. This means I need a better handle on each army's composition and logistics, and I'm stealing battle plans and maneuvers - because good writers steal.

I've decided to work through the H-War reading list (I've just subscribed to the H-War discussion list - hell, I'm on a South African history discussion list and a SF/F feminist fiction list, why not one more?), as I was only able to cross out a handful of general books and my goodie Alexander books (because, as previously ranted about, they don't have any book about war and women, or war and constructions of masculinity or war and... you get the idea). Research means Saturdays at the library, and there's something great about being back in research mode. I've been so busy trying to make ends meet this year (you know - affording food, housing), that I haven't set aside much research time outside of the internet. I love it. I'm allowing myself two more days of prep time for Jihad, and then I've got a really strict writing schedule until February.

Busy winter months coming up.

In other news, I'm stuck at 3 MA classes a week instead of 4. The week before last, I had a hacking cough and thought I was gonna die, so I did 3 days (up from 2 days) and took Thursday off to go straight home and sleep. Last week, my Wednesday class left me so tired and sore the next day that I once again opted to go straight home and sleep. Yea, I realize it probably makes more sense to work up gradually - two days a week to three, do three days for a couple months, then move to four - but you know, I'm ambitious. And there's only a two-days-a-week rate and an "unlimited classes" rate, and you know, I figure I'm paying out the ass for this already - I should be getting my money's worth.

Oh, and I picked up a new pair of jeans yesterday, and I can officially say that I've dropped two very neccessary sizes this year, getting me back to a very reasonable pre-South Africa size that's quite comfortable. Because I'm looking to increase my fighting mobility, I'd like to drop another 2 sizes over the next year - and then I'm done. No way am I getting smaller than that. If that happens, I'm upping my calorie count.

I have such a funny fear of fading away. I quite enjoy radiating intimidating amounts of fleshy health.



Ok. You've read the transcript. Now you have to see the video clip of Jon Stewart kicking Crossfire's ass. It's amazing. Truly. The sad part? They could have taken him up on his rant. They could have spent the whole half hour talking about media integrity and theatre - instead, the hosts tried very hard to make Stewart be "funny." Stewart realized he was on CNN - not Comedy Central - but Crossfire was hosting an entertainment show, not news. It's cool to see the way Stewart chose to play it - a lot of lines that you read as being "funny" in the transcript had some dead-pan delivery. Great stuff.

And, for your continued mixed-bag enjoyment, check out this stellar BORG My Little Pony. It so totally rocks. I'm so going to commission one of these things once I've got a real house. Check out the abode of the MLP customizer here.

And, for those tired of the same-old-pumpkin this year (I carved Pumpkin the Mighty this weekend), check out these Xtreme pumpkins and hack, drown, dress, and roll over this year's Great Pumpkin.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Latest Book

Next book, working title JIHAD

About 80,000 words

Part One – November 20th
Part Two – December 20th
Part Three – January 20th

Complete Draft 1: February 1st

Overview (very, very tentative)

Nasheen is a society that violently emerged from a strictly conservative Judeo-Christian sort of religious background that had brutal social rules regarding the roles of the sexes. Some deserts and ancient runes and irrigation canals and etc. Magic was always taught according to what practices were appropriate for each sex. Hermaphrodites were considered abominations, homosexuality was outlawed and punishable by death, adultery was a crime punishable by death, women walked around in purdah and weren’t permitted leave the house without a male escort, polygamy was the practice of the day, prayer occurred six times every day, and everyone lived by strict adherence to the authority of a prophet/monarch. This all went to hell when the war between Nasheen and its neighbor, Chenja, became desperate.

Most of the men were dead and famine was coming. The government and prophet/monarch were corrupt. Women took the lead and trained for the frontlines. They worked as guerilla fighters, left children and old women at home to care for younger children and work in the fields, and managed to hold the border mostly on their own. They had to start learning magic relegated to the opposite sex, and with the help of a very talented and charismatic woman named Neive, they managed to gain some ground.

Religious texts began to be interpreted more and more liberally in order to allow for this dramatic and necessary change, women began stepping up into government positions left open by husbands and brothers, and when the girls left at home got into their teens, they got interested in politics, banded together with some of the pissed-off soldiers who blamed the prophet for the death of their comrades, husbands, sons, and mothers, and stormed the palace and tore the prophet apart.

Neive was elected hereditary monarch, and her female descendents ruled until just recently, when no female heir was available, and a son married a woman from neighboring Ras Tieg. 220 years after that uprising, the war is still on, technology is advancing at a surprisingly clipped rate, the same kinds of magic are now taught to both sexes, men are still dying on the front (which also keeps their numbers down), and women make up about ¾ of all of the government positions. The monarch is called a queen, but she acts in the capacity of a sort of hereditary president who’s got veto power over the main government body.

We’ve got trains, bug tech (which includes a sort of radio technology), opium, guns, prayer, rampant racism, magic illusions and trap castings (with some ball lightning thrown in), alchemy, a couple of cults, and the beginnings of photography technology (which is rapidly replacing organic bug castings, which die).

Enter our plotline. Queen Nasyaan - the daughter of the Ras Tieg Queen and the male heir to the Nasheen monarchy - puts a bounty on the head of her brother, who killed their mother (the Queen from Ras Tieg had abdicated just months before). Nasyaan offers a lordship (or whatever) and a big pile of money to whoever brings him back. More money if he’s alive, but dead will do. His name’s Rasheen, and he’s headed into their sworn enemy state, Chenja.

Enter our characters. We’ve got Nyx, whose brothers have been killed in the war, and she’s gotten cynical about life and politics, so she went into bounty hunting. She’s got no skill in magic at all, but she’s smart and a good fighter. Having no magic, she’s had to assemble a team. There’s Rhys (the geeky nerd-boy of the operation), who’s from Chenja, Anneke the martial artist (who acts as the Firefly Jayne character – the muscle), Kos (the magic-user) whose from a southern country called Mors where the sexes are still divided due to magic and religious prescriptions - he fled because he’s a flaming heterosexual - and Taite (also from Nasheen), who’s in charge of gear, logistics and communications.

Nyx and Rhys have got the sexual tension thing going – he’s from Chenja, the sworn enemy of Nasheen, (classic) and she’s vowed never to “sleep with the help” though she hops into bed with people of both sexes over the course of the book. She’s also got some serious racism issues to deal with in regards to Chenjans, and him being one in her face all the time is great. Anneke and Kos hate each other and argue all the time, but they have tension in a Zezili-vs.-Nathan (in book 2 of the fantasy saga, which I'm writing concurrently) sort of way, in that their arguments are going to bite and snip all the way through and then ¾ through the book they both look at each other sideways.

Kos and Taite are great buddies, with a brotherly loyalty that might make for one of the strongest relationships in the book. They boast to one another about their sexual misadventures – Kos’s about women, Taite’s about men. Nyx met Kos in a brothel, where they both slept with the same woman (though not at the same time). Nyx doesn’t much like Anneke’s violent tendencies, and doesn’t trust her, because Anneke worked for and betrayed one of Nyx’s rival bounty hunters, but Anneke’s too great an asset to push out. Taite used to work for Raine, Nyx’s current bounty-hunting rival, and dropped Raine to work for her after meeting Kos in a bar and being recruited for his skill in communications. Taite doesn’t much care for Anneke because of her rivalry with Kos, but he and Nyx are close. At some point, Anneke and Rhys are probably going to sleep together.

Nyx and co. take the Queen’s offer and go after Rasheem into Chenja, there’s lots of fights, interrogations, kidnappings, betrayals, a rival bounty hunter named Raine, some literal backstabbing, and an open ending that gives us character arcs and an insight into just what it is that fuels the war between the states, but leaves potential for further stories - if anyone asks for another book.

I've got a good five-page plot point overview and shorter three-part breakdown. Currently working on a chapter-by-chapter breakdown. Ideally, I'd like to try something diff't this time in that I'd like to, you know, PLOT my book out. I'm tired of spending 6 months writing a book and two years rewriting. Drives me fucking nuts.

So. To work. See you all on Monday.

Mixed Nuts

Historical SF: What if Bush had won the 2000 Election (it's crazy thought, I know!)

Cheney announces that if John Kerry wins the election, Cheney will attack the country himself!! Muwahahahaaa

Check out this great anti-Harry Potter documentary! That's right! If your kids read Harry Potter, they'll start practicing witch craft! Wheee! Somebody paid money to produce this video.

All via Jenn.


Great Salon article about the Republican freak-out about the dreaded "L" word. Our big problem is that calling somebody "lesbian" is still seen as an insult, particularly in straight bars and on grade-school playgrounds and high school locker rooms.

Lesbian isn't a curse word. It's a word used to describe a woman's sexuality. And you better bet that if you're in a political party where you want to deny the rights of US citizens based on who they're going to bed with, everybody's gonna start pointing to all of the people you and yours are going to bed with. Because *you've* made it a political issue. You're saying you'd DENY YOUR OWN DAUGHTER EQUAL RIGHTS AND PROTECTION UNDER THE LAW FROM HATE CRIMES. And it's about time we stopped saying "they" when we talk about "those gay people" and how "we" should "give" or "take" away "their" rights.

Lesbians are people too. I'll repeat that, because Republicans seem confused: LESBIANS ARE PEOPLE TOO. Oh, yes. And US citizens. When we say "America" and "us" we're talking about everybody. Not just the straight white guys. "We" go to bed with all sorts of people, in all sorts of interesting ways. "We" can all vote.

"We" are America. Get over it.

I hate to break it to you all: Lesbian isn't a dirty word. There are, indeed, quite a number of women who enjoy going to bed with other women. In fact, there are a lot of women who aren't sexually attracted to men at all. Yea. Really. I know, I know, this may come as a shock. In fact, these women are so strange... they may even fall in love with other women! Dear lord! And create happy little couples (or. Ahem. Perhaps more than a couple). Happy! Imagine it! Happy women! Happy, happy women! Dear lord in heaven!

Here's what's really fucked up:

"Once you're happily out of the closet a few years, you don't bat an eye at someone hearing you're gay. Even on national television. Even if your father's the vice president. (Especially if your father's the vice president -- don't you think she's used to it by now?)

What rips your heart out is when someone close to you denies your sexuality in public. Or shudders at the mention of it, so you can see how desperately they want to.

It may sound like a subtle implication to a straight person -- clearly it does; even the most liberal straight pundits appear oblivious to it -- but a gay person hears it scream out loud and clear. You people still feel there's something to be ashamed of here.

One of the happiest days of my life came when one of the old ladies at my mom's Catholic bridge club mentioned what a nice young husband I'd make. My mother, in her 60s by then, laughed it off. "I don't think that's going to happen," she said. "He's gay."

I was stunned when I heard the story. It had taken her years to get to that point. And it meant everything to me. She didn't care what the bridge ladies thought. She cared more about me.

I doubt very much that Mary Cheney gives a rat's ass if some church lady in Idaho knows she's gay. But her mother cringing at the church lady knowing -- that's gotta hurt like hell.