Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
Choose Carefully Who You’re Kind To
On FetLife, there is the Spammy MicroDom – the 21 year-old “master” who gets an account, finds every woman within 20 miles of him, and emails cut-and-pasted orders for her to kneel at his feet. This kind of behavior is widely mocked, and rightfully so; at least three times a week, you’ll see vicious parodies of the MicroDom hitting the “Most Popular” boards. Women have contests to create the most insulting reply, and there are whole boards dedicated to shredding these pathetic attempts of domination.
Believe it or not, I have some sympathy for these guys. Not a lot; just a glimmer.
I say this because I got an email from someone asking me to look over one of his posts, where he argued – and correctly – that a lot of this idiotic behavior comes because the media presents an impression to men that this is how they’re supposed to act in BDSM situations. These guys have heard through various badly-presented filters that this is what “submissive” women want, and so they arrive on Fet and treat women in the way they’ve been told that women “in the scene” want to be treated.
Now, the reason I lack most sympathy for these guys is because they’re from-the-hip idiots. A single Google search would tell you that this isn’t how things work in reality, and any understanding of how human beings actually work when they’re not your masturbatory fantasies would tell you “Hey, women usually don’t want random strangers splurting their sexual desires all over them. Women, in fact, are drowning in dumb generic offers like yours.” (I mean, this isn’t unique to FetLife; I’ve heard many similar horror stories from women on OKCupid, where the sexual innuendo actually seems to be more prevalent.) And they’re often emailing women who self-identify as Dommes, presumably on the basis that “these women are pretty” and “I want to sex them” means “So they must be submissive.”
So these guys are misled, but only because they’re short-sighted and lazy. Fail.
However, the guy writing the post essentially said (paraphrased by moi), “Why aren’t we more compassionate to these guys? They’re stupid and ill-informed, yes, but instead of responding with mockery to drive them away, why don’t we as a community concentrate on educating them? Guys who look at the Kinky and Popular board will see nothing but parodies of them. I feel like all we’re accomplishing is creating this negative atmosphere for new male doms.”
To which I replied, “This mockery accomplishes something more vital, in a way: creating a more positive space for women, both dominant and submissive, who are less likely to have to deal with this shit – and more likely to stay. And who would you rather privilege – newbie male doms who are acting reflexively like assholes, or all the women on FetLife?”
“Think carefully,” I concluded. “There’s some very encoded and subtle sexism built into your thought patterns here.”
Don’t get me wrong; I am all about the teachable moment. I think you’ve got to allow for them, and someone has to stand up and be nice and take someone’s hand to walk them through all the dumb mistakes. But every time you “open up” a community to make it more welcome to those expressing dumb and insulting behaviors, you alienate those who are insulted.
And you have to choose. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be compassionate. But if you create a place where people are very tolerant of the MicroDom’s mistakes, then more MicroDoms are likely to thrive there. Which means that the women get more dumb emails. Which means that the women are more to leave rather than being harassed.
Classic liberal thinking has “the big tent,” where everyone can stand underneath it. I’m here to say that the best reality can do is a largeish tent, where you can either choose to evict a rowdy subset, or have them drive off some portion of people who don’t want to deal with them. In either case, not everyone will be in that tent, and whoever’s not in the tent will feel alienated from you, whether you intended it to be or not.
I’d argue that it’s far better to intend it. Yes, it’s a wonderful goal to have everyone able to act however they please, and all of us being tolerant of their quirks. But what happens is that some people’s quirks are so unpleasant that nobody wants to be around them – and if you don’t choose to eject them, you unconsciously choose to be okay with certain groups of people leaving.
I feel a little bad for the MicroDom. He’s uneducated, stupid, naive, and maybe could become someone worthwhile with a little guidance. However, I feel way worse for the forty women he emailed, who routinely wake up with an inbox clogged with mails not just from him but from everyone like him… and I’d far prefer they stick around. They’re more likely to have something interesting to say.
And maybe we could apply pressure in a way that includes less mocking. I agree that it’d be nice if we were all a little less hateful. But on the other hand, if we’re asking people to change their behavior, I’d probably prioritize the people who decided that random strangers were worth harassing, you know?
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/361228.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
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WIP Wednesday - Chocolate is Back!
I'm finally done with all the Christmas knitting (don't be so impressed - the presents were all handed out last Saturday, I HAD to finish!) and I'm now back at knitting the Red Chocolate.
I finished the second sleeve and am now knitting the very last piece - the left side/front. I even remembered to replicate the error... pardon me, design feature... of the right side, and twisted one cable the wrong way... only to then promptly do the same with the other cable as well! I did consider ripping it back, but fortunately that error is on the wrong side, so you only see the back of the cable, and from that side I honestly can't tell the difference. So it's been left 'as is' :)
I was very pleased to realize I still remember the cable pattern off by heart, so the left side is going MUCH faster than the right did... not to mention that I don't have to measure all the time, but can just count ridges or cables instead to make sure it'll end up being the same size as the right side :)
I hope to finish the knitting by the end of the year - that should be feasible as long as I don't get too side-tracked... but I'm good at getting side-tracked ;) Then I can hopefully seam it up in January, and pass it on to Henni while it's still cold enough to use it!
But speaking of getting side-tracked... I've had an urge to knit fancy socks for ages. Not entirely sure why, as I don't really consider myself a sock person, but they keep popping up on podcasts, on blogs etc, and the idea of knitting fancy socks just really appealed to me... if only then because it seems like something accomplished knitters do, so if I wanted to consider myself accomplished, I should give it a go ;) I'd found a pattern I really liked (Bilberry, from The Knitter, #56) and yesterday I bit the bullet and cast on! :)
2 hours got me about 25 rows into the first sock. It was supposed to be the Turkish cast on, but I couldn't really make sense of it (didn't try too hard either, I must admit), so I used the Magic Cast On instead. I'm knitting a size M, but I do have a feeling it's going to be a tiny bit too big, so I've just decreased one in both sides and might adjust accordingly for the leg.... or I'll increase one in both sides in another 15 rows when I realize it's not going to be too big after all ;)
The pattern isn't as difficult as I'd originally thought. I love the faux cables on either side, and after just one repeat I've been able to memorize it and read the knitting to see where I'm at :) The yarn is from Candy Skein and is just as awesome to work with as always.
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Friendship is Poetry
This is possibly the silliest thing I have set myself to do since joining the MLP fandom. Which is saying something. I'm going to try to write a poem for every episode. So that's at minimum 91 of the things, with more to come if there's a Season Five. Not that I'm setting myself a deadline. Still, I do have some ideas (yes, I get them sometimes!) so we'll see how it goes. Here's the first episode's poem as a sampler. They won't all be in this style, I hasten to add.
( 1. Friendship is Magic, part 1: The Pony on the SpotCollapse )
current mood: awake
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Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
It's No Joke!
So an Irishman, a Jew and a black guy go into a bar. They have some beers, but not too many, and then leave and go back home safely after a pleasant social evening.
(read the title).
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How Can You Be So Ugly?
One of the things that always amazed me about the Baby Boomers is what they did to marijuana.
They smoked it, almost all of them, during those crazy hippy days. They knew it didn’t drive you frothing mad, or strangle your soul; it just made you hungry, and maybe a little unmotivated. So when I was young, I figured that by the time I was twenty, pot would be just this other thing like alcohol and cigarettes.
And the Baby Boomers treated marijuana like it was the Antichrist. They were terrified of anyone touching it, ever. And the jail sentences went up, and the laws clanged down, and by the time I was twenty you could get your whole house confiscated for selling a dime bag.
I never got that. I thought that people who’d been through that would understand. But as it turns out, there’s this sort of violent reaction that people have to stupid things they did in their youth, where they get to the Age Of Lawmaking And Morality and thunder, “Well, we did that, but nobody else should ever!” and act as though anyone who would do such a thing is the scum of the earth.
And I think of this Facebook generation, where you see teenagers posting the dumbest goddamned statuses everywhere, embarrassing photos and insulting jokes and ill-thought-out political statuses. And I’d like to think that by the time these kids are all fifty and pretty much every Congressman has a picture of themselves doing a beer bong hit, society would say, “All right, we all sent a naughty picture to a lover, we all have a photo of ourselves embarrassingly drunk, we all held opinions in our twenties that we regret now” and accept that a) saying and doing stupid things when you’re young is a fact of life – I mean, when else are you going to be at your most stupid except when you’re least experienced? and b) a person’s politics at age eighteen are often as transient as her love of Justin Bieber, and we should acknowledge that as human beings, we evolve.
Yet what I see happening is like the marijuana situation, where people assume that one stupid post is the whole of who someone is. The moment someone says something dumb, society freezes to a halt and that’s who they are – that dumbass who said that thing. They said that five years ago! What scum!
Can people ever learn?
And I see this increasing hostility towards people even having to defend their positions on the Internet. “Hey, I’m on the side of righteousness and good!” they seem to cry. “And can you believe this jerk is asking me questions?” And yeah, I get that it’s exhausting to be the teachable moment all the time, and I’m not saying that anyone should be forced to serve as a continual FAQ – but god damn, people, the teachable moment is how we take people who don’t understand why this is a big deal and show them. It’s the moment of potential enlightenment. It’s the moment where you were ignorant, but you got it.
Yet I feel a constant pressure of “Man, what a kneebiter, he didn’t agree with me the instant I showed him the true path!” And that, I feel, is part of this sociopathic Internet sense that you either get it or you don’t, and if you sinned once – or even had to be convinced of the correctness of someone’s argument – then you’re not really worthy.
I’ve sinned a lot of times, man.
You can still read them all.
I had someone ask me a question, upon reading one of my older essays, that was, essentially, “Your classic essays are so horrible, full of casual misogyny and ugly humor and fratboy antics? When did you have your moment of conversion?”
And I’ve thought about that comment for almost a year now, and the answer is simple: there wasn’t one.
I had no sizzling flare of comprehension, no singular moment. I merely evolved, one interaction at a time, over the course of two decades. The guy who had all of these disastrous love affairs and tried a hooker and hid in a bathroom closet to stop a pervert has a lot in common with today-Ferrett, but god damn if I don’t look back and wince at what a clumsy, hurtful oaf I was. I just had a thousand interactions where I recognized my own insufficiency, usually by hurting someone, and said, I can be better.
And so, slowly, I became better.
And it would be a lot better for me, in many ways, if I quietly deleted those essays, as they don’t reflect who I am. People who read them risk thinking, “Well, that’s who Ferrett is, what a kneebiter,” and walking on.
Yet I keep them up. Because yes, there are people who are going to freeze me (or anyone else) in amber. But I leave all of my ugly bits out in the open as a form of protest – yes, I was stupid when I was 22 years old. Weren’t you?
And I refuse to bow to the folks who seem to think that “who you are now” has an exact correlation to “who you were then.” We learn from doing stupid things. Often, we learn because we did stupid things. And it’s not right that we say hurtful or thoughtless things, but the people who confront us are doing us a great service by revealing their pain, and risking being callously written off because it might change how we act in the future.
All you people who I slighted, erased, or slandered: I leave my stupidity up as proof of how much work you did. I am not monolithic. I am evolving, continually striving to make myself better, and I am here to battle the concept of innate perfection. I am here to battle the idea that one bad day can swallow every other achievement in your life. I am here to battle the idea that one thoughtless moment means you can have all of your self-worth stripped away by people who want to feel superior.
You’re going to make mistakes. That’s okay.
Just make up for them.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.
This entry has also been posted at http://theferrett.dreamwidth.org/361046.html. You can comment here, or comment there; makes no never-mind by me.
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2014 Reads I'm Excited About
First year in awhile I haven't had a Michael Grant book on this list ;)
I'm not current in as many series as I used to be, so finding books for this list was really difficult! I'd feel odd writing book 5 of some series on here, when I've read neither #3 nor #4. I know only too well how quickly series can deteriorate.
So here are the eight I've been able to come up with.
Written in My Heart's Blood (Outlander #8) - Diana Gabaldon (June 10th)
Possibly? I feel kinda weird writing this on here AGAIN, considering that this is probably the third year running I've been told "It'll be out next year!" This time the publication date does seem more official though, so I'm taking a chance.
The Book of Life (All Souls Trilogy #3) - Deborah Harkness (July 15th)
Only discovered Deborah Harkness this year, but I loved the two first books in the All Souls trilogy, so I definitely want to read the last one as well!
A <Something> Witch - Debora Geary (Unknown)
Though not official yet, this is a pretty safe bet considering she put two or three new books out just this year. Usually that wouldn't make me feel good about the quality of it, but so far they've all been well worth reading, so I'm game :)
Symbiont (Parasitology #2) - Mira Grant (November 4th)
So far I've loved everything I've read by Mira Grant - including Parasitology #1 - so I'll definitely be reading this!
Exile - Tamora Pierce (Unknown)
A prequel to the Immortals Series. Perhaps not my first choice for her next book, but I'm just thrilled she's returned to Tortall :)
Shadowplay (Pantomime #2) - Laura Lam (January 4th)
I already have a Netgalley edition of this, but I love it when friends of mine publish books. Especially when they're AS GOOD as this series :)
Snug Ship - Andrea K. Höst (Unknown)
Granted, I've only read one other book by her, but I loved it so much that I definitely want to read more. And this one sounds intriguing!
Knit Your Own Zoo - Sally Muir (February 11th)
Oh come on, I couldn't not have a single knitting book on this list, could I? And these patterns look awesome! :)
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December 17, 2013: Are Your Heroes Nude?
No, your heroes probably aren't in the buff... but that doesn't mean they've been dressed as well as they could be! GURPS Loadouts: Low-Tech Armor builds on the foundation of GURPS Low-Tech (and GURPS Low-Tech: Instant Armor) by presenting 40 ready-to-use armor loadouts, each with precalculated statistics (including total cost, weight, and don time) and notes on the protection they provide. It offers bonus information on rhinoceros-hide armor, Roman "scale mail," horse barding, and more. It also delves into new possibilities for expanded hit locations, historical information and context about the gear presented, and more.
Whether you want to play a Bronze Age chariot archer, a Viking raider, a Crusader, a Japanese Samurai, or any of dozens of other possibilities, GURPS Loadouts: Low-Tech Armor will offer you historically accurate gear as quickly and painlessly as possible. We did the shopping so you can do the chopping!
– Steven Marsh
Warehouse 23 News: Munchkin Retro Is The New Cool
It is getting colder and we want you looking your best to game during the winter months.
And so we bring you the Munchkin Sweatshirt!
The only thing that can make this any cooler is the groovy new rule!
Get your's while you can at Warehouse 23!
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Memories, Light the Corners of our Minds
Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer
Lucas Three sat in the coffee shop long after she left, long after the people that had watched the scene play out had moved on. He sat for hours after she’d calmly, mercilessly ended their three year relationship with a calculated precision of language that even he couldn’t have delivered more succinctly.
“This has been fun, really, it’s been fantastic, but you knew this was never going to last.” She didn’t touch her latte, which was never a good sign.
“You’re never going to get old, and I’m going to age out and die. At some point you’re going to leave me for someone younger, and by then I’ll be too old to find anyone to love me and I’ll simply die alone.” Her hands flew about the space in front of her as she spoke. He often wondered if she were forced to keep her hands in her pockets, would she be able to speak at all? He smiled at that thought, and the smiling caused him pain.
“Already my friends find you ‘quaint’, and your friends look upon me as some kind of lesser thing. Janson Four called me a relic. A relic? I’m twenty nine years old, I’m not a god damned relic.” She raised her cup and put it back down without drinking. “What are they going to be saying about me at fifty nine? Seventy nine? Am I to be a sideshow freak at your social events? I’m sorry. I’m not going to put myself in that position. You knew this day was going to come, and it has. I’ve had my things moved out of the apartment this morning, you can have access revoked at your convenience, I won’t be coming back.”
She’d risen at that point, and suddenly aware that her unintentionally raised voice had turned heads and sparked a series of whispered conversations, she softened visibly, shoulders dropping, eyes losing their searing glare of purpose to tear up at the edges in a haze of uncertainty.
“Listen Lucas, I’m sorry. I really am. I’ve loved you, I still do love you,” her voice broke, “but I can’t go on loving you, I have to go.”
She made it to the door before she turned again.
“Goodbye” was all she said, and then she was gone.
When the coffee shop proprietor none to subtly turned off the lights and motioned to the closed sign by the door, Lucas stepped out in the nighttime air. She had been the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen, a bright light in a sea of grey, and she was gone. Were he to have a heart, it would have been breaking, and as much as he knew he wasn’t built to feel what he was feeling, the thoughts and emotional response racing through his head were too much for him to take. If he didn’t do something, he feared he would break completely.
On the pier, listening to the waves shushing the shoreline, he overrode the safeties and did a search of his memories, collecting every single moment they’d shared together into an array, and without a second thought iterated through the batch and deleted them all.
When the process completed, he felt a strange sense of emptiness, but the anxiety had dissipated.
As he turned, he saw her, perhaps the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. They walked towards each other, and he could see that she’d been crying, her face streaked and makeup spoiled. “How quaint” he thought out loud, and she stopped, her eyes searching his.
“Lucas,” she spoke as he passed, “Lucas,” her voice almost pleading, “I’m sorry, I don’t want to live without you.”
As he reached the end of the pier, the strange and beautiful woman’s voice trailed off behind him, and he wondered who her words were for.
He turned the corner past the coffee shop he haunted daily, and stumbled, mind racing, mental and emotional processes run amok for no discernable reason. He’d have sworn, if he’d had a heart and ever allowed someone inside it, this is what it would feel like were it to be broken.
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Monday, December 16th, 2013
It was about 13 °C last night, which is very odd for December. I had to have the fan on at one point, which is almost unheard of for this time of year! Rather cooler this evening, but still no sign of any real wintry stuff. To be honest, I'm happy with that this time round, and wouldn't mind a quiet, dry, mild winter. Too many things have happened to me this year, quite a few more will happen next year, and I need a rest. That's what it's come down to, really: the post-Christmas break will be a time to have a rest first and foremost. And eat crisps, of course. Mustn't forget crisps! =:9
current mood: tired
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What’s in a name?
Author : Duncan Shields, Staff Writer
Yes, the aliens were invasive. Savagely invasive. But how could we blame them? We were a treasure trove to them.
The aliens had no name of their own, you see. As a warrior race, they let the planets they invaded name them. As they took planet after planet and civilization after civilization, they collected names. They were up to one hundred and sixty four.
Unpronounceable names screaming forth from terrified beaks, mental picture collages from psychic races, bursts of scent from pheromone speakers, they were all collected in their databank.
If a planet had no sentience, the aliens moved on. Slaughtering animals that could not name them held no interest.
And this is why Earth was like a rainbow of temptation to them.
With over 6900 languages on Earth, the aliens could increase their name count (and thereby their reputation) by factors of ten. And that didn’t even include slang or scientific definitions.
They took their time, making sure to take at least one speaker of each language to record their names for posterity while they laid waste to us.
It was fascinating for us to find out that the way we split and diverged our languages was unique. Most alien civilizations leaned towards a common language but we didn’t. What a strange thing to find out on the eve of our doom.
They didn’t destroy the forests or the oceans. They only targeted the cities and the towns.
As a reward for our staggering bounty of names, they left enough of us to start another stable gene base with the promise that they would be back in another ten thousand years to do it all over again after we’d evolved and split and developed new languages.
There are a hundred thousand of us now. They picked us all up and dropped us in Indonesia where it’s hot most of the time. We’ve started having as many babies as possible and doing our utmost to survive and keep each other safe.
Earth is reclaiming the ruined cities. The stink of human death is dissipating on the wind. In time the animals will multiply faster than we can eat them and the oceans will fill back up with fish.
Although this is the worst chapter of human history, or maybe even the end of it as we have no way to record our findings now other than scratching on bark or painting on cave walls, it sometimes feels as if we are in a new Eden.
I am thirty-two years old. I am on a beach in this hot country. The sun is going down. I can smell the boar our party killed cooking on the dinner fire. Sixty-three women are having babies in the next few months. We are by necessity polygamous to increase diversity for strength. We have no shame at nudity and we must not tolerate jealousy.
We’ve painted pictures of the aliens on any available surface as a warning to future generations. We are struggling to maintain one language among us but we are from all over the world. It’s hard. But we’re trying harder than humanity has ever tried to speak one language to each other so we can all understand. We are one tribe now.
I cannot bring myself to thank the aliens. My own family and all of my friends were killed. I am the only person from my city left alive.
But sometimes in moments like this sunset, I feel something like gratitude in my chest and it makes me feel conflicted inside.
I turn away from the sunset and go to eat.
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Sunday, December 15th, 2013
How to Fly A Spaceship
Author : Andrew Hollis
The manual had been totally inadequate. For a start the Chinglish translation was hopelessly out of date, there were archaic digiverbs in it that must have been superseded at least three authorisations ago.
Of course flight inexperience would be no excuse, especially when explaining how a Mastodon runner had ended up fur-balled across the front skid!
But if he stopped at a detox point on his way back to the Arc he could hose off the mess and concoct some story about pranging a floater. Tell the dispatcher it was a false trace, no runner found. Then on the return trip his ship had smacked into a discarded fuel pod. He pulled some hair from the twisted skid; shit, with floaters scattered all over the place it’s a believable excuse.
The Waxer buzzed in his ear, “three zero, snoozed the Masto yet?”
He winced at the static fuzzing across his eardrum, “Nope, it was a false trace, nothing there but prefabs and blowflies”.
“The trace looked strong, did you ask around?”
Sure he’d spoken to the settlers, they were happy to carve up the carcass and share it out, no questions asked. It made a change from blowing nosebags of disgusting Nutrinow.
‘Yeh I spoke to the land agent, they’ve seen nothing. I’ll checkout the bat farms in the valley. Maybe it’s there hoovering up fruit.”
The fuzz tickled again, “Ok but keep it slow through there, don’t want your air shock flipping trays.” Yeh the last thing I need on top everything else is a dozen hanging baskets of splattered fruit wrapped around the fins.
He flicked on the Grav-it and dropped gently to the red earth. The holoplay was scuffed but had survived his frustrations; he dusted it off and re-launched a how-to of the ship’s dashboard.
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