Thursday, December 31, 2009

I Went to a Party Mom

I'm sure a lot of you are ready to go out and get crazy. It's fine to get crazy but be sure not to get too crazy. I would be so happy if there was no death or injury this New Year's. I found this poem a few days ago in a local paper and it serves as a grim reminder of the damage one can do when they get reckless when drinking and driving.

I Went to a Party Mom

I went to a party, Mom, I remembered what you said.

You told me not to drink, Mom, so I drank soda instead.

I really felt proud inside, Mom, the way you said I would.

I didn’t drink and drive, Mom, even though the others said I should.

I know I did the right thing, Mom, I know you are always right.

Now the party is finally ending, Mom, as everyone is driving out of sight.

As I got into my car, Mom, I knew I’d get home in one piece.

Because of the way you raised me, so responsible and sweet.

I started to drive away, Mom, but as I pulled out into the road, the other car didn’t see me, Mom, and hit me like a load.

As I lay there on the pavement, Mom, I hear the policeman say, the other guy is drunk, Mom, and now I’m the one who will pay.

I’m lying her dying, Mom…I wish you’d get here soon.

How could this happen to me, Mom?

My life just burst like a balloon.

There is blood all around me, Mom, and most of it is mine.

I hear the medic say, Mom, I’ll die in a short time.

I just wanted to tell you, Mom, I swear I didn’t drink.

It was the other, Mom. The others didn’t think.

He was probably at the same party as I.

The only difference is, he drank and I will die.

Why do people drink Mom? It can ruin your whole life.

I’m felling sharp pains now. Pains just like a knife.

The guy who hit me is walking, Mom, and I don’t think it’s fair.

I’m lying here dying and all he can do is stare.

Tell my brother not to cry, Mom, Tell Daddy to be brave.

And when I go to heaven, Mom, put “Daddy’s Girl” on my grave.

Someone should have told him, Mom, not to drink and drive.

If only they had told him, Mom, I would still be alive.

My breath is getting shorter, Mom.

I’m becoming very scared.

Please don’t cry for me, Mom.

When I needed you, you were always there.

I have one last question, Mom, before I say goodbye.

I didn’t drink and drive, so why am I the one to die?
Author Unknown

By all means have fun but please be safe folks. No amount of fun is worth someone's life.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

What to do next year?

Well as this year is winding down it is time to ponder what I will have my sights set on next year. A simple (and by no means complete) breakdown include:

Work on my work attire: I've been thinking about this for a long time and I think its high time I worked on what I wear to my job. As an "IT guy" my work wear is pretty much three button polos and dress slacks. Well as a man in the job place there isn't much I can do about the dress slacks but today I pulled out a dress shirt I've only wore like 4 times in the five years I've had it. I got a few complements today which is a mixed message to me. One one had it's flattering to get a complement but on the other that's a sign that what I usually wear is mundane. So next year I'm going to work on adding a bit of flair to my work wardrobe.

Go to an anime convention: I used to pride myself on being an active otaku but in the last few years my awareness of anime has pretty much fallen to what makes it to American tv and with internet access that is a damn shame. Recently I've been getting back into anime and manga (I recommend Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood and Vampire Knight, two current favorites) and its time to go to a con. Its been several years since the last con I went to (I think it was Otakon 2002 or so) and I am really feeling the desire to get back into it.

Get real about my job hunt: Technically I've been on a job hunt for the last year or so but have not gotten much of a bite. Even with the economy like it is part of the reason I've haven't hit on much is my lack of motivation. That will change. I turn 30 in 2010 and I REFUSE to still be living at home when do. Any know of any openings in internal (meaning I help bank employees, not bank customers) tech support in the banking industry?

Move: This one depends on my job hunt. I'm willing to move anywhere. The place I live in now is geared toward older people and I am too young to live here. But I do have the wisdom to want to come back after a few decades for the peaceful life. Yet if I end up living my entire life here I will become a resentful bitter old man full of regret. That will not happen.

Build a new pc: I've never built one before and want to take a try at it. My current main desktop is several years old (I don't even have USB 2.0 slots on this rig) and can barely keep up with the little bit of gaming I do. Been looking at build lists and doing homework on parts and next year I will draw up a formal build and start working on it. I will start buying parts in February but if I get an annual bonus in March (and I say if because we didn't get one this year for the first time ever) I'll have all the parts a lot sooner. This build will be covered here.

Get fit: Yes its a staple resolution but its one I will keep. I have a local gym just a few miles away so there is no real reason that I can't go work out at least every other day after work (I plan on using the strategy of going straight from work instead of going home first to keep my motivation up).

Well that's my list of resolutions. See you folks next year!

Mandatory DNA testing?

This post from Robert Franklin has me thinking about the matter of paternity. With paternity fraud being a very real possibility for many man I wonder about DNA testing.

In many states when a child is born about the only time the presumptive father is offered the opportunity to take a DNA test is when he is basking in the joy of the newborn and surrounded by family and of course the mother of the child (assuming he even gets the offer). Kinda seems under handed to ask him if he wants a DNA test in front of everyone right (can't you just hear the "Don't you trust me?" pleas?).

However if years down the road the child's paternity does come under question it is often too late to take action. Usually the court will decide that since you have been in that child's life for this long you are the de facto father and therefore must continue your financial obligations. But if your relationship with the child's mother goes south don't assume that a fair share of custody is going to be ordered up with that support demand.

So basically what happens is a man is duped into becoming the father of a child that is not his. Watch this slight of hand. Often times with this happens all eyes turn to not the mother who deceived him but to him watching to see what he will try to do. If he decides to stay he is congratulated and propped up as "a real father" for "stepping up". If he decides he wants to leave he is demonized as a man that ran out on "his" child and should "man up" and continue to take responsibility (and I'm sure the dreaded word "deadbeat" will come up at some point). You see that? Yes nevermind the fact that the mother of the child lied about the paternity of the child. Its all okay as long as he continues pay (he might not be in the child's life but he better pay up) everything is okay and no crime has been committed.

Now don't get me wrong. I'm not trying to say that a duped dad should leave when he finds out. However I won't think any less of a man that decides to back away after the truth comes out. And if DNA testing proves he is not the father then yes I think support should immediately cease and if he owes anything it should be dropped. Frankly I think in the event that he has been paying child support but a future test proves he is not the father he should be fully reimbursed.

So my question is do you think that mandatory DNA testing would help combat paternity fraud?

I would think yes if for no other reason that the test would be mandatory so the man in question doesn't feel any shame about getting a child tested. If its a required procedure then there is no way for the mom to give him the possibly deceptive puppy dog eyes with a side of, "Don't you trust me?".

But on the other hand DNA testing costs money.

What's more important? Setting the record straight or saving money?

Evening Falls on Lothlorien, blanketed in Stars and Midnight Blue

Well here we are the last song title link post of the year. I used Evening Falls as kind of a way to signal the end of the year and decade. And since I had not used Enya yet why not just use all tracks from her.

While it has been fun doing these posts one thing I've been doing is that I've mostly been using music from my own collection. Yeah that's fine but it hasn't prompted me to find other music that may tickle my fancy. I may try to mix it up a bit next year by intentionally finding music that I don't know about or at least don't own. But nevermind that here are the tracks.

Evening Falls


Stars and Midnight Blue

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Is being the norm really a benefit for men?

Read this today at Pelle Billing's place.

Its a post in which Pelle questions the notion that for the male to be the default is a positive for men. I commented over there but I think I need to be a bit more clear.

While on one hand there are ways in which men being considered the default is a positive. When you see scientists in newspaper or on a tv show chances are that scientist will be a man. When you think about the military chances are you think of male soldiers. Certain tasks are regarded as "men's work".

However one thing that is lost in conversation, and I think its good that Pelle is bringing them up and hope it encourages actual men to talk instead of repetition of the same old rhetoric of "men are privileged!" this and "men oppress women!" that, is how these things do serious harm to men. It's high time we started speaking up on how the kyriarchy harms men.

I like what Pelle says here:
The key disadvantage of being the norm is that men are not encouraged to reflect on what it means to be a man, or what the male gender role means for men....Men are simply not raised to articulate men’s issues or to form men’s organizations.
Simply put we as men are socialized to not realize how the system harms us just like with any other group of people. We are raised up to do what we do because "that what real men do". We are told that to not do those things or to question those things is evidence that we are not "real men". We are fed this fucked idea of masculinity in which the only emotions we are allowed are lust and anger, not speak up when harmed, and to be attracted to whatever the various industries tell us we are supposed to be attracted to. By being the default we are taught that to be a certain type of man is the norm and to not abide by the script is trouble.

But what I really like is:
To understand this at an even deeper level we need to ask ourselves why men are the norm in the first place? Why not women, who give birth to the next generation, and whose lives have always been valued more highly than the lives of men? Men are the norm, since every successful society depends on the disposability of men. And one of the best ways to raise men to be disposable is to make the male norm so strong that it is simply “the human norm”.
Now I wouldn't say that women's lives are always valued more highly than men but it does happen often. However other than that I think he is on point about how making men the more makes us disposable.

Think about war for a bit. I found this chart on military deaths in the Middle East between March 19, 2003 and May 3, 2008. How many men have been killed? How many women have been killed? The difference comes from two things. One people (or at least the ones making the decisions) think that women are not suited for combat meaning they are kept out of it and two, which is not usually brought up, people have don't have as much of a problem seeing men die. This is why in articles that cover bombing victims a lot of them usually give the exact numbers of women and children killed, sometimes in the headline itself, and just leave the number of men killed to your math skills. Women and children (and notice how they are thrown in with children to drum up more sympathy?) are delicate beings that must be protected and men are cannon fodder for the machine. Two very sexist practices.

One thing that would really help when it comes to gender relations would be if people equally valued all life instead of using gender as indicator of value.

So in addition to what I said at the original post I have to say that my final answer to Pelle's question ("Do Men Benefit From Being the Norm?") is yes and no.

Yes there are times when it benefits men namely in how it leads to the male opinion becoming the default view point and the opinions and views of women becoming othered but no there are time when it does not benefit men namely in how since the male is the default things that harm men are seen as the norm and not very much concern is raised over it.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A blood oath

So after listening to everyone go nuts over Twilight and being a bit disappointed with the first movie I have managed to borrow the first book. But woe is me if I don't return it. I thought I was gonna have to give ID, bloody fingerprint, DNA sample, mother's maiden name, father's tax records, etc...

What can say? My 10 year old niece is a serious fan. She was laying into me asking when I was gonna be back and everything.

She has the first three books but her copies of books 2 and 3 are a part of one cover design and her copy of book 1 has the cast from the movie on it. So I'm sure she will be happy when I return her books 1 and 4 that match the cover design of her 2 and 3.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

So this is how far we've come with Domestic Violence awareness?

Came across this post by Robert Franklin (where he references The Sexist) earlier this week on the reaction from some Swedish women to the possibility that Elin Nordegren may have attacked her husband Tiger Woods. And its not promising.
Swing it again, Elin!” wrote Jan Helin, editor in chief of Aftonbladet, the country’s biggest newspaper, on his personal blog. One of the paper’s top reporters, Ann Söderlund, proclaimed, “Thank God for girls like Elin. Next time, I hope she uses a bigger club.”

Told you it was not promising. And don't waste time trying to say its okay to laugh at this because its likely he was not abused. That is a shallow excuse and does nothing but live off of the presumption that male victims of violent women don't matter and its okay for women to be violent to men. In the last several decades people have become more aware of the issue of domestic violence. Abuse victims have many more channels of support now than they did 30-40 years ago. Also it is taken more seriously...for the most part.

When people cheer on a woman for possibly abusing her husband I have to wonder how far we have really come. What scares me is that in this day and age when we supposedly take DV seriously people still do things like this and people just laugh (despite it being passed around I don't recall a single other person doing anything other than laugh at it).

While I am very glad to see that women that have been abused by men are getting more help than they had access to decades ago it is still a very serious blight when male victims of female abusers are not taken seriously and are ridiculed.

In fact this kind of reminds of the whole Lorenna/John Wayne Bobbit thing. If you recall when she cut off his penis people openly cheered her on and called her a heroine and even spawned (an albeit small time) spoof film.

So until people get to the point where their reaction to DV ranges from condemnation to applause depending on the genders of the abuser and victim we aren't going to get very far.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

I have an idea for a start....

I still have at least one more post about my vacation coming down the pipe (my day in Washington DC) gender discussion is always on and I can't afford to fall behind.

Okay looking back through Feministing at the posts I missed while I was out I found this (via this).

It is an article authored by Patricia Nicholson in which she spoke on a keynote presentation by clinical psychologist Dr. Lori Haskell at Women’s College Hospital as part of a memorial service for the 20th anniversary of the 14 women killed at l’École polytechnique.

Haskell chose to go a different way and instead of talking about women she spoke about men and and some are part of the problem and how how men can be part of the solution. She focused on three points in her article. I want to focus on one, prevention.

Making Prevention a Priority

Haskell used a medical analogy to illustrate how wrong it is to only focus on the current status of victims in hopes of looking for a way to be rid of the problem.
‘We wouldn’t address a pervasive health problem such as lung cancer by focusing exclusively on what the lungs are like once they are diseased. Instead we would develop theories about what causes the cancer, what can we do about it and then address those behaviours or environmental factors that contribute to the cancer. And we would definitely end the conditions that allow it to develop,’

It is vital with any problem to look at how to keep it from happening rather than just how to treat it once it happens. Haskell manages to lightly touch on what I think is one reason prevention is not the priority that it should be when it comes to dealing with the subset of men that commit violence against women.
...So what has been noticeably absent is a sustained parallel focus on understanding the perpetrators...

For a long time now when a man becomes violent (and not just against women but children and other men as well) he is often written off as just a violent man (because violence is very often associated with the male gender) and is dealt with. Thing is a lot of men who become violent were often victims themselves when they were younger. However this gets lost in the short sighted rush to come down on men like a ton of bricks. Often this treatment is for the sake of political brownie points ("Hey I treated this male criminal harshly! That means I'm tough on crime and protect women! Give me your support!) or money ("Hey I have this shelter open for abused women! That means I care about women! Give me your money!). This is a problem.

The problem with this is that these violent men are not having their deep seated issues addressed. As I said above a lot of people who a become violent offenders were often abused themselves thus starting and continuing the cycle of violence that can poison a family for generations. Helping these boys when they were abused would have probably done them a lot of good and could have very have prevented them from becoming violent to the women in their future lives.

However there is a stigma on male victims of abuse. Something to the effect of, "If he was abused then its because he was too weak to protect himself." (If its heterosexual abuse at the hand of a women then it might change to "He's male and all guys want sex with women all the time anyway. He must have wanted and I would not be surprised if he actually raped her." If its homosexual abuse at the hands of another male then it defaults back to the presumption that its his fault because he could not protect himself.) Such presumptions pretty much tell male victims that they are on their own when it comes to being abused and thus they are left to find their own way to overcome it which is not good.

A victim of a crime should never be left without help. When that happens all sorts of things can happen. The victim may internalize it thinking they deserved to be abused. They may very well internalize it thinking they deserved it and keep it in until it gets to a critical mass at which time they can no longer hold inside and lash out. The victim may display a number of reactions to people who match the description of their abuser ranging from avoidance to open hostility. They may conclude that since they were violated they may think that the only way to make things right or reclaim their own power is to do to someone else what was done to them (which may or may not include targeting those that fit the description of their abuser).

If people want to get serious about getting men involved in preventing male against female violence then I think one crucial step is for people to start taking (especially young) male victims more seriously instead of just writing them off because they are the wrong gender to be a victim. No one wants to talk about how (hypothetical) Johnny was abused as a child but when he grows up and abuses his wife all of a sudden everyone wants to talk about his abusive ways but the conversation will rarely if ever go over the abuse he suffered as a child.

But to do so would actually help do something about violence and the ones that profit from it don't want to see their revenue sources dry up.

Until people can think of males in some other capacity other than a violent abuser it will be a hard time trying to get men involved with ending violence.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Finding one's Swagger

If you recall a while back I mentioned I was going to take time to find my Swagger while on vacation. I'm sure you were wondering what that was about. Well I promised to get back to it one day and today is that day.

Okay I know this might be a shock (a bit of comedy to lighten the mood) but I'm am terrible when it comes to talking to women. I'm talking like 40 Year Old Virgin terrible (in fact I'm only 11 years short of that milestone). But seriously one of my biggest problems is that I seem to be oblivious to the advances of a woman.

Case in point one night of my vacation I was at a mall with a friend of mine and his girlfriend looking around and killing time. We headed into an FYE to look at some movies and music and I started to chat up one of the girls working there. And I say girl because after a few minutes of conversation I learned she was still in high school (a senior to be exact). So while I enjoyed the conversation there was no way I would try to pursue someone that young (being a high school senior would make her about 18 to my 29). Now while that may seem all fine and well I managed to miss someone doing the same to me a few minutes later.

When I was at the checkout line was this woman ringing me up. She didn't get straight to ringing me up and we actually chatted for a few minutes about vampires (she was setting up a box of packets of energy drinks that looked like packs of blood). From there we were talking about games (found out she played WoW and told her I played Lord of the Rings Online and tried to nudge me to try WoW out). I payed with a debit card and she asked for my ID and, as best I can tell I was too shocked to react properly, she smelled my ID. I finished the purchase chatted for a few more seconds and I ended by letting her know we had to go because the my friend's girlfriend wanted to hit up Cold Stone and she asked me to bring her some back. And I kinda, in hindsight, just brushed her off.

Okay when the three of us got back in the car to go home the two of them proceeded to basically ask me if I noticed that she was openly flirting with me. Frankly I didn't notice any flirtation and just wrote it off as a woman that is interested in vampires and games and had a weird quirk about smelling IDs (weird quirk? yes that sounded odd to me even as I said it to my friend and his girlfriend later on).

As I said before I am oblivious to the flirtations of women. In fact there is a good chance I've failed to notice quite a few women that were interested in me as well as plenty of romantic opportunities during my days because of this. Looking back on my life I have to say that this is a result of stunted social growth when it comes to talking to and dealing with women. I wasn't the usual young guy that tried to date as many girls/women as possible during my high school and college years (going back to that gender expectation that guys are supposed to be chasing as many women/girls as we can in pursuit of the ultimate prize). It could be some sort of shyness that I have never gotten over. Maybe fear of rejection. It could be the result of simply being emotionally empty (I'll get back to that another day). Really not sure but it is something I have to get over if I ever hope to start dating (yes you read that right, at 29 I have yet to start dating).

Later that week I called up a friend of the friend I was crashing with so that we could go out (it was Friday night and I really did not want to be sitting around playing video games on such a night). She came over and we actually spent about an hour trying to figure out what to do/where to go. We settled on a burger joint called Ray's Hell Burger and we were off. We got a bit lost and ended up parking and walking like 2 miles to the place, which was packed. But we decided to try it anyway. The conversation was much better than the food but what was really interesting was that we got snowed out. Yeah while we were out a snow storm started. She was driving (because remember I'm visiting her city and I am the last person whose sense of direction you want to trust) and thought it might be best to go ahead and call it a night and I agreed. I kinda wish it hadn't snowed but even if it hadn't she had to work the next day and since she was driving she could not drink but all in all I still had a good time. (Funny that the closest thing I've had to a date got snowed out.)

Odd I know. On one hand I missed what seemed to be according to my friend and his girlfriend open flirtation but on the other when I'm not trying to talk to a woman the conversation seems to come naturally.

So back to what Swagger is. It's some mixture of boldness to take a chance, confidence to accept the possibility of rejection, and just enough fear to keep one's ego in check and prevent the boldness and confidence from becoming arrogance. Sex is not the desired end result (at least not for me). The desired end result being able to talk to someone in more than a social manner with people that match our romantic preferences regardless of the outcome. Rejection, one time date, one night stand, long time relationship whatever. Just as long as you try. That's where I want to be one day.

I know this may not be some top level conversation but this is a place for simple thoughts and basic conversation so bear with me.

(PS - Okay I know that this sounds a bit callous or almost mean to be talking about talking to women like its some sort of experiment. As I said I am not an emotionally healthy individual so I tend to get very analytical when emotion may be what's called for.)

Are you ready to rock?

Along with Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 I also got to play a lot of Rock Band 2. And its a good thing I did. I came across a couple a good songs that I would probably have never heard if it weren't for this game.

Cheap Trick - Hello There
This is actually the intro music for the game.

Paramore - That's What You Get

Beck - E-PRo

One of these days I'm going to get around to buying a current game system.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Back in the office

Okay I got home a few hours ago, took a bit of a nap, and am fully operational again. I start back at work tomorrow and will be spending most of my blog time this week covering my vacation in a small series of posts in addition to the ones I've done recently.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Stay Frosty

If you don't want Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 spoilers then you do not want to be here. You have been warned. Act accordingly.

A big chunk of my free time was spent playing this game on my friend's XBox 360. Great game.

If you aren't familiar with the franchise check it out.

Let me tell you this game plays on some old fears.

Taking place about 5 years after the events of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare this time around one of the lieutenants of the main enemy of that game has risen to power. Throughout the game you play as four different people.

CIA Agent Joseph Allen: At the start of the game you go through a bit of training to familiarize yourself with the control and have a small training course to test your skills. After completing this you are sent to Afghanistan to clear out some hostiles in a small town. Upon completion of that mission you will be transfered to the command of General Shepard.

Sgt. Gary "Roach" Sanderson: At the start you are working with Cpt. "Soap" MacTavish, field commander of Task Force 141, in an effort to infiltrate a Russian base to recover an ACS module before it is cracked by the enemy.

The mission Joseph Allen was recruited for was to infiltrate the gang of Vladimir Makarov. You earn his trust by helping him slaughter a Russian airport full of civilians in cold blood. All goes well...until Makarov admits that he knew Allen was an undercover agent, kills him, and leaves his body at the scene. Why do such a things? Because Makarov's plan was to lead the Russian public to believe that the attack was done by Americans and the corpse of an American at the scene (and could be identified as one of the shooters by any survivors) was icing on the cake.

With the world at large thinking America did carry out the attack Task Force 141 sets their sights on Makarov. The only link is the ammo used in the attack that is traced to an arms in Rio de Janeiro.

Back in America it is evident that the Russians were able to crack the ACS before Roach and Soap retrieved it. This allows them to shut down all of America's warning systems and bring a full scale invasion force to American soil. As Private James Ramirez, of the Army Rangers under the command of Sgt. Foley, your objective to rescue a VIP that has crashed landed in Virginia just as the invasion begins (and there are exits for I-395 in this stage if you look for them).

Meanwhile in South America the 141 has found the arms dealer, obtained some useful info, and must now escape a militia that is closing in.

Ramirez's squad is now tasked with clearing out Russian forces in suburban Virginia and rescuing another VIP. The forces a cleared out but the VIP is dead by the time the squad gets to the scene. Three odd things. First, the VIP is never identified. Two the VIP was carrying a briefcase which was opened but you are never told what was inside. Three one of the dead Russians at the scene has tattoos similar to those worn by Makarov's men. Perhaps this will come up in the next installment.

The information that the 141 received is that there is a person locked up in a Russian gulag that Makarov wants dead very badly. Sounds like bait to me. Problem is the Gulag is guarded by SAM (surface to air missile) sites set up on oil rigs. Bigger problem is that there are still civilian workers on them so instead of blowing up the rigs wholesale you have to sneak onto them, save the hostages, and then take out the SAMs.

Once the way is clear Roach, Soap, Ghost (Soap's right hand man in the 141) and crew raid the gulag and bust out the man in question, Prisoner 627, aka Cpt. Price. If you don't know Price was badly injured, left behind, and presumed dead at the end of the first Modern Warfare. You now have a certified badass with you now.

Unfortunately the situation at home has turned to the worst. Ramirez's squad are tasked with clearing out some Russians from the Department of Commerce that are attacking the evacuation site at the Washington Monument. Once you have secured the evacuation craft you take off on your own chopper. This is where things go horribly wrong. Once you take off you are flying over Washington, DC and it is being overrun by Russians. The Washington Monument is damaged, you have to clear enemies from the WW2 Memorial with your chaingun, take out invaders with rocket launchers shooting down the escape craft, listen to Foley contact headquarters, listen to headquarters give the command to "Get the hell out of there!", all the while shooting at anything you can...all before you yourself are shot down. All to the sound of this (Composed by Hans Zimmer who worked on the score for Black Hawk Down). You wake up to the sight of your unit hunkering down behind a wall about to mount a final stand against an advancing force. Then everything goes white...

Now that it is clear that Makarov is responsible for the invasion General Shepard has been given a blank check to go after him and Shepard intends to "spend every cent of it killing Makarov." The 141 decide to turn the tables by procuring a nuke at a Russian sub base. All goes well. The unit parachutes in, sneaks past the initial guards, attacks the main base, and defends the sub while Price secures the sub. Well Price takes a bit further and actually fires a nuke, at America.

Fortunately Price did this in order to "put out one fire by setting off a bigger fire next to it. snuff out the oxygen."

Back in the States the Army Rangers prepare for their last stand when Price's nuke goes off over America. While there is no fallout from radiation the resulting EMP does knock out all electrical systems in the city and surrounding area. Saved by the 141 from the other side of world Ramirez's unit make their way to the rally point Whiskey Hotel aka The White House. Upon reaching it you discover it has been taken by the Russians and must be retaken. While fighting through the White House the unit receives word that DC has been declared a lost city and will bombed unless green smoke goes up from enough locations to show that it is back under American control. Guess what you have to do? After getting to the roof of the White House to fire off green smoke Foley's unit declare that whenever they get the green light to go to Moscow they burning it down. This concludes your play as Ramirez.

Makarov has been tracked down to two possible locations, safe houses at the Georgia/Russia border and an old airfield in Afghanistan. Roach and Ghost go to the safe house and Soap and Price go to the airfield. As Roach you and Ghost make it to the safe house (after first being ambushed) and while you don't find Makarov you do manage to find lots of data on his operations. You download the info and fight tooth and nail to the extraction point. Shepard himself meets you...and betrays you. He kills Ghost and Roach and burns their bodies in a pit. The last thing you hear is Price calling over the radio warning you not to trust Shepard.

Meanwhile at the airfield (called The Boneyard) Price and Soap did manage to find Makarov but as they were closing in Makarov's men are attacked by Shepard's men who are also there to get rid of Soap and Price. Believing that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend." Makarov gives Price the location of Shepard's hideout. Deciding that Shepard is the bigger fish Soap and Price leave Makarov be (and this is the last you hear of him, surely he will be back in the sequel) and choose to take out their boss. But first you have to get to the other side of the airfield to reach your getaway plane and the only thing in your way is a war between two armies and both sides are more than willing to kill you on site.

With information on Shepard's location the pair head to a network of caves in Afghanistan. At first they are able to start off with quite the bit of stealth but after a while their cover of blown and full on combat ensues. Shepard makes his way out of the back by way of a boat along a nearby river. You (as Soap) give chase with Price laying cover fire. Shepard manages to get to a chopper waiting upriver but Price manages to shoot it down. However your own boat is taken over a waterfall.

You wake up and only with your knife you pursue him from the wreckage. You approach him for the kill but he evades, smashes your head on a nearby abandoned, and stabs you in the chest with your own knife. Shepard draws his gun (the same one he kills Roach and Ghost with) and prepares to finish Soap. But as any villain does he reveals his intentions. Shepard has been looking for his shining moment when he would rise as a great war hero. While the actions of Foley's Army Ranger unit were of no major consequence (in fact since they were acting under Shepard's command their acts of bravery make him look even better) the 141 was dangerously close to bringing Makarov to justice which would end the war since a great hero needs a great villain. Just before he fires Price jumps into the fight. They battle back and forth hand to hand but Shepard gets the upper hand. With what may be your last ounce of strength you pull the knife from your chest and throw it right into Shepard's left eye. A few seconds later your escape chopper comes in and carries Price and a badly injured Soap away as the credits roll.

A pretty intense game to say the least. The invasion of America by Russian forces is a nightmare come true for those who feared war with Russia during the decades that followed the end of World War 2. I especially like the helicopter ride while trying to get out of DC. Very emotional and really powerful. And awesome game and I can't wait for the third installment.

Oh as for the title of the post. Its a phrase that was used several times out throughout the game. Basically it means, "Chill out" or "Calm down".

I spent so much time playing this game that I just had to do a post for it.

A store called "As seen on TV"

Yes you read that right while I was on vacation in Alexandria, VA I came across this store called "As seen on TV". I know right?

Just as the name implies this store was full of just about any item you've seen on those late night infommercials. Slap Chop (including a competing product called the "Tap That", ShamWow, ChiaPets, Natural Bras, Snuggies, Redi-Set-Go, that baking pan that has the mold that will precut your brownies, that cake pan mold that will let you make giant cupcakes, etc....

Interesting. A place for all those items to be readily available to those that don't stay up late at night and may not know about those products.

This song is awesome parody material...part ni

Okay if you recall a short while ago I did a post admiring the parodiability of Beyonce's "Single Ladies". Well here are two more.

Renee managed to dig up a performance of the song by the Chipettes. Nice.

The next one needs a bit of an introduction unless you are just enough of an anime fane to know what The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. For those of you that don't know I mentioned a while back.

Now I'll admit I've never seen the anime myself but I am aware of the cool closing theme and the dance routine that goes with it:

Now check this out:

Awesome right?

Time to catch up...

Okay thankfully I was able to at least read my blogroll and kinda keep up with it so that's not out of hand (although I may have still missed some stuff) however I just noticed I have not posted in over ten days and I have a lot to go over from my vacation. I just hope I can recall it all.

Get ready because if this goes like I think it is its going to be a bum rush of posts on different things.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Weekly Mashup Stage 3 (Out of the office Style)

Well I'm about to go off on vacation. I'm going to head up to Alexandria, VA to visit an old friend for a few days and will be back in around the 21st. I'm doing this post to say I'll be out because I don't know what my internet availability will be and even then I don't know how much time I'll get to read much less post (so the blog roll will be deep upon my return). Hopefully I'll get to go to DC and play tourist again like I did last year since I only got one day for that. But before I head out I want to mention a few things I've seen but did not have time to fully post on.

Ball Tapping: Toy Soldier talks about the attitude toward hitting males in the genitals.

Feminism is not Dirty but it is Exclusionary: Renee takes a moment to critique the exclusionary tendencies of feminists. Her critique is mostly from the perspective of a woman of color. Interesting that someone has already come in and commented with a jab at MRAs. But feminists are the reasonable ones right?

Discrimination-Based Teacher Education Plan at University of Minnesota:
A branch of the University of Minnesota may require all education students at the school to understand and accept that they are either privileged or oppressed and that they be well-versed in issues like "white privilege," "institutional racism” and the "myth of meritocracy in the United States."
I think the hearts of those that came up with this are in the right place but I am really concerned about requiring someone to accept something as a part of their education. And I'm even more concerned because the students in question intend to become future teachers. Not saying its doomed to fail but I think there be some serious looking at the curriculum.

European Court tells Germany to change its laws on right of single fathers: Robert points to a possible silver lining in the current state of German law in which a single father can only have joint custody if the mother consents to it.

Experiment in single sex classrooms: A school in has been experimenting with the idea of single gender classrooms as an alternative to mix gender classes in an effort to see how they have an effect on how children learn.

Choosing your child's gender: If you had the choice would you actively pick your child's gender?

Now you folks be good while I'm gone. I don't want to come back and find you been acting a fool.


Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What's with the mixed messages on male sexuality?

I was sitting in the car about to go into the store yesterday evening when a woman that works in another department at my company was coming out. I'll come right out and say that I think this woman is sexually attractive and under the right circumstances I would indeed have sex with her. Two things crossed my mind. First this woman did not fit the image of what I, as a man, am told is sexy. She is black, doesn't have the so called correct proportions that make a woman sexy (in her case that would mean she doesn't have a big ass and tig ole bitties that "exotic" women of color are associated with), speaks her mind, and does not fall in the age range of the women men are told are attractive (in fact she is nearly twice my age, yes you are reading that right). Secondly while I think this woman is sexually attractive I did not have to fight off the lustful desire to have sex with her by any means necessary that men are stigmatized with. So I began to think about the mixed signals we get about our sexuality.

In one respect men are shown images of scantly clad women showing off almost every part of their body (while leaving the "good parts" to the imagination). These women are usually cut from a very exclusionary mold. Supposedly women are only sexy if they have a certain body shape, are a certain weight (check out Kate Harding on that), are a certain skin color (the exception being that WOC are sexy because they have a foreign and wait for it...."exotic" beauty to them. pay Renee a shout), have no disabilities (I've just recently been thinking about this one so I don't have a source to drop on you), fall in the age range so that she could pass for barely legal (I haven't seen a lot on ageism when it comes to sexual attraction but that doesn't mean its not out there), and only act "feminine" (there are plenty of feminists site to look this one up). Such women are what is presented to men as sexy and that in order to be considered "a real man" one must have such a woman (not just be with but have as in own, control, and treat like property). This is why most of the women you see on calendars, on the runway, and in porn come from this mold.

However at the same time media tells men that we are supposed to go for anything with a warm wet hole that can give us pleasure (but with enough homophobia and shame over sex toys to remind us that that warm wet hole must be female genitalia). It says that men are horndogs that will have sex with any woman that is willing and and her not willing is no reason to end the pursuit for the goal. I recall a line from the movie Hackers. Angelina Jolie's character said something to the effect of, "Men have more brains than dogs so they won't go around humping everything in sight." Career, education, friends and even family are not enough to stop us from doing whatever it takes to reach the promised land. And of course these leads to the blanket assertion that men are pigs, dogs, jerks, gigoloes, womanizers, horndogs, perverts, lechers, creeps, etc...

So apparently we are supposed to be extremely picky and selective about the people we find sexually attractive to the point that we exhibit all sorts if -ist behaviors but at the same time we're supposed to be so overcome with lust that we just can't stop ourselves from shoving our cocks in any and every pussy we come across even when our "partner" doesn't want to engage in sexual activity.

Even if my own male sexuality defies both of these signals I still have a problem with them. If for no other reason than once people know that I am male will assume that my sexuality embodies one of those two messages. And I think its worth noting that while these two signals happen at the same time and seem to contradict each other they are both part of why male sexuality is thought to be inherently filthy and vile.

Now despite there being several men who have sexual tastes like mine that don't abide by the established norms there is still a problem with them being established norms. First they undermine men and pigeon hole us into the worst image possible either as -ist hatemongers or rapists waiting to strike. Misandry plain and simple. Next it is extremely sexist towards women as well to imply that in the eyes of men they are expected to conform to a certain image in order to get our attention. These things must be eliminated.

Monday, December 7, 2009

If gay people can't get married here....

then straight people can't get married here either!

I can so hear Margaret Cho saying that. But seriously cacophonies just did a post on a group of Twin City Quakers in St. Paul, Minnesota that have chosen to stop signing marriage certificates for heterosexual couples until the state legalizes gay marriage. I like this idea.

It's a bit shocking that gays are still fighting for something as basic as the right to join in holy matrimony. I mean whats the big deal its not like the bond of marriage is some special and sacred journey that only a select group get to embark on. Seriously?

You mean to tell me that I can offer my hand in marriage (you know that whole, "For richer or poorer, in sickness and in health,..." thing) as the prize of a 20 episode drama fest that is more like high school that "reality" (yes even though these situations have almost NO chance of happening in real life they are "real") in which 10 women each do whatever it takes to convince me to pick her but I can't marry a man that I've met, hooked up with, dated, fallen in love with, and have chosen to spend the rest of my life with? Yes that is one sentence.

I like the way Paul Landskroener, clerk of the Twin Cities Friends Meeting, said it:
"The simplest way to say it is we feel very strongly and very clearly led that in the present time we simply cannot continue to participate in what we believe to be an unjust and inconsistent with our religious testimonies legal marriage procedure," Landskroener said.

I'm not a religious person but if I were (especially if I were a member of the religion that performed marriages for its practitioners) I'd be a bit confused at best and pissed at worst over that. Being expected to unite heterosexual couples that have shared, well absolutely nothing more than bodily fluids and maybe a last name while seeing a loving gay couple that and not being able to unite them.

Now bear in mind that the congregation will still hold heterosexual and homosexual ceremonies and they will go on as they always have, there will just be no signing of marriage certificate. Instead that will have to be done at a justice of the peace. And if this place is holding homosexual and heterosexual ceremonies then that means that only a portion of those people can go to the justice of the peace for the full on marriage license. That is just not right.

A message to my fellow black men....

Only our race matters. Unless you fell into a transdimension warp hole I'm sure you're heard about the mess that Tiger Woods has gotten himself into. Well when it all first started there was an inkling of thought that his injuries were from his wife and not from that accident we all know about. Now while it seems that there is no evidence that he was the victim of DV you notice how there have been pics, skits (hell it only happened on like Tuesday but SNL had a skit ready for Saturday night), videos, and who knows what else making fun of him as a DV victim? Why would it be funny if Tiger were being abused by his wife? Simple, he is a man and men just aren't abused by women and when it happens it is time to make fun of him for no matter what (or by who) if a man is beaten up he deserves it.

In fact have you noticed that the majority of the coverage on this has been either bringing his race into the picture ("because you know that black dick is irresistible" or "this just shows that blacks can't resist the silky goodness of a white woman") or these jokes about him getting beaten up.

I suppose this goes to show that when black men are attacked for race others will come from the woodwork to back us but when the target is our gender we are on our own.

Tip of the Fro to Daisy Deadhead (who graciously linked me in that post as well).

Friday, December 4, 2009

You know what's not okay?


Cross Posted.

I have received this email twice in the last 3 days and I think it's worth talking about because of one simple reason. This goes to show just how people think female against male DV is not just okay but funny.

Yes you can argue that male against female DV happens more often but that does not justify this type of reaction to female against male DV. You can argue that there are more pictures making light of male against female DV but that does not explain why mainstream media ignores female against male DV and such photos can be openly circulated in the workplace with no problem (and while I don't watch any of the late night shows I'm willing to bet that the likes of Leno and Letterman and their audiences had plenty to laugh at on this week).

Time and time again when there is the slightest hint of female against male violence the immediate reactions are to either say he deserved it and make fun of him, assume that she did it in self defense, or simply stay silent about it because male against female DV is the "real" issue that needs to be dealt with because it happens more often . Not very much thought goes into why this type of DV happens, what to do about it, or how to help its victims.

You can't expect to make the world safe for everyone when you base your reaction to DV on the who and not the what (which seems to be a common failing in many a discourse). There is no denying that such treatment of male victims of female abusers is sexist and such treatment is a serious problem. It silences men who are abused in this manner and it creates excuses to justify the actions of abusive women.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

This song is awesome parody material...

Beyonce hit something big with the song and video "Single Ladies".

Mind you the dance steps used in the video were influenced by Gwen Verdon's performance "Mexican Breakfast" (which has been copied dubbed over by so many "me too" idiots that I can't even find her original performance). Well now that Beyonce has made a video influenced I guess its fitting that there are videos influenced by her performance. Well despite all the countless "me too" idiot copies out there there are two that really stand out.

Dancer Shane Mercado performed the dance steps from Beyonce's video very well in this. The video is playing on a green screen and he is dancing in front of it. Mind you the timing is not that great but the important thing is that he has most of those moves down pat. That man can throw it down. I wish I had moves like that.

I'm not even a fan of Dr. Who (and I was overwhelmed and ran in terror when I tried to look up the series to try to get into it) but I like this. Its only a small clip but its funny as hell. And that guy doesn't look too bad either...

I'm sure there are more parodies of this out there and if I find them I'll share.

Conditioner and Water in a Spray Bottle

Last night I talked about how I'm working on taking better care of my hair and one of my first experiments is a concoction of Conditioner and Water in a Spray Bottle. Just to refresh:

Conditioner and Water in a Spray Bottle
I'm not sure where I got this from but I did see it on a site and decided that its at least a cheap start. Basically I got a bottle of conditioner (Suave Naturals Refreshing Waterfall Mist), a bottle of spring water (I would have preferred distilled but there was none available), and a simple spray bottle. I just mixed the water and conditioner in a mix of 5 parts water and 2 parts conditioner.

I've used it once tonight to get a feel for how it would work and so far I like it. The main purpose of this is to be a daily (or twice daily) spray to apply to my hair so that I can break one of my worst habits, combing my hair while it is bone dry. I've been working on breaking that one for the last few months and I can already tell by way of having way less hair breaks in my afro pick and wide tooth comb.

I think it may be worth explaining the rationale behind using conditioner this way. When I first saw this recipe I thought it was silly. I'll bet some of you read that and thought, "But Danny you are supposed to wash conditioner out of you hair." Yes and I thought so too but when I washed my hair about two days ago I realized that when you put conditioner in your hair and rinse it out there is no way in hell you are washing it all out. Chances are some of that conditioner is left behind in your hair to continue moisturizing it. Well why not just add a small amount to your hair like you would add any other leave in product? That is when this mix made sense to me.

I used it when I first made it last night, this morning when I woke up, and once since I got home this evening. So far I'm happy with the results. My hair already feels softer instead of hard and coarse. And its also fun run my fingers through my hair and not have it break while at the same time it be moist but not have a greasy residue or feel heavy from grease.

I'm going to find that list of 10 things to not put in your hair and put those up next.


Fro and I

Okay as I have said before I rock an afro but have I ever told the story behind it? I don't think so. Sit back for a bit.

I grew up during the 80s (born in 80 to be exact) and pretty much the routine for black boys in my area was to either cut it very close, cut designs into it, or copy whatever the current top rappers were wearing. Having grown up in the country there was no barbershop to go to on Saturday like inner city black guys speak of. What we had was a setup of the traveling barber. Now it wasn't a formal business, just that any guys that knew how to cut hair would go around town cutting hair whenever her could and we would even have occasions where the barber may be at one guy's house and several of us would chill at that person's house waiting for our turn. So in a way I guess you could say it was a barbershop. And that's pretty much how it was. Close cut, high top fade, cut some lightning bolts in the side, close cut, low cut fade, etc... Simple cuts and nothing serious.

Well around freshman year of high school I had dry, itchy, dandruffy scalp something horrible. I mean it was to the point that I was washing my hair every other day and it was not cutting it. Once I got into college I realized something, I no longer had regular access to a barber. Well there were a few guys here and there that cut hair in the dorms (note: If you are reading this and are about to go to college on VALUABLE trade skill is hair cutting. You would be surprised at how many college guys need a barber.) but it felt so impersonal from my younger days of actually knowing the guys that cut my hair. So at this point I decided to do what some of my other male friends had done, just cut it all off. You don't need a barber if you are just cutting all your hair off anyway.

After I left college I still pretty much just cut all my hair off until one day I just decided that I do not look good with all my hair cut off (it has to do with my ears sticking out). (I also think that part of my desire to change was because at the time I was still trying to cope with my mom's death.) Well I didn't want to have to maintain a fade that would require a cut every 2 weeks and I didn't have access to someone that could regularly braid my hair so that is when it hit me, Afro. So over the course of about a year I just let my hair grow and only got edgeups (as in cutting around the edges of your hair to establish your hairline) and Fro was born.

Thankfully no one at work has tried to give me any serious lip about my hairstyle (which still shocks me because out of about 300 employees I'm the only black male) and I've been happy. However throughout the years even after no longer having insane amounts of dandruff there is still one demon that haunts me and my hair. I have some of the most coarse, most rough, most dry hair you have ever seen and I'm desperately trying to find a way to remedy that.

I've spent the last year or so trying out different hair products in hopes of finding one that would help soften my hair. The one good prospect I found was a gel called Daily Flake Control from the Soft Sheen Carson Dandruff Solutions line. The stuff cost about $6 for an 8oz. bottle that would barely last me a month. Shortly after I started to buy it it because very hard to find and after a while I had two choices, a hair store that was 100 miles away (hey I live in the country) or buy off the internet. Well about a month ago I found out that that particular product was discontinued. Yeah the only product out of the whole damn line that I used got canned. Well I picked up two other products and while they work just as well (and cost just as much and are just as hard to get) I've decided that I need another solution for my goal of getting Fro to be softer and more manageable. I'm going to try homemade solutions.

I've been looking for sites that focus on black male hair and have not had much luck beyond copying celebrities and ads for shaving products. Well then realized that at the root black male hair seems to be a lot like black female hair so I figure getting some tips and ideas from there can't hurt. So while a lot of what I'm going to do is going to be borrowed from black women's hair sites I'm going to be applying to my black male hair which may sound odd but I don't think it will be that big a deal. And for something this big I will need a place to document my experience. Well what do you I've got a corner right here where I can do such a thing.

So that is the gist of it. Fro needs help and I'm determined to find a way to provide it. In fact I've already started.

Since my main order of business is to get my hair softer I figure moisturizing will be a good place to start. I need a way to moisturize my hair that is not too expensive while still being effective. My first bit of research has been in the way of essential oils and making my own mixtures however there are startup costs that I'm just not quite ready for (I'm trying to hold onto money for my vacation which starts next Friday) yet so I've gone with a start that is a lot cheaper.

Conditioner and Water in a Spray Bottle
I'm not sure where I got this from but I did see it on a site and decided that its at least a cheap start. Basically I got a bottle of conditioner (Suave Naturals Refreshing Waterfall Mist), a bottle of spring water (I would have preferred distilled but there was none available), and a simple spray bottle. I just mixed the water and conditioner in a mix of 5 parts water and 2 parts conditioner.

I've used it once tonight to get a feel for how it would work and so far I like it. The main purpose of this is to be a daily (or twice daily) spray to apply to my hair so that I can break one of my worst habits, combing my hair while it is bone dry. I've been working on breaking that one for the last few months and I can already tell by way of having way less hair breaks in my afro pick and wide tooth comb.

This is just the start. Hopefully by the time I have my routine down I will no longer be using any store bought products for my hair and will be mixing my own moisturizer and eventually shampoo and conditioner. In fact I think the Suave Naturals conditioner I used in that mix I mentioned above has some of the ingredients I saw on a list of ten things not to put in your hair.

I'll get to that in due time.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Men and Sex Toys Revisited

Remember a while back when I talked about men and sex toys? Well I came across this and got thinking about it again.

The picture at the start of those post pretty well describes the current state of affairs when it comes to sex toys and gender (well at least in mainstream American culture). A man that uses sex toys is a loser that is not doing something right and can't get the real thing and is probably a virgin (and this touches on the virgin shaming of women which is another post for another day).

There's a few problems with this expectation that has been cast on men.

First off its not like there is some fail safe in place that actually checks to see if a guy is a virgin before using a sex toy. I'm sure there are plenty of guys out there that have had sex with other people and used sex toys just fine. This part of the expectation comes from the notion that men want sex all the time and are willing to do anything to get it. And with so much effort going into getting as many sex partners as possible for things to end without having one means there has to be something wrong with that guy. Therefore if a guy uses a fleshlight it must be because his best efforts to have sex have failed and he is it as a way to deal with all that uncontrollable animal lust that us males are supposedly born with. This makes him a loser because he can't get a sex partner and has to resort to a sex toy.

Which leads to the idea that a sex toy's only purpose is to provide a pleasure hole for him to dump his dirty seed in (remember male sexuality is supposedly a dirty thing). No room for experimentation. No room for simple curiosity. No room for him being in a relationship and he is in the mood for sex but his partner is not. No room for using it to work on his sexual performance with his partner. No room for being stressed and choosing masturbation as a way to relieve it. Nope if a guy is using a sex toy its because he is overcome with lust and must spill it somewhere, somehow, and fast.

You notice how I've been saying partner this whole time? Well that is because there is often the assumption of heterosexuality when talking about men and sex toys. Back in that paragraph where I talked about a guy using sex toys is assumed to be a loser virgin that just couldn't find a sex partner. That sex partner is assumed to be a woman. The majority of sex toys for male use consists of mimicked vaginal openings. Many of them even have labia (both sets) and and clitoris. Yes there are toys that mimic anal openings but most of those are usually advertised with a picture of a woman who is ready to "take it up the ass". So while there is room to talk about anal sex bear in mind that said anal sex is still assumed to be heterosexual. (But please spare me the theories that men that want to have anal sex with women are secretly gay or bisexual.)

So maybe if we can get away from assuming that men that use sex toys are straight virgins that are so horny they have to bust a nut in something immediately I think we would all be better off.

Damn its not wonder that outside this blog I've only told one person I own sex toys.

Monday, November 30, 2009

My lovely Anastasia, drifting through The Night on Feathery Wings

Okay so I'm cutting it a bit close. I suddenly hit me today while I was at work that I had not done a song title link post on Voltaire. An interesting guy with interesting music. If I had to put a gener name to his music I'd calling Gothic Folk music. Go give him a listen. Oh and he also has a thing for making fun of Star Trek and did you may recognize his song "BRAINS!" from the show "Grim Adventures of Bill and Mandy". The following tracks are from his album "Almost Human".


The Night

Feathery Wings

Ah there we are and with 20 minutes to spare. See ya next month.

So according to Axe...

If a girl doesn't like a guy's hair its okay to liken him to a pig and the only way to remedy it is to style it in a manner that is girl approved.

This ad has been bothering me since I first saw it many months ago but I saw again tonight and I decided to make a post about it.

"And why make a post about it Danny? Its just a hair ad.", you may ask.

The reason is because this is one of those mainstream examples in which the insecurities of males is being played on. It would be one thing if they were just marketing this as a way to prevent greasy hair for guys who don't like their hair that way. No that would be too easy and might not sell as many products. So to make sure the message really gets home they chose to market it by playing to one of the main things on the mind of many teenage boys, girls.

Pretty much the ad is telling young boys that that hair style in and of itself is dirty (hence the pig), girls think its not attractive, girls don't like boys with hair like that, and the only way to get girls to like them is to use that product to make sure their hairstyle is girl approved. Now if this were an ad directed at girls I'm sure it would not be hard to realize this but since were talking about boys its a bit harder to come to terms with this type of advertising.

People for the most part don't want to believe that boys have body image issues. For boys themselves it goes against the years of training to make us think we simply don't have body image issues and to think so is to not be the real man (not to be confused with "being like woman", simply not being a man) we are supposed to be. For girls/women they may be thinking that if the boys/men in their lives are in conflict over this they that it is a sign that they are weak and, going back to what boys/men themselves think, will have nothing to do with a weak man. For those who advocate for girls/women they seem to only want to bring up the issues of boys/men when it suits them and leave them swept under the rug otherwise.

Just like every other walk of life men/boys have their own body image issues to deal with and it is not good to sweep them away and bring them up only when they are convenient to talk about.

So the next time you see one of those axe ads (and frankly I think the vast majority of them are offensive to boys/men) and want to laugh take a moment and ask yourself would want your hair style to be compared to a dirty pig and told to change your ways just to get girls (or boys) to like you.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Here we go again...

If you recall a while back I talked a bit about how critics (namely women and feminists) had already decided that a recently formed group with a focus on men was sexism, misogynistic, and anti-woman. You know the ones that say its not a zero sum were declaring that devoting a little time to helping men in and of itself is a detriment to women.

Well it seems the same thing is happening at Manchester University.
Manchester University has created the first official MENS Society – Masculinity Exploring Networking and Support – despite outrage from critics who claim the existence of such a group undermines women's ability to speak out for equality.
How exactly does men speaking up for themselves undermine women's ability to speak out for equality? Is this men's group actively trying to silence women's groups? Are they attacking women's advocates? Are they trying to speak on behalf of women? Apparently the very act of men speaking for themselves harms women.

If you look at some of the commentary from critics and detractors on this their criticisms undermine their very own messages about equality. Well that is if they think that part of equality is that everyone should have a fair voice. But let's take a look shall we.
Given that men already dominate political and economic life, British society didn't need "much more celebration of masculinity," claimed one critic.
This type knee-jerk reaction is very common among those who have a an anti-male stance on gender relations. Well not anti-male so much as anti-anything that might help the men. The backbone of the argument that men dominate the political and economic arena is assumption that men are a monolithic entity and all of them practice the same masculinity. Therefore since they are all the same and are all at the top there is no need for them to need anymore space. You see how that does not make much sense when you think about it? To presume that all members of any one class are already at the top and none need space is to lump them all together. To conclude that the interests of all the members of that one class are being addressed by those at the top is to assume that they all have the same interests.

I thought the point of equality was for everyone to have a fair voice. Yet some see fit to dictate for other people who already has a fair voice. "We are for equality for all people...but only certain people get to have a say."

Then you have some commentary that seems to answer its own question.
Olivia Bailey, NUS national women's officer, said: "Discrimination against men on the basis of gender is so unusual as to be non-existent, so what exactly will a men's society do? To suggest that men need a specific space to be 'men' is ludicrous, when everywhere you turn you will find male-dominated spaces."
So we have a woman that apparently knows what the real deal on discrimination against men is all about. Mind you this is going on in the UK so what the men over there are dealing with may be a bit different that what men here in the US are dealing with but I'll bet there is a lot in common. Being expected to act, dress, perform, etc. in a certain way in order to be considered a "real man". Child custody. Being silenced when victimized. Assumptions based on appearance. Paternal leave. Birth Control. Oh and people like Olivia here speaking on your experiences despite not being a part of your gender and even if they were their own life experience does not magically nullify the experience of the men that have been wronged in those ways (so please spare me the effort of pulling out a male feminist whose life and reality does not match mine in an effort to "prove" my experiences didn't happen or that they happen so rarely that no effort needs to go into addressing them).

Funny thing is by her asking that question and basically telling men they have no issues that need to be addressed she actually justifies their existence. I guess according to her the only issues men have to deal with is the oppression they impose on women.

And then you have those that just assume the worst of any activity in an effort to shut down anything that they think is a threat.
Caitriona Rylance, chair of Manchester Communist Students, said that while the society now claimed to be about "self-betterment" it's original aims were "Top Gear shows, gadget fairs, beer-drinking marathons and Iron Man competitions".
So what exactly is wrong with those activities in and of themselves? Nothing. I wouldn't dare question a women's group on campus having a beauty day with spas, massages, and shopping. Why? Because in and of themselves such activities are harmless. Yes they are typically associated with a specific gender but does that mean its a bad thing for that gender to indulge in that activity? So what if a woman wants to go to a club to check guys out. BFD if an man goes out to a bar to get a drink and talk to women. Does that suddenly mean they are against the cause? Yes there are things that can go wrong with those activities but that's a problem with those people that take it too far or "go there" not the activity.

If those critics were really interested in equality as they say they are wouldn't they take the time to give them a chance and see if this group is one they want to work with instead of treating it like a threat their eternal victim-hood status?

Kat Wall, the Oxford University's student union vice president for women hopes that he would work with the women's campaign to "facilitate a discussion forum on the issue of masculinity". I wonder if she is going to make the first move or does she have a timer counting down waiting for the time to complain that they aren't trying to work with women if he doesn't make the first move in time.

Just as what happened before with the group at the University of Chicago people are rushing to judgment on a group and basing that judgment solely on the who and not the what (kinda like people who decide whether or not something is sexist solely on the who instead of the what). If those men's groups do act out of line and start doing the things these people are accused of then yes by all means lay into them (which of course they will do with the "See we were right all along!" angle). I just wonder if these critics will be as vocal if groups like this actually do some good and shut down their prejudging statements.

I have to say that this is bit of a tell of the real intentions of some who call themselves advocates, activists, and so on for women. Last I checked the point of activism is to raise the level of consciousness and quality of life of everyone to a fair playing field. But from the words of some of these critics it is apparent that some actually have the goal of elevating some and hold others back (perhaps even the occasional effort to push them further down). Instead of listening to the voices of this subset just assume they are the same as the ones at the top. Instead of asking what concerns they have just assume they have no legitimate concerns because of their gender. Instead of waiting to see what they do just assume the worst from get go. The only people undermining the ability of women to speak out for equality are these women who seem to have a one sided sense of equality.

Other articles about this at the Guardian:
Jennie Agg questions why feminists and women's groups seem to be putting so much energy into shutting groups like this down.
Ben Wild, one of the founding members of the UKs first university MENS society, responds to the criticisms of such groups.

Beware the CAPS lock and NUM lock

Long time since I shared an echo but this is a very big one. In fact I'm a bit shocked I haven't covered it already.

When working in an environment that has usernames and passwords there WILL be a LOT of resets for them . And there is one reason for that.

Forgetting the NUM lock and/or CAPS lock are on.

You would not believe how many calls I get from people saying they are locked out and "know" that they typed their password correct. Chances are they are hitting the correct keys but have either turned on the CAPS lock for a form they filled out earlier or shut off the NUM lock key when reaching for the number 7 at the far right of the keyboard.

Mind you this only counts when dealing with case sensitive (meaning the program in question recognizes the difference between "A" and "a") passwords but there a lot of passwords that are case sensitive so this is worth keeping in mind.

As for the NUM lock just make sure you are hitting that Page Down/Page UP/7 or whatever it is you're reaching for. And also remember that sometimes the NUM lock may not be automatically coming on when you long onto you pc.

Tip: Most modern keyboards have CAPS lock and NUM lock indicator lights at the top of the keyboard either above the F Keys or above the NUM lock button itself to the far right. Usually the CAPS lock light is marked with a "A" and the NUM lock light is marked with a "9" or "1" (without the quotations of course). The indicator light being lit (usually green) means the lock is on and the light being off means its off.

So before you get to typing in your passwords make sure the CAPS and NUM locks are in the right position.

Monday, November 23, 2009

This is what feminism is talking about

Okay so I'm watching Trauma and during one of the last commercial breaks an ad came on about some of the people who have been nominated for the People of Year Award. One of the names that came up was Octomom.

No the announcer speaking on the ad did not say her actual name. In case you have forgetten (and I will admit that I had look it up real quick) her actual name is Nadya Suleman.

This is a problem. Regardless of what your stance is on the morality of her having so many children but to call her Octomon reduces her to her uterus. This is something that women have been having to deal with for ages and this, saga for lack of a better word, does not help with the destruction of that minimizing.

Besides the award is for the person of the year not body part of the year.

I really hope that if she wins the media will at least have the decency to use her real name on the cover of the magazines, newspapers, and websites.

Just to remind you her name is:

Nadya Suleman

Say it with me folks:

Nadya Suleman

So does that make me straight curious as well?

I was looking through my posts and noticed that while I did cross post this at ethcofem a few weeks ago I didn't post it here. So I guess I can't say I cross posted it then. Here goes.

Hey folks this is Danny (aka sanguinedream) from My Corner. I've been invited to become a contributor here and I just could not refuse.

Since Cacophonies seems to be up for a wide range of topics I'm gonna go left field for a bit and talk about sexuality for my introduction.

I'm sure you are more than likely familiar with the term "bi-curious" right? If not it refers to one is generally identifies as heterosexual or homosexual but has curiosities about romantic or sexual activities with people of the same (if you're heterosexual) or opposite (if you're homosexual) gender. So to be curious about romance or sex of the orientation opposite of what you identify with there is the implication that you have never done such things before. So what if you have no sexual or romantic experience?

I've called myself heterosexual for the vast majority of my life. Checking women out. Paying attention to women in porn (but not lesbian porn but that is another story for another day). Fantasizing about women. Par for the course for a heterosexual man (or homosexual woman) right? However about five years ago I opened up to thoughts about homosexuality. Checking men out. Paying attention to men in porn. Fantasizing about men. Par for the course for a homosexual men (or heterosexual woman) right?

Thing is I have no experience in either one.

So based on the fact that I have no experience in heterosexual or homosexual romance/sex does that mean that I'm in some weird limbo in which I'm straight curious and gay curious at the same time? Or can I just call it simply curious since without any experience I'm still at the starting point of discovering my sexuality? Just wondering.

So now my BMI is more important than my GPA?

Okay I can get down with having physical education requirements for graduating school. I agree that physical fitness should be a part of one's education if for no other reason than the fact that there are valuable life lessons that can be picked up on the court/field/etc... and used outside the sports arena. However this is where I draw the line.

It would seem that back in the Fall of 2006 the entering class of Lincoln University in Pennsylvania had a new condition added to their requirements for graduation.
Entering freshmen at Lincoln University have to get their body mass index, or BMI, measured. And if the result comes back above 30, the threshold for obesity, the students have to take a physical education class called "HPR 103 Fitness Walking/ Conditioning" or they can't graduate. Details here.

Now as I said there are most certainly benefits to being fit and you can learn life lessons in sports (like teamwork) but to have your diploma, you know that thing you've spent at least four years working and paying for, depend on having a certain BMI is just another barrier to the badly needed education people need in order to be competitive in the job market. Well yeah they give you an out with that "HPR 103 Fitness Walking/Conditioning" class but this really sounds like its just a class in which you are asked, "You do know that you are unhealthy, overweight, costing healthy people millions in healthcare dollars, and are likely to live a short unhappy life right?"

Damn I just thought that my study habits had to be up to snuff when I went back to college, looks like I will have to be in shape too.

Tip of the Fro to Shakesville.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Weekly Menu November 23-27 Extra Stage!!!

Thanksgiving is coming up and a staple of this time of year is the sweet potato. A few weeks ago I got a few pounds of them because that was the only way I could get them. So with so many sweet potatoes we've had to come up with other ways to eat them besides the usual puddings, pies, and baking. Out of nowhere this past Friday I decided I wanted some sweet potato pancakes. I went to the store to pick up some syrup and came across some oatmeal pancake mix. Curiosity took over and got it. What started off as one idea actually ended up as two.

Battered Sweet Potatoes
Yesterday my dad had the idea of slices some sweet potatoes up and pan frying them then topped them with cinnamon and sugar. Well there were about 4 leftover and I had the idea of dipping them in batter. This is as simple as it sounds. Just prepare your pancake batter (by mix, from scratch or however) and dip the sliced sweet potatoes into the batter then pan fry them. After frying them golden brown on both sides take them up and lay them in a plate covered in paper towels (to catch excess grease) and sprinkle with ginger, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Enjoy

Sweet Potato Pancakes
This morning I got to my big idea. First I prepare the pancake batter. Just prepare it how you normally would. Set it to the side. I did this first because when the sweet potatoes are done you want to add them immediately to the pancake mix. Next I peeled and cut up a sweet potato and boiled it. As far as how much water try not to use too much. My point here is that you don't want to have to drain the water off the potatoes because that water is going to be holding some (if not most) of the natural sugar that came out of them during boiling. I got lucky this time in such a way that when they were cooked enough there was enough water in the pot that I was just able to dump them (potatoes and remaining water) right into the mixing bowl with the batter and mix and mash them up. Now since you have added another ingredient and more water you may have altered the consistency of the batter and may need to add more dry ingredients to counter it.

From there its a matter of making pancakes (and I plan to do waffles next time) like you normally would.

Yeah I know its not fancy but its a bit of a mix up from the norm and allows me to use up some extra potatoes.


Weekly Menu November 23-27

Okay so I know its been a long while since I did one of these but I haven't been up to anything noteworthy lately. But today I had one that I just had to put up.

Deer Fried Rice

Yes you read that right. Deer Fried Rice. I live in the country and wild game is plentiful. One of my dad's coworkers got some deer and decided to hook him up with some. I needed something to eat this week for lunch at work and I'm a bit low on cash. Remember necessity is the mother of invention.

About 1lb of deer meat cut into strips - Okay for those of you that have probably never seen a deer outside of tv you can use just about any meat you can get your hands on beef, chicken, pork, etc...

Cooked Rice - I used one of those Boil 'n' Bags of rice. Didn't need a lot so I didn't feel like cooking proper rice.

1 1lb. bag of Frozen Peas - Just one of those Bird's Eye bags of frozen peas on the steamer bag. But don't cook them yet, we're going to stir fry them.

1 can of Mushrooms - Simple can of mushrooms from the store.

For seasoning:
Italian Seasoning
Five Spice
Black Pepper
Garlic Powder
Ground Ginger
(But feel free to use your own choices)

First you gonna cook your meat in the oven. Spray a cooking pan and put some seasoning on it then lay your meat on top of it then put some more seasoning on of that. The effect is get seasoning on the top and bottom of the meat (so don't go crazy with it). Pour in about 4 tblsp. of vinegar and about 4 tblsp. and here is the key, cover the pan with tin foil. Place it in the oven at 200 degrees for about 1 hour (you will have to change the temperature and time depending on your meat). This would be a good time to prepare your rice by whatever method. Once it is finished cooking you will notice that there is some juice built up in the pan. SAVE IT!!! In fact just put the pan of meat to the side and we will get back to it later.

Okay let's get a skillet out put some oil in it and heat it up its time to fry it up. First off add your mushrooms and seasoning and let them fry for a bit. Next you want to add the frozen peas, still frozen, and cover the skillet. You want to let them go for about 5min. or at least until you can take one of the peas out of the pan and eat it and its not cold. Next you want to add the rice and mix it altogether and let it fry for a few more minutes. Now remember than juice that was in the pan of meat you cooked earlier? Add it and stir it in. The juice may seem to just sit there but it will evaporate and the rice will absorb it. Turn off the heat and you have Deer Fried Rice.

That's all there is to it.