Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What's the line between right and wrong?

Information is valuable. Look at how much money is spent on programs, software, and other measures that are implemented in order to protect it. And why does it need protection? Because there are people trying to gain access to it.

But what makes hacking or other means of gaining someone's personal information without their consent bad? As I understand it the "without their consent" is the main thing that people point to as why taking someone's information under such circumstances is wrong. 

Well what if the morality/immorality or right/wrong of hacking a computer to take someone's information without consent wasn't determined not by the act that was committed but by the who the act was committed against?

A few days ago I saw a link to this article come up in my Facebook feed where the friend who put it up was cheering for it.

Let's be clear. This friend was happy over the fact that the hacker group Anonymous had hacked their way into getting personal information about members of the Westboro Baptist Church and posting it in a public place.

Look I despise the rude, disrespectful, and downright actions that Westboro has taken in recent years from picketing military funerals to (at least) planning to picket the funerals of some of the children killed in last week's Sandy Hook Elementary Massacre. What they are doing is terrible and I would like to see them fade from existence just as much as the next person.

However I don't think that excuses stealing their personal information and sharing it in public.

Just like any other citizen members of Westboro have rights to privacy of information. Now from what I can tell while the things members of that church do are vile and immoral none of them are explicitly illegal either. If so then I could at least see the argument that Anonymous' hacking and sharing of information as akin to providing information to authorities for wanted criminals but even then that would call for sharing the info with law enforcement, not with the general public.

Let me flip things around for a bit.

There's no shortage of people who think that the things that members of the Occupy Movement do and say are vile and immoral. So what if Anonymous hacked an Occupy website, got information on some of its members and shared it with the public? Would the court of public opinion change it's answer?

I know this sounds odd but I just think that when, "What do I think of them personally?" is what determines if an act is a good or bad thing, something may be wrong.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Is it really the thought that counts?

Now that we have seen the Mayans weren't as accurate about the end of the world as we thought (or maybe Dr. Who had already preemptively save the world from that threat, who knows) Christmas is upon us once again and with Christmas comes gifts. And with gifts some shipping.

A few nights ago while thinking about what else to add to the main gift I had purchased for my girlfriend I found out that Bath and Body Works had a "Buy 3, Get 3 Free" sale going on. Topping off a gift with some body lotions and shower gel doesn't sounds like a bad idea right? I was already familiar with what scents she likes but I wasn't sure exactly which products to buy for her. Let me show you what I'm talking about.

For example the scent "Carried Away" is available in shower gel, body spray, body cream, body wash, body lotion, bubble bath, and body butter. So that's seven different products in a single scent. Multiply that by the several dozens of scents they carry and you can see how daunting this can get when you're trying to pick 6 products from hundreds. Even though I know which 3-4 different scents she likes that still means I had to pick 6 out of 28 products.

Well not being sure which ones to pick I asked what must be some sort of universal mistake.
I asked if she would be up for going out shopping and she could pick the exact 6 that she wanted.

Her response was golden.

"You think I'm going to go with you to pick my own gift? Hell no."

So here is what I'm wondering. Was I really that out of line to offer to take her shopping so that she could get exactly what she wanted? (Bear in mind this was only something to go along with her main gift, which is a closely guarded secret.)

And while we are talking about Christmas gifts what's your opinion on gift cards? A way to let someone get what they want or an easy way out of shopping?

Do you have any other shopping or gift giving/receiving pet peeves about the Christmas season to share?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

"If You Really Respect Women, You'll Leave This Gender Inclusive Event"

So about a week or so ago the London Feminist Film Festival kicked off. One particular film, Lesbiana – A Parallel Revolution was apparently gained so much attention that it had to be moved to a larger room and them moved again to a larger room to satisfy the viewing crowd. When the turnout for a movie warrants not one but two location changes you would expect it to be the highlight of the festival right?


It would seem that activist and academic Julia Long decided the viewing crowd needed to thinned out a bit.

So she asked all the men in attendance to leave.

Now let's get one thing straight. Regardless of whether Julia had the actual power to make this move, regardless of how justified she might feel over it, and regardless of how badly she wants to pretend that by calling her own on it is a distraction from the "bigger picture", it was a bad move.

The event was advertised as gender inclusive and tickets were sold in a gender inclusive manner. If this had been billed, advertised, and sold as a women's only event I would have been the first to actively defend it. I don't think that the mere existence of women's only spaces is an inherently bad thing (but I can't help but notice how many think that the mere existence of men's only spaces is inherently bad). It's a matter of what happens in those spaces that will tip that scale one way or another.

However this viewing, and as far as I can tell the entire festival was not built up as a woman's only space. When Julia asked for all the men in attendance to leave she invoked the very exclusionary nature that is ultimately killing all of us. Sure she wrapped it up in a package of pretty words (which I'll get to in a bit) the fact of the matter is after a gender inclusive audience was assembled to be educated on a topic that someone else worked hard to create and present on she ACTIVELY segregated the audience. This is one of those times where "intent doesn't matter" kicks in. No matter how badly she tries to explain that she didn't do this to single out and exclude men that is precisely what her "request" did.

Now in her own response piece Julia tries to weasel her way out of being called out and say that she didn't actually ask all the men in the audience to leave. Let's look at a quote, from her own response article, from she said,
"I just wonder if there are any men that would like to show their solidarity and leave at this point, out of respect for autonomous women's space. It's a polite invitation, but I just thought you might like to consider it, as political allies. Thank you." [Cheers and applause.]
So while she may not have straight up asked the men to leave she made the "request" in the form of a catch-22. I can't be the only person that sees this as, "If you really respect women, you would leave." She wanted to get rid of the men in the audience but instead of doing so in a direct manner (which is ironic given that near the end of her article she called herself  "...asserting the right of women to demand our own spaces...") she turns if back on them so that if they don't leave it means they don't respect women.

I dare say that if Long had any respect for the crowd at that event then she would have at least pushed for creating a women's only space from the get go and holding it up as such. What she did was underhanded. She took an event that was meant to be an opportunity for true solidarity and learning and turned into the Julia Long Grandstand Show.

In her article she name drops Audre Lorde, invokes the Montreal Massacre by Marc Lepine, and generally reflects the trouble she caused back on to those calling her on it and then tries to take the hire ground with some "the ball is in your court" closing remark.

So Julia if the ball is in my court here is what I'm going to do with it. I'm going to take it and go find women and feminists that actually want men to participate in this "bigger picture" you speak of. And in the event that they want their own spaces will have the courage to assert that right in a way that doesn't put men in a double bind. There are plenty of women and feminists out there that when they want a woman's only space will actually call it so from the get go, attacks and all, not let guys in and then change the rules later in way that protects them later when called on it.

But I'll say this Julia. If the time comes that you designate a space as woman only from the get go and some guys try to horn in on it, I got your back in defending it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

10 Things I've Learned From Dating

Over the last month or three I've been trying to get the hang of this whole dating thing. It's been hard. I have picked up quite a few things since I started seeing my girlfriend. This list is a part of my process of getting used to these changes.

1. Tolerance: Simply put I hate Mountain Dew. My coworkers main line the stuff but I would rather drink a vial of poison because it would probably taste better. Don't get me wrong though, the Code Red flavor of Mt. Dew is the goodness but the only use I've found for the original is to put cherry liqueur in it (which basically turns it into Code Red with alcohol). Guess who loves the stuff and guess who is now keeping a small stash of it at his place for her? AND she likes Corona....

2. Share and share alike: Okay so several years of solitude has made me a bit possessive. Turns out she enjoys wearing my shirts. I think it's a smell thing for her. She has also taken a liking to the fairy and angel shirts I own.

3. Dinner for two: I am no slouch when it comes to cooking. However I find myself in a new situation, cooking for another person on a somewhat regular basis. This introduces the concept of, "I don't like....". But this does mean I now have an official taste tester. Two tongues are better than one. I'm even willing to overlook the fact that she doesn't like mushrooms....

4. Public displays of affection: Before I really didn't care one way or another when it came to seeing others display their affection for each other in public. But now that I'm actually engaging in these displays with someone, I have to say that I rather enjoy them.

5. Chatterboxing: Usually when I meet someone new I don't talk a whole lot. Over time as I get to know them and get more comfortable with them I'll open up and start talking more and more. At this point I find myself sometimes cutting myself off when talking to her. Hopefully she doesn't think I talk too much.

6. Everything has it's place: The first time she came over for dinner and a movie I noticed a problem. My chair and a half (that's what the friend the gave it to me called it, it's about the length of a couch cut in half) was at an angle in relation to my TV so that from the chair we would have to be shifted to the left to watch. This is a rather problematic position when you're trying to cuddle with someone as you watch a horror movie. A little bit of shifting and now the tv sits directly across. Speaking of horror movies...

7. Confronting fear itself: When it comes to horror movies (and by that I mean actual scary movies not random blood and gore fests) my rule is pretty much to watch them in the daytime with the lights on. Thanks to her I'm now actually bad-ass enough to watch them at night. A part of me thinks she got me watching horror movies to get me to hug onto her.... :)

8. Spooning: This is true.

9. Maybe I am sexy after all...: When you've gone as long as I have in this world and never had anyone tell you something as simple as "you're sexy" and truly mean it, it kind of weighs on you.  I've been over this before about how I've nearly always felt about my body and I've put in a lot of damn effort to fight it. I know most people would say not to get caught up in looking for validation from others but that is easier said than done. Even now after a few months whenever she gives me such a compliment I still have to actively fight off the desire to question said compliment.

10. New lingo: Before we "became official" as they say I actually called her my ladyfriend but now she's now my girlfriend.  Beyond that I've even gone and come up with my own way of ending the night with her because just saying "goodnight" is boring. Which is why I've added, "KissKiss NightNight" to my phone's custom dictionary.

I'm sure that this list will grow over time (did I mention that she has a young daughter?). There are sure to be more things to learn from dating (and then of course if dating leads to marriage....) so this I guess this could be "10 Things I've Learned So Far...". Here's to hoping I learn even more things from dating.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Jerk By Any Other Name...

So I'm participating in this post over at Good Men Project right. Here's the subheadline of the post:
A respected writer asserts that men in power are liked and women are uniformly hated. Let’s just stop and think about that.
Yeah you know it's gonna be a fun thread. Anyway I came across this gem of a comment from username Lynne:
Dick has become gender neutral. I hear it applied to women as often as to men. However when you call a man a bitch, it’s an additional insult – he’s female as well!
 Can you see what is wrong here?

This Lynne person has declared that calling someone a dick (slang for male genitals) is gender neutral but apparently calling someone a bitch is still is of course still rather female specific.

Well of course it is certain true that when calling a guy a bitch there is implication that he is a woman, no denying that. But let's fill in the part that Lynne conveniently forgot.

To clarify, to call someone a dick is to comment on their behavior and personality. Jerk. Asshole. Bad person. Meanie. And so on. I can't be the only one that has a problem with associating such negative behaviors with male genitals am I?

Now back to the the comment. Lynne asserts that dick is gender neutral. Sure calling someone a dick may be gender neutral in that one may insult men and women with it. But the problem isn't in who is being called a dick. It's a little bit deeper.

You're associating someone's negative personality, behavior, etc... to MALE GENITALS. That means you're not attributing that stuff to the person, you're attributing it to something that's not used much beyond sex, reproduction, and urination.

(Sure I guess you could bring up hormones but if that's the case then when it comes saying that someone that doesn't have a dick, or actually the testicles that usually come with the dick, exactly what dick specific trait is responsible for their behavior?)

In short Lynne is trying to pull a switcheroo on us.

Lynne is saying that when calling someone a bitch we must look at the implications that the word carries and how it is linked to women but when calling someone a dick there is no need to look at such implications.


When you call someone a dick you're referencing male genitals and saying that male genitals are the cause of their attitude or whatever.

That doesn't sound very gender neutral to me.