Monday, January 23, 2017

The greatest distraction

Trump is in office.  The world is soaked in concern about this.  My FB feed is full of it.  When I log into WOW public chat channels are clogged with people yelling about Trump.  No matter where I go I can't avoid it.

My social media is generally extremely Trump negative, largely because I end up friends with people who hate everything Trump is and everything he represents.  In less curated environments though, Trump arguments are virulent and I see both sides.  It is disturbing, for many reasons.

The main reason is, of course, Trump.  He could easily be a trainwreck for the US, but he could even be a disaster for the world.  He wants to nuke people as a matter of course!  But even beyond that it seems as though people seem emboldened to yell racist and misogynist things because Trump won, and that is another whole issue on its own.

But freaking out about it up here isn't doing me any good.  I can't do a damn thing about it, as I am not even IN the US, much less able to vote.

What I think I need to do is to try to avoid it as much as possible.  I don't want issues here in Canada to be ignored by me and mine just because the biggest dumpster fire on earth is blazing away nearby.

Canada's Conservative party has a new crop of candidates to choose from for their leader, and some of them are truly terrifying.

The Liberal party made a lot of promises during the election, and one of the most important, electoral reform, may get tossed by the wayside, largely because the Liberals think they might win more elections that way.


There are plenty of important things to think about here, and I want to focus my energy on them, not on the easy target down south.  It is so obvious and simple to be enraged at Trump, but I don't think that it is something I should spend my emotional energy on.  He is a mess, I can't do shit about it, time to make sure I pay attention to the things I have more control over and which affect me directly.

And hey, if you haven't already called up your local Liberal candidate to demand that the party stick to its election promises, do that.  I did, and I felt good about it, because I know they actually pay attention when you get on the phone and are polite but insistent.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The price of sloppiness

Today I hurt myself while working out.  I was doing a one handed pull across my body and felt the muscle in my shoulder twinge.  It was near the end of the workout and I finished up, finding that the pain wasn't much and it didn't bother me doing the other exercises.  Tonight though, I hurt.  I got a massage and tried the hot tub and it is helping... but I hurt.

I know what I did wrong.  I have put on a lot of extra weight on that particular exercise because I was just cruising along too easily before, and I haven't got a good rhythm for it yet.  Tonight I was being sloppy and jerking the weight around too much instead of maintaining a good slow rhythm.

It is really tempting to do this.  I can make more weight go faster if I just move rapidly and jerkily, but then I end up doing this to myself and regretting it.  I need to go really slow and steady, and just accept that sometimes this means I won't be able to lift as much or do as many reps.  Breaks are ok, and they are far better than hurting myself.

I guess these are the lessons you have to learn over and over.  I know how I *should* do this stuff, but sometimes that good form gets lost in the attempt to just get it done already.

Being really consistent about this isn't just a matter of avoiding pain though.  It is also a matter of progress.  If I want to push harder, get bigger, and raise my numbers, I have to make sure that I don't break myself in the process.  Doing so will just slow me down and prevent me getting places.  I want this process to make me stronger, tougher, and healthier, not give me injuries I can nurse for the rest of my days!

I remember when I was a kid listening to the stories my dad's friends all told about their various surgeries to recover from football injuries in high school.  I vowed that I wouldn't be like those guys, sacrificing their bodies on the altar of entertainment.  I avoided football, but I need to keep that example in mind.  Lifting weights is a fine exercise, and healthy, as long as I don't get stupid.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Are you smart?

At a family event last week I was sitting beside Pinkie Pie when an older relative asked her the question "So, are you smart?"

She was taken aback, and didn't know what to say.  All she got out was a "Uhhhhh...." and stared down at the table.

Normally I try to strike a balance between just putting up with awkward questions from adults towards kids and calling people out but this time I definitely felt I had to step in.  Adults would feel that such a question to another adult would be extremely rude or at the very least ridiculous and I am quite sure it is just the same when a kid is asked such a thing.  What can the kid possibly say?

I turned to Pinkie Pie and said "Well, that is a hard question to answer, isn't it?  Because if you say yes people will think you are bragging, and if you say no, they will think it is false modesty or that you have no self esteem.  No good answers, are there?"

Pinkie Pie nodded in agreement.

I followed up.  "What you did was just fine.  When you are asked a terribly awkward question sometimes all you can do is say Uhhhhh, and that is okay.  Sometimes though you can try to handle it with humour.  You could point your finger up in the air and shout comically 'I am the smartest person .... IN THE WORLD!' and see how that goes."

Pinkie Pie replied that I could manage to pull that off just fine, but that she was sure she could not.

I agreed.  Her position is difficult, especially being the only kid at a table of adults, even more so when the questioner is an older relative she doesn't know.  Figuring out how to respond with humour to deflect awkwardness is a tricky skill especially in those sorts of circumstances.  Fortunately for me I am quite comfortable acting the fool in front of others, but I certainly wasn't so comfortable at her age.

The older relative who made the comment heard all of this quite clearly.  I don't know what they made of it, but they did remark later that I had quite a rapport with Pinkie Pie, so I guess that they weren't too offended by me basically saying that their question was absurd.

I wonder why adults act like this towards children.  I tend to try to treat children like people - people that have limited skills and experience, certainly, but people nonetheless.  Tell them a funny story, ask them what they do for fun, or just discuss things that you find interesting and see what they have to add.  But quizzing them directly in ways that leave them no good answers and which you honestly don't want the answers to anyway?  It boggles my mind.

Pinkie Pie seemed happy with my response to the situation and not particularly fussed about the whole thing.  In the end it was a good teachable moment.  Whether or not she took the basic lesson about responding to awkward questions from higher status people or the advanced lesson of flipping the table to make the asker of an awkward question feel awkward themselves is unclear to me.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Run, the nipples are here!

Naked Man made a post on Facebook today asking people how they would feel about their children seeing a topless woman in a movie.  He has been doing a series of parenting questions like this on all kinds of topics, and I am beginning to wonder if a part of his motivation is getting me all riled up to rant about it and get into fights with his other friends who aren't on the same page I am.

Obviously the answer is that there shouldn't be any differentiation between showing topless people based on sex.  Ideally.  But we don't live in an ideal world, and in the world we live in showing a topless female has a different result than showing a topless male.  The female in this case would be sexualized, regardless of how she acted, but the male *might* be sexualized but in any case it would be far less so.

That distinction doesn't matter to me though in terms of my response to this question, and indeed it is a ridiculous question to me.  I am naked around Elli on a regular basis, and I am perfectly comfortable with her seeing other naked bodies too.  The idea that a child would be corrupted by the sight of a breast is so absurd to me I can't even think straight about it.  Most of them spent between half a year and two years with their faces smooshed into breasts!  How is it that after that seeing a naked breast will be a disaster?

I don't pretend that I am immune to cultural conditioning!  I notice breasts, a lot.  I saw the movie Riddick recently and I recall quick clearly that there is a topless scene for the one female character but I find myself unsure if there is a topless scene with any of the males in the movie.  I don't think so... but would I have noticed and remembered?  Topless females stand out to me due to a combination of cultural conditioning, feminist principles, and my sexual orientation.  Whereas if a male had been changing into a new shirt and been topless at some point I am not at all confident I would have recorded that, and I suspect this is a common thing, and not just amongst those who are sexually attracted to topless females.

This doesn't mean that we should shelter our children from topless females though.  Even though society conditions us to see that as a sexual thing the correct response is not to give in to it and cover our children's eyes in such situations.  We need to do the opposite.

Okay, maybe the opposite is seeking out topless females to show to our children, and we don't need to do that.  What we need to do is model indifference.  Sure, there are some shirtless people.  Whatever, it is just people's bodies, those don't hurt us.

I don't stop at topless though.  Bodies aren't offensive.  Nudity should not be a crime, nor should people feel like nudity is an attack on everyone else nearby.

But in the world I actually occupy you can't show a breast in a movie without the censors clutching at their pearls and marking the movie as only acceptable for adults.  I won't entirely throw the blame their way either, as those censors are by and large doing what the public wants.  People are terrified of sex, and breasts are sexualized, and thus people feel they must be controlled and hidden and marked 'filthy'.

Which all sucks.  I think things are shifting my way, but I also don't think I am going to live long enough for them to shift as far as I want.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Feral spaceman kills people. Are you not entertained?

This weekend I watched Riddick, a futuristic action movie starring Vin Diesel.  It is the third in the series, though I didn't even realize that when I watched it and I didn't feel like I was missing out.  I really liked it until right at the end a scene went wrong and it bothered me enough to shake my happy feelings about the movie.  (Massive spoilers, in case it wasn't obvious.)

The film got pretty meh reviews, but the complaints everybody else had were largely different from mine.  Mostly people hated the dialogue and the characters, whereas I quite liked them.  People think Vin Diesel is a horrible actor, and they are completely right.  He is the worst.  But even the worst actor can be fun to watch sometimes, and Vin wasn't called up on to do anything interesting here.

In short, Riddick is violent, gory, and brutal.  It has great conflict between four different factions that shifts throughout the movie in ways that are satisfying.  Many futuristic movies totally screw up tech, but Riddick does it right.  There is tech but they don't try to explain how it works or make me cringe with pseudo scientific gobbledegook - the characters just use the tech naturally.  There are advanced cybernetics, energy weapons, FLT travel, and other toys but they fit into the movie smoothly, by and large.  It feels dirty and rusted, patched together, a lot like a western setting but with lasers - it reminds me of Firefly, and that is a good thing.

The conflict mostly takes place between a bunch of violent mercenaries on a deserted planet, so one might expect that the token woman in the film would be there mostly to get rescued.  There is only a token woman called Dahl, but she is a total beast who kicks people's asses.  When they try shitty cat calling, she beats them up.  When one of the bastards tries to rape her, she kicks his ass and acts like it was no big thing.  She also is a lesbian which is great because more queer representation in film is good, especially amongst the hardcore hetero male action movie set.


Near the movie's end the shit is hitting the fan and Riddick tells people how it is going to be.  He goes on about who he is going to kill and how they are going to get away from the aliens, and finishes off with "And then I am going balls deep into Dahl, but only because she will ask me nicely."  It was a jarring because Dahl had already spent enough of the movie fighting off misogynistic crap from the evildoers, she hardly needed the hero presuming she will be available for sex too!

The plot continues, and at the end of the movie Riddick is being rescued by Dahl, pulled up a wire into a spaceship.  She grinds against him, then says "I want to act you something really nicely...." and we are left to assume that they run off to have sex as soon as they get into the safety of the ship.

This makes me grumpy.  You get points for putting lesbians into action movies as fighters, sure, but you lose ALL those points when you have them suddenly convert to being straight just because the male protagonist is so damn sexy.  It especially irked me because there was a superb way to finish that scene that the movie already set up!  Earlier in the movie Dahl says to a guy who is hitting on her "I don't fuck men."  All she had to do when rescuing Riddick was say "You know, you were right when you told us how things were going to play out.  Except for just one thing... I still don't fuck men."

Bam!  She gets to actually stay queer, the conclusion is nicely foreshadowed, and it is even a bit funny when the superman hero of the series actually gets it wrong.  It would humanize him a bit, and make him much more of a character, and less of a caricature.

I found a lot to like about Riddick, but it seems my misogyny detector is set higher these days than even before and stuff like this gets to me.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

For instant fun, just add people

Earlier this week I wrote about how people often overestimate how good other people have it.  They look at what others have, whether it be a relationship, experience, or object and figure it is an endless party.  When the jealous people actually get the thing they desperately crave they usually find out it isn't as good as they had thought it was.  This applies to owning homes (flooded basements), cars (replacing transmissions), kids (midnight tantrums), and sex (oops I bonked your ribs with my knee), and threesomes (oh no, that person has more impressive genitals than I do, how can I compete?).  That last one is what got people's attention.

In retrospect tossing in references to threesomes into a post about being realistic about what you want was going to get attention; I should have known that.

I got several responses to the post in person, on the blog, and on Facebook, and all of them were the same.  The responders generally agreed with my point that people often overestimate how much fun the thing they aren't doing is, but they all said that threesomes actually were just as good as everyone thought, and one person wondered why I said they weren't, given my enthusiasm for them.

There was also some bragging about how great their sex lives were on the basis of having great threesomes, and given my knowledge of the people involved I think the bragging was warranted.

So maybe I was wrong.  Or maybe I just wrote badly.  Possibly both.

Here is the thing:  I didn't write about threesomes not being as good as you think from personal experience.  My experience with group sex ranges from 'That was pretty fun' to 'I have never felt this good before in my life'.  My times with two men and one woman mostly cluster in the 'pretty fun' zone, and with two women it is more of the 'floating on a sea of bliss' type.

But I don't base my thoughts on how everyone works solely on my own experiences.  I have talked to lots of people about their group sex experiences and there are so many horror stories.  People talk about terrible jealousy and competitiveness and mind games.  They tell me about relationships ruined and having group sex because of pressure or guilt.  When I read about people's group sex experiences on sex advice columns or other internet sources there are tales of woe aplenty.

All of which led me to figure that there are people who have good times, no doubt, but that there are all kinds of disasters too.

I don't want to write advice based on my experiences alone.  It is clear I am a bit of an outlier in many ways, so I really ought to carefully consider how everyone else experiences a thing when I tell people what to do.  Yet maybe I give the wrong impression when I do this, and what people really need is my personal take on a subject, a catalogue of the things that happened to me and how I felt about them.  What would that look like though?  'Careers suck, don't bother.  Kids are hard.  Video games, super fun, do that all day.  Also orgies are great.  BAM!'  Is that really useful advice for anyone?

I suppose the real message I should have sent is this:  When you are desperately craving something someone else has, you should know that there is a good chance it won't be nearly as good as you imagine when you finally get it.  It will likely be as good as you imagine at times, but much worse at other times.  It might be great all the time though, or terrible all the time.

That message is true, but truth is random and messy and does not fit well on a motivational poster.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Greens over the fence

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.  More specifically, people always seem to desperately crave whatever it is that other people are doing that they aren't getting themselves.  When they do get it, it practically never lives up to expectations and they rapidly get onto desiring the next thing in line.  The hedonic treadmill, it is called, where people always want more and actually getting more is nothing more than a temporary hit of good chemicals before things get right back to where they were.

The Ferrett wrote a good piece a short while ago about this where he talked specifically about first time teenage sex and threesomes.  People who aren't having sex tend to be all wound up about it, and they have all these ideas about what sex will be like.  The reality is usually completely different from the imagined situation.  Real sex is messy, involves unexpected bodily fluids, falling down, poking people with elbows by accident, and farts that come out at the most inconvenient times.  It isn't usually like our imaginations, much less like porn, and particularly first times tend to be a bit of a disaster.  Mine was!  Not that it was terrible, because I sure wanted to do that again, but it would never have been described as smooth.  (It was my fault, since I was the one who had no idea what I was doing.)

Threesomes are the same thing according to Ferrett.  People not having them feel like it must be this outrageously perfect thing that takes you to a whole new level of sex.  In practice though they are like sex is when you get to the real doing of it - lots of figuring shit out and goofing up.  Also much like two person sex it is far more important to be involved with people that you are comfortable with who can laugh at whatever silliness happens than it is to aim for 'the perfect experience.'

I think though it is useful to extend this a lot further.  People who remember wanting sex, knowing everyone else is having it (even when they aren't), and being desperate to take part in the transcendant experience will also generally remember it being a lot more pedestrian when it actually happened, but this is true of nearly everything.  Remember wanting a car?  Then you get a car and it won't start and you have to cope with getting it to a mechanic and hoping that the mechanic won't announce that you owe $5000 for repairs.  Remember wanting a house?  Then it floods and there are mice and the mice are building rafts to get around during the flooding and can they even do that?

When other people have a thing you want that thing.  But when you get it you aren't going to be nearly as excited as you thought you would be, and the excitement you have won't last nearly as long as you think it will.

This is true for threesomes, sex, new board games, fancy suits, Porsches, vacations, and everything else.

You should keep on striving for new and interesting things, of course, but it is best to be realistic about how much different your life will be when you finally do get them.  Also don't worry too much about how much fun people who have those things are having - it is a hell of a lot less fun than you imagine it is.