Saturday, May 31, 2014

rape culture: almost clear

a gentleman's guide to rape culture is another tough-to-read that's extremely poignant.

most of the article is correct, sadly for all of us. but there's one illogical statement that brings a black mark:
"how are you part of rape culture? well, i hate to say it, but it’s because you’re a man."

that's not true. in the sense that he's using, women in our culture are just as much a part of rape culture. the problem arises when he confuses the word "culture" by meaning both the culture and the social environment that that culture produces.

however, the fact that it's not true doesn't mean that he's not right to say that all men have a responsibility to do something about rape culture. 100%.

he later goes on to define all the things that create and perpetuate rape culture. male or female, if any of those items on the list apply to you then you're a part of rape culture. if you're not a part of the solution, then you're a part of rape culture.

so well done to the author of the article for everything except that one line.

---
oh, look! a clear, complete message that doesn't make it a gender war thing.

it's a cultural problem, not a gender problem. and that means that men can be a part of the solution.

Friday, May 30, 2014

tiredline

i dragged my tired self to gd's last night, and from there we went to p.m. for yet another delicious meal. i was stuffed afterwards, but agreed to walk to yeh! and see how i felt... the walk did give me space for dessert :)
gd decided she wanted to walk all the way home, and i acquiesced even though i really didn't feel up to it. it was a pleasant walk, actually, but while i was fine for its duration i was unbelievably worn out by the time we got home.

i did very little from that point on, staying up just late enough to call my mother for her birthday (voicemail :P) and fall asleep doing some stretches the gd has for our necks.

...

i had some ugly nightmares last night. the one i remember involved gd becoming jealous when i facebook-friended the first girl i kissed, and us rushing through catacombs follows by someone scary. as soon as i confronted him we realized his innocence and he was attacked by the real threat.

...

i was stupidly slow this morning, and returned home, lay on the couch and watched eddie murphy delirious. i was offended, but not enough to turn it off. it was neither funny nor clever, though his impersonations were amazing. still needing to rest, i watching anger management again. that's a fun, cute movie.

i've spent my day since then feeling offline. i don't know what i want to do, i can't bring myself to focus, i've had serious munchies and i haven't felt like going out to the shops in spite of the fact that i'm pretty much out of food.

---
i've been meaning to link to bill gates' 2014 report. he debunks three myths about aiding poorer countries.

#YesAllWomen #NotAllMen #GenderWarsSuck

it all began with this disturbing article on earning love. it makes for extremely uncomfortable reading, but it's on the mark.

i wish i didn't know so many guys who don't get this.

i added, though, that i don't agree that it makes me suck for being a guy. that i agree with about 75% of the conclusion.

one other thing though i think is worth adding, is that guys also need to stop saying "not all guys rape", getting into a defensive corner and doing nothing further about it. we know all guys don't rape but it shouldn't only be up to women to speak out about this kind of thing. more men should be doing it too, like in this article - more guys need to stand up for women instead of just getting defensive and walking away.

i agree, and i also feel that more women need to stop defensively hating on guys for being guys as a default. there's little more offensive to me than being judged for my sex when it's such an integral part of what feminism is fighting.

both sides getting defensive doesn't help stop the problem. we need the good guys to speak out here too though, in our favour, despite some women's anger at them. that might help women feel less angry at all men, and narrow the problem to the culprits.

...

best answer i've heard to the "not all guys rape" cries is this: imagine you have a bag of m&ms, and you know 10% of them are poisonous. not all m&ms are poisonous, certainly. that doesn't mean you'd be wrong to say m&ms are dangerous.

yes, this is a good read. people need to own up to their shit, and stop perpetrating rape culture. i'm very purposefully saying people and not men, because there are plenty of women doing it as well. the two sides on this matter aren't and shouldn't be men and women. the two sides should be those who want equality and safety for all, and those who don't, of whatever sex, gender, race, etc.
i am NOT fighting against men. i am fighting against those who say i'm less then a man, whether they have a penis or not is irrelevant.


[having not read the above properly, i confused it with another version i'd read earlier and would later retract] the m&ms example! is totally fallacious. if you're equating men to m&ms, and you're eating handfuls at the same time without actually examining them first, then you're being irresponsible. i'd say the same to men about women.

i'd go with this statement if you want a valid argument.

and to go back to "not all men", this past few days have seemed to be dedicated to hating ALL men. while i'm totally on board with fighting rape culture and it upsets me no end that woman have such legitimate cause to be afraid, the number of incidents in which *i've* been labelled as part of the problem EVEN IN OTHER, UNRELATED DISCUSSIONS is deeply disturbing. what also bothers me is how many women are preaching to the choir, because the saddest part of this being an inculturated problem is that the men who perpetrate these acts are either oblivious to the fact that they're doing it or are impervious to convincing arguments.

yes, there's a problem. no, not all men are a part of it. yes, this needs to be talked about, argued about, fought about. no, it doesn't need to be fought with illogical inflammatory arguments. how about, instead of antagonizing all men and making us defensive, we figure out a way to break down the gender barrier?

every time i see the "men are raped and abused too" statistics cited i think how ridiculous it is that this is being treated as "men vs women" instead of "people need to respect other people". "no" to rape, "no" to harassment, "no" to violence, "no" to inequality.

"no" to gender wars.

---
protoplasm: rule #1 - don't be a dick. it is the only rule. it's pretty simple really, yet there are so many that just don't get it.

if someone wants you in their space, they'll invite you. and no matter who you are, what you look like, or how weird you or your tastes may be, there will always be someone that will appreciate that for what it is. and that, i think, is the bit that a lot of the types that the article talks about don't get.

forcing yourself on someone on the basis of what they look like or what you perceive from a distance without even bothering to find out what they're about is only ever going to end badly for both parties, so why put everyone through all the shit just because you can't be arsed to follow (or learn) a few simple rules of engagement?

slam poetry geekiness

i had the following revelation yesterday:

slam poetry is like wizard's spells in dungeons and dragons. you write them down in your spellbook, memorize them, and then you'll still want to prepare them before use. and you'll need to prepare a couple of counter-spells as well, just in case.

cantrips are jokes.

signing, writing, seeing

tuesday:

i ran out to print, sign and scan a form to get the ball rolling... finally! after two weeks of silence. today i signed another couple of forms and if i'm not mistaken the lawyers are going to be taking it from here. so that's very cool. in the meanwhile i'm going to put as much of my expenses on my credit card instead of my debit card, because my bank account is getting down to the wire and i should, theoretically, have received my first paycheck in time to not be in trouble...

i sat down at starbucks with my coffee, opened my kindle and grimaced at the low battery warning it flashed me. fortunately, it held until i was done.

when i came home i drafted a poem in response to high school shootings, which is looking pretty good so far, had that fight i posted about and went off to the gym.

so i guess i'm no longer really doing mma as such... just boxing, kickboxing and muay-thai. and yoga. i need to do yoga. the kickboxing class was pretty good, though i saw stars for a lot of it and scored myself nasty bump on my knee. at least i have someone to buy my head protector now that i'm no longer sparring.

i prepped a salad and took it to gd, where we had the talk i posted. we watched an episode or two of community before going to bed; i'd forgotten just how insanely brilliant the first season is! it's definitely worth re-watching.

---
yesterday:

it was early when gd's alarm went off, it was cold outside, and raining, and cars were driving past the bedroom window. i can't tell you how wonderfully cosy i was under the blankets and how little i wanted to get out of bed :(
it didn't help that my butt was hurting again.

it's still hurting.

i wanted something i could turn my brain off to, and steve byrne: champion was almost it. only it was so offensively stupid and ugly that i couldn't make it through twenty minutes. i might have smiled a couple of times, that was about as funny as he got. i chased that with tekken, and got my ass kicked for a while before i had to leave to meet rabbit.

i headed to l'artère, and spent the next hour or two talking, criticizing or organizing. we finally figured out the logistics of the slam we're going to run and arranged the resources we need to get the job done properly :)

we visited a friend of rabbit's for a spell, then went to a vocal workshop she'd invited me to. the workshop was interesting and fun, i learned a lot and i was very glad for monday's singing lesson because it seriously helped :)

i stopped at harvey's for a burger on my way to gd's, and arrived in time to catch an interesting film, la marque des anges - miserere. i've heard the name gérard depardieu, but this is the first time i've actually paid attention to him as an actor. i can see why he's a thing.

i suffered a bit from rls for a short while, but it fortunately didn't last too long and i got to bed at a reasonable hour.

---
today:

we had a nice, slow morning. i had an argument about #YesAllWomen which i'll discuss in its own post. gd was upset because she's trying to contact bureaucrats who don't answer their phones... i explained to her that this is not a local problem, but an international one :S

i was exhausted and we napped a bit, that bit not being nearly long enough. we ended up running late, one of the reasons being that i needed a quick trim before dressing nicely to sign the papers. it *is* nice having one's own stylist!

i dressed nicely, and it was so warm that i returned sweaty after about ten minutes in total. i can't wait to get there, figure out the dress code and buy summer-comfortable clothes. the code they described was remarkably unclear.

i started watching growing op and stopped after about fifteen minutes of "meh", then watched two episodes of chobits. chobits is cute, but weird. i don't know how i feel about it but i might watch a few more until i see where it's heading.

---
google's prototype car? good job, google. good job!

if you don't want to waste time and money on business / management literature, read this instead.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

on vulnerability

after my last post i was quite upset, and i was taken right back into the dark space i'd been in the previous night when arguing with gd about rape, consent and gender. i remained upset until i arrived at her place and managed to get my thoughts and feelings across, which was really difficult. i only found the right words to express myself minutes before arriving and talking about one's vulnerabilities and dark places is not easy, it doesn't matter how caring and supportive the person you're talking to is.

the cause for my distress was being told that i don't get to discuss "consent" because i cannot empathize with women who're living in rape culture* as a man in a man's world who hasn't been subjected to sexual abuse. at first i was angry because while i agree that i cannot identify with victims of sexual abuse, that doesn't mean that i cannot empathize with them**. then, while on my way to gd's, it suddenly struck me that i *do* know all about consent and violation first-hand.

i've barely talked about my experiences with the men in suits (and i've hardly started labelling all the polygraph posts) but i'm going to take a moment to share the two most significant parts of the experience.

firstly, i was forced to "consent" to the interrogation and to be subjected to the polygraph examinations. sure, i could have withheld consent, but not consenting was tantamount to declaring myself a criminal and a traitor and the possible consequences included lengthy jail-time and being dishonourably discharged, which would basically have destroyed any possibility of me continuing on my career / life path. in other words, i would have been sacrificing all of my dreams if i hadn't submitted.

secondly, the violation of the interrogation wherein they demanded deeply private and personal details that i didn't want to share followed by being hooked up to a machine to confirm whether i'd been honest and forthcoming is nothing short of mental rape. full penetration, complete helplessness and having to live with the trauma afterwards. it's an experience that, no matter how much sense i manage to make of it, i have no place for in my narrative. this is something that happens to other people, not me.

just talking about it face-to-face yesterday, even with someone i trust so intimately, made my chest constrict until i couldn't breathe.
so here i am, reliving the interminable sequence of dark, ugly moments that i will never be able to forget and cannot satisfactorily fit into language, in an attempt to justify my opinions and understanding of gender inequality and how fucked up our world is.

---
i'm not going to share my opinions right now, that's not what this is about.

* a problematic expression. it's valid, but it's more nuanced and complex than its surface value and causes misunderstandings even before a discussion can be had. if you want to talk about rape culture with anyone, you have to sit down and establish all the terms before you begin. victims, normative men (participants and non-participants), normative women (not including explicit victims), feminists (male and female), and academics all think, speak and understand these things very differently.

**i feel strongly that there's a difference between those two concepts, i might be abusing the language though. if you don't get my meaning, leave a comment and i'll try to explain differently.

it's got personal written all over it

i'm seriously riled right now. i made a comment on a friend's status that was complimentary, and some girl said she didn't know if it was just her, but that my phrasing at the beginning sounded creepy.

"if i had your mouth i'd prepare a subtly scathing speech for just such an occasion when you need to get a stranger out of your space"

i told her i was sure it was just her. the only possible misinterpretations i could think of were childishly sexual, or silence-of-the-lambs-esque. so i posted a link to it rubs the lotion on its skin, which everyone *i* know found amusing... including said friend.

but angry girl got mad, and told me there was no need for that sort of insinuation, so i said "i guess we don't share a sense of humour, then. oh, well."

then she called me a douche. i told her she was overly sensitive and aggressive, and tried to leave the conversation but someone else chimed in in her defense and i found myself being judged a typical, disgusting man. i hate being judged by humorless morons, especially wrongly and even more so in a (relatively) public setting. i also hate being dragged into a fight that i can't get out of without seeming like i have my tail between my legs.

i eventually managed to get *her* to leave the conversation, feeling all proud of herself for "being the bigger man".
i don't need the last word.
but i will defend myself until the end.

what finally brought things to a close:
"you seem very angry, <angry girl>, and you've antagonized me enough that, quite frankly, i don't give a damn about your feelings or what you think. what you don't know or give two shits about is how much your misinterpretation has upset me. so how about we just leave each other alone? can we do that?"

...

and to add to all of that, i've just started shivering because it's 13 degrees and all my windows are open.

godsdammit.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

the real terrorists

i've complained before about mass media and sensationalism being responsible for painting an ugly picture of a much more balanced world, but yesterday while i was talking to my mother we talked about the most recent high school shooting and what it means.

nobody ever remembers the victims! for the shooters it's an easy way to achieve the holy grail of modern society: being the news. journalists of all sorts are responsible for glamorizing murder; why is oscar pistorius famous? because of his athletic achievements? is his crime really more meaningful than all the other crimes not reported on the news?

sensationalist journalism is all about covering the bad news, the news that shows the dark side of humanity and that causes people to fear more than they love. the news that inspires people to avoid strangers and behave selfishly.

what is terrorism? what is the function of terrorism?

terrorism is acting in a manner that will induce fear. for example, who's responsible for the fear that americans feel when they travel by air? is it al qaeda, the bastards who attacked america twelve or thirteen years ago? or is it the american government and the press that follows their lead?

this world is full of beauty, of magnificent benevolence and kind-hearted people. it's full of love, and caring strangers. following things like ted and upworthy is a good start to seeing that, and tuning out from things like cnn and bbc is just as important.

yes, there are bad people. yes, one has to be reasonably careful. but "reasonable" does not equate to paranoid. use your judgement, but never stop trusting. because an inability to relax - and trust - is precisely the point at which the terrorists have won. and if you're too scared to leave the house you're never going to make the world outside a better place! it kinda needs your presence for that.

life is a gamble; don't let others place your bets for you.

pinched nervous - part two

[... continued]

we watched a whole bunch of shane koyczan while i ate a grilled not-as-good-and-not-really-vegan cheese which gd bought thinking it was vegan. daiya is it, people. daiya is it.

---
yesterday:

i slept well but woke up with weak arms. i hope that's because i'm still recovering from last week's hard training and not due to neural damage. otherwise, i enjoyed a perfect wake-up, which set the tone for a short while before it was destroyed by someone being wrong on the internet.

a friend of gd's had come over to trade a singing lesson for a haircut and she helped me tone down some of my posts a little. the feminine touch is apparently all in using words like "perhaps" and "necessarily" in the right places even when you *know* you're right.

the half-hour singing lesson i stayed for was quite fun! and then i missioned back to the clinic for x-rays. i was told they'd be ready within an hour, so i found an italian place for great pasta and returned to play the waiting game. this time i took a face mask as i sat down, only this time there weren't any coughing kids so i struggled with keeping it on and looking silly versus playing it extra-safe. i passed out for a bit and when i awoke i worried that i'd missed my name, but the receptionists refused to check the list.

a lot of us were frustrated and angry, i don't see why they can't have a queue system like everywhere else so that we can see how many patients are ahead of us. i fretted like that for an hour, feeling like my time was being thoroughly wasted. those are minutes of my life that i could have spent having coffee across the road in a place that has internet access, dammit!

i eventually got in to see the doctor, who went over my results and informed me that i have mild degenerative disease in my neck. fan-tastic. so i guess i should stop doing jiu-jitsu, and sparring - i wasn't really doing much of those anyway, but they seem an especially bad idea now. gd and my mother have both convinced me to see an osteopath and i have a referral to a sport orthopedist.

---
i got home, ran laundry, got news from scrapper that my books are selling, and all the while stressed more and more about everything. i was angry, and the causes of the anger were great and small. the employment situation, horseman failing to update me about the workshop we're trying to organize, the new artist not getting back to me, the morning's argument going on until the evening, the miserable weather and having to go shopping in it without an umbrella, and severe clumsiness when i returned all came together all made it very difficult to stop, breathe, and get perspective.

fortunately gd's happy to let me rant and when i'd finally made dinner and taken it to her i spent about fifteen minutes getting it all off my chest. then i felt much better, and then we had an argument about feminism and sexual abuse that upset both of us until we'd sorted out what it was we were trying to say, and then the evening got better though we were both knackered.

---
we had an excellent night's sleep and i woke up from an epic dream ending with two giant towers in a desert, one for purification and the other a set of challenges. another group was speaking in a language with lots of "ng" sounds and my partner (i don't recall now who he was) was really slow and useless.

i started the day watching my old dean give a beautiful ted talk about working with juvenile delinquents. it's inspirational!

it's afternoon already, and i've achieved nothing of import. i'm not impressed with today at all, here's hoping it improves dramatically.

pinched nervous - part one

oh, man. nobody i need to speak to today is answering their phones. is a little professionalism too much to ask?

my main issue is with the company i've signed a contract with. over two weeks have passed, and it doesn't feel like things are proceeding. they're not talking to me - and right now my contact's not answering her phone - and if there's a real problem then that means that i've just spent two weeks not looking for other work. my bank account is a ticking time-bomb and this state of not knowing is incredibly stressful.

---
saturday:

it took us forever to leave the apartment for p.m., we were both hungry but kept getting distracted. i'd taken my umbrella but it wasn't raining, which i hate. i suspect that i lost it before returning home, because i can't find it anywhere now. i really hate rain :(

p.m. was delightful as usual, and we were both surprised at the size of our appetites! we followed that with yeh! for dessert; their sorbet was brilliant, but i'm not sure it was worth the aggravation caused by the insane crowd inside.

the level of pain in my shoulder and neck had increased considerably over the course of the hours we were out, and i could barely handle the walk home. i went to bed early because i couldn't handle anything else, and woke up a couple of times in the middle of the night in agony.

---
sunday:

i was a little better in the morning, but i tried reading and was too sore to be able to absorb china mieville's poetic writing. i took myself off to the clinic to register myself, there was only a three hour wait so i went home to do it there.

on my way i realized that what i was suffering from was a pinched nerve around the area where i have a slipped disc. a #$@%&*% pinched nerve!!! what a pain in the neck.

i took my b12 and d sublingual tablets simultaneously, which feels a bit weird but i can't see why that's not a good idea, and headed back. i stopped for a quick bite at the subway next to the clinic, which must be the dirtiest subway i've ever been in. it's only about a hundred meters from another one, so next time i'll go there instead...

the clinic's waiting room was a zoo, filled with noisy kids and half of them were hacking and wet-coughing without covering their mouths. of course, their parents were ignoring them. except for one, who was singing "old macdonald had a farm" repeatedly in an attempt to calm her infant. at one point i couldn't take it any more and stood outside the entrance where i could barely hear names being called. i hated that woman with every fiber of my being.

gd arrived a few minutes before i was called in, and she had a fit about all the coughing. she found the box of face masks which was hidden away, and we learned that "we can't force sick patients to wear them" translates to "we can't tell people they exist or advise people to use them" in receptionist-speak.

the doctor tested for neurological damage - haven't had that tested in a while - and of course my situation had improved dramatically in the three or four hours since i'd registered so i couldn't really demonstrate why i'd come in the first place. right? excellent :/

i joined gd at the second cup next door, which was disappointingly out of soya. when she'd finished her drink we went back to her place for munchies and a failed attempt at watching horror flicks. gd's really into paranormal stuff, i just wasn't in the mood.

i had a chance for a very short nap and was pulled out of exquisitely deep sleep to go see hilary jane perform at l'alizé. the weather was fine when we left the apartment, but as we arrived at our destination's metro station it became cold and wet. gd wasn't at all dressed for this and we had to take a taxi - fortunately diamond taxi's app works well.

---
lina gatineau has a voice with incredible potential, only it's in dire need of some training. singing hallelujah jeff buckley-style is ambitious for anyone, and her performance was cringe-worthy :(

hilary jane and her funky 80's-style dance was a lot of fun, and her fantastic voice was only highlighted by the previous performance.

the wastelanders are amazing.

---
it was still a bit wet when we left but considerably warmer, warm enough that gd was willing to go support her friend who was doing burlesque for her birthday. we hit the village, where they've recently closed off the street for the summer, and went inside. the show itself was disappointing - there were only two short bits in total. the first was pretty cool, but her friend who went on second didn't impress, and i suspect that the enthusiastic applause she received was more for it being her birthday.

gd introduced me to a bunch of her friends, some of whom were cool and some of whom were awkward. she was standing next to me and talking to a friend of hers who's transsexual - and a bloody impressive job she's done too - and i rested my hand on gd's back only to find another hand there already.
then i got awkward.
one of her friends started talking to me later when gd had left, and i amused myself greatly when he asked what i do and the first thing off my tongue was "i'm a writer".

huh! how about that?

i mean, i've done a lot more writing in the last half a year than i have programming, that's for sure...

---
so after a very queer evening we went home; gd was freezing even though it was 19 degrees, so when we walked out of her metro station i gave her my t-shirt to wear over her mini-jacket. i'd been wearing my "follow me until you die" syndicate shirt and couldn't stop smiling as i followed her home.

...

an ubuntu update messed up the chrome installation on her computer, which is really weird and very frustrating. i gave up after reinstalling chrome but i'll have to figure this out soon or re-install the whole damned thing :(

[continued...]

meta-ideological stress

there's an article a couple of friends re-posted about fundamentalism being treated as mental illness. this really upset me, and i got stuck into the following long, long argument.

---
i'm not sure how i feel about treating fundamentalism as a disorder, it's a perfectly rational response to postmodern anxiety. check out in praise of doubt if you're at all interested, it's a fantastic, enlightening read and it's short.

would you say anxieties can cause disorders (over time)?

well, the definition of a "disorder" in psychology swings between "subject is out of the ordinary" and "subject is suffering". the problem with the first definition is that there's no way to establish normative behaviour or feeling, and the problem with the second is that there's no way to verify a psychological disorder externally.

either way, throwing oneself whole-heartedly into an ideology is not a disorder, it's default human behaviour. there's no difference between religious fundamentalism, anti-religious fundamentalism (atheism is a very active and aggressive ideology) or things like nutrition / lifestyle fundamentalism (veganism and yoga).

okay so let's attempt to define it within the context of the post modern world:
a disorder *could be* a psycho-somatic or purely psychological disease that occurs on a chronic basis at varying degrees of severity.
we'll measure it through the person's experience (bad, imbalanced, closed off, intolerant, anti-social - as opposed to good, content, moderately stressed, social, tolerant, empathetic, open with their feelings and ideas).


basically you nailed it. and not just within the postmodern context, it's generic. things like "social" and "tolerant", however, are external measurements. lots of people are happily anti-social and intolerant, and are not suffering, so no disorder there.

i have the desire to re-frame disorder. disorder is misunderstood and often - as you say - one can be happily intolerant without suffering. yes, without "suffering". there are dozens of conditions in which the subject does indeed suffer. for instance, being so determined that red jellybeans are better than all the other colours that it causes panic and anxiety fairly often (like OCD). unless you stop buying jellybeans. or feeling numb (i.e. depression). and no less than that is chronic intolerance. you can say people don't suffer for being intolerant but i'd argue they do. if you can't empathise with another, you can't connect to them, you can't make peace when they're angry with you. you can't argue your point and feel aligned if they happen to disagree. intolerant, grumpy old men aren't living in bliss and the world be damned. they're miserable and they don't how to escape it.

it's impossible to judge another's happiness. introverts need alone-time, extroverts need social time. a racist who doesn't have to interact with other races might be perfectly happy. this line of argument goes nowhere, at the end of the day only you will know if you are suffering. and if you're suffering because society is crazy or ill - then you're insane, even if you're completely right.

personally, i think it might be a good call to count it as a mental disorder if your thinking is causing OTHER people to get hurt or die based on your opinion on what is right with no solid evidence, but i'm no psychologist.

that's your ideology speaking, and even though i totally approve of your sentiment it goes against what *is* (the study of how humans operate) in favour of what "should be" - that very thinking makes perfect sense to you within the framework of your ideology, but it's exactly that kind of thinking that made stalin put to death anyone who threatened the communist system. those people were hurting society because of their opinions. the difference being that what you're suggesting isn't death to those who oppose, merely medication into submission to a pluralist "socially acceptable" state...

sure, i get your point but what about actual chemical imbalances which can cause extreme thinking, paranoia, violence, disproportionate rage etc?

what have those things got to do with fundamentalism?

anyway, sometimes it's very difficult to ascertain hardware versus software problems, which is why so many kids are misdiagnosed with adhd when it's really, really rare.

everything on your list, though? bad parenting and shitty societies cause those things too, sometimes there's a real chemical imbalance (lack of b12 causes depression and psychosis, for example) but mostly it's psychological and needs to be dealt with psychologically. and living in a pill-popping industrialized society makes it very, very hard to see what's what, all doctors and therapists being subject to ideology too.

if i can be so bold as to suggest *another* book - james hillman - re-visioning psychology is a long, difficult read but absolutely enlightening.

the article talks about "mental illness" which is a very, very broad area. do they mean depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders or addictive behaviours? let's narrow it to something a little less broad but still very broad: an emotional behavioural disorder (EBD) or personality disorder - if only because it also covers anxiety and learned behaviour - two things we see a lot of in religious extremist behaviours from all walks of religion.

btw, i don't think we can keep things purely scientific when science has an incomplete understanding of human behaviour and the mind that motivates it. this is part of my problem with your paradigm and why i'm not convinced i'm being ideological.

so let's define an EBD / personality disorder and see if religious fundamentalism stands up to it:

1. the subject experiences consistent anxiety as a result of their religious fundamentalism.
2. the subject feels withdrawal symptoms if they can't act out in a particular way - see the volume of tragic stories about people who try to leave their religious communities or remain in them as agnostics.
3. the subject experiences consistent conflict with broader society, including the legal system, social codes and post-modernist thought - leading to anxiety and violence.
4. was there physical harm to oneself or others as a result of the fundamentalism?
5. do religious fundamentalists persist despite clear evidence of harmful consequences?

that's how the world health organization and the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders classify personality disorders - and oddly enough "substance abuse", recalling karl marx's rather apt "opium of the people" definition of religion.

you would say - as you've said above - that i cannot assume religious fundamentalists experience anxiety and that people can be blissfully intolerant to others.

but what if i can assume it - and even prove it?

psychological research by prof. clavin mercer (chair of religious studies east carolina university and a clinical psychologist) states from two decades of study: "the fundamentalist is driven by anxiety layered over a fragile sense of self-identity constructed upon a system of beliefs that is both logically inconsistent and highly suspect in light of modern science." other psychologists - valerie tarico in DC and dr marlene winnel in san fransisco - and the british association of behavioral and cognitive psychologists went a step further and coined it "religious trauma syndrome", defined by: 1) immersion in a controlling religion and the 2) the impact of leaving a religious group. having observed CONSISTENT and UNRELATED symptoms of religious fundamentalism they correctly defined it as a "social disorder". as a scientist, you can't ignore the consistency and as a sociologist, you can't ignore the social harm. so i've ticked criteria 1, 2 and 5.

fundamentalist christians, jews and muslims believe theirs is the only true view of the world. they are proudly intolerant and refuse to enter into dialogue - rather referring to scripture, avoiding critical thought. their extremity which puts them at odds with the broader community, and their dogma puts their ideology above humanity - and often the law. they deny medicine to their children (e.g. seven day adventists), murder their daughters and sisters if they've shamed their families (e.g. honour killings) and demonize LGBT behaviour (e.g. all happy clappers, pretty much).

i've now ticked off criteria 3 - my favourite criteria as it happens, because it's the one in which the harm of the "mental illness" is externalised and causes tragedy - and added meat to criteria 5.

i therefore put forward that religious fundamentalism easily meets the criteria to be labeled a mental disorder or an EBD.


first, before citing WHO and the DSM, please read inside the battle to define mental illness - the data from these sources is based on untestable concepts of "normative" and being interpreted by organizations outside of psychological discourse.

secondly, science doesn't have the complete tool-set to deal with psychology, and that's precisely what i'm arguing. you're the one who seems to be trying to label things which cannot be reduced to right / wrong, healthy / sick dichotomies in a "scientific" manner.

thirdly, i used stalin as an example of how protecting one's ideology requires suffocating another's, it's an extreme example but i feel it makes the parallel clearer. we're pretty much doing the same thing with our pluralist ideology when we try to get others to play by our rules of right and wrong. i also think our rules are the best, by the way, but that's because we share an ideology

understanding that we live in narrative / worldview / ideological bubbles is a huge cause of stress and fundamentalism is a coping mechanism, not necessarily a cause of the stress itself. i won't say fundamentalism's not a cause of other stresses, but then we're heading into a vicious circle that shows us there's really no such thing as a life without stress and conflict. it's all a matter of choosing which stresses, conflicts and traumas you're willing to face.

i'd really, really appreciate it if you read the first book i suggested before continuing to argue, because i really, really don't want to (and don't have the authority to) repeat everything that's said in it in an attempt to present it to you in this thread, which would be ridiculously ambitious. and it's an important basis of my argument.

when you say that you aren't being ideological you're doing precisely what fundamentalists are doing, only they're doing it in an extreme form. you see, i'm also living inside an ideological framework that's inescapable, the only difference is that i'm calling it what it is. we can't escape it because it's the underlying operation of our brains, humans can't exist without ideology. and EVERYTHING we do functions through it, including our logic and rationalization. you're not going to get satisfaction arguing with me here! this isn't the right forum, and i'm not the best way for you to get into the discourse to a degree where we're both speaking the same language.
i could suggest tons of reading, like foucault and lyotard and a whole bunch of other great minds, but it's a lot and we all have to choose what we do with our minds and i believe you have other plans.

ironically, i personally hate it when people tell me i need to read stuff in order to argue with them, but that's precisely where we get to pick our battles.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

still skew

... although i made it out to aux vivres to meet vfmp, his boyfriend and a friend of theirs. we've been talking about brunch there for months, and the blueberry pancakes truly are brilliant!

now if only i hadn't tripped up the steps at the metro in the middle of a bustling crowd. that was a bit embarrassing :$

...

gd has just discovered that one of her co-workers has been stealing her clients, and it looks like they're dealing with him. her stories really do make me question the locals' integrity - there're so many of them! and that's ignoring all the big stories about corruption etc.

---
if our paving becomes a battle between kinetic rubber and solar roadways*, rollerbladers are going to lose out no matter who wins. but everything else will be awesome, so maybe we'd better figure out a way to make all-terrain rollerblades?

* they're most of the way there with a week to go! go on, put some cash in!

10 things that the people who love their lives are doing differently is on point.

here's a wonderful poem about english pronunciation. i learned a thing or two, actually.

holo-lambos??? SIIIIIIICK!!!

skew view

my left trapezius is buggered, my neck's hurting and my backside... it just got progressively worse and until an hour or two ago any movement at all has been extremely painful. so i came home and rested on the couch in front of life 2.0, which was a worthy look at second life and the world of possibilities it opens up. i was particularly fascinated by the recreation of las vegas which is already a simulacrum, and the results of the "little girl" experiment.

i did pass out for a short while somewhere in the middle, and dreamed that gd was pointing out a hand-sized hairy spider that was clearly looking at us and preparing to attack. i grabbed a chair and slammed an edge into it, all the while with the absolute willies. i woke up with them, wondering if i hadn't incorporated a real spider during rem and worriedly hunting my lounge for it.

---
after posting yesterday, i continued mail clearing which involved watching wil wheaton and the penny arcade guys playing shadows over camelot. i can't decide how i feel about the game itself, but their game was fun to watch.

i skipped sparring and went to the boxing class. i took a lot of abuse but returned fire once or twice, and the general vibe between me and the coach was light and fun. he gave me two new guys to teach, the second one being the same big guy i worked with yesterday! he took a long time to get the hang of things, but i was proud by the end of the class when i got him through some combinations with speed *and* power :)

...

and on the third day he remembered to put his piercings back in after training.

...

i was in the mood for indian but didn't want to pay as much as we've been to the place gd usually orders from, so i called masala palace next to snowdon and picked up my order on the way. that was a great idea! it would've been even better had gd been comfortable eating it... she managed to bite her cheek pretty badly :(

so we sat watching community for a while, i overate and was unable to move much anyway. a little bit of clumsiness caused some amusing drama (it took a moment for our communal sense of humor to kick in), and we both went to bed exhausted and ready for a new day.

---
it took me over an hour to get out of bed this morning, my ass was in such pain! but i'd slept quite well in any event. my sinuses can't decide if they're clear or not... i've just been invited to brunch, so i'm gonna take a tablet just in case.

Friday, May 23, 2014

big news, little news and attitudes

okay, the most important item first: my butt HURTS. gd dragged me along to studiotec, where she goes as a part of her back treatments; their atwater facility's comfortable and inviting, the guys were all very cool. i don't know if my levels were really good or if the instructor always says that to first-timers, but i was fascinated to feel the differences between my muscles groups (and my lack of symmetry).

i was amused that i was able to power through push-ups (i could have kept on going), and by how difficult certain basic exercises became as electricity pulsed through my arms and chest and back and legs. overall, the experience was satisfying, but while i was feeling pumped up when i walked out i found that later, after an hour of jiu-jitsu with a guy a full weight-category larger than me, i just didn't feel up to rolling or finishing with a kickboxing class.

and i slept like a baby last night, so there's that too :)

---
news news

driverless car licenses are going to be a thing soon. it's sad that they're going to be so strict about it, but it's a definite first-step in the right direction!

we're going to have to keep on waiting and praying for patent reform. the situation is abysmal! and almost as frustrating for me, personally, is the fact that nobody's even talking about international copyright reform and the outrageous prices of digital books.

in good security news, microsoft won a small victory against the fbi. in really bad security news, it looks like snowden might be collaborating with the russians. it might just be a smear tactic, but if it is for real then i have to say that the americans brought this on themselves. they didn't need to treat him like a hero, but they certainly shouldn't have treated him like a traitor.

---
personal news

how the hell is it friday already???

wednesday:

i slept well, and woke up to some game time. tales of honor has a bit of a learning curve, i made some progress but found myself stuck with something that i'm going to have to research online before i continue.

i resumed reading jean webster - daddy-long-legs, which i *still* hadn't finished. every time i returned to it after many months i'd have to start again; it's not very long. it is, however, beautiful. i finished it yesterday afternoon and immensely enjoyed every minute of the reading experience! ^_^

wednesday's weather was simply wonderful! it was cool in the shade, warm in the sun, the birds were singing and a fresh breeze was pleasantly gentle.
my biggest concern was how to go about taking advantage of such superb weather as best i could!

there's been a story going around about dirk diggler's dad, and i got a chance to talk to him and clear everything up. i then spoke to my mother, who's traded in her written-off car and was able to cover the cost of its replacement, so that's all good.

...

i napped, which would have been great had i not held my neck awkwardly, and woke up to rls. ???!!?
and my heel, which had cracked again, was hurting me badly. it's only just beginning to relax now...

...

i read some more, then went to starbucks thinking to get some work done on my comics. my netbook's having issues with wireless, refusing to connect to my phone's hot spot, and i ended up not being very productive. it also didn't help that a gushy couple was sitting next to me at the study table, being offensively "couple"y in arabic. that's not a pretty combination.

i was almost at my front door when i heard someone struggling to learn to play a trumpet or something. i'm so glad it's one building over!

boxing class was good, i skipped sparring and went to gd's. on the way i spoke to my toronto cousin, and i worry that i might have offended him when i ended the call... probably not, but i'm always nervous when people suddenly shut down.

gd made delicious tofu spring rolls, and she made a LOT of them. i'm not sure how comfortable i am with the process, though, because i watched and heard her burning her fingers on each one...

there was too much food, once we'd gotten through about half the batch and simply couldn't continue we focused on the pervert's guide to ideology. what a treat! then gd decided to give community another chance, and now she's in :)

---
yesterday:

i was deeply bothered by rls again. and bad sinuses... AGAIN. this time i'm blowing blood out my nose, i don't know what they hell the deal is. i used a spray last night, which helped during the night but i woke up uncomfortable again. i really, really, really want to be breathing normally again. i'm sick of this!

gd began her day with a fight over the phone with a bureaucrat, she's been fined by the city for something her neighbours did and pulse - her legal counsel, that's their introduction - warned her that fighting it would only make it worse and that she should just pay up. i decided to take care of it myself, partially because she doesn't have the cash and partially because hey, if it wasn't for those fines we'd never have met!

it bothers me tremendously that she works so hard and barely makes ends meet. her work conditions are worrying (she rarely gets a lunch break and sometimes can't go to the loo for hours), and i understand that they're actually pretty good for her industry... it makes me feel privileged to be in software...

i needed to wait for gd for a while, and i sat down in java u. i was once again unable to get my netbook online, so i continued reading. we picked up lunch, then had another small coffee and talked about crossover fan-fiction until our studiotec appointment.

after the studiotec experience, we went our separate ways and i came home to finish daddy-long-legs. i did some email clearing - this is hard work! - and then headed off to jiu-jitsu.

it's been a while since i last did jiu-jitsu with someone who's an entire weight division larger than me! [i apologize in advance] i came eerily close to scoring a cauliflower ear :/
i almost laughed inappropriately: at one point he took his mouth-guard out to say something and it didn't make much difference :P

anyway, i know it's summer: most of the mat's covered in puddles. there's another thing i'm going to miss about winter...

i had my head in the clouds on my walk home: half the sky was purple and grey, half yellows and light blues. it was gorgeous!

i took my bloody sinus headache to gd's for the other half of the spring rolls and a few episodes of community. just before bed, after an otherwise perfect evening, i learned a lesson about which buttons of gd's not to push when she's tired :(

*sigh*

---
friday:

i enjoyed the deepest sleep i've had in the longest time. i woke up with strained glutes (yep, still very sore) and in the mood for olive. trickle, in particular.

i missioned off to city hall to pay gd's fines, which wasn't an unpleasant experience, and then went downtown to get my french results. the good news is that i didn't get a worse score. the bad news is that i improved it so marginally that i might as well not have tried :(

shit.

i was close to popeye's and they're having a serious sale, so i stopped there. i had to wait in line outside the store for about twenty minutes! i found myself staring at shoes for most of that time. there are so many fashion victims walking around with obviously expensive, glaringly ugly footwear.

i walked out with a giant (2kg) tub of progressive's vegessential and carried it home, and have done very little with the rest of my day.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

timewasters

okay, i need to rant quickly:

i train in tristar, one of the top fighting gyms in north america. i work pretty hard and i'm way below average.

it's one thing to see the occasional slacker, but there's this one kid... he's a teenager with no attention span who has a big, stupid mouth on him. he says such bizarrely dumb things and has such a bad attitude - i hear tell he's a bully at school, in spite of his lack of physical prowess - that if he wasn't less than half my size* i'd drag him into the ring and give him a good thumping.

* i mean to say that if he was my size or larger.

it hurts my brain trying to understand who's wasting their hard-earned cash on his dumb ass, because he's wasting his own time and whoever he partners up with. it's incredibly frustrating to share the same space as him.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

linkage

i've gotten to a point in my mail-clearing where a good chunk of my messages are from me to myself, containing links that i've been meaning to check out. the following go back to mid-november, and are in chronological order from latest to earliest.

---
$65 to convert my phone into a VR headset? seriously, it doesn't need to be the best quality, that sounds like an amazing deal!

fighting procrastination the smart way comes down to reducing choices. considering how little comic work i get done at home as opposed to at starbucks, i can vouch for this.

---
why should you care about net neutrality? here's the first answer.

here is a more specific, clearer one.

...

but... the other 99% were right? america is not a democracy? i'm stunned.

---
i agree with most of this list of 25 must-reads, some of which i've just bought (a couple of the kindle editions are going for $1 for things that aren't out of copyright) or downloaded (thanks gutenberg), because i've not gotten round to 'em. yet.

---
larry page's comeback is a good read. he's definitely got the jobs thing going for him.

---
these glow-in-the-dark-roads seemed pretty cool - right until solar roadways. please go give those guys some money!

---
i just watched the puppet news network (this video from early december). for the first time. it's kinda like reading madam and eve.

---
paul kuczynski's satiric art is gorgeous.

---
and here's a whole bunch of life hacks.

---
only 890 emails to go.

between the vulcans and dr who - part two

[... continued]

today:

i started my day with dragon coins, and hit their freemium wall. considering the rather crap experience that surrounds such an awesome game, i'm NOT willing to pay to play, and that's the only way to expand one's monster box to a reasonable size in a reasonable amount of time. sod that. i've uninstalled it, quite grateful for the excuse.

i'm sure i've got better things to waste my time with.

it was a perfect summer's morning, and for once we had an entire day of pleasantly warm sun without wind or rain. i spent the morning running laundry, contacting people about the poetry slam series and responding to google's post-interview survey. i'm decidedly impressed with them and their attitude towards hiring, and the only real issue i had with the process it that it takes so damned long.

the day would've been great if not for one little thing: i seem to be suffering from a pinched nerve again. it's feeling a bit better now after doing a yoga exercise that seemed to help last time and going to kickboxing, but i'll only know in the morning if i did good or made things worse :/

i walked to the starbucks to work on my comic script and arrange matters with all the illustrators, walking out with a sense of satisfaction. i then went downtown to pick up breakfast shake powder, and ended up returning with a box of clif bars and creatine powder as well even though i have enough of the latter to last me until the weekend when everything's on sale and i need to go back for more shake powder (so i have some at gd's). dammit :P

kickboxing: it was a rough class, and about halfway through i was seriously feeling my back muscles and my core. i did well regardless, and was totally worn out by the end of the class.

i walked home through a magnificent twilight with impossibly beautiful colours that i really couldn't describe if i wanted to. it was a beautiful end to a beautiful day, i made my way here to gd's and we ate another delicious dinner while watching more how i met your mother.

---
i'm about ready for bed now. here's me praying for a comfortable morning...

between the vulcans and dr who - part one

what i really need is one of those special grips to make all my muscles relax. and perhaps realign my spine? kthxbye.

---
sunday:

the first news of the day was that wp is engaged, which doesn't evoke much in me simply because i've never met his fiancée; but i'm happy for him nonetheless.

it was a gorgeous, sunny morning and we went out to atwater market, which was fun until the wind came up. i couldn't find anything to eat there, though, even the sandwich place with a vegan employee couldn't produce anything that didn't have meat or cheese on it...

i was rather hungry by the time we got to midi 6, so much so that their off-menu vegan option that's usually too much for me was precisely the right amount. gd's ex rolled up (she was getting her hair cut) and we hit it off famously, but after lots of talking i needed a nap so that's what i did while gd did her thing. her ex is an anime freak, and her cut was modelled off a character she likes. i can't say i'm a huge fan of the style, but gd certainly captured the look!

one way to get gold in dragon coins is to watch ads, and i watched one for tales of honor. i haven't played enough yet to form a solid opinion, but the fact that it's such a huge game that can be played on a mobile is pretty damned impressive. and the concept is very battlestar galactica, which is just up my alley.

i almost, to use protoplasm's expression, saw my own arsehole as i helped gd take out the trash. i misjudged a concrete step and came scarily close to twisting my ankle. i'm very, very grateful to all the gods that that didn't happen.

we hit the supermarket and shopped until i almost dropped, then returned to my place to treat my suddenly bloated belly with beans. we watched an episode of canadian dragon's den, which was kinda interesting, then took a walk to the shell select to pick up something we'd forgotten earlier.

it was a fine walk and talk until i said something on our way back that was grossly misunderstood (granted, i knew as i was saying it that it wasn't the right way to say it) and that turned into a pretty major and decidedly unpleasant argument. once the main issue was resolved we then had to discuss how aggressive i'd been during the argument, so i got to feel like shit twice.

eventually we resolved everything, although finally closing the story would have to wait until the next morning. and then everything was awesome again.

---
yesterday:

i slept well but had crazy, epic dreams that i totally forgot about when i got up. i'd have random flashes from them during the day but nothing i could grasp...

i still wasn't feeling 100%, but i was definitely better. the first note of the day was exciting: solar FREAKIN' roadways is an excellent video put together by a fellow supporter of the cause. you should watch it, if you haven't seen it, and then consider putting a little bit of your money into a shinier version of the future we're facing.

gd and i enjoyed a slow, chilled start to the day and then went down to godmother's, stopping at the florist on the way. the florist was so happy to see me with someone and so grateful for the little assistance gd gave him with a french customer that when we returned to pick up a plant she really liked he gave it to her for one dollar.

and that was after uncle hate indicated his approval, so we were on fire! the only awkward thing was that i have this habit of putting my hands together and bowing when i'm grateful, and i felt pretty foolish when i unthinkingly did that to an asian dude. but whatever.

rabbit and horseman had given me some pretty good ideas for a summer poetry slam series, and i figured out a way to make it marketable and charitable at the same time - i was quite pleased when everyone i spoke to agreed that it's a good plan.

godmother told me about a new place across the road from her that's recently opened, and we went to take a look. chimera: it's a game store / coffee shop, they have a great selection, great prices and a vegan-friendly menu. we'll be doing that, then :)

something from lunch was stuck between my teeth and aggravating me, and gd just happened to have floss in her bag. so i took it out and used it while we waited for the metro. that was a bit weird. but not as weird as the guy i saw once clipping his nails on the train.

i spoke to my mom when we got to gd's place; her car died and it's a decidedly inconvenient time for that. i mean, it's always an inconvenient time but this one is particularly uncomfortable :(
[at least the news from today seems relatively upbeat.]

i missioned to a park to sit and chill with newk'd and his girlfriend. we had a great time, but there was an incident when we parted that made me feel strange. i don't remember what inspired me to do it, and i think it was appreciated, but it nevertheless makes me uncomfortable that i always feel the urge to read poetry at people in inappropriate (to my mind) settings.

gd and i went on another interminable shopping mission, then returned to her place where she cooked up a storm while i absorbed myself in another case solved. the non-mission puzzles that you use to pay for real cases run out too quickly.

i introduced gd to how i met your mother and community: she seems to prefer the former. i find it most entertaining to watch these series again knowing what's coming.

[continued...]

Sunday, May 18, 2014

antisocial gaming

or could i call it masturgaming?

---
friday:

friday was not a very busy day for me. i've been feeling exhausted until today, and that was my second day of too-broken-to-move. i spent it playing dragon coins, and another case solved released a new series of cases so that's a thing again. i started reading the dr who comics i bought in the humble bundle, which is just like watching the series.

i also spent a large section of the day going through my inbox. i'm back to december, and have finally got less than 1000 unread emails in my inbox.

i can summarize my day with the question i asked myself as i walked out of my apartment on my way to gd's:
"did i shower today?"

---
yesterday:

more rls suffering throughout the night. i got up twice in the middle of it, and was so wiped out that i almost passed out. that wasn't cool, especially considering that i'd been sleeping a bit.

i finally entered a deep slumber just an hour or two before we had to get up.

#$!@.

as it flipped to summer, so it flipped back to winter. the rain accompanying me home was cold :(

...

the late morning was consumed by short napping and dragon coins and neil gaiman and charles vess - stardust. it's a great read, though i expected a graphic novel and not an illustrated text from comixology.

did i mention stumbling across the last halloween? i'd totally forgotten about abby's thing. the good thing about that is getting to read a whole lot of it at once ^_^

---
horseman wanted to introduce me to an illustrator, and we agreed to meet at the starbucks near berri uqam. i arrived there and didn't see them, and they then told me that they were waiting for me at second cup. second cup is not starbucks, and it's much closer to the station so i'd actually walked past them. so i wasn't on the happiest or most relaxed of vibes when i finally did catch up to them.

introductions were a bit awkward, much like a professional interview, and i only learned later that one reason for this is that the two of them didn't know each other. i was loathe to share all the juicy details of the project without first gaining a sense of whether i actually wanted to work with her or not, but it quickly became clear that we're a fantastic fit. i'll call her "ff" for that.

her work's excellent, her attitude's perfectly matched to the job at hand and we're excitedly on our way. just as soon as she signs the nda, of course. now that i have one i'm going to use it.

---
it was a stunning afternoon, and i headed off to meet gd at her place. due to a miscommunication i arrived an hour earlier than i should have, so i spent that hour on the front steps playing another case solved in the sun.

when she arrived we went to p.m., surprising ourselves by being hungry enough to finish everything we ordered. vfmp and his boyfriend were delayed, so we did some quick shopping and stopped at yeh! for sorbet that tastes far too good to be vegan (but i'm assured it is).

a cold wind had risen by the time we were on our way again and so we took a taxi to vfmp's. we enjoyed our hour or two there even though we didn't get much gaming done (vfmp and i played chess, he crushed me); gd really can't do weekend evenings so we're either going to have to figure out a good day for all of us or we're going to have to do gaming nights without her...

we left early, with me doing a chivalrous run from the metro to her place in just a shirt because she needed my jacket. it's not summer yet. oh, no.

the rest of the evening was consumed by iphone gaming and an episode or so of sherlock.

---
we've had a perfectly groovy morning, i slept well last night and i'm feeling quite rested and relaxed. i even sorted out the last few issues with gd's ubuntu installation - everything's excellent now - and got my own installation on my netbook updated (it was causing trouble).

now to go Do Stuff. we're pretending to be productive if only for the excuse to go outside :)

---
word lens works pretty well. i'm impressed.

please help out solar roadways if you can. they're making progress but the faster the better for all of us!

Friday, May 16, 2014

self destruction

tuesday:

kickboxing was killer. i received a nasty, tender bump on my shin when i was checked at the beginning of the exercises, i've iced it since but it's still not good. the really slow guy was in our class and i was really happy that i barely had to work with him. i've got a lot - a LOT - of tuning to do, our instructor told me that i was doing great before he left and that i've regressed considerably. that kinda sucks...

... he called on me to demonstrate one of the stations - told me to protect my head and proceeded to hit me pretty damned hard. i'm not sure if my forehead being tender is from that or from the following evening's sparring...

gd and i had dinner while i introduced her to freaks and geeks (yay! an excuse to watch it again) before we resumed watching rick and morty. this series is astoundingly smart and crazy!

---
wednesday:

comixology: i eventually ended up purchasing qui a besoin de la lune? and neil gaiman and charles vess - stardust. since then i've read the first issue of the wheel of time (great rendering into comic form!) and the third volume of kill shakespeare, which is gorgeous and very, very clever.

...

i dreamed of having to land a plane remotely, which, i thought, is just like what psychologists do; suddenly i found myself transported on board, but the seats were somehow constructed around the center of the fuselage and we were spinning around with a deep drop in the middle, i had to somehow navigate my way out of there without falling...

...

wednesday morning was chilled, i spent it clearing emails i've been meaning to get around to. for weeks. and months. that included going through pictures from pg of all of my cds and dvds to figure out what i want her to keep and what she should give to scrapper to sell on my behalf. that's been a lot of work.

gd and i watched the video for solar roadways and got into a heavy argument about the nature of humanity. and the differences between our perceptions of reality. this went on for some time, eventually ending well but hitting some stressful points for the both of us along the way.

...

my nose was still running and my legs were very sore from training the night before.

...

the cleaning lady arrived, which led to some funny moments as she and gd ganged up on me on a couple of things; one of which was my treatment of the plant that pg left me, because i was following her instructions to the letter and i thought they were doing well. apparently the vase needs to be cleaned at least once a year.

---
retarded people shouldn't own dogs. sorry. we passed a woman with down syndrome on the way to gd's place and gd wasn't the only one on the street to be disgusted by the fact that she's walking her fourth dog in a year. she keeps killing the poor things, obviously not maliciously, and nobody's doing anything about it. gd tried talking to her but she's, well, handicapped. she couldn't be reasoned with.

---
i agreed to sort out gd's computer, which was running xp and was so filled with malware that it was barely functioning. we spent a stressful hour or two trying to figure out what she needed backed up before formatting...

the weather has flipped from winter to summer in a single day, and the afternoon was warm and sticky.

after i was supposed to have finished eating i suddenly found myself absolutely ravenous; between that and being stupidly relaxed after a massage from gd (she's really, really good with them and i needed it after the kickboxing) i was precisely NOT ready for the boxing class, but i forced myself to go anyway.

i arrived early enough to spend twenty minutes or so kicking my legs into gear and stretching, doing some good bag-work in spite of my runny nose. the warmup started and i hopped to it with my jump rope (sorry), figuring something out with our coach's assistance (he was being nice?!) and deciding that if half-way through the warm-up i was having difficulty raising my arms then i couldn't hope for a good class to follow...

... but i was wrong. i worked with the assistant holding pads for me and did so well i quite impressed myself, and on the last exercise on the bags when everyone else was giving up and bowing out two of us didn't hear "time" being called and carried on until someone came to stop us :P

i stayed for sparring, and went three rounds. i wasn't amazing, but i definitely wasn't bad. i'm glad i managed to keep up and i felt as good as i felt exhausted by the time i left.

it was shirt and sandals weather, and that's how i went shopping. my body was so stiff and sore that it was almost as hard to get to the supermarket as it was to get back. i felt old, and very slow indeed.

gd was supposed to come over but her back was still hurting her, so i had most of a salad and then headed over there.

---
yesterday:

the moon was full and appeared far larger than usual, its light followed me through the dark streets to gd's. i was totally bombed even before i arrived, and we watched episodes 8 and 9 of rick and morty while i thoroughly enjoyed a vegan grilled cheese.

...

i slept incredibly well, though i still woke up sore and slow in the morning. i had a worrying headache but i assumed it was just my sinuses still and not related to my tender post-punches head.

[an amusing moment meeting a family friend of gd's and her saying precisely the wrong thing]

we'd finally organized a copy of windows for gd's computer but it couldn't be read... then it struck me that ubuntu might be a good option for someone who doesn't really tax her pc very much.

what a pleasure installing it off my thumb drive! almost everything she needs was a breeze to configure, and in some cases - like input languages - i managed to set things up in a far more usable way than windows would ever let me. the only complicated things is updating grub, which i'm not prepared to do until i have the time to focus properly and not make any mistakes...

feeling pleased and really hungry, we went out to midi 6 for lunch. the asian waitress has never heard the word "vegan" before, and started explaining to us that there's no difference in the menu between weekdays and weekends.
not "weekend", i said, and we sent her off to the kitchen to find out if i'd be able to eat. eventually we came right, but i do wish they'd add their option to the menu already...

we walked out into proper summer, sated and happy. we said goodbye at the metro station and i came home to fall onto the couch. my death nap was interrupted by the balcony door banging in the wind. then horseman called to say he was on his way. i wasn't sure about that until i'd gotten some coffee in me, after which i felt much better.

we played tekken and i gave him a speech about his life choices. because that's what friends do? for months he's invested himself in finishing high school and has given up on the last exam. it's statistics, and the reason he's given up is because he can't make sense of it. which is fair, because it's a bullshit subject. i just hope he gets over himself and then the exam, because the longer he waits the less chance he'll have of finishing.

statistically speaking, of course.

---
i've spent some time thinking about organizing poetry evenings during the summer while the throw poetry collective's dormant, an idea which rabbit instigated. i asked horseman what he thought about it and he added a surprisingly good idea to the mix: he's working with youth from the projects and we could bring them in for a workshop each month. now we just need to secure l'artere and figure out how to get to break-even, then we'll be good to go.

---
i was far too broken to train yesterday, so i finished going through my discs that pg's holding. just before heading out to gd's i received a message from the office saying that the legal team is putting together my permit application. i think this means that things are progressing well.

...

on my way there i remembered something important about poetry: if it's not accessible enough to please everyone to get high scores, then it doesn't deserve them. so sayeth shakespeare, or at least that's how he rolledeth.

...

gd put together a delicious dinner and we had so delicious ice-cream from dessert: we're in agreement, soya ice-cream is better than dairy. it's a texture thing, the taste is about the same. every ice-cream should be available in soya! just sayin'.

we finished season one of rick and morty. it's so profound! i think the world is better for it.

---
today:

i spent the night in total discomfort. this morning i woke up feeling accordingly shit, but once again felt much better after some coffee. i wasted half an hour or so at the walmart on my way home, looking for items that they didn't have in stock, then crashed on the couch reading comics.

aside from reading comics, eating and breaking glass, today's been about posting and relaxing. now that i'm done with the former i'm going to spend some more time doing the latter.

---
i keep finding myself surprised by the surreal nature of my relationship with gd. it's weird how perfect everything is, how good we are for each other! i keep finding myself feeling elatedly grateful and worrying that there's an imbalance somewhere. and then she convinces me that's all's right with the world.

huh.

glassware

i've just smashed a plate into one of the replacement glasses i bought while doing the dishes. both are in shards. i hear the universe telling me that i should invest in plastics. that i'm not suited to melted sand. the flash of anger i experience every time i shatter something isn't worth this.

...

on an entirely different note, solar roadways could be a thing. they've got an incredible concept and even if they don't get to the "replacing all roads" milestone, the ability to pave our private driveways with this would already make any dollars you send their way well worth it. please support them!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

2:22 - 3:33

it's the middle of the night, and i'm not in the mood to sleep. my legs are healing painfully post-kickboxing and my brain's online. gd's asked me not to close the door because, like me, she likes to sleep when there're things going on in the background, which i find deeply soothing.

---
i've just found a track that i've been looking for for ages - mankey - double trouble. there were a bunch of other vinyls i had but i'm struggling to remember the exact names...

---
here's a petition to stop using "neonics", and a simple search for "bees neonics" turns up an article explaining why we should rethink banning them.

what a bummer that the first link can be used to sign the petition, but i can't find a way to use it to argue with the petition.

---
we're in trouble. the west antarctic ice sheet is definitely melting and there's nothing we can do to stop it. seems like that link about world under water i posted the other day is even more relevant now :(

---
the luna clothing cleaner seems like a very good idea.

---
trying to find the right place to spend a $5 gift certificate from comixology is rather difficult.

big moments - part iii

[... continued]

yesterday:

after the slam we went back to gd's where she spoiled me with a delicious dinner and i played dragon coins while she watched from dusk till dawn; the series doesn't really appeal to me.

...

at 4.30am i got up with rls. it didn't last too long, but after i got back to sleep i had a horrible dream in which i was back in the army and falsely accused of sexual harassment. i was under investigation for something else (possibly unjustly), and so was unable to defend myself; i lost two ranks and more face than i could bear. i woke up in horror, unable to sleep comfortably afterwards.

...

i eventually got up with a blocked nose. AFTER the slam? couldn't we just agree, universe, that you'd screwed with me enough for one week?

...

it was a perfectly relaxing summer's day yesterday, the weather was beautiful and we had nothing on the to-do list aside from enjoying each other's company. we signed gd up for tristar's 20 classes for $20, which is awesome, then took some art supplies down to a park near gd's to practice; me with the calligraphy, gd with the i draw comics exercises.

we strolled to a perfect spot and took out the blanket just as the wind started up. it quickly went from annoying to unmanageable, and we soon had to get up and go. thanks, not-winter. you're awesome :/

it wasn't too chilly to go to the gym without a second layer, so that was nice at least. boxing was excellent! the assistant coach was my partner for most of the class, the work was good but adjusting to him being a southpaw was a bit tricky with the more complicated combos. when it came to impact, though, our kickboxing instructor - who'd joined the class - didn't have a partner so i volunteered to work with him. he hurt me a few times, but i walked off with my head held high.

the final exercises were too much for me, though - my blood pressure dropped dramatically as i hit the last set and i had to sit down and chow a protein bar to reset.

*sigh*

i did some quick shopping afterwards, carrying the bags home with difficulty. i slowly made us dinner, and we settled down to watch rick and morty at scrapper's suggestion.

---
today:

gd woke up with a sore back and we had some resulting drama, but we got her together enough to go to get treated. i spent the time getting odds and ends done, and she returned feeling much better. we were both exhausted and spent the rest of the day resting, and got up a while ago so that i could finish posting and she could watch spiderman 3. i warned her it was bad. it took her about half the movie to give up herself.

---
i've recently realized that the vitamin d tablets i bought were sublingual. surprise! i didn't know they came in sublingual form. i wonder if i haven't been getting enough because i've been taking them like regular tablets...

---
giger is dead. there goes another great man. one of my favourite artists and inspirations.

rest in peace. or in the perpetually weird world which you tried to make real for us.

big moments - part ii

[... continued]

the slam:

there is something incredibly special about having a group of friends supporting you so large that they take up half the place. every time i got up i felt like i had the home advantage, which was powerful, heady stuff!

the first piece i did was the slam. i turned the third line humorous by doing it in the voice of the caterpillar from disney's alice in wonderland, and pulled out all the stops with the rest of it. there was a lot of finger-snapping and laughter, and i stepped off to crazy applause.

the satisfaction from that moment turned to confusion when the judges all scored me really poorly. so poorly, in fact, that i was surprised later to hear that i'd made it into the second round.

the feature poet was perry visionpoet divirgilio. he's almost as big as his words, it was fantastic listening to him!
follow him on twitter
follow him on youtube

for the second round i took a bit of a risk. i took the microphone off the stand and crouched down next to it, eye-level with the audience. i deepened my voice and, having all the time in the world for such a short piece, slowly performed signs in the dead of night.

the first few moments were awkward for me as the first lines got a lot of laughs, and i'd been hoping to set the tone an octave darker. but i felt like the rest of it did the job. i finished, paused, stood up to put the microphone back and walk off the stage. not as much applause, and the scores... well, they were worse than before.

i guess the judges just didn't dig me. i felt a bit better about things later, when one of the other poets came up to tell me that what i'd done was really powerful. at least that.

so, to summarize: it was a wonderful evening with amazing performances by most of the competitors. i'm extremely proud of what i did even if it didn't get me onto the team. those who did make the team were all amazing, especially rabbit who took first place.

and aaa had come for the first half and left without any drama, so that was cool too :)

[continued...]

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

big moments - part i

okay, i need to focus. i think. it's been a strange and surprising few days.

---
friday:

there's nothing like being late AND forgetting tissues when you're all snot-nosed :(
dinner at p.m. was very decent.

---
saturday:

i slept much better than the night before, there were a couple of minutes of rls worry but then it was fine.

we woke up really early, and while getting ready i got pornkings - amour in my head. i came home, slept a bit more and then tuned in to bioshock. i got through a little bit of it, so far i'm enjoying myself.

---
so jerry said "don't do it". of course i'm going to do it.

dragon coins is super-addictive, except for the bit where it takes over a minute to get past the splash screen and each screen change costs another 15-30s. the lack of offline play is discouraging and the friend system is disquietingly weird. but aside from all that - it's a wonderful game!

---
horseman had invited me to his community centre's talent show, and i managed to get there only half an hour late. unfortunately for me, it was pitch black in the auditorium and i had to stand at the back for about ten minutes before my eyes adjusted enough to find a seat.

i was taken by surprise by quite a few of the kids - they're really talented, and it was exciting to see them getting a chance on the stage.

lesson learned: no tissues in back pockets. my back pocket was more hole than pocket and i looked like i was trailing toilet paper or something :$

horseman and a friend of his walked and talked with me for a while; it was nice and sunny but awfully windy. i headed to gd's to meet a friend of hers who'd come for a haircut: he was really awkward around me, apparently he was intimidated. i don't know what that's about.

we left for my place, and the weather suddenly went from annoying to ugly. gd was very unhappy, in the way that most montrealers get very unhappy about the end of winter. just like with everyone else here, my opinions on the weather aren't too welcome but she calmed down soon enough. i've written a poem about it but i'm withholding it until i feel it's more complete.

it was too late for takeout by the time we got home so we both had frozen meals and sat down in front of the rest of amadeus. it's a wonderful movie, even if thoroughly historically inaccurate.

we put on tekken, enjoying some indescribably perfect moments, then went to bed.

---
sunday:

it was a great, slow morning to a gorgeous, warm, sunny day. combot training was too rough for gd, but regular vs battles with her are fine. we were about to leave when i heard that my mother was having a very un-mother's-day moment, her car having broken down on a highway far enough outside of cape town... i was concerned, but relieved to hear that there were people on the case. i went to godmother's for coffee and to wait for news from my mother.

i learned that yin has finally found a job in vancouver - working in a liquor store. this was a perfect piece of news to hear before explaining to my aunt and uncle hate that i've just been employed by a company that builds infrastructure for the porn industry. uncle hate enjoyed that bit of news far more than i'd anticipated.

the good news was that my mother made it home safe and sound, chased by rather unfortunate news that there's some family drama going on in south africa with my late uncle's legacy. we all know that it's bullshit, but it would be nice if that bullshit sorted itself out.

i had to run to meet gd at the metro - she'd been having some family drama of her own, her mother's developing dementia and managed to really upset her children who'd made every effort to be nice to her for mother's day. i had to wait longer than expected and let dragon coins keep me company.

the quick stop at my place took longer than planned, and we arrived at gd's with an hour to cut my hair and shower before rushing off to the slam finals.

[continued...]

rick and morty

okay, listening up internets! there's a show called rick and morty. we watched four episodes last night, and it's a step beyond invader zim and adventure time.

here's the pilot episode.

it's disturbing in a lot of ways, but it's genius-level clever. i'm warmly suggesting you take a look.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

sunday morning linkage

things that have been interesting me and loading up over the last (short) while:

1. 3D printing pen
2. 3D printing makeup
3. new york city's payphone wireless
4. the fcc are being assholes about net neutrality. someone's had a great idea...
5. jerry said don't do it. of course i did it. and he's totally, *totally* right.
6. here's a good look at the problems of nutritional info online. as always, i recommend going with nutritionfacts.org.
7. used to be some hardcore sexism. feminism's still necessary, but *wow* we've come a long way.
8. world under water? i have a feeling that only the choir's going to check that out, preacher.
9. a building recycling robot? YES.

what if randall munroe?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

software not-precisely-engineering

“always code as if the person who ends up maintaining your code is a violent psychopath who knows where you live.” - stolen from dystopia, unverified

i had an idea a few weeks ago while i was struggling to deal with recruitment agencies, and when i went to morgan stanley i found myself discussing it with the local head of their software division who shared similar ones. our discussion combined them all to form the following:

1. the software world is completely broken. this is because badly written code, compilers and interpreters form the foundation upon which all the rest of the ecosystem relies, and so in addition to bad practices and bugs on the expected levels of code (applications, etc.) there are loads of instances where the code cannot be written well without it breaking.

2. most code is written badly because it's done under time constraints and only the barest minimum functionality is demanded by management. the fact that code can be rewritten gives people a sense that it's okay to publish bugs into the public domain.

3. there should be an authority with whom every software engineer would have to register. not only would this authority ensure minimum acceptable proficiency, but they would also be responsible for monitoring and auditing code produced by licensed professionals.

4. any software engineer caught publishing badly designed or untested code would forfeit his license.

two things would come from this:

1. the licensing authority would be able to assure any employer that a developer is technically capable; the employer would only need to worry about cultural fit.

2. a licensed developer would be motivated to refuse any instruction to perform unethical or irresponsible acts on grounds that his license would be at risk and would be worth more than his job. any employer attempting to force a licensed engineer to produce badly designed code could be blacklisted by the authority.

...

kinda like when a doctor doesn't save the hospital cash by putting a band-aid on a wound that requires surgery.
"sorry, if i don't adhere to the standard of ethics i could lose my license. how about we actually solve the problem instead?"

...

all arguments for or against are welcome in the comments.