Saturday, January 31, 2009


I generally rather like 'sleaze' paperbacks. They are cheap vintage yellowback books generally with gratuitous sex and violence, but honestly the story itself is generally pretty readable. But every now and again I strike one that is a bit much.

I mean... 'splotation, let me count the ways. We have the sexy (underage) girl, blacksploitation, rape reference, other violence and a whopping dose of moral panic related to young black men. I may be judging a book by it's cover, but I skimmed the first chapter and honestly I am not even trying to slog through this one. It seems to be 75% pure untagged dialogue and first person to boot, and that's before our lovely protagonist gets to taking girls "by force".

So sue me I am not going to try too hard to get into a book that serves up 140 pages of nasty wish fufillent with half a page of just deserts to make it all right. I actually think people should be able to indulge any fantasies they like--but I can't palate combining it with smug disdain at the same time.

Friday, January 30, 2009


Over on the right column under the feed is a link to "Clistening". This is a custom online radio channel for the blog--supported by the free custom radio host Pandora. Clistening has a slowly expanding play list mainly of ballad, power ballad, rock and fem heavy metal--but with a little emo and some covers mixed in. Some examples of the artists are shown below. If that doesn't suit you, you can make your own custom station from scratch or by modifying a station that already exists. And yes, I take requests. In fact I could probably do with some suggestions from the last decade or so to get Clistening a little more up-to-the-minute.

Jann Arden, The Bangles, Sara Bareillis, Pat Benatar, Blondie, Belinda Carlisle, Dido, Melissa Etheridge, Evanescence, Marianne Faithful, Heart, Natalie Imbruglia, Joan Jett, Lacuna Coil, Annie Lennox, Sarah McLachlan, Nightwish, Pink, Puerto Muerto, Rihanna, Katy Rose, Rachel Sweet, Bonnie Tyler, Xandria.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

[OT] Blog Chain

A blog chain is a serious of posts across several blogs, investigating loosely related ideas.

Razib started us off from Bangladesh, speaking about the economic downturn and resulting job losses of employment and income.

Benjamin related this to the feelings on Australian day--where economic pressure intensified the worst strands of racist nationalism.

Fresh Hell spoke of the down sides of Virginia's past, but also the promise of a future with America's first African American president.

Wendy discussed how racism can be persistent in casual stereotypes and comments.

Madderblue discussed just how weird old sayings and idioms can be.

And Kat discussed how sayings can go wrong, especially between countries.

I an a New Zealander and living in the UK and US I have learned to just keep talking and let the idiom fall where it may. But it does seem like the easiest territory to go wrong in is unintended sexual euphemism. I have learned not to say booty, rubber, or "I'm easy". I do wish the Americans would meet me half way when it comes to fanny packs and "hump day." ;)

And on a slightly more serious note I really struggle writing in American English where 'they' is not accepted as a gender neutral singular, and use of male pronouns is still accepted as covering men and women. Sigh.

Edited to add: see also this addition to the discussion from Bartholomew

Sharking, Actually Assaulting

The latest cute name for disgusting behavior is sharking--where a man runs up to a women or girl in a public and pulls down off some of her clothing while another man films it. I would say this is assault, plain and simple--humiliation of women and girls for amusement--a message that you are not safe just walking down the street. The description of this as a "sport" is egregious. This is different from "pantsing" which is done between friends as a joke (like the infamous wedgie in reverse).

If you have any spare time please run a search and flag these videos as inappropriate. Like gang tagging, if material doesn't stay up long the motivation to produce it is undermined. It could also be flagged or voted down on sites like Digg. Feel free to leave some comments and contact the advertisers on sites that won't withdraw the material. If they don't care about women being safe on public streets they might care when their income stream is threatened. Look for advertisers that are large brands with active PR.

I am all for freedom of expression, but not when it comes to glorifying assault and sickos taking 'up shirt' filming to the next level. Some of the videos may be fake but I am not giving any benefit fo the doubt. If I end up looking like a humorless bitch I can live with that.

Break, Whoomp, Online Video DB.

Free Romance Ebooks

On Saturday I will be releasing one of my M/M novellas as a free pdf. Until then you might be interested in these free romance ebooks from Harlequin , Melanie Hauser and Romance Divas.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Furtish #2

Okay, so what (if anything) was on my mind with the "furtish" picture?

Firstly, the shopping channel. "Mink, the classic fur," the salesperson says. "How feminine you feel with the fur around your face." They were pushing this "replica" mink coat. not "faux"... replica. Because this would really pass for mink, nobody could tell the difference--minks would be trying to pick you up in the park. So this how does this make any sense? It is the coat for someone with a moral objection to wearing fur, but who wants everyone to think they are wearing it? The perfect garment for hypocrites and morons? I don't understand, but I guess the mink aren't complaining.

Secondly, I started watching the movie The Eyes of Laura Mars. It opens with a murder, a photographer's show including a prone nude with a German shepherd standing over it, the photographer fondling fur coats and then a model's hair and models in full-length furs cat-fighting in front of burning cars. Bloody hell. But you know, it's much ado about nothing. The director's cut leaned heavily on the idea that the heroine glamorised murder in her work and so was basically damned to end up killing someone. Kind of the violence version of "asking for it?"

By which logic karma should, by now, have turned me into a gay American werewolf.

Hmmm. Not that I'd complain.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Devil You Say! A Book Review of “The Prince of Darkness: the Devil in History, Religion and the Human Psyche” by Joan O’Grady.

The devil always seemed to me to be a made up bogeyman, whose rubber mask started to slip as soon as you looked too closely. I never gave much though to Satanism except when some redneck yelled at me for being a Satanist because I carrying a Darth Maul backpack. (No lie, I was dressed conservatively that day when I got bailed up by some weirdo for having a ‘demon’ on my bag – that’s Illinois for you).

I was dimly aware of the various modern Satanist denominations – the Order of Perdition etc… The commonest themes of these are that pleasure is not sinful if it does not harm to others (borrowed from paganism?) and that there is no God or afterlife, only ourselves (unabashed atheism). These groups are a mix of hedonism, religious libertarianism and wry satire – in allowing themselves to be consistently misunderstood. Others worship more literal devils in various black, white and grey shades.

It was with this in mind that I picked up ‘The Prince of Darkness’ to try and take a longer, straighter view of the devil without as much embedded doctrine as is to be found in tomes like the Satanic Bible. What I found made me realise how enduring the image of the Dark Prince is, across cultures and times – and how informed and sophisticated some modern Satanists are in drawing on these enduring beliefs for their own purposes.

O’Grady deals with ancient Satanic beliefs briefly but clearly before taking a fascinating journey from the advent of the New Testament to modern literature and psychology. Each chapter is seeded with insights. For example in Chapter Four, which takes us from the Desert Fathers to the Scholastics, we see that the Devil has a complex role even within the Christian Church. St. Thomas Aquinas wrote “Evil is the price to be paid for a non-static cosmos.” That is just as the ‘death’ tarot card has the real meaning of change and transformation, the ‘devil’ (struggle) is necessary for us to experience change and growth.

The main difference between the message of O’Grady’s book and the message of the modern Satanists is one of perspective. O’Grady describes how Christianity tends to assert that all evil flows from humans (and angels) misusing their free will and valuing themselves (sin and egotism). O’Grady quotes a story told by the ancient Persian poet Farid-Ud-Din Attar, where the devil says to Moses “Remember this one lesson… Never say ‘I’; otherwise you will find yourself in the same condition I am.”

Satanism claims that “I am mine own God” – and that the Devil was “the first individual - the first being to acquire consciousness and perceive itself as something not separate, but unique in the cosmos.” For them hedonism and individuality is the path to growth, not the primrose path to hell. In this age of self-esteem and rugged individualism, it is strange and enlightening to considered that Satanism may indeed by the more ‘modern’ of the two religions…

Monday, January 26, 2009


What is it with zentai blogs?

Okay, step back for those who need it. A zentai is a leotard like garment that covers the entire body from top to toe--including the face. It was developed for dance and bluescreen work to make the whole body one uniform color.

Zentais are popular as fetish wear because they totally encase the body, a kind of symbolic bondage and/or submission. Which is cool, although not something I entirely get. I can't even stand to wear turtlenecks.

But blogs are purely visual. Putting the viewer in the role of encaser, not encasee. The zentai can look fascinating, artistic, but it englyphs the human body and literally objectifies the woman. In a zentai a woman looks like an anime character, or a doll.

Which is okay, actually. In fact it's totally fine if that is what she wants to do. And the women behind blogs like aurora fetish are clearly in control of everything they do.

It just isn't for me.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

[OT] Tsunamis: Not Just Metaphor--Not a Just Metaphor

Connecting the Quiksilver brand to the Microsoft brand = dumb
Having anything to do with he phrase "economic tsunami" = horrible

Words may just be words, but you do not surf a Tsunami. An image of a surfing goods CEO surfing a tsunami is not just profoundly ignorant of surfing, it is profoundly insensitive, smug, affluent-centric and just plain naff. It may have been 4 whole years, but over 200,000 deaths should still raise the word "tsunami" above the level of glib soundbites. What next, "economic 9/11", "economic holocaust"?

[picture excerpted from an award winning picture by Arko Datta shown here]

Saturday, January 24, 2009


More on this later. Bonus points for naming the two image sources. Don't let me down, Clyde.

Friday, January 23, 2009


The original medical definition of a fetish tended to be something like this, from Merriam-Webster: "an object or bodily part whose real or fantasized presence is psychologically necessary for sexual gratification and that is an object of fixation to the extent that it may interfere with complete sexual expression." These days we tend to recognise that a fetish is not normally absolutely necessary or disruptive, in fact most people have certain things that they think are sexy--but which are not innately/biologically connected to sexual acts. (Ain't Pavlov grand?).

I think one thing to realise is that a rare fetish is not more "kinky" than a common one. What makes a fetish more intense is the response, whether the person can be aroused without it, and perhaps whether the use if it is in any way harmful to themselves of others. There are certainly fetishes that blend in because they are currently very common, even though they are quite clearly fetishistic. It's the old "I'm sexy, your kinky, she's a pervert" effect.

Shoes. Seriously. Women's shoes. It's insane.

I spent most of my childhood running around with the bare minimum of shoe-age. In summer I had soles like tanned leather; I could walk glass. Actually, as a graduate student living in a city I sometimes did (firewalkers don't impress me). Once I moved to the US things changed a bit. Legal liability issues meant my first trip to a US supermarket was a complete failure--they wouldn't let me in barefoot and I wasn't carrying any footwear (mutual incomprehension ensued).

Recently I had to start engaging in the wearing of 'office clothing'. And while I am a habitual cultural skeptic I do know what is expected of me and sometimes I even do it (if paid well and asked nicely). But high heeled shoes turned out to be a bigger ask than I expected. I had worn them maybe a dozen times in my life and my average-sized feet come in barefoot proportions---that is to say my toes spread out and don't like to point in at the best of times, let alone when propelled downwards by 'heeled' heels.

I asked for advice and various women pointed me to their favorites shoes. Shoes that were all fascinating shapes, lovely colors and textures, expensive as all hell and clearly not only fetishistic sexual objects but an expression of masochistic tendencies to boot (literally). I don't do paid posts on this blog (there are ads on the side columns, but not so much as an affiliate link in any post) so you can believe me when I say: thank you Aerosole. They are literally the only heels I can wear.

But on the whole, I'd rather be bare.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Gay Zombie Penguin: Classic #1

This is the very first GZP strip, now quite a few years old.

Cover Story: Flaming

Doctor, every time I look it you I feel like my heart is burning. Why do you think that might be?

It is because you have fallen passionately in love with me. But perhaps I had better do a breast exam, just to be sure.

Huh. I thought it might be the Viking ship projecting from my rib cage.

Oh that? That is just a metaphor for my prowess. I am sure the receptionist told you how handsome I am, and the significance of my large nose.

Actually she warned me about your wandering hands and huge bill. In fact I was pretty sure I wasn't the only one in here "flaming"--what with the big gold brooch and all.

Oh, come on. You must be able to tell I am "happy to see you".

That is just your jeweled sabre--and sadly that is not metaphorical at all. (But anyway, I could never date a man whose hair is prettier than mine....)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stereotypes and Straw (Wo)men

"Women's instincts are finer and truer than men's, because women, as a rule, are morally better than men; and it is a fact, known to every observant person, that women are less unreasonably conventional in their views of this matter than men are. It is men, and not women, who loosely class together as bad all works of fiction which deal with forbidden things of character and conduct, without intelligently discriminating between those which deal with such matters in artistic fashion and exalted purpose and those which make them as an allurement to attention." (Eggleston, 1890--The Nude in Literature, The Author).

It important to realise that no stereotype is all bad. That may feel odd to some people, but it is important.

Stereotypes are two things. They are generalisations, which are lazy and do not respect individuality... but otherwise no great sin. And they may also be fallacies, so the quality being generalised may not even really differ between the two groups.

But if a person doe not think, for example, that men and women have a different level of worth--stereotypes are just sloppy and mistaken. And that means they are correctable.

If you realise that a person who stereotypes women attributes both good and bad qualities to them, there is a basis for discussion. You may rankle at the negative stereotypes, but your point might be more effectively made by looking at the positive ones.

And if the positive stereotypes somehow ring true, perhaps there is more than one person in the conversation who needs to check their facts and reconsider their position?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Black Witchery and Whack Bitchery

So, back to the point of this blog: gender, sexuality and books. And Today's book (points upwards) is "Witchcraft of America Today"--or more specifically, in 1970.

The first thing to notice is that this is a moral panic book. (Oh noes, I can haz damnation?) In a wake of the sixties every good Judeo-Christian man knew that witchcraft was a serious, serious problem! (Oh those terrible rabble-rousing Wiccans, LOL).

"One may wade in the occult water, dabble for a hobby or a recreation ... But in doing so it should always be remembered that witchcraft has strong, unknown undercurrents not to be trifled with at the risk of being pulled beneath the surface."

What, you might ask, are those dreadful undercurrents. Well, here is a clue.

"Relaxation of American sexual mores in the 1960s has encouraged the resurgence of interest and practice of witchcraft ... covens basically serve as an outlet for sexual release of sexual inhibitions and determination to achieve equality with the male."

If you are ever in need of a good laugh, pick up this book. Why did women in the 60s rise up for equal rights and take part in free love? Well, obviously, the devil made them do it.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Gay Zombie Penguins: Vampire-in-Law #2

Captcha = Slave Labor

Sometimes I feel like a real grinch, but this is just something to consider....

I often see online discussions where it is suggested that people shouldn't work for free or very low wages. The basic idea being that working for free is under-valuing yourself, and lower the rates for other workers.

The problem is that a lot of hard work is done for social capital. Housework, parenting, charity, hobbies, clubs etc etc. Tasks are done for non-monetary compensation. However there is still a

This is where the grinch part comes in.

CAPTCHA is a system that makes you type a word to make sure you are a person. Anyone who comments on blogs has come across this verification process. And you know what? Its a pain in the ass. A lot of them don't work too well and make commenting more difficult and occasionally impossible. But never mind. Blocking spam helps a site provide content to me--so that's okay with me.

reCAPTCHA adds another word to "improves the process of digitizing books by sending words that cannot be read by computers to the Web in the form of CAPTCHAs for humans to decipher." So, it adds a word that is hard to see, for no benefit to the user whatsoever. I am not being compensated and it is making the CAPTCHA harder, slower and more annoying. So if as a blog host or user I am supporting reCAPTCHA it is presumably for social capital.

Do I support the digitisation of these books? I don't know, no one asked me. Is It a charity? Are the books being made public domain? Are other people paid for farming this job out to me and the other cyber-proles?

The reCAPTCHA website states the two places where materials are sourced but that is all. They do not say whether the digital material produced is for public use or charitable purposes. No need to explain there things to the "help", it seems?

CNET crows: "Reusing your 'wasted' time online". The Grinchsays: wasting my useful time online. Please guys, don't make visual verification harder than it needs to be unless it is clearly and explicitly for the greater good.

It is for ME to decide if my time is being "wasted", rather than someone else who is taking it for their own purposes. And I have to assume for the purposes of making them money and getting them the social capital of admiration and acclaim.

Because it seems everyone loves them for stealing away our time for their benefit...

...everyone except the grinch.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

I come not to praise feminism...

Further to my post yesterday, here is a more general thought about feminism. For feminism to work it has to be a grass roots, 'common sense' belief. And to be so widely accepted it needs to be a brand. It needs to be attractive, make people feel good, and be embraced even by people who actually benefit from the alternative (patriarchy etc).

Take for example, that only 3-4 percent of people believe enough in animal rights to stop eating animals--but a much larger group will support specific bans on fur and testing, and donate to groups like PETA (donations up 11% in 2008), and a majority of people now agree animals have some kinds of rights. From a strict rights/vegan point of view this might be seen as hypocrisy--but from a pragmatic point of view HSUS presented a ballot, and 65% of people voted against tiny veal, hen and sow enclosures. By mobilising grass roots emotional support they got something done.

Organic farming used to be just for those committed to the entire philosophy. Now it is a niche market embraced by many farmers purely for economic reasons. But that means more organic farms, and more people with access to organic products. Once the idea that animal abuse was a sentinel for abuse and violence was not accepted, not everyone seems to know this, including politician introducing and supporting bills.

All of these ideas came from a core group who devoted their lives to them, and were then embraced by large group who support them out of a general feeling that it was good, or healthy, or kind. They were honed by the minority, but ultimately implemented by the majority. Most people aren't going to devote their lives or entire budget to a cause--they certainly aren't going to align every act, belief and political vote to a detailed, uniform agenda. And any movement that required this is never going to truly break through.

Look also at the breakthrough with environmentalism, showing it wasn't just a liberal agenda is--it's the planet, stupid. It is a conservative issue, a religious issue, an atheist issue, an economic issue, a kids' issue, an industry issue... it is an issue for the species. You can be green and be any other damn thing you like, because it is going to take all of us. The scientific facts of climate change reach the majority only when they were stripped of a clutter of other issues and agendas, and connected to feelings of doing good for humankind, doing the right thing together.

Human rights are the same. If men aren't allowed to be feminist, then feminism isn't the solution to gender rights. If men can't be victims (e.g. of violence, severed parental rights, workplace stress etc etc) under feminism... ditto. I am not falling for the 'poor white man' rhetoric here, but a gender prejudice should be accepted regardless of the gender or the severity of the issue--just as violence is violence whether it is domestic, public... or against animals. Gender rights are about males, females and any other status (intersex, androgynous etc)--to have equal rights we all have to support it under a banner that is politically and religiously inclusive--including the right to submit to religious dictates, be a sexual submissive and any other damn thing a grown person might decide to do. If a feminist has to be pro-abortion, anti-Republican, pro-gay, vegetarian and counter-culture then I can join, I will be joining a group that is, and always will be, in a minority.

If the goal is to offer real equal rights, the nature of these rights must rest firmly on an accurate understanding of what gender is and isn't--and an inclusive, emotionally warm movement to honor the innate moral worth of every person. Real feminism must include people with whom, on every other issue under the sun, we might disagree. I have a deep commitment to feminism, but the mainstream of the movement seems to be dominated by vagino-retentive femino-centrism and a new generation of pretentious female chauvinist bitchery--now busy sparring with each other to the exclusion of most other activities.

It is more important to have rights, than to be right. And I am seriously beginning to wonder whether the need for gender awareness and true human rights can be carried any further under the feminist banner, which seems so dominated by the need to denigrate the language and positions of those trying to embrace the central mission without joining the cult of feminism or neo-feminism and following it as a creed of speech, dress and attitude more demanding that orthodox religion. I honor what the movement has done, but not what is has become, because it is increasingly adding a degree of truth to some of what the male chauvinist idiots have always said about the stereotypical feminist--humorless, naive, nit-picking and hostile to pragmatism and compromise.

My mother's feminism and my sister's feminism are not enough. I need a belief that can be my brother's, son's or husband's feminism... my priest's, my dog's, my boss's, my enemy's. I need a feminism that walks the walk when it comes to honoring they way in which all people are equal, no matter how different they may be. I come not to praise feminism, nor to bury it. In fact unless some changes are made, when it comes to doing my best to work for a fairer society, I may not come to "feminism" at all--and I doubt I am the only one.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I'm Not a Feminist but....

I am a feminist. I can tell because every time someone says 'I'm not a feminist but...' I feel like smacking them. I don't think gender has moral value. I think the majority of beliefs about gender transmitted by pop culture are seriously off base. And I think people experience limitations due to their gender--both externally and internally imposed.

But you might note that none of those statements are about being a woman per se. They are about gender, and about being gender-aware. I think that we are almost ready to start moving beyond an exclusive focus on the civil rights of females. I think we can continue that struggle whilst considering the issue of gender, of gender-typical conduct, sexuality and society in a somewhat 'broader' sense (so to speak).

And while I do not in any sense reject the notion of feminism as a sub-set of that issue, I do not think I am alone on feeling a little impatience with being limited to feminism as the discipline that is on the forefront of the debate. Case in point, arguments of little substance that seem to echo across the femiverse. Ms. magazine puts a super-hero-styled Obama on the cover, and include a matching wall poster. Y'know, I get that this suggests Ms. readers will/should be Obama fangrrls. But whatever. This isn't even as unimportant as the apocryphal hill of beans--it is at best a bean (maybe a bean and a half, or even a has-bean).

But as Girl in Short Shorts notes: "Of course, feminists get offended about almost anything." So we must, it seems, drag out the same old issues--whether a man can be feminist, whether Obama claims to be one (and whether he really is or isn't), whether Hillary supporters are being insulted (or not), yadda yadda yadda, blah blah blah. Often with a heaping aside of gender insult (i.e. "Panties in a wad", etc) and renewed debates about what feminism really is.

Why, in a world where genders are socially constructed and even biological male- versus female-ness is not seen as a strict dichotomy, are feminist debates typically framed as two points of view (within feminism, and a few dinosaurs still arguing against it--like dull and duller here). It is also implicit that one point of view is totally right and the other wrong, with endless debates about intent and outcome. Even if this method of discussion could determine anything, like something as basic as what feminism really is, I am not sure I could bring myself to care.

Can't we please move on?

Gay Zombie Penguins: Vampire-in-Law #1

Friday, January 16, 2009

Cliterature Redux

This blog is a continuation of a blog on the network. I initially started on to experiment in the arena of paid posting. I don't really want to take part in 'pay-per-post' activities that push certain products. But Today offers a low 'per 1000 uniques' rate and a flat per-post rate regardless of content. Previously the typical rate was $1 per daily post, but currently new blogs start at zero and are only considered for this plan after a month.

I first considered leaving after I mistakenly believed that I had been dropped from the pay-per-post plan--leaving the earnings roughly equivalent to what I could do on my own. The added factor being the uniform blog template uses, when I prefer to have a little more leeway to tinker and personalise. But hey, it is their show. Even after clearing up that misunderstanding I was rather on the fence. Here is what I posted on the forums in response to a user suggesting that people in the program for the money are there for the wrong reasons.

I am not sure you can say people are here for the wrong reasons when the deal was a dollar per day, with changes based on blog quality. If you offer a dollar a day, you will get at least some people here for the dollar a day--with they idea of doing well and possibly getting more (c.f. getting less just because the market plan isn't panning out).

My own blogs may not make a dollar a day, but several of them make more than 2$ per 1000 uniques. I have one that makes about 10$ per thousand uniques. So, a precipitous drop in interest in blogging here seems only rational--not foolish or selfish.

That is just the free market. To continue here I would need a non-monetary reason like a relationship, a commitment to the purpose of Today etc. And although I like my blogging peers I can't say may communication with the company in general has been frequent or supportive. In fact that last locked post from the owner was negative and not very coherent.

I understand the free market and what needs to be done. But that doesn't just apply to applies to me too.

The response from the owner was a seven day ban from posting on the forums: "due to negative posts directed to owner".

To be frank I don't blog primarily for the money. I have a career, and a supplementary income from my erotic romance writing, which provides more than enough money for my less-than-extravagant lifestyle. But I find money to be an interesting metric, and economics to be a difficult game with complicated rules that is fun to play. Of course I recognise that as an over-analytical, financially comfortable dilettante I am not a dream employee--in fact I am rather "uppity". But my employer and my publishers don't seem to find this a negative quality because they have good answers for every question I ask them.

I am reminded of the times when I was lecturing at university, and the other lecturers would complain about "adult students" (older people returning to university). These people had lives, experiences, opinions and confidence in themselves. I found that if you knew your stuff, explained what was reasonable, and--hell--explained what was arbitrary and unreasonable but a fact of life, older students were the best students of the lot. I would take them over a bunch of "will this be in the test?" kids any day. But I digress.

I notice the owner went back and edited and corrected the forum post I was referencing, which due to the private nature of the forum I will not share. Needless to say that if I did share the original, the negative emotional tone and distinct lack of correctly spelled words or punctuation would support the point I was trying to make. When I did well at Today I got a $150 bonus (just the money, not even an email saying what it was for), but when I objected to an angry, garbled, locked-against-response rant from the owner I got banned from the forum.

I notice, especially here in the States, that people talk a lot about the importance of having 'leadership qualities'--but perhaps we need to talk about the qualities of good follow-ship too. All an employer needs to do is pay fairly and behave calmly. When monetary motivations are lower, or approach nil, then other factors come to the fore: transparency, a higher purpose, an amicable relationship.... in the absence of that, I am sorry, no loyalty is due. In fact, following without good reason is probably a much greater problem than leading without vision--because without followers there is no leader.

The day were anyone, man or woman, just took what they got and was grateful for it are long gone. I am not required to be positive about "the owner" if he is not being positive in treatment of his content providers. And an almost total lack of communication, widespread cuts in pay, and snarky comments on the forum don't do it for me. Although I would be remiss not to mention that Today staff are for the most part very helpful and easy to work with, and payment has always been as promised and on time. But in the long run, sub-minimum wage payment is a tenuous thread to hang loyalty upon and a ban on any "negative" comments, no matter how accurate, snapped that thread entirely.

So long Today, hello tomorrow. I hope you will come and visit me at this new address. Please let me know if there is anything about the format that doesn't work well, or any type of content you would particularly like to see.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Beauty, Going to the Dogs

In the United Kingdom the Kennel Club has come up with new standards for pedigree show dogs, in the hope of getting its big "Crufts" televised by the BBC again. You see the show was dropped in the wake of a BBC documentary last year, which exposed the health problems of pedigree dogs bred to the theoretically exalted standards of the national club.

When beauty if exalted over purpose, it becomes destructive. The adorable spots of the Dalmatian are linked to genes that cause deafness in 30% of American pedigree Dalmatians. It is heard in the audible breath of the bulldogs with ever shorter noses, and the seen in the eye problems of standard collies whose noses are breed to be extremely long. The daschund's back has a tendency to literally buckle on the pressure of an ever longer body. In fact there is barely a list breed not at measurably high risk of a slew of serious health problems from cancers to hip dysplasia.

It seems we are capable of forgetting that a dog, first and foremost, is a dog. It needs to see, small, move freely, and live a long healthy life. Everything else is a secondary issue. If Brown boxers are healthy than those with large amounts of white, brown boxers are beautiful. If we cannot see it, it is our eye that is flawed--not the dog. But if course it is the dog that carries the burden, the duty of being beautiful even when It means being waited down with fat and ridiculous amount of hear, clipped and trimmed even down to the removal of portions of ear and tail.

Beauty really can be a burden, if we allow it. And women also bear the responsibility to look good--although there is a perception that men are increasingly falling into this trap. Not just cosmetics packed with hidden toxins, cuts and coiffes, elastic clothes to suck us in and high heels to stick out our boobs and booty.

Now I am not a bra burner, people can pretty themselves up if they like. But the pedigree lesson is this... when health is being hurt, it has gone to far. When you feet and calves ache from the stilettos and you fall every time you go down stairs, when you start injecting poisons into your face or steroids into your muscles, when you are going under he knife, when you smoke to be thin... it is time to stop.

The question is not are you a man or a mouse--but are you a person or a poodle? You can parade with the poodles if you like, but do not sacrifice your ability to run with wolves. Being pretty is never more important that being a healthy, functional person. And the human beauty and fashion industry, out human kennel clubs and our Crufts, should be held to a standard no lower than is now being applied to dogs.

[picture excerpted from the BBC England's Year in Pictures]