A one-time school project gone terribly, terribly wrong.

29 April 2004

Hey thar, cowpoke.

Well you shouldn't be poking cows--

Further evidence that the evil done by a nasty word hangs about long after the initial damage has been done.

In this blog I previously referred to the case of a guy--let's call him Guy, who had been accused of rape by one particular girl, whom we'll call Ernestina. And why not Ernestina? It's a good moniker, and one that very few people have, thus reducing potential to offend, and I suspect I may finally succeed in offending a bod or two here and there.

Guy and Ernestina met some two years back when the each attended a perticular college, which we shal call Particular College of Rats--actually, I meant to type "Arts" but hey, I like the look of it.

They were all wrong for each other--she was half his age, he was culturally if not actively Catholic, she was an active Scientologist. He was a man of the world, she was still finding herself. But she had just broken up with her fiancé and he was. . .lonely? Horny? I dunno.

They came together (a-hem) on a basis of mutual respect, apparently. They both write, talented-ly (if there is such a word). Apart from that, there appeared to be little in common.

Okay up 'till now? Right. Here's where the midden hit the mill:

At some point a short while into their mutual acquaintance, they had sex. This is where current stories begin to diverge. You see, according to him they shared a mutual moment of pleasure. According to her it was rape.

Not that anybody knew about this:

His story (paraphrased):
"She was at my place, we were watching the game. We started cuddling and next thing I know. . ."
{As a gentleman I will discuss such details, but not with you, gentle reader.}
". . .It wasn't the only time. She stayed at my place for two weeks. Then she said she was freaked out by the difference in our ages, and that was the last I saw of her."

According to Guy, Ernestina started "acting weird" not long after the breakup--avoiding him, acting cold when he tried to speak to her.

So he left her alone.

Some fourteen months later, Ernestina produced a story about acquaintance rape, apparently intended as an information piece. She produced this for a class which relies on handing the stories out to all classmates for peer feedback. She handed it out herself in class, bypassing the teacher--I want to stress that this in itself was not terribly unusual, but it was a little odd.

The story included the following excerpts. Except for the indicated section, italics are this blog's:

"Of course I never thought it was assault--and it couldn't be rape; those words never entered my head. I convinced myself that I was uncomfortable with the difference in our ages."

"I felt I'd found a kindred spirit, and I didn't want to lose it, no matter what the cost."

(From UBC--where "staring" has sometimes been addressed as a sexual assault crime)
" 'Acquaintance sexual assault does not necessarily result in physical injury and is never the victim's fault.' "

Sorry UBC: "No" means NO. " " pretty much means "keep going". Lying there playing dead may just mean you're no damn fun. If you mean no, then it's your responsibility to say it loud and ₤µ€λing clear. Then it's his (or her) responsibility to stop.

"It's been over a year, and I'm still questioning myself on the validity of my belief that I was raped."

But apparently there wasn't enough uncertainty to not write this story, containing identifiable markers as to the identity of the guy concerned, and then hand it around the class they shared.

The Criminal Code of Canada definition of non-consent apparently "includes 'express[ing], by words or conduct, a lack of agreement to engage in the activity.' "

Again: It is the responsibility of the non-consenting party to express a lack of agreement.

Here's another interesting legal term: Libel. Those who don't know it, look it up.

"When I called the City Rape Relief & Women's Shelter recently I was looking for information about acquaintance rape in the province; I was not looking to recount my experience. I had to give a reason for calling, however, and they didn't seem too willing to impart any information when I told them I was writing about acquaintance rape. So in the interest of research, I told the woman on the other end of the line that I believed I had experienced acquaintance rape.

She redirected me to the Crisis Hot Line, where. . .I repeated my line about acquaintance rape, and [the person] was quick to inform me, 'Casual acquaintance rape happens all the time, so you can trust your instinct on that one.' "

Instinct. Ah yes, that well-known legal term. Like the mothering instinct which leads to crack babies? It is ridiculous to me that this woman is encouraging women to claim they've been raped, fourteen months after the fact, on "instinct". Why not check your aura, or your psychic vibrations?

"The word 'attacked' jumped out at me. I don't feel I was attacked."

Neither did the Hotline Hottie, apparently, at first:

"She had me recount what happened. We were watching a football game at his place, and I wanted to rest my head on his shoulder. He pulled me to lie down in front of him and spooned me. I felt a bit tense, but decided he was just being nice. . .But by the end of the game he had unzipped my jeans and was trying to take them off. I eventually fell off the couch in my attempt to get him to stop, not able to actually say 'stop'."

{Italics as per the story}

"[The lady] listened. . .when I finished, she said 'He did not have your permission, and kept pushing. That is sexual assault. Rape, as a rule, is penetration.' "

So Ernestina decided, after fourteen months, to unburden herself:
"I did not want to recount the sexual experiences I had with him to her, although I vivdly remember crying into a pillow as his fingers dug into my hips to keep me under him. It's hard for me to accept that what happened was rape and assault, especially since I wasn't beat up."

Now remember: On page 2 she was "still questioning myself". On page four she says:
"Now I know that I have no reason to doubt the wrongness of what happened to me."

Pretty quick turnaround.

Later in the same paper:
"What should you do if it happens? . . . Despite these [bad] feelings, and as difficult as it sounds, the bets thing to do is report it, right away, to both the police and health care professionals."

No argument here. In fact, I don't see anywhere, in ANY of the literature, an indication that dithering for fourteen months, then lambasting a man and attempting to trash his reputation in a public forum in such a manner that any response from him looks suspect, is a good idea in coping with this sort of thing.

"I didn't report this case. I see this person on a regular basis and we have mutual acquaintances. . .Author's note--no,no, it's too easy. . .But still, if I'd filed a report, I would have potentially helped other women by establishing a case aginst him and preventing this from happening again."

Or you might have wound up facing a charge of criminal mischief--could go either way, Ernestina. Oh--and by not reporting it, you'll doubtless feel responsible each and every time this guy rapes anyone else, knowing you could have prevented it.

Of course, he's in his forties and has apparently never had such a thing happen before--either that or nobody ever bothered publishing a story about it before--but maybe he's just breaking out and has developed a taste for it.

"It took me two weeks to get away. I wanted that friendship more than anything else; but he wanted all of me, or wanted nothing to do with me."

He was holding you prisoner? The dastard! And "wanting all of you"! sure sounds pathalogical to me. Not too many guys have made themselves fools by declaring those very words to some unrequited fling, eh?

Well surely no more than lie about loving a woman in order to get laid--and that can't possibly be more than what, three, four dozen, max, right?

Now here comes the interesting part. After lengthy quotes from the UBC fact sheet (including "Seek and give clarity where mixed messages may be occuring."), the document ends with:

"It all comes down to consent. My current boyfriend and I have expressed our love for each other, and intimacy {the blog's author assumes this means sex} is now part of our relationship. Before being intimate, he always asks me, "Would you like me to. . .?" or "Can I. . ." At first I thought it was just his uncertainty {um--on the evidence?} or lack of confidence in himself, and I felt silly having to say 'Yes'; in fact, it is difficult for me to verbally express my wishes, even though they are affirmative."

Spoken like a true teenage girl. Tell ya something, dearie. I have personally rolled in the hay with a number of people who not only didn't provide clues to their needs and wants, but often wanted it done harder or more aggressively--without having to tell me. In fact tentativeness has cost me more relationships than aggression.

The only common language with reference to sex is English (if you're dating someone who doesn't speak it, carry a "stop" sign). Use it properly and loudly at the appropriate time. Whispering in loose ears after taking fourteen months to make up your mind is not only irresponsible, it's outright criminal.

Charges like this, even when challenged and defeated in a court of law, sometimes follow the unfortunate victim (and just for the "No means no, maybe means no, and yes means no as well" crowd I mean Guy) and affect his life for years. Doubtless this would please Ernestina.

So what's his story? Guy claims that she indicated in no uncertain terms that she wanted sex. Naturally enough, he was willing to give it to her. The details would bore you. Actually, they'd titillate you, but that's not the business of this blog.

I consider myself a friend to both these parties. But the friendship is somewhat strained at present. I talk to both, but I've pretty much chosen which side I come down on.

What do I think happened? I think two innocents had sex several time. Then something in the friendship went foul. They didn't talk about it, natch, and eventually it festered into something that could destroy not just the two of them, but treasured friendships, including mine.

I blogged on this in far more general terms a few weeks back. But today Guy called me. He is strained emotionally and finds himself unable to put this unpleasantness behind him. You see, while "raped" women are allocated general support, there's no such structure for the poor schmoes facing such accusations.

He will never get the satisfaction of winning a court battle. He wanted to ask the College administration for a written public apology, they seem to have avoided responding--he'll never get that either.

The College should at least censure the female student for un-collegiate behaviour.

Meantime, she posts on her blog--at least two poems so far. She's learned enough not to include identifying detail, but she deliberately directs the attention of our peers to this material.

"She's rubbing it in my face!" He groans.

This may not be true, and I've told him to avoid the sites concerned. But if it was my itch, I'd probably scratch it too. From my own investigation, it seems to me that this is her current hobby-horse.

But now whenever Guy deals with someone in our shared profession, it will drag behind him: "Has this person read these pieces? Is that how they are seeing me?"

Nice one, Ernestina.

So why did I resurrect this, and why do I seem so angry about it? It's cos I damn well am!

In 1991 I was brought in for questioning. I thought the cops wanted to ask about drinking and driving, which I had been doing. But they wanted to know what my alibi was for a rape that had taken place at the same time that I'd been using a bank machine opposite the scene of the crime. They had my car and myself on film, and my car was the same type as the one used.

After an hour-and-a-half of questioning, one of the cops looked over his notes and asked:
"Did you say your car had a brown interior?"

Turned out they were looking for a red one, thank ₤µ€λ.

Later that same year, a friend had his career ended when a woman accused him of raping her (her third accusation that I know of, his first) after smoking some dope.

Never mind that she was almost immediately deemed to be lying. His career was ruined as soon as she mentioned pot, and she knew it would be. She just wanted to cause harm. She was never charged with anything, as far as I know. I last saw her in three thousand miles from here, claiming (would you believe falsely?) to be a lawyer.

The same damn year I took someone home at 2:00 Am--someone who knew about my friend's incident. In the midst of the proceedings, the person told me to stop. I did. The person stayed the night and shared my bed. We palled around comfortably for a week or two, then I left town for a month.

When I got home, this person cornered me outside a local bar. I remember the converstion verbatim:
"Uh. My boyfriend's mad at you."
"Huh?" (I knew there was a boyfriend at 2 AM six weeks previous. I didn't care--probably still wouldn't, in fact).
"I went to the [local police]."
"Huh? Oh God--don't tell me. . ." horrid sensation dawning. This is totally surreal. I am standing outside a bar having a casual conversation with someone who's accused me, officially, of rape. What. . .? Why. . .?

"My boyfriend found out." Ah--there's the reason.

The police took 25 hours of character witness statements. In the end, that's all that saved me. My character and the fact that the individual claimed to have screamed aloud and struggled. My neighbour below, who shared toilet facilities on that floor, was a policeman. Screaming might have been expected to arouse a certain degree of interest on his part.

But that's how close I came. That was the first of many incidents which, to quote Heinlein "Lost me my sweet girlish laughter". There have been others.

When it comes to sexual misconduct, guys are pretty straightforward: We bribe, bluster, intimidate and blackmail. Sometimes we get violent. All wrong, and mostly illegal, in one way or another.

But I have yet to hear of a man having sex with someone, and then deciding he was raped (I have that covered too, but it's none of your business), and I have yet to hear of a male sucessfully charging a woman with rape, unless he was a "child" in the legal sense and she significantly older.

Today my friend, a proud and in my experience good man, was near incoherence from pain and frustration. I have known him for exactly as long as I've known his accuser.

I'd like to consider them both friends. But in this sort of situation something usually collapses.

My other friend is sweet, and gives an appearance of great naiveté. She's so new the shine's not yet worn off in many ways--she reminds me a great deal of a girl dressed up in mummy's clothes, trying to fit into a role she hasn't yet grown big enough to fit into, and not having the patience to do so.

It breaks my heart to think I may have to lose the friendship. But Guy is hurting big time, while she appears to be doing exceptionally well, or so she claims. And hell, I've certainly lost friendships before. I'll live.

I base my allegience, if such it needs be called, on what I know of his character: As long as I've known him he's been a consistent character. No major upheavals in his life since he knocked off the sauce. A man who's been where he arrived at for twenty years or so.

This was going to grow into a bit of a rant on the contrast between preaching and practising--especially in the religious sense. But that's enough for now.

Read this quick. I'm writing it in anger at the misery of a good man, and if the tidal wave of my anger washes me up $λ!τ creek, then I reserve the right to revise history and this blog.

But there's many a true word spoken both in jest and in anger. I don't really think it'll be necessary.

Strange is your language and I have no decoder
Why don't you make your intention clear?

--Peter Gabriel I Don't Remember

Words to the wise.

25 April 2004

Good Evening

So what's on your mind?
That much, eh?

Well I'll tell you what's on mine. I have a sibling, whom I'll call Sib 2, being as Sib 2's younger than Sib 1. We had a discussion lately.

Sib 2's on the "anyone but Bush in 2004" ticket, and let me put right up front that I'm so down with that that it looks like up from here, y'know? I'm all over that like 100% grade A maple syrup on a model.

However, I'm not sure that as far as what my personal nation needs, Kerry is the ideal choice: Consider his views on trade: He's been advocating staunch protectionism to the rust belt. That is, he's telling the steelworkers that the US steel industry that they need more protection, even though the last set of measures created to achieve this was struck down by the WTO as unfair and contravening existing trade agreements.

By the way: Notice anything about these two World Trade Organization Web sites? (1) (2) A thoroughly dishonest way of putting your point across. Can you figure out the real one?*
I feel this very much undermines the sincerity of the "con" side. But since they're philosophically in with George Bush Jr anyway, how much moral credit do they have anyway?

Those measures were put in place by George Bush Jr. So apparently Kerry and he don't disagree on everything.

But Sib 2 and I began to discuss the military issue, and the fact that a late commander of Mr. Kerry's had been critical of the wound for which he received his first Purple Heart decoration, and of his fitness for the presidency. This led to a discussion of the draft.

It frightens me that the system's still in place. If a war has popular support it's necessary only as a system for getting everyone's boots and beans together, and if the war is unpopular, then surely the government has failed to make a case for it?
If the state of a nation is such that people have to be forced into uniform to fight for it, then surely it isn't worth fighting for?

"I don't care," said Sib 2 "I'm not a typical American. That war was wrong and stupid and I don't care about the draft--if my candidate had dodged the draft as a protest, then that's okay by me."

I found myself uncomfortable with this, and here are some of the whys:

(Damn! Phone call! Gotta take this--I'll be back in a minute.

Thanks for waiting. That was all about taxes. The big difference between death and taxes is that death has the decency to happen to you only once. And of course when you die you don't actually have to sign the cheque yourself.)

So we were talking of Sib 2's contention that the Vietnam War record of a presidential candidate (or in this case future president) doesn't matter, and that dodging the draft was a valid choice. I was uncomfortable with this.

First off, I am rigidly opposed to conscription. As an ex-military person I feel very much that I would rather have a blank file on my flank than somebody who's not invested in the conflict with all his heart and soul.

The draft was enacted in Canada in the First and Second World Wars partly to decide who had to fight, but mainly to provide an organizing structure to allow the maximum possible number of the enormous initial flood of volunteers who came forward (although in WWI it was also a response to dropping recruitment).

The draft was enacted in the US during Vietnam to decide what portion of a populace uninterested in fighting a foreign war would have to go and fight it so that the remainder could get on with their lives. Due to the way the draft was administered, one could duck the fighting for quite some number of years, if one chose.

These exceptions usually applied disproportionately to white middle-and-upper-class Americans. I once heard Vietnam described as Black men killing yellow men for the benefit of white men. A little stark but close enough to true.

What people forget is that Vietnam came about as a result of two political realities of the sixties: The Domino Theory and a negotiated agreement that America would defend its small ally, Vietnam, from Communist infiltration and aggression. This spoke to domino theory, which argued that if enough countries were "allowed" to go Communist in any given sphere, the rest would too.

We can laugh at that now, but we can neither deny the reality of the theory (alothough we can argue its truth, since historically this was what America perceived as happening behind the newly-erected Berlin Wall) nor that a nation should and must stand by its agreements. Once in, the US couldn't get out.

So the scene was set for a partially-willing army to go and fight for a semi-interested populace.

Bill Clinton dodged the draft essentially by being in university, specifically the ROTC. The exemption he got was a technical one, but what he did was done by thousands of other young men. It wasn't a protest.

George W. Bush joined the Texas Air National Guard after some finagling by pappy Bush, but apparently preferred to spend time doing other things--presumably some of those "youthful indiscretions" that he's now jailing young non-whites for.

Note: A Google search for "George W Bush in uniform" returned no results. . . I was surprised. Really.

John Kerry volunteered for the Vietnam war in order to get a better choice of seat, ie. one farthest from the fighting. That's why he was on river patrol boats. He apparently told people that he was, in fact, afraid he'd get drafted.

The important thing is that all of these guys tried to work around the draft. One ducked it, the other pre-empted it, and another tried to choose where and when he'd have to fight. But there's a significant difference in the levels of honesty involved.

Clinton wasn't making a political protest. George Bush II pretended to play the game, and Kerry went.

If I were an American male in my fifties, all of these actions would be significant. The reason that a candidate's war record is an important part of his character is that all of this demographic were at risk of being drafted, in theory.

Therefore what a candidate did when it came time to open that envelope is important as the measure of the sort of person he was. It also may give clues to how he'll govern in later life.

Clinton ducked the draft the way many other people did, on educational deferrment. It wasn't always easy if you didn't have a family member in high places but it could be done:

1) Get into a draft-deferred university program.
2) Get good grades and sign up for post-graduate work; that'd keep you out of the arena for about six years.
3) While at school, find and marry a schoolmate, preferably one whose father worked at any one of thousands of military contracting companies, and whose employees were draft-excluded.

By the time you'd had a couple of kids, you'd be out of the danger zone, age wise, and well on your way to your two-car garage, three kids and a dog. You were still working for victory, but you were "making your difference on the home front".

If you were eager and stupid, a true believer in the war, or cynical enough to think you'd get grabbed anyway, you could volunteer for service. If you got in early enough and showed a good aptitude for typing you could wind up doing clerical work stateside or in Okinawa, instead of getting your collective shot off in an unfriendly jungle.

If you had the clout, you could engineer a position in the National Guard (some people might see this a queue-jumping, or course). Of course if you took it seriously you might wind up fighting anyway, so best not to, really. Some Air Guard members flew bombers over Hanoi on weekends, then flew home to their weekday jobs. GWB doesn't seem to have done that, either.

And there lies the rub. Each of these people dodged the draft in a different way. Clinton wasn't making some sort of protest statement. Kerry sure wasn't, and Bush? Well, he seemed to be in favour of other folks fighting wars in his name.

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

The reason this is a valid concern is that Clinton and Bush have both sent people to kill and die in the name of their nation, and Kerry will likely have to do it too. I mean, even Jimmy Carter had to put American asses on the fighting line.

The difference is that Clinton seems to have done it reluctantly, and in the smallest possible numbers. Bush has done it enthusiastically, nay, with abandon. If I were a US soldier I'd feel pretty ill-used. Kerry? Well at least he's seen the cost firsthand.

If I were a voter who had spent a few years of my life worried sick about a government envelope turning up at my door, I wonder which of these fine gentlemen I'd respect more?

Bush's hypocrisy shows all over the map, but nowhere more than as a "War President." Clinton was also hypocritical--but only in the way that young men are hypocrites once they hit the age of thirty and up. Like Kerry, he was no more hypocritical than many of his generation.

But neither of the last two has asked this of over 800 US soldiers.

Do the math.

* By the way, that WTO site thing? Look for the one that doesn't feature a timetable for disbanding itself...
Stupid dishonesty or dishonest stupidity? You decide.

22 April 2004

Baiting a Murphy Trap

Hiya Kids, Hiya, Hiya!

Or to quote the Dame: "Heloooooooooooo there!"

Today, some words about Murphy (the optimist).

We all know that "Anything that can go wrong will, and usually at the worst possible moment." It's been around awhile.

It's simply not true. For example, the Sun has yet to go nova, thus spoiling my plans for a slightly underworked and massively overpaid career in professional writing. In fact I would say that this would be a particularly awkward moment for my landlady to come and collect the rent, then for the carpet to catch fire as I sit here blogging, wearing nothing but a. . .what was that again, Christian?

But it hasn't happened.

Everybody bitches about Murphy's Laws and their effects. These people simply haven't learned to put Murphy to work (that's okay kiddies, Mrs. Murphy feels the same way).

The SO has. Recently desirous of a new job, SO applies for a dream job while still employed. After some time passes without word, SO decides to accept additional responsibilities to go with the current ones by accepting presidency of the union representing the current workplace.

Of course as soon as that's settled, up comes the application into some HR director's inbox, and boom! Interview time.

Of course SO now has a problem: Impossible to work both jobs, so how to deal with this? Simple: If SO wanted to stay at current job, would the application have been filled out in in the first place?

Of course not. On the other hand, if SO had nothing else on the plate to keep busy with, then would they have called for an interview?

Doubt it.

It's only when we get on with our lives that stuff really starts to happen. This is also known as "It never rains but it pours" (that link is specifically for those reading this blog from Singapore).

Conclusion? What am I doing here? I got stuff to do!

Gotta go, boss.

Oh--read this from Dame E.. It's hilarious.

19 April 2004

I hate self-absorption

  • A quick clarification for last post:
    When I pay out money, I expect to receive something for that investment. This is true even of my taxes, which go to the benefit (so I hope and believe to the limits of rationality) of the society I live in. That is, my money is exchanged for things that benefit myself, my country (as in the support of cradle-to-grave social security, a cause I believe in fervently) or the world at large (such as development investments abroad or government charitable partnerships).

    This is why I claim the right to "pirate" music. When I purchase blank CDs (do they impose this tax on tapes as well? Ah.) I am charged a hefty chunk of money--think of it. Do you think Canadians will buy 1 million blank CDs this year? If so, then that's $210,000. Where's that going?

    More importantly--what am I receiving for my investment? My theory is that since I am being charged this money to recoup the losses supposedly entailed by the music industry by the growth of digital downloads, then what I'm really buying is a sort of user license. Therefore I feel free to use.

    In fact, what we're paying for is the failure of the music recording industry to take advantage of the digital revolution in music. If the music companies had embraced the technology and participated in the distribution of digital versions of copyrighted tracks, they could have made as much as they get out of radio play while saving a ton on packaging. They could have been the good guys.

    They'd also have had reasonalble moral authority to do this.

    As it is, they are usually displaying meanness and pettiness more than anything else, and the blank media levy is simply tangible proof.

    Do you think they'll toss the levy once outfits like Puretracks etc. start making them serious coin? Of course they will--their goodness and generosity know no bounds.

    Oops. Sorry--that's these people.

  • Here's the self-absorbed stuff

    Before you read on, I'd like you to understand that I usually loathe people whining about diets, health, and related matters.

    It's petty and short-sighted. Your health is of concern primarily to you, the individual. Only you can be responsible for it, and while I'm glad to hear you're in good health, don't waste my time describing what treatment, fad diet, or surgery you've recently undergone unless I ask, please.

    So I ask for no sympathy as I delve into my own health problems. Besides, my problems, just like my children, are far more interesting than yours. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin.

    I'm part of the "epidemic". I'm fat--not "big", not "big-boned"; Fat. I'm carrying something approaching 235lbs (107 Kg) on a six-foot (185 Cm) frame. Much of this is abdominal fat.

    Some of this fat is heredity--I got it from my folks.
  • My dad was almost brained with a large pot by my mother when he announced that he'd gained five pounds over the past year. Mum's been on one diet or another since she was 26 or so.

  • Some of this is beer, and I have fond memories of building the portion of fat concerned.

    But most of it is food and idleness.

    And at the age of mumble-mumble, there's a pressing need to devote some time to the maintenance of my health in order to:
    1) Avoid an early and unsatisfying death.
    2) Be a good citizen and avoid draining the socialized health care system I so believe in.

    Being overweight is a bad thing. The question is how to ditch it?

    I've noticed through the years that I lose fat best when working. Evolutionarily this makes sense to me. My ancestors and probably yours, but almost certainly not his were hard-working people. They wrung their living from the earth with the sweat of their collective brows. This meant being able to hew wood and draw water all damn day long.

    While touring Oz, I walked, not ran, most places. Sometimes spent whole days walking. In my last truly physical job, I lifted garbage cans all day. On that job I lost twenty pounds in under three months.

    The problem is that there are only so many of these jobs to go around, not to mention that I don't really want to make my living by hard, dirty, underpaid and dangerous labour anymore--and if you don't believe garbage is hard dirty, underpaid and dangerous I suggest you try it for a summer--go with a private company, not a city crew--they've got unions.

    So what to do what to do what to do?
    The answer, from a broad perspective, is simple: Eat less, exercise more.

    To this end I've started running--irregularly but hard. Period.

    Eating habits? Uh. . .

    I have yet to determine what to do about eating. I suspect the "nothing after six rule" will help, as I tend to retire with a good book and snack at night.
    Of course not everyone agrees.

    That last is one major reason I hate hearing about peoples current fads in health. There is usually little agreement on anything among self-styled "experts". One person swears by Atkins, another by South Beach. And next week they'll be delving into "forgotten secrets of our ancestors". Really, if our ancestors had it so good, why was infant mortality so disgustingly high?

    Of course, some people are getting ready to remedy that. They'd be much more credible, in my opinion, if they actually announced their agenda on that page, but as far as nutjob sites go, it's not too bad--even reasoned in some places.

    Lately one of their pet cause has been related to this. But here's a fairly reasoned perspective.

    Point is, that historically, in all the time since we've been looking at fat from a health perspective, only one thing has been proven to work:

    Eat less, exercie more. Simple, yah?

    That's all I can stand of blogging on this. It's gonna continue to be an issue, but it's my issue. Sorry for putting you through this.

    And no, I'm not interested in your surgery. Cool!

    14 April 2004

    Music and Work

    Okay, so I'm being forced to reconsider my position on music "file sharing"--otherwise known as piracy.

    First, let's just say that the whole "find, promote, record and sell" star system is dangerous. It results in things like this. And this.

    Occasionally groups manage to dodge around the system, although that's increasingly rare. But some groups also break free from their corporate fetters and become genuine musical groups in their own right. That group started out working for Pepsi, too.

    But in the current star system, established acts are paid hugely to produce pap: Witness these guys. They ran out of good original material with this album, and everything since has been derivative and generally sub-par. But as one of the most ancient groups with all members surviving, they've achived a certain "Godfather" status. They still make a bomb (oops--sorry Mr. Ashcroft).

    As far as I can discern, what this leads to is a culture where the truly new and interesting has to fight until it becomes established. Then it has about a year of life until it gets co-opted.

    Canadian groups, frequently unable to claw their way into the much bigger US market, often display a refreshing unconcern for commercial success, and hang onto their market by consistently producing good stuff. This guy was in the music business for twenty-five years and more before he "broke the border". Although I much preferred his work with this outfit, I still watch his site for his charity and humility--he's a good man.

    These guys never worried too much about their sales in the south, while this group never really recognized any difference--witness that particular article.

    But as far as online "piracy" is concerned, well it's like this:

    Sometime around the time Napster got started, I remember hearing a discussion on music piracy with Steve Tyler and Joe Perry. The quote I remember is from Tyler:

    "What no-one seems to have considered is that two guys sat around one day and one of 'em said 'Hey, let's make a service that lets people pass music around!', and that at some point someone must have said: 'Wait a minute--isn't that stuff copyrighted?'. And at that point, somebody said 'Screw 'em'. "

    I was quite sympahetic. After all, I've got copyrighted stuff online myself. But then this happened:

    Two weeks ago I had to prepare twenty-five CD's of my work for display and promotional purposes. The stated price on the spindle of CD's was around $13.00. At the till, however, I was told that because of the "Blank CD tax" (also called the Blank Media Levy) of 21¢ per disc, I actually was faced with paying around $19.00. That is, I was taxed $5.25 on a $12 purchase. Add in the 14.5% sales tax and that comes to quite a sum (I don't yet know if the levy is included in the taxed price, but come on--what government wouldn't?).

    If I buy an ordinary CD for $10.95, how much goes to the band? I don't know, and I no longer care. This CD fee goes straight into political pockets, and those of recording industry moguls. The bands whose material is stolen don't get anything anyway.

    So here's my little message to the Music Recording Industry. Arr!* Avast ye swabs. I hereby declare my intention to filch and pillage music howesomeever I see fit. Yo, Hetfield! Here's to you! And remember, guys--you helped make this possible by endorsing the blank media fee in the first place.

  • While you're wasting your precious time anyway, check here for an interesting disclaimer note. The "missing" words people have been bitching about are "under God". Note that the letter of explanation also totally fails to mention those two words.

  • Of course neither did this until the mid-fifties, when McCarthy reigned.

  • A good article about that same document, along with the reasons for its subversion.

  • * Here's where that came from.

  • 11 April 2004

    Shoes and Jesus

    So how's it going?

    Sorry? I didn't quite catch that.

    Well if you're going to be unco-operative perhaps you'll let me make a point or two here.

  • Shoes

  • Everybody should have at least one pair of uncomfortable shoes. Also, service is worth something. This I have decided as a result of my experience a couple of days ago.

    My local cheap-mart was offering a really good deal: Buy one pair of trainers (not just knockoff brands but Wilsons, Spalding, etc.) and get the second half-price. Since the original price for these is around $30.00, it translates to two pairs of reasonable-quality shoes for a mere $22.50 each. Okay, no problem.

    Problem: When I went to the store, no-one ever approached to ask "Can I help you, sir?" or even "Helpya?" On one of the four occasions when I visited, I met a. . .a. . .what exactly? A serviceperson? She listened politely while I asked if I could get my feet measured, and she responded by handing me the gadget with which to do this, then went on her way.

    I have slightly odd feet. Nothing unusual but I take an 11-to-11-and-a-half "E" width. So fit is important to me. After this encounter, I went home. That store lost $45 that day. Perhaps not sufficient in the greater scheme of things to drive them to bankruptcy--but am I the only one?

    A day or two later, on my way to meet my Mum downtown, I found myself having to wear my hurtin' shoes. While downtown I stopped in at this favoured retail chain. At nine-thirty AM the only shop assistant in the entire shoe department stopped getting ready to open the store to come help me find a pair of shoes. She measured my feet and not only found me two pairs in different styles that fit, but that were on sale. The bill still came to $80-odd, but well worth it.

    The lesson is, I suppose, that I don't insist on being waited on hand and foot (not that I don't appreciate that too) but if you treat me as though I weren't there, then I won't be.

  • Today is Easter.

  • So here are some Jesus boots. This ties back into the shoe thing:

    Subsequent to my shoe-purchasing adventure I went to the S.O.'s house. There I had only a pair of sneakers. This left me in a quandary. As a semi-partially-sorta-Catholic, on occasion, Easter is one of those days when I feel compelled to find a church.

    But due to bad planning, I had at the S.O.'s only two types of clothing: The jeans-and-cheap-(cheap,cheap, cheap)-shirt combo I'd helped paint the place in, and a suit I'd worn to an event a few nights prior.

    So I had a choice:
    1) Attend wearing paint clothes and sneaks

    2) Attend church in suit with sneaks

    3) Flush the guilt from my mind and realize that if God had wanted me in church he'd have A) woken me up earlier and B) made certain I had appropriate clothing handy.

    So as it is, I'm swilling coffee and blogging in a desperate attempt to avoid being dragooned into helping the S.O. re-organize the library.

    Perhaps I should have gone to church. . .

  • This is kinda interesting.

  • An interestingly visual blog.

  • 06 April 2004

    "Hi Kids! Hiya, Hiya, Hiya!"

    --From the original anarchist of the fifties. He appeared here., and was famous for causing mayhem using only the power of persuasion:

    "And then you put it in your hair, you do, you do."
    --Froggy the Gremiln to Chef Pasta Fazool, of spaghetti.

    Of course there's no-one like him out there today. We prefer something either mindless, violent, and formulaic, or emphatically mindless, non-violent, and formulaic. This is because, deep down inside, we want our kids to be quiet, slightly simple people,who will happily stare at the box and never wonder what makes the pretty pictures.

    I want an instigator! I want someone to offer kids challenges, moral quandaries without straight-arrow answers.

    When was the last kids show where someone important died? Probably this one. Not co-incidentally, this film had a direct lesson for about the uses and abuses of power. But in the marketing frenzy which has since spawned at least two sequels and a pre-sequel, the message has been lost in favour of selling junk to kids.

    On a related note, I recently read a badly-written and inaccurate critique of an online story in a place I occasionally visit. The person writing the critique apparently hadn't read the story, as they lambasted the author for creating a sexual relationship between a 17-year-old and a 23-year-old. In the first place, the girl was 18. In the second place--what was wrong with that anyway?

    If it's okay for a 17-year-old girl to have sex with a 17-year-old guy, what difference does it make when the guy's 23? We assume there's some sort of maturity gap. That at 17 a woman can't make her own decisions about who she wants to take to bed. Yet at 18 she can?

    My opinion.

    Besides, there's the usual question of how to stop them. Perhaps we should move back to this time-tested method.

    My point is that the so-called "age of consent" is a legal fiction. It's also biased as hell. It was designed to "protect" young women against the depradations of old men. That's fine as far as it goes. But I have yet to hear of a sixteen-year-old-boy actually objecting to sex with an older woman. Caertainly not at the time it happened.

    (A dissenting view on one of those instances.)

    The difference is that if the boy woke up a few days later and decided he'd been raped, there would be serious questions posed--to the boy. Whereas a girl has a better chance of being taken seriously.

    Still, for this reason, it's a good idea to have a mandated age of consent. Canada seems to have a good grasp of this. The legal fiction is 14. But provisions of the criminal code make it illegal for an "adult" (somebody defined as being 18 years old) to mess with anyone in that 14-18 range. I think it's a good idea. The rule is clear: Don't ₤µ¢Ж people under 18.

    But this too gives problems. When I was 19, I greatly enjoyed the company of 18-year-olds. No, of course I didn't ₤µ¢Ж any of them--to admit to that would be to admit to a criminal act, it seems. So I won't.

    We need to think about a range. Is it reasonable to say that 18 year-olds shouldn't be having sex with 16-year-olds? Perhaps, but I'm not sure. Why not simply say that:

    a) The age of consent is fourteen.
    b) Persons more than two years older than their partner are committing a sexual offence unless both are over nineteen.

    But there's an odd campaign at work to raise the age of consent. It won't do any good, and people will still have "under-age" sex. But it'll make some mother hubbards and well-meaning fools feel righteous.

    Not that evangelicals are necessarily fools, but bear in mind this contradiction: Many people who support raising the age of consent oppose sex education. If this is allowed to stand, then we face generations of adults who arrive at sexual maturity unequipped to deal with the responsibilities it conveys.

    In the seventies and eighties, the Fraser Valley was known as the Bible Belt. It also was one of the first places to introduce daycare into high schools. Co-incidence?

    There's no age limit on prudery, nor on well-meaning idiocy. Perhaps if we offered kids more examples of difficult choices and of moral courage (even the courage to be an idiot in the face of the facts is in its own way noble) at a younger age instead of padding the corners of their world they'd make right decisions. Not "the" right decisions.

    Because there often aren't any.

    03 April 2004

    Oh my screaming J!

    I'm still searching for my ass, which I laughed off.

    What's really interesting about !this is that after you've read it for half-an-hour, you suddenly realise that it's fascinating, but that there's a hell of a lot more of it.

    Jut had to toss that out there.