Sunday, April 29, 2007

Paranoia about feeds

Hmm. Beleaguered at work these days and not inclined to write too much. Also not inclined to get around too much, but like to keep tabs on things occasionally. Something did catch my attention today on my comment feed (well two things, really, though the first one was just a curiosity thing – on the aggregator I use, you can’t tell who is saying what to whom). I clicked out off of the aggregated feed and the person owning the blog I was visiting wrote a lengthy post referring (in an unhappy way) to my visit. I wrote a long response, but he’s since packed up all his toys and gone home, I guess.

I’m not inclined to get into it too much unless he wants to discuss things here. So dude, the floor is yours if you want it (if you visit here)*.

In the mean time, (another) word about feebite: it’s an aggregator. You can use it in handy ways if you want to feed comments or posts from one place to another (for example, on wiki it’s used to aggregate comments from various contributor blogs onto a dummy blog, and then that’s fed back to wiki’s front page). Here, I’m using it if anyone wants to leave a comment on one of my posts and not have it show up on wiki (it also, FYI, has the advantage of having truly anonymous comments – no IP logging to match comments to). So far, nobody’s chosen to use it but me. (I’m thinking I’ll keep it there anyway, however, since Feedbite actually started allowing anonymous comments in response to something I’d said.).

If aggregators bother you, then you can easily toggle your feeds to the “off” position (Go to the “settings” section of your blog and hit the “site feed” tab). If you don’t like people reading what you’re saying without being able to see them (on an IP logger) but are ok if someone wants to include you in an aggregator (which is handy, if you don’t want to bother running off to check everybody’s blog individually to see if they’re saying anything), you can choose “short” feeds (first couple of lines). Then, people can there’s action, but to read the entire comment or post they have to click to your blog and you’ll see who’s reading. A number of wiki contributors have done this.

If people reading what you’re writing bothers you on this public and eminently accessible internet, then I don’t know what to tell you. It does make me wonder what it is you think you’re up to when you’re blogging, however.

Beyond that, I dunno what to say. If people want to be “sneaky” (and some do), they use an anonymous IP portal**. If I were inclined to be “sneaky”, then I wouldn’t bother clicking to someone’s page through the aggregated feed. I did “hide” it awhile back, though, when I found out (actually, someone else found out) they’re accessible through search engines. Now the feed is not. I am aware, however, that “hiding” doesn’t mean making something inaccessible (can be backtracked through the referring link).

All the above aside, relationships formed through online interaction are certainly interesting, no? So easy to take offense (and give it), when you’re not looking at the person you’re interacting with. This is the third time someone has reacted vehemently to having their blog on my (now hidden, accessed by no-one but me unless backtracked to) feedbite aggregator.

Is it paranoia, ignorance, or are feeds really offensive in some way I can’t fathom?

I’m inclined to write more about online relationships at some point, but only when I get a little more time. In the mean time, I kind’ve hope people have me on comment feed and will see I’ve posted. Otherwise, pretty much the only people visiting here are coming off a google image search (“Caribbean sunset”, if you’re curious), and I’m just muttering to myself. Again.

*Or email me and I’ll send it to you. [I’m one of those people who keep their email address accessible through their profile, you know?]

**Funny, those – even they can give some hints about the person visiting. For example, language can be listed “English, US” or “English, UK”. I was getting a lot of those latter ones for awhile, but they’ve dropped right off, which either means whomever was using it stopped visiting or they’re using an aggregator of their own (not like I really care).

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Kilgore Trout, R.I.P.

There are few human beings that make me proud to be a member of the same species. The foremost among them died today.

Kurt Vonnegut is in heaven now*, and the world is a little sadder, and darker, and things make a little less sense.

*If you don't know the quote, don't bother telling me about his humanism/atheism.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Welcome to the machine, son.

My son (18) sent me a text from work today (target, pronounced "Tarzhay" for all you plebes):

Hope coffee with [my friend, in town fr. Southern Utah] went well, just on lunch. So damn sick of easter crap lol. Sold one of those scam credit cards today, managers seem pleased.

My son discovered the interest rate on those credit cards the other day - he was genuinely shocked (which made me feel all optimistic about his future financial well-being).

My reply:

Coffee was great. Glad to hear your evil corporate masters are pleased with your participation in the commercial blasphemy of this pagan, er, Christian holiday. Does Walmart have a credit card? [Bwaahahahahaaa!]

All hail the machine!
y-chromosome donor parental unit

I'm also starting to get all hopeful about the odds he'll attend (and graduate) college next year - only college students and graduates get to make jokes about evil American corporate empires and laugh without sounding rueful. [Crossing my fingers, as I type with one hand]

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Mmmmmm - Fuzzy Gams.

This post initially written as a reponse to this post on the incomparable DawnCoyote's blog, but since it's considered rude to post a multipage comment, I thought I'd shuffle it over here and link to it instead. Her post was actually a followup to this thread on Wikifray (dizzy yet?).

Anyhoo, here 'tis.

When I was in high school, I dated a girl for a while who was a little hirsute. Her cheeks were covered in peach fuzz (not whiskers), and I found the idea of all those follicles, with the sensitivity to touch their presence implied, undeniably hot. She didn’t appreciate it at all when I mentioned my appreciation to her. What a lost opportunity! She’s probably availed herself of the laser by now, and she may never know what she was missing. [I’ve a friend who is transgendered. She talked once about the impact hormone therapy exerted on tactile sensation. She said her entire skin had turned into a giant sex organ.]

All those follicles, all that promise, unacknowledged – suppressed in a shame response dictated by internalization of sexist ideals that, from where I was coming from, didn’t even begin to make sense. What a shame - we could’ve had such fun! She was a Pentecostal, which was a rare bird in Provo Utah in the early eighties. I went to church with her, a couple of times. It was, uhm, enlightening.

Acknowledged ambivalence is a sign of psychological maturity, dear. Confidence either means you’ve thought things through enough you were able to reconcile it comfortably, or you’ve refused to think about it, and you can confidently play out your feelings of ambivalence over time – flip-flopping on issues, rather than maintaining a nuanced impression that has simultaneous desirable and undesirable qualities. Moral conviction is a form of confidence; God save me from morally resolute deniers.

Reading the blamers IS uncomfortable, especially for us penis-wielding types. Reading through that thread, there are some uncomfortable points well made. Though I have made the argument that sexism impacts men as well as women, one commenter notes the implications of such impact are on the order of inconvenience, versus raping/killing, etc. While I might be inclined to argue there’s an underestimation of impact there (thinking about the venerable manly tradition of honorable placement in dangerous situations, such as military service), I must say that in most circumstances, the point is apt.

It seems that the radical feminists only concern themselves with one part of what, for most, is actually a two-part argument. In addition to recognizing and discussing remedies for the various ways in which women are subjugated and objectified, there’s the question about what you, yourself are going to do about it (I think the radfem position is that answer to the second question is identical to the first). So, a woman who was objectified and disempowered, but who has learned to wield the power ceded by men in the course of that objectification, has more to give up than your run-of-the-mill hirsute, uncomely lesbian. Attractive women then get it from both sides – objectified and shamed because of the power they hold (though really given) over men, and shamed for availing themselves of that power. It’s a no-win for the “hot babes” of the world. What a blessing to be born in a physically awkward, esthetically unpleasant and sexually repugnant body! It adds a certain clean simplicity to your life, and you never have to question whether or not the person you’re with is with you for your looks, or “who you are.”

There is something about the blamers that bothers me, though, and it’s the same thing that turns the feminism/attractiveness thing into a no-winner for someone who is both desirable and progressively thoughtful. When you quit with the boy/girl game playing – quit wearing makeup, fixing your hair, dressing provocatively etc., the central theme in your life continued to be the manner in which men looked at you/treated you. It’s the flip side of the same coin – avoidance vs. embracing. But that continues to be a morally inferior position, in the same way that teetotalers continue to be vulnerable to alcohol, or preachers vulnerable to immoral behavior. By continuing to rail against the patriarchy, the blamers continue to reinforce the concept of a patriarchy. We’ll know we’ve gotten past this, as a culture, when the idea of a patriarchy no longer makes sense - just like you’ll know you’ve gotten past the sexism thing when you make decisions about your manner of dress, or behavior, with complete disregard for the behavior of others.

Your description of the man looking at you is telling. This guy wasn’t content with esthetic appreciation, it was a dominance move – he wanted you to know. So that really is a violation, albeit a subtle one. Guys are well aware they are doing this (and actually do something similar in spirit to other guys, though the message in that case is threat/dominance). Responding to that gaze with returned hunger, or anger, fear or disgust feeds the intent behind it – a sexualized dominance move. What does one do about such a provocation? I don’t know the answer, unless it is to remain indifferent. It strikes me that indifference is the proof you’ve either not internalized the gaze, or you’ve grown past that internalization. Confidence means you no longer have to feel threatened.

[Maybe martial arts classes?]

But all that being said, there’s no denying the appeal of the objectification – the appeal of the power in an involuntary response, reinforcing the idea that I am so potent/hot, that people cannot help but respond to me: the appeal of being able to avoid vulnerability while in an intimate position. There is a slavering, hungering part of me that would like to see you squirming like a bug on a pin, overwhelmed by the intensity of your arousal as you sit looking at porn, or thinking of me – objectifying me in the same manner I might want to objectify you. Is this my inner-misogynist rearing his ugly, Neanderthal-like head? Or is this merely my limbic system reminding me of the undeniable procreative imperative, for the moment circumventing the modulating effect of my cortex and jolting me with the raw energy of promised biological satiation?

Hard to say, though denying that this aspect of your post is hot hardly seems like a solution to me. Denial is not liberating. Denial is a conscious abdication, in the face of overwhelming challenge; If denial is what the blamers advocate, then they have also become part of the problem. We’ll recognize the viability of a solution when acceptance of a mindset means the problem no longer makes sense.

I think the blamers are also invested in the Patriarchy. Railing against it gives them power – a power they’d lose if the patriarchy vanished. I don’t think they want to give up their titillating rebellion, any more than many Christians want to give up on Evil – evil can create or intensify so much fun! Part of the intense charge in “progressive” sex is the idea that you’re engaging in something that might be considered shameful. The intensity of the moment when the minister yields to the wiles of the vixen parishioner far surpasses the intensity of (perhaps stale) marital conjugation – now imagine the intensity of you add sodomy to the menu! I’m afraid to speculate what the analogue might be in the community of blamers (or at least afraid to voice my speculations – insert tacky porn soundtrack here).

Christian erotica, eh? I’m glad there are Christians able to acknowledge the virtues of tingly body parts. I’m sort of fond of Christians, and some of what they say makes sense. ”By their fruits ye shall know them” is one that strikes me as helpful, from time to time. One of the fruits of the patriarchy is the forbidden one – an idea that’s provided at least as much titillation and entertainment as shame. But the fruits of the patriarchy are too-often bitter. The fruits of the blamers - arguments like eliminating men from humanity - strike me as fruit both sour and foul. Objectification indeed.

Embracing the tactics of ones opponent is hardly consistent with the pursuit of a morally superior position.

Bondage gear?

PS. If I get aroused when I see the brilliance of someone’s mind, or am taken with the eloquence of their poetry or prose, am I objectifying them? Not like I’m going to make a conscious effort to avoid any sexualized appreciation, or anything – just curious about your thoughts.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Anonymous Commenting on FeedBite!

So I got an anonymous comment on my last post stating they would add an option for anonymous commenting on Feedbite. I said I'd stick with it, so long as they added that feature and did not require registration.

And they did!

How often do you get responsiveness like that?

So, the feature stays - use it to make comments that don't appear on Wikifray, or content yourself with the knowledge you could, if you wanted to.

How could I remove the feature after that stunning display of client service?