Friday, March 30, 2007

I've moved to Wordpress

Wordpress just offered too many neat features to pass it up. So go here.

See ya on the flip side.

The PG-13 funny for the day

A student went to the campus health center to complain about an unusual rash. The clinic doctor asked about the rash's nature. Sheepishly, the woman unbuttoned her shirt to show that her rash was in the shape of a large "O" on her chest. The doctor asked if she knew where it might have come from. "Well," the student admitted sheepishly, "I just got a new boyfriend who wears his University of Ohio letter jacket while we're making love." The doctor suggested that she insist he remove his jacket in the future.

The next day another student came in (also female) and complained about an odd rash. When the doctor asked to look at it, she pulled her sweatshirt off to reveal a rash in the shape of a capital letter "T". "How did this happen?" the doctor asked, suspecting the answer. "Well, my boyfriend just lettered in track at Texas, and he likes to wear his jacket while we have sex." The doctor told her to lose the jacket next time.

Two days later another female student came, also complaining of a rash. The doctor asked to see it, and removal of her blouse revealed a large, angry-looking "W". "Don't tell me. Your significant other goes to Wisconsin and likes to bed you while he's wearing his letter jacket."

The student looked him straight in the eye and said, "You're almost right. She goes to Minnesota."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Moral stories

I'm spending the rest of my life looking for moral stories.

It all started with a project for my children when they were little. I would point out stories and gentle lessons in rational moral behavior, very much unlike most parents, who look for such lessons that are based on religious belief or "proper" behavior. I spent a lot of time trying to teach my kids how to do things like how to show adults the respect society demands while remembering that there are as many foolish adults as there are foolish children (and possibly more).

The trick was to teach the morality without getting preachy about it. This demanded that I toe the line on the rules I fed to them--not always an easy thing, as they reminded me occasionally. There is no more powerful a medicine than having your young daughter say, "You said that wasn't the right thing to do."

As a result, my kids grew up with more mouth than they probably ought to have had. However, I remind myself that I'd rather have a child with too much mouth than one with not enough.

As the kids got older, I continued to search for and collect those stories. Zen koans, the better folk- and fairy-tales, movies, literature, clever aphorisms--you name it, I scribble it down, or cut-and-paste it to a text file. I've got a great pile of little paper slips that I work through periodically to get everything in one place.

An example which I have put on a plaque on my desk:
"Never be ashamed to say what you're not ashamed to think"--Mark Twain

Sunday, March 18, 2007

That's it!

Most questions have painfully obvious solutions, once you know what they are. Any student of calculus can tell you that.

I had an answer to one of my Most Pressing Questions handed to me on a silk-embroidered pillow today from Hedonistic Pleasureseeker's blog, and of course it is an obvious answer. This particular Pressing Question was

How can I personally reconcile belief in feminist thought with my appreciation of the female body?

And her answer was

Male objectification of the female body is only a problem when it’s degrading in nature.

Neat and elegant. Yeah, I know, I know--it may have been obvious to you, but it wasn't that neatly stated in my mind. The obverse is true, although the societal dynamics behind female objectification of the male body seem very different within the context of our Patriarchy.

Now there are other questions that arise because of this, but those will be (I suspect) relatively easy to ferret out. Thank you, HPS. This is a greater help to me than you will ever know.

The above image is an HPS self-portait. She is wearing vintage lingerie and drinking her own recipe for pear martinis. I find it deplorable that current conditions dictate she exclude her face from her photography as a measure of safety. As a (reluctant) citizen of the Patriarchy, I applaud her caution. And as a great fan of Irish whiskey, I find the thought of pear martinis...disturbing.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Remember how much fun the Web used to be

...finding those wonderfully odd things that people would put upon web sites. (Anyone remember that the first webcam looked at a coffeepot in a lab in England?)

Of course, when the internet culture started its exponential growth, the noise also increased exponentially. Unfortunately, the signal did not; Sturgeon's Law took firm hold.

They say "you can't go home again". In my life the last two years I've proved that to be not quite true. It should be rephrased as "You can go home again. You can't stay long, but you can go home."

There is a browser addon called StumbleUpon (downloadable as an add-on from that brings the best of the web to you. You install it, and you get taken to a page where you pick from a list of interests of general interest. You get a Stumble! toolbar, and when you press the Stumble! button, it takes you to...

...some pretty damned interesting websites that are associated with your preferred topics. You vote thumbs up or thumbs down on what you get, and you can then move on to the next site. If you vote regularly, you'll occasionally get additional lists of interests to narrow down particular topics.

After a couple of days of use, you'll get an email pointing at a very similar process for online video. I've been at Stumble Video for a good chunk of today, looking at dozens of videos, and there's yet to be a dull one. (I did thumbs down a couple because they were lackluster.) This one, entitled "BMG Venus Hum" is one of the most visually stunning music videos I've ever seen; I wish the fidelity had been greater.

The only gotcha is that it doesn't run on Internet Explorer; you have to use Mozilla, Firefox, or SeaMonkey.

Not entirely without coincidence

So as I start the plunge back into the single social life after 20 years of...well, not, and since I have started hearing the slow, ponderous tick of the Mortality Clock, I've decided that several things in my life must change. One of them starts after lunch today.

I bought a membership at the local YMCA, and I'm starting a concerted effort to get fit. Or at least more fit than I am now, which is not a staggering leap.

I was down to within 20 pounds of my college weight some six months ago, but I've added 30 pounds since then. Add that I have very little wind left, and that I want to give the outer packaging a little facelift, and it all added up to needing more than just a walk in the evenings.

So I'm off to great steaming piles of mindless gerbil activity (a lot of running to get nowhere) and sweating to a highly uncomfortable degree. Ah, the price we pay for wanting Pearson's Nut Goodies on a regular basis.

If I'm not back in a week, someone send a search party.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


(This is a fairly accurate rerun of a blog entry I wrote eight months ago or so, in another blog, and in another lifetime.)

I just spent the weekend with an old college friend of mine, and she inadvertently reminded me of something I had forgotten over the last 20 years:

All women are beautiful.

There is something about the female form and presence that to my senses can only be described as beautiful. Some women are thin, some are fat, some have soft roundness, some don't. All are different, and all are wonderful, from the burlesque dancer to the laundry matron to the sorority sister to the mother in the park with her children to the neighborhood lesbians who walk hand-in-hand to the market.

Like everything else in this world, some are more beautiful than others. But all of you are beautiful, ladies. All of you. Every last one. Never, never doubt that.

For those who are curious, the picture is of August Rodin's Caryatid Fallen Under Her Stone. Rodin was the last great sculptor to appear in western art, and I smile and tear up every time I see this piece. She's a lovely exercise in the female form, as twisted and distorted as her pose is. She's also a breathtakingly artistic piece of morality; she portrays all those who shoulder their load no matter how difficult or heavy it may be.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Torn and bleeding, NGS-style

I've suffered from Nice Guy Syndrome as far back as I can remember.

You've seen the type--the fellow that lives by the tenet "go along to get along". It's a tremendous asset to have--when you're a diplomat, or a therapist. It's a crippling pain in the frontal lobe if you're just another human being.

Why? You can't stand disappointing anyone, and I mean anyone. This includes but is not limited to your roommate(s), the sack girl at the grocery store, your boss, your subordinate, your soon-to-be ex-wife. As I said, anyone.

For those of you who don't suffer from NGS, you might think, "Hey, I wouldn't mind having a bit more of a pleasing personality." Believe me, you want to stay way the hell away from this one. Not only is bad news hard to delivery, it's damned near impossible. You find yourself lying needlessly, just to avoid delivering bad news, when it would be so much easier and less painful to spill the truth.

I've got a bad case of NGS raging right now over a specific issue--feminism and my enjoyment of the female body. Like most all het men, I love to see female flesh. It doesn't have to be in a sexual mode--I just like it. On the other hand, I get the bad feeling that many of the feminists whose online work I really admire would frown upon such indulgences. Hence, the problem.

I feel like Binkley from the old Bloom Country comic strip. He's gotta live his own life, but he's nearly neurotic over the worry that he's going to disappoint those he cares about...

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Dating in the New World, Part One

I've given a lot of thought about dating again.

Dating in my old-fashioned southern gentleman (OFSG) days was easy. You did all the driving. You paid for everything. You opened all the doors, dropped the cloak onto every mud puddle, and you did everything to make her as comfortable and non-troubled as possible.

Hooo, boy, things seem to have gotten complicated since those days.

But, after a while I realized that they haven't. Rather than find what many seek as a happy medium ("I'll respect her and pay for dinner"), I just have to ditch the old rules completely and find a set that 1) works for me, and 2) treats my date as a person on equal footing and respect as myself.

Ah, the hard, theoretical work is done! Dating will be easy.

[cue the sound of hollow laughter in the background]

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Feminist readings

For those of you seeking to understand feminist thought from the dead-tree perspective, I can recommend a few places to start. (I understand that there is a tiny percentage of the work out there, but I can't recommend something I haven't read, and I haven't read that much yet.)

Some of these books I have found particularly helpful:

The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
The Dialectic of Sex by Shulamith Firestone (warning: for advanced students)
The Female Eunuch by Germaine Greer
most anything by Gloria Steinem (I particularly like her writing style)
The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir

I've not actually finished de Beauvoir's work, but this book comes up so often in discussions about the subject (almost always positively) that I feel it ought to be here.

For those of you seeking to understand feminist thought from the online perspective, here are some places to start:
Bitch, Ph.D.
Ilyka Damen
I Blame the Patriarchy (warning: for advanced students)

And for those men who are overwhelmed or feel picked upon when reading some of the above blogs, remember this quote from Ilyka:

"It's not as hard if you move yourself out of the center of everything..."