Monday, 27 February 2012

Another Monday, and concerns about privacy (unrelated to Monday)

Another Monday has had the audacity to interrupt a perfectly good weekend. I'm sensing a trend. It's almost as though this blight happens... weekly... *shifty, suspicious eyes*


Other than facing the horror that is waking up early on Monday morning in order to arrive at work on time, it's not too shabby of a day. I discovered I still had almond milk in the work fridge and so didn't have to adulterate my coffee with cow's milk or, shudder to think, drink it black. I checked my bank account and it's still in the black, despite going out with my sister this weekend and spending a silly amount of money on wine and cheese (Literally. That's not a euphemism. Lots of wine and cheese were purchased this weekend.) I had a cold but am over it and am looking forward to going to the gym this week to work off the couple pounds the wine and cheese have added to my frame (no, seriously, my pants are tight again). And, since there's much less stress to be had because the finances and job, etc, are in order, there's much harmony and happiness.

On the end of things that are troubling me, I'm wondering about online privacy and the benefits of transparency via using my real name on public social media forums vs. the risks. When I was originally online in the late-90's, the conventional wisdom was that you never used your real name or provided your personal information for anything ever. Unless you were ordering something online that required it, but even then you'd only offer up whatever information you needed to, nothing more. Then Myspace and Facebook popped up, and conventional wisdom was tossed out the window in the interest of connecting with people you knew and making sure they could find you.

Well, a couple years ago I reached the limit of wanting anyone to find me (if they weren't already my Facebook friend, I didn't want them to be), and so I've been using an alias. Yes, there are a lot of security and privacy measures one can use to keep information private, but who really trusts Facebook at all in this regard when they change privacy settings more often than I change my socks?

Now, after keeping things more private for a couple years, I'm wondering if my activism would be better served by being more transparent and using my real name? If I do, then people can easily Google me and find my history of working in the non-profit industry, my letters to the editor during election campaigns, my newspaper interviews for various causes I've supported, my old website set up when I was still doing marketing, etc. I've Googled myself and gotten others to, as well, so I know what's out there and it's pretty positive.

Given that, it seems that one definite positive would be that it lends an air of credibility to my statements since I can backup my previous experience.

What about the negatives? Well, that's where I'm not sure any more. The biggest concern that comes to my mind are trolls bullying my family. But, they'd have to find them, first. I don't post family trees on Facebook, because I find that level of information deeply invasive and entirely unneccessary.

So, what are your thoughts? Stick with the alias, or put it all out there?

Saturday, 25 February 2012

How to get her to suck *content warning*

This little charmer of a headline was waiting in my Spam mailbox this morning. Rather than see what glorious (read: gross/rapey/triggering) wisdom and/or product they have to offer, I thought I'd take the opportunity to offer my own sage advice.

How to get her to suck:
  1. When in her presence, or posting anywhere online where the intended female may view your comments, reinforce gender stereotypes and laud women who do the same, whilst simultaneously complimenting and slut-shaming women you find sexually attractive. Make sure that you put out as many messages as possible, post them all over your Facebook wall, tweet them, blog about them, etc. Make sure she cannot escape reading them.
  2. Compliment her on "not being like other girls" any time she does something misogynistic. Use it as a compliment of the highest order. Encourage her to prove how much better she is than other women, especially if that means degrading other women in the process.
  3. Sexually harass her. If she reacts badly, tell her it was a joke. Get other female friends to tell her to lighten up. Keep this up until she accepts the sexual harassment as complimentary, ordinary, and something to look forward to. Encourage her to brow-beat other women who speak out against sexual harassment.
  4. Tell rape jokes around her. Commend her if she laughs at them. Encourage her to tell some herself. Applaud her for being so "edgy" and "not like typical girls" and "just one of the guys".
  5. If she has a grudge or grievance with another woman or girl, encourage her to slut-shame them. The other person's sexuality doesn't even need to be remotely connected to the issue. The more acrimonious her slut-shaming, the more you should laugh and cheer her on.
  6. Have movie nights where you watch sexually violent and degrading movies and make fun of the female characters who are brutalized in these films. If she acts uncomfortable or tries to leave the room, make fun of her, saying "it's only a movie." Make sure she knows her feelings of discomfort are both unwelcome and completely unwarranted.
  7. Any time she is mildly unhappy or not enthusiastic, accuse her of being on her period. Use her objections as proof of her being visited by her Aunt Flo. If she admits to being on her period, say "I knew it", and make a generalized statements about how menstruation makes women inferior to men. Make sure she laughs at the joke, otherwise it's further evidence of her menstrual moodiness.
  8. Don't let her do anything for herself. Whether it be changing a tire, changing the channel, updating her computer operating system, or anything other than shopping, cooking, and child-rearing. If she doesn't let you do things for her, accuse her of being an uppity feminist. If she does let you, use it as proof that women can't do these things.
  9. Always use her as an example of her entire gender when she's doing something wrong/ bad/ weird, etc, and as an exception to the rule any time she does something good/ right/ cool, etc. Make sure she agrees when you point these out. If she doesn't agree, go back to #7.
  10. Make exaggerated and sexually-charged comments about women in the media who benefit from personal trainers, plastic surgery, and air-brushing. Point out all the flaws in women you see at the grocery store, on the news, online, etc. Make sure to add a few digs here and there about her complexion, figure, hair, and how they don't match Angelina Jolie or Megan Fox. If she remarks on the personal trainers, etc, go back to #7, and/or any of the other tactics.
  11. Ensure she's never confident in her own opinion. Even if she's 100% right. If she has evidence, say she's misunderstanding your original point, or that her evidence doesn't quite apply exactly to the particular way you've phrased the issue. Correct her at every opportunity. And when she looks to you for validation, point out that she's not confident. 
There. Now, if you go through all of the above steps with the intended woman or girl you were originally posing the question about, she will be one sucky human being. Or, she'll stop returning your calls and completely block you out of her life and devote the rest of her days to feminism and challenging schmucks like you. Really could go either way.



Now, if you are looking to know how to get someone to consent to sexual activity for you, here's a couple pieces of advice:
  1. Be a decent human being.
  2. Treat them like they're a decent human being.
  3. If they expresses interest in you beyond friendship, try kissing them first. If they're not interested in kissing you, then stop. 
  4. If they kiss you, ask if they want to go any further. If you're not comfortable verbalizing what you want, stop. If they're not comfortable verbalizing what they want, stop. 
  5. Accept that sometimes, no matter how nice or decent or charming or helpful or attractive or rich or funny or brilliant or utterly amazing you are, the person you like won't want to be sexually intimate with you. Or may only want to be sexually intimate with you once. Or in a limited way. It happens. No amount of advice will get you beyond that point, because the other person has a right to not want to be with you for any reason at all, even if they can't or won't verbalize that reason.
This advice may seem counter productive insofar as it won't necessarily "get you laid". That's ok. Sex isn't something you're owed. It's not something your partner is owed. It doesn't have to be in the context of a long-term, monogamous, heterosexual relationship, but it does have to be with enthusiastic consent by everyone involved at all times. 

Consent and respect and very sexy. If the person you're interested in doesn't seem to think so, time to move on, because your boundaries and safety are important, too. 


Friday, 24 February 2012

Who's the victim? Co-opting activist language is en vogue.


Who's the boss? Who's the victim? Evidence of a feministicalogical conspiracy to enslave teh menz? You be the judge...

I'm not the sort of blogger who is able to keep on top of every new topic that comes along. Not least of all because there's so much shit that happens all the time. If this were a full-time job, I'm still not sure I could do it. I'd likely miss deadlines as I cowered under my covers, hugging my teddy bear and softly singing to myself, "It can't rain all the time".


Actually, it probably can.

So, given that I'm not trying to keep up with the minutiea, sitting back and watching from a slight distance provides some clearer perspective on overall trends that I've been noticing (I'm certainly not the only one, as you'll see, because I'm quoting posts from Manboobz.com).

For example, it's interesting (read: ridiculous & depressing) that the term "victim" is being simultaneously misappropriated and maligned by groups and individuals who wouldn't know what it is to be a victim if it came up and slapped them upside the head (which would be ironic, because then they'd be victims of assault). I know that this isn't just something that MRAs do, I just know that I'm more aware of their hijacking of the term because I find it deeply offensive and obnoxious.

They seem to have recognized that people tend to sympathize with "victims". So, in wrenching sympathy from those who deserve and need it (i.e. - people who have been actually victimized), they've adopted a tactic of "Don't sympathize with them! They're chowder heads! Look at us! We've got hangnails because women are teh debbil! We don't like it when people criticize us for being so shitty, so we're going to co-opt their language unironically to excuse and pretty-up our abuse."

One of the more frustrating things about this tactic, is that genuinely nice people who actively work to support survivors of various forms of violence and oppression don't always know how to react to it. When someone states they are being oppressed or victimized, the standard response from good people is to try to support them and work with them to alievate what it is that is affecting them. When it's cis people claiming that the existence and acknowledgment of trans people are oppressing them by "reinforcing negative gender stereotypes by trying to conform to the opposite-sex" (I shit you not, I've seen that argument), good people are often gobsmacked into silence. Like, what do you say to such a bizarre misappropriation of the language of anti-oppression work?

Here are my suggestions for how to deal with people who usurp activist language to justify their bullshit:
  1. GIF party - when people are being absurd, sometimes the only logical and sane response is a lolcat
  2. MEME party - similar to GIF party, but can also be done without pictures. Eg. - "What is this? I don't even"
  3. Short answers, "That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard." - unfortunately, while this is often the first response that comes to mind, it often leads the OP to demand that you "prove" what they said is false, inaccurate, misleading, batshit insane, etc. Sometimes that can be difficult in the moment, because their claims are just so bizarre that no rational breakdown rebuttal immediately comes to mind.
  4. Post links stats and studies to the contrary - this can be helpful when you are so gobsmacked you can't formulate a response other than to point to someone else who has already laid out an eloquent response
  5. Ask questions. This can be very helpful in getting over the initial "O_________O" response. Keep asking questions, like: "How exactly does recognizing and honouring the experiences of transgender persons negatively affect you as a cis woman?", and "And you came to this conclusion how?" and "And how has denying and ignoring the existence of oppression helped women so far?" and even "Are you posting ironically? Because it's pretty bang-on if you're being facetious in order to highlight the absurdity of the claims of those who find it expedient to discount their own levels of privilege."
  6. Take a break. I know that with discussions online, sometimes 5 minutes can feel like an eternity, and any time away from the topic can feel like the other side is "winning" by filling up the conversation with venom that echoes when not addressed. But, seriously, if you're gobsmacked or your face is turning red because you are so irate that someone could post something so offensive, it's ok to take a break. Often, with a bit of distance (even as short as 5-10 min) comes greater clarity in how to respond. And, in your absense, it's possible someone else will also chime in and put into words what you have been trying to express. Allies are awesome that way.
  7. Stop responding. This may be counter-intuitive, but sometimes it can be very effective to let a ridiculous comment stand on its own without comment. Posts can echo, and sometimes the silence that follows can be more powerful than any other response.
  8. Copy and paste. If you've been posting online about social justice issues for any length of time, chances are you've repeated yourself, and perhaps have repeated yourself so many times you can't be arsed to type the entire response out again. That's why I started updating a document with my most-common arguments. No sense reinventing the wheel. If people are going to keep lazily rehashing insults and out-dated arguments from a half-century ago, then you're allowed to repost something you said last week.
  9. Build a group of allies. I've got a great collection of amazing people that I rely on as a sounding board and comic relief when dealing with these issues. Sometimes I'm too close to the issue or too upset to respond in a timely manner, so I go to them to see if they're able to respond, instead. It's not 100% assured someone is around to respond, but having people there to vent to helps regardless.
Now, I'm sure there are many other ways to address these types of arguments, and your mileage may vary on any and all of these suggestions. Whatever happens, know that you're not insane and, yes, they are really maliciously co-opting activist language, and yes, it really is fucking offensive. But at least you're not alone.



Wednesday, 22 February 2012

MST3K, self-care, and recycling tropes about "today's criminal youth"

I'm not sure if it's a mid-winter thing, but it seems that I and many of my allies are approaching burn-out. For myself, it's pretty understandable, since I've been active online this full year battling rape culture in the name of Slutwalk, aside from battling marginal employment, mounting debt, and the regular demands of adulthood. This past year has been quite a feminist education, for I've encountered every kind of triggering, misogynistic, regressive, patriarchal sludge the internet has to offer, and then some. This was also the year I learned about MRAs. And all that gets to me.

Part of my self-care is to watch Mystery Science Theatre 3000. Seriously. I used to watch it on the Sci Fi channel (you know, before they spelled it wrong), and then around 2002, in Napster's hay day, I started finding and downloading episodes. It took me about 5 years, but I was able to acquire every episode from every season, plus the movie. Shhh. Don't tell. I mean, er, I bought them all. Ye-ah...

My favourite episodes have got to be movies from the 50's and 60's that hype the evils of "today's youth". Those lousy beatniks and their crime sprees. Those are what was wrong with the country! Because, goodness knows, there were no out-of-control teenagers in the 20's or 30's! Oh, noes, those were the real good ol' days. You know, during the Great Depression. Wait.

Realistically, there were no "good ol' days". Any period can look glossy and inviting with the passage of enough time to smooth over the rough bits. Heck, I look fondly upon the 80's and early 90's, but we know they weren't all sunshine and lollipops.

Now, for the uninitiated, let's take a look at those crazy kids from the 50's and 60's and check out the roots of those who are currently running our country *cough*intotheground*cough*.

Season 1, Ep. 12 - Untamed Youth


Season 4, Ep.15 - The Beatniks

Season 5, Ep. 7 - I Accuse My Parents

Season 5, Ep. 22 - Teen-Age Crime Wave

Season 6, Ep.15 - Kitten with a Whip

And there are more. Many more. But you've gotta look for them. Bon appetit.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Taking up space

One issue that I've seen crop up quite often, is who feels justified in taking up space.


Representation of the patriarchy? You be the judge.

Persons who have grown up facing various kinds and levels of oppression are often taught to diminish themselves, to shrink away, to not gather attention lest they incur the wrath of more outspoken privileged folk. Naturally, there are many exceptions to this, just as there are folks who have grown up with the benefit of every privilege out there who are quite shy and try their best to stay out of the spotlight.

This phenomenon often becomes apparent in popular traditional media, online social media, and in-person conversations. Really anywhere there are two or more people having a conversation, there's the opportunity for this dynamic to pop up of one person dominating the conversation for no better reason than they're louder and feel more entitled to having their opinion heard.

Part of my process with working on dealing with oppression against me and understanding how my privileges may contribute towards the oppressive status quo, has been to be more mindful of how often I speak up and when.

I'm boisterous at heart and can put my thoughts together quite eloquently, and so it's not infrequent that I will put myself and my ideas out there. I especially try to ensure that I stand up and am heard when there are other privileged folks dominating the conversation and spreading myths, stereotypes, and other fallacies that are harmful and oppressive. I do not want theirs to be the only voices heard, because I recognize that a lot more read/ overhear these conversations than contribute to them and because I want to lessen the potentially triggering effects of unchecked victim-blaming, etc.

That's one of the frustrating things about challenging people who have not checked their privilege. If you have no emotional investment in the issue, of course it's easier to speak up and keep blathering on with the same erroneous points even when given evidence to the contrary. If you're a physically-fit, cisgender male, then of course it's easy for you to espouse how all women need to take self-defense classes to avoid rape, regardless of how problematic and victim-blaming your tone and approach is. If you've grown up with everything being given to you and never had to worry about where your next meal is coming from, of course it's easy to think of sex workers as being foolish to work on the street instead of indoors, or lazy for not finding other work, or deserving of being a target of assault for the situation "they've put themselves in".

As a slight aside, when one is commenting from the outside looking it, it's so easy to say with confidence that if they were in a particular situation, they'd know exactly what to do.


Protip: If you're about to tell someone you'd avoid being raped by turning into Rambo, you're not being as helpful as you may think. 

On the other side of the coin, I try to make sure that I'm not the one who is speaking over people whose voices need to be heard on an issue. As good as my intentions may be, if I see that there are other commentators who are addressing an issue, I try to step back and allow room for them.

Now, that's not to say that if someone identifies as a survivor of sexual violence that I'll give them a free pass to slut-shame or perpetuate rape myths or victim-blame. One can be a survivor and an abuser, or at least perpetuate problematic attitudes, all at once and I do think that needs to be addressed when it comes up. Allowing someone to spread toxic attitudes because of their past experiences neither helps them nor will change the culture that has facilitated the abuse against them.

Either way, whether I'm trying to put my voice out there to keep arrogant and wrong dudebros from taking over the space, or trying to ensure I'm not the one taking over to the detriment of the oppressed groups being discussed, or a combination thereof, it's a continual work in progress.

Despite my confidence in myself and my opinions and my education around anti-oppression work, it's not easy to keep putting myself out there in the face of all those people who feel no shame in their victim-blaming, rape apology, in gas lighting survivors, and derailing important conversations. It's taxing, it's tiring, it's frustrating, and some days I feel like I'm crawling uphill against an avalanche.

But, that's kind of proof that it's all the more necessary to keep taking back that space when it gets encroached upon by patriarchal caca doodie heads. Because, if I'm not lending my voice, then their ignorance and hatred will echo, and that's exactly what feminism and humanist activism aims to correct. It aims to change the prevailing tone from one of misogyny and rape culture into one of equality and consent culture.

When in doubt, bring in the lolcats.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Feminist Armchair Regime

Today marks the launch of a new group-effort blog project called Feminist Armchair Regime. Please join me in giving them a warm welcome. I anticipate much awesomeocity from this project, or at the very least a lot of fun and entertainment.

To kick this project off, I've cross-posted my "With a little help from my friends" blog post on there, about the importance of allies.


Now, to celebrate the launch of the hivemind's insidious propaganda, I'm going to watch 'The Deadly Bees'. Buzzzz...


With a little help from my friends

You know what I've found makes coming across trolls and misogynists and anti-feminists and general caca doodie heads easier? Friends.


More specifically, aligning with allies. Someone can be a bff and still fall into the categories above. A lot of people put up with a lot of unseemly bullshit from their friends because of their shared history together, the positive things their friends offer seem to offset the negative, mutual friends that keep them together, or any other of a bazillion reasons.

No, aside from just friends, it has been a godsend for me to have found a solid group of feminist allies. I've been fortunate enough to have gathered a group of allies from all over the world that I've "met" through the Slutwalk movement and other online activism pages on Facebook, without whom I think I would have long ago gone off my nut and set my laptop aflame.

Allies help to reassure us that,
"Yes, that was an extremely sexist comment. You're not over-reacting. Your reaction and your anger is valid. They're gaslighting you.",
or that,
"Yup, he's a misogynistic troll. We've come across him before and have seen him derail every conversation like this, so it's not your debating style that's the issue; it's that he's a jerk."
 or even,
"I know what you're trying to say, but the way you tried to phrase it was quite problematic, so I can see why you got that negative reaction. Let's work out your message here, in private, so we can deconstruct where you've gone off the rails a bit."
Having allies is about getting a group of people together that can help you maintain your sanity in the face of some really horrific issues. Having allies can help you become a better ally yourself by surrounding yourself with people who will call you out when you're making problematic statements but also who can help you understand why your statements were problematic. Having allies can be about getting people together to start GIF parties at trolls to reduce the triggering effects when they descend upon pages dedicated to survivors of sexual violence. Having allies has been one of the best ways for me to learn more about feminism and issues people are facing all over the world.

How does one build their network of allies?

In my case, it's largely been through Facebook, via Slutwalk pages whilst arguing against misogynists who drag out the tired rape myths and try to pass them off as "safety advice", and on feminism pages whilst arguing with dudebros who are adamant that North American women are more privileged than men and if they really want to address inequality they should help women in Iraq, etc.

In the real world, I've also met a lot of amazing allies through volunteering with rape crisis centres. By their nature, most rape crisis centres are set up in a feminist framework, and a large part of their crisis line volunteer training focusses on feminism in order to inform the volunteers about the societal issues that perpetuate rape culture and affect survivors of sexual violence. This is because one cannot adequately support survivors of sexual violence unless they fully understand the societal context in which these survivors are trying to get by - one where police perpetuate rape myths and disbelieve survivors' reports, one where survivor's sexual histories and clothing are used against them in court, one where friends and family all-too-often rally around the perpetrator because it's less uncomfortable to assume the survivor is lying than that someone they love and respect is capable of committing grievous acts of sexual violence.

Learning about those issues is intense. Ripping off the bandaids to resensitize onself in a society that encourages desensitization and rape jokes is painful. Gathering an adequate support system in order to deal with those issues and so many others that come up once the learning process starts has been vital to me and a big part of my self-care.

Other parts of my self-care? Manboobz.com, Icanhascheezburger.com, and Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

All apologies

I'm sorry if anyone's offended by the following post.


No, wait. No, I'm not. I apologize too much. Or, at least I have in the past. I'm working on rectifying that so that my apologies are sincere and meaningful, instead of constant and borne of insecurity and social conditioning.

One barrier many women face is in being able to stand up and set boundaries for themselves without having their opinions and experiences disregarded out of hand, and being put in the position of being expected to apologize for standing up for themselves. I like the blog Captain Awkward for addressing so many instances of people (usually women, but not always) who are in shitty circumstances and entirely within their rights to extricate themselves, and yet feel beholden to the people who are being awful to them because our society sucks at letting nice people set and maintain boundaries. There are some clear examples here, here, hereherehere, here! and holy shit definitely here!!!


And I can't forget this incredibly articulate post from Fugitivus about rape and boundaries.

So, along the lines of asserting my own boundaries, I'm not going to apologize for having a life and not being able to update this blog or my twitter account or my Tumblr every single day and multiple times a day without fail.

I'm not going to apologize for posts that ramble a bit because I feel the need to give background and context to the issue to show my thought-path in getting to the main point.

I'm not going to apologize for not finding rape jokes funny and for calling out people who use them.

I'm not going to apologize for disagreeing with people who slut-shame or make misogynistic comments or believe that some people are inferior because of their gender, sex, sexual orientation, income level, religious beliefs, level of ability, or any other factor other than the content of their character.

I'm not going to apologize for moderating the comments on my own blog in whatever way I deem appropriate. This is, after all, my space and I intend it to be a safe space and not yet another venue for people blind to their privileges to be triggering and generally awful. Disagreement? Sure. Disrespect? Your posts will never see the light of day and I'm not sorry for that.

Now that we've got those out of the way, I'll apologize if I've hurt someone's feelings, but not if it's because I've called them out on exercising their privilege to be oppressive, ignorant, disrespectful or hurtful.

I'll apologize if I find out I've been using oppressive language or perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

I'll apologize if I've been inordinately rude and am in effect creating more toxicity (posting GIFs at trolls who make rape jokes definitely does not count).

I'll apologize if I stumble, if I step on someone's toes (literally and figuratively), if I spill my coffee, if I've been neglectful of my personal responsibilities to family and friends, and generally if my actions or inaction have been detrimental and could have been avoided by some other action on my part that does not require omniscience or the ability to bend space and time.

Oh, and I also might apologize sarcastically. I'm sooooo sorry if my sarcasm with trolls hurts your little fee fees. /sarcasm.


So, generally, not terribly sorry.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Friday update. Gonna go with the tune of The Cure's "Friday, I'm in Love"



It's a bit of a mishmash of things today, so let's get right into it.

The Know Your Alternatives conference was all day yesterday, at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. I had a good time and got some really solid information that I'll be using to write up a report for my boss - YAY! I didn't win any of the awesome prizes that were drawn (they were giving away an iPhone and iPad!) - BOO! But I got fed and came away feeling like it was a productive use of company time and money to have sent me - YAY!

Yesterday even getting to the conference was a challenge, because our miniature schnauzer decided to take sick and had, er, intestinal distress all the proceeding day and continued when I took him out that morning. We still haven't gotten pet insurance because I haven't been able to manage another set of monthly bills just yet, so instead we got to pay $400 at once. Can these financial crises let up for just a single month so I can work on Gail Vaz-Oxlade's advice? Pretty please?

Puppy update - today he's fine. He seemed fine as soon as he left the vet's office. My partner's pretty pissed about that and suspects they're in cahoots, but whatcha gonna do?

Met with my trainer for the first time on Tuesday and I still hurt today. Hurt to breathe, hurt to laugh, hurt to love. Le sigh... And back today at 4:30pm. I can definitely understand people's lovehate relationship with their personal trainers (those who are fortunate enough to have access to one, that is), because I'm not sure if I want to send him roses or a box of one-dozen, starving, crazed weasels.


This weekend is going to be pretty long and intense, because I'll be spending it at a friend's tattoo shop, working on getting their computers cleaned up and networked before they have the grand opening at the new location next weekend. I'm hoping this means I'll be able to make up the money we spent on the dog so my partner and I can go out for dinner on Valentine's Day. Le sigh.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Eat, drink, and be merry... no, wait, don't because you have an appointment with a personal trainer

The countdown has begun. I'm at t-minus 8 hours until my first appointment with my personal trainer.

Since I quit my part-time job as a barista back in the fall and have held down just the one job, I've refound some of the weight I'd lost when I was working 60 hours a week. Go figure, right? Make no mistake, I don't consider myself morbidly obese, and I'm not going to be going through the calorie countdown on here or sharing all the different ways I can prepare cottage cheese and rice cakes. But, my pants are getting snug, I'd rather spend the money on getting into shape than buying new ones, and it's getting more challenging to lug HP LaserJet 4050n's down to shipping on my own.

Remember when I was referencing previously about Gail Vaz-Oxlade kicking my butt? She'd probably do so over this, too, but to offset the cost of the gym membership and the PT, my partner and I are making a concerted effort to eat at home, cook from scratch, and do all the things that we normally say we're going to do but then don't wind up doing. And, we got our gym memberships cheaper for the first 3 months because of a special offer, so we're not doing so bad that way, either.

And remember booze? My costly mistress? Sigh. Looks like we're going to be breaking up for a while. For days at a time, perhaps. It's both to save money and conserve calories so I'm not working my butt off just to expand it with brewskis after work.

Why should you care? You probably don't, but I figure if I make my personal fitness plans (and costs) public, then I'm more likely to feel obligated to follow through.

What are my goals? To be able to reorganize the storage room without pulling something, and to be able to lug big, laserjet, network printers from storage to shipping on my own. Boo-yeah.

The future of IT, as told by someone who clearly hasn't worked in the same circles I have

I'm a big fan of Tech Republic and their articles, so I thought I would pass on this little charmer.

The Future of IT Will Be Reduced to Three Kinds of Jobs

On the surface it sounds like it's offering solid advice on how up-and-comers can prepare for the future of IT, but I think it neglects something very important: actual businesses.

I've worked for many different companies, both since I remustered into IT and before, and what most of them have in common is that they are not on the cutting edge of technology. I don't think I've ever worked for a company that has had all-new computers running the most up-to-date operating systems and software available. At least not all-across the board, and the ones who were lucky enough to get upgrades then had those machines from then on until retirement (caution: I might be exaggerating).

I've worked for companies that fit in someone's basement, and for multi-nationals that employ many thousands of people. And, let me tell you, Windows XP is still very much alive and well in those environments. Heck, if Windows 3.1 were still supported by Microsoft, I'm half sure it would be running in many of these places.

The major issue is partly cost, but largely it's the users. I still work with people who employ the "hunt and peck"-style of typing and who, if I change the login ID on their computer to briefly troubleshoot an issue, do not know their login name. And many of these people are not edging to retirement.

It's been my experience that a lot of companies have grown and shrunk and experimented with various modes of user support, and the larger companies have realized that they need full-time, permanent IT staff in order to keep operations running smoothly. There are certainly exceptions, but there always are.

Long story short, take the above article with a grain of salt, hone your skills in any of those three areas if that's where you want to be, but don't despair that the desktop technician has gone the way of the dodo just yet.

Monday, 6 February 2012

Feminism =/= misandry, and other tired tropes


I don't know how many times I have to say this, but I'm a feminist and not because I hate men. I am a feminist because I see inequality and oppression and I am committed to being a part of the solution. I am a feminist because feminism is about raising up persons of all gender expressions when they are being oppressed by stereotypes, discrimination, violence, silencing, bullying, etc.

If your argument against feminism includes, "Feminists are man-haters", "Feminists hate stay-at-home-moms", "Feminists are lesbians who hate the nuclear family", "Feminists kick puppies", etc, then you're either ignorant or just an asshole. You might not yet know you're ignorant, you might sincerely think these things because you've heard Rush Limbaugh talk about feminists, you might have gotten this impression from the popular media, you might have known that one woman or group in college who embodied all those stereotypes and more. You're still ignorant. One feminist who is transphobic, racist, misandristic, etc, does not an entire movement make. Actually, neither does one sincerely awesome feminist a movement make. 

The fact is, there are a lot of difference of opinion amongst feminists as to what feminism means, and who can call themselves a feminist, whether anyone who supports sex workers without trying to force them out of the industry is a feminist, etc etc etc. 

So, when you think you're going to win an argument by stating "feminists are all *farting noises commence* *insert 100 year-old stereotype here that literally harkens back to Suffragettesè days*", you're really just telling the people around you that you don't actually know that much about feminism, or that the facts are inconvenient to your little diatribe.

Also, slight non-sequitor, the next time I hear someone going off on those "dirty hippies", I'm gonna go on a rant about lousy beatniks and flappers destroying our country.