Why I’m not a Libertarian

For my friends who call themselves Libertarian: most of you aren’t really aligned with the Libertarian party though you may like some of the more theoretical notions of Libertarianism: the ideology. Saying “I’m against big government” is equivalent to saying “I’m against open wounds” – yeah sure we all are but its how you define it that matters.
Libertarianism has salience but the reality leads to a convergent point of promoting inequity in our system. The inequity is of an economic kind that can actually kill people and tear down our current freedoms,. Libertarianism, like many political ideologies was conceived in a vacuum of reality but wasn’t constructed through trial and error like other ideologies. Its easy to say “real socialism doesn’t work” since its been tried and failed many times (and yet is still an on-going experiment in many arenas) but Libertarianism hasn’t been tried anywhere (except Chile IIRC) because the immediate effect would be chaotic and deadly for so many. Nobody wants to tear down the protections we have spent hundreds (in some cases thousands) of years erecting for the benefit of the whole society. Perhaps only the very insulated, the very clueless or the very sociopathic would be amenable to that.

And then there’s the factual point that most of Libertarianism’s economic “thinkers” have open disdain for evidence-based systems favoring a simplistic “so long as I get mine, we’ll all be happier” kind of philosophy

But to put it in the simplest terms evar: I will never agree with “true” libertarian philosophy because it relies almost entirely upon judicial review as the ultimate balance of liberty clashes. We circumvent such incredible inefficiency by having enforceable laws. Needing the power of enforcement is crucial to having effective laws in the first place (no, I cannot be An-cap) and it takes money to fund enforcement on many levels. Taxation, executive and legislative branches are necessary to have freedoms in the first place. Legal punitive measures will never be enough. And in many cases (food purity, medicine safety, worker rights) legal punitive measures would not substitute because people would be DEAD before they could pursue recompense and change. Fuck that. regulation is necessary to protect us all against sociopaths who would kill us for a penny. Regulation is also necessary to protect and harbor those who are vulnerable to the “good intentions” of those who believe in social Darwinism (yes, those people truly exist)

We are no longer in a cottage industry world. We need the size of government to equal the size of corporate interests in order to not be victimized by economic sociopaths

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Caitlyn Jenner isn’t the epitome of “brave”

I don’t happen to think Jenner is brave. Not because its a competition but because she came out AFTER the kids were grown and out of the house and her investment portfolio is securing her mega-huge income for life since the show was over with. She waited until she had absolutely nothing to lose. Where was Jenner during the decades when the queer community was fighting to stay alive? Did Jenner ever do or even SAY anything helpful? NO. So yay for Caitlyn Jenner but let’s not pretend she did anything risky at all. She didn’t. She made damned sure there was as little risk as possible.

I don’t think Caitlyn Jenner was brave at all. The definition of brave is taking risks. Transitioning is a brave thing to some extent, yes, but Jenner was about as non-brave as it gets. THAT’S OKAY. No one is *required* to be brave about such a personal journey. I do not fault Jenner for that. I DO fault the media for propping her up as a darling of the trans community. Before she was outed, she never did a damned thing for anyone in the queer community. That was her choice and I am okay with that. Sometimes bravery is not worth it. No one should make that choice for you. But let’s not make fools of ourselves pretending she was exceptionally brave.

Let us not forget, either, that Jenner purposefully married Kris Kardashian knowing full well he wanted to eventually transition fully yet he did not reveal that to her until after they were married. Jenner wanted to have a cover and that’s what Kardashian was. Kardashian was not at ALL happy about that. The kids from Jenner’s previous marriage already knew about her transition goals and they felt the reality show was a terrible idea because of all the exposure it would bring to everyone involved whether they liked it or not. Jenner did not exactly handle this with other people’s feelings in mind. That was Jenner’s choice and I don’t know her internal life so I can’t judge, but I can say it doesn’t fit the definition of “brave”

If I was going to pick a transperson in the spotlight I think is brave I’d choose Wendy Carlos. She was a respected composer of electronic New Age music when she transitioned. She had been transitioning for years by the time she won grammys. There was no way she could come outt privately unless she chose to give up touring and posing for pictures. This was in the late 80s. She had in fact been outspoken for the queer community before transitioning. Once she decided to do it, she went back and changed all the labels on any recordings still being printed so they all had her name and picture current. That wasn’t cheap and it couldn’t have been easy being shunned afterwards. The type of music she does is respected but not actually that popular and she wasn’t any kind of millionaire either. Her interview in Playboy magazine was extremely brave considering how shitty the interviewer was to her. She’s still very private because of how she was treated but she was never secret.

If you doubt my claims about Jenner, read her own words:
here

Tinder: the good, the bad and the vain

SO in my quest to enter the modern world of dating, I joined Tinder. Two things prompted this decision. My ex had met his fiance on Tinder and I had heard a few other stories from people about starting actual relationships via Tinder. I really didn’t believe this was going to happen for me, but I was curious as to how Tinder really worked. So I joined. I put up a profile with several headshots and a basic run-down of myself. I mentioned my height first, being a super-geek next and the fact that I am absolutely not looking for hook-ups. I went in with NO expectations.Then I began the great swipe-fest.

DISCLAIMER: My search parameters are set to men and women but there was a ratio of men to women of about 50-1 and many of the women’s profiles I saw were very vague about whether they were looking for a romantic meeting or a purely social one. So I only swiped-right a couple of women. There were SOME women who were clearly looking for hook-ups and I swiped-left on all of them. So all of the following is based on my experiences with men.

Here was my criteria:

SWIPE-LEFT

  • no profile information (its a hook-up)
  • no picture (what are you hiding? Its the modern age, you can upload a selfie in .005 seconds, no excuses)
    over 5’11” (purely a practical matter)
  • frowning (wtf dude)
  • REALLY bad lighting (C’MAN)
  • flashing “I’m a wannabe gangstah” signs (I bet you work for FedEx, amirite?)
  • posing with dead animals (no, I do not care that you caught a big fish or shot a deer)
  • posing with beautiful women (what are you looking through Tinder for? Is that supposed to make me feel competitive or something? Newsflash: most women will just deflate and feel inadequate. How would you like it if I put up a picture of me cuddling someone who looks like Vin Diesel? You’d think that’s what I expect to find, that’s what)
  • picture of dog in pic pool (I am not looking to date your dog no matter how much you love him)
  • pic with tiger (yes, there are a LOT of pictures with tigers. I do not know why but I have my suspicions)
  • pic with expensive car/watch/boat/champagne (I do not care about how rich you pretend to be or how rich you actually are)
  • pic in obvious foreign location (you travel a lot. that means you’re not around much. I do not have the luxury to travel a lot right now)
  • corporate headshot (seriously? you can’t take a damned selfie in your natural habitat? Oh wait, maybe that IS your natural habitat. Yuck)
  • pic with sport-team love (MAYBE you’ll find a woman who adores your sports team but honestly I don’t think that is a good basis for a relationship)
  • profile stressing travel (see “pic in foreign location”)
  • profile stressing outdoorsy/sportsing/workout stuff (I’m disabled and trying to get my health back up but for now I can’t keep up with someone who wants to hike the Appalachian trail)
  • profile marrying the word “woman” with any of the following: Classy, sexy, special, or real (I might think I am all of those things but I have no idea if you’d agree with me. That bar is too vaguely high for my tastes besides its so FUCKING CLICHE)

SWIPE-RIGHT

  • something in the picture that makes you look a little “different”
  • actual smiling (there’s a difference and its in the eyes and you can’t fake it)
  • mentioning being a father but NOT putting more than a photo-bombed headshot of your kid(s) in the pic pool (seeing full pics of your children makes me uneasy. we’re looking for a romance, and you’re splashing your kids’ pics on a very public place… that seems entirely too reckless)
  • talking about things you like AND things you do (we don’t all get to do the things we like and sometimes the things we do may seem boring to us but are interesting to someone else)
  • being frank about what you want in a RELATIONSHIP (not a person; people can be so many things at once its intimidating to read a laundry list of vague qualities you are hoping to find)
  • profile reads like you’re happy already but wanting to share your happy life (I don’t want to be with someone who hopes I will “complete” their miserably empty existence)
  • equally okay with doing things “out and about” or “stay home”

I swiped-right on about 50 profiles. Of those, I received messages from four people first. I also sent messages to about six people and about five of them replied. In every single case, the person I was chatting with, asked me to text them on their phone within about three sentences. Not being comfortable with sending my phone number to strangers I managed to demur.(I had a not-great experience doing that with someone from OkCupid. Even though we had talked for nearly a month and realized we weren’t dating material for each other, we decided we were cool with hanging out occasionally. Next thing you know, I’m blocking him for drunk texting suggestive things to me *sigh*) I suggested meeting up with two people. One ended up begging off later (he was here to attend a funeral so I really understood him changing his mind) the other never responded. So my actual contacts with people show that Tinder guys have the exact same problem as OkCupid guys: they don’t have the whatever-it-takes to actually follow through on a dating prospect even when its handed to them on a silver platter. Suffice it to say, I’m not interested in dating someone who can’t get it together to finish a conversation, respond to a request to meet up or even message back. And those were men I swiped-right who had swiped-right on me. So its not like they were repelled by my unsexiness or anything. They already decided they liked me (pic and/or profile) yet could not bring themselves to even say hello (or much beyond that) The one and only guy who managed a good fun conversation and said he wanted to meet was only in town for a few days for a funeral and we just couldn’t get our schedules together. He did text me later to apologize and ask if I was free later which sadly I was not. Ah well.

So all the men I swiped-left? Oy and Vey. Endless streams of “look how great I am” pictures and profiles. It became boring, in fact. And somewhat depressing really.

Overall, I have ascertained that Tinder is in fact pretty much what I expected. I wasn’t interested in using it previously because the notion of finding someone based on a picture was just rather… superficial. And that’s pretty much what Tinder is: superficial. The vast majority of what I’ve come across (and I’m talking about the ones who say they don’t want “just a hook-up”) are braggarts and swellheads. The vast majority of pictures I see are all about showing how superior the subject is in the arena of money, material possessions, adventure and/or looks. I can’t possibly speak for all or even most women but the subset of type of women I belong to and the fact is that we generally aren’t interested in snagging the Most Superior Male on the block. In some ways, that’s a turn-off, in fact. To be with someone who sets themselves up as superior, you feel as if you also must be a superior specimen and face it, most women do not go around feeling superior to other women. Hierarchy and competition is not a common thing among smart, lively women who take command of their sexuality. No matter how awesome we view ourselves (and most of us do) we do not do it relative to other women or by a standard of measurement that society sets out. So my only conclusion is that Tinder is a social meeting place for the most banal, average and superficial folk. Not to say there aren’t women that like, of course there are, but considering the qualities that most men say they are looking for, Tinder doesn’t offer much in the way of choice for women who actually have those qualities. Because women who are bright, lively and take command of their sexuality are generally looking for someone who is in a similar mindset, not someone who wastes energy bragging about their accoutrements of acquisition. The spending of money and the position of power within one’s career does not translate into personal qualities beyond the average, it just indicates that you have been more successful (which implies plenty of luck) than others. But success doesn’t indicate personal fortitude or work ethic or even smarts – just opportunity. Relationships aren’t successful because of opportunity. Matching up with someone isn’t a just a matter of chance, its a matter of matching someone’s projected qualities with your desires, now and for the future. That’s not something that I can judge based on what car you drive, how many fish you caught or how much you love your dog.

Goodbye Tinder. You’re definitely not for me.

the things I have learned about men from OkCupid

THE FOLLOWING IS SATIRE AND SNARKY

1. Men clearly are more interested in finding “that special lady” than women are in finding “that special man” In fact usually women are trying to find “new friends”
2. Saying “just looking for new friends” translates into “SKEEVY MEN PLEASE MESSAGE ME”
3. Many women are actually a couple
4. Signing up for OkCupid is enough; there’s no real need to waste anyone’s time telling them about yourself
5. Further: don’t even bother filling out basic personal information. Just post a blurry photo and mention how you’re a laid-back uncomplicated man
6. Exchanging one or two messages is plenty. Move on before you get attached to them
7. There is no need to actually read an entire profile before messaging someone
8. Further: there is no need to actually write a personal message – make up a form introduction and send it out as soon as you see a new profile go up. Form letters are proper corporate etiquette so it will be super-impressive to make one for a dating site
9. Photos are for wusses. If you must put one up, either get your work pic or take a selfie right now. Don’t worry about the lighting or your expression. Sitting around scowling in the dark is what you do normally anyway
10. If someone seems interested in you, answering with any enthusiasm is foolish. Appear aloof and cool

(note: I am bisexual and so far have managed to make contact with exactly three women in the two years I’ve been on OkC. All I’ve learned so far is that women are really unlikely to actually use OkC for its intended purpose)

Pain Internal Chatter

Adult: See? I told you! This is real. This hurts. Stop pretending it isn’t going to happen.

Inner Child: But I don’ yike it. It make bad sad time to need pills.

Shitty Committee: We just want to say that clearly this happens because you’re a lazy weak shameless addict who lies about needing medicaiton just so she can get happy pills

Adult: Shitty Committee is overruled. They have things entirely backwards and besides since when is it a bad thing to want to be happy?

Body: Shitty Committee is going to be ignored today. We’ve been sending out pain alerts for a while now and getting no answer. Without alternate solutions, we will continue sending out messages until we are heard.

Shitty Committee: See? You are whining for pills like a damned addict

Body: WE WILL DROWN YOU OUT IF YOU DON”T SHUT UP

Adult: omg everyone please stop. there are things that have to be done

Inner Child: I don’ wanna do nuffin. hurts.

Adult: there is a child needing to be attended to today. Body will ratchet down a notch at least when child is present

Inner Child: Really?

Adult: Not talking about you. Go take a nap

Inner Child: Don’ wanna

Shitty Committee: You negotiate with Inner Child? Ugh, you are so lame and stupid. Can’t even take control when its called for.

Body: WE WILL SHOUT LOUDER THAN YOU

Adult: Shitty Committee WILL shut up or body will just send more urgent messages… you guys are locked in a vicious cycle. Somebody step away!

Inner Child: alcohol will shut them both up

Body: Message reprint: ad infinitum until resolution, that is all

Adult: Alcohol is a bad idea, we need to be alert and in charge today

Inner Child: but Whyyyyyyyy?

Adult: omg go have a candy bar. will that make you happy?

Inner Child: maybe… let’s try a couple and see

Body: No, it won’t make us happy at all

Adult: wasn’t talking to you.

Body: message reprint

Adult and Inner Child and Shitty Committee: YES WE KNOW

Body: okay okay everybody take a break

Adult: *sigh* finally!

Inner Child: Where’s my candy bar?

Shitty Commmittee: …can’t even get a candy bar? You’re so

Adult: OMG SHUT UP BOTH OF YOU

Body: break’s over.

Adult: i’m geting a candy bar and some chai

Inner Child: that’ll work

Shitty COmmmittee: *omph glomph nom nom*

Body: Flood of confidence complete.Shitty Commmittee silenced temporarily

Adult: thanks

Inner Child: I need another candy bar

Adult: no problem

Body: commencing reprint of messages

Adult: oy vey

Female Characters that are actual characters and not caricatures

Its a problem now, this “Strong Female Character”. Used to be, females in film (and most other media but let’s stick to film) existed only as romantic fodder or foil for the male hero. Thus the “damsel in distress”. She was two dimensional, (or worse) she was petty, she was not very bright but she was ravishingly beautiful. And I use the word “ravishingly” for a reason.

Over time, this became tiresome for people. Yes, women mostly spoke up but it can’t be ignored that men, when asked, by and large were pretty tired of having good movies ruined by vacuous caricatures that women played. If you can’t put a decent character in there, then don’t, seemed to be the overall agreement. Though most men weren’t exactly clamoring for SFC, they certainly weren’t against them. So, Hollywood responded.

It started small, with female leads not being weak – women knew self-defense. Women weren’t afraid to talk back to the hero when he was being a jerk and they proved they were smart. Women started kicking ass occasionally too. Male viewers were thrilled – women kicking butt is sexy, after all. But it wasn’t quite what was asked for. It felt like a bone being thrown – here; have some physical prowess, some brains and you don’t have to bow and scrape. But they were still weak, weak as characters.

But hold up a minute… I agree that the ratio of male to female characters is WAY off (come on, 50% of the world is female and we’re lucky to have ONE female co-lead in any story?) and I agree that the mainstream idea of “good female character” is really a comic-book version of a hero with some boobs attached and I absolutely agree that the vast majority of movies don’t pass The Bechdel Test (which isn’t the arbiter of what makes a good female character or good feminist-sympathetic movie, its just a good indicator of sad trends)
HOWEVER
I also think something else is going on… I think we are starting to have Fading Female Syndrome.
There are, in fact, many movies and more every year that rise above those problems in hollywood and break the usual expectations about female characters and feminism itself. But we can’t seem to remember them

Take Black Widow… from teh Avengers? Remember what she did? The really super cool thing she did that NOBODY else could do? You don’t remember? She was just a babe in a black vinyl suit who kicked a few butts and ran around showing her tits? Yeah, wasn’t that the same thing she did in the new Captain America movie? Yeah, run around in leather and show her tits?

Wrong.

In the Avengers, Black Widow was the only hero who managed to get Loki to reveal himself. She was the ONLY one who could mind-play better than he could. If you recall, his face was pretty shocked when he realized he’d been played too. And she DNGAF. Her neckline was no lower than Hawkeye’s. She was the person who negotiated half of what the Avengers did. She was the one Hawkeye talked to – without a shred of romance – when he came out of his brainwashing because he knew she had been through similar. As noted in the article, she was the one who closed the portal that let all the aliens in!
So in essence, Black Widow wasn’t just a SFC (although being a counter-spy, interrogator and heroine she had to be some kind of strong, they all were) she was interesting. She carried her own scenes. She added to the story. She contributed to the group dynamic. She was a real character, not a caricature. And that film probably doesn’t even pass the Bechdel test.

But let’s go back… other female characters who carry scenes, add to the story, move the plot and contribute to the group dynamic – women who are interesting characters. (and who may or may not pass the Bechdel Test)

Jane in Thor (1-3) (passes)
Giselle in Enchanted! (Passes)
Merida in Brave (passes)
Tiana in Princess and the Frog (passes)
Mulan in Mulan (doesn’t pass but given the plot that makes sense)
Maleficent (passes)
Snow White and the Huntsman (passes)
Rapunzel in Tangled (passes)
Mother Gothel in Tangled
Caroline Fry in Pitch Black (passes)
Alexa in Aliens Versus Predator (passes)
Vasquez in Aliens (passes)
Ripley in Alien (passes)
Susanna in Girl, Interrupted (passes)
“Haley” in Hard Candy (doesn’t pass – only two characters in teh whole movie- however, the main character does talk on the phone to another named female about other subjects. However it fails because that other female was never shown or heard in the movie so she is not a real character)
Juno in Juno (passes)

These women are real characters. They mean something to the movies they are in. Most of the are central characters but some of them aren’t even that. They are still important characters to the plot of the movie and if they were replaced by a man, the story would not really be the same.

These aren’t the only ones I’m sure but they are the ones I particularly remember. How many do you remember?

How many did you watch on screen, enjoy watching, in fact, because they were interesting, competent, real characters yet promptly glaze over in your memory later? I’ve heard different views on the quality of each of these films but I often wonder when I hear someone else talk about them, if the person saying so does not remember the main character like I do? Didn’t have the same visceral reaction to experiencing a real woman on-screen. A woman I could really get into, worship, love, hate, or otherwise be immersed in was up there onscreen for 2-3 hours? Did they see the same characters I did? Did it not mean anythign to them?

How often have you seen a character – especially NOT a main character – played by a female where the character wouldn’t have been the same, had the same impact, wouldn’t have nuanced the story if it were played by a man?

Going on the first linked essay.
If Trinity had been played by a man, and Neo were gay, how different, REALLY, would the Matrix storyline have been? Aside from teh whole socio-political fallout, let’s pretend society DNGAF about gay characters anymore and society even accepts that gays can fall in love and love each other just like straights do. Now does the story change?
No. Because Trinity, bless her wall-climbing heels, exists to fuel the main character to action. She provides an excuse for the villain and the strength of her character is how much she believes in the hero. If it weren’t for her belief, he wouldn’t be the man he becomes.
Nope. Wouldn’t be any different if Trinity were a man.
Because there’s no nuance to her. There’s no depth to her. She exists purely in service to the male characters entirely. And the Matrix franchise fails the Bechdel test too! Even though there’s more than two females!

So in addition to the Bechdel test, I propose the “real character test” (Or hey if it get popular, call it the smibbo test, that’d be awesome)
1. is there a female in the main cast who has unique lines?
2. does she get a scene to herself?
3. when she has a scene, does it NOT revolve around one of the main heroes? (Damsel in Distress, Fall of the ass-kicker, romancing the stone-heart etc)
4. if she were replaced by a male actor, would the story seem much different?

Now, after all that, the question I ask of you is… will you now remember that character? Or will her boobs blind you to the fact that there’s some excellent writing and acting going on right now? Will you look back and know the reason why you liked that movie was because the FEMALE CHARACTER made it what it was?

Because if the character wouldn’t be the same if it were played by a man, then why can’t you remember how very real she was?