All that is wrong with the world…

September 28, 2011

Thoughts on Feminism and Gender Issues

Table of Contents

Introduction
Modern day feminism
Driving
Sexism in the workplace
The gender pay gap
Sexual Objectification
Maternity / Parental Leave
Child Support
Language
Title of address
Gender segregation
Rape
Abortion
Are men more intelligent, creative or capable than women?
Brains
Education
Are women less funny than men?
Female characters in entertainment
Women in Film
Trangendered/Transexual women
Conclusion
References

Introduction

Feminism is an interesting topic to me. I have given a lot of thought to various political ideologies and philosophies as I eventually hope to craft my own. One thing that I have often thought about with great consideration is how can we ensure fairness or equality for all people? The rights of women are then very important in any such discussion, having been unfairly repressed in many societies that have existed throughout history. Much of our history regarding the way we treated women will eventually be looked back in terms of how primitive we were. Here we are in the 21st century where we can put men on the moon, cure diseases and have instant access to almost our entire library of knowledge at any time of day. Surely we would have mastered something as simple as ensuring equal rights for both genders? Unfortunately, this does not seem to be the case. Even ancient Egypt managed to understand that women should be treated equally, yet somehow as mankind advanced men continued to dismiss and denigrate women, resulting in a patriarchal society. There is no question that inequalities still exist; the problem for me is identifying just what those inequalities are. It is impossible to proceed with trying to right wrongs unless there is firm agreement about what those wrongs are. It is necessary to accurately identify the problems and if possible show evidence for them as much as possible. The other problem is that a great many claims are made by women who consider themselves feminists and it is these claims which are hard to corroborate. Some claims are flat out ridiculous and are easy to disprove and dismiss. Other claims seem dubious or perhaps likely but there just isn’t the evidence to support the allegations. The personal anecdotes of a great many women simply aren’t sufficient. Still other claims contradict claims made by others, so it becomes hard to reconcile them. So, this is in part why I have decided to write this article. As the title says these are merely my thoughts on Feminism. I have never studied gender studies or anything of the sort, nor have I even done extensive reading. I have done a lot of reading, but have not researched things in depth. What I have done is listen to and observe the reactions to various issues from my travels around the world, to the point where I feel I have enough to have an opinion on certain issues. I have also where possible supported my opinions with evidence. I am well aware that many of my opinions may be based on faulty reasoning or that I may be lacking evidence. In which case I hope this article gets noticed and any errors I have made can be corrected, so I can learn more. One thing I will note is that I have not stated my gender, age or race anywhere. That is deliberate as I consider them irrelevant. My arguments should be judged on their merits, not on who makes them.

Modern day feminism

It seems a large part of the problem with Feminism today is just how disjointed it is. 1st and 2nd wave feminism both had common goals which they basically accomplished while current or third wave feminisms seems to be full of people self identifying as feminists while holding conflicting opinions and having contrasting goals. Whether it be on the issues of pornography, sex-work, marriage, career options, parental leave or any of the other numerous issues being discussed, there tends to be a multitude of opinions which cannot be reconciled with each other. It doesn’t help that many of these current feminists appear to be, for lack of a better word, crazy. There are women who are convinced that males invented PMS to control women, that playing the GTA games will turn men into rapists, that porn stars are forced into that work by men, trying to change history i.e. to say that Mileva Maric actually did a lot of Einstein’s work, that women are innately more intelligent than men…the list of crazy nonsense goes on and on. Obviously the women who think these things are not representative of all feminists, yet as they all identify as such they discredit the label. The same is true with fundamentalists in any movement, yet it only seems to be modern feminism where there so many contradictory opinions and no agreement can be reached. The Westboro Baptists may call themselves Christians but most people don’t confuse them with your run of the mill friendly neighborhood Christian. What is the norm for a feminist though? It’s hard for me to take most of the self proclaimed feminists I have met seriously, as they continue to spout nonsense to further their agenda without giving any consideration to facts. I am not saying this lightly. Far too many women calling themselves feminists speak from personal experience not bothering to and sometimes resist supporting their arguments, relying solely on anecdotal evidence. While women experience many things that men will not, using “because I said so” as an argument just doesn’t cut it. Many of these women choose to dismiss counterarguments because of the race and gender of the person making them. It is only when a minority woman makes a contrary argument that they will listen, with their response tending to be patronizing – feeling the need to educate. That is so amazingly hypocritical and it boggles my mind that they don’t get this. This is also where the privilege crutch comes invoked as an association fallacy. I believe that privilege exists to an extent and that men may not always be aware of it, but to dismiss any objection a male makes to a claim made by feminists as the results of privilege is frustrating and a step backwards. It has even gone so far as to become an in joke meme of sorts which pops up on various feminist communities. If the issues are real then why are so many feminists afraid of debate? Male privilege is not accepted as fact except by those feminists who tend to use it to dismiss anything they don’t like coming out of the mouth of men. They have probably not addressed the arguments made against the idea, simply because a lot of the arguments are coming from men. Why resort to ad hominem attacks and seek comfort by confirmation bias? Why not engage in debate and make your claims on the strength of your arguments? This is another problem I noticed with feminism that is outlined in thisarticle, namely that all too often peer and critical review is denied, with opinions only being considered from those who already hold similar views. Given the state of feminism and feminists today, it only seems reasonable to dismiss the label feminism and feminist as they currently stand (at least until some sort of consensus arrives as to what feminism currently is or should be) and simply look at the inequalities and problems facing women and possible solutions for them. Basically, I want to get far away from the label of feminism because it seems to me that it has become tainted and has now become more of a hindrance than a help, not to mention it’s ambiguity. So with that said…, I’m going to look at the various issues and problems that I am aware of, look at the evidence I am aware of and then give my thoughts on it. I am well aware I may be ill-informed on many things or just thinking about it in the wrong way, in which case I hope to be corrected. I do hope that people interested in these issues read this post and provide me with some resources so I can better understand everything, as at the end of the day that is all I am trying to do.

Driving

The first thing I will mention is not an inequality or even really an issue, but a myth that continues to be propagated; the belief that women are better drivers than men. The reason this bugs me is because there is absolutely no evidence for this and because I have come across many women using this belief as evidence for various arguments. The main evidence or reasoning for this argument seems to be based on the fact that insurance companies charge women drivers lower premiums than men. OK. As we should all know correlation does not equal causation. Insurance companies don’t care about causes at all; they only care about patterns, such as users of Internet Explorer being considered safer than users of Firefox. It is true that women have fewer driving incidents than men, but there are a lot of factors as to why this is. Men tend to drive more hours than women, as well as taking more dangerous driving jobs such as long truck journeys. Assuming both genders are equal in driving ability then it is easy to see how men can be involved in more incidents than women. I don’t believe there is any reason to think one gender is innately better at driving than the other and until such a study is done it should not be assumed.

Sexism in the workplace

Sex discrimination in careers is a major issue as well as the glass ceiling. Put simply, like a lot of claims I think this issue is exaggerated. Is there a barrier for women to progress in their careers more so than men? Almost certainly. The questions are to what extent and what is the cause of this barrier? Most feminists seem to blame discrimination by men and even women in positions of power and to a lesser extent the patriarchy. While that may be a convenient reason, I don’t think it is entirely Accurate. A 2011 Rape One of the most fucked up things I have seen and part of the reason I think the term feminist has become so meaningless is that a significant portion of self proclaimed feminists advocate using false rape allegations to bring down the patriarchy. To be clear what they mean here is to falsely accuse innocent men of rape to have them removed from positions of power, which is justified because either no men are innocent, or the means justify the end. Obviously rape is a horrific issue that is unfortunately still a problem, but to advocating false accusations is in my opinion just as bad, if not in some cases worse. Anyone advocating such behavior is clearly not concerned with fairness and justice and I would hope feminists concerned with such things would be appalled to share the same label with such people. Another problem I noticed when it comes to rape is that….far too often women seem to attack anyone who dares to be skeptical or ask for proof of a rape claim. With many people there seems to be this attitude that a female claiming to be a victim of rape, which is simply ridiculous. Obviously and female making such a claim should be treated with counseling and comfort and whatever is necessary on the presumption that the claim is true. However when it comes to actually convicting a person, then the full chain of justice must be followed. Women do and have made false rape accusations, with various statistics showing the number of false rape claims to be unacceptably high. It’s also why devices such as thisare so problematic. With this type of guilty until proven innocent attitude accompany rape accusations, it becomes easy for a malicious woman to entrap a guy. Surely then such devices should be illegal as they are harmful and cannot be relied upon as evidence? The idea that only the evil white male patriarchy would doubt such claims or that no woman would make such a claim is such bullshit. I don’t know how people who have such beliefs are able to rationalize their world view coherently. It’s exactly that type of thinking, to automatically consider one type of claimant more credible than another which leads to inequalities and injustices, exactly the type of thing that we as a society should work to eliminate as much as possible. I also want to make the unpopular point here that if women dress provocatively then yes, of course they potentially attract more negative types of attention. A woman walking through a dangerous neighborhood in jeans and a jacket walking briskly is less likely to get hassled or raped than a woman walking in a miniskirt and low-cut top. I mean, it isn’t rocket science. Yet people get up in arms saying that the victim is never at fault. Well, of course the victim isn’t at fault but the victim could have perhaps decreased her chances of being a target. People know not to leave flashy stuff lying on their dashboards in a bad neighborhood, if they did so and the expensive items got stolen, is it not correct to say they should perhaps have known better?

Abortion

Abortion is obviously a very controversial issue, with no absolute answer. There are pertinent questions such as when do we consider that the life of the fetus trumps the life of the host? A woman owns her own body and the right to choose, but to what extent do we consider the baby inside human? I was appalled when I saw a girl in the US who was quite obviously 3 months pregnant or more. She had just felt the baby start kicking and was still considering getting an abortion. That seems inhuman to me. If the baby is kicking it has developed to a point where it is obviously going to be human…as opposed to a collection of cells which are just that. If a woman has not made the decision to abort by that stage, I feel it should be treated as though she has forfeited her right to choose. What about the Boston Legal scenario where sperm was stolen so a woman could get pregnant with a man of her choosing? In the show the woman offered the man oral sex and retained the resultant sperm without the man’s knowledge. If the man did not consent to this, should a court order an abortion? Surely as much as a woman owns her body a man owns his sperm to an extent. It’s one thing if a baby is an accidental result of intercourse but when sperm is stolen, what then? On the show the court acknowledged the violation but would not order the death of a potential new life. Surely however if we don’t consider zygotes and fetuses human to a certain point, a court ordered abortion would be the correct course of action dependent on how far along the woman was?

Are men more intelligent, creative or capable than women?

As I understand it, the short answer seems to be yes but not in a simple way. There is a hypothesisthat men tend to be more varied than women. This means there is a higher incidence of above average intelligent men, or men who are above average for any characteristic. What it also means is that there are far more men than women with below average intelligence or in some other factor. This may help to explain why more men tend to win things like the Nobel Prize, as well as explaining why there are more men failing to graduate high school or ending up in prison. The ideas that men are all simply savage dominating beasts or that men prevent women from advancing via the patriarchy are simplistic and derive from a preconceived bias. It is an excellent example of begging the question. Given a simple biological cause that is plausible and seems to be true, surely this theory is preferable to simply finding a reason to blame men? Obviously, some women are not going to like this theory. If it is correct, it means highly successful men are always going to outnumber highly successful women. However, I don’t see why that is a bad thing. Women are no less capable than men on average, but there are less likely to be exceptional women. This is a reflection of the differences between the sexes and how they adapted; it is by no means an indicator of the superiority or inferiority of one sex over another. What I would find disturbing is that even if we knew this theory to be correct, in our current overly PC society we would perceive the higher variance rate in males an error. Far too many people take the view that any natural imbalance is something that needs to be corrected; to be made equal along with all the falsely positive connotations that word has come to inherit. There would be mandates that equal numbers of men and women would need to win awards or be selected for positions, even if that didn’t make sense. If awards should only be awarded on the merit of research or discoveries, why does it matter if it a man who more often will make the discovery, if it isn’t due to sexism or the patriarchy?

Brains

What about differences in brains? We know that there is a size difference of the brains in men and women, but does this equate to any significant difference in intellectual ability? I would not think so and there does not seem to be any indication that this is the case. Women consistently score with scores in the same ranges as men, indicating that women have no inherent cognitive disadvantage. It would seem then that the differences in the brain would be related to regulating the different functions of the body rather than anything cognitive. It is interesting to observe male to female transsexuals under hormone replacement therapy, as their brains tend to slightly reduced in size to a standard female size. I’m not sure what testing has been done, but I doubt any impact on cognitive or creative ability as been observed. Spatial ability is one of the most cited examples of the differences between men and women. Various testing has repeatedly shown men have a better ability to manipulate 3D objects in their mind. It seems plausible to me that men could have developed an advantage in this area independent of women, given the hunter-gather culture that humans came from. Being able to judge where prey is going to be and accurately aim for it would be one hell of a useful skill. In modern times it seems that many types of video games make use of this skill, which may be why many shooting titles are male dominated. There are other theories which may be contributing reasons as well, but surely if males are more suited to those types of games, there are going to be more males playing such games? A friend of mine suggested that there is no innate difference in spatial ability and rather it is something developed. She informed me of a study done by the University of Toronto that showed that differences in spatial ability between the genders was eliminated after both groups played a video game for a few hours. This may well be so, but it would seem to me this is then a case of female learning spatial ability rather than having it innately. Video games that require a good spatial ability are a recent development, only coming to prominence in the 90’s. Tests of spatial ability between the sexes has been ongoing for many decades, which have consistently shown males as having an advantage, when video games were not a factor. The question is if males do have a spatial ability advantage, what do females have as a counterpart advantage? Language ability?

Education

There is a problemwith education at the moment in that with all the focus to correct for the many decades in which girls were seen as less of a priority and less capable boys are now being left behind. Instead of equality there seems to be a primary focus on girls which is simply causing the same problem in a different way. This is a well understood issue and has been known for a while now, yet what are we doing to correct it? Nothing. As an allegedly civilized society we should be working to make sure all our children regardless of gender are being focused on equally and being giving everything they need to learn and understand so they can be the best they can be. This focus on girls and ignoring boys is just as bad as the reverse, so why is it acceptable? Some of the more annoying feminists like to cite that women tend to earn more degrees than men on average. It’s also true that a large portion of mature age stay at home parents are now getting degrees by distance, which accounts for a large slant in numbers. In general while there will be slants for different fields for the most part the gender gap in universities is not significant. That may be changing but as things stand, it is not. I would like to see the end of this issue being misrepresented to try and sell the point that women are superior in intellectual ability to men and were simply never allowed to flourish before. I found it interesting when reading an issue of Popular Science that the adverts seemed mainly geared towards males. They may simply know that demographic for that particular magazine happens to be male, but given the amount of women interested in and studying or working in a science field it seemed odd.

Are women less funny than men?

I think the issue of women being funny or less funny than men is interesting. Anecdotally I feel like women are less funny than men and objectively there are far less women working in the comedy industry. According to a feminist friend of mine this is because comedy is male dominated and the white male hegemony won’t let women succeed. I think that’s bullshit. If women are funny, they can succeed in comedy. It genuinely seem to me that most women working in comedy are not as funny as men, or perhaps it is fairer to say their humor is not as universal as that of the males working in comedy. Jokes about female specific things such as menstruation or faking orgasms can be funny….but all too often most female comedians seem to rely on these clichés. Male comedians are not restricted to fart and dick jokes, so why are women not branching out in the same way? It seems that some study has actually been done into this area that shows that women and men did not differ in what they found funny but women have a much higher reward if the joke actually was funny. There is also some subsequent speculationthat men “evolved” to be funny due to societal pressure. Men were expected to entertain or make women laugh and so they became practiced at this, learning to be funny while growing up. This is an interesting theory. Women have no less ability than men to be funny, but simply don’t learn to be growing up just as most men won’t learn something as a byproduct of a female gender role. There is inherent advantage with males, nor any reason to suppose discrimination. Just a product of society. Of course, this seems limited to western society at the moment; it would be interesting to see if there are differences, perceived or real between the comedic ability of men and women in other cultures. Also, the word comedienne is stupid. Just what is wrong with comedian?

Female characters in entertainment

Another interesting topic is how women are portrayed in media, whether it is films, books, comics or whatever. Film and TV seems easy to simply dismiss, at least in some ways. I watch an awful lot of TV and film, a lot of it diverse…and can’t think of any problems. Not in any single movie or show at least. There can sometimes be trends such as damsels in distress or women falling in love with a male straight away. For the most part however I think the diversity of female characters tends to reflect the diversity of female characters in life. Some people may have an issue with a film that shows a shy submissive woman being manipulated by a man…but that may just be the character and that may be part of the story. It’s not realistic to require that every female character be written as a strong independent woman when not every woman is strong and independent. When I watch most films or shows the female characters are believable, so why is there still such an issue? Something of a trend I have noticed is it seems common these days to have a strong female lead backed up by an insecure and inept male. Probably the best example(I can think of right now) is in Warehouse 13 where both the female agent’s partner and love interests respectively are goofy and often cause problems or simple serve as comic relief. When women played second fiddle to strong male leads that was reflective of the society at the time. We have moved past that, yet instead of just writing characters equally it is common to have males be helpless and inferior to the female lead. This isn’t reflective of society and just seems to be fueled by spite. It may be just a random trend, and as above some characters may be like that which is fine. The problem is when it becomes common place, as those characters combinations are not that common. What about video games? I can’t speak too broadly on this subject as I tend to stick to FPS games with the odd strategy game now and then. Most FPS games tend to have strong male leads either fighting evil humans or monsters. It’s true that female leads are less common, although they are not unheard of e.g. Lara Croft, Alyx Vance, Jill Valentine and others. For the most part it would seem women are portrayed in an accurate or positive way in most games, even more so in RPG games. Still it is an interesting issue because there are a few games that have caused controversy. One of the most famous examples would be the later GTA series of games where it is possible to hire prostitutes and then assault them in a variety of ways. Honestly though this has little to do with the game. The GTA games are sandbox games, meaning you are dropped into a world with a variety of characters, vehicles, weapons and scenarios. You can do a lot of creative interesting things. The game doesn’t force or even suggest for you to hire prostitutes or assault them, so for people that enjoy doing that it is an individual issue, not related to the game. What about the decision to include prostitutes in the first place? I would argue it simply fits the world and setting of the games. The fact that prostitutes exist in the game simply mirrors the fact that prostitutes in real life and are incorporated to set the tone of the game. Where cities are controlled by various mafia families and police are incredible ineffective, it stands to reason prostitution would be rampant at least in certain districts. One of the most disappointing experiences I had was meeting a self proclaimed feminist when I was in Vancouver, who was convinced that having games such as GTA3/IV be legal leads to an increase in rape incidents. It did not matter that there is no reason to infer such a thing or that the studies done tend to discredit such theories. I don’t even think the games are particularly demeaning to women, considering most of the main characters are males and all portrayed as sleazy, cowardly corrupt backstabbers. The thing is such characters make sense within the context of the game. For some reason some feminists seem to think every female character in every game should be a positive representation of all women everywhere. I just don’t understand that. A game that also caused some controversy was the long awaited Duke Nukem Forever. Duke Nukem was one of the main icons of gaming in the early 90’s, a archetypal male womanizing action hero who saved the world more than once. Generally women were not portrayed too much in these games, and when they were they tended to be strippers simply because Duke was in a strip club. So, nothing wrong there. However in the most recent game one of the multiplayer modes is a spin on capture the flag known as capture the babe. ‘babes’ are captured and if they struggle are spanked to calm them down. This does seem unnecessary. I have absolutely no problem when Duke revels in his sexism in the single player game…, but there seems to be little reason to have women as literal objects to be abused and traded around. It isn’t even true to the spirit of the game, as much as it may be trying to be. At the same time, it’s just a game. I certainly don’t believe it should be censored and it is unlikely to have any effect on attempts to correct inequalities…so surely it should just be forgotten? The market will see it as stupid and it will soon be forgotten. I don’t see a problem with a game being made like that just as I wouldn’t if there was a capture the dude game with guys being uncontrollably horny idiots who had to be led around. Such things are stupid and don’t tend to be successful, so why prohibit their creation or distribution? What about comics? Women in Refrigerators is an interesting website that caused a mild controversy when it launched in 1999. Basically Gail Simone, a fan and writer of comic books thought that women in comics suffered a disproportionate numbers of horrible deaths to males and were often not leading characters. The website was an interesting commentary on female characters in comics. What made it interesting was that the website was not asserting anything; Gail simply stated something she thought was true and asked for input. The responses are interesting to read with some people being offended at the very idea and responding with insult while others gave well reasoned arguments for responses. As for the issue…the website takes its name from an issue of Green Lantern where Kyle Rayner comes home to find his girlfriend has been killed and stuffed inside his refrigerator. A gruesome death to be sure, but it is hardly representative of how female characters are treated in comics. My experience is limited by the comics I have and tend to read, so is not broadly representative; still I get the feeling that there isn’t really an issue. There is certainly more male leading characters than female, although there is hardly a lack of strong female characters with Lady Shiva, Catwoman, Talia Al Ghul and Cassandra Cain being some of my favorites. As far as how women are treated in comics they don’t seem to be treated too differently to men. There are strong and weak, evil and good characters any of which are as susceptible to death or tragedy, just as the larger roster of male characters are. If Women in Refrigerators had been making a positive claim I would have dismissed it as nonsense, but simply asking the question provided a forum for interesting input. If things are disproportionate I would think it is only in the number of characters, not how they are treated. This is because most of the characters were created in a time when having a woman superhero beating up men would probably not have sold too well. Those characters have all been around for 50 years or so…more female characters will continue to appear but it takes time to build up the loyalty that the male characters have. That’s likely all there is to it. A main thing I noticed is that as far as names go female characters tend to be girls and not women. Supergirl, Powergirl, Invisible Girl(now Woman) etc. It does seem that the male characters tend to have more development and become new characters such as Dick Grayson, Tim Drake and Kon-El. I don’t know if this is a fair assessment as my knowledge is actually quite limited. I know what I would like to see is less equalization of female characters in comic books. Males tend to have most of their skin covered often with armor, so why the hell would female heroes not do the same, especially non powered heroes like Huntress? DC Was meant to rectify this with the New 52 yet looking at the new Supergirl comicbook it seems they found a way to justify it. Oh well, maybe they want to keep the demographic as primarily young males. The New 52 has certainly caused some controversy. One of the things I found most interesting was how women were going to be portrayed in the New 52. For the most part it seems like women are not exploited too much and there are many strong female characters to be had. Of course, the first issue of Red Hood and the Outlaws is what caused a lot of controversy, as it has Starfire being sexually promiscuous and being treated as a sex object. The first problem I had with this was that the issue was controversial because of a 7 year old girls reaction to the portrayal. Despite the fact that the comic is rated T for teens and the child was only ever used to the Teen Titans cartoon version of the character (markedly different from any comic book character) her reaction is being used as evidence of…something. Of course it can pretty much be ignored because that book was never meant for 7 year olds. Thisarticle is very well written and makes many good points, although I think unreasonable conclusions are being extrapolated from one comic book….which ends up misrepresenting how bad things actually are. Considering the Starfire character I don’t think her portrayal was that bad….and even if it is, so what? It isn’t an indication of Women in Comics….it’s one character. All the strong female characters like Batgirl, Batwoman, Lois Lane, Wonder Woman, Catwoman are ignored and Starfire is used as the sole representation of women in the New 52. Either that’s dumb or a deliberate attempt to misrepresent things. Catwoman is interesting as well because she happened to changed into her costume for a few panes and apparently because we saw some of her breast in a bra she is being exploited. Nevermind that she is a strong character who is doing interesting things and that it is impressive that she is escaping as she is getting changed…oh no, that one glimpse of boob must dominate everything and it is the only information we should use to draw conclusions. Sigh. If Batman were running shirtless as he put on his costume (which I’m sure has happened) would it be a problem? No. So does this mean we can never show a woman without her top on even in a bra? I mean…it’s hard for me to think of a better justification to show a quarter of Catwoman’s left boob than her escaping unprepared, but apparently that isn’t good enough. As much as woman are exploited in comics there are sometimes occasions when it serves the story to see them in their underwear or naked or whatever. Assuming they are being exploited anytime a female is even a little bit naked in a comic undermines the actual problem. Another thing I did want to note is that I find it interesting that Eminem was controversial because of his misogynist lyrics. Where in this day and age it is controversial and not simply rejected outright. I mean, if he were to make songs with racial slurs simply to express his frustration at someone who happened to be of that race that would not be seen as OK. Well…I don’t think the two issues are so similar upon further inspection. Many racial slurs come from a time when minority races were seen as less than human. Of course we know better now and reject such terms. Derogatory terms for women on the other hand don’t tend to view women as less than human with the exception of ‘cunt’. Every class of people has insults attributed to them…and given the songs Eminem makes which are either personal and expressing anger or going for shock value…I’m OK with it. I know people who are not racist who use racist terms when extremely angry at someone of a certain race just as people use sex specific insults to express extreme anger against a specific person. The only difference is millions of people heard him do so.

Women in Film

Do women have a barrier to getting roles that men don’t? Are there significantly less female rolls then there are male roles? I would not think so and I can’t find much to back this assertion up. It seems simple to me that given half the population is women, any movie or show wanting to reflect the world is going to have an even distribution of men and women within. Obviously there are exceptions…comedies with an all male or all female cast ala the hangover and bridesmaids, or other genre movies for whatever reason have a skewed gender ration. Are there significantly more movies with a majority male cast than female casts? It’s somewhat of a difficult thing to research, but simply looking at the movies that have come out within the last few years doesn’t seem to support the notion. Even if there are a roughly equal number of roles for males and females, what about lead roles? Again, I think the gender distribution in the real world generally carries over to film. Subjectively in most of the films and TV shows I watch there seems to be an equal number of male and female characters. I just now looked through the 100 or so movies I have handy as well as the 20 or so TV shows I watch to get an indication and the distribution seems equal, with males having a very slight advantage in having a lead role. Of course, my random little test shows absolutely nothing, as I am excluding a great many shows and movies with female leads that I don’t watch or don’t have. Is there anything to the idea that there are less female lead roles? OK, what about the type of roles? There seems to be an increased demand for “strong female characters”, even when this doesn’t always make sense or reflect the reality of the world the film may be trying to impart. I’m all for female action heroes and strong female characters, but not when it is unrealistic and forced. There seems to be somewhat of a trend in the last few years with strong female characters having a bumbling nerdy male sidekick. Which is fine because hey, the characters might just be like that. But when it frequent and no longer reflects reality, that’s when it becomes annoying, just as much as a damsel in distress character would be. A good example is Agent Pearce on Burn Notice who seems to need to assert herself for the few minutes she is on screen each episode. See, there is a way to write strong female characters without having them make the audience aware they are strong female characters every few minutes. I think a large part of the reason there may be more lead male roles or stronger male characters is because of the large percentage of work that is adapted. Most work written in the last century will have more male characters than female characters as protagonists, which is simply a reflection of the times they were written in. I don’t like the idea of changing characters just for the sake of ithowever as times change and new female characters are created I would expect things to even out. I don’t think there is significant discrimination against women in the entertainment industry and the idea that its harder for women to get roles does not seem to be founded on anything solid. For every acclaimed male actor there is an equally acclaimed female actor. I really don’t understand where the notion that women are at a disadvantage in this area comes from. A perceived imbalance perhaps? Based on what? Which leads me to wonder, why do we have different gender categories for the Oscars? It links back with my bit on gender segregation above. Is it really necessary? Women are generally going to take on female roles, and as women are different from men that will be reflected in the characters. But….is the acting different? I don’t think so. What reason is there to have separate awards just on the basis of gender, if we don’t have separate awards on the basis of gender, or for that matter height or weight? Take a movie like Doubt, which had Philip Seymour Hoffman as a very strong Male lead and Meryl Streep as a strong female lead. Why not enter them both and simply choose which one most people think gave the stronger performance? What rationale is there to have separate award categories?

Trangendered/Transexual women

I tend to have a materialistic view of humans. I don’t think we are unique in any way aside from having a greater intelligence than most other animals. I don’t think we have any spiritual aspect….everything we are is the sum of our biology. I say this, because there seems to be a view that to be a woman is something beyond just the physical. This, I don’t understand. A woman is a human without a Y chromosome, and with a slightly different brain and hormonal makeup as well as different reproductive organs. That’s about it. Taking male to female transsexual for instance, I would agree they are not genetically female, but if they have the same hormonal makeup and brain structure, are they not for all purposes an infertile woman? What about if we develop the technology to change the chromosomes of a man into a woman? Would there still be people who would consider such a person not to be female because they were not born that way? How is that relevant if such a person would be indistinguishable from a genetically born female? The main reason I included a section on TS women is from reading this(original source down) article. Note that the women advocating the article consider themselves feminists, yet are completely sexist and ignorant when it comes to transgendered women. I find such an article appalling and feel this is yet another good example of why I feel the term feminism is losing value, when crackpots such as these use the label as well.

Conclusion

So, the above is my thoughts on various gender issues and feminism in general. I do hope that this article will foster discussion and that I will learn something as a result of it. If not, it won’t be the first 10,000 words I’ve wasted time on. As may have been obvious I feel that most issues are simply overblown with men/the patriarchy/white male hegemony being used as a convenient scapegoat to further a view despite there not being evidence of that being the case or other reasons being equally or more likely. Which is not to deny that there are still issues, but just as things have been improving for the last few decades I think that they will continue to improve and an equilibrium of sorts will be reached. Discrimination of any sort will never be entirely absent, the goal should only to be to have such behavior be rare and for it to stand out. I believe the problem will right itself with education and as the current younger generation starts to take over and replaces many of the current people in power who hold sexist views. When that happens however, I don’t think it can be attributed to modern day feminism. It can be attributed to the aftermath of 1st and 2nd wave feminism and education, with people realizing it simply doesn’t make sense to discriminate on the basis of sex. As well as increasing study done into the differences between the sexes which, while not everybody may like the answers it can only be a good thing if we understand ourselves better. I wanted to get this out sooner, indeed I wrote half of this in April. Still, better late than never. I also wanted to backup some of my opinions more thoroughly with far more citations to credible studies; as opposed to the few opinion pieces I have indirectly referencing studies now. Many of my opinions are based on things I have read previously and I have not looked into many things that thoroughly. However, I am deciding to post this now as I would rather spend time writing on other things I want to write, and as I am not currently a student have trouble looking up journal articles anyway. I hope that people will read this and that if the foundation of any of my opinions or arguments are doubted, that they can be discussed in the comments and there we can cite various sources to support our arguments. Ultimately, that is how these sort of issues must be discussed; with an agreed upon premise and a logical conclusion. I look forward to receiving many interesting responses.

References

    1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male_privilege#Against_the_notion_of_.27male_privilege.27
    2. http://www.debunker.com/texts/noblelie.html
    3. http://consumerist.com/2010/11/capital-one-made-me-different-loan-offers-depending-on-which-browser-i-used.html

http://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/federalstate/women-government-achievements/

  1. http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=man&allowed_in_frame=0
  2. http://www.pinkhostels.com/about.html
  3. http://www.antirape.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=6&Itemid=18
  4. http://www.psy.fsu.edu/~baumeistertice/goodaboutmen.htm
  5. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/failing-boys/part-1-failing-boys-and-the-powder-keg-of-sexual-politics/article1758791/
  6. http://news.stanford.edu/news/2005/november9/med-humor-110905.html
  7. http://www.vanityfair.com/culture/features/2007/01/hitchens200701
  8. http://www.unheardtaunts.com/wir/
  9. http://io9.com/5844355/a-7+year+old-girl-responds-to-dc-comics-sexed+up-reboot-of-starfire
  10. http://www.comicsalliance.com/2011/09/22/starfire-catwoman-sex-superheroine/
  11. https://allthatiswrong.wordpress.com/2011/08/11/thoughts-on-comic-book-characters-and-race/
  12. http://www.birdofparadox.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/%E2%80%9CTranswomen%E2%80%9D-Are-Merely-Castrated-Men-TEXT-ONLY.pdf
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September 26, 2011

Thoughts on Deus Ex: Human Revolution

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 2:43 am

I finished playing Deus Ex: Human Revolution recently. A lot of reviewers were saying it was one of the best games of the year and equal to or better than the original. While it is certainly a worthy game and an excellent successor I think the fact that it was getting ratings of 9/10 or above are an indication of just how low the bar has fallen for PC games.

One of the more annoying things I noticed was the long loading times on PC. So many games got past this issue years ago; I find it hard to understand why every game has not gotten past it. I thought the transition from talking to a character to a semi-cinematic was fairly seamless and nicely done. Having only 20 saves seemed an unnecessary limit, especially for a game where your actions can have different consequences later on.

When compared to the original I found there was less of an RPG element and far less weapons available. There seemed to be no equivalent to a baton for example and while you could creep up on people and do some flash martial arts to subdue them, it just wasn’t the same…nor was it that stealthy. I also missed the ability to sneak up on people and pickpocket, something entirely lacking from the game. I also didn’t like that you are forced to kill the bosses, which somewhat negates having the differently styles of play available. Although I found the boss fights easy and the Russian girl boss got stuck running in water and I killed the last boss while he was hopping over the wall in about 2 seconds.

Adam Jenson’s character also didn’t seem to interesting to me, although I don’t know why. I feel like he was designed well but never really fleshed out. Ex cop blamed for tragedy now doing private security working with his ex….aaaaand what? Apart from a poor attempt at Christian Bale’s Batman voice there wasn’t much else too him. Although he does like to wear sunglasses at night.

As for gameplay I found it getting repetitive. Sneak past a room full of guards or kill everyone then speak or obtain something, then repeat. Later on when I got enough energy and cloak augmentations I would just run past all the guards who would know I was there, but couldn’t see me to shoot. I would normally make it to the elevator just as they saw me at which point I would disappear to wherever I had to go. It may seem like defeating the purpose of the game, but at the same time it is surely more practical than going desk by desk hoping not to be seen at all. Before if I got seen I pretty much ended up killing everybody because it too far too long for them to go back to not being alarmed. Which, after killing everybody I could then walk around freely anyway. Speaking of which, it was far too easy to kill all the police. I didn’t even have to hide the bodies really. I felt like the Police should have been more challenging and if fired upon relentlessly hunted you down like the UN staff in the original game.

I would have liked a random mugging attempt or something to show how dangerous the city was and just how some people feel about people with augmentations, which would have added more character than simply hearing a woman’s scream being repeated every 10 seconds. There was also an annoying bug, when exiting out of the search screen your input would be processed twice causing the escape menu to come up or a weapon to fire, which could be frustrating depending on circumstances. I also didn’t like the en which seemed to close to a zombie game….and how did Zhao explode from…information? I don’t understand why there are open endings if only one is canon in future DLCs or sequels. I did however like some of the references…Eliza for an AI, room 802.11 for a wireless broadcast station. It was also kind of cool to be in Montreal and see future Montreal in the game. Ultimately it was a fun game that brought back fond memories, but was lacking in the RPG aspect and too repetitive to truly be great. I’d think it would be a 7/10 at the most.

September 25, 2011

So the Caves of Steel is being adapted

Filed under: Entertainment — allthatiswrong @ 11:33 pm

According to ComingSoon The Caves of Steel is to be adapted into a film. Isaac Asimov was one of my favorite Sci-Fi authors and just authors in general while growing up. The Caves of Steel was one of if not the first sci-fi novel I read featuring robots in a prominent role showing how society would potentially deal with them. With the premise being an intriguing detective story set in the future with class issues also being central to the plot, I think it could make for an excellent adaptation to film, if done correctly it could rival Blade Runner. I’m not so sure this will happen however.

The rights to the Foundation series lie with Roland Emmerich who is the only person less qualified than Uew Boll to handle such an adaption. The Bicentennial Man was actually not a bad adaptation although I didn’t like that Disney approach that was taken with the story. I, Robot also was not entirely bad and I actually thought it was clever how they ended up incorporating the short stories in certain scenes. It was interesting to see the Zeroth Law as a catalyst for robots terrifying humans, the very thing Asimov eschewed.

As for the Caves of Steel adaptation? It will be directed by a new team who have no track record or work to judge them by until their first film, Maggie is release. The script is being written by John Scott III who has, according to IMDB, never written a script before. I don’t have a lot of hope for this adaptation, but will be paying keen attention to see how it turns out.

September 23, 2011

Thoughts on Batman in the New 52

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 5:13 am

Batman has been largely unchanged by the New 52 reboot although not completely untouched. There have been some changes which I have to wonder about the thinking behind them, because they just seem strange. Firstly would be the streamlining of the Robin’s. Batman #1 shows Damien as the current Robin with Dick and Tim as past Robins. Which would be absolutely fine except they all appear to be under 20. Dick seems a good foot shorter than Batman and 18 at most, which seem odd considering he had grown into Nightwing and looks far from 18 in Nightwing #1. Likewise Tim looks maybe 15 which would suit for him being a Teen Titan, although I would have though closer to 17. It isn’t that bad….but certainly seems odd to me.

Batman and Robin introduced the development that Batman is going to stop mourning his parent’s death and start celebrating their Wedding Anniversary. The Death of Batman’s parents is his motivation for who he is….it seems odd that he would be “over it” after 10 years of being Batman. This is the most troubled, full of turmoil, internal suffering character in the DCU and one of the most interesting. This new optimistic attitude is not becoming of the character and seems like a change to make the character more appealing to new readers. Aye. Another odd observation is that Batman, who always is always several steps ahead allowed very low level thugs to steal the Batmobile. Allowed implies it was planned, but it appeared to be something Batman did not anticipate. I also thought in odd in Detective Comics #1 that he said to Gordon “I’ve always been in Gotham. I am Gotham. I mean…it’s Gordon, not some thug you’re trying to intimidate. You can drop the theatrics somewhat.

What about the costume? I think it’s excellent. Some people stated Batman has more armor now but he doesn’t seem to have anymore than he did before, i.e. limited to mainly cowl,globes and boots. The actual costume is still, I assume, a Kevlar weave or some such thing and Catwoman #1 shows it is still more like cloth than armor, allowing Batman to maintain his acrobatic skills.

The only villain that seems to be changed is The Riddler, sporting a shaved head Mohawk and question marks on his scalp. I don’t like this. I thought it was far more interesting having Eddie attempting to be taking seriously as a SuperVillian and being shunned by the community, dealing with him feeling pathetic. If they were going to change a villain I wish they would have had Killer Croc be human size and explore him having to hang on to his humanity, as opposed to just being an animalistic hulk. Which is boring.

Perhaps the strangest change is that Gordon is now ginger. I wonder how Flashpoint resulted in that. So far it is interesting, with Detective Comics being spectacular. I will definitely keep reading for the moment.

Top 30 The Simpsons episodes of the last 10 seasons

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , — allthatiswrong @ 5:06 am

I find it annoying with people claiming that The Simpsons has declined in quality, is no longer funny and that the best episodes were from the first 10 seasons. While it is true that the show has changed in tone from time to time, it has always remained funny and a quality show in my opinion. Out of 22 seasons I would say season 20 was the only truly bad season and even then a lot of the episodes still had some good jokes.

When looking at lists of the best Simpsons episodes the selection is always limited to the first 10 seasons. As such I have made a list of the Top 30 Simpsons episodes from the last 10 seasons. Many of these episodes are not as memorable as say Flaming Moe’s or Homer at the Bat, however I think they are still pretty damn good. They are not ordered or rated above each other and are simply arranged by order of appearance. It’s also nice to note that since Season 18 the show seems to have gone back to it’s sentimental roots, which is wonderful.

  1. Bye Bye Nerdie s12e16 – A great episode where Lisa tries to make friends with a new girl, who turns out to be a bully causing Lisa to investigate and determine the cause of bullying.
  2. Trilogy of error s12e18 – A story from three different points of view in the style of Run Lola Run. A very funny episode with many funny moments.
  3. She of Little Faith s13e06 – Lisa questioning her faith and embracing Buddhism with a pep talk by Richard Gere. A funny and meaningful episode, one of the best for sure.
  4. I Am Furious (Yellow) s13e18 – Bart finally creates a comic book character, an appearance by Stan Lee and a fantastic transformation of Homer into the Hulk.
  5. How I Spent My Strummer Vacation s14e02 – Homer becomes a rocker at camp under the tutelage of rock legends. What more needs to be said?
  6. Three Gays of the Condo s14e07 – Homer making friends with gay guys and the hilarity that ensues, as well as a great appearance by Weird Al.
  7. Moe Baby Blues s14e22 – This episode fleshes out Moe’s loneliness a bit more while having many great Godfather references.
  8. My Mother the Carjacker s15e02 – The second appearance of Homer’s mother with another sentimental episode and great performance by Glenn Close.
  9. I, (Annoyed Grunt)-Bot s15e09 – Homer pretends to be a robot so Bart can participate in robot wars …a sentimental episode with many funny moments.
  10. The Way We Weren’t s15e20 – I love all the Homer and Marge flashback episodes. This one shows that Homer and Marge liked each other before they even knew it which I think is sweet.
  11. There’s Something About Marrying s16e10 – Homer starts marrying gay couples for money and Patty comes out as gay.
  12. Goo Goo Gai Pan s16e12 –Selma wants to have a child and ends up going with the Simpsons to China to adopt a daughter.
  13. Don’t Fear the Roofer s16e16 – Ray Romano is Homer’s best new friend which everybody doubts exist, until Stephen Hawking explains everything.
  14. Thank God, It’s Doomsday s16e19 –Homer becomes convinced the rapture is coming and tries to protect his family, only to be made a fool of when his prediction is incorrect.
  15. Million Dollar Abie s17e16 – Grampa wants to kill himself and after failing to do so finds a new lease on life. One of the better ones from Season 17.
  16. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bangalore s17e17 – The main plot of this episode isn’t so great, Homer going to India however it is still entertaining and the subplot with Richard Dean Anderson being kidnapped by Patty and Selma was fantastic.
  17. Moe’N’a Lisa s18e06 – Moe’s loneliness is further explored as he finds he has a hidden talent as a poet
  18. Springfield Up s18e13 – A parody of the Up series showing young Springfielders at different points of their lives.
  19. Stop or My Dog Will Shoot s18e20 – Bart gets a snake and Santa’s Little Helper becomes a police dog and grows distant from Bart in the process.
  20. 24 Minutes s18e21 – An excellent parody of 24 starring Keither Sutherland.
  21. You Kent Always Say What You Want s18e22 – Kent Brockman fleshed out a bit more as he loses his job for saying a cussword on TV
  22. I Don’t Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings s19e04 – Marge helps a criminal played by Steve Buscemi. A very funny episode with some great references.
  23. Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind s19e09 – Homer has to recount his nightly experiences when he things he has done something horrible but is unable to remember.
  24. The Debarted s19e13 – A great parody of The Departed.
  25. Take My Life, Please s20e10 – Homer finds out his life could have been drastically different if he had won an election in high school.
  26. Million Dollar Maybe s21e11 – Homer wins the lottery but can’t tell Marge, so instead does a lot of sweet things in secret.
  27. Chief of Hearts s21e18 – Homer and Chief Wiggum become good friends.
  28. Moe Letter Blues s21e21 – Moe sends letters to Homer’s, Apu’s and Reverend Lovejoy’s wives to make their husbands realize how lucky they are.
  29. How Munched is That Birdie in the Window? s22e07 – Bart doesn’t want anything to do with Santa’s Little Helper after he kills a pigeon
  30. Flaming Moe s22e11 – Moe turns his bar into a gay bar and ends up pretending to be gay to keep his new friends.

If you don’t know any of these episodes by name, you can check on Wikipedia and if you haven’t seen any, they are well worth a watch before dismissing The Simpsons as unfunny. There are still quite a few that I didn’t leave in as well, such as The Blunder Years, Strong Arms of the Ma, Weekend at Burnsie’s and many more. I should also note, even the unfunniest episode of The Simpsons is better written and more entertaining than any episode of Family Guy.

September 21, 2011

Why I don’t like travel guidebooks

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 7:52 am

I strongly dislike using any travel guidebook. When I first started traveling I couldn’t justify the price and didn’t want to carry it around however after years of exploring, using the internet and talking to local people guide books seem overpriced, factually incorrect, biased, subjective and out of date. It frustrates me when I see people traveling going only to places and only going to what is listed in their guidebooks. Even worse I’ve seen local people suggest things to see and people rejecting it because it isn’t in their guidebook. I don’t think guidebooks are completely without merit…they can provide interesting information on the culture and history of a country. It’s just when people use them as the sole authority on things to see or do and how to act that it becomes frustrating.

A good example of such people is over on the Lonely Planet travel forums. In particular the user bzookaj has little idea of what he talks about but gives advice with full authority. An American who has entered the US on a VWP, yet argues with those who have claiming to know better under the guise of giving advice. Such people are frustrating and anecdotally seem to be a main part of the demographic for guidebooks. I’d guess the remainder are people who just happen to buy them at an airport or bookshop and don’t actually rely on them.

So if you don’t use guidebooks, what can you do? Walking around and just exploring is a very nice fun thing to do and who knows what you may find? What people don’t understand is this is all the authors of guidebooks did; so why limit yourself to their discoveries when you can find your own? I’ve eaten a lot of delicious restaurants and found a lot of fun bars/clubs from doing this and haven’t missed out in the least, despite not relying on a guidebook.

The Internet is also obviously a great source of information. Various travel blogs tend to come up when searching various districts, cities or countries as well as websites like the excellent Wikitravel. Wikitravel is excellent source although much like Wikipedia less popular pages (destinations) don’t tend to be maintained as often as the more popular pages so can be out of date. Hostels and Hotels generally have a lot of good information as well that they are more than happy to share with you, although some business recommendations may have a commission motive. A lot of cities also have tourist information booths in prominent locations which is a good source of unbiased reliable free information.

As I said above guidebooks do have a place I think…not as a travel guide but more as a Cliffs Notes style book on a given destination. At a glance it can be nice to learn some customs and see some basic information, but having a guidebook dictate your trip or even be any type of authority is just stupid. I might have thought that with the current generation of travelers having grown up with the internet that guidebooks would be less popular but that doesn’t seem to be the case. It doesn’t seem to be an issue of people not able to use alternate sources to guidebooks but rather people being unable to think and investigate for themselves and deferring to some authority. I would have thought such a characteristic less likely among well seasoned travelers, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

September 19, 2011

Why I don’t think the Universe can be destroyed

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 11:43 pm

I watched the Star Trek episode titled ‘ The Alternative Factor’ recently. What the plot could be reduced down to is that Kirk had to stop a person from one universe from coming into contact with counterpart in another universe or the universe would be destroyed. This cliché recurs pretty often in many Sci-Fi shows movies and novels. I think it is poor writing…given how frequently such events seem to happen with the destruction of the universe only being diverted by the unlikely happenstance of the hero being aware of the problem before it’s too late. Given the apparent ease of which the universe can be destroyed it would seem such universe destroying events should be somewhat frequent. They don’t have to be, as it would only take one such event without a Hero to prevent it and then the universe would be…gone.

Given that the Universe has never been destroyed in real life or in fiction (well, probably in some fiction) then it seems likely that any universe destroying event would not actually destroy the universe, but simply affect some small subsection of it. The hero for whatever reason believes the destruction of the universe will result and so works to stop it, surely saving some lives or resolving a domestic conflict, but not averting the destruction of the universe as it was never actually a possibility.

It seems likely that with all the various ways the universe could be destroyed…crossing over into the anti-matter universe, screwing with the timeline ala Timecop…whatever else, that it is probably happening frequently. Yet, the universe seems more resilient than most people give it credit for. At the most it would seem like a small centralized destruction effect….probably even as big as a solar system and certainly nowhere near as big as the universe. Obviously using universe in place of galaxy or solar system is meant to be more epic, yet it just doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. What isn’t explained is why the people of the future aren’t smart enough to realize this.

You could say that perhaps only one universe destroying threat happens per show, so only once in each respect ‘universe’ is it encountered and so it is not actually that common a threat. Yet, given the easy access to the technology that causes the threat, why would it not be assumed to be common? Lazarus from the aforementioned Star Trek episode was surely not the only person in either universe to have access to craft to traverse both universes? In the end it just seems like lazy writing. Its one thing I appreciated about Stargate, as they were concerned enough with the galaxy and seemed smart enough to realize the universe was unlikely to get destroyed. If only more writers could realize the same.

Another minor Facebook security issue

Filed under: Tech — Tags: , , — allthatiswrong @ 11:38 pm

I noticed a recent flaw in Facebooks security resolution process recently. After being asked to confirm my identity simply because I was using a different computer, I apparently took too long to identify my friends in their photos. However, I was able to try two more times before being locked out. In which case Facebook provided the exact same photos with the same selection of people to name in order to confirm my identity. What this means is that I could conceivably attempt to logon to a victims Facebook account from an unauthorized device to get such a prompt, and then take my time to research the answers.

Twenty minutes was the approximate time before my session expired, which gives roughly one hour to come up with the answers. This may not seem terribly difficult given the proclivity with which people tag their friends or publish photos on blogs. It would be even easier if the victim and attacker had a mutual friend in common on Facebook, as they would likely be able to see a lot more photos. In fact, perhaps even searching each name in Facebook could show the face, which would allow for the questions to be answered correctly.

This isn’t a minor flaw in any sense of the word, however it does seem quite possibly that the process as it is now implemented could be abused in conjunction with other vulnerabilities to gain access to someone’s account. I hope that at the least this will foster some interesting discussion on why what I have described is a non issue, or result in a fix.

September 14, 2011

From Las Vegas to Vancouver

Filed under: Travel — Tags: , , , , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 1:44 am

So, I’m managing to get this finished basically 11 months after it happened. Luckily everything is still fresh in my mind. I have to make a great effort to finish typing my adventures from last year before it’s too late, not to mention my adventures from this year. In any event, here are my observations from traveling from

My last few days in Vegas

My last few days in Las Vegas before getting ready to start my journey to Canada were interesting. Not much had been happening, although I got into an argument with Bob’s girlfriend Marcia that was interesting. In an effort to encourage his younger roommates to try and find work he made a bet that they must be awake by 7:30 AND get to the welfare office before 12:00. Since they were not awake by 7:30, they lost the bet. Now Marcia was defending them valiantly but failed to understand the difference between AND and OR. She tried to say that since they did one part of the bet no one should win, not realizing since they woke up after 7:30 they already lost – regardless. This wasn’t surprising as after we got to discussing politics Marcia made some interesting opinions known. Such as people should not be allowed to immigrate to the USA unless they speak English and the Arizona law did not go far enough.

It was Zane’s friends Joe’s birthday, so I went out with him and some other guys to a casino and a random house party. Max had been annoying me recently…at just 21, he was sure he knew everything. Which is fine, a lot of people are like that at all ages. What was annoying was that he kept correcting me on shit when he was wrong. It wasn’t bad enough that he would correct my pronunciation of words because he didn’t understand that there is more than one accent, he started talking crap about me as well. I think this was partly because I had become good friends with his girlfriend Rachel, and he felt he needed to assert himself as often as possible.

This was all fine, and I was having no problem ignoring him. After the casino we ended up going to a house party, which was interesting. On the way to the house party our car was pulled over by the cops which annoyed me. Max was freaking out in the car trying to convince everyone that it was all fine; he then later reiterated the story that I was extremely nervous. I guess to try and humiliate me in front of his girlfriend. Who knows?

Now, this party was what I had wanted to go to in the US for ages. A house party straight out of a college movie, loads of hot girls and drinking games going on. Unfortunately, I was still feeling pretty down the entire time and just couldn’t get into it. I’ve never really had a problem talking to girls at bars or clubs, but when I’m not interested they tend to notice. Now Max in his typical arrogant way seemed to think I was unable to approach a girl by myself, and so introduced me to some random girl standing behind us so he could leave with Rachel. Which was fine and she seemed mildly interesting until she left. I talked to a few other girls and just couldn’t be bothered to actually hold the conversation. I don’t know what exactly was stopping me from just letting go and having fun but it’s frustrating.
One of the most interesting things that had happened since Ruddy and Bob had moved in was the shift in relationships. I was really getting on well with one of Rachel’s friends Buzz and thought there was actually a good chance we could stay friends. We still can be, but I was surprised how quickly Bob and Ruddy replaced me. I don’t know if that is the right word, but there was definitely more of a bond between those two, perhaps just due to age? Buzz even seemed to prefer hanging out with Rowan who was the eldest and didn’t like to drink.

During that party, I started to feel really annoyed and I wasn’t sure why. Perhaps because of Max talking shit about me, perhaps at my frustration that I couldn’t just enjoy myself, perhaps at wondering why Buzz stopped hanging out – a whole host of things. There was also the fact that I was convinced Rowan kept pretending to be drunk when he wasn’t. I was pretty sure of this, being as dramatic as he was and making a big deal about not drinking only to start drinking constantly…well. I don’t know why that would annoy me so much….just fakeness in general I suppose.

On the way home we stopped for some McDonalds which was awesome. I rode with Rachel while everyone else was in Buzz’s car. There was much mooning and racing on the highway which was amusing. After some food I decided to have a smoke. I’d barely been smoking the last two months but as annoyed as I felt I didn’t mind. It was during this time that Max made offhand threatening remarks which just pissed me off on top of everything else. I felt like getting out of the car and hitting him but of course it’s never smart to give in to anger. I just ignored everything till I got home, only a few days to go until I left.

It was the immediate Saturday that Joe’s amazing birthday party was taking place. I declined to go, as awesome as it sounded. Why, I am not exactly sure. Just not wanting to deal with Max and Rowan and all the shit I found annoying for the last few weeks. I’d already celebrated Joe’s birthday at smaller gatherings no problems there. I guess a part of me was sad that over the last two months I thought I had made friends and I wanted to see if they would perhaps try and throw me any kind of going away part, or even just let me know they would miss me. Everyone came back to Zane’s apartment a lot sooner than I thought, as apparently the cops busted it up. I feigned being asleep most of the night) except for when I actually dozed off) and despite quite a few different people coming in at different times to try and get me to come out, I didn’t want to budge.

It was the next day where I found out all the shit that happened the night before. The reason everyone came back to Zane’s apartment was because the police came to the house party and people were ordered to leave. I felt bad for Buzz as he was just trying to throw a good party for Joe…, but at the same time I guess he should have been more careful about it. It was interesting to observe the relationship dynamics after shit went down. Max left a shirt there with his name in it, went back and kicked in the door to make sure he got it and then refused to talk to anybody about anything. I understand being worried about legal repercussions and protecting yourself but if your friends with someone you don’t fuck them over just to save yourself. It’s situations like that that show who your true friends are.
On the same day it seemed like Bob was breaking up with Marcia. Young couples that last are rare, but these guys had a strange dynamic. She seemed to be with him because at least in part she liked bossing him around and he liked her because she was semi-hot and caring. Bob was interesting; he was smart and mature but purposely acted immature. The fact that they were getting married before Bob started his military service was not a great indication. What was also interesting was that Joe seemed so upset they may break up. I didn’t get why they all became friends so quickly, but then Joe was a pretty sensitive guy so it could have just been that.

Finally out of Vegas

I caught a ride with a guy to Los Angeles for $20, who turned out to be pretty cool. Many interesting topics were discussed on the way and then as we tried to find an English radio station coming into LA. I only stayed for a few days, which was more than enough in such a shitty city. It was odd staying with my host as she was very proud of LA and I didn’t care for it at all, so we didn’t really get on that well. I ended up meeting with my cougar in LA…which was odd. Met at a rooftop bar in Venice…made small talk which was kind of odd as we were both going to go back to her place for sex. She paid for all my drinks which was pretty cool…and drove me back the next morning, even offered money for a taxi. I wasn’t attracted to her that much, but I hadn’t had sex since July and wanted some…so be it.

The next day I hung out in Hollywood with the guy I caught a ride with, just going to the same places I had had my initial adventures like 7 years ago, which was kind of odd. Seeing the cybercafé where I met the first gay guy I really met and who I stayed with and who then held my stuff hostage for a while, where I was able to get free internet because they just used MAC addresses for authentication…seeing the Oakley store where I thought a girl liked me back when I didn’t know girls liked me….seeing Hollywood and highland where I saw many celebrities…I feel like I was so young then…yet I wasn’t, not really.

I wonder if I would ever go back and try acting in LA….but I just dislike that city so much…being able to make it in NYC has so much more appeal to me. I found it quite annoying that my ride to LA managed to stay with 2 girls who told me they couldn’t host me due to studies…despite hosting him when he asked after me. I get sometimes that people lie to be polite but I just can’t stand it….probably part of a reason me and Candice didn’t work out, given that all British people do the polite lying thing.

After my time in LA which was exactly as short as it needed to be, it was time to head to San Francisco. I didn’t care much for this city of hippies, but I feel like Candice had ambition to go there and so I had a renewed interest in seeing it, maybe to see what she saw in it that I missed. I ended up catching a rideshare with some cool guys, one of who looked almost exactly like Scott Bakula. I had a lot of trouble finding a host but managed to find one for the first night where we talked a lot about couchsurfing and computer stuff. There was some blues festival going on which I walked around and enjoyed….I hate walking around by myself….I went there to find people not for the festival, yet have trouble finding people. I have in the past I guess….but not this time. It’s such a lonely feeling yet being surrounded by people….I wish I could be more open and outgoing and friendly sometimes. I used to be better at approaching people but it was like I had no motivation to overcome my loneliness. I just kept wishing Candice was there with me, because I knew she would have loved it. Other times just seeing really pretty girls and being amazed how much I wanted to be with someone.

After going back home and doing research and was then I realized I couldn’t get my proper tourist visa as I needed to be a Canadian resident. I was considering going back to Germany as I didn’t want to go back to the other side of the world, but I hated Germany. Then I began my process to get my Canadian work visa which was in theory very easy, and a workable alternative as opposed to going back home. I discovered the idiocy of the lonely Planet forum while asking about how the VWP would apply if I were a Canadian resident and getting answers from an American who had never used the VWP yet was confident he had all the answers. I don’t really understand what it is that drives people to spend so much time on forums and try to be an authority on every issue. I had to make plans now as I did want to see the King Tut exhibition in NYC, see Emma in Texas and go back to Las Vegas at some point where I had friends and my hard drives. My plan to just get my visa in Vancouver and come back down was no longer possible so I was unsure when I would be back. Still, getting my Canadian working visa would seem to be the first step…if only I had realized that I couldn’t get it from within Canada. The next night I stayed at a hostel…$30 for an 18 bed dorm seemed crazy considering I was paying like $5 per night in Costa Rica. I hadn’t really been in a hostel since I first came to the US, but didn’t really get a chance to appreciate it.

Heading further north

I had been looking for a ride to Portland and not much was in my price range, but managed to find a guy willing to take me for free. There was a hot girl in the general area the next morning, but had to leave before I could talk to her. Met the guy who was giving me a ride….a gay guy but friendly and talkative, provided sandwiches and everything. Not sure why his being gay mattered but it stuck in my mind somehow. Had some interesting conversations on the 11 hour ride…..there really isn’t anything between San Francisco and Portland. Stopped in Springfield and saw Springfield police which was pretty cool.

Then at night I arrived in Portland and met the very cool girl and housemates I was staying with. Quick introductions and then I retired after a long day of travel. The main reason I was excited to go to Portland was to see the basis for Springfield on The Simpsons. That wasn’t too much the case or it didn’t feel so much from walking around….but it was also easy to imagine them living in one of the houses near where I was staying. I didn’t get to see the gorge Springfield gorge was based on or the elementary school, I did get to see Flanders and Lovejoy streets however.

As far as Portland as a town is concerned….I hated it. It is one of my least favorite places on earth, which was just the start of my extreme dislike of the northwest. Initially Portland seems too trendy with many people either wearing suit jackets with jeans and sunglasses, or being alternative and wearing baggy clothes and having crazy long dreadlocks. Gah. There really isn’t much to see as a tourist. One of the main things I was suggested to see was Voodoo Doughnuts. It was an OK doughnut store but the highlight seemed to be that they catered to vegans and had funny and/or erotic cake designs. I guess I’m not just impressed by funny shaped cakes, although I guess I can understand that many people may not have seen such things before. For me it was more notable that there was a market for vegan doughnuts, it fit in with the idiotic character of the city I had found to exist.

I then went to Powell’s books…which indeed is a cool book store. It seems too big to be small and independent but does have some cool policies, as well as an excellent selection of books. Several Asimov books I had not previously heard off, the new Dean Koontz Frankenstein books which I had had trouble finding, all the T2 books by S.M. Sterling, all the Buffy comics….very cool. It actually seemed to be a store worth going to unlike say staples in NYC, which seems to be just the current hipster trend.

The other thing Portland seems to be notable for is food carts. Little RV’s or the like that have been turned into restaurants, all parked in areas where stores would normally be. I don’t really get the attraction….there isn’t anything special about the food, why does it matter if it is being sold from an RV or a store? It’s hardly unique to Portland either, as they have the same thing in Austin, albeit to a lesser extent.
So, I decided to walk around town and after doing the Simpsons stuff there wasn’t really stuff to see. I went to see the statue of Portlandia and couldn’t find it, walking past it twice before it being pointed out to me, since it just isn’t really notable. Many Portland residents didn’t even seem to know about it. What I did notice when walking around was the sheer amount of homeless people and coffee stores. There seemed to be a far greater percentage of homeless people than in NYC, which seems to be supported by statistics. Portland seems to be the kind of city that welcomes the crazy and homeless and tries to help them. Which is nice, I guess.

I would have thought that Portland was just another town with a hippy vibe like San Francisco with its claim to fame being beers, coffee and having been the basis for the Springfield of The Simpsons. Alas, it is much worse than this. I noticed in Portland a deplorable willful ignorance that stretches roughly from Portland all the way to Vancouver. Portland was the start of noticing a horrid trend of Super-Hippies everywhere. An unusually number of vegans, people who believe in homeopathy, a misplaced faith in nature, a deference to groupthink under the guise of common sense….and crazy crazy feminists. It was from traveling from Portland to Vancouver that I saw where my friend Sarah got some of her crazy views from. What these people think of as progressive seems to be, objectively, simply a different type of regression. Is it any surprise that Portland is where What the bleep do we know was filmed? A film that defines quantum physics as the ability to manipulate reality with your mind? That film says pretty much everything you need to know to judge the city.

I went for dinner and later a drink with my host, a girl who was very cute and seemed interested in me despite having a strong fireman boyfriend….who also hung out with me on occasion. I liked this girl as well….but I didn’t see anything happening. Plus, I could have been reading everything wrong. I left Portland on First Thursday, a showing of museums and food and such that sounded quite interesting, however I did not realize it was at night and already bought my train ticket. I bought a bullshit train ticket to pretty much the next station over with the intent of investigating if it were possible to purchase a ticket for free on board, however Amtrak was having none of that. Out of all the companies to have real time credit card verification in place I would not have thought it would be Amtrak. I left Portland on First Thursday, a showing of museums and food and such that sounded quite interesting, however I did not realize it was at night and already bought my train ticket. I bought a bullshit train ticket to pretty much the next station over with the intent of investigating if it were possible to purchase a ticket for free on board, however Amtrak was having none of that. Out of all the companies to have real time credit card verification in place I would not have thought it would be Amtrak.

I had to find a place with wifi, as I had forgotten to write down my hosts address. I found an excellent Irish pub called Fado’s on 1st and Columbia, where the waitresses were very helpful and friendly and didn’t even charge me for my coffee! I decided to walk a ways since the busses didn’t seem to have transfers, and I didn’t want to pay for 3 different busses. Everything was closed, even the Walgreens at 11am, which made it frustrating to get my fix of Dr Pepper. I managed to find somewhere, and then get to the bus stop. There had been quite a few dodgy characters on the way but no trouble; I figured it was probably a similar city to Portland with a lot of homeless people. At the bus stop a guy was insistent on selling me his transfer for $2 so he could save money…it turned out to be legitimate, but he didn’t seem to understand why I would be skeptical of such a deal. I don’t mind helping people out, but I guess in his world
I arrived at my hosts house who were very friendly however was disappointed to find out they study and believe in naturopathy which is OK, but also homeopathy. As well as astrology which I guess isn’t surprising. It was in keeping with the character of the northwest I had seen so far. I didn’t do anything the next day except relax and recovery, and then went to a naturopath party of all the students the next night. This is where I learned that there is actually a university that receives federal funding that offers courses in homeopathy. What the fuck.

I didn’t really end up exploring much of Seattle….I didn’t care about the space tower…not for $20 or whatever, and there didn’t seem much else to see. I started to look for a ride to Vancouver. I found a rideshare but had not heard back in a while, so started to look at public transport. It turns out Amtrak was cheaper than the bus options, how very odd.

I arranged to meet with my host the next morning at a coffee shop. After hanging out for a while and waiting, they arrived. Two young guys who seemed pretty cool and wanted only $10 for the ride, so we embarked on our quest to Canada. First however, we had to pick up one more guy, who turned out to be strange. Seemed to be in his 40’s, dressed in a cowboy hat, overcoat and pants and a shirt that provided him with something like 50 pockets. As well as far more luggage than he should need for such a short trip. I joined the two other guys in deciding to smoke some weed before crossing the border, which was dumb but turned out fine. At the border crossing despite my lack of onward ticket or funds, I was actually the fastest to be interviewed and approved. Experience with knowing what to say I guess. The Americans got through easy enough, probably just stumbled over being asked if they had drugs. Oddly the Canadian and his 50 pockets took the longest. Oddly enough I didn’t get a stamp, so had no proof that I had left the USA except for my debit card bills.

They were surprised that I told the guard that I had smoked weed but did not have any on me. It made sense to admit it, satisfying his need for the truth and well as ensuring I had nothing on me. The Canadian who had apparently been to 42 countries said you never told them anything, ever. No wonder he took the longest. After we dropped him off, it was time to get a beer. Delicious Guinness. Then I got dropped off to meet my new hosts and was safely in Canada. The next leg of my adventure starting.

September 2, 2011

Why merchants don’t have to accept legal tender

Filed under: Issues...the world...etc.. — Tags: , , , — allthatiswrong @ 9:51 am

I find it frustrating just how common the belief is that merchants have an obligation to accept legal tender in any denomination for any payment; regardless of if it is 500 pennies, a wrinkled $1 bill or a crisp $20 bill. This is simply incorrect. Merchants don’t have to accept anything they don’t want to. What legal tender actually means is that it can be used to pay for things and that it must be accepted for all private debts and public charges. If I just want to buy something, the merchant has no obligation to accept. Or in other words, the merchant has no obligation to enter into a contract if he does not like the terms, which includes the currency denominations for payments. The exception to this is when a merchant has not clearly specified their payment policies. In that case if money is owed, they do have an obligation to accept legal tender, at least as I understand things.

I was disheartened to see Liz Lemon’s character on 30 Rock take this stance and further spread this myth. It isn’t hard to understand. There is no law requiring that any individual or private organization accept denominations they don’t want to, or even requiring them to accept legal tender in the first place. Legal tender is the assumed default method of payment but there is no requirement that it be the method of payment. This goes for most western countries. I don’t really know why people thinking legal tender means anyone has to accept it in any denomination comes from. A lack of education, or just some idiotic reasoning without thinking things through?

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