3:42 PM

Aug. 24th, 2015 07:52 am
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
That's the time at which [livejournal.com profile] mole_underfield breathed his last, this past Monday. I was sitting there with him, chatting with an old friend about his earliest memories of my brother, and then I realized that that Dave was completely still. I can't wrap my brain around that simple fact. Is there not some other room where my brother breathes still? Perhaps in another part of the house that I've somehow lost? When I find it, won't he be in there, reading quietly, or perhaps painting flowers?

Mom tells me, and Dave would nod, that he was truly happy when I was born, and loved to just sit with me, content, even delighted, by my simple presence. Forty-five years together, and I still don't understand him. I look at pictures and I can't fathom what he's thinking, why he's smiling. Then, today, a friend and her beau looked at my profile on a dating site, and explained that I was doing it all wrong, and that I'd never find anyone like that. I need to be more assertive and confident, they say, and explain to any woman reading it why she should want to meet me. They found each other on that site, doing what they tell me to do, so they might be right, but I don't want to make all those changes. I'm so scared of promoting myself like that that I feel hollowed out with dread.

Isn't it odd that I feel so alien from my brother? We're exactly alike.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
My saga of brother's battle with cancer approaches its tragic denouement. He was diagnosed last May with adenocarcinoma in his stomach, and after several surgeries, all the radiation he could stand, and six months of chemo, his doctor at Dana Farber Cancer Institute has thrown in the towel. He's lost so much weight, his liver is failing, and he's got hardly any appetite. I don't know how much longer I'll have a big brother.

I'm starting to think about what comes next–writing an obituary, delivering a eulogy, helping my mother carry on. I shall soon be an only child–how long til I'm an orphan? My life is in flux, as well, because I recently quit my job, so I could spend more time with the family, and finally got around to filing the divorce papers with Millari. I don't miss the actual duties of my job, and I'm still quite satisfied with how my marriage played out, but I do need to re-answer the fundamental question of mortal existence: what now?

I don't know what MU is thinking or feeling right now. I hope he's not plagued with regrets. I hope he isn't full of dread. Those are natural responses, and I'm sure every person who's ever lived felt them in some measure (I do), but I hope my brother feels loved and contented. He deserves to.

It occurs to me that, as an atheist, I should perhaps share my thinking about what it means to be dead, as distinct from the process of dying. Dying is a transitive, not to say transitional, physical experience. I sometimes find myself thinking about what it will be like for me, where and when it will happen, and what my last sight will be.

The actual source of existential dread, however, is the boundless unconscious unbeing that follows. After a life of consciousness, and especially a life of linear narratives, I really can't grasp what formless, endless, nothingness will be like. The classic answer for we unbelievers is that it will precisely nothing. "I" will no longer exist in any way, so, for me, everything will simply stop forever.

That may be the whole truth.

I do have some suspicions that it isn't, though. (buckle up)

First off, consciousness is demonstrably linked to the electrochemical processes in our brains. Whatever it means to think and be self-aware, everything we know about it depends upon our physical brains. What we don't know, and maybe can't know, is whether our experience of consciousness can be wholly explained by what our brains do. (The Baconian Idol of the Tribe, though the tribe in this case may be any living organism, and not merely humanity.) Many people have written stories about being disembodied, or existing as spirits, or an afterlife, but the truth is that no one has ever experienced life without a body, so we really have no reliable testimony at all on this matter.

Second, the atoms in our bodies are no different from the atoms in anything else. If consciousness is just something that emerges from complexity, then the fact that matter is eternal means that we are eternal. We cannot be destroyed because matter cannot be destroyed, and just as matter can't be created, maybe we weren't really created, either. Maybe we were simply latent in the universe, and even after the complex processes that make us us apparently stop, we're still just as latent, just as waiting to emerge, as we were for the 14 billion years that passed by before our cue.

Third, if consciousness is a property of sufficiently organized matter, then the patterns of that organization are governed by physical laws, just like everything else. Which, I think, is another way of saying that we are specific iterations of a universal thingamabob. The wave crashes on the shore, but the ocean is still there. Everything about "us" will survive the death of our bodies, because consciousness (in this wild notion) is inherent in the physical structure of the universe.

Fourth, this starts to resemble the Platonic ideal forms, with everything physical thing merely an imperfect reflection of the metaphysical exemplar. That may well be nonsense, of course, a charming fantasy with no basis in reality. (Or maybe just a more poetical way of saying 'math, bitches'.) I get antsy when things move away from the concrete and specific towards the abstract. But, I must admit, I can't dismiss the reality, the actual not-made-upness, of abstract concepts. Two plus two equals four, even without humans to think it (I can't believe these are arbitrary things we just invented), even though "two" has no physical reality.

I'm dozing off, so I may have lost my thread, I think that, even without indulging in superstition, the old adage may be true: omnia mutantur, nihil interit.
grinninfoole: (Default)
It's a bit upsetting to listen while your brother makes noises like he's dying, and more so when he perhaps might be, so I'm going to write about something else of equal gravity: a sound effect in a cartoon I loved growing up.

Starblazers was created in Japan as Space Cruiser Yamato, and was staggeringly popular in the 70s and early 80s. The basic idea is that aliens are bombarding Earth with radioactive bombs and, using technology sent to us by helpful aliens, humanity takes the rusted wreck of the Japanese battleship Yamato (250 years after US bombers sank it) and retrofits it into a space ship to fly across the galaxy to get a machine that will undo all the radiation poisoning. I enjoyed the hell out of the show as a kid. (Obviously, it's also a fantasy parallel to World War 2 that casts Japan as virtuous in the face of US aggression, and includes a wish-fulfillment deus ex machina to undo the effects of nuclear attack.)

Despite that, there was a lot to like about the show: for example, the pacing was deliberate and several episodes featured characters on both sides doing nothing except getting ready to do something. I know that lots of anime does this, but the design of this show featured space ships that were all modeled after ships and planes from World War 2. An episode in which the evil aliens muster their forces could easily have bored the crap out of a nine-year-old with ADD, but I was hooked.

Another important element was the portrayal of Leader Desslok, the head evil alien in the first series, and recurrring nemesis throughout the whole show. The Japanese original featured a deep-voiced, gruff-sounding, warrior-emperor like a thousand other anime bad guys. In the English language version, actor Eddie Allen voiced the blonde-haired & blue-skinned Desslok in a higher register, and with the bored affect of an aesthete, born to rule and barely tolerating all these boring distractions from his privileged existence. Instead of Mifune Toshiro in Throne of Blood, it's more Peter Cushing in Star Wars.

When I watched it all again a couple of years ago, though, the thing that struck me was that, while some of the animation was weak, and some of the episodes were treacly, and continuity was sporadic, and using ships and plane designed to operate in an atmosphere or ocean and a gravity well in deep space is fundamentally daft, the music and sound effects are really good. They still hold up, and at least to some extent carry the show over its weak points.
grinninfoole: (Default)
I last posted near the Winter Solstice, and now it's less than a week to Summer's. Sigh.

I'm waiting around at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. My brother just had an endoscopic procedure to put a stent in his liver. It's been a bit more than a year since the diagnosis, and nine months since we learned it's too advanced for a cure. Six months of chemotherapy followed, then a couple of months hiatus while he built up his strength and we waited to see what effect it had had on the tumor. Yesterday, we learned that the cancer rebounded aggressively, and MU needs to restart the chemo next Monday. This sucks, but is not unexpected--MU's had pain, worsening and increasingly constant pain, for the last couple of weeks--and we think it likely that the chemo will again be tolerable and effective in controlling the disease.

As for me, I'm in a comfortable but difficult limbo. I resigned from my job managing the store in Northampton, because I took nearly 3 months off last year, and we just can't sustain that if I have to do it again this year. Dropping everything to help my family was the right decision, but it's created problems for me. I'm muddling through financially, but the great swaths of unstructured time pose real challenges for me. I'm good at thinking of things I could, should, or even need to do, but the 'executive functioning' that lets people actually set goals and accomplish them doesn't work so well for me. It doesn't help that my long-standing ADD meds seem to be causing some irritating nervous tics, so I need to switch to something else.

Still, I have had time to watch a crapload of stuff on Netflix and Hulu. It's not an actual accomplishment, but it has been pleasantly diverting.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
I was driving home from Andover today, en route to an appointment with an eye doctor (I need progressive lenses), and ruminating as I do, when it struck me that I'm a hypocrite. It's one of my bedrock principles that everyone matters, and yet so much of my life is shaped by a sense that I don't. Part of that is depression, of course, but I think my efforts to mind my privilege also contribute. I was having supper with Morlock, and talking about this, and I put it something like this:

1) The world lies to people all the time. Mostly, it's telling them they're worthless, and this message is especially loud for women, LGBTQ, POC, the mentally ill, and the poor. It's a constant barrage of advertising, movies, kids at school, pundits, cops, etc. ad nauseam.

2) The world lies to me, too. They're just different lies: that I'm important, that I'm powerful, that the world feels my pain, that I'm justified in acting out when angry or sad or amorous or whatever, and that I'm an authoritative and respectable person to be given all due deference. I spend time and energy undercutting these messages in my head. I know from painful experience how ugly I can be when I don't.

3) When surrounded by flattery, it's difficult to truly grasp one's strengths. Am I actually learned, or insightful, or eloquent, or compassionate, or generous? I hope to be. I strive to be. I might be. I dare not be too confident, though, lest in resting on my laurels I let my virtues ooze away.

I think I already posted about this before, but I think maybe a new course of action will be to seek out some new community for support. I have two ideas: one, find/form a support group for privilege awareness; two, start going to Quaker meetings. The sect has the most impressive human rights track record of any group in history, and they're just the sort of church an atheist like me could feel comfortable in.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
Alas, she does not feel about me like I feel about her. I do wonder if this is indicative of some personal flaw that I must address, or if my sample size is simply too small. As with many things in life, rejection is an inevitable part of the process. Food for thought in 2015.

For now, what matters is I spoke my mind fully and well, and I'm the better for it.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
2014 has brought some unpleasant changes to my life, but some good ones, as well. The best has been getting to know a woman who lives on the west coast via Facebook and Google chats. The other day I could no longer deny that I was smitten with her, so I wrote her an email professing myself, and asking if perhaps she felt similarly.

As of this moment, I have no idea what she will say. I can imagine a range of positive and negative replies, but I really can't even make a guess what she will do, and I'm both nervous and intrigued by the uncertainty. This will be a profound turning point in my life, no matter what she does. If she turns me down, I'll be sad and my days will continue on as they have been until my next big decision or crisis. If she shares my affections then this could be the start of a whole process that leads to... marriage? A new home? Kids? A new career? An ugly divorce? Learning a new language? A tattoo? Finally finding a form of exercise I actively enjoy?

I can't find the words to capture this mix of feelings. A bit of dread, certainly, but also excitement. Hope, blended with anticipatory heart break. Pride that I have put myself forward with what I believe to be an appropriate mix of confidence and humility. Curiosity, and a desire to preserve this person I am now, before I am reborn into a new life. I am the larva inside its chrysalis, and I wonder what imago will be revealed.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
I have looked at a lot of art, lately, because I have had some time on my hands. Stories and games, and especially story games, have long been my preferred coping mechanism for life, so this is hardly a surprise. This is the first of a series of posts to sort of clear my mental buffer of thoughts about what I'm currently enjoying, and I'm going to start with the ridiculous amount of TV I have been watching.

Agents of SHIELD )

and speaking of Gotham... )

Sleepy Hollow )

The Good Wife )


Constantine )

Elementary )

Doctor Who )

Gracepoint )

Legend Of Korra )

Finally, it got cancelled after one short season, but Almost Human did quite well as a police procedural with strong SF/futurist elements. The heart of the show was the dynamic between Karl Urban as detective Kennex and Michael Ehle as his android counterpart Dorian. This was a fantastic show with lots going on, and great commentary on contemporary racial politics. A pity it didn't last.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
OK, I found a work around for the glitch in the LJ app on my iPad, so I can write this post and see it at the same time. Much better.

I'm in Andover, visiting with my mother and brother as has become my wont. My brother has another chemo appointment tomorrow, and I'll be accompanying him. Assuming that he find this as tolerable as the last one, it will be the start of an ongoing series of treatments.

I have spent about three months of this year back here, lending what support I can. Besides cutting into my income, it's changed the situation at the store significantly. Back in May, when my brother was first diagnosed, I was here for most of the month to rally round the flag, and then my father died, so I wound up not working that entire month. While I was away, it became clear that the fellow managing the store was derelict in his duties and, worse, lying to the board about it. So, the first day I came back, he was fired and Lefty took over again as store manager (he's been coming up every week from New York), and we began this intense process of damage control to get the delinquent bills paid. It was a difficult couple of months, but we got things back on track, and we started grooming me to take over as store manager.

And then we found out that the doctors at MGH had been really wrong about Dave's condition. September was tumultuous, and we tried to find a way to tag-team running the store with each of us doing it part-time, but it just didn't work. So, while I'm still working at the store, I have stepped down as a manager, gone back to working hourly, and taking a pay cut. We have put out a call for applicants to manage the Northampton store, and I'll help train them up to the job, when I'm not out here.

I hope that my brother and I might take some fun trips together soon. I'm particularly thinking of Hawaii and then New Zealand, but sojourns to New York or Chicago also sound good.

I have been thinking about what to do with myself, given that I have more time on my hands, and what sort of goals I should pursue since throwing myself into work isn't really an option just now. It's lead me to wonder what it is that dedicated creative types have that I don't. One answer that has occurred is a social infrastructure that promotes writing, drawing, etc. and I think I might have stumbled into one just now around my new radio show.

Yes, I have a radio show, Civil Politics, on Valley Free Radio (WXOJ-LP, 103.3 FM for those of you in western MA) every Friday at 7 PM. I'm the host, and George Claxton and Susan Timberlake are the commenters, and we talk about political issues. We're less concerned with the tribal squabbles of our two parties, and more with what politics is about: competing interests, social problems, moral values, and finding ways to get along with each other. We must have 3 or 4 listeners already! (The show is available for streaming, and we're recording them as podcasts, which are online at civilpolitics.wordpress.com) I quite like doing the show, and I think it's an important set of discussions to have, one that more widely known media don't actually do. I have yet to listen to any of them again, but I will do, because I want to get better at it.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
This has proven to be a difficult year, full of changes and upheavals with an uncharted future ahead. My brother is going to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute twice a month for infusions of chemo therapy.... well, no, that's not quite right. He had the first infusion in early October, and found it so debilitating that he considered giving up altogether. Fortunately, he decided to give the oncologists another shot, and the second time was much less awful. He's still rather thin, but his appetite is coming back, and water apparently no longer has a disgusting aftertaste, so I'm going to hope for the best.
grinninfoole: (Default)
I have yet to see the most recent episode, Dark Water, so I may be completely wrong, but I do wonder if this mysterious Missy and her apparent afterlife and Promised Land might not be connected to an old story from the Tom Baker era. I can't recall the title, but it was about a group of survivors of some terrible calamity wandering the universe in a ship called the P7E, looking for their lost genetic repository (the 'race bank') and a home on which to restart their civilization. They had been at it for quite a long time, and would have died out long before, except that they were from a planet that the Time Lords had meddled with, so everyone left on the ship couldn't die, because of some variation on Time Lord regenerative technology. Beyond the thematic similarities, I don't see how this would connect with this season's story arc... other than the Doctor saying it was time to fix his mistakes.

Anyway, off to the brain box to watch on demand, see if I'm right.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
Apropos of a comment I left for something [livejournal.com profile] anagramofbrat posted, I thought I'd bloviate about the terrible racket that are lotteries.  Every once in a while, I play lotteries like Mega-Millions, wherein I sacrifice a dollar for a non-zero chance to win tens of millions of dollars.  I don't expect to win, and I don't actually NEED the money, but I do it because of the freedom it would provide.  Not to travel, or escape the rat race, or pay off debts, because I already have that.

No, if I ever wind up with major money, I'm going into politics and philanthropy, because I could skip a lot of the fundraising that drains so many politicians time, energy, and independence.  And if I get REALLY rich, I may give Joss Whedon a fat check for more Firefly.

In reality, though, lotteries are cruel, regressive taxes that play on the desperate, the mentally ill, and the addicted.  I think the state should just raise taxes on the rich ever so slightly, and then automatically enroll everyone in a regular $1 million jackpot (free of state taxes).  Do it once a week, and we'll have about 50 new millionaires every year.  After a few years, I think it will make a huge dent in our problems with poverty, school funding, etc.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)
In the beginning of May of this year, my brother was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma in his stomach.  Scans showed a tumor near his small intestine, small enough that it still be in early in its development.  I spent almost all of that month at home in Andover with him and my mom, taking him to the hospital, setting up radiation and chemo therapy, and trying to offer moral support. I was just about to go back to work when my father died, and we had the memorial service for him, and all that.

MU finished the radiation and chemo in July, and had a follow up scan in August.  The results were, according his oncologists at Mass General, the best possible.  Plans were made for surgery on 9/9 to cut out part of his stomach, where the tumor had been, to prevent it returning and spreading.  Once the operation began, however, the doctors observed little spots of cancer spread across his stomach and into his intestines.  It was too late to perform the surgery, or to hope for a cure.

My whole family is stunned by this, and I can only imagine how terrible this must be for MU, given his tendency to assume the worst and worry about what can go wrong.  Imagine going to sleep before an operation to cure you, only to wake up and be told you're going to die?

We got a second opinion at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and we're going to have them take over MU's treatment.  He likes their facility and atmosphere better.  In a couple of weeks, he will start more chemo therapy, which we hope will hold things at bay for a while.  How long, we don't know.  If I understand that statistics correctly, the five year survival rate is 10 to 20 percent, which is pretty bad, but hardly a fait accompli.

I'm going to switch from salary to hourly at work, so I can take off whenever I need to, and they have promised to do everything they can to give us all the time and support we need.  I can't properly express how grateful I am for this, not just for my family, but for me.

I have never experienced anything like this before.  When Mom had cancer ten years ago, it was clear that they were both new and hadn't spread.  The operations to deal with them went smoothly, and she needed little follow up treatment.  I didn't truly appreciate then how ridiculously rare and lucky that was.  Now I do, because I just want to curl up and hide from this.  I'm going to be away for much of the next week, and I plan to do useful stuff at the old family home, and I really don't want to go to work.  It feels like such a burden to be there and deal with the challenges we face right now.  (It's a whole separate post, but basically Lefty and I put our faith in the wrong guy to head up the Northampton store when Lefty went to New York.  It's emotionally very draining, and by far the biggest mistake of my life, as well as the worst misjudgement of character I have ever made.)  It feels like a weight pressing on my chest.

I'll try and post about some of the other noteworthy stuff, like my fun vacation to DragonCon, my failed attempts at romance, and maybe even gaming or something.
grinninfoole: (strangelove)

This is something I have been mulling over for... jeez, more than a year! (I guess I have fallen off the LJ wagon.) Since I heard about themurder of Trayvon Martin, and especially since Zimmerman's acquital. It's been on my mind especially because of the murder of Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO and the subsequent spectacularly unjustified armed response by that city's police department, and also since I had dinner with an old friend I haven't seen in a while, down in Atlanta, who is passionately committed to permissive gun laws.*

One of the great insights that has stayed with me since my undergraduate days was a passage from Aristotle's Politics, that runs something like this: "Just as a human hand is no longer a human hand once severed from the body, so too a person on their own is either a beast or a god." In a society that prizes individualism as much as ours, 18 year old me found it mind-blowing to consider that the full human experience demands living with other people. No matter how minimal or informal a society's legal customs, no matter how small the population with which one lives, we NEED other people.

(Mind you, I'm still a firm believer in the great American insight, that we are all unique individuals and that we all matter.)

Living with other people means living with the needs, opinions and concerns of one's contemporaries, and also with those of one's ancestors (which have probably become distilled into customs, rituals, folkways, songs, vocabulary, and so on and on). Also, because humans take so long to mature, and because our brains are so plastic, we depend on the context created by our societies to fully develop. I believe that those two truths together mean that there are many ways for us all to live together, and many ways to strike a balance between our need to be part of a group, and our need to be ourselves.

The tension between individual liberty and group needs must be a very old one for our species, but it's definitely been around since our societies became more complex, and became civilizations. The oldest story I know, the Epic of Gilgamesh, starts with low status citizens protesting oppression by their king--i.e. with people in Uruk struggling to balance their individual rights against the need to fit in with their society.

Here's where the guns part comes in: as thinkers like Hobbes and Locke have pointed out, one basic reason to put up with a society is that it helps protect its members from violence--from strangers and from the people one lives with. In a civilization, (i.e. in a more complex society with lots of strangers close by) the laws that restrict one's actions should also keep one safe. This is true in my case. I have walked the streets at night in every place I have ever lived, and never feared for my safety, and nothing bad has yet happened to me. (Obviously, that could change tomorrow, but I think 44 years is still a pretty good track record, even so.)

Let me emphasize this: I don't carry a gun or other dedicated weapon, nor do I even own one, though I easily could do. In all my life, I have never faced danger in my home, or outside it. I have had very few interactions with the police, and in none of them have I had any problems, or faced any danger that I could detect. On the two occasions that I have called them to my home (for false alarms), they were polite and helpful and prompt. I thus conclude that the civilization in which I live does a satisfactory job of protecting me.

In contrast, this same civilization clearly failed to protect Trayvon and James. Both were unarmed teenagers, shot by armed adults who confronted them. That's horrible enough, but it gets worse, because how we collectively respond to crimes when they happen matters just as much as what we do to prevent them. Misunderstandings and mistakes (whether good- or ill-intentioned) can happen in any human interaction, so I think that the mere fact of these two killings does not, ipso facto, mean that our society has a problem. The true depths of our disfunction emerge in what happened after the shootings: Neither George Zimmerman nor Darren Wilson apologized for making a horrible blunder. The police did not respond with a speedy investigation. A month afterwards, neither man had been arrested. It took at least a week for most news to cover the killings, or for many people outside the black community, to take up the subject of either killing.

Altogether, I believe that makes it clear that, as a nation, we don't take these crimes as seriously as we should, and that we aren't affording dark-skinned citizens the same protections that I enjoy. Which is another way of saying that black Americans don't live in a civilization. I don't need to tote a gun around to protect myself, but clearly Trayvon and James did. The expectations of safety and protection that I have are a privilege that I enjoy, in part because of my pale skin. People of color in the USA live in conditions more akin to pre-modern Europe, where Vikings might suddenly show up for kidnapping and murder. This is why a large chunk of white America doesn't appreciate the problems facing non-white America, because judging people who don't live in safety by the same standards as people who do is foolish, and morally backwards.

I don't think this double standard can last, so I'd really like for us to create safety for everyone else before my racially privileged upper class winds up losing this really great benefit. (I will leave it to smarter people to figure out whether white and non-white Americans live in the same society, as distinct from the same civilization. In my mind, all civilizations are societies, but not all societies are civilizations.)

*That particular issue is tangential to this post, but FWIW, I am sympathetic to the arguments that gun ownership helps preserve our liberties, and can indeed be life-saving tools of self-defense, but I get very nervous when people who carry convenient murders in their pockets are belligerent and irrational. It's something I hope to think and discuss in more depth on my in-the-works political chat show on Valley Free Radio, planned for mid-October.

grinninfoole: (Default)


So, had a lot on my plate this year, and I have neglected LJ, despite vastly preferring it as a place to post more openly and personal than, say, facebonkers.

This year has seen my father die of old age, my brother get cancer (and hopefully recover), a friend from college die of cancer, and me having to step suddenly to more responsible at work.

I didn't work at all in May, but it didn't really recharge me like a vacation, so I'm taking one now. At this moment, I am at the Sheraton in downtown Atlanta, having just picked up my badge for dragoncon. Unlike last time, I'm here alone, just looking to have some fun, visit some friends, and I hope to meet shiny fab in person. I know I know others here, and I hope to see
them, too.

grinninfoole: (strangelove)

My brother has been admitted to the hospital to prepare him for surgery and cancer treatment. They just put a tube down his nose, so they can provide nutrition. It was clearly agonizing and provoked a paroxysm of vomiting. I had to leave the room, because it upset me so.  Even down the hallway, in the lounge with the door closed, I could still hear it.  It went on for quite a while.

We have apparently done this many times to prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. So, we absolutely do torture people.

grinninfoole: (strangelove)
I'm in Boston for the weekend, working at PAX East.  We plan to sell games, mostly RPGs, to the 20,000 or so nerds who are here for it.  Most have come for the video game stuff, but we hope to snag some spillover cross interest, and maybe get some new customers at our stores.

In other news, the past week saw me working out in New York, helping out in our Mamaroneck store, and working last weekend at the brand new Maelstrom gaming con in New Jersey. It's been strangely tiring, but I did have a nice day off to celebrate my birthday on Monday.  I got to see a dear friend (about whom I shan't say more, as they are very private), but they got me amazing cupcakes in New York city.  Thanks to usakeh for hosting me, and for the Orphan Black DVD.  Looking forward to checking it out.
grinninfoole: (Default)

Today is a day to support people coming out and proclaiming their sexual identity to the world. Gay, lesbian, bi, or some other label; trans- or cis- gendered; celibate, monogamous, polyamorous, or whatever else. This is a time for people to step forward and push back against the mass of society trying to stifle their joy, their love, their relationships, their choices, and the bedrock truth of their lives. It's also a time for those of us who care for those people, and those of us who believe in liberty, to speak up in affirmation.

So that's what I am doing now. I'm going to come out as heterosexual, cisgendered, and basically monogamous (though poly curious). I like women. I emotionally identify with them. I find many of them sexy. I tend to go for paler skin and skinny (like our advertising culture uses to sell to us all). and shorter than I, though I'm by no means exclusive about this. God help me, I'm even kind of attracted to Miley Cyrus. I know that this may seem like the opposite of coming out--instead of speaking up for something repressed, I'm proclaiming something constantly validated and assumed. However, I'd like to point something out: everything I just told you about myself is a taste (or preference or orientation or what-have-you). Or, to put it a sexy way, a kink.

The difference between me and someone who likes rubenesque women, or bearded women, or a foot-fetishist, or a transvestite, or just about anything else, is that my kinks are common enough, and reinforced enough, that hardly anyone recognizes them as such. There's nothing weirder about wanting to suck dick than to lick pussy. Or both. Or neither. Or only with whipped cream and a cherry. Heck, I find the poo, pain and/or blood kinks disturbing, but that really is just me. The consenting adults can do their thing with my blessing (though, please, no poo in my whipped cream, OK?) Double heck, even the folks with non-consensual urges like pedophilia aren't that different from me in their feelings. The damage comes from acting on those feelings, and I feel sympathy for anyone struggling to live a full human life while protecting others from those impulses, and I think we should do more as a collective to help them do so.

(Honestly, while I agree that sexuality is largely, if not completely, orientational and that 'gay reparative' therapy is therefore misguided, I do hope that it isn't completely so, that there we can make meaningful choices about our sexual feelings, because I'd like to think that pedophilically inclined people can choose to grow into something healthier. And, yes, I know that homosexuality and pedophilia are completely different things, and I'm not trying to morally equate them. I just made a logical leap.)

All of us, when you strip away our street clothes and public manners and let us rock out with our metaphorical cocks out, can be weird, gross, amazing, tender, inappropriate, transgressive, and awesome. It's best when we can do it with love and kindness, and it's so much easier to do that when we can be out and proud about who we really are, whoever that is, because there are people out there who are just what we're looking for, and who are looking for us, too.

So happy coming out day, everyone. May we all love long, and prosper.

grinninfoole: (strangelove)
I was summoned for jury duty today, which necessitated getting up about 90 minutes before my alarm normally goes off in the morning.  The one trial in the offing was a criminal case, and the defendant faced a slew of charges, one of which was dissemination of harmful material to a minor.  When I was asked if there was any reason why I wouldn't be able to serve impartially on the jury, I explained that I didn't see how showing someone art would merit sending them to jail.  If no one went to prison for showing kids Passion Of The Christ (and no one should), then no one should go to prison for showing another person porn .  The judge asked if I could follow the law, regardless of my beliefs, and said that I could not.  He then excused me.

i had not expected jury duty to play out like that.  While the timing would have been inconvenient, and the case sounded depressing, I was ready and willing to serve.  The rest of the charge are quite serious, and the case will, I'm sure, require jurors like me.  But, if the prosecution's other charges all fell apart, there was no way I was going to convict someone solely for smutty pictures.

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