Saturday, January 23, 2016

Strategic Butt Coveting

This is something of a rebuttal to Feminist Frequency's latest video.  It's interesting that Anita has such a myopic view of what kinds of games she'll review.  Of all the video games she could have chosen, she strategically missed some of the largest, most mainstream games currently available (and also previously available, at earlier points in time).

Let's look at the most obvious candidates.  GTA 5 comes to mind, as does Fallout 4.  GTA 5 is particularly interesting, because it's had phenomenal success and is one of the most easily recognizable games in circulation.  One of the main characters that can be played frequently finds himself nearly naked, showing no shortage of derriere. For someone as supposedly egalitarian feminist as her, this seems a huge oversight.  Why isn't she decrying the objectification of any butt, if female butts are equal to male butts?

Moving on to Fallout 4, another powerhouse gaming experience.  Quite possibly, it's the most popular game in the world.  It's still in the top ten or so games sold weekly.  The protagonist can be either male or female, and the player has the full choice of how much the character is exposed, and even whether or not to play in third person view.  Anita would have us believe that these games she is reviewing are on par with the games that are actually at the forefront of gaming culture.

Of course, Anita doesn't really understand the demographic she's trying to persuade.  When I play a video game, for example, I don't pay much attention to my character.  That is, unless my character's actions have some bearing on the overall story.  Much like Kenneth, I like to be whatever character I am playing.  If the choices I make are plot-specific, then by all means the character could be significant.  However, Anita's complete ignorance of the companies that are doing equality (by her definition) correctly, is something of a major oversight.  Instead, she's complaining that characters are acting in character.  Simultaneously, Anita pretends that Lara Croft's butt is important because it's representing a human ideal, while ignoring the fact that Lara Croft's character should be afforded the same rights.  Lara's character is the actions she's taking on screen, from the clothes she wears to the actions she does.  Her sense of adventure, strong will, and good protagonist characteristics are thrown out the window by Anita.  This is the main reason Anita's argument fails, because she fails to realize that the character must be taken as a whole.

In this way, Anita is a considerably worse objectifier than any of the myriad people who play the games.  She's acting like a physical attribute is what defines the person.  As she said, we can't know what the character is by looking at its butt, but it's the only part of the character upon which she chooses to make her judgments on the character.  Never mind whether the character would actually choose to act that way, for it is impossible for Anita to see these characters as anything other than their outward appearance, to objectify them as their supposedly ill-proportioned bodies.

Although Anita won't understand this, lots of us don't judge a character by whether or not that character shows some skin.  Anita does, and presumes that the designers have no other motives at play.  Using Lara again, the point of her character is to be loud, showy, strong, and over the top.  It's only logical that, being what her character is, she would be presented in such a way.  In exactly the same way, Batman wears a type of armor that makes his muscles seem ill-proportioned, because he wants to give an intimidating vibe.  It's not for a show of sexuality that Bruce Wayne chooses a rather mesomorphic costume; his ploy is not to be a sex symbol.  By Anita's logic, batman is simply an object the designers are making for straight cis women to be aroused by.  Clearly, one can see the flaw in this line of reasoning.  Batman chooses a bulky appearance for the same reason Spiderman chooses a lanky one, or Rorschach chooses to be an enigma hidden behind a layer of thick clothing.

That's my rebuttal to her poor choice of logic.  Now, if only I could make a million dollars a year debunking her, like she makes spreading her vitriol.  One can dream...


I am currently having an interesting conversations in the comments section of an image on Imgur, regarding asexuality.  Being a person who is, I've also been asked a few questions and given a few anecdotes over my time.  Now, I shall take a moment to explain a few things, whereby I shall expound after.  This might become a two-part blog post, maybe more, since people do seem to like my shorter blog posts better.  I suppose that's all about digestion, eh?

Also, as this is about sexuality, or lack thereof, the content might be a bit more mature than other subjects.  If anything related to this sort of discussion may be unfavorable reading material to you, I completely understand, and suggest you stop reading now. Not everyone likes to discuss or read this sort of thing, but it's for education, so come on a journey with me.

Let's start with the dictionary definition, using google.  You can have google define words for you by typing something like this into the search box.
So, using the first definition of asexual, we find it is defined as a lack of sexual feelings or associations.  The second definition deals with a biological definition, regarding things which reproduce without sex.  It's important to make this distinction, since you were probably taught only the latter in science class.  Bacteria reproduce that way, for example.  However, we're using the first definition, because humans are biologically sexual creatures.  Some humans like myself, however, lack the desire (or in some cases, even find it undesirable) to have sex.  Let's try to relate this to the readers who don't understand.  It's understandable if one doesn't, given one's sexuality.

It's simplest for me to explain it like this.  Cats are cute, and so are women, but I don't have a desire to have sex with either.  I don't have the desire to have sex as a sexual person apparently does.  I do like the aesthetic of a body I find attractive, but it's exactly the same kind of aesthetic as I find in a car, color, shape or animal that I find attractive.  Perhaps 'attractive' isn't the best word, but I think the best word is a lacuna (define:lacuna) and so I'm going to use it.  The word will mean, in this context, something I find pleasing to behold, like good music or a neat painting.  I am therefore attracted to things I find pleasing (visually, let's say) in exactly the same way as anyone else.  Imagine something you think looks good, which isn't something with which you want to have sex.  That's all the further attraction works in my head.

I realize that's a bit to comprehend, so let that soak in a moment.  Let's step back a bit, and consider the more basic argument.  I may have gotten ahead of myself, but I think this will bring it full-circle.  No sexual desire typically means that an asexual person doesn't want to have sex, but that doesn't mean the person won't.  I find, for example, that I'm not terribly interested in what most people would consider typically sexual behavior, like kissing, hugging, holding hands, &c.  I simply don't care for them.  For our purposes, things like this will be called romantic behaviors.  Even that attraction above can be considered a romantic sort of inclination, albeit in a different way (again, see lacuna).  There are people, like myself, who simply don't care for that sort of thing, also.

People like to tell me that I simply haven't found the right person, or that perhaps the right person will come along some day.  I can say with some certainty that this probably isn't the case.  Being both asexual and aromantic, I'm literally quite content to simply have friends and be single for the entirety of my life.  This isn't to say that I would flatly turn down someone who was interested in me, but there would be considerable conversation before I would let a person into such a relationship with myself.  It would be unfair, I presume, to bring a sexual romantic into a relationship with myself.  This isn't the case for everyone.  Some people are completely content to simply engage in sexual behavior on the other person's behalf.  I'm not intrigued by that idea, so I don't approach it.  Even further, it's not something I want, in the same ways I presume a straight man is not interested in other men.

Which brings me to another interesting bit about myself.  I would call myself a 'straight' asexual, although that term probably doesn't mean the same thing to me as it does to the average 'straight' person.  In general, the average female form is a bit more aesthetically pleasing (comely?) than the average male form.  However, and this must be stressed, I don't care to have sex with anyone.  That's all that asexual means.  I only bring up this section because people ask about it sometimes.  It's obviously redundant to use 'straight' to mean 'heterosexual' in this way, because a 'heterosexual asexual' is a redundant term.  It simply doesn't make sense, and that's why I've taken the careful liberty of explaining it separately here.

Similarly, please keep in mind that these are my experiences alone.  Other asexuals will possibly identify differently in these ways. In fact, has lots of people who identify as non-typical sexualities and romanticisms.  If you think you might be among this group, or someone you know is, definitely check that out.  It will answer your more generic and more specific questions reasonably.

I'd like to make one final point before I end this post. Desires and urges are two different things in this way of thinking.  Occasionally, I have a need to relieve the such an urge, but there's no desire connected with it.  It's not so different from when one needs to urinate. I'm trying to keep this as polite as possible, mind you.  I simply take care of that urge, and go on with my life.  Usually this happens when my dreams start to become strange, presumably from the buildup of various hormones.  This is typically what prompts me to such action.  There is no sexual desire involved, merely an urge like needing to eat, or use the bathroom.  I've never had sex, and I've got no desire to do so.  I don't even have a desire to do what I must occasionally, but the urge is biological.  I similarly have no real desire to urinate, but occasionally I have the urge to eliminate urine from my body.  Semen is no different, to me.  In a sexual person, it's quite a different kind of thing.

It's not that I don't understand desires.  Every once in a while, I will get a craving for a particular kind of food, or to play a particular board game or video game.  Those are very much real desires.  I reckon that some people want sexuality in the same way that I want a really good dinner.  This isn't being dismissive of sexuality, mind you.  I'm not trying to defend or break down either viewpoint.  I'm merely showing what I see to be evidently true.  There's no shame in realizing one's sexuality, or lack thereof.  If you enjoy something, and it's not hurting anyone, then fully enjoy it!

I will post a second part eventually.  I need to get some good food now!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Powerball and You

The Powerball jackpot is currently estimated to be $1.5 Billion.  That's an incredible amount of money.  If you worked 40 hours a week for 50 years (2080 hours a year), a reasonable assumption, your hourly wages would be in the ballpark of $14,000.  That's a lot of money to make every hour.  To put that into perspective, let's break down a 40 hour work week for you.

Your new work schedule would be living wherever you want, doing whatever you want, for approximately as long as the money lasts.  I think most people could reasonably live forever on this, and let's presume you make it last until you die.  Let's also presume that you've got around 50 years of working life ahead of you.  Generally this will prove untrue, but it's simpler for the numbers.  The working week for this illustration will be from 8am to 4pm.  We're also averaging your winnings over a 40 hour work week.  Real lottery payouts are only once yearly, or once up front.

Pretending for a moment that you wake at 8am every single week day, by 12pm you've made more money than half the people in the country make in a year.  You could hire someone to do all your housework full-time and you'd have them paid off every year at Noon on January 1.  You decide to make a cup of coffee, and start watching television.  At 4pm on January 1, your new truck is paid off.
The next day you decide to do things a bit different.  A decent house can be had in most parts of the country for under $100,000.  By the end of the day on January 2nd, you have paid your new house off.  It's Tuesday of your first work week, and you've spent more money than four people make in a year.  On Wednesday, you decide to play video games all day.  At 4pm, you have enough money to buy several years worth of groceries for perhaps ten small families.  You being you, however, decide to buy a small airplane and get a pilot's license.  With the money left over, you decide to hire a pilot to fly you, in your airplane, to Hawaii, where you enjoy a party.  Of course, you don't arrive for another day, and on January 4, you now have enough money to hire a very fancy boat back to the mainland.  As you embark across the ocean on day 5, you don't spend any money.  Instead, you decide to save that extra hundred thousand for the weekend.  Wouldn't want to spoil that killer party.  The money you made today will allow you to throw a two-day party in the desert with your closest 500 friends.  You could buy each of them a 12-pack of beer and still have enough money left over to feed them all fast food dinners.

Week one is over, have you run out of ideas for things to spend your money on yet?  If so, that's good, because you're going to make another 576,000 or so per week for the next 30 years, give or take.  I suggest investing and donating a significant portion of it, as this will lessen your tax burden, and will definitely make you look like a really nice person.  Realistically, it's always best to take the 30 year option, and make sure you put enough in some kind of semi-liquid investments.  You don't want to shoot the entire wad in one place and have nothing to retire on.  Going back to a regular job after a few years of living like royalty won't suit you one bit.  Remember, you're going to have enough money in one lump sum to buy a nice house every single day for 30 years or more.  Trying not to spend it as though you're buying a house every day is in your own best interest.

Some people are going to ask you for money.  You can't give to everyone, so decide a small amount you're willing to part with up front.  Once you hit it, that's it.  Of course, you can make exceptions for friend and family.  You'll have enough money in the first two weeks to satisfy almost any desire your family and friends should have for the rest of your lives.  Health care, transportation, food and so on.  This is an astounding amount of money.  Don't waste it too much.  If you feel so inclined, send me some!  However, don't feel obligated to do it.  It is your money after all.

If you're still reading this, take one last thought.  The money won't change your character, it will simply make you able to act that character out.  You're going to find out pretty quickly what kind of people hang around you, as well as what kind of person you are.  Only the latter is important.  With that kind of money, you can get rid of bad friends, but you can't buy a new attitude.

What would I do with the money?  Half would go into investments, including maxing out my IRAs every year. One-third of the remainder would go to various charities and institutions I feel are worthwhile.  One-third further would go toward helping my friends and family achieve various things.  The last one-third I would divide between all my necessities and fun times.  Run like wild on around $5M per year, for the next 30 years.  Then those investments would start kicking in, hopefully, and I'd retire happily somewhere, and live roughly the same on that income for the following 30 years, if I were so lucky to live to be 90.

Peace to all of you!

Monday, January 11, 2016

An Open Letter to Sean Hannity

Let me preface this letter by stating that I have no party affiliation, and I'm probably not voting for any of the candidates mentioned herein.

This is in regards to the show playing around 3:30pm Eastern, January 11, 2016.  I can find no recording or transcript as of this writing, so it shall be difficult for me to reference it except from memory.

Mr. Hannity,

Today, on my drive home, I was listening to the radio.  As one station faded out, I hit the scan button, and landed upon your announcer-like voice, discussing the recent polls.  It was to your pleasure that this poll was showing numbers indicating that three Republican (Rubio, Trump and Cruz, if I recall) candidates had more percentage points of support than a particular Democrat (Hillary, as it were).  This isn't exactly shocking, considering the nature of these polls.  You then went on to inform us that Democrats had a historically low level of support (presumably referencing this poll again), being extra sure to mention that all parties had the lowest level of support ever.  Conspicuously, it was the only number given, somewhere around 29%.

After rambling on about this topic for a bit longer, and pandering to those who inevitably listen to your show most, you decided to take a phone call.  The fellow who answered had a question for you, approximately this:
If a Democrat were to win the election (nomination, etc), which one would you rather it be?  Bernie or Hillary?
In what I can only presume to be typical fashion for you, the answer you gave was 'neither.'  This is especially unfortunate for a person who has a talk radio show based upon a supposed expertise of politics.  At least, I gather from your website that you believe this to be the case.  Perhaps you merely have a terrible publicist.  This answer demonstrates the core of the problem, for there's only two reasons such a political pundit would take it.  The first, if I'm to be polite, is that you simply don't know enough about the candidates to actually make an informed decision.  The second, a bit more dire, is that you simply don't care, because the issue are of no importance to you.  Alternately, there could be a third reason, such that you literally are not smart enough to make your own decision.

Let's take the implications here, though, as we walk through a bit more of the conversation.  Previous to the caller coming on, you informed us that Hillary was indeed a person not to be trusted, and you were indeed quite sure of this.  However, you backpedal here a bit, explaining to the caller that you simply didn't think you knew enough about her to think that she was a viable candidate.  Certainly, I'm not voting for her, but I can at least give cogent, coherent reasons.  You can't simultaneously be absolutely sure that she is not genuine, while saying you don't know enough about her to make that same determination.

Moving on, it's important to note that the caller did indeed point out that you were avoiding the question, and you claimed you were not.  Fortunately, you didn't get too meta here.  You simply don't like candidates you don't seem to know anything about, and that a fine position to hold.  Not lying about that position might help you seem more honest in the future.

Again, the caller tried to clarify, and you simply refused him.  This is where the call does indeed get good, and demonstrates truly your intentions in this game.  You asked the candidate where he was from, at some point.  He mentioned that he'd been living here about 5 years, but was from Iraq.  This must've touched a nerve in you somewhere.  I'll give you a hint for next time, it's probably not a good idea to compare the president of America to the former dictator.  I say next time because you flubbed it royally here.

You proceeded to tell the caller, an apparent Iraqi native, that having Hillary or Bernie would be exactly as bad as you purport Obama to be.  It is pertinent to note here that you said (and I'm paraphrasing here - you've got the audio, I presume, so post a copy somewhere if you want to make your defense) that choosing between the two would be like choosing between Hussein and Bashar al-Assad.  To a person who apparently formerly lived under the rule of at least one of them, I'm sure your remarks were laughable and tragic at the same time.

This fellow wasn't asking you to support one of these candidates, he wanted to know which you thought would be the least detrimental to you.  He then pointed out that Bernie was indeed favored over any of those four, and you told him that he was wrong.  Your response for this was not any actual data, but simply a ploy to turn the discussion back upon how much you dislike Hillary.  You implied that the caller was incorrect, and then reminded us that the three Republicans were indeed showing higher polling numbers than Hillary.

I'm not sure, after hearing that bit, that I can believe you are actually uneducated in this regard.  This eliminates that third possibility.  It's telling that you're so concerned by a candidate that you can't even address a valid point because you think giving him a few seconds of airtime might actually increase his rating.  This shows a severe lack of preparation, talking about frontrunners but being unable to address such a simple inquiry.  Not only that, it shows a severe level of intellectual dishonesty, not that I think you much care.  If you ever come across this letter, I reckon you'll attempt to dodge the actual criticisms I've put forth.  It's certainly simpler to fabricate your own straw man than to deal with the issues at hand.  Still, I wouldn't mind being disappointed in that regard.

This does lead me to one conundrum of my own.  Given one side or the other winning, which candidate would I actually want from that side?  I'm not in favor of any candidate, and I don't like either of the two main parties.  So, in the interest of actually answering the question you were unable to, here's the candidate I'd prefer to see on either side.  Yes, like you, I wouldn't actually pick any of them, but they're the lesser of the evils, I suppose.

For the democrats, I'd probably tick my box on Bernie.  I like the gist of what he's going for, even if I don't completely agree with some of what he says.  I agree with more of the ideals he's putting forward than I do with Hillary.

Of the three candidates you mentioned, Cruz is from Canada and therefore cannot become president.  I'm still in awe that most political pundits, including yourself, continue to overlook this.  As a strict supporter of the constitution myself, I think the onus would also be on you to remind people that he can't actually become president.  Trump has absolutely no problem bankrupting people simply because it's legal.  As you and I are people who are rightly worried about the economy, I think I cannot support someone who would willingly bankrupt entire collections of people just to get better benefits from other groups of people, and further himself only.  This leaves Rubio, the man who says that education is important, but also presided over the $2.3B in cuts to Florida school systems.  Ergo, my vote would be for Cruz, since he cannot become president.

Perhaps take a moment to remove yourself from your echo chamber (all sides could stand to do this right now) and think about what you're actually saying, from now on.  I gave your show a listen, and it's clearly not part of my echo chamber.  Indeed, your stances on lots of thing are apparently quite different from mine, and I listened to you for only ten minutes or so.  Let's try to tone down the hate.  Unlike you, I haven't got a radio show, and I'm not reaching hundreds of thousands (or perhaps millions) of ears.  Like you, however, I have a responsibility to be equitable when I'm speaking to anyone.  Many people take you quite seriously, and equating our President to a dictator is probably among the worst ways to foster open communication between parties.  You'll never appeal to the other side until you can learn to treat them as human.  My own beliefs about Obama's character, for example, do not factor in to my opinions of the actions he (or rather, the entire government, as you also like to forget) takes in office.

Martial law is not here.  Obama has not passed any executive orders declaring himself a dictator.  The economy is actually improving by many metrics.  Instead of attacking the other side, engage with them.  What can we do better, as a whole?  That means not just addressing the words that come from the president, but the actions of the entire government.

That is, of course, unless you've actually run out of valid criticisms.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Thoughts on Memory

I was sitting and thinking the other day, as I am inclined to do.  A thought occurred to me, about the nature of memory.  It's interesting that we have the ability to remember things, and to be aware of this action.  Do most animals have this awareness also, or is it perhaps something that only creatures with a higher order of brain function develop?

This got me to thinking a bit more, and I accidentally stumbled upon another idea that has been rattling around my brain for a time.  Memory, whether it be in our brains or on a computer chip, tends to require something in which to exist.  Senescence tends to be such that as the thing that holds the memory deprecates, so too does the memory.

I hit therefore upon a strange anomaly, I think, for which I don't have a simple explanation.  Let's use a computer as our example.  When a hard drive is recorded to, the memory (or data, as it were) is a real thing so long as the hard drive is a thing.  Hard drives are not special such that they seem to be aware of their own ability to recall such data, nor the entire computer for that matter.  I think it's interesting that we humans can have memories.  This led me to a more fundamental thing, concerning consciousness.

The most compelling argument I can think of, for some sort of consciousness beyond the life of the body.  We are, indeed, able to comprehend our current situation, and I find this odd indeed.  If it isn't clear to begin with, based on my previous articles, I'm not a believer in reincarnation or afterlife or any such thing as that.  However, the thought enters my head from time to time, that for me to be able to experience the present, there must be some kind of future.  It is perhaps not the most logical thought on its surface, but let me continue.

Looking back on my life, I certainly can't remember everything that's ever happened to me. However, I know that my memories exist whether they were real, or fabricated by my brain.  Nonetheless, a record of my present state remains somewhere.  Perhaps, as I've always supposed, it is simply that the future me exists that I'm able to experience the present.  However, I've another hypothesis, and this is that something does exist independent of ourselves.  This sort of consciousness would exist simultaneously within us and not.  The fact that I can think about this life now, means that perhaps in the future I'm also thinking about it.  How odd it would be to have self-awareness and yet not have any way to demonstrate it.

Certainly, the argument isn't that there is any sort of afterlife.  I don't think that makes any sense based on our science at present.  I do wonder, though, from the opposite vantage point, sometimes.  How is it possible I'm experiencing this life at all if I can't observe it from any time other than now?  Eventually dying, I think, is not unlike a hard drive that is destroyed or wiped clean.  Essentially, when the data is removed, it's exactly as though it never existed.  At some point, the last computer will record its last thought, and eventually the magnetism will fade.  No record will be left of whatever was upon it.

The main difference here is that we are not hard drives.  I do not believe that there is anything beyond life, and that's why I cherish it so.  This is something of a lacuna for me, something I can't put into words yet, but I think there's a hint of it.  How is it possible, I wonder, to experience the 'now' that we all feel (or I presume as much, based on the available evidence) if there is nothing after the 'now' that is our life/universe/timeline/etc?

Please don't be confused, this isn't an argument for a god or another plane of existence or anything, though I suppose some could use it to that end.  I'm simply explaining that I can understand why it's unnerving for some people to try to comprehend that this is all we have.  A cassette tape can be played over and over again until it wears out, and we can replay our own memories over and over again until they become unintelligible.  Is it possible that we, with our data-storing brains, are somehow like that cassette tape?  Maybe something exists even within our own universe, that can "record" our consciousness and play it back and forth, without our knowledge.

In another way of thinking, the CD in your player doesn't know you exist, but it can play the songs over and over.  From a record's perspective, if a record were sentient, would it know or care that we are playing it?  Would it only experience as linearly temporal the grooves as the needle reads it?  The current time on the track you are playing is it's current state of existence.  When the record is done, does the record die?

What if consciousness is similar?  We're living our lives in the present, simultaneously, because the cosmic needle is rocking back and forth in the grooves we can barely even comprehend?  This doesn't imply any kind of creator, nor anything to run the 'needle,' it only is an experiment in thought.  Am I simply remembering my present from a future vantage, perhaps as someone completely different from who I am?  Perhaps I am my own avatar, a strange duality of life and unlife.  In exactly the same way that I am not the bits in your e-mail, but nonetheless the e-mail records my thoughts as I type them.  Is this blog aware it's not posting things of its own accord?  Does the server think all the signals are its own, the traffic flowing through it like the experiences in front of our faces?

These are the kinds of thoughts that keep me awake sometimes.  I realize this isn't the most coherent blog post, and I know I've not really explained myself well, but I hope I've conveyed the basic idea.  What are your thoughts?