Can We Stop Calling Them Pro-Choice Now?

Look, I consider myself pro-choice. Ish. On the one hand, I embrace the pro-life argument: From conception, the zygote/embryo/fetus is a living organism; it’s human (I don’t really buy that it’s not quite human yet or whatever the justification is); morally, we’re left with murder, or at best, self-defense.

I guess I shouldn’t say “pro-choice” but “anti-law”. ‘cause if we take the moral absolute for our baseline for law, we end up with every woman’s uterus being a potential crime-scene. The potential for government mischief is boundless.
Abortions have always been done. The strongest deterrent, however, has probably been religion. I think if abortions are to be prevented, it’s really got to be up to religion. (It sure would be nice if the government stopped paying for them, though.)
But let’s not split hairs, shall we? While I think only a very small fraction of pro-life types are actually anti-sex or anti-choice, the mouthpieces of choice are, essentially, pro-abortion. The rabid hatred of Sarah Palin over Trig was indicative. But the howling over a benign Superbowl commercial that didn’t even mention abortion?
Yeah. You guys aren’t pro-choice. You’re pro-abortion. Abortion, remarkably, survived WWII without the taint of eugenics. Margaret Sanger was all about stopping the non-whites from reproducing, yet somehow remains a hero and frequently cited hero for Planned Parenthood. (At least the FBI has the taste to be a little ashamed of Hoover.) Planned Parenthood’s holy grail is forced sterilization; Not so much with the “pro-choice”.
Now all the feminist groups have aligned with the environmental groups, and the environmental groups have never relinquished their Malthusian influences either. John Holdren advises Obama on “science” matters, and he’s a big fan of forced abortions and other means of “birth control”, too.
So, yeah. Not pro-choice. Like many other slippery moral paths, an expression of a desire for “freedom” to do something traditionally considered immoral hides a desire to force people onto that path.

Rape vs. Cuckoldry

In what seems to me to be a shining example of “us vs. them” syndrome, a debate is going on about which is worse being raped, or being cuckolded (in the biological sense of raising another man’s child). Via Instapundit. Arguments are being made based on financial costs, emotional damage, etc.

But the only point in having this debate is to try to score a point against the opposite sex. Just as men and women are different, they have different ways of hurting each other. Even if one is “worse” than the other by some standard, it doesn’t really say anything by itself about the conflicts between men and women.

Just as I think collectivism makes for bad government, I think it also makes for a bad way to try to resolve interpersonal issues. One should worry materially less about what “men” do and what “women” do than what the particular men and women in one’s life do.

The kids have been on a real “King of the Hill” kick lately. That show, if you’ve never seen it, features a character, Dale, whose son Joseph is clearly not his. Dale is a comical character, cowardly and stupid, and his cuckolding by his wife played for laughs in both his and others’ inability to see the obvious. (Joseph is around 14 through most of the series, and Dale’s wife’s affair is still going on when the series starts.)

But from the start, Dale’s devotion to his son (such as it is) is the bedrock of the family. And as the series progresses and his wife rededicates herself to him, it turns out to be Joseph’s real father who ends up lonely and isolated, watching his son grow up to admire and emulate another man.

It’s a very funny show, but I don’t think I’ve seen the topic handled more thoroughly and sensitively anywhere else. And I think it’s more interesting than trying to figure out who hurts who more, men or women. Because I think we all do a pretty good job of that—and keeping score is probably just going to make us all look bad.

Geek Jobs (bumped and updated)

Back when Computer Gaming World magazine was still in print, you’d occasionally get stories about how some flack was talking about how their new graphics engine was enhanced to give Lara Croft an especially realistic butt jiggle.

As a programmer, it always amazes me that some programmers get paid to, you know, program butt jiggle. Or breast jiggle. And, now: pubic hair.

Regarding this pubic hair, the first thing that occurred to me was: Well, now, actors gain and lose weight all the time, they dye and cut their hair or grow it out, was it really so hard to go without “grooming” for a few weeks to get a more “natural” look?

Then I read the part of the article where it mentions “brazilians” and wondered exactly how close up (and on what body parts) this movie was gonna get.

Then it occurred to me that a computer programmer probably wrote a “pubic hair” routine that’s going to be used.

And it struck me what an odd world we live in.

I was also reminded of something Ralph Bakshi said about when he was animating his adult features. To paraphrase, he said that it was nearly impossible to get animators who could do nudity. They would either be too timid, prudish or giggling—or they’d be heavy breathing and too worked up to draw.

Fortunately, programmers mainly have to type.

Update: See what I mean?

Insomnia’s Invisible Casualties

I find things on the ‘net. I mean, sure, we all do. But I find stuff that makes people go “How the hell did you find that?” Weird combinations of words, mostly, or very specific combinations of words. But most people who I have any call to share my surfing habits with end up with links that they never would have expected to find.

I should make a career out it. “Links for those suffering from Internet ennui.”

Anyway, the last few nights I’ve had trouble sleeping. My numbers aren’t good and that means I’m supposed to rest, but if I’m doing a lot of resting, I end up unable to sleep. (I plan to remedy this, but it’s too late to handle this particular night.) And, hell, Thursday is the Halloween Haunt! So the late night awakeness isn’t so bad and it’ll wear me out so that I can sleep.

Tonight I stumbled upon a Cosmopolitan link. You remember Cosmo: It’s what women read in the ’70s to be “liberated”. It’s 80% sex on the cover, and 80% ads on the inside, if memory serves. They have a website. And the thing I stumbled upon is the description of a sexual position.

It’s not NSFW (SFW?), and I’ll leave it to the less delicate of you to discuss the merits of the sexual position discussed (link), but what caught my eye was this one line of copy: “Raise your legs to an eye-popping 90-degree angle…”

Now, my first thought was, “How the hell can a 90-degree angle be eye-popping? A 90-degree angle is a 90-degree angle!” I realize that these things are supposed to sound exciting, but do we really need to try to dress up basic geometry?

Maybe it’s eye-popping, I thought, because it’s exotic? But, really, there’s nothing very exotic about an “L” shape. It’s half a square, for crying out loud! It’s hard to imagine a less daring (and more non-committal) angle. Neither acute nor obtuse, neither this way nor that. Two line segments in search of a hypotenuse.

And then I wondered if it was eye-popping because it required limberness. I could imagine an extreme stretch causing my eyes to pop-out. Though usually it’s the muscles that start popping first.

But once again, 90 degrees is about as unchallenging an angle possible, stretch-wise. That’s basically called “sitting up straight”. If you can’t do it, consult your physician. Hardly seems very sexy for a sexy magazine that’s obsessed with sex.

Other things observed: They have a whole mess of these sex positions. By my calculations, given that each print issue of Cosmo offers 101 new positions, and they’ve been in print for about 40 years, they should be able to come up with about a billion positions in toto.

My favorite part about this feature, besides the bombast (which perhaps explains why some women are dissatisfied in the first place) is a little blurb after each description called “Why You’ll Love It”. They have that in the guy-version of Cosmo, too, and it says the same thing after every position: “Because it’s sex.” The girl version is way more complicated, including things like, “You can freely imagine George Clooney” or “You can balance your checkbook without being harassed.”

Sometimes I wonder if their heart’s really in it.

I poked around a bit more, feeling somewhat like I’d snuck in the ladies’ lavatory. There was an article about what “cuddling body language reveals”. I was surprised that there was only four options. And, it had not occurred to me until reading that one was supposed to pick one of the four forms of cuddling and stick with it, so as to be readable by body language experts. What I really didn’t get, looking at the slideshow, was why they used gay men to demonstrate things.

Then there was another article on the sex scenes they wanted to see in the new television season. Ten shows. I haven’t seen any of them.

Maybe I’m not the target demo?

This is the sort of rambling that occurs when one should be sleeping, but isn’t. My blog is one of insomnia’s invisible casualties. And if you’ve read this far, so are you.

Free To Be?

Darleen Click at Protein Wisdom links to a story on a couple raising a child as an “it”. I had some relatives–conservative Christians, no less–who were enamored of the “Free to Be…You and Me” thing back in the ‘70s. I was pretty young when I first heard, and I found it sort of creepy for some reason.

Which isn’t to say that I didn’t believe that gender stereotypes might not have been instituted or unduly enforced by social norms. Or don’t, even. Obviously society is an influence. And as I’ve said, a sane society would encourage norms while tolerating outliers.

I mean, logically, one can loosen certain social restrictions when the mere basics of survival are not at risk, right? Maybe not, but the most easily recalled situations always seem to involve chucking morals out the window. And society follows.

But the ’70s did a number on kids. A lot of girls grew up believing that the traditional female role–mother, wife, caretaker–was an unworthy pursuit. In other words, the “liberation” of women worked out to recasting them into yet another rigid mold which didn’t even have any of the biological imperatives as an advantage.

This can be seen in lots of other areas as well, of course. Ending racism didn’t actually mean ending racism, it meant changing who it was okay to be racist against. Sexual liberation didn’t mean freedom to not be promiscuous. Indeed, few things (if any) sold as “freedom” in recent years have actually amount to more freedom.

I was sitting around the table with my mother and stepfather and sister this weekend, and all of us had, at some point or another, believed to some degree or another in an undue influence of society on gender. But as we watched The Flower and my nieces play–they had set up a dress shop, cobbled together with two decades of toys from various grandchildren–expressions of both femininity and entrepreneurism were as natural as breathing.

And this is with two completely different styles of parenting. My nieces were actually raised in some kind of limited tech Quaker-type community until recently. I’ve always encouraged the more masculine aspects of my daughters because, well, I’m a guy and that’s what I know, but also because I think it’s good for them.

So far as I can tell, all these girls are as girly as they started out.

And I daresay, we, all of us, felt a little cheated by this unsupported bit of dogma (society is the sole arbiter of gender roles) masquerading as enlightenment, expressed and regurgitated in so many different ways over so many years.

But I think this next generation is going to be themselves, no matter how uncomfortable their transgressive insistence on being very definitely male or female makes the old folks.

In For A Penny, In For A Pounding

I might as well go full NSFW here–well, not me, but this site which details WWII sexual psyops. The various countries embroiled in WWII used (or tried to use) sexual suggestions to demoralize enemy troops.

This site details the perversion, the anti-semitism, and the psychology used on your (great?)grand-parents to get them to surrender or turn back. In this day of “2 girls 1 cup” (never seen it, thanks) these pictures seem positively quaint, but they’re not all blurred out so beVARE (as Bela Lugosi would say).

Interestingly, the author’s thesis is that these psychological attacks had the reverse effect. The men would use the naked girl pictures as pin-ups. This tells you something very basic and true about beauty, if true. The picture–the promise of beauty, love and sex–completely overrides any text.

In the soldier’s mind, it’s the girl he’s fighting for. And since she’s in his mind, he’s not likely to believe any of your libelous statements about her. She’s Rita Hayworth in The Strawberry Blonde or Lauren Bacall in To Have and Have Not or maybe even Judy Garland in Love Finds Andy Hardy.

You’re likely to just make him mad by suggesting anything else.

Ears and Links

About two years ago, the Barbarienne jammed her finger in my ear. Because of her age, her finger was just the right size to get into my ear canal; because of her strength, she jammed it in far enough to scratch my eardrum.

The resultant infection was so painful and persistent that I thought I might actually lose some hearing. It took weeks to clear up fully, but I was back hearing noises in that annoying 16-20K frequency range again in no time.

Which is a propos of nothing except that I recognized the problem sooner this time and didn’t let the infection go too far before going to the local “urgent care”. (Less than $100 and 30 minutes, with almost no paperwork.)

That, and I’ve been accumulating links from around the web but have been unable to cobble together much in the way of coherent posts. So here’s a round-up.

A reprint of a massive 1981 article on Love Canal, and a 2004 follow-up, both at Reason. Massive government screw up plus hysteria equals bad law.

Co-D&D creator Dave Arneson died. It doesn’t surprise me that there’s some rancor and controversy over who did what. Even if TSR hadn’t been dominated by a fairly shady couple, that might’ve arose. I’m glad the two did what they did. Of course, Gygax died at 69 and Arneson at 61, which might suggest the peril of too much gaming.

Vodkapundit tweeted this cute ad for–hell, I don’t even know. Sabre? Saber! Still don’t know what that is. One of these new “body products” they’re pumping out for men. I’m bad at this stuff. I have no products. (I kind of thought “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” was not awful, but I can’t imagine personally being more uncomfortable than had I been in that situation myself.)

These body product commercials amaze me, because there seems to be a common thread. In particular, there’s some severe exaggeration of the (formerly subtle) trope that women will pursue you if you spray this crap on you. (Pheremones! Science! 60% of the time, it works 100% of the time!) Like the Axe one where hundreds of women chase one guy on a desert island.

So, here they’re saying, well, you know this isn’t going to happen. What with the shortage of midichlorians on this planet and whatnot. You’re too smart to believe this stuff, right? But, you know, maybe it works a little. Can you afford to take that chance?

Reverse-double-secret psychology? If I thought they were aimin’ it at me, I’d probably be insulted. But, as noted, I don’t buy “product”.

Speaking of sexism, a bunch of people were tweeting this Naomi Wolf article on porn and pubic hair, blunting men’s appetites for sex. First of all, I swear I read this years ago. Turns out, Althouse was blogging how old it was two years ago. And its was just as dumb then. The only thing that can turn a man off “the real thing” is a woman. And she has to work hard at it. (Womens’ studies classes can give a gal all the ammo she needs, tho’.) And then the man is mostly not going to want sex with her in particular. That is, a man has to experience a lot of women like that to really be turned off sex. (I can only assume Naomi Wolf doesn’t know very many men.)

Well, okay, in fairness, entire cultures can probably gear down their people’s sex drives, by interjecting politics between Man and Woman. That might be what’s going on in the developed world. Then again, it might be some other physiological factor.

In any case–with all due apologize to FARK–it ain’t guys going, “She’s got pointy knees,” which is all Wolf’s argument boils down to. Guys put Betty Grable and Rita Hayworth up on their lockers 60 years ago, but they still got busy with Betty and Rita next door.

Twitter doesn’t allow you to tweet that much, so I just linked this delightful commercial. I almost expected a flame or two, but I’m not really on the radar of the perpetually outraged. (Advanced social studies study group question: Compare & contrast this commercial to the previous one, with special emphasis on how “personal products” are marketed to men versus women.)

Frank J asks the critical question of our day: Who is the more perfect leader? Obama or Kim Jong Il? The answer may surprise you. Then again, it may not.

Somebody I follow on Twitter, probably @thecardioexpert, linked this article on cholesterol. I like these kinds of things because the way our media presents things, it’s all “OMG! THIS IS DEADLY! AVOID IT OR DIE!” And it doesn’t matter if it’s salt or asbestos or alar or what. You don’t get a sense of the mechanics. And then you die because they didn’t warn you against eating broken glass.

I haven’t played with this site yet, but it’s about musical instruction and resources. What I really want is to be able to score a piece on the computer–full orchestra–and have it come out with those instruments. I’ve seen a few things that do this, but the output embarrasses me, it’s so bad. Obviously, there’s a limit to how good it can be, but there should be moments when it sounds like something other than a fleet of DX7s.

Then there’s the freaky bird here. Giant eyes–I mean, really giant eyes–are freaky. Reminds me of this guy who has remade Homer Simpson and Super Mario into their human selves. Also Jessica Rabbit, who doesn’t look that freaky. At first I thought, “Huh, typical guy.” Then I realized she’s not nearly as humanized as the other two, plus her eyes are mostly closed reducing the freak out factor.

Lastly, there’s this kinda-SIMS-y, kinda-The Movies-y, kinda-Playskool-y site where you can make your own 3D movies very easily. I haven’t tried it. But I’ve seen worse animation and voice-acting on TV.


Sonnets and Hosannas

As I grow old(er), I tend to be more convinced of the correctness of core traditional values, but equally so of the correctness of limited government. Hector and I have wrestled over religion before but for right now, I believe that the current Church is too enervated to roll back the tide of libertine-ism.

And, I should note, I’m not really anti-libertine-ism. I think there are probably some people who do the least damage they’re likely to do if left to pursue their own self-gratification.

It just seems to be lacking as a social survival strategy.

I was taken by the use of this sonnet in Adventureland. (Shakespeare’s sonnets are like the “Twilight Zone"s of poetry, they always have a twist ending.) You may recall that the main character sites this sonnet as the reason for his virginity; to wit, that he decided he’d rather forgo sex than have it with someone he didn’t want to be slave to her desires. (My favorite, by the way, has always been sonnet #130, which I take as a 16th century "FACE” to other poets.)

Now, it’s probably not a good idea to encourage kids to pattern their romantic lives after the poetry of 16th century courtiers, much less said courtiers’ actual lives. But it occurred to me that a possible secular solution to licentiousness might be self-esteem.

But wait, you cry! Schools focus on self-esteem! If this were to be true, wouldn’t our children already be experiencing the benefits?

At which suggestion, I point and laugh. And then feel a little bad for you that you don’t know what self-esteem really is, or that it can’t be given through trophies or awards, but must come from actual accomplishment.

Anyway, lacking a connection to their history, lacking any real knowledge or skills, young adults end up not valuing themselves. What’s more, without getting puritanical or priggish, they don’t seem to know from junk.

Now, again, I’m not particularly anti-junk. But I think a steady diet of junk food, junk art, junk accomplishments is naturally going to lead to junk sex, junk jobs and a complete bafflement as to what the hell happened–how one ended up with a junk life.

In Adventureland, the lead has a sense of not wanting his life to be junk. And it’s telling (and accurate, I think) that those around him particularly mock him for those things that he values. (You know, you can’t really be mocked for something you don’t care about, which if you think about it, puts a different spin on a lot of “comedy” today.)

Adventureland is cast in the mold of an ‘80s teen sex farce, which only gave a fleeting nod (at best) to anything not junk. (They were junk, after all.) But that atmosphere pervaded the ’70s, and into the mid-’80s, when AIDS put a damper on things.

Not just sex, either. If I were to try to capture that atmosphere, it would be a kind of nihilistic, materialistic, hedonistic world where good acts of individuals were overpowered by evil organizations. “If only,” the zeitgeist seemed to say, “there were no religions or corporations, we could all live in harmony and do what we wanted until we died, because that’s all there is or ever will be.”

It’s a seductive philosophy–I mean that in the way that a Twinkie is seductive or a $10 whore: That is, if you’re trained to simply take the quickest, easiest, fastest way to satisfy an urge–or worse, you don’t even have an inkling that there is another way, then the conclusion seems logical. Inevitable.

So, the extraordinary thing is how people immersed in this do end up valuing things that the pervasive social message says they should not. It wouldn’t surprise me to survey kids like that and find real accomplishments compared to their peers. (I don’t, by the way, mean to draw any kind of absolute there.) How does someone like James end up the way he does? And how is he able to stick to his guns? (I actually think the current system puts women at a serious disadvantage sexually, but that’s another topic for another day.)

It also wouldn’t surprise me to find that a strong education with an emphasis on historical traditions and an increasing emphasis on skills would reduce the amount of junk sex, and certainly the number of junk lives.

Which makes this one of those things that I write that seems stupidly obvious by the time I finish.

Proudly Putting Children Second!

New mom Freeman Hunt tweeted this referencing France’s coverage of plastic surgery after birth, presuming the “damage” done was caused by being pregnant or giving birth. But I just assume that they write these things to piss people off. It’s about getting the mother “back in the saddle” as quickly as possible after delivery.

Now, this seems like not a bad idea, exactly, if not entirely the correct focus. I think there’s a reason for women to have sex drive kicked down a notch after delivering. That is, they’re supposed to be focusing on the baby they already have.

I feel like this is the key graf, designed to inflame:

Whereas in England, childbirth is all about what is best for the child, in France there is much more emphasis on the mother. And by default, the father – or at least his carnal desires. Returning to a normal sex life is seen of paramount importance.

If we wanted to get brutally biological here, contrary to folk wisdom, nature does not protect the unborn baby over the mother. A fertile female is worth considerably more than the potential represented by a single child. This accounts for the huge percentages of miscarriages. The baby represents a huge gamble, survival-wise. (Indeed, one of the great parts of Defiance focuses on that.)

But I’ve never met a mother worthy of the title who wouldn’t sacrifice herself for her children.

As I read this article, it sounded increasingly like there was massive social pressure to neglect the baby.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it but the whole thing sounds like it comes from a country with a low reproduction rate.