Thursday, March 31, 2016

The sad day

Jian Ghomeshi has been found innocent in his sexual assault trial.  It is a wretched outcome because there is no doubt that he is guilty of assaulting a large number of women.  When 20+ people come forward to insist that a powerful, influential, wealthy man attacked them there is no reasonable position that clings to doubt.

However, there are two component to guilt - truth, and law.  Jian is guilty from a truth standpoint, no question.  Unfortunately the reason he was acquitted from a law standpoint is that the women testifying against him had problems with their testimony.  There were not just small inconsistencies, but large outright falsehoods that were brought to light.  When you assemble their stories Jian's guilt is still completely clear, but in a trial when a witness brings out false information all the rest of their statements are no longer seen as reliable.

I understand why this is.  Imagine for example Jian were accused of murder and all evidence pointed to him.  Further imagine that a friend of his called Bob was providing Jian with an alibi, assuring everyone that he and Jian went to minigolf, dinner, and a movie that evening.  Now imagine the prosecution proved conclusively that Bob wasn't at the movie theatre nor the mini golf park that night.  We would quite reasonably conclude that Bob's testimony was extremely unreliable, and would likely ignore it in our deliberations, even if the murder took place during dinnertime.

We have to consider these things when we consider witness testimony.  The law has to look at witness statements and decide how much weight to assign them because various accounts nearly always conflict.

However, that doesn't mean that we should just throw up our hands and move on.  The question I want to know is why so much of the women's falsified testimony existed in the first place.  Part of the issue was the women not telling the truth about their contact with Jian afterwards, and that shouldn't even be part of the process at all.  If a woman comes forward to complain about an assault what happened the next day or week is *immaterial*.  The police shouldn't be asking, the lawyers in court shouldn't be allowed to ask, nobody should be able to push for that information.  It isn't part of the case, and for good reason, because making it part of the case is just going to generate exactly the false negative we saw in Jian's trial.

To me this miscarriage of justice should be a signal that we are asking the wrong questions.  We still have to insist that people tell the truth in legal proceedings if they are to be believed - removing that restriction is a disastrous mess.  However, we can stop asking assault victims all kinds of questions that aren't related to the assault, especially when those questions are of the type that people are going to want to lie about.  Of course women who contacted Jian later aren't going to want to admit that they did so.  Them doing so isn't an admission that the assault didn't happen, because we know for a fact that many abused people take time to get out of abusive situations for many reasons, but people will still judge them harshly for it.

When a woman is assaulted we should not look for reasons that it is her fault.  Short skirts, flirty behaviour, going home with a man, these are all often cited as reasons that she deserved what she got, and that is shit that needs to stop.  If we are asking women to relate all kinds of terribly embarrassing details about their sex lives and expecting perfect honesty we are going to get this same situation over again, entirely predictably.  Not only that, but we are going to convince women that they should never come forward because they will be put in the position of answering such questions.

We should not be putting hurt, vulnerable people in a position where they feel tremendous pressure to lie and then disregard their other statements based on those predictable lies.  Changing that is a thing that needs to happen, and it is slowly happening, but unfortunately not quickly enough for Jian to get the conviction he so richly deserves.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Everybody but me

In a post last week I talked about how I think my personality split into Director and Passion came about.  My idea is that it was a result of severe problems with kids at school when was in the 10-14 age range, and since all the pieces fit quite nicely the theory seems sound.  Of course with it being 25 years ago there is no way to be certain and I should definitely have some reasonable doubt as to whether or not I completely believe my own story.

Which is to say that I don't doubt my theory at all but you probably should because science.

I got a couple of comments and a concerned email about the post so I figured I should say some more things on the topic.

The first thing is that I used the word 'broken' in the post.  That isn't to suggest broken as in dysfunctional or wrong or needing immediate repair.  I don't think that is accurate at all.  I meant broken in the sense of being in two pieces, which is true.  My pieces work together pretty well though, in fact I think I work better in this regard than most everyone else I know.  All these revelations over the past year about how I work internally have been extremely useful in helping me figure out why I do things and how I can be happier and more effective, and I am confident I am in better shape now than I have ever been before in my life.

Even over the past few months I have found things being better because I am developing better routines to make sure I keep balance between my two parts.  My new exercise regiment has been really helpful in this regard because it has allowed me to express Passion in a way that I can do by myself.

A lot of people would be really upset and need help after expressing things that I did, revealing suffering like I have, but my reaction is not at all like that.  I always knew those things were terrible and I have long since moved past them.  Even writing about them was not upsetting, really, and my mood was really all about excitement at my new understanding rather than sorrow brought on by terrible memories.  I talked about the things that happened to me because they were useful context, but this is all old ground aside from the connection to my split personality.  I don't need catharsis, revenge, closure, or anything else.  At this point it is just shit that happened.

That makes it interesting to consider the idea of therapy.  A couple people suggested it and I suppose if your friends are chiming in on your blog with 'uh, dude, consider therapy...' you ought to think real hard about it, but I don't see it being useful.  Having read a lot about therapy for multiple personalities and talking to people about their therapists and what they get out of it I can't see what benefit there would be.  I think therapy is a great thing and I don't judge anyone in the slightest for getting it.  We should all have people to talk to who can help us with our problems, especially people who are neutral, not socially connected, and trained to listen and coach constructively.  Wanting that in your life is normal and not at all shameful, despite how it is often treated.

But when I think about visiting a therapist it just makes me giggle.  What would I say?  'Yeah, so, there was this bad stuff that happened when I was young.  I was mad, upset, and sad at the time.  But I got past it, and now it is just history.'  That sort of statement is where you are supposed to be when you are *done* therapy, not the starting point.  I can imagine the therapist asking me what problems I might like to discuss, and my response being that I have problems here and there, but that I have figured out coping mechanisms for them and that I can't really see better coping mechanisms so I am comfortable with the ones I have.

For example, I hate secrets and I hate the idea that people will be close to me without knowing who I really am.  My coping mechanism is to put all of my important thoughts, feelings, and ideas on the internet, even when most people would find that uncomfortable.  This does irritate some people, relatives in particular, but I am confident that it is far better to irritate them than to remain silent and unhappy because of course they can decline to read my ramblings should they find them unpalatable.

For better or for worse I think the internet is my therapist and I can't imagine sitting in a room with a random psychologist actually being better than what I get from writing like this.  For example, when I sat down I thought I was going to write a balanced sort of piece about how I might go to therapy and maybe it would have things to offer, but after trying to write that I realized I didn't buy that at all and it would just be a waste of time and money.  Blogging brings great clarity, for me at least.

My brother commented about the way that schools approach bullying and dealing with kids who are being tormented by others.  He is an education geek and I think for him this is a potentially useful exercise in understanding how this stuff worked back then because it could potentially inform future changes.  That is a fine idea, but to get much of use out of it I think we would need much clearer information.  Were my teachers trying to stop me getting beat up, insulted, left out, or otherwise hurt?  I don't know.  Maybe they were and they just failed, and maybe they had no idea.  Perhaps they succeeded, and things would have been even worse without their intervention.  Unfortunately memories this far removed are so unreliable I don't think we can get much out of it.

We definitely know that things are better now though!  When I see what sorts of things kids get hauled into the office for these days it takes my breath away.  I would have been happy to only have to deal with one of those things every recess, much less one of those things a month.  Partly it is big changes in the way children are taught, partly it is culture, partly it is rules and enforcement, and we can't ignore that my particular class was a terrible outlier in its cruelty and brutality.  Pick any random class, any random kid, any random year, and things are likely a lot better for them than they were for me.  The world is a better, kinder, less violent place, and that is certainly true in our schools.

Lastly I think it is important to be clear that the terrible things that happened to me and the awful things that I felt had some good consequences.  They made me strong.  I learned that the world is full of assholes and that those assholes will sometimes try to ruin me.  They have tried to ruin me.

They failed.

They will always fail.

When the world took a dump on me before, when children told me I was worthless, pathetic, that I shouldn't even have been born, I cried.  Now I smile, raise a giant middle finger, and keep on doing my thing.  You don't like me?  So what?  *I* like me and I give zero fucks about your disdain.

That confidence might have developed without my negative experiences.  Hard to say.  But I think a big component of it is surviving abuse and coming out the other side, of being able to bring up previous terrible experiences that make the current situation laughable in comparison.  The things I suffered are my armour, and though they were terrible, I don't know that I would have the strength that I do without them.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Loving the living

Rob Ford, the crack smoking, drunken driving, racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic former mayor of Toronto died this week.  I will not miss him.

Toronto seems to be caught in this bizarre state of uncertainty where people feel obligated to say nice things about Ford now that he is dead even though they had no end of insults for him while he was alive.  I know that this is a fairly normal thing for people to do, but I honestly don't understand it.

Say nice things about people when they have a chance to feel good about those things.  If you truly buy into the saying "Unless you have something nice to say, don't say anything at all" then it should apply to the living moreso than the dead.  The dead don't care.  Not that I buy into that saying at all, in fact I think it is worthless.  Often what needs to be said isn't nice or pleasant, and hiding in silence, ignoring the things that are wrong, is not helpful or good.

Obviously you can extend this too far.  I am not going to run over to Ford's house and laugh at his children saying "Haha you dad is dead".  I don't want those who were close to him who are suffering at his death to pay for the things he did.  Such guilt by association is not okay.  But I wouldn't do that when he was alive either.  When he was alive I would mock his policies and call out his bigotry, and I will do the same now that he has died.  I wasn't writing my pieces for Ford or those who were part of his close circle because quite frankly they weren't reading my blog.

Once upon a time I wanted to write something nice about someone who was old.  I talked to people about it, and was advised not to write it because the person might be hideously offended, thinking that I was eulogizing them, as though they were already dead to me.  I think the advice I got was correct but it made me deeply sad that I couldn't say something good about someone until after they had died without causing pain and suffering.

I wonder if this attitude comes from the idea of eternal life of the soul.  As if people still experience pain from seeing me criticize them, but cannot act on the world to right those wrongs or apologize.

I don't know if that supposition holds or not but since I don't buy into any sort of life after death concept it certainly holds no power over me.  I think that cruelty, where it is warranted, is best directed at those who can no longer suffer.  Generosity is best directed at those who can gain from it.  So be kind to the living, and don't worry about the dead.  They no longer care.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

The Source

When I was in elementary school I had a pretty rough time of it.  My family life was really good, but at school things were nearly always awful.  I lived with pretty much constant low level physical and emotional abuse from my classmates, and had a few truly awful incidents where I was surrounded by a group of more than 10 people while they took turns beating the hell out of me while I was on the ground.  I think the day to day suffering was a lot worse than the more serious beatings - never knowing when I was going to get hit from behind and always assuming any interaction with my classmates was going to be full of insults and casual hatred was the worst part.

I was an easy target because I just didn't want to hurt anyone.  I wasn't a fighter, that is certain, but more than that I just didn't want to hurt people's feelings.  I could think of horrible things to say to people when I was being taunted, but I never had that killer instinct to want to make them feel awful.  I really just wanted them to leave me alone; striking back to punish them wasn't in my nature.

This had a really powerful effect on me.  I despised the people that did these things (which, to be fair, wasn't all of my classmates, probably more like half of them) and I wanted to be nothing like them.  One of the overwhelming desires in my life was to never be those people, to be the opposite of my tormentors.

That desire to not be like those people and to shape my personality into something at the extreme other end had profound effects.  The things that characterized them were things like drinking, smoking, and having sex.  In grade 6, mind you!  I decided that I simply would not do those things, that premarital sex was a mistake, and that no amount of alcohol or drugs was right.  I spent many years having an unhealthy aversion to alcohol and in fact nearly all substances that people use to alter their minds.  It wasn't until I was 20 that I began to unravel those prejudices and accept that alcohol, used reasonably, could be a perfectly acceptable thing.  It took another decade after that for my attitude towards smoking to shift.  While I still think cigarettes are a terrible idea, I have at least gotten past the tendency to demonize those who use them.

It wasn't just substance use that I pushed away though.  I also distanced myself from ways of thinking and acting that I saw in my classmates.  Those who made my life so difficult thought about the moment, not the future.  When I first saw my high school course list I drew up a complete plan for all classes throughout high school and didn't even wait to actually see the high school to do it.  My enemies though never seemed to think about anything beyond a day in advance.  They enjoyed violent competition, revelled in lust, and didn't worry about doing the right thing.  Doing whatever was most fun in the moment, no matter the consequences, was more their speed.

So I took all of those things and refused to allow those things to manifest in my life.  I pushed those parts of me down deep and far away.  I dissociated myself from them, making them something else.  Not that any of those characteristics was a big part of my personality at that point, but I took it to an extreme degree, purging my mind, putting all those things in a tiny box in the corner.

I would NOT be those people, or anything like them.

The problem of course is that while you can plan too little, you can also plan too much.  You can be too physical, too violent, too confrontational, but you can also swing too far the other way.  I didn't just react; I overreacted, and not by a small margin.

This whole series of events is where the dramatic split in my mind between Passion and Director originated, I think.  Director is cold, withdrawn, calculating.  Always thinking of tomorrow rather than today, he is desperate to avoid hurting people, paranoid of doing the wrong thing.  He wants to remain in the cerebral realm, and finds harsh physical exertion and lust strange and foreign.  He is, in fact, the paragon of the virtues that I selected for myself back in my school days.  Passion is his antithesis, a hot blooded lust filled beast who lives for the moment and regrets nothing.  Passion lacks that concern about doing the wrong thing and upsetting people - he just wants what he wants and would like everyone to stay out of the way.  Passion wants to deliver bone crushing tackles in football, have intense, aggressive sex with people he barely knows, and stand in a torrential downpour screaming at the sky to bring it on.  Passion, quite simply, is all the things the 12 year old version of me desperately wanted to avoid being.

I don't know for certain that my dichotomy between Passion and Director comes from my time at school.  Maybe there is another explanation, and it is long enough ago that my memories are not terribly reliable.  But it all fits so nicely with how dissociative identities generally work - trauma and inappropriate responses to it are par for the course, a useful defensive mechanism gone overboard.

I suspect that knowing these things and thinking about these things is going to be useful for me going forward.  It isn't just a pointless exercise, or an act of mental masturbation.  Understanding why I think they way I think and how I can best work with what I have is critical to living better.  Being able to draw on both sides of my personality at all times would be helpful as it would allow me to better navigate situations where I switch to avoid making it quite so sudden and jarring for me, even though most of the time other people can't see the transition point.  In general though I think that Director being able to know when to let go and that it is a healthy thing for Passion to be in charge some of the time could keep my anxiety much lower.  Knowing when to relax and give up control is key.

In theory someday I might be able to integrate my two personalities, to merge them into a complete whole.  Perhaps I can become the sort of person I would have become had I not had the troubles I had when I was young.  Integration is a thing some people achieve, so I know it is possible, but it certainly doesn't always work.  Even if I can't achieve integration I am sure I can find a more positive working relationship between Passion and Director through practice and awareness.

Looking at it in this way can be so strange.  I knew I had gone through a lot of bad things, but now I can actually say that all the stuff I endured in those years actually broke my brain.  It shattered me, and now, 25 years later, I am finally realizing the extent of that shattering and trying to figure out how I can put the pieces of me back together.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Using things for sex

Last night I was involved in a discussion about breastfeeding, particularly about how some people get kicked out of restaurants, malls, and other public places for breastfeeding there.  Of course it is foolish that public breastfeeding is seen as unacceptable to a lot of people.  Pushing mothers to find private places to breastfeed is a punitive and unnecessary burden on people who are already dealing with a lot.

The discussion had people arguing that breasts shouldn't be sexualized (and thus controlled) in this way because breasts are for nursing babies, they aren't sexual organs.  While I agree that forcing people to cover up their breasts is a problem, I don't quite buy into that logic.  Breasts are sexual organs - for most people who have them they see more use sexually than they do nursing babies.  But guess what else is a sexual organ?  Necks!  Man, I do love to kiss necks, and having my neck touched makes me shiver in a good way.  But necks aren't required to be covered up by dress codes... not where I live, at any rate.

Let us also not forget another organ that is 'for making babies' which is sexualized - the penis.  Like breasts, penises are usually but not always part of the babymaking process, and like breasts they are usually but not always part of the sexifying process.

Now of course you could take this to mean that I think that we should force people to cover up virtually everything, but that isn't the case.  What I think is that all the bits of us are sexual to some people, and dividing them neatly into 'sexy bits that must be hidden' and 'non sexy bits' is arbitrary and ridiculous.

When we use the argument 'breasts aren't for sex, therefore they shouldn't have to be covered' we implicitly buy into the idea that anything associated with sex is an appropriate target for censorship and mandatory covering.  The argument we should be using is 'people's bodies are not inherently offensive' and using that to cover both breastfeeding and walking around naked.

I think that 'breasts are for babies, not sex' is sort of like the 'born that way' argument used to defend gay people.  Both are potentially useful from an activism perspective, but both box us into a position that isn't at all where we want to end up.  We should strive to accept people's bodies and the display of those bodies without offence, just as we should strive to accept people's individual attraction types without judgement.

It doesn't matter from whence an attraction comes - genetics, choice, whatever.  Similarly it doesn't matter if a body part is used in sex or not.  In both cases we should just sit back and let people do what they want so long as those things that they want to do are not hurting others.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Benching marks

I have stuck to my plan of moving heavy objects around in order to become large and in charge.  Today was a benchmark day, as my bench press reached 180 pounds.  It is a benchmark both because I can finally bench my own weight, and also because it is a 50% increase over my baseline of 120, which was my max when I started weight training.  I have been at it for 6 weeks, adding on 10 pounds a week from my baseline.  It is kind of odd that my gains have been so linear, as I kind of expected it to be more of a curve than a straight line.

However, if it is a straight line I can just keep going this way for a year and be setting world records!  (I can see no issues with this plan.  After all, each week the percentage increase required over the previous week shrinks.  Mathematics is on my side!)

So obviously I can't maintain linear growth forever, but I am going to bust my ass to maintain it as long as possible.  Because I am alternating weights / cardio I get 3 weights days one week, then 4 the next.  This means that this week getting 180 up was rough, but I have four days of work to get up to 190.  I can feel it getting more and more difficult each week though, so I suspect the 200 pounds week is the one that is going to stop my linear progression.

When I look at myself a 50% increase seems bizarre.  I can see some small changes, but they are minor at best.  Certainly most of that increase comes from my left arm, as it was significantly weaker when I started but it has almost entirely caught up in strength.  Even so, my left arm doesn't look odd, despite it probably packing on a 75% increase over baseline.  I do look weird while actually *doing* exercises though.  I can see a lot of muscle strands twisting and bunching, sliding over bones, and generally looking all weird and gross.  I didn't see that sort of stuff at the beginning, so despite my resting state not really looking different there is obviously some renovation going on inside.

I shouldn't be too surprised at my appearance being relatively immutable though.  Last time I tried weight training about 13 years ago I doubled my base strength over 3 months with no change in appearance.  It is harder to add on that much strength in your late thirties than it is in your early twenties, no doubt, but given that I got where I am relatively easily I suspect I can manage to 240 pounds without taking extreme measures.

At some point though I will definitely run into the issue that the gym in my building isn't really built for serious strength training.  The 1 handed dumbbells there cap out at 40 pounds, and the multi machine caps at 200.  That isn't an issue yet... but in a month I may well want to be pushing past those limits and then I will need to go take my medicine and pay for a gym membership.  Blech!

The most interesting result of this whole regimen is the way it has affected my mind.  The primary thing I noticed is a decrease in my sex drive - which knocks me all the way down to twice as horny as any normal person.  This is probably a good thing!  As I understand it this is the opposite way things are supposed to go when you start exercising, so I suspect it is to due with the odd way my brain is wired.

Director isn't interested in pain, heat, or strength.  Passion, on the other hand, loves the idea of being strong and revels in being covered in sweat, smashing myself against steel, looking to be better than ever before.  I can get into a trance state with Passion in charge, roaring and growling, getting a massive runner's high from the strain and pain involved.  (When the gym is empty, I actually do snarl sometimes.)  Passion getting out to play like this means that the pressure from him to be out in a sexual way is far less pressing than usual, or so I suspect.  My theory is that I need to unleash the beast to placate him, and this accomplishes that end.

After rereading the last couple paragraphs it is becoming clear that words are failing me.  Do I refer to myself as Director, or Passion, or Sky?  When do I use he, when do I use I, and what are people thinking when I refer to different parts of my brain like this?  I need new and better words to properly communicate how all this works in my head, because baseline pronouns aren't quite right.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Too Much Information

The phrase TMI bothers me.  One way it bothers me is entirely personal and revolves around my lack of a filter.  I don't mind people talking about topics that are normally banned from polite conversation - if someone wants to talk about how recently it has hurt when they pee, describe in great detail how and with who they had freaky sex last night, or go on about the mould they had to clean out of their fridge, I am quite happy to listen.  TMI irritates me because it is often used to shush people on the basis that certain topics are deemed unacceptable for no good reason.  I don't mind if a person doesn't want to hear about a particular thing, but it bugs the hell out of me when they assume that I have some kind of obligation to never discuss such topics because it is *wrong*.  "I don't like that" and "that is morally wrong" are really different.

The second thing that bothers me about TMI is when it is used as an excuse for bias and bigotry.  Gay people are used to this; people will say that they don't mind someone being gay but having to see two gay people kiss is just yucky and TMI.  It is often accompanied with the phrase "don't shove it in my face", just to make it clear that the speaker feels entitled to supervise other people's displays of affection.  Of course this isn't applied when it is straight people doing the same thing, and that is the problem.  If someone doesn't like seeing displays of affection of any sort I will snort derisively but I accept it... but when their dislike exclusively appears when the people in question are gay it makes my blood boil.  Just admit you are bigoted against gay people and stop pretending they have some social obligation to hide themselves, okay?

I see this a lot with attitudes towards polyamory.  A letter to Dan Savage this week was on this topic:  The writer is polyamorous and ended up inviting a person they were dating and a person that person was dating to a party with mostly monogamous 'normal' types.  One of the monogamous people felt obligated to leave, unable to cope.  Some of the commenters defended that behaviour, saying that being open about being polyamorous is offensive, likening it to telling everyone about the gigantic crap you had just finished dropping.  After all, this theory says, nobody wants to know about who you are sexing, that is just TMI.

That attitude is bullshit.  It isn't like talking about taking a dump, it is like a bunch of white people gleefully talking about all the dumps they have taken, and when a black person speaks up about their dump everyone telling them they are being disgusting and they should keep it to themselves.  Everyone would agree that such a situation is clearly based on bigotry, not poop, and the poly situation is the same.  Nobody would balk at "Hi, welcome to my party, this is my husband Steve."  Why should they feel entitled to be offended when the introduction is "Hi, welcome to my party, this is my husband Steve and my girlfriend Anisha."  It is the same damn thing, and anyone who suddenly claims TMI and righteous offence in such a situation is just unwilling to own their bigotry.

Maybe there are people out there who cry TMI when they see a wedding announcement, a picture of a newborn, or a celebration of an anniversary from someone in a straight, monogamous relationship.  Those people (all two of them) are totally entitled to be grossed out by someone mentioning that they have two boyfriends, or that their kid is being raised by three adults as a unit.  Those two people are weird, but at least they are consistent.  Everybody else who treats the first set of cases as totally normal and worthy of a smile needs to learn to treat the second set of cases the same way.

Or, you know, just say "I am highly biased against non monogamous relationships" which is at least honest, though not exactly without reproach.  In the same way that gay people don't expect straight people to switch teams, poly people don't expect mono people to suddenly start dating everybody at once.  Do as you will, just don't pretend that other people publicly being different from you is some kind of violation of your rights.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The grand plan

The Catholic Church in Canada is weighing in on the issue of euthanasia.  A bishop has issued a statement condemning it and it played to a large number of Catholic churches this week, talking about how Catholics who ask for assisted dying or whose families support it risk the church refusing to perform last rites or funerals.

Personally I would consider the church butting out of services for the dead and dying a big bonus, but I do have real issues with the opposition to assisted dying.

The most common reason I have seen trotted out to support the anti-euthanasia movement is that it is against God's will.  It is a standard variant on the idea that you shouldn't do anything to thwart the divine plan, but this argument is complete hypocritical crap.  The church doesn't mind you going to the doctor for treatment... isn't that against God's plan?  They don't mind you exercising to try to get healthy, but wouldn't do so compromise God's plan for you to die of heart disease at a younger age?  Fundamentally it is absurd that people can apparently defy the plan of a omnipotent diety, but it only counts as defiance when a follower of said deity is personally uncomfortable with the defiance in question.

That is all to ignore the ridiculous idea that laws should be there to enforce God's plan for people.  God itself isn't up to the task, and it needs police officers to provide proper incentive?

The rest of the arguments against assisted dying are almost entirely based on misinformation.  People often assume that a middle aged person can just walk into a doctor's office and sign up to have their parents summarily executed because they have become inconvenient.  However, when you look at how assisted dying has been implemented in other countries or actual proposals for Canada you find that the barriers to taking part are enormous.  It takes a serious commitment on the part of the person wanting to die, examinations and testimony of a variety of health care professionals following strict rules, and lots of time.  There are in fact so many layers of red tape in both current practice and proposed practice of euthanasia that it is far too hard to access, to my mind, rather than too easy.

No, doctors are not going to let children whack their parents for their inheritance.

No, healthy people who want to commit suicide will not be helped by this system.

No, children born with developmental disabilities will not be euthanized.

No, doctors who do not wish to participate in euthanasia will not be forced to do so.

All of these are worthy considerations, of course, because if some idiot wrote up rules for euthanasia in fifteen minutes they might not think of these cases.  But that isn't what is happening.  The process has crowds of experts from many fields (including, of course, people who are looking at undergoing assisted death themselves) and has examined successful systems elsewhere as well as looking at creative ideas at home.  Huge amounts of time and effort has been poured in to ensure that the system is not abused.

We normally think that keeping an animal alive in constant agony is immoral.  Euthanasia for animals who have nothing left in life but deep suffering is normal and expected.  We owe the same consideration to those among us who are suffering so much that joy is gone from their lives, and who will die before that situation can change.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Consult the expert

I often talk about people's habits and strategies in online dating.  I find the examination of those trends and anecdotes to be fascinating because it gives a marvellous perspective on how people behave in an environment where measurement is far easier than in normal interaction.  After doing the whole online dating thing for years and having a fair bit of success I feel like I should have good advice to offer and that I should be able to tell people what to do.  Or at least I should be able to tell straight men what to do - other people's experiences are markedly different.

But so much of the advice I want to give is totally guesswork, and the rest probably only works for geeky polyamorous straight men on OKCupid in Toronto, which isn't a big audience.

For example, when I first started out I saw endless complaints, conversations, and threads about how straight men send trash messages.  According to the standard narrative women want to engage in long, flowery conversations for extended periods before they are interested in meeting up.  I ate up that advice and wrote lots of detailed three paragraph essays as my opening lines, only asking for a meetup after an obviously fruitful exchange of messages occurred.

Since then I have been told that my messages are long enough to be intimidating and that most people, even if they are interested in me generally, aren't going to want to put the effort into crafting a proper response.  They feel inadequate sending a one liner back and they only have five minutes so they respond to the simple, easy messages instead.  Also when messages often take a day to get back and forth a reasonable exchange is just going to take too long.  Somebody else will wander in in the meantime and just say "Hey, want to get coffee and chat?"  On the other hand, maybe that quick invite gets you a lot more dates but you end up on dates with people who are of no interest to you, and that seems like a waste.

Complicating this is the issue that internally I am very split on what sort of response I want.  My personalities are not in agreement on this issue at all.  Director really wants to have lots of involved chat, and loves the idea of exchanging massive blocks of text.  Passion, unsurprisingly, finds that to be a silly pursuit and just wants to meet up right away so we can find out if there is magic, because if there isn't magic then why bother?  Director's style fits with what women most often say they want on their profiles, but I am pretty sure Passion's tactics get way more action.  People aren't good at knowing what they want, that is for sure.

While I think you can do a lot better than "u r cute, wanna chat?" as an opener, I actually haven't any idea what the best approach is.  Clearly women aren't monolithic and homogeneous, but since you just don't know what the person on the other end is like (or how they are feeling on any given day) you have to guess at what approach the sort of person you want to connect with is going to respond to and just run it and hope.

Lately I have been a lot less formulaic in my sorties and have been just writing whatever suits me at the time.  Sometimes that ends up being big walls of text, sometimes just a single sentence.  I have a quality baseline, in that I make sure my message is written for the exact person I am sending it to and that this effort is obvious, but other than that I just wing it.

Which is not like me.  Because it isn't scientific or consistent and it won't give me useful feedback.  But at this point I have kind of accepted that nobody is going to do the science for my particular subgroup, and I can't possibly generate enough of a data set to be able to conclude anything with any degree of certainty.  In this case science will not serve me so I have been able to accept that my approach is less than scientific.

Be procative, that is good.  Say things that matter, of this I am sure.  Make sure you actually like someone for more than their pictures before you message, this seems like solid advice.  But what to actually say, what message to send when you first make contact?  I wish I knew.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Suspicious underwear

I have been upping my workout regimen over the past week and it has had some predictable effects on my routine.  Mostly it is about showering - when I walk back into my condo completely soaked in sweat I can't just wait twelve hours to shower at my normal time!  However, there is a secondary shift in my habits which specifically relates to underwear.

I always used to change into fresh underwear each morning.  Simple, easy, predictable.  But now it only makes sense to change right after a workout.  Workouts are a random times though, so sometimes that means I get all sweaty in the evening, shower, wear new underwear for an hour, then toss them on the floor and go to sleep.

In the morning I know I should put on that underwear from last night because after all I only wore them for an hour.  They aren't dirty... and yet my brain maintains an unquenchable suspicion of the floor undies.

I should just put them on, I think.  Wear them till after the workout, then get fresh non gross ones.  It just makes sense.

But something deep in my brain whispers that the underwear were on the floor all night.  They are dirty, soiled, disgusting.

They aren't, of course.  They are not even distinguishable from fresh ones from the drawer.

And yet I can't shake that feeling that it is wrong to put them on.

If I were a normal person I could just solve this by going through 2 pairs of underwear a day, but a totally different part of my brain would be horrified at the waste and unnecessary extravagance.  2 pairs a day?  Forever?  Madness!  What kind of absurd dandy do I think I am?  Do I care nothing for the environment and the wasted water and energy to clean all those extra underwear?

So every morning I put on a pair of underwear I have already worn.  I know I still change once a day, I know the timing is right, and yet I still start each morning staring at the underwear on the floor with deep seated suspicion.

Sometimes I wonder how I manage to have any energy left for fighting with the rest of the world after I am done fighting with myself about such simple things as what underwear to put on.