Monday, April 27, 2009

I don't even know what to make of this story...

So... this is a weird and disturbing story The short version: A guy in Meshchovsk, Russia, tried to rob a hair salon at gunpoint. As he was collecting the money, the owner knocked him down, tied him up with a cord, and then locked him in a closet. Instead of calling the police, she told him to drop his pants or she'd turn him over to the police. After that, she spent three days feeding him viagra and raping him, before letting him go and telling him to get out of her sight. He ended up going to the police, and now they're both probably going to jail.

I'm sort of sitting her slack-jawed at the story. Like... what the hell?

On the one hand, I feel like it's good that he went to the police and that his claim was taken seriously... but, on the other, it's not so good that he was trying to rob someone at gunpoint.

I'm also glad that the story calls it rape, even though the headline makes it sound more like he was going to rob her but they decided to get into some S&M play instead.

Honestly, I'm still trying to decide if the story is real or not. It's so... bizarre.

I looked for verification, but, sadly, I mostly found the sorts of comments I'd expect from a story like this. Lots of variations of, "Oh, what a lucky robber!/That's hot/I wish my hair dresser would handcuff me and 'rape' me", and lots of "A woman can't rape a man/I can't believe he went to the police/he must be gay to complain about it".

And since this happened in Russia, there's the obligatory anti-Russian sentiment as well.

Anyway, I don't really know what to say about it, and I should be working on homework anyway, but I thought that it was such a weird story, that I'd go ahead and share it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Regional differences?

So, I picked up Wii Fit last week, and only got around to using it this week. I'm very surprised by it. I don't expect that it will get me in the best shape ever or anything like that, but I've heard from several people that it helped them stay on a routine and that it was good as a warm-up or as a supplement to working out, or for days when their regular workouts weren't going to cut it.

So, moment of truth: I'm in *terrible* shape. I haven't worked out regularly since... uh... how long ago did I have to take gym class, again? Seventh grade? I went through a phase in undergrad where I was working out semi-regularly, but mostly running and stair climbing. And the reality is that I'm getting older, my diet has been pretty consistantly crap for the last few years (for a variety of reasons), and I've gone from working a retail job where I was doing a lot of lifting boxes and climbing stairs and generally being active for 7 hours a day 5 days a week, to holding desk jobs and being a grad student who plays more video games than he should.

So, to say that I'm not in the best shape of my life is, in reality, laughable. I'm clearly in the worst shape I've ever been in. And I know that my weight is not indicative of my health, and I try to remind myself that it doesn't matter how big my waistline is, as long as I'm healthy. Of course, that would carry more weight (no pun intended, actually) if I was actually healthy. Which I think it's safe to say that I'm not.

Anyway, the point is that I picked up Wii Fit because I'm trying to make a commitment to getting healthier. I'm also giving up soda and chips (two of my MAJOR weaknesses, thank you very much. I've gone from multiple cans/bottles of soda a day to only one bottle of soda in the last week. Unless you count seltzer, which I don't, since it has no sugar or chemicals in it, and doesn't actually taste very good).

The first time you turn on Wii Fit, it goes through this whole process of figuring out how healthy you are and setting up goals and all that fun stuff. I selected my Mii character (the little character you make on the Wii that represents you). I put in my age and my height, and then I stepped on the magic board to, I assume, get weighed. Then it spit out my BMI.

Now, I fully recognize the problems with BMI, but as noted above, I already know I'm not healthy, so when it told me that I was seriously overweight, almost at obese, I was not actually surprised. What I was surprised by was when it took my little Mii guy and blew him up like a balloon to show me how fat I am!

He looked very unhappy at the process, by the way.

And then, when I started doing exercises, if I didn't do them very well, it would sort of give me this passive aggressive or outright mean remarks. Not like "Come on you lazy fuck, hold the pose!" But, on one of the balance exercises, I was having trouble keeping my center of gravity where it wanted me to. So, after the exercise, while it's showing me my results, it says something like "Wow, you had trouble with that one. Do you often find yourself tripping over your own feet?"


As it happens, I don't.

Anyway, I started thinking about it, and I realized that there was another game that exhibited this kind of blatantly hostile attitude towards players when you wouldn't expect it... Animal Crossing, back on the Gamecube. You'd move into this cute little town, filled with cute anthropomorphic creatures living in cute little houses. You dig up shells, you buy cute furniture for your house, and you're supposed write letters to the other townscreatures or do errands for them. The thing is, you go up to them to say "hi" and they greet you with things like "Oh my goodness! I was scared. I thought you were a monster, but then I realized you're just wearing an ugly outfit!" They're just plain mean to you, the whole time. They tell you you're funny looking, they tell you how much better other people are at writing letters, and they insult your intelligence and your taste in art/furniture/clothes/etc.

It's weird.
It's got me wondering if there's some weird translation thing happening, where they increase the a-hole quotient when they translate the game for American audiences. Or maybe I'm just interpretting the interactions differently than other people?

I don't know, but it's very curious to me.

In Animal Crossing it made me write them really nasty, mean letters. Which was funny, until the other people who were playing the same town with me started to complain because the animals would brag about what a great letter they got from me, and it would be a letter telling them that I was going to burn down their house.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Long time no see...

Warning: Long, navel gazing, meta post about posting ahead.

So, I've largely been lurking on other people's blogs for the last year or so, and, in the process, I've been seriously neglecting this little corner of the intertubes. I've been meaning to update or write about a million different things at different times, and I just can't seem to get around to it, which is actually a meme that has cropped up in different areas of my personal life, too. But that's for another post.

The reasons I've largely stopped commenting and writing are myriad, and probably uninteresting to anyone but me, but I'm going for openness here. One major thing that I've learned about myself is that I find the internet really exhausting. I find it emotionally and mentally draining. I really started noticing this about a year and a half ago. I spend way too much time online and I spend most of that time reading and responding to blogs and participating in forum discussions, and I realized "Holy shit, this is really starting to take a toll on me." I just felt like I didn't have the energy to keep at it, in some ways. Honestly, I don't know how people do it. Some people post almost every day, about serious topics, providing real analysis and engaging with commenters (how is that not a "real" word yet?). And they do it while holding full time jobs, social lives, school, and the like. I really don't know how they do it, because it was really burning me out, and making me a hostile and unhappy person. I found myself increasingly sarcastic, increasingly bitter, and just really miserable.

Despite this, I'm really attracted to blogging, and I think that the internet does provide a really great opportunity to converse with people that you wouldn't normally get to meet.

So, right now I'm in the process of thinking about what I want to do differently with my second go-round with this little space. I'd really like to cultivate this space, but I want to avoid falling into the same routines that were burning me out before. If it's true that you can sort of build your own spaces on the internet, then I'd like to carve out something a little different here. At least, different from what it's been. If there's anyone still around, you're part of this little experiment too. After all, if you're still checking here despite my posting, like, eight times in twelve months, then you must have some interest in what I've got to say, right? So, what is it that you're looking for when you check back here, despite the utter lack of real substantive updates in, like... forever? What kinds of things do you find really great about blogs that you think should be pursued? What do you hate?

My own perspective: I think that my writing became really too focused on negativity. I think that I need to make sure that I'm posting about positive things sometimes. I need to do so in order to prevent myself from sinking into emotional pits. And, quite frankly, I think that the positive doesn't get enough press anyway. Just like in the evening news, it's a reality that bad news is blog business. People--myself included--love to get a good outrage on. But, I'm not sure that it's emotionally healthy to spend so much of my time swimming in piss and shit. I think that there are times when I really want to get excited about good things. Obviously, I'm not going to spend all of my time pretending that the world is nothing but sunshine and rainbows and happy unicorns, but I don't have the energy or desire to spend 90% of my time being angry and shouting down people anymore.

I think that another thing that I want--and this post, as meandering as it is, is a part of this--is to have a much clearer idea of what this space is. I don't necessarily mean that it needs to have a narrow focus--although, maybe it does? But, I think that I need to have a very clear idea what this space is supposed to be, and treat it like that. Is this my personal blog? Is this a blog about feminism? Activism in general? About a male perspective on feminism? Is it just about my life?

So, I've already decided that on a few things. First of all, I think that I need to make it clearer that I don't see myself as The Voice of anything. I don't want to be The Voice of anything, except myself. If I say something smart and people like it, that's cool, but, ultimately, I'm just a no-longer-twenty-something guy who likes to argue with smart people, and who would like to see people treat each other better. I'd like to discuss my relationship to the world a more, and some people have, in the past, said that they were hoping I'd talk more about (and I'm paraphrasing here) what it's like to be a guy, and I think that's not a bad idea. I won't pretend to speak for every guy or that my personal experiences are anything more than anecdote, but I can, and I think should, write about what I know.

Second, I don't think that I want to write about other people's blogs unless I have something nice to say. I'm not suggesting that other people shouldn't do so, but for me, it's just really fucking toxic. I don't feel good about it, and I don't feel good about the ways that it's easier for me to say really horrible things about people or to make really mean assumptions about other people on the web. It's like, someone says something that I strongly disagree with, and suddenly their entire body of work and their entire history is assumed from that post? I think that, in some ways, this is unavoidable online. I don't think that the internet makes us completely anonymous in the way that some people will argue, but I think ti does make things really impersonal in some ways. You can't really see the sincerity in a person's actions, or read the emotion in their words the way you can when you talk face-to-face (not that those interactions always go well, either).

It's Paradox of the Personal on the internet, for me. Because I feel strongly about the things that I'm writing about, I'm more likely to feel the slings and arrows personally, but because of the anonymity of the internet, I'm less likely to recognize the personal investment other people have in their work.

Which is just... well... shitty.

So, as of right now, I'm thinking:

  • More positive posts.

  • More posts about my direct personal experiences.

  • Less/no posting angry missives about other people's blogs/posts.

I think that what I'd really like to see is more of a conversation happening, in some ways. I think that the posts that tend to be the best, from my perspective, are not the ones where I go off on something in great detail and tear it down with sarcasm and snark, but the posts where I post about something that I've found really interesting and have questions about, and I can engage with other people and learn from them.

So, consider this a transition and a work in progress. I expect that, given that I'm in grad school, there will be posts about books and things I'm reading for my studies, and I'd definitely like to post more discussions about movies and video games.

Anyway, this is s ridiculously long winded post just to say "I might be back, and I'm thinking of changing things up a bit".

Sorry if you actually read all that.
Next post?
Probably thoughts about what kind of commenting policy I should have. Feel free to offer suggestions. My general policy, thus far, has been to only delete spam, but I figure it's a good idea, as long as I'm rethinking how I post, to come up with a more explicit comment policy.