Trolling Feminists

I was being entertained the other day by a buddy of mine who for no discernible reason started trolling one of his feminist Facebook friends.  Now that’s more of a game that I like to play, although usually not on Facebook and usually not with friends.  And it was especially surprising since this particular friend is a very non confrontational sort who more often plays the peacemaker rather than the instigator.   He’s more than once tried to mediate disagreements between friends with a joke or distracting comment. But social media makes jerks of us all, and I guess basic humanity prevented him from being assimilated longer than most.  But the lure of being a smart ass pulls us all in eventually.

The set up is this:  His feminist friend posted a slightly bawdy joke.  As jokes go, it’s it’s mildly amusing to a guy, but to women, for whom the threshold of humor is much lower, it’s Hee-lar-e-us.  If you want the full story, go here.  The gist of it as that an old codger begins signing his credit card with a penis illustration.   Hilarity ensues when the card reader at Wal-Mart doesn’t recognize the penis as his signature and management is called in.  Funny right?  Well not to a feminist; at least usually.  In fact if my friend had posted this joke, he likely would have been subject to quite a bit of written finger wagging from busy body feminists.  But he got the upper hand and by lefty standards, the moral high ground by posting a critique of said joke:

Smart Ass Friend:  “Not funny, what if the cashier had been a victim of sexual assault? Being subjected to the drawing could have been a triggering event for her PTSD. Not to mention the stomping on her civil rights if she was Lesbian or Transgendered, this kind of humor is perpetuated by the hegemonic phallocentric patriarchy that has committed all the evil in the world. I bet you Ted Nugent would have found this hilarious…I’m disappointed in you.”

Extra points for the use of your typical “Wymyn’s Studies” terminology, that’s used nowhere else and serves no useful descriptive purpose.  Therefore feminists love to use it.  So that was all it took to set his feminist friend (although probably by now his former friend) on a tear of foul language, and threats.  After that, all my friend had to do to egg on another tirade of butthurt was to toss in a few lines about a living wage, challenging hetronormative behaviors, gender binaries, and of course the “-isms.”  Leftists in general and feminists in particular love those; racism sexism capitalism, classism and so on.  The thing is, you don’t even have to use them in a coherent sentence, just list them.

The thread proceeds in a predictable manner, screaming incoherence from the feminist, and the arrival of a white knight to defend milady’s honor.  A white knight seems to be an accessory that every feminist needs since she’s incapable of using man tools like “logic” and “reason” herself.  She needs a big strong man to heft those.  Hey, you can’t fight the cisgendered, transphobic patriarchy without a fella can ya?  Am I right gals?

Of course, as dominate as it is in our culture, feminism is a stupid ideology.  It’s the idea that there are no differences between men and women other than genitalia, and now that trans-you-name-it is replacing homosexuality as the next civil rights frontier, genitalia are less and less important to one’s identity.  Even though the stupidity of feminism has become so obvious that now only 23% of women call themselves feminists, it’s still left a damaging mark on our culture.

Oddly enough, the same poll shows that 16% of men call themselves feminists too.

Lest anyone get the idea this is just some misogynic rant, I do support equal rights for women, and love and respect women.  My marriage isn’t about me bossing my wife around and tossing my shirts at her to make sure they get ironed.  It’s an equal partnership, meaning she bosses me around.

And my shirts never get ironed.

Arrogance of Trust

The news that Edward Snowden had somehow managed to persuade 20 to 25 of his fellow colleagues at the NSA to give up their passwords and login information has probably shocked IT professionals and corporate security types.  “What kind of slipshod IT security is the NSA running?”  Could the smartest guys in the room really be so dumb and trusting?  As Reuters reports:

Snowden may have persuaded between 20 and 25 fellow workers at the NSA regional operations center in Hawaii to give him their logins and passwords by telling them they were needed for him to do his job as a computer systems administrator, a second source said.

This may seem incredible to those involved in information assurance that a system administrator, who had only been at the job a few months, could talk that many people out of their passwords.  Don’t these people have any information security training?  Every company IT department  teaches its employees to never share their password information.  Didn’t these guys have any training?

Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Marylan...

Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland. Español: Instalaciones generales de la NSA en Fort Meade, Maryland. Русский: Штаб-квартира АНБ, Форт-Мид, Мэриленд, США (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It turns out they do.  The Department of Defense, which the National Security Agency falls under, has extensive computer security training.  But that only begs the question further.  Snowden was so new at his base in Hawaii that he probably didn’t have any long term personal relationships to play on in order to trick people out of their passwords.  But I don’t think he needed to trick anyone.  And I think I know why.

I should preface this by saying this is just my personal opinion, but I think the popular idea of intelligence agencies and organizations, at least American ones, as a font of constant paranoia, looking over your shoulder at all times, and a lack of trust between co-workers, as depicted in movies and popular culture (think the Bourne movies) is totally opposite of the real situation.  I think the security problem in US intelligence organizations, which Snowden exploited, is that everyone trusts each other too much.

Security Clearances for Top Secret and above levels cost thousands of dollars and can take months to complete.  Once you have a security clearance, it’s not only a marketable item, but it’s sort of a short hand as to what kind of character you have.  Although it actually means you’ve mostly stayed out of trouble and have not screwed up too much, it’s taken as a certificate of approval that this person is trustworthy and of good character.  So if you work in a classified facility, surrounded by cleared people, some of them may strike you as crazy, or unpleasant, but not thieves, not crooks, and not traitors.  Why?  It’s nothing they did, it’s simply from the fact that they are working there; they’ve been vetted.

Once you are on the inside, you are part of special limited clique, in which everyone on the inside of the vault door holds secret knowledge that those on the other side of the vault door don’t know, and can’t know.  It’s like being part of Skull and Bones, only instead of knowing secret arcane nonsense; you know real things about the world that matter.  That dividing line between those on the inside of the door and those on the outside is huge.

One of the first things they teach you in Basic Training and Boot Camp is to keep you locker and money locked up and secure at all times. Even the camaraderie of military service isn’t enough to be sure your buddy won’t grab your wallet in an act of desperation. But like Singapore, if you decide to leave your wallet on your desk at work in your secured facility, you can mostly be assured that it will still be there, undisturbed, when you come back from break.  Having many roommates in the past with security clearances, I never worried for a second about leaving money or valuables around out in the open. I may have worried if they would clean up the kitchen after fixing dinner, or vanishing for days on end, but I never worried that they would steal from me.  I granted them an automatic level of trust that most keep within close family members.

And maybe that’s the problem.  In spite of all the security, and in spite of all the rules and security procedures, it doesn’t mean a thing unless people can operate with even a normal level of caution.  In my corporate environment I would never turn over my password to anyone, system administrator or otherwise.  But if I was back in the classified world, inside that insular level of trust, I can’t be sure how I would react.  And the fact that I would even question that is the problem.

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Dental Hygienists: It’s Not Just Woman’s Work

I have a regular Dentist, and a Periodontist.  So twice a year I go for a cleaning at my regular dentist, and twice a year I go for a cleaning at my Periodontist’s office.  The difference is that at the Periodontist’s, it’s not called a cleaning, it’s called periodontal maintenance, which for me means I get my dental insurance to pay for 4 cleanings a year instead of 2.  So when it comes to regular dental hygiene, I’m a frequent flyer.

But I’m still capable of being shocked, as I was today while sitting in the waiting room waiting for my periodontal maintenance, I was called into the treatment room…

…by a man.

Yes, my dental hygienist was a dude.  I don’t, in all my years, ever recall seeing a male dental hygienist.  There is obviously no practical reason why there shouldn’t be male hygienists and in fact they apparently have been out there for a while. According to the New York Times, 90% of dental hygienists are women so while women are the overwhelming majority; men are making an impact in the field.

You go guys, keep breaking that glass ceiling.

Now, my hygienist, or maybe I should say, mangienist, was a total professional and as far as I could tell from a patient perspective, did a great job.  However I admit being uncomfortable with the fact that he was a guy, and I say that with the total awareness that any uncomfortable feelings are totally irrational.  It shouldn’t matter if my dental hygienist is male or female; I should just be interested in a quality cleaning by a well training professional who makes me comfortable with the process.

But I wasn’t comfortable.

I’m not the only one.  A recent survey of dentists showed that 30% would not hire a male dental hygienist, even if he was the most qualified.  That does sound unfair but they’re probably worried about patients being uncomfortable with one.  I’m used to my dental hygienist being a female so I fall in that category.

Interestingly, the fact that a woman is a dental hygienist seems to make her hotter than what her normal sexual market value would be.  It’s an occupation that’s worth at least a 1 to 1.5 bump on the standard 10 point hotness scale. I’m guessing because the actual practice of teeth cleaning seems intimate. She’s in your mouth; she’s leaning over you and invading your personal space in a major way.  Your hand, innocently holding onto the arm of the chair, brushes against her as she moves around.  You didn’t move; she did.  Did she brush against you on purpose?

Often after a dental cleaning you’re ready for a cigarette.

With a guy hygienist, that entire experience is thrown off, and reduced to merely a transactional dental service, like buying toothpaste only more time consuming and inconvenient.  Actually it’s worse, because your entire typical expectations of having your teeth cleaned by a woman are inverted.  Suddenly intimacy becomes intrusion. And where do I put my hands?  Not on the arms of the patient’s chair.  In fact, I was originally going to name this post, “Help!  There’s a Man in my Mouth!”  However thinking about the possible Google searches that would be misdirected towards me, I decided against it.

Now I know this is ridiculous. My dentists and dental specialists for the last 20 years or so have all been men, and I’ve never felt any awkwardness or discomfort based on that.  So there is no logical reason I shouldn’t be able to adapt to a simple cleaning being done by a man.  But it is an end of an era; an era in which I could be titillated by regular oral maintenance.

And yes, I flossed.

My Connections

My son took advantage of some family connections and recently procured a fairly decent full time job.  Since full time work is going the way of the dodo that was considered a minor coup and the job is one requiring proficiency in a sophisticated software suite, in which the demand was high enough that they were willing to train.  The job is at my wife’s place of employment.  She heard about the position, knew the requirements for the job, and was able to give our son some useful guidance in putting together a resume and in interviewing for this particular position.  Of course, succeeding at the job is all on him, but he more than likely would never have heard of it, let alone known how to successfully apply for it if it hadn’t been for a family connection.

That’s not an uncommon story.  Lots of people get their jobs with help from family.  At my current job I telecommute so I’m rather cut off from office goings on, but when I worked at an office it was not uncommon to see siblings or parent/child combos working at the office.  Usually the kids heard about the job from their parents and if the parents were well respected at work, they were an informal reference for the new applicant.

Among my son’s peers many of them work for the same companies based on feedback they had gotten from their friends.  If a place is hiring and the salary, and benefits are better than what their friends are making at say, in the fast food industry, they’ll get the hook-up to put in an application, and give them details enough about the job so they have a much better idea of what the job is then the average applicant reading the brief description from an online job searching site or even more quaint, your daily newspaper. A couple of good connections are worth more than a thousand emailed resumes in today’s job hunt.

Growing up, I even took advantage of connections to get a job.  My father worked for a major national airline, and one summer when the airline was hiring temporary help to work the ramp, my father told my brother and me about it to see if we were interested.  Indeed we were, since the job paid double the minimum wage in those days, and it certainly beat washing dishes. The interview was barely that since I had met most of the people who had worked there before.  So by the standards of that time and place, that was an excellent paying job for a couple of guys in community college.  And it’s a job I would have never heard of if it hadn’t been for a family connection.

Needless to say, the military is rife with family connections.  My first visit to the Army Recruiter was a good example.  Upon entering, the office, hopped up on the movie Stripes and Reagan’s America, I stood patiently waiting while the recruiter was filling out paperwork; he barely raised his eyes to look at me and returned to his paperwork.  But of course, I had the hook up.

“Ahem,” I said, clearing my throat, “But I’m a legacy…”  This time he looked up in earnest, a big smile on his face.

“Well why didn’t you say so?  Please follow me!”  We retired to the military recruiter’s wood paneled study, and over brandy and cigars, discussed my future military career, and my father’s draftee inflicted one.  Of course, even as a legacy, one has to be careful to take the recruiter’s promises at face value.  Apparently, many of the things he had promised me turned out to be flights of fancy.  Based on the MOS I had selected, I was promised that I would never need to handle a weapon again after basic training, and I would work in an office building in civilian clothes.  Much to my surprise, this turned out to be not quite accurate, although in what would have probably have been a surprise to my recruiter, many years later I did in fact have an assignment in which I worked in an office in civilian clothes, but that was well beyond the influence of my recruiter, my legacy status, and depended more on dumb luck and being at the right place at the right time.

It wasn’t much of a surprise that most (although not all) of the people I met in the military usually had a family member, most likely a father, who had also been in the military.  That sort of personal family knowledge makes the idea of joining the military conceivable; in a way that someone without such intimate family knowledge might regard it as a totally off the wall due to their lack of familiarity to the idea of the military.

And that applies to almost the entire job market.  The labor market isn’t a pure, well functioning machine. It has a lot of bumps to it, making it difficult to get the idea of the full opportunity for jobs that are available in a particular geographic area.  Think how many buildings you drive by in a day that are staffed by hundreds of people working for companies you have no idea about doing jobs you’ve never heard of.

So taking advantage of the network of friends and family for finding when doing a job search is probably far more cost and time effective than virtually anything else you will do when you job hunt.  It’s far more useful than emailing hundreds of resumes to unwatched email boxes.

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Revenge of the Dollar Store Diva

Sometime during the early 1980’s I was reading a speculative science article about a concept called hypertext.  Now of course you can just click that helpful link to find out what it is, but chances are, you won’t have to.  If you’ve been on a computer at all, you know what hypertext is and if you are like me, you click on hypertext links maybe a hundred times a day.  But in the early 1980’s, when computer screens were small with green text, I couldn’t see the utility of a hypertext, let alone wrap my head around the concept.

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

And now I’m having another hypertext moment, and it’s called Playlist Live.  You can click on the (hypertext) link if you like to peruse the website as I did, but once again, I couldn’t wrap my head around it.  It appears to be a Comic Con for YouTube video bloggers.  Why there would be such a thing I can’t imagine.  What would be the point?  But apparently it’s some sort of big deal since my daughter wanted to go.  I farmed out the entire enterprise to her mother, since every time she would beg for Playlist Live tickets I would have to ask, “What is that again?”

So I’m not going to get the concept anytime soon.

So last weekend was the big event.  I guess.  I have to take my daughter’s word for it that it was a big deal.  It seems she went from booth to booth collecting autographs from these YouTube stars.  To me, that doesn’t seem to be much of a collectible.  On the other hand my parents wouldn’t have understood that my comic books that they threw out as when I was a kid could ever have any collectible value either.

Anyway, one these You Tube pseudo-stars, Tyler Oakley, created a video that I mocked in a post last year, The Real Dollar Store Diva.  I just didn’t believe, and still don’t, that some punk kid is a better shopper than I am.   So when my daughter got around to his booth, she told him that her Dad was the real Dollar Store Diva.  His reply?

“You’re dad is such a queen.”

As insults go, that ranks somewhere below, “I know I am but what are you?”  But I think my shopping accolades are still intact.  Now excuse me while I go load e-coupons on my Winn-Dixie Rewards card.

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No Cards to Play

This is my first post in a month due to some catastrophic computer failures at home.  First, in a ridiculous tugging match over looking at a One Direction video, my son and daughter broke my daughter’s laptop screen.  Then, my son’s laptop just died.  No particular cause, but my tech savvy brother in law examined it and declared it DOA.  Then, the home’s main desktop computer suddenly went wonky (sorry if I’m using technical computer language here).  It was unable to boot up and unable to restore at an earlier point.  Again, another examination by my tech savvy brother in law produced a post mortem; this time with no data retrieval possible.  We had fried hard drive for dinner.

However I did have a backup drive that was set to automatically update on a daily basis only…awww.  It turns out the automatic backup was turned off.  My backup hadn’t been updated in a year.  Not least among catastrophes, I had about a dozen drafts for posts that were lost.  So after losing 3 computers in two weeks, plus a year’s worth of data, my posting took a hiatus.  Particularly since computer time became quite a bit more rationed around the house.  And I do have a back log of amusing cat videos to watch…

And speaking of catastrophic failures, that means missing an entire month of posting on the “fiscal cliff.”   I suppose it’s just as well.  Any prediction that I would have made about how the Republican Congress should have responded would have been wrong.  A month ago I would have assumed they were rational actors who understood the lessons of the election.  A month later it’s clear that isn’t the case.

Speaker Boehner’s Plan B failed a test vote in the House last night which in a way was a proxy vote for whether the Republican Party was smart enough to survive and rebuild (it isn’t).  Republicans have somehow managed to figure out a how to take a bad situation and compound it to make it worse.

Just a couple of points:

  1.  President Obama had no intention of honestly negotiating with Boehner over the fiscal cliff.  Why would he?  The fiscal cliff is exactly what most Democrats, but especially the President want.  You get high taxes plus massive cuts in Defense spending.  What could Boehner ever have offered the President to top that?  By the same token, there were never going to be any spending cuts.  Again, Obama had zero incentive to offer a penny.  His best deal was already agreed to by Congress last year when they fashioned the fiscal cliff suicide pact.  Only, it was really a suicide pact for Republicans only.  Democrats probably couldn’t believe the deal the Republicans were handing them.  Meanwhile House Republicans were trying to finagle entitlement cuts from the President!
  2. Given all that, there was no, and I repeat, no scenario in which taxes were not going up, and there were never going to be spending cuts in this deal.  The fact that the Republicans refused to acknowledge this was one of their biggest mistakes and led to a cascade of other mistakes that led us to this point.  Remarkably, the conservative caucus in the Republican House didn’t seem to get this, and just as bad, the conservative radio complex didn’t get it either.  A sampled a fair amount over the past month (since I’ve been mostly computer-less lately I’ve sampled a fair amount of conservative talk radio).  They were very slow on the uptake, thinking that House Republicans actually had a negotiating position.
  3. Going over the fiscal cliff is not an option for Republicans.  That was supposed to be the one card to encourage coming to some sort of deal, but as I previously mentioned, Democrats want to go over the cliff. But if we actually go over the cliff, Republicans will get the blame on raising taxes on middle class out of spite because they couldn’t save tax cuts for “the rich.”  Two weeks ago that simply would have been the Democrat­­­‑MSM spin.  Now the Republicans are working to make that an actual fact.  And speaking of spin…
  4. The Republicans spun themselves into a trap.  They equated in their own rhetoric that any bill or deal that didn’t include all the Bush tax cuts was a bill to raise taxes.  Since they’ve been saying that for a month (“I will not vote to raise taxes, blah blah blah…”) they’ve fashioned a rhetorical trap in which they do nothing and allow all tax rates to go up, or they vote to cut taxes for some, which they regard as a bill to raise taxes on anyone not getting a cut.  Huh?  Even Grover Norquist doesn’t think that a bill to cut taxes is really a bill to raise taxes.  So why do the House Republicans and the Conservative Radio Complex do?
  5. The tax issue does not resonate with Americans anymore.  In this regard, the Republicans are a victim of their own success.  The modern conservative movement began with a tax revolt which led to the passage of California’s Proposition 13, which rolled back property taxes on California homeowners.  You could argue that without the movement that led to the passage of Prop 13, there would have been no conservative movement and no election of Ronald Reagan.  So over the course of more than two decades taxes were cut, culminating in the Bush tax cuts.  So now, Americans have been comfortable with our tax rates for over a decade.  They just don’t care about the issue anymore, and don’t think any future tax increases will touch them.

House Republicans should have just crafted a tactical withdrawal on this issue.  Since there was no way to win it, they could have at least minimized the damage by passing middle class tax cuts and minimizing the defense sequestration that is scheduled to devastate the defense budget next year.  As we learned from the Debt Ceiling talks, the longer you negotiate with Obama the more things he’s going to think of to throw in to queer the deal. The closer we get to January first, the more knickknacks and doo-dads Obama is going to insist on being thrown in. Any deal done now would require throwing in unemployment insurance; a condition that wasn’t on the radar last month.  At this rate, Obama will have Tea Party Republicans voting for Medicare for all.

Blood Will Tell

Columnist Mark Steyn has had a lot of fun with the latest Elizabeth Warren mini-scandal, dubbing her Fauxcahontas.”  So with that, most of the good lines have already been taken on the story about Warren identifying herself as Native American for affirmative action purposes on supposed 1/32nd Native ancestry based on “family lore.”  So I can’t top Fauxcahontas, but I can relate how this is a deeply personal story for me.  Like Elizabeth Warren, I too am Native American.  In fact, based on my family’s lore, I’m twice the Indian Elizabeth Warren is, since I supposedly have 1/16th Indian ancestry.

And before anyone says anything about my use of the word Indian, remember that’s our word.  I’m taking it back.  You palefaces can continue to refer to us based on the previously approved PC list.

Elizabeth Warren, Chairman of the Congressiona...

Elizabeth Warren, Chairman of the Congressional Oversight Panel; Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law, Harvard Law School, and Cherokee Indian Princess (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to my family’s lore, my great-great grandmother on my mother’s side was a Cherokee Indian Princess.  I’ve been astonished with the amount of royalty the various Indian tribes got away with in those days.  Practically everyone I’ve met who has claimed Native ancestry has claimed it through an “Indian Princess.”  Three fourths of the Native population east of the Mississippi prior to the Trail of Tears must have been an Indian Princess. With so much of the population as female royalty, no wonder my people were pushed out of the East.  Too few warriors and too many princesses.  And those Indian Princesses must have really had a thing for Scot-Irish mountain hillbilly types.  I guess they were the bad boys of the 1800’s.

However, unlike Elizabeth Warren, I’ve never tried to exploit the suffering of my people to procure employment, as Warren apparently did as she professor shopped from one diversity starved University to another.  In fact, this story neatly ties in to the Derrick Bell story of two months ago.  Not that it was a new story, only the knowledge of the depth of President Obama’s previous relationship with Bell was new.  But as the Harvard Crimson related in 1998:

Harvard Law School currently has only one tenured minority woman, Gottlieb Professor of Law Elizabeth Warren, who is Native American. The racial makeup of the HLS Faculty has been an issue before as well: in 1989, Harvard dismissed Weld Professor of Law Derrick A. Bell after 18 years of teaching because the noted expert on race and law refused to end his leave in protest of the absence of minority women on HLS faculty.

So Professor Bell did get his wish, more minority women on staff.  Or at least woman. That woman was Native American Elizabeth Warren.

But unlike Warren, I’ve never tried to exploit my people and culture to get a job that wouldn’t have otherwise has been offered.  Instead, I’ve played the Peter Principle to navigate the job market.  But Warren, or as she is known by her Indian name, She-who-fakes-bankruptcy-studies, has tried to have it both ways.  Indian when moving up the academic ladder, then white when she reached the top of her field.

What’s astounding to me is that Harvard doesn’t seem to be the least bit embarrassed about its blond affirmative action hire.   What a world we live in.  Elizabeth Warren is  Indian enough to get jobs because of 1/32nd blood ties, but George Zimmerman, who is 1/8th black, is a White Neo Nazi killing machine.

Unfortunately, these race differences really matter to our society.  If George Zimmerman had looked like the son Obama never had, we most likely would never had heard of him.  And Elizabeth Warren, who looked as much (or as little) Indian as I do, parleys herself a minority hire.  As the old Jim Crow one drop rule comes back into vogue, in a new, weird way, “content of our character” seems to becoming less and less a goal and more of a distraction from counting tiny droplets of blood.  Maybe someday we’ll all need to have our DNA encoded on our ID cards, not for health reasons, but to make sure we qualify for every discount and set aside we’re eligible for.

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