Camille Paglia: Stud Finder

I have long found Camille Paglia utterly detestable. There’s nothing charming about her, nothing convivial or even in vivo about her writing. She’s a pedant. She’s a hypocrite. She mainly uses the height of her pulpit to cast long shadows or to direct her self-appointed-cognoscenti (oh yes, I went there) lackeys on where to shove ponderous push-pins into her own map of the world. She could squeeze the final dribbles of moisture from a desert with her prose alone: there’s a museum quality to any subject when she writes about it.

Why am I taking time here and now to talk about this? Well, Ms. Camille, growing ever more glacially comfortable with being an out Lesbian, decided to spew a little dust onto the Larry Craig story. She finds the whole idea of two men hooking in up a restroom to be “a bit de trop”. Can you imagine? De trop, people! (that means, in her context, “icky”).

This from the woman who thinks male urination is some kind of sexually transcendent act, but for women pissing is just “[watering] the ground she stands on”. Or squats over, in this case, a position that suits quite well her relationship with her subject most times. She blames the “PC Squad” back in the day for being pissed off that she observed “the modern male homosexual has sought ecstasy in the squalor of public toilets, for women perhaps the least erotic place on earth.” It’s all bananas and orchids, is it?

Ms. Paglia, it’s a frickin’ room that men happen congregate in for pissing (sorry, micturition), some of whom enjoy the attentions of another man or at least another hand or mouth. There’s some privacy afforded, and it happens. Men aren’t cruising toilets in search of “ecstasy”, they just want to get off. Men have no problem with sexual expediency, usually. Is that really so difficult to accept prima facie (rolling my eyes) instead of spinning a whole web of stuffy academic bullshit around it?

Later (two paragraphs later) in the Salon.com piece I linked to above, she insults the very over-intellectualized bullshit that she employs when she’s trying to show you how much better she is than you are:

Too often defamed these days as racist, imperialist piracy, archaeology has more scholarly soul than, well, most of the Ivy League’s humanities departments ensconced in their plush, airless tombs. [Ow! My sides from hypoxia!]

First, let’s just gloss over the fact that she took exactly three sentences to segue from Larry Craig to Bronze Age Crete: she skewers the Ivory Tower while standing atop it.

It gets…..ummm, better? Her next stop: Absolutely Fabulous! But you’ve been punished enough so far. Moving on…

After a brief mention of a minor early 50s film, Never Wave at a WAC, she moves on to the movie Auntie Mame also starring Rosalind Russell. (Land, ho! A segue!). Now, after dropping trou and dribbling territorial pissings on Larry Craig, the Ivory Tower, the state of field archaeology, British satire and 50s American comedies, Ms. Paglia finally delivers the punch line:

Alert, all “Auntie Mame” fans! (That sparkling 1958 movie, starring Russell and based on Patrick Dennis’ witty book, was one of the central, formative experiences of my youth — a taste inexplicably shared with battalions of gay men worldwide.)

The emphasis is mine, because I’m just overwhelmed. Because I’m so underwhelmed.

The woman who believes she totally clinched the totality of bathroom cruising with…

It’s not just furtive, closeted gay men who frequent toilets: Flamboyant pop star George Michael, who eats up stranger sex like a pastry cart of eclairs [cream-filled phalluses! bonk, bonk on the head! -Eds.] got nailed [double entendre alert, Ibid.] for soliciting a cop in a public john right across from his posh Los Angeles hotel. The sleaziness is a turn-on, probably inflamed by the hyper-distillation of testosterone smells.

…finds it “inexplicable” that gay men love the movie Auntie Mame????

She’s an idiot. Plain and simple. Why do they still give her a pulpit?

•••

Story Rhyme01

Extra credit: which one is cartoonier?

•••

Speaking of unworthy pulpiteers, Andrew Sullivan got married. For realz.

I read it from my friend Rex first, but then scooted over to Joe.My.God. (say it sassy and it feels like praying, or something like that) because Joe and I have this weird, unpredictable overlap when it comes to Andrew Sullivan and I still haven’t found a good predictor for it yet.

After reading through a bazillion comments, after sort of agreeing with the people who hate him and sort of agreeing with the people who thought a high-profile same-sex marriage was a good thing, and after taking Rilke’s (the poet) advice about use of irony, I just decided to lay my cards on the table and comment from the heart:

I’m absolutely the last person on earth who goes in for schadenfreude.

That said, I get a kind of icky feeling that someone so hypocritical and disingenuous in public is making a “commitment” to another human being who could get hurt.

Of course I wish them well and I hope I’m wrong. In the meantime, pass the pepto.

Where does this come from for me? Well, the one experience that I goes back to when I saw that Sullivan was getting married was a few years ago when I “dated” this guy Dave for about five and a half minutes, just long enough to meet a couple of his friends and realize how amazing they were. Dave, not so much, because he had strong “types” for men in his black and white and shallow world. Great looking man, but oy. A couple of years later, after Dave had been presented with a restraining order (nothing to do with me!) and moved to the South Bay and moved somewhere else and then to Southern California then somewhere else (itinerancy takes many forms), he was up here visiting with his “fiancé” (scare-quotes only because same-sex marriage was not legal then, nor is it at the moment). I walked into the bar where he was and he comes charging over to me and says, “I’m getting married. And he’s white!” See, aside from me, Dave went in for the Latino types. Seriously. I could list the details (which he’d listed for me) of separate features of Latino men that were so important to him in a life-partner, but you can’t cross a chasm in a hundred little steps, can you? So I’ll spare you.

Anyway, Dave is who I thought of when I was figuring out my feelings towards Sullivan’s nuptials. I don’t know Andrew at all; I’ve never had direct contact with Andrew except for the reply I got after I Fedexed him a copy of Baby Be-Bop, the then-current installment of the Weetzie Bat series by Francesca Lia Block. It was three months after Allen had died and I thought the author of a book such as Virtually Normal needed some Weetzie Bat far more than I did.

I jokingly told Ronald that had I had only Sullivan and Paglia as “luminaries” guiding my path out of the Closet, I might have stayed in.

Seriously, people, how’d we end up with these two as front-runners when there are so many other, better voices out there?

Boys Being Hit On By Boys

It’s been a while since I posted an entertaining google search that led to my page. This one is less entertaining than it is an opportunity to instruct.

The google search states “our son is being hit on by gay boys”.

This one’s really really easy: do the same thing you’d do if straight boys were hitting on a daughter. Period. That’s all there is to it. No polemics, no fundi-fucking the reality of it, just an age-appropriate, context-appropriate response.

Which I think should start with “no, thank you”, if in fact your son does not want their advances. However, you should allow for that contingency no matter what he’s comfortable telling you. And you know, you can reassure him by making sure he understands that it’s ok if he’s gay. You can also support same-sex marriage so that kids growing up in the coming years will be less likely to assume a stigma to being gay in the first place. You can love your kids, like my parents love me.

You’re welcome.

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Goodbye, Sun

Macintosh Quadra 950No, not that big orange fireball up in the sky, but rather, Sun Microsystems, Inc.

What was once one of the edgiest, geek-coolest companies on the planet is now on its knees servicing the giant prick that is Microsoft. Yes, Sun, maker of the infamous SPARCstations. Never heard of them? That’s how cool they used to be!

Sparcstation2-10SmI purchased two Sparc 2’s when I ran the Computational Biology initiative at Allegheny Singer Research Institute, as well as two then-top-of-the-line Macintosh Quadra 950s. In the office that Rolo and I shared, we had the four machines. In that office, and for quite a bit less than $60,000, we had the equivalent of twice the computing power of the VAX crap that the Institute formally had (which cost more than three times that much per year, not including the costs of keeping an environmentally-isolated “computer room” that the horrid, horrid VMS-running VAXen required). Those Sun SPARCstations created a backlash against the hostage situation the IT doofusses kept if you wanted to do “real” computing. Soon there were SPARC IPXs cropping up everywhere, all running the UNIX-y goodness of Solaris and OpenWindows.

Nerdy, yes, but subversive at the time. It should be noted that the OpenWindows UI of 1990/91 was utterly clunky compared to the Mac OS, even at that time: one thing that Apple had understood for years was that the cursor is utterly owned by the user. That means the machine should never “warp” the cursor to a dialog box, should never bound the cursor when that dialog box is modal (meaning you must dismiss the dialog box before you can do anything else) and oh, dear god, should never move the cursor just to suit the UI.

Olwm If you look at the OpenWindows screenshot (click on the image to show full size) in the lower right-hand corner, you’ll see a scrollbar “thumb”, affectionately known in those days as “the elevator”, you can see it has 3 parts: the up-arrow, the down-arrow and the dimpled box. If you clicked and held either of the arrows, of course the “thumb” would move up or down, but in order to keep tracking the elevator, the cursor moved along with the elevator. Again, nerdy, but this is a prime example of the psychology and simple “fit and finish” of a well-designed user experience and what not to do! User == God and God talks to machine via cursor. This is the kind of stuff that these days is sorely lacking almost everywhere but Mac OS X. And that, dear users, is why I still use a Mac. Not because I’m some kind of “Apple fanboi” but because there’s nothing better out there. But it doesn’t just “suck less”, it’s actually still a joy to use—and that’s something you never hear Windows people say. And it is something you always hear iPhone users say, no matter what side of the aisle their computing habits are.

So today, Sun announced the last nail in its coffin: it’s now a Windows OEM. Jesus click-and-dragging Christ, what a mess.

I don’t single out Sun only because they used to be cool, but because I’m always reminded that in its darkest hours, Apple was nearly acquired by Sun. “Snapple”, they called the notion. And had “Snapple” actually happened, if the Mac still even existed at all, today would have been the day that the Mac OS died and was replaced by Windows. -shudder-

So here I sit on BART, riding home from my acupuncture/acupressure/cupping/chinese-chiropractics treatments, typing away on my MacBook Pro and surfing the net via my Verizon ExpressCard modem, cobbling together bits of the past I remember fondly, still finding wonder in the ease and beauty with which the internet is presented, still appreciating the fact that my retinas aren’t burned in with the garish and ill-chosen colors of the Windows UI.

And feeling a bit sad for the past officially having Passed.

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“That’s Not How Gay Works”

The first story after a two-week hiatus, of course, was about Larry Craig. It aired five hours ago and yet it’s not on YouTube yet. Bummer. Well, when it is, I’ll post it, but picture this…

The lights go down. Jon Stewart is front, camera left. Back behind him is a soul singer who’s embellishing/responding to the blurbs that Stewart gets out, which are actually just portions of audio from Larry Craig himself.

They get through the now-famous bits like “our feet touched” and “I tend to spread my legs when I drop my pants (and how do they get down, then?)”, then:

  • Jon Stewart: …pled guilty to the crime…
  • Singer: …technically a misdemeanor…
  • Jon Stewart: …he said he regretted the plea…
  • Singer: …he could have easily contested the charge of interference to privacy; it’s Law School 101…<br/>[…]<br/>
  • Jon Stewart: …anyway, he still says he’s not nor has he ever been gay!
  • Singer: That’s not how gay works.

Holy shit, that shit was funny. And blithely, cheerfully, simply true. Comedy really is a sublime form of communication, far surpassing spoken word and I might even say it surpasses music and lyrics as well.

Proof? How many times have I written about it? Enough. And how many tedious, homophobic bloviators—you know, like the misnamed barking moonbat and women who are reason enough to bring back quilting bees—are there out there repeating the same ill-formed, irrational abuses of logic and humanity? Far too many. So many in fact, that I’m thinking of starting a pool: when it finally becomes not-ok to treat homosexuals like a distant-second-class caste, what group will it be and when will that become prevalent enough to make the news? I feel bad for that next group, because, like all kinds of violent types, like standing armies without an external target, they’ll turn on their own with a bitterness even worse that what we are enduring because folks like those can’t be out-and-proud racists anymore.

All the liberal blogs and “liberal” media outlets out there tilting at big gay windmills (I know!) would have nothing gay (sorry, “homosexual”) to talk about if they finally just believed “that’s not how gay works”.

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The The Mac Sucks Site Sucks

Fake Steve Jobs wrote about a site he thinks Bill Gates is behind. That was bad grammar, I know, but it was fun to type “Bill Gates is behind.”

I’m pointing you at the site because I’m certain that the Mac can stand up to whatever bitter bitchiness they can foist on the world.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I won’t give my opinion on it. And keep in mind, you’re entirely able to make comments to me, but not to the author of that site. You can go through the motions of making a comment there, but the site won’t actually accept them. Or if it does and he/she’s only moderating comments, then there’s no feedback to that effect. All in all, just a trainwreck of a website.

Then there’s the site’s “favicon”. You know, that little icon that shows up in your browser to the left of the URL? Blown up to show “detail”:

Favicon-2

What the hell is that? And how difficult is it to clean up 196 8-bit pixels? [UPDATE: The icon is from the Open Source project Joomla. Open source is great for code, but not so much for fit and finish. thanks to Nathan for the find.]

And the site’s beautiful banner graphic:

Header Short

Jesus. I’m no Photoshop expert, but c’mon. How are you NOT going to clean up what looks like water-spots? How did they get there in the first place?

And the coup de grace:

Powered By

No shit.

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Oh! Oh! Almost.

I was browsing various tech sites, like I do, and discovered this pretty damned hot looking computer from HP (click the image to see more pics via cnet:

Blackbirdfrontleft 450X600Not bad, right? In fact, I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the most beautiful desktops I’ve seen—and it’s not a Mac. Sadly, that’s not so much a pro-Apple statement as an anti-beige statement. Seriously, that is what usually comes from caring about the oh-so-sacred “enterprise” market instead of caring about the people market. Did someone forget that corporate workers are, y’know, people, too?

It’s huge (see the pictures in that gallery where the machine is next to human beings), but the styling makes it seem elegant, even lithe. I looked through a few different galleries, including one on HP’s site. Interior? Extremely well laid out, and they use standard components instead of vendor specific gooses. Back panel? Efficent and tight. Front? beautifully minimal.

Yeah, you’re waiting for the “but”…

BUT! Then they go and do something absolutely horrific like this:

Gallery-Detail 8

Whyyyy, god, whyyyyy? A little poppy-uppy thingy to ruin the whole gestalt? So sad. They were doing so well! Like the Mac Pro, there are hard drive bays that are “slot loading”, meaning you don’t need to hook up data and power wires to a drive: you just attach the bare drive to a tray (in the Mac Pro’s case, it’s just a slip of metal with a handle) and slide it in. Like a Mac Pro, there are advanced thermals. It only has 4 memory slots (total 8GB) compared to the Mac Pro’s 8 memory slots (16GB), but most people won’t have to worry about that. And it has 5 drive bays instead of 4, so you can get 5TB inside instead of 4TB max, so let’s call it a wash.

96Blackbird-Gut-Close-Up550Macpro Inside500

But oh, that nasty popup thing. Way to ruin the lines of the machine. It makes the inexplicable circles-and-tangents nonsense on the side panel look “cool”.

Would you spend $5600 on this machine? Imagine the scenario: bring it home. Slowly unbox to savor the moments. Set it up. Plug all the plugs in. Power it up. “Welcome to Windows.” Oh GOD.

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iPhone Early Adopter

I’m one of those liberals, remember. Seriously liberal. But I don’t suffer the blindness of those at the fringey extremes, the ones whose doctrinaire qualities are clear evidence that they’ve lost any knack of moderation. I’m certainly not a Capitalist, but we live in a capitalist society, with a set currency. The word “currency” doesn’t really mean what it used to. For a long time, it’s only meant money. There was a more personal coloring to it when barter was in place. But I’m wandering.

I updated the post about iPhone early adopters whining baselessly about the price drop in iPhones, the gist being that they spent “too much”, now that the price was $200 less. There were far far more people complaining than were simply accepting of market conditions and the fact that we purchasers weren’t held at gunpoint in the first place.

Steve Jobs isn’t stupid. In fact, I’d offer to say that his intelligence, savvy and overall cleverness, combined with the fact that he helms creative, technical, corporate and zeitgeist powers, he’s in a position more than almost anyone to be wise as well as smart, possessing of bravery as well as moxie, and perhaps most importantly, he acts in addition to thinking.

So in being presented in this game called life with a piece that couldn’t be moved he didn’t just work around a limitation, he changed the nature of the game: every early adopter of the iPhone will be getting a $100 rebate, most likely in the form of a store credit. For those of you who haven’t done the math yet, even without knowing how many phones were sold it’s reasonable to estimate that well over $50M in charges will result from this overture.

On top of all that, Steve Jobs apologized. I don’t stress that to imply that it’s a surprise that he’s possessing of such humility, but rather to stress that no other powers in high tech would do such a thing.

I googled “Steve Ballmer apologizes” and “Bill Gates apologizes”, and came up with nothing of significance, unless you’re willing to count Ballmer apologizing for accusing every iPod owner of being a thief. Think of all the things that Microsoft should apologize for: lost productivity, forced mediocrity, blue screens of death, red rings of death. I could go on and on. I could have also included the Zune, but like the situation with the iPhone, people aren’t locked into the Zune, an obvious fact given their sales numbers.

Everyone was surprised that Steve Jobs apologized and reversed his statements in a day. I’m not. Not really. If there’s one consistency in Apple’s behavior, to my way of thinking, it’s this: best products, best user experience, maximized user satisfaction. In other words, in the absence of mitigating factors like a monopoly or elevation of the corporate over the personal, people will optimize for happiness, including how they spend their money.

From that perspective, while an apology was surprising, it wasn’t out of character. And in a larger context, it’s only when a corporation is nothing more than a response mechanism through its own policies that people suffer. When humanity is permitted a say, that’s when good things can happen.

So the $100 store credit, to me, is a bonus. A very welcome bonus, but still more of a gift than anything else.

2007.09.09 UPDATE: From a poll on powerpage.org, a Mac and iPod news site:

Iphonepoll

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