Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Erotic fiction - I can do better

One of the things that can sustain you as an artist is the piece of advice that everybody is the best artist somebody knows. Due to the rarity of kids persisting with art beyond childhood, (Gladwell did this great talk at Google about finishing degrees, it'd be interesting to see if the top 5% or bust explains why so many kids stop enjoying art or drawing etc.) No matter what stage of my development I've been at, I come across people who think I have an amazing skill, even though I'm more inclined to compare myself to the extremes - world leading artists - than the average (most people don't draw at all)

But one such world renowned comic artist, Chris Visions, did a mother's day tribute to of all people, his mother. And he related an anecdote absent from my own life experience, about an art assignment he knocked over and showed to his mum who said 'you can do better'. This was a loving tribute to, not the testimony of a tortured soul that could never live up to his mother's impossible standards. The anecdote had him go back and try the assignment 4 more times or something until his mother recognized a work that reflected what he was capable of.

I never had that, and a lot of artists don't. Not just encouragement, but encouragement to reach our best.

I'm aware of an irony that I write about such a practice on my blog, where I have often defended my appalling grammar and spellchecking with my policy of 'if I actually edited my own posts I wouldn't write them at all' and that remains true, even for this post.

But it isn't for my foray into writing erotic fiction. A love letter in fact. Because a) I have discovered it is really difficult. I still can't bring myself to go back and read 'Spank Bank' my second art project that was a zine with illustrated pinups of the fantasy girls I masturbated to along with the journal entries of the actual sessions, because I recall them to be very matter of fact descriptions of what went down, very artless, very dead prose, and still confronting for me to read as author to this day (although I don't even try to read them) and wanting to craft a passage of writing about physical intimacy that is sensual and titillating without being grotesquely visceral is proving extremely difficult. A highwire act for me, and I've never really practiced it.

But b) there's no urgency, and this is new for me. I will simply keep drafting it until it is right, until it works. Until it is a peerless letter. Then and only then will I contemplate sending it.

It's a revelation to work this way, I don't know how many times I have got into my head that something needs to be said, and put into words and I do, I write an email and whether it takes me half a day or 30 seconds, the moment I can claim it to be done, I hit send. It is only then that I get the tingling sensation on top of my head that tells me it was a good idea, or the sinking feeling in my torso that tells me it was a mistake and I'll just have to brace for the consequences.

This exercise of trying to write a sensual erotic letter means I can produce that letter that is a terrible, idiotic idea to send, to have read by anyone. I can produce 10-20-30-40 failures and it doesn't matter, because in that process I need to find what's right. And I can, through that process.

Maybe not so exciting to you, but a profound change for me.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Watch the Throne

Yesterday just before heading to work I sent the following sentence inside of a greater email:

"The other thing, is that so many blogs or newsletters written by self-employed entrepreneurial women bring out a misogeny in me that is uncomfortable to own."

Aside from what I find to be an admirable misplacement of a comma, it is a fine example of topics people foolishly raise without time to actually explore them. Allow me to elaborate. The misogeny is the anger or perhaps rage or perhaps even anxiety I feel when I come across a specific form of remale ambition.

btw, this is the first real digging I've done into this aspect of my psyche, so prepare for a mess.

There's a question I have and that is 'does the patriarchy cost us anything?' I don't have any answer for this, on the one hand you can look to Iceland as featured in Michael Moore's most recent film, where there is much greater representation of women in both government and the local CEO population. They argue much of the GFC can be attributed to the male dominated environment (the high testosterone on trade room floors) and much of Iceland's speedy recovery can be attributed to the great representation of women in Icelandic business. My friend Haley also told me that a scientific study in determining what creates smarter teams produced a 1:1 relationship with effectiveness and the number of women in the team. Attributed to women being much better at reading the emotions of their fellow team members.

So there is certainly not nothing to the notion that the exclusion of women historically (and presently) from the inner circles of power and executive decision making, could be to the detriment of us all.

On the flip there is my own rejection of the 'great man theory of history' which ostensibly seems sexist in its title but is less about gender than... I don't know. I would be surprised if at somepoint in your life leading up to reading this, you had never seen the idea of travelling back in time and killing hitler explored. The great man theory of history, is one that says if you traveled back in time and killed Thomas Edison. (Who was a pretty big arsehole, slightly less than Steve Jobs).

If you believe the great man theory, then the assassination of Thomas Edison would potentially throw history way off course, such that when you return to present day you would expect to find people taking horse and buggy down the street in order to catch a steam ship for their 6 month voyage to LA.

Or if you reject like me, you would expect a little disruption to the course of technological development but that in the absence of Edison inventing and patenting a bunch of shit, somebody else would have, quite possibly Tesla but not necessarily.

The book 'Guns, Germs and Steel' is what persuaded me that the great man theory is bunk, and would do a better job than I ever have.

Its relevance is significant somehow, I'll get there eventually. But if you don't believe that history actually needed it's Aristotles, Alexanders, Ceasers, Da Vincis, Newtons, Franklins, and Edisons and that they were more the products of their environment than the producers of our environment - it raises to me the question of whether there is a 'female leadership' society is missing out on.

I want to be clear that this is not an argument against equal opportunity, that is a matter of injustice inherently anyone born a woman suffers by it, without even pointing towards all the other things one can be born to be handicapped or outright excluded from entering the current corridor of power.

May I point out that history is littered with female leaders, much less known and less celebrated but Democracy is one of the last systems of government to allow female leaders. I have spent my entire life with a woman's likeness on one side of just about every piece of currency I handle. She may be a figurehead head-of-state, but she history is not deprived of female absolute monarchs.

I'm not a historian, or even a history buff, so I can't testify that historical female leaders ever produced a distinct form of leadership that male counterparts cannot reproduce.

That's the thing, men get the injustice generally of claiming all the glory, but the question is whether society as a whole has missed out on anything more than a greater catalogue of female role models.

So here's how I relate the above question of asking in absolute terms whether the patriarchy costs us anything, is that if it doesn't. If it is simply a matter of saying that women are equal to men in leadership ability and lead in the same variety of ways that male dominated leaders have, then I find that for some insane reason, much less threatening than if we had missed out, if female leaders could lead in a way that would be a massive cultural shift for me.

I titled this post 'watch the throne' so let me define my specific misogeny. I don't mind if men are deposed and usurped by women, if the women want to sit in the throne. What scares me, fundamentally is that they aren't interested in that throne. The throne is interesting because men need to be cast from it, but then that throne, that way of organising and all those rules of the patriarchy that I live by, would be gone. That would scare me.

I don't give a shit if my ghostbusters are men or women, so long as they want to bust ghosts and don't want to be slimed.

So it is that that stirs up the fear and anxiety in me, that all the privilege and the resources could be seized and rededicated to a game that I don't even play. Whereas to me, Hillary and her international precedents be it our own Gillard, or Merkel of Germany, Thatcher and that's all about the precedents I know enough about that they are women so compromised by the political system that they are more female politicians than women in the same way that Barack Obama is not Chuck D.

There's an alternative explanation though, and that is because much of the blog's and newsletters of succesful women I come across speak to my formative years back in Ballarat. The girls that helped reinforce my sense of being an outsider in my home culture. Blond pony-tailed Caucasian girls whose life ambition was to try and bring their beach house holiday back into their home life. The distressing obsession to me, of 16 year old girls trying to cultivate the affect of middle-aged women.

I also suspect it is why much of the mediums female artists gravitate towards are relegated to the class of 'craft' vs. the mediums male artists tend to gravitate towards and dominate are referred to simply as 'art'. This connection though I can't be bothered writing about, but I suspect its the same.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

It is the Mind that is the Mind that keeps the Mind from the Mind Do Not Mind the Mind Oh Mind

Because I didn't know what to call this post and still like. I took the poem from the Yagyu's treatise on the art of war.

I used to keep a pretty rigorous discipline of meditation, my best run lasting for over 100 consecutive days. I'm not going to lie to you, getting into the present moment has all kinds of amazing and positive effects, the benefits of meditation and many of the revelations are actually quite accessible to a beginner. It profoundly changed my perspective, and was good for my health all round.

But I am not without some misgivings, or rather, some 'okay-lets-calm-the-fuck-down-about-mindfulness'. I would for example say that the goal of cessation is not only undesirable, but bullshit too, though you can find youtube guru's that preach it. (although I couldn't find one to link to, I swear they exist, I'm not crazy)

I'm one of those lucky people that do not find my own thoughts unpleasant. Though I can get anxious, and sad and all the generally negative states, it's no big deal. For me meditation is in fact most useful in slowing me down enough to notice that I am tense, or stressed. I generally don't realise it.

So it is easy for me to say, meditation ain't all that. It's everything just about that it claims to be (though having never taken MDMA or it's much less cool rave culture associated branding of XTC, I can't quantify that you can achieve the same high through meditation. I have certainly blissed out though.) It just isn't everything.

I wouldn't say meditation is so much better than thinking, in no small part because meditation has thinking in it. You are just paying attention to those thoughts.

But my experience yeilded some misgivings, my personal working theories of what one has to not get carried away with the current wave of mindfulness.

The first is considering it as a drug. Not doing meta meditation to achieve xtc like highs, but like when you are stressed out and take a glass of wine to take the edge off. Or the nerves. Substitute any drugs you like. They can solve states like stress, depression, nerves, rejection, heartbreak. Except drugs just remove the symptoms of whatever your problems are. The drugs wear off and you are only better off so long as the effects of the drugs last.

Meditation works like that though I would guess slightly better. I mean you tend to be calmer after a meditation session in a lasting way. But if you have a presentation coming up that is emotionally challenging and you sit down to meditate, it doesn't get that presentation done for you.

When I do it well, a meditation session arrests my tendency to project forward in time to the actual event that is stressing me out - so that I can take stock of the time I have to be resourceful and handle that situation. It is like waking from a nightmare to realise you still have your limbs in tact and an ordinary day ahead, just muted in both directions.

Having said that, time travelling into the situation that has you stressed now can be immensely useful preparation provided you have the imagination. What Robert Downey does in all his fight scenes in the Sherlock films.

Then there's this video, which makes another argument better than I am going to typing.

Lastly, I'm a fan of the explanatory power of the theory of evolution. Particularly evolutions abhorrence of waste. And namely that theory tells me, we evolved this yammering inner monologue for a reason. Miserable as it makes us, it's useful.

I mean evolution rewards surviving, simply what works at getting you to stay in the game. Not necessarily happiness, self fulfillment, self-actualization. Fucking a stream of people who mean nothing to you can make you miserable and ensure your genes carry forward into the future.

But I don't think it's necessarily irrational or sickness that has our ambitions oriented toward more stressful careers and accumulating resources that make us happy in diminishing increments. Because it is useful to surviving. A form of fox gnawing it's foot off to escape the trap. Trading fear for misery.

Meditation for me is a useful tool for tempering and balancing those considerations. To not have my doubts shatter my sense of self so much as reinforce it. Like an athlete improving their performance by incorporating rest days into their regimen, my mind runs all the time, meditation has allowed me to rest it, and improve its output.

So I mean, I see the temptation to get carried away with mindfulness, but just make sure that you aren't doing it simply to maintain a lifestyle that involves a smart phone. You may be better to throw the smart phone away.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dos Douches

The second douche was a shorter story, hence I'll tell it first. I was walking back to the Air BnB in Barcelona, somewhere near the Sagradea Familia part of town, and it was a hot swarthy night. Siesta is totally necessary in Spain because you can't function in the afternoon. Nor can you really sleep until quite late at night. I kind of like it.

But a passed a homeless dude, who had bedded down in a closed shop front. There was no interaction it was just a sighting, one that had me thinking about the relativity of it all - the psychological edge perspective gives you. Without even recalling the year(s?) I lived in a tent in a garage, now that I think about it, I was thinking that if you were a homeless resident of my hometown Melbourne and woke up tomorrow to discover you were now homeless in Barcelona, you would be all 'Yes!' Like winning the homeless lottery. The relative lottery of exposure being crossed off the list as something to prematurely end your life.

In about the time it took me to think this (minus the aside about my own garage living credentials) which was probably roughly the equivalent amount of time it took you to read it, I was 30 meters past the homeless guy and now a tourist couple drew my attention.

Which is unfair, because it was really only the guy who drew my attention. By being a douche. I turned around and spied him because he was making noises at the homeless guy. Noises like one might make when russeling sheep or trying to spook a potentially rabid rodent out of your yard. 'hey!' 'tssss!' 'woo!' shit like that. And his protruding neck made it clear he was trying to rouse the homeless person from their sleep.

Horrible and as uncompassionate (?) as I am, the thoughts came unbidden that this was too much, unnecessary crap. Barcelona is a city less plagued by homeless and surrounding issues than it is by tourists and surrounding issues. We were tourists and as a case in point, this street had one homeless person trying to sleep peacefully and 3 tourists, 33% of which were being noisy and disruptive.

The first douche, I am no longer confident is a longer story. It was also in Barcelona, but this time I had walked out on the jetty-type development, and because I had all the time in the world to kill, I decided to loop through the massive modern retail department development. For my fellow Melbournians think basically South-Bank. A spot that didn't even have the history of the Rambla.

Anyway, none of the shops looked interesting. At all, so I was really just cruising through. By the entrance of one shop, a kid that I'm going to assume was of subcontinental origin burst out of the doors and stopped dead right in front of me. His face was a quick read because he hadn't spotted me and stopped dead. He pretty clearly couldn't see me. He was looking for his mum whom he couldn't find. Memories of being in the same bind in Wendoree Village shopping center are salient enough to know that's a horrible feeling.

His panic set in pretty fast, I'm going to say he was about 8 years old, but I have nothing to base that on. So this kid was young but probably in possession of language abilities. The devastation hit his face and he started bawling. I stood still and watched him.

Here's the thing, there is a human being inside me that wants to rush forward and reassure and comfort a kid experiencing this much distress. There is also a firm break on such action that comes from being a single male in his 30s that is the closest I will ever come to empathising with those who are racially profiled. I just know in my heart of hearts, that I am not allowed to speak to or touch kids, at least not in my home turf. I live in the world of 'M' and mobs are just waiting to mob me should I prove myself a child murderer by showing kindness or affection towards a child that wasn't my own.

See this story is longer, I made the right call.

Having said the above, I'm not helpless in the face of a crying child. Nor victim to the bystander effect. I simply kept my eye on this kid to see whether this would resolve itself quickly, before I would step forward and try and establish if we spoke enough of a common language. I have found unattended children bawling in my supermarket back in Melbs and that was basically what I did, except the odds were much higher that the kid would speak english then, though strangely that crying child was also of subcontinental ethnicity. I don't want to paint subcontinental parents as particularly negligent though, hence it was strange. I've also while running Beach Rd assisted parents in chasing down their scooter equipped infants that have lost track of their parents. That kid was white as.

So while I'm appraising and darting my eyes around to see whether the mother was nearby and responding to the cries, while devising my plan of attack, the first douche entered. He emerged from the store behind the kid, who turned around crying, and this douche goes 'waaaaaaaaaaaaah!' and like mocks this kid. The kid, not picking up on the nuanced sarcasm of the douche, reached out to clutch at this guy's shirt and actually cried out 'mama!' (useful data for me, the kid and I would be able to understand 'mama') and the douche kicked out at the kid while attempting to dodge his outstretched hand.

This is not a post about how I saw two garbage people who walk this earth and aren't I a much better person. Once the kid turned around he spotted another woman in the store of middle-eastern ethnicity that he then approached and who tried to help him, within 30 seconds she managed to call out to some passing mall security and by that point there was nothing I could contribute, so I moved on, proving myself quite useless. I also haven't solved the problem of homelessness, and to be honest don't do much for the homeless. Ever.

No what this post is about are the ladies. Because both the first douche, and the second were walking with, what body language informed me and the context, their girlfriends.

This post is also, rest assured not a 'nice guy' wine. I'm not a nice guy, I'm quite superficial and I would have passed on both those women. No, this is a 'no guy' wine.

I'm going to pretend I am somehow reaching these ladies now, as if they had waited 6 weeks to google key words that fit the description of the events we mutually experienced and discovered this post somehow and say: is this not a red flag for you?

I can tell you, and have actually quite literally told people, that being rude to the help is a dealbreaker for me. When not telling people I have avoided the company of friends for years because they merely associated with people who were rude to cafe waitresses.

How can I be so intolerant of the faux pas of giving some frontline staff shit about something they can't control and aren't responsible for, and you can date a man that won't let an impoverished person sleep in peace or would mock and lash out at a child having (probably) the worst day of his short life?

I witnessed no admonitions. Nor even a 'shut up, you're drunk.' acknowledgement which would have been better than nothing. Common to both douches was that they were clearly tourists, like me.

Part of it, I get. I saw a lot of amazing wonderful places while I was away. Whenever I'm away, in fact. And I semi-regularly wish I was sharing it with someone. But not anyone.

I've thought a lot about this economist explanation of sexual politics, and how birth control was basically this disruptive technology that has caused the unintended consequence that sexual politics is now more in favor of men over women than ever before.

But basically, contraception has split the 'sex market' from the 'marriage market' by drastically reducing the risk of sex eventuating in children.

More than the politics and all that shit though, what I think about is the impact of divorcing the maternity/paternity evaluation out of our evaluation of sexual partners.

My conclusion was that even though it's not what I'm really looking for or primarily concerned about, 'would I put my child willingly in this persons arms?' is an extremely useful heuristic for assessing a potential partner. Particularly if you are vulnerable to White-Knight issues like I am.

Curiously, the Authors of the White Knight Syndrome said that when they were first pitching the book idea to colleagues, as 'people who feel a compulsive need to rescue others' one colleague responded 'so basically, women?'

I digress. Could you put your child, the person that even though you haven't met them yet, you will love more than anyone else in the world, into the arms of the second douche? Somebody who genuinely thinks that the homeless should get up and go... where? They are fucking homeless.

My feeling is, that says so much about a person, if someone I was dating dropped that bomb on me, I wouldn't be able to continue walking my frontal lobes would be so engaged in processing how to leave the relationship.

I mean, a homeless person is someone incredibly vulnerable, quite powerless (though not entirely) and their survival depends entirely on how the adults in their vicinity treat them. The main difference between babies and the homelessness in their standing in our society is not the cuteness factor so much as that someone is generally willing to take responsibility for the welfare of babies.

Whether you plan to have children or not ladies and gents, if you wouldn't trust your partner with a baby I would assert that you shouldn't trust them with yourself. While we may not consciously associate sex with babies (and marriage) anymore, we certainly subconsciously do. Reproduction still informs our sense of physical attraction, it also informs the way couples behave and treat eachother - with pet names, baby talk, play, feeding each other and sucking on your old ladies' titties. People who report that they 'don't want kids' still behave this way with their significant others.

So why the fuck are you dating a guy that laughs and mocks the distress of a child? You are really banking on double standards there for his parenting credentials.

You know what, it's time to rent out 'Under the Tuscan Sun' maybe even 'Eat Pray Love'. Not to suggest you would find Mr. Right if you just didn't pack a boyfriend to take with you, but to maybe think about travelling without one. Have a good holiday instead of being in an amazing city on the arm of somebody thoroughly unamazing. Use that moment of reflection in the Cathedral or gazing out onto the Mediterranean to contemplate how you'd recognize a man that lives up to the lyrics of Salt-N-Pepa's 'What a Man' (I don't. I'm trying. But I don't.)

Better than trying to make something shitty work. And fuck it, ask nicely at the desk if you can change your allocated seating if your holiday delivers such a clear sign that this guy is not a keeper. Don't wait for the uber ride home.

Saturday, August 20, 2016


There's a standing piece of wisdom that I increasingly feel I disagree with. It got touted a lot at the annual graduation speech-thing my high school did every year (amazingly and wonderfully, every year 12 student got a chance to make a speech, I hope it continues though they were telling us we had a minute each in our year, then politely ignoring the restriction).

The advice was thus: 'Take what you love and figure out a way to make money out of it.'

On the one hand, I still agree. I come across this problem with my fellow artists all the time, most artists get in their head that there is an inherent compromise in making money. An ever present dilemma between artistic vision and financial viability. That the only 'true' or 'good' art has to be something that drives you into the ground. Whereas I would say that if you draw the Venn diagram of 'what I want to create' and 'what people will pay money for' there will probably be sufficient overlap to keep your head above water all your life. At least in terms of concepts and ideas. You may not be able to execute. So if it referred to doing this exercise - then yeah, I'm all for this as advice - fucken enlighten yourself that your dreams are probably more viable than your fears credit them. Work that shit out on paper.

But the anecdotes told to me were: 'One of my sons friends wanted to be a musician, but it's hard to make money, but then he became a sound engineer so he gets to work with musicians and he makes a steady paycheck.' This interpretation I am less for.

Enter Geek culture, or nerd culture, or Otaku culture.

Infantilisation is a topic that seems to be out there in the zeitgeist right now, and I'd like to write more on it, but I bring in the geeks/nerds because of a different quality, not so much that they are a significant cluster of man-babies.

This is about a specific man-baby, whom I don't really want to pick on or single out, except that he judged it a wise idea to document a video of him complaining about his issues with Youtube.

So before I explain what I find distasteful about his complaining, allow me to give him a plug such that it is:

Rob curates his own Youtube channel 'Comics Explained' which was revealed to me via Youtube algorithms that cough up recommendations it thinks I'll enjoy, particularly enjoy while I sat in my studio drawing something that was easier for me to sit still and do, while playing youtube clips, keynote speeches or audiobooks so that I could get 4-6 hours of drawing done a day.

And along came Comics explained. I have a personal interest in comics, and furthermore, I'm always interested in ways to avoid reading the 90% of shit that true to Sturgeon's law makes up most of comic book publication history. (Probably actually higher, for all the pre-Alan Moore/Frank Miller years).

To paraphrase Rob himself (because I can't be bothered transcribing accurately) he 'woke up 2 years ago and realised nobody was making comics that explained characters publication history.' For those who don't have much experience within the DC - Marvel universes, you have a bajillion characters walking around, and some obscure character story can be told chronologically like this: Thor issues 272-274 (first appearance) The Incredible Hulk Vol .2 #14, Deadpool #46-49 and so on and so fourth. And it can be over periods spanning a decade or 6.

So Rob's value proposition was to piece together this diaspora into succinct videos one character at a time. Combining this proposition with his dream of being able to live off Youtube revenues, Rob seems to be living that advice. He took something he loved, and figured out a way to make money off it.

Except that's not my plug, my plug would be that I feel just as it is good to travel in order to get perspective, and not from Canada to Australia (though better than nothing) nor even US to France, but say Australia to Cambodia, US to Cuba etc. to see that other people on this planet live very different lives, normal people should look in periodically to nerd world, to observe as just as there are people on this earth that are concerned about clean drinking water and who their arranged husband will be, there are people that really care about the netcode on Street Fighter 5, and even Sony's next attempt to revive the Spiderman movie franchise.

Comics Explained is not the best lens to see the magical world of stuff nerds feel is important, but it is one none-the-less. Maximillion Dude's channel is probably a better one, he does 'Real Talk' videos that are eye-opening to me and probably to you.

But the difference is that I like Maximillion Dude, and Rob I don't.

And it was never more clear to me than when he published this video.

Even in the most progressive of internet forums it would require no trigger warnings, yet I found it so distasteful to watch that I don't blame you if you clicked the link and lost interest quickly.

The subject of the video, appears to be a legitimate complaint, as far as I can deduce. He licensed music to use in his introduction of some 163 videos, and then long down the track some automated system at Youtube flagged them for copy write infringement, shutting down his revenue streams and he was having to deal with the administrative bureaucracy.

And worse, the only way he can have peace of mind, is to go and transcribe every video he's ever made to make sure it features no music or some shit. He's going to hire writers to transcribe all his videos for him, and that's where the video gets really distasteful, because he starts to get angry about the videos he wanted to release to coincide with upcoming film releases but wont because he has to get his peace of mind back.

Now, I've watched probably some 20 of his videos, which is to say, not when he takes to his channel to talk about himself, but his videos where he explains comics. Probably more even, but in terms of time after three weeks I made the conscious decision that I was done with this guy.

My reason being, that he was basically a parasite. A landlord. He had, true to his own revelation - recognised a gap. A gap that Marvel and DC hadn't bridged. So he did.

And it is true to say that he does explain often in detail, the entire publication history of characters ranging from obscure to face-of-a-franchise. As well as detailing 'events' which have been the bane of everyone that enjoyed comics but didn't give a shit about 90% of the titles the big two put out for decades now. So that's when comic fanatics to understand what happens to Batman between this comic and the last need to also buy an issue of the reviled Aquaman in order to find out.

Imagine if you will, if some TV exec decided to understand what had transpired between two episodes of Game of Thrones, or The Walking Dead (eg. why some key character was now dead) you had to watch an episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians or Dance Moms.

Comics Explains does that work for you. Succinctly.

I ditched him though, because it wasn't a service like 'Basketball Breakdown' where you are having a Basketball game 'explained' in terms of coaching decisions, tactics, plays ie. the mechanics of the craft if you will. But lengthy synopsis complete will scanned pages from the comics he is explaining.

Those scanned pages are comics that were written, pencilled, inked and lettered by professionals. Who worked hard to get where they are and are probably exploited by the Duopoly of Marvel and DC. Those pages are nothing but the IP of these companies that bought these characters and paid these artists and writers who probably put in close to 10,000 hours mostly unpaid to get the opportunity to contribute to this tradition for better or worse.

And Rob of Comics Explained who has the decency to license the music he uses in his videos, scans it, gives you a run down of multiple issues of comics with slow panning shots of the artwork and page spreads of the pivotal scenes and simply describes what happened in the story.

Explanations of the craft of writing or illustrating comics are minimal, if close to non-existent. As I stated previously I was initially interested in this channel because I felt it could save me from having to read the 90% crap. After 3ish weeks, I stopped watching it because this is the exact service it provides.

In a follow up video Rob explains something, I don't know it's here if you care about his plight with the music licensing issue. He does in the section I watched, briefly outline his rationale as to why his channel is ok - namely he is educating people and thus helping people get into comics who otherwise wouldn't.

I'm sure this is somewhat true, he could produce testimony from a subscriber who would say 'I used to only read the Alan Moore masterpieces like Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell, but Comics Explained got me into reading the Fantastic Four and all the other shit.'

But I suspect the majority of his subscribers would testify thusly 'I got really excited by the trailers for the new X-men film, and in the past when I've been looking forward to a comic-book movie I'd hit up the comic book store and try and familiarise myself with the lore, I bought a copy of Watchmen off a big fat stack back in 2009, but now thanks to Comics Explained, I didn't have to hunt down and purchase collected volumes of X-men, it was all right there in one convenient Video.'

Rob said he didn't get onto Youtube to be paranoid about when they were going to take his videos away (or something like that) but he should be paranoid.

I am not savvy enough nor motivated enough to establish it, but I feel back in the early 2000s, Wikipedia provided much of the service Rob thinks he provides Marvel and DC. You could look up any comic book character and get detailed run downs of their publication history, galleries of artwork of them and now... it's all gone. Not all gone, but you can get a cursory summary of plots depending on how iconic the character is, only a few images (but for lesser characters, none) and almost never a whole page spread.

I can only assume this is not a lack of creative innovation among comic fans, but because comic-co lawyers hit up Wikipedia with cease & desist orders, or Wikipedia actually had the communal conscious to get it's current guidelines and content policies in place.

Comicvine kind of stepped into the gulf that Wikipedia left, and it does an adequate job of what Comics Explained takes (in my non-legal opinion) too far. Comicvine gives you a short text-based summary, tells you the publication history in terms of the issues any character has appeared in, and generally features a gallery of user submitted art.

I'm sure it's all under fair-use, or something, and perhaps Rob knows his 'fair use' but just on a personal level, I disagree. He doesn't really 'review' comics, he 'explains' the publication history. He claims to be an educator, but there's almost nothing about the craft, one could not learn how to make comics from comics explained (unless you were pausing it and learning to draw from the artwork he appropriates), if anything we are simply being educated as to the content of products we would otherwise have to pay for (or steal ourselves).

He may tell himself and Marvel & DC that he's introducing people to comics that otherwise wouldn't. But I don't feel he has the means to prove that this actually happens, as opposed to allowing people who may actually have bought the comics he explains to now save their dollars.

'Find something you love and figure out how to make a living off it' can work if it means draw on your love to create anew what you love in the world. If you love art, make art etc.

'Find something you love and figure out how to make a living off it' is kind of sad and pitiable when you steer dreamers who may have had a shot to just do something safer at it's periphery.

'Find something you love and figure out how to make a living off it' I must also point out, applies to selling your daughter into sexual slavery, although that may be construed as evidence that you don't love her. I guess it depends how much you weep when you cash that check. It's also illegal, mostly, and where it isn't it should be.

I'm almost tempted to try and explain how Rob is living off the sweat of the working class, and rent-seeking and economic rents and all that but I'm sure Slavoj Zizek will get to it eventually 'rock star' that he is and he'll use such big words in such a thick accent that we'll all be really impressed and persuaded.

So I'll leave with this suggestion sometimes its interesting to watch someone speak on mute. Despite all those studies that say only 7% of communication are the words we say, it's a really useful exercise to dispense with them altogether. I did this with the first video and found without the verbalised arguments and rationalizing its impossible to feel sympathy for this guy. I'd describe him but if you're curious try it and see what you see. Probably more interesting to try on Trump and Hillary.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

My Favorite Prostitutes

" the first city where I can say I have my favorite prostitutes." is what I said to my date for the day as we were floating in the ocean. We were both outsiders to the city who had met on Tinder and found a day to explore together. Conversation naturally turned to prostitution.

But it's true, I had my favorite prostitutes because in the historic center prostitution was pretty hard to avoid, and had been for 4 centuries. It was practically UNESCO heritage listed. And walking through the laneways I quite naturally had done my evaluations and picked my favorites.

Which is probably true of everyone whether they are a John or not, as I wasn't. But my favorites generally worked a corner near my friends Art Studio and also some of the more interesting artisans. They had good spirits and I would catch them goofing off on what as far as I could tell, was a quite slow and boring job.

And in Italian they, like every prostitute one passes, greet you with 'ciao' and try to strike up a conversation and put a deal together. I would respond with what I can only hope was a polite ciao while maintaining the momentum to carry me on and passed their corner. But I liked seeing those working girls, and I enjoyed the exchanges.

 Then one day as I was taking this laneway, a guy came to offer me hashish. I didn't understand why he was stopping me at first. Nothing in his tone was threatening, but I hadn't picked up the words so I said 'parli inglese?' and he said 'hashish. smoke?'

But it was within earshot of one of my favorites, and it fundamentally changed our interactions.

As I passed the drug vendor she spoke to me and said 'let's go.'

And suddenly I found myself having to decline sex with one of my favorite prostitutes.

This is an anecdote about shame, but not the shame you might assume. Because I'm a cold calling market research dude. My 'day job' has mostly been calling up strangers and asking them if they got time for a survey.

And here's a secret from the inside, it is actually far worse to make a polite excuse to not do the survey than it is to just say no. Largely because it is often passive aggressive, but mostly because it wastes time having to preserve your self image that you aren't one of those people that hangs up the phone on kids cold calling.

And here I was, making excuses.

Afterwards, when I had the time and space to think rationally, I know nothing about prostitution anywhere let alone my adoptive home for 3 months. For me to say yes, would have been to accept legal risks, financial risks as well as sexual health risks that were completely unquantified. So, I mean of course you don't say yes to sex to a stranger on the street in the middle of the day.

But something about me, when somebody is offering you sexual intercourse in exchange for money it seems so much more personal. I can't remember with exact fidelity but the exchange which didn't last long went something like this:

'let's go'
'I'm sorry.'
'let's go, come on.'
'I have other plans.'
'plans change. We can go to my house it's not far.'
'I'm sorry.'
'Don't worry about the money it is not so much.'
'that's okay.'
'Come on, I will make you feel good.'
'I'm sure that's true, but...'

Then I just walked away, but lamely waived good bye and probably said ciao or someshit.

There was a time, back when I was corporate where as a reward for participating in the companies equivalent to Toyota's continuous improvement program we got sent to Sydney for a couple of days. And one night we were walking Kings Cross, which as a red light district is actually a lot more confronting than I would have expected. At one point spruikers invited us to come in and see a sex show at some establishment or possibly to check out the girls. And it wasn't the best customer service attitude of front line staff I'd ever come across and they seemed pissed off when we were giving an emphatic no.

But after that exchange I thought, no, they are right. We were a bunch of voyeurs walking through the street where people exchange money for sex. We are crowding up the shops and wasting people's time.

After walking away from my favorite prostitutes I felt similar, except this city the red light district is kind of just on top of not the red light district. Space is far more shared. So I really wasn't cruising past shyly toying with the idea of sleeping one of these women. Or was I?

My personality is such, that I couldn't sleep with a prostitute if they weren't attracted to me, even if that sounds like it defeats the purpose. I like to think that my favorite prostitutes liked me too.

The thing is, if you take body language for example, you have to discount context. You shouldn't for example think the girl who serves you at McDonalds, is into you. Because their job is to smile and engage and greet you enthusiastically and make eye contact. So you discount it, and surely with the skin trade, that applies even more so.

Except my city of Italy, who were the clientele? In my call center work, it's really cool to talk to a really cool 70 year old, but it's extra nice to talk to a young lady my age who is nice. Know what I'm saying? Compared to the other potential John's, maybe that would be an easy shift of work for them.

I don't know, and to be honest, to me it sounds too much like an act of economic consumption as an act of charity. What I really think about, is that people like me who are really in the relationship or bust mindset, probably should be the clients of prostitutes where the non-attachment of casual sex are unambiguous.

I'm just embarrassed that I didn't have the conviction to just say no. And the city was such that I'd see my favorite prostitutes wandering other streets when they were off duty, and to all extents just women being women.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Black Cat Trigger Happy

I was leaning on the balcony of my friends house taking in the view. Though I was concentrating on the steeple, the mountains of the horizon, the clouds migrating across the sky, at some point I looked down into the street out front of the house. And I noticed a black cat crossing the street. I had two thoughts of which I am no longer sure of the order in which they arrived.

One I almost always reflexively recall when seeing a black cat, or any cat, crossing a path was Groucho Marx's 'a black cat crossing your path indicates it is going somewhere' which is what I remind myself of whenever a black cat does cross my path.

The other, much more relevant thought was 'this is why I fucken hate trigger warnings.'

The first time I saw a trigger warning, the impression and execution was not too different from TV-Ratings. If you can remember as far back to when you used to watch TV, the ones that flashed up to say 'The following program contains references to drugs, sex and violence, parental guidance is advised' The emphasis of course is mine, because it's a crucial difference between trigger warnings and TV-ratings. (It's perhaps a useful exercise to contemplate why these two practices are different)

Anyway the actual first time I came across it was in a post by my friend Leah, and I made many snap judgements and formed an impression quite quickly, based on who my friend Leah is, the authority she has and whom I assumed she was attempting to reach.

Because she has written in quite brutal detail, the brutal realities of major depressive episodes. Thus at the time, and still, I would credit her with having the first hand experience to know her triggers - I also assume (though being a verbally coherant assumption, is very much post-hoc compared to the unintelligible impression I actually used) that this novel new pre-text phrase 'trigger warning' was offering people in similar situations to Leah to make the cost benefit analysis of reading this article vs triggering a major depressive episode - quite a costly thing.

I assumed she was speaking to a rarefied audience she has access to, that both has an interest in trauma and extreme sensitivities to it.

So I thought nothing of it.

Then trigger warnings came to be employed by people just throwing articles up on fb that it was much harder for me to believe as being employed in the same way Leah had.

Further more, the 'trigger warnings' began to be predictable.

Ask yourself what is 'trigger warning' going to mean? What isn't it going to mean? Excluding when it is employed for parody/ridicule eg. trigger warning 'avocados' it's not going to foretell a coming mention of avocados. It is going to probably in this order foretell content of rape, assault, suicide, self-mutilation, depression.

Now do you remember room 101 from 1984? The room that contains the worst thing in the world, which for John Smith was rats ready to gnaw his face off? No need to imagine what would be in your personal room 101, imagine instead that for fear of one day walking accidentally walking into your own room 101 you employed your friend Garry to scout ahead. And should he discover you are on a collision course with room 101, he can pop back and silently warn you with a solemn shake of his head.

It sounds like it would work, and here I have to extend the benefit of the doubt to my trigger-warning happy friends, that as far as intention goes they are trying to provide a well-intended service that is sensitive to the realities of others mental health and sparing them unnecessary pain or anguish.

Just what I would bet good money on, is that if Garry did scout ahead for you to see if you were walking into room 101, that Garry and the thought of seeing his solemn face would start to become a proxy 101. His face would start evoking some of the gut wrenching emotions that occur when you think of room 101.

Then something happened to me, about 2 years ago now. I had a panic attack. An unpleasant experience that lacking any real experience of them, was even more so distressing. The thought that I was arousing myself into cardiac arrest did occur to me. It was not unmanageable, but also not an experience I would wish on anybody.

Especially me.

I haven't had one since, and like my magic rock that protects me from bear attacks, I can't really testify that the method I employed to prevent panic attacks actually works, given how rare they are in my life. (I've had 1, possibly 2 in my life) But I did read up, I read a terribly titled book called 'i-brainmap: freeing your brain from stress' but that details (among much acronyms that make me cringe as a marketing graduate) simple and effective methods for dealing with any 'activated' state.

And the activated states are what a person is in when they have been triggered. This book urged it's readers to not invest their effort in avoiding triggers, but in confronting them with curiosity - or more accurately the unpleasant states of activation that result from being triggered. The book claimed to be cutting edge, employing new discoveries about nueroplasticity to say the existent conventional wisdom of identifying triggers in therapy sessions and devising strategies to avoid them was proving to be a load of hooey, albeit an intuitive response to unpleasantness. (My own psychotherapy has never touched on triggers, they weren't why I was there)

And this was perhaps the worst impression the book conveyed to me, because I kind of gave trigger warnings a two-year grace period, dismissing them as naive but well intentioned. The people using them simply weren't up to speed with nueroplasticity. Not understanding that they are in practice reinforcing the triggers and in fact shrinking the space those avoiding triggers can roam online by creating a secondary 'catch-all' trigger in 'trigger warning'.

If Garry and room 101 didn't do it for you, think back to something else you probably feel queasy about and that is secondary school algebra.

Remember feeling stupid as those math savant kids noticed that if you let z = (2x - c) then suddenly an equation became y = (2z - z^2)/z and seemed that much more solvable and why can't I see that shit?

Well let trigger warning = every most common triggers out there. Such that somebody whose trigger might be 'self-mutilation' now gets that state of activation from reading 'trigger warning' even if the attached link contains no mention of self-mutilation because it causes them to anticipate that their particular trigger is around the corner. Even when it isn't.

Of course, I don't know that this happens, I would simply be willing to bet good money that this turns out to be happening. I don't have any real triggers that knock my hipocampus out of commission and leave the wheels of my frontal lobes spinning with the resultant inability to talk to my more primative brain that processes the fight-flight-freeze response. Thus I can't personally testify from experience.

Anyway, as stated some time passed between when I learned that avoiding triggers is counterproductive to seeing this black cat from my friends balcony.

In the interim I would periodically be reviewing the works of psychiatrist Gordin Livingston who wrote 'confrontation over time makes things better, avoidance makes things worse' and Gabor Mate who in fact sites Eckart Tole when saying 'never run from your fears' and other healers in the addiction industry (the good ones, I feel, being almost universally focused on trauma) repeat this message. Brene Brown's work that went 'viral' via TED is similarly centered around the importance of vulnerability - willing to actually step into the arena and get hurt as being crucial to living 'wholeheartedly' - shame too. I'm struck by how Brene's work is more or less the same as Gabor Mate's narrative by a different name, reaching a different audience (I hope).

And it seems forgotten to me, in the public brains trust that Anxiety, Depression, PTSD... etc are debilitating conditions, that nobody wants to persist. Suffering from anxiety appears to have become normalised in my local culture (making it important to remember that 'normal' is not 'natural') and they are perhaps the one exception to my experience that most people suffering a debilitating condition will only seek a path of 'managing' the condition when beating that condition has been ruled out. (chronic pain, severe clinical depression etc.) Instead anxious people create videos about how life could be altered to suit the needs of socially awkward people. Although I do wish chairs on airplanes were unable to recline, accommodating people who live in fear of feeling awkward is a sentiment that makes me actually want to go to war with the socially anxious (it would be easy).

What little reading I've done on OCD makes me confident that 'exposure response prevention therapy' is a core practice, albeit preventing somebody from unnecessary hand washing is done in a very controlled way and OCD triggers can result from introspection, I've never heard of OCD having the kind of trigger likely to appear in an online article.

So anyway, I began to suspect that perhaps, no real authority had ever recommended that people identify their triggers and then devise strategies to avoid them. This was not a psychotherapy practice widespread enough for it to be the foundation of the online manners known as the 'trigger warning'

So I did the maximum amount of research I will ever do: I looked up trigger warning on 'Know your meme' you can see the results of my research here. Note that my research never extended to actually looking at 'Fuck Yeah Trigger Warnings' tumblr, the one mention in the know-your-meme page of 'necessity of trigger warnings. But as such, it does not appear that 'trigger warning' is indeed formally a form of manners (behavior necessary to maintaining civilized society especially in regard to treatment of strangers) so much as etiquette (behavior necessary to claim membership to an in-group). Etiquette is what gave us 14 forks and different glasses for drinking fortified wine vs. red or white wine vs. sparkling wine and every other different alcoholic beverage, and every other convoluted and expensive system for distinguishing the privileged elite from the unclean masses.

Authority is important as well, as a concept. Most people, like me, are terrible fact checkers. They base their decisions on impressions - I've seen people sign employment contracts in front of me that they haven't read. People go with the flow due to social pressure and perceptions of authority. It's why the government has to regulate that phone contracts are written in plane English and restricts how many pages they can be.

And to paint a subset of my friends with the one brush, there is a kind of people who use trigger warnings. I recently learned of the terms 'progressives' but I've never known a person to identify as one. To me it is a derogatory term, but I could believe somebody may self-identify, it's plausible. More recently I learned of the term 'social justice warrior' or sjw, which is clearly a derogatory term used by the kind of people that are derogatorily referred to as 'trolls' and also 'mras' (all links go to urban dictionary, because all the terms are pejorative and it is a friend of skepticism to see venom injected into what is meant to be a definition). I would not bet money that anybody would self identify as an sjw, except in an ironic sense, and I guess if somebody possessed both the behavioral traits that make somebody a sjw, while having the personal sense of security to own that term, they would be my favorite kind of sjw.

But mostly, in my world they remain nameless. And just because a term is pejorative or derogatory doesn't mean they aren't descriptive. There's some bedrock under the streams of venom. MRAs for example are bad actuaries, and progressives don't demonstrate epistemic humility. And that's why I don't like trigger warnings, because if my transcribe my personal prejudices, I feel most people in the world value intelligence, and the rest actually feel intelligent. And it's the somewhat intelligent people that value intelligence (perhaps because, they don't feel intelligent) that catch and spread a meme like trigger warnings.

My intuition, is that trigger warnings spread like George Costanza got the denizens of New York eating Donuts and candy with cutlery. I don't have the necessary engineering or physio qualifications to authoritatively say that using cutlery is a dumb way to eat a donut or snickers, but I'm confident that it is. But when George says 'how do you eat yours? with your hands?' with so much derision, that is him establishing etiquette, and though Seinfeld is a sit-com that in its latter seasons got increasingly ridiculous - George's malicious establishing of etiquette to serve his own needs is not so relevant as the ease with which the contagion spreads. People don't fact check in the episode, they simply see others doing it, and driven by their own aspirations adopt the practice themselves.

Similarly, if you use trigger warning primarily because you saw somebody you respect doing it, realise that's probably why they do it. And people who respect you may believe that it is the ethical thing to do, when it could, possibly be at best condescending and at worst counterproductive.

I feel strongly that the primary motivation to use 'trigger warnings' is to claim membership to a group, a community. Driven by an aspiration to stand among perceived intellectuals. It has little basis in fact as regards the intention, or how they are supposed to work.

Suppose they worked though? Have I got to the black cat yet?

I just can't respect the mind that believes setting down the path of creating an online social environment where trauma sufferers are condescendingly imagined to be frail little Lord Fontelroys of our extended social networks whom need to be protected from trigger content of articles people are posting -that people with that mindset are going to change the world for the better.

Because a trigger could be anything, anything could be in room 101 - even after you suspend your disbelief that the communist ideology that couldn't produce chocolate milk, could somehow satisfy the worst fears of any given member of their society - that takes enterprising capitalism baby.

I'm told, by a keynote presentation I cannot presently be bothered sourcing, that something anxious people have trouble doing, is thinking things through to their consequences. So the difference between me and my anxious friends is the difference between 'people are going to notice the mustard stain on my shirt, and then they are going to not care anymore.' and 'people are going to notice the mustard stain on my shirt!' In the same way, seeing a black cat cross my path can bum me out. I can get a feeling of foreboding and have to remind myself of Groucho Marx's views on the matter of black cats crossing paths.

Have those posting 'trigger warning' as pretext to articles where they actively and consciously control the stimulus they produce thought about how to apply this to every other (and hopefully the majority) aspects of their life. How for example to warn people that their cat can roam the streets while they are at work?

It is within the realm of plausibility that the sight of a black cat crossing their path could be a major trigger to some people, activating a panic attack or a depressive episode. Are we to extend our sensitivity to superstition? Eradicate the number 4 because it upsets the Chinese? Is someone that allows their black tabby to roam the streets being insensitive? Should ladder manufacturers make it physically impossible to walk under their wares? Should we start a kickstarter for a smart brolly that cannot be opened in doors? Should women be resolutely banned from playing the didgeridoo?

Triggers can be temporal too, a time of year - trigger warning - August?

More seriously what if someone's assailant wore yellow? Or reeked of Lynx Africa?

At no point do I want to trivialise how horrible activated states can be for those that suffer from debilitating conditions including PTSD, OCD (it's horrific), Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Major clinical depression etc. I just suspect that the people that actually do, for the most part dream of being able to freely interact with this chaotic world, to live a life where the smell of certain anti-perspirants do not send their body into remembering a major trauma - where physiologically they can experience the same detachment that they can rationally - not just their mind but their body knows that because the postman's uniform is yellow doesn't mean the assailant is here and that this is happening again.

Trivial or not though, the challenge before anybody with debilitating triggers is how to live in a world they can't control. My favorite soundbite of Angel Haze, comes at the end of her track 'Black Synagogue' where she says 'it takes something to say fuck it this is reality, and I'm going to deal with it.' I believe, although I have no proof, that the something the articulate Angel Haze can't put her finger on, is the something that people who recover have. I can't articulate that something either.

I will accept, indeed expect there to be dissenting views. For example there are people that identify as addicts that still in 2016 believe addiction to be a disease, or genetic. Despite no evidence to support these theories, the theories persist and were historically probably helpful in de-stigmatising addiction so that sufferers could seek treatment. Equally I could believe that despite a lack of evidence to support trigger warnings, and the presence of evidence to suggest they are counter-productive there will be people that resolutely believe in their necessity.

I don't, and I'm sufficiently confident to try and persuade you out of them.

Monday, August 08, 2016

On Brock Turner

I was called upon, not specifically but generally, as a man to pay attention to the Victim Impact Statement read out in the trial of 'The People Vs Brock Turner' and so I did. The first two instances or callings, came from male friends, and not ones that would easily be labelled or dismissed as 'progressives' or 'sjw' terms I have recently learned.

I read the Victim Impact Statement, and it is a good piece of prose, to my recollection it in itself called no general call to action. My feeling is that its power, lies in the fact that the victim kept focused in her mind while composing and delivering it, that her audience was one specific person - Brock Turner.

The statement itself, may well be, one of the great speeches of this era, certainly more memorable than anything President Obama has delivered, and he appears to be one of the few/only active politicians in the English speaking world capable of delivering a good speech. So this victim impact statement is one for the ages, but by an anonymous author because the very experiences that gave her the authority to compose and speak such words, are ones the author would never want to define her nor her place in history.

My presumption is that the 'call' my fellow male counterparts put out by sharing the statement was a call for us men to actually identify with Brock Turner, rather than like Brock Turner, avoid taking responsibility for our actions and seize any psychological opportunity to avoid being held to account.

I never presumed I was being called to add my voice to the specific injustice of the lenient sentencing Brock Turner received. The reason men needed to pay attention was for the general, rather than the specific.

And for what little it's worth, I have put some introspective effort into placing myself in the shoes of Brock Turner. That were I to possess the knowledge (assumed) that I was guilty of these crimes, were I to receive lenient sentencing it would be as the result of submitting a guilty plea. What is more difficult, is taking the inventory of my own character and to say that given how I feel about the US penitentiary system, including the sex-offenders registry - I would brace myself for the almost certainly destructive consequences of taking responsibility. I would expect no mercy.

Here, being Brock Turner's father is a harder exercise in perspective taking, on the one hand, much as I like to think that I would be able to sit in the police interview room alone with my son and say 'you fucking idiot, you've done this thing and you're going to take responsibility for it.' there I feel the genuine dilemma, of facing a justice system that appears capable of salvaging nothing and only making things worse for all. I do not have the experience of being a father so I cannot feel the bias nor need to defend the image I hold and the emotional investment I have in a son that I don't have. But would like to think I have the integrity that if the justice system will only make things worse in its punitive measures, then at the very least I would be able to tell my son that it was his responsibility to bear that cost, not the victim.

But it does pose for me an issue of reconciliation. Because outside of this case, this victim impact statement, I'm all about Norway's approach to penance. Which is to say, just about the only punitive measure to be taken is a restriction of freedom. The rest is actually a focused direction of energy on rehabilitation.

I am well aware that individuals like Brock Turner need to be interrupted. Psychology 101 is that the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Once you reveal yourself as capable of sexual assault (see the case details) some intervention is necessary if you are ever to enjoy the privilege of free passage through society again.

But honestly there's no part of me that feels that intervention should entail incarceration in an institution where a person is likely to be physically or sexually assaulted themselves, where the authority figures establish their authority not to be role models, but simply to be the ruling class within the facility - (ie. the prison staff are there to ensure you are not free, not to eclipse your fellow inmates as role models of civil conduct) nor do I see a program whereby you are forced and legally required to accept the identity of sex-offender somehow leading to a day where that person is going to be a low risk of recidivism.

To be honest, from the outside, and having watched enough of Louis Theroux's documentaries about life for American Sex Offenders (not to mention the Mr Show sketch 'Larry Kleist - Rapist') such a program is so restrictive and so hopeless (except tragically, for the hope of recidivism) that I see little point to registered sex offenders serving a jail sentence on top of being a registered sex offender.

Which is to say, if we were talking about the Norwegian Penal system, and a Judge sat me down and said 'okay you can serve 11 years in Norway's Maximum security facility, OR serve no time and be a registered sex-offender' losing 11 years of freedom would be less debilitating to my life (and society) than being a sex-offender under the US system. I must claim ignorance of whether Norway operates a similar sex-offender registry as the US. In short though, while I recognize a priority in protecting the innocent forms the basis of a sex-offender registry, it is also a program that I can see no possibility of rehabilitation or reform taking place, it is closer to the state simply washing its hands of undesirables.

My feeling is, that if there is any outrage to be felt over the specifics of Brock Turner's case, it is, that by the one account I have read - Brock Turner has failed to take responsibility for his actions. He also appears to live in a social environment where he is not seen as responsible, even a victim. And the Justice system has failed to get through to him that he is not a victim, with the sole exception of being a victim of his own actions. The onus is on society to actually communicate this to him, and to those who make up his social environment, and good as the victim impact statement is - based on what I have heard of the responding statements by father and friends - that message has yet to be received.

It should be acknowledged though, that here the issues of rape culture, the subset of campus rape culture, male privilege, white privilege etc. collide with all the issues of dysfunction with the US Justice system. That needs to be reconciled and what stands revealed is that not just Brock Turner, but any man has incentive to avoid taking responsibility when it also means taking with it the cruel and unusual punishments a US Justice is capable of sentencing a person to.

There was another reconciliation that I was curious about, and that was how the Brock Turner case would be reconciled in such close succession with the Orlando Shooting.

On the one hand, men were being called to own Brock Turner's case as a general issue affecting all men, however based on my past experience, the same category of people are quick to urge the same audience to not generalise concerning the actions of one Muslim to that of all people of the Islamic faith.

I do not feel any cognitive dissonance in this case, because I can apply the general rule of always identifying with and taking an inventory of any category I might share with any individual. I am not a fan of dismissing argument and debate as 'Islamaphobic' or 'racist' if you follow me. I believe there is no subject on earth that is not worthy of dissection and or ridicule, including my own core beliefs and values.

I was quite impressed with the reconciliation I percieved though, they went lowest common denominator. Both Brock Turner and the Orlando Shooter are men. This is the story that ran. It was brilliant, but useless.