Wednesday, February 17, 2016

An Odd Statute

Nevada State Capitol Building by Prayitno is licensed CC BY 2.0.
At work, I've been reading through various statutes and requirements to finally identify, once and for all, what we're required to do, IT-wise, in terms of data retention, security, and so forth. This week's reading has been on the State of Nevada's requirements, which has meant browsing through the Nevada Law Library, starting with the Nevada Revised Statutes. While doing so, however, I stumbled across NRS 269.563:
      NRS 269.563  Formation of town in area that contains no residents in county whose population is 700,000 or more.
      1.  The board of county commissioners of a county whose population is 700,000 or more may provide by ordinance for the formation of an unincorporated town in an area that contains no residents if all of the owners of land within the boundaries of the proposed unincorporated town so request in writing. The written request of the owners must include the statement that the owners consent to be taxed for the services to be listed in the ordinance. If any owner withdraws his or her consent before adoption of the ordinance creating the unincorporated town, the owner’s property must be excluded in fixing the boundaries of the town.
      2.  The ordinance must contain clear designation of the boundaries of the unincorporated town and the boundaries of any area which may be annexed into the unincorporated town, a listing of services to be provided, the number of members to serve on the town advisory board and the conditions that must be satisfied before appointment of the first town advisory board. These conditions may include, without limitation, the number of residents, the level of services being provided and the extent of improvements in place.
      (Added to NRS by 1995, 2177; A 2011, 1166)
Interestingly, the original 1995 draft had originally limited the statute's applicability to counties with whose population is 400,000 or more; 2010's census, however, revealed there were two such counties, so the limit was adjusted upward.

What gives? Why would anyone want to create a town with no residents? And why would such a construct be limited to Clark County?

The answer has a lot to do with Clark County's notoriously hostile relationship with Las Vegas and its reliance on unincorporated townships. CGP Grey's video is as good of start as any - long story short, there's always been a tense relationship between Clark County's government and the governments of the cities within Clark County due to competing tax rates, provision of public services, and so forth. In 1995, a new subdivision was being created - one that was going to explicitly cater to wealthier homeowners. Trouble was, it hadn't been created yet; no roads had been paved and no houses had been built. So, the question became, who would end up providing this new subdivision public services and, in return, collecting tax revenues from its potentially affluent property owners? The developers - the Howard Hughes corporation - didn't want Las Vegas to annex the development; doing so would subject new property owners to higher city property taxes, instead of the significantly lower property taxes enjoyed in unincorporated Clark County. Similarly, Clark County didn't want Las Vegas to annex the development, either, since the development, if it attracted as affluent of a clientele as it desired, would undoubtedly provide quite a bit of tax revenue.

That wasn't all, though.

From the minutes of the Senate session that led to the passage of SB 556 in 1995:
Mr. Mark Brown, Vice President, Howard Hughes Corporation, testified. He stated Howard Hughes Corporation supported S.B. 556. He said, over the past three years, Howard Hughes Corporation had worked with officials from Clark County to plan Summerlin-South and its master plan had recently been approved. He advised Howard Hughes Corporation would be at a major competitive disadvantage and its development of Summerlin-South could be slowed over the upcoming 18 month period if S.B. 556 did not pass. He declared Howard Hughes Corporation believed S.B. 556 was critical to the future development of Summerlin-South. 
Mr. Brown stated Howard Hughes Corporation anticipated the next housing boom in Las Vegas would occur at approximately the time the new resorts between Tropicana and Spring Mountain Road were completed and explained, "The southernly access to our property is critical to capturing and providing housing needs for those employees there."  He contended if Howard Hughes Corporation was prevented from moving forward with its development it would miss out on the next housing boom and, if that happened, it would cost the company tens of millions of dollars.  He urged the committee to support S.B. 556. 
Chairman Price asked whether the fact Summerlin-South did or did not become an incorporated town would make a difference in whether or not Howard Hughes Corporation developed Summerlin-South.  Mr. Brown replied in would.  He indicated Howard Hughes Corporation had drafted the first two sections of S.B. 556 more than a year earlier in order to request a technical change to the law which would allow an unincorporated township to be created without its having any residents.  He advised Howard Hughes Corporation did not foresee Clark County would take steps to assist in providing infrastructure and services to an entity which was not generating revenues. He asserted Howard Hughes Corporation could not afford to provide such infrastructure and services without the county's assistance.
In short, the Howard Hughes Corporation wanted to develop Summerlin-South and wanted to do it on Clark County's dime. By creating its own township, any tax revenue generated in Summerlin-South would go toward further development of Summerlin-South, regardless of whether anyone lived there to enjoy the benefits or not. 

This goes a long way toward explaining why NRS 269.563 was amended in 2011 and remained amended after Nevada's decennial legislative exercise of shifting population limits in Nevada statutes to reflect current county populations - Washoe County didn't want developers to put it on the hook for providing services to their developments before people moved in.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Recycling Content

Recycle Reduce Reuse by Kevin Dooley is licensed CC BY 2.0.
Been fighting off a cold for the past couple of weeks - took some antibiotics last week, which cured the sinus infection that hitched a ride on Rhinovirus Alpha and helped me feel better for a few days, then caught another cold a few days after that. 
Needless to say, I'm not amused.

So, while I suffer through yet another week of keeping the facial tissue industry singlehandedly in business, here's something I wrote recently for the LP Nevada blog - Trump's followers might not be racist:
I was at a gas station a couple days ago when I overheard the clerk talking with a customer about the last GOP debate. What caught my attention was that he was the first person I met that openly expressed support for Trump - most conservatives I've talked to can't stand the guy (he's not conservative enough for them), and most Libertarians are doing their level-best to contrast themselves from his xenophobia - so I naturally wanted to know more. Why, of all the candidates on that stage, did the gas station clerk favor Trump? 
"He's genuine. He speaks his mind." 
That he does. You have to give him credit - he's not parsing every sentence that comes out of his mouth through a series of focus groups or think tanks. That genuineness, that willingness and ability to say what's on his mind and damn the consequences, is actually one of the first things supporters consistently love about him. He's not beholden to campaign contributors - he's a billionaire, after all - he's not beholden to the GOP establishment, and he's not beholden to the media, which happily laps up his every absurd utterance like a kitten splashing around in a milk bowl. In short, whether you love him or hate him, he's different. Sure, a lot of what's on his mind is utter nonsense, but he's willing to share his mind with America and let us decide among ourselves which of his ideas have merit and which of his ideas belong in the rubbish heap of history. That's pretty rare among aspiring politicians these days, who, more often than not, would rather run every utterance past expensive political consultants, focus groups, polls, major donors, and so forth before they take even the shakiest of stands. 
Read the rest at the link.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Self-Driving Cars Need To Hurry Up

google car by Trevor is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
I recently came down with a moderately nasty sinus infection and had to go to urgent care to get diagnosed and get some antibiotics. Before I headed to urgent care, however, I had to choose from the following sub-optimal traveling options:
  • Have my wife drive me there, which would have required our son to be in the car with us. Since I wasn't sure if I had a sinus infection or the flu yet, this wasn't ideal.
  • Hire an Uber or taxi to take me there. I doubt the driver would have appreciated the company, no matter how well I tipped.
  • Call an ambulance. This was overkill and also prohibitively expensive.
  • Drive myself there with a mid-grade (100F) fever.
I opted for the latter option - thankfully, the fever wasn't serious enough to significantly affect my ability to drive safely and I live less than half a mile away from an urgent care facility. However, while driving there, it occurred to me that there were people sharing the road with me that might have been every bit as sick as I was - or even sicker. There could have been a single mother, sick with the flu, sharing a car (and air) with her healthy kid while she tried to get treatment. There could have been someone experiencing a stroke while driving down the road. There could have been someone with a much more serious fever - say, 103F or so - starting to hallucinate while driving down the freeway, or suddenly gripped by fevered paralysis. 

What would protect everyone? Self-driving cars.

Think about it. What if you were really sick - not quite sick enough to require someone to keep your vitals steady, but sick enough where you shouldn't drive (say, if you had dysentery or something), and you could just limp your way into your self-driving car and say, "Go to nearest Urgent Care." Then you could spend the trip focused on keeping warm and hydrated and know that you'll get to your destination safely without potentially losing lucidity and threatening everyone else on the road. The car could even make a loud noise when you got there so you could take a quick nap.

Unfortunately, California's decided to take the slow road on this.

I don't entirely blame California here - Google's cars have been somewhat accident-prone, and identifying who has liability in an accident is still an open question - but still, the sooner this technology takes off, the sooner we can stop worrying about DUIs, strokes, seizures, and other health issues affecting and endangering drivers.

Friday, December 11, 2015

In Defense of Creeps

Creeper by Thangaraj Kumaravel is licensed CC BY 2.0.
[Content warning: I'm going to stick to a generally cis-heteronormative perspective here because, frankly, that's the one I live in and I prefer to "write what I know". I'll try to keep it broad when and where I can, but I don't want to make blanket assumptions here if I can help it.]

A couple weeks ago, I turned my attention to "creeps" and why men defended them. In that article, I tried to make two basic points:
  1. There are good reasons why men might defend creeps, and it has a lot more to do with empathy toward those that are less romantically fortunate than anything else.
  2. Creeps don't deserve the empathy, especially those that lean hard on supposed "disabilities" as an excuse for their creepiness.
Those two basic points rested on a rather specific definition of "creep", however:
Creepiness occurs when someone demonstrates sexual intent while undermining or disregarding the recipient’s personal autonomy or consent.
Some comments, both here and elsewhere, convinced me I need to fine-tune this a bit. Before I do, though, I want to start by acknowledging that this is probably going to end up as a male-targeted version of this, via The Unit of Caring:
I think some fraction of the obnoxious people saying, 'but I just don’t find X people attractive!!!’ are trying and failing to articulate this: 
I have a really strong instinctive 'no stop telling me who to be attracted to and what it says about me’ reaction to the thing you’re saying. I feel like acknowledging 'yes my preferences cause harm to people’ is giving leverage to a pattern of thought where my sexuality gets distributed to people who deserve it. I feel like 'but I am not attracted to X people' has to be sufficient, has to be respected, for me to feel safe. I feel like 'well maybe you should question that’ is an open-ended obligation to improve my sexuality toward your ends.  
And so 'shut up and keep hurtful preferences to yourself’ doesn’t work, not if we want everyone to hear the message 'your sexuality isn’t something that gets distributed to the deserving. Your 'no’ is always good enough. Experiencing or not experiencing attraction does not make you a bad person, ever.'  
And yet. 
Preferences are culturally mediated! There are lots of people who would totally be attracted to trans people and to fat people and to disabled people and to every other constructed-as-undesirable category of people if they asked themselves about it! There are even more people who would be attracted to those groups if they hadn’t been raised saturated by media messages about what beauty is!  We should be angry about this! We should say things about this! 
…and when we do, people will hear 'your sexuality makes you a bad person, fix it, fix yourself’, and they respond 'but I’m just not attracted to Xs’, and they aren’t wrong either, and telling them to shut up is not as obvious or as necessary as it once seemed to me.  
I have no idea how to fix this.
A lot of the conversation I see surrounding "being creepy" strongly resembles this dynamic. On the one hand, we have a group of people saying, "Hey, people shouldn't feel comfortable following other people around and demanding sexual attention!" On the other hand, we have a group of people saying, "Hey, people shouldn't feel uncomfortable asking about mutual sexual attraction!" Then, just to add insult to injury, we have people behaving poorly on both sides of the argument - certain men openly defending something dangerously similar to the "50 nos and yes mean yes" school of thought, while certain women treat men who complain that it can be quite challenging to talk to women without unintentionally coming across as "creepy" as self-entitled jerks. Of course, it doesn't help that not everyone uses the same definition of "creepy". For a lot of people, "creepy" means "person I'm not attracted to", so when they see articles (like mine) that say, "Hey, stop being creepy!", what they read is, "Hey, stop being unattractive!", instead of, "Hey, stop demonstrating sexual intent while undermining or disregarding the recipient's personal autonomy or consent!"

This, needless to say, does not go well.

Which brings me back to the end of my last post on this subject:
Of course not. Creepy guys kill vibes. Nobody wants to be around Uncle Lou. Nobody wants to be Uncle Lou. If you see someone being an Uncle Lou, pull them aside and tell them to stop being an Uncle Lou. Tell them what they’re doing that’s Uncle Lou-ish. Make it clear that, if they persist in being an Uncle Lou, you’re either going to escort them out of whatever venue you’re both sharing or you’ll find someone who will. Make it clear that, from that moment going forward, if they don’t alter their behavior, you will name names. You will take pictures. If they can’t be a good example, then they’re just going to have to be a horrible warning. Don’t let them oppression olympics their way out of it, either - a truly neuroatypical person isn’t going to say, “Oh, sorry - I’m autistic. I can’t help it.” No, they’re going to apologize and they’re going to ask what they can do to avoid that sort of behavior in the future. If you get any other response, you’re not dealing with a neuroatypical person - you’re dealing with a manipulator.
This paragraph was, by far, the most contentious of the entire article. I got a little push-back regarding the numbers I used on sexual violence (intentionally so - I went for conservative, government sourced ones that probably understate matters considerably to demonstrate that, even using the official numbers, it makes rational sense for women to be concerned about creeps and their intentions), but nothing like I got on the part in red. The most consistent criticism was that, well, actually, neuroatypical people can be manipulators too, which, okay, fair enough, and that was that. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I needed to put some serious thought behind the ramifications of this. Let's assume for a moment that:
Given these assumptions, it's not a stretch to assume that, at some point, a neuroatypical person is going to engage in behaviors that seem legitimately "creepy", in the sense used in the definition I posted at the top, simply because they're not going to pick up the signals that say, "No, seriously, I'm not interested in you!" without actually saying exactly that. Then, when they finally get that forthright negative response they need to actually know that, no, really, that person isn't interested in them, and it's followed with, "you creep!", from their perspective they see it as someone using "creep" in the "You're unattractive!" sense, not the "You've been demonstrating sexual intent while undermining or disregarding my personal autonomy or consent!" sense that the person rejecting them meant it in. After all, from the neuroatypical standpoint, that's the first, last, and only sign of rejection they've perceived from that individual - why wouldn't they shrug when someone tells them to "stop being creepy" after that? If you briefly greeted a woman at a party and then some "well meaning gentleman" immediately approached you and told you to stop creeping everyone out, wouldn't you tune him out, too?

Thinking about this further, I also realize there's another group of men that are going to be in the same boat - younger men with zero experience with women who are dealing with women that don't know how to communicate rejection effectively because they have zero experience with men. Considering how many teenagers are firmly convinced, either through Hollywood or hormones (I haven't decided which - someone page a psychiatrist) that romance confers telepathy to both partners if it's "true love", it doesn't take a leap of imagination to think of a scenario where a young woman decides, "Well, I'm touching his shoulder, but not in that way, so he should know I'm just being polite and friendly" at the same time that a man thinks, "Wow! She's touching me! She must be interested!", which then leads to a correspondingly inevitable confrontation later that day that leads to a series of angsty blog articles shared across the MRA/Feminist banks of the Tumblrsphere. Then, we fast-forward a few weeks and the woman says something like
There’s another reason why I don’t like to go places alone — and it has nothing to do with my own failings. I’m afraid of being approached by men who want to chat me up, or ask me on a date. I don’t know how to reject them — the fact is, it doesn’t matter how polite I am, things can turn dangerous in a split second. 
"It’s awkward that they would put you in this sort of social position in the first place. I guess men feel it’s necessary because they tend to require more direct communication while women pick up more on feelings, social cues, etc. While we feel we’re making it obvious that we’re not interested or only want to be friends, men think that we are in fact interested and showing our interest."
So, what do we do about this? Feminists have a point - men can turn dangerous (or at least ill-tempered) in a split second if rejected. Obviously, this isn't true of all men, or perhaps even most men, but, as I discussed previously, even at a rate of 1 in 5,000 (a rather low estimate of the number of men that are rapists), there's a pretty good chance that a woman is sharing a public space with a rapist at some point in her life, and there are a lot of other unpleasant things men can do to a woman that don't involve rape or sexual assault. There is a simple, straightforward solution to this problem - encourage women to make the first approach, that way they're the ones in control of the situation - but then that would mean "women are doing all the work".

*rubs bridge of my nose while sighing audibly*

Ignoring society's failure to apply simple predicate logic for a second, though, let's be honest with ourselves - if women were encouraged to make approaches, it wouldn't solve the problem. As women will be happy to tell you, quite a few women aren't approached, and they're not happy about it. Realistically, the only guys that are going to consistently get approached are precisely the same women that are consistently approached - the top 20% (or less) most attractive guys in the bar. Everybody else is going to get filtered out as "background radiation" - they're neither handsome nor ugly enough to draw attention so they're never noticed. Since most of the "creepy" people women complain about aren't in that top 20%, they're still going to have to make approaches to get noticed, which is going to lead us right back here once again, especially as long as there's a large enough group of people out there that insist on using "creepy" as a synonym for "unattractive person".

What's the solution? I honestly don't know.

What I do know is that we can't simultaneously believe that men approach women because they think they're entitled to sex while we're simultaneously complaining that men won't approach women. We can't have a society where women are considered "desperate" if they approach at the same time we're telling men that they may approach if and only if they follow a very particular set of rules, especially when the first of those rules violates another set of rules. If we're lucky, that is the path to neo-Victorian flower exchanges, which might be useful for the descendants of Dutch tulip stock owners, but is less useful for those of us that would prefer courtship rituals to take less than a few years to complete while each side initiates the first few delicate feelers of interest through friends-of-friends in front of neutral intermediaries.

Quite a few of us, believe it or not, do not see Jane Austen novels as something worthy of emulation. Not even the ones with zombies.

So what do we do? Personally, I think we have to accept that some people are going to approach when they shouldn't, some people won't approach when they should, and there's not enough virtual ink on the Internet to keep that from happening. An opt-in "fuck yes or no" approach might help - if we taught everyone that, if you're not seeing clear, unambiguous signs of interest almost instantly, that's a "no", that would not only help those who are less adept at reading non-verbal social cues behave according to more sensible, less "creepy" defaults, but would also take a lot of the pressure off of women to make a clear, confrontational rejection - but that's not going to keep people from making potentially inappropriate approaches in the first place. It would also help if we could decide, once and for all, whether or not we should encourage women to make the first approach, or at least decide whether or not men are immature and worthless if they don't make that first approach. It would also help if every side of this issue realized that we all want the same thing, more or less - to be loved by people we love and to not be forced to cause pain to others. Rejection hurts on both sides - it's not fun - so if someone is rejecting you, it's because it's the least worst of the options available to them. If you don't want the sting of rejection to feel so sharp, don't force someone into slapping your face before you get a clue. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Odds and ends

Hey everyone - I have a few posts rummaging around in the background (including a follow-up to my last post), but until they're done, here are a couple things to tie everyone over:

I've been posting on the LP Nevada's blog lately:
The first post is a more serious look at an issue raised by Marc Randazza on Popehat, though, for the record, I didn't read his article before I posted mine, which is a shame since he made my point better than I did. Moving forward, though, there's a strong chance that most of my political blogging is going to end up on the LP Nevada blog unless I feel the need to be contrarian and chew certain libertarians a new one.

On a more tech-ish note, we're being encouraged at work to decorate our offices. Here's the Christmas tree I put up on our door:

Though it's not obvious, there are some hidden spaces in there - if you want to run this yourself, copy and paste the following:

SETLOCAL EnableDelayedExpansion
FOR /L %%G IN (1,1,10) DO (
SET _Str=*
FOR /L %%H IN (1,1,10) DO (
IF %%H LSS %%G (
SET _Str=*!_Str!*
) ELSE (
SET _Str= !_Str!

SET _Str=

FOR /L %%I IN (1,1,20) DO (
IF %%I GEQ 10 (
IF %%I LEQ 12 (
SET _Str=!_Str!=
) ELSE (
SET _Str=!_Str! 
) ELSE (
SET _Str=!_Str! 

Until next time...

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Why Do Men Defend Creeps?

Lone creeper by Quim Gil is licensed CC BY-SA 2.0
Fun fact: I’m an admin for a feminist forum. I’m not sure how it happened, exactly - my bet remains a drunken, drug-fueled dare at a Burning Man kick-off party somewhere in Southern California that I was hundreds of miles away from - but, be that as it may, I’ve been reading quite a bit of feminist content lately and attempting to approach it evenhandedly enough to execute my duties with a modicum of professionalism. One recurring topic that pops up from time to time is this:

Why do men defend creeps?

It’s a good question. Why are people asking it?


A common refrain among the feminist community, especially since the UCSB shooting a couple years ago (an incident I wrote about), is that “Men fear rejection, women fear rape”:

I’ve talked to several women through the years about this idea and received near-universal agreement about the sentiment behind it. To really understand this sentiment, though, it needs to be unpacked a bit further. Most “women fear rape” the same way that soldiers in Iraq were instructed to “be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet,” and for many of the same reasons. That advice was given to soldiers in Iraq because, while most Iraqis wouldn’t hurt American soldiers and were reasonably friendly and accommodating, all things considered, it only took one in a group to choose differently for everything to go sideways. It would only take one Iraqi to decide that perhaps today is a good day to die, strap some bombs to their body, and approach a convoy; one Iraqi to talk a child into stopping a convoy so that they can stage an ambush; one Iraqi to plant a roadside bomb. It might be one Iraqi in a hundred, it might be one Iraqi in a thousand - either way, it just takes one. The soldiers can’t know in advance which Iraqi it would be that would make that choice, so they had to assume, once they left their base, that it could be any Iraqi, at any time, that might make that choice - and they had to plan accordingly.

So it is with women and rape.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, for women between the ages of 18 to 24 in the United States, anywhere from 6.1 to 7.6 per 1,000 are a victim of sexual assault or rape. The vast majority of reported sexual assaults and rapes are committed by people close to the victim - family members, friends, or acquaintances - but it’s not so vast for women to write off strangers entirely. Using some rough arithmetic and estimation, given that up to 1 in 100 are a victim of reported sexual assault and rape, and given that 1 in 5 victims of sexual assault or rape are assaulted by people unfamiliar with them, that works out to about 1 in 500 women that are a victim of sexual assault or rape by a stranger. This is about the same probability of being diagnosed with Asperger’s, being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, dying from a foodborne illness, or being diagnosed with sickle cell anemia at birth if you’re Black. In other words, it’s not common, but it’s not uncommon. Since rapes have to be committed by someone - thus far, the number of rapes by inanimate objects remains low - we can safely assume that anywhere from 1 in 500 of the men surrounding each woman (assuming each women is raped by a different stranger) to, say, 1 in 5,000 men (assuming the serial rapist model) are potential rapists. Those aren’t high odds, but, if you live in a major metropolitan area, it’s highly possible that you’ll pass 5,000 different men over the course of a year.

Note that the 1 in 5,000 number is probably a safe lower bound - there’s considerable debate about whether or not sexual assault numbers are underreported or not and by how much, with the infamous “1 in 5” surveys taking center stage of the debate. Even at this low of a number, though, there’s a strong chance that, over the course of a year, a woman’s going to be in the same room as someone willing and capable of raping a stranger. It might be on the bus, it might be at a concert, it might be at a club, it might be in school, but it’s bound to happen sooner or later. So, how do women identify who might be capable of doing this before they are placed in danger?

Enter the creepy guy.

It’s important at this point to identify what “being creepy” is, exactly. A good definition that crossed my vision recently was this:
Creepiness occurs when someone demonstrates sexual intent while undermining or disregarding the recipient’s personal autonomy or consent.
Simply put, a person who’s willing to disregard someone’s personal autonomy or consent regarding sex - which, I’d argue, is the textbook definition of someone capable of being a rapist - is probably going to be alarmingly consistent about it. They’re going to be creepy. They’re not going to take no for an answer when they approach a woman online. They’re not going to respect personal privacy - maybe they’ll catcall, maybe they’ll touch someone that doesn’t want to be touched. They’ll make sexual advances against a captive audience, like someone sitting next to them on a long flight (like the person brought up in the article I pulled the definition of “creepy” from) or perhaps a long, late night elevator ride. Chances are, someone willing to do those things and cross those boundaries is much more likely to rape or sexually assault someone than someone that isn’t willing to engage in those behaviors. Naturally, people sense this intuitively and react accordingly.

And yet, some men defend creeps. Not all men, of course - there are quite a few outspoken critics of creep defending, like Dr. NerdLove, and John Scalzi - but it’s still more than a few. What’s going on?


It’s time to unpack the second half of that refrain: Men fear rejection.

To be clearer, most men don’t fear individual rejection - they fear rejection. Being rejected by someone that you’re attracted to isn’t fun - we’ve all been there - but being rejected by everybody is scary. Being viewed as “unfuckable” is scary. Being viewed as unworthy of sexual desire is scary. This is what men fear, and like anyone else, when men are facing this fear head-on - perhaps because they’ve been rejected by just about everybody they’ve approached, perhaps because they’ve talked themselves into seeing themselves as “unfuckable” - they react irrationally. If you’re afraid of spiders and you see one in the bathroom, right when you get out of the shower, you’re not going to capture it in your hand and bring it outside - you’re going to smash the shit out of it. You might even scream while you’re at it. Fear is the mindkiller, especially when you’re naked and dripping.

And just about every man on the planet has felt this exact fear at some point in their lives. Including me.

This might sound kind of strange, but when some men defend creeps, they’re doing so from a position of empathy. They remember that fear and, when they see a million women agree in unison that yes, this particular man, he’s creepy, he’s unfuckable, he’s unworthy of sexual desire - that hits a nerve. The adrenaline starts flowing, the flashbacks from failed awkward attempts at expressing desire growing up come back (remember, men are often still the ones expected to make the first approach), the laptop is right there - to the barricades! Defend our brothers in arms!


Want to know something else I learned from being an admin of a feminist forum? Men aren’t the only ones that fear rejection, that fear complete and utter desexualization. Imagine a man writing something like this:
It doesn’t help when there are, from within the feminist community, cries (often of the second wave “Male gaze!!! MALE GAZE!!!” timbre) of, “Well, why are you so obsessed with being sexy anyway? Is that all women can be? Sexy? It’s ok to be ugly! It’s ok to not be pretty!” 
Yes. Yes, of course it’s ok. The problem is that terms like “pretty” and “ugly” have been dropped on us, like rigid, rubric lead weights, without our having any say in what defines them. Being pretty isn’t the best thing a person can be, nor is ugly the worst. But who gets to decide what pretty is? Who gets to decide if I’m pretty? 
Isn’t pretty for me to define? 
But I want people to know that sexiness is not a privilege, saved for those who earn it. Sexiness is for anyone that wants it.
This is a piece written by a woman who’s stating, clearly and concisely, that, just because a person is conventionally sexually unattractive, that doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to see themselves as sexy. Everybody has the right to see themselves as sexy, as worthy of desire by someone - or, failing that, at least the right to see themselves as a human being. For men, being “creepy” is a big part of being seen as sexually unattractive - a big enough part, in fact, where I can't imagine a man writing that last sentence with any seriousness without an asbestos-lined monitor, a locked credit report, his cell phone number in his neighborhood SWAT team's speed dial, and frequent lodging points with his neighborhood's Witness Protection program.

Now imagine if someone responded to the article on sexual attractiveness with something similar to the following:
It is unfair. It’s okay that it’s unfair. You know why? Because whether someone likes you enough to want to be your friend, to want to hug you when they see you and let you into their personal space, wants to flirt with you, or wants to joke around with you about certain topics IS a subjective decision they get to make. If Commander Logic comes up to me and puts her arm around me, that’s a friendly bit of affection from a trusted friend. If Joe or Jane New Person sees that and thinks “that’s how Jennifer likes to be greeted” and does the same thing, they’re going to get to watch me jump out of my skin because: Bad Touch! I get to set different boundaries for different people. 
I feel like a lot of the people who are looking for a rubric on how to make sure they aren’t being creepy are the same people who are looking for a rubric on how to pick up dating partners. They want rules and steps that will guarantee a certain outcome, and they don’t like being told how much of it is subjective and totally out of their hands. But other people – the people you want to date, the people you want to be friends with – have their own tastes, opinions, likes, and dislikes. To imply that there is some kind of system that guarantees that other people will like you or to make it a question of fairness robs them of agency.
It’s unfair that you’re not considered pretty. It’s okay that it’s not unfair. Being seen as attractive and pretty IS a subjective decision that they get to make. Sorry.


Right about here is where every woman reading this develops a violent, sudden case of empathy. The adrenaline starts flowing, the flashbacks from not experiencing failed awkward attempts at expressing desire from that really cute guy (or girl) they were really into growing up come back (remember, women are often still the ones expected to wait for the first approach), the laptop is right there - to the barricades! Defend our sisters in arms!

Save your breath. I’m on your side, at least as much as I’m on anyone’s. Hang tight - we’re almost done. Then you can roast me to your heart’s content.


At this point, I want to be clear about a couple of things:

Men, it’s natural to put yourself in other people’s shoes, especially when you identify with them and their struggles, especially when you’re experiencing those struggles yourself. I understand the fear. I understand the pain. I’ve been there. I get it. I’ve been the awkward guy. If I lived in an area full of elevators in high school, I probably would’ve tried to ask a girl out in one, too, without thinking through the logistical and emotional ramifications of that. But here’s the thing - adult creepers take advantage of that empathy. Being a creeper isn’t the same thing as being physically unattractive, though there’s certainly a non-trivial overlap between those that are “being unattractive” and those whose behaviors are viewed as “being creepy” (to borrow from a particular SNL skit). There's little we can do about physical attractiveness - going to the gym and wearing better clothes won't make you taller, wealthier, or funnier - but we can do something about guys being creepy. The only way to make a creeper stop creeping is to call them out for being creepy - period, full stop. If you know what’s good for you, you will call them out on it, too.

Why? Because creeps ruin it for the rest of us.

Let’s say you’re a guy in mixed company, you see an attractive woman, and you want to get her attention. Do you think it’s going to be easier when there’s someone:

  • Touching her without her consent?
  • Making endless sexual innuendo the entire night?
  • Following them around everywhere?
  • Getting angry when she says no?
  • Trying to “score” with her and her friends as soon as any of them make eye contact with him?

Of course not. Creepy guys kill vibes. Nobody wants to be around Uncle Lou. Nobody wants to be Uncle Lou. If you see someone being an Uncle Lou, pull them aside and tell them to stop being an Uncle Lou. Tell them what they’re doing that’s Uncle Lou-ish. Make it clear that, if they persist in being an Uncle Lou, you’re either going to escort them out of whatever venue you’re both sharing or you’ll find someone who will. Make it clear that, from that moment going forward, if they don’t alter their behavior, you will name names. You will take pictures. If they can’t be a good example, then they’re just going to have to be a horrible warning. Don’t let them oppression olympics their way out of it, either - a truly neuroatypical person isn’t going to say, “Oh, sorry - I’m autistic. I can’t help it.” No, they’re going to apologize and they’re going to ask what they can do to avoid that sort of behavior in the future. If you get any other response, you’re not dealing with a neuroatypical person - you’re dealing with a manipulator.

Creepers are manipulators.

Remember that and treat them accordingly. Show no mercy. Save the empathy for those that deserve it. Do not let them manipulate your fears or your empathy to tell you otherwise.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Resolution: Declaring War against Christmas

The cup that launched a thousand tweets. (Starbucks)
Ladies, gentlemen, genderfluids and otherkin:

Yesterday, November 7, 2015 -- a date which will live in infamy -- the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by Twitter and other social media forces of the Empire of Christmas.

The United States was at peace with that holiday and, at the solicitation of various merchants, was still in conversation with its Elvin representatives and Santa Claus looking toward the maintenance of peace and plentiful gifts from the Arctic. Indeed, for two weeks after Starbucks baristas had commenced distributing plain red cups, the propaganda instruments for the Empire of Christmas lay silent. And while this silence did not implicitly state that it seemed trivial for Starbucks to cut printing costs by removing a few snowflakes and the like from some beverage containers, it contained no threat or hint of Culture War or of social media attack.

It will be recorded that the distance from the nearest Starbucks to immediate internet mob-fueled outrage makes it obvious that Planck length is not, in fact, the shortest measurable distance. Even so, the culture warrior allies of the Empire of Christmas deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued cultural peace.

The attack yesterday on social media has caused severe damage to American humor and journalistic integrity. I regret to inform you that very many American likes and shares have been lost. In addition, American sighs have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between Facebook and Instagram.

For decades the Empire of Christmas has claimed, time and again, that the American people have been at war with it. For decades both the people and the political leadership of America have routinely and without objection denied this claim.

Today that ends.

On our careful, wary watch, Christmas has annexed November, October, the Sudentenland, and part of September. Now Christmas demands Labor Day and the Free City of Danzig. For too long we have appeased this irredentist regime. For too long we told ourselves there would be peace in our time. America shall have no more of it. The line must be drawn here. We shall hold this ground.

I move that this blog welcomes the formation of a movement representing the united and inflexible resolve of the nation to prosecute the war with Christmas to a victorious conclusion.

We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long weeks of struggle and of suffering. You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by social, commercial and satirical, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalog of human attention deficit disorder driven clickbait. That is our policy. You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of slight annoyance, victory, however short and ephemeral the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival. Let that be realized; no survival for the pre-Christmas season, no survival for all that the refusal to wear red and green at the same time has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages to not gorge incessantly in the commercial spirit of Christmas, that humankind will move forward towards its goal. But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men, women, deis, magis, sagits, kyuus, toks, feys, firs, virs, xirs, thons, zirs, and other assorted otherkin. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, "come then, let us go forward together with our united strength, at least until something else distracts us five minutes from now."

So come then, let us go forward together! Together our boots shall march on the North Pole by December 25th - if not this one then the next, assuming we don't forget about this before then! Together, with solidarity, we shall rise up and defeat the Jolly Green & Red Menace!

For liberty! For fraternity! For equality!

Viva la revolution!