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July 29, 2009

My First and Last Rule 5 Post

Before I finally turn the page on this whole stupid Erin Andrews thing, there are a few things I'd like to say.

It’s a waste of time to attempt to refute someone who continually puts words in your mouth, or imputes to you positions which reflect neither your values nor your arguments. If you want a debate, read what I’ve written and tell me why I’m wrong. I always enjoy a good argument on the merits.

But calling me silly names (and the idea that I’m a radical feminist is just that - silly) isn’t a rational argument. Neither is ignoring what I've written in favor of what you would like your readers to think I said. People who use such tactics aren’t making an argument. They’re engaging in a pissing contest. The thing about pissing contests is that the participants tend to get wet.

Over the past few weeks I’ve written two posts about the Erin Andrews story. In neither of them did I contend that Donald Douglas is a bad person. I did not ask anyone to chastise him or cast him out of the conservative fold. I didn't try to gin up a flame war.

I did try to confine my discussion to the ethics of exploiting nude videos of a woman who never consented to let thousands of total strangers gawp at her in the altogether. The consent thing: it matters. And once I'd said what I meant to say, I tried to let it go, aside from attempting to lighten the atmosphere when several people emailed to inform me that I'm a radical feminist with disturbed Victorian insecurities. :p

I wrote a long post last night about this whole thing, but I'm not going to post it. It won't resolve anything and will only justify more of this idiocy. I do want to mention two posts I missed while I was busy with work. Cynthia Yockey, a blogger I hadn't had the pleasure of reading before last night but who writes very well, has a few thoughts on the importance of traffic:

...about the time that I launched my Bea Arthur Rule 5 experiment, I noticed that large volumes of traffic do not necessarily translate into profitability for political opinion blogs. This was a watershed moment in blogging for me. I stopped writing expressly to get traffic. And I stopped trying to link lots of other blogs in order to get traffic. I decided that if blogging would not directly bring me money that I should write for the joy of expressing my opinion and interacting with the people who find me and enjoy my blog.

As I watched my nude Bea Arthur traffic in my Sitemeter, I noticed it primarily came from foreign countries. I doubt it brought me repeat visitors.

Then I had a couple of Instalanches to posts in my campaign to fire David Letterman. These occurred right after I installed the plug-in that appears after each post, which suggests to readers that if they liked the post, they could “Buy me a coffee.” Well, several of the Instalanche visitors DID buy me a coffee, which I really appreciated and which taught me an important lesson: the traffic MOST worth attracting is targeted to your product and/or service. Prof. Reynolds’ readers are mostly conservative or libertarian, so traffic from Instapundit is targeted to enjoy what I have to offer.

And while I was sitting in Beltway traffic yesterday morning, I learned that an old friend had chimed in with a few observations of his own:

I'd call your attention to July 23rd when I recorded just over 47,000 uniques - far from a site record, by the way. But it had nothing to do with Erin Andrews videos, or girlie pics, it was a substantive essay on Obama's burning down of his post-racial theme due to his rhetoric on Crowley-Gates.

As, I hope, it was a high-quality blog opinion post, it was linked far and wide (which puts you further out ahead link-rating-wise in any next Google Bomb race against some of the increasingly more insufferable, circle-jerking drones out here btw) and it all but amounted to Donald's week in just a single day. But they know all about building site traffic. Oh, yes, I see.

Despite a sneaking suspicion that a radical feminist should be outraged that a mere man presumed to come to my defense, I can't help but be grateful for the moral support. I do not expect my friends to agree with me. Often, my closest friends are the ones I disagree with most. I've disagreed with Dan on several occasions and he never takes it amiss. Opinions I disagree with are often the ones that make me think the hardest. It is in that spirit that I offer the following observations.

It takes a combination of talent, hard work, and savvy promotion to ascend to the top tier of the blogosphere. The things that will get you ahead are no great mystery - I read up on the subject back in 2004 and decided that traffic, in and of itself, wasn't why I do this. I could have done some or all of those things. But I didn't wish to. That's one reason I'm generally skeptical of arguments about the dearth of women at the upper echelons of the blatherosphere being prima facie evidence of sexism. Women, I have observed, often behave differently from men. Different choices, different results.

What disturbs me most is the argument that traffic is so important that it justifies pretty much any act. Over the past few months I've sat back and watched this argument percolate across the blogosphere in various forms: society is oversexed but sex sells; I'm not really sure this is such a great thing to do, but it boosts my traffic without much effort; blah blah blah.

And I've slowly watched sites I enjoy buy into this argument. I can only speak for myself here, but when I visit a site for politics I don't expect to see nude or nearly nude women. There are blogs that do little else, and that's why people go there. Certainly I understand that guys like looking at women, and many seem to be able to do so without doing and saying things they would never condone in the real world.

Or perhaps they wish they could talk in mixed company about how much they like to masturbate to photos of nude women, but feel restrained by those awful harpy rad-feministas who secretly orchestrate the actions of men via tornado remote control?

Oddly, when I was growing up there was nary a feminist in sight. And yet men did not act this way around women. I imagine they still liked looking at pretty ladies but they did not talk about women's bodies or post centerfolds in mixed company. The leading men in movies were generally polite and respectful towards women. And to think this was the Dark Ages. Who knew the vast majority of men of that era were secretly gay?

I am not offended by the sight of the female form. After all, that's what I look in the mirror every morning and see reflected back at me. And despite what I hear argued all the time, it's quite possible not to wish to have boobs shoved in one's face 24/7 and yet not feel particularly threatened by same. I don't wish to be confronted by a shirtless Adrian Paul either, titillating as that would no doubt be. I don't like loud hip hop music, but I'm not threatened by it. I just find the injection of hard to ignore sexual imagery into every facet of modern life irritating and distracting.

There's a reason I don't broadcast my morning shower out to the world via webcam (well, besides the cataclysmic grinding of tectonic plates that would no doubt ensue). I am just old fashioned enough to believe some of life's joys are more appropriately enjoyed in private. If I did wander into an area where such images were displayed in real life, I'd assume it was a "guys only" area - that women were not welcome there - and make my way quietly to the exit. And make no mistake: the Internet is a public place. You never know who is reading your site. For this reason, it would never occur to me to post photos of guys here at VC. Though some of my male readers might not mind, I suspect that would make other male readers distinctly uncomfortable.

I think every site owner has the absolute right to decide what content to post on their own site. Since they're posting it on a public medium created to encourage discussion, other bloggers ought to feel free to comment on that content if they wish to, or simply stay away if it makes them uncomfortable.

After a lot of thinking, I decided to stay away a few weeks ago. My decision - I don't expect it to influence anyone else. Still, it disturbs me that people are oddly hesitant to discuss things of this nature. In private they have all sorts of opinions, but no one wants to have their manhood questioned or be called a prude. There's a lot of ostensible "non-judgmentalism" that more closely resembles selective judgmentalism going around.

But how realistic is it to refuse to judge? Human beings make moral and aesthetic judgments all the time. We have to. The problem is when we decide someone is the enemy simply because they don't agree with us. We confuse judging the act with judging the person.

I think there's a fine line. If we can't listen to people who disagree with us, we rarely question our own assumptions. If we respond as though we've been scalded or betrayed when someone disagrees with us, we miss out on a lot in life. If we call each other names and insult each other rather than addressing the issues, only those who enjoy shouting will come forward. And they're not always the ones with something valuable to contribute. They're just louder.

Finally, it seems to me that if we truly believe we're in the right, it shouldn't bother us so much when others question our reasoning. So long as they don't substitute insults for arguments, our values ought to be able to stand up to close inspection.

But what do I know? After all, this is only one of a millions of opinions out there.

Posted by Cassandra at July 29, 2009 03:18 AM

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I haven't got a clue what Rule Five is. Nor, from the tenor of your post, do I have the overwhelming urge to dash right off and rectify that.

These days, the only overwhelming urges I get involve getting sand out of my boots...

Posted by: BillT at July 29, 2009 09:45 AM

But what do I know? After all, this is only one of a millions of opinions out there.

Yes, but it's the one I most look forward to hearing. And this post is an excellent example of why that is.

Posted by: Elise at July 29, 2009 10:40 AM

Very thoughtful post, Cassandra. I'm a little confused by Rule 5 myself. Maybe I'm a little old-fashioned myself, but I believe that modesty is a virtue, and that conservatives should be pushing virtue not hyper-sexuality.


Posted by: E.D. Kain at July 29, 2009 11:05 AM

Thank you for such a well-written post, putting into words my very thoughts about things I've lately been noticing that have been occurring at various political blogs I've enjoyed reading. I go to political blogs to read political opinion, not look at pics of nude or nearly nude women.

It bothers me, not least because I wonder ... "Has this person whose writing I've enjoyed in the past always been so juvenile? Why am I reading this blog, when the sensibilities of the owner of the blog and myself seem to be so clearly at odds?"

Its self-defeating, in my opinion, to be doing this anyway. (Of course, I'm probably not the demographic they're looking for). I usually spend time during my lunch hour at work to check out my favorite blogs. But now, I can't do that in fear that a nearly pornographic picture will appear on my screen. That's a dismissible offense, at least in my workplace. (It won't be long before some of these blogs won't be accessible to me anyway, because they'll get caught by the firewall due to content.) Also, if I see an article I enjoy, I can't send a link to it to many of my friends, because I don't want to offend them by linking to nudity.

Regarding something you touched on, all I can say is that a lot of what I consider to be rude behavior passes for the norm these days, especially things said and done in "mixed" company. It's disgusting, and pervasive. I love sex, but I don't appreciate, or enjoy, having it shoved in my face 24/7. I don't get guys who have to prove their manhood to other men by acting discourteously among women, or prove their male bona fides to other males by engaging in teenage t&a talk. I especially don't get the idea that men who don't engage in these behaviors must be gay. Quite the opposite I think.

Posted by: steph at July 29, 2009 11:17 AM

So many other opinions writhing away on the intertubes-collective are little more than so much noise riding the signal. Not so with your thoughts and your opinions.

Or what Elise said.

And I'd never heard of rule 5 until this brouhaha, no relation to Don, flashed by.

FWIW, I agree with your take on this affair. Hopefully that will not diminish my standing in your view... =8^}

Some of us might be surviving, knuckle-dragging, Neanderthals. But that only means we are from a time when respectful, courteous behavior was not only expected, but willingly offered to others as a matter of course. Until the other proved to be unworthy.

A time when you were free to question my manhood for not indulging in a sophomoric stunt. And as often as not, and given the stature of anyone who would pose that question from such an immature and boorish position, it might merit a laugh, a lecture on right versus wrong, or be ignored altogether. Neither I nor most men that I know need validation from anyone else to know our worth or to quantify our sense of manliness.

But then again, such prodding from a hyena might require a more direct answer. Fortunately the South is a good place to live if your personal code includes a chapter on fighting words.

Yeah, back in the Dark Ages, the personal code of a man defined those who would participate in the unlawful, not to mention unethical, and IMHO, uncivil exposure of personal information, as being devoid of honor. As such they were not worthy of being called gentlemen -not to be confused with gentle men. Some things were understood to be of a personal and private nature.
Bonus question: Given the state of our civilization can such conduct still be called uncivil?

Ah well, things are so much better now that we are living in this new age of enlightenment, huh?

No Cass, I do not envy you the aggravation you encounter when you apply consistent principle to a person's actions, regardless of who they are. But for now, rest well and dream of large Uni... ah, never mind... =%^}

Posted by: bthun at July 29, 2009 11:47 AM

"But what do I know? After all, this is only one of a millions of opinions out there."

There are million, nay Billions! (sound like Carl Cosmos?) of people out there in this world, but your opinion and values matter a great deal to me.

The world and the Internet are growing dark, and there is no way that we poor sinners are going to rectify it. There is no magic blog post, or idea, or New Renaissance that is going to magically appear over the horizon that is going to fix it for us. It is up to us to stand in the ill wind that is blowing our way.

Cass, you would be insane not to be repelled by the ugliness of it all; but this is the shape of things to come.
As was said at the beginning of WWI, "The lights are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our lifetime."

The spreading cultural darkness and doom is "turning out the lights" all over the blogosphere, and the Mass Media in general. It's like a cultural "neutron bomb". All the structures, houses, roads; everything visible to the naked eye will still be there. But the people will be dead inside.

Erin Andrews, Sarah Palin, and many others are just speed bumps along the road as the culture goes jauntily towards its doom.

Vaya con Dios.

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at July 29, 2009 12:46 PM

I read my RSS feeds while my children are walking around in the room. I'm not going to read any blog that puts up images that I couldn't have on my screen in front of them.

They're also going to miss the traffic of anyone who reads at work, during lunch or whatever, because people do not want to be caught with that on their system.

And it doesn't take a feminist to say it's not something they should do -- gentlemen don't do that in front of ladies. Perhaps they think that politics should solely be the domain of men, but if they think that, they're pretty much setting themselves up for failure.

(And seriously -- you get traffic by posting things that any guy who can spell "google" could find for himself?)

Posted by: silvermine at July 29, 2009 12:48 PM

Given the state of our civilization can such conduct still be called uncivil?

It certainly can and will be called uncivil. Which begs the question as to whether or not our culture has reached the crisis point in defining who we are and what we value. The devaluation of our fellow citizens was on slow boil during the Bush years under the heading of Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS). The lid came off during the campaign with Obama when he and Michelle tipped their hand on numerous occasions that were largely unreported by the national media. They do not share our values!

We now have Palin Derangement Syndrome (PDS) as the far left plays whack-a-mole with every civiized representative of what makes our society great. Cassandra's site is a welcome oasis in a landscape denuded (pun intended) of ethics, values, and morals. What seperates sites such as this from the rabble is the self-deprecating humor that is the hallmark of the true intellectual.

Having just suffered through a visit with relatives from Eugene, OR., I understand the debillitating effects of dealing with folks who exist in an echo chamber of intellectual poseurs living on the dole. When they are disagreed with or not worshipped for the sheer brilliance of their inanity they airily dismiss the offender with charges of racism, stupidity, and appalling ignorance.

The battle lines are drawn. Do we accept uncivilized behavior or do we do something about it? I just listened to the most recent victim of these types of attacks by the lady who made the good-faith 9/11 call. She immediately brought down on herself the most outrageous character attacks and death threats from the soft-despotic spawn of our current POTUS.

This is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. The tide is turning and I would encourage Cassandra to define/redefine Bea Arthur and rule 5? as the rallying cry against these purveyors of hate. I would say to Gates, the arugala snarfing grandee of a failing Hahrvard "No beer for you!" He and his ilk, not elk, are hereby on notice. At least that is what Golden Girls, Bea Arthur would have said.

Posted by: vet66 at July 29, 2009 12:52 PM

This entire "Erin Andrews nude" episode is like one of those wacky hypotheticals that a college sophomore proposes in a dorm-room debate, after about the third or fourth bong hit: A bizarre or possibly even nightmarish scenario that is amusing to contemplate simply because it's never going to happen.

Except this time, it actually did.

As I've said offline, this is one of those things that bloggers discuss over beers for years to come. If blogger-over-beer were the Oxford Union, the debate proposition would sometimes have to be: "Resolved: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?"

Posted by: Robert Stacy McCain at July 29, 2009 02:47 PM

Except this time, it actually did.

Maybe it's the parent in me, but I think incidents like this are pretty predictable when there are no boundaries. And part of the lure of the Internet is being able to so things we'd never do in real life. Unfortunately, human nature doesn't change just because we're online.

I just wish I knew how to make it stop. Making a cooling off period will help.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 29, 2009 03:26 PM

You al*ready* da coolest, Cass...

Posted by: BillT at July 29, 2009 03:47 PM

Chill. That's me :p

Or whack. Or something to that effect...

Posted by: Cassandra at July 29, 2009 04:06 PM

FWIW, thanks for the comments, guys.

I was pretty down this morning. You all are the best.

Posted by: Cassandra at July 29, 2009 04:08 PM

So, that should say *what* about the place we come to for education, edification, and elucidation, hmmmmmmmmm?

Posted by: BillT at July 29, 2009 04:28 PM

I would've said something earlier, but I have nothing of substance to contribute other than to point out the obvious: You're awesome, Cassandra! :) As always, you're what I wanna be when I grow up. :P

Posted by: FbL at July 29, 2009 05:15 PM

Desperately reaching into my bag of tricks....all I can come up with is my 'Duncan" mask....

Posted by: vet66 at July 29, 2009 07:31 PM

"And yet men did not act this way around women. I imagine they still liked looking at pretty ladies but they did not talk about women's bodies or post centerfolds in mixed company. The leading men in movies were generally polite and respectful towards women. And to think this was the Dark Ages. Who knew the vast majority of men of that era were secretly gay?"

Bravo Cassandra,
I am one old school decidedly alpha male that agrees with this sentiment entirely. A man can admire women for all of their endearing attributes, both physical and otherwise, without being crass and discussing them publicly; especially so in mixed company...

I grew up in an era, and regional culture, where it was understood that a genleman didn't kiss, or whatever, and tell. Nor did he fantasize about such-not even with his closest buddies.

Believe me, as a former Naval aviator (Tomcat pilot-a notorious lot!), I got a great deal of good-natured ribbing about this back in the day. But none of my squadron mates had any less respect for me over this belief.

I'm glad to hear that at this time, where seemingly anything goes, there are still those out there that share the values of discretion and decorum.

Your essay was delightful; you write beautifully
best Wishes to you and yours

Posted by: Bob Reed at July 29, 2009 07:32 PM

Lots of good common sense in this post, Cassandra.

And I have never thought of you as a "radical" feminist. Just a modern, free woman.

Posted by: Stogie at July 30, 2009 12:46 AM

Cass, I don't think you will ever make it stop, because change is what the individual has to do.

I try to behave online; just recently a young friend put up a really offensive pic on his facebook page; well, it ran into mine and I hid it and then blocked him. While I do have a care for those who would see that image on my page and the usual associations, that wasn't the reason I blocked him. At some point, people have to grow up and be responsible and accountable.

Will I unblock him? No. Will he care? Probably not. But it will let him know that there are people out there who do have a standard that they live by and are not afraid to step up, so to speak.

You are courageous, my dear. Very much so. I admire it, respect it, and when I read what you have to say, I find myself thinking when faced with something similar. You are a good influence, whether you realize it or not.

Posted by: Cricket at July 30, 2009 01:50 AM

Nancy Armstrong
MisPlaceDemocrat Passed away Nancy organized Tea Parties in Wichita and
appeared on Glenn Beck she was a 13 Year Navy Veteran. I am really
going to miss her. I included video she was a wonderful American Patriot.


Posted by: Ree at July 30, 2009 11:21 AM

When I was a kid (shut up in back, grandpa's buddy is talking) men liked looking. They talked quietly about what they saw to other men, sometimes, and they were embarrassed to be caught doing so by children or women. Since then there have been a bunch of little changes in society, some good, some bad, most [wiggles hand.] One of the worst, though, is that most people no longer seem to be ashamed of wrong conduct, and a good many seem to revel in it. What used to be "wrong" is now ordinary, and hence (at least in their eyes, it seems) no longer wrong. Hopefully the pendulum will swing back, going not quite so far into the rigidity ... but I fear it may just keep going into the muck.

Rule five? [googles] Oh. Well, yes, here comes the muck.

Write, or not, (or rather, write, even if you don't blog, you have a real gift); I'll be happy to read and think about what you have to say.

Posted by: htom at July 30, 2009 01:33 PM

Rule 5? I'm guessing it's not something I should be concerned with.

Doing "whatever it takes" to generate traffic sounds a lot like whoring oneself to me...but what do I know, I'm a secretly gay prude. So secret, in fact, that I'm still totally unaware of it myself. ;-)

Anyway, that nonsense notwithstanding, traffic at my blog is nearly non-existent...

Posted by: camojack at July 31, 2009 01:29 AM

...traffic at my blog is nearly non-existent...

Yeah, but you get *quality* hits.

Posted by: BillT at July 31, 2009 12:49 PM

"Quality hits"

Anybody notice the MSM has put "TGWOT, Afghanistan Edition" on the back burner? In fact, I don't think it is even on the stove for them. Going from X to 0 read-Bush to Obama, how long can these numbnuts ignore the obvious? Namely, BHO is sitting on his own version of a quagmire.

How long before this becomes an issue and why aren't we talking about it here stateside? The Brits are losing their enthusiasm for the effort due in most part to the insulting behavior of BHO towards them. Next in line is Israel who have been informed in no uncertain terms that not only are they on their own but POTUS is actively weakening their ability to defend themselves.

I think one of the major reasons for the 2009 Apology Tour is the mistaken belief that foreign governments will take the cumbaya bait and leave him alone. BHO, who has replaced Kabuki with Rahm's ballet expertise, hoped to focus on his domestic agenda free of pesky foreign intrusions.

This administration is falling apart like a cheap suit or a clunker auto the smart money is trying to unload. That Churchill bust returned to the Brits is going to be a costly mistake. What's next, Al Franken as Secretary of State?

Posted by: vet66 at August 1, 2009 11:02 AM

No offense meant, but I never got past Rule Two without totally screwing up.

Posted by: spd rdr at August 1, 2009 02:11 PM

Well mr rdr, you are way ahead of me - I don't even know what Rule 2 is :)

Posted by: Cassandra at August 1, 2009 06:01 PM

...traffic at my blog is nearly non-existent...
Yeah, but you get *quality* hits.
Posted by: BillT at July 31, 2009 12:49 PM

Apparently so...from Kirkuk, Iraq no less. ;-)

Posted by: camojack at August 1, 2009 08:54 PM

I'll grab any excuse to look at the water...

Posted by: BillT at August 2, 2009 12:14 AM

I think people think I'm a prude. I don't generally talk about private things in a public setting. There is such a thing as TMI. I don't need to know about other people's sex lives. I don't appreciate crude jokes.

Someone my sisters know (and I am also acquainted with) is hung up on an ex-boyfriend. He lives in another town. My sisters know and are friends with this ex. Last weekend, my sisters went to visit this friend. The ex-girlfriend also went down there that weekend. While she tried to keep it on the DL, everyone knows she hooked up with her ex (who is dating another woman). She is apparently proud of being "the other woman", and her morning-after "walk of shame". I would be mortified if anyone thought of me what the same as what she has willingly done.

As I said, I'm a private person. As many of you know, I'm working on losing weight. As part of this process, I've taken those embarrassing "bra & panties" photos so I can have a visual record of my progress. My best friend, who lives in another state, asked if I would share them with her. I told her "no". No one sees those but me. Once those images leave my computer, were I to send them, I open myself up for something to happen to them (not that my friend would do anything inappropriate). I'm not willing to take that chance.

When people start talking about their sex lives, I tend to keep my mouth shut. As many of the regulars around here have probably figured out, I wouldn't have anything to add to those conversations anyway. But, there are those who would make me out to be some sort of freak because of my experience - or should I say lack thereof. I think it is shameful that we have become a society that someone who won't engage in sexual activity outside of marriage is deemed to have something wrong with them, and those who have many sexual exploits are celebrated...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 2, 2009 01:35 AM

Miss Ladybug:

I agree with you.

As I've said before, sex is a part of life. It is not all of life. To put it in the driver's seat (or to claim you are 'helpless' to resist your sexual urges because 'that's the way I'm wired') is total bunk.

Men - often those with powerful sex drives - are perfectly capable of doing without sex for long periods of time and in fact, have chosen to do so in order to boost their concentration in other areas of their lives.

I like sex a lot, but I've also been capable of functioning for long periods of time without it. Unlike what I read about other women, I think about it all the time but not in a way that "drives" me to act upon those thoughts. To me they're no different than when you drive by a restaurant and detect wonderfully enticing aromas. Do you immediately stop your car and gorge yourself just because you're "wired" to enjoy eating, or that eating is necessary for survival?

Of course not.

Eating is just one of those things which competes for your time and attention. Hunger is a powerful drive and eating can give us intense pleasure. But like all appetites, people are usually best off when it is balanced with other activities.

On the images, you are very smart.

One of the most disturbing things I've seen lately is how many women are dumb enough to allow men to photograph or film them naked or during sex. And then these same men post those images online, either because the woman broke up with or displeased them, or in some kind of bizarre bragging ritual that I will never understand.

The sad thing is that these women probably thought they were giving their boyfriend or husband something he "needed". And that trust was abused. As far as what people choose to do in the privacy of their homes, I'm pretty non-judgmental.

But increasingly, being online is blurring our natural understanding of cause and effect. It's far too easy to see other people as things, and to deceive ourselves that, in pleasing ourselves, no one else is being hurt.

Of course if you are unable to put yourself in someone else's place, the illusion that "no one" is being hurt is easy to preserve. "No one" *is* being hurt.

No one who matters, that is.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 2, 2009 07:43 AM

To me they're no different than when you drive by a restaurant and detect wonderfully enticing aromas. Do you immediately stop your car and gorge yourself just because you're "wired" to enjoy eating, or that eating is necessary for survival?

Of course not.

Hey, speak for yourself!

More seriously, with regard to Miss Ladybug's point that:

it is shameful that we have become a society that someone who won't engage in sexual activity outside of marriage is deemed to have something wrong with them

Sometime back in the 90s I was in a grocery store with a good friend of mine - a woman - during the time when some soap opera star (I don't remember which one) had become engaged to someone who was famous for something else (John Tish? does that sound right?). Anyhow both of them were (are) religious and had made it clear that they were not indulging in the pleasures of the marriage bed until after they were wed. Of course, People magazine had a huge cover with their pictures and a headline something like, "Happy couple explains why they're waiting for their wedding night".

My friend was quite put off. That, she said, was more information than she needed. Sure, if they wanted to wait, that was their decision but they should have the decency to keep it to themselves. I cracked up. When I finished laughing I pointed out to her that that is exactly what people were saying 20 years earlier in response to celebrities announcing they *didn't* see any reason to wait until they were married - or even to get married at all.

For some reason my friend didn't think that was funny at all.

Posted by: Elise at August 2, 2009 10:26 AM

Ayn Rand (aka Alice Rosenbaum), "notorious" Russian emigre' novelist and philopher (hey, you can look it up!), once said that the progression of civilization was toward more privacy and protection of the personal life.
Barbarism, is of course, just the opposite.

We live in an age of technological barbarism, where the ability to instantly communicate and transmit personal ideas and images (Youtube, Facebook, MySpace, etc) in personal sites and blogs, can then be further amplified by the popular (or vulgar) mass Media/public news organs.

Once any personal information is anywhere on the Intertubes, it is only a few clicks away from being broadcast to the world. Miss Ladybug, you are prudent and wise.
Some civilization we have, huh?

Frank Herbert once said in "Dune" (speaking as Paul Atreides) that the power to destroy something is the power to control it. Thus, I postulate that the power to destroy our civilization (such as it is) is the power to control it. The power to destroy it is, in part, the power to personally compromise or destroy ANYBODY to reduce or remove them from any impact in the public life.

Does this begin to sound familiar?
I am also thinkging of Jack Ryan, who was the Republican Senatorial candidate running in Illinois in 2004 against someone we now acknowledge as President, whose "sealed" divorce proceedings were somehow leaked to the public, destroying his candidacy. How could that have happened?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at August 2, 2009 10:42 AM

Continuing with the pop culture theme, 'Sneakers' was also about controlling the information. Of course, Robert Redford's character was too high-minded to use the information, but had no qualms about stealing information to steal money to donate to the Democratic National Committee.

It is about the information and how it can be used to structure society.

Posted by: Cricket at August 2, 2009 12:10 PM

Of course if you are unable to put yourself in someone else's place, the illusion that "no one" is being hurt is easy to preserve.

If you are unable to put yourself in someone else's place, you are a borderline (at minimum) sociopath.

Posted by: BillT at August 2, 2009 12:10 PM

Miss L, that was the reason I blocked this young friend. I had written him a note before I blocked him, explaining why his behavior was irresponsible. I don't even like seeing the ads, regardless of the authorization. A before-and-after fully clothed pic is okay.

Posted by: Cricket at August 2, 2009 12:14 PM

"Once any personal information is anywhere on the Intertubes, it is only a few clicks away from being broadcast to the world. Miss Ladybug, you are prudent and wise. Some civilization we have, huh?"
I agree with Don's pronouncement of wisdom on your part Miss LB.

Now why am I thinking of Asimov's Foundation trilogy? Barbarian technocrats maybe. I've not read those tales in, oh, maybe 40 years.

"Of course if you are unable to put yourself in someone else's place, the illusion that "no one" is being hurt is easy to preserve.

If you are unable to put yourself in someone else's place, you are a borderline (at minimum) sociopath.

My thoughts zactly. And in that vein, I can't help but wonder if our culture produces a larger percentage of sociopaths than would have naturally occurred in previous centuries. Or maybe the percentage remains fairly constant but the absolute number grows along with the larger populations... Hmmmm.

Posted by: bthun at August 2, 2009 01:42 PM

We also have an epidemic of underage girls taking comprising photos of themselves and voluntarily sending them to other people... That is how much society has been sexualized, that girls seem to think that this is what they should be doing... They may come to regret what they have done, but how much damage was done to teach them that lesson?

Even once I reach my goal weight and am not embarrassed by my appearance, I don't think I'll ever be comfortable showing it off. My sisters - much younger than me - don't have a problem showing skin (not that they dress like floozies). Although we share the same parents, they didn't grow up in the same household. I grew up pre-cable, and many of those years TV viewing was limited to a single AFN station. My sisters grew up with cable. I grew up with a stay-at-home mom. My sisters grew up with a working mom after my dad's retirement from the army when he was going to school. They are more a product of this changed society. They like to give me crap about me being how I am. They don't seem to understand I don't care to make a spectacle of myself, especially in public.

I just wish I had an easier time of being able to be myself, be able to find someone who will appreciate me for me, and doesn't expect some artificial person trying to be what "society" expected them to be... I just wish I knew where to find someone like that. And I'm tried of people telling me that it will happen, to be patient. At this point, that is very hard to believe anymore...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 2, 2009 03:14 PM

They like to give me crap about me being how I am. They don't seem to understand I don't care to make a spectacle of myself, especially in public.

Don't worry, Miss L -- they'll grow out of that.

And I'm tried of people telling me that it will happen, to be patient.

I'm not going to tell you that. But I *will* say that KtLW was of an age that she'd already resigned herself to being the single sibling who would be taking care of her aging parents -- then I came shambling along.

Okay, okay, bad example, but an example, nonetheless...

Posted by: BillT at August 3, 2009 01:04 AM

...in that vein, I can't help but wonder if our culture produces a larger percentage of sociopaths than would have naturally occurred in previous centuries. Or maybe the percentage remains fairly constant but the absolute number grows along with the larger populations

I wonder if both things are going on?

First, the Internet increases the number of people you're exposed to, so you encounter a larger number of rude ones.

And secondly, I wonder if some of this isn't a function of "crowding"? I've noticed that people tend to be more considerate in small towns or less crowded venues. They're more likely to make eye contact or say "hi" if they pass you on the sidewalk, whereas in the city you quickly learn to shield yourself from potentially unwanted contact b/c the number of strangers is just so much greater.

That's true on the Internet too, and it's aggravated by the lack of real world consequences that attach to our actions. It becomes easier to forget there are real people out there reading and to justify pretty much anything you do.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 3, 2009 09:33 AM

A third phenomenon is self-selection. I've often thought that the Internet acts like a funnel, attracting groups of people interested in the same things.

So it's also easy to forget there are a lot of people who don't share your sensibilities. Since they're less likely to speak up when they're in the minority, we behave as though they weren't there.

Posted by: Cassandra at August 3, 2009 09:35 AM

Maybe it's a little worse of me right now than it has been at other times. My older brother, who my sisters and I had decided would never settle down, thought still not married, lives with his girlfriend and their daughter will turn 1 year old just over 2 weeks. The older of my two (much younger) sisters is engaged to be married in a little over 3 months to a man 6 months my junior. My youngest sister has been dating the same man (8 years her senior, making him 7 years my junior) for just over a year now. Me? We won't talk about the last time I had a date...

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 3, 2009 01:06 PM

I know it won't make the sting go away, but, based on what you've said here and at the Castle, I believe that you're still four years younger than KtLW was when we met.

And they must grow some *dense* men down in Texas...

Posted by: BillT at August 3, 2009 02:08 PM

I've not been in Texas the whole time. Graduated HS in Germany, went to college in Texas, moved to AR June '96, returned to Texas in December '04. Still, I don't know what the problem is (beside the fact that I've been overweight for ages, and I'm working on that).

Posted by: Miss Ladybug at August 3, 2009 02:55 PM

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