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Rant

It’s always funny to see what gets under your skin and what doesn’t. Probably I should know better than to read the comments under an article on Native Americans. The comment thread was under an article about the relationship between economic development and property rights on Native American reservations which is currently on the Atlantic website. The article brought up some interesting points, but was marred by an anti-government agenda which put the interesting points at the end of the article, after a bit of whining about social justice warriors. I actually agree with the author’s point that the matter of racist names for sports teams is trivial compared to the question of economic development. In fact, I was just ranting to my sister last week about people whose only interest in native issues is to tweet about sports teams’ names. It’s a classic case of virtue signalling. However, dwelling on the right/left pissing match distracted from some of the more potentially interesting parts of the article, for instance proposed legislation in Canada called “First Nations Property Ownership Act.”

Unlike what many people in the cultural mainstream expect, native issues don’t align neatly along a right-left or conservative-liberal axis. Also, many people in the mainstream who have not paid intense attention to native issues don’t understand either the history or the legal issues involved. When reading about native issues, I often find my own opinions torn due to competing goods.

Anyway, here’s a screen shot of the exchange that got me so mad:

Atlantic - Native American Property RightsAnyway, like I said, it made me really mad. It’s funny, because normally I’m highly uncomfortable with identity politics. Of course, I’m usually blissfully oblivious to the fact that this level of ignorance and hostility towards native people exists.

A bit of free association:

They dyed his hair and hid his feathers
And told him he was Latin
‘Til he came chanting down the street
Like a cannibal in Manhattan

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…and a little complaining about men.

I was looking up photos of clothing for another reason altogether when I came across a photo that reminded me of a Valentine’s Day nearly a decade ago.

The last time I had a date on Valentine’s Day, I was getting ready to go out. I had kicked off work early. Since I recall what I was doing at the time, that means this was about 2007. I had had a few dates with the guy already, but it had only been a couple of months, perhaps less, since we had first met. Since my birthday falls towards the end of the year, then comes Christmas, New Years and Valentine’s Day in quick succession, all days that men can’t stand because they’re afraid you’re going to hit them up for presents and expensive dinners, I usually assume if I’m single at the end of November I can dismiss the possibility of meeting anyone until March. So, I was quite surprised that someone actually contacted me on the dating site where I’d posted a profile a month or two earlier at the end of the previous relationship. I had been finding that men my own age were turning their noses up at me and was, at that time, trying out the philosophy “if you can’t beat them, join them,” and started dating men who were older. This man was thirteen years older than I was.

Being the kind of woman that would rather die than be accused of being a gold-digger, I’ve always pretended that days like Christmas and my birthday barely existed, I didn’t bring up the approaching holiday. A few days earlier, he phoned and asked if I had plans for Valentine’s Day. No, I did not. Would I like to meet for dinner? Yes, I would.

The past times that we got together, we met around seven. I decided to surprise him with a little role reversal and went to a specialty shop to buy him a box of fancy chocolates. I headed home and started to get dressed. Since it was Valentine’s Day, I wanted to make sure I looked, well, sexy. I had showered and was putting on my makeup dressed something like this:Woman in bra, tanga, garter belt and stockings.Somehow, I realized that he never told me a time or a place to meet. I phoned him. He answered and said he’d get back to me. About a half an hour went by. Needless to say, I slowed down a bit, but I continued to get dressed, more or less. I was thinking of calling again when the phone rang. He said he had to work. The guy I was dating before him had, the year before, had a therapist’s appointment. On Valentine’s Day? Wouldn’t your therapist think it was a good sign if you cancelled to be with a woman? Choosing your therapist over your girlfriend on Valentine’s Day is itself a sign of poor mental health, don’t you think?

If I had dropped hints about the day, I would have understood. But, dammit, this was his idea. He came up with it entirely on his own. Here it was, now going on eight o’clock on Valentine’s Day and I was, very literally, all dressed up with no place to go. I took myself to a local restaurant rather than sit in and eat the box of chocolates. I should have expected it, but I was not the only person eating alone in that place.

I might have even forgiven him, but you know what? A few days later he phoned. “What are you doing this weekend?” No apology. Nothing. Just like everything was hunky dory. Talk about feeling taken for granted. I told him I was busy that weekend. And I was busy the weekend after that. He sent me a few emails puzzled about what went wrong. I didn’t answer them.

I had never made a fuss over Valentine’s Day, so even when I was single it didn’t really bother me. For some reason, it bothered me this year. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself last night.

I’ve always had a bit of a lingerie fetish. Well, maybe “fetish” is too strong, but I like pretty underthings. The picture up top, I believe is a British company.

My favorite company is Chantal Thomass. I was reminded that the bra I bought two years ago, a little polka dot push-up number with a matching thong and waist cincher with garters, recently had the underwire poke through the fabric. It can probably be repaired, but it’s on its way out. No one ever saw it except me.

They have a new collection out now. This looks kind of cute.

Model in bra and panty.

I’m feeling a little bit glum and self-pitying at the moment. There’s a line in The Rocky Horror Picture Show when Magenta says, “We ask for nothing.” Frankenfurter replies, “And you shall receive it. In abundance!” I’ve always felt that my relationships with men were a little bit like that. Sometimes I think that it’s exactly because I’m not demanding that men undervalue me. It’s a bit of psychology. People value what they have to work for and don’t value what comes easily. By not asking for much, I unintentionally give men the impression that I don’t value myself highly. That’s not quite correct. The truth is that I’d rather be alone than act like a demanding bitch.

A close call with a young hipster running a red light at the corner of 80th Street and Broadway while I was walking, with the light, within the crosswalk, carrying my groceries, reminded me of how much I hate cyclists. Normally, this is something I keep secret because a few too many of my friends are “cyclists.” If you noticed, I didn’t say that they ride bicycles. Most able-bodied people ride bicycles from time to time. For a smaller number of those people, however, riding a bicycle is part of their identity. A criticism of bicycles is a criticism of them personally.

This morning, looking for some facts about cyclists hitting pedestrians, I came across an article in the New Yorker, by Samuel G. Freedman, from 2014 which succinctly put many of the complaints I have about the behavior of bicycle riders in New York City.

After describing an incident in which a 31-year-old male musician killed a 58-year-old woman, the young man described it as “an unavoidable accident.” There are two things about this that strike me as being common when talking about bicycle accidents. The first is the age difference. In fact, this is narrower than usual. It is probably my own bias that makes me imagine the killers as white hipsters, though that bias is based on cyclists I know. The killers are almost always male. The victim is almost inevitably older. A stronger, more powerful person kills a weaker person. The second thing is the lack of an acknowledgement that the killer cyclist has for his own culpability. It’s not simply an accident, but an “unavoidable” accident. I’ve never seen anyone killed, but I’ve seen close calls and more minor accidents. Typically, they could have been avoided by the cyclist not going quite so quickly. I find cyclists over-estimate their ability to weave in and out of pedestrians. They behave in a way that I can only describe as aggressive and arrogant.

After describing a second incident, in which the killer was 17 and the victim was 75, Freedman writes:

These tragedies lay bare two realities of what we might call bike culture in New York City. First, many bicyclists routinely ignore all traffic laws, signs, and signals. Second, the city has made inadequate efforts in recent years to enforce those laws, and thus to protect the rest of us.

I think it’s very relevant that Freedman refers to “bike culture.” Riding a bicycle is a neutral activity which could be conducted with a variety of attitudes. My best friend, while he lived in New York City, was active with some cyclist advocacy groups. With him, I would avoid the subject entirely. I couldn’t bring up the subject of pedestrian safety without my friend engaging in the diversionary tactic of changing the subject to aggressive drivers, a subject, while important to cyclists generally, has nothing to do with cyclists’ attitude toward pedestrians. If I tried to bring the subject back to pedestrians, he would then go on about how pedestrians violated traffic rules. All in all, I was always left after these discussions being somewhat bothered by his sense of entitlement and lack of empathy towards others, which was strange because it was uncharacteristic of him more generally. This is why I think Freedman is right to bring up “bike culture.” Eventually, I’d avoid the subject even if he brought it up. I guess this is me breaking twenty years of silence on the subject.

Freedman continues:

Part of the current problem, I think, derives from bicyclists’ sense of themselves as victims. If you feel aggrieved, if you have been injured, if you mourn at the ghost-bike shrines of bikers who have been killed by cars, then you may have a difficult time realizing that you can simultaneously be the aggressor.  What I see on my runs in Central Park, though, could fairly be termed aggression: bicyclists speeding through red lights, scattering those in the crosswalk and leaving the rest of the pedestrians bewildered and cowering on the curb.

Psychological studies have shown that people who feel victimized show less empathy.

One day, two or three years ago, I was walking on the sidewalk along University Parkway in Baltimore, a couple of blocks west of Charles Street approaching 39th Street. The corner of 39th and University is a dangerous one for several reasons. The street is very busy with many cars and pedestrians, as well as cyclists. It is a nerve-wracking corner when driving and I hate crossing the roads there on foot, but usually walking along the sidewalk is safe enough. This day, however, there were a group of “cyclists” standing on the sidewalk. There’s no sense in calling them bicycle riders since they were not riding at the time. What they were doing was standing at a “ghost-bike shrine,” reinforcing their shared identity as cyclists and wallowing in the sense of victimhood, marginalization and self-righteousness that that identity creates. As I approached, the group who must have seen me, made no attempt to move. Their bicycles blocked my path. I supposed I could have yelled at them. It was clear from their impassive response to my presence that I would have to get verbally aggressive and I wasn’t even sure that would have the desired result. Getting physically aggressive would be an over-reaction. In order to pass by, I had to leave the safe sidewalk and enter the busy road. I’m sure the drivers who swerved to avoid hitting me wonder why a stupid pedestrian had suddenly started walking in the road.

In a study, “Victim Entitlement to Behave Selfishly” (Zitek, Jordan, Monin and Leach), the authors suggest that the

… perception of being wronged increases individuals’ sense of entitlement to avoid further suffering and to obtain positive outcomes for themselves. Wronged individuals feel that they have already done their fair share of suffering… and consequently, they feel entitled to spare themselves some of life’s inconveniences, such as being attentive to the needs of others. We predict that this should lead individuals to behave selfishly by, for example, refusing to help, endorsing self-serving intentions, or claiming a bigger piece of the pie when sharing resources with others.

Indeed, this is exactly the behavior of cyclists who, believing themselves to be wronged by “drivers,” respond selfishly when asked to share resources with “pedestrians.” Since we all walk sometimes, I’ve put quotes around these words since they are more about identity than actions.
Returning to Freedman’s article, he brings up another subject that used to come up back in the days when I hadn’t yet learned that criticism of cyclists was damaging to my social acceptance, the self-righteousness of cyclists.

And there is another element, I suspect, to bicyclists’ self-righteousness and the de Blasio administration’s inadequate response. To ride under your own power on two wheels is to be admirably green, to be on the sustainable side of the angels. Four wheels fuelled by hydrocarbons are easier to see as a potential danger needing to be controlled. But there is no mandate of heaven for putting passersby at mortal risk. And there is no public-policy logic to giving a free pass on public safety to someone who is not polluting the air.

My friend and some of his acquaintances used to bring this one up if I murmured anything about bicycles that wasn’t clearly positive. The reality was that none of them were cycling instead of driving anyway. This is New York City. Depending on the distance, they were probably cycling instead of either walking or using mass transit, and if they were cycling for pleasure, which they often did, the question is entirely irrelevant.

Freedman concludes:

One of the social compacts of living in a large city is sharing public space in a mindful way.

It’s funny, I feel like I can always identify neighbors who have recently moved into New York from a suburban area. They are often blithely inconsiderate. The extreme density in New York causes us all to make little adjustments. However, the new arrivals usually learn and adjust. Cyclists, on the other hand, show no sign of adjusting on their own. The behavior of cyclists goes beyond mere civility because physical injury, and, on rare occasions, even death is at stake. The cyclists will not change unless confronted with the evidence of their own bad behavior. I regularly support laws that improve safety for cyclists. I have not opposed them in any way regarding the laws in the city. However, I do ask that they give up their sense of entitlement and curb their aggressive behavior.

It’s hard to explain to younger people the sense of vulnerability one feels as one ages. I’m only fifty and far from frail, yet I have begun to realize that I don’t heal as quickly as I did when I was young. Only last year, I wanted to get in shape. Doing what would have been a normal exercise routine only five years ago resulted in tendonitis in my knee which took months to heal. For six months I couldn’t climb even a single flight of stairs without pain. If the young hipster had hit me and knocked me to the ground, it would take me much longer to recover than it would have had I been a twenty-something as he was. I don’t work for a large corporation or the government. My health insurance is insecure and has a high deductible. A smallish injury could be thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for me. That would all be because he couldn’t even slow down, let alone stop, at a traffic light in the middle of Manhattan where a reasonable person could anticipate there would be a lot of people walking.

I’m not sure if I should add this, but I can’t help noticing. Years ago, when aggressive cyclists were associated with bicycle messengers, there was a crack down. Back then, cyclist were not viewed very sympathetically by anyone. They were also mostly black and working class. It seems to me that the attitude towards cyclists has changed as the demographic associated with them has changed. Not long ago, that very same cycling advocate friend who is normally very PC, said something about delivery men giving cyclists a bad reputation. That might be the case among people who drive cars. However, as someone who walks more than anything, I find the delivery men to be little more than an occasional inconvenience. Sometimes, they get in my way, but they are rarely going fast enough for me to feel at risk of injury, unlike the young white men who appear to be middle class. The delivery men are obviously working class and many of them appear to be descended from people native to the Americas. It’s definitely speculation on my part, but I can’t help thinking that class, and possibly race, is a factor in our attitudes.

Just to expand on that last thought – a few years ago they made a movie about a bicycle messenger. I’m not usually very PC and have mixed feelings about some of the calls for “diversity” that have been made recently. We’d have to go through them one at a time. Some seem valid. Some sound ridiculous. Others I’d need far more information to have an opinion. Yet I felt it was absolutely ridiculous that the bicycle messenger movie starred a white guy. I worked as a receptionist on Wall Street back in the heyday of bicycle messengers in the eighties. According to my recollection, more than nine out of ten of them were black. I had a sweetheart for a while who worked for a messenger company, in the office, not riding, and he was black and many of the people he worked with were as well. I don’t know the backstory of the main character in that movie, but back in 1986 a movie about a bicycle messenger starred the white-looking Kevin Bacon. According to Wikipedia:

Jack Casey (Kevin Bacon) is a young floor trader who loses all of his company’s and family’s savings on a risky business decision. Deflated and disenchanted with his profession, he quits his job and becomes a bicycle messenger.

Back in the eighties, around the time I worked as a receptionist and dated a guy who worked for a messenger service, I can tell you most of the guys were working class. They were attracted by the pay which was higher than what they could get in other occupations, but it was definitely a difficult, physically demanding job with no small risk of injury.

Anyway, while I was on the subject, I just thought I’d get that off my chest. Nothing personal against Gordon-Levitt. I’d bed him in a heartbeat under the unlikely circumstance that he’d be interested in a fifty year old woman who isn’t a movie star. He’s definitely cuter than the average guy I’ve dated, although not as hunky as the aforementioned sweetheart. Still, if I made a bicycle messenger movie, it would be starring a young black man with bulging thigh muscles. I’m definitely picturing a really corny movie which is a poor excuse to have hunky guys strut across the screen. Maybe I’ll go start a Kickstarter campaign. Maybe not, with tempers running as high as they are on race related subjects and the possible accusations of exploitation that would be a really stupid move right now. (But really, who the fuck casts Emma Stone as half-Japanese?)

I seem to be on a streak of getting things off my chest, so I’d better stop before I say something that will get me in trouble.

 

I do not like WordPress’s new editor. I just lost a whole lot of work.

By coincidence, I’ve been getting those notices to renew my WordPress subscription. If you notice, I don’t have “WordPress” in my domain name, which means I’m one of those people who actually pay for my site. So, I’m going to take some time and see what other blogging platforms are out there. I know most of the people who comment also have WordPress sites since having an account makes you more likely to comment. If anyone has experience, good or bad, with other platforms, let me know.

Here’s an image of my workspace while I was working on that Mali post:

 

new wordpress format 1

Who on earth thought this was a good design.

I was about to write a rant and then I stopped myself. “You’re talking about fancy restaurants! Good-grief. Don’t you have any sense of proportion. There are people who don’t have what to eat! You’re a spoiled brat.” So, this is not a “rant.” It’s a “pout.”

Two things take the smile off my spoiled little face: restaurant week and brunch.

Restaurant “week”, or restaurant “half-the-goddam-year,” was originally intended as a promotional event. Started in 1992, it was originally only lunch and only for a week during the dog days of summer when restaurants were lacking customers. Discount menus were offered in hope of luring in new customers who might become regulars. Lunch turned into lunch and dinner. One week became two, and then three! Once a year became twice a year. I eat out all year long and, generally, I simply eat in during restaurant week. However, as luck would have it, my mother’s birthday falls during those dog days of summer. What does mother want for her birthday this year? Amy Schumer’s new movie (easy) and dinner. Dinner. During never-ending restaurant week. She would settle for lunch, but that doesn’t change the problem.

I was born an adventurous eater. If I see something on the menu I don’t recognize, I am immediately drawn to it. However, I think my first “food revelation” was when my sister and I visited the home of one of her college friends. Her friend’s mother was an excellent cook. The revelation was mayonnaise. That sounds banal, but my own mother was a classic child of the fifties who availed herself of every convenience food available. We used to joke that we knew dinner was ready when the smoke detector went off. She worked and went back to school for a graduate degree when my sister and I were still small. My father had a congenitally weak heart so she did much of the work around the house. You can’t be good at everything and she gave us food that was healthy enough, if a little tasteless. Be that as it may, I had never before eaten mayonnaise that hadn’t come out of a jar. Mayonnaise has no exotic ingredients, but I learned that doing many little things right adds up to a lot. Eventually, when I moved out on my own, I wanted to become I competent cook just for myself. Back then, the word “foodie” had not yet been coined and people use to call me a “gourmet.”

Add to that the little fact that I’ve always taken to luxury very well. Karl Lagerfeld once said, “Luxury is the ease of a t-shirt in a very expensive dress. If you don’t have it, you are not a person who is used to luxury. You are just a rich person who can buy stuff.” Strangely, I’m actually more comfortable in an expensive dress than a t-shirt. It’s a shame I’m not a rich person who can buy stuff because by Lagerfeld’s definition I am definitely used to luxury. It’s not just the food I enjoy. I love the ritual of eating. I love the luxury.

I had a friend who was an alcoholic. He hated New Year’s Eve and called it amateur hour. That is how I feel about restaurant week. You see, as a promotional event that brings out the cheapskates you get indifferent food and worse service. Even if you go to a place without the intention of availing yourself of the restaurant week specials, you still wind up getting treated badly. Now that I think about it, I went to the restaurant Daniel back when that was Daniel Boulud’s only restaurant. I went to DB Moderne when he opened that. However, I made the mistake of going to Cafe Boulud during restaurant week one year. The food was indifferent and the service was just absolutely awful. Now, I have not intentionally avoided his restaurants since, however I have not been to one either and it’s probably close to a decade now. It’s entirely subconscious. Well, he now has more restaurants than he knows what to do with, so he can apparently prosper without my patronage. I guess that’s the market at work. I think restaurant week is bad for me, but I suppose it’s good for the restaurants or it wouldn’t have become the week that ate the entire year. I guess restaurants don’t need “regulars” any more.

Ersatz luxury, that’s what it is. You get to eat in the fancy restaurant, but without the service and food one normally associates with it.

Once upon a time, I liked brunch well enough. Usually, it was something I associated with vacations. Somehow, however, it has driven out normal lunches from almost every restaurant, even places that would not have served it years ago, even French restaurants. As far as brunch goes, I’ve discovered a work-around: Asian food. Saturdays and Sundays are now my days for Asian restaurants. May Asian cuisine be forever preserved from the degradation that is brunch.

On the up-side, I like popcorn. And Amy Schumer.

And here’s a very appropriate Amy Schumer sketch:

Inaccuracies in the news media make me mad. How are we supposed to know what we know when the people whose job it is to inform of us of what is going on are either total idiots or too lazy to bother to do their jobs. I was on a little bit of a binge of reading about medieval fortifications when I saw on a Google Search results page “10 of the Best Medieval Walled Cities.” Really, I should know better than to click on “Number of Superlative of Plural Noun” no matter what the subject. I’d already been subjected to many fantasy and Minecraft renderings of castles and such. Still, CNN is supposed to be a real news source. You’d think they’d have some standards. Then I saw it… Quebec. What the flying fuck! The medieval era was over when the city of Quebec was settled. The “Chateau Frontenac” is a hotel built by the railroads. It’s impressively big because it was built after the advent of elevators. The walls… the were built by the British to keep out the Americans during the War of 1812. I’m writing off the top of my head and you can bet if I thought I was going to pick up a paycheck for that, I’d double-check those assertions. The writer for CNN has no such scruples. Furthermore, I must imagine other people at the company saw that page. I would tempted to say the editor is at fault as well, but as far as I can tell news organizations have fired all editors, fact checkers and everyone except the marketing people. They probably regret the peculiar requirement of consumers that they actually have a product to sell.

Champlain’s rendering of the habitation he built in Quebec. The “walls” surrounding the settlement were probably a wooden palisade.

Anyhoo… Saint Augustine – Spanish – 1565. Jamestown – English – 1607. Quebec – French – 1608. If you live anywhere on the North American continent you should know those dates without stopping to think. (People elsewhere are forgiven.) I swear, sometimes I wonder if some people forget how to tie their shoes.

Okay, I’m not a professional writer. I’m not a researcher either, although I do have a liberal arts degree and internet access, so I wonder what the hell those professional writers are thinking when they type words and pick up a paycheck for that. Sure, I know the Daily Beast is garbage and I shouldn’t even be reading it, let alone complaining about it. Still, M. L. Nestel is getting a paycheck for employing words without knowing their meanings.

It was a story about a twenty-one year old man who is currently missing. His parents report that he experienced an extreme change in his personality, which they ascribe to supplements he was taking. I won’t go into other parts of the story, but I just wanted to deal with Nestel’s apparent misunderstanding of the word “homeopathic.” One of the supplements the young man was taking is described by Nestel as “a kind of homeopathic Viagra.”

I have to say, I never thought I’d find myself searching the internet for “Penis Enlargement Pill – BIG JIM & THE TWINS- MALE ENHANCEMENT.” Forgive me if I don’t provide a link. You can sully your own internet search history. However, you will be glad to know that it does not have a five star rating on Amazon, and it is reassuring regarding humanity that it is not highly ranked in the Health & Personal Care category. Toilet paper is the top seller. Much of humanity, it seems, is practical.

If I ever go missing, the police, or my mother, will have tons of fun with my browsing history because I’m the curious sort. I look at all sorts of things I would never admit to. Hell, I’m telling you about how I looked up Big Jim and the Twins, so let your imagination go regarding what I’m not telling you about. But I have an excuse. You see, I wanted to know if it was homeopathic. Big Jim and the Twins Male Enhancement Formula has a description that is surprisingly, ahem, small.

Big Jim & The Twins is a potent male enhancement formula fortified with powerful ingredients designed to promote sexual health including Tongkat Ali, Maca, L-Arginine, Ginseng Blend, Proprietary Blend: Saraparilla, Pumpkin Seed Powder, Muira Puama Powder, Oat Straw, Nettle, Cayenne Pepper, Astragalus, Catuaba Bark Powder, Licorice, Tribulus Terrestris, Orchis, Oyster Extract, and Boron.

One thing this does not say is that it is homeopathic.

Homeopathy is a pseudoscience created by Samuel Hahnemann in the late eighteenth century. Happily for us, medicine has advanced somewhat in the past couple of centuries. Unfortunately, the news appears to have not yet reached the suburbs. Hahnemann believed that illnesses could be cured by substances that caused the same symptoms as the illness. So an illness that had fever as a symptom could be cured by a substance that causes a fever when ingested. However, the substance must be taken only in the smallest amount. Therefore homeopathic remedies are extreme dilutions in water of the substances indicated on the label, usually containing not a single molecule of the named remedy. (Do you know who liked homeopathy? Nazis!) Needless to say, homeopathy “is not effective for any condition.”

Several of the herbs listed as part of the supplement are used in folk medicine and those uses include male sexual performance. I did a quick run through of the list on the internet and, while I can’t claim my research was thorough, so I may have missed something, there doesn’t seem to be much evidence that most of them work for male sexual performance. Worse yet, there have been concerns recently that supplements to do not contain the herbs on the label.

Tongkat Ali (Eurycoma longifolia) has been shown to have an effect on testosterone levels in lab animals. Unfortunately, many products that claim to contain Tongkat Ali are fraudulent. The government of Malaysia, where the herb is native, has banned many fake products.

It is also important to remember if an herbal product is potent enough to have the intended effect, it can have side effects as well. Speaking for myself, I would not take an herbal supplement without consulting a physician.

But whatever it is and whatever it does, it is not homeopathy.

An amusing detail: On the Amazon website, the bottle of Big Jim and the Twins in the picture is empty. Symbolic?

Another morning Ativan thanks to Microsoft.

Sorry to bore all of you to death with my petty problems, but I just discovered since updating to Windows 8.1 the sound on my computer no longer works. You know, I feel like I’ve gone backwards rather than forwards in terms of technology. I feel like I just want to abandon whole thing and hand out mimeographed ‘zines instead of a blog. It’s really damned frustrating. I’ve never had this many problems with technology before Microsoft came out with Windows 8. I had to uninstall Windows 8 and replace it with Windows 7 on my desktop.

I only “updated” to Windows 8.1 because the prompts from Microsoft kept bugging me. I really feel like my arm was twisted to do something I didn’t want to do and Microsoft has essentially wrecked my computer. I feel like they should fucking fix it or replace it, but tech companies don’t take responsibility for shit.

Seriously toying with putting some flavor of Linux on here, though that’s kind of a pain in the ass when traveling. Better a crippled computer than none at all.

BTW, does Windows 8.1 lag weirdly or am imagining things? If that’s the case, then they really went and fucked everything to hell. I didn’t like the interface, but everything else seemed to run fine, at least on the laptop. Not so on the desktop. I’m going to tag this stupid, whiny post with “Linux” in case some nice person can come here and give me the benefit of his or her experience.

I’m trying to get my brain working in French, so I’d really like to listen to the news and not just read it.

Anyway, I want to put this up, not simply because it’s self-indulgent, but so I can warn people away from Window 8.*.

You may have noticed that I tend to get my nose a little out of joint, okay, a lot out of joint, when people complain about some stupid thing that Americans always do, especially if it’s not something that I’ve witnessed much myself. Now, some time ago, an Englishman complained to me about having his spelling corrected by Americans although it was perfectly correct by British standards. Even worse, according to him, was that some people “corrected” him when he used the word black, telling him that the proper term was “African-American”, even though he was not talking about an American.

“Pshaw!” I said. “Just because some idiot said something stupid, suddenly there’s this terrible thing we Americans do! Harrumph!” And with that, I got my nose as displaced as in a Picasso portrait.

Now, lo and behold, I just saw a similar mistake in The Daily Beast. Emily Shire criticizes the feminist site Jezebel for having double standards due to a post, “Disney Dudes’ Dicks: What Your Favorite Princes Look Like Naked.” Personally, it strikes me as so weird I’m not sure it can even rise to the level of a double standard. It struck me as the sort of things girls might giggle about at the age when the only penises you’ve seen were in photographs. I have a vague recollection of being twelve or thirteen and being told by other, equally naive, girls that the size and shape of a boy’s penis could be determined by… his nose, his hands, his fingers, his feet. The Jezebel post seemed too stupid to worry about, but I kept reading to see if there was perhaps a larger point. Meanwhile I came across this:

Jezebel also dabbles in some racial stereotypes by ensuring that Prince Naveen—the sole African American male in the collection—has the longest genetalia.

I had not seen the movie. Prince suggested to me that Naveen was not the from the United States, but that could just be a name for some reason, so I just watched a few minutes of the movie trying to determine whether or not Prince Naveen could be described as “American.” I think he cannot. Nor is it clear that he is of African descent. It is very clear in the movie that he is from another country. His accent seemed to be Italian. (I’ve since found out it’s Brazilian.) His country is named as Maldovia, which is fictional. Even if Naveen is of African descent, he is most certainly not “African-American.”

I know that someone with a degree in literature can spit out twenty pages on seemingly nothing at the drop of a hat. However, I can’t help thinking that Emily Shire should have at least done a close reading of the Wikipedia entry for The Princess and the Frog before accusing Tracie Egen Morrissey of racial stereotyping.

Note to Americans: African-American is only a politically correct term for dark-skinned people when talking about Americans of African descent. (Now, stop embarrassing me! This is getting humiliating. I get angry and say, “How dare you call Americans stupid!” Then a few weeks later I find myself apologizing. “Um, maybe we are that stupid.”)

Note to the Editors at The Daily Beast: Do you pay, and, if so, how do I submit something?

 

I found the old dashboard.

Christ, I wish WordPress would stop fucking around with the interface. Have you ever noticed there’s multiple links allowing you to put up a new post and each one takes you to a different format? Oh, well. Now what the hell was it that I was thinking before WordPress pissed me off?