Google

Subscribe
Enter your email address to receive notifications when there are new posts
Powered by BLOG ALERT
You will get emails when I post a new blog. You will not get them for any other reason. I post on average 4 times a month. Each email will have a link to unsubscribe. You will not get any spam from me or Blog-Alert.
 
Visitors

You have 942019 hits.

 
Latest Comments
 
Recent Entries
 
Category
 
Archives
 

Blogs I follow:
Fem·men·ist
The Briefing Room (White House)
The Future is Fiction
East Bay Bicycle Coalition
The Quiet Extrovert
Electrons and More!
Crystal Math
Green Eggs & Ham
Ghost Town Farm
DemonBaby
30 is the new 13
The Gubbins Experiment
 
Links
 
$0 Web Hosting
 
User Profile
Bakari
biodieselhau...
Male
Oakland, CA



 
Posted By Bakari

A couple friends of mine are taking a class on being a "white ally" - race awareness and relations, power and privileged, and counteracting racism.

One of them mentioned to me some critical feedback she had offered and it got me to thinking in more detail what has always bothered me about those sort of discussions, but up until now never quite pinned down.

The following is not a commentary on that class in particular, as I know essentially nothing about it, but rather a critique of a few general ideas I have heard and read on the topic in the past:




1 There is no such thing as "people of color"
-The impact of past racism (including slavery) and present racism does not effect all races equally, nor all in the same way.
- A black american  and a white american likely have more in common with each other than with a fresh-off-the-boat Vietnamese person.  A white american whose family has been in the US for generations likely has more culture in common with a black american than with a first generation eastern european immigrant with whom they share skin color.
 -The very term "people of color" encourages white people to think in terms of a false dichotomy of 'us' (all white people) and 'them' (everyone else).  It not only homogenizes all other races, it also makes everyone not white into an "other".
-Lumping all non-white cultures into one category, while giving white an entire separate category in itself suggests a type of superiority.
-This dichotomy also discounts the existence of mixed race individuals (officially 2% of US society, but really much higher - most surveys, as well as society, force people to choose one identity, even if they are in fact mixed)

2 Historical racism is the single largest cause for modern black poverty, and poverty does generally correlate with crime. However no historical or sociological factors can excuse individual behavior.  No matter what circumstances a person is born into, they have a choice about their own behavior.  Apologizing for, ignoring, discounting, or explaining away black crime rates, drug rates, or general anti-social behavior (e.g. boombox on a crowded train) does nothing to increase equality, and does not bring less conscious white people about as allies. 

3 Discrimination is explicitly illegal.  Talking about "institutionalized" or "systemic" racism does not address the issues which are most relevant today.  While there are still white supremacists in the US, their view has become as unacceptable in mainstream society as it once was only among civil-rights activists.  The president of the US is 1/2 African.  This does not mean that the conversation about race is over.  However, it does mean it is time to change that conversation. 

For example, talking about power hierarchies is mostly nonsensical today.  If racism = racism + power (as is often claimed by race activists), this does not imply that only whites can be racist, because whites do not have any particular power over other races.  There are minorities in the role of police officer, judge, congress person, boss, professor, etc. as well as whites in poverty, in jail, or otherwise powerless.  If you ignore all individual circumstances and look only at the whole society, then no one can be racist, because society is no one person.


 
[this blog has a character limit.  The rest of it is here: http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2010/04/awareness-of-white-priveldge-vs.html ]

 
Posted By Bakari

On the popular TV show "The Office", the branch manager is a bit of a doofus.  He's not all that bright, he is totally obsessed with having his employees like him on a personal level, and he has very little knowledge of actual business or management theory.
He makes his superiors wring their hands and shake their heads - but the thing is, his office's sales record is the best in the company, so despite his many, many faux pax, he always keeps his job.

Nobody can quite figure out how he manages to do such a good job in spite of himself.

Even though he tells them quite clearly, time and again.

He considers his employees family.
He wants his customers to feel cared for.
He is more interested in making people happy than in making money.

You can't learn to be community based and to value clients as actual people in business school.  You can't use the idea of caring about people and being friendly to increase the bottom line, because if your interest is in the bottom line, you are genuinely interested in people.  You can't fake authenticity. 

Its either about the love, or its about money. Once you start thinking about rate of return ratios, receivables balance fractions, risk-adjusted profitability, or marginal value-added pricing structures, and all the other things one learns in business school, you are far beyond the point of seeing every person you work for and every person you work with as numbers.

From there it is a very slippery slope to the scenario described by "Jack" in Fight Club: If the cost of the average rate of settlement times the expected rate of failure is less than the cost of a recall for a known deadly manufacturing error, we don't do the recall.
In the end it comes down to morality.  Its either being moral, or maximizing profit.  They are mutually exclusive.

No business is going to have as their slogan "All we care about is your money", and a lot of them try in ads to sound like it isn't true; for any public corporation it is actually illegal for them to consider anything else above the bottom line - if they tried the shareholders could sue. 
For the vast majority of companies jumping on the band wagon, being environmentally responsible is a marketing gimmick as much as a catchy jingle.

Thinking in terms of doing productive work for society while earning fair compensation, as opposed to thinking of how to maximize revenue while minimizing costs will not (always) lead to the highest possible profits.

It will, I think, mean that business actually increases while the rest of the country is in an economic downturn.  It means getting so many referrals its necessary to turn jobs down after going a year and a half without any form of advertising.  It means when, inevitably, mistakes are made, no customer ever makes a claim, because they realize they are not just numbers, that every attempt to be careful was made, all actions in good faith. 
It means that quite a few of my customers make me meals while I'm working.

If a job is a paycheck, it will show through to the customer, no matter how you try to hide it.
If I am ever in a position to hire anyone, my first question will not be about education or experience or abilities or references.  My first and most important question is just this: Why do you want the job?  If its about pay and benefits, no matter how qualified, its "next please".

It has to be about the love.


 
Posted By Bakari

So many people, when the subject of christmas lights come up, they acknowledge they are nice, but go on to add "but they are a waste of energy".

As someone who feels strongly that American's use of energy and resources is morally unacceptable, I would like to be very clear about this:
Christmas lights are NOT a waste of energy.

That 80% of car trips have only the driver or a driver and one passenger, yet seat from 5-7 people is a waste of energy.  That we live, on average, 20 miles from our jobs is a waste of energy.  Uninsulated attics and unweather stripped doors and windows in houses and power steering and air conditioning in cars, all electric kitchens, and cars that weigh 50% more than they did 20 years ago and have 200% more power are all enormous wastes of energy.
Buying enormous amounts of crap that no one really needs and that get shoved into a closet or thrown out after a few weeks wastes energy in manufacture and transport.

Not one of those things provides any significant increase in quality of life.  None of them make people happy to be alive.  At most they provide a tiny increase in convince.  At worst they do nothing but cost money.  None of them create joy.

In a land where profit is considered the only motivating factor for nearly everything in life, filled with people who don't know their neighbors, where 50% of people can't be bothered to take the effort to use their turn signals, for a few weeks a year people do something with no financial benefit, no increase in comfort or convenience, no direct personal benefit.
You don't even see them from inside the house.  Everyone else passing by sees them.
They turn an ordinary neighborhood into a magical place.
They create joy.
Which makes them one of the few valid uses of energy in this country.
Because ultimately, making it enjoyable is really the only point there is to life. 

So go ahead and enjoy those giant flashy displays and don't for a second feel guilty about it.
Put up your own even.

You can get a strip of LED lights for less than $10 that use less than 5 watts of power, (far less than a single florescent light bulb).
I even found a set for under $5 that runs for days on just (rechargeable) AA batteries.

But LED or no, the lights are worthwhile and good.

A world without christmas lights is not a world worth saving.


 
Posted By Bakari

The Earth has been around about 5 billion years, life about 4 billion.
Half a billion years for animals, 200 billion for mammals.
200,000 years of humans.
For the first 192,000 years or so, the human population was under 10 million people world wide.
Increasing 10 fold took 6000 more years.
We rocketed from 100 million to a billion in just over 2000 years.
The next billion only took 120 years.
And then 30.
And since the 1950s, we have added a billion people every 13 years or so.

We are at around 6.75 billion people now.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b7/Population_curve.svg

Its estimated that it will hit 9 billion in about another 30 years.
That new 2 and a quarter billion people will be our children.

We like to point to the 3rd world, to Asia and Africa, but in the measure that matters, the US is by far the most overpopulated country in the world, as well as one of the fastest growing.

Population is only an issue because of the finite resources the Earth can provide. If we had unlimited resources there wouldn't be any reason not to keep increasing indefinitely.

If everyone used the same amount of water, land, and energy, and caused the same amount of pollution as the average person in the third world, we would all be ok for a long time to come. Due to lack of ability, what we call poverty, people in the third world tend to use less than their share of world resources.
The average person in the first world uses 5 times more than the overall world average.
The average American uses 20 times more. Each of us uses about 20 times more water, 20 times more fuel and electricity, 20 times as much land to produce our food, produces 20 times more waste and pollution.
Which means that in the big picture, each of us counts for 20 people.

So our 305 million population may as well be 6.1 billion, far more than China's 1.3 billion. They would have to increase some combination of actual population and consumption per person by far before we could legitimately point the finger at them.

It also means that each child we have counts as 20 people, turning our fertility rate of 2.1 (already above the replacement rate of 2) into the equivalent of 42 per woman, 6 times higher than the highest rate of any third world country - and almost 17 times higher than the world average.

In the US alone there are 200,000 children waiting to be adopted.


It is one of the most basic and universal desires is to reproduce. How could it be any other way? Because if that drive weren't passed along genetic lines, our ancestors wouldn't have bothered, and we wouldn't be here to think about it.

There has been a widespread assumption that because it is natural and universal that therefor it should be considered a human right.

Our modern world does not resemble the savanna we evolved on. We also have biological instincts to eat whenever food is available in case it isn't tomorrow - and the result is rampant obesity - and a good number of us making the conscious choice to go against instinct and manipulate ourselves in ways that take into consideration the reality of our world. Violence is natural and universal, but we agree as a society that the costs are not acceptable and make the conscious decision to repress it, both as individuals and as communities.
Because, we can do that, we can think, and make choices.

To make wine or beer, you start with grape juice or grains and add microorganisms.
For them it is an incredible feast!

Character limited blog server; read the rest here: http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2009/12/wine-barrel-population-and-parenthood.html


 
Posted By Bakari

My original comment was not meant to imply I don't believe that there are tangible effects on people (most notably unemployment, which is certainly up compared to a few years ago).
All I said was that media and politicians largely made it up.  I think it is a self-fulfilling prophesy to an extent, where in people hear constant messages that times are tight, therefor they cut back on consumption, therefor retail markets fall, therefor manufacturers cut back, and employers start laying people off.  Which fuels the beginning of the cycle even more.  This is why business analysts track "consumer confidence".  In fact, to a large extent it is what the stock market is all about.  Its less a question of how well a company is doing and more one of how popular are they.  If people think its doing well, they buy, which itself drives the stock price up.  It works both ways, so if everyone is convinced the market is doing bad, they sell so they don't lose too much by waiting, and then companies don't have the capital to invest.

-

I think it is totally unreasonable to adjust what it means to be "poor" based on those around you.
If we did that, billionaires could claim to be poor if those around them are multi billionaires.  In fact, everyone except for the single richest person in the world would be "poor".
Clearly there should be some objective standard of poverty.
I think the only reasonable one is the point at which you have a reasonable fear of not being able to provide the basic necessities for oneself and family.  Food, shelter, clean water.  If you can afford so little food that it affects your health, you can claim to be poor.

It doesn't have to be a "big" car.  If you own a car, you aren't poor.  Period.  Never mind that most people in the world couldn't even afford the up-front purchase price of a car.  Much higher than that in the long run is costs for fuel, insurance, parking and tolls, maintenance, tickets...
For hundreds of thousands of years of human existence even the wealthiest people in the world could not buy cars.
Only in the US do people honestly believe that they are a "necessity".
All over the country people claim to be struggling who are paying for cable TV.  They eat out and buy $2 cups of coffee.  They have cell phones and internet connections.  These are things most people and the world can't afford.  They are not basic necessities.

Supposedly a person in the bay area needs 3 times the federal poverty level in order to live "comfortably"
http://articles.latimes.com/2007/oct/17/business/fi-wages17
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/10/17/MN0ISQEFP.DTL

They take it for granted that everyone needs a car.
And since when does every 6 year old need her own room?!
In the case of the 2nd article, I have no contempt for the person they profile.  She (rightly) considers herself middle class.
(Hopefully, after having been interviewed she doesn't change her own standards).
Now, going into collection, obviously a problem.  Thing is, that is another of those uniquely American things: living beyond your means.

 

[Due to charcter limit, this essay is continued here: http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/spoiled-economic-downturn-luxury-as.html ]


 
Posted By Bakari

A few days ago, coming home from work after dark, a neighbor came over to ask for a jump.
I took the alternator out of my truck, but the charger I use in its place has a quick charge / jump start option, so I brought that over.
While we waited for it another neighbor, someone new I had waved to but never met, came over to see if we needed any help.
Somehow we got onto the topics of being "green" and the recession.

The neighbor with the dead battery is involved with a local semi-official flea market. They are conscious of the fact that, along with being a way to make money, selling things second hand is also environmentally responsible. They are actively looking for ways to be more so, for example sourcing "plastic" bags made of plant materials. She had never heard of plastic island, but understood how it happened and the significance as soon as I described it.
The new neighbor talked about the house of cards credit schemes that led to our economic situation, about concentration of wealth, government and banks and stock markets roles.
While I had plenty of my own to add, I found myself agreeing with nearly everything both of them said.

This in contrast to interactions with neighbors over the past couple years: the neighbor in the 10ft long trailer who blamed all the countries problems on "the liberals", the neighbor who couldn't see any possible reason to run bio-diesel instead of petrol when it costs more - even when I pointed out that even if he doesn't live long enough to see environmental harm affect his life his kids might, not to mention the narrowly avoided fist fight and the 3 year old who buried his dads meth needle.

Like I have written, its funny that global warming is the thing that finally got peoples attention - even though there isn't hard scientific evidence that human activity will change it in a significantly more dramatic way than the natural climate cycles already do - when we have known for many decades that our use of resources is totally unsustainable.
But whatever. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons is better than not doing the right thing at all.

Now combined with economic changes, ideas I have been thinking about all my life are becoming more and more popular. What will life be like after the credit based economy has its debts called in, and we no longer have the capacity to exploit natural resources at an unsustainable level, (as is absolutely vital for the American way of life as we know it)?
Of course there were always others who imagined it coming someday, with varying levels of serious - movies like Six-String Samurai on the one end, cults and militias on the other.
But now I am finding it everywhere.
The Gubbins Experiment, a blog I read about a guy who has given up not only driving, but also accepting rides in any motor vehicle for a year, wrote his most pessimistic post ever. My boss, a small business owner with a contract with BART to run the BikeStation seemed to imply that the end of civilization as we know will happen within the next 20 years, and that it will hit dramatic and fast when it does. I met my most recent friend in part via (literal) dreams of a post-apocalyptic future.
And now, even here in the trailer park, people are thinking in global terms about sustainability and economics.

Contrast it also to discussions I have had recently with some single issue activists, who I found by and large narrowly focused on not just one issue, but one side of one issue, unable or unwilling to consider other points of view, ignoring historical and current contexts that don't support a pre-determined conclusion, and offering more criticism than real solutions.

Maybe I had it wrong all along.

Maybe it is the general public, the random ordinary everyday people in whom our potential salvation rests.
That is the most encouraging possibility I have come across in many years.


 
Posted By Bakari

I posted my essay equating the free market with anarchy on a discussion board for anarchists.  The following is the comments it generated.


(I am David Craig Hiser.  All the other comments are various random anarchists.  Many comments were off topic, and are not shown here.
All of the comments, as well as my original essay, are here: http://www.anarchistnews.org/?q=node/7038
)

----------------------------------------------

Submitted by Ofelas on Thu, 2009-04-02 01:18.

Is this fellow trying to say that capitalism (with leaders and all) and anarchy/anarchism are all one and the same? Cuckoo Cuckoo.

-----------------------------------------------

Submitted by DavidCraigHiser on Fri, 2009-04-03 22:52. [I am David Craig Hiser]

More or less, yes.
Capitalism has no leaders.
Capitalism has only the market.
Democracy (or rather, what we call democracy, actually a republic) has leaders.
Our political system is the only thing which stands between our (the US) system and true capitalism / free markets.
Each move toward deregulation is a move toward economic anarchy.

------------------------------------------------------------

 

Capitalism is brutally authoritarian. It depends on police and armies to keep the masses of workers from being able to take the products of their labour from those who are robbing them (their owners, the bosses).

Capitalism is the antithesis of anarchism. It is the single most hated ideology amongst every authentic anarchist. I understand you want to call yourself an anarchist because its a cooler label than being a capitalist, but sorry, you may not use it. Actually, I'm not sorry. Anyone who supports all the evils of capitalism must be a douche, and I don't apologize to douches.
Go read the Infoshop FAQ and learn what anarchism is. Read the section on 'so-called anarcho-capitalists'. Go post on an Ayn Rand messageboard.

------------------------------------------

Submitted by David Craig Hiser on Mon, 2009-04-06 11:04.

You have greatly misunderstood my own position.
I am in no way advocating capitalism.
I am totally opposed to capitalism.
The reason I am opposed to anarchy is that I believe capitalism can (and likely will in the modern world) arise from it. That was the point I was trying to get across.

I am not forgetting bosses. Being employed by someone is a voluntary relationship. An employee can quit, and even open a competing business. The occasional "American dream" story not-withstanding, people generally can not choose to join the upper class.

I am claiming you can not have a classless society without a mechanism to enforce equality. You must somehow prevent individuals from accumulating wealth.
If individuals have complete freedom, sooner or later someone will accumulate wealth, and then they will be able to take advantage of that accumulation, which is capitalism.
If society prevents that from happening, then individuals are not free to do as they like, even if their actions do not directly hurt anyone else, and this entails some form of authority...

[there is a character limit, but just for Gregg, I have the rest on a non-myspace location: http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/last-one-anarchists-this-time.html]

 
Posted By Bakari

I have learned, finally, not to get into discussions with Christians.
I haven't quite got there yet with libertarians.

There is still a part of me that thinks that by pointing out the logical flaws, the mistaken assumptions of fact, and there basically immoral implications, that otherwise intelligent kind people will reconsider.
Part of it was when I read Ayn Rand's novels I could see being swayed by the unspoken implications.  It was only when reading her ides laid out in plain straight forward English that I could easily see her for what she is: the literal embodiment of pure evil.
Part of it is how many of my own friends and associates accept one or another of these ideas, and I know them personally, I know they are intelligent, compassionate, and generally reasonable.

Most of all I write for the people on the fence though, the random anonymous people who might happen across these discussions online, so there is a counterbalance to the radical rhetoric which admittedly does sound totally rational and appealing when its presented as it is, out of context.

One was a blog essay which an anarchist friend sent me a link to attacking democracy.  (He mentioned the caveat of not supporting the market economy.  I have already written before here about how a market economy will naturally arise in the absence of government regulation.)

While the arguments here are not necessarily universal among anarchists, libertarians, and capitalists, some of them are common, or are at least similar.
(It is kind of long already, so I'll save the other two for future installments.)

I don't have the responses here, but that's mainly because there really weren't any substantial responses, just general insults and links to other people's writing.  If you are interested, you can read both the original essay and all of the comments here:
http://libertariananarchy.com/2008/12/against-democracy/

 

[The rest can be found on my original, charcter limit free blog, here: http://blogs.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=blog.view&friendId=97022263&blogId=496945265

It is also now Neopolitan, which may or may not take off as the new place for all of my social and political rants. 

http://neapolitanblog.blogspot.com/2009/06/capitalists-libertarians-and-anarchists.html]


 
Posted By Bakari

A friend of mine insists that I seem really gay (despite this friend being female, and us sleeping together).
As evidence she questioned someone I had just met, who agreed that whatever I was, she doubted it was straight.
As I found this more than a little strange, I proceeded to ask other people if they thought that when they first met me.
Responses mixed, but I was surprised to find some people agreed with their assessment.

The reasons I got included: that I seem comfortable with myself and others, in my own skin (mind you, I was in my own home at the time), and that I am not a sleazy slimeball.

I definitely consider those both to be very positive (and, I like to imagine, accurate) things to say about me, but it leaves an absolutely terrible implication for like, all straight men everywhere. 
Like, (aside from gay guys and me), they are all fake, all of the time (or at least around women), always trying to show off or prove something, I suppose, or one way or another acting (presumably for the chance to have sex with everyone they meet).
I have a lot of trouble believing that.

Having an inside pass, I do know that this is terribly common.  Disturbingly common.
But if it is perceived to be universal...
Perhaps this is why nice guys finish last.  Women perceive guys who are just regular, decent human beings as all being gay.

When I was younger I used to believe that everyone is naturally bi, and it is only social conditioning that makes us suppress it.  I was raised in an extremely liberal household by an openly bi former hippy who was totally honest and through in education on all topics. 
(A note for the anti-sex-ed folk: nothing can make sex less appealing to a young person than hearing about it in detail from one's mother.  Statistics show that repressive communities have a far higher teen birth rate.  I on the other hand waited until 21, and then only because the other person insisted).
I grew up not just watching but participating in the gay parade.  It was a while before I understood that a certain anonymous alcohol recovery support group was not in fact specifically for the LGBT community.  Many of my best childhood memories was of Camp Lavender Hill, where every kid was from a LGBT family.  So I was open-minded.
Then I got the opportunity to test the theory.
Turns out I was wrong.
It just doesn't do it for me.
Not at all.
Even years later, I tell myself I "should" be more open-minded.  Nothing can make me lose interest in sex faster than watching gay porn.

I am neutral on the gender tests I have taken, and I'm proud of that.  I may act effeminate by this society's standards - mainly because I am totally oblivious to the standards.  I probably wouldn't act the way I am "supposed to" even if I knew, but the truth is I don't.  When I think about it, I don't see what I could do that wouldn't be a blatant caricature of what it means to be Manly.  I think of flannel, a big belt buckle, beer, and slapping women I barely know on the ass.  I think of constantly challenging other guys to frivolous competitions and asking total strangers for her number on the sole basis of her being "hot".  Who does these things?  How can anyone take them seriously? 

(due to character limit, the conclusion can be found HERE)


 
Posted By Bakari

Total # of deaths from "swine" flu: 8

Total annual deaths from regular old human flu: between a quarter and a half million.

http://tiny.cc/swine511
http://tiny.cc/flu611

Turns out this isn't the first panic over "swine flu"



Only 1 person died from swine flu in 1976.  Hundreds of Americans were killed or seriously injured by the inoculation the government gave them to stave off the virus.

http://www.capitalcentury.com/1976.html

Of course it isn't just about ratings and selling papers. Some of it is human nature.  I think we enjoy panicking.
I understand that people have a hard time taking history into account.  If it didn't happen in one's own lifetime it becomes an abstraction, and therefor not something to learn from.  But "bird" flu was only, what, 3 years ago?  The "global pandemic" of bird flu killed a little over 200 people world-wide over the course of about 5 years. 
Before that was y2k.  It was supposed to shut down every computer, crippling all of modern civilization.
The supposed financial "crises" hasn't even wore itself out, and already we are on to our next one.

I stopped watching/reading "news" a long time ago, and yet somehow I keep hearing about this stuff.
I keep imagining to myself that somehow humanity is going to collectively stop being so stupid.
I know how terribly deluded I am.
I think I should just give in.
Anyone know where I can buy one of those masks?


 
Posted By Bakari

http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/the_gay_animal_kingdom/

 

At first I was going to comment directly on the article, but couldn't find a place for it.
Then I noticed the article is 3 years old.
Disappointing.
Then it occurred to me; that's exactly what my blog is for!  Remember?  Duh.

On to my comments:

This is a fascinating study and long over due research, which deserves far more attention that it's gotten for both social and scientific reasons.
However, I must partially object to the conclusions of this particular article.

It presents a false dichotomy.  None of the observed activities contradict the basic principals of Darwinian evolution, including sexual selection.  They may seem to contradict some assumed extensions of the basic mechanisms of evolution, but those assumptions are the things which must be thrown out, not the entire theory.

Sex serves a social function.  This is true not only in humans, but in a great many other species as well - generally those that are more complex, intelligent, and social.  This much is clear.
This does not mean sex is not also about reproduction.  It is not an either/or question.  To dispute that sex is primarily about reproduction, the survival of one's genes is just plain silly.

But simply maximizing number of offspring does not necessarily lead to the greatest number of survivors a few generations down.  Increasing the quality of a few offspring, and improving the environment they grow up in can be an alternate and potentially more successful strategy for grandchildren.  In a social specie where individuals are dependent on the group, any behavior which increases the cohesivenvess of the group has an adaptive advantage.

(this is only the begining - there is much more, including links to references, and irrelevant asides, not to mention a most gratifing conclusion (or at least the conclusion that gratification is perfectly ok) - unfortunately, my cheap blog editor piggybacking here on my website server space ("cheap" meaning "free") has a charcter limit for some unfathomable and ungodly reason, so in order to read the rest I am afraid I have to send you to my original blog, by having you click the following link: Gay Animals, Social Sex, and a Misunderstanding of Natural and Sexual Selection )


 
Posted By Bakari

What I was searching for doesn't seem all that extreme or strange.

Something where the female was in control, and the focus was on her getting whatever she wanted.
There is plenty of the inverse.  Too much.  There is also of course a healthy amount where no one is dominant, the majority in fact.
Female dominated (or FemDom for short) is shunted off to the side as a fetish, a subset of BDSM (bondage domination/submission sado-masochism).

Of course male dominated BDSM exists too, and occasionally is even pretty good (I am partial to sexandsubmission.com).  But there is also lots of male dominated porn which doesn't fall under the BDSM category.  Its regular sex, with no pain or bondage involved, but the guy is clearly in control of the situation, and his partner is there to please him.  In and of itself, I'd have no problem with that - so long as it were balanced.

In femdom, almost invariably, at some point the mistress dons a strap-on and penetrates her slave.  I realize plenty of real life people are into this, and that it can be pleasurable for the guy, an interesting fantasy for the girl.  But every time?  If the guy is only there to please her, whether he enjoys any part of the experience should be mostly irrelevant.  And she doesn't actually get any direct stimulation of her own from this act.  From the stand point of her sexual pleasure, it's kind of pointless.  It may be fun, but it's not exactly sex.  Were it really just an alternate form of sex, it would be common (or at least exist occasionally) in genres other than femdom.  That it is confined to that subset means there is an assumption that the act of penetration itself is not just masculine, but dominating.
And that assumption in turn implies that simply via their biology, women are inherently subjects in every sex act.

I have always subscribed to the idea that feminism is nothing more than the "radical" notion that women are people.  Not that women are men.  Not that women are capable of being men.  That women are people, and men are people, and, as Pete says in 'The Muppets take Manhattan, "Peoples is peoples".  Claiming that women are capable of doing anything men are doing is also the suggestion that men should be the standard by which people are measured.  Similarly, a woman should not have to artificially take on an approximation of male biology in order to be (or appear) strong, confident, or dominate.  One could just as easily re-think male penetration as female envelopment.
She just needs to be the one in control.

Its rare for their to be any ordinary penetration in femdom porn - you know, the one physical act which is, in the most literal sense, actually sex.
I admit that I am not, and never have been, a woman, but I tend to trust my partners, and in my experience, women don't just have intercourse for the sake of their partners.  They actually enjoy it.  Which leads me to suspect that, if she were given free reign to do whatever she felt like, it's not altogether unlikely that intercourse would be an item on the agenda.
This doesn't mean she has to cede control.  In fact, he needn't even have his limbs free.

[due to the character limit on this free blog platform, you will have to read the rest on my MySpace Blog, by clicking this sentence]


 
Posted By Bakari

I tend to spend time around certain type of people.  I feel fortunate to live in a place where there are so many like-minded people to be drawn to, and to have attracted to me.
They work in education, or in jobs with a direct environmental benefit.
They are socially aware, concerned with the world outside of just their own personal lives.
As such they tend to buy local food, used clothes and furniture, they are vegetarian, vote regularly.  They bicycle and take transit, or if they drive its a sub-compact shared with other people, a hybrid, or powered by veggie oil.
They value things like education, cultural understanding, and tolerance.
They see that the way we do things here is not always necessarily the "best" way to do them.  And a part of valuing what other cultures has to offer entails traveling to other places and experiencing them first hand.

Driving that most-visible-of-all-symbols-of-American-consumption, the H2 (the Hummer luxury model) across the country with a couple of passengers, along the 3000 miles of Highway 80 from SF to NY, uses less fuel and causes less pollution (per person) than doing the same journey in a full loaded commercial passenger plane.

A single round-trip intercontinental flight more than negates an entire years worth of commuting by bicycle.

We are able to get away with travel because it is so grossly subsidized; from our military (which is larger than the entire rest of the world combined) being assigned to guard pipelines to the fact that airports are paid for by taxes, not by the airlines, combined with the fact that we simply have way too much money (the world average income is $7000, but the less developed world averages only $700 per year) and so don't think twice about spending it frivolously, from household doo-dahs to vacations.

When a person travels for education, or humanitarian reasons, with the peace corp perhaps, the plane ticket alone is likely to cost several times more than what the local residents make, and do more environmental destruction than the residents would have done, in an entire year.

And this segues me nicely into my next topic.

 

[Due to character limit, the rest of this essay can be read by clicking the following link]:

MySpace Blog


 
Posted By Bakari

Total number of fatal shootings by Oakland Police in 2008: 5

Of those, number which inspired a wrongful death suit: 2 (both of whom had been resisting arrest, one of whom may have been armed)

Number of potentially unjustified fatal shootings by BART Police: 3.
Ever. Since BART opened in 1972.

Number of homicides (not by police) in Oakland in 2008: 123

Again: One hundred and twenty three.

I'm not saying that police going around shooting people is ok.
I'm not saying being in fist fights on the train is grounds for getting shot.
I'm not saying that cops shouldn't be held to higher standards. We are trusting them with our safety, with our very lives.

If the person Oscar had been fighting had been the one to shoot him, it would have been on the news for one day. There would have been no protests. We wouldn't be thinking about it. But his family still would be.
Young black men shooting young black men is a far larger problem than cops shooting young black men, yet we seem to take it for granted.

Again, this is not to say don't protest in this particular case, which was obviously over the line, obviously unjustified.

When we claim it is a pattern, representative of something larger when in fact it isn't; when we use it as an excuse to condemn all police because we really just have an adolescent resentment of authority, all we are doing is increasing the polarity, increasing the mutual distrust between the police and the community, which in turn increases the likelihood of things like this happening.

When someone starts out hating and distrusting all cops, and he gets detained, he is a lot more likely to be resistive, to fight back, and this, understandably, is going to put the officer on guard. When they have to deal with people like that on a regular basis, they are going to become more likely to be aggressive right from the beginning.

There are larger social and historical issues involved, surrounding the legacy of slavery, poverty is inherited just like wealth is, our education system is deplorable, and as a society we value maximum production of wealth over equitable distribution.

None of these things is in any way an excuse for individual behavior.

Are young black males stopped disproportionately? Of course we are. It might have something to do with committing a disproportionate amount of crime. My advice, if you feel like you are being harassed: Don't get into fist fights. Don't smoke weed or drink alcohol in public. Don't sell drugs. Don't drive like a fucking jack-ass. Don't evade the fare or play amplified music on the train. Don't shoplift. Basically, in general, don't be obnoxious.

Chris Rock explains this very well: How To Not Get Your Ass Kicked By The Police