Category Archives: Hmmm

Words to Ponder

Everyone’s favourite visionary, George “Dubya” Bush, is firmly committed not only to harming the US, but to finding new ways to harm it and its people. I respect Dubya’s newfound honesty, and I think that his mission to destroy his nation is a noble one, and deserves all the support musterable.

“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” — GW Bush [MP3 Link]

Business Attire

Is this so wrong?
I’m in a line of work where one can get away with at least some amount of eccentricity. I even think if it’s lacking people might say “oh, he’s not a real programmer.”

However, even I am subject to the vaguely defined rules of business etiquette. I’m not allowed to wear stuff that is inappropriate for an office environment. Correction: I’m not allowed to wear anything that is inappropriate for a male in an office environment. So in general short pants and open-toed shoes are verboten. It’s fine for a woman to wear a skirt, of course, and open shoes, and other stuff that helps with air circulation in the hot summer. At least I’m not forced to wear long sleeves all year or, even worse, a jacket.

But lest I sound like I’m whining about how difficult us males have it, I’m not. I don’t think this is a question of discrimination, it’s more of a stupid clinging to old values and practices. See, it used to be that conformity in men’s attire was all the rage. So there’d be an office (or party, or gathering, or whatever) full of identically-dressed men. The women all wore traditionally feminine clothing, skirts and dresses and what have you, but they varied, because their jobs basically were to be pleasant to look at. So women’s clothing was colourful, patterned, in all sorts of different cuts, and so on.

At some point* it became less acceptable for women to be entirely excluded from the business side of… well, business. And there was a trend of clothing that was basically men’s clothing, adapted to the sort of stuff that women are supposed to wear. This gave birth to the skirt-suit and regular suits cut for women. Also, it became okay for a woman to wear trousers to work if she wanted. Anyway, the restrictions on women’s clothing were loosened because this was seen as a step that would stop the pigeon-holing of the sex into low-skill eye candy. It’s not necessarily true that the skirt exists because of oppression but it is true that requiring women to wear only dress-type stuff is stupid. Now that the feminist movement has been around for a while and has gained legitimacy in the eyes of the people who make decisions (and now that many of those people are not men) any given person likely fears the repercussions of openly suggesting that women are supposed to only be in certain roles in business.

Thing is, there was never any major movement to change the way men dress at work. Obviously there’s never been any need for a “Men’s Liberation” movement or anything. Men certainly haven’t said “we want to be allowed to dress in women’s clothing at work because we want the same level of respect accorded women.” So there was never any real push to relax the restrictions on male business attire, except one: the “internet bubble”.

Perhaps one thing the dot-com boom did that was helpful was to legitimize the idea of a casual office environment. Once everyone in pre-boom brick-and-mortar companies got sort of used to the idea of a bunch of businessmen walking around in pantashorts and “Fuck la mode” t-shirts, it became less atrocious to show up wearing cargos instead of slacks. When every new company had chill rooms and oxygen bars and gyms, it became a lot more easy to accept the idea of an employee leaving his desk once a day to take a ten-minute walk around the block. This is all part of the apparent trend of businesses toward casualness.

Change, though, comes slowly. Especially in the business world. People are still inclined to institute requirements that hearken back to the strictly conservative outfits of victorian England. I never quite understood the logic behind figuring that it was better to do business with a guy in a tie. Meh.

The bottom line is that I’m not supposed to show up at work with my hairy knees and sweaty toes poking out everywhere. But I do anyway, because sometimes I just don’t feel like getting home and needing a bilge pump to get the sweat out of my clothing. I’d like HR to tell me I’m not supposed to wear open-toed shoes to work when all the women here do. I wonder if I’d actually have the guts to put up a stink.

I’m not bothering to put these in chronological order. If you’re interested in knowing when stuff happened, Google is your friend.


Funny thing I’ve noticed: my “fluff” posts, the ones that don’t actually say much, are the ones that seem to get commented on, while the posts where I actually say something seem to go unanswered. Let’s look through my June archives. I’ll discount my own comments in these numbers.

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That Lovely C-Word

There was an article recently about an uproar in Colorado somewhere, because a professor expressed some unpopular opinions on the word “cunt.” Elizabeth Hoffman, president of the University of Colorado and a “medieval scholar,” said that yes, cunt is a swear word, but has much tamer and even affectionate roots. Says she: “I’ve actually heard it used as a term of endearment.”

Cunt is used, for instance, by Chaucer:

And privily he caught her by the queint,
And said; “Y-wis, but if I have my will,
For derne love of thee, leman, I spill.
And helde her fast by the haunche bones,
And saide “Leman, love me well at once,
Or I will dien, all so God me save.”

And another passage:

What aileth you to grudge thus and groan?
Is it for ye would have my queint alone?
Why, take it all: lo, have it every deal,
Peter! shrew you but ye love it well
For if I woulde sell my belle chose,
I coulde walk as fresh as is a rose,
But I will keep it for your owen tooth.

Source: Project Gutenberg

But, of course, the local Up In Arms Association freaked. “Blah dee blah! How dare she demean all women everywhere by suggesting that there is any way to use the c-word other than as a tool of the sexist patriarchy!” Okay, I’m paraphrasing. The actual quote is :

The comment drew the ire of Regina Cowles, president of the Boulder National Organization of Women, who called Hoffman’s response outrageous and not acceptable.

She said Hoffman’s defense of the word, “doesn’t even pass the red-face test.”

“It is so clear what that word is about,” she told the Boulder Daily Camera. “It’s used to dehumanize a woman, and strip her of her decency.”

Yeah. Whatever the hell a “red-face test” is. The school is being sued for failing to protect some girls who were allegedly sexually assaulted by some stupid jocks and the prospective freshmen they were recruiting, you see. So the people on the victims’ side are using everything they can to demonize the school. If they can make a reasonable case of saying that the university president is insensitive to the plight of these poor mistreated girls then it helps their lawsuit.

Yeah, okay, if the football players assaulted some girls then fine, punish them. And if the school turned a blind eye to their “antics” then punish them as well. But don’t use your ignorance of the english language as a bludgeon to try to beat anyone you can. As near as I can tell this Hoffman chick wasn’t defending the actions of the alleged perps, nor was she saying the alleged victims had done anything wrong. She simply “would not say in a sworn deposition whether she considered a certain slur against women ‘vile'”. She said that although “cunt” is a swear word, the actual meaning of it depends on context.

Some different ways of using “cunt”:

  • “That Hoffman woman is such a cunt.”
    Okay, using the word this way could be considered demeaning to women. I don’t think so, but I wouldn’t argue if someone else said so. I get the impression (couldn’t find the details) that the issue is that someone called the alleged victims cunts or something like that.
  • “That Hoffman woman has a sweet cunt.”
    This is just talking dirty. This could be demeaning, or it could be sincere admiration/desire/whatever. Or it could be part of sexual play. All depends on context.
  • “I’ve been trying to print to this printer for an hour, but the cunt just won’t co-operate.”
    Nothing to do with women. Get over yourself.

What is your opinion on the “c-word”? Post a comment, or blog about it and post a link.

In Bed

You know that old game where you make cookie fortunes funnier by adding “in bed” at the end? I think it would be funny if everything that goes wrong in the world were blamed on terrorism. That would amuse me greatly. Here’s some headlines from recent news:

Shit, I could have sworn there was a recent news item about some US government watchdog agency listing the ACLU as a possible terrorist threat, or at least as something that needed to be watched. If anyone knows what I’m talking about, could you please send me a link?

The Rights of the Dead

I was listening to one of my favourite songs today, and it got me thinking: what sort of rights do/should dead people have?

There exist already rules and guidelines. For instance a corpse has the right to not be randomly exhumed, and to not be fucked. Plus, the wishes of the person the deceased used to be are respected, hence the whole “will” thing. But are those unalienable rights? Can I, for instance, state that anybody found violating my corpse by vandalism, graverobbing or necrophagy is to be forgiven? I can already consent to bits of my body being used for medical purposes, why not for entertainment purposes as well? What about if, for whatever reason, I am not capable of consent? Do I then even have the right to write a will, or to place demands on the treatment of my corpse?

There’s another way of looking at it: That after I die my corpse becomes property, and belongs to my heirs. Essentially my corpse has no rights, my heirs do. Then my heirs can do what they want, and hopefully out of respect for me they’ll follow my wishes to the best of their ability. So I may not get that solid gold coffin I wanted, but perhaps they’ll at least paint my pine box yellow. I’ve just got to make sure that I pick an heir who will do things the way I want. And by the time I kick it that may be a very short list of: me.

So let’s suppose I die without an heir. Does my corpse then have no rights? Is it fair game to grave robbers and horny morticians alike? I think I remember hearing that if someone dies without a will and no heirs his assets go to the city or whatever. Are an anonymous DOA patient’s organs up for transplant? If he has a donor card, they’re fair game.

I guess a corpse is a bit like a child, in that it has certain rights regardless of its guardian, and if there is a guardian (read: heir) some of those rights are alienable and the guardian has control over stuff like burial rites. The difference is that the corpse (usually) used to be an adult, with legal decision-making powers. But what I want to know is this: Am I allowed to waive my right to remain undisturbed once buried? Am I allowed to waive my right to not be the subject of necrophilia?

Aw, shit. I just got an image of black-market corpse-whores. Some hapless soul is paid twenty bucks or so for the right to rent their body out after death. Maybe this price varies depending on the attractiveness of the person, and the likelyhood they’ll die young, plus other factors. The body signs a waiver saying he waives his right to not be fucked after death, and when he kicks it the necro-pimp preserves his body as well as he can and rents it out to necrophiliacs for two hundred bucks an hour. I can see the advertising now: “Slap her around as much as you want — she’s already dead!”

This would be a pretty exclusive service. Not many people would be in the program at a time, and they’d have to be discarded before long. So prices might get high once business is rolling, and the payout to the living body would grow. The biggest difficulty would probably not even be in arranging the legalities of the project, but in finding people who are going to leave behind suitable corpses. Suicides seem a natural choice, but they’re not necessarily cooperative. Bah, it’s almost not worth it.