27 December 2010

Things That Make Me Unsubscribe, Unlike, and Unfollow

-Blog guest posts. I have a short list of blogs I read regularly, and I read them regularly because I enjoy the topics AND the unique viewpoint AND the quality of writing. Don't muck around with this perfect storm by allowing other people's writing to come into my feed under your auspices.

-Creeping photoblogging. Similar to above. I myself don't follow any photoblogs, but some people do. However, using a blog platform you created using your writing as a way to make people look at your photos (no matter how good) is self-indulgent. Put 'em in a separate feed, or just link to your Flickr/Instagram/whatever stream.

-Podcasts and videoblogs. They are an insanely slow way of taking in information, and we hates them. If you must publish them, providing a transcript is not optional. (Note: this applies less to entertainment, more to thoughtful content).

-Contests/deals requiring entrants to retweet your message verbatim or use it as their facebook status. I'm not going to subject my friends or followers to your promotional messages just to win a free copy of your book, free concert tix, etc. Better alternative: require contest entrants to @mention you or link to you in their facebook status - at least this way your fans exercise a little individuality in what they say about you.

-Cluttered blog pages. Unlike many other types of websites (entertainment, gaming, etc.), people are at your blog to read (and maybe share or respond). Make achievement of this goal easy by using a clean design, avoiding over-use of logos and graphics,and minimizing the amount of sales-related content you force on them in the sidebars (Amazon store links, etc.).

-Inappropriate usage of location-aware tools. Right (or at least defensible): checking in on Foursquare to see who else is there. Wrong: routing all check-ins to your facebook/twitter profile. Also applies to trip- and event-planning tools (TripIt, Plancast, etc.)

Short list of other, slightly more venial sins: links in blog posts that don't automatically open in a new tab/window. re-tweeting services that drop off or break the links. profile pics and avatars that don't contain, primarily, your face (logos are acceptable for companies, but not photos of your children, pets, etc.). non-ironic use of 'hubby', DH, 'my lady' and similar ways to refer obliquely to your significant other.

10 December 2010

On Infatuation

Experienced an immediate (although brief) infatuation with the coffee shop guy today because I admired the enthusiasm and élan he showed in taking my latte order. I used to be embarrassed about the ease and alacrity with which I develop crushes, but I've found that all forms of love (even silly infatuations) are doors to spiritual growth, since they represent a sudden seeking for something we deeply desire but didn't even realize we were missing. Like an artist obsessed with a beautiful (or ugly) face glimpsed for a moment on the subway, the fixation lasts until we identify and internalize whatever unique quality caught our mind's eye. Once the artist has successfully rendered his vision into art, made it tangible and therefore able to be possessed, the obsession lifts.

Except when it doesn't. Sometimes a face casually encountered takes on the character of a muse, propelling the artist along through sketch after sketch, each effort incomplete, capturing and possessing an aspect of the desired but never the entirety. Marriage may be the only solution for an artist or lover in this position, securing access to the beloved for eternity, which will still be an insufficient amount of time to process and absorb the many uniquenesses of the desired one.

12 July 2010

The Ladies' Man: Taxonomical Distinctions

I recently watched The Perfect Husband (as part of my ongoing Tim Roth infatuation) and had some thoughts about different types of "Ladies' Men." The words below (Don Juan, Lothario, Casanova) are usually used as rough synonyms, but in my research I discovered entirely different emotional tones:

The Don Juan (or Lothario, if you prefer), is a serial womanizer - his career is built on a pattern of taking advantage of women's affections, generally leaving them in the lurch when the inevitable yearning for the next conquest begins. The Don Juan's focus is fundamentally on the use of (large numbers of) sexual conquests to prove his own masculinity and success as a man. (He's well-acquainted with a relentless internal monologue on the topic of his own inferiority as a man; more often than not, this inner voice is the voice of his father.) His lovers often live to regret their dalliances with him, particularly as Don Juans are master manipulators of feminine emotions and inclined to be irresponsible about such matters as discretion and birth control.

The Casanova is no seeker of self-aggrandizement; his goal is simply (and magnificently) 'salvation through love.' He genuinely loves women and enjoys their company; each of his affairs (and he has many - some brief, some extended, very often concurrent) is truly a love affair. Nevertheless, since no woman can replace her whose love really is capable of granting salvation - his mother, either in warm childhood memories or in wistful childhood imagination - each affair ends in its time, usually with care taken to minimize harm (emotional or social) to the woman. Casanova's affairs are subject to recurrence years or decades later, because he leaves behind him a warm affection that is easily rekindled.

Additional distinctions:

A Don Juan is preoccupied with his own manliness, so is prone to other manly excesses such as fighting, over-indulging in drink, etc. A Casanova prefers the company of women, since men have nothing to offer him in his quest, so eschews many traditional strongholds of masculinity; hunting and brawling have little appeal. In fact, the sexual orientation of a Casanova may, from time to time, be called into question for this reason.

For a Don Juan, sexual pleasure is of secondary concern, and is liable to get lost in the need to demonstrate sexual prowess; he's likely to be an aggressive and persistent (but not especially skilled or subtle) lover. A Casanova views sex as an expression of the (often short-term but still real) love between the parties, and is also likely to have made love with any number of older women in his youth; he's usually a skilled and sensitive lover, knowledgeable in the ways of pleasuring a woman.

Given his obsession with his own status, a Don Juan tends to pursue young women of great beauty, high social status, etc. ; naturally these affairs must become known by at least some, in order to serve their purpose as marks on the Don Juan's personal scorecard. A Casanova is minimally interested in social perceptions of his affairs, and indeed tends to be quite discreet; his lovers may vary considerably in age, personal beauty and social standing.

Anyone care to suggest some further distinctions or subtypes?

19 February 2010

Why Can't Women Ski Jump in the Olympics?

As part of my ongoing indignation about how female athletes are treated in the Olympics, I researched this question, and found a helpful Time article by Claire Suddath outlining the efforts made to bring women's ski jump to Vancouver in 2010:

The IOC announced its original decision to exclude women jumpers from the Vancouver Olympics back in 2006. At the time, a women's world championship didn't exist yet and females had only been participating in the FIS Continental Cup — a notch below a world championship — for two years. The sport didn't have very many high-profile, FIS-sanctioned competitions, but that too may have been due to gender bias. In 2005, Gian Franco Kasper, FIS president and a member of the IOC [International Olympic Committee], said that he didn't think women should ski jump because the sport "seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view."
Suddath goes on to discuss the 2009 lawsuit filed in Vancouver by ten female ski jumpers against the IOC. (As it turned out, the British Columbia Supreme Court determined that it didn't have jurisdiction over international organizations, even though the IOC's actions were a clear violation of Canada's civil rights laws.)
So will the IOC approve women's ski jump for 2014? "We'll have to wait and see," IOC member Dick Pound said in an interview [...]. "If in the meantime you're making all kinds of allegations about the IOC and how it's discriminating on the basis of gender," he warned, "the IOC may say, 'Oh yeah, I remember them. They're the ones that embarrassed us and caused us a lot of trouble of trouble in Vancouver, maybe they should wait another four years or eight years.'"
It's too bad that no country's civil rights protections can touch the IOC, because I'm pretty sure this statement is an illegal threat of retaliation for an attempt to correct discriminatory practices.

(I was reading along with this article, nodding violently, right up until the final paragraph. Ironically, Suddath ends the article by noting that for now, "the girls remain on the sidelines." Really? After detailing the way the IOC has been making decisions about what events are or aren't safe for female athletes for almost 100 years now, doesn't it seem at all inappropriate to refer to these athletes as 'girls'?)

Incidentally, over at Feministing they're having a discussion about how come, after the men's luge starting point was lowered to the women's starting point following the death of luger Nodar Kumaritashvili during training, the women were forced to start from the 'junior' start point. I haven't found a definitive answer as to why the women are supposed to start at a lower point than the men in the first place; the commenters at the link above seem to think it's about the lower average body weight of the female competitors. The women lugers, particularly the German competitors, were mightily pissed off about the change. I'm tempted to say they're probably feeling a bit better after taking the gold and bronze medals, but probably they're still mad; I would be.

Update: Insightful Sociological Images post on the role of weight (and gender) in Olympic ski jumping:
Sociologists recognize sport as a terrain on which social claims about gender are demonstrated.  Not letting women play is one way that the mythology of men’s physical dominance has been maintained.