Thursday, April 26, 2007

It's Blo-og, It's Blo-og, It's Big, It's Heavy, It's Wood...

So many of people's blogs out there are about "what I did today", while I usually wait until I actually have something to say before I post something. But not today; this is one of my "you know, I think I really like peanut butter" blogs. Or "YKITIRLPB" blogs, for short.

My work seems to have blocked MySpace. At first I thought it was all the machines, but nope. I know a couple of employees who can still access it, and I know of one other who can't. Usually when they block a site, it blocks it for everyone. So apparently they feel certain specific employees are spending too much time on MySpace. I can't see how; I admit I was checking it for messages now and then throughout the day, but only during downtime. And each visit only took a few seconds - log on, check it, log off.

Well, I do have one alternate theory... I think sometimes my work's content blocker will block sites based on certain keywords on the page. I suppose it's possible there's some ads or something that only show up on mine (and the other blocked employee). But I don't think so - I cleared my cache, and went straight to the main page (, and it's still showing up as "Forbidden".

Jumping the Shark

I really hate the phrase "Jump the Shark". I don't know why; it just gets under my skin. Last night on the TV Guide channel, they had a special on current TV shows they felt had Jumped the Shark, and of course they felt obligated to explain the origin of the phrase (as if anyone watching the thing didn't already know it). In the explanation, they mentioned (without drawing attention to it) that Happy Days ran from 1974-1984, and the JtS episode was in 1977. So Happy Days - one of the most popular TV shows of all time - jumped the shark after three years, and still lasted another seven? That doesn't really fit the generally understood meaning of the phrase.

A friend of mine heard a radio interview with Henry Winkler a while back. Winkler said that at the time of the shark episode, the show hadn't even hit the height of its popularity yet. Usually a show jumps the shark when it's on the way out, and the writers are grasping at straws to save the series. I'll admit the shark episode was a really bad idea for an episode, but as the origin of the phrase, it's an utter misnomer.

The Name Game

Anyway, I've been using "Christine" as my Femme name, but now I'm considering "Madeline". I've always loved the name Christine. Someone asked me if I named myself after Christine Jorgenson, one of the most famous early sex-change recipient. But no, it's just always been my favorite female name, even when I was a kid. Oddly enough, I remember being in elementary school, and thinking that if I ever had a daughter, I'd name her Christine.

But being my favorite name doesn't make it "my" name. I'm finding that I don't really connect to it the way I thought I would. People call out "Christine", and I don't turn my head. Granted, I'm not used to it yet. But still, I don't know. There's a woman at work who calls me "Mattie", and I've found that it really works for me. Of course, a lot of transfolk use the opposite-gendered version of their original name. Anything to make the transition easier.

So I'm keeping Christine - I still have a strong affection for it - but it'll be my middle name. Madeline Christine, "Maddy" for short.

By the way, I think I really like peanut butter.

I'm Not A Weirdo!

...well, no more than usual, anyway.

Just looking at the coverage of the Steve Stanton story (I know, I sound like a broken record), it really bugs me the misconceptions people have about transfolk. The bigots of Largo - and I feel perfectly justified in calling them bigots after hearing their statements - have absolutely no idea what "transgender" even means. People, Stanton is not changing genders so she can wear a leather thong and sing "YMCA". She's not doing this so she can participate in public orgies. She's not doing this so she can wear a Tammy Fay Baker makeup job and parade her transsexuality around town. She's just doing this so she can - someday - live a "normal" life as a normal woman.

People judge transfolk by their most outrageous specimens, the ones who end up on TV. I would imagine that when the average person hears the word "transsexual", what they actually picture is a drag queen. And it makes sense that you don't know what an actual transperson looks like - the most successful transpeople are living ordinary lives in their new gender, and often their newer friends are none the wiser.

I recently read "She's Not There" by Jennifer Finney Boylan. It's a very entertaining autobiography of a transsexual, and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand subject a little better. Anyway, there's a statistic in there I found interesting:
"Professor Lynn Conway at the University of Michigan estimates that there are forty thousand transgendered male-to-females in this country, and that counts only the ones who have already had the surgery. According to Professor Conway, that makes the condition more common than cleft palate and multiple sclerosis."
Note, the book was printed in 2003. I'm sure it's gone up since then.

Which means there's a fair chance that you know someone who wasn't born the sex they are now. That's right, they walk among us! And you might never know, and why would you? For that matter, why should it matter to you? They are who they are; there's no reason to judge them for it. Being a transsexual doesn't make them weirdos, freaks, or sexual deviants. It just means that at some point in their lives, their brains didn't match their bodies.

For those who missed it on my main page, here's The Daily Show's take on the Stanton case:

Monday, April 23, 2007

VA Tech Shooting Caused by Talking Alien Raccoons least, somebody probably thinks so. I'd like to tell you that the actual headlines aren't quite as silly (or in as poor taste), but at this point I honestly can't.

The bodies weren't even cold yet, and the media's biggest attention-hounds were already trying to use the tragedy to support their own agenda. Let's take Jack Thompson, for instance. He hates video games so much, that he scans the newspaper every day for atrocities he can blame on them. So when something like the Virginia Tech shooting happens, good ol' JT already has his speech nearly written; he just has to fill in the specific names and dates. The good news is, nobody has to pay attention to anything Thompson says any more, because you can pretty much guess it. A postal worker goes on a shooting spree? Must have been playing GTA. Peeping tom terrorizes neighborhood? Must've learned his voyeuristic habits from playing The Sims. Obesity on the rise? Blame Pac-Man. World Trade Center attacks? The terrorists must've been playing Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Jack Thompson blames the VA Tech shootings on Counterstrike. Dr. Phil also agrees that video games must have been an influence. Neither has any actual evidence to base this on - no games were found in Cho Seung Hui's possession, and his roommate confirmed that he never saw Cho playing them. But why mess up a perfectly good theory with facts? Meanwhile, Reverend Fred Phelps, head of the charming "God Hates America" and "God Hates Fags" websites, is claiming that the tragedy is yet more evidence that America is being punished for its sins (you know, like tolerating homosexuals)... and is using it as an excuse to disrupt the funerals. And Christian news website "One News Now" somehow managed to blame the shootings on the fact that evolution is being taught in public schools.

When people accuse this of being a "blameless society", it usually means that it's the criminals who come up with excuses for what they've done. But now it's not just the perpetrators making the excuses; everyone wants to get in on the act. Now bear with me. Isn't it possible - even remotely - that the shooting had nothing to do with God or video games or evolution or violent movies or karma or astrology or Harry Potter? Isn't it possible that Cho Seung Hui is just an asshole? Can we please let a tragedy go by without trying to blame it on whatever "hot button" is currently vogue? When you come up with ridiculous objects of blame, all you're doing is helping the criminals by giving them new things to try in court.

Now, I'm all for examining Mr. Hui to find out how his brain works. I'll happily allow my tax dollars to go towards researching the psychopathic mind. Anything to keep this kind of thing from happening again. But Jack Thompson, Fred Phelps, and the rest of these loudmouths aren't trying to probe a killer's mind. They're just furthering their own careers, and playing "the blame game" without a shred of real evidence to support their opinions.

Related Articles/Sites:

Reverend Fred Phelps / God Hates America

Thompson Blames Video Games For Virginia Tech Shooting

Dr. Phil Blames Video Games for Virginia Tech Massacre

Creationist: Teaching 'evolution-only' dampens respect for human life

Warrant Reveals No Games In Cho Seung Hui's Posession

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

The Gambler

*sigh* Okay, okay, I'm not always right.

I've told KJ many times how much her gambling habits annoy me. It's a silly hobby, and statistically it's cheaper to just throw money out the window. On the other hand, I don't mind playing video poker, since it's basically just a video game. And unlike a video game arcade, there is at least the possibility you'll walk out with more money than you had coming in.

So I'm of two minds on it. I still think it's a waste of time, but KJ has fun whether she wins or loses. As long as she's doing it for the fun instead of the money, and she sets aside how much she's going to spend beforehand, I don't mind her gambling that much. Not that I would try to stop her anyway, it's her life.

But I must confess that whenever she comes home emptyhanded, there is a part of me that enjoys saying "I told you so." Which is why this last trip was wonderfully, horribly, blissfully, ironically bittersweet.

Yesterday was KJ's birthday, and she wanted to spend it gambling in Metropolis. We booked a one-night stay at Harrah's hotel, which only cost $20 because of KJ's rewards card. The room was wonderful. Second most comfortable bed we'd ever slept in (the first was the Sheraton in Indianapolis). We had a view of the river, a widescreen TV, and a bathtub I could have used for high diving.

Of course, I don't like casinos. Too noisy. And there's really not much else to do in Metropolis, if you've already been to the Superman museum. But I was two thirds through a great book ("She's Not There" by Jennifer Finney Boylan), and had just purchased Final Fantasy III for my DS. So I was set for the night.

KJ leaves to go gamble. She takes no actual money, just some rewards coupons Harrah's sent her. Probably about $30 worth. A few hours later, I'm finishing up my book, and KJ comes back. She hands me $1100. I tuck $1000 of it away, and she keeps $100 to gamble on later. We go to dinner, which is on the house (another rewards coupon). Afterwards, she gambles away the $100 while I play my DS in the hotel room. I'm asleep by the time she gets in.

After breakfast this morning, KJ went to gamble some more, while I sat in the car playing FFIII. She didn't take any money, just another coupon. This coupon was for a surprise amount, which KJ thought was going to be $5. Well, it turned out to be for $100. A few hours later, my DS was just starting to run low on charge when KJ came back to the car, and handed me another $1000.

So for the price of gas and a $20 for a hotel room, we came home with about $2000. Now I know what this means. Tomorrow KJ has a dentist appointment. I bet the dentist is going to tell her she needs a $2000 dental procedure. That's just how our lives work. Which is a pity, because I really wouldn't mind a TV like the one they had at the hotel, but a few sizes larger. But the bigger tragedy is that for once, I can't say "I told you so."