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Archive for the ‘Biography’ Category

In the Gilligan’s Island TV show, Dr. Roy Hinkley was originally stated to be a high-school science teacher with a degree in botany.  But like all TV “scientists” his store of knowledge and his technical abilities grew as required by lazy writers; he soon became a university professor rather than a high-school teacher and his expertise grew to include chemistry, entomology, psychology, engineering and several obscure Polynesian languages (and that’s just what I recall from childhood).  Whatever intellectual ability or STEM-type skill was required by the plot, the Professor was sure to have already or be able to rapidly acquire by consulting one of the many books he inexplicably brought along on a “three-hour tour”; that he not be skilled in boat repair was also required by the plot, so we’ll just leave that one alone for now.  The important thing is that in episodic fiction (whether that be television, comic books, pulp novels or whatever) “scientist” or “sage” type characters are generally assumed to have vast and encyclopedic knowledge and to be nigh-omnicompetent (Spock in Star Trek wasn’t quite as bad until the third season, when he suddenly acquired previously-unmentioned competencies such as comparative linguistics and art history, again as required by lazy writers).  Such formidable intellectual prowess rarely exists outside of fantasy, and yet you’d be amazed how often people in real life seem to expect unusually intelligent and erudite people to display similarly-superhuman intellectual abilities.  It happens to me on a regular basis; people seem to expect me to know basically everything, and while I certainly do have an exceptional memory, an excellent education, an uncannily-large store of mostly-useless trivia and an above-average learning rate, there are still vast gaps in my abilities and whole intellectual realms I know no more about than the average person (or even less than average if it has anything to do with popular culture from about 1995 to the present).  One of those gaps is computer stuff; in 1989 I actually had above-average practical computer skills (though I had flunked programming half a decade before), but I never really kept up and I’m still not entirely sure how a microprocessor actually works (THIS IS NOT AN INVITATION TO ATTEMPT AN EXPLANATION IN THE COMMENTS).  Add to that the fact that my brain was already fully canalized several years before I had home access to the internet, a general aversion to change, and a neurological & emotional inability to deal with formal systems, and I think you’ll be able to understand why I’m really not good with computer and internet stuff.  And because I am good at so many things, I tend to be very uncomfortable with and anxious about the things I’m not good at.  I tend to deal with obstacles in my path by figuring them out, charming them, intimidating them, or crying, and none of those work on a computer which is doing something I neither desire nor comprehend.  So if you want to interview me or have me on your podcast or whatever, you are really really really going to have to take care of “the technical details of anything more complicated than ‘click here’, ‘please look into the camera’ or ‘answer the phone’.”  I’m sorry if that reduces me in your estimation; perhaps it would restore your faith if you think of computer stuff being for me as boatbuilding must have been for The Professor.

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The war on guns, like the war on drugs, is primarily waged on poor people.  –  Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg

Doris Day, who passed away this week at the ripe old age of 97, was probably my mother’s favorite singer; I remember her singing “Que Sera, Sera” so often when I was a child that I knew the lyrics by heart before I started school (and it’s one of the few popular songs entirely within my rather-limited vocal range).  So it only seems appropriate to feature a recording of that song as this week’s video; the link above it were provided by SWOP Behind Bars, Tim Cushing, C.J. Ciaramella, Elizabeth N. Brown, Radley Balko, and Tim Cushing again (in that order).

From the Archives

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After a week of events and misadventures, it was good to get back to my normal routine for a few days.   The night I got home I wasted a perfectly good buzz on falling asleep like a log, and for the next few night couldn’t even stay awake through my usual bedtime TV show.  But I caught up on my sleep, had a good week of work, solidified a lot of travel plans and event arrangements, saw The War on Whores become available on Amazon, enjoyed a Doctor Who night with Lorelei and then yesterday got up much too early to do a remote-via-internet Q&A session after a screening of The War on Whores at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in Bangkok, Thailand (made possible by your generous support!) So that was my week, and this one looks to be not-dissimilar; I’m enjoying the relative quiet and normality before I have to start traveling again next week!

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As I briefly mentioned on Friday, last week’s travels did not go well; every single flight went from wide open when I scheduled it to tight by the time I checked in 24 hours in advance, to nigh-impossible by the time I arrived at the airport.  On Tuesday, my flight from Minneapolis was delayed for just long enough to cause me to miss my connection to St. Louis by minutes, then the next flight was delayed by hours (and it was a rough landing too).  Then on Thursday both I and an air hostess were booted off of our flight to Chicago, and there were no other flights that day which weren’t horribly overbooked, so I had to do another one-way car rental and invited the lady to ride with me (which actually turned into a fun little adventure as we quickly made friends during the drive).  Then driving back from Bloomington to O’Hare on Sunday I got a brief scare; I was cruising along with the traffic coming into Chicago (fairly heavy but not slow) in the left lane when I heard a crash behind me; a glance in the rear-view mirror revealed that the driver of the car immediately behind me (maybe 30 meters back) had lost control, crossed the shoulder and crashed into the concrete guardrail.  My guess is that he was both texting and going too fast, glanced up and realized he was about to rear-end me, and then lost control while trying to swerve and brake; I shudder to think what would’ve happened had he not glanced up in time to wreck only his own car and not my rental as well.  It certainly didn’t do my nerves any good; I had been watching the flight loads grow increasingly worse for the previous several days, and none of the backup flights looked any better.  But apparently Aphrodite interceded with Hermes on my behalf, and four people ahead of me must have missed their connections or something because I got onto my flight at literally the last minute (as in, the gate agent walked me down the jetway herself and closed the door behind us, and I had barely time to get settled in and take my meds before the captain announced we were about to depart).

But while the travels were difficult, the events were great!  My Minnesota State event on Monday had the largest attendance yet, and my St. Louis crowd was very enthusiastic and not much smaller; I got to meet Dr. Eric Sprankle and spend some time with my friends Kendra Holliday and David Wraith in St. Louis, and then made some new friends at the Libertarian party convention in Bloomington.  My talk was very well-received, and the audience questions at all three events were top-notch and thoughtful.  On Saturday evening I got sort of roped into being the auctioneer for a fundraising auction, but even though I’ve never been an auctioneer before I am a fast learner and it was a lot of fun (and two of the items were my own books!)  So in the end I would call the week a definite success; I just hope Hermes is done playing tricks on me now!  If you’d like to help make future events like the Minnesota State & Sex Positive St. Louis screenings possible (eg SWOP Behind Bars in Florida in June, and Woodhull conference in August), or to soothe my frazzled nerves from my travel misadventures, please donate to my fundraiser!  And don’t forget that even though GoFundMe won’t let me list the rewards for donations on their own page, those rewards definitely do exist and we’ll be starting to send them out in just a few weeks!

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It’s not often that I miss doing a (proper) column, but it does happen from time to time.  This week, I had a lot of traveling to do – to Minnesota State in Mankato (by way of Dallas and Minneapolis), then to St. Louis (by way of Chicago), then back to Chicago, then to Bloomington today.  And though I managed to make all of my appointments, it was not easy because apparently Hermes is not happy with me and has played tricks with my travel almost every day since Saturday.  So I’m writing this just a few hours before post time, and I’m too damned tired and have to get up too early to actually manage anything more than a quick note to let y’all know I’m fine, to share a pretty picture taken in Minneapolis airport too damned early last Tuesday morning, to promise that I’ll tell y’all all about the week on this coming Tuesday, and to ask that y’all reward my efforts and make more such efforts possible by donating to my fundraiser.

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Diary #461

Flying standby has its advantages, such as being able to change arrangements or make new ones at a moment’s notice, and often getting first class without having to pay first-class prices.  But one of its bad points is that one can get booted off of a flight which looked fine the day before, and then one needs to scramble to figure out how to avoid getting stranded in some airport with no immediate way to get t one’s destination.  All of my arrangements for this week of travel were easy-peasy and as of this writing still look very clear, with one exception:  I could not figure out how to get to Minneapolis.  Every combination I looked at was booked up, and though it wasn’t as bad as my return from San Francisco two weeks ago, it was bad enough to make me very nervous indeed.  Finally I decided to ask for Ghost Rider’s help, and though the plan he came up with did indeed work (I wrote this last night in a hotel room in Minneapolis), it required going without sleep Saturday so I could make it to the airport in time for a 5:40 AM flight to Dallas.  Steerage seats are apparently designed to be as uncomfortableas possible, and since they don’t recline any longer there’s not really a way for a princess like me to sleep any better than she could on a whole crateful of peas.  I didn’t think I was going to make it onto the Dallas to Minneapolis flight, and in fact when the wonderful, beautiful gate agent called my name to tell me that I had indeed made it, I was working out the logistics of flying into Sioux Falls, South Dakota and then getting a one-way car rental to Minneapolis to pick up the rental I had already paid for to get to Mankato!  But that wasn’t necessary, and today I’ll be presenting The War on Whores at Minnesota State at 4 PM in the Ostrander Auditorium in the Centennial Student Union.  Then on Wednesday evening at 7 pm I’ll be presenting the film for Sex Positive St. Louis in the Brown Hall Auditorium at Washington University in St. Louis.  Both of these FREE screenings were sponsored by my respective hosts and made possible by the fundraiser y’all have been so generous about supporting!  Then on Saturday I’ll be speaking at the Libertarian Party of Illinois convention at the Parke Regency hotel in Bloomington, Illinois (not far from Chicago), and returning home on Sunday afternoon.  Watch this space for more screenings, such as Tampa, Orlando & Miami in June, the Woodhull Sexual Freedom summit in the DC area in August, and then a sponsored screening for Reason (also in DC) probably in September.  And with any luck those flights will be much less hassle to arrange.

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Diary #460

I’ve been feeling kinda weird the past couple of weeks; my mood is just fine all day, but then about 9 PM I start to get anxious for no particular reason.  So one night last week, I mentioned this to Matisse, and she asked if it had anything to do with the increasing daylight, which of course it does so why didn’t I think of that myself?  I mean, it’s my pineal gland being overstimulated, after all.  The only thing I can guess is that it’s partly because the days are so much longer so much earlier this far north than they are in the land of my birth, and also perhaps because it’s still pretty cold here even though it’s light until practically 8 PM, and that confuses my brain.  And because my brain doesn’t like being confused, I get extra-anxious.  That’s my theory, anyhow, and in the absence of other information it’s as good as any.  Anyhow, it only seems to affect me when I’m alone; on nights when I’ve been with friends or gentlemen, I don’t notice it.  So it probably won’t bother me next week while I’m in Minnesota & Illinois, but if it does, well, better living through chemistry, you know?

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