Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Idea of Love

As a young man, there were two women that I fell in love with, for worse rather than better. In retrospect, looking back through the years, as I listen to "Too Hot," by Kool & the Gang, which always brings back memories of love, I think I was in love not so much with the women, but more so with the idea of love, being a romantic fool. The individuals were, as it turns out, no better or worse than any other person I might pass on the street at random nor any more attractive. But the cumulative effect of a lifetime of rock-n-roll songs, television shows and movies, books and in particular Jane Austin did have an effect, and I wanted to see what all the singing was about; the women were my mistakes.

Knowing what I do know now of these women, I am glad they are not with me now, because I think they were shrews that would make life not worth living. I look with fondness, not at memories of them, execrable memories, but at the years and distance that separate us, and am more than happy to have been forgotten.

Another reason I remember them at all, besides songs from the Eighties, are stories I wrote that were never published, because like the subjects, they were execrable. Publishers said what I should have said in the first moment of acquaintance. If the DNA ain't right, no amount of effort can breathe life into the sorry lump of clay.

Here's an excerpt that's about as good as any other.

She dropped me off at my home, claiming she needed to run errands by herself. I showered and went to bed, napping four hours. After waking, I called her, and she volunteered to pick me up. I dressed again and went out to the front porch where I waited until she arrived. When she picked me up, I noticed her mood had changed from before. She appeared distracted and gave little input to my attempts at conversation. I offered to treat us to a dinner at a restaurant, which she rejected, or even to rent a hotel room, with the obvious implications, which was also rejected, though not out of any concern over sex. She popped in a tape of Jimmy Buffet and turned up the volume in order to silence me. With no particular place to go, she drove around aimlessly for the greater part of an hour through downtown and then across the bridge to the neighboring city.

Around midnight, she parked in the lot of an apartment complex. I asked her why we had stopped. Instead of replying, she kissed me with passion, pushing her tongue into my mouth. I embraced her. We frenched for what seemed like hours. Sometime in the night, we heard loud voices outside and saw the figures of four young men climbing into a pickup parked beside us. They could see nothing inside her car, because our heavy breathing had misted every square inch of every window. They drove off without comment. I could not resist chuckling, and she smiled too. Our passion had protected us.

I leaned back in my seat, exhausted, but she pulled my shirt up in order to taste me. I reached into her pants, but she pushed me back into my seat and knelt over me, unbuttoning my jeans. Suffice to say, neither of us were in a hurry. At the crucial moment, she sat up in her seat, watching with curiosity as the crisis passed.

She pointed to the time, claiming it was late, and drove to a convenience store, where we purchased sodas. She drove to the old historic district and began driving with no particular place to go. Between an old couple silence is nothing. Between new lovers, thorny questions arise in the silence. I sensed danger. I couldn’t see her face. Only streetlights broke the darkness in her car. There were no other cars on the street. There was no one walking along the sidewalks. The electronic clock in her dashboard read 02:41. We were both tired. I wanted to be in bed. This was all wrong.

She spoke in a tone conveying the gravity of what she had on her mind. “Listen. There’s something I have to tell you. I hope you don’t get mad at me when you hear it. I don’t want to hurt you. I like you a lot. It’s just that there is someone else. I knew him before I met you.”

The him was a her, and she was just dipping her toe in the ocean of heterosexuality out of Catholic guilt and to appease her parents; blah, de blah, de blah, de blah. Her deeds weren't as remarkable as me taking hundreds of precious hours to commit the memory into amateurish prose. That was the truly astounding part, the sitting down at a keyboard to write about something that was worth little more than a dismissive chuckle between hits of ganja.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Sunday, March 28, 2010

School Sucked

Stories of the Bible, mythology and tales of the supernatural were my favorite reading material as a boy. I remember being far in the outfield during a tee-ball game and thinking not about the game, which seemed unimportant, but about entities that might contact me, for reasons I couldn't begin to understand, and what they might be like, and what they might say, and what powers they might be willing to share to get me out of difficult situations, such as when a ball dropped near me. I missed about three out of four fly balls, even the easy ones, and in truth all fly balls are easy. Back then I was afraid of the ball and thought it might hit me, and at any rate was uncoordinated and had difficulty performing any type of athletic maneuver, a damning fate for a boy. I envied the girls and thought they had an easier life by far, not being expected to do any of the things that I was expected to do.

My school years were difficult due to bullying, which overshadowed other aspects of school life, but the academic curriculum was easy, being little more than rehashes of previous material with a few new concepts thrown in on rare occasion and all of it taught at a snail's pace. I consider the twelve years in school as having been wasted on meaningless humiliations and degradations. None of the administrators, teachers or other students opposed the bullies, but sometimes the teachers and administrators were themselves bullies, because the staff was rife with rednecks. Concerned people such as my parents would ask me how my day went, and I would say it was hell. The better days were only boring, but the worse days were marked by bruises, physical or spiritual. Betrayals were common, friends becoming enemies just to curry favor with the more popular or else the stronger. There was no homosexual presence among the staff; every employee was at least nominally heterosexual or else maintained an impenetrable shield about their personal life, ensuring that I would feel like an alien from Mars. Growing up under such circumstances, I can see why X led to Y and then Z, and it seems to me, the field was sown and plowed by careless hands, and the scant harvest was their deserves.

I have an open mind when it comes to parents that abandon the public school system to try an alternative educational strategy such as private schools or even home-schooling. Home schooling is not just for religious fundamentalists that fear sex education and evolution. It is not just for racists that hate the presence of minority races. It is also for parents that don't want to put their kids in an environment where they will be unprotected from bullies. And the curriculum of some schools is a joke to say the least. Instead of future leaders, they train future Wal-Mart greeters.
by igor 04:20 4 replies by igor 09:32 0 comments

Saturday, March 27, 2010

How to Disable StickyKeys in Windows

Occasionally in Windows XP, StickyKeys gets confused. Even though it is turned off, it decides, on its own, to turn all of its features on. Why? No reason. Just because. Attempting to remove it via the Control Panel | Accessibility Options does not always work.

Here is the trick. If Accessibility Options fails to update the Registry properly, do it yourself. Go to Start | Run | and type in regedit. Find [HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Accessibility\StickyKeys ] and set the value "Flags"="506". Say goodbye to the annoyance.

Thanks and credit to Annie Cardenas.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Free Desktop Wallpaper

Looking for wallpaper for your desktop? Try this tasteful and non-commercial site, which is quite a rarity. I don't even remember how I found it. It is not one of the top google searches for wallpaper.

Greasle's hobby's [sic]

Of course, I can't be certain there are no ads, because I use Ad Blocker.

Not only does he offer wallpaper based upon masterpieces by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, but beautiful, unsigned, perfect, high-resolution fractals.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

FOX News has a Little Surprise in Store

I used to think of FOX News as the press of Hell, but apparently, they are in favor of the liberalization of Prohibition, which sends me for a loop. I have difficulty reconciling their right-wing views with a solitary enlightened view regarding the wasteful Drug War. Perhaps this precious unicorn represents a minority viewpoint within FOX News, a clique of high-level executives who recognize Prohibition for what it is.

There has long existed a respectable conservative intellectual underpinning for the fight against Prohibition, to be found in Wm. Buckley and his successors, though they always seemed to me to be rather muted and ineffective in their criticism of the Drug War, while being much more vocal on other issues, where they were wrong. In particular, I remember an editorial penned by Buckley and published in my local newspaper, the only Buckley editorial I ever agreed with, in which he pleaded for reduced sentences for marijuana users. Instead of five years imprisonment, he wanted something like a hundred-dollar fine. Even George Will once wrote in defense of a marijuana grower who had been busted because a police helicopter inspected his property without a warrant. George Will made quite clear that he believed the grower deserved punishment. His only objection was to the warrantless search, which he felt was grounds for dismissal of the case. Conservatives sweat bullets at the thought that someone, somewhere, might imagine they have a thinking mind and a beating heart. They always want to appear in step with revered authority figures, even when they criticize certain policies that offend their conscience.

News from Moscow

The idolization of Stalin is a bad sign from the city that denied gays the right to march in a peaceful demonstration.

Monday, March 22, 2010

How to Remove "Send Link" in Firefox

"Send Link" is a pernicious trap for Firefox users that appears whenever the right mouse button is clicked on a link. If this option is chosen, Internet Explorer may load over fifty instances of itself, requiring a power-down of the computer in order for the user to regain control.

The following fix works in Firefox 3.6 and probably previous versions.

In Windows Explorer, navigate to the "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox" folder. Search for "userchrome*.css". (However, see the note below about a possible alternative location.) You may find a file named "userchrome-example.css". Open that file up in a text editor such as Wordpad. Opening it in Notepad may prove problematic due to the way the program interprets certain characters. Add the following text:

/* Remove 'Send Link' from context menu*/
menuitem#context-sendlink {
display: none !important;

Save the file in the same directory* as "userchrome.css".

From now on, no more "Send Link," which was always a bad idea in the first place. I believe it is an option added by Microsoft Office, although I'm not sure.

There may be complications to this fix. On one computer, I discovered that userchrome.css lives in a different place, in the "Documents and Settings" folder. To determine where Firefox polls your userchrome.css, go to Tools | Error Console and enter the following:

alert(Components.classes["@mozilla.org/file/directory_service;1"].getService(Components.interfaces.nsIProperties).get("ProfD", Components.interfaces.nsIFile).path);

This will reveal the precise location of userchrome.css.

*On my computer, the directory was "C:\Program Files\Mozilla Firefox\defaults\profile\chrome".

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Are U.S. Pot Laws the Root Cause of Mexican Drug Violence?

In a word, yes.

If pot were legal, the drug cartels south of the Border would fall like a house of cards. But one can never tell a Prohibitionist that the way to win a war is not to fight it. The Prohibitionist prefers tilting at windmills like Don Quixote.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Queer the Census

The Boston Edge web site has an article about what the U.S. Census means for gays. Gays can even order a free sticker to affix to their Census form. I plan to participate. Census data is used in innumerable studies in academia and elsewhere. It is of great importance to the country.

The Evils of Drink, Revisited

Before you ask, no, I'm not making this up.

Man attacks police officer with penis.

Food for Thought

The Party for Socialism and Liberation (PSL) is new to me. I just discovered their web site today when I clicked on a news article regarding a lesbian student in Mississippi who was denied the right to take her partner to the high school Prom.

I agree.

In my day, growing up gay, I did not attend any proms. Not even one. The straight kids were the ones that got excited about the prom and about dating. As for me, there was not much dating. High school represented wasted time. There was no learning, no dating, and little of anything other than marking time in a classroom presided over by a warden (called a teacher) in order to earn a diploma of little value toward getting a job. I would have liked to have had some dating, at least. That would have made the teenage years a bit more interesting. The prom would have been a good, safe place to take a date.

The BBC printed a great article on the controversy that should not be a controversy.

After reading the article, I decided to poke about the PSL web site and see what it was all about. I didn't care for PSL's talk about Revolution or the idolization of Castro*. However, this page critiquing the American government makes good points. While I do not endorse the site, I found it interesting. The writing is of a good quality**. I wish they didn't splash red and angry words everywhere, but I suppose that is the traditional style of old-school commies.

It does disturb me that money plays such a big role in elections. I wish that our government was organized more like Canada's, so that small parties could win at least minimal representation in Congress. We could have a viable Green party, Marijuana party, and more. The more parties, the merrier, as far as I'm concerned. This business of having only Democrats and Republicans is stodgy and dodgy. What does party mean anymore?

*As for Castro, he sounds like a louse. Release the political prisoners! I will never understand why radicals discredit themselves by idolizing tyrants. By doing so, they play right into the hands of their supposed enemies.

**The authors at PSL write better than a certain Prohibition opponent, whose petition on Change.org I declined to sign, because it was ungrammatical. I spent an hour rewriting the petition for her so that she would not appear an illiterate pothead. Her reply? "I like it just the way it is. I don't want it to sound like a business letter. Besides, I'm a published author with three books to my name. But thank you for your email and good luck with your future endeavors." Condescending ingrate! That should be the last time I volunteer my proofreading services to anyone on the web. I only did it for her because I happened to agree with what she was saying, but not how she was saying it.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Vacation Destination Advice

The countries in blue deserve patronage and affection. If you are fortunate enough to have the time and money, shower them with your tourist dollars and your charity. The orange regions may be considered moderate or otherwise. I would never choose to visit the barbaric countries in red, pink and dark red.

Related news: Cambodia?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Older Gays Coming Out for the First Time

With all the media attention focused on younger gays, it is refreshing to see an article in the Associated Press about elderly people who are coming out for the first time.

I have had a bad experience with linking to AP articles. Typically, after a month or two, the links become defunct. I hope this one lasts. If not, search for "Gay seniors come out late, start second lifetime," by Matt Sedensky, reporting from Miami, Florida. It is quite a good read.

I think I had better read more about this "Male Lesbian Complex" mentioned in Sedensky's article. Hmm. I do wish the psychological establishment could render a more pleasant-sounding description than "Complex". Is it really so complex? Of course, psychologists use the word "complex" in the sense of a structure, which begs the question, how was the structure built--and why? The word "Complex" has a bad reputation due to its association with the Oedipus Complex. In my opinion, the word should be abandoned altogether, because it is a superfluous noun appended to self-sufficient phrases. If one thinks of a man as being a kind of male lesbian, why not call him that? Why the "Complex?" I think the word is used for show. "Complex" has scientific connotations in the realm of molecular chemistry. Psychologists are painfully aware that psychology is far from a science, and their desperate yearning for scientific credibility tempts them to borrow scientific terminology, whether necessary or not, in order to improve their standing in public opinion.

The media does a fairly good job reporting on gays these days, far better than in the paranoid past, when we were maligned as everything bad under the sun. I do remember those days, as I was a child and teenager then and grew up with the sense that the world was against me, because it was so written in the local newspaper, in magazines, on television, and everywhere, and reinforced in school and at home.

The strangest thing of all is how widespread a slur against a group of people can become, so that almost everybody, however educated and intelligent, believes in it. The lie detector in many people is not very advanced at all. Evil-doing on a vast scale becomes possible when many people cling to falsehoods. Therein lies the potential for the self-destruction of our species.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

A Duplicate Image Finder and a Screensaver

I find two PC applications to be indispensable for my art collection--a screen saver and a dupe finder.

"Screen saver" is a bit of a misnomer these days. In the early days of computing, users like yours truly relied upon CRT monitors, which were vulnerable to image "burn-in" if the display remained unchanged over a weekend. After burn-in, a ghost of the image lingered until the monitor was replaced. A wise programmer invented the screen saver to draw fresh new graphics on the display after a predetermined period of inactivity, a technique which avoided the dread burn-in by changing each of the pixels at a regular interval.

These days, people use screen savers not to protect their LCD monitors, but for the sake of appearance and beauty. Screen savers have achieved a high level of artistry. However, I prefer a screen saver that displays art by actual artists, like the type one finds in a museum. I do not care for special effects. All I want is art. Show me a masterpiece for 45 seconds, then zip to the next one without any fuss. Nothing is better for a party than a fully automated art show.

Duplicate images are not much of a problem in the early stages of an art collection. But when one's collection exceeds a thousand pictures, dupe creep rears its ugly head. Some may argue that the occasional duplicate is a trivial concern, because today's hard drives are vast, and images consume little space. That much is true. Duplicate images are a problem when one uses a screen saver to display the art collection. Dupes cause certain images to appear more often than others.

ACDSee, my current image viewer of choice, has a dupe-finding tool that I have used for many years. However, it only detects exact matches, not similar images. If a nerd has added a frame to a picture, altered the resolution by one pixel, inserted annoying text into the picture (or EXIF info to a JPEG), then such a dupe is no longer an exact match, but merely similar, which poses a problem for those of us who obtain art through the web. Also, I do not wish to retain lower resolution versions of similar images. I only want to keep the best-looking version or else the one with the most descriptive title. If someone has affixed their web site url onto a picture, like a barbarian, then that will be the version I discard.

The most common transgression of geeks who do not understand the meaning or purpose of art is to insert annoying text into a painting. The JPEG format was designed with a view toward eliminating that vice. The EXIF portion of a JPEG permits the insertion of many different fields of text. EXIF data is hidden from the casual observer, but readable by any image viewer worth its salt. One of the reasons I went hunting for a good dupe finder was to locate duplicates of otherwise good pictures that have been marred by someone who did not bother to use EXIF. These go directly to the trashcan.

I required a utility that detects similar images, and after much searching, I finally found a suitable solution in Dup Detector 3.0, a fine old piece of freeware made in 2002 by Prismatic Software. It required the better part of a night to analyze a large library of art, but when I woke up in the morning, almost all the work was done. In a directory of 15,000 pictures, it nailed 286 similar (not identical) images that ACDSee failed to find. However, it is prone to crashing under Windows XP SP3.

As for screen savers, I prefer Gphotoshow. It is true that my image viewer, ACDSee, has a built-in screen saver. However, like many of ACDSee's tools, it is inferior to a stand-alone product. In addition, my version of ACDSee tends to crash at random moments. Eventually, I plan to switch over to Irfanview, which may prove to be a more stable product.

The problem with ACDSee's screen saver is that it requires that photos be added inside the ACDSee utility. Adding a collection of over a thousand images causes an almighty hiccup. The dreaded hourglass appears and does not go away for quite some time. It is not a once-only procedure. Each time images are added, this function must be performed. That is why I no longer use ACDSee's screen saver. Gphotoshow allows the simple designation of a directory pathname, from which it will select a random image on the fly. The options can be changed through the Windows Control Panel, which is not possible with ACDSee's product. Gphotoshow is everything one could ever want in a screen saver.

ACDSee has always seemed focused upon superficial issues relating to look and feel rather than improving essential utilities. That is why I recommend Irfanview to other users. It may not be better than ACDSee, but then again, it might be, for all I know. I plan to give it a try next time I install a Windows OS.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Schizophrenia Claim, Revisited

The mainstream media is in a tizzy again over research that appears to make an association between cannabis use and schizophrenia.

NORML smashes the lies to bits.

I find NORML to be one of the better blogs on the Internet in terms of writing, research, focus, and persuasiveness.

Schizophrenia has always been a problematic diagnosis in psychology. Some people do not believe that it exists, or that the definition is too broad. There are too many variables at play in the human brain. "One size fits all" seldom fits anyone. The media seems to be unaware of any such difficulty, reporting on schizophrenia as though it possessed as firm a definition as herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). However, the main problem with mainstream media stories on cannabis is that they confuse association with causation, a common error by novices who do not understand how very difficult it is to ever really know something.

Here is the crux of the matter in regard to the cannabis-schizophrenia association documented by researchers in various countries. Those content with their life are unlikely to try inebriating substances of any variety. Those who are not content turn to medicine to heal what ails them. Some turn to traditional caregivers, such as doctors. However, a lack of health insurance causes many to seek remedies of their own. Many turn to alcohol. Others may turn to herbal medicine. Or they may pop pills, legal or not. Many resort to cannabis use, because cannabis is known to have few side effects in comparison to alcohol. Thus, when studying a large group of cannabis users, or for that matter, any class of drug users, one is bound to encounter a higher percentage of those with a different psychology, for example, what traditional psychologists term "schizo," whatever that means (there are conflicting ideas on this topic). Those who sought illegal remedies to self-medicate are unlikely to be receiving much help from the medical profession. Therefore, their prognosis is bound to be poorer than those who refrain from non-prescribed medications. It would be a step in the right direction for writers at popular media outlets to grasp at a minimum the logic contained within this paragraph before attempting to cover scientific research on this topic. But the media is more concerned with grabbing eyeballs to increase revenue, rather than printing anything that approximates the truth. The only news I ever watch on television anymore is "The Daily Show," which comes closer to reality than any of the other shows.

In the past, the media has reported that cannabis caused male sterility, homosexuality, pacifism, aggression, communism, violence, "amotivational syndrome," and a myriad of other supposed malignancies originating from the paranoid fears of the prohibitionists. Prohibiting a benign substance due to unfounded, outlandish fears is in itself a symptom of paranoia. It is the prohibitionists that exhibit signs of paranoid schizophrenia, rather than the cannabis consumers. One transparent delusion after another issues forth in their frantic defense of the indefensible, a counter-productive drug war costing billions of dollars per year with no end in sight.

This is what I believe. Sobriety is the preferred state, the one with optimal efficiency and awareness. Habitual, daily cannabis use is detrimental, although not more so than daily alcohol use. I will not go into all the reasons why, because others have walked that road before me, and I think it is self-evident. Cannabis does not seem to be a good medicine for those suffering from severe mental illness and should not be used for that purpose. However, due to its effects on memory, it may be a potential therapy for those suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder or memories of abuse. Those suffering from social anxiety may receive a benefit from marijuana as well. I would be interested in reviewing the research on targeted therapies for specific dysfunctions.

Substances are not always a good answer for moderate depression. Instead, cultivating adaptive strategies to stress is the key. Here is my game plan for attacking the demon of melancholy.

1. Elimination of toxic social contacts and augmentation of positive social contacts. Sever contact with psychic vampires, but increase contact with good people. There are good people in the world, but sometimes one has to go out and find them.
2. Physical exercise, particularly walking.
3. Improved nutrition, with limits placed on sugar and caffeine intake, and an increase in fruits, vegetables, seafood, and whole grain bread.
4. Interruption of negative thoughts habits, such as brooding, by changing activities/schedules. It is easy to turn into a "creature of habit," but habits must be broken if they are detrimental. For example, if participating in an online message forum is a big downer, due to trolls and hostile internet bullies, just stop doing it. Sooner or later the trolls will find themselves all alone together, and they will find solutions for one another in due course. Their solutions need not involve you.
5. Cultivation of pleasurable activities, such as new hobbies and outlets for creativity. Remember, pleasure is good. Those institutions that teach that pleasure is bad are culpable of maintaining the individual in a permanent state of depression. There are powerful forces in society that actively seek to promote melancholy, bitterness, anger, division and hatred in the world. The influence of these forces must be minimized in an individual's life in order for there to be a possibility of happiness.
techlorebyigor is my personal journal for ideas & opinions