Archive for the ‘Sociology’ Category

The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounters weirdness: December 2016 edition

November turned out to be a dreary month here in Massachusetts. The days were very short but the persistent days of clouds and rain only made it drearier. So I should not be surprised that my Craigslist posts received but 224 web page hits in November, a respectable amount but nothing outstanding. Overall web hits were down in November to just 1203 web hits, so at least that made my Craigslist traffic amount to nearly twenty percent of total traffic.

So maybe people are more into sleeping late this time of year than trying to find some kinky sex on the internet. There is no way to know without sampling postings this month. Once again I will look at nearby Hartford, Connecticut to gauge just how far into the gutter my local citizens are today.

Today on the first page of Craigslist casual encounter postings I find:

  • 31 men looking for a woman
  • 51 men looking for a man
  • 1 man looking for multiple men
  • 4 men looking for a transgender person
  • 6 men looking for a couple
  • 5 women looking for a man
  • 1 woman looking for a woman
  • 2 couples looking for a woman
  • 4 transgender people looking for a man
  • 1 transgender person looking for a couple

Let’s see who’s shaking their booty and what sort of others they hope to attract:

  • “She” is a “submissive crossdressing bottom bitch” from Central Vermont and is apparently willing to drive quite a way. She will come dressed in leather and is willing to play the bottom. In fact, she is in so much leather that at least from her photos you’ll never see her face! I guess that’s one way to stay anonymous. She’ll take pretty much anyone: couples, men, women and even do phone sex. Even if I were inclined, given her photos I’d give her a pass. With all that leather she looks more cow than human.
  • If you have always wonder what a post-op transgender woman looks like you can see the surgeon’s results in all its clinical detail, but “she” still sports an Amish beard. She is 26 and has a kinky story to share about her visit last weekend to Hartford’s notorious Art Cinema, which she hopes to repeat this weekend. At least she won’t allow penetration without a condom. Also at the Art Cinema this weekend is this 39-year-old man, if he can find his Sexy Ms Claus to join him on the couples-only balcony for their annual party.
  • Usually with couples, it’s the man who wants to see his woman with another woman. This couple from New Haven is looking for a woman, and it’s the woman who gets off seeing her man being pleasured by another woman. At least she’s not possessive.
  • Women, why wouldn’t you want a casual encounter with a man who was “born a Brazilian fire dancer to a band of roving beach gypsies”?
  • My understanding is it’s not too hard for men to hook up with other men on Craigslist, but it can be challenging if you are gay and into watersports. He’s married too, and 51 if that matters.
  • This probably won’t happen to this 46-year-old man: he runs a shop and at closing time he wants a couple to come in and start engaging in erotic play. He swears there are no store cameras. I think he’s also this guy, same age, who wants to lick a woman to orgasm on his desk at work. So retail literally sucks?
  • One of the few women for men ads that didn’t get flagged: she’s just looking to hookup and has a smoking hot body. She’s 25, from Hartford and is looking for regular fun.
  • If there were some sort of award for ugliest-looking dick contest, this 50-year-old guy from East Longmeadow, Massachusetts would probably win it. If you are a dude looking for a dude and insist on posting a picture of your privates, at least prove you can get it erect!
  • He’s a 41-year-old guy from Hartford with a smoking tranny “fitish”.
  • Isn’t 37 years old a bit early to suffer from erectile dysfunction? Anyhow he’s looking for a woman so he can use his blue pills before they go to waste. This must be one of the worst internet propositions ever!
  • She’s 28, from Hartford and looking for a few good men, preferably all at the same time, to lavish oral love upon. Meanwhile, she’s 22 and wants to be a submissive slut for an older man.
  • Since she’s married, 32, blonde and has a fabulous career, she wants this to be discreet. She’s looking for a submissive woman to “nurse” and “experiment” on. Based on the pictures, you may be literally tied up in knots.
  • Lots of women are looking for a sugar daddy. Here’s a hassled 26-year-old woman looking for a sugar mama.
  • They’re a submissive couple looking for a dominant couple. Meanwhile this couple from Bloomfield has an unusual request: they need an OB/GYN examination table for BDSM medical role-play fetish. Maybe they can scan Craigslist for sale classified. Never know what will show up there.

More next month.

 

 
The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounters weirdness: November 2016 edition

There is a lot of election fever going on a few days before a national election. Passions are running high. And speaking of passions, will they leach over this month to Craigslist casual encounters section, giving us discerning viewers some especially choice postings? Maybe there are some hot Democrats wanting to bag a hot Republican, or visa versa?

As usual to find out I will review Craigslist’s Hartford (Connecticut) casual encounters section this month. Reviewing my Craigslist hits for October, I find it was a pretty typical month. There were at least 261 web page requests for this stuff in October out of 2257 pageviews, so this was about 12% of my traffic. Also as usual, my May 2015 posting drew the most traffic: 170 pageviews altogether.

On this grey Saturday afternoon, the first page of such postings reveals:

  • 28 men looking for a woman
  • 2 men looking for multiple men
  • 44 men looking for a man
  • 7 men looking for a couple
  • 3 men looking for a transsexual
  • 14 women looking for a man
  • 1 woman looking for multiple men
  • 2 couples looking for a man
  • 1 couple looking for a woman

Curiously there are no transsexuals posting on the first page. They are usually hunting for men, given that most of them tend to be transitioning women. Anyhow, let’s dig into this month’s pile of dubious postings:

  • He’s white, 23 and basically looking for women to get wasted with, not in the sack, but to consume a “cooler full of supplies”. This is because he wants to “hit the slopes” even though it’s not quite snow season. It sounds like be bought out his local pusher’s stock. I hope he got a steep discount.
  • He’s a 36-year-old man from East Windsor looking to give a trim to a man, and I don’t think he means above the neck.
  • Ding! Ding! Ding! And we have a winner for the disgusting post of the month: a 35-year-old man from East Windsor has a puking fetish, not him puking but you, a bulimic and/or wasted woman. You can puke while he enters you via a number of intimate orifices. Good luck with that, poster.
  • A close runner up is this ad from a local guy (to me), in Amherst, Massachusetts. He’s 18, looking for a guy and want to live the ultimate fart fantacy (sic) which fortunately he does not detail, thank goodness. And that’s just the start of the abuse he wants to endure from you.
  • He’s near the university in Hartford and has used briefs to sell: his and his girlfriend’s panties too. More likely what he really has is a drug addiction and needs a source of cash to support it. You can also give him money to suck his eight inch black cock too.
  • Basically, he’s looking for a whore. Whereas he is looking for a discreet no-questions-asked Viagra or Cialis supplier.
  • Speaking of anti-impotence drugs, this general contractor has “worn out equipment” but I guess he figures they won’t help. So is looking to interview a substitute to do some pinch-hitting with his wife, who you can see from the neck down. A peculiar qualification: you have to be 45+.
  • It’s unclear if she is charging or not, but probably yes. Anyhow, she will bring a “spa to your door” for an age 40+ man only. She promises a mutually happy and clothes-free ending.
  • It’s not unusual to see women posting for women on Craigslist, but it is unusual for an Arabic woman to post for another Arabic woman (or Indian or Pakistani). Not to worry, hubby approves.
  • Just a reminder that there’s plenty of trouble out there on Craigslist. For example, there’s Ashley, the blackmailing TS gurl.

So it’s mostly men posting today. Maybe the women are all busy voting for Hillary.

 
The Thinker

There is little about this election that is amusing, but there is Scott Adams

Scott Adams, the force behind the phenomenally popular comic strip Dilbert has a blog and too much time on his hands. One thing I like about Scott is his Machiavellian detachment, which comes across in his comic strip, principally in the character Dilbert. Dilbert sees the systems around him for what they are: full of chaotic forces that make little sense and are frequently evil. Dilbert is rarely shown with a mouth in the comic strip, but he sure has one. He feels free to say whatever is on his mind. These are usually thoughts that you would not utter in the workplace. They are also frequently contrary to conventional opinion.

Scott claims to be apolitical and doesn’t plan to vote in the upcoming election. However, this hasn’t kept him from “endorsing” candidates for president. First he endorsed Donald Trump, a man he obviously greatly admires. I suspect his admiration for Trump comes from (like Dilbert) Trump feeling free to tell people what he really thinks, even if it comes off as crazy and abrasive most of the time. When you have Trump’s fortune and lawyers you have pretty much free speech without consequence, as long as you don’t yell “Fire!” in a crowded theater. Scott’s fortune is smaller than Trump’s, but he is obviously very successful and likely has a fortune in the hundreds of millions of dollars. So Scott can say what he thinks too without much fear of consequence.

Scott of course has a right to his opinions. If he wants to support Donald Trump, more power to him. He discovered in the Bay area where he lives that it has some downsides, as in he is losing friends. So some months back he unendorsed Trump and endorsed Hillary Clinton instead. He did so because (as he said) he fears for his personal safety, not because he actually likes Clinton or her policies. The Bay area is obviously a liberal hotbed. Maybe he imagines hordes of liberals coming at him with hot pitch and pitchforks. While he was “endorsing” Clinton though he continued to plug for Trump, praising him as a “master persuader”. Based on his attending a hypnosis course, he was noting what he perceived to be Trump’s meta-messages that were persuading our hidden brains somehow. He felt certain that Trump would win the election. At one point he gave Trump’s odds of winning at 99%.

But as I noted back in June he seemed to have grasped the reality of Trump’s situation and conceded that Clinton was likely to win. And then there came the presidential debates. Most of us saw an unhinged Donald Trump but Scott saw a master persuader at work. Against conventional wisdom he said that Trump had “won” the first debate because of Trump’s master persuader power. It would be like a snowball going downhill and turn into a Trump avalanche at the end. Also around this time he decided that maybe he could endure the pitch and pitchforks and he decided to endorse Trump again. Those of us reading his blog breathed a sigh of relief. It was obvious that his endorsement of Clinton was insincere and that he was very much rooting for Trump, just not officially.

So Trump the master persuader continued to spin his magic by going completely off the rails by insulting pretty much anyone who was not a white male, leaving Scott to figure out whether to continue to support Trump’s losing campaign or unendorse him again before his face was completely covered in egg. Shortly after the first debate and particularly as the Alicia Machado debacle unfolded, Scott’s Machiavellian brain reasserted itself. However much a “master persuader” Trump was, it apparently was only with his base. Trump obviously had no clue how to persuade the rest of us, plus he ran the most ineffective and unorthodox campaign ever, eclipsing even George Wallace’s veiled-racist 1968 campaign. Woken to cold reality again, Scott withdrew his endorsement and endorsed Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson instead. Yes, that Gary Johnson who when asked did not know what Aleppo was and could not think of any foreign leaders that he admired. (At least Trump knows and admires Vladimir Putin.)

And so it will go probably through the remainder of this strange campaign. But with Scott you never know for sure whom he will endorse next, not that it matters in the least because no one is persuaded by his arguments. You do know though whom he would vote for, if he elected to vote and it would be Donald Trump. It’s transparent to all of us.

Meanwhile, to get away from all the flack he is receiving, he had “temporarily disabled” comments on his blog. Scott is at least consistent in being unorthodox. It does come at a price though since his income from paid speeches is declining, even though he gets the occasional TV interview to talk about Trump and his “master persuader” thesis.

While I am not surprised by Scott’s choice, I do think he would be better served by staying away from politics altogether. It’s not easy to be taken seriously in this arena. Even the highly polarized ones are at least wonkish policy nerds steeped in this subject. He would be much more persuasive if he had a degree in political science.

Scott’s opinions don’t matter at all as he is persuading no one at all. He is needlessly pissing people off who might like other stuff he blogs about and undercutting his brand. Since he already made his fortune, maybe it doesn’t matter. Stepping so forcefully out in an area where his knowledge is keenly lacking though is kind of amusing and sometimes hilarious. It’s like watching a slow moving train wreck so sometimes you just have to look away.

I hope Scott changes his mind and actually votes. If he does I’m sure he’ll be voting for Trump, not Johnson. As appalling as Trump is he is at least better informed than Gary Johnson, although not by much. Trump needs all the votes he can get in California, and it won’t be many. Meanwhile, I can at least take some schadenfreude observing the way Scott so badly and repeatedly misses the mark.

 
The Thinker

Making the nation your fall guy

It’s not often that I get requests for posts, but I actually got one from my daughter the other day. She wants me to write about psychological projection and Donald Trump.

Well, I sort of have been, just not explicitly. I’m sure that it won’t be news to any psychologists reading my blog that Donald Trump has a bad case of psychological projection. But first, let me define it. Wikipedia puts it this way:

Psychological projection is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unconscious impulses or qualities (both positive and negative) by denying their existence in themselves while attributing them to others.

I have discussed this before, principally in the context of whom we choose to marry. None of us come into life cast from a perfect mold. We stumble and fall repeatedly through life as we try to find what works in the relational chaos around us. We tend to marry people that force us to confront our own inadequacies, who ironically appear under the guise of our soul mate. When it works in addressing our imperfections, it’s good but not much fun. It helps us grow as human beings in ways we otherwise likely would not grow.

The best way to get through these issues is to live an engaged life, where situations periodically force you to tackle your less than admirable spots. What happens though when you grow up in an insular world? Suppose life is presented in a predominantly false way so you never have to learn to deal with people as they actually are? For perhaps the most egregious case possibly ever, I give you Donald J. Trump.

When one of these people is given a lot of power, this warped perspective can be very damaging. Years ago, I opined that this was the problem with our last president, George W. Bush as he was insulated by Poppy from taking the fall for most of his mistakes growing up. George W. though at least had a father somewhat grounded in the real world. Donald J. Trump’s case is much more extreme.

Trump was a child of privilege from birth. His father told him to not feel ashamed of his family wealth. He was told he was naturally better than other people because of his race, ethnicity and family status. He was told he could clear all obstacles in his path to success because that’s what Trumps do. Trump never had to endure a public school. He never had to scrape for a living or know a day of poverty. He got a generous endowment from his father to start out in business. At least once as an adult his father bailed him out when his financial mistakes caught up with him. He grew up believing that more wealth could be acquired through brand, and that came from image. So he projected the image of the person he wanted to be: rich, confident, successful and glamorous even while his behavior made him a wreck of a man to most of us paying attention and many who encountered him.

Obviously many people bought into his projection. Some of them who partnered with him or bought his overpriced products found out that he was happy to screw them out of their money for the illusion that he offered them something special. Others, principally a lot of white people, see something in Trump they admire. They like that he speaks his mind. They see his bullheadedness as a virtue. I call these Powerball people because I see them all the time at the local convenience stores buying reams of lottery tickets. (I saw one working class Joe drop $80 on lottery tickets at a local Pride store just the other day.) They see themselves as temporarily inconvenienced future millionaires and Trump as a model of what is possible, forgetting that he was born into privilege. While waiting for life to reward their talent they hope for unlikely riches by winning at Powerball. They believe that the right uber-male with the golden touch can change a system they feel is rigged against them and favoring the others. Trump is their spokesman and change agent.

In reality Trump has failed many times in life but at least was smart enough to cushion those failures by foisting it on others, including taxpayers like us. When he acquired enough wealth he was also able to throw lawyers at people who gave him grief, like his creditors. This let him develop a reputation of someone not to mess with, so a lot of people didn’t even though he shafted them. He seems to have tacitly conceded that he is not a successful businessman anymore, but he does see himself as a successful brander. He now sells illusion that he has the Midas touch. This part of his career, as well as his ceaseless self-promotion and stomping on those who question it has been successful, at least until now.

Trump’s enormous ego means he believes that he can succeed at anything he puts his mind to, so the presidency became his irresistible lure. The only problem is that he is spectacularly unqualified to actually be president. He never held political office, which requires learning the language of diplomacy, creating coalitions and true leadership. He doesn’t understand how winning campaigns are run and publicly flouted the rules. A wonkish president is good but he simply does not have the ability to absorb information, analyze it and reach logical decisions. He operates on impulse, gut instinct and the unquestioning belief in his own greatness. It’s not surprising then that his campaign never really caught on except for those who shared his perspective, which turned out to be a plurality of Republican primary voters. He doesn’t know how to seal the deal with the rest of us because he has no experience relating to us.

Losing the presidency will be an epic failure for him, but one he cannot acknowledge. It would be to admit his brand is worthless which means he is worthless. But worse, it would mean he would have to confront his own shame. And what is this shame? It’s not that he’s a bully or ran perhaps the most inept campaign ever. It’s the shame that he cannot succeed in selling himself to a majority of American voters.

So it has to be someone else’s fault because if he confronts the awful truth about himself, his house of psychic cards collapses. It would mean that instead of being an uber-male he’s a human being like the rest of us, and not a particularly likable one. It would mean that in spite of his fortune he is a failure because he could not meet his own impossibly high mark.

To keep himself from confronting this awful truth, he will apparently do anything. This is exactly what people with bad cases of psychological projection do simply to mentally survive. And if that means encouraging his followers to harass voters he doesn’t like from voting or by claiming our electoral system is rigged when it isn’t, so be it. If that means breaking our democracy in a fundamental way and causing widespread civil insurrection, he’s good with that. That’s because it means he doesn’t have to confront himself. He never has and this won’t be an exception.

Perhaps by rejecting Trump the country can at least acknowledge its mistake in picking a similar but less-flawed piece of hubris: George W. Bush. Perhaps we are maturing at last. Don’t expect Donald Trump to do so.

 
The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounters weirdness: October 2016 edition

I tried to think of some other topic to write about, like the Pence-Kaine vice presidential debate. While I watched it, it frankly didn’t merit a post in part because it truly doesn’t matter. I’ve done a lot of political posts lately, as they are topical. At the moment there is not much to say except that it sure looks like Clinton has this thing wrapped up. Rather than be a win by a few percentage points it looks like it will be by five or more points.

So instead and a day earlier than usual I will post my monthly Craigslist casual encounters review. I will default to Hartford, Connecticut from now on and change the title only when looking at a different locale. As usual my Craigslist postings were good to me last month: at least 297 web page hits in September, 195 of them for this May 2015 review. That was about 12% of total traffic, which has gone up the last couple of months for reasons that are unclear. It may be due to tediously removing all the web errors reported in Google Webmaster Tools.

On the first page of posts this month I see:

  • 39 men looking for a woman
  • 37 men looking for a man
  • 10 men looking for a couple
  • 8 men looking for a transgender person
  • 2 women looking for a man
  • 0 women looking for a woman
  • 0 couples looking for anyone
  • 2 transgender people looking for a man

So mostly it’s a bunch of horny men looking to get off. Of course it’s the peculiar way that posters want to get off that tickle my funny bone. Time to dig for those nuggets of gold:

  • He’s 28, black, massively endowed with ten inches below the waist and has plenty of pictures to prove it plus plenty of himself in action, including one with him smoking so I guess you have to deal with that. Considering the average vagina is no more than five inches or so and last I heard the cervix was not an erogenous zone, I’m not sure what all that extra length is good for. Perhaps some woman will explain it to me. I’m also not sure why he wants a man to be there too. Maybe he just likes making them look puny by comparison.
  • There are few ways for a man to attract a woman on Craigslist and actually score, but I think this 42-year-old man will score. Why? Because he’s a dominant “sugar daddy”, i.e. he’s willing to lavish money on a woman, at least for a casual encounter. I doubt he looks like Richard Gere but at least he’s single. This 57-year-old sugar daddy may score also.
  • It looks like Roleplay from last month is back and he is still looking for a woman into kinky playacting. The list looks a lot like last month’s, so I’m guessing he had no success in September.
  • If you are a guy from Newington that wants a massage from an Asian or white woman, no sex but are willing to pay for it, why post for it? Check out massage parlor reviews on Yelp and go to a decent local joint instead. Most of them have attractive Asian women and even if they are not attractive, does it matter?
  • If you are a couple and looking for a fat 42-year-old stogie-chomping black man for your fat wife to give head to, he’s available and has a suggestive illustration that if it is truthful probably won’t help in his quest.
  • She’s 21, slinky and from Hartford, looks very cute and is looking for a woman to be her friend with benefits (FWB). She likes the juicy titties though, so does this mean you have to be lactating?
  • It’s not unusual to see “dads” looking for “daughters” or “sons” on Craigslist, and I’ve documented more than a few of these over the years. But this 43-year-old woman is looking for a legal age young woman to be her “mother”. Here’s another “mother” but she’s only 28! It looks like a “daughter” is available, so which mommy will she choose?
  • Hartford’s XXX Art Cinema is still in business and has stimulated the curiosity of a married white BBW but presumably not her hubby. She’s too shy to go to an adult cinema alone but she will go with an escort this Saturday night, providing you are black and well endowed, perhaps like that stogie-chomping black man. Maybe they can give everyone a show. BTW, she’s not the only woman posting for an escort to this cinema.
  • Men, she’s 25 and if you call now you can make a reservation with her G-spot.
  • Also men, if you are craving a good spanking this 40 DD endowed “chocolate skin” woman will provide it, as well as have your crawling on your knees.
  • What is your personal best? This 22-year-old woman from East Hartford is going for her personal best daily blowjob record so she needs plenty of men … under age 40.
  • This “classy” girl from Hartford (probably attached) doesn’t need or want to make love in a hotel room but instead wants to make love with a professional guy in his office. I hope the office at least provides a nice leather couch and you can close the blinds. If I were the guy I’d make sure the door locks and kept a gag in the drawer.
  • At 24 your biological clock should not be “running short” but this young woman definitely wants a man to “seed me”. If you succeed I expect a paternity suit will follow.
  • If you are a man who never finds happiness at the mall, this 22-year-old woman from Westfarms will provide it to a sexy young man with a discreet mall blowjob. I’d avoid areas near the security cams.

More in November.

 
The Thinker

The meaning of Star Trek

The media is agog over today’s 50th anniversary of Star Trek. Yes, it was fifty years ago tonight that the first episode of Star Trek, “The Man Trap” first aired on NBC. Then a product of Desilu Studios this futuristic show of zipping across the cosmos on starships quickly became a cult classic, but not enough to spare it from being canceled after three seasons. In fact it had been canceled earlier, but was saved for a while from petitions from fans.

What Gene Roddenberry hath roth! Roddenberry had no particular aspirations for the series when he produced it. In fact, he was a pretty inept producer of the series. TV series fifty years ago are going to suck by modern standards, and many of these original episodes badly sucked. For the most part this was due to Roddenberry’s inattention, NBC’s unforgiving cost controls and using a lot of hack writers. Roddenberry was never that much into his creation, at least not its management. His contribution to his phenomenon was mainly inspirational.

Star Trek depicted a far future for humanity that was hopeful, although it was originally badly depicted on screen. Roddenberry also threw in a few characters that caught our imagination: Captain James T. Kirk as an American cowboy in outer space but mostly Mr. Spock. Spock was a wholly aspirational character: a glimpse of not how ideal aliens should be, but how humanity could be. All this was wrapped around 49 minute episodes with five commercial segments, cheesy costumes and generally poor acting.

And yet Star Trek took off, in spite of NBC and in spite of Roddenberry’s inattention. Its meme was hopeful and a few of its characters were interesting enough to get into. The original series was never really reprised again. The movies were binary: either good or bad, with only the even ones being any good. It took twenty plus years for Star Trek: The Next Generation (STTNG) to emerge and a year or two for its shakedown cruise before Trekkies got what they really wanted: real Star Trek without the warts and blemishes of the original series. It got a lot better when Roddenberry stepped back, mostly due to his health, and let professionals manage the franchise. With STTNG, better budgets and independent syndication, the franchise really took off spinning off other shows, most not so memorable.

In 2003 I proclaimed the death of Star Trek, but it’s reimagination in the 2009 movie proved me wrong. Star Trek now sails into its next half century with a planned CBS series reboot, Star Trek: Discovery, apparently only available to paid subscribers. Curiously it’s no longer NBC property: CBS has taken over the franchise, as it owned by National Amusements, which own ViaCom, which owns Paramount.

There is a mystery to its longevity, as there is with Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes and certain other series that manage to become timeless. The original series was not really that good, and it’s third season truly sucked. The same is true with Doctor Who and many of the later Sherlock Holmes stories. Keeping a series feeling fresh is hard.

Star Trek managed it with STTNG by keeping Star Trek’s essence and ejecting its bad parts. The 2009 Star Trek reboot movie succeeded by putting the original series in its own time warp, essentially creating an alternative timeline. Star Trek: DS9 worked by abandoning most of Star Trek’s peaceful premise and going back to Gene Roddenberry’s premise of a western in space. Commander Sisko became the sheriff for his part of the Wild West and tried to keep the peace. It’s clear what didn’t work. Voyager really gave us nothing new except a woman captain; many of its episodes we had seen many times before in other iterations. The short-lived series Enterprise proved even less interesting: its chief character of interest was the captain’s cute dog.

So what is Star Trek’s essence? Why do we find ourselves addicted to it, even when it is often mediocre? For me, I see two prominent memes in the Star Trek experience.

First is that no matter how interesting life is for us humans in the 21st century with its ever-expanding technologies, we crave a quantum leap. Our human potential is boundless, even as our humanity frequently proves that we don’t deserve to trek the stars. Star Trek opened the door to new possibilities: the universe on a grand scale that we could easily zoom around in. There we would find wonders beyond our imagination as well as challenges too. These wonders are its lure, but what really interested us are the challenges it posits. Just like a hacker is never satisfied with his latest cyber break in, we look for ever more challenging puzzles to solve and ultimately master. The universe, at least as depicted in the relativity-free world of Star Trek, offers us this tableau of potential to exploit.

Second, at its core Star Trek is hopeful. It speaks to our potential as an enlightened species, not the depressing reality we’re mired in. We crave utopia, but what we crave more is an enlightened and well-ordered society where we get along well with each other and channel our collective and individual energies in ways that help, not harm, but also enrich us as human beings. In Star Trek we see this reality modeled in a hopeful way. It’s a powerful meme and it — not Star Trek’s warp drive — is what really powers this series and its many spinoffs. There’s a place for all of us in this posited reality. Even conservatives can play in this universe, as evidenced by the many fans out there emulating the Klingon culture.

As I noted before, one of the curious things about Star Trek is how much of it has already been realized in just fifty years. Both the universal translator and the communicator are 21st century realities, albeit in different and less powerful forms than Star Trek depicted. Perhaps because of its warp drive, Star Trek is inspiring engineers to see if a warp drive is feasible. Star Trek’s impulse drive looks like a real possibility, although it is not quite out of the lab. It may get us to the stars, much more slowly than with a warp drive, but enough to be practical. It will leverage the power of solar energy and microwaves, if this research bears fruit.

It turns out there is nothing like a model to stimulate human imagination. Star Trek provided a model, both on a technical and sociological level. Since its appeal is universal, it connects all cultures and provides a common foundation to ponder our place in the universe and how to actually sail these oceans of stars all while inspiring us to live up to our ideals. It’s taking us from imaging a new reality to inspiring us to implement it.

Yes, Star Trek is ultimately just a meme. But it’s a meme for good and a meme that calls us to our potential. It’s often great entertainment but it’s not a waste of our time. Ultimately, Gene Roddenberry’s experiment of a western in outer space may literally help take us to the stars and help mankind reach its most noble purpose. It’s a long shot, but it’s a meme with huge energy behind it. I hope it can sustain our passions for the next half-century.

 
The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounters weirdness: September 2016 (Hartford CT) edition

So I’ve been traveling – a four-day jaunt to Washington D.C. area and back – so I missed my usual first Friday of the month Craigslist casual encounters post. Since it’s been a while since I posted anything and no other topic immediately came to mind to blog about tonight, I’ll dig through Hartford, Connecticut’s Craigslist Casual Encounters trash tonight instead … and hope weekday postings don’t disappoint.

While these postings often disappoint, my Craigslist readers didn’t disappoint me in August. I count at least 334 web page hits for this stuff last month, including an impressive 239 hits for my May 2015 post. That’s over 18 percent of traffic last month. My site traffic in general was up 23% in August compared to an anemic July.

Who’s posting tonight? Probably those who posted last Friday but had unfulfilled expectations. In any event, the first page of postings tonight in Hartford brings up:

  • 14 men looking for a woman
  • 44 men looking for a man
  • 2 men looking for a couple
  • 1 man looking for multiple men
  • 2 men looking for a transgender experience
  • 11 “women” looking for a man (probably most of which are spam posts)
  • 6 women looking for a woman
  • 4 couples looking for a woman
  • 1 couple looking for another couple

No transgender people are on the prowl tonight, at least on the first page of posts. Anyhow, let’s dig in:

  • He’s 57 and looking for a man who is a “Little Bit of a Pig in the Bed and Straight on the Street” and much, much younger, at least under 40. And there is one unusual requirement since he is looking to give you oral sex: he can’t accommodate you if you are more than eight inches so if you have too much to spare, don’t apply. Once you see his naked pics though you’ll probably want to stay clear just on general principles.
  • If you are a panty-sniffing woman this 29-year-old woman from Bristol wants to meet you. Good luck with that, poster.
  • I guess conventional sex is too boring for this 37-year-old man but he is into role play and he’s got plenty of roles he wants to play with a willing woman. It’s unclear if he provides the costumes too.
  • She’s 42, a mother of three and wants to meet college men half her age to make their MILF-fantasies come true. It’s all-legit. The catch is hubby will be taking pictures.
  • This man is nostalgic for his Craigslist hookup, which suggests occasionally these ads actually succeed. Apparently she was into nipple weights. Holler if you are still out there scrolling through these ads!
  • He’s 42, from Middletown and is looking for a woman for fun. To improve the odds, he’s willing to trade some of his Oxycontin to score.
  • He 22, from Torrington and must have a hard time paying the tuition because he’s looking for multiple men and is willing to star in an X-rated video for some “hard”-earned cash.
  • She’s from Bloomfield, has herpes and a confusing ad. She’s posting for a woman but the title says she is looking for a man, but the text says she’s looking for a BBW but she’s open to all men and nationalities. Her only qualification: you must have herpes too.
  • She says she’s a widow and 45 but her picture says she’s 20-something and pleasingly plump instead. So no mystery here: she’s no widow and it’s just a random picture and if you respond expect to get spam. Oh, and she is not a 43-year-old virgin either.
  • If you are trying to be discreet so hubby won’t suspect anything, maybe you should not be posting partially naked pictures of yourself. 43? My ass!
  • Here’s one way to be a 52-year-old married dude and to score: advertise for age 60+ women and hope they are desperate and not very discerning.
  • He’s just another 48-year-old man doing some wild game hunting: women with big clits.
  • Is this 49-year-old man a dirty scoutmaster?
  • He’s a man looking for your boxer-briefs. I imagine you will want to bring an extra pair to wear home. Oh, and he’s willing to give you oral sex. It’s unclear if he wants these laundered or used.
  • Now this is weird: while this 49-year-old man is sucking your cock at his hotel (a Hampton Inn) or at your place he’ll be on speakerphone with his dominant wife.

So not too much kink tonight out there, but it could be worse. More in October.

 
The Thinker

Why do we hate the poor?

Have you ever been poor? I’m not sure where the dividing line is between poor and not poor, but if you are poor you will know it. By that standard I have been poor. One thing I learned during those years is that being poor totally sucked. Anyone who has ever been poor has every incentive in the world to get out of the state and will if they possibly can.

So many of us though resent the poor. We see them as moochers leaching off the rest of us. I’m trying to figure out why this is. At one level it’s easy to say it’s a classist thing. We hang out with people we feel comfortable with and these are generally in our socioeconomic group. Unless you have had the experience of being poor, it’s hard to empathize with those who are poor. It’s easy to think, “How hard can it be? Just apply yourself! You can work your way into the middle and upper classes. Get off your lazy asses!”

Lots of people manage it somehow; it’s the American dream after all. But lots of people don’t or simply can’t. And some people who used to live that dream have had it taken away from them, at least for a while. Count among these autoworkers, garment workers, coal miners and those who find their skills become obsolete. When it happens to these people, it’s clearly not their fault; they were unfortunate. It’s pretty clear where many of today’s Uber drivers will be in ten years: not taxiing people around. Uber is quite interested in the automated car and that’s because it can pay for the software that will drive people around quite easily, probably for no more than a couple of hundred bucks a year per car. Those Uber drivers probably earn at least ten bucks an hour. Uber would like to keep rates the same but channel the cost of their labor into their bank accounts instead.

When I was poor (i.e. independently living but not quite scraping by, roughly 1978-1981) I found the experience depressing. I preferred sleep to being awake because dreams were not as dismal as my life was. I had graduated college with a bachelor’s degree but like in 2008 the economy at the time sucked and my degree was not particularly marketable. I earned just over minimum wage doing retail work. I had roommates and I lived in a cheap part of town. I could not afford my car, so I sold it for scrap and walked, biked or took the bus when I needed to go somewhere. I ate cheaply but never well. Retail employment proved ephemeral. My hours were cut to almost nothing and only moving to another department let me pay my bills. I had no dependents but I did have a student loan to pay. I couldn’t even afford a vacuum cleaner for my apartment. My low status and lack of wheels made me largely friendless and dateless.

I never went on food stamps, mainly because it never occurred to me to try. I probably would have qualified for food stamps, which were much more generous back then. I wasn’t unemployed so welfare was not an option, but like many enlisted people today what I was paid wasn’t enough to really live on, unless you meant a basic and fretful existence, never quite sure whether if ill fortune struck if you would be out on the street.

From my perspective being poor really sucked, but I’m really glad I’m not poor today. Today to get food stamps I’d likely have to pee into a cup and I might not get them at all having no dependents. There were more homeless shelters back then and some states (I was in Maryland at the time) were progressive enough to maybe help you get back on your feet. Maybe there was Section 8 housing that you didn’t have to wait ten years to get.

I also knew that if worse came to worst, my parents might loan me some money or let me stay with them for a while. As there were eight of us, the expectation was that we could handle life somehow. We did but we were blessed in many ways. We were raised in love, treated humanely and attended good schools. Our parents had our backs. We had a pretty good idea how the world worked, knew which pitfalls to avoid and our parents lived sober and sensible lives that were not hard for us to model. In essence life put us a few rungs up on the ladder. Some sizeable but unquantifiable portion of this came from the privilege of being born white.

Being white, racism was not something I ever experienced. We weren’t part of any minority group, except possibly from being Catholic, which was hardly unusual, just that there were more Protestants. My mother’s ancestry was Polish, so there was the occasional Polish joke directed our way, but it clearly made no sense as most of us got straight A’s.

Had I been born black and poor the likelihood that I would have ascended into the middle class would have been much less. As I was born into the middle class, one crushing part of being poor was knowing I was faking it. But at least I had a brain, understood most of the social cues, could read, write and do math and was both white and male. It was these skills that made my years being poor relatively brief.

Those years though were not wasted years. They gave me insights into life that wholly elude Donald Trump, most Republicans and conservatives and many who simply haven’t experienced it. Being poor is hard and incredibly stressful. You are never sure when the next shoe will drop but often you have to simply hope for the best. I am quite confident that as hard as it was for me, it is magnitudes harder for those who were born poor. I never had to worry about gangs or being shot in the street. Burglary virtually never happened where I lived and our schools were well funded with decently paid and engaging teachers. I had regular parental supervision, and two parents to turn to. A frequently absent single mom that worked three jobs and that shuffled me between many babysitters did not oversee me. I never went hungry or malnourished. My clothes were sometimes second hand but they were usable.

Being poor depressed me but for the chronically poor the symptoms look a lot like Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Worse, the PTSD occurs at the worst time in life: when you are a child, and can last decades or a lifetime. It sets in motion patterns of behavior that become instinctive but become nearly impossible to change, driving many mental, physical and emotional issues that tend to carry through adult life.

When you are poor you really want people with the empathy to cut you some slack. But these days that’s largely not an option. Rather, those with the power will turn the screws even more. They will reduce your food stamps. They will introduce ever more burdensome obstacles simply to summon the very basics to survive. Today’s safety net has many holes in it. Whether the net will catch you at all or let you slip through it depends on many factors, but it’s problematic at best. No wonder it’s increasingly difficult for the poor to ascend another rung or two in life. The mines are laid everywhere. You will take some hits; it’s guaranteed. You simply hope for the best but there is too much road kill around you to have unrealistic expectations that you are all that special.

As miserable as it is to be poor, it’s much worse to be homeless. It’s a combination of pain, poverty, hunger, despair and feelings of unworthiness and shame that feels equivalent to being in hell. I can’t say this from personal experience, but it’s easy enough to infer. I can see the searing pain etched on the faces of the homeless I see in the streets everyday.

Why do we hate the poor? The answer doesn’t matter. What does matter is understanding that being poor is difficult at best and traumatic and potentially life threatening at worst, and it should require society to act compassionately. It is to be avoided at all costs if possible, but as there are no guarantees in life it’s always a possibility that it can happen, even to you. It’s unrealistic to expect people to pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, particularly if you don’t have any boots. If you have been poor, you will feel nothing but compassion for those who are poor. If you have not, count your blessings. Only good fortune is keeping you from finding out.

 
The Thinker

Is blogging dying?

When I started this blog in late 2002, blogging was an up and coming thing. Fourteen years later, there is plenty of evidence that while blogging is not quite dead it is dying. I can look at my own web statistics to see the trend. While I strongly suspect my web statistics were overstated in the early years due to incorrectly counting robots and search engines, according to the most accurate gauge that I have (Google Analytics), I am getting 18% of the page views in 2015 that the blog got in 2010.

I am not helped because my blog is both very personal and largely themeless. Those blogs that succeed today tend to be rooted around a much more popular website, like a blogger posting on Huffington Post. A successful blog is often extremely specialized (narrowcasting is the term I have heard used). Over the last decade or so, web marketers have learned all sorts of tricks on how to catch eyeballs. Just ask Facebook, Gawker (RIP), Twitter and Tumblr, to name a few. Mobile devices with smaller sized screens just further the trend. People want content in small and succinct bites, which bodes ill for long form blogs like mine.

My monthly foray into the Craigslist Casual Encounters section was due largely to people continually coming to my site for these postings. Making a monthly review of local postings is not so much for my own amusement as it is for yours. My hope is that having satisfied your prurient interest, you might stick around and read my other stuff too. It works somewhat and may explain that while my statistics like most blog sites are declining, I suspect I am doing better than most. You know things are bad when bloggers like Andrew Sullivan give up their blog.

I don’t feel particularly inclined to throw in the towel. This blog has been more about keeping me engaged mentally than anything else. Not that I haven’t considered giving it up. I did once drop out for a couple of weeks after Google mysteriously delisted me. Blogging may not bring in the traffic it used to, but as part of a site it’s definitely useful. If you run a small business on the web, one of the best ways to increase traffic (after convincing other sites to list your site) is to maintain a blog and regularly post relevant content on it. This helps establish that you are serious about your site by demonstrating that are willing to spend time to keep it fresh and topical, as well as offer nuggets useful to the public at large. In my case, this blog is the website. It serves no higher purpose and has not proven a way to make me independently rich.

I have noticed that web traffic is just one piece of my total traffic. A lot of people read me through the site’s feed. This week Feedcat (my blog aggregator) tells me I have 295 readers. If these readers are regular readers, that’s a whole lot more valuable to me than webpage hits. How many singers would be happy if the same 295 people came to hear them sing once a week? So while I don’t fill stadiums, I do fill a small virtual auditorium with generally the same people. I don’t know how much of my post they read, or if they read it at all. Judging from the dearth of comments I receive, most of them probably scan my content or are looking for that one special post, like the monthly Craigslist casual encounters post.

The general trend though is clear. Blogging is not dead, but it is less interesting to people on the web and it is becoming more specialized. Right now it works best as a narrowcast channel for mostly textual content. If your content is video, you are probably better off with a YouTube channel instead. It’s also quite useful for small communities where there are handfuls of content creators. The popular blogging software WordPress serves 26 percent of the content on the web, more than any other software solution. Most of that content is coming from hosted web servers. The beauty of WordPress is that it is both elegant blogging software and an elegant content management system. Obviously I like it as I have been using WordPress for at least eight years. Most likely WordPress is being used for your church’s website, but also to post the minister’s blog on it too. Small businesses find WordPress a no-brainer as well as the entry fee is small (just hosting) but the features available in WordPress and its thousands of plugins make pretty much anything possible and not too hard to do.

So perhaps it’s better to say that blogging is changing. It’s becoming a feature of a site rather than its reason for being. Blogging is probably not a way to riches, unless it is of the non-monetary kind. It does make it simple to get your content on the web and simple for you to control it. It allows you to personalize the content and make it easily available on lots of devices and media. It offers you a level of control that can’t be matched with a Facebook page, or a Tumblr or Twitter account. A blog is not easy to market. It depends mostly on friends or colleagues promoting it for you.

Blogging is still useful but it’s not a way to get lots of page views, at least not without a lot of really popular and unique content. Keep your expectations modest if you are going to blog; make the blog at least interesting to you so you will want to keep at it. This has to be enough or there’s no point in starting.

I’ll keep hanging in there.

 
The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounters weirdness: August 2016 (Hartford CT) edition

TGIF is what a lot of Craigslist users are thinking, which also means that many of them want to hookup. So off they go to their computers to post their most lascivious and carnal needs in hopes that someone will answer the call. Most of them (particularly the men) are going to have their hopes dashed. Some will find they get not quite what they bargained for, like a sexually transmitted disease.

For some of us whose habit is to peruse these ads for our own amusement, we’re likely to find entertainment of sorts scanning the ads. I’m back to scanning Hartford Connecticut’s casual encounters section because it’s been so good to me. I had at least 259 web page views for my Craigslist casual encounters posts in July, and fully 179 of these were for my May 2015 post on Hartford’s section. You might say it’s good for business here on Occam’s Razor, accounting for at least 18% of my traffic in July. How can I not at least take a peek?

Scanning the first page of today’s ads I find:

  • 42 men looking for a woman
  • 29 men looking for a man
  • 12 men looking for a couple
  • 2 men looking for a transgender
  • 1 man looking for two women
  • 10 women looking for a man
  • 1 woman looking for a couple
  • 2 women looking for a woman
  • 3 transgender people looking for a man
  • 1 transgender person looking for multiple men
  • 1 couple looking for a woman

Normally I put on the dark glasses before I read this stuff but it’s such a nice day I’ll see if I can handle it without them.

  • She’s 48, from Hartford and looking for a man to take her to see Suicide Squad. It’s apparently a horrible movie but if she’s looking for a slow way to kill herself, she’s already in the right place. Just date a few Craigslist casual encounters posters!
  • I don’t understand why gay men target heterosexual guys on Craigslist. Why would they bother to read the ad? If you are a woman looking for a woman on Craigslist, but the ad is actually from a man, why would you want to take him up on his oral servicing offer? This post is one fantasy this guy from Enfield won’t live out tonight.
  • If you are a married and unhappy man but unwilling to leave your marriage this “professional” is for you. While she says she’s looking for a good friend, most likely her profession requires monetary tributes: cash or credit card.
  • Women: is there safety through nakedness? If you come and visit him this 35-year-old man in blue boxer shorts will greet you in his birthday suit. Supposedly this will make you feel safe and in control from the start. I suppose it could also start fits of uncontrollable laughter too. And speaking of naked guys, Andy from Manchester is willing to let it all hang out for you in advance so check out his naked pictures and smiling face. To qualify for admittance you must sport DDDs or better. I’m betting he’ll settle for a C.
  • If you are a female transitioning to a male, before you convert that clitoris into a penis, this man from Newington wants to suck it. This is perhaps the strangest ad I’ve seen for a man looking for a woman.
  • Speaking of the transgendered, this shapely “gurl” from New Haven wants you if you are a ruthless and dominant top. Yes, she wants you to whip her into shape.
  • I’m not sure why but if you are a woman looking to fulfill a rape fantasy this 37-year-old man from East Hartford will do the honors. It goes without saying that by definition real rape is non-consensual so at best this would be pretend rape. Here’s a 39-year-old man from Windsor (perhaps the same guy) looking for a similar scenario.
  • Women: only contact him if you can squirt. He’s not the only one with particular qualifications posting today. This 35-year-old man is into sucking women’s toes.
  • He’s 32, from Hartford and doesn’t like to brag but he’s no one shot Charlie. In fact, he’s ready for another one after as little as five minutes. He claims he came four times in ninety minutes.
  • This is very weird and hard to capsulize. Go read it.
  • This makes no sense. She is 23, a virgin and wants you to be her first but it’s something she puts all her extra effort into?
  • She likes them big, construction worker size. Get your hard hats on, fellas!

More in September.

 

Switch to our mobile site