Archive for the ‘Sociology’ Category

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. It is 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.

 
The Thinker

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

I didn’t quite forget to do my monthly Craigslist posting last Friday. I was just too busy doing real work for a change. I had two clients with high priority work, so I spent a long three days slogging through that instead.

Happily it’s behind me now. It’s a little early for a review of weekend posts (that tend to be the kinkiest) but since I have the time now and a pair of dark glasses handy it’s time to look into the underbelly of the web, a.k.a. the Craigslist Casual Encounters section. There I get to marvel/feel nauseous (sometimes at the same time) at what crazy, stupid and or kinky things people want to do with other people. I doubt many of these hookups will happen. If nothing else this monthly surf through these Craigslist posts remind me that while man is capable of greatness we’re also capable of going to absurd lows. Reading these wants from the id keeps me humble for my species.

During June I noted at least 203 web page views for my Craigslist posts, about 14% of total page views. 110 of them were for this popular post. It was my first look at the Hartford Craigslist section in May of last year and I return there today because it is reliably kinky, a bit crazy and often disturbing. On the first page of postings today I see:

  • 35 men looking for a woman
  • 46 men looking for a man
  • 1 man looking for a couple
  • 3 men looking for a transgender person
  • 1 woman looking for a man
  • 0 women looking for a woman
  • 1 couple looking for a woman
  • 1 couple looking for a man
  • 1 couple looking for a couple
  • 1 transgender person looking for man

So the posters are mostly men but fear not as I will look beyond the first page and into older postings by women to see what nuggets may show up there. Okay, time to put on the dark glasses.

  • Hooray, a man posting on Craigslist has figured it out but he’s at least wiser perhaps because he’s older, 68 in fact and married. He’s looking for a transgender person who can take charge. He says, “No cyber or courtships or ‘getting to you know first’ bullsh*t. This is not ‘Match.com’. Get real.” Maybe there’s hope for at least a few Craigslist posters.
  • I like to think of myself as reasonably sexually sophisticated but Craigslist often surprises me. Here’s a 28-year-old man looking for a woman for AB/DL. I had to Google that one. Basically he’s looking for a woman to diaper him and who shares his fascination for it. I’m not surprised the wife won’t accommodate him. I mean, he’ll even catheter himself to slowly fill up those Pampers. Thank you, poster. It’s exactly these posts that prove there is some wheat in the vast Craigslist chaff. (I think he’s also this poster who wants a woman to shake a rattle at him.) If you prefer to skip the diapering part, this 47-year-old man from Rhode Island wants to watch a lady poop. (Pretty women only, though; he has his standards.)
  • He’s 21, a virgin, super shy and hasn’t even kissed a girl. Any women want to help him with his project?
  • She’s 55, from Farmington, married and plans to be at Hartford’s notorious Art Cinema Saturday from 12-5. Sounds like she’s taking all callers but if you act now you can get a low number. I mean, who likes to wait in line?
  • Sign up now to get a chance to bag this married woman sometime this or next month, whenever hubby says go, along with plenty of other men while hubby watches. Only, gosh, is she particular, but with those golden globes in her picture she can be selective. So if you aren’t young, normal weight and working out at the gym, you basically have no chance.
  • He’s another gay man, age 49, looking … but you got to be stinky. I mean pit-stink stinky.
  • She’s a self-professed pillow princess, age 20 and black, that won’t touch you (a black male) in any way whatsoever. You on the other hand better be into some serious ass worship.
  • Men, if you are into spanking a “naughty little girl”, she’s from New Haven and is scheduling sessions, which suggests while you spank her she’ll be spanking your wallet.
  • Men, she’s 29, a BBW and wants to peg you. She’s a pegging newbie apparently, and she wants to make it an ongoing thing. I’d keep my proctologist on speed dial.
  • She’s from Waterbury, 36 and owns a speculum. She wants a man to probe her with it and do a full examination of the privates. Real or pretend doctors desired.

More next month.

 
The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounter weirdness: June 2016 (Worcester, MA) edition

Three months ago I first checked out the Worcester Massachusetts Craigslist casual encounters section, the state’s second largest city and about ninety minutes by car east of me. I’m back there for June for a second look around again, because I was surprised by the quality (such as it was) of its posters. For hunters of the bizarre I found more than a few choice quality nuggets.

Looking over my Craigslist hits during May, I count at least 209 web page views for these posts, or about 13% of traffic. This is about normal. 117 of them were for my May 2015 review of the Hartford, Connecticut section. On today’s first page of postings in Worcester I find:

  • 35 men looking for a man
  • 35 men looking for a woman
  • 2 men looking for a transgender/transvestite
  • 9 men looking for a couple (male/female)
  • 12 women looking for a man
  • 6 women looking for a woman
  • 1 couple (male/female) looking for a woman
  • 2 couples (male/female) looking for a man
  • No transgender/transvestite looking for anyone, strangely enough

Let’s see how high the spring fever is running here in the Commonwealth now that all the leaves are finally on the trees and we’re turning on the air conditioners.

  • This 25-year-old gay man from Worcester seems to be more into abuse than sex. He wants you to abuse his throat, not to mention his face, hair and neck. Curiously the rear end is off limits. Otherwise pretty much anything is open, including binding him up and slamming him hard on his bed. And when you are done, he wants you to do it again and again. I’m one of these old fashioned types that simply don’t understand the appeal of violence in a relationship. I think nine out of 10 therapists would agree with me that it’s unhealthy. Anyhow, the poster may also be this guy, as he also is gay and won’t do anal, but is looking for multi-partner sex.
  • Can a couple be “clean” and have Herpes Simplex Virus? This 40-year-old couple from Ayer / Leo / Fitch area apparently believe they can have safe sex with another woman, which sounds technically possible if they are not having an outbreak. It’s too chancy for us actually “clean” people. The man apparently also swings separately and is looking for his own couple. At least they are upfront enough to admit they have HSV.
  • If you are a female student in the Worcester area and are looking to combine your passion with sex with your passion for paying the tuition, this 25-year-old man from Worcester is willing to donate tuition money if you express your appreciation appropriately.
  • He’s actually just looking for a date … someone who wants to see the Dave Matthews band with him. Now that’s kinky!
  • If there are any women in the area that enjoy being urinated on, this man from Oxford is ready with his full bladder. He’d best not wait for an answer before answering nature.
  • 25-year-old male athlete ISO female athlete to do intimate indoor aerobic exercises.
  • If you are a couple in a cuckold relationship (and who isn’t?) of course you will want to party naked with your fellow cuckolders. There’s already a group in Worcester and they are looking for new members. Just to be clear, they are not wife swappers.
  • This ninety-pound 18-year-old lesbian from Winchendon is sick of masturbating alone. In fact, she is so hot for her own gender she can’t help but TYPE IN ALL UPPER CASE. She may also be this barely legal woman who apparently has mastered mixed case.
  • The bottom line is that this apparently gay transitioning 23-year-old man with a nice set of tits is willing suck you off (in five minutes or less guaranteed, he says) but only to get high. If you don’t have weed, no oral and no playing with his man jugs either.
  • To show you what a Luddite I am, I had no idea until today what kik is. It appears to be a newer way of hooking up using your mobile phone. Anyhow there is a Worcester area kik Kink Club and all you have to do is scan the kik image on the ad to get into their private chat room for fellow kinky kik-ers, or something like that.
  • Ladies, if you are so proud of your feet that you want to show them off, this 43-year-old man from Worcester with a foot fetish very much wants to admire and fondle them, and maybe more.
  • Also ladies, are you thrilled at the thought of getting caught with your pants down? This 59-year-old man from Worcester is into semi-public sex. If caught though the looks are more likely to be of disgust or pity than shock.
  • She’s a cutie patootie from Worcester all right and she has pictures to prove it, but she’s only interested in uncircumcised men. But she could also be this lady.
  • Underendowed? “She” is from Gardner and likes them small.

More next month.

 
The Thinker

Brave new carless world

Her graduation gift (if the over $100,000 we spent on her college education wasn’t enough of a gift) was the title to her car. It was a 2005 Toyota Prius, with about 110,000 miles on it. She had the mis/good fortune to have its battery go out on it a few days after delivery. It was good because these hybrid batteries cost about $3000 or more, so it was covered by the warranty.

So why is she giving up her car? It’s paid for and thanks to us she doesn’t have student loans to pay. It’s not like our daughter is convenient to mass transportation. She lives in the far-flung Washington D.C. suburbs, Manassas Park to be exact, known for its traffic, miles of tacky strip malls and its poor public transportation. What drove her to give up driving was a check engine light. A mechanic said it would be about a thousand dollars to repair it as well as replace some tires, as the old ones wouldn’t pass inspection. The Prius is about the most reliable car available. Despite its age for some modest repairs she could ride it another 100,000 miles.

The problem was she was hardly ever using it. She works from home doing closed captioning for television, mostly at night when most of us are asleep. Her life is a studio apartment on the third floor and a black cat. With her free time she mostly writes. Extremely introverted by nature she had no place she really needed to go to.

So she ran the numbers. It turned out that for her it was much cheaper to go carless. She has stopped paying hundreds of dollars a year for insurance, not to mention all the costs associated with maintenance. No more personal property taxes to pay. No more registration fees and license fees. No federal and state gasoline taxes either. To the extent she needs to get around she will now use feet, her new bike and Uber.

Mostly she will be using Uber. So it costs her $15 or $20 each way to take the cat to the vet, or herself to the doctor. It’s still much cheaper than owning a car. A bus is not out of the question, but it involves walking about a mile to the main drag and putting up with all sorts of inconvenient transfers. She’s not poor, just a bit monetarily challenged. So Uber it is, and sometimes the Schwinn bike when the weather cooperates. For food, she has Safeway deliver it and creates an order online. It usually costs $10, but she can save money by having deliveries during the off hours.

I think my daughter maybe something of a trendsetter. Of course lots of young people are giving up their cars, but they tend to live in more connected neighborhoods, not way out near the edge of the frontier where she is living. If she wants to see a movie, she may be able to bike to it if she dares take her bike down the strip and under I-66 to the Cineplex. She is tight with a couple of longstanding girlfriends and usually goes with them. Most likely one of them will pickup and deliver. Or she can stream something online.

It’s quite a self-contained life, and I can empathize. I lived without a car for a few years in my early 20s (she is 26) and did not enjoy it. I couldn’t afford a new or used car and I could not afford to keep the old one going. Once a week I took the county bus to Rockville, Maryland for groceries at the Giant and lugged them home. They had to fit in two bags. It worked but it was not pleasant. Of course in those days there was no Internet and virtually no one worked from home. If you did, a car was essential to your business. You had to go meet people to make a living. I biked to work most days, took the bus if I could make it work with my schedule or simply walked toting an umbrella. I lived cheap but I didn’t like it. It made certain things that most people take for granted, like dating women, pretty much impossible.

This is not a problem for my daughter. She’s not interested in dating anyone, let alone getting serious and married. She says she is asexual, so she simply doesn’t feel attracted to anyone, at least not in a way that might lead to conjugal pleasures. There’s no place she is dying to go, at least at the spur of the moment. If she needs things, she buys it online and has it delivered. (Unsurprisingly, she has Amazon Prime.) She has discerned that we live in a service economy, which means you can get pretty much any service delivered these days. The exceptions are doctor and vet visits (and a few vets do make house calls) and hair stylists.

That’s where Uber comes in. She says Uber is better and much cheaper than a taxi, but it is effectively a taxi. Her smartphone tells her when the driver will arrive, so she doesn’t have to waste time waiting around. She pays in advance over the Internet. She knows of course that those Uber drivers probably aren’t making much money. Uber won’t treat them as employees. They are individual contractors, which mean they pay the freight for maintaining their cars, not her.

I’m waiting for her to tell me it was all a big mistake but I don’t think she’ll give me the satisfaction. It all works for her. It probably won’t work for those who still have to go to an office everyday, but that’s their problem, not hers. All this plus she got a nice chunk of change for selling her graduation gift. Meanwhile her parents still have two cars in the garage, even though being retired we use our own cars much less often. Apparently we are Luddites. We just don’t get the 21st century.

I wish her luck in her brave new carless world.

 
The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounter weirdness: May 2016 (Hartford CT) Edition

I would think it would be hard (no pun intended) to get horny today. We’ve had a week of clouds and as I write yet more rain is falling. But I just checked and yes there are plenty of local Craigslist casual encounters postings today, and by local I mean Hartford, Connecticut, about an hour south of me by car.

Scanning the titles that come up, I’m not going to have a hard time finding posts that shock, disgust or reset your already low opinion of our species. But then again, Republicans pretty much have decided to nominate Donald Trump to be their candidate for president. Elevated as a species we are not, as both Trump and Craigslist casual encounters postings attest.

I can document at least 229 web page hits for my Craigslist posts in April, about average, but 122 of them are for this post, so I expect it will appear in my top ten list this year. Overall this is 15% of my web hits, which is up from last month. Scanning the first page of postings for Hartford, Connecticut this first Friday in May I find:

  • 46 men looking for a woman
  • 36 men looking for a man
  • 6 men looking for a couple
  • 6 men looking for a transgender
  • 3 women looking for a man
  • 2 women looking for a woman
  • 1 couple looking for a couple
  • 2 transgender people looking for a man

Why is it that transgender people are never looking for a woman? Anyhoo, let’s dig into the trash pile and see if some of these posters can out Trump the Donald:

  • She’s 21, claims the bad weather is making her super horny and wants to suck off as many men as possible today … in you are young and in shape.
  • Women, this is as close as you are going to get to a zipless fuck. This 48-year-old married man’s version is a wordless fuck. It’s unclear if moaning and screaming count as words. It’s been my experience that “Yes! Yes!” is usually in there somewhere no matter what.
  • Speaking of kinks here’s another one I’ll never understand: wanting to be cleanup boy. Well, he’s no boy, he’s 28, from Manchester and he’s not talking about tidying up things in your bedroom while you go at it. No he wants to eat the woman out while the guy plows into her, which I would think would be impossible to do simultaneously. What he really wants to clean up is the mess after male orgasm. Umm, pass.
  • She’s so horny to try a woman she’ll pay for dinner and a hotel room.
  • Some women are into well-endowed men. This man is into well-endowed women and we’re not talking ass or breasts here. Is this a case of suppressed micro-penis envy?
  • I guess it’s never too late to act out your bi-curious feelings as if this comes to pass it will be a first time for this partnered 58-year-old woman. The partner would like to watch, if you’re willing. And speaking of older bi-curious people, here’s a heavy 60-plus bi-curious man from Manchester who wants to be bottomed by either the male in the couple or the woman or both.
  • Last month I confessed my ignorance about tribbing. Now I understand. (Warning: explicit picture.)
  • This 30-year-old man from Vernon claims to be newly bi-curious which means he really wants to try his own sex. I’m no fashion pro obviously but I strongly suggest you lose the black socks and repost dude.
  • He’s 24, looking for a mature daddy and says he is a “semi passable sissy”. Given the hair on that ass and the ridiculous pink panties I’d say semi passable is pushing it. Still, it’s more truth in advertising than you usually see on Craigslist.
  • Finally: safe sex on Craigslist! Watch this couple go at it on Skype and wank off to them!
  • This 29-year-old man from Bristol doesn’t understand that a FWB is not a one time casual encounter.
  • Boy, you do want them young if you are 24 years old and want to be the daddy in the relationship. Most likely whatever you have in mind would be statutory rape.
  • Ladies, will you trade free rent for sex? If so, this 33-year-old man from Hartford wants you to contact him. If you will trade a part-time handyman for sex, this 55-year-old man from Enfield is also looking for a fair exchange of value.
  • Speaking as a man, every once in a while I come across an adorable woman who in some fantasy world I passionately want to know in the biblical sense and then I find myself crestfallen when I learn they are gay. (Hint: One of them is Ellen DeGeneres.) I imagine women come across hunks like this black man and feel crestfallen too knowing he won’t want you. But guys, he’s very selective. To even get considered you must be packing at least nine inches.
  • She’s 20, from Windsor Locks and is looking for a woman who will help her tease her husband by having girl on girl sex in front of him, leading into a threesome, which is perhaps the strangest anniversary celebration ever. Kinky, yes. Romantic, no.
  • Ladies, she’s 29, from East Hartford and wants to use her strap on on you. Clearly, she likes to be on top of things.
  • Men, double your fun: two women from Hartford are looking for one lucky man.

More next month.

 
The Thinker

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

I don’t know why but as I put together my monthly review of local Craigslist casual encounters weirdness, this snippet of lyrics from the musical Chess is running through my brain:

I’d let you watch, I would invite you
But the queens we use would not excite you

Anyhow, the first Friday of the month came early this month and that’s when I try to do these postings, as Fridays seem to be the best day of the week to find the weirdest of these postings, probably in anticipation of kinky expectations unlikely to be met by these posters over the weekend. So it’s generally anything goes. I decided to go back to Hartford, Connecticut’s section this month, mainly because I am lazy but also because my May 2015 post on Hartford continues to get lots of hits, 59 in March out of at least 166 hits for this stuff. That’s almost exactly 11% of my total web hits for March.

On the first page of postings I count:

  • 33 men looking for a woman
  • 41 men looking for a man
  • 11 men looking for a couple
  • 2 men looking for a transgender
  • 1 group of men looking for a woman
  • 4 women looking for a man
  • 4 couples looking for a woman
  • 5 transgender individuals looking for a man
  • 1 transgender looking for multiple men

Let’s jump into the postings and find the wheat in the chaff tonight:

  • Speaking of those two men looking for an attractive woman, they say, “Typically we’re available Sunday through Saturday with 2 days notice”, so I guess they never take a day off. They are 45 and 41, live in Norwich and have lots of explicit black and white pictures showing what they would do to a woman with men that obviously aren’t them, but at least the models are thoughtful enough to use condoms. Most likely they are married and probably need the two days to invent an excuse to give their wives for the odd hours they are going to put in at work. However, they are equal opportunity horn dogs, in that they don’t discriminate based on race but do discriminate on whether you are hot or not. That at least makes them more discriminating that most of their competition.
  • Here’s an ad from a woman looking for a man that sounds legit, mainly because she’s been scanning ads from men for women and finding them turnoffs. Are you real, as in not a creep? Then maybe you can get into her pants, but this is Craigslist so the answer is probably no.
  • He’s 26 and wants to go to the “art gallery”, i.e. Hartford’s “art” theater where apparently the stuff on the balcony is much racier than the XXX action on screen, or at least less faked than the stuff on the screen. But the balcony is only available to couples, so basically he needs a date in the hopes of seeing some people do kinky sex.
  • Ladies, no need to feel awkward joining this couple in their 30’s for a threesome because you won’t be their first.
  • If you are reading this, you are too late because this 46-year-old not totally gay man from Middletown is only available for the next hour or so.
  • Lady, I love the blue panties.
  • He’s a man from Suffield looking for a couple to have a threesome with but ick, none of this man-to-man stuff, he doesn’t want to even touch I would think that would make having a threesome very challenging and complicated. If that’s not enough to reject him, he’s also married and 52.
  • He might possibly be Richard Gere.
  • Here’s an unusual wish from a 50-year-old gay guy from Hartford: looking for a man with “alligator thick skinned ball sacks”. Maybe he should write bad erotic gay fiction. Oh wait, he just did.
  • Ladies: he’s here to serve you, be your slave and he’s not concerned about your body type or your age (unless you are over 60). Among the things he is willing to do is this one I haven’t seen before: be used as your footstool. Enjoy, dude.
  • She’s curious and looking for a Puerto Rican woman.
  • Guys: he wants you to be “IN SHAPE”, 18-30 and he appreciates a great haircut (see example pictures). In fact, he’s willing to be your stylist and is hoping you’ll want him to shave you bald or make you look like a Marine. Prefers college boys and will “manscape” you too.
  • It’s not easy being five months pregnant, especially when you are horny as hell.
  • Now here’s an unusual ad: a 35-year-old white dude is looking for a couple. He’s at Bradley International (Hartford area airport) in the cell lot and stroking until 11 PM. He’s probably in the car with the fogged windows. That’s good as it will be hard to be seen with him, although having a threesome in a car sounds very problematic. He may get a caller, but I’m guessing it won’t include a she.
  • He’s 25, gay, from East Haven, has a small one and wants to meet other men with small ones or big ones, just to compare.
  • I don’t know how this 18-year-old gay “twink” from Tolland can strictly be a “bottom” and has a “virgin ass”. I mean, how would you know unless you tried?
  • I’m sure hoping this 23-year-old Jewitt City man looking for a woman who is holding a newborn baby in his picture is a new uncle and not a new father. He says it’s been a while since he’s been with a woman. Maybe it’s because his wife won’t put out while pregnant or nursing?
  • Here’s yet another sexual practice that I have no idea what it is, but it must be something women do with each other. She’s 21, from Meriden, is a lesbian virgin but says she is into tribbing.

More next month.

 
The Thinker

Ending the privileged caste

Perhaps you’ve seen the “This is water” video. If you haven’t, spend nine minutes or so watching it:

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately and if you keep up on contemporary American politics it’s not hard to understand why. We tend to take for granted what is given to us. For example, I appreciated my father who passed away last month but at the same time I took him for granted. I assumed most sons had fathers of his caliber. It wasn’t until many decades later – and particularly after having gone through the fatherhood process myself – that I realized how exceptional he was. I was barely able to emulate him for one child. He did it for eight of us.

Most of us go through life vaguely aware at best of the enormous resources expended on our behalf. Like a fish in a fishbowl, we take them for granted. The easiest ones to appreciate are our parents, who also become the easiest to despise if they don’t live up to our expectations. It takes a village to raise a child, Hillary Clinton opined in her book, but it takes much more than a village. It takes resources from the family level to the international level. These include clean water (something the residents of Flint, Michigan no longer take for granted), committed teachers, police, our military, ministers, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, doctors, orthodontists and even diplomats. The list is endless. In general, the more you can avail yourself of these resources, the higher the standard of living and your opportunities are likely to be.

Some of us are more favored than others. As we grow to understand this, our privilege becomes painful to acknowledge and sets up cognitive dissonance. At some level we of some privilege realize that our privilege was purchased at the expense of someone else’s. The dissonance generally results in denial. I am seeing it played out on the national stage, particularly in the candidacy of Donald Trump. Trump is riding collective white cognitive dissonance to a likely Republican Party nomination. Why? It’s because it is easier for many of us whites to support someone like this than to acknowledge, or worse address the bald fact that we are greatly disproportionately privileged. It’s not that we are better than other people, it’s that we got special treatment because we live inside a privileged caste generations in the making. Just as the fish is not aware of the water most of us choose to be deliberately ignorant of our privileged status.

In fact many whites in the United States are not privileged at all. Visit Appalachia and you will see plenty of them. Their lives are just as unprivileged and harsh as is a black child’s living in public housing in Southeast Washington D.C. and may be worse. Nonetheless, many of these whites won’t acknowledge this. They sincerely believe that because they are white they are better than the non-whites. In fact, Trump and other Republican candidates are exploiting them by pretending to throw the shield of white privilege over them, privileges that largely do not exist.

The Republican message is in two parts. First, it’s that because you are white you are better and deserve privilege and if you vote for the others you will lose that privilege. Second, is that you are “temporarily impoverished millionaires”. You just need to do a few things by yourself (never with the help of others) to become successful.

Both these messages are lies but are lies that most of us cannot acknowledge even to ourselves. On the first point, we all know innately that skin color has no more bearing on your capacity than does eye color. We even say these words while doing largely the opposite, and most of us aren’t aware of our inconsistency. On the second point we also know this is a myth with only a tiny kernel of truth. This perhaps had some truth in the past, when there were fewer hurdles to success. It’s painfully obvious that today to really succeed you need lifelong coaching and resources, plus a certain amount of tenacity and luck. You cannot rise from humble shoeshine boy to Elon Musk through tenacity alone. In Musk’s case you have to inhabit a rich technological world and have both the talent and resources to ride these changes to your own success and profit. This won’t happen to poor working class Appalachians or black children in Southeast Washington D.C. It’s not completely impossible, but your odds of winning the lottery are much better. Perhaps that explains why so many middle and lower income people play the lottery in the first place.

For someone like me who is white, privileged and can see that his success is largely a result of the rich nutrient “water” in which I was raised, the question then becomes what should I do about it. Should I emulate Jesus and give all my riches to the poor? Should I help out in soup kitchens? Just how much of my treasure and time should I give back? Of course, I give back already. I do give money to charity; in fact it’s an item in the family budget, currently $250 a month. Much of it goes to Planned Parenthood, environmental causes, a local food bank and a local abused women’s shelter. On the latter, I recently had coffee with an outreach director of the local women’s shelter and offered my time as a volunteer, coach and mentor; however I could be of use. Since I am otherwise retired, I don’t have lack of time as an excuse.

Perhaps my efforts deserve a pat on the back, but considering how privileged I have been in this life it deserves not even that. Of course I am quite interested in changing the dynamics, which is why I am a Bernie Sanders supporter. It’s quite clear to me that this institutional racism and classism is baked into our laws. To truly address these problems, laborers first have to be paid a living wage. Needless to say Donald Trump and all the other Republican candidates are running away from this idea, which has the effect of keeping the same failed policies in place. This in turn ensures more decades of inequality and will effective keep the others in poverty and in their place for future generations. Increasingly, we are the others and we are voting against our own best interests. Most of the lemmings following Donald Trump are being used to their own disadvantage.

I do know at some point I will inherit some money. My father left everything to my stepmother, but their wills are similar. When she dies all of us children (including our stepmother’s) will get 5% of their estate. I have no idea how much their estate is worth, but I’m guessing it’s about a million dollars. So perhaps I will inherit $50,000 or so.

I have been talking about this future windfall with my wife. We should not need the money to improve our standard of living and in our case $50,000 really doesn’t buy a change in our standard of living anyhow. Our daughter will get a hefty share of our estate when we are gone. $50,000 though can do a whole lot for someone further down the food chain.

When the windfall finally arrives, I plan to find one underprivileged but promising person and use it to move them a rung up the ladder. Aside from greatly reducing my own standard of living (which is actually reasonably modest but better than most), giving away my inheritance is the only significantly meaningful thing I can do, but only if done right. If it moves one poor but talented person from a life behind a fast food counter to doing something that gives them both meaning and income, it may set about a cycle of virtuous changes that may take many generations to flower. I am unlikely to witness these, as I will be planted six feet underground. It seems that the best I can do to make amends is to plant a seed, water it while I can and hope.

 
The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounters weirdness: March 2016 (Worcester, MA) edition

In my monthly samplings of weird but reasonably local Craigslist casual encounters postings, I’ve missed Worcester (it’s pronounced “wooster”), Massachusetts. It’s about an hour east of where we are living. I don’t think about it principally because I haven’t visited it, just driven through it instead. But it is Massachusetts’ second largest city with close to 200,000 people. Situated a bit outside Boston’s outer beltway, it’s had a reputation for being a faded industrial city, one of many here in the Northeast. It also has its own Craigslist community so it’s likely to have plenty of people into weird stuff. I’ll get to that in a minute.

But first, let’s take a look at my February Craigslist post statistics. It’s been a very slow month for fans of my Craigslist posts. I can document at only 156 web hits in February, but site traffic in general was very slow last month. There were just 1514 web page views, so my Craigslist traffic was just ten percent of total traffic. 69 of those hits were for my popular May 2015 post about Hartford’s Craigslist casual encounters postings.

There is a light snow falling here today. Let’s see if this is suppressing the creativity of posters in the Worcester area. Pulling up the first page of posts I see:

  • 25 men looking for a woman
  • 61 men looking for man
  • 4 men looking for a couple
  • 2 men looking for a transgender
  • 5 women looking for a man
  • 0 women looking for a woman or a couple
  • 0 couples looking for anyone
  • 1 transgender looking for a man

So right off the bat it looks like men will be dominating the posts this month. Here we go!

  • Do you know what a tribute is? I mean in the kinky world of Craigslist. I had to look it up but it apparently involves a man jerking off on a picture of a hot woman and perhaps sending it to the woman hoping she will be aroused. If I were a woman and received one of these I would be calling the cops not to mention running for the Purex! In any event here’s a definitely weird post from a 52-year-old man from Acton looking for a man who will jerk him off on a picture of his wife. Curiously you have to do this while he is actually watching her, albeit surreptitiously, clothed or naked. Wow! This is exactly the sort of gem that makes this area so special! Just when you think you have seen it all, something new pops up. And it was the first post at the top of the page!
  • Even if you are “gurl” friendly, you will want to avoid this ugly “woman” from Milford. “She” gives you plenty of pictures just in case the first one isn’t enough to convince you to hurry to the next ad. Maybe you should choose this 37-year-old gurl.
  • I’m definitely behind on how sex reassignment surgery is done. Not feeling the inclination myself, it’s a mystery to me how the surgeons do this magic. Apparently in male to female surgery, the surgeon gets to shape the new woman’s private parts including her most sensitive spot, the clitoris. And that’s what this 51-year-old Worcester man is looking for: a new woman with an extra large clitoris. Presumably nature doesn’t provide this naturally to many women. It also helps if you are a “squirter”. Anyhow, if you got one, hit him up! He’d best not wait by his mailbox for replies.
  • He’s 52, divorced, from Shrewsbury and has a sandbox he wants a woman to play in with him. Ladies, bring your plastic shovel and bucket!
  • This is strange: a man looking for a couple so the woman can watch while he deep throats her husband. All this plus he’s 58. He must be particular however as you must live in Worcester.
  • If you are a 23-year-old male virgin perhaps making your first sexual experience with a couple is not a bad way to get introduced to sex. It’s unclear what role if any the husband has in this other than as voyeur. Just in case the couple ad doesn’t work out he also has a more traditional ad.
  • He’s 46-years-old, a recent widower and actually from Rhode Island and needs a fuck buddy while presumably he works through his grief. Or maybe since he’s looking he’s beyond that stage. Anyhow, unlike most of these posters he looks like a normal guy, so hit him up, ladies.
  • There are lots of bad things that can happen in a casual encounter, but a lot that can be avoided. Here’s a gay 45-year-old man from Winchendon who wants you to bring a camera so you can join him in taking pictures of them naked. As I’ve noted before, testosterone makes men suggest crazy things and this is definitely one of them.
  • He’s 42 and from Webster and is looking for Jennifer Sherman so that he can peak at her through her window again. I do hope this was consensual last time. Any Jennifer Shermans in the Webster area should lie low for a while and if asked say it must have been that other Jennifer Sherman. Which brings up another unwritten rule for these encounters: if you are stupid enough to go through with them, never tell him your last name.
  • He’s young, from Worcester, has nice abs and wants to see you (a woman) gain weight. No, really!
  • She 27 and really likes dominant men, so much so that her dominant husband is not dominant enough. So hubby needs help from a second super dominant man to finally put her in her place.
  • In a similar vein, here’s a couple from Worcester looking for a gay or bi guy to join them because she gets off on seeing man on man, or at least a man enjoying her husband. That sounds fair given that so many men are into watching lesbians. The ultimate goal here is double penetration of the same orifice.

While few women are posting in Worcester, I am impressed by the weird postings mostly from men in Worcester, so it’s definitely worth a return visit.

More in April.

 

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