Archive for the ‘Sociology’ Category

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.

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 ‘’. 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.


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