Archive for the ‘Sociology’ Category

The Thinker

The roots of terrorism

Ever get this strange feeling of déjà vu? Last Friday’s horrific terrorist events in Paris are being called France’s 9/11. Last I checked there were 129 mostly French citizens murdered in six separate but obviously well coordinated terrorist incidents in Paris, and more than three hundred wounded. I don’t think it’s coincidental that these incidents occurred on a Friday the Thirteenth. The date may not have the same unlucky connotation in France that it has here in the United States, but ISIS (which admitted to sponsoring the acts) and al Qaeda know the power of marketing and symbolism. Anything that they can do to make such events more memorable will be done, and tying events like this to memorable dates is one.

Shortly after 9/11 here in the United States, our military did the expected things. We sent our air force into Afghanistan. In our case it worked reasonably well, at least at first, because we destroyed the Taliban government there that hosted al Qaeda. We installed our own more secular and western government in its place; a form of government that was not natural to the region and which unsurprisingly caused a strong insurgency.

Fourteen years later al Qaeda is a diminished presence in Afghanistan, but Afghanistan is hardly stable, secular or particularly democratic. The Taliban are resurgent and it looks like more civil war is ahead there; in fact it has already begun. Our leadership took being caught with its pants down as a sign that America had to be proactive to address these threats, so we unwisely toppled Saddam Hussein. The state of ISIS, such as it is, is a direct result of that unwise action. Indirectly, the U.S. has contributed to last Friday’s events.

The French government of course quickly decided that their own 9/11 could not go unanswered, so it sent its considerable air force to bomb targets in Syria controlled by ISIS in coordination with our own. This was done to presumably degrade and destroy ISIS that just last week President Obama unwisely asserted was contained. ISIS proudly admitted that it had planned and coordinated these attacks. It was done for the same reason that Osama bin Laden planned and coordinated 9/11. His goal was not so much to destroy the United States, as it was to use the U.S. as a proxy to further his cause. And it worked amazingly well for him, actually better than he imagined as our invasion of Iraq introduced anarchy that eventually allowed ISIS to rise.

Presumably France won’t go the extra mile the way the United States did in Iraq, but it does not have our vast military resources anyhow. Presumably its leadership is a bit clearer-headed than ours was after 9/11 and realizes these military strikes are more to satisfy their citizens’ cry for a counterpunch rather than to meaningful affect a particular outcome.

Fires remain fires only as long as they have a combination of fuel and oxygen. Understood in this context, ISIS’s actions were predictable. The neophyte state is rather amorphous but it certainly needs energy to continue. The oxygen comes from more people committed to their ideology, and the fuel comes from its funders. ISIS exists in a resource poor part of the Middle East, so most of its money actually comes from outside the state, i.e. those with money that support its radical version of Sunni Islam. To get the money it needs to continue to demonstrate it has power and can draw recruits. So going for soft targets like innocent civilians in Paris is logical. It’s relatively easy to demonstrate that it can execute power over a free society like France. Such acts will inspire many and it will impress its creditors. It allows the state to continue because its military has been significantly degraded by allied airstrikes and by the many forces engaged on the ground in the region.

Fourteen years after 9/11 it’s obvious from these incidents that if there were easy ways to contain terrorism they would have worked by now. In fact, if there were hard ways of containing terrorism, they would have shown affect by now as well. Invading Iraq and trying to stand up a secular government there is a hard thing to do. Actually there has been a lot of progress, but it’s mostly unseen. While intelligence within ISIS is poor, our intelligence capability has improved remarkably during this time. It’s just not enough in a free society to stop periodic incidents like these, although many do get deterred and prevented. A state cannot know everything and call itself free.

It’s possible that with time ISIS will be degraded and destroyed as President Obama hopes. However, even if this victory happens, it doesn’t solve the problem. Ideology in general is the real problem. If ISIS goes and the dynamics of radical Islam are not addressed as well, it will simply spring up elsewhere in other forms in the Middle East. Wiping out ISIS in other words is merely winning a battle. The real war is to change hearts and minds.

In 1995 the United States endured the Oklahoma City Bombing, an act of domestic terrorism. This act was similar in size and scale to last Friday’s incidents in Paris. Its perpetrator Timothy McVeigh was not particularly religious, but he was dogmatic. He was deeply conservative in the sense that he was upset about changes happening in America. He believed that changes disenfranchised white people, and that these changes were being achieved through the federal government through what he perceived as its pro-liberal policies. At its root, McVeigh’s complaint was that he was against democracy when it did not favor his interests. He believed enlightened ones like him had the duty to change things through acts like terrorism when this happened.

Basically McVeigh was an authoritarian, something that resonates strongly with many Americans, most of who align with the Republican Party. Stripped of its religious façade, that’s what the War on Terrorism is really about: it’s a struggle between those powerfully pulled to an authoritarian framework versus those who believe government should be run democratically come what may. The roots of this conflict might very well be genetic, as there is convincing research that shows that liberals and conservatives are wired differently right down to their DNA. Conservatives believe in authoritarianism and feel in their bones that they must follow the leader like a sheep providing they can trust their leader and conversely to wholly distrust the leader when they don’t (hence their utter contempt for President Obama.) You can see this in Donald Trump’s appeal. Conversely, liberals are comfortable with ambiguity and want to empower all the people.

This conflict is probably not going to go away with ISIS or even al Qaeda. However, it’s clear that within the last hundred years or so liberals have been winning promoting a more secular, humane and tolerant world. Regardless of the rationalization that impels terrorists (God, Islam, racism, communism) the common threat is liberalism (i.e. progressive social change), which is manifested through secularism, representative democracy, freedom and tolerance for those unlike us. If more intolerance in France can be created then France begins to model ISIS in spirit. Islam is more likely to take hold in a country where the culture favors authoritarianism.

ISIS isn’t explicitly aware of this, but in this mindset requires intolerant and authoritarian governments. It fights for a world where government enforces its own radical brand of Islam worldwide, but this is a fight that can never be won. However, it can inadvertently be a proxy in a larger and more nebulous cause to put in power those whose DNA makes them comfortable with the leader-and-follower model, and that reviles tolerance and ambiguity.

France must do what is pragmatic to lessen the likelihood of future incidents. However if in response it discards its values of freedom, secularism and tolerance then whether ISIS thrives or dies does not really matter: the uber-cause of authoritarianism wins, and France loses.

The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounters weirdness: November 2015 edition

Last month I surveyed the casual encounters weirdness scene in and around Albany, New York and found much there to highlight for us fine purveyors of smutty ads. Today I am going back to Hartford, Connecticut to see if anything has changed there.

But first here are some statistics. My blog received at least 182 web page views on my Craigslist posts in October, about twenty more than last month but still not impressive. At least 19 of these were for the Albany post so it probably behooves me to look around at neighboring cities to increase traffic and just for variety. I got 1623 web hits for the month, so that’s about 11 percent of the web traffic.

This Friday evening on the first page of posts I find:

  • 33 men looking for women
  • 41 men looking for men
  • 7 men looking for a couple
  • 6 men looking for a transgender
  • 12 women looking for a man
  • 0 women looking for a woman
  • 1 couple looking for a couple
  • 0 couples looking for a woman
  • 3 couples looking for a man
  • 1 transgender looking for man
  • 1 transgender looking for a transgender

Let’s see if we can find some choice postings:

  • She’s 25 and from Hartford and she wants to be used, abused and name-called. Being married is not a problem, but small dicks are. She’ll try anal sex if you know how to do it. Hint: it involves inserting the penis into the rectum. Meanwhile in New Britain is a 24-year-old woman who wants to turn the tables: she will “peg” you (a guy) with her strap on but you have to host.
  • Take pity on a soldier two days after Veterans Day. This man is on active duty and from his picture looks like he in somewhere in the Muslim world, probably Afghanistan. He wants to chat with a woman and wants to know what you would do with a soldier. I’m guessing it’s not practicing salutes.
  • She’s 27 and wants to take your virginity. All men should apply because what do you have to lose? How can she possibly tell?
  • Is he hetero or gay? Maybe he swings both ways. Whatever, he’s a 45-year-old redhead in Berlin at a hotel off the turnpike and he’s horny enough take either gender.
  • There are not many women willing to lick your asshole, but there is at least this 34-year-old woman.
  • He wants a kinky and dominant woman, and you can wax him if that’s your thing or even dress him up. Sounds like he wants to be someone’s cuckold, but most likely he will strike out again this evening as usual.
  • She’s 31, very shapely and looking for a few good men. And by “good” she means well hung and willing to gangbang her.
  • This black dude says it’s his last time posting but I’ll bet you’ll see his cock again in a future ad.
  • You don’t see this every day: he’s searching for his pimp.
  • This 47-year-old man is offering free oral service to women. You can visit him or he can deliver. If he’s good, put him on your speed dial.
  • It helps to know Spanish to know this couple from New Britain is age 50+ but they are looking for a man to orally service both of them. It’s unclear if either or both will return the favor.
  • This gay 45-year-old white guy from Enfield is looking for a gay black guy for “chocolate milk”. He may be disappointed when he finds out he’s only going to get vanilla.
  • Guys, you can submit to two women at once with these two dominatrix girls.
  • This 55-year-old man from Hartford is basically looking for a kinky Dr. Marcus Welby. He doesn’t need a real physician but it would help to have a white lab coat and stethoscope. In a similar vein, this mature white couple from Bloomfield is looking to use a real OBGYN table for some kinky fun and need your help. It’s unclear if you can watch.
  • He’s 69, heavy, apparently gay, married and from Somers and wants to meet up with a man for some relief. I’m guessing the missus is done with sex.
  • He’s 39, from Manchester, wearing his wife’s pantyhose and wants to meet a guy who will blow him while he wears the nylons. I’m guessing his wife will wonder how the pair got so soiled and stretched.
  • Men, you don’t need to get her plastered to screw her: she’s already drunk and waiting.

More next month.

The Thinker

Shame on the Mormon Church for shaming innocent children!

Lately I’ve been feeling a bit more charitable toward the Mormon Church. It’s like they are starting to grow a conscience. Perhaps indirectly it is due to Pope Francis who has been reaching out to communities like divorced Catholics and gays, and that’s causing them to feel the pressure. Both Catholics and Mormons are still opposed to gay marriage. Not much of a surprise there. But surprisingly in January the Mormon Church has voiced support for housing and employment rights for LGBTs. It’s not wholly unconditional as they demand accommodations for those who see it as immoral, but for the Mormon Church this is quite a leap.

Well, that was January and here it is November and the Mormon Church just announced a policy that makes me want to spit nails. I guess I should not be too surprised that the church considers couples in a same sex marriage as apostates. To become Mormons these same sex couples must effectively divorce each other and must also disavow these types of marriages too. After all a marriage in the church’s eyes must be between one man and one woman (although at one time could be between one man and multiple women, so apparently the policy is fungible.)

But to discriminate against the children born from a same sex marriage is beyond reprehensible. It’s one thing to put a Scarlet A on Hester’s bosom; it’s quite another thing to do the same thing to her child’s. But the Mormon Church, yes, they are going there. According to CNN:

A new Mormon church policy considers church members in same-sex marriages as apostates whose children will be barred from baptism and church membership unless they disavow same-sex unions.

Suppose these children want to be Mormon? They must wait until they are adults. Oh and they must renounce gay marriage too, effectively estranging them from their same sex parents. Then they can join and be baptized in the Mormon Church.

I’m not too much up on Mormon theology, so maybe baptism is not as big a deal as it is in the Catholic Church. At least when I was growing up Catholic if you were not baptized and died you could not get into heaven. You weren’t sent to hell but the theology, as I understood it, was that these souls ended up in Limbo. Perhaps they eventually got into heaven at some murky date after the end of the world.

In any event to shame innocent children for the “sins” of their parents and worse to force them to effectively renounce their parents to belong to the Mormon community as an adult is just vile — it’s like the shaming bastard children used to endure. Maybe vile isn’t quite the word, I just can’t think of a word worse than vile. It should have any Mormon with any compassion in their soul running at a sprint to get away from their evil “church”.

The problem with being a Mormon is a lot like being a devout Catholic, particularly in Utah where the population is overwhelmingly Mormon. Not being a Mormon is effectively to be apart from the rest of your community, and not in a good way. Obviously it’s not like that everywhere in Utah, and in particular not true in Salt Lake City with its heavy LGBT population. In any event the policy is just plain mean and the exact opposite of Christ’s message, which was about inclusiveness and unconditional love.

The Mormon Church is effectively sticking a badge of shame on any child of a same sex couple. It’s a badge that in certain heavily Mormon communities will put these children at a disadvantage. For when society says you are different and when you get this message from most of the people in your community, you can’t help but pick it up and bury it deeply inside you. The unspoken message is there is something wholly broken in you. As children it doesn’t take much to feel and integrate shame into your personality. Many children never get over these feelings of toxic shame. They carry it throughout life, in this case through no fault of their own, living broken lives.

So this policy is not only wrong, it shames the institution of the Mormon Church and proclaims very loudly to the rest of us that it is a false church. The rest of us — that is the rest of us with a conscience — must send a loud and clear message to the Mormon Church that this latest act is truly evil.

We must embrace the innocent children of same sex relationships with the same unconditional love due any child. Every person, child or adult, has equal dignity, has inherent respect and must be loved for who they are. God is color blind, but apparently the Mormon Church is not.

To the elders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints: shame on you for your toxic and evil policy. To the extent I am a praying man, I pray that this policy is short lived and that your so-called church personally apologizes to every couple or child or such couple affected by this decision.

The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounters weirdness: October 2015 (Albany NY) Edition

This month instead of looking at postings in Craigslist’s Hartford casual encounters site, I’m going to look instead at Albany, New York’s site. Albany is a major city about ninety minutes by car (with a fair tailwind) to my west. Albany is also the capital of New York State. It happens to be situated about twenty miles from Schenectady, where I was born. Curiously with the lack of much in the way of FM news stations here in the Pioneer Valley, I listen to Albany radio quite a lot, more specifically WAMC at 90.3, the NPR station. So perhaps it’s appropriate.

First let me provide a report on my September Craigslist statistics. Google Analytics reports at least 162 web page views for my Craigslist posts in September. This is pretty low and may be the lowest number of hits since I started recording these statistics. I say “at least” because Google Analytics dashboard won’t show more than ten entries with “Craigslist” in the title, and I know these posts are read frequently via other media like newsfeeds. This is ten percent of my 1628 web page views for the month. So perhaps this Craigslist traffic trend has peaked at last. We’ll see in subsequent months.

Anyhow perhaps things will be fresher in Albany than they are in Hartford, Connecticut. No way to know without diving in. It’s the first Friday of the month so doubtless people have high expectations for their weekend. On the first page of posts I see:

  • 35 men looking for a woman
  • 47 men looking for a man
  • 5 men looking for a couple
  • 2 men looking for a transgender/transvestite
  • 1 man looking for multiple men
  • 3 women looking for a man
  • 2 women looking for a woman
  • 2 couples looking for a man
  • 1 couple looking for a woman
  • 2 couples looking for another couple
  • 1 transgender/transvestite looking for a man

And we’re off:

  • This 47-year-old man from Guilderland doesn’t understand that wanting to give oral sex to a young man is not a fetish. Symorophilia, now that’s a fetish. Anyhow, it’s too bad this man is only 47. If he were 60 or older, this younger man from Albany would be interested.
  • Now this is weird: this “horny housewife” is looking for two guys who are related to ravage her. Some examples include father/son, two brothers or uncle/nephew. I guess that’s keeping it all in the family, but what would mom say?
  • This couple age 29 and 31 want another woman to join them. What makes it kind of weird is that she probably won’t participate in any actual sex. Instead, they get to watch her slip bras and panties on and off while they get it on. Only if there is chemistry will things go further. It’s unclear how they will draw a woman in the first place if all she will do is repeatedly dress and undress. They might want to rethink their marketing strategy.
  • This sixtyish couple likes to hear other couples describe their most private and erotic fantasies. And that’s all they are offering: you type it up and send it email and they will read them and send back some of their own. They also want to hear your real life exploits.
  • Looks like my new hometown of Northampton, Massachusetts will be hosting a bunch of swingers early next week. Not sure why they are making people drive all the way from Albany and are having it during the workweek, but anyhow if you are a couple hit them up.
  • If you are a woman with too many panties or need some side income selling your used panties, contact this Albany man. He wants a long-term thing if possible, so maybe he’s planning to open his used panty museum.
  • Here’s a gay guy who has a foot fetish, so guys he will do all sorts of peculiar stuff to your feet and toes with his hands and mouth but he is not into men who used athletic socks or sneakers and you have to be available evenings and you got to send him your stats and shoe size.
  • No lie: this gay man from Schenectady is looking to be bottomed today in a bookstore with others watching. Schenectady police: please respond.
  • This woman is hoping to find her next husband through a Craigslist casual encounters post. Unless your standards are incredibly low, may I suggest OKCupid or eHarmony?
  • Cuckold couples: he wants to be your bull, but is he 46, 48 or 53? More than likely, it’s the latter.
  • If you are a woman who likes to be rimmed, here’s the guy you need. If you don’t know what rimming is, the picture will show you.
  • He’s a 55-year-old transvestite with erectile dysfunction, so that part is off limits. Otherwise guys, have fun!
  • This cat from Colonie will play with other women while her man is away in New York watching the Mets game. She’s 32, pretty and slinky and has some very explicit pictures but guys, just piss off!

There will be more next month when I may explore Boston.

The Thinker

Dear Pope Francis: you are half the way there

Presumably Pope Francis is now back in Rome and settling in after a whirlwind tour of Cuba and the United States. He’s a pope who is hard to dislike, perhaps because he comes out of the Jesuits. For a pope he is also suspiciously pragmatic.

He was not shy expressing his opinions while in the United States. Mostly they gave Republicans heartburn as he preached to them on subjects they did not want to hear: that poor people had equal rights, that income inequality had to be addressed and that global climate change was a serious problem. He spoke passionately of the refugee crisis affecting mostly Europe and asked America to do its part compassionately. He complained that corporations were not working in the interests of the people as a whole.

Democrats did not wholly escape his preaching. He spoke passionately about the family, but his idea of a family looked a lot like June and Ward Cleaver’s and seemed to exclude marriage for same sex couples. Still, overall it was refreshing to hear messages from a pontiff that were truthful and people-centric. Francis is a catholic in the apostolic and universal sense of the word. He even acknowledged that those who do not believe in God could be good people simply by acting as good people.

It’s not enough to make me return to the Catholic Church. It’s a lost cause in my case, as I don’t believe Jesus was God, and I don’t believe in miracles, saints and most of the peculiar beliefs of Catholics. I’m too left-brained. But his words as well as his actions (like having dinner with homeless people and riding in the back of a Fiat instead of a limousine) convinced me he is a much different pope, beloved as few will be, and acting in the spirit of Jesus. Pope John Paul II was much loved and is even on his way to sainthood, but Pope Francis’ appeal extends significantly beyond the Catholic faithful to much of the world at large.

I really tuned into his message on climate change. He introduced a small ray of hope into a problem that looks gloomy at best and catastrophic to humans and most species on the planet at worst. Perhaps some of his grounding on the matter came from outside the church. Before becoming a priest, Francis worked as a chemist. He earned the rough equivalent of an associate of science degree in chemistry in Argentina. Francis understands enough about chemistry to know that when you introduce too much carbon dioxide into an atmosphere, with no other changes to the system then temperatures will increase and it will affect most living species. He sees the obvious costs of our industrialization and acknowledges that the earth is finite and we cannot continue to exploit the earth’s resources so unintelligently.

What he did not acknowledge was that population growth is a major driver of climate change. Without an end to population growth and probably a long-term effort to reduce the earth’s population, climate change cannot be reversed. Humans drive almost all climate change because we all put demands on the earth simply to survive. The problem is much worse in industrialized societies because with increased standards of living we want more stuff, and this consumption also feeds climate change.

It’s not enough to practice “natural family planning” as a population control solution. The Catholic Church advocates refraining from intercourse during a wife’s fertile period and abstinence as the only non-sinful ways to limit family size. The rhythm method of course is chancy at best, which leaves abstinence as the only foolproof and sinless methods of birth control for devout Catholics. It makes it virtually impossible to be both a devout Catholic and an environmentalist. If you are familiar with Catholic theology then you know that using birth control pills, IUDs and prophylactics are sinful.

If Francis truly wants to take a concrete action to address climate change then simply giving Catholics permission to use these and similar forms of birth control would be a huge step forward. Of course in many parts of the world, people are too poor to afford birth control, so also stridently arguing that governments should make birth control universally available for free to all citizens is as necessary as giving birth control devices church sanction. Among the many benefits will be a reduction in abortions. Children never conceived cannot be aborted.

China’s somewhat loosened one child per family policy was effective at limiting its population growth, but at a horrendous cost. It meant forced abortions mostly of females and arguably wreaked a lot of psychological damage. It’s not hard to envision a time when climate change becomes so pressing that something like this becomes policy in most countries. While it may be necessary to do this simply to survive as a species, such policies would be the opposite of humane.

This doesn’t have to happen. With over a billion adherents, if the Catholic Church were to change its policies on birth control then it would do a huge amount in the medium term to limit population growth and subsequent climate change. It would be a humane step forward. Francis has the power to do this today.

I am not a praying man by nature, but I pray that Pope Francis will see the light on this and very soon. Our future, and the perpetuity of the Catholic Church may depend on it.

The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounter weirdness: September 2015 edition

It’s a little early for my monthly review of the local (Hartford, Connecticut) Craigslist casual encounter section. I usually wait until the first Friday of the month because weekend postings tend to the most weird. But I’m between clients at the moment and a bit bored. Moreover, I’ve done a lot of weighty posts lately so it’s time for a bit of fantasy, which is almost always the case for these postings being realized.

Looking at my August traffic, there were at least 221 web page requests for my Craigslist posts on a total of 1376 page views. So while overall page views were in their usual summer doldrums, my Craigslist post accounted for 16% of traffic, up from last month.

Looking at who’s posting I count the types of ads on the first page that comes up. It’s mostly men looking for other men today. I was thinking after the recent Ashley Madison hack the married men would have moved to Craigslist, but apparently not in large numbers. Anyhow:

  • 30 men are looking for a woman
  • 48 men are looking for a man
  • 6 men are looking for a couple
  • 4 men are looking for a transgender/transvestite
  • 0 women are looking for a man. That’s likely because their ads were quickly flagged.
  • 4 women are looking for a woman
  • 2 couples are looking for a woman
  • 1 transgender/transvestite is looking for a man
  • 1 transgender/transvestite is looking for a transgender/transvestite

Time to put on the dark shades and latex gloves and document some of this month’s weird nastiness. Since there aren’t many postings from women today, I’m going to spice it up by adding some postings from women more locally, i.e. the Western Massachusetts Craigslist section.

  • She’s a married BBW from Windsor Locks and her husband is okay with you screwing her bareback. In fact, he only wants you to take her bareback because apparently because he’s apparently quite interested in whatever you end up depositing. Eee-yuck!
  • Lots of women post for very well endowed men. Here’s a twist. Here’s a guy who wants you served his way. Hold the pickles; ladies he only wants you if you have big buns. And he wants to plant some hickeys on those buns too.
  • This is pretty strange. He sounds like a married farmer in the Farmington Valley but he’s willing to provide a free room to a woman if he gets to look at you (presumably undressed). He won’t touch you unless you are okay with it. You do have to help with chores. And somehow his wifey is not going to figure this out.
  • Attention Home Depot security at the Glastonbury store. He’s 40 and stroking his eight inches in the store (discreetly, I hope) and is hoping to find a man to join him. Let’s hope they don’t scare the women, children and horses.
  • He’s hoping! He’s near Wethersfield and he’s hoping you’re a woman with a car and you will pick him up for some naughty stuff because his car is in the shop and his roommates annoy him. He’s probably still sporting acne (he’s 19).
  • Now this is interesting. It’s illegal to exchange money for sex but I don’t think it’s illegal to barter for sex. In exchange for a woman’s pleasure he’ll provide handyman services. It sounds though like he wants a lot of your services in exchange, so I’m not sure it’s a fair deal. Ladies, he’s got six inches and he lives near Plainville.
  • I was dimly aware of a device called a fleshlight. It’s a wanking device for a man who has everything but a woman with a vagina. I didn’t know it came in a double size so two (presumably gay) men could use it at once. Anyhow, this young man from Windsor Heights is looking for another man for multiple dual fleshlight sessions.
  • They claim to be three people from Newington (two men, one woman) that play together. They are looking for a fourth, and she needs to be a she. Anyhow, in the unlikely event a woman tries to hook up with this triad, I’m betting the woman in the triad is mysteriously absent and came down with a sudden cold or something.
  • About that transgender looking for a transgender? She is now a he and all the surgery is behind him. He is now looking for a fellow transitioning male in any stage of his transition for naughty intimate play mostly involving his new part.
  • He’s from Manchester and is looking for Hooters girls only. He’ll make it worth your while.
  • Attention grandpas near Southampton, Massachusetts. (I might add it is about five miles down the road from me and I happen to be old enough to be a grandpa.) Anyhow, if you have had your Cialis and you don’t mind catching some dread disease this submissive woman from Southampton wants you to take her bareback. Umm, pass.
  • I don’t quite understand why a butch lesbian would be advertising for a guy but she’s all-natural apparently. Either she’s bisexual or she’s hoping to get pregnant.

That’s about all the weirdness I can find this month. Perhaps there will be better postings in October.

The Thinker

Ashley Madison stupidly lets itself get pwned

So I have been streaming Mad Men on Netflix. It’s a strangely compelling series about the world of Madison Avenue in the 1960s. It’s a world of constant drinking, endless cigarettes and infidelity. The principle character is Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm), the creative director for the advertising firm Sterling & Cooper. As we quickly learn, Don was previously Dick, he is a deeply messed up man, and he also happens to be one hunk of a guy. Don’s a liberal drinker, a liberal smoker and a liberal bed hopper as well. He does this while somehow staying married to his ultra pretty and slinky wife Betty (January Jones).

It takes a few seasons but Betty eventually figures out Don’s infidelities. They divorce but Don keeps bedding the women, often inappropriately, including his secretary. Yet Don is hardly the only character in the series with his pants down. Most of the characters are involved in an illicit relationship or two. I have no idea how close any of this is to real life on Madison Avenue, but from what I’ve read it was not too far off the mark. Most of the men are caught between who they really are and the roles they are supposed to play. How they manage all this screwing around in these pre-Ashley Madison days is kind of mysterious, but likely all that booze helped reduce inhibitions.

Yesterday of course the infidelity website quickly went dark after hackers posted a dump of its database on a number of websites. While bad for cheaters out there, what it said about Ashley Madison was even worse. First, its security system was laughably bad. Second, even after the hack they could have taken down their site and saved their forty million members embarrassment, but they didn’t. They kept collecting fees right up until they went dark. In short, they gave the online infidelity business not only a moral stink but in an unexpected way: they were so busy chasing short term profits that they were willing to throw its forty million customers on mercy of their spouses. Doubtless the hackers provided samples to prove they had hacked the good stuff, including apparently seven years of credit card transactions. AM was hoping they would blink.

Doubtless too that marital counselors and divorce lawyers are going to get a sharp increase in business. It would not surprise me if their phones were ringing off the hooks. As for AM, I wouldn’t blame its customers if they arrived en masse to torch its offices. Cheaters of the world, unite! Anyhow, fifty years after Mad Men, there are still plenty of Don Drapers out there that are mostly hooking up online. Until a couple of days ago apparently Ashley Madison had the lion’s share and then some of this market.

What interests me is not that AM brokered infidelity. As disgusting as most people at least claim to view infidelity and those that aid them, there are far worse things on the Internet, with ISIS beheading videos coming immediately to mind. Some entities like AM are to be expected in our electronic age. What’s interesting and more than a little appalling is how bad a job they did in keeping their clients’ information confidential. As a software engineer, but also as a guy that is currently getting paid to ghostwrite articles about data security, AM gets an F.

Yes, AM kept a record of all its credit card transactions for the last seven years! It’s such a mind boggling, stupid and reckless thing to do, particularly given the profitability of the site. It would have made much more sense to give in to the hackers’ demands and quietly establish a new site under a new name, oh and fix those security problems too. Doubtless they had the money to do it. Forty million customers, figure 30 million of them men, figure each putting out at least $50 each, that’s at least $150 million in revenue. Since they’ve been in business fifteen years, it’s likely a lot more than that. Likely their overall revenue likely exceeded a billion dollars, not that we’ll know for sure. They aren’t publicly traded, although maybe their successor or whoever buys the brand (Vivid Entertainment?) will be publicly traded, and doubtless do a better job at security.

If I had fewer scruples and more money I might create the next AM site, one that its dubious clients could actually trust. Of course there are always risks in anything done over the Internet. AM’s clients now understand that. The next AM is bound to arise from its ashes, and probably sooner rather than later. Here are some actions items for whatever entrepreneur wants to sail in these turbulent waters in the future:

  • Do not keep records of credit card transactions. Just don’t. Purge these daily, if not more often, from any internal databases. Don’t journal them on backup somewhere.
  • Do not collect any privacy information from your customers, you know like their real names, address and phone numbers. Instead, let some third party act as your broker. Your client gives the broker some money and the broker provides some electronic token identifying the payee that doesn’t actually identify them to your company. The future AM should never collect anything that could identify their clients.
  • Accept more discreet ways of payment. There are lower tech and anonymous ways to pay fees confidentially: wire deposits and money orders, for example. I’d say accept BitCoins but BitCoins are hardly anonymous.
  • Don’t use cloud hosting. Use your own data centers that only you can access and control.
  • One person can’t do this in his basement. So find employees who have a history of being trustworthy, very talented, and discreet and pay them very well. Give them incentives to be discreet. Make their bonuses contingent upon their contributions to improving the business’s security.
  • Retain security experts. To get AM’s entire database required a whole lot of bandwidth. This can be monitored. The tools exist to cut off suspicious behavior already.
  • Do regular vulnerability testing of your website and applications. The tools are out there. Of course fix any vulnerabilities found quickly.
  • Hire a CISO, a Chief Information Security Officer with of course the right credentials.
  • Don’t store obviously sensitive information, like a client’s IP address. Passwords should be encrypted in a MD5 hash in the database.
  • Tell your customers what your security plan is. Get an annual (or more often) security audit from a trusted security auditor and publicize the results for your customers.
  • Provide your customers security tips, like clearing your browser history. I can think of another one. Figure out a way for clients to share pictures anonymously. I’m pretty sure it could be done with Instagram.

As for AM’s clients, those who are not on their way to marital counseling or divorce court, you might consider picking up strangers at bars again or just plastering them with lots of alcohol in the privacy of your office. It sounds cheaper and faster. It worked for Don Draper.

The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounter weirdness: August 2015 edition

And we’re back with our monthly local look at Craigslist’s casual encounters section. We always hope as usual to find some unusual gems of weirdness among the heaping pile of mostly mediocre postings. We’re looking at Craigslist’s Hartford, Connecticut section again because it’s a sizeable community not too far from me. I may move to Boston or Albany on occasion just to see if posts are any weirder over there.

In June I had close to three hundred web page views for this stuff. Passion must be cooling as I can only document 180 reads in July for my Craigslist posts. However, traffic was down in July in general, a phenomenon I see every summer, with 1466 web page views, so this traffic still accounted for 12% of traffic, which is about normal.

Scanning the first page of posts on this Friday morning I see:

  • 43 men looking for a woman
  • 39 men looking for a man
  • 2 men looking for a couple
  • 2 men looking for multiple men
  • 1 group of men looking for a man
  • 5 women looking for a man
  • 2 women looking for a woman
  • 1 couple looking for a woman
  • 2 transgender persons looking for a man

Let’s see what the cat drags in today:

  • This is promising. The first post is from a man with a breast pump looking for an adult breastfeed/adult nursing relationship. He’s open to just about anyone but presumably there has to be a woman in there somewhere, although he is happy if you are a couple, lesbian or straight. Naturally he prefers if you are lactating but I guess he is willing to try to get things primed given that beggars can’t be choosers. Oh, and about him: six foot, 43 and he’s XXX which in this case means extra, extra, extra large but he’s cool with his size. He will send you his picture if you reply. He doesn’t have to worry about straining his fingers from attaching his picture to all the replies he will get.
  • She’s from Enfield and eight months pregnant but horny as a toad. Her idea of a good time is not a well-endowed man but a woman with a strap on. You have to host and drive.
  • Ladies: he’s 21 and wants to eat your ass out, but only if you are clean. Go figure. No reciprocation and you must host for some reason. Gents: here’s a 28-year-old woman with the same obsession but only if you have nice buns.
  • If it’s one thing female posters tend to be clear about when looking for men online: no dick pictures! Men put them up anyhow assuming just the opposite, including men like this 21 year old dude from East Hartford. He is hoping they will attract black women, although apparently any woman will do. Curiously although you can see two explicit dick pictures, he’s willing to send you more. Umm, dude, there’s nothing left to reveal!
  • Speaking of big dicks, if you are you 50+ and have one, this 50+ married woman wants to hear from you.
  • Be her date … to the Hartford “Arts” Cinema where XXX movies play all day and kinky action happens inside the theater that at least occasionally can model the action on the screen. This black coed will be your date. For the price of two tickets (you pay) she will be the slut you always wanted and presumably both you and the raincoat crowd there will have plenty of carnal knowledge of her.
  • Now this is definitely weird: here’s a guy looking for a public wanker: another guy under 40 to jerk off on his car window or dashboard window.
  • He’s looking for a guy but has a unique requirement: you must be Russian.
  • She can’t get enough and must be too much for her swinging partner so he’s cutting her loose. She likes dominant guys with hard bodies and prefers younger men for their rapid recovery power. Like the Energizer bunny she claims she can keep going and going all night. Bring the Cialis.
  • Having stinky feet is an asset to this man, and he is willing to pay a woman for the opportunity for a close encounter with them.
  • Her boyfriend is going to be surprised when she (flying in from California) comes to visit and brings you along for a little threesome action. You must be a woman between 24 and 30.
  • It’s not everyday that you find a cross dresser looking for another cross dresser. I’m not sure what they would do together. Compare erotic underwear? I probably don’t want to know.

More next month.

The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounters weirdness: July 2015 edition

It’s a Friday in New England and thus a good day for my monthly sample of the postings on the Craigslist’s Hartford (Connecticut) casual encounters section. My guess is at best only 1% of these will get realized this weekend, if that much. But we humans like to dream big, so let’s see how big these dreams are this weekend.

My traffic tends to slow down in the summer, due to vacations or whatnot. This was true in June, with Google Analytics showing a total of 1,334 web page views. Significantly though traffic for Craigslist posts on my site was way up: at least 280 page views, or 21% of my web traffic. So this posting is for you fellow Craigslist fans, who are always curious to see what curated bizarre and unusual requests from the id I can find every month.

Surveying the first page of postings I find:

  • 33 men are looking for a woman
  • 32 men are looking for a man
  • 5 men are looking for a couple
  • 6 men are looking for a transgender
  • 2 women are looking for a man
  • 1 woman is looking for a woman
  • 3 couples are looking for a woman
  • 2 couples are looking for a man
  • 2 couples are looking for another couple
  • 3 transgender people are looking for men
  • 1 transgender person is looking for a couple

Let’s don our latex suits and dive into the cesspool:

  • Do you like your transvestite men in leather? This guy who actually lives in Vermont likes his leather, likes his bike and cruises New England regularly looking for pretty much anyone (man or woman) who wants to use him as his or her submissive biker “bitch”. He may be in leather, but he’s not much to look at. Amazingly, there are pictures of him at it with at least one guy, so you probably won’t be the first one on Craigslist to actually meet this “woman”. And you won’t have to wait long to contact him. His phone number is embedded in a picture. Happy cruising!
  • Life is coming up yellow for this Plainville man, or at least he hopes it will. He’s basically looking for a woman to piss all over him, and if you want he’ll return the favor. I’m betting he provides plenty of free drinks. There’s a dorky picture of him next to a Christmas tree to see what you will get, but if you don’t go blind from looking at it, you’ll probably feel an urge to run away instead. He wants to stay super clean so good news: urine is generally very sterile.
  • She’s 28, married and looking for another guy for sex only. The only thing that makes this post unusual is she’s quite flexible about your age. She’s willing to consider a married man up to age 50.
  • He’s not a real doctor and he lives near the border between Connecticut and Massachusetts, but I have to give him an A for effort for his “doctor/patient” fantasy. He must have taken a creative writing class. Anyhow ladies if you want to try this scenario with this pretend physician or just need to read something to buzz off to bliss with his post is at least worth a read. This poster will do too, ladies, particularly if you have fantasies about oral sex.
  • This 30-year-old woman from Mansfield wants to discreetly give head to a guy through a gloryhole. It must be at her house or apartment, because her husband will be in the next room and won’t know what’s going on. You must be completely quiet. If she is doing her work right would be pretty hard to stay silent, I would think. As for hubby, I would think the hole in the door might be a clue. No wonder she is “super nervous”.
  • Men, are you stupid and horny enough to leave two twenties somewhere and then rush somewhere else to meet a woman you haven’t met for some paid sex? This poster apparently thinks some men on Craigslist are stupid enough. He’s certainly right. Avoid this lady from East Hampton.
  • Hey, there’s potential glory for any of us older men with a still highly active endocrine system: there’s another post from a 20-something woman looking for age 50+ men like me. Also, likely the same woman is looking for her daddy in two posts.
  • Some men like to be used with a strap on. Good news: here’s a woman that wants to do it to her “slave”.
  • Ladies: she just wants to watch you get off by yourself.
  • This young woman from Meriden is looking for a woman for a short-term friend with benefits relationship. But goodness, from her detailed ad I think she’s interviewing potential marriage partners! Oh, and she’s sharing dozens of pictures.
  • In perhaps an attempt to increase interracial harmony this white couple (age 40) in a hotel in Hartford wants to hook up with a local black couple tonight, providing the male is very well endowed.
  • In a similar vein, here’s a senior couple looking for thin seniors only to mess around with.
  • This couple I think is the same one I mentioned last month because she is 54 and he is announcing that she will be available Sunday at the Hartford Art Cinema from noon to 4:30 PM. This is as likely as many men is going to get to finding sexual contact through Craigslist this weekend, so I’d go with this option guys. I doubt your minister will approve.
  • Hey straight men, if you so horny you don’t mind oral sex from both husband and wife, and you are age 30 to 45 and fit, then this 39-year-old couple from Windsor Locks will tag team you. But boy they sure do have some unusual and kinky requirements. After reading them you may figure out you aren’t as horny as you thought.
  • I guess this gay guy is flexible because he is willing to tag team with his bi guy friend with a woman or a couple. Some women though get off on watching two guys get off, so this may be a rare opportunity to experience it live. If you strike out with these guys, try these two guys.

There will likely be more in August.

The Thinker

Craigslist casual encounters weirdness: June 2015 edition

It’s that time of the month … for my review of the local Craigslist casual encounters section. When I say “local”, in this case “local” is Hartford, Connecticut, about an hour’s drive south from where I am living now. It’s the first sizeable metropolitan area near me now. If it’s not sizeable, the postings tend to be lame. I tried reviewing Hartford last month and found it quite promising.

I can count at least 194 web page views for this stuff in May, or about 11% of my total web traffic. Today at midweek looking at the first page of ads I find that as usual horny men are taking over the place:

  • 41 men are looking for a man
  • 42 men are looking for a woman
  • 1 man is looking for multiple men
  • 4 men are looking for a couple
  • 2 guys are teaming up and are looking for one woman
  • 2 transgender women are looking for a man
  • 2 couples are looking for a couple
  • 3 women looking for a man

Hopefully, Hartford won’t disappoint me in June. Let’s dig in:

  • Legitimate postings from women in this part of Craigslist are pretty rare. Here’s a 63-year-old woman looking for an endowed man to give him a blowjob. The only thing that piques my curiosity is how many men (probably much younger) are so horny they don’t care about her age. I’m betting it’s a lot but I’m not convinced the ad is legitimate.
  • Can a FWB (friend with benefits) also be a freak? That’s what this self-proclaimed big beautiful woman wants from her FWB. She doesn’t want just any freak, but a very well endowed black man who is freaky. She’s 44 but doesn’t want you if you are attached. Speaking for myself, the last thing I want in a friend is someone freaky.
  • Two female roommates are looking to “share” a well-endowed man, presumably at the same time. Curiously though they won’t host. What’s up with that?
  • She offers “sweet relief” but it sounds like she really offers especially intimate massages, all completely safe, so don’t expect kissing or penetration. I’d bring a lot of cash.
  • She offers even safer sex: naughty pictures by email of her 19-year-old coed body, but only for a fee, of course. She’s posted at least twice: here and here.
  • She is looking for officer material … literally. If you aren’t a police officer, don’t bother responding.
  • How respectful is a 59-year-old man posting as a woman so he can get you to read an ad where he says he wants to watch you masturbate to orgasm? Not very. Respect starts with being truthful, dude. Post this crap under m4w.
  • Are you a submissive lesbian woman hoping for a dominant 28-year-old woman? This lady from Glastonbury looks great in her red dress, so even if you are not submissive you might want to fake it for the chance to play with her.
  • Ladies, here’s your opportunity to try out a woman from Vernon who has never had a woman, but only if her 21-year-old boyfriend can watch. Pass.
  • In a similar vein, here’s a submissive lady looking for a “sister slave”. Pass on this one as well.
  • This is odd: a couple is looking for a well-endowed black man to see intimate pictures of his 45-year-old wife, but you will never meet. It all has to be done virtually. Why do their requirements matter? And why bother if this is your thing? You can see five intimate pictures of her posted in the ad and save yourself the hassle of contacting them.
  • This is odder: a couple is looking to get spanked by a man age 60 or older, but they are not looking for sex or inappropriate touching. A dirty old man can’t catch a break on Craigslist!
  • It’s not often that you can see what you will get in advance. Hartford has an art cinema and this couple is coming there to play on Saturday, and the wife will be very accommodating to all men that meet her criteria. Freshly showered and well-endowed guys should plan to be inside the Hartford Art cinema starting in the afternoon. They’ll be playing on both levels. She may be 51, but she can wash my car anytime. See photos.
  • This is a confusing ad: a man-woman couple is actually a dominant man and “she” is his slave boy, age 24. They are looking for you (a guy) to have “her” to degrade and do many other nasty things to “her”, but only safely.
  • He’s 55 and is looking for a man to “rim”. If you don’t know what that is, suffice to say you probably don’t want to know. He doesn’t want to reciprocate but you must be half his age or less. The main requirement is to have nice buns.
  • They are a couple. He wants her to squirt, but she doesn’t know how, so she needs a teacher. You (a woman) should come over and show her how it is done. My question: where do you get certified in this stuff?
  • Hair is good, the more the better according to this gay man who likes his men natural, including sporting an untrimmed beard.
  • Finally, an honest man: he’s simply looking for a “piece of meat”. I’d suggest a tube steak from the local Big Y.
  • Last but not least is this truly kinky ad from a woman looking for a man. Dildos and an open mouth are required. She’s in her late 30s.

More in July.


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