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Posts Tagged ‘ranty’

An open letter to dog owners

This post has been brought to you by the behavior of a very large dog at the post office today.


Dear Dog Owners of America:

Please train your dogs.

To those of you who actually do, I say, thank you! I appreciate your effort, and your dogs are probably lovely creatures. Unfortunately, you are in the minority, and the other dog-owners and their pets are making you look bad.

It used to be that whenever the Great Pet Debate came up — dogs vs. cats — I found myself wondering, why don’t I like dogs more? After all, the qualities ascribed to them sound great. I liked Platonic Dogs very well, but Actual Dogs much less, and I didn’t know why.

Then I realized that was because the majority of the Actual Dogs I meet are badly behaved.

They bark. They bite. They chew on stuff. They jump on anything and anyone they can get near. No, their “enthusiasm” is not adorable. In small dogs, it’s annoying; in large dogs, it can be outright dangerous. You know what’s adorable? A dog who knows how to express his enthusiasm in a socially acceptable fashion. Which is to say, a dog who is trained.

And no, a dog who brings the ball back when you’re playing fetch and sits (sometimes) on command is not “trained.” If you have to drag your dog down off the counter of the post office, your dog is badly trained and badly behaved. If he barks for a minute straight every time the doorbell rings, he is badly trained and badly behaved. If you have to bribe him with treats to get peace and quiet during dinner, he is badly trained and badly behaved. If he draws blood through my clothing because he tried to jump on me and his claws went raking down my thigh, he is badly trained and badly behaved.

A well-trained dog is one who knows how to behave like a civilized member of society.

I have met far too few of them in my life.

So please. For the love of god. Train your dog. Teach him when it is and is not okay to bark. Teach him to show enthusiasm with tail-wagging and jumping in place, not on people. Do not reward his bad behavior by giving him commands and then, when he ignores them, rewarding him with whatever it was he wanted. You owe it to your dog to be consistent, to give him a framework within which he can operate and be happy. And the rest of us would appreciate it very much.

This entry was also posted at Comment here or there.

Weather forecast: rain. LOTS of it.

Back in 2010, I decided that (as with the Wheel of Time before it), I was done reading A Song of Ice and Fire until the series was finished. I hadn’t read any of the books since A Feast for Crows came out in 2005, and knew I would need to re-read to refresh my memory whenever A Dance with Dragons finally emerged — and then would have to re-read again some years after that, when we got book six, etc. Better to just stop and wait, however long that took. I sold my copies of the first four (to free up shelf space) and washed my hands of it.

About a month later, Martin announced the Really No We Mean It publication date for Dance, but that was okay: I was at peace with my decision. It came out in 2011, and I didn’t read it, and I went on not reading it.

But in discussing the show with friends, I’ve grown tired of dodging spoilers (sometimes unsuccessfully). So I kind of wanted to read the book, just to fix that problem. On the other hand, it had now been more than seven years since I read the books, and I knew that without a refresher, I wouldn’t find Dance as satisfying as I otherwise might. And yet, I didn’t want to take the time to re-read that much stuff. On the other other hand, [personal profile] teleidoplex told me I wouldn’t find it satisfying whether I re-read or not.

Reader, she was right.

I am putting this behind a cut because a) it’s long and b) if your personal parade is a happy one, I don’t want to rain all over it. Because I was not impressed with this book. No, that falls short: there are things in here that decrease my enjoyment of previous books. If reading about that is going to make you sad, then click away now.


How to Fix iTunes

Several people were interested in this, so I figured a new post was better than replying in several places.

I believe what I did was this:

1) Click on the little dark/light rectangle in the top left — the one with a down arrow next to it, that does nothing to tell you what it’s for. (Design failure #1: I’m clicking semi-randomly on things to find out what they are.)

2) In that menu, tell it to show me the menu bar.

3) Now I have a “File/Edit/View/etc” bar. Thank god. But there’s something else I have to do before that can become useful.

4) Click over to Songs in that top ribbon — not the menu bar I just brought in.

5) This allows me to deal with the “Column Browser” sub-menu under “View,” which was inactive when I was still on the default Artist tab. I think it defaulted to showing me the column browser (which is what I wanted), but if not, you can turn it on here.

6) Now you have your genres/artists/albums listings up above, with the songs below, like it used to be (at least for me). But where the hell are my playlists and such, that used to be on the left???

7) Again under “View,” click “Show Sidebar.”

8) If you want, you can also click “Show Status Bar,” which gives you back the bottom edge of the window, where it lists stats.

That got me back all the navigational tools I was accustomed to using. I basically will never click on that top ribbon again, the one with “Songs/Artists/Albums/etc,” as any tab other than “Songs” is Ye Newe Terrible View.

Also, the “shuffle” button now operates more like on an iPod: it’s up by the top of a playlist name, and you click on it to start the music playing in a shuffled fashion. If, once it’s started, you want to turn off shuffling, that’s in the window where it shows time, etc.

Hopefully that’s useful to people.

Dear Apple

I understand wanting to make improvements to your program. But when I install a new version of iTunes and it defaults to a different layout that is HORRIBLE and NOTHING LIKE WHAT I HAD BEFORE, and I have to hunt around to 1) find what to click on to get a toolbar and 2) experiment in that toolbar to get back the navigational framework I had before? That is not an improvement. That is me staring in horror at what you’ve inflicted on me and praying to high heaven I can get it back to what it used to be. (Which I could. Thank god.)

Don’t do that to me again.


I can’t help but steal Ta-Nehisi Coates’ title for this post, since his blog is where I first caught wind of this story, and his title was a good one.

Over at Gawker, Adrien Chen has posted about the notorious Reddit troll (and also moderator, which is a key point) called “Violentacrez.” It unmasks VA’s real identity as Michael Brutsch, but for my money, that’s not the interesting part. Instead it’s the dissection of Reddit’s “free speech” culture, and the way that its paid employees decided it was easier and therefore preferable to make a deal with the devil, rather than attempt to enforce any sort of decency above the bare legal minimum.

What do I mean by that? You should go read the article, but here’s a sampler: VA was very good at hunting down and eliminating actual child pornography posted to Reddit, so they were totes okay with the fact that he was running a giant subreddit called “Jailbait” whose members trawled the web for pictures of adolescent girls in bikinis or short skirts and posted them for the prurient entertainment of their fellow Redditors. (Because, y’know, if they didn’t want creeps on the Internet drooling over their bodies, they shouldn’t have dressed like that, or posted their pictures online!) Oh, and he was really energetic about policing Jailbait not only for child pornography, but also for any girl who appeared to be older than 16 or 17. Good to know he was on the ball!

Of course, there’s been great outrage at Reddit. About Violentacrez? No, of course not. About Chen’s great crime in “doxxing” him — exposing his real identity. On this topic, let me just quote Chen:

Under Reddit logic, outing Violentacrez is worse than anonymously posting creepshots of innocent women, because doing so would undermine Reddit’s role as a safe place for people to anonymously post creepshots of innocent women.

I am OK with that.

And so am I.

As Scalzi points out, a lot of this is based in a skewed sense of what “free speech” means, plus an unhealthy dose of privileged entitlement. The notion that I am abridging somebody’s constitutional rights by getting in the way of their ability to be a goddamned asshole, is, to put it succinctly, bullshit. Am I glad that Brutsch has lost his job (with a payday lender, apparently, which Fred Clark at Slacktivist has commented on)? No, of course not. He has a family to feed. But I don’t blame Chen for that, either. Brutsch thrived because the culture of Reddit allowed him to get away with reprehensible behavior, and the cost of that to other people is real. His pigeons are now coming home to roost. I’m sure Redditors will take up a collection on his behalf, and they’ll inundate him with sympathy for the terrible and unjustified witch-hunt against a guy who only wanted to entertain himself with other people’s suffering.

But in the meantime, Chen has struck one little blow against Internet sociopathy. If I could donate to him, I would.

Gun control

Sure, let’s go ahead and play with fire. I trust my readers to be civil to one another in the comments.


I simply cannot. understand. the state of gun laws in this country, and the direction they’re headed in. That people think private gun ownership should be legal, yes; that people think civilians ought to be able to walk around with a semi-automatic rifle, no. That you should be able to go hunting, yes; that you should be able to carry a concealed handgun anywhere you like, no.

And yet our current progress is toward less regulation of guns, not more.

I’ve seen the usual pro-gun arguments, and very few of them make sense to me. Hunting! Do you need an AR-15 to kill a deer? Defending my home! How many lives have been saved by shooting the intruder, and how many have been lost due to those guns being put to another purpose? If only somebody in that theater had been armed, they could have stopped Holmes! It’s a nice fantasy, but do you really think one or more civilians shooting in a darkened, panic- and smoke-filled, chaotic room — against a guy in body armor — would have resulted in fewer deaths, rather than more?

I could go on. Even if we ban guns, criminals will still find ways to get them. So this means we shouldn’t try to regulate them, to keep an eye on who’s buying what, and to keep the really dangerous things out of the hands of people without black market connections? People will still kill each other, just with different weapons. Weapons that can’t easily take out their victims in mass quantities; I’d call that an improvement. You’re far more likely to die in a car accident than from a gunshot! True, and I’m also in favor of improving automobile safety, as well as regulating guns.

But treating those two as equivalent is nonsense. Cars serve an absolutely vital purpose in our society that has nothing to do with inflicting violence on others. If we banned motor vehicles, this entire house of cards we call a country would fall down. Furthermore, there’s a balance point between minimizing risk and the costs thereof, and it’s hard to decide where that should fall. Most people agree that making cars incapable of going over twenty miles an hour would be an unacceptable cost, no matter how many lives it would save. We make calculations like this all the time, even if we don’t like to admit it.

But right now, we’re saying — as a society — that this is an acceptable cost for gun rights. So are this, and this, and this. And a bunch of this, though I can’t find a list that just covers the United States. And we’re saying that minimizing that risk would cost more than we’re willing to pay. That waiting periods, background checks, mandatory training, prohibitions against carrying a concealed handgun in particular places, bans on weapons that serve no purpose but to slaughter large numbers of people at high speed — those would take away something so precious that it’s worth the lives of all those people.

We’ll ban costumes at movie theaters instead. Because we all know that guns don’t kill people; people wearing costumes do. (With guns.)

And yeah, yeah, Second Amendment! This post is a very rational assessment of that, and I agree with a lot of what it says (including the follow-up). Our private gun ownership laws, in their current condition, are not providing us with “a well regulated militia,” nor are they contributing to “the security of a free state.” Quite the opposite, I’d say.

Mind you, I do agree with the guns versus cars post that we’re doing a terrible job of promoting solutions. Those of us who favor gun control need to find new tactics, a way to change the conversation to one the NRA hasn’t already won. I don’t know how to do that — but I do know we need to actually talk about it, and not just mouth platitudes about tragedy and then go our way as if Aurora was no more preventable than an earthquake.

I do take comfort from the statistics that say gun violence has actually declined in recent decades, and so has gun ownership. That’s good to hear. But when smallpox deaths declined, we didn’t celebrate that and stop there; we went ahead and eradicated the disease completely. Do I think we can eradicate gun violence? Of course not. But we can do better, and should.

inadvertent internet bankruptcy


I just closed Firefox with the intent of rebooting it, because I’d opened some things that were making it laggy.

When I relaunched the program, it did not restore my tabs. Nor did it let me have the “Restore Previous Session” option. Nor did it list anything under “Recently Closed Tabs.”

They’re just gone.

Well, um, I guess that’s one way to clear out my browser? I’ve managed to remember some of what I had open, but not all of it — not by a long shot. Like, less than 50%. Some of the things I know I had open, I can’t recreate well enough to pull them up in an address bar. The rest, I don’t even remember what they were. Which I guess you could argue means they weren’t that important to me . . . but that isn’t actually true, since some of them were things I had open for reference purposes, and it annoys the snot out of me to have them vanish.


If a picture is worth a thousand words . . . .

. . . then we’re nearing a novel’s worth of argument here.

A while back, jimhines posted shots of himself posing like women on the covers of books. ocelott followed up with a compare-and-contrast of men’s poses vs. women’s, again with attempted reproduction.

Well, now Jim has done the other side of the equation, posing like some male cover models (from romance as well as fantasy). As he points out, not only are the poses less uncomfortable, their mode of objectification conveys power rather than sexualization. And those are really, really not the same thing.

And, for an encore, there’s Emily Asher-Perrin’s article on, “Hey, Everyone — Stop Taking This Picture! (No, I Mean It.)” And, um, yeah. Quit it with the butt shots already.

If you can look at those things and still not think there’s a problematic pattern . . . oof. I think the kindest interpretation I can put on that is “willful stupidity.”

Death threats are part of the game we play

Whether you paid any attention to Christopher Priest’s rant about the Clarke shortlist or not, you should go read Cat Valente’s follow-up post, about what would have happened if a woman had said anything even half that scathing.

This is the reality women live with online, and sometimes in person. It isn’t even just a thing that happens when we yell at somebody, when we criticize something, when we get angry. It can happen when we say anything the reader doesn’t like. Express a political opinion? Post pictures of yourself online? Root for the wrong sports team? “Bitch, I hope you get raped to death like the ugly cow you are.”

Because for a frighteningly large segment of the populace, that’s what you say to shut a woman up. It’s a knee-jerk reflex, like swatting a fly.

How large of a segment? Who knows. Any number larger than “pathologically unwell people who are or should be seeing a mental health professional” is too large. And they’re loud. They swarm the internet, they take over the comment sections on various sites, they poison the water and drive out the good, and for whatever reason, we let them get away with it. We don’t band together like we should and say, start acting like a human, instead of something out of Lovecraft.

(I’m laying off the hyenas, out of consideration for my commenters.)

Sometimes we say it. Some of us do. I don’t do it often enough because, to be honest, I stay away from comment threads most of the time. When I see things like the response Jim Hines dissects, my hands go cold, my fingers start shaking, and whether I respond or not I spend the rest of the day chewing that piece of foul-tasting meat over and over and over again; it’s easier just to avoid the trap. But I need to go to bat for human decency more often. We all do. Again and again, until we’ve sent this malignance howling for the shadows.

Have I gotten death threats, rape threats, any of the hatred Cat describes? I haven’t, actually. But the sad thing is, I know that isn’t because I’m a nice person who doesn’t deserve it, a good, demure woman who doesn’t need to be put in her place.

It’s because not enough people are reading what I write. Give me a bigger microphone, and the sewage will come to swamp me, too.

We need to cut this shit out. The men who spew this kind of thing need to get over whatever misogynistic reflex makes them say it, and the rest of us, men and women alike, need to keep telling them so until they do. I don’t know how we do that — I don’t know how we get it through their skulls — but we have to try. Even the attempt is a form of support for the ones drowning in the bile, and they need all the support they can get.

For fuck’s sake, people. That is a person on the other end of the things you say. Remember that. And summon up the basic compassion to care.