20 September 2014

i need to be happy with the man i am

as i previously posted, i found out on the internet that i'm apparently a man. this came as a bit of a surprise to me and dominic still doesn't seem to accept it, but dozens of ukrainian ladies can't be wrong, right? i continue to get emails from lots of them saying that they never approach men on the internet, but that they felt that i was different. [they're not wrong about that. -ed.]

this week, fair adriana [whose parents clearly intended that she would be either a die hard goth princess or a porn star], emailed me several times with this message:


i thought that the first question was some sort of survey like "how do you happen to become or feel sexy?" until i realised that her excitement about contacting me was such that she'd omitted a comma. hey, at least she got "you're" right.

of course, i don't remember her from facebook, probably because we've never encountered each other on facebook or anywhere else. how do i know this? because she seems really excited about the prospect of giving me a blow job and even a quick glance at me would be enough to let her know that that plan just wasn't going to work.

but immediately after i started receiving her messages, i got this one:






so maybe the problem is that i haven't noticed that i'm a man because i haven't taken these pills? is it possible that adriana and her ukrainian friends know something that i don't? am i just a man with exceptionally little to brag about? to be fair, the increase would have to be amazing for me to pass as male and there are still a couple of things that i'd have to explain, but hey...these sorts of things have to be regulated, i'm certain...

then i realised that i'd feel a little more comfortable about the whole thing if that name didn't look suspiciously like something from an ikea catalogue.




i don't think i ever got the right number of screws with my bënno cabinets and there are certain places where an allen key just shouldn't go.

so whatever the promise of those pills, i'm afraid that everyone will just have to take me as i am. and they'll have to explain what that is to me, because by now even the basic stuff has got me confused. 


19 September 2014

exactly how far do you want to take this, zuckerberg?

as many of you may have heard, facebook is clamping down on people who aren't using their real, or rather legal names on the social network. much of the attention has been directed towards drag queens, who want a personal profile under their performance name rather than their legal name, but the fact is that facebook's terms of service require everyone to use their legal name for their personal profiles. drag queens are just a very obvious example and also the main group who have spoken up.

drag queens, of course, might want to connect with friends and fans in the scene, apart from establishing a fan page [to say nothing of the fact that it's easier for privacy-minded users to hide their friends than it is to hide the fan pages they like] and the best way for them to do that is to use the name by which they would be recognised. being forced to use their legal name risks exposing them to ridicule or worse from close-minded employers, family or community members. but, of course, that's hardly the only issue.

as spokespeople who tried to convince facebook to back off from their sudden crackdown noted, this also threatens women and children who have suffered spousal abuse and who want to hide their whereabouts and, indeed, anything about their lives, from their former abusers. and it's unclear how the policy would accommodate transgendered persons who are in the process of transition, or even people who change their name after marriage, divorce or for any number of perfectly legitimate reasons.

most of the people who i know who have opted to use a name other than the one that appears on their birth certificate, however, have had one main reason for doing so: to keep their private life separate from their work life. if coworkers and bosses find them harder to trace, it means that they are afforded a certain level of protection. that doesn't just mean that they have the freedom to mouth off about their employers [which isn't a great idea even if you are flying below the radar], but if they wish to keep their personal details private, using another name means that they are free to do this. employers, particularly in the united states, have become increasingly insistent on being able to access social media information about prospective employees and facebook appears to be siding with them. yes, a user can set his or her profile to "private", but that blocks people with whom they want to connect from finding them as well.

facebook seems to have targeted the drag queens first, deactivating a number of accounts under professional names in one sweep [although some have since been restored], however, it remains to be seen exactly how far they will take this. what about authors who use pen names? one of my perennial favourites, jon stewart, was born jonathan stewart liebowitz. david bowie was born david jones. long before any legal change, do you seriously think either of those men weren't referred to by their stage names by friends and colleagues?

and it can get even dumber: a legal name is the name on your birth certificate or other government documentation. that technically means my name is in contravention of facebook policies, even though it's the name i've gone by every day of my life since i was born. it's true. there exists not one legal document on me that contains the name "kate", but no one who actually knows me [the people with whom i'm supposed to be connecting through facebook] would look for me as anything other than "kate". it's a strange little distinction that stems from the fact that the first name on my birth certificate is different than the one i use, but since it's always easier to get official documents based on other official documents, it's just easier to come back to the birth certificate for those purposes. so does that mean i have to change my name, facebook?

this touches on the issue of what constitutes a "real" name. if i choose a name when i present myself to the public, is that not "more real" than one that someone else put on my birth certificate? if most people know me by one name, how does opting for a lesser-known legal one increase transparency?

ultimately, facebook is a private company, no matter how ubiquitous it is and therefore zuckerberg and his board are free to enforce this regulation to the letter if they so choose. however, there are precedents for placing limits on the powers of private companies, particularly when they provide an important public service and hold a disproportionately large market share. facebook may still look like a fad to some, but the fact is that many jobs require a familiarity with social media and networking is an important part of doing business, which means that having a facebook account is less optional than it might seem, at least for the moment. furthermore, it is specifically a facebook account that's important. no one is going to judge you for being absent from twitter, but it constitutes a sort of statement at this point to stay off facebook; think of the people who have steadfastly refused to get an answering machine or voice mail as a comparison. so if it's expected that you'll be on facebook, or if your life will be made a lot easier if you are on facebook, it becomes a service that's not exactly essential, but still a little more than voluntary.

my guess is that facebook has no intention of fully enforcing this rule [although that would be the only fair solution, they've already bent to the will of famous people like lady gaga]. i'd like to believe that they are cracking down in an effort to stop internet bullies from hiding behind fake names or using the names of others on fake accounts, but the fact that they chose drag queens as their first target group tells a very different story. when you choose to make and example of a group in such a way that you expose them to harm, you don't get to claim that you're acting in the interests of safety, facebook.

[the image at the top of this post is, of course, rupaul, who is always just rupaul.]

it certainly doesn't cover everything wrong with the rule, but if you'd like to let facebook know that they should be allowing performers, all performers to use their stage names, you can sign this petition

17 September 2014

making faces :: think outside the palette

remember back when i was talking about summer collections and i got a little frustrated because i couldn't get nars' "tropical princess" eyeshadow duo to work the way that i wanted? no? it's ok, you can read about it here.

we've moved headlong into fall collections [even though i continue to support some kind of law that stops cosmetic companies from selling seasonal collections until that season actually starts, or at least until the month when the season actually starts, because it's like being able to go to the future to buy makeup and do absolutely nothing else, which would be lame, although since we're somehow in mid-september i have to admit that it's probably ok to talk about fall and should get back to what i was doing], but before i rush into the latest that nars has to offer [and i will], i wanted to work a little harder to get something going with this beauty that just never seemed to come together for me.

after my previous experiments and some reflecting on my journey through seasonal colour analysis, it occurred to me that part of the problem was that, while the colours have an iciness to them that i should be able to support, there isn't a huge level of contrast. on a lot of people, that wouldn't be a problem, but wasn't one of the things that i discovered that my particular complexion seems to demand an exceptionally high contrast level? [spoiler: yes, it totally was.]

so with that in mind, i thought i'd try to introduce a little more "zing" to the whole look by combining "tropical princess" with some other shades i have at my disposal. and the results?

15 September 2014

mental health mondays :: marketing insanity

and you should feel lucky for a warm place to stay
a few days ago, local employment service grenier aux emplois posted a link to this article, detailing the excuses that unproductive employees use to justify their behaviour. as i read it, i was trying to control myself from screaming out loud at the computer. i rushed to their comment thread to show my ire and was gratified to see that at least a half dozen others before me- most of them small business owners or managers- had had much the same reaction. score one for conscientious employers in quebec.

but what i find fascinating is that someone at praxis- who are ostensibly trying to provide some sort of training for young entrepreneurs- wrote this up, got cutesy graphics to go with it and published it on line without realising what a complete piece of tripe it was. people proofread this. people greenlit this. and it's about the best example of how workplace psychosis functions that you could find outside of a large-scale study.

i've already written about the widespread phenomenon of burnout and its costs to society in general, so maybe i'm approaching this backwards. because the real issue may not be burnout at all, but the depraved way in which employers are encouraged to adopt increasingly sociopathic tendencies. think i'm exaggerating? let's look at some of the "unproductive excuses" targeted by the agency wanting to train the leaders of tomorrow.

points 1, 4 and 9 all demand that the employee's needs be subjugated to those of the corporation. the employer is entitled to receive more than what they are paying for [point #1- stated clearly]; benefits to the employee are not as important as those to the corporation [certainly arguable, since the whole must function well in order for everyone to benefit, but there is no distinction made between refusing to work towards the benefit of everyone and reluctance to work at something that will benefit only those at the upper echelons- even questioning that is grounds for dismissal]; and finally, the employee should never be allowed to feel that they have earned something- money, respect, benefits- everything is to be deemed a courtesy that needs to be justified by the employee through their hard work. and who judges when the work has justified the investment? why the investors, of course. any sense on the part of the employee that they are deserving of something is to be deemed "unproductive" and therefore dangerous.

one of the hallmarks of the sociopath is their inability to feel empathy for others and a sense of entitlement. the points above are all about entitlement- to an employee's loyalty, hard work in excess of the reward offered, to the employee's very sense of dignity. it's not important how these people feel about being exploited, what's important is that they always believe that they are at fault, that they are undeserving. thus does the sociopath get what he or she wants from others- by pretending [constant dishonesty is another hallmark of sociopaths] that they will some day be able to rise to the level of the deserving underling.

SO MUCH MORE TO EVISCERATE...

14 September 2014

won't someone please think of the drunks?

in just a few short days [all days are the same length -ed.], scotland, country of at least some of my ancestors, will decide whether or not it wants to end over three centuries of union with england and become a fully independent country. pundits from around the world have weighed in on the subject, especially since the gap between "yes" and "no" support has fallen to nigh on nothing.

source
as you can see, the unionist cause has been in the process of destroying their comfortable lead for several months, with the two latest polls indicating either an eight-point lead for the separatists or an eight-point lead for the federalists. those are strange results, given that both polls are about the same size and both results are outside the margin of error. i think that the biggest takeaway is probably that scots like to fuck with people and that no one has any idea what's going to happen on thursday, possibly not even the scots themselves.

despite the dire warnings emanating from "no" side proponents, including all three parliamentary leaders of the [for now] united kingdom and corporate heavyweights british petroleum, who took time out from their busy schedule of gross negligence to warn that the oil revenues so crucial to the nationalist financial plan are a short-term boon, the nationalist cause appears not just tenacious, but burgeoning. and just today, the predictors of financial doom and gloom were dealt a serious blow when international bookmakers standard and poor determined that an independent scotland's financial prospects were actually pretty good.

the "no" campaign has been heavily criticized for its scare tactics in the lead-up to the referendum and i can only guess that no one among them ever bothered to look at how such tactics have worked for others. as a "survivor" of such a campaign, my advice to david cameron et al would be to invest in some diapers for the big night, because you are likely to spend several hours shitting your pants while the results trickle in. not only has the "yes" cause shown themselves to be more practical in their financial planning than the quebec nationalists who came within a sigh of winning their battle, but now they have similarly been able to co-opt the spirit of positivity that has been shown across nations to be a powerful motivator at the polls.

my own personal concern is that no one is taking into account the needs of my particular demographic: the international consumer of scotch whiskey. i don't know if scottish first minister alex salmond is taking this as seriously as he should. scotch is, after all, the country's second biggest export and ties into other industries like tourism from people who dream of a land where hot and cold single malt run from the taps. [reality check: they don't -ed.] we are all great appreciators of your independent spirit[s], but when representatives of the industry start going on about possibly crippling increases in manufacturing costs and delays in access to some foreign markets [which ones, mr. salmond- which ones?????], we get edgy. and no one seems to be taking our needs terribly seriously. it's all well and good to say that things should be fine, but i'm far from convinced and if someone like me who grew up hearing about how the evil english basically drove my family from their idyllic homeland, is skeptical of your argument, well, others are going to be in a panic. and international supporters of scottish independence aren't reassuring us.

in fact, scotland is in an extremely advantageous position when it comes to plans for separating: it's highly unlikely that they would be denied entry into the european union and the short-term ability of england to restrict scotland's usage of the pound sterling is questionable at best. while it might seem like the country would lose a lot of influence being a tiny fish in the european pool as opposed to a partner in one of its great whales, one of the lynchpins in the nationalist cause is that scottish politics, more progressive and left-leaning, has a lot more in common with that of europe than it does with increasingly conservative england. so they would be trading off a minority role in a union with whom they had profound disagreements for one in a group where they felt more comfortable. do you know what that means to me? europe gets first dibs on the scotch. if the e.u. lets scotland join them [and really, there's no reason for them not to, especially since it would piss england off and none of them really like england to begin with], they will collectively be scotland's best friend plus they're going to want to do everything they can to help scotland's financial prospects just as a way of telling england "haha, we were right and you can kiss our continental butt cheeks". avid scotch consumers on other continents are going to be afterthoughts in this equation and you know what that means? we're screwed.

the referendum in scotland is certainly of interest to other european separatist movements, since it may provide a blueprint for their eventual secession in favour of a larger european "parent"- an affiliation rather than a subjugating nation- but the fact is that none of them has scotch, so their future plans aren't going to impact my life one way or the other.

having an ancestral claim doesn't entitle me to vote in the scottish referendum, because as of yet, they haven't gone the israeli route and invited all their tribes in diaspora to make their way home, so i'm hoping i can count on some member of the clan of keppoch to speak for my interests: as destabilizing as separation could be for all concerned, i suspect from what i've read that it could work and though your current level of independence would be envied by other minority cultures, i understand the pain of being a european state trapped in the current political climate of the uk [most quebec residents do]. all i ask is that you consider the needs of your poor cousins who were exiled from the country for no other reason than that we fought for your fucking independence before it was cool. if you keep the pipeline open [not that north sea shite; you should be looking at renewable energy anyway], we will support your noble cause. interrupt the flow and we will end you with blood and fire.

ahem, i mean, good luck with that decision on thursday. i'd like to think that you'll take into account your international obligations.
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