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Playground Proofing

(Okay. Pardon me for tooting my own horn. But before I published this one here, I decided to send it off to A Voice For Men. I’m publishing a teaser here – the full article is here.)

I am old enough to remember flat, wooden-board swings in the playgrounds of my childhood. A flat wooden board wide enough for an adult’s hips, hanging on sturdy steel chains from a really high (to a child’s eyes) frame. A kid could really pump high on one of those swings, high enough to feel himself almost floating above the seat at the top of its arc, high enough that I never dared jump out of it at full swing. High enough to be scary; high enough that a fool or a daredevil could get hurt on it. Boy, they were fun.

I am young enough to remember when they swapped those wooden boards for thick flexible straps like little hammocks. They weren’t made for a kid to pump them, to swing high and feel the excitement. I couldn’t get a good swing out of them, anyways. They were made to keep a kid from falling off. They were ‘playground proofed’ to keep a kid safe – an admirable goal, I assume – but they had a hidden cost: A kid couldn’t fly high and get the thrill. And nowadays, when I look at playgrounds, I see that so much has been done to ‘keep a kid safe’ that it’s hardly possible for a kid to have fun on the stuff any more. They were designed for mommies, not for kids. And they’re deserted.

Well, it’s more than playgrounds that are ‘playground proofed’ nowadays. We find this same ‘protecting from consequences’ as a major, almost a prime, goal of modern society. What’s even more striking is that this ‘playground proofing’ is being conducted, directed, mandated, for the benefit of one class of people over another … a privileged class that has been historically protected from their bad choices, from their folly, from their mistakes and their consequences, by the other ‘class’ which were carefully taught the goal of keeping them safe, and warm, and comfy, taking care of their needs, and protecting them from harm, even if that meant protecting them from their own folly and not giving them the chance to learn from their consequences. But their bad choices and folly and mistakes have gotten so out-of-hand, their ‘needs’ so overblown, their demands so greedy and their complaints so outrageous, that more and more of the ‘underclass’ is turning its collective back on them and leaving their care and protection-from-folly to the hands of the Mommy State.

The name of the privileged class? Woman….

(The rest of this article is on A Voice for Men. Read it there. AVfM is to Beyond The Sunset as a B-2 Stealth Bomber is to a hummingbird. I am so proud …!)

One of the problems of solo sailing is that you still have to sleep. You still have to eat, and fix your meals, and use the head. You have to leave the boat to make its own way, when you do these and if it can’t stay on course, you’ve got a heck of a problem.

There are a few ways to handle this, but only two of them work if you’ve got a sloop (like mine) with a helm wheel (like mine). You can install a mechanical device that keeps your boat pointed correctly in reference to the wind (a wind-vane system), or you can install an electrical/electronic device that keeps your boat on the magnetic-compass course that you want to follow more-or-less … an autopilot. For a boat like Halcyon, the electronic solution costs about one-third the price of the wind-and-water-powered version, and it requires a boat-owner to do a lot less modifications to his/her boat.

So it is that I decided to entrust Halcyon and (and my own skin) to that latter, electronic system … decided, with trepidation and reservations, because of the less-than-stellar performance of a similar autopilot system on my previous boat, Bossa Nova. And with my first little day-sailing voyage using the new and improved Raymarine X-5 Wheel Pilot, I am thoroughly delighted with the device as it runs on Halcyon.

Otto the Autopilot, on board Bossa Nova (artist’s misconception)

As I suggested, I had some prior experience with autopilots because I decided to put one on ‘Bossa Nova,’ my Macgregor 26X … which is best described as ‘a 26-foot sleep-aboard sailing dinghy.’ The MacGregor 26 series are trailer-borne day-sailors with enough amenities to work as a weekend-or-vacation getaway for one, or a couple, or a man and wife with two young children … or so they say. I’ve used it as a vacation home, and as a funny-shaped travel trailer, and it worked well enough for me by myself; but it’s a very light and ‘nervous’ boat, built for protected waters and/or excursions in the best of conditions. Because I was sailing solo – the whole point of my sailing, because I don’t expect or plan or wish to need someone else sailing with me – I needed some ‘help’ to keep Bossa Nova on-course when I had to take down and flake down its mainsail. And ‘Otto’ did a pretty good job of that. Otto was noisy, though, and drank up the amp-hours from my electrical system, which (on a boat like this) wasn’t all that capable and strong to begin with.

But … don’t the world-cruisers, the people who are sailing away for real, use wind-vanes? I should say, wind-and-water-powered steering systems, designed to keep your boat following the wind, and costing you not a watt-hour of battery power. A cursory check of long-distance-cruisers’ Web sites reveals this is the case. But is a wind-vane system like the Cape Horn (the one I’d like) well-suited to sailing the Chesapeake Bay, for someone who just wants to extend his horizons a little beyond the local area? And would the next buyer of Halcyon – if I decide she’s not quite enough boat for my dreams – feel comfortable about a wind-vane?

Between the money, and the difficulties I envisioned installing the thing, I decided that the autopilot makes more sense for now. The easiest thing to install would be a ‘wheel pilot’ that attaches to the helm wheel directly, and only Raymarine makes one of those any more. When I spotted a sale at Defender, a mail-order boating supplies firm, I put in my order for the whole kit, plus an instrument housing for the control head.

Halcyon’s autopilot, driving me home.

The installation wasn’t all that hard, but it took time and I made a couple of bad decisions in mounting the stuff. One problem was that Raymarine had cooked up a new networking system that meant I had to install a ‘backbone’ close to the control head. Another was that I let a well-meaning friend talk me into mounting the control box in a place where I found it would not be able to be cabled up; the old-style control head with its cabling system would have worked fine there, but I couldn’t get the cable through the helm pedestal. Oh, well, live and learn, and take care of the cosmetic problems when you have to. I also had to order a longer device cable and a special ‘right-angle plug’cable directly from Raymarine. And I had to find places to put the parts, access routes to pull the cables through from all over the boat to the power pack, ways to make access holes to do the final cable-leading to that control head, power connections, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. So it took a few days of work, spread out over several weeks. But finally I got it all installed, all hooked up, ready and steady and sturdy and strong.

And the results are very satisfactory. I’m not trapped at the helm, able to leave it wheel-locked for only a minute or so. “Otto” takes care of things well, if not exactly ‘efficiently’ – moving the wheel in response to every wave, every burble of wake, every excuse it gets. I’m not sure how much electricity it’s using, but I have solar panels to mitigate its energy use and I’m thinking about where I might put a couple more panels if it turns out I need them. The new control head is more sophisticated, ‘smarter,’ than the one on Bossa Nova. It’s a definite improvement, and very liberating … I can sit at ease in the shade or even sunbathe up in the bows of the boat, and let Otto take care of steering. In wide-open waters I could take a nap while letting Otto run the boat – which is critical, as I will need to be able to ‘catnap’ through the night on ocean passages.

With Otto at the helm, my horizons are extended – dramatically.

The Other Ricky

I went to visit my Dear Auntie this afternoon, and to take her out to lunch, to a restaurant she enjoyed when she still had sense enough to enjoy it. I parked in the garage below her ‘assisted-living’ residence, carded myself into the access stairwell, punched the code to gain access to the first floor and the stairwells, and punched another code to gain access to her floor in Memory Care. Then I went down to her room, gently but firmly directed one of her neighbors (a man who didn’t seem to have any idea of much of anything) to sit down where he wouldn’t be in Dear Auntie’s way, and knocked on the door to her room.

“I’m so glad to see you. Where’s the other Ricky?” she asked.

I’m damned if I know, Dear Auntie.

There have been a goodly number of people in my life who have acted as if to persuade me to fetch out, to deliver, ‘the other Ricky.’  They have ranged from people who sought out a more assertive, more macho Ricky, to those who sought out a more accommodating, more supplicating, more pussy-begging Ricky, to those who simply sought out a Ricky who would cast himself loose from his mother’s apron-strings. Then there was my mother, who rejected the very idea of a Ricky who might have his own desires, independent of her needs and wants and wishes.

It is fifteen days short of the tenth anniversary of my mother’s death; pretty close to the tenth anniversary of the day her last best friend, Pat, and Pat’s husband Jake, went to lunch with us on the last day my mother was able to do so. Pretty close to the day we went out for a ride, and she asked to see our airplane the Snowbird, and I pulled up close to its propeller and she patted it goodbye.

I am hurting, to hear my Mom’s sister ask ‘where is the other Ricky.’ It hurts when I wonder, who on Earth or beyond it could indeed be ‘the other Ricky?’ Her brother? Her son? Her imaginary playmate, in the cloudy impenetrable maze of her own dementia?

We went to lunch at the restaurant she’d loved best in the last months of her sanity. Becky, our friend among the waitresses there, found us a table adjoining her area, and she brought her own supper to that table after she ended her own shift. She was oh-so-kindly to my Dear Auntie, while she ate her dinner and Dear Auntie fumbled around with the ice-cream that I’d brought her after she finished her proper meal.

I don’t know how long I’ll be able to be Dear Auntie’s ‘other Ricky’. I do hope that I will be able to progress from that, to a reality and a space where it won’t matter who I am … and, as Jimmy Buffett sang it in One Particular Harbor, “when I see the day when my hair’s full gray, and I finally disappear.”

There ain’t room for two of me in Dear Auntie’s life, or in any life I can envision for myself after Dear Auntie shuffles off this mortal coil and Goes West.

For the last five years, Vladek Filler of Ellsworth, Maine, has been fighting for his freedom, against a corrupt, misandric prosecutor who tried to get him imprisoned for rape, on evidence that amounted to little more than the ‘she said’ testimony of his bitter, estranged wife. Hancock County Assistant DA Mary Kellett’s chicanery in prosecuting – or may I say ‘persecuting’ – Mr. Filler has gotten more than local, but national and even worldwide attention, and it raised enough of an outcry that the Maine Bar could not ignore it; she faces a hearing for prosecutorial misconduct at the end of August. Mr. Filler is the plaintiff in this matter, and he is scheduled to testify in Kellett’s hearing.

During that selfsame time, Vladek Filler will be incarcerated in Hancock County for the one charge Kellett was able to make stick – allegedly throwing a glassful of water on his then-wife, Ligia Filler. He will be in the control of the prosecutorial office where Kellett has been serving up this style of justice. How convenient … for Kellett, and her like-minded boss, Carletta Bassano, who has been doing all she can to shield Kellett from the scrutiny and discipline she deserves.

I fear that the timing of Vladek Filler’s sentence was set up so he can be bullied and intimidated out of giving testimony in the Kellett hearing. I fear that there is an unchecked culture of corruption in the Hancock County prosecutor’s office, and there has been ample evidence of misandrist behavior on the part of this office in the past.

In fact, I fear for Vladek Filler’s safety, if he is being held in Hancock County at the time of Kellett’s hearing before the Maine Board of Overseers of the Bar. Having him there would provide far too easy an opportunity for ‘something to happen’ to him, denying him his voice in the hearing.

Vladek Filler’s conviction should be overturned and stricken from the record. Absent that, he should be pardoned, in view of the suffering he has been put through by Kellett and her boss.

At the very least, his incarceration should be postponed until after the Kellett case is closed. If the Hancock County authorities won’t permit that, then his treatment and condition in there hands MUST be strictly and closely monitored by State officials who are not affiliated with the Hancock County prosecutor’s office, the Ellsworth Police Department, or any other local law enforcement agency.

There appears to be an unchecked culture of corruption, a culture of misandric behavior and persecution of men, in the Hancock County District Attorney’s office. They have Vladek Filler in their clutches, and I fear for his safety.

More information can be found in Gentlemen, Start Your Keyboards, A Voice for Men, 3 August 2012.

Keyster, a frequent commenter on several mens’-rights blogs, came out with this thought-provoking statement a while back. If I remember correctly, this was on The Spearhead:

If men are purely optional to women, then why can’t women be purely optional to men?

Because independent women are heroes.
And independent men are zeroes.

A man “needs” a woman.
A woman doesn’t need “any” man.

“A woman doesn’t need ‘any’ man” …?

I have seen a few women, in my life, who “didn’t need a man.” The only one who really stands out in my mind is my mother … and that, chiefly because she raised me without a dad.

I learned, from my mother, and my grandmother (the materfamilias of our household), that “men aren’t necessary.” This I learned by example, because I didn’t have a male role-model to “help me become a man.” Yeah, I’ve got the Y-chromosome and the danglies that go with it, but does that make me … more than just a “male” … a MAN? Read on, and judge for yourself….

I learned, after I left high-school and went to the seminary of the church where Mom had paid-up enough money for me to take the “Minister’s Program,” that my biological urges were something to be “transcended.” I’d learned this since age 12, when my gonads changed … but the Spiritual Call was supposed to flatten out my sexual urges and transmute me into an Androgynous Neutered Advanced-Being Spiritual Counselor. I did my very flat-out best to accommodate to this ukase. Honestly, truthfully, faithfully I did, and I have no idea who might have been shtupping the women I was counselling, honestly, truthfully, faithfully, really I don’t!!  I only know that I didn’t touch them.

I learned, from my religion, that I was a spiritual being who was damn-well supposed to be beyond sex.  Especially because I was in-training to be a Spiritual Counselor … and never the hell mind that my real father, not the guy whose name was on my birth-certificate, was the “exception that proves the rule” that a Spiritual Counselor in my religion was ordered to keep his paws the hell off his “preclears!”  I comported myself in accordance with the demands. I kept my own zipper zipped and locked, in accordance with The Auditor’s Code. I didn’t get ordained, though, and I didn’t do my internship, because I couldn’t afford to go on with them – I needed to get a job.

Certainly, I was a Zero when I left them and started work as a “Technical Aide” with the Federal Government. No glory in that, just a paycheck.

Some years later, I graduated past “being a Zero” with a couple of women. One of them was far, far more experienced than me “in the clinches” … the next was less-so, but circumstances after our first time eventually changed our romance into a Let’s-Just-Be-Friends situation. How swiftly I went from being her Hero … to being just another Zero.

Meanwhile, Society itself was being reshaped, to reduce men at large from Heroes … to Zeroes.

The first great reshaping was started by the Vietnam War. The previous wars in the public’s memory had been serious conflicts, taken seriously; the veterans of World War II and Korea were treated as heroes, as were the “boys in blue” of the Air Force, on the front line of the cold war. But many did not see Vietnam in that same light; and too many of the boys who got back from that campaign were treated with contempt. Treated as zeroes.

Then came the “Women’s Liberation” movement. It seemed to a lot of men that it was mostly about women liberating their vilest bad nature. The party line was that women wanted all the “privilege” they saw as being enjoyed by men – equal pay in the office, equal opportunity at the hiring time, equal access to college, to loans, to mortgages, to professions. They wanted to break down all the “artificial differences,” and ignore the differences that can’t be broken down because they’re hard-wired into male and female nature. Oh, and they made it clear that they regarded most men as “the enemy” and the top-rankers as “the competition.” They demoted a whole lot more men from heroes to zeroes.

Next came the revolution in divorce law, the “No-Fault” divorce – which is more accurately labeled as the “His-Fault” model. Along with stripping the husband of his kids, his rights, his house and most of his money in the settlement, the goal of this system is to strip all men of their last shreds of “equal treatment under the law.” And of equal compassion under Society. This stage is still ongoing, but meeting with stiffer resistance as more men recognize the battle and join forces against the new tyranny – the tyrants whose rabble march in slut-walks, or cheer as manginas from the sidelines.

I won’t bother to recount the way I went “from Hero to Zero” with either of the two following American Women on my roster, nor speak of the couple of chicas in South America who offered me their favors. I will say this: By the time I was 50 years old, I had accepted that I would never again be a Hero, and I would forever more be a Zero to the ladies.

My last couple of attempts to reach “the sweetness” have been with women who were completely and entirely incentivized by my money. Cash at the counterpane, dearie. Call them prostitutes, as they are, but you of the Femmunist Brigades will call me much worse. You’re already blaming me, and my fellow men, for the fact that some women are willing to trade their sexual favors for a man’s money; under the “Swedish model” you would jail, and prosecute, and fine, and imprison the man who offers his own hard-earned money for an hour of “the sweetness we’ve been dying for.”

A Voice for Men put it well in Male sexuality, un-demonized (4 May 2012):

We starve men, then shame them for their hunger and then when they reach for what little food is within their grasp, we smack their hand away.

The pessimist in me sees this as the final chapter in the old tale of the “battle of the sexes.” That battle is over for me, and I have left the gene pool. I am preparing to depart the land of my birth, and seek refuge from the craziness in another land. Maybe I will follow Odysseus, and Joshua Slocum, and others who have sailed away and finally vanished from human ken.

We men are less than Zero in your view, aren’t we?

I, for one, have ZERO (in honor of my social status) for you.

———————

Last month I told you I had “fallen into a book” – well, here it is.

Or here it starts.

I want to thank Jade Michael of Artistry Against Misandry for hosting this work.

This is a work of speculative fiction. It is not an attempt to predict the future; it is not an attempt to advocate for a new direction for Society to follow.  The story line is very much ‘against misandry.’ It looks at a grim possibility – through the lens of fiction – that just so happens to be the mirror-image of what a lot of us perceive as happening in today’s consumer-driven, misandric culture.

I started writing this story because I was tickled by examining the possibilities in the theme. I have entertained myself with the flow of events, the development of the story and the characters, and the twists and turns I’ve put into it. I got obsessed with it for weeks; I’ve had to find a balance between writing, and the rest of my life. If the characters seem outlandish, the events seem bizarre, the plot-line gets improbable, chalk it up to the underlying truth that I’m too busy having fun with this story to be bothered with worrying about such things.

No doubt I’ll get a lot of flak for this twisted tale. I fully expect to hear from detractors who regard it as ‘the product of a mind that was not merely twisted, but actually sprained,’ in the words of Douglas Adams (Life, The Universe, And Everything). I’ll neither confirm nor deny that accusation; you may hear me giggle, though.

Do I ever expect a masculist-centered culture, or most-especially the particular facets that I explore in the book, to take over our culture? I plead the Fifth Amendment – which is a legalistic way to say, “None of your effing business!”

Would this become a more viable culture for the Earth? Fifth Amendment.

Would I like to see it happen? Fifth Amendment.

But I will say this much: Our species, like any species on Earth, will expand, flourish and increase its niche – or it will contract, shrivel, and fade out of the ecosphere. I do believe the misandry of today’s culture is pushing Humanity toward the latter fate. This frustrates and saddens me; Homo sapiens is the only species on Earth capable of reaching the stars.

“We’re at a warped point in history in which the feminist state has so deeply involved itself in relationships it has broken the contract between men and women.” (The Wisdom in Not Arguing With A Woman – The Spearhead, 11 May 2012)

This “contract” is not a creation of lawyers and written law. It undercuts anything written in Blackstone, any verdict signed by the Supreme Court. One could argue that its foundations are older than modern man, because it is based on the behavior that animals who live in a pack must follow if the pack is – and they are – to survive.

Homo sapiens is not a “pack animal”, you argue? We are more sophisticated than that, more advanced, with a more-complex society than the lowly “pack animal” of my comparison? I’m not talking of the Gothic-cathedral creation above the ground, I’m talking of the foundations, below the ground, out of sight, long-buried and forgotten as long as the structure will continue to stand. But can we move this structure off its hidden foundations and still keep it intact? It appears to me that we’ve tried – and we’ve failed; the attempts of our present society to move, morph, shape-shift and change the social contract have left it broken, unable to stand as it is today.

Let’s take a look at those “pack animals.” Wolves are most familiar to European and North American cognizance. The wolf pack in the wild consists of a breeding pair, the alphas, who dominate the “lesser” members of the pack – generally their “adolescent” children – and the pack works together to keep the current litter of pups well-fed and strong. (1) Situations are different when you throw a bunch of captive wolves together in a cage; their battles of dominance are the tool they use to sort things out between them, in forced company. The “captive pack” may be more comparable to the cheesy crowd in your local singles meet-market, mightn’t it?

Notice, though, the absolute biological imperative: Bring up a litter, or rather litter-after-litter, of healthy, strong pups. The same is the reproductive imperative of any mammal, any animal, any creature – to survive as a species, they have to procreate. In the case of bisexual species (just about any critter more complex than the bdelloid rotifers), they have to mate – the egg-layer must choose a sperm-sprayer to fertilize those eggs. The male must establish his value as a good sire for the female’s young; whether by display (like the peacock), by “interesting stuff” (like the bowerbird), by actual combat (like rutting deer), or – in a species as socially-complex as Homo sapiens – by “game.”

And more importantly, by what anthropologists and philosophers call “the social contract.”

Human society is incredibly broader, deeper, and more complex than the social behaviors of any other animal on Earth. This has been so since grass huts, stone tools, and tribal groups of multiple nuclear families, bound together by spoken language, common needs cooperatively met, and social hierarchy. The tribal groups that survived, got along by going along, by tradition passed down the generations, by the inculcation of internal controls on individual behavior. “In the old days, there were no fights about hunting grounds or fishing territories. There was no law then … everybody did what was right.” (2) As tribes coalesced into larger societies, into hierarchies, into city-states and nations, the customs of the people in these groups adapted and evolved to keep society running smoothly; and the customs regarding mating and family life were arguably the most important of all. Customs like marriage, sexual fidelity between husband and wife, and raising the kids to live the same way, were more fundamental and powerful than mere laws could be. The “cake of custom,” as Walter Bagehot called it (3), underlies the Law and makes it enforceable.

And it is that “cake of custom” that has been broken. The contract of custom, between man and woman, between husband and wife, between father and mother, has been torn to shreds. All that is left is the Law, and it has come down crushingly on the rights of the father, the husband, the man; and in favor of the rights and privileges of the mother, the wife, the woman.

This starts in elementary school, where the lessons are geared for the girls by their mostly-female teachers. Even the rough-and-tumble games the boys used to play, to let off steam, are taken away as “too dangerous” – and too many fidgety boys are labeled “ADHD” and drugged with Ritalin to make them passive in class.

It goes on to the workplace, where a web of Federal laws and acts and regulations promise “equal hiring, equal opportunity, equal pay for equal work,” etc., etc. In practice, though, this ends up with women hired preferentially, treated preferentially, coddled so that the organization can’t be accused of “discrimination.”

In the social environment? More of the same. Nothing has overtly changed the game where “he chases her until she catches him.” But the Law has replaced common sense and common modesty, and men have little recourse and less protection if a woman decides to re-label a casual one-night stand as “date rape.” Even if she dresses and comports herself like a sex-crime looking for the spot marked “X”. 2011, after all, was the Year of the Slutwalk.

Worst of all is “love and marriage” – from the Bridezilla opener to the rancorous divorce. Marriage is the most broken “social contract” of all, with more than half of all marriages ending in divorce. Typically the divorce settlement is ruinous to the man, because the entire Divorce Industry (and it is an industry) is geared for the woman’s sake.

There appears to be a common thread in these changes, in this shattering of the cake of custom and the social contract:

Women First.

To the women, Society awards privilege, preference, and the prizes. The men’s portion is the responsibility, the work, and the blame. Plus the fact of being expendable, in the eyes of the Law, the eyes of Society, the eyes of Women.

We men soldier on, most of us, because we do take responsibility for our loved ones, for our families, for our Society.  But more and more of us are recognizing the raw deal we are getting. More and more of us are realizing we are being used for our resources, our hard work, our earning power; and more and more of us are saying “No more!”

(1) “Alpha Status, Dominance, and Division of Labor in Wolf Packs,” L. David Mech, 2000.

(2) The Religions of Man, Huston Smith, 1958

(3) Physics and Politics, Walter Bagehot, 1872.

———————

The state of play for men: Domestic Violence (A Voice for Men, 11 July 2012) – “Domestic Violence” is mistakenly believed by Society to be a one-way street, one of violent men and self-defending victim women. Andy Man lays out the statistics and studies that show how false this belief really is.

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