Category Archives: Blogs

Post Gender Presentations

There has been a lot written lately about gender as it pertains to professional conferences on web technologies. First off was Jason Kottke presenting the question. Then I caught Eric Meyer, the Patron Saint of CSS, who responded with a resounding “meh” followed by John Gruber’s gender-fireball post, and a comment of clarification by Zeldman in the linked list. Truly Eric received the torment he knew he was setting himself up for. Ouchie. And so totally not deserved. I suggest reading those articles and comments, and then coming back here. I’ll wait.

Back? Good. I love discussing gender, because as a gay man in 2007, it’s certainly a topic that provides countless hours of amusement. And frustration. And a couple of attempts to rewrite the U.S. Constitution. It’s also a subject that, when taken out of context, is beyond frustrating, it’s insulting. And that’s where I think this discussion has gone.

If you look at what Kottke presented, yes, there is a dearth of women speakers at web conferences, and most especially those that focus on HTML and CSS. Kottke is particularly off when he says:

…it seems to me that either the above concerns are not getting through to conference organizers or that gender diversity doesn’t matter as much to conference organizers as they publicly say it does.

Gruber goes off into the realm of Title IX, which has, truthfully, done a world or three of good for women in all things. However, he misses the point of Kottke’s piece, which is that things are inequal in a professional setting. Title IX doesn’t really apply there, so going off into the studies of who got educated where and for what is off-topic. Interesting, and well worth reading, but off-topic none-the-less. And don’t think I’m against Title IX, nothing could be further from the truth. We are all improved when everyone receives an equal chance, which is what Title IX was designed to do. And amazingly, considering it’s legislation, it seems to do relatively well.

Notice that I said “everyone receives an equal chance” and not “everyone receives everything equally.” and for good reason. Title IX doesn’t mean that there will be a women’s football team at your local high school, but it does say that for every men’s sport there shall be an equally funded women’s sport. Don’t care what they play, but they get the game. That’s equality at it’s finest. Which is what Gruber was leading up to.

However, it’s not what Kottke was on about at all. Kottke is about specific equality for professional roles. Can’t, and won’t, happen. Not because it’s a bad idea, but because after giving everyone equal chances, what those people do with those chances will be quite unique to each individual, and therefore, we are unable to predict their results in such a way that we could ever guarantee that there is a 50/50 split along the sex lines.

Meyer doesn’t mind this situation, not because he doesn’t want women around or thinks they are inferior, but because he, quite rightly, sees that while there are fewer women there, overall the web is very well represented by both sexes. And, in this case, gender means less than nothing.

While I, having been discriminated against because of an external trait (e.g. who I have sex with) and have had professional roles given to others because of it, I still agree with Meyer. Kottke thinks that having a vagina attached to some of the speakers would improve the quality of the presentation. That’s thinking that a woman who happens to be a mom can only socialize with other moms if all are either a) not drinking, or b) if they want to drink, they must be chaperoned by someone with a penis.

I don’t see how being male, female, white, black, brown, purple, queer, asexual, cancerous, capricorn or a carrot would matter if you happen to also be a professional in the web-standards-meets-development world. I would, honestly, attend a speech given by a carrot if that carrot was recognized as a leader in the field. That’s what professional speeches are all about.

I have a huge problem with people getting so bent sideways in the effort to be politically correct that they lower the quality of the product. I know it’s rough, and I can’t say that I understand why people are racist, sexist, homophobic or just flat out fucked-up, but I do know that for a conference where people are going to learn about a specific topic, finding the best people, regardless of gender is more important than counting the number of XX’s versus the number of XYs sharing their knowledge.

I want more brilliant people, I don’t care who you are or how you fuck. I don’t even care if you do. I want you for your mind, and guess what, Kottke is wrong to reduce the talent and knowledge of the people involved with these events to their gender. Alas, I’m a bit chubby and have a decent set of tits if he truly thinks that physical traits make a shits difference.

[UPDATE] I see that Zeldman has joined the fray with more on his blog, but I disagree that it’s a fundamental part of the conference planner’s concerns. He thinks it’s important to include women, I think it’s more important to not exclude women, and those, truly, are completely different tasks. Oh, and I still think I’m right.

Porn On Wry

Michael Lucas has been blogging for a while, and even though English is not his first language and he’s a porn star, he’s not a stereotype. Other than the size of his, *ahem*, business machine. His take on the lounging president (“sitting” seems too active for him) is priceless, and while totally Not Safe For Work and Not What My Mom Thinks I thought it was great. And personally, the brains behind the drive behind this particular porn-star are more impressive than his cock. (Now go figure out what I meant earlier.)

Say what?

Ok, so I’m up early and I’m going over some notes and files and seeing what I haven’t posted in the recent past that I fully meant to and I came across a few things. I know, I will have the finale to my long-winded and perhaps wrong-headed article on stupid ideas for healthcare reform posted as promised, just consider the last 10 days a gimme and get over it. Besides, I bet if you read that post again, as I have just now, you’ll find that I seem to actually make sense. So you know you’re going nuts, too.

Anyway, here are two things that I wanted to post. First, a clipping of a conversation that I was having with my friend Casper. It’s pretty self-explanatory:

biblical insight

I figure that should generate some lovely hatemail, and I can only hope it includes curses from the Biblical Curse Generator which has been thoroughly wonderful at helping me describe how I feel without using the word ‘fuck’ over and over this past week.

Now the second is a bit more disturbing, at least to me, as it would seem to hold the key to my soul. I was up waaaaaay too late and couldn’t get to sleep so I was catching up on reading several of the blogs that I enjoy. I had gotten to Blurbomat, home to the husband-like-appliance in the dooce household, and Jon is a pretty amazing writer, artist, random-word-of-the-day-with-sprinkles kinda blogger, kinda like his wife. So anyway, he had written something that I felt the need to comment on – but apparently it was about time for me to sleep, so in mid-sentence I crashed. I awoke nearly 2 hours later, laptop on my face, only to find that I hadn’t finished my comment, and had instead typed a bit of, um, well, you decide:

the key to my soul

No for real, read it again.

Um, yeah. I have no idea either. The fact that I can pronounce “bhabitatae” is the chocolate frosting on this one.

Yeah, I write too much. Cope.

First off, I’m talking about the comment spam that ran my hosted server through the roof today. I got home and had a message stating that I had used nearly 100 times my normal daily server cycles, and while that doesn’t put me anywhere near my limit, it does make me want to find out why. I did some searching and it turns out that a new, sneakier, more annoying version of blog comment spam has hit the net, and it attacked several of the sites that I maintain. More on this in a minute. It’s been a day, and I’d like to post about it, if only for me. Feel free to skip bits.

Today was a really long day, even though I really didn’t get going until 10 am. I spent most of it with The Cheerleader as she combed through the wreckage of her dreams – which I have to tell you, is exhausting. I love her with all my heart, and today was really hard to watch. I will miss Richard deeply, but mine is the depth of a tablespoon next to the ocean compared to her. She’s been amazing, really, because while everyone else is either falling apart (like me) or becoming automatons (those who stare blank-faced asking what they should do, which is also sometimes me), she’s chugging along, arranging everything as best she can, and only stopping to break-down when there is no other option. I, however, am a complete mess. I’m supposed to be there for her, to be strong, to be supportive and anchor-like for her, but I haven’t been able to get my wits about me enough to stand for myself, let alone be there for her as much as I’d like.

Hell, today I was scared of my phone, not because it might include a bill that could wipe me out, although that’s always a possibility. No, today my fear came from a phrase that I kept hearing in my head, over and over and over again. A phrase that the so-called ‘helpful’ around me had offered up as a sort of verbal talisman, when instead it was almost an invitation for the universe to stop on by and take another friend. I kept hearing “these things always happen in threes” and, I’m sorry for saying it this way, but SHUT. YOUR. PIEHOLE! Three I cannot take, and I know this because the thought of a third tragedy shut me down for a good portion of the day, and continues to make me dread answering the phone.

Unless I don’t recognize the number, them I’m all sorts of chipper. Like that’s some sort of safety? Yeah, I never said I was sane. Truly.

Anyway, so I have one real task to accomplish and that’s make the DVD of all the pictures of Richard. So I’ve been going through the incredibly-deep-yet-thankfully-digital stack of photographs that I have, some of which I deliberately swiped from The Cheerleader. In doing so, I realized that about 99% of the rest of the world will not have seen these yet, and there is a good portion of you who won’t be able to make it to the funeral to see them there.

So I did two things. I removed the ability for content spam to affect my sites, which didn’t take long, but still was a hateful thing to have to deal with. Spammers suck.

The other thing I did is place a slide show at Richard & Janna’s site, of all the pictures I have of Richard. I figure that even if you get to see the DVD presentation that you might want to see more, maybe pause and really get a good long view of a particular pic. I haven’t really gone through them, so there may be duplicates or blurry ones, but I’ll update the slideshow when I’ve edited down the pics for the DVD. If you have any questions or the slideshow isn’t working for you, please let me know in the comments here.

Parts of OS X are gay?

Ok, so that’s a bit inflammatory and out there, but I had to. Over on John Gruber’s excellent Daring Fireball you’ll find a discussion of voodoo and the various merits of “repair permissions” and the like. I enjoy just about everything that John writes, having learned a ton about the computers I use and about web standards and the frustration joy of doing web sites the right way.

Anyway, here’s the part that made me laugh:

Even if you “verify” permissions and it shows some that don’t match, it doesn’t mean they’re wrong. They might be wrong, but they might just be different but still OK.

Yeah, so some of the permissions have changed since install, and while they are kinda punky lookin’ buggers, what with their mohawks and tattoos and the fact that the boys all kiss each other, and not in that ‘christian-greeting-another-christian’ way, aside from all that, they are still OK.

And they say diversity is hard to find.

Gruber, thanks for the giggle, although I’m sure you never intended it, it was most welcome.

Finally, a new look

It’s been a while, and the site needed a new look. It’s needed a new look for many moons, but as my time was fleeting and there wasn’t anything particularly wrong with the old look, it’s not something I bothered to change.

The Department of Homeland Security notwithstanding, it’s better safe than sorry. So, a newer, more advanced and less crackable version of WordPress was released and I decided to update my site.

And it broke the look of it! Curses!

So I finally got around to making the artwork and color changes to the documents that control such things, and now it’s all better. And it’s a refreshment of the old look, rather than something completely new.

the fuzzed lookAnd no, you are NOT losing your mind, there was another look that manifested over the weekend, and while it was fun, it was not the sort of look that, after spending any time actually looking at it, that I could stand. However, it was pretty and was fun to make. And it’s good practice for what I’ve got to do next for work.

A thousand points of courage

I remember once talking with my mom about history. Because, well, it was an odd-numbered grade and so I was failing the final quarter of the history/social science course that was required of all students. This began in the 5th grade, resulting in not only having to redo the project that I had neglected into failure, but also stunted my summer as I was grounded for most of it, at least until I earned a passing grade from my mother on the report. I remember that this report was on the history of a single state, and that I had chosen, and somehow received, Hawai’i (notice the correct punctuation in the name?) and while I enjoyed reading and learning about the former island kingdom, I did not like sharing that information in the format of these reports. Besides, I figured it was about my learning, not anyone else’s, and I learned. So why do a stupid report?

I learned why is because you probably want to be able to leave the yard during summer. Ha! If only I’d known.

Mom, being the taskmistress that she is, wouldn’t let me just write down the info on Hawai’i in a pleasant and lovely format to get a passing grade from her, oh no! She made me do another state entirely, and my dad, beaming full of pride and thinking he was helping piped up and said, “How about Arkansas?” which caused me to shudder and writhe in, I thought, a rather unnoticeable manner. Yeah, no. Eagle-eye-Mom saw and realized this would be perfect punishment. ARGH!

So anyway, a good portion of my summer was spent doing a very rudimentary history of a state that hasn’t had much going it’s way since the Civil War, other than Bill Clinton, and he’s iffy. I hated it. Hated it enough to drag it out in a foolish attempt to make others suffer with me. Didn’t work, and after much wailing and gnashing of teeth, finally, the report was done.

I promise, there is a point to this.

After receiving a passing grade given with a lecture on doing homework on time in the future, summer returned to normal and all was right with the world. Until 7th grade, final quarter, and lo and behold, I’m once again failing my social science class. My teacher was so unforgettably dull I couldn’t remember his name all year. Not once when describing my day could I conjur forth the correct sequence of sounds for anything remotely close to his name. I still can’t. I don’t care as much now, but really, I almost cared then. No really. Really! Fine!

Then 9th grade. Same time, same deal. Same grade. Same look of ‘what-the-bloody-hell-is-wrong-with-you?!?’ on my mother’s face. Of course, by now she had to deal with bigger problems, like my sisters, or the impending sale of the house followed by the move, and so my punishment was rather non-existent. Plus she’d learned that telling my father of these minor issues wasn’t fun. He wasn’t around because of the house not selling in Helena and his job being transferred to several different states throughout my high school career. And besides, these were quarter grades, and as we all know, only semester grades, the average of two quarters, was recorded in your Permanent Record. And so that’s all that really mattered, right? My thinking exactly!

In a last ditch effort to get me to give a shit, my mother just talked to me about her fascination with history. She particularly loved the middle-ages, as the clothes were complex, the bathing inconsistent at best, and the plumbing being either the woods or a literal brick shit-house. And with those elaborate dresses, piled on top of petticoat after petticoat, and corseted together into the tightest of all sausages, “how did the women pee?” she wondered, and the look on her face was priceless!

I was shocked, not only for the thought, but that it’d never occurred to me. How did they pee? And what about the men, they wore tights with codpieces under pantaloons that puffed wildly about their hips, while their boots rose almost to the knee in a very Robin-Hood-the-Whore-of-Babylon sort of way. How did they pee? And who helped them do it?

Those simple but profound questions are what makes history and archeology so amazingly tantalizing, because no one ever writes those things down. We’ve never come across the diary of anyone that detailed their normal every day life. The closest thing we have to this at all would be Anne Frank’s diary, but that was hardly normal life. The mundane is missing from history, and so a lot of how people lived is missing. And really, there was no easy way to document these things, and bigger things to worry about.

We don’t write down how a toothbrush works, we just brush our teeth. Even the stupid diagrams on the back of my new Super-Power-Dental-Washer, Waxer, Shiner, De-Stainer and Whitening-without-Sensitivity-Toothbrush package aren’t good directions because they never show the brush in someone’s hand up against their own teeth.

But blogging changes that. Changes it in profound ways. With the bright and courageous musings and writings online from people like Heather B. Armstrong who not only writes about her life-long struggle with constipation, but includes graphic and amazingly witty, funny, poignant observances of how all of her life is lived – from the dog to the child to the husband, Jon who has recently added his voice in a more in-depth and amazing way, to Laid Off Dad and his friends at The BlogFathers who are posting about being dads in this time, here, now, in whatever city it is they inhabit.

They are writing it down as it happens, and that’s an entirely new ability and an amazing gift we give to the future generations of humanity. When archeologists from the year 2386 are digging up old files and reading about the mundane, the ordinary, the truly personal, they are given a real look into a real life. They can hear the voice of a person from that time, know what they felt because these brave people say what others may not even be able to face. Could you honestly write about your constipation? What about your depression that was so deep and scary that your family was prepared to lose you, as much as anyone can ever prepare for that? What about crayons and how they stick to teeth when eaten?

I don’t think I’ll write about poop, but I will write about whatever else is going on in my life. I may change names but only to protect those who need it. It’s a social experiment to write down your life, it’s also very interesting to record the everyday for posterity. It takes real courage to look at all the blemishes and oddities and warts that make up you, and to then, honestly and openly, point them out to others for their understanding, or even more intense, a discussion with them.

So thanks to Heather at Dooce.com, Jon at Blurbomat, the The BlogFathers, Kottke and all the other voices out there in the blogosphere. You might just be writing for yourself for now, but what you are doing is giving voice to the now in the centuries to come. I just hope I add something worthwhile.