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Blog : Posts from August 2006 : Page 1

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Pressure group

In which the government panders to the moral minority


“Violent” pornography is back in the news again, as it has been on and off for the past year. Now, the government has announced that it is going to ban the stuff, however impossible it is to define, thanks to a single-issue campaign group who are already crowing about their success. If it’s that easy to get the government to do what you want, I think I should start up my own single-issue campaign group. I’m not sure yet what I’m going to campaign for, but I know I’ll think of something. On the other hand, the government doesn’t exactly listen to what most people say. They carried out consultation on the “violent” porn law, and found that over 70% of responses were against introducing it; but they’re going ahead with it anyway. It was pushed for by people who believe that porn on the internet can induce people to carry out fantasies they wouldn’t have tried otherwise, even though there’s no evidence at all that that happens. In essence, this is faith-based legislation.

As I said a few days ago, there’s an easy solution to the problem of people with dangerous fantasies. It’s education, helping them find safe releases. If you ban “dangerous” pornography – leading aside the question of whether it is truly dangerous or not – you don’t do anything to dissipate people’s fantasies, the fantasies that make them look for the stuff to start with. The solution is to make it easy for people with unusual fantasies to discover that there’s a huge crowd of Sensible Pervs out there, who will help them learn how to carry their fantasies out safely.

All that, though, is besides the main problem with the bill: that it will be impossible to tell whether or not something is pornographic, or dangerous, just by looking. On the first point: look at people with a “splosh” fetish.* Internet sites for that sort of thing regularly feature clips from children’s telly, or entertainment telly, where people get covered in gunge. Is that pornography, just because some people get off on it? Is it dangerous, given that you could drown in the stuff? You could easily take a photo of a couple in a lovely, romantic-looking pose, one person holding their partner’s head in both hands. There’s a specific pose I have in mind that could look fine on a photo, but would cause the partner to faint if held for more than about 10 seconds, and die if held for longer still.** Would you be able to recognise it on a photo? It doesn’t look dangerous to most people.

Sensible Pervs are still campaigning hard against the violent porn bill. There’s still a good chance it will never appear, given the constraints of the parliamentary timetable. It looks, though, that in a couple of years’ time there might be another ill-thought-out, hard-to-enforce law on the statute books.

* getting turned on by getting covered in messy, gooey stuff.

** no, I’m not telling you what it is.

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Holiday

In which we listen to music


And the year starts with a long pause, whilst I enjoy a bit of a holiday. It’s all very well taking time off work, but the real way to take a break is a sudden, unexpected trip to stay with someone who doesn’t have internet access.*

We popped out to see a couple of local bands last night, in a pub just up the road from the Railway Museum. The pub was full of teenage emo kids in tight trousers, chains and handcuffs hanging from their belts and hair across their faces. I bet they’ve never actually used the handcuffs they all seem to have, any of them. Sitting there in plain trousers and a t-shirt, it made me feel rather old. Mind you, one of the bands seemed to take their fashion style** from Simon Le Bon circa 1982, so they must have long memories too. They weren’t as good as the openers, who didn’t do anything more imaginative than late-80s hair metal, but did it well.

The main band weren’t bad for that sort of gig,*** but they didn’t jump out at me. Their sound levels didn’t seem great, with the singers hardly audible. Maybe that’s the sound they were going for. The lead singer ran offstage and disappeared into the loo during the final song. I’m not sure if that was planned beforehand, or if he was just really, really desperate, and couldn’t wait another 32 bars. He waited until the music had died away, and emerged to a cheering crowd.

* “sudden, unexpected”, because otherwise I’d have spent much effort writing blog posts in advance.

** but not the music

*** the sort where everyone in the audience was either a friend, or a friend of a friend.

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Anniversary

In which a year has passed


One year ago today, I wrote:

This post is the first post. The first real post on SymbolicForest.com

Yes, this site has been going now for a whole year. I haven’t quite managed the original target – a proper post every day – but 313 posts in a year isn’t bad going.

From before day one, this site has promised “restlessness, whinging, perversity, opinion, and bad jokes.” I like to think that, over the year, it’s been borne out. I’m definitely still restless, still whinging regularly, and always tell bad jokes. My life, though, has changed a lot over the past year; I’m not sure how much of that has been reflected in my writing, but it has. I’ve found a new social scene, and made new friends. In fact, I’m writing this sitting in the living room of two friends I didn’t even know a year ago.* I’m a lot more comfortable with who I am, even though I’m still finding new things out about myself all the time. I’ve been on an emotional rollercoaster, but I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.**

I don’t know how my life is going to change in the next year. I know how I’d like it to go, but I have no way of knowing if it will. Change is going to keep happening, though, and I’m going to try and keep writing about it.

* we were all out at a certain Theatrical And Social Club last night, and they offered me their spare bed rather than having to drive the whole 100 miles home at 3 in the morning.

** and right now, I’m very happy indeed.

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The fantasy and the reality

In which we try to be Sensible


I felt slightly ill reading the lead story in yesterday’s Guardian, about an Austrian man who kidnapped a 10-year-old girl and brought her up as his secret prisoner for eight years. It’s a horrible thing to do to someone, even if he did look after her health and education. The man – his name was Wolfgang Priklopil – has since killed himself, so his motives may stay a secret; but, reading between the lines, he was trying to act out some kind of Master/slave fantasy.*

I know plenty of people who do have similar fantasies – both as the kidnapper and the kidnapped – but the difference between them and Priklopil is that they know the difference between fantasy and reality. Moreover, they subscribe to one of the strongest rules that comes with being a Sensible Perv – consensuality. It’s no different to the non-kinky world, essentially: I will only do X to you if you want X done to you. You’re free to have fantasies about kidnapping strangers, but they have to stay fantasies. To a Sensible Perv – and they make up 99.999%**** of the kinky people out there – the thought of carrying one of those fantasies out is anathema.

No doubt if a case like this occurred in the UK, there would be further calls for “violent” pornography to be banned, whether it was linked to the case or not.*** There is, after all, an awful lot of pornography and erotica on the internet that relates to this sort of fantasy, largely because it has to remain fiction. Hell, there’s probably quite a lot of it in the catalogue of Black Lace and similar imprints. Banning all that isn’t the answer. The answer is education. If the Sensible Pervs are out in the open, and easy to find, the dangerous ones are more likely to realise they’re not the only kinky people out there. All us Sensible Pervs can make sure that people like Priklopil realise that their fantasies aren’t unique, that it’s possible to fulfil them in almost-legal ways,***** and effectively train them to be a Sensible Perv too. It can be done, and it’s the only way to stop cases like this happening in the future.

* A particular BDSM** subgroup, where one person agrees to be the property of another, with no right of veto. Well, more or less. Any one-liner definition like that is bound to upset someone.

** NSFW links.

*** After all, the internet was still fairly rare 8 years ago.

**** OK, I made this number up. But it’s probably roughly correct, apart from the exact number of 9s after the decimal point.

***** I say “almost-legal” because an awful lot of what anybody, perv or not, does in bed, is technically illegal. Anything – a love-bite, for example – that leaves a mark that is more than “transient and trifling”, is Grievous Bodily Harm. What “transient and trifling” means, of course, is entirely up to the judge. For more information, ask the Spanner Trust.

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End of the week

In which we take some time off


Not just end of the week, but start of the holidays – I’ve got an entire week, and more, off work. Hurrah! I’ve been winding Big Dave up about it all day.

It seems, though, that half the office has all decided to take the same week off work. So Dave won’t have to worry too much about me being off; he should only have half as many stupid questions to answer anyway.*

I don’t have any particular plans for the week. Tidy up a few things here and there. Go on the odd outing. But, most importantly, it’s a chance to rest a little. The universe has been far too nice to me in the past 7 days; something bad is bound to come along and hit me soon, and I will need a rest before I have to cope with it.

* Yes, I know there’s a flaw here – not everyone asks quite as many stupid questions. Some people are far, far worse than others.

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Books I Haven’t Read (part six)

In which FP fails to read “Snow Crash” by Neal Stephenson


As I said last time this series popped up, it was originally supposed to be a bit more regular than this. This entry, too, feels slightly like I’m repeating what I’ve said before. Not only is it a science fiction book like the last one, it’s by an author who has cropped up previously. Today’s Book I Haven’t Read is Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson.

I’m not sure what it is about Stephenson books that makes them hard to get through on the first attempt. I certainly didn’t have any problem with the first one I read, Cryptonomicon, but for some reason the others have gone past much more slowly.

It’s not that it isn’t a good book; it’s just that it demands to be read slowly. The terminology, the language, the realised world, all demand effort on the reader’s part. I’m a lazy reader, especially if I’m reading last thing at night; the book was too difficult to make me care about it.

Now, I’m reading it again, as a lunchbreak book instead of an evening book. And, I’m appreciating the start of it much more on second reading. There are awkward passages; but not enough to distract a SF almost-novice. It’s a fast-moving book; which conflicts with its density. It’s still not an easy read, but this time I think I’m going to finish it.

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Still here

In which there is no nuclear war


Well, the world hasn’t ended yet, then.

I wasn’t really expecting it to, to be honest. Surprisingly, though, some people, specifically American historian Bernard Lewis were expecting nuclear war to start yesterday. I doubt that too many people took them seriously, but you never know. The worry, though, is that the people with the most nuclear weapons of all are likely to believe Lewis more than other, less inflammatory experts.

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Performance

In which we watch


There was Art going on in Trafalgar Square the other weekend. You could tell it was Art, because it couldn’t really have been anything else. Other than an alien landing, Doctor Who filmshoot, or something similar.

Art in Trafalgar Square Art in Trafalgar Square

A bit of searching, and I’ve discovered I was watching a performance of Miniatora, by the Candoco Candoco Dance Company. As usual, I found watching the crowd more interesting than watching the performance itself.

Crowds in Trafalgar Square

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Busy life

In which eating the leftovers is ill-advised


Note to self: be more careful with the leftovers in future. Two day old Chinese food with prawns in isn’t good for my stomach, clearly. That was at least part of the reason for my absence over the past couple of days. There were other reasons, too, of course – when I wasn’t in bed or throwing up, I was travelling round half of Yorkshire, escorting kissograms and delivering cats. Despite my illness, despite still spending most of the weekend in bed, I didn’t get much sleep.

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Quiet round here, isn’t it

In which nothing happens, at least not in public


There is an explanation, but I’m not entirely sure you’d believe me if I told you. Normal service to be resumed next week; have a nice weekend.

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