A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Archive for March 2012

[FORUM] How concerned are you with the local weather?

My country of Canada is synonymous with snow, yet scenes like the one depicted below were passingly rare.

Winter, 11 February 2012

The below picture shows how much snow Toronto got for Christmas; that encrustment of snow by the foot of a light post at Dupont and Bartlett was actually it.

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Meanwhile, the picture below was taken in February.

Winter, 9 February 2012

My previous [FORUM] question on the seasons was posted in a winter that was doubly exceptional, in North America for its warmth and in Europe for its coldness. Winter ended almost two weeks ago, and now we face the prospect of a spring coming after a snowless winter (still a decent amount of precipitation, mind) and unknown prospects this summer (will it be warmer still?).

How freaked out do you feel about this? Why? Do you think it’s the harbinger of a shift? Do you think it’s isolated? What has happened in your area of the world, weather-wise, this previous season?

Discuss.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 31, 2012 at 11:59 pm

Posted in Assorted

Tagged with , , ,

[CAT] Five Shakespeare pics

I’ve been sitting on these pictures of Shakespeare for some time. None except the first–I think–are of any value artistically. The poses they record are all that matter, now.

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Shakespeare, yawning.

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Shakespeare, curious.

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Cat belly

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Shakespeare, looking.

Shakespeare, himself

Any advice as to how this last picture might possibly be salvaged? I hate the colour but love the pose.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 31, 2012 at 10:58 pm

Posted in Assorted

Tagged with , ,

[PHOTO] Three Toronto photos

Sedan on College at the Spadina lights, paused in front of the 7/11, December 2011.

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Looking west at the southwest corner of College and Dovercourt, December 2011.

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Nativity illuminated, on Dovercourt between College and Dewson. This area is on the western fringe of Little Italy and is currently in a heavily Portuguese-Canadian area. Displays of this kind aren’t uncommon outside of the holidays.

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At Wilson TTC station, seconds before the arrival of the 29 Dufferin southbound. The last time I was here was in 2006. Time passes. (January 2012.)

Written by Randy McDonald

March 31, 2012 at 7:49 pm

[PHOTO] Three Toronto photos

Sedan on College at the Spadina lights, paused in front of the 7/11, December 2011.

IMG_0371.JPG

Looking west at the southwest corner of College and Dovercourt, December 2011.

IMG_0372.JPG

Nativity illuminated, on Dovercourt between College and Dewson. This area is on the western fringe of Little Italy and is currently in a heavily Portuguese-Canadian area. Displays of this kind aren’t uncommon outside of the holidays.

IMG_0373.JPG

At Wilson TTC station, seconds before the arrival of the 29 Dufferin southbound. The last time I was here was in 2006. Time passes. (January 2012.)

Written by Randy McDonald

March 31, 2012 at 3:49 pm

[BLOG-LIKE POSTING] On unrecognized epidemics of sexual abuse of the gender non-conforming

On Monday, I linked to Morocco-born Abdellah Taïa‘s biographical essay in the New York Times describing how he, an “effeminate little boy” was also a “boy to be sacrificed”, how his non-conformity with the gender norms of his conservative Moroccan origins left him open to abuse by everyone. Not a woman to be sequestered, certainly not a proper man, young Taïa’s effeminacy marked him as an acceptable sexual object. It all culminated for him one night in a scene out of Biblical Sodom, when one night Taïa’s home was surrounded by men clamouring to have sex with him.

It all came to a head one summer night in 1985. It was too hot. Everyone was trying in vain to fall asleep. I, too, lay awake, on the floor beside my sisters, my mother close by. Suddenly, the familiar voices of drunken men reached us. We all heard them. The whole family. The whole neighborhood. The whole world. These men, whom we all knew quite well, cried out: “Abdellah, little girl, come down. Come down. Wake up and come down. We all want you. Come down, Abdellah. Don’t be afraid. We won’t hurt you. We just want to have sex with you.”

They kept yelling for a long time. My nickname. Their desire. Their crime. They said everything that went unsaid in the too-silent, too-respectful world where I lived. But I was far, then, from any such analysis, from understanding that the problem wasn’t me. I was simply afraid. Very afraid.

I’m willing to bet that this sort of blatant, almost socially acceptable if not socially expected, sexual abuse of gay children was exotic to most of Taïa’s readers, at least in North America and Europe. I fear that the lurid explicitness of Taïa’s description blinded many of these readers–including me–to the fact that very similar things go on in their countries.

The general consensus is that, while, non-heterosexual men and women are no more likely to molest children than their heterosexual counterparts, non-heterosexual children suffer substantially higher rates of harassment and assault–including sexual assault–than their heterosexual peers. The problem is very serious.

Martin and Hetrick (1988) in their study of gay and lesbian teens reported that the third most frequently reported problem for gay teens was violence. Over 40% of their sample had suffered violence because of their sexual orientation, and 49% of the violence occurred within the family. Others have obtained similar findings (Harry, 1989). They also reported that 22% of gay teens in their sample had been sexually abused. Consistent with sexual abuse of female children, most were abused or raped by male relatives. Most blamed themselves or were blamed by others because of their sexual orientation.

In a 2005 post at the Box Turtle Bulletin, Jim Burroway notes the existence of two categories of sexual molesters of children, fixated and regressed. Fixated molesters haven’t progressed beyond beyond childhood, basically. Regressed molesters?

[T]he regressed molester is very different. His attraction to children is usually more temporary. Unlike the fixated molester, the regressed molester’s primary sexual attraction is toward other adults. But stressful conditions that go along with adult responsibly or difficulties in his adult relationships may overwhelm him, causing his sexual focus to “regress” towards children. This regression sometimes serves as a substitute for adult relationship, and his attraction to children may vary according to the varying stresses he encounters in his adult life demands.

In some cases, he may temporarily relate to the child as a peer, much as a fixated offender relates to children. But more often, he is simply lashing out against the stresses in his life, and the child becomes a convenient target. The offender may find a sense of power in his sexual relationship with a child that he doesn’t get with an adult. When that happens this relationship with the child is often violent. But regardless of the nature of the relationship, the gender of the child is often irrelevant — it’s the easy access and vulnerability that makes the child a target.

Regressed offenders are typically heterosexual in their adult relationships. Unlike our three percent sample, they date women and marry them. They often are parents, stepparents or extended family members of their victims. By all appearances — and by their own self-identification — they are straight.

Regressed molesters describe their attraction to young boys as lying in their non-masculine physical appearance: “the young boys did not have any body hair and that their bodies were soft and smooth.”

I’m willing to bet that non-gender-conforming behaviour is also a risk factor for children–in fact, one recent study indicates just this.

Some of the childhood abuse victims in the study were gay, but most of them were straight—nearly 60 percent of them identified as heterosexual, and another 25 percent of them identified as “mostly” hetero, compared to about 10 percent who identified as gay or lesbian. (Unfortunately, the study didn’t also ask them if they identified as transgender).

Previous studies on gender identity and abuse focused squarely on “small samples of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults recruited through gay and lesbian community venues.” They hadn’t looked into how homophobia affects kids who aren’t gay, but are perceived—or feared—to be so. Homophobia is so pervasive that even the perception that a kid might be gay can inspire homophobic parents to “become more physically or psychologically abusive in an attempt to discourage their child’s gender nonconformity or same-sex orientation,”the study posits. Outside influence hurts, too. Some parents may abuse their children because they “think others will assume their child will be gay or lesbian.”

Is Abdellah Taïa’s experience of attempted sexual abuse on the grounds of his childhood gender non-conformity really so foreign? Or does it represent a phenomenon that only now, as the bullying and abuse of non-conforming children is confronted really for the first time, people are starting to pick up on everywhere? I say that having this phenomenon hidden from any kind of public discussion is just another way of tacitly accepting it.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 31, 2012 at 5:56 am

[BLOG-LIKE POSTING] On unrecognized epidemics of sexual abuse of the gender non-conforming

On Monday, I linked to Morocco-born Abdellah Taïa‘s biographical essay in the New York Times describing how he, an “effeminate little boy” was also a “boy to be sacrificed”, how his non-conformity with the gender norms of his conservative Moroccan origins left him open to abuse by everyone. Not a woman to be sequestered, certainly not a proper man, young Taïa’s effeminacy marked him as an acceptable sexual object. It all culminated for him one night in a scene out of Biblical Sodom, when one night Taïa’s home was surrounded by men clamouring to have sex with him.

It all came to a head one summer night in 1985. It was too hot. Everyone was trying in vain to fall asleep. I, too, lay awake, on the floor beside my sisters, my mother close by. Suddenly, the familiar voices of drunken men reached us. We all heard them. The whole family. The whole neighborhood. The whole world. These men, whom we all knew quite well, cried out: “Abdellah, little girl, come down. Come down. Wake up and come down. We all want you. Come down, Abdellah. Don’t be afraid. We won’t hurt you. We just want to have sex with you.”

They kept yelling for a long time. My nickname. Their desire. Their crime. They said everything that went unsaid in the too-silent, too-respectful world where I lived. But I was far, then, from any such analysis, from understanding that the problem wasn’t me. I was simply afraid. Very afraid.

I’m willing to bet that this sort of blatant, almost socially acceptable if not socially expected, sexual abuse of gay children was exotic to most of Taïa’s readers, at least in North America and Europe. I fear that the lurid explicitness of Taïa’s description blinded many of these readers–including me–to the fact that very similar things go on in their countries.

The general consensus is that, while, non-heterosexual men and women are no more likely to molest children than their heterosexual counterparts, non-heterosexual children suffer substantially higher rates of harassment and assault–including sexual assault–than their heterosexual peers. The problem is very serious.

Martin and Hetrick (1988) in their study of gay and lesbian teens reported that the third most frequently reported problem for gay teens was violence. Over 40% of their sample had suffered violence because of their sexual orientation, and 49% of the violence occurred within the family. Others have obtained similar findings (Harry, 1989). They also reported that 22% of gay teens in their sample had been sexually abused. Consistent with sexual abuse of female children, most were abused or raped by male relatives. Most blamed themselves or were blamed by others because of their sexual orientation.

In a 2005 post at the Box Turtle Bulletin, Jim Burroway notes the existence of two categories of sexual molesters of children, fixated and regressed. Fixated molesters haven’t progressed beyond beyond childhood, basically. Regressed molesters?

[T]he regressed molester is very different. His attraction to children is usually more temporary. Unlike the fixated molester, the regressed molester’s primary sexual attraction is toward other adults. But stressful conditions that go along with adult responsibly or difficulties in his adult relationships may overwhelm him, causing his sexual focus to “regress” towards children. This regression sometimes serves as a substitute for adult relationship, and his attraction to children may vary according to the varying stresses he encounters in his adult life demands.

In some cases, he may temporarily relate to the child as a peer, much as a fixated offender relates to children. But more often, he is simply lashing out against the stresses in his life, and the child becomes a convenient target. The offender may find a sense of power in his sexual relationship with a child that he doesn’t get with an adult. When that happens this relationship with the child is often violent. But regardless of the nature of the relationship, the gender of the child is often irrelevant — it’s the easy access and vulnerability that makes the child a target.

Regressed offenders are typically heterosexual in their adult relationships. Unlike our three percent sample, they date women and marry them. They often are parents, stepparents or extended family members of their victims. By all appearances — and by their own self-identification — they are straight.

Regressed molesters describe their attraction to young boys as lying in their non-masculine physical appearance: “the young boys did not have any body hair and that their bodies were soft and smooth.”

I’m willing to bet that non-gender-conforming behaviour is also a risk factor for children–in fact, one recent study indicates just this.

Some of the childhood abuse victims in the study were gay, but most of them were straight—nearly 60 percent of them identified as heterosexual, and another 25 percent of them identified as “mostly” hetero, compared to about 10 percent who identified as gay or lesbian. (Unfortunately, the study didn’t also ask them if they identified as transgender).

Previous studies on gender identity and abuse focused squarely on “small samples of gay, lesbian, and bisexual adults recruited through gay and lesbian community venues.” They hadn’t looked into how homophobia affects kids who aren’t gay, but are perceived—or feared—to be so. Homophobia is so pervasive that even the perception that a kid might be gay can inspire homophobic parents to “become more physically or psychologically abusive in an attempt to discourage their child’s gender nonconformity or same-sex orientation,”the study posits. Outside influence hurts, too. Some parents may abuse their children because they “think others will assume their child will be gay or lesbian.”

Is Abdellah Taïa’s experience of attempted sexual abuse on the grounds of his childhood gender non-conformity really so foreign? Or does it represent a phenomenon that only now, as the bullying and abuse of non-conforming children is confronted really for the first time, people are starting to pick up on everywhere? I say that having this phenomenon hidden from any kind of public discussion is just another way of tacitly accepting it.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 31, 2012 at 1:56 am

Posted in Assorted

Tagged with , ,

[LINK] “Is Brazil big enough for Facebook and Orkut?”

Facebook has surpassed Orkut in Brazil, just as Facebook has surpassed other social networking sites in other countries. Local alternatives have stopped, are stopping, or will stop being viable alternatives to the global juggernaut.

(On a related note, apparently Tumblr’s doing well in Brazil.)

Not long ago we were making the prediction that Facebook would become the dominant social force in Brazil. Over time Brazilians seem to have started to identify themselves with Facebook and looked at it as the best place to start their online lives over from scratch, helping lead to its widespread adoption.

At the beginning of 2012, numbers revealed that Facebook attracted 36.1 million visitors, that is an increase of 192% on the year, while Orkut received 34.4 million visitors during the same month.

“Brazil has always been a particularly social market and currently owns the fifth largest social networking population in the world. But despite the cultural affinity for social media, Facebook adoption had traditionally lagged in the market. That has all changed in the past year, during which the site has tripled in audience size as engagement has grown sevenfold to assume the leadership position in the market” comScore.

When Orkut came along in 2004, Internet use was stagnant in Brazil and the social network gave the people their first taste of social media, with a simple interface and Portuguese language option making it easier to use in comparison with MySpace – soon Orkut became a part of the social culture. But it seems that it wasn’t enough for its users… In terms of innovation, Orkut failed, while Facebook is offering new applications, games and the ability to connect with people beyond Brazil.

The shift of power between Facebook and Orkut is significant especially because Google was confident about its dominance in Brazil. The battle for dominance has become even more interesting now Google is attempting to overtake Facebook in the form of Google+ (4.3 million members).

[. . .]

At the same time, Tumblr is used by 49 million Brazilians, but Tumblr’s main audience is in the US with 249 million visitors, followed by Brazil and UK (34 million). The founder and CEO David Karp announced that this service is now serving 120 million people and 15 billion page views every month. According to thenextweb.com, the average Tumblr blog is re-blogged nine times, helping to distribute user content to wider audiences mainly via RSS, Twitter, Facebook.

Experts are convinced that while the North American market is almost saturated, markets like Brazil or India could help Facebook hit 1 billion users by August.

Written by Randy McDonald

March 30, 2012 at 10:03 pm