RL72 - Diddling is the MacGuffin

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

The Problem: Just give it to me in pigs and bunnies, referring to John talking nonsense about his computer problems and Merlin jokingly asking him to give it to him in pigs and bunnies instead like his former boss always asked him to do.

The show title refers to the last sentence in the recording where Merlin says that it is about more than a young girl when they talk about pedophiles arguing that they were born this way.

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

Troubleshooting John’s computer (RL72)

Before they started recording they were on the phone together and Merlin did some troubleshooting on John’s computer. He had to reboot his USB because his Firewire had forgotten it was a friend and Merlin told him he should unplug everything and plug it all back in. Merlin is not really a technologist and wants John to repeat that to him in pigs and bunnies. Merlin’s boss was way smarter than him in every conceivable way and Merlin would give him an emesis of half-understood data and Richard would lean back in his chair, pause for a minute and say: ”Could you give that to me in pigs and bunnies”

Often enough the problem is fixed by turning the computer off and back on, and unplugging all devices is basically the same thing. Both John and Merlin find this kind of stuff crazy frustrating and John was using his headphones last night and everything was copasetic, and today it is Alex Van Halen’s 60th birthday and John can’t even make his computer work. Merlin doesn’t want to be ping pong, but that is when he starts all kinds of crazy voodoo shit, taking things apart. The Haitian voodoo priests are so mad right now that Merlin is besmirching the name of their religion and they are going to get together with the Scientologists and the Santeria practitioners and they are going to get a fucking low-tone chicken in the mail.

Nonsensical pop-up windows (RL72)

John got the wonderful bluetooth keyboard that Merlin had recommended and he likes everything about it except that every time he sits down at his computer the Bluetooth Setup Assistant shows up and tells him that it can’t find his bluetooth keyboard and after a 30 second interlocution it does find the keyboard. The fact that the box is wrong and there is no way to type into the machine or say into the microphone: ”Listen, computer, figure it out! It is going to be the same every day!” Merlin pretends to get his binder and starts asking support questions: ”Is your computer Mac or PC?” - ”It is a Dell!” - ”Have you run recent software updates to ensure Mac or PC is up to date?” - ”Yes! I even hot-plugged my USB!” - ”Can you give that to me again in pigs and bunnies?”

It would drive Merlin crazy when he got a dialog box and he didn’t like any of the options. Luckily software has gotten much better over the years. It is the problem with the Internet helpmate / ombudsman Robert Reich, the one that says: ”I am trying to solve your Internet connectivity problems!” (Windows Network Diagnostics). It has no usefulness at all and just tells you what you already know after it made you jump through 7 different hoops, and John doesn’t like being told stupid shit.

It drives Merlin crazy when he goes to a stupid God-damn webpage where he just wants to look at a stupid God-damn article and you get a JavaScript pop-up window asking you if you would like to get their iPhone app with subscription for a free fitness magazine and you have to search for the X and it says something incredibly passive-aggressive like: ”No, thank you! I would like to be reminded about this later!” John wants the third option to be: ”No, fuck you!” Fuck you in the eye, Javascript! Go the fuck away! Merlin gets blamed for enough things in his life as it is and there are so many things he has screwed up, which makes him sensitive about somebody, including a computer pop-up window telling him that the settings aren’t right when he knows it is not his fault.

John has not updated Adobe Flash Whatchamacallit and every time he goes to websites that employ Flash as part of his research as the Pete Townshend of our generation he gets this Adobe window saying that he needs to update Flash, but the only reason he would need to update is that the animated ads on the side of the screen can annoy him with their turrets flashing, so he has not updated it.

Today, he got a different kind of window that said he hasn’t updated Adobe Flash for so long that they are just blocking Flash content from his computer and all of the places with are advertisements are now just a broken link sign and John could not be happier! It feels like a hack! Is that all it took? Disable Flash and now he can just look at websites and they are not screaming at him? It is a war of attrition! If he now goes to some 2002 Indie Rocker’s un-updated website he is not going to see the animation of a little clown with some balloons. Skip Intro! If Merlin were the president of Adobe he would like to be named Skip Intro. It would be such a good Punk Rock name!

Wearing pink items as a man, gender-normative dress code (RL72)

Merlin’s daughter is today a unicorn prince and her friend, a girl she kisses sometimes, is a princess. Merlin loves his kid’s school and he is going to miss it. He dropped her off this morning and an awesome boy with long hair showed up, wearing blue jeans and a Rugby shirt and a fuchsia giant flower headband in his hair. Merlin told him that he looked awesome and his daughter was dresses as a boy because she is a unicorn prince, and his mom turned to him and said that he wanted to be pretty today.

In 2003, 10 years ago, John was on tour with Death Cab for Cutie and one night they played in Burlington, Vermont and it was cold. He went down to the Main Street of Burlington, which is a gypsy bazar (which is a little bit ping pong, but John is an old-fashioned person who still refers to them as gypsies and he knows it is offensive). You can get home-made almond butter and hemp underwear and there was a little kiosk selling scarves. He bought a pink scarf because it was the one that appealed to him. On the way back to the venue and at the venue no fewer than 6 people commented that he was wearing a pink scarf, but when he bought it it didn’t occur to him that there would be any kind of signal or that it would in any way be too confusing for people.

John still wears that scarf and he still gets comments from people, like: ”Nice pink scarf!” Is pink really such an off-limits color for an adult man that you can not have one item of pink flair without it freaking people out? Merlin has seen John wear pink polo shirts, he wears pink all up and down because pink is a handsome color. As a big fellow it is a nice way to soften his look. ”Soften” is a bit of a gender-normative adjective. You don’t say fat and you don’t say soft. John said that somebody was a Nancy the other day and he got a bunch of raised eyebrows.

Merlin wishes they could pick their listeners. Some time they are going to have to have a program where they really boil it down and have a discussion about the word. They will be racist and sexist for an hour and everybody would hate them forever! They would deliberately try to oppress people. Merlin unintentionally thought about semiotics this morning and he had to set it aside and leave it. What troubles him is that whole ”Oh,…” You are not even saying: ”Oh, you look like a homosexual and that is bad!”, but they are leaving something in the air unaddressed.

That is why John is carrying a pink/graphite tennis racket everywhere he goes (see RL11, John’s principal in Alaska would beat the kids with a tennis racket with weights attached). He just gives them a bunk right in the sweat spot that makes a satisfying noise and if he needs to he can always turn it sideways.

Hugh Hefner’s son (RL72)

There are laws, but there is also a tremendous amount of crinkled up noses, like: ”Oh, that is gross! Hugh Hefner just married a 26-year old (Crystal Harris), that is gross! He is 87!”, but half the population high-fives him for it. Merlin feels like Hefner is getting married to somebody 20 every few months, but he has actually only been married three times. His taste in women has become more and more cartoony as he gets old and they should wheel in a giant boob to his room every night at 11pm and then he can grope it and paw at it and then they just wheel the boob out and he is laying in bed covered in perspiration. The boob would be the size of Queen Alien in Starship Troopers.

The problem with porn according to Merlin is that familiarity breeds porn contempt. No matter how much porn you got you always want more and in time you want it to get more and more fucked up. Hugh Hefner might start out with a built-to-scale 1:8 sized boobie, but maybe sometimes he wants a 1:8 sized man boobie or something. Merlin doesn’t want to get into the Dead Rubber Girl thing (see RL21), but once you got one rubber girl you probably want two and then you want to get 4 so you can have a tea party. Imagine you spend all that money on a Dead Rubber Girl and then you get bored of her!

Merlin has spent money on some very costly things that he got bored with very quickly. John has a whole drawer of digital cameras that he doesn’t use anymore. The first digital camera Merlin ever bought was in 1999 and it was less than 1 megapixel although it felt revolutionary at the time and it was very costly and those pictures now look ridiculous. Each time one of these new dingi come out you think it is going to be a revolution and it kind of is for a while.

Hugh Hefner has a son. He has probably had a lot of sex, but none of it qualifies as good sex as John sees it. He does not think that he can pleasure a lady, but he exists to be pleasured and that has probably been true since the start. Imagine being a pretty lady and here comes even a young Hugh Hefner! Ew! He has this young kind, the Playboy prince, named Cooper Hefner who was born recently (in 1991) and he is Hugh Hefner’s son and his father is grooming him as he has groomed so many ladies to take over the Playboy enterprise.

The first question is: When and how did Cooper Hefner lose his virginity? It was probably not in the backseat of a (Chevy) Corvair parked at look-out point, it was probably not by the Bandstand with a girl he goes to High School with. It was probably not under the boardwalk, but it was undoubtedly on a round bed or in a grotto and he was initiated into this world in some kind of grotesquery where a half a dozen playmates were ”tihihi!” that were dispatched by his father in some initial sexual ordeal, a trial by vaginal fire. John can not imagine it happened in any other way. He was probably 10 years old at a premature age. You are Hugh Hefner’s son and your mother is a playmate!

All fallen leaves should curse their branches. (lyrics of the song Curse Your Branches by David Bazan). It was like John’s buddy having to drive around with the fucking clydesdales to go to the prom (see RL14): He didn’t pick that, but his Anheuser-Busch dad (not to work ping pong) that makes him get behind some clompy horses to go to the prom.

He is 22 years old. How many sexes has he had with playmates probably exclusively? John cannot image that Hugh Hefner has not rationalized his position in life to such an extend that he believes that sex with multiple beautiful girls is not his son’s birth right and that at a certain point, probably pretty early on, he wanted to get the show on the road and make it happen.

Merlin is looking at Hugh Hefner’s Wikipedia picture of him in a captain’s hat although he was not really the captain of anything. It is baseless insignia, which is not scrambled eggs, which is two crossed anchors and a life preserver. Merlin wonders that if the parade that Cooper Hefner wants is on a round bed in a grotto with a lot of girls who had surgery, do we get to go: ”Boooo, Cooper!” because he was born that way.

John’s dad wanting to teach John about sex at a Chinese massage parlor (RL72)

When John’s dad came back from his trip to China he was saying that one of the people on the trip was a madam and John was looking down at his book, pretending not to hear it. He continued that she runs a massage parlor. Any time John wanted to go over there she said his dad should just bring him over. John was 15-16 years old and he was really staring at his book. His dad was born in 1921 and he didn’t know how to teach his kid about sex.

He also didn’t know how to do it right the Hugh Hefner way, which is to be like: ”Let’s go to the Hardware store!” and then pull into a parking lot to a place called ”Sally’s Oriental Massage” John and his dad went to a lot stranger places than that together and if they had gone inside and there were 11 girls in lacy undergarments and some madam wearing a silk Chinese chemise and he would just be like: ”All right, kid! Go get them!” - ”What? No! Whaaaaa!” and the door would slam and it would be like a scene out of a movie. Instead he said: ”Anytime you want to go by there, just let me know!”

But Anchorage is not that big of a town and every time they drove by this place for the next 10 years John was studying his fingernail: ”Oh Jesus, don’t bring it up! For the love of Christ!” and he would every once in a while start talking about it. John would rather have been dragged out of his little racing car shaped bed at the age of 10 and thrown into a snake-pit of playmates. at least then it would be done!

It is like the tooth in the door knob when you have a loose tooth. It did happen to John, his mom tied his loose tooth to a door knob and shut the door. He was basically raised by victorians. It hurt like hell! The more John thinks about it: He does want a fucking parade. Where is his God-damn parade?

Is polyamory a choice or are you born that way? (RL72)

There is a relatively new movement for Polyamorous Rights. Merlin make uncomfortable noises when John starts talking about this topic. John rejects the term ”polyamorous” for this class of people, it is a word that is a mixture of Greek and Latin. Merlin wonders if he can simply call it wife-swapping or if that is normative. The thing is that it isn’t swapping, but they want to be in multiple relationships simultaneously, or they say that they don’t want to but are born this way. Merlin suggests the term polyphiliacs instead.

The great American Dan Savage went online recently and said in response to people writing him that he doesn’t think polyamory is a thing you are born with, but it is a choice you are making. In response to advice he was giving people were telling him that they were born this way and polyamorous rights and their struggle for recognition and acceptance is equivalent to the Gay Rights struggle, which is equivalent to the Civil Rights struggle. Everyone has been living in slavery and now we are in the middle of the Niagara of recognition that people are born as they are and everybody should be entitled to the same tribulation (?).

Dan Savage is the locus point in America for this type of conversation, he is always at the forefront of gay rights. Merlin wonders if the word ”queer” is still the one to use, but the kids rewriting the rules every day now about what language is acceptable. There are 21-year olds out there who are dictating what language is and is not acceptable and John is not on all of the RSS feeds. There is a great guy in England who publishes an e-zine called world wide words where every week he does a deep etymology of a few different words.

John has been turning the struggles of the polyamorous over in his mind, both because we are fast arriving at the singularity of rights and we are abandoning the idea of nurture and are trending toward ”born this way” A lot of John’s problems in life in interacting with other people are the result of trades that he was born with. His nature is such. He looks at his grandfather and his life and his mother and her life and he looks back in his family and sees these trades expressed in a way that he was not taught.

He came equipped with this kind of personality that has affected the way he has interacted with people and the success he has had in the world and although he does not want a parade, over the course of the last 20 years he has felt increasingly less like a freak and more like a type, which has given him a certain freedom. He is introverted, he is a loner, but he is also a social introvert, which makes it confusing why he wants to come home with you, but he doesn’t want to stay the night.

A lot of people on the Internet self-identify as asexual, like Morrissey who is similarly liberated by the recognition that they have a group, that they are a type, not a freak, and they trend toward asexual on the great globular graph of human types. John feels with the polyamorous out there - with his long tongue - and there they are, living in a world where monogamy is unquestionably the mass, not just socially determined, but it is the type and the choice of the majority. Yet here these people are who legitimately say that they never ever felt a different way than wanting to have two wives and wanting to be in simultaneous caring and loving relationships with two people, and now they want their civil rights and their human rights.

Merlin doesn’t get involved in this topic and he doesn’t want to argue with the lady who always wants to argue with them. He would like to understand what rights are being denied these people. Merlin wishes there was a distinction between for example an atheist and an antitheist. Richard Dawkins is not an atheist, but he is an antitheist. When you determine your politics and rights based on what you are not, then you are not on the road to empowerment, but to systematically and mindfully marginalizing yourself.

Living in Downtown of a Western city, as John has done for many years. He was just in the Akron-Canton Cleveland axis in Ohio, the Cuyahoga River Valley and it is very different from Seattle. A lot of riding lawnmowers, leaf-blowers and middle-aged women with wedge haircuts. Living in the West, for many years John has interacted with people who are self-identifying as freaky or that they were not interested in a vanilla lifestyle.

As a researcher and as a Rock musician he would find himself back in their lair or in their cave and he could observe them in their natural habitat. As a self-identified queer- or freak-positive person John was there like UN observer, in some way he did have a blue helmet. In most cases he discovered that the freakiness was not superior to vanilla and being not vanilla was not the same as having an evolved sexuality or an evolved set of tastes, but it was largely defined by what it wasn’t, and John could make that complaint about Punk Rock, too.

When John was in High School, if you liked Metal, you were a Metalhead, and today there would be 40 different splinter social groups and the Death Metal kids and the Classic British Metal kids would not be able to sit around the core campfire with the Melodic Death Metal kids. John listens to certain threads of new Metal and thinks that this is not Metal, it is just Metal sounds and Metal parts put together. You could hook up a Volkswagen to a BOSS pedal and listen to it turn over and it would sound basically the same.

It is extremely frustrating to African American people when people say things are like the Civil Rights Movement. If you learned about the Civil Rights Movement in the 1990s it might sound pretty similar because we are treated poorly, people are discriminating against us and there are willful, systematic attempts to keep us from being part of the culture. Whether that was Montgomery or Kristallnacht: It was a real thing. But somebody who is black when they are 21 is also black when they are 70. There are a lot fewer people who are freaky when they are 21 and who are still freaky when they are middle-age, and the ones you are don’t fucking care what you think and don’t need you to like their rights, they are just doing their thing.

John says that if Merlin ever came on the Jonathan Coulton Cruise (JoCo Cruise), then he would see a lot of middle-aged freaky people, but they find their place. Merlin says he will never go on any cruise, but in 2015 he eventually went on the cruise with John (see JoCo2015). Merlin really respects people who don’t need a label. One reason he is gaining more and more respect for LARPers and cosplayers is that they are positive in the sense of saying: ”I like dressing up like Captain Marvel!” or ”I am a paladin! I can’t use a vorpal blade, but I can sure have fun on the weekends!”

Their libertarian priest listener is surely loving this conversation because he knows all about the powers of paladin, he is the DnD priest. Merlin recently learned that you can change your alignment, but you will lose experience points. Merlin was watching the Hunger Games movie the other night, which is actually 100 times better than he expected and he thought that she was a ranger, a high-dexterity with pretty good strength and charisma in a cloak. Merlin always thought of himself as a youngster as Chaotic Good, which most teenagers like to think they are.

But as they get further along in life a lot of them have to confront the fact that they are not Chaotic Good, but that they are more or less Lawful Good like the majority of people probably are. They are probably just disoriented normal. Merlin’s alignment has changed as he has grown older and he doesn’t think of himself as Good anymore. A paladin has to be lawful good, which means not simply that you are onto the law and a good person, but you must act in pursuit of lawful things and you must make things good.

This is the problem with all these fucking teenagers running around in their God-damn bathrobes: They are not fighting in the service of anything except their own identity at that time. Why don’t you get back in the oven and bake for 5 more years and then come back and tell us what words we are allowed to use? With all due respect!

John does agree that the Civil Rights Movement in America is not exactly analogous to the proliferation of rights movements, but leaving the fact aside that everybody is trying to connect their small struggle to the large struggle we are now living in a world where we have to reckon with all of these small struggles and people are not thinking the ”born this way” all the way through. ”Born this way” is precisely the argument that NAMBLA (North American Man/Boy Love Association, a pedophilia and pederasty advocacy organization in the United States) members use.

Merlin says that John just did the white van Kid Diddler version of Godwin’s Law: ”If we make gay marriage possible, then people are going to marry their cats!” This is why people who get mad at John argue that he has gone across the radical spectrum and is on the other side now, back to reactionary. As part of his Pete Townshend research John has listened to the voices of the oppressed men who love children and he has listened to their lamentations and you can’t help but have sympathy for them as they stand before a judge and beg to be castrated and say: ”I cannot help these urges, I have had them since I can remember, I know it is criminal, I know it is wrong, I want to be castrated, I want to go to jail, please execute me!”

Every time a child molester goes to prison we hope he will get raped 1000 times, but a lot of these guys have been fighting this their whole lives and they feel that they are born this way. John is not equating polyamory or LARPing with child molestation or Bronieism, but if you go down the rabbit hole of ”born this way” there is a lot of things down deeper in the hole that you don’t want to look at, and where do you draw the line? Where do you say: ”This is unconscionable to us, we can not allow it past this point, but up on this side of it we are going to say: Yes, goddamn it! Bronies have rights!”

Merlin clarifies that if your basic thesis is that ”born this way” has to be acceptable because anyone who is born a certain way has the inalienable right to be respected and found lawful for what it is, in other words we should not penalize people for being born this way, and you open the door to all the things John is going to get email about.

Human beings are animals, first and foremost, and ”born this way” is a naturalistic argument that our natures are pre-determined by our animal selves, but across the great spectrum of human beings, a lot of us are born in way that as soon as that way is identified we should probably put that person to death immediately. Jeffrey Dahmer fought his whole life to control his urges to rape and eat his victims, he is also ”born that way” This is by no means an argument against the progress that we have made. ”Your furry glove in my chainmail hand”

John worries about this all the time because as he walks through life he supports people’s desire to be free, but at a certain point all of civilization and all of law is designed to constrain people’s freedom for the benefit of the mass and the good of the main. We are extending the borders of what we consider to be the mainstream. Homosexuality is now completely mainstreamed in America and America has gained for it, but as we are extending these borders we are all going to have to reckon with just exactly where we want to draw the new line because you cannot extend the franchise all the way out to everybody because there are freaky people out there, people who are born in a way that gives us pause, but we are not talking about that.

Just because Merlin disagrees with them about the name or entitlement of something doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get to do what you want. You can end up having an extremely loud and long argument about two different things without ever distinguishing what they are. Why are we arguing? Everybody should be able to do the thing that they want to do, but Merlin doesn’t like to be constantly tutored by people about how he needs to realign his thinking and vocabulary to comport with what they are feeling this week.

One reason why Republicans and Conservatives had so much success over the years is organization and things like being able to rally people and send out an email to go: ”Here is a link! Go to this CNN poll and vote this way!” The other thing they are great at is being able to control the vocabulary and framing what the actual thing is we are talking about, just by a choice of words, like ”pro life” You let everybody in your camp know what the messaging is and what the point is that we need to make in every interview and these are the words we need to use in order to do this.

For example the word ”urban” has a very coated meaning. The newsletter that we are all been forced to subscribe to that we dare not fall behind on is the one that lets us know what is hot and what is not in terms of what noun to use to keep somebody from being a God-damn slave, which puts such a lie to some really important shit that has been going down in the last 400 years that it makes Merlin furious. ”You were not in Auschwitz! Relax!”

What interests John about the conversation as always are the first principles. He doesn’t think it is very effective to talk about drone attacks in Afghanistan or about Guantanamo or about the extension of Civil Rights to each successive group, unless some part of the population is talking about it in terms of first principles. Every time a new group rises up out of the mist to demand their Civil Rights and to be acknowledged as a group and to be accepted into the mainstream. They want to come out of the darkness and they want for instance polyamory, which more or less hurts nobody, but they want to be able to say to their co-workers that they are polyamorous and they are going to bring two people to their employee picnic and they want insurance and benefits.

When it comes to drone attacks and Guantanamo we are pushing in specific cases what we universally agree are the limits. We are sending drones now without any human oversight except people in tractor trailers in the Nevada desert who say: ”I don’t like the look of that turban. I think that guy is bad! Send in an air-ground-missile!” and after the missile was launched 4 kids came running out of the door kicking a soccer ball and now there are 8 seconds until the missile lands and we are just going to sit here in our trailer and watch them vaporize and then we are going to go home and have a Stouffer’s Dinner.

We are trying to figure out what the new limits are without looking at it from on high. There is no council of elders really because the media has largely abdicated this role. Nobody writes about it anymore from this standpoint because nobody likes to get letters and there has been a tremendous decline in the national dialog. But when it comes to pederasty there needs to be a conversation about it in our culture that no-one wants to initiate, no-one wants to come out and say: ”Let’s take a hard look at this!” When a 22-year old has sex with a 15-year old and in some states he goes to jail for that, is that really equivalent to a 75-year old molesting a 6-year old?

The problem with this conversation is that it is too close to the Republican argument that if you allow gay marriage then people are going to have sex with their dogs. Merlin had that actual conversation with a grown woman. People on that side of the equation are not smart enough to phrase their argument better than that, and people on our side of the equation are so conditioned to hearing that kind of talk that any suggestion that we say: ”Wait a minute, let’s talk about what this really means!” smacks to them as this kind of bigotry.

The reality is: What keeps horn-dogs and creeps from saying: ”I was born this way! I am a person who gropes girls at Rock concerts! I own a restaurant and I have a camera that takes photos of women pooping!” They call it Chuck Berryism (see here) You have to admire him because he did a lot with the 12-bar Blues that was really revolutionary, he invented a certain kind of bend on the 5th that changed everything, and he has gotten freaky in more different fucked-up ways that a lot of people have. You go to jail for little kids, but then you are also into poop? Talk about a polyamorous polymath!

It is very clear where we draw the line on something like that: It is okay if Chuck Berry is into poop, but it is not okay to take pictures of people without their consent. That is a clear line in the law. If he wants to spend his money to hire people to pretend to be pooping in a toilet and take pictures of them, that is fine. There is a place in Las Vegas where you can do that. This is again The Age of Consent question, which is actually a Bronski Beat record, and on the back cover of that album is the legal age of consent for sex in every country of the world.

Some countries probably do not have a limit because there they are also marrying 8-year old girls to 35 year old guys. The fact that even in the 50 United States there are major variations between the lowest and the highest age of consent suggests that we don’t have a clear picture what consent looks like enough that people are going to prison. Listen to the poor defenseless pederasts who really characterize themselves as victims in the whole affair and talk about this 12-year old temptress who was the Lolita, but that book is one of the great American novels (by Vladimir Nabokov). Diddling is the MacGuffin, it is about a lot more than about a young girl. ”You can feel them with your tongue.” Don’t get John started on eugenics!

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License