Sunday Morning Sexism

They say you should never blog while angry, but I am going to make an exception this morning. The Washington Post has an article out today by one Charlotte Allen that’s about the most pathetic excuse for woman-bashing I’ve seen for a long time.

It doesn’t matter that the author is herself a woman. Comments like this:

I don’t understand why more women don’t relax, enjoy the innate abilities most of us possess (as well as the ones fewer of us possess) and revel in the things most important to life at which nearly all of us excel: tenderness toward children and men and the weak and the ability to make a house a home.

are so thoroughly ignorant and sexist that I’m amazed the Post actually published it. What the hell were they thinking?

Why is Segregation The Answer to Sexism?

I just read that Mexico City has now joined several other locations, including cities in Japan, India, and Brazil, in adding women-only buses and subway cars to combat the ongoing problem of male sexual harassment of female passengers.

According to the article, the women seem to love it, and frankly, I can’t blame them. There’s scarcely a woman on this planet who has not been groped, pinched, handled, or leered at against her will at some point in her life (myself included), and not having to worry about that as you go to work every day would be a welcome relief.

But there’s another part of me that is angry, too. Why do women have to be segregated from men in order to be safe? Why do so many men seem to lack even the most basic sense of courtesy or respect when there is a breast or a butt in their vicinity? In short, why is is so damn hard for men to just keep their hands to themselves?

And please, spare me the “ohhh, they just can’t help themselves” bulls***. Men are perfectly capable of self-control. They are choosing otherwise. And these kinds of actions, however, well-intentioned, just reinforce the perception that a woman outside the ‘safe zone’ is an acceptable target.

"Sesame Street" Not Safe For Kids?

As reported the the NY Times today, two volumes of old “Sesame Street” episodes recently released on DVD come with the following helpful warning label: “These early ‘Sesame Street’ episodes are intended for grown-ups, and may not suit the needs of today’s preschool child.”

WTF?

There are definitely old cartoons that I would not show to kids today. Some of the early Warner Brothers cartoons, for example, come off as highly racist to today’s eyes. But early-1970’s Sesame Street? How could they possibly offend current sensibilities?

Well, first off, there’s the Cookie Monster. An unrepentant cookie addict:

he can be seen in the old-school episodes in his former inglorious incarnation: a blue, googly-eyed cookievore with a signature gobble (“om nom nom nom”).

And then there’s Oscar the Grouch, who can’t seem to see the bright side of anything:

On the first episode, Oscar seems irredeemably miserable — hypersensitive, sarcastic, misanthropic.

And worst of all, the setting: a somewhat run-down city street:

The masonry on the dingy brownstone at 123 Sesame Street, where the closeted Ernie and Bert shared a dismal basement apartment, was deteriorating.

[snip]

People on “Sesame Street” had limited possibilities and fixed identities, and (the best part) you weren’t expected to change much. The harshness of existence was a given, and no one was proposing that numbers and letters would lead you “out” of your inner city to Elysian suburbs. Instead, “Sesame Street” suggested that learning might merely make our days more bearable, more interesting, funnier. It encouraged us, above all, to be nice to our neighbors and to cultivate the safer pleasures that take the edge off — taking baths, eating cookies, reading.

Nope, definitely can’t have kids seeing that.

Ann Coulter on the “imperfect” Jews

I don’t know what’s worse, the fact that Ann Coulter can go on national TV and say that Jews all need to be perfected or that the world would be better off it it were all Christian, or that she doesn’t think that there’s anything wrong with saying so.

Appearing on Donny Deutsch’s CNBC show, “The Big Idea,” on Monday night, columnist/author Ann Coulter suggested that the U.S. would be a better place if there weren’t any Jewish people and that they needed to “perfect” themselves into — Christians.

It’s really hard for me to talk about Coulter without wanting to break into a string of profanity. She seems to enjoy waving red flags in front of bulls and then laughing at the chaos. Generally, I figure that ignoring her is better than stooping to her level or buying into her brand of craziness. But some things are over the line and need to be called as such.

To be clear: Coulter is entitled to believe whatever she wants. If she thinks that Jews are imperfect and that Christians are better than Jews, that’s her right. But there’s another name for that belief, and it’s called bigotry.

It’s wrong, and so is she.

Small wonder that with bigots like her out there as the face of Christianity, the overall perception of Christianity in the US is rapidly plummeting.

Someone Needs to Reinvent Mail

I’m feeling cranky this week, so this will probably sound whiny, but another thing that bugs me about Web 2.0 is that the focus on web web web means that there’s a noticeable lack of innovation in desktop apps.

Unfortunately, man (or in this case, woman) does not live by webmail alone, especially when it comes to office e-mail. I have been through three different IMAP clients at work in recent months (Mail, Entourage, and Thunderbird) and am still not happy with my options.

Are there any other decent options for native Mac IMAP or do I just have to live with one of the above?

Powweb Hosting Woes

So, this spring, Powweb, the company I use for my webhosting was sold. This caused me some concern, because it was announced to customers that as a part of the deal, all the sites hosted on the old web servers would be migrated to some new servers. And oh yea, that would involve an OS switch from FreeBSD to Linux.

I have my preferences for OSes, but I’m hardly a zealot on the subject. FreeBSD and Linux are both perfectly acceptable platforms for web hosting, and I’m not going to get too upset about which one my hosting company uses. However, I also know that switching from one OS to another is bound to cause problems. Things are installed in different places, some modules may not be installed at all, paths change … in short, it tends to break stuff. I was concerned.

My site is not all that complex. I have a copy of Movable Type and a copy of Gallery up and running, and I have only one plug-in that touches my otherwise vanilla installation — MT-Blacklist. It’s a critical part of my website because it makes managing the trackback and comment spam that are the plague of a blogger really simple.

So of course, Powweb’s migration of my site from the old servers to the new ones managed to utterly break MT-Blacklist.

If you’re interested, here’s the error I get when I try to use MT-Blacklist now:

An error occurred: Out of memory during “large” request for 2147487744 bytes, total sbrk() is 5480448 bytes at ../../lib/Storable.pm (autosplit into ../../lib/auto/Storable/thaw.al) line 366, at /home/users/web/b1970/[username]/htdocs/lib/MT/PluginData.pm line 28

I have done some web-based scripting, but that was a long time ago, and only using Cold Fusion. I can customize the settings on someone else’s code, and if I really focused in hard I could probably make some very basic tweaks to an existing script, but troubleshooting something like this, especially on a server where I don’t know what’s installed on it nor what the paths are, is simply beyond me.

At any rate, I opened a ticket with Powweb Support about this problem, and waited. And waited. Every other day, I would send Support an e-mail asking what was up, and each time I was told, “Please be patient, someone is working on your problem.” So I waited. And manually deleted the pings and trackback spam that I kept on getting. After Day 6, I sent a slightly more annoyed e-mail to Support saying that 6 days to fix one script was more than enough, and that moving to a new company was starting to look like a good option. I got a slightly more effusive response, explaining that the issue was being “forwarded to our senior specialist”. I started looking at new web hosts, but decided to give Support a chance to do its thing.

Today though, I finally got the much awaited response from their senior specialist. And what was it? “We Googled your problem, and here’s a blogger in December 2004 who also had this problem. Try their fix and see if that helps.”

Some “Senior Specialist”.

Now, I am pissed off. I waited 8 days thinking I was going to get some expert help, and all I got was a Google search? I can do that myself. I was expecting that someone would look at the script, notice what it calls, and then compare it to what is on the new server to see whether the switch from BSD to Linux caused modules to move, be missing, or act differently. That’s the kind of thing that I as an end-user can’t do.

Yes I know, a real geek would self-host and avoid the problem entirely. I’d rather pay for shared hosting than self-host from the DSL line in my home. Our DSL provider is good, but we do have outages from time to time, and I want the bandwidth, monitoring, uptime & redundancy that you get from a professional host.

In some ways, I’m SOL, and it’s my own fault. MT-Blacklist has been integrated into MovableType since version 3.x, and I’m still using the plug-in version with MT 2.6x, so I can’t go to the author for support: the response will be, “Upgrade”. Which I have not wanted to do, because that would entail re-customizing all of the Movable Type templates in order to get the look and feel of my site back, and I didn’t see the point of doing that when everything was working quite nicely the way it was.

With the long weekend coming up, and us not having much in the way of plans, switching web hosts and/or upgrading my Movable Type installation might be a good project to take up. But then the issue becomes — will I just be trading one set of problems for another?

*mumble grumble grr*