The Shamosphere

I almost hesitate to link to these ridiculous losers, but I’ve recently stumbled across a group of people who call themselves wolves, real men, and refer to to their reality distortion bubble as “the manosphere”.

What is the manosphere, you ask? It’s like the blogosphere, but full of dicks.

The First Annual Manospehere Gathering

The First Annual Manospehere Gathering

This article, “The Manosphere For Dummies”, is an excellent primer. (I suggest they add “Is” to the middle of the title, just to clarify for newcomers.) The manosphere is populated by all sorts of acronyms: MRAs, MGTOWs, and PUAs, most of whom seem united in their belief that there is a repressed class in our society, and that repressed class is the heterosexual white male. And who, you may ask, is doing the oppressing? Why, females and minorities of course! Their proof? They point to things like affirmative action, feminism, and child support laws with shrill shouts of “MISANDRY!” In their narrative, heterosexual white males are majestic and mighty animals akin to wolves, and the rest of society (that is, anyone who doesn’t fall into lockstep with their positions and views) are nothing more than rabbits who hate them for their alleged power and success.

I am amused by this the most, as I’m almost certain that many of these guys would be considered mediocre at best by any reasonable metric of success. On their blogs and in their forums they shill their books to other “alphas”, create manifestos that enforce traditional gender roles (nine listed for men without a single mention of family, three listed for women that all include some mention of family), and write stories promising imminent success and exposure for their “movement”.

All of this ended up on my radar after a big bad wolf named Matt Forney wrote an absurd article about why Portland sucks for single men (hint: it doesn’t, unless you’re a whiny putz with a chip on his shoulder who thinks women owe him attention and sex). After the backlash, he wrote another article about how Alpha Males™ like him are wolves, and the beta misandrist feminist communist [insert other strawmen here] throng are haters and pathetic rabbits. Even ignoring Forney’s junk science regarding the amygdalae, the rest of his metaphor falls apart in a number of ways.

Rabbits breed like crazy, have no loyalty to their in-group (their relatives), and respond to danger by running away… just like leftists.

And like rabbits, leftists are herd creatures who think and act in lockstep.

Leftists breed like crazy? Let’s be honest: people breed like crazy, but at least those on the left tend to be strong advocates for birth control and family planning. Contrast this with people like the Duggars, religious conservatives who have popped out so many kids that family vacations must consist of a caravan of a half dozen cars, or the backwards conservative legislators who attempt to do away with funding for STI prevention and sex education. While I can’t speak for all “leftists”, I personally do not run away from danger. Sometimes life is difficult and painful. I know this at least as well as, if not better than, most. Running away does nothing to solve problems. Lastly, every movement or ideology has “me too” people in its ranks, it is not something unique to the left.

wolf-howling-full-moon

ARRROOOOOOOOO! I’m buying Forney this shirt for his birthday.

The entire article, along with Forney’s post whining about being single in Portland, reads like the bitter screed of a person who struggles to fit into society, and instead of using that as an opportunity for reflection and self-improvement has doubled down on his stupidity, beating his chest and declaring aloud how awesome he finds himself, and asserts that the blame rests with us– the rabbits to his wolf– rather than with his own childish attitude and unreasonable expectation that people treat him like a rockstar.

One of the complaints in his article about Portland dating was that no women he “cold approached” (a pick-up artist term meaning to strike up unbidden conversation with a woman in the hopes of getting laid) cared about his stories of ditch-digging and hitch-hiking across the country. What did he expect? “Oh, Matt, listening to your stories of manly shovel-handling and mooching rides from strangers makes me need your dick. Let’s go back to my place right now.” The reason people don’t think you’re interesting is because you’re not very interesting. I’ve done all kinds of awesome things, but I don’t use that as a blunt instrument with which to beat people over the head and demand they acknowledge my special snowflake-ness.

What’s funny is that I agree with some of Forney’s points. I’ve lived in Portland for almost two years. While it’s true that some people are nice on the surface but resistant to deeper connections, I’ve also met some great people here who have become close friends. It seems Matt’s problem is that his negativity, bitter outlook on women and society, and his over-inflated sense of self-importance are the primary things he brings to the table. As with most things in life, you get out what you put in.

Ultimately, the manosphere is a shamosphere. These people aren’t warriors, heroes, or wolves, they’re bloggers whining about whiners on the internet (sort of like me, except that I’m honest about it). They care about their ethos insomuch as it results in book sales and blog views, writing reviews for books written by other “manospherians” as a way to share the wealth– in a totally capitalistic way, of course!– offered by those who need to read a book to learn how to be the Alphaiest of Alpha Males™. Despite their loud protestations that they are independent, real men, they seem to swarm in defense of one another, shill books written by other manospherians, and all have the same bald head and goateed look of petulant, powerless Lex Luthor. But, hey, he must be cool, why else would he have his youtube videos start by fading in to show him with a glass of scotch and lighting a cigarette while sitting in a plush chair?

The Ideal Alpha Male: A Pissy Lex Luthor With A Youtube Channel

Checkmate, rabbits!

Holy shit, what a week!

Been busy as hell lately. Last week, thanks to a worldwide coordinated attack on WordPress sites (which is what I use for this here blog and many of my other webpages), all of my sites went down for multiple hours over a two day period. Since I’m getting ready to self-publish a book (tired of me talking about it yet?) it’s sort of important to have a functioning website, so I switched to a new host! If you’ve never had to do this on a whim before, it’s kind of nerve-wracking, and the switch took about three days out of my week.

On the plus side, I used the opportunity to flesh out some side projects I’ve had on the backburner for far too long. One of them is an anti-gay marriage parody site, Stop Gray Marriage. I’d like to get some guest submissions, so if you have content to add please email me!

So, that’s all the new stuff on the Dan front. Book is coming along and should be out soon. Websites are all back up. Spring is coming.

A rant about bootlickers

Inspired by this article and its comments.

It is absolutely terrifying to read an article about an American citizen being arrested for refusing to answer questions of dubious legality at a border patrol checkpoint that is not even at the border, and see responses that say things like, “Stop making such a fuss, just answer them the next time.”

Who the fuck are these people? These pathetic excuses for human beings that are so spineless and milquetoast that the idea of standing up for their rights is as foreign to them as an asteroid from the Oort cloud. You are not obligated to follow an unlawful command just because it comes from a law enforcement officer. You are not obligated to answer questions that have no legal standing. Grow a god damn backbone, you fucking invertebrates.

Record. Refuse. Resist.

And if you’re not capable of gaining guts, at the very least quit demanding that the rest of us act as meek and useless as you.

Punk rock story

I subscribe to /r/WritingPrompts. I don’t usually write anything based on the prompts, but I really liked the one today so I decided to write a short story. Warning: It’s a little dark.

The prompt:

Write a short piece using delusion to accelerate something very every day until it breaks down to absurdity. Use illness, or drugs, or sleep deprivation as your device, any stress that will degrade your narrator’s sanity until ordinary events assume profound weight and drama. Enter the story quickly like a punk rock song. Establish your authority by keeping every detail specific. Keep your secondary characters vague-make them serve their purpose and make their exit. Build to the absurd, quickly, and get out fast. -Writing prompt from Chuck Palahniuk.

The story:

The sixth hit of acid punches more intensely than the five before. I remember placing it in my mouth, bittersweet tang mixed with the taste of chlorine after it has sat out for several days. Is this shit mixed with something? I wondered. The half dozenth hit rests against my tongue, soaking in saliva, as my hand pulls away. Is this my hand, or is someone dosing me, plying me with drugs to reach some nefarious end?

Fuck it, I think. At least I’ve got entertainment. My wall, usually stippled and off-white stucco, becomes a movie screen, The Big Lebowski playing where a blank canvas normally lives. The Dude is drinking a white Russian. The Dude always drinks white Russians, and it puts me at ease as I shrink into the warm embrace of my easy chair. The padded arms provide support as I sink into the crease where the back cushion meets the seat.

Shut the fuck up, Donny! No, wait, Donny’s dead. Shit. I watch as The Dude and Walter tip over the coffee can. A fucking coffee can, Jesus Christ. What an end. A god damn roasted human coffee bean ground up and tossed to the wind. The breeze turns and carries Donny across my face and into my already dry mouth. His acrid taste sticks in the back of my throat, making me sputter and choke.

My roommate appears to my right, seemingly from nowhere. “You aight, bruh?” he asks.

Frat boy piece of shit. “I’m fine,” I groan in response. It comes out as a throaty warble that would convince no one. I’m still shrinking, ever smaller against the fluffy folds of the chair. I know that this is somehow my roommate’s fault. He gave me bad drugs, that fuck. I try to escape through the dark crevice where the back cushion meets the seat as the roommate’s eyes are carving through my skull.

He knows.

I flick my eyes back to the wall. No more Lebowski, no more Walter, Donny’s still dead. In their place I see the woodchipper scene from Fargo and I know that this is my judgment. There’s a feeling of free-fall, a sickening moment when my stomach starts its ascent into my throat, and then the crease of the chair pulls me in. It has become my death, and I feel the blades of the woodchipper cutting and whirring at my back. Flesh ripped from bone, sinew exposed.

As I explode against the wall behind the chair, a gory sneeze of blood and guts spread evenly in a fine mist, there comes a loud pounding from the front door. My roommate bounds across the room and throws the door violently against the adjacent wall. He pulls out a wad of cash and hands it to a dark man standing in shadows, trading it for a mysterious box. The roommate closes the door and places the box on the seat of my comfy chair. I feel an incredible heat where my legs had been just moments before. From my vantage point as a stain on the wall I see steam begin to rise, and I know that this box is melting through my lap. How is this happening? I wonder. I don’t even have a lap. I’m nothing more than a stain on the wall.

The pizza–ordered decades before, maybe even in another life–is finally here. What the hell am I supposed to do with this?

10ve (a short story)

One of the projects I’ve got on the burner is Singular Sensation, a collection of short stories about life after the advent of a Kurzwellian type technological singularity. One of the stories, “10ve”, follows a married couple and their struggle to honor the marital oath of ’til death do us part now that they live forever as simulated brains, neurons mapped as a series of ones and zeroes in a server cluster. In honor of Valentine’s Day, here’s an excerpt. Please keep in mind that it is still very much a work in progress.

———-

Year 117

I died early this morning.  I’m not quite sure what to think, as it’s affecting me in much the same way the death of any other public figure affects me: a detached sort of longing and a brief pang of sadness that ebbed almost immediately.

I’ve thought about this day for years, always expecting to feel a deep sense of remorse, like something of untold value is now lost and gone forever.  Several of the networks gave moving tributes, and I watched the kind words spoken by strangers in an attempt to stir some long forgotten feeling I’m sure remains hidden in the fringes of my mind.  My emotion code is active but still nothing comes, not even a lump in my throat.

My corporeal form was 159 years old at the time of her death, a near record even in this modern age.  Though brain digitization has existed for over 130 years, progress in medical science still marches on–a stopgap measure to assuage the bitterness felt by the vassals who can’t afford the Upload, and a peace offering to the luddites and their inherent distrust of all things technological.  The skins that remain now live longer and longer, though some choose physical death after Upload, while others choose to remain until their days come to a natural end.  In my past life, I made my name as a fitness guru, and the clean living and hard work gained my skin an extra decade or two beyond the average before she reached the same inevitable demise.

For nearly 120 years I’ve lived as an image, a small but ever growing group of people who choose immortality through technology.  I was 42 years old when I initiated the Upload, my last memory of true flesh being the cold leather and poorly padded arms of the machine that would make me live forever, followed by a flash of white, blinding light and the appearance of the most idyllic view I’d ever seen, a house set into rolling green hills and snow-capped mountains far off in the distance.  It reminded me of a scene from The Sound Of Music.  This marked the beginning of my new life as a series of ones and zeroes, flesh and blood traded for exabytes of data in some far off holocube.

I get up and turn off the wall screen, interrupting the immaculate announcer mid-sentence during yet another eulogy for my recently deceased skin.  Instead of grief and pain, each additional piece of news coverage makes me increasingly annoyed and uneasy, until I can’t stand it for another moment.  In death, only my good deeds are remembered. The problem is that I still carry the memories of my ill acts.  The death of my skin does nothing to atone for past mistakes.

A still silence settles over the room as I look past the window into the woods beyond the terrace.  My husband and I live in a faithful replica of Fallingwater, the famous Frank Lloyd Wright home.  I’ve loved the architecture of Wright since my youth, this home in particular.  My husband completed The Upload seven years before me, and paid an absurd amount of credits to have Fallingwater recreated as a way of convincing me to join him.  It worked, and I joined him without reservation, ready to turn our vows of ’til death do us part into an eternity of marital bliss.

Even as I examine the landscape I feel no joy granted from the scenery, no sense of connection with nature or an overwhelming sense of awe and wonder.  The waterfall and trees–even the blinding sun in the sky–are, like me, nothing more than a complex combination of fired electrons in the ThinkTank, a climate controlled server room located along the equator.  I close my eyes and try to imagine that the heat I feel from this digital sun emanates from Sol, whose angry rays must surely be beating down upon the solar panels dotting the equatorial line, unbroken like a belt around the planet Earth, but the warmth vanishes as soon as I close my eyes.

My eyelids flutter open, bringing me face to face with my own pale reflection, a ghost in the glass floor-to-ceiling window separating me from the virtual wilderness.  Even after more than a century as an image, I’m still sometimes surprised to see the smooth face of my twenty-year-old self looking back in the mirror.  I expect to see the early forties version of myself, as I was on the day I Uploaded, the beginnings of crow’s feet drawn against the corners of my eyes and laugh lines extending parenthetically beside my mouth.  Instead I see a blemish free, perfectly symmetrical reproduction of my youth, long before the world left its mark upon my countenance.  Immediately prior to the Upload, I helped design my image.  Most went with a near-perfect version of their youthful bodies, removing all asymmetry and imperfection.  I was no exception.

There were rules, of course, many of which had been lifted from reality.  Most of the laws of physics still applied to those who lived in the Tank, for instance.  Up was always up, down was always down, the speed of light remained c, and gravity was still 9.8m/s2.  There were, however, some intrinsic differences to account for the immortal nature of the images.  You could leap from the tallest building in the Tank were you so inclined, but upon landing you would find that all your bones remained intact, the ground unbroken, the greatest danger being the moment of panic you may cause among unsuspecting bystanders.  One could stab or shoot oneself, but there would be no pain and the wound would heal immediately.

In earlier iterations of the Tank, upgrades were available for things like magic and flight, but this caused tension among the images.  It turns out living forever isn’t enough, at least not when your neighbor is also immortal and can afford to purchase the ability to fly or shoot lightning.  To reduce envy and discord, these options were discontinued, the current Tank rules were put in place, and the VirtualNet was created to give interested parties an outlet for their more fantastic bouts of fancy.  In the VNet, the laws of physics were mere suggestions, malleable and even nonexistent depending on which server you used.

I know my husband, Trevin, is at work in his office on the top floor of the ThinkTank headquarters overlooking Puget Sound in downtown Seattle.  He grew up in the Pacific Northwest, so instead of situating the recreation of Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, where it existed in reality, he had it built into a secluded hillside near the digital recreation of Redmond, WA.  As my thoughts turn to him, I’m struck with a sense of loneliness and a desire to hear his voice.  I message him.  He answers after one ring, his face appearing on the wall screen in front of me.

“Hello, dear.”

“Hello, Trevin. Do you have a minute?”

“For you?  Always.”  His smile is identical to the day we met.

“I died this morning.”

“I heard.  Are you all right?  Do you need me to come home?”

“No, oddly I’m fine.  I expected to be more . . . sad?  I don’t know,” I say with a sigh.

“Don’t worry about it.  I barely paused when my skin died.  It’s not a big deal, it’s just a copy of you, not actually you,” he says dismissively.

“Aren’t we the copies?” I ask.  “The original, actual me died today, and you don’t even care.  I am just a reproduction.”

“No,” he replies, a hint of annoyance edging through his metered tone, “you are the perfected version.  Even though she was the original, she was imperfect, flawed.  You are the ideal specimen of everything that Cara Thacker had the potential to be.”

“Thanks.  So sweet of you to say,” I say flatly.  I can tell by his expression my sarcasm is lost on him.

“No problem, babe.”  His smile beams.  “I’ll see you tonight when I get home and we can talk about it more if you’d like.  Have to run, time for a meeting.”

With that, he’s gone.  I turn again to look at the rolling hills beyond my window.  I’ve never felt this alone, helpless, and empty.  Not even Trevin stirs in me the emotions I hoped to feel.  For the first time in over a century, I feel nothing but despair and heartache, and know that there is only one solution, one way to find true peace and solitude.

I must find a way to erase an image.

I must find a way to die.

Great Moments in American Business: Truck Nutz

Originally written for and posted on my friend Steven’s blog, Carl Sagan’s Dance Party.

INT. SKYSCRAPER – BOARD ROOM – CLOUDY LATE AFTERNOON

The room is full of executive-types wearing suits. JENKINS stands before them, giving a presentation, artist rendering laid against a whiteboard along the wall. All eyes are on him.

     JENKINS
(nervously)

So, it’s like a ballsack, but for your truck!

Some of the suited men murmur. A few look at each other and slightly nod their heads.

     JENKINS  (CONT’D)
(with more confidence)

I call them ‘Testicars.’ The idea is that you can hang them from the front of your car to intimidate people when they look in the mirror and see you behind them.

SULLY, a man with an immaculately cut suit, stands and looks at Jenkins with narrowed eyes.

     SULLY
(angry, slightly raised voice)

Jenkins, this is a terrible idea, even for you. Worse than the Bike Boobs. No one wants tits on their bike, just like no one wants balls on their car. You’re such a fucking moron.

Jenkins hangs his head, a defeated look on his face. His partner, JEFFRIES, stands and points at Sully.

     JEFFRIES
(loudly)

Now wait just a minute, Sully. As usual, you run your mouth before you know all the facts! These aren’t just some crudely made scrota, these are cast in a mold made from a Brahma bull. Two men died getting the bull’s imprint.

One man in the room gasps. Another laughs and makes a poor attempt to act like it’s a cough.

     JEFFRIES  (CONT’D)
(with pride)

Not only that, but this product performed strongly in several focus groups, particularly among the 24-39 rural male demographic. We think the product will perform well on the market.

Sully looks cross, like he’s been told he’s been signed up to volunteer at a soup kitchen or adopt a stray animal.

     SULLY
(sarcastic)

Yes, I’m sure high school dropouts will be lining up to buy something called ‘Testicars.’ I still say it’s a stupid idea. You could at least give it a better name.

COLLINS interrupts.

     COLLINS
(enthusiastic)

How about ‘Truck Nuts?’ It’s vulgar and also plays up the idea that trucks are masculine.Truck Nutz

     SULLY
(reserved)

That could actually work… But what if we put a ‘Z’ on the end? Makes it more edgy. And they should hang off the back, maybe from the trailer hitch.

Heads nod in agreement. Excited whispers echo across the table. Several of them look toward the head of the table, where THE BOSS sits.

     JEFFRIES
(hopeful)

Well, what do you think, sir?

     THE BOSS
(with vigor)

Billings, give Jenkins and Jeffries a quarter million dollar advance to split for their brilliant idea! Give a million to Sully for being a hardass and giving the product a name that’s not total shit.

Collins opens his mouth as if to protest, but thinks better of it when he notices the glares from half of the men seated around the table.

     THE BOSS  (CONT’D)

Notify the rubber casters in Malaysia that we’ll need an initial run of eighteen million, enough to cover the Dixie states. Those rednecks are gonna go… nuts.

Creation “scientists” once again show their dishonesty

Have you ever heard of the Milgram Experiment? This landmark psychology study is often referenced when discussing how the common person responds to figures of authority, even if that authority is only perceived instead of real.

If you are familiar with this and other experiments like it, you will understand the reason why a group that consistently pedals bullshit might want to put forth an authoritative front, because it will make what they’re saying seem more factual to the average person. That’s exactly what the Discovery Institute has done. One of their recent videos features a biologist sitting in front of a very scientific looking laboratory. I bet they do all kinds of great research in there, like finding the name of god spelled out in DNA, or proving that dinosaurs and humans lived at the same time.

Actually, that’s not true. It’s not even their lab. No, they didn’t rent it out for the day to give their biologist a legitimate looking place to sit while she spewed her tripe. In fact, she’s sitting in front of a green screen.

It’s not like the Discovery Institute would have a need for a laboratory anyway… Turns out there’s no way to scientifically test a fantasy.

Noooooo I missed 12/12/12!

Just kidding. Besides, technically 2/2/22 is a repeating date, just with slashes in different places, and I most certainly plan to live until then.  Doesn’t always work out that way I guess, but the point I’m trying to make is that it’s all arbitrary. As many others pointed out yesterday, you won’t ever experience 12/12/12 again in your life, but 12/13/12 is just as special. Today is a day that has never occurred and will never occur again. While similar things may happen, the details of events that occur today are unlike any other.

Even your hairs were in different places as your brushed your teeth this morning (you did brush your teeth this morning, right?), unseen specks of dust swirled by invisible wind currents landing in unique configurations, flecks of dead skin replaced by new cells. You aren’t the same as you were yesterday, and you will be different tomorrow. This is the only 12/13/12 we’ve got, just like tomorrow will be the only 12/14/12 you’ll ever see.

Enjoy each day for what it is: a day unlike any other, the only one of those particular days you’ll ever have.

Can you feel the Christlove?

Hemant Mehta over at the The Friendly Atheist wrote a post yesterday about an issue close to home.

Horizon Christian Elementary, a private religious school in Tualatin, OR, which is about fifteen minutes from my house, recently told a diabetic 5th grader that she would not be welcome in class with her service dog. Religious schools have no legal compulsion to follow the Americans with Disabilities Act, and as such, this student will now be attending a public school.

Hemant put it succinctly:

The one time Anika needs support from her community the most, the school administrators just run away from her problem. It speaks volumes about their character.

Like many people who claim to follow Jesus, it seems that these people are being guided primarily by the question, “What works best for me?” instead of, “What would Jesus do?”

In other recent news on the religious private school front, a state court in Louisiana just ruled that Bobby Jindal’s pet voucher program is unconstitutional, although the ruling will almost certainly be appealed. Of course, there was an outcry earlier this year when it was made known that voucher funds could also be sent to non-christian religious schools, so anyone that’s been paying attention should already know that this program is a thinly veiled attempt to funnel tax dollars to christian coffers.

On a more personal note, people in my family have recently found my blog. Hi. I didn’t go out of my way to tell any of them about it, but it’s also not exactly like I’ve been hiding in some dark, remote corner of the internet. After all, my site is named I Am Dan Marshall, that’s about as obvious as you can get. I’ll try make things a little easier on you, and give you some links to get started. You can read an email exchange I had with an old theist friend (part 1, part 2), or about why I think many of the core aspects of religion are dangerous to both society and the individual. To the right you will see what is called a tag cloud, which is a way you can view my posts based on the subject. I’ve written over a hundred pages worth of material since I started this site, so feel free to check it out.