#WLAMF no. 19: Kinky sex

A while back, I was participating in a conversation about sex, and the subject of kink came up. A guy was saying his girlfriend had approached him with the idea of some sort of non-specific kink, and he was reluctant to engage in it for fear that “nice guys” don’t do that sort of thing with their partners. What, he wondered, would it be like if the sexes were reversed? A guy who asked his girlfriend for kinky sex was clearly not a nice guy; nice guys would never do such a thing! So why should it be okay for a woman to ask her boyfriend for kink? Didn’t it show a double standard–women can do something bad but guys aren’t allowed to? Someone else said that he shouldn’t be a nice guy, because women don’t want nice guys–nice guys, he explained, are emasculated, and women actually want strong, alpha guys, guys who will control them.

And listening to it, I felt despair.

I’ve always been suspicious of framing things in terms of “nice guy” vs. “bad boy;” I think, to be blunt, it’s childish and stupid. Modern social expectations do not “emasculate” men, being a “soft male,” or “losing your center.” That’s a load of rubbish. Modern social expectations are about treating women as human beings rather than need-fulfillment machines. That’s it. You don’t have to be “emasculated” or any of that other silly stuff to do that. You simply have to look at women as full human beings, deserving the same levels of respect and consideration you’d give any other person.

At the end of the day, it’s about consent, not disempowerment. It’s messed up to see relationships in terms of who’s empowered and who’s disempowered; in a good relationship, it’s possible for two (or more!) people to all be empowered.

Likewise, being a “nice guy” or treating women with “respect” does not mean holding doors open, always being soft and gentle, or always having sex in candlelight on a bed strewn with roses. REAL respect, as I’ve said many thousands of times, means talking to women about what THEY want, and then treating them the way they want to be treated.

Are you seeing the Matrix yet?

The “nice guy” who refuses to try anything kinky because he thinks it’s disrespectful isn’t really a nice guy. He’s not listening to his partner, because he knows what’s best for her.

And the “bad guy” who talks to his lover about what she wants, talks about what he wants, and then works with his lover to explore their mutual fantasies together? He isn’t really a bad guy…even if those fantasies involve kinky sex.

It seems to me the world might be a happier place if we all stop trying to figure out the rules about how to treat women “properly,” and instead just talk to women like human beings and treat each individual the way she wants to be treated. A lot of men say they just don’t understand women. A lot of women say they don’t understand men. I respectfully submit that perhaps, if we listen to each other, that might change.


I’m writing one blog post for every contribution to our crowdfunding we receive between now and the end of the campaign. Help support indie publishing! We’re publishing five new books on polyamory in 2015: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/thorntree-press-three-new-polyamory-books-in-2015/x/1603977

#WLAMF no. 16: Lego brains

The brain is a fiendishly complicated thing. Not so much because all its constituent parts are complicated (though they can be), but because it’s a network of billions of components wired together with trillions of connections. Well, at least your brain is.

There are other brains that are a lot simpler. When I was taking classes in neurobiology, back in my misspent college days, we used to talk a lot about the species of worm called C. elegans.

Back then, researchers were just beginning to map its brain. The brains of C. elegans are isomorphic, meaning they’re all the same. (That’s not true of more sophisticated animals; our brains grow organically, with neurons wiring up to other neurons in a dynamic process that means even identical twins don’t have the same brains.) They’re small (about 300 neurons, and around 7,000 connections.) They’re easy to understand, at least for folks who find neurobiology “easy.”

And now they’ve been replicated in a Lego scooter that, well…behaves a lot like C. elegans without being explicitly programmed to. The robot has no pre-programmed behaviors; it acts like a roundworm because, in a sense, it has the brain of a roundworm.

And I think that’s really cool.


I’m writing one blog post for every contribution to our crowdfunding we receive between now and the end of the campaign. Help support indie publishing! We’re publishing five new books on polyamory in 2015: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/thorntree-press-three-new-polyamory-books-in-2015/x/1603977

#WLAMF no. 15: “Government should fear the people”

When I was living in Atlanta, I used to see a bumper sticker all over the place: “People shouldn’t fear the government, the government should fear the people.”

This sentiment is quite popular in conservative parts of the US, and it or variations on it (such as “When government fears the people, there is liberty; when the people fear the government, there is tyranny”) are often attributed to Thomas Jefferson. Wrongly, as it turns out–Jefferson never said this.

Now, on some level, there’s a grain of truth here, in the sense that a government ideally represents the will of the people and should be held accountable to them. To some extent, anyway. In some cases, the will of the people is a deeply troublesome and evil thing; the will of the people in the pre-Civil-War Deep South, for instance, held that some people aren’t people at all but rather property, and that’s a will I don’t think a civil society should respect.

But what it misses is that when the government fears the people, the result is tyranny, just as surely as when the people fear the government.

Governments have power. They have police forces and jails. They have standing armies. A person with a gun and a heart full of fear is a dangerous person indeed.

Why do tyrannies exist? They exist because people in power fear losing that power. They fear what happens if the people express their will. Tyrannical governments restrict what they fear. They restrict speech because they fear the power of speech. They restrict demonstrations because they fear the power of demonstrations. A government that fears the people, attacks the people. It handles that fear through force and control. When it sees something it fears, it acts ruthlessly to eliminate it. When a government fears the people, the people become the enemies of the state.

The same holds true for civilian police. A police force that fears the people, treats the people as threats. It shoots the people, even if they’re unarmed. It labels the people “thugs” and “looters.”

The idea that the government should fear the people creates–in fact, it can not help but to create–totalitarianism. The greater the fear, the greater the response to it. A government that sees the enemy around every corner, treats every person as an enemy.

“People shouldn’t fear the government, the government should fear the people.” This idea is a blueprint for evil.

People are people. Governments are made of people. I would like to propose a different bumper sticker: “The government and the people should hold one another accountable. Let them treat one another with respect, so that we may have a civilized society in which all are respected.”


I’m writing one blog post for every contribution to our crowdfunding we receive between now and the end of the campaign. Help support indie publishing! We’re publishing five new books on polyamory in 2015: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/thorntree-press-three-new-polyamory-books-in-2015/x/1603977

#WLAMF no. 10: Sex toy review: Tenga 3D

It came to pass a while ago that I had some Amazon store credit built up, and I told Eve about it. She went looking through the less respectable corners of the Amazon virtual storefront, whereupon she came across the Tenga 3D Sleeve Spiral for Male Masturbation and said “hey, you should totally get this!”

Now, I’m generally fairly adventurous–I backed a crowdfunding campaign for a blowjob robot, after all–yet I’ve never used anything like this before. So I said hey, sure, why not? And some time later, through the magic of electronic commerce, there it was in the mail.

I brought it with me the next time I visited her, where it sat in the sex toy case (because of course there’s a sex toy case) unused.

This is what it looks like in its case, all futuristic and funky and spirally and stuff.

Shortly after the book More Than Two was finished, Eve and I found ourselves in the Deep South, talking polyamory to folks in North Carolina. We stayed at a remote cabin deep in the woods, because remote cabins deep in the woods have figured prominently in our story together almost since the beginning, where it came to pass that we were making out and getting ready to get jiggy with it.

And then, out of the blue, she starts wrapping rope around me.

Now, normally I’m more the tie-er than the tie-ee, if you will, so this came as a surprise to both of us. But before long I was lashed down helpless, and she was digging through the sex toy case, and she found the Tenga. “Hmm,” she said, “I wonder how this works?”

So what you see when you look at it in its case is actually the inside. You turn it inside-out to use it, which makes it look rather less futuristic and funky and spirally and stuff.

The funky spiral bit is actually the bit that goes against your bits, if you catch my drift.

So she squirted some lube in it and crawled over to me, a gleam in her eye and high-tech, advanced-materials-science silicone in her hand. I, of course, didn’t do anything, being tied quite securely to the bed with a very limited range of things I could do. Other than scream, that is, which apparently I did a lot of. Or so I’m told. I’m not really sure; that’s not what I was paying attention to.

So the whole point of a male masturbator is, as near as I can tell, to put something twixt you and your hand (or your partner’s hand) for the purpose of either better simulating the feeling of a human vagina or changing up the sensation, depending on the deign objective of the object in question. The Tenga toys generally seem to dispense with trying to simulate actual intercourse in favor of creating a host of new and pleasant but distinctly non-human-vagina-like sensations, and this they do splendidly well.

Bottom line: This thing feels really good. It’s very soft but also interestingly textured, it conducts heat well, and it does precisely what it says on the tin.

I don’t actually remember making quite as much noise as Eve says I made, because I was too busy having a mind-blowing orgasm to pay attention to trifles like my own vocalizations. I have no reason to doubt her reports, however. She thought the whole thing was great fun. I thought the state of the art in human pleasure took, thanks to the careful application of materials science to the problem of inducing orgasm, yet another step forward. God bless science.


I’m writing one blog post for every contribution to our crowdfunding we receive between now and the end of the campaign. Help support indie publishing! We’re publishing five new books on polyamory in 2015: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/thorntree-press-three-new-polyamory-books-in-2015/x/1603977

#WLAMF no. 9: Fusion

A lot of the world’s social, economic, and resource problems are, when you come down to it, power problems. I don’t mean political power; I mean energy. Electricity.

Take fresh water, for instance. Three-quarters of the planet’s surface is covered by the stuff, yet much of the world doesn’t have reliable access to safe, clean water. 780 million people don’t have regular access to clean water. Nearly four million people die a year from water-bourne illness.

If we had unlimited quantities of cheap, clean energy, water would stop being a problem overnight. It’s easy to desalinate seawater…easy, but not cheap. The process requires enormous inputs of energy, and energy is expensive.

The holy grail of energy is, and has always been, fusion power. Fusion power offers vast quantities of energy from seawater…if we can make it work. And we’ve been chasing it for a while, though never with any serious determination; the world’s annual budget for fusion research is about 1/18th the annual revenue of the National Football League. (In the US, the annual budget for fusion research is less than what the Government Accountability Office spends on paperwork.) Fusion power promises one-stop shopping for reversing global carbon emissions, improving access to fresh water all over the world, raising the standard of living for developing nations, moving toward non-polluting transportation…

…if we can make it work.

It’s been a long road. A lot of engineers thought we’d have the problem licked by the mid-1960s. Here we are in 2014, and it’s only been in the last two years that teams at MIT and Lawrence Livermore have actually made fusion reactors that produce net positive energy…for short periods of time. It’s a very, very difficult nut to crack.

Enter Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin recently announced that their Skunkworks team has been quietly, and secretly, working on fusion power for a while. And they claim to be within 5 years of an operating prototype of a compact fusion reactor.

Now, I am of two minds about this.

Pros:

– It’s the fucking Lockheed Martin fucking Skunkworks. These are not a bunch of cranks, kooks, or pie-in-the-sky dreamers. These guys built the SR-71 in the early 1960s, and the F-117 Stealth fighter back when the Radio Shack TRS-80 was the state of the art for personal computers.
– Lockheed doesn’t seem the kind of company to stake their reputation on a claim unless they’re really, really sure.
– They’re exploring deuterium-tritium fusion, which is a lot easier than ordinary hydrogen-hydrogen fusion of the sort that happens in the sun.
– Did I mention it’s the fucking Lockheed Martin fucking Skunkworks? They have money, engineering expertise, and problem-solving experience by the metric ton. They are accustomed to solving hard engineering problems 20 years before anyone else in the world even knows they can be solved.

Cons:

– Fusion is hard. The pursuit of fusion has left a lot of broken dreams in its wake.
– The design they propose encloses a set of superconducting magnets inside the fusion chamber. That’s clever, and solves a lot of problems with magnetic containment, but superconducting magnets are fragile things and the inside of a fusion chamber is as close as we can get to hell on earth.
– Fusion creates fast neutrons. Those fast neutrons tend to run into stuff and knock it all out of whack. Solving the problem of the reactor vessel degrading under intense neutron flux is non-trivial; in fact, that’s one of the key objectives of the multibillion-dollar International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor being built by a consortium of countries in France.

Fusion power, if we can make it work, would likely (and without hyperbole) be one of the most significant achievements of the human race. It could and very likely would have farther-reaching impacts than the development of agriculture or the invention of iron, and would improve the standard of living for billions of people to a greater extent than any other single invention.

For that reason alone, I think it’s worth pursuing. I’d like to see it better funded…say, maybe even on the same scale as the NFL. I’m not sure of Lockheed can deliver what they’re promising, but I am very, very happy they’re in the race.


I’m writing one blog post for every contribution to our crowdfunding we receive between now and the end of the campaign. Help support indie publishing! We’re publishing five new books on polyamory in 2015: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/thorntree-press-three-new-polyamory-books-in-2015/x/1603977

#WLAMF no. 6: Stonepeckers

During our travels around the country talking to folks about polyamory, Eve and I passed through Colorado. We spent a night at Colorado National Monument, sleeping in the back of the van at a weird angle that made us keep rolling into each other.

Colorado National Monument is awesome in the “nature is grand on a scale beyond mere human endeavor” sense, rather than a “this architecture is grand because it’s designed to manipulate you” sense. It’s filled with towers of stone that look like something right out of an old Roadrunner cartoon, separated from each other by deep canyons that could comfortably swallow a blue whale and a dozen tour buses and you’d never even notice.

Some of those towers of stone are pockmarked with great holes that resemble nothing so much as the holes made in telephone poles by optimistic woodpeckers.

I asked a park ranger1 about the holes. That’s when I first learned of the great stonepeckers.

The similarity to woodpecker holes is no coincidence, for they’re formed by similar processes. During the dry season, giant stonepeckers, with huge talons and beaks like carved diamond, land on the buttes and chip away at the stone, seeking the rock burrowers that live within. They look a bit like woodpeckers, but on a far grander scale. Their iron-feathered wings can stretch more than thirty feet, and when they peck at the cliff face, the sound travels for miles.

They’re not related to woodpeckers at all, I learned. Their similarities are purely a matter of convergent dimorphism; form follows function. The stonepeckers are actually not birds at all; they’re related to wyverns, dragons, and thunder lizards. You can tell not only by their size, but by the morphology of their talons and their skeletal structure, particularly around the hip.

The sky was once full of them, tens of thousands of years ago. We see evidence in the fossil record–not only of stonepecker bones but of their great nests of pine trees, lined with flint. Drying climate reduced their numbers; today, only a handful of stonepeckers remains. They are carefully managed by the Parks and Recreation Service, that uses specially modified Apache attack helicopters to keep them from straying too close to people.

1 By which I mean I thought about asking a park ranger, then decided to run with my own story instead because it was probably more interesting.


I’m writing one blog post for every contribution to our crowdfunding we receive between now and the end of the campaign. Help support indie publishing! We’re publishing five new books on polyamory in 2015: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/thorntree-press-three-new-polyamory-books-in-2015/x/1603977

b#WLAMF no. 5: Awe

As I mentioned in WLAMF no. 4, Eve and I visited Salt Lake City on our book tour. The tour feels like it happened years ago, even though it ended, what, last month or something? Time does funny things when you upend your life and start down an entirely new path.

Anyway, while we were there, we visited the Mormon temple, because hey! polyamory authors wearing cute animal ears in Salt Lake City! What else would we do, right?

We were kept under the watchful eye of security the entire time, but they were polite about it and let us take pictures.

The Mormon temple is awesome. And I mean that in the literal, old-fashioned sense of the word, not in the modern, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure sense of the word. It is a structure designed and built with the intention of evoking a sense of awe. It is emotion in architecture, every aspect carefully crafted to manipulate the emotions of those who see it.

It’s a bit ironic, really, that human beings can design and build a structure whose design is intended to make other human beings believe they are part of something greater than humanity.

I have always harbored a deep distrust of houses of worship built on such a grandiose scale. The walls of the temple are covered with huge squares of marble, the cost of each one of which would probably feed a dozen needy families for six months. The grounds are that specific kind of lovely that you can only get through hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of gardening, all carefully watered every day in this, a place in the center of the desert.

Folks like to talk about Madison Avenue, the epicenter of modern marketing and advertising, as a cynical and soulless machine of mass manipulation. And yet, and yet, I’ve never met an advertiser whose talent can compare in even the feeblest way to that of the architect of religious edifices. This structure is manipulation, every line and every ornament tasked to the goal of making you feel something when you see it. A lot of this building is, in a utilitarian sense, wasted space; it is designed to an end other than efficiency.

Sure is pretty, though, isn’t it?


I’m writing one blog post for every contribution to our crowdfunding we receive between now and the end of the campaign. Help support indie publishing! We’re publishing five new books on polyamory in 2015: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/thorntree-press-three-new-polyamory-books-in-2015/x/1603977

#WLAMF no. 2: The Interview

This morning, I woke up from a really vivid dream in which I was a magazine reporter doing an interview. I was interviewing the Shambling Horror from the Cursed Moor for a human-interest story, as one does. It was a long and quite vivid dream, that stuck with me while I was making tea.

As I recall, the dream went something like this:

Me: What’s the best part of your job?

Shambling Horror: You might think it’s opening demonic portals into the Void, or tearing the souls of the damned from their bodies, but those are really just the day-in, day-out stuff. The thing I really live for is that kid. You know, the one who gets it into his head that he’s going to go out on the first full moon of the year and see if all the stories about the ancient ruins are true.

He usually comes right up to the front door. You know, right down the Cursed Stairway to the Portal of Horror. And he’s all like “Hey, Cory, where are you? Cory, is that you? Where are you, Cory?” He doesn’t know his friend Cory chickened out at the last minute and is home with his mom sipping hot chocolate.

So this kid is all like “Cory, is that you?” and I step out of the shadows with all my tentacles writing and say “Yes, it is.” And then he goes high-tailing it back home…man, kids can run like gazelles!

Me: You don’t, like, devour his flesh or anything?

Shambling Horror: What do you think I am, a monster?

Me: Isn’t that a terrible thing to do?

Shambling Horror: Naah. That kid, the one who came out when his friend Cory stayed home? That kid is going to grow up to be an adventurer. He’s the kid who’s going to rescue damsels and slay dragons. You know why? Because he’s going to remember how scared he was, and that he still made it home alive, and that memory is going to stick with him. It’s going to remind him that no matter how scared he is, he can still do what he wants. That kid is going to be awesome! The Corys of the world are going to grow up to be accountants.

Me: So what about the grownups who visit the ruins on the moor?

Shambling Horror: Well, every now and then some damn fool gets it in his head he’s going to cleanse the world of an ancient evil or drive off the demonic host, and those guys come knocking on my door with a bunch of clerics and holy water and blessed swords or something. I can’t let that happen. So I have to deal with them, you know?

Me: Do you eat them?

Shambling Horror: What? No! Humans are filthy animals. Who knows what kind of diseases you carry. Ew! I’m not going to eat a human. Yuck!

Me: So what do you eat?

Shambling Horror: I have a lovely collection of artisanal cheeses in the basement. Cured on oak, not on metal shelves. I don’t care what anyone says, you can taste the difference. Some crackers, a nice wine…now that’s heaven. Or so I’ve heard. I wouldn’t know.

Yes, I have to live inside this head.


I’m writing one blog post for every contribution to our crowdfunding we receive between now and the end of the campaign. Help support indie publishing! We’re publishing five new books on polyamory in 2015: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/thorntree-press-three-new-polyamory-books-in-2015/x/1603977

#WLAMF no. 1: Dance, my puppet! Dance!

We have twelve hours to go on the crowdfunding for the 2015 polyamory book lineup from Thorntree Press. And so, I’m doing something insane. For the next twelve hours, every time someone contributes, I’m going to write a blog post, either here or on the More Than Two blog.

Yep, that’s right. I’m going to be glued to my computer for twelve hours. I have my tea in my “Write Like a Motherfucker” mug, I have my cat, and I am ready! If we get 30 contributions, I’ll write 30 blog posts today. If we get 40, I’ll write 40. You get the idea.

I’ll be Tweeting links to the posts with the hashtag #WLAMF. So if you want to make me dance, just contribute! You’ll be supporting indie publishing of quality polyamory books and making me perform at the same time!