I promised by love
Swore on my heart of hearts
While the pigs remain grounded
and hell is still hot

I gave you my bed
For yours alone
And whilst you remain
there is still no other

I gave the smiles
That I smiled unwillingly
I wanted you to feel them
And I pray that you do

When I saw you
My heart contracted, and it was yours
For as long as I can remain on your earth
In your wonderful presence

I gave you my Mind
For it was the only thing left
I wanted you to understand everything
Even while I might have been ignorant

I gave freely
Without Malice
Because I had too
Forced to. Because I wanted to
Oh, bleccch.

This is one of those things that I hate to give any more publicity to, but since the vast majority of people who come here are extremely tech-savvy, my hope is that it will piss a few of you off enough to never use this company's products.

The Linux Journal was lame enough to accept advertising money from a company named QSOL. It's a company that sells server appliances.

So the August issue of the magazine has this ad. A woman's face, partially obscured by ultra-sexy darkness, dominates the copy. The Face (it really reminds me of a sexed-up Zardoz) is a parody of femininity. Her expression is just slightly haughty. Her eyes are heavy-lidded, her porcelain skin Photoshopped to perfection, her lips erotically plump and, in a final nod to cliché, painted a bright red.

OK. So. The ad has thus far done nothing more than almost every single ad (from jeans to makeup to beer to douche) has done: appropriate the power of female sexuality to shill something. Fine; I've pretty much caved to the fact that if I were to boycott every product whose advertising slightly offends my sensibilities I'd never eat or wear clothes again. Anyway, anyone who knows me well knows that my sensibilities are not easily offended. Most of the time I shrug and move on.

But then you get to the delightful copy. The bold text (helpfully and leeringly set just to the side of the model's crimson mouth) reads as follows:

Don't feel bad, Our servers won't go down on you either.

But wait! It doesn't stop there! The fine print includes such gems as:

We've all known disappointment. And few things are more disappointing than undependable, expensive servers that don't satisfy your needs.

And the last line? If your server isn't giving you what you want, visit *our stupid company*. Don't worry, it's a sure thing.

W. T. F?

(I can practically hear the ad copywriters in their meeting: "OK, we need to make her look super slutty! How do we do that?"

*pause; there is a collective glassy-eyed gaze into the middle distance*

One of the guys gets a genius idea! "I know!" he cries. "Let's give her bright red lipstick! Because everyone knows that whores wear red lipstick, and that non-whores who wear red lipstick are total cockteases!"

One of the other guys snickers and chimes in, "Yeah! And you know what would make the copy really awesome? If we made some reference to women servicing men! That would make it clever because you know, servers sounds like services, which is what a woman does when she gives a guy head!"

*murmurs of approval throughout the room*

Another intrepid adman speaks up: "Plus, this ad is aimed at geeks, and it's common knowledge that they're all hard up and emotionally arrested! No one who works with computers ever gets laid, so this ad will not only be funny, the entire tech industry will relate to it and chuckle and buy our client's product!"

*general applause amongst the men and the token woman who thinks that to break the glass ceiling she has to prove she's on board with the other men by drinking the Kool-Aid*)

And you know, I'm too tired right now to go into the myriad ways that this is fucked up and perpetuates sex stereotypes and is demeaning to women and also (hello - did anyone in that ad room even consider this point?) makes geeks look even more pathetic than they're generally portrayed in the media. Besides, the blog where I found this, Feministing, is staffed by graceful, sharp, funny-as-hell writers who put it much more elegantly than I ever could, so I'll just repost most of the comment here. (I think blog rules apply as far as public domain is concerned, and Feministing is an above-average blog. Go there to check out the ad copy and stay for the blog - not to mention the fierce and hysterical comments on this particular thread.):

Not only are women nothing but sexual objects, but the print also implies that, like technology, women also sometimes fail to act "properly." I think that we can all agree that there are certain standards we hold for how we want and expect our computers to behave. Apparently, QSOL has similarly rigid standards for women. The word "won't" in the sentence "won't go down on you" implies that, for some reason, the woman should go down on you.

Of course, the ad isn't simply offensive to the broad (pun not intended) demographic of women; it's also directly insulting its audience. It plays off of a stereotype that everyone knows-- haha, guys who like computers are nerds, and nerds don't get any sex-- and yet whoever wrote it somehow forgot that it's a negative stereotype about the company's own customers. Making an even bigger mess, the ad is excruciatingly heterosexist with its "wink wink, you know what we mean, guys" attitude. Who, after all, decided that "nerds" are always straight? That's not even mentioning how the ad completely ignores the fact that-- horror!-- some women like computers, too. Yes, I do think that the technology-savvy crowd is probably a mostly straight male demographic, but does that give a company the right to completely erase the existence of its other customers? Since they obviously didn't care much about how their male customers felt, did QSOL ever consider what its female customers might think about the company's apparent view of them? I'm betting not.

Lastly, as all clever sexist advertising does, QSOL assumes that its customers are "in" on the joke. It doesn't entertain the possibility that maybe, just maybe, all men aren't assholes who spend every available moment running around trying to find random women to give them blow jobs. As a result, the ad acts not only as an example of sexism, it also encourages, normalizes and perpetuates the sexist hierarchy. Hey, it's all fun and games, just a joke, lighten up -- and it's just us guys talking here, anyway.

That sums it up.

If the job of advertising is solely to get attention, I think this one did a fine job. But it makes me really, really sad.

I'm reposting the blog comment here because I think that the overlap for most tech people (women and men who are interested in women's issues not included in that lump) and the readership of Feministing is likely kind of small. Nearly every man I've met through this website works in the tech sector, and the vast majority of those men are evolved enough to see that this ad is truly, irremediably offensive. For all their boob jokes, for all their locker room banter, they honestly like and respect women.

And this is some really hateful stuff.

And sadly, I am in no position to boycott anything this company provides, because the typing I'm doing right now is as close to the tech industry as I'll probably ever get. (I don't actually know what a "server appliance" is.) But some of you here - women as well as men - are geeks, and a subset of you might one day be in a position to tell QSOL to go fellate themselves.

Unless, of course, you appreciate the twin concepts of women as aloof sex objects and men - specifically men who work in the tech sector - as misogynists who can't get laid anyway.

So, though it pains me to even mention the name of the damn company, my fondest hope is that at least one of you techs out there will be in the position to boycott the entire company in toto and perpetuity. I suppose I'll write a letter to Linux Quarterly as well as to QSOL headquarters after I've managed to get past the self-righteous outrage and settled on just plain outrage, but the truth is that nothing I say or do has any real impact. Money talks, so I'm mute here.

God damn it. I hate getting riled up by ads, and I really am not a humorless woman. And to tell you the god's honest truth, I'm probably part of the problem; I subscribe to more cotton-candy chick magazines than I care to admit, and they are certainly guilty of perpetuating the stereotype of women as willing - but not too willing! - sluts. They accept crappy sexist ads all the time. I'm cognizant of the fact that subscribing to those sorts of rags doesn't contribute to enhanced communication between the sexes. I should probably read stuff that's more edifying and less fluffy. (I choose to believe that my poor choice of reading material makes me a flawed and complex feminist rather than a hypocritical feminist. Ahem.) But most advertising - as despicable as much of it is - doesn't stoop to this level.

It takes an awful lot to truly offend me, particularly along these lines. And it really makes me mad to have to step into the whole pitiful, apologetic "I'm a feminist but I still have a sense of humor" pile of dogshit, as though feminists have be devoid of levity to carry a certain set of core values. But this one was really beyond the pale.


Happy addendum!

According to the blog Valleywag, the self-proclaimed "tech gossip rag",

This ad is completely unoriginal. Linux Journal ran an almost identical ad seven years ago, in its November 2000 issue. And the 1.0 version stirred up just as much controversy -- so much that the magazine apologized for and promised to pull from any future editions of the magazine. Promises, promises.

Obviously QSol ran the ad to titillate and shock, and get talked about -- and from that perspective, the company has succeeded. But then there's the quality of the ad itself. Leave aside the broken promises, and the ad's tiresome execution. Why would you want to buy servers from a company that clearly hasn't had a new idea in seven years?

This news makes me hate Linux Journal as much as the stupid company. No, wait - it makes me hate Linux Journal more than I hate the company. I'm willing to bet that QSOL didn't pay The Zardoz Face for the second run of the ad, either - the company appears to be run by people of that sort of sterling character. And I won't waste any more time or outrage on this shit, so no strongly worded letters are going anywhere.

H.L. Mencken was right - nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public. But it's good to know that we're all being manipulated so skillfully!

Even better to know how much has(n't) changed over the last seven years.

Columbus,

I woke up early on Friday (early for me is about 3:50 pm), got in the vehicle and drove to Ohio. karma debt throwing a small shindig at her place, just four or five of us. I figured that for once in my life I might have had the money (I'm such a liar because I'm always broke, always bitching about it too, I hate money), and the time to make it down there, so I got in my wife’s shinny silver car and drove my lazy arse down to Ohio.

When I got there things were just warming up, and I was almost immediately drafted into the guitar hero army up in Elizabeth's room. Downstairs I already managed to miss this great conversation about bears; somebody has to explain that one to me at some point. So we drank, we ate amazing food, some of which the dogs later claimed for their own, we made merry, we slept (some of us anyway), and we laid down by the fire for a bit. I ended the night out by the fire with Greth, drinking the bottle of wine that karma debt gave me

Morning came early for me and I helped clean up while I picked karma debt's brain and had a nice little chat with her son about nightmares, as apparently he had one just before he came to see me. I find it very flattering that in his moment of fear and doubt he came to talk to me of all people, that’s a good feeling. Of course I was up and handy, long before anybody else, so that's probably it.

We (karma debt and I) took greth home and stopped for ice cream on the way back, we walked, talked we ate ice cream. We walked around Columbus’ north side city market taking in the sights, sounds, and most importantly the smells. Teas, meats, and all sort of people, people, and people. The midmorning sun caught in her eyes as we talked about a old client of her's rehiring her for some good paying work. Then she let me drive the Lexus back to her house, nice car, and a hell of a nice drive. Thanks for reminding me how much I love to drive.

We got back to the house; ccunning was out of the shower so out to the driveway we went for my first Motorcycle riding lesson. We got me dressed in the proper equipment, discussed controls, went over them several times and then I tried some duck walking. I graduated quickly from that to tolling around the very nice little neighborhood that they live in at about 10-15 mph just enjoying first and second gear >:-> (And hey I only stalled the bike out a couple of times)

After this it was time to begin the journey home, after much hemming and hawing and several minutes of avoidance behavior I finally let her help me get all packed up and get on my way. The drive home was more of an exercise in highway texting then actually driving. Proof like no other that there are at a few people in my life who don't seem to get tired of me too quick. So after the longest text conversation of my life the phone finally dies and I spend a hurried few moments preparing for my other trip this weekend.

Detroit

Piled my friends and myself into my buddy Matt’s car and proceeded to pick up Mr. mordel's sister and make our little drive to Detroit happen. So to D-Town we rode and when we got there we made our way to a lovely little brewery called Rochester Mills. Lovely place really, great food, nice pool tables, great beer, too bad I was too tired and tense to really enjoy it. I probably should have tried to sleep in a little longer or something, or maybe even take the opportunity on the car ride to Detroit to take a nap. I very rarely get the chance to talk to Emily these days and could hardly pass it up.

I ate the Szechuan Pasta and Chicken that I ordered. Had a very very nice red beer, and also some very tasty hard cider. I also learned on our way out that I needed to slow down because I was a speed demon, or was that somebody else? Anyhow, we went back the apartment and watched murderface play his bass guitar in his singular fashion. I sleep for a while only to wake to an angry text message from my wife wondering why I wasn't already home.

So my response was to steal my friends car and make a very annoyingly complicated drive home and put the wife and my son both back to bed. I cleaned, I washed laundry, I did dishes, and around noon I finally woke my wife up again and we spent some time together. I finished out my Sunday by heading off for work.

Thats all you get :-)

Hope you liked it!

This week is Fire Prevention Week in the United States, so in honor of that, I present a story from my days as a volunteer firefighter.

Ever since I can remember, members of my family have been involved with the local volunteer fire department, either as the fire chief, a firefighter, or fire police. I can remember the times when I would hear the fire trucks and be off on my bike, in search of what they were responding to. Upon arrival, though, I was usually chased back home by a family member, as the scene was not a place for me, but it would be eventually.

On my sixteenth birthday, I turned in my membership application to the fire department and was accepted as a junior firefighter. According to Pennsylvania child labor laws, I was restricted to certain activities and could only respond to emergency calls at specific hours. The department held training every week which I attended, and began down a path to helping out my community. Since I was a junior and still relatively new, there were only certain things I could do while on scene at an incident. Usually I took care of getting items needed or assisting other firefighters with things.

Our department was invited to parades, which we attended with at least one or two trucks. The first parade I attended I found that I did not have any black shoes, but I did have my old white sneakers. Someone produced a can of black paint, and ten minutes later I had some black shoes. Parades were always fun to attend, as you get to meet other departments and perhaps see some old friends. It was a nice change from the normal emergency responses I was accustomed to.

Over the course of the 5 years I ran with the department, I had been on numerous calls, just doing my part to give back to the community. I had seen a lot of things, perhaps more than I care to. One call stands out in my mind, as I received an award for saving a life. The call was an automobile accident with someone trapped. I was part of the crew that opened the door with our hydraulic rescue tool to allow medical personnel access to the patients and get them to the hospital quickly. I never really volunteered for the glory, but it was nice to be recognized, and felt good knowing I had helped out a fellow human being.

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