Sexy Media Monday (Again)

I don’t know why Monday is sex day; it just seems to work out that way. Maybe we all need a little titillation to get us through the first day back at work (although personally, my Mondays are already a fantastic kind of exciting, as you may know).

Google TechTalks on YouTube has a fantastic recording of Violet Blue’s talk about sex on the internet, the realities of porn, sexual privacy, and a myriad of other issues that are super important to understand—and talk about! It’s down-to-earth, entertaining to listen to (plus, her slides are awesome), safe for work if your employer isn’t offended by intelligent discussion of sexuality on the ‘net, and full of really interesting (and wonderful, and sometimes horrifying) information.

Also, cute bits like this: “The internet is growing new users every single day, and will continue,” she says, wielding one finger in feigned accusation, “until you all stop breeding.” (I think that’s at around 18:20 in—adorable!)


Sexy Media Monday

As you might suspect, I have sex on the brain. (If you didn’t suspect it, I don’t know how else I might have warned you. Sorry!) Having just read that part, you may also suspect that most of the links in this post might be less than work-safe, unless you work somewhere extra awesome. (If you suspect that, you’d be right.) Click carefully! ;}

Anyway, so many neat things have been happening. Far be it from me to keep them from you! I mean, you deserve to know. You must not be left in the dark! This is my sacred duty, dude. Or something. Where do I start??

Sexy-scary photo fun from Violet’s Flickrstream
Violet Blue has started a digital publishing company: the fabulous and appropriately named digita publications. Since launch, digitapub has released two awesome offerings: Pleasure Zone Basics (open source sex ed, in nine parts), and an ebook called How to Kiss. Both are completely DRM-free, and the ebook is available in several different incredibly useful formats. I haven’t been all the way through the audiobook yet, but I blew through How to Kiss in an afternoon. It’s gorgeously written and full of really excellent information. (Also? She talks about the Zombie Kiss, for which I can never truly repay her. SO very awesome.) If you are at all interested in accurate, enjoyable, easy-to-parse sex information, Violet is definitely your gal—and the prices she’s set are pretty thoroughly fabulous. Plus, since I started writing this post there’s another great halloween-specific release, and it looks fantastic. Go take a look!

In addition to all of that, I also had a great time reading her initial tinynibbles post about Digita Publications, because she has a lot to say about why she went in this direction after being traditionally published for many years, why she chose the anti-DRM route and how she hopped over some minor obstacles (cough, iTunes) along the way. Extremely excellent.

Yes, there’s more. Kiki started a new sexblog and it is awesome. She writes really well and if her first three are any indication of future posts, I am expecting super fun content. If you like sex-writing and related material, you might even enjoy it as much as I do!

So you can see how the sex-centered part of Megan’s brain is just doing backflips lately.

You also won’t be surprised to find out that my situation got worse (better!) when Apple posted this fantastic high-res tour of their new OS. Because, you know, me and sexy technology…

Two words: Time Machine. Whew!!

Update: I have been informed that any energy spent drooling over Time Machine is a result of the graphics, not the functionality. Apparently the functionality has been around for awhile—but dude, the combination is luscious!

And I almost forgot: In alarming proximity to the moment I started searching for sexy halloween movies to watch this week, Violet’s most recent SFGate article went live: Bring on the lesbian vampires. It just doesn’t get better than that. (And it’s a hell of a list!)

Changes of Heart

I’ll let Jerry speak for himself:

Link (via &).

For the Soul

I’m going to start this with a disclaimer: I adore the Colbert Report. I pretty much adore everything Stephen Colbert does, and on top of that, I eat his ice cream. (Read: I’m a fan.) But today I have some things to say about a segment he ran that touched a few nerves. That said, it’s only comedy, and I’m not offended by it. But I still wanted to say my piece. :}

Last night the Colbert Report ran a segment on an exotic dance studio in New Jersey. The focus was pole dancing. When the segment started, I got all excited. More neat pole dancing stuff! You see, I get all my pole dancing information from a net friend on the west coast. She started Seattle’s first ever pole dancing school, and I’ve really enjoyed hearing about it over the last few years—so my excitement was utterly justifiable!

As the segment played, I started to get a sour feeling in my stomach. Oh, I expected the clip to be laughy—we’re talking about Comedy Central, after all. But I don’t think I expected the angle to be so… dissatisfying. My exposure to my friend’s school is strictly text-based, and I’ve never taken a class, or even visited the school. But it’s funny how plain text can make such an impression.

Here’s the segment on Comedy Central’s site, if you want to take a look.

After watching the whole thing, I felt as if the Colbert Report had really managed to misrepresent pole dancing instruction, and the very quality of the concept. Hell, I don’t care that they did it. It’s fake news. But I’ll be damned if I’m not going to set the record straight, and give you a chance to see what’s really going on. I don’t know anything about Johnna Mink or her Jersey workshops—they may have been misrepresented too, for all I know. But I do know about this other thing, whether anything else comes up to its standards or not. And it’s really worth saying something about.

It’s called Pole for the Soul.

I haven’t known Krisha well or long, in the scheme of things, but she’s said a great deal about her business, over time, and why she started it. What I’ve learned from her particular perspective on pole dancing instruction has really been nothing short of inspiring. For Krisha, it seems there is breadth and depth to the way she makes her living. It’s something that feels missing from the workshops Colbert covered in Jersey. And I think it’s something that’s missing in a lot of people’s lives, all over, everywhere.

It doesn’t seem to me that what Krisha teaches is about putting on a show, or your partner getting a private treat, or even being able to nudge yourself into that shallow stripper stereotype that so many people seem to like so much… for so many of the wrong reasons. It’s not so much about getting to finally be the sex object. It doesn’t even have to be about sex.

It seems to me that Pole for the Soul might be about something really different. The impression I’ve gotten… is that it’s about you.

It’s about becoming powerful. It’s about building yourself into the person you want to be; it’s about shedding those old stereotypes and preconceptions. It’s about taking the layers and layers of buffering we have wrapped around us—what we constructed to pad and protect ourselves from the world that is often bad and scary—and peeling them off. I’m not making a stripping pun (amused as you may be); we all have those layers. We can be strong without them. Finding out who we really are underneath is an incredible thing. We are so often so different, when that happens.

You know what a warrior I am on issues like this. This is my bag.

And so even though it was disguised as a joke in the clip, the woman who said thoughtfully, “I would say my husband enjoys it… probably more than I do”—That makes me sad. And don’t even start me on the guy who likes to pretend he’s not a pig. I don’t think Pole for the Soul allows spectators at all; the only people present are the teacher and the students, which I think is awesome, and enforces the idea that it’s not about someone else. I have to remember, too, that the Daily Show and the Colbert Report really don’t have to work too hard for the shocking quotes they get. People give them willingly. Those people are out there, and they don’t seem to have thought about the wonderful things they can do for themselves.

This is why Pole for the Soul’s take is so refreshing, and revitalizing. It’s revitalizing to read—I can’t even imagine what it’s like to take one of her classes. And man, does she get good reviews.

The Colbert clip had some pretty weak comments about personal power—but now you know. It’s true. In fact, it’s way better than you thought. Self-discovery? Creative expression? Confidence and strength and personal power and awesomeness? It’s definitely out there. You just have to look in the right places. But this is the only teacher I’m willing to vouch for. ;}


This I adore, six ways from Sunday. So much fun!

Also, Mika? Really awesome.

Flickr Stays True

In case you were wondering why I was ever such a fan… Stewart’s last few emails to Violet goes a long way towards making that clear. I’ll let you read it on her site (she’s awesome anyway). And if you aren’t caught up, here’s my original Flickr fiasco post.

Violet Blue @ Flickr responds…
Violet Blue @ Flickr explains moderated settings and boobies…

Violet’s site may not be safe for work (if you work somewhere stupid), and there are some images that your boss might not like (or might like a lot, and feel the need to compensate by being a dick—but I don’t know your boss). Click conscientiously.

I can’t even explain to you the relief I felt when I read Stewart’s messages and realized that Violet was probably going to keep her Flickr account. Okay, my crusade to have everyone I like on Flickr is a little silly. There’s a whole wide web out there and plenty of room for variety. It’s just, Flickr really stands for something in my head. I am so grateful to Stewart and the others who uphold that standard, whatever makes it feel so good, whatever makes up what it is. It’s good. I just hope they all know how awesome I think they are, even fighting big business decision making after the Yahoo merge, even after scares like this one, even after everything! They rock.

And to those of you who said I-Told-You-So…. Thpbpphpbbpbpbp!!


Vaccination Situation (Triumph!)

Today really went nothing like I planned—we were going to work through the morning and afternoon and instead, we ended up off on a spree downtown. I did in fact learn something from my tumultuous adventuring, and it is this:

If you live in the Austin area and are planning to get (or continue) Gardasil, the three HPV vaccinations, from Planned Parenthood, call your branch before you leave and make absolutely sure that they have it in that day. In fact, don’t stop there. Ask them to double-check. No, I’m serious. The North branch on Burnet told me to come in, and when I got there, they didn’t have any Gardasil. When I went downtown to the E. 7th St. location, after calling them to make sure it was available… I’d been given incorrect information. They didn’t have it either. I felt incredibly lucky that when I finally ended up down on Ben White in South Austin, somebody had the stuff on hand—and hadn’t given me false hope! Not only that, but all this scrambling happened right before lunch, which made me terrified that we would finally find a place that had it… only to be told that we had to wait another two hours for the nurse to get back. That didn’t happen, but oh god, the scary!

You can imagine how frustrating my day was, given this course of events. But I finally did get the injection—my third and last of three Gardasil vaccinations that will protect me from the four most prevalent strains of HPV, which can cause cervical cancer. The four strains in question are, in case you’re curious, 6, 11, 16, and 18—the first two cause 90% of cases of genital warts, and the last two cause 70% of cases of cervical cancer.

This means I am 90% (or so) less likely to ever have genital warts (wow, that’s fun to type in a public forum!), and 70% (or so) less likely to ever have cervical cancer. Right? Even if I’m not sure how accurate it is for me to say that, those are awfully nice numbers! Stay away from my baby-making parts, HPV! I have a stick!!

Anyway, it was way cool to finally get home after all that running around. I picked up more Yerba at Whole Foods and we stopped at the bank, and collapsed in pools of sweat on our living room floor, basking in the air conditioning that we’d (oops) left on all morning. Oh, air conditioner. We love you so very dearly.

I guess I do have more to say about Planned Parenthood. I wasn’t all keen about being run around, and I’m not sure why it was so difficult for them to let me know whether they had the vaccination available or not. Especially in one case, the fact that I tried to make an appointment to come in (which, incidentally, I’m not allowed to do after the first shot), and the fact that I was told it was in when it wasn’t, when I specifically asked someone to check so that I could avoid the previous painful circumstance… oy. I understand that Planned Parenthood is providing a wonderful service for low-income citizens but I don’t think a restricted budget necessitates restricted respect for your customers. That’s not reasonable, as far as I can tell.

More and more, it makes me feel that I’d better find a good ob-gyn—one I feel strongly safe with, one who is excellently worth the increased expense—purely to have a positive, predictable experience. Planned Parenthood is nice, especially in Austin where I have been treated infinitely better than in Youngstown, but there are kinks in the system. Such kinks in the system!

Regardless of these things, I feel good about my day; I don’t have to worry about the vaccine any longer, and having stuck with it for the six months it took to have all three injections makes me feel pretty good about myself. What should I do next? I bet there’s a Hepatitis letter or two I can spend my money on…

The Big Flickr Scare

Yes… this is about Flickr.

When I sit down to write a Concerned Letter, I always get a little worried. Will it be clear enough? Will it say what I need it to say? Will the addressed person understand what I’m trying to tell them, and more than that, will they be receptive? Sympathetic? And even if I manage to get all this across—a rickety boat in rough waters—will anyone even really read it?

Today Violet posted an entry about sudden, vexing issues with her Flickr account. You can imagine how this made me feel. I’m a huge proponent of Flickr. I adore Flickr. Flickr has always been exactly what I wanted in a photo sharing site and even when they’ve fallen short, they have continued to develop and polish and improve in ways that fill my heart with glee. So when someone has something less than brilliant to say about them, I notice. And in this case, having long been a reader of Violet’s blog and other writings, knowing that her material is, as I say later, reliable and fact-driven as a rule, I have really noticed. And what I have found has greatly alarmed me.

So much, in fact, that I wrote this letter to Flickr.

I recently read the following article at Violet Blue’s site,

If what she says is true—and I have never known her to be anything but reliable and fact-driven in her writing—Flickr is doing some slightly crazy things, pissing off some very large-scale users. Personally, I’m upset because I put a lot of stock in Flickr, and Violet having a Flickr account makes it really easy for me to follow a really neat person who has a lot of wonderful ideas and opinions. I consider her really valuable to the web and I can’t help but feel that if Flickr is enacting a poorly constructed system of standards on her in a way that causes her to abandon it altogether, what is likely to happen to the rest of us who use it? I know many people who are now using Flickr Pro accounts to really help them in displaying their personality on the web—but if you don’t help us play by your rules, if those rules aren’t clear and easy to use, we can’t trust you. That scares me, because I’ve always been a HUGE proponent of Flickr.

I do appreciate you reading this email, because I believe in what Flickr is—I am having a hard time processing the idea that this could be happening, and I certainly don’t want to entertain the idea that moving my accounts is a good option. But I am alarmed by what I’ve heard and I would really like to know what the future holds. Do ya’ll intend to do something about this? Is it possible that the Yahoo merge had unforetold consequences we would not see until later on? Please, please console me, as I have been incredibly, unwaveringly loyal in the time since Flickr was a teeny baby. And I really, really don’t want Violet to delete her account.

I would be so, so grateful for a response.

Thank you for listening,

Megan Elizabeth Morris

I wrote it off the cuff—thinking, someone has to say something. I’m sure many people have said something, probably far (far!) more eloquently than I did. My letter is little more than a plea to Flickr to soothe and placate one of my favorite Flickr users, but even typing that I realize that it’s bigger. Changes like this herald larger problems, and Flickr has long been one of my favorite institutions of The Good Web. I was nervous when Yahoo took over but the pastures continued to look green and healthy and affable. I am hoping to high heaven that the outlook I saw from there isn’t going to be any different now.

And hell, I know the world isn’t perfect. But when the world gets less perfect, people should know about it. Should have the chance to fix it. So many companies rise to that challenge! There’s no reason Flickr can’t be one of them.

Update, Friday 5pm: Saw another post from Violet about having gotten a response from Flickr, which makes me feel hopeful—but it will take a little time to find out what’s up, since Gmail is having issues. Pbph! Wouldn’t it be incredible if Flickr rose to the occasion? I mean, we can hope, can’t we? (And yeesh, what is up with all the web issues lately? Is this a June thing?)

Update, Saturday 1pm: Scoble mentioned these crazy shenanigans, too. AND, David Ewalt @ Forbes has a great post up, quote:

I’ve been really getting into Flickr myself the last few months and have found it an excellent, well run service. It would be a terrible shame if they screwed things up with excessive regulation or censorship.

Man, do I ever agree. In addition to all of that, one of Violet’s images on Flickr with a really interesting comment thread is here. I especially appreciate Ninavizz’s comment, clips:

The Flickr folks really, truly do mean well- tho despite being with Yahoo! for 2+ years, they continue to struggle with organizational red-tape bullshit …

Stewart and Caterina coulda both retired comfortably a couple of years ago, but both continue to put in long-hours to ensure that Flickr … doesn’t lose it’s integrity- despite the corporate absorption. They both care so deeply for the long-term integrity of online community spaces, and the individuals from all walks of life who make them special. They’re really fighting a humongo machine, and with all the Flickr peeps, are committed to it for the longhaul.

It’s good to call them out when they hit bumps in the road- but do be patient, and give them the benefit of the doubt that they’re doing everything they can.

This is what made me a Flickr fan in the good ol’ days, and I don’t like to believe, in light of everything, that Yahoo can possibly have eclipsed what Flickr is, at its core. Incidents like this make me nervous, but I prefer to believe in the basic humanity and worthiness of the thing in question. I’m grateful to others who battle on the side of worthy humanity! ;}

Update, Saturday 1:30pm: There’s a Flickr group called I’ve Been Restricted with some useful information for folks who are having similar problems.

Woo! Read about Flickr’s awesome response on Violet’s site here!

Because it’s TV night:

“Marriages don’t fail because couples get bored. They fail because while they’re dating people pretend to be the person they think their partner wants and then, well, there’s only so long you can keep that up.”

~ chick in a random episode of House, “Clueless”

And She’s Not Alone

...Sex isn’t just good, but good for you. Having a healthy sex life actually makes you more healthy. Sex reduces stress and depression, relieves pain, improves cardio health, and may even slow aging.

Which means, every minute that we spend fearing we aren’t good enough, might get rejected, don’t know how to ask for what we want, we’re literally chipping away at our mental and physical well-being. When we shame others around us for indulging in the sex we ourselves wish we knew how to have, we’re missing out on the chance that sex itself affords us to get over ourselves. That’s what I’m really talking about when I talk about loving sex: that though there’s plenty of guilt, shame, and paralyzing fear going around out there about sex, that it’s through sex that we can start to feel better about ourselves and let go.

~ Melissa Gira @ Sexerati

After Lunch

I’m sort of flagging. This is definitely a sinus infection. It is incredibly unpleasant. I feel very uncomfortable and icky. But I refuse to miss the rest of the convention just because I managed to get myself sick. (One drawback of tramping around town and riding a lot of buses, I imagine, because I get sinus infections so easily.)

After the Indie video panel I squirmed my way through the crowd to Violet, and told her how important her writing has been to me. She smiled fabulously at me, was particularly friendly and sincere, and filled me with absolute glee. That felt so good. My light-headed wooziness when I walked out of the panel was probably due to my plummeting immune system, but I can imagine it having been a result of how pleased I was with myself. She’s doing things that are wonderful, and she should know about it!

I then proceeded to lunch at the Four Seasons cafe, where everyone was extra extra nifty and totally worth the price I paid for my meal. The food, also, was fantastic. I was hoping that it would bounce me back, out of this ill feeling, but it’s just food, after all. I’ll have to get a lot of sleep tonight… and probably see if I can reschedule tomorrow’s eye appointment for Friday.

I have what sound like really good panels left—attracting ideal clients, $100 internet businesses, podcasts, and… hmm. I’m not sure about that 5pm, actually. And I might just stay in Ballroom F for The New Business of Collectivism, instead of running off to the podcast panel. And I just might take a 5pm bus home. I’d have to walk back to my apartment from the bus stop, but I’d be home before dark and I’d be able to go to bed for the rest of the night.

I’m seriously thinking about it.

Three hours to go; time to pee, find a good seat for the panel… I’ll charge my laptop more during the $100 internet businesses panel if absolutely necessary. You know, none of this is half bad, as planning goes…

Right. I have to pee.

Sex and Computational Technology

[X] 05:00PM Sex and Computational Technology (9AB)

Note for those at work: The subject of this panel was largely teledildonics; even though there aren’t any images, know what you’re getting into before you go reading on. The links, also, are going to be largely NSFW.

Amanda Williams – University of California at Irvine
Violet Blue – Blogger, Open Source Sex
Johanna Brewer – University of California at Irvine
Kyle Machulis – Engineer, Nonpolynomial Labs
Cory Silverberg – Author & Educator, Come As You Are &

Much of this is not material that would generally be presented in a mainstream setting, which is what makes the birth of this panel so fabulous! Amanda Williams is moderating, explaining about user interfaces centered around the user as a brain, eyes, and hands. We’ve got plenty on virtual communities and Web 2.0, but all that hints that the real and the virtual are not so easily separated. There’s plenty of overlap and interaction between the two, and that really comes out when we start to talk about sex and computational technology.

Amanda: “...And Kyle has some magical toys.” (Kyle holds up something that looks like a short, fat bowling pin made of shiny silver… heh!

Read the rest of this entry »


It’s the last panel of the day, and what kind of a research whore would I be if I didn’t liveblog Violet Blue? Really!

You know, she played this huge part in my growth as a person in the last few years—who she is, what she stands for. That’s really something. I’m excited about this panel!

My excitement doesn’t seem to be making enough of a dent in my sleepy, but it is what it is. Fifteen minutes until launch!

Reoccuring Annoyance No. 15502

Why doesn’t anyone seem to understand that if children were thoroughly educated about sex, they would make less stupid sex-related decisions? It doesn’t matter what your religion is, or what your morality dictates about sexual behavior. If people don’t have information to allow them to behave intelligently, they almost certainly won’t behave intelligently. You can’t just ask them to do what you want. They have to know why. It’s not a well-informed decision if no one’s been informed. And sex is one thing that can’t be avoided just for lack of good information. Go ahead, try.

Too Good to Pass Up

I’ve been saving these for too long, so they’re going up now.

  • She’s Not Making This Up: Adri Tan posted this forever ago and it’s been sitting in my bookmarks bar waiting to be dealt with. I couldn’t bear to delete and forget – it was just too entertaining.
  • April Fool’s Joke? Nope: This link goes to a site called ‘All About My Vagina’, which is not work safe unless your workplace feels kindly toward sex-positive literature. Sarah mentions here that actual sex-ed textbooks – ones that aren’t ‘abstinence-only’ in nature – are scarce (and possibly extinct for the moment). I can’t verify her sources, but the concept is alarming.
  • Jittery Monkey: Nope, no link here. I couldn’t find anything. Perhaps Opryland is the only hotel who has a drink with this name… or perhaps it’s just no big deal and no one cares but me. Missy had two of these during our stay and by all accounts it tastes good. I even didn’t mind it too much, and I’m just not a coffee kinda gal. It’s some kind of caffeinated coffee, chocolate and banana syrup. I was just so entertained by the name of the drink, I couldn’t help but mention it.
  • I can’t wait to see this movie: This link is worksafe, but the resulting links may not be. It’s about Sin City (movie) versus Sin City (comic book), neither of which I have seen / read, but I’m fascinated with the idea that the movie has been so neatly aligned with the original material. I’m dying to see it, but I’m trying to wait for the cheap theaters. That said, if any of you go to see it without me, I will perish. Perish, I say!
  • 43 Folders Wiki: 43Folders is perhaps the best resource ever for Mac OS X users who want an efficient workflow and good organizational habits. This wiki is full of genius material – in fact, this is going in my workflow links, it’s so yummy.
  • Ten Reasons Why Blogging Is Good For Your Career: What have I been saying, guys? Blog, you fools! The primary reason I blog is to keep my writing and communication skills warm when I have little time for fiction writing. I used to write fiction like a fiend, but these days I have less and less time for it – and after all, blogging keeps me in touch with people I care about all over the world. This is a good, good list.

I’m astonished and embarrassed to say that I have way more links than these. I’ve been keeping them on hold for quite awhile now, but I promise I’ll get to them sometime soon. Eat these, I’ll make more.