Resources Mentioned at PlaygroundConf 2013 Closing Plenary

PGConf 2013

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Additional Resources

Latino Blog Challenge Day 4: Rollcall of Awesomeness

Prompt: “What Latino blog I recommend”

Well I can’t just pick ONE, obviously! So here are a few!

I want to focus a bit on the intersection of queerness and Latin@ identity because my induction into my queerness was not through a lens of queer Latinidad. My queerness was part of my conscious identity before my ethnicity, and it was hella whitewashed in terms of theory because that’s what was mainstream and available. Now I’m doing my work to deconstruct that and try to live my sexuality in ways that feel authentic but also connected to my ethnic history and homeland of Puerto Rico.

To that end, I’d love to highlight some awesome queer Latin@ blogs, and I gotta start with Tumblr: Fuck Yeah Queer Latin@s  and Fuck Yeah Jot@s. I also had the lovely experience of connecting with Max during a webinar and simultaneously finding their blog, but not making the connection until a bit later. Finally, the Latinidad section of QWOC Media Wire is another awesome collection of articles. An honorary mention in this section, because it’s not solely Latin@ but pretty awesome and QPOC-y, is QueerBrownXX.

Now, not solely a queer latin@ blog, but instead a general one that does touch upon sexuality is the Latinegr@s Project. I gotta give mad appreciation to them because as someone who benefits from light-skinned privilege, I like seeing spaces that actively cultivate strength, pride, and power in being afro-latin@ and visibly so; that post art and music and jobs and resources; that critique white-washing and frequent negative media portrayals of dark-skinned characters; and highlight the marginalization even within already oppressed communities. In the same vein of fabulousness, check out Latino Sexuality and Vivir Latino (the latter is geared primarily towards folks that are part of the Latin@ diaspora in the U.S.).

What Not To Do When Housemate Hunting

As it happens, I was housemate hunting recently. The following is text from an email-exchange that ensued after a very singular dude replied to the posting. See, while humor is awesome, using this kind of humor when you’re a cis-dude and we don’t know each other at all = not the best choice.


Hey girls!
In response to your CL listing, here I am.  Your listing and requirements are almost exactly what im looking for!
– Im LGBT-friendly (Im currently traveling Europe with a gay friend and a couple straight ones).
– I like to share household utilities (down to groceries, netflix, bar tabs)
– I throw occasional extravagant parties (maybe twice a year).  Dinner parties are great too.

Im a 28 y/o male engineer going in for a masters in entrepreneurship at Brown this fall.

So a little about me.  To sum it up, im a social, spontaneous, sporty, clean(ish) and nerdy guy.  I was born in Oregon, lived all over the US, but living in Boston for the last 5 years working at a tech startup managing the manufacturing and various engineering aspects of our products.  When im not working I enjoy cycling, hiking, snowboarding, ultimate frisbee, inventing/building random things, traveling, meeting new people, and going out with friends.

Now that you know a little about me, id love to hear a little more about you guys.  The only concern that I have at the moment is… living with THREE girls?  But you guys sound pretty awesome.

Best, XXX


Hi XXXX!

What does an “occasional extravagant party” mean to you? That sounds fancy! 😀 Is it more on the “fancy fabulous party” or “beer pong rager” end of things?

And yes—three girls. Have you been primarily living by yourself or with guys…? We’re pretty awesome if I do say so myself. The question is—are we all compatible? That’s what we have to find out! Do you think you could Skype with us for a chat tomorrow or in the coming days?
On our end, we’re all sociable folks with Venn-diagramming lives. We have our own things going on (and it seems like all fervently love our jobs and doing good for society), but do like to spend time together. For example, we hosted a couchsurfer these past two nights, all of us had dinner together yesterday and then watched a movie about an evil Santa Claus in Finland. Then, today, one of the housemates (Jenna) and I got home from work, chatted over some pineapple-y wine, and watched an “offbeat romantic ghost story” about a married fisherman who has to reconcile his love for a man with his life and society’s social mores. Sometime in August we’ll be hosting a monthly (or so?) feminist book club, and there are plans to go down to Newport sometime because I’ve never been and that’s quite a tragedy.

If that sounds at all interesting, let’s set up a time to chat!


Hey Aida,

The occasional extravagant party means I like to throw epic memorable parties which i invest fairly heavily in.  These are no ordinary beer pong ragers, I dont even allow it.  These are epic themed parties where massive props are made, fog machines, disco balls, candles, blacklights, meticulously created playlists, dance floors, etc. and funded by the young professionals who like to show appreciation to their good friends a couple times a year.  Youve never been to a party like this before.  (Note from Aida: I am simultaneously intrigued and put off.)

Ive been living with 3 boys and 1 girl in boston for the last 5 years.  A few people have cycled, but the ratio always remains the same.  I like to live with at least one girl to keep the place in check.

Im daunted by your “feminist book club” and three “social justice minded” women.  Im pretty sure you guys will want to kill me by the first night if you take my asinine crass humor seriously.  Im pretty over-the-top.  While I appreciate your time, I think im going to have to respectfully decline.

Good luck finding someone!


The problem is, while this guy sounded kind of interesting in a way, he can’t expect me to trust his intent once I’ve already been slammed with sexist bullshit over and over. And even if I WERE to think “well he’s just being ironic/funny,” this kind of shit is not funny to me anymore 99% of the time, especially coming from men, and cis, straight men at that.

If we do not have a relationship, do not have a rapport, and do not have ANY remote smidgen of comfort with each other and knowledge about where we’re coming from, this kind of humor doesn’t make sense and doesn’t make me feel good about our interactions. A lot of what he said just sounds like regurgitations from shitty conversations I’ve had with people who have been clueless, sexist, and/or disrespectful. Does anyone think that’s cool or comforting? That it’s funny or cool to make people feel like they might have another person in their life who devalues them, even if only just for a moment, for the sake of humor, and reenacts the daily sexist bullshit they face?

People can’t expect folks from an oppressed/marginalized group to trust the intent of people from a majority/oppressive class when the latter are going down the same path of shittiness. “Oh oh oh, but I was being FUNNY/IRONIC” is not an excuse. Still shitty. When experience has told me and my communities that this kind of behavior is indicative of sexist and misogynist beliefs, WHY in the world would I just “hope” that this person would be different? Why would I even TRY to excuse them and give them the benefit of the doubt, especially if it’s about living together? Come on. Doesn’t make sense.

Does finding this problematic make me humorless? No. It makes me someone who prefers a more sophisticated and less oppressive brand of humor. I used to be one of those “you can joke about anything! bring on the dark humor and horribly offensive shit!” kind of person, especially before I hit college… but once one’s been exposed to how this kind of thing actually plays out and is the lived reality of people, it’s hard to find that shit funny anymore. That shit is REAL and EVERY DAY and EXHAUSTING. The harm these jokes and cracks make is far higher than their funniness, and from a purely utilitarian perspective (as well as one that focuses on kindness and respect more so than momentary wittiness), IT’S BETTER TO REFRAIN FROM SUCH “JOKES.”

And before someone says “well that’s censorship,” welcome to the world. We all have to “censor” ourselves sometimes. We should HAVE the freedom to be shitty people to some extent and say whatever we want, but consciously CHOOSE to not be shitty to others. We need to strive to be better, and create a world that’s a safer place to be. Just because we “can” do something doesn’t mean we SHOULD do it.

Humor that relies on oppression and marginalization, no matter how small, is LAZY HUMOR. It’s EASY to use the pre-existing power dynamics to “make a funny,” and it pretty much requires no thought or wit or spin–just a pretty straightforward mimicry of what’s going on in the day-to-day. Let’s strive for more instead of just rolling around in the muck.

My 7th Grade Class Helped Me Define My Relationships

I remember learning about elements and electron-shell diagrams in my 7th grade science class. Who would’ve thought that that same model I saw on the whiteboard would be the key to explaining what the heck I was doing with my relationships years later?


Please scroll to the bottom for a 2016 update/note!


Fluorine has 2 electrons on
the first shell and 7 on the
second shell.

Unless you count a torrid online romance with a guy from Canada when I was 14, at the age of 19 I’d never been in a relationship. All my knowledge of the mechanics of sex and intimacy were purely theoretical, and then I suddenly launched into something with a married polyamorous man with a Ph.D who was almost 10 years my senior. Oh, and did I mention he also had another girlfriend in addition to his wife? Though precocious and definitely interested in alternative sexuality since before high-school, nothing had prepared me for this relationship model.

So I did what any self-respecting nerd would do: I researched! I devoured everything I could find online about non-monogamy (and polyamory especially), spending hours upon hours reading personal accounts, advice columns, informational websites, and research papers. I had to unlearn a lot of things and reprogram my brain to understand this new model of relationship. In that process, I had to interrogate the metaphors I used to describe my love-life, what visual representations I used to talk about significant others, and what kind of language in general I used to describe my intimacy and the people involved.

Enter: SCIENCE!

If “Lithium” actually just meant
“Aida,” this diagram would say that
I have 2 primaries and 1 secondary!

With increased hands-on experience (wink wink, nudge nudge) in non-monogamous living came more “opportunities” to describe my situation, both to potential partners and the general public.

One of the hurdles in explaining my relationship configuration was discussing how I could have two super important partners at the same time. I’m a pretty visual person, and non-monogamy sometimes necessitates a lot of diagramming, so I needed something I could draw for people. At some point along the way, my brain cycled back to my 7th grade science class and the electron-shell diagrams seemed to resonate.

So how does this work for me (and how might it work for you)? Read on, look at the Lithium diagram to the right, and keep the following in mind:

  • The big, red circle is the nucleus (made up of protons and neutrons), and that is the self (me!)
  • The little gray circles are electrons, and those are other people
  • The shells/rings are levels of commitment/closeness

1: There can be more than one electron/person on each shell (which goes against the ideas of “only one soulmate” in the monogamy model and against the “only one primary” notion in some polyamorous communities). The electrons don’t occupy the same exact space on the shell (read: the electrons are not on top of each other, ), but they ARE on the same shell, so it embodies how multiple primary partners are on the same general level of importance but are still fulfilling in different aspects.

2: Up to a certain point, the further a shell is from the nucleus, the higher the maximum number of electrons allowed on it. (For example: the first shell can hold a max. of 2 electrons, the second shell can hold a max. of 8, and the third shell can hold a max. of 18.) In relationship-talk, that means that I have a maximum number of people that I can pay attention to at a given time on a given rung, and I could have bigger numbers of lower-investment relationships than higher-investment relationships*. The maximum of two on the innermost shell is also probably accurate; I don’t think I could ever handle more than 2 primaries!

3 (not tied to the shell diagram, but just general atomic knowledge I wanted to include)While the electrons affect the charge of an atom, an element is identified by the number of protons in the nucleus. This jives well with the idea that while relationships might change me (and, heh, make me more positive or negative), I’m my own person and I have a recognizable identity outside of whomever I am partners with at a particular time.

4: Finally, just because a shell has a maximum number of electron spots available, it doesn’t mean  I HAVE to try to get that shell full of electrons or that bed full of people just because I can.

*Still, the model isn’t perfect. Number of partners on each “commitment rung” don’t have to follow the “filling” patterns of atoms. For example, in Real Science, each shell can only hold a particular maximum number of electrons (2, 8, 18, 32 for the first four shells) and shells get filled from the inside out, so I wouldn’t have an element/relationship with 2 electrons/people on the first shell, 4 in the second, and then 9 in the third. In my love life, however, I could totally have 5 casual partners and no primary, or perhaps I could have 2 primaries, 1 secondary, and 12 tertiaries. And actually, according to the Madelung Energy Ordering Rule, there are certain atoms who have “partially-filled” outer rings, so straying from the 2, 8, 18, 32 pattern is possible, but not the rule by any means.


07/30/16 — Edited to add: How I personally arrange my relationships and what words I use for them has changed considerably throughout the years! It’s important to clarify that the way I describe relationship arrangements here follows (or can follow) a fairly hierarchical model (though different from the “only one primary” idea, and without the problematic “only primaries matter” mentality). This electron shell model is useful for some but certainly not exhaustive, and there are tons of layers of nuance we can/should layer on top of it. This shell model can help with broad explanations and debunking some common misconceptions, but it doesn’t say anything about kinds of commitment, what names and partnerships in these “relationship rungs” look like, or anything like that. Intimacy and commitment are rarely so easily categorizable, so please keep that in mind when perusing. For some food for thought on polyamory, hierarchy, and more, check this and this out.

Edenfantasys Fucks Up

So this post by my dear friend maymay basically speaks for itself.

The short short short summary? Edenfantasys is trying to skew its ranking on the Internet by using shady practices. This is not good, especially from a company with the tag-line “the sex shop you can trust.” You should read up on it and reconsider your support of their business. Personally, I still plan to use their website to learn about toys, since they have THE best website re: toys and specs and user-friendly info, but I’m definitely buying my things elsewhere. A good alternative for purchases? Fascinations! Or Good Vibrations. There are probably more, too, so do your research. It’s also a great idea to reach manufacturers directly, too. 🙂

As one of the people who went over maymay’s post before publication, I highly stress the importance of checking it out. There have been other controversies with Edenfantasys recently (and not-so-recently), so for more information on those, check out the following links:

Now, onto the show:


Edenfantasys’s unethical technology 
is a self-referential black hole


A few nights ago, I received an email from Editor of EdenFantasys’s SexIs Magazine, Judy Cole, asking me to modify this Kink On Tap brief I published that cites Lorna D. Keach’s writing. Judy asked me to “provide attribution and a link back to” SexIs Magazine. An ordinary enough request soon proved extraordinarily unethical when I discovered that EdenFantasys has invested a staggering amount of time and money to develop and implement a technology platform that actively denies others the courtesy of link reciprocity, a courtesy on which the ethical Internet is based.

While what they’re doing may not be illegal, EdenFantasys has proven itself to me to be an unethical and unworthy partner, in business or otherwise. Its actions are blatantly hypocritical, as I intend to show in detail in this post. Taking willful and self-serving advantage of those not technically savvy is a form of inexcusable oppression, and none of us should tolerate it from companies who purport to be well-intentioned resources for a community of sex-positive individuals.

For busy or non-technical readers, see the next section, Executive Summary, to quickly understand what EdenFantasys is doing, why it’s unethical, and how it affects you whether you’re a customer, a contributor, or a syndication partner. For the technical reader, the Technical Details section should provide ample evidence in the form of a walkthrough and sample code describing the unethical Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and Search Engine Marketing (SEM) techniques EdenFantasys, aka. Web Merchants, Inc., is engaged in. For anyone who wants to read further, I provide an Editorial section in which I share some thoughts about what you can do to help combat these practices and bring transparency and trust—not the sabotage of trust EdenFantasys enacts—to the market.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Internet sex toy retailer Web Merchants, Inc., which bills itself as the “sex shop you can trust” and does business under the name EdenFantasys, has implemented technology on their websites that actively interferes with contributors’ content, intercepts outgoing links, and alters republished content so that links in the original work are redirected to themselves. Using techniques widely acknowledged as unethical by Internet professionals and that are arguably in violation of major search engines’ policies, EdenFantasys’s publishing platform has effectively outsourced the task of “link farming” (a questionable Search Engine Marketing [SEM] technique) to sites with which they have “an ongoing relationship,” such as AlterNet.org, other large news hubs, and individual bloggers’ blogs.

Articles published on EdenFantasys websites, such as the “community” website SexIs Magazine, contain HTML crafted to look like links, but aren’t. When visited by a typical human user, a program written in JavaScript and included as part of the web pages is automatically downloaded and intercepts clicks on these “link-like” elements, fetching their intended destination from the server and redirecting users there. Due to the careful and deliberate implementation, the browser’s status bar is made to appear as though the link is legitimate, and that a destination is provided as expected.

For non-human visitors, including automated search engine indexing programs such as Googlebot, the “link” remains non-functional, making the article a search engine’s dead-end or “orphan” page whose only functional links are those whose destination is EdenFantasys’s own web presence. This makes EdenFantasys’ website(s) a self-referential black hole that provides no reciprocity for contributors who author content, nor for any website ostensibly “linked” to from article content. At the same time, EdenFantasys editors actively solicit inbound links from individuals and organizations through “link exchanges” and incentive programs such as “awards” and “free” sex toys, as well as syndicating SexIs Magazine content such that the content is programmatically altered in order to create multiple (real) inbound links to EdenFantasys’s websites after republication on their partner’s media channels.

How EdenFantasys’s unethical practices have an impact on you

Regardless of who you are, EdenFantasys’s unethical practices have a negative impact on you and, indeed, on the Internet as a whole.

See for yourself: First, log out of any and all EdenFantasys websites or, preferably, use a different browser, or even a proxy service such as the Tor network for greater anonymity. Due to EdenFantasys’s technology, you cannot trust that what you are seeing on your screen is what someone else will see on theirs. Next, temporarily disable JavaScript (read instructions for your browser) and then try clicking on the links in SexIs Magazine articles. If clicking the intended off-site “links” doesn’t work, you know that your article’s links are being hidden from Google and that your content is being used for shady practices. In contrast, with JavaScript still disabled, navigate to another website (such as this blog), try clicking on the links, and note that the links still work as intended.

Here’s another verifiable example from the EdenFantasys site showing that many other parts of Web Merchants, Inc. pages, not merely SexIs Magazine, are affected as well: With JavaScript disabled, visit the EdenFantasys company page on Aslan Leather (note, for the sake of comparison, the link in this sentence will work, even with JavaScript off). Try clicking on the link in the “Contact Information” section in the lower-right hand column of the page (shown in the screenshot, below). This “link” should take you to the Aslan Leather homepage but in fact it does not. So much for that “link exchange.”

  • If you’re an EdenFantasys employee, people will demand answers from you regarding the unethical practices of your (hopefully former) employer. While you are working for EdenFantasys, you’re seriously soiling your reputation in the eyes of ethical Internet professionals. Ignorance is no excuse for the lack of ethics on the programmers’ part, and it’s a shoddy one for everyone else; you should be aware of your company’s business practices because you represent them and they, in turn, represent you.
  • If you’re a partner or contributor (reviewer, affiliate, blogger), while you’re providing EdenFantasys with inbound links or writing articles for them and thereby propping them up higher in search results, EdenFantasys is not returning the favor to you (when they are supposed to be doing so). Moreover, they’re attaching your handle, pseudonym, or real name directly to all of their link farming (i.e., spamming) efforts. They look like they’re linking to you and they look like their content is syndicated fairly, but they’re actually playing dirty. They’re going the extra mile to ensure search engines like Google do not recognize the links in articles you write. They’re trying remarkably hard to make certain that all roads lead to EdenFantasys, but none lead outside of it; no matter what the “link,” search engines see it as stemming from and leading to EdenFantasys. The technically savvy executives of Web Merchants, Inc. are using you without giving you a fair return on your efforts. Moreover, EdenFantasys is doing this in a way that preys upon people’s lack of technical knowledge—potentially your own as well as your readership’s. Do you want to keep doing business with people like that?
  • If you’re a customer, you’re monetarily supporting a company that essentially amounts to a glorified yet subtle spammer. If you hate spam, you should hate the unethical practices that lead to spam’s perpetual reappearance, including the practices of companies like Web Merchants, Inc. EdenFantasys’s unethical practices may not be illegal, but they are unabashedly a hair’s width away from it, just like many spammers’. If you want to keep companies honest and transparent, if you really want a “sex shop you can trust,” this is relevant to you because EdenFantasys is not it. If you want to purchase from a retailer that truly strives to offer a welcoming, trustworthy community for those interested in sex positivity and sexuality, pay close attention and take action. For ideas about what you can do, please see the “What you can do” section, below.
  • If you’ve never heard about EdenFantasys before, but you care about a fair and equal-opportunity Internet, this is relevant to you because what EdenFantasys is doing takes advantage of non-tech-savvy people in order to slant the odds of winning the search engine game in their favor. They could have done this fairly, and I personally believe that they would have succeeded. Their sites are user-friendly, well-designed, and solidly implemented. However, they chose to behave maliciously by not providing credit where credit is due, failing to follow through on agreements with their own community members and contributors, and sneakily utilizing other publishers’ web presences to play a very sad zero-sum game that they need not have entered in the first place. In the Internet I want, nobody takes malicious advantage of those less skilled than they are because their own skill should speak for itself. Isn’t that the Internet and, indeed, the future you want, too?

TECHNICAL DETAILS

What follows is a technical exploration of the way the EdenFantasys technology works. It is my best-effort evaluation of the process in as much detail as I can manage within strict self-imposed time constraints. If any of this information is incorrect, I’d welcome any and all clarifications provided by the EdenFantasys CTO and technical team in an appropriately transparent, public, and ethical manner. (You’re welcome—nay, encouraged—to leave a comment.)

Although I’m unconvinced that EdenFantasys understands this, it is the case that honesty is the best policy—especially on the Internet, where everyone has the power of “View source.”

The “EF Framework” for obfuscating links

Article content written by contributors on SexIs Magazine pages is published after all links are replaced with a <span> element bearing the class of linklike and a unique id attribute value. This apparently happens across any and all content published by Web Merchants, Inc.’s content management system, but I’ll be focusing on Lorna D. Keach’s post entitled SexFeed:Anti-Porn Activists Now Targeting Female Porn Addicts for the sake of example.

These fake links look like this in HTML:

And according to Theresa Flynt, vice president of marketing for Hustler video, <span class="linklike" ID="EFLink_68034_fe64d2">female consumers make up 56% of video sales.</span>

This originally published HTML is what visitors without JavaScript enabled (and what search engine indexers) see when they access the page. Note that the <span> is not a real link, even though it is made to look like one. (See Figure 1; click it to enlarge.)

Figure 1:

In a typical user’s browser, when this page is loaded, a JavaScript program is executed that mutates these “linklike” elements into <a> elements, retaining the “linklike” class and the unique id attribute values. However, no value is provided in the href (link destination) attribute of the <a> element. See Figure 2:

Figure 2:

The JavaScript program is downloaded in two parts from the endpoint at http://cdn3.edenfantasys.com/Scripts/Handler/jsget.ashx. The first part, retrieved in this example by accessing the URI at http://cdn3.edenfantasys.com/Scripts/Handler/jsget.ashx?i=jq132_cnf_jdm12_cks_cm_ujsn_udm_stt_err_jsdm_stul_ael_lls_ganl_jqac_jtv_smg_assf_agrsh&v_14927484.12.0, loads the popular jQuery JavaScript framework as well as custom code called the “EF Framework”.

The EF Framework contains code called the DBLinkHandler, an object that parses the <span> “linklike” elements (called “pseudolinks” in the EF Framework code) and retrieves the real destination. The entirety of the DBLinkHandler object is shown in code listing 1, below. Note the code contains a function called handle that performs the mutation of the <span> “linklike” elements (seen primarily on lines 8 through 16) and, based on the prefix of each elements’ id attribute value, two key functions (BuildUrlForElement and GetUrlByUrlID, whose signatures are on lines 48 and 68, respectively) interact to set up the browser navigation after responding to clicks on the fake links.

var DBLinkHandler = {
pseudoLinkPrefix: "EFLink_",
generatedAHrefPrefix: "ArtLink_",
targetBlankClass: "target_blank",
jsLinksCssLinkLikeClass: "linklike",
handle: function () {
var pseudolinksSpans = $("span[id^='" + DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix + "']");
pseudolinksSpans.each(function () {
var psLink = $(this);
var cssClass = $.trim(psLink.attr("class"));
var target = "";
var id = psLink.attr("id").replace(DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix, DBLinkHandler.generatedAHrefPrefix);
var href = $("<a></a>").attr({
id: id,
href: ""
}).html(psLink.html());
if (psLink.hasClass(DBLinkHandler.targetBlankClass)) {
href.attr({
target: "_blank"
});
cssClass = $.trim(cssClass.replace(DBLinkHandler.targetBlankClass, ""))
}
if (cssClass != "") {
href.attr({
"class": cssClass
})
}
psLink.before(href).remove()
});
var pseudolinksAHrefs = $("a[id^='" + DBLinkHandler.generatedAHrefPrefix + "']");
pseudolinksAHrefs.live("mouseup", function (event) {
DBLinkHandler.ArtLinkClick(this)
});
pseudolinksSpans = $("span[id^='" + DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix + "']");
pseudolinksSpans.live("click", function (event) {
if (event.button != 0) {
return
}
var psLink = $(this);
var url = DBLinkHandler.BuildUrlForElement(psLink, DBLinkHandler.pseudoLinkPrefix);
if (!psLink.hasClass(DBLinkHandler.targetBlankClass)) {
RedirectTo(url)
} else {
OpenNewWindow(url)
}
})
},
BuildUrlForElement: function (psLink, prefix) {
var psLink = $(psLink);
var sufix = psLink.attr("id").toString().substring(prefix.length);
var id = (sufix.indexOf("_") != -1) ? sufix.substring(0, sufix.indexOf("_")) : sufix;
var url = DBLinkHandler.GetUrlByUrlID(id);
if (url == "") {
url = EF.Constants.Links.Url
}
var end = sufix.substring(sufix.indexOf("_") + 1);
var anchor = "";
if (end.indexOf("_") != -1) {
anchor = "#" + end.substring(0, end.lastIndexOf("_"))
}
url += anchor;
return url
},
ArtLinkClick: function (psLink) {
var url = DBLinkHandler.BuildUrlForElement(psLink, DBLinkHandler.generatedAHrefPrefix);
$(psLink).attr("href", url)
},
GetUrlByUrlID: function (UrlID) {
var url = "";
UrlRequest = $.ajax({
type: "POST",
url: "/LinkLanguage/AjaxLinkHandling.aspx",
dataType: "json",
async: false,
data: {
urlid: UrlID
},
cache: false,
success: function (data) {
if (data.status == "Success") {
url = data.url;
return url
}
},
error: function (xhtmlObj, status, error) {}
});
return url
}
};

Once the mutation is performed and all the content “links” are in the state shown in Figure 2, above, an event listener has been bound to the anchors that captures a click event. This is done using prototypal extension, aka. classic prototypal inheritance, in another part of the code, the live function on line 2,280 of the (de-minimized) jsget.ashx program, as shown in code listing 2, here:

        live: function (G, F) {
var E = o.event.proxy(F);
E.guid += this.selector + G;
o(document).bind(i(G, this.selector), this.selector, E);
return this
},

At this point, clicking on one of the “pseudolinks” triggers the EF Framework to call code set up by the GetUrlByUrlID function from within the DBLinkHandler object, initiating an XMLHttpRequest (XHR) connection to the AjaxLinkHandling.aspx server-side application. The request is an HTTP POST containing only one parameter, called urlid, and its value matches a substring from within the id value of the “pseudolinks.” In this example, the id attribute contains a value of EFLink_68034_fe64d2, which means that the unique ID POST’ed to the server is 68034. This is shown in Figure 3, below.

Figure 3:

The response from the server, shown in Figure 4, is also simple. If successful, the intended destination is retrieved by the GetUrlByUrlID object’s success function (on line 79 of Code Listing 1, above) and the user is redirected to that web address, as if the link was a real one all along. The real destination, in this case to CNN.com, is thereby only revealed after the XHR request returns a successful reply.

Figure 4:

All of this obfuscation effectively blinds machines such as the Googlebot who are not JavaScript-capable from seeing and following these links. It deliberately provides no increased Pagerank for the link destination (as a real link would normally do) despite being “linked to” from EdenFantasys’s SexIs Magazine article. While the intended destination in this example link was at CNN.com, it could just as easily have been—and is, in other examples—links to the blogs of EdenFantasys community members and, indeed, everyone else linked to from a SexIs Magazine article or potentially any website operated by Web Merchants, Inc. that makes use of this technology.

The EdenFantasys Outsourced Link-Farm

In addition to creating a self-referential black hole with no gracefully degrading outgoing links, EdenFantasys also actively performs link-stuffing through its syndicated content “relationships,” underhandedly creating an outsourced and distributed link-farm, just like a spammer. The difference is that this spammer (Web Merchants, Inc. aka EdenFantasys) is cleverly crowd-sourcing high-value, high-quality content from its own “community.”

Articles published at SexIs Magazine are syndicated in full to other large hub sites, such as AlterNet.org. Continuing with the above example post by Lorna D. Keach, Anti-Porn Activists Now Targeting Female Porn Addicts, we can see that this content was republished on AlterNet.org shortly after original publication through EdenFantasys’ website on May 3rd at http://www.alternet.org/story/146774/christian_anti-porn_activists_now_targeting_female_. However, a closer look at the HTML code of the republication shows that each and every link contained within the article points to the same destination: the same article published on SexIs Magazine, as shown in Figure 5.

Figure 5:

Naturally, these syndicated links provided to third-party sites by EdenFantasys are real and function as expected to both human visitors and to search engines indexing the content. The result is “natural,” high-value links to the EdenFantasys website from these third-party sites; EdenFantasys doesn’t merely scrounge pagerank from harvesting the sheer number of incoming links, but as each link’s anchor text is different, they are setting themselves up to match more keywords in search engine results, keywords that the original author likely did not intend to direct to them. Offering search engines the implication that EdenFantasys.com contains the content described in the anchor text, when in fact EdenFantasys merely acts as an intermediary to the information, is very shady, to say the least.

In addition to syndication, EdenFantasys employs human editors to do community outreach. These editors follow up with publishers, including individual bloggers (such as myself), and request that any references to published material provide attribution and a link back to us, to use the words of Judy Cole, Editor of SexIs Magazine in an email she sent to me (see below), and presumably many others. EdenFantasys has also been known to request “link exchanges,” and offer incentive programs that encouraged bloggers to add the EdenFantasys website to their blogroll or sidebar in order to help raise both parties search engine ranking, when in fact EdenFantasys is not actually providing reciprocity.

More information about EdenFantasys’s unethical practices, which are not limited to technical subterfuge, can be obtained via AAGBlog.com.

EDITORIAL

It is unsurprising that the distributed, subtle, and carefully crafted way EdenFantasys has managed to crowd-source links has (presumably) remained unpenalized by search engines like Google. It is similarly unsurprising that nontechnical users such as the contributors to SexIs Magazine would be unaware of these deceptive practices, or that they are complicit in promoting them.

This is no mistake on the part of EdenFantasys, nor is it a one-off occurrence. The amount of work necessary to implement the elaborate system I’ve described is also not even remotely feasible for a rogue programmer to accomplish, far less accomplish covertly. No, this is the result of a calculated and decidedly underhanded strategy that originated from the direction of top executives at Web Merchants, Inc. aka EdenFantasys.

It is unfortunate that technically privileged people would be so willing to take advantage of the technically uneducated, particularly under the guise of providing a trusted place for the community which they claim to serve. These practices are exactly the ones that “the sex shop you can trust” should in no way support, far less be actively engaged in. And yet, here is unmistakable evidence that EdenFantasys is doing literally everything it can not only to bolster its own web presence at the cost of others’, but to hide this fact from its understandably non-tech-savvy contributors.

On a personal note, I am angered that I would be contacted by the Editor of SexIs Magazine, and asked to properly “attribute” and provide a link to them when it is precisely that reciprocity which SexIs Magazine would clearly deny me (and everyone else) in return. It was this request originally received over email from Judy Cole, that sparked my investigation outlined above and enabled me to uncover this hypocrisy. The email I received from Judy Cole is republished, in full, here:

From: Judy Cole <luxuryholmes@gmail.com>
Subject: Repost mis-attributed
Date: May 17, 2010 2:42:00 PM PDT
To: kinkontap+viewermail@gmail.com
Cc: Laurel <laurelb@edenfantasys.com>

Hello Emma and maymay,

I am the Editor of the online adult magazine SexIs (http://www.edenfantasys.com/sexis/). You recently picked up and re-posted a story of ours by Lorna Keach that Alternet had already picked up:

http://kinkontap.com/?s=alternet

We were hoping that you might provide attribution and a link back to us, citing us as the original source (as is done on Alternet, with whom we have an ongoing relationship), should you pick up something of ours to re-post in the future.

If you would be interested in having us send you updates on stories that might be of interest, I would be happy to arrange for a member of our editorial staff to do so. (Like your site, by the way. TBK is one of our regular contributors.)

Thanks and Best Regards,

Judy Cole
Editor, SexIs

Judy’s email probably intended to reference the new Kink On Tap briefs that my co-host Emma and I publish, not a search result page on the Kink On Tap website. Specifically, she was talking about this brief: http://KinkOnTap.com/?p=676. I said as much in my reply to Judy:

Hi Judy,

The URL in your email doesn’t actually link to a post. We pick up many stories from AlterNet, as well as a number from SexIs, because we follow both those sources, among others. So, did you mean this following entry?

http://KinkOnTap.com/?p=676

If so, you should know that we write briefs as we find them and provide links to where we found them. We purposefully do not republish or re-post significant portions of stories and we limit our briefs to short summaries in deference to the source. In regards to the brief in question, we do provide attribution to Lorna Keach, and our publication process provides links automatically to, again, the source where we found the article. 🙂 As I’m sure you understand, this is the nature of the Internet. Its distribution capability is remarkable, isn’t it?

Also, while we’d absolutely be thrilled to have you send us updates on stories that might be of interest, we would prefer that you do so in the same way the rest of our community does: by contributing to the community links feed. You can find detailed instructions for the many ways you can do that on our wiki:

http://wiki.kinkontap.com/wiki/Community_links_feed

Congratulations on the continued success of SexIs.

Cheers,
-maymay

At the time when I wrote the email replying to Judy, I was perturbed but could not put my finger on why. Her email upset me because she seemed to be suggesting that our briefs are wholesale “re-posts,” when in fact Emma and I have thoroughly discussed attribution policies and, as mentioned in my reply, settled on a number of practices including a length limit, automated back linking (yes, with real links, go see some Kink On Tap briefs for yourself), and clearly demarcating quotes from the source article in our editorializing to ensure we play fair. Clearly, my somewhat snarky reply betrays my annoyance.

In any event, this exchange prompted me to take a closer look at the Kink On Tap brief I wrote, at the original article, and at the cross-post on AlterNet.org. I never would have imagined that EdenFantasys’s technical subterfuge would be as pervasive as it has proven to be. It’s so deeply embedded in the EdenFantasys publishing platform that I’m willing to give Judy the benefit of the doubt regarding this hypocrisy because she doesn’t seem to understand the difference between a search query and a permalink (something any laymen blogger would grok). This is apparent from her reply to my response:

From: Judy Cole <luxuryholmes@gmail.com>
Subject: Re: Repost mis-attributed
Date: May 18, 2010 4:57:59 AM PDT
[…redundant email headers clipped…]

Funny, the URL in my email opens the same link as the one you sent me when I click on it.

Maybe if you pick up one of our stories in future, you could just say something like “so and so wrote for SexIs.” ?

As it stands, it looks as if Lorna wrote the piece for Alternet. Thanks.

Judy

That is the end of our email exchange, and will be for good, unless and until EdenFantasys changes its ways. I will from this point forward endeavor never to publish links to any web property that I know to be owned by Web Merchants, Inc., including EdenFantasys.com. I will also do my best to avoid citing any and all SexIs Magazine articles from here on out, and I encourage everyone who has an interest in seeing honesty on the Internet to follow my lead here.

As some of my friends are currently contributors to SexIs Magazine, I would like all of you to know that I sincerely hope you immediately sever all ties with any and all Web Merchants, Inc. properties, suppliers, and business partners, especially because you are friends and I think your work is too important to be sullied by such a disreputable company.

What you can do

  • If you are an EdenFantasys reviewer, a SexIs Magazine contributor, or have any other arrangement with Web Merchants, Inc., write to Judy Cole and demand that content you produce for SexIs Magazine adheres to ethical Internet publication standards. Sever business ties with this company immediately upon receipt of any non-response, or any response that does not adequately address every concern raised in this blog post. (Feel free to leave comments on this post with technical questions, and I’ll do my best to help you sort out any l33t answers.)
  • EdenFantasys wants to stack the deck in Google. They do this by misusing your content and harvesting your links. To combat this effort, immediately remove any and all links to EdenFantasys websites and web presences from your websites. Furthermore, do not—I repeat—do not publish new links to EdenFantasys websites, not even in direct reference to this post. Instead, provide enough information, as I have done, so visitors to your blog posts can find their website themselves. In lieu of links to EdenFantasys, link to other bloggers’ posts about this issue. (Such posts will probably be mentioned in the comments section of this post.)
  • Boycott EdenFantasys: the technical prowess their website displays does provide a useful shopping experience for some people. However, that in no way obligates you to purchase from their website. If you enjoy using their interface, use it to get information about products you’re interested in, but then go buy those products elsewhere, perhaps from the manufacturers directly.

  • Watch for “improved” technical subterfuge from Web Merchants, Inc. As a professional web developer, I can identify several things EdenFantasys could do to make their unethical practices even harder to spot, and harder to stop. If you have any technical knowledge at all, even if you’re “just” a savvy blogger, you can keep a close watch on EdenFantasys and, if you notice anything that doesn’t sit well with you, speak up about it like I did. Get a professional programmer to look into things for you if you need help; yes, you can make a difference just by remaining vigilant as long as you share what you know and act honestly, and transparently.

If you have additional ideas or recommendations regarding how more people can help keep sex toy retailers honest, please suggest them in the comments.

Taking Responsibility, Corporate Style

BLOUNT RESPONDS TO QUESTIONS REGARDING AN EVENT SPONSORSHIP IN RHODE ISLAND.

FALL RIVER, MA (AUGUST 11, 2009) – Corporate philanthropy and good citizenship has been part of Blount’s mission since inception. In keeping with that, we have a long track record of donating Blount-brand chowder and other products to all non-profits in our home area that request it for events. These donations of soup are just simple gestures of goodwill and were certainly not intended to be interpreted otherwise. It’s very concerning to us that anyone would think otherwise and as a result, we are reviewing our policy going forward.

Additionally, Blount notified the organizers of the Rhode Island event in question that the company would not be providing a donation, soup or otherwise.

—————————-

I repeat: it impossible to construe donations for this event as “simple gestures of goodwill” with no ideological ramifications. If BFF gave donations to EVERY cause that sidled up asking for chowder and products, things would be different, but if they are actively picking and choosing who they donate to, that means they are exercising judgment of some sort and knowingly supporting whatever cause they are sponsoring. Being a sponsor of an event has its obligations and implications, and it’s not like NOM is an organization whose mission is not understood, so the mock surprise and concern on the part of Blount Fine Foods is kind of offensive.

But regardless of what Blount Fine Foods has ended up doing, the person I’m most pissed at is Christopher Plante–the Executive Director at NOM, Rhode Island Chapter. I personally believe Mr. Plante is a douchebag. That may be harsh, because I believe everyone has positive attributes…but when it comes to civil rights, respect of freedoms, and championing for justice and fairness? No. He fails. And he’s deceitful and deluded.

In relation to the Tim Horton’s lack of support after a media backlash, Plante said: “They rescinded the offer today as a direct result of the hubbub in Canada,” in this article. “This is an issue only north of the border.” Oh, my mistake. I thought this was an issue in the United States as well. *eyeroll* I don’t care if the local rep for Tim Horton’s approved supporting the event–the company’s policy states that the company “does not sponsor individuals, those representing religious groups, political affiliates, book endorsements or traveling sports teams.” Anyway, my biggest beef with him is because he is, like I said, deceitful and deluded and hypocritical. Let’s start looking at the blatant hipocrisy and ridiculousness, in 3 parts.

—————————-

PART ONE: THIS ISN’T RELIGIOUS OR POLITICAL…except it is.

The celebration will feature food, gospel/worship music, and a chance for couples to renew their wedding vows. It is described (on the event website) thusly: “This is a great opportunity to take a stand for marriage as God ordained it. Our goal is to esteem marriage to its proper place in society and make a statement that Christians in Rhode Island believe strongly in this cherished institution.” *AND YET* Plante says “My concern and my disappointment is that my event has been tainted as religious or political. Neither of those are correct. The event itself was not designed to be political, as a rally would be.” Furthermore, he states that “It’s held by an organization that, whatever you think of our politics, is not religious, we accept folks of all faiths and of no faith.

WHAT?

First of all, because the event isn’t “political as a rally would be” doesn’t mean it’s not political. Having a friendly little barbecue with people who share your beliefs is very different from having a big, advertised, sponsored event that actively seeks to further and celebrate the (VERY POLITICAL) missions of your organization.

Secondly, because you “accept people of all faiths and no faith” doesn’t mean it’s not religious (e.g. a religious/spiritual summit that caters to “everyone,” but is, oh, whaddya know, STILL RELIGIOUS).

And, finally, let’s review the National Organization for Marriage’s mission:

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to protect marriage and the faith communities that sustain it. NOM works to develop political messaging, build its national grassroots email database of voters, and provide political intelligence and donor infrastructure on the state level, with a focus on developing new strategies for increasing influence in the Northeast and West Coast, where marriage is most under threat.

Nothing further with the witness, Your Honor. Hmph.

—————————-

PART TWO: EVERYONE IS WELCOME…except not really.

“We knew full well in opening this event to the public that we were inviting people who might oppose us,” says Plante. “If they choose to come and enjoy the food and beautiful venue, they’re more than welcome. They’re not welcome to come and protest. We’ll expect them to be respectful and treat us with dignity as we would do with them.”‘ Mmm, respect and dignity. I’d love to get some of that from all you NOM people. OH WAIT. You won’t give it to me. 😐

Plante’s main argument against the backlash Tim Horton’s and Blount Fine Foods received was based on the supposed fact that the event was “apolitical and non-religious” and that it was “open to everyone.” While the latter may TECHNICALLY be true, allowing queers to go to an event doesn’t mean they SHOULD go or that they’re HAPPILY INVITED or that they’re even WELCOME. It’s like telling a person of color “oh, hey, you can come to this nifty little KKK gathering.” Honestly. Come on, Plante. You’re not buying it and neither are we.

Plante said that gays and lesbians are welcome to attend the event, and added that if they want to, they may also rise to renew their vows. “If gays and lesbians want to come in with their children, they are more than welcome to come, and make sure they find me, and we’ll have a Coke and sit down and talk.”

What the article neglected to mention was that the queers could stand if they wanted, sure, but that the vows to be taken will be specific to man and woman, to celebrate heterosexual marriage and will not apply to same sex marriages at all. Like I said–allowing someone to attend and event is VERY different than WELCOMING them at it and making them feel comfortable. I’m fine with you having events for your organization (it’s within your right), but just don’t fucking LIE about them.

—————————-

PART THREE: THIS IS ALL ABOUT GAY BULLIES…except it’s not

In regards to Plante’s allegations that “This is about the organized approach to squash all private and public comments on marriage” and that Tim Horton’s had been “bullied by a vocal minority” into pulling out of an apolitical celebration that was “open to all,” including same-sex couples. *facepalm* This is not about squashing dialogue! This is about us asking a company to NOT GET INVOLVED AT ALL or at least OWN UP TO what they’re DOING. This is about us saying that, if they take this route of action, there will be consequences.

It’s within our right to boycott a company whose views we do not agree with, and I feel it’s a perfectly viable way to create pressure for change or just demonstrate our allegiances and funnel money to organizations whose values we agree with. It’s NOT okay for a company to support certain movements and not expect a backlash, and it’s COWARDLY for a company to support something and then back out of it because they fear losing money. I’d prefer a company that is open about the beliefs they espouse than one that flip-flops when the water in the pot starts getting hot. I mean, I’d prefer one that stays out of these debacles in general, or at least supports the side(s) that are all for dialogue and equality and fairness, but that may be asking for much.

“It’s stressful, it’s sorrowful, it’s saddening,” Plante said. “The marriage equality folks are making this a boycott threat. That’s sad. It has become our job now to remind Rhode Islanders that this is what’s to come.” Um…what does that last sentence even mean? Is he implying that we’re crazy gay bullies who will boycott everything we don’t agree with? Because, well, that’s probably true (save for the bullies part). It’s NOT true, however, that we’re bullying people into not having a right to express themselves.

Personally, I think this debate about marriage is totally ridiculous and shouldn’t be happening in the first place. An organization like NOM shouldn’t even exist. Why? Because this is not about agreeing with homosexuality or not–this is about EQUALITY and JUSTICE. Kind of like what Voltaire said: “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” I don’t care if you love me or hate me, but GIVE ME THE SAME RIGHTS. As a human being and citizen of this country, I’m entitled to them.

—————————-

And now, some ranting:

  • You know what I really FUCKING HATE? When people act victimized to gain sympathy. “Omg, halp, I’m a lil’ intolerant Christian douchebag and my religious rights are being taken away from me! Haaaaalp!” No. Your religious rights are not being taken away. Oh, and if by “religious rights” you mean “right to talk shit about others and advocate for inequality and intolerance and even hatred,” then I really think we need to redefine what “rights” mean. If you had half a brain cell you might realize this, but as long as you’re kissing the ass of the “Gathering Storm” ad and NOM and other organizations like it, you won’t notice. No one is taking your rights away by GRANTING RIGHTS TO OTHERS. This is the whole point of people fighting to allow same-sex couples to marry. One doesn’t even have to agree with homosexuality! One just has to agree with the ideals of equality and choice and freedom and civil rights/liberties.
  • Other things I hate–twisting language to gather sympathy and MANIPULATE THE TRUTH. Oh, I’m “pro-family” and “pro-marriage.” Guess what? Me too! But ohhhh, by pro-family you meant MOM AND DAD AND KIDS family and by pro-marriage you meant OPPOSITE-SEX PARTNER MARRIAGE. Oh, my bad. I thought we were on the same boat, being pro-family and pro-marriage and all, but I guess I was wrong. 😐 (That’s the reason why the pro-choice vs. pro-life labels annoy me a bit, but at least those labels make a little more sense.) That’s why I also think NOM’s name itself is stupid. No, you are not “pro-marriage,” you are pro keeping marriage as a solely male-female institution and keeping the links between specific religions and the state alive and well. You are pro denying same-sex couples the right to marry and get the same rights as opposite-sex couples. You are not pro-marriage; you are pro inequality. Let’s talk straight here (no pun intended) and actually say WHAT WE MEAN.

Sex-Ed

Because being a minor doesn’t mean sex isn’t on the brain. 🙂

In fact, it probably means it’s on the brain MORE…and that’s why we need positive, accurate information regarding sexual health, not to mention an eradication of abstinence-only programs that don’t provide the appropriate tools for teens to make their own choices about sex and their bodies. Omitting information and knowingly neglecting to address certain issues and questions is reprehensible!

So here are some resources for the under-18 crowd (or anyone in need of some sweet sex-ed?), courtesy of Violet Blue. 🙂

————–

Don’t believe the hype! Get real sex info on these bad-azz sites.

Just because you’re under 18 doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know the truth about sex, and what other people are asking about it. Plus, a lot of things you hear in school are sex myths and could get you in trouble, so you really need to know what’s up (down there). These sites will tell you all about sex and staying safe, while staying cool with your friends and yourself. Also, if you’re not sure about how you feel about sex, if you might think you’re not like everyone else, or think you know a gay or transgender person (or like WTF gay sex is!?), these sites will tell you what’s up.

They can even help parents get a clue about something you need to tell them, or want to ask about.

Teenwire

Lots of good information about teen sexuality and how to have healthy relationships. Some portions en español. Sponsored by Planned Parenthood.

San Francisco Sex Information

Free and anonymous way to have sex questions answered.

Sex, Etc.

Created by teens for teens. Great info about pregnancy and infection prevention.

Go Ask Alice

Answers tons of questions about almost any sex or relationship related question. Columbia University Health Education Program.

Coalition for Positive Sexuality

Boring name but great info, like why sex feels good, not just STDs and pregnancy prevention. Also en español.

TeenGrowth

General teen health site with medical advisory board. Lots of information.

Advocates for Youth

Do something about how lame sex ed is in school! They have great resources; also en español.

Scarleteen

Excellent sex-positive, realistic info about pleasure and sexuality. Made for all genders but particularly girl-friendly.

Not-2-Late

information about the emergency contraceptive and where/how to get it. Also en español and en français and Arabic.

OutProud

OMG: the National Coalition for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth offers *tons* of info and resources.

The Midwest Teen Sex Show

Super funny video show about everything from older boyfriends to backdoor sex: great teen sex topics (but not how-to’s) and your parents ahould watch it too.

Violet Blue ® 2009. Accept no imitations. Tiny Nibbles copyright 2001-2009.

UPDATE: Student Action Required!

Jaykay. Blount JUST pulled out. 🙂 They haven’t made it public, however, (like I said, this JUST happened) and I’d like to see if they issue a statement. I mean, they SHOULD and probably will…but let’s see. I want to know their official stance on WHY they pulled out. I’d hate it if they just kept quiet about it all. Hmph. Also, it’s important to wait and see what they say because the email reply COULD be open to interpretation, y’know?

Truth Wins Out received the following e-mail from Larry Marchese, public relations representative for Blount Fine Foods of Fall River, Mass.

From: Larry Marchese
Sent: Monday, August 10, 2009 10:06 PM
To: Mike Airhart; Wayne Besen
Mike,
That is correct.
Larry
Sent from my handheld – please forgive typos
—–Original Message—–
From: Mike Airhart
Date: Mon, 10 Aug 2009 20:59:44
To: Larry Marchese, Wayne Besen

Dear Larry,
Thank you very much for your communication. Are you stating officially that Blount Fine Foods is no longer providing cash or goods to National Organization for Marriage or its affiliates for the event in Warwick on August 16?
Many thanks in advance for any definitive clarification.

Mike Airhart
Truth Wins Out

Regardless–wee! The power of consumers + the internet rules. I can now continue to eat my delicious Blue Room New England clam chowder.
———————-

The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is holding an anti-equality event in Providence this Sunday, August 16. NOM is one of the largest groups that is trying to prevent &/or overturn marriage equality. One of the sponsors of this event is Blount Fine Foods, who supplies Brown Dining Services with pre-made soups found in the Gate, Jo’s, and the Blue Room. We wanted to send an e-mail to BFF (lol, BFF) to let them know how we are not happy with the sponsorship of the group responsible for the “Gathering Storm” ad.

Upon receiving complaints about this, Larry Marchese said, on behalf of BFF:

“Corporate philanthropy and good citizenship has been part of Blount’s mission since inception. In keeping with that, we have a long track record of donating Blount-brand chowder and other products to a wide variety of non-profits in our home area that request it for events. These donations of soup are just simple gestures of goodwill and were certainly not intended to be interpreted otherwise. It’s very concerning to us that anyone would think otherwise and as a result, we will review our policy going forward.””

The following is my draft for the email we want to send to Blount Fine Foods. We also want to send it to the local media/newspapers and start circulating it to create a sweet snowball effect. SO, forward it to other Brown students and groups, get support, and tell people to email us so we can do a formal email with a lot of signatures. 🙂 Tim Horton’s in RI was sponsoring the event too, and after a huge backlash, they pulled their support and apologized. Let’s see if we can make this happen again with Blount!

If you or your subgroup/organization (remember, the Queer Alliance itself cannot sponsor any event; this is up to each individual subgroup) would like to be added to this e-mail let us know soon–we want to send this email and start circulating it before the event happens this upcoming Sunday!
——————-

To Whom It May Concern at Blount Fine Foods,

It has come to our attention that your organization is one of the sponsors for the National Organization for Marriage event being held this Sunday, August 16th 2009, at the Aldrich Mansion. While we understand that corporate philanthropy and good citizenship are part of Blount’s mission, and that in attempting to keep with said mission, your organization has a history of donating products to all local non-profits that request it for events, we feel it is impossible to construe donations for this event as “simple gestures of goodwill” with no ideological ramifications. Being a sponsor of an event has its obligations and implications, and thus we urge you to reconsider your support for NOM’s Marriage and Family Day.

Your website lists your non-discrimination policy, which covers many forms of diversity (including sexual orientation), and states that you believe “workforce diversity is essential to the company’s growth and long-term success.” Furthermore, your non-discrimination statement ends with “We further strive to apply these same principles to how we work with business partners, our industry as well as organizations out in the community.” How is it then acceptable to support an event that goes against everything you stand for in that statement and blatantly supports discrimination? How is it logical to espouse fairness and a need for diversity and simultaneously sponsor a fundraiser for the National Organization for Marriage?

This event has a clear religious affiliation and political agenda, which blatantly go against the ideals of non-discrimination and freedom of choice, and thus we feel your promotion of this event is deeply hypocritical. Your sponsorship directly marginalizes a sector of your workforce and clientele, while simultaneously condoning the mission of the National Organization for Marriage–to stand in the way of legalizing same-sex marriage on the basis of certain people’s religious beliefs.

Your decision to contribute to this event is directly relevant to us (members of the Brown University community), not just because our institution has people who identify as LGBTQ and are affected by NOM’s message and goals, but also because your company supplies Brown Dining Services with a variety of goods. If your sponsorship reflects your values and you choose to support the National Organization for Marriage’s efforts, we do not want our dollars going to your business and, by extension, anti-equality groups such as that.

We would appreciate that your company follow Tim Horton’s example: the company has pulled its support for the NOM Rhode Island event and has issued a statement on its website, in which it acknowledges that the event falls outside their sponsorship guidelines (which support fundraising events for non-profit organizations and registered charities, NOT those representing religious groups, political affiliates or lobby groups) and apologizes “for any misunderstanding or inconvenience” caused by the deal.

For all the reasons outlined above, we the undersigned oppose your decision to sponsor the National Organization for Marriage event this Sunday, August 16th, and urge you to reconsider your affiliation to it. In the event that you keep the sponsorship, we will work so that Brown University seriously reconsiders its patronage of your business.

G-mail and Intersectionality

Or, alternatively titled “Why I Love G-mail: Reason Number 69”

Labels. Simple as that.
“What? Aida loving LABELS? Sacrilegious!
No, dear readers. It is true. I love labels (though my relationships with them outside of G-mail is a bit more complicated than that). Labels not only allow me to more effectively organize my virtual correspondence, but their very existence also mirrors my life philosophy (or part of it).

With other email providers (e.g. Hotmail), we must organize our mail into folders. These make us “choose” where to put something, and an email can only be put into ONE folder at a time. This mirrors the realities of archiving physical papers. You can put a paper in a SINGLE folder. If you wanted to have papers in more than one place, you’d need to make copies, and these would just create clutter, and maybe you wanted to change ONE document and then would have to get all the OTHER copies and…yeah. Inefficient. Plus difficult choices have to be made in regards to classifying correspondence–“Is this more of an X or more of a Y? Hmmm. This has such and such thing, but it ALSO has this other thing, and THAT should be in THIS folder, but THIS should be in this OTHER one…”

You see the problem?

Labels, however, allow for things to hypothetically/virtually occupy multiple places at a time. Gone are the days where categories were mutually exclusive and we had to hierarchize an email’s content! We can label emails with “funny,” “financial aid,” “images,” AND “sex” if we so desire. A more visual explanation of how this works: we have a stack of papers, but instead of putting them in folders, we just attach various colored strings to them, so whenever we want papers that are somehow tagged as “blue”, we can pull the blue string and they all come toward us, still with all their other strings attached and intact. The reality is less messy than that explanation, but still. That’s the gist of it. Emails exist in a ‘space,’ and there is only ONE copy of each email…but we can access them through various channels.

And how is all this techno-babble related to my life philosophy? I believe in complexity and things that aren’t mutually exclusive. I don’t like trying to put things in compartments when I know I can only put them in ONE; I hate that hierarchization and inherent denial of intersectionality. I love seeing the connections between things, and the current ways in which we organize our lives are often conducive to the OPPOSITE of that.

I prefer my little boxes with malleable sides, holes, connecting tubes, and glitter.

Some other features I wish non-virtual life had:

– Search function (this would be SO USEFUL when reading books and articles)
– Tags (which are basically just labels…but I feel these are more specific?)
– Zoom feature
– Undo/Ctrl-Z
– Virus protection (just imagine it, during sex–“You’re about to enter an unsafe area. Do you wish to continue? This orifice doesn’t have a security certificate. Your body has detected and blocked an attempted intrusion attempt. Virus protection has detected herpes on this person’s genitals; do you wish to exit the room?”)
– Adjustment slider bars for saturation, contrast, brightness, and hue