Fifty Shades of Nothing A Path To Feminist Empowerment?

I think I am turning into a dreadful cynic.

But when you encounter a load of old tosh that people like Robin Rinaldi peddle as some kind of credible alternative thinking, I reckon you just have to call it for what it is. For those who might never have heard of Robin Rinaldi firstly, you aren’t missing much in the ideas department. There is nothing personal meant by this. It’s her ideas that are under the microscope here. For the sake of clarity, I should enlighten you on who she is. Robin Rinaldi is a journalist and a writer who just published a book called The Wild Oats Project. Now if you unravel the tortured logic which is the premise for this book, Rinaldi is saying that being childless and having promiscuous sex with a lot of different men and some women is an expression of her “femininity” and presumably every other woman who might follow her lead. Sorry I don’t buy it.

Apparently this all stems, or so Rinaldi tells us, from when as a young woman and newly engaged to a man called Scott, she visited a marriage guidance counsellor who in my opinion gave her really, really bad advice. Having said that, I secretly suspect Rinaldi would have charted the course she took irrespective of what anyone might have told her.

Rinaldi wanted children. Her husband to be did not. The marriage guidance counsellor told her: “ I don’t know whether you two will end up having kids. But my feeling, Robin, is that if you eventually want children badly enough, Scott will get on board.”

Funnily enough, Scott did not get on board at all with that idea. Not only did he not get on board, he also had a vasectomy just to make sure. It was then that Rinaldi decided, if she couldn’t have children, then she should at least have lots of sex with different men and women and sometimes men and women together. It doesn’t make any sense but that is what she did.

Now she told husband, Scott about this who, contrary to the reaction that most sane, sensible people might have, agreed to an open marriage for a year.

Let me just place it on the record. I not only understand, but concur with women who say they are completely fulfilled without becoming a mother. These women still have great careers, lives and relationships. Having children is not some necessary exercise in personal completion or wholeness. It is simply a choice. You do or you don’t. Clearly, Robin Rinaldi is not one of these women. For her not having a child has made her bitter, twisted and resentful. And Rinaldi makes no effort to conceal that resentment. She admits to doting on the children of relatives and friends even going to the extent of excusing herself from adult conversation just so that she can go and converse with kids. I don’t think you would be drawing a long bow to say that the Wild Oats project is her attempt at escaping the emptiness she feels at being childless. Instead she takes promiscuous sex as a source of comfort and calls it feminist empowerment.

Rinaldi, now aged 50, tells us that she always considered herself a ‘good girl’ and ‘pretty conservative.’ She had only slept with three other men before she met her husband.

“Sexually, I was experiencing what happens to a lot of women in their late 30s and early 40s … I was approaching my sexual peak and was relaxing into myself,” she told the New York Post. “As the door to motherhood closed, I found myself rushing towards this whole other outlet of heightened female experience – taking lovers,” she said. “I refuse to go to my grave with no children and only four lovers … If I can’t have one, I must have the other.”

Which begs the question why must you? I’m sorry but there is no way logically that this hangs together except in Rinaldi’s headspace.

Rinaldi says, at the start, she and her husband drew up rules for their so-called open marriage: they wouldn’t sleep with mutual friends, get into serious relationships or have unprotected sex. And they would only ever have three dates with each partner.Of course rules are meant to be broken and break them they did.

Under the terms of their agreement, Rinaldi rented an apartment Monday to Friday as a location for her various trysts. On the weekends she returned to her husband where they would live as a married couple without ever asking each other what they did while they were apart.

Rinaldi wrote how she started out by posting an online ad, entitled Good Girl Seeks Experience. In the ad, she wrote: ‘I’m a 44-year-old professional, educated, attractive woman in an open marriage, seeking single men age 35-50 to help me explore my sexuality.’

You can imagine the response. The next day, she had 23 offers.

She tells us her first encounter was with a 40-year-old lawyer, who she slept with in her apartment on the second date. Describing the night, she wrote: ‘We stumbled to the bed, where he turned me onto my hands and knees and took me from behind. ‘We had intercourse twice and, after he left, I felt satiated.’

Next she tried much younger men, and even describes texting her husband goodnight from a Las Vegas hotel room moments after a 23-year-old lover had left the room. Two of her 12 encounters were with women, one of which was a threesome. Describing another encounter, she writes about taking a newfound pleasure in fellatio, which she describes in lurid detail.

Needless to say this has nothing whatsoever to do with ‘feminist empowerment’ and everything to do with selling and marketing her book.

After a year of this, surprise, surprise the marriage to Scott disintegrated and they divorced. Rinaldi was contacted out of the blue, by one of her old lovers. who she says she is now living with in a monogamous relationship, if that can be believed. See, I told you I am a cynic.

Rinaldi writes and we are expected to believe that this experience has given her a new-found inner peace.

She writes: “I’m grateful I experienced my marriage to Scott … but now, for this part of my life, I believe being with someonewho is the most temperamentally like me is where I can learn more. As for not having children, I’m at peace with that, too. “First I channelled the creativity I would have used to become a mom into my sexuality, and then I channelled it into writing my memoir. As my story shows, there are many different ways in life to find passion and fulfillment…… I learned I didn’t need a man or a child in order to experience true womanhood.”

Hang on a minute. Let’s just retrace our steps here.

Rinaldi ends this book and her experience divorced, childless and in a relationship with one of the men she picked up and had an affair with along the way. How could that be described as a net gain? If anything she has gone backwards in terms of her innermost desire. She is never, ever going to have kids. And we are meant to believe this has given her a new found security? I say pull the other one.

If this is the path to enlightenment I am happy to remain in blissful ignorance. But I am not a woman so I don’t count. In any case I don’t think deep down Rinaldi believes any of it.

At the front of the book she dedicates her writing to “Ruby” the child she never had. I rest my case.

Pirate Movie Downloaders. Beware. They’re Coming To Get You

A not so quiet revolution is being played out in the Federal Court of Australia. It’s a legal case with Tsunami like implications that could pretty much engulf most of the world. No, I am not being melodramatic.

In fact this court decision, will result in some unwelcome questions being asked wherever there’s a computer, and a person sitting in front of it, downloading pirated movies. When you put the two together it amounts to a shedload of people. Now do you see where this is a going?

If you still don’t, let me explain.

The case was a commercial action involving the copyright owners of a movie called The Dallas Buyers Club. I can’t profess to know much about the film other than it features some big Hollywood names like Matthew McConaughey, Jennifer Garner and Jared Leto. Clearly it was enough of a box office success for a lot of people to want to download the movie illegally. The copyright owners of The Dallas Buyers Club were understandably pissed that this was happening because it was costing them money. A lot of money. So they decided to do something about it. You could call it a testing of the waters.

In a nutshell, a Federal Court judge ordered several Australian internet service providers, including a very large one called iiNet, to hand over to a film studio, the identities of thousands of account holders whose internet connections were allegedly used to share an unauthorized copy of the Dallas Buyers Club movie. In a landmark judgment, Justice Nye Perram ruled in favour of Dallas Buyers Club LLC’s “preliminary discovery” application requesting that the ISPs disclose the identities of people it alleges shared the movie online.

Preliminary discovery. Such a quaint legal term but in this particular case it means dire consequences for pirate movie downloaders. In addition to iiNet, ISPs Dodo, Internode, Amnet Broadband, Adam Internet and Wideband Networks will also be required to hand over customer details. Even if these ISPs weren’t big companies, even if their list of subscribers was small, the devil is in the detail. It’s the implications of what this decision means that’s important. It is unclear whether iiNet will  appeal the decision before the Full Court of the Federal Court. They have 28 days to do so.

As for the implications, picture this. Thousands of anonymous people sitting in the privacy of their own home, in front of a computer screen all over Australia quietly using applications like Bit Torrent to download pirated versions of first release movies. Their safety net has always been their anonymity. I mean how could anyone trace them? Well guess what? Thanks to this court ruling now they can. Not only can, they will be traced. The ruling means about 4700 Australian internet account holders whose service was used to share Dallas Buyers Club on the internet from as early as May 2013 are soon likely to receive legal letters, from Australian lawyers representing Dallas Buyers Club LLC. These letters will threaten legal action, unless relatively large sums of money are paid for breach of copyright. Now I can hear you thinking. What is he on about? This case only affects 4700 people the man must be dreaming. How can this have worldwide implications? Well my answer to that is don’t think numbers. If you think numbers, you are missing the point. Think precedent. A ruling has now been made about one movie but what is to stop similar rulings being made for each and every pirated movie or video that has ever been downloaded? What is to stop similar courts in similar countries all over the world being asked to make a similar decision? And now that decision has been made in favour of the copyright holder, is it more probable than not that a similar court will make an almost identical ruling? These are very, very big questions.

And as for that letter of demand, the practice commonly referred to as ‘speculative invoicing.’ there are already examples in the United States where letters were sent to ISP account holders threatening legal action claiming they would be liable for damages of up to $US150,000 unless settlement fees of up to $US7000 were paid. No surprise most people paid the $7K. It’s a lot less than 150 grand.

Now the Australian Federal Court decision did come with some provisos. The judge also ordered that the privacy of individuals should be protected, meaning Dallas Buyers Club cannot disclose the identities of letter recipients to a third party.

Some overseas judges have placed caps on the amount of money that can be sought through this out of court process. But Justice Perram did not indicate whether he would do this as part of the letter approving process.

The case, which was heard over three days in February, centred on whether Dallas Buyers Club LLC should be given access to details of internet account holders whose connections it alleges were used to share its movie using peer-to-peer file sharing software. The details to be handed over include names, email and residential addresses of those whose connections were allegedly used to share the movie. So not only do they know who you are, they know where you live. During the case, Michael Wickstrom, vice president of royalties and music administration at Voltage Pictures, the parent company of Dallas Buyers Club LLC, objected to iiNet providing examples of the speculative invoicing letters sent in similar US cases. One of the reasons for his objection might be because those letters, in the minds of some, amount to extortion.

Wickstrom said the format of the letters to be sent to Australian ISP subscribers would be different and worded in such a way that they complied with local laws.

In a remarkable display of generosity, Wickstrom also said the company would not sue or attempt settlement with people suffering from autism people who were disabled, on welfare, or have mental illness.

It should be noted that anti piracy forces are employing sophisticated means to track down illegal downloaders. They employed a German-based pirate hunting company called Maverick Eye UG to identify ISP users who were sharing the movie online. Maverick Eye joined torrent “swarms” sharing Dallas Buyers Club and then tasked its software to log the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses of those who distributed the movie without authorisation and in breach of copyright laws. The software identified a total of 4726 Australian IP addresses.

Dallas Buyers Club LLC then contacted iiNet and other ISPs, asking them to divulge customer details associated with those IP addresses without a court order — but as you might expect the ISPs refused. They know giving over that kind of information is also going to cost them customers. No-one will want to subscribe to an ISP that is going to hand over a customer’s private information.

Dallas Buyers Club LLC then decided to take Federal Court action, to compel the ISPs to disclose customer details through the preliminary discovery application process, which is often used by parties in a case where the identity of the person or company they want to take legal action against, is unknown but can be discoverable through a third-party.

iiNet sought to challenge the request on the grounds that it would lead to alleged infringers being sent letters of demand seeking significant sums of money for an infringement. “We are concerned that our customers will be unfairly targeted to settle any claims out of court using [this] practice,” iiNet said in a blog post. The ISP also argued that customers could be incorrectly and unfairly identified as alleged infringers if details of the account holder were revealed. In other words, the relevant IP address could have originated from a person in a shared household where someone other than the account holder had infringed copyright. iiNet also argued it wanted to fight the matter because Australian courts had never tested a case like this one. But none of these arguments impressed the court.

So, to all those Pirate downloaders out there in cyberspace. Here are some words of warning. They’re coming to get ya.

Everyone’s Getting A Tattoo But I Say Don’t Do It

I’ve a confession to make. I have a prejudice. There I said it. I know I shouldn’t. But I just can’t help myself. I don’t like women getting tattoos. I don’t like men getting them either but women especially. See I’m prejudiced. Generation X and Y are doing it in droves. Almost a third of women in their 20s have a tattoo. That is a frightening statistic because I bet when they all get older it’s going to be regret city. Get this. One third of all people aged between 18 and 30 have a tattoo, according to a researcher at James Cook University in Queensland. According to researcher, Eduardo de la Fuente, tattoos were once the badge of non-respectability. Reserved for prisoners, sailors and people wanting to identify themselves as part of a group operating outside the mainstream. But de la Fuente says that non-respectability began to gradually shift in the 60s and 70s. From the 90s onward it has become so respectable that tattoos are now a fashion statement. We are witnessing an explosion of people inking themselves. Researcher de la Fuente says there is a sociological/psychological reason for this. Fashion and haircuts used to be the principal vehicles for the expression of non-conformity. Now it’s the whole body. And if you are going to make a statement you may as well put it in writing. But they will all live to regret it. Mark my words. That’s not just me saying it. The Australian Consumer Magazine, Choice surveyed people with a tattoo and discovered that one in three regretted it later in life. Too late he cried. I mean why would you in the first place? Not only is it ugly, it’s painful and pretty permanent. Fortunately, there’s been a steady proliferation of clinics that specialize in tattoo removal. “Traditionally a tattoo was about belonging to a community where you expected to live your entire life,” Dr de la Fuente said. “But now people have several different personas and belong to several different tribes in their lifetime. As you get older there may be a new persona you wish to convey instead.” Ok. So grow a beard or get a dog if you really want you to be a different you. Eduardo de la Fuente asked a bunch of young women why they felt the need to have a tattoo. Lauren, 25, she says got a tattoo because it was something meaningful ( or should that be meaningless) to her, her mum and her sister. “It was a bonding experience for us but I think a lot of girls do it these days because their role models are doing it and it’s cheap, trendy and another way to distinguish yourself.” A quick look at young celebrity women show a kaleidoscope of inked body parts. Glee’s Lea Michelle has 14 tattoos, pop sensation Miley Cyrus reportedly has more than 20 while at last count singer Rihanna had 21 tattoos. But it’s not just young women getting in on the act. A recent trend has seen an increase in the number of people over the age of 45 getting a tattoo. According to Eduardo de la Fuente it suggests the “aestheticisation of the body” is becoming more popular even among middle-aged people. Now I’m really starting to lose hope. Famous actors Cate Blanchett and Amy Adams apparently celebrated their Oscar victories last year by heading to a famous Hollywood tattoo parlour, while 80-year-old actress Dame Judi Dench recently revealed that even she has a tattoo. Yeah right. A documentary which is due to be broadcast on Australian television later this month will show a vast cross-section of society getting inked at a tattoo parlour at Sydney’s famous Bondi Beach. Everyone from mums, to grieving grandmothers, to Dads celebrating the birth of their first child take part. The stories paint what I would call the nightmare scenario of one in seven Australians who get inked at some point in their lifetime. See, we truly are a nation of convicts. Heidi Haydon is one of the tattooed taking part in the documentary. Her obsession with tattoos kicked in after she was left paralysed from the chest down following a motorbike accident. “I used to draw tattoos and always wanted one but mum always talked me out of it,” she said. “But after leaving hospital following the crash, I decided to go ahead and do it, and mum even got one too.” I’ve only got three words to say. Ok. Six. Dumb, dumb, dumb don’t do it.

Serendipity. Rescued Baby Becomes Rescuer

Life can be completely serendipitous. Most of what happens to us, coincidence-wise, is usually the opposite. It’s someone cursing or lamenting terrible misfortune. But occasionally, just occasionally, the magic wand of serendipity waves in our general direction and comes as incredibly welcome, good news. Yes good news. There is such a thing Dorothy, and it’s not a lot of make believe like the Wizard of Oz and those supposed magic red shoes of yours. It’s good news and it’s real.The kind of good news that causes spirits to soar and hope to renew.

The story begins 30 years ago in the pediatric ward of a hospital in Orange County, California. Pediatrician Michael Shannon has a battle on his hands. A baby boy has been born several weeks premature. The child weighs less than a kilo and only has a 50/50 chance of survival. But Shannon is not giving up. He is determined to save this young life. And that is what he sets out to do. Providing, round the clock treatment until the baby boy’s health improves and he is out of danger. Shannon doesn’t know the child’s name. Even if he does, he won’t remember. It’s all in a day’s work for Michael Shannon. He is modest but, by all accounts, as Doctors go, Michael Shannon is pretty special. Now you might think this is the end of the good news story but if you did you would be wrong. It is only the beginning.

Fast forward to 2015. Michael Shannon is driving along the Pacific Coast Highway, in California when he is T-boned by a truck and semi-trailer. It is a serious crash, which Shannon is lucky to survive. But Michael Shannon is still in serious trouble. His SUV is crushed under the truck and Shannon is trapped inside the cabin, unable to move. Worse still his SUV is beginning to catch fire. Fire fighters from Paramedic Engine 29 are returning to base from another call when they hear of Michael Shannon’s emergency. They respond within minutes and arrive at the scene to discover the SUV is now fully ablaze and the flames are burning Michael Shannon’s legs. The fire crew, quickly begin extinguishing the flames but one of the crewman is focused on rescuing Michael Shannon and won’t give up until he has completed the job. He begins by using the Jaws Of Life cutting equipment to slice through the metal, creating a hole large enough for Michael Shannon to be pulled through. It is a slow process but in the end he is successful. However, the fire fighter who had doggedly cut through steel to rescue Michael Shannon isn’t done. He then helps to carry his patient to a waiting ambulance and to hospital for emergency surgery.

Shannon is seriously injured and will take 45 days to recover. Two of his toes have to be amputated but he is alive thanks to the quick work of his rescuers, and by one of them in particular. The name of that rescuer, who cut Michael Shannon free, is Chris Trokey. He decides to visit his patient in hospital and it is then that both men discover serendipity. It turns out Chris Trokey is the premature baby that Michael Shannon worked so diligently to save 30 years ago. The baby he rescued became his rescuer. And for Michael Shannon it was nothing short of incredible. “It’s amazing to watch them all grow up, but to have one come back in your life, on a day you really need it, that’s really incredible,” Shannon said. Chris Trokey was equally dumbfounded when the penny finally dropped about his connection with Michael Shannon. “I didn’t know about it until I went to the hospital and started talking about it, Dr. Shannon. And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, Dr. Shannon?’” Trokey said. “That’s when I found out.”

And serendipity even has a way of coming full circle. Chris Trokey is now a father himself. And guess who his child’s pediatrician now is? You guessed it. Michael Shannon. Ah serendipity. You’ve got to love it.