The A-word

Gynoid Brain

I’ve spent the last several days away from both Second Life and Discord, to recharge my mind and body. I had a lot of thinking to do.


I now realise that I’d misread what happened to Kittlen in her Gorean roleplay. And that wasn’t helped by my not being receptive and understanding. I withdrew at the moment when Kittlen needed me most. 🙁

But this is only the most recent example of where I’ve been going wrong in our D/s relationship. Kittlen has been begging me to get into her head via hypnosis, to help her heal from her past traumas. But I’ve held back. Partly out of fear of triggering bad memories, and partly from a lack of confidence in my abilities.

And there is another factor that has been affecting our relationship.

Autism.

I have it. Kittlen has it too. We are both on the spectrum, though our conditions manifest in different ways. Neither of us were ever diagnosed. And for Kittlen it’s more of a challenge because autism in girls isn’t as well understood or accepted.

Kittlen, to her credit, does a much better job of managing her autism than I do. She has had to, as a wife and mother.


I know that I saw speech therapist when I was very young, because I was non-communicative for so long. And I had problems with learning at school, which required a lot of remedial help. I have some of the reports from then, which my mother kept. But it wasn’t called autism. I was slow, shy, lacking confidence, and many other things. But the people who saw and tested me just did what the could and hoped that I’d grow out of it of my own account. Autism wasn’t really known about back then.

I didn’t grow out of it. I struggled on, through school and university, with mixed success. I found work, and even enjoyed some of it. But deep down inside, I know that there was something different about me. I found socialising difficult, and when I was under pressure I’d often shut down.

I kept going, but never had much idea where I was going, or where I wanted to go.

Voluntary redundancy in 2012 ended that journey. Although I was able to set myself up in self-employment, it was and remains a struggle for me. In the last few years, I’ve finally gotten steady money coming in, although not even close to enough for me to thrive. My family has supported me as much as they can. But I’ve been beset by bouts of depression and despair.


It wasn’t until a few years ago that I made the connection and realised that I have autism. A lot of stuff that had happened to me now made sense. But I still wasn’t sure how to move forward, and paralysed by fear.

Then my Dad got diagnosed with terminal illness, and my whole life got shook up.

Kittlen got to see and hear me during that time. She later told me how she could see my brain shutting down and restarting as I tried to process what was happening. As I took on more and more of the burden of caring for my Dad, I started having lots of flares. My brain would freeze due to being so overwhelmed.

Somehow, I managed to keep going, although my life was pretty much on hold.


It has been just over four months since Dad passed away, and I’m in a much better place now mentally and physically. But in the process, I’ve lost a lot of confidence, and I’m still recovering it. Kittlen has had to remind me of all the work I did back when I started to Dom her, and made her fall into my arms.

I have a lot of ground to cover again, to get our D/s relationship back to where it was. Then I need to find the courage and strength to push forward and help Kittlen with her own healing.

I also need to get help with managing my autism. Knowledge and understanding of the condition has advanced since my childhood. But to tap into that, I will need to get some kind of diagnosis. That will need a conversation with a GP, and a referral to a specialist. And that in turn requires me to find the courage to ask for help. To be frank, that terrifies me, but I’ve gone as far as I can with self-help and self-care.

Kittlen has several times told me that I should let her go, that she is hurting me with the pain of her own issues. But I’ve told her I’m in this for the long haul. Why? Because confronting her problems makes me confront my own. Because her perspective on my behaviour has shown my facets of myself that I’d never knows. Because I really, genuinely love her, even if her pain and anguish sometimes overwhelms me. And because I see how far we’ve both come, and how much we’ve helped one another over the years.

I know it won’t be easy. I know I’ll falter at times, and want to give up. But I have to see this through, for both our sakes. I truly believe that Kittlen is my soulmate. I’ve never felt this deeply about anyone else before.

I have an appointment on Friday, to have blood tests done. I’m going to ask who I should speak to about autism and getting diagnosed.

I’m turning my life around. Little things, every day, adding up over time. I now know what the problems are, where they are. I finally feel like I’m starting to take control of my destiny. It’s still early days, but I’m hopeful.

Renewal

One step forward, one step back, it seems, since my last blog post.


The threat of Brexit has receded somewhat for the time being, although I’m not holding out hope of any breakthrough soon in terms of ending this mess. Still, it means that other stories are now the focus of the news programmes.


Kittlen’s health remains a concern, both mental and physical, and that is continuing to have a knock-on effect on me. 🙁 It hasn’t been helped by some recent incidents in Second Life.

One was the return of Coyote, after being MIA for many months. She’s back doing DJ sets at both CFNM and Boudiccea. Kittlen was a bit annoyed, because Coyote has seemingly been accepted back as if her long absence was nothing of concern. Speaking for myself, I’m just bemused.

Kittlen also suspects that Coyote is trying to worm her way back into our lives because she misses the support we used to give her. But she’s out of luck if that’s so, because that ship sailed away long ago.

One thing that hasn’t changed, from what I heard and saw the few times I went to see Coyote perform, is her DJ-ing ability. In other words, she’s still where she was two or more years back, while both myself and Kittlen have raised our game several notches.


The other incident was more recent, and involved Gorean roleplay. Kittlen had been begging me to let her go play in the Gorean sims, and I reluctantly agreed after meeting and chatting to a mistress who was willing to take Kittlen under her wing.

However, things didn’t work out, and one scene in particular saw Kittlen safewording and screaming for me to come hold them. Eventually, I got the full story about what had happened from the mistress, Tasha. The rules of the Gorean sim required that Kittlen be branded as Tasha’s slave (for roleplay purposes—it was understood by all concerned that Kittlen was my girl) so that nobody else could try and claim her. But it brought back bad memories for Kittlen, and she bolted.

This put me in an uncomfortable position, as I had to apologise to Tasha for Kittlen’s breaking of the roleplay. Apparently, there had been other aspects of the roleplay that she’d not been willing to accept, and Tasha and the other roleplayers were tired of having to try and accommodate her behaviour.


All of this meant that I was starting to feel frazzled again, right when I needed to knuckle down and do my day-job in the real world. Thankfully, that went through without any major hitches, but worrying about Kittlen has not helped my mood, because I’m constantly dreading more bad news. 🙁

So I’ve made the decision to step away over Easter in order to recharge my batteries, and give myself time and space to decide my next moves. Kittlen doesn’t like it, but has agreed that I need the break. I know she’ll keep trucking as best she can. I just hope that we can reconnect somehow, and do so in a way that helps us both grow and move forward.

Feeling Blue

"Keep Calm And Carry On" poster

Apologies for the lengthy silence. Unfortunately, the ongoing flaming-clown-car-crash that is the UK Government and its attempts to foist a rubbish Brexit deal onto an unwilling Parliament (and by extension the British people) has sapped my spirits this month. We should have had a General Election by now, but for their own selfish reasons the Conservatives are clinging to power and refusing to recognise their disfunction.

Continue reading “Feeling Blue”

Google’s Digital Dementia

I read a rather depressing post by Bacchus over at ErosBlog the other day.

As if we didn’t have enough problems, there’s a mounting body of evidence that Google now has an attention span somewhat shorter than ten years. After ten years or so, Google forgets things. Or, perhaps, Google just can’t be bothered to index these older web pages, because there’s no money in it.

Bacchus isn’t the first to come across this phenomenon. Tim Bray encountered something similar in 2018, and Marco Fioretti expanded upon Bray’s findings. And a year earlier in 2017, Tony Hirst applied the “dementia” term to it.

Bacchus writes further:

[…] Hirst posits that Google is getting both paranoid (because of SEO and other factors) and forgetful. To Hirst, Google seems rooted in the past, crediting signals of link authority that people are mostly not using these days (publication of links on websites) and not able to properly weight or remember the social media signals that accompany most links modernly. It’s a different problem to be sure from the one that Bray and Fioretti highlighted, but the terminology seems applicable here too.

My observations, from my perspective inside the adult/porn parts of the web, are parallel with Hirst’s. Google’s digital dementia is even more severe with respect to adult URLs, because our #pornocalypse-driven exclusion from so much social media means that our links are automatically absent from so many of Google’s modern page quality signals and ranking algorithms.

Bacchus uses screenshots to show the results of various searches for specific content from his blog from Google, compared to the same searches done in Bing.

I stopped using and relying on Google many years ago, and now use DuckDuckGo for most of my searching online. It seems that I made the right call, but I worry about the long-term implications for the Internet as a whole when Google—and Facebook, Twitter and others—have so much control over what we see and find online.

A Valentine Message To Mine

Cuddling at the Gor Hub in Second Life

Mine, you make my heart beat faster whenever I see your name appear in my direct messages or notification.

Mine, you are my inspiration, and sometimes my exasperation.

Mine, your pain and hurt is so great, your wounds so deep, that sometimes I wonder if I can ever help you heal. Yet I persevere, guided by the conviction that I shall not be like the others, those who toyed with, abused, abandoned you before.

Mine, you have taught me what it is to love with all of my heart. I did not know I could feel this way again, and had thought that I’d forever remain alone.

Mine, your passions entwine with mine in so many wondrous ways; music, storytelling, artistry, humour and more.

Mine, though our respective physical bodies may be imperfect, and separated by an ocean and a continent, our avatars, our virtual forms, have shared so many great moments and places together. And I hope for many more.

My dollie, my treecat, my girl, it is my honour and privilege to call you Mine, and I hope to be able to do so for many more years.

<3

Cuddling at the Gor Hub in Second Life
Cuddling at the Gor Hub in Second Life

Farewell, Tumblr

The #Pornapocalypse has officially claimed Tumblr.

Bacchus, the proprietor and scribe of ErosBlog, was the first in my newsfeeds to bear the tidings:

It’s official: Tumblr has banned porn, effective December 17, 2018. Rest in obscurity, Tumblr.

What exactly is Tumblr banning? Here’s what the article linked above has to say on the matter:

Is adult content allowed on Tumblr?

Starting Dec 17, adult content will not be allowed on Tumblr, regardless of how old you are. You can read more about what kinds of content are not allowed on Tumblr in our Community Guidelines. If you spot a post that you don’t think belongs on Tumblr, period, you can report it: From the dashboard or in search results, tap or click the share menu (paper airplane) at the bottom of the post, and hit “Report.”

What is “adult content?”

Adult content primarily includes photos, videos, or GIFs that show real-life human genitals or female-presenting nipples, and any content—including photos, videos, GIFs and illustrations—that depicts sex acts.

What is still permitted?

Examples of exceptions that are still permitted are exposed female-presenting nipples in connection with breastfeeding, birth or after-birth moments, and health-related situations, such as post-mastectomy or gender confirmation surgery. Written content such as erotica, nudity related to political or newsworthy speech, and nudity found in art, such as sculptures and illustrations, are also stuff that can be freely posted on Tumblr.

What will happen to my adult content already on Tumblr?

We will send out email notices to members of the Tumblr community whose content has been flagged as adult. If your post has been flagged as adult, it will be reverted to a private setting viewable only by you. If you want to learn more about how to see those posts, see this help article.

As always, please make sure the email associated with your Tumblr account is one you use regularly. It’s how we get in touch when we need you!

My content was flagged as adult, but I don’t think it should be. What should I do?

If you feel that we have categorized your post incorrectly, you can appeal this decision using the button on the post in question. Please note that this process is only possible to complete on the web or the Tumblr Android app version 12.2 or later to review your flagged content. If you are on iOS, please use the web to appeal for now.

Read more about how to review your content and appeal here.

What if my blog (not to be confused with posts) was marked as “explicit” before December 17, 2018?

Blogs that have been either self-flagged or flagged by us as “explicit” per our old policy and before December 17, 2018 will still be overlaid with a content filter when viewing these blogs directly. While some of the content on these blogs may now be in violation of our policies and will be actioned accordingly, the blog owners may choose to post content that is within our policies in the future, so we’d like to provide that option. Users under 18 will still not be allowed to click through to see the content of these blogs. The avatars and headers for these blogs will also be reverted to the default settings. Additionally, posts from these blogs are kept out of search results.

You can check and see if your blog is marked as explicit per our old policy in your visibility settings. If you think your blog has been erroneously marked as explicit, learn how to appeal here.

Needless to say, there has been some amusement, and bewilderment, at what exactly a “female-presenting nipple” is. But on a more serious note, the content filtering is being done by an automated system across the whole of Tumblr. And, as is invariably the case with automated systems trying to determine what is ‘offensive’ content, it isn’t really working that well.

Petrana Radulovic, writing at Polygon, had a look at some of the automated system’s decisions:

It’s so botched that completely innocent posts are coming up as flagged. Seems that if it’s vaguely flesh-colored or has shapes resembling humans, the post might be marked as inappropriate. All this nice fan art? Flagged.

This heartwarming moment on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood? Not for young eyes.

Though Tumblr insisted that art and sculpture would be protected, its algorithm says otherwise.

Even if the content doesn’t contain any humans, it’s suspect.

Many posts depicting LGBTQ individuals have also reportedly been flagged. This, and likely other family-friendly content that’s marked explicit, appears to be the result of the algorithm’s incompetence versus a deliberate measure on Tumblr’s part. The labeling has been wildly inconsistent across the board, but nothing can be confirmed.

Oh so poetically and ironically, an article on censor bots that accidentally declared desert pictures as pornography also got flagged.

As I mentioned at the top of this blog post, I downloaded all of my Tumblr content and deleted my blog last month, because I could see that the writing was on the wall. (On the plus side, Tumblr does provide a means to take your content with you. On the minus side, that could mean downloading a lot of data, if, like me, you’ve been using and posting to Tumblr for a long time.)


This is the culmination of the process that has been underway, in fits and starts, ever since Tumblr ceased to be an independent operator following its acquisition by Yahoo. At first, it was just ‘glitches’ that happened to block posting of content containing adult links that Tumblr/Yahoo didn’t approve of. But in the last year or so, it became a lot more blatant.

Bacchus, from ErosBlog, has chronicled each turn of the screw. First, they blocked adult Tumblr blogs from non-logged in users and those who were logged in but in Safe Mode (enabled by default).

Put it another way: Verizon/Yahoo/Tumblr is sweeping the porn Tumblrs under the rug, or to put it another way, is locking it inside their walled-garden data silo. Your porn Tumblrs will no longer be a part of the open web. They will become invisible to the broad universe of everyone who is not (a) already a member of the Tumblr community and (b) willing to be logged while they surf their Tumblr porn so that their porn surfing habits can be more readily tracked and aggregated across all their different devices, IPs, VPNs, and fap sessions.

Then they removed adult blogs from the view of the search engines.

So it is now official. The ghetto walls are up and the gates are closed. The adult-Tumblr community is no longer part of the open web. The #pornocalypse has claimed another social media victim.

At this point, most links to Tumblr content became next to useless; if you’re not signed up and logged into Tumblr, you’ll be dumped at the sign-up / login screen. The Internet Archive might have copies of some content in its Wayback Machine, but that is fragmentary and incomplete.


I decided enough was enough when I realised that Tumblr had stopped offering RSS feeds for blogs within their walled garden (as it now is.) Some that I’d plugged into my feed-reader of choice beforehand still worked, but attempts to add more Tumblr blogs either produced no RSS feed or one that didn’t work.

I’ve been on Tumblr since 2013, and in that time I made a lot of friends and discovered some really good artists and creators. Sadly, because I decided to mark my blog as ‘adult’ just in case, it was corralled into the ghetto by Yahoo, and by Verizon who bought both Yahoo and AOL and smashed them together to create Oath (dumb name). A lot of people who I followed over there will now be effectively homeless unless they had the foresight to buy a domain name and web hosting for their own site.

It could have been a lot different. Part of the reason why so many creators of adult and erotic content joined Tumblr was because they were willing to tolerate NSFW material at a time when the other social networks were busily cracking down on the same content and the people creating it.


I’ll leave the last word to Bacchus, who wrote this in 2013:

They are quietly and dishonestly hostile to adult content in general and to adult marketing and self-promotion in particular, even when that marketing complies with their community guidelines in every particular. Which is a nice intro to this morning’s sermon on The Catechism of Bacchus:

  1. Tumblr is, at the end of the day, a blogging service.
  2. As I’ve been saying since at least 2004, blogging services suck.
  3. This is Bacchus’s First Rule and it remains the rule: Anything worth doing on the internet is worth doing on your own server that you control.
  4. You will be tempted to ignore The Rule because of social media network effects.
  5. You may even feel forced to ignore it, because you can’t get enough attention on your own platform.
  6. When you disregard the rule (and everybody does, even me who wrote it) you will get burned.
  7. Count on it. Plan for it. The Pornocalypse Comes For Us All.

Permission to Speak

hand write open notebook mockup

Four days into NaNoWriMo, and I have a grand total of… zero words. Some notes and prompts, yes, but no actual writing.

Kittlen is frustrated at me because I’m not writing. But she forgets just how easy it is for her to conjure up words, and how hard it is for me.

Part of that is from my childhood. I’ve always been quiet. I didn’t even start to speak until I was 4 to 5 years old, and that was with help from a speech therapist. I was put into a remedial class at primary school because I was having trouble learning language, writing and maths. The last one was particularly problematic.

I got lucky when I turned 10—my then-headmaster was able to pull some strings and help me get a bursary to attend an independent school where I could get more intensive teaching. The only downside? It was a boarding school, on the other side of England from where I grew up.

Still, it worked, kinda. I finally grokked maths, and when the school opened its computer lab, I was immediately hooked. But my writing fell by the wayside, as did my artistic skills outside of some stuff I made in woodwork and metalwork classes.

I did eventually get my art going again later on in life when I got given a cheap second-hand copy of Photoshop and subsequently got roped into doing artwork preparation at my then-workplace. I forced myself to learn Photoshop, Illustrator, CorelDraw and other software, and gradually refined my techniques so I could make artwork that would print or display correctly on whatever medium it needed to go. That got me into video editing, DVD authoring and basic web design as I was asked to take on more roles.

My writing took longer to come back, but I did start blogging on-and-off in the early 2000s. But I stuck to talking about things in the news, mostly technology stuff. I didn’t put down on paper or screen any of the stories in my head. I think that, deep down, I was scared of being mocked and ridiculed. I’d been bullied during my school years, called a weirdo and a retard because I struggled with some subjects and was prone to daydreaming. (I now know that this was part of my autism, but at the time I’d not been diagnosed because it wasn’t as well understood and accepted.)

It’s only within the last few years that I’ve been able to start writing for myself, developing my own ideas. And that is still not easy for me. To paraphrase from the Police song ‘Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic’:

But my silent fears have gripped me

Long before I reach the phone.

Long before my tongue has tripped me.

Must I always be alone.

In that context, just announcing on NaNoWriMo that I have an idea for a novel is a significant achievement for me. It may be just a placeholder, a project file, but it’s something I can poke at when I get a chance.

As a result of being first a software developer and then a graphic designer, I’ve learned to start with an outline of what I want, then iterate on that, adding more and more detail, until I have something solid and whole. I do something similar in my fiction writing. Kittlen is the opposite, she dumps her ideas on the page, then later on figures out how to string them together.

And I have another means now to get my writing going. After a few false starts, I am writing in a personal journal. Well, it’s a collection of text files that are synchronised between my devices, but it is organised by year and month, and I’m forcing myself to write every day. I hope that I’ll get the habit to a point where it becomes more comfortable for me to capture my daydreams and random thoughts.

I am giving myself permission to speak.

I’m Doing NaNoWriMo

The other day I told Kittlen that I’d had an idea for an origin story for Spitfire.

“That’s it. You’re doing NaNoWriMo.” was her response.

Gulp!

Kittlen has done NaNoWriMo for several years, using the stuff she has written in the past in her older blogs as starting points.

I actually created a profile last year, but didn’t do anything with it because I didn’t have a clue what to write.

Truth be told, I don’t really have much more than a vague outline of what I think my story might be at the moment.

But I’ve made a project file in Scrivener, and I’m going to dump whatever I can come up with into there.

I very much doubt that I’ll have 50,000 words in there by the end of the month. But as Kittlen pointed out, the important thing is that I try. It’s going to be tough, as I’ll have to find time from all of the other things that I need to do. Paid work and caring for my father take priority, and those will both sap my energy.

Anyway, I have a working title, ‘The Unchosen’, and a synopsis of sorts.

For as long as anyone can remember, there has been peace and prosperity across the Federation. But as the great and the good of many worlds gather on the planet Excelsia to celebrate the continuance of the Golden Age, one Excelsian is about to expose the dark secrets that underpin this apparent galactic idyll, and the lengths to which the keepers of those secrets will go to maintain their control.

The Excelsians are famed for their mastery of nanotechnology, which has made them the principal peace-keepers and mediators within the Federation. But can a race that has used nano-cybernetics to cure diseases, avert famines and even bring dying worlds back to life be trusted not to abuse that power?

When the once-engineered becomes an inherited trait, the engineers of the Federation’s ‘peace’ must face the progeny that is no longer of their design – the Unchosen.

A story of morality and consent, power and corruption, from the cellular level to the ends of the galaxy and beyond.

I did read a lot of science fiction in my youth, so I have that going for me. Asimov’s Foundation and Robots series, Frank Herbert’s Dune series, and Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat books, in particular. I suppose Spider Robinson’s books count too. But I’ve not read any of those in quite a while. That might be a good thing, though, as I don’t want to be overly influenced and derivative.

Wish me luck?

Tubthumping

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCkmIyC6v00

I get knocked down
But I get up again
You’re never gonna keep me down
—Chumbawamba, ‘Tubthumping’

Fun fact: over on another website where I had a profile, I would using song titles or lyrics for the names of my journal entries. 🙂 Continue reading “Tubthumping”

Separated

Around the time I was finalising my previous blog post, the shit well and truly hit the fan. Kittlen threw Penalt out of their home. Then she left a message in the family group telling them to protect me and left. She also left YouMustObey, removed all of her stuff from my land parcel in Second Life, and un-collared herself from me on there too.

Coming in rapid succession, I was walloped and left reeling for a while. Thankfully, other family members reached out to check on and comfort me.

The problems between Kittlen and Penalt had been brewing for a long time, but Coyote’s actions brought it to the boil. The last straw had been her collaring of Penalt without warning or consultation. Kittlen flipped out and told Penalt he had to choose between her and Coyote. He decided to pick Coyote. Continue reading “Separated”