I've just been away for a couple of days, visiting my dying grandmother in Wales.  There was nine inches of snow yesterday and another nine overnight, and the house didn't have any electricity (and had an electric hob).  We weren't close, but it was stressful and painful.  Not rage inducing, obviously, although watching my father make excuses for her bullying wasn't nice.

Then today I got back and found out that a trans woman committed suicide after being hounded in the daily mail by Richard Littlejohn.  I also discovered that the press complaints commission is doing nothing at all about Julie Burchill and her outbreak of hate speech earlier this year.  I gather some people are worried about the prospect of an independant public body imposing rules on the press.  Personally I'm in favour.  Watching the press abide by guidelines (except when they feel like breaking htem) that don't do anything at all (broken or not) isn't my idea of effective regulation.

Hello

Mar. 4th, 2013 10:08 pm
Someone said hello to me, from a car, on Sunday, down near the university.  I waved back but I couldn't see who it was, so hello whoever you are. :-)

storytime

Feb. 26th, 2013 07:36 pm
This is a non-canonical Changeling story.  Because I think I'm funny sometimes.

The story )
I don't write much on here.  Mostly that's because of depression, illness, etc etc.  I don't do a lot that's worth writing about, and the stuff I do do would probably qualify as "too much information" in most cases.  Even when I do write, I don't usually put it up on here because frankly it's pretty miserable reading and I don't want to bring you all down.  Mardy people complaining all the time about personal issues are not good company, and I do try to be good company.

But now I feel I have to write, because something bad is happening and you ought to know.  This one is and isn't personal - it's a media event which happens to impact more on me than most of you.

On the 8th of January a journalist by the name of Suzanne Moore was writing about women's anger.  Good topic!  Can't fault it.  The rest of her article was somewhat overshadowed when she included the sentence "We are angry with ourselves for not being happier, not being loved properly and not having the ideal body shape – that of a Brazilian transsexual."  Now, there's a language issue there (transsexual is an adjective, not a noun), there's transphobia in the part where a "Brazilian transsexual" apparently cannot possibly be a woman, and there's also the rather serious point that Brazil has a horrible record for transphobic hate crimes.

This last point was underlined on the 11th, when a Brazilian trans woman was murdered.  Apparently the body shape of a "Brazilian transsexual" is not considered ideal in Brazil, where it gets you shot.

So, some people pointed out to Ms Moore that her phrasing had some problems.  Her responses were impolite.  There was an argument, on the internet!  So far, so unsurprising.  Then she flounced off twitter, screaming about how she'd been "hounded" off.
I've left and indeed flounced out of internet environments before.  However I've never claimed to be hounded off.  Reading is after all a voluntary thing.  So her response was an immature strop, but that's an aside.

It should have ended there, but no, this one is still running.  Suzanne's good mate Julie Burchill, the semi-famous troll-for-hire, then wrote a piece I'm not going to link to.  It was basically a page of second-rate hate speech.  I say second rate because she didn't manage a single original insult, despite putting a lot of effort in.  Nonetheless, it was quite unpleasant in intent, even if the intended targets are like me quite inured to such things.  The Observer published it, then retracted it with an apology.  The Guardian published it on the internet (and similarly retracted, though without an apology), and it's now hosted in various places.  You can go and look, if you want a taste of trans living.

So far so stupid.  Journalist has troll friend, who cares?  Well, since the Observer pulled the piece, there has been more commentary on that.  Apparently "freedom of speech" is an important thing, and it is crucial for the preservation of "freedom of speech" not only for Julie Burchill to be allowed to write pages of crude insults but for said insults to be printed in national newspapers.  This is very important, for the good of the nation!  Especially when said insults are about trans women!  If national newspapers stop printing pages of crude insults about trans women just because it causes intolerance and encourages hate crimes towards us, then apparently civilisation will fall.  Nick Clegg apologised last year because an unused draft of a speech called some people bigots (despite it being literally true), but when it's trans women being referred to as men with their dicks cut off apparently it's all just fine.

So far we have hostile pieces in the Guardian, Observer, Telegraph, the Independent, the Spectator, and probably more by the time you see this because I don't like to read newspapers any more and so I won't have noticed.  There have been a few articles supporting trans people, mostly on feminist or LGBT websites.

So what's the conclusion?  Well, I'm going to ask you to do something.  Please, if you consider transphobia a serious problem in the world, take a few minutes to compose a letter or email to these papers.  Write to them and ask them to stop doing it.  Tell them you aren't going to buy their papers because of it.

Because really, "freedom of speech" is a different thing from "being allowed to bully people who are already being bullied".
...then happy christmas.  And if you don't, then happy random day of no significance.
So, it turns out that people recruiting for Science! jobs are just going with their feelings and assuming that people with male names are more competent:
http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2012/09/14/1211286109#aff-1

weird links

Nov. 1st, 2012 12:18 am
Random words seem to be turned into links to a site that claims to give away ipads.  Is this some kind of malware?

ETA:  Fixed.  Seems it's a firefox add-on that adds itself without asking.  But you can remove it in the add-ons menu, so it's not so bad.

Clothes!

Oct. 9th, 2012 11:57 pm
So then I had an idea for an outfit.  It would involve a certain amount of sewing, but I can handle that.  Then I realised it would cost the best part of twenty quid in make-up.  Of course, I'd still have that afterwards, but it's not like I'm going to use it a lot.

Hmmm... tricky choices.  Maybe I can make this a bit cheaper and still do it.  Or just wear a lycra mask or something.

religion

Oct. 3rd, 2012 02:46 am
I was looking down my friends list and realised I missed world blasphemy day. Not that I actually mind. Still, various things have been poking about religion recently, so I thought I'd write about it. Obviously this has the potential to annoy people, so feel free to ignore it completely. I think my position is milder than grok_mctanys's, though it's longer.

Hence, a cut. )

Stress

Oct. 2nd, 2012 09:17 pm
I've been going to a weekly "stress control" course. It's six sessions, of which I've just come back from the second. I've had a bit of a problem going to it - going to a large room full of strangers and having at least one of them look at me is not fun - but a lot of what they've had to say so far has sounded sensible and matched my own experiences pretty closely. Today they were talking about the physical side of things, and how stress is constant or at least over-frequent flight/fight triggers, which matches my own experiences well, especially my own early transition experiences. I feel tense, nauseous, and unhappy leaving the house because even with a year and a bit of "no problem" on my side, I still remember and expect the constant hostility that accompanied the first two years.

As an aside, this is a serious problem with the UK's transition pathway. By requiring people to go out and (almost inevitably) fail to be taken seriously in their new lives before offering any of the treatment that might help us actually do that, the GICs are pretty much setting us all up to hate and fear interacting with reality. Cheers, fool doctors!

Anyway... back on topic. The first half of tonight was talking about exercise. Minor issue with the course: it's really longwinded. I can sum up the first half as "Exercise is good. You don't need to be a champion boxer or anything, just try and do few hours of something a week. Even walking". The second half was kind of where things went wrong. There was a "relaxation exercise" at the end. Basically sit there, tensing various parts, then untensing. I can see a certain amount of theoretical sense in that, I think. But for me, it didn't work. I'd tense a body part, feel the physical pain, untense, and be left with an afterimage of the pain. Tensing my fist with its old broken finger was particularly bad. By halfway through I was holding back tears, partly from the pain and partly because I could feel it not working and hating the fact that it didn't. Then at the end, countdown to exit and when I did suddenly I was even less relaxed. Instead of being trapped in "relaxed" space with an overwhelming sense of pain and despair I was back in the real world, and very very angry both with myself for doing it and everyone else who that technique ever worked for because they are so fucking numerous they get taught useful techniques for them while I get to be the freak girl AGAIN who needs to find her own path AGAIN and whose path probably involves being very very angry AGAIN.

So I went home. I sat on the bus, being once again astonished the the depth of my rage was not enough to make buildings explode.

And now... now I'm wondering whether to ever try it again, or to do something more relaxing, like sword forms or punching things. I'm thinking sword forms. Punching might hurt my finger more.

comics

Sep. 25th, 2012 02:47 am
So it's been a while since I've recommended any comics, and I can't remember writing about the big one. The important one. The one I'm more keen on than any of the apparently more famous ones. I feel silly saying that, because you might already know it and then I'll look like a fool recommending something everyone else got into years ago, but I look like a fool often enough for that not to be very important. It started 13/04/2009 (though being US, they have the month and day the wrong way around) and hasn't finished yet.

It's hardly fair to describe as a "comic" at this point. It's become too big for that word. Stylistically it starts with bad drawings and very silly jokes about a kid in a world with very artificial game-like limits. But it moves on, and by the current stage has animations and games built in, with appropriate thematic music and all progressing the story. There's an associated music site with more than a dozen albums on it. Yet it was born as a comic, and if you don't like the humour of geeky comics it probably won't change your mind. So perhaps it redefines comic? That sounds pretentious, but I think it's accurate.

The story started as four thirteen year old kids doing some incredibly silly things, and gradually morphed into an epic adventure in alien lands, then to four (or five, it's not obvious yet) such epic adventures stacked together in an overarching plot line that creates and ends whole universes. As it changes the storytelling style changes with the plot. The silly jokes give way in serious segments. The music gets less chiptune and more grandiose, but somehow still seems to be of a theme. The end of act six culminated in an animation that was superior in storytelling ability to many commercial products I've seen, despite not using any words.

Unlike other comics, I can't tell you how many times I've read it. It's too big and it updates too fast to say that meaningfully. I have read from start to end twice, and from about a third of the way through to the end once, but the first "end point" was only about halfway through the current span. I intend to go back when it's complete, and see if all my outstanding questions are finally answered.

There are many things that are better drawn. There are quite a few that provide more consistent weekly laughs. There are even some that make me cry more often. But there is nothing else I know of like it, and lacking specific requirements, nothing I would recommend more.

It is called Homestuck, and it starts here.

violins

Sep. 22nd, 2012 07:44 pm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7u9-EEehyV4&feature=relmfu

This is a link to an on-street performance by a violinist with a speaker and an effects pedal that has several tracks of record and playback. I wish... I wish I could be that awesome.

Doctor who

Sep. 19th, 2012 07:44 pm
At the suggestion of my housemate, I just watched the latest Dr Who. So, spoiler cut )
So sometimes I run into bits of culture and have to ask the question: Is it worth it?

cut for length )
Have you ever seen something so batshit crazy that some part of you actually hopes it's fake?
Like, say... jumping off a mountain wearing a suit that makes you look halfway between a sugar glider and a rubber dinghy? And then not dying, apparently?

Apparently you land by deploying an actual parachute, so it's not quite as fatal as it looks.
...my skin became all red and blotchy! Apparently it's called urticaria and it's an immune response to a virus. Thanks, immune system! Have I ever told you how much I don't admire your work?
Apparently it isn't serious though. Just itchy. So, yay for that.

Also I saw a doctor today and had more frustration, in that he didn't want to do anything about the problem I went in with. Woo.

And finally, I upgraded firefox! Mostly, it has to be said, because gmail kept complaining to me about how it was an old version. So I upgraded to the newest version! Woohoo.
... and now gmail doesn't work at all.
When it comes to computers, I love them, but they will never love me.
... in which a guy is rude about katanas.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLWzH_1eZsc&feature=endscreen&NR=1

The same guy has quite a few pieces about weapons and armour, and a few about D&D being rubbish.
So Kylie Minogue, and Rob Halford, doing a duet. Does that make anyone else think they've misheard?
I mean, it's weird conceptually. But then once I've listened to it, it seems like it could have been something weirdly wonderful, but they missed the mark and made something just weird.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MZu8pxWAfA&NR=1&feature=endscreen
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