An Apple A Day Keeps The Linkspam Away


Ever think there was something a wee bit dodgy about rich white Westerners heading over to African countries, taking some inspirational photos with kids and milking that delicious charitable reputation for all its worth? Africa Is A Country would like to introduce you to The Bullshit Files: Christina Aguilera Feeds Rwanda. A teaser- but do read the rest:

Africa: helping white people who’re a wee bit down-in-the-dumps feel better about themselves since 1884.

It’s like a whole continent of cheap therapy for Westerners.

Fatima Mernissi is an incredible Moroccan feminist whose writing was one of my first introductions to feminisms that were about far, far more than simply white Western women. In Size Six: The Western Women’s Harem, Mernissi- who can tell you a thing or two about harems, having grown up in one- talks about her experiences trying to buy a skirt in the US:

I suddenly felt not only very ugly, but also quite useless in that store, where, if you had big hips, you were simply out of the picture. You drifted into the fringes of nothingness. By putting the spotlight on the prepubescent female, the Western man veils the older, more mature woman, wrapping her in shrouds of ugliness. This idea gives me the chills because it tattoos the invisible harem directly onto a woman’s skin.

…Even though access to education and professional opportunities seem wide open, the rules of the game are very different according to gender. Women enter the power game with so much of their energy deflected to their physical appearance that one hesitates to say the playing field is level. ‘A cultural fixation on female thinness is not an obsession about female obedience. Dieting is the most potent political sedative in women’s history; a quietly mad population is a tractable one,’ says Wolf.

…‘I thank you, Allah, for sparing me the tyranny of the size six harem,’ I repeatedly said to myself while seated on the Paris-Casablanca flight, on my way back home at last. ‘I am so happy that the conservative male elite does not know about it. Imagine the fundamentalists switching from the veil to forcing women to fit in size six!’

How can you stage a credible political demonstration and shout in the streets that your human rights have been violated when you cannot find the right skirt?

Speaking of weight and worth, over at Buzzfeed, here’s Louis Peitzman on how while coming out as gay wasn’t exactly a cakewalk, being visibly fat is a whole other thing. It Gets Better, Unless You’re Fat:

As an openly gay writer, one of the questions I’m asked most often is, “Were you bullied growing up?” And the answer is yes, but it’s never the answer they’re looking for. In many ways I was lucky to have come of age in a liberal enclave where my sexuality was accepted if not embraced. Oh, sure, I’ve had the word “faggot” hurled at me — and the sad truth is, I’d be shocked if a gay man hadn’t — but it was always secondary. The real source of my bullying was the extra weight I’ve carried since childhood. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been called a “faggot” to my face, but I couldn’t tell you how often someone has made a dig about my weight.

Outside of anonymous internet comments, the gay slurs have stopped almost entirely. Remarks about my weight, however, are a depressing constant.

Over at A Girl Called Jack, Jack Monroe responds to Edwina Currie’s accusation that most food bank users are just ‘rational opportunists’ looking to save a few quid for big screen TVs:

Food banks are often the only port of call for some of the hardest to reach members of society, people who wouldn’t ordinarily ask for help, or for whom the thought of visiting their local council office to query why their housing benefit has been delayed or suspended is another thing on a to do list wracked with anxiety, instead stuffing the letter into the pile of final demands and bailiff threats.

In response to this, many food banks act as signposting organisations, with agencies on hand to offer help for the issues that led them to the door in the first place. There is practical help, such as courses for job skills, cooking classes, and recipe cards handed out for low cost nutritious meals. There are also child and family support, domestic abuse specialists, and benefit and debt advisers.

Also on welfare, cuts, and their consequences, here’s Maman Poulet in Taking The Hit And Being Clobbered, talking to a woman in Ireland with significant physical disabilities about the effects that cuts to social welfare have had on her life:

  • A 25% cut in home help hours.  Refusal to transfer home help hours into Personal Assistance hours which would have meant the PA’s could have helped her go out into her community. (Home helps can only assist with personal care within the home, sometimes the person who helps Claire cannot cook or does not know how to cook – Claire buys food which is more expensive to cover those times to ensure that she will eat. She also mentioned this being more of an issue when her home help hours were cut and getting up out of bed, washed and laundry done competed with time spent preparing food.) Claire’s home helps are called carers – Claire doesn’t like the word much. She would prefer assistants as she thinks having a carer means she should be grateful for it and just let herself be cared for and have no say in things.
  • A cut to Electricity and Telephone allowances (Claire has to have a landline for her emergency response unit – a pendant operated call system if she needs help – her line rental is no longer free.)  Her electricity Bill is up due to the cuts in allowances and also the big increases levied by the power company in recent years.
  • A cut to the number of fuel allowance payments each year from 32 to 26 weeks.  Claire noted that she feels the cold more due to her health and also the fact that she is at home more that people who are able to work she has additional costs.
  • …and a whole lot more.

Need some cheering up after all that? I sure did. Here, broadsheet have some comics for you. Enjoy!

 

Gender Recognition, Feminism, Intolerance, and Food Poverty. Linkspam!


A few things I think everyone should be reading today:

Why society still needs feminism

Just in case you were wondering:

Because to men, a key is a device to open something. For women, it’s a weapon we hold between our fingers when we’re walking alone at night.

..Because a girl was roofied last semester at a local campus bar, and I heard someone say they think she should have been more careful. Being drugged is her fault, not the fault of the person who put drugs in her drink?

..Because out of 7 billion people on the planet, more than 1 billion women will be raped or beaten in their lifetimes. Women and girls have their clitorises cut out, acid thrown on them and broken bottles shoved up them as an act of war. Every second of every day. Every corner of the Earth.

And also, yeah, nobody burns their bras. Not on purpose, anyhow.

Poor little rich girl… Without the rich bit.

If you’re not reading Jack Monroe, you should be. I came for the cheap&tasty recipes, and stayed for the social commentary. And the recipes.

There’s a queer sort of juxtaposition that comes with Being Ms Jack Monroe at the moment.

I spent this afternoon emailing Councillors and other people regarding the recent decision to suspend my Housing Benefit claim based on the (incorrect) assumption that I am sitting on a £25k cheque from my publisher (I’m not) and am sitting on a pile of cheques from newspaper interview and TV appearances (I’m not).

But I was doing that, on the 1414 train from Southend Central to Fenchurch Street, as I’d just been invited to a fundraising dinner by a friend with a spare ticket, via the Soho Food Feast in Soho Square.

But it’s a queer kind of juxtaposition, when you have a beautiful dress to wear to dinner tonight, but on quick inspection of the shoe collection, decide that the soft chiffon dipped hem just won’t go with the shoes you were issued in the Fire Service, your brogues, or your one pair of trainers, so you hang it back in the wardrobe and decide you can’t justify buying a pair of shoes. Not even in the sale at Primark.

Transgender people seek State recognition to escape gender ‘limbo’

Orla Tinsley (who is excellent, by the way, and you should go follow her on Twitter immediately) has managed to do the impossible: write an article about trans* issues in a major national publication that isn’t going to get you a line, never mind a full house, on a trans* discussion bingo card.

Nineteen-year-old student Tyron (he wants to be identified only by his first name) says it is easier to be young and transgender today but the lack of legislation does enable discrimination. “It’s easier than it was and it’s becoming a more known term,” says theNUI Maynooth student, who is currently looking for a job to pay his way through college.

“In interviews I only bring up my gender identity if they want to contact a previous employer,” he says. “Of the last three job interviews, only one was willing to hire a transgender person. The other two said it was not suitable for their working environment.”

It is also extremely important that you click that link in order to admire the extremely stylish tie which Ben borrowed off me for the photo. Yeah, I know, it’s a serious topic. But that’s my tie in the Irish Times!

Is intolerance prevalent in Ireland?

Aileen Donegan- another person with an excellent blog and twitter to follow- in TheJournal. Bet you guess the answer before you click. This, by the way, is a brilliant example of why we need to Shut Up And Listen when we’re privileged. Because otherwise we just don’t see whats going on.

As recently as April I asked a friend ‘Is racism big in Ireland?’ We were attending the same training course on hate speech. I guess my innocent question caught him off guard: ’Yes Aileen, racism is a hugeproblem in Ireland,’ he said with a tone of awe and surprise that offended me. Though Ireland, my home, has never seemed intolerant to me, the last week in news has given me some much-needed insight into Irish attitudes.

…The ECRI quote a disturbing statistic from the All-Ireland Traveller Health Study, which states that 7.6 per cent of Traveller families have no access to running water. Resistance from local residents, and the “lack of political will” of local authorities are cited as reasons why Traveller accommodation is difficult to attain in Irish society. This is hardly surprising. Remember when local residents set fire to a house that Travellers were set to live in?

(By the way? Don’t Read The Comments.)

Disabled man refused entry to nightclub after Scottish Charity Awards

Didja hear the one about the guy who had the police called on him for the crime of trying to get into a nightclub while disabled?

Actor Robert Softley Gale, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, attempted to enter the Polo Lounge in Glasgow with his husband Nathan Gale after attending the Scottish Charity Awards with the Equality Network.

They claim that the bouncers informed them that they could not enter because the nightclub didn’t have disabled facilities.

Despite the couple explaining that they wanted to enter the popular gay nightclub anyway, they say staff continued to refuse to allow them to enter.

“The manager came and said that they didn’t have disabled facilities so they weren’t letting us in,” Nathan told TFN. “We said, you can’t not let us in just because we’re disabled, that’s a violation of the Equality Act, but he still wouldn’t let us in.”

Charming. Oh, and Robert Softley Gale is yet another person to follow on Twitter. You guys, it’s all about the Twitter today. And speaking of disability and ableism, have something from Captain Awkward:

#487: I use a wheelchair, and people are condescending as fuck.

Dear Captain Awkward:

I’m woman in my late 30s who uses a power wheelchair due to a medical condition that causes severe physical fatigue.

Often, strangers – retail staff, waitstaff, members of the general public – assume that because I use a power wheelchair, I have an intellectual disability. I don’t. I have a university degree and I read widely.

How should I respond to people:

- talking loudly to me;
- talking to me in a sing-song voice;
- being condescending/patronizing;
- calling me love/sweetie;
- telling me that I remind them of their 12 year old daughter with Down syndrome;
- praising me for putting rubbish in a rubbish bin as though I’ve won a gold medal at the Olympics;
- telling me that you eat cupcakes?

Signed,

Smart Crip Girl

You know that you want to hear what the Captain has to say.

A Racist B&B?

Speaking of intolerance, Tara Flynn’s husband got an unpleasant reminder that Ireland isn’t above blatant racism lately. Here’s what happened then:

On a recent trip home, I got a reminder that Ireland Of The Welcomes can be conditional.  By now very familiar with Kinsale, my husband offered to take the dog out for his last walk of the night. I sat chatting with my mum. 20 minutes later, my husband returned. He looked angry. “Well,” he said, “I haven’t been called those names in a while.” A group of young people standing outside a bar in the centre of town had shouted racist epithets at him. Some of those epithets have made it into my clip but we’ve decided to cover them with sound effects. They’re just too vile. They are shocking in the abstract and absolutely horrifying when applied to someone I love. In my hometown. In 2013.

My husband is a tolerant person. He just stared the namecallers down and they – like most cowards – shut up when faced with this silent challenge. He tried to laugh it off in the re-telling, saying it wasn’t his first time and that he’d heard worse. But that’s not the point.  I was mortified. Stunned. Fuming.

So I wrote a sketch about it.

 

One more thing

That’s all the links I’ve got for ya, but one more little thinglet before I go. Nominations have just opened for 2013′s Irish Blog Awards! Now, I’m not saying that you should immediately go and nominate me- I’m far too Irish for that sort of carry-on. Although I’ll admit that I do like getting the chance to dress up fancy and eat free canapes and photobomb legit fancy people. But shure have a think about who your favourite Irish bloggers are- I’m lookin’ at you, Geoff’s Shorts- and give a nomination to the people who deserve a bit of recognition. Remember: attention is to bloggers what money is to everyone else.

Friday Links


First, a wee bit of shameless self-promotion. My second post at Spirituality Ireland, Atheism and Me: A Brief History, is up today. Enjoy! Now for what everyone else has been up to: starting with Alan Flanagan’s take on the very same thing. Moving on quickly, though, to…

Abortion

If you’re a giant nerd (hello!) and are curious as to the conversation about how we can legislate for abortion in Ireland, head on over to Human Rights in Ireland’s Summary of the Joint Committee on Health and Children Hearings on Abortion. Atheist Ireland’s Michael Nugent was one of the witnesses- check out his contribution. Speaking of the political side of things, Jen at Red Wine and Brie wonders how abortion made Ireland forget that we’re a democracy.

Over at ramp.ie, Lisa McInerney has a few questions for the overseas backers of Ireland’s major antichoice groups. Y’know, questions like why people who claim to care about people’s lives manage to completely ignore the welfare of the postborn in favour of giant billboards and free iPads.

Sharrow discusses nuts ‘n’ bolts practicalities in Abortion Training for Irish Doctors, and shares the story of women forced to illegally obtain medical abortions. Having abortions without medical supervision is risky, but Irish people who can’t travel outside the country are left with no choice.

The Cedar Lounge Revolution talk about how we’ve finally started to talk about abortion. About time, too! Although at the Joint Committee Hearings earlier this month, Maman Poulet points out that the 12 women a day forced to travel overseas for abortion are still being referred to as ‘These Women‘.

I’m trying to keep discussions of abortion as Irish-based as possible but damnit, I can’t stop myself sharing Libby Anne asking a question that we should ask far more than we do. Is Abortion A Tragedy? And I’m slightly cheating with this, but here’s Sharrow’s reblogging of Ms Magazine’s mythbusting on medical abortions.

Finally, a change of topic

Enough about abortion (for now)! Let’s talk about queer things. Dae from Queereka has a two-part series on Myths and Misconceptions of Bisexuality (or, what not to say to your bisexual acquaintances). Here’s part one, and here’s two. If that did nothing but whet your appetite for more bisexuality-related reading, fear not! The (frackin’ amazing) Shiri over at Bi Radical’s gotten a list together of ten recommended articles on bisexuality for your perusal. I know I’ll be sitting down with a bookmachine, a cuppa, and that lot over the next few days. And if you haven’t had your mind blown by Julia Serano lately- or even if you have- give Bisexuality and Binaries Revisited a click.

It’s been a few days since we’ve talked about Lobstergate. So here’s CN Lester on Burchill, anger, and where we go from here. And Queereka’s Yessenia takes down rad fem transphobia with It’s My Oppression And You Can’t Have Any.

Over at my very own Feminist Ire, Wendy Lyon takes down the idea that violence decreases under the Nordic model of sex work.

Speaking of sex (and don’t we all?), check out Red Wine & Brie on the ridiculous ways we view people with disabilities and sexuality. And then pop over to the Pervocracy (which you’re doing anyway, right?) for Cliff’s take on researching sexuality and circumstantial evidence. And as you’re over at Red Wine & Brie, Jen has something to say on gender and the hijacking of legitimate discussions.

It is the weekend, right?

Fiiiiiiiine. It’s the weekend, you’ve had a long week, your eyes are googly and brain is mush from the thinking. Have a story: Introvert Fairy Tales have a lovely take on the Princess And The Pea.

In case you get away from the keyboard and we actually have a clear night or three, Scibernia’ve put together a list of astronomical events to look forward to in 2013. Planets! Stars! Meteors! Great big comets! I am very excited!

And Doc Brown shares a sentiment I’ve daydreamed about the odd time myself:

 

 

A Total Eclipse of the Linkspam


On #lobstergate, Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill:

Targeting trans women, or the pathetic pastime of increasingly irrelevant wealthy people

We must remember it is crucial to critique the structures that keep enabling people like Suzanne Moore and Julie Burchill to get away with having trans misogynist, transphobic and racist hate speech published in a newspaper with a supposed commitment to social justice. The sheer cronyism in the journalistic world, the way in which mass-media journalism has mutated into the PR arm of corporations, and the way in which it can and often is used to uphold the status quo, are all equally relevant to the problem.

Today it’s trans* women, tomorrow it’s Palestinians, asylum seekers, immigrants in general, women in general, the unemployed, the poor, and anyone else that doesn’t walk through the offices of a major news organisation as anything but the cleaning staff (who are not invited to the champagne dinners).

We must keep counteracting these kind of hateful tirades at every corner, particularly from those who present themselves as our allies in the struggle for a more fair society. Solidarity needs to be expanded among people from all walks of life, and we need to keep examining the overlapping issues of privilege/oppression in terms of race, in terms of disability, trans status, sexuality, gender and migrant status. But it is crucial that we remember the underlying systems of power, which continue to work against us, and which will look for us even in the safest of places.

Suzanne Moore, Freedom of Speech and Uneven Platforms

 Those same people who died for Moore’s right to offend also died for our right to offend Suzanne Moore by holding demos. It was an attempt to address this inequality of platform. Far from being threatening, it was a public attempt at holding people and institutions accountable for the wrongs they have committed. They probably do find this somewhat threatening, many being used to not having to hear criticism, particularly not as instantaneously as in the digital age. Yet it is a different threat entirely to the mainstream media closing ranks against an oppressed minority: this is where the harm came from, and it will continue to do so until they change.

It’s mighty disingenous of Suzanne Moore to claim to believe in free speech, yet continue to play the victim when those she upset hold her accountable. This, too, is free speech, it’s just words she doesn’t want to hear. She has the platform and the power to obfuscate the truth, while those she has harmed cannot so readily make their voices heard.

Intersectionality, Solidarity and Sense

I also find it bizarre that intersectionality is supposed to be such a difficult concept to grasp. I’ve now seen several people argue that people are being asked to waste time trying to understand it when they could be devoting themselves directly to The Struggle. That’s like advising an army to go to war without wasting time on training. Anti-intellectualism is never pretty but in this case t borders on the ridiculous. The public is now largely familiar with the concept of people potentially being members of stigmatised groups. The average person understands that some people have a harder time in life because they’re female or because they have dark skin. Is it so tricky to grasp that a woman might be black or that a gay man might be disabled? Is it so hard to understand that we all have advantages and disadvantages, and that these might sometimes compound each other? The angst about privilege obscures the real point – that if you’re not a dick to people, and if you apologise when you upset someone by accident, you’ll get along just fine. Want to avoid causing accidental upset in the first place? Then, as journalists should know, there’s this thing called research.

Other Things:

Who would want an abortion?

I have no hope, I lost it a while ago and have found myself searching for it in strange places, in the FAS office, on the pages of Monster, in emigration visa forms, in my child’s face. Time and time again, letter after email thanking me for my interest or informing me that I failed to meet the criteria, another day of struggling to make ends meet and the small glimmer, that 13 will be a lucky number, that this year we will escape, that poverty is just a temporary state, that you are of worth, is scuppered by a few lines in windows on the cheapest pregnancy test I could get.

I’m pregnant, I’m in a long term relationship, I love him, and I know I would love this baby, but I can’t bring a child into this. I cannot have a baby and no job, no future, no escape. I know I should have been more careful, one mistake in 7 years, part of me is thankful, a small collection of cells reminding me that life continues outside of this daily stress, that those pills I take to make life bearable and save me from the suicidal mess I was in before are not the only thing that could bring joy. I find myself sobbing, the big loud body shaking sobs that rattle your soul, although I guess I don’t have one of those considering what I’m forced to consider.

Why I’m Changing My Name

“Don’t change too much, we like you the way you are.”

Maybe I’m snatching an insult out of the jaws of a compliment, here. I’m willing to admit that’s possible. But if I don’t like me the way I am, shouldn’t I be allowed to change as much as I deem appropriate? I don’t even want to ask how much is too much, because that implies that I care if I change “too much” for my parents’ tastes. Truth is, I don’t. They’re going to love me or not love me however much and in whatever way they decide. It’s taken me decades to realize that I don’t have control over whether or not they love and understand me. It’s not my responsibility.

I have a problem with “we like you the way you are.” The way I am is not the way I am – it’s the way they think I am. And that is a lie; that is a trap. The way they think I am is a prison cell, and I have been confined my whole life. It wasn’t until I moved away that I first breathed free air.

“Love Yourself”: A Beautiful But Flawed Idea

When we prescribe ways of thinking or feeling, failing to follow them becomes stigmatized. Not loving yourself and your body isn’t just unhealthy anymore, it’s uncool. It’s immature. I wrote once a long time ago about how a classmate told me that loving yourself is actually a prerequisite for being a good person–implying (accidentally, I hope) that not loving yourself means you’re not a good person.

Not loving yourself means you have Issues and Baggage and all of those other unsexy things. It means you just haven’t Tried Hard Enough to Love Who You Truly Are. Loving yourself and your body becomes the normative state, not an extra perk that some are able to achieve. For instance,someone wrote on Tumblr in response to an article I posted about makeup that “girls should learn to love themselves before fucking around with eyeliner.” Loving yourself is a requirement, according to this person, for something as basic as putting on makeup.

Maybe this would be fair, except for this: according to our society, we are not all equally worthy of love.

A Linkspam For All Seasons


Brain hacking and tracking

I’ve been having a fairly interesting time lately. I don’t have a job at the moment- I was going to say “I’m not working”, but it turns out that I have more than enough work and projects to fill my time. I’ve been looking into tricks and widgets to keep track of things and improve my life. Here’s a few that have been seriously helpful:

Unfuck Your Habitat

As the tagline goes, UFYH is “terrifying motivation for lazy people with messy homes”. Tips, tricks and challenges for getting your house in order. Also, celebratory gifs. Lots and lots of gifs.

This site is magic. I started UFing my H, made a few to-do lists of 20/10s, and before I knew it I’d UF’d my life.

750 Words

You know how I just said that UFYH was magic? This is magic too. A simple, simple kind of magic. It’s easy. You just sign up and write 750 words each day. It’s private. You don’t get to edit them after the day.

Also, the numbers go up and if you make the numbers go up enough  you get cute little badges. Never underestimate the power of making the numbers go up.

Writing every day means, well, that you’re writing every day. I’ve found that writing every day not only makes my writing better and means I’m getting ideas down on paper, but it’s also a brilliant way to dust off my brain. Get the cobwebs out from all those seldom-used corners. Like I said, it’s magic.

Also, they have one-month challenges! Write every day for a month and you get another cute little badge! I’m doing October, but I’ll probably sign up for November too. You should all sign up and join me!

8.36pm

From the same person who brought you 750words. 836pm is, I’m afraid, not magic. It’s just a sweet little tracking idea. You take a picture at 8.36pm every day. You put them all in a place. Me, I pop them onto instagram. It’s a cute way to get yourself taking pictures of things and remembering what you’re up to. Also, if you’re not getting out much, finding a new and creative way to photograph your sofa every night’ll be fun, at the very least.

The rest of it

Seems like you can’t turn around without bumping into an argument about same-sex marriage these days. Datbeardyman’s been having a letter exchange about it in the Kerryman. On a completely different- and really, really interesting- note, Radical Bi says Fuck marriage, fuck equality. Whether you agree or disagree, there’s definitely a lot of food for thought there.

By now we’ve all heard about ‘friendzoning’, that disgustingly misogynistic way of talking about women who don’t want to fuck a particular guy and instead go around being friends with him. (How dare they, amirite?) If you’re sick to death of hearing about friendzoning, then what you really, really need to read about is puzzleboxing. It’s like the cooler, more sorted, awesome counterpoint to the douchey kid that is friendzoning. You’ll love it.

As we’re talking about things that are annoying, Saoili wonders why (the hell) it’s considered okay to be sexist about children. Seriously- what’s with that?

And finally, Colm from Cork Skeptics has a quick guide to identifying baloney in everyday life. Good to know, Colm. Good to know.

A spoonful of linkspam


Only a small few links this week, but they’re hopefully varied enough to keep you interested.

First is a post from the AntiRoom on Lola Montez, Her Name Was Lola. Something that myself and the author share is a fascination with “stories about eccentric, unconventional and often brazen women who happily disregarded what was socially acceptable for their gender in the times they lived in and as a result, led totally badass lives.” What could be better?

Back to the here-and-now with ‘here’s how the unemployment trap works‘ from thejournal.ie. Róisín Nic Dhonnacha argues eloquently against the idea that unemployment is a ‘lifestyle choice’, and pointing out how stigma against the unemployed and fear of unemployment can keep the most able and qualified people out of work. As a recent recruit to the super-trendy world of the funemployed (er, woop?), I hereby decree that you all read it.

While we’re talking about stigma, let’s get to language. In Trust me, you don’t speak English badly, Courtney Stoker argues against English language prescriptivism and the idea that there is one ‘correct’ dialect of English- which just so happens to be the way middle-and-upper-class people speak. Funny, that.

If some­one is a native speaker, and it sounds right to them, it is right. Native speak­ers are com­pe­tent in their own lan­guage… There’s noth­ing inher­ently or log­i­cally bet­ter about SAE than any other dialect in the coun­try. And the rea­son we believe in the supe­ri­or­ity of SAE has noth­ing to do with the actual speech, but with who speaks it.”

Finally, I love-love-love the Vlogbrothers. But who doesn’t? Here’s Hank talking about a guy in a massively shielded car calling him a pussy as he cycles down the street with only a couple of inches of polystyrene between him and the road. And also bullying. And how you don’t deal with it, you survive it. And why that’s the problem with It Getting Better. TW for talk about bullying, natch.

Oh, also: I know there’s no sound on the vids I posted the other day! I’m currently on a connection where uploading them again somewhere else would take hours (literally- I tried). I’ll repost ‘em when I get somewhere a bit faster.

Oh! And before I forget- Eid Mubarak to everyone celebrating it! Hope you’re all having a wonderful time. :)

Sunshine, lollipops and linkspams everywhere


I spend a lot of time reading about Serious Bizniss. But, you know what? Right now my life has been far too full of Serious Bizness. It’s time to kick back with something a little more silly. Here’s some stuff that’s on my RSS that isn’t always super serious:

Dr Grumpy is a cranky neurologist who blogs about the ridiculous things that happen to a person when they’re a cranky neurologist. It turns out that that’s an awful lot of things.

My favourite ever advice column is Captain Awkward! As the Cap’n’s tagline goes: “Advice. Staircase Wit. Faux Pas. Movies.” Geeky, smart advice for all your most perplexing social situations.

Smart Ass Cripple has been ‘expressing pain through sarcasm since 2010′.  In case you haven’t noticed by now, I have a serious thing for snarky side of life. This guy appears to be composed entirely of pure snark gold. If ever there were an impending apocalypse that could only be averted through application of ALL THE SNARK, you now know who you gonna call.

Speaking of snark, you absolutely want to check out White Whine. Cause middle-class first world white people have problems too. Massive problems. Mostly, it seems, involving Starbucks? (Which is news to me and makes me worry that I’m missing out on some serious first-world whitepersoning. Then again, as a broke-ass first world white person, I have to make my own damn rooibos soy chai lattes. MY LIFE.)

Tasha at Voracious Eats is an awesome feminist who absolutely does talk about Serious Business. However, she also posts loads about delicious food and her adorable animals, and the places she goes to and people she sees.

Broccoli Morality is a somewhat serious post from the Pervocracy about how things don’t have to be un-fun to be good for you. I couldn’t resist!

It’s a pervasive message in our society, one that goes way beyond dinner: virtue is the opposite of pleasure. Sexual morality is the restriction of sexual pleasure; healthy living is uncomfortable; honest work is grueling; polite living is self-suppressing. If it feels good, it must be illegal, immoral, or fattening.

This is not only important because of morality and happiness. It’s also important because of broccoli. Delicious, crunchy broccoli which has for centuries been tortured, boiled into oblivion and tastelessness by uncountable millions of cookers. Won’t somebody please, please think of the steamers?

And here’s your Awesome Person (on video) Of The Week: the story of Jesus as you’ve (probably) never heard it before.

Hope you enjoyed! Where do you go for something a little more lighthearted online?

A Linkspam To The Past


Since I disappeared from the internet for a while, the first few links here are going to be ancient history. Things which are multiple weeks old. Several decades, in internet time.

I still think they’re worth sharing. And want to do so before everything in this post becomes truly paleolithic, so it’s going up today instead of on schedule, next Wednesday. Because it’s my blog, and I can.

 

Geekery and the Humanities: A defense of the humanities, of subjectivity, and why they’re as much a part of geek culture as the STEM fields. Also, why Sheldon is a dick.

I’m not anti-logic or anti-science; I do think these things are valuable, but they can only be convincing and powerful when they take into account emotion and the humanities (for lack of a better term). None of these things work best on their own. Which brings me to my real argument: the idea that the humanities are less important than STEM is an idea that geeks need to drop, because the humanities are constitutive to geek culture, just as much as science, technology, and math are.

Why Does She Stay With That Jerk? TW for domestic violence. Holly Pervocracy looks at reasons why people she met through her work in the ER stayed in abusive relationships. I’m not going to quote anything specifically, so I can keep the TW at the other side of the link. It’s essential reading, though, if you’ve ever wondered why people stick out relationship abuse. On a similar note is autumn whitefield-madrano’s post over on Feministe,  “I Can Handle It”: On Relationship Violence, Independence, and Capability. This post is a lot more personal- it was a lot more difficult for me to read, because of this. It’s her story of what it felt like for her, from the inside of an abusive relationship.

Cisgender News is the best. If you’ve ever facepalmed at how trans people are discussed in the media, you’ll love it. If you haven’t, then you should probably read it anyway to get a snarky, snarky feel for how messed-up it is. Then you too can facepalm!

Rebekah Wade – a cisgender woman who has now quit as News International chief executive – not only conquered the macho cis world of tabloid journalism to become its queen but did so with astonishing speed. What was behind her rise to power?

Rebekah Brooks – as she started to call herself following a second marriage – courted power but avoided publicity.  She started receiving female hormones via her ovaries during her first puberty, and intends to continue with them.

And now for something a little more current.

I’m an atheist. Is that a problem? Kate Hilpern writes about being an atheist godparent. What does being a godparent really mean? Is it as much a purely religious role as the church would have you believe? Is it okay for atheists to participate in religious baptisms?

some will say I have no integrity. As its name suggests, a spokesperson from the Church of England points out, at the heart of the role is a commitment to support someone in the journey of faith. An atheist can be a wonderful influence in a child’s life, but being a godparent is to be a representative of the religious community and an example of godly living (which is why they should be baptised and preferably confirmed), in addition to supporting them socially.

I’m an atheist. I’m a godparent as well. When I was asked to be a godparent I was still technically a member of the Catholic Church, not having yet registered my apostasy, but was a nonbeliever. The reasons why I happily went into a church, crossed my fingers behind my back and took part in that ceremony? Because I was incredibly honoured to be asked. Because my own relationship with my godparents has always been about love, not doctrine. Because there are very few people who I’ll engage in Catholic ceremonies for- and my godkid’s dad is one of them. Am I entirely happy with that decision? I have no idea.

Finally, today’s Awesome Person Of The Week is Sally. Who has a thing or two to say about being described as a precious pearl. Or a lollipop. And also a few things to say about preventing sexual assault. (Hint: not assaulting people is a good start).

Enjoy!

All you need is linkspam


I love cooking. Cooking, for me, is one part improvisation, one part nurturing, and a giant dollop of getting to kick everyone else out of the kitchen so I can play with sharp things. Baking, though? Baking is an arcane art, a real-life alchemy with bizarre rules that need to be followed to the letter lest your cake become biscuits. I view its practitioners with a kind of suspicious awe- if they can master this, then what else can they do*? Fortunately, over at Crumbs for Little Birds, The Super Alice has given the world a quick guide to pain-free home baking.

This next link and this here paragraph are going to rate a wee TW for talk of terminal illnesses and assisted dying. In The Good Short Life, Dudley Clendinen talks about his joy in his life and his decision not to ‘stick around for the back half of Lou’, as he calls Lou Gehrig’s disease. While the piece as a whole is wonderful, loving and immensely life-affirming, one thing that struck me as incredibly sad is the fact that if he doesn’t want to see his disease to the end, then he needs to, in this words, ‘act while my hands still work’. To me, one of the most profound arguments for assisted dying is that it allows people to stick around that little bit longer if they choose. Not having to worry about being able to carry it out oneself might give a person an extra few weeks or months of good, happy life. And don’t people deserve that?

This next link gets a TW as well, this time for talk of child abuse. My wonderful adopted sister Amanda Harper responds to the Cloyne report into clerical child sex abuse. Amanda is an abuse survivor from the Cloyne diocese. Please do read what she has to say, if that’s a thing that’s do-able for you.

Via Skepchick, two linklets: A quick FAQ on the whole ElevatorGate business from Rebecca Watson. And with the day that’s in it, an essential article on why Harry Potter should really all be about Hermione Granger.

And with that, off I go to pack. Not just for the Very Long Walk. I’m also moving out of this house this week. AARGGHHHHH.

*The fact that the Statistician is also an excellent baker only confirms this. And you’ll never believe what she can do with a small square piece of paper.

All is full of linkspam


Johann Hari says that peace in Ireland depends on ending educational segregation. I couldn’t agree more.

PZ Myers takes some time to remind us why his day job involves teaching. Dear Emma is an (unsent) letter to a child being coached my creationists to undermine science. Ever wanted to know how to explain radiometric dating to a nine-year-old? With a side-order of the wonder of scientific inquiry? Without talking down or patronising? Now you know how.

Michael Barron compares the smear campaign against David Norris, and similar attempts to discredit BeLonG To.

With the recent palaver surrounding ElevatorGate, a very-frickin-useful piece on what privilege means: On the difference between good dogs and dogs that need a newspaper smack. Also Nahida at the Fatal Feminist has responded to my response to Dawkins, from a Muslim feminist perspective. Check it out!

And finally, Rachel Rabbit White talks to sex workers about questioning anti-trafficking organisations.

For your entertainment while you’re reading all of those, check out this video. In honour of the last Shuttle launch, and all the (fictional) women in space. I don’t know about you, but I’ve watched it about six times already and I can’t get sick of it. I love how the ways these women are depicted changes throughout the video- how much more we have become in our imaginations.

Enjoy!