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Monday, May 4th, 2015
5:42 am - For Nothing Now Can Ever Come To Any Good
Warning -- the following involves the death of a major character.

I didn't say much in the week before Christmas, when I was told my father had cancer and would be dead within four to six weeks. He died on January 23rd... my brother organised the funeral -- it was cookie cutter and the celebrant got confused and thought I was the second wife.

Life went on. I resold one story and sold another. I won my DWP tribunal. My mother got ill and better and started to get over his death (they were divorced and he'd remarried but he was still the person she'd been married to for forty years and his death rocked her confidence)

Only it wasn't just that her confidence was rocked. Around this time three weeks ago I went down to check on her. She was a little odd in her manner, but not too much more than she sometimes was when half asleep. Her O2sats were a bit slow to rise, but I'd had the doctor out on Friday (he'd presecribed antidepressants) and while he'd been casual, the respiritory nurses were calling in five hours so I figured they'd catch anything serious. Four hours later I went down to wake her, and she was already sitting on the edge of her bed. She asked for her nightie... I asked if she wanted to go to the loo first but she said she'd been. She had a small tear on her arm that had bled. I got her in her nightie/dress and checked her sats. They were low. She--

Cutting a short story shorter... I called the GP, she decided to wait on the nurses... they arrived, my mother was able to reply to them but little more and they called the ambulance. She'd never wanted to go to the hospital again but the nurses were sure she'd just need IV antibiotics and fluids and it'd be maybe a single night's stay before we were home. We ended up in the cold clinical world of the hospital... where the senior doctors were not particularly enthused about her chances of survival, and proved themselves right. But they wouldn't let us leave. I stayed with her the day and night and she died at about 4am on Tuesday morning. I was the only person with her for the hours before and until I fetched a nurse. (A doctor didn't do the official stuff till three hours later)

She shouldn't be dead. She was strong and reasonably healthy and died of the chest infection/pneumonia we couldn't get the GP to take seriously.
She shouldn't be dead, but downstairs in her bed, feeling better and celebrating the birth of a new princess.

She shouldn't be dead. No one who knew her (including the nurses) was expecting her to die.

But she is dead.

She was my North, my South, my East and West, My working week and Sunday rest, My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song; I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong. The stars are not wanted now: put out every one; Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun; Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood....
Saturday, March 21st, 2015
4:00 am - Eclipses Are Magic
I went out to see this morning's -- just for the impressive twenty minutes or so -- with the sky nicely cloudy so the show was visible when the thinner cloud patches opened on it. Which was pretty much for all the sliver parts. There's the weird light, the mildly confused birds, the odd person looking up, some just because you are. (The four seagulls deciding that the weirdness was clearly caused by the red kite and mobbing it till it was forced to let the sun come back). People griped about the cloud cover. I really prefer it... because I'd rather keep glancing up and watching the actual sun and moon than looking at a shadow play in a pinhole camera or through a collander.

I stood for a while in the moon's shadow. And it was cool.

[My personal world went a bit bad after the last eclipse I watched. I'm hoping that since my personal world has been a bit bad up until this week... well New Years haven't been working so maybe partial eclipses will draw lines. So although not being social has become a habit already, I'm posting this. Now. Before I consider waiting for the tax year or something -- I probably shouldn't because I've a lot of OMGWTF this is evil/stupid stories from the last week, let alone the last three months, but maybe I'll just tell people about the reading experiment... although so far that also contains a lot of OMG/That'sracist(tm)/Wholikesthiscrap? sadness :D]

So hey, there was an eclipse. I'm posting to lj. One's not going to happen here again for 90 years, the other might happen again sooner... you never know.

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Thursday, January 1st, 2015
3:28 am - Happy New Year!
Because it's that time of year again!

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Sunday, December 7th, 2014
3:56 am - #5 It's Easier If You Can Live With Contradictions & Apparant Contradictions
The universe, and writing advice, is full of contradictions... some of which may later resolve themselves as being apparant contradictions but that doesn't always make them less bemusing. If you can't cope with holding two contradictory statements as being of merit (and often equal merit) you'll only be able to write, or live, along one set of guidance notes, and any problems you have will have fewer (or no) solutions.

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Saturday, December 6th, 2014
3:33 am - #4 It's All In Your Mind
Everything you ever write comes out of your head. Every piece of fiction. Every non-fiction article. You are indelibly stamped on your writing -- whether it be your ideas, your word choice, or your selection of facts. Your world view, your experience, your imagination, shape what you try to say and what you do say.

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Friday, December 5th, 2014
4:19 am - #3 It's Out There
Yesterday I was walking back from my father's flat in darkness and I happened to glance up at a building in town I'm familiar with and there was a light on and in the window was a man, looking down and across the street, mobile phone in hand, in outdoorish clothes, and behind him on the wall were photos in what looked like a wall of stalk... or surveillance.

Today on the news there was an item about how many young people were now couch surfing -- a form of hidden homelessness.


If you pay just a little more attention to the world around you there'll be a story waiting...

(But not the conversation that made my skin creep in which a woman was telling her young son about family betrayal and never trusting anyone because they would use you and... The backstories for your sad, mad, and bad are out there too)

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Thursday, December 4th, 2014
4:09 am - #2 Binary Code

At first glance story telling is full of binaries -- positive/negative, happy/sad, good/evil, right/wrong, friend/enemy -- but unless you're like the kid who can glance at a tray of many stones and then list them in excruciating detail... a first glance is more about not seeing what's there.

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Wednesday, December 3rd, 2014
4:41 am - #1 From the Ashes of Disaster

Pretty much all the best writing tips are also useful life lessons. In writing you can learn from your own disasters, but often it's easier to see what went wrong with someone elses.

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Saturday, July 12th, 2014
4:51 am - Umm -- Mr Odd Got Odder
So quick morning meeting with the plumber this morning at the flat to discuss options etc (I think this is his way of saying he's nearly ready to do the job and I need to order stuff). Then, while we were chatting and deciding stuff in the bathroom I heard a sound out in the hall, and as I started moving to look someone said 'hello!'... as I stepped into the passageway to find the upstairs neighbour stood there. And I mean there right in front of me. Inside the flat. A good two metres inside the flat. Past the entrance hall portion of the hallway inside the flat.

And the first thing out of his mouth was something like 'I wasn't thinking it was you'. Then he got past that surprise phase and started asking about buying the toilet again. It only occurred to me after that it might not be me he's not expected to see but that the plumber had just come out of the room behind me.

And yes, the plumber thought it was odd too. Odd enough that he helped me back the guy out of the door and will be careful about him while work is in progress.

He's one of the younger residents I've met so far, closer to the minimum age (55) than most of the rest. Not a doddery old gent.

Or as my mother said -- I should maybe lock the door when I'm round there on my own, especially if I'm working and wouldn't hear an intruder over the noise. Even if it's nothing and I'm over-reacting at least then I won't have to repeat myself about when we'll be selling the toilet (which is *after* we have another toilet in place or, as the plumber suggested, after most of the workmen have finished around the place so they're not using the new one)

Which reminds me... I need to get a plasterer round to fix the holes in the kitchen wall we discovered after removing the units. If I can get the water pipes cut back to where the sink is actually going to be so new holes don't get made after the plasterer does his bit.

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Friday, July 11th, 2014
4:11 am - It's A Cruel Cruel Cruel Summer
The cold that introduced me to chocolate-snot for four or five days (no really that's the expression you get introduced to when you Google a more delicate description) and took three weeks to pass has left me a bit weak.

Other things have happened.

But at least, after a break for 'if you talk to the workmen you will only give them this cold and they will hate you forever' I got back to the remodeling of the flat we bought my father. (That took five months longer to buy then we were expecting and is taking longer to get ready as well)

So Tuesday I was round there with the electrician (who does not think my ideas for the kitchen will work because they do not involve counters all the way round the room...) to discuss the changes to the job because of the immovable pipe discovered during the demolition of the existing counter-all-the-way-round units. So it's back to a slightly modified plan B (I really liked plan C... or possibly it was D but... immovable pipe). All was well when I left.

Wednesday I go round with my brother to dismantle the last bit of fitted kitchen and pushed through the letter box is an envelope with the spare keys to the windows and french doors that I'd asked about already but been assurred probably didn't exist. The note said the previous owners had dropped them off with the manager and she'd popped them through the door. Okay. Good enough. And go me for not having been entirely paranoid about missing keys.

Then the neighbour from the flat above comes down and starts telling us about how he's heard drilling (???) and warning us that the steam from cooking in the kitchen can strip paint from the ceiling unless you get a boxed-in system with an inline fan... and to explain he walks us into the kitchen. Where he seems entirely unsurprised that we've ripped everything out and... asks if we're selling any of the stuff. I say selling or recycling (if possilbe). He asks if he can buy the extractor fan if we're not keeping it (having just told us an extractor fan is vital and that the existing one doesn't work too well). He doesn't offer a price but I say we'll definitely get back to him. Then he goes into the bathroom, saying we're probably working in there too... explains that bits on the toilet break, and can he buy the toilet from us? Again I say very probably (though wondering why he'd think changing a bath for a shower would mean changing the toilet... though we are because it's really low). I notice a bit of mess and assume the plumber has been in to recheck his plan against reality (the electrician and plumber have been 'discussing' regulation versus convenience for a couple of weeks over the immovable extractor fan and the placement of the shower). The neighbour leaves, and I glance back and see the hall carpet has dark footprints on. I assume the plumber forgot to use a drop-cloth and hope the footprints will clean off because we're planning to keep the hall carpet. And then I walk into the range of the dark footprints again and realise that now I'm making a squelching noise. I check in the bathroom and there's water on the floor in the area where the bath was -- I didn't notice because it's held in a small square pool but once your're looking... The water has also seeped into the kitchen. It's at least nine square metres of wet floor four of those carpeted. And then we realise that the water has been turned off at the stopcock.

By this point the only non-creepy explanation I have is that the plumber was doing some work, had a problem, and has gone off to get a mop. It's not a good explanation but... I call the plumber but can't get hold of him until four hours later.

More than a fortnight after we took possession of the flat, and after I'd been round making certain all the wondows were locked, I'd found two windows in the living room unlocked. Which was when I went from wondering about the missing keys to suggesting someone was still letting themselves in. (If you were coming in by the french doors in the bedrooms you'd want to give yourself an escape route through the windows in the living room because anone coming to the door would block your escaping the way you'd come in)

Plumbing can, of course, go wrong all by itself. But plumbing can't turn off the mains supply by itself. I'm grateful someone did that, because otherwise the damage might well have been much worse (including reaching the stuff that's been bought and waiting to be fitted, like the solid wood kitchen counters... yes there are some counters) but chances are the person who turned off the water is the one who caused the damage in the first place.

I went by today and the plumber's made all safe and been an angel and vaccuumed the water out of the carpet... but the floors are still soaked and the place smells like a wet dog by a radiator. And, of course, no carpets or vinyl can be laid in the bathroom or kitchen until the concrete has completely dried out. And since I can't spend long over there because of my mother (she had a panic attack over this incident) airing the place is not going to be straightforward.

And... there's just that teensy worry about going round there on my own, as I've done a dozen plus times, and this time finding I'm not on my own. I am too old and tired for this shit. (Twenty years ago I'd have been secure in the knowledge that I'm usually carrying a handbag of doom, capable of felling a small mammoth when swung with feeling, instead I worry because I've been leaving a few tools, including a claw hammer, in the broom cupboard.)

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Saturday, June 7th, 2014
3:18 am - I Can't Yell At Amazon
Because the website is having problems (or they're not pinging back because they've barred me)

This morning a very hasty young man from DPD turned up on my doorstep banging and ringing on the door as if waiting thirty seconds for me to answer it would mean he got eaten by man-eating plants. I signed. He shoved a receipt at me which, as I noticed later, has an unused space for his signature. And all was well thAT ended well.


When I checked my email this evening I found one declaring that I was not in when they called (my mother is always in and didn't notice a second collection attempt) and would I like to reschedule. They do not have a button and form for 'would you like to call us names?' so I guess I'm paying for another telephone call.

I would use the tracking number but last time I checked, before my parcel had been collected, it told me the package was in Glasgow.

I would complain to Amazon but I can't get to the website.

If this ends up as a credit card charge... *squeals in impotant irritation*


And after an hour and a half with the electrician we decided he'd do a full safety check of the wiring at my father's new flat (the final straw being that they've created an exterior electrical socket by connecting it to an interior socket via an extension lead rather that taking it directly to the fuseboard)

And I may end up asking the electrician and plumber to cage fight over where the shower goes (and thus whose job will be more problematic)

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Thursday, June 5th, 2014
5:31 pm - Amazon Customer Disservice.
Last week Amazon sent me two boxed DVD sets -- one unsealed and with cat (or bunny) hair to go with the scratches -- indicating that they're still doing that thing where they send returned items out again in the hopes that the next person won't send the item back (maybe because they don't get through the series in time, or because it's a gift bought early, or... the hundred and one other reasons people get landed with faulty goods)

Both Grimm Season 2 and the Veronica Mars Collection had scratches -- and oddly both had black and white printing on the discs. But UK editions are often crappy compared to US or Chinese pirated ones.

Anyhow, so far so badly served. Then I find that they've changed the returns methods and limited the postage refund if you send things back by Royal Mail -- the refund being limited to a lot less than a box set would cost to post. So I selected collection rather than drop-off (since the drop-off shops are either closing down or are part of a chain of evil doing) -- and immediately reset the collection for June 5th... because I am not sending an item back before new ones arrive, thank you very much. The new arrived yesterday, so after five days... and today I waited for an email specifying pick-up time, that never came, or a collection guy, who also didn't show. At 4pm I phoned DPD and was eventually told that 1) the guy who was supposed to pick it up couldn't so it should have been collected by someone else but 2) no one else had done so (yes I knew that bit) and 3) though they had two hours left on the day and are only 40 mins drive away no one would be calling now... So how about tomorrow? When I have an appointment at my father's new flat with the electrician... which has taken more than a week to arrange. Okay, I say, so long as it's in the morning... but wait, they can't say for sure when... Don't Amazon promise that they'll email in the morning and give you an hour time-slot so you don't waste a whole day sending back damaged goods that Amazon have sent out? Yeah, sure, whatever.

Amazon tell me that they can extend the returns period, if I want, but I have till the 30th June to get these things back, are their customer service people really anticipating my needing TWO MONTHS of booking collections that never happen? Oh joy.


Next time I get in a ruck with Amazon fanboys and their "Amazon is trying to lower prices so that the customer benefits" I will talk about Amazon's interesting ways of trying to get customers to keep faulty goods and their various versions of cutting corners for profit at the expense of the customer.


Yes, I know about the Hachette problem. And the previous problems. I do not like what Amazon is doing. But I now live in a town with only one real book shop (where there used to be four plus) and, apart from my experiences of ordering books with them being fairly horrendous, Waterstones doesn't have Jaime Lee Moyer's latest book A Barricade In Hell (nor most of the US published authors I want to buy).

[Amazon doesn't right now either though, oddly enough, I can buy the Kindle version, or so it tells me when I check my pre-order... ]

And as for DVDs... I cannot afford HMV prices and HMV doesn't carry what I've been buying lately (some from Amazon, some from Amazon marketplace). As Amazon has grown DVD purchasing alternatives have shrunk. (And given I've had to order White Collar in region 1 from Amazon.com because it's never been available in the UK, it's Amazon or piracy)

[friends will be aware that I sometimes watched shows piratically -- but I watch and then buy -- unless it's Stargate Universe or the like where I watch and laugh/mock/weep and walk away sadder but wiser -- buying is a part of my personal ethical equation]

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Wednesday, May 21st, 2014
5:17 am - It Is A Dead Parrot, It Has Ceased To Be
Linguists have lots of names for languages. In many ways these could all be considered judgemental -- creole, pidgin, dialect -- any patois or cant is after all being described as different or non-standard. Damnably classist and racist etc that is. At which point people either have to stop blaming the words and deal or invent new words that haven't got the overtones of the existing terms.

This, of course, is not going to be easy in any culture that uses education as a marker of value. (Public schools have their own accents and vocabularies... a thieves cant by which they can identify their own kind.) You can't get there from here.

[You probably can't get there even if a population becomes so egalitarian that every version of a language is equal to any other because (apart from it being difficult to communicate at that stage) the accent has always been the mark of the stranger. You have an accent -- we speak the same. Being a stranger can be a positive or a negative but it's never going to be meaningless.]

In the meantime, we can say that there are ways of speaking any lasting and widely used language -- like English -- that become increasingly incomprehensible to people not regularly exposed to that way of speaking the language. Or to put it another way -- big languages that are stretched too far break into smaller language units.

[Of course there is also just crappily spoken English]

Latin was a big language. It broke into a bunch of smaller language units some of which became big languages in their own right. Along the way a bunch of other small language units died. So, eventually, did Latin.

Does a language, like French, that broke away and thrived deserve to be regarded as different -- with a slice of better -- than any of the Latin varients that died? (Or that would have died if nationalism of some kind didn't keep them 'alive'?) Maybe.

American is a version of English that has a lot of differences but isn't as different as, say, French.

But English has a lot of words and phrases ripped off from French. In English some of them are (or were until recently) still pronounced the same (or a bit the same). By the time they make it to American most of them aren't -- like enroute/on route.

Americans talk about English as though they spoke it but they speak a varient form of English.

And English is a mash-up of two major languages plus some other bits and bobs. Which means, I guess, that it was a pidgin that evolved into a creole etc You know the one about Normans chatting up Anglo-Saxon girls? That - kind of. Except for the evolution thing to happen the attempts to communicate have to find a level of stability -- the same words being borrowed to mean the same things and said the same ways.

Whether a language forms by fission or fusion it has to develop an accepted norm. People using the same words in the same ways. Or it won't last longer than a few conversations (or a lifetime).

Six hundred and a bit years ago peoples in Europe, and the English, started writing things in what's called the venacular. Up to then (at least in Europe for the previous umph hundreds of years) the language of writing, of education, of knowledge, was Latin.

Go read Chaucer. Possibly you find it easy, but I find it frustrating. I can understand some of the words. Some of the time the words I think I understand even mean what I think they mean. I can often do better with a piece written in modern French than in Chaucerian English.

Chaucer's English is spelt funny, and the words don't always mean the same as the modern English words they resemble, and if Chaucer were reading them aloud they probably wouldn't sound the way they sound in my head.

American English is spelt funny and the words don't always mean the same as the English words they resemble (we do not drive on the pavement... and being mad is less about anger and more about insanity)

Because I am familiar with American English I can read it with more fluency than French or Chaucerian English.

I suspect most Americans would not be entirely happy with being told that they don't speak or understand English but use a varient. That doesn't make it less true.

If I wanted to write a story about Chaucer, or set in his age, I would not write it in Chaucerian English. I'd suck at it for one thing, and it would be a difficult and frustrating read.

If I write a story set in France I do not write it in French. I'd suck at it and if I want English speakers to read it I'd be limiting my audience to people who could be bothered to crack open an English-French dictionary.

Just as I would buy a translation of a story by Chaucer, or a translation of a novel originally written in French (or read the subtitles of a Chinese movie) if I were writing a story featuring people speaking either language I would translate into an English varient my intended audience would be able to cope with.

Writer's have done differently before. Writers have made people shrug and back away before. Sometimes representations of dialect have been used in writing to demean or make fun of ignorance or race -- writing authentic dialogue on a cotton plantation in the US Southern states frex would be walking a tightrope over a bear pit while carrying a busload of puppies... think of the puppies! (no, really, do you whitewash that there was an enforced language difference or risk reinforcing the stereotype? An author might take the risk but maybe the puppies shouldn't have to))

A writer should always feel free to write in their own language. But if you write in your own language (or cant or jargon or dialect) and that's not the one the majority of people consider English (or at least have been taught to understand as a second language varient) accept that you're writing in a foreign language to those people. Publishers and editors and reviewers and readers may choose to allow or encourage that -- but they don't have to, not if they're working in English or American markets.

[If you are English and submit to American English markets you will have spellings, turns of phrase, and vocabulary challenged -- sometimes changes to such things are not an option but a condition of publication.]

I am not being nationalist by not reading great works of literature in French. Or racist for not reading the Koran in Arabic. And there would be a degree of irony in calling me ignorant for not reading Chaucer in his own varient of English. Maybe I miss out by reading only in varients of English that are close enough to my own that I feel confident I understand what I'm reading and enjoy reading it. But you're not going to make me care about that by writing stories in a varient I find difficult to understand and then yelling at me for wishing they were easier to read -- first make me believe I'm missing out and maybe I'll try harder (But then be prepared to live with the kind of people who read manga in the original Japanese and then get really loud about being Japanese)

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Monday, May 19th, 2014
4:19 am - Things I Don't Know
I was spraying milk on the apple trees in the back when the cat came to yell at me a little, and then vanish. A very short time later I found the dying rat-child. Still. Belly to the air. A little blood showing. And I was sad *before* I saw the little chest rise and fall. I went to get gloves -- because I am too old to handle a wild rodent without wearing gloves. I also ran a kitchen knife through the sharpener a couple of times.

I might have gently lifted the poor little thing and put it quietly in a box, had there been just the little bit of blood that was the rest of the injuries, but somehow the cat had skinned his one arm from shoulder to midway between elbow and paw and the sleeve didn't appear to be there. I don't know how to fix that, and in an animal that small... So I didn't take the quiet death/recovery option, apologised, and used the knife. Infection is not a peaceful way to die and I don't have an understanding vet anymore.

I like rats. I do not like killing. And death always takes longer than an instant and never feels merciful.

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Wednesday, May 14th, 2014
3:37 am - Easy Peasy - Not
And after six months of delays and probate and the previous owner's kids stripping out fixtures and fittings and demanding cash payments for ground rent etc today I got the keys for my father's new home. Which is about five minutes walk away. And that's a real five minutes not a holiday destination five minutes.

I'm not that positive about the move -- I'm pretty sure that, even with all the recent contact, I've spent a lot fewer than twenty-five hours with him in twenty-five years. Not including the post-stroke meetings it'd have been much closer to twenty-five minutes than twenty-five hours. And, given him being him, I was happy with that being so.

He's still the guy who tells me I drink the wrong drink, is annoyed that there's a cat spends time in the house (he'd have been even more annoyed if we owned a cat), and makes interesting gestures like trying to gift me some poorly kept fur stoles (you know, the ones with faces and feet and glass eyes but not well looked after so not actually 'worth a lot of money' even without the ethical problem...)

This is not a happy fun reunion -- this is about necessity.

So, anyhow, in the next month I have to get a shower installed, a new toilet because we didn't notice it's so low *I* have my knees bent up when I sit on it so a raised toilet seat won't actually raise the toilet above normal unraised height (you live and learn about things like sitting on the toilet while viewing :P) which means we really might as well just redo the bathroom since they took the heated towel rail with them -- leaving holes in the wall -- then a new hob, get the badly installed oven fixed (and/or lowered) solve the mystery of the "fitted" fridge and freezer which strangely don't fit the way they did when we first viewed the place and now either won't let drawers and doors on other units open or won't have their drawers open, and then there's the stained sink and wonky electric sockets... by the time you add up the jobs it could be better just to get the whole kitchen redone (it's a small kitchen). Then the furniture left in bedroom one was hiding that there was a patchwork of bits of carpet beneath -- so new carpet... in bedroom two they appear to have removed one of the night storage heaters, and they apparantly not only decided to take the light fittings and not leave safe alternatives but also to change the curtain rails and curtains for cheaper alternatives and do some work on the walls and patch repainting that we're not sure of the reason for but which means every room needs redecorating... and we anyhow need to take the stupid fake fireplace out of the living room so there's at least one wall to put his credenza on... Basically we've gone from needing a few touches to an entire refit and redecoration (and yes it's not a *good* thought but I would rather fix these things up now and have the place looking okay when we sell than patch it now and have something that looks dreary and neglected come that hour).

And yes, I will be the one organising this... Which is pretty much impossible -- I don't even have time or transport to do the basic shopping (it takes forever to get stuff to do little jobs around *this* house...) Plumber, electrician, decorator, carpet-fitter... And there's an alarm system but no details left of the codes or how to change them etc. Oh and given the level of removals from the house I kind of want to get the locks changed (I do not entirely believe there were no spare keys to the French windows)

I have a headache... Non-resident brother already called to reschedule on coming back up to go check on a few essentials... and mother has a respiratory nurse dropping by tomorrow.

If you don't see me, or I'm comatose, or grumpy, or start punching people so hard even people with the same name bleed it could be because of this.

Or for the usual reasons.

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Monday, March 31st, 2014
2:18 am - The End
So, as I discovered once I got there, saturday's was the last Harrogate Lace Event. I am entirely certain I went to the 3rd Harrogate Lace Day back in (I think) 1983. (My mother would say we went to the 2nd but I'd need to check that)

I am not particularly good with or keen on endings. When the last people gave up and it becaome the Lace Event rather than a Lace Day, I had been looking into taking over as organiser myself... but back then I was young and now I am not. As you get older endings creep up on you.

As I was heading for the door -- with only two hours fifteen minutes to spend at the event (because my brother was on evening shift so I could be away for the morning only -- if he'd been on rest days I could have done longer) -- the phone rang. I picked it up and was told 'this is Eeeee from Post Office Counters' and yes for two seconds I did wonder about the ocunting of post offices... but then I heard a neat tale about how I'd been tracked down overnight and could I please come in to the Post Office and help save the world... So I apologised because I'd been looking forward to the Lace thing for weeks and said I'd turn up in the afternoon.

So I went and had a great time, and ran out of time when I thought I'd make it (but suddenly the stalls I needed to go back to were busy as busy and I forgot where some things were and now I have a phone if I'm not outside already people picking me up can phone me rather than hanging on five minutes extra :( )

And then I went to the Post Office... and no it wasn't saving the world but Eeeee was pretty desperate because when I'd taken money from my account the day before she'd not properly concluded the transaction and the money was out of her till but still in my account. She'd tracked me down from other people remembering fragments about me that led her to my brother and the police and... well she found me. And I inserted my magic card and saved her job and we joked and laughed and she told me how she'd worried all night until Oooo had remembered factiod x and called her at 2am and a town of over 100,000 people became a village and I got the opportunity to be the happy ending of a story about an unbalanced till.

I am less not good or keen about happy endings :)

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Monday, March 24th, 2014
5:10 am - A Lawyer, A Doctor, and A Fool Walk Into a Life
(during post-lawyer's meeting conversation)

Boss: I didn't like him.
Me: ?
Boss: He didn't smile. No... He only smiled when you made him.

I wasn't impressed either. Except with my father insisting on the politeness of a handshake. The lawyer appears to have summoned my brother from London for a meeting simply to read the paperwork in front of us and grumble that there's more labour for him in conveyancing a small retirement property than multi-million pound mansion. (Or as my brother put it later -- probably not a lot of millionaires using the services of a guy who works out of a shop basement, the narrow twisty stairs to which have a carpet that's worn to the wood) He clearly had my note about making sure the bath can be converted to a shower before we buy and... hadn't done anything about it yet.

Because I need yet another thing to worry about with all the rest of the worries involved in moving my father back to Harrogate (not least of which is having him living round the corner instead of a comforting distance away)

Up until his stroke last year I hadn't seen him in over a decade. And I was happy with that being so.


Last summer, as part of trying to find out why she was so breathless, my mother had a cat scan. There was an oddity on this scan which she was told might be cancer, or something else wrapping around the artery, and because of her age and it being wrapped around an artery they would not operate whatever it turned out to be (doctors, so bloody positive). So for somewhat more than six months there was that shadow... until I reminded people that there was supposed to be a second scan done to find out if it was growing (which apparantly people should not want to know). The short story having been explained long -- the latest scan showed that whatever it was or wasn't it has now gone.

I am very happy about this. Sadly her breathlessness has worsened -- except for when she is given steroid pills. And of course the GP surgery are being dicks about the 88 years old woman having steroids for fear of the long-term side effects... But at least now we know it isn't cancer. Or some other inoperable growth. I just have to find a way of getting steroids for her (when I've been unable to get them for me)


There was a busker in town yesterday. Capering around in a chalk circle to 'Singing in the Rain' (at which point a few spots of rain fell from the otherwise cheery sky. I gave him money. Make me laugh and I will be grateful. Lift my spirits and I will smile for you. (And, given that the PCSO walked into range just as the song hit the point where in the film Gene Kelly sees the cop, it may be that the universe will play along)

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Monday, March 17th, 2014
2:08 am - YPA!
The lesson of the Winter Paralympics is not 'wow disabled people can do cool stuff if they just try' but that if you're disabled it takes a f--truckload more insane courage to even try.

(You have to wonder how many Winter Olympians would choose to hurtle down a mountain at 60mph with their arms tied to their bodies or wearing a blindfold if that wasn't the only way they could ski.)

Something for the rest of us to remember, as the concept of 'life unworthy of life' starts creeping back into view* -- it doesn't matter if you're throwing yourself down a hill or into a new day, if you're disabled then by definition you're trying harder.


*it's seldom far behind people making judgements of whether someone has a 'life worth living'

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Sunday, March 9th, 2014
5:50 am - I Think The Last Time I Did This Was To OSC... Irony Doesn't Exist In A Vacuum Either.
And yes, this is about Kameron Hurley's Rage Doesn’t Exist in a Vacuum, or: Understanding the Complex Continuum of Internet Butt-Hurt*"

[You know the 'doesn't exist in a vacuum' part of that title stems from a time when science was pretty sure that life* could not exist in a vacuum. This was way back when one of a science geek's best parlour tricks was to shove someone's parrot (or other pet animal) under a sealed bell jar, pump out the air, and watch while the animal died... or, if you weren't a complete jerk, just almost died but not quite (that night anyhow) Back in those days people had to make their own entertainment and they didn't have the internet.]

I made the mistake of not going to look at the footnote -- if I had I could probably have saved myself reading on, because thereafter you realise that Ms Hurley knows exactly why the word butthurt should be left to the usage of teenage boys for whom homosexuality exists as a threat rather than a possibility. Still, as long as someone else, who may only be repeating the current internet word-of-the-day, says it, Ms Hurley can overlook that she knows better and use it because it's dismissive and been used dismissively and the other guy isn't specifically talking about anal rape (or whining about a less than satisfactory experience of anal sex). It's a damn-good-reason but the discussion she refers to in the footnote does not appear to agree that 'it's okay to use butthurt if it's not about rape' -- and the only usage of a word that anyone can totally control is their own usage. One can be angry or upset about other people using a particular word but if you find yourself making excuses as to why you should use it, having apparantly no argument with it being a word the use of which should be discouraged, then how is it wrong for someone else to use it out of ignorance, or because they also believe that this is an instance where it's excusable?

My use of it in this post in particular is in response to this dismissive tweet about latest rage, which employs it in its generally annoying way.

Butthurt is a word of derisive dismissal and very seldom actually used at a point where someone has suffered injury to their butt but almost always in a generally annoying way. The word butthurt is not often used in a vacuum, after all, but in response to someone being generally annoying (in those internet spaces where complaint is generally taken as annoying) So Ms Hurley is excusing using it in her case because she's using it the way it's normally used...

Okay, fine, enough about the footnote... [*mumbles* it's just that the footnote kind of sums up the rest of the essay.]

Ms Hurley continues with a true story about an unpleasant incident in which she used rage to good effect -- and here I am in awe of what she did and the outcome. She did good. If she were a character in a book I'd have bonded with her because of this incident. In third person anyhow. As it is I kind of wish I knew nothing about her but this story (and that she'd told it in third person)**.

There are some digressions, which if I'd been critting this as fiction I'd have recommended removing -- the whole lot about how people kept telling her that bad things happened and her being angry about it appeared to belong in another story. One where Ms Hurley responded as she did not because she couldn't stand by silent, or because her body was pumping up adrenaline for the much over-simplified flight-or-fight (and as many small mammals will tell you, screaming in a predators face can be a lifesaver) , but was raging because the two men were proving all those other people right in their assessment of the place they lived.

But that’s a post for another time.

And, sadly, I misread the intent of the story because Ms Hurley's explanation for why she yelled is entirely different from what I'd assumed. She's not angry at the predatory men, she's angry with people who're not there... people who warned her that there were predatory men about.

To an outsider seeing my screaming meltdown at these two men, in which I raved and shouted and told them how they were utter assholes for harassing us, and they should fuck off, and who the fuck did they think they were, this might have seemed like the raving of some unhinged person. After all, from afar, all you see is two guys at a bus stop talking to a woman who seems deeply uncomfortable.,

I have actually seen people raging at other people in the street more than once: sometimes they're drunk and haranguing a randomly picked victim, sometimes they're using a fairly effective self-defence strategy which I believe even comes up in self-defence training. So I'll admit my bias here -- if I'd seen a woman yelling at two men who weren't walking away in a hurry I'd have assumed I should be getting her help. I'd have assumed that the two men being yelled at were the problem.

But my rage, my “sudden” outburst was actually the result of the venting of six full months of increasing dread and terror inflicted on me not even so much by actual bad people, but people ostensibly concerned for my safety, whose admonitions that I “stay inside” and watch my back, and be careful, and who would then go on to talk about who’d been raped, shot, stabbed or mugged that week, had really started to get to me. It was a rage at the entire situation, at being expected to shut the fuck up and go inside all the time because I was a young woman. It was rage at the idea that the threat of violence so clearly worked to keep people in line.

[Maybe it's because I have a really bad reaction to adrenaline bursts that I am so very aware of those times when adrenaline is flooding my system.. rather than revolutionary zeal]

Where does 'shut the fuck up' come from? Did the people trying to warn her that she was putting herself at risk say that? Were they all trying to 'keep her in line'? Or were they, perhaps justifiably, concerned that as a stranger in their country they had some kind of duty of care, at least a duty of warning. Tourists frex do seem to be more likely targets for street crime so it's perhaps not unreasonable that they'd be considered generally more vulnerable. I'm unsure why Ms Hurley's anger was so overwhelmingly directed at the people offering warnings -- because she could have been unaware of the threat of violence? Because if she hadn't known there was a threat of violence she wouldn't have been kept in line? Which she wasn't. Two men are verbally assaulting a woman standing next to her and she yells at them not to defend the other woman, not because she's sick of having to put up with men like them, but because she's angry at the people who tell her men like them exist?

[ Yes, there is a social/political strategy called 'leopard in the grass' -- it's another supposedly natural history derived one, over how monkeys react when one individual calls out that there's a hidden danger and the monkeys respond to that perceived threat. The idea is that frex a political party creates a fear of danger (one that isn't ever substantiated) and uses that threat either to win power (we see the threat and we will protect you) or keep control of the population (if you don't do what we say you'll be outside of the group and the leopard will get you). For that to be what was happening to Ms Hurley would tend to require that there was some kind of pay-off for the people creating the leopard scare and I'm not seeing one.]

Anyhow, the lesson I take from this is that warning strangers to a place that there have been a string of assults/rapes/murders is not good. You can never know what baggage they've brought with them and they might get really angry with you.

BTW because people were likely to jump out of the woods and haul me off to the terrible fate all young white girls traveling abroad are assumed to inhabit, eventually. Ms Hurley isn't only dismissive of the unpleasant usage that is butthurt, she can be dismissive of rape in her own words (likewise 'sexually explicit threats and promises' is a really odd turn of phrase to choose)

After I raged for a few minutes, the guys milled about for a bit, confused, and finally wandered off. When they did, the young woman next to me breathed a sigh of relief and said, “Thank you so much. I was afraid to say something, because I was afraid they’d knife me or something.”

End of a perfectly good illustrative story a little confusingly told but yup in some circumstances yelling in someone's face is more than appropriate behaviour it can save your life. Or someone elses.

When the internet loses its shit over what, to many, looks like a single, insignificant incident unrelated to anything else, it’s easy to say they’re fucking nuts. They’re raging over some perceived slight that’s been blown waaaaay out of proportion. That, in truth, is the easier narrative. There’s a reason folks say things like, “Women are crazy,” to explain away some perceived hurt or slight, because it’s easier than thinking through why that rage makes one so uncomfortable (often because that person is complicit in acts that contribute to that rage in some way by perpetuating both sexism and the belittling of women’s voices). It’s easier to say people are crazy than to try and figure out why.

Ah, okay that's why the bit about how people looking at her yelling at those guys would have looked like she was insane. You know, maybe it's just me but the story doesn't really seem a good fit for the purpose to which it's being put.

Especially when you’re in a place where it’s never your butt getting hurt.

People discounting or dismissing your anger is not the same as being raped. Or being threatened with rape. Maybe it's because those same teenaged boys who love the word butthurt also like talking about how they totally raped some other player in a game etc but while I'm okay with rape being used metaphorically in some circumstances here it's making me uncomfortable. I don't think it's because I'm in any way complicit but a lot of this post is using rape and the threat of rape and a casual dismissive attitude to rape to create a subtextual landscape.

Internet rage is almost never a one-off. It happens in a continuum. It’s seen as one more event in a long line of connected events.

I don't think continuum is a particularly good word for this. But yes, people like stories, they think in narratives and often create them out of entirely unconnected events. The trouble is that, as in history, people will have different narratives, they will find some events more important than others etc. Conspiracy theorists often put together extremely convincing strings of events -- sometimes they're right, sometimes they're assuming that everyone involved is deliberately moving events in a certain direction (rather than not trying to control events, or other people, at all, or cackhandedly trying to say or do or achieve something else entirely).

This post includes a lot of generalisations about how other people think, including the one that says people dismiss shouting women as crazy because they're 'complicit'.

About ten years ago, some dude blogger with a big following would ask, about every six months, “Where are all the women bloggers? I don’t read any women bloggers. So women must not blog!” And the feminist blogosphere would fall on him. Every. Six. Months.

I'm not sure if this is the same blogger or a new one -- and I'm in small mammal thinking so I wonder if this isn't like people blowing on hamsters. I came across the phenomenon on Youtube but it's your basic human compulsion to tease. Dwarf hamsters, as I understand it, mostly don't like having wind blown in their faces. Some react with displays of rage, and some by leaping backwards etc Many people find this hilarious. They make vids of the reactions. They find it cute or hilarious or... whatever. The hamsters probably aren't enjoying it and may well fit this event in to a string of other abuses of ignorance that they suffer and believe the monkeys are being intentionally cruel and that they should always bite back... (but then blowing on hamsters is often given as a usable reprimand for biting so that probably doesn't help interspecies communication)

[On Youtube you can also find vids with really ugly lablels and (mostly) inside they're not what they're labelled as being. They're supposed jokes, often involving promises of animal cruelty. Maybe they're looking to get hits from sick bastards, or maybe they think it's funny to get the animal rights folks reporting them and making angry comments, or maybe they're sick bastards who're one step away from doing what they're pretending to do. I don't know which of those narratives is true. I don't even know if they're not so hopelessly innocent of what people do to animals that they think it's genuinely outrageous comedy (I've seen a few professional comics voyage into similar territory and there's that thing with the kitten in Brothers Grimm...). People do not all think the same. But a lot of them like scoring points off, and bullying, and offending, and causing distress to those they see to be vulnerable]

Did the feminist blogosphere ever wonder if they weren't behaving like a windblown hamster?

[And is the term 'fall on him' not making any of those inclined to fall heavily on others uncomfortable? Probably not, because like butthurt it's about dominating someone and forcing them to behave the way you want them to behave. It's done for a range of reasons that are mostly summed up by notions of personal satisfaction and aggrandisment]

We’d clog up his blog comments with our voices. We’d link to other women’s blogs. We’d point out that the reason he never saw women is because it was easier to not see them. It was easier to link to the dudes that he knew. You don’t see people you don’t listen to. That went on for a couple of years. At some point, after Wonkette got big and Amanda Marcotte got tapped to do social media outreach for a major political candidate, these conversations stopped

Do I think that those two events in two women's lives were the reason the conversations stopped? I guess I should but since I don't know them from Eve and the logic pursued is that the dudes weren't listening to women and didn't see them, it seems sort of unlikely that there was a link. Things do just stop. Pranks stop being funny, hamsters die... people grow and move on. The linkage between the events mentioned is one narrative possibility, but it's just as if not more likely that there is no connection.

[ (now it’s “here are all the white people you should be following on Twitter” lists that don’t have a single person of color on them, even though people of color make up over 40% of Twitter users and generate the majority of tweets and some of the biggest online memes and movements have originated with influencial folks on that end. Same shit, different pocket).

I don't do Twitter much. Clearly lots and lots of nonwhite people also don't use Twitter (I believe that's going to be an excuse for putting large numbers of low flying drones over the developing world... which isn't sounding like a creepy scary conspiracy at all). None of what are given as reasons why the 40% should be followed are reasons for which I follow people -- kind of the reverse.

Seriously, I follow very few people and I'm beginning to skim a couple of them because their tweets are getting kind of generic. That is, I think, a flaw of Twitter as a social medium... an infinite number of monkeys will type the same strings of keys over and over and over... and then hit retweet]

We got all sorts of push back on this, about how we should be more “civil” and “settle down.” We got told we were “over-reacting.” We were being “pushy bitches” and “making something out of nothing." But the truth was that unless we made a big fucking stink, people went back to the status quo.

And apparantly after Ms Hurley et al made a big fucking stink people went back to the status quo. So quo was the status that the stink happened every six months. And if the difference was made by Wonkette and Marcotte gaining notoriety then how was it the stink that did anything to the status quo?

Folks will always, always, always go back to the comfortable status quo, with its silent voices and lack of conflict, if you give them the chance.

Or the status quo with its regular slapfights and endless conflict? Cycles of violence are also pretty comfortable institutions for some. People have been known to make careers on regular bloodlettings. People yell at other people on the internet. Hamsters get stressed into eating their own babies. The world goes on barely noticing.

“Settle the fuck down, you got your way,” also doesn’t work after a fight is over, because though dudes may go “Yeah, we get it, women blog” unless you’re on it like a fucking trainwreck, you’ll have the conversation again six months later.

So angrily falling on people and clogging up their blogs etc doesn't achieve any lasting results. (And no we're not talking about a conversation we're talking about unleashing rage and in rage there are no conversations.) At least none of the lasting results those orchestrating the trainwreck want. I'm pretty sure from my own observations that shouting in people's faces does change how many of them feel about the people shouting in their faces and how they communicate with others from that point on.

They forget. They start rewriting the narrative.

Or write it from a different perspective.

But it's kind of weird to claim that print newspapers are rewriting a narrative that's only days old because they've had time to forget. Their narrative is simply different. My narrative of events would also be different from Ms Hurley's. It's one thing screaming and raging like a madwoman in a situation outsiders can understand as involving threats of bodily harm, quite another using that same kind of rage in reaction to an announcement that a chat show host one does not like is in danger of handing someone an award... It was pretty obvious what the story would be if the mainstream media decided to comment at all.

Calls for civility, as good-intention as they may be, smack to me of folks telling me I should have swallowed my tongue at the bus stop. After all, it’s not as if the men were physically harming the young woman. And I should have held my tongue when people said women don’t blog, because obviously, if I wrote well enough, and shut up enough, and acted demure enough, people would just magically notice me, right?

None of what Ms Hurley has said so far is about calls for civility. And there's a serious difference between civility and silence. I'm not being silent. I hope I am being civil.

But we are back to comparing a situation of actual threat, with clear right and wrong, to... yelling at people on the internet (and quite often making threats about their livelihoods, persons, etc) because frex they don't think women blog.

There is a massive gulf between silence and screaming in which almost all the great words of wisdom have been spoken. Maybe it isn't such a bad idea that the internet should live a little more in the place between silence and oppressive volume. Because, so far as I've witnessed, it is the oppressive volume that silences people, not some dude saying 'women don't blog'.

And is all that yelling about a cause? Or so that people will notice Ms Hurley?

Clearly, ya’ll have no idea how this works.

Well I do know a fair bit about being shouted at. And bullied. And about standing up to people who want me to do what they say, or go away (some on the internet and some where you feel the heat of their breath on your face as they scream).

If I shut the fuck up, then all the people you quote, all the people who write the post-narrative, the big pieces that folks look back on to create the history and narrative of an event, even a successful one, will be made by the powerful, influencial people who believe their hurt feelings at being called out as problematic somehow outweigh the concerns of an entire community of folks with no media pull and no platform whose voices have been marginalized their whole lives, and are now being reduced to a crazy, screaming, angry mob acting up out of nowhere, instead of a passionate community of folks reacting to an event they see as existing on a problematic continuum.

I just don't get how people being asked not to scream into the microphone always ends up in the realms of censorship. But then the word 'passionate' in ref to people being violent or angry has always made me wince... it's an excuse-me word. He's not a violent man he's just passionate. She's not got poor self-control she's just passionate. Passionate people get to hit or slap or coerce or force because THEY'RE PASSIONATE DAMN IT! and all those other people are grey and dull and passionless and there to be hit, slapped, coerced, and forced into doing whatever the passionate people want them to.

[Mostly I've found the alleged grey dull people in this world to be more truly passionate than the screaming shouty hitty ones... the screaming shouty hitty ones tend to be passionate about themselves and their own desires and rights, the grey dull people get passionate about gardening or knitting or volunteer work or injustice... they get passionate about something other than themselves and those passions are long lasting and deep and real. It's true love versus narcissism]

We have a strange habit of falling back on “civility” as if every social movement was entirely civil. Like unions didn’t bust up on scabs. Like Nelson Mandela didn’t blow shit up. Like MLK would tell us all to shut the fuck up, and women never chained themselves to the fences in city squares, stormed political buildings or committed acts of arson and violence in an effort to achieve suffrage.

We have a strange habit of falling back on civility because it works. I say please and thank you and keep to the basic code of behaviour. Other people do the same. No one gets hurt. No one is dismissed. I show people the same respect I expect them to show me. That way everyone gets some respect. I do not piss on other people's doorsteps and count as civil those people who do not piss on mine. Yes some social movements are uncivil--

Wait, yelling at people on the internet is a social movement? Is it me or is this getting a little... odd?

Yes, unions bust up on scabs. And in the 30th anniversary year of the Miner's Strike, you can probably still find families who were split forever by bitterness over that legacy. Is it right to break people's legs? Or their tools? Or was that taking things too far and part of why the unions in the UK lost so much support that they've gone from being power-brokers to a virtual irrevalance? Less influential than internet petitions.

Yes, Nelson Mandela blew shit up. In response to people being shot, tortured, wrongfully imprisoned... He went to prison. He suffered. He was released from prison... and was responsible for there not being a shouty hitty screamy bloodbath but a really civil and peaceful reconcilliation. He's not respected for being an angry young man but a wise elder statesman.

Sorry, I am going to pause in writing this because really... raging on the internet with some dude who says women don't blog is not the same thing. It's not that it isn't in the same league it's that it isn't the same game. Ms Hurley is not throwing herself under the King's horse she's being unpleasant on the internet. Raging from the comfort and safety of her home at people she doesn't know.

Surprise! My specialization is in the history of revolutionary movements, and let me tell you, folks – being nice and holding hands didn’t get shit done. Or sure, it was one tactic. But never the only tactic. I wish a nice circle jerk got shit done as much as the next person, but if it were so, history would look much, much different.

Wooo! Someone did this to me the other day -- asking if I'd done a course on X recently that I dared talk about it -- which amuses me since the places you go to do courses are all about the sexism, racism, and the money. Looking for the results of being nice and holding hands when specifically studying revolutionary movements is silly because courses about revolutionary movements seldom cover the quiet revolutions. The same way they seldom talk about the influence of women in history.

And of the four examples given, only MLK's quietish and civilish approach brought results. Sitting on buses instead of blowing them up. The suffragettes direct actions achieved very little in the UK... it was WW1 and the women working on the home front in a total war (and a shortage of men post-war) which helped tip public opinion. The miner's union lost and provoked a public reaction that haunts any strike action to this day. The ANC carried on blowing things and people up long after Mandela was imprisoned, and violence was the status quo for decades, until it stopped being the status quo. The violence didn't make anything better. Other things did.

Without the quiet social changes the world would indeed look very different -- and is it me or is it really really ironic that someone who wants to rage about people not acknowledging women bloggers etc bases her argument on internet rage on a historical narrative viewpoint which has systematically downplayed the influence of women and non-violent men in favour of a dominance-submission fantasy of a time when men were real men, women were real men, (and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri.)

[And mostly the important ones were white etc]

I personally, would welcome a history that looked much much different. Such a history could easily be written without any change in past events. But imagine if the shouty hitty stabby people hadn't done their thing? Certainly there'd have been a few fewer dead witches.

Change is messy. It’s angry. It’s uncomfortable. It’s full of angry people saying angry things, because they’ve been disrespected and forgotten again and again and again and again, and they’re tired of being fucking nice because it makes you uncomfortable if they act in any way that is not deferential or subservient to you and your worldview.

Change may often be messy but it isn't always bloody and violent with a legacy of resentment and hatred. The same can't be said for internet rage.

BTW anger is not the same as rage. A person can be angry without expressing that anger, without letting it get out of hand, without screaming in someone's face. And being uncomfortable around people who scream at other people because they say something 'wrong' isn't about being complicit with the perceived offence, it's pretty much the same as being uncomfortable when two men start making sexual threats to a stranger at the bus stop. Or when someone starts screaming at the person standing next to you.

[And civility is not subservience or deference. When I thank wait staff I am not being subservient. When I say please, I am not showing deference. I am demonstrating respect -- I do not expect you to do something for me without my saying the magic words... the words which turn 'pass me the salt' into a request not an order, and acknowledge when you do so that you have done me a favour]

I’m sorry if we’ve interrupted your latest Kickstarter, or pin-up calendar, or the purchase of your million-dollar estate in California, and you’re throwing all your Hugo pins into Mount Doom in the hopes it will shame us into silence. That must be really, really tough..

Really? Can people actually read this without wincing?

I’m sympathetic, I really am. Because I too know what it is to be comfortable and safe and pretend everything’s fine. I’m white. My parents aren’t poor, and I make decent money now. I get how annoying it can be, to get called out on that, and to have to listen to people who have problems you don’t. Real fucking problems and issues that exist on a continuum of shame, disrespect, and forced subservience they’ve had to deal with their whole lives.

Everyone on the internet who says 'please stop shouting it makes me sad/afraid/angry' is not white, or middle class, or living in denial. Nor are all the real problems of life related to belonging to an oppressed/angry minority. (And I suspect continuum does not mean what you think it does here either) Some people who are white and middle class demonstrate sympathy with and understanding of complex social problems and actively work to overcome problems that they don't have. Many people who consider themselves the victims of complex social problems are interested only in their perception of their own problems and unsympathetic to the problems of people in similar or worse situations.

For a community of folks who grew up reading comic books and farmers-who-become heroes, we sure do balk when we suddenly go from farm boy to hero. Because that’s a heavy fucking responsibility, and it’s easier to pretend you’re still mewling Peter Parker, complaining about how no girl will fuck you. You may not feel like you have power or influence, but you do – as do I.

Who is going from farm-boy to hero? Who are 'we'? And err so far as the film versions I've sat through, Peter Parker and Spiderman are pretty much equally unpleasant characters.

I hate heroes who I'm told are heroes because they've got a white hat and know how to wear it at a jaunty angle while kicking puppies. I like heroes who use their powers for good, but I have a deep mistrust of anyone in real life or fiction who seriously thinks of themselves as being heroic. ("I will just help this little old lady across the street because I am a HERO!!!" is kind of creepy. I guess this is why superhero narratives and I do not engage well).

[ I ask little old ladies standing by shopping bags looking cold if they're okay or need help because it's what you do not because I'm a hero in my own lunchtime. When they tell me that they're just waiting for their husband to bring the car round but thank you for asking I rush on my way trying not to blush. I keep an eye on people I suspect are going to steal a dog because I care about the dog not because I want an excuse to wear my underpants outside my tights. I write posts like this not because I have influence or power but because I don't have influence or power, all I have is self-published words and a deep mistrust of people who continually justify their own behaviour while condemning lesser misdeeds in others.]

What is so heroic about ganging up on someone to make unpleasant threats and promises? I don't see heroism in the predators at the bus stop, and if I'm forced to compare events then how can I see heroism in a mob descending on a blogger to silence him?

There are a few things we can do when we have power and influence. We can take our toys and go home. Or we can get the fuck up and fight for the people who are continually shit on, and act like a fucking hero would act. I know which I’d rather do.

And clearly your heroes are not my heroes. I watch action movies -- but they're fiction. I turn off my brain and watch the pretty explosions. In action movies every man the hero kills deserves to die. Even the collateral damage is acceptable. The hero is never wrong and whatever they hate is worthy of hate. In Hollywood-land all Russians are bad, they always have been and always will be, and if the hero happens to kill half a dozen random Russians, while he's running around doing some terribly heroic thing that's all about increasing US dominance, he's still a hero. Standing up for the rights of oppressed US citizens everywhere.

I have an icon that reads 'what would Beowulf do?' but I don't mean it literally -- I'm not about to go hack someone's arm off -- nor am I actually comparing myself to a hero of Old English literature. ( Beowulf probably wouldn't have spent time posting on live journal but possibly he'd have been able to adapt that whole insult contest thing to Twitter... ) I don't have an icon saying 'what would Nelson Mandela do?' or one saying 'what wouldn't MLK say?'.

And is it me or is the idea that someone rides out as a self-appointed hero for the oppressed kind of... disturbing. I'm not opposed to narratives where a priviliged individual becomes an ally of the needy, though I prefer if they first demonstrate an actual learning process and affinity, but a narrative where a person who considers themselves priviliged sets out to be the hero of the revolution because being a farm-boy equates to invisibility? Not so hot on that one.

Here too is where I'd want to deploy the word continuum -- there is a lot of middle ground between going home and starting out swinging. There aren't only two options. There's a whole lot of room in between for all those other and less 'heroic' acts like giving up tea and coffee and writing blog posts and petitions and raising money for charity and working with food banks and raising awareness and being one of the people who keeps on and on talking quietly about injustice. It's not only a choice between join-the-mob or walk away. Men of violence*** the world over just like to pretend that it is.


*No one ever said that nothing exists in a vacuum, because plenty of things that are not life are perfectly comfortable in a vacuum.
** I have the same problem with Katniss -- the first film really did the book a service by *not* spending time in her head.
*** I believe that there are times when violence is appropriate or at least forgivable -- I believe that people resort to violence more often than is reasonable or forgiveable because it is the easiest narrative to develop. And that's in fiction as well as real life and vice versa.

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Sunday, February 23rd, 2014
6:42 am - Remember This, There Is No Doubt That Your Name is On Somebody's List.
And the SFWA row goes on. I looked, briefly. Dave Truesdale was doing his thing. I got in trouble over him a decade plus ago. People used to rap me over the knuckles for getting into rows with some of those who're open targets now. And for not being more understanding towards some of those doing the yelling. Some of it was on sff.net even.

A bunch of bigwigs from SFWA once called round here to make me really really sorry for remarks about the membership requirements. And yeah, I learnt that there are people with nothing better to do than read the journals of nobodies they've taken a dislike to in order to reek their rewengey... And no, I can't not make a joke of that because those people are not new in my life -- I've been bullied from primary school on for not being the right shade of pink or the right kind of snow on the line.

I've been told, several times by friends and notfriends that I've screwed any chance I have of getting really published by -- what was the last thing some 'name' said... oh yes, the upshot was that I was trying to make other people feel bad by pretending to be nicer than them.

And yet I believe in what I'm saying (at least when I say it -- I can and do revise my opinions in the face of actual facts or convincing emtional argument) many of those loud noisy voices are being loud and noisy but don't believe. They're opportunists.

The saddest thing this time is that where the current screamfest began was with eyerolling and murmurs of disquiet. Comments were made, people took notice, and for the most part nodded agreement. It looked very much as though changes would happen organically... which is what neither side in the following screaming match wanted. There is no glory or fame in bloodless coups. The heroes of the revolutions created sides and some people volunteered and others were conscripted.

With some the weak join because they're afraid of being blacklisted by those they deem to be powerful careerbreakers, and the strong because they rely on the word of those who drag them in or because they owe their support to friends and associates.

With others it's because the other side is genuinely disquieting in nature and people will always find their friends more trustworthy with power and less noisy. They will sympathise with those they know best (and excuse their faults).

And I can see how both sides appear genuinely disquieting.

One side has Dave Truesdale and his lesbian friend deciding that sexual objectification makes the world go round.

And yet having an extra panel/committee/whatever in the chain of command between editor and president does make me wonder how often adding a layer of supervision works as opposed to making it less possible to assign responsibility. Yes, I understand that something went wrong, but that appears to have been because no one took the Bulletin seriously enough to express a desire for change to the editor. Unless the previous presidents have done so and been ignored... I'm not a fan of adding quangos so that they can announce that 'lessons have been learned' each time there's a train crash. And every time there's a train crash.

The other side started off with a just cause and right on it's side...

But then there was screaming and much rage and hate and people happily joking about how the only contribution an elderly writer can make is to die... Cheering a leader who talks about other writers as being dinosaurs -- who again have nothing to contribute. That person also went off on a rip once about young authors having nothing worth saying... Oh yes, and if you're a mammal (not one of the cockroaches who writes what will sell) you're just a dinosaur in waiting... There are a lot of writers not worth the deadtrees or electricity, it seems.

Disquieting? I've been being told to shut up most of my life. I've learned to cope with people looking at me and seeing a waste of space/food and I expect to be one of those lonely forgotten people who die unmourned -- if I don't live long enough for my death not to be optional. For anyone who has actually experienced oppression or studied things like the Holocaust the idea that those incapable of acceptable contributions are the walking dead... unwanted, unneeded... The young and the old cannot be made use of, they are expendable... more than expendable they are a threat to the economy etc. Even those who have already contributed.

These sides were created by people I don't have any faith in. I don't like either side or what they're saying.

So how does any would-be dinosaur-mammal pick sides in a fight where both sides are led and supported by people saying creepy and disquieting things?

I guess if you don't mind losing friends you say something stupid like this.

Or else you sign up with a Pals Battalion.

But as things stand in this row -- it's the people with loud voices and creepy and disquieting ideas about how things should be who're going to win.


[As a reader I like pretending that I'm being told stories by people who love and believe in them. I know some writers who will write whatever sells. I understand to some extent, but I don't want the cockroaches to entirely take over the industry. I'd rather have mammals. Hell, I'd rather have dinosaurs. ]

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