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because this might bring some people joy Dec. 7th, 2015 @ 02:13 pm
It's officially Not Christmas Yet (because in my family, Christmas season does not start until after my birthday), but: Sensitive Santa is a thing where rooms are being set up where children with special needs, particularly autistic children, can get to visit with Santa in a quiet room with minimal unnecessary sensory inputs.

One of the kids mentioned in the article didn't want to sit on Santa's lap, so he and Santa played with toys on the floor.

They're also in talks to arrange a sign-language-proficient Santa for deaf children.

South Korea apparently does not fail at blame assignment Apr. 11th, 2013 @ 07:38 am
Not helping, Yokohama: Accidentally tweeting that North Korea has fired a missile. Seriously?

Meanwhile, these interview excerpts with Kim Hyun-hee, the former spy who bombed a South Korean passenger plane in 1987, is a good reminder of both how horrifyingly evil the North Korean government is, and how terribly, tragically innocent the North Korean people are.

At first, Kim says she refused to give in to her interrogators, but it was not until they took her driving through the streets of Seoul that she realised all the lies she had been fed by the North Korean regime.

"I saw how modern it was," she said.

"I listened to how the agents around me spoke so freely. This contradicted everything I'd been told in North Korea. I realised then I'd taken innocent lives and I expected to be given the death sentence."

She was, but she was pardoned, ruled a victim of brainwashing.

"I once heard a story that a defector saw my family in a concentration camp about 15 years ago," she said.

"But to this day I have no idea what happened to my family."

She believes the latest sabre-rattling from North Korea is all an effort for the untested leader, Kim Jong-un, to play the tough guy in front of his domestic audience.

"Kim Jong-un is too young and too inexperienced," she said.

"He's struggling to gain complete control over the military and to win their loyalty.

"That's why he's doing so many visits to military bases, to firm up support."

She says the effects of the regime and what it compelled her to do will haunt her for the rest of her life.

"I regret what I did and am repentant. I feel I should not hide the truth to the family members of those who died," she said.

"It is my duty to tell them what happened."

In a way, I admire the strength it takes to acknowledge wrongdoing on that scale, and live with it. Historically, the general course of action for people who have done something that terrible, and subsequently realised how wrong their action was, has been suicide. Instead, it seems that Kim Hyun-hee has spent a quarter of a century acknowledging her crime, owning her guilt, and accepting it as a burden she must carry, to live as a witness to the circumstances of such a terrible, terrible event.

Randomly signalboosting Apr. 6th, 2013 @ 10:59 pm
Misogyny, Sexism, and Why RPS Isn't Shutting Up.

John Walker is pretty darn awesome, actually.

One of the things that's interesting, to me, is this:

To remove the accusations of “linkbait”, I’ve put a complete version of this article on Pastebin – people are welcome to link to that instead should they wish to complain about it without providing us hits. And with this specific article you’re welcome to copy and paste the words anywhere you want, to avoid having to direct any traffic toward us. This is the best method I can think of to get away from the accusation. I want to communicate, not garner some hits on a graph.

Because the thing is, I can't actually think of very many men who are taking up this discussion, seriously, on an ongoing basis. John Walker is something of a rare treasure that way.

(Comments on the post in question are turned off, but I can assure you, he's copped AMAZING hostility in comments threads on previous posts.)

I have complicated thoughts about the importance of people who aren't affected by varPrejudice but are opposed to it actually voicing that opposition, but I'm up too late and really tired.

There is no reason to explain why I came across this Dec. 10th, 2012 @ 10:27 pm
Kamahl reads Bad Romance. Yes, the Lady Gaga song Bad Romance.


Reads Lady Gaga lyrics.

If you are not suddenly realising that you not only want, but need this in your life, you probably have an inadequate knowledge of at least one of these people.

Because it is Kamahl reading lines like want you in my rear window baby you're sick and it is more beautiful than words could ever say.

Current Mood: KAMAHL

It is time to get around to this... Sep. 24th, 2011 @ 11:48 am
I've had this image open in a Firefox tab for weeks now.

That woman is Fukuda Keiko, and I am in awe of her, and kind of in love with her. She's the last surviving student of Kano Jigoro, who founded judo. She was the first woman to be promoted above 5th dan - she's made it to 9th dan in the Kodokan rankings (and United States Judo Federation, but Kodokan is the one that matters most - it was the one founded by Kano Jigoro himself, for a start), and recently was awarded the 10th dan by USA Judo.

She's the first woman to reach the rank of 10th dan, and only the sixteenth person ever.

Just looking at her picture makes me ridiculously happy. Not just because she looks like such a lovely, lovely person - but because judo is written in my heart, and there is a woman who is a tenth dan now.
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No workplace modification for people with disabilities is small enough... Sep. 23rd, 2011 @ 11:59 am
In 2008, a charity organisation called the Association of Voluntary Organisations in Wrexham (AVOW) took over a Wrexham council contract. A charity worker named Genny Bove transferred to AVOW with the contract. She was known to them, having previously done short-term work during which she tried unsuccessfully to get them to provide her with an area in which to work with suitable lighting to avoid triggering her severe migraines.

From Private Eye:
When AVOW's Chief Officer John Gallanders learned that Ms Bove was to be transferred to AVOW with a new contract matching her existing employment terms, he requested an enhanced criminal records check. In a letter seen by the tribunal, he explained this was because: "It might be a long shot, but there may be something that shows up in this which may indicate she is unstable [sic] for the job."

Meanwhile AVOW refused Ms Bove's pleas to replace a fluorescent light above her desk with an alternative bulb - as her previous employer had done and which the tribunal estimated would have cost £20.

After she started a disability grievance procedure against AVOW, Mr Gallanders decided to "experiment" by holding a meeting in a room with similarly problematic light bulbs...

Funnily enough, the employment tribunal found that part to be just a tiny bit inappropriate. Well, according to Private Eye, they said it was "shocking" and that they don't use that word lightly.

Ms Bove was awarded £21,000 after the tribunal ruled she had been "constructively dismissed". The settlement does include money for "injury to feelings", as well as lost wages. Personally I still think it's rather on the small side, taking into account that the boss deliberately tried to trigger her migraines and that, no, seriously, all she wanted was for them to change a damn light bulb. I wouldn't call that an unreasonable request for someone to make on the basis of, "I just don't like fluorescent lights," let alone a situation like hers.

Third Sector Online reports that: "The tribunal judgement, which was received by Bove this week, said AVOW discriminated against her "in the form of direct discrimination, victimisation, and a failure to comply with its duty to make reasonable adjustments"."

Worth reposting... May. 22nd, 2011 @ 01:45 pm
From John Safran, on twitter: Apparently, when God said that today the saints would defeat the demons, he was just giving his footy tips. Because that actually did happen.

Because I am evil and I hate you Feb. 21st, 2011 @ 11:19 am
Gemcraft, Chapter Zero.

It's a bit harder than GemCraft, it has more battle modes, instead of water trenches you have gem-powered traps, and I have lost entire days to this.

Sometimes, when I lie in bed, before going to sleep, I can hear the pop-pop-pop of gem attacks hitting monsters, while rainbow-coloured lights flash before my eyes.


I haven't been around. Feb. 11th, 2011 @ 04:07 pm
Seriously. Haven't read anything in weeks. There's stuff.

I'm only really posting to propagate this.

The people holding hands are Christian Egyptians, forming a shield to protect Muslim Egyptians while they pray. This happened on the most violent day of the protests.

Naww. Oct. 24th, 2010 @ 06:49 pm
I just watched this video about a "princess boy" - a kid who likes pretty, pretty things and dressing up in dresses.

Whose parents and school are totally supportive and go out of the way to make this okay and make sure he doesn't get bullied. His mother took him to psychologists and suchlike because she was worried that this was the "gender confusion" thing you hear about - and she wanted to make sure he was happy. (I get the impression that if he'd turned out to be trans, she'd be one of those parents who lets their little kid live as a different gender, but this little boy is a boy, he's just a boy who likes to feel pretty.) She even wrote a children's book about it.

His father is also in the interview segment, and says that he wants his son to grow up happy that his parents supported him, whether it's just a phase or truly who he is.

It's pretty cool, I recommend watching it. (The summary is for those who can't.) Although the "Naww" of the subject line is mostly because, on the day they filmed this, the kid had a cold, and when the interviewer tries to talk to him, he is the most adorably pathetic person in the world. He tries, but he's clearly just out of it and it's tragically, tragically cute.

I suspect it says unflattering things about me that I was sort of more surprised/impressed at the father than I was the mother - something in me assumes that a father will have more trouble with a pretty princess-dressing son than a mother will.

But that guy is an awesome, loving dad who wants his son to feel loved and supported by his parents. The kid's older brother also talks about how he wants his little brother to be happy, because then he's happy, and their father gives him a proud shoulder-hug from off-screen.

Those boys are going to grow up to be good men, I think, because they're clearly good kids, and their primary male role model seems pretty rock-solidly awesome. He looks like he's big and manly, but at the same time, he's openly loving and his first priority in fatherhood is for his kids to feel loved and supported in their choices.

Oh my. Oct. 20th, 2010 @ 04:20 pm
Still not dead.

This is simultaneously possibly the best and the worst Narnia/anything crossover fic EVER.

(Narnia/SG1. Very short. Horrifyingly plausible.)
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Hm. Oct. 12th, 2010 @ 04:36 am
I'm not sure anyone reading this won't already be aware of the utter crazy hell happening, but the latest update confuses me somewhat.

Who is Catherine Young, that maybe witnessing something at her old trailer is enough to make people try to destroy someone's life?

Overconfidence... Oct. 8th, 2010 @ 11:30 am
So, there's this thing, where someone will undertake some kind of criminal behaviour, and succeed. And succeed again. And again.

Where there's this psychological effect in which, even if it's subconscious, the person starts to become convinced that they're not lucky, they're just that good.

I think something like that happened to Tim Langdell. That, and/or he assumed that once granted a patent was beyond question...

Otherwise, it's hard to explain making fraudulent trademark infringement claims against EA Games. A massive corporation with lots and lots of money and lots and lots of lawyers... over something that was an established franchise for them.

If you hit "I'll see you in court!" against a company the size of EA, it's really not a good idea to do so over an issue where they can trivially, yet thoroughly, prove that everything you've asserted to the US Patent Office and the court is a lie.

Things which are awesome Sep. 28th, 2010 @ 11:02 am

Connected Ideas: Libertarianism, Rand Paul, Racism, Rome, and EVE Online Jun. 1st, 2010 @ 10:54 am
So, Rachel Maddow asked Rand Paul about his view on the Civil Rights Act and his belief that it should not have desegregated private businesses such as restaurants by law.

An aside: Rachel Maddow is, in some respects, a vastly better woman than I, because in interviews such as this, I would very quickly reach the point of saying: "That's not what I asked you. I asked you [question]. Can you answer that question, please?" "Uh-huh. And [question]?" *interrupts* "Yes or no. [QUESTION]?" Which would probably make me come off as kind of a jerk.

I won't go into the ramifications of how wrong he is. I'm pretty sure anyone reading this is likely to be aware of the ways in which racism is perpetuated by allowing its open propagation.

I just finished reading a book called The Day of the Barbarians, by Alessandro Barbero. It's an account of the circumstances surrounding a battle in the late fourth century, which was both the culmination of a barbarian uprising and a turning point in the history of the Roman Empire. (I recommend the book, by the way - I might make a separate post on it at some point.)

The Roman Empire, at that point, prided itself somewhat on its integration of many, many ethnic groups into the Empire. By the fourth century religious tensions were causing more trouble than racial ones, as far as I can tell - Catholics vs Arian Christians (which is a whole 'nother post in itself), and the pagans were still around - but there was still some genuine and serious racism around. If you were tall and blonde, you were inferior, because tall and blonde meant barbarian. Real people were short and dark. (This was, after all, an empire with its roots in the Mediterranean.)

This isn't my expert area of history, by the way, and the book I just read was focussed on conflicts between the Roman Empire and the Goths, so I'm not sure where Africans stood in the racist hierarchy of the Empire; I suspect that may somewhat have varied by region. In Egypt, for example, it was probably a lot higher where many black people would have been traders or immigrants than in Constantinople, where most of them would have been slaves. People didn't seem to travel that much, but slaves went *everywhere*.

Possibly this was safer than keeping them local, mind you. The barbarian uprising the book is about received no small amount of assistance from the fact that *everyone* in the region, pretty much, had Gothic slaves. As a source of both manpower and intel, this was invaluable.

On the subject of slavery, if only because I sometimes struggle to remember that no, really, slavery is recent, I recommend the excellent Ta-Nehisi Coates's recent post: Sacrifice. No, seriously, read it.

Anyway, the thing is, there were a lot of ostentatious speeches and so on touting the wonder of immigration, of how Romanised the barbarians became, and how they strengthened the Empire as soldiers and as farmers and workers. Racism was in some ways a threat to the success of the state and they deliberately worked against it.

Nothing changes. And yet, progress does happen. I'm just sayin'.

Meanwhile, the issue of libertarianism is involved in all this.

Libertarianism is bad. I've written three chapters of a novel I really should finish at some point partly on that topic, but if you really want to see why libertarianism is bad, you should look into EVE Online.

EVE Online is internet spaceships, but it's more than that. It's essentially the universe libertarians want - it's the free market, unrestrained capitalism, and personal liberty unrestrained.

And you know what?

It's a fun game, but the universe itself is a dystopian hell where money is power, life is cheap, ordinary people don't matter (player characters are not ordinary people, but they ruin - or take - the lives of many of them), and might makes right. Got a problem with someone else? The only way to settle it is often violence, and there's always collateral damage. One of the Empire factions, the Amarr, is pro-slavery, whereas another, the Minmatar, is founded by former slaves. They're at war. Player characters on both sides fight over slavery, too... and the collateral damage is significant there too.

I saw an argument erupt at the Intergalactic Summit after ships from Ushra'Khan, an alliance of mostly-Minmatar player pilots who are vehemently anti-slavery (motto: "We come for our people.") destroyed a ship which turned out to be carrying a cargo of slaves, for example.

I think one of the things I love about EVE is that it's basically an ongoing counter-argument to libertarianism.

(Full disclosure: My character in EVE Online has a not-insignificant number of slaves - and other people, actually - in her hangar at a space station. This is because I've occasionally found them, one way or another, while running missions and so on. I couldn't bring myself to let them die in space, so I took them back to the station, where - and I swear to you this is true - I made sure they also had large quantities of food, water, soft drinks, consumer electronics, and any other trade good I could find that I thought would improve their lives. If CCP ever put in place - as some players frequently ask - a mechanic whereby slaves can be freed, I am so doing that.)

Philosophy not incompatible with The Lols Dec. 17th, 2009 @ 10:50 am
So, the Wikipedia entry on the White Horse Discourse has an explanation of the problem and secondary explanation of the difficulties with translation of it and the historical to contemporary relevance of the concepts it explores.

It also as a picture of a white horse with its head down and the caption: "A white horse suffering an identity crisis," with the words white horse linking to the section of the "White (horse)" page headed Horses that appear white, but are not.
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Oh world... Oct. 24th, 2009 @ 09:47 am
A long time ago, I reached a conclusion about a general category of "Thing that matter to people, which I do not personally understand". It amounts to this: If they're not hurting anyone, then fine.

This is why my initial attitude towards transfolk, when I encountered the concept, amounted to: "Huh. Okay."

Of course, my attitude towards the first trans person I ever met was wide-eyed stuttering, but that was because I had an overwhelming crush on her and sometimes it takes me that way. It's her fault for being both hot and a giant geek.

I don't understand people who don't have that attitude, or who deliberately construct hurt where none exists.

This is why I was rather thoroughly delighted by this story wherein the answer to the question of who two cross-dressing men are hurting is: "Those guys, and they totally deserve it.

Summary: Two blokes deciding to be a bit silly for a stag night drag up. This is the minidress and pink wig version of drag - drag as silly costume.

Two drunkards decide to attack them.

This does not end well for them, because the dragged-up celebrants they're attacking are, in fact, professional cage fighters on a night out.

The cage fighters won.

It took me longer to type that sentence than it took the cage fighters to win.

This morning I woke up, and was kept awake by what turned out to be approximately eight people, across three generations of a family, chatting directly outside my door.

Eventually I got up, opend the door, and squinted out at them.

"Are we waking you up, are we?"
"Sorry. We're just going out. Tit for tat, isn't it?"
"Tit for tat, isn't it?"
"Is it?"

Thank you for playing, passive-aggressive woman from Edinburgh, come again.

I was not knowingly loud last night coming in. Other people were coming and going quite a lot; part of why I stayed up much later than I intended is that other people were up late. It was Friday night, people seemed to be coming and going for that reason.

(Side-note: I was mildly disconcerted by all the people who seemed to be pubbing and clubbing last night as I passed through Inverness, Nairn and Elgin; finally I remembered that on the previous two Friday nights I've spent in Britain, for one I was at home with my uncle, aunt and cousins in a tiny village in Wiltshire, for the other I was at home with my great-uncle, great-aunt, and second cousin on a farm in Aberdeenshire. Neither is really a place to see the nightlife.)

Anyway, the thing about dealing with noisy people in places like B&Bs is this: any indication, however slight, that someone is making noise that's bothering people will generally get them to shut up. People are usually just unaware of it.

Meanwhile, the one staff person I've encountered this morning was terribly nice - provided me with milk for my cereal (I fetched my own cereal from my car, because I had some GF rice flakes in there) and was cheerful about me borrowing a spoon from the breakfast room to go back to my room to munch. She offered me breakfast there, etc; I explained that I drove several hundred miles yetserday and I'm really really tired.

Right now I'm watching an old episode of The Saint of which, sadly, I missed the first five minutes. Roger Moore really was very swoony, although in the character of the Saint he seems a lot gayer than I remember him being in anything else I've ever seen him in.

Oh, but he has such sexy eyebrow work.

Even if Templar is stupid enough to leave his weapons lying around for them to be used against him.

Today, my only sightseeing plan involves a tourist spot that has been taunting me. See, I've drivin the road between Elgin and Inverness six times now, and every time seen a sign pointing the way to a Pictish Fort. I wan't to go see it, dammit.

Other than that, I shall go through my Highland photos and try to catch up a little on sleep.99

*cough* Aug. 26th, 2009 @ 12:06 pm
Apparently, about a week ago, I managed to miss it when my turn came up on Shakesville What the Hell?

The 80s really were the decade that style forgot.
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Idle notes Aug. 7th, 2009 @ 11:57 am
Today, I'm setting out to make real and substantial progress on getting my essay written.  The couch is currently a Sami Zone, which isn't fair on housemates, but it's only for a couple more days.  Stacks of books, my b&w laser printer on the coffee table, all to blitz through my essay.

So, quick link: Profile-ish piece on Warren Hern, specialist in late-term abortions.

Fair warning: I cried a little, at the end. Because this is about people involved in performing late-term abortions, which never happen for a reason that isn't utterly, utterly tragic, and the people who do this difficult, terrible job have to suffer hatred and real danger to do it.

I guestposted at Shakesville... Jul. 25th, 2009 @ 12:55 pm
See a Real Live Police State - See America First!

Going to the zoo today. Need a long walk in pleasant surroundings to clear my head.
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