No longer as truthful as should be deserved, some names, places and events deliberately vague to protect identities that aren't mine

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Personal Pronouns

Theresa May posts on Facebook and Twitter:
"If I lose just six seats I will lose this election..."
Firstly, note the use of I, not the Conservative Party.
But more importantly, this shows just how ridiculous it is that the Conservatives should be so complacent about this election when their position is in fact so tenuous as to be not just in danger, but eliminated if they lose a mere 6 seats
May is so self-assured of her victory that she is campaigning on a manifesto that even includes restarting the fox hunting debate, taking lunches away from school children, and bringing in flawed voter ID and internet censorship laws.
As one friend pointed out: "if these are their campaign promises, what the hell are they planning to sneak in quietly after the election?!"
6 seats isn't many and some good strong tactical voting could cause May and the Tories to rethink their positions as a result.
If you vote Conservative in this election, you will get May for the long haul.
If you vote Conservative, you will get Hard Brexit with no final say by the public and a very limited say even by our elected representatives.
If you vote Conservative you get someone who prioritises foxhunting over the NHS.
If you vote Conservative you will get an increasingly authoritarian and invasive state, far worse than anything the EU ever regulated.
If you vote Conservative you will have no guarantee that the changes Brexit brings will still leave you with 28 days holiday, the right to paid leave, or to discuss your working hours, or retain your job when you are sick for a long time.
If you vote Conservative, you will get confirm that it's not about the Conservatives, it is about Theresa May, her personal vision of dystopia, and those 6 seats.
For the love of all god(s),
#anyonebutthetories

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Skies of darkest blue

A friend posted this today which struck a chord:
https://unguardedweb.wordpress.com/2017/05/12/behind-dark-clouds-and-silver-linings/

I'm doing better than him.  Mentally at least.  But I have a whole host of problems, physical and mental, and every day I run up against blocks that remind me I'm forced to adapt, and in many cases, limit, my life.

There's the daily pills that keep my immune system from collapsing.
There's being audibly wheezing from he stairs to my friend's place after going up and down them twice whilst helping them move out.
There's the constant question in the back of my head, that maybe I have to accept that a mid level 9-5 office job is the best that's sustainable for me mentally, despite how that infurirates me in its own ways.
There's the days when I sit for 2 hours at a train station because I'm in so much pain I can't move to get home and I just have to wait it out
There's learning, long ago, how to get through 2 or 3 days at a time on no sleep, because it happens so regularly I couldn't classify it as sick time and keep a job.

He's right - you just accept it.  You have to.  You occasionally wonder at all the things you could do if you didn't constantly adjust your life just so you can get through your days without breaking down in some way.  But that doesn't stop it from being the case.

I tweet about my cramps
But I sit there, for 2 hours, in the cold and the wet.
Until I can move again.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Storms approaching

This rambles a bit, I couldn't quite find the words I wanted, or the order I wanted, and I certainly haven't edited it, but here goes


"It'll be war"
I said, following the Brexit result.  A bit doom and gloom perhaps, but like so many I saw in the result the affirmation of the downhill slide I'd been witnessing, and trying desperately to push to the back of my mind for a while.

Increasing radicalisation.  Increasing partisanship.  An increasing 'us or them' mentality.  It was all someone's fault.  The immigrants usually.  From across the world there were 'immigrants' (we called them 'refugees' once upon a time) fleeing warzones and persecution and bringing their foreign problems with them.

The other day Comey was fired.  Let's be clear, Comey was an asshole; at best he was manipulated, and at worse he intentionally revealed spurious and questionable information about an ongoing investigation for political benefit.  But his firing doesn't sit right in a lot of ways.  The most thought provoking comment I saw on the subject was the following:
"First they came for the Attorney General, but I did not speak out; then they came for the Director of the FBI...."
It's a theme that gets replayed over and over at the moment by those attempting to counter the us verses them approach of today's politics.  At what point will we stop being us, and one by one, become them, to find as in Niemoller's poem, there is no one left to speak up for us(i.e. them)?

Today I read this:
RUSSIA ENDS INVESTIGATION INTO ANTI-GAY ABUSE IN CHECHNYA CLAIMING THERE ARE ‘NO VICTIMS’
I'm biased of course, but the phrasing jumps out at me.  It's not "we found no signs of abuse", or "we found no evidence of activity at these locations."  It's "there are no victims."  Which sounds ominously like Kadryov's gay people "do not exist" in Chechnya.
Maybe they did, until very recently.  Maybe no longer.



The absolute fear that society is sliding into some nazi-esque style oppression and purge is especially strong amongst young intellectual liberals.  We were raised in safety. the advent children of Europe.  There were singular terror events of horrific nature, but there was no extended at-home conflict.  We were far from war, far from the descending conditions and conflicts that lead to violent outbreaks .
My mother was raised in the post-war society.  She played in bombed out shells of buildings as a child.  Rations were still in effect.  Maybe her experience grants her the perspective to see a difference I can't.
But when I was 11, and first thought I might be gay, the age of consent was still different; you couldn't marry a same sex partner, civil partnerships didn't exist and were barely even a topic of discussion.  Matthew Shephard was killed that year.  It was a defining moment of me approaching my sexuality as I realised there were many many Matthew Shephard's that didn't get a newspaper article about them.  A family and children was out of the question.  Being gay, or bi or whatever, meant an isolated life, or one of secrecy or both.
When I was 21, the age of consent was equal, civil partnerships were well established, there were murmrings of what would become the marriage equality battle, celebrities were gay and on tv and when they left the public eye it was to look after their adopted children.

The world around me had changed in a profound and incredible way.  In such a short space of time.  The growing possibilities were endless.
And now?  Now almost another 10 years later, the world has shrunk very small indeed.  From a growing discussion on how Trans and more being sidelined and ignored in the LGBT+ acronym, we are now back to deciding where it is okay for people to use a toilet cubicle or not.  A gay couple went to a pub local to me and one was glassed in the face for holding hands.  There is a growing body of evidence that suggest that gay men in Cechyna are being persecuted, and more worryingly the goverment response is to say 'those people dont exist'.  There is a video going around of an MEP who said openly, in European Parliament, that "women must earn less than men because they are smaller, weaker, and less intelligent."  He was suspended for a mere 10 days.  A punishment he has previously faced several times, on one occassion for giving a nazi salute in Parliament.  This man was voted in and hasn't been forcibly evicted by a group of pitchfork bearing women and men who find his viewpoints unconscionable.  House Republicans in the US recently passed a bill that would amongst other dire classifications, once again, make rape a pre-existing condition, allowing you to make someone's healthcare insurance premium more expensive..  The fact forced sex against your will and consent was ever considered a pre-existing condition is somehow already acceptable.  The West is celebrating that only 1/3 of people in France voted for an extreme right wing candidate.  As recently as 2 weeks ago a Tory MP told a group of A-level students that being gay is wrong.

My mother wonders why I am worried.
Because no amount of being white and male will make up for the fact I have sex with men.  Because just as quickly as society expanded and changed, I've seen it close up on itself and people-at-large do nothing about it except the occasional tut.  Because the people telling me to calm down are ones who will probably be up against the wall much later that I will be.  Because when I first wondered about my sexuality and how my life might be, this was the kind of thing to be scared of if people found out.

I am scared because given the dramatic changes forward and back in 20 years, it's only a small step for someone to decide I am one of 'them'.  That I am the problem.  That those kind of problems don't exist in this country.  And my country, Europe, the US, will do nothing except maybe hand out a 10 day suspension.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

It finally happened.

It comes as a surprise to none of you, I know that.  It's long overdue as far as you're all concerned.


But to me, it was a big and oddly-troubling decision.


I've never liked UK politics.  I've routinely hated UK politics.  I gain some inexplicable fascination and amusement out of US politics even as a globalised world means its own actions no longer are isolated from my life; but I continue to consider this fascination a distinct and singular aberration.  I detest politics, in so many ways.  It is broken, in ways that for all our supposed intellectualism we are unable to solve or even simply alleviate in any way thus far.  I acutely despise a world that makes politics the demesne of the financially independent, or obnoxiously vocative.  That necessitates tactical voting.  Where associations collaborate to decide explicit rules purely for the purpose of intentionally bending them in every way possible.  Politics is a universal and unrestrained disaster.  And we deserve every grievance we get for it.

It's a decision I've been debating internally for a substantial amount of time.  Both that, and the fact I was even considering it in the first place both struck me.  I have generally voted Lib Dem, Green or Independent all my life, that 's no shock,  But to actively align, to declare myself; to involve myself; that was always unconscionable to me.

Credit must of course go, to 2 friends in particular, who have in large part, convinced me of the merits, not of politics, not of parties, but specifically of the Liberal Democrats.  They made no grand appeals to my sense of fairness, no late night debates over the social mores of our time, they in fact, said nearly nothing.
They acted.  They continued on with their lives as they always had.  And their passion and commitment, both unique yet clear and undeniable, was disarming.  I have met few people so openly, unapologetically, and plainly open about their beliefs on the world.  My ignorance was never made to feel awkward, nor did it result in avoiding discussing things around me.  Sometimes, they were irritatingly quiet when I wished they would say more, or explain more, to help my own understanding of my shifting views.   But they let me come to my own views in my own time.
I went to Sleaford and ended up delivering leaflets.  That's simple I guess.  But I went to Sleaford to see a friend, to spend time with a friend, not to help in a campaign.  He never asked me to either.  But I chose to.  Because walking up every driveway in an housing estate or quietly addressing envelopes at a dining room table was about spending time with a friend, and seeing passion shine forth from him pure as you could ask for in the world.


I cannot, and will not sit by and do nothing.
I wholeheartedly, completely, rabidly believe in the right to vote.  I struggle to understand the right not to vote.
I disagree with Brexit, and even though I can understand the viewpoints now better than I chose to at the time of the referendum (credit for that goes to another acquaintance of rare and special mention; one who I admire for being more intelligent than me), I still fundamentally disagree with them.
I was born in the era of globalisation.  I was born in the era of the EU.  I was born a citizen of the EU.   Even after Brexit, I will, in my heart and mind, if no longer on paper, continue to be a citizen of the EU.
There are people who will fight for that.  There are people who will stand up and be counted for that when the need arrives.  There are people who believe in a more global world.  There are people who believe in paying higher taxes to help society.  There are people who desire a more federalised Europe.   There are people who think the status quo is something to be suspicious of.  Not all of these people are Lib Dems; not all Lib Dems are these people.  But I choose now to align myself with people who display more passion for their beliefs than I ever expected to find outside of religion.

I do not expect the Lib Dems, or Labour for that matter to win this election.  I expect Brexit to still happen.  But I wish to be counted.  I am ready to be counted.  I haven't entirely worked out what that means past this, but after today, now was the time to choose.




This isn't doing much, at all, really, in the grand scheme of things, or even in smaller, less-conspiratorial schemes perhaps.  But for me, this is a bigger moment than it first appears.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

We, The Unwilling, Led by The Unqualified...

For those of you who haven't been following the USA Hockey/USWNT dispute, what's particularly despicable about this whole affair, is that rather than admit the failing, rather than pay for USWNT's equipment, or their disability insurance during the Olympics, rather than find equal sponsorship, or pay their athletes more, or hell, just on a yearly basis, USA Hockey have decided not to do any of this.

First when USWNT refused to play to secure equal rights as athletes, USA Hockey started asking all the women's hockey players in the NWHL. They refused.
Then, they started asking NCAA (Collegiate level) women's hockey players to go to the Winter Olympics, instead of the elite team that has been training constantly for the past 4 years. They refused.
Now USA Hockey are asking women's athletes from nonprofessional leagues including high schoolers to pit themselves against professional grade athletes from other countries, but they still wouldn't get disability insurance, and would still have to pay for their own kit.

The US Women's Hockey team is ABSOLUTELY SUPERB. They have medalled in EVERY SINGLE Winter Olympics since women's hockey was introduced as a sport and have won the World Championship SEVEN times since 2000.
They are paid $1000 a month for 6 months, every 4 years, during the Olympic season only. For this they are expected to train year-round, every year. When they travel to play, they are booked coach and have to share a room with a teammate. If they're lucky enough to have one of the very few NWHL spots available, salaries range between $10000-26000 a year, and these salaries were slashed to a 'we'll pay what we can' basis earlier this year due to league financial problems.

The men's team? Their initial pay from US Hockey is no higher, but they universally are pulled from the NHL,wherer MINIMUM salaries are $650k per year. They fly business class, get a room to themselves, and can take a guest, who also flies business. Their equipment is paid for at very top grade of what's available. The receive extensive and thorough insurances.
USA Hockey, which has a mandate to grow the game, spends $3.5million on male outreach and youth projects per year. There is NO comparable women's outreach effort.
The performance of the men's hockey team?
They've got Olympic silver twice and world championships silver twice too since 2000. The rest of the time they failed to medal at all.

This is so far beyond any discussion of 'unfair glass ceilings'. This is pure discrimination. US hockey refuses not only to provide the women's team with the same level of benefits and supports as the inferior men's team, but when challenged about it, have elected to try and REPLACE the women's team, even going far as to trying to recruit high school seniors in place of top level professional athletes. And it will continue to not offer any of those high school seniors the same benefits and support as the men's team.

Make no mistake, the women's team CONSTANTLY performs BETTER and achieves MORE, IN SPITE of not having anywhere the same advantages of a bunch of rich white men. The organisation that is supposed to help them have said its 'too expensive' to give those things to the team that is of a consistently higher, but ultimately female, standard.



As an addendum, US Hockey appears in somewhat of a panic today, as largely all professional sporting leagues in the US have come out against their position.

Worse will for US Hockey, they NHL Players Association has voiced its support of NHL players threatening to boycott the upcoming World Championships in solidarity with USWNT.

Sometimes the work isn't a cold dark place....


 However as a counterpoint to the above comment, A LOT of the comments I have seen re: the female athlete's position is: 'they should stop whining and do what theyre paid to do.'

Sometimes the world needs firebombing till humanity is wiped from the face of it.

Monday, 16 January 2017

Layers within layers within layers

Paranoia.

It's a bitch.

In some ways, its amazing - the layers of impossible completely unrelated phenomena together with totally implausible but just real enough to be viable connections even the world's best mad scientists couldn't dream up in a hundred years - if you could bottle it you'd put quantum supercomputers to shame.

But its horrific.  It takes everything you know and experience and twists it in the most specific worst way possible to harm you and sow strife and doubt about what you know and what you've perceived and experienced. In ways and extents you never thought possible.

The slightest vague thought, slightly not heard utterance, even positive ones, leave wild open parks for paranoia to play in.  Each opening spawns hundreds of new possibilities and open points to connect. 

New information, about something completely different, even years later is then collated, and run against every single possible scenario your paranoia has ever come across, wondering not only does it confirm or deny that particular possibility at every event along the chain, but also, what new possibilities does it spawn off each and every data point that you hadnt previously considered.  And then rerun with your data and recalculate new possibilities again.  And then rerun and repeat again.  And again.

You can even have voices in your head saying you things that you WISH were true, but know they're not, but the just possible enough viability of all the other bad things means you suffer the foolish hope that this outside impossibility might be stand even a small glimmer of hope.

Or two things that are mutually exclusive, such as times and places that are mutually exclusive that you still completely believe both situations happened and contribute to the same narrative.

You believe that things started with the best of intentions went wrong along the line and fit into a crippling warped narrative that leaves you questioning your reality

When you try to determine reality your paranoia again attacks that process - is the subject upset because you think that lowly or them, because of the emotional nature of the discussion, or because that's the reality they won't admit to, or because of a multiple layer bluff of these?  So you model all four scenarios into your paranoid narrative and create 4 new possible timelines, that you then need to populate with paranoia-attached inference permutations of all the actual factual data points they subject provided.

The only way to combat paranoia is asking for objective factual observations of others involved.  This is quite hard for others let alone to then piece together yourself.  It so restrained.
Persons x and y were here.
They had phones out and on and I did/didn't see x on the screen.
It happened at y time.
I was with x and then said y (cross-reference with y's own statement)

Apply every single possible bias possibility from every known source, internal and external, and know context of persons/place/time/including theirs, your own, other people's and the difference in perspective.

Redraw narrative.  Reapply entire process to apply new and missed possibilities and connections. 

Sunday, 2 October 2016

Hellenica Day 3

My third full day - tomorrow I leave, but not till late, and tomorrow my friend finally has a day off work to spend together.

We drive 75km there and back to drop my friend at work - a necessity so he can work at one of the more lucrative tourist spots whilst affording a house.

I'm shown the port of Piraeus and the coast road in the light - it was dark walking it last night, only the huge ferries were obvious.  4000 people a day to Crete.  The only other feature I previously was introduced to, also at night, was the cruising spot in the ferry park at 2am - Turkish truck drivers stay on one side, Greek ones on the other.   Alas it was dead - no fish market on Saturday night means no trade to drive the 'trade'

We take the long coast road to Glyfada, passing endless tourist restaurants opposite multiple harbours of sailboats and yachts.  Nothing too huge; nothing too outlandish, that remains firmly the demesne of the ferry and container ports, at least while there's no big cruise ship in town - its nearly the end of the season here.

I'm dropped at the Flea Market and pointed towards Constitution Square.  Never ending 'unique' craft outlets and tourist tat that would no doubt have my aunts haggling like the seasoned pros their heritage entitles them to.  I take in the National Park and actually go into the Zappeion this time - a Russian cultural programme is being held - a photo exhibit and later a series of music performances which I return for.  I'm much more a fan of the Russian music tradition than Greek and the weather and setting of the Zappeion lend themselves well to outdoor performances with a wandering audience.

A circuitous route down to the Metro station adds to the km walked again today - my shoes become marked even whiter from my travels.   Back at Piraeus I manage to navigate enough Grenglish to order myself some souvlaki for another late lunch/dinner before starting the 5km uphill walk to my friend's house - no one parks with their wheels towards the curb; this seems almost sacreligious.  As I pass the Greek Orthodox churches (increasing in density as I travel away from the tourist port area) they are calling people to Sunday evening prayers - 1900, a little later than the British tradition, but not perhaps surprisingly given the warmer climate and longer sunlight hours.  Flashes of gold glitter at me from inside the churches and the spiritual side of me wishes to go in, observe, and join the service - to experience and feed on the spirituality of others which thereby renews my own.  But I've not had a confident day; I realise I know nothing of the Greek Orthodox tradition; I'm in an almost exclusively local area by now; and I'm wearing my bleachers which are hardly appropriate; I do not wish to offend or intrude upon the importance of the ritual of attendance and service for those who's place this is, so I move on.  I'll obtain my spiritual fulfillment another day.

Exhausted at home, I sleep for 2h before needing to go pick up my friend from work.  I drag myself up and get changed again before heading out - the 30km over the last 48h is making itself known.  As are insect bites from a rest in the National Park earlier.  A memory surfaces.  Exhausted whilst on holiday and yet going out - both me and my ex always tired from our various trials each day - both always forcing a way to drag ourselves up and out.  To see each other in the brief time we had, to see others when we had the rare chances, to rescue those who always seem to need it from boys barely holding on themselves.

I think I'll lie in tomorrow.