Life

Work Day

Wednesday, May 24th, 2017

To see people is this journey, and adventure.

It starts with the preparation.  What must I think about?  My handbag and my equipment.  Clothes, clothes, what shall I wear, ah the dark blue, ever reliable.  Not black, no Sir, not black because that’s the default of that group, of those people or those people or them.

Let’s not be mistaken for belonging.

Oh, the fear of it takes me and I have another cup of stimulant activate the brain make it go faster the black cloud is dogging my footsteps must keep ahead keep running keep going oh gods why is it so quiet here my mind is going around and around and that thing from childhood and embarrassment that happened then it was just the other day when

Happy music, my body has moved, the other part of me has put on happy music.

Soothing, beats; girls and boys sing in high tones with heavy vibration through my floor.  It’s all about love and dancing.

Oh, it’s all about love and dancing, push out the words while it happens give birth to a new idea launch into the wilderness, Kate says like an arrow and we’ll never forget her lyrics and what they meant talking about forbidden love only now understood.

Each key under my stumbling fingers, feels different, but the dichotomy is that my position is numb, constantly backspace rubout delete delete delete can’t even spell that right, and the machine corrects and underlines and takes away the autonomy so it doesn’t matter as much and I am trained and taught that imprecision is ok when it’s not!

I knock the cup over because my hands don’t know where they are.

The music has stopped but I don’t notice because I have heard it and memorised it, rinse and repeat, how the shampoo companies love the Japanese who follow the instruction to the letter.  The music in my head carries on with perfect recall, but I couldn’t tell you the words because I have not isolated that part and thus my memory in the whole is an amalgam in the whole of the music, I can analyse it and split it.

How long have I been sitting here?

Coffee cup is empty, hip hurts, must push these words out, they’ll be good words I know a stream of perfect meaning.  Stop.  Get coffee.  Move.

Is it?

I ask myself all the time, is it a stream of perfect meaning.  There is always a temptation to edit myself, to redact, redraw.

No time.  Coffee going colder, reaches perfect temp, think about it sitting there waiting for the perfect moment.

No time, because each word is crafted like wood, fixed and malleable, permanent and constantly changing.  I know the words, they’ll be seen by different readers, they’ll um,

“negotiate their own meaning”

“interpret the essence”

If only I could be sure I’m hitting the keys in the right order, or hard enough, or the right one.

I keep my head down as I type, not really looking at the keyboard, but not looking at the screen either, but somewhere in between, a no man’s land (HAH!) of imprecision.

Pause, sip.  A perfect moment of too hot for gulping down, a hit of heat, my very own crack of the day and it only costs pennies to make!  Hot drinks are addictive, I know it.

12 days until smart meter, I looked at the calendar.

What was I thinking about?

Oh yes, writing.  Here I am and as I think about it more and more consciously the worst my typing gets as a golfer thinks about his swing.  My own brain gets in the way, as with motor-biking and sex, and chewing gum and writing, the talent is to get my brain out of the way.

That one, that me that talks to you?  An idiot, she only gets what I feed her, we try to not bring out Cold Logic too often, it scares people.  Wittering me, that’s the ticket, let’s not be too deep eh?

Don’t bring out Emo, please dear god don’t bring out Emo, she might be able to do the dark writing, but she is terrifying, and what if I’m feeling what she’s feeling and I have a heart attack and die.  It makes my heart pound just to think about it.  But my children.

I’m in love with them.

Ew.  SOMEONE SAYS.

WTF is wrong with you.  Wouldn’t you die for yours?  Wouldn’t you die in fire and look at them and be ok with it while the fire burns and scars you from without and sets every nerve ending into hideous awareness of your mortality?

I won’t put up with their bullshit but I would walk broken glass for them. I would sacrifice everything for them.

That’s what it is to be in love with someone.

Most people find it too much.

Here is a life, it is tamped down, kept to a smoulder.

I long to burn like fire, rise again like the phoenix.

I am Fire, that’s the one we keep under lock and key.  That’s the one manacled and chained.

I have mistaken it for rage, and goodness don’t anger it.

But it has never been rage, it has been more, so much.

I cannot describe it, but you can bet I’ll try.

Fire is the only name I have for it.  Fire is the heat of its’ passion.  Fire is the light and the dark, the burning and the ashes.

They’re right comedy, comes in the threes.

Oh my Fire I am sorry for you because you must perforce be a prisoner within, and I keep you from burning me by having you in that locked room, that furnace wherein you consume yourself, and just when it seems you are gone I feed you just to keep you alive, because if the Fire goes out I die, and I am afraid to die.

So afraid.

I thought all my tasks were done and the Fire could rest, but my sons, you need me.  I feed the wood chips of your love into Fire and it leaps into life again.

I talk to the Angel of Truth again and feed Fire.

I talk to the Good Man on the path to Hades and feed Fire.

My crushes, and feed Fire.

My Critical Friend, and feed Fire.

I am alive, I feed the affirmation of my friends into Fire and it lives!  We are ALIVE.

I have no time to write this, because I must work on books and code and jobs and everything but I must write now busy busy busy maybe get discovered write all the time, dictate maybe, no my interaction with the keyboard is too personal, too damn can’t use that word already done it there’s another why can’t I be a child again when I knew all the words.

No-one knew the words.

It was explaining patiently until I found the words that people understood.  My mastery of the words was far beyond them.  I have unlearned.  I am a cripple now.

Ah! Words, look at you.  They think you’re so great, but you’re maimed and hideously disfigured.

“I’m am not an animal, I am a human being!”

Ah, but you’re not are you?  To slow you down I have had to lobotomise you, cutting away pieces of your memory until I can be understood by them.  I have cut out each word, an incision precision, an excising of your repletion.

Yes, we hunt for exactness, precision, accuracy.  Change the subject, what was I talking about?

The circle closes, we aim inwards, and close in on the metaphor.

Almost everything I say is some sort of metaphor now.  It’s a struggle to talk directly.  Oh foreigners, people for whom my precious English is god given, if I believed in god like that.

People, people think I’m exaggerating.

Most of the time I’m ameliorating to something that they’ll believe, but in truth life is more extraordinary than that, particularly mental life.

Here I am in my head, and they all want attention.  Words, Fire, Love, Logic.  I have not got it to give, I must pay attention to things outside my head, and aren’t they cross about it.

I don’t know what I’m writing about here.  It’s personal, but not organised.  It’s probably the most honest thing I’ve written.  I’m exposed, and raw.  I think twice and three times about publishing it in any way, but I write for others to read, and that circle is important.

Oh, plaudits please come to me!

Shallow.

Oh, Shallow, you’re here.  There we are, looking for plaudits.  Shallow.  Shallow makes a me a whore.

Oh yes, Logic pipes up, but you are blesséd.

Shaddup.

Blesséd.

Because that’s how I talk in my head, that’s my internal dialogue, because when I’m thinking in words, which so much of the time I am not, that’s the sort of pretentious twat level I work on.

So, I dumb down.

Oh gods, I dumb down ALL THE TIME.

Oh, I’m so tired of being dumb.

Discordia – Lesson One

Friday, December 28th, 2012

Here I am a Discordian.  Want to know what the religion is about, in as far as it is a religion?  Read The Book.

Alright, if you’re even slightly of a conventional turn of mind, or you like order, or you can’t jump around in thought, of you like linear reading, or any  number of other reasons to do with not like complete chaos, you might not make sense of it.

I’ve been a Discordian for a while in a very non-serious way, as is the case with many followers of Discordia, but coming to Huddersfield, an ethnically and religiously diverse community, (and a very happy one as far as I can see), bought the question of religion into sharp relief.  For the first time in many years I got asked what religion I was, because here it matters to people; you might be of any religion, any, but people think it is a suitable topic for conversation.

Alright, so much for my personal view of the local demographic.

I am a Discordian.  Discordians, as far as I can tell are extremely diverse in their beliefs, and might schism in their own heads about the religion.  I take it very seriously now, it has been a source of great wisdom, once penetrated, for me, and I have come to believe deeply in the lessons it gives us.   I am an unorthodox Discordian, because I take it seriously, as an experiment in finding wisdom; it has not failed me yet.

This then is lesson one.

Exclude no-one.

Let us examine why…

There is a card that Discordians sometimes give out, depending on their mood, penchant for chaos whatever…

The bearer of this card is a genuine and authorised Pope of Discordia

Pope of Discordia Card

Now what an extraordinary thing we have here; this card says that the bearer of the card is a Genuine and Authorised Pope.  We use the term pope to mean the head of a religion, a person with a direct connection God, or Goddess, or Gods, or Goddesses.  It should be clear that each bearer of this card is the head of their own religion, and that they touch the mind of God, (using a short cut term this time).

This is an early card, so it says

So please treat Him Right Good Forever

Later Cards amended the “Him” to “Him/Her” in recognition of the idea that the language clearly discriminates, something that any decent Discordian would not want, and we know this, because of the text on the bottom of the card.

Every man, woman and child on this Earth is a genuine and authorised pope.

In other words, irrespective of being given the card, everyone, absolutely everyone, is included.  I guess astronauts can take some time off if they are in space; but Discordia does not exclude anyone, for any reason.  Anyone can be, and is part of Discordia.  One could disown it, and that would be their choice, and as embracers of chaos, we, Discordian would praise it, because that would be righteous.

So are we forcing people to be part of the movement?  Certainly not, that would go against the very heart of Discordia.  That, in my view is why we have the Pope card; it recognises those we think have embraced, or might embrace, or be appalled by, the Discordian movement.  We do not exclude on any grounds.  Think about that.  Think about the idea that we do not exclude, think of the worst possible cases; heck we would not have excluded Hitler and his cronies.  We wouldn’t have excluded Ghengis Khan.  We don’t do that.  Rememer also, now that you’re a bit feeling a bit appalled that would not have excluded Mother Theresa, or Gandhi.  We are all humans beings, with a little prodding the worst of us might have been better, and the best of us might have been worse.  Chaos makes us all bedfellows in this respect.

This idea has a consequence.  It is important in my view.

The most powerful way to get people to hate, to destroy people, to kill, maim, commit genocide, rape for military purposes, (a foul deed, as if rape wasn’t bad enough), and generally be bad to large groups of other people is to invoke the idea of “other”.  they are not us, they are not in our tribe and thus less than human.  Reduced to the single underlying idea, this is reduction of empathy; it turns out for example that it is important in the training of soldier to desensitise them to battlefield killing…

I’m transcluding this from http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=536561

Originally Posted by Excerpt from “Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows”, Melanie Joy
Unnatural Born Killers

There is a substantial body of evidence demonstrating humans’ seemingly natural aversion to killing. Much of the research in this area has been conducted by the military; analysts have found that soldiers tend to intentionally fire over the enemy’s head, or not to fire at all.Studies of combat activity during the Napoleonic and Civil Wars revealed striking statistics. Given the ability of the men, their proximity to the enemy, and the capacity of their weapons, the number of enemy soldiers hit should have been well over 50 percent, resulting in a killing rate of hundreds per minute. Instead, however, the hit rate was only one o two per minute. And a similar phenomenon occurred during World War I: according to British Lieutenant George Roupell, the only way he could get his men to stop firing into the air was by drawing his sword, walking down the trench, “beating [them] on the backside and … telling them to fire low”.1 World War II fire rates were also remarkably low: historian and US Army Brigadier General S.L.A. Marshall re-reported that, during battle, the firing rate was a mere 15 to 20 percent; in other words, out of every hundred men engaged in a fire-fight  only fifteen to twenty actually used their weapons. And in Vietnam, for every enemy soldiers killed, more than fifty thousand bullets were fired.2

What these studies have taught the military is that in order to get soldiers to shoot to kill, to actively participate in violence, the soldiers must be sufficiently desensitized to the act of killing. In other words, they have to learn not to feel — and not to feel responsible — for their actions. They must be taught to override their own conscience. yet these studies also demonstrate that even in the face of immediate danger, in situations of extreme violence, most people are averse to killing. In other words, as Marshall concludes, “the vast majority of combatants throughout history, at the moment of truth when they could and should kill the enemy, have found themselves to be ‘conscientious objectors'”.3

1: Dave Grossman, On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in war and Society. New York: Back Bay Books, 1996, 12.
2: Grossman, Martha Stout, The Sociopath Next Door. New York: Broadway Books, 2005.
3: Grossman, 15.

[Spellings corrected]

When empathy is removed, we can kill others, let them die.

I haver to say that the saddest fact of my life is that I avoid adverts about dying people in Africa, because if I empathise too much, nothing else will be important to me, and I will have to leave, because they die, and it is criminal how little the rest of the world does about it.  In Mexico Drug Lords run amok, and we do nothing; the world over Women are Raped, their rights repealed; we do nothing.  I cannot be empathic for everyone because I would have to do something.  Ultimately I would have have to rule the world with an iron fist, in surveillance state the like of which the world could not possibly imagine right now, and it can imagine much; because I want people to be good, but we value our freedoms too much, and so humans are free to make war, rape and pillage.  However much chaos I embrace, those are bad things, and yet I embrace chaos, because NO MATTER what I think, people are going to keep doing their thing.

Can I reject all those people?  No, because each and everyone is a Pope of Discordia, each and every one has a hope of redemption, each and every one is of me, and I of them, however reluctantly.

Lesson one.  Discordia is inclusive.

Notes on lesson one; sometimes inclusion is hard, if one cannot embrace it, it is because the human condition is hard, and chaotic.

On being a girl – Part one of a journey of unknown length…

Friday, October 12th, 2012

EDIT – More than 50% of the women I know are scientists and mathematicians, bear this in mind when I use 50’s definitions of “woman activity”.  This is the modern age, I sometimes write about it in older, inappropriate language.  Sorry about that.
___________

I wrote this post, Femininist, a couple of years ago, because I was tired of being that man wearing a skirt, and NOT trying to be Trans, A Girl, (well, alright a woman, but I’m still so young in my head…), gay, in drag or anything else.  When I was married my wife hated me wearing a skirt because she a “a little Welsh Girl”, bought up in rural Wales where, with all due respect, there are mostly farmers and Men must be Men.  As farming fails this culture is changing.  But she would fight like a tiger for it, my right to do it.  I had a lot of reasons for doing it, read the post.

My wearing skirts had a much more profound effect on my boys than I had thought we were more grown up as a society than we are.   While my friends are universally supportive of whatever I do, the general public is not.  Bigoted attitudes have come from parents and been passed clearly to their children.

Moving on.

Point is, that up until a short time ago I was just fighting the good fight, being that guy, taking care of my kids, teaching them that true equality does not come out of watching every word you say, (though I have been banging on at them for ten years now that the term “Gay” should not be used as a term of derogation, I have succeeded, largely), it comes out what real respect you pay, out of recognising the shortcomings of each side of the fence, (Equal pay anyone?  how about equal Marriage rights, let alone this article and my commenting blog), it comes out of accepting that people are not the same, and that our differences make us strong.

I was asked recently what the real difference is between Men and Women.  I don’t know, I am beginning to think that in an advanced, civilised, modern, society

that the differences are ineffable.  Nevertheless I have had to teach my boys to be Men, (as I have said elsewhere), one of the things that I have had to teach them is that they must respect women and a woman’s right to say no.  The flip side is that I have also had to teach them that they must trust any woman they are alone with implicitly, an accusation of rape or sexual molestation can blight a man’s life forever, true or not.  Let’s be clear here, this is about their behaviour, not necessarily about false accusations, though that possibility is included.  This is a dreadful thing to have to say to a young man, but I shall not dwell upon it, that’s not the point of this entry.

The point is that I have had misogyny when wearing skirts, in the street, and in work; at a University I might.  You can imagine that I slapped it down pretty hard.  I felt minimised, and I don’t bloody take that well.  Especially someone in Uni should be thinking about my head not my ass, or about if my skirt is “too white” and thus “too transparent in the sun”.  Fuck off.  I can tell the difference between jokes and misogyny.  I slapped down 18 year olds when I was doing my degree, sure as hell wasn’t going to take it from a work colleague.  And I might add that at the end of that degree, the now 21 year olds were right in my corner, and their parents thanked me for guiding their sons and daughters, for showing them that it was ok to be them.  Apparently many of my uni colleagues mentioned me to their parents, I didn’t think I had made that much of an impression really.  Many of them are still my friends, we’re around the country now, so this means Facebook, but they are mature and clever young Men and Women and I am proud of them if I may be so arrogant.

So why am I going Girly?

I ask myself this, and I outed myself on FaceBook without even meaning to as such, it came as just an off remark about wanting to be less mannish and enjoying the feminine clothes that I had been wearing recently, yes, drag mode, and enjoying the iodea that many of my friends see me as not worldly, (I am aware that have just insulted Real Women everywhere, sorry), and that I have had many many, talks with people about sex and love and child rearing and friendship and life and feelings and fashion

and shape and desire, and that all of them, ALL OF THEM, have eventually said to me,

Gosh Friday, you really are such a girl.

It’s not what I wear that makes me a girl inside, that is outside, I like it because I see men as not pretty, and I want to be pretty, well, alright, prettier, I don’t ever think I’ll get to pretty; it is what I say and do.  It is the sewing and the cleaning and the cooking, and the career break to look after children, (which by the way started and shagged my career path at the same time), the protesting at being a Man with what is done to men, (I refer you to the blog entry, Boys will be boys) once more), the tightness of corsets, the feeling that I’m missing a part of my body, (yes breasts), the feeling of emptiness in my belly because I can never carry a child under my heart, which has sometimes made me howl in the pain of that emptiness.  (So yes, ladies, I do know, intimately, something of what you are going through if you cannot get pregnant, except that there is, and never was any hope for me, I lived it vicariously through my wife, when we had our boys).  It is a hole in my very soul, and nothing can fill it. So yes I have been a “girl inside” for a long time.

Then my eldest son posted this thing, “Don’t assume I’m a Gender“, on FaceBook, a brave act I thought, but what he posted earlier, this image:-

He put this image on FaceBook from https://www.facebook.com/wipeouttransphobia, and I realised that he was grown up at last, muchly, and that I should think about my situation.

I thought, “Damn, where it matters, inside, I am a girl.  Everyone recognises this, even if they can no longer tell me what it means to be a girl.

And I meet so many people who are Gay or Bi or Pan or something else.  I have no radar for these things, so I often I plant my size nines right in it, but truth is, I like the people I meet, because they are so open and accepting.

And I’m a girl.

I like doing girl things, whatever they are, I like the clothes, I like the attitude, (with some exceptions), I like dressing up, I like being me.  That seems to include being a girl.

The ultimate think about this was when I realised that despite still liking girls, women really, I am 48 years old after all, but there is a piece of me that want to be liked by women who like women.  That is complex.  It needs addressing another time.  Anyway I have a girlfriend/partner whom I love very much, and while our situation is never simple, I am not looking for a girlfriend or lover.  (I am sometimes looking for a companion, but that is also something that is best left for another time, suffice to say that my partner doesn’t enjoy movies or motorcycling and I enjoy the company of enthusiastic and adventurous young women for Movies, Motorcycling and Coffee.  Nothing more is necessary).

That paragraph went off on one.  Despite the fact that I like women for my sexual and companionship preferences, I am a girl, (I use this term because in my head I am still 18 years old) and I like to do the things that girls do, and wear the things that women wear. (Except the underpants, too flimsy, I like a bit of support ok?  You were curious, just admit it and move on).

I like being decorative in the ways that women are, I like having that share that is missing from me, I like being a girl.

And it seems that in many ways I have been on a journey to this even though I have not realised it.  It’s not through the wearing of skirts that this journey has been realised, and that is what is bizarre about it.  I know that people will think it is, and the total inability of men to recognise the difference between skirts and dresses, (ALL MEN everywhere ask me why I’m wearing a dress if they are going to ask, it is a kind of put down, a diminution of me because I wear skirts and do the woman thing on purpose, don’t think even for a minutes that I have not known this, I have known it always, if you have ever done this, then you should examine your life, because if you are not aware of it, then your misogyny is deeply ingrained and buried within you.  There is hope still, think before you speak.  The enlightened just don’t ask, it is in fact, binary.  Alright, the enlightened ask later if it comes up, and they don’t ask about dresses, they ask about the whole thing), does get in the way somewhat, but it’s the influence of my friends, and my boys that made me realise that I had a need not to hide any more.  I am what I am, and I have a need not to hide it, not be ashamed of it, not to be concealed behind my anger and my frustration.  I have genteel side that constantly struggles to come out.  As a man even my girlfriend struggles to come to terms with this side of me, but as a girl she sees it clearly within me, and responds with tenderness and gentility.  Come to that, when I am being especially girly most of my friends respond with gentleness.  I know this says a lot about our culture and what it is to be a man, and what it is to be a woman, and this will have to wait.

Point is, I choose now to live more as a girl, not because I have been getting ready all these years, whatever it may look like; I choose to live as a girl, because I finally realise that my body, my gender, and my upbringing is at odds with the feelings that I have inside.

 

_______

As an aside, could people stop asking me if I wear skirts on my motorbike?  Would you ask a woman that or would you treat them as a sensible person who would wear the leather trousers just like a sensible man would.  It really does mark people out as uncomfortable and a bit daft as a result.  Actually I was being gentle instead of militant then.  it marks them about as being stupid and thick.  Quit it.

_______

A final note; I have had plenty of friends on FaceBook immediately and without hesitation offer their support and congratulations for my “coming out”.  I didn’t mean to “come out” I was just talking.  But I have been deeply touched to the core of my being by their solicitude, congratulations and messages.  I regret nothing.

 

As usual spelling is suspect and negations may be missing.

Shy

Saturday, July 7th, 2012

http://members.optusnet.com.au/pennywyatt/Interests/FlandersSwann/Other/Other03.html

I got sent this last night.  Flanders and Swan are funny, but it did make me think.

I don’t make small talk, I’m not keen on large gatherings, (I prefer people in very small groups), new people scare me.  I’m shy.

Conversely, I like giving lectures and getting my students to interact, (I’m good at that), I like telling stories, I like running roleplay and letting my imagination run wild, and I wear skirts, even though, externally, I’m a man.  (Read this, skirts, it will piss you off or you will agree with it, I think).

Sometimes my words are on auto-pilot, because I don’t make small talk, I know damn well that I will ask people how they are more than once if they seem to expect me to say something and I have nothing to say, or if I feel they have not negotiated greetings properly, or if they have not given of themselves sufficiently for my inner dialogue to be satisfied.

I parenthesise a lot, because I have a pronounced stutter, if you know me, have you ever spotted it without being told?  You’re telling yourself you have right now I bet.  Be honest

All  conversations are circular to me, and none of my parenthetical remarks are irrelevant, I do not make, despite what you might think, non-sequiteurs, you are simply lagging behind the thread.  If you deliberately interrupt the flow of my thoughts, (not the same as interrupting the words, it’s a conversation after all), then you will have derailed me.  I know that people play this game, it’s not funny, it’s never been funny, it’s frustrating and annoying, it’s exactly the same as finishing sentences for someone with a pronounced stutter.  It’s hateful.  I have given up speaking to people who have played this “game”.  I cannot speak to them, they are not listening or participating in a conversation, they are waiting to derail me.  My inner voice knows when they are doing it, but I rarely listen to it, because if I did I would simply stop speaking, right there and then and leave.  I have done it once or twice, and people thought I was rude, and promptly entered self justification mode, (and in one case angry, aggressive and violent mode), when I left.

Conversations are circular and have an end.  You cannot rush me, or I will lose my thread.

People make me nervous, I don’t make small talk.  I like knowing who people are, I ask penetrating questions.

I’m open, people think I’m wide open, I’m not, I’m closed.  I realise that this is a dichotomy, live with it.

I’m a man, but I don’t feel like it, I feel like a girl inside, so people like Maggie Koerth-Baker, a good and brave woman, made me cry and cry because she had to make hard choices.

I’m shy, really shy, I would sometimes like to get to know someone other than my partner, (who is not at all possessive), intimately, deeply, physically, genuinely; but I am shy and when the opportunity has occasionally presented itself, I have demurred; sharing that, my body, my mind, it’s so personal, I’d be so vulnerable, so exposed.  And I don’t want to feel that I’m doing wrong by anyone, and society pressures us that being married and being faithful is the be all and end all of relationships, even though I know that is BullShit, because people go outside of that model of relationships A LOT, even when the face they put on to the world is otherwise.  I’m often berated or judged because I do not lie about these things.  I view the world as highly hypocritical because of this.

While I’m on this, what is wrong with people?  Sex is so much more than just putting the penis in the vagina (or where-ever) and wiggling it all about.  SO MUCH MORE, have you all lost the plot.  What about intellectual engagement, talking, playing, thinking, negotiating, and laughing?  That is why I’m always appalled at sex talk, I expect sex to involve a couple of hours at least, the very least.  Anything else is a just a stress relieving wank with your partner.  Legitimate, but not what I would call sex.

Anyway, because I know she will read this, I have a lovely time with my partner.

__________

Boys and Girls, well, Men and Women.

I like talking to women better than men, generally, it harder to get men to open up, generally.

A lot of my men friends won’t see this at all.  That is because they are open, able to be honest, non-homophobic, non-nervous, chaps who are confident about themselves in conversation, as befits the role-playing, lecturing, teaching crowd I hang out with…

(The pub we RP is also good actually, a few Council worker types hang  out there and just accept us all, so our culture is spreading).

I like talking to women because I can talk about feelings and emotions readily, it enables to me to analyse and understand the human condition and me.  I do understanding only by analysis and experience, I have no innate talent for it, just some very good tools.  Also I can see you thinking.

___________

I’m shy.

In order to be amongst people I pump myself up, mentally, internally, and lose some of my hyper-self-consciousness, the thing that would otherwise cripple me because I am too self aware.  I know people are going to say stupid, unaware, hurtful things to me because they think they are funny or because “He can take it, or he wouldn’t [wear skirts/lecture/be loud right now/tell that joke/do that thing — choose whatever the excuse for insensitivity/crassness is on this occasion]”

I have to prepare, I have to be ready to be amongst people, be mentally armoured, because out there it’s a dangerous world, and without my armour I might come back injured, again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coding for other people

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

I’m a coder, amongst other things.

I’m not a business type person, despite the fact that I have an MSc in E-Business, I’m too  much of a hippy to actually DO business, I hate taking money from people and I hate chasing them for it.  In the past I’ve learned that that I don’t have enough clout to sue people when they rip me off, and I don’t charge enough.

Recently I’ve learned that I can never charge enough if I’m coding for other people.

The problem here is that code is complex, very complex, and much of it is given away, (see Dan Pink, the Surprising Truth about what Motivates us, wait for the programming part).

And that’s a problem, because as an individual I can’t explain what takes time, and I’m often paid for my time, not my output, except…

…I’m paid for my output not my time, when the truth of it comes, because no-one seems to understand what takes time.

Because I code web things, I have to have to hand knowledge of at minimum, four programming or query languages, three different systems setups, two different operating systems, possibly across continents, etc. etc., all the paraphernalia that comes with coding, and people say “wow that’s intense”.  This is often followed by, “Can you just…”

No, I can’t.

I’ve been involved in coding projects recently, I took over from someone else who had left the code in the middle.  I didn’t know how much was involved, because one cannot.  I wasn’t given a proper spec, I wasn’t insistent enough about that, and I should have been.  I didn’t draw lines around what I was expected to do.  Given the amount of time that I’ve put in, now to the detriment of other projects, I cannot probably catch up with those projects properly.

Alright that’s bad.  But eventually, fixable.

But what isn’t fixable is that I do NOTHING else but code right now.  I don’t write, I don’t cycle, I don’t motorcycle with my friend, I don’t see my kids, I don’t work on my teaching material for next year, and I’ve turned into a HORRIBLE person.

I want silence in the house, (the kids are on summer break), I argue with my girlfriend, I argue with my ex-wife, I’m impatient with my boys, I’m impatient with my girlfriend’s kids.  I haven’t been to my roleplay club.  Basically I’m a moody fuck.

Studying for my MSc was easier on my life than coding.

I know this is a bit rambly and a moan, but you know, put up with it.

I have clients from years ago now that I still host, none of them paying, and I don’t even know what status their sites are at because I’m now realising that my American host  changed DNS on me a while back, and though they say there was an email I don’t see it.

So I have to go around changing this stuff, except that I’m going tom write and say I can’t do this any more, not “I can’t do this for free any more”, just I can’t do this, I can’t host, I can’t do code for people any more.

It does not pay enough, because no-one understands what code involves, it makes me tense.

To hell with the money argument, stuff the money.

Coding makes me tense.  Ten cups of coffee a day, (I had gone down a lot, except that Uni gives me a bad coffee habit), makes me tense.

I have realised, finally, that I don’t LIKE coding for other people, and it does’t like me.

I love coding, for me.

I don’t love myself very much when I’m coding, but when it’s for me, I can put it down and become a human being again.

Here’s the thing, no more coding for other people, no more hosting, no more horrible person.

I’m going to dedicate myself to teaching in Uni, and getting my PhD.  I’ll probably write come code for that, but at the end of it, I’ll have a PhD.  I’ll probably teach people to code a bit, but I won’t be doing it.

…and I’ll be a better, nicer person at the end of it.

Rape case woman to appeal against jailing for withdrawing allegations (via The Guardian)

Monday, November 8th, 2010

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/nov/08/rape-case-woman-appeal

I shall  be brief, as is this report.

It’s pretty clear that rape allegations should be taken seriously, both from the point of view of the victim, and the point of the accused.

It is entirely correct that such allegations should be taken seriously, sexual violence is wrong; false accusations of sexual violence are wrong.

(To my greater and greater chagrin, I have had to teach my boys that if they are alone with a woman they are putting themselves at risk; for a man to be alone with a woman who desires are thwarted is to be at risk, because an accusation of rape can colour a whole life.  This is not something I have personally had to bear, and I count my self fortunate, but if I do not alert my boys to the danger then I am being a careless father.  It should be clear that I’m trying also to teach them they must always behave impeccably.  I expect no less.)

What then is this judge thinking when he jails this woman for “falsely withdrawing” her claim?  Does he think this is justice?  Because I don’t.  Her former husband denies the claim, and money has been spent, fair enough, but these things are difficult!  This woman has clearly, IRRESPECTIVE of the truth of her claim, been traumatised.  She has divorced her husband, she maintains that she has been leaned on to withdraw the claim.  Where is the support?  She is being punished because the police CPS whatever cannot secure a safe conviction?  What a nonsense, what a twisted mess of priorities, what a sham of justice.

Whatever has happened to this woman, whatever the truth, it will take her years to get over, and if I were her, I would never have faith in the justice system in this country, and thus anywhere, again.

Here is the purpose of this blog entry, let us never forget this, let us never forget this travesty.  Let’s remember that a woman got sent to jail for this.

Robot Warriors

Monday, October 25th, 2010

This is going to be a reactionary post.  It may not be well informed.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/oct/24/nasa-robots-on-patrol?CMP=EMCGT_251010&

So we have robots on patrol eh?  Well paintballs and pepper spray may be harmless, (though as I’m hypersensitive to flavour and smell it could quite literally kill, but I’m at the far end of the curve), but bullets are not, and it seems as though there will be a time shortly when robots are armed.  The Guardian says…

Before you scoff, however, take note that other, more fearsome robot soldiers are also on the way. Israel, for instance, is developing its own version, which goes by the name of the Guardium (no relation). This machine, which looks like an angry tractor, is being built by a company called G-Nius, and will also be highly autonomous, with similar features that enable it to move independently and shout at people. Indeed, it is reported to have been used on Israel’s borders already, and includes the potential for a live machine gun that can be programmed to return fire.

This means, to me, that there will be an autonomous thing on the surface of our world that we, we, have made, that has no moral value, no value at all except that of territory, that can kill people indiscriminately.

Why are we allowing this?

You see I know something about computing and Artificial Intelligence, (AI); one of the things I know is that the idea of intelligence combines many factors about environment, intent and evolution, and moral value.  This factors are not all present in practically any robot design today, there is only intent, and possibly environment.  On my undergraduate degree we were asked, once, to compare what we could do to what we should do.  For us it was in relation to security and banking; we saw that banking sites could be broken or invaded by many means, (This is why I don’t bank on the web, I do shop on the web), we could do that, should we do it?  No.  We should know about it so if we get a job in banking security, we know what the holes are.

This is known in the trade as being a “White Hat.”  There are “Grey Hats”, (In my secret heart I count myself among them, but I am not), who hack things and report them to firms because they like hacking things, but have no criminal intent, even though technically what they do is initally illegal.  They are more useful than the insiders working for companies directly, because they do things that are outside the system.  You can see that “Black Hats” do these things for gain, personal gain, or mischief, or any number of other reasons, but not for the benefit of others.

In this context it’s difficult to place these robots, are they programmed for the benefit of others?  Yes.  Should we be placing an autonomous or semi-autonomous device that recognises enough of its environment to kill humans in the wild, possibly with no intervention on the part of a human operator?  No.

No. No. No.

Some may ask, what is the difference between putting  soldier with a gun in the field to guard a stretch of fence and a robot doing the same thing?

Well for one thing, a soldier is human being with all the environmental, developmental, social and moral baggage that goes with it.  I know that soldiers often have to be, well, de-humanized, because it is a hard thing to kill someone, just to shoot someone is hard, that is why these situations are stressful, because being human is to be around humans, and to know and empathise with other humans, if we empathise too much we cannot take life, which is occasionally necessary, because there is conflict; but we have a duty to minimise this loss of life.  This stress, this reluctance of people to take life is why soldiers will often shoot away from a living target, (I can’t quote the study because I cannot find it, but this is not an academic article, so you will have to take it on faith.)

(You only have to look at a news article like this: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-10717185 to see that empathy and feeling fail sometimes.  The Isralis shoot at the Palestinians because the Palestinians shoot at the Isralis and so it continues, when I’m pretty sure that IN FACT most (99%) Palestinians and Isralis just want to get on with life, get the bins collected, do their shopping go to school, chat in a café without fear of getting shot or blown up.  There is a territory problem, don’t understand it, but surely there should be a better more peaceful way of figuring it out?  I know that people get very angry, anger leads to hate, hate leads to fear, and well, you get the idea…)

This autonomous machine has no morals, no values, no conscience, no empathy.  That’s fine if it’s just paintballs and pepper spray, but when it’s bullets, rubber or otherwise, then someone will die just because, well just because they were getting their football.

That isn’t acceptable to me.  We should all be rising up in protest, we should all be appalled, but maybe that won’t happen until this thing, having arrived with a whimper, goes bang, and someone dies at the hand of no-one but a machine.

_____________________

A little footnote.

Everything I have just said applies to landmines too.  The only difference is that they don’t move.

_____________

As usual I’m a bad proof reader, look out for missed negations.

Facebook

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

I loathe FaceBook.

I suspended my account the other day after FB allowed people to sign other people up to groups without their consent.  FB already secure their information behind their Walled Garden, much to everyone’s chagrin; so advertisers and games get access to information but we do not.  This is breaking down, see for example this article: http://www.downloadsquad.com/2010/03/05/yahoo-can-now-import-your-facebook-contacts/ which is reproduced in other places on the web.

I actually did this, but contact management is a complex issue, and anyway, what I am I going to do, email 300 people?  No.

No, I’m not going to send out mass emails, (even BCC’d which it seems many people don’t know how to do, even companies), every time I want to say something.

Not many of my friends have me on Twitter, though a few do, and they don’t tweet often those that do…

Though I should say that most of my Twitter contacts are people I know or know through friends and I love to hear from them, they are web friends in a way that I have previously avoided.

(Let me just say why, as an aside.  I invariably have a female avatar or representation, see further back in my blog history for why; and I find that on more than one occassion in the past, when we were all a bit more anonymous on the web; after finding out that I’m a guy, some fundamentalist religious type has told me that I’m a sinner or some such.  This usually follows an ASL request which I always deny.  [ASL, Age Sex Location].  Often abused because I wouldn’t ever get into that, in particular I recognised that anyone wanting that before talking to me on the web was looking for a girlfriend; I’m not interested in that, and it used to annoy them that I recognised it and said so…  anyway).

Anyway point is that I’m not going to send a massive pile of emails every time I want to say something, I’m a bit crap at blog entries, though @iskandarv seems to think I should carry on, (respect to you my friend), and a lot of the people I know are not on Twitter.

FaceBook has become the killer app of social networking.

Now, Rory Cellan Jones seems to think that we should be owning our space because the mass of data that is collected about us even when we’re not on a given network, is so massive that any network knows something about us, and FaceBook is  the primary example of this as demonstrated in this article:- http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-11527201 How FaceBook knows your friends.

FB already knows everything about me.  If I’m not participating I’m not controlling my space.

I have the AniaKovas identity all over the web for precisely this reason.  I’ve even started a blog for it, mostly to do with my online MMORPG, (see http://www.perfectworld.com) which I have not done much lately because I have been, well, finishing my Dissertation and doing webby stuff.  And the Star Map.

_____________

BIG ASIDE

Dun duh Daaaahhhhhhhhhh!

Anyone on Twitter already knows this, but I can’t resist, well blowing my own trumpet.

I got a Distinction overall in my Masters, with a Prize too, for which reason I’m still not clear about, worth about £800, (I’d rather actually have the £800, but the Kudos is important too, more important actually).

My Dissertation wasn’t that great actually; feedback is that it was innovative and sound right up until the conclusion where I trailed off a bit…

This was my analysis too. There are reasons for it to do with framing the conclusion in the right terms.  I wasn’t completing a report, (which was how I actually framed it).

Ah, there were a few practical issues as well, normally I get #lovelyGF to help me proof read, because like nearly everyone I’m a bad proof reader of my own work; but she had to be away at a conference that week for two days, and then later at a tutorial, (I still can’t remember now if she was giving it or receiving it); so I had kids and house and blah blah blah…

Oh well, these things are sent to try us.

Point is, I can always do better, and expect to do so because I have been around the block a few times, and know a couple of things.  I’m an indifferent student really, but I get better the higher up I am.

(So I left school with just three “O” levels because I wasn’t interested in anything else, went to college later on to do Five “A”levels AND work, but had to give it up in the second year because it wouldn’t all fit, failed Physics, Maths and Computing at Liverpool because being amongst people after two years in the sticks was just too exciting, and I’m used to breezing what I DO bother to study.  And undergraduate physics is BORING.  I grew up with book on Quantum Physics and have watched the changed as they have happened.  I can no longer pretend to understand all of it, String Theory did my head in).

I work hard at programming, because I never learned Logic until I went Bangor University and got a Computer Science degree, and realised that the thing missing from my life, and practically everyone else’s life was a good grasp of mathematical fundamentals; not arithmetic, which you are either good at or not, MATHEMATICS.  (Trouble is, I can do arithmetic, but the fundamental properties of numbers are not my friend, so I have to work hard at mathematics; but it makes computing so much easier, once you get #lovelyGF to understand that division is a sin.  Fractions are not).

Point is, the more educated I get, the better I do at it.

_____________________________

Where was I?

I am Ania and Friday.  Some people have even called me Ania to my face, but that’s really missing the point; it’s not offensive, but in life, when I am face to face, I cannot be her, because I have a face like John Prescott on dope.  It’s naturally miserable unless I am actively smiling or Laughing, which I do a fair bit unless I am programming.  I say “Girl Inside”, because she is an inner me.

Back to FaceBook.

Thing is, this practice I make, of owning my online space, I have abandoned it if I am not there.

The really important reason, though, the overriding reason, the one which drives me back despite my criticism and constant abuse of FB, and I do swear about it a lot, is that my friends are on it, and I miss being able to talk to them and know what they are doing, even when they are not talking directly to me.

I miss my fwiends.

So I’m going to sign in again.

So much for principles.

Drug User

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Hi my name’s Friday, and I, like literally billions of people in the world, am a drug user  I’m still using, socially and on my own; my girlfriend funds my habit, because I’m a student, (hoping for a job soon), I do it daily, and I feel bad without it, and yeah, sudden withdrawal is bad, real bad.  Strangely, my drug isn’t illegal, and it’s available in much higher concentrations that come in pill form, I don’t use those.

<sigh> I might as well drop the other shoe now, my drug of choice is Caffiene, yes, I’m an inveterate coffee drinker.  I’m dropping the other shoe here because this is after all a public blog and I don’t really want anyone to think I’m taking drugs as such.

Thing is, I’ve been a caffeine user for a long time now, and I say this, rather than “Coffee Drinker” because I do actually use caffeine.  And we were explaining things about drugs to the kids last night, and it got me thinking again about how I use caffeine.

These days I’m not up without a cup of coffee, made inevitably in a French Press, I don’t do instant any more, and not, without being indelicate, functional, (people over 40 will know what I mean), without that second cup.  It gives the old body a kick start in the morning. It also means that I have to be up and doing two hours before work.  I need that caffeine start, because as a long term user I’m always one under, I need my fix to function.  I am an addict.  The difference between caffeine and hard drugs is that I can , with sufficient provocation and mindfulness, regulate what I’m doing.

Effects

Oh you don’t want to be down the pub with me after six pints of Cola.  It’s great amongst students, but while I can still calm down and get in the car,  in company I am terribly nervous and excited; and the bad thing is that while I am aware of it, I can’t stop it.  I will say the most extraordinary things, (driven by my testing of comedy on my student and ex-student friends), simply because I’m hyped on caffeine.  (This is why I often drink fruit juice at the pub.  I don’t do alcohol at the pub generally because I’m driving.  Drive OR alcohol, never the twain shall meet)

That’s alright I suppose, it’s not too bad, but there are darker place you can go on caffeine.  I have Type 2 Diabetes, so balance in eating and general diet is very important for me, I’ll probably write  another rant sometime about how everyone is an instant expert of Diabetes, they;re not, but not for now.  As I was saying, diet, balance, control over that is happening to my body is very important; caffeine often takes that away, as an appetite suppressant it makes me not want to eat, but since I have a very sweet tooth, I have sweetners in it, which drive hunger.  I should give them up.

That’s now.  Most days I drink tea, because I’m rarely more than half an hour without a drink, after the early morning kick start, because I don’t actually want to be hyped up all day.

One reason is that once I’m like that, highly caffeinated all day,  I fall off the plank I’ve been walking all day and crash when I stop for more than an hour.  Really crash, falling asleep now crash.  It can take a whole day to recover from that.  Finishing my Master’s Dissertation was like that.  Still getting over it.

…and you can’t stop caffeine cold turkey if you’re vulnerable to it.

To show this I have to tell you that my dealer, when I was young, was my Gran.  I’ve been doing Caffeine since I was five.  She had some Camp Coffee with Chicory, and I liked it with a lots of sugar, so, since I was “favoured grandchild”, (don’t get me started in on how psychologically unhealthy that was), I got some every day, three or four times  a day.  As a child who was already very particular about texture, it actually meant that I ate practically nothing, but was completely hyper all the time.  I read a lot, I mean a lot, so I read fast!  Three of four books a day for years, and then out cycling and usual sibling rivalry.

I was also, very volatile.  For another time.

By the time I was eleven I was doing ten cups of Coffee a day.  By the time I was fourteen I was doing 15 to 20; I hadn’t slept at all since I was seven, though I had to rest every night for two or three hours at least.

At fourteen I was in the army cadets, and had been since I was eleven and went to a real army camp for two weeks up at Otterburn.  It was a rare privilege.  At this time I didn’t touch tea, but at this camp there was no coffee at all, as far I recall, at least I wasn’t getting any.  I was going cold turkey whether I like it or not.

At the end of the first week, I woke up on the Saturday, and in my little glowy withdrawal world, I couldn’t see anyone, anyone at all.  I couldn’t hear or see any living thing.  So I got dressed, and went for a look around.  No-one.

I heard a truck, I was in the middle of the road, so I had to dodge out the way pretty quick, as the driverless truck nearly mowed me down.  Scary.  Scary? I was terrified!

I looked around some more, and strange winds grabbed at me and buffeted me around, there was moaning and shouting as if from very far away, but I could see no-one.  I went to get some binoculars, and had to kick a locked door in to look around, but I put them back afterwards, (I lose things easily by just “putting them down” and then I’ve “had them in my hand right here and now it’s lost”).

I got some food from the NAAFI, though I had to dodge pans and stuff that were floating around.  Some landrovers nearly mowed me down, I learned to avoid the road, and in particular seemed to follow me, but I disabled it my taking the keys out, those strange winds whistled through the vehicle and buffeted me again.

…and then, most strange and scary, the winds caught me up and three me down on a bunk and tied me down so I could move.  I can’t even describe how scary that was, so I’m not going to try.

Eventually, because there nothing else to be done, I fell asleep.

When I woke up, there were LOTS of people around, asking very peculiar questions indeed. It seems I had spent the entire previous day hallucinating, hallucinating that all the people were gone.

Hi, my name is Friday.  I’m a caffeine user; but these days, I try to keep it down to a couple of cups in the morning to kick start me, and maybe one in the afternoon if I’m really tired, or on the road.

I know you’re all out there, I see you; and I’m trying to keep it that way.

Backup your data but…

Friday, September 17th, 2010

I got what might safely be termed “A right kicking” datawise over the summer. Yep, the Geek lost data, had it overwritten/lost my work/had to crawl up to my dissertation supervisor and say that I lost two weeks work.

Let’s be clear here; I backup my data, it’s far too valuable to lost and I’ve been bitten before, in the dim and distant past when I didn’t spend money/time on backing up, I learned the hard way that you BACKUP or lose those pictures/data/memories/work.

In fact I often carry so many memory sticks around now, that my single enduring programmer joke is that “I pity the fool! that don’t backup his data!”

Where did it all go wrong?

Well.

There were a few factors. I have teenage boys who think that they are invulnerable to a drive-by, so they will occassionally go and download things without thinking, I’m pointing at YOU the eldest, yes indeed. They got two things at once on their latop at once, one just a nasty bit of malware masquerading as a bit of antivirus kit, and the other some kind of Zero Day exploit, a root-kit. Ouch.

I rather airily assumed that these were removable with the usual stuff, wrong! We actually trashed the hard drive ont he laptop looking for this stuff.

I plugged my Ubuntu rescue kit in, fine, no problem, except that it boots Windows too, and took the root kit, which got onto MY latop.

Ok fine, I knew what was going on then, but I was in the middle of doing the other laptop and didn’t disconnect from the cloud.

Oh woe is me, because I backup right, to the clould, a lot.  Really a lot.  Curently my main services are Dropbox, Mozy, Humyo, MS Live Sync (Wonderful), Google syncing, (when I connect right), Skydrive and a few others that are less accessable.  So I synched.  The way I sunch often involved putting my encrypted drive, because only a fool syncs unencrypted password data onto the cloud, and a couple of other files that maintain things for me.  Oh goody, I had my encrypted drive open, but it syncs anyhow.

So, because I had been away from my desktop for a while, (I my boys live with my ex-partner, but we get on really very well and I was on an extended visit), it wasn’t on, Live Sync didn’t, saved the work from two weeks ago at least, but I hadn’t backed up to a stick in at least that amount of time, because I was backing up to the cloud so I’m safe right?

Wrong.  Dead wrong as it turns out.

So,

What is the problem here?

It’s taken me a while to think about it.  It’s not the software or the hardware.  It’s not the malware and virus, (well, it IS, but not in this context), it’s a human problem.  I screwed up.

I screwed up because, like nearly everyone I know who actually backs up, and I do have loads of data that I don’t backup because it’s too expensive, so just the important stuff; I was being LAZY and “SAFE” at the same time.  Except that these two things don’t go together.  Especially in the context of data.

I was being “safe” because, I assured myself, I was backing up so I’m alright Jack, you peons don’t know what it is to backup, and I’m always going to come out on top because of it.  Oh how we learn humility.

I was being LAZY because I relied on non-volitional techniques to keep me safe.  I wanted it done automatically, in triplicate, silently witout hassle.  I wanted an agent to do it for me.

Now, what’s wrong with that?

Well, I lost a hard drive and 100GB of data for the family, and two weeks worth of my Dissertation, (for my Masters), that’s what.

Backup, at some point, must be volitional as well.  In the “good old days” when you had to actually put a floppy in to backup, it was volitional.  You didn’t transmit that Zero-day  exploit unless you were careless, unless you actually inserted that floppy.  Now, if you’re not careful, all you have to do is wait for the cloud.  And if you’re paranoid like me, your encrypted files can’t bec checked on the way in by your cloud service, or even your receiving computer.  You are well and truely, like me, scr…..

Anyway.

Point is, backups, real backups are a hassle, they will always be a hassle.  Take the time.  Use a stick daily.  Use two sticks, on every other day.  Do the grandparent, parent, child backup routine, because one day you will get hit by a Zero-day exploit too, and you’ll be writing blog entry about why it’s so important to backup volitionally.