Life

Covering up

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

The terrorists have won.

Why do I say this terrible thing?

Because Belgium have passed the law banning the Burka.

Now, there are a few things to be examined here.  First of all, my primary new source is the BBC, I’m trying to convert to Euronews gradually, as I think they are less US centric, and their habit of providing video without commentary is a good one, though also capable of biasing news.

The article from the BBC can be found here:- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8652861.stm

and the Euronews take on it here:- http://www.euronews.net/2010/04/30/belgian-parliament-votes-to-ban-burqa/

Secondly, the ban seems to be aimed at the uncovering of identity,

(BBC) The law would ban any clothing that obscures the identity of the wearer in places like parks and on the street.

Thirdly, let’s deal with my own prejudices.  I don’t like it.  I hate seeing people concealed and separated from society, as if I’m a danger to them, or they are to me; or as if my leering eye will lead them astray because I have no control over myself, (see my entry on femininism, probably just below).  I hate the idea that some control or old convention leads people to conceal themselves from the rest of society.  I like my western values, such as they are; this level of conservatism is not for me and I don’t like it.

Let’s put that aside now.

The counter argument is of course, that people can choose in our plural society to follow their religion freely, and in our society, (in case you’re reading this internationally, I’m a Brit and I have all the stereotypes and prejudices fully installed, for which I apologise; I try to apply my intellect to things to try and  counter the enormous drag factor of such thinking as “Channel fog bound, continent cut off.”), can choose in our plural society to follow their religion, personal practices etc. as long as no-one is harmed.  It’s a value, and we should remember that.  I value that more than I value my personal prejudices.

So what is going on here?

From my point of view there are two difficulties in this move, (oh and by the way you should also see this:- http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8658017.stm 500 Euros, appalling), two difficulties I was saying.

One is that the backlash, which let’s face it we knew was coming, is that women are now being victimized as practicers of their religion.  I know of no religion that requires men to cover up as women are required to do, and therefore the victims of these laws will all be women, some of whom are going to feel terribly vulnerable as result of these laws.  And couching them in terms of “not having a hidden identity” just makes it a lame excuse.

And it’s lame, it’s lame because while we have no general need to conceal our identity, the law enshrines a fear, a fear that anonymity is dangerous, that it is not allowed, because be we have no right to privacy in public places.  It enshrines an idea, that we need to be afraid of people we cannot immediately police, (through CCTV etc.), because we need to be afraid.

It victimises women in particular, Muslims in a more general case, and in the broadest interpretation, it makes us all subject to government scrutiny and control, (or at least, inspection), because we might be terrorists.

Our, and by our in this case I mean Europe, laws have become so much more draconian since 9/11, 7/7 and so many other dates that are sadly meaningful in the track of bombings and other abuses that people have practised upon the world.

These laws, however do nothing to improve safety, but do everything to alienate and stigmatise a tiny minority of Europe’s population, and a majority of the population in the Middle East, people who must be looking on and shaking their heads in wonder at our “liberal” society.

I don’t like the Burka, but I don’t  like suppression, distrust, suspicion and racism a whole lot more.  MY values are that we remember that not everyone on this earth lives the same way, that we respect other cultures and value them, because humans need that “hybrid-vigour” that comes from having cultural values that differ.  As a Discordian, I don’t mind if people disagree, in fact, I rather value that; and I don’t want people to have to leave their culture/religion behind just because they are living near me, because eventually I will learn different points of view, and history that I know nothing of, and philosophy that is beyond value.  Let there be a rainbow, and let it be the colours of all the humans.

As usual, if anything comes across real right wing, then I left out some negation somewhere.

Femininist

Monday, March 29th, 2010

EDIT If you’re viewing this professionally, it’s not meant for that, as is any of this blog.  This entry in particular contains bad language, very firm opinions, and admonitions.  Nevertheless, tempting as it is, I’m not Bowdlerising it because it’s a piece of writing that proved reasonably popular among people important to mat at the time, and it DOES make the point I was trying to  make.  I make no apologies for it, but I will warn you now, that this is NSFW and you should look at something else.  As a piece of writing I’m proud of its rage.

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Yeah, get ready because I’m in a mood and I’m ready to give a polemic.

I’m a guy, and I wear skirts.  Don’t like it?  Fuck off then.  I’m not subscriber to the “put photos of myself on the blog” guys wearing skirts brigade, because I’m not interested in that kind of publicity, I don’t do it for those reasons, maybe you’ll disagree.

I don’t do it because my tag line says “Girl Inside, Just live with it.”  That’s not why.

There are plenty of reasons why I do do it, and I’ll get to them in a second.

Why do I have a girl on my personal blog anyway?  Because you’re suckers for beauty, never mind that this stock photo, which I purchased for this, is a good representation of an old RP character in a situation in which I would quite to be in, i.e drinking coffee while shopping, YOU the good old public like the feminine, because it our society’s conception of beauty, so I want that, and this is the closest I’m going to get, because I sure as hell won’t change my appearance for you.  I look like a huge bloke with correspondingly strong features and strength and bulk.  I don’t have to enjoy it.  I’m also, as far as I’m concerned, an intellectual, a philosopher, a Geek, (coder Geek), an activist, (Albeit that I spend very little time being an activist, with the one notable exception), a Dad, a Mom, and I use this term a a job title, though it is less ongoing as an activity now, and someone who wants to be peaceful and quiet and studious.  I find that all too often I have to be loud, assertive, occasionally obnoxious (hate that), bloody minded, and even occasionally downright stubborn.

I said that there are a lot of reasons that I wear skirts.  I am often asked, and as I’m a Discordian, and the reasons are numerous, what I reply often depends on the day of the week, or my mood, or who I’m trying to wind up that day, or, Eris forbid, even for religious reasons.  (Later polemic on Discordianism and philosophy I promise).

But there is no single reason, and because I’m in a difficult mood I decided that writing about it here would be a good idea for a change, so in no particular order…

Comfort

Who decreed that all men, at least in the west, shall wear bifurcated garments usually folded up up quite tightly into something that could tear a body in half, especially jeans?  *I* didn’t.  My comfort is important to me.  It’s certainly saved me from being kicked in the balls a few times by my small children, as the small legs get tangled up rather than being guided like a tiny booted missile to the most sensitive, apart from teeth, area of my body.  Thanks trouser makes society and fashion, on behalf of all men for having that guidance system in place.  I like skirts or other non-birfurcated, trousers have their place, but it’s not a bloody uniform.  I thought we were equal. We”ll see later how we are not.

Non-Violence

It used to be that I wanted a sign of protest at my pacificism.  I’m no longer a pacifist, but I do try to be a peaceful person.  I have come to realise that “Lad” culture has badly let me down on this one, I have seem women being far far more violent than I have seen any man being, except my father; try spending a few nights cabbying as I did 20 years ago, and you see what I mean.  What happened to us?  I know what bloody happened, we tried to become equal, and that seems to mean to modern people doing what men do, laddish things; binge drinking, threatening behaviour, (I am more often threatened with physical violence from women than I am from men, for wearing skirts and possibly saying “no”).  Violence towards me has never been acceptable, from man or woman, quit it; because the outcome is going to be same, one of two things, I’ll clock you one or call the police, preferably the second.  I’ve had to do the first.  Why am I attackable because I wear different clothes from the general population?  Ah, common homophobia is still acceptable is it?  Not in my book.  I had enough violence as a child, as an adult I don’t have to tolerate it.  I want peace.

And it’s not just physical either, I had a woman confront me in the street, at random seemingly, some years ago, and declare that she was going to take away my children right then and there because to was obviously an abuse that I was their dad and wearing a skirt.  I’m not at all ashamed to say that I told I would kill her where she stood if she touched my children, (I couldn’t run away or I would have; I was carrying one and pushing the other), so she threatened to get the Police.  That seems right and proper to me, so I just carried on shopping.  I never heard from her again.  (And this was ten years and more ago).

Equality and Feminism

Yeah, equality right?  Bollocks, there ain’t any.  Women are still basically abused in the work place, go look around, the glass ceiling is still there, the is still a 17-20% pay gap between the sexes doing the same job.  On the other hand, I know young men who have gone into child care who have been asked “why? Don’t you want to do a real job?  Isn’t it a bit weird to want to care for children if you’re a man? ”  Subtext, we think you’re a paedo so you can sod off.

OH my goddess have we not left the polemical time of the 70’s when feministas outside Greenham common threw Human Excrement at my Dad and me because he was a man and I’m a boy.  Have we not left the time when at 17 years of age I got told that as a man I was basically a rapist and that was my lot in life, couldn’t be helped but there it is?  (80’s for reference).

So bad enough that I’m naturally brown, and “Paki” was the kindest thing said to an intelligent kid who got beat up every day in school, and then got beat again for getting beat up; but being a man makes me a rapist by default!  What a thing to say to a 17 year old kid, I’d never even been with a woman, and there I was labelled.  Well you know something?  I’ve been storing something up that now needs to be said…

YOU TRAITOROUS FEMINIST BITCHES.

I feel better.

Why do I say this?  Why traitorous?

Because labelling all men in this way is a foul foul thing to do to women.  It disempowers them and sets them up to see themselves as victims.  From my point of view, it messages men that their role is about power, which let’s face it rape is about it’s many foul and hideous forms, and induces a fear of being alone with women, which by the way such caution I have passed on to my boys.  Just the accusation can ruin a man’s life and I have cautioned them that being along with any woman is a risk on their part too.  What a terrible indictment of our society, my experiences, and the legacy of a generation.

Women need equality.  That is clear.  It does not mean the homogenisation of society, though I can thin of few things that I would refuse on gender grounds, (personal care pops up right away; but for me I’d rather have a woman than a man, because I can talk about more things more easily, Look! An unequality!  But this is reflection of my personal experiences and not a broader generalisation about empathy based on gender).  But we are not the same, and don’t have to be.  We need equality of respect, opportunity and all the others.  (Three days sick leave without note, I don’t know what it is now, was bought in my the way for women, because men do not get screwed around with by major changes in their bodies once a month.  Foolishness to extend to the male half for “equality”, that misses the damned point, different people have different needs).

No, for equalities sake I wear skirts because eventually I found that I wanted to “walk a mile in their shoes”.

Break for a joke.

A feminist, old school ranty person, told me to walk a mile in her shoes; so I did, but then the policeman drew up beside me and said I had to give them back.  I was glad really, because they bloody hurt.

I wear skirts in part because I want to remind people that we are not equal, and that ultimately, some people are so busy looking at my ass that they don’t see me observing them looking at me.

Shame on them, shame because sometimes, not so much where I live now, because certainly before, people treat me as I’m deaf or Second or Third Language English.  I might be naturally brown, but I’m a Brit you moron’s;  I’m so smart that I taught myself to read, I’m doing a Master’s; I have written papers, I’m probably cleverer than YOU, so don’t ask formerly my wife, or now my girlfriend if I take sugar because I’m right here idiot.  I can SEE you pointing.  I’m just wearing a skirt.  If I was truely from a non-Brit culture, hang on, I can’t say that can I?  I’m in Yorkshire, there are loads of born and bred Muslims, Hundus &c. whose parents may or may not have come from abroad but as one friend who was asked her background recently “‘uddersfield born and bred”.  Still wears the garb of here religion and culture, by choice; no-one points and stares.  (Except kids, but kids do this, proper instruction takes care of this, parent better, I did).  But gender issues are so ingrained that it seems to be ok to point and stare and assume I’m stupid.  It isn’t.

I wear skirts because, and pay attention here because this is probably the most important thing I am going to say, if it is demeaning or wrong for me to do it because I’m a man, then our societies attitude to women must still be that it doesn’t matter what they do, because they count less.

There is alternative hypothesis which I regard as just as bad, and it is that Men must conform because we are not allowed out the the same straightjacket that women have fought so hard for so long to escape, and still not have.

If nuturing, housekeeping, childrearing were really valued, really really valued for the important vital social works they are then my mother in law, for example, and my wife’s workmates would never have said, “Why don’t you send him out to work?” when I was caring for a our little ones at home.  So that’s my value is it, safely at work where I can’t rape anyone, or be a filthy paedo, or bother anyone, just work 40 years and then die.  (This used to be the old pattern of men’s work.)

It’s not valued though, it’s not, we don’t value parenting, and Thatcher made it worse, because she thrust us into a world where both parents really speaking HAVE to work to make ends meet.  That’s no equality, that’s wage slavery.  Huh, I reflect now that I’m a student in my 40’s and £20,000 in debt to my studentness.  Because I couldn’t get a job when our kids were in school full time.

I wear skirts because we are not equal, we were never equal, and it should be daily reminder that this is the case.  Women come off worst, but they are not the only ones.

Feeling Better.

I wear skirts, because somewhere inside I feel better when I do.  I think it comes from bucking teh trend, from not conforming or obeying, or being “just a man”.  I’ve had a great deal of adulation for it, for which I am grateful, and great deal of abuse, which reminds me that we are not fixed yet.  But we don’t live in a broken society, there are many things wrong, but we’re ok, if we’re not ok, then why do a lot of people want to come live here?  We, as a society should be proud of that.  Notwithstandnig recent events, we can walk the street with a reasonable expectation of not being shot, mugged, mown down, or otherwise buggered about with.  (Oh thanks to Disney programmes, “Bugger” no longer semantically related to “Buggery” or I think you would say “Sodomy” now, because “bugger” person that bugs, affectionate in the states, “They’re cute little buggers ain’t they”.  I like to reclaim a word to innocence.  Spread it.)

I wear skirts because it makes me feel better, which is after all the only reason to wear clothes, (in the end), not for your titillation, so no pictures, no to make you feel better, not to promote YOUR feminist point or position as an individual or society, student unions take note, but to make me feel good, because I can do what I want in an equal society, as long as I don’t do any harm to others.  You have to question it though when some idiot wrote his car off on a lamp-post because he was looking at me.  How we laughed after making sure he wasn’t dead or injured. (Because we care).

Health.

I wear skirts because it’s healthier.  I’m still good and fertile despite the twin problems of diabetes and high-blood pressure, and the additional disadvantage of sitting at my desk ten hours a day sometimes.  Because MY testicles are not bound up in jeans every day, apparently a major health problem now.  Free and easy baby, free and easy.  Firm underwear prevents knocking about.  And no, it’s not frilly you fucking idiot.  Piss off, it’s personal.

Asshole filter

Basically the logic is this.  If you point and stare, you are either a child or an asshole.  If you reject me for a job because I’m wearing a skirt, then you are an asshole, I’ve worn skirts in work or at Uni for the last ten years, it doesn’t impair my ability to think,  (see the rant about equality above).  Wearing a skirt does not make me feminine so my brain isn’t going to overheat from intelligence or something, oh wait, women’s brains don’t overheat from education, reading or voting.  Amazing.  (Bear in mind that IN MY LIFETIME, women under 21 didn’t get the vote, men did; black people still suffered from segregation; smoking was cool and gosh yes I was called a “Paki” from ignorance at school because there were black kids and white kids and me.)

So next time, dickhead, that you call me “dear” beause I’m wearing a skirt, and patronise me, I’m going to have no compunction in turning the tables and possibly cause, as I have done in the past, your immediate relationship break up when your girlfriend realises that you apply these values to her.  OR for the women that shout at me the in street occasionally, I shall not cry for your lack of wages; get back to the damned sink if I’m unacceptable, and bring me my tea.

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If I have left out the word “not” and said something really right wing, then I apologise.  I leave out the negation when I am being sarcastic sometimes, and reading it back won’t help.  I am a bad proff reader for informal work.

I believe in equality and diversity.  I believe that even if I don’t like something that someone is doing, say in a social sense or a religious sense, they still have the right, and I shall stand up for that right.  I shall still value the idea that difference, difference itself is valuable and healthy, and that disagreement and discord is an inevitable part of human life, and that we should embrace it, because people of good intent can get along, no matter how different or similar we are.  I believe that Britain should be proud of itself, for we are a plural society, a place where people want to come and live, get educated, to BE.  That is something we all do, something to which we all contribute. I believe that we export knowledge and culture, and we should import culture too, and knowledge.  We should hold our heads up, because whatever the sins of the British Empire, and they were many, OUR society is essentially inclusive and embracing.  I don’t speak about tolerance, I speak about embracing, for we are all humans, and we all have human needs.

Music

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Music while you work.  Yes it is important,  I ususally have a big pair of cans on, partially because this means that I don’t have to put up with in-ear headphones, which are invariably uncomfortable, and partially because this is a sure sign that I’m working.

What to listen to?

I tend to favour either  deep beats, very regular and rythmic, or no beats at all, and definitely vocals are to be avoided, though that is harder with variety.

So although I’m an avid Radio 4 listener when not working, I’m into trance and dance and no beats.  I’m talking here here about things like Camille Jones, “The Creeps” (Here mixed by Fedde Le Grand, alright for jollies if you’re into that sort of thing, and wildy popular at the time. Sex sells, what can I say?)

It is in fact a commentary on office politics, and you can see how I might really hate that stuff.  Empowerment, truth and beauty in actions are what count.

Given this, when it came out, I looked for the original version.  Creative.  Here it is.

Propellerheads.  Yeah I know, Spybreak, Matrix, blah, blah.  No.  I came to it through “Velvet Pants” from an internet Radio Station.  Got the Album “Decksanddrumsandrockandroll.”  Get it.  Really.

Aphex Twin, they can be weird, no You Tube for you.  Good beats though.   Mr Scruff: Brilliant mixes, though I cannot listen to the Whale Song and work, too engaging, kids love it.  Fantastic Website.  Really. Quantic Soul Orchestra and Fila Brazilia.  Both wonderful alternatives to the munge spewed out on say, Radio 1.  What trash kids do listen to today.  (Ahem!  Parent alert!)  Actually, my kids are eclectic and investigative, I may speak about this in the future.  Also my eldest is a Bass Player, through pure simple interest, and a great artist already.  The boy is a genius.

Non English language is great, especially Salsa because I can’t understand a word, and in any event, it’s great great art.

Non-beats.  Jean-Michel Jarre and the Cryosleep stream from BlueMars.org typify this trend.  BlueMars, you can’t live without it.  JMJ can be complicated and require processing, so I tend to avoid it if I really have to concentrate.  I’ve been listening to his music for 30 years though and it never gets old.

For coding though, there is always blessed silence.  I have run out of time to blog about this further right now, but you can be sure I will return the this subejct in the future.

Melting

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

That’s right the snow is melting, the igloo has collapsed, and the road up top is accessible again.

I’m applying for jobs, and there has even been some sort of response.

Hurrah.

Hello world!

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Hi all.

I’ve taken the unusual step of installing blogging software instead of doing my own thing.   There are few reasons for this.  One is that I don’t really have time to work on MY stuff, I’m looking for a job, or clients, or the Goddess forbid, both.  I’m running my “business” website at http://www.stardark.co.uk and there is a full range of services there. There is even a list of clients, but the truth is that I have not had a new client in the last two years, do not have to work on current clients sites in any meaningful way, (because they don’t need it), and have not made any money at all from this in the last three years.  What “clients” I do have are my sites, (example http://www.worksfirsttime.org.uk, the infrequently updated blog of what goes right straight out of the box), and mates sites, (example http://www.griffandceriswedding.org.uk, it is self explanatory), hosted and written free, (also a blog for the sake of spending very little time on it), because they are friends.   I have one or two clients who are also friends who effectively pay the hosting fees.  That is the basis on whcih they continue to be hosted.

I need a real job.  I spend a lot of time coding web stuff because I have to stay current and keep on top of things, or the skills are lost, so I code.  So right now, amongst maybe 10 job applications a day, I am writing a new CMS.

Why do that when there are so many out there?

Well, WordPress, (This blog), is good, in fact this verison is excellent, really.  But all these sort of things are blogs, WordPress, Joomla etc. etc.   I want something that writes a website for a client, and that looks and behave smoothly like a real application.  Thus I write another CMS.  It looks like no other CMS that I have ever seen.  More on this later.

My CV is on this website for a change.

Readers should note that I’m not very good at proof-reading my own material, and so spelling errors are my own.  Yes, I use a spell checker, but that is not 100% reliable, so bear it in mind.  Also, I rather unhelpfully leave out the word “not” every now and again.  That can make some statements I make very misleading, or possibly even embarrassing.  Yes.  Indeed.

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I’m Game Mastering in the Student National Roleplaying and Wargaming Championships this year, hurrah! I don’t have to organise a team or anything, just turn up and run a great game.  No problem there, just egos from players, not enough coffe, staying up until 3am and driving back.  Fortunately, it’s only Macnhester.

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I’m also snowed in.  I’m waiting for a friendly Farmer to come tow me out.

Here are some pictures from my phone.

 

Snow in Cwmpanner

Snow in Cwmpanner

Further Snowfields

Further Snowfields