Thursday, May 28th, 2015 09:39 am
[ profile] squirmelia and I are organising a Computer Anonymous meet up at the St George's Tavern in London on 3rd June. More details:

Computer Anonymous:

London group:
Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 03:14 pm
Body shape and dietary change, with weight and waist numbers )

Comment policy: No shaming or unkind language directed at any body or body type, including your own; you feel what you feel, of course, but I still don't want to see that language in comments here. I'm happy to hear what goals you have and what's worked for you, but don't assume those goals or techniques will suit anyone else. No advice unless you think I'm doing something genuinely dangerous to my health. And especially no advocating disordered eating behavior (but discussing past EDs, ED recovery, related struggles, etc. is totally fine). Comment kindly and with care.
Thursday, May 28th, 2015 01:13 am
I can't actually articulate how I feel about the Yes vote in Ireland. I spent the day of the vote crying and watching Twitter. I hardly slept the night before the count. I spent the day of the count crying and watching Twitter. Then I made rainbow bunting with the children and danced.

But there's more complicated things in there under the relief and joy. More complicated, less pleasant things. About marriage, and societal acceptance of non-straight persons, and all manner of things. I'm pretty bitter.
Wednesday, May 27th, 2015 08:14 am
Tone policing is when someone says "you would have a good point, if only you would sound less angry and more reasonable when you say it". It is generally used as a tactic to shut up people who are talking about how they are being oppressed or exploited by various systems, by those who support and benefit from those systems. Sometimes those who are (or claim to be) on the side of those who are oppressed and exploited by a system will use tone policing because they genuinely think that if only everyone was nice then the oppressors would listen.

Such is the case with Iain Roberts' recent article about "demonising the rich" on Lib Dem Voice. I've met Iain, several times, & he's a genuinely nice, well-meaning, conscientious Councillor. And yet in that article, and more so in the comments to it, he comes across as a smug, self-satisfied, arrogant, patronising arsehole. I am dead set certain that he isn't any of those things, and also that this is not the tone he was going for when he complains about the tone of people on the left, but it's an inherent problem when you tone police people who already feel like you are not on their side.

His article has a germ of a point: in order to stem the rising tide of inequality "the rich", however you define them, need to be brought onside. Where I differ from Iain is that I don't think if we all just ask nicely it'll magically happen. History shows that asking nicely is all well and good, but a big legislative stick is the only thing that actually works.

So to those who say "you may have a point, but you'd be more persuasive if you were less angry" I say this:

You may have a point, but you'd be more persuasive if you sounded less like an apologist for oppression.

How about maybe we ALL think about our tone when speaking? I'll try to be less angry and sweary if you stop using a tone that's guaranteed to MAKE me angry and sweary?
Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 11:16 pm
The resort we stayed at in Turkey on our recent holiday was one of these all-inclusive five-star jobbies. The bloke and I are not normally “all-inclusive five-star” sort of people. We’re more “tent in a field”, “youth hostel” or "self-catering" types. I can't claim this is due to any high-minded moral sense. If we stay somewhere fancy we can afford two days, whereas if we camp, we can afford to stay a week. Since having tiny children and decent salaries, however, we’ve (with varying degrees of reluctance) discovered staying in hotels.

When the opportunity came up to have a beach holiday in a country where we could actually afford “all-inclusive five-star”, though, it seemed a good time to try it and see what the fuss was about.

We arrived late at night, because that’s how these things work with package deals and charter flights. Humuhumu dealt with it admirably well after having fallen happily asleep on the plane and subsequently being woken multiple times for the bus journey from the airport to the hotel and finally when her parents insisted on raiding the late-night buffet ten minutes before it shut because they hadn’t had any dinner. The buffet was pretty amazing, given that it was almost 1 AM. We were given wristbands that allowed us to wander freely around the hotel eating and drinking All The Things (and there was a hell of a lot on offer everywhere), and our room cards.

We slept until late morning. This was one unanticipated bonus of travelling two time zones ahead of British Summer Time: it meant Humuhumu was time-shifted two hours later than usual. We could, therefore, have leisurely evening meals, walks along the beach and drinks at the outside bar before we went to bed. Unlike the other parents of small children who were staying at the resort, we’d not had the foresight or ability to bring along siblings with no children of their own and/or grandparents. The time-shift allowed us to claw back some of the disadvantage of not having any babysitters. (The minimum age for babysitting services offered by the resort was four years old.)

Breakfast was our first opportunity to observe the other occupants of the resort. I’d say at least 75% were retired couples, which had the unfortunate effect of making me think constantly of Jeremy Paxman’s crack during the UK’s recent general election: “My generation has blown our inheritance on Mediterranean holidays and is refusing to die. If you want to be rid of us, pray for cold winters, or vote.” Judging from the languages on the signage and menus, most were either British, German or Russian. The remaining 25% were couples with very young children and their grandparents, or couples having a romantic getaway. And there were four very tanned, very tattooed, very fit young men from Essex who’d clearly made a terrible misjudgment of the tenor of the place. They were quite sweet and seemed to be making the best of it, which couldn’t have been that difficult when it’s 35 C and you can bounce between beautiful swimming pools and the crystal-clear Med and drink beer and eat ice cream all day. Still, we felt a little sad for them. But not for long as we were too busy enjoying all those things ourselves.

The food on offer was pretty spectacular, and you could eat surprisingly healthy and delicious meals without much effort.

You could also eat a lot of pastries afterward, which we did.

I revelled in having no cooking or washing up to do, although I don’t find those tasks as onerous as I did a few years ago.

Still, it’s not an indulgence I would want on a yearly basis, even if I could afford it, which I can’t. I feel faintly uncomfortable with a level of service that includes fresh towels every day (honestly, we’re not that filthy), although I’m fully on board with a minibar that gets restocked daily. It was also very loud with thumpy music every night and we had to keep the balcony door closed until 3 AM or so. Our resort had evening entertainment that only went on until midnight, but all the five-stars are on the same strip of beach in the town and cater for different clientele so the late-night partying can be heard by everyone. That wasn’t so bad on the first night, when it was only 28 C during the day, but it went up to 38 C by the end of the week and it got pretty stuffy even though the humidity stayed pretty low. I’m not fond of air conditioning, having grown up in the tropics where you’re constantly going from “dry frigid arctic” indoors to “wall of sweaty heat” outside in the summer, so not being able to have fresh cool air wafting into our room all night caused a little bit of resentment.

I might like to try it again when the children are older and we could take advantage of the child care on offer. Then we could use more of the resort’s facilities, like the spa and the restaurants, and perhaps go out into the town at night. But I wouldn’t be that fussed if we never went “all-inclusive five-star” again.

Photos: eating drinking napping sea pool )
Tuesday, May 26th, 2015 08:30 pm
Bubbles & Tea, Stratford, London E15

Evening everyone! This week's featured article is for Bubbles and Tea, a small vegan bubble tea cafe in the Stratford Centre. If you're not sure what bubble tea is, there's a helpful sign on the front of the premises!

Freshly written up on RGL are articles for the Japanese Canteen in Holborn (serviceable greasy noodles) and the newly opened Everyman Cinema in Canary Wharf. There's also an update to the page for Ravi Shankar, one of the better Indian restaurants on Euston's Drummond Street, following a recent lunch visit.

There's some to-ing and fro-ing around Tottenham Court Road and Waterloo: Book Warehouse has moved a few minutes down the road on Lower Marsh, and now occupies the top floor of Gramex Music Shop. Also on the move are Korean restaurants Woo Jung and Po Cha, both having moved from the shadow of Centrepoint due to the Crossrail works. Woo Jung is now on New Oxford Street while Po Cha find itself opposite Gramex on Lower Marsh, in the old premises of Marsh Ruby (now closed). Their former Centrepoint neighbour Assa has closed for good, however, as has the Old Justice in Bermondsey.
Monday, May 25th, 2015 07:13 pm
Bombshell (3942 words) by innerbrat
Chapters: 1/?
Fandom: Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain America (Movies)
Rating: General Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Characters: James "Bucky" Barnes, Steve Rogers, Howard Stark
Additional Tags: Rule 63, Female!Bucky

Chapter one: Carry Moonbeams Home in a Jar

In which a fun afternoon of trespassing changes a life.

Monday, May 25th, 2015 01:03 am
I have been waiting so eagerly to use this subject line. :)

Yesterday I did a few rounds of knitting (v. small rounds, finishing off a baby bootie, but still!) and my arm didn't hurt. And then I played an emulated SNES game with an SNES-style controller for most of an hour, and my right arm didn't hurt except for one small sore spot right along the tendon near the elbow. Also, I spent a good chunk of yesterday hanging out on the grass in Washington Square, sitting and sprawling in various awkward unsupported ways, and my knees didn't hurt at all when I got home.

Today I did another hour of gaming and my arm doesn't hurt, except that one spot... and today there's a bruise rising on that spot from where I whacked it on something, which I belatedly recall doing. So actually the gaming and knitting didn't hurt my arm at all. If I massage the tendon I can get it to grumble, but it's basically fine. And I spent most of the day in bed (getting over a cold, plus general weekend laziness), and my right knee only twinged a tiny bit when I went out for a walk with J in the evening.

I should send my physiotherapist flowers. And go do my nightly exercises, because clearly they're working.
Sunday, May 24th, 2015 01:13 am
I dreamed that Bill O'Reilly (yes, the pundit) ran an internet cafe in my dreamworld version of San Francisco. J and I went to a movie, and afterwards we went over to the cafe. Bill looked very sad when I came in and said he was hurt because he and I used to be friends but then I stopped coming to the cafe without saying goodbye. I was sort of confused by this because I didn't really remember us being friends. I looked at his blog and there were lots of people saying nasty things about me in the comments, and he wasn't precisely encouraging them but he sure wasn't shutting them down. I pointed it out to him and said that was hardly the behavior of someone who thought of me as a friend. J and I were quite incredulous about the whole thing. We tried not to laugh where he could hear us but it was clearly absurd. When we left he was still being sad at me, futilely.

(I was going to chalk this one up to pure surrealism, but upon rereading it, it's clearly about Puppygate. I appreciate the reminder from my subconscious that the appropriate response to conservative blowhards talking shit about me, or about "SJWs" in general, is to snicker and move on.)

At some point--before this? after this?--I was at the movie theater (again?), and then it turned into a concert arena. There was a big heavy metal concert going on. I think I had a good time? I don't remember much of it.

(So much in my dreams lately about art and music, and now movies too. My therapist suggested that this might represent my creative self and particularly my novel-writing, which I've kind of put on hold because there's been too much other stuff going on and my brain got full. Last week I managed to do 45 minutes of research reading and that felt like a victory. But I will get back to it somehow, though I have no idea how. I'm still so far out of the mindset I was in when I started the book--not sure whether to write something else as a palate-cleanser or try tackling a different section of it that has a different feel or what.)
Friday, May 22nd, 2015 11:29 pm
Ryan Coetzee has written an article in the Grauniad in which he details why he thinks we did so badly in the elections. Perhaps unsurprisingly his answer isn't "hanging on the every word of an overpaid soothsayer who sold us a pup of a slogan". You will be likewise be unsurprised I have some disagreements with his conclusions.
About four weeks from election day it became clear that The Fear was hurting us. We tried everything we could to counter it: fear of a Tory minority government in hock to its own right wing, Ukip and the DUP; fear of Tory cuts to welfare, schools and other unprotected departments; ruling out participation in any government that relied on SNP support; offering ourselves as the only guarantors of a stable coalition. All of it was trumped by The Fear, and on a scale we didn’t see coming.
Yes, we tried every other form of fear we could think of. But we didn't try hope.
We made a coherent, liberal case to the voters...
No we bloody didn't because you told us not to. We were the rizla trying to slip between the tories and labour, and those who wanted the "tory" value of strong economy voted tory, and those who wanted the "labour" value of fair society voted labour.
...offering both a strong economy and a fair society.
SEFS is and always was a total bag of arse. It fails the standard test (who would campaign for a weaker economy and a less fair society?) and it's meaningless bollocks. Ask the average voter what they thought of it and they'll shrug and go "it's all right". It's not distinctively liberal. It's Rizla-slipping in slogan form.
My tentative conclusion is that it is probably not possible to succeed electorally in coalition government under first-past-the-post while remaining equidistant from the two big parties. If we can’t win the fight for proportional representation, it may be that we have either to stay in opposition or pick a side.
We are NEVER going to succeed by aligning ourselves ANYWHERE on the left right axis because it's already crowded. We need to persuade people that the axis that matters is the Liberal authortarian axis because we bloody own it.
There are three options for the party now: remain in opposition unless we can change the electoral system, even if a coalition opportunity presents itself again, allowing us to be whichever version of our liberal selves we like; seek once more to reunite the left by merging or aligning with Labour, thereby creating a path to power for liberal ideas; or rebuild, take the next chance to be in government, and do it differently in the hope of a different outcome.
Does it have to be us that changes the electoral system? I don't care who does it, as long as it gets done, and there's a LOT of pressure for it now. And once that happens, all bets are off.

Look, clearly Ryan wins the argument from authority here, because the party pays him an awful lot of money to do what he does, and the party doesn't pay me anything anymore because I got made redundant, there being no funding left for my job now we have been massacred. So you can dismiss this as bitterness if you like. But I think people will vote Liberal Democrat if we give people a reason to vote FOR US. And "we're a bit less profligate than Labour, and a bit less heartless than the tories" isn't a reason to vote for us, it's entirely negative. Until some overpaid soothsayer comes up with something the voters can latch onto that's distinctly us, we're screwed.

Of course, up until 2010 we had "you can trust them to do what they say", and look how well THAT'S going now...