marnanel: (Default)
some things to know about me:

* I may be wrong and often am. If I am, I would like to know, and learn better. But...
* I hate conflict. If you are rude, aggressive, hostile, ridiculing, I'll probably not talk to you.
* I am aware that I am privileged in many ways; if I show unchecked privilege, I appreciate hearing about it and I promise to take it seriously. I expect the same from you.
* Autonomy is important. I would like to hear your stories rather than tell my own. But if your behaviour involves nonconsensual damage to others, especially children, I am unlikely to be sympathetic (to put it mildly). Anti-vaccination people are specifically included here as people who damage children.
* I love hugs and cuddles, but please don't touch me without asking.
* If I have a panic attack, please hang around. Afterwards I will probably go and hide somewhere for a bit, and then I probably won't cope too well with people talking to me.
* If I'm occupied with nothing but my phone in public, that's probably a way of hiding.
* I hate phone calls. I hate making them, and I hate receiving them. Text or email instead, unless it's urgent, or you've arranged it otherwise. (To my parents: yes, you count as having arranged otherwise. But I still prefer email.)
* My pronouns are they/them, though zie/zir is fine too, and other pronouns are all right where I'm not out as genderqueer. If you get it wrong, that's fine. But don't get it wrong on purpose.
* Do not shout at me. Ever.
* I like reconciliation. If we were friends in the past, I probably want to be friends again. There are a very few exceptions, but you know who you are.
* I like vegetarian food, but I'll eat some kinds of meat if that's all that's available. I'm allergic to uncooked egg (and this includes scrambled eggs, for some reason). Eggs in things like cake are fine. Actually, cake is lovely in general.
* I have a bad habit of avoiding dealing with things I don't know how to handle, especially emails I don't know how to answer. In particular, I love getting fanmail, but I'm rather bad at answering it. I'm really sorry: I'm working on it. I do read it all, and it does make me happy, and I love you all.
* Please don't assume I can pick up on hints, or flirting, or that I know any particular social conventions about conversations; please be explicit. If there's something you can't or don't want to talk about, I will pick it up and worry about it if you lie about the things round the edges in inconsistent ways. I really like it when people talk to me about how they want to talk to me and how I want to talk to them.
* I'll try to add trigger warnings to posts and pictures. Again, if I get it wrong, let me know.
* I have triggers of my own. I may have to leave a conversation because of them. It's a PTSD thing.
* Reciting poetry and singing and scripting/echolalia are coping habits.
* I apologise too much. I'm working on it.

Did I miss anything? Questions and comments and suggestions are welcome.
marnanel: (Default)
A trans girl moves to live with her father in Arizona to escape bullying. She meets people at high school, but she is afraid to come out to them as trans.

The plot is straightforward but enjoyable. Chapters alternate between the present (high school politics and living with her dad) and the past (transition angst and living with her mum). The characters of her parents are especially well-drawn, each with their own tangles of development and motivation.

After the story ends, the author adds two notes: one aimed at cis readers, about understanding trans issues, and one aimed at trans readers, to encourage them and show them some options. I think this is a grand idea.

The only serious fault I find, and it's a fault acknowledged by the author in the endnotes, is that the protagonist has too few problems with transition: she gets hormones easily, she has a girlish build, and she gets bottom surgery earlier than would normally be possible.

There are perhaps too many books about trans people where much of the plot is about them being trans, but they serve a useful function in educating and encouraging (as well as entertaining) and this book does all three.

Strong content warnings for transphobia and bullying, of course; one scene has a graphic suicide attempt; reference to a successful suicide; attempted sexual assault; firearms; soft drugs; no actual sex.

Xen

Jul. 18th, 2017 03:00 pm
marnanel: (Default)

This is the Xen remaining in my mind.
These are the memories we mourn today:
they know no bounds, and cannot be confined.
These are the fingerprints you left behind;
These are the shadows that you cast away.

This is the Xen remaining in my mind
who fights to heal, to hope, and to unbind,
who helps the homeless build a place to stay,
who knows no bounds, and cannot be confined,
whose voice supports the hated and maligned,
who builds a happy home where children play:
this is the Xen remaining in my mind.

You taught me that the hope of humankind
is in community that, come what may,
will know no bounds and cannot be confined:
the colours of your rainbow are combined,
reflected here, for ever and a day;
this is the Xen remaining in my mind
who knows no bounds and cannot be confined.

[in memoriam Xen Hasan, obiit 2017]

 

marnanel: (Default)

I just got thrown out of a restaurant for shouting at another diner.

She’d been insulting her child loudly for about ten minutes. The kid didn’t do anything in response: she just kept eating.

“You can’t eat properly.”

“You’re gross.”

I don’t know what she thought the kid was doing– maybe not using a fork properly?

Twice the woman did that thing people do to mock disabled folk. “Dur-nur-nur-nur,” you know?

And this was all loud enough that nobody could ignore it. All the other diners were turning round to glare at her. I was wondering how to intervene. There was too much anger in my mind.

Then her partner said something quietly about how she was spoiling everyone’s lunch. She snapped back, “It’s your fault for not restraining the kid.”

At this point I lost it.

I jumped up, pointed at her, and shouted, “YOU. YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.”

And I told her that children should be encouraged and praised. That she was setting the kid up for a lifetime of feeling worthless. And: how dare she treat a child that way? I don’t remember what else I said. I was full berserker angry by this point.

“Excuse me,” said the staff. “I’m going to have to ask you to leave.”

“Of course. I’m sorry,” I said to the staff. “I’m sorry,” I said to the other diners, and then: “But I’m not fucking sorry to you.”

I don’t think the woman will change.

I expect she’ll punish the child when they get home.

But the child will never forget this day.
The child will know that someone opposes her mother.
That someone can fight her corner.

That was a thousand times worth getting thrown out of the restaurant.

[Picture by Sailko, cc-by-sa; detail from Santa Maria del Fiore, Florence]

marnanel: (Default)
[CW Islamophobia]

I just stopped for a chat with a couple of guys handing out Islamic literature in Market Street. An agitated man ran up to us. "That man grabbed the Qur'an you gave me and threw it in the bin!" "Who was that?" said one of the others. "That Christian preacher over there! And you know what he told me? He said the only good Muslim is a dead Muslim." I said something unprintable. The other man merely said, "Oh, it's him again," went over to the bin, and fished the book out again. Then they both went over and had a conversation with the preacher, which appeared from a distance to be civil at least on one side.

It was time for us to go, so we carried on up Market Street. The preacher was clearly homing in on us. We kept on veering left. He kept adjusting his course. Eventually we reached the wall. "It's all about Jesus," he said. "Indeed it is," I said. "You have to accept Jesus into your heart," he said. I glanced down at the tract he was holding out. In capitals in the Parchment font it read, "THREE STAGES OF JIHAD." "I have, thank you. I'm a Christian..." I kept pushing Kit's chair on past him. "Oh." "...and I have to say I think you're behaving abominably. You took someone's book out of their hands and threw it in the bin. You realise that constitutes theft? ..." But he'd gone.

If anyone was walking down Market Street wondering which faith to convert to, I think Islam would have been the unquestionable winner.

I am not happy with this shit happening in the name of Jesus. I am not happy with it happening in the name of the Church. I don't know what I can do to help. Ideas welcome.
marnanel: (Default)

[This was the review of “Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone” I posted on June 8th 1999, shortly before the release of “Azkaban”.]

It's been quite a while since I enjoyed a previously unread children's book as much as I enjoyed HP&TPS. At first, the book did seem to skip through genres quite jerkily: I think the introduction, an ugly-duckling story as with the start of, say, James and the Giant Peach, was a bit too long for a section so separate from the rest of the story. But the mystery part was excellent and I never guessed the secret. (It's an interesting point that there's no way you can be really evil if you have a stammer.) Considered as a school story... I'm not sure I can tell: the conventions for stories about boys' schools and girls' schools are so different, and good stories (such as this one) about co-ed schools are correspondingly so rare. Perhaps this is just my limited experience.

Incidentally, I wonder how much she was influenced by DWJ. The idea of the Ministry of Magic is very similar to Chrestomanci's department (though with different motives); you could perhaps draw (a few) parallels with Witch Week.

The description of the first few days at the school did get slightly irritating, because your attention kept being summarily drawn to a rapid succession of things which were (or seemed to be) just for show, without any obvious use in the story (e.g. the Choosing Hat): it was rather as though the author had invited you over to show you her holiday snaps. This is one of the places where I'd draw unfavourable comparisons with the subtle way DWJ has of doing the same thing; nevertheless, there are lots of good little ideas used well, with Diagon Alley and the Every Flavour sweets being especially memorable.

A few oddnesses: I'm sure Hermione's logic puzzle has more than one solution. The bizarre HM turned without warning into a bizarre moralist beside the Mirror of Erised (though you could draw comparisons with his behaviour by Harry's sick bed). Quidditch was rather run to death. Were there really no half-decent people in the whole of Slytherin? And by the way, I'm fairly sure I remember reading in Brewer that the Philosopher's Stone was pink and crumbly, not scarlet... hmm!

But it's also been a while since I've slowed down towards the end of a book because I know I'm going to miss the characters (cf. the Neverending Story). So I think I'll look out for the sequel... besides, I want to know whether Harry & Hermione get together :) . I'll certainly be recommending this to people I know who are sensible enough to want to read it.

[And a small claim to fame: AFAIK I was the first person to try to create a Harry Potter newsgroup.]

marnanel: (Default)

This is the first of our rose plants to flower.
The plant's name is Sheila.


I've been growing roses all my life.
I wear a necklace of rosewood.
In many ways, I am a rose.

Roses aren't naturally climbing plants, like bindweed or grapevines. They must be cared for, and bound to a structure. And I've learned that I need to give myself a structure, or I can't naturally climb.

I am a rose.

Roses need work. They must be pruned. The pruning is painful, but without it they won't flower.

I am a rose.

Nobody cares about dog-roses, nobody notices them, but they grow wild wherever they please. The popular roses that everyone admires are sterile and can't spread: they survive because they're grafted onto a dog-rose root. The roses nobody cares about are the roses that keep the others alive.

I am a rose.

I grew up near one of the biggest rose nurseries in the country, so everywhere there was me, there were roses too. I fell into many a rosebush while I was learning to ride a bike. I carefully grew one up the side of the house, a yellow rose with a mind of its own: soon I had to leave it to its own devices because it had grown taller than my arms could reach.

I am a rose.

When I was about six I had a dream of a concentration camp. I had been imprisoned, along with many other humans, by gaseous aliens who lived on methane. The armed guards would float around our cabins and the parade ground, terrifying us as much as they intimidated us.

Of course when you're sent to the camps, they take everything away from you: all your property as well as your dreams and your name. But I'd smuggled in one memento: a small twig of rosewood. I kept it in the pocket of my grey uniform and squeezed it tight whenever I was homesick.

One day I realised that roses have thorns. And that was the day I used the rosewood to burst and kill the guards at the gate, and run free into the outside world. One small piece of reality had torn a hole in the nightmare.

I am a rose.

marnanel: (Default)

[cw: food, death, suicide]

Someone asked

What is the message of Sonnet 30 by Edna St. Vincent Millay?

This is a Shakespearean sonnet. Partly that means it has a particular rhyme scheme, but more importantly it means its meaning has a particular pattern:

  • Something. Traditionally this part is eight lines long, as it is in this sonnet.
  • Break, called a "volta".
  • On the other hand, something else.
  • Resolution: tie the two somethings together.

Let's go through it together:

Love is not all

There are lots of things in life other than love. She is presumably referring to romantic love here.

it is not meat nor drink
Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;
Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink
And rise and sink and rise and sink again;

Here are some important things in life, other than love:  food, drink, sleep, shelter, and a lifebelt if you're drowning.

Love can not fill the thickened lung with breath,
Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;

Also, love can't provide healthcare. Love can't save your life. But...

Yet many a man is making friends with death
Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.

...but the odd thing is, people often kill themselves because someone doesn't love them.  So love can't save your life, but it seems that lack of love can kill you.

Here's the volta, so now we’re talking about something else. The previous part was talking about love in a theoretical, abstract way. The next bit is addressed to a particular lover.

It well may be that in a difficult hour,
Pinned down by pain and moaning for release,
Or nagged by want past resolution's power,
I might be driven to sell your love for peace,
Or trade the memory of this night for food.

Lots of things might go wrong in the future. When they do, you might want to give away something you have, if it would make things better again. Maybe if things got bad enough, Millay might be tempted to throw away her lover's love if it would fix the situation, or even to lose the memory of one night spent with her lover. "Trade the memory of this night" might also mean telling someone the (previously secret) story of what happened that night, in order to get food when she was hungry.

Note that she says "this night", so she's saying this to her lover as part of that night which was so secret and special.

Resolution:

It well may be. I do not think I would.

"It may well be" introduced the previous section. So, maybe she would give all that up in order to save her life. As she said at the beginning, there's more to life than just love. But she thinks it's unlikely, because her lover and their secrets are so very important to her.

marnanel: (Default)


Here's a song for everyone whose gender isn't "male" or "female". Share it freely.

They told me when I started school
I had to join a line
There's one for girls and one for boys
I asked them which was mine
They asked me if my mother raised
A daughter or a son
They sent me to the corner, where
I made a line of one.

And the line for the girls was pretty pretty pink
And the line for the boys was blue
There's another line for everyone else
The line for me and you.

Some people have a mind that's small
A mind that gives them trouble
With party frocks and stompy boots
And lipstick on my stubble.
You tell me I'm confused about
The person I should be
The only one confused is you
I know that I am me.

And the door for the girls was pretty pretty pink
And the door for the boys was blue
There's another door to the outside world
The door for me and you.

Now, if you think your business is
To label me, or guess
The sort of thing I keep beneath
My trousers, or my dress,
It's not your call to ask about
The contents of my pants,
Unless I take you home to bed...
And... sweetie, not a chance.

And the world for the girls was pretty pretty pink
And the world for the boys was blue
There's another world for everyone else
The world for me and you.

fork bomb

May. 26th, 2017 07:35 pm
marnanel: (Default)
In the second year of my BSc, one of the lecturers asked us to build a Unix shell. In those days, Unix on PCs was a novelty, and most people used accounts on a minicomputer called altair. (Now I feel old.)

Anyway, a fundamental part of building a shell is the sequence of fork() then exec(). It's unique to Unix-like systems, and most students were unfamiliar with it-- hence the exercise.

Now, if you miss out the exec(), you'll have a continuous loop of fork()s, otherwise known as a fork bomb. This could bring down the system, especially in those days. So imagine several dozen CS2 students logging in to the same computer, building a fork bomb by accident, and setting it off.

The funniest part was how angry he was with *us* in the next lecture. "The sysadmins are saying I told you to put fork() in a loop! I *never* told you to put fork() in a loop!"
marnanel: (Default)

When we were teenagers, my brothers and sisters and I played a game called Starlight; we’d made it up and it evolved over time. There was a deck of 64 cards. Here are some of my favourites, drawn by teenage me.

image

STARLIGHT. Top card in the deck.

image

ALCHEMIST. Part of the game was that everyone could choose a card that represented themselves. This was my card.

image

PHARAOH. This card was the most powerful/valuable. He gained a microphone in this edition because we’d just finished a school production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

image

POET. He’s writing something about himself and weeping.

image

OREAD. An oread is the spirit of a hill, just as a dryad is the spirit of a tree.

image

DRYAD. This was my brother Andrew’s card– he wore glasses at the time. This edition has his eyes drawn heavily blue, because Andrew has noticably blue eyes.

image

NAIAD. The spirit of a stream.

The full set is here: https://thurman.org.uk/starlight/ . Apologises for the card called MADMAN: I know better now.
marnanel: (Default)
"Ascribe" is the numbering system I've developed for filing creative work. Someone asked about it, so I'm documenting it here.

I use the codes as filenames; I also write them in the corners of pieces of paper, so I know where the page belongs if it gets lost. And I use them for labelling chapters in draft manuscripts; otherwise you have beta readers saying "In chapter seventeen..." which might not currently be the seventeenth chapter.

So, every major project has a work code, which is a single letter (case doesn't matter). My current WIP happens to be B. Then the numbers for chapters look like "B3115": a letter followed by some digits. Usually, there are four digits; the thousands digit shows the part of the story (1=setup, 2/3=confrontation, 4=resolution) and after that the numbers go up in tens so I can easily squeeze new chapters in. For example, the chapters in B2 are currently B2010, B2030, B2041, B2051, B2060, B2081, and B2110.

Beyond that, subsections of chapters are informally numbered with a decimal point (so, B2010 might have B2010.1, B2010.2...).

And I often write a draft number before the work code, so 3B2010 is the version of B2010 in 3B, which is the third draft.

There are a few special work codes:
  • "i" is for numbering any issues that need resolving in anything.
  • "X" is for numbering pieces too small to need their own work code (e.g. "Jack by the Hedge" is X12).
  • All poetry is in work code "T" (e.g. "Examination" is T132).
It seems complicated, but it's grown over many years and it works for me.

 

marnanel: (Default)
CW for toilets etc.

Read more... )
marnanel: (Default)
There is a Markov-tastic meme about making a dating profile from your phone's autosuggest. Here's mine:

My name is E on Radio 4.
My name is David from our faceless master of science.
My age is just a beautiful-sounding the Tories governing body of the Trinity or the victim's opinion.
My age is pretty shite.
My age is just a beautiful-sounding I will be vexatious to these churches.
I live in the Basic Subjects.
I live in a few weeks and then put them on my way home.
I live in the future of our games.
I was born in Pendleton Oregon USA [nb I have never been to Oregon]
My body is you need anything from me that you have tarantulas of Lords.
My body and mind and body of a monogamous anything.
I am looking for some time ago but this time around I will avoidbringing to some people.
I enjoy working with you and your family and friends.
I enjoy your knuckles of homosexual.
I enjoy being the best of the Archbishop.
My ideal partner is you can look for it to you and I think it was a Christian primary to these but I'd love it--of Lords to my butchness to these things I get freaked.

what if

Apr. 18th, 2017 05:33 pm
marnanel: (Default)
The Lib Dems run an anti-Brexit campaign. The Tories win the election but don't have a majority. The Lib Dems offer to join a coalition on the condition that the government drops Brexit. Theresa May agrees that this is an acceptable price to stay in power, and gets to drop A50 without losing face.

(Probably not really her plan, but I like the plot)
marnanel: (Default)
At times like these, I find Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address to the nation an inspiring read:
Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or indeed by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.

Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense; we have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security more than the net income of all United States corporations.

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
marnanel: (Default)

And through thick woods one finds a stream astray
So secret that the very sky seems small...
– G K Chesterton

In 2009 I was working in a dull grey cubicle, in a dull grey office, in a dull grey office park. And I was very bored.

After a few months, on my lunch break, I was walking along the grass verge beside the car park. The verge was neatly mown, but beyond its edge there was unkempt woodland.

So I began to wonder about the woodland. As far as I could tell, it had grown up by itself because nobody was looking after the land. I determined to explore, next lunchbreak.

I had to fight my way through the overgrowth at first. My path was blocked by brambles and plenty of poison ivy; fortunately, I’m immune. But after only a minute or so, I couldn’t see the office park any more. There was nothing but me, the trees, and the sky.

I came back every day to explore. Soon I discovered an almost dry streambed, which led me to a stream. I don’t know whether it has a name, but I named it Teg. (That means “beautiful” in Welsh.)

Every lunchbreak from then on, I’d come down and sit by the stream to eat my lunch. It was the most peaceful place I knew, and it almost made that job worthwhile. I never saw another human there. Sometimes, when I was sure nobody else came down to the stream, I used to bathe in it.

A few months later, when I was offered a better job, I left with no regrets– except for my river. About half a mile downstream, there’s a road bridge that crosses the stream for a moment, though you’d never notice it unless you knew to look. As I crossed the bridge on my last journey home, and said goodbye to the Teg for the last time, a bright white egret stood drinking from the stream. He saw me, and flew away.

ownvoices

Apr. 4th, 2017 01:08 am
marnanel: (Default)
Now, the world is very wide
(seven seas from side to side)
and it holds a million ways to tell a tale,
And you'll broaden your horizon
When the work you lay your eyes on
Isn't always European, straight, and male.
If you've ever been and gone
to a panel at a con
I'm assuming you're familiar with the sight:
There'll be four and twenty guys
They've shortlisted for a prize
And EVERY... SINGLE... ONE... OF... THEM... IS... WHITE!

(With apologies to Rudyard Kipling: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_the_Neolithic_Age )
marnanel: (Default)
"If I lived in India I would totally have an elephant, not to do anything but just as a companion. And I would buy it canvases and brushes so it could paint things and then I could see what it painted, and also I would buy it a theremin because I think nobody ever thought to buy an elephant a theremin before, and then it would go [noise of elephant playing a theremin; Yantantessera the cat decides to leave]. And the neighbours would come round saying 'What's that bloody noise?' and I'd say 'Just my elephant playing the theremin' and they'd say 'Oh okay'."

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