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)
Here are some interesting definitions from my personal Plover steno dictionary.

Proper nouns

I have a habit of setting up proper nouns with -LZ on the right hand. (It's unlikely to clash with anything; there's no reason beyond that.) So for example:

"K-LZ": "King's Cross",
"SP-LZ": "St Pancras",

(K-LZ and SP-LZ were for typing out this story.)

Punctuation

"KR-GS": "{^~|”}",
"KR-GZ": "{^~|\"}",
"KW-GS": "{~|“^}",
"KW-GZ": "{~|\"^}",
In the standard dictionary, KW-GS and KR-GS are open and close quotes, respectively. I've remapped them to curly quotes. The straight quotes are moved to KW-GZ and KR-GZ in case I need them.

"-RBS": "{^,” said}",
"SKHRAPLS": "{^!” said}",
Separate chords for typing things like comma, close quote, "said", These save me a lot of time. SKHRAPLS also avoids writing a capital S in, for example, "Woof!" Said the dog (because the exclamation mark makes Plover think you've started a new sentence).

"R-R": "{^}{#Return}{#Return}{^}{-|}",
"R-RS": "{^}{#Return}{#Return}{^}“{^}{-|}",
Because I can never remember the chord for "new paragraph".

"TK-RB": "{^—}",
TK-RB is the standard stroke for a dash, but here it's remapped to an em dash.

Pedantry
"TEUL": "until",
"TIL": "till",
In the standard dictionary, these are until and 'til, respectively. I have remapped them because 'til is not a thing.
 
Others
"OG": "oh",
"PH-R": "Mr {-|}",
"PH-RS": "Mrs {-|}",
"SED": "said",
"THO": "though",
"WAOEU": "why"
The standard strokes for oh and Mr are bizarre and unmemorable.
marnanel: (Default)
"At [Gramsci's] trial in 1928, the official prosecutor ended his peroration with the famous demand to the judge: "We must stop this brain working for twenty years!" But, although Gramsci was to be dead long before those twenty years were up, released, his health broken, only in time to die under guard in a clinic rather than in prison, yet for as long as his physique held out his jailers did not succeed in stopping his brain from working."

- Hoare and Nowell-Smith, "Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci", 1971
marnanel: (Default)
Lessons for the left

1) Our intel failed.
All media is biased, but we read the stuff biased towards our own viewpoint and ignore all the rest. We need to keep up to date with the media biased against us, for two reasons: a) despite the bias, it might be reporting on something we wouldn't otherwise know; b) we need to know what the right wing are hearing, so we can counter it.

2) Electoral politics is important, but it's only one tiny part.
People matter more than polls. We need to spread love and peace where there is fear and hatred, and that can't be restricted to election season. In particular, whenever the right's policies hurt ordinary people, as they will, talk about it to those people. Hear their stories; tell them ours.

3) It's not a game.
Many people on both sides talk as though we're having a football match between the red team and the blue team. I was once at a count where candidates from the left were saying that the opposition's policies would bring hunger and homelessness. The opposition party just booed. They need to learn that there's more at stake than honour, or even principles: people are going to lose housing, heath, and food because of this vote.

4) Angry white people won this election.
Take hope in the fact that white people will be a minority soon! In the meantime, how can we dissolve and deflect this anger, this prejudice, and this fear?

5) Right-wing voters aren't fools.
They're misled, they've been duped, but they're not fools. If you talk as though they were, they'll just assume the left is a load of smug bastards, and hate us more. Especially if you talk about voters without a degree as if they were voters without a brain.

6) People need stories, not just facts.
The right has sold them a story about scarcity: money is scarce, housing is scarce, jobs are scarce. It's a lie: the scarcity is artificial. But people can't accept facts that don't fit into their stories. So, tell them a new story, a true one, and give them facts to support it.

7) Every revolution brings a counter-revolution.
We've done fairly well in the last few years, and this is the predictable backlash. As I said, it won't last, though while it lasts it'll bring injury and death to the most vulnerable people. Let's make sure it doesn't last long.

8) The left is more than just "not Trump".
And this is our chance to move the window further left. Everyone can make some difference wherever they find themselves. Everyone should be as strong as they can. That includes you.

9) Nobody's ever said "no" to Trump in his life.
More people voted for Clinton than Trump, which means there's a lot of us to say "no" as loudly as we can. Help out the ACLU, because freedoms aren't free. And the midterms are in 2018, so make sure he starts to hear a lot of "no" from Congress then.

10) Four years from now
...in 2020, there will be elections in both the UK and the US. This is where we win back lost ground. Go for it.

Comments welcome. If you liked this list, share it: thank you! (Edit: this list was written by me, Thomas Thurman, since people were asking)
marnanel: (Default)
Countee Cullen (1903-1946) was an African-American poet from New York, who deserves to be better known worldwide. Here he discusses the problem of suffering in God's creation, with respect to human racism.

YET DO I MARVEL
by Countee Cullen

I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind,
And did He stoop to quibble could tell why
The little buried mole continues blind,
Why flesh that mirrors Him must someday die,
Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus
Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare
If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus
To struggle up a never-ending stair.
Inscrutable His ways are, and immune
To catechism by a mind too strewn
With petty cares to slightly understand
What awful brain compels His awful hand.
Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:
To make a poet black, and bid him sing!
marnanel: (Default)
Often, when I don't understand a poem, I've been glad of people explaining it to me. So I'm paying it forward, by breaking down one of mine for you. Here it is:
I WALKED IN DARKNESS

I walked in darkness. Many a lonely mile,
my eyes and footsteps hesitant and blind,
I sought a kindly light I did not find
in land or ocean, asking all the while
if lightless lives are taken in exchange
for light eternal; still the shades of sight
would whisper, "Even I shall see the light!"
I never thought the light would look so strange.
Not in a temple, echoing and awed,
Not in a palace, glistening and grand,
Nor in my home, nor any friendly land.
But distant, dirty, in a shed abroad,
I met a maiden bloody from a birth
and in her arms, the light of all the earth.
This poem began when Kathryn Rose asked me to write something for Epiphany, which is the day Christians remember the wise men visiting Jesus. Epiphany falls on 6th January, in the darkest part of winter, so I wrote a poem about darkness and light. And because the wise men were on a long journey, and because Christians use light as a symbol for Jesus, I wrote a poem about a long walk in the darkness looking for a light. I was remembering the times I've been walking down a dark country road at night-time, always on the look-out for cars and often tripping over bumps and ditches.
I walked in darkness.
The poem starts with a sudden short sentence. This isn't the usual way poems begin, and it catches your attention.
Many a lonely mile,
There's a pattern of sounds here (an "alliteration"), like this: Many a LoneLy MiLe. All these are sounds you can keep on making ("sonorants"), rather than sounds that stop like "t" and "d". So this reminds you of the journey going on and on.
my eyes and footsteps hesitant and blind
If I said your eyes were hesitant, and your footsteps were blind, it wouldn't make a lot of sense. But it does make sense if your eyes are blind and your footsteps are hesitant. The order of the body parts is backwards from the descriptions. This is called a chiasmus. It feels awkward, to remind you of stumbling in the dark.
I sought a kindly light I did not find
in land or ocean,
John Henry Newman wrote a poem called "Lead, Kindly Light" which uses similar symbols to my poem. But in Newman's poem, the "kindly light" is like a lighthouse-- it shines in front of him all the time he's walking in the darkness, showing him the way to go. In my poem, the wise men are walking in complete darkness. They'd love to see a kindly light, but they can't.
asking all the while
if lightless lives are taken in exchange
for light eternal;
In other words, they've lived their whole life in darkness. So they're asking, when they die, do they get to swap it for living in heaven where there's always light?

"Light eternal" is a symbol for heaven. It comes from an old Latin prayer for someone who has died:

Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat ei
("Give her eternal rest, Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon her")

Also, people who are dying often see bright light.

I originally wrote "for light perpetual", but then I realised that some people say "perpetual" with three syllables, like me, but other people say it with four. So I changed it to "eternal".
...still the shades of sight
would whisper, ...
"Shades" means darkness, but it also means ghosts. "Darkness of sight" would mean I can't see, and "ghosts of sight" would mean my sight has died. The double meaning lets me say both at once. Kathryn Rose suggested this.
..."Even I shall see the light!"
People often say that someone has "seen the light" when they start following Jesus. I think it refers to the story about St Paul seeing Jesus as a bright light on the road to Damascus. It left him blinded for a while.
I never thought the light would look so strange.
This poem is a sonnet, and there's a rule that sonnets have a change of subject (a "volta") somewhere around the eighth line. That's where we are now, and I'm finishing this part by giving you a shock. All the lines before this one didn't end with a full stop-- the sentences ran on to the next line. This is called enjambment. But here, we suddenly have a line which is a sentence all on its own. It startles you a bit, like the short sentence in the first line.

When people talk about "seeing the light", they don't explain what the light looks like. In this case, the light I've been looking for all this time turns out to be something I didn't expect. That's what the next part of the poem is about, and this line guides you into it.
Not in a temple, echoing and awed,
Not in a palace, glistening and grand,
You might expect to find Jesus somewhere important, like in a palace or a temple, but that's not where he was. You might remember that two of the wise men's gifts were gold (like you'd find in a palace), and frankincense (a kind of incense that would be used in a temple).
Nor in my home, nor any friendly land.
People often feel safe around people like themselves, and they treat everyone else as outsiders, different and scary. (This is called "othering".) Just as you might have expected to find Jesus in a temple or a palace, you might expect him to be someone safe, someone like you. But in fact Jesus was an outsider: a poor person, a homeless person, part of a nation who were hated, and a refugee.
But distant, dirty, in a shed abroad,
The Bible says Jesus was born in a manger, which is a food trough for animals. You would find a manger in a farmyard, or a shed. "Distant... abroad" picks up on "nor any friendly land", and "dirty, in a shed" picks up on "not in a palace". This is another chiasmus pattern.

Also, there's a play on words here. An old translation of the Bible says that "the love of God is shed abroad"-- in modern English we might say that it was spread everywhere. So we're talking about Jesus as the sign of God's love.
I met a maiden bloody from a birth
The sound pattern here goes M-M, B-B. As we saw earlier, "M" is a sound you can keep making. But "B" is a stop: again, it pulls you up and makes you listen.

The Bible says that Jesus was conceived by a miracle, because Mary was a virgin: she had never had sex with anyone before Jesus was born. "Maiden" usually means a young girl these days, but it once meant a woman who is a virgin.

When a baby is born, there's a lot of blood. (Check YouTube if you want to see videos.) I'm mentioning the blood here to remind you of the "dirty" and "not in a palace" parts earlier: when we see nativity scenes they're always very clean and tidy, and the real thing wasn't clean or tidy at all.

Also, starting the line with "maiden" but ending with "birth" reminds you how strange it is for a virgin to give birth.
and in her arms, the light of all the earth.
One of the first things someone does when they give birth is to take the baby in their arms to breastfeed it. Mary has Jesus in her arms.

When he grew up, Jesus called himself "the light of the world", and he's the light that the wise men have been looking for all this time. (You might know the famous painting of Jesus holding a lantern and knocking at someone's door.)

Kathryn Rose set my poem to beautiful music. Now you've read about the poem, you should go and listen to it!


marnanel: (Default)
They're putting me on methoxsalen next week for psoriasis. Today I went shopping for wraparound dark glasses and gloves you can work a phone with-- because sunshine will seriously burn me, and give me cataracts. "The day star! It burns!!"
marnanel: (Default)
One fine dark night with a fine dark sky
And fine-sliced moon so bright,
A Cat leapt forth with a fine black coat
And paws of moonlit white;
If I should ask you to say her name
I'm sure you'd tell me that
She's Yantantessera,
Tessera, Tessera,
Tessera Tessera, Cat.

She had no humans, she had no home,
She had no meals to eat,
But soon, by means of a friendly purr,
Adopted half a street,
Where twenty humans would serve her food:
They all had time to chat
With Yantantessera,
Tessera, Tessera,
Tessera Tessera, Cat.

The Cats' Home heard, and they swore to find
The Cat a Home, and thus
She started work as a Rescue Cat
Who came to rescue us.
And since that day, we belong to her;
We're proud to share a flat
With Yantantessera,
Tessera, Tessera,
Tessera Tessera, Cat!


marnanel: (Default)
[I commented this in a discussion about the "birds and the bees" talk. I think it's worth posting separately.] Please, talk about masturbation too, and don't wait until puberty. Here's a (very personal) story I've never told in full before. I discovered masturbation when I was about ten, before I started puberty. Nobody had talked about it, so I didn't know it was normal; I didn't even know there was a word for it. So I worried. About a year later I started puberty and of course I became able to ejaculate. And again, nobody had talked about that. They'd mentioned wet dreams, but never this. So I didn't know it was normal, and I worried. A few months later, I got what I now think was some kind of fungal skin infection. The skin where my pubic hair would soon be growing was alternately red and painful, or dry, cracked, and itchy. For all I knew, this was another weird side-effect of masturbation, like ejaculation. And since nobody had talked about the other stuff, I wasn't comfortable with asking anyone about it. So I put up with the discomfort for months. Even after my pubic hair grew, the rash was still visible and I remember deflecting questions in the changing-rooms after games lessons about whether it was a scar from an operation. All that worry and discomfort could have been avoided. Please, remember to talk about it.
marnanel: (Default)
fan art: Dream of the Endless meets Professor Elemental
marnanel: (Default)

Question for [dD]eaf folk reading (forwarding is encouraged):

I’m working on a proposal to add the standard deaf/HoH symbol to Unicode. I’m looking particularly for examples of its use in running text as a character, as in this mocked-up text:

Can you help me find any? (All contributions used will be acknowledged in the submitted change request, of course.)

marnanel: (Default)

"If audio of your private convo leaked, what would it say?"

things I have said in private conversations recently:

  • "You know elephants? I read that they sing. I wonder what they sing about. Next time I meet one I'll play it music. Elephants are cool."
  • "So yeah, when I go to planning meetings they talk about the low-hanging fruit, the easy stuff, but it wouldn't be easy if I was a giraffe."
  • "Oh hey, there's a town called Makasar in Turkey. If I took an antimacassar there, they would both vanish. You're probably not allowed to."
  • "What if I put helium balloons in the wheelie bin? I think it would be a nice surprise for the dustmen when they opened the lid."
  • "And actually I was going to find a bin saying LITTER on it in town, and fill it with glitter, and add a G in front, but then I didn't."
  • "People have fish tanks but they never have duck tanks, why not?"
  • "It would be awesome to have a pet elk. They have beautiful antlers. I think you would need a litter tray the size of the kitchen."

Self-doubt

Oct. 8th, 2016 02:57 pm
marnanel: (Default)
New video, by me: In a 1973 BBC interview, Sir John Betjeman said, "I never can believe that I'm any good at all." He was poet laureate of the UK at the time.

marnanel: (Default)
MINIVER CHEEVY
by Edwin Arlington Robinson

Miniver Cheevy, child of scorn,
Grew lean while he assailed the seasons;
He wept that he was ever born,
And he had reasons.

Miniver loved the days of old
When swords were bright and steeds were prancing;
The vision of a warrior bold
Would set him dancing.

Miniver sighed for what was not,
And dreamed, and rested from his labors;
He dreamed of Thebes and Camelot,
And Priam’s neighbors.

Miniver mourned the ripe renown
That made so many a name so fragrant;
He mourned Romance, now on the town,
And Art, a vagrant.

Miniver loved the Medici,
Albeit he had never seen one;
He would have sinned incessantly
Could he have been one.

Miniver cursed the commonplace
And eyed a khaki suit with loathing;
He missed the mediæval grace
Of iron clothing.

Miniver scorned the gold he sought,
But sore annoyed was he without it;
Miniver thought, and thought, and thought,
And thought about it.

Miniver Cheevy, born too late,
Scratched his head and kept on thinking;
Miniver coughed, and called it fate,
And kept on drinking.
marnanel: (Default)
[suicide mention]

In counselling today we started going over the timeline of my life I drew up. We only got up to the start of sixth form, and about my early suicidal ideation, and how I set myself free by giving up having ambitions. We'll carry on next time, which means we're five sessions in and still haven't finished talking about why I'm there!
marnanel: (Default)
In a waiting room. Marn is wandering around listening to music.

Woman in top hat: (something)
Marn (removes headphones) Sorry?
W: I said, hi!
M: Oh! Hi. Awesome hat, by the way.
W: Alcoholic.
M: Your hat is alcoholic?
W: No, me. I've been in jail. I have DTs.
M: Oh, I'm sorry.
W: Don't be. It's a self-inflicted injury.
M: (randomly) Well, what isn't, in the end?
(W smiles and wanders off while M is still considering whether all injuries are self-inflicted by virtue of the will to live)

UPDATE: W returned and started telling me her life story. She says I'm goodlooking and that she'd go out with me. She also showed me several of her tattoos. On enquiring as to whether I'm unattached, she looked crestfallen, and then said that if that ever changes I should contact her. She appears to be entirely serious. During part of the story about school bullying she abruptly got up and went outside to smoke, leaving me to look after her bag. When I had to leave, she hadn't returned, and I couldn't find her outside, so I handed in the bag at reception. Reception said yes, they knew her quite well.
marnanel: (Default)
[teeth, dentistry, violence]

I have a wonderfully chatty dentist. Recently we have discussed:
1) the problems of being a dentist in Pakistan. Apparently some people's first resort for toothache is an amateur tooth puller. If you're his first patient of the day, you have to wait until the second patient turns up. Then the second patient holds the first patient down, while the tooth puller attaches string to your tooth and pulls very hard. When most of the tooth is removed, the first patient gets up and punches the second patient for holding him down. After all this, the dentist has to fix all the damage.

2) the political situation in Burma, and why the news here doesn't report it much, and how come westerners think Buddhists are never politically violent.

3) why Camden, New Jersey is such a terrifying place.

"busy"

Sep. 5th, 2016 12:08 pm
marnanel: (Default)
KIT: And how are things with you?
PRACTICE NURSE: Oh, the usual. Busy, busy, busy. Though I don't mind busy-- it's when things are over-busy, when I'm running late...
KIT: Busy good, stressed bad?
PN: Right.
MARN: It's interesting how the sense has shifted. If you look at how Spenser uses it in the "Fairie Queene", he's using it in your sense of "over-busy". Which is odd, because words usually become more negative over time...
KIT: Marn? If we stay here talking about etymology, she'll be running late and then she'll get stressed.
MARN: Oh yeah. Sorry.
marnanel: (Default)
filk: "I Don't Like Mondays" by the Boomtown Rats.

now the silicon chip inside your ship
gets switched to overload
and nobody's gonna leave the Earth today
you're gonna make the place explode
and your latest verse is a Vogon curse
with a pain that you can't resolve
you can see no reasons
cos there are no reasons
what reason do you need to evolve?

Tell me why. I don't like Thursdays
Tell me why. I don't like Thursdays
Tell me why. I don't like Thursdays
I want to shoot the planet down.

well it's not too far to the local star
where the plans were on display
so your sympathy for their apathy
just blows them all away
it's okay with you
cos you've just gone through
a painful love affair
you can see no reason
cos there is no reason
what reason do you need to care?

Tell me why. I don't like Thursdays
Tell me why. I don't like Thursdays
Tell me why. I don't like Thursdays
I want to shoot the planet down.

six billion folk go up in smoke
and a trillion angry mice.
you were bought and bribed
it was all prescribed
by the man who paid your price:
there's a secret link
to a scheming shrink
but Halfrunt's just this guy
who has every reason
to destroy the reason--
what reason do you need to die?

Tell me why. I don't like Thursdays
Tell me why. I don't like Thursdays
Tell me why. I don't like Thursdays
I want to shoot the planet down.

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