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)
trans tech folk, other trans folk, other tech folk:

I'm planning to submit an erratum to Unicode. U+26A5, U+26A6, and U+26A7 all have the informative alias "transgendered sexuality".

code chart
(from http://www.unicode.org/charts/PDF/U2600.pdf. Original encoding proposal: http://www.unicode.org/L2/L2003/03364-n2663-gender-rev.pdf)

I think the first word should be "transgender", and the second word should be something other than "sexuality", but I'm not sure what.

The questions I have are:
1) do you think asking for this change is sensible?
2) what do you think the informative alias "transgendered sexuality" should be changed to?
3) can you think of good sources I can cite when I'm explaining why the change should be made?

If you saw this on Facebook or Twitter or wherever, feel free to answer there and I'll copy the answer here onto Dreamwidth/LJ.

love and hugs.
marnanel: (Default)
TW child abuse, sexual assault

so, this is what i have to say about Josh Duggar.
Q: what's it called when you hush up your own children being raped to preserve your reputation?
A: it's called Omelas. and if you, like Mike Huckabee, care nothing about walking away from Omelas, i don't want to know you. that's all.
marnanel: (Default)
Three people I met today:

1) His granddaughter was a chorister at the cathedral, and she has to work very hard at Chetham's both on her schoolwork and on practicing. He'd done his national service in the army as a young man. It was a terrible two years, being ordered around by people who weren't fit to lick your boots. But he was glad of it, because he'd learned to play the system, and this knowledge comes in useful anywhere. If you were "a follower" you'd probably have got far more bored than he did. The other good thing about it was that having to learn discipline meant you got self-discipline thrown in, and that had been really useful for organising himself after he was demobbed.

2) She was in charge of all the cathedral volunteers: there were about seventy of them of all faiths and none. She herself was a Roman Catholic, which she said made very little difference in an Anglican cathedral. When she was a young girl living in Ireland, her grandfather was asked to send the kids to the local Church of Ireland school by the headmaster. The school's intake was too low to be sustainable that year otherwise. Her grandfather agreed. Soon he saw the RC priest walking down his front path to talk to him. He wouldn't go out, but he told someone to tell the priest that he was doing what was best for the community.

3) He was in the Arndale Centre, begging via psych manipulation techniques. If I hadn't been trying to get to the loo, I'd have had more fun with this.

He, walking up: "So, do YOU speak English?"
Me: "Yeeeessss...?"
He: "Ah, I like the way you say yeeesss. My name's Daniel. What's yours?" (puts out hand; I shake it automatically; he now has eye contact. He smiles warmly. I grow increasingly suspicious.)
Me: "I'm Thomas."
He: "Well, Thomas, I was..."
Me: "Look, what's this about?"
He: "I was just wondering whether you could spare me some money for a coffee."

I gave him £1 (which was more than I could really afford) for a good try, and for teaching me a beautiful opening line. "So, do YOU speak English?" breaks the ice, and indicates he's been trying to talk to a bunch of people so he's frustrated and you'll want to help him, and makes you want to do better than all the people so far. [Edit: It also has an unpleasant racist dogwhistle side that I'd missed entirely-- thanks to Abigail for pointing it out.]
marnanel: (Default)
Some politics:

There has been talk of repealing the Human Rights Act recently. This is the legislation which makes the European Declaration of Human Rights binding on the UK. The EDHR is nothing to do with the European Union-- it was created after WWII as a check on states becoming totalitarian in the future. So repealing it worries me.

I keep hearing people say, "How can we let the Human Rights Act apply to murderers? What about the human rights of the people they killed?" But if the Human Rights Act applied only to "nice" people, it wouldn't be necessary. It exists to provide a baseline for absolutely everyone, no matter how much the state or the public dislike them.

Amnesty is getting a petition together against the repeal of the Act. I've signed it, and if this worries you as much as it worries me, please sign it too. You can find it at http://keeptheact.uk/ .

Anyone reading this post to the end deserves a cup of coffee, so I've put some on.

marnanel: (Default)
"As Rick Astley says, never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down. And Joshua is told that God will never leave nor forsake him..."

"As Haddaway says, what is love? Baby don't hurt me no more. But St John answers that perfect love casts out fear..."

"As A-Ha say, take on me, take me on. And likewise in today's reading we see Elijah taking on the priests of Baal..."

"As Sting says, I hope that someone gets my message in a bottle. But the letters of Paul were written to specific situations..."

"As Wham say, wake me up before you go-go. In Ephesians 5, Paul also exhorts sleepers to wake so Christ can shine on them..."

"As Chumbawamba say, I get knocked down, but I get up again. So also, our Lord's resurrection on that first Easter morning..."
marnanel: (Default)
Today someone made a reference I didn't get to something called a chockoboo (I think). I looked confused, and they said, "Have you heard of Final Fantasy?" "Yes," I said, "but I'm not sure what it is. A film, maybe, or a computer game?" There followed a great deal of explanation which I have now forgotten because I have no context to attach it to, except that FF is a large series of complicated computer games and that chockoboos are important in some of them. I think they must have explained what a chockoboo actually *is*, but if they did I forgot it.

The main takeaway, however, was an alarming realisation that I do this too, to almost everyone I meet.
marnanel: (Default)
I have an accessibility idea. I shall probably do it, unless it turns out to be fundamentally flawed. Your thoughts are appreciated!

1) A site that takes an uploaded JPEG, and a string, and returns the JPEG with the EXIF comment field set to that string.

2) Browser extensions for Firefox and Chrome which set the alt property of each JPEG on a page to its comment field, if it has one.

This means you can describe an image before you post it, and that description travels with the image. Thoughts?
marnanel: (Default)
A while back a friend said something about risk aversion, and I asked them about it.

There's a setup where you get given two choices. One choice means you'll definitely get £"x". The other means you'll have a "y"% choice of getting £"z", and if you don't you'll get nothing.

This showed me I am very risk-averse. If you ask me to choose between a definite £5 and a 25% chance of £100, I'm still going to choose the £5 because that's my lunch, dammit. For most amounts of money I won't take the bet unless the odds are better than evens. I suppose everyone has a set of heuristics like that, and this is mine.

There have been times when I've worked around these heuristics on purpose-- you may remember the business about Växjö. But that was merely a workaround; it didn't change the heuristics.

I was thinking yesterday that this explains a lot about why I usually don't enter poetry competitions or submit work to journals: the cost of entry is rarely worth the chance of payoff. "Cost of entry" here might include money, but always includes the manual and mental work needed to prepare and submit, the anxiety about not getting it right, and (if simultaneous submissions aren't allowed) losing the ability to use a particular poem for the next four months. And the payoff is small, and the chance of getting it isn't great. So mostly I don't bother.

See also: applying for jobs, asking people on dates, etc, etc.

RPGs

Mar. 4th, 2015 07:30 pm
marnanel: (Default)
TW suicide

I posted recently about why I had to give up HabitRPG-- a combination of playing on my anxiety, guilt trips, not being able to think of appropriate rewards, and so on. I said at the time that this is a problem I have with games in general. But Debbie mentioned a computer RPG earlier and it made me think about why Habit is one of the RPGs in particular I have great problems with.

I don't mind AD&D-type things where you're a collaborative part of a team and you can fade into the background as necessary-- it's not much different from roleplay irl. And I don't mind single-player games where they're a large directed puzzle to solve-- it's not far different from a crossword. But competitive roleplaying makes me want to cause my character's suicide early on to save trouble. Even worse are large open-ended games with no particular goal, the sort of thing where you can say, "Oh, lovely! A whole new universe for me to fail in!"

I think if Elite were released today I probably wouldn't enjoy it much.
marnanel: (Default)
In answer to someone complaining about people complaining about Valentine's ( http://catvalente.livejournal.com/434149.html?page=3 ):

I don't *want* to take happiness away from anyone who's happy on Valentine's day-- why would I want to take happiness away from other people? Good luck to them! But *I* hate Valentine's day because it reminds me of the years and years of Valentine's days filled with loneliness and despair, and if I allow myself to think about it, I'll fall apart. I suppose "triggering" is the word I'm looking for. Maybe one day I'll get over that, and I really don't like being this bitter, but for now I hate Valentine's day because of what it does to me. Every. Single. Year.
marnanel: (Default)
One summer, when I was a small child, I found a book on astronomy. I read it eagerly, and talked about the stars to everyone I met. But it was summer, and so my bedtime was before dusk, and stargazing was impossible.

So my father offered to let me stay up one night to see the stars. He took me to the tall window on the stairs, and drew back the curtain, and I saw the stars scattered across the dark blue of the sky, and the Milky Way shining.

And it was terrifying. It seemed I was looking not just into unimaginable distances, but at something that should not be seen, something almost indecent for human eyes to see-- like seeing the sky goddess all naked for one moment before looking upon her beauty strikes you dead.

I fled, screaming.

marnanel: (Default)
After a discussion at the party meeting last night I went and looked up the sense development of the word "cadre".

1. In socialist use it means a person who has learned to take on any work necessary (within a political team), so that the loss of any one member damages the team less.
2. And this comes from an earlier use of the word to mean a whole team of socialists-- a chapter, a cell group.
3. And that comes from an earlier use of the word to mean the structure used to organise an army.
4. And that comes from the French word for a frame.
5. And that comes from the Latin "quadrum", a thing with four sides.

So a square thing has become a well-rounded individual.

Films

Feb. 4th, 2015 10:31 am
marnanel: (Default)

...at least, the ones I can find right now. There are more somewhere. Listing them here in case any local friends want to watch them with us.

  • Amélie (Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain) -- a Parisian manic pixie dream girl goes around trying to right injustice but makes a mess of it; in French, subtitled
  • Alice in Wonderland (the Tim Burton film) -- an attempt at a sequel to the original story; I forget whether it's any good
  • The Lavender Hill Mob -- some respectable bank clerks are running a gold-smuggling operation; Ealing comedy; b&w
  • Woolly and Tig -- a small child is afraid of things, and her cuddly spider explains how to reframe them; a set of five-minute episodes; I love this particularly because reframing is a useful skill in dealing with fear and anxiety for grownups too
  • The Fall -- in a 1920s hospital a grown-up patient tells a four-year-old patient a story, as a ruse to get her to steal sleeping tablets for him; we see the story unfold from her point of view; I love this film
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas -- more Tim Burton
  • The Icicle Thief (Ladri di saponette) -- a TV station shows a depressing film about the Depression; the director is angry that they've cut it for advert breaks; the director and people from the adverts end up in the film, causing weird culture shock; in Italian, subtitled
  • The Dark Crystal -- Jim Henson film which apparently everyone has seen but me
  • Kinsey -- biopic of Alfred Kinsey, who researched sex and sexuality through the novel idea of actually asking people what they got up to
  • Grease -- I doubt I need to tell you more
marnanel: (Default)

When I was at school, the county would often send psychologists to ask me things. Once, when I was about thirteen, I had to fill in a sort of questionnaire. It had statements with tickyboxes, like

I would like to be an astronaut ☐
I would like to be stronger ☐

The paper said at the top that it was the version of the test for boys, and the last question of all said:

I would like to be a girl ☐

And I had a panicky moment considering that if I told the truth there it would involve a lot more psychologists and probably further humiliation in front of my classmates, so with some level of guilt for lying I left the box unticked.

marnanel: (Default)
People often post images of text on Twitter, either to get around the 140-character limit or because they're posting a screenshot from another site. This is a problem for people who use screen readers and people who have images turned off.

I propose to create a web service which will allow people to associate images with URLs of pic.twitter.com/XYZ with transcriptions. For example, you could associate http://pic.twitter.com/2EaLCXaszP with the text "The Bishop of Dibley".

This would then be available on the Twitter site via a Javascript snippet in the browser.

Byte-for-byte identical images would automatically share a transcription, detected by digest. There could be a tineye-style similarity test, but that would make a simple idea much more complicated.

Users would log in with their Twitter account details, via OAuth. All their transcriptions would have their account name attached.

The biggest problem is of people maliciously adding incorrect transcriptions. I invite suggestions.

What do you think?
marnanel: (Default)
[TW: injury, etc]

The "seven things most people don't know about me" meme. All these are about my childhood, because I think people probably know enough about what I've done as an adult.

1) As a toddler, I almost fell off the side of a container ship in dry dock. I was climbing the steps up to the ship, with my father holding my hand, and I managed to slip. Apparently I swung out over the abyss, with my father clinging desperately to my hand, and he remembers how his palms began to sweat with fear and he thought he'd lose me. I have no conscious memory of this, but it may explain my terror of heights.

2) Years later, my dad was in hospital, and someone bought me a newspaper-making kit to keep me occupied. There were various pieces of paper to cut out with headlines and so on. They gave you a few mastheads saying things like "The Chronicle" and "The Daily News", but I decided to call my paper The Thurman Times, and it lasted for about ten years in one form or another as a family magazine.

3) At the age of about six I made up a game where our house was a town and all the rooms were streets. This involved naming every room with a street name. For some strange reason everyone still remembers all these room names, especially my own room which is universally known as Moon Drive.

4) I also used to have the habit, which lasted well into my teens of drawing a stylised steamboat in the top right corner of my work. (I think the boat motif came from reading Swallows and Amazons, though of course those were sailboats.) The reference to Jacob's symbol in BCL is partly based on this. Also, those who have the second edition of Not Ordinarily Borrowable (with the dragon on the cover) may notice the same steamboat logo at the top left of the cover.

5) Various things were a terror to me at one time or another. In particular, when I was ten and my grandmother died she left us a framed print of a famous painting, and my parents hung it on the landing outside my room. I was already afraid of the dark, and the painting was a new terror: I would run as fast as I could into my room so I wouldn't see it, and shut my eyes when I opened the door. The worst of it was that I wasn't allowed to sleep with the light on, but there was a light at the other end of the landing, so to avoid the darkness I had to sleep with my door as wide open as possible, and lying there in bed I could see the painting's eyes through the crack between the door and the frame. Horrifying.

6) When I was five I went out into the garden to help build a path. All my life I've preferred to be barefoot,My mother held my hand and and I was that day as well. But it's never wise to carry housebricks about when you're barefoot, especially if you're five and might drop them on your toe. I did. Even worse than the pain was the horrendous hour at the doctor's where they cut open my toe under local anaesthetic in order to "get the poison out", as they told me. The anaesthetic presumably didn't work too well, because I could feel it, and my God it hurt. I squeezed my mother's hand as tightly as I could and tried not to cry out.

7) For about a month, when I was seven-ish, I had three pet balloons. I'd brought them home from a party or something, and I drew faces on them and gave them names. And I went everywhere with them, and I used to read them bedtime stories. I remember my parents were slightly concerned.

rm -rf /

Jan. 16th, 2015 09:44 am
marnanel: (Default)
I said elsewhere that "rm -rf /" is special-cased to fail under Linux, and some people asked me about it. FTR here's my answer:

I'd thought rm was a bash builtin, but it isn't. The rm in GNU coreutils, however, does check for the root directory as of 2003-11-09 (by inode number, not by name); the warning message is "it is dangerous to operate recursively on /". You can override this using "--no-preserve-root", though I don't know why you'd want to.
marnanel: (Default)
Gentle Readers
a newsletter made for sharing
volume 3, number 1
5th January 2015: happy new year
What I’ve been up to

Working on getting better. They've put me on a new medication, lamotrigine, and they're ramping me up slowly at 25mg a fortnight. It's not at the full dose yet, but I think it's helping already.

The other day I went to visit some friends, and they had a harp! So of course I asked to play it. Even though I'd never played before, after about two hours it was sounding rather tuneful. I think I'll save up for one and learn to play it properly.
https://gentlereaders.uk/pics/harp
Photo thanks to Kit.

A poem of mine

Here's a poem about ringing in the new year. It's the earliest sonnet of mine I think is any good: I wrote it when I was about 18.

SONG OF NEW YEAR'S EVE (T3)

Look to your Lord who gives you life.
This year must end as all the years.
You live here in the vale of tears.
This year brought toil, the next year strife.
For too, too soon we break our stay.
The end of things may be a birth.
The clouds will fade and take the earth.
Make fast your joy on New Year's Day.
When dies a friend we weep and mourn.
When babes are born we drink with cheer.
But no man mourns when dies the year.
When dies the age, may you be born.
Your death, your birth, are close at hand.
In him we trust. In him we stand.

A picture



https://gentlereaders.uk/pics/wise-cow

Caption: two wise men and a cow visit Mary.
First wise man: I bring gold!
Second wise man: I bring frankincense!
Cow: MYRRRH


Something wonderful

A group called Africa2Moon announced today that it's organising an Africa-wide effort to go to the moon. Many people have objected that Africa has many problems which need work and money, and that a moon shot will only distract from more urgent priorities. The organisation's answer was rather interesting: in a way, the moon landing itself is a sort of McGuffin. The real story is about getting there: as a side effect of training up the scientists and the engineers, and building the systems needed, it should reduce the brain drain to the west, and improve life across the continent as a side-effect-- not unlike the effects of the US space programme a generation earlier.

And this set me thinking about parallels: we all live in communities that need investments of time and effort and money, from food banks to counsellors. When and how is it possible to create something within these communities, something that everyone can collaborate on and be inspired by?

Something from someone else

THE CLOTHS OF HEAVEN
by W B Yeats

Had I the heaven's embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light;
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams.

Colophon

Gentle Readers is published on Mondays and Thursdays, and I want you to share it. The archives are at https://gentlereaders.uk, and so is a form to get on the mailing list. If you have anything to say or reply, or you want to be added or removed from the mailing list, I’m at thomas@thurman.org.uk and I’d love to hear from you. The newsletter is reader-supported; please pledge something if you can afford to, and please don't if you can't. ISSN 2057-052X. Love and peace to you all.

islands

Jan. 5th, 2015 11:02 pm
marnanel: (Default)
Odd trivia question: consider the archipelago immediately northwest of France. The two largest islands by population are Great Britain and Ireland. What's the third?

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Monument

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