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)
the animation of little!me, for the start of the nonbinary song. rough draft!

dentist

Jul. 12th, 2016 06:10 pm
marnanel: (Default)
[dentist]
My dental appointment is on Friday, but I went in for an emergency appointment today because of the pain. The dentist said I did the right thing, and the whole of that tooth had to come out. He took an x-ray and I had to hold the plastic bit in place with my tongue-- he said I have a strong tongue. I'm so glad I can suppress my gag reflex! [Edit: my goodness that sounds suggestive] Anyway, he said it was the most complicated extraction he'd had to do since he started working there.
marnanel: (Default)
While looking through back issues of the Times for etymological citations, I discovered a rather strange classified ad for 23rd May 1786:


"This day is published, price 1/6, a letter to John Hunter Esq., FRS, [...] respecting his treatise on the venereal disease; shewing him to be highly erroneous in his observation of impotence, and more particularly pointing out the absurdity and immorality of his doctrine in favour of onanism or masturbation. By Duncan Gordon, MD."
 
Of course, I went to find out what Dr Hunter had said. Earlier that year, he had published a book about venereal disease, which made some shocking claims: masturbation is generally harmless, and the worst thing you can do is worry about it.

"OF IMPOTENCE: This complaint is by many laid to the charge of Onanism at an early age; but how far this is just, it will in many cases be difficult to determine; for upon a strict review of this subject, it appears to me to be by far too rare to originate from a practice so general.

How far the attributing to this practice such a consequence, is of public utility, I am doubtful, particularly as it is followed most commonly at an age when consequences are not sufficiently attended to, even in things less gratifying to the senses; but this I can say with certainty, that many of those who are affected with the complaints in question are miserable from this idea and it is some consolation for them to know that it is possible it may arise from other causes.

I am clear in my own mind that the books on this subject have done more harm than good. I think I may affirm that this act in itself does less harm to the constitution in general than the natural. That the natural with common women, or such as we are indifferent about, does less harm to the constitution than where it is not so selfish, and where the affections for the woman are also concerned.

Where it is only a constitutional act it is simple, and only one action takes place; but where the mind becomes interested, it is worked up to a degree of enthusiasm, increasing the sensibility of the body and disposition for action; and when the complete action takes place it is with proportional violence; and in proportion to the violence is the degree of debility produced, or injury done to the constitution. In the cases of this kind that have come under my care, although the persons themselves have been very ready to suppose that the disease arose from the cause here alluded to; yet they did not appear to have given more into the practice than common; and in particular, the worst case I have ever seen was where but very little of this practice had ever been used, much less less than in common among boys or lads. The only true objection to this selfish enjoyment is the probability of its being repeated too frequently."

Hardly surprising that it raised a furore!

marnanel: (Default)
“Do you mean to say that you’re going to sit quietly down and paint that ox while it’s destroying my morning-room?” Let’s start the new series of Gentle Readers with a story in which absurdity is tamed by embracing it.

Full text: https://gentlereaders.uk/the-stalled-ox

marnanel: (Default)

I was reading this two days ago. It needs saying today.

“Men use up their lives in heart-breaking political struggles… not in order to establish some central-heated, air-conditioned, strip-lighted Paradise, but because they want a world in which human beings love one another instead of swindling and murdering one another.” - George Orwell, 1943.
marnanel: (Default)

A story I was told at St Mark’s, a “high” Anglican church:

St Mark’s has a rather large contingent of de jure Roman Catholics in its congregation, who argued with the local parish priest or the Vatican and just decamped down the road. Many times this only gets discovered when they die and ask for their ashes to be interred in St Mark’s columbarium, whereupon the local RC priest turns up and objects.

So after this had happened a few times, they agreed that a small part of the columbarium would be dedicated as a RC burial place. And so that God wouldn’t get confused, they put a cardboard divider between them.

The person telling me this story concluded, “So apparently cardboard can block the Holy Spirit, just like alpha particles… wait. Don’t mitres have cardboard inside to keep the shape? I think we’ve discovered something here…”

marnanel: (Default)

If I had to choose either Strasbourg or Westminster to run this country, I'd choose Strasbourg. It has a better separation of powers. Someone asked what I mean by that, so I'll explain more fully.

A bit of civics background-- sorry if you know this already: There are three branches to every government: the legislature which makes laws, the executive which implements those laws, and the judiciary which deals with people who break them. In a carefully-designed system such as the American federal government, the three branches act as checks on one another's power. (In the US, executive=President, legislature=Congress, judiciary=federal courts.) This means that it's much more difficult for one or two people to fuck up the system.

But in the UK and the EU we don't have a complete separation of powers. In particular in the EU we have the executive (the Commission) having the sole power to propose bills to the legislature (the Parliament). This is undemocratic, and it's a problem. The legislature can veto bills, so it acts as a check on the power of the executive. But it cannot act alone.

In the UK, however, the problem is even worse. In our case executive=Downing Street, legislature=Parliament, judiciary=courts. Parliament was originally a check on the power of the King (when the King was the executive). But for the last few centuries, the Crown's ministers have effectively been the executive, and these ministers are always drawn from Parliament. A PM must necessarily almost always be able to order Parliament to do anything they wish, because they must belong to the majority party in the Commons, and MPs almost always vote as the whips tell them to.

So if for example we happened to get someone as PM who was determined to starve the poor and destroy the NHS, there's nobody at all who can stand up to him. In the US or in France it's routine for the legislature to say no to the executive (and vice versa). But it's near-impossible in the UK.

Except...

...there is, at present, one organisation which can say no to the PM.

That organisation is the EU.

That is why I'm voting Remain.

 

marnanel: (Default)
I was once in a psychiatrist's waiting room and they had a coffee machine with enough buttons to belong to Captain Picard. You know the sort of thing-- buttons for white coffee, black coffee, cappucino, hot chocolate, and so on and on. But one of them was unlabelled, and THAT was the one I wanted.

It took a while to brew me a cup. When it had cooled, I took a sip. The stuff was utterly foul-- like a sort of hot instant coffee made with lemons and ammonia. I can still taste it in memory.

Just then, the psychiatrist arrived, and asked what I was grimacing about. I explained the story and showed him the button. "Right," he said. "That's the self-cleaning function."

pig blood

May. 28th, 2016 03:19 pm
marnanel: (Default)
[blood, guns, Islamophobia]

February 2016: Trump tells (untrue) story about General Pershing stopping terrorism by shooting Muslims with bullets dipped in pig blood. http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2016/feb/23/donald-trump/donald-trump-cites-dubious-legend-about-gen-pershi/

May 2016: Texans are dipping their bullets in pig blood. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/texas-men-train-to-shoot-muslims-and-dip-bullets-in-pig-blood-so-victims-go-straight-to-hell-a7053086.html
marnanel: (Default)
When John Denver says "you fill up my senses like a night in the forest", is that supposed to be a compliment? Because I don't get it.

Forest floors are full of stones and roots, and dead needles if it's a pine forest, and you can't get comfortable. There are mosquitos hanging around, as well as other nasties that want to bite you. It pours with rain, and then the trees carry on dripping on you for hours.

It gets really really dark, with weird rustling noises, which is terrifying if you can't find your way out of the forest. And if you CAN find your way out of the forest, why the hell are you still in the forest?

I'd assume forests are different where John Denver comes from, except I know they're even worse because there are venomous snakes and poison ivy.

So if someone said I filled up their senses like a night in the forest, I'd think they meant I look pretty good from a distance, but when you get up close you'll wish you hadn't. IDK, maybe that's what John Denver meant too.

koans

May. 16th, 2016 09:19 pm
marnanel: (Default)
The koan thing has always messed with my head. I once had a coworker who converted to Buddhism and got very excited about koans, and for the first few months we had conversations like this:

Me: I can't decide how best to fake up the credit card handling on the staging server. Any thoughts?
Him: Does a man who owns a forest buy his own axe?
Me: I don't know.
Me: ....
Him: ....
Me: Hey, I have a friend who owns some woodland. I could phone him and ask?

It might not have been that particular sentence, I forget now, but I could never make anything of things he said like that. He stopped doing it after a while.

Someone explained the "one hand clapping" one to me once so I get that.
marnanel: (Default)
#voted.
Outside:
"Hello, I'm the Ukip candidate."
"Not at all my thing, I'm afraid."
"Oh, don't worry, I'm on the liberal wing of Ukip."
"The...?"
"Everyone says we're about racism! It's not about racism! It's about space! Like, I proposed at national conference to send a cruise ship to the Med to pick up the migrants and check their papers. Better than letting them drown!"
"Well, yes, better than letting them drown."
"But let me tell about healthcare tourism! People from all over the world come here and get treated free."
"It's not that common for..."
"Pshaw! Have you been to Salford Royal recently?"
"Then why did I need to get health insurance when I lived in the US and came back to the UK?"
"That's what I mean! Foreigners shoulf have health insurance!"
"We have to go now."
"Thanks for talking to me! So many people don't."
marnanel: (Default)
[Alexander the Great is questioning some Indian philosophers, and has threatened to execute anyone who gives a wrong answer]

• The first one... being asked which, in his opinion, were more numerous, the living or the dead, said that the living were, since the dead no longer existed.
• The second, being asked whether the earth or the sea produced larger animals, said the earth did, since the sea was but a part of the earth.
• The third, being asked what animal was the most cunning, said: "That which up to this time man has not discovered."
• The fourth, when asked why he had induced Sabbas to revolt, replied: "Because I wished him either to live nobly or to die nobly."
• The fifth, being asked which, in his opinion, was older, day or night, replied: "Day, by one day"; and he added, upon the king expressing amazement, that hard questions must have hard answers.
• Passing on, then, to the sixth, Alexander asked how a man could be most loved; "If," said the philosopher, "he is most powerful, and yet does not inspire fear."
• Of the three remaining, he who was asked how one might become a god instead of man, replied: "By doing something which a man cannot do";
• the one who was asked which was the stronger, life or death, answered: "Life, since it supports so many ills."
• and the last, asked how long it were well for a man to live, answered: "Until he does not regard death as better than life."

-- Plutarch, "Lives", late 1st century
marnanel: (Default)
[death]
I SHALL COME BACK
by Dorothy Parker
 
I shall come back without fanfaronade
of wailing wind and graveyard panoply;
but, trembling, slip from cool Eternity —
a mild and most bewildered little shade.
I shall not make sepulchral midnight raid,
but softly come where I had longed to be
in April twilight's unsung melody,
and I, not you, shall be the one afraid.
Strange, that from lovely dreamings of the dead
I shall come back to you, who hurt me most.
You may not feel my hand upon your head,
I'll be so new and inexpert a ghost.
Perhaps you will not know that I am near —
and that will break my ghostly heart, my dear.
 
http://i.imgur.com/dSIcrykl.jpg
 

marnanel: (Default)
REVEALED: Corbyn's links to apple thieves

REVEALED: Corbyn's links to apple thieves
• Caused original sin
• Family held apple shares
• Responsible for fall

Jeremy Corbyn is descended from notorious apple thieves Adam and Eve, the Telegraph can reveal.

Speaking today on condition of anonymity, a senior Labour backstabberbencher. told of his shock at the hypocrisy.

“Adam dared to question the ways of God. Clearly that was only the start, since Corbyn has now dared to question the Prime Minister's tax returns.

“And don't forget, as soon as she ate the apple, Eve learned that she was naked, and hid herself. In all the years Corbyn has been a member of Parliament, I have never seen him naked. What does he have to hide?”

At press time, God was unavailable for comment. (cont. Genesis 94)
marnanel: (Default)
In Diana Wynne Jones's book "The Ogre Downstairs", there's a scene where some menacing bikers grow out of the ground like plants. Their speech is colloquial English, but written in Greek script. Some people have asked for a transcription, so here it is. I've avoided trying to represent their accent in the English text, so I've put "them" for "'em" and so on. The typesetters for some editions of the book seem not to have understood the joke; in my copy (HarperCollins, 2010) capital lambda is written as a section mark, and capital beta as a comma. I've seen editions with even stranger substitutions.

They stared at the buried man in some perplexity, wondering how he got there and whether to help him out. While they stared, the face shook its chin free of sand and stones and spoke.

“ν θε λιδαγειν ᾿ανσε υοτιωγετ!!” it said. ["...n the lid again and see what you get!" - I think some text from the MS might have been lost here?]

“What language is that?” said Johnny.

“It might be Greek,” Douglas guessed, equally mystified.

A clattering of gravel made them look up. The other mushrooms, up and down the lane between the cars, had also grown into men in crash helmets. The next nearest was now only buried from the waist downward. He had his hands on the gravel and was levering to get his legs free. Beyond him, a number had grown to full height and were stepping up onto the ground, shaking their boots. They were all identically dressed in black leather motorcycle suits and white crash helmets, and they all had most unpleasant faces.

With one accord, Douglas and Johnny looked round to see how near the car was. It was twenty yards off. Between them and it, the lane was filled with motorcyclists stepping free of the ground and moving menacingly down toward them.

“I don’t like the look of this,” said Douglas. “And don’t tell me it’s my fault. I know.”

The nearest man struggled up from the earth and shook himself. Stones clattered from his leather clothes and mud spattered the boys. Carefully he drew his boot from the last of the gravel and walked a step or so toward them.

"Θιωκ ᾿ιυ κνιτ φελλως ᾿ον Θε εδ δουιου?" he demanded of Douglas. ["Think you can hit fellas on the head, do you?"]

“I’m sorry. I don’t understand,” Douglas said.

The man looked round at the other motorcyclists.

"Θης κιζ τραιδ του θυμπ μι, φελλως!" he said angrily. ["These kids tried to thump me, fellas!"]

From the way the others reacted, it was clear that, whatever this meant, it meant no good for Johnny and Douglas. They all gave the boys most unpleasant, blank looks and strolled nearer. "'Ωκει, λετς τεικ βωθοφεμ ᾿απαρτ ᾿αβιτ" ["Okay, let's take both of them apart a bit"] said one. And one who was still only half out of the ground added "Λετμε ᾿αττεμ." ["Let me at them"] Neither of these suggestions sounded pleasant. Johnny looked despairingly round what he could see of the car-park between the advancing leather suits. He found nothing but cars, lines of them, locked, silent and deserted. There did not seem to be another soul in sight.

“Get back to back,” said Douglas. “Use the mop on them.”

Johnny at once scrambled round Douglas and leaned against his back. He held the dustbin lid as a genuine shield, and put the head of the mop under one arm, with the stick pointing outward toward what was now a circle of menacing motorcyclists. Behind him, he heard the clang of the strawberry soap rolling in the dustbin as Douglas raised that for a shield and leveled the broom. Johnny was glad that he had such a tall back as Douglas’s to stand against. If it had been Caspar’s or Malcolm’s back, he would have felt a great deal more frightened. Not that their defenses seemed to impress the motorcyclists. Some laughed jeeringly. One said, "Φυλλα σπιριτ, 'αρυντθει?" ["Full of spirit, aren't they?"] which was clearly a sarcastic remark of some kind, and all of them laughed. Then the first of them said, "Λετσγω, φελλως." ["Let's go, fellas."] And they closed in.

jaggery

Mar. 31st, 2016 01:27 pm
marnanel: (Default)
Marn: I had to look up some of the things on the ingredients list. Did you know what jaggery is?
Kit: Spelt?
Marn: No, it's cane sugar.
Kit: I see what happened there-- I meant, "how is it spelt?"
Marn: Ohhh.
marnanel: (Default)

Marginalia scribbled while reading an article called "50 Writing Tips from my 15 Years as an Author":

One of the questions I’m asked on a daily basis is some form of, “I want to become an author. Can you help?”
-- Sure. Sit down and WRITE THE DAMN STORY.

2. Writing a book is a wonderful gift to leave your children and a way to ensure your legacy.
-- Here's your mother's last will and testament. It says... "Hey kids, I wrote a book once."

3. The root of “authority” is author; nothing will do more for your business or career than writing a non-fiction book.
-- Okay, I'll write a book about the etymological fallacy.

5. If you have ever given someone advice that they have found helpful, you can write a non-fiction book.
-- But have you stopped to consider whether you should?

7. If you’ve ever told your friends a story that made them laugh, cry, or say, “So what did you do?” or “No way!” you can write a novel.
-- Especially if your stories last a day and a half. But you might have trouble getting your friends to beta read.

8. If you can speak you can write; you don’t need to have done well in English class—or even in school—to be a writer.
-- That explains a lot about the stuff you find in bookshops.

9. “I want to write a book, I just don’t know what to write about.” Well, you clearly need to get a life, or at least read more.
-- Kudos for this one, though. More lists should tell the reader to get a life.

10. “I have a great idea for a book, but just don’t have the time to write it.” Oh, why didn’t you say so? Want to borrow my magical author-time-machine? It’s right over here…all writers have one. We call it the shut-off-the-TV-stop-posting-on-Facebook-and-get-your-butt-out-of-bed-at-5-in-the-morning device. Doesn’t even need batteries.
-- Really? Who stole *my* "get out of bed at 5am" device? Though after a few days of that, you'll be needing the batteries.

11. “But my grammar and spelling is horrible.” Fine, write a horrible book and hire an editor to clean it up.
-- "But my bank balance is horrible." Tough.

12. Write your book for a single person.
-- Especially if it's called something like "How to find a girlfriend."

13. Spend a ridiculous amount of time coming up with an “avatar” for your ideal reader, or spend one minute picking someone you actually know in the real world and write it for her.
-- Better, spend a ridiculous amount of time WRITING THE DAMN STORY.

21. The seventh most important variable in the success of a book is the quality of your writing.
-- That explains a *lot* about the stuff you find in bookshops.

24. Social media is a great way to connect with influencers.
-- So turn that "get off Facebook" machine back off again, okay?

26. The only book marketing expenditure that actually has a positive ROI (i.e., doesn’t just build awareness but actually moves books) is paying for placement in airport bookstores or display tables in Barnes & Noble. Oh, and sometimes Facebook ads.
-- "But my bank balance is horrible." Tough.

27. Readers are fascinated by authors; remember in the midst of your poverty and despair you actually have fans.
-- "But my bank balance is...." wait, poverty and despair?

28. For non-fiction, your fans want to know your zero-to-hero story.
-- Anyone can write, as long as they have an inspiring and successful life.

29. For fiction, your fans want to know about your (idealized) lifestyle and creative techniques.
-- They don't give a damn about my lifestyle. They want to READ THE DAMN STORY.

30. New authors should spend more time building their tribe than actually writing. (Yes, reality stinks.)
-- Put off writing the book for as long as possible.

33. Many authors supplement their royalties with income from speeches, courses, coaching, teaching and consulting. (Yes, again, reality stinks.)
-- Or, in the real world, by having a day job.

34. Most successful authors are prolific—they write one or more books each year.
-- Thank you, Captain Obvious.

35. Most successful authors slay the same dragon over and over again. (Lee Child has written 20 Jack Reacher novels; John Maxwell has written over 50 leadership books.)
-- It gets pretty easy when you can write your book with Word's mail merge function.

38. “Is it better to be a Pantser or a Plotter?” Shut up, stop procrastinating and get back to writing.
-- Whether you should prepare or start writing straight away was exactly what the question was about, you berk.

40. Writer’s block is laziness or lack of preparation.
-- You JUST SAID that preparation was a kind of procrastination. You berk.

41. If you have “writer’s block” try speaking your book into a microphone and have it transcribed; have you ever had speaker’s block? Didn’t think so.
-- Ever been lost for words? Didn't think so. (Also, "have it transcribed", but my bank balance is horrible...)

42. Pictures, illustrations or doodles immediately make your book stand out from the competition.
-- True! These are the first ones the publishers notice, and they have a special round file for them.

49. Write drunk; edit sober.
-- Let's say you can write 1000 good words every day. You're going to be drunk every night for two months. After that it'll be difficult to do any editing.

50. Life is about making an impact, not an income. And writers who know what they’re doing make both.
-- It's true, they do make both. Just not much of either.

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