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)
More bits of my poem "The Ghost in the Crown":

And I showed them the script
That I held in my hand.
“I call this play Catching­-The­-Mouse.
Understand?”
...

I'll fish for the king
With a play for a net.
I said, "With my net
I can catch him, I bet.
I bet, with my net,
I can catch the king yet."

...

"My head needs a pillow!
Your lap, to be blunt,
Is soft, and to hand,
And it’s pretty vacant."

...

So I went to her room.
But I passed, on the way,
A room where my uncle
Was kneeling to pray.
This must be the moment
To cut off his head!
But as I crept closer
I heard what he said:
“I murdered my brother!
I freely admit!
Dear God, please forgive me.
I’m rather a git.”
And I couldn’t kill him.
My blow was prevented.
For if he should die
Now he’s prayed and repented,
He’d go up to heaven;
That’s all very well,
But doesn’t seem fair
When my father’s in hell.
So I went on my way
As he muttered amen,
I hope that he’s sinned
When I see him again.

...

"And here is the head
Of a person historic!"
He gave me a skull.
And alas! It was Yorick!
I looked at the bones
And I thought as I sighed,
How he kissed me, and gave me
A piggy­back ride.
And now he’s a skull
And he’s silent and scary!
Now what has become
Of your dancing so airy?
The songs that you sang?
And the jokes that you said?
Now all that you have
Are the bones of your head?

...

The Lady Ophelia
Of whom you were fond.
She climbed up a willow
And fell in a pond.
And most of her talk
At the times she was verbal
Was straight from the pages
Of Culpeper’s Herbal!

...

I'm quiet, and I'm dead,
And I’m tired of my quest.
I’m glad of the silence.
I needed a rest.
marnanel: (Default)
On 17 May 1957, Dr King preached:

Give us the ballot, and we will no longer have to worry the federal government about our basic rights. Give us the ballot, and we will no longer plead to the federal government for passage of an anti-lynching law; we will by the power of our vote write the law on the statute books of the South, and bring an end to the dastardly acts of the hooded perpetrators of violence. Give us the ballot, and we will transform the salient misdeeds of bloodthirsty mobs into the calculated good deeds of orderly citizens. Give us the ballot, and we will fill our legislative halls with men of goodwill, and send to the sacred halls of Congress men who will not sign a “Southern Manifesto” because of their devotion to the manifesto of justice.

Sixty years on, one in thirteen black men in the United is still disenfranchised. In many southern states it’s far worse: the Florida figure is one in four.

https://www.salon.com/2016/11/28/felony-disenfranchisement-the-untold-story-of-the-2016-election_partner/

https://theintercept.com/2016/12/22/a-quarter-of-floridas-black-citizens-cant-vote-a-new-referendum-could-change-that/
marnanel: (Default)
I've always dressed androgynously and worn my hair long since childhood, because of being nonbinary, but this was the first time I'd got this treatment. I think it gets more common after puberty?

When I was about fifteen, I participated in a thirty-mile walk to raise money for charity. The final checkpoint was a pub, and of course everyone went into the beer garden and lay down on the grass.

Now you know how when you've been exerting yourself, you can walk fine until you stop, whereupon your muscles seize up. Well, after lying on the ground for a few minutes I got up because I needed to go into the pub and find the toilet, and of course I could hardly walk. So I hobbled towards the pub door.

A middle-aged man walked up and held my elbow, saying, "Let me help you, my dear."

First thought: wtf?! Why has this creep grabbed my arm without asking?

Second thought: Oh! In these baggy walking clothes, he thinks I'm a girl.

Third thought: Wait a moment. That means that girls get this sort of treatment all the time and I'VE NEVER NOTICED.

It was seriously a life-altering moment.
marnanel: (Default)
(this is my part from a December 2011 conversation log)

actually, a few weeks ago I had a dream where my subconscious was actually NICE to me
for the first time I can remember

you know the Royal Institution? it's a big building in London where scientists do, um, sciency stuff. they discovered sodium and aluminium there, back in Victorian times.

it is a big Classical building in Albemarle Street in the West End, but anyway

I had a dream I was exploring the Royal Institution

and there were various doors for exhibitions about particular famous scientists, and I was just trying to look at one exhibition WHEN

child-me came to talk to me, or rather pester me

and I told her to hush because I was reading

but she kept asking me to come and show her my bit

and I said "I don't have a part of the RI!" and she said "but I saw it"

so I went to see AND there was a room ABOUT ME

full of lots of interesting stuff I had discovered

and it was AWESOME

and then I woke up.

so yeah, this was the only time in my adult life I can remember having a dream where I woke up feeling better about myself
marnanel: (Default)
Fun read, but I'd expected better: the book can't decide whether it's comedy science fiction or political thriller. The SF part is well-handled, but the political stuff confuses me; I briefly considered drawing a diagram while reading so that I could keep up with who was working for whom. One moment you're reading some lovely SF about sheep DNA and the brains of the dead being uploaded into intelligent agents. Then you're suddenly pitched into the middle of a fight scene which looks like it dropped out of a Wachowski film; it doesn't work half as well in print.

But the biggest problem with this book is the sexism. In almost all the story there is *one* major female character, Robin. She and all other women are referred to by their first names; all the men are referred to by their surnames. Robin is described well, as seen by the male viewpoint character, and there's a lot of action *involving* her. But she rarely does anything that affects the situation; for much of the story she's just a McGuffin.

To its credit, it has the best opening line I've seen in years: "Dirk Moeller didn't know if he could fart his way into a major diplomatic incident. But he was ready to find out."
marnanel: (Default)
[CW sexual assault]

I met a a guy yesterday who was fired from his delivery job because someone had been raped and he sat with them for half an hour. Gross misconduct, apparently. But he says he's better off not having a job at all than working for that company. I told him he did the right thing. I admire him for that.
marnanel: (Default)

There was a protest against austerity in Piccadilly Gardens, in the centre of Manchester, last year. A friend of mine was on a bus and heard someone say, “I wish these people didn’t keep protesting all the time, I need to get to work!”

Keep them busy and poor, and they won’t have time to think about revolution.

When I was a small kid, I was always hearing about politically active students. But that was when students routinely got grants, and before college tuition fees. Most students didn’t have to work. Now I don’t know any students with spare time to speak of.

Keep them busy and poor, and they won’t have time to think about revolution.

Every time the railway workers go on strike, I hear people saying “I get paid less than them for longer hours. They’re so selfish, asking for better conditions.” They never seem to figure out the cause and effect, but they’re too desperate to keep their jobs to even think about strike action.

Keep them busy and poor, and they won’t have time to think about revolution.

marnanel: (Default)

How was/is your school organised? Mine wasn’t, very.

My school (state comprehensive) had houses called Anglia, Mercia, Northumbria, and Wessex. Northumbria was red, Anglia was yellow, Mercia was blue, and Wessex was green. I was in Wessex.

There was a system called “tutor groups” that applied to everyone except the sixth form, where you had to report to a particular teacher (in whatever room they taught in) at the beginning and the end of each day. The teachers were organised into houses and you were in the same house as your tutor. Despite the name your tutor wasn’t responsible for teaching you anything.

The school had 1200 kids and had outgrown the rather small hall, so assemblies alternated between Mercia+Anglia and Northumbria+Wessex. If you weren’t in assembly you just sat around in your tutor group doing homework (i.e. playing Top Trumps).

The school secretary was really really keen on coding everything. Each of the teachers, each of the rooms, and each subject had a three-letter code, and you were expected to memorise all the ones which applied to you. You wrote your tutor’s three-letter code after your name on everything– my tutor was Mr Crowther who taught chemistry, so my name was “Thomas Thurman CWR”. His room, where we went every morning and evening, was L05 (laboratory zero-five).

We had house points in the first two years, but they weren’t tallied up per house and they only applied to you. (This made no bloody sense even at the time.) You were given a card where the teachers initialled squares.

You got a badge if you made 100 or 200 house points. I finally reached 200 at the end of the last term of my second year. I’ve still got the badge somewhere. [edit: found it!]

 

marnanel: (Default)

I've been drawing illustrations for the anonymous poem He Drew. I read the poem when I was about seven, and it's stuck with me ever since. Many people have told me I'm not alone.

"He always wanted to say things, but no-one understood.
He always wanted to explain things, but no-one cared."

"So he drew."

"Sometimes he would just draw and it wasn't anything. He wanted to carve it in stone or write it in the sky."

Again, my illustrations but not my poem. More pictures in a few days; you can find the whole poem online if you go looking.

[This post was supported by my Patreon sponsors, who saw it three days before everyone else. Join us! https://www.patreon.com/tjathurman ]

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!"

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