Saturday, 31 March 2012

Bad News Round Up

It's been a little while again. I haven't really had the time or the energy or the strength to compile one for a while. And compiling them takes some time since it's not something I can really do in one sitting

But, I do think they're imporant, so after much wrangling I finally got it together

Full list below, with all the usual badness one would expect for these lists of bigotry

Monday, 26 March 2012

And why I could never do the Atkins Diet

So I look at the meal I've cooked and I'm sure there's something wrong, but can't quite figure it out. Salmon en Croute, big, crusty-skinned jacket potatoes and fresh baked, still warm bread rolls. Yes, it looks yummy (lots of sour cream as well).

Beloved certainly set too with a vengeance. There was much devouring and much arguing with the cat over whether she liked salmon or not (we told her she didn't, she told us we were dirty rotten liars who will give her fish now.AND some butter)

Belvoed then declared the meal to be the reverse Atkins diet - carbs carbs carbs...

And then I remembered that the purpose of carbs is to be FILLING. And pastry + spuds + bread is very very filling indeed.

I felt the spirits of my grandmothers smiling upon me.As good Yorkshire cooks, they know that thetrue sign of a good meal is diners who can't pry themselves out of their chairs afterwards. If they can walk, you have failed and need to use more suet.

However, in retrospect, some vegetables may not have been out of order. I now feel vaguely guilty. Maybe I should have placed some salad leaves at the sid eof the plate to be ignored so we could claim healthiness.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Mass Effect 3, finished!

Ok I have finished Mass Effect 3 and I am going to have to squee. There is so much good here. It was  fun, it was rocking, the story and the side quests were great. The completionist in me loves the various options and extra quests we could do. The story lover in me loved the plot, the highs and the lows, the victories and the tragedies. And the gamer in me found the game easy to play and fun with sensible controls

I did expect to have an issue with the game dumbing down and having space bar do EVERYTHING from use to climb to jump to cover to, well, everything. And there were the odd moments when I was dodging back and forth in cover or tumbling around like an acrobat when I just wanted to check the console. But it didn’t happen as often as I expected. Still, bring back “e” please.

ME 2 and ME3 I don’t think the whole “clips” concept worked. They had a nice idea with ammo in the first game – and I don’t think the whole “heat sink” idea made a whole lot of sense the way it was implemented. And, besides, you never ran out of ammo so why bother?

I found the side quests better than previously. ME1 involved too many hours driving around empty planets (or checking internet maps). ME2 made me feel I had to ration resources so couldn’t explore every cranny. ME3 let me find everything and left me feeling that I DID find everything.

Ok, people died and I know a lot of players had problems with established characters dying. And I can see that – but I thought it was necessary to bring how just how extreme the loss of life and devastation is during the war. How many people have died, how much this fight is costing – sure we can show images of London in ruins (and yes, seeing Big Ben in the background gave me the heebie jeebies) but having someone you’ve invested in die shows it more. Flip side is, of course, that a) I saved a lot of people who could have died and b) the characters who did die weren’t my personal favourites or squad members. Now, if Garrus or Tali or Dr. Chakwas or Joker had died? I’d probably be telling a different story and be pouting mightily.

On inclusion – lots of it and I loved it. And I loved my romance with Estevan (Kaidan, alas, died in ME1 for me) but more than anything what impressed me is that Estevan is gay. I mean, even if my Shepherd is straight as straight can be, Estevan is still gay. He isn’t the gay option thrown in to placate me and hidden away if you don’t want him. He’s gay, he’s mourning his husband and he will talk about it. Similarly you can walk through the Citadel and hear a woman talk about her wife. While romancing these character is an option, there existence is not. They are there. And that impressed me.

And to describe how much I loved this? I’m tempted to do a play through of the whole series, one after the other. Yes yes I am.

And now the elephant in the room. The ending. Ok there has been a lot of comments on the ending so here’s mine with a spoiler warning


Wednesday, 21 March 2012

An update on Beloved's obsessions

So on the old, ongoing obsession, beloved has started planting things out in the garden. Turnips and potatoes and onions so far, I think. Maybe beetroot as well. Since there is frostiness he has also taken steps to prevent his seedlings, bulbs and seeds from birds, insects and cold with lots and lots of improvised plastic sheeting and shields

Now, looking out of my window I don’t know if the appearance is better described as the “Inhabited by Squatters” look or the “Landfill” look. Neither is very appealing. I comfort myself knowing that in a few months we should enjoy the “Tractless Jungle” look, which is much more pleasant to look at.

I am struck down by the dreaded lurgy and am unwilling and able to deal with anything. Beloved has exploited this and has taken up a new hobby.

Carpentry. I think.

Now, were I at full health I would gently patronise him, insist he read some books on the subject and then, perhaps, allow one manual saw, one hammer and, maybe, 20 nails along with one medium sized wooden board to play with until he gets bored/decides it’s too much work/hits his thumb with a hammer and sulks with the whole lot.

Alas, I am not at full health. And I find that our garage has now become home to what can only be described as timber. Copious amounts of dead tree.

I did intervene before the power tools were added. Well, before most of them were added. And I had some others returned. I’m quite sure no-one needs this many saws. Still, there is a good deal more stuff getting past me than I normally let slip when he has a new obsession.

I have a feeling this is going to be very very vexing in the coming days. And noisy.Oh it's going to be noisy.And ye gods the sawdust. Maybe if I hide it'll all go away

And if he thinks any of that tortured wood is coming into my house then clearly he is in no fit state of mind to be operating dangerous machines

Saturday, 17 March 2012

The Marriage Equality Consultation

So, after literally years of putting it off, delays and dodges, we finally have the consultation on marriage equality! Yes it’s actually here! It could actually happen.

The consultation is here. Ye gods please go and consult and don’t let it be filled with arseholes.

And, yes, I’m squeeing because ye gods I want this, I really want this extremely badly even though there are problems. I want this, we need this. We need to end this law that says we are inherently lesser, we need to replace this law that enshrines religious bigotry. We need to be equal and at least pretend to be recognised as such!

Go, consult! Consult my winged monkeys!

Ok, reluctantly putting the squee aside for a moment, let us point out some… problems.

First of all the very fact we’re having a consultation is ridiculous. What is there to consult about? If you’re committed to bringing about marriage equality then DO IT. You don’t need to ask “how” to do it – just make marriage open to all couples regardless of gender. Why does this need a consultation?

Secondly, if this is a consultation on HOW to implement marriage equality, why is the first question  

“Do you agree or disagree that all couples, regardless of their gender, should be able to have a civil marriage ceremony?”

I thought this was about HOW to implement it, not WHETHER to implement it? If marriage equality is a done deal, why are we asking whether people agree with it or not?

Thirdly, this consultation is for Civil Marriage only. That means that even if your religion WANTS to perform a marriage between 2 people of the same sex, they can’t. Religious buildings and religious practices are completely banned for marriages between people of the same-sex. All religious practices. The Christians’ freedom of religion means they have to dictate the religious practices of other faiths. So scrap that “we need to replace this law that enshrines religious bigotry” because we’re still doing it! For crying out loud, we’re going to have to fight for a new law even AFTER marriage equality is passed!

Fourthly, there are apparently a number of issues that the consultation says will require further analysis depending on the outcome of this consultation. Including but not limited to:

·  state pensions
·  survivor benefits in occupation pension schemes
·  administrative processes for marriage and civil partnership

WHY would these need more analysis? Why would my pension rights not be exactly the same as a straight married couple. What, seriously, you’re going to have marriage equality but have DIFFERENT RULES for same-sex couples?  And why will it depend on the outcome of this consultation?

I’m getting a horrible feeling we’re going to need ANOTHER marriage equality law after this marriage equality law to actually achieve marriage equality.

Wow, I’ve totally killed my own squee now.

In other squee killing news – dear media, stop showing your straight, scabby backsides.

Firstly, it’s “marriage equality” not “gay marriage.” Our marriages are no different from the marriages of straight people, stop acting like it’s something weird

Secondly, I’m sick of seeing bigots being presented in the name of bloody “balance”. I’m really really really sick of it.  I can’t open a newspaper or turn on the TV without some bigot telling me I’m not deserving of equality and some reporter acting like this is reasonable.

Thirdly, do your job and CHALLENGE the hatred from the clergy. It’s highly doubtful you would have allowed these bigots to get away with this level of hate speech in regards to other people’s human rights. And why are you letting them present this as a religious freedom issue

Seriously, we have Archbigot Rowan Williams instantly deciding we’re unworthy, Archbigot Sentamu saying giving us equality is akin to the actions of a dictator, Archbigot Nicols of Westminster saying our loves are just friendships and that we’re “annexing” marriage. Archbigot Lord Carey calls our love “vandalism” Cardinal Super-Bigot O’Brien compared our marriages to slavery. And don’t even get me started on the Tory MPs.

This is hate speech and the media is giving it a platform – it’s intolerable, unacceptable and there’s no way it would pass if they were talking about another religion, so why does it go through when talking about us?

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Beloved has shopped

So I'm toiling away in the kitchen cooking a Sunday dinner for Beloved and several guests when they announce they havew taken steps to help me.

They have shopped

Shopped *crack of thunder*

And they have bought... frozen yorkshire puddings. Here I am, bowl full of perfect batter in the fridge, in Yorkshire no less, and they bring frozen yorkshire puddings into my house.

And they have bought... stuffing. A pre-packed, dehydrated stuffing mix. It resembles bird food. And, of course, I have made not one, not two, but three kinds of stuffing myself.

And then... THEN... they revealed the frozen roast potatoes. With my own gems sizzling away in the oven.

As if this weren't enough to already justify me blending them into gravy - they then revealed the pudding. The frozen cake. A horrible, artificial looking, FROZEN CAKE.

The cake alone would cause even the mildest of cooks to launch themselves across the room, whisk upraised in berserker rage. And for those roast potatoes then we have no choice but to summon the horde. Yes, this outrage demands barbarians - Call the Goths, raise the Huns.

And they actually showed me their purchases while I was in the kitchen. With knives and fire in easy reach! And bladed devices powered by electricity! What reckless courage is this?!

Needless to say, words were exchanged

Friday, 9 March 2012

Mass Effect 3!

Now I have many things to do this week, so it would be a bad idea to buy this game. A very bad idea, I’ll end up playing it and neglecting my huge to-do list, Beloved, the house, eating, sleeping and possibly breathing to play this game. I don’t have time for that at the moment, so I will be sensible and not buy it.

No, no I won’t.

NO. I will NOT.

Brain: buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it buy it

Sparky: NO! I have things to do!

Brain: More important than Mass Effect 3?

Sparky: Yes! I have work, we have to eat, the house needs cleaning.

Brain: That’s what sick days are for. And take away. And since when did a little dirt hurt anyone?

Sparky: I have stuff to write!

Brain: Mass Effect 3 will inspire you to write more. Inspiration! Energy! Enthusiasm. You can’t NOT buy this game

Sparky: Since when?

Brain: So say the rules I just made up. If I repeat them they’ll make sense.

Sparky: No, I’m not buying it.

Brain: Fine… oh, is this a credit card? Why, yes yes it is

Sparky: I’m moving it out of eye-line. There, temptation removed.

Brain: ok… but googling and checking the site wouldn’t hurt right? See, doesn’t it look shiny

Sparky: No! I’m closing the window! NOT LOOKING!  No, look, it’ll be cheaper on Steam eventually

Brain: You want to WAIT!? BLASPHEMER! You can afford it. And if you can’t, Beloved has 2 kidneys!

Sparky: I’m not killing him for a computer game

Brain: He has 2! He has a spare!

Sparky: No. Common Sense Brain, control temptation Brain!

Common Sense Brain: You’re going to buy it anyway. Every second you delay it is a second you spend obsessing over it rather than doing something productive. The sooner you download it, the sooner you complete it, the sooner it stops controlling your life

Sparky: this… makes sense

Actual Common Sense Brain: No it doesn’t! You’re rationalising your temptation and calling it common sense!!!

Sparky: Hush you! Fake Common Sense tells me I must buy this now!

Brain: Wooohoooo

 I am weak...

Who knew glasses could do so much?

Sparky: *at work doing worky things*

Colleague: *wanders into room* aaargh can you check this for me? I lost my contacts and these glasses are giving me a headache, they're too old

Sparky: *gape*

Colleague: Yeah they're hideous, can't wait til I get new contacts.

Secretary: *enters* *gasp*

Colleague: Yeah theyr'e horrible aren't they? Can you do those files?

Sparky: Murf...

Secretary: meep.

Colleague: Thanks...

Colleague#2: enters *chokes*

Colleague: They're not that bad!

Colleague#2: wurble.

Sparky: ugh?

Secretary: meeeeeeeep.

Colleague: Fine, they're horrible, I get it *sulks off*

Sparky: When did he get hot?!

Colleague#2: Magical Glasses of Hotness. Or he's drugged the coffee.

Secretary: I'm taking the rest of the day off. Going to threaten his optician with pain and death if he dares to give him contact lenses ever again

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Why did I get married?

Or domestic partnered *eye roll*. Yes this is another question that came out of family mixing from an unmarried (yet partnered) cousin who doesn’t know why I bothered. But it’s come up a lot from various people over the years.

Of course, the sad thing was, as ever, the blinkers of privilege; she could have just looked round and seen the reason for herself. She would have seen how the whole family treated her relationship of 11 months as a long term partnership – but still acted like my decades long marriage was a temporary fling, a passing insanity, something I’d grow out of or all about sex. I have done everything legally possible in the UK to make my relationship “official” and I still have to fight to have it recognised even by my own family. Let alone official institutions, work colleagues or the public at large.

See, this is one of the things that irritates me when straight folk don’t understand the fuss about marriage. They can take the protections, legal rights and status of marriage for granted because they not only have them – but they don’t always need them either. Even for non-married straight folks, our society provides a level of respect and legitimacy for heterosexual pairings.

Or, to be overly simplistic, even when you aren’t married, society will often infer some level of married-ness upon you.  Because straight couples are not just the norm but also the ideal, they are granted legitimacy AS couples. As a family lawyer, I have seen straight unmarried couples have more recognition and support for their relationship – or dissolving their relationship – than I have not just for unmarried GBLT couples but also for domestic partnered GBLT couples. Every shred of respect, of officialdom, of any kind of recognition I have seen for my relationship – or any relationship between GBLT people with the same-sex – had to be fought tooth and nail for and even then that’s often not enough.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Do you know what our economy needs right now?

For the upper rate of tax to be cut. The tax on people earning over £150,000 a year. We really need to cut this, apparently, according to the government. And look, the Lib Dems are melting on the point.

So we're all in this together?

So while VAT rises, benefits are cut, legal aid is gutted, local services are gutted, the NHS is gutted, the police are privatising and the poorest in society continually suffe rmore and more.

In the meantime the government is also looking at the richest in society and... asking nicely for the bankers not to take the huge bonuses they're getting from tax payer owned banks? Now we're scrapping the top tax for people earning over £150,000 a year.

These poor poor rich people, it must be so hard for them. Now let's cut some more child benefit and make disabled people face even more of a struggle to get any kind of help at all.

These are thesacrifices the rich are expected to make, it seems. Typical Tories and their mini-mes. Ye gods how I regret ever voting for the Lib Dems. Never again

Sunday, 4 March 2012

I want to know what it's Like

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Sympathise, don't empathise

So, I was talking about how Beloved’s parents aren’t exactly super-duper thrilled about be, or mine about him for that matter – and I was quickly informed by an empathetic person that they totally understood, they didn’t get on well with their in-laws either. See, they understood what it was to be rejected by your loved one’s family.

But it’s not a matter of my in-laws not liking me or my parents not liking Beloved. Even if Beloved or I were completely different men, our parents would still be hostile. We cannot have a relationship that would possibly meet their approval. Every potential relationship is wrong. It would actually be better for us not to have relationships, in their eyes, than have any of the relationships open to us. Our very capacity to love is flawed in their eyes. They weren’t just rejecting our partners, they were rejecting us. And that is so extremely different from your in-laws not liking you very much. 

I spoke about the difficulties of the closet and the evils it perpetuated on us. And someone told me how they understood because they were “closeted” about their political position (in fact. The Tories actually ran an advertising campaign based on the concept). 

See, they wanted to say, they understood how hard it was to be closeted, because they had to hide too!

Except there is a world of difference between political opinion and actual being. Except they didn’t have to live with constant societal rejection and invisibility. Except they didn’t have the shame and self-loathing and the history of conversion therapy, bullying, suicide, substance abuse, familial hatred and everything else that goes into the soul-destroying closet. They had none of this context behind them to make such a gross statement.

I spoke about how slurs hurt, how they made the whole world cringe for me and how dehumanising they were. And someone told me that someone called them an anti-gay slur once because they thought he was gay!

See, they wanted to say, they understood what it was like to be called that nasty name, because they’d been called it too.