Monday, 30 April 2012

No, no, Mother Nature, MET office, weather deities - I call shenanigans

So Beloved is flicking the TV channels while I read and occasionally say sarcastic things about what’s on screen when this happens:

TV: flood warnings across the region, the wettest April on record..

*channel flick*

TV: drought conditions continue, all people are asked to conserve water

*channel flick*

TV: could be as severe as the floods 3 years ago when…

*channel flick*

TV: hose pipe bans may go into effect in the region. Drought…

*channel flick*

TV: flood

*channel flick*

TV: drought

Beloved: Ok… I think they’re arguing now. Who do you think will win?

Sparky: Well one better – I refuse to have a drought and flood at the same time, it’s bad management. I refuse to accept being menaced by both lack and over-abundance of water at the same time – that’s just greedy. They can pick one menace and stick with it.

Friday, 27 April 2012

The International Day Againt Homophobia and Transphobia isn't a Marketing Tool

Often in the writing blogosphere we see various forms of Blog Hops and blog tours and similar promotions to draw attention to authors, their books and let readers connect with authors who may interest them.

One upcoming blog hop is Hop against Homophobia

This is a blog hop of authors of the M/M genre. It allows writers in the m/m genre to gain attention to their M/M books and offer M/M prizes. The site itself explains its purpose:

the purpose is to get readers to a) see your name b) see your books and c) have the option to follow your blog to get to know you as an author and to be kept up to date about your future work.

And to start it off they’re going to set things rolling on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia

So, what is The International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia? Well, it’s pretty much exactly what it says. It is a day where we fight against the damage these bigotries do. It is a day when we look at the damage these bigotries do.

And let us never underestimate the power of this bigotry. There are still a horrendous number of countries out there where being GBLT is a crime. In some of them you will be tortured or executed. Others will imprison you for years and, of course, should you serve your sentence you face being returned to prison since, of course, people don’t stop being GBLT.

People are killed for being GBLT. People lose their jobs for being GBLT (often without any recourse in law). People lose their homes for being GBLT. People are denied any legal partnership rights for being GBLT, people are denied medical care for being GBLT, people are vilified and attacked and destroyed for being GBLT. People turn to drugs and alcohol because of anti-GBLT bigotry and countless GBLT people are driven to suicide every year by anti-GBLT bigotry.

In short, homophobia and transphobia are devastating forces out there and any campaign to battle them (Including this day) is vital and precious and very very important (though we can have debates about the effectiveness of individual days, that is a different discussion).

And these authors have decided to use this day to shill their books. They’re using this day about bigotry against GBLT people for marketing. Worse, not only are they appropriating this day for marketing, the actual purpose of the day they are using does not even remotely have to be involved

From the site itself:
- Talk about the International Day Against Homophobia in your May 17th blog entry (as little as just a mention – your choice).
--- Add the colorful Hop Against Homophobia image to your blog/website with a link to the official hop site:

There, you don’t have to actually do anything about homophobia or transphobia or talk about the day or what it actually aims for – don’t let silly things like that put you off. Don’t let the actual purpose of the day get in the way of your marketing. No, so long as you mention the name (all the better to appropriate it properly) and then you’ll get a giant anti-homophobia rainbow banner as well! Sure you don’t actually have to do anything about homophobia or transphobia, but you get the banner. I wonder if it comes with cookies?

Let me repeat this so we can be abundantly clear – no part of this blog hop requires acting or speaking against homophobia or transphobia, nor does it require being a GBLT member or ally (and no, being part of the M/M genre is not synonymous with allydom. Using us does not make you an ally, writing these books does not grant automatic status as a supporter - far from it). It is not about GBLT rights –it is about advertising, marketing and giving away free M/M stuff to attract more readers and followers

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Thursday, 26 April 2012

Dr. Spitzer has apologised

So, Dr. Spitzer, author of a horrendous “study” that says gay people can change and one of the most quoted and well used in the ex-gay movement has apologised. He retracts his study that says gay people can change and further says that his claims were unproven.

A lot of people have, rightly, hailed this as a major victory and been extremely happy that one of the weapons of the virulently homophobic ex-gay movement has been removed. And I share that… to a degree

Let us look briefly (and only briefly because it makes me want to vomit and cry) at “ex-gay” therapy.

Even in its most “benign” form it involves encouraging GBLT people to think of themselves as wrong, as diseased, as sick, as in need of fixing. It adds to the toxic low self-esteem and low self-love levels that plague our community and lead to not only our obscenely high suicide rates, but also our high rates of depression, self-harm, alcoholism and drug use. (Which, of course, the haters then point at as reasons why being GBLT is wrong).

Even at it’s most “benign”, it demands GBLT people lie to themselves, repress themselves and live lives either alone no matter what they want, desire or love – or that they create fake lives, imitating hetersoexuals for the happy gaze of straight people – while their own soul curdles and they’re pushed into never knowing the touch of someone they’re actually attracted to – or being forced to seek dangerous, illicit liaisons (why, hello there high STD rate – I wonder how this arises?)

And that’s the “benign” forms. We also have the much more harmful methods – the electroshock treatments or, as was/is popular in Britain, the use of emetics. See, you show a gay man images of naked men then give them an emetic that makes them vomit and shit themselves. Leave them in their own filth, then repeat the procedure. Add in the very standard physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse that go with a lot of ex-gay therapy and you

So, Dr. Spitzer says he owes us an apology.

He also apologize to any gay person who wasted time and energy undergoing some form of reparative therapy

Dr. Spitzer, people didn’t just waste time and energy. People lost their lives. People suffered. People’s lives were ruined. People died, Dr. Spitzer.

You owe us an apology? Yes. But you owe us lives, Dr. Spitzer. Lives lost, lives ruins, lives tormented.

I want to hail this, I want to praise him for apologising, for changing, I want to celebrate this. But I’m too angry for that – I can’t forgive this damage because he has decided to apologise – removing the weapon for the future (though the ex-gay movement will continue to use it, we all know that) doesn’t change the damage it has already inflicted. He apologises… but I can’t forgive.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

On the Abu Qatada drama llama

The reason he can’t be deported to Jordan is because the “evidence” used to prove that he’s a big bad dangerous terrorist was obtained by torture. I.e. it is not “evidence”. Or, to put it another way, there’s no evidence (real evidence) he has done anything wrong

If the Jordanians can provide guarantees that he won’t be tortured or executed and his trial will be fair (no “evidence” from torture since that pretty much instantly destroys any pretence of justice) then the ECHR won’t block his deportation. Simple as.

The reason why he’s not in gaol in the UK after being charged with terrorism offences or other bad/naughty crimes is because we have fuck all evidence with which to do so. If we did, we’d have done it and would now be having smug politicians on the television saying how wonderful their anti-terror strategies are. Thankfully I am spared the urge to punch my television screen.

Or, to put it another way, the only reason why this man isn’t in prison here or in Jordan is because, legally, locking people up because the people in charge say “he’s a bad man, honest” is not advisable, ethical, moral, or even remotely sensible. As and when sufficient assurances are received from Jordan then the deportation can happen and everyone can kindly unknot their twisted knickers, please.

And to the Tories and their sympathisers whining about “sovereignty”. Kindly cease your whining, it’s giving me a headache. The court is preventing us from including torture in the application of “justice”. If the court is stopping us aiding, abetting, consenting or approving to torture then I will gladly kneel before it in a kinky kinky harness and call it “Sir”

Frankly, I’m embarrassed that we require the intervention. When we grow up and act like a civilised nation, perhaps the court will treat us like one. Until that time, the court sending us to a corner and telling us "no" seems quite reasonable. And kinky. I seem to have got distracted somewhere along the line, but my point stands.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Dinner time! What sauce for the chicken?

So I roasted a chicken (well part of one, the rest will go in a honey and lemon and mustard sauce and be yummy tomorrow or Tuesday) with trimmings (too many veg. BUBBLE AND SQUEAK HERE WE COME!) today – not because it’s Sunday but because it was “how long has this chicken been in the freezer?” day.

So there it was, all laid out. Chicken, peas, carrots, parsnip, stuffing, mash and roast potatoes and, of course, some cranberry sauce.

And then I frowned. I confess, while I make many things from scratch, cranberry sauce is not one of them (simply getting cranberries is a bit of a hassle anyway), besides, I’m not a lover of it (yes, Beloved will no doubt point out that if I don’t love it, it tends not to get made and he is forced to sneak it into the house after late night shopping trips. He exaggerates. A little).  Anyway, I frown at the goop in the little sauce thingy because it doesn’t look quite right.

I take some, taste it then smile and watch Beloved eat for a while. Until a confused and faintly horrified look crosses his face. He chews slowly brain trying to catch up with what’s happening

Sparky: Problem?

Beloved: Um… what did I just eat?

Sparky: Well, it looked like chicken, some stuffing, a small piece of roast potato, covered in gravy and a big dollop of strawberry jam.

Beloved: Strawberry jam? *pokes red stuff that does, indeed, have seeds in it*

Sparky: Yes. It looked positively revolting – was it as ghastly as I imagine?

Beloved: Not as awful as you’d think but… yeah pretty damn awful…

I would also like to refer him to an argument I believe we had in, oh, 2009? I think it was 2009. I will have to check my diary of “I Told You Sos” (I get to cross one out!) to be sure. Anyway, this was in the aftermath of one of the great Condiment Wars that constantly rage. However at the time I insisted that if he MUST add ingredients to the food I’ve cooked AFTER I’ve finished cooking then at least put them on the side of the plate for dipping and scooping rather than layering them all over the food until every iota of original flavour is destroyed (especially before tasting. OOOOH is there ANYTHING more annoying than people who add seasoning and condiments to food you’ve cooked before they even taste it? Hanging offence. No, hanging is too good for them.)

See, if he hadn’t decided to “humour” me then, his entire dinner would now be covered by strawberry jam. This proves that I am right. Someone call me the Doctor, I need to go back to 2009 and say “I told you so” with appropriate smugness.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Are we shocked?

George Osbourne, our Chancellor, is shocked, SHOCKED, by how the richest people in the country are dickering with their tax returns - why some of them are paying less than 10% of their income in taxes! SHOCK! Are you not shocked?

Now, I, personally, am not shocked. Nor is just about anyone else because this is common bloody knowledge. And I don't believe Osbourne was ignorant either. In fact, it's inexcusable if he is ignorant because he's the bloody Chancellor. He runs the economy and he is NOT aware of this? How does he write budgets being this ignorant?

Also note the clever misdirection - we're talking about tax relief, not tax havens – no comment offshore accounts or setting yourself up as a company either. Therefore aiming at just one small segment of tax avoidance - then he can tweak that and call it job done, never mind the millionaires who say they live in Guernsey, or the celebrities who list themselves as a company so they get to pay corporation tax.

Don’t get me wrong, I hate the charity tax relief section. Just because you give to charity doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be taxes – especially since our definition of “charity” can be awfully lax (especially since churches count). I don’t want our NHS or benefit system underfunded because rich folks would rather pay for the cherubs to be re-gilded at the opera house. But, in terms of the many ways rich folk wiggle out of paying tax, I don’t think this is up there compared to the tax havens and incorporating self

And, relatedly, no, I don't particularly care about MPS disclosing their tax returns (though it won't show even half the avoidance). I want all of these loop holes - and not just the ones Osbourne was finally "shocked" to find - closed. Not a test to see who is using some of them or not. Especially since it's also not looking at ex-MPs with their nice jobs as speakers, advisors, board members and lobbyists. There’s a lot of money in being an ex-politician.

And with energy companies making higher and higher profits while people pay higher and higher bills and fuel poverty becomes more and more of an issue, Cleggy assures us he has a new solution! Every year your energy provider will have to contact you with details of the best deal for you.

Yes, that's right, Cleggy's solution is more spam because that will totally solve things. Not lower prices, not tougher enforcement, not a mandate to make their myriads of deals easier to understand and most certainly not any kind of investigation into how much profit - and how high a wage for the top of the company - these "service providers" can actually make while screwing us. After all, aren't these companies supposed to be more efficiently run and providing a better service? This is supposed to be the very point of privatisation after all

And speaking of the greater joys of privatisation - we have hose pipe bans around because of very low water table and draught. Sensible. Of course it's a shame that 25% of our water is actually leaking from the water company's pipes.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Random stuffness

So another holiday in which I largely avoided family. Well, there was an awkward awkward dinner involving Beloved’s parents, a sadly overcooked piece of lamb and all the pre-bought things that I normally shun. But I was polite and they were polite and it was such a very polite affair. Like the kind of dinner one would expect to have if, say, you invited your boss round one day albeit without the creeping and brown nosing.

I did spend some time on the phone with my brother again, this is getting more frequent, it suggests he’s going to drop in at some point, he usually does *is prepared for Hun invasion*. However, I did point out that I had bought mother an Easter egg and he had forgotten which officially made me the Good One (one of the eternal elements of familial politics is how quickly family favour can shift in the grand scheme of things and how the coveted title of “Good One” also conveys the passive aggressive dig of “Bad One who doesn’t care and is his arm broken because he never picks up a phone!” Which goes to show that our family is never happy without feuds, snarks and sulks) Brother mine pointed out that I could never be the good one until I started dating women.

Which, well, hmmm… that rather upped that ante in a manner that was inappropriate for the discussion, as I would have thought would be rather obvious. He still doesn’t get why he crossed a line that didn’t need to be crossed and I just don’t have the energy to walk him through it.

It does make me wonder what my parents talk about with him when I’m not around – but not very much since I already have a pretty good idea and I’m not going to seek a wound to poke.

Since I managed to avoid all the family holiday stuff pretty much, brother mine does wonder if I’m, ever going to rejoin to fold and, if so, do I need help.

And, y’know, the answer’s probably no. The great big huge extended family of stress just doesn’t seem even slightly appealing to me. I just don’t trust them and I don’t think you can be part of my family, part of my family culture, without some element of trust. And I don’t have that – I don’t have any of that and I can’t help but see them as a threat – which is hardly conducive to rebuilding family bonds.

And, besides, even if we were to rebuild these burned bridges it simply cannot be me that does the rebuilding. They’ve done too much for me to make the first move, for me to make the concession. Frankly, the only way we could lay the foundations for those bridges is if they have finally realised that their actions are not acceptable and, even if they’re not going to apologise and make nice, that they’ve got to at least stop being homophobes. When that happens they may feel the need to try and close the rift, but until that happens I am not going to try and bring us together when there’s a damn good reason for us to be apart – and for me to want us to be apart.

In other news, in typical Beloved fashion, Beloved has decided he no longer wants to be a carpenter. Wood is apparently unco-operative stuff, saws are sharp, hammers are heavy, he’s stabbed himself with a screw driver and he has splinters everywhere. Alas, his first creations had a certain Rorschach quality wherein every viewer had a different interpretation as to what they were actually for. Given the sharp edges, sticking out screws, splinters and generally solid nature I think they were designed to be weapons.

Beloved had a day of sulking but now seems to have adopted the “woodwork? What is this woodwork you speak of? I have never heard of it” attitude. So we are officially pretending it Did Not Happen.