Friday, 30 August 2013

So, the Syria vote

So the parliament has, to everyone’s shock, voted against military adventures in Syria.

That’s a relief.

As to “intelligence reports” that they keep waving us saying that they prove whatever? I don’t care.

I don’t care because I am unable to believe them. They could be true. They could be false. They could be created from sheer ineptitude. They could be deliberately falsified to deceive us. The “intelligence services” have no credibility

We went to war in Iraq – an utter debacle – because of the peddled words of the “intelligence services.” In the aftermath no-one has faced any public consequences for the lying or (if I’m giving them vast benefit of the doubt) extreme incompetence. Without that I cannot assume any significant change has taken place – so the words of the intelligence services become meaningless. There is no point in listening to a liar – and it is an act of utter foolishness to trust one.

But surely I cannot doubt chemical weapons have been used?

True, I don’t. But nor do I think that the US & UK swooping in dropping bombs on people is actually going to make that better. I desperately want chemical weapons not to exist, I desperately want the war to end and I do wish we could intervene – but I do not trust us to do so!

Through ineptitude, malice, selfishness or a complete inability to examine the world through any other lenses than our own, our “intervention” is hardly the benevolent force we seem to think. I do not think we are CAPABLE of making things better. I also doubt very much whether our leaders WANT to make things better – at least for the people of Syria. We use words like “democracy”, “freedom” and “human rights” a lot and leave bodies, dictators and torture in our wake.

As to this somehow doing terribad damage to Britain’s “reputation” or making us look “weak”.


Monday, 26 August 2013

Today I cooked for an arsehole.

Today I cooked for an arsehole.

I do not like said arsehole and would normally draw the line at cooking for arseholes, but I was assured by F (whose judgement I generally… well, do not trust to be honest, because she’s a very random person) that he’s probably being an arsehole because he’s trying to impress his new girlfriend, her friend N. We both are very confused at the straight guy thing of acting like an arsehole to impress girls. Peacocks have shiny feathers, stags have antlers, straight guys have loud, showing-off arseholery. Does it actually work?

Anyway, said arsehole had previously expressed his taste for very spicy food, but that neither I nor F could possibly understand for I am not a real man and she is a delicate little flower of womanhood so neither of us could possibly handle spicy food.


Now I am partial to hot food and will cook with all kinds of spice, chilli etc, but I generally disapprove of the macho posturing of making food blisteringly hot for the sake of it. Heat should enhance the dish or be a natural side effect of those flavours – actually setting out to make food painfully hot so you can prove how tough you are strikes me as ridiculously childish and a waste of perfectly good food. Also, I think a lot of spicy food should (and usually is) served with a cooling agent – soured cream, yogurt, guacamole, chutney, raita, salads, tzatziki, etc.

I would never ever make food ridiculously hot just to prove that I (and F) can handle far hotter food than he and he should go home sobbing like a little boy. Of course not.

Cooking extremely nice food where the heat is an entirely natural part of the food process and adds to its delicious flavour and just happens to be very very hot indeed? Why, it’s a pure coincidence, I assure you!

It was even optional! Crispy fried chicken (in my own spice mix. Which wasn’t hot. Much. *ahem*) and dipping sauces: piri piri, Mexican chilli and tomato and Thai sweet chilli.

Did I mention that Beloved’s Bird’s Eye Chilli plant has a truly impressive crop of teeny tiny red chillies?

He was quite capable, at any time, of recognising the sauces were far far too hot for him and kept to the sour cream and hoi sin dips. And just because F and I were double dipping didn’t mean he had to, now, did it?

Oh how I do love to cook for people J.

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Top bar computer stuff

Ignore the top menu bar folks. I'm trying to create this on www.Fangsforthefantasy.com

It works here but not there. Because computers hate me.

On the Need for a Mother and a Father to Provide Appropriate "Role Models"

One of the constant attacks from anti-gay-family folk is the idea that all kids need role models of each gender, especially of the same-sex. So all boys need to have a father to teach them how to be a man. All girls need a mother to teach them how to be a woman. This is known.

It’s also one of the points that a lot of straight, cis supporters have trouble countering and they often fall back to miscellaneous excuses of “it takes a village to raise a child” and to point out that a gay male couple will have female friends/aunts/etc or a lesbian couple will have male friends/uncles/etc.

Yeah I’m not running with this excuse. I’m not buying the idea that GBLT couples absolutely must have add-ons to their family to make them as good as straight couples, it’s demeaning. It’s offensive. I’m also not running with the idea that gender (and binary gender at that), alone of all characteristics of a person, is so important that a child simply must have an example of each to cling to – especially not in a world where most GBLT people are raised in cis, straight households that not only don’t share our GBLTness but are often hostile to us. In fact, given that, I kinda want to slap any cis, straight person who prates on about how essential it is to have a role mode to teach children how to be X; if anyone knows what it’s like to be raised by parents not like us, it is us.

But let’s take this whole “I need a father to teach me how to be a man” bullshit because I want to know exactly what it means.

See, I grew up with 2 parents, a mother and a father. My relationship with them is… decent. It has some holes and flaws in it simply due to the extreme heterosexist viewpoints they still haven’t shaken and a whole lot of homophobia I haven’t brought myself to forgive and a whole lot of really nasty bigoted family members they haven’t brought themselves to condemn, disassociate with etc. There’s some rough ground there.

But, on the whole, we have a good relationship. And I love my father (in that classic “we’re British men so will never show any affection or touch each other now you are past the age of 8” kind of way), respect him and think he did the best job he knew how as a father with only a few problems.

And we have absolutely nothing in common

He likes sport. He even likes motor racing and golf. Any and all sport

He’s apolitical

He doesn’t read

He doesn’t like fiction

He doesn’t laugh out loud and when he does find something amusing it’s the cheesiest, cringe-worthy slapstick you ever did see.

He likes fixing cars and tinkering with engines and electronics

He doesn’t cook.

He likes the pub and sports matches and all of his socialisation revolves around them

He has no time for academics, less time for learning and no interest in either.

He likes warblers from the 1950s that must have been dated when he was young

He thinks long hair on a man is shocking and pretty embarrassing

His clothing is a mess of bright, eye searing patterns

Yet he decorates in pastels and neutral tones that can make any home into a blah-show house. And he likes pale wood.

He’s straight and pretty damn uncomfortable around gay people

He’s a morning person. And doesn’t know the meaning of the word insomnia.

He’s an extrovert, he has to be with people all the time. He’s almost co-dependent in that he doesn’t know the meaning of solitary activity. If he read, he’d be one of those people who feels the need to tell you what he’s reading every 3 paragraphs.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

In case there is any doubt on Sochi

Russia WILL be enforcing their homophobic persecution law during the Sochi Olympics

Frankly, the idea that it'd all be find if Russia took a little break in grinding gay people's heads into the dirt so straight people could enjoy their sport without having to worry their little heads at pesky persecution never struck me as something laudable.

As to the idea that our teams and fans would going to Russia and showing that the Olympics actually has principles and will use the chance to protest against persecution - well Russia may not have to arrest them, the IOC is ready to punish them.

It seems speaking against anti-gay persecution is "political" and the IOC will have none of that going on - drawing attention to the blood spilled by gay people may get in the way of the skiing, we can't have that, can we? In fact, even wearing a rainbow pin would count, it seems. Why, maybe they don't oppose Russia's laws because the IOC agrees with them.

Of course, the Olympics charter does not ban discrimination on account of sexual orientation or gender identity. So could we really expect more from this bigoted organisation?

Friday, 9 August 2013

More boycotts - why they matter

No doubt you have come across the great gay Russian vodka boycott (which means you’ve actually only got a tenth of the story because it’s actually the Russian boycott, but the vodka gets the most attention for the booze and for reasons I will go into). And there has been much mocking and deflecting. Oh boy has there been deflecting.

“The company’s Latvian!” they cry

Well, firstly, that’s not true – not with all its products coming from Russia and its roots still heavily in Russia and – the main point – the brand making a point of emphasising its Russianness. In fact, before the latest brouhaha, Stoli was downplaying its Latvian-ness and trying to double down on being Russian. Why?

The same reason Audi isn’t just made in Germany, it’s “Vorsprung dursch Technik” (likely spelled wrong).

The same reason Boursin isn’t just made in France but its adverts show me quaint French villages and has the phrase “du pain, du vin, du bosin.”

The same reason Alpen tells me about its creamy rolled oats (and how are rolled oats “creamy” anyway? Oats have the consistency of birds nest and sawdust. Creamy is a grossly inappropriate adjective) with a backdrop of rolling Alpine mountains.

Because sometimes country of origin is a selling point – so much so that even products that don’t have it will fake it (look at Dr. Oetker’s Ristorante Italiano rage). And Stoli uses its Russianness the same way. It’s not vodka that happens to be Russian, it is vodka that is superior because it is Russian. This is why a boycott focuses more on Vodka than, say, natural gas. No-one lights up the stove and says “hah, you are using inferior gas from the North Sea! We use only high quality Russian gas!”

This is why Russian vodka is more prominent than the rest of the boycotts – same as the Olympics. Because they’re not just products from a country, they’re products that make that country their brand and a selling point. This is why we have a boycott - to make it clear associating with the brutal persecution of gay people is NOT a selling point

Also, boycotts are a fascinating insight into how little we matter to straight people: so far, fried chicken, a movie, playing winter sports, playing football and vodka are all more important than gay people's lives. It's a powerful reminder of what we mean to straight people

“It’s pathetic! Do you really think not drinking vodka will change the laws? Can’t you do something else!”

Y’know, no matter what we do activism wise there’s always people crawling out of the woodwork to tell us we’re doing it wrong, which more than hacks me off. Firstly – can we do something else? Yes we can. And we are. Shockingly, this isn’t an either/or choice. We can boycott vodka AND boycott other Russian products AND boycott the Olympics AND target Olympic sponsors, AND raise awareness in the blogosphere AND write petitions AND contact the IOC AND contact the Russian embassy AND contact our local politicians AND have demonstrations in front of embassies AND raise funds for Russia and international GBLT groups AND both organise and prepare for demonstrations at the Olympics while simultaneously boycotting them.

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

We Have Answered Your Questions

About every fortnight or so we get an email to our Fangs account which follows a very predictable pattern:

It begins with gushing praise for our social justice perspective for Urban Fantasy and our analysis of tropes and marginalised issues.

This then segues into a request. They need help. They’re writing a book and they want advice with THIS character or THAT one. They want to include a minority but they don’t know how. Is this a trope? Is that? Is this ok? This totally offensive portrayal is ok because I’m a special snowflake… right? Or maybe we could beta for them? Or how about “review” their unpublished book? Just so they know they’ve got it right! Can’t we just help them?

This usually follows, after a refusal, with a “I thought you cared?!”

We do care. And we have helped. We created Fangs for the Fantasy. We have written nearly 100 posts on marginalised issues in the media. We have poked tropes and stereotypes, erasure and insults, slurs and depictions and themes and gods know what else.

We have helped. We have created a resource and put a lot of work on it. And not just us – far from just us – there are many resources out there created by marginalised people dedicated to addressing every marginalised issue – including the media.

See this is what bothers me about the whole “duty to teach” thing. Not just that privileged people feel entitled to get spoon fed information – but that in doing so they are stepping over the vast resources we have ALREADY provided.

Look at the internet! Marginalised people have spent untold hours – years even – producing blogs, sites, forums, guides and who knows what else on every last marginalised issue under the sun. We have already poured out incredible effort here – and that effort can also come with considerable emotional pain since it involves poking at our sore spots AND it means exposing ourselves to an often very hostile backlash from privileged folks

And this is why we often get short, bad tempered, snappy or flaming enraged when asked questions we consider inane. Because we have answered these questions. Not only have we answered them but we have handed these resources to you, resources that cost us to make, but then you’re not using them.

Personally, I don’t mind answering questions – I have been professionally trained to endure the most annoying of questions. If I don’t feel like answering I will ignore you until I have the Dice to handle them. Or I may just post links to where I have already answered the questions rather than repeat myself. But when people ask me to work through their books after getting my contact details from a site where I have put in untold hours giving them just the information they ask for… yeah, even my temper frays a little there.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

I need to apply axes to heads again

I spend most of the week in distant parts doing most annoying and tedious work and slowly melting to a puddle in this thrice cursed heat. And why is it that I’m always the one doing the business tour of the arse end of England anyway?

 Despite this, through the wonders of modern technology I still manage to get a lot of my own caseload tackled. I’m feeling accomplished!

Except I get back and find that my colleague’s cases are now on my desk. Why is this? Because he’s going on a short-notice-I’m-sure-no-one-minds last minute holiday. Naturally I am the one considered to catch this hurriedly dropped ball because…. Reasons (reasons I more than suspect, especially since colleague #2 who has less work load than me hasn’t been handed these cases because she wanted to spend more time with her husband).

I am not amused.

And then I’m on call this weekend as well? What the hell guys? What is this, some test to see how much you can poke the Sparky before he becomes a raging lawyer hulk and starts beating people to death with the metal-clad briefcase of painful bruising?

I am now in a bad mood - I shall have to find someone to take it out on