Zeppelin Watch!

It’s been a while since I posted about our worlds continuing slide into alternative history. I think we can all agree that we are beyond the point of forecasting the appearance of Zeppelins. They must already be here. The news sounds like an excitable teenager trying to summarise a month’s worth of reality TV for someone who doesn’t own a television.

Which brings me to the first Zeppelin Watch! post: A pro-Trump computer generated instagram model is beefing with another computer generated instagram model and may have hacked her account. It reads like the “ethics in video games journalism” of instagram.

And as a bonus. Here’s a story about the President of the United States of America potentially getting sued for defamation by a porn star. To me that most incredible thing about this story is that; if you follow @StormyDaniels on twitter you’ll know that she is a intelligent, funny, hard working woman; and it’s amazing that she’d ever want anything to do with the unimaginative, intellectually lazy, con man in the White House.

Keep an eye out for Zeppelins and tweet me with your weird news so we can track them.

 

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If you don’t like Fall Out Boy you’re wrong

I am not your typical Fall Out Boy fan (if there is such a thing). I’m too old. I do not belong to the generation they speak for. I first got into the band because I saw a video animating the many mondegreens (misheard lyrics) in the song Sugar, We’re Going Down. I was convinced that it couldn’t be that hard to work out what he was actually saying. So I set out to prove it.

Listening to one song over a dozen times on headphones and going back and forth over the same lines repeatedly till you work out that the weird strangulated sound is actually the word ‘mausoleum’ will either make you love it or lead to hunting the singer down and stringing them up by their own vocal chords. In my case it gave me an appreciation for how clever the lyrics were and what a great voice Patrick Stump has.

That video did have a point though. So did the many other hilarious videos. Patrick’s diction did need work. Something that he recognised and did something about. It’s much easier to hear what he’s saying on the later albums. Which is important because those lyrics are so fucking clever.

When you watch the same music video over a dozen times it will give YouTube the idea that you really like the band and it will start showing their other music videos. That’s how I learned that Sugar wasn’t a fluke. All their songs have great lyrics and glorious music and Patrick’s voice just keeps getting better.

I understand that they’re considered ‘Emo’. I think that’s a bad name for the genre. All music is emotional. Fall Out Boy are Nerd Rock. They’re clever and they won’t hide it. They are unironically enthusiastic about stuff. They have zero time for the traditional macho posturing usually associated with rock bands. Their lyrics and videos are full of pop culture references and social critiques. They seem kind of weirded out by the whole fame thing and they keep bringing that up in both the lyrics and the videos.

They’re also Tumblr Rock. They feel stuff and they have opinions and they won’t just assume your gender or sexuality. Their music videos are simultaneously glossy and professional and also a little bit home-made and deliberately shitty. They turned an album called Save Rock And Roll into a feature length film . They released it for free on YouTube as a series of interlinked music videos with cameos by Elton John, Courtney Love, Tommy Lee, Foxes and Big Sean. That’s exactly the kind of thing a Tumblr blogger would think is a good idea. And even though it is clearly not a good idea they made it work.

Now I’ve said a lot about how clever their lyrics are but I haven’t shown you any proof. So here are a few that have stuck with me.

From Sugar, We’re going down

I’m just a notch in your bedpost, but you’re just a line in a song

And

I’ll be your number one with a bullet. A loaded God complex, cock it and pull it

From Centuries

You’re a cherry blossom, you’re about to bloom. You look so pretty, but you’re gone so soon

From Where did the party go

I’m here to collect your hearts, it’s the only reason that I sing. I don’t believe a word you say but I can’t stop listening

And

I know I expect too much, and not enough all at once. You know I only wanted fun then you got me all fucked up on love

From Wilson (Expensive mistakes)

I was gonna say something that would solve all our problems but then I got drunk and I forgot what I was talking about

From Irristisble

All of your flaws are aligned with this mood of mine, cutting me to the bone, nothing left to leave behind

And

You ought to keep me concealed just like I was a weapon. I didn’t come for a fight but I will fight till the end

From The Mighty Fall

Your crooked love is just a pyramid scheme and I’m dizzy on dreams. But if you ask me two’s a whole lot lonelier than one. Baby we should have left our love in the gutter where we found it. ‘Cause you think your only crime is that you got caught

From Just One Yesterday

Anything you say can and will be held against you. So only say my name, it will be held against you

And

I want to teach you a lesson in the worst kind of way. Still, I’d trade all my tomorrows for just one yesterday

From Save Rock and Roll

You are what you love, not who loves you

I could keep adding lyrics all day but at some point I have to stop and post this. Just go and listen to some Fall Out Boy.

2018 Diet Update 4

Before I begin my update I have a message for the various diet and weight loss blogs that keep liking these posts and following this blog. Please stop. This blog is not for you. I regard the entire weight loss industry as predatory. Fat people are not necessarily unhealthy. A person’s size has nothing to do with their value as a human being. 95% of all diets fail and the 5% that succeed only do so by the most meagre definition of success.

I’m not dieting out of any hope that my life will improve or that I will look better or feel better. I’m dieting to prove my doctor wrong. I’m dieting because that’s a thing I have to do if I eventually want to get surgery for my lipoedema. And I don’t have to like it. In fact I hate it. It makes my life so much harder than it needs to be and my life was already pretty fucking hard.

And now we continue with our regularly scheduled update. This week I lost 0.2kg (200g or less than half a pound). That doesn’t seem statistically significant to me. On the other hand it’s not weight gain so I’m not complaining. I had to take a break from my push to 100 squats because my knee objected.

I also had an appointment with the Lymphoedema Nurse to check on my compression tights. She’s suggested replacement compression garments with lower level compression and in a different design. The hope is that they’ll be easier to get on and that I’ll be able to wear them all day.

My problem with body positivity

Strictly speaking I have two problems with body positivity. One is definitely my problem. I think the other is a problem with the movement.

Let’s talk about my problem first. I’d rather own my problems before I go pointing out other people’s. My problem is that I find that I cannot love my body. At best we exist in a state of détente but most of the time we are at war. I hate how it looks. I hate that it’s never comfortable and that I am never comfortable in it. I hate the constant negotiations to get it to do anything. Most of all I hate how limited that anything is.

I want to be strong. I want to exercise. I want to go for long walks. But I can’t lift weights today because I put my compression tights on and apparently that’s me done for the day. As I write this my hands are still shaking just from the effort of getting dressed. How dare they.

And this, of course, creates a secondary problem. Because people keep telling me that I should love my body and I just can’t I feel like I’m letting the side down. Not only am I failing in my patriarchal duty to be decorative I’m failing in my feminist duty to love myself. I’ve failed to be thin and now I’m doing fat wrong.

Now let’s talk about my problem with the body positivity movement, and specifically the ‘healthy at any size’ part of the movement.

Because some of us are not healthy. Some of us are fat because we’re sick. Some of us are fat and sick with no causal link. And then there are people like me. People with lipoedema and similar disorders. People with dysfunctional fat cells that we can’t get rid of. We’re not sick because we’re fat, it’s the fat that’s sick.

I’ve written before about lipoedema. It affects up to 11% of women and post pubescent girls. It’s triggered by hormonal changes. It’s progressive. In many cases, and I am one of them, it is painful and debilitating. Our bodies lay down dysfunctional fat cells that don’t work as an energy store. These cells hang around in the wrong places, trapping fluid, putting pressure on our joints, and causing pain.

Before anyone slides into my comments to tell me that I just need to eat less and move around more my anorexic thirteen-year-old self would like to have a word with you. And she’s carrying a cricket bat. I’d run if I were you. No, faster than that. She’s spent the last 4 years running from people throwing rocks at her head so she’s a lot faster than me. No don’t stop for a rest she’s got plenty of stamina. Try to find some flowers. If she gets a lungful of pollen she might have to stop for an asthma attack.

But back to body positivity and my problem with it. I feel stuck. The lipoedema support groups are full of internalized fatphobia and people whining about how they should be immune from societal fatphobia without ever questioning that it should exist. The body positivity groups erase my experience of being disabled and fat. The insistence that fat women are hot just reinforces the patriarchal assumption that whatever else a woman is she must also be decorative. What if I don’t want to be decorative? What if I want to be a dapper androgynous badass?

Can’t I want to get rid of my dysfunctional fat while at the same time supporting your right to look however you want to look? Can’t we all agree that how people feel about how a person looks has nothing to do with their value as a human being? I just want to be in the world without the feeling that either I have to cut parts of myself off or excavate a me-shaped hole in order to fit in.

A thing about feminism.

I asked my youngest brother, Ninja-Bob, to write something about his feminism. He is a straight white dude and the father of a young daughter. He’s a martial artist and a science communicator who works with children. He’s also the sort of guy who will go to the pub wearing the tiara his daughter bought him for Father’s Day because he really doesn’t care what people think of him.


So, My sister asked me to write a thing about why I’m a feminist. Which I was really chuffed by as I don’t call myself a feminist.

I want equality, especially for my child, and if that makes me a feminist, that’s great.

I’m not afraid of anything, by and large, I walk down the street and I don’t give a fuck. If someone speaks to me I’ll listen, but if they piss me off, I will tell them exactly what I think in the sure and certain knowledge that they won’t attack me or harass me or follow me.

I know, from experience, that if I stop to confront someone being objectionable, then they will continue berating me, but they will do it as they back away very-fucking-quickly. I know they won’t follow me home, I know that I’m too scary to fuck with. I’m enough of an unknown quantity that even – to use a Central-Beltism – a “hard-cunt” won’t fuck with me and I’m respectful enough to avoid the animosity of actually dangerous people.

I want that level of confidence for all. Yes, men get attacked and women that get attacked don’t get attacked by all men. But far more women live in fear whenever they have any kind of dealing with men.

I want my daughter to grow up to be whatever kind of person that she wants. I know that for that to happen, she will have to know that she is loved and be confident enough to take chances.

Nowhere in her future do I wan’t to see her putting headphones on without music in order to avoid harassment.

So yes, I am willing to sacrifice some of my freedoms so that she can have an equal chance with her peers of becoming the best Space Volcanologist that there ever will be. However, those are freedoms that I don’t fucking want anyway.

I can live without the freedom to be paid more than someone doing the same job. The freedom to get away with brutal, heinous crimes with a slap on my wrist because my future is considered more important than my victim. I don’t need the freedom to make demeaning comments to those that I work with based on their gender. Oh you, you don’t like what I said? Well give us a smile, sugar tits, it was only a joke.

I witness, on a regular basis, parents engage in casual sexism that they probably don’t even recognise as such. Telling their boys that “You don’t want to wear that, that’s for girls”, or asking at my work as a science communicator for “more girly” science experiments.

I know that I’ve got far to go, that I’m not yet free of patriarchal indoctrination, but at least I know it’s there. I’m sure that, as a martial artist, I’ll probably never feel as exposed as most women. I don’t get it, but at least I know that I don’t get it.


And there you have it. Proof that I am not the only foul-mouthed, opinionated feminist in my family.

Is depression a choice?

Yes. But not the way you think.

I’m aware that I’m taking a risk starting like this but so be it. If I want to speak to the people who need to hear this I have to start this way. Some of my readers are going to feel attacked but please bear with me.

Depression is one option on a multiple choice test. For some of us this test is an occasional annoyance. For others it gets delivered every goddam day. The test looks like this:

Pick one option only

  • Denial
  • Substance Abuse
  • Suicide
  • Depression

Everyone starts out ticking the Denial box. Nobody wants to be depressed. Depression sucks. So you tick that Denial box. And then you tick it the next day and you keep on ticking it. But it gets harder. The box goes grey and then black and eventually no matter how hard you press down on the paper your mark won’t show up.

For some people that’s enough to go straight to the Depression box but some people think that’s for quitters. So some people go to option two.

Choose your poison. There are so many ways to pretend you’re not depressed. Alcohol will cover it up and the next day when you feel like shit you’re not depressed you’re just hungover. Hair of the dog will sort you out. If you don’t like booze there are so many drugs out there. Some will take you high enough so you can’t feel the depression. Some will take you down so low that you won’t care. And if you don’t trust drugs there’s always food. Suffocate those damn feelings under handfuls of sweet, sweet food.

But over time the Substance Abuse box keeps getting bigger. It gets easier to tick. Eventually it gets it’s own denial sub heading so that you can deny that the substance abuse is a problem. And then comes the day when you realise that the words ‘Substance Abuse’ are written on a label. They’re covering something up. And when you scrape or peel the label off you find that underneath it is the word Suicide. Because substance abuse is just suicide the long way round.

That Suicide box is always tempting. It’s practically talking to you. Telling you that if you tick it right just once you’ll never have to worry about the damn test ever again. Some days that box is huge.

But if you care about the people around you that option is out of the question. So you move to the bottom of the test and you tick the Depression box. The hardest one. The one that means admitting there’s a problem. The one where you seek help and take pills and talk about your damn feeling. The one where you have to practice self care instead of pretending that you don’t exist. The one where you have to cut the toxic people out of your life. You’ll know the toxic people because they’re the ones telling you that you’re selfish or weak for ‘choosing’ to be depressed.

The Mathematics of Scottish Independence

Recently an English friend that I haven’t seen in ages suggested that I might hate all things English. I suspect that she thinks that because of all the pro Scottish Independence stuff I post on Facebook. I felt hurt at first but then I realised that it’s not her fault. The London based media has been lying to her about the Scottish Independence movements for years.

Yes I said movements. As in it’s not just the SNP. The Green party is pro independence, so are the various socialist parties. There are pro independent Labour supporters. There are unaffiliated groups like Women for Independence and YesBikers. Most of us don’t hate the English. Particularly not English Scots For Yes – a group of English born people who are vocal in their support for independence and their belief in an inclusive future for Scotland.

Of course that proves nothing. There are pro Trump gay republicans but that doesn’t change the homophobic and transphobic nature of his administration. Saying that some English people are pro-independence therefore it’s not anti-English is like saying that you can’t be racist because you have a black friend.

I’d like my English readers to put their preconceived notions about the SNP and Scottish Nationalism and the Union to one side for a moment and look at the maths.

  1. The first past the post system used for Westminster elections inevitably skews to a two party system.
  2. The Scottish electorate is too small to influence who wins at a Westminster election
  3. Since the Scottish electorate can’t get them into power the Westminster parties have no reason to pay attention to the needs of the Scottish electorate.
  4. Therefore Scotland puts more into the Union than it gets out.

You don’t have to believe me on the problem with first past the post. Here’s CGP Grey explaining.

 

The Scottish population, and thus electorate is tiny compared to the rest of the UK. If you don’t believe me you only have to look at the last two elections. In each one the whole Scottish electorate could have voted Labour and we would still have a Conservative Government.

Once upon a time this wasn’t such a huge problem. The industrial working class in Scotland could make common cause with the workers in north of England and south Wales. Scottish farmers had the same interests as farmers in the rest of the UK. The Peterhead fishing fleet could unite with the fishermen of Cornwall and Suffolk. It’s become a problem because the rest of the UK has swung to the right politically and because advances in polling mean that politicians now know who they have to appeal to in order to win at Westminster and it’s never us.

I know that you’ve been told that Scotland is dependent on the Union. That Scotland is a nation of subsidy junkies. Think about who it is that’s tell you this. The same people that won’t subsidise a spare room for a disabled child’s medical equipment want you to believe that they’re subsidising an entire nation. In the end it doesn’t really matter though. If Scotland is a drain on the rest of the UK then we should be taking responsibility for our own economy and standing on our own feet. If it isn’t then the UK Government has been lying to all of us and basically stealing from Scotland.

In the future these mathematical inequalities will only get worse. Westminster politicians are stuck chasing thinner and thinner slices of the electorate who can actually affect the outcome of the election. Scotland didn’t vote for Brexit and it will probably be  worse for us than for the rest of the UK but we’re stuck with it. See my Tapas Bar post for how that feels. The Scotland that’s depicted in the UK press looks nothing like the Scotland I see when I look around. It’s starting to look like the UK government is ramping up to remove powers from the Scottish Government, maybe even get rid of the Scottish Parliament completely.

 

Bonus Maths:  When London hosted the 2012 Olympics the whole of the UK paid for it, including Scotland. The Scottish share of the bill was at least £165 million. When Glasgow hosted the 2014 Commonwealth Games it was paid for by Scotland. The rUK share of the bill was ZERO. The new Queensferry bridge across the Firth of Forth was paid for entirely by the Scottish Government. Scotland is paying towards the cost of the HS2 rail project even though it doesn’t come north of the border and will probably increase travel times from Edinburgh to London. Estimates of the exact share paid by Scottish taxpayers vary and the oft quoted £3.64 billion estimate is from an anti HS2 organisation.

It’s not big or clever but it is funny.

Farting. Not pleasant but a necessary human function. Also hilarious. And something that some people don’t do in front of their romantic partners, apparently.

The other day my other half woke me up reading some headline about how a study revealed that the earlier in a relationship a couple farts in front of one another the longer they’ll stay together.*

Well duh. In other news water is wet.

I’ve been hearing for years that women in particular aren’t supposed to fart in the presence of prospective intimate partners. I must have missed that memo. If you’re in a relationship for the long haul then farting is amongst the least of things you’ll have to worry about.

If farting in front of someone puts them off how are they going to deal with menstruation, or pregnancy or childbirth? And if neither of you has a working uterus then there’s still old age and it’s attendant indignities to look forward to. How are you going to deal with that if you can’t deal with a fart?

Yes I know that some of you are planning to hit the longevity wave** and stay young and fit until you both die in a freak tandem nude skydiving accident on your 150th wedding anniversary but I was promised flying cars and space stations and look how that turned out.

My point is that if a fart kills your relationship it was doomed anyway. Best to get it over with lest you invest years of your life in someone who’s going to run at the first whiff of methane.

 

*Or something. I may have mis-remembered but in my defence I was half asleep.

**The longevity wave is the dream of being young enough when the first wave of life extending technology arrives that it can keep you alive until the next tech arrives and that can keep you going til the next one and so on.

Be careful what you wish for

I realised a strange thing this week. Through the power of the internet I saw a Nazi go from blustering about his power to weeping in fear that police might shoot him. The comment section was full of people holding him up as an example of the fundamental weakness of Nazis as a group. Something about it seemed familiar. A also saw a young man who marched with Nazis and thinks that multiculturalism is cancer but swears he isn’t a Nazi complaining about getting death threats over the internet. Something about that seemed familiar too.

I realised that they were experiencing what it’s like to belong to a minority. They’ve been saying for years that white men are the ones who are really oppressed and now they get to find out what that’s actually like. You see when a woman fails she fails on behalf of all women. When a person of colour breaks the law the reaction is disproportionately harsh. When any member of a minority sticks their head above the metaphorical parapet someone will try to shoot it off. One needs privilege to survive mediocrity and incompetence.

I have no illusions that it will last. Either things are going to get very dark or the Natzis will climb back into their holes for a while and people will forget that there are still Natzis in the world. Very soon it will again be possible for white people to espouse the beliefs that sent millions to the gas chambers and plunged the world into war and other white people will pretend that they don’t really mean it.

But for a while perhaps thost of us who really do face discrimination and oppression are allowed a little schadenfreude at the idea of Natzis finding out what it’s like. They really don’t seem to have the constitution for it.

Well suck it up, buttercup. This is what life is like for everyone who isn’t an able-bodied, cis-gendered, heterosexual white man. This is what the rest of us put up with while you’re whining on the internet about how women oppress you by refusing your advances or sleeping with men you don’t approve of. While you’re blaming immigrants for depressed wages and affirmative action for keeping you out of your ‘rightful’ job the rest of us have been working twice as hard for half as much and being told that we should be grateful for it.

Growing up.

This weekend I spent some time around people I haven’t seen in years. I’ve known many of them since they were teenagers and it made me think about growing up and how it’s done.

When you’re a kid you look up at adults and you assume that they actually know what they’re doing. You assume that they have everything easy and they can do what they want and that they’re free. Growing up is slowly realising that you were mostly wrong. Adults are mostly making it up as they go along. Adults are weighed down with responsibilities and commitments. Adults do have the freedom to choose to do what they want but they mostly have enough sense not to use it to do all the stuff they wanted to when they were kids.

Spending time with people that I’ve known for so long, seeing the ways in which they’ve changed, and the ways in which they haven’t, set me to thinking about how some people grow up and how some people don’t. I’m probably going to come back to this subject again but I think I’ve come up with a way to define the process of becoming an adult.

Growing up is an ongoing process of learning the correct amount of fucks to give and then putting that knowledge into action.*

The correct amount of fucks is almost never zero. People who give zero fucks can be intoxicating to be around. For a while. They start out entertaining and exhilarating, like a fairground ride, but there’s a reason that fairground rides are short. Exhilaration soon turns to exhaustion. People who give too few fucks are prone to dickish behaviour. They leave things undone. They’re careless with the feelings of others.

People who give too many fucks make themselves miserable. That misery inevitably spreads to everyone around them. They often fall victim to procrastination and indecision because they care too much and everything seems too risky. They’re too raw, too easily hurt, too fragile.

It’s hard to put your finger on the correct amount of fucks. That’s why growing up is a lifelong process. It’s learning to care what your loved ones think of you but not to tie your sense of self worth to it. It’s understanding the difference between a valid criticism and a personal attack. It’s knowing how to cut toxic people out of your life but still being able to reach out to help a friend who is in a bad place or going through a bad time. It’s giving of yourself when people you care about need you but still being able to hold onto what you need for yourself. Most of all it’s about forgiving yourself when you inevitably fuck all of the above up.

I can’t tell you how to do any of this. I’m still working on it myself. But maybe I’ve helped define the problem a tiny bit.

 

*I’m defining ‘fucks’ here as both caring about stuff and being patient with people about that stuff.