I’ll never understand the pride people take in saying, “I was born and bred here” or the use of the same phrase to defend one’s perceived superiority or deservingness of housing, health care or other basic human rights.

I mean, what did you, yourself, actually do to influence where you were born or bred? Unless you were a particularly ambitious embryo, the answer is “nothing”. Sure, your parents might have made some kind of effort to select your place of birth. Maybe they strove to move to better housing in a neighbourhood with better services and schools. Maybe they’re even immigrants, like my dad, and they struggled long and hard to learn their fourth language in order to integrate into their adopted country. But you? You didn’t do anything. Why are you so proud of that? Think of the things you've accomplished in your life. Isn't it far more fitting and fulfilling to be proud of those?

And why the obsession with asserting the superiority of a single identity over the others? “I’m English first and then British.” Pro-tip: Most of the rest of the world considers both of those to be synonymous with “ex-colonialist imperialist arsehole” so it doesn’t really matter which one you choose. ^.^

Here is a list of the geographically-linked identities that I consider myself able to lay claim to. I’m proud of some and not others.

  • American
  • British
  • European
  • Hawai’ian
  • Filipino
  • Olympian
  • Seattleite
  • Angeleno
  • San Diegan
  • Londoner
  • Brummie (this is a new one; still feels a little odd)


Today, I think I’m proudest of being European. I earned that identity and that passport, and I’m still very pissed off that some people want to take it away.

Today is also, weirdly, simultaneously:

  • the anniversary of Brexit, aka the Colossal Waste of Time and Money Foisted Upon Us by a Generation That Tore Down Decades of Painstakingly Won Goodwill with Our Neighbours and Won’t Live to Experience the Disastrous Consequences, Thanks a Lot, Dickheads.

    And

  • International Women in Engineering Day


So, to close this post, here is a peaceful photo of a woman doing some engineering.

Scientist at work
nanila: YAY (me: abby)
( Jun. 9th, 2017 09:02 am)
Dear 18-25 year old voters,
It's an omnishambles of a result and it's going to take months to sort out. But OMG well done all of you for turning up - an estimated 72% of you - and confounding the initial expectations for this general election. Keep it up. You swung it. I'm so pleased for you.
Love,
Nanila

Dear people in power,
See that letter up above? Start paying attention, start thinking long-term and start putting in place policies that aren't going to screw over their futures.
Kiss kiss bye bye,
Nanila
tags:
Poll #18443 UK GE2017 Future Levels of Discourse
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 51


As we have seen, the 2017 UK General Election campaign has reached the Badger Cull level of discourse. What's next?

View Answers

Fox Hunting
8 (16.3%)

Liam Fox Hunting
19 (38.8%)

Mushroom
22 (44.9%)

Current UK Prime Minister Theresa May is Margaret Thatcher's Final Horcrux

View Answers

Yes
45 (100.0%)

Nanila got the response types mixed up in the previous two questions

View Answers

Yes
8 (16.3%)

No
10 (20.4%)

Ticky
23 (46.9%)

Snake
36 (73.5%)

tags:
IMG_-np9b2u
I saw this in a derelict shop window on the high street of my local village. It reads: "SAVE BRITAIN: CULL TORIES" and features an image of a badger with a Union Jack painted on its face.

Thus I feel compelled to announce that the UK GE2017 campaigning has attained the Badger level of discourse.
I am so very behind on posting new entries right now. Life is happening too fast and work deadlines have suddenly appeared and are making alarming whooshing sounds.

However, I wanted to note that this week, I have passed a new milestone in political activism: I have become a candidate for the local council elections in the UK. I only did it because the organiser of my local party was very persistent, and I do not expect to win or even come second, as I won't be doing any campaigning. But it was still a big deal for me to put myself out there, to fill out the paperwork and get the necessary constituent signatures (TBF, aforementioned local party doyenne got most of the signatures), even if it's just to be a paper candidate. So. Er. Go me?
Last question on the college staff survey that I just filled out:

Q: What single thing should the College focus on to be a great place to work?

My answer: Minimising the negative impact of Brexit on our European colleagues.
tags:
I have been thinking, off an on, about a comment I heard Jacob Rees-Mogg (UK Conservative politician, pro-Brexit) make on Have I Got News For You (topical BBC “comedy” panel show) a few weeks ago.

He remarked, in an off-hand smiling way, “Nannies are indestructible.”

This provoked little from his fellow panelists other than some raised eyebrows and swiftly moving on to the next topic. I would dearly have loved to have seen someone call him out on it, however, because to me, it tidily encapsulates the kind of thinking that informs our more privileged elected officials.

“Nannies are indestructible.” Let’s pick that apart a little, shall we? You’re saying that people who choose a certain career are all of such physical and mental endurance that they are unbreakable. A career that is traditionally underpaid and underappreciated. A career that, in the past, many would not have chosen freely, but would have been forced into purely by necessity. A career that has traditionally - and still is - predominantly taken by women. A career that often required* one to endure physical and mental abuse not only from one’s charges, but from one’s employers.

So what you’re saying, Jacob Rees-Mogg, is that you think these people, these often young, habitually oppressed and usually female people, can endure anything. Any sort of mistreatment you throw at them, whether it be verbal insults or piss-poor pay, they can be assured of accepting and carrying on with their lives. Never mind that the only alternative, for them, is probably “starve to death on little or no income”.

This throwaway remark, by someone who thought he was paying a compliment, says a lot about the entitled thinking of imperialists. It is this kind of thinking that enables slavery.

* I really hope this can be entirely put in the past tense, but the cynical side of me is willing to bet otherwise.
nanila: me (Default)
( Nov. 17th, 2016 12:53 pm)
It occurs to me that, while I’ve been very slow to begin to read long-form writing (e.g. novels & non-fiction longer than magazine articles) again, I’ve actually been watching quite a bit more new stuff than I have since before Humuhumu was born. Mostly since I no longer have to go to bed before 10 PM every night because I'm so tired. There are some spoilers here for "Planet Earth II", "Frozen" and "Paddington". The other reviews are of documentaries or are spoiler-free.

~~~Television~~~
Planet Earth II: Narrated by Sir David Attenborough, of course. I have to admit, I giggled all the way through the snow leopard sequences because I couldn’t stop thinking of that sketch from “John Finnemore’s Souvenir Programme”, which features a cameraman and a biologist with absolutely nothing in common, stuck up a mountain together for six months. Eventually they find common ground in mocking Sir David for continuing to narrate all these grand BBC nature programmes after retiring from field work. “We should just get an ordinary leopard and Tipp-Ex it!” “Or get an albino serval and do potato prints on him!” Er, anyway, the scope and cinematography of the programme are excellent, as one would expect, and it is fantastic at the end of the day to soar with the eagles, face-plant into the snow with a bobcat, or cheer on a baby iguana as it navigates a treacherous run through a perilous, snake-strewn obstacle course.

The Missing: This is one of those crime drama programmes that felt like it was going to be a two-or-three parter and then wrap up neatly. The BBC does that sort of thing brilliantly. The first two episodes were wonderfully suspenseful and quite scary.

Now that we’re six episodes in, it’s all gone a bit silly. I’m still on the fence with whether I’m on board with that, given how unlikeable most of the protagonists are.

Masterchef: The Professionals: Let’s be real now, I mostly watch this because of Monica Galetti, who pulls the best faces and is also, despite the lack of Michelin stars, a better chef than Mr Beardface aka Marcus Wareing. He thinks he’s the best judge on the show when he’s clearly entirely limited his tastes to fine French cuisine. Monica not only has that expertise, she also has palate that is capable of appreciating more diverse flavours. And she has the best hair.

My investment in this programme is a pale shadow of my love of Bake Off [RIP]. It peaked during the “normal” Masterchef in 2013, the year that Natalie Coleman won.

~~~Film~~~
Frozen: Aaargh. I’ve seen it a few times now. I don’t love it. Too many dreadful sappy songs, not enough ridiculous snowman and reindeer dialogue. Humuhumu likes it, though she thinks the ice monster is too scary, which is why a parent has to watch it with her. Presently I’m being heavily questioned about why Hans wants to steal Elsa and Anna’s kingdom. Gosh it’s fun explaining to a four-year-old what powerful motivators greed and a lust for power can be.

Paddington: Happily, Humuhumu loves this film almost as much as Frozen, though she thinks the naughty lady (Nicole Kidman’s character) is scary. I don’t mind rewatching it with her, as it's a pretty blatant parable about the positive effects of immigration. She asks a lot of questions every time it’s on, trying to understand the moral implications of what’s happening. The last time we watched it, I had to tell her no less than ten times that no, Uncle Pastuzo wasn’t coming back, because a tree fell on him during the earthquake and he died before he could get to the shelter.

The Take: The timing of the cinema release of the film (Bastille Day 2016, the day a freshly radicalised Tunisian man drove a lorry through a crowd in Nice, France) was awful, especially given the premise - terrorism by white people is subsequently erroneously blamed on Muslims. I enjoyed this. It was action-packed, well-paced and featured a lot of Idris Elba. What’s not to like? It was also entirely forgettable; the week after we watched it, I had difficulty remembering the title. If anyone was looking for further proof that Idris Elba should be James Bond, this adds to the already enormous stack of evidence.

The Man Who Knew Infinity: The bloke and I are both great fans of G. H. Hardy’s A Mathematician’s Apology, which lays out the working and personal relationships between S. Ramanujan and Hardy from Hardy’s perspective. This biopic attempts to show the same from Ramanujan’s. There are some great character portrayals of Bertrand Russell and John Littlewood. The film makes an effort to illustrate how the combined impact of Ramanujan’s isolation from sympathetic peers, loneliness at the long separation from his wife, poor physical condition, and Hardy’s drive to make him rigorously prove his theories, drive him to an early grave. It gives flavour for some of the barriers he faced in the form of obvious institutional and societal racism and the more subtle, unintentional racism of his allies, as exemplified by the little scene where Hardy asks Ramanujan if he enjoyed the college dinner (mutton, which Ramanujan didn’t eat because he was vegetarian). But it falls short, somehow.

Hypernormalisation: The bloke and I watched this three-hour documentary in the run-up to the US election. It’s pretty epic in scope as well as length, as it attempts to draw together historical decisions to explain how we’ve arrived at the present stage of “post-truth” politics. Its narrative begins with the ostracisation of the Syrian government by western powers and heavily leans on the use of Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi as a pawn in a game of global distraction as well as the normalisation of the use of suicide bombers in modern warfare. There are a lot of diversions, including Jane Fonda and artificial intelligence research, which feed into the narrative with varying degrees of comprehensibility. The soundtrack is great (lots of Nine Inch Nails), although it feels like there are a few too many lingering shots of dismembered bodies. That said, I’d recommend it if you have the stomach, because it provides a compelling argument for the way ill-conceived political maneuvering has brought us to the stage where Donald Trump proved a viable candidate for the US presidency. It doesn’t offer any solutions, so it’s a pretty bleak viewing experience, although you may derive a certain hopeless satisfaction in contemplating becoming a devotee of nihilism afterward. Watch it for free on iPlayer here. Viewing requires a UK-based IP address.
So that one thing that could have proved a tiny act of redemption for the shitshow that this year has been - not electing the racist, sexist, orange bigot with no clearly defined sensible policies as president - has not happened.

In a few months, the USA's first black president will be handing over the stewardship of the nation to a man who was endorsed by the Ku Klux Klan.

This is, to put it mildly, not good news for anyone who isn't white, rich and privileged. It is not good news for the rest of the world. I can't do anything other than apologise to my friends and colleagues. I am devastated that this is happening. I am sorry. Very sorry. So, so sorry.

I am not as blindsided by this result as I was by the Brexit vote. Perhaps it's because I lived through the Reagan and both Bush administrations. We didn't think things could get worse then, either. But they can. This is a man who who lies constantly and seemingly with impunity. With a compliant GOP in legislative majority and at least one Supreme Court nomination at his disposal, the damage he can do could well last far beyond the term of his appointment. This is a probability that I must recognise and come to terms with in the following months. And, coming out the other side, be willing to fight, through monetary donations to organisations whose work I believe in, by writing to my congressional representatives and through whatever other means I can of being politically active (suggestions welcome). I am a relatively affluent and privileged person. I can summon up the resources and the energy to fight for the rights and causes of the people who don't have those advantages, and I must do it.
If you're not up on UK politics, there has been a kerfuffle recently because one of the candidates for Conservative Party Leader (and thus Prime Minister) has declared heavily implied that having children confers upon a parent an additional level of empathy, long-sightedness and investment in the future. Hence the other candidate, who is childless, is not as well suited to wield power and lead the party (and thus the country). Both of the candidates are women.

Has the lack of correlation between parenthood and sagacity really been so insufficiently demonstrated by men in power who have children?

ETA: In the time it took me to write this post, Candidate #1 has withdrawn from the leadership race.
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