miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
Marks and Spencer and the National Autistic Society have launched a school uniform range aimed at the parents of autistic children. Note that I say aimed at the parents of autistic children, rather than aimed at autistic children. All the blurb is to do with how easy it is to put on, and how hardwearing it is. The subtext is that it's designed for kids who can't dress themselves. This is clearly aimed at parents.

The other way you can tell that actually autistic people were not involved in this is that if you ask any autistic person what is most important for them in clothing they will tell you it's the fabric it's made of. Many autistic people have comorbid eczema, and a lot of those that don't have sensory issues, which mean that fabric and texture are hugely important in clothing. Something that is in contact with your skin all day needs to be made of something non-irritating; that almost always means 100% natural fibres. Cotton, or bamboo, or silk, or modal. Sometimes wool, but sometimes not. NEVER SODDING POLYESTER. And some of the clothes in that M&S range are 65% polyester. And of course it's very wearying that the only clothing specifically designed to be worn by autistic people is school uniform, because nobody of above school age is autistic, and no autistic child ever wears non-uniform clothing. AND they've "removed pockets for comfort". I have never known an autistic person who didn't want MORE pockets, as long as they are made from 100% natural fibre too.

So what would clothing for autistic people actually look like? Well, from the conversation on twitter today:
  1. Clear, obvious fabric labelling on the rack/shelf. While most of us just want everything 100% cotton, some of us prefer other natural fabrics like linen, and some actively prefer viscose or modal. Some of us can cope with silk or wool, some can't. Every single one of us, though, would like to see fabrics clearly, obviously labelled on the rack, without having to go hunting through the clothes for a tiny illegible care label.

  2. No polyester. Not even a little bit. Not ever. No, not even in linings.

  3. Linings are important! Linings are the bit that is actually in contact with your skin, so they need to be all natural fibres too. Note, though, that this does not mean you can take a garment made out of something horrible and line it with cotton and it will be OK - outer fabrics need to be touchable too.

  4. Care labels to be made of the same fabric as the clothing, not scratchy plastic.

  5. Elastic to be covered with the fabric the clothes are made of, not left to be in contact with your skin.

  6. Flat seams! Or even NO seams!

  7. For Cthulhu's sake, SOMEBODY make some bras we can wear! It is really, really, incredibly difficult to get hold of cotton bras, to the extent that I have considered making my own. And even if/when you DO find them, they are covered in non-cotton frills and lace and fripperies. And have stupid care labels made of plastic right in the middle of your back.

  8. Comfort and fit are much much more important than being on trend. I saw an article the other day that low slung waist trousers are coming back into fashion and actually cried.

  9. Moar pockets, on everything, especially women's clothes - but again, made of the same fabric as the actual clothing

  10. Stop saying things are "cotton touch" or "cotton feel" or "cotton rich". All this does is bugger up searching for cotton things. And actually, make your website searchable by fabric. That would be amazing.
And a clothing store for autistic people?
  1. Would be lit sensibly, not with migraine-inducing lighting.

  2. Would have the afore-mentioned obvious, clear clothing labels on the shelf/rack.

  3. Would sort by size and colour as well as style.

  4. Would have assistants that wait to be approached rather than badgering you the second you enter the shop.

  5. Would not have music at all (many many autistic people love music, but find music that they don't like intensely irritating; whatever music you play some of us will like and some won't) and would ideally have sound baffling so that other people's conversations are not intrusive.

  6. Would open from (say) 12 till 8, rather than 9 to 5. Autistic people are more likely than others to have odd sleep patterns and/or working hours.
Now, if some kind banker or venture capitalist would like to give me a wad of cash to make this a reality... And to M&S and the NAS... I do appreciate that you're trying, and I don't wish to appear ungrateful, but if you consulted any actually autistic people in fomulating that clothing range it's not immediately obvious. Please, please, bear in mind the priorities of actually autistic people, not the parents of autistic children, when making clothing that the autistic people are actually meant to wear. Remember the phrase: nothing about us without us. Thank you.

Posted by JenniferP

Dear Captain,

My best friend, Anna, who I’ve known for many years and love very much, is currently irritating the heck out of me and I don’t know what to do.

She hasn’t had the greatest dating history, and through the years I’ve always been there for her to give advice, be supportive or just be a shoulder to cry on.

However, lately there has been this girl she likes, and no matter how many times I encourage Anna she just wont tell her that she likes her. Instead its constant discussion about a text she sent, what picture she liked on instagram, how she tweets, so on and so forth. When she doesn’t answer a text from Anna I get a hundred texts from her freaking out about how she must be wrong and she doesn’t like her anymore and that she’ll never find anyone.

It. Drives. Me. Batty. And I feel like a terrible friend for feeling that way. From what I’ve observed theres like a 90% chance that this girl likes Anna back. But she just wont tell her that she likes her. Instead she comes to me.

My own dating history has proven to me that its better to be rejected and move on then to obsess over things. However I realize that not everyone feels that way.

If I hear about this girl’s social media usage one more time, I’m probably gonna explode. If she knew that I felt like this, Anna would feel incredibly guilty and bottle everything up, which I don’t want her to do. I just want the conversation to have a little bit of change. Theres only so many times you can comfort a friend for not having a text responded to before you don’t know what to say anymore.

Help!

Want To Be A Good Friend

Dear Want To Be A Good Friend:

I want you to take the weekend and give yourself permission to ignore all texts from Anna about The Amazing Crush Girl. Respond to anything that is not about that, ignore the rest. Mute her if you need to.

Then, I want you to tell Anna, one time, as gently as you can:

Anna, I think you should tell ________ how you feel about her and I hope she feels the same way. If she doesn’t, she’s really missing out! But the way you are constantly monitoring her social media feeds is kinda creepy, or, at least unhealthy for you, and the way you keep texting me every detail of her posts – sometimes hundreds of texts – is not okay. Please stop sharing these details with me, I don’t like it.

Anna’s not going to be happy with you when you say this. She’ll tell you you’re being a bad friend, why don’t you want to listen to her, you’re selfish, etc. etc. etc. There will be some kind of blow-up or argument because Anna is fixated right now and it’s like you are trying to take her favorite toy away.

HOLD FAST.

Don’t argue with her if she characterizes you as selfish, uncaring, etc. It’s a ‘neg’ designed to get you to prove how caring you are by doing what she wants you to do.

Don’t try to correct the record or convince her or engage more deeply.

Your script, to whatever she says, is some version of “Okay! But are you hearing me? I don’t want to talk about Crush Girl anymore. I need you to stop texting me and filling me in on her social media activity. Can you agree to that?

Then end the conversation pretty quickly.

The next thing she’s going to do is test your boundaries. Your job from now in is to ignore all texts about Crush Girl. Only respond to other topics, and reach out about other topics when you want to talk to her. If you gotta mute her for a while, then do it.

When you do hang out, make it very boring to talk about Crush Girl. “Hmmm….interesting…hopefully you can tell her how you feel soon. So, how ’bout those current events?

She won’t like it, but if you keep not engaging, she will probably get it. And, I know you don’t want her to beat herself up or trigger a shame-spiral or make her feel guilty, but her behavior is not healthy or normal right now and a little bit of “what the hell am I doing?” introspection or perspective from a good friend is not the worst thing in the world?

On a related note:

Hi Captain Awkward,

Long time reader, first time writer!

I am in a polyamorous relationship with “Niles.”

Niles is also dating “Daphne.” Daphne is very sweet, but she spends a lot of time brooding about her ex and other woes. She often just disappears on Niles because her feelings about whatever is going on in her life are so intense. Their relationship currently appears to me to be on this rinse and repeat cycle of romance and withdrawal. I see Niles consistently bend and modify his behavior and needs to accommodate her and most of what he passes on to me about what they talk about is: her, her life, her needs, her feelings, and her ex.

Up until now, I have felt pretty supportive of Niles exploring things with Daphne. And to be honest I think Daphne is a really good person but…I just feel really done with hearing about this behavior cycle, I’m done with the mood shifts that go along with it, and I’m tired of watching Niles just shrink himself to fit into Daphne’s life. Niles sincerely believes that she is worthy of a relationship, and if he just stays the course, he will eventually succeed in showing her how to have a supportive and reciprocal relationship. Like okay, maybe he’s right and sees something I don’t but I dunno ….?? Seems like she’s one of those people who is an amazing person but has trouble with relationships.

Up until this point, I have been more than willing to lend an ear and advice to Niles about how all of this is going with Daphne. We’ve had a lot of deep talks about his feels and what to do and how to relate to her and all that. And now I’ve sort of arrived at this point where I feel like the training wheels have got to come off. It’s been six months of the same stuff with Daphne. He says she’s gotten better but it all smells the same to me. I am worried that I will become the outlet for stuff the two of them need to be hashing out if I haven’t already. Sometimes I worry that my emotional support of him in that dynamic might be making up for what he isn’t getting with her and that seems unfair to me.

Now that I’ve sorta reached my limit, I literally I don’t know what to say anymore to him when he says to me things like, “Oh we stayed up way past when I needed to sleep talking on the phone and I am tired and the conversation felt kinda awkward but it was sooo worth it” or “I haven’t heard from her in days but she needs space now and I’m proud of her for finally communicating her needs” or “omg she is so amazing and being with her is so perfectly wonderful… I feel so alive, I simply cannot imagine my life without her” or “she’s not romantic these days.” Obviously I’m hamming it up but only SLIGHTLY. Actually barely.

To me, that wide variety of statements seems…not good?

He and I have talked openly about how things with them are kinda weird sometimes. But he also knowingly marches on and is very intensely committed on doing so because…love.

So them’s the breaks. I respect his choices but I also want to maintain my sanity in all of this because I feel as though I’ve been looped in to everything. I want to quietly withdraw any emotional life support I have been providing for this relationship with Daphne. I love Niles and I don’t think this is really doing much for him even if he can’t see it. He knows what I think and he has acknowledged the validity of what I’m observing but…love. So pushing my opinions on him louder and with more intensity isn’t going to do anything other than create tension between us.

And truth be told, if the roles were reversed, barring actual danger to me that I couldn’t foresee, I probably wouldn’t want Niles coming at me all the time about how much my relationship with Daphne leaves to be desired…even if he was technically correct, I probably wouldn’t be able to really hear it because…love. I don’t think Niles is in any actual danger nor do I think I am.

But, despite the fact that I’m not in danger, things don’t feel neutral-to-beneficial for everyone involved anymore. To me, it feels as though their thing is draining emotional energy more than it’s contributing to it. Niles doesn’t seem to mind the one-sided nature of their relationship too much; so maybe I should stop caring about that? I care for Niles deeply so it’s really hard to not care.

Maybe the thing I should focus on is that lending emotional support for/having to interact with his relationship with Daphne feels draining to me (and to me, writing to an advice column for help counts as “expending emotional energy on the Daphne thing.”).

I wish someone could look into a crystal ball and tell me when things will change for the better. Till then, I need to figure out how to radiate “bland acceptance of the situation without endorsement.” I don’t want to get painted as that partner who “can’t polyamory” but at the same time I’m just totally over the Daphne thing. I also need to figure out reasonable boundaries and ways to cope with the awkwardness in solo interactions with Niles about Daphne, with Daphne by herself, and the three of us.

How do??

Signed,
Straight Outta Fucks to Give

Dear Straight Outta Fucks:

What would happen if you said something like this to Niles, the next time your time together becomes completely overrun with Daphne-talk:

  • Hey Niles, let me interrupt you – I’ve sort of reached my limit for talking about Daphne and the ups and downs y’all are having right now. But I’m glad to see you! Let’s talk about something else!” 
  • Niles, you’re probably not doing this on purpose, but it feels like all our time together is spent talking about your relationship with Daphne. I’m starting to get pretty uncomfortable with it, and I’d like you to find a different sounding board for your ups and downs with her.
  • The time for talking about Daphne and her feelings is on your dates with Daphne. Right now you’re on a date with me. I’m going to go get a glass of water, do you need anything?
  • Niles, I don’t really care about Daphne or her exes or her feelings about the world. I’ve been trying to be supportive and a good listener, but when does it end?
  • “Niles, this sounds like a conversation to have with Daphne. I’m not really interested in knowing more.” 
  • Hey Niles, sounds like this thing with Daphne is really occupying your thoughts. Maybe we should reschedule our date for another time when we can focus on the two of us?
  • Huh, what do you think you’ll do about that?”

Would the world end?

Is Niles so fragile that he cannot hear the word “no” about this topic?

Would he use your “no” to accuse you of not really caring about him, like, how dare you not be interested in something so important to him?

Would he accuse you of being jealous of Daphne?

Is it worth finding out to never have to hear about her again?

There’s something in here about emotional labor and fairness and balance and time. To me, he is sucking up all the time he spends with you asking you to do emotional labor and listen to him and comfort him and counsel him about another girl he’s in love with. Is that cool with you? I know you’re worried about appearing jealous, but if we changed “jawing about Daphne” to “Reading the 1972 Encyclopedia Brittanica aloud” it would still be uncool of Niles to do if you indicated you aren’t interested. Obviously when we partner with someone, we all agree to a certain amount of “if it interests you a lot I guess it can interest me at least a little bit” but maintaining that deal requires good faith and self-awareness on both sides. Where is it inscribed that Thou Shalt Let Thy Partners Monologue Forever About Shit That Bores You Without Interruption? (Hint: I don’t think that is written anywhere). And, say you were jealous of how much energy he spends on Daphne and how much he expects you to give a shit about her. Where is it written that you can never feel jealous, or pissed off, or annoyed when someone takes you for granted?

He could tell a friend, or a therapist, or a diary, or howl it at the moon. It doesn’t have to be you, at the expense of your own enjoyment of your relationship.

So, here are my suggestions:

  • Who else are you dating outside of the Niles/Daphne sphere? Throw some love and time and energy into that person or people and give yourself some breathing room from Niles. And, go hang out with friends and family. Nurture all of your relationships, not just Niles. He sounds kinda annoying right now and maybe some space will help him work it all out.
  • Speak directly to Niles and tell you that you were once happy to hear about Daphne but you think it’s crossed a line and now you’d like him to stop.
  • Make it very boring for him to talk about Daphne with you. Him: :Big dramatic Daphne tale.: You:Huh. Interesting. I got new dish towels, did you notice them? They really tie the room together.” Do not let him endlessly process this with you.
  • Treat Daphne with a normal amount of polite friendliness but maybe keep it at arms length? It’s not her fault that you know all of her business, and I think what you have here is a Niles problem vs. a Daphne problem, but if you’re not close now maybe you’re not meant to be.
  • Do the three of you need to hang out right now? I’d be a hard pass about that, like, “Have fun, you two, I’m busy!” You asked when things might get better, and I don’t know, but they kinda suck right now, so believe the suck until you see something different.

I would want to know if I were stretching someone’s listening capacity to its limit, wouldn’t you? Not everyone wants that information – “Anna” and “Niles” probably don’t right now because they don’t want anything that will break the spell of the crushes they are involved in –  but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need to be said. Directness is kindness here.

Moderator note: Please spell out the whole word – polyamorous, polyamory – vs. the abbreviation”poly” here in the future. For more context, read this. It’s been brewing for a while and it’ s time to make it official CaptainAwkward.com comment policy moving forward. We’re not changing old threads, and we’re also not debating the change in comments, so if you disagree with the change or have feelings about it you can process it in the forums or your own webspace. Thank you!

 

 

 

 


Posted by JenniferP

Hi Captain,

I have a friend (I’ll call him “Dave”) whom I haven’t seen in person in years, but am still in touch with on social media. Several months ago, he messaged me to tell me that he liked me and would like to go on a date sometime. I didn’t know him very well at the time, but I liked him enough to at least give him a chance. Though the date never happened, we did message each other regularly for a while.

I’m very involved in local theater (we met doing a show together, actually–I’ve stuck with theater since then and he hasn’t), and he mentioned at one point that he’d like to see me in a play sometime. I had just been cast in a show at the community theater in the town where we both live, so I gave him the details for that.

Well, it eventually became apparent that Dave is not a guy I’m interested in dating. I don’t think he’s a bad person; I’m just not attracted to him. At all. When I told him this, he put on the whole “but I just want to be friends, can’t we just talk and hang out as FRIENDS?” act. He then continued to keep sending flirty messages while denying that he was flirting. (“Can’t I tell my friend she’s pretty?” “Can’t I let my friend know when I’m thinking about her?”) I stopped responding to his messages and blocked him from viewing everything I post.

Now the aforementioned community theater play I’m in is just a few weeks away from opening, and I’m very worried that he’s going to show up. (I am very annoyed at my past self for telling him I was in it!) Anyone can buy a ticket, so I can’t exactly tell him he can’t come. At this theater, the actors always do a little meet-and-greet with the audience after the show, so if he does come I’m going to have to interact with him. My anxiety about this is sort of ruining what would otherwise be a really fun and exciting thing. What do I do? Help me, Captain!

Sincerely,

Exit, Pursued by Creepy Dude (She, her)

Dear Exit,

This sucks and I’m sorry, but (good news!) you don’t have to interact with him if he shows up and you don’t have to suffer in silence or in secret.

Talk to the theater and to your friends at the theater. “I had an acquaintance who had a crush on me. He got a little stalker-y and wouldn’t take no for an answer, I’m afraid he’s gonna come to the show. He might not come, but it would make me feel more comfortable if we could put some safety measures in place just in case.” Ask the theater what they’ve done about situations like this in the past. Ask the box office to let you know if “Dave” buys a ticket in advance. You’ll still be freaked out and upset that day if you know he’s coming, but you’ll know what’s coming and you can tell the stage manager that you’ll be nope-ing right out of the post-show meet & greet that night.

If he shows up spontaneously, you can still handle it especially if you have the stage manager & fellow cast & crew to help you. Decide on a code word. You can say the code word if you spot him, and they can enthusiastically meet & greet him – all cheerful and friendly –  without raising a fuss while you slip out the side door.

Dave, if you’re out there reading this, nobody wants you to go to that show and everybody sees through your wisp of plausible deniability for your pushy behavior. SHE DOESN’T LIKE YOU.

Letter Writer, I’m wishing you a good show, free of having to see this dude.

This is a good callback to the discussion about persistence from earlier this week. If someone is saying no to you, and you keep pushing, it’s not just a “missed connection.” It can start to become a fear/safety issue very quickly. Is Dave dangerous? I don’t know for sure, but he’s demonstrated that he doesn’t take “no” for an answer, so he’s made danger part of the Letter Writer’s calculus and ruined what should be a fun thing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


While I am moaning...

Aug. 18th, 2017 11:05 pm[personal profile] lovingboth
lovingboth: ([default])
.. my earphones seem to be broken on return from BiCon: there's a problem just before the socket end that doesn't look to be fixable without the sort of soldering I can't do and which would cost more than their replacement cost to have done.

Given that they're seven years old - they were the set that came with the HTC Desire I bought after BiCon 2010! - I perhaps shouldn't complain too much. The average life expectancy for a pair of L's is a lot closer to seven weeks, rather than seven years, but that means she's worked through all my spares.

The main reason for moaning is that the 'foam cover, held in by the shape of your ear' type have become a lot harder to find thanks to the rise of the 'silicone mushroom, in your ear canal' type.

Which I really don't like.

When Amazon had a very good price on them, I got a pair of SoundMAGIC ES18 ones back in 2014. While the sound is good, every time something taps on the cables, you can feel it in a way that you can't with the proper :) sort. I don't like the feel or the increased noise isolation. They're also harder to protect because, as I'm sure many people know thanks to the sort of other things that gets BiCon sessions of their own, once silicone is torn, you can't repair it.

So I'm currently looking at the Sennheiser MX 375. I've had another pair of Sennheiser earphones that weren't nearly as comfortable as others, but I can't remember which they were - L broke them.

Any other suggestions?

"Warding gestures*

Aug. 18th, 2017 02:48 pm[personal profile] rosefox
rosefox: A person in a gas mask. (safety)
My body: A tiny bit of post-nasal drip leading to slight throat soreness, probably just allerg—

Me: NINE HOURS OF SLEEP, STEAMY SHOWER WITH PINE AND MINT ESSENCE, NASAL RINSE, SALT-WATER GARGLE, ANTIHISTAMINE NASAL SPRAY, STEROID NASAL SPRAY, CLARITIN, AGGRESSIVE TOOTHBRUSHING

My body: —look, forget i said anything, okay?


I refuse to get sick. REFUSE. R E F U S E. J has had a horrid cough for a week and is on antibiotics and prednisone (when they prescribe prednisone to the guy with insomnia, you know it's bad), X is wrapping up a course of antibiotics for a throat infection, and J had to do that for his own throat infection last month. So far I've been fighting off all the respiratory bugs Kit brings home from daycare, but I don't take my ability to do that for granted. And I can't take most antibiotics without serious mood effects because apparently I depend on my gut flora for emotional management, so I have to be extremely diligent about my preventive care.

I'm going to go have spicy curry for lunch and drink some ginger honey tea. Fuck off, germs.
spikesgirl58: (just beware)
For the record -  From the Merrium/Webster online dictionary - Anal or anal-retentive - giving too much attention to details in a way that annoys other people.

1. What are you anal about?
2. Why that and not something else?

3. Are you more or less anal than you were as a young person?

4. When you are suddenly confronted by a situation over which you have no control, what do you do first?

5. Do you wish you could be more or less attentive these days?





Copy and paste to your own journal, then reply to this post with a link to your answers. If your journal is private or friends-only, you can post your full answers in the comments below.

If you'd like to suggest questions for a future Friday Five, then do so on
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**Remember that we rely on you, our members, to help keep the community going. Also, please remember to play nice. We are all here to answer the questions and have fun each week. We repost the questions exactly as the original posters submitted them and request that all questions be checked for spelling and grammatical errors before they're submitted. Comments re: the spelling and grammatical nature of the questions are not necessary. Honestly, any hostile, rude, petty, or unnecessary comments need not be posted, either.**

Helsinki, Worldcon

Aug. 18th, 2017 12:04 pm[personal profile] liv
liv: Table laid with teapot, scones and accoutrements (yum)
That was not the Worldcon I would have liked; I'd hoped to do as several of my friends did, and travel overland and explore some of the region. Or at least to really get immersed in the con itself. And I'd have liked a proper holiday with my partners and their children, which hasn't really happened this year though we've had a few short breaks.

In reality I was only able to go for the long weekend. I spent an eye-watering amount of money on a trip that didn't quite work for me, between flights, accommodation, Worldcon membership (when I actually only ended up attending for half a day), and just general living expenses in a not very well planned trip to an expensive city. It feels churlish to complain about being in a position to spend a bit too much on a less than perfect trip, and in many ways it was good, just not quite what I'd hoped for.

more details )
miss_s_b: (Default)
smhwpf: (Default)
It is fucking scary.

Nazis, Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, gathering in large numbers, armed, chanting "blood and soil" and "Jews will not replace us", violently attacking and even murdering those who protest them.

And a President in the Whitehouse who clearly demonstrates his sympathy with them, praising the defence of monuments to those who fought to preserve slavery, and calling those who protest Fascism as bad as fascists.

While running an Administration with a clear agenda of keeping out immigrants, denying black people the vote, abandoning all efforts for promoting civil rights, and stepping up mass incarceration.

I have white privilege. I do not face the systemic oppression that people of colour face, and which the political establishment maintains and promotes, or at best takes half-hearted measures to moderate.

But I am also Jewish. Or, at least, Jewish. Christian by religion, not actively part of a Jewish community. But I, and members of my family, are very clearly on the target list of the tiki-torch wielders at Charlottesville, if not of the more respectable racists in Congress. So yes, this is not an abstract or distant issue for me.

This by way of prelude.

That Nazis, white supremacists, and their enablers in the halls of power need to be vigorously opposed is not something in question among my friends and progressive people generally. How to do so is a matter of legitimate discussion.

Should you punch the Nazi? Under what circumstances? Should protest against them be kept purely non-violent? Does using violence in return to their violence make things better or worse? I don't think the answers to these questions are as obvious for those with a modicum of human decency and political awareness as the question of whether they should be condemned and opposed.

For a Christian, Jesus's teaching and action are also a central consideration. "Love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be true children of your Father in Heaven, who makes the sun to shine on the righteous and the unrighteous, and the rain to fall on good and evil alike". Or, in secular terms, there is a human being inside every Fascist, with the possibility for change, for love, for a different path to the one they're on.

That's not simply a matter of sentimental wooliness, it's a fact. Daryl Davis, the black musician who befriends KKK members, and has got 200 of them to leave the hate group, for example. Then, lately, I read a Sojourners article, Confessions of a former white supremacist, anout the group Life After Hate. There's an anecdote about one of the people in it, when he was still a Nazi, being served at McDonalds by an African-American woman, who saw the swastika tattoo on his hand, looked at him, and said "Oh. honey, you're so much better than that". And it didn't make him turn around and repent on the spot, but "That seed germinated for years until the man left white nationalism and dedicated himself to helping others leave".

[Geeking out], it sort of reminds me of when Dream of the Endless says to Hob Gadling at one of their Centennial meetings, when the latter has become a slave trader, "It is a poor thing to enslave another". That's all. And several books later we find these few sparse words likewise gnawed at Hob's soul until he stopped. [/geekery]

So yes, I believe that we should never forget the humanity even of the worst people, those who most hate us.

That does not, however, answer the question of what to do about hundreds of armed, torch-bearing Nazis gatheing in a city to march, spew hatred, intimidate, and commit acts of violence.

The first option I would rule out is "Just ignore them, they're a tiny insignificant bunch of losers who are no real threat. Just don't give them th attention".

Tell that to an African American, a Jew, an LGBT person, or a lot of straight white folks for that matter, in a town like Charlottesville where they come to play. From the articles I've read, they were an intimidating presence well before the actual day of the rally. At the rally, they surrounded a synagogue and an African American church. The synagogue was prevented from holding their Sabbath service, and went to the step of hiding away their Torah scrolls. (The police did nothing).

As for the oldest white supremacist group in the US, the KKK, they were orchestrating lynchings within living memory, with complete impunity. When Fascists gather in large numbers, they are a very serious threat.

I do not think it at all likely that explicit white supremacist groups, of the type that paraded in Charlottesville, will take over the government. I don't think we'll see a President Richard Spencer. But when we already have a government that is pushing hard against every gain people of colour have made over the past 60 years, and one of the two major US parties moving further and further to the right, embracing voter suppression and vicious misogyny and homophobia in the name of Christian Fundamentalism, these most extreme groups could play a significant role as the 'tip of the spear' of an increasingly authoritarian polity - in addition to the violence and terror they can spread at a local level.

And, well, I don't think it at all likely that actual Nazis will take political power, but the original Nazis started pretty small too. Unlikely is not the same as impossible. I'm not keen to take the risk.

So I think that left unopposed, far right groups would become more and more emboldened, dangerous, and probably bigger. They need to be confronted, in the streets, opposed and if possible shut down wherever they go, denied the possibility of becoming a more serious threat.

The police have shown, time and again, that they will not be the people to do this. Most police officers are not affiliated with the far right themselves, but they are a reactionary institution, a highly racist institution, and tend to see the left, not the right, as the ones that need to be kept down. Black Lives Matter, the Standing Rock Water Protectors, striking workers, etc., these all regularly find themselves on the wrong end of batons, tasers, tear gas and worse. Fascists far less often.

It is not primarily about beating Nazis up (satisfying as it may be when that happens), it is not about doing them injury, it is primarily about getting sufficient numbers in the streets to block their path, drown them out, make it clear that they are not welcome and will not be allowed to spread their evil, and basically get them skulking off home with their tails between their legs.

The British experience suggests that shutting Fascist groups down on the streets before they can get too big can be effective. The Battle of Cable Street in 1936, when Oswald Moseley's British Union of Fascists, aided by the police, were prevented from marching through the East End of London with its large Jewish community, by a large crowd of Jews, Communists and Socialists, and local workers, is widely seen as having been one of the factors in stemming the tide of Fascism in Britain. A generation later, when the rapidly-growing National Front tried to march through Lewisham in South London, they were likewise stopped and beaten off by left-wing counter protestors, their own internal literature shows they saw it as a defeat that harmed their momentum.

This is a small sample, and moreover there were a lot of other factors at work, and the exact role of these events in the political outcomes is of course highly debatable. I don't know in the end what is going to be most effective in stopping these groups, and nor does anyone else, for certain. But my best guess is that putting up a large and powerful street opposition to them will probably help, and that letting them rally and march unimpeded is dangerous.

If that can be done without violence, great. But, and here's the but, Nazis and their allies are not non-violent. They showed that very, very clearly in Charlottesville, as often before. They will, they do, they did, use violence, sometimes lethal violence, against those who stand in their way. So if you are going to protest against Nazis in the streets, then either you need to be willing to get beaten to a pulp, or you need to be willing to engage in self-defence, or allow those more prepared and capable to defend themselves and you.

Parts of the Civil Rights movement, led by MLK and others, did take the approach of allowing themselves to be subjected to police violence without fighting back, and it was arguably very effective at changing public opinion in favour of their cause and forcing political action. This was not the only aspect of the movement though, and I think that the Malcolm X wing, the Black Panthers, and so on, were also part of what brought about change. Who knows for sure what the balance was. But this is a rather differnent case. Bad as the police are, even less restraint can be expected from a white supremacist mob. Fighting back against a heavily armed police force in a pitched battle is generally going to be a pretty clearly losing option. Nazis can be outnumbered and beaten. This is not so much about changing public opinion in favour of equal rights, public opinion is already against the Nazis, it's about stopping an incipient movement from growing and spreading.

Besides, I don't think you're going to get too many takers for "Let's go and get our heads kicked in by Nazis".

At Charlottesville, those practicing pure non-violence and those willing to engage in self-defence found themselves in sometimes uneasy alliance; a group of clergy, of several faiths, along with Professor Cornel West and others, were among the former, linking arms, singing, putting their bodies in front of the Nazis, incredibly bravely, and willing ultimately to face the consequences. But at one critical moment when they were about to come under very serious attack, they were protected by a group of AntiFa.

West said, "The anti-fascists, and then, crucial, the anarchists, because they saved our lives, actually. We would have been completely crushed, and I’ll never forget that. Meaning what? Meaning that you had the police holding back, on the one hand, so we couldn’t even get arrested. We were there to get arrested. We couldn’t get arrested, because the police had pulled back"

I would never, never belittle what those clergy did, or say it was worthless. I've been involved in non-violent direct action in the face of state violence. But I would certainly, like West and the others, be very glad of the AntiFa stepping in. Is that hyporcytical, to engage in active non-violence, but be willing to have others use violence to protect you? I don't know. Maybe it is. I don't actually care if it is a bit, if it can bring about positive effects. Different roles, different gifts. Not everyone is physically cut out for serious fisticuffs, whatever their ideological approach, but as I say, sheer numbers are most important (so I'm told by one who knows this stuff, anyway, and I'm inclined to believe it).

If you do have the numbers, the likelihood is that you will never have to worry about when and whether to use violence in self-defence, because when far right groups are heavily outnumbered, the police will generally form a very solid cordon around them. (Like I say, much more willing to protect the Nazis than their opponents). The Fascists will not be able to go anywherem they will be restricted to making their speeches and chanting their slogans in their little cordon, hopefully drowned out with plenty of whistles and vuvuzelas and shouting from the other side. Some of the more militant AntiFa might try to break through police lines to get at them, but those who do not wish to do so can remain with the rest of the crowd, making a joyful noise. (This is pretty much how it went down at one anti-Fascist counter protests I went to in Stockholm, although the cops kept the sides so far apart that we couldn't really drown them out.)

From everything I can gather, overwhelmingly the violence in Charlottesville was from the Nazis, and that used by the counter protesters was mostly a matter of self defence. Is going beyond that, actively seeking to attack far right gatherings, justified? Is it effective? I don't know, and I don't know. I would be unlikely to engage in it myself. Getting a bit old, and not in sufficient physical shape, apart from anything else. I'm not going to condemn those who do.

This is not all a matter of theory for me. There's a far-right 'Free Speech' rally in Boston on Saturday, I'm going on the counter-protest. It looks like there will be good numbers. 10,000 have clicked "Going", so hopefully we will be in the thousands at least, whcih will be way more than the Peach Freezers. I will be with a group of people I know. I will be prepared. I will not do anything stupid. I do not intend to be in the front lines. There's a Q&A on the Facebook page for the counter protest. One of the questions is "Are the organizers committed to non-violence?", to which the answer given is "The organizers of this event are committed to community safety, survival, and protecting marginalized communities." I am on board with this.

Where did we leave things with loving your enemies and so forth? I do believe in this. I think it is pretty crictial to calling oneself a Christian. (Though a whole lot of Christians seem to have missed that memo). it is important not to lose sight of your enemy's humanity. I do believe that hatred, even when most understandable (and sometimes emotionally unavoidable), is corrosive at an individual and a collective level. (Though the hatred of the victim for the abuser and oppressor should never be put on the same moral plane as the abuse and oppression itself).

Love of enemies is not about entertaining warm fuzzy feelings for Nazis, it is about remembering that they are also a child of God, on whom the same sun shines and rain falls, and desiring and seeking their ultimate good - part of which of course involves abandoning Nazism. I don't think it means you do not try to stop your enemies from harming you or others, especially when they are gathering in a large group with evil intent.

Incidentally, Daryl Davis's vocation of meeting and talking to Klansmen while black has not always been the safest of pursuits. He says that he's only got into a couple of physical fights as a result though, and won them both.

"Have I told you lately"

Aug. 17th, 2017 08:38 pm[personal profile] rosefox
rosefox: Me looking at Kit and both of us grinning. (me and kit)
It's my late night at the office. I videocalled home to say goodnight to the baby. They were tired, so after a while they waved bye-bye. I said "Okay, Kit, bye-bye! I love you!" and signed love you.

And they signed love back.

Me: [tears]
X: [tears]
Kit: [earnestly signing love at the camera]

My baby told me they love me. I'll just be here in a little melted puddle forever.

British Parliament

Aug. 17th, 2017 04:21 pm[personal profile] penlessej
penlessej: (Default)
This clip from a session of the House of Commons back in 2013 in which Rory Stewart and Jacob Rees-Mogg debate human rights makes me super jealous of the Mother Parliament. Canadian parliament cannot hold a candle to this level of debate and civility. It is an awesome debate as well, certainly worth a watch.
penlessej: (Default)
Many of you are probably not aware of this, but I have a fancy for delicious cocktails. M. and I are certainly those people who when you come to our home we have a giant booze cabinet and probably a signature cocktail on the go.

For my first entry I decided to showcase my favourite drink and really the one that got me into fancy cocktails to begin with. It is time to rethink your gin and tonics.

Gin and tonics became famous in middle class England during the height of the British Empire, when India was still very much under British control. In order to combat the spread of malaria among British soldiers, a daily issue of tonic water was given because in 1800 it was discovered by Scottish doctor George Cleghorn that quinine present in tonic water could be used to prevent and treat the disease. However, tonic water alone is very bitter and not refreshing, which is especially important when you are a British soldier posted in far-away and very hot India. So the soldiers began to mix the issue with gin (a local Indian botanical spirit), and lime and water. Thus the gin and tonic was born. The cocktail itself became popular during this time as soldiers returned home to England and shared the refreshing beverage with their civilian friends. Within years gin and tonics were a staple among middle class English-people as a statement of worldliness and a symbol of the diversity of the entire British Empire.

The traditional gin and tonic is very simple (duh, it was made by British soldiers after all). You get an ounce of gin over ice with tonic and garnished with a lime. You can squirt some extra lime juice in, or simply plop the lime wedge into the drink and enjoy. However, the problem with adding lime to the mix from a mixology perspective is that gin and tonic both are already very acidic. Adding lime simply makes the drink more acidic (and a little more bitter albeit with some sweet). So we can re-think the gin and tonic by perhaps adding a different garnish.

Now for this drink, I highly recommend Hendrick's gin which is brewed in Scotland using a blend of traditional and non-traditional techniques that involve steeping the alcohol in traditional gin aromatics with the addition of cucumber extract and rose peddles (see where I am going with this). The result is a truly fine gin with a hint of fruity after-notes. But I must stress that gin and tonics when you add cucumber are good with any gin, even those terrible bar gins that are better suited (in my opinion) for removing paint from cars than human consumption (yes, Beefeater I am looking right at you!).

The following is the penlessej way of putting this drink together.

1) Start with a clean and dry tumbler or rocks glass (no need for these tall glasses and certainly stay away from coffee mugs, come on now what is wrong with you we are making art in a glass here!).

2) Add ice. You can fill to the brim or just add a few chunks. If you are really fancy you might use ball ice which melts slower. Doesn't matter.

3) Add one slice of English cucumber on top of the ice and pour over one ounce of Hendrick's gin.

4) Add tonic water. Now you can go with cheap tonic water that is plain or you can dig out the fancier stuff that has infused botanicals, etc. Doesn't matter. I prefer just a plain tonic but you can be adventurous and try out different infused flavours without question.

5) Do not stir the drink(!), pouring the tonic should stir up the gin enough. Stirring will just make the ice break up and melt faster, and no one wants that. It also induces little bubbles into the entire drink and that just looks weird in my opinion.

6) Add a cucumber slice or twist to garnish over the rim (to be left alone or added to drink but the lucky person who gets to consume this delicious beverage). You can also add a sprig of mint if you are feeling really adventurous, it adds a little freshness to the flavour of the drink when use but be aware that some people really do not like mint flavour.

Gin and Tonic with Cucumber

If you are feeling really adventurous and want to take your drink to the next level; you can muddle some cucumber to add before the gin instead of a slice. This will really bring out the flavour of the cucumber and elevates the drink without question. It also makes the whole thing turn a slight green colour which looks cool in the glass in the sun because the quinine gives off a cobalt blue colour-- pretty cocktails.

What you get? A delicious gin and tonic with all of the good-head-lightening and social lubricating effects of gin but without the acidity. Don't be surprised if she goes down faster than expected, this is an extremely refreshing and tasty drink and perfect for summer days. It is also great because you can make a big batch of it and serve it right from a pitcher with friends-- or for you, either is cool (just don't be driving anything afterward).

If you use the recipe or try out the drink yourself, please let me know. This drink is leaps and bounds my favourite drink of them all and is a staple in my house just not during the summer but all year round.

(no subject)

Aug. 17th, 2017 09:43 pm[personal profile] ludy
ludy: a painting i did looking in a mirror (Default)
I have a new laptop (huge thanks to the wonderful [personal profile] oilrig for sorting it after my old emergency one stopped usefully working (which was somehow more annoying than the previous one actually stopping working because it wasn't taunting me by seeming like it should be usable). So there will prolly be more posts that need a keyboard and/or dictation software here soon.
But not today because i misjudged how far along in my convalesce i actually am and tried to do too much and need to go splat now...
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
I went to Corfu! I was introduced to Corfiot bean stew! I was a fan. I am also struggling to track down a recipe that will let me recreate the But That's Amazing Though that I experienced there, because it's generally made with fish and there are relatively few recipes online, which means my ability to take the average of multiple recipes is limited. Nonetheless!

Read more... )

... which I served up with The Rice Of My People, which I'd apparently somehow not made for A before; he is a Fan. It turns out. Read more... )
andrewducker: (Default)
Monday is my birthday, and to celebrate Jane is going to show me around Paris for a long weekend. We're off tomorrow morning, and arriving back on my actual Birthday (Monday), which is _also_ the anniversary of the first time she hugged me (after she came to the airport to meet me off the plane back from my trip around the Southlands).

I arrived home to discover that she had made this wonder in the living room:


And I am looking forward to being allowed to open any of the things underneath it!

(Jim is being left with strict instructions that he is not allowed to eat any of the boxes. Or the tree. Or be sick on any of them. Or peek inside.)

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