thessalian: (facepalm)
So somehow - and I'm not sure how I managed this, considering the timeline involved - I mastered the keyboard controls for Mass Effect. Seriously; I came home, thought that I would give the keyboard another shot rather than try to change the settings on my Xpadder profile for the 360 controller again, and I started right from the beginning of the Eden Prime mission as sort of a warm-up act. Surprisingly, I did really well, and got through it with a minimum of fuss, beyond the problem with Eden Prime blowing up with me on it. Yeah, Saren's a dick. And I eventually had to Google the location of the explosive charges because I couldn't find the last one. Now I'm in the Citadel, poking at things in a typical 'doing random shit for money' sort of way and trying to track down Garrus.

I also have a pre-game story in my head for my Earthborn street-rat-made-good war hero Shep. Because I'm like that.

I will probably at some point have a bit of a rant about how shit the wonderful world of the internet seems to be going at the moment - for instance, Google tracking its users universally across all its services and sharing data on user activity on all of them, which really is just turning the damn thing into Facebook and reducing the whole right to privacy thing given the hurdles they put on using a pseudonym on Google services. (Incidentally, I am now looking for another RSS feed reader, as that and searches are the only thing I use Google for now anyway.) But right now I am not in the mood. Partly this is because the coffee has not kicked in yet, I am fed up with the typing and on the whole, I want the weekend to be now, please.
thessalian: (Rant)
So ... I don't really like linkspam posts; I always figure that the point of a blog is to actually say shit. But I have to start with linkspam because honestly, I don't even know where to begin anymore.

So let's start with ACTA. This is a 'trade agreement' that has already been formally signed by European governments. It goes before the European Parliament soon - very, very soon. Apparently, being transparent about exactly what is going on and the process by which this thing is going to hit would 'severely interfere with the complex ratification process' ... by which I assume they mean that if people actually understood this, they would not want it and would ask that it not actually be ratified. But at its essence, we've heard it before - this is the one that makes ISPs and access providers legally responsible for policing the traffic of their users, and shut down those who infringe. Considering that this would punish the innocent as well as the guilty, and is a gross invasion of privacy besides, it's actually terrifying that it's being pushed through as a trade agreement despite imposing legal sanctions, and is essentially bypassing the democratic process entirely.

The words 'WHAT THE FUCK?!?' come to mind.

Also, the US shouldn't celebrate the end of SOPA and PIPA yet. Not only are these still more or less being discussed (Obama just doesn't like the language; he didn't like the language of NPAA either at first, and he hasn't vetoed it yet), there's the Protecting Children from Internet Pornography Act. This would oblige ISPs to monitor everything done on the internet by its customers and keep records of everything - internet activity, addresses, bank details, IP addresses you've been assigned, everything - for eighteen months. Who gets to look at this information? The government, on request. Note the word 'warrant' is not mentioned at any point. This ... there are no words for this.

Then there's Chris Dodd of the MPAA, calling out those politicians that pretty much screams at those politicians to whom he's thrown financial support to 'stay bought'. Now, campaign donations are one thing, but out and out saying that the politicians can expect an end to those donations if they don't do exactly what he says strikes me as Dodd shooting himself in the foot. He says this like he expects no legal repercussions from a near-direct admission that his 'campaign donations' are just plain bribes. And the worst part? He probably isn't going to see any legal repercussions.

And coming back to the UK, where undercover police infiltrate and sabotage protest groups, to the point where they establish long-term relationships with activists, have children with said activists under their aliases and then vanish, to only receive word of their children by police reports. And ... this is okay, somehow? The kids thing is one thing - despicable and wrong, but one thing. But to openly admit that undercover police are infiltrating legitimate protest groups to sabotage them? When our last protest march looked like something out of V for Vendetta?

Voting has failed. Political protest is being crippled at every opportunity. The people who are running the show are now openly admitting to the measures they'll take to get what they want, and 'what they want' is clearly not synonymous with 'the will of the people who elected them'. What exactly do we have to do to take the power back?

A friend of mine on Tumblr was saying that she was sick to the back teeth of reading about SOPA and PIPA, about how it wouldn't be the end of the world even if these things did pass. But with the shit we're already finding out about - the stuff that gets outed in the news and goes entirely unpunished - are we really expected to believe in 'if you've nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear'? So-called democratic governments, much like honey badger, do not give a shit about the people who elected them. They have no shits to give. And now we're pretty clear on the fact that whoever we elect is bought, and expected to stay bought ... not to mention that every avenue of protest against this state of affairs is going to be spied on, sabotaged and shut down at any opportunity, and by any means necessary. Now, I know that it's always been that way, but it's getting more corrupt and more obvious and this is not what it's supposed to be like! Do we really want to live like this?

What is it going to take to make government 'by the people and for the people' again?
thessalian: (Missing the Point)
I've been thinking on and off about SOPA lately. I think most of you are aware of the "Stop Online Piracy Act" by this point, though why I'm assuming that I'm not entirely sure. I still haven't seen a single f'ing mention of it in any major news outlet - not the BBC, not the Guardian, certainly not the Metro, and I don't think it's that different in the US than it is here.

And oddly? It's this silence that makes me as virulently anti-SOPA as I am.

Look, it's like this: SOPA gives the power to have entire sites shut down on just a suspicion of copyright infringement. No investigation, no innocent-until-proven, and certainly no time to take down that single bit of offending material. Whole site can just be shut down until it's sorted out whether the site owner is guilty of copyright infringement or not. That could take months.

Imagine doing that to LJ. "Oh, someone posted a screencap!" or something equally stupid. Or Tumblr. Or Twitter. Or any of the ways that we as information-loving folks have actually spread word about things like SOPA (and, prior to that, the NDAA) in the first place. Without those, most of us would have no idea about this sort of shit, because the big media franchises sure as hell aren't covering it, no matter how newsworthy it is.

We don't really need evidence of how far into each other's pockets the news media corporations and the politicians are at this point. While journalists were once proud of being the ones who broke Watergate wide open, the folks who get employed in Big News these days are generally the ones who accept and revel in the fact that a large percentage of the people seem to care more about a politician's genitalia and what they're doing with said genitalia than policy. The only ones who seem to actually care about the shit that matters, instead of just the shit that sells, are the ones who aren't being paid for it - or at least, not getting paid well. The internet is not just for porn, or for piracy - it's the only place freelancers have left to actually talk about actual substantial news ... well, at least that isn't the Podunk Times out of Nowhere, Middle America, anyway.

So the media corporations follow the spin of their pet politicians, who in turn pass legislation that serves the interests of their media corporation meal ticket, and it's this cronyistic cycle wherein we're all fed a bunch of crap that claims to be independent journalism but isn't and no one ever sees the Truth (a la Spider Jerusalem) ever again. There isn't even a hope of triangulating on the truth without bloggers poking their noses into every available bit of information out there and comparing stories. And you just know that blog host sites are going to end up going down the next time someone wants to pass some disgusting bit of legislation like the NDAA, if SOPA passes. And it'll take forever to get them back up and by that time, there'll be a nice shiny new violation of civil liberties reducing the Bill of Rights to toilet paper yet again with no hope of any input from ... y'know, the people. Because Fox News and CNN weren't going to talk about it and the independent blogging news folks couldn't, so no one would know.

Maybe this is paranoia talking, but ... seriously. When no newspaper or news site will mention SOPA at all but it's clearly everywhere online ... I am leery of a bill that will let people shut down entire websites on mere suspicion. I live in a world that looks more and more like Mira Grant's "Newsflesh" every day (just without the fun of zombies) - the bloggers are the rising stars of real journalism because they still seem to care about truth and freedom of expression, rather than just panem et circenses. And what happens to them when the internet is subject to such immediate, 'guilty until proven innocent' censorship as SOPA allows? It has unfortunate side effects.

There are so many other ways to fight online piracy without this. Most of them involve the companies in question revising their business models to fit the 21st century. Universal release dates, no region-specific crap, and maybe letting us transfer the media we've paid for to whatever format we see fit without crippling our computers with crappy DRM code. I imagine that TV channels would make way more money letting people subscribe to an online on-demand viewing channel (with the added bonus of ad revenue) than they ever have from ad revenue from things aired on TV and subscription charges from the cable channels. But even if the folks at Warner or Disney or wherever else actually realised this (which they probably don't because the people making these decisions probably still blame the VCR for fucking everything up for their market share), I don't think it'd fly. Too many elements of government, US or otherwise, have too vested an interest in silencing mainstream media sources to let the ability to censor the internet without looking like they're doing so slide so easily.

Put it to you like this: David Seaman had his Twitter account suspended because of OWS and NDAA-related tweets - and while Twitter seems to have tried to explain that, he's not alone. Just because you're paranoid, and all that...

People can talk about "if you're not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear" all they want. But the implications of all this, viewed in the light of things already happening, look pretty fucking scary to me.
thessalian: (Rant)
Friday thank the gods...

I got through the vast majority of this week on coffee, vitamin C and OTC cold and flu meds, which didn't help a lot but at least muted the symptoms somewhat. I know by all rights I should go back and shake antibiotics out of someone but I really don't fancy spending forever in a waiting room only to be dismissed again. Besides, I can't really afford the time that'd take off work. So ... yeah, I'm more or less flat right now. I will probably spend a lot of the weekend asleep. This will be a good thing, provided I don't forget to do little things like grocery shopping.

On the other hand, maybe being as sick as I have been is a good thing from the point of view of getting through the job. I'm too worn out to focus too much on the stupid that is my job half the time. I don't entirely understand how it happens that people end up dictating on side 2 of a tape before they dictate on side 1. I'm never sure whether it's the secretaries just not rewinding properly (unlikely, as side 1 has invariably been wiped) or ... I don't know. All I know is that it's annoying and a little worrisome when I put a tape into side 1, hear nothing and have to wonder if I've wiped it by mistake or someone put the wrong tape in the envelope or what. It seems a small thing, but try telling busy consultants that they have to redictate their clinic. Hell, actually try nailing a registrar to the floor long enough to tell them anything.

Though the tape I started yesterday was a doozy. It at least started on side 1 but as I worked my way through the letters, I noted that the letters I was typing corresponded to none of the sets of notes that had turned up with the blasted tape. I checked the patient history for one of the patient letters I'd typed; their attendance record corresponded to the clinic listed on the envelope the tape came in. So when I finished the tape, I looked up the patient history of one of the patients I did have notes for. Turns out that there are two different clinics for slightly different specialities run by the consultant with the aid of the registrars on that particular day, and he'd put the wrong envelope with the wrong pile of notes. So now that I've typed the bloody thing, I have to go downstairs, try to find the pile of notes that match, file the letters I've typed and then type the letters that actually go with the set of notes on my desk. If that sounds complicated ... well, imagine how I feel.

(Oh, good, and one of my consultants got another new reg. Heavy accent, no particular grasp of English sentence structure. At least it looks like a short tape...)

The faux-Christmas Winterveil thing on Warcrack started last night, apparently. I'll have to check that out when I get home, if I have the energy. Mostly I haven't had the energy to do much of anything when I get in, beyond faff around on Tumblr. I'd like that to change. But then again, I have to get my main out of the underwater quest chain nightmare in which she is currently immersed (no pun intended) before I can celebrate much of anything over in Azeroth. I suppose I could just celebrate it on one of my alts; my Goblin Shaman's in Orgrimmar at the moment... But I'd really rather do this sort of thing on my main, so eh. Of course, I could just use it as an excuse to ditch the underwater quest chain altogether and hit Mount Hyjal instead, but that feels like giving up. Then again, I'm playing for fun, not aggravation. I don't need Warcrack to do pointless shit for money and experience; I just have to go to work.

So I'm hearing about the NDAA and SOPA, but I'm mostly hearing about it over Twitter and from a few American news sources. You'd think that news like this would make it over here, but the Metro, at least, has nothing on it. This kind of terrifies me, particularly when the articles I've managed to find on SOPA suggest that it's not the people or even the government who are going to decide this one, but the multimedia conglomerates. As for the NDAA ... that more than 'kinda' terrifies me. I remember being so thrilled that Obama got elected, and now there's this. It's like how I felt when Blair got in, but somehow worse. I just kind of wonder what it's going to take, y'know? We the people are being systematically removed from the decision-making process all over the place, systematically ignored and basically trodden on, like we're obstacles to get around rather than ... y'know, constituents, voters etc. I'm getting this 1984 feeling where the perfect representative image of the future is a boot stamping on a human face forever. We need to take the power back before we're no longer capable. If that means more riots ... well, so be it. At this point, I'd rather civil unrest and living in a riot zone than living the rest of my life with a jackboot on my neck.

The real issue for me is that there's nowhere for me to go, really. I live here, where the coalition government seems to be hell-bent on making life untenable (between the cuts, the threats of NHS privatisation, the stripping of our right to peaceful protest and the systematic destruction of the economy) for everyone but the top 1%. There's the US, with NDAA and SOPA threatening to make a serious mockery of 'the land of the free and the home of the brave'. I could go home to Canada, but that whole thing where Muslim women have to remove their niqab at their swearing-in ceremonies just makes me want to throw things (and reminds me too much of my mother saying that all head and face coverings of that type should be banned because 'there could be a criminal under there!' - I weep for a certain generation of my countrymen). Sickening breaches of civil liberties are everywhere, and there really does not seem to be anywhere to go to just live free, or at least governed by people with the people's best interests at heart.

Can I hand back my membership to the human race? I ... could be a gnome. (Gnooooooooooome...)
thessalian: (Rant)
Free schools and academies must promote marriage.


Look, there's nothing wrong with a heteromonogamous marriage ... if it is a good, stable heteromonogamous marriage. Sometimes they aren't. When they aren't, they should end. Anyone who stays together in any relationship 'for the sake of the children' is, in my opinion, being either selfish or simplistic. It is not good for any child to grow up in a household where the two people upon whom they rely for stability and comfort end up fighting over the least little thing, contradicting each other at every turn or, at best, maintain an air of cool acquaintanship and little more around one another. Children pick up on that shit, and however hard it may be to field the questions like, "But why don't you and Daddy love each other any more?" or "Is it my fault that Mummy went away?", it's a lot less psychologically damaging to any kid to be honest with them. Otherwise, you get, "Mummy and Daddy are really unhappy and it's my fault because me being here doesn't let them do what they want!" And don't think your kids won't know. They hear more than you think, they pick up more than you think and overall, they're not stupid.

And then we have other forms of stable relationship. And I'm not just talking same-sex couples, either; I mean stable poly relationships as well. People who love each other, have lived together for years and years, and the only reason they haven't got the legal bits of paper saying "Booya! Married!" is because the government is narrow-minded. Maybe the child isn't blood-related to one or more people within the relationship, but in the end, I don't see anything wrong with that. I see, "Hey, here's this person, they're in love with my parent - who has to love me because, hey, they're my parent - and they love me too, even though they don't have to!" From a kid's perspective, here's an adult who has a perfect 'get out of jail free' card for all those chores they know are annoying - parent-teacher conferences, doctor's appointments, field trip chaperonage, school volunteer stuff, pick-up and drop-off for other-birth-parent visitation, homework help, 'eat your greens' lectures, Saturday morning cartoons, etc etc etc - but they don't use it. Yes, kids are savvy enough to pick that up as love, even if they never show it and it's mixed in with resentment. (Let's face it, kids will play the 'you're not my real parent!' card if they can ... and take it from me, they'll feel really bad about it if the step-or-something-parent-ish really loves them. I've pulled that one on a live-in lover of my mother's who really loved me, and I apologised. I did it with my current stepfather and I still don't feel bad about it. There's a big difference.)

On the whole, I don't see why the government can't get to grips with the fact that really, neither the adults nor the children in any given relationship give two shits about what bits of legal documentation say, beyond the fact that withholding those bits of paper from certain life-partnerships makes their lives unbearably difficult. They don't feel any more or less committed because of some quasi-religious ceremony and/or signing of documents; I think people generally just want that kind of thing so that they can share their happiness with their friends and family, announce their love for and commitment to one another to the entire world and not get shafted by a system that continuously robs non-heteromonogamous partnerships of their rights to, for example, be there for their partner(s) if they end up dying in hospital, or not have to deal with really shitty probate laws that discriminate against any relationshp lacking a marriage certificate.

Anyway, who does it hurt to legally recognise gay couples? Or committed poly relationships? All it hurts is a status quo that we haven't needed ... well, ever, but certainly not in this day and age. Heteromonogamous marriage is not necessarily a better environment for children than any other; what a child wants is stability. Or, if stability isn't possible, honesty about what's going on and reassurance that it's going to be okay. If my parents had stayed together for my benefit, I'd have been miserable, and I know it. Sure, I'd have preferred it if my mother hadn't had a lot of fly-by-night arsehole lovers when I was little and my dad hadn't ended up with a manic-depressive as a live-in lover before meeting Wife Number Four (I did not need to be abandoned in a car in the red-light district of Montreal at age nine while Mum's boyfriend went off to get stoned with his other sex partners, about whom Mum didn't know; I also did not need to be witness to Dad's girlfriend's hour-long episode that culminated with her putting her fist through the glass panel of our back door), but I survived, and it was still ultimately better than spending my formative years knowing I was the reason for my parents' misery.

Long story short: so long as it's a stable and functional relationship, I don't think it's particularly bad for kids, heteromonogamous or not. Can we all please stop putting roadblocks on the love, stability and openness that kids need under the banner of 'THINK OF THE CHILDREN!"? You're not fooling anyone; you're only thinking of your own outraged sense of propriety. FUCK OFF AND LET PEOPLE LIVE THEIR LIVES WITHOUT JUDGING THEM BY GOVERNMENT MANDATE. THEY ARE NOT HURTING YOU.
thessalian: (Rant)
Sorry. That title was in bad taste. (No pun intended, oh gods...)

So ... I have a question regarding this ... 'Personhood Amendment' ... thing that appears to be a deal in Mississippi right now. Y'know, the one that says that the word 'person' should apply from the time of fertilisation?

If someone has a miscarriage ... would that be manslaughter?

I mean this as a serious question. Manslaughter, if I'm recalling it right, can apply when you have killed someone accidentally - like if you hit someone with your car and maybe it was just that the conditions were bad and you really couldn't have helped it but there's also a chance that maybe you weren't paying as much attention as you should have done and that might have contributed to the accident. Note the 'maybe' and the 'might'. Technically, if this is the case, then anyone who miscarries in Mississippi could conceivably have every single aspect of their lives poked into mercilessly to see if they did everything possible to ensure a healthy pregnancy ... and who decides that, anyway? I mean, if you slipped on a flight of stairs and fell and had a miscarriage, could you be done for manslaughter because you shouldn't have been doing that anyway because of the possibility of accidents that might harm the 'person' within?

And what about when a fertilised egg just doesn't implant? Could the potential mother have prevented that? That's a 'person', dead, through no fault of their own, entirely because of what a woman's body did or didn't do. Is it the woman's fault that this 'person' didn't live? Who decides that?

I'm just ... having a hard time conceptualising this whole idea. And that's just at the very beginning. Then there's forcing rape and incest victims to carry on with a pregnancy that is entirely likely to do them serious mental and emotional harm just because the clump of undifferentiated cells classifies as a person and ending a pregnancy is murder. Then there's forcing people to carry on with ectopic pregnancies when it's essentially a choice between the mother or the child ... or quite possibly neither. And the people behind this bloody amendment say that under said amendment, "Mothers in crisis will be protected from a harmful medical procedure". So mothers in crisis will be protected from a harmful medical procedure ... because they're being forced to undergo a life-threatening pregnancy?

In the end, I don't know if I could personally go through with abortion. However, I am rather fervently pro-choice. Maybe not 'you're not a human being until you're in my phone book' pro-choice, but certainly 'if having a child is going to hurt you, then I sure as hell don't intend to make you' pro-choice. Or, more to the point, 'it's your body and it is frankly none of my business what you choose to do with your reproductive organs' pro-choice. No, I do not think that a fertilised egg is a person. It is a potential. No, I don't believe in sacrificing the physical, mental and emotional wellness and freedom of the person who is actually aware and self-sufficient for that of an unaware clump of cells undergoing mitosis and cell differentiation in a layer of tissue that may end up getting flushed out anyway. I don't even believe in sacrificing the rights of an aware and self-sufficient woman for something that is essentially a tadpole. And hell, while I don't think I could go through with an abortion if I had any interest in a functioning sexual relationship and a birth control accident meant that I ended up pregnant, you can bet your life that if there was an ectopic pregnancy involved, I would be going for the termination, because I am not giving up my life for a potential. And if I got raped, you can bet your bottom dollar that I'd be asking for the morning-after pill right then and there. And woe betide the doctor who denied me that option.

The news depresses me. There's this (and I think the most depressing part is that it has barely even seen daylight, this bit of news), and the snippets in the article talking about at one point, two separate states tried to pass something that would rule killing doctors who performed terminations as 'justifiable homicide'. There's Topeka, essentially decriminalising domestic violence because they don't want the cost of prosecuting (way to make the victims feel like they don't matter, guys. Way to make arseholes prove they're right to think that they can get away with abusing their spouses, children and families in general, and way to never let any of the victims feel like they're right in thinking that what is happening to them is bad and undeserved and that they should leave). And this is apparently more important than sorting out the economy.

I've met people who think that the future depicted in "Brave New World" was absolutely awesome and should be the ideal (yes, let's be locked into the niches we've been genetically designed to fill for the rest of our lives, filling the void with pre-programmed ideologies about rampant consumerism, drugging away any discomfort and having occasional orgies to deal with the pent-up stress with never an original thought or genuine emotion or passion of any kind). I think these guys, if presented with a copy of The Handmaid's Tale, would think that the future suggested by that story was awesome and flag it up as their manifesto or something. When people start using cautionary tale alternaverses as their personal visions for an ideal future, that's when I really start to weep for humanity.

Fuck it. Lunch. Ham salad bagel with a side of HATE, please.
thessalian: (facepalm)
I have not done this in awhile, so ... Warcrack news.

So I hit level 60 the other day. This was huge. Seriously. Those of you who play know what I am talking about. Those of you who don't ... two words: flying mounts.

It goes like this. In your first twenty levels, you're pretty much reduced to walking around the place getting squished attacked by anything that happens to be passing. Well, technically you can rent a wind rider/griffon (depending on faction) but those only take you from point A to point B. Then you hit level twenty and you're allowed to have the riding skill, and you can buy a mount. Kind of like in FFXI, except without some of the really fuck-annoying quests you have to do to get a chocobo licence. And you're not necessarily stuck with a giant battle emu. (Well ... okay, since my main's a blood elf, I am stuck with a giant battle emu. But I also play Paladin so I get an actual horse too. One day I'm going to level my goblin alt and get a motor vehicle. Gnome? Well ... with gnome you're still kind of stuck with a giant battle emu. Except it's a giant robot battle emu. So ... your mileage may vary?) Anyway, it's not like nothing attacks you when you're riding your battle emu or your mini T-rex or whatever your particular race has as a mount, but you stand a chance of outrunning anything that aggroes you.

Anyway, then you hit level 40, at which point you unlock Journeyman riding and faster mounts. Which means I now have four mounts - one black battle emu, one faster purple battle emu and two chargers, one built for more speed than the other.) And then you hit level sixty, at which point you can buy a Flight Master's Licence, and a mount that flies. This is either a wind rider (MANTICORE WOO!) if you're Horde, or a griffon if you're Alliance. This is a big deal because it means no more shelling out for rides between cities on wind riders/griffons and getting to places one hell of a lot easier, plus exploration achievements up the tailfeathers.

Just one problem: THIS SHIT IS EXPENSIVE.

Not real-money expensive, oh no. Just it requires somewhere around the region of 250 gold for the licence alone (less depending on your reputation where you buy the licence), and 50 gold for the mount. When you're levelling jewelcrafting and have been known to blow 100 gold at a time at the auction house for materials, 300 gold is a Big Deal. So what's a belf pally to do? Well, frankly, sell everythiiiiiiiiiing. Seriously, I had a metric fucktonne of low-level gems and the like for jewelcrafting materials that I wasn't really going to need anymore so all of that went to the auction house. After that ... well, I got mercenary about my quests. Any quest that didn't give me a piece of armour that was better than what I was wearing, I picked the reward item that would net me the most coin when sold to a vendor. Thankfully, at my level most of the reward items are worth at least one gold, sometimes as much as three, not to mention an average of one gold per quest done. So I've been running around the Blasted Lands, doing quests and selling gear and generally making a killing. I've got my 300 gold now (I had about 160 when I hit level 60, so at least I didn't have far to go) but I want to get a decent buffer zone before I spend that much gold at once. Somehow spending it in dribs and drabs at the auction house is one thing but blowing a huge wad all at once on one thing just ... gah. To be fair, I'm a lot like that about real money, too. I guess it's just A Thing. But never mind, I'm getting there and soon - soooooon - I will have my very own manticore and it will be awesome.

But in the meantime ... MOAR QUESTS. Currently resurrecting a druid in the Blasted Lands. I have no idea sometimes, when these quests are concerned. Seriously, I went running around looking for body parts so I could sew this Frankenstein-druid together and now I'm going up to the Altar of Storms to resurrect him with blood magic. (My inner Dragon Age characters are having fits, kthnx.) And prior to that, I was sneaking around a mine Metal Gear Solid style, in a huge crate, so I could kill a mining foreman. This game, she is on crack. I'm pretty sure I killed a demon in a cowboy hat an hour ago.

In other news, I am strongly considering starting up my own old WoD RP online. Chicago went the way of the dodo bird entirely suddenly and it's very sad. I'm just so tired of these things suddenly ending when I was just getting into it. It's not even as though the game was entirely dead, either - sure, it was slow because of the summer and a few people having some computer issues, but two people were in the middle of storylines and play was available if you were willing to tap people on the shoulder and ask, at least via IM. Unfortunately, the head admin got bored (there were rumours about Werewolf drama, but I try not to pay too much attention to rumours, particularly not about systems I don't play) and without so much as a word of warning, she shut down the entire site. Thankfully, she gave someone else access for about a week so we all got to ask her for our character sheets and journals, but ... still, it's frustrating. London, at least, had had its run and The End was discussed. Charleston ... well, that one was just unfortunate, with drama and server crashes and a whoooooole lot of mess. And the less said about San Francisco and the other Chicago, the better (those didn't close down while I was there; I just bailed because they drove me bugfuck). Anyway, I figure that I can probably manage admin well enough, so all I really need to do is get a decent ISP, talk to [personal profile] lithium_doll about getting hold of Jove and decide on things like where it's going to be set. Part of me is strongly considering Montreal; my home city doesn't get enough love. But that's thoughts for later, while I comparison shop for web space (and frankly find out if anyone I know is actually up for staffing or even just playing).

Why, yes, I am looking for distractions from people like Ann Coulter saying some truly appalling shit about the London riots, from people like Theresa May saying "the only cause for criminal behaviour is criminals" (which ... is not a cause, exactly, and makes no sense), from the bloody Prime Minister talking about "ignoring phoney 'human rights'" and closing down social media during 'times of crisis', from the idea of collective punishment for the riots as two boroughs vow to evict any convicted of taking part in the riots and their entire families from council housing if they're living in said council housing. I'm not ignoring it in the hopes that it will go away. I am taking occasional breaks from it because if I don't, I'm going to stress myself into the kind of migraine attack that doesn't stop at pain and photophobia but goes into visual disturbances/hallucinations, cognitive dissonance and worse. Yes, it happens when the stress is bad enough. And I do not need that right now, kthnx. So ... moderation. I'll rant and stress and rage about it in controlled bursts so I don't die of government stupid.
thessalian: (writing)
So apparently we had a calm night last night. No details about this calm night in London because everyone is focused entirely on Birmingham, Wolverhampton, Manchester and every other city that had riots erupting in it last night, but that's what the news says. I ... would like to hear more about this quiet night, I have to admit. I would like to hear more about these 'minor skirmishes' that happened when most of the people who would and should have been tweeting about this stuff were asked to be on lockdown. I'm also not totally relaxing yet; one of the comments I read about last night's quiet brought up a good point about how those who participated particularly in Monday night's events will have to sleep off their hangovers before they get their heads around anything else. I also want to know why these 'minor skirmishes' have had sirens going off a couple of times last night (though nowhere near as bad as Monday, I admit), and why there's still a low-flying helicopter buzzing my neighbourhood. I suppose that last is cops or news or both still keeping an eye. I wish it made me feel safe instead of besieged. Still, there isn't any point in stressing about it.

Yesterday afternoon was pretty atrocious though - not in that I saw any rioting or looting, but in the preparations for it. I nerved myself up to go pick up a couple of things I needed (cooking oil, butter, salt, coffee) and something treatlike; I wanted to order Chinese food but decided that I felt bad enough when I ordered in during a near-monsoon and I'd die of guilt if I asked some poor sod to risk getting mugged or worse just to bring me dinner. Unfortunately, almost everything in my immediate neighbourhood was shut at 3pm, and the few things that were open when I went out just before 4pm didn't intend on staying open long. Everyplace that had steel shutters for their doors and windows (most of them, in my area) were using them, whether the shop was actually shut or not.

The mood was ... well, my downstairs neighbour was panicking; she heard me come out of my flat in preparation to go out and actually stopped me in the foyer to say, "You shouldn't go out there! It's crazy out there! You be careful, okay?" I responded by telling her that I was pretty sure it was safe for now, that I'd be careful and then offered to pick her up anything if she needed it and didn't want to leave the house. She didn't, but she thanked me. This is in a city where most people, if forced to interact with their neighbours at all, murmur vague greetings and don't make eye contact.

Actually, one's more likely to have a conversation with someone in the supermarket/off-licence queue. The bigger local offie was one of the few places that was still open when I finally got outside (so much for steak for dinner, then; thankfully, I had other plans) and while I didn't participate in much of the conversation, I overheard a lot. Mostly it was, "You're closing soon? Do you think we're going to get riots on this street? They trashed bits of West Norwood just down the road, innit?" To be fair, a lot of people weren't actually even shopping that I saw; maybe they just wanted someone to talk to, a place to gather that wasn't home at least for a little while, and all the pubs were shut, so that was all they had. I also saw more cars on the street than I have in quite some time, the buses were emptier and almost no one was walking. The difference between this London and the London that got attacked by suicide bombers a few years ago was staggering. Suffice to say that I got my necessaries but my 'treat' consisted of a bottle of cola, a bottle of raspberry Bacardi Breezer and a bag of somewhat sub-par tortilla chips. Woe.

As for me? The headache has not gone away. I guess sirens at 2am and an afternoon/evening of stress will do that to a migraine sufferer, and it was bad enough on Monday. I think it's dying down a bit, though, so hopefully I'll be in some kind of fit state to go back to work on Thursday. It's an outright pain in the arse, this, but I suppose at least my office manager can't really help but understand this one. She's also migraine prone and these are pretty extreme extenuating circumstances. Not that she's ever not been understanding when I've had to take leave because of head-wrong (for which I profusely thank her) but I always feel bad about it and I'm trying not to because it frankly doesn't help. So I take deep breaths and remember: noise plus stress equals pretty debilitating migraine headache and riots tend to be full of both. It is not a thing one can help.

So! Right! The heavy painkillers and going semi-comatose in front of something DVD-ish just to keep me company it is. Also hiding from the evil daystar. If I feel better later, I may pop up to Brixton just to see what it looks like after this mess. I'm pretty sure it survived, though; Brixton's tough. But frankly, I don't see myself moving 'til tomorrow morning - not out of fear but because this fucking migraine makes daylight painful and I'm not stupid enough to go out after dark even if it is the only time I can take a walk when it gets like this.

I'll be better tomorrow. I hope London is the same.
thessalian: (Rant)
I did not get much sleep last night, but I must have dozed off because I woke up with my alarm. And then woke up again five minutes after I was supposed to be out the door. I swear, I just closed my eyes for a second... Anyway, it became clear, between the exhaustion and the brewing headache (which is still there, but a little less nasty than it was at 8ish this morning), there was no way I was making it into work today.

Finally checking the news, I see why there were all the sirens last night. Maybe why there are still sirens today, for all I know (because believe you me, there are still sirens). And the helicopters, which are still buzzing my neighbourhood. You have to sort of aggregate the pictures from the Telegraph, the Guardian and the BBC to get a clear picture, but my end of Southeast London was not exactly a safe place last night. I don't like seeing pictures of places I go shopping sometimes destroyed by looters.

At the end of the day, I don't condone their actions. How can I, who hasn't slept well in two nights because of being kept up by sirens and low-flying helicopters? What I would say, though, is that there is still more to this than mindless thugs. Fine, teenagers are not very articulate (and let's be fair, most of them do appear to be teenagers) but one thing's abundantly clear - they're pissed off. Teenagers act out when they're pissed off. Their future's been taken away a piece at a time. What do they really think they've got to lose? They may not be able to articulate it, but the feeling is certainly there. Keep in mind that I am still blaming them. But I am also blaming the forces that shaped them - parents, society, government - and I don't see why the two directions of blame ought to be mutually exclusive. If we just slap these rioters down without changing anything, all we'll end up with is martial law and yet more people pissed off and ready to explode. If that happens, the vicious cycle continues.

What worries me most is the fact that it's not going to stop unless something big happens. If it was just teens being thugs, they'd probably have got bored by now. But now they're tasting something they never have before - power, of a sort - and they don't want to give it up. The police can't cope and the next step is probably military, because I don't see this stopping on its own. After that ... well, I don't know what happens after that. I do know that it'd be irresponsible to let this run its course because I have no idea where it'd end, but I have no wish to see the army on the streets.

So, the rundown:

- The people who say that these rioters are just mindlessly criminal thugs have a point.
- The people who say that these rioters are politically motivated also have a point.
- Things need to change on both sides to prevent a recurrence.
- Government needs to pay attention to people before the brickbats and firebombs come out.
- People need to stick to kettle-dodging and making the police look stupid in ways that don't destroy their communities.
- I want to go home to Canada.

Ugh. I'd go get more sleep if it wouldn't screw over my sleep patterns entirely...
thessalian: (facepalm)
I'll post for the record, since not everyone follows me on Twitter or wherever.

- Yes, I live in London.
- Yes, I live in a sliver of relatively calm ground between various riot hot-spots (Brixton, Streatham, Peckham, and King's College Hospital, which is sort of Dulwich).
- Yes, I am fine.
- Yes, through my open-for-some-fresh-air window, I hear sirens (shit, that's a lot of sirens just now...) and last night was all low-flying helicopters and I'm pretty sure another one went by just now.
- To repeat the important bit: I am fine.

Still ... the sirens and the proximity ... hands up who thinks I should call in 'besieged' from work tomorrow?
thessalian: (Rant)
Twice in one day for posting. Gorgeous. And this time, it is to rant.

NHS services to be open to competition.

Essentially what this means is that parts of the NHS are going to be opened up to bids from private companies and charities. There is so much wrong with this that I cannot even begin to describe it. Okay, sometimes the NHS sucks rocks. I grant you that. But having worked in it for as long as I have, I can tell you why the NHS sucks rocks: because there is more and more emphasis put on a bottom-line, spend-as-little-as-possible running of the whole thing by officials who don't actually use the service because they can afford top-of-the-line private health insurance. They're cutting admin staff, which slows things up on the basic level, and what admin staff remain are overworked, underpaid, overstressed and underappreciated, badgered into doing more work for less money, not taking overtime and generally being blamed for every piece of shit that goes down ever. A great many doctors have private practices in other hospitals or clinics, which tend to take priority because that's where the money is. Everyone's getting pressurised into targets that they never have the time or money to meet because middle managers are eating the time and the funding by setting these unrealistic targets in the first place.

The NHS does not need to be privatised piece by piece, thank you. We tried that with the railways. There used to be British Rail. Now there are a conglomeration of different companies using the exact same sets of railway lines as there were under British Rail, and while I don't entirely know what it was like when there was a British Rail, I do know that the current way of doing things is confusing and at the very least not any better than it seems to have been at that time, railway commutes. Same tracks, same basic trains ... and so many different companies who're more concerned about their bottom lines than anything else so things like signal maintenance just don't happen, even if a train journey is delayed three days out of five every week for six months because of a signal failure at the same damn point on the lines every day. If it doesn't work for rail services, what makes people think it's going to work for healthcare?

Not to mention the fact that when this plan initially came under discussion, everyone disagreed with it. The current coalition nightmare of a government agreed to step back and we breathed a sigh of relief. Now, right in the middle of the Murdoch-blame media circus (which, let's face it, is important too), they announce this all quiet-like, likely because they know full well that the art of prestidigitation is to palm the object that you want to make vanish in your left hand while everyone's watching your right. The News of the World scandal must have been like winning the damn lottery for this lot.

This should not be ignored or forgotten or pushed by the wayside. This is too important. This is stealth privatisation that everyone from the British Medical Association to the general public disagreed with, privatisation that Cameron promised would never happen, and now he's doing it. And the plans for 2013 are even worse. 'Chemo at Home'? Cardiac diagnoses over the phone? Privatising children's wheelchair services? And they're sure as hell not talking about who exactly starts paying for all this. Will there be co-pay? Will we just get a bill? What exactly happens with this? No one is saying. They're just talking about 'competition', which always seems to be 'bottom line uber alles' - they can say 'quality over price' until they're blue in the face, but they're not saying who pays that price, and how will it be paid? Through taxes? Up-front in cash? What?

...And, on a somewhat personal note (as if it wasn't personal enough, given at least three chronic conditions that I suffer to levels that are debilitating, even if only occasionally and for shortish periods of time) ... what does this mean for my job?

In short, this is a mess and a travesty and we're being lied to and betrayed again and again by a PM who didn't even win by a clear majority. All manner of shit that wasn't in the coalition manifesto is being shoved down our collective throat and I think at this point the only thing that's going to stop it is outright riots. And even then...

*sigh* I want to go back to Canada. People are relatively sane there.
thessalian: (Rant)
I had to drag my sorry carcass home early on account of hideous migraine of the "can't see straight, can't focus on anything, can't stand light or noise of any kind" variety. It's not 100% gone but it is well enough that I can sit up and check on what's going on in the world.

Yeah, that was a bad idea for my continuing mental health. Check out the puppet show! Seriously, I know Fox News has never exactly been even remotely on the scale of 'unbiased reporting' but I really didn't think that anyone was going to be so blatant about whitewashing and otherwise obfuscating the truth of matters. First of all, they're trying to make hacking in general out to not be a big deal. Talking about how Citibank and AmEx got hacked and no one made a huge deal over that. Yeah, that would be because they got hacked, whereas News of the World did the hacking. Yeah, Sony got hacked too, but there's a bit of a difference between some black hat digging up user ID and a 'trusted' publication hacking into the voicemails of 9/11 victims and murdered teens ... that's even leaving aside where they deleted voicemail messages from said murdered teen's inbox, not only interfering in a criminal investigation but giving her family hope that she was alive ... all for the sake of some other story to dump into their rag of a newspaper to sell more copies.

While part of me is angry about this in general, and for good reason ... I'm also looking at it from the other side, which is ... well, how much of this is our fault as a society? Look at what actually sells papers. I mean, I personally don't give a shit about the pictures of Posh and Becks' baby and what they decided to name her, but so many do. So ... yeah, people want their celebrity dirt, and newspapers with no morals will go to any lengths to get it. I don't think that even celebs deserve their privacy violated in that way, but I do understand why in the case of celebs, because it sells papers. That kind of thing is dirty and disgusting but it is giving the public what it wants. From there, how much of a step is it to do the same thing to the general public, when the story is juicy enough, as in the case of 9/11 and Milly Dowler? From society's general tendency towards gossip came shit like this. The general public does not want to face this, so it forms the modern-day equivalent of a lynch mob. Which in a way is good - it means this won't get swept under the carpet the way so much fuckery tends to be these day. On the other hand ... can someone please just admit that when the stories spawned by these things were coming out, most of the people raving about what shit the News of the World pulled were eating up the results of said shit?

But leaving all that aside ... if you're going to use your vast media empire to whitewash the sins of the one bit of your vast media empire that got exposed committing said sins, it might be an idea not to be so blatant about it. I don't know that this is a deliberate attempt by Murdoch to whitewash - I don't know how much say he has over exactly what's said at any given time - but shit, if I were Murdoch, I'd be sacking both of these guys. The last thing you want to do when everyone is pointing fingers at you and questioning a) your journalistic integrity, b) your morals and c) whether you should be allowed to get away with this shit without losing the huge chunk of media voice you've accumulated over the decades is to so blatantly have bits of your media empire saying, "Oh, look at poor Mr Murdoch! Why can't everyone just leave him alone! News Corp is the victim here with everyone dogpiling on them! And who cares what happened in London a decade ago anyway?" Because that's too obvious and is just going to get more people pissed off and boycotting, your shares will drop further and your media empire will go to hell. Everyone is watching now. Watching and judging and your market share and influence are seriously at risk.

...On the other hand, no, carry on. I want to see the Murdoch empire crash and burn.

We still don't know what's going on with Schrodinger's Admin yet. Office manager was away all last week and while she's said that she doesn't want Schrodinger's Admin back in the department, she hasn't received confirmation from HR that Schrodinger's Admin will be kept away from the department. And Schrodinger's Admin wasn't even in today, despite the fact that her two-week sign-off for illness or stress or whatever is over now. I don't know what I'll be going back to tomorrow but it's yet more stress I don't need. I just wish this were over, one way or another. I'm tired of waiting for the other shoe to drop and I'm really tired of having a department but no desk.

Beyond that, I suppose there's not much new. It's hard for there to be new, I guess, when I spent most of the day in bed with the duvet over my head, in pain and singularly miserable. Another sleepless night (insomnia tends to come over me on a Sunday night, when I'm faced with the start of another week of the Schrodinger's Admin issue) combined with sinus problems caused by the change in the weather and the stress itself? Well. Feh. Though at least I'm probably feeling okay enough to beat the shit out of something in Warcrack to vent some of the stress, maybe. Or maybe I'll go mining; I need more copper and resent paying auction house prices for it. Still, not sure I want to go wandering around Tirisfal Glades, however good it is for mining. Every time I turn around, there's a PvP event in Tirisfal Glades and Undercity where a bunch of Alliance high levels attack the place. I keep myself set to PvE only but there's no way I want to get into this by accident again, like I did last time. Not when a Hunter's pet will beat me senseless in two hits and then /dance on my corpse. Literally.

Still, again, loving Prot spec. The whole Avenger's Shield thing is pretty frickin' awesome. It's like being the Azeroth version of Captain America. *g*
thessalian: (DAO)
So ... yeah, I got dragged into another instance today. And y'know what? It didn't suck. I still kept kind of flailing, or I felt like I was, but it didn't suck.

Look, I was blundering out and about in Arathi, trying to get this one quest done (at least until I realised it was a liiiiiittle bit above my level. But I did figure out that I can be mobbed by two guys three levels up from me and still survive, which is ... good) and as I was trying to take down these two individuals, the person who invited me to the last instance invited me to another one. I tried to turn them down, I really did - explained that I didn't want to go through the same kind of fiasco I did the last time - but their response to that was to tell me that it was better to learn at lower levels than later. I considered telling them that hey, not if I plan to get through entirely on soloing? But I decided that I was better off explaining the problem, which was that no one ever tells me what the hell we're supposed to be doing in these dungeons. They explained (basically, kill everything until you hit the boss at the end) and with all due trepidation, I agreed. So next thing I know, I'm in the middle of the Scarlet Monastary, trying to hold hate as we hacked our way through I dunno what and there were NPCs with exclamation points that I never had time to click on and ... well ... it didn't entirely suck. At least I mostly held hate and held my own. I died once, but hey, it happens, and the one who invited me was a shammie so I got rezzed and we went on. Most of all? Everyone just kind of shut up and got on with it and there was no running commentary about how much I sucked. Which is good. So ... yeah. Dungeon that did not suck. There was supposed to be a second but people bailed and the most it taught me was how to disband from a party. Which no, I did not know how to do. Now I know. Woo.

I also ditched Blacksmithing. Well, it was freakin' dull. I picked up Jewelcrafting instead, because I've been having fun with that with my Draenei shammie. My mining's been coming along nicely, too - going after ogres in Arathi netted me a fair ol' bit of iron ore. I don't think that's going to be useful in Jewelcrafting but it'll sell at the auction house, I'd imagine. I made the unpleasant discovery that you cannot send bits and pieces between your alts if they're not both with the same faction, though, which blows. I'm going to need faction mules or something.

So ... yeah. To [ profile] tyrell, I can only say that yes, you were right about the Prot spec, not to mention Seal of Insight - woo, that is one useful little thing to have. And to [ profile] wingedkami ... thanks for the mining tips and I blame you for the enabling. So there. Ha. *g*

The weekends are way, way too short. I see uncertainty on the rise tomorrow as Schrodinger's Admin comes back from her two weeks' 'sick leave for stress' or whatever the hell. I dunno what's going on, I dunno where I'm going to end up sitting tomorrow and all I know for sure is that I'm going to end up camped in front of my office manager's door until she gets in sometime after quarter past nine so that I can find out the answers to these questions. Woo. *sigh* I'd like my job a lot better if it wasn't for shit like this.

Oooh! But Rebekah Brooks got arrested! *squeak* There is at least some justice in the world. Though there was this one guy in the second-hand bookstore I went to yesterday ranting about how it was all going to just be smoothed over and Murdoch playing a long game and will be allowed to buy the rest of BskyB next year and yadda yadda. It's probably true, but it's got a level of pessimism that even I can't manage. I'm just glad that there seems to be something going in the general direction of "someone's getting what's coming to them" in this whole thing.

Also, while wandering yesterday, I happened to drop into this shop that does incense and candles and a lot of hoodoo stuff ... and fragrance oils. The kinds I thought I could only get online. Didn't have the cash to do anything with it then, but by the end of the month ... booya! *g* It was just happenstance that I wandered in at all; I thought it might be something that might be useful, but I didn't know how useful. Sometimes I have luck. It's a thing.

Right. I suppose there should be vegging with what veg-time I have left before I need to consider stupid things like bed and work in the morning. Bleh. This is why it's easier to talk about things like Warcrack than it is about my actual life.
thessalian: (Default)
So I'm watching the remake of the series V and ... yeah, I can see why they cancelled it. I hate that they did it on such a cliffhanger, but while I like the mood of the series better than I did the original in the 80s, there are problems with this show. The number of plot threads they just sort of dropped, or put back together really haphazardly with seemingly no connection to the previous episode, are kind of monumental. Some secondary characters just ... kind of ... vanished. It's not the first show where the writing team didn't seem to be talking to each other at all (I hear rumours about Lost...) but I wish they'd tied it together a little better. Maybe it would have lasted. Then again, possibly not, seeing as it actually seemed to be ... not so much glorifying terrorism but giving a look at the terrorist point of view, which I don't imagine a lot of Americans want to see. Because gods forbid there's any shade of grey in there.

Upshot of the whole News of the World scandal thing is apparently that the NotW is shutting down for good. Under British law, this means that the parent company, run by Mr Rupert Murdoch, is allowed to destroy any and all records pertaining to the News of the World. Convenient, no, when the government is calling for inquiries and all paperwork? I don't know where this is going to go, but Rebekah whatshername is apparently talking about how betrayed she feels. She feels? Aaaaaaaaaaaahahahahaha.

Meanwhile, there's been more Warcrack. I have been flitting around Deatholme. Deatholme is scary. Deatholme involves getting mobbed by waves of beasties if one isn't careful. Not that I haven't been surviving (as belf paladin, I've died maybe three times, and that was only because my connection dropped during combat); just that it's tiring and there are three quests I have to do in there. I'm two-thirds of the way through one - and the one that doesn't involve specifically killing anything, at that - but I had to give it up because after so many waves of three or four mobs at a time ... I believe the only comment is "Well, shit". I still need to find one more captive Hordey, then kill off four lieutenants of Big Bad, and then I have to kill off Big Bad himself and pike his head back to some fraidy-yutz hiding in a mountain enclave. This is all apparently to get belfs allegiance to the Horde. Which ... I thought we were ... well, never mind. No one ever claimed this game had to make any sense.

I've checked out Undercity. Undercity is fucking confusing, thank you. And freaky. And kind of annoying. It's the multi-level thing and the map does not actually tell you which level you're on and then it's all walkways over glowing green goo. And these narrow walkways are invariably clogged by some high-level arsehole who will not get off their fucking epic mount for five minutes and get out of the way so that people can go from point A to point B without going around or through them. Got some reasonable mining in Tirisfal Glades, though. That's a bonus.

It's the weekend coming up, so I'm probably going to end up staying up late and trying to finish some of those Deatholme quests. I'm still convinced that I'm going to die horribly, but fuck it. Everyone says Dar'Khan is nerfed. May as well take advantage of that. And saving those stupid captives and killing the lieutenants might get me another level before I take on Big Bad, so ... hey. (Though can I just say that Exorcism? Fucking rocks.)
thessalian: (Rant)
Ah, socio-political ranting at its potentially finest.

Look. It's one thing to listen in on people's mobile phone conversations and voicemail messages via hacking. It's a shitty and illegal thing, but it is one thing. It is an entirely different thing to hack somebody's voicemail, delete messages meant for someone else just for more heartstring-tugging fodder and thus not only screw around with a police investigation, but falsely raise the hopes of parents who are still just praying that their daughter's not dead.

So someone please tell me why the fuck this News of the World phone-hacking scandal is focusing on listening in on celebrities? Seriously. What the fuck.

I don't need to hear Boris Johnson going on about how everyone's doing it, even though it sucks, with pictures of celebs at the top of the page. I sure as hell don't need to hear comments from people who consider the lives of celebrities fair game going, "So what's the big deal? If anyone listened in on my phone conversations, they'd be bored to death! Just don't talk about private stuff on a mobile and you're fine!" While I get that it's really horrific that News of the World, likely amongst others, are hacking into people's private voicemail ... still they're all. Missing. The point. The point being, in case we forgot, that this whole thing went from ugly to truly evil when someone actively erased messages meant for others, just because they wanted to hear more messages for tabloid fodder. That's on par with shredding someone else's post, just because you got access to their mailbox. And when the person whose voicemail box is getting cleared happens to be missing and presumed dead ... well. Think of the implications when that voicemail box, which should have been full and thus bouncing back any new voicemail messages, suddenly gets emptied.

I think the problem with making this about celebrities' phone calls is that people honestly believe that celebrities' lives are fair game. They're not allowed privacy! They're not allowed lives! Oh, hell no! They're our property, and everything they do may now come under the microscope. WRONG. Celebs are allowed privacy just like everyone else, and the answer isn't "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear" - particularly when we're talking about red-top tabloid arseholes who see it as a far more convenient way of digging up a scandal than anything else on offer at the moment. Since when did 'privacy' become a concept that we just sort of ignore in the face of ... I don't even know what they're thinking right now.

I honestly don't know what to do about this, beyond stopping newspapers from hacking people's voicemail. I get that you need to scoop the other guy however you can, but this snark about celebs being jealous that they're not on the list? That shit needs to go. So does the quasi-joking about how all politicians ought to have their phones and email accounts routinely tapped, preferably with the addition of an ASBO-style ankle-tag to monitor their movements. I wish people would focus on the fact that this bunch of morons from News of the World destroyed correspondence that was not theirs to destroy, potentially interfered with a police investigation and unwittingly (and without so much as caring about the implications) twisted the knife counter-clockwise on a family that just misses their daughter.

thessalian: (Rant)
Not a whole lot has been going on the last couple of days, I have to admit. A bit of RP and a distinct lack of Warcrack ... though that latter has something to do with the connection hiccups that have been plaguing me for days on end. Seriously, there was a point at which I disconnected five times in as many minutes and I have no the hell idea why. By last night, it seemed to have stabilised, but if this doesn't get sorted out soon, part of my week off is going to be ringing BT and figuring out what the hell is going on. Because seriously, this ain't natural.

Not sure what-all I want to do with this week off that is coming so very close and looking so very enticing. I think I might actually try cooking something a little more ambitious than I usually manage. Not entirely sure what though. I could roast something. I'm good at roasting things, and I won't end up freezing my arse off by keeping the windows open so I don't set off the smoke alarm. It's not as sensitive as the one we had at Sourcebook Central 2.0, but it's close. And I think the oven needs cleaning. Oh, gods, I don't want to spend my week off cleaning the oven! But then again, I don't want to continuously set off the smoke alarm just because there was gunk in my oven from day one, either. But I spent last weekend cleaning and I've been so good this week! No dishes left in the sink, no clothes left on the floor, bed made in the morning ... I dunno what the hell kind of new leaf I turned over, but I can't say I'm not happy about it. So ... probably oven cleaner. Gaaaaaah. But there can and must and shall be treats, too - I may head over to that shop in Angel that specialises in sweets from overseas. Might even risk a film (there's at least one that looks like it might be worth seeing in the cinema, though I hate going by myself), or go to the zoo or something.

...Or I could just stay in, RP and play Warcrack all week. Either way. Actually, I've still got that Dragon Age playthrough to finish, as well as stuff I want to write. But getting out and about for more than the weekly shop would probably be a good idea. There's no point in having a yearly travelcard with a good nine months left on it if you don't actually use it as often as possible, right?

Last but not least ... is anyone else sick of the Lady GaGa thing everywhere? The only reason I'm grateful for this 'famous footballer who everybody now knows about trying to shut the barn door after the horse has bolted by sticking a gagging order on anyone who dares say publicly that he cheated on his wife lest he get booed on the pitch' thing is that it seems to have knocked her out of the news. The footballer thing ... well, it's an interesting look at freedom of information and privacy stuff and everything, but my question is this: why does anyone actually care? What the man does for a living should not technically make it more newsworthy when he sleeps around. That said, he also knows full well that he is in the public eye and there are always going to be vultures and if he didn't want to get caught with his trousers down, he shouldn't have slept around on his wife, should he? If he actually gave a shit, he'd pick one or ask about an open relationship kind of marriage, and take the consequences. But nooooooo, he can't have consequences! He's a footballer! In short, I don't see why this is news beyond the implications for privacy laws on things like Twitter. The fact that Twitter will, if asked, hand over personal details of anyone who's violated this gagging order and let them be taken to court over a fucking reTweet ... well, it irks the hell out of me. Wonder how Facebook's handling it. This is the stuff that interests me, not who some footballer's been boinking.
thessalian: (Rant)
So I've had the flu, and still have the flu, and now want to bludgeon people. With be-condomed cucumbers, or something.

Nadine Dorries says that teenage girls alone need lessons in saying no.

...Look, I felt queasy enough before this. And yes, I admit that girls are being sexualised too young - padded bras for seven-year-olds, sweatpants for preteens with 'Juicy' written in glitter across the butt, stuff like that. However, that's the fashion industry, not to mention the music industry. What people don't get is that generally with pop bands, the age of the average fan is around 7 years younger than the age of the star in question. So yes, you get your younger (or younger-looking) teeny-bopper girlie star and her fans are, like, ten. So they will emulate how she dresses, or want to. The fashion industry cashes in on that fact, and the fans will either hoard their allowance or beg and badger their parents (who, rather unfortunately, tend to be so disinterested that they will give in rather than having to do anything difficult like parenting) and will buy these kinds of clothes. That's a problem.

However, I don't care how old you are - how you dress does not in any way constitute an invitation to sex. What you say? Is. And if girls are being taught to 'just say no', so should boys. What lessons apply to one gender should apply to both, and frankly, both genders need to be taught that applying pressure on someone for something they aren't ready for is wrong. End of statement, none of this gender segregation bullcrap, and no implying that you can solve the teenage pregnancy problem by getting teenage girls to say no and not teaching boys any kind of responsibility at all.

(And apparently, teaching girls to apply condoms to their boyfriends is unnecessary, where I personally think that it's a good way of turning a thing that some guys complain about ["But I can't feel anything through a condom; it's not as nice!" blah blah blah shut up"] into foreplay. So that can bite me.)

Y'know the lessons I really think should be taught in sex ed? It goes a little something like this:

"Wanting sex is not wrong. Not wanting sex is likewise not wrong. Sex is not a bad thing. Just keep in mind that sex leads to consequences, not only for you but for your partner as well, and might have consequences with others, depending on circumstances. Be sure it's what you want. Be sure that it's what your partner wants. Say no if you don't want it, and respect it when your partner likewise says no, at any point in the proceedings. Sex is good, but it is best in an atmosphere of openness, honesty, respect and mutual enjoyment. Here is how to protect yourself from disease. Here is how to protect yourself or your partner from pregnancy. And here is how to stop vilifying yourself for wanting sex, or for not wanting it. Take control of your sexual destiny. Have a nice day."

...Is that somehow wrong? Is this somehow a bad message? Tell me, because I honestly want to know.
thessalian: (Default)
So, to all of you who are new to my journal from the Dragon Age friending meme? Hi! Welcome to the madhouse. I was going to say a proper hello with a squee and a Dragon Age-y kind of post, but ... well, there's sad Who news. Liz Sladen, aka Sarah Jane Smith, died today.

I didn't think it was going to get to me. I really didn't. I mean, yes, she was my first Companion (I watched Who reruns on PBS with my mother when I was little, and it was mostly Pertwee/Baker, so who else was I gonna see as a Companion?) but ... I was really little.

Then I saw this:

...And I thought I was gonna cry.

It's not the first time, I guess. I mean, I've been a Muppet fan forever, and when I got the news about Jim Henson, I just sat there and went "...No" and then cried my eyes out. I was shocked out of my gourd when Kurt Cobain died (but then, that was different because he was a rock star and ... well, you kind of expect that). There've been others. But it still gets me. Every. Single. Time.

The thing is, I tend to feel stupid. I did not know these people. They did not know me. Do I have a right to mourn?

...Then I figure ... yes. Yes, I do. These people touched my life in some way and maybe we never met and maybe we never would have. They'd have never been my friends, but ... something they did touched me. They gave me enjoyment, entertainment, pleasure. I'm not presuming, I remind myself, for being sad that they will no longer contribute to what the good Doctor called my "pile of good things", for feeling like there's a small hole in a small segment of my life now that they're not there anymore. It's not like grieving for a friend. I claim no ownership of them. I'm just ... sad. I will miss them. That's all.

So ... thanks, Elizabeth Sladen. More to the point, thanks, Sarah Jane. Because that is how I knew you. You fought cancer, and I have seen so much of that through personal experiences and my job, and I'm sorry you had to go through that. I hope your afterlife (assuming there is one) is full of exactly the kind of adventure you'd want. Thank you for making some tiny, tiny part of some ex-patriate Canadian's life a little brighter, just by doing what you did.
thessalian: (Default)
I am made of HATE.

Apparently, the NHS wants to have unpaid volunteers do the work of ward clerks in the midwifery service. This includes breastfeeding advice, filling out paperwork and taking blood pressure. The latter two disturb the almighty hell out of me. Look, I get that a person can take their own blood pressure. I get that ... most people ... can more or less fill out paperwork. However, I have been working in the NHS for a very. Long. Time. I can see how good people are at filling out their own paperwork, never mind somebody else's. They don't check spelling of names. There is every chance of screwing up. And paperwork errors can be fucking fatal. So please, someone, tell me what this bullshit is?

I am a rarity in the NHS. I am an admin who cares about her job as more than just a source of a paycheque. I understand that every letter I get out in a timely fashion, every patient I help move into an earlier free appointment slot, every charge through the hospital I do to nail some fucking registrar to the floor to get them to book a patient in for necessary and sometimes life-saving therapy? That is, in its own small way, saving a life or at least helping make somebody's life better. I get verbally abused by patients on a regular basis. I get overworked, underpaid and desperately underappreciated. But I have worked in the private sector, both in healthcare and not, and at the end of the day, I have discovered that I would still prefer to be in NHS work than anywhere else. I get the warm fuzzies, okay? Sue me. If I'm going to earn my living largely doing tasks a well-trained monkey could do, I'd rather do it and know I'm doing good, rather than just being some damn donkey following the carrot dangled by her corporate masters, mmkay?

But this? This Big Society bullshit? This isn't going to work. I am a rarity! Most people don't give a shit, and the ones who do still need to work for a living! The kind of work they're talking about is not the sort of thing you can pop into for a couple of hours on weekends! It requires a regular eight-hour day at least, and how the hell are people supposed to do that, even if they want to, and still have a job? Either they're volunteering during working hours because they're unemployed, in which case it would be in their best interests to actually get a job (because the benefits upon which Big Society is hinging their volunteer service? That's not enough to live on), or they've already got a job and would have to volunteer nights, when they've had a hard day at work and don't have the energy or mental capacity to do the kind of job I'd want to see in a healthcare professional. Because make no mistake: hospital admins are trained healthcare professionals.

This is where society at large should quote a certain RP character who I sometimes still miss to this day: "I don't want some little oik like me having access to my medical records!"

There's also a murmur about the current coalition government not demanding checks in some cases when a job involves contact with vulnerable adults or children? And yet they want volunteer workers to come into hospitals and deal with pregnant, childbearing women and infants? Normally I would say that no one is sick enough to interfere with a newborn, but I've read newspaper articles about some guy raping a three-year-old and I now no longer put anything past humanity.

The point of all this is that the NHS doesn't need the kind of cuts the coalition is trying to make. It sure as hell doesn't need outsourcing the blood donation service to a private company (because WTalmightyF?!?). What it needs is to re-evaluate the money it is already spending and put that money to better use. The management structure is shit. Let's start with that. There are too many managers - and half of those managers don't do a gods-damned thing (my technical line manager is never in the office because she is wandering the grounds with a cigarette half the day, or so goes scuttlebutt, and tends to vanish on half- or full-day leave without so much as a word to anyone). There are too many white-collar bozos running around the place trying to figure out where all the money goes, and they must see that the money that should be spent on front-line admin is going to their unnecessary salaries, but because they don't want to lose their jobs, they blame front-line admin and ensure their job security as they try to 'shape up the service'. There's a process at the hospital I'm in now that they're calling 'natural wasteage', which means that if anyone quits or retires? They're not hiring anyone to fill that vacant position anymore. They're just going to pile the work on the remaining admin staff and cause more money and time to be wasted as people get stressed to the point of ill-health and end up going on long-term sick leave, which leads to more 'natural wasteage' and a vicious cycle of the service falling apart. The NHS needs to pare down its middle management and use the salaries of the useless mid-line managers who do jack fucking squat to hire more front-line admin who could actually keep the service running smoothly. It's not that hard!

I repeat: I am made of HATE. And now I have to go grocery shopping. And then I am going to go slaughter the hell out of some darkspawn just to vent the AAAAAAAAAAAAAAGH!
thessalian: (Default)
Parents face government fees to split up.


Look, y'know, I get that we don't necessarily want divorce to be something that you can put on and take off like a hat, particularly not where children are involved. But guess what? If you are forcing an unhappy family unit to stay together when they are clearly unhappy, especially where children are concerned, that is not family-friendly.That is ludicrous. What happens if people can't afford those fees? What happens if the 'early mediation' thing doesn't work and it turns out that these two people who got married and had these kids have changed and are no longer compatible? Is raising children in an environment of bitter, government-mandated resignation of a bad situation really what we're after?

*thinks about the whole tuition fee thing*
*thinks about First Past the Post*
*thinks about having to pay for the mistakes of bankers who fucked up our economy and yet are getting big bonuses*

...Apparently, so it is. Is anyone else thinking Orwell's 1984 here? Marriage isn't about love but obligation. Sex isn't about love; it's about procreation. "Think of the children" is the rallying cry ... until it involves actually being an involved parent to one's own, at which point it's someone else's job. I know love isn't something you can spreadsheet, but it isn't something that should be taken out of the equation when it comes to love, sex and family, either.

If my parents had been coerced by government nudging into staying together, I'll tell you how it'd be. My mother'd be miserable. My dad would be miserable. I'd be miserable because you can bet your bottom dollar that one or both of them, consciously or not, would blame my existence for the fact that the government forced them to keep an unworkable marriage going. Neither of them would have learned or grown from the experiences they had afterwards. Mum would never have found my stepdad, with whom she is truly happy, and Dad would not have found my stepmother, with whom he is truly happy.

...Actually, if people had been coerced by government nudging into stay together while in unworkable marriages, I wouldn't even have been born, because my dad would still be with the three-months-pregnant girl he married at age sixteen. (It was the fifties. Dad's way older than Mum. It's a thing.)

So ... yeah, I'm appalled. How are you all today?


thessalian: (Default)

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