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)
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: (Default)
I think the final interview thing went well. I don't think they have all my references through yet, but they expect to let me know soon. There's only two of us to decide between now, and the consultant I met (nice guy, and yes, I am very familiar with the type) implied that it would be very hard to choose between us. Fingers crossed, hopeful thoughts and ye gads, news soon please...

In other news, this little old lady approached me at the bus stop on my way out and paid me the most random compliment:

Random Old Lady: Excuse me ... are you wearing stockings?
Me: o_O ...No...
Random Old Lady: Nylons?
Me: ...No...
Random Old Lady: Oh, my; you have lovely colour, your legs...
Me: ..............Thankyou?

She wandered away after that, and it was a heartfelt compliment spoken in a way that isn't quite as creepy as it may sound in text, but ... well, of all the things to get complimented on, the tan or lack thereof in my legs was about the last thing I would have expected. I've had compliments on my shoes, my hair, my handbag and my headphones, but that's a new one.

Yeah, so ... that happened.
thessalian: (Default)
Well, wow. I don't know whether to be angry, flattered, flattered-by-proxy or just a little bemused. I think I'll settle for "all of the above".

So, some of you are aware of my history in the land of Daria fanfic. That's actually how I met some of you. And there were ... bits of meta-fic. Some were straight-forward prose adaptations (so don't really count as meta, I don't think), and some that were more or less original - fanfic of fanfic - and others that were trying to be original but copy-pasted about half my dialogue as well as borrowing characters. It got aggravating, on top of all the other aggravation fandom (and life) was throwing at me. So I backed out. I did a bit more writing on it a couple of years ago but realistically, my time in that fandom is over.

Well. I recently got approached with the information that someone's plagiarising my fic again. Well, by proxy anyway. Essentially, someone's grabbed the prose adaptations wholesale, done a (oddly shoddy) search-and-replace job on the names and plunked it onto as their own Kingdom Hearts fanfic series. This individual hasn't even bothered to change the chapter titles much.

It amuses me to consider the reactions I'm having now and comparing them to what reactions I would have had at the time. I think I probably would have been angrier about it. Or at least, it wouldn't have been tempered with this sense of outright pity for the individual in question. I mean, hell, the whole point of fanfic is to create a new story in a world you love. Or at least, that's what I thought it was supposed to be. The idea that you're so invested in being Someone In Fandom that you'd outright steal someone else's work from an entirely unrelated fandom and pass it off as your own instead of ... y'know, writing something yourself? It confuses the hell out of me, and makes me sad.

That doesn't mean I won't be happy when this little twit is outed, mind you. I have this thing about someone getting credit for someone else's work, whether the work is mine or not. And let's face it - it isn't, entirely. Dialogue's mine, sure. Descriptives? Not so much. And if it were Yui Daoren or Kara Wild or CE Foreman or any of the other Daria ficters ... or indeed anyone else ... I'd be just as annoyed, or possibly more so. Because so much of the work is mine, though, I suppose that, along with the anger and the pity and the "WTF?" ... I also feel a bit flattered. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, after all. I don't like being ripped off, but I guess there's something to someone thinking you're worth ripping off.

But I still want to nail her to a wall. Figuratively.

In other news, job stuff continues apace and now they're digging up my references. Gods, I hope my references hold up. They should. They have through other jobs. I shouldn't be worrying about this but ... well, you know how I get. Fingers still crossed (at least when I don't have to type anything).


Mar. 24th, 2010 01:19 pm
thessalian: (Default)
There's a lot of stuff going on in the world to blog about, I suppose (Digital Economy Bill, Healthcare Reform in the US, the whole thing about the UK expelling a foreign diplomat over the use of forged passports in an assassination, which ... well, I read the article and I'm still not sure I understand it) but the fact is that I'm hardly sure what I want to say about any of it.

The Digital Economy Bill ... I've been there and ranted about that. At best it's problematic. At worst it makes every political party who's touched it look sleazier than usual. It does not address the roots of the problem and certainly doesn't protect everyone with a copyright to defend. Instead, it builds a shield around the big media companies and obliges ISPs to invade the privacy of their customers under threat of fines, all to institute a system whereby the innocent might be punished right along with the guilty over trying to get a hold of media that a good three-quarters of them would pay for if only they could. Meanwhile, it gives a loophole for big media to incorporate 'orphan' content into their own product, fully aware of how easy it can be to strip a copyright notice from media obtained from, say, Flickr. This is the sort of thing that seems to be trying to set news and entertainment media back to where it was thirty years or so ago, when staggered international release dates made sense and indie publishing wasn't as viable as it is now. The Digital Economy Bill is basically to new media what tar pits were to the dinosaurs, and it bites.

The US healthcare reforms ... I honestly don't know what to say. I don't think they go far enough, but I was born in a country that provides a decent standard of nationalised healthcare, and have lived in another such country for what now amounts to over half my life. I don't get how "Everyone has to have health insurance as a point of law and there will be government subsidies for low income families to ensure that they can get that health insurance" really helps as much as a lot of people seem to think it will. I'm mistrustful of health insurance, I think at least in part because I have worked for insurance companies and also heard horror stories. It depends on your coverage, as far as I can tell, and even with a certain amount of coverage, insurance companies are worried first and foremost about the bottom line and will try to make everything and anything sound like something they don't cover, even if they should. So claims get delayed as they get investigated and it becomes frustrating in the extreme as you're not only sick but also getting hounded about medical bills that your insurance company is supposed to be covering but isn't, so not only have you got these bills you can't pay but you're also paying for the insurance that isn't even doing what they said it was going to do. And at that point, if your condition requires extended treatment, you're screwed. I know that it's a first step - a baby step to something better for the American people, but I don't trust it. I hope it works out better than it sounds like it's going to, but it does not go far enough and gives too much power to insurance companies. Maybe I'm oversimplifying this - I'm pretty sure I am, actually - but unless there's a separate bit of crackdown on the insurance companies, I don't see this being something for the sore-winners in the Democrat camp to be thumbing their noses at those who hated the idea and going "Neener neener neener WE WON YOU SUCK!!!" over.

So yeah ... seems like every bit of 'reform' out there is designed to allow people who don't need any more money to make more anyway, while taking the money away from the people that do need it. That's how it sounds from here, at least. Is it just me, or is that a bit depressing?

In other news, I can has The Diamond Age, which has been languishing on my Amazon wish list for a few years. It was pretty good, and Neal Stephenson's ideas on tech and media always interest me. Sometimes I want to lock him, Warren Ellis and Matt Wallace up together in a room containing three laptops, random nibbles and a metric fucktonne of alcohol and see what they come up with after a week. I'm more or less convinced that it would be a novel of epic proportions or the most elaborate, terrifying world domination scheme ever.

...Given how the world seems to be going, I'd probably end up rooting for the latter.
thessalian: (Default)
Dr Peter Watts, beaten and arrested at US border crossing.

Unfortunately, I have no direct problem believing this. Sure, I'd like actual independent verification of the facts, but it's probably going to be awhile before we get any of that. Fact is, I'm sure I've been at risk of a similar sort of issue a couple of times, and that would be here in the UK. I've been stopped-and-searched for no apparent reason before. I stood there and took it mostly because I didn't want to be late for work. If I had given vent as I wanted to, explained that I had a right to my privacy or similar, I imagine I could have expected a similar reaction, only perhaps without the pepper spray because I don't think the police here carry it.

My real problem? The people who said that he should never have got out of his car, or should have got back in when they told him to. It sounds a lot like blaming a rape victim on the grounds of her clothes, if you ask me.

If someone is going to undertake a stop and search of your car, I think that you as a person are entitled to an answer to certain questions you might have - such as why your car is getting a going-over with a fine-toothed comb. The answers to these questions might enable you to avoid being stopped in the future, or at least know what to expect. If someone is not answering your questions because they cannot hear you through a car window or are attempting to avoid acknowledging you sat there in the driver's seat of your car while they oblige you to open your boot and you don't know why, then it seems a simple enough thing to get out of the car and ask for the answers to which you are entitled in that situation. I do not think that refusing to return to your car until your questions are answered merits pepper spray, beating and the prospect of a couple of years in jail. I don't think anything short of physical violence merits that kind of reaction, and I highly doubt that Dr Watts would be griping about it via journal if he'd actually thrown the first punch. I have no problem believing that a punch was likely thrown, but I also think that I would defend myself if someone had just given me a face full of capsaicin. Just saying.

One comment came out along the lines of "If you aren't willing to do whatever the border guards tell you, feel free to stay on your own side of the border" and "Entering our country isn't a right, it's a privilege that you have to earn by jumping through every hoop that the border guards hold up for you". There are no words for how distressing I find this. Are people really so willing to let a bunch of jackbooted troglodytes walk all over them for the illusion of safety?

I don't have all sides of this story, so it's hard to judge. However, I don't think the reaction of "I'm sorry that happened to you but you asked for it" is helpful in this situation. Sure, being allowed to visit a country is a privilege, but if earning it involves having to sit down, shut up and accept any sort of treatment up to and including invasion of privacy with no reason given, the problem is not with the person wanting to visit. If people are so afraid of terrorists that they're willing to condone even the idea of someone getting beaten and arrested just for asking questions and not letting up until they have answers to which they are entitled, then the terrorists have won. End of statement.
thessalian: (Default)
I really don't know what to make of this.

The basic story is this: Trans individual, Z Bellamy, age seventeen, applies online for job at McDonalds. Goes in for interview and is forced to tick a box identifying gender. Trans individual ticked 'male' - the article doesn't say whether the individual in question is MTF or FTM, so it's a little hard to say why. The assumption I'm forced to based on the alleged voicemail is that Bellamy is MTF, because the voicemail Bellamy received after this initial interview went on about how "You are not getting an interview; we do not hire faggots. You are a lying brother; how could you?"

...I'm very, very confused, and becoming less sure that this is on the level the more I think about it.

Okay, so I've never been through any of the processes involved myself, but I'm not entirely ignorant about various things someone going through the transition in gender tend to go through. There's a lot of paperwork involved to get changes made on passports, driving licences, all that sort of thing so that the gender on one's ID matches the gender with which the individual identifies. (I am aware that there are issues involving birth certificates and a big argument about whether or not those should be reissued to reflect a gender transition, but that's beside the point here.) I do get that Bellamy, at age seventeen, would have some problems getting those changes made to the relevant documents on the basis of still being a minor, but given that Bellamy is apparently living as female, I have my doubts as to whether the parents would really have that many issues with helping get the paperwork sorted out. So ... with all that taken into account, why didn't Bellamy just tick 'female' on the damn box? Bellamy identifies as female; Bellamy is apparently living as female. Why put 'male' on a form handed out during the interview process?

I'm also really dubious about this voicemail thing. I can see someone saying it to someone's face, or over the phone, sure. But anyone in a managerial capacity at a multinational corporation the likes of McDonalds would have been briefed most thoroughly on the principle of not putting that kind of discriminatory bullshit out where it can be used as proof in a lawsuit. Seriously, in this economy, with this many people looking for jobs, any manager worth their paycheque would have simply sent the usual form letter. No one gives reasons for not hiring someone, particularly not when they go against ever equal opportunity policy a company has. I ... am just very, very dubious about this. I'm not saying it couldn't have happened; I'm just saying that I have serious doubts. Plus the sound quality of that recording is poor enough that voice analysis is going to be a bitch, and the inflection was all wrong for someone angry as the wording suggests.

I have a sneaking suspicion that the manager said all of this stuff about how "we don't hire faggots" to Bellamy's face in the preliminary interview, after Bellamy was 'called out' on the subject of birth gender, and that the call was made by someone who could mimic the manager reasonably well - perhaps another employee or former employee - to strengthen the case. Or just to get some attention. If that's the case ... well, I think it's sad. And if someone really was stupid enough to leave that kind of voicemail ... well, then I still think it's sad. Just a different kind of sad. You know; pathetic-sad.

Time and detail will tell.
thessalian: (Lannister Zodiac)
This is only going to make sense to the ASOIAF fans on my flist. Sorry!

Cut for anyone who hasn't read George RR Martin's 'A Song of Ice and Fire series. Seriously. This will be so much boring. )

That said ... I'm out and about tomorrow - Mum-lunch. And there shall be writing. Must and shall be writing. I think I've found a tack I like better for Chapter 17, so maybe it will stop kicking my arse.
thessalian: (no lie)
I tend not to read the Daily Mail, precisely because of things like this. It doesn't exactly have a sterling reputation as a bastion of unbiased journalism. However, this... This takes the biscuit.

The Americans on my flist probably won't be overly familiar with Steve Gately as a name. Not being a fan of boy bands in general or Boyzone in particular, I wasn't either. So when Gately turned up dead, I was not particularly devastated or anything, but I spared a sympathetic thought for the family, didn't wonder much about what happened and went on about my business.

Apparently, a columnist at the Mail named Jan Moir is not quite so considerate.

From what I'm able to tell, Moir is of the school of sensationalist newsgathering that encourages and thrives off muckraking. What happens when there is no muck to rake? She makes shit up. Think I'm kidding? Go read. Go and read this hideous woman ignore and belittle a coroner's report and a mother's statement of family medical history in her insistence that Gately must have died from 'sleazy' causes, essentially because he was gay and a celebrity. While she claims that no healthy young man could possibly die suddenly of natural causes (which I will deal with in a minute) and that's why it doesn't ring true, the fact is that his sexuality, which should have no bearing on this, and his lifestyle (which she only hints at anyway, given that actually doing any legitimate research on it would likely disprove her point and damage her libellous article) are the main reasons she gives to support a claim that has no weight in the face of a coroner's report.

As far as death by natural causes goes, age has nothing to do with it. A friend of mine from my A-level years died at age 18 from a totally out-of-the-blue cerebral haemorrhage - one of the blood vessels in his brain had a weak wall somewhere along the line; it blew and killed him. It was sad, he was young, it shouldn't have happened, but whatever Moir claims, these things do happen. Sometimes, things wear out and people die at a time when you wouldn't expect them to. The human body is ... well, it's a really weird and imperfect system. No two are the same. Sometimes, shit happens. People who treat their bodies appallingly can live long and moderately healthy lives while people who live as healthy a lifestyle as possible die of cancer that came out of nowhere. It happens, particularly when (as stated by Gately's mother) existing genetic predispositions are involved.

So what was the point of this article? Sensationalism, that's what. I write columns, and frankly, there's enough to get up in arms about in the celebrity world without painting some poor guy whose only crime was being gay and famous and dying young as having died a sleazy death. I hope to as many gods as I can name that this witch never works in journalism again - not only is what she did disrespectful, cruel, libellous and bigoted in the extreme, it's also unprofessional. To cite the facts and then dismiss them as irrelevant in the face of her own opinion? That's poor journalism taken to a whole new level; a level where it can't even be judged on a scale from one to SUCK.

So in short, I think Charlie Brooker says it better than I ever could; hideous woman needs stamping on by any journalistic standards agency that can be called upon. This should not set a precedent. This is not okay. This is not journalism. This woman needs to never work in journalism again.
thessalian: (angry)
Dear work:

You need to let me go because I'm a paid by the hour temp trying to eke out work that doesn't exist in your office? Or you just don't want to deal with my agency anymore because of the shit some woman pulled that dropped our entire server? I'm not exactly happy with that, but as I'm awaiting news of yesterday's interview and my agencies are still working to find me something new, I can accept that. I did see it coming a mile away, after all.

However, I do not accept you telling me that I'm done for the day at around about lunchtime and that you'll see me tomorrow, then calling my agency and telling them that you don't need me anymore. Because it looks for all the world like you're hoping that I somehow won't bother to come back to get my timesheet signed, thus screwing me out of ... okay, not much pay, as there hasn't been much work this week, but every little helps. Thankfully, my agency is staffed with pretty good people who rang me immediately upon hearing this and making damn sure that I knew that the contract was terminated and that I would get my timesheet signed and faxed out. Also thankfully, I hadn't even got on the Tube yet, deciding to wander down Leicester Square way instead, so I wasn't far from the office when I found out about this.

So I'm sorry if you were narked off when I barged back into the office five minutes after I left, rummaged through my desk for my things, double-checked my timesheet and then more or less descended on HR like an avenging Fury with a request to get my timesheet signed. Because, you see, I was narked off that you were too cowardly to tell me to my face that my services were no longer required, and even more narked off that you actively tried to shaft me out of about two and a half days' pay.

The temp who tried desperately to get stuff done and could've been stellar if you'd actually given her a damn bit of work once in awhile.

Okay. I think I can be calm now. Yay for reasonably cheap net cafes where I can rant like a ranty thing. Here's hoping that I get that Harley Street job I interviewed for yesterday so I don't have to worry about this. The agency is really apologetic and is still keeping an eye out in case the Harley Street thing doesn't work out. I just don't believe that they would try to pull this shit. ...Actually, who am I kidding? Yes I do; they're the ones who, the last time I worked for them, called my agency to terminate the contract when I was sitting three desks away, thus letting the agency tell me that the contract was over by phone. This was half-three on a Friday when I didn't have my agency contact numbers, which really screwed me over for the following week, so at least this time I planned ahead. *grumblesnarl* Why did I agree to work for them again? Oh yeah; because I didn't realise until after the interview and frankly, I needed a job and was optimistic. Optimism bites.

Grumbly, frustrated and wanting to beat the living crap out of something. Maybe I should go burn some energy on DDR or something. I miss my computer, where I could go play some FFXI and beat the living crap out of some Gigas when I felt like this. Still, my stepdad emailed me yesterday saying that yes, the computer I picked out was fine, I had reasoned out my choice well, yadda yadda, so I should be getting it soon. And at least this does give me sufficient time to go get an audience with my GP - I say audience rather than appointment because all I need him to do is write down on the back of a passport photo that yes, I am who I say I am. Passport renewal - win.

So ... looking at the happy things:

- New computer impending
- Possible Harley Street job
- Seventeen chapters of 'Birth Rites' (new title of book 2) roughed out
- Managed to at least get timesheet signed despite the attempted screwing

...Still want to hit things.
thessalian: (yay)
Not that I'm per se complaining, but ... does any employment agency know what they're doing?

See, on Thursday last, I went for an interview that I was really excited about. I was told I'd hear by Monday. Monday afternoon, I emailed the agency lady who got me the interview because I had not as yet heard back. She emailed me back saying, "No, sorry, you did not get the job. Did you want me to set you up for that other interview on Thursday coming?" I said fine but was really disappointed. The medicolegal thing sounded perfect and I couldn't think what I'd done wrong in the interview.

In any case, I got a call from another lady at the agency this morning, asking if I'd got feedback from last week's interview. I told her that I hadn't heard anything bar "No, sorry, you didn't get it". This agency lady sounded confused and said that she wasn't entirely sure where first agency lady had got that idea because the HR lady at the company was running a background check on me so that she can offer me a contract. Turns out that, provided there's nothing they don't like in my background (and I can't think of anything off the top of my head), the job is mine! I'm holding off on total squeefest until my background check goes through, just in case, but ... *bouncebouncebouncebouncebounce*

So now I celebrate and relax with Leverage S1 (blame [ profile] mitchy) and possibly farming Ivory Lizards in Yuhtunga Jungle. Oh, and more coffee.
thessalian: (Rant)
There's a lot about people, the internet and fandom that I do not in the least understand, and I admit it freely. And, because I'm trying to put off the Chapter 18 editing job that I do not want to do just yet (but I will, I will, and it will go up tonight, swear down), I'm going to discuss it here. It'll help keep my journal from growing cobwebs.

Cut for length and potential spoilers )

In the end, it all boils down to redemption and justification. People need to elevate things so that they can feel justified in their enjoyment of them. It's not enough to just like the thing for what it is; there has to be something more to it so that they don't feel like they're subsisting on a Twinkie-only diet or something. Whether it's turning around and saying that Twilight and its sequels are up there with Great Expectations or insisting that a scene that implies nothing but lust and domination means eventual Great Romance, it needs to be better than it is. Which I just don't get. Twilight isn't great literature, and it isn't great romance. It isn't even romance; it's an obsessive, co-dependent mess. So are a lot of truly cracktastic ships. And whatever logic says about the unworkability of these things, there will be people who will bite your head clean off if you ever suggest that maybe there's another way of looking at it all.

Put simply: I don't judge people who enjoy Twilight, or want to see Sansa's love redeem the Hound, or write about how Theon, Jon and Robb share a bed. I certainly don't judge people who need to insert romance where there is none. I judge those who call me names for my opinions of Twilight, or who insist to me that 'Thejobb' is "OMG TOTALLY CANON!", but that's because they're denying me the right I've given them; the right to my own opinion, and to share it in a reasonable manner. However, I don't get it and I never, ever will. I don't honestly think there's anything to get, honestly. We all have opinions, and everyone's mind works in different ways. Mine's different from those of others, is all.
thessalian: (Rant)
Oh, what. The fucking. Fuck?

The above article is talking about how being against gay marriage is not the sole domain of religious zealots and homophobic bigots. No, he's quite right. Apparently, it's also the stance of misogynist arseholes who take their ideas of marriage from a couple of centuries back.

He talks about the 'kinship system', and I have no fucking idea what that's supposed to mean. There's talk about how marriage is supposed to protect a woman from rape and degradation, which makes no sense to me because frankly, it's not like any would-be rapist is going to care that the woman he's about to take by force is wearing a wedding ring. As to the degradation, given that he's talking about the days when women were more or less handed over as chattel to any suitable man who could afford the dowry like a cow being sold at market? I'd say that's pretty fucking degrading, wouldn't you? He talks about how there are no guidelines for who gay men may or may not get involved with, whereas marriage traditionally carries the responsibility of having to marry the good [insert religion and race here] guy from the next farm over so that they can be merged when both sets of parents die. Oh, and protecting the children from bastardy; that's apparently a really fucking important part of marriage. It's not about people loving each other and that kind of thing. Oooooooooooh no. Marriage isn't about love; it's about chains. Or at least, so this fuckbake says.

I should point something out at this stage: I am, technically speaking, a bastard. My parents weren't married when they had me. They did get married, but they did it a fair bit after I was born - in the wedding photos, there's a shot of me toddling around Mum's room with her pearls clutched in my little fist with Mum bending down, laughing, to take them back. Point is that my parents got married because they wanted to; they didn't do it for me. They'd been living together for years before they got married, so all the 'kinship' crap or whatever had obviously been taken care of. Even the name issue was dealt with before they got married; my mother had her name changed by usage because she wasn't overly keen on her own surname. (It's kind of clumsy, so I don't suppose I blame her.) Anyway, being a bastard didn't exactly hurt me. It's not a massive stain on my name. I don't really care, and neither does anyone else these days. Being born out of wedlock? Whoop-de-do. We're not living in the Dark Ages, people. We don't have to get married to have kids or marry some guy we may not even like to consolidate our parents' agricultural interests. And it's not about a man sheltering a woman from the big bad world!

These days, the responsibilities of marriage are very different, simply because of the changes that have taken place in the world. Marriage is about legal bulwarks for the future. It's to allow the person you love and trust most in all the world to make the decisions you would want made in the event that you can't make them yourself (DNR orders and other medical issues). It's to allow your best friend and love of your life to be able to handle your estate if you predecease them. (We had issues with that one about a decade ago because my grandmother was only common-law married to my (step-)grandfather and when he died, Grampa's son-in-law got greedy and it was a mess.) It's about all those things that this moron isn't even considering. While he's looking at marriage from a fifteenth-century point of view, some of us are here in the 21st century. You know, where we all live?

I don't know whether it's good or bad to see that there's more to the people who voted Prop 8 than bigotry-spurred dog-in-the-manger tactics or the intolerance only religion can breed. It'd be nice to know that it was limited to that, but instead we live in a world that still reduces women to chattel. Moooooooo. I DON'T FUCKING THINK SO.

*sigh* To quote a magnificent bastard, "I hate it here".
thessalian: (wannabe)
Sex Ed to be made compulsory in British schools ... but faith schools will be permitted to preach against contraception, sex before marriage and homosexuality in-curriculum.

I'm honestly not sure what to think about this. I mean, it's great that sex education is being made mandatory; really it is. I suppose I'm wondering, though, why we can't rely on parents to teach their kids anything anymore.

Look, it's simple: for facts, you go to school. For moral grounding and that sort of thing, you turn to parents. Maybe one's parish. Schools are not a place to be preached at; schools are not a place where the moral and theological values of the teachers should be foisted on the students. Children should be given the facts and encouraged, in view of these facts, to come to their own conclusions, without having their thoughts on the matter twisted into something ugly by the biases of zealots. I don't care if we're talking about 'faith schools'; that's not an excuse to ram "gays are bad and no sex for you!" down kids' throats.

I mentioned recently that people should not go into the medical profession if their main purpose is to foist their ideologies on their patients. Pharmacists should not be given licence to not give the oral contraceptive pill or morning-after pill to people with a valid prescription; general practitioners should not be permitted to refuse to prescribe contraception, emergency or otherwise, nor should they give women medical advice based on their being 'pre-pregnant'; people working in sexual health clinics should not be able to turn away women who are seeking an abortion. (Okay, I think that there should be checks and balances so that women aren't using abortion as a contraceptive method, but see above - if the morning-after pill is widely available, women won't have to be in a position to do that anyway - who wants to have a D&C when they could just take the morning-after pill in case of accidents or worse?) It's not the place of the medical profession to dictate the morals of others in terms of sexual behaviour.

Same with schools. So long as you are giving these kids the facts about sex - including, in a dispassionate manner, the potential consequences of irresponsible behaviour - that's where an educator's responsibility ends when it comes to sex. It's not their place to force a code of sexual behaviour on kids. That is what parents are for. So long as they're not shagging each other bandy in dorm rooms or bike sheds or janitors' cupboards or whatever, it's not an educator's business who their pupils are having sex with. If these kids want to have a religious education on such matters, they know where their church is. If they want the moral view? Parish or parents. Not classroom time. Not even in faith schools. Because some people go to faith schools because they are good schools, not because they are of a particular religious leaning, and it's not fair to them to force these matters on them. The kids who do believe? They'll get the message from one source or another.

This is senseless. The step forward made by insisting that sex education be taught in schools is being totally negated by allowing bigotry to be taught (preached, as the article said - preached, for fuck's sake, as if a classroom should come equipped with pulpit!) in the educational arena. I'm all for free speech, but can we stick to the facts when it comes to school time?
thessalian: (bugger off)
So ... let me get this straight. The Sci-Fi Channel is now becoming Syfy, in a bid to "cultivate a distinct point of view with a name that we could own that invites more people in and recognizes our broader range of programming with literally something for everyone".

...Just one sentence fragment; so many problems.

Apparently, part of it is the fact that they can't copyright the name 'Sci-Fi', because it's already such a commonly used phrase. So they can't make money off of everything with 'Sci-Fi' stamped on it. This is bad. Therefore, they change the name to something that they can copyright, slap on things and make money. This is ... well, they think this is good, but ... not so much. Particularly given that part of their argument seems to have been "When we tested this new name, the thing that we got back from our 18-to-34 techno-savvy crowd, which is quite a lot of our audience, is actually this is how you’d text it". Coming from a 32-year-old techno-savvy individual the likes of me, I think I can safely say ... no. No it isn't. If I was going to text it, I'd text it 'scifi', or I'd text it 'SF'. But then, I'm relatively anal about spelling and refuse to use 'txt-speak' unless I'm being ironic. They're not being ironic. The people I know about (but don't know personally, I grant) who would text Sci-Fi that way are borderline illiterates in their mid-teens who wouldn't even use the word to begin with.

On the whole, the drive seems to be money: get in more viewers, broaden the programming horizons, blah-de-blah. What they seem to be missing is the fact that they are a speciality channel, started to specifically cater for the very audience they're trying to move away from with all due speed. They talk about polling their 18-34 tech-savvy crowd, and I can't imagine that said crowd wants anything to do with the programming that's been coming out on that channel just of late. To be fair, I don't watch it. To be equally fair, I don't have to. This is the internet. Gossip abounds. Fans of Something Positive may remember this strip, about Monette's reaction to having her next acting role be on a Sci-Fi Channel original movie. I don't necessarily agree with people bitching about Ghosthunters being on Sci-Fi, but I definitely get behind the complaints about the wrestling - we've eliminated both the science and the fiction there. I believe in viewing sci-fi as more than 'flying squid' as much as the next person - it doesn't have to involve aliens or spaceships to be sci-fi in my view - but ... wrestling? Seriously? What exactly are people trying to pull here?

The 'new programming' that is supposed to appeal to all comers is ... well, the example they give is something called Warehouse 13, and are quoted to say "It is a dramedy and it is set in the here and now. It's a kind of an Indiana Jones meets 'Moonlighting' meets 'The X-Files,'" which makes me go "...bwuh?!?" I'm really not sure how any of those three things mesh, and in any case, I'm betting a fair bit of their core audience barely knows what Moonlighting actually is. (For those of you who don't, Moonlighting starred Cybil Sheppard and Bruce Willis as madcap private eyes or something, and the core of it was their 'will they?/won't they?' potential romance. Think The X-Files without the government conspiracy angle, propensity for the weird and the juvenile sense of humour of any 80s sitcom you care to name.) It sounds fucking inane.

The thing they're not getting, I think, is that being generic is bad. When you become generic, you become forgettable, a face in the crowd, and people don't pay attention to just one more face in the crowd unless they're offering something specific and special and awesome. They're buying into this monoculture bullshit - the one that goes something along the lines of "everyone has the exact same tastes across the board". The one that tries to please all of the people, all of the time and falls short for everyone because it's just not possible. They forget how specialisation is actually a marketing cornerstone - give people what nobody else can, do a specific thing better than anyone else does, and watch the world beat a path to your door. We don't want a monoculture. It doesn't work. People are too different in their tastes. Everyone's going to want something different, and they're going to want it at different times. People have moods and phases, after all.

In short, I have the following message concerning what Syfy is up to:

Body Image

Dec. 24th, 2008 03:02 am
thessalian: (Default)
Jennifer Connelly: Mulholland Falls era.

Jennifer Connelly: now.

...WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED? In 1996 ... I mean, I'd hit that. But now look at her! What happened to her boobs? She was ... I believe the term I've seen used once was 'racktacular'. Not too much, but enough to be ogle-worthy. Now she looks like a freakin' praying mantis! The only people I can really see wanting to hit that are seriously hardcore necrophiliacs.

(Edit: Apparently she had a double mastectomy six years ago, so smaller cup size owing to reconstruction, although Google nets me nothing about this, though there is a rumour about breast reduction surgery. Whatever the case, this in no way invalidates anything else I'm saying here - look at her arms! Look at her legs! Hell, look at her face!!! You can see the shape of her skull in her face!)

So ... anorexia? Hard-core drug habit? Cancer? WHAT? I mean, am I wrong in thinking that that's not just unattractive, but horrifying?

My mother used to obsess about my weight when I was younger, and my relationship with food used to be a bit weird. This is the sort of thing that makes me glad I never had it worse, and that I stuck to my guns with the "I'd rather be fat than miserable, thank you" line. Because seriously, I'd rather be my roly-poly Bogganish self than look like that.
thessalian: (wannabe)
I'd post word count, but ... not right now.

LAPD follow a grand old tradition from the days of Rodney King: arresting and beating protestors. Also the following offences:

- Arresting them and not reading them the Miranda until 25 minutes later
- Holding them without proper charge for several hours
- Obliging them to go for six hours without their permitted phone call
- Not being helpful in contacting a helpline to discuss bail
- No one took a statement AT ALL

I am angry. There are no words but *flail*. And y'know what gets me worst? It's the people who are saying, "Prop 8 was the way to go; you gays shut up". And there are so many of them!

It occurs that I haven't heard anything about the three million absentee ballots and so forth being counted. It'd be really funny if after all this, it got overturned. Though this was days ago and so I don't hold out a lot of hope of that hilarious outcome.

I don't agree overmuch with how either side is handling it - you don't rip someone's "Yes To Prop 8" sign off their car, but you don't punch them for doing so either. You don't beat down protesters. You don't shove them so hard they trip into walls, and you don't punch them, or their friends who are trying to make sure the shoved party is alright. You just DON'T. What the fuck is wrong with the LAPD?!?

And, a quote brought to my attention by [ profile] aberranteyes: "If you're against gay marriage, don't have one". Best way to sum this up I ever heard.
thessalian: (wtf)
Okay, Gobama, yeah, yeah. Except.

WTF, California?!?!?*

I live in a country where one can be accosted in a pub toilet by a drunken BNP reject and lambasted about not wanting "some fucking coon" in the White House, and we allow same-sex marriages. So did you, not so long ago. Were heterosexual marriages damaged in any way? Did anything about your life change all that much just because two people of the same gender who love each other decided they wanted to make a lifelong commitment to each other? Really? Seriously? Because I don't fucking well see how. And yet you voted to make the lives of people who have done nothing wrong just a little bit harder.

Congratu-fucking-lations. You're arsehats.

Here's a news flash, people. IT CANNOT HURT YOU JUST BY EXISTING! Fine, you have morals and you are welcome to them, but foisting them on other people just because you feel that it's OMGTEHAWFUL is NOT ON. It is not your job to dictate who people can love, who they can have sex with and who they can marry. No, it isn't, fuck off! It does no harm to you! It does not threaten your marriage, or the marriage of any heterosexual couple that wants to go that way! Same-sex marriage is not a threat! And you can't force people to 'go straight' just by restricting their rights to be a couple in the eyes of the law! Gods, when the UK allowed gay marriage, there was a news blurb about a male-male couple that stayed together when the very act of being with another man was illegal; do you think you're going to stop people from being with the one they love just by passing a couple of bigoted laws on the matter? Dream. The fuck. On.

And so what does this achieve? It just makes life harder for decent people who aren't hurting anyone? Why does an idea offend people so much that they feel they have to prevent it? I'm so fed up with this concept of, "If I don't like it, it has to not exist". If there's a concept of law that isn't hurting you or anyone else ... fucking well ignore it!!! You won't even know it's there, you know!

Thanks, California, for renewing my faith in humanity only to shatter it into a million jagged pieces in the span of a single day.

* - by California, I do not mean [ profile] beepbeep, [ profile] happypickle, [ profile] nightskywarlock, [ profile] msgeek, [ profile] dburr, [ profile] mer_moon or any of the other sane people I know there. I mean the rest of you. The ones who voted for STUPID.
thessalian: (wtf)
Okay, I was going to have a nice calm day of Simming. And I will. Later. Now, though, news horror. Of course, it's all American, but given how much the rest of the Western world follows that (sorry) utterly bug-fucked country, it's legitimate to be worried about the asinine shit that some of their number comes up with.

[ profile] zoethe flags up a Time article about how women hate Sarah Palin because they're catty bitches. I'm not sure which I'm more offended by - the labelling of a catty, insipid moo led entirely by hormones and issues in my every decision ... or the fact that she ends up calling the idea of making people pay for their own rape test kits 'benign'. I do not understand why this woman thinks that other women do not follow any sort of logic in their decision-making process. I don't hate women because they're prettier than me, or more confident than me, and the only reason I hate women who fuck up in positions of power is because of how poor decisions, particularly in government office, affect those lower down the chain, and a man would be lowered in my esteem for that just as much. And I say that because ... I don't hate Palin. I don't know Palin to hate her. To really hate someone, I have to know who they are, and I won't pretend that I do just from sound bytes and so forth. I do not think that she is skilled enough in politics to be vice-president, and I disagree with most of her policies, and I think that her candidacy was the biggest mistake the Republicans could have made, but I do not hate her. Luscombe needs to grow the hell up, or else someone's going to take her more seriously than is warranted and we're going to end up with the New Gilead thing in more ways than one.

And then there's the new law allowing children up to the age of 19 to be abandoned at hospitals without prosecution. This apparently started in Texas in 1999, and since it was passed in Nebraska this July, fourteen children have been abandoned at hospitals, most in their teens. And the one woman who made the mistake of bringing her fourteen-year-old to a police department, thinking that was covered under this new law, said that she "did not want to care for him anymore". And then...

On September 13 a woman took her 11-year-old grandson to a hospital in Omaha complaining he was violent and destructive and saying he would be better off in a group home. The boy is now in foster care. The same day a boy aged 15 was abandoned in Lincoln by his aunt, who said he was disobedient and a possible gang member. "I didn't abandon him," she told the Omaha World Herald. "I wanted help for him so when he hits 18 he's not a menace to society."

There are few to no words for this. You're going to end up with little kids turning up at hospitals, turning up at hospitals and handing notes to A&E doctors saying, "Mummy said to give you this". And then an A&E doctor will read this ... this "Take my child and put it somewhere because I can't cope" note, and this doctor's going to have to tell this child something and ... gods, the kid won't be able to cope, the doctors won't be able to cope, and then you're going to end up with the group homes and foster care system overcrowded, overpressured, underfunded... It's a recipe for broken people in a broken country and ... I mean, I did not always feel like a wanted child and look how I ended up a few years back! What's it going to do to kids and teens when they're abandoned at hospitals because their parents obviously don't love them enough? This in a state basically run by the right-wing 'family first' types?

My heart and my head are both slightly broken over these things. It actually hurts. Where is the love and common sense? Just ... why do these things happen? When people don't want to allow abortions because they could be used as a substitute for birth control but people are allowed to abandon their grown, cognisant children at hospitals just to get said children off their hands, when grown women are accused by other grown women of voting with their high school bitch-grudge hats on ... what do you do?
thessalian: (vengeance)
NHS patient records may be sold to private firms.

There are no words to describe the horror I am feeling right now. There are some serious confidentiality issues here - often, post codes will be given along with the anonymised records, which is enough to trace somebody (apparently, all you really need to get a letter delivered in this country is a post code and a house number). Other times, patient names will be given along with the information one trusts to be confidential. And in order to get out of getting your medical information used as some sort of market research study, you have to apply for it under the Data Protection Act. Since when has patient confidentiality been something that you had to apply for? Isn't it one of those things that is supposed to come as standard, and it's for you to choose who to tell about the details of your illnesses?

I can understand the reasoning behind breaking patient confidentiality in some instances, to be fair - and those entirely in the case where a report has to be given to the police for the patient's well-being, one way or another. If a patient comes in with a gunshot wound, for instance. If someone comes in showing the signs of domestic violence. If someone admits to comission of murder to their therapist. But I don't believe that drug overdoses should be reported to the police (not sure if they are or not) or if a therapy patient admits to shoplifting or something. And if I don't believe that all medical cases that involve an instance of breaking the law should be reported to the police, you know I don't believe for a second that patients should have to fill out paperwork (likely difficult to get hold of, requiring a GP visit they don't actually need, so time out of their work week, and liable to be 'lost in the system') just to make sure their personal health data doesn't fall into the hands of money-grubbing yahoos.

This. Isn't. Right. I mean, don't get me wrong - I am profoundly grateful for the public health service we get in this country. For the most part, it works - patients get seen. People who couldn't afford treatment at least get the basics. I can see a GP whenever I need to without being charged for it, and the cost for most prescriptions is reasonably low. I don't like how dentistry is still shriekingly expensive no matter what you do, and I don't like the fact that I need to pay through the nose for a pair of glasses that actually help me, but on the whole, I've got it a lot better than a lot of people I know in the US, trying to get through with serious medical conditions and no insurance.

However, while I am grateful for what I have, I am seeing alarming turns for the worse in this system. Primary Care Trusts refusing to prescribe life-saving medications for patients because they don't want to justify the expense, just for a start. And this? This is beyond the fucking pale. I'm sorry, but the government is going to have to understand that the NHS is not a business. It is not meant to make money. It is not meant to turn a profit. It is not supposed to be crawling with middle management arseholes sucking up the money to set meaningless targets for people who then don't have the time or resources to actually meet the targets because all the time and money is going to the middle management arseholes. I don't mind paying taxes for a system that works reasonably well. I do mind the NHS using my personal details as a saleable commodity.

Now I need to figure out who to ask to make absolutely godsdamned sure that when this kicks off (and I don't kid myself that it's going to be an 'if' situation - protest in this country isn't for shit), my records aren't going to be among those handed over to private firms so they can tailor what they sell to the NHS to best suit their profit margins. No. Thank you.


thessalian: (Default)

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