perlmonger: (Default)
There are radical arguments against marriage equality, chiefly that legitimising some gay relationships allows some (nice, presentable) gay folks their place in a leafy suburban semi, removing what solidarity they might otherwise have offered to their less cis, more stridently, terrifyingly genderqueer, more polyamorous fellow humans. It's an argument I have sympathy with. Reactionary arguments are another matter. These seem to fall into two main (and overlapping categories):

1. It's *wrong*, because God says it's wrong. End of. It's extraordinary how flexible and pragmatic God would have to be if He existed, to decree Laws that match the prejudices of His followers so well. Declaring a New Covenant was a master stroke, allowing pick'n'mix from the Old while, of course, the actual provisions of the New can be quietly ignored as the naïve, leftist claptrap they are. Marriage-is-for-reproduction comes up too, of course, but hardly worthy of serious attention given child-free het marriages on one side, and surrogacy, adoption and (coming soon to a future near here) actual, if technologically aided, conception for Lesbian couples.

2. More worrying is the slippery slope argument: if chaps can marry chaps, what's to prevent them marrying their horses, eh? The obvious and essentially irrefutable argument that horses, like children or chameleons, can't give informed consent doesn't seem to have any impact. The only conclusion I can come to is that people making this argument don't believe in equal partnership and consent in cis/het marriages either: if a man can take a woman as his chattel with no right of appeal from her, I guess there's nothing but a non-existent God between a man and the sheep he would wed. May they be very happy together.
perlmonger: (1984)

Originally uploaded by Stray Toaster.
Thanks to [ profile] hashbangperl for pointing me at this photoset.

Looking through the set, I found links to this incident, and thence to this one. Still, the innocent have nothing to fear, eh?
perlmonger: (anarchism)
off with their headsSounds good to me.

If you're in or around Bristol in the next week and a half, you might want to pop along to one or many of this year's Bristol Radical History Week events.

Fun for all the family!

perlmonger: (revolting)

I expect anyone of a Bristolish persuasion reading this will already know it's happening, from [ profile] quercus and elsewhere: Zombies invading Babylon Circus in the Slavers' Quarter tomorrow:

In recent times government & commerce tried to turn us into mindless consumers,
time to show them what horrors their policies have spawned.

Zombies Rise up & Invade Cabot Circus

Saturday 27th September 2008

Assemble at the Bandstand in Castle Park, Bristol
at 11:00am, shamble & lurch from noon.

A protest against over-consumerisation and the homogenisation of city centres.

A homage to George A. Romero’s classic film Dawn of the Dead.

An absurd and amusing day out for all your family and friends.

I thought it worth a repeat as I just read the datapoint that "[m]edium-sized cities seem are more apt to suffer from “placelessness”—the debilitating condition that saps a community of civic and economic vitality due to a lack of distinctive local character and lively public spaces" and "inflict huge damage on themselves, such as bulldozing the heart of downtown to build a parking ramp, high-rise hotel, convention center, corporate headquarters, or stadium."

Bristol, of course, still does have a sense of place: in Easton, in St Pauls, in Totterdown, on North Street and Gloucester Road. But for how much longer as enclosure of public spaces and destruction of communities by demolition and the ethnic cleansing of gentrification continues? How many shops have closed, replaced by wine bars and worse, in the last couple of years on those two streets I mentioned?

perlmonger: (revolting)
I'm assuming (I hope with justification) that any EU citizen reading this has already been in touch with their MEPs about the impending amendments to the Telecoms Package.

FWIW, here's my base email (I amended it slightly depending on to whom it was addressed):
I am writing to you as a constituent asking you to exert whatever influence you have with members of the IMCO and IMTR committees of the European Parliament to vote against amendments 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 that have been introduced into the Telecoms package.

These amendments were introduced under the influence of industry lobbyists whose interests are in the attempted maintenance of obsolete business models that have become unsustainable; they are a stealth attempt to subvert earlier rejection by Parliament of explicit legislation to the same ends. The proposed measures are disproportionate, unworkable in practice, violate privacy and personal data security and would lead to entire families being denied access to the internet through the presumed guilt of one member.

The committees are scheduled to vote on this package tomorrow, 7th July, and I urge you to do what you can to have these amendments rejected and, failing that, to vote against the package yourself should it be presented for a vote by the Parliament as a whole.

I apologise for the lateness of this communication, but I only found out about this today myself: please do what you can to prevent these egregious measures being codified into European law and to ensure that the European Parliament continues to represent the interests of its electors, even where those conflict with the short-term advantage of multinational corporations and their lobbyists.


Jun. 13th, 2008 07:20 pm
perlmonger: (libdem)
Craig Murray reports that Chris Huhne has written to our glorious Home Secretary, asking her to reverse the ban on Sunday's anti-shrub march. I reproduce his letter here:
Dear Home Secretary,

I am writing to urgently request that you review the decision of the Metropolitan Police to ban the anti-Bush march taking place this Sunday 15 June from marching down Whitehall. As you will be aware the Stop the War Coalition have organised dozens of peaceful marches past Downing Street, and I am deeply concerned that the request has been denied.

In this country we have a long tradition of peaceful protest and I would be shocked if British civil liberties were curtailed at the request of a foreign government. I hope that you can also confirm that the decision of the Metropolitan Police was not made at the request of the US authorities.

A static demonstration in Parliament Square is no replacement for a protest march down Whitehall and I urge you to work with the police and the protesters to ensure they are able to make their voices heard outside Downing Street. Just because the votes of these protesters cannot be bought does not mean that their voices should not be heard by those in 10 Downing Street.

Kind Regards,

Chris Huhne
Liberal Democrat Shadow Home Secretary
A good letter, I think you'll agree.

I voted for him as leader, as the lesser evil of the choices granted me by Cowley Street; it's probably my fault he lost: I've never in my life voted for a winning candidate, so I likely hexed his chances by my support.
perlmonger: (revolting)

In case you haven’t read this already at the Bristol Blogger or Bristol Radical History, something for you to drag yourself out of bed for tomorrow:

Mild, mild west

Stop the Gentrification of Central Bristol
By Roger BRHG

Saturday 12th April: Protest Against Gentrification of Central Bristol

11.00am Albany Green, St. Pauls and 2.00pm Broadmead (Centre)

Bristol is undergoing massive attacks on our free spaces and culture by property developers and their friends in the City Council. Across the city green spaces, pubs, clubs and amenities are being closed and sold off with little consultation with the communities affected.

So if you oppose the…

* Threat of closure of the clubs and pubs on Stokes Croft (Clockwork, Lakota, Blue Mountain, Junction)
* The threatened sell off of Castle Park to the developers
* The loss of playing fields and green spaces city-wide
* The ‘private streets’ of Cabot Circus
* The dispersion orders on College Green
* The removal of the Bristol-Bath cycle path
* The loss of pubs and meeting spaces in our communities

On Saturday 12th April there will be street protests against the gentrification of Central Bristol. There will be two meeting points:

11.00am Albany Green, St. Pauls: Join the ‘Bristol Space Invasion’ Carnival Parade as part of a europe wide weekend of action against the privatisation of public space

Joining with…

2.00pm Broadmead (Centre): ‘Save Stokes Croft from Gentrification’ party parade going to College Green

After the parades come along to Bristol Space Invasion Autonomous Zone featuring Art, performance, cinema, open-mic and live music - ALL FOR FREE! - Call 07528 953 230 or 07591 631 230 on the day for details of precise location.

Please show your opposition to the destruction of our places, spaces and culture, before its too late.

See you there….

Save Stokes Croft and Bristol Space Invasion

ETA there's more at Bristol Indymedia. This ain't just Bristol; it's an international weekend of action against commodification and enclosure of public space.

Check out what's happening where you live!


Apr. 1st, 2008 02:04 pm
perlmonger: (revolting)
Via City of Sound, Jason Kottke writes, prompted by a Salon interview with Pamela Paul, about parenting, children and the “toy” industry.

Can’t argue with a word; it’s hard to find anything for kids, even in supposedly enlightened outlets like ELC, that doesn’t take all initiative away from babies and children. Best to improvise, and let your kids do the same: they’ll be happier, learn more, and you’ll save a goodly wodge of money besides.

Parenting isn’t passive, and learning sure as fuck isn’t either.
perlmonger: (revolting)
An anonymous commenter posted the following in response to [ profile] niemandsrose in the comments to a post on generational changes, gender and language by [ profile] ozarque; this is primarily for my own reference, but it’s very much worth repeating in any case:
“We now live in a world that still believes such things, and now *also* believes that to mention them, to talk about them, to dialogue, is caving in to sexism. Examining the bedrock assumptions, especially our own, is taken as an admission of having ever had a sexist thought, and *that* is simply Not Done.”

This is the “No-Talk Rule”. It is the foundation upon which all abusive structures are built. You will find it in alcoholic families, in the families of battered spouses and children, in abusive churches, in sweatshops [including many, many white collar corporate ones]. And in totalitarian states, oh my yes.

No-Talk is a place where psychology and linguistics are so closely intertwined that I can’t see a way to separate them. The idea - simple and brilliant - is that as long as people are prohibited from talking about X, their ability to think about X, define it, understand it is severely curtailed. Their ability to actually do anything productive about X, of course, is completely pre-empted, since they can neither think nor talk about it effectively if at all.

And the attitude you describe, that to mention the abusive circumstances is to tacitly consent to them, or to be in some way a supporter of them? Magical thinking [ignore it and it will vanish - if you just do enough affirmations and mean them sincerely] combined with pernicious thought control [if you see it you must be it]. Again, these thought patterns are pushed in unhealthy groups of all shapes and sizes, from abusive families to worldwide cults. You will notice how beautifully [in the same sense a coral snake or lionfish is beautiful] these patterns push all responsibility for the abusiveness directly onto the person who perceives and articulates the abuse [usually because they are experiencing it].
Meg Umans comments:
Yes, well put. Thank you. There’s probably about as much sexism now as thirty years ago. As long as we don’t talk about it, though, it doesn’t really exist, right? And we can always blame the victims for speaking truth to power.
perlmonger: (pete)
Transforming a linear park joining communities across the city into a linear wall splitting them apart.

The Bristol Cycling Campaign meeting next Tuesday, to start a campaign group protesting the routing of a new guided bus route along the Bristol-Bath cycle path, has outgrown its initial venue and will now be in Easton Community Centre, Kilburn Street. Starts at 7:30, and you don’t have to be a cyclist to attend (plenty of Ordinary Non-Lycra-Wearing People use the cycle path and are as threatened by its desecration).

Be there or be somewhere else, but if you’re in the Bristol area (or Bath; the same sort of thing is threatened at the other end of the line), come along if you can. And sign the petition if you haven’t already.

Bus lanes and guided buses, yes, but not at the expense of cycle and pedestrian access, or with the destruction of community space.
perlmonger: (revolting)
If you haven’t already done so, please sign the petition asking the UKFO to “put all possible pressure on the Afghan government to prevent the execution of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh”. I’m dubious that this will have any influence on HMG, let alone the Afghan government, but that’s no reason not to try.

If you don’t know what I’m wittering about, read this.

[ HTT [ profile] rozk ]
perlmonger: (books)
Craig Murray gave his inaugural speech as rector of Dundee University on Wednesday, though you’ll not find anything of it on the University’s site. There’s Alan Langland’s introductory speech as VC and Principal, but nary a word from Murray.

The Scotsman has a report on the event which might indicate why, but for more context you would do best to read the actually speech, reproduced here below the cut. Hat tip to PJC, from whence I copied it (typos and all), who manages to stay on my read list by just balancing hyperbole and paranoia with a sufficiency of useful and interesting content and linkage.

Craig Murray's speech )
perlmonger: (1984)
Couple of things that deserve wider circulation.

Zombizi posts a rare entry on his blog about one of the many victims of the rule change in the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme.
Last November the UK government changed the rules for the Highly Skilled Migrant Programme. The shitty thing they have done is to apply these rules retrospectively, suddenly putting many people who had made their homes here at risk of deportation.

One such a person is my close personal friend and favourite Uncle, Bill Tonghoek. He pretty much scored maximum points in the test, except for the fact that he doesn’t have a university degree, leaving him 5 short of the requisite 75. If you were to spend more than 5 minutes with the man you’d realise that there’s a very good reason for this. He’s clearly the most educated person on the planet and able run intellectual circles around most cardigan-wearing professors.... no university would have him. To say our country will be a poorer place without this high-earning, tax-paying, big-spending individual is a massive understatement, and not for the reasons stated above.
You can read what’s happening to his friend, and consider another way in which our government is being actively evil.

Elsewhere (via Cat Vincent), we find that in our brave NewLabour world, being overconfident in public is now an indication of criminal, nay, terrist intent. So be careful out there, youall, remember to shuffle in a fearful fashion, with your eyes cast down, lest you get dragged away as the subversive you surely are.
perlmonger: (1984)
[ profile] dkmnow is to be thanked for transcribing Troy Duster’s “Conditions for Guilt-Free Massacre”, chapter 3 in Sanctions for Evil: Sources of Social Destructiveness originally published in 1971.

It’s as relevant now as it was 36 years ago: Recommended reading.

[ edited to update link as per comment ]
perlmonger: (anarchism)

Craigmillar Library Mural
Originally uploaded by Andrew Niddrie.
On Craigmillar Community Library
Here as a result of a hard won community fight. Authorities argued, “People in Craigmillar don’t read”. It has recently won national acclaim for their “Book for Babies” initiative.

On power and powerlessness
Claims by the powerful that the powerless exploit often conceal acts where the powerless attained some power through cunning or intelligence, and left the powerful person feeling unjustly denied.

perlmonger: (1984)
We heard about this on the news; is it just me who thinks that it’s the thin edge of a very thick wedge indeed? We’ve already had this in the campaign to get people to shop benefit “cheats” and it all helps nicely in propagating an atmosphere of distrust and fear. Does it benefit anyone at all but the government? And who will be the first person snitched out of malice, for being in possession of a dusky complexion, or just for a laugh? E M Forster applies, I think.

The news was followed by possibly the most egregious piece of blatant fearmongering I’ve yet heard from the post-Hutton BBC: File on Four on Iran and export controls. In the entire programme there wasn’t a single attempt to justify their prejudgements: Iran is uniquely evil; US export controls are necessary and correct if possibly a mite liberal; UK and EU controls are entirely inadequate, and as for the Polish courts releasing someone the US wanted (and want) extradited who had broken no EU or Polish law, words nearly failed them.

There was a magnificent example of tabloid “investigative” journalism when we had an extended description of Hampstead property prices leading to a description of a trader who, it was carefully pointed out, had done nothing illegal. His sin was to be of Iranian extraction, to be rich and to have sold on dual use tech to Tehran; his guilt confirmed by his refusal to speak to the odious shit wielding a hatchet at his front door.

Lest I be misunderstood, I hold little truck with the current Iranian regime. They are, however, no worse than many (most?) other governments and their current singling out as the focus of the axis of Teh Eval is mostly a matter of Realpolitik. It was pointed out that they are using whatever means are necessary to buy parts to keep their F-14s flying: it was not pointed out how on Earth else they could keep their air force operational when they’re under blockade.

Still, as long as we’re all kept in a state of fear, eh?
perlmonger: (1984)
From the comments to this:
I for one would happily support the imposition of stringent new restrictions on civil liberties, as long as they specified that any idiot who says “If you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear” was automatically locked up for the rest of their lives, on the grounds that their crushing stupidity represented a danger to public safety.

Rev. Stuart Campbell, Bath

[ heads up to [ profile] blue_condition for pointing me at this latest descent into totalitarianism ]
perlmonger: (pete)
Yesterday was the first time I’ve been in the children’s clothing section of a conventional retail store (Norwich M&S FWIW) for mumble years. It was a profoundly depressing experience: have we learned nothing as a society? The rigidity of gender stereotyping actually seems to be worse than I remember.

OK, not everything in society is worse. Overall, acceptance of non-heteronormative sexuality seems more widespread (though ghod knows not widespread enough) but, still, the retrenchment of patriarchy proceeds apace. I can hope that it’s a rearguard action - reactionary in the literal sense - but I fear otherwise. That feminism is dismissed, rejected, mocked when its insights are so obviously needed isn’t a good sign.

Oh, and if you’ve got this far, go read Piers Cawley on the continuing and far too rarely challenged sexism in geekdom.


Apr. 8th, 2007 09:17 am
perlmonger: (bleurgh)
Go read danah boyd on cyberbullying; that woman writes more sense on tech/society/youth issues than most other people put together.

(and yes, I was bullied, how did you guess? ;)
perlmonger: (quartic)
I had my restart interviewspeed choice workshop on Friday; ten eval skunnerz and two... leaders? presenters? indoctrinators? I’m not sure what to call them.

It was all quite civilised; a nice mixture of real information, dodgy statistics and emotional blackmail. I regret to write that I was a bit Difficult, pointing out logical failures in arguments advanced and failing to accept that mechanical enforcement of arbitrary speed limits is a substitute for traffic police with judgement and the ability to perceive other failure modes in driving. Another chap there does safety work for the AA and likewise pointed out factual errors in the presentation.

It’s not as though I’m against speed limits or, indeed, traffic cameras in principle; my objection is to the unquestionable assumption that breaking the law is intrinsically dangerous (in safety terms, as opposed to just being prosecuted) without regard to circumstance. If it’s possible to recognise that it can be, often is, dangerous to drive at anything approaching the limit, why is it so hard to accept that there might be times when going faster is acceptably safe?

I suppose I need to develop some respect for the law...

[wanders off muttering about people who fear life so much that they can’t accept the existence of any risk or danger, and somehow manage to believe that it’s possible (never mind about desirable) to legislate total safety, and at any cost. Life is intrinsically risky, and WE ALL DIE; live with it]


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