trixtah: (boom)
[A bit of 101 cross-posted from Fetlife]

I'm really sick of some individuals bitching about the term "rape culture". I realise it's confronting and in-your-face. It's intended to be.

It doesn't mean that women are labelling all or even most men as rapists. It certainly doesn't mean they are labelling YOU as a rapist - if that's the case, and they are speaking up, they won't be faffing around with that term - they would just say that "you're a rapist/abuser/creep". Simple.

But here is a nice concise definition to help explain the concept:

["Rape culture" is] referring to the culture that makes rape incredibly common, blames the victims for putting themselves in a position where they could be raped, and teaches women to avoid, at all costs, making a fuss over things that make them feel threatened, because they won’t be taken seriously anyway. It’s the culture that lets men get away with doing the things that make women feel threatened, because their feelings are so much more important than the women’s feelings.

To add to that, it's not just women (and trans* and gender-ambiguous people) who are subjected to the fallout of rape culture. It's the men who are supposed to believe they "can't help themselves". It's men being told that women have amazing skills at reading body language that men can't attain [1]. It's the decent guys who are supposed to yuk along with their mates making the shitty unwanted sexualised jokes and remarks [2]. It's being tarred with the same brush as that minority of men who go beyond the jokes and skeevy behaviour to actual sexual assault. As Kate Harding says:

...You and the guys you hang out with may not really mean anything by it when you talk about crazy bitches and dumb sluts and heh-heh-I’d-hit-that and you just can’t reason with them and you can’t live with ‘em can’t shoot ‘em and she’s obviously only dressed like that because she wants to get laid and if they can’t stand the heat they should get out of the kitchen and if they can’t play by the rules they don’t belong here and if they can’t take a little teasing they should quit and heh heh they’re only good for fucking and cleaning and they’re not fit to be leaders and they’re too emotional to run a business and they just want to get their hands on our money and if they’d just stop overreacting and telling themselves they’re victims they’d realize they actually have all the power in this society and white men aren’t even allowed to do anything anymore and and and…

I get that you don’t really mean that shit. I get that you’re just talking out your ass.

But please listen, and please trust me on this one: you have probably, at some point in your life, engaged in that kind of talk with a man who really, truly hates women–to the extent of having beaten and/or raped at least one. And you probably didn’t know which one he was.

And that guy? Thought you were on his side

And that is rape culture - the guys who do this shit thinking you and society in general [3] ARE on their side, implicitly. That "most guys" would do the same thing if they weren't too "pussywhipped" by "PC" or fear of the law.

Actually, most men don't rape, not because they are afraid of the law, but because they are decent. It's very simple. But given the constant harassment of women and other marginalised groups on the street, on public transport, at parties, at clubs, in the work place (if it's one of those work places), the low-level crap is part of the culture.

And that culture helps enable the men who do actually do the rapes and assaults because of the reluctance of us in society to follow up on the small shit and "have each other's backs". How many times have you laughed off some obviously-unwanted shitty remark or grab that a mate made? Every one of those occasions was when you had his back, not hers. It adds up.

And for the guys who get all up in arms and say "I'm not like that wah wah wah", well, if you're NOT like that, then any post on the internet discussing the problem is not about YOU. Really and truly. Does that help you focus on the actual problem now?

[1] Actually, men read body language with no problem pretty damn well constantly - you know when some dick at the pub is starting up the "are you looking at me?" routine, without him saying a word. You can walk into an office or a building site and spot who the bosses are. Etc etc.

[2] Sure, sometimes it's not unwanted, but there's a time and a place and the right jokes and right people.

[3] Yeah yeah, some few get prosecuted for rape - a minuscule proportion of the actual offenders.

trixtah: (Default)
So, there was a thread on dot_poly_snark over on LJ, where someone got snarked when they went all bawwwwww about their coming out to one friend who didn't immediately do the happy dance about the good news. And justifiably so.

But one person commented by saying in part, "But then generally, I don't get the whole "coming out" process for poly people. Just live your life and the people will either figure it out or they won't."

Obviously I'm just a big old queer with a chip on my shoulder, because this really irked me. And I had to rant in reply:

Mmmnh, so why would anyone bother coming out at all. Ok, I'm very slightly beyond "Queer Nation" myself, but if everyone chooses to remain invisible, society as a whole will certainly choose to continue ignoring you. I look as dykey as dykey can be, but it still irks the fuck out of me when people obviously decide not to "figure it out" and then force me to decide whether they are going to roll out the overt bigotry thing on me if I make it clear what my relationship status is, or just do the awkward why-are-you-making-me-deal-with-shit-outside-my-comfort-zone silence.

I know you're not precisely saying you are remaining invisible, but it's the more open people who ensure that we aren't ignored as a whole. Because being ignored is actually not that many steps away from being marginalised, excluded from the usual set of social rights, and then to outright persecution. No thanks, it's not long ago when I had no right to expect fair treatment in terms of retaining my job or accommodation.

I do however agree that people who get shocked and amazed when they give acquaintances confronting information that is not immediately welcomed with open arms are precious in the extreme. Not to wah on about privilege, but it's fascinating when (mostly) het white middle-class people realise that others will always consider them to be second-class citizens because of their "lifestyle choices".

I dunno, maybe I got a bit into lecture mode, but "letting people figure it out for themselves" is only a useful strategy when you're coming from a fairly secure base to begin with. I still don't overtly out myself at work, except to a selected few people, sometimes. Maybe I'm still paranoid, but fuck, we only got "rights" in NZ the year I officially came out. And given the whole gay marriage debacle, we still aren't fully equal citizens, according to most - I'm still not in favour of marriage as a whole, but this willful discrimination just serves to show we don't have "real" relationships and we're not "equal" in some fundamental ways. It's fucked up.

And I'm still fucking angry with Gillard, to give it some Australian context. Not that I can vote here, so it's all a bit moot.

Sick of it

Apr. 28th, 2010 08:21 pm
trixtah: (whatever)
I am getting really fucking tired of professional sceptics bagging on homeopathy as the absolute pinnacle of dangerously naive belief systems.That all homeopaths are wilfully putting people's lives at risk, that we are cynically exploiting people, that we are the ultimate in ripping people off under false pretences.

I get really irked when people compare homeopathy to religion. Actually, no, we don't expect you to "believe" in homeopathy. If you think it's bullshit, fine, fuck off somewhere else. Or take the remedy and perhaps be helped. We don't promise you'll be "saved" (or even cured) if you use it. We don't say "non-believers" are evil - in fact, we recommend  you go to the goddamned doctor for life-threatening or severe conditions. We don't start fucking wars with people who refuse to use it.

There is not an ethical homeopath on this planet who professes to know how it works; it just seems to. We know that it can't work scientifically - we could have told the idiots doing stupid stunts like trying to "poison" themselves with homeopathic Arsenicum that we know there aren't any fucking arsenic molecules left in the more diluted preparations. (Of course, it would have been interesting if the anal, nervy types prone to headaches and stomach upsets noticed any improvement afterwards). It could be a "placebo" or "counselling" or "faith" effect that makes remedies appear to work - if so, who the hell cares? I really don't know how a placebo could work to cure my 3-week-old nephew of jaundice, but it was probably "coincidence" that it went away within 48 hours of being given a remedy. And actually, I don't consider myself to be a "person of faith", and I can appreciate its effects (since I'm qualified in the thing, obviously I'm deluded in other ways).

I found a sceptics website that seemed to consist of lists of dodgy practitioners - and there are some - who endangered people's lives by recommending bizarre "treatments" (that actually weren't homeopathy as I know it) and recommended against conventional medicine. Again, a proper homeopath appreciates the role that conventional medicine plays in modern healthcare - hello, I'm quite happy that there are things like antibiotics and surgery. You're always going to get idiots - there are plenty of idiot doctors who will feed addictions, mete out inadequate care, make errors and refuse to refer you to the appropriate specialists. So, you get morons in any field; I also don't think there are that many more in the area of homeopathy compared to normal medicine, especially since it's so lightly regulated.

[Did you know that in Australia, you have to take out liability insurance if you're a professional homeopath? If it's "sugar pills", why the hell are they making homeopaths do that?]

Anyway, I'm fucking tired of it. No-one is making you spend your money on a homeopath. The vast majority of homeopaths are not wilfully trying to exploit you (no more than any other profession). We are not fucking stupid about the lack of scientific evidence about how it works. We don't pretend to know why or how, although there are some individual theories out there (some more-or-less crackpotty). Homeopaths are not devoid of scientific inquiry - in the late 18th Century, homeopaths were among the first to use a form of scientific method - have a hypothesis, test on healthy individual, test on sick individual to see if the remedy is effective - at the time when conventional medicine was saying quinine was effective on malaria because it tasted bitter. Every homeopath I know would be delighted to point at the actual mechanism and say "that's how it works". Again, we don't operate on faith.

We are not pretending to do anything other than perhaps help with your health issues - we don't promise a cure (legally, we can't, but it'd be stupid to do so anyway). The mental health professions, in particular, can't offer anything more than that themselves. So if you want to spend $100 an hour on someone who will examine your childhood issues, or someone who will assess your constitution and prescribe a potion, or play fucking shoot-em-up games in an arcade if it works out your tensions, why should anyone else be so vehemently against your doing so?

I really don't get it.
trixtah: (boom)
(following on from yesterday)


Fuck YOU )
trixtah: (Default)
So, I have been rereading Jane Eyre last week, which is probably in my top 5 best-loved novels, and during that time, I also happened to read a post on from a few months ago about "dog-whistle evo psych". So, I was nodding along quite happily - as you can imagine - and started trolling through the comments.

At 03:04 PM (the permalink to the comment doesn't seem to work for me), after a bit of thread-drift, Essie Elephant wrote apropos Jane Eyre: "It’s not a particularly feminist piece - read it today and you’ll think that it’s okay for men to keep their insane wives locked in the attic, for them to sexually harass the help and treat them like shit in order to provoke sexual tension and jealousy, and that it’s perfectly acceptable for missionary men to condescend to complete strangers, as long as they are women." ... "I tend to think that Austen et. al. is just something that can fall either way on the feminist scale, depending on how you chose to view it. And I think both views are correct."

I'm sorry, but what? WHAT? This person has obviously never heard of social mores, of it being a book ahead of its time in terms of (proto-) feminist sensibility, and actually, I don't recall Rochester "sexually harassing the help" until Jane expressed her own feelings to him. It was perfectly fine to lock insane people in your attic, and in fact would be considered to be the humane thing to do (rather than lock them up in an asylum). Of course, Rochester's motivations are a bit more complex than that, as is shown. Finally, there is the fact that the condescending missionary is portrayed as being a total tool, for chrissakes. There's more discussion on it downthread, but it seemed that this person was not going to be budged on his/her recollection of the novel's themes.

While I totally can relate to the fact that most things are relative and there are a myriad shades of grey, what the fuck is going on with the fence-sitting remark that "both views are correct" in terms of where the book can be situated on a feminist continuum? Seriously, bullshit. It either predominantly is, or it isn't. Forget this "both views are correct" crap.

I totally agree that a lot of it can be seen to be uncomfortable in terms of modern sensibilities. There is classism and racism. We don't generally lock madwomen up in our attics these days. The men are mostly arseholes and the women are treated like crap from our POV, because, hello, we are still not living an a post-feminist society, and they certainly weren't then. Jane often expresses her feelings towards Rochester in what could be seen to be submissive terms (like "master"), although I'd argue that "acts of service" are included in the "five love languages" that have been discussed everywhere for a reason (and it definitely seems to be one of Jane's predominant "languages", which she uses to express her feelings for everyone, male and female, that she cares about); and also, that a word like "master" has become somewhat less nuanced over the last 150 years.

But I can't see how, even if you aren't willing to contextualise all the foregoing in its era, you can't see the embodied feminism of the book. Despite all the propaganda of the time, with its assertions that women were the "weaker vessel" and inferior to men in every way, except, perhaps, in "moral suasion" (and the book is a little too early for that), Jane asserts her equality to Rochester as soon as she admits her love for him. In fact, by feeling equal to him, she can love him. She does this throughout - she feels that she is the equal to all the members of the aristocracy, the men, everyone she encounters. She states that her heart and her feelings are the same as a man's. It's an incredibly powerful notion for a woman of that time to assert her equality so positively (if silently, in the main, due to her position).

In addition to Jane's fundamental expectation of equality, every single time that Jane is confronted with a dilemma, she asserts her right to make her own choice. The words "choose" and "choice" are extremely important throughout the novel. She does what she thinks is right all along, and she is very conscious of exercising her choice. And of course, the notion that women could actually assert their own choices was pretty revolutionary in those days. It doesn't matter that Rochester and St John argued and tried to convince her that her choices weren't correct. See above about it not being a post-feminist society now, and certainly not then. And neither of them succeeded in persuading her to change her mind once it was made up, for the record.

There's also the aspect that as the whole book is about Jane observing and commenting on the various injustices that she is subject to, it is political, in that "personal is political" vein. No, she's not lobbying for votes - it's 50 years too early - but she's certainly not sitting there saying that injustice and oppression should be women's destiny (unlike the prevailing view of the time).

So, since the fundamental feminist view is that women should be considered to be societally equal to men, and that women should always have the right to exercise their own choices, it seems pretty evident to me that Jane Eyre does not contradict those principles, even though it doesn't exactly look like the way we expect feminism to be now.

The kind of argument that says it's not exactly like modern feminism (and which strain are we talking about? is it still "modern feminism" if it's Saudi women lobbying for the right to drive? what about Japanese or Afghani or Indian feminists, who have quite different feminisms to the Western kind?) reminds me of the weirdly distorted arguments that say that "gay" people are a modern invention. Sure, in terms of how gay identity is constructed now, but the argument also tends to obscure the fact that people who prefer same-sex partners have always existed. The way anyone constructs their identity is different to how it was 200 years ago... but we shouldn't neglect the precursors. In any case, as I've explained, I think that Jane Eyre presents a fairly modern feminist POV, even if the society in which it was expressed is quite different from ours.

(/rant of the day)

Also, I must see if I can download the Jane Eyre movie with Charlotte Gainsbourg in it. Although, William Hurt, eh. I liked the last Beeb version too, although Ruth Wilson's accent isn't sufficiently educated-sounding for someone who grew up in an upper-middle-class household and became a school teacher and governess fluent in French, even though she's perfect in other ways. I don't know what the Beeb were doing around then - there was also the stupid accent they had for Nan in Tipping the Velvet.
trixtah: (Default)
  • Even when you know exactly what you want, you can't get it.
All I want is a pair of black lace-up dress shoes. "Oxfords", in other words. No, I do not want police shoes, nurses' shoes, running shoes, walking shoes (although I should be able to walk in them), granny shoes, chunky soles, non-existent soles, high heels, chunky toes, or fucking patent leather. All I want is Plain. Black. Nice. Shoes. Slip-ons might be ok if they look sufficiently formal and have decent soles. And no heels.

There is no such thing at the Canberra Centre. I take it back - there was one pair of too-girlie shoes in patent leather and with no soles to speak of. You know, the thin leather that will wear through in about 6 months, when you're not skating across the floor. In desperation, I went to the men's shoe shop which had some things along the lines I wanted, but the only size 6s they had came with toes that made me look like Crunchie the Clown. Yes, my feet are smallish (they're actually a 5½ in UK sizing), but no, I don't want them looking like I should be accessorising them with my zoot suit.

I want shoes like THESE. Om nom nom nom. Actually, lots of those N.D.C. shoes are very nommy (excuse the slow-loading fucking Flash-based site). You know, I'd actually pay the ridiculous amounts of money for those shoes, but only available in sizes 35 and 36? God knows where they'd sell them in Oz, if they do.

I do not want shoes like these, which, the rip-off versions thereof, were pretty much what was on offer in most of the shops today. (BTW, vacuous fashion blogger lady, while some of those might be cute (on other people), and some of them look like something that women with bound feed might find comfy, they are not "oxfords".)
trixtah: (Default)
So, we liberal leftie types are supposed to tolerate difference, and accept individuality and yadda yadda. Well, I think we mostly do try. But after this Proposition 8 thing - and actually, I'm not a person who is interested in fighting for gay marriage, per se - it's time to point the finger and say that tolerating difference is fine up until the point that others start to impinge on our lives.

I hate what the LDS church is doing. I dislike the Mormon hierarchy and most of their doctrines. I think their interference in politics is dangerous, unethical and frankly revolting. There are plenty of people around who hate the Scientologists and what they do. Ok, they prey on vulnerable people, run questionable programmes, and try and scalp lots of money off the gullible. This is pretty much in common with plenty of religious/cult practice. As far as I know, however, they do not interfere in national politics, except to try and protect their tax-free status by maintaining they are a religion, and using copyright law to censor people.

I think the LDS, Catholic and Open Brethren (the latter, especially in the antipodes) churches are some of the more pernicious influences in the political landscape. They demand all the privileges of their status as religious bodies, while using their special influence on people's lives to attempt to direct their political choices. While demanding those legal privileges, they do their best to avoid any areas of the law of the land (taxes, anti-discrimination legislation, etc) that don't suit them, because, really, they only answer to a superior Law (the one that they invented).

They have a dangerous ethos that is like the Bush/Monroe Doctrine of ethics - we feel threatened, so we will invade your privacy and your rights, and we will do our best to create law that supports our particular line of moral judgement. It disgusts me and angers me.

I know people who are Catholic, and Mormon, and even a former Open Brethren. Most of them are decent people who say "live and let live", even if they don't precisely approve of my lifestyle. That's fine. I don't need their approval, I need their non-interference (where my life doesn't impact on theirs). What I don't understand is how such decent people can support institutions that go out of their way to interfere in my life. I don't know how they can revere the individuals who run these institutions and who make the decisions to invade my domain.

I know some of their members are "fighting from within" to achieve change (and look at the changes in the Anglican church over these last 30 years) - but now, in the present, regarding that vast majority in such institutions who support their political aims, tithe, attend services and cheer the hatred, and who then go along to the ballot box, just as their pastor has told them, and vote to take away our rights... right now, they disgust me. I don't ask for their acceptance, support or love. I want to live my life. I would love to be tolerant and say that I will be happy to let them live theirs. But when a prime focus of these churches, the Catholic, the Mormon, the Brethren, and many others, seems to be to deny me the right to live my life, then, I'm afraid, my tolerance for the quirks of others, and my tolerance of their living their lives at the expense of mine, disappears without a trace.

There are some words by Oliver Wendell Holmes that these churches could do to remember (in non-gendered language):

The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins.

If we swap "fist" with "unmandated political influence", and "nose" with "life", the analogy is obvious. In sum, butt the fuck out, and I will accord the same courtesy in return.
trixtah: (Servalan)
You're doing lots of good things at the moment - apologising to Aborigines, dismantling the stupid industrial relations laws, admitting that certain ministers have too much power. I appreciate it, I really do.

But, for the love of god, can you stop employing the term "working families" when you want to get all inclusive-languagey on us? I work. I don't have a family (ie. children), and I never will. I'm also old-fashioned enough to dislike the term "family" when used to refer to (generally married) childless couples. Plenty of people, who work and pay taxes, are single. Plenty of people, who are contributing members of society, are unable to work, for various reasons. Some of those (*koff*) layabouts aren't in "families" either.

So can we stop using the stupid bloody term? It's not inclusive, actually. Even if it did apply to me (and everyone else), it sounds as patronising as fuck. It's just as bad as the previous lot talking about "middle Australia", and that's saying something.
trixtah: (Default)
[ profile] saluqi and I went to the Farmers' Market yesterday, which really is one of the best things about Canberra. We successfully hunted and gathered and looked at the cute chickens. While I was concerned that [ profile] saluqi might want to abscond with one of the cute silkie chickens, I ended up being in more danger from a very determined young lady (hen), who seemed to want to become very closely aquainted with me. Well, if I'd had somewhere to stash chickens, I would have bought her. Who says that a bit of charm doesn't go amiss?

Also, the market is great because you can buy boobies (disguised as mushrooms). Very tasty they were, too.

While we're on the boob front (in the other, more negative sense of the word), would someone please tell the NRMA to stop mouthing off about bike paths? I pay them to provide me with a car breakdown service. I do not pay them to interfere with the provision of alternative transport means (which must be increasingly addressed with population growth - cars are simply not the only solution). I expect those kind of tactics from bloody oil companies. So, NRMA, butt the fuck out of it, and stick to providing your members with services, not political lobbying about a matter you evidently know bugger-all about.

I wrote an irate letter to their feedback form (in the "I would like to contact" field, I selected General/Enquiries, then I chose Member Advocacy from the "I would like to comment on" field that appears) , but I have also been looking for alternative arrangements - none so comprehensive so far, alas. Yay (virtual) monopoly. At least I don't pay them for insurance.
trixtah: (Servalan)
Despite the popular propaganda, most of NZ is not any further south than Australia is. Auckland (36°52S) is half a degree south of Canberra (35°18S), and 1½ degrees south of Sydney (34°S).

Wellington (41°17S) is 3½ degrees south of Melbourne (37°47S). Christchurch (43°31S) is not even a degree south of Hobart (42°54S). At 42 degrees, the length of a degree is 111km. Auckland is merely around 166km south of Sydney. ¾ of the country is thus in the same lats as the bottom half of Australia.

In other words, most of the people in NZ live in pretty much the same latitudes as most of the people in Australia. It is a bit colder in NZ over all, since it's surrounded by sea and is more mountainous. But it's not that cold.

(PS. I know plenty of Aussies who aren't so clueless - the ones on my flist, for example - but it amazes me to hear the same crap from people who should know better).
trixtah: (Servalan)
Yay me and homeopathy. My boss has been moping around at work for the last couple of weeks, and she explained to me on Friday that she was feeling incredibly stressed and had had a headache for that entire time. Aspirin didn't put a dent in it, and when I lent her some Neurofen (ibuprofen), it only took the edge off. I said I'd bring in a homeopathic potion on Monday if she was still feeling rough (I knew which one she probably needed because I'd done a mini-consult with her a few months back - while it was for digestive problems then, the remedy also addresses headaches).

Cut to yesterday, when I brought in the potion and asked her how she was doing. The headache was still with her and she hated the entire universe, including our manager. I gave her a few drops in some water and she took it. That was the extent of my consultation - on Friday, saying "that same thing might help", and yesterday, saying "take this". She came up to me mid-afternoon, and said that the headache was gone. Completely. She'd forgotten what it was like not to have it. She was still fine today.

So, bloody amazing "counselling effect", eh? One sentence and my god, I can fix people. Or a fascinating "placebo" effect, from a potion that I had previously given for digestive problems - wow, people can convince themselves it's the universal panacea!!1! Gee, why didn't the Neurofen work, then?

You'll have to excuse the sarcasm. I've been reading a number of things lately that have been riffing off Ben Goldacre's diatribes against homeopathy. I have no problems whatsoever with people exposing dangerous practices, like these so-called homeopaths (most of whom don't practice according to proper homeopathic methodologies) who do stupid things like advise patients to stop taking prescribed medications, or who promise to "cure" people (of cancer, HIV, yadda yadda). The latter is illegal, and I fully support the weight of the law against those morons. What I dislike is the lazy assumption of people like Goldacre (and I really respect most of his stuff) that all homeopaths are cynically ripping off their patients or are deluded woo-woo hippies.

I wouldn't give my nearest and dearest homeopathic remedies if they didn't appear to work, in my experience. I've tried them for myself, obviously. I don't put it all down to placebo effect - I can take one potion for nausea (the one I think should work), and it doesn't work. I take another, and then suddenly the nausea disappears. I suppose it could there could be a selective placebo effect? I, and the homeopaths I respect, do not diss conventional medicine out-of-hand (although of course we do have criticisms). We don't pretend we can explain how remedies, that are diluted so that there is no trace of the original substance, can work. There is no explanation at this point.

I do wish that the reputable bodies that are concerned with homeopaths, the Society of Homeopaths in the UK, the NZ Homeopathic Society, and so on, would start making press statements of their own against these bad practitioners. There are only a few bad apples in the barrel, but by remaining silent, it makes it seem that most homeopaths collude in this kind of behaviour. We do not. We want to make people better, not engage in deception and false claims. I also wish people like Goldacre would stop focussing on a few nutbars or exploitative arseholes, and look at the kind of practices that are genuinely endangering people's lives or ripping them off. Actually, he does (he gets a few good jabs into the diet industry, and the anti-MMR campaign), but the amount of time he spends on homeopaths seems disproportionate. Or maybe those dodgy herbalists are worthy of more respect because their concoctions can genuinely kill people, and aren't just sugar water? Who knows.
trixtah: (Default)
[one of the many many reasons I like [ profile] saluqi so much is the way she has of pithily summarising almost anything with a perfect phrase. Handy when you're around someone like me, who rabbits on and on and on...]

Getting to the point, a couple of people on my friendslist have talked about BMI this week, and [ profile] commodorified posted a great link to a Flickr slideshow of Illustrated BMI Categories. It graphically shows how meaningless BMI is when it comes to assessing how healthy and attractive people can seem, even with an "excessive" BMI. It's one of my particular bugbears, since my BMI is "high" too.
semi-nekkid pic - I got inspired by the brave Flickr peopl )
I personally feel that body fat percentage might be a better gauge of how fat or not one might be - it seems like a better metric to use for any correlations with regard to health (since visceral fat - around the heart and organs - would probably have impacts. General body fat can make your hormones work differently as well). However, body fat percentage is hard to assess without doing an autopsy (no thanks!), and I have no idea how much research has been done that shows actual correlations between fat percentage and, say, heart disease.

It seems to me the BMI is a crappy instrument that doesn't account for anything, and it can have impacts on people's lives beyond the supposed health risks. For example, I had a checkup by a corporate doctor before going permanent in my job. He pointed out to me that my BMI indicated I was "overweight" and he needed to note that on his report. I asked him if it actually seemed that I was "overweight", and what, if any, impact it would have on my job - he replied that that was what the figures said, and it needed to be on the report. He couldn't tell me what BMI figure would actually be an issue for getting the position. I actually wasn't worried that it would have an impact on the hiring process - I mean, hello, I work at a desk all day - but what was the point? I assume they do the same test with air traffic controllers - but do they do cardiograms and the like which might show real problems? My understanding was that I got the same test that ATCs do... and so it would prove precisely nothing. I believe that health insurance in the US requires medical checks that include BMI - do premiums go up? Would I get knocked back from a job if my BMI exceeded a certain amount, even if I was capable of doing the physical tasks (for example, I can most definitely do the strength tests for the police - running is another matter, heh. Short Irish legs.).

I feel like getting very feministy about the patriarchal cabal that comes up with stupid figures to try and control all of us - was BMI invented by insurance companies to enhance their profits, for example - but I'm sure you can all take that part as read. :-) But do check out the Flickr slideshow; it's extremely illuminating.
trixtah: (Default)
If this is part of getting older, it can screw itself. I never used to have much of a problem with PMT - mostly physical symptoms and a bit of "edginess" a couple of days before I bleed. The last several months, my breasts don't seem to be acting reliably football-like at such times, but I'm feeling it more emotionally. This week, I've been up and down like a yo-yo (with the extremes apparently being bolshiness and insecurity), and it's driving me insane. And probably anyone I encounter.

Tomorrow I have a stupid seminar I don't want to attend that I need to be at by 8:30 (and that's pushing it - "mingle" time starts at 8). I hate those sorts of things (I can look at the website if I want to learn about a product... but my boss is interested and can't attend), and I also hate being anywhere work-related before 9am. And I also hate having less than 8 hours' sleep, and since I'm still up pissing around on teh intarwebs, I won't be getting that either.

What I feel like doing right now is something that involves drugs and/or copious booze and/or rampaging sex. With someone else. Since the relatively healthy option is not one I can avail myself of right now, and I really am too "good" to do the other two, I'm having to listen to loud thrashy music (...despite all my rage, I'm still just a rat in a cage...) to try and do something with this displaced energy. I've tai chi'd myself up the wazoo this week, which while it hasn't helped this particular issue, should ensure that I'll pwn all on Thursday (which is not actually the aim, and at the pathetic level I'm at, is totally laughable... but maybe I would have achieved something constructive with this week).

Blah blah rant. See, I've been trying to not do the ranting thing online since Saturday... futile. I just have to suck it up. Fuck.
trixtah: (Default)
The latest POTC is a pile of pants. I laughed precisely twice in the entire bloody drawn-out mess. Lopping off an entire hour would not have been wasted at all... and speaking of waste, what possessed the cast to do it? The joys of contracts, I suppose. I actually didn't mind the resolution, but the whole lead-up was crap with a big crap on top. (Oooh, I said crap, again!)

[ profile] saluqi had some questions about people's perceptions of owners of pure-bred dogs (as she is), and elicited some interesting results. Firstly, the old chestnut that mutts are in some way "healthier" than pure-breds. Well, no. Look at elementary genetics. Let's say one dog is perfectly healthy, and the second dog has hip displasia, and the hip displasia is controlled by a recessive gene (I'm assuming). To actually suffer from the displasia, the second dog needs to have both bad genes. If the two dogs breed, all their offspring will have one healthy gene and one displasia gene, but won't show any symptoms (if it's recessive). If two of those offspring breed, they will have 25% chance of a pup with the displasia - it will have inherited both bad genes. 75% of the offspring will not develop the problem, although 50% can still pass the bad gene on.

(ETA: I buggered up the second row with my IIs and iis - the middle two white ones should be around the other way. Duh.)

Now, in the next generation, there is a chance of "outbreeding" the bad trait, by selecting only the 25% of offspring with the good genes to breed from, or breeding that good 25% with the 50% that have a mixed inheritance, and thus reducing the incidence of the mixed-gene strain to only 25% of the offspring. And so on. Of course, you can do the opposite and "inbreed" an undesirable gene in exactly the same way.

Breeding everything in sight to a poodle and calling it a "designer" dog is just bollocks. Assuming that the hypoallergenic coat (one of the things these *oodle mixes are promoted on) is a dominant trait, your first generation will be ok in that respect. After that, who knows what you'll end up with? The only advantage with cross-breeding dogs is that the German shepherd cross is perhaps less likely to have a displasia gene if perhaps the other parent comes from a breed that doesn't usually manifest the problem. Tough shit if your cross is with a golden retriever (just as much chance of it being there).

To evolve a breed's characteristics, some inbreeding has had to be done, of course, to "fix" the qualities that are being looked for. And given the health and/or skeletal problems some breeds have, like bulldogs, bassets, pugs and so on, I wouldn't own one of those. But that is due more to mechanical problems (the basset's back is often too long to support its weight comfortably, for example) resulting from bad design, and not paying attention to side-effects. With the Victorian craze for "dominating nature" in every respect they could come up with, no wonder some stupidities resulted. Responsible breeders these days will only select from the animals who are healthy and epitomise the breed.

With responsibly-bred purebred dogs, you at least know what you're getting. A proper breeder knows the parents' lines, and will not be breeding dogs with any inheritable issues. I would never buy an animal from a pet shop ("pure bred" or not) because you don't have a clue what you're getting. A responsible breeder does not sell their prized animals to a shop for $50 where any Tom, Dick or Harry can buy one with no vetting. They will only sell to a responsible person who will invest several hundred dollars in their pet. Such breeders will always insist that the animals are returned to them (not dumped in a shelter) if the owner can no longer take care of them.

Personally, I'm not so invested in a particular breed (yet) that I'll go out of my way to obtain a purebred pup. I'd probably take a rescue dog that is of a mature age. Preferably something like a retired greyhound, or an adult that has had a decent home life and has had to be surrendered for a specific non-behavioural reason. I will not adopt "cute puppies" that some idiot has allowed his mongrel bitch to give birth to (and which are often the cull animals that some backyard "breeder" hasn't been able to foist onto a pet shop).

Some people might make the argument that there are too many dogs in the world, and we should only be adopting the rescue ones. Well, the same thing could be said about babies - there are a hell of a lot of those, and perhaps we should only be adopting the abandoned ones? Actually, I think many people would agree that there are too many babies and pets being born without the appropriate consideration and care. I'd rather have a carefully bred pedigree dog or cat that has been nurtured every second of its life, and which was bred to highlight and maintain the qualities of a particular breed, than any neglected and ill-bred mutt that happens to end up in a pet shop. It's not "rescuing" one to buy from those places - people get paid, and so they produce more to exploit the market. And what do you think happens to those cute puppies that don't sell?
trixtah: (Servalan)
Firstly, our divisional (the "technology" group) mission statement:

To strategically enable the delivery of services to [our organisation's] customers through the definition, implementation and management of asset & technology solutions in domestic and global markets.

Trans: Providing asset and technology services for [our organisation].

We're undergoing a re-org at the moment, and apparently email is going to be spun off from the OS team (anyone's usual definition of a "systems" team) to the "business systems" team - which consists of our document management system, and our billing system (both of which are applications which sit on top of Oracle databases). Wow, I'm just in awe of the obvious synergies of this move.

Secondly, a call logged from my favourite salesman in the Middle East. He's had to request that a couple of sender addresses be exempted from our RBL in the past - and now he's requesting a couple more exemptions:

customer needs a solution and would like to be able to recieve all emails, not just unblocked emails everytime he has an email blocked. customer advised he would make a complaint if a solution was not found.

I'm only too happy to help! I will put in a special rule so that he will get each and every piece of email that is ever sent to him. No problem at all!

...When I say that 90% of attempted connections to our mail system consist of spam/malicious content, you might get a feel for the implications. He obviously hasn't thought of them. I. Can't. Wait.
trixtah: (Default)
Firstly, on the work front, the angsting is over!!! I have officially signed my acceptance of my permanent job offer. After telling them that I wouldn't accept less than the $70K level, they offered me the one below ($1500 less) as a final offer... except that I will be getting a salary review in July, and it is to be expected that I'll be moved to the increment I was asking for. I need to get the rest of the paperwork done (drug test and medical check, mainly), so my current contract is to be extended another month. This is good, because I've had a fairly poor couple of months, and it'll be nice to have another month of good $$$. But yay, it's all happening!

Again on the work front, it seems that we are going to become a Blackberry shop with external access to our Exchange email. Now, as I grizzled about at length here, the amount of consultation that has gone on with the mail team has solely consisted of the 10 minutes with an external "consultant". From Telstra. Who, guess what, are resellers of Blackberry solutions and software here in Oz. No-one internally has seen fit to discuss it with us, even when I specifically requested (via my manager) to be brought in on their discussions. There has been no consideration of implementing the Exchange 2003 push email solution, which would effectively be free. No. I need to learn about a third-party application, install and configure a new server, install and configure the Blackberry software, integrate it with our Exchange setup, move around mailboxes that will belong to the users (since I need to give additional and special permissions to the Blackberry account, I'm going to stick the mailboxes into their own special location for it to access them)... all by next Friday, because that is when the CEO told us he wants a pilot up and running. I heard about this (not even a hint of any unofficial warning) today.

You know, with Windows mobile services, we could tick a ticky box, publish it on an ISA proxy and have it up and running in a couple of hours. No special permissions, no need to install anything new, no new hardware, no need to move mailboxes around... ... I'm irked in that our "pilot" hasn't even tried the freely-available solution that happens to meet their requirements first. If it didn't meet the requirements, I'd have no problem whatsoever installing something that will work for them - but it isn't even being considered. You know, this totally fucks up any "project management" procedure that I've heard of. You're supposed to identify the need, then list and weigh up all the alternatives to satisfy those needs. Generally speaking, if you have a number of options that fulfil the functionality you want, you'd try the cheapest alternative or the one that is already available in house to see if it works before launching into spending $US3000 (+server hardware, +Windows 2003 licence, +$99 per client access licence). [I'd like to say I do like the fact RIM put their pricing on their website. All software vendors should do it.]

Don't worry, this is all "getting it off my chest" mode. Now that the decision has been made, despite the lack of consultation, despite the shonky process, it's good that we will finally be getting in a mobile email solution, as we have been recommending for the last two years. I just hate the fact that it is so blatant that they didn't listen to us two years ago and they apparently don't want to listen to their systems staff now (except to bypass them by getting the desktop team to "research" this project). Now I need to get into "suck it up" mode, implement the thing perfectly, and be grateful for the fact that they are not outsourcing this process, that our team will hopefully have oversight of it (we're having a meeting to thrash that out tomorrow... of course the week my boss is away, yay consultation again - I'm going to be so co-operative), and that after the dust settles, we should hopefully have a solution that works, and I'll have another nice line to add to my CV. Also, the advantage of going with a solution that they've specified from the outset is that we're not having to push something that they'd be more wary of. If the whole thing falls in a big smelly heap, at least they won't be wahing on about the crappy software that we recommended. I don't think it'll fall in a heap though. It looks fairly straightforward to implement.

On a completely different note, I read two of Tania Huff's vampire books, Blood Pact and Blood Debt. How bloody disappointed I was, given all the raves I've read about them. Ok, there's the lead character whose emotional range appears to be stony alternating with hissy-fits. There's the butch (male, alas), strong and silent cop. There's the much more chatty bisexual prince-of-the-dead vampire, who wears dressing gowns and is, of course, English. Butch bloke and bi-guy do a fey vs macho understated fight over the chickie, constantly. She fights with both of them, constantly. In fact, the entire dialogue appears to be bickering. She's actually more butch than bi-guy, because, you know, bi-guys aren't that manly. I didn't give a shit about the plots (vampires biting people and fighting over territory.... sigh. At least MaryJanice Davidson makes it humorous in her books about Betsy the vampire queen) or the characters. There's lots of stony stoicism alternating with screaming (you know, another fight, or the mother's been killed, or something). I was wishing that they'd all kill each other, but alas, they don't. 2/5? It's better than Thomas Covenant or Heinlein. Marginally.

ETA: I remembered the other thing I was going to blurble about! It's great to know that Australia's security forces are vigilant about keeping national monuments and nuclear reactors safe from "suspicious characters"... but apparently not "American Tourists" (link to YouTube).
trixtah: (Servalan)
(And I'm not just saying that because I'm being painfully visited by the goddess, only four days late, only one day before I'm joing on a fun jaunt overnight to Sydney with the CDL, oh no!)

HRT puts you at a much more elevated risk of getting cancer, especially breast cancer. I knew this 15 years ago, when my aunt (who'd been on HRT for nearly a decade due to a full hysterectomy) had to have both breasts removed due to malignant growths. When she went on the HRT, there was no mention of that risk. When she developed the breast cancer, there was some feet-shuffling and some muttering about "higher incidence due to artificial estrogen" from the doctors. Oh, and my grandmother, her mother, died of cancer, so it's not as if there were no other risk factors at all. Fuckers.

So, how many of you knew that fact? How much is it in the public consciousness that HRT will appreciably up your risk of cancer? From the amount of of prescribing in that area going on for menopausal women, I'd say it's not very much in the public consciousness at all.

What about the transwomen out there who have been or are on HRT? How much was it mentioned that your risk is greater too? And what about those high dosages (higher than for menopausal cis-women) that are often prescribed for transwomen for the first several years? What about the risks there? Even the usually-comprehensive T-Vox site is fairly quiet on the risks associated with artificial estrogens.

The reason I'm on about this is due to the release of a recent study that shows that users of HRT are at 63% higher risk of developing ovarian, uterine or breast cancers than women who have never had HRT. Apparently, regulatory bodies in the UK have said in the last 5 years that HRT should be used as little as possible and for as briefly as possible. I'd say that message hadn't trickled down either.

Perhaps the fact that The Lancet is publishing the study, and that there is obvious media interest, will get the word out. Finally.

My thoughts? Don't use HRT unless you have to. For me, it won't be until I'm 80, and suffering from brittle bones (if I ever do).

For MTFs, if your treatments weren't carried out in conjunction with anti-androgen measures (and thus incurred higher estrogen doses), you'd probably want to reduce as many of your other risk factors as possible. Check your breasts regularly (I suppose not having a uterus and ovaries is a help, in this instance). And I bloody hope that someone gets off their arses and specifically studies the kinds of risks MTFs are exposed to in this realm. Perhaps reaching puberty in a male body helps? Or hinders? Who the fuck knows, at this stage?

Perhaps a higher profile will lead to some research on the causes of the elevated risk. Is it something about the artificial form? Taking a hormonal substance that isn't produced by your own body? The dosage? The delivery of that dosage (which would be more homogeneous than the body's natural cycle, with its daily, not to mention monthly, ebbs and flows)? Let's hope some momentum starts happening in this area.
trixtah: (techie)
While I think my and my immediate supervisor's work on our Postfix implementation has been fine, our managers' handling of it has been idiosyncratic, to say the least. We prepared the project initially as a project. Full project management plan, communications strategy, risks assessment, etc etc. This was all disregarded, and the thing has been handled by management as an "upgrade". Since we have:

  1. Changed the hardware (new HP servers)
  2. Changed the operatiing system (Linux, from VMS)
  3. Changed the MTA software (Postfix, from PMDF)
  4. Changed the method used to find valid email addresses (a batch LDAP query that harvests all the mail aliases in the domain and populates a lookup list hourly, rather than an ugly kludge that required a custom LDAP attribute to be populated at the Windows account creation time, that only found the primary email address (no aliases), and which needed to be checked each and every time a message was to be delivered)
  5. Changed the server presence in the network (in a DMZ and directly internet-facing, rather than on the internal network with the firewall accepting mail first)
do you think that this whole process has been just a goddamn upgrade?

Adding to the joy was the fact I suggested - more than once - that we inform all the customers within the organisation of the migration process happening at present, rather than just the few operational groups we knew would have special issues. That was shot down in flames, because it's apparently a great idea not to find out about potential issues as they are happening, but to leave the users in ignorance and present them with a fait accompli - assuming that all was ok. And because this is just an upgrade, that is apparently just a fine way to manage the process.

So, this week, we made our new gateway the primary mail servers on our domain. I noticed in the logs a few instances where certain headers were malformed by sending servers, thus leading to messages being rejected that may well be legitimate. But it wasn't until today, when I loosened up one rule, that I got a call logged by one of the more important groups in the organisation (who send out briefing emails to external customers), saying, "Gosh, was there a network outage, because we suddenly got a deluge of messages that had been held up somewhere." Obviously, they were getting accepted once I loosened the restriction.

That rule was rejecting thousands of messages a day. When I did my initial testing, I calculated less than 0.1% of these were rejected from what appeared to be real senders. Unfortunately, that 0.1 percent also included one external organisation that sent regular messages to that v. important internal group. Now, if they had been aware that they needed to watch out for delayed messages, I probably would have found out on Monday, and I could have crafted an exception for that sender (assuming they couldn't do a fix). There are probably a few other senders in the same boat, thus the relaxation of the restriction.

It means that rather than allow the (appropriately notified) users to be canaries in the mineshaft for those few instances (and normally an hour or so's delay in receiving email is fine while I fix it), I need to allow 60% more spam to flow through, and somehow review tens of thousands of lines of log files to find the "good" senders and make exceptions for them (as well as contacting them to see if they will fix their problem), before reinstating the rule that was doing an extremely nice job of rejecting spam from zombied machines. GRAR.

So, if you're a mail admin, make sure your goddamn server sends out a FQDN with its HELO (it's in the RFC!), and also make sure that that hostname is resolvable via DNS lookup! I mean, how do you expect your mail to be delivered if we can't check to see if it's coming from a real host? Give me a break. No wonder the spammers are winning, especially when people who should know better are making that kind of elementary mistake. The poor buggers are probably all using Sendmail.
trixtah: (Default)
Canberra is in the throes of a drought and has been for years. Literally. There has been below-average rainfall for the last 8 years. As of today, the dams that supply Canberra are 38% full. But you wouldn't be able to tell from the amount of reaction you get from the powers-that-be. They only implemented Stage 3 water restrictions a couple of months back (after a winter of no rain) and there still seems to be idiocies being carried out in the name of "civic beauty". One is the watering of the median strips on the roads into Canberra. There are eucalypts in two rows and grass on median strips about 15m across. The grass is watered, every other day. Why?

Then there are the fountains, which are my particular bugbear. I walk past four of them on my way into work. And without exception, they are all ugly. Ok, perhaps there is some merit in the Ugly Civic Fountain outside the Canberra Centre for some, but the rest of them are varying degrees of pathetic dribbles and/or algae breeders, with no aesthetic merit whatsoever.

Don't believe me? Here they are:ugly fountain pics )

Since the two "fountains" in the middle of the roundabouts on Parkes Way aren't on my route home, I didn't take pictures of them. About 20m across, full of true-blue disgusting scum, and maybe a pathetic dribble in the middle when they switch it on. The ducks seem to like them, though, when the lake is a bit rough. Shame they're plonked into the middle of a concrete desert, with no cover.

Before anyone accuses me of being utterly curmudgeonly, some of the fountains/water features around town are quite nice, and seemed to be nicely maintained (perhaps because there is little reservoir visible). I also value greenspace in town, and think the two nice green parks in Civic need to be watered, as does any multi-function park. I just don't understand the watering of the median strips, where you can't exactly have your lunch/a picnic (unless you think traffic fumes make a nice sauce). And I don't see the point of dissipating thousands of litres of water into the air when it doesn't rain back down again. Despite the disingenousness of their talk about "non-potable" and "recirculated" water, at least there has been some acknowledgment of the wastage involved on Parliament Hill. It's just a shame that the message doesn't seem to be tricking down. Ho ho.
trixtah: (Default)
So, while half the world seems to be perving at shameful Saddam snuff films (you can find them for yourself, if that kind of thing works for you), this is what really matters:

[Saddam's] funeral came as it was reported that the US death toll in Iraq since the invasion had reached 3,000. ...

George Bush is expected to face renewed domestic political pressure following the latest milestone. Although the 3,000 figure is symbolically important for Americans, Iraqis suffer that rate of casualties on a monthly basis.

So, I hope we all have a glowing sense of achievement now. Happy fucking new year, eh.


trixtah: (Default)

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