Just to be clear...
I am as shocked as anybody else. What's going on is horrible, and I am afraid it's only a matter of time, if this goes on, before somebody gets burned alive.

But a very disturbing shade of racism is emerging in the coverage I am watching (yes, I know, BBC News 24 is not the best the BBC has to offer, and the Today program was A BIT better.)

For example, the pub manager last night, whom I felt a lot of sympathy for, still felt it necessary to say that the old and fragile woman in his pub was "white".

I have seen only one non-white people being interviewed. He was upset and emotional, but he was treated with far less respect than the jolly good ol' boy Tory MP from Lincoln.

Of course they are thugs and thieves. The problem is, why do we have so many thugs and thieves? I don't find it all that surprising that people with no jobs and no future - black or white - and who keep being stopped and searched by police every time the get out the street (overwhelmingly non-white) might be cheered by a sudden carnival of smashing and grabbing.

One of the thing the elderly black gentleman was saying was "my nephew thought he was coming on age when he was stopped and searched by the police for the first time. He asked his father: Dad, how many times have you been searched by the police? His dad said that he had lost count a long time ago."

How many of us have ever been stopped and searched by the police? And how would we feel about them the third time it happened, especially if we had done nothing wrong? Understanding and sympathetic?

Complaint sent to the BBC
Subject: racist coverage of riots

Every white person interviewed was treated with respect and listened to without challenging, with the possible exception of Ken Livingstone. The one black person, an elderly gentleman, was constantly interrupted, accused of being a rioter himself, not listened to, and cut off hurriedly. The time spent listening to him was about 1/10 of the time spent by anybody who advocated the use of water cannon or blaming Political Correctness Gone Mad (tm).

I have heard a member of the public saying that if arrested the rioters would "invoke the race card" or "sue for police brutality". He was not challenged.

The whole coverage is disgracefully one-sided, with anybody pointing out that there are causes to this outbreak challenged and told off.

Shame on you. You are a public service, not white people's spokesmen

London calling
I'm fine, and in sleepy Kilburn, miles away from any riot. I live in a residential street that's unlikely to see any looting anyway. (This is for general reassurance of far away friends.)

Grumpy person is grumpy
I woke up before four am with a killer headache and a bad temper. Not even glee over the NoW meltdown can cheer me up, the world is just full of people whose heads I would like to shake until the neurones connect.

And my sewing machine doesn't work. After love and attention and every kind of alteration of settings I could think of plus emergency call to mom who suggested a Singer version of Taking The Cat to The Vet or the computer to the genius bar it still mucks up my threads. That's a real pity because my hand stitched efforts at making a clutch purse were a resounding success, apart from a few glitches, like not managing to sew the body to the piping glued to the handle and the purse being too small and stuff like that. Still, will take the bloody machine to the shop this morning, if I survive the migraine.

On the other hand, I have entered the fun, colourful and relatively cheap world of fascinators making. I only have one wedding in my immediate future, do you think I could wear them to parties? (Of course, there are always conventions.) I need a glue gun.

In other news, I see there are people who so thoroughly enjoyed Racefail that they are trying to kick it back into action all over again. I don't think it will happen, but in any case, count me out this time. I had a minor version in my training group this year, which made me realise how much that has taught me, but also that interactions IRL on this particular issue tend to be a lot more productive, probably due to issues of volume, ability to interact with more perceptibly human antagonists, and the lack of trolls.

To be honest one of the things that that episode has taught me is to dislike scapegoating, no matter how much the goat encourages you to be sacrificed, and no matter how dire the need to actually slaughter it. Which means I still feel the need, but at least I can identify it now and try to go for empathy instead.

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Writer's Block: Let freedom ring
How do you celebrate Independence Day in your country?

This is a really, really, really, REALLY, really stupid question. Lots of countries do not have an Independence Day because they were never colonies to start with. In case the question was even MORE stupid, as a rule countries other than the US do not celebrate the 4th of July, apart from a vague "happy Independence Day to our American friends". In varying degrees of sarcasm, occasionally. 

The Rapture
Yesterday at one point I was in Camden, right at the foot of the bridge over the Lock, it was sunny and London was bustling all around. But then I looked at the watch and no, it wasn't the Rapture - it was too late for that.

On the other hand, we had pancakes this morning, with maple syrup and cream, while drinking tea and watching Dr. Who. So we might just well be in heaven after all.

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So long and thanks for all the fish
It's been ten years, so it seems right to repost this. I never ever tire of watching it, and it's just as funny every time:

Should I stay or should I go
So here I am, trying to decide whether to go to Eastercon or not.

I am short of money, I need the time to study, and I don't feel particularly keen on this Eastercon.

On the other hand, I feel like I have been retreating into my shell more and more, especially since I started working again. And I don't like it.

On the other hand again, I was really miserable at Picocon, because I felt like nobody really wanted to spend time with me.

So... I really don't know. :-(

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Not writing
Of all the things that I wanted to do today, I did all but one. And the maddening thing is, a whole scene wrote itself in my head while I was dyeing my hair, but by the time I had rinsed and conditioned and combed them, the energy was no longer there.

Saturday at Picocon I had a sudden attack of despair. The realization that I am not writing any more, have not been writing for quite some time, and may never write again, hit me again, and it was more painful than ever before.

It seems in these moments like all the ills of the world coalesce: I feel desperately lonely, and desperately tired, and it feels like my job is eating my brain, my ability to socialize, and yes, my writing.

I had a good cry in the rain and then it got better, but it still hurts. I see all my writing friends practicing, practicing, practicing, and I know that I am not. When I contemplate how miserable my job is making me I think of how happy I am writing, and I know that I could learn to write again, form the habit, if I started it seriously. But no matter how I add up the time, I can't find it.

Who knows? Maybe if I did finish a novel it would be a runaway success and let me live on writing and be happy. But probably not. And I had two years of unemployement during which I signally failed to do that... so that train has left the platform.

I like Picocon, and eventually I had a good time, but it is a surprisingly bad place for me. I don't know why. It tends to make me very depressed.

The film that should win the Oscar
It won't, of course, because there are two other heavyweights around, but Winter's Bone is by far the best film I have seen this year, better than The King's Speech. The King's Speech is fine, but it won't huant me. This one will.

If you haven't seen it, go do it. It's set in the Orzaks, shot on location in Missouri, among people who are desperately poor but neither stupid nor depraved, despite their teenage pregnancy, their derelict cars, their constant use and manufacture of meth. It's a movie about a seventeen year old heroine of the "unlucky the country that needs heroes" mold: the only carer in her family and in the end the only provider. Her mother has sunk into depression so far she is catatonic, her father has used the family house and land as collateral for his bail, and has now disappeared.

It's a movie about the heroism that is demanded of people living at the edge of a precipice, when they can't bail out because they have others depending on them.

But just when you have followed Ree around scrubby yards full of derelict furniture and houses full of violence and misery, and are wallowing in your pity for this hopeless community, you get into a house where a birthday party for a martriarch is going on, and a white-haired woman sings "If only I were a little sparrow" with a clarity and poignancy that breaks your heart and reveals to you that this people have culture, and beauty, and heart, even if the lives they lead are so merciless.

There is a lot of love amongst the hardness, you see it in the way Ree looks at her friend's child, in the way the children hug their dogs, in the depth of the family bonds - a love that is both a redemption and a trap. It is love that makes the men cook meth, and makes the women stay, and keeps all of them from turning to whatever help the authorities could give them. It is love that turns the crank a produces another cycle of pain.

It's bleak, and beautiful, and full of a terrible tenderness, and portrays a despised community with a clear-eyed, ruthless compassion. If there is a polar opposite of Deliverance, this is it.

A lot of people found it boring, but I didn't, although I had to stop frequently (I had rented it on iTunes) to try to understand what was going on. (I do wish iTunes movies had subtitled, dammit).

Incidentally, it also has one of the strongest female characters I have ever seen on a screen.


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