31 Aug 2011

Dear Nadine Dorries

 This is something I've written for A Thing @Stavvers is doing. I sort of ended up severely digressing and probably missing the point of the Thing, but here it is (note: I wholly intend to send this to Nadine Dorries, hence the first paragraph although I'll remove the footnote at the end for obvious reasons This is now an open letter since I'm a coward and I've realised that this probably won't sway her and will probably just  cause her to be annoyed, (I'm not really into annoying people who aren't my brother)). I am aware that Downing Street has apparently forced a u-turn, but that's just The Guardian going for Mail-style headline.

Dear Nadine Dorries,  

For starters, I'd like to apologise for writing to you as a non-constituent, but since this letter is about an amendment to an important bill you're involved with I suppose it's best you let this slide (well, it certainly is from my perspective).

I'm not going to bore you with the details about what my uterus is doing. Mostly because aside from the monthly bleed, which isn't even happening right now (stopped two days ago thank God, I swear it goes on an unreasonable amount of time...) it isn't doing a lot at all. This being a state of affairs I'm fairly content with, although periods are a right pain (literally) at times.

Let's face it, this whole Thing (with the capital “T” since it's really that important) is about your amendments to the Health Bill. I'm not really sure I agree with this Thing, but it has to be said you certainly have an undue interest in what my uterus is doing, especially since I'm a teenager, and thus the target of whole other bill, that being one I'm fairly certain you're behind (you'll note that I'm a lot less civil there, possibly due to me probably having a case of PMS at the time, sorry about that, although the general gist of it does actually kind of fit with this as well (a revelation, you'll be interested to learn, which came courtesy of a high-rated comment on... your Daily Mail article from today of all places)).

But back to the Amendment. Given that, until you and the Labour MP Frank Field - who I suppose we should all be having far more truck with, since he really will never be in a position to have to consider abortion (whereas you do, I assume, possess an uterus) not to mention it stops us being able to blame your party (Not that I mind having a go at Labour (they are really just as bad as the Tories) or anything, but things are a lot easier when it's only one party doing it) – added it the Bill had precisely naff all to do with abortion, it's not clear that this will be getting the debate it needs, and if it does it will simply detract from discussion about the biggest changes to our healthcare system since the NHS was set up. Not cool, Nadine. Not cool at all. Or democratic really. Mind you, I'd argue that the political system is inherently undemocratic, but this is just plain egregious.

Of course, I probably wouldn't mind this that much if I agreed with the Amendment. I'm not sure I do; the BPA is a non-profit organisation, I'm willing to assume the best and that there is, despite their function as an abortion-provider, actually no vested interest in them getting women to have abortions, heck something like 20% of women chose not to have an abortion following advice from there. It is probably mostly balanced, which is more than I can say if, say, a Christian pro-life group was doing the counselling (it is ostensibly a pro-life organisation). And that is a possibility since there is precisely naff-all in your amendment to guarantee that stuff like that won't happen.

Admittedly, you probably don't view that as a bad thing. But if someone can regret an abortion, what happens if they regret not having an abortion having been pressured out of it? I know from personal experience that mothers can be abusive even if they want a child, I imagine an unwanted child would get even worse. And, as I'm sure you'll agree, every child deserves to be wanted. And your own experience with a relatively late-term abortion should make you understand why it is perhaps best that women do not put off the decision, especially since, if they're seeking counselling, they may well have put a lot of thought into it. People won't make that sort of choice lightly.

So your amendment to a Bill which has naff-all to do with it has naff-all to stop it from doing something which you said it wouldn't do. Really not cool, not cool at all.

Also, neither is the obsession with what happens to my uterus. I'm 15, I am mature enough to know what it does, and what I want it to do (naff-all), most, if not all, women who seek an abortion are. It's not really your place to decree who we ask for advice. From what I can gather, there isn't anything stopping women from seeking advice from “independent sources”, they can go to them if they choose to. You say you're pro-choice, well, that's probably one of the choices you should support.

Yours sincerely,


*Side note: referring to myself using my full first name feels really weird. 

EDIT: Corrected a couple of typos ("I f" and a missing ")", thanks to @latentexistence for pointing that last one out). Also, looks like I dropped a "u" at the end of "you", now fixed.

26 Aug 2011

Patriarchal Double Standards Waste Water!

According to a survey by Thames Water, one in three women leave the shower running whilst shaving their legs, thus wasting 50 BILLION litres of water. To the shock of perhaps quite a  few people, but to the surprise of no one, the Daily Mail and Telegraph jumped on this for a chance of light women hating.

Of course, neither of those stories questioned why the hell women have to have their legs in the first place.This is also not a surprise nor a shock, but it is worth remembering that women only feel the need to shave their legs because society tells us to. If we didn't "need" to shave, all that water wouldn't be wasted. Seeing as men don't "need" to shave their legs, why the hell should we have to? After all, the water saved could apparently keep London going for 25 days.

 Of course, as is, if any famous woman goes out without shaving their legs, guess who jumps down their throats? The Daily Mail. Hypocrites (I couldn't actually find any examples from the Telegraph though, all fairness to them).

Conclusion: If you want to save water, let's get ready to smash the patriarchy. And stop leaving the tap running whilst you're at it. That stuff wastes 120bn litres of water a year.

16 Aug 2011

Reactionary Riot Reactions are Reactionary

Perhaps unsurprisingly, there has been a massive shift to towards authoritarianism following the riots.Today Yesterday, 2 men were sentenced to 4 years in jail for "inciting" riots on Facebook. Riots which never actually happened (they could have happened, but they didn't) but still count because they do. Never mind the proportionality of the sentence (seriously, 4 years for a freaking Facebook page), this is justice.

 In addition to this, there have been a ton of calls from various quarters for knee-jerk actions, most notably Theresa May calling for the police to have curfew setting powers, David Cameron wanting to censor the internet (with Louise Mensch MP doing the same thing) and the calls for stopping rioters' benefits. All of which will achieve nothing, in my humble opinion, but making the world a worse place and fulfilling some desire for vengeance, which happens to conveniently help the Government (more police power, plus it helps their anti-"scrounger" rhetoric). This not even mentioning the members of the public braying for rioters' blood (literally in some cases (just look at Facebook, the Sun also ran a poll), and the evictions that are already happening (NB: in the household in question no one had been convicted).And the cliche attacks on the Human Rights Act, but that happens for everything now.

All these aside, the disproportionate sentence I mentioned at the start of this post ay well be an egregious example, but it certainly isn't the only one; courts have been told by the Government to scrap the present sentencing rules and be extra (and, even according to some MPs, too) harsh in order to fulfill an urge for revenge that many people have. Violation of the separation of powers aside,  this has resulted in several highly disproportionate sentences. One man (who had brought £100 worth of stolen goods from "a junkie") was jailed for 22 weeks for handling stolen goods. One person was jailed for 16 weeks for using "threatening or abusive language". A student was sentenced to 6 months for stealing a case of water.Three young women none with any sort of criminal record) were handed down 6 month jail sentences for entering a store with intent to steal (nothing was stolen). Infamously, a mother was sentenced to 5 months for accepting a stolen pair of shorts. She wasn't even there for the riots [EDIT: which is why she was freed and given 75 hours' community service on appeal]. These specific cases aside, several were referred to the crown court as the maximum sentence Magistrate's courts could give (6 months) wasn't considered sufficient, and bail was refused as a matter of routine, with the desire for the punishment to be strict superseding the need for proportionality.

By way of comparison, someone who functionally looted thousands from the public purse was simply fined £7000 made (an incredibly rubbish) Education secretary. Because, at his age, there was no way he could possibly have known better /sarcasm.

One thing that is legal, however, is publishing the names and addresses of subjects, which is very probably connected to one getting his house burnt down, in what is probably a reflection of the rage of someone at the riots (given the present situation) and generally a worrying, given that the old maxim of "innocent until proven guilty" apparently has stopped applying, sign.

On a slightly lighter note, someone else was recently arrested and charged with "encouraging or assisting in the commission of an offence" under the 2007 Serious Crime Act  for trying to arrange... a water fight. And it isn't a very light note at all since it means that water fights are some sort of serious crime, which is just absolutely ridiculous and that arranging a water fight should be stopped by any means necessary.You couldn't make it up.

In conclusion, though, things are looking pretty bleak as far as civil liberties and freedom of speech are concerned. It'd be incredibly easy to blame this on media rhetoric, and I suppose that's what I do blame it on. The ore important thing, however, is figuring out how we're going to stand up to all this because, as is, I think we're screwed.

EDIT: Forgot that I wrote this overnight, have corrected it. Also, I somehow misspelled "in".
UPDATE 1: Reportedly, an independent monitor was beaten up during the Enfield disturbances on the 7th. This is alarming to say the least

UPDATE 2: A 17 year old has been given a ban from social media for 12 months, 120 hours' community service, a 12 month youth rehabilitation order and a 3 month curfew for posting a message on Facebook which read ""I think we should start rioting, it's about time we stopped the authorities pushing us about and ruining this country.
"It's about time we stood up for ourselves for once. So come on rioters – get some. LOL."
Whilst I can't condone the message, it was probably, as the teen in question said, a joke (you don't add "LOL" if you intend to actually incite a riot) and this is turning out to be an incredibly bad week for freedom of speech. I'd say something about the sentence being disproportionate, but I'm not entirely certain that the message should have resulted in a charge at all.

13 Aug 2011

A warning to tumblr folk out there (short)

 EDIT: As explained in the longer version, the problem's been solved! Just leaving this up here for posterity.

There’s a post floating around on tumblr which has a link to “myiqtcst.tumblr.com”. Please don’t click it; it’s a blatant scam. Seriously, there’s like 30 odd thousand people who’ve posted it in the same words. And it’s a dodgy redirect.
Don’t click it!
(also, if you think you’re in danger, change your freaking password, damnit!).
(this (and therefore this (it’s the same thing))) explains how I came to this conclusion and goes into more detail, but it’s a bit long).

(cross posted from my tumblr)

A warning to tumblr folk out there

 EDIT: All links on this blog are defunct, including the one to mine, which indicates that the problem's been solved. It would also explain why I was forced to change my password a few months back ("suspicious activity).

Yesterday I saw a post on tumblr which alarmed me, I'm actually a bit shit at technical stuff, so I can't post a screen shot, but here's a link to the second version of it which appeared on my dashboard (the first was on the same tumblr and was identical). EDIT: It's been removed, which is fair enough everything considered..

If you don't want to click the link, here's the text
"i guess im legally retarded or something >:(
tell me this is fake guys please i took this twice and i got a 92 then a 96.. thats too close right :( am i stupid?
i took the test at http://myiqtcst.tumblr.com reblog or tell me through asks if you think its real / what you got! :("

Scummy ableist language aside ("retarded" is not okay), there's a few things that worry me about this.
First, although the initial URL is given so it appears to be myictest.tumblr.com using a weird looking "e") when it's actually myictcst.tumblr.com. That's pretty petty, but there's more to it than that.

Secondy, I know for a fact that the person who posted this can in fact use capital letters and apostrophes and tends to do so, they also were in the middle of posting a load of Killers spam (including urging people to vote for some thing) when this popped up in the middle, which seems a bit off to me (it's out of character).

Third, the link itself redirects to some random site of the sort which asks for your personal details and blatantly isn't an IQ test. The first site I got redirected to was some fake social networky dating site thing (I didn't stay there long enough for it to load) and the second was something about discovering deals in my area (I also didn't stay long enough to give you a proper description or for it to load, since I only clicked to confirm my suspicions of its scammyness).
Fourth, and most obviously, the post has accrued large numbers of reblogs, many of which (not all, I reblogged it to voice my suspicions, for example) use the same wording as above. Here's an example and another, and here's a third for luck. [EDIT: I can't check to see if those pages are still up (tumblr's borked on my computer) but there is a good chance that they've been deleted or the URLs are obsolete (people tend to change URL a lot)]. They also accrue incredibly quickly, showing an abnormally large degree of spread.
Finally, I actually responded to the request on anon to point out it was fake and got a gif of Brandon Flowers looking confused as a response. The first one has just been deleted, meaning that the post was probably made on a compromised account, so the people who are posting it have probably been hacked.

This is quite obviously a scam, so I advise you to not click on the link. It would appear that several people have already been hit, and quite recently at that (last night I swear it was on something like 4,000 notes, tonight it's busted past 35,000 36000 37000, so yeah) . I've not seen any warnings about this, so please spread the word, tweet, reblog (I'm cross posting this to tumblr), whatever - and if you think that you have been hit CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD. That's pretty much all the advice I can come up with to beat this thing.

Thanks for reading! /cheese