Saturday, September 1, 2018

Sundials and quills in primary school

Once again I've seen people complaining that children aren't being taught to read analogue clocks. The technology is largely obsolete. Go to K-mart and have a look at the clocks on display. Digital is cheap and reliable. Nobody has a sundial except as a decorative measure. Sundials worked straight off the sun and as the length of the day changes from season to season needs a mental adjustment to use & I'm sure that less than 1 in a 1000 people would have the slightest clue how to adjust the value showing on the dial to match the local time.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Save us from the crazies & our friends

80 years ago Fascists & Anti-fascists were fighting on the streets of Europe. Here's a take on it from an independent socialist of the day.

"We have reached a stage when the very word 'Socialism' calls up, on the one hand, a picture of aeroplanes, tractors, and huge glittering factories of glass and concrete; on the other, a picture of vegetarians with wilting beards, of Bolshevik commissars (half gangster, half gramophone), of earnest ladies in sandals, shock-headed Marxists chewing polysyllables, escaped Quakers, birth-control fanatics, and Labour Party backstairs-crawlers. Socialism, at least in this island, does not smell any longer of revolution and the overthrow of tyrants; it smells of crankishness, machine-worship, and the stupid cult of Russia. Unless you can remove that smell, and very rapidly, Fascism may win. "
George Orwell "The Road to Wigan Pier" (1937)

Today we are seeing it again. On one side are socialists, liberals, feminists, the various LGBTIQqAa+ communities, some Christians and even many conservatives. On the other are the so called "Alt-right", a ragtag bunch of Neo Nazis, other White supremacists, anti-feminists, Islamophobes,  TERFFs(*),  right wing (especially evangelical) Christians with a considerable overlap with a mixed bunch of: Flat-Earthers, Anti-vaxxers, Climate change deniers, creationists, homophobes, transphobes and other nutters.  At first sight it looks like the inverse of the situation described by Orwell but I feel it is not so clear cut. Firstly the news coverage of the alt-right tends to focus on on neo Nazis for video shock with hate pieces by the Christian right & TERFFs published by right leaning newspapers creating the impression that they are united by more than hate. I can only assume that someone is hoping to pull them together into a united front.

If we are to succeed against this new Fascism we need to get our act together. We need to ensure we are consistently spreading the right message. Responding to Islamophobic writing, make sure to link them to the wider alt-right front. For example say "Islamaphobes and other racists" not just "Islamaphobes".

We also need to avoid making ourselves look stupid. The right wing press likes nothing more than to pick up some crazy and attribute it to all of us. Allies can be really bad in this respect. I recently saw a post with a screen dump of something same presumably well meaning person wrote
"For the purposes of this guide we'll refer to the v[Redacted +] as the "front hole" instead of solely using the medical term "v[Redacted]" This is gender-inclusive language that's considerate of the fact that some trans people don't identify with the labels the medical community attaches to their genitals"
I've never known a transgender woman to use "front hole" instead of v[Redacted] but it is used by trans men. On investigation it's pretty obvious that the context of the original was that it was talking about issues relevant to AFAB (*) people but this isn't how it came across & alt-right types who are circulating the screenshot are lapping it up. I feel it would have been much better if they had found a different way of expressing themselves but it is what it is.

* Acronyms used.

AFAB Assigned Female At Birth. I.e. had a vulva.

TERFF Trans Excluding Fake Feminists. I prefer TERFF to TERF as the majority of the feminist movement rejects their ideology and there has been at least one TERFF group exposed as being a fake financed by right wing anti-feminists.

+ I chose to redact the word starting with V to avoid Google Search's profanity filters, I have no problem with it.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Transgender youth brain scans show differences

There's been some interesting research reported providing additional evidence that the brains of transgender adolescents are more like the gender they identify with than their birth gender.


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