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Rants Story

Unabled

This post contains a story about me, but it isn’t really about me. It also contains my #2Son who is autistic, but it isn’t really about him either. It’s a little bit about some of you.*

It’s about the looks and the stares and a bit about what I feel.*

* I guess this is, really, about me, it is my story and my reactions, and how I react to others, so all still me there. But I can make it seem like other people are also involved…right?

(MDK 2019)

A Story

A few days ago #2Son got himself a little anxious. When this happens he can manifest certain behaviours, they aren’t always the same, they aren’t for anyone. But part of it becomes a loss of the ability to communicate feelings and thoughts and a general deterioration in overall control.

Like all of us it results in a wig out, but with no way of expressing the problem or coping with the behaviour in a manner acceptable to all of us in the neurotypical realm it gets fraught.

We were at a Supermarket after being out all day, this was probably part of the issue but there were other factors. Basically a minor wigging out was turning into a complete meltdown.

We have lots of, I guess tactics is the word, patterns for dealing with this, many of them are hug shaped, but sometimes I find that silly games work.

#2Son is seven but he has an older and younger brother and we have always had silly games since he was a toddler (and I still have some silly games with his younger brother and one or two with the older more serious sibling). Games like being swung like a baby in a cradle, or the Sockle Monster who hunts in pairs, or the INCREDIBLE FINGER OF DOOM THAT MUST EAT YOUR BELLY BUTTON (emphasis intentional).

So those are what we did. In the car park, and forecourt, of the supermarket, in daylight, on a busy day. So, of course we got looks…

The Looks

I am not going to discuss whether people should look or not, because of course people can look ffs. I am going to discuss what some of the looks (obviously not all of them, just the types I generally see and some of the ones today) seem to say and how I feel about them and hopefully from that you can think about how we look at people.

The Embarrassed Stare

This one is easy to spot. A stare of surprise and then a quick look away. I get it, something unusual happened, you looked and then you realised that could seem rude so you looked away.

Got to tell you, that’s fine. It’s okay to be curious and we get it, you satisfied polite social norms and all I can say is don’t feel embarrassed or distressed that you may have been rude or seen as rude, you’re not. So don’t feel bad and you can look.

The Glare

This is a hard one to deal with. I honestly don’t know how people who get glared at all the time manage not to go around punching people.

It is the hard stare. The long angry look The look that says what are you doing acting in that manner. How dare you act like that in my presence.

It may be from a mixture of fear or not knowing how to understand. It may be from a genuine distress. All I can say is that if you feel that you have to stare like this then you need to seek some help. Because nothing is going on that is a threat to you or the way you see the world. It is the way you are interacting with the world that is the issue.

The Cold Laugh

This may just be a misinterpretation, but I do see it. The cold stare with a smile that suggest some inner amusement. There always seems to be something cruel about this.

I have to say if there is an element of cruelty, if you enjoy someones distress or differences as it gives weight to a narrative of discrimination you might have, or allows you to enjoy some pleasure at their situation, then you need to seek help.

If of course you just can’t help it and this is a natural response you have then do people a favour and look away.

The Smile

So this one is a genuine smile, seems to be a knowing smile. It is friendly and seems to suggest that they approve of what you are doing. It’s almost like they cheerily called well done for interacting with your child in a manner that they seem to enjoy.

You can tell I like this one. This is what I hope most of us could do. We can smile in a friendly way at each other. Even if it’s not a way in which you’d behave, if the other people are enjoying themselves, be glad for them.

Wrap Up

So in a vague way I come to my conclusion, I am not sure I had a point or roadmap for this post just a bunch of thoughts that I have to wrap up before my reader falls asleep.

There are lots of ways you can look at people, and lots of ways I get looked at when I interact with my kids. I have a long history of being stared at, and sometimes it is when I am having fun being silly with a child and sometimes I am on my own being silly.

But what we should all probably try to do, is be happy for each other and think of how best to show that. Because you don’t know the story of the person you see being strange or different to you. You don’t always know the manner in which to interact. You may not no what the social convention is…who really does?

But you can be forgiving of their behaviour and glad for their joy.

Categories
Rants writing

Bollocks to DST BST

Why we originally adopted DST (Daylight Savings Time) is a mixture of reasons (
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Summer_Time) but the actions were rooted in a time of war. I have thought it (un-ironically) a waste of time and an anachronism. It really isn’t needed in modern life, but it never overtly affected me until the last decade or so.

So, these days I really flipping hate it and the reasons are because I have kids and a more hectic schedule, let me rant on…

#1 Son

#1son is 8 years old and going on nine. He likes to get up at 6 a.m. and play some video games before school. This week he has only managed that once. Added to that he feels that we are sending him to bed an hour early (we kind of are as we want to re-establish his body clock as soon as possible and routine is good with that).

#1son is annoyed, upset and generally feeling that it is a personal attack on him, he is even surlier than when we told him he couldn’t have a week off school to play Mario Galaxy.

#1son is annoyed that the answer to why we have daylight savings is because more than a century ago we had a war.

#2 Son

#2son is 7 years old and Autistic. #2son likes to sleep in until seven in the morning when he is sleepily awoken and needs a little extra processing time to get to grips with the differences between the magic realism of his sleep and the neuro-typical realism of a world constructed for the differently abled.

#2son loves regular patterns as they seem easier to grasp. #’2son is out-of-sorts as some fucking idiot changed time and he cannot work out why they would do that and really cannot formulate properly how he feels about it.

#3 Son

#3son is a toddler, he is 2 years old. Ask anyone with a toddler, the changing of clocks is an auto-fuck-up to sleep pattern and sensibilities. It throws them all out of whack. It sends them all a little bit unfocussed and thus grumpy-McBastard is never far from those shores.

#3son was so disrupted by sleep schedules he took extra time to go to bed (including coming back down stairs which he very rarely does) and the next night he got up at 3 a.m. as his body clock switched itself to who-the-hell-knows and he had to come into mummy and daddy’s bed.

#Mummy

#Mummy is a very busy person who needs her sleep patterns to be regular as she spends most of her day in doctoral research and evenings switching between kids, work, hobbies and me. #Mummy doesn’t like BST DST as it fucks up her family and their routines.

#Daddy #Me

I get up most mornings at 04:30 (that’s when my first alarm is set for anyway) as I normally run/exercise between 05:00 and 07:00 before the rest of the house gets up. DST means my alarm now goes off at the equivalent time of 03:30 and my body is really saying fudge-that-shot … no I mean fuck-that-shit.

I am really tired of DST. It messes up my whole family. Very few people I know would actually want to keep it, except it seems #arsebowlers who believe it is British and not European (see the headlines in some popular press because Europe has decided to get rid of the stupid practice). I suppose some farmers might like it for some crop-rotation thing, maybe, or something, do the druids and pagans like it?

Oh well, let’s recycle this rant in October and March for some years if you please…

Categories
Rants writing

Let’s Grab Nigel and set him Alight

Who would have thought that four centuries after the notorious gunpowder plot there was a different way to blow up Parliament. All we needed to do was have a referendum on a politically divisive matter and the place exploded all on its own.

And as we rush towards a no deal Brexit as a worst case scenario (and a might be a deal but not what we wanted as an alternative) we have our own malevolent plotter, or divisive scapegoat (take your pick), in the Mister Toad of Twat Hall, Nigel Farage.

Heck Fawkes, Farage, the names are similar in a number of ways let’s be honest. I think that dear Nige’ would look good with the git-warmer facial hair and massive hat.

Brexit Night,
Everything’s shite,
Let’s grab Nigel
and set him alight…

(Mark Keating 2019)

One can only hope that the fate that awaits the premier crapmeister of this little fiasco matches somewhat his historical counterpart. But, that would be a pipe dream.

Will the future huddled masses of a post-Europe Britain huddle around bonfires on March 29th each year to celebrate the trashing of the country. Perhaps they will burn a number of different effigies and light miserable fireworks to mourn our collective idiocy. Or can doubters of the great and noble exit like me be mistaken? Will we celebrate these pioneers of falsehood and reward them as true architects of a Greater Britain?

For now, I can only ask, ‘Penny for the Nige?’

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Rants Uncategorized writing

Motorway Brexit Left

Driving along any motorway in England at the moment is an exercise in traffic control and cone watching. Everywhere you see the same sign, ‘upgrading to smart motorways expect delays [until after we leave Europe]’.

For like every other malaise that seems to malign this one sceptered isle it is the influence of the EU that has caused all this. Bloody European dictats from an elitist Brussels declaring the good old Blighty highways to be too dim for our Europhile drivers.

We wouldn’t have had any of this in the good old days of the early seventies before Margaret Thatcher was forced to sell us out to the greater continental landmass by the union pressures of the milk marketing board. Thank God we don’t need to mine milk otherwise she’d have had to exact revenge on the purveyors of dairy goods in the early Eighties. With such abhorrence avoided, the dear milk-snatchery one found it was far easier to force the dairy farmers into poverty so that large commercial giants could hoover up farms at low prices and instigate a regime of steroid-assisted bodyshaping of the new Euro-herds. Oh the happy eighties where every child could be transformed into a Yuppie demi-god for the mere cost of their humanity.

However we spin forwards so that everywhere you look there is a random Europeanite. Be it a  Polisharian, or Dutchovian, speeding backwards in their misaligned cars with steering wheels on the wrong side. Driving like respectable people shouldn’t on a British highway. What’s wrong with these people? Don’t they know that the best way to overtake is on the inside? Don’t they realise that road signs are an arbitrary advisory statement and not a rule. How dare they come here with their pretty vehicles touting their blue spangled banner.

Typical of the Eurocrats to insist on greater regulation, yet more rules dreamt up in the Belgium Ivory Towers. Now we have instructions enforced in a contemporary display of pin sharp LEDs engraving their regulations onto your retinas from one thousand yards (or about nine hundred and ninety Euro-metres).

No longer can the British brave all weathers and conditions firm in the belief that it is by skill and understanding that one can judge pace or direction of travel. Not any longer. Now the Brussels-born have birthed driving regulation upon driving regulation on us. Now we have safety conditions and speed monitoring, traffic flow management and car safety and vehicle emissions set from an air-conditioned chamber deep in the heart of the Euro-dictat.

But soon, oh soon, dear Britexitans we will regain control of our laws, our regulations and our destiny. We will once again shape this proud land with thick as pigshit roads for our thick as pigshit isolationists. For we all remember that time, before the European massive forced safety and sense on our shores when England, nay Britain, was a rough untamed wilderness of few laws. Yes, back in the sixties we had no signs, no rules, no belts or airbags to hold and constrain us when we choose to smash into each other at excessive speeds.

As soon as we leave the Government will dismantle the shackles of the Euro-state and administer a lobotomy on all our highways and free us once again so that we might prosper to an incipient end.

 

Categories
Rants

My Cup

Maybe the stresses of the world we all lived through in 2017 (and for a few years before that it feels) are finally getting to us all. Maybe it is the accelerating pace of technology and the number of new branches and innovations that has us confused and bedraggled. Maybe it is because we are all getting older and a little more crunchy about the edges…

Where am I heading with this?

Three of the groups, organisations, communities, call them what you will, that I belong to and deeply care about have had some turbulence of late. To be honest some of it is old wounds left to fester, some is exciting new directions, and then there is that boundless puppy enthusiasm that is too harshly kicked (as old dog’s despise new tricks as just a repeat of the old trick with shiny bits).

However there is, one would say, some issue.

For me the biggest problem stems from that of simple discursive maturity, and let me elaborate on that.

Rationalism

Do a quick search on rationalism and you will uncover something akin to this:

ˈraʃ(ə)n(ə)lɪz(ə)m (noun)
the practice or principle of basing opinions and actions on reason and knowledge rather than on religious belief or emotional response.
PHILOSOPHY: the theory that reason rather than experience is the foundation of certainty in knowledge.
THEOLOGY: the practice of treating reason as the ultimate authority in religion.’

I personally am fond of the rational use of discourse. It allows us to talk freely about subjects in an open manner and often using concepts or positions that are unfamiliar, and maybe objectionable, to others. This isn’t to say that I forgive malice or abusive discourse, they are not rational so I abhor people who use freedom of expression as an excuse.

Nor does being rational mean that you have no emotion at all. There is always room for passion as long as it is about subject and not aimed at people after being weaponised.

It means that when someone holds a strong position, or more usually presents such an opinion just so that it can be discussed, I can engage with them and appreciate the discussion without seeing harm.

This is how we are to progress. This is, somewhat, in essence that Socratic view of Thesis-Antithesis-Synthesis. We can have opposing arguments or positions and find a balanced position. A rationale.

So when someone presents such a strong position, but does it in an open manner, I try to engage with them in that same way even if I find their position antithetical to my own understanding. That is also how we learn.

Not only that. If we can discuss, and allow from that discussion a better understanding, and hopefully gain an agreement based on concessions from evidence of a superior position* then it is even finer.

*(Where superior means better for all and not dominant.)

Kingdom of the Kindergarden

However what I have seen a little of recently is too much of what I like to think is the Kingdom of the Kindergarden. The one ruler in the playpen who everyone must respect and no-one else should be heard.

There will be tears. There will be hair pulling and gnashing of teeth. There will be wails, grunts, cries of unfair, and they started it. There will be name calling and sometimes worse, there may be vengeful, painful, abuse.

We can all fall so easily into being the ruler of the playpen. We can all move our toys with velocitous speed from our crib with cries of displeasure and calls of unfair. Some of us may even storm from the room allowing everyone to hear our departure and allowing no one but ourselves to have the last word.

We can all do it.

Some of us do not.

Quiet Departures

When the Kindergarden rules the adults tend to try and calm the situation. They try to ameliorate, discuss, understand and compromise. When that fails, they leave. The adults quietly walk away and allow the children to cry and wail. They stop the discourse because that’s what adults do. Adults are not the masters of the playpen. They are not its citizens.

If there can be no rationality, there really can be no real discourse. The most reasoned voices are not the ones who win, they are the ones who left. A reasoned voice knows that community comes from compromise not from dominance.

They don’t throw a cup, with a beverage in it or not, at a wall. They drink their tea, put the cup in the sink, and walk quietly out of the door.

As for my cup?

Well I have just poured myself a drink and I am looking out of the window…

Categories
Rants Thoughts

“It was the best of times…”

“…it was the worst of times”

For those of you in the know the quote is of course from Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, it may have also been the start to some Victorian Novel by Charles Dickens called Tale of Two somethings-or-another.

So why am I using it?

Well it is simple, 2017 has been both a horrid and good year for me. I am going to Vaguebook a little and not fill in the exact details of what made it either bad or good. It just was.

This is just me off-loading a little to the world and saying that 2017 despite how it looked from the outside was pretty much a massive up and down period in which far too much shit hit the fan at the same time as having some excellent moments.

Is there a real message that I want people to take away from reading this? Probably not. Just that you can have both amazing and awful at pretty much the same time. You can have life-changing times where you learn from both the positive and negative things that occur.

How about 2018?

Well I wish I could say that there is some new dawn, a brightest time approaching, but there likely isn’t. It looks to be both up and down as well.

At this point life is a roller-coaster. I am affected by so many other forces that I cannot actively control the destination, but I am able to help navigate the path and in doing so maybe make it a road easier to travel.

So what was this?

Did you not read the part about vaguebooking? I am marking a point. It is the end of the year and I wanted to place a reference that it was bad, and also good. I wanted to remember that despite all the pain of 2017, there was also some massive highs.

In life we often focus too much on the lows and they can stay with us for so much longer. Especially grief and loss. So the good things that happened at the same time can become consumed by the bad.

So this is a marker to remind me that it wasn’t my horrible year (I’m not the Queen, I don’t do Latin). It was both good and bad. In fact it was probably both the best and the worst.

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Rants Thoughts

The ‘Approved’ Conundrum

There is a well known parents website (whose title suggests a single gendered focus) who have become an increasingly powerful presence and influencer. Quite recently I have noticed with increasing frequency that their awards or recommendations for products are now appearing on the packaging of those products.

I have no issue with this happening as the site should rate things if it wishes and getting crowd-funded response helps other consumers, so all good. But there is an issue and I think it will worsen and is unbalanced in regards to objective rating.

Advertising

The site has paid advertising and sponsored products. It also has competitions for submitting reviews on particular products. It has vouchers and offers that are exclusive to its readers. Now any one of these shows some slight favour, but nothing ‘bad’, right?

The reviews of the products are fair (broadly) and the way the ratings work is by mob decision, so that isn’t bad. Except I think you could game this system and get good response and I will highlight one way I can think of.

I have a product, it isn’t unique but it is new to my company. I want a high pickup and I want awards so the new product will fly off the shelves, I also want stores to stock it so need a high demand.

  1. Send free review copies to site owners in a fancy box with a few extra goodies as thanks for reviewing, but don’t insist on a good review. (This tactic will influence people, we all like being treated well).
  2. Offer a lot of discounts to visitors of these sites, make them special. (Increase demand).
  3. Run a competition that anyone can enter (spreading the word).
  4. Run promotion at the people who enter competitions or use discount codes to get further discounts on products and special extras and mention that a good review is loved, even tell people of the special packages that some reviewers get. (This will help to reposition any 3.5 out 5 star reviews into being a 4 – you want to be fair but 3.5 is almost 4 right?)
  5. Any site where the reviews are more positive and increasing push further offers and targeted advertising.

There is no guarantee that this will absolutely work, but if the product is good enough and you keep it subtle but pervasive you will see a change in behaviour and uptake.

Conclusion

So I think that you have to treat this in a balanced way. If you are a product advertiser who gets an award on a site like this then you shouldn’t advertise on the site. It is too much collusion and too much chance of bias.

Put it this way, if you had a bad review on the site and a worst product award you wouldn’t spend any money there and would consider it toxic. I think you have to do the same if you have great reviews.

It is a way of keeping a moral equilibrium. If you are the site owners you maybe want to think about the whole model you have created. A system that allows direct influence via numerical reward for products that (although may be fairly reviewed and loved) directly influence people’s spending has a responsibility to be fair.

You can’t be fair when someone is throwing money at you and your model is to take their discounts, advertising and free products. It is always going to affect your rating either positively or negatively.

</rant>

Categories
News Rants

Paradise Trilogy

Paradise Found

So if you have hid your head under a rock for the past few days you may have missed the news about the Paradise Papers. This is another large group of financial documents, similar to last year’s Panama Papers, that detail the wonderfully creative avoidance of tax by the mostly super rich.

To many of us this just seemed like an expected news round, like the revelations that say governments spy on us as much as each other, or that elections and media agencies are targeted by foreign powers with agendas. It isn’t news if we expect the world to happen that way and we just dolefully accept it as such.

Unfortunately.

Personally I think we should drop some of our weary cynicism and try to engage with the news here. We have seen that the online world now has a strong voice, it is often visceral but the effects are physical. maybe it is time for us to voice our general displeasure.

Paradise Lost

The problem is that we have become so indoctrinated to the ideas that this is what happens that we are insulated to the cost. This is a bankruptcy at the heart of our systems of finance and distribution. It will eventually affects us all and when crashes happen, as they will, they are devastating.

Already the news cycles seem to be waning. Partly this is because like some apocalyptic Chinese curse we are currently stuck in an Interesting Times of news cycles. Where the cycle is a monocycle with a missing wheel, a jet engine and a coked up, blind and epileptic rhinoceros as the rider.

If I were to be suspicious I would hazard that there is a collective push back by a cadre of hidden oligarchs to quell this particular piece, and the Panama papers round and lifespan might support that. but I also have to balance it with dodging the Rhinoceros.

Paradise Regained

One of the most prominent elements of the news coverage has been the element of legality. Like when Tim Cook of Apple in the past declared they paid every dollar they were due to. We are told that those in the spotlight have done nothing illegal.

I hadn’t presumed they had, that’s silly to think so. This is why they have clever lawyers. This is why they have teams of accountants. This is why they have political influence that creates vague definitions and applications of law.

This is tax avoidance not evasion.

They haven’t committed a crime, per se. But what does that mean? In the UK it is pretty much illegal for me to beat my children with a stick. But that is not a universal law. So if I holiday in a country where they allow beating with a stick it is all okay as long as Ii obeyed the non-beating in my domestic homeland. Like Apple I am now taking the stick to children in the right territories.

It isn’t illegal, but it might be immoral.

If you want to stay abreast of the stories you can follow the page linked below. it is a good starting point to know who and whom so that you can conduct searches elsewhere.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/search?q=paradise+papers&filter=news&suggid=

It may be time we kept up the conversation on this.

Categories
Rants Thoughts

So Very Busy

There is an old adage that if you want anything done then you should find a busy person and ask them to help…

So there are two parts to that. Either they are busy because they are always efficient and can handle a great deal of things, or they are the sort of happy moron who just cannot say no to helping people.

I am in the latter category.

Whih is why I am so very busy all the time and do not think that I at all organised about it.

Well enough of this, stuff to do.

Categories
Rants Thoughts

Facebook: the Sniper

Be wary as you travel the various plains of Facebook timelines as you will no doubt, if you have not been already, the subject of a sniper.

A sniper will hide in the tall grass and wait for their victim, when they engage with you it is by means of clever comment to your posts or by a subtly worded post of their own. The effect is still the same, however, you have been taken down by their superiority.

The Facebook Sniper is a perfidious breed, often greatly intelligent, insightful and witty they hone their skills not to engage, support and encourage but to destroy. They seek to balance some level of negative self-esteem by seeking superiority over others.

Their attacks are clever, always tilted to sound reasonable, balanced and above all passive, but the this is just a ruse. In truth it is an assault, intended to rile while providing the sniper with sufficient cover to hide. They draw you out to their killing ground where they can claim a justifiable kill. If you engage with a sniper it will look as if you instigated the assault and they will rally others to watch their kill.

They are a player of tiny games, seeking to lift themselves high by standing on the corpses of their kills, do not engage with them, you will lose.*

* An interesting note should be made that by publishing this post I am in fact doing approximately the same as the Facebook: Sniper myself in that I am drawing out a certain type of person into my killing ground. This realisation demoralises me slightly yet does not stop me posting 😉