theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

I was told the other day how true polyamory didn’t have rules. You just got to fuck whoever you wanted, and nobody could stop you or it wasn’t polyamory.

Okay.

Let’s break that down.

Because people forget rules weren’t inflicted on people wholesale by malicious bureaucrats. Rules are like pearls, which are beautiful to us but an irritant to an oyster. Oysters create pearls because they can’t get a piece of sand out of their tendermeats and layer it in nacre until they have a ball of Stuff stuck in their craw. That’s not great for the oyster, but it’s better than having sand ripping up their insides.

And like a pearl, every rule started with some Problem that was causing distress, and people decided to wrap a Rule around it – because as annoying as that Rule was, it was better than the initial Problem.

Now rules, as I’ve noted, are the failure state of polyamory. You’d be better served by utilizing expectations, which aren’t quite as brittle and lead to better understanding. But rules and expectations both are solutions to the same ultimate problem:

You’re hurting someone you love.

They feel abandoned when you don’t text them at the end of the night. They feel threatened when you cancel dates on them to go out with New Person. They feel exasperated when they’re spending their dates with you as a pseudo-relationship counsellor, picking apart the reasons you’re fighting with your other partner all the time.

But hey. You have no limits. So even if your partner’s cat just died and they’re desperate to not be alone tonight, fuck that! You had a date. And you’re not cancelling that because NO LIMITS!

What’s that?

That’d be cruel? You wouldn’t leave your partner alone during a time of need?

Well, I guess you have limits.

“That’s different!” you cry. “That’s what I wanted to do! I chose to do that of my own volition, not because of some stupid rules!”

Here’s the secret to rules, my friend:

Everyone chooses them.

There’s no legal contract for any poly relationship saying, “I have to stay with this person.” There may be consequences, divorce laws being punitive and all, but there’s consequences for any bad decision. You treat them badly enough that they refuse to talk to you, you don’t get the hot sex or the emotional support. If you’re really a shithead, you may lose friends over the breakup. There is no consequence-free decision.

As such, people may bitch about rules, but ultimately they chose to stay with the person who enacted them. Why? Because the irritant of the rules is better than losing that person entirely – or better than the less-critical problem of “I love them, so I don’t want to make them feel bad.”

You’re not better because you made a decision on the fly to alter your behavior to be with someone. That’s how relationships work. You negotiate, you compromise, you figure out where your elbow hits someone’s eye.

And in a lot of cases, you don’t do something that would bring you magnificent satisfaction because you know it would hurt someone. Unsafe sex. Taking someone else to the concert you promised you’d take them to. Disappearing for a two-week vacation with a new sweetie without letting them know where you’re going.

All those are limits.

“They’re self-imposed limits!” you cry – but now you’re changing the argument. Because polyamory was supposed to have no limits, man. Total and utter William Wallace-style FREEEEEEDOM!

…except that compassionate human beings, when given the choice to do whatever they want, will often choose not to do things that injure the people they love.

True freedom involves the ability to self-limit.

And so “Polyamory has no limits” often is a synonym for “I am a sociopath who is only out for my own satisfaction, and anyone who inconveniences me in any way will be shunted aside. I don’t give a fuck about you as long as I get mine.” It’s not so much an ethos as a warning sign that this person is not someone you want to date unless your Venn diagram of what you desire overlaps theirs perfectly.

And yes. It’s perfectly logical to stop dating someone whose feelings are so sensitive you can’t avoid bruising them; I’ve done it myself. But that’s not “I have no limits” so much as “Our limits were irreconcilable.” There’s nothing wrong with a hedonistic relationship based on pleasure, either, so long as everyone involved chose it honestly. It’s possible to have a relationship with such low limits that you never brush against them.

But I generally find that the people who bristle at any idea of limitations are the people who bristle at the idea of other people having needs. They want no limitations because really, anything that obstructs their satisfaction is an enemy to be destroyed.

Date these people at your peril.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I was reading this one at the same time as I was reading Sorting The Beef From The Bull, which was like a natural sciences one-two punch; I would read Sorting while commuting, and Remarkable Creatures in bed at night. 

Remarkable Creatures is the fictionalized story of two real-life people, Mary Anning and Elizabeth Philpot, who were fossil hunters in Lyme Regis in England back when we were just starting to like, figure dinosaurs out. It follows their relationship, and their struggles to be seen as legitimate contributors to the scientific record, for several years.

I didn’t actually know the account was based in real life until after I’d finished reading, which did ameliorate some of my disappointment with the book, because it’s hard to make a climactic narrative out of peoples’ real lives – reality just doesn’t flow as smoothly as fiction. But I won’t lie: I am still pretty disappointed that Elizabeth and Mary didn’t end up together. I thought that was totally where we were heading.

Mind you, the story of their friendship is compelling, and Chevalier did find a way to create rising action within the story, even though as she put it in the afterword, Mary Anning basically did the same thing every day for years, in terms of hunting fossils. 

As an account of fossil hunting, of the religious wrestling that people had to do with the concept of extinction, and of the way women were treated in the era, it’s a really great book. And it’s also a fast read, which I’ve come to expect from Chevalier. And honestly, this is the first book of hers I’ve read where the female leads don’t get married, though this is in part because the real-life Mary and Elizabeth didn’t either. 

But it still feels like Chevalier’s books are always about women settling. It’s the same problem – I know that’s what women have had to do, and I’m sure she does it intentionally at least in part to remind us of that fact. I just want more for these heroines. 

But if you’re interested in paleontology, Do Recommend, it’s a good book. Less frustrating than The Last Runaway, certainly, and the characters feel more compelling, more three-dimensional, than some of those in Girl With A Pearl Earring. 

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theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

Hey guys, I’ve got a quick-turnaround website to protest the AHCA – but while I’ve written the words and done the research, my web design looks like 2003 hot garbage.

If someone out there can commit to a professional, bare-bones web design to help me get out a three-page website this week, please email me at theferrett@gmail.com stat, along with a page or two that you’ve designed so I can verify you’re better than I am.  (It’s not hard, trust me.) And I’ll happily share details if you’re a professional who knows design and/or political protest and wanna email me at theferrett@gmail.com, because, well, it’s a last-ditch shot in the dark against the AHCA before it passes next week.

If you’re feeling volunteery, please email.  Thanks.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
I don’t know why it surprises me, my summers are always bananas, but July looks especially bonkers this year. Of the 20 possible workdays in July, I’m out for conferences, vacation, or workshops for a full half of them. I’m properly working only ten days in the entire month of July. 

I mean, I’m not unhappy about it. And thank god for a great paid leave package. I’m going to be traveling to cool places and doing neat things. It’s just kind of surreal. Like how last year I was only in the office for one week in all of June. 

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copperbadge: (literate men need books)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Taking a little break from Tracy Chevalier (we’ll be back to her soon)...

So, [tumblr.com profile] terrie01 recommended this book to me during a discussion on food fraud, and it’s been a really...interesting experience. On the one hand it’s a very informative book, packed full of detail and data, but on the other oh man is it dry. I didn’t realize what a struggle it was to get through until I started reading Extra Virginity this morning, which is about the same general topic (focused on olive oil) but is much more engagingly written.

Sorting the Beef From The Bull focuses on food fraud from a legislative and economic angle; I can imagine for people working in the industry it’s a little more accessible, and I don’t think it’s a badly written book. It’s just jammed with a combination of dense law and complex biochemistry, when what I (a non-lawyer, non-scientist) wanted was like...war stories about food fraud.

text )

(no subject)

Jun. 19th, 2017 08:24 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Before we begin, a quick reminder: when you submit a link and a blurb, you guys are your own best advocates. Try to look at the sites you're submitting and think, If I knew nothing about this situation, would what I'm seeing be helpful? And if not, try to include more context. You can give me more than one link, and it's often helpful to do so.

(This isn't specific to this week, just starting to notice a trend over the last six months where not enough context is available for me to write the blurb, let alone for others to be informed about it. Just a gentle nudge in the right direction!)

Ways to Give:

Julie is raising funds to cover rent; she has a job lined up but won't have a paycheck in time for July's rent. (This is a link I'm sharing rather than one that was submitted to RFM, so while I wasn't sure I should post Julie's username, I'll vouch for her personally.) You can read more and support the fundraiser here.

[tumblr.com profile] charlietheskonk is fundraising for a new Montessori preschool with wrap-around care; the fundraiser is to support startup and licensing costs, and supports a queer-owned business. You can read more and reblog here, or check out the fundraiser and give here.

[tumblr.com profile] digitaldiscipline linked to Jenn Vs. Trevor, a charity deadlift battle to raise funds for the winner's local Humane Society branch. You can reblog the link here and read more and donate here.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is still struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and hasn't been cleared to return to work, thus can't earn money to cover basic living costs, let alone the bills they've received, including a recent rent increase. They are frequently running out of money for gas to even do odd jobs for pay. You can read more and help out here.

Help For Free:

Anon linked to the EPA, which is soliciting public comment about the Second Five-Year Review Report for the Hudson River PCBs Superfund site. The report indicates that the levels of PCBs in the river are still too high, but the EPA is not planning any active measures to reduce them. You can read more here and find contact information here to tell the EPA the Hudson River deserves better.

RSF linked to public comments solicitation about a plan to "trim" the US National Monuments; activists are working to make it known how important they are, and that monuments like Bears Ears should be saved. You can learn more and comment here.

News to Know:

[tumblr.com profile] drgaellon linked to a linkslist for religious LGBTQ people who are struggling with their faith's attitudes towards their orientation; included are sites that validate queer orientations for Christian, Jewish, and Muslim faiths, including a site specifically for trans Jewish people. You can find the links and reblog here.

Housing:

[tumblr.com profile] worldsonpaper is looking for a new flatmate in Sydney, 15 minutes by train from the CBD. She is LGBT+ friendly but requests no male applicants. Bedroom with a shared bath, $250/wk plus internet; electricity and water are covered in the rent. $900 bond. You can contact her via ask on tumblr or at wieldswords at gmail.com.

[tumblr.com profile] blackestglass is looking for a roommate in the greater DC/Northern VA area, to move in on August 1. She is in a 2br/2ba condo, Metro accesible, with free parking, gym access, and in-unit laundry. Master suite is available for $1290/mo plus utilities, or the smaller suite is available for $1190/mo, with lower rent if the parking space isn't needed and can be rented out. You can read more and get in touch here.

And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.

My Grandfather’s Bookcase, And Mine

Jun. 14th, 2017 10:26 am
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

In my basement sits a bookcase that, I am told, was built by my grandfather.  I don’t know; I never met him.  He died three months before I was born.

My grandfather's bookcase, I think.The bookcase has a huge, multilayered wad of gum on the side from when I was a teenager, and had no idea what the bookcase was – it was just in my room, and I owned my room, and besides the gum wasn’t where my Mom could see it.  It was my little act of dickish rebellion that, like a thousand other things I did as a teenager, I regret.

And that’s all it was for several years: my grandfather’s bookcase. My teenaged gum.

Now that I’ve taken up woodworking, I can now see the choices he made in making it: fixed shelves, because drilling in the holes for adjustable shelves is a pain in the ass.  He chose a little hand-carved decoration along the top to hide the boxlike construction – not exactly beautiful, but a step beyond everyday bookcase making.  It sits on a base for greater stability, which is something we haven’t done yet.

Now that I build things, it’s not a bookcase but a language my grandfather spoke.  Were he alive today, I could grunt in a manly way and ask what tools he used back in 1960 to make this thing, and discuss where he kept his workshop, and ask about the staining.

And he would, in the way of all woodworkers, be able to point out every tiny flaw he could not correct.  Every craftsman knows about them, because you cannot avoid them: that joint that isn’t perfectly snug, that router that drifted from the fence, that board that’s 1/16″ too short.  Experienced woodworkers – and me and my crew are getting there – know how to hide those errors with wood putty and on-the-fly plan alterations, but we keep them tight to our chest.  They are the secrets of furniture, an encrypted thieves’ cant of sorrow only told to others in the hobby.

Last night I made my own contribution to the house: a dye shelf I made for Gini in the basement.  It’s made of pine, my first natural wood project – not that you’d know that because at the last minute Gini insisted on switching from a dark stain to a bright purple paint.

I can list all its flaws: the squaring is off by an eighth of an inch because the pine was slightly warped.   There’s a gouge underneath the right third shelf where – you guessed it – the router drifted from the fence.  The paint was the wrong kind for woodworking, latex, too sticky to sand the brush strokes off, so there’s dribbles everywhere.

Gini loves it.

And soon, it will earn its place in the basement, just another fixture in the house, a useful engine.  And my garage workshop is filling other houses; we have two bookcases meant for Eric’s attic, and two customized shelves meant to fit in the gaps on either side of Jim’s fireplace.

And in a sense, I feel like I’m firing a flare into the future.  I will die, like my grandfather before me.  But my friends and family will know that Ferrett did woodworking – here, here’s the shelf he built for Gini, we didn’t have the heart to throw it out, can you use it?

Maybe some day there will be someone who never got to know me but can rest his hand on some shelf I built.  And they too will speak this language of craftsmanship.  And they’ll look at the speckly paint job and the uneven shelves and judge me, and they will look at the love it took to spend a few hours building something because your wife asked you to and adjust their thinking, and they’ll cock their head and look at this stolid thing as if trying to unravel what sort of man I am from the things I left behind.

I wish I could tell them.  But I won’t last.

My shelves might.

Let them talk for me when I’m gone.

"Project Gini"

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Dutch Baby is by far the most dramatic of all the pastries. 

Look how impressed my owl spoon rest is and DO NOT look at how oh my god filthy my stove is….

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copperbadge: (Default)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Trying to get back into the swing of reviewing books, especially since I’m no longer re-reading the entire Nero Wolfe canon…

So, I recently found a stash of Chevalier’s ebooks on my tablet and decided to re-read Girl With A Pearl Earring, which I very much liked, and then picked The Last Runaway out of the others. The book centers around a young Quaker woman from England, Honor Bright, who at some point in the mid 19th century (I’m a little shaky on the exact date, but pre-Civil War) decides to immigrate to America with her sister Grace after Honor’s fiancee breaks their engagement to marry outside the faith. Spoilers below. 

spoilers! )
theferrett: (Meazel)
[personal profile] theferrett

Repealing Obamacare’s protections would be bad enough. But the new Trumpcare will most likely make your health care worse than before Obamacare was enacted – and if you lived through those days, you’ll remember they weren’t exactly fantastic for sick people.

You may say, “Well, I have health insurance through my employer, so I’m safe!”  Unfortunately, it’s rumored the Senate is planning to allow employer-provided insurers to just stop covering you once they spend enough on you.  Did your kid need an expensive operation?  Well, your insurer’s paid enough as far as the Republicans are concerned.  Now your employer’s Aetna coverage has run out, and you’ll have to find another job with another insurer if you want your kids (and you!) to be protected.

I say this is “rumored” because this is bill is so goddamned awful that the Senate refuses to publish a draft of the bill that the public can see.  As it is planned by Republicans, there will be no public debates, no hearings, no explanations – just a simple vote before July 4th.  Republicans bitch that Obama “rammed” the ACA through quickly, but that took 270 days and numerous town halls and hearings.  The Republicans are literally not even letting the American people know what’s in this shitty bill because, as an aide said, “We aren’t stupid.”

Your only hope to knock this off the rails is to call your Senators.  Now.  You need to call today, because several of the Senators in charge of the bill are meeting to finalize their plans.

And unfortunately, while people were furious enough to flood their Senators’ offices with calls right after Trump got elected, sources say we’re back to the usual silence.  People have given up.

I’m asking my fellow Americans: make two calls, one to each of your Senators.  If they’re Republican, tell them how this shit will hurt you.  If they’re Democratic,  tell them to bring Congress to a stop until this is at least debated in public.

Here’s how you do it:

CALL, DO NOT EMAIL, THE AIDE IN CHARGE OF HEALTH CARE.
Politicians can ignore emails the way you do. They can’t ignore calls. Their staffers have to take the calls, which means their staff doesn’t get anything done while they’re handling calls, which means the Senator is far more likely to hear about how the office is slowing to a crawl because the ACA issue is jamming the lines.

In addition, most Senators don’t get that many calls; under normal circumstances, 15 people calling a day is huge. For an entire state. If you can get 50, that’s usually off the charts. So even one call can make a significant difference.

You want to call the aide in charge of health care to be sure you get heard.  Fortunately, here is a list of all the staffers tasked with working on health care.

SAY YOU’RE A VOTER FROM YOUR TOWN.
Let them know you’re local up-front. Calling Senators when you’re not a potential voter generally does diddly. You do not have to give your name, though you can if you want; they may ask you for your zip code.  If you have to leave a message, tell them you want a call back to confirm the message got through and leave your number.

HAVE A SCRIPT READY, IF YOU’RE SOCIALLY AWKWARD LIKE ME.
A good script is something like:

1) Protecting preexisting conditions is vital to keeping America strong;
2) Please do not repeal the ACA without a strong replacement that protects sick people (they’re going to repeal it, the idea is just to keep the parts that keep people alive), and the bill that passed the House is an abomination that will hurt sick people.
3) I will not vote for any Senator who helps repeal the ACA without a strong replacement, either in the primary or the general election.

You’re free to go on, if you like, but be polite. They kind of have to listen. In my experience, they’ll generally say they’ll pass the message onto the Senator, and hang up. But if you want to be that person who the office groans when they have to handle them – that polite-but-firm person who will be heard – then hey! You can contribute to the office gossip that people are really concerned about this ACA issue, which is good in politics.

CALL YOUR SENATORS, NOT YOUR REPRESENTATIVES.
That means you have to make a maximum of two calls, which will take ten minutes max. (Unless your Senator’s line is already clogged, in which case, keep calling.)

You can generally look up your senator by using Who Is My Representative, then use the staffer guide to see who you should call.

And here’s the trick: If you’re a conservative who’s opposed to mandating that insurers must be able to insure people with preexisting conditions (for some reason), flip the script and call as well. This is a republic, and you deserve to have your voice heard, even if I utterly cannot see why you’d support this particular bill except that you’re the sort of doof who’d punch a puppy if it made a liberal cry.

That said, I said back in January that “I fully expect the ACA will be repealed without a valid replacement.” If you don’t like that very real fact, then call now.  I’m sick of calling.  You’re sick of calling.  The Republicans are making us sick… of calling.

Still.  Call now.  I hate to keep giving last chances, but man, we’re closer than ever to losing everything.

Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.

(no subject)

Jun. 12th, 2017 08:10 am
copperbadge: (radiofreemondaaay)
[personal profile] copperbadge
Good morning everyone, and welcome to Radio Free Monday!

Ways to Give:

[tumblr.com profile] natasharomanov is a film major with Cerebral Palsy, living in Los Angeles; she recently lost her dream job with a film producer, and is raising funds to keep a roof overh er head and bills paid. She is offering commission work on icons, video edits, and graphic design; you can check out her work and get in touch here.

[tumblr.com profile] in-real-life-there-is-no-algebra will be teaching next year as an 11th grade English teacher in Texas, at a school with very few resources and located in a food desert. She would like to stock her classroom in a way that makes her kids, the majority of whom are Latinx or African-American, feel like they are in a first-rate school with supplies and a great classroom library. She's set up an Amazon Wishlist here where people can help buy books for her students to enjoy.

[tumblr.com profile] rilee16 is still struggling to cover medical expenses after two head injuries last year, and hasn't been cleared to return to work, thus can't earn money to cover basic living costs, let alone the bills they've received, including a recent rent increase. They are frequently running out of money for gas to even do odd jobs for pay. You can read more and help out here.

Help For Free:

[personal profile] brainwane linked to Strange Horizons, an online SFF magazine which is seeking two volunteer Associate Editors. The position requires about 3-5 hours of work per week, and works across all departments, assisting with the running and development of the magazine. They are strongly encouraging applications from queer, minority, and non-US/UK residents. You can read more and apply here.

[personal profile] brainwane also linked to WisCon, a feminist SFF convention which is seeking ideas for next year's programming. You don't have to be attending to suggest panels, workshops, and session ideas. Per their website, "WisCon encourages programming that has at least implicit, but preferably explicit, recognition of and engagement with an expansive definition of feminism. We encourage programming that is attentive to issues of gender, sexuality, race, class, disability, and other issues of oppression and/or identity politics." You can read more and make suggestions here.

Housing:

[tumblr.com profile] blackestglass is looking for a roommate in the greater DC/Northern VA area, to move in on August 1. She is in a 2br/2ba condo, Metro accesible, with free parking, gym access, and in-unit laundry. Master suite is available for $1300/mo plus utilities, or the smaller suite is available for $1200/mo, with lower rent if the parking space isn't needed and can be rented out. You can read more and get in touch here.

News To Know:

Carter linked to information about the upcoming Leverage Big (And Mini) Bang, which will be opening for signups in August. You can read more at their tumblr, [tumblr.com profile] leveragebigbang and they're trying to generate as much interest and awareness as possible!


And this has been Radio Free Monday! Thank you for your time. You can post items for my attention at the Radio Free Monday submissions form. If you're not sure how to proceed, here is a little more about what I do and how you can help (or ask for help!). If you're new to fundraising, you may want to check out my guide to fundraising here.
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