raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
I have spent my day thinking, writing, tweeting, explaining, considering, thinking some more: but we have a hung Parliament, a Labour gain of 30 seats (including Kensington, declared nearly 24 hours after polls closed, a win by thirty votes!), a Tory disaster across England, and the sight of an arrogant, out-of-control government deservedly on its knees. It's been a fascinating, joyful day, starting with that waking up and demanding to hear the worst, and the worst not being the worst. (Waking up the morning after the EU referendum broke something in me that won't be repaired in this life.) But today I followed the news, and watched videos of Jeremy Corbyn being serenaded outside his house, and thinking about the workings of coalition and the varying contexts of regional politics in this country, and I have enjoyed it: both on the intellectual level and as a person for whom the political process has become a thing worthy of clear thought and reason again.

(Also: I'm a qualified lawyer in England and Wales and a career civil servant in central government. I hold a joint honours degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics from Balliol College, Oxford and a Masters degree in constitutional jurisprudence from an Ivy League law school. Nevertheless men gonna mansplain.)

Anyway, I'm crashing very, very hard. My mental health has been very tiresome recently and I got through last night by means of sedatives and alcohol and quite possibly deserve how crushingly terrible I feel now. But I wanted to sit down and have on record that we did something extraordinary today; that it was so hard, and it will be so hard; but we worked and donated and campaigned, and what we do matters. I keep thinking about the Labour Party - a party I have been a member of since I was sixteen years old - and how it isn't a party like the others. Labour is the party of the labour movement: it is a movement, a slow progress of people towards the light on the hill. We should be at each other's throats all the time. We should rail against our failures, we should strive towards great, extraordinary internal diversity, because we are the many, not the few. We believe that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone. The Tories said, only we can save you - but we don't need anyone to save us. We are many; we can save us. We are many; we don't have to do everything ourselves. I've been too mentally ill to canvass, so my friends did that. I'm not allowed to campaign, so my mum and dad did that. I can write and think and argue, so I did that.

We need to know each other's names and what we are asking, Margaret Atwood says. Do not be any thing. Be the light we see by.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
Notes on voting in a referendum, my first:

-The British summer. You could wring out the air like a dishcloth. We were waiting in for the plumber. At the polling station I explained to the tellers that in an outsized efficiency Islington had registered me to vote twice, in two different names. They seemed mildly concerned, thanked me for letting them know, and asked me what my legal name was, and then apologised for asking. I voted, once, with a stub pencil. The lady next to in the queue said to the tellers, “I don’t read well. Can you go through it with me?”

“Of course,” they said. On the way out, someone in a car with all the doors open was playing “Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover”.

-On Seven Sisters Road, two girls holding REMAIN banners, picket signs and stickers waved cheerfully at passing traffic. A woman with a table further down was explaining very earnestly to an old white man that to remain leaves our options open; if you have the slightest doubt, you know what you need to do, and also, do you trust Boris Johnson? Her companion said to me, have you voted. Yes. Would you like a sticker? I’d love one, I said, but I’m a civil servant. Oh well, she said, best be safe, hope your day is lovely.

-Outside Holloway Road Tube station, the same two campaigners I’ve been seeing most days this week were both standing out in the rain. One was explaining EU parliamentary democracy to a passer-by; the other asked if I’d voted. Inside the ticket hall, in the midmorning lull, a woman had forgotten about the lift she was waiting for and was shouting across the barriers to the station staff. “It’s about our children’s future!” she was saying, as I rummaged for my Oyster card. “Not for us, but for them!”

“Absolutely,” said the ticket barrier guy, sounding fervent. I said earlier this week that of course TFL have no political views, but they’re running an experimental trial at Holborn that’s trying to get people to stand on both sides of the escalators. The signage has started to say things like “UNITED WE STAND”.

I am afraid that in the years to come I may look back upon today as the last breath of the leftist consensus of my childhood; that things were bad and growing worse all the time, but some days mark a steeper descent. But if the terrible thing happens, it isn’t because a lot of people weren’t doing the job that was in front of them.
raven: black and white photograph of young Hillary Clinton (politics - look who we can grow up to be)
Today after work I went home to change and grab some food, and then headed out to Jesus Green to play a game of rounders with my colleagues (vs. a worthy team of local chartered surveyors), in the twenty-five degree sunlight on the grass, and when I was up to bat I got one rounder and when I was fielding I caught one batsman out (and it turns out playing rounders when you're not at school in PE kit not only an enjoyable experience but positively fun). And afterwards we drifted across Midsummer Common to the Fort St George and drank wine on expenses by the river Cam. The pub has no road access, which is deliciously peaceful, and means you wander across the common in the sunshine to get home.

And, sometimes I miss the US. Swedish Fish! Half and half! I have to walk all the way to the postbox to return my Netflix discs, oh my god my life. And then sometimes I really, really don't. Such a blissful evening. What a wonderful place to live.

In other news, the Supreme Court has not done a stupid thing today; I've read the abbreviated judgement and, as usual, am less than impressed by the reasoning. Which isn't quite accurate - the reasoning is fine, but it seems as though my fundamental ambivalence regarding a constitutional court persists, which means its tortured readings and re-readings, its invocations of the Framers and what they wanted, etc, just don't impress me. I find it hard to internally understand codified constitutions and sovereignty outside the legislature. (On another note, my supervisor and I have been quiet recently and I've spent the last couple of days drinking coffee and reading Fifoot's Law of Contract. After reading a gentle few chapters on mediaeval assumpsit, civil-law considerations and the economic effects on the law of contracts as a result of globalisation before I even got to phenomenal of agreement, offers, acceptance, invitation to treat, all the basic stuff, I decided again that the British way of teaching law is so much more gentle and thoughtful than the American one. It's less ritualised, less pivoted on oral confrontation, and more in the style of the trainee, the apprentice, clerk, whatever, being articled into a noble tradition with care. And I have all the issues with English law and liberal legal systems in general that any person who's familiar with radical political thought would have - it's inherently racist and very inherently sexist, it constitutes itself as rational and neutral when it's as fallible as the rest of us, blah blah you've heard it. It's just I also believe you can't critique the law before you know the law. And here in England and Wales it's a kinder, sweeter way of knowing what you are when you're a lawyer.)

All of which is obiter anyway, because who cares how they got there when they got there. I suspect it will be a long, long time before the US federal government is responsible for healthcare reform that brings the American healthcare system out of a system of total barbarism, but this is a first step.

In other other news I have been feeling very sad recently, but the evening in the sunlight has revived me somewhat; I have only a couple of months left in my current job; in a week I am going to Germany; I have just finished watching Quatermass and the Pit, which I enjoyed much too much for something made in 1958 (not only is it creepy as all-get-out, it also seems to employ a far more liberal hand in its politics than many things fifty years younger); and we crossed the solstice, so eighteen hours of daylight is now getting shorter each day rather than longer, but that's all right.

And we go on. I am much, much too drunk for someone who has to go to work tomorrow before it's the weekend. Tonight the Caped Crusader told me, over his Peroni over our very wobbly table, "When you caught that guy out, I turned to [another trainee] and said, 'I told you she was Indian!' And now I feel bad. Was that bad?"

I told him, fondly and drunkenly, that it was terribly bad of him, but somehow I can never think badly of him when everything he says to me is laced with the most uncomplicatedly joyful affection. I went home feeling like the sunshine was inside me.
raven: (politics - this shit)
As predicted, despite the last-minute dashing about, no polling card came for me. I am still kicking myself hard for having been stupid enough to disenfranchise myself; so, you know, could we hold off a little on if-you-didn't-vote-you-should-be-ashamed and you-lost-every-right-to-complain-for-the-next-ever, because it's not that I don't agree with you, but I'm there in that place already, okay? I tried.

In other news, I have one exam down. As usual, I couldn't sleep till four am the night before and went for it with the barrelling force of will that sleeplessness entails, and you know, it wasn't the worst thing. It was a surprisingly humane exam - in form, rather than substance, with a hour's reading time, no writing permitted, to begin with, which is a genius idea because it forces you to think about what you're doing. Eight questions, most of them okayish, I missed the point of one of them entirely and there was another one I think didn't have a point.

(Seriously. It was the first question on the paper and I was finding it baffling, so I left it till the end and came back to it with about eleven minutes to spare. For the first eight of those I wrote a paragraph about nothing in particular, and with three minutes to spare I had a genius idea and wrote "Overbreadth!" Just like that! With the exclamation mark! And didn't deign to explain how or why or in relation to what the statute was overbroad, but you can't have everything in life. Baby E later confessed to having done almost the exact same thing, which was cheering.

Also, the one where I missed the point was interesting to none but other people who care about constitutional law and the Establishment Clause, so I'm cutting it )

I could write here about how everything is making me cranky - I didn't get to vote! iTunes is refusing to let me listen to music I paid for, why didn't I just torrent it! USPS want to charge me $175 to ship my books home! migraine migraine MIGRAINE! - but maybe I just won't. The music I am trying and failing to listen to is "Sigh No More", the Mumford & Sons album, and I really, really like it. It's fabulous, affirming stuff - seriously, you can sing along and feel very definitive about everything - that sounds sort of like a cross between Dar Williams and the Gaslight Anthem. Like the Gaslight Anthem got on stage, anyway, with a trumpet and some string instruments, and tried to pretend they were an English folk band.

To alleviate the cranky, I have been reading aaaaaaall the Vorkosigan fic, as you've all probably guessed, so I will leave you with some recs so this isn't just a post about how I have a headache and my life is so unfair.

Aral Vorkosigan's Dog by [archiveofourown.org profile] philomytha
I mentioned this the other day, when I was still reading it, so this is the rec. I really, really enjoyed this. It's novel-length, about Illyan and Aral during the Escobaran war, and like I said the other day, it's sort of like a love story, only with a different kind of love at the centre of it: it's about how Illyan the neutral, human-computer observer finally takes a side, and why. It's about loyalty, and fidelity, and a kind of ownership. There's this scene in it, which I completely adore, where Illyan, exhausted, falls asleep on a chair and during the course of the night slips off it - and on waking, berates himself for literally sleeping on the floor by Aral Vorkosigan's feet. It's both hilarious and very poignant.

A Deeper Season / What Passing Bells by [archiveofourown.org profile] lightgetsin and [archiveofourown.org profile] sahiya.
Is there anyone left who hasn't read these by now? Regardless, they're great: both novel length, with many side-pieces and sequels. Miles/Gregor, going AU from Memory, and while they do wipe Laisa from existence they don't, to my delight, wipe out Ekaterin - she's there and her usual amazing self. My favourite of all the bits and bobs is A Place To Stand, a lovely, fascinating short story. (The funny thing is, these are all so good that I love them to pieces despite the fact I don't buy the major premise: Miles and Gregor are adorable, and no they're not that related, but I have trouble getting behind the pairing when the two of them are foster-brothers; effectively, they have the same parents. I mention this only in case someone else has the same hang-up and isn't reading for that reason.)

Warrant For A Day's Leave by [archiveofourown.org profile] jetta_e_rus.
Aral/Simon set shortly after the latter gets out of prison. Ridiculously sweet and heartwarming and in no way ignores Cordelia. I really liked it.

The Earring by [archiveofourown.org profile] philomytha
I read this and immediately recced it to [personal profile] gavagai, because omgyes. The author's summary is "Aral and Cordelia on a state visit to Beta Colony", which is true as far as it goes, but. Yes. Much love.

Oh, and while I'm here, I got three stories from Remix! Home (the don't look back remix), a remix of my story Pomegranate, which is about Uhura, and Amanda, and tells me things I didn't know about them.It's short and lovely.

And from Remix Madness: The Gardener (the Singing TARDIS Overdub), a remix of Sweetpeas, and I love this SO MUCH, it's about Rory and it's about the TARDIS, oh, so much love; and Be My Love (the first and last time remix), a remix of will you stay with me, will you be my love, and it's Doctor/River and again with the LOVE. I suspect these two are written by the same person. Time will tell.

Right. I need to go back to work sometime ever.
raven: stylised blue sailing ship and text: "Admiral Fail of the Fail Armada" (misc - FAIL)
So, it looks like I won't be voting in the referendum on May 5th.

here's why )

I have a degree in political science. Clearly this is no bar to idiocy-based failure to participate. I am very, very annoyed with myself right now.
raven: text: "There's a full and very reasonable explanation that mostly does not involve me being drunk" (sbp - me being drunk)
Credit where credit's due - to these people!

Also, come on, don't look at me like that, at least it's not Clegg/Cameron RPF. Although I keep watching this and trying very hard not to chew my fingers.

ficlet:: a historic and seismic shift
by Raven
PG, gen, HP/RPF. David Cameron's first night in office.

the sun's gone down and not on Portillo )

the end

May. 11th, 2010 08:45 pm
raven: (misc - liberal)
I had a very long day today on very little sleep, and I got in about half five and thought, hey, I'll have a nap.


...hi, it's back to ALL POLITICS ALL THE TIME round here. Okay. There will be no political insight in this post. I used it up this afternoon in employment law classes where the whole room was sneakily passing around an iPhone with the Guardian live blog open on it.

Here is the best thing ever, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] foreverdirt:

Oh, BBC, I love you SO MUCH, you make fanvids and then put them on the Politics Show. Oh, just.

(Other things, quickly:

If you're here in Oxford (or even if you're not!) and still grieving for the loss of Evan Harris: [livejournal.com profile] wldeh. We Love Dr. Evan Harris, yes we bloody well do.

Also, Laura notes this.)

And that's a wrap, I guess. Brown's resignation speech was touchingly subdued; Cameron has gone to Buckingham Palace to see the Queen.

Labour have been in power for thirteen years - from when I was ten, to when I was twenty-three, and although I actively disapproved of so many things that they've done, this is the end of something that began in 1997 with me being woken up and picked up and swung around the room in the bright lights in the early hours, because things were going to be better for all of us. And they were.

Someone on Radio 4 said: "These things are the milestones in your life. The political is personal."

Yes. Yes, that.
raven: quadrangle of Christ Church, Oxford, under snow (stock - oxford)
locally )

nationally )

Argh. Why did I even get up.
raven: young Amy sitting across the table from the Doctor (doctor who - small amy)
I am a little terrified that people are being turned away from polling stations. However, I'm not convinced that the returning officers had a right to extend the hours of polling. The only reference I have found so far is this:

[From The Representation of the People Act 1983, Sch 1, Part I Provisions as to Time:]

Polling. In the case of a general election, between the hours of 7 in the morning and 10 at night on the [eleventh] day after the last day for delivery of nomination papers.

That's it. No discretionary power of the returning officer to extend it. Polling is between 7am and 10pm.

That said, my research is a little wine-soaked. Can anyone cite me different chapter and verse?

I did a good thing, though. My flatmate, who hasn't ever voted before and didn't know that you don't need the polling card, said, "I haven't voted, I thought I couldn't."

It was 9.50pm.

I said I would come with her. We ran. We ran inside, we grabbed keys, grabbed bikes, grabbed lights, cycled down the Cowley Road at approximately a million miles an hour, dodged buses, taxis, pedestrians and Tesco lorries, and we flew into the polling station.

By which point it was 9.57pm. The returning officers were calm as my flatmate skidded in. Three more people drifted in while I was waiting, and they were closing up on a deserted room at ten as we left. It was eerie; the whole night is eerie, nothing but electoral shadows.

Someone on Radio 4 just said: "I was wrong, David Cameron hasn't gone to his count, he's gone to the pub."
raven: (misc - liberal)
Hey, you guys, I voted! I love voting: I mean, I love teeny-tiny polling stations staffed by genteel old ladies, I love how you walk in and everyone is so pleased to see you, I love how in every general election in my memory it's a cherry-blossom May, and full of promise. It's an illusion, maybe, but it's one I'm happy to buy into, for one day at least.

Politically speaking, I was doing fine until I read this: Welcome to Cameron Land - Johann Hari visits Hammersmith and Fulham, the council area which Cameron claims is the model in miniature for his potential government. It's depressing. (hat-tip: [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong, [livejournal.com profile] foreverdirt.)

Still, we can but wait and see. I plan to stay up as long as I can.

edited to add this article on the BBC about what you can and can't do in a polling station is delightfully cheering. My favourite part:

"We wouldn't want people coming in with overt political clothing," says Mr Tonkin [Westminster's head of admin services]. However it is all about context. "There's a candidate standing in Westminster as a pirate. And if he comes in to vote in a pirate costume as is likely, we won't turn him away. The same goes for any supporters coming to vote as pirates."

in other, better news )
raven: Kira wearing a green tunic against a blue background (ds9 - kira in green)
Things that are making me happy today:

1. Sunshine. Oh, sunshine and spring! Is it only me who forgets it comes every year? Over the weekend, [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong wandered through parks and by the river and under lush clouds of cherry-blossom. It was such a long winter; everything is so bright.

2. The Indelicates' new album, "Songs For Swinging Lovers". After a few days of not really listening to it, I gave it the fair shot this afternoon and have spent a little while dancing around my room. I particularly like "Ill" and "Jerusalem", and this is where I would upload them as tasters, but! But, I don't have to! You can download the album legally here! Get thee downloaded and dance.

3. Related to the above - the dancing around the room, that is - I have written 1200 words of my remix, and I know what the rest will be about! Ditto [livejournal.com profile] lgbtfest - I'm really looking forward to it, and my wee story is nearly finished, hurrah.

4. [livejournal.com profile] shimgray returns tonight, with gin-shaped boozes for me. I missed him but mostly I like boozes.

5. Deep Space Nine! I finished watching it last night, and oh, oh, I have some thinky thoughts and a lot of flail and oh, Odo, and Kira, and Jake, I love them all so much. Why do I lose my heart to Star Trek, why. (There is a long and teeeedious post detailing my love in the works, I am so sorry.) [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong and I spent much of the weekend shouting "Gul Dukat and Kai Winn ewwwww!" at each other. (Ewwww!)

We also spent a lot of time declaring everything in the world to be Nick Clegg's fault - Laura's lack of feather boa, my surfeit of employment law, the failure of my glow-in-the-dark nail varnish to glow in the dark, etc., which brings us to:

6. ...I have been invited, unexpectedly, to a question and answer session with Nick Clegg on Wednesday. I am going to go, but I have no idea what I want to ask him. Hmmm.
raven: subway sign in black and white, text: "Times Square / 42 Street station" (stock - times square)
The Chancellor announced the Budget, yesterday; coincidentally, [livejournal.com profile] hathy_col and I found ourselves in a pub in the early evening and reached the not-unreasonable conclusion that really, we ought to take the opportunity to drink cider at the day's prices.

Which wouldn't have been so bad, had we not also got through most of two bottles of wine. Today mostly I have been having, inexplicably, the worst hangover of my life - I don't mean that it's inexplicable that I drank a lot of wine and cider and now I have a hangover, I mean I have behaved much worse in the past and not suffered with quite such inside-of-head toxicity - and am emerging into the cold blue daylight feeling rather delicate. It was worth it, though. We meant to watch Deep Space Nine and instead just sat up talking about life and work and dating Scottish boys and how much we love Kate Mulgrew. And watched this, courtesy of [livejournal.com profile] tau_sigma and giggled a lot.

Amidst my delicacy, I am trying to sign up for Remix. and it's very difficult! Why do I write so much rubbish? )

Today has also been notable for a lot of interesting articles drifting by on the flist.

-Republican senators refuse to work late, citing obscure Senate procedural rule. I kind of love this. It's so transparently throwing their toys out of the pram (via [livejournal.com profile] speccygeekgrrl and [livejournal.com profile] gwynnega).

-A lack of class in the GOP. This is a really good article.

-The Tory party have done something that would be hilarious if it weren't so unhilarious.

-In better news, Constance McMillen has had the last laugh even if she doesn't get a prom.

And a quick handful of recs:

Thursday's Child by [livejournal.com profile] thistlerose
Star Trek, gen. Spock, McCoy and a baaaaaaaby. So adorable.

Force of Habit by [livejournal.com profile] taraljc.
Star Trek, gen. McCoy and his ex-wife, Jocelyn, and Joanna. Really nice, this, with good voices.

Relatives and Relativity, by [livejournal.com profile] yahtzee63.
Doctor Who/Sense and Sensibility. Such fun. I haven't got anywhere near to finishing it yet, but such a great idea for a crossover, and so far really wonderfully executed.

That's it. Bedtime, then tomorrow the Grand Adventure Up North begins.
raven: placard in red paint: "Leviticus hates your polyester blends" (politics - leviticus)
It's been an interesting morning - I may have alternative career plans! Also I got a haircut! - and now I need lunch and coffee before sitting down to an afternoon of civil litigation, but first, a word about the Stupak amendment.

In brief: the US House of Representatives passed the health care reform bill. It is called the Affordable Health Care For America Act and expands federal healthcare provision enormously - 36 million more people will be eligible for Medicaid, most employers will be required to provide healthcare coverage for their workers, and there will be a government-funded "public option". Also notably, health insurers will be prevented from refusing coverage based on medical history (no more gender-based "pre-existing conditions" such as pregnancy, rape and domestic violence) and the exemption for insurance companies from antitrust legislation will be repealed.

So far, so hoopy. The Stupak Amendment, with which this Act has been passsed, is as follows:

"No funds authorised or appropriated by this Act... may be used to pay for any abortion or to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion, except in the case where a woman suffers from a physical disorder, physical injury or physical injury which would... place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed... or unless the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest."[1]

In other words, to get this Act passed, someone had to be the sacrificial lamb and 150 million American women were it. (Also, something else I have just spotted - the obvious women are excluded, women who want abortions for what are nauseatingly called "social" reasons, because pregnancy is not the right thing for them, but also, women who have mental illnesses which pregnancy would exacerbate are excluded, too.)

I actually have no further commentary to make on the issue, and I wondered if that were just me, but actually, I think there is nothing very profound to say about it. Institutional politics, particularly in the United States, is boring and it doesn't yield to analysis. Feminist analysis of the narratives of privilege and oppression, that is interesting; so is sociological thinking about why people think the way they do such that amendments like this are seen as a good idea, but on the institutional level of why, in the specific instance, the House of Representatives has voted like this, I'm coming up with nothing. They voted like this because they're misogynists, fundamentalists, or spineless; you can lobby them, but to be effective, you either run for the House of Representatives or wait for the current incumbents to die, or both. You can't argue, you can't write about women's rights to their own bodies, you can't talk about restriction of reproductive options as a form of control of women. Well, you can, but it's a category error to think you can convince an edifice of misogyny to change their minds because that, I think, fundamentally misunderstands why they hold the opinions they do - it's not because they arrived at them through logical argument.

(Evidence in point: thirty-nine Democrats voted against the reform bill. Twenty-one of them, besides Stupak, voted for the amendment. Institutional politics defies logical analysis.)[2]

I don't know. That's it. It'll go the Senate. The haircut looks quite cute, but has that new-hair feel of belonging to someone else who's much cooler than me. I really ought to do some work.

[1] Yes, yes, this is not proper legal citation.

[2] From here. And yes, lawyers are allowed to run a defence in the alternative, but I suspect it's not the same thing.
raven: lit tealight against dark background (stock - diya)
So, I am posting after quite a lot of a bottle of wine, and a pitcher labelled "pink spritzer" which I am told had both pinot grigio and blackberry liqueur making up most of its volume. But. Some things you post about when you're drunk, too, and sometimes drunkenness is what lends you the eloquence.

The BBC reports: Anger at US mixed marriage "ban"; ThinkProgress had more. Basically, some justice of the peace in Louisiana is getting his place in the sun by talking publically about how he doesn't issue marriage licences to interracial couples, though he does like black people, and even lets them use his bathroom. I mean, he's not a racist, like. He does it for the sake of the children.

The funny thing is, it isn't actually a picnic growing up as a child of two cultures. If you're really unlucky, your mother will be Lowri Turner and she'll write in a national newspaper about how much of a racist she is and how sensitive, thoughtful and attentive she isn't going to be to your journey being a child of more than one world. White people are funny like that; they think they are the normal, and everyone else is "multicultural" and "ethnic" and strange; they think they are the only way to be. But we outnumber you, you know. Right now, we outnumber you in volume of numbers - I'm an Indian woman, one in twelve of living humans is Indian and female, and one in six is brown (and stands up straight, and is strong, intelligent and beautiful, despite not being pale like you). Right now, we outnumber you; mathematically, we are the normal, and it's only accidents of history that make you so proud of being white. (Even if we weren't, we sing, dance and tan better than you. Deal.)

And then, interracial relationships are quite close to my heart, as a topic, as a way of losing all sorts of privilege, but also as a truth it's very difficult to deny. I grew up as a brown person in a white culture; I'm whiter than lots of people who are white, establishment baby lawyer with PPE degree from Oxford, but I can look in the mirror and never be white, when the summmer comes I wear strappy tops and feel the sun beneath my skin, I'm brown, brown, brown again. (And I am strong, intelligent and beautiful too. Deal with that as well.) Right now that's strange, and odd; exploring being the child of two cultures is something we don't talk about - in America they have hyphenated identity, they don't have this odd British thing of being British but having come from somewhere else within the last generation, of having a place I came from and a place I'm going but not a place I am. And right now that is strange - but we outnumber you. I say it over and over again, but the nation-state is dying, slowly, slowly; a nation is a group of people who identify together, who are one culture, one people; and a state is a political entity of people who are governed together, and it has been another accident of history that the two have so often coincided, but it's just that, a coincidence. Why should people who are one people all live in the same place? Every people has people who wake up one morning and take long journeys in search of better things.

So Mr. Bardwell and his interracial marriages are all very nice, and think of the children: the children who will be all there is, who will all that is left after a world has understood that race is a thing and ethnicity is a thing and people and community are other things, and the world is marching on, on, towards better things. He can live in Louisiana and not issue marriage licences to interracial couples but he's an old man and he'll be dead soon, and I woke up this morning and I am still myself, still brown and strong, and my partner is white, and we are human beings, and tomorrow is the festival of light, and we celebrate it as part of a billion people, and no one can take it away from us, that endless beauty in the world.
raven: black and white; Tenth Doctor on a bed, looking up at Martha (doctor who - in bed together)
Having got me successfully through everything it had to get me through, my body has given up on walking around and now I just want to lie down and flop. Forever. With two bags of sweets within reach, and maybe also the complete works of Lois McMaster Bujold. Some assorted notes and queries:

1. Firstly, and most importantly, Professor Jerry Cohen is dead. My reaction to this has mostly been "but but but he was IMMORTAL but". While I wasn't lucky enough to be taught by him, I have read most of what he's written - and I recommend his writing to everyone, actually, not just students of political philosophy. The title of one of his best-known works is If You're An Egalitarian, How Come You're So Rich?, which says it all in just its title, doesn't it? He writes - well, he wrote - about difficult things, about orthodox Marxism, about his particular brand of egalitarianism, and makes a significant critique of Rawls' theory of justice (one which, it is worth noting, is easily used as the base for an explicitly feminist critique), but he does it incredibly well - clearly, engagingly, the sort of way I wish everyone who writes about difficult things would write.

And even though I was never taught by him, I did... er... encounter him on occasion. Wherever he is now, I'm sure he's raising orthodox Marxist hell.

2. In other news entirely, I wish to make a point about Rachel McAdams. [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong showed me the trailer for Sherlock Holmes - which, is, oh god, looks terrible, crash-bang-wallop homoeroticism I cannot wait - but, I could not help noticing, has Rachel McAdams in it playing Irene Adler. She - McAdams, I mean - is also in The Time Traveler's Wife, which, like the other, is a film that people will have heard of. (I have no idea what it will be like, probably bad, but I suspect I will have to see it anyway.)

Anyway. Yes. Rachel McAdams is in films that are released all over the world that people have heard of, and stuff. Isn't she supposed to be a minor character in that Canadian indie thing only my friends and I watch...? Yeah. I just wanted this down for the record.

3. Yes, these points aren't supposed to be related in any way. Flist, speak to me of Diana Gabaldon. I know some of you have read/are reading her - [livejournal.com profile] nos4a2no9, [livejournal.com profile] thistlerose? - and I'm interested to know what you think. After spending a week in London without a lot to do in the evenings, I have read two and a half of her Lord John books, which are, sort of, historical detective-thriller-adventure things set in the 1750s. Which do, yes, sound like the sort of thing I'd hate (they exist in the same universe as the author's "real" series, a series of historical romances with time-travel and Jacobite rebellions and whatnot, none of which I have been able to get into). But they are witty, engaging, and just likeable, and also the protagonist, Lord John Grey, is that rarest of beasts, a fictional character who is gay, perfectly happy about being gay, and who pursues adventures with gentlemen in and around solving the mystery of the moment. I'm not explaining these very well, but they're good. Very, very good, in this delightfully light and loopy way. The books are: Lord John and the Private Matter, Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, and Lord John and the Hand of Devils (short story collection; don't start with this one). Consider this a rec.

(If they were fanfiction, though, I'd warn for: this )

4. Meme! Nabbed from [livejournal.com profile] emerald_embers most recently, but from all of you.

Ask me my fannish Top Five [Whatevers]. Any top fives. Doesn't matter what, really! And I will answer them all in a new post. Possibly with pictures. Ask multiple questions. I'll do it.

That's it. [livejournal.com profile] shimgray is plotting a Wikipedia article that he has been threatening to write for some time ("Elephants in Scotland"), and I am curled in a chair and attempting not to fall asleep. It's quiet, and it's nice, and it's very good to be together again.
raven: Amelie against a green background; text: "purdue" (amelie - perdue)
Firstly: I am taking medical leave for the rest of the academic year. This is less extravagantly melodramatic than it sounds - the rest of the academic year is, after all, about a month, followed by exams and research-project submission. I could try and stick it out, I suppose, but, in the end it comes to the question of whether I should use my limited energy to be a functional depressed person who, you know, eats, and washes her clothes, and whatnot, or use it for... um... law school. Given that I still have about 5000 words to research and write on special measures directions, plus the end of the equity and public law syllabuses, and revision for the last three exams, Not Dealing is my preferred strategy right now.

(edited to add: okaaaay, there is a case at the Old Bailey today that is going to necessitate re-writes of my baby-dissertation. Why do I insist on being interested in current affairs?

Note: it is a very horrible case, about abuse of a child. Don't click, if you'd rather not.)

So through some bureaucratic jiggery-pokery, I am going to be a sort-of law student at Liverpool for a bit, and I was very impressed by the efficiency and kindness with which Brookes have achieved this. [livejournal.com profile] forthwritten has already promised me company and good things, and my parents were remarkably unfazed by this whole revelation. (My father noted that when he was my age, he had a similar revelation whilst reading for his MD exams. "Of course, in my case I was only six miles from home and I came on the Vespa. But it's the same principle without the Vespa.")

I'm pleased, or at least, as pleased as you can be about these things. I'll miss [livejournal.com profile] shimgray, but other than that, I think, this is a good plan for the time being.

In other news. Justice Souter is stepping down from the Supreme Court... two days after the Democrats have a filibuster-proof majority. Souter has generally tended to baffle me, but he seems to be a liberal now, sort of. The make-up of the court may not change all that much, but I'm actually hopeful about the potential nominees for once. One hundred days, and the novelty hasn't worn off. I hope it doesn't.

Amd so this post is not all a) law and b) my broken brain, I say my obligatory Dreamwidth bit. [livejournal.com profile] foreverdirt bought me paid time over there! I am still not sure what I am going to do with the account, but we shall see. My username, by the way, has changed (due to aforementioned crazy, please don't ask) - I'm now raven, and if you should wish to give me a poke over there, please please do.


Apr. 14th, 2009 04:43 pm
raven: (misc - pride)
So, my day was going pretty badly, and then there were death threats!

Remember the Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women? The Pink Chaddi Campaign was a wonderful, wry, smart and pointed form of protest - because, let's face it, Hindutva activists are usually quite stupid, and witty humiliation as an argumentative technique is the best way to deal with them other than hitting them with iron bars and setting them on fire.

The Facebook group of the Consortium - I'm not linking to it, for reasons that will be clear in a moment - has been hacked and renamed "the only good bong is a dead one".

I hate everybody. And the Indian men of the world can go fuck themselves, with ginger.

edited to add: the Hindu discusses it.


Mar. 30th, 2009 02:57 pm
raven: (misc - liberal)
It's really nice to be home. I didn't have the quietest of weekends, really; I was at Amicus training again on Saturday, and that was kind of sort of exhausting. Practical, not theory, so lots of running around with my hands in my pockets trying to make myself as good an investigator as possible, i.e., not very good. The funny thing is, I find, is that the other side of the law - the private sector side, the type of law done by the large impressive firms with the large impressive training contracts - is so... sleek, so glossy, so very talkative. You have to get in the habit of talking and dressing sharply. It's wearing. Whereas, for this sort of thing, you dress, talk and think forgettable. Clean jeans and brushed hair, a notepad any colour but yellow, and you sit and you listen. Your client is on trial for his life, but... well, right now he's not going anywhere. I really enjoyed the change. That said, I don't know if I could really do this work: do it for real with real people and be all things to them, a good lawyer, but a good listener and someone who can get people to tell me, not the right things, but the real things.

That bothers me about law as I see it, here - it's all telling you what you want to hear. I tell interviewers what they want to hear, they tell me what they think I should hear, and none of it bears any resemblance to reality. That might be a problem endemic in the law itself - it's interesting, of course, that the Law, this great amorphous thing I spend every waking hour on these days, isn't a thing about how things are, but it's something that people do. We've written about it so much that we've made it exist. And there's no doubt that electric chairs do exist. That's a real sense you get, actually: that the judicial system induces this twilight state, so people taken away to spend forty years in prison are still thinking, where am I, what's going on, there's been some mistake, this isn't real.

The saddest part was the bit on Atkins v Virginia, a 2002 case where the Supreme Court established that it is unconstitutional to execute someone with "mental retardation", undefined. I find it horrifying that this is actually a point at issue, but there you are. Lots of people have been executed who have had the mental age of nine-year-olds. And it's still perfectly possible to execute someone with the mental age of an eleven-year-old, or a nine-year-old on a good day. It puts investigators in the awful position of going to see the person's community, their their teachers and their elderly mother, and ask things like, was he a bit slow? Was he incapable of washing himself, and will you talk about it on a stand in front of hundreds of strangers?

Yeah. It's not good for your view on humanity, this sort of thing. On Saturday night I went out gloomily and was cheered by a nice dinner in Soho with [livejournal.com profile] sebastienne and [livejournal.com profile] jacinthsong and [livejournal.com profile] deathbyshinies and [livejournal.com profile] liminreid, which was cheering but, as I said, I couldn't go dancing afterwards because the Sunday the clocks go forward was the one Sunday in the year I had to be up at seven am. And go to another day of lectures and workshops and try interviewing people myself, which I have to say I did spectacularly not well at all, and then run across the city to get a train up north, which was eerily quiet, and lacking in announcements and indeed people, and didn't stop, and gave me this muted feeling that I might be on the Caldonian Sleeper or the first train into the Twilight Zone.

That said, I did wake up at seven this morning, have a momentary panic as to where I was, realise that a) it was my own bed and b) the alarm clock belonged to someone else, and roll over and go back to sleep. I shall have to be careful. I am NOT ON HOLIDAY. This cannot be emphasised enough. Not on holiday. Yes.

...and here I am, feeling a little like an unspoken sentence. Notes and queries:

-[livejournal.com profile] deathbyshinies has started a Secret Histories Project. As she puts it, it is a blog devoted to "little random tidbits of historical fact that make you sit up and go 'BLOODY HELL, WHY DID NOBODY EVER TELL ME ABOUT THAT!'" (Examples already mentioned: Alan Turing's homosexuality; the fact there were South Asian people living in Britain before 1700 (I was never told this at school); Helen Keller's socialist and feminist activism.) Definitely worth looking at.

-A brief unrelated rant, also. Why is there a sudden resurgence, recently, of the "it's only natural" argument? I keep seeing this: polamory is natural, wanting to have children is natural. I really thought that the blogosphere had finally got over this one, but apparently not. Okay, internets. Saying something is "natural" is an argumentative faux-pas of the worst order. Because, to begin with, you're implying that polyamory or childbearing or whatever are worthy of respect only because they are some inalienable feature about how people are. You're devaluaing people's choices pertaining to either of those things. Sure, childbearing is natural. So is living in trees, so is killing people who don't agree with you. Natural does not equate to good, and for good reason. People choose to have kids - it's the choice that's worthy of preservation and respect, not the entirely fallacious biological imperative behind the choice.

And as for polyamory being "natural" - maybe it is natural for people to want multiple relationships, I don't know, and maybe monogamy is a stifling yoke upon the natural impetus of society blah blah whatever (I remain to be convinced of that last one, I must say). But it's worthy of respect, surely, whatever its provenance? It's worthy of respect if it's the way people have always lived or if it was invented out of whole cloth by L. Ron Hubbard in 1971. I'm just boggled that people still think this is a smart tack to take. I suppose it's the gay-gene for the twenty-first century. My god it's hard to be a liberal.

Okay, I'm going to stop yelling now. To finish: the clocks went forward and I was very upset. There is now more light in the evenings, and I am less upset. Thus, I leave you with the Spring Arrangements Bill. [livejournal.com profile] shimgray can recite it on command. This fills me with joy.
raven: (misc - pride)
A dear friend of mine is currently fighting a legal battle with Oxfordshire's primary healthcare trust, because they are denying her absolutely vital surgery she requires for her continued health. To explain slightly better: gender reassignment surgery is denied to the people of Oxfordshire unless they are in "extreme need" - that is, their gender dysphoria is causing them to be suicidally depressed.

The specialist clinic for the south of England is at Charing Cross Hospital, which will refuse to operate on people who are suicidally depressed for health reasons. In other words, Oxfordshire PCT's short-sighed, bigoted, profoundly illogical and transphobic policy denies treatment to gender dysphoric people for no reason.

Therefore, my friend has started a petition on the Number 10 website. Please, please, if you live in the UK, please sign this. It would make a difference to a hideously unfair situation.

More information is here, and thanks to [livejournal.com profile] sebastienne for summarising it so well.
raven: Karen Gillan as Amy Pond, wearing green and red and looking up (Default)
whine, whine )

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