I was going to write about Fat Acceptance again tonight, but by crikey I saw something so flabbergasting this evening it makes writing about anything else impossible.
The thing in question was a truly terrifying Channel 4 entitled 15 Kids and Counting. I didn’t mean to watch it, alright. It just happened to come on when I was in the living room and I couldn’t look away. Because it was like the House of Usher but much, much dumber.
Now, I’m not going to lie: my rage cells were activated just by the fact that someone out there with access to contraception was happily squirting such an obscene quantity of clueless squealing bratoids into our overburdened, crisis-riddled planet. I mean, for fuck sake, the Carbon Footprint alone generated by that many new and utterly unnecessary human beings is fairly terrifying.
However, the thing that tipped me from “mildly annoyed” to “full metal livid” was just how psychologically and emotionally ill-equipped the parents who kept having all these sprogs were to actually raise the little shits. We’ll not discuss the father in too much detail because he’d lose a battle of wits to a tree stump and is therefore impossible to insult. I mean, I’m pretty good, but I don’t have any idea how to set about berating inanimate objects. The mother though. Fuck. Where do I begin? Not content to inflict a punnet of unrequited carbon-structures with teeth on the world, she also seemed set on moulding them into an army of vapid, dead-eyed monsters. Every last one of them was systematically taught to value empty appearance over anything else through a constant regimen of beauty contests, appearance-tweaking and overpriced makeup. And hair-straighteners. Hair straighteners; hair straighteners; hair straighteners. Not just a couple of pairs, but an endless armada of them.
The result is a cavalcade of bickering, tittering ninnies with more money than sense, all engaging in a constant war of attrition for the affection of a mother who, in one gob-smacking VT segment, described them as dolls… not in a term-of-endearment way, but as to explain how she liked ‘playing with them’ and organising their lives as little children do with dolls. This is not a healthy attitude for a parent to have. That is the control-freak ramblings of a borderline psychotic.
I said it was like the The Fall of the House of Usher, and I wasn’t bloody joking: it’s a houseload of fucked up family weirdos locked into a perpetual state of decay. The only difference is that The House of Usher suffered an ethical decay, their character collapsing and failing as their world fell apart around them, while our TV family of too-fucking-many appear to be in a state of intellectual decay, getting stupider and less well-equipped to function as a family with each new edition.
Terrifying. I recommend watching it as a contraception aid. Not only will you never want to have kids, you’ll want to kills some that already exist.
I was playing Assassin’s Creed II the other day and I noticed something odd. There’s an early mission in the game designed to teach you the fist-fighting mechanics where you have to go beat the living daylights out of the lead-character’s sister’s cheating boyfriend. I felt rather bad about this at the time- having just met the lead character’s sister in a cutscene, merely cheating seems quite restrained: If I’d found myself in a relationship with her I’d have left the country, changed my name and identity and possibly removed my own sexual organs just to make sure there could never be any repeat of the Horrible Mistake. But I digress. The point is that the woman Mr. Cheating Boyfriend was having his end away with, as it turns out, was rather a plus-size lassie.
Now, I have no idea if this was scripted or if the game simply inserted a randomly-generated NPC into the non-rendered cutscene, but I suspect the former (since the latter would actually be more work in terms of programming rather than less). And this is interesting. Videogames rarely bother to acknowledge the existence of fat people- fat women in particular- let alone realise that a) they have sexualities and b) that other people might find them attractive. In a bizarre way, this is progress.
I suppose part of the reason it was in there has to do with historical accuracy. The Assassin’s Creed series tries to mix as much real-world history into its fictional narrative as possible (to the extent that sometimes, despite having studied history at Uni, I have to check whether a given character was a real person who they’ve co-opted for the story or someone they just made up for the sheer fuckery of it), and that whole curvalicious aesthetic was a lot more popular back in the Renaissance (when the game was set).
Nonetheless, it speaks volumes about the way media in general and games in particular ignore the existence of some groups of people- in this case fat folk- that I can hold up a cutscene lasting less two minutes as a sign of progress. This level of minor-background-character representation is so tiny and incidental that it really ought to be a given, not something I point out in order to praise a Game Developer for doing it. Of course, I am praising them- even a small step in the right direction is a step- but we really should be well past this stage by now.
Anyway, that’s all the sterling insight I’ve got to offer on the subject. Next entry I’ll try and write something funny, so look forward to that.
Fat Acceptance is slowly breaking through into the mainstream. Very freakin’ slowly. And obviously, it’s emergence into the collective consciousness and general Zeitgeist is a good thing. Every so often, you’ll see articles on it explicitly, and sometimes you’ll see celebrities (from a range that encompasses both the legitimately talented and the completely banal, just so there’s something for everyone) talking about not wanting to have to constantly diet for their work to be taken seriously or the lack of respect accorded to plus-size folk. Great. Hooray for that progress.
However, there is something that concerns me- and I’m not the first person to have commented on this- about Fat Acceptance’s move onto more mainstream platforms, and that’s the dilution of the message.
You see, ‘hard’ Fat Acceptance- the actual political discussions of it you see in the grass-roots community- primarily have to do with the way discrimination operates against Fat People in society as a whole. It’s about lack of representation; it’s about the language that surrounds fat in popular culture and in media and that way its calculated to dehumanise fat people; it’s about complex issues like the widespread failure of the medical profession to treat fat people’s illnesses properly because its cheaper and easier to assume that every problem they have is caused by their weight; it’s about the aggression and personal attacks faced by fat folk on a daily basis and it’s about all the changes that need to be implemented to start fixing these problems. However, the same is not true of the form of the FA Movement that’s started to pierce into the mainstream.
This more mainstream ‘Fat Acceptance Lite’ is more about personal empowerment. Which is great- but not terribly helpful in a vacuum. Sure, people can say “I’m fat and that’s okay!” and the celebs in magazines can swear off dieting and what-have-you… and that’s all fantastic. No, really, it is. The problem is that reality, as it’s lived by most fat people, is far too hostile for personal empowerment alone to fix the problems they face. Being empowered won’t stop every other fuckwit in their lives telling them they should be on a diet; it won’t magically mean the media starts representing them properly; it won’t prevent medical bias and misdiagnosis or stop wanky airlines from trying to charge them for the little extra space they might take up on a flight (no, really: that’s a thing that happens). It won’t fix the thousands of tiny humiliations fat people have to endure on a day-to-day basis.
Being empowered is great: it’s the first step to achieving social change, because it means you know you’re in the right and can fight back against discrimination and bias. However, it is only a first step, and the publicly acceptable face of Fat Acceptance rarely goes beyond that first step. And that’s a problem, because it puts the weight of progress exclusively on the attitudes of fat people- it makes it about them adapting to a hostile world rather than about a concerted effort to make the world less hostile for everyone.
It’s a step in the right direction, but all of us involved in Fat Acceptance have a duty to remember that that’s all it is and to keep pushing for more.
So, I’m aware that I need to get back to writing Fat Acceptance-based entries, since I haven’t in a while. However, I also don’t have time to write up a proper entry of any description tonight, so you’ll have to wait until tomorrow.
Sorry about that. The important thing is that, like Winter, Actual Entries are coming. Speaking of which, I wish winter would bloody come. Summer’s full of sweaty heat and I can’t be having it.
In other news, I walked with wolves today. That’s not a clever way of saying something else, or a metaphor or something- I actually went out and walked with real, proper wolves. And also got licked by real, proper, ridiculously friendly wolves. I was the relative and therefore designated Plus One of someone who really likes wolves on their day out. It was awesome. Wolves are both majestic and very silly creatures. They spend half the time staring seriously into the distance, brooding like the cool, collected, sleek machines evolution has made them. They spend the other half pawing at you, jumping up and down excitedly and trying to lick you in the ear.
Majestic. But silly.
The other day, I was listening to a fascinating financial report- and yes, I am using the word ‘fascinating’ unironically.
Basically, at the moment, the UK is supposedly recovering from one of the worst global recessions in decades… except that it absolutely bloody isn’t. The recovery only exists on paper: the public- particularly the poor (that’s me and mine)- aren’t feeling any benefit from it. Their wages aren’t being properly increased with inflation, there are still no proper jobs (I know I got one, but I’m a) a statistical outlier and b) a jammy bastard) and everything costs more that it should. But you already knew that. According to the report, the Recovery That Isn’t There is bad for another reason: making the economy improve on paper (and nowhere else) has resulted in an increase to our national debt so massive that the only way we’d ever be able to pay them is if everyone in Britain started working as high-class prostitutes servicing Dubai’s least attractive billionaires. But don’t panic just yet! Panic after you’ve read the next sentence, instead, because things get way worse. The only thing keeping the debt at a level where it’s possible to even barely manage it is the fact that interest rates have been kept artificially low for the past few years, and that’s not something you can indefinitely: when it goes back to normal level, the amount of interest per year on the nations debt will go up £80 billion. For those of you who don’t understand the import of that (which I imagine is most of you, because the world of finance is so crushingly tedious it wouldn’t become interesting even if Brian Cox explained it while naked and fondling a balloon), that’s an amount so massive that it accounts for the majority of the wealth generated by the whole nation each year. An amount so massive that there are two ways to deal with it. The State can either declare a Debt Amnesty- effectively wiping out the debt and declaring a clean state. Or they can start stripping their own citizens’ assets to pay for their fuck-ups. Of the two options, the first one is clearly the more sensible. Not ideal, since it means the country will have a harder time securing finances in the future, but certainly massively better than systematically skimming from pension funds, savings accounts and the welfare state just to service the interest on a debt without ever even getting a chance to pay back the principle. If it does that- and it will, because the other option would require a modicum of backbone, which is in short supply amongst the political classes- then the Austerity Measures will a) ruin the lives of most people living in the country and b) cripple the nation’s productivity, thus driving it further into debt and perpetuating its poverty. Remember what happened to Greece? Well, that basically.
Of course, there is a third option, which no-one has considered. I’d like to offer it to the Internet free of charge, on the off-chance that anyone with any political or economic clout is reading this (which, admittedly, I doubt). Here’s the crucial theoretical precept: the base interest represents inflation, right? So far its been set artificially low, which has kept the interest on the national debt below crisis levels. When it rises, we’re fucked (see previous paragraphs). Except that there’s no reason why the nation’s creditors have to charge interest at the base rate or above. You might say “but they need to keep up with inflation or they’ll be making a real-terms loss”. Except that they don’t and they won’t. Inflation, people forget, doesn’t scale well. If you whack up inflation by, say, 5%, then all of a sudden you find yourself having to pay, say 20p more for something as simple and essential as a loaf of bread. You might need to drive and see the costs of car ownership spiral by a couple of hundred pounds per anum. But that’s because these are physical costs, at least theoretically related to the country’s productivity output and trading position, which is what inflation is (again theoretically) representative of. The same is not true of complex financial packages and debt collection schemes- they’re abstract and can therefore be assigned any agreed-upon value by the parties involved. A billion pound financial product isn’t suddenly going to become less astronomically cash-spinning just because fucking bread rises by 20p. Any amount of interest, regardless of how far below the base rate it is, essentially amounts to a real-term profit. Think of it as the flipside of the Economies of Scale.
So, with that in mind, here’s what I suggest my idiot, snivelling, swithering adminstrators of State do: get round a table with our nation’s creditors and offer them an ultimatum: you can accept a lower interest rate on the debt, with a cap of a maximum amount that the creditor can earn on interest and thereby get the principle of the debt back with an acceptable-but-not-obscene profit margin… or you can face a Debt Amnesty and not see penny one. It’s a simple question of applying the right threat at the right moment to the right knobby fiscal dicksplash.
But that won’t happen. So we’re still financially doomed. Here end the economics lecture. Bone up: they’ll be a quiz.
HOW TO SURVIVE A HEART ATTACK WHEN ALONE
Let’s say it’s 6.15pm and you’re going home (alone of course), after an unusually hard day on the job. You’re really tired, upset and frustrated. Suddenly you start experiencing severe pain in your chest that starts to drag out into your arm and up into your jaw. You are only about five miles from the hospital nearest your home. Unfortunately you don’t know if you’ll be able to make it that far. You have been trained in CPR, but the guy that taught the course did not tell you how to perform it on yourself..!!
NOW HOW TO SURVIVE A HEART ATTACK WHEN ALONE…
Since many people are alone when they suffer a heart attack, without help, the person whose heart is beating improperly and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness.
However, these victims can help themselves by coughing repeatedly and very vigorously.
A deep breath should be taken before each cough, and the cough must be deep and prolonged, as when producing sputum from deep inside the chest.
A breath and a cough must be repeated about every two seconds without let-up until help arrives, or until the heart is felt to be beating normally again.
Deep breaths get oxygen into the lungs and coughing movements squeeze the heart and keep the blood circulating.
The squeezing pressure on the heart also helps it regain normal rhythm. In this way, heart attack victims can perhaps buy precious time to get themselves to a phone and dial 911.
Rather than sharing another joke please contribute by broadcasting this which can save a person’s life!
Be prepared and become part of the solution. Get your free next-of-kin notification card today. Click here: https://www.InCaseOfEmergencyCard.com/
major signal boost
Reblogging cause this could save someone’s life
This could save many lives, reblog
Actually, I’m pretty sure this advice is someone trollin’ in one of the most psychotic ways imaginable. I remember reading awhile ago that coughing during a heart attack, far from fixing the problem, may actually make it worse and doesn’t alleviate the problem. Of course, I can’t vouch for the accuracy or provenance of that information, any more than you folks can vouch for this, so feel free to double-check using reliable medical sites and what-have-you. I’m not saying “this definitely doesn’t work”, I’m just reminding you all to be cautious of this kind of advice and not take it at face value without proper checks.
It’s amazing how quickly one acclimatises to new situations. Barely two weeks ago, when I started wondering into the Post Office on a regular basis to train for the new job, the whole affair struck me as infinitely exotic and strangely intimidating. I endeavoured to impress my new colleagues and did all I could to imprint myself on the position. Fast-forward to now and the novelty’s worn off and I’m bringing my trademark blend of downbeat existential ennui and shambling incompetence to the role… though weirdly, nobody seems to have noticed. Someone today actually took time out to thank me for making myself useful around the office, which was nice.
However, in retrospect, it also serves as a perfect of example of how I’m already far too comfortable in that environment for my own good. The correct response when a colleague whose senior to you in the organisation gives you a compliment is to say “no problem- happy to help”. What I did was to self-deprecate automatically, pointing out that I’d actually spent most of my day sat on my arse doing the multiple-choice tests the Post Office sets for new candidates. I only realised several minutes after I’d said it (and in almost precisely those words) that my aura of stoic negativity probably wasn’t workplace appropriate. I’d forgotten that this was an employment-type environment and therefore actually saying whatever happened to be in my head (regardless of tone or content) was inadvisable at best. I still had enough residual self-censorship juice clinging to my brain not to add “speaking of arses, we really need to get proper air conditioning or you are all going to drown in the sweat that’s currently pouring through my butt-crack like a stale, mighty river”, but that was about my only concession to acting like a normal human being. I give it two weeks before even that filter has been eroded to nothing by familiarity and I start coming out with increasingly bizarre and offensive pronouncements. Possibly culminating in a borderline-psychotic episode in which an elderly customer asks if I can send her letter Special Delivery and I shout “Can I send it Special Delivery?! I’m the Mail Man, Bitch! You bet your sweet, wrinkled bibby I can!” and rip off my shirt to reveal a crude homemade superhero outfit with an envelope symbol emblazoned on it. At which point, it’s goodbye regular paychecks and hello men in white coats.
Except that, as I said, no-one seems to have noticed my gradual slide back towards my default persona of entrenched pessimism and surrealist outbursts. Possibly this is because as I’ve gotten less professional in attitude, I’ve also gotten better at the actual job, able to carry through at least basic transactions and take care of back-office work with the ruthless efficiency of a terminator specifically adapted for incredibly dull paperwork. However, I think its more likely that my own down-at-heels curmudgeonliness went unnoticed purely because down-at-heels curmudgeonliness is the default mood for everyone working their anyhow. The guy who looks like a cross between Tom Baker and a tortoise (I described him in my last entry on the subject of my new job) presents himself as a washed-up relic of a gentler era, bewildered and wryly amused by the modern obsession with pushing random services on customers and running every little thing through computer systems (again, I find it very hard not to warm to this man) while the woman who I likened to a lava lamp (in that I find her oddly visually soothing for some reason, not in that that she’s from the seventies and lights up with bubbling liquids- she isn’t and she doesn’t. That would be weird.) always seems vaguely like a gender-swapped Charles Bukowski character (as with Tom Baker/Tortoise guy, I find myself favourably disposed towards her). Amongst these people, I’m a natural fit.
Now there’s a sentence I never thought I’d end a blog entry with: I fit in somewhere. Scary, eh? And we’re in charge of your mail.
Clark: I CAN SHOW YOU THE WORLD…
Bruce: Stop it.
Clark: SHINING, SHIMMERING, SPLENDID!
Bruce: You promised.
Clark: TELL ME PRINCESS, WHEN DID YOU LAST LET YOUR HEART DECIDE?
Bruce: I was eight. It decided on justice.
I don’t usually reblog things, but this already has a special place in my heart, so I thought it deserved a special place on my dash, too.
Ah, the sunset of another Console Generation. Is there anything more beautiful? As the last rays of the Xbox 360 dye the sky a translucent shade of Microsoft Green, the prices of old games shrink, like delicate flowers closing up against the coming night. It’s an eerie yet moving twilight, at once sad and precious: a reminder of the natural cycle and strange permanence of this complex and fragile ecosystem.
On the one hand, it’s a turbulent time: as one generation sets, so another rises, bringing with it concerns over DRM and continued homogenization. On the other hand, there is a tingle of optimism in the air, as the bright colours of Sunset Overdrive ant its ilkhint at a brighter, less grimly austere future for the industry. And I just got Assassin’s Creed 2 and Assassin’s Creed 3 for £10 together! And at the end of the day, isn’t that the most important thing? Yes, yes it is.
This blog would be longer, but I just got Assassin’s Creeds 2 and 3 for £10 and I don’t have time to type this AND play those until my eyeballs start bleeding. It’s one or the other Tumblr, and in my twin love affairs with gaming and minimal internet fame, this ‘being on the web’ malarkey is definitely ‘the other woman’. Goodnight.