Category Archives: shit i can’t believe needs saying

Shit I cannot believe needs saying: don’t vote Lib Dem. They caused this mess

Today, I have mostly been wondering if I have slipped into an alternative timeline wherein 2010-2015 never happened, and it seems like a good idea to vote Lib Dem. For pity’s sake, don’t. There are a lot of reasons why this is foolhardy, and I’m going to try to explain it all as non-judgmentally as possible. Unfortunately, because I fell for the Lib Dem crap back in 2010, I’m probably not going to do a very good job.

Before I start, please note that telling you not to vote Lib Dem is not an exhortation to vote Labour. They might be the least harmful option on the table, and you might want to do that for harm reduction, but honestly, if you think “don’t vote for this party” means “vote for this other party”, you desperately need to develop a political imagination.

This general election is not a referendum on Brexit, in the same way that the Leave vote was not a referendum on immigration.

It’s nice to think of general elections as single-issue, but they aren’t. It would be a lovely little bedtime story if voting for the right people stopped the one big bad causing all the other big bads, but that’s not how things work. Brexit, just like immigration, is not the sole cause of every problem in the country.

Would a hard Brexit make things worse? Yes, probably. But this is because the safety net is being stripped away, bit by bit. This was a process that started in 2010, abetted by the Lib Dems. And it is for this reason that another economic crash would hit so many vulnerable people so hard. When jobs disappear, people will have no access to welfare. When the NHS gets worse because of losing staff, it will collapse harder because the Lib Dems opened the door to privatisation. There will be a skills shortage due to a double whammy of escalating border policy already in place, and education being wholly boned. Things are already bad, and without rebuilding what was lost, we will be well and truly fucked. This would happen with or without Brexit: Brexit would only speed it up a bit.

So don’t let yourself be tricked into thinking that Brexit is the only problem facing the country. It isn’t. Think bigger. Much bigger. Think of what will keep us alive to weather this storm, because…

Brexit can’t be stopped, and even if the Lib Dems could stop it, they probably wouldn’t.

The Brexit genie is well and truly out of the bottle. It was a foregone conclusion from June 24th precisely because of media narratives about the will of the people and their curious boner for Nigel Farage. Regardless of who voted for it in the public or in parliament, it would have happened. Triggering Article 50 was simply turning off the life support.

This election is not about whether or not Brexit will happen. It is going to happen. It’s about who will be in charge of the negotiations.

If the Lib Dems gain seats this election, what’s likely to happen is that they will form a coalition government with the Tories again. Let’s cast our minds back again to 2010, the year the Lib Dems don’t want you to mention. While in government, the Lib Dems couldn’t even manage to stop the government from tripling tuition fees. Do you think a party that was incapable of keeping an election promise in 2010 will somehow be able to keep one they made this year for stopping a runaway train? While in government, the Lib Dems shamelessly capitulated to literally everything the Tories wanted. This is why…

The Leave vote was partially caused by the Lib Dems

The Tories and Lib Dems spent five years collaboratively ruining lives and driving the country towards ruin with their “austerity” government. As social security and the NHS were stripped away, and as public services were wrenched into private hands, things got a lot worse for a lot of people. Fingers were pointed, not towards the culprit, but to migrants. If only we had tougher controls on borders, we would be in the land of milk and honey, the Lib Dems concurred with the Tories on (incidentally, the Lib Dem policy on immigration was aligned with the Tories’). The Lib Dems waved through every single austerity measure, impoverishing countless people, while lying to them about the cause of their poverty, and didn’t utter a peep in support of migrants while they were in government. Indeed, they helped Theresa May, as Home Secretary, impose further draconian border measures.

Every time they helped the Tories, they’d claim their naked collusion was political pragmatism.

The impact of austerity and xenophobia surrounding migrants are considered two of the key causes of the Leave vote. The Lib Dems never wanted to stop these major factors, simply to not give people a vote on it. This is because they were complicit with the Tories in creating the social circumstances that led to the Leave vote.

Tim Farron is fuckawful and him and May together would be like 2010 but WORSE. 

If you don’t care about the impact of Brexit (or, in a fantasyland, a land without Brexit where Tory cuts are still going strong), maybe you have a uterus or you’re LGBT.

Tim Farron is devoutly religious. He believes, and I quote, “Abortion is wrong.  Society has to climb down from the position that says there is nothing morally objectionable about abortion before a certain time. If abortion is wrong, it is wrong at any time.” When it comes to anti-abortion legislation, Tim usually makes himself scarce and abstains. I will leave it up to you, uterus-owners, to determine whether that, in any way, constitutes support.

Tim’s also not particularly on the side of LGBT folk. While much has been made of his abstaining on same-sex marriage, it goes beyond this. He teamed up with the more backbenchy, unpleasant Tories, to introduce amendments to same-sex marriage legislation to allow officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples on the basis of their own personal religious beliefs. You may recognise this as exactly the same kind of crap that religious conservatives are pulling in the states.

So, Tim Farron is fairly socially illiberal, and your vote for the Lib Dems would be putting him into coalition with the cartoonishly evil Theresa May. It will be worse than 2010, with Theresa May being granted carte blanche by a homophobe to begin eroding equalities… and pretend that’s political pragmatism.

Edit (20/4/17): I’ve compiled receipts for his homophobic and anti-choice voting record here. It was actually worse than I thought. He voted for many homophobic amendments, and mostly made himself scarce on abortion votes, except voting to reduce the time limit.

You’re not going to listen to me on this anyway, are you?

Look, I was a booby who voted Lib Dem in 2010. People pointed out how awful they were on crucial politics like welfare and immigration back then. I didn’t listen, because I thought of all the nice, shiny things Nick Clegg was emptily promising. So, I strongly suspect none of you will listen to me here, and that’s as much to be expected.

I hate to be a Cassandra here, but the Lib Dems aren’t going to fix jack diddly shit, as much as you’d like them to. They’d likely make things worse for a lot of us. What you will get with a Lib Dem vote is a tax haven Britain, at the expense of the poor: you may recognise this as basically the same as the Tory vision. Having or not having the social safety net is the issue which will hit real people harder than a Brexit of any degree of tumescence. So go against the dogma, and think bigger than Brexit. Despite what the news would have you believe, there’s a hell of a lot more pressing issues.

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We can have unisex toilets… if everyone, of *every* gender is more considerate. Yes, this includes cis women.

Content note: this post talks about bodily functions a lot, and touches on discussing transmisogyny.

This week, I seem to have become quite the Miss Manners, with a second etiquette post in the space of just a few days. This one is about toilet etiquette, because apparently the tired old unisex toilet “debate” has come up again, with transphobic bigots pranging out about the notion of toilets where anyone of any gender can shit without fear of violence. I can only imagine these bigots have sex segregated dunnies in their own houses, which sounds pretty expensive on the upkeep.

Now, I’m a firm believer in unisex toilets, but I’m also aware of what makes toilets horrible. Having pissed in toilets for all genders across my life (I hate queuing, when I need to go), let me state straight off the bat: disgusting toilets are not gendered. I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe in the ladies’ loo, and these things, unfortunately, will never be lost in time like tears in rain. I am not sure where the myth that ladies’ toilets are nicer comes from: they’re just differently disgusting.

Regardless of what your genitals look like, there is one simple rule for a public toilet which I cannot believe needs stating, because I learned it when I was a tiny child: be fucking considerate of others.

This probably isn’t clear enough, given the fucking state of toilets I’ve been in in my life, so allow me to give a few simple pointers.

Wipe the fucking seat

This is especially targeted at the dreaded hoverers, those monsters who stalk through the ladies’ and consider their delicate bums too precious for the filthy bog seat. So they stand over it, piss on the seat and then leave it there, thus making the dirty seat a self-fulfilling prophecy. These people are by far the worst terrors of public restrooms, and I will be grinding more of my axes with hoverers later in this post.

Nice, normal citizens might also get pee, poo or period on the seat once in a while, although are likely less an egregious toilet terrorist than the hoverers.

Either way, if you get something on the toilet seat, wipe it off. Just… take a little bit of loo roll and wipe the seat before you flush. It’s fine. You’re not touching the excreta, and even if you did, slightly, you’re going to wash your hands anyway, right? …right?

Please wash your hands.

Put the fucking seat down 

About half of the population can stand to pee. Statistically, however, less than half of what you’re doing in the toilet requires standing. So, statistically speaking, put that seat down afterwards. It takes about a second to do, and shows you’re thinking of others.

Also, I return to my first point. Wipe down any stray wee-wee. Yes, even if you missed and got in on the floor. Clean it up. If you’re missing your aim regularly, just sit down to piss, regardless of your genital configuration. You clearly lack the knack for it, so… do it.

If the toilet won’t flush, don’t fucking block it

Nobody likes having to leave a public toilet with an enormous floater left there, for which everyone knows you’re responsible. So you might try to cover it up with toilet roll to make it look less blatantly present. Don’t do this: it’ll possibly block the toilet which makes everything far less pleasant for other bathroom-users than having to see the turd you produced.

It’s fine, using a toilet which someone else has used. It’s a public toilet. We all know that people do poos and wees in there. Nobody’s touching your poo, and it’ll probably flush after someone else has used the toilet. Yes, it’s a little embarrassing, but so what? It’s just a poo. Brazen it out.

However, if you somehow missed the toilet with your pooping, return to my first top potty tip and–say it with me–clean that shit up.

Dispose of things, fucking properly

Some hoverers have an even more unpleasant habit than merely peeing on the seat: they’ll cover the seat in toilet paper, then invariably piss all over it and leave damp clods of urine-soaked bog roll so nobody else will be able to sit down that day. Don’t do that. If you must cover the seat, then get rid of what you’ve covered it in.

If you use disposable period gear, make sure you get rid of that, too. There’s usually bins. Put these things in the bin. This includes tampons. While some may be flushable, most will eventually block the loo and be terrible for the environment, so pop that in the bin. Cardboard applicators, which sometimes advertise themselves as flushable are, in my experience, manifestly not flushable.

Now, I’ve seen some horrors in ladies’ loos, and the worst of these involve inappropriately-disposed-of sanitary towels. I have seen them stuck to the fucking toilet door. Why would anyone do this? Please don’t do this, it’s absolutely fucking vile. See also: smearing blood. Blood gets on your hands. You are going to wash your hands though, right? …right?

It’s especially important to dispose of menstrual products appropriately, because the period and/or nappy bins are often maintained by different cleaning companies, who come in less frequently, because the stuff counts as biohazard. So if you stick your towel to the door, chances are it’ll be there for days.

Shout-out to any toilet-having venues: make sure you have the bins.

Toilets are for bodily functions, not for hanging out

Returning to my point about the large floater, above, the embarrassment factor often comes from the way other people interact with one another in the toilet. Let’s treat toilets as what they are: a functional place to empty your bowels, bladder or mooncup, without any red faces. Treat it as broadly anonymous. What happens in the toilet, stays in the toilet.

Don’t stare at people, give them privacy. We’re all just here to go, and nobody has any more or less right to use the bloody toilet.

Transphobes like to pretend that it’s trans women who are the danger in public toilets, but honestly? The most intrusive experience I ever had in a public toilet was when the cis woman in the queue behind me, who I dimly knew, tried to follow me into the fucking cubicle. This is not on. Just wait an additional thirty seconds, Susan.

This is why the best public toilets of all are the ones which have the full-sized door and a sink in the cubicle, so you can just get on with your business in peace. More like these please.

Oh yeah… wash your fucking hands

Toilets are not, and will never be a germ-free environment, and neither is the human body from which you just cried havoc and let slip the dogs of war. This is not nice, but it’s hardly a deal-breaker. Please wash your hands after using the toilet, whether you think you need to or not. Your hands are covered in germs (and probably not just toilet-germs, but snot germs and cough germs and pet germs and… to be honest, your hands are probably far grosser than the toilet seat you won’t deign to touch). Your hands are touching everything, including other people, or things other people will touch. So wash your goddamn hands.

Toilet-builders do need to get better

A lot of places have toilets where maintenance is poor, the set-up is awful, and all sorts of other horrors. A lot of the issues can be mitigated by people using the loo being considerate. However, some of the problem is firmly in the hands of the venue. I mentioned completely individual toilet-units. These are the dream. Especially if they’re all accessible. As a stopgap, make sure each cubicle is relatively private, that there’s enough toilet roll and soap to go around, that the toilets have been cleaned and that the bins are emptied frequently.

What about unisex loos?

Unisex toilets are not only a possibility, but they’re already a reality. And many of them are an absolutely fine pissing environment. Venues should consider more unisex toilets, not fewer. All of these tips should be used in gendered toilets, in unisex toilets, in your own toilet at home.

So please, please be a nice toilet-user, and stop blaming marginalised people for your toilet experience.

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The Twitter etiquette that matters: A brief guide to not being annoying in our mentions

Twitter’s recent new (hideous) interface has, rather vexingly, made it easier for trolls and well-meaning people alike to commit some behaviours which are, at best, terribly annoying and at worst, thoroughly rude. Now, I can tell that some people don’t mean to be this bothersome, so this post is for you. Try to avoid doing these things, and perhaps my mentions will no longer have to RIP.

@ people out

I cannot emphasise this enough. If someone who is @-ed in to a group conversation isn’t responding or engaging (by favouriting, for example), maybe @ them out. Otherwise their mentions will be clogged up with a conversation which doesn’t interest them. Consider @-ing them out once it’s hit about five tweets in the conversation that they haven’t engaged with.

The new interface has made @-ing out/untagging harder, because it draws attention away from how many people are in the conversation. Be mindful of this. Also, follow this easy-peasy guide to untagging.

(basically, if this isn’t loading for you, click the usernames above the tweet you’re replying to and untick the people you’re untagging. I include the graphic because some people prefer visuals)

Now, I’ve been the dick who hasn’t @-ed people out, and it’s annoyed them. So if it hits the point where they ask to be @-ed out, consider apologising… without @-ing everyone else in!

Use “reply all” functions sparingly

Again, Twitter’s new interface defaults to “reply all”, which increases your chances of spamming up someone’s timeline. Think about who you want to talk to. If you’ve seen a good tweet where several people are tagged, do you want to say “good stuff” to all of them? Or just the person who said the good tweet? Use the tagging-out protocol above, because Twitter will automatically reply all. And, again, in a group conversation, remember to tag people out once they stop engaging.

Try not to spam people with things you want them to see… and definitely don’t spam multiple people at once!

I have a fair amount of followers, so often get “please RT”-type tweets, or someone showing me a bad news story, or someone sharing a blog they wrote. I don’t necessarily mind this, although I will point out that I might not see your tweet, especially if my notifications are all spammed up by people doing the things I’m asking for a bit of etiquette in.

What is annoying, though, is when you tag in multiple people into you tweet. Now, this is annoying for a lot of reasons, primarily among them being half the time at least one of the other high-profile many-followers accounts is someone with whom I have mortal beef. Just because you enjoy following someone, doesn’t mean I want to be added into the conversation. If you’d like me to see something, send it to me, personally, not me and every dimly feminist celebrity or journalist you can think of. If we follow each other, a DM might even be more appropriate.

And more annoying still is when someone tagged decides to reply all when saying “I’ll retweet this” or whatever. Please do not do this.

Unfortunately, Twitter’s new interface makes spamming even easier. Now, spammers are not constrained by character limits so can @ infinite people into one tweet. For goodness sake, don’t do this.

Don’t snitch

Sometimes, people on Twitter will be snarking about a horrible celebrity. And this’ll happen by the medium of subtweeting. And then someone comes along and is all like “Yeah! @KTHopkins is a massive turd.” Congratulations, you fucking snitch. You just drew attention of a high-profile celebrity and could expose everyone to a torrent of abuse. Please, for god’s sake, if you want to tell a celebrity they’re a dickhead, don’t have other people tagged into the conversation. Celebrities are horrid, vain people, many of whom will merrily weaponise their followers.

Incidentally, this is why a lot of people who have experienced abusive Twitter shitstorms may use asterisks to mask a celebrity’s name, because celebs namesearch too. So if you’re replying when somebody has masked a celeb’s name, join them in doing so. Don’t snitch.

tl;dr

Tagging is something you should think carefully about. It’s also something which Twitter has made harder to think carefully about. Keep it on your mind, and try not to be the spammer.

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It wasn’t “our side” platforming Milo that sank him

Content note: this post discusses child sexual abuse and Nazis

Over the last day or so, the far-right troll and supposed rising star of fascism, Milo Yiannopoulos (or Poundland Joffrey, as I prefer to call him), has experienced something of a very sudden fall from grace. His right wing friends are dropping away from him: within a 36 hour period, he was disinvited from CPac (a right-wing conference), had his incredibly lucrative book deal dropped, and colleagues at the far-right fake news outlet for which he occupies a senior role are threatening to walk out if he isn’t sacked.

It seems, to the far right, transphobia, inciting xenophobic and racist violence, virulent misogyny and being a literal neo-Nazi aren’t a problem, but defending child sexual abuse is a dealbreaker. Their moral compasses are perhaps a little peculiar, since all of this advocating for vulnerable people to die is also very bad. Nonetheless, it brings a small satisfaction to watch them tearing a man to shreds who, just hours before, was their poster boy.

It also gives me great satisfaction that perhaps we’ll no longer have to keep having the tiresome fight within our own side about whether or not to platform this dangerous Nazi. There have been people who claim to be with us–against fascism–who have been only too willing to play into the far-right’s hands, by inviting Poundland Joffrey to share his opinions, and then signal-boosting it as far as it will go. The rationale, they say, is to “know one’s enemy”. To give him “enough rope to hang himself”.

That didn’t really pan out. Instead, what it did was create an ever-bigger media persona around Milo. They were feeding the troll, making him stronger and stronger, his bad bleach job ubiquitous in photos at the top of articles, his hatred amplified and largely unchallenged. Even when lip service was paid, it went like “Milo is charismatic and interesting and here’s what he thinks about undocumented migrants, but that’s a bit controversial, I don’t agree with it personally but anyway let’s talk about why this guy is so phenomenally popular and it’s because he’s so cool and well-dressed.”

It spread far-right ideology further, and normalised it and the Nazis who spout it. And furthermore, it never managed to give Milo enough rope, no matter how many disgusting things they allowed him to publicly say.

What sank Milo was his own side, who manoeuvred away from him when he was no longer useful to them. It was not a comment of his in an interview with an ostensibly liberal television host that destroyed Milo, but something in his own domain: a far-right livestream with like-minded nerd-Nazis. Poundland Joffrey’s downfall came from within intra-fascist networks, not from “our side” falling over themselves to platform him.

The far-right is built upon fragile alliances. A gay man’s teaming up with homophobic conservatives was always somewhat delicate. I expect homophobia had its role to play within Milo’s fall from grace: in his comments, he was careful to confine his defence of child sexual abuse to within the gay community, which meant his erstwhile allies could gleefully dust off an age-old homophobic trope: the gays = paedophiles trope. I am concerned that this may lead to the LGBT repression that the far-right have been champing at the bit to implement; they have been presented with a tasty “think of the children” defence that might prove too tempting to resist. Milo has, perhaps, served his purpose, played the token “my gay friend”, and now become the shadowy nonce villian they need. Most of the far-right likely agree with the acceptability of child sexual abuse and support men like Roman Polanski and Woody Allen, heterosexual child abusers: but right now, homophobia is more useful.

If the far-right is so successful at tearing itself apart, what remains for us to do? Do we just sit, thumbs in arses, and watch their world burn? Of course not. These fascists are built on fragile fragile, that crack when pressure to the whole is applied.

We must be ready to resist what comes next: the probable turn towards anti-LGBT policy. All the while we must maintain a distinct lack of pity for Milo, who chose his path in siding with these people, and remains politically and morally aligned with them. He may fake a Damascian conversion, and we must not be fooled. We must keep challenging everything: the whole, not its constituent parts. We must reject their bigotry, their hatred: every last bit of it. All of it is repugnant, not just specific individuals, not just specific aspects to their beliefs. And we must not invite these fascists to spout their hatred to wider audiences: we must not normalise them, we must not signal-boost them, we must show they are unacceptable by refusing to be polite or even available.

If we keep fighting, the whole sorry shape of present-day fascism could crumble to dust, throwing each other under the bus one by one, then two by two, and more and more until they are all mangled figures in the axis.

They can and will destroy themselves. And we will give them nowhere to run to when they do.

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Tips for staying safe online if you oppose fascism

Content note: this post discusses fascists and their operating tactics

As fascism is on the rise, we are, thankfully, seeing resistance. People new to activism, new to opposing anything (let alone fascists) are seeing the need for action and taking it.

Unfortunately, some online actions can be very dangerous, given how fascists operate. Fascists like nothing more than to “expose” their opponents: doxxings are a very common tactic. Doxxing is when your personal information is shared online, in order to incite harassment against you. And recently, it has come to my attention that they have been creating honeypots to get the personal details of decent people who think fascism is bad. So this guide is for people who are new to all of this, and what you need to do to stay safe online.

Don’t sign e-petitions or sign up to mailing lists

Of the fascist honeypots I’m aware of, one is an innocuous-looking antifa website with a mailing list signup, and the other is a change dot org petition.

Change, even though it looks all official and nice, is fundamentally unsecure with your personal data. The petition starter can, for a small fee, access all the details of everyone who signed it. As for mailing list signups, whoever set it up can see everything. And even if they don’t (or Change changed their business model), your name still pops up.

My best advice is to not enter your details in these things at all. Likewise, don’t click “attending” on Facebook events, just to be safe. However, if you absolutely must…

Be sparing with your identifying details

Say you really, really want to sign up to a mailing list, for whatever reason, and you’re ignoring my advice above. Do not give them the email address that’s linked to your social media accounts, other personal accounts, or your phone. Set up a throwaway email address and check that occasionally. Don’t connect the throwaway to your phone. You might also consider using a fake name, or at least a name that isn’t your legal name (this is the story of how I receive emails addressed to Mr Ploppy McBumhead).

You might also want to consider not using your real name on your social media accounts. You don’t have to go full Ploppy McBumhead; you could, for example, use a variant on your real name. For example, maybe use your middle name in place of your surname, or a shortened form of your first and last names, or go by your paternal grandma’s maiden name online. Alternatively, you could just use an anonymous pseudonym like “dongsmoker69” or similar.

Seriously though, don’t sign the Change petitions. Best case scenario, your throwaway email account gets spammed forever.

Check your privacy settings

This tip particularly applies to Facebook, who have a nasty habit of constantly changing their privacy settings. With your Facebook, make sure only friends can view your photos and posts, at the very least. You might also want to consider not letting certain other people view your content, such as racist relatives, people you went to school with and have never seen since, regrettable one night stands, &c., &c. You can filter them out of seeing your content by creating a friend list of these people (they won’t be able to see it) and then going into the Settings section and telling it not to let them see your stuff. Turn off allowing people to tag you in images. While you’re in the Settings section, you might as well only let friends of friends send you friend requests. And of course, be careful as to who you accept friend requests from. If you don’t know them IRL, it’s probably a bad idea to accept their friend request.

I’m being purposely vague here, because Facebook seem to change where all these settings are kept on a very frequent basis. I do a check at least once a month to make sure they haven’t changed anything. The tl;dr is to make sure only friends can see what you’re writing on there.

Pictures: be careful there, too

Giving them your name is one thing. Giving them your name and your face can really fucking suck. At best, if you’re a woman, you’ll get lots of memes about how ugly you are. At worst, your life could be actively endangered. Bear that in mind when posting pics, and weigh up the costs and benefits.

Try not to keep your legal name and your face in the same place, and make sure your phone camera isn’t using GPS tagging to show where your pictures are being taken. Also avoid taking pictures around your home, with any identifying details in place, for example, street names, particular landmarks, and so on. Try not to help fascists figure out where you live.

Don’t out your combabes

You’re proud that you’ve been doing stuff to oppose fascism, like going on a march. That’s great and I’m proud of you too. But be careful about outing others. If you’ve taken pictures on a demo, try not to have the face of anyone who hasn’t explicitly consented to being in the picture. You might need to be a little bit creative with image editing to blur out faces or crop before you post pictures, but that could save a life.

I hope it doesn’t need to be said, but for god’s sake don’t tag friends in photos. To be a decent person, don’t ever do it, but especially don’t ever do it with pictures of friends opposing fascists.

Also, don’t tag friends who have participated in antifascist actions in text posts or tweets about the action. Not without their explicit consent. Don’t make your friends a target for fascists unless they’re aware of the risks and have agreed to it.

Consider using a VPN

VPNs seem like the sort of thing only a cartoonish hacker who yells “I’M IN” while typing really fast might want to use. However, they’re incredibly useful and everyone who cares about their online privacy and security should be using one. A VPN hides your data: most importantly for these purposes, it hides your IP address (which can help trace where you live). VPNs also have other benefits and are quite cheap. This beginner’s guide to VPNs takes you through how a VPN can help you, as well as how to choose the right one for you.

If you’re innocent you’ve got nothing to hide is bullshit

That old adage is a pile of turds. Stay safe. Hide things you don’t want fascists to get at you about.

tl;dr

The short, sweet summary of everything I’ve said here is: be careful with your data, and treat everyone you don’t know online like they’re a potential phishing scam. Privacy is so important, and there are some nasty people out there–this is why we’re fighting. Be careful out there x

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A twitter rant about sleep, capitalism and Jeremy Corbyn

Today, I am mostly furious about a particular capitalist value: lack of sleep. So I made some twitter threads.

Firstly, about Jeremy Corbyn and leaders. Worth noting, as an addendum, that Margaret Thatcher bragged about sleeping 4 hours a night and Definitely Never Made A Bad Decision Ever. Also, Hitler, who used stimulants to stay awake.

Secondly, about disability and accessibility.

The public health double standard: smoking, drinking, eating sugar, etc are frowned upon, and people who do some of these things are deprived medical treatment. Why is it, then, that an equally dangerous health behaviour–willing sleep deprivation–is considered all right… if not actively valued and encouraged? (and, certainly, medical professionals are subjected to hugely dangerous sleep disruption)

Gender and getting up early

What do I envisage? As a transitional demand, I’d like “That’s too early for me” to be a valid and accepted reason not to attend work engagements. I’d like for homeworking and flexible hours to be the norm, and if sleep disruption is necessary for a job, for “danger money” to be paid: we are, after all, ruining our health. And, ultimately, I’d like for work as we understand it under capitalism to be abolished, but I get that that one’s a big ask, and I’d be all right with the other two demands being implemented within my lifetime.

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Situations where it’s OK for men to talk to women they don’t know

Content note: this post discusses a form of street harassment

The tantrum crops up time and time again. This time it’s because there was backlash from women towards an article teaching men how to chat up women who are wearing headphones. When women say they’d rather be left alone, men tend to completely lose their shit. Apparently it will cause the poor babies anxiety:

It’s funny how it’s almost always men pushing this nobody-ever-talks-to-each-other dystopia, while for women it actually sounds like it might alleviate anxiety somewhat, what with not having to worry about whether the latest man coming up to us wants to murder us, or merely rape us.

This is the thing men never understand, in pushing their imaginary world wherein men striking up conversation with strange women is polite, romantic, or otherwise not unpleasant: maybe you’re not a rapist murderer, but you could be. And even if a woman isn’t afraid, your advances may still be unwelcome, because sometimes people just want to ride the tube in peace, walk home in peace, drink a cup of mediocre coffee in peace.

So, men, let’s start from the assumption that your attempt to start a conversation with a complete stranger is more likely to be unwelcome than it is to be welcome. Yes, even if she does respond to you, that’s pretty likely to be out of a conditioned sense of politeness rather than any genuine desire to hear about your opinion of the book she’s trying to read.

Going from this assumption, there are few scenarios wherein it is acceptable for men to talk to women they don’t know in public places:

  • If she’s in mortal peril and you need to rescue her. Maybe a time-travelling robot is trying to kill her. Or maybe the peril is more banal, and she has a long trail of bog roll stuck to her shoe, or she dropped her keys. At these points, it’s perfectly polite to say “You dropped this,” or “Come with me if you want to live.”
  • If you’re a benefactor who is bestowing a completely non-conditional gift on her, such as handing her £50, or a gigantic diamond. It is then socially acceptable to say “excuse me, have this money,” hand it over, and then let her be on her way.
  • If she’s doing a job, wearing a t-shirt saying “Ask me about mortgages”, or something similar. Please note, in this scenario, it is only acceptable to ask her about mortgages.
  • Literally no other reason.

If you’re concerned that this might lead to you never getting to speak to a woman again, consider this: you’re probably an obnoxious tit. Get out and meet women in situations where you’re likely to have something in common with them: develop a hobby, get a bloody job in a non-misogynistic industry, &c., &c.

And meanwhile, leave women alone to just move about in the world without being bothered.