helenic: (wall of water)

Gone are the days when if you're against the war you go and protest on the street. Protesting doesn't stop wars anymore. Going to your gay pride rally is nice -- it makes you feel good, but unfortunately we don't live in that era anymore. The only way you can create social change is to insert yourself into the machine.

That's Heather Cassils, the genderqueer body builder who kisses Lady Gaga in the Telephone video, talking about queer visibility and the mainstream. Also, if you weren't sold on Gaga yet, check this out:

The thing that was kind of interesting was that in between takes I was getting kind of annoyed because the camera guys were really kind of drooling and talking about "girl-on-girl action" and I said, "What about boy-on-girl action?" And she turned to me and said "Oh. Do you identify as male?" [Laughs] And I said, "Well, probably more than you do." And she said "I'll be sure to tell people that."

Have you seen the video for Telephone yet? Surely you have.

I am completely in love with it. The D/s interaction between Beyoncé and Gaga when she gets in the car would be enough, but they borrowed Tarantino's pussy wagon; there's an explicit riff on the rumour that Gaga has a penis - and the queer kiss with the drag king bodybuilder - and poisoning everyone in the restaurant and the candy-pink Poison TV popups, and the glitchy editing and oh god the OUTFITS. As [personal profile] starchy said, "I can't tell if I just watched a music video or the highest budget semiotics essay in history."

Be warned, though, the song is so freakily catchy it will stay in your head for a week.

helenic: (elephant reaching to the moon)

The Defend Peaceful Protest meeting last week was exciting. People are still talking about policing and protest: the so-called "media storm" following the G20 looks like it might turn out to be a shift in consciousness after all. And, of course, the police and the state are still struggling with the issue of accountability as it applies to them, so there's work to be done there. [personal profile] denny is running a mailing list for discussion, news and updates - let us know if you'd like to be added to it (there's also a facebook group).

I seem to have volunteered to write up the public MPA meeting on November 5th for PSUK/LibCon/OurKingdom etc, so I want to get my head properly around the issues in advance of the MPA meeting, and if I'm linking people to PSUK it would be nice if there was some recent content on it. (On which note, anyone want to talk about civil liberties, dissent, privacy, surveillance, or policing in the UK? We'd really really love to hear from you - it was never intended to just be me and Denny.) So I'll be at the meeting in the morning, writing in the afternoon, and then then there's a civil liberties protest that evening in Parliament Square: what better way of remembering the fifth of November? Anyway, you should come to the protest if you care about such things, it'll be good.

All of which has motivated me to get back into political blogging again. It was one of the things to be sacrificed this summer in the name of Not Being So Exhausted All The Time, which was fair enough, but now I have an enormous backlog of issues I want to talk about. I've literally spent the whole day sorting through my open tabs, filing links and articles into topics, jotting down thoughts, running ideas past [personal profile] denny and [personal profile] bard and getting them to fill in the gaps for me. (JQP calls me his Chief Research Otter, but I reckon they're both mine.)

So now I have a big pile of Things To Write About, which is a bit overwhelming but I feel better for organising it all a bit. Quite a lot of it doesn't really fit on PSUK, so I might end up shoving stuff on here unless I can write something good enough that I wouldn't be ashamed to submit it to the news sites.

I won't always have lots to say about stuff, in which case it'll end up linked here as well (although the best way of following what I'm reading/interested in is my twitter, which sees far more activity these days than this journal). Like the three excellent articles I've read today on the role of the internet in democracy:

How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet by the late Adams, Douglas Adams. Originally published in 1999 and still relevant and true.

‘Interactivity’ is one of those neologisms that Mr Humphrys likes to dangle between a pair of verbal tweezers, but the reason we suddenly need such a word is that during this century we have for the first time been dominated by non-interactive forms of entertainment: cinema, radio, recorded music and television. Before they came along all entertainment was interactive: theatre, music, sport – the performers and audience were there together, and even a respectfully silent audience exerted a powerful shaping presence on the unfolding of whatever drama they were there for. We didn’t need a special word for interactivity in the same way that we don’t (yet) need a special word for people with only one head.

I expect that history will show ‘normal’ mainstream twentieth century media to be the aberration in all this. ‘Please, miss, you mean they could only just sit there and watch? They couldn’t do anything? Didn’t everybody feel terribly isolated or alienated or ignored?’

‘Yes, child, that’s why they all went mad. Before the Restoration.’

‘What was the Restoration again, please, miss?’

‘The end of the twentieth century, child. When we started to get interactivity back.’

The end of Adams' article dates it somewhat, so here are two articles from this week, continuing the theme in light of the recent events surrounding Trafigura and Jan Moir, to bring you up to speed:

Poles, Politeness and Politics in the age of Twitter by Stephen Fry, October 19th, 2009
A tweet is a 140 word expression of what’s on one’s mind, what one is doing or dreaming of. No one, not Biz Stone and the other founders of the service, not you nor I and certainly not anyone in the mainstream or techno press, ever had the faintest idea what Twitter would become. We still do not know what it will become. Some of those who dismissed it as it rose in popularity will now be slinking embarrassedly to the sign-on page, while political ginger groups of all kinds, right left, religious secular, fanatical and mild, will be sitting around wondering how to harness its power. ‘Political consultants’ who had never heard of the service six months ago will be hiring themselves out as experts who can create a ‘powerful, influential and profitable Twitter brand’. And the moronic and gullible clients will line up for this new nostrum like prairie settlers queuing for snake oil and salvation.

“If a twazzock like Stephen Fry can wield such influence,” the mainstream parties and their think tanks will be saying, “just imagine what we can do if we get our Twitter strategy right.”

Well, I contend that I do not wield influence. I contend that Twitter users are not sheep but living, dreaming, thinking, hoping human beings with minds, opinions and aspirations of their own. Of the 860,000 or so who follow me the overwhelming majority are too self-respecting, independent-minded and free-thinking to have their opinions formed or minds made up for them in any sphere, least of all Twitter.
Perhaps the foregoing is the most fatuous and maddening aspect of the press’s (perfectly understandable) fear, fascination and dread of Twitter: the insulting notion that twitterers are wavy reeds that can be blown this way or that by the urgings of a few prominent ‘opinion formers’. It is hooey, it is insulting hooey and it is wicked hooey. The press dreads Twitter for all kinds of reasons. Celebrities (whose doings sell even broadsheet newspapers these days) can cut them out of the loop and speak direct to their fans which is of course most humiliating and undermining. But also perhaps the deadwood press loathes Twitter because it is like looking in a time mirror. Twitter is to the public arena what the press itself was two hundred and fifty years ago — a new and potent force in democracy, a thorn in side of the established order of things.

And, published today, Can't stop the blog: what the internet has done for ideas by Laurie Penny (aka [livejournal.com profile] steerpikelet.
The American abolitionist Wendell Phillips once said that '"What gunpowder did for war, the printing press has done for the mind." The internet has had the equivalent impact of the advent of atomic warfare on the world of ideas, making individual thinkers part of a chain reaction whose power can be immediate and devastating. Marshall McLuhan observed in 'The Gutenberg Galaxy that "societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication". The British are desperate to see our creakily ancient institutions - newspapers and political parties dominated by wealthy Oxbridge graduates and a parliamentary system where official communication between the two houses is still overseen by the hereditary figure of Black Rod - reshaped by the internet.

Which leads me neatly to the two new ideas I've seen this week to ise the internet as a tool to "reshape democracy". The first is PartyStarter.org, an as yet embryonic idea rejected by the 4ip call for ideas, but published to see if anyone else wants to pick up the baton.
Membership of the main UK political parties has steadily declined since the 1970s. Disaffection with parties and politicians is at an all time high. Yet despite this, the big parties have hardly changed their structure since being formed in the 19th and 20th centuries (see http://www.paulmiller.org/partypoopers.htm for background on the slow demise of political parties in the UK and internationally).

Rather than focusing on getting more people to join the existing parties, PartyStarter will encourage and help people to set up their own political parties. It is based on the belief that innovation in the way that parties organise and operate is more likely to come from new ’start-up’ parties than from existing parties.

[personal profile] denny has pointed out that we already have lots of political parties (including enthusiastic and lively new parties like the Pirate Party), but they don't stand a chance of gaining power under the current first past the post system. So perhaps not that useful, although it's good to see ideas being shared, and I think this sort of thing is indicative of the general mood for electoral reform and grassroots political change.

Open Up Now is an exciting new campaign for just that, based on small steps which seem fairly credible.

The way Parliament is run and government does business must change - and getting the best possible people into office is the starting point.

That's why we want the people, not the politicians, to select who stands for election. That's why we want Open Primaries in every constituency, where the people select their own candidates, and where anyone can put themselves forward to be a candidate. That's why we want all current MPs to agree to stand for re-selection in an Open Primary. We want this before the next General Election. And this is what Open Up is calling on every political party to do.

You should read Heather Brooke's excellent article on transparency, MP nominations and party whips. I don't know if Open Up will acheive their aims - it seems a stretch, although I've signed the petition and it seems to be gaining a decent amount of momentum for a new campaign. But I seem to be seeing an increasing number of calls for reform, and they seem to be getting increasingly credible. Or am I just looking properly for the first time? Either way, it's excited. Now we just have to make a few of them start to stick.

helenic: (windowsill; cafe; people-watching)

Climate Camp:


Feminism links, via various people, but most of them from [personal profile] gavagai. Sorry if I've posted any of these before; between IRC, facebook, twitter and here it's sometimes hard to keep track what goes where.


Random stuff:

helenic: (Default)
Stephen Fry's letter to himself: Dearest absurd child
"Yes, you will grow to be a very, very, very, very lucky man who is able to express his nature out loud without fear of hatred or reprisal from any except the most deluded, demented and sad. But that is a small battle won. A whole theatre of war remains. This theatre of war is bigger than the simple issue of being gay, just as the question of love swamps the question of mere sexuality. For alongside sexual politics the entire achievement of the enlightenment (which led inter alia to gay liberation) is under threat like never before. The cruel, hypocritical and loveless hand of religion and absolutism has fallen on the world once more."

Filament Magazine
"A new magazine for women. I felt the world was in desperate need of one with:
  • Intelligent, inspiring articles, and no fashion, celebrity gossip or diets

  • Erotic photography of men based on research about what women think is sexy.
It's hard copy, quarterly and the first issue will be posted out on 1 June.

(Reviewed by Erotica Cover Watch and featuring photography by the talented Ara Maye McBay)
helenic: (Default)

In lieu of actual content, here's some of the interesting stuff I've been looking at lately:

helenic: (Default)

LJ has had some great writing lately on confronting one's own privilege, particularly in the context of conversation or debate. Here's two that I've bookmarked:

Don't be That Guy by [livejournal.com profile] synecdochic, writing in the aftermath of the Open Source Boob Project
Being an ally part 1: listening to anger by [livejournal.com profile] sophiaserpentia

The comments on the latter are particularly worthwhile. This, by [livejournal.com profile] sammaelhain struck me as summing it all up pretty well:

"If it's more important for me as a white hetero male to assert how i'm not "like that" than it is for me to shut the fuck up and consider the perspective of someone other than me, then functionally I'd rather have my privilege than work for a more fair society.

This doesn't mean you don't get an opinion if you're part of an oppressive social caste, it just means that you have to take things into consideration that are bigger and more important than your personal comfort when you address them."

The first sentence can be applied to any of us. My version would be, I guess, "If it's more important for me as a white, middle-class, able-bodied, straight-seeming bisexual female to assert how i'm not "like that" than it is for me to shut the fuck up and consider the perspective of someone other than me, then functionally I'd rather have my privilege than work for a more fair society."

I think I might write that out on a post-it note and stick it above my computer. I can think of lots of people I would want to see confront that. Which means, of course, I should start with myself. Easier said than done, but here's to trying.

helenic: (citylights; car window)

While I'm busy doing frantic last minute writing and editing and cutting and re-writing and deleting and footnoting and formatting and re-rewriting to my thesis, and therefore CLEARLY will not be on livejournal tomorrow, I would like to direct my readers' attention to this rather wonderful little snippet:

[livejournal.com profile] commonplacebook (during a discussion about zany NaNoWriMo tactics):

Maybe I'll adapt Chretien in the style of DeLillo:

The knight rode to the castle. It was nice, this, this riding to the castle. Inside the castle smelled of what? He could smell the immutable mysteries, old socks, women's Haines undergarments, all the frangible incense of huge vastnesses beyond him, this castle, this kingdom. Like castles held the religious impulse, held the clatter and echo of blood-rusted swords unavailable now.

He heard King Arthur and the Queen.

What? Arthur said.

I feel so I don't know, she said.

Sir Kay, he's so, you know, brittle.

She said, I feel like I need something else.

I say one thing and he pops off.

I feel like the castle isn't enough, like all the stones can't hold the caroming of this immense desire, this need to feel the blood, you know, the fucking pulse.

I don't know, Arthur said. Are you all right, Guin?

You should be more, what's the word I want, more accommodating to Sir Kay, she said.

Perhaps adapting myth into post-modern Western novelistic prose is my way forward, since I seem to be able to string sentences together with moderate facility (although I'm not a patch on [livejournal.com profile] commonplacebook, whom you should all read, incidentally) but can't tell a good story for the life of me. After all, if your sources are Classical, then it's not plagiarism, it's intellectual literary reference.

helenic: (internal dialectic)
As well as reading about the election and writing about fear, I've spent quite a lot of time today (ah, Sunday afternoons! the bliss!) exploring Boing Boing and coming across some rather fantastic stuff, including an essay entitled "I Shit My Pants": Spontaneous Ancient Literary Structure in Modern Colloquial Speech, and The London Review of Books' Personals Column, which BB.net describes as "funny, steamy ads written by bookish middle-aged Britons looking for a casual shag". Some of my favourites:
Lazy, horny, Luddite flâneur, male, 52, seeks buxom, cheerful, affectionate female with low expectations, who wants to have lots of sex. This idler has a few cultural interests for the moments in between – poetry, art, film and opera amongst them. Down-to-earth, amiable – him, and you. No texts or emails please. Just letters, telephone, human contact. I did say I was a Luddite. Box no. 08/02

Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes. Yes. Box no. 08/06

Yes, sir. I can boogie. Man. Academic. 62. Quite possibly gay. Box no. 08/12

Massive-breasted heiress, 38, seeks witty Nobel-awarded intellectual beef-cake gardener-chef-poet with stonking pecs. Like me, you are dynamic, hilarious, serious, ironic, passionate, practical, affectionate, kind, funny, have most of your own legs, and are startled to find yourself still cruising the aisles of the Lurve Bazaar. Unlike me, you don’t exist. Am I right? If so, will consider any M who can make conversation, sense, a living, friends, four cooked meals, hot love and me laugh. Box no. 07/01
I'm half tempted to leave one myself. Watch this space.

I've also discovered the fond and satirical Harry Potter art of [livejournal.com profile] wizzart which is quite simply brilliant. Self-styled as "the worst HP art on the internet", remarkably expressive MS Paint cartoons that mock the books, fandom, and themselves. Including the story of how Arthur and Molly ended up with seven children. Genius.


Apr. 22nd, 2005 12:52 am
helenic: (what's the matter lagerboy?)

  • You know you're working too hard a Classicist GEEK when you catch yourself reading [livejournal.com profile] londonpolybis as "London Polybius". I dread to think.

  • I am required by the laws of humour to pimp [livejournal.com profile] secretly_pope, the Very Secret LJ of Pope Benedict XVI.
    [livejournal.com profile] libellum: Am Pope! Yay! However, still not Emperor.
    [livejournal.com profile] amberspyglass: Arinze will kill me if I try anything ...
    [livejournal.com profile] baranoouji: ... Pervy poor-fancier that he is.
  • 11 600 words. Approximately 8 500 of them actually almost useable. I'm averaging 14 hours' work a day, and it's not going fast enough but considering my deadline that's unsurprising, and although I won't be able to go to the UL as I'd planned tomorrow (I wouldn't have time to write up any of my reading, and am better off editing what I've got) I will actually be able to email something to my supervisor before going to [livejournal.com profile] the_lady_lily's celebrations in the evening.

  • Also there will be a [livejournal.com profile] yiskah, for which much Yay.

  • As well as no belongings, I have no food in this house. I'm currently living on: sandwiches made from white bread and salt 'n' vinegar crisps, bananas, and tea.

  • Mainly this entry is an excuse to show off my new icon. What's the matter lagerboy, scared you might TASTE SOMETHING?

  • Man, when this thing is handed in, I'm having a really big drink.

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