Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Newsbag.

Posted: September 21, 2011 in Bodies, Capitalism, Education, Finance, Health, Science, Sexuality
Tags: ,

Okay, I’m going to attempt to be back now even though I’m still having trouble using a computer comfortably.

Really, Government, really? Possible proposals to cut the benefits of terminally ill folks? This is obscene. We always knew that this government was incredibly ableist, but here’s another rock-solid indication. It honestly scares me that the people in charge of the country are so very contemptuous of anyone who doesn’t fit the conventional notion of ‘ability’, and that they are actually enacting this stuff (as with other benefit changes that have gone through).

If the data bears it out, which I think is likely, this is exactly as expected. EMA has proved important for many people, and scrapping it is always going to have an effect.

Aaand from a sciencey point of view, the information that deep-sea squid mate with no regards to sex is fairly interesting.

I’m sorry this is a shite post. I’m still trying to think of a way to make a post out of my recent health issue and how that has been complicated by my lack of gender, which is definitely interesting. I realise, however, that I’m probably saying nothing that other people haven’t said before so… Still need to think some more about that one.

Once, some early human remains were found near where I live. Unfortunately I can’t name them (because that would give away my location and I’m lairy of that on the internet) but they’re relatively well known.

In the local museum, we have casts of them laid carefully in an upstairs room, with all the information and everything. I’ve dusted their case and spent a fairly considerable length of time staring at them – I’m just like that in museums, any museum. Could spend hours there, especially more old-fashioned or more cramped ones. Last week, I found the real ones in a cabinet in an English museum.

Now why are they there? They were found in Wales. Why must they be taken to an English museum? What claim does England have on them? This is just a really small-scale case – it’s the one that’s recently cropped up bang in the middle of my life, which is why I’m using it as a post started – of treasures being taken from their country of origin and sent to places regarded as centres of civilisation.

Look at what happened in Egypt. Westerners raided tombs, showing utter disrespect to the remains stored there, and stole what they found out of Egypt. We still think we have a claim on the remains, and their discoveries tend to be credited to us. It’s another foul face of colonialism, and another manifestation of a Western-supremacist mindset. That mindset holds that as the centre of the empire, we are the sole repository of civilisation and knowledge and so of course we have the right to claim aspects of other countries’ heritages to study in that ‘objective’ way privilege has of conceiving of study.

Don’t get me wrong, I love studying history, seeing things in museums. But I really hate the fact that so much of the richness of the museum experience I have had has come at the expense of the countries that so much I’ve seen was stolen from. While it was awesome in the purest sense of the word to see the mummified remains of a high-class ancient Egyptian, it was not good that the beliefs of that person and those who buried them were disrespected (often in very violent ways by tomb robbers), and that said remains were only in a place where I could see them because my ancestors had stolen them.

And all of this is connected to the European-descended Western sense of entitlement that sees us trying to impose our wills upon countries in the rest of the world, exploit their people and steal from their cultures. We steal treasures, resources, culture, autonomy. We indulge our imperialist mindset through more subtle ways than we did in previous centuries, but we still have that mindset, we still try to gain our empire even if we do it with talk and money and culture and indirect military action rather than the old bunch-of-people-land-and-say-‘I claim this ground for ___’-without-checking-with-inhabitants-at-all.

We’re not the centre of the world. We thought we were, we’re still trying to put ourselves there – but we need to get over ourselves. And we need to stop stealing. We need to recognise that what’s wrong on the individual interpersonal level is wrong on the international level as well. We need to stop trying to advance ourselves by draining the rest of the world dry.

And that applies even on the small level. So if we do finally do the right thing and return what we stole to all our overseas colonies… I’d like England to give Welsh discoveries back, thanks.

…since I can’t get together a coherent post about evo psych and how much I hate it, hate being taught it, hate its kyriarchist apologism and hate being erased by it, I’ll talk about the news. News. That should make me feel better. Oh wait…

Forcibly retired West Midlands police have been invited back to work… for free. Yeah because that’s not exploitation at all. Discharge them as a cost-cutting measure then get them to work for free. Okay, some people might be financially secure enough to do that – but it’s not a given, and it’s still not a good policy. Some may want to and that’s fine – but it is not good to try to exploit them all like that.

TW: discussion of self-harm in this paragraph. The 2011 Children and Young People’s Wellbeing Monitor for Wales has come out, and reveals, among other things, that hospital admissions for self-harm were in 2006-8 approximately 138% of the levels for 2003-5, that chlamydia levels have risen but that this is thought to be due to increased awareness, that sexual health appears to be improving, that the numbers of 15 year olds drinking and smoking have dropped and that approximately one third of children in Wales are now living in poverty. A mixed bag, really.

It has also been pointed out that there is scope for the abolishing of EMA to be discriminatory. Now, in theory the individual schools might be able to target resources better – but in practice this is not going to work because of a little thing called KYRIARCHY, which is in teachers’ heads just like everyone else’s and will influence their decisions. It’s also problematic because seriously? Schools and colleges do not know as much about their pupils as this seems to assume they do.

Ooh! This seems somewhat better news! Leaked documents suggest that the Government is having second thoughts about outsourcing public services. Now, I can see what the supporters of outsourcing say, but 1. I don’t trust the private sector because of its capitalist values and lack of accountability and 2. just ask the MOD how outsourcing worked for them. With extensive outsourcing to private companies – not talking about cooperatives or other models, mainly private companies here – could come a massive opportunity for worker exploitation, irregularities in key services and ‘cost cutting’ measures that could easily lead to degradation of services. So I’d rather the Government kept services under their wing, even when the Government is less than ideal.

There’s a lot more that I could comment on, but… I’m still feeling terrible after being taught that bit of evo psych (luckily we don’t do much). Sexism, cissexism, binarism, heterosexism… urgh. Urgh. And scientific wooliness, to say the least.

Pick’n’mix

Posted: March 5, 2011 in Capitalism, Finance, Health, Science
Tags: , , ,

Auntie Beeb, nooooo… It seems that senior BBC staff have instructed journalists to use the word ‘savings’ rather than ‘cuts’ to describe the Government’s CUTS to public spending. I am now going to capitalise the word CUTS just to emphasise it. It seems that spokespeople for the BBC are denying it, despite reports from journalists. At least there is resistance within the BBC.

Hello, news does not mean euphemism. When you report news, you report it free of bias. You’re perfectly at liberty to then have opinion pieces, but you use the facts. And these aren’t savings. They’re CUTS. Public spending is being CUT to move the debt from the country to the people of the country. The word saving is applicable where you manage to provide the same things for a lower price. A CUT is where you take away needed money and force people to pay more for the same service, possibly privatising it into the bargain.

Ouch. Lovely. I really hate England’s system of charging for prescriptions. Hello, folks, NOT EVERYONE IS RICH. This is an incentive for people not to go to the doctor with minor complaints, instead letting the problem get worse until eventually the NHS has to pick up a massively inflated bill (and that’s just the economic argument. The human argument is People > Profit. People have a right to healthcare. Putting off getting medical attention for economic reasons risks lives.) Okay, it’s not as bad here as it is in the USA – that system, of billing for all health care and having to buy medical insurance, is absolutely unspeakably awful – but I’m still going to speak up against it because the cost is going up, and it could lead to a slippery slope.

REALLY, Mervyn? What a SHOCK! Why, no-one had noticed that banks were putting profit before people… /endsarcasm. And are you going to walk the walk, Mr. King? You’ve talked the talk – now walk the goddamn walk.

It’s dubious whether the European Commission’s recommendations about carbon emissions will be heeded at all, but… all this is pretty alarming. Cutting carbon emissions is probably going to help with global warming – I don’t talk science and the environment on here often enough, but a high-CO2 mix of gases heats faster than a low-CO2 mix with the same amount of energy, (and does anyone know how to do subscript on WordPress? EDIT – doesn’t seem to be working for some reason, never mind…) – and global warming is certainly going to be detrimental to the environmental. Ignoring that is something we do at our peril. We need to reduce our emissions, and fast. We’ve been ignoring the growing problem for too long.

Holy shit. The NHS is totally failing the elderly. The anecdotal evidence for this can be found by speaking to many, many people (although it isn’t universal), but it’s now being officially recognised. I really don’t think that sporadic random-attack checks are quite cutting it, though, as a solution; yes, it’s better than nothing but it doesn’t really change the culture of care. ‘Care’ should mean exactly that. Any system claiming to look after people’s health needs to do so with compassion and respect, or they are working against their own purpose. I believe that socialised health care is a great good for all – as long as it actually lives up to the title of ‘health care.’

Oh woo. We get the chance to look at and comment on new legislation. Y’know, that would be a great thing if those comments were actually listened to. However, the Government hasn’t exactly shown itself to be very good at listening to criticism. Tell me, Coalition – just how many of us normal folks’ voices = the voice of one big-money conservative capitalist?

On tumblr, I’ve been seeing a frightening number of bills restricting the bodily autonomy of those with uteri (for example, H.R.358 ) coming from the USA. Dear American politicians – you’re being shitbags. You’re also failing at this ‘pro-life’ business since you’re quite prepared to authorise the killing of living, breathing, human beings, and don’t seem to care about people’s prospects once you’ve coerced their uterus-having parent to incubate them for nine months at all costs. And you know what could help reduce abortion rates? Sex education. Greater availability of contraceptives. Free health care. A functional welfare system. Know what doesn’t help reduce abortion rates? Restricting abortion. That just drives it underground and makes it utterly unsafe.

And I have been sadly deficient in saying this for quite a while; to everyone standing up for their freedoms, wherever you are in the world, I admire you and hope that your stand is successful.

Quick personal post – TW for discussion of hatred of non-heterosexuals.

So, yonks ago, this happened. This girl, who states openly that she is a homophobe, is in my psychology class. I keep getting put in a group with her. This makes me extremely uncomfortable for obvious reasons – I am non-heterosexual, hatred of non-heterosexuals is likely to coincide with hatred of non-cis folks, I am non-cis. There are ridiculous numbers of rumours about my sexuality going around, I don’t know what she’s heard, I don’t know what she believes, I don’t know whether she’s stumbled upon the truth from the many people I am out to.

I said to myself that I would keep my head down and hope that the teachers didn’t group me with her for group work, and that if they did I would do something about it. It’s happened twice now in quick succession. I have the email addresses of my teachers. I want to email them asking them politely to not group me with her.

However, there are problems. Do I tell them why, out myself to people in a position of authority over me? Do I not tell them why and risk them thinking me a petty feuder? What will happen if I send them? They’ve known her for years, me for months. She seems to be a bit of a favourite pupil, and while I’m not an unfavourite I’m still an unknown quantity. What if either of the teachers are heterosexist? I know one of them is cissexist, since she managed to trigger me her very first lesson, so that doesn’t bode well. What if they want to speak to her about it?

This is literally just a personal ramble, putting down into the void of the internet my feelings around the issue. I have no idea what I’m going to do. I might send an email to my favourite of the teachers and ask her to sensitively explain it to the others…

Great! Little update

Posted: February 8, 2011 in Science, Sexuality
Tags: , , ,

This abominable ‘Doctor’ is gone from the ACMD. And it’s because he failed to disclose his authorship of a blatantly homophobic paper. Some folks are saying that his homophobia shouldn’t have affected his appointment or dismissal (but that he was correctly dismissed for bad science.) Hmm. Bad science would have been a perfectly good reason to dismiss him, it’s true. But his homophobia has nothing to do with his religious values. You can’t say, ‘you can’t sack someone because of their religious values,’ as a defence for a homophobe. Because homophobia is not a part of Christianity. Homophobic views are not Christian views. They are downright hateful, which is the antithesis of the love advocated by Christianity. I am an atheist, but I went to a Church school for years, know about the Biblical views on sexuality and know many Christians – and homophobia is not a part of the Christian faith. And frankly? I don’t see why we shouldn’t sack someone for having discrimatory, bigoted views. In fact, that’s a damn good reason for a sacking.