Otterday! And Open Thread

Is it chilly where you are? This week’s Open Thread is hosted by a snowy little otter from Wildpark Pforzheim. [Image by Cloudtail on Flickr.] A little otter sits on the snow, looking a touch droopy and sad. Please feel free to use this thread to natter about anything your heart desires. Is there anything great happening in your life? Anything you want to get off your chest? Reading a great book? Anything in the news that you’d like to discuss? Commiserations, felicitations, temptations, contemplations, speculations?

Categories: arts & entertainment, environment, fun & hobbies

Tags: , , , , , ,

31 replies

  1. I’ve been following/getting involved in the social media storm following the hyped release of TEDx Sydney’s so-called “Stella’s Challenge” – which involved telling things to do the exact opposite of what Stella Young fought for her whole life.

    What TEDx wanted nondisabled folks to do – and the entire thrust of their launch was directed at nondisabled people – was to record interviews with random disabled folks, with their suggested opening question being “Would you mind if we talked about your disability first, so that I can understand how best to refer to it, and would you mind if we explored how it has impacted your life?”

    They also had a bunch of disability service providers “pledge” interviews with certain numbers of PwD. No involvement with ACTUAL PwD (People with Disabilities), again – instead just all of this weird speaking-for, speaking-about.

    And no action. Absolutely none. They ignored the actions Stella said, shouted, fought for. They ignored all the conversations crips have been having for a long, long time, many of them public. They ignored RampUp. They just decided, yet again, that the problem was lack of ‘awareness’, and that it would be a totes novel idea to pledge to extract stories from people with disabilities. With no action.

    No mention of the involvement of any PwD in the planning and leadership process. No mention of any payment to any actual PwD. Nothing.

    The rest was all just about TED’s marketing machine, asking for pageviews, asking for donations, etc.

    Well. APwD got pissed, and said so. Check out the #stellaschallenge hashtag for more.

    And, to TED’s credit, they eventually sorta kinda fauxpologised, then a day later issued a better apology.

    We’ll see what eventuates.

    Meanwhile, please don’t go up to random crips on the street and ask them about their impairment, mmkay?

    • I headdesked so hard about this over the last few days. Appropriation, condescension, erasure – it’s all the same old story and they dared to attach Stella’s name to it?

      TEDx did some fascinating things when they first started out, and they still occasionally manage to showcase genuinely innovative and thoughtful speakers, but most of the time they just seem to be blinded by their own perceived brilliance and somehow think this means they don’t have to consult experts with decades of experience about the latest big idea they’ve just had about an issue that’s been going on for yonks without their input. Grrrr.

      • Well said! They seem so completely taken with the idea that if they dream something up, they must be the first people ever to contemplate the topic. No need to look at the work that’s gone before. And appropriating Stella’s name for this… it makes me feel sick.

      • WTF? They’re suggesting people just go up to random people in the street and quiz them about their life????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

        How exactly is that supposed to help the disabled?* And, yes, precisely what anyone needs when they’re trying to get from A to B, minding their own business while hoping they won’t face yet more street harassment, is some stranger making a beeline for them. Jesus F# Jones.

        It’s so intrusive (and as you’ve all pointed out, takes away people’s agency), annoying at best and frightening at worst. I am sure people with a visible disability get strangers coming up to them in public all the time, either to help them when they don’t need help (and won’t take no for an answer), or to abuse them and accuse them of ‘faking it’ – not to mention all the random shit like overhearing the use of ‘retard’ and such in conversation (or used as fucking clothing logos). Add to that the daily street harassment that women face and just WTF were they thinking. The people that come up with this ridiculous shit (= ridicushit) just live in a totally different world, don’t they? Let me guess, all straight, rich, white guys, yes?**

        It reminds me of that campaign the ‘top people’ at Starbucks came up with, to improve the life of non-white people in the USA by getting their baristas to ask customers if they would like to talk about the issues facing them.

        Another. Fucking. World.

        And I am so effing sick and tired of ‘awareness’ campaigns. I guess they have their place, but they seem to take over and replace actually doing anything concrete.

        *I think it’s more about helping their egos.
        **Not that it’s impossible for a straight, rich, white guy to have faced faced discrimination of their own, or to have insight or empathy, but they do have a track record of this kind of obliviousness.

      • or to abuse them and accuse them of ‘faking it’

        I can’t comment on Australia, but this is increasingly common in the UK. Someone coming over to randomly quiz you about their life for the sake of their own awareness is pretty much indistinguishable from someone coming over to do this – and may remain so for the first several questions.

    • Yeah, I read about this thing, too. One thing I found interesting were the comments from a few other people who were ex-Quiverfull or ex-homeschool (from the particular variety of Christian Homeschooling the Duggar family subscribe to) along the lines of “this is hardly surprising or unexpected”. A few of them pointed out that one of the key tenets of the homeschooling system being used (ATI) was that even thinking about sex before or outside the bounds of marriage was regarded as being sinful – indeed, it’s regarded as being just as sinful as raping someone. Essentially, there’s an entire subculture of boys and men being raised in the USA (and probably also here in Australia, and possibly in the UK as well) to believe that if they aren’t married and they think sexual thoughts, they’re just as evil as someone who acts on those thoughts and molests a child, or rapes an unwilling woman. Plus, of course, it’s all mixed in with the Modesty culture, where these same men (and the women in this subculture) are taught it is a woman’s responsibility to dress in a way which will allow the men to avoid “lustful thoughts”. So if a woman is wearing clothes which allude to the fact she has breasts, or a waist, or hips, or shoulders, or thighs, or calves, or whatever, and a man thinks “lustful” thoughts (such as, for example, noticing she has breasts, a waist, hips, etc) then it’s her fault for misleading him, and for “defrauding” him (by alluding to being sexual without the protection of marriage).

      (I find it even more troubling, because I can see the echoes and fault lines caused by a similar sort of upbringing – although necessarily less extreme – for my mother, whose parents were Fundamentalists long before it was trendy).

  2. Scam alert.

    I had a horrible scam phone call left on the answering machine this morning, by a man claiming to be from the ATO in Canberra, giving his name as Robbie King, saying that they are issuing a ‘legal petition notice’ with regards to tax evasion and tax fraud, and that the matter is very serious and time sensitive, and if I don’t call the ‘direct hotline number’ given (02 6152 8663) I will pay the legal consequences.
    Ends with ‘Have a pleasant day’!!!

    Note, he never used my name or phone number or any personal, identifying details.

    I realised it was probably not the ATO because the number Creepy Guy gave was an 02 number and government departments would have a 13 or a 1800 number, and also government staff tend to leave messages in a normal ‘this is the gazillionith call I’ve had to make today’ tone.
    I thought it could be a wrong number, a scammer, or some creep getting his jollies by scaring people.

    I googled the phone number and found others reporting the same call, then I rang Telstra, but all they could do was try the number he gave, which rang and and block it for me (not much help if the scammers are calling form another number).

    Then I rang the tax office, wanting to report it, but that was a washout, the guy said they were well aware of this, thousands had been contacted all across Australia in the last few days, and because they were calling from overseas (he thought Russia or Romania) they had no jurisdiction and there was nothing they could do, and no formal way to report it. 😦

    Tax Guy said an old gentleman had already been to his credit union to withdrawal his life savings, and it was only the teller querying it that saved him. 😦

    Anyway, I hope it doesn’t happen to anyone else.

    • It was creepy and the tone was very threatening (despite the ‘have a pleasant day’ – maybe that’s why it was so creepy) and it scared the life out of me. I was shaking and had stabbing pains in my chest for hours after. I know it sounds silly but I have anxiety and depression etc. and even when the phone rings on a normal day i jump and startle like a freaking scared rabbit (not a General Woundwort rabbit, the other kind 🙂 ) and at the moment I’m extra stressed anyway and phone calls in my life generally mean bad news like someone’s died and my cat was at the vets and I’m scared stiff about her. 😦

      And, y’know, just for a moment I wondered if I had somehow forgotten to pay my taxes all my life…I can well imagine someone being taken from that initial fright to a place where they feel they have to rush out and sort this out immediately, without time to reconsider, especially people who are older or with a mental illness (like me), people who believe it’s shameful to be in debt, or have memory problems, or without access to a computer or computer knowledge to google it, or just not being in that sort of world where scams are well-known about.

      If I’d picked up the phone and talked to the guy…I’ve been bullied and abused in the past, and I worry that I’m easily walked over, who knows what I might have done. It makes me angry that I couldn’t somehow warn other people, especially other vulnerable people, about this.

      I actually looked up A Current Affair’s website (though I loathe those ratbags) because i thought I could leave a suggestion that they report on it, and they have a wide viewership, but I couldn’t find where to do that.

      • The Tax Guy said they were targeting old people, people in hospices and old folks’ homes, and so forth, which made me wonder how? Had the scammers somehow gotten hold of information from Australian government departments relating to senior/disability welfare payments? Do any of you guys know how scammers get our phone numbers?

        Does anyone have any ideas as to how I could warn more people?

        Anyway, I’m sorry for going on about it and making so many posts. I hope I haven’t annoyed anyone. *anxious rabbit face*

    • I heard about this scam on ABC Local Radio in Adelaide just the other day. Apparently he sometimes says “have a blessed day” instead, luckily that alerted the recipient that it was likely a scam. I’m sorry this happened to you, sounds like you’ve done everything right.

  3. Wow Calcifer that sounds awful. I hope your cat is okay too.

    • Yeah, I really could have done without it.

      Thank you for saying it sounded awful – I’ve been told so many times in my life that I’m ‘over-sensitive’ and ‘over reacting’ and that when I’ve been bullied or abused it’s my fault for not being aggressive enough. I guess a lot of people could have shrugged it off but anything like that makes me flash back to every other time I was frightened by someone and I can’t stop the thoughts.

      As for my cat – the vet called today with her test results, confirming what I was afraid of; she has hyperthyroidism. I don’t want my kitty to be sick, I wish it was me who had it, not her. She’s going to die and I can’t do anything about it.

      And I can’t bear it. She’s my only friend, the only brightness in my life. When I’m crying, she comes from wherever she is, calling to me, and sits by me, patting my leg until I stroke her. Then she flops on the floor and shows me The Belleh – “Stroke The Belleh! Everything’s better after a Belleh-stroking!”

      I don’t want her to suffer, and I don’t want her to die. Every time I think life can’t get any worse, it does. I just can’t bear it.

  4. Moved house. That was… a thing. A thing indeed.

    • It’s also the first night not sleeping next to my baby (other than when I haven’t actually been in the same house as her). She and her older sib are now sharing a room. Hijinks ensue!

    • Whoa. Moving house is indeed a thing. Also the sibs sharing a room. Big things.

      Best wishes for a happy new house!

    • So far hijinks are things like: baby skipped nap today, baby is evidently now going to try and sleep 5pm to 7am. We better get a good brekkie ready for her now…

  5. I was listening to ABC891 (ABC local radio here in Adelaide) this morning, and Ian Henschke was opening hisusual morning show, talking about last night, when he had been at a media function. He noted his women colleagues dancing, with their drinks still in hand. He discovered that they do this to avoid getting their drinks spiked. Well, says he, if you can’t trust your own journalistic colleagues, who can you trust? Heavy overtones of women are totally overreacting.

    So pissed off, would have fired off an angry sms if I could’ve remembered the sms number. I say to Ian, put yourself in their shoes. What if you felt that you couldn’t trust your own colleagues well enough to even leave your drink unmonitored in their presence? In that scenario, who needs to modify their behavior? Because it sure as hell isn’t the women who are guarding their glasses.

    • I’ve sent an email to complain, and ticked the box to say I require a response. We’ll see what happens.

  6. Really over authors saying that to be realistic historically their books have to include violence against women. You have fucking dragons and magic but somehow realistic = the assault of a female character? FFS.

    • Agreed. It’s rather like they just took the most misogynist version of our world, and added dragons and magic. Ta da! Realism. I feel as though a book that represented equality in the modern era would have to have a new genre created just to fit it (feminist equality fiction?).

  7. Finally downloaded my Hugos packet. There’s a bunch of stuff I expect will not pass the bookshop test (if it doesn’t grab me in the first five pages the rest of it goes unread) so I should make the July-end deadline for voting OK.

    • Is there a Sad Puppies slate again this year?

      • The Sad Puppies’ slate was largely unsuccessful. The Rapid Puppies’ one, however, was very successful. This represents very few people, of course, but because of the lock-step slate-voting it is easy for a small number of people to have a large influence on the smaller categories especially. Having had a fair bit of the time to look at the packet already, Noah Ward’s featuring high in many of my categories. However the novel category has three fantastic contenders – The Goblin Emperor, Ancillary Sword, and The Three-Body Problem, which is great.

      • I loved Ancillary Justice, although I think I have to read it again to make sure I got everything out of it. Good to hear there are still good nominations in there.

  8. I’m finding the Rachel Dolezal story resonating rather particularly and peculiarly for me, since we have family suspicions about one branch of our own ancestry so thoroughly whitewashing their personal histories in order to “pass” that we’ll probably never be sure about which part of the country they really came from before they settled in Sydney. Some of my relatives in that lineage have Scottish-White complexions, while a few others are plummily dark-skinned, and the rest fall somewhere in between. I know of other families who are totally sure about their indigenous ancestry who have a similiar range of skin shades in their family photos. Race is more than just skin colour anyway (although racism mostly doesn’t take that into account) and skin colour is a really poor indicator of which branches of a person’s ancestry they know about or have been acculturated within.

    • You think her parents may be indulging in some whitewashing? I guess my question is if your family has been passing as white for generations, enjoying white privilege and deliberately leaving culture behind how many generations on can you still claim ethnicity without being a white person wanting to feel different? Grandparents, great grandparents, great greats? At what point does it become an interesting family history footnote and not an integral part of your identity?

      • I note it as a possibility, Mindy. Dolezal grew up with African-American adoptive siblings, is married to an African-American man and they have children together. Other than knowing that, we only have her parents and a few other people’s accounts of what is the “truth” about her ancestry. Perhaps she is just the fantasist/impostor she’s being shamed as, but in my limited experience of just my own and a few other families the racial heritage situation could be a lot more complicated than that.

        Some members of my family have reacted with vehement denial when others of us asked the question at all, yet one particular group of my cousins are dark enough that I wonder whether they “pass” at all really except amongst the subset of relatives who don’t want to think about the question. I expect that for those cousins, and for their parents, the whitewashing was never all that thorough – so although it is more of an interesting family history footnote for me it may be a much more personal lived experience for them that I can only imagine is exacerbated by an older generation refusing to tell them the truth about why they looked different from other cousins. Since in retrospect I note that we visited much less with the darker cousins than with the paler ones, it’s difficult to start this sort of conversation with relatives I was prevented from ever getting to know well.

  9. I am currently reading Murder and Mendelssohn , the 20th Phryne Fisher book. Is it just me or has Kerry Greenwood snuck a Sherlock fanfic into the middle of this one?

  10. I am unreasonably pleased with myself for successfully following a 1 minute video tutorial on how to use Garageband to make a ringtone for my phone. I have even assigned a particular ringtone to MyNigel. It’s the little things.

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