Scratching the disappointment of masculinity on radio

BBC Merseyside debate

Its been a long time since I was last on BBC Merseyside.  has flown by, but I’ve done a lot in that time. Ngunan has asked a few times if I would come back on the show, and with Valentines day coming up, I agreed.

Theres a lot of history between us, especially when it comes to who pays on the first date. All we needed was Jody to complete the trip down memory lane.

In the middle I did give my 4 things for Valentines day from a singleton to the other million singletons in the UK.

  1. Get busy and don’t dwell on previous relationships
  2. Reconnect with old friends
  3. Get out of you’re comfort zone
  4. Do something constructive

Things took a interesting turn as we started to unpick why… I won’t spoil it but I’ll be back to talk more about the disappointment of masculinity, something I picked up from Trainspotting T2 a few weeks earlier.

Trainspotting director Danny Boyle has revealed that its long-awaited sequel is going to be about “manhood and disappointed masculinity.”

I have clipped the audio without the music on archive.org but you can hear it in full on BBC iplayer.

Just checking its 2017, right?

Day 18/30: Shoes

This certainly fits under John Oliver’s “how is this still a thing?” On last week tonight

I can’t quite remember who first pointed me at the UK petition; but glad they did because I read the petition, was taken a back and signed it straight away.

Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work

It’s still legal in the UK for a company to require female members of staff to wear high heels at work against their will. Dress code laws should be changed so that women have the option to wear flat formal shoes at work, if they wish. Current formal work dress codes are out-dated and sexist.

Yesterday I got a email telling me 152,420 people signed the petition, which is great as 100,000 was needed to get it debated.

Parliament is going to debate the petition you signed – “Make it illegal for a company to require women to wear high heels at work”.

The debate is scheduled for 6 March 2017.

Once the debate has happened, we’ll email you a video and transcript.

Look forward to hearing the outcome on this throw back to the past.

Cindy Gallop at #Futurefest – not so safe for work?

There is so much to say about Cindy Gallop (lots I already said), and this is the talk at Futurefest which really suprised me. Its not quite like other talks by Cindy, which are about one or two things. This one seems to include the kitch sink and each point is a talk in its self.

Its almost a shame I have to add #nsfw to the tags, but objectively it may not be…

Well worth watching as Cindy has plenty to say about a lot. She kind of reminds me of Pam who is also an incredible woman.

Smut slamming stuff in Manchester

Smut Slam 20130603_009

It was through Girl on the net’s blog that I first heard about #Smutslam.

I checked it out and thought it was a great idea, especially since I’ve wanted to go to a Moth live and more #nsfw Risk live events. Both are fancinating insight into the richness of life and human connections.

… the idea is that people put their names down to tell one short (less than 5 minute) story from their sexual past, and then eight to ten names are drawn at random. If you’re picked, you go up on stage to tell your story, and then there are prizes and fun and all the good stuff. You don’t have to tell a story, though – if you’re shy you can just sit in the audience and enjoy listening to other people’s.

I checked out the London one and wrote a task to consider running one in Manchester, as I think its a great idea and theres plenty of interesting stories I’ve heard from others. But when looking into it over brunch in Ezra & Gil, I saw there is a Manchester one already setup.

In actual fact, Cameryn Moore, the “award-winning playwright/performer, sex activist and educator, and former phone sex operator.” is relocating from Montreal to Manchester, so I look forward to more of this. Certainly makes GeeksTalkSexy and Relationships 2.0 seem like a PG-13 movie.

I’m certainly going to check one out, I won’t be putting anything in the pot but listening and enjoying the evening.

Anyone want to join me?

Ancoats… hip? upcoming?

The Ashton Canal by Ancoats

Ancoats is the area just north of the city centre in Manchester. It has a large population of people who have lived in and around that area for generations. From the things I’ve seen, it use to be the Italian Quarter.

When I first came to Manchester 9 years ago, it was seen as a place you don’t want to go too often.

I still remember talking to a taxi driver asking for New Islington (about 5 years before the Tram stop opened), he seemed very confused and when I finally showed him on google maps; he laughed and said “You mean Ancoats!

Although I don’t strictly live in Ancoats, I live between Ancoats and New Islington in the ward called Bradford. Basicilly for aguement sake, I live in Ancoats or on the edge of the northen quarter.

Recently its started going through the genertification phases. I assume it started once different groups of people started making it their homeincluding myself. So many changes than Rudys Pizza place has been named best Pizza place in Manchester and beyond. Vivid Lounge named second best thai restaurants in Manchester, although its a local cafe under my flat. I’m seeing the Ancoasts Coffee company beans appearing all over. Recently theres been a restaurant called squid, matcha tea room and some clean living restuarant called Kettlebell.

Kat with cocktail

And its not just the food places… The area is growing homes, unique flats, schools, hackspaces, nurseries, etc. No wonder its been featured among the hippest places in the UK.

Now listed among the hippest places in the UK , Ancoats has blossomed beyond recognition into one of Manchester’s best areas for independent food and drink.

The district was home to some of the largest mills in the city. It fell into disrepair after the slump of the cotton industry, and was more notorious than it was desirable. But the forgotten corner of the city soon attracted low-budget creatives. As the trendy Northern Quarter became satiated and prices rocketed in the city centre, young entrepreneurs looked slightly further afield to set up innovative new businesses.

Now, old mills are regenerated by indie cafes, restaurants and bars with a focus on high-quality, artisan products. One journalist for the New York Times heaped praise on the ‘ entrepreneurial spirit ’ of the area, while the San Francisco Chronicle named Ancoats as a must-see area for any tourist in 2017.

Some people are calling it the new Northern Quarter. But in reality, it’s an eclectic, inventive, and exciting foodscape all of its own.

Waterside # 2 - New Islington, Manchester

Certainly a shift from Ancoats very different past.

Little diversity changes in the valley?

Nancy Lee

Google’s head of diversity, Nancy Lee, is retiring from Google after several years of leading the company’s global diversity and inclusion team

In Google’s latest diversity report, we saw that overall representation of women went from 30 percent female in 2014 to 31 percent female in 2015. But the overall percentage of black and Hispanic people did not increase at all, with overall representation of blacks remaining at 2 percent and Hispanics remaining at 3 percent. In 2015, only 4 percent of Google’s hires were black and 5 percent of its hires were Hispanic.

It’s not clear who will take over as head of diversity or when Lee’s last day is. Google declined to comment for this story.

Although still (at the moment I write this) not confirmed and this isn’t a criticism of Nancy’s initiatives. But its not great news and looking back at the afrofutures talk I gave a while back, little seems to have changed when it comes to non-white or non-asian people in tech. I would have hoped the increase in women would be higher too, especially with all work and attention.

Seems little is going to change in the valley, at least for diversity and inclusion. I’m sure we will find out about Nancy’s difficult position very soon.

UK’s Investigatory Powers Act now law, UK worst for it

Weekend Walk - 8th August: Protecting the snoopers from the snoopers
In a year where you can’t help but rather it wasn’t, the snoopers bill was passed into UK law. The government has been trying to put this through for a long while and although there were changes, its still really bad. Dare I say chilling effect.

The Bill will mean the police and intelligence agencies have unprecedented powers to surveil our private communications and Internet activity, whether or not we are suspected of a crime. Theresa May has finally got her snoopers’ charter and democracy in the UK is the worse for it.

Don’t play the trump card… America

As American’s goes to the polls to vote for the next president, I along with many others urge americans to make sure they don’t get complacent about Trump not getting into office. Just like #Brexit which we thought wasn’t really a possibility, we were wrong (although it hasn’t actually been triggered yet and the recent court case could bring some interesting challenges). It can happen!

Don’t be leave it to chance, make sure you did everything you can to stop this thug? from taking one of the highest offices in the world. The rest of the world will thank you plus you can sleep better at night; knowing you haven’t just given a green light to a crazed dictator which will inflict endless damage to the states and the world as a whole.

How toxic masculinity makes women feel unsafe

fratcrawl 025

Toxic masculinity is one of the ways in which Patriarchy is harmful to men. It refers to the socially-constructed attitudes that describe the masculine gender role as violent, unemotional, sexually aggressive, and so forth.

I was reading Paging Dr Nerd Love on the tube during the time I was in London for Mozfest (blog post coming soon), I actually missed my stop by one. I was engrossed in listening and reminded me of the blog post I wrote a while back about Toxic masculinity.

There is so much to say but here’s some of the key parts…

Following Trumps grab them by the pussy comments

It’s ok to talk about women this way, as long as women don’t overhear it. It’s guy talk, meant for other guys and thus women shouldn’t be offended. The problem isn’t what Trump said, it’s that what he said escaped the privacy of the “locker room.” Nobody should take it seriously, because it’s not that big of a deal. And besides, women shouldn’t be shocked; all guys talk like that. Right? Right?

Get ready for the cringiest “Yeah boiiiiiii” ever.

The constant refrain of “it’s guy talk” diminishes the impact of what’s being said. It turns the description of sexual assault into mischievous behavior by a puckish rascal, something we should find charming in a roguish sort of way. The chuckles and encouragement offered by Stern normalizes, even encourages, this behavior. Insisting that “all” guys are like that is part of how we excuse the behavior with a knowing laugh and a wink. Boys will be boys after all. Of course guys are going to act like this. Everyone knows that guys are dogs.

It absolves men of any responsibility for their action or the need to control themselves. After all, it’s just “how we are”. And in doing so, we teach others that this expected, even desirable behaviour among men. After all, how awesome is it that this guy just goes up and starts kissing beautiful women? Who among us wouldn’t want to do just that? Why shouldn’t we try to get as much action as we can?

I recently one night was talking to a few people during Mozfest and made reference to the quote from Hackers (yeah it comes to something when you are quoting hackers), but its stuck with me for many years.

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God gave men brains larger than dogs’ so they wouldn’t hump women’s legs at cocktail parties

Unfortunately it seems a large number of men want to over-ride their evolutionary process; and like Dr Nerd Love points out… Why wouldn’t they try to get as much action as they can?

There’s a lot more interesting points but the one which really got me was the confronting toxic behaviour. Its something I have tried to do but sometimes its really hard, so bloody hard. I don’t tell men that I approve but as Dr Nerd Live says…

Everything that isn’t a refutation becomes validation

I certainly have been accused of white knighting and who could forget being called a traitor to the male race for exposing harmful/toxic behaviour. But this is makes a lot of sense…

That ongoing silence from others serves to isolate people who disagree. You don’t necessarily want to speak up only to find yourself alone with your metaphorical dick flapping in the wind. This is why it’s so important for men to speak out – not just publicly but in those “male-only” spaces where men like this assume that everyone agrees. Open dissent sends a message, not just to the assholes but to the others around you – they’re not alone. They have support. They can speak up too. And those men, once empowered, signal to others that they aren’t the minority.

Just as importantly, it sends a message to other men that they don’t have to pay lip service to bullshit ideas of manhood. It encourages men to be better, instead of allowing the default state of man to be “asshole”

Absolutely!

I need to personally, be better at cutting off toxic behaviour and calling attention to the nonsense. We all do! In the Dr Nerd Love’s words…

It’s time to start being better than we are

Why I stopped caring about what most people think about privacy

PUBLIC DOMAIN DEDICATION - Pixabay-Pexels digionbew 14. 01-08-16 Feet up LOW RES DSC07732

Simon Davis’ post about “Why I’ve stopped caring about what the public thinks about privacy” is such a great piece. I’m sorry to Simon but I had to copy a lot to give the full context.

To put it bluntly, I’ve stopped worrying about whether the public cares about privacy – and I believe privacy advocates should stop worrying about it too.

Unless human rights activists and their philanthropic backers abandon their focus on public opinion, the prospects for reform of mass surveillance will disintegrate.

I’ll go even further. Unless human rights activists and their philanthropic backers abandon their focus on public opinion, the prospects for reform of mass surveillance will disintegrate.

I’m aware that these thoughts might sound wildly contradictory – if not insane. Over the past three years I’ve tested them out on audiences across the world and experienced waves of disbelief. That’s one reason why I’m certain those ideas are on the right track.

In summary, my belief is that too many of us are obsessing about whether X percent of people change their default privacy settings, or whether Y+4 percent “care very much” about privacy – or indeed whether those figures went up or down in the last few months or were influenced by loaded questions, etc etc.

As advocates, we should never buy into that formula; it’s a trap. And for funding organisations to think that way is a betrayal of fundamental rights. A program director for a medium sized philanthropic foundation told me earlier this month that her board had “given up” on privacy because “we can’t measure any change in people’s habits”. I don’t see that equation being used as a measure of the importance of other rights.

In the failed rationale of opinion and user behaviour statistics, the relative importance of privacy depends on the level of active popular interest in the topic. According to some commentators, privacy is a non-issue if only a minority of people actually adopt privacy protection in their social networking or mobile use.

Imagine if that logic extended to other fundamental rights. It would mean that the right to a fair trial would be destabilized every time there was a shift in public sentiment. And it would mean that Unfair Contract protections in consumer law would never have been adopted – replaced instead with a “Buyer Beware” ideology.

Just to be clear, I’m not saying public opinion isn’t relevant. Nor am I saying that public support isn’t a laudable goal. We should always strive to positively influence thoughts and beliefs. It’s certainly true that for some specific campaigns, changing the hearts and minds of the majority is critically important.

The struggle for human rights – or indeed the struggle for progress generally – rarely depended on the involvement of the majority (or even the support of the majority).

However, on the broader level, there’s a risk that we will end up cementing both our belief system and our program objectives to the latest bar talk or some dubiously constructed stats about online user behaviour. Or, at least, the funding organisations will do so.

It seems to me we’ve been collectively sucked into the mindset that privacy protection somehow depends on scale of adoption. That populist formula is killing any hope that this fragile right will survive the overwhelming public lust for greater safety and more useful data.

I’ve noticed an enduring (and possibly growing) argument that public support for privacy is largely theoretical because relatively few people put their beliefs into practice. Conversations on that topic tend to dwell depressingly on public hypocrisy, with detractors pointing out that the general population fails to use the privacy tools that are on offer. Even worse, whole populations avidly feed off the very data streams that they claim to be wary of. Apparently this alleged public disinterest and hypocrisy invalidates arguments for stronger privacy.

(As a side point, I don’t believe that the situation is so black and white. People have become far more privacy aware in recent years, and their expectations of good practice by organisations have increased. People change their behaviour slowly over time, and yet there has been real progress in recent years.)

I also (generally) am less caring of what the general public think about these issues. In recent times, people have convinced me to join different services and tactfully decline. I do sometimes forget my world isn’t the mainstream, and wonder why are we still having these discussions.

Don’t get me wrong, its always interesting good to have the discussion, especially because most people still see privacy in a binary way but when pressed are much less binary about their decisions. A while ago I started calling it data ethics as privacy alone leaves the door open to worries about security for example.

Context and experience has a lot to do with it and in the discussion this becomes much clearer. Just ask anyone who has had their idenity stolen, hacked or abused. Most of the public will never (luckily) experience this.

I’d chalk this one up as listen to the experts

No more battling ISIS…

Today I came back to find a letter from ISIS (now called Waterside places). It made me laugh a little.

In light of the current connotations to the militant terrorist group we have decided to change our name. We want to avoid any confusion or offence it may inadvertently cause partners, residents and local communities

The new name will be Waterside Places…

…The new name and branding will be effective from 11 August

I always wondered when they were going to change the name, the embarrassment alone must have devistating?

Don’t worry Waterside Places (Muse and Canal & River trust), you won’t be getting any less slack from me and others regarding the problems with Islington Wharf phase 1, 2 and 3!

Snowden & Bunnie against the law

Quite a few people shared with me Forbidden Research
at MIT Media Lab. It going to be streamed live, which I hope to be tuned into. Its got Edward Snowdon and Bunnie (yes the orginal xbox hacker!)

In a world where seemingly anything is possible, there are still lines of inquiry and research that—for a host of reasons—remain forbidden. Exploring restricted scientific and cultural topics in the face of social and moral constraints requires a willingness to buck the rules; to disobey them conscientiously. You don’t win a Nobel prize by doing what you’re told, but there is a fuzzy line—sometimes obvious only in retrospect—between disobedience that helps society and disobedience that doesn’t.

Vice rips the clothes off undressed

Undressed UK

A certain person (rather not say at the moment) sent me a link to the vice piece about undressed… of course its going to be so snarky but also funny, so I had a read. Here’s some highlights…

Surprisingly it is not. Undressed feels like an odd peek 20 or 30 years into a dystopian future, when couples are picked via a database of their likes, dislikes, genetic inclination and blood, marched by armoured police into designated romance rooms, and instructed to kiss and undress. Congress and children follow. The state has abolished the concept of natural love. Big Brother is watching you. Big Brother is watching you fuck.

Ok yes I can see a Black Mirror episode with these as one of the storylines. You only have to fast forward whats happening in Tokyo with the local government paying bars to put on dating nights.

…watch First Dates and all the girls who have come down to Manchester for it are thrown by the idea of eating a meal with another human being. Is this 2016, now? Is it so savage out there that girls can’t even get a date? Do we communicate exclusively through dick- and tit-pics, now, never having to meet? Has technology thrown us so low?

They are litteraly writing the Black Mirror episode.

Watch enough reality TV and you will see that the motivation people have for going on it splits neatly into three:

  • They are an idiot;
  • They want to be famous;
  • They have a weird mental blockade caused by some damage in their past, emotional or physical or otherwise, and they need – deeply need – to work this through by going on television, somehow television is the only thing that can cure them, they need to hold their nose and dive into the icebath of TV, and like Jesus it will cure them;

I had a good laugh at this one…

My motovation didn’t fit into any of these 3. I am curious and as you will read in my blog post once I can post it, and to be reading previous ones. I kind of pushed myself into it as it would be a interesting experiment.

Some could/would say mybrushwithdeath might have something to do with it and sure I would agree. However I don’t have a weird mental blockade and certainly don’t want it cured on TV (not that I believe it anyway). Regular readers know how much I hate TV culture.

Theres a lot more I want to say but I can’t right now…

Government’s response to the second referendum

 

Brexit
I fianlly got to see the orginial in Bristol just recently

 

I signed the much talked about petition,“EU Referendum Rules triggering a 2nd EU Referendum;” a while ago and finally it was debated…

The response is…

The European Union Referendum Act received Royal Assent in December 2015, receiving overwhelming support from Parliament. The Act did not set a threshold for the result or for minimum turnout.

The EU Referendum Act received Royal Assent in December 2015. The Act was scrutinised and debated in Parliament during its passage and agreed by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. The Act set out the terms under which the referendum would take place, including provisions for setting the date, franchise and the question that would appear on the ballot paper. The Act did not set a threshold for the result or for minimum turnout.

As the Prime Minister made clear in his statement to the House of Commons on 27 June, the referendum was one of the biggest democratic exercises in British history with over 33 million people having their say. The Prime Minister and Government have been clear that this was a once in a generation vote and, as the Prime Minister has said, the decision must be respected. We must now prepare for the process to exit the EU and the Government is committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for the British people in the negotiations.

So that’s it… it’s looking even less possible that the EU ref will be undone.

The nightmare is real.

The dream is real

We opened Pandora’s box and now have to deal with the negative consequences which will come in one form or another… Very fitting is the annaology of panadora box with the EU Referendum, I feel.

Today the phrase “to open Pandora’s box” means to perform an action that may seem small or innocent, but that turns out to have severely detrimental and far-reaching negative consequences.

 

Nostalgia is the enemy of progress?

Nostalgia: Nostalgia Shelf

I first heard this on the psytech podcast, as I’ve been thinking about the reasoning behind family members decision to leave the EU. As you’d expect its been said many times before and it seems Steve Jobs certainly wasn’t a fan.

Don’t get me wrong nostalgia has its place, but starting to wonder if its has a lot to blame for a lot of the ills of the world? Without saying so, I realise my argument following the study of how men prefer women who are not smarter than themselves; is entwined with this.

I understand, it’s very comfortable and it clearly makes people feel better in a forever changing world; conjuring up positive memory and providing that boost of positivity.

participants who were induced to feel nostalgic also expressed more optimism of the future.  This optimism is related to two other factors.  First, nostalgia makes people feel more socially connected to others.  This social connection boosts people’s positive feelings about themselves.  That increase in self-esteem then increases feelings of optimism.

This set of studies suggests that nostalgia can play a beneficial role in people’s lives.  When times are tough, it may seem as though things may never get better.  By focusing on positive times from the past, though, people may help themselves to be more connected to others, which can give them the resources to be more optimistic about the future.

Later on we go on to find the numbers not so great and context had a lot to play in this all.

But back to the question, is nostalgia getting in the way of progress? It seems maybe depending on too many factors.

My father likes watching old rerun shows. If it wasn’t for flicking between the news at 6pm and my mother’s enjoyment of soap operas, the TV might stay on ITV3 all the time (for those outside the UK, wikipedia describes ITV3 as a channel mainly aimed at the over-35 audience, and much of its output consists of reruns of older ITV drama series and sitcoms). It does wind and worry me a little. But I understand the nostalgia factor.

However I catch myself doing the same too. How many times have I watched Inception, Trance, Interstellar, etc? It’s not much different really, is it? or is it?

For all the films I do re watch, there’s a ton of films/tv I try to watch. Heck I have given some dog horrible films a try including sextape, tapped outthe do over, pressed, taking stock (although I did find it slightly funny and the stunning Kelly Brook stars in it)… I’ll have to check trakt.tv but the percentage of new to re-watches is quite high, from some rough and bad spreadsheet messing for 30mins on a train…

Out of a pool of 1540 films (going back to 2011!) I watched 1749 films. The average seems to be 0.6666666667? I very much realise my maths skills are pretty rubbish for this stuff, but if I was watching the same thing over and over again, it would be a much higher number. I was actually surprised at the high numbers of new vs re-watched.

Yes this is just media and I guess you could run the same thing with places I go to drink, work in the northern quarter, have brunch, etc, etc… Although most of us think of this as familiarity rather than nostalgia?

Nostalgia creeps in with culture of course. I already wrote about my feelings spending time in Japanese society and many thoughts Sherry Turkle has about the influence of technology in our lives. Its far too easy to say…

Well we use to easier… to get a job for life in the past”

You use to be able to… leave your front door open”

I prefered it when… you could smoke while you worked”

Is this toxic? Its hard to say. But I certainly try to stop myself or caveat what I’m about to say, when I feel it coming up.

But I’m drawn because I’m also very aware we should also look to history to stop making the same mistakes again and again. Remember what a divided europe use to look like?