Showing posts from 2014

Quick tips from an old codger

I don't quite know how to get this across - it confuses even me. I'll try to start.

Let's say you're young and horny. Maybe you're unused to people trying it on with you. You meet someone interesting - maybe they're a bit older than you. Maybe they're a lot older than you, if you're someone like me. You have some pretty deep conversations and end up doing some sexual stuff. And even though you don't like them in that way, you might still end up confused as to how the fuck it all happened or disappointed in yourself.

This old codger's advice is that this sort of situation is very common and nothing to be ashamed of. When you put interesting and attractive people in a room together, this happens. A lot. Just please try and be safe. And I hope that you enjoy whatever happens.

Meet the man writing a language to program life - opinion - 04 September 2013 - New Scientist

What is the natural logarithm of infinity | ln(∞)=?

Thomas Morley - Now is the Month of Maying {Cambridge Singers}


Kepler's Three Laws

Things Come in Time

So maybe some of you are sitting down with a page of maths exercises and feeling close to tears because you're so frustrated that you can't figure out what to do. I mean, it can't just be me, right? And when, like me, you actually like maths to the point of thinking that it's beautiful, it's even more frustrating and upsetting.

I have a couple of things to say about this.

Firstly, unless your teachers or professors are really mean (or just incompetent) those problems are solvable. Maybe not with the tools you have right now, maybe you might need to use old tools in a different way, but they're probably solvable. And getting hysterical usually doesn't help with doing maths - well, it doesn't help me with doing maths at any rate.

Secondly, take your time. I don't know how I can stress this enough, because it's important and most people (including me) forget to do this. Obviously certain things are going to be quite straightforward and you might no…

L8-5 Spectroscopy of the Hydrogen Atom and One-Electron Ions -- Balmer a...


Some things I was thinking about

So I've moved into my new flat and everything's sort of okay-ish, barring the fact that it took me two weeks to get hot water coming out of the taps. That was not cool. But my flatmates are all really nice - and all girls.

To be honest, I wasn't too fussed about this at first, though given that most of the first-year boys I've met consider cooking to be a dark art and are even messier than I am I'm thankful that our kitchen is reasonably clean.

It's just that...well...some people extol the virtues of living in all-female environments because there are no yucky, gross men to cause drama (apparently flatmates getting together and breaking up is a huge source of  drama for everyone else) or prey on us vulnerable women.

This makes sense given two assumptions:
1. Everyone is straight.
2. If you are sexually attracted to someone, you will act predatory towards them.

Both assumptions are bullshit, but surprisingly few people question them. And both hurt an awful lot o…

Pendulum Motion

Pendulum Motion

Pretty useful for anyone stuck on that pendulum nonsense.

Measuring The Sky

Ave Maria...Oh NO!

Since completing my Grade 8 in singing with an embarrassingly high mark (for me anyway), a lot of things have come my way. I've sung with a couple of choirs outside of school, been paid token amounts for my efforts (hey, money is money), and somehow weaselled my way into a choir of semi-professional real ale drinkers musicians. And on top of that, I'm looking for paid choral work in Manchester - so if anyone needs a soprano, kindly drop me a line. (Seriously. I'm a student. It's a foregone conclusion that I'm broke - but fortunately surviving off more than just noodles and ramen because I know how to cook.) And I want to continue and maybe do diplomas and such.

Anyway, sometime in late August I went up to St Albans to sing with one of the choirs that my former music teacher helps run, which was pretty fun (if exhausting) and I met a lot of nice people...and we got asked, at more or less the last minute, to sing at a wedding.

Now, I don't really mind doing this.…

Is desperation for new physics clouding our vision for new colliders?

Blog -

Interesting and disturbing article.

In Praise of Parents

So parents get a lot of shtick sometimes, from the criticisms of resentful offspring to the sneering attitude that the vast majority of the population are more than capable of fertilising an egg. And I've got to admit that a lot of the criticisms are justified: parents make a lot of mistakes, mistakes that have lifelong impacts on their children. Parents can be selfish and irresponsible, often cruel. Parents can be ignorant, maybe wilfully so.

Despite all that, I still want to praise parents. Sure, the vast majority of people can fertilise an egg and carry a pregnancy to term, but the actual business of raising a child - guiding a little human being through the world and making sure they come out as happy and well-adjusted at the end of it all as is humanly possible - is difficult.

Right now I've got a seven-month-old niece. She's a charming little cutie pie and no matter what she does I'm her proud auntie, but all the same looking after her is difficult. I know; I'…

I'm leaving home!

Well, it's official. I got into Manchester to study physics, with a year in Europe like the cherry on top (France, here I come!). By mid-September, I'll be driving hundreds of miles up north to the great cold city while my friends are still down south packing for university. I'm filled with pride that I did well enough to get in and excited to start my new life in a new city, and I'm scared too that I'll find myself rejected by the people who don't already know me.

And although just a week ago I was walking out of the house and vowing that I couldn't wait to get of that fucking house in London, as moving day inches closer towards me I find myself wanting to hold on to life in the south. There's nothing wrong with the's just not home. Not yet.

Yesterday, I woke up on a grey rainy day and dragged myself to the nearest shopping centre to get kitted out for Manchester; when it comes to big things, I'm ridiculously organised. Unfortunately…

Books Hold Memories

There are two things I like about second-hand books: the price and the atmosphere. Living in London, where a decent science paperback can set me back anywhere between £8.99 and £10.99 and hardbacks break the £20 barrier, being able to get books cheaply is important to me and my insatiable desire for more stuff to read.

...Maybe the problem is that I've got too many books.

That's probably it.

The atmosphere, however, is what makes me love coming in bookshops - any sort of bookshop. In a normal bookshop, the kind where all the books are fresh and bright and new, I love just getting lost looking at the new releases or the promoted books, or going further back into the winding bookshelves to search for their classics and foreign literature sections. I love picking up books and looking at the blurb, or catching a whiff of some of that new book smell as I quickly flip through them to see whether I like the writing style. I love sitting on the floor to arrange the books I want, and …

Evasion and Diversion as Manipulation Tactics

Why Heteronormativity is Sucky

So a lot of straight people don't understand why heteronormativity is a bad thing. And my head feels like a mess right now so bear with me if this isn't particularly well-structured.

First of all, what is heteronormativity? I use it to mean the idea that heterosexuality is, effectively, the "default setting" for humans, and that by extension MOGAI people are special and different. On the surface, you can see why this would be adopted: somewhere between 95-98% of the population are heterosexual, which is an overwhelming majority.

Secondly, why am I moaning about this in the first place? Well, because I think it's harmful. And why do I think it's harmful?

Let's start with the definition I just gave: in heteronormativity, heterosexuality is the default, the norm. Boring. You are presumed to be straight. Now, if heterosexuality is the norm, being anything else must be different and weird - and because you're presumed to be straight, you have to make a pub…

Half the Earth Stolen

...or what happens after that person you love killed themselves. (Obvious trigger warning for suicide is obvious.)

So on tumblr there used to be this post (I can't find it now) that went something like "If, when I committed suicide I could see how it would affect other people and choose whether or not to go through with it, I'd be dead already".

If you could see how your suicide affected other people, it would spook you out of trying for a long time. Tumblr isn't always great with mental health help.

I have attempted suicide more times than I care to share and witnessed the suicide attempts of people close to me, so I've been on both sides of the discussion and I think I have a fair idea of what I'm talking about.

A lot of suicidal people think that if we killed ourselves, our loved ones would be better off. It happens a lot when you're depressed: your self-negativity clouds everything and your low mood isolates you, so you don't feel loved and i…

But who would love someone with scars?

This post discusses self-harm. You have been warned.

I spend a disturbing amount of time in the company of people slightly younger than me (I'm 18). Not much younger, of course - 15, 16. Old enough to be articulate and form ideas about the world, but not old enough to see as much of it as I have.

I really need to get off Tumblr.

Anyway, if you remember being 15 or 16, you probably remember being very confused, insecure and angsty. (If you don't, you're either lying to yourself or you lived in a happier time and now I'm jealous of you because I spent my early- and mid-teens being suicidally depressed.) Some of you probably remember showing your angst to others in some pretty horrible ways.

I'll now make an obligatory digression so I can say something very important: if you are considering self-harm, I have been there. I have looked at my body and thought "how utterly disgusting, I'm such a poser, I need more scars". I have looked at my body and wanted …

Accessibility in social justice spaces

This article is going to be boring, for which I apologise in advance; not everything I write can be interesting and engaging. Indeed, nothing I've written so far actually is. However, as my mother drilled into my head from a very young age and continues to drill into my head today, not everything important is going to grab your attention.

So, you're into social justice. You're radical and progressive and all about breaking down systems of oppression. You see the injustice in everything and rail against it with all the righteous fury you can muster. So far, so good, right? I'm not going to pretend that changing the world is simple or easy or produces instant results. I guess a good analogy is water running over a rock: you might think that the rock's just going to stay there, immutable and unmoveable, whether you pour the water over it for one month or one year or even ten years. But perhaps in eleven years' time you can start to see the rock wearing down, and i…

Bitchy Queers

Well, I stuck a slur in the title. Don't read on. There's no hope. Flee from this evil blog. More slurs are incoming. This article is also not particularly friendly to straight people. If you're straight and reading this, chances are that I don't hate you. This is because you're likely to be a complete stranger to me and thus me hating you based on my assumptions is pointless and logically faulty. However, there are straight people out there who do shitty things and I will rant about that without necessarily stopping every 5 minutes to say that not every straight person is like that.

When I was growing up, I grew up in an environment where most people were straight. I didn't meet an openly MOGAI person till I was 12. And so I was only vaguely aware of stereotypes: the catty, effeminate gay man, the masculine lesbian, the slutty and almost invisible bisexual. They're something I only really came across when I was older.

So I think somewhere at the back of my…

I hate gender roles

As has probably been made abundantly clear over the years, I'm a woman. So I can't speak as anyone other than a woman - and a pretty privileged woman at that. I'm aware that there's a lot I don't see, maybe because I'm not looking hard enough, maybe because there are some things that my perspective on life simply doesn't allow me to see. I am writing this from a very limited and narrow viewpoint and I would be more than happy for others to add to what I've written or to correct what I will inevitably get wrong.

I remember facing a lot of pressure to conform to conventional gender roles and gender expressions when I was younger. I had to like shoes and make-up and boys and shopping, and not show my intelligence because none of the boys would like me. I had to be quiet and conventionally feminine instead of being loud, in-your-face, and more than slightly androgynous - allegedly. I stayed being loud, in-your-face, androgynous me and got threatened with as…

Don't Be That Person!

I know this is only a little thing compared with such issues as global inequality and people not having access to clean water, but it annoys me.

So, this is the 21st century. In the West, things might have a long way to go, but they could be worse. Theoretically, we have a better understanding of the fact that different people think differently, like different things and have different lifestyles. In practice, people still throw hissy fits over the tiniest things, not understanding that in a free and diverse society at least one person is going to do something you disagree with and that there's not very much you can do about it, short of keeling over into authoritarianism.

Now, I'm used to people disagreeing with ideas and wishing everyone thought the same. Most people and their mothers do that to some extent - or maybe it's just me holding opinions that cause everyone around me to disagree with me. I can cope with that, because I've grown up with it. And it's not …

My life should not be politicised.

In recent decades it has become fashionable for people to declare their identities political. Quite what this means I'm too sick to ponder at the time of writing (I have a horrible chest infection that makes my intercostal muscles ache and I can't walk very far without getting out of breath, which is really annoying because normally I'm reasonably fit), but it generally involves getting very angry and showing off how radical you are.

Well, bully for you. I should hope that all this politicisation of identity is getting us somewhere, but for me it's actually quite painful to deal with.

I am bisexual, mentally ill, an immigrant and a woman. All of these identities get politicised in different ways.

Because I am bisexual - because I am not straight - I deviate from a norm that is very much cisgender and heterosexual (for example, if you think about most couples represented in the media, they're a man and a woman, and when walking down the street one might tend to assu…

Pop Feminism? Dude Feminism?

Ever since the general populace became aware that feminism is much more pluralistic and nuanced than the old stereotype of harridans with faces like blocked-up toilets complaining about how men are evil, we've had an explosion of different types of feminism. From the mildest liberal feminism to the most fiery and separatist radical feminism, some feminists even chuckle that there is a different type of feminism for every woman - much to the ire of those feminists who consider that watered-down lifestyle feminism (the idea that you can incorporate feminism into your life without radically changing your political views). Today feminist debates rage across the internet over the failings of various different types of feminism.

And I've got to say, I don't care very much.

You may accuse me of being too apathetic or apolitical thanks to my position of privilege. You may decide I'm an idiot or a moron (for which I wouldn't blame you). You may say I'm very anti-woman -…

Fetishisation and Representation

So this was something I've been thinking about. This is your first clue that this post is going to be garbage.

The other day, someone came up to me and said, essentially, that worries about the fetishisation of MOGAI relationships in the media are used to silence other queer people and are queerphobic. I would like to call bullshit on this.

Now, before people start imagining that I'm going to put on my straight people voice (whatever that is; I've lived around straight people for 18 years and I still have no idea what that means), I'm bi. No, this doesn't mean I'm half-straight, half-gay, faking it, or carrying around passing privilege for not writing "I AM QUEER" on my forehead in purple sharpie. It means I get sexually and romantically attracted to men and women. Not that hard of a concept, is it? I don't claim to speak for all MOGAI people, because we're not a monolithic group and more people (regardless of sexual orientation) need to learn…

I Made It!

So on the 23rd of May, study leave began. I did my exams, and then, on the 27th of June, I finished. Everything. It feels weird. And I actually have time to write again.

I started going to my school when I was in year 7 (6th grade for Americans) as a chubby, socially awkward 11-year-old. I've now left school as a chubby, socially awkward 18-year-old - so in some ways not much has changed. I'm still shy and not good at dealing with social situations, and I'm still not that much into conspicuous consumption despite going to school with several people who stand to inherit the family business, live in swanky parts of North London and own 6 ponies.

In some other ways, a lot has changed. When I first started school full-time, I was naive and paranoid about what people would think of me. Today, after much misanthropy, I no longer give a fuck about what people think of what I do (mostly because they always disapprove), I'm so hellishly cynical I have to keep a lid on it for mo…

Gotham the Cat


Here, have a heartwarming tale about a cat. Awww.

"Nice Guys" and Creepy Bastards

I propose a resolution: we stop calling men who expect sex from women nice guys. At the very least, we should put the words in scare quotes, or make up a different name for them. Scum-sucking shitbags, arseholes, losers...I could go on if I could actually be bothered.

"But why should we do that?" you might ask. "Isn't it clear from context?"

Well, I suppose you have a point. It's mainly a request to accommodate me, and people like me: I have problems understanding non-literal speech and will often take it as the truth. So when someone says the phrase "nice guy" to me, I will think of a man who is kind, compassionate and ready to stand up for the people he cares about several minutes before I think of a man who thinks that he's entitled to women's bodies. And that's dangerous. It's dangerous because it puts good men and creepy little shits in the same linguistic category - which is exactly what the latter want, so that they can keep…

Classics in Sarasota: Anatomy of an idiot

Classics in Sarasota: Anatomy of an idiot: This is a kind of thought experiment, an attempt to regard the very rich text of the Antigone from just one angle, centered on the figure ...

...It's also a very awesome analysis of the Antigone.

Goddess of Misandry

Bow down before me, male rapist scum, for I am the goddess of misandry, the man-hater amongst man-haters! I strike fear into the hearts of men and hope, love and adoration into the hearts of women! Well...all the enlightened ones anyway, for I spit on those women who internalise misogyny and don't want to kill half the species based on gender alone. (I also quietly ignore non-binary people, because binary people are great at erasing anyone who doesn't conform to the gender binary.)

And what are my criteria for being the goddess of misandry, anyway? Well...uh...I don't sleep with men just because they tell me to! That counts for something, right?

Okay, bad strawman over, I really don't like this misandry trend.

"But why?" the proud misandrists ask me. "Misandry is just a natural outgrowth of feminism! It's the logical next step!"

Well, no. My first problem with misandry is that I don't think institutionalised misandry is a thing - nor will i…

Building Bigots

I don't know how to put this politely. All I know how to do is put it simply: internet social justice is hurting itself.

You've seen the pictures of me. You've heard me talk about my privilege. So why listen to someone as astonishingly privileged as I am talk about oppression? (Hey, if you'll listen to the privileged white media about social justice, as many people do...)

Now, I could tell you about the oppressions I personally face in daily life. I could tell you about microaggressions, and the things that are bigger than microaggressions. I could tell you about discrimination and hate crimes. I could tell you several million things that would make you burn with righteous outrage and start writing strongly-worded blog posts on tumblr (but doing more than that to challenge structures of oppression would probably be unlikely). But you probably wouldn't believe me; not because I would lie to you, but because I'm still just white cis scum.

So I won't tell you …

The great debate over whether 1+2+3+4..+ ∞ = -1/12

Misery Loves Monotony

I don't know if anyone else feels the same way, but personally I find depression boring as shit.

Right, now that I've probably got people all riled up and telling me to be more sensitive about mental health issues instead of being a judgemental twat, let me explain. I don't find depression as a mental health issue boring, because I don't find mental health issues boring. This is mainly because I'm sick and tired of having them swept under the proverbial carpet, but let me move swiftly on...I don't find people talking about depression boring as shit either. Again, I don't like having those issues swept under the carpet - and I've found it useful to be able to share experiences with others and not feel guilty or ashamed.

No, what I find boring about depression is the utter monotony of it all. You wouldn't think it, but being miserable is actually very repetitive...Wanting to die gets old. Being vulnerable and shaking and crying gets old. Hurting and f…