Thursday, 30 April 2015

Dah-di-dah-dit, dah-dah-di-dah

    This morning, a big brown envelope from the postman. Inside, from the UK radio regulator OFCOM, a reissue of my amateur radio licence that I let lapse in the '90s. And there I was protesting about not regressing into my childhood!
    It's interesting, coming back to something I last looked at twenty years ago. I'm doing it for very different reasons to my teenaged radio hobby, this time it's because my local hackspace has some radio amateurs and I want to join in.
    A lot has changed in the world of amateur radio since the 1990s. Gone are morse tests to use shortwave bands, and we have a whole load of new frequencies to use. My licence is now a "full" licence and my callsign is now nearly 30 years old, enough to be considered venerable.
    And I've changed too, in more ways than the obvious. I tired of old gits yakking away at each other back then, and I'm not sure I want to venture back into that particular fray. Amateur radio can have rather an old-fashioned culture at times.
    So what am I going to do with it besides talk radio with the hackspace crowd? Probably what I always wanted to do back in the day but only achieved partial success at: build my own kit. There are still corners of amateur radio where you can push at the boundaries of what is possible, it's not all a slightly rarified version of CB for older men.
    All this has got me reaching for the soldering iron, see the picture. There's another thing that has changed since the 1990s, computerised circuit design tools that are easy to use!
    Building stuff though, it's an escape. The receiver prototype in the picture may one day emerge as a more polished design, but I don't really need it as I still have my trusty 1980s-vintage communication receiver. So why bother?
    You need something to keep yourself in touch with your worth.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Blood on their hands

    Another week, another set of Media Trans Sensations. In the USA it's Bruce Jenner, over here it's more froth from the ever-self-publicising Paris Lees. Jenner has come out in a media frenzy to publicise the inevitable TV series about his (he has for the moment retained the male pronoun) transition, while Lees is further ensconsed in her role as the UK media's Pet Transgender Person.
    The general public now knows all about transition y'see. It's a sanitised version in which there are no impediments on your way to any treatment, nobody suffers any consequences, nobody has depression, and of course you come out of it looking like a dolly-bird. It seems now that the media can no longer pick on us they are choosing to smother us in Human Interest.
    A week ago an inquest was held into the death of a transgender person who had been hit by a train last November. You might have heard of her: the Scrabble champion Mikki Nicholson.
    Mikki committed suicide after suffering much public harassment for being transgender. Her case is sadly nothing unusual, I am sure readers will be aware of many others.
    So I'm afraid that Jenner, Lees, Maloney et al are tainted for me. The media who are patting themselves on the back for being so inclusive and sensitive have blood on their hands. They are the same scum who fomented an atmosphere in which it was acceptable to push people like Lucy Meadowes and Mikki Nicholson to suicide, and now they're acting as though none of that happened and they're the Transgender Person's Best friend.

     Screw 'em I say, and screw anyone whose desire for self-publicity is so strong they're prepared to forget all that and get into bed with them. They don't speak for me, and never will.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Goin' home

    My sister thinks I'm regressing into my childhood.
    She's come to this conclusion because I've moved back to my parents house, a place she detached herself from about thirty years ago by moving up north but which I who have always stayed in this corner of Southern England have retained a connection with.
    It's odd, moving back in when you're in your forties. It's not the same place of course. My mum's gone, it's just me and my dad. Plenty of small farm stuff to do, same trials of rural existence on the edge. At times it can seem rather isolating. Rather important then that I can escape to my local hackspace when I need a peer group.
    Meanwhile, bashing away at the startup. Sometimes working on a startup can seem a pointless task when you're developing a product without customers yet. I have a fairly hefty computer upstairs that is completely maxed-out processing text, the odd thing is though while it's doing the job I am at something of a loose end except for maintaining my political corpus. I can only wait for it to finish its mammoth task.
    Data-mining huge bodies of text for a living can sometimes produce unexpected diversions. Remember the Enron scandal? As part of the legal aftermath of one of the biggest corporate frauds in history the company's emails were subpoenaed and are thus in the public domain. The resulting corpus is of huge value to social and linguistic researchers because it offers a rare chance to study relationships and language at a large corporation. When I added it to my pile of text I found myself reading the mailboxes of some of the main players. Like stage magicians spinning plates on sticks, desperately trying to preserve the image of stability as the whole ship went down. Uncomfortably familiar to me, at several points in the past I've worked for companies going under, though fortunately not due to fraud.
    Moving has in a way brought closure; no longer having the flat in town with all its comforts but also its spectres. New doctor with whom I'll have my check-in appointment next week, though I'll be lucky if I've received a note from my endocrinologist by then.
    So yeah, childhood. The past is another country, and not one I want to return to.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Women's Hour, 1975 edition

    Just when you think things are getting better, back it all slides.

    On Radio 4 Women's Hour this morning they were looking at women's issues facing people in ethnic minorities. They're very passionate about balance and free speech on Radio 4, so in the studio they had a black feminist to talk about her experiences and a pasty white bloke from the Far Right party who was there to tell the audience about the Jewish Plot, and how everyone not like him should be Sent Home.

    Sounds pretty implausible, doesn't it. And you're right, I just made it up. The BBC would no more have a member of any far-right party on Women's Hour than they would have a two-hour retrospective on all the good works of Jimmy Savile, with special emphasis on his work with children. Oh, wait...

    Unfortunately though this morning's Wonen's Hour did have a piece on the reported rise in British children seeking help with their gender identity issues. So who did they have on, perhaps a child psychologist speaking as an expert on the medical aspects of dealing with young gender identity patients?

    Nope. Not a chance. Instead they had a radical feminist in the studio, and turned the whole thing into an unsubtle go at non-cis gender identities and at gender identity help for children.

    Sadly for them they had rather put their foot in it before a second of audio had hit the airwaves, by trying to get a non-binary activist to come on to prop up their anti-trans agenda. Perhaps that should serve as a bit of a sign that you're going astray, when you're trying to put together a programme and the people you approach won't touch you with a bargepole? Not if you're the Women's Hour team it seems.

    Women's Hour has always seen itself as an institution at the heart of feminism. It has often produced very interesting and good quality radio. My spoof about the fascist talking on an ethnic minority piece was a spoof only in the fascist, they have been unafraid to tackle issues which other programmes would prefer to push under the carpet.

    But you can only remain at the heart of something if you stay in touch with it. It is pretty obvious that the Women's Hour producers' hearts lie in their youth in the 1970s and 80s rather than the second decade of the twenty first century, and that they have sadly lost touch.

    I probably share several definitions with my spoof fascist above. I'm white, British, middle class. But I would not take him at face value for a radio show just because I share that with him. It's a lesson the Women's Hour producers should take to heart: just because someone defines themselves as a feminist doesn't mean they're someone you'd want to be seen associating with.