Thursday, 16 February 2017

happy outcomes

another day at the office
As a fully paid up member of the all powerful Trans Cabal, I rarely trouble myself with the outraged squeakings of the oppressed and marginalised hacks who bravely fly the flag for the anti-trans resistance in such dark and unfrequented corners of the digital world as the pages of the Daily Mail. Take, for instance, Belinda Brown, author of 'The Private Revolution' and a number of well-cited academic papers. More recently, she has started writing and blogging for The Daily Mail and The Conservative Woman. She has a particular interest in men's issues and the damage caused by feminism. Her appearance in the magazine Student Voices ("independent journalism, news and comment from students on politics and more") may provoke surprise, but the sad, tired tropes will not, in a piece entitled "We Need to Talk About the Transgender Movement."

Hey where are all the social justice, no platforming, snowflakes I imagine I am arguing against?! she asks. Getting on with their lives, probably, Belinda. When you encounter a shouty drunk in a bus station, you just keep walking, after all.

Let's unpick one small item from this piece, though; for many children, Brown claims, gender confusion is a condition which resolves. And for those who go so far as to opt for surgery the outcomes are surprisingly poor. She is vague about the numbers here, and rightly so, because there are few quantitative studies - few reputable ones anyway - and those that exist run counter to this assertion. It is true that some children explore their gender identities and either revert to or continue to identify as that assigned them. Which is all fine and dandy; as are the cases of those who identify as the gender opposite that assigned them, and continue to do so, and those who just want to play fast and loose with the whole gender thang. But let's look at 'those who go so far as to opt for surgery'. How do we quantify that 'surprisingly poor' outcome? It is as woolly as fellow Daily Mail writer Julie Bindel's assertion that 'a number of transsexuals are beginning to admit that opting for surgery ruined their lives'. 

It is a regularly iterated claim, though, that there is a large and growing number of 'sex change survivors'. This claim has no basis in fact. Dr Stuart Lorimer recently took to Twitter to put some numbers out. In 15 years, he says, he has personally seen over 4000 gender dysphoric people; and he's personally seen 10-15 'regretters'. His colleagues report similar figures. As he points out, this is not a formal study, but these are far more reliable figures than any on offer elsewhere. (Further myths about transition regrets are debunked in this article by Brynn Tannehill). The clear inference being that medical intervention in cases of transsexuality is overwhelmingly successful.

It is unfortunate that these myths are trotted out in some feminist circles too, either by people with an anti-trans agenda, or by 'useful idiots' who take the words on trust because they come from Big Names. We all tend towards confirmation bias, I know, but laziness of thinking and a lack of intellectual curiosity can be damaging and discreditable. We should be on the same side, surely. 




Sunday, 5 February 2017

bog eyed fox


A fortnight on, and the ice is long gone from the canal. In the mornings, the valley is full of the sound of mistle thrushes singing. Over the last few days, the chaffinches have been warming up their songs, with a few faltering starts, and then finally the full repertoire, which is admittedly not a very large one in the case of chaffinches; still, it's their song, and good for them.

Boat Teenager came over for my birthday, and we popped over to Melksham to check out the charity shops. A junk shop had heaps of old galvanised iron farm gear out at the front. We went in for a look around. The shopkeeper told us that she gets her stuff from France, where they don't value old stuff like we do. I remembered a time in the Correze, when I was working for an architect feller on one of his houses there. We were there with his scouse building team, who were always good for a laugh, and always out of their depth in rural places; huddling together in one room to sleep, worried about cries in the night- "What the FUCCHHH was that!" "A fox, Jimmy, don't worry"

mind you, if it'd been this fox I'd've been startled too.
This was in the shop in Melksham
...on this farm in Correze they came scampering out of a cellar as fast as their little legs could carry them, having found a monster. I investigated; it was a salamander, and v striking its colours were too.
Anyway, we went to the farm next door where they were demolishing a 16th century cottage to make room for an extension to the cattle shed. We enthusiastically pulled antique stuff from the wreckage. The farmer thought we were potty, and he may well have been right.

Back then to Melksham. I bought an enamelled tin candle holder because I'm a sucker for that sort of thing.

Back on the canal, a call went out on the Facebook grapevine; a boat moored down on the river Avon in Bath had lost a couple of lines in the recent floods, and was in peril. So I cycled down to help out, stopping to photograph the Cormorant Tree near Bathampton. Where do they nest, I wonder?


Adrian was there on the same mission; we lassooed the tiller and hauled it over so that the boat came alongside the wall, and he went down the ladder and added some ropes.


Then Wes, whose boat it is, turned up and went down to bale out the water.... while we watched, a kingfisher flew across and landed right below us. 


...and flew away again in a bright blue flash, far too quickly for me to take a photo. But another one stopped for me as I cycled home.


Sunday, 22 January 2017

the Canal Ice Scale


It struck me, when we were bickering about whether it was OK to move your boat in the ice, over on the K&A Facebook group (as you do), that it would be handy to have a means of describing the thickness of the ice on the canal, in a manner similar to the Beaufort Scle for wind, or even the Bristol Scale for poo (but let's not go there, eh?)

So here we are; the Canal Ice Scale.

Saturday, 14 January 2017

walking in Westwood



Pity the poor boater, when the nor'westers hurl snow along the icy towpath and no comfort is to be found:

Calde geþrungen  wæron mine fet,
forste gebunden    calde clommum

Step inside, though, and you'll find that we're actually toasty warm, especially Miss P, who came to visit for a couple of days and was cheerfully settled in front of the stove.
Well, I say cheerfully....


can I help you with that bacon butty? Please?

But you can't spend all your time being cosy. So as the dawn began to make itself known, we crossed Smelly Bridge and headed up the hill. In the moonlight, the concrete lagoons of the sewage station looked like fresh-built raths, or possibly a ziggurat raised to a rather peculiar deity.

Up on the hill the glacial wind had sculpted and combed the tussocks into pale, transient roches moutonees. The moon was setting over Winsley, and as the morning sky lightened, the hills glowed with their powdering of snow. It was that perfect moment when everything is luminous and shining, just before the night abdicates the sky.

..but we were plunging back into the darkness of the woods, where fallen trees overhung the path and a grey squirrel screeched its alarm call. The ground is uneven and interspersed with hollows and sudden lumps of rock; like the Scowles in the Forest of Dean, though less emphatic. I guess that quarrying once took place here; there are underground quarries all around here. Somewhere beneath us was a former Royal Enfield factory...


As we emerged onto the lane and slid down the hill to the aqueduct, a robin thawed out its song and tried a few phrases.  


Presently, the sun rose and the joggers came by. Presently, generators were starting up on the moored boats. And it was time to chop some wood.


Monday, 2 January 2017

fox and bells


or the Baghdad cock to cruise,
the hillside fox is simply
joining in to hail the new.

(as videos go, it's a bit deficient on the visuals, but hey, I am moored in deep woodland...)

Dusk at Bradford on Avon

Thursday, 22 December 2016

hobo's Christmas



Here's Guy Calhoun's Christmas song. Apart from it being v good, it's also raising money for homeless people. So listen! And maybe do some buying. You can get a download here, and it's only 99p. Go on!

Here's a link to other songs that are both good and, er, good, if you see what I mean...

Thursday, 15 December 2016

gently dip, but not too deep

What with the floating market, towing an engineless boat around, fixing engines, and doing some work for my printer friends in Bristol, it's been a busy couple of weeks. Here are a few pictures.