More Money and Stress Saving Options For Politicians

By the argument of several European political parties and countries by allowing Syrians the option of leaving their country and moving to Europe we are causing the problem.

Surely we can apply this genius concept to many other troubling areas. For instance by offering child abuse victims the option of reporting their abusers and being able to leave the situation or be protected in some way by social workers we are causing untold numbers of children to do so leading to great expense in dealing with the allegations and trauma in those forced to hear about the terrible offences. If we were just to make it clear that we do not want to know and there is no recourse or aid they would just shut up and leave us alone to pretend it wasn’t happening.

This could surely also be applied to adult abuse victims, the poor and disabled etc and before we know it we will have solved the “debt crisis” all together and have successfully retreated back to the 1800s where we can presumably start Empire building again and feel big, rich and important all day long.

Or am I missing the point?

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Space, The Final Frontier

I often say I never knew what I wanted to be as a kid. It occurs to me that’s not true at all. I just didn’t think I could be what I wanted to be. I wanted to be a fighter pilot or an astronaut.

You might think that as a woman growing up in 80s/90s Scotland I didn’t think I could be those things because I was female. But actually until I was in my 30s I didn’t think much about feminism because never in my life had it occurred to me that being female meant I couldn’t do exactly what I wanted to. In fact you might say that the loud modern existence of feminism had made me feel much more restricted than being female every did.

Don’t get me wrong. I am a feminist. I think these discussions are important and the research backs up the existence of the issue. But personally I was minimally impacted by it,  possibly cause I always assumed it was me personally that any issue was directed at rather than my gender,  which I don’t think I every massively connected with.

But I came here to talk about ambition and about space. I would estimate that 20-30% of my dreams are set in space,  which is a lot given I’ve never been there. I spent a lot of time reading and watching scifi from an early age. And I absolutely wanted to be a five pilot and/or astronaut. But around the age of 13 I started needing glasses and within a few years I was quite badly short sighted. And in the early 90s you could not be a fighter pilot or an astronaut (who seemed to mostly be pilots) if you didn’t have 20/20 vision.

So I knew I couldn’t be that. Literally couldn’t. You can’t study your eyes back to 20/20. I thought about being an astrophysicist (which I knew was a thing you could study cause my maths teacher had done it). I wasn’t really sold on it cause I didn’t really know what it was, I mixed it up a lot with astronomy. And physics and maths were both really hard and I thought you were only good at things and supposed to do them if you didn’t have to try at them. I also thought you were just supposed to know things without asking about them or it meant you were stupid.

There were a lot of things I didn’t understand about life when I was 16 and making all these decisions.

I dropped out of maths and physics in 6th year cause they were hard and took biology and geography instead with no real goal in mind other than the thought that I found those subjects really easy so that meant I should do them.

I wonder what would have happened if I’d had 20/20 vision.

The Statistics of Accidental Death wih Reference to 7/7

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Why do so many people have a story of how they were nearly caught up in 7/7 or 9/11? I’ve been guilty of it myself with 9/11. A tendency to over relate to a story that in reality didn’t involve most of us. A tendency that plays into the atmosphere of fear these events hope to create and ignores the statistics. Though I think it is often more to do with our tendency to want to be part of the group discussion than any real fear that we could have been killed.

A lot of people died in both events, but statistically speaking a tiny number of people died. 52 people died in the 7/7 bombings, but the total of people in 3 full tube trains and 1 double decker bus would have been far far more. It is estimated 4000 people were directly exposed to the explosions in some way, of approximately 500,000 people travelling at rush hour. So only 0.8% of people travelling were in any danger, only 0.15% were injured and only 0.01% died.

So what is my point? It wasn’t you, it wasn’t even likely to be you. Even if you hadn’t run 10 minutes late, or left your wallet at home and gone back for it, or taken a different bus from usual. Yes, the people who died were just like you, but let’s remember them and their trauma instead of attempting to hang a little of our own on a hook that doesn’t belong to us.

And let’s stay realistic about the perils of life. We live in a phenomenally safe country, you are more at risk from your tendency to eat too many sweets and sit on your sofa instead of going for a walk than you are from terrorism, or indeed any other form of accidental death.

11,000-12,000 people every year die accidentally (out of 53 million people in England, so 0.02% of the population). The biggies being traffic accidents, falling down/over/off things, accidental poisoning (inc drugs and alcohol) and self harm/suicide. Almost half of “accidental” deaths (about 5,800 in 2011) are via self harm or suicide. Add that to being clumsy on stairs and eating/drinking things you shouldn’t and you are a far far bigger danger to yourself than any terrorist.

Thoughts on a Referendum

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I’ve had 4 hours of sleep, went to bed at 6am with only three regions still to declare.

My main thought is general. Referendums give people an experience of actual choice. They mobilise a population that wants to be political but feels disenfranchised by elections where individual votes rarely matter except in a few specific areas and where many of the biggest political parties involved feel as if they are too similar. The idea that people don’t care has been proven a lie. It should be standard practice to run regular referendums on important/larger issues to keep the population active, involved and aware… unless of course that isn’t what you actually want?

My second thought is this… 45% of voters in Scotland opted for a massively risky and revolutionary option with a turnout of 84.5% of the registered population. The last government that had 45% or more support of the electorate was in 1970, every government since then has had a lower level of overall support by voters. The last election that had a turnout equal or higher was … well not one election going back to 1945 had that size of turnout, there was 83.9% in 1950. In the last general election only 65.1% of the electorate bothered, and in 2001 we hit a low of 59.4%. This is in every way an enormous result for independence, so much so I find it hard to consider it a defeat for the Yes campaign. The very fact that it could have gone yes, that any areas at all in Scotland, let alone large population areas like Glasgow, shows how real this desire is.

The No vote won by just under 400,000 votes. One thing crosses my mind. In 2011 there were nearly 1 million (883,519) people living in Scotland who were born in other countries and around 1 million people who were born in Scotland who live outside of the country. If the vote had been held only among those who would be Scottish nationals, automatically eligible for a Scottish passport from birth, would the result have been the same?

I’ve tried to do a bit of statistical analysis using the %age no vote related to the %age non-Scots by region using the 2011 census results. I am slightly hampered by having paid zero attention in any of the very few statistics classes I have ever been in. Apparently a correlation coefficient will always fall between 1 and -1 with -1 being a negative correlation and +1 being a positive correlation. My figures show 0.03 which is positive but pretty minimal I admit. However knowing nothing I present the actual figures for your interest at the end of the article.

The question is how would non-domiciled Scots have voted? Is it even possible to get a reliable figure? Have there been any polls on this figure?

However I would like to make it clear I don’t think there was any correct definitive way to do this. In this referendum non-Scots who had only been in Scotland a short period of time had a vote while Scots who had not long moved away and may only have intended to be out of the country for a few years got no vote. But if only Scots “nationals” could have voted then people who had lived most of their lives in Scotland and had no intention of leaving would have been disenfranchised and Scots who may have spent only a few childhood years at home then emigrated permanently would have had a say. And the logistics of an in between position may have been prohibitive. But that doesn’t mean the question isn’t interesting given the numbers involved.

Graph below is %age non-Scots on the  vertical axis and %age No votes on horizontal axis.

temp

AREA VOTES YES NO %age non-Scots (2011)
East Ayrshire 99664 47.22% 52.78% 2.26%
North Ayrshire 113923 48.99% 51.01% 2.49%
Inverclyde 62481 49.92% 50.08% 2.61%
Eilean Siar 22908 46.58% 53.42% 2.90%
North Lanarkshire 268704 51.07% 48.93% 3.00%
West Dunbartonshire 71109 53.96% 46.04% 3.13%
Orkney Islands 17806 32.80% 67.20% 3.32%
South Lanarkshire 261157 45.33% 54.67% 3.39%
South Ayrshire 94881 42.13% 57.87% 3.40%
Dumfries & Galloway 122036 34.33% 65.67% 3.47%
Falkirk 122457 46.53% 53.47% 3.63%
Midlothian 69617 43.70% 56.30% 4.03%
Clackmannanshire 39972 46.20% 53.80% 4.17%
East Dunbartonshire 86836 38.80% 61.20% 4.29%
Renfrewshire 134735 47.19% 52.81% 4.29%
Angus 93551 43.68% 56.32% 4.50%
East Renfrewshire 72981 36.81% 63.19% 4.81%
Argyll & Bute 72002 41.48% 58.52% 4.88%
Shetland Islands 18516 36.29% 63.71% 5.06%
Moray 75170 42.44% 57.56% 5.23%
Scottish Borders 95533 33.44% 66.56% 5.23%
East Lothian 81945 38.28% 61.72% 5.32%
West Lothian 138226 44.82% 55.18% 5.62%
Fife 302165 44.95% 55.05% 5.67%
Highland 190778 47.08% 52.92% 5.67%
Aberdeenshire 206486 39.64% 60.36% 5.95%
Perth & Kinross 120015 39.81% 60.19% 6.97%
Stirling 69033 40.23% 59.77% 7.09%
Dundee City 118729 57.35% 42.65% 9.00%
Glasgow 486219 53.49% 46.51% 12.24%
Edinburgh 378012 38.90% 61.10% 15.88%
Aberdeen City 175745 41.39% 58.61% 15.91%

The Bucket List

For some reason today I was thinking about Bucket Lists and accomplishment.

There’s something about a Bucket List that I dislike, there is some implication in it that I am not living my life to the full, that I need a list of things I haven’t done to go and accomplish to make me a better, happier and more awesome person.

Well I have discovered a short cut to the stress, insecurity and expense of fulfiling your bucket list requirements. Write your list using only amazing things you have already accomplished that you think are the sort of thing someone might put on their bucket list.

Ta da, you have a bucket list, you’ve already finished it, you are therefore a success at life and can die without the stain on your ego of having failed to complete said list.

And I suggest also that when you compose your list in your head or perhaps write it on a bit of paper, you don’t bother sharing it. on facebook or twitter. Cause the people on your facebook and twitter are either your friends and loved ones who already know you’re awesome and have achieved brilliant things or they are completely irrelevant.

Let me make this clear once more, anyone who does not think you are awesome is not your friend and does not matter. Let me clarify that. Your friends may think you are bit of a twat when you’re drunk, they may totally disagree with your opinion on Star Wars, they may still not have forgiven you for that really funny joke where you locked them out of the flat until 5am and they may be patiently waiting for you to grow the fuck up when it comes to relationships, but they should still think you’re awesome and not require any sort of constant stream of exciting, exotic and sexy accomplishments to keep up your street cred.

And every time we feel like we need to post something like that we should remind ourselves, this is not really about them, it’s about us and our own insecurities.

So I have written my list, in my head, and despite extreme temptation to demand approval for my awesomeoness. I am not going to post any of it. But it is awesome, I swear.

Remember (poem)

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Just because something was good
 doesn’t mean it could last forever
Just because something was real
 doesn’t mean it ran deep and true
Just because love can turn sour
 doesn’t mean it was never sweet
Just because someone can be cruel
 doesn’t mean they were never kind
Just because it burns like fire
 doesn’t mean it will consume you
Just because we were mistaken
 doesn’t mean we were a mistake
Just because there’s no more words
 doesn’t mean there’s nothing to say
Just because it’s in the past
 doesn’t mean that it’s ever over
Just because something is lost
 doesn’t mean it can’t return
Just because something can return
 doesn’t mean that it ever will
Just because you might forgive
 doesn’t mean you must forget
Just because your heart got broken
 Just because our hearts got broken

What has love got to do with it?

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(this isn’t an old draft, I wrote this new and then got annoyed at all the old drafts kicking around, I’ve now edited the publish date on the old drafts to yesterday so this will appear first)

Am I doing it wrong? Am I expecting too much?

For me, I think, where is that person that I can’t take my eyes off, that makes my heart swell every time I even hold their hand and that feels the same way about me. That would walk through fire for me, that would never doubt their love for me, no matter what I said, no matter how hard it got. That would never give up no matter how much it hurt or how frightened they were by how it felt. That always wanted to know what I thought even if it didn’t suit them. That’s what I expect of myself in love, is it wrong to expect that of someone else?

I look at the people I’ve felt that way about and how far they’ve been from the mark. How their allegiances have always been elsewhere, how low on their priorities I’ve actually been, how in the end they didn’t want to know what I thought. But they’re the ones I’ve felt that way about, that driving need to be near them, to make them happy.

What has love been to you? What similarities have you seen through your relationships? What has made the difference between reality and fantasy? What holds you with someone while others fall away and what drives you back?

I think about the men I have loved and I wonder about each of them, would I want them here with me now. Would they make me feel loved, supported, safe? And I regretfully answer, no. Each one of them prioritised themselves over me, saw what they wanted to see and not what was actually there, and in the end what they wanted was to get more than they were willing to give.

I’d choose a myriad of my friends to sit in this room with me over that handful of men. Friends whom I can trust to see me as amazing and important even when they’re having a hard time too. I don’t need to run to them begging for support because I already know it’s there. Friends who would never describe me as needy because they’ve never made me feel like their friendship is conditional.

Why is it so easy for our friends to support us and so hard for our lovers or is it only the lovers that I pick?

I don’t ask rhetorically, I want to know what love has been like for you?

Want

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(and the final old draft, all of these are over or around a year old whatever the date stamp on them from publishing may say)

I’ve been writing every day since my last post and before that. But finding a solid post with a purpose and a beginning and end that hasn’t descended into overly personal and pointless info is easier said than done.

What do I want to say and why do I want to say it and who do I want to say it to?

That I have a lot to say is certainly true, though a lot of it is repetitive. A battle is being waged inside my head between what I need and what I want, what I’m in the habit of doing and what I should be doing, what’s right and what’s wrong and what’s pointless and what’s important.

Between who I want to be and who I am.

Between my strengths and my weaknesses.

Between whether I can exist in myself or only by the acceptance of others.

What do I want to say? I want to yell at the people who’ve upset me until I’ve no voice left. I want to tell them exactly what I think of them and why. And I can’t. Because it will fix nothing, accomplish nothing. It won’t even make me feel better because I’ll say things that are true for me and not for them and I’ll say things that might not be true at all and they’ll say things back that’ll make me feel like a bad person and I’ll already feel like a bad person for saying anything in the first place cause I was brought up not to stand up for myself, not to show anger, not to be difficult or confrontational. And besides what I really want is for them to turn round and go yes, you’re absolutely right, we were unfair and unkind and inconsiderate and selfish in how we behaved. We thought we understood everything and we didn’t and we should have given you more of a chance to explain things and talk instead of making assumptions and cutting you out. We were disloyal and cowardly. You didn’t fail at poly, we did. And that is never going to happen.

I’m more likely to get that diamond pony than that.

And this is why asking ourselves what we want isn’t always useful. Of course you can always delve deeper. What is it I really want? But I already know that and basics are only vaguely relevant. I want to feel important and special. I don’t want to be ignored or disregarded or pushed aside by other showier pushier people. I want to feel safe, I want to feel cared for and I want to be able to look after people back. I want trust, loyalty and reliability from my friends and lovers.

So what am I fighting? I’m fighting the need to be loyal and loving to people that I no longer should be that way towards. There’s a strong line of not giving up on crappy relationships in my family, of holding decades long candles for people who’ve treated us badly and don’t deserve to still be thought of that way. Some feeling that says that being the wronged one who still cares for their persecutor somehow makes you a good person. Like jesus loving the world while dying on a cross. Bollocks to that I say. Unfortunately such early programming cannot be beaten by mere words no matter how much you think it’s a load of shite.

It’s also inherently selfish, as is most behaviour. It’s not about the other person, they’re over it, they don’t need you. It’s about what I need/want. I want to be the wronged one, somehow it feels like if I just get over it I’m a bad person. That I’m fickle, uncaring, how can it be love if you don’t die of a broken heart from it? Also it feels like giving that last bit of control away. I had no control over losing the relationship, the only bit of it that can’t be taken away from me is how I felt about him. And that was what he most wanted me to stop feeling, he wanted me to not care, to not react, to not get upset. So I’m strung over a barrel. I want to get over it and go on with my life, but he wants me to do that and part of getting over it is not doing what he wants me to do anymore. I don’t want to get over it almost to spite him. There’s a moral high ground to caring for someone more than they care about you.

No Control

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(another old draft that never made it out, I won’t have it, everything is getting either deleted or posted)

I am struggling again with focusing on anything other than my ex and the break up. Since I saw him unexpectedly a week ago I’m back to a restless uneasy pull towards him. Feeling that things shouldn’t be like this, that it should just be able to dissolve away as the silly misunderstanding it all was. I wish I had the experience to know if this was what I’d normally be like after a break up, although as with everything I get the sense it doesn’t actually matter. It’s just steps in the long haul towards being able to feel someone very important to you doesn’t matter at all. And I fight it because I can’t bear the idea of making someone unimportant, it feels like such a horrible negative thing to do. Everyone should be important. Also cause my self is still tied up with him trying to make him and my feelings for him not important feels like making myself less important too.

Then on top of that I just miss him. I spend a lot of time trying to focus on the things that weren’t perfect in the relationship to persuade myself losing him was for the best, so it doesn’t hurt so much. But the truth is I was very happy, though he thought I wasn’t, and leaving or losing him was the last thing I wanted. All the trying to be angry and focus on the negatives is simply the only way I know how to make it bearable that someone I loved walked suddenly and unexpectedly away and despite my best efforts to stop him he seemed relieved to be out of it and to have no interest in getting back in.

What bothers me most about it comes and goes, but circles around a few basic things.

1. That people I thought liked me suddenly stopped liking me and as far as I can tell it was probably cause I stopped self censoring as much around them as I had been, in other words I was trying to be more me and they didn’t like me. They didn’t want to know what I was thinking or feeling, they liked me being quiet and cooperative and fitting in and not being a bother. It’s a huge self negation and it’s hard to move past.

2. That I felt I had no control over what happened, that people weren’t telling me what was really going on but discussing things without me while making assumptions about what I thought and felt.

As in all interactions I think you have to seek balance to be safe. If you don’t feel more or less the same level of care for someone you are in an unsafe position. So if someone has moved you from important to not important and isn’t going to change that back you need to be able to match that as swiftly as possible.

But it’s hard because the whole thing took me so very off guard. The events keep coming back to me with the same feelings of bewilderment and unreality that they did at the time.

I understand where I am now and bits of why and that there’s not much of anything that can be done about it. But most of all I feel like I had no control over what happened and that’s what brings me back to it most. The feeling of helplessness. They say people deal best with things that are predictable and allow them to feel in control, no matter how bad they are, and are most damaged by things that are unpredictable and make them feel helpless and out of control.

It’s an interesting argument, it certainly makes sense to me. All the anxiety, not understanding what was happening or why or what I was supposed to do about it. Feeling helpless and confused and afraid because I didn’t understand what was going on with people or why, so had no way of knowing what they were going to do or say next. Behaving in ways that made it worse because of that, but not feeling able to stop because of the confusion and what felt like random emotional attacks and not really knowing what I was trying to do to fix it cause I didn’t really understand what was actually wrong.

When you feel like you have no control you keep looking for the control. Where did I get to make a decision? Where did I have a choice? Can I somehow turn it into feeling like I had some control? Without control you’re in the realm of the unknown and we all know the fear that comes with the unknown.

But I didn’t have any control. It all happened out of my hands and without my knowledge and I suspect it was largely over before I even had half a clue what was happening and all the scrambling I did to try and understand and fix things was as futile as the kid who’s trying to keep their parents together and thinks they can have any effect when they don’t understand what’s really going on.

I don’t understand how or when I went from trusted to untrusted. I don’t know how or when I went from welcome to unwelcome. I don’t know what I did to make people so unhappy they wanted to get away from me and protect themselves from me by pushing me away. All I know is it mostly happened before I knew anything was going on. While I was wondering how best to integrate my life around my relationship, what would work best for everyone, and looking forward to finding out how it was all going to work, I was somehow being misinterpreted and edged out of the picture behind the scenes.

What I do think is that I misunderstood what was wanted of me. I tried to do what I thought was right but I was working from the wrong set of rules with the wrong idea of what we were trying to achieve. I was trying to create a life with people when I think I was supposed to see things as a nice but ultimately dispensable sideline.

The end of my relationship was one of the most surreal things that’s every happened to me cause it came about at a point when I was feeling very confident in the permanence of the relationship. Up there in shock value with my fathers death and being thrown out of the states the same day as 911. The latter was the least surreal of the three. I knew there was a chance things would go wrong on the states front cause my boss hadn’t got his shit together on the paperwork front and as for 911, I’m good at big disasters. I find them oddly explicable and I feel in control through the fact that no-one else has any more control than I do. Also the complete inability to affect what’s happened gives me a strange sense of safety, there is absolutely no way I could prevent something like 911 or a tidal wave or an earthquake. There is no what could I have done, what could I have changed.

My fathers death was like a cross between the two. It had the same uncontrollable inevitability as a natural disaster. No-one could have seen it coming, no-one could have stopped it, if someone had been there it wouldn’t have made any difference. The sense of loss was more like my break up though, but there was no going over things looking for answers, no guilt or confusion or anxiety or blame. Just simple sorrow.

It may seem strange to say that my break up is harder to deal with than my fathers death, but anyone who was around me for both will know that it’s true. I’m aware that the pain from one will last far longer than the other, but there were only brief moments when the pain of my fathers death was as intense as the loss of my relationship and it was under control in a very short period of time. Because at all points in my fathers death I knew what was happening and I knew I was doing what I was meant to do and there was nothing more I could do. And because my dad didn’t choose to leave me and everyone in my family pulled together and did the best they could to support everyone else.

So what do you do about a situation in which you feel you had no control? I don’t have an answer.

I’m not sure there is an answer. Just like a kid who can’t change things or make things better cause they can’t actually affect the situation, it is totally out of their hands. I’m not a kid, but in this situation I’ve also not been able to take equal participation in the decisions made. Nobody told me anything was wrong till it was really wrong and even then noone sat down and tried to talk to me about it or explain it. I was dropped in the middle of a crisis with no warning it was brewing.

I don’t know how to let it go and stop worrying over it, resenting it, wanting back my chance to be heard and included and react to things knowing what’s actually going on.

When your life goes out of your control so does your ability to deal with things. And you get hurt far more than you would otherwise. I guess it’s our job to try to stay on top of things, but I’m not sure there’s an answer to how to deal with it when things get away from you. I guess you just keep trying to figure things out until you feel like you know where you are again.

I gave up too much control, I thought I was safe to. I thought I was in a safe space and maybe also I was lazy and didn’t want to rock the boat. A lot of what’s hard to deal with is being back where I started, the culture shock of spending a year living a different life and suddenly having it all evaporate. I didn’t like being alone before, I like it even less having not been. I can’t have back what I had. I don’t know how to look forward to finding it somewhere else.

Having no control has left me more anxious than before.

Strength

(another old draft)

I’ve been accused on the odd occasion of being strong, I’ve even bandied around the concept that I might be myself. Let me be frank, I am not. The occasions when I’ve been accused of being so can be split into two categories. Men telling me I’m strong as an excuse for them not wanting to deal with being emotionally supportive and friends telling me I’m strong in the vague hope that saying it will make it so.

I am many things, strong is not one of them. I am flexible, incapable of entirely giving up no matter how hopeless I feel, forgiving, and changeable enough that no matter how weak I am a lot of the time I will always have strong days.