kaberett: Euphorbia cf. serrata, green crown of leaves/flowers central to image. (spurge)
I decided this morning that I was sufficiently upset about the vile autism-bashing in a panel description to send an e-mail about it. Within two hours I'd had an actually useful response. Details below the cut!

Read more... )
kaberett: Stylized volcano against a stormy sky, with streams of lava running down its sides. (volcano)
Just in my inbox. Emphasis mine: I am feeling extremely cynical about what it takes to get a dude in a position of power to make that kind of a statement...
Dear colleagues
I'm calling for information from the broad community about bad rock coring damage.

Many important sites are being devastated by this practice and it's bringing our science into disrepute. So I'm raising this as chair of the Geological Society of London's Geoconservation Committee - hopefully to guide approaches to reduce the problem. I know this is not just a UK problem .... There is however a spate of this going on in the NW Highlands at the moment. I also know there's been discussion on this list about bad rock sampling practice. So let's try to stamp this out together....

I'm sure many of you will be dismayed to see the attachment here of rock-coring damage to this famous outcrop of the sub-Torridonian unconformity adjacent to Loch Assynt, in NW Scotland. This location is visited by many hundreds students every year and is a key location in the NW Highlands Geopark. The local officers are dismayed about this. The outcrop is on land owned by the John Muir trust - a major conservation organisation (http://www.jmt.org/vision.asp).
Doing collecting like this is equivalent to stealing birds eggs or butterflies. Can you imagine archeologists being allowed to drill into the megaliths of Stonehenge etc? It's a question of ethics and must stop. Geologists in general risk being viewed as having no regard for their environment. So our various conservation and public awareness campaigns and initiatives may become less well-regarded or ignored.

Other sites in NW Scotland that have been attacked in this way include designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest that are protected by law - so such coring is a criminal act. Pleading ignorance is no defence! They include a lot of the classic outcrops of Durness limestone around Durness itself and eastern Eriboll and the Scourie dykes at Scourie More. Not to mention virtually every one of the dykes forming part of the Tertiary swarm at Elgol on Skye.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not against rock coring itself - but it can be done better - such by excavating parts of outcrops then recovering them. Even then the holes should be refilled - and ideally finished off with the outcrop face off-cut of the core all bonded with a resilient, weather-proof cement - to leave the least visible trace of the activity. Going after the best, most visited and previously photogenic sites is reprehensible. There are plenty of good-practice guides around that could be consulted... and applied (e.g. www.geologistsassociation.org.uk/downloads/GARockCoringGuide.pdf).

So - what to do? Too often we discuss and report these as individual incidents. It's time to gather information more widely. Of course it's not just members of the tectonics community who are responsible - and so please pass on this request for information to colleagues.
And send me images (really not at not too large a file size: to [e-mail address]) - with some location specifics. If you can tie these examples of damage to specific publications that have arisen from them - then you might like to send me the link to the paper too. Although I'm specifically interested in auditing the extent of the problem through the UK - - please also share examples from elsewhere in the world.
Once we know what's going on, then we can work out better strategies to educate those who do this kind of thing - and promote better practice.

Many thanks

kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
Interestingly, this is one of the relatively few things my father got right in bringing us up - for values of "right" that do not include "actually expressing it well or compassionately", in that he tended to phrase it not as "intent isn't magic" but "intent doesn't matter".

I think this plays into some of what I've been working through. To use the treading-on-toes example, how badly something affects me has two components: the direct physical effect ("someone trod on my toe") and my emotional response ("and I'd repeatedly told this specific person that it's currently broken, and trusted them to be careful of that" has very different impact to "and they're a stranger on the tube").

Intent can't fix the direct damage (it isn't magic), but can be taken into account in modulating the emotional response of the person suffering it (intent can matter). However, whether it matters and how much it matters is entirely up to the person damaged: it does not automatically absolve the person who caused the damage.

It's about agency and respect and all that good stuff.
kaberett: A series of phrases commonly used in academic papers, accompanied by humourous "translations". (science!)
Expanded on for [personal profile] swaldman. I'd kinda hoped I'd feel like expanding on it in actual words, but I appear to be pushing myself a bit too hard for that at the moment, so you get this (though by all means ask me questions in comments, because that lets me have the social interaction without the inventiveness.)

The short version is: I don't give a shit about the human impact of my research. Not even a tiny one. I full-stop do not care. I mean, I think oil and mining are unethical so I'm not willing to do them, but that's more out of concern for my mountains that it is out of feeling for my fellow man. I did climate science only reluctantly because so much of it is focussed on people; my uncle, who visited the place before it had to be evacuated due to volcanism, is gently horrified by my attitude to Montserrat.

Whereas in my activism I care very, very little about the long game of trying to tear down our societal structure as a whole and rebuilding in the mould of something better. Not interested; not the place I think my energy is best spent; not the work I am best placed to do. I'm not going to object to other people doing it, but what I want to do is - to the best of my ability - help this person, right here, right now.

I'd got as far as "I consider science a hobby", but Housemate pointed out that the activist work I do is fundamentally about trying to Make The World A Better Place, where people can live more fulfilled and less fear-filled lives; and that science is something I personally find fulfilling without any human element. It makes an awful lot of sense to me that I'm so reluctant to drag "helping people" into the thing I do for fun, given that it's what I spend a lot of my "leisure" time on...
kaberett: A green origami stegosaurus (origami stegosaurus)
... How'd they get there?

(I'm going to be away from the Internet for much of Saturday daytime for family stuff, so let's have this now in an attempt to calm me down enough to sleep.)



  • cavalier cookery: see question 12.
  • flamboyant socks: in my secondary school, the only piece of clothing that might ever be visible that wasn't regulated was socks. I got into the habit. Having stripy feet makes me happy. Having rainbows up to my knees makes me happy. Having dinosaurs up to my knees makes me happy. They are a way for me to pretend to be formal, pretend to be adult and sober and sensible, and hide a little of myself away.
  • gender geeking: because it helps me understand myself. Because it helps other people understand themselves. Because gender expression versus gender versus oppositional sexism is fascinating. Because sociology.
  • history of theology: because it was reading about the history of the Bible that set me free, that made me realise I didn't need to feel guilty for not believing.
  • lumps of rock: see question 12.
  • male-coded formalwear: because, for a long time, it was the only way I knew how to express my gender, to be legibly myself. I'm learning other ways, these days, but I owe a debt of gratitude.
  • mantle melting and plate tectonics: rocks. This is what I love most: that I can look at a single volcano, a single region, and if I've chosen it well it will inform global models. Because it's what's underneath us.
  • other people's libraries: no faster way, I'd argue, to get to know someone; because it's a fantastic way to be introduced to new things; because being permitted to browse feels like an expression of trust, an extended hand; because I love seeing how other people organise them.
  • proper chemistry labs: because for years I thought I'd be a chemist working in total organic synthesis, and though I love that my laboratory is the planet, I still pine, sometimes, for clean benches and fume hoods and proper pipettes and lab coats and jars of solvents and glassware and the magic that is coaxing clear colourless liquids and white crystalline powders to behave just so. On the plus side, I'll likely be working in something pretty similar again in the near future, and it won't be the same, but it won't be awful either.
  • snail-racing: because snails are lovely, and yellow-and-brown striped ones especially so (Cornish beaches in the summer, and Mama who never had her hair unhenna'd when guests were staying, even when she was an in-patient), and because childhood.
  • stompy queer activism: because well-behaved women rarely make history, and the same is true of queers. Because asking nicely rarely works. Because I'm allowed to make noise, to take up space. Because the more I do, the more okay I make the world for kids like me. I'm not likely to ever be a biological parent, but this: this is a thing I can do; this is a gift I can give you.
  • stories with dragons in: see question 12.
  • sun dials: because I love the ways we've devised to tell time and to track the skies. Because of Frank King. Because of the beauty and ingenuity of design. Because of the ways we try to tame our world, try to slice it into pieces we can manage, and how large - and how gently amused - it remains in spite of us.
  • tenor envy: because I knew I wished I were a tenor long before I understood anything else about my gender.
  • trilobites with eyes on stalks: trilobites are extinct marine woodlice. They lived in shallow oceans; most of them were benthic - they lived on the surface of the ocean floor. Some were infaunal: they burrowed. Most infaunal trilobites were blind. Some, however, had periscopic eyes on stalks. (Also? Trilobites' eyes have lenses made of calcite. Minerals have three optical axes; along two of them, calcite exhibits double refraction. Trilobites very carefully grew their eye-lenses so that the calcite crystals were oriented along the single optical axis that results in them not seeing double. If you don't think that shit is cool, I'm afraid we can't be friends. :-p)
  • unopened art supplies: because colour and joy and potential are waiting.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
I've been fortunate enough to hear from gay kids all across the country. A lot of them don't have supportive families, but some do. I cherish the good stories, but there's often a moment in those good stories that makes my heart hurt: when they tell me how happy they are that their parents "still" love them -- because all those kids knew that not loving them was an option.

Amelia at HuffPo (yes, I know).

This says something that hurts my heart, too: both because it is so achingly true - of myself, of so many other kids - but also because it erases me down to "gay".

"Gay" isn't good shorthand for either GSM or LGBT+, and I do so wish people wouldn't do it.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
This is a good and important article about the vigil held this evening for Lucy Meadows. Content notes: suicide; Lucy's birth name is given in the body of the article.

I note that this is way, way better than I typically expect the Guardian to be on the topic of trans* people (and wish I weren't so cynical about the fact that they're being ~this good~ because it gives them a chance to have a dig at the Daily Mail).

... however, I also note that if they are going to insist on getting a vox pop from a token straight cis white professional dude in his early 30s? They should maybe think twice before quoting his surname as "Mudkipz".
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
Following a conversation with [personal profile] auntysarah about the same-sex marriage bill last week, I'm drafting a letter to the House of Lords asking them to consider extending the rights it offers to historically marginalised groups within the LGBT+ community.

If you'd be interested in joining in the drafting process - this will involve looking over a complete first draft and providing feedback/engaging in collaborative editing - please yell & I'll drop you an e-mail.

If you'd be interested in having me work out a way to make it easy for members of the public to sign the letter (in addition to existing lobbying/etc groups), let me know.

My current list of organisations/groups to contact about official support is below the cut: if you can think of anyone else I should be approaching about getting signatures, again - please let me know!

Draft list of people to approach... )
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (swiss army gender)
Sent to Local Secrets just as holiday season was kicking off:
Sender: [personal profile] kaberett
Message: I tried to sign up today - I've been meaning to for quite a while! - and was very disappointed to find that I can't, purely because "Title" is an obligatory field. (1) You offer only Mr, Mrs and Miss. (2) You offer no gender-neutral titles (e.g. Msc/Mx - both in common use by the NHS, the Co-op, and the Identity & Passport Services) (3) You do not offer the option of "no title" (relevant to e.g. Quakers) It would be fantastic if you could introduce a wider range of options. Thanks so much! -Alex (Msc [Surname])

Rec'd today:
Hi Alex

Thanks for alerting us to this issue. We have talked about it and decided to remove the 'title' field entirely and instead put a drop down where the visitor will select from

Rather not say

This information may be used for our marketing to help us target information. I hope this is a satisfactory solution.


Not perfect, but definitely an improvement :-)
kaberett: Photo of a pile of old leather-bound books. (books)
It's very difficult, though, given how thoroughly sexist and racist and hereosexist (and anything else you care to think of) the undergraduate body is.

Exhibit A: Caltech's shocking lack of diversity: a microcosm for the United States?
Exhibit B: Diversity should mean more than just race, a shockingly under-researched, misrepresentative and inflammatory article by a Caltech undergraduate, published in the Caltech student press.

I've left a comment on the latter, which is currently in moderation. I reproduce it below.

This is the comment I left on the article. )
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)
This post is a translation of an article originally found at taz.de. A petition is available at change.org, with over 22,000 signatures at time of writing. I believe my translation is true to the tone of the original article; where I've made additional notes, they're in square brackets. Feel free to link wherever.

Alex is transsexual – she feels she's a girl, and indeed lives as one. Now a court has decided that her mother “induced” the transexuality, and the child is being placed in psychiatric care.

The Berlin superior Court of Justice decided on Thursday that the transsexual [feminine pronouns!] Alex Kaminski (name changed) can legally be admitted to psychiatric care. The mother of the eleven year old appealed against the decision of the Children's Welfare Office and lost. Her lawyer announced that they will be taking this ruling to the constitutional court.

The child, who has felt like a girl for her entire life and is currently living as one, may now be forced to be committed to the Berliner Charite [a university hospital]. The Children's Welfare Office was enabled to make this decision because the child's parents, who live separately, have contradictory opinions about appropriate medical management. As such the responsibility for the child's healthcare is transferred to the CWO. A CWO carer [poss. nurse] came to the decision that Alex should be taken into inpatient care in the Charite, and eventually be moved to a foster family.

The carer was of the opinion that the mother had “induced” the child's transsexuality, and that Alex therefore needed to be removed from her influence. In the Charite, the aim of the therapy would be to bring Alex closer to his “biological” sex and to “suppress” [prohibit/disable/eliminate...] the “atypical gender presentation” [nb the original refers to sex presentation], explains the head doctor Klaus Beier. A sexual sciences expert from Hamburg, Herta Richter-Appelt, describes this as an “antiquated point of view”. A forced admission [to hospital] strikes her as unwise. As for the question of whether the mother induced the transsexuality – that can be addressed perfectly well in an outpatient setting.

No expert opinion required

Mother and daughter are pleading for expert psychiatric advice. The superior court of justice has however now refused the option of an expert opinion. An assessment is not necessary, quotes the family's lawyer from the ruling. The assessment performed by the carer [nurse] is documented, and the target inpatient diagnostics are at her discretion [?? - not sure I've got this sentence right]. In counterpart, the mother is accused of aiming to take the child to the university clinics in Hamburg and Frankfurt-am-Main – the only places in Germany specialising in transsexuality in children and young adults.

The Kaminski's lawyer calls the ruling “shocking”. “The notion that transsexuality can be 'induced' over the course of years without resistence or protest is nowhere to be found in the scientific literature on the subject. This is an invention of this particular nurse.” The nurse has only talked to the child on one occasion, for just one hour - but this point was ignored.

Both lawyer and family now wish to go before the Federal Constitutional Court. In matters concerning rights of care this court can make very rapid decisions, according to the lawyer – and in Karlsruhe [location of the court?] the rights of children are generally taken very seriously.

International campaign

Alex is also getting support from human rights activists. At 3pm on Monday the “Action Alliance Alex” will hold a demonstration in front of the Berlin Administrative Headquarters for Children, with the motto “put an immediate end to the forced psychiatric pathologisation of Alex!” “This isn't a solitary story,” reads the call to action. “Institutes like the CWO and Charite practice violence against people using force and psychological pressure! Every sex and every gender identity is a right – not an illness.”

There is also a petition underway, started by the British transsexual activist Katrine Swales on Change.org. Addressed to the Klaus Wowereit, mayor of Berlin, it reads: “This young girl will be told that her feelings are wrong. and pushed even further into the denial that has already claimed the lives of so many transsexuals.” Over 9,000 people have already signed [22,000 at time of translation!].

And Alex? Just wants to get through this crisis with the help of a therapist. But the Youth Welfare Office won't even let her do that.
kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (swiss army gender)
Sh! [NSFW], the "UK’s first ever sex shop for women, trading since 1992", has recently made its policy on trans* customers explicit [content warning: cissexist language, mention of rape]. There's some good stuff in there, but there's also a lot that's really, really bad.

I composed & left a comment, pointing out aspects I considered problematic. Turns out they have comment moderation on, so I reproduce it below.

Read more... )


kaberett: Overlaid Mars & Venus symbols, with Swiss Army knife tools at other positions around the central circle. (Default)

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