I get that it cuts down on maintenance and administrative overhead. The thing that makes me nervous about these new London/suburb commuter trains is how they phase through each-other. You don't want the front car - because it's never pleasant to see a cargo train hurtling towards you. Yes, sitting inside, you still get flickers of boxes, sheep and big orange steel doors hurtling through your frame of vision (and you). And I'm not clear on what keeps the tracks solid to all phase-frames. And in retrospect, I wonder about the combined weight. But the thing that scares me is what happens if the phase cuts out?

And as much as I want to believe that this is a stop-gap just to sort things out in congested bottlenecks due to track failures and the like (and once, it was), I can't help but notice that, in it's third year, until you get far away from London Central, you still have five or seven trains stacked on top of each-other's position, often for minutes at a time. It's unnerving. What exactly can go wrong here?

(Waking life - Thinking about the practical applications of different kinds of dark matter, taking transit)


It's spacious, I'll give it that. Large and blue, like the whale of the same name as it rests in docks downtown on the Thames. We conduct a training exercise, and I hope that my loader won't prep all the tubes with nukes. Perhaps an independent Scotland doesn't want them anymore, but still, what are we supposed to do with them? Escalation and nuclear winter much?

Well, it turns out those extraterrestrials were kind of hostile. The flames are high as we pile a refugee crew across the deck and down the ladder. I'm second to last in, telling the last one through - he's a green one - that he needs to dog the hatch from the inside. Y'know, so we don't drown. The rest are automated, as is much of the craft. And I see that he does it.

In the main hall (so much better than those cramped WWII models) I survey the 30 or so folk who will be our sea-family for the next who knows how long. It's a good thing this ship is automated. Half of them have never been on a boat before. I really hope the Invaders don't have the kind of radar that can spot us down here. Anyone know if they do or not? Anyone? Well, I guess if we don't we'll not live long enough to regret it.

And those two, with their child. They seem... off, indifferent to their offspring. Maybe it's that greenish cast? ... Oh crap, the parents are dopplegangers. Well, even if they are infiltration devices of hostile alien overlords, they're part of our crew now. Holding their (human) infant though, they realyl don't give a damn about that tiny squalling human-larva. We can't trust 'em with her. And we don't exactly have formula down here, and she doesn't understand why she should give a shit enough to breastfeed. The infant seems to like my nipple enough. Let's dope me up with that bio-remediation gel we purloined from the hostiles. That can reprogram a cat into a garbage-truck-sized war machine, and the interface is intuitive (as in, it actually responds to thought - which makes it dangerous to an untrained user, like said cat, now roving the suburbs of Lancaster, obliterating houses whenever it spots something small and moving, like humans). I can lactate. And commanders don't get to sleep anyways.

Anyways. Let's give this thing the once over before we get out into sea. Leaking a little water, I see. That's normal if unnerving. I hope it's condensation... but I think it's salty. Down towards engineering then. We're orienting the newbies, the basic tasks aren't that hard, and the rest we can leave to the existing specialists? I hope. That crewperson looks a lot like a certain actress. In a TV uniform. Oh hell, the swagger. Did someone try to be a useful crew and hack their cells (and mind) to mimic Kara "Starbuck" fucking Thrace? And she's giving lip to her commander. Or trying to. She thinks that my assistant Robert here is her commander - he doesn't look like Edward James Olmos, but I guess he does more than me. That's why you shouldn't play with the gel.

Who did this? You two! No, over here, I'm the C.O. Yes I'm a woman. Hence the infant earlier sucking at my tit in front of you lot. What's that glare for? You doped her up with gel knowing it would skew her into insubordination. Hah! Cute! We need strong teamwork here or we all drown, starve, suffocate, or get blasted from the sky. Thirty for you and sixty days in the brig for you. We should probably fix the lights in there, but it's not a priority. We can let them out in half time if they're well behaved.

Moving on! We have a life undersea to get used to and not enough time to do it.

(Waking life: playing X-Com, reading about induced lactation for adoptive parents - I have no idea where the Britain theme come from)

I'm not sure I agree with the subtext.

As someone who both drives as part of her job and bikes to work, I find that bicyclists are in a pinch due to lazy regulation. Legally bikes are vehicles in BC - because the province saw them as a luxury item when they wrote the law. Saying, "this is like a car" is the only way of articulating safety rules in conversation with motorists. Idaho, by contrast, actually took a look at how bikes work (they're small, manouverable, don't do that much damage when they hit a car, and are a pain in the ass to get going from a full stop) and revised their laws accordingly - red car lights are bike stop signs; stop signs are bike yields. And they've kept it on the books for decades. I'm not entirely sure what the multiple lane rule cited here refers to, but when I bike on a 3-lane road with 1 lane of parking, I have the choice of either getting tailgated and possibly killed or getting doored and probably hurt - I choose the latter until I run into a wide vehicle or one where someone might open their door, so there's a bit of back and forth between lanes. I signal as possible, but since people often pull into my lane without shouder checking, I sometimes have to change lanes fast and that requires two hands.

By contrast, when I'm in a van delivering film gear, I really don't give a damn if someone is bicycling on the road like a fool. As long as the only thing they're going to run into my 2-tonne steel box on wheels, it's their neck to risk. I don't have any major physical disabilities so If I don't like being a motorist sharing the roads with human power vehicles, I can suck it up and bike.

Unfortunately, because of a few yahoos, most motorists assume that all bikes are driven incorrectly. When biking, people will honk and gesticulate at me for, say, executing a left turn into the closest lane of traffic, as per the law on left turns, or kicking off of the sidewalk via a curb cut (am I supposed to *walk* my bike onto the road?). This extends to accidents - at work, a crewmember backed up into traffic, and a cyclist went through his window. The emerg responders blamed the cyclist for things like going top speed (30km/hr, down a hill, on a bike route), even though he had right of way. Had it been a car going at its legal limit of 50km/hr (about 2.7 times the kinetic energy per unit of mass and at least 10x the mass = 27 times the impact), both vehicles would have been fucked and someone could have been very badly hurt. So yes there are some yahoo jocks pedaling their bikes like complete tools, but at least they're being yahoos on bikes and as opposed to behaving like that behind the wheel of a car. But if we made some cycling rules that actually make sense, and did not treat bikes as cars (and then perhaps enforced them), they might start to obey them.

In response to the usual:


 I once read through a long list of journal articles cited by a high-profile site claiming to link autism to vaccines, but among them, the only clear scientifically-tested, statistically-rigorous statements I could find was that huge amounts of research could find no link between the two (other than that which Andrew Wakefield turns out to have faked, much to our cultural detriment). Yes, there are rising rates of autism, but I find it more plausible that this is likely due to increased awareness of autism leading to increased detection, and increased rates of geeks and STEM professionals (who are often on the autism spectrum themselves) marrying and making babies with each-other. Or maybe it's how we're raising our kids. Or maybe it's a lack of tapeworm Who knows? Paralleling vaccines and autism, there are also rising rates of personal computers, and declining rates of high-wasted pants, and I see no link between any of these variables, although I would be happy to read a study claiming an epigentic link between the height of one's pants and the likelihood that one's child will own a macbook.

As to the claim that there is a huge industry driving this bias in study - I woudl ask, which costs more: getting a shot in the arm, or landing in intensive care with the measles?

Further, if it is the case that 1 in 68 people are on the autism spectrum, then they clearly most are not that far our on the spectrum, and so most are capable of having a life that is normal. And by "is normal," I mean, "includes a physically easy job with a high salary."

Speaking as someone on the spectrum myself (with ancestors who were probably also on the spectrum, but who were not diagnosed, leading to the appearance that I'm the "first"), I don't just get by with being autism spectrum, I *rely on* it every day when I do my job as a Line Producer, which involves financial math that most neurotypical (i.e. non-autism-spectrum) people either can't do or don't enjoy. If this job bottoms out, I will go quickly re-train and make six figures as a coder within two years, or maybe I'll go into industrial electric control systems, or maybe I'll get elected to public office seeing as I'm very capable of holding debates and have learned the necessary social and team skills to pull off a campaign.

If vaccines did somehow nudge people's brains towards the spectrum, I'd actually recommend them for people who were math-adverse, so that I'd be able to talk film tax systems with more people without their eyes glazing over. But since all vaccines seem to do is prevent infectious diseases for the user *and the people around them* with extremely low risks of side-effects, I'd still suggest taking vaccines so that my generation doesn't go through what my unvaccinated (but still autism-spectrum) ancestors did when they had lifelong consequences (and dead schoolmates) from infectious diseases.
 The more I write more opinion columns for Daily Xtra​, the more I attention to how other columnists do their job. One common method is to be needlessly inflammatory, substituting rhetoric for reason while ignoring the arguments of those who disagree with you and generally using logical fallacies to advance an agenda that your audience already agrees with. But you can also make logical arguments founded on well-cited data - and you can combine it with passion and wit. If you do it well, you should change the minds of your own readers. Or at least advance the dialogue with people who disagree with you.
So I try to make sure that every column I write is based in a combination of past study and present research. I know it works if it challenges my assumptions to the point where my conclusion is no longer the same as when I started writing it. And I like to think that this is why I hold my opinions. Because opinions can be facts, or they can at least be well-grounded in facts. But we forget this.
When we see that we can prove how transuranic elements decay, but we can't ultimately answer prove what god(s) want(s) us to do with our genitals or if ze/they exist(s), we conclude that particle physics and gay rights are totally separate realms of argument, subject to different rules. It's true that the morality of an action cannot ultimately be logically proven. However, the components of an argument that reach a moral conclusion *can.* Thus, while it is reasonable to take a pass on the issue of divine interest in our groins, we can prove whether or not gay marriage affects particular social indicators. And while we know how plutonium turns into other elements in very dangerous ways, we cannot prove the morality of eating it - we know the latter is lethal to the diner and probably everyone around them, but we can't actually prove it's wrong. 
The reason I don't agree with a lot of culturally conservative viewpoints is not one of mere bias. I grew up in a conservative area where these viewpoints were the vast majority. I know them. When I moved, I saw the arguments for and against various issues, and realized that usually, especially on cultural issues, the left simply has stronger arguments. Often this was because the left had arguments that engaged with the right while the right had arguments that engaged with little other than re-stating a baseless opinion.
That there is no quantifiable social detriment to gay marriage, and that there is no evidence to support that trans inclusion will have a detrimental impact on quality of life is part of why these causes tend to win in court, even before judges with contrasting politics - because judges are called upon to meticulously and publicly justify their opinion, and when your entire professional body of work is weighed on that basis, it's harder to go off the rails.
So I believe it is a columnists' job to construct arguments that are sound, grounded, relevant and interesting. And the more I look at other people in the field of punditry, I wish that other columnists covering issues relevant to human rights would do their damn job too.
Failing that (see, this is where the wit comes in), I would be happy to see less dutiful columnists address particle physics, or neurology, or paediatric nursing with the same reckless knee-jerk usually-conservative abandon that they treat human rights. Because I would actually enjoy reading someone's take on what Leviticus says about Bohr's model of the atom, or how they just weren't raised to believe in spindle neurons, or how we can alleviate respiratory ailments by just having a stronger work ethic. That would still be illogical, but at least it would be creative.
 I don't agree with this

As a trans woman and activist, I love the use of trans, trans* and transgender as umbrella terms

In my experience, the problem we have is one of semantics, rooted in whether transgender means:
(a) people who break the rules of gender other than in who they sleep with (i.e. people whose identities *and/or expressions* differ from that assigned to them at or shortly after birth )
(b) people who cis society perceives "cross over" from one binary gender to another, even though many actually identified that way their entire lives

When I was introduced to the term "transgender," it clearly meant (a). It was an umbrella used for organizing, and at least made an effort to represent all the gender outlaws under one banner. But when the media started reporting specifically on transsexuals in the late 00's, it assumed "transgender" was a polite substitution for "transsexual" because... uh... I guess they thought it's better to not say "sex" or something.

(Tangent: At times, "transgender" it was used to refer specifically to no-ho/non-op people who have a binary gender identity that conflicts with their assignment at birth, thus shedding the medical diagnostic ties of "transsexual." This should be no surprise, as the term "transgender" was reappropriated from the word "transgenderist" as was popularized by Virginia Prince in the 1970s who organized around this very identity, and who was instrumental in the part-time MTF-spectrum umbrella that included both trans women and AFAB crossdressers.)

As a consequence of this binary-focused mainstream media coverage, many non-binary people and cissexed gender non-conforming people felt it does not include them, so they stopped identifying with it.

If however, we use Transgender as an umbrella term, many gender-variant people who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth might want to use the term "cis*sexed* and transgender" while non binary people can use "non binary transgender"

Failing that, to my knowledge, we lack any short umbrella term that has ever satisfied a large number of people. And that causes a problem whenever someone is trying to concisely convey the spectrum of people who might have a stake or at least a deep-seated personal interest in combatting transphobia, binary sexism, imperialist gender systems, transmisogyny, body-freedom and so on.
 From everything I've gathered from religious conservatives, Hell is not only going to be awesome but we'll have unbeatable social policy.
Heaven, on the other hand? That's not going to end well. Or ever.


Aug. 11th, 2015 06:57 pm
To [Commentor on a friend's feed regarding their disappointment the letter from the Vancouver Queer Film Festival on the subject of BDS, where this commentor was claiming that BDS was anti-Semitic and unethical]

I do not agree with your analysis. Here is my take on it.

Historically, embargoes, sanctions and boycotts have been not been effective at reversing abusive policies, but of stopping bad policies from getting worse thru explicit governmental acts. Hence the attempt to choke Russian international business - it wasn't to get Russia out of Crimea - that was a lost cause. The sanctions were to make sure that Russia didn't invade more turf. So far it's worked. By contrast the US boycott of Cuba to get them to... totally capitulate or whatever just made the economy worse (although how much is the USA and how much is the failure of Castro's policies is up for debate).

It's also easier to put a boycott or sanctions on someone who doesn't make all your stuff. This is part of why the South Africa boycott stuck and was ultimately effective.

Given this, the BDS is sound political strategy insofar as:
- The Israeli government is actively making Palestinians' lives worse by destroying buildings and constructing the means to separate the very infrastructure according to citizenship-class. If this merely holds in place in stasis, Palestinians will still be in a better position than if the current downward spiral continues
- Looking around my house, to participate in BDS, the range of products I would need to boycott include Sodastream, some baked goods, and the VQFF

A very solid middle ground is to only boycott goods and services that are made in in the areas that have recently been occupied. How one tells which is which, I don't know - barring voluntary labelling of products from places that aren't in the present or recent process of occupation. This was something I was behind myself until I saw the Israeli government try to get Canada to ban people from advocating even that, and then trying to classify the United Church of Canada as a hate group. This tells me (1) the Israeli government is willing to wrap itself in the flag (and more importantly and by extension to equivocate their policy with a marginalized religious/cultural/racial group, te tmost common symbol of whom they have chosen to use as the main design element on that that flag) to advance political argumetns that don't hold up without a fallacious emotional appeal and (2) that the boycott is working.

So with that, I'm now all for a comprehensive boycott - unless the product or service in question *somehow* distances itself from governmental policy. I'm not aware of any such product or service but if an Israeli film just had the line "This whole occupation is a fucked up situation, eh? Hope you watch anyways." in the credits, I'd pay money to go see it.

This said, if someone wanted to boycott (P.R.) Chinese goods to stop the range of human rights abuses, or boycott American (on top of the existing boycott on Indiana - speaking of the counter-intuitive but effective tactic of singling out one offender among many) to stop mass incarceration and global imperialism, or if someone refused to buy Canadian to get our government to put a stop to fouling the land and water of Indigenous people, I'd say "more power to them." However, for people living in Vancouver trying to stick to these boycotts would prove impractical.

Moreover, as an entrepreneur, if I was to repeatedly do something grossly morally wrong and refuse to stop, and then were people to choose to boycott my business, I hope I would have the decency not to claim that by singling me out (over say, Monsanto or Chick-fil-a, Shell or whatever) they were somehow enabling whatever form of sometimes-lethal discrimination my demographic cohort has disproportionately experienced. Those people are being smart in taking on someone small enough to feel the sting, and for me to equate that with historical injustice would be disingenuous.

Further, I'm not sure what the mutual desire for neighbourly peace between Israelis and Palestians has to do with downplaying BDS. Some of those people might be very much in favour of international support for their beliefs, even if it hurts.

Regarding the Vatican, I think I'm already *most* of the way to boycotting them, insofar as I will never give money to (non-radical) Roman Catholic churches, charities or non-profits. But I'd be interested in taking it further and should really go look up which companies funnel money into screwing with reproductive autonomy, marginalizing indiginous religion, and only hiring men for top leadership positions. While I don't know how effective this would be, but I don't think it would be anti-catholic. 

 "You have likely noticed that a great many things in your world are inefficient and unjust. At times you may find it implausible that this status quo can hold when there is so obviously a better way to do one thing, and a kinder way to do another, and so on, and that all these ways sync up, snap together and should just plain work. It seems obvious, yes?"

"Do not be alarmed. Well, actually, you can and perhaps should be alarmed, but please also understand that memory turbulence is a perfectly normal side-effect of trans-temporal projection. It's for the best. If you could consciously remember the future you're from, you'd be stuck quivering from culture shock and moral outrage. And that won't do. We spent a lot of time and energy - and you sacrificed a lot - to put you this far in the past on what we all admit is a kind of long-shot plan to make sure that things turn out right. Now go find the other people in your cell, whether they're from the same future or something close enough. (The future is inherently wobbly) Make friends, remember what you can as a collective, and take the necessary steps. Your task will be difficult, but the results are awesome. Hope is a thing we build here and now."

"Now get cracking."


Apr. 16th, 2015 01:25 am
Two characters, both near and dear to me. Chris and Emily. A scruffy, ethical contract-killer and staunch defender of friends, even when they barely understand human beings. And a chirpy, energetic science nerd, full of optimism. One masculine; one feminine. One is an established character for a TV show. The other is a larp character who I want to do cool things with.

I had a box set aside for Emily's things, but I started taking them out to wear day-to-day. Her black, sequinned skirt. Her purple hoody.

As for Chris, today I took the lat of zer masculine, military things, packed them into a box today and took them to set. They are moving into fiction now.

Chris has reached zer jumping off point, has waited, and can now serves purpose greater than just 'being.' But ze can also be aside from my daily life. I'm just not that butch anymore.

Emily, on the other hand, I think we'll be seeing a lot more of her - or at least her elements.

We're all down there, in the twisting depths. And we don't know who is pulling the strings but this entire ordeal is set up to see if we crack. Having solved the other challenges, the vending machine that is also the slide to the next stage implies some pretty horrible glass-and-filth things if we activate the slide "wrong" ...and some moderately horrible (glass OR filth) things if we do it right.

One of us breaks away to backtrack up, reach the surface that way. On a higher, more spacious level he encounters a large number of younger women in some looks-centred profession (commercial actors? hosts?) who have a different set of challengces. Les repugnant to us, more to them.

Who is putting us through these paces?

A second person break off to ascend past where we entered, high and higher un-levels. Eventually she reaches the case of Next Gen, only with a few substitutions (Diana's CAFAB-looking son, for example)


 A dream of Snowpiercer. Only this was really good and had no plot holes. In fact, the rest of the world was running along just fine - it was merely perpetually chilly out, a sudden but not dire ice age, and other trains and commerce were proceeding in the usual fashion. We were just going too fast to see anything. Still, the rebellion had to continue.


At the Battle of Stalingrad. No overt fighting in the safe zone. Just lots of cautious movement for fear of snipers, and gross deprivation. Always always cold.

I suit up in my cold-weather welding gear and report. The whole works was built into an iceberg. The platform in the centre, atop the stack under which sits the drill that goes down down into the rich rich reserves of petrochemicals. But there's something amiss. We caught a whale in there, and she is not happy.

Bothered, I cut out early of  shift. We fly out of there. But I don't know how to use the skimmer.

Despite cutting out early, I still have a job and a paycheque. We go back later. The inside of the berg is slush and there's a black-and-rainbow sheen atop it. The whale is there. Still unhappy, but not in a mystic environmentalist kind of way - just a "I don't like this sh*t" kind of way."

Our office boss, she is there in her finery and her black and red robes with her twin daughters. She negotiates with the whale.d

The biggest barrier I face in doing anything significant is "being overwhelmed." It dogs me in business, art, sometimes in relationships, and it's also been the biggest outstanding obstacle to resolutions.

It's clear that I can do some pretty impressive shit (Satirical Politics, CFS referendum, Transition, Art, Writing, The Switch) and most this means engaging in giant complex tasks. So how do I beat the inertia and fear? Breaking things down into manageable steps, and pushing what can be done later completely off of my plate for today, and next week or next month, and as long as it takes to just concentrate on the stuff in front of me.

So the idea here is to keep it simple and high-priority.

I divide the year up into ten parts. It's a kind of astronomy meets traditional calendar religion meets film kind of thing (if you get the last reference, you're my kind of people!). And I use this to incrementally increase my targets.

1. Jan 1st thru Imbolc
2. Imbolc thru Equinox (Ostara)
3. Ostara thru Beltane
4. Beltane thru Solstice (Litha)
5. (break) Midsummer thru July 1st - time to reflect, alter and reconsider
6. July 1st thru Lammas
7. Lammas thru The Equinox (Mabon)
8. Mabon thru Samhaine
9. Samhaine thru Yule
10.  (break) Yule thru January 1st

I have four resolutions and three of them have incremental benchmarks. Each "tenth," I pick two targets to move their benchmark up a notch. This gives me a little wiggle room in case things prove challenging.


1. Pack a Lunch

I've done a pretty good job of becoming frugal over the last few years. I can live well for not a lot of money. But I spend money eating out when I don't need to - and when I don't want to. Now, when I'm eating at home, I can cook like a champ. But I don't take it with me. Time to do better.

Goal: Pack a lunch. As in a meal. Not just a granola bar.
Benchmarks: 1x/week, 2x/week, 3x/week


2. Get up and go Outside

My mental health, sleep and pretty much everything else improve when I get up and go outside within an hour of waking for at least thirty minutes. If you are not a home-based entrepreneur (or parent), you may not realize that you can get up at a reasonable hour and have what looks like a productive day on paper without leaving your house until after dark. This is not good for me. I get cranky and weird. So, I need to fix this.

Goal: Get up and go outside within one hour waking, staying outside for at least half an hour.
Benchmarks: 3x/week, 4x/week, 5x/week

3. Analog Hour
This one's about mindfulness, relaxation and all kinds of good stuff. I can pull this off in transit. I can do it socially. But I'm not good at being on my own. Instead, I have an ingrained habit of staring at a screen. It started in my youth as a way of disassociating. At the time, it might have been a good idea seeing as the combination of bullying and dysphoria drives other people trans to worse ends. Still, it needs to go.

Goal: Spend one hour on my own with the computer closed. Not screwing around on my phone. Not watching TV. No "screen time." Unless it's dialing a phone for a nice chat.

Benchmarks: 2x/week, 3x/week, 4x/week

4. Actor's Accountability
This is all the rage among actors, as self-directed professionals (that are known to be a little... flaky). You meet. You plan. You do better. And if you don't, you know it probably was outside of your reasonable locus of control.

Goal: Every month, I will meet with other actors to plan out career foundational. The first month will be setting up the meeting.
Benchmarks: There's only one.

New Rules

1. Posture
After recovering from neckstrain from hell, I have found that oneofhte muscles in my arm is partially paralyzed. It's weak and inhabiting my ability to do stuff. This probably comes from interactions with someone I used to date. It might from the time I got thrown at that play party in 2010 - the time I was saved from breaking my neck (or, indirectly, getting irradiated at Fukushima) because I turned my arm into an "S" shape? Well, I also hit my head, which snapped my neck back, but I didn't think about it at the time. Or it might have been more recent - from picking up my date and wanting to free up one hand if you get my drift, and just carrying too much load. The leading hypothesis is that my vertebrae are probably sandwiching a nerve - it's hard dot tell. On reflection, it's most likely a bit of both.

Also: my posture sucks. I don't want to wind up in a hunch when I'm eighty. And I look great when my posture is good.

The rule then: pick one: when on my cellphone / checking email / checking my reflection or seeing my shadow - I check my posture.

2. Don't lend money

Because it leads to having got ask for it back and/or never getting it back. I don't think that I've got the money back on a single one of the loans I've given out in the last two years. I kept a spreadsheet of all the money I leant out - it's a on the level of "rent." This has got to stop. There are other ways I can support people. 

There will have to be exceptions - picking up lunch this time, covering a car rental (and of course, just giving people objects, services or money is fine). But anything involving other people and the words "pay you back later" need to be small, and never in doubt as to if/when they'll be paid back.

In reserve:

These are important, but, in the interests of not feeling overwhelmed, didn't make the cut. I will revisit these later:

1. Spend time in an altered head-space pursuing personal development. Doesn't matter what it is - it could be meditation, or character work, or booze, or sensory deprivation. Whatever.

2. Specific acting skill development

3. Studying second language

Looking Back on 2014:


1. Improve My Sleeping Habits B

I said I'd do a sleep journal, and I didn't keep to it. But I did put a lot of work into a medical sleep study - covered in wires, seeing doctors and so on. Turns out, despite me being in "least likely" demographic, I have mild sleep apnea. (And sometimes anxiety throws me for a loop.) I am now testing a CPAP machine. And I have a few extra-low-strength Atavan for the odd night when I've had mysterious insomnia. They both do exactly what they should. From here, it's just a matter of sleep hygiene (which I have now developed, thanks to this year) and getting to bed on time (still a struggle).


2. Relaxation. 5x/ Week for 20+ minutes: C

I did learn how to unwind this year, but I didn't do a very good job of implementing it. I also totally threw off my tracking. I didl however, do something new and interesting for a good chunk of the day a great number of times over the year. And I actually took Christmas vacation.


3. Adopt A Skin Regimen: A

Done! I kept to the schedule pretty well, and then modified it to back off on the harmful stuff


4. Write for an hour thrice a week: B

Up and down on this one, but I did start to get it right towards the end of the year. I had to - we have scripts!


5. Voice Practice 10 minutes, thrice per week: D

Nope. I let self-consciousness and poor scheduling get in the way (I prefer an open space, and *strongly prefer* to do it when I won't wake people. The former is superfluous. The later is not.). But I did take singing lessons, so it's not a total wash.


6. Tidy Up: 15 Minutes, twice per week: D

I really let my tracking slide, and this was one of the casualties. But I picked things up towards the end, because of something called "analog hour" that will be making its way in this coming year.


7. Cultivate Relationships. 4x per week: B
I think I did this alright. Again, with the tracking. But I learned how to communicate better. Much better. I owe that one to Kat in large part. I also cultivated friendships with intention. I also lost a coworker in part because of my poor communication.


8. Body Modification: B

Well, I have a bunch of syringes full of cat allergen, waiting to be injected so as to modify my immune system. Not sure if I need them now that I don't know if I'll be moving in with Kat. There ya go.

Many improvements in the last year, but a 2.5 GPA isn't where I want to be. Let's watch me do better.

 There's a column floating around by Miranda Yardley about why it's okay to organize women's spaces according to sex assigned at birth. I wrote the start of a rebuttal and didn't want it to go to waste.
I'd suggest reading Julia Serano's "excluded" on this matter. I have a copy I can lend you.
A quick aside before I begin. I get that she's trans, but I don't know what is up with Miranda Yardley. Imagine having one vocal gay person who believes that marriage should only be between a man and a woman. Then imagine religious conservative groups plastering that person's name and words all over their media. 
Yardley has long been one well-off member of a minority that takes the side of a system that is making life difficult (and often shorter) for that minority, including those without her advantages in life. The champions of that system can then point to her as a token example of a minority that agrees with them. Look at a sizeable chunk of the people who cite her columns. Look at what else those people have to say about trans folk. It's not pretty.
In my experience, the use of "sex" (or rather 'sex as assigned at birth') as a rallying point for "gender-critical" feminist organizing only developed because people wanted a way to justify their exclusion of transgender women that squared with a superficial progressive rhetoric. They used to use "youth socialization" as the benchmark of authentic womanhood as they assumed that no trans women experience it. Now that trans women are coming out young and do in fact get to grow up being regarded as female, they are moving over to "sex" in the hopes that this time it will stick and people won't look at it too critically. 
It can be demonstrated that "sex-based organizing" is only a rhetorical device as it does not focus on uteruses another traditionally female anatomy in its political concerns. Further,  trans men (who should, in theory be welcome) are not admitted, while women of variant intersex/reproductive statuses are admitted (when in theory they should not be). Rather, sex-based organizing relies on politics are otherwise identical to hostile outmoded exclusive policies that preceded them. Moreover, the spaces that tout sex-based organizing are pretty much always rabidly transphobic. It's not a coincidence.
This model does not acknowledge intersectionality. It oversimplifies being assigned male at birth as a free ticket and paints all trans women as being highly privileged dudes who one day decided to shuck off one identity to go slum it in another less privileged one. It's true that some trans women had no issues prior to transition, had alpha male careers and then made the switch, yes. However (1) it has yet to be demonstrated that excluding there are tangible benefits to excluding these (previously privileged, now marginalized) people, and, more importantly, (2) *most trans women do not experience this.*
I can tell you, most trans women can tell you, and any transgender-related quality-of-life statistic you want to check can tell you that if you are presenting as a woman, it is MUCH safer in this society to be perceived as CAFAB (Coercively Assigned Female at Birth - "female sex"). I go out of my way to get people to assume that I am CAFAB because I would not have been able to get my training, travel, be able to do my job, or even be safe on the street otherwise.
But if that does not satisfy the author, I can put it another way: We know that the majority of trans women (especially those who are visibly assigned male at birth, and especially those experiencing other forms of oppression such as immigration status, race, and ability) experience incredibly high rates of unemployment, violence, incarceration and mortality. Given this, is it just to go out of one's way to build a theoretical framework to exclude them from community and rights-based organizing?
Also to keep in mind: the exclusion of trans women from feminist (and lesbian) organizing operates pretty much in tandem with the exclusion of bisexuals, femmes and sex-workers. The logic in all cases is that one's personal gender behaviour (in partners, gender expression, identity, and work) must follow the party line. That ain't good feminism in my book.

Sleep following on recovering from food poisoning, and a 02:30 angst-induced "two-character exercise" for which I was absent. (conclusion - the act of shopping it around now indicates its salability later)


He Who is Visiting has positive cancer tests


All of us are working service support jobs for The Avengers. They're off somewhere. That dog isn't of earth. Breastfeeding it is a good way to get your organs sucked out - see diagram. Suggest dog-food instead. Talking to its human. They are nomadic.


Going to meet a woman by the neo-skytrain in... Largely? Elevated long-running, wide-bodied post-West-Coast0Express transit vehicle. She has a profile akin to the one who taught me to "breathe" (tall-ish, dreads), but it's not her. It's someone I haven't met yet. I go to get my ticket but the train leaves. That was the last one for awhile. I guess I'll have a long trip.


Sorceror's/Adepts club. Unknown Armies style. Two gifted types in attendance (in waking life: 1. do we call them "mage," 2. I have met, bob of dark hair, light tan skin... the name I can't remember?) join flesh (literally) to embody the three-faced one. A few tweaks on the flesh like clay, a few tests hand-walking, pressing a coin into our skin until it leaves its face, rubbing it smooth again, and wondering if I'm steering it too much (but of course, we are all now "I") and I/We are ready to go.

After coming in from the night, realizing I am an older version of the one who plays Anne-onymous. Someone is here to contract us to something overpriced. My landlord is coming. The people on the ground floor have skipped out.
I am independent for two reasons

1. I like acting too much to join ACTRA.

If I joined the union as an apprentice, I would not get benefits but also would be barred from shooting web-videos with my friends on weekends - unless I got my friends to kick out all the non-Canadian performers and do lot of union paperwork for a one-day project. Unless I feel like breaking my contract, union apprenticeship is the worst of both worlds. This said, a lot of people break their contract without consequence.

By contrast, SAG apprentices don't get benefits but are allowed to work on non-union shows until they get full membership. It's a shame that we don't have that system.

2. I have moral qualms. I have noticed that the vast majority of UBCP actors don't like their own union, and are only members grudgingly because they feel strongarmed into it - if they don't join, the UBCP will take larger and larger pieces of their paycheques. I do not believe that this is a healthy or fair way to create solidarity. By contrast, other ACTRA pronvincials take smaller pieces and people tend to join because they want to.

Further, as a Canadian concerned with social justice, I find that the UBCP has a lackluster commitment to diversity and making sure Canadians get work. The language in the collective agreement is noble but on the big sets I've been on, the green room is mostly full of White Dudes From America, with one Black Dude From America, one White Woman From America (each of whom, I am told, results in a cheque going to the union), and a couple of BC actors there for one-liners. At the same time, the UBCP will go out of its way to make sure that volunteer-run sets that pay less than minimum wage can't use their friends who are in Canada on vacation or work-visas.

Most of the cool diversity initiatives I have seen have their origins in ACTRA but from outside of BC. I wish these would be taken more seriously here.
[Name redacted] how do you quantify to what extent something is anti-liberal and misogynistic and stack it up against other entities like say colonialism, evangelical Christianity, or intercontinental slavery (which, admittedly, overlap/ped) to decide it is the "most?" Also - do you consider the Hadith to be a Islamic, or merely tradition? What about Sufi? Or are we just talking the Qu'ran? (Not the Penguin translation I hope ). Or do you mean politicians who justify their actions as being Islamic? Wahabi'ism? Islamic Socialism? Over what span of time? Do you consider the rejection of the use of the "zero" by the Catholic Church (because it was too Muslim) to be anti-liberal, or would something more recent like (see my next comment) be a better example? What is especially bad about Indonesia versus another country of comparable economic, geographic and historical circumstance?

The subtext: it's hard to qualify what's the most fucked up, especially when you can't draw a clear line around what is and is not a religion, and especially when there's a lot of bad to go around.
Just now · Like


The most fucked up thing in my mind is that we're going to war with a group that has roots in the Taliban - a group that was trained and armed by Christian religious conservative governments on our side to fight the Soviets, who were an invading Atheist state (who, on top of the Giant War Machine, turned "international women's day" into a day to thank housewives for keep on given'er). There's a lot of violence and misogyny to go around.

Despite the above fracas, there are Christian, Muslim and Atheist roots for equality and peace.

I don't agree with the Qu'ran, but I also have serious bones to pick with sexism and technophobia in the Dao De Jing, rape culture in the Torah, and sexism in online Atheist communities. What's in a religion's core matters, but there's a lot to be said for what we do with it.

The way out of repeating this mess for future generations is, IMHO, not to form alliances based on being a dick to a mutual enemy, but on finding common ground for progress. And there's a lot of room for that.
Conversations with entrepreneur regarding remitting EI, Income Tax, and CPP to the CRA.

CRA: "You need to remit March's payment right now"

Amy: "Alright. The CRA owes my business a tax credit that's more than one hundred times this amount. Can we just take it out of that?"

CRA: "No."

Amy: "...okay. Well, I think I might owe you more than just March. What about April? I was just talking to someone about it yesterday and the amount should be on record."

CRA: "This office only handles collections. We can't access that information"

Amy: "Can you transfer me?"

CRA: "No."

Amy: "Excuse me then."

[I hang up, dial someone else (sometimes over ten times because their phone system bounces calls)]

Amy: " she asked me to give her the numbers and I left them on voicemail...?"

CRA#2: "We don't have them. For April, you need to tell us what exactly this is getting remitted for."

Amy: "Do you have an app to help me with this?"

CRA#2: "We have an online payroll calculator."

Amy: "Yes. But it doesn't save data, and you can't even copy/paste data from it back into it, because it outputs numbers in a format that it won't accept. And then I need to re-enter *that* into a spreadsheet that I built. And I need to do this for every paycheque I write.

CRA#2: "..."

Amy: "Anyways. Employee #1's CPP remittance is-"

CRA#2: "-No. You need to send it to us."

Amy: "Okay. What's your email?"

CRA#2: "We don't use email. You need to send in the data."

Amy: "Alright. Do you have an app for that?"

CRA#2: "No. You have to send in the form."

Amy: "Okay. Where can I get it?"

CRA#2: "You have to request it."

Amy: "Okay. I'd like to request twelve, so I'm good for the year."

CRA#2: "No. You have to do it every month when you send in your cheque."

Amy: "Noted. But I need to pay collections now.... Excuse me."

[I hand up, then call the other office up and repeat the process.]

CRA: "We are obliged to warn you that if you do not remit this payment promptly, we can go after your business bank account,"

Amy: "Really? That's great. Do you want to just take the money out of my account right now?"

CRA: "We can't do that if it's voluntarily."
[---this is my favorite part, BTW---]

Amy: "Okay, do you take Visa?"

CRA: "No."

Amy: "Even if I pay the extra three percent or whatever. It's still more cost effective than doing it all by hand - for both of us-"

CRA: "We don't take Visa."

Amy: "Okay. What if I pay through online banking at my credit union, like I do with my phone, internet, co-op, charities, and so on, and you can get it in about five minutes?"

CRA: "We only do it through these four [large, too-rich-for-words] banks. Can you open an account there?"

Amy: "I have an ethical problem with government-backed ogliopolies of the super-rich. How about EFT?"

CRA: "What's that?"

Amy: "Nevermind. Paypal?"

CRA: "No. You have to mail us a cheque."

Amy: "But you want it right away.... okay. I guess that's my only option"


When entrepreneurs look at this, we scratch our heads. We ask "why is the government collecting taxes?"

Now, I don't mean this in the sense of "why should we pay taxes?" because any sensible entrepreneur understands that getting big things done right costs money. What I mean is that we ask, "Why is the government collecting taxes when it's so incredibly bad at it?"

As entrepreneurs, we are paying a "business" that could never survive in our world. In our world, if you make it hard for people to pay you, you go out of business. And if your business is inefficient, you should get ready for customers to go elsewhere. We wonder why we don't start up our own tax collection agency and hire some people who don't live in a world where the most recent communication technology is a fax machine. (This is not hyerbole - the government runs on faxes)

Am I suggesting privatizing the CRA? Yes. Yes I am - on the proviso that we turn control over to multiple rival tax agencies that will compete to make it as easy as possible to pay your taxes. And why not? As a small business owner, competition is the world that I live in. I see how it works for things like groceries, appliances, dentistry and bicycles. Why not taxes?

I vote for progressive parties. And yet I can why the centre and right get votes from businesspeople. Most federal and provincial reporting standards are based on the assumption that you can hire a full time accountant with high-end software. For small, entrepreneurs, dealing with government is a nightmare. Admittedly the centre and right don't actually deliver on their promises, but that gives them a nice well of discontent to placate next election.

That above conversation? I have some version of it with the following *entirely separate bodies*

- EI, Income Tax, CPP (see below on how this works)
- Corporate report
- Worksafe (now four times a year)
- GST (thankfully annually - but I know people who have to file every month)
- Corporate income tax
- Personal small-business income tax
- Municipal

None of these people talk to each-other. And all this takes up a chunk of our monthly hours. I'd like to put it away so I can get back to my job - you know, that thing that makes money so I can pay taxes so the government can pay for things.

This is a really bad system that wastes the very money it collects, and could be replaced with a single desktop app.
I remember being harassed a a CFS women's caucus, which was part of a larger "progressive organization's" strategy to misgender me as a means of... actually I don't know what they thought that would accomplish. Deeply antagonizing people is not a good way of getting them to say "let's keep paying these people large amounts of money." This was 2007-2008, and I'm now 33.

I've had people say that what we did to push Lu's Pharmacy to admit trans women was "letting the patriarchy win."

The next time someone makes some kind of arument that ends in "believing women are equal is the definition of being a feminist," I may fold my post-bac in women's studies into a paper airplane and chuck it at them.

Back in the early 2000s, prior to transition, I was unable to access the books on gender in the library at the SFU Women's Centre (this was before Nadine Chambers' trans-friendly term), which delayed my coming out... as a woman. This delay had some psychological and medical consequences for me, and also prevented me from being able to fully be of use to my community.

Fortunately, I was able to find hep elsewhere - eventually.

For me, that's still a raw point with conventional women's organizing - even "trans-inclusive" organizations (I use scare quotes as "not kicking us out" is, in my opinion, not the same as "including us") there's still the assumption that it's on trans women to sort out our gender issues Somewhere Else while cis women and CAFAB trans folks can use the informational resources and community for help. Once trans women have done the most gut-wrenching and often dangerous part, *then* we're welcome to come in... for support. But that's kinda late, y'know?

To question whether one needs a clear gender identity before accessing a gendered space (or at least for CAMAB folks) is a political frontier in women's organizing. Disputing it is almost sacriligeous, at least judging from the reaction one gets. But it's actually really weird when you think about it. Consider: we have youth programs that will admit trans girls, but they rarely have a mechanism in place so that trans girls can come out in the first place (and then survive), which means that even in trans-inclusive girls' orgs, most trans girls are effectively barred from entry - not by the overt actions of the organization, but by its conscious inaction in the face of a hostile society.

When I bring this up, the response I get is often that there are resources available Somewhere Else and that trans people (or rather trans women) can use those until they come out to the standards of the women's organization. (Unless they're genderqueer, in which case they experience sexism, trans-misogyny, transphobia and... no direct support) The people saying this usually overlook that the T* resources are almost always smaller, poorer, open less, and more geographically dispersed.

Imagine if LGBT organizing took this approach - only providing people with access once they've already clearly and publicly come out. We wouldn't get a lot done. The beauty of more flexible spaces is that you can get/give support now and make up your mind later.

One might ask: "How are we supposed to have clearly deliniated women's spaces when people aren't out as women?"

Another might answer: "If your 'woman' can't be clearly deliniated, how can you have clearly-deliniated women's space?"
I think a lot of people share David's impression, and as producers, we have a lot to learn from it.

Lack of diversity is one of the reasons that I don't go to most theatre very often (or have any qualms about torrenting mainstream movies) - most shows don't reflect the diversity of my community, not just in race but on many other axes. I am not only disinterested in seeing these performances, I would rather put money towards something that provides acting opportunities for the range of people in my community. I have ethical concerns as well - I can't tell if the lack of diversity is due to a lack of applications (as in your case) or due to outright prejudice from the casting chain (writer-producer-CD) - something I have fought against as a producer on many occasions.

Here it sounds like the problem is a lack of applicants. What to do?

As a nonprofit admin turned business owner turned producer, I have learned that when there's an odd demographic skew in applications, something has gone funny with outreach. And if it's not corrected, we'll wind up with a sub-par applicant pool. Fortunately, it's easy to fix.

I recently shot a music video about transgender people and I found eight transgender actors to be in it - plus a couple trans extras. It's attached to a TV show that has three transgender leads, three trans principles, and two trans actors ("actors" is the TV term for "bit parts"). A lot of people - okay, almost every seasoned film professional I spoke to - thought this was an impossible casting attempt for even a high-budget show with an international reach. And yet we found 6 people in Vancouver, 1 on the Island and 1 came in from Montreal. If I can find transgender actors without breaking the travel budget, I think there may be some nifty ways to get some more racial variety in theatre applicants going forward.

As near as I can tell, the biggest obstacle is as follows: People who are less-castable or who are cast poorly are *often* likely not to apply where they assume (or rather, have learned due to experience) that they will be wasting at least a day prepping and auditioning - even if the breakdown doesn't specifically exclude them. The more experienced actors have agents, and agents are *even more* reluctant to do this. For example, a breakdown may not mention the physical size of a character, but fat actors have learned not to bother applying to anything that isn't explicitly written with a large person in mind as they will only be wasting their time. In my case - I'm not *that* badly off in terms of castibility, but I have learned not to apply for most romantic (heterosexual) roles on account of my gender-variant appearance - there are tomboys who like guys (I am sometimes one of them), but I'm still not considered. Unforunately, hetero romantic roles are about 80% of female leads - so I don't apply for those. But anyways, something similar goes for for non-local/non-american accents, trans status, plain-looking people, and race, among other factors.

So. How to find those motivated actors?

To get around this as a producer, we:

1 - Make it crystal clear in our breakdown that we want a variety of human beings. In the case of race, we don't just write "all ethnicities" as for some reason, agents don't get that this means exactly what it says. We have learned to either write "ethnicity preferrred" (the TV term for "POCs welcome. No. Seriously. We mean it."). Or we write four identical breakdowns for different racial groups - "25-40 female" becomes "25-40, female South/East Asian; 25-40 female, Aboriginal or Black; 25-40 female, Arab or Latina.

2 - Make sure that the breakdown gets in front of people who have given up on reading mainstream breakdowns. Facebook groups. Tumblr. Community bulletin boards. Asking people for help spreading the word. If the role is not token but respectful, producers can usually expect enthusiastic support.

Do this, and you'll get a wider variety of applicants and a better and more motivated cast. (The funny thing about less castable actors is that when we get a decent role, we will generally bust ass on it because this is probably our only shot this year.)

Plus, you'll get a fresh new audience who will love your show all the more for speaking a little more to their friends and family.

- I'm also available for consultation ;) -



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