Friday, May 25, 2018

Today is a historic moment in the Republic of Ireland. The referendum to repeal the 8th Amendment to the Irish constitution—the one (written by men) declaring that a woman and her fetus have an equal right to life. The one that has driven women for decades to make difficult, lonely, painful, shame-filled journeys to other countries to terminate pregnancies.

It was meant to ban Irish abortions. In reality, it only banned them on Irish soil.

As you might expect from a country under the thrall of an extraordinarily reactionary Church for centuries, Ireland has some of the most repressive laws on the planet WRT women’s reproductive rights. Basically: a woman has no rights when it comes to what goes on inside her uterus. The Evangelical Taliban in my country looks to these laws with drooling envy.

The hashtag #Hometovote is trending across Twitter as women (and men, to be sure) are traveling back to the old country to cast their votes—some No, but the preponderance Yes. Bankok, Los Angeles, Stockholm, Toronto, Hanoi, Sydney—some booked their tickets as soon as the referendum was announced. Some, unable to fly home themselves, have offered to pay the fare for others able to go.

(Part of the scene at Dublin Airport yesterday, welcoming citizens returning to vote.)

The stories told in the length of each tweet (just cast your eye here, if you’re wondering) are at once uplifting and heartbreaking. The #Repealthe8th movement originated out of sorrow, following multiple cases where women (and girls) were forced to carry deformed or dying fetuses, or bear children resulting from rape; where women died from dangerous pregnancies because abortions were denied them.

I see that the opponents are waving the false flags that we see here; if abortion becomes legal then hardly any pregnancy will come to term. Blah, blah, blah. There’s a lot of talk from the Church about the sanctity of life and women’s sacred role in it. This ignores the fact (noted above) that Irish women still get abortions; they just have to leave the country to do so, or seek back-alley providers, as women have done for centuries. And it’s not a good look for an institution that for decades brought the Irish the Magdalene laundries and endemic sexual abuse of Irish children by Irish priests who were protected by the entire Church infrastructure.

(Look—I’m not anti-Church. Entirely. I’m anti institutions that do not accept accountability for their crimes, and which still think they’re living in the Twelfth Century, and that we should join them there. I am of the opinion that they should either catch up to us here in the Twenty-first, or shut the fuck up. This includes the Republican party.)

If the referendum passes, it’s likely that the Dáil will enact legislation allowing abortion under some conditions up to 12 weeks into pregnancy. This is hardly the abortions-on-every-corner state the Noists are predicting. I get it—allowing women to make decisions about their own reproductive plans is a massive threat to the Patriarchy. Getting the vote in the first place was bad enough; #Repealthe8th is another shove at the pillars of the Temple of Men (by Delilah, not Samson).

But—whether it’s this time or the next, or the one after that—it’s coming. Vote, my sisters (and my brothers). Be brave and proud. Make history.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

There otter be...

It was a long day yesterday, capped off by 105 minutes working on Excel spreadsheet formulae for five years of cost calculations—for one major element out of at least three in a five-year business plan.

Let me just say that there may not be enough distilled spirits to get me through the next month.

So I’ve stored this clip of outtakes from Muppet otters to apply to my sensibilities—for purely therapeutic purposes.

Every single time I watch it I start laughing so hard my eyes leak.

Which is exactly what I need.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

If you can't do the time...

You may be aware that, since roughly January of last year, the banner of the Washington Post has included this tagline:

I’m sure it burns the bacon of Li’l Donnie Two-Scoops and all his GOPig gang. At least, those who can read.

However, WaPo’s got nothing on the Aspen Daily News (circulation 14,500):

People: this is what your grannies (and Baretta) have been telling you for generations. Will you never learn?

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Data protection

The deadline for the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is approaching. The law takes effect on Friday, which is when any personal data stored within the EU has to adhere to standards of privacy that sends companies like Google, Apple and Facebook into cold sweats.

Even if you are physically outside the EU, and you think you only interact with non-EU companies, it’s a good bet that your data has passed through the entity, and that’s enough to get the companies in question to update their terms of service to appear to comply with the law, while they work out ways to circumvent its intent and continue to sell it to anyone who’ll pay for it.

This means that you (and I) have been recently deluged with emails from the tech/publishing/retail world and his wife reminding us that they have our data and inviting us to “update” our privacy settings. I’ve mostly run through the exercise without paying too much attention to the vehicle. However, the one I got from this crowd (who put on a possibly dubious Web Summit in Lisbon, and occasionally email to inform me that one or the other of their staff is planning on being in San Francisco and would love to have coffee with me) led to an opt-out screen that is just a little slanted in its presentation:

Monday, May 21, 2018

Gratitude Monday: floral relief

I spent a good part of the weekend knee-deep in work. You know—emails flying, Microsoft Office playing silly buggers, empty financial modeling spreadsheets throwing terror into the depths of my soul.

And it’s going to be a tough week, too, as I’ve got to pull some pricing models out of my hat, my least favorite part of product management.

So I was surprised and grateful to notice this gardenia fixing to open on the little bush right by my patio door.

There are a few more incipient buds on this plant. But right now I’m holding on to the joy of this one.

Friday, May 18, 2018


This week went to hell pretty much on Wednesday, and I hit the utter nadir (I hope to God) yesterday, between work and the gov’ment*. So I’m closing it out with this:

*It seems that Fairfax County’s Personal Property Tax administrators work only part time, which barely gives them the hours to send you bills for years during which you were not a resident, but not the hours to be at their desks to take your phone calls to remind them you've sent them documentary proof of your non-residence. I hate living in a Confederate state.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Parking privileges

Huh—it’s mid-May again, so time for the annual weekend invasion of the Nation’s Capital by cops.

I worked from home on Friday so I didn’t witness the gathering, or the spandex. But when I walked to work Monday morning, I saw the Orlando PD’s array of motorcycles parked across 12th Street from the Metro Center Marriott.

This appears to be their spot. And as I pulled out my camera to take some shots, it occurred to me that if you’re the police, you can apparently leave your motorcycles on the sidewalk.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Getting a grip

As presaged on Monday, yesterday the cast came off. And—considering the 90-degree-plus-about-105%-humidity—not a moment too soon. If there is anything slimier than the inside of a cast on sweaty skin, I do not want to know about it.

The PA cut through the carapace and pulled away the shell, then I had a proper old scrub of the skin.

There’s some tenderness, but no pain; most of it is apparently due to the four weeks’ constriction inside the cast. And I’m peeling skin off like I used to after a day at the beach.

My surgeon is quite pleased with my healing—he gave me a referral for OT, but he said I don’t have to use it unless I really feel I need it. (Glad about that, because I was not looking forward to the $40 a pop co-pay.) Ditto the thumb brace; better that I just get back to (careful) normal movement.

The first thing I did—before even the surgeon came into the room—was take out pens and start marking up some work documents.

I cannot tell you what a joy that was, even just with the crappy office pen. Ditto pouring a glass of bubbly and holding it in my right hand to drink. I came home (although operating the gear shift was a bit problematic; I expect that’ll improve) and took a shower without having to stick my arm in a plastic bag!

Small joys, my friends. Small joys.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Special handling

I am by no means a Social Media maven, but I have some familiarity with much of the terminology. So when I saw this on a website that puts itself forward as a high-tech, with-it platform for connecting high-tech with-it women jobseekers with companies committed to diversity in the workplace, I did a bit of a doubletake.

I’m not even going to quibble about not capitalizing Facebook and Twitter—although they’re proper nouns, and I bet that you wouldn’t like it if people cited your application with your company name misspelt.

But if you’re going to toss around all the usual SoMe suspects, you might want to learn that it’s a Twitter handle, not handler.