And now, for a good laugh,

read this:

Article in the Guardian.

Sounds like more people should learn how to “go floppy”. (It’s good to see police officers finally wearing masks too, by the way.)

Meanwhile, Priti Patel continues to be devoid of any semblance of a healthy perspective:
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/sep/08/extinction-rebellion-criminals-threaten-uks-way-of-life-says-priti-patel

A suit that I used to have

This is an image that I associate with me, or rather with my pre-England me and perhaps even with my pre-US me.

I even used to have a suit like that too and I bought it before I moved to the US. Very fancy. I bought it at De Bijenkorf in Amsterdam. 100% cotton. By a German fashion brand that no longer exists.

This image is almost the exact opposite of how women are seen and supposed to behave in England… It is good to be reminded of that on a daily basis so I just selected it as my screen photo.

Me and the world’s most openly misogynistic nation do not get along and I doubt that we ever will. And I am probably living in its most misogynistic city.

In any case, it is a nasty, sadistic form of slavery that I am living in. (Characteristic for the local culture, according to Portsmouth City Council, in private. In public, they desperately sell the city as rose-coloured and vanilla-flavoured.) I genuinely wish that I could kill the people who are doing this to me, who are continuing to keep me in slavery.

So that I could be free again, smile again, LIVE again. Not to mention “make a living again, support myself financially again”.

So that I could do and be all the many things that women are not allowed to be and do in Portsmouth, England (according to Portsmouth City Council). 

 

She Speaks (by Debbie Cameron)

Reposted!

language: a feminist guide

Three years ago, to mark the political party conference season, I wrote a post about Great Political Speeches—or rather, Great Male Political Speeches. On most Anglophone lists of the best speeches of all time you will find just one token woman, or if you’re really lucky, two. British list compilers typically select from a field consisting of Elizabeth I, Emmeline Pankhurst and Margaret Thatcher; their US counterparts, who (still) can’t choose a female president, tend to go for Susan B. Anthony or Sojourner Truth.

Of course, it’s not surprising if the female speechmakers of the past can’t compete with the likes of Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King. In addition to being gifted orators, these men were leaders of global stature, speaking at key historical moments on subjects of grave import. Until recently very few women, however gifted, were in a position to tick…

View original post 1,513 more words

When is it time to leave?

A father said to his daughter “You graduated with honors, here is a car I acquired many years ago. It is several years old. But before I give it to you, take it to the used car lot downtown and tell them I want to sell it and see how much they offer you. The daughter went to the used car lot, returned to her father and said, “They offered me $1,000 because it looks very worn out.” The father said, ”Take it to the pawn shop.” The daughter went to the pawn shop, returned to her father and said, ”The pawn shop offered $100 because it was a very old car.” The father asked his daughter to go to a car club and show them the car. The daughter took the car to the club, returned and told her father,” Some people in the club offered $100,000 for it since it’s a Nissan Skyline R34, an iconic car and sought out after by many.” The father said to his daughter, ”The right place values you the right way,” If you are not valued, do not be angry, it means you are in the wrong place. Those who know your value are those who appreciate you. Never stay in a place where no one sees your value.

 

 

I so agree with this headline by George Monbiot: “If you think the UK isn’t corrupt, you haven’t looked hard enough”

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/sep/10/uk-corrupt-nation-earth-brexit-money-laundering

But it does not happen only in London and only on a large scale. It happens everywhere, also here where I live, and on all kinds of scales.

What do I do? What value do I offer?

What do I do? Good question. Keep reading.

I used to help people succeed in their work, mostly. That is not something I can do within England, is it?

I started up several other new businesses focused on adding something worthwhile to local people’s lives such as enabling them to stay in their homes, fight injustice done to them or adorning the walls of their homes with beautiful art reproductions. That didn’t work.

I slowly started learning more and more about this country works, which challenges it has and which pluses.

One challenge, apparently, is workplace bullying. According to various reports and newspaper items.

Because workplace and community bullying is immensely destructive AND expensive for business owners, I just posted an article on LinkedIn about this. With most people still working from home, businesses now have a unique opportunity to ensure that workplace bullying does not resume when their businesses return to somewhat normal operations.

The problem with that is that bullying and cruelty are glorified in England. (Otherisation is; it starts with that.) How do you break through that? By pointing out that it is not okay and repeating that over and over and over. Eventually, some of the message has to make it across.

My own value has always been that I am a catalyst for change. This includes change that results from painful realisations. This function of being a catalyst seems to be my inescapable role in life. The harder I run away from it, the more it always seems to follow me, confront me. So at some point you have to stop running away.

It’s part of the reason why I am still in England. Someone in the Netherlands has said to me, a few times, that staying in England is like hitting myself with a hammer. I don’t see it that way. I see it the way psychologist Kelly McGonigal puts it. Seek meaning rather than to focus on avoiding discomfort.

 

Impostor syndrome

In England, perceived “impostor syndrome” among women (as perceived by men) likely has more to do with a woman having to wonder whether someone peed into her tea or coffee when she turned her back or whether that client meeting will end up with her walking into a sex shop because her male colleagues believe that this will prove how incompetent women professionals are.

(How that works? Tell her that you’re about to meet a client at a restaurant, keep talking with her and distract her, then lead her into the sex shop. If the men surround the woman, obscuring her view, that’s likely easy enough to do. Happened to a top accountant in London. Ha ha.)

If you are asking yourself if your company or department might be like that too, let me know. I can help you figure it out and if needed, help you resolve it.

Personally, I have never met a woman with impostor syndrome, to my knowledge, but many men seem to be obsessed with it as “something that women suffer from”. 

Yes, “impostor” can also be spelled “imposter”.

Some thoughts on policing

One “but” regarding my final remark. We need their input, but we should take great care to sever connections with the existing structures and cultures.

We should create specialized units – as I have argued before – and do away with the one-stop shop setup we have now, with most cops considering themselves or needing to be experts at literally everything (cyber crime, mental health, people’s trustworthiness, business reliability, stalking, money-laundering, relationships, housing, drug use) while in practice they often know very little about these areas.

 

How to keep people poor

Take their control away by forcing them onto prepaid power (and/or gas) and paying any housing benefits to their landlords.

It teaches them that they have no control over anything and even takes the overview away of what gets paid when to who.

They become powerless pingpong balls that way.

It’s treating adults as if they are fiver-year-olds.

Alternative? UBI  or  pay everyone’s rent/housing and everyone’s energy and fix the rent amount (per person?) to stop its often predatory nature from making people homeless and/or poor.

Amazon and the new book: Not working out…?

Here is a raw file for the interior of the paperback: pdf. It’s for Amazon, which for some reason refuses to update the cover and is now actively selling the book with a textually flawed cover (the back cover, in terms of layout and one weird typo) that I uploaded last week to see if the design would work out. They okayed it. They’re selling it with an interior file that is not up-to-date either.

If Amazon keeps refusing to update the cover and the interior file, I will pull the book, of course. 

Strange. Only a few days ago, I had to shut down my PayPal business account because of security breaches there.

Also, Amazon’s KDP account on Twitter then started pestering my timeline with ads but refused to respond. 

 

Obesity. Why Boris Johnson has got it wrong.

A brief off-the-cuff analysis

Boris Johnson on obesity

What CNN said

“Boris Johnson’s latest strategy to fight coronavirus aims to make Britain healthier”.

“Johnson’s government launched its Better Health strategy in an effort to combat the country’s high obesity levels amid the pandemic.”

What Johnson said

On 11 August, he posted a video of himself on Twitter.

“I was too fat.” 

“I’ve always wanted to lose weight for ages and ages”

“And like […] many people, I struggle with my weight.”

“If you can get your weight down a bit […] and protect your health, you’ll also be protecting the NHS”.

“We want […] to understand the difficulties that people face (with their weight).”

Why Johnson said that

COVID-19 attacks people who are in less than optimal health more fiercely. This includes obesity, but obesity is more complicated than carrying excess baggage. It is also about existing health disparities in society, disparities that became exacerbated by the first wave. That means that it is about poverty and air pollution, about racial discrimination and marginalisation, too, so it is about the whopping level of inequality Johnson’s country suffers from. 

With the second wave of COVID-19 likely ahead of us and many people having gained weight during the lockdown, Johnson is keen on raising his finger and tell the subjects what they must do to protect the NHS, the NHS about which so many people are worried that he will sell it off to the highest corporate bidder with no concern for the people who work there and the people who receive care there.

Food availability forgotten

Abundance

People like Boris Johnson live in abundance. They can order any kind of food in and they will get it, avocados and all. The rest of us, well, we aren’t all so lucky.

The lockdown

The stockpiling caught many people by surprise. Has Johnson seen the disappointment and quiet desperation on the faces of the people who wanted a tin of tuna or two or some sardines and found that they were all gone? So was all the salmon in the coolers.

Has he any idea how many people were eating lots of rice and tortilla chips and pasta and cheap cookies during the first weeks of the lockdown because they had no choice? They can’t build up food supplies at home. They had to cope.

Food deserts and poverty

There are areas in which predominantly poor people live. They have fewer options for food-shopping and the food in such food deserts tends to be more expensive. Because people have no choice, the supermarkets know that they’ll buy it anyway.

Has Johnson any idea how many people consume lots of rice and pasta and bread and cheap cookies and instant potato mash all the time because they have to?

It is often said that poor people do not have pots and pans or poor people don’t know how to cook. Poor people can have all the pots and pans in the world and may be former chefs but it will not help them if they do not have access to good food.

They get tins from food banks, too. Tinned sugared peaches, tinned sugared rice puddings and custard, instant noodles, cheap rice, tinned tomatoes, baked white beans in tomato sauce, tinned sausages or spam (or tuna), tinned spaghetti, orange juice, some cookies or chocolates. No leeks, no cheese, no salmon, no broccoli, no mackerel and no apples or grapes. No nuts. No avocados or pizzas or lasagnes or sushi or quesadillas. No vitamin and mineral supplements to make up for any deficiencies.

Corporate greed forgotten

The need for proteins

We all need a certain amount of protein in our daily food. This is not a weakness of poor people, but it is human biology. How much protein you need depends on your age and on whether you are for example pregnant.

Rich versus poor

Rich people’s diets can be a little too rich in proteins. It is a different story for poor people. Good protein sources tend to be more expensive foods.

The protein leverage hypothesis

It says that humans will keep eating, eating and eating to reach that minimum percentage of protein that they must have in their food. This theory was developed by David Raubenheimer and Stephen Simpson at the Charles Perkins Centre of the University of Sydney, Australia.

Corporate greed

If the human leverage hypothesis holds up — and as it makes sense, it likely does – this human requirement for sufficient protein and the urge to keep eating to obtain it creates great opportunities for greedy food manufacturers.

But Johnson did not mention the food industry. He wags his finger at the people and tells them that they are hurting the NHS. His government’s proposals to curb the food industry only appear to concern advertising and may well remain mere proposals.

UK government failing its people

When does Johnson start pointing the finger at the people who cause poverty and malnutrition instead? Obesity is often essentially a form of malnutrition and as Philip Alston has said, poverty is a political choice. Philip Alston was the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty who found the UK government unresponsive and in denial in 2019 when he told it what it was doing to millions and millions of Brits. The UK government shut its ears for Alston’s words and diverted its eyes.

Pollution effects and other health disparities

Air pollution

COVID-19 also disproportionately affects people who live in areas with high levels of air pollution. That — living with pollution — also tends to go hand in hand with poverty. Has Boris Johnson ever said a word about that so far? Not to my knowledge.

Discrimination

Health disparities that seem to affect people of certain ethnicities and with tinted skins more are, to a large degree, the effect of their discrimination and marginalisation.

Discrimination causes stress. Prolonged negative stress can affect health, including lowering one’s immune response. The chronic stress of racism can lead to chronic inflammation.

Discrimination, marginalisation and poverty also affect access to health care. Did you know that physicians are less likely to refer black people for testing, for example?

You do not need to have hate or even dislike in a society before groups of people become disadvantaged and marginalised. All you need is to have separate groups of people and a power imbalance from the beginning.

The groups that hold most of the power will prosper more and more while the people in the other groups have the low-paying, front-facing jobs in which they are at the highest risk for diseases like COVID-19. They are the ones whose bosses tell them to come to work even when they are ill. They live in the areas with the highest pollution, the dusty and mouldy homes with sometimes a lot of noise disrupting their sleep, the food deserts with the expensive supermarkets. They are also the ones who face the longest waiting lists to get medical care.

And they are the ones whose landlords may change the locks on their doors because of the high-risk jobs they have and the fear that they may bring COVID-19 home with them.

Investing in women and learning to listen

Who prepares food and who shops?

Often, it is still the woman in the household. It’s also women who hold the lowest-paying jobs. Investing in women and in eradicating gender inequality — in addition to working to eradicate racial and other inequalities — therefore should also help diminish health disparities.

Cooperation needed

The fact alone that Britain expected to have to stockpile foods and medications in view of Brexit is a strong indication that the UK government needs to learn how to cooperate better with others as well as organise itself better. That requires listening to people, also to those with dissident opinions, instead of conveniently dismissing them as an excuse to carry on business as usual.

To sum it up

Boris Johnson appears to be unaware of the social determinants of health and the health disparities that existed before COVID-19 came along. Whether people are poor, disabled, elderly, migrants or non-whites affects the chance that they are in optimal health and obesity can be part of that. The extra weight of people like Boris Johnson is a different story.

Further reading

Bouie, Jamelle. 2020. Why Coronavirus Is Killing African-Americans More Than Others. Higher rates of infection and death among minorities demonstrate the racial character of inequality in America. New York Times.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/14/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-racism-african-americans.html

Kumar S, Quinn SC, Kim KH, Daniel LH, Freimuth VS. 2012. The impact of workplace policies and other social factors on self-reported influenza-like illness incidence during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. Am J Public Health 2012;102(1):134-140. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3490553/

Quinn SC, Kumar S, Freimuth VS, Musa D, Casteneda-Angarita N, Kidwell K. 2011. Racial disparities in exposure, susceptibility, and access to health care in the US H1N1 influenza pandemic. Am J Public Health. 2011;101(2):285-293. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2009.188029. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21164098/

Villarosa, Linda. 2020. ‘A terrible price’: The deadly racial disparities of Covid-19 in America. New York Times Magazine. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/29/magazine/racial-disparities-covid-19.html

There is also ample literature on the health effects of pollution, the association between poverty and health as well as between poverty and pollution and on the lack of attention for the good health of older adults. That race is a social construct and that racial disparities generally have more to do with discrimination and marginalisation than with genetics both appear much less well known. In itself, it tells the story of all disadvantaged groups of people, including for example the elderly, the poor and the disabled in the UK. The health disparities of these groups should not be seen as separate, just like pay differences for men and women and gender roles also have to be addressed if we want to make the world a healthier place for everyone.

You can watch the video by Boris Johnson here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EtwFoTzVdZs

Is cruelty cool?

My book titled “Is cruelty cool?” will become available on 31 August.

This book is for people who believe that cruelty gives you edge. But it is not only for them.

This book is also for all the otherized people in England. The 3million and all the other non-UK citizens, the disabled, the women, the feebleminded, uppity females like me who don’t know their place, the poor, the elderly, many of the educated and of course everyone whose skin is not lily-white (including Priti Patel even though she keeps repeating that she wants to reduce the number of people like me, the low-skilled cheap labour that supposedly forces the UK government to keep wages low and the English poor).

It’s for black people and native-American people in the US and it is for people who are workplace bullies or who used to be workplace bullies and for people who are the target of workplace bullying and community bullying or who have a friend or colleague who is being bullied in the community or at work as well as for some employers. It might be good if a few more English politicians other than Priti Patel would read this too but most of them are likely too busy feeding voters crap. The kind of crap that encourages cruelty…

And the people saw that it was good…

It must have been centuries ago, many hundreds of years ago, when King Prius of Leftus to Litmus de Lexus and yonder Alset was King of Caranoland. Prius was lazy. He didn’t believe in learning or working. He believed in pilfering and war so instead of investing in schools and healthcare and universities and housing, he kitted his people out with guns and knives and armor and sent them all over the world to conquer and pilfer and bring the loot home.

Oh, how vast his kingdom became. It stretched all around the globe with countries happily being robbed of their people and goods just so that they could support King Prius (or so he may really actually have thought in his boundless arrogance).

And the people saw that it was good.

They took and received all the treasures from the foreign lands and lived in splendor and squalor – which both sounded equally good to them – and if anyone happened to get into the way, well, too bad.

And the people continued to live in Squalor and continued to see that it was good as King Prius who lived in Splendor kept reassuring them that they had no need for education and healthcare and all that stuff because they were naturally superior, in no need of education and healthcare and all that stuff, and there were plenty of countries left to plunder so that they could live happily ever after.

And the people agreed that it was good.

And that’s how an entire nation ended up collectively kidding themselves into believing that they were a superior, healthier and brainier race than all the folks in foreign lands and so they never even noticed it when the foreign lands raced by them because they didn’t possess the knowledge to recognize it. After all, they had no need for education and healthcare and decent housing and all that stuff and they firmly believed that this was so because after all, King Prius of Leftus to Litmus de Lexus and yonder Alset had said so.

So they knew that it was right and it was good.

King Prius, of course, never told them about it when he’d had to stop plundering those foreign lands when his soldiers were getting their butts kicked and successfully continued to convince them to live in Squalor while he continued to live in Splendor.

And the people knew that it was good.

Because King Prius of Leftus to Litmus de Lexus and yonder Alset and Lamborghini had also ordered high walls to be built around the country so that nobody who wanted to come live in Squalor too could get in.

Keir Starmer, values, the pandemic and the British. Are they in sync?

In a live webinar that took place on 24 June 2020, Keir Starmer said that there was a feeling among many in the UK that “we haven’t got our values right”. You know, that brought tears to my eyes, mostly of relief and also a little bit of gratitude.

Because I too feel that many in the UK haven’t got their values right and that is certainly reflected by the UK government.

It goes for many people in various other countries too, of course.

People who have no problem with cold-hearted callousness. People who see no problem with keeping other humans as slaves. Modern slavery shackles between 20 to 50 million people around the world, depending on how you define it.

People can be kept almost like cattle in stable-like conditions or be in a slightly better situation, trapped and for example sent to apply for housing benefits or other benefits that will go to their keepers. Who cares.

This parallel with how humans exploit non-human animals reveals the connection between how we treat each other and how we treat other species and vice versa.

Only a few days later, Keir Starmer badly messed up during BBC Breakfast on 29 June. Gone was the human rights lawyer with the emphasis on the importance of treating each other humanely, having worked in all sorts of countries all around the world suggesting that he had seen and learned so much. In his place, we saw someone much harsher and quite callous, someone keen on sending thousands to jail and someone who dismissed “Black Lives Matter” as a moment, as something that happened in faraway daft America, had nothing to do with the UK, thereby dismissing everyone in the UK who is not lily-white.

The slithery slippery slope of politics exemplified. Two sharply contrasting faces. The same man. One addressing young people in Britain, including non-indigenous Brits, the other addressing the typical BBC Breakfast audience.

So I guess that Keir Starmer does not have his values right either because “values”, that’s just whatever you present that you think will gain you most votes in his view. In the webinar, he spoke appreciatingly of “Becky” several times. The next day, he fired her. It does not matter whether she had her values right or not. If she did not, then it would have been clear long before that day and she should not have been part of Starmer’s team and if she did, then Loyalty 101 should have applied. Enough about that.

The COVID-19 lockdowns made many people more compassionate in the UK. More considerate. We started noticing each other more now, without judging. The social distancing rules forced us to look at each other and estimate the distance first instead of instantly assessing and judging each other on appearances or not even noticing those others and just walking by them.

On the same day when Starmer emulated Priti Patel on BBC Breakfast, I also read this.

Great UK headline 29 June 2020. This appears to confirm that there is indeed a feeling throughout the UK of “we haven’t got our values right”.

Apparently, lots of Brits want the country to be fairer. But for whom? And how long will that sentiment last? Fingers crossed!

Dismantling police forces

Police forces no longer serve a useful role in society and have become a source of pain and crime and destruction, of historic untouchable lawlessness, in almost all countries.

They set the wrong example across the board.

I agree with Black Lives Matter’s initiative to defund police. One major American city has already decided to do away with its police force. I applaud that decision.

We shouldn’t merely reform police forces. We have to dismantle them and start over from scratch, applying what we’ve learned.