Turning inclusivity into semantics

Yesterday evening, I was supposed to take part in a Medact reading group to discuss this paper:
Selvarajah S, Deivanayagam TA, Lasco G, et al Categorisation and Minoritisation BMJ Global Health 2020;5:e004508. Accessible via this link: https://gh.bmj.com/content/5/12/e004508   

BIPOC? BAME? Minoritised? White, black, coloured, Asian?

Otherisation – possibly a term coined by Oxford neuroscientist Kathleen Taylor – is much broader than skin tone. Otherisation leads to discrimination and marginalisation and with marginalisation and discrimination come health disparities. While it is good to be aware of that, and perhaps also document it, the solution does not lie in semantics.

The solution lies in inclusivity.

How did I arrive at this conclusion? I am BAME, a minority nationality in the UK, but I am never included as part of BAME because BAME = non-white skin tone, isn’t it? And I am white.

The first GP I encountered in England did not (seem to) believe me when I said I was a scientist. He also wrote in my file that I had an alcohol problem, without ever having discussed alcohol with me, let alone what kind and how much. It was the result of an innocent language hiccup and his bias, towards older women and/or unmarried women, I think, rather than towards migrants. I was 45.

His colleague, the great younger guy I saw next, a week or so later, discovered the problem. He noticed my confusion when he started explaining that alcohol abuse had negative health effects, at the start of the appointment. He ordered a blood test to make sure that my sugar levels were fine.

He also opened and drained a cyst on my back. He gave me his trust and belief in me when I said that I’d be fine in a few minutes and needed nothing and that the best they could do was leave me in peace and not force me to talk so that I could regain my breath after I started hyperventilating. (It’s related to a childhood incident; it was made worse by teachers in my early school years. It’s no big deal and I figured out how to deal with it a long time ago; these days, it’s very rare for me to hyperventilate.)

He’d already noticed it during the treatment, bless him. To him, I was a person, not a label.

Health and healthcare disparities also affect people with mental health issues and physical disabilities. In the UK, people with non-negligible disabilities currently are five times more likely to be food-deprived. Nutrition-deprived. There you have one major cause of health disparities.

Poverty.

As a result of otherisation, discrimination, marginalisation, in a country with excessive inequality.

Older adults, too, just like people who are not white, often receive less good healthcare. People who aren’t white are less likely to be referred to a specialist (called “consultant” in the UK). Or for tests. The hospital.

The solution to healthcare and health disparities is to treat everyone as a human being, not as a label. Education. Unfortunately, in order to do that, we have to convince the powers that be that these health disparities exist (and how they come about, to a large degree, that is, to the extent that they are not caused by for example by the nature of a disability).

In some cultures / countries, that is frowned upon as something to be abolished. Collecting data on skin tone and ethnicity at every medical facility because it is experienced as discriminatory. In others it is seen as something that we must do first in order to be able to remedy the problem.

So we’re back to labels.

It’s not about labels. It’s about acknowledging that we are all human beings and deserve the same basic levels of housing, nutrition and other necessities in order to be in good health.

I hope that the Medact reading group ended up deciding to write and submit a comment to that article in the BMJ.



(I may not have the equipment needed to take part in such online meetings, I’ve discovered. I have some figuring out and possibly some configuring to do. But I also had a sudden bout of sciatica, so I was cranky and occasionally yelping, which would have been an annoying distraction for the other participants anyway. That will pass. And I’ll find a way to solve my equipment problem.)

“Let them eat biscuits” – kids, disabled people and other humans – food deprivation in the UK

This morning, I attended another online meeting about the escalating inequality, poverty and associated misery in England and the rest of the UK. That is, I was 15 minutes late, so I missed a few things.

It was also about how useless the UK government’s response is, as usual.

The only “advantages” coming out of the pandemic are going to the pals of the politicians who get large contracts to supply services and tangible products that they have no previous experience with. (This has led to a lawsuit, as you know, with the court ruling that the UK government is breaking the law through the lack of transparency. The judge wrote: “The Secretary of State spent vast quantities of public money on pandemic-related procurements during 2020. The public were entitled to see who this money was going to, what it was being spent on and how the relevant contracts were awarded. “)

 

 

14 million people in the UK live in poverty, it was said. That’s slightly under one entire quarter of the population.

Severely disabled people are currently five times more likely to be food-insecure.

Some links:

https://covidrealities.org

 

https://www.livingwage.org.uk/sites/default/files/Low%20pay%20in%20the%20supermarket%20sector.%20LWF%20briefing_0.pdf

Comments from food-insecure people have included that they’d much rather have cash or vouchers over parcels. They are much better at stretching money than they are given credit for, getting cash or vouchers enables them to take food allergies into account and also allows them to buy fresh fruit instead of the obligate tinned peaches and mandarins, cereal instead of cornflakes and helps them avoid the cookies – or “the bloody biscuits” as the person in question put it.

From the chat:

“Let them eat biscuits.”

“The global humanitarian sector has been significantly moving away from food parcels to food vouchers. Cant believe in UK we still at food parcels discussion.”

“Most local authorities in Scotland have been providing cash payments to families, food parcels are not the go-to everywhere in the UK.”

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How Portsmouth City Council could repurpose empty buildings like the Sainsbury in Commercial Road

We need affordable housing. A lot of it. Particularly young people need this. Young people who don’t have families yet. Certainly now that the pandemic has cut short a lot of opportunities. But there are people of all ages who have no families and who need this. An ideal solution would enable people to stop building up debt and pay them off instead. See it as a form of universal income.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/mar/03/california-universal-basic-income-study


Stopping people from being forced to pay a huge chunk of their income towards rent effectively provides them with more income, after all.

The usual approach is to spend a lot of money on construction, leading to a need to charge relatively high rents that keep people trapped. What if you took a controversial but innovative approach and offer small homes that may look like pigeon holes or rabbit cages but that have everything that people need – including internet access – and allow them to keep their expenses down dramatically?

I got that idea from a video that I watched a few years ago about developments in Japan.

What people need is a warm but private and safe place to sleep and relax, shower, eat and even work, for some.

Tiny high-quality compartments that give people everything they need and allow them to save on rent big time, pay off debts and build up savings are more than only “rabbit cages for the poor” or “pigeon holes for the young”. Provided you do it well and don’t create a ghetto. Rents should be 100 to 200 pounds. The place should have free wifi, could have a few shops – a supermarket and a take-away – and a laundramat.

It should have some rules, such as “you are allowed to consume alcohol and you are allowed to misbehave a little while drunk but if you do it more than five times in a year, you’re out”.

(Bans say “we think you’re irresponsible and so we take your personal responsibility away from you”. Bans spell contempt and ghetto.)

The pandemic would complicate this a little bit, right now, and still require a lot of discipline right now. But the pandemic will pass and it will take a little time to create these living spaces.

I’ll see if I can find the video that I watched to give you some idea what I am talking about. (But I no longer have my older watch history.) It was a documentary about maybe a gamer, not about the housing but about the way this person was living his life. And maybe it was not Japan. I am not talking the usual (cage homes etc). I am talking a collection of modern, purpose-built living spaces in one building. It’s not a solution for the long term, of course, but it is a solution that could particularly give young people’s finances a boost and allow them to focus on things that matter. No more worries about how to pay for a new washing machine for example.

Possibly manga kissas?

I found a video about a software engineer living in a manga kissa in Tokyo because he does not want travel “home” for hours. Has been living in manga kissas for five years. This is not literally what I have in mind for places like Portsmouth, but you can build on this idea. I’ll see what else I can find. The video I refer to above was older.

It must be this one because it is five years old and I had already liked it. Not a gamer but a webmaster.

Manboos.

UK inequality is like a diamond

So hard that nothing shatters it…

This morning, I filmed this short video below. A few hours later, I spotted this JAW-DROPPING BIT OF BRITISH NEWS in The Guardian. Turns out that there is no pandemic, according to close to 50% of Brits. Because if you lost your job because of the pandemic, that’s on you. Nothing to do with the pandemic, these people say.

“Despite the exceptional circumstances [of Covid], Britons are more likely to think that job losses caused by the crisis are the result of personal failure than chance.”

They also say this:

One in eight Britons think lower earnings and higher unemployment among black people are due to a lack of motivation or willpower. Because most black people have “less in-born ability to learn”.

‘scuse me???!

Britain has something that no other country has. The class system. It makes people believe that they have few options and it makes them overlook opportunities. (This class system also impacted India because it used to be under British rule and it meant that the associated cronyism became applied in India.)

It makes others believe this too. It makes others believe that lower-class people and others who have little income are inherently limited in terms of skills and abilities. But not because of their poverty. These people see the poverty of others as a result of who those others are. They don’t see their poverty as a result of lack of income as a result of massive inequality which also brings low wages with it.

I too became heavily influenced by British class thinking after I moved to the UK so I know very well how heavy its burden can be. But I am still much more aware of it than Brits.

In 2019, there was a day for which I had train tickets to go to London but someone told me that it would be better not to go to London that day. I listened to that advice and did not apply my critical thinking skills.

The person who gave me that advice – I won’t name any names – is the kind of person many people turn to for advice. He is heavily influenced by class ideas and at the same time, has no idea of the extent to which poverty alone can hold people back, because of the many practical implications that poverty has. And he sees these kind of people are powerless, not as people who  seem very different people when empowered. Appearances can be so deceiving.

If I had gone to London that day, I might have returned with a boatload of paid work and if not, then I would not have wasted my train tickets – I did now – and have had a good day out. And in times of stress, such little bits of leisure are very important, particularly if they take you out of your regular environment and habits.

That I did not go to London, that’s fully on me, however.

 

In the video, I mention the CAB. I know that there is a lot of variation among the CABs but their main problem seems to be that they, too, operate with a class system mindset. They see powerlessness. Depending on where you are in the UK, there may be better advice options for you locally.

But… please, try to think from true strength as opposed to from weakness and powerlessness. Because thinking from strength will support you and carry you.

And don’t confuse admitting to feelings of insecurity or fear with weakness. See them and embrace them. Don’t fight them. If you don’t fight unpleasant feelings, they will move on. If you fight them, they will cling to you. 

When I was in my twenties, I bought a book that taught me about this stuff, that you shouldn’t focus on how poor you are – if that is your challenge – but more or less pretend that you already are where you want to be.

Stay well. Be prosperous and resourceful. You deserve it.

What makes a sadistic stalker?

How does something like sadistic stalking come about?

Why does someone decide to target a stranger and wreck that person’s life? A lot of it seems to be a loud scream to be heard. To get noticed.

But how do you deflect that kind of behaviour into something neutral or constructive?

Sadistic stalking is horribly destructive. That destruction seems to be its sole purpose. Where does that urge to destroy a stranger’s life come from?

One of the things I want to do is help starting and existing business owners avoid becoming stalked.

(It makes sense, really. As negative as it sounds, anything else I undertake only causes me to be a risk to anyone I work with. A liability. My hacking and stalking experience becomes an asset, however, if I use it to help others within this context..)

As a business owner in this day and age – or anyone whose career takes place online for that matter – you have to be online.

It means that anyone can find you and anything you do or say may set someone off. It could be as simple as someone not liking your business name that draws his attention and make him decide to take a closer look.

Very few occupations may still allow you to operate without having any online presence at all and without using e-mail, text and chat.

How did I become targeted? I still don’t really know, but I have recently begun to realize that there is a possibility that the people stalking me already started to take an interest in me when I joined an online forum related to a hobby. I was anonymous but I joked a heck of a lot on that forum and it may have been in a manner that my stalkers did not like. They were on that forum. Then I asked for a reference on that forum when I was looking for someone who could do some repair and maintenance work. That set it all in motion.

Nobody ever sees it coming. Serious, highly destructive talking.

I certainly never expected to find myself stalked this way. 

Stalking is on the increase. As a business owner, there are things you can do to protect yourself and limit your exposure to stalkers. I can help you with that.

(Think police will help you if you ever were to get stalked? Think again. In England and Wales, even the police forces themselve are now admitting that they fail stalking victims as a rule, not merely incidentally.)

By the way, stalking is usually directed at women, but does not have to be.

 

Here we go again

I had signed up for an online network event by DowSocial, via LinkedIn, organised from London.

It does look genuine – and I had to register for it via Eventbrite – but my hacker appears to have kept the joining information from me just like he stops lots of my own e-mails from reaching people and lots of other e-mails from reaching me (partly thanks to a break-in on 19 July 2020, he now also has full control over my new computer).

Just in case I am wrong about this, I have also reported it to LinkedIn as a fake event, but it fits the pattern of a lot of what has been going on the entire year. I also got invitations to a women’s network, other networking events and so on. The ones that sound meaningful are spoofs or prevented and the ones that are useless for me are genuine or accessible.

The day before yesterday, I had both 3 views and 36 views on a video that I had posted. That changed to 38. Then it dropped to 10 (now 12 or so) after I wrote about this in the video’s description. (I think that this has to do with whether I am actually accessing the internet when I look at the screen or not getting beyond my hacker’s computer network.) 

 

I am living in a repeat of 1930s Germany

(5 September 2019)

The UK government abuses millions and millions of the British, including many children, because it considers them lesser humans and several of its Conservative Party’s politicians have said that those people should not be allowed to reproduce.

(At least one of them participated in a “secret” old-style eugenics conference and it wasn’t for investigative reasons.)

The UK government targets people who are chronically ill and/or disabled, causing many of them to die.

It inflicted austerity on them and made many “mistakes” and broke the law repeatedly, errors that people needed to take the UK government to court over and then have to wait years and years to see remedied so that many more people pass away in the meantime.

But it has hundreds of billions available for the internal power grab it calls Brexit. (Brexit is about power within the UK. Internationally, Brexit will park Britain on a side track, like an old locomotive that is no longer able to keep up.)

The UK government refuses to let child refugees rejoin their families, turning back on earlier promises. Many of those unaccompanied children will end up in slavery, child porn and snuff films, but the UK government will claim that it could never have seen that coming and that it is, therefore, mean to accuse it of heartlessness.

The UK government refuses to give migrants proof of status so that it can claim “we have no record of you” whenever it suits the government and deport people at will and stop them at the border if they want to return home from a trip abroad.

British citizens risk up to five years in prison if they rent to or hire a foreigner who has no formal residential status in the UK. Opening a bank account also requires proof of residential status, I think. I do think the government is willing to offer an online database where people can check a migrant’s status. Oops. “No record of you.” I am not even suggesting that this always has to be deliberate. The British are not necessarily the world’s best record-keepers.

Just typing this is likely to guarantee that I will not be let back into the country. Already on my two previous returns, UK customs had some kind of problem with me after all. But someone has to say it. The UK government wants people who live in the UK to be meek, obedient and uneducated and be able to feed them tons of bullshit (which they will sadly gobble up like candy) to increase the chance that the government will be able to do whatever it wants and get away with it.

Even Brexit Party MPs and MEPs are currently astonished to find out what exactly they have been pushing for. Some of the Leave voters are now seeking exemptions. The UK government fed them bullshit and they eagerly ate it, no questions asked.

Last year, a local guy asked me how I felt about Brexit – I said I had no opinion on it as I can’t vote on it anyway –  and he said to me that in his opinion Boris Johnson had done more for the country than anyone else. He called me “blinkered” when I didn’t agree with his view that my own country is no longer a sovereign state. My egalitarian and prosperous country is in favour of cooperation, prefers to work together with other countries, instead of working against each other. My country chooses to have a voice. The UK voted to have no voice and to withdraw to the sidelines. You’d think that the people in a nation this fond of football would have been able to realise that when a player does not want to participate, he’s out of the game.

The UK government wants to turn back British worker rights. It wants to do away with those pesky human rights that the world came up in response to the atrocities that happened in the WWII period.

We currently collectively seem to be forgetting that the UK government also already has been arresting foreigners at will and can detain them indefinitely, while they lose their jobs and homes, and sometimes also their driving license and passport. These people are sometimes or maybe often simply released again after a while, but now they find themselves without a home and without a job.

But abroad, most people still do not want to believe any of this either. Most have this image of the British as very proper and friendly people, kinda sweet and adorable people, really. Surely the British government, too, consists of very reasonable people, people who will always do the right thing?

Think again.

Nuclear weapons are not the world’s most powerful weapons. The most powerful weapon is to plunge people into excessive poverty. It completely knocks them out but it also weeds out the physically weakest and allows you to keep the surviving ones as moneymakers. Little worker bees who will always do as told because they are not in a position to say no, for various reasons.

The difference with 1930s Germany is that the UK will not be invading other countries next.

So who on earth will benefit? People like Arron Banks whose mining group wants to open more coal mines in the UK, open-pit mines as well as sub-surfaces mines. Some of his wealthy friends will benefit too, along with bankers who don’t want the EU to curb their bonuses. And a few Russian folks, for some reason.

 

And this is what Boris Johnson had to say about poverty today, apparently

Job application tip, particularly if you are living in poverty

If you are living in poverty and/or tend to look pale, apply a little bit of blush when you go for a job interview.

It will make you look healthier and it will make most people see you in a more positive way. It’s a subconscious response. Biology-based.

A research-based tip.

The brain and your parents’ income

Some of you may remember that I talked about the need for poverty therapy a while ago. I come from a prosperous egalitarian country and moving to a country with as much inequality and extensive deep poverty as the UK was a shock for me.

And I have learned to see that my background makes a big difference.

Here is more on that.

Oops. Does this also explain why people in southern England seem relatively, well, underdeveloped? Is it the stiff upper lip and the reticence in engaging in conversations, also with strangers, that is tripping them up instead of making them look more sophisticated or whatever it is they think it does for them? Hmm.

Okay, if this study pans out then this would give the UK’s poorest a reason to sue the UK government for the effect of austerity on their children. Isn’t that something?

Newcastle, four-and-a-half years ago

When this is what your life is like, your world shrinks very rapidly, and with it, your opportunities disappear too, and it’s not your fault.

There have been experiments, also in TV series, in which they gave a family £26,000 so that they could finally DO something and turn their lives around. You see people blossom, find jobs, start businesses and keep them going.

Boris Johnson: Can I have that to go, please?

The days leading up to the election, I got bombarded with ads telling me to prevent a hung Parliament so that he could get Brexit “oven-ready”. It worked. Johnson got his blue (Conservative) Parliament.

What did he do first, to get cooking?

  • Limit the role of Parliament, now that it is no longer a “hung” Parliament, a Parliament that does not vote his way. Surprise surprise.
  • Toss out workers’ rights. Surprise surprise.
  • Throw out concern for people who flee from wars. No surprise there either.

No longer such a tasty dish, is it?

Apparently, another thing that he plans to do is put judges in the courts who will do what he wants them to do. Brenda Hale is set to retire in January, by the way. I am sorry to see her go.

What if…

… you could give all the Brits who’ve been living on next to nothing in the UK for many years and whose nutritional needs haven’t been met in a long time, good food and supplements to help their health recover from all the damage poverty has done to their bodies, for 6 months. Or even 2.

It would make a whopping difference.

Britain is one big torture chamber of a country, isn’t it?

If you vote Conservative or Brexit Party (formerly UKIP), you vote for that.

You vote for all that crazy “class” shit that declares millions of Brits disposable. That includes children.

 

Poverty damages children

In my inbox this morning, as part of BPS Research Digest, an overview of the effects of poverty.

The British Psychological Society:

https://digest.bps.org.uk/2019/12/03/the-psychological-impacts-of-poverty-digested/

Turns out that poverty can be really bad for children, ruin their chances in life. I talk about this in my course, in the lecture on whether it is better to be tall than to be short. The factor that makes the real difference appears to be childhood nutrition.

But not only can poverty affect your brain, it also often makes other people treat you as if you aren’t a fully-fledged human being. Many belittle you or even ridicule you – and that does not help, in my experience. It does not help when the message “you’re stupid, you’re stupid, you’re stupid” gets hammered home over and over and over again.

There is this blind assumption, for example, that if you visit a foodbank, you can’t possibly have anything to contribute to society. After all, you’re “stupid”.

The fact that you’re poor is not the result of how “stupid” you are.

It’s the result of luck, or rather, its absence, as I’ve posted before. Pure chance. Poverty can be the result of having tripped over that wobbly pavement tile. (Or a hacker. Or a disgruntled employee.)

 

“Led by donkeys” has finally come to Portsmouth!

https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/politics/boris-johnson-seeks-to-heal-wounds-after-calling-portsmouth-a-city-full-of-drugs-and-obesity-in-infamous-insult-1-8978726

https://www.portsmouth.co.uk/news/politics/new-prime-minister-boris-johnson-faces-fresh-call-to-say-sorry-to-portsmouth-after-calling-the-city-full-of-drugs-and-obesity-1-9010776

MP slammed over ‘fat city’ slur
Outspoken Conservative MP Boris Johnson has been criticised for labelling Portsmouth as a city full of drugs and obesity.
The comments were made in Mr Johnson’s motor column in men’s magazine, GQ.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/hampshire/6521603.stm

I had already been adding my own version.

https://twitter.com/i/status/1200355500363321345

Boris Johnson:

“Shut this down! Shut this down!”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_gestures

https://www.theneweuropean.co.uk/top-stories/boris-johnson-cut-off-gesture-to-nick-ferrari-1-6400780

I refer you to my previous post. Britain has a massive amount of deep poverty. A shocking level of poverty for a western country. Many of those people are chronically ill or disabled. Was it their fault that they weren’t born with a diamond-crusted golden spoon in their mouth?

Boris Johnson (my translation):

“Fuck those many millions of people, and fuck their kids too. It is simply too easy to make money off them for ourselves if we keep them poor, so for god’s sake, let’s keep them poor and powerless.”

And stupid and blinkered, Mr Johnson?

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_care_in_England

I repeat, social care is for:

children or adults in need or at risk, or adults with needs arising from illness, disability, old age or poverty

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Poverty therapy = abundance creation for everyone

Many people who are not poor have a bit of a habit of blaming people who are poor for the fact that they are poor.

Isn’t that like blaming people for the fact that they were born or for the fact that they have two legs?

People with enough money can actually BLAME and SHAME you for living frugally and not buying into consumerism. That’s nuts.

But after that, it gets more complicated.

Deep poverty is like a small cage you can’t get out of

First, there is the fact that deep poverty makes your world and your world view shrink. When that happens, the number of opportunities within mainstream society shrinks too. You become increasingly marginalized and the better-off may see you as some kind of potentially dangerous wild animal.

Second, deep poverty is often deeply traumatic and can upset people’s relationship with money badly.

Money becomes a source of pain.

What happens next? You avoid money. You want to get rid of it. It makes you nervous and antsy because even when you have a small windfall, you are so acutely aware of all the things you need… and you know that the money will be gone before you know it and that it won’t be enough to cover the things you need, let alone the things that might really make a difference. So even windfalls can become a source of pain and discomfort.

Money becomes like the stove you burned your hand on or the dog that chased you and bit you when you were little.

Money becomes the thing that meant that you had to keep your kids home when all the other kids went on a school trip.

My office contains mostly items that came from Freecycle or the streets or are otherwise “pre-loved” and upcycled. The chair was new, from Argos, cost about £40. My office also has four floor lamps that I bought (partly to enable me to make videos), and three of those came from Argos at about £6 each, and the fourth one also came from Argos and was £15 or so. One lamp on my desk came from the streets (discarded, yes) and the other one from Freecycle and it’s lovely.

Money becomes the thing that makes you sell – or lose – your most treasured possessions (and for some mums on Universal Credit, your body).

Money becomes the pain you feel at Christmas when you know that your kids deserved so much better than what they got.

Money becomes the source of the pain you feel when you have to send your kids to school without breakfast.

And from then on, your relationship with money is forever troubled. Money will always make you feel uneasy and it may make you want to spend it all quickly. Before it’s gone again.

But there is also the other thing, people becoming overly cautious, and ending up spending too much over time because they spend too little in the moment. What is cheap in the moment can be very expensive in the long run. (I even see landlords and their staff fall into that trap.)

An example of that is buying a four-person set of flimsy plastic cutlery for yourself or a friend because it only costs one pound, whereas you’d be better off buying cheap all-metal cutlery for one or two that will last you many many years.

Money is the thing that made your kid trip and hurt his knees because of his shoes.

Prolonged deep poverty can result in a money-oriented form of, what is it? PTSD?

You end up making “bad” decision after bad decision because there is never enough of the stuff and you don’t know any longer what you could do that would really make a difference.

Take the kids to McDonalds on that rare day that you can afford it and stick out your tongue at the gossipping neighbours because life is too short and if your kids get hit by a bus tomorrow, one of the things you will end up regretting is that you hadn’t taken them to McDonalds the day before. Not only because of the food but because of what McDonalds meant for the kids. A feast! A party! Feelings of abundance and joy!

Part of my desk, with my Freecycle lamp. If you have a keen eye, you may spot another item that I bought “new” on the right side in this photo. It is a small original artwork, which I acquired for no more than £25 some years ago and which brings me joy on a daily basis. But I don’t have the latest gadgets, I don’t have the biggest screen on my desk and I haven’t run my fridge for about 18 months now. To my astonishment, I discovered that I actually only rarely need a fridge. We’ve all been taught that we need one and that we need to run it all the time. I needed mine for my eye drops, but then Pfizer started offering a version that does not need to be refrigerated and I now avoid pharmacies that don’t stock that version.

Going hungry too many times can do something similar. Some people have to skip lunch even when someone offers them lunch because if they say yes to that lunch, it will throw their bodies out of whack. Out of the poverty routine. That would make life harder for them.

Charlotte explains it in this video:

If you have gone without sufficient food or sufficient variety for a while, and then suddenly have enough money to eat, you may find that you can’t stop eating as if your body is thinking “quick, quick, before it is gone again”.

That’s biology.

Nobody’s fault.

Is there a poverty phone line?

No.

You can get DEBT COUNSELLING.

But debt counselling often only works if you have a sufficiently high and steady income and nothing ever breaks down and your kids behave like perfect little robots.

I would like to help change poor people’s relationship with money.

Been tossing that over for a few days now. I want to see something started like an AA meeting or support group for people in deep poverty.

AA meeting sounds too much like “It is all your fault”.

No, it isn’t. Money isn’t your fault. It is society’s fault. Money was not supposed to start dominating our lives the way it does these days. Money was supposed to support us, not crush us.

Support groups, then. Self-help groups.

I imagine a room and a table stacked high with notes or a bathtub filled with notes.

Is that abundance? No.

Abundance comes from many things, including what you can do with money.

But for people who have been living in deep poverty for too long, it is like having been locked up in a dark room for years and suddenly being released into the summer sunshine.

I’ll toss it around some more.

When money becomes like cancer, you no longer like money much…

Money is the thing that makes you sit in the dark and in the cold in the winter because you can’t afford to heat and light your home, makes you feel really really miserable and makes you notice how little daylight there is in the winter.

After a few days, you slide into a state of hibernation. It’s a waiting game, waiting for some money to come in.

Money is that thing that makes you pick up a piece of construction foam because you were hoping it was a bread crust.

Money is when you become really thin and somebody compliments you because you are really thin.

(LOL!)

In the meantime, if you’re in deep poverty, but can get onto the internet and do have a headset, go here and listen to this for a while with your eyes closed to clear your mind:

https://mynoise.net/NoiseMachines/pureBinauralBrainwaveGenerator.php

I discovered binaural beats and how they influence brain activity when I was living in Florida in the mid-1990s. They can calm your mind and bring your stress levels down significantly.

If you use binaural beats at home, sit in an easy chair or lie on your bed and relax while you listen to this for half an hour, through your headphones. But listening for 2 or 5 minutes often helps too.

A quick shortcut? Crank up the two levels on the left to get your brain really really really relaxed, the kind of “relaxed” that deep sleep can do for you. Don’t touch the other controls.

 

UK government’s lost again

The Supreme Court has just undone benefit cuts dubbed the bedroom tax for severely disabled people. This issue has been playing for years.

This is the umptieth court case to do with the UK government betraying its own citizens, and the government loses about 99% of them.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/nov/13/uk-government-loses-supreme-court-fight-over-bedroom-tax

This

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What is wrong with Poole, Christchurch and Bournemouth

Its council – along with at least 59 more in the UK, so I understand – treats the results of the UK government’s enduring efforts to push and keep as many people as possible in deep poverty as “antisocial behaviour” on the part of people who live in poverty.

Continue reading

What puts FOOD on the table?

Cooperation.

I just saw this on Twitter:

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When I looked into it, I found that yes, there is interest from Turkey to save about 4000 jobs or so. By the way, Turkey isn’t joining the EU either and the billion or so Turkish people who were supposedly all moving to Britain – as an argument for Brexit – have no intention of doing that.

Campaign paid for by…

 

Brexit-forward

See also my previous post.

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I am so so so sorry that the UK government and the abundance it keeps away from so many of the British makes the person who wrote that tweet feel that way.

Sadly, that lack of abundance for most of the British appears to be part of the historic makeup of British society (the class system and the resulting whopping inequality).

I am not too fond of my own extremely well-organized country because I find it a little bit too rigid, but from living in the UK, I have learned to see how wonderful it is to have no class system and very little inequality. It makes people feel very secure and quite happy, even though they may not be aware of it.

That makes it easier to be welcoming to strangers.

From a book written by a Brit about cultural differences and on how to deal with British people, for foreigners in international business settings.

From living in the US, on the other hand, I learned that my own country was running way behind on women’s emancipation and much too focused on everyone having to be average (as being average is perfectly fine), hence not being very tolerant of and not creating any space for people who wanted more.

When I was living in the US, people who wanted to be very good at something for the sheer joy of it, people who were very driven and enthusiastic, were so welcome and I loved that. I got to know Americans as open, easy-going and welcoming, but also as very hard-working, purpose-driven and goal-oriented.

In my home country, me wanting to work on weekends at the uni made some people consider me a total pain in the butt. In the US, it was perfectly normal for professors to be at the uni on weekends and over Easter.

Striving for excellence, for the sheer joy of it, is a wonderful thing, and that kind of “go for it” “yes, we can!” spirit is such a wonderful thing to have in one’s culture. I understand that part of what made America so great was the sense of everyone having to put their shoulders under it towards the same goal, no matter where you came from, a sense of pioneering and a sense of solidarity.

The way I see it, if we want to solve British feelings of intolerance and general misery and poverty, we must find a way to bring abundance to the people. Not charity. Not PR photo ops. A genuine everlasting sense of guilt-free abundance. This does not have to rely solely on material things, but should serve to make people feel that there will always be enough of anything they need, no matter what. Homes, food, clothes, education, opportunities.

Landlords…

Never had any problems with landlords in the Netherlands. Never.

Had three in Florida. The first and the third were fine, but the second one was not and his attorney was rumoured to have mafia ties, I kid you not. But I heard that later. I think it was actually a legal aid lawyer who told me that who I talked with later, long after I’d moved out and his lawyer started pestering me. I’ll spare you the details.

My third landlord was the husband of the person I volunteered with on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays. (He was a builder, built huge places, the way they are in Florida. Nice guy. I think he was in the US Army for a while, and they lived in places like Morocco. ) She stopped by one day – to bring me two birds – and was appalled and suggested I move in to one of their places. They owned a small apartment building that was mostly used by snowbirds (people from for example Canada who take winter vacations in Florida).

Some time later, I moved to Britain.

In Southampton, I knew several landlords. (Only one of them was mine.)

One said that only educated people were decent human beings, and I was too shocked to respond. He called tenants who rang him because the washing machine or heating wasn’t working (properly) “bad tenants”. This was not my own landlord, but someone I met within a business context and was friendly with for a while. Wasn’t actually a bad guy at all, strangely enough.

I also knew one who proudly told me how he had tricked an elderly woman with beginning Alzheimer’s out of her flat, I kid you not.

On another occasion, the same guy was talking with me about a new building he was constructing and then added that it did not have to be very good “as it is only for tenants”.

In Portsmouth, I’ve met two who dump rubbish on other people’s front courts and patios. I caught one red-handed and the other one admitted it.

I have principles.

If I can help make things better for people who come after me who are less strong in some way – okay, except physically as I am getting old and I am feeling it – I will try to do that. And that baffles the hell out of (most) Brits. But that is not my problem.

Poverty, women and age

Today, I watched a few videos on YouTube about women in poverty, many of whom are homeless or illegally living in a caravan, particularly if they are pensioners. They may get a small pension, but it’s not enough to live on AND rent a place.

They live in the US, Australia, or New Zealand. (I already know quite a bit about the situation in the UK, where one third of the people live in poverty.) They are 48, 57 or 69 years old.

From reading newspapers, I get the impression that poverty is very slowly starting to creep up in the Netherlands too now. That is where I am from, a country where most people still have incomes with lifestyles that now come across as obscene to me, but that I used to see as normal.

There is not necessarily anything wrong with it – apart from the resource consumption that can be linked to it – but I call it obscene because of the giant contrast with the lives I see around me.

To give a comparison that they may be able to understand, their lives are like having gold taps and gold handles throughout the house and expensive champagne with smoked salmon and caviare at breakfast every day.

What strikes me particularly about the stories of the women in the videos is that they never expected to live in poverty and are totally gobsmacked by the fact that they are.

But here is the thing. It’s not them. They didn’t necessarily do anything wrong. It’s mostly the result of sheer coincidence.

Several of them mentioned the 2008 financial crisis. (Thank you, banks.) Others mentioned a divorce, hence suddenly being without a home.

They grew up in a time when life was still good. For most of them, it was a reasonable expectation that they would not be poor a few decades later.

It’s made me remember that in 2006 or thereabouts, various articles more or less predicted this rise in poverty, this sharpening division in the haves and have-nots. There was a lot of talk about corn, and the price of it. The articles said that we were heading for a time of food insecurity and a lot of poverty. It worried me. It sounded alarming. It made me look into emigrating to countries with much lower living expenses and the kind of climate in which I thrive.

If you thrive, physically, you can do more work. If you live in pleasant surroundings and don’t struggle with paying the bills, you maintain better health, too. All of these factors help.

I seem to recall that those articles also said that knowledge workers would increasingly get into difficulties, but that the opportunities for creatives would likely become much better. Back then, I had no idea what that meant in practice. (Maybe the people who wrote those articles did not know either.) It is starting to dawn on me now.

Once you’re in real poverty, it’s almost impossible to get out of, it seems, unless you have an extraordinary stroke of luck, for most people.

There have to be ways to solve this, stop this from progressing. Yo, creatives, can you come up with some bright ideas?

The focus of the world is shifting. The articles predicted that too. It’s true. The United States no longer run the world.

Some of the women in the YouTube videos solved their homelessness by taking up house-sitting, although that also sometimes meant that they were no longer eligible for social housing. One of the women has MS, the relapsing-remitting version, and no health insurance.

Something else struck me, too. These women were too nice about it all, too accepting, taking their worries and bouts of depression in stride.

“You’ve got to roll with the punches.”

True, but rolling with the punches means that the punches barely touch you and don’t hurt you. When the punches hurt and you never asked for them, never started the fight yourself, you’re entitled to a bit of anger. There are power and energy in certain kinds of anger – but women are still not supposed to get angry.

At least two narcissists run big countries?

Donald Trump appears to be a so-called grandiose or malignant or overt narcissist, and I am starting to suspect that Theresa May is a narcissist as well.

Her behaviour caught my attention off and on over the years, but I thought she was merely being fairly typically British, certainly for a politician. Now I wonder…

She is heartless/without an apparent capacity for empathy, when she does dish out “sweetness” it is almost always faked for effect, she is calculating and obstinate, lies constantly and does not even flinch when she is caught red-handed, as if she thinks it merely shows how smart she is, she occasionally acts all personally injured, it is impossible to have a genuine conversation with her and not replying at all to clear questions is one of her favourite tactics.

The way she smiles in this video, it’s… kinda nuts, but it seems to fit with how a narcissist might respond. She appears to love how powerless and frustrated – exasperated – her blunt refusal to answer makes Jeremy Corbyn.

And this refusal to reply is not about who ate the cookies.

That makes it even stranger.

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It is more or less how Donald Trump would respond too, right? Or am I seeing ghosts?

There has been research into how it would be perceived if a woman said the things that Donald Trump says. It turned out that the public finds it far more acceptable when it comes from a woman. I find that interesting!

Make no mistake, nobody chooses to have a narcissistic personality disorder. It is a brain-based condition and the exasperation that the condition can cause in others is not that different, perhaps, from the exasperation people can feel toward people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, another, albeit different brain-based condition.

Why the NHS does not get enough funding

Because of all the money that goes into bad administration. Bad government.

“The UK has allocated £2bn ($2.5bn) in funding to government departments” to deal with a Brexit worst-case scenario.

“3,500 troops will be put on standby to maintain essential services”

Imagine what the NHS could have done with those TWO BILLION pounds!

The British motto of “never admit defeat” is starting to look pretty ridiculous, fighting an imaginary war that, in reality, is a war against itself.