Vulnerability

Brené Brown’s talk (see previous post) has gotten me thinking a lot, not just within the context of the new eugenics.

I’ll need to read her book on the topic (even though what she is saying has been said by many others before her).

In the past few months, I was reminded rather harshly a few times of the fact that men seem to have a great need for women to be vulnerable. (By this, I mean that they’re uncomfortable around strong women and often try to tear them down verbally – though the other explanation of this sentence is equally valid.)

Not all men, but men who… feel vulnerable and have a hard time dealing with it.

For example with not measuring up to either their own or the world’s ideas of who they are supposed to be, professionally.

Though, of course, the story is often much uglier than that (see not only the first but also particularly the second part what Sallie Krawcheck said on LinkedIn recently).

So, at first sight, the problem with vulnerability can seem to be that it needs to be censored, and also that it needs to be dished out in measures, instead of freely.

If you make yourself appear too vulnerable, it can backfire greatly, because it makes some people focus on your vulnerability to such a degree that they believe that you have no strengths whatsoever (or that you view yourself as worthless).

That may sound like a problem, but it isn’t. As long as you surround yourself with strong people, things will be fine. And if you run into weak people, their response may upset you briefly but that’s fine too, and maybe you’ll inadvertently help them grow.

Strength is the willingness to make yourself vulnerable and admit that you’re vulnerable. Some people, however, tell themselves that strength is the absence of any vulnerabilities. That means that they’ll never be who they want to be. How frustrating that must be.

We’re more than bits of software designed to tun on electronic equipment. Vulnerability makes us beautiful.

You can see this reflected in the valuation of handmade items over mass-produced ones. The process of making something by hand exposes the creator to the possibility that the process might fail. The end product could be seriously flawed, all the time and attention “wasted”. (It won’t be wasted as it will likely have resulted in learning and possibly produced relaxation, and hey, the joy is in the journey, not in the reward.)

We inherently value the risk that the creator takes as much as the wonderful result of the process when it doesn’t fail. We sense the fragility in the end product.

Mass production has been optimized to minimize flaws and products with flaws are removed in a quality control process that we hardly ever think of as consumers.

Consider flawless mass-produced drinking glasses over exquisite hand-blown glass ware.

Some time ago, someone wrote to me “It must be difficult for someone so thoroughly talented/blessed, to not be able to take a compliment without examining it for booby traps?!?!”

And I thought “What the hell is this about?” because I had no idea. (I still haven’t been able to identify the “compliment”.) The message came from someone who appears to have a great need to feel superior to others. I suppose that my willingness to be open about my vulnerabilities over the years must have led to the idea that I don’t believe that I have any talents?

Maybe I should add that the other person is in a country that has a very different culture and style of communication than the one that I have been in for nearly fourteen years now. I surely have assimilated many of the mannerisms that I am surrounded by. That’s only logical.

Okay, so I probably often do come across rather oddly to people in other countries these days, because they expect me to behave the way I used to in the past, the same way they do. That causes a mismatch that is unidentifiable for them and that likely makes them feel slightly uncomfortable. (Look at the Brexit negotiations, for instance at Angela Merkel’s frustration with Theresa May in this context, to see how differently people from my current culture communicate. David Cameron had the same problem, by the way.)

I on the other hand had been thinking he might be taking the mickey because he’d suddenly sent me a puzzling series of messages, in which he partly seemed to be parroting me in in a strange way. I thought that the parroting in itself was already quite odd. It’s something people do when they want to make fun of you, after all.

But then again, come to think of it, parroting may also be something certain men do automatically when dealing with women, probably because they subconsciously want to be liked. Maybe that was the compliment.

“Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.” – Brené Brown

 

Loophole in Seagate’s Business Storage 2-Bay NAS products

If you use one of Seagate’s Business Storage 2-Bay NAS products, you will want to hear this. It may concern all versions up to 2014.00319 but certainly

  • Business Storage 2-Bay NAS version 2014.00319
    and
  • Business Storage 2-Bay NAS version 2013.60311
The vulnerability allows unauthorized root access. Seagate knows about it but has kept quiet about it, alleges this article in the Hacker News.

Homelessness, housing duty and vulnerability

Today is the third of three days at the Supreme Court that focus on homelessness, housing duty and vulnerability (or rather, priority).

courthouseThe three cases are:
– Hotak (Appellant) v London Borough of Southwark (Respondent)
– Johnson (Appellant) v Solihull MBC (Respondent)
– Kanu (AP) (Appellant) v London Borough of Southwark (Respondent)

(Interveners in all three cases:
Equality and Human Rights Commission, Shelter, Crisis and the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.)

What is it all about? Predominantly 189(1)(c) in the Housing Act 1996:

189 Priority need for accommodation.

(1) The following have a priority need for accommodation—

(a) a pregnant woman or a person with whom she resides or might reasonably be expected to reside;

(b) a person with whom dependent children reside or might reasonably be expected to reside;

(c) a person who is vulnerable as a result of old age, mental illness or handicap or physical disability or other special reason, or with whom such a person resides or might reasonably be expected to reside;

(d )a person who is homeless or threatened with homelessness as a result of an emergency such as flood, fire or other disaster.

(2) The Secretary of State may by order—

(a) specify further descriptions of persons as having a priority need for accommodation, and

(b) amend or repeal any part of subsection (1).

(3) Before making such an order the Secretary of State shall consult such associations representing relevant authorities, and such other persons, as he considers appropriate.

(4) No such order shall be made unless a draft of it has been approved by resolution of each House of Parliament.

Hotak is a pretty straightforward case, at first sight; the two other cases are less clear. Hotak concerns two brothers, one of which (Sifatullah) would certainly be considered vulnerable if the other one (Ezatullah) had not said that he would look after his brother. The brothers were living in a friend’s flat in Southwark, but told to leave because of overcrowding. Ezatullah’s immigration status at the time, however, made him ineligible for housing assistance.

Southwark did give the brothers temporary housing while it made its mind up. It decided that Sifatullah was unintentionally homeless, and eligible for assistance, yet did not consider him vulnerable in terms of in priority need of housing because his brother was looking after him. This is where the case went off the rails.

If Sifatullah were a pregnant woman, unintentionally homeless (as it is called), and eligible for assistance, whether the person with whom she resides or might reasonably be expected to reside supports her or not makes no difference, as one of the lawyers highlighted on Monday.

Another one pointed out that the law does not contain an element of comparison. A person’s own condition makes him or her relatively vulnerable when on the street, and the law had the intention of preventing and eliminating all homelessness. This would mean that a) there is no such thing as “an ordinary street-homeless person” (used by Southwark to compare Sifatullah against) and b) one could say that being homeless in itself already points toward a person being less able to fend for himself or herself, as homelessness is not the norm in this country.

It looks like the practice of the application of this legislation – carried out by the decision-making housing officer – has been moving toward comparing a blind applicant with street-homeless blind applicants, deaf applicants with street-homeless deaf applicants, mentally ill applicants with street-homeless mentally ill applicants, applicants with substance abuse with homeless people with substance abuse.

More specifically, practice seems to be more and more relying on the premise that all homeless persons are, almost by definition, street-homeless mentally ill and/or substance abusers and/or physically ill, deserving no special protection (in Johnson, for instance). The law was not intended that way. The law does not even say anything like this.

The pregnant woman, however, is never compared with other pregnant women to determine her vulnerability. The same applies to any persons who have lost their home in a flood.

“Ideas about vulnerability are perhaps most often applied by those in more powerful positions to define those in less powerful ones.” (Kate Brown)

Housing matters at the Supreme Court – 4

courthouse

Coming up first is Aster v Akerman-Livingstone, on 10 December.

lady justice Hotak v London Borough of Southwark has been moved and is now scheduled together with two more cases, Kanu v London Borough of Southwark and  Johnson v Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council, on 15 to 17 December. Central question: What is “vulnerability”, in housing matters?