miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
Marks and Spencer and the National Autistic Society have launched a school uniform range aimed at the parents of autistic children. Note that I say aimed at the parents of autistic children, rather than aimed at autistic children. All the blurb is to do with how easy it is to put on, and how hardwearing it is. The subtext is that it's designed for kids who can't dress themselves. This is clearly aimed at parents.

The other way you can tell that actually autistic people were not involved in this is that if you ask any autistic person what is most important for them in clothing they will tell you it's the fabric it's made of. Many autistic people have comorbid eczema, and a lot of those that don't have sensory issues, which mean that fabric and texture are hugely important in clothing. Something that is in contact with your skin all day needs to be made of something non-irritating; that almost always means 100% natural fibres. Cotton, or bamboo, or silk, or modal. Sometimes wool, but sometimes not. NEVER SODDING POLYESTER. And some of the clothes in that M&S range are 65% polyester. And of course it's very wearying that the only clothing specifically designed to be worn by autistic people is school uniform, because nobody of above school age is autistic, and no autistic child ever wears non-uniform clothing. AND they've "removed pockets for comfort". I have never known an autistic person who didn't want MORE pockets, as long as they are made from 100% natural fibre too.

So what would clothing for autistic people actually look like? Well, from the conversation on twitter today:
  1. Clear, obvious fabric labelling on the rack/shelf. While most of us just want everything 100% cotton, some of us prefer other natural fabrics like linen, and some actively prefer viscose or modal. Some of us can cope with silk or wool, some can't. Every single one of us, though, would like to see fabrics clearly, obviously labelled on the rack, without having to go hunting through the clothes for a tiny illegible care label.

  2. No polyester. Not even a little bit. Not ever. No, not even in linings.

  3. Linings are important! Linings are the bit that is actually in contact with your skin, so they need to be all natural fibres too. Note, though, that this does not mean you can take a garment made out of something horrible and line it with cotton and it will be OK - outer fabrics need to be touchable too.

  4. Care labels to be made of the same fabric as the clothing, not scratchy plastic.

  5. Elastic to be covered with the fabric the clothes are made of, not left to be in contact with your skin.

  6. Flat seams! Or even NO seams!

  7. For Cthulhu's sake, SOMEBODY make some bras we can wear! It is really, really, incredibly difficult to get hold of cotton bras, to the extent that I have considered making my own. And even if/when you DO find them, they are covered in non-cotton frills and lace and fripperies. And have stupid care labels made of plastic right in the middle of your back.

  8. Comfort and fit are much much more important than being on trend. I saw an article the other day that low slung waist trousers are coming back into fashion and actually cried.

  9. Moar pockets, on everything, especially women's clothes - but again, made of the same fabric as the actual clothing

  10. Stop saying things are "cotton touch" or "cotton feel" or "cotton rich". All this does is bugger up searching for cotton things. And actually, make your website searchable by fabric. That would be amazing.
And a clothing store for autistic people?
  1. Would be lit sensibly, not with migraine-inducing lighting.

  2. Would have the afore-mentioned obvious, clear clothing labels on the shelf/rack.

  3. Would sort by size and colour as well as style.

  4. Would have assistants that wait to be approached rather than badgering you the second you enter the shop.

  5. Would not have music at all (many many autistic people love music, but find music that they don't like intensely irritating; whatever music you play some of us will like and some won't) and would ideally have sound baffling so that other people's conversations are not intrusive.

  6. Would open from (say) 12 till 8, rather than 9 to 5. Autistic people are more likely than others to have odd sleep patterns and/or working hours.
Now, if some kind banker or venture capitalist would like to give me a wad of cash to make this a reality... And to M&S and the NAS... I do appreciate that you're trying, and I don't wish to appear ungrateful, but if you consulted any actually autistic people in fomulating that clothing range it's not immediately obvious. Please, please, bear in mind the priorities of actually autistic people, not the parents of autistic children, when making clothing that the autistic people are actually meant to wear. Remember the phrase: nothing about us without us. Thank you.

In chirpier news

Aug. 19th, 2017 10:19 am
flick: (Default)
[personal profile] flick
The day after we got back from Helsinki, I was mucking out Bugsy's stable when I heard a lot of chirping and noticed that there were swallows flying around.

Having raised their first clutch, they've built a second nest. This one is in the rafters above the tack room (and, thankfully, above an open area of floor rather than anything that will take harm from having bird poo all over it!), which they're accessing by flying into Bugsy's stable and through the roof space.

I'm glad they're doing so much better this year!
nanila: little and wicked (mizuno: lil naughty)
[personal profile] nanila
Poll #18711 Eye candy
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 46


Which?

View Answers

Vin Diesel
9 (19.6%)

Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock
18 (39.1%)

Yes, yes please
9 (19.6%)

Fast AND furious, hurr hurr
7 (15.2%)

No thanks, fit bald men aren't my thing
14 (30.4%)

I have a really short attention span. What was the question?
7 (15.2%)

Cake, anyone?
23 (50.0%)

Ticky!
16 (34.8%)

vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Reread.

This is the nth book in McGuire's Toby Daye series. Can't say I recall the exact ordinal, but it's definitely early. Stats with a party, but quickly switches to a quest of sorts, as Sylvester, Duke Torquill, tasks Toby with checking up on the county of Tamed Lightning, headed by his niece, January. Mostly because it's a small place, nested between two domains not quite at war. And nothing had been heard from there for quite a while.

At first, things seem fine, although a smidgen is. But as usual, in Faerie first impressions are not what they seem.

Eminently readable, but I would hesitantly say that this series grows better later. All that said, it is perhaps not a bad place to start, if you're curious. There will be things that have been explained earlier, but the general "the series has hidden mass accumulated" is not nearly as prominent as when you're 6-7 books in.

The Blood is the Life for 18-08-2017

Aug. 18th, 2017 11:00 am
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b
dancefloorlandmine: DJing at B-Movie Nov 04 (DJ)
[personal profile] dancefloorlandmine
On Saturday 12th, I loaded the car and set course for Leeds, as I'd volunteered to do a DJ set for BiCon 2017. Arrival, loadout, help set up the venue, shower, change, back down in time for the ball (with thanks for Fred for feeding me, as I'd missed a step in my plans!), enjoy sets by Katy and Lucy of DJ Frabjous, and then onto the decks. The venue was, to say the least, quite warm. OK, it was baking up there on the stage, and I was dripping by about half an hour into my set. Although that may also have had something to do with the stage being large enough to dance properly behind the decks.

The ball's theme was 'A Beach Ball', resulting in some varied decorations (and some remote-controlled helium fish), and some inspired costumes (which included the first time I'd seen a beach hut waltz to 'The Impossible Dream').

With the planned end of my set coming up, the organiser re-arranged the schedule so I could keep going for another half hour. And then the bar staff announced that they'd be open for longer than we'd thought they would be, and I could add another half hour (which explains the slight false stop and the sudden grab for any CD to keep things going).

So, what did I play for two, no, two-and-a-half, no, three hours? (Some of the tracks were drawn from, or in other cases, vaguely influenced by, the extensive crowd-sourced Spotify request list that attendees had added to in advance - although quite a few of those might have got played anyway. Others were entirely my fault.)

2200-0100 )

And thank you to the dancefloor, for trusting their DJ, and keeping going to tracks they'd probably not encountered before, like Heartsrevolution or Ferocious Dog.

Worldcon Recs

Aug. 17th, 2017 02:28 pm
juliet: (waveform tree)
[personal profile] juliet

Mirrored from Juliet Kemp.

Here is a list of the recs I picked up from various panels I attended at Worldcon. (These are likely not complete, but they’re the ones that I wrote down.)


In Defense of the Unlikeable Heroine:


  • We Who Are About To – Joanna Russ


Non-Binary Representation In Fiction:


  • Transcendent: The Year’s Best Transgender Speculative Fiction – ed K M Szpara (anthology)

  • The Black Tides of Heaven / The Red Threads of Fortune – JY Yang (forthcoming in Sept)

  • Provenance – Ann Leckie (forthcoming, but read some on her website)

  • Jacob’s Ladder – Elizabeth Bear

  • River of Teeth – Sarah Gailey

  • Pantomime – Laura Lam

  • Killing Gravity – Corey J White

  • Interactive fiction Craft phone games (Choice of Deathless/City’s Thirst) – Max Gladstone (you can play an nb character)

  • “Masculinity is an Anxiety Disorder” (essay) – David J Schwartz

  • Rose Lemberg

  • Foz Meadows

  • A Merc Rustad


Beyond the Dystopia


(This one should be complete as I moderated the panel and made a point of writing them down to tweet afterwards.)


  • Two Faces of Tomorrow – James P Hogan

  • Culture series – Iain M Banks

  • Dragonlance

  • Too Like the Lightning and Seven Surrenders – Ada Palmer

  • The Postman – David Brin

  • A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and A Closed And Common Orbit – Becky Chambers

  • Hospital Station – James White

  • Malhutan Chronicles – Tom D Wright (panelist)

  • Orbital Cloud – Taiyo Fuji (panelist)

  • The Goblin Emperor – Katherine Addison


Older Women in Genre Fiction:


  • All Fun and Games Until Somebody Loses An Eye – Christopher Brookmyre

  • Blood Songs series – Anthony Ryan

  • Remnant Population – Elizabeth Moon

  • Barbara Hambly


Also, Catherine Lundoff keeps a bibliography of books with older women protagonists.


Colonialism and the Space Opera:


  • Praxis – John Williams


Moving Beyond Orientalism in SFF:


  • Black Wolves – Kate Elliot

  • Vixen and The Waves – Hoa Pham

  • Isabelle Yap

  • Ken Liu

  • Stephanie Lai

  • Zen Cho


(Plus one from Nine Worlds in which the MC has Borderline Personality Disorder: Borderline – Mishell Baker)

The Blood is the Life for 17-08-2017

Aug. 17th, 2017 11:00 am
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b

Culprit identified....

Aug. 16th, 2017 09:11 pm
flick: (Default)
[personal profile] flick
While weeding the back garden (this time with gloves on), I found another mystery plant, this time with white flowers, and Mike identified it as self-seeded nicotiana, the sap of which the internet confirms can cause skin irritation.

Fortunately, my diagnosis of the blisters as big but minor was correct: they've come off, and the skin underneath is undamaged. I'll have to remember that in future!

Vienna: Tiergarten Schoenbrunn

Aug. 16th, 2017 01:27 pm
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
[personal profile] nanila
Fish
Keiki squats down to look at the fish in the polar bear enclosure at the Vienna Tiergarten.

The Schoenbrunn should definitely make the top ten of every visitor attraction list of Vienna, if not the top three. It’s the gigantic former summer palace of the Hapsburgs, and the grounds alone merit at least a half-day stroll to explore fully. There are gardens, fountains, hidden playgrounds, an enormous glasshouse full of palm trees, and even a zoo.

Despite having visited the Schoenbrunn grounds many times, I’d never been to the zoo, which is allegedly the oldest in the Western world (founded in 1752). Now, with two small children, one of whom is animal-obsessed, I had good reason to go. The children and I set out early one morning to travel via the Viennese underground to the palace.

Humuhumu was keen to learn how to navigate the transport system. She got very good at spotting the way to the correct train lines, and proudly announced when the next train would be arriving after we got to the platforms.

It took us 45 minutes to get from our temporary abode to the Schoenbrunn and, conveniently, it was just about Cake O’clock when we arrived. We detoured around the palace entrance and stopped off at an Aida Konditorei, a chain of inexplicably pink cafés that serve extremely nice cakes, coffees and hot chocolates (apart from the one near the opera house – avoid that one; everyone who works there is sick of tourists and very grumpy).

We walked into the Aida and chorused “Guten Morgen” at the round-faced, unsmiling woman behind the counter. She broke into a beaming grin and showed us to the table next to a tiny play area containing toys and books, which the children pounced upon. (Throughout the trip, I encouraged the children to greet everyone we met in German, to say please and thank you in German, to order their food using the German words and, when I felt confident in my knowledge of the right phrases, I coached them to make requests in German. I was astonished at the abundance of goodwill toward us that this produced.) Humuhumu ordered her hot chocolate and cake in German, and was rewarded with an additional pink meringue, which she received with an unprompted “Danke schoen”. When we left, Keiki crowing “Wiedersehen” over my shoulder with his dimpliest smile, the server came out from round the counter and gave each of the children an extra biscuit, which, to be honest, they didn’t really need after all that sugar!

Full of energy, we bounded into the grounds of the Schoenbrunn and raced around whilst waiting for the grandparents to join us at the entrance to the Tiergarten (Zoo). As vast as the Schoenbrunn grounds are, they are not big enough to house a comprehensive collection of the world’s animals, so cleverly the Tiergarten is focused on a limited number of species and provided them with luxurious accommodation.

Keiki and Humuhumu loved the place, particularly Keiki. Once he spotted the meerkat enclosure, we couldn’t get him to finish his lunch. Neither could we readily tear him away from the penguins. In fact, Granddad had a bit of a job keeping Keiki from clambering into their pond to join them. We communed with the seals. We watched a polar bear chewing meditatively on a traffic cone. And, of course, Humuhumu found a climbing wall and had to try everything.

It was a wonderful place to spend a sunny afternoon, and we will certainly return to the Tiergarten on our next trip to Vienna.

Further photos beneath the cut.
+++ )

The Blood is the Life for 16-08-2017

Aug. 16th, 2017 11:00 am
miss_s_b: (Default)
[personal profile] miss_s_b

Marrow mountain...

Aug. 15th, 2017 08:59 pm
flick: (Default)
[personal profile] flick


Sigh. And the early tomatoes have blight (although the later ones, farther from the polytunnel door, seem clear so far).

Home now, all well (other than Mike coming down with a cold). Will catch up on email over the next day or so....

Slightly worryingly, just after coming in from picking veg I noticed a couple of big-but-minor blisters on my fingers. I did pull a couple of weeds (without gloves) while I was out there, but I'm now wondering which of them were noxious.... There was something unfamiliar with purple flowers. Hmm.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Reread.

Third and most probably final volume of Kress' Probability series. Starts about, oh, 2-3 years after Probability Sun. Again, features and ensemble cast. Again, I can't say jack without spoiling the previous volumes.

And, possibly boringly, again eminently readable.

On the up-side, I am now caught up to "now", having carefully rationed up the last week-and-a-half's write-ups over two days. Go me!
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Reread.

The sequel of Probability Moon in what I have chosen to call (don't recall if there's a proper name) Kress' Probability series.

We continue the multi-viewpoint narrative, as a group of intrepid scientists (and military) return to World, where they expect to be solidly classed as "unreal". Things happen, science is done, setting the scene for the third book of the series.

I wish there was anything cogent I could say about this that would not simply be stomping all over the reading of #1 in the series, but that's pretty much it.

Still, a rather pleasant read, all things considered.

Amsterdam: Stedelijk Museum

Aug. 15th, 2017 01:26 pm
nanila: (me: art)
[personal profile] nanila
In early July, the bloke & I went to Amsterdam for a couple of days for my (very) belated birthday celebrations. His parents kindly looked after the children so we could have our first holiday alone together since they were born.

One of the things we did was go to an art museum and wander around for a couple of hours. This is not a thing you can do with small children, unless you have imprisoned them in a pram, and then there would (not unreasonably) be screaming.

I’d previously been to both the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum. The bloke had never been to the latter, but as it was the height of summer, it was not a good time to go. The place cannot cope with the number of visitors it receives, and unless you book days in advance, you can’t get in. When you do, you still have to queue, and you end up shuffling in a slow-moving crush of people past all of the artwork. It’s not a great experience. We opted, therefore, to go to one we’d never been in: the Stedelijk Museum, which is dedicated to modern art.

I really enjoyed the collection. It was well curated and I now have a little list of new (to me) artists to keep my eyes peeled for in the London exhibitions.

Photographer Zanele Muholi takes photos of LGBTQ+ community members in Africa. I definitely want a book of her work. It was a little irritating to find, at the end of our visit, that of all the special exhibitions on display, hers was the only one without a corresponding product available in the shop. No books, no postcards, nothing. Hmph.

20170711_123055
From her “Brave Beauties” series.

+++ )
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Reread.

It's been a few years since I read this, I think. All in all, eminently readable.

We're flipping between viewpoint characters, sometimes we're following Enli pek Brimmidin (I am now unsure if it's "pek" or "Pek"), a woman from World who's been declared temporarily unreal, for having done unreal things, thus violating Reality.

Sometimes, we're following one of a few Earth scientists, on World, trying to figure out things like "how does shared Reality work" and "that mountain over there is mighty strange, I wonder why". And we also have a bunch of Earth military going "that is not a moon, it's an artefact!"[*].

All in all, eminently readable, happy I decided it was the next to push into the queue.

[*] That may look like, but isn't, a spoiler. You're told this in the first 15-20 pages, IIRC.
vatine: books-related stuff (books)
[personal profile] vatine
Previously unread.

This is an entry out of sequence, but there's too much to clean up to make it worth sorting numbers out, sorry.

Where was I? Ah, yes, this is set in the same fictional universe as Seeing Red, but takes a completely different tack. We follow a young woman, who after a very mysterious aviation accident find herself not at ALL in her familiar Australia, but in a hilly, rain-foresty elsewhere. Adventure and perhaps a little romance happens, and so forth.

I suspect it's one of those that grow with repetitions, but even so I found it quite readable with a sense of "OK, now what?" when over and a "just a few more pages..." when reading.

Claims to be a first in the (sub?) series it's in, Return of the Aghyrians.

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