Friday, June 19, 2020

A Rainy Day, and J. K. Rowling

Yesterday's rain was the ideal type for the garden -- long, steady, soaking. Some of our plants got a bit weighed down by the water, like the delphinium above, so I went out during a pause and staked a few of them. Otherwise I didn't leave the house all day.

Olga, however, got her walk as usual. When Francisco brought her back he called into the house from the doorway, "She's a little bit wet!" Which turned out to be an understatement -- she was wet and dirty. But that's fine. I gave her a bath and all was well.

Some starlings on the bird feeders had a big noisy squabble in the afternoon.

Remember those antique bottles I found in the trash on my way to work several weeks ago? Well, I put six of them in a little row on our windowsill, but the rest have been wrapped up and sitting in the dining room all this time, and I finally decided I need to move them along. So I listed them on eBay! I haven't sold anything on eBay for years -- maybe even decades -- but it seemed a good way to find them a new home and ensure they won't simply get discarded again. I listed both the medicine bottles (above) and the Bovril bottles. I set the starting bid at £1 because I simply want to find them a home, not make a killer profit -- and someone already bid on the medicine bottles!

I also bit the bullet and went on Amazon and bought some masks to wear when I go shopping. The mayor of London has said we should wear them in shops now that more of them are reopening. The national government has still said basically nothing, but I guess I have my head in the sand given that all over the world people are adopting them and I may as well get on the bus. (Block that metaphor!)

Bravo to the Supreme Court for pulling the USA back from the brink of insanity! The ruling protecting LGBT people under existing anti-discrimination laws was, of course, fabulous, and the DACA ruling makes me so happy because it's a big ol' finger in Trump's eye. Checks and balances, baby! Many Americans have believed for years (wrongly) that federal laws already protected LGBT people from discrimination, so this makes their mistaken assumption official.

Speaking of LGBT issues, J. K. Rowling has been in the doghouse lately for voicing her concerns about transgender issues. Some people seem to think Rowling, who is generally quite progressive, has gone to the dark side by expressing skepticism about trans cultural orthodoxy. I honestly think a lot of the hostility aimed at her comes from people who haven't read anything but Twitter. Rowling herself wrote a long essay about her beliefs that I found quite compelling.

I absolutely support transgender people -- the right of anyone to live, free from discrimination, as the gender they believe themselves to be. I think Rowling does, too. But among other things, she's worried about young people who may want to transition before they're really ready -- and as a gay man, I completely understand that concern. I think a lot of young gay boys (and probably girls) go through developmental periods when they identify with the opposite sex -- I know I did. That might manifest as a desire to transition rather than coming to terms with what it means to be gay, and the social baggage that goes with that. (Not that there isn't also social baggage with being transgender!)

I also get her concerns about women. As she said, "one of the objectives of denying the importance of sex is to erode what some seem to see as the cruelly segregationist idea of women having their own biological realities or – just as threatening – unifying realities that make them a cohesive political class." It makes sense to me that some women would question whether women who used to be men really understand women's perspectives, their lived experiences and their political and social goals.

Anyway, it's a super complicated issue, and I don't have the answers. But the bottom line is, I don't believe Rowling is the enemy. Read her essay, if you're at all interested. (I think her concern about changing rooms is a bit of a red herring.)

Finally, I was sorry to hear that Vera Lynn died yesterday. Just a few weeks ago, around the time of VE Day, I was marveling that she was still alive!


  1. Hello,
    I have always believed in the live and let live way of life. I had heard a couple of things about J.K. Rowling but not much. My son Nathan was telling me that she had some nasty comments on a article that he was reading.

    I don't have the answers either. My daughter Laurie and I did discuss it because my granddaughter Cathy asked what transgender meant. She asked her what she thought that it meant and she said playing dress up. So that started a long conversation.
    Cathy is 11 and she was really quiet for a long time and she asked if she was transgender because she liked to wear blue jeans and guys shirts.

    I too am concerned that kids will feel pushed into things they are not ready for. But I think that questions need to be answered truthfully and to let kids express themselves in their own way and that by doing so they will be able to feel confident and will develop their own personalities and can identify their own sexuality.
    I hope all that made sense.

    I really love your antique bottles. I am always looking for them to use when I make my lotions and potions etc.
    Good luck in selling them. I am sure they will find a good home soon.

    Poor Olga, getting wet and dirty and a bath lol. Poor girl! I bet that she was glad to dry off and rest lol.

    I am glad that the Supreme ruled the way that they did. Both issues are very important and the DACA issue needed to be solved.
    Those young people did not have a choice of what their parents did and they have lived here all of their lives and it was just cruel to rip them away from this country and send them back to a place or places that they don't know.
    I know that a lot of people will not agree with me but it is the way that I feel. This has been their home for years and to just say well you need to go and toss them on a bus and just leave them in a country that they probably cannot even speak the language is just cruel.

    I think that I will go over to my blog and see what I can think of to write about. Have a great day!!!!

  2. It's a good thing that you have finally got round to ordering some masks. This means that small children and little old ladies will be less frightened when they see you approaching.

  3. I was astonished to hear Very Lynne died. I thought she died years ago. 103 is certainly an achievement.

    Were you wetted by the dog shake?

    I wasn't aware that the legislation in the US was blocked. That is a good thing. When young I did have some feminine traits and fantasies before I knew about being gay, but by the age of twelve or thirteen, that had all gone and I was a boy hunting for.........not sure, but I knew it involved men and the magnificence of them.

  4. What I really did not like about the essay was what you called a red herring- the possible intrusion of fake women into women's and girl's restrooms and changing rooms. That's an old tired argument that holds no water. A scare tactic for people who really have no idea what transgendering is. Even if there were a grain of truth to it- what about the opposite? Transgendered men who dare to use men's facilities? They literally are taking their lives in their hands in some instances to simply use the restroom of their gender.
    In cases like this I listen to the people who actually know what the situation is like. It's not unlike the BLM movement. It makes no difference what white people think about the situation. They haven't lived it. It's not part of their reality. We can sit around and assume and try to imagine all day but we've never been pulled over driving while black. And never will be.
    Rowling may think she has the best interests of people at heart but in her ignorance she is hurting so many.
    On the other hand- YAY SUPREME COURT!

  5. I was so happy about the DACA ruling! We have a Dreamer here at work & the first thing I did when I heard was send her a congratulatory email. Now we need to fix it so that she can become a citizen.

    I'm very close to ordering the "I am a Beacon of Joy" mask for myself - I think it's a perfect representation of who I am as a person. Ha! Note - I'm going to try to hyperlink this, but I only half know what I'm doing: Mask Link

    I appreciate your comments about JK Rowling. I've been trying not to dive into that fray because (as Ms. Moon put it), I'm not the expert here. But also it hurts my heart a little, and I wonder if I have to vet all of my favorite authors to make sure they share my values. I think in the end, yes, I kind of have to. In this day & age I'm not sure Art for Art's Sake is going to fly.

    Life is so complicated. This is one of the reasons that I mostly work puzzles & play games on my iPad :)

  6. I got put in facebook jail for saying "white people suck", wonder if I would get put in jail for saying cis people suck?Not read the essay yet, will do when I have the stomach for it. DACA ruling is not etched in stone- there are dreamers thinking to move to France/Portugal anywhere but here.Because the orange administration did not cross the "t's" and dot the "I's" , it could be drawn up again, the Dreamers in peril once again. BUT I will take any good news there might be!

    Flower in the shower is very soothing, pretty.

  7. Thanks for the link to Rowling's essay. I hadn't seen it before and only heard about the backlash against her. I had a feeling a lot of what was happening was because of misinterpretations of her positions. Social media seems to make people quick to jump to conclusions, most of them uninformed.

  8. Your summary that it's a complicated issue is an understatement. It was difficult to see middle school kids floundering with issues of their sexuality when they would ordinarily be going through sexuality issues.

  9. I believe in live and let live. What matters most to me about a person is the type of person he or she is. Honest, caring, loves nature, treats other people with respect, etc. I have not read the essay, nor am I interested to do so. You have a wonderful day, hugs, Edna B.

  10. the two supreme court decisions surprised the hell out of me. good for Roberts.and of course Trump went crazy. need new justices! the conservative way is in danger! nevermind that 3/4th of Americans aren't into the conservative way. and of course he had to tie losing the second amendment and right to life and religious freedom to it all, none of which is in danger.

    I wish we would get some rain. so dry here.

  11. I haven't read the essay and probably won't. I was just so glad about the Supreme Court ruling and it made me feel hopeful for a moment.

  12. Thank you for the link to Rowling's essay. I've only read about the furor on Twitter, and haven't thought hard enough to have an opinion so I appreciate your taking the time to give yours.

    The cloth masks are really comfortable and actually quite chic. I've been looking at Asians wearing them for years, ever since the 2002 avian flu panic, and I think it's a sign of considerable curtesy.

  13. I'm so sorry to hear about Vera Lynn's death but glad that she passed at home. She lived a wonderful life and I'll always love her singing. BTW, Steve, could you email me at I have a dog photo I want to send you.

  14. I thought the issue you mentioned as being a bit of a red herring was more than that to Rowling. She talks about having been sexually assaulted earlier in her life, and I understood her point to be that NON-transgender men could take advantage of open rules to enter women's washrooms and changing rooms in order to carry out assaults. She wasn't saying anything about transgender people being a threat. Her point, if I've understood it correctly, makes sense to me. What is the solution that provides dignity to transgender folks while also providing safety from non-transgender folks? Perhaps individual washrooms and change rooms are one solution. Thanks for the link to her essay; it was an intelligent and illuminating piece, with a number of thoughtful points being made along with the washroom issue, as you discussed in your post.

  15. That was a well thought out essay. I didn't agree with everything she said but I could see where she was coming from. The truth is that being human, being sexual, is complicated. There is a whole spectrum of people with regards to gender and sexuality, none good or bad, all different. I can't even imagine how difficult it would be to go against the "norm".

    I took care of a lot of gay men dying of AIDS in the eighties. They all died. It was horrific and there was a lot of discrimination against those men amongst some of the nurses. We had one lovely man come and talk to us about his experience being gay, I think his partner was a patient on our unit. He asked, "Why would I choose to be gay when it's so hard?" I like to think we have evolved since then but I wonder.

    My own family had a close family friend, Bruce, who was gay and my auntie was gay. I don't remember it ever being an issue in our home, other than my sisters were allowed to travel with Bruce as young women:)

    It's so sad that we still think others are so different from us when we're really just all the same. We all want to be loved and to love. We all want to live without fear. We all want to feel safe.

  16. Steve my email address is.....

    Could you please send me your email address? I promise that I will not abuse it or share it. I just wanted to tell you something and also send you a scrap page or two that I want to do of Olga. Plus maybe a couple more. They would be yours and you can print them out to frame or you can share them or you can even delete them if you want to...

    Thanks and I wanted to say to you thank you for your suggestion for my sisters ears. Yes it does have a name but I don't know it. She is supposed to send me a text with the name and she is also discussing something with an associate of her doctor about some kind of implant that works with a blue tooth... I will blog more about it when I have more information... TTYL and have a great day.

  17. Beth: It must be so confusing for kids to grow up with these complexities! I hope your sister's hearing problems get resolved.

    YP: LESS frightened, but still somewhat frightened!

    Andrew: Same for me. I think it's very common for gay kids to feel some degree of cross-gender identity, until they mature and become more settled in their own place on the gender spectrum. I was also astonished to find Vera Lynn alive when I wrote about her several weeks ago!

    Ms Moon: Yeah, by calling it a "red herring" I may have minimized that ridiculous argument. It's not a risk, except in the minds of others who are fearful. I think Rowling IS a survivor of sexual abuse, though, so I can see how it may feel more real to her. Unlike BLM, I feel like I do have a bit of personal connection to this issue, having dealt with my own gender questions as a very young person. And also unlike BLM, as Rowling points out, questions about gender and identity intersect with the interests of another historically oppressed group -- women. How that intersection works, and how people in both groups feel about it, is very interesting to me.

    Bug: I love the facemasks on that page! I may order one of the alien ones myself. Awesome! But I don't agree about art for art's sake -- I don't think there's any harm in reading works by people with other perspectives. In fact I think it's more of an imperative now than ever. I wouldn't buy a book by David Duke (mostly because I suspect it would be incredibly boring) but I do want to remain open to the widest possible variety of art and literature.

    Linda Sue: Let's face it -- ALL people suck, to some degree! LOL

    Sharon: Social media reduces complexities to one or two snarky sentences, and then people react to those sentences rather than to the original issue with all its nuance. So you wind up in a blizzard of superficial cattiness.

    Red: Yeah, working in a school, I see that too. Of course it takes me back to my own miserable middle school years!

    Edna: Ideally, I feel the same way. But it gets a little more complicated than that sometimes!

    Ellen: I know! They surprised me too! Especially Gorsuch! I love it when a SupCo appointment turns out to be a bit of a surprise.

    Robin: Me too! I don't think the essay is essential reading unless you're interested in trans issues or you're a Rowling fan.

    Vivian: Yeah, I love some of the designs that people have come up with!

    Catalyst: I downloaded some of her songs from iTunes when I read about her death. I already had a few, but now I've broadened by repertoire!

    Jenny-O: Yeah, I think that IS her point, and I understand her concerns given her background. But I also don't think that's a very real risk. I haven't heard of any cases where that's actually happened, and I think sexual criminals aren't likely to declare themselves transgender just to get into the women's room. I agree that individual, private cubicles are the thing of the future, both for changing rooms and restrooms.

    Lily: Yes, absolutely -- I also didn't agree with her entirely but I see where she's coming from and I think she IS being thoughtful about it. There is indeed more commonality among all of us than not. (Although, as I've learned in cross-cultural training at school, we have to be careful to listen to the concerns of minority groups, so we don't gloss them over with "We're all alike.") Thank goodness there were people like you in the '80s who were willing to work with AIDS patients at a time when many were scared of them.

    Beth (again): I will e-mail you!

  18. Thanks for sharing that essay!