9th November, 1989

A West German man uses a hammer and chisel to chip off a piece of the Berlin Wall as a souvenir.  A portion of the Wall has already been demolished at Potsdamer Platz.

It’s a grey Thursday afternoon in November, 1989.

I’ve finally got my college room organised to my satisfaction: single bed pushed lengthways against the window; side table at the foot, holding my hifi and a small lamp; big wooden desk and chair in front of the noticeboard on the adjacent wall.

I’ve got the radio of my hifi on, tuned to Radio 4, listening to the news…

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Putting the pieces together + Indigenous Peoples’ Day

You may have noticed I’ve been a bit quiet again the last few weeks.

The reason is that I’ve started two courses, and they are both taking up a lot of energy (like, a lot). The first is a postgraduate course in community development; the second is a course applying the four skills of person-centred counselling to all relationships.

At the same time, I’m working on an idea for the future, nurturing it, building it. It’s about business, and capitalism, and how they’re not the same thing, and how we can create the world we want.

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The country diary of a queer, anarchist witch: robin and wren

I’m currently sitting in front of a window that goes all the way to floor level. As usual, every now and again as I’m sitting here, birds come up close to the window, trying to get into the space they can see through the glass, or sit on the fence a few yards away, looking in sceptically.

Just now, a wren came along, flying low to the ground, and hopping every now and again, along the length of the window, sitting on the window ledge for a moment before flying off.

The birds in these parts are incredibly large, compared to other places I’ve lived. It’s bound, in part, to be the fluffing up of feathers against the chill of the wind, but even taking that into account, we have some beefy birdies. I’ve always put the rest of it down to the sheer quantity of insects available for them to eat over the summer.

(To which I say, eat away, little birds, eat away! The fewer midges to bother me the better.)

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My grandfather’s story

My grandfather, Władislaw Zbegniew Prędota, was born in the tiny village of Bilcza, in southern Poland, on 18th October, 1921. He didn’t complete school, but did join the Aviation School in Bydgoszcz in his teens. It was during a leave of absence for sickness that German forces invaded Poland.

What comes next is an incredible story of fortitude, persistence, and sheer bloody-mindedness.

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This is what it looks like when I take on too much

So, I haven’t been over here at Patreon for a couple of weeks, and I feel really bad about that.

The picture above is my studio/office/indoor temple, and — as within, so without — my mind and focus are in a similar state. I have realised over the past couple of days that I have taken on WAY too much for the coming year, this autumn in particular, and I need to pare back.

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Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is

A fat dog lying on its back, smiling.

John Scalzi is a film critic, a columnist, and a multi award winning author of science fiction.

He also blogs.

A blogpost he wrote in May 2012 has been my go to ever since for explaining straight, white, male privilege to people who don’t want to think about it.

I’ve been thinking of a way to explain to straight white men how life works for them, without invoking the dreaded word “privilege,” to which they react like vampires being fed a garlic tart at high noon. It’s not that the word “privilege” is incorrect, it’s that it’s not their word. When confronted with “privilege,” they fiddle with the word itself, and haul out the dictionaries and find every possible way to talk about the word but not any of the things the word signifies.

So, the challenge: how to get across the ideas bound up in the word “privilege,” in a way that your average straight white man will get, without freaking out about it?

If you have straight, white, male, or otherwise privileged friends who refuse to contemplate their own privilege — or if privilege is a new or difficult term for you yourself — please read it. Seriously: it’s brilliant.