Tag Archives: real life

Yes, All Cars (a Metaphor)

All cars could kill pedestrians. Yes, ALL cars.

“But,” you might object, completely missing the point of the first sentence, “I’M a careful driver. I’D never do a hit and run. I’D never crush an innocent pedestrian who observed all possible safety protocols and was minding their own business when crossing the street at the appropriate crossing. You are just complaining about nothing! Drivers have it hard too! I’D never hurt someone with my car! You can’t blame me for what a few other drivers did! Not All Cars!”

Yes, All Cars.

All cars COULD kill pedestrians.

Do they? No.

Could they? Yes.

Do pedestrians have a way of telling whether all of the cars on the street – whose drivers they do not all know – are dangerous and going to hurt them? NO.

Would you, Nice Driver, think it sensible or stupid to assume that because you are a competent and considerate driver that when complete strangers cross the street you’re driving on they can just wander across the street when your light turns red, without looking both ways too see if a car is going to ignore the red light?

Do you really think that somehow every single pedestrian in the world can just walk across the street trusting all cars to obey traffic laws because they know you specifically would never run a red light?

I doubt it. I suspect you are aware that not everyone drives as cautiously and considerately as you. I suspect that you are aware that it is perfectly reasonable for all pedestrians to be wary of all cars – because all cars could kill them. And there is no way for a pedestrian to know who is driving. And, even if they could know that when you were the driver stopped at the crossing they were safe from that direction, how can they know you’ll never screw up – just a little? You might be on your phone, or distracted, or just a bit too close to the legal drinking limit. You’d never normally be the driver in a hit and run, after all, so surely they should stop complaining and let their guards down while you veer wildly across the street, right? No. Not right. I hope that’s your automatic response, but I doubt it.

You’re a Nice Driver. A Good Driver. So when pedestrians are cautious and look both ways because they know that not all cars obey traffic laws and justify taking precautions by pointing out that All Cars Could Kill Them, you get upset – it wounds your pride to feel included in the “Bad Drivers” category, even though you aren’t – and so you loudly protest at every opportunity that Not All Cars!

Then, one day, while you’re driving cautiously and carefully, another driver pulls a hit and run right in front of you. It’s horrifying. It’s tragic. It’s totally not the pedestrian’s fault, because the car ran a red light and the pedestrian was on the official crossing while the crossing light was green and they had looked both ways before stepping onto the crossing. The pedestrian did nothing wrong. The car was totally in the wrong. And you’re a good, nice driver, so you get out of the car and – without looking anywhere or worrying at all about traffic laws and cars hitting you – walk over to where the victim is (bleeding, half-dead and severely traumatised) being cared for by the paramedics and you say to the victim “It’s your own fault for walking where you were supposed to – for existing as a pedestrian in a world full of cars. How can you blame the car for running over you? You’re a pedestrian: you should have expected it.” Then, feeling mighty proud of yourself you get back in your car, again not having even thought to look out for traffic while you walked and ignoring the pedestrian’s week protests that they DID look out for danger and were expecting it because they always have to (even in their own driveway and home) while you walked back to it.

When you check your phone, still in your car, you see angry and frightened articles from other pedestrians – articles which talk about how dangerous cars are, because not all of them obey traffic laws and no pedestrian can tell from a distance which will. Articles which call for an end to the driver’s Car Privilege – saying that they should come to understand that they are, no matter how nice they personally might be, driving high-speed four-ton metal boxes of death. Articles saying that it is wrong and unfair for pedestrians to have to constantly be checking if cars are going to behave with basic decency, while the drivers enjoy a complete lack of concern for their own – and everyone else’s – safety. Car Privilege, the social movement calls it, an unfair burden on the pedestrians who are forced to take the drivers’ responsibility for them while it never even occurs to the drivers that pedestrians shouldn’t have to live with a quiet, constant, fear in the back of their minds – that pedestrians shouldn’t have to view existing outside their homes as a potential life and death situation every damn time they walk out their front door, even if they stay in their own gardens. Drivers, the social movement says, shouldn’t be allowed to blame cautious pedestrians for existing and claim they deserved it when a driver ignores a red light. That “you just need a good hit-and-running” should not be drivers’ go to reaction to pedestrians who speak out for their rights. That threats of being turned into road pizza as revenge for daring to defend their rights should not be seen as harmless or acceptable – especially because all too often the drivers who do perform hit and runs take the public’s refusal to condemn such comments as validation and go on to deliberately run down other innocent pedestrians.

The articles and the social movement rally around a simple truth: All Cars Could Kill You. But this, this infuriates you. It wounds your Driver’s Pride. After all, you aren’t the sort of driver who performs hit-and-runs. You are a Good Driver. A Nice Driver. So, while you drive, you respond vocally to these upstart pedestrians. “Not All Cars!” you write to them. You explain how you are a good, considerate, driver and they would never need to fear around you. When they inevitably point out that you are a complete stranger who could be making that up, that cars don’t come with helpful Safe Driver alerts for pedestrians and that it doesn’t fucking matter if you specifically are a good driver because all it takes is the one asshole on the road and they are road pizza, it wounds your pride even more. How dare they? You tell yourself. This Car Privilege is a load of nonsense. Drivers suffer too! They, like, can’t text whenever they want and their drink holders aren’t always secure and they have to drive around the parking lot like six times before they find a parking space close enough to the doors! It’s not all cars that are dangerous.

Yes, All Cars are dangerous, the movement replies. Yes, All Pedestrians have near misses. But you don’t want to hear it. You’ve already decided that Car Privilege is a load of nonsense, so you start talking about Pedestrian Privilege and how those pesky pedestrians are so lucky they don’t have to suffer taking their feet in to the mechanic or getting stuck in traffic. Those are real, serious, problems for drivers! They’re totally on par with not being able to leave the house without being subtly, but constantly, on alert because of all the cars on the road ANY of them could be the one that runs the red light and – if not outright kills the pedestrian – at least brutalises them and violates them. Getting stuck in traffic, you decide, is totally equal to living in constant fear that any stranger might take your life or mutilate your body.

You’re wrong. You’ve missed the point. You’re so blinded by your Car Privilege that you can’t see that you’re making the problem worse.  Yes, All Cars Could Kill A Pedestrian. That doesn’t mean that all cars will. It means that they could. Yes, All Pedestrians have experience with drivers abusing them and blaming them for the driver’s inability to stay off the damn sidewalk. It means we live in an unjust world where drivers think their minor inconveniences are equal to or worse than always having to double check that everything is safe, that all of the drivers currently nearby aren’t going to decide your life and bodily safety aren’t worth as much as their desires, that even if you are in your home you could have a rouge car (or the car of one of the Drivers in your family) come crashing through the wall to crush you and leave you with mental and physical injuries which will ruin much of your life (assuming they leave you that much).

The point of the movement isn’t “All drivers are terrible”. It’s “All drivers COULD turn out to be that one asshole and it’s unjust that pedestrians should have to live in constant Fight or Flight mode because All Cars could potentially run their red light and there is no way to know which is which.”

Now replace “Cars” and “Drivers” with “Men”, “Pedestrians” with “Women”, and “Hit-and-run” with “Sexism” and “Sexual Assault” and maybe, just maybe, you’ll finally understand why male privilege is a problem.

It’s been years since those hashtags started, guys, why are so many of you STILL unable to understand a simple concept?

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Posted by on January 13, 2017 in On Reality


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Project Status 3 – Warning: Idea Off Leash

Do you ever have an idea that gets totally out of control? The sort which you intend to grow into a nice, quickly written, self-contained, light novel – just a bit of silliness, really – but which then gets off its leash somehow and before you know it has morphed into a massively complex, socio-political mess which is insisting that it would rather like to be the next A Song of Ice and Fire, no matter how much you tell it “NO!”?

I’m having that problem tonight. It’s an old idea that I figured out how to make work – only for it to get completely out of hand because of that. It’s going to need massive amounts of research and planning. It’s also got hopelessly poor timing, because I’ve got four other writing projects (and this blog, and a job, and a need for a second job) going at the moment. One is in the editing stage (actually, I need to get around to doing my taking in of the edits, but it’s always frustrating and depressing), one in the writing stage (I’m on chapter four), one in the plotting stage (apparently the characters have decided on sit and talk as a plot, as opposed to the adventure I intended), and one in the research for plotting stage (in order to write a story focused around a character’s job, I need to know exactly how it works and that basically means learning new jobs in this case).

What I’m basically saying is that there’s not going to be a proper post this week, because I’m busy chasing a rabid idea. See you (kind of) next week?


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Project Status 2 – Every Book’s a Little Bit Racist

Exploring folklore in one’s fiction is inevitably a double-bind. If you stick strictly to your own cultural heritage you are going to get called racist for it, but if you borrow from other cultures (no matter how hard you try to be respectful) you are going to get called racist for it. If you have a character of colour gain magical powers it’s the “magical native” stereotype, but if it’s a white character gaining magical powers it’s the “white people are special” stereotype, and if it’s a white character gaining magical powers from a mythology or folklore which isn’t white it’s a fucking headache. All of this means that an author can find it hard to tell if the story they have planned out is genuinely racist or culturally appropriative or if they’re just paranoid about being racist. Nowadays, the old saying of “if you have to ask if it’s racist: it’s racist” can no longer fully apply because the (much needed) coverage on the topic means that every author will worry about this (especially if not writing only their own race) eventually. Now, examining your work more carefully for unfortunate implications is not a bad thing, but if you have no one to ask you can start seeing unfortunate implications in everything and the creative process can be ground to a halt while you struggle to figure out how to have one person of each race equally on the good and bad sides so you don’t risk offending anyone.

Or, in other words, while I’m editing my writing advice book I decided to take my own advice and ask if my next project (a historical fantasy, set in interbellum/pre-WW2 London, which is chiefly drama and in which every character is a shade of grey rather than good or evil) sounds like it has any genuine and major problems with unfortunate implications and race, given that I’m borrowing from both British folklore and Perso-Arabic folklore. Below are brief character descriptions of the main (and not so main but relevant to this topic) characters.



Species: Mostly human, magically transformed into part-Ghul

Race: Anglo-Saxon

Gender: Female

Age: 3-8 over course of book

Religious Affiliation: Atheist (leaning toward)

Sexual Orientation: Unknown, currently pre-pubescent.

Personality: A highly intelligent, wild, friendly, and kind hearted child slowly growing bitter and awkward due to ostracism from her peers. Likely to be one of the kindest people anyone might meet if they’ve done nothing to hurt her, but a vindictive grudge-holder with an explosive temper when picked on unfairly (also completely incapable of letting injustice – real or perceived – slide). Very much a non-conformist and burning with insatiable curiosity, but quick to stop upsetting behaviour or questioning when made aware that it upsets people.

Ethical Questionability: Cannibalistic urges, occasional temper tantrums, one occasion of semi-premeditated killing in self-defence, multiple cases of deliberately frightening and injuring those who bully her and those she cares about (in one case causing far more serious injuries than intended). Also known to dig up neighbour’s vegetable patches in the middle of the night.



Species: Human

Race: ¾ Jewish, ¼ Anglo-Saxon

Gender: Female

Age: Late twenties through early thirties.

Religious Affiliation: Atheist

Sexual Orientation: Asexual Aromantic

Personality: Cold, sarcastic, antagonistic, highly intelligent and extremely rude. She’s somewhere between a jerk with a heart of gold and a jerk with a heart of jerk. An outsider to the core, and a fierce fighter for progress, she’s only really capable of opening up to those who society has also rejected and has an unfortunate habit of putting scientific progress and experimentation before emotional considerations.

Ethical Questionability: Extremely progressive for her day – atheist, former suffragette, woman in a scientific field, and making her own financial way in life – but to the modern reader still horribly backward (can tell Hitler is getting dangerous but has staunchly imperialist opinions and believes Gandhi is absurd). She views the protagonist (a child) somewhere between a friend and a Petri dish and once (illegally) helped someone terminally ill to get euthanasia.



Species: Human

Race: Anglo-Saxon

Gender: Female

Age: Mid to late twenties

Religious Affiliation: Christian

Sexual Orientation: Straight

Personality: Not intentionally unkind, but extremely practical, traditional, and quick to judge. She wants to do what’s best for everyone, but is tactless and has an unfortunate habit of assuming that she knows what’s best for everyone. Shrewd by nature and determined to do what helps the most people no matter how much she has to sacrifice to do it, but inclined to hold petty grudges.

Ethical Questionability: Inclined to view people who are unusual as needing to change to be more like her or as too much effort, often more biased and unfair than she realises due to favouring those like her and holding grudges against those who are different.



Species: Human

Race: Anglo-Saxon

Gender: Female

Age: Mid to late thirties

Religious Affiliation: Christian

Sexual Orientation: Asexual Aromantic (but unwilling to accept it)

Personality: Sweet natured and gentle, but extremely judgemental (always wants to help those she views as wrong) and condescending. She’s very easily hurt but also extremely sensitive to the pain of others and wants to help as many people as she can. Unfortunately, she’s also zealously religious and pushy about it. She’s incapable of accepting her sexual orientation because she feels that it is abnormal and that there must be something wrong with her. Like most people of her day, she looks down on other races, but she does so with pity rather than hatred and scorn and believes it is her mission to help them.

Ethical Questionability: Condescending and judgemental, racist by modern standards but moderately open minded by the standards of her era. Suffers from internalised sexualism/homophobia but would not be viewed as homophobic by her era’s standards (she thinks non-straight people are ill and should be helped).  Unwilling to help a child who she views as unholy.



Species: Fair Folk

Race: Anglo-Saxon, only whiter

Gender: Female

Age: Several hundred

Religious Affiliation: Unknown

Sexual Orientation: Unspecified, possibly straight

Personality: Genuinely psychopathic (as in based on the actual experiences someone I know had while working with psychopaths in mental health care facilities). Fickle and cruel beneath a veneer of sweetness and light, her main positive feature is that she always keeps her word and is incapable of lying, but with hundreds of years of fucking with people under her belt, that really doesn’t mitigate anything. Her emotional maturity is not unlike that of a spoiled toddler, she’s always fair in a very twisted sort of way (“I let you keep breathing, therefore you owe me”). Routinely lures young girls and handsome men to grisly ends (suicides, working them until death, etc) and refuses to allow particularly entertaining spirits the chance to leave after death – also genuinely does not see anything wrong with this.

Ethical Questionability: See personality


Plot Instigator/One Scene Wonder:

Species: Djinn (Ghul)

Race: Implied to be Iranian

Gender: Female

Age: Unknown

Religious Affiliation: Unspecified, implied to be Muslim

Sexual Orientation: Unknown

Personality: Kind and selfless (sacrifices her life to save a child she doesn’t know), other than that unknown as she’s only in one scene and dying at that. It’s implied that she was brought to Britain either accidentally in a jar or intentionally in human trafficking, but which is not specified.

Ethical Questionability: In order to save a toddler she doesn’t know, she kills the attacker (who had already given her a terminal injury). She refuses to give up on life until the child is safe, although she is losing control of dangerous magical abilities which she’s afraid might cause someone to get hurt. Happens to be a mythical creature typically viewed as demonic and evil due to a cannibalistic nature, and passes part of this on to the child she saves, but is never shown harming (let alone eating) anyone; in other words she almost certainly scavenged for corpses rather than hunting humans.



…Thoughts? I chiefly worry about this in terms of cultural appropriation (even though I’m trying to be as respectful of the culture as possible unlike some recent works of “art” *cough*GodsOfEgyptandThorlookingatyou*cough*) and because I don’t want to unintentionally add to the (disgusting) Islamophobia that has arisen so much in recent decades. Originally I thought the fact that the most selfless and heroic character in the book is the, possibly Muslim, Ghul and the closest to pure evil any character gets is the pearly-white Fairy was enough, but given that the Ghul’s a minor character, and the part-Ghul child is a more morally grey one, I’m not so sure anymore.


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Blog Hiatus Apology

Sorry about the (urk has it really been that long?) fortnight long, unwarned for, hiatus. I will try to get back to posting regularly (and reading everyone else’s posts!) soon.

The short explanation for my disappearance is carpal tunnel syndrome.

The long explanation for my disappearance is that my job and my hopefully-eventually-going-to-be-a-job of writing both take a lot of typing, especially as I challenged myself at the start of the year to complete six first drafts (of different things) this year; one every two months. The challenge is purely there to get me to stop lollygagging and get things done, but because of the carpal tunnel issue I lost a lot of days earlier in the month when I tried to power through it and so, while I could probably have gotten away with writing one or two posts in the last fortnight without causing myself further injury, I neglected to on account of rushing to finish the first draft in my challenge within the set timeframe. As it was, I finished two days late.

I will probably have to cut back from a post every couple of days to one post every four or five days max, both to give my wrist time to recover and because I now have to get on with editing and preparing to self-publish the book (writing advice) as well as start the next draft, do my job, get back into doing this blog, and help a memeber of my family move house. Oh yes, and read two massive – easily a thousand pages each – books for research for my next book’s draft. Oops.

So, again, my apologies for disappearing on everyone –  I will try to catch up on everything shortly.

…Also, does anyone have any advice/opinions on which method of self-publishing (like: amazon direct vs createspace vs lulu vs however many others there are) to use? I’m completley new at this and have no idea what I’m doing.

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Posted by on March 3, 2016 in Administrative


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