Monday, December 29, 2008

Heavenly bodies

I'm an avid watcher of StrongMan competitions, at least on tv. It hails back to my childhood where we would watch Geoff Capes* do his caber-tossing, ahem, and so it's a comforting tradition, like stodgy puddings and BattleStar Galactica (original series).

It also often gives rise to amusing commentary: "He just can't get it up at all!" and an older but well-remembered one: "It's like having a grown man in each hand: it's that hard!"

Ah, the joy such little things bring me.


And talking of joy brought (but not trivially) and large bodies (but these with rather more gravitational pull), Bad Astronomy linked to this fantastic set of pictures from Hubble. They may take time to load, but are absolutely worth it. Do take a squiz.


* The budgerigar thing surprised me too.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Preach for the stars

One of the secret shames of the family is our white sheep, the tame vicar*.

He has this rather American habit of sending out a family newsletter each Christmas, which never ever ever EVER fails to annoy and irritate somehow. He has the knack of coming over as heinously smug and always manages to strike a jarring note.

On the whole, in theory, I think the newsletter idea is not such a bad one; it would be nice to find out how that part of the family are doing. But in practice, it doesn't appear to contain the sorts of things one really wants to know, like emotions or about serious events within the family, (such as the various cancers, remissions, weddings and the like) nor does it seem to be really about genuinely trying to reach out and make contact with the extended family. Preach out, on the other hand, oh yes.

Oh yes indeedy.

You may think this is just about me being an atheist and therefore being biased against the fellow, but my non-atheist relatives who receive these annual missives have the rolling eye reaction too.

Now now, I know, I accept, I understand that he is an evangelical and no doubt the spiritual well-being of us all is paramount to his mind and perhaps everything else seems minor to him. But really, it would be nice if he seemed genuinely interested in us & our lives or in sharing his & his family's lives with us, but what he actually shares is thin, very thin and mere gloss for an excuse to witness to us.

At least it's only once a year. He's done his duty and we're ticked off his list. In the box: going to hell. Huzzah.

It's this sort of thing that makes me sympathise with the Atheist Bus thingy, which normally I think is a total "why?" and "what a waste of energy/money" and it makes me want to send out my own, I dunno, Flying Spaghetti Monster family newsletter next year. Ramen.

It's just, well, dashed rude.



*I am not serious on this point. Much of the family is rather proud of his vocation and I, well, I consider it a trade suited to a younger son with no portion... I am serious about pretty much the rest of the post tho.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stainless Steel

Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat was excellent fun s-f reading, featuring a very likeable and raffish protagonist. James diGriz is a science-fiction Saint (although Harrison is not an abominable writer, unlike Leslie Charteris) or Raffles, with comedic underpinnings.

I liked the fact that it is always his female counterpart/wife who has to get him out of tight spots, although the twist/surprise we're apparently supposed to get from her abilities is a bit, er, patronising - but then these are novels from the sixties/early seventies, so their age gives them somewhat of an out.

As a benchmark, you could consider the depiction of women in the original Star Trek (where the female officers were present but did little to move storylines forward and the main plots revolved around the male characters). Angelina's depiction here is rather progressive in comparison. She is not marginalised into auxillary roles, nor simply love interest or hapless victim. That said, she does not move the story on for herself but tends to follow diGriz's lead, however she is extremely capable and even ruthless in her own right. Some of the sexual/marital attitudes issues are curiously sexist for a Stainless Steel world of the future, but these issues didn't detract from the books for me, just spoke to me of their time.

I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys gadgety, space-shippy science fiction adventure, with a good old dollop of tongue-in-cheek humour.

I'm not being pass-remarkable but...

I've not spent much time in offices prior to this last few weeks. It's a fascinating and rather irritating exercise in people-watching.

Today I was nearly seasick from the constant motion of the flirting girl & boy in residence. Well, rather the girl, she was continually rocking in her seat, rotating slightly from side to side, to keep the attention presumably, to hypnotise and thereby subdue her prey. Or perhaps she was desperate for the loo. I was tempted to ask, if I hadn't a. had more sense and b. been feeling slightly peaky from the constant movement in my periphery. It was rock, rock, swing, swing, touch hair, brush clothes, touch face, rock, rock, swing, swing, touch hair: all with an endless stream of banter to which the boy target occasionally responded. He really didn't have to do much, a neanderthal grunt once in a while would have sufficed. As it was, it pretty much did: he was scarcely the fount of all knowledge or a sparkling wit.

Now I wonder, is this the same girl who amused me greatly by her remarks the other day? These being, to a young fellow across from her "I don't mean this nastily, but do you ever shut the bleep* up?", followed up smartly with "I'm not being nasty but your voice goes right through me." It might not have been her, but I've a feeling it was.

Perhaps that day the view of the desired one was blocked in some way by this-other-fellow.

This-other-fellow did fall rather silent for quite some while after this not-nastiness. I can't think why.

You always know that a sentence begun with a clause(?) such as "I'm not being insulting, but" inevitably leads to it being very insulting indeed. Although people have enough awareness not to actually use the word insulting.


* She didn't actually bleep, nor use the expletive, but sort of self-censored with a pause that I felt was impossible to convey in written form.

Monday, December 08, 2008

The mighty sword

Irish pork should not be eaten, according to a new health scare.

This is rather disappointing for my husband*.



*This whole post is a double entendre based on his nationality. Hehehehehe.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Any surgeons out there

The current road safety adverts make me want to get little seatbelts installed to all my internal organs.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Women's peaks

In the news today, apparently women in their 30s are more likely to have affairs.

According to the media reports on the study, the researchers suggest it's to do with the biological clock and maximising chances at baby-making. That may be a part of it, but I think it's very reductive to put it all down to biology. Aren't there other possible social and psychological factors at play?

But wait a minute, as a small aside, the Torygraph mentions "It also coincides with them reaching their sexual peak and when they are most likely to have the most opportunities to have an affair." Oh, which actually are no small factors! Don't you think?!

But no,no, no, women being at their sexual peak couldn't be the reason for them having more affairs. Women want babies, women want babies, sex is just for babies if you're a woman - being at your sexual peak and enjoying sex are things that only apply to men.

A woman in her 30s might be that much more confident than she was in earlier life; she might know exactly what she wants sexually and be less worried about other people's opinions of her. She might be more sexually confident, enjoy sex more and have no qualms about asking for what she wants. But no, she just wants babies.

A woman in her 30s may have been in a relationship for a few years and have become bored or disillusioned or unhappy. She might have children who are now at school and she's able to make some changes and get out into the world more. But no, she just wants babies.

I bet you if the media were reporting on men's sexual behaviour, it'd be all about the sexual peaks rising, haha.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Music in my head - grrrrr

Music that keeps annoying me by refusing to leave my head is Sam Beeton's "What you look for", The Script's "The man who can't be moved" and the Ting Ting's "That's not my name" . Unspeakably catchy.

And when did the Script eat Sting?

Gender bending blog tool

The F-Word suggested the gender-analyser site for idle amusement, so I have been indulging myself by putting in site addresses from my blogroll. This removes the need for them to do it, haha, and fills some time for me.

My own was 67% man. Duh-duh, with a time-honoured Family Fortunes noise.
Surly Girl's, it got right.
The Curvature, apparently 63% in favour of being a man. Duh-duh.
Oops, it thinks Steggie is likely to be a woman: 79%. Duh-duh.
And Primitive People, it's 100% convinced is a woman. Duh-duh.
Greta Christina: 69% man. Duh-duh.
The CatGirl, it got right.
Non-working Monkey, it suspected was a man by 63%. Duh-duh.
And Twizi, it thought was gender neutral and 52% most likely to be a man. Duh-duh.

And now I'm bored, so no more. And what have we learned from this?

That frivolous internet toys are frivolous internet toys, I guess.

Needs some work. Could do better, on its school report, I think.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Conversation with a small boy

A video out of its case was brought to me with the query, "Is this Sky Dancers?"
"No, that's Thomas."

Then another, "Is this Sky Dancers?"
"No, that's BoohBah."

Then another, "Is this Sky Dancers?"
"No, that's Teletubbies."

Then another, "Is this Sky Dancers?"
"No, that's Tweenies."

Then another, "Is this Sky Dancers?"
With some relief, I reply "Yes, that's Sky Dancers."

A pause, then, "I don't want Sky Dancers."

We put on Thomas.

Child protection

It leaves a bitter bitter taste that a headline about Baby P today is followed by one about parents' losing their "right" to smack on Pirate Fm's news.

Mark Frearson spent a night in the cells after smacking his son and is demanding an apology, while a parents' group is agitating about our alleged "right to smack" being removed by this incident.

Apples and oranges in levels, of course. But how can we have outrage outrage OUTRAGE and heads-must-roll when child protection services appear to have failed, and at the same time outrage and demands for apologies when there is intervention on behalf of the child, after a complaint is made?

It's damned if you do, damned if you don't.

If the complaint was of such seriousness that there appeared to be a risk to the boy's safety, then overnight in a cell is where the father had to go while the matter was investigated, surely. I'm inclined to believe that the police had reason for the decisions they made, while I should point out that Frearson was not charged with anything in the end and the complaint withdrawn.

That it was a horrible experience for Frearson, I have no doubt, but when it comes to the larger issue of child protection, I would far rather that we erred on the side of the child's safety than on the parent's embarrassment or discomfort.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Living ethically

A Life Stripped Bare: my year trying to live ethically was very readable book, not too heavy or preachy, looking at the ways an individual or a family unit can live more ethically. The author, Leo Hickman, writes engagingly and offers a window into his world as he struggled to balance practicality and affordability with a less damaging lifestyle. Much of the advice you probably are already aware of, if interested in the subject, but it's got useful pointers and perhaps things that you wouldn't usually think of are flagged up as well.

As his starting point, Hickman, had a trio of ethical living type bods come in and audit his family's lifestyle and home. They gave him advice and pointed out issues to be addressed. This was an interesting process, while apparently uncomfortable for them.

I was a bit hmmm about the auditors' apparent preference for alternative therapies, since big health food companies and complementary therapies are just as big business as "Big Pharma". And homeopathy is a nonsense*. I was itching at Hickman's vague belief that there probably is something in it since, while he acknowledged the existence of the placebo effect, he didn't seem to fully understood how potent it can be from his dismissive tone. I can't really blame him, as it's not widely understoood, it's somewhat counter-intuitive and carries baggage of 'must have been hypochondria all along' with it. I felt on issues such as this one of alternative medicine, relying on the authority of his auditors for some of what is ethical and what is not, was problematic. Obviously he made his own decisions and never for one moment did it cross his mind not to use conventional medicine for his daughter when it was required, so it's a niggling point.It's just that I felt their authority was presumed and perhaps not always correctly.

Some of the assumptions made by the author and also by the auditors are worth questioning when it comes to which ethics are the "right" ones. But then, that's something you have to work out for yourself, deciding which issues are most important to you.

The book gave me a lot to think about and I'm back to feeling guilty about meat. It's not the welfare of animals that is highest on my list on this issue, although I would always choose more humanely raised meat. My real concern is that the same amount of land that produces meat for one consumer could supply enough vegetarian produce for twenty veggie consumers. It's a doozy that.

Then I have to start wondering about land/feed for dairy and wondering if veganism would be have to be the truly ethical choice on this score. For now, like the author, it's probably just a meat-reducing diet. This is a poor compromise I admit, but shifting us so radically as a family would be unlikely, especially when we're not all on the same page - and I'm not going it alone, oh no!


* Yes it is.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Unreasonable grounds

There's a certain amount of jeering about the Second Life divorce case, lots of scare quotes around cyber "adultery" or "cheating". True enough that usually I would agree and I do find it a rather ludicrous end to a marriage, on the basis of a character's behaviour in a game. I wouldn't consider cyber flirting or cyber sex as infidelity usually either, more as wank-material.

It seems to me, however, that since the couple's relationship began and was largely played out through the game, it's no wonder the woman took finding her husband's avatar having sex with a virtual prostitute and later indulging in an intimate friendship as seriously as she did. It seems to me that their online lives were as real to them* (or certainly to her) as their actual lives together. Clearly having a virtual relationship with someone, to her mind (and more importantly, in her experience), leads to an actual relationship; perhaps it is an actual relationship to her.

Anyway, when confronted, apparently he "confessed he'd been talking to this woman player in America for one or two weeks, and said our marriage was over and he didn't love me any more, and we should never have got married" and this speaks volumes for why a divorce isn't so very unreasonable.

I daresay you could recover from a cyber affair alright (scare quotes or not) however seriously you took it**, but there's not much room to manoeuvre with 'I don't love you and we should never have married'. Although he was probably dead right on that score.

It's a funny old world. Or new world. Or virtual world. Or strange blend of the two. Oooh where's reality and where's the internet, it's bluuuuurrrrrring. (But not for me!)


* weirdly/sadly/unusually/signs-of-the-times-ly? Delete as appropriate.
** Rightly or wrongly.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Curiosity

It was just starting to be the case that I could reasonably expect to perform my ablutions without one or other of the children barging in jovially demanding I peel their banana or some such.

And then we acquired a cat, who barges in on my private moments instead.

OK, he doesn't ask me to peel him things, which is always a bonus, but winding himself around my legs and looking at me with big, green, what-the-hell-are-you-doing-in-here eyes is somewhat off-putting.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Cars, kids and convention

When in traffic queues, the conventional desire is to be in the faster-moving lane. However, if I am driving with my son, he is loudly disapproving of this policy. He declares, "I want to be in a traffic jam!"

He also anticipates roadworks with a fervour and delight hitherto unseen. If he isn't with us, and we return from any car journey, a tale of roadworks observed and car transporters overtaken will keep him enthralled. We are careful to remember taxis and traffic lights we may have seen for his later delectation.

I was showing him under the bonnet the other day, pointing out the wiry bits and the doodads*, and a passer-by commented "Starting him young, aren't you?" Well, yes, he is only little - but then you've got to play to your children's interests, haven't you?

It's funny, I never intended to allow gender stereotyping to play into my parenting, but it's deeply ingrained socially and somehow very hard to avoid all the time. My daughter wanted pinks, baby dolls and Bratz, hideous though they might be, especially when she was younger. The Bratz were actually very shortlived in interest, thankfully, and the moving/crying baby dolls got thrown out. Huzzah. Freaky things. I shall see if we can foist the Bratz on someone else with Christmas coming up and all.

On the bright side, both of them will play with the normal baby dolls & pushchairs, cooking sets, cars and trains. And my son always wants to paint his nails. On this matter, I'm glad for the school uniform rules that prevent anyone wearing it, because while I want him to be free to dress up and play as he wishes, I don't want the older children there to pick on him. Principles and all that fly out the window when it's my child on the line. School uniform is wonderful for saving me from a sticky situation and we can break out the nail varnish at the weekend.


* I didn't want to get too technical there. I can actually point out the main engine parts correctly 'though, despite the suggestion to the contrary.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Obama

I haven't been more pleased about an election result since '97 when the Tories went one by one. I always remember Hislop on Have I Got News For You laughing about how conversations the next day were about how long people stayed up for and who they saw go "Did you stay up for Portillo?" and so forth.

We watched it through the wee small hours. We didn't want to go to bed until it was definite, even though the Beeb were telling us it was cut and dried, just in case the remaining states had had a major brain fart and voted completely contrary to their polls and Blue state status! When California's results came in and the magic 270 was passed, it was just fabulous. I finally went to bed when he had 333 and McCain had 155.

I couldn't ever quite believe in him actually winning, despite hoping, because of the US's racial history. I'm so glad that the nagging doubt I had was misplaced. Whoo! I also love the fact that apparently it was the biggest election turnout by the US electorate since the '60s. Take that apathy!

Change.

Let's hope so.

Monday, November 03, 2008

It's that time of year again... The Sun, Christmas & Councils

Hurrah hurrah, councils are banning Christmas! Again.

Every year they axe Christmas. It's marvellous. We have no Christmas lights, none of us, no-one puts up trees and we're not allowed to sing carols, nativity plays no longer exist and the Queen no longer does a speech. And every year, it's due to those naughty Muslims.

Alas for those poor voiceless traditionalists and oppressed majorities everywhere, with Christmas so brutally taken away. Let us all weep into our banned egg nog and axed mulled wine.

But hang on, hang on. There are these funny lights going up and goodness me, they look like they might sparkle a bit if they were turned on? (I know I've got some going up already in the nearest city to us, so how about you?)

So what is the Sun (forgive me, it's all Matthew Wright's fault*) on about? Read the story if you must. But then please, make the herculean effort** to click onto Oxford's website, where there is actual use of the C-word (nooooo!) while the plan of events for the 'Winterlight' night includes a speech by a baptist minister. I bet she's offended by Christmas, alright.

The Scum doesn't like to think of us being inclusive and acknowledging there are varied religions & cultures within the UK; no, it has to be sinister. The fact that 'Winterlight' is one evening within a "dazzling calendar of events for the festive season [...] taking shape highlighting Christmas light switch-ons, pantomimes and special outdoor events in towns all across the county" does not exist. Let's not stray from our bigoted script, Christmas is axed, I tell you, AXED and it's due to the alleged offence caused to a demonised group, (while such offence is the non-existent imagining of media hype).



* I was watching The Wright Stuff this morning, and it was Carole Malone's story from the newspaper segment. Another panellist attempted to point out that it was baloney, but she talked over him saying it was true. Yeah, true. Calling the celebratory evening of turning on the lights 'WinterLight' is exactly the same as axing Christmas.

** It must be hard to do, because commentators from The Scum and elsewhere seem physically incapable of checking things out for themselves. Can anyone spell gullible for me?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Beautiful sun

Some fantastic pictures of the sun on the link in the title. Go look!

Remember to use your pinhole projectors, of course. We don't want any burnt retinas now.

Friday, October 31, 2008

A jolly good time

It was movie night in our household as we were all too full of cold to venture out for Halloween fun and frolics. So we dimmed the lights, lit the fire and jack'o'lanterns, dressed up in our costumes and ate hotdogs, popcorn and toasted marshmallows while watching DVDs.

The first was Monster House, which was suitably scary for such a night, considering the age range. It may even have been a bit much, but we did enjoy it. S was hiding behind me some of the time 'tho, so we will see if we have nightmares and I regret the whole thing after all. She's quite a sensitive soul and we've had to abandon Dr Who watching, so perhaps an elderly neighbour appearing to die in a child's arms and a monstrous house that eats people was pushing it. I'm hoping the animated nature of it will prevent her taking it too seriously and me laughing inappropriately at the scariest bits will have helped. T was too stuffed up with cold to be scared.

Our second choice was Bee Movie and what a pile of excrement that was. The humour in the film was just too adult: while some animated films add in subtle layering of adult & children's jokes, there wasn't enough for children in this and the adult jokes dominated uncomfortably. The film clearly didn't know its audience or was trying too hard to cover too wide a range. The pop-culture references would pass most children by, although I did enjoy Ray Liotta's appearance. But the self-referential can get a tad wearing.

Like Antz and A Bug's Life, there was a whole lot of gender reassignment going on, bearing in mind one of the major features of sodding honeybees is that the females are the workers. But we couldn't have a kid's movie with any kind of accuracy regarding the natural world, could we*? And we certainly couldn't have a female protagonist. It's a bit like those ads with a cow character that clearly has massive udders but speaks with a male voice. What's that all about, eh?

But no, here we have all the pilot-type nectar-gathering bees as macho macho male ones! What ticked me off most about this was the scene with the two female fan bees fawning over them after they came in to land. Whaaaaaaat? Not only are the female bees removed from the frame and their real-life role in a beehive erased, but they are imported back in as groupies!

And the fact that female mosquitoes apparently trade up for moths, according to the Chris Rock voiced character just makes me grimace. I mean, what is this saying to my daughter?

Obviously an animated film about bees is going to anthromorphise radically, otherwise it'd be a bit grim, lacking in adventure and difficult to get to know, like or even tell apart the characters, but surely to push all female bees out of the story is going a bit far!?

I gather from the credits that it was written by four men, one of the them Jerry Seinfeld, who also voices the main character. So well done to them.**

I quite like A Bug's Life - it got away with some of the things Bee Movie doesn't, because the female is represented and not just as hangers-on or cheerleaders; the Queen and Princess actually exist, serve a purpose in the tale and have actual power & even things to say for themselves, while the plot itself is clearly a reworking of a classic film, made for children. Bee Movie neither has the charm of Bug's Life nor a decent stolen plot. The plot of Bee Movie is a bit of a hotch-potch: a cross-species love story, a trial of little bug against huge corporation and rites of passage blending imperfectly. I'm not altogether happy with the end moral which appears to be "better keep your mouth shut and stick with the status quo" as [spoiler in background colour] winning the trial ends up nearly killing the planet.

Ooh, I'm in a ranty mood of late. Anyway, apart from me loathing a Bee Movie, it was a lovely evening with the children and I only set fire to one marshmallow.

edited to add: Oh and another thing about Bee Movie [spoilers again]: the bit where the friend bee loses its temper and stings the opposing counsel? The provocation is that the lawyer exposes the fact that all the bees in the hive have the same mother: the Queen (unseen), and that somehow this makes them all illegitimate. Eh? I mean, eh to the logic of that, and eh at the resuscitation of the "bastard" stigma. So funny, hahaha, so funny. **


* Like we get sodding raccoons in one of the Dalmation films despite it being set in the UK. And despite having perfectly decent, cute wildlife of our own that could have performed the same function, like squirrels, say.

**That was sarcasm. I didn't really mean it, you see, I'm tricksy like that.

Sexual slurs and a bit of a rant

I really have to stop reading comment threads and forums where they have been discussing the fall-out from the Brand & Ross incident.

Somehow it appears to have become all Georgina Baillie's fault for having the poor judgement to sleep with Brand in the first place and have the audacity to be a sexual being in her own right. The ones that annoy me the most are those predominantly frequented by women, who patently fail to recognise the anti-woman, anti-sex aspect of this.

You don't need to put the woman in the frame to defend the two presenters. You don't need to call her sexist sexual slurs that you hypocritically fail to apply to Brand's sexual behaviour. Moreover, if she hadn't sold her story, do you think the press would have walked away respectfully & stopped door-stepping her and ringing her? No, no, they'd have been dragging out every ex-boyfriend from under every rock (and if they don't anyway, I'll eat my hat). She might as well make money out of it now, but she wasn't responsible for instigating this whole mess.

Oh no, the fault here lies with the howling media who scented blood on the Beeb and the several thousand numbskulls who are so easy to manipulate into moral outrage.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Ross, Brand and some great Sachs

All this fuss about Jonathan Ross & Russell Brand "insulting" Andrew Sachs... Well, apart from it obviously being whipped up beyond belief by the media, who scent blood on the Beeb, there's something a bit screwy here.

It was an asinine prank call, but what I take out of the aftermath, is that the focus from the media is pretty much based on Sachs' outraged sensibilities*.

On the radio today, the story was about the "insult" to Sachs, any unpleasantness for the woman in question was never touched upon. Alright, Sachs was the recipient of the call and therefore most immediately affected, but the tools, (apart from Brand & Ross themselves, haha) feed into some hideously sexist notions of the male ownership of female sexuality. Ie. it's getting one over on the male progenitor to have sex with his female family member without marrying her.

It's also a good excuse to put up lots of pictures of her in burlesque and splash her activities & sexual proclivities all over. Of course, she may well be perfectly happy with the exposure and it may do her career wonders, but even if she wasn't, it seems she doesn't deserve consideration because she's got that stuff online and she's in a rather outrageous burlesque troupe. So she calls herself a slut in the troupe, and she may have had sex with Brand, therefore she is a slut and cannot be shamed as she is shameless and deserves all she gets. She can of course bring shame upon her male family members, which is an awful, awful thing.

She doesn't have a right to make her own sexual choices without it being held offensive to her grandpa, because after all, men should still be controlling women's sexuality.

That's what I take from this anyway.


* Although he himself is asking for an apology to his granddaughter.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dangleson

I wonder what the odds would have been on Mandelson being forced to resign (not that he has been - yet) if I'd gone to Ladbrokes or something as soon as I knew he was coming back into the cabinet.

I don't suppose they'd have been that great, but it's good stuff, these rumours within, what, a month(?) of being back in his unelected position of power. Of course, he was in an unelected position of power before, but not dangling right in front of me as he is now.

Dangleson.

It doesn't make me larf as much as Osborne's donation 'mistake', what with Mandy ostensibly being on my team. Argh. Just when I thought Gordon was doing well and pulling back a bit by actually seeming to do something about the financial crisis...

Thank goodness for George Osborne. Nice to see the Tories have changed so much since the days of daily sleaze.

Ha!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A god of no fixed abode

A Nebraskan senator's lawsuit against God has been dismissed with prejudice* after the court found itself unable to serve papers on the defendant as his address is unknown. The suit was about his (God's) threatening behaviour and the senator was seeking an injunction against the deity due to his infliction of 'death destruction and terrorisation' on Nebraska and the world at large.

Ernie Chambers, the litigant, contended that if God is omniscient he'd be fully aware of the suit against him.

Bwhahahahahaha.


*In the legal sense of the word.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Not so very bright

Talking about what annoys me today involves me revealing a secret shame, á la those awful Trisha type chat-shows... and it is, dun-dun-dun - me watching Trisha today*.

You see, the sponsors of Trisha are Bright House, your weekly payment store, that allows you to buy things you can't normally afford - at a 29.9% interest rate. What bugs me about the adverts is that they show people buying flatscreen tvs, game consoles and such-like.

While it's surely up to you what you go into debt for, and in theory I'm all for people making their own choices, it makes me itch and itch and itch.

You don't need those things! For goodness sake don't buy them if you haven't got the money lying about waiting to be spent!

The only things I could see in these ads as valid** expenditures were sofas and fridges. And even then, I'm not really on your side***. If you troll around looking at the cards in shop windows, tour the charity shops, look up freecycle and network with friends & family you can pick up absolute bargains in secondhand furniture, even get items free. Or you can go to reclaim stores for reconditioned furniture and white goods. There are options other than buying brand new at high rates of interest.

OK, what you get may not be absolutely to your taste but when you can afford it better you can always trade up. OK, a reconditioned fridge may not have the life expectancy of a brand new one, but it'll do the job and I've always had very good value out of mine, to date. At least you're not paying a third extra for the privilege as well.

Grr.

I wonder what it says about the intended audience of a tv show like that, when they get sponsored by such companies. I suppose I don't take offence at Spondex/Spongex/whatever it is type of marigolds that sponsored House, 'though.


* At least it wasn't Jeremy Kyle, eh?
** According to the Gospel of Mephitis.
*** If 'you' were to be a dying-to-get-into-more-debt sort of person.
In which case, stop it and behave!

Monday, October 06, 2008

Six Feet Over

Mary Roach's Six Feet Over was a vastly entertaining book, looking into literal soul-searching by scientists through history and to the present, including the pseudo and the well-credentialled, their experiments, theories and er, rather interesting equipment.

There were forays into mediumship, delving into ectoplasm (very disgusting), weighing the dying and psychic telephoning: all very fascinating and told with humour & evident, infectious enjoyment by the author. The book frequently made me laugh: the footnotes are not to be missed.

I don't know how much the book would appeal to a believer in these various things, but from a sceptical viewpoint, it was very enjoyable.

"The debunkers are probably right, but they're no fun to visit a graveyard with." Roach may be right about that, but she was certainly fun for this sceptic to take a tour with.

If you like a lot of chocolate on your biscuit

join our club...

My blog has been added to The Atheist Blogroll, as you can see from the blogroll (mid-way downish) in my sidebar.

"The Atheist blogroll is a community building service provided free of charge to Atheist bloggers from around the world. If you would like to join, visit Mojoey at Deep Thoughts for more information."

Apparently I'm the 800th blog to join, so jolly dee. It's a nice round number that.

Jump jump jump, jump around!

Having a heart-stopping time today.

I went out this morning thinking about this and that, and jumped out of my skin when a neighbour had the nerve to get out of their very own car.

I chuckled to myself heartily over my foolishness and drove away... and had myself another jolt to the nerves when a parcelforce van had the audacity to want to turn into the lane. Other vehicles on the road? What kind of world is this I'm living in?

And it didn't end there. There was a tanker delivering oil! Parked on the side of the road. Not remotely in my way or remotely alarming in any aspect. (Apart from the notion of flammable substances pootling about the countryside at the hands of human beings, which I suppose is fairly alarming at base).

Later I go into my bedroom and nearly have a spasm when my son greets me.

I've spent the entire day in a guinea pig-like state of terror.

Howls of derisive laughter, mate?

I was having a discussion with someone online about Dawkins and so forth, and it all seemed quite reasonable and rational - lots of mutual incomprehension, but that's par for the course.

Things took an unexpected turn suddenly when the question of whether it is more likely the T-rex's on Noah's Ark would be babies rather than full-grown was raised.

He's got to have a twinkle in his eye, a tongue in his cheek, hasn't he?

It's times like these when words on a screen aren't enough to discover intent.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Knock knock

  • Who's there?
  • Mandy.
  • Mandy who?
  • Man de life boats, we're sinking!


I'm kind of appalled that Mandelson is back in the cabinet. Wasn't this the man who twice resigned, due to political scandals he was involved in?*

Is Brown stark stare raving mad? Are we supposed to have forgotten?

I presume the thinking is that he helped Blair to power, he can keep old blunthead there; but if ever there was a man with the capacity for getting himself into trouble, it's got to be Mandy.


* At least he knows when to resign, unlike some people.**
** Ian Blair obviously.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Controversial British Survey

Controversial British Survey via Badger On Fire.

"This has been going around for a while, but the version I'm doing here has been edited by [info]misspotsitt for a British audience as most of the questions were fairly USA-centric.

Here goes...

1. Do you have the guts to answer these questions and re-post as The Controversial British Survey?
Yes, why not?

2. Would you do meth if it was legal?
No, it has a reputation for being highly addictive (and tweaker-dom sounds pretty non-glamorous. Not that glamour is the basis of how I live life, haha, but you know...) For similar reasons, I wouldn't touch heroin. Legality isn't really top of my list on why not to do drugs.

3. Is the current abortion cut off point valid in your mind?
Yes, I am pro-choice. I'm very much against any reduction in time-limit and would support a change where two doctors' agreement is no longer required. I would also like to make sure that Northern Irish women had the services which currently they are entitled to, but find extremely difficult to access.

4. Do you think we would face the same difficulties we did in the 80s if the Conservatives came back into power at the next general election?
I don't want to see the Tories back in power. I don't feel that they have changed one iota from what they were, they just think Cameron's smarm makes him the perfect Blair replacement. While I have been disappointed in Labour, I don't want a Tory government in their place.

5. What do you think the best solution to our overcrowded prisons is?
Less criminals!
I think the alternatives to imprisonment, such as community service, should be used more often and properly enforced for "petty criminals".

6. Are you in favour of the reclassification of some drugs in recent years?
There are good legal reasons for reclassification, so that sentencing reflects the threat-level of the drugs concerned. Otherwise the judicial system would be too much of a blunt instrument.
I'm not sure that the media does the public any favours by its coverage of such reclassifications. Perhaps it should be announced in numbers of years/months you'd expect to serve if caught dealing instead of A grades (that's the really good stuff) and C (well, that's average), haha.
On the whole, I lean towards legalisation with heavy controls and taxation.

7. Are you for or against premarital sex?
Free love, baby.
I see no reason why consenting adults can't do what the hell they want with their bodies. I'd recommend safe sex, of course.

8. Do you believe in God?
No.

9. Do you think that same sex Civil Partnerships are a good thing?
Of course. I think a gay couple should have the same rights & protections as a straight one would do, so that they can make medical decisions for one another if necessary and be treated as next-of-kin automatically and so forth.
As far as I'm concerned it's marriage, and calling it a civil partnership is mere fudging. I see little difference between my own marriage at a registry office and a gay couple doing the same.

10. Do you think it's wrong that people from EU member states can move to the UK without barriers?
No, fine by me.

11. A twelve year old girl has a baby, should she keep it?
It's hardly an ideal situation, but I'd want to enable her to look after her child if that was what she wanted.

12. Has the introduction of 24 hour licencing regulations had a positive impact on our drink related crime levels?
I doubt it has changed an awful lot. I think we're way off the cosmopolitan sniftering that this was supposedly to promote.
The benefits are staggered closing times, so that everyone isn't out on the street at once, which means less argy-bargy over food, taxis and pavement space at least.
I think it'll take a lot to change the "must-be-slaughtered-to-have-fun" mentality which seems pervasive.
On the bright side, we did change our attitudes to drink-driving, so it can be done. And the Europeans aren't as savvy about alcohol as their stereotypes go - their rates of alcoholism are pretty fearful too.

13. Should we have got involved in the military activities in the Middle East?
I think that our primary motivation was oil, and when greed is a motivator, it's bound to be a bit whoa-nelly. I mean we aren't that eager to get to "policing the world" when there's no oil pipeline to build or whatever, are we?
I also wonder whether the US Christian right's longing for the second coming and strife having to come from that direction might not be an influence in activities over there.
Or I do when I'm in conspiracy mode, haha.

14. Assisted suicide is illegal: do you agree?
It is illegal, agreed.
I think there is a case for euthanasia. Stories like that of Terry Schiavo, who eventually had to have her feeding tube removed, make me think it'd be far better to just overdose her and get it over with. I can't imagine the distress of her prolonged death caused her loved ones. While the fact that her body was kept going for so many years when her brain had largely liquefied - madness.
I think it should be a choice people can make legally, although obviously it would need controls. Perhaps a body to investigate for coercion etc beforehand.

15. The Scottish executive have made it illegal to spank children under the age of three, do you think that English and Welsh parliaments should follow suit?
Yes. Smacking a child under 3 teaches him or her nothing but hitting is ok. Distraction, or simply removing child from the source of the problem, or vice versa - or unexpected parental bellows work well.
I don't think smacking's an effective disciplinary measure after that age either, I think there are always better alternatives.
Of course, no parent is perfect and I understand it can seem the only thing to do, and I'll even hold my hands up and say I have smacked my child - but when I did, it said more about me being at the end of the tether than about what my child had done.
And spanking is never ok.*

16. Would you burn UK currency for a million dollars (OK, kinda weird...)?
As long as it wasn't a sum worth more than the million dollars would be, haha. And as long as it wasn't my money or that of someone or an organisation I approved of.

17. Who do you think would make a better Prime Minister, Brown or Cameron?
Brown. Cameron's an arse.

18. Do you think we should continue to pay a TV licence fee?
Yes, the Beeb does alright. I think it's the only way to keep regional news and programming alive. The local ITV branch is shutting down and all our "local" programming is going further and further away, presumably because there's not enough money in it. But the Beeb will continue to provide these services.

19. Do you think that the word 'chav' should be driven out of usage as it may have its roots in Romani vocabulary and thus be a racial slur?
It's very hard to drive words out of usage. I wouldn't use it myself.

20. Do our think our current accepted vocabulary for dealing with racial minorities is adequate?
I'm not sure. I'd like it spelt out and set in stone.

21. What do you think of Chris Moyles?
He's quite irritating on the radio so I never listen to him. Other than that I don't know much about him.

22. Are you afraid others will judge you from reading some of your answers?
Judge me for what? I don't mind disagreement, questions, am even prepared to be asked to re-think or think through things better, but meh, not too bothered on being judged on the contents of this post.

I'd be interested in seeing your answers."


* Except in role-play where children are definitely not involved, but the making of them might be, if you know what I'm saying, mwhahaha.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cake-making consternation

It's a toss-up who was more surprised, I think. Me happily measuring out flour, or the spider who had fallen into the bowl of the weighing scales. Yikes.

'Course, while it was a temporary shock for me (whose flour started wriggling and then realising the cause to my disgust) - it was a rather more serious and, er, more permanent problem to the spider, which never got a chance to get over the initial "what-the-fuck?!"s.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

You never hear anything good...

When my little boy started reception year, one of the teaching staff was nattering to another parent who works in childcare, saying: how lovely it had been in the first week, with only a few children and how they could concentrate on them all and they were coming on in leaps and bounds in only a week! And then it all went to pot when the next group of children were added on the following week (the school introduces the new children in staggered starts). And now (with our new ones coming in) it would be even worse...

Way to fill me with confidence.

Dozy.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The suspect of beauty

The M&S clothing adverts bother me. Why is that the only woman of colour featured is the one who is always in the underwear?

The other women get to keep their clothes on far more. On the bright side, at least M&S do actually sell clothes and have a range of undies, so it's not women in their undies for no apparent reason as it so often is in advertising.

Still... somehow feels suspect to me.


Oh, and another thing - you know that series "Britain's missing model"? While I appreciate the idea was to get people to think about disability not being incompatible with beauty (a big subject to tackle), it also troubled me that all the women featured were white. The trailers for the series showed pretty much identi-kit blonde white women, distinguished only by their disabilities.

This makes me wrinkle my nose up in probably a rather unattractive way.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Most pointless toy ever

What what what the blue-pencilled bleep is going on with this toy?

It is the empty frame with painted on exploded bits of Dr Who villain, Cassandra. Why oh why oh why? £5 for that? What a rip!

It'd be better if you could reattach a Cassandra, but no, destroyed Cassandra it truly is.

Good grief.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Life! Death! Prizes!

goes the sub-title of 'Chat' magazine. Marvellous. All the really important stuff then.

I only know this, I hasten to add, because I was waiting in a queue at our local supermarket beside the magazine racks and was bored.

You can really count on our local supermarket for poor to indifferent customer service. At the tillpoints they throw your goods at you faster than you could possibly pack and when they finish sit there picking their teeth, or poised panther-like with their hands on the next person's stuff while you struggle on.

You might have a child who has bashed itself on a metal chair, screaming and crying, and they sit there expecting you to pack your groceries away rather than comfort your child*. The thought of raising a finger to put something in a bag to help wouldn't even speculate about the merest possibility of crossing what passes for their minds. The thought of asking if you needed some assistance wouldn't even speculate about crossing their minds.

The cashiers chat away merrily to their friends-who-happen-to-be-customers or their colleagues behind them, somewhat like owls with an incredible twisting of the neck, but give you a thousand yard stare or avoid your eye and blank you rather than the common courtesy of a grunt** to acknowledge your existence.

They might attempt to put credit on your phone, fail, hand you your money back saying "That didn't go through" and start serving the next customer straightaway rather than ask you if you want them to try again or offer you the option of a phone voucher instead. Oh yes. Service with a snarl. You're just a nuisance, y'know. Customer schmustomer.

This and much more is why I very rarely go there - and why we call it Scummerfield.


* Not that I hold grudges. Ha.
** I don't ask for miracles like a smile or a hello, I have the bar set low.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Sexism according to the UN

Star Wars: Clone Wars

Why is it that in a galaxy a long long time ago, when women are as likely to be Jedi apprentices as any man, that a robot would go for a cheap laugh about "Yes sir, I mean Ma'am, I mean sir?" to the female villain?

What a load of shit!

A robot is never going to make that mistake unless it's programmed by chauvinistic ijeets... Oh, wait, I see the flaw in my argument...

Gaaaaaaah.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

The eyebrows have it

The TimesOnline amused me yesterday when I read that Alistair Darling had "raised eyebrows" when he warned "that the public were “p-ed off” with Labour * ".

Fortunate that it was other people's eyebrows he was raising and not his own; after all, what eyebrows they are! He must surely require a crane to raise them. And they are of such a dark and contrasting nature to the rest of his face.

Where do politicians get their eyebrows from?


They better watch out for the Belgian army **, that's all I can say.



* No shit, Sherlock.
** Much as I hate to link to the M@il as it is the proverbial shit on my shoe, all principles are defenestrated for a cheap laugh.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

We met my friend's baby recently, who was very gorgeous. My daughter was mighty impressed and spent ages holding her and trying to make her smile.

Afterwards she was raving about her and confided that she was "as cute as a guinea pig"*.



* This is actually high praise indeed, as there has never been anything as cute as guinea pig before in her eyes, guinea pigs are the pinnacle of cutedom.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

All is revealed

This is what I knew.

Overheard

Teenagers talking without a trace of sarcasm or awareness:

"Yeah, she's really old: 21."

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Oh, of course we don't blame the victims. Except when we do.

Apparently in the past year 14 women had their compensation as victims of crime cut because they were drinking, by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority.

To get to the stage of being awarded compensation, that a crime has been committed must be established, right?

Seems logical, yes?

So ok, these women were raped. Can't get away from that, can we?

But clearly because they had been drinking, they weren't as raped. They were 3/4 as raped perhaps, or maybe less. Hardly raped at all.

I am glad that the CICA "has issued a statement acknowledging it should not have happened in any case and confirming it is not its policy to reduce compensation for rape victims because of alcohol consumption.

A spokesman for the authority said: "We have just completed a review of our staff instructions, operating procedures and structure to ensure greater consistency in decision making."

The Ministry of Justice also said it was not its policy to "reduce the level of award to a victim of rape due to alcohol consumption.

"This stance supports our view that a victim of rape is not in any way culpable due to alcohol consumption."

I am furious that for at least 14 women this year, and who knows how many previously, they did basically say "you were asking for it".

Monday, August 11, 2008

Virgin on the narked

I really don't know why I suffer virgin media to be my home page. It annoys me on a regular basis with its stupid "news" stories. Prior ones I have ranted about on here have been Big Brother's new chair #rolls eyes# and the sexiest jobs for women #pulls hair out#...

Today's photo story about the stupidest Olympic sports vexes me. If you look at their pictures of the sports people concerned, you can see they are trained to the nth degree, in their physical prime, positively rippling with well-toned musculature, and have clearly devoted themselves to their sports. It shines out at you.

I'm not a big fan of sporting events usually, but it miffs me that some twat sitting at his or her computer thinks it's hilarious to denigrate their abilities and determination, and gets paid to do so. I mean, all sports are pretty much futile if you get down to it: there's not a great deal of point in chucking a javelin now we have guns and supermarkets for example, nor in running about with a ball generally. It is fun and good exercise, 'though.

The value judgements placed on sports are more than a bit screwy, if you ask me. Football revered and handball laughed at? Pish, tush and fourpence. They are all highly trained, determined people and I don't think it's cool to put one set on a pedestal and snark at the others. Not cool, dude.


Finished: The Minotaur

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The secret lives of posteriors

Flipping through channels we caught a burst of Trinny and Susannah. Apparently some woman's bum had "lost its identity".

I have nothing to add.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Hergé's adventures of FaceBook

Formerly, FaceBook had a question-mark picture for people who choose not to put up a profile picture. It's changed to this below fairly recently.

For the first time I had a good look at it today and it struck me that it's not a very representative sort of silhouette. It's very blokey looking.

Or it could be Tin Tin.

It could be a woman with short hair of course, I acknowledge this is possible and have indeed visited the hairdresser* for buzz-cuts in my time...

But you know, it's a bit like our traffic light people, if we're representing human beings round about the place, there's the default right there. A bloke. Not a bloke with an afro or a turban, of course, just a bloke (with a quiff, oddly). Elvis at large. Tin Tin on the town.

If you're going to do a silhouette of a person, why not choose an obviously female one just to break the monotony? Play with the possibilities, deny that default? I presume the thought is, (if even thought was employed), that male Facebookers be put off and feel excluded by such a depiction. They probably would, but then why should women accept being represented by the male again, why should they be excluded?

What was wrong with the question mark, eh?

* Well, for the buzz-cut it was actually M with his clippers rather than an actual hairdresser. Why pay someone to shave one's head? As long as your accomplice looks out for ears as they go.

Neh-neh-neh-neh-neh

I know something they don't know.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Hancock

I like superhero movies and ones based on graphic novels or comics. I have to. Otherwise I'd be rolling my eyes through most of M's film choices, haha. That said, it was my turn to choose and therefore my idea to go and see Hancock recently. I kind of wish I hadn't bothered now.

If you haven't seen it, I wouldn't recommend reading any further as spoilers follow in (hopefully) the same colour as the background, highlight to read...

My main problem with the film is regarding Hancock's female counterpart, Mary. She takes the executive decision to let Hancock remain unaware of her existence and leave him in his amnesiac state. So far so-so, if they're together they're mortal and they'll end up getting murdered or whatever, and she can't bear to see him in pain or watch him die. OK.

He gets about the drunken bumming (cos nobody cared enough about him to claim him from the hospital = her fault) and bit of heroing.

What does Mary do? She finds a widower with a child, settles down and lives a very conventional domestic life. No heroics for her. She's not out to change the world, she's not looking for new England, la la la. Her choice is to "save" one man by being his wife and a mother to his child. She plays a part hiding her true abilities, even to the extent of pretending to need Ray's (her mortal husband) help to open a jar. She doesn't even lead a double life and do a bit of rescuing on the side, her whole secret is that she used to be Hancock's wife - and his vulnerability.

She claims to be stronger and in some ways more powerful than Hancock in their later confrontation, but he was somehow always the best at the hero business, apparently. She can throw him about the room (well, through it) but she couldn't possibly have an interest in being heroic outside the home, making a difference on a national or even city-wide scale, oh no.

Ray raises Hancock out of his self-pity through his idealism and Mary finishes the job by being the catalyst for making him the hero he is supposed to be. Ie. in the end, Hancock sacrifices his love/happiness and saves both their lives by leaving. And she can go back to playing happy families with Ray.

It galls me that the essential message I get about women from this film, is that at base being someone's wife and mother is their real aspiration, desire, raison d'etre and they are willing to give up everything else about themselves for it. While it's important for Ray to promote and help Hancock live up to his potential despite his reluctance, funnily enough, he's content to let Mary return to obscurity at his side. Hmmm.

It's not that those roles of wife and mother are not important or valid choices, for they are, very much so - but to the exclusion of all else, to the rejection or dismissal of one's own potential and even identity?

Think of it this way, could the roles of Hancock and Mary have been reversed? And if not, (and I do believe it is "not"), then why not? Why would it not have been alright for him to choose domestic tranquillity and her to go off springing across buildings to a life of lonely glory & heroism?



Finished: Wide Sargasso Sea

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Conversation with a small boy

"Have you had an accident?"

"No."

"Are you sure? Your trousers look wet?"

"It's water."

"Where did you get the water from?"

"My willy."

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Denote denote denoted

The old-fashioned formal way of addressing a woman through her husband's name really ticks me off. Eg. Mrs Rosco P. Coltrane.

The woman's identity was completely erased and she only got to use her first name formally again when her husband carked it.

Funny really, how women were completely identified by marital status/availability: if she's married, she doesn't exist apart from as Mrs, if she's unmarried she's Miss and if she's widowed, she uses her first name and her married name. These days we have Ms as well, which was supposed to be an equivalent for Mr and replace our excess of markers, but now people take it to mean divorced or feminist. Score!

Gah.

What makes me annoyed by this today is that there are plants (and probably other things) named in this manner: thus a rose named for a wife ends up being called Rosa "Mrs Rosco P Coltrane". It's complimenting and commemorating the husband rather than the wife, isn't it? Talk about giving with one hand and taking with the other.

I have nothing against women taking their husband's surname when they marry, cos what's so great about being identified by your father's name instead? It's all the patriarchy! #foams at mouth and falls over#*.

I do think it's darned convenient and possibly helps with a sense of belonging if a family group or unit all have the same last name, so on that basis it makes sense to me. Then again, I like that it's becoming less unusual these days to blend surnames. Double-barreling is a bit ungainly at times but making a new surname? Well, why not? I think it could be a really positive bonding thing, a symbol of a couple's marriage as much as the wedding and general hoohaa.

I didn't do it myself cos I didn't like my original surname at all and was glad to get rid, but think! Imagine if you please, Christopher Lillicrap marrying Agnes Stonewell: they could blend their names to make Mr and Mrs Crapwell!

Or Lillistone.


* Not really. Obviously. It really is the patriarchy, of course. It's the foaming at the mouth I'm not doing. Clearly.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Ker-plunk

I managed to bash myself up pretty good the other day. Something to do with thinking a dustbin should serve as a step-ladder.


Hmmm. In retrospect a stupid idiotic idea. I plummeted and pulled various bits and twisted other bits and it was all rather ouchy and when I had a nice sit down, I was shaking and going hot and cold all over.

What's turned out to be most embarrassing about the whole misadventure, however, is the black eye I gave myself. I worry that people think I am a battered wife!

You don't know whether to explain it, hide it or brazen it out without a word. If you rush to explain, maybe people would think you're covering up something and won't believe you fell off a bin, haha. Perhaps they haven't even noticed and you're bringing it to their attention unnecessarily.

If you don't explain, perhaps they are drawing their own conclusions. I know a lot of folks would automatically assume the worst. Hehe, poor M.

This is where most people's tactfulness and or fear of embarrassment/confrontation play against you a bit. Nobody, except for my mother, has asked me about it at all.

And I guess it plays against battered partners who might *want* someone to intervene or say something. Of course it's a common theory that someone who is subject to domestic violence will deny it and rejects help until they're "ready". Is that really true or is it a convenient out for not getting involved?

I have seen it work that way, with the old standard of a woman getting hit in the street by her boyfriend in a drunken spat and then when someone asks "are you alright, do you need help?" or the like, getting cussed out by her and told to mind their own business or worse. But I'm not sure whether it shouldn't be challenged. Perhaps in some cases, asking after someone, asking them about injuries, might be what they need, to let them know someone cares or notices?

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Unhappy ending

Seagulls are sort of horrid things in their rubbish-scavenging, sandwich-snatching, washing-pooping-on ways.

But the chicks on our roof are very cute fluff-balls, with ginormous wading legs that seem to belong to some other bird - as though they have borrowed their mummy's shoes. Only they are legs.

One fell off our roof. It seemed alright so I borrowed a ladder and we scooped it up in a box and shoved it back up again. I had hopes it would be ok, its parents seemed to be looking after it despite its adventure. But when I wandered outside in the late evening, it was by the bin again. By morning it had died.

It seemed a bit smaller than its siblings, so maybe it was the runt and maybe it didn't fall, it was pushed? That's nature for you. It could have been the wind rather than murderous nest-mates as well.

What kind of July is this anyway? I want my money back.


The recently deceased.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Local yokel

I really like Steph Newton's music. Cornish gal.

Hmmph

There is an advert for pregnancy tests that can work up to six days before your period is due. I'm slightly apprehensive of these.

I guess if a condom broke or something, you might be very anxious to find out as soon as possible. But in that scenario, there's a possibility it might alleviate worry wrongly: as a test can give a false negative and this is far more likely early on when the pregnancy hormones are less abundant. Still, I suppose if it's a positive, the earlier you know the better if the chances are you might not want to continue the pregnancy.

And if you're actively trying for a baby, there is often a lot of stress and anticipation around testing time, so perhaps the sooner the better, to get over the expectation.

I think I feel a bit negative about it because a lot of pregnancies don't stick in the first few weeks and I've seen women desolate when they discover it's miscarried. I think there's something to be said for not knowing too early and not necessarily being aware.

Still, I suppose someone who is trying to conceive would be pretty conscious of what was going on, so scrub all that.

This post was a bit of a nonsense.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A book meme

I did a meme like this a while back, but thought I might as well revisit it, courtesy of a Badger On Fire.

1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE. (I'm doing those in bold & italicising as I don't know how to underline it).
4) Strike out the books you have no intention of ever reading, or were forced to read at school and hated.

1. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2. The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3. Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte One of my favourite books in my teens
4. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (haven't read the last one yet, but will eventually I expect). Not greatly enthused about them.
5. To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6. The Bible (most of it)
7. Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8. Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell

9. His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman Kicks Potter's arse.
10. Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11. Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12. Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13. Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
One of my favourites of all time.
14. Complete works of Shakespeare (well, not all, but most)
15. Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17. Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18. Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19. The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20. Middlemarch - George Eliot
21. Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22. The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23. Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24. War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25. The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26. Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27. Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28. Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29. Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carrol
30. The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32. David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33. Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34. Emma - Jane Austen (I may have read this, not sure)
35. Persuasion - Jane Austen (I may have read this, not sure)
36. The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
37. Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres

38. Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
39. Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
40. Animal Farm - George Orwell
41. The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
Gah, hours of my life I'll never get back
42. One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
43. A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
44. The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
45. Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery

46. Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy Hardy annoys me so much, but this one of his I liked. I might revisit his stuff, tho, as having changed my mind about Austen recently, I suppose I should give him another chance too.
47. The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
48. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
49. Atonement - Ian McEwan (hated it and gave up)
50. Life of Pi - Yann Martel
51. Dune - Frank Herbert
52. Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
53. Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
54. A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
55. The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
56. A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens

57. Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
58. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon

59. Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
60. Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
61. Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
62. The Secret History - Donna Tartt
63. The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold Gah! More hours of life I'll never get back
64. Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
65. On The Road - Jack Kerouac I'd like to read some Kerouac to get some idea of why he's considered so important an American author & poet.
66. Bridget Jones' Diary - Helen Fielding Fluffy wuffy nonsense
67. Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
68. Moby Dick - Herman Melville Call me Ishmael
69. Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
70. Dracula - Bram Stoker

71. The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
72. Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
73. Ulysses - James Joyce
74. The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
75. Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
76. Germinal - Emile Zola
77. Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
78. Possession - AS Byatt
79. A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
80. Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
81. The Color Purple - Alice Walker

82. The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
83. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
84. A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry

85. Charlotte's Web - EB White
86. The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
87. Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
88. The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
89. Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
90. The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
91. The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
92. Watership Down - Richard Adams I loved the book. As a child we saw the film version at the cinema and it freaked me out so much I had to be taken out. The blood rising on the fields, had nightmares for years!
93. A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
94. A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
95. The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
96. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl Only recently read it for first time with S.
97. Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
98. The Princess Diaries, Meg Cabot

Snark

On my gran's ward, there were two women with almost identical injuries from falls. One had been on her way to church, which made me snark facetiously. The other had been on her way to Bingo.

"The rain it raineth on the just and also on the unjust fella,
But mostly on the just because the unjust steals the just's umbrella."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Olay olay, olay olay, feeling hot hot hot

I'm not sure if it was the advert for Oil of Olay or whether it was some other brand that annoyed me (and even if it was Olay, it ought to be Ulay anyway). Honestly, I'll never come to terms with Ulay being Olay. Starburst are Opal Fruits, Snickers are Marathons, the shop down the road is Johnsons despite the Johnsons not having owned or run it in 20 years: as it was, it is and ever shall be. The end.

Well, not the end of the post, cos I still haven't told you what it is about the Olay advert that annoyed me. If it was Olay.

The product they are marketing is for the women who "aren't ready for cosmetic injections yet". As though all women should be ready for botox eventually, it's just a matter of time. Pfft.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pretty as protection

I was reading a forum recently and a woman was explaining that she felt uncomfortable because another woman was flirting with her husband at work. The responses she got were naturally supportive, blah blah.

What struck me was that many of them pointed out how attractive she herself is, this to indicate she need not worry.

This feeds into the notion that infidelity happens only if one of the parties has let themself go (or perhaps suggests less attractive people who marry or are in a relationship should expect their partners to cheat)?

This must be a nonsense? It casts the blame back at the cheated-upon rather than cheater.

It's not true, surely, that people always cheat because they find another person more attractive and are "trading up". Nor is it true that by maintaining your appearance you can keep your partner faithful. I'm not saying that appearance has no affect on desire or anything, of course it can be a factor. But being attractive doesn't make you immune. Look at Princess Di and Camilla: on the face of it, should the physical be all then there would have been no contest.

I knew a really gorgeous woman whose bloke was constantly, er, wandering. I don't think pointing out that she was beautiful so didn't need to worry would have helped her any. Of course, nothing really would have helped apart from her not taking him back after the nth time, I guess.

I don't really know where I'm going with this, apart from it annoyed me, this emphasis on how she looked as if it could be a protection from him straying. It makes out that the bloke can only be concerned with appearances, thus is rather insulting and derogatory about men; bloke = superficial and dick-led. And it feeds into a blame-culture for women; they must keep striving to keep young and beautiful and if their partner is unfaithful, it must be down to their imperfections.

I'm not denying that if your partner lets things slide it may reduce their desirability in your eyes, but it's not a free pass to shag around, is it? I know the comments were meant to make her feel better, but ...

and then I just sort of tail off.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Elvis gone flat

I sped through the supermarket today, on a mission to retrieve nice bacon and a token gift for M for Fathers Day* but I was a bit taken aback by the Elvis ironing boards on display there, I have to say. What connection has Elvis with ironing?

I can see a link between him and ham-burgers or loo seats in all due bad-taste. But ironing, no. I suppose it makes a change from flower patterns and shit**.



*Yes, I know I could've planned that one better, but the kids had made cards and home-made presssies already, so it wasn't like he woke up to nothing. I just wanted to get something additional, like he got me some chocolates for Mothers Day.

** Not that I've seen that many ironing boards with shit patterns on them. Well, shit patterns, but not actual patterns featuring shit. Heh heh.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Plastered

Indulging the old pattern seeking brain today, I noticed a man in my plaster.


Who is he?!

Suspecting some hoary old philosopher, I decided to check some pics at Wiki. Imagine my surprise to find a possible candidate right there as a featured article: Emile Lemoine

Look at that beard. A mathematician on my walls?

And curiouser and curiouser, he was born in Quimper and I once went on a school exchange trip there. Whooo!

But I have other suspects too:


Plato, Socrates, Lemoine, the Green Man and, last but not least, er, God.

Or could it be the Venerable Bede?


I only wish it was the Virgin Mary, and then I could chip it off and sell it on Ebay.

I don't know if there's a market for philosophers, mathematicians or Bedes of the non-threadable variety.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Juno

I liked an awful lot about Juno. It's not unproblematic in some respects, but I liked the way that it dealt with its subject matter.

One of my favourite things about the film was the strength of mind and confidence of the protagonist: she made her own choices, without shirking or bleating. Contrary to the clichés one might expect from a film covering a topic like teenage pregnancy, her parents, her friend & Bleeker (the father) supported her no matter what. Yet it was her alone taking the hard decisions and steering her own course.

The family & friend relationships and interactions make this a feel-good movie. I liked that the step-mother was not a wicked witch figure, but truly loved Juno and would fight for her. I liked the portrayal of the father as well.

I liked that the convention of jock vs geek/cheerleader vs indie stereotypes was ignored or subverted. Not ever having experienced the US school system and not knowing how true to life these conventions may or may not be, it was refreshing to have a different perspective, where teen-castes were not so sharply delineated. There was over-lap and friendly interplay between groups, instead of the daggers-drawn snobbery commonly depicted.

I liked that Juno did not regret the sex and remembered it joyously; I liked that she was the instigator and wasn't pushed into it nor was ashamed afterwards, which would be so tempting a scenario for this type of film. At the same time, I didn't feel it glamourised teenage sexual activity. It did treat its audience as though they have brains in their heads, no hectoring or lecturing.

Spoiler in background colour: I liked that when the potential adoptive parents split up, that the woman was still seen by Juno as a suitable parent and that the non-traditional adoption went through.

All in all, there was a lot to like about this film. I did feel the film glossed over the option of abortion too easily and nor was I clear on whether contraception failed or why they used none, but it would probably have been a much heavier movie had it dealt with this at length.

Opening things

I open up my browser to be greeted with so-called "news" of a new Big Brother chair. Whoop-di-fucking-doo.

I would be extremely interested in my own new chair, should I acquire one, although I doubt I would spend too much time glorying in it. It would be, after all, a sodding chair.

I would be mildly animated, (or feign interest and at least nod in the right places) should the occasion arise whereby a friend or family member had become the proud owner of a new chair, if they appeared to want such a response. But in my heart of hearts, I would be fully aware that it is just, after all, a sodding chair.

A tv programme acquiring a new chair tests my patience somewhat.

This is the kind of thing that gets me riled about Big Brother: news stories about sodding chairs.

Last year I railed about the coming of Big Brother again. This year I am just fatigued by the phenomenon. Surely people aren't still watching? They'll be first against the wall when the revolution comes*.


And a bit of a tangent, but still linked by the 'opening things' title, haha, I opened a letter today. Unlikely as it may sound, it wasn't a bill and wasn't junk: it was a reply from Spar. I am quite pleased that the company appears to have taken my complaint about the egregious golliwogs seriously. The shopkeeper has written to say he'll try to return the merchandise to his suppliers and won't restock them. So that's good, I suppose.


*Unless they read this blog in which case they can have a cookie or a crumpet** instead... Not that I'm sucking up at all.

**A theoretical, metaphorical foodstuff, clearly. Just feel you are the exception to the whole shot-at-dawn bit.