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.