Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Greetings

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, belatedly and early.

Posting has been thin here due to not having a lot to say and being a bit manic in real life. I daresay something will annoy or amuse me soon and then you'll know all about it!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Good stuff on the internet

I was wandering the internet and found quite a nice heart-warming thing: the Reddit communities of r/atheism and r/christianity in friendly competition to raise money for charities online. R/atheism for Médecins Sans Frontiéres, and r/christianity for World Vision.

Although I daresay they spend most of their time shredding each other's views and they're supposedly competing to raise the most, they are also donating to each other's pages, (sometimes leaving provocative little comments).

I like that a lot.

Cornish stand-off

Picture the scene: a single-track road on a hill. There are three or four passing-places on the hill, the first at the bottom, which is a wide corner (pass-space 1). There's a tight section and then a slight bulge (pass-space 2) where two cars may pass but it's a squash & a squeeze, then it narrows again briefly before a wider space (3) for 50 yards or so, before tight again past some houses and then wider again (4).

So, you have the hill.

Now you have a middle-aged gent proceeding up the hill in his car, and a middle-aged woman travelling down the hill in her car.

They meet at the narrow part just after pass-space 2, and the gent drops back a couple of yards expecting her to squeeze into the side to allow him to pass. She evidently assumed he would continue to go back into the corner and just drives down instead. He reverses no further.

They both stop and sit staring stonily at each other through the windscreens. They possibly gesticulate, I don't know.

They wait.

They wait.

Enter me and family in the car, heading up the hill. We see them ahead and stop at the corner, leaving plenty of room for the car ahead to come back into, and sit expecting one to move. We wait.

Husband gets tetchy and sends me to investigate.

I discover a Mexican stand-off. Both are more than willing to pass messages to the other, but neither willing to move (in reverse, both are willing to go forwards). Variously they wanted to know if the other was local and whether they knew the unwritten rules of "who drops back" of the village, or to offer to reverse the other's cars if they didn't know how to. Taking a diplomatic stance, I felt this information wasn't necessarily need-to-know or relevant and possibly incendiary.

Another car comes up behind us, but gets bored and does a three-point turn to go out of the village the other way. I'm beginning to think we should do the same. Then another car comes up behind us and sits there.

Husband gets out of the car and starts talking about calling the police, loudly. A car comes up behind the woman.

Finally the gent drops back (in such a way that she'll have to pull in to the side to let him past, so although she wins in getting him to reverse, he wins in getting going faster). So everybody's happy/mad as hell/petty as fuck.

And I laugh my arse off.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Pledge

It really is just a cleaning product where Clegg is concerned.



Hat-tip to PrimitivePeople.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Won't someone think of the children?

The Grauniad had a teaser about Gillian McKeith on its front cover: something about the woman who has united public opinion (in disapprobrium, I imagine).

Well, having seen some of her antics in I'm A Celebrity .. Get Me Out of Here, it'd be hard to defend her, and I was already rather negative about her looooonnnng before that, ever since it came out about her misleading use of the honorific "Doctor".

But while commentators and the public wind themselves into ecstacies of ridicule, I just keep flashing on the picture of her pale-faced sixteen year old daughter. So the interview she did worked on someone.

From time to time I love a good bitching session, especially about someone who seems a charlatan, but it's all dust and ashes when I think about that teenager. Bah.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Good news? Jailed for 'false retraction': part 2

The Grauniad reports that the woman who was jailed for falsely retracting rape allegations has been released from jail. This is great news, but it's ridiculous and obscene that she's ever been anywhere near a jail cell. The judge, er, Lord Judge, judged that the judiciary* have a duty of "compassion for a woman who has already been victimised" and appears to accept that she has been in an abusive relationship for nine years.

So she's got a community service and supervision order instead. Argh. Head-desk. Criminal record and still being punished, albeit differently and less harshly.

While her estranged husband failed to give the children of the marriage into the custody of her sister as agreed while she was in jail.



* Theres a whole lot of 'judging' going on in this sentence.

Schmoctors

I've never really found this before, but it's been borne in upon me today that it's really hard to get a doctor's appointment.

If you phone between 8.30 and 9am, you can get an emergency appointment that day. If you want a routine appointment, you have to wait over three weeks for a late-night one or four weeks for something at a reasonable hour for a child. There's no intermediary step. Bleurgh...

It's not an emergency, but neither do I think it can wait 4 weeks so it forces my hand. I end up snaffling an appointment that perhaps someone else might need more. It's a rubbish system.

The receptionist asks you what you want to see them for, and maybe I'm just being unreasonable, but I don't think it's any of their business. It probably is exactly their business, but I hate it.

Stamp stamp, pout pout.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hinternet

Abortion debates rarely raise a smile, but this comment: "Seriously, what's with this obsession with potentiality? If monkeys could potentially fly out of my butt, does that mean I should be forced by law to hoard bananas for when they do?" at Pharyngula did make me laugh out loud.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

And your Royal correspondent reports...

I think it was quite a canny move on William Windsor's* part to give fiancée Kate Middleton his mother's engagement ring. Spending a whole crapload of money on a new ring would have fuelled antagonism in these times of cut-cut-cut by the ConDems. And the sentimentality of remembering his mother through it plays well with those that kind of thing plays well to.

Of course, I'm being unduly cynical on the latter part and I don't mean it.

I do appreciate the not flashing the cash tho (beyond having access to a big old sapphire ring to give in the first place, haha), good move.



* Or his advisors.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

O Cod


Cod fillets. Another case for Wonko the Sane.

Sorry that the picture's not too clear. The legend reads:

"Ingredients.
Cod, water (as protective ice glaze).
Caught in the North East Atlantic Ocean.
Allergy advice: contains fish."


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Jailed for 'false retraction'

A woman tried to drop charges against her husband for rape and has been jailed for falsely dropping those charges.

  • In November, she contacted the police, accusing her husband of raping her multiple times.
  • Two months later, she told them that although she was telling the truth about the rapes, she wanted the charges dropped.
  • This the police refused to do, and continued action against the husband.
  • A couple of weeks later she claimed the allegations she had made were untrue and she was arrested and charged with perverting the course of justice.
  • By July, she explained that pressure from her husband and his relatives had made her try to retract the allegations, which she says are true.
So we have a woman who says she was in an abusive relationship, raped multiple times, who was put under pressure from that violent husband and his relatives to withdraw her accusation. Her attempts to do that mean she's now in jail.

If what she is saying is true, jailing her is unfathomably cruel. It's devoid of compassion, devoid of justice.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Not so Wright on

Watching the Wright Stuff this morning, one discussion was of Minister Tim Loughton's puffing off* about making it easier for children from ethnic minorities to be adopted by people not belonging to that ethnic group.

A woman phoned in and tried to put across the point that she felt that the adoption process is harder on people from minorities who try to adopt. I think in part she was also saying she felt the Social Services are more likely to put children from ethnic minorities into care than those of white parents.

Wright cut her off rapidly and didn't seem to want to entertain the notion that racism could play a part in the difficulties of finding adoptive parents of similar backgrounds. Now in fairness, the woman wasn't particularly clear and was having difficulty wording her point, and to keep the show moving sometimes it is necessary to cut off the hesitant and obviously fazed**, but I thought it was remarkable how little he wanted to even listen to her premise. He quickly threw in that the adoption process is hard on everyone, talking of a white couple he knows who are trying to adopt. When someone claiming to work in the social services called in later, he asked her whether her experiences bore out the previous caller's comments, which she denied. His immediate acceptance of this and dismissal of the experiences of the first caller was pretty marked.

What is so threatening about taking a moment to consider whether there might be obstacles to adoption which are peculiar to particular ethnic groups? Much as we might wish it, we aren't in a post-racist society, (even if black people can now theoretically join the BNP*** if they want to). Why not explore what might be reasons for a dearth of potential adopters from diverse backgrounds and the disproportionate amount of children from ethnic minorities in care (and how long they stay there)?

Sure, The Wright Stuff has fifteen minutes max to expound per topic, but really it was astounding how fast he shied away from whether prejudice or other issues specific to a given ethnic group might play a part.


*This, despite there being no bar on inter-racial adoption currently, just guidance that 'significant consideration' should be given to the issue. According to the Grauniad, " Social workers say they follow the agreed guidance. If there are, to quote the minister, "no other issues", minority children can be and are adopted by white parents. They suggest that Loughton might better work to recruit more adoptive parents and desist from "social-work bashing"."

** Although Wright often cuts off people he disagrees with as well.

*** Mwhahaha about the news N!ck Gr!ff!n is facing bankruptcy over his party's debts. He will no longer be able to serve as an MEP if he does become bankrupt. As Nelson would say, ha ha.


Monday, November 01, 2010

Oh Mr Fry

Edited to add (8/11):

Stephen Fry explained his side of what happened here (on the 4th) and I'm happy to accept he was misrepresented and hung out to dry by the media. Sorry I took it at face-value. Whoops. Shoulda known better.

"Sometimes I have to pinch myself. I am sitting on an aeroplane writing a blog which tries to reassure the world that I am quite aware that women enjoy sex. No one can say my life isn’t unpredictable, interesting and … well, Fryish…"

Quite so.



--------

Previous post (1/11) begins:

“I feel sorry for straight men. The only reason women will have sex with them is that sex is the price they are willing to pay for a relationship with a man, which is what they want. They want a boyfriend and then they want commitment.

“Of course a lot of women will deny this and say, ‘Oh, no, but I love sex, I love it!’ But do they go around having it the way that gay men do?

“Gay men are the perfect acid test. If they want to get their rocks off, they go into a park where they know they can do it.”

And how right he is. The Girl with the One-Track Mind and other women like her lie. And lesbians do not exist. [/sarcasm]


Oh Stephen. Oh dear.

(He claims to have been misquoted and is stropping that
"everyone thinks [he's] the Anti-Christ").

Not so, just explain yourself (this may be hard) - or go do some reading (try a bit of Feminism 101) - or better yet, say "Whoops, I frivolously mis-spoke and frankly I know zero about female sexuality, as you so rightly" ended with the patented Fry knowing look.

We'd all laugh and it'd be at an end.

(The man has bucket-loads of good will in the general populace), so Stephen, just say you did a whoopsie.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Time out

My favourite part of the day at the moment, is those ten minutes I spend cross-legged on the hearth, lighting the fire, feeding the tiny flames kindling until they're big enough to consume logs. It's peaceful and the fire dances.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Fuss budgets

I was pretty disappointed with this tool - a do-it-yourself government budget cutter. It's quite fun and all: take that, Scottish & Welsh devolution* (while NI goes unscathed due to family loyalties), mwhahahaha, take that, Trident!

But why aren't there some boxes about raising income? I know the tool is for reviewing spending, but surely a wider remit would have been more balanced. Yes, I'm complaining about a frivolous internet tool** not doing more than it's designed to, but really - the presentation of this just says cuts are the only way, and seemingly buys into the government line completely. It has to be this deep and this quick?!


* This is just being provocative in a tongue-in-cheek way, for specific audiences who know who they are.
** Blue-pencil's sake, this is from the Guardian!

EyebrOWs

I was reading an online message board where the advantages and disadvantages of threading, tweezing and waxing eyebrows were under discussion. Methods of reducing the pain, or just getting used to it were mentioned, with some of the women claiming they no longer feel any pain & pondering if they might have deadened the nerve endings over the years. Stretching the skin, applying ice-packs, applying hot towels, doing it quick, just gritting your teeth... How the new growth can look like black-heads and the difficulties of extracting them.

Well, I felt like I was in a foreign land, disembodied and alienated. I wonder why it's accepted that this is normal and something women do. Why are eyebrows sculpted or removed and redrawn? Why are we wincing and tweaking into the mirror for hours on end? Isn't it just a bit ... weird?

You only really notice eye-brows when they're badly done. A natural eye-brow doesn't draw attention to itself. I mean, there are monobrows, but really the proportion of women who 'need' to pluck can't be that big, can it? And who exactly goes that close to someone's face and studies their stray hairs?

Absurd standards of conventional beauty, you have no greater illustration than a bunch of women discussing the masochistic practices they put themselves through.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Instead of bad-ass vampire books ...

... We have baaaaaaad vampire books.

What is it about vampire fiction that terrible sloppy writing seems to get a free pass? I am currently reading Jane Jordan's Blood and Ashes and I want to slap her publishers silly. Don't they employ proof-readers anymore? Spell-check is no substitute.

Repeatedly through the first half of the book there's 'jealously' used as a noun. Slap! Take that 'l' out. Don't you know how much ink that errant 'l' is costing you? Think of the savings if you won't think of the poor much-abused language.

Also, someone please hand that author a thesaurus, there are other words than 'everlasting/eternal love' and 'disturb' and 'irritate'. It disturbs me that anyone could allow disturbing and disturbance in the same sentence*.

And what made me stop reading in a huff last night, "the seed I had planted in Kitan's mind [...] had beared fruit". Blue-pencils! Borne! Borne! Borne! Benny & Bjorn!

I have a vision of a pair of grizzly bears with blue-pencilled baskets of berries. With gingham frou-frous.

As for the heroine of the novel, well, you know Twilight's Bella? Well, this un is possibly more passive, inert and subservient to men(male vampires). I am hoping against hope that she redeems herself in my eyes and does something other than be dominated and raped (although the r word never crosses her mind, nor apparently the author's).

I am tempted to take this book back to the library, or possibly drive a crucifix through its very pages, but I feel obliged to find out whether she does actually do anything or whether it all just continues to happen to her.

I shall let you know.


edited to add (19/10):

She did do something! Spoilers (highlight to read):

She set him on fire and escaped! Yay.

But she felt guilty about the harm she did to him in order to escape. Booo. Poor widdle psychopath.

Maybe she was suffering Stockholm Syndrome.



* You see what I did there, huh?

Friday, October 08, 2010

Shouldn't laugh really

Message Board poster:
"I make no apologies for using this thread to remind people to get themselves checked out for this disease [...] Sorry for the hi-jack."

Making Darth Maul

I've been spending the last couple of days going hairless, trying to make two costumes for heroes/villains dress-up day for Book Week.

Son chose Darth Maul.

The good news is, this was totally simple to do. The basic costume is a black tunic and trousers. I decided to cheat on this bit and use ready-made clothes, and just make the accessories and cloak. It's not easy to find plain black trousers or tops in children's sizes, nor to get the right sort of style, but I checked through his wardrobe first! In the end, I bought a cheap karate suit from a martial arts place. It cost £12.99, which is still cheaper than most children's fancy dress costumes off the rack. It had an embroidery badge on it, but I just snipped that off, no problem.

Darth Maul has leather gauntlets, a wide leather belt and long leather boots. I bought some black leather-look fabric, which is excellent stuff. Instead of big gloves, I decided leather armbands would give the look without the awkwardness of trying to find/make gloves in his size for something he'd take off after about two minutes. He had some black woollen gloves he could wear with it as well if he wanted.

Making the armbands was very easy - just measure around the arm at the wrist and forearm where you want the band to finish, and measure the length between those points to get your sizing. Make sure you do this while he's wearing the tunic, so the sleeve will fit under. Then it is just snip-snip, cut out rectangles for each arm. To fasten them, I used stick-on velcro. It's good stuff, sticks to the shiny side of the leatherette firmly, while the fabric side might need a couple of stitches to keep it totally secure.



The belt is exactly the same process as the armbands, only round the tummy, haha.



With the legs, well, obviously I'm not going out to buy long boots for the boy, so again the leatherette comes into play, with his black shoes. Again, measure round the leg at the ankle and at the calf where you want the 'boot' to end, then measure between these points. When you measure, make sure the child is wearing the trousers, so the 'boot' will fit over them. Then when cutting your rectangle for the height of the 'boot', make it an inch or two longer. Apply the velcro and once you have your cylinder, with the shoe to help you gauge it, snip a curved triangle from the front and back, so it will sit atop the shoe in a similar way to stirrup pants. I did consider adding some black elastic to go round the bottom of the shoe, but it actually worked very well without it, so I didn't bother.





The hooded cloak was a bit more of a challenge as this involved actual sewing. The hood consists of two long triangles sewn together all the way along on one side (call it the 'A' side), and part way on the other long side (call it the 'B' side). You could cheat and use hemming tape for this. Turn the right way out and you should have a hood.



The cloak itself is effectively a square of cloth. To get the right size, drape the cloth over the child's shoulders or use their dressing gown as a guide. Hem the edges. Decide which side will be the top edge, and find the middle. Pin the hood at that point, starting where the B seams meet, and pin the spread-open ends of the hood along the top edge, making sure the material's straight. Then check it works, before sewing on carefully. At this point, you need the child to try it on again, so you can work out where you need to put a fastener. You can use the velcro again - or go wild with poppers or buttons - or just use a badge or brooch.

Then it's just face-paint! Yay.

You could probably make Darth Vader using the same basic costume and a mask.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Musical motoring

Subject: The Renault Clio advert that features a beardie chap who is singing along to Chesney Hawkes' "I am the one and only". He then meets the father of his girlfriend, who turns out to be the disapproving driver that saw him pratting around at the traffic lights.

The tag-line is "Life is too short to be boring".

Oh get on! If singing along to Chesney blue-pencilled Hawkes isn't boring, I don't know what is! There's nothing inherently boring about singing along to music, but it's scarcely living on the edge.


But this version where he's doing claw-hands and mad faces to the Cranberries' "Zombie", well, that's funnier. And you could see why that would be embarrassing. The Chesney Hawkes one is so mild, it doesn't work for me.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Schmancellor's child benefit cuts

Listening to George Osborne chunder on about how taking Child Benefit away from the 40+% tax bracket is about all sections of the community mucking in and taking the burden makes me sick. Millionaire baby baronet.

Bleurgh.

On the surface it looks not an unreasonable policy, but it's totally cock-eyed. They can't be bothered to properly means-test it, so dual income families who are both under the threshold will still be able to claim, yet if one person is earning just above it (but could be the sole earner), they won't be able to claim it. This means stay-at-home mums, that the Tories supposedly love, could lose it if the husband earns approx. £44 000 - while a pair of working parents can theoretically earn up to £80 000 and still get it! It's loopy.

It looks like another policy that disproportionately affects women & children. It was protected money intended for children. What if it's the only money the woman has free access to? We aren't gone from the bad old days of housekeeping money, for some families.

And is the home responsibilities protection (on National Insurance) going to be affected by this move? Currently stay-at-home parents get some of their stamp paid for home responsibilities, and that protects their future. Is that going too for those people affected?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Conversation with a small person

Daughter: "Why are you wearing that?"

Me: "Why am I wearing what?"

Daughter: "Why are you wearing that? Where's your coat?"

Me: "Huh? It is a coat." (Genuinely bewildered).

Daughter: "Why aren't you wearing a coat, why are you wearing that?" (Getting impatient with me: I'm clearly not getting it. How can I be so stupid?)

Me: "It is a coat! It's my winter coat."

Daughter: "Oh ... I thought it was a costume."


My sweeping black winter coat... I'm not so keen on it as I was.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Your opinions are important to us

I fill in a lot of surveys online. It's a minescule money-maker.

Some of these things are so obviously slanted to a particular response or mindset tho, that they make me grumpy. I wonder if it's just poor wording and badly framed questions, or deliberate bias. I answer contrarily, avoiding the direction I feel they're trying to push me.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

KFspleen

There's a tv advert for KFC that says for "more time with your little ones" as part of its sales pitch. What a load of hideous bollockry.

As I live rurally, getting a bucket (eurgh, I mean, really, are we farm animals?) would actually deprive me of time with my children, apart from that lovely quality time of them rowing in the backseats of the car, I suppose.

Of course, it's not aimed at me, but at KFC-local parents. Who presumably aren't supposed to realise that cooking a meal at home can be part of family life = time with the children.

I know I'm coming from a point of privilege here. I have a kitchen big enough to have the children in while I cook, and they can help me - or they can do their homework at the kitchen table, mmm, yum, semi-steamed spellings! I am also time-rich, if money-poor.

It's not even that I'm against the odd take-away or ready-meal. I'd love it if we could get pizza delivered here. As one of the main characters in Long Dark Teatime of the Soul yearns, there's nothing better than pizza hot from a box.

But for "more time with your little ones"? I don't like it. I think it speaks directly to the guilt complexes of working parents and the marketing industry's mythologising of cookery (where good food is hard to make and laborious, and takes you away from your family life. Sure, not everyone likes cooking, but it doesn't have to be difficult and it needn't be a hideous chore where you're locked away from your family).

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Turning Angel

This book by Greg Iles was part of my self-imposed A-Z challenge, which is the sole reason I completed it. It wasn't hard work to read, but it was very flawed, I felt.

Firstly the deaths just kept getting piled on, like Iles came to the end of a chapter and thought how can I pad this out a bit more? Let's kill some more off!

The protagonist, Penn Cage, wasn't very likeable - he was supposed to be, I think, but he seemed such a hypocrite I couldn't believe in his moral compass. The reader was supposed to believe his motives were pure (for wanting to become mayor to save the town) while we're told the ambitions of Shad are all about money and power. There was a lot of telling not showing in this book, which is always a no-no for me.

There were some difficult racial undercurrents to the story which made me feel uncomfortable: it seemed quite negative about black people despite 'our hero' supposedly being an ex-civil rights lawyer.

Spoilers:

The theme of "young people not being like we were in the good old days" ran throughout while young women being "evolutionary nirvana" etc left a bad taste. The (platonic) relationship between teenaged babysitter Mia and the 40-odd Penn was paralleled with the highly sexualised relationship between his lifelong friend Drew and Kate. Although lip-service was paid to the ickiness and illicit nature of the latter alliance (Kate being Drew's patient as well as babysitter), there was a lot of justification and empathising going on. As a murder victim, she was slut-shamed endlessly & mercilessly.

The scorned wife who attacks Kate and thinks she killed her - well, her noble (cheating, lying) husband, Drew, is willing to protect her by going to jail in her stead - but we have to remember, it was all her fault from the start for being a drug-addict. Not his for going over the side with a patient and also sending that patient into danger by having her buy drugs for his wife to protect his career.

Also, you think the wife's actually innocent as the real killer is established but - it turns out the injury she did cause the victim would have killed her (if someone else hadn't come along and raped & killed her for sure afterwards) so there! So she's still a murdering biatch.

While the middle class white men were just doing man-things that they could only be expected to do, while the real guilty parties seemed to be women/people of colour/immigrants.

It was all a bit Daily M@!l, if you ask me. Which is not how I like my novels.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Pink things

PC World are on my faeces-list this evening.

Their new tv advert has high-end lap-top and nice chap in character of a student explaining his need for serious techy power for his studies... Oh - and if his girlfriend wants to go on the net, there's this little net-book.

There there, pat you on the head, it's pink! And you don't need all that nasty-schmasty technical information about it - it's pink! Ooooooooh. Shiny. Pink. Shiny. Pink. Shiny. Pink! Shiny!*

Cos that's all we need, us women, pinkness. What the thing can actually do is irrelevant.


* I'm selling it to myself here, haha.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Dickly situation

I was having a semi-bored wander about the blogosphere when I came across a blogger who'd recently attended church with their atheist group. I'm not quite sure what their reasons for attending were, as I haven't read much of the blog, where perhaps it was explained. It wasn't family commitments or anything like that: it seemed to be an exercise they undertook.

By her account they were treated hospitably and on the whole the experience was pleasant. When the collection plate was passed around, they weren't expected to contribute, but a couple of them did as they'd come with pre-prepared envelopes, which contained atheist quotations.

I was just a bit head-in-hands about that.

I could see shoving a pamphlett of quotes into a doorstepping evangelist's hand as fair exchange for theirs. But going to a church and sneaking quotes into the collection plate seems a bit ... I dunno, I'm struggling to put it into words. Cowardly? Ungracious? Pointless? I mean, who's going to find it? The vicar or ushery types who are just going to dump it in the bin and think 'what a wanker' at best.

And it's not even funny.

I mean, putting some Monopoly money in, that'd be funny*.

There's been a lot of talk in the sceptical/atheistic blogosphere about "[not] being a dick" (Phil Plait @ Bad Astronomy being at the eye of the storm). I think a lot of good points have been made: it's good to be passionate and assertive about your position, but throwing insults around isn't all that productive. It does open you to the concern trolls who claim that it's impossible to listen to your arguments when you're so aggressive/sweary/whatever (I had one of them recently on my homeopathy post) and if only you'd change your tone they'd address your points.

Of course, it's true that tone can turn people off. It can also be an excuse not to engage. A bit of both, mayhap.

And sometimes it's impossible to discuss a subject without causing offence, however carefully you word your opposing position, because it's so close to a person's heart/identity.

I can read PZ or Dawkins etc and think nothing of the language they use (at the time), while a theist might be horribly offended. I can be pissed off by MacDowell and the like, whereas the theist mightn't pick up on how derogatory they can be. It's to do with confirmation biases, I think: dead easy to go along with/downplay the stuff you have some sympathy with, while reacting badly to perceived slight against your position. Like I can understand Dawkins/Myers etc being rather irascible when presented with something like "how come there are still monkeys" or its ilk, as if it's something new they'll have never heard before. Decades of study & research and someone with no knowledge of their field thinks they can bust them with something lifted from Answers in Genesis. I daresay theologists think the same about atheists throwing out bits of the Bible at them (although theology seems to me gussied-up literary criticism**).

So where does that leave us? I do think that too much treading on egg-shells makes it impossible to discuss or scrutinise religion. And it is necessary to scrutinise religion cos the institutions that arise from it often flex their muscles politically and socially, trying to affect larger populations than just their congregations. And frankly some of the congregations need protecting from the excesses of their institutions.

But there's no need to abuse your average, passing theist. Or go into their places of worship and be a bit of an arse... I'm not sure whether putting atheist quotes into a collection plate is dickish or just sad.


* From a certain perspective. Admittedly not all perspectives.
No less dickish, but funnier.
** That's probably offensive right there.

In your face, Mr Blair

Ahh, nothing cheers me up so much as people egging ex-Prime Ministers.

Well, actually hitting him* would be even better, of course. But well done on the attempt, anti-war protesters!



* With an egg, not punching him. I'm not advocating or condoning violence. Perhaps wet-sponging would suit health & safety protocols better, but an egging isn't eggsactly asalt and battery-hen**.

** Although it probably is, legally. Which would just go to show the law can be a right old spoilsport.

Monday, August 30, 2010

'Lo

Hello, it's been a while. Sorry 'bout that.

I've been on my holidays and faffing about and not thinking of much to say.

I've been reading quite a bit. One thing I read was Twilight - argh, I hear you cry, for blue-pencil's sake why?!

Cos I've heard a lot about them and am of the opinion you have to read a thing to fully despise it. With apologies to those who love the saga in an ironic kitsch way, and even those who love the saga in a unquestioningly adoring Bella-esque way. It's a matter of taste, no?

I didn't actually hate the writing (it wasn't literature, but c'mon it's teen fiction. That's not to say teen fiction can't be beautifully written, of course, but there's no reason teens can't have the light and pappy too) and it kicked along ok. After that I have little good to say about it, and frankly nothing I say won't already have been said by others, as I am well behind trend. But I must unload...


SPOILERS follow, for any who haven't read it or seen the movie.

I really didn't like the nods to gender equality in the cipher that was Bella, where she was gifted in science and such. It felt a zillion times phony when pitched against such an unbalanced relationship. Could Edward ever speak to her without frustration? Eurgh.

The clumsiness, dear zog, the clumsiness. She wouldn't dream of going to a school dance cos of the clumsiness. Her parents could believe she'd fall two flights of stairs and through a window or something rather than she was attacked cos of the clumsiness. No-one is that clumsy without being on something or having health issues. It's pretty worrying that the cover-story of the fall was supposed to convince a policeman father, even if the mother was daft as a brush as depicted.

And the parts where Bella had to think of ways to make it easier for Edward so he wouldn't lose control and eat her - well, this reminded me of nothing so much as The Modesty Survey (as discussed by Pharyngula a few weeks back). Where pretty much anything a girl wears, some guy finds a "stumbling block" to his own purity or whatever. You're so pretty I can't help myself = you smell so yummy you'll make me bite you. Blue-pencils! Get a grip. That's into rape apologism/victim-blaming territory. Eurgh.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

No Spilt milk

It amuses me in a cold way that Cameron is rejecting proposals to cut free milk for children, so far.

No milk-snatcher title for him. Just a lot of others I can think of.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Making the White Rabbit

To make Alice in Wonderland's White Rabbit, I bought a couple of metres of white fun fur. The only problem with the fabric was that my cheapo sewing machine wasn't up to the job, so I did the main part of the costume, ie. everything but the waist-coat, by hand. I used a shop-bought whole-body Halloween costume (of a skeleton) that we already had to help me as a template and for a guide with sizing.

I cut two shapes for the body & leg part of the costume. I hemmed the bottom of the legs. Then I sewed the two pieces together at the shoulders, but having learned from the shepherd I left head, foot and arm-holes (yay me!) and then sewed the rest of the way around.


Next I made the sleeves of the suit, cutting out rectangles, sewing them into tubes and attaching them to the main costume.




I then cut a slit in the back at the top, and hemmed around the neck-hole and down the side of my slit.


Then I attached velcro flaps to make a fastening.


I had toyed with the idea of using a woolly pom-pom for the tail, but settled on stuffing a tail made of two circles of the fun fur, and stitching that to the appropriate place. This was a bit fiddly and I needed a long strong needle, and preferably a thimble.


The head-piece was fairly complex to do.

First I cut out these shapes, having checked the size so I thought it would fit son. I sewed the two A pieces together along one side, marked in yellow in the diagram below. Then sewed on the B piece along the top edge, as marked in blue. The red area indicates where to leave a gap for attaching the ears. I hemmed along the black edges.

To make the ears, I sewed two sets of the C pieces together, leaving the short straight side open, forming two tubes. To try to create standing-up ears, I made a frame out of some of the children's craft stuff and inserted them into the fun fur tubes.


Then I sewed the bottoms of the ears to prevent the frames escaping, slotted the ears through the head-piece and sewed them into place.


It sat quite well on son's head, so I decided not to add elastic to go under his chin to keep it on. I think actually I should have added this, cos then he could have run without losing his head. The ears didn't actually stay upright, unfortunately, so he ended up a lop-ear.


The waist-coat was simple enough. Pretty much a rectangle for the back and two front panels out of a stiffish shiny blue material.

The pocket watch was a cardboard circle covered in gold-foil, with a paper clock-face, on a cheap chain we had hanging around. I just attached it to the waistcoat with a safety pin.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mistakes were made

You know when you know better, but you go ahead with something because you think it'll be OK just this once or it's just a tad easier/more convenient than the right way of going about it? Well, I did something like that recently and I've been kicking myself ever since.

One of the guinea pigs died and I thought it would be nice to replace it.

What I should have done, is to contact the veterinary nurse who'd sexed the guinea pig babies a couple of years ago and see if he could've put me in touch with his nan who rescues guinea pigs, or to have gone to the local rescue centre to see if they had any. What I did do, was take the children to a well-known pet store.

We ended up choosing two, since the children couldn't agree on which one they liked better, and it's the more the merrier with guinea pigs really.

A day or two after we got them home that I realised there was something not quite right about them, and I felt a vet visit would be in order. As it was the weekend, I decided to wait and see. During that weekend a well-known pet store rang with their courtesy call to make sure all was OK, which it wasn't, so they advised me to take the guineas into their store if I still wasn't happy with their progress. This I duly did, the cashier blurted "oh it looks like the same thing the others had" and they offered to take them away and have them treated or to pay any vet bills if I chose to hang onto them. Obviously the children would have been distressed to lose them, even temporarily, so to the vet's it was.

They were true to their word and stumped up the cash for the guineas' treatment and tests that were done on them. At the same time, they had been having their stock treated & tested. Their results came back sooner than ours, and they allowed the vet to let us know, as it was actually quite a serious problem (ringworm) that is highly infectious and communicable to humans, and bearing in mind we have other animals and children, it was important to avoid it spreading. It was fortunate that we'd kept them separate from our others from the start anyway.

So it's been plastic gloves, extensive washing and no handling at all by the kids while the guineas are treated. It looks like we're on the home straight now, thank goodness, and I'm hoping they will be able to start actually being pets and that I can abandon this role of reluctant veterinary nurse in the next couple of days.

I've done a lot of hanging about the vet's for one reason and another in the last few weeks, and at times a well-known pet store employees were there at the same time and I gleaned a few things about them. While I daresay their systems are as ethical as they can be, the nature of their business must be one that tempts their suppliers into poor practice. I mean, to have a convenient and ready supply of young animals, it's bound to encourage shades of 'puppy farming'.

What pisses me off about this experience, other than the culpability of a well-known pet store in selling us sick animals*, is that I should and did know better than to have bought animals there. Animals shouldn't be commodities and bought in batches.



* But should point out, they were probably caught out themselves and paid vet fees so have behaved decently, really.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Literary me

I tried that 'I write like' internet site that is currently all over the blogosphere.

First time, I came out as William Shakespeare. Haha. 2nd time, Kurt Vonnegut. 3rd time, Harry Harrison. Then David Foster Wallace, Cory Doctorow and James Joyce. All from different posts. I'm nothing if not thorough.

It just goes to show that frivolous internet tools are frivolous internet tools.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Christian Murder of Identity?

Murder of Identity was my first encounter with detective Ellie Quicke. She comes from the tradition of 'cosy English murder mysteries', although set in more recent times. I'm never sure about the word 'cosy' in this context, I mean it's a bit of a patronising and fluffy word, somehow. Not to mention, it seems a contradiction in terms: murder=cosy?! But then again, detective fiction is about puzzles and resolutions, and that is comforting: there's always an answer (unless we're subverting the genre).

Ellie's teetering on the verge of being too good to be true, but not quite over the edge: she's quite likeable and credible, with mild resentments and many pressures & worries. She's a middle-aged Christian, active in the community who does a lot for others and is rather taken for granted.

I found her Christianity interesting and unexpected. Interesting, because an aspiring author-friend has expressed concern that her fiction wouldn't appeal to secular or Christian publishing houses because she feels it falls somewhere in between. Ellie Quicke's Christianity is just a facet of her character: but during the novel, she often prays, she attends church, she helps out at the church. It's not explored as a major part of the story, but it is an integral part of the character. I'm not sure how much that would help my friend, but it certainly suggests to me that the market for her work need not be crowbarred into explicitly Christian publishing houses.

One thing I wasn't so keen on was the forays into the murderer's mind, which seemed contrary to the 'cosy murder mystery' feel of the book and a bit Ruth Rendell (is that who I'm thinking of?). I didn't feel they worked. Aside from that, it was an enjoyable read, nothing extraordinary but well enough. Did what it said on the tin, as it were.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Doom!

And this made me laugh today (from Passive Aggressive Notes).

A pillow made by a child at a Bible Camp(?), where printed on it is "God's Word is Comforting" and the child's contribution is "DOOM"!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

This made me laugh today

"Cinderella lied to us. There should be a Betty Ford center where they deprogram you by putting you in an electric chair. Play "Some Day My Prince Will Come" and hit you and go "Nobody's coming... Nobody's coming... Nobody's coming..." - Judy Carter

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Squirrel costume

I've been making a squirrel costume. It's too hot for a full costume plus the school wanted to keep it simple, so I went for ears and tail as the main elements. Which actually isn't all that simple - a squirrel has a massive tail.

I chose to go with a grey squirrel, since it was impossible to find reddish brown fun-fur on short notice* and son doesn't have much in the way of brown/reddish-brown clothing. I had a quick attempt at a tail using some brown fun-fur I'd left over from Toto, but it didn't really work - it really needed to be a squirrelly colour.

I was lucky enough to come across a large grey furry cushion cover on sale, so I grabbed that one. It was then a simple matter of unpicking the zip and the sides of the cover, to give me a rectangle of fabric. This I sewed together into a long, wide tube.

With chicken wire I created a pliable frame to give the tail shape, folding in ends and covering them with duct tape to prevent any ends spiking through.


The above is before it was bent into a more curved tail shape. The fabric tube went over it like a sleeve, and was draped into folds to give bushiness.


I used a short-sleeved hooded top in grey, and tacked a white fun-fur tummy over the design the top already had on it.


I'm hoping the top will still be wearable after squirreldom, so everything is tacked on rather than permanently affixed. But it might be a bit holey! I stitched the tail onto the back in several places, at the top, part way down and at the bottom. I went right through the the chicken wire frame at times so that it was held in place as well.

A couple of folded triangles made the basic ear shape, and I glued a smaller triangle of white fun-fur in the inside.


A few stitches to keep the shape, and then I tacked the ears firmly onto the hood. And that was it pretty much done.



I do apologise if the blacked-out face is freaky, but I don't feel comfortable putting too-identifiable pictures of the children up. The ears do both stand up, he'd got one caught against the wall. Perhaps the ears could have done with being a bit smaller and I'd have preferred a smaller tummy panel (but the design underneath, printed on the top, was huge. I don't know why plain t-shirts are so hard to find, it's ridiculous).

All in all I was pleased with the end result. It was quite a fun project and didn't require any great technical skill.



* It's always short notice with me. I'm a last-minute kind of gal.

Monday, July 05, 2010

Tree-huggers


I can't decide whether this is scary (think Dr Who's statues).

Or tacky inflatable-doll-esque.

One thing I do know, it's not cute. I don't want that thing hugging my trees!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Miley Cyrus and Michael Jackson

Miley Cyrus, of all people, annoyed me this morning. (I barely know who she is, but her alleged fame entitles her to spout drivel down my radio in the mornings, apparently). She complained that no-one ever told Michael Jackson how great he was when he was alive, and we should make sure to tell our idols how much we love them while we can. Or some such. (It's a year since he died or was killed or faked his own alien abduction). "It's just crazy again with the media and all that. Nobody ever wrote an article just to say, 'Hey, Michael, we really appreciate what you do!' I wish I would have had the opportunity [to tell him how I felt about him when he was alive]."... "Not enough people told him [how great he was] and I think it's sad that you have to wait till it's too late... But I think he knows." Well, allow me to retort: nonsense and thrice nonsense.

Hahahhaaha at nobody ever telling MJ how good they thought he was. How many records did he sell, how much press did he get, how many awards did he get? Didn't he embarrass himself by accepting an 'Artist of the Millenium' award (that didn't exist) at some MTV award show?

Half MJ's problem was the adulation he received in his life and the uncritical yes-people he surrounded himself with or bought. Sure, there were people shooting him down but that man was protected by his money, his management and entourage.

Despite rumours and a prosecution or two, parents still allowed their children into private situations with a suspected paedophile. Whether it was that they believed he was innocent as a person, that they were star-struck, that they cynically sold their children's flesh to him or put their children there in order to falsely accuse later, I don't know.

Having a talent doesn't mean that everything you do is art, haha. Being good at one thing doesn't mean you're a good person or put you beyond criticism.

So shut up Miley.

It's the Polanski syndrome: where actors etc rush to defend the poor fellow, despite him fleeing justice at the time, because they 'know' him (as if abusers have, I dunno, beady eyes) or because his art is so pure or whatever.

I'll never understand fan-culture. There are people I admire, don't get me wrong, but this putting people on a pedestal? I don't get it.

They're just people, and most people are idiots (or worse) from time to time. I like Stephen Fry, but when he shrugs off MP's expenses as something we all do, I think he's a bit of a tit. Doesn't mean I stop liking QI or A Bit Of Fry and Laurie, or Jeeves & Wooster, or all the other things of his I've liked.

But when some actors or comedians or what have you come out or get married, there's often a backlash amongst fans, and I don't understand that.

Seriously, people, did you think if Brad wasn't married to Angelina or if Will Young was straight you'd be with him? What difference does it make to you, really? I can't figure it out.

I can understand with figures like Gary Glitter - what he's done is so heinous, that if I had any of his music I'd probably throw it out or burn it. But there must be something else going on when it comes to fans getting angry about actors getting married or whatever. Something I don't get.

To go into the list of stuff I don't get.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Horrible Her-story

I really love the Horrible Histories programme on CBBC: it's good fun, a little bit "naughty" for the children with its toilet humour while simultaneously making history interesting. We went to the Horrible Science live show a few weeks back, and it was great.

But one criticism I have is the routine use of 'girl' as an insult: "The Vikings were actually big girls". #Head-desk#

Half the programme's audience is female. If you don't think we still live in a patriarchal society with casual sexism/misogyny built in, ask yourself how come being a 'big girl' can be used as an insult. You cannot use 'you're a big booooy' as an insult, try as you might. #Head-desk#

And it would be so easy to avoid - there are so many non-gendered terms they could use instead. What about 'wimp' or 'wuss'? Neither are going to get parents in an uproar, surely?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nuns in popular culture*

It's kind of weird that the Vatican endorses the Blues Brothers movie. I mean, it's 30 years old, so it's taken them a while. Although I suppose that's nothing on how long it took them to officially 'regret' what they did to Galileo (350 years). It's positively speedy, rather.

But having watched it last night, you've gotta wonder. Elwood and Jake consider themselves on a mission from god to help out these nuns, but it's all a bit 'ends justify the means'.

Small boy was up last night as we caught some of the film, due to a nightmare, and when he saw the nun he said "Gorgon!"

Which was hilarious.

I'm afraid the Sarah Jane Adventures have overlaid the nunnishness of nuns for him. While I just come over all Father Jack Hackett.


* A title that promises far more than it delivers, as this is not a deep and thoughtful post.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Conversation with a small boy

Me: Oh no, your shirt's a bit dirty - but [thinking: argh, run out of others, no time to clean it] it's not too bad.

Small boy: It's ok - some people at school haven't got as good eyesight as us.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Saw-argh-lha and homeop-argh-y

Nadia Sawalha was on the Wright Stuff this morning, bigging up homeopathy.

As evidence that it is "complementary medicine" and that a practitioner would never risk someone's life, she said that one night when her child was very sick with a chest infection, she rang her homeopath at 2am ("can't do that with your doctor!*" smugly) who told her to take her into A&E. Yay, good old homeopath saves the day, tells stupid client what she should have been able to figure out for herself.

To Nadia herself I say: You blue-pencilled moron. If you're that dependent on your homeopath that you need to be told by her/him to take a child with a major chest infection to the hospital, there is something wrong. Not with hospitals. With you.

I'm not unsympathetic to people needing a little push to get to A&E - sometimes you wonder if you're being a worry-wart parent, a fussing hypochondriac or if it could wait 'til morning. Sometimes you think "I can walk this off", as your leg hangs off by a string, haha. And you just need someone to say, "No, you're right to be worried, get something done about it".

But it completely undermines the point about complementary, if your first port of call is the homeopath. That makes it alternative or the preferred option, and conventional medicine your last resort, and that's just #sigh, for reduction in swearing# er, disapproved of by me. When it comes to children. By all means get some special water for your own illnesses. You blue-pencilled moron.


* Yes you can. You can call out doctors and they will come out (or tell you to go to A&E). You can call NHS Direct (who would tell you to go to A&E), you can call a blue-pencilled
ambulance, you can just blue-pencilled go to A&E and drop-in clinics.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Life's too effing short

I can't remember if I've ever read a self-help book before. I've flicked through a few at the library and hmmphed a bit at them, especially things like Women are from Venus type crapola. But I'm determined to branch out a bit in my reading, to try things I've never tried before. But this one, Life's too F---ing Short, was a bit of a compromise: it is written by Janet Street-Porter (whose autobiography I read recently), so a familiar voice mixed with the unfamiliar.

In this book, as to be expected, Janet Street-Porter tells it like it is. You feel she's having a good time sharing. It's about how she deals with things and she can't see any reason why you can't do the same.

If you were looking for a psychological treatise, emo-indulgence or sympathy - you'd be daft, this is Janet Street-Porter!
If you were looking for a swift kick up the backside, however, you'd be in the right place.

She's got a lot of interesting opinions and my granny would say she's got grit*. Some people would say that a woman with four marriages and several relationships behind her has a nerve giving relationship advice (in one chapter) but she sees her serial monogamy as success, and I liked that. She makes no apologies and doesn't appear to waste energy on recriminations or self-loathing. And in truth, what is the point of looking back and wishing you could change things and being down on yourself**? It is far better to view the past and who you are positively.

She kicks bottom.

I kind of feel it's a book she knocked out in her lunch-time, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's all you self-helpers deserve***! Haha. It's not a book that is going to change your life, but it might help you get your head on straight. I did find the changing font size and colours a bit irritating after a while, but over all I enjoyed the book a great deal.


* Although she would've disapproved of JSP, probably.
** Of course there is room for self-improvement and self-analysis (possibly not for JSP, but for most of us!), but it's getting the balance right.
*** Pretending to be a Janet Street-Porter.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A small victory

I noticed that the Cow & Gate advert now has an extra piece of small print that says that "cows' milk is not a good source of iron". I haven't heard from the Advertising Standards Agency since a letter in the winter, but presume their scrutiny has resulted in this change.

So yay! Bit better.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Bleat again

I'd never really listened to the lyrics of JLS's 'Beat Again' until yesterday when it came on the car radio twice - once on my usual station and then again on a station we switched to as we left Pirate behind.

And now I'm annoyed. It's all whining about how the girlfriend(?) dumped the guy and now he thinks he's dying. So he thinks they should never have broken up. Well, tough luck, it was her decision to leave and the 'would you cry at my funeral' stuff is emotional blackmail and controlling. What precisely is she supposed to get out of getting back together? Presumably it wasn't working from her perspective, and basically threatening suicide, yeah right, that'll make her hot for you. He doesn't attempt to make himself more attractive, promise to be a better partner, or try to work on whatever it was in the relationship that went wrong. Oh no. He just wants to manipulate and draw her back into an unhealthy situation through guilt.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Conversation with a small boy

The cat is sitting above the guinea pigs, looking thoughtful.

Me (putting cover over): Oh we don't want the cat to get the guineas, do we?

Small boy: No, we don't. We want them to survive until they die.

Friday, May 28, 2010

I'm Spartacus, and so's my wife.

"Keep me close to your thighs, the thought will warm us both." (clip from new series Spartacus. He is tying a favour around his woman's thigh as he says this)

Hahahahhahahhahahhahahhahhha.

And bleurgh.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Cracked

We're having a smashing time of late.

One water-pistol dropped and cracked, thrown away.
One water-gun dropped and cracked, leaks but still usable.
One child's bicycle seat, ridden by too-big child who should have known better, broken, needs replacement.
One broom, stood on, needs new handle.
One inflatable dinghy, seam gave way, unable to be repaired.
One child's digital camera, stopped working for unknown reason.
One zip to plastic greenhouse, broken.
One zip to child's rucksack, broken.
One zip to child's lunchbox, broken.
Entrance area of trampoline, due to age/wear & tear, ripped.
One seat of swing, due to age/wear & tear, cracked.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Wakefield struck off


So Andrew Wakefield's been struck off. He was the chap who initiated the media furore over the MMR and a link with autism, with an incredibly small study shown to be flawed (and sickeningly unethically achieved, subjecting small children to a raft of tests they should never have endured).

This is a good visual summary of the episode and of course Bad Science's coverage.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Ghastly FaceBook memes, cubed

"The police are going around pubs and clubs sayin wecant wear our England tops for the footie and gotta take flags down asit's
upsettin the people that dont come from here. Now im not racist but
this is taking the piss.This is our country and we needto make a stand and if you or they dont like it Fxxk off, Would they remove thier turban/burkha cos it upset us?.......exactly.REPOSTif ya agree x"

#Update: 27/05/10# There are reports that a fake cop has been telling people they can't wear their England tops in Worksop.

Back to the original post:

Bleurgh, vomit, bleurgh, vomit, bleurgh again.

If you have to say "I'm not racist but" at the beginning of a sentence, it's a pretty good indicator you're about to say something racist. Which, you know, is a pretty good indicator in its turn that you're a big fat racist.

I heard on local radio (Pirate FM), a Cornish spokesman of some sort complaining about all the England flags, being upsetting to Cornish people. (We have a small movement who want devolution here).

I've seen people worry that the flag has been co-opted by the BNP and therefore says something unpleasant about those displaying it.

And there are stories in the Daily M@!l about the police suggesting it's undiplomatic to cover your car in England flags or wear England regalia in Wales.

But funnily enough nothing, zero, nada about Muslims or Sikhs complaining, (and I'm absolutely sure the M@!l would love to publish such a story in screaming detail).

I don't know when burkhas and turbans became Welsh national dress. It's been a bit of a surprise to me, that. [/sarcasm]

#Head-desk#


Edited to add: Apparently, one of the hydra head's of this story arose about the town of Boston, but Lincolnshire police say it's a load of old toss anyway. It never had anything whatsoever to do with Muslims or Sikhs.

You who love your England shirts and flags and jumped to the conclusion that a. this status message meme is true and b. it's all about minorities trying to stop you having fun, should catch yourselves on.

The only reason pubs ever ban sportswear and caps, is because of the stupid dickwads who get lairy and violent if their team is losing, (or winning for that matter). I've been a landlady and we had a sportswear ban for that very reason.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Ghastly FaceBook memes, part the third

"While you SCREAM at your woman, there's a
man wishing he could whisper softly in her ear... While you HUMILIATE,
OFFEND and INSULT her, there's a man flirting with her and reminding
her how wonderful she is. While you HURT your woman, there's a man
wishing he could make love to her. While you make your women CRY
there's a man stealing smiles from her. Post this on your wall if
you're against Domestic Violence."

This one makes me feel queasy. What it's saying to women is: you can get over being abused by one man, by being validated by another. It's still feeding into the utter tripe of a woman gaining worth through her relationships with men. Surely that's part of the problem with domestic violence: that the woman's self-worth gets tied up in trying to make the relationship work at all costs.

And if it's addressed to men, does it say it's wrong to do all those things to women? No. It just posits misogynistic notions of women as passive, without agency and in need of a white knight, like objects to be owned and 'protected' from 'theft' by other men.

Most of the men I've come across who have been perpetrators of domestic violence have had as part of their behaviour, irrational sexual jealousy. So actual perpetrators may even have their unjustified beliefs validated by this crap.

I hate these things. Any decent person is against domestic violence, but this meme is not only cheap on the issue but also plays into some pretty messed-up thinking.

Canyoneroooo



Lot of people seem to have 'Canyoneros' round here. I blame them (or possibly the woman I don't like much who could've been in the area at the time) for my broken wing-mirror, in the absence of a note on the windscreen.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Heal the word

Oh, just been reading a post on a message board, advising people to make up any rifts they have within their families; their relatives had a falling-out and one of them died before it was resolved.

Yeah, well, it's all very well, and it is a good theory, but sometimes things are unfixable. If it's a trivial argument, it's obvious you should try to resolve it and not let something petty stand between you.

But if it's deep-seated, sometimes there is no resolution and it's trite & annoying to say make an effort, swallow your pride. Sometimes you've already swallowed your pride so much, you've none left.

Some things require both sides to co-operate. You can paint over the cracks if you're both willing to pretend they're not there. Sometimes the other person won't go even that far. Sometimes the other person is willing and it works for a while, but you're always waiting for the other shoe to drop and one day the drunken phonecalls and abusive texts start rolling in.

You can accept that the other person is never going to live up to your expectations, and if you choose to keep them in your life, try to keep the bits that hurt you in a separate box. But that's not perfect, either. But you can't change people, so all you can do is try to protect yourself best you can.

I dunno, that post just pressed my buttons this morning. Learn from this, the poster seemed to be saying. It's all just stubbornness and pride. The way it was titled made it an imperative: "heal family rifts before it's too late" or some such.

But it isn't that easy.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Deer oh deer

Yesterday I heard on local radio that the first reindeer for 800 years in this country have been born in the area, at Trevarno. They intend to call one 'Blue'.

Now that's just silly. It should be 'Purple'.

Or 'Sunny with a chance of'.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The highs and lows of parenting

"This doesn't smell that bad": Daughter, regarding the meal I'd just cooked for them.

But later on, after son had a fall and was crying in my arms, she squirted herself in the face with his water-pistol just to make him laugh.

ConDem-nednation?

OK, another thing depresses me. Arse.

We definitely need to change the electoral system.

Calls for a bit of Depeche Mode.

House goes there

There's nothing that depresses me more* than headlines that the 'housing market is picking up'. Bleurgh.

Property is theft. And that kind of thing...


"look, property is theft, right? Therefore theft is property. Therefore this ship is mine, OK?"


* Not true actually, teenaged rape victims stoned to death in Somalia, for example. Lots of other things depress me more...

It's always time for a bit



Of Fry and Laurie

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cat crap mountain

The theory is this, now the cat has taken to unburdening himself in the veg patch*, I will transfer his affections** to a nearby patch of turned-over soil*** beside the compost. This will kill two birds with one stone: his poo will be dealt with, and hopefully it will scare off potential compost-rummaging pests.

It's a nice, tidy, rounded theory and it simply requires catty co-operation...

We shall see. I shall cover the veg patch and hope he gets the hint. Why is he not like other cats, going next door to divest himself?


* It's alright, I haven't planted anything out yet, being slow.
** And the soiled soil.
*** the aforementioned Cat Crap Mountain

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Stiff

Stiff was quite a fun read. I really liked the other Mary Roach I'd read, Six Feet Over, so was very much looking forward to this book when I found it at a charity shop.

It's a fascinating if macabre look at what we do with corpses. The only criticism I have is that Roach's humour was a bit more hit-and-miss in this book and her shock threshold (or expectation of her readers' shock threshold) is a good bit lower than mine is. I imagine a lot of her readers' actually is higher than she assumes, given they'd presumably be aware of the subject matter when they chose to read the book. I don't know, some of her attitudes seemed quite parochial, and I couldn't decide whether that was her catering to her audience, as she thought, or her real attitude.

Still, it was good fun, grisly at times and there's lot more variety to a cadaver's after-life* than I'd previously been aware of.


* as it were.

Friday, May 07, 2010

24 hr election

I'd never have thought I'd happily spend nearly 24 hours watching election coverage, but I did.

It was fun watching Channel 4's alternate election night, although I have to ask that most important of questions - what was going on with Charlie Brooker's hair? Someone attacked him with a tub of brylcreem or something. But he must have fought them. I'd hate to see the other guy.

Jimmy Carr, whom I can usually watch stony-faced*, made me laugh several times. His description of expense scandal politicians as pigs fucking other pigs while stuffing their piggy faces with stolen pig-food, or some such, made me very happy.

During the day, me and himself watched the BBC coverage, and it was really good fun bitching about it together. We both found it really absorbing and exciting, trying to work out what's going to happen next.

I have to admit I didn't enjoy talking about it with my mum later on - it's the being on the same page that makes it enjoyable. I find it hard to make coherent arguments against my mother, we don't really do arguing. It's winding each other up jovially and skirting issues we excel at.


* Although I usually switch over rather than sitting stony-faced, unless he's demonstrating his zebra.


Ooh, 900th post! Good grief.