Thursday, January 28, 2010

MMR scare-monger and the GMC

See Bad Science's post.

Wakefield has been found to have been 'dishonest' and 'irresponsible' in his research on the MMR vaccine.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

70 years?!

What the ...?

In retrospect I should add, as links have a way of expiring, that this is the story about the sealing of records about David Kelly's death for an absurdly long time. If there's ever been fodder for conspiracy theories, this is it.

Saturday, January 23, 2010


A while back I was fighting off the black dog again, which as a description of depression doesn't work for me as well as it once did, bringing to mind Gary Oldman instead, but never mind.

Anyway, being pretty self-contained and reserved as a rule, I didn't really want to make a big deal out of it, so maybe I'm the author of my own discontent. I shouldn't be that surprised or disappointed that no-one ran around going whoo whoo and shaking their pom-poms for me, when I minimise this way.

Thing is, if the tables are turned, I try to make more of an effort to let people know I care, but it doesn't seem to be reciprocated. I do find it rather tiresome when it feels like I do all the running.

I mean, why bother using up emotional energy on people who don't even say from time to time, "But enough about me, how are you doing?"

Perhaps I'm being unfair. Perhaps I'm doing that thing of setting traps for people and being all pissy with them when they fall into them, which is self-defeating, and oo-er, passive-aggressive. The sensible thing to do when you're not getting reciprocity or the responses you'd like is to tell those it applies to, and hope they respond to it.

Harbouring mild* resentment and waiting to see them fail the invisible standards you've set them is probably the very definition of passive-aggressive. Having established that, you know, I daresay I should build a bridge and get over it.

On the other hand, perhaps I'm minimising again.

* Doesn't have to be mild, could be massive, depends where on the scale you are.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Cirrhosis of the brain

I am irritated, oh so irritated, by the government's alleged plan to ban drinking games in pubs. It's endless, endless chipping away at pubs (which are shutting down by the dozen) and doing nothing about the supermarkets. I'm not against getting rid of absurd drinks promotions, but it should affect supermarkets too, not just go for the pubs & clubs. A huge part of the "binge-drinking problem" is that people get rat-arsed before they even go out.

I used to do that when I was younger, and if I was a young adult now I probably wouldn't even consider going out without 'front-loading'. All this will achieve is more pubs closing and encouraging drinking in parks, streets and unsupervised places, and we'll drown our livers just the same.

Bloody nanny state... And I love the nanny state.

And another thing, the criticism of what parents put in lunch-boxes for school. All my children's schools have had a policy of no sweets/fizzy drinks/chocolate in packed lunches, and that's fine by me. I wouldn't want a classful of kids hopped up on sugar if I were their teacher either, aside from any health or dental concerns.

Is that not good enough? No no, crisps and white bread are on the guilt-list as well. I'll hold my hands up to a packet of crisps. My kids get a good breakfast: wholemeal* bread for their toast, porridge sometimes, the better cereals; they snack on fruit and veg; they have decent home-cooked meals for their tea.

F--- off with your crisps-in-lunchbox guilt!

Let's take every pleasure away and demonise more foods, we need to be saved from ourselves.

* Note the wholemeal!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Good for a young Vogon

Oh the mindboggling tedium. I've spent the evening (after watching Being Human on tv) clicking through my usual haunts on the internet, and being thoroughly disinterested in it all. I need a new site or to switch off my computer and do something more interesting instead. The latter is probably best.

I flicked through some tv channels and found Celebrity Big Brother, which is watching some person sleep up to their hairline in duvet. Who watches that? I mean the eviction shows and round-up shows I can sort of understand, but the live streaming I don't get at all.

The next book is definitely calling me.

Today I finished Baggage by Janet Street Porter, an account of her childhood and teens. The tone of the book very much fit with her personality (as seen on tv), her voice very clear. It was funny and at times abrasive and unsympathetic: she seems to pull few punches. I'd be interested to read more about her, find out whether she has softened at all in her attitude to her family (or anything) over the years. Sometimes it read a bit like a list of famous/talented people she has met, but I guess it's part of her life that would look like name-dropping however she wrote it, so barefacedly is as good a way as any.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sitting right with me

I tend to sit with my back to the arm of the sofa with my legs curled under me, leaning forward to the lap-top. Probably a terrible position.

Well, definitely a terrible position... I decided to go and make a coffee, but my legs had gone numb, my ankle gave way and I fell like a skittle sideways. Haha! A prat fell in a pratfall.

The cat gave me a withering look.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Poison Principle

I found this book, The Poison Principle by Gail Bell, a bit incoherent: the author jumped around with anecdotes and famous poisonings in history while unfortunately allowing the thread of interest held by the mysterious deaths of her two uncles (as children) to weaken.

It was only that I'd made it through 90% of the book that I thought I might as well finish it. This could have been a very interesting book, given the material, but it turned into a bit of a hotch-potch. I didn't find it particularly well-written or engaging.

It would fit into two of my categories if I'm doing the LT challenge: memoir and non-fiction.

Reading record 2010

Previous lists: 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006. Coo, I've been blogging a long time now. Extraordinary. Unexpected. My vast following applaud me, haha.

A-Z challenge list here.

Anyhooo, first book of the year:


The Poison Principle / Gail Bell
Baggage / Janet Street Porter


Snowball in Hell / Christopher Brookmyre
I am Legend / Richard Matheson
Titus Groan / Mervyn Peake
Behaviour of Moths / Poppy Adams
And Another Thing / Eoin Colfer


Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy / Douglas Adams (re-read)
Anansi Boys / Neil Gaiman
Bloodwork / Michael Connelly
Thud! / Terry Pratchett (re-read)
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency / Douglas Adams (re-read)
In the Beginning / Catherine Dunne
The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul / Douglas Adams (re-read)
The Blue Bedspread / Raj Kamal Jha


The Fifth Elephant / Terry Pratchett (re-read)
Thief of Time / Terry Pratchett (re-read)
The Truth (with Jokes) / Al Franken
Moving Pictures / Terry Pratchett (re-read)
The Shack / Wm Paul Young
The Truth / Terry Pratchett (re-read)
A Good & Happy Child / Justin Evans


Stiff / Mary Roach
Sharp Teeth / Toby Barlow
Jingo / Terry Pratchett (re-read)
Equal Rites / Terry Pratchett (re-read)
Pyramids / Terry Pratchett (re-read)


The English Civil War: at first hand / Tristram Hunt
Life's too f---ing short / Janet Street-Porter
Monstrous Regiment / Terry Pratchett (re-read)
Nation / Terry Pratchett (re-read)
Corridors of Time / Poul Anderson


Murder of Identity / Veronica Heley
The Book of General Ignorance (A Quite Interesting Book) / John Lloyd & John Mitchinson
The Hogfather / Terry Pratchett (re-read)


Richard III / Shakespeare
LionBoy / Zizou Corder
Nine Dragons / Michael Connelly
Shakespeare's Wife / Germaine Greer
Strata / Terry Pratchett
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ / Philip Pullman
Angels Flight / Michael Connelly
Twilight / Stephenie Meyer
Mud, Muck and Dead Things / Ann Granger


The Brass Verdict / Michael Connelly
The Turning Angel / Greg Iles
The Da-da-de-da-da Code / Robert Rankin


Blood and Ashes / Jane Jordan
The Sirens of Baghdad / Yasmina Khadra


Battlefield Earth / L Ron Hubbard
I Shall Wear Midnight / Terry Pratchett


Fragile Things / Neil Gaiman
Stardust / Neil Gaiman
Bluebeard's Egg / Margaret Atwood
G is for Gumshoe / Sue Grafton
J is for Judgement / Sue Grafton

On a quick count, 56 books this year. Not bad. Just over one a week, although that's inaccurate as I either read a lot or seem to stop altogether for a bit, as I did when I got stuck on Battlefield Earth.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Ghastly Facebook memes

"Put ♥ this ♥ on ♥ your ♥ status ♥ if ♥ you ♥ know ♥ someone ♥ who ♥ has ♥ or ♥ had ♥ cancer! ♥ All I wish for in 2010 is a CURE! ♥ Dear G-d, I pray for the cure for cancer. Amen. ♥ 93% WON'T Copy and Paste this, will YOU ? ♥ XXX."

Urgh. There's been a lot of FaceBook status chain-letters/memes of late. I didn't like the one that spread consisting of telling a colour: the colour of knickers worn, (as it's nobody's business but me own and it's just eye-rollingly juvenile). According to the F-Word it supposedly originated as an awareness campaign for breast cancer and was about the colour of bras, which is a weird and creeptastic way of consciousness-raising.

Not that it was noticeably about bras or cancer awareness by the time it got to me.

I find this new one possibly even more repugnant 'though. It's exploitative, emotional blackmail, making push-button sentimentality out of cancer. 93%* won't put it on their profile because it's cheesy, futile and irrelevant.

I know and love some people with cancer and if they saw this crap on my profile, it wouldn't make them feel good and show them I care. It's like making them a trophy, making their cancer about me. "Look at me, look at me, I'm in that caring, affected 7%!"


And then there's the prayer. I don't subscribe to that, and the presumption of the writer of this idiocy ticks me off. Not everyone shares your religion, dingbat. Do they want me to edit out the bits I don't subscribe to, or do they not want my kind?

I don't subscribe to a lot of nausea-inducing heart symbols either. Pah.

* Although I appreciate a made-up at random statistic when I see one. 87% of the time.

Most hated on ice

People really seem to hate Heather Mills: today on FB and various message boards, there are comment streams choking disapproval and spite towards her.

The children wanted to watch Dancing on Ice, which is a new vice for us all. Sigh. The trouble with these sorts of programmes is that they do make for family viewing: someone to root for with the competition aspect, something "everyone's talking about" to discuss at school/bus-stop and something safe and nice to watch, "good clean fun". The worst outcome would possibly being someone having their jugular slit by an ice-skate, I suppose, but that wouldn't make it on screen, while the sarcastic judges comments just meet the Anne Robinson standard. And it is nice to sit as a family post-bathtime and watch something.

I was quite surprised at the level of venom of some of those comments. A very public messy divorce from Paul McCartney and she's evil incarnate. People are criticising her for emphasising 'charity campaigner' as her role, but what do they want? Ex-Beatle ex-wife? Wouldn't she then be milking his fame? Truth is, none of us (as in the great unwashed) know this woman at all. She may be an awful person and all that, or her public image may just have been distorted either through poor choices on her part, agenda by the media or mixture of the two. Her persona seems unsympathetic, but the level of nastiness she seems to excite is preposterous and out of proportion.

I'm glad she made it through to the next round (I didn't watch the results show, as children were then abed, but the FB reactions are all over my friends list). I didn't expect her to, thinking she was beyond unpopular, so it makes me wonder: did people vote to have someone to keep hating, hoping she hurts herself or falls? Or do more people feel inclined to give her a chance to redeem her public image (if that's part of what she hopes to achieve?) and appreciate her grit in trying an ice-skating competition as an amputee?

Thursday, January 07, 2010


I was quite excited by the new trailer for Alice In Wonderland. It shows some of the live action, rather than the fantasy(?)/CGI/studio bits which have predominated in the previous trailers. I was lucky enough to be working at the location during the filming.

The link takes you to the trailer (which starts after an ad for another film). I watched the gazebo scene being filmed! It's really cool to see it on screen after seeing all the takes.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Insightful reviews

I've started reading the Poison Principle by Gail Bell. I cast my eye over a few reviews for it, (which I wouldn't usually for fear of being put off), but was most amused by one, which was short and sweet: "an incite into the world of poison".

Well, let's hope not for the sake of those I make meals for...

This is also where the internet proves lacking as communication. If I could see the reviewer's face or hear their tone of voice or knew them at all, I'd know whether it was a deliberate pun or a mis-spelling. I'd like to congratulate them on the chuckle it gave me, but won't for fear it was accidental and coming off as patronising/spelling-nazi.

Saturday, January 02, 2010


I really like LibraryThing at the moment and am interested in their groups which suggest reading challenges for the year: things like reading 100, 75 or 50 books in a year, and choosing categories and reading a set amount in those categories.

I may well indulge in the 75 book challenge: in previous years (that I've recorded) I've varied between 50 or so to last year's 80-odd (which I did comfortably, but a lot were quick reads). I don't want to set myself something to fail at, because I'm attracted to the categories as well and I suspect those may slow me down.

I think I'd probably do biographies/autobiographies, non-fiction, new-to-me authors, non-western authors, classics... After that I'm not sure. You can do random things like books with a colour in the title. I'm tempted to do something eccentric like allocating a number to each of the sections in the library, pulling a number out of a hat and picking the middle book out of the middle shelf or something.

Jimmy Carr's laugh

Several stripey Jimmy Carr's congratulating themselves on how funny they think they are.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

Well, it's a new year and I feel fairly optimistic about my life. Hope you are too.

I read 81 books last year, according to my reading record, so that's pretty good. The vast majority were fiction and quite a few were re-reads.

New author to me and one I'll go for again is Christopher Brookmyre. The nadir was unquestionably Left Behind in fiction, with Dawkins Delusion taking the non-fiction raspberry, while Unspeak and Age of Wonders were the best non-fiction. Neverwhere was the best fiction, I think.

The best night out I had was seeing Eddie Izzard live in Bournemouth. Getting to go over to NI for the first time in years was the best (and only) family holiday away. Getting some time with old friends was fabby. Camping for the first time on my own with the children was hard work but fun.

Best present for me was the laptop. Best for daughter a mobile phone. I know, I didn't think it was a good idea, either, but she absolutely loves it and I suppose it means she can go to the park with her mates without me worrying too much.

Worst present was buying tickets for Elton John for mum and then him getting ill and cancelling, selfish git.

Other worst present, for the boy, is a transformer. It ought to be just the ticket, but it's impossible to transform back into a car. It's like a rubik's cube cubed!

Proud mummy moments include the school productions the children appeared in, daughter being put on the gifted and talented list and hurtling down a ski-slope when others wimped out plus son doing well with his maths & spellings and keeping on going despite everyone outstripping him at sportsday. Yay.

A fair amount of negative things happened and I miss my Gran, but there we go. 2009 is done with and 2010 is virgin territory. Let the adventure begin! (With all due cheesiness.)