Tuesday, June 26, 2007

You are a pirate

It strikes me as sourly funny that, according to local radio, it is necessary for there to be increased awareness of the dangers of tombstoning.

Isn't there a tiny weeny clue in the name?

And another thing, the road safety bods are currently sponsoring travel news on my beloved Pirate, and it announces that "the average child car seat costs £80 ... but how much is your child's life worth?" Well, yes, a worthy message blah-blah-blah, that's not the bit I want to talk about. I think their figure must have come from finding the highest and the lowest priced seat and dividing by two. Which is a perfectly rational way of coming up with a figure, I suppose, but it doesn't really reflect the true situation.

Is it a mean average when you take a large sample (or all) of prices and then divide by the number of the sample? That would be more representative, wouldn't it? I'm sure then the figure would be much lower, which would be a better pitch. Yes, you can buy top of the range super-duper car seats with bells and whistles and probably woofers and tweeters, but even the cheapest one has to conform to safety standards. I think saying a lower figure would be more hard-hitting. Although perhaps £80 isn't a lot.

Perhaps I'm showing my income level - how rude!

Well hello there

I've been off-line a bit due to the immensely long time it took my broadband provider to transfer it to our new address.

It could be a completely reasonable length of time as dozens of frenetic little men stitch a broadband wire all the way from Whoknowswhere to me, negotiating the claustrophobic, dangerous space between plastic coating and telephone cable, barely paid a shiny copper coin a day.

I have no idea what it involves (obviously), just that for such an instant medium the switch took longer than I imagined. I am competent enough with the technology, yet have no idea how it works.

But I'm back and coincidentally it's the 500th post on this fetid cesspool of a blog. So hurrah.

Sunday, June 10, 2007


I naughtily spent most of the day outside reading while the children sploshed in their paddling pool instead of packing much.

I re-read Herland, a utopic novel by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (probably best known for The Yellow Wallpaper). I got the book in college but don't think I've read it since. The Utopia Gilman creates is men-free (as the title Herland kind of gives away!) a female only territory, blissfully productive and peaceful, as utopias should be. Not men-free, I meant the peacable and lush bit!

It's an amusing and light read as the three male explorers who find Herland learn about it and hope for Carry On Up The Jungle type rampant Amazon women. Of course they don't find that at all, the women reproduce parthenogenically. Motherhood is a privilege and preoccupation, a religion even. I wasn't altogether satisfied with their depiction as pretty much non-sexual beings and the focus on being mothers alone. Perhaps parthenogenic reproduction would create such disinterest, but it made the women seem less human to my mind.

The book was written & published in serial form in 1915, I think, and only fully printed as a novel on the late '70s: its age accounts for some of the attitudes shown, I hope. It may in part explain why sexuality is limited, but more importantly why it seemed Gilman stressed that the women of the hidden country were white. After finishing the novel, I read the introductory essay by Anne J Lane and from this, I understand that racial stereotyping is more pronounced in the sequel, so it seems it wasn't just me reading "too much" into it. It's certainly a product of its time in that respect, yet has some very "modern" feminist ideas in it as well, which is a little disconcerting.

Slightly frustrated

We were supposed to move into the new house this weekend, but we're putting it off 'til Tuesday, since M has been working 'til 3 every day over the weekend and is away overnight on Monday. He has a day off on Tuesday, so we can the heavy moving together. I am perfectly capable of wielding the electric screw-driver and lugging out bits of beds myself, but doing it together is more sensible, I suppose.

Still this waiting leaves us in a state of flux, with much of our stuff in boxes and bags in both houses. The landline here is disconnected, but the broadband still on, strangely. I had assumed that you could only have one with the other, but evidently not.

Friday, June 08, 2007

The Women's Room

It is my habit to use odd bits of paper as book-marks. Dog-earing is a crime in this household! And it struck me as amusing/apropos when I noticed this, in my current read:

Where indeed?
It's amazing how relevant still much of this 30 year old feminist novel is. I'd go on, but I'm not presently in the mood for long blogging.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

One step forward and a couple of steps back

Decorating houses is fun - and then it's not so fun. When you feel like you're getting somewhere it's fabulous, dahhlinks, such as when you think you've nearly completed a room. A real sense of satisfaction, and imaginary placing of furniture and carpets can follow.

But when you attempt painting the ceilings and the now-moist & sticky previous paint layers peel off like wall-paper on your head, it's not quite so fabulous.

My hair is going white and it's not with age or worry.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

On hating Big Brother

Big Brother and the publicity machine that surrounds it, really really really really depresses me. There are words to describe the programme, such as: asinine, banal, contemptible, dire, empty-headed, fatuous, gormless, hollow, inane, juvenile, kitsch, lame, meretricious, narcissistic, otiose, prurient, questionable, raucous, sleazy, tawdry, uncouth, vacuous, witless, xanthic, yawn-making, zombie-pleasing. OK, I was stretching it a bit towards the end there. And it's not really all that yellow, and it's not as if yellow is a bad thing.

I made the novice's mistake of picking up a tabloid and flicking through its Big Brother coverage pages a couple of days ago, and the residual annoyance lingers on.

There was a little piece on each of the contestants and clearly the twins were causing some rush of blood-flow from the brain, hence they had a little segment of their own, in which they "confessed" to expecting never to pay for their own drinks, being willing to share a man, because he'd never know, hee hee aren't we naughty?, and titter, simper, they don't vote because they don't, bat eyelashes, pout, know much about politics.

Aieeeeeeeeee. Excrutiating. That was a good word I missed from my list.

Underneath their Aveline Boswell-exteriors, they may be as shrewd and canny as a crate of ferrets being next-day delivered to Watership Down.

Even if they are, I loathe the buying into of this misogynistic, sexual objectification crap. I hate the papers and I hate this "phenomenon" that is the voyeuristic watching of a bunch of kvetching, talent-free imbeciles, sitting around in a house.

I have lots of ire. Lots.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Can you tell what it is yet?

Progress on our new home's decor is being made, gradually.

The master bedroom beset by bunny.

T's wall-paper (to be continued)

The sofas we were given.

The room doesn't slope, it's just the way I take pictures!
S's room is nearly finished, to her requirements, or at least some of them
(we left out the stripes, hearts and stars, meanies that we are).

Partly painted living room (with unpleasant tiled fireplace, to go please).

A bit of green lawn showing after being thoroughly brown when I first cut it to decent length.

Storm in an egg-cup

I read some of the Torygraph today. There's a story about the RSPB forums banning the word cock (when describing male birds) and shock, horror it's all to do with being politically correct.


The media don't half stretch the meaning of PC. To me, it means to attempt to redress social injustices caused by prejudice, which can involve changing or avoiding potentially offensive language, especially with respect to gender, race, or ethnic background. To use positive terminology instead of negative.

Euphemisms for male genitalia or stopping swearing don't enter into it [As Mr Praline would say]. That's Mary Whitehouse territory, and I very much doubt she was politically correct. Obsessed with sex, possibly.

Back to the point, this story is nothing to do with the word cock being banned for being politically incorrect in some way, it is in fact completely to do with software filters automatically bleeping the word out.

Some sites with such forums use software to render them "safe" for younger users and so that those with work-based or parental controls are not forbidden access to their site. These filters are stupid, blunt instruments; they are not discerning or context-driven. The software is unable to distinguish between the word "cock" used in order to seek porn, to swear (or to suggest doing rudies with people on forums) and the word "cock" used to refer to a fowl of the male kind.

Don't blame the "PC gorn mad brigade" whoever they may be (and I'm of the suspicion that they do not in fact exist), blame the software manufacturers. In this case, er, Microsoft I believe.

So Mr Gates, it's all your fault!

But thanks for the computers at my local library.