Saturday, November 29, 2008

Any surgeons out there

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

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Women's peaks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Music in my head - grrrrr

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

And when did the Script eat Sting?

Gender bending blog tool

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Conversation with a small boy

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

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

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

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

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

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

We put on Thomas.

Child protection

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Living ethically

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

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

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

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

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

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

* Yes it is.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Unreasonable grounds

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


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

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

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

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Cars, kids and convention

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, November 05, 2008


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

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

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


Let's hope so.

Monday, November 03, 2008

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

Hurrah hurrah, councils are banning Christmas! Again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Beautiful sun

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

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