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


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.


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.