Wednesday, 29 June 2011

"A Message of Hope from the US Senate"

I just wanted to say how awesome I think these thirteen senators from the United States are - I have no idea what their political backgrounds are, but frankly, I'm happy to give them all a hug for their support of LGBT youths and general equality.

The senators involved are all Democrats:

  • Ron Wyden (Oregon)
  • Chris Coons (Delaware)
  • Mark Udall (Colorado)
  • Kirsten Gillibrand (New York)
  • Richard Durbin (Illinois) 
  • Dianne Feinstein (California)
  • Charles Schumer (New York)
  • Jeanne Shaheen (New Hampshire)
  • Maria Cantwell (Washington)
  • Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island)
  • Al Franken (Minnesota) 
  • Sherrod Brown (Ohio)
  • Richard Blumenthal (Connecticut)

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

A reply to a friend

A friend of mine blogs over on Tumblr. I was going to leave her a comment over there but there but you can't leave links in the 'Ask' function. She made a short post under a comment by a fellow tumblree saying:
 "Word.  Thank god this woman [Michele Bachmann] has no chance in hell at presidency.  I’m still worried people like her even exist, though."
I wrote a wee essay before I realised I couldn't post the links so I've moved it across here.
Not so much a question, also I'm an outsider looking on and I think we Brits may exaggerate the insanity of the American public but still...  
On the Bachmann front, other than sadistic curiosity about what a MB presidency would look like, I'd rather for all of our sakes that she didn't get in - but this statement a while back caught my eye (as an irreligiously raised atheist who Does Not Understand these people): 
"Michele Bachmann says certain things that sound crazy to the general public. But to anybody raised in the environment of the evangelical right wing, what she says makes perfect sense." --- Frank Schaeffer (a former member of the Christian right) 
Then there's this poll from back in 2005.
I doubt Michele Bachmann will even get the Republican nomination, but then again, they polled Oregon and Montana and had 54% and 50% respectively viewing her favourably of those asked... and I don't trust your country after you managed to re-elect Bush Mark II.
No need for a reply, just thought the links might interest you. Also, the Daily Beast profile on Bachmann is here if you haven't seen it and are interested.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

I feel so proud

My natural competitive nature made me go, "YAY, WE WIN!" when I read this. Then I remembered this is not necessarily something I should wander about feeling proud of (despite my support of legalising drugs)... and I'm not part of that 3.9%, so I didn't even help out.

Why I should never go on YouTube

I am incredibly angry. I am more than just angry, I am fucking furious. Sometimes, I simply despise people. I spend a lot of time online and you get a load of bullshit thrown at you from all corners constantly but sometimes comments are made that cut just too close tot the bone. I laugh about the idiotic conspiracy theories around 9/11 without thinking how angry it has make the saner of those actually personally touched by that horrific tragedy. I hope they are at least. These almost entirely baseless, 'god of gaps'-like arguments that we've all heard can hurt. Some disturbed, sad little person behind a keyboard will start them off and they will spread like wildfire, often reaching the mainstream. I'm sure the public Obama 'birthers' (a more amusing, though now tedious, conspiracy) would have happily jumped on the 9/11 conspiracy bandwagon if it weren't for it occurring under a Republican presidency. 

But my ire today is directed at one stupid little YouTube comment that touched a nerve. 

I'll suppose you don't have some vague idea of what the Dunblane Massacre is, so for anyone who doesn't know; Dunblane Primary School is one of three primary schools in the Scottish town of Dunblane. In 1996, a man named Thomas Hamilton walked into the school and shot sixteen 5-6 year olds dead alongside their teacher, others were seriously injured. It remains the deadliest massacre of children in the United Kingdom, and one of the worst firearms attacks on a school in the western world. 

I know, "don't feed the trolls" hence why I came over to my blog where I can get this out of my system without turning what is a mostly un-trolled thread into a pointless argument.

But where do I start? The man who made this comment is obsessed with gun control. Oddly, though I brought up 9/11, it looks like he isn't one of those conspiracy theorists - does this mean he is so ill-inclined to his own country that he thinks it is easier for Britain's government, intelligence services, police and civil servants to cover up a multiple murder than in the United States? We're more likely to be murderers. God, to be in his head... I would rather not give his videos more viewings, but just from looking at his comments and the titles, I am seriously glad we have gun control here.

I should really have disregarded it the moment I saw the comment. Typical conspiracy loony markings. Hacked site containing "ALL THE PROOF THAT EVAH EXISTED DD=" now lost. Oh, well isn't that a damned shame. A damned convenient shame.

The book he is talking about is a mess. Honestly, only an American radio show would ever talk to the woman that wrote it because the thing is a disgrace. Dunblane Unburied is, for starters, extremely poorly written, much like our friend's comment but even after you get past the poor quality writing it is unoriginal and ridiculous. It lays the blame for the attack on just about everyone excluding the man who really committed the crime. The police are accused of having followed Hamilton and of permitting him to commit the slaughter at Dunblane before shooting him dead themselves, the Freemasons were involved in a cover-up, a paedophile ring of high-ranking civic figures were friendly with Hamilton and suppressed evidence - if you can't see the absurdity from my brief explanation I'll add that none of these claims even attempted to back themselves up with evidence. I said 'god of gaps' - there were no gaps here. The claims aren't put in where there is no - or is disputed - evidence, they were crudely pasted over good facts with a gluestick. 

It might be funny. Only remember what the woman who wrote this book and the man who shat out that comment are writing about? 

There is a book called Dunblane: Our Year of Tears which you can read if you want a moving account of this tragedy and it's effect on those involved or for the official document, The Cullen Report (The Public Inquiry into the Shootings at Dunblane Primary School on 13 March 1996) will give you the facts of the investigation and recommendations given to the Government at the time.

Because seventeen people were murdered, sixteen of them were children and this isn't something to mock.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Same-sex marriage - the right answer

"There are some subjects that should be discussed in shades of grey, with acknowledgement of subtleties and cultural differences. Same-sex marriage is not one of those. There is a right answer."
Hadley Freeman is an American columnist and writer, she has written for a number of years in one of the few semi-honest British national newspapers, The Guardian. Her writing has always amused me (in particular, and surprisingly to anyone who knows me and my complete lack of style, her no-nonsense fashion column) but it has never quite made me want to take a flight to her current place of residence and hug her. The piece is littered with witty observations, but most importantly it is from the heart and honest.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Choice to die

Some claim that suicide and euthanasia are equivalent to state-sanctioned murder if legal. This is, clearly,  hysterical propaganda. However, while it is, for obvious reasons, impossible to punish someone who has successfully committed suicide, here in Scotland it is possible for attempted suicide to be prosecuted under breach of the peace and anyone assisting can be charged with culpable homicide or murder.

I am not ill. There is no indication in my family thus far that I may have a genetic disorder. Every member of my immediate family, from my six year old cousin to my ninety-six year old great grandmother are in reasonable good health. Yet if I were to suffer from a terminal disease, be it selfish or not, I do not believe it is my family, my friends or, particularly, the state's decision whether or not I continue to live in mental or physical distress. My body, my mind, my choice. If any other member of my family felt the same way, I would be deeply saddened and I would grieve, but I would ultimately support their decision.

I do not wish at any point in my life to be restricted by the cultural and religious beliefs of others if it means I have to live in pain or anguish. We have enough of that in bills attempting to curb romantic/sexual relationships between consenting adults and frequent attacks on women's health and choice in favour of embryos. I don't give a fuck if you're humanist, Christian, Muslim, Scientologist or spiritual masseuse/yoga instructor. Butt. Out. I repeat: my life is my own. I am not robbing anyone, I am not murdering anyone, I am not depriving others of their human rights.

The Independent summarised it well in a 2002 article:
In [...] cases where there are no dependants who might exert pressure one way or the other, the right of the individual to choose should be paramount. So long as the patient is lucid, and his or her intent is clear beyond doubt, there need be no further questions.
Yes, we 100% need to support the NHS and make sure care for the terminally ill and elderly is as good as it can be and it can be better (Mr Cameron, Mr Lansley, you're not going in the right direction for it), but that goal doesn't negate the right people should have to end their suffering without fear of reprisal.

The present law does not necessarily reflect current public opinion in the United Kingdom but traditional, outdated values. If you don't want to choose to die, I suggest you don't go to a clinic that assists in suicide to die. In the law, we always have safeguards - it might take a while to perfect them but they're there - to protect the vulnerable.

  1. There must be unbearable physical or mental suffering
  2. The suffering and the desire to die must be lasting
  3. It must be the patient's own decision
  4. The patient must have a clear understanding of his or her condition and prognosis. He or she must be capable of assessing the options and must have done so
  5. There must be no other acceptable solution
  6. The time and the way the patient dies must not cause avoidable misery to others (e.g. the next of kin should be informed and the patient's affairs be put in order)
  7. The doctor involved must consult another professional
  8. A medical doctor must be involved in prescribing the right drugs.
  9. The decision process and the actual treatment must be carried out with the utmost care
  10. The person receiving help to die does not have to be terminally ill, but must be suffering unbearably
Seems reasonable to me.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Simple, natural and beautiful

“People hate what they don’t understand and try to destroy it. Only try to keep yourself clear and don’t allow that destructive force to spoil something that to you is simple, natural, and beautiful.”  
---- Eva Le Gallienne ----

I have nothing to blog really, so I thought, a good quote'll do.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Trafficking towels

I'm a fool and forgot my sanitary towels/tampons tonight at work, just as I start to flow heavy - I know, my monthly cycle really is what you want to know about, but it's pertinent to the story. So I had a look around the crew on the show I've been working on and found a friend who had the sense to keep some on her person. She insisted on leaving the relatively busy room we were in to the adjoining corridor (also prone to having people walking through admittedly), where she anxiously clutched her bag. 

Unfortunately she had a selection in the pocket rather than just one type, resulting in a slight row over size I needed to last me through the evening's work. It gets worse though as I raised my voice in an irritated, slightly desperate fashion to say, "Oh I just need one for tonight! Give me the damn-"

... as the director and choreographer walked round the corner. Helpfully, Emily then clutched her bag closed, we both went bright red and replied, "Fine fine." in an overly airy fashion when asked if we were alright before proceeding to fall about giggling like eight year olds.


Judging from the expressions on their faces sanitary towel dealing was not what they thought we were up to.

Illicit goods


The owls are gathering...

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Homophobic speaker invited to Holyrood

Delighted with the Scottish Greens' co-convenor, Patrick Harvie, for his statement condemning Holyrood's inclusion of Cecil Samuelson in their "Time for Reflection". Whether he said it or not during his address to parliament (he did not), Samuelson nonetheless holds views that are offensive to the 6% of Scots who are LGBT and to many others who support human rights and non-discrimination - not to mention the nine million or so Americans his church try and often succeed in rendering second class citizens. 

In nice large letters on Brigham Young University's "Honor Code" there is specifically a target at "Homosexual Conduct":
"One's stated same-gender attraction is not an Honor Code issue. However, the Honor Code requires all members of the university community to manifest a strict commitment to the law of chastity. Homosexual behavior is inappropriate and violates the Honor Code. Homosexual behavior includes not only sexual relations between members of the same sex, but all forms of physical intimacy that give expression to homosexual feelings."
So basically, show heteroromantic intimacy all you like, homoromantic - no go. Not homophobic at all. Let's not forget that Samuelson was also a loud proponent of California Proposition 22 in 2000, which was the predecessor to 2008's infamous Proposition 8.

However, back to the present. Mr Harvie pointed out to the chamber following Samuelson's departure that the university today's speaker came from was one "willing to ruin the life chances of young people and to force them to live in fear, simply on the grounds of their sexuality."
"Holyrood presiding officer Tricia Marwick told Mr Harvie: "I would remind you that time for reflection contributors are guests of this parliament and should be shown courtesy by all members.
"I think any member who has heard the speech that Professor Samuelson made today would take absolutely no issue with it whatsoever.""
Missing the point somewhat. What is the Scottish Parliament doing inviting someone with anti-progressive, bigoted views any form of platform, in a session such as the TfR? Professor Samuelson may have been there to represent a particular faith, but when what he supports across the pond is contrary to progressive values and to a great number of Scots it is odd that he would be chosen to speak. When the Church of Scotland (roughly 42% of Scots claiming to belong to it) is forward moving enough to bless same-sex partnerships and allows openly gay ministers - though I am well aware there are Presbyterians who do not support these moves - how exactly is it representative of the Scottish population to invite an American speaker who is prominent in a known anti-gay religious faculty? One that would be breaking anti-discrimination laws if it existed in Scotland. I highly doubt a well known racist would be permitted to address parliament as part of TfR - so why a well known homophobe?

The Independent MSP from Lothians, who I have long admired for speaking out on issues such as euthanasia in Scotland, Margo MacDonald also came in slightly later to back up Harvie's statement an action for which she has only risen in my estimation.

Mr Harvie spoke with more respect and courtesy than Samuelson deserved and more respect than Samuelson has ever shown the community Harvie belongs to and has done good work within.

The Scottish Green Party blog post is here, also commenting on Sir Brian Souter.

This post may be edited when I get home. Got to get ready for work.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Fringe programme

Edinburgh Festival Fringe programme is available online. I have half a dozen hard copies of previous years in my room and frankly, with how thick the buggers are, I don't think I would be bothered flicking through online personally. The handy thing about the physical ones is that you can just thumb through in five minutes or less. On the other hand, it's relatively easy for me to get hold of one, whereas visitors to Scotland might find it useful, particularly if they're only over for a few days.

Anyhow, Fringe almost upon us: YAY! Always awesome. Unlike the sister, I won't be working on anything through it, but a few of my friends and I were considering chipping in to go see Shappi Khorsandi and have a wander around the jam-packed streets of festival season 'Burgher. We considered going to see the Footlights (as we do every year) then, again as we do every year, decided the likelihood of us missing out on seeing a young Fry or Mitchell was low... reasoning which will piss us off in a decade or so I'm sure.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Next Blog>>

I was a little bored  as the family are late in arriving, so I flicked though Blag Hag - Jen McCreight's atheist/liberal/general titbits blog - for a while then tried the Next Blog setting on Blogger and - lo and behold! - I got Orthodox Way of Life, both mildly amused and bored, I tried again: ... make music from your heart to the Lord and Theologian Mom, followed by a Catholic convert, then a site with more Bible Babble, veritas - seeking first God's kingdom, a blog with the first post "Letting God Lead" and there was Bishop Squared - A Quest for Truth...

I'm going to keep on clicking, see if I can get linked to another atheist or agnostic.

The following should be read in the style of a football [soccer] commentator:

Another couple of religious ones, an artist, a United Church of Canada preacher, veritas again, "CHRISTUS VINCIT - THE BLOG!", Milt's Journey who "want[s] to help others on this journey of life who seek to please God", a "follower of Jesus" to Raven ministries.

Five more religion blogs, a writer, someone with "Christian Quotes" on the side, some heinously Christian blog which doesn't talk about anything else, an Orthodox Jew (YAY! Non-Christian religious one),  a fuckload more...

It's been twenty-two blogs since the Orthodox Jew, we've had a lot more Christian, veritas was three of them and one spiritual mumbo-jumbo, Tarot card, homoeopathic. Still no atheists. We've got Moonies now, and a couple of families, a photographer with a Psalm, a further ten...

Jebus, I can procrastinate.

This is me...

(via xkcd)

Question time?

When I first heard Germaine Greer's slur on Thursday's Question Time (a BBC political discussion show) I was outraged. I started to write a post before thinking better of it, because it was simply angry and incoherent. After a few days of thought it strikes me as more absurd than anything else. Her exact comment was:
"All soldiers, in certain circumstances, will rape, regardless of whether they're ours or theirs or whose."
Her reasoning is completely off. I am going to suppose what she was implying was that because the occupation they are in necessarily involves violence this strips away their morals and in a war zone they're going to go around sexually assaulting people. Can I amend this to what she should have said?
"All soldiers people, in certain circumstances, will rape, regardless of whether they're ours or theirs or whose." 
That is, essentially, what she is saying. I disagree with my 'amended' statement. I do not believe that all people, all soldiers, will rape, whether they're "ours or theirs or whose" but by Ms. Greer's reasoning, all people are capable of committing rape depending on their circumstances. A soldier is no more likely to rape someone in whatever this 'circumstance' Greer is envisaging than a non-soldier in exactly the same circumstances. Her claim that 'all soldiers' will is null. If all soldiers would, she is also just as likely to if put in the same certain circumstance. By her reasoning, so am I (a pacifist through, though willing to allow for self defence), and so are you. 


Like a duck to water

I hadn't heard about these until Clare Balding started quacking across the Twitter lines earlier today. I am now insanely excited and am determined to book myself a duck bus tour next time I'm down in London. It is beautifully silly. Yellowfied D-Day DUKWS.

London Duck Tours offer more than just a sightseeing tour; it's an exciting road and river adventure appealing to visitors of all ages! The amphibious craft, originally known as 'DUKWS', were first used for the D-Day landings when more than 22,000 were built to take the troops ashore.
Today's vehicles bear little resemblance to their military predecessors in their eye catching yellow livery. They have been modified to meet the stringent safety regulations set by the road and river authorities [....] commentary by the Duck Tour guides who provide an alternative and insightful view of London's history, plus fascinating facts and figures about the original D-Day vehicles themselves.
How awesome is that? My day could only be more delightful if I actually could get near one any time soon.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

"Risk thinking for yourself..."

I don't always agree with Christopher Hitchens politically (and I cannot forgive him for abandoning Britain with the only Hitchens being Peter), but I do tend to on the subject of religion and it's impact. He is also an extraordinary writer and a beautiful, eloquent speaker - it is a joy to listen to his debates, in particular his usually forceful and passionate closing statements. I was flicking through YouTube though, and I came across this tribute:

I'm a little tired right now and I'm moved by these sorts of things even in the sanest, soberest times. Still, I'm going to go blub over this.

"I want to live my life taking the risk all the time that I don’t know anything like enough yet, that I haven’t understood enough, that I can’t know enough and I am always hungrily operating on the margins of a potentially great harvest of future knowledge and wisdom. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I’d urge you to look at those of you who tell you, those people who tell you, at your age, that you’re dead until you believe as they do. What a terrible thing to be telling to children. And that you can only live... and that you can only live by accepting an absolute authority. Don’t think of that as a gift, think of it as a poison chalice, push it aside however tempting it is.
Take the risk of thinking for yourself. Much more happiness, truth, beauty and wisdom will come to you that way. "

Whovian fix

Every year, a week after the series finale of Doctor Who, I go buy myself a copy of the Doctor Who Magazine (too expensive for me to get more regularly). This year, awesomely, I have to buy two. One for the mid-series finale and one for the finale. I did feel a little odd. Went to my local newsagents - I had stopped buying papers, but I couldn't keep to it - laid down The Grauniad, New Statesman, The New Yorker and Private Eye on the desk... and my annual (well... biannual) DWM.

All my geekery, laid out bare before the local newsagent - usually I sneakily buy them on different days, but due to a hole in my foot I'm trying to cut down walking until I can get to the chiropodist. 

Why I don't get the bus...

The Rt Hon Michael Howard Of Lympne. Baron. For public and political services. (London, SW1V)
Brian Souter. Chief executive, Stagecoach Group plc. For services to Transport and to the Voluntary Sector. (Perth, Perth and Kinross)"

So, Elizabeth Windsor's Birthday Honours list is out, and look who's on it.

In Britain, from 1988 to 2000/2003, there was a law barring teachers from telling students there was nothing wrong with being LGBT and explaining gay issues: Section 28 (also known as Clause 28 or Clause 2A) of the Local Government Act 1988. This was thankfully abolished during my time at school.

However, two people who fought tooth and claw to keep this homophobic law, making in near impossible for homophobic bullying to be tackled in schools for over a decade, are this week, honoured and knighted. 

Michael Howard is a Conservative politician who, while many of his peers have decently back-peddled on the clause and admitted they were wrong, gave in a 2005 interview with Johann Hari the most pathetic, wishy-washy, almost-apology for his support of Section 28. He said he was wrong... after a good deal of probing from Hari.

Brian Souter, meanwhile, is the Scottish bus giant who fought tooth and claw to prevent the repeal of Clause 2A in 2000 (he failed - Scotland repealed in 2000, the rest of the United Kingdom followed in 2003). Bright Green Scotland just posted an article that explains Section 28, it's effect and [Sir] Brian Souter's involvement.

So remind me? Why are we honouring these bigots? Can I expect to be calling Mr Griffin of the BNP, "Sir Nicholas" next year?

There's a petition here, it won't come to anything in all likelihood, but at least it'll show we're not impressed.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The "greatest History Book"

An atheist friend in the United States sent me a link to her warring with her bible-bashing mother (without a health warning! My face has a palm indent now) on the subject of science versus religious authority.

Her mother said this at a point in their conversation, which amused me:
"And the Holy Bible is the greatest History Book [I don't know if this is a joke about them both being 'HB' or what... Q] ever written."
I agree with her to an extent... the Bible is an important historical tool. It helps you understand the roots of the Inquisition, the witch trials of Europe on the 17th century and the prejudice, persecution and slaughter of the Jewish people over the centuries in Europe and America. Also the opposition from certain religious factions to abortion, to affording all adults equal rights, to vital medical/scientific research and to educating our children. For some reason I don't think that's what she meant though.

My friend's mother also claims that the Bible is "current for today... Something WE ALL NEED"... I confess to worry for people who claim to derive their morality from religious books rather than social progressivism. Have they read their sacred text properly?

Facepalm warning here, she gave me permission to post the full conversation so far (it's ongoing) and gave me the screenshots:

Morby, dear, I'll meet you in Norway for the wedding, 'kay? Tell your mum she's invited.


Edit: Still no reply since Morby's last - almost 24 hours now. She's claiming this as a minor victory.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

A productive parish

I really just wanted the title to alliterate.

A recent post on JT Eberhard's blog, about a renovated church, made me think of the church in Ibrox I went to through my teens. I would love to still attend every Sunday morning, but my doctor advised me against it until I was able to get an operation tightening the ligaments in my wrists. Which, incidentally, I might be getting this year... on the other hand, I might not.

This was my church though:

Or if we go inside:

Awesome, eh? You can have a 360┬║ look around the place online, which is spiffy. Just in case you plan on swinging by Glasgow any time soon and want a boulder.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Sick, undoubtedly...

I am not a horror fan. Torybrainz (rabid deluded Scottish Conservative supporter) is. She's been inflicting it on me for months, in return she watches Doctor Who with me. I have to admit, some sadistic part of me - though you wouldn't get me to see the film if you offered me a thousand quid (actually, I would for that) - is impressed with this. That it can possibly be so vile that the BBFC has refused to give it a certification 18. It will not be available for download or purchase on DVD in the United Kindom*.

The Human Centipede II, I am truly in awe of the depravity your film must contain. Congratulations.

I know some people will say that they oppose censorship in most cases but this film is just going out to shock and isn't worth protecting. However, I say if people want to waste £7 to watch a piece of filth that hasn't harmed anyone in the making (as far as I'm aware - perhaps a few nightmares) and that hasn't exploited people to create it, let them. Hardcore horror fans, those who want to see whatever shit is produced and form their own opinions will find a way to see these sorts of films anyway. 

Some watch them just so they have seen it and can discuss them - defend or criticise - in an informed fashion, never watch them again or mock their partners' for wussing out of Halloween when they have seen the really disgusting stuff. On the note of seeing crap for the sake of seeing it, I went to Space Chimps. That was really crap. I wouldn't really advocate buying it for anyone. I went to see it because I'm a fluffy, animated U-rated film science-fiction nerd and I heard there was a fluffy, animated, U-rated science-fiction film with Kristin Chenoweth in it at the cinema. 

Sure, I think the gruesome horror genre is a cop-out, and I'll take the more subtle horros like Gas Mask Zombies, Vashta Nerada and Weeping Angels over the gore any day. Then again, I got squeamish in X-Men at the needles. If someone, like me, is going to be disturbed by a film like this they won't go see it. 

*because that'll stop them seeing it.

And they stoop farther...

Once again the tools at Conservap├Ždia succeed in demeaning women. Can we have a round of applause for the immense stupidity, insensitivity and sexism of this group of social conservatives?

What will draw more women to atheism? PONIES! Yep, that's right. Not focus on educating more women, not rational discourse, the way forth is ponies. 

As per usual, they also aim slurs against gorgeous, intelligent, rational people such as Stephen Fry (who they forgot to mention doesn't get on well with horses and is a rabid homosexual so clearly repels woman such that he has to be with men - shame on them) and PZ Myers because they are or have been overweight. You know someone is losing an argument when they create a whole wikia page devoted to pointing out that some people on the other side are fat. Or that they've been married a few times, because no conservatives have cheated on their partners or been married multiple times. The patronising tone makes me want to throw bricks though walls.
"Perhaps, if atheist Richard Dawkins was nicer, less abrasive and understood women better, he would still be with his first wife and not be on his third wife! Women appear to love ponies more than they love Richard Dawkins!"
I should add, they overuse exclamation marks horrendously. 

(via Blag Hag)

LOL ... no, you didn't.

I use lol online, I'm no lolsnob - I completely support the use of lol. It does mean we have to have a new abbreviation for 'laugh out loud' which is alwp, or 'actual laughter was produced'. But despite this minor inconvenience I am a full backer of lol.

... until it leaves the online world. There are few trivial things that make my brain jump angrily from the cranium more than someone saying "lol" as part of a regular conversation. I'm all for development of language and internet sayings becoming part of the spoken language but not lol.
"And Emma was telling us, lol, she was explaining..."
The story that followed that was highly amusing. But I couldn't hold back throwing myself into a rant about how as it means LAUGH OUT LOUD my friend could have just, you know, laughed... out loud. I do have just about perfect hearing, and in any case, I could have seen that she had laughed from the way her mouth moved, even the way the lines around her eyes creased as she said 'lol'. We have known each other for 15 years.

It doesn't even make sense as an abbreviation in spoken word. The point of things like alwp, lol, lmfaoroflysst and :L is that they communicate online, in a setting where it is difficult to express this without quick written aids, that you are amused and have laughed. Face to face, or on the phone even, you can see/hear that the person has laughed and this lol-age is therefore unnecessary. They have laughed out loud.

*steps off soapbox*

Sunday, 5 June 2011

A Confession (and X-Men: First Class)

Well, having watched X-Men: First Class*, I have a confession to make.

I have a crush on Oliver Platt. This guy here:

I know, I’m weird. I’m also gay. But my celebrity straight crushes are almost always nerdy or conventionally unattractive - though, Platt was wearing awesome 60s glasses, not entirely my fault. Weird, I know. Oliver Platt (thank you The West Wing), Bradley Whitford (again TWW), Stephen Fry and Rowan Atkinson (Blackadder), David Mitchell (Peep Show), Jon Pertwee (Doctor Who)... 

*a note on the film: pretty cool and epic, nothing we didn't know already, but good, amusing and slightly upsetting in places. I was disappointed with two things, first, the CGI of the guns on the warships and, secondly, the usual lack of women who are anything but typically good looking and wander around half naked... 

Scottish Independence

I'm not hugely read up on Scottish independence, as I imagine most Scots aren't, but articles like the one that has just come from Left Foot Forward, a British progressive news site, make me seethe. I have English friends, I also have Irish/NI and Welsh ones - there is not a bone in my body that would dislike or patronise someone simply because of the country they come from. Yet an awful lot of the blogs and news sites down South don't seem to share my view. There is an awful lot of patronising going about. "Awwww, look at the dinky little Scwots wanting to leave."

I don't think it'll happen. I think we'll bottle it and the referendum will fail dismally but the snide remarks from English commentators and Scots who don't think we can make it on our own make me seriously consider independence. Just to prove them wrong. Which is not a good way to make a political decision. 

Willie Rennie, the new Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, said that, "I fear that instead of a focus on jobs, on growing the economy, our excellence in education and public services, what we will see is a focus on breaking up Britain."

Meanwhile, other pro-Union are complaining that he isn't focussing on independence, instead he's avoiding it in favour of ...
"[...] a referendum in the second half of the parliamentary term , with Alex Salmond arguing that his government’s immediate priority will be to increase the powers afforded to Holyrood within the Scotland Bill, currently going through Westminster."

...  ensuring Scotland is as shielded as possible from things like the cuts down South, protecting jobs, education and the economy, in the likelihood that the referendum doesn't go as planned.
"It is time for those who support the union to have the courage and the unity to embrace a debate on Scotland’s future and call on Alex Salmond to “bring it on”."
Sure, I'll bring it on. Give me two years to educate myself on it. 

How not to fill in a role-play application...

I co-admin a couple of role-play forums, and you get all sorts of weird shit in there. Some of it is awesomely cool weird. Some of it is... just... no...

An example of this turned up on See You At The Show, a town/equestrian site. When you're plugging a site you take in the good and the bad. The bad you GENERALLY help and encourage if you can, but sometimes there are indications that someone is beyond help... or trolling. Well, we got one. 

Our application isn't long. We're pretty easy going that way. You can choose to have it long, or you can make it short (but within reason). This is a good application. However, this also cropped up. And having had a bad couple of days - the Big Boss Admin had her almost (but now actually) boyfriend visiting so was taking a week's leave - with a newly opened forum, a lot of advertising and some hideously embarrassing people dropping by the site left to Donte and I, the junior admin, it just about sent us over the edge. 

There are a few things wrong with this: 

  1. The glaringly obvious one is that they have destroyed the template that Irish had made. You do not destroy the template and it is achingly easy not to. Also, in order to destroy the template, she has created more work for herself, adding in colons.
  2. Their play-by. It is perfectly alright not to have a play-by but if you do want one, know their name. Or at least just enter 'n/a', if you're not sure exactly who they are. 
  3. Don't steal characters from books or television. If it's on a role-play site for a book or a film, and they say use canons, that is obviously fine. But if this isn't outlined, either use some imagination or cover it up better than this individual did. Donte and I do not read the series that she came from, but we were trying to find who the play-by was and stumbled across the character. 
  4. Punctuation - I'm a little too keen on the comma and the hyphen but proof read you application before posting to make sure "tattoos" isn't "tattoo's". 
  5. Don't have your character in a relationship with real-life people. It's weird and awkward. It's fine to say they've met such-and-such a person at some point in their life e.g. John Smith has a signed book from Tom Baker, who he met when he was six. Or that they enjoy the work of an individual. However, it is an enormous no to have them engaged or married to someone.
  6. Personality is all positive. Try adding in a flaw or two. No-one's perfect. Except me.
  7. The character history fails realism completely. Even where we don't go with realism, they should at least be interesting. One of my characters is from a poor background, lost his parents in a car crash and was split from his siblings to live with his grandparents. He's now a psychopathic lunatic. Not your average person but he is interesting to post with.
So there we are, some advice if anyone is planning on making a roleplay character married to Bieber, super rich, perfect and nicked from a novel. Oh, and screwing up an application template.

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Sometimes humans are brilliant

I always rather like ABC’s What Would You Do series. The acting can be terrible and their microphone packs are often hanging obviously off jeans, but the letter written in this one moved me. It is read out from roughly 3:40 to 4:10.
Hello friends,

I know it doesn't mean much but I love you all. You have a beautiful family and I pray that one person's judgemental intolerance does not in any way put a damper on your hearts or minds. In the words of MLK Jr "In the end we remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends."

I am not at all keen on religion, I think it is at best silly and at worst dangerous, but I have religious friends (it would be difficult not to) and there are many, a majority perhaps, of kind and compassionate religious people in the world. Also, he has lovely handwriting.

I and Me

A plan of great cunning, I guess, would be to introduce myself now. As the little ‘About me' bit at the side suggests I am of the human sub-sect ‘nerd’. Admiral f’Articus Quackington is one of several internet pseudonyms I use. “Arty” is my most commonly used, as it’s nice and neutral, the ‘John Smith’ of the forums. I do play-by-post roleplaying and one of these sites I had an absurd number of characters, so was declared admiral of the character fleet. One member of the adjoining chatroom summoned ‘Quackington’ from some odd region of her warped and mysterious brain hence Admiral Quackington. I am ocasionally the Cheshire Twat... and occasionally the Mad Twatter as Ms. Morbius is beautifully lacking in maturity and I tweet a lot (the Twitter feed to the right is a role-play’s Twitter technically, however I run it and my usual shit comes out in droves with the occasional drop of site related stuff).

It would be fair to say that I am somewhat obsessed with Doctor Who. My stack of Doctor Who DVDs is edging on three foot tall. Excluding Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy’s years, I have a somewhat encyclopaedic knowledge of Who. Oddly, while I can remember every episode of Doctor Who I have ever watched, my memory is generally crap. I never excelled academically. I was brilliant in class but fell to pieces in exams. And I mean full scale panic attacks, headaches and vomiting.

Politically, I’m a Scottish Green Party supporter but I spend an awful lot of time arguing with more conservative friends over the Scottish Socialist Party and the Communist Party of Scotland, who I do not support but I prefer to, say, the Liberal Democrats. Scottish National Party would be my second choice to the Greens, though I disagree strongly with their decision to support Donald Trump’s golf course development which drove me away (my father always claims Alex Salmond, while an excellent politician and better for the country than most, will do anything for a ride in a helicopter...). 

Religiously... I’m not. My mother was brought up in a family that has been fiercely agnostic/atheistic for a few generations, my father is a ‘Presbyterian atheist’. I grew up with various religious books around, merely because my family are huge readers. That probably helped with the ‘God is bollocks’ attitude I’ve always had. The King James Bible was sandwiched between The Lord of The Rings trilogy and a book of Scottish poetry. I'll label myself an antireligious, anticlerical humanist. And Pastafarian Pythonist...

I work for whatever will take me currently - babysitting, helping move furniture and the odd lighting/sound gig when I'm lucky. Fingers crossed for working in video-tape editing once I've completed university.

That’s me. Apologies for going on.

*kicking puppies may sound cruel, but Border Terriers are remarkably hardy...

Sherlock: Quick Note

Thoroughly looking forward to the BBC's Sherlock (Series 2). Irene Adler will be making an appearance and The Hound of the Baskervilles has been updated and written by Mark Gatiss. He just posted this picture via Twitter:

Sherlock and the second part of Doctor Who Series 6 will be on in the Autumn, the further Americanised (I am keeping an open mind, I am keeping an open mind) Torchwood in the summer. Good end of year. Spiffy. Time to go set up for the mid-series finale now though.

Going to see X-Men: First Class with my sister tomorrow with my sister. Looking forward to it despite the hideous lack of Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen.