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Thursday, 31 December 2009

Audio: "The Life of Our Lord"

The "Classic Tales" podcast on iTunes recently featured "The Life of Our Lord", as written by Charles Dickens for his children. It's worth a listen.

Download it here

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Age-inappropriate tweeness is grating

I was scanning Twitter, as I do, when I came across a user. I won't name her, as I'm not trying to humiliate her, just to make an observation. I have removed all identifiers, all @s, to leave this:



There were 10 more pages of this, but I have spared you.

" *giggle* ". That's right up there with "teehee" and "swoon" for words that are funny used in deliberate irony and just... terrifying when used without. It's as if one of Barbie's or Marilyn Monroe's more vapid incarnations had come to life.

I don't know this woman, so she could be extremely bright and personable and charming. But she writes " *giggle* " in her Tweets, as well as a number of "I'm so blond!" references... this disturbs me on many levels.

The stereotype of the dumb blonde is perpetuated in humour (my uncle, married to a blonde, sends me numerous blonde jokes), reality TV, Hollywood (both on-and off-screen), the porn industry, etc etc... but should women be contributing to it?

It bothers me that someone who otherwise seems quite open to new experiences, is coordinated and organised, speaks in complete sentences... is oblivious to the fact that she sometimes presents herself to the world as a bimbo. And I'm sure she's not!

Anyway, something to think about, or perhaps for me to lighten up. Teehee.

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SpatSolver - the ultimate way to defuse a fight

This is freakin' hilarious:


YouTube link

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Sunday, 27 December 2009

Bad Mental Health Day

I'm very comfortable around cultures & new people. When my head is working properly, I'm very social & love learning new things. That's when Good Brain is in control.

This morning, a Japanese student (who's been staying with my cousin in Sydney) arrived to stay here for the week. My folks picked him up. So I get up around 11:00, knowing I'm having a Bad Mental Health Day but psyching myself up to meet this guy anyway...

My mum rings: "we've got extra people for lunch". She warns me, which is good. My parents came back from church with our new boarder and two more Japanese students.

Bad Brain freaks out - they're Japanese, all trim and neat and fastidious and polite; I'm fat and gross and will make them feel ill. Bad Brain doesn't make much sense, but still refuses to go upstairs.



So I'm effectively HIDING in my own house, from normal interesting people.

Some days I really really hate Bad Brain.

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formspring.me

Ask me anything http://formspring.me/EarleyDaysYet

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Seriously, Catholics.

Excuse me a moment - just adjusting my helmet before the windmill-tilting commences.

'Dead boy has miraculous powers'
A SYDNEY couple believes their son - "hand-picked by God" - could be Australia's first male saint.

Mike Tannous died three years ago but a mysterious oil that weeps from the walls of his bedroom has been hailed by his parents, George and Lina, as having helped heal dozens of people,...

[...]

"Mike is a messenger between us and God. He has healed so many people," Mrs Tannous said.

[...]

"Our boy is a saint. This is him talking to us, talking to other people," [Mr Tannous] said.

[...]

Meanwhile, Mother MacKillop is being credited with playing a part in the successful separation of conjoined Bangladeshi twins Trishna and Krishna [...].

The girls' carer Moira Kelly said she believed her prayers to Mother MacKillop helped with the surgery.

"Mary MacKillop has certainly, I believe, played a big role in this," Ms Kelly said.


Seriously, Catholics. God must have his head in his hands, muttering "how did they possibly interpret things this way?!?"

I have never understood the Catholic mindset about saints, about praying to dead humans as if they were in fact God.

This boy is dead, and his parents should have let him go long ago. Mary MacKillop is long dead, and how she can possibly be credited with helping out in a highly technical, excruciatingly difficult, modern surgery... well, it just baffles me. If you want to put healing, or success in the face of incredible odds, down to a miracle, then at least MENTION God.

And - loudly and blatantly - give credit to the surgeons, even if you ascribe their talent to God: if I'd spent 20 years honing my skills, I think I'd be justifiably peeved if you suggested the only reason I hadn't killed my patients was because of a dead lady.

Be you Catholic (="High Anglican"-Mary), Anglican, Methodist, 1st Avenue Church of Christ The Blessed Redeemer, Amish, Pentecostal or Southern Independent Baptist, the same principle applies: either God performed a miracle, or no miracle occurred. God does not communicate via knocks on the table, ouija boards, tarot cards or oil seeping out of people's walls. Or, for Heaven's sake, on bloody TOAST.



(scary owner alert)(image from AllThingsSD)


Just... stop it. Stop confusing the secular world into thinking we're all spiritualist nutters. Stop praying to people who were no more or less divine than you or I. Stop letting the Catholic church place its 8 layers of access between you and God.

If I may quote Martin Luther himself:
Article XXI
Of the Worship of the Saints
_______________

[cf. Confutatio Pontificia]

Of the Worship of Saints they teach that the memory of saints may be set before us, that we may follow their faith and good works, according to our calling, as the Emperor may follow the example of David in making war to drive away the Turk from his country; For both are kings. But the Scripture teaches not the invocation of saints or to ask help of saints, since it sets before us the one Christ as the Mediator, Propitiation, High Priest, and Intercessor. He is to be prayed to, and has promised that He will hear our prayer; and this worship He approves above all, to wit, that in all afflictions He be called upon, 1 John 2, 1: If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, etc.


Rant over. Carry on.

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Saturday, 19 December 2009

Quote - old age







Grandpa Simpson said:
I used to be "with it"... then they changed what "it" was. Now, what I'm with isn't "it", and what's "it" seems weird and scary.


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Friday, 11 December 2009

Steve Bloom - BENEATH THE SURFACE - SOUTH AFRICA IN THE SEVENTIES







From SteveBloom.com, this piece on street photography during the apartheid era in South Africa:

BENEATH THE SURFACE - SOUTH AFRICA IN THE SEVENTIES

1976 was a critical time in South Africa's history. The first real cracks in the Apartheid system of racial segregation appeared when black school children took to the streets to protest against new laws which were introduced to give them an inferior education system. The authorities cracked down ruthlessly, killing and wounding many. It was a time of realisation: the beginning of the end of white complacency and black defeatism.

Steve Bloom took to the streets and the townships, photographing people at this pivotal moment in history. Some of the pictures, edgy and fleeting, capture the tension and excitement of the time. Others, such as portraits of down-and-outs, show the utter despair of people under Apartheid. Bloom managed to capture the emotional essence of the moment South Africa began to experience unstoppable, real dissent. The portfolio contains images of dark humour, irony and sadness. The photographs are deeply personal, revealing the alienation of people as they went about their daily lives. Rather than photograph the obvious signs of Apartheid, Bloom caught people in their most private moments, acknowledging that all the peoples of South Africa were ultimately victims of Apartheid.

In 1977 Steve Bloom travelled to London where he allowed The International Defence and Aid Fund (under the auspices of the United Nations) to exhibit and publish the photographs internationally. After the fall of Apartheid, the pictures were withdrawn from circulation, and only a few vintage silver gelatine prints remain.

In 2009 Steve Bloom resurrected the negatives, and began printing a selection of about eighty images. Many of the recently printed photographs lay in boxes for 33 years and have not been published or seen before. The old scratched negatives are being restored, and the full portfolio should be ready for public viewing by January 2010. A selection can be seen here.


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Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Pregnant woman held hostage, cut open

From HuffPo - Cops: Woman Held Pregnant Woman Hostage, Tried To Cut Out Unborn Baby:

Once [in the apartment], ... Deramous bound the woman, who was in her third trimester. Days later, the woman escaped after Deramous tried to cut the unborn baby from her body, Reedy said.

"She bound the victim's hands and proceeded to try to cut the victim's abdomen to try to get the baby out," she said. "They believe she wanted the victim's baby."

[...]

When police found Adams her "abdomen was cut and her intestines, stomach and placenta were exposed," according a police report. In the apartment, officers found bloody towels and a bowl with water and washcloths on a bedroom floor. They also found a box cutter and some razor blades, which they believe Deramous used to cut Adams, Reedy said.


Burn 'em all.

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Facebook SNAFUs, via HuffPo

These are just a sample of the worst - and funniest - Facebook SNAFUs, from Huffington Post:





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Doggy Christmas

We put down the mat for the Christmas tree ... I think the dog thinks we've cleared furniture and put this great new bed down, just for him:



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Saturday, 5 December 2009

A Tweetie trick

I use Tweetie on the iPhone for Twitter, & I have just discovered a useful Easter egg type of thing.

Most Twitterers use URL shorteners, in order to fit into the 140 character limit - the problem with that is that often you don't know what you're clicking on.


Swiping across this listing produces:


Then:


And wait a sec:


The destination link appears.

Maybe everyone already knew this and eyes are being rolled... but I'm pleased I found it!

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Friday, 4 December 2009

Animal Conflict (graphic images)

This is one of a series of photos by Steve Bloom, presented by the Telegraph.



The eye of a lion peers out from the inside of a dead elephant in Savuti, Botswana
Picture: STEVE BLOOM / BARCROFT MEDIA



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Location:Brisbane, Australia

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Burdens




“Anyone can carry his burden, however hard, until nightfall. Anyone can do his work, however hard, for one day. Anyone can live sweetly, patiently, lovingly, purely, till the sun goes down. And this is all life really means.”

—Robert Louis Stevenson
(1850-1894); Essayist, Poet, Novelist



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Sunday, 29 November 2009

Very funny picture

Via CuteOverload.com - back story here:
EXTREME EYEBALL POWSCHES!
Picture 008Picture 009

A Year's Twitterings

This is my Tweet Cloud, taken from a year's Tweets:


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The Cutest Video Of All Time. Period.

From the Huffington Post:



The Cutest Video Of All Time. Period.

That's right, I'm throwing down. If you don't whole-heartedly agree that this is the cutest thing you've ever seen then yell at me in the comments. I challenge you to watch this and not make one "awww" sound or have your face contort into that weird face people get when they see cute things.


Thursday, 26 November 2009

2010 Reading Challenge

The Reading Adventures blog is hosting the Terry Pratchett 2010 Reading Challenge.



I almost feel bad for entering this, since I've read everything Terry Pratchett has written, and since I read ridiculously quickly, but hey! who could give up the title of "Death's Apprentice"?!?
The challenge will start from 1 December 2009 and run through to 30 November 2010. There are several different levels of participation for you to choose from:

1-3 books - Cashier at Ankh-Morpork Mint
4-5 books - Guard of the City Watch
6-8 books - Academic at the Unseen University
9-10 books - Member of Granny Weatherwax's Coven
10-12 books - Death's Apprentice

You can either be reading the books for the first time, rereading, or even watching the TV adaptations if you like! As long as everyone has fun I will be happy! Please also do not feel limited to only reading the Discworld books as any books by Terry Pratchett will count for this challenge.


Full details, as well as links to books etc, on the Reading Adventures website.


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Oops

I'm listening to this iTunes U lecture series:



It's a Civil War history course, and it's superb stuff - I'm learning a lot. But...

In this episode, the lecturer is comparing "letters from the front" from the Civil and Iraq wars. He reads out a series of emails from an infantryman stationed in Iraq, then says, "that soldier was killed [...] by an IUD".

Uh... No, Yale history professor. Dictionary.com and MSNBC.com will help us out here:








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Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Daily Quote


logo
spacer
quote of the day
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"Let us tenderly and kindly cherish, therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write."

—John Adams
(1735-1826); 2nd U.S. President

The values we live by are worth more
when we pass them on.


Monday, 23 November 2009

Fry on blog comments

From Stephen Fry:
Whenever I read a blog I do not let my eye drop below half the screen in case I accidentally hit the bits where the comments reside. Of all the stinking, sliding, scuttling, weird, entomological creatures that inhabit the floor of the internet, those comments on blogs are the most unbearable, almost beyond imagining.


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Taiwanese cuisine?

Warning! NSF Work, Animal Lovers or The Squeamish

This poor fish has had its body deep fried but is still alive. The diners laugh and poke at it to make it gasp for air while eating it. I do feel ill after watching this.


Sunday, 22 November 2009

"Merry Christmas", or "Happy Holidays"?

The Telegraph has posted an article on Christmas.

Shutting Office Over Christmas Is Indirect Discrimination Against Other Religions

By Martin Beckford

Non-Christians have to use up their annual leave to celebrate their own religious holidays and so may resent the fact that all staff are given time off over the festive period, it is claimed.

[...]

The group says there is no reason for companies to avoid celebrating Christmas for fear of offending minority faiths, although it advises putting up “seasonal” decorations in workplaces instead of religious ones.

[...]

Its new guide to the main event in the Christian calendar states: “There is no need to panic about Christmas at work.”

It includes a spoof series of emails from an HR director to staff about a Christmas party, in which she struggles to avoid upsetting Jews, Muslims, alcoholics, homosexuals, the obese and vegetarians by catering for their varied needs.

The five-page guide also shows a cartoon of a white man looking embarrassed as he asks a Sikh colleague: “What do you and your family have planned over the erm… non-religious-specific day off in winter?”

It states: “The Christmas we know today is also built on many other traditions of mid winter celebration and some argue that playing down its religious significance can avoid upsetting or alienating non-Christians.

“The challenge of appearing ‘politically correct’ has led some to the view that imposing a Christian festival on modern multi-cultural Britain is inappropriate.”

But it points out that even Britain’s equality watchdog believes denying Britain’s Christian heritage can be bad for “community relations”.

It goes on: “Many employers display Christmas decorations in the workplace and send Christmas cards, emails etc to employees, customers and others.

“There is no need to stop on grounds of religion or belief, although – unless your organisation has a strong Christian culture or ethos – it may be more sensitive to use seasonal rather than religious imagery.

[...]

It goes on: “Because the Christmas season includes a number of public holidays many employers will close their operations for those days, or for a longer period.

“This may leave non-Christians feeling disadvantaged, since some may have to take holiday to participate in their own religious festivals.

“An extended Christmas closedown may therefore indirectly discriminate on the ground of religion or belief so employers should be clear as to the reasons why it is necessary which might include cost savings where the majority of staff will want to take holiday and costs can be saved by closing down completely.”

However the guide tells employers whose organisations cannot shut down over Christmas, such as emergency services or utility firms, should not worry about making Christians come in to work.

It states that “tribunals have dismissed the notion that Christians have any privilege for time off for religious reasons”.


So... tone down Christmas so as not to offend or "indirectly discriminate against" members of other religions, but feel free to ACTIVELY discriminate against Christians if you want to?

Makes perfect sense.

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Policeman v friendly cat



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ZOMG OBESITY EPIDEMIC

Fat college kids threatened: Take PE or don't graduate

This is insane. If it was just about health, the college would have to ban tobacco and alcohol as well, but no: this is about obesity, and therefore everyone else can feel all sanctimonious about it.

People make bad lifestyle choices - it's hardly within the college's remit to force people to exercise. Frankly, if I was a student there, I can't think of a better way to goad me into making a huge public nuisance of myself.

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Quote

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Worst Seduction Attempt Ever

While reading the post 3 Ways To Not-Pick-Up by @tremendousnews , I was inspired to tell this tale of the most insane pick-up attempt I personally have ever experienced.

It's New Year's Eve, London, 1999. (Not technically the start of the new millennium, but I digress.)

I've just been home (Australia) for a visit, so I am flat stony broke and unable to join all my London friends who are going to Paris. Yes, I am in a tiny cottage on the edge of Tooting/Croydon, alone, on the night of the biggest communal party London will ever see. "Right," I say to myself, "you are NOT watching the fireworks on TV and then crying yourself to sleep. Get sexy and get out there!"

"Dressing sexy" is a relative term in December in London, especially if you are over 25 and don't drink and are therefore unable to pretend you're not freezing your tits off -- but I dutifully get out the cleavage shirt, slap some lippy on, add 3 layers for warmth and out I go.

I still don't understand the mental gymnastics that allowed me to blithely ignore the "violent claustrophobia in crowds" thing I have, but it kicked in as soon as I stepped into The City. Being a short-arse doesn't help, as I generally can't see where I am or where the trouble's brewing. Deep breath, decide to head for Big Ben and I'm away.

Some 45 minutes later, streaming sweat and muttering imprecations in staccato bursts of available air, I get onto Westminster Bridge. It's WAY less crowded than the river bank, but still three-deep humanity line the sides, so I stake out a spot in the middle, with half an hour to go. Yay, me! I meet a group of American tourists and they pretend to include me while I pretend I'm not bothered either way.

5... 4... 3... 2... 1... Big Ben chimes it in



***** HAPPY NEW YEAR!! *****

Barges lining the river explode into incredible synchronised fireworks displays -- for 17 minutes, pickpockets worked the millions-strong crowd stands with its collective face upturned, united by the artistry and spectacle of the lights. The last of the fireworks fades... the beast gives a giant sigh... and it turns as one and surges for the end of the bridge, breaking into disparate clumps of people hurrying to get to the Tube first to go home.

It's impossible to stand against this unified force - I stumble, catch myself, think a wry thought about mob dynamics and move with everyone else, stopping and starting as the groups surge and jostle and swell around the slower members of the herd and then finally stop. Under Big Ben. In the rain. With people shoving and pushing from behind until we have reached an impasse. No one can move forward, no one at the back is retreating. 150,000 people standing packed together as if we were on the Tube in peak hour.

Hands drawn to my chest, taking impromptu dance steps as the mass of people eddies and sways, I grimace apologetically at the person I jab with my elbow, turning until I am in a semi-sustainable position. Grit my teeth. Wait. Wait. Wait. More people at the back think we're playing and pile in, pushing us closer together.

We wait. And wait.

Angry voices are being raised: "what's going on?"

A child faints and is passed overhead, hand over hand, out of the crush.

Another.

A woman begins shrieking, "let me out! I have to get out!" By this time I have my eyes closed trying to be Zen, but I feel you, sister.

A scuffle in the near distance, then a man shouts, "move WHERE, ya fuckers?!?"

Jostling, pushing, sweaty, close, damp wool, rising panic... my knees buckle and I would fall but I can't. I'm going to throw up, I say to the sky. The woman who is face-to-face with me says, "oh, please don't", but I can't answer her. Someone passes a plastic bag overhead and the woman in front of me tips her head back as far as she can and I vomit. It's an odd angle, but I literally can't bend. I ask if anyone knows the time -- it's 12:50 am.

Only half an hour? It feels an eternity.

Time churns on. More people faint.

We wait. And wait. And wait.

A siren sounds from in front of us and an authoritative voice yells, "let the ambulance through!"

We stare at each other, baffled - do the police think we're standing here for fun? More shoving, pushing, shouting, but this time it's the police clearing a path by force.

Now I'm standing on people's feet, I'm staggering, everyone's trying not to lose their footing. Somehow, the ambulance inches in. I realise I've been crying for some time, the panic looking for an outlet. We lean, now, since only half the crowd still have their feet on the ground. I still don't know what the police were thinking that night.

Finally, FUCKING FINALLY, the crowd begins to move. The crush eases, and we're able to walk. It's 2:45am - we've been there for almost two and a half hours.

My legs like jelly, I lean against the ambulance for a moment before I can begin to move, with the vehicle on my right, towards some sort of open ground. I take about 5 steps before I am goosed from behind.

A really bad night for that, shithead. I turn with my fist clenched and I hit him, as hard as hours of pent-up aggression, fear and adrenaline (as well as all my not-inconsiderable weight) can manage.

Tosser goes down like a sack of spuds, back against the ambulance and he slides to the ground. I stand over him, shaking wildly, and scream at him wordlessly. Then I shuffle away.

Four hours later (walk, train, bus, other bus, other bus, walk) I get home.

I am never celebrating New Year's Eve again.


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