Monday, January 28, 2008

TV Boobs

Never watch Extreme Makeover. Did that really need saying? I was innocently perched on the sofa this morning with a couple of hot buttered crumpets and a mug of tea not paying much attention to the TV when a "top cosmetic surgeon" suddenly appeared talking about breast reduction surgery (having just performed three - or is that six - for three women). This is what he said "breast reduction surgery is one of the most satisfying surgeries you can perform because the patient wakes up and suddenly they're not handicapped any more..." Yes ladies apparently larger than average boobs are a "handicap".

Better go and clean the crumpet and tea splatters off my TV screen now...

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Slightly Serious Funny

Not suitable for those of a nervous disposition. From The Onion - a very funny spoof video that, for me anyway, highlights the huge double-standard in our media: the acceptance of the misogyny inherent in the pornography that is seen as normal and mainstream, versus the outrage we can see over a single word when it suits the stations to focus on it.

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Helen Fisher, Anti-Feminist of the Year (So Far)

Helen Fisher is not only a feature of the BBC website, but also apparently the economic summit in Davos. Shocking to discover her anti-feminist drivel is being circulated so widely.

She starts well, claiming she is "definitely not a feminist", in which case she should presumably reject all the advantages feminism has garnered for her - like the vote, the right to work and the chance to express her (wrong) opinions all over the place.

Then the BBC informs us that her word is FACT. "[this] is not psycobabble. She bases her findings on archaeological evidence, MRI brain scans, genetics and large-scale surveys of how men and women behave"

She's telling people how to hire people to work for them. "On average, women gather more data, consider the context, are intuitive, have a sympathising mind and think more long-term. Ms Fisher calls it "web thinking". Men, on the other hand, are more focused, think linear, focus on rules and the short-term - "step thinking"."

Sure on average that may (or may not) be true. But that isn't the way you should hire people, based on averages. On average men are taller than women. But that doesn't mean we should hire only male firefighters, we should hire any man or woman tall enough and capable enough to do the job effectively.

And if you don't believe the rubbish about "testosterone makes you think differently" she's got proof: "
Research shows that film scripts written by women are more complex and have more ambiguous endings than those written by men."

Which would also constitute (in my world) conclusive proof that the barriers to entry in the world of movie script-writing are higher for women than men.

Here's how wrong her analysis is, she at one point says "[some rubbish theory]
may be the reason why women are better talkers", ignoring the fact that recent research shows women do not talk more than men, we just get ignored more.

And when she describes the male-female differences, a lot of them sound to me like subtle "digs" at women:

"Men can have tunnel vision, women may fail to get to the point."

So men are focussed and women stupid?

"Women find it difficult to counter aggression. When men push back, it earns them the respect of other men."

So women can't handle aggression and men thrive on it. Fuck off!

"When women apologise, they are not really sorry. For men it's a serious affair, a perceived weakening of their status."

Women are fickle and don't mean what they say. Men aren't. Excuse me while I barf here.

Her overall point is you need to have some men and some women on your team to benefit from the two utterly distinct ways of thinking and operating. But there are more than two distinct ways of thinking and operating, we all know creative people, problem-solvers, diligent workers, inspiring people and people with great social skills. The balance of which of those you need for your team depends on what you're trying to achieve.

Expecting women to think one way and men another does two things:

1) It prevents women (and men) being considered for roles they may be more than capable of because assumptions have been made about their ability based on their gender.

2) It throws open the door for prejudice and justifies it.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Your Help Needed Twice (Please!)

Firstly I am in the final of a brilliant competition (hurray!). The Hackney Empire New Act Of The Year Final! And I'd love it if you came along and supported me. You'll have to buy tickets online for this one at £12.50 each. The night features 14 up and coming new acts, one of which is me, plus Arthur Smith as compere. It's Sat Feb 2nd and I really hope to see you there.

Secondly I am opening a new show in London THIS SUNDAY! The pub are in two minds about whether this will take off so we need great audiences for the first few weeks to show them how much enthusiasm there is out there. So I need you to (a) come if you can and (b) bring your friends or forward this info to your friends who may be able to come. Here are the official details:
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Comedy Manifesto is a brand new political comedy night in Angel this Sunday (27th Jan) and every sunday. It features a bunch of very cool comics talking hilariously about politics and participating in a news-based quiz - think Mock The Week or Have I Got News... only better, and live, with you there!
At Camden Head Pub, Camden Passage, Angel, Islington. Doors 8pm, show 8.30pm. £7 or £5 if you mention Cru-blog, or for the first week only FREE if you bring two friends (who still get in for a fiver each!)
This week's show will feature a mixture of stand-up and banter with me as host, panelists Stewart McCure, David Whitney and David Mulholland (that's one English, one Aussie, one Scot and one Yank - so we should have a fair range of opinions...!) and fantastic headliner Hils Barker who you can read about here.
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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Beauvoir Century

As planned I was on BBC Radio Four Woman's Hour today talking about Simone De Beauvoir. I thought it all went very well, and thanks to those people who got in touch to say that they heard and enjoyed it. You can listen to it on "Listen Again" here.

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Tesco Nappy Rash

Thanks to Katie Toms on the London Feminist Network for alerting me to this one. Tesco, for 3-6 month olds.

Remember when Dove told us "Talk to your daughter, before the beauty industry does"? Looks like the myths about female beauty are being foisted on kids well before they can even talk.

If this makes you just a teeny teeny bit mad you can write to:

Tesco Customer Service
PO Box 73
Baird Avenue
Dryburgh Industrial Estate
Dundee
DD1 9NF

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Sunday, January 20, 2008

Maths and More Maths

The Qualification and Curriculum Authority (who I had never heard of until today) have announced that they think Maths A-Level is too easy and a further qualification should be introduced to stretch brighter students.

Now firstly the solution to exams getting easier should surely be to make them harder and extend the curriculum, not introduce new extra exams.

Secondly there already is a qualification called Further Maths A-Level (I should know, I've got one). So it sounds like they might as well be saying "cutting a whole lawn with nail scissors takes ages, there should be a machine with rotating blades and a small engine that does this job...".

Finally I think the trouble really with maths is that everything else is being dumbed down. Maths is about thinking and modern school curricula leave so little room for thinking that by the time students get as far along their educational careers as the sort of maths that requires thinking, they've long since been taught not to think.

The way to prevent dumbing-down in education is to nationalise the exam boards. The very idea that different exam boards compete to supply exams in schools is ridiculous. Schools, under pressure themselves to beat their own previous exam pass rates inevitably shop around for the easiest exams. Certainly I was bored senseless at school, when I wasn't being bullied by the other students or vicitmised by the teachers.

Now the law in the UK says:

"The parent of every child of compulsory school age shall cause him to receive efficient full-time education suitable-

(a) to his age, ability and aptitude, and

(b) to any special educational needs he may have, either by regular attendance at school or otherwise.
"

Certainly the schools I went to (which were supposed to be the better ones in the area) were not efficient, at all, we learnt the same things over and over again, long after most of us had memorised them. And if you consider me (a) being smart for my age, well ahead of the rest of the class most of the time, and (b) being an emotional disaster due to the abuse I was getting at home, you could definitely claim the places weren't suitable for my ability, aptitude and special needs. Which made me wonder if it might not be technically illegal to send your child to one of the particularly bad state schools in the UK...?

Homeschooling is certainly on the rise and has benefits for those who have the time and energy to do it. Sadly it also has benefits for those who wish to indoctrinate their kids with religious nonsense/fascist views/etc.

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Friday, January 18, 2008

Simone at 100

Well as some of you will know the 100year anniversary of Simone De Beauvoir's birth is coming up and your favourite blogger (me, that is) has been invited to join the team on BBC Radio Four's Women's Hour next Tuesday (10am GMT, available online for those outside the UK) to discuss her legacy and relevance today. If any regular Cru-bloggers feel Ms De Beauvoir's work has affected their life, I would love to hear about it in comments. I'll post at greater length at some point.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

Me Live On The Radio Tonight!

Just a quick one. I'm on BBC Radio Five Live sometime between 11.45pm and 12.30am (GMT) tonight talking about chivalry. I think you can get it on the internet if you are non-UK based. They are sending a posh car any minute now to pick me and I am hoping my neighbours have their curtains open...!

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You Shouldn't Have, Thanks!

There's nothing so flattering for a blogger than having the author of a mainstream media piece that you've criticised respond in person, and run out of things to say so quickly that she resorts to unfounded personal insults. So thanks very much Karen Barichievy. I criticised you here. And you countered here. You answered only one of my points - arguing that you did in fact know more than one rich guy, and that they are in fact ALL horrible. But as I mention in my piece I've met nice rich guys, I'm friends with some. If all the ones you met were horrid to you then (1) maybe you were very unlucky. Or (2) maybe they were only horrid to you - perhaps because you entered the situation with such a negative attitude. Or (3) maybe you just go for the wrong kind of guy. Actually I might even suspect that (4) maybe you assumed the nice guys were poor and avoided them.

You don't bother to address any of my other points but you do seem to know so much about me...

"... one rather po-faced Guardianista calling herself Cruella..."
If you listen to my podcast you'll see I read the Independent, and usually the Mail or the Express to see what else is in the press. My facial expression, like that of so many people I know, varies throughout the day. I try to keep "po" down to 5 or 10% of the time.

"...living in a vegan commune in Archway..."
Is there one? How do I apply?

"...the whole ungroomed, too-intellectual-to-brush-my-hair look..."
Ha! Nice, good image. Doesn't quite correspond with the photo you can actually see on my blog but I don't care. I might stop brushing my hair...

...when you get round to actually responding to my points Karen! Tut tut tut.

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News Podcast 17th Jan

As usual extra material by David Mulholland.

Click here to get your own player.
Text:

Science

A group of scientists have created what they claim is the “darkest ever” material. They say it is the closest thing yet to the ideal perfect absorber, which absorbs light perfectly at all angles and over all wavelengths. They have not revealed how the material was manufactured but it is expected that a key ingredient was Max Clifford’s soul.

And in Anti-Science

The church of scientology is trying to suppress a video of Tom Cruise talking about how wonderful Scientology is. Now you know you’ve really flipped out when the scientologists are embarrassed about you. A personal adviser has allegedly suggested to Tom that if he’s too wacky for the scientologists he might consider joining Mike Huckabee’s presidential campaign.

Foreign Affairs

The war in Iraq may have cost us a fortune in taxes, inflation and the cost of oil but there is one commodity that has been getting cheaper and cheaper: heroin! Turns out that when you needlessly attack a nation and turn it in to a recruiting paradise for Al Qaeda, they generally make the effort to show up. And with them they bring the technology to grow opium poppies. So next time you hear someone complain that the government is doing almost nothing to help the 40,000 heroin users in the country, remind them about the positive side of the war on terror.

Finance

A new scandal is emerging over the selling of Premium Protection Insurance or PPI. Apparently people are being charged a fortune for insurance against being unable to make payments on their loans. Further the insurance may not pay out if you lose your job or become ill. So i.e. the only two reasonable reasons why you might be unable to pay. On the upside if you’re abducted by aliens you should be able to claim.

Newspapers

Sun owner, Rupert Murdock has said he thinks the paper devotes too much space to celebrity news. Editor Rebekah Wade responded saying “He can’t understand why we devote so many pages to Big Brother”. Rebekah, no-one has ever understood that. Jade Goody’s mum probably picks up the Sun and goes “I’ve seen enough of Jade this week, where’s the real news?”.

The Daily Express meanwhile ran with a shock horror front page story claiming that a report shows British taxpayers money is being spent paying for “hate-based” education programs in Palestine. Except of course that if you read to the end of the story, the report doesn’t say anything of the sort. The money we send in aid is spent on doctors and teachers, water and electricity supplies and on supporting refugees. What in fact they are claiming is that funding positive activities frees up funds which COULD be spent in more sinister areas.

Now I’m not all that sure that the Palestinian government has a great deal of free funds to spend as they like. While we may be paying for a few doctors, I hardly think there’s a comprehensive system of high quality public healthcare in the region. So to describe any money they have as “freed-up” does seem odd. Also a policy of not sending aid to such places seems to me a bit like saying if we stopped buying vegetables for children, they’d spend their own money on them instead of buying sweets.

Brilliantly though after a more or less 100% fictional article clearly designed to generate hatred for Palestinians and for governments who try to help those overseas they finish with a phone in number. Seriously, it says this: Should British taxes go to Muslim fanatics? Yes? Dial 0901 031 1501.

Sport

Fabio Capello is being investigated on charges of tax fraud. Clearly there’s been a terrible mix up. I mean tax fraud is the kind of crime a clever person would commit. Footballers are usually restricted to getting drunk on alcopops and driving a half a million pound car into a bollard.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Podcast will resume tomorrow

I was hoping to be back with a podcast today but too much else to do. Back tomorrow.

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Monday, January 14, 2008

News Podcast 14th Jan

Today's news podcast with, as usual, extra material by David Mulholland.

Click here to get your own player.


Text:

Health

Scientists say they have used stem cells to make the stripped-out shell of a heart beat again. The lead researcher on the case said Mrs Thatcher didn’t feel a thing.

Also in health Gordon Brown has done something sensible – he’s copied one of Dr Evan Harris’s #hallelujah ideas and proposed that instead of having an opt-in organ donor system, we switch to an opt-out one. This could potentially help 7,000 people awaiting a donor organ in the UK. The Express responded in horror with the headline “Outcry at plan to strip organs without consent”, failing to mention that the organs in question would mainly be coming from dead people, not just those who’ve fallen asleep on the bus.

Immigration

A new application on Facebook allows users to take the Britishness test which many immigrants face when they apply for citizenship of the UK. The average Briton, it emerges, fails the test. So presumably in the future those who pass will be promptly deported while those who fail will be welcomed with open arms. So I logged on. And failed it. What a stupid test. Here’s a sample question: What proportion of first-time voters used their vote in the 2001 elections? So what they’re asking is: How disillusioned are young people with the state of politics in this country? Is it (a) very, (b) very very or (c) I’m under 24 and I don’t give a shit what the answer to this question is.

Another question asks which minority ethnic group is the most numerous in the UK and gives the possible answers Black Carribean, Pakistani, Indian and good grief how should I know we don’t have them round our way.

Amazingly not included on the test was a question on the recipe for Britain’s favourite dish – the chicken tikka masala.

I personally think we could do away with the whole test in exchange for simply sitting applicants in a room and bringing out a plate of Jaffa Cakes. Anyone not seen eating at least three clearly isn’t British. This would keep out the diabetics too. That is a joke by the way, before anyone starts writing in.

Sport

Para-olympian Oscar Pistorus has been told he won’t be allowed to enter the Beijing Olympics as an able-bodied athlete. The runner has two artificial feet which actually work better than ordinary feet for running. The ruling is bad news for Professor Stephen Hawkin who had hoped to enter the marathon in a Nissan Micra.

Papers

The Daily Express has a lengthy piece today about how women love dark and brooding men. The first part of the article is about Daniel Day-Lewis who allegedly scared another actor in his latest film, although that sounds like one of those rubbish stories that are just written to help publicise the film. Still fair enough. Daniel Day-Lewis, dark, brooding and sexy. The thing is then they list the other dark, brooding men that women love: Marlon Brando, ok, Jose Morinho, alright, Marco Pierre-White, maybe, Gordon Brown, no, and finally Vladimir Putin, Vladimir Putin!? Dark? His face is the colour of uncooked pastry. He makes John Major look ruddy.

On page six, the Daily Express dedicated about four column inches to the news that British troops could be in Afghanistan for, and I quote, decades, then the whole of page seven gets back to the important news that the nine millionth enquiry into the death of Princess Diana is planning to interview her butler. The remainder of the paper focuses on the shocking news that some famous people may have had sex and offers it’s readers an exclusive chance to win a caravan...

The Independent had it’s own little crack at being ridiculous in their fashion pages with an article about accessories cooing over a Chloe clutch-bag. The thing is the bag is shown being carried by a model in a see-through blouse and no bra. Here’s my fashion advice for the new season – walk around with your tits showing and no-one will notice if you’ve got a cheap handbag.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008

A Bridge Too Far

If you are a bit of a geek (and if not what are you doing on the internet on a Sunday afternoon?) you will enjoy this cool article about the world's most amazing bridges.

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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Shit Yourself Thin!

Am I the only person cynical to think that the authors of the press release behind this story were actually trying to increase sales of sugar-free gum? Apparently chewing too much of certain types of gum can cause weight loss, up to 20% of your bodymass. That would be more or less exactly the difference between, say, a normal woman and Kate Moss. So don't chew gum kids unless you want to look like a supermodel...

The truth is that sorbitol, found in many sugar-free products has a mild laxative effect. As long as you're not having very much you shouldn't notice any effects. When I was a kid though one day a lorry overturned on the motorway next to the school field (you can tell how old I am - my school had a field) and spilled hundreds of thousands of packets of Velamints (containing sorbitol) onto the road. Of course the kids hurdled the fence and collected pocketfuls of the "free sweets". The following day was the annual school trip to Colchester Castle, the capital of Roman Britain. The trip was spoiled somewhat by the fact that every child in the whole school had uncontrollable diarrhea and there was no toilet on the bus, unless you count the floor.

I'll end the description there in case anyone reading this is eating. Trust me enough sorbitol makes you lose weight, fast, in a way that you don't want to.

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How (Not) To Marry A Millionaire

This article has so much wrong with it it's hard to know where to start. But lets run in the order the article says these things.

Firstly a survey reveals 75% of women say they "would marry for money". Now that's not much of a statistic because we don't know:

1) How much money - millions? billions? a tenner?
2) How much compromise they would make for this money? Would they have to like the guy too? Fancy him?
3) How poor were they to start with? I mean sure I'd marry for money rather than watch myself and my own kids starve. Who wouldn't?

But lets go along with the number anyway. Now Karen Barichievy, our resident expert, explains that she dated a rich guy for four years. And based on her survey of, erm, one rich guy she informs us that they all don't like to go out and party. In fact "for nearly four years I had a 10pm curfew. My (now ex) banker boyfriend insisted on it.". Curfew? that ain't a boyfriend - that's a slave-owner.

She continues to expand on what all wealthy men are like based on her survey of, as I mentioned, only one such man. They have a limited sex drive, are anally retentive about household organisation and wear CK undies and Patek watches. So now you know. Then apparently they'll take you on flash holidays and ignore you in favour of chatting away on a Blackberry the whole time. Anyone think Ms Barichievy's boyfriend just didn't really like her all that much?

Eventually she realised that "such men will always love their money and their jobs more than you". Another bold conclusion on the basis of a single specimen. In defence/critique of men both rich and poor... Some poor guys might love their Playstation more than they love you, or their Internet porn. And some rich guys might love you, and you might actually be the kind of person who gives their partner enough space to have a career as well as a relationship.

Having "realised" this our unlikely heroine joined a dating agency for millionaires (against her own declared interest) and was disappointed to find that the guys she was introduced to weren't a great match for her hobbies and interests - which after all her puff about how rich guys like to be tidy and organised included "spit and sawdust pubs and camping". Except that she'd already insisted on one big criteria - she only wanted to meet millionaires. Maybe the problem was this: the average dating agency doesn't have thousands of clients - they have to introduce you to someone.

I've always thought the best plan was to make money myself, rather than trying to date it out of people. But I can sympathise with people - guys or girls - who consider it a bonus in a potential partner, who wants to be penniless? Of course Ms Barichievy knows this herself - presumably why she's writing piffle easy-to-sell articles for The Times.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Chop Chop

I mentioned briefly in my podcast on Jan 7th about the recent Which? survey that had revealed that cosmetic surgery salespeople were pressuring women in to surgery they really didn't want. Today Julie Bindel in the Guardian interviews cosmetic surgery guru Wendy Lewis and very politely refrains from pointing out that she looks kindof freaky. Not that a woman should be judged on her appearance but when one spends her life telling other women how great cosmetic surgery is - you would be forgiven a quick peek to see how well it's going for her. And Sadie Nicholas in the Daily Mail has a lengthy piece too - for some reason accompanied by a photo of a very glamourous model with dotted lines on her face - although whether that's supposed to be showing us, before, after, the ideal we're supposed to aim for or the ridiculousness of suggesting already stunning women could be put forward for surgery I do not know.

What all of the reports show is that cosmetic surgery is being sold in a false, aggressive and dangerous way. And not just a little bit, like the way double glazing people or dodgy estate agents sell things - lies, pressure, tricks. There is even a case where a saleswoman waits until a client is sedated for one lot of surgery and tries to sell her a couple more things while she is passing out. There are outright lies in the published before and after photos - which in one case are of different people. People are sold botox while they are drunk, with the procedure performed on the spot.

I'm not saying no-one should have access to surgery if they want it, that's up to them. However, we need a significantly better regulated industry. We need an end to time-sensitive discounts on surgery, bulk discounts and salespeople working on targets and bonuses. We need to regulate the qualifications needed by surgeons, the hours they can work and the complaint and problem-resolution system. We need our media to highlight the risks and downsides of surgery - such as the ones experienced by the women on this site - and sales people and adverts to be obliged to explain those risks. Given how out of control the situation is I think a cooling-off period is probably a good idea, just a couple of weeks to make sure people really want what they're being offered.

But we also need to create a society that puts less pressure on women to look "perfect" and to value themselves purely on their appearance. That means loads more "ordinary" women in the media, an end to air-brushing and an end to all that lad mag nonsense.

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News Podcast 11th Jan

As usual extra material by David Mulholland. Note that some of my podcasts have, against my wishes, been listed as "explicit" - which I kindof disagree with. I mean I do use "bad" language but to me that's different to being "explicit" which would be if you needed a box of Kleenex by the end. That shouldn't be a problem...

Click here to get your own player.

Text:

And we start today, tastefully enough, with an obituary

Sir Edmund Hillary, the first man to climb everest has died. This means that now the most famous New Zealander in the world is ... a dead bloke. The BBC Website responded with a “Have Your Say” page. I like the idea of letting the public comment on stories but they always pick the wrong stories. It never says Have Your Say: Is Gordon Brown A Cunt? Instead it’s have your say on the death of Sir Edmund Hillary. What’s to say – he climbed a mountain, now he’s dead.

Agriculture

Bird flu has been confirmed in three mute swans found in Dorset. They might have been diagnosed much sooner if they’d just told someone they were feeling ill. It’s the H5N1 strain which I think means they caught it off that little dustbin-shaped thing in star wars. The health protection agency is warning anyone who may have come into contact with a swan to come forward. You’d think you’d know wouldn’t you. I mean either you did shag the swan or you didn’t. If there’s any Bill Clinton-esque gray area over whether you and the swan were just friends, you want to stop taking all that LSD.

Politics

And yesterday’s planned love-in on nuclear power went ahead as planned. The number of reactors approved was officially “several”. And with the prospect of government subsidies not ruled out, there’s every chance we could all be paying to have our house prices thrilling boosted by the proximity of dangerous radioactive isotopes. Ministers said the companies running the plants would have to bear the full cost of storing all nuclear waste. Except that nuclear waste hangs around for ten thousand years. So if you were a responsible company you would fulfil your duty to shareholders by run the plant til it stops making money, paying huge dividends then declaring bankruptcy. And if you were an irresponsible company you’d run the plant til it stops making money, pay huge bonuses to the board and then declare bankruptcy. So it’s win-win as long as you’re on the board and you’ve got lots of stock options, like, ooh, Gordon Brown’s brother.

The other frightening thing is the way the government is acting as though approving a few nuclear power stations has somehow solved the carbon emissions crisis. Greenpeace estimates the new stations will contribute to a 4% decrease in carbon emissions by 2025. Listen ... that’s the sound of a hundred million Bangladeshis breathing a big sigh of relief.

Still in politics

And it appears not everyone is quietly screwing the public over to make a tidy buck. No Tony Blair is very loudly screwing the public over for his tidy buck. He’s taken a half-a million a year part time job with an American Investment bank. Half a million a year for a part-time job? How are his colleagues going to feel when they see him swanning out of the office at lunchtime with his Rolex clinking on his wrist.

Military Affairs

The only officer to have been charged with a crime of any sort over the Abu Ghraib debacle has been quietly cleared and sent on his way. Lt Col Steven L Jordan was the only person in any kind of position of authority to be convicted over Abu Ghraib and he was only convicted of talking about the case when it was supposed to be a secret. Now he’s been cleared even of that. And the thing is none of the papers picked up on it – I had to dig that out of the Washington Post. You listeners are pretty lucky I do such a lot of research for you.

In International Politics

George Bush has announced that he believes a peace treaty in the Middle East will be signed before he leaves office. He has such a good track record on predictions that no doubt Ladbrokes are no longer taking bets. I mean remember when he said we’d find WMD in Iraq, when he said the US army would be welcomed as liberators and when he said one little pretzel can’t hurt me.

And finally

In an important development in the on-going ten year international inquest into the death of Princess Diana it was revealed today that she once receive a nasty note.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Porn Addicts

Article on the BBC about the rise in men who are addicted to internet pornography. Not very surprising. Of course the article is all about how the men who have the addictions suffer. Not about how the women in their lives - both relationship-wise and their colleagues, friends and family members are affected. If you want to see what our easy-porn culture is doing to women take a look at the footage from Australia of women being chased by angry mobs of men shouting "get your tits out for the lads".

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News Podcast 10th Jan

Here's todays podcast, extra material by David Mulholland.

Click here to get your own player.

Text for you poor souls without earphones or speakers:

Starting with the biggest news of the day

Amy Winehouse has had her hair cut. More on that tomorrow, and every day for the next six weeks.

A very bad day for UK politics today.

Firstly the news that Schools secretary Ed Balls made something of a gaffe in the Commons when asked to list the colours of the rainbow. He apparently responded red, yellow, pink and green, purple and orange and blue when the correct answer is Why the fuck are we discussing this in the house of commons? Shouldn’t we be talking about important stuff like how to maintain the health service and how to bring peace to the middle east?

Secondly today is the day the government is going to quietly push through the formal approval for a huge slew of new nuclear power stations. It’s strange this because we’re essentially being told it’s our fault for wanting carbon emissions reduced. It’s like when you tell your mum you don’t like cabbage, hoping you’ll get extra pudding instead, but she replaces your cabbage with sprouts. We wanted fields of majestic windmills preferably all round Noel Edmonds house. Slight diversion but at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales there’s an area with a “range of opinions” on wind power and lots of celebs saying how much the planet will benefit from harnessing natural energy from the wind and in the middle is a quote from Noel Edmonds saying he thinks windmills are ugly. Ah the irony, cos I think Noel Edmonds is ugly. But I digress. The new power stations will all be built, most likely by EDF energy, a company whose media relations officer, I discovered in Private Eye this week – is Gordon Brown’s brother. Conflict of interest? What? Where? Dunno what you’re talking about.

Food

Yesterday the daily mail had a lengthy opinion piece poo-pooing campaigners against brutal battery chicken farms. Today their front page is horrified at the state of a horse farm in Buckinghamshire. The main difference between the two is that the chickens are sold in UK supermarkets while the horses are exported to be eaten by dirty French people.

Health

The front page of today’s Independent says that British dental care is the most expensive in Europe. They say the average filling in Hungary or Poland costs only £5 including x-ray, drugs and overheads while in the UK it costs £117 including x-ray, drugs and the dentist’s travel over from Hungary or Poland.

Another report in the Independent says a cloned pig whose genes were altered to make it glow green in the dark has passed on the trait to it’s young. They say the development could lead to the breeding of pigs for human transplant organs. I’m not sure that if I needed a transplant I’d want a luminous green one. Wouldn’t it keep you awake at night. Maybe it’s a solution to reducing energy usage, giving people a natural flashlight in one finger. Most frightening would be if you had an accident and needed a face transplant and woke up with a luminous pig-face. If you were the sort of person who was at risk of losing their face (I know I can never find my passport and my oyster card, usually got the face to hand though) you could keep a couple of pigs with your face pre-grown on in the garden – would sure be a talking point at dinner parties.

Education

The way in which secondary schools are measured is changing. Until last year they measured the percentage of students getting five or more Cs at GCSE. However now they have been instructed that the five GCSEs must include English, maths and science. This is to prevent the existing problem of schools boosting their performance by offering GCSEs in finger painting, making macaroni necklaces and eating play-doh.

The requirement for a science GCSE has caught out some faith schools including St Augustine’s Catholic School in Trowbridge who have seen their pass rate drop from 84% to 3%. Apparently the drawing a flow diagram of how Richard Dawkins should be burnt at the stake isn’t enough for the Cambridge Exam Board any more.

Foreign Affairs

Civil servant Derek Pasquill has been cleared of leaking damaging government documents. The information he was accused of letting slip was that the Iraq war was fuelling Muslim extremism in the UK. Luckily “stating the bloody obvious” isn’t illegal in the UK. I’m amazed it needs saying but just in case anyone doesn’t get it: Bombing the crap out of people doesn’t make them like you.

Arts

Jane Austin has been given a makeover for the cover of a book about her life. Apparently the only confirmed existing portrait of her just doesn’t give enough sizzle to shift copies. Hopefully when the impact on sales becomes apparent they’ll insist that for sleeve photos and press conferences Martin Amis wears a burqa.

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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Newsflash: Blood Not Thicker Than Water!

I nearly did something amazing yesterday*. I went to give blood. Anyway it was rather exciting - I'd filled in all the forms, had my iron test (which I only just passed, must eat more green veg and liver I think) and hopped up onto the couch. Then the nurse put the needle in my arm - I am not at all squeamish so we were chatting away at this stage - and she turned round to get some other piece of equipment. While she wasn't looking the needle flew out onto the floor and my blood started spurting across the room. I've never seen blood really spurting before - quite a sight - a neat jet that went a good metre across the hall onto the floor, the bed, the nurse's cardigan and my hand and wrist too. Really Tarantino-esque!

The nurse told me in 21 years in the blood service she's never seen that happen before. As a result she and everyone else there spent about an hour apologising, checking I was ok and feeding me tea and ginger biscuits, which felt like a bit of a cheat considering everyone else there had given a pint of blood and I'd only given about 50ml onto the floor!

Don't be put off giving blood though -it's not painful and you're very well looked after. And in the once-in-21-year chance it does go a teeny bit wrong you'll look really tough and get tons of sympathy.**

* "Do something amazing today" is the slogan used to encourage people to give blood.
** That's really my bandaged arm pictured.

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Visit the House of Commons!

I've been asked to promote a meeting next week being organised by Abortion Rights for pro-choicers in London. I'll be going myself if I'm not working - here are the details:

Public meeting January 16th 2008

Defend the Abortion Act - Campaigning for a Woman's Right to Decide


7pm for a 7.30pm start, Committee room 10, House of Commons, nearest tube Westminster

All pro-choice supporters welcome!

This public meeting will kick off the pro-choice campaigning to defeat anti-abortion amendments to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill currently in parliament and to support any opportunities to advance women’s abortion rights.

The meeting will hear a range of short contributions from invited speakers followed by time for contributions thoughts and ideas from the floor.

Speakers include:Baroness Joyce Gould; Baroness Jenny Tonge; Emily Thornberry MP; Katy Clark MP; Diane Abbott MP; Frances O'Grady, Deputy General Secretary TUC; Anni Marjoram, adviser to the Mayor of London; Alex Kemp, NUS Disabled Students' Campaign; Katherine Rake, Director Fawcett Society; Wendy Savage, Doctors for A Woman's Right to Choose on Abortion; Anne Quesney, Director Abortion Rights

Anti-abortionists opposed to women’s right to choose on abortion would like to use the government’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, currently speeding through the House of Lords, to restrict the Abortion Act. Already, Baroness Masham has tabled an amendment to restrict abortion. Other parliamentarians may try to lower the legal abortion time limit from 24 to 20 or even 13 weeks. Any such restrictions would be devastating for women and must be defeated. Pro-choice MPs are also expected to table amendments to improve the law. These should be fully supported.

Please allow plenty of time to clear security on entering the Palace of Westminster and tell the police outside Parliament that you are attending a meeting sponsored by Emily Thornberry MP
Have your say and get involved – all pro-choice supporters welcome!
The room is wheelchair accessible and has a hearing loop system.
Please let us know of any additional access requirements.




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Doing It Monkey-Style

A report on Yahoo says male monkeys "pay" for sex by grooming females (physically, not on the Internet, that is). It's being offered as evidence that prostitution has evolutionary roots. Now theres two little issues I have with this.

1. It's natural to shit in a ditch. Genocide is "natural" - chimps do it. Killing and eating your young is "natural" - polar bears in German zoos do it. Natural as defined by "an animal does it" or even "our primitive ancestors probably did it" has nothing to do with "it's a good idea" or "we should keep doing it". Which is what seems to be the author (of the piece and possibly the report)'s rather smug message.

2. How exactly is grooming parallel behaviour to paying? I could understand the implication if the male chimps gave the females food in exchange for sex. But surely grooming is more like petting. And no-one considers themselves a prostitute because they don't like to have sex without a bit of foreplay. Actually if you look at social evolution it is widely accepted that as ape social groups grew in size, chatting replaced grooming as the glue of social cohesion. So the grooming behaviour would be akin to chatting a woman up. Again talking to your sexual partners does not make you a prostitute.

The report goes on to "back up" the initial theory by pointing out that females require less grooming when there are other females around. But then maybe they just don't like all their mates watching them being chatted up. Or maybe they want to get it over with and go hang out with their female friends.

Drawing conclusions that fit your own sexist preconceptions is a real waste of time in an area of science that could really use a lot more attention.

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News Podcast 9th Jan

Here's today's podcast:

Click here to get your own player.

(As usual extra material by Mr Cru AKA David Mulholland)

Text:

And we start today for a change with a bit of sport

A number of football players have started celebrating goals by making an “A” sign with three fingers. The gesture, it was revealed, is part of an initiative called A-Star which has the motto “every child is a star”. Players making the gesture include Titus Brambles and Marcus Bent of Wigan Athletic because every child wants to be as big a star as someone who plays for Wigan. No-one knows yet if the Norwich team are participating in the movement since the gesture is only made when goals are scored.

The other thing no-one really knows is the impact of football-player led campaigns like this. As an experiment I propose we get every player in the league to drink, smoke, take drugs, gamble and gang-rape an underage woman. Oh sorry I’m just hearing – apparently that did happen last season. Think about it this way though. Titus Bramble, Wigan defender, makes the A sign. George Best – widely acclaimed as the greatest player of all time drank too much and beat his wife. If I was an 8-year-old right now I’d be leaving the A-Star club and focussing on drinking a lot of Stella.

Maybe I’m being too cynical. Remember kids – every child can be a star. Although if you’re a girl and you want to be a football star do bear in mind you will need to double up and star as a gym teacher or temp three days a week because there’s no professional league for women in the UK.

Now on to education

A survey this week suggests almost half of the colleges on the government’s approved lists are fakes. The fakes include Exeter, Cambridge and Hogwarts. Only joking, Hogwarts is real kids. No – it’s actually mostly English language schools that are turning out to be fakes. Coverage seems to be focussed on fake degrees being handed out and people getting student visas while being enrolled in these colleges. Personally I am more concerned about the other side – I know several people who came to the UK to study English or other subjects only to discover that the school they were enrolled in was essentially a front. Teachers of English turned out to barely speak it themselves. Of course these people are unable to complain about their schools because they don’t want to lose their own student visa. No joke there, I was just thinking if we had a reasonable immigration policy these people would long since have reported their own colleges and demanded that they get a proper education. But as long as they have the deportation sword of Damocles hanging over them, don’t be surprised if they become easy prey for con artists.

One of the colleges currently on the approved list has a website whose content is predominantly advertising for services such as online gambling. However a spokesperson for Texas Hold’Em School of Fine Art denied anything dodgy was going on.

The Daily Mail

The Mail today runs with the front page headline MADDIE’S PARENTS PLAN £2M FILM DEAL. And I was rather hoping in a few months time to read about how Hollywood test audiences didn’t like the ending and a new one was being filmed in which Madeleine comes back at Christmas, sings a few show tunes and then enrols at Hogwarts. However one quick click onto the McCann’s website reveals they have no plans to make a film. Strange how the tabloids are so full of themselves that they’re helping to find Maddie but they can’t even find a simple website about her.

US Primaries

The Mail also managed to cover the New Hampshire primary in the US in which Hillary Clinton and John McCain received boosts to their respective campaigns for the Democratic and Republican nominations to run for the presidency. The Mail’s coverage described Barack Obama’s father as “a Kenyan goat-herder”, which a probably not the way the man himself would choose to be described given that he has a PhD from Harvard. Says a lot more about the Daily Mail than about the Obama family.

UK Politics

Dr Evan Harris the best politician in the country – hey everyone my podcast, my opinions!! – has sponsored a bill in parliament which would abolish the blasphemy laws. There’s pretty widespread support for the move so if you want to get some illegal blaspheming in – do it now. God is a bastard who fiddles with children. Thank you.

The law is considered discriminatory by many since it only covers Christian and Church of England beliefs. However the government announced it would be meeting with representatives of the Anglican community to discuss the bill and thus prove that religious privilege is alive and well regardless of the law.

Education

It was revealed that one in four adults in the UK have not read a book for a year, including half of young men. Apparently part of the problem is that few modern literary masterpieces feature scratch and sniff pull-out of Abi Titmuss. Gordon Brown said “Reading is probably one of the best anti-poverty, anti-deprivation, anti-crime, anti-vandalism policies you can think of.” Oh I don’t know Gordon – here are some others: Being born to rich middle-class parents, being put in a special super-fast stream at your school and then getting a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. That might help too.

Health

New research suggests Britain has the worst food in Europe and that this contributes to 70,000 deaths every year. So – calculators ready – in the last five years 350,000 people have been killed by our shit food. In the same period 52 people have died because of terrorism in this country. So next time they tell you you’ve got to give up your civil liberties to help fight terrorism, ask whether they’re doing anything about the salt levels in Kellogg’s All Bran first...

And finally

A rare bird called the white-crowned sparrow has been spotted by fanatical bird-watchers in Norfolk. The bird is a native of North American and will soon be transferred to Yarl’s Wood detention centre ready for deportation by the Home Office.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

News Podcast 8th Jan

Extra material (especially any controversial bits) by Mr Cru.

Click here to get your own player.

Text:
International News
And no big thing but well it turns out that Iran and the US sort-of nearly started a little bit of a war. Luckily for, well, the future of humanity, it all boiled down again, hopefully in the form of Egypt jumping in the middle and shouting “leave it George, he’s not worth it” or possibly “we’ve all had a drink now, oh no, not you Ahmedinejad”. Anyway don’t have trouble sleeping, it was nothing really, just nearly the apocalyptic world war Hollywood has been warning us about all these years, but it’s off now, a misunderstanding, nothing, shhh!
Technology
Panasonic has unveiled the world’s biggest plasma TV. The new device measures 6 foot by 150 inches. At the press launch the screen was showing a sumo wrestling match – perfect if what you want for Christmas is two larger than life obese angry wrestlers in your living room. Personally if I had one I’d rather use it to watch majestic wildlife documentaries – sweeping vistas of the last true wildernesses on the planet – except of course that at 3,000 watts to power the thing, each time I switched on there’d be less and less wilderness left. And you’d have to hope it came with extra-powerful speakers to play the cries of the drowning polar bears.
Health
Gordon Brown has hit back at criticism of his plans for the NHS. He said he wanted a “personal and preventive” service – which is a phrase I think he copied off the back of one of the packets of free condoms he got on his last visit. He also said he wanted to push ahead with plans to issue people vouchers to the value of their “personal health budgets”. So presumably if you’ve been in an accident you can choose whether to have your head sewn back on or some therapy to talk through the issues of headless living. Surely your personal health budget should be – whatever you need until you’re better. Mr Brown is also proposing more screening programmes to identify those at risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer, this comes less than two weeks after he announced a reduction in resources to fight those very conditions. Presumably the plan is then to encourage those most at risk to move elsewhere in Europe or maybe Cuba before their condition develops.
US
Kenny Richey – the Scottish man who has spent 20 years on death row in Ohio, has been freed. He was originally scheduled for release last month but that was delayed after he became ill. So they kept him in prison because he was ill. Nice. His lawyer said Richey has been effectively cleared of murder and arson and that “the prosecutors are [now] charging him with essentially failing to baby-sit”. Blimey, let’s hope the couple from down the road from where I lived as a teenager don’t read that, I would be convicted in a heartbeat of nothing short of GROSS failure to baby-sit. Free the Smurthwaite one!
Back in the UK
The Home Office is deporting a man who has lived in the UK since he was 4 years old for breaking the terms of his ASBO. The 20-year-old has been sent to the Philippines where he knows no-one. The only language he can speak aside from English is Welsh, not a major tongue in the Philippines – on indeed even in most of Wales. A spokesman for the Home Office said “foreign nationals are expected to obey the laws of this country in the same way as everybody else” except of course that everybody else doesn’t get deported to the Philippines for staying out late after bedtime.
Politics
David Cameron has said he thinks the long-term unemployed should be forced to do community work if they are to continue to claim benefits. Work and pensions secretary Peter Hains said the proposals to have people WORK FOR FREE would be “hugely costly”. David Cameron denied that these proposals made his party “the nasty party”. And I agree, the conservatives are definitely positively not THE NASTY party in the UK. Far from it, they’re one of THE MANY NASTY PARTIES in the UK.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Podcast 7th Jan

Today's podcast is now out!




Click here to get your own player.
Additional material by Mr Cru AKA David Mulholland.

Text:

We start with a brief comment on celebrity news:

Blimey some people will do anything to get out of babysitting won’t they?

Now UK politics

And over the weekend David Cameron put forward plans to dramatically cut incapacity benefits. Apparently people with no legs will only get half. He also says new claimants should have to undergo an in-depth assessment before being able to claim, which I must admit confused me because what do they do at the moment? Tap dance into the DSS? Gordon Brown responded saying he’d already proposed everything Cameron had mentioned. Nick Clegg for the Lib Dems weighed in saying he preferred a middle ground between the two positions. Ah the joy of democracy!

In the energy sector

Chancellor Alistair Darling has called a meeting with energy regulators to explain price rises. I could do that for him: “Well, blondy, since they’ve all been privatised it’s now their JOB to rip customers off as much as possible so they can increase profit to shareholders. Also we all love a good bribe and a good bonus don’t we?”

In health

A report says many cosmetic surgery clinics are using aggressive marketing tactics to pressure potential customers into having surgery. Doctors greet patients with “hello fatty, don’t get many of you to the pound do you? do you want to come round the back through the double doors? oh my god, nurse will you come in here and look at the nose on that? What a honker, do you want it sorted out or do you want to borrow my garden shears to trim your nasal hair?”. One of their tactics apparently is to offer a discount if patients have surgery straight away. Look here’s my advice - if there’s one think you don’t want done quickly and cheaply – it’s your face cut up and rearranged with a sharp knife.

The Daily Express today

Leads on page one with a giant headline about how some areas of the UK are apparently no-go zones for non-Muslims and I have to be honest, when I bought the Daily Express at my local newsagent in Dalston I did feel kindof embarrassed.

Inside they are furious about the news that the government has let foreign university students overstay their visas. This move is really unfair on Express-reading chavs. One was quoted as saying “it ain’t right like all them smart clever proper like fancy English speaking well educated sorts hanging round over here nicking all the good jobs off joyriding scum like us. Next fing ya know they’ll be ‘andin out proper customer service and doing a good bloody job, it’s wrong it is, shouldn’t be allowed”.

In the US

George Bush is beginning a tour of the middle east which some commentors suggest he will see as an opportunity to undo the damage he’s done so far in his presidency and leave a positive legacy. Other commentors who have less faith in the divine power of miracles are just hoping he doesn’t punch King Abdullah in the face, then choke on a pretzel and steer Air Force one into a west bank primary school.

Over to China

And Lost In Beijing, a film about a rape in a massage parlour has been banned. Apparently the authorities had already insisted on censoring the film to remove scenes showing dirty streets, but then two months later they decided that as well as the nasty litter and graffiti in the background they also had an issue with the WHOLE PLOT being about a gruesome rape.

And finally

A museum of laziness has opened in Bogota, Colombia. To mark the occasion ... well I think I’ll stop there and go and have a cup of tea.

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Sunday, January 06, 2008

Faithful Assertion

This is strange. The government is offering assertiveness training to Muslim women, hoping they'll be encouraged to get more involved in local politics, etc. Now at first glance, getting people involved in politics should be a good thing. But don't they realise that a great deal of Muslim culture is set up to punish and ostracise women who assert themselves? How are they going to react when these women end up on the streets, or victims of honour killings?

Seems to me that these women are already being pushed around by the men in their own families and religious leaders, why should we add to that by pushing them in to local politics? And if we were successful and got these women into local politics, would they represent their own interests or those of the men who tell them what to do in every other aspect of life? Then we can say that women have a share of the power but still do 100% what men want...

All that said it might, might do a teeny bit of good if some of these women get enough distance to realise how abusive their families and religious leaders are being and are able to do something about it without endangering themselves. But I think at best it's a pretty long shot.

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Vote Cru (again)

Self-promotion day again. If you like the blog here please let the judges at the Bloggies know, you could nominate me in any number of categories, I'll assume you're all smart enough to work it out for yourselves.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

A Family Affair

This is a strange issue. J.D. Wetherspoons has announced that it's pubs will serve no more than two drinks to parents who dine in their pubs with their children. And it won't serve families with children (under 14) who don't dine.

Now I actually think that's just silly - I think we have it all wrong in Britain with the pub culture in which children are never seen. It really hurts the children who are seen as a burden because they restrict where their parents can go. You never see cafe's in France which bar children. Parents and children alike enjoy sitting around and chatting or playing games, sometimes eating and sometimes just having a drink - alcoholic or otherwise.

More to the point though - have these decision-makers BEEN to a Wetherspoon's pub (for the benefit of overseas readers a selection of their best-looking clientèle is pictured)? I think we should have a national-level law barring Wetherspoon's customers from reproducing. Could they put contraceptives in the cheap alcopops? Failing that we should DEFINITELY have a national-level law banning all parents from allowing their children to eat the re-heated processed pap that passes for "food" in these places.

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News Podcast 4th Jan

Hooray - I did get up in time to do one before I went out!

Click here to get your own player.


And on the request of a few people here is the text for those of you not shrewd enough to take a pair of earphones to work with you!!

UK Health

Want to take the day off work? The Health Protection Agency or HPA has done the biggest favour it can to those feeling hungover and not in the mood for going to work this week by announcing the spread of Norovirus – or Winter Vomitting Disease. Symptoms include vomiting and it being winter and medical advice is DON’T go to the doctors or the hospital to get a sick note ‘cause you’ll only spread it to others. Stay in bed, take a paracetamol and don’t go back to work until you’ve been feeling OK for two whole days – which for some people might be mid-february. The HPA says more than 100,000 people a week are coming down with the virus. Amazingly those affected are almost exclusively heavy drinkers stuck in jobs they hate working for right tossers.

Iowa Caucuses

The winners in the US yesterday were Barack Obama for the Democrats and Mike Huckabee for the Republicans. I made a brief joke yesterday about Obama being a bit young. Ha ha, very funny. Now lets talk about Mike Huckabee ...

In 1992 he suggested the US should “Treat AIDS as [a] plague to be isolated”, modern stuff, perhaps he would advocate AIDS pits or colonies or making sufferers ring a little bell wherever they go.

He describes himself as Pro-Life and Pro-Death Penalty.

He said he believes the Kyoto treaty was a mistake.

He says we shouldn’t limit oil production.

America should answer to it’s own constitution, not international law.

Compared genocide in Darfur to, as he calls it, infanticide of the unborn – or abortion.

More recently he said “People [are] naturally selfish; only God or punishment prevent it.”, weird when two of the biggest philanthropists in the US are atheists Warren Buffet and George Soros. Also there’s this bloke in the UK who’s an atheist too called Bob Geldof.

In Jan last year summed it up once and for all for me when he said “more bible, less blogs”.

I say once and for all – actually there was something he said very recently that I think was even more stupid. He suggested America should (direct quote) “Go after al Qaeda's safe havens in Pakistan.”. Feeling safe and comfortable now? Want to raise your kids in a world where America’s at war with Pakistan? Hmm ... better use a condom then. Although of course that’s going to be harder than you think since just for good measure Huckers favours abstinence only sex education in schools.

UK Politics

The government has been criticised for the way Home Information Packs were introduced. HIPs as they were called by people who clearly don’t know the first thing about what HIP means, were apparently delayed due to public opposition. Cause that’s awful – the government doing what the public wants – we’re not French you know!

HIPs which run up to 100 pages long are supposed to encourage energy efficiency and help to reduce carbon emissions. Probably the best way to do that would be to recycle it. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors brought a legal action against the contents of the HIPs, which as a result may have to be phased out in favour of a new package hopefully to be called the HIP replacement.

Clearly the government has been caught on the HIP hop. OK that’s enough HIP puns, I feel a bit dizzy now.

China

Here the BBC has the rather brilliant headline “China to expand lethal injections” which seems a little odd – you would think as long as the dose was lethal increasing it would be a waste of time. In fact they are spreading it as an alternative to shooting people in the back of the head. They say it is “more humane” but surely just NOT KILLING PEOPLE would be top of the old humane pops.

Confusingly in the US two death row inmates are bringing a case against the lethal injection because they say it is inhumane. Now to explain – the injection causes paralysis followed by possibly very painful death, undetectable to onlookers because of the paralysis. Yuck. And people moan about the Chinese eating the odd little fluffy puppy!

Amnesty Intl says the Chinese authorities kill at least 1000 people a year with injections – making Harold Shipman look like a rank amateur. Crimes that carry the death penalty include tax fraud and embezzlement. Imagine that – executing Jeffrey Archer. Mmmm. Now stop touching yourself.

Facebook

Two fake profiles of Benazir Bhutto’s son Bilawal have been removed from Facebook. Administrators realised the profiles were fake when they failed to respond to a FunWall post reading “Forward this to all your friends or a puppy will feel sad”. In recent activity the profiles had poked president Musharraf and thrown a custard pie at Sonia Gandhi.

Facebook officials said they didn’t know who had posted the profiles but they did know where they bought their Christmas presents and the ages of their children. A spokeswoman – quite genuinely – said that while people could be barred from Facebook there was nothing to stop them posting under a different name. Luckily no international criminal mastermind has ever thought of the old false name ruse so we’re all safe.

As usual: extra material by Mr Cru.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Just The Medicine

Great article on Alternet today about the US health system - pointing out what a terrible idea it is to let pharmaceutical companies advertise on TV in the US. The numbers they don't include - and I don't remember but I know they're in the film Sicko are how the US spends a great deal more per head on healthcare than many countries who have universal healthcare. Taking adverts off TV (and other mediums) would surely help scale back the numbers of people dosing up on things they really don't need and actually making themselves worse by stacking their system with needless drugs.

Fortunately so far in the UK we don't have adverts for prescription drugs - we do have adverts for painkillers and off-the-shelf or over-the-counter drugs. I think even these should be taken off - people shouldn't be telling their pharmacist what they want, years ago you went to the chemists and asked what they had for your condition, these days people go in with a brand name in mind.

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Ask The Sexperts!

I only just found this piece by "sex expert" (as you like, I'm not bad myself) Dr Pam Spurr - it's a couple of months old. The feature in The Times claims that feminism "is killing sex" and - in their own words - that career women are risking their relationships by saying "no". Hmmm.

Now to start totally the wrong way about I should point out that her concluding paragraph I (almost) wholeheartedly agree with:

"Never be bullied into sexual activity that turns you off or be pressured into sex that doesn’t satisfy you. But always be prepared to discuss your feelings and desires and listen to his. Hopefully, that will improve your sex life and help to strengthen your relationship in other ways, too."

I just don't get why it's listen to HIS feelings and desires. Doesn't she mean YOUR PARTNER'S or is Dr Spurr's advice only for women?

Well evidently the article is about women and what we're doing wrong. Here are some choice extracts:

"With increasing frequency, women in their twenties, thirties and forties take a pragmatic, postfeminist view that sex is something over which they have no need to negotiate."

Surely negotiating is a pretty odd way of sorting out what you do in bed. How about doing all the things that both you and your partner enjoy and want to do. Negotiation implies some sort of compromise - doing things you don't really want to.

" When [case study woman] found that the stress of their differences diminished her sex drive, she felt completely justified in suggesting separate bedrooms. As she recounted to me – with bitter regret, after their divorce – sex had been the last thing on her mind. Her biggest mistake was not considering what was on his mind."

Weird - has anyone else on here ever moved into separate bedrooms from their partner without thinking this might have some impact on their sex life?

"too many women see the sexual side of their lives as something to be claimed completely and utterly as their own"

Yes, it is. Who the hell else "claims" my sex life?

"At the risk of being called ... antifeminist, I’d go so far as to say that for both partners sex could be considered a duty, if it is something that one partner knows would make the other happy."

Personally I think I would rather eat my own vomit than have sex with someone who was doing it out of duty. Also having sex out of a sense of duty when you don't really want to is more or less guaranteed to put you off wanting it again.

"Does he really want to go up on the roof to repair a leak on a Sunday afternoon? Does she really want to take out the rubbish in the pouring rain? No, but partners in relationships do such things because they know that it makes the other happy. Sex should be seen in the same light."

Sex should be seen in the same light as taking out the rubbish or repairing a leaky roof? How bad is your sex life Dr Spurr? And no they're not comparable because sex is an act of intimacy so it makes no sense to do it unless both partners actively want to.

"Why should the sexual area of a relationship be ringed by an emotional fence that makes it a no-go zone for discussion, while other areas are discussed openly, argued over and resolved?"

This Dr Spurr is only true in your world, everyone else I know talks about sex.

"I have spoken to a fair few thirty-something women who settle down with a “decent chap” knowing that he’ll make a good father. On producing babies, though, many such men find themselves left out in the cold when they still desire the sexual warmth that they initially enjoyed. "

Here's some advice for men feeling sexually frustrated after their wife has had a baby: put some more hours into taking care of the child, make sure your wife gets at least some good night's sleep and maybe she'll feel up to it again. Don't for crying out loud suggest it's her "duty" to put out after two days in labour and two hours sleep.

"[If you don't have much sex with your man] You may find ... that he will seek sexual satisfaction without you. I certainly don’t justify infidelity but I can often understand why it happens. In contrast, when a woman’s sexual needs are denied, Heaven help the man responsible."

So Dr Spurr can sort-of understand why men not getting much sex would go and have affairs but considers it outrageous for women in the same situation to complain about it. Remind me next time I'm seeking a relationship counselor not to call her.

"In other cases I have found an even more disturbing attitude: that it’s fine to use occasional sex in a cold-hearted and calculated way as a favour or bartering tool for jobs well done by the man."

So we should be negotiating about sex, and it is the same as household chores but we shouldn't be negotiating household chores in exchange for sex. Keep your story straight please!

And as if the story itself wasn't bad enough there are comments after it...

"All women treat sex as a weapon. Lower testosterone, lower needs. But they have the power to choose, something we men do not have. And so they use us. Over, and over, and over, and over...

Gerbil, Los Angeles, U.S.A."

Hmm... Gerbil (fitting rodent-based name by the way) if you don't have the power to choose whether or not you have sex, you should hand yourself as a potential sex offender.

And then this one which I think rather speaks for itself:

"I'm a 44 yr old man having twice a year sex.I am not a good husband ,i dont wash up,i empty the dishwasher;i dont do the laundry.I pay bill for the washer -dryer and iron my clothes and the childrens .When i come in from work i find at times the house is not clean to my standards ,so i get out the hoover i bought and sort it out.As mentioned by others my marital problems stem from money...having paid £108,000 in mortgage payments over the last 15 years my wife had to recently step in and make these payments for 5 to 6 months while i was unemployed(previously she had been through the same experience for over 12 months) strangely at that time our relationship did not change.But since my bad luck it has,i married a woman i felt i was compatible with;modern appliances take away her "tired" excuse...selfish control is what's occuring here..if i wanted a "companion" i should have bought a dog ...

derek, kingston, surrey"

Should really have added "I don't entirely speak comprehensible English" in there somewhere!

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News Podcast 3rd Jan

Think I'm getting better at this - certainly the technology side. Famous last words! Important note: todays podcast contains additional material by Mr Cru. He will kill me if I don't credit him.

Click here to get your own player.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year New News Podcast!

Well as a way of developing both this blog and my comedy presence online, and for shits and giggles I am starting a (hopefully) regular podcast about the day's news. The first one is obviously the figuring-out-how-to-do-it episode so feedback both technical and content-wise would be much appreciated (especially is there a better way to upload onto the web? I'm using podOmatic but it took ages. I have a mic and Goldwave software at home, from when Mr Cru and I were rehearsing our musical show, and various other things). Still for those who care to listen here is the inaugural edition (and if I stick with podOmatic this will always lead to the latest edition). It's a round-up of all the stupid stuff in the news and me being very sarcastic. It's only about 6 minutes.

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Where Does Mary Park Her SUV?

The Holy garage door ... notice how the shadows of the faithful blot it out - almost as though it were just a reflection of some sunlight off a window being worshiped by a bunch of monstrous imbeciles. From our brothers and sisters in faith at WVCSR.

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Watch Julia Juggle!

Is there a section in our national press's guidelines where it says any woman with a job and children must be described as "juggling" their lives? Julia Roberts doesn't use the word herself but the BBC feel the need to add it in for her. Where is the glossy magazine for men "who juggle their lives". I hate the word, it sounds like these women are in a constant flap and don't really do anything well. Men of course are never asked how they "juggle" fatherhood and work, because it's implicitly accepted that fathers don't actually DO anything to look after their children - unfair on men and women.

Note to all jobbing journalists - unless you work for Circus Entertainment Monthly, please stop using the work "juggle". Thank you.

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