Monday, December 20, 2004

Kicking like a girl

Good old FIFA are at it again - insisting that women shouldn't be allowed to play in men's football teams. Whatever next? No gay people in the straight olympics please! Seperate teams for for black people and white people? Oh please...!

Well I have written a nice email to Mr Blatter letting him know what I think of his rulings. He may remember me from the last time I wrote to tell him what I thought about his suggestion that the best way to raise the profile of women's football would be to insist on skimpier outfits for female players...

I do have some sympathy with those who fear that letting a few elite women in to the men's league would be harmful to the women's leagues. However I think the disadvantages there are more than outweighed by the thousands of women who would likely be inspired to take the sport up if they saw women competing in this way. And it would encourage girls to go down the park and join the local boy's team if that was the easiest way to learn to play.

Doing this at the highest level however sets a precedent for teams right the way through the league system to exclude women. Especially in rural areas this can mean the difference for women between having the chance to play and not having the chance to play.

Personally I used to play for a women's team until last season but there are far too few teams around central London and competition for places is desperately fought. I ended up registered with a team but very rarely getting a game. So now I play for a men's team, and its great fun. OK, so what I should have done is started my own women's team, but I don't have time anymore [I ran my own team for 3 years in Japan a few years back]. In the past I've played for a lot of different mens and womens teams and the variety of experience has unsurprisingly made me a better all-round player.

Anyway as its Christmas and since you're all so special I thought I'd risk the threat to my blogging anonymity (I've had a very different hair-do since then) and post up a picture of me lined up to play for the "Vagabonds" team. This was 2002 in a mini-world cup friendly tournament in Tokyo, despite being English I was playing for the USA (anything for a game!). Actually I was the only woman in the whole competition and ended up being interviewed on local TV.

Well that's the piccie there folks as promised. Have a good Christmas now!

Thursday, December 16, 2004

The Kindness of Strangers

I'm glad I'm not the only one seriously wound up by the new advert warning women of the dangers of unlicensed minicabs. Why are we asked to accept that there "just are" nasty people out there and therefore it's really our own fault if we - or our female friends - get violently raped on the way home?

At the age of fifteen I used to walk the mile to the bus-stop and sometimes, if I missed it, the 3-4 miles into my local town to my Saturday job. Since I could hardly have been headed anywhere but the town centre, barely a week went by when someone did not stop and offer me a lift. And I always accepted, never thought twice about it. In fact last time I was back in that part of the world I bumped in to one of the guys who used to give me a lift and we had a drink and a chat. Nowadays no doubt I would be personally responsible for encouraging paedophiles. Crime rates have not increased in the intervening period.

I'm also seeing adverts on TV telling me that I need to fit burglar alarms, double-lock my door when I go out and not use my mobile phone in public in case mysterious evil-doers see it and steal it. The government is, it would seem, topping up the efforts it has already made to cultivate a climate of fear and mistrust just in time for bringing in 1984-style identity cards.

Statistically, as a woman, you are much more likely to be raped by someone you know than by a stranger. I always think of that when some pushy guy I've met within the last few hours starts insisting on walking me to the bus stop.

Finally, ladies, let me remind you who you are most at risk of being physically hurt by: your own husband or boyfriend. Would your friends let you get into a car with him?

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Sexism? What sexism?

What hope do women have of a fair and equal society when the government, whose job it is to legislate for a fair and equal society, behaves like this?

Friday, December 03, 2004

If you think you're smart...

...try this Geography Olympics, I was horrified to discover how many I didn't know or could only place in a rough area. Actually I'd like to see Bush and Blair playing this against other world leaders. Meanwhile it is a bit of fun and passed the time here.

Fathers 4 Injustice?

The other night I watch Fiona Bruce's "Real Story" about Fathers 4 Justice. She's not one to shy away from challenging issues and I was particulary interested in two statistics:

1) 99.2% of court applications for access are granted. Is it possible that the remaining less-than-one-percent of fathers who apply are actually not fit to be left in charge of children? Remember that if the mother grants access anyway there will be no need for a court order, only those where the mother is unhappy go to court. If the access order isn't observed, the father should have a good case for applying for full-time custody. ...but the pyjama-wearing protestors don't seem to want to take on the hard work part of child-raising.

2) Compare that to 25% of women experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. Now of course it depends how many times we keep on letting these guys come out of prison (if we even send them there in the first place) and beat someone else up as to what percentage of men we have to assume are inclined to violence against women. Even a conservative estimate would suggest 2-3% however.

And F4J are claiming that Ms Bruce is biased because she knows someone who was a victim of domestic violence. ONE IN FOUR women are. Surely she would be more biased if she didn't know a victim of domestic violence, most people do. I do, I know several.

And, yeah, sure, so people can reform, and become fit fathers again. It's possible. But shouldn't the law assume that violent men aren't fit to be left alone with kids and then let them come to court to prove that they are? Rather than handing over the kids and seeing what happens in the meantime while their mothers are trying to build a case against them?

The guardian had this excellent article on the situation a month or so back.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Trojan horses...

Further evidence today from the BBC on the influence of advertising on children. Regular Cru-blog readership will be aware of my on-going enthusiasm for a ban on advertising aimed at the under-12s in the UK. On the basis that they're too young to understand the difference between what an advertiser tells them: "you must have a doll with her own make-up bag and beauty equipment" and what a teacher or adult tells them: "you must look both ways before crossing roads". As Adbusters like to periodically remind us - the average American teenager sees 100,000 alcohol advertsisements before reaching the legal drinking age (point taken - these are not necessarily aimed at children, although I think some alcopops ones do appear to be). Compare this with, at best, a few hours of education about the risks of alcohol and drugs and smoking. Net result: they don't stand a chance.

And in answer to the most popular counter-arguements on the subject...

1) It would hurt the economy.

It might be bad for the advertising industry, true. But it would probably be great news for places like the early learning centre which sell educational toys. It might be bad for the bigger chains, like McDonalds, but it would be good for smaller family-run restaurants. And the loss to chains like McDonalds would be partly recouped by the reduced cost to them of advertising. And if kids demanded less stuff from their parents, the parents would have more money to save or to spend on other things. And even if netting all these factors off it did hurt the economy a little, who is to say it wouldn't be worth it?

2) Why can't we give people free choice?

In order for people to effectively exercise free choice they need balanced unbiased information on the situation. Children can make their own choice about advertising once they are old enough to recognise it as such and understand what that means and what views it therefore represents. Personally I think 12 is a pretty low estimate of the age at which that is possible. We don't let kids drink or smoke at that age. So why should we allow them to be bombarded with messages advocating unhealthy and addictive lifestyles?

3) What about the sports, public transport, etc that is partially funded by advertising?

There's a reason why advertisers are prepared to pay for good advertising slots. Because it brings in more money than it costs. We shouldn't be running out sports facilities or our public transport on money donated by corporations alone. The next step is advertising in schools (already happpening in the US - see these horror stories) and a slippery slope to advertisers being involved on decisions about what to sell in school tuck shops (to the point of guaranteeing certain levels of sales to the pop manufacturers) and what to put on the curriculum . Eventually the corporations would run our education system. Is that what we want?

...oh and by the way - today is Buy Nothing Day. Why not see how hard you find it to go 24 hours without buying anything. Pretty hard huh? And if it goes well the next event in the anti-consumerist, anti-media diary is TV turn-off week in April.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Spiralling out of control

Further to my last post, I should point out that I am really not complaining about the individual soldier involved, but the US administration and it's failure to manage the invasion properly. I remember when the mission in question was to win the "hearts and minds of the Iraqi people". Then they launched a major offensive on the holiest day of the year. Can you imagine if a foreign government decided to bomb us on Christmas day? Would that win over "hearts and minds"?

If anyone was in any doubt that the situation in Iraq is now desperately out of control, that the US cannot effectively look after or control its own troops and doesn't have enough troops out there, try this article, which among other things mentions that the marine who shot the injured man "had been shot in the face the day before but had already returned to duty". When asked by his lieutenant if the man/men shot had been armed, the marine apparently shrugged. Draw your own conclusions.

Who needs an international criminal court?

Clearly not the US, who continue as ever taking matters into their own hands. Yes the evil commie Fidel Castro has been convicted of executing a CIA pilot who was trying to invade his country and "overthrow" (i.e. kill) him. And this guy's daughter will be getting $80m in compensation out of frozen Cuban assets.

What was Mr Castro supposed to do with the guy? Give him a cup of tea and a biscuit and send him on his way? This wasn't really a warfare situation - more a small piece of terrorism. So I figure Cuban law applies to the guy. No-one is questioning the guy's guilt, the US admits he was attempting to overthrow Castro, i.e. a crime of something like "treason". The death penalty exists in Cuba, like in the US. So at worst here Castro is guilty of not following correct legal proceedure, he didn't have to kill the guy, he could have just taken him prisoner and then subjected him to a full trial. Under the circumstances $80m seems a bit steep to me.

However this must be good news for the bereaved family of the injured and unarmed Iraqi man shot dead at point blank range (in a Mosque for good measure...) on TV footage shown around the world on Monday. Presumably his family can sue for $80m too.

Monday, November 15, 2004

If Bush really believes in what he's doing...

...why is he behaving like this? Anyone who has read "Killing Hope" (and if you haven't I recommend it, and further if you are London-based and get in touch you would be welcome to borrow my copy) will be very surprised to see them described as a "hotbed of liberals"!

Friday, November 12, 2004

Is there a "boycott coke" campaign?

Actually there is! I have only just found it today. Related to murders of Colombian trade unionists.

There probably should be a bigger one since I seem to hear a lot of stuff about how they try to foist their products onto school kids, etc. Personally I don't really believe that consumers have the power to govern corporate policy, I think that's a bit of a myth. Its all very well in theory but most consumers are restricted by things like poverty, addiction, lack of education and misunderstandings based on biased advertising campaigns, lack of time and lack of genuine choice in the markets. On top of this a lot of companies don't sell to consumers directly - they sell to other companies or government departments which in theory we should still be able to influence with our voting policy and through secondary level consumer influence. In practice however, corporates are doing everything they can to make this as difficult as possible (err like murdering trade unionists for one thing).

However there are times when we can do something. Maybe not solve the problem but consumer pressure has clearly affected policy at McDonalds. Coke - with its 100% reliance on consumer buyers, should be vulnerable too. I shall stop drinking Coke and Coke-made brands today.

For those who would like to do the same but can't live without a fizzy caffeinated drink I recommend switching to Irn Bru, which is independently produced within the UK - where trade unionist murders are fairly rare and pollution controls are a little tighter. And is produced under a strict environmental policy, viewable on their website.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

A bastion of democracy?

Apparently the Bush campaign have said that John Kerry "should concede to spare the voters a drawn-out battle".

When was the result of a democratic election decided by one party telling another party to concede? Surely the way to decide a democratic election result is to count the votes. It amazes me that either party has anything to say about who's winning. Shouldn't the chief vote-counter be the one to talk first?

Election delayed so that Bush can finish cheating

Of course the US wouldn't have this problem if they didn't have a large number of people who genuinely choose to vote for Bush...

If I was the leader of an extremist Islamic terror group I can imagine I might see Republican voters as legitimate targets.

As a nice, middle-class English woman however I'll say just this: isn't it confusing how the "lefties" are in blue and the "righties" in red?

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Letter from Diane Abbott

I received this following in reply to my suggestion that Ms Abbott (who is my local MP) should sign up to the movement to impeach Tony Blair over his actions on Iraq:
Dear Ms Cruella*,

Thank you for contacting me regarding the Iraq conflict and the involvement of British troops. As you may know I have been opposed to the invasion from the beginning. I voted against it, partly because in my judgement it was illegal, but also I feared we could be drawn into a quagmire. I am as saddened as you to see the present security situation as bad as it is.

One of my key concerns following the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime has been whether we are actually making the region any more stable. As we know there was no connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. But now Iraq is awash with Islamic terrorists. With every day that goes by the American and British forces look less like an army of liberation and more like an occupying force. I am also concerned about ‘mission creep’. I am reluctant to draw comparisons to the Vietnam conflict but there is a danger that the withdrawal of other national forces such as Spain our troops will be drawn deeper into the conflict rather than a staged withdrawal. We should be looking at options to bring troops home rather than deploying more. Whatever the reason for them being there I am deeply concerned with the welfare of British troops as well as the Iraqi people.

After invading Iraq we do owe the people there security and a safe passage towards some level of peace and prosperity. I personally would favour the current force in Iraq being replaced with a more international force with a focus on troops coming from Muslim states. This would not only allow British troops to leave but would also give the troops more of a peace keeping role rather than the perceived invasion force that is there at present. Ultimately Iraqi’s must be given the chance to govern and keep the peace themselves, and this cannot happen with foreign troops on their soil. I assure you I will continue to speak on this matter at every opportunity.

Best Wishes

Diane Abbott MP

Laurence Meehan Research Assistant to Diane Abbott MP
*Name changed to protect what limited blog anonimity I have. you need to use your real name and address so you can be confirmed as a genuine resident of the constituency and voter, otherwise you'll be lucky to get a reply.

Shame really that despite her having views, and expressing them periodically in the house, which are not entirely dissimilar to my own, I still can't vote for her because the party she stands for doesn't adhere to those views and the leader she votes for is no longer responsible to either the party or the country.

Still the encouraging news is that MPs, even senior ones like Ms Abbott, do read letters sent in by contituents, or at least ask their research assistants to do so. Other bloggers who wish to do likewise avail their local MP of thier views should try this very helpful website.

Monday, October 25, 2004

Does David Blunkett think we're all stupid?

...he's probably right. The latest news is that juries are to be allowed access to a defendant's criminal record in cases involving child sex abuse and theft. Seems to me to beg the question: why are those two crimes being linked, and others ignored?

Now as this article explains, the government would love to get a higher conviction rate in courts. They could achieve this by spending more money hiring and training police and giving them the equipment to conduct better forensic research. But why spend money when there's a short cut?

Child sex abuse has been a big cause of public outcry recently. So it seems likely that the tabloid headlines are going to be all in favour of this move, and full of photographs of Roy Whiting - who already had child sexual abuse convictions on his record when he was convicted of the abduction and murder of Sarah Payne. Note firstly that Roy Whiting was convicted without the need for this law change. Secondly can you imagine someone who the jury knew had a criminal record for child sex abuse being found innocent of anything? The law will effectively condemn those with any record to being emprisonned at the whim of those who know about their past. If the courts believe however that it will boost their ability to catch people who abuse children then it may be worth doing. Courts, it appears, believe this because they see child abuse as stemming from a pathological desire to abuse and hurt children.

And theft? Now just a minute, I do not lie awake at night worrying about shop-lifters. Surely theft is not the sort of crime which we need to step in and "get tough" on. Theft in itself doesn't hurt anybody, it might do when its combined with assault, but previous convictions for assault will not be revealed. This means that juries will know if there is a conviction for theft, but not whether or not that theft was violent. Well my best guess is that juries are going to assume the worst and this is going to knock up conviction rates massively and end up with stacks of innocent people in jail. Just a hunch. Then the government will be bragging about how they catch more criminals than previous governments.

And we still don't have disclosure of previous criminal records for rape. Even though we've been asking the longest. Ask any victim of rape whether they'd rather have been a victim of theft and they'll tell you yes. Is there any evidence to suggest rapists have a pathological desire to abuse and hurt women? Err, yes, loads.

Of course bringing the previous conviction diclosure in for rape is not without its risks. While it seems likely that the number of false claims brought is extremely low, there is always someone out there hoping to abuse the system and victimise someone with a date-rape conviction on their record.

Well its here that I depart from traditional feminist thinking and suggest something shocking: maybe we should have three degrees of rape - like we do for murder. So that date rape is no longer the same crime as the Ealing Vicarage cases of the 1980s. Then we can insist on disclosure, as well as much longer sentences, for the worst cases, and still convict and sentence those whose crimes are less premeditated.

But what I see here from Mr Blunkett is an attempt to hide behind the paedophile issue to sneak in legislation which will artificially inflate the conviction rate without actually improving the overall justive rate. And legislation which sounds like it might but actually won't make life any better for the one group of people who could really benefit from this type of move.

Whoever said cheats never prosper?

Clearly the organisers of the US elections haven't heard this one yet. I don't know whether to laugh or cry.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Kofi break

Kofi Annan and I agree on a lot of things. And today I've discovered another one for the list: he thinks the Tory party is irrelevant too! Mr Annan is coming to the UK to meet the Queen, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, a few other dignitaries and Charles Kennedy. Not bothering to see Michael Howard though! The Liberal Democrats are the opposition these days, the Conservative Party is a minority interest group. Hurray, good news for once!

What an unholy mess...

...our education system has become.

Tuition fees, declining standards, truancy, coursework and cheating, poor teaching standards. So is the new diploma system going to help? Err, no.

Here are just a few edited highlights of what's wrong with it:

1) The various modules are not as clearly broken down as GCSEs and A-levels are, meaning that students wishing to take courses later in life or from prison, etc, will end up with a part of a qualification rather than a clear level.

2) Nothing is getting harder. The new A++ is a joke, the problem of schools choosing the easiest exam board and the exam boards getting progressively easier to increase their market share will persist.

3) The system is unfair on students doing Scottish Highers and International Bacalaureats since these continue to receive less "points" on the university application system.

4) The idea that the new system will give greater credibility to vocational courses is wholly speculative. There's no reason why it should.

5) Focus on vocational skills and "apprenticeships" may be a good thing, however a simultaneous focus on employers to find "skilled" opportunities - rather than "McJobs" is likely needed to counteract the way in which the job market has shifted since the last time we all had apprenticeships.

6) The shift away from exams to teachers marks frightens me greatly. Smart kids who are bored in lessons and become a nuisance to teachers (like I did many years ago) will be at risk of being marked down.

7) Problem of coursework and cheating not addressed. Everyone at my school did it more than ten years ago: teachers, parents and children copying each other.

Ok and enough whinging. Here's what we SHOULD do instead:

1) Centralise the exam board system. Some flexibility in terms of syllabus would probably be helpful, but lets have a standardised system so that everyone's results are comparable and we can stop the drift of standards.

2) No more coursework. Kids need to learn not to be intimidated by exams. We could have some exams which kids are allowed to bring text-books in to, to reduce the need to memorise things.

3) Exams get harder, like they used to be. No A+ or A*. Just an A grade that means something.

4) Everyone studies English, Maths, a Science, IT and a language up to GCSE. Top students should be doing 10 GCSEs, less academic kids do these 5 and vocational stuff.

5) Schools to teach "life skills" one afternoon per week (shame that they need to, but they do). Students should leave able to cook healthy meals, repair clothes, put up shelves, wire plugs, basic gardening, first aid, child care, etc and kids with skills and interests in these areas should be offered the opportunity to spend more time on them, leading to apprenticeships.

6) Instead of trying to recruit teachers straight out of uni, lets try to recruit more coming out of industry and other professions. Offer shorter conversion courses for people who already have the skills to become teachers, treat the long holidays as semi-retirement, and bring real role models with real life experiences into school.

...well I could go on all day...I think you can see what I mean...

Friday, October 15, 2004

The Life group on their high-horses again

I'm reading on the BBC about plans to help women taking the pill do so at the right time and regularity by sending them text messages. The pill has long since been dispensed in date-labelled packs, i.e. with mon-tue-wed-... next to each one. I have for many years wondered why that is done for the pill but not for anti-biotics and other medication where it is important to take the drugs regularly. Maybe other drugs have different instructions and doses for different ailments and are more easily dispensed in a bottle with instructions on the side. I must admit I even feel a bit twitchy about it, as if women are being patronised a bit.

Still the new service being offered cannot be doing any harm really since its very much up to individuals to sign up for it.

Ok, now lets see the reaction from the Pro-Life Group: "The anti-abortion charity Life condemned the idea and said it would lead to increased promiscuity. "

Now I wonder if women are being treated as stupid by having their pills date-labelled. This lot seem to think women are so stupid that more will start taking the pill now they can receive reminders by text-message. Never mind the fact that anyone can set up a regular text alert or phone-based alarm for themselves very easily if they find that's the best way to organise their lives. Never mind that everybody knows that the pill is only suitable for long-term monogamous relationships since it doesn't protect against STDs... or that the new service is only being offered to those already on the pill. I wonder why the BBC felt the need to ask these guys for a comment.

If this development does anything at all I have to guess it would cut the number of abortions going on by cutting down the number of accidentally missed pills. If that is what the Life group really want, they should welcome this move. They should also focus the centrepiece of their campaign on raising money to support women who fall pregnant and wish to continue their pregnancies, since by far the biggest deciding factor in worldwide abortion rates is poverty. This will never happen because, I believe, this group is nothing more than a collection of mysogynists trying to deny women control over their own lives and bodies.

The other point that jumps out at me is that the fear raised by the Life input to the news story is that the new initiative might encourage promiscuity. So they're taking as read that promiscuity is a terrible thing. Some of us, mainly the ones who've tried it, might beg to differ.

There's very little religious basis for the condemnation of promiscuity, as long as people aren't married. They were all up to it in the old testament, actually even the married ones. Jesus seemed to suggest it might distract people from seeking their more spiritual side, but that was about as much attention as it got. Other religions similarly seem to have focussed in on obscure pieces of their holy texts to suggest that this should be a standardised law, when in fact it has never been a core message (like for example "thou shallt not kill", leaving some of us to wonder where exactly the basis for "honor killings" of women suspected of pre-marital sex or infidelity has arisen from).

For the practising atheist the only issues raised however are the spread of STDs - use condoms kids - and the social and emotional risks. While this latter is not to be ignored, I can't help thinking the social and emotional impact of staying home and missing out on the (metaphorical) orgy of life, lust and love would be risking a lot more.

To complete the full cycle and head into very deep feminist waters (hurray!). Personally I wouldn't dream of taking the pill and messing about with my natural hormones. The balance of estrogen, etc (and testosterone too) in my system is a part of who I am as a woman and I'm quite happy with it as it is and have no desire to mess with it.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Who would Jesus vote for?

Quote Alan Keyes, Republican candidate for Illinois: "I think it's perfectly clear if you ask people are you going to vote against God or for the Democratic party they will stand with God,". Now aside from the gramatical error in that statement which makes it sound as though he's encouraging only devil-worshippers to vote for him, how scary is the US these days?

There are two issues here:

1) Would Jesus really have voted Republican? Clearly not. Firstly he made a big noise about how a rich man could not serve God, he didn't suggest top bracket tax cuts. He spent his life helping the poor and sick, not forcing them to work for a pathetic minimum wage. He also had these rules: the ten commandments, big stone tablets, etc and one of them said "THOU SHALT NOT KILL", but none of them said anything about pre-emptive invasion. Even after he had been wronged he said "turn the other cheek", not "carpet bomb civilians at will",...

2) Has anyone noticed that the first victim of fundamentalism, whatever the religion, is always women? Next up is banning abortion, banning the pill, the horror stories discussed earlier about "encouraging marriage".

We're all told, always, that we must have religious tolerance. In general I agree, but surely human rights have to come first. In a free society those who wish to observe religious practices still can, those that prefer not to have that freedom too. Meanwhile I should like to invite all and sundry to exercise their religious freedom with a wander over into one of the few global religions where women have completely equal and sometimes even senior status...wiccanism!

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

If you read one piece of hard-hitting jounalism... this one, about HIV, AIDS and rape in South Africa - written by Charlene Smith who herself was a victim of rape in South Africa. And if your train's leaving in five minutes - please read the whole article and skip reading the rest of my post.

President Mbeki has reacted badly to this, insisting that Ms Smith is racist and is trying to weaken his political position. This is a real shame because Mr Mbeki could instead take this as a cue to lead by example, to make it clear that rape is not a part of traditional African culture and that it will not be tolerated, nor its victims left to suffer. Instead it seems he is suffering from the same embarrassment and paranoia about the subject as those that perpetuate the suffering as well as those that suffer it in shame, silence and agony.

Now one issue is whether Mr Mbeki doesn't want his own sexual history - he fathered an illegitimate child when he was 16 - dragged up. Seems to me though that the 1.7m South Africans raped each year, many (estimated at 41%) of them children, and the risks of exposure to HIV/AIDS (estimated at 40%) has to be the key focus for the leader of this country. If the suffering of this huge tranch of the female* population doesn't matter to him, then he surely must be guilty of not just sexism but total disregard of women's health, welfare and basic rights.

Now to quote Amnesty: "Violence against women is the greatest human rights scandal of our times". You can read more about their campaign on the subject here.

*As Ms Smith's article points out, however, rape of young boys is also an issue.

Quick Mr Bush, turn the tanks round!

Well after the embarrassing flop that was the hunt for WMD in Iraq, with attendant mass murder of civilians and prompting of massive unrest across the region, this latest news will come as a relief to the "co-oilition" masterminds... Hashemi Rafsanjani says Iran, right next door, DOES have WMD. Actually ones which could make quite a mess of Israel already. More than this the article explains: 'Mr Rafsanjani said Iranian experts could now achieve "all subsequent stages" in the missile production process. ' So why are we not marching on Tehran?

For those, by the way, who believe we went to Iraq to "free the Iraqi people", a brief run through Amnesty's website will soon reveal that the regional human rights "worst offender" is Saudi Arabia. Similarly if you've still got your who's who in the middle east on order and think it has something to do with the Wrold Trade Centre attack, 17 of the 18 pilots involved were Saudi Arabian (the BBC country profile will confirm this if you need to check). So in your cases, perhaps time to urge Mr Bush and co to march on Riyadh...?

But back to Mr Rafsanjani. He says he would only use his missiles in self-defence. A more liberal policy then than Bush-Blair's so-called "pre-emptive"* strike.

* Note: "pre-emptive" implies Iraq would have attacked us if we hadn't attacked them first. The evidence for this has now been dismissed as fake.

You can't trust anyone nowadays

So turns out the US has been bugging the French president's phone lines according to a new book out. If you read a little further down the article apparently this situation has led to the breakdown of the relationship between the US and France. Not because the French are unhappy about having their basic human rights interrupted* but because the Americans didn't like what they heard: a US official apparently said "The relationship between your president and ours is irreparable on the personal level. You have to understand that President Bush knows exactly what President Chirac thinks of him". So we are to presume that Chirac, in private, takes a similar view of Mr Bush as do, erm, most French people. A president with views in line with the majority of the population? Surely not! Whatever next... democracy?

*I'm not exaggerating: Universal Declaration of Human Rights "No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. " (Article 12).

A job half done

Remember when we marched on Kabul to free the women of Afghanistan? Remember the utterly spurious stories about Afghan women tearing off their burkas (later contradicted here and here)? And then as if we needed proof of their "liberation", they started opening beauty schools, entering Miss World contests in their bikinis, running magazines with women-must-have horoscopes? What a load of cr*p!!

Surprise, surprise... once we got our oil pipeline down we completely forgot about women's rights... Try this link from Human Rights Watch for the short version, there is also a link on there to the longer version. To quote RAWA (the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan), "They cannot go without a male relative outside their houses, and they have no access to education and there are health problems for them. So we think that the bombs in Afghanistan - the bombing by the U.S. administration - has not changed the situation because they replaced one fundamentalist [group] with another one". You really have to admire the courage of the women at RAWA, who are regularly risking their lives to fight for their rights. It also comes as a slap in the chops to those who insist that these terribly oppressed women are happy as they are. When they have proper freedom those that want to stay home will still be able to! For those wanting to support the cause, it is also probably the best place to send donations, they run schools, hospitals and literacy campaigns for women.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Hartlepool rock

Well the Hartlepool bi-election seemed to me to be a huge exercise in pointing out things we already know. Here are the main ones:

1) No-one really likes Labour but a lot of people aren't quite sure which party really represents the "anti-labour" vote. Approximately 40% of the voting public in Hartlepool have changed from voting Labour to something else since the last election. Thats half of the previous Labour vote. If they had all gone to the same opposition party, that party would easily have won. Labour's remaining vote is around 40% of the population - the voting needs to be very split indeed for 40% to be a winning % of the vote.

2) The nearest thing we have to an opposition is the Lib Dems. Voters need to rally round if we are going to get Labour out.

3) The Tories are a long long way off the mark and rapidly becoming a minority party. Imagine being a party for people who are more right wing than Labour but aren't actually mad, that's a pretty niche market! They're getting less than 10% of the vote.

4) People will be suitably shocked and horrified to discover that 250 people voted National Front. Another 10% of the population however is voting UKIP - the party that said employers shouldn't employ women who were of an age to have children...! Their candidates have said that they are interested in women's issues because "I just don't think they clean behind the fridge enough"... this is NOT a one-issue party, NOR is it a party thats just a touch right of centre. It's a bunch of extreme fascists.

5) Fathers 4 Justice are stupid and irresponsible. If anyone cared what they thought they would have voted for them. In the event they only narrowly beat the much more sensible policies of the Monster Raving Loony party. Throwing yet more flour about is a sure sign of being a bad loser.

6) Smoke-and-mirrors Blair thinks if he has a quick heart "flutter" we won't notice that his party have lost the plot.

Lets hope people sit up and notice what's going on.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Blair's election promises

Why is Tony Blair bothering this year? He never kept them in the past! Remember when he said he wouldn't raise income tax? And he wouldn't introduce tuition fees? Here's what Tony said at the Labour conference in 1994:

"We meet in a spirit of hope, hope that change can come....
hope that we can rid our country of this Tory Government
their broken promises
their failed policies
their discredited philosophy
and elect in its place, a Labour Government for Britain."

Actually its worth a read of that speech in full... but here are a few highlights:

"We applaud Yitzhak Rabin's Labour government and Yasser Arafat's PLO, for breaking new ground to help the Palestinian people towards self government in the Gaza Strip and Jericho and bring peace to the Middle East."

Yes Tony, peace in the middle east is good...

"Fifty years ago, the British Labour government helped to form theUnited Nations.
We will continue to work for it to be stronger, more cohesive and capable of bringing new order to a world no longer dominated by the Cold War."

...oh and we'll also ignore what it says and head off war-mongering on our own when we feel like it. The leader of the UN will describe our behaviour as "illegal"....

well and it goes on to complain about how the Tories are leaving students in poverty and letting the rich get richer and so on, all the things that Labour has done nothing about and in a fair few cases made worse.

Not that I wish to suggest the Tories would be a better choice. But at least they tell you they're going to screw you before they screw you...

Monday, September 27, 2004

Another body count

I have been searching the web unsuccessfully for any sign of a site which keeps a count of deaths resulting from plastic surgery. No surgery is without its risks and after last weekend's college reunion when I discovered a friend of mine from college has ALREADY had botox (she must be under 30...) I have started to develop a hypersensitivity to the balance of media coverage on the issues. So far apart from Awful Plastic Surgery which has a negative slant (mostly) to its stories, I really can't find very much other than enthusiasm for these dangerous proceedures in the media.

Naturally over the nice posh dinner I quizzed my friend about why she'd had botox and she said that she thought she needed it because she had a "really animated face". Well maybe I'm biased because of my erstwhile second career in comedy and the need to be expressive but I think an animated face is a good thing!

A few weeks back at a different party I met a nurse who works at a London hospital for plastic surgery patients. She told me two things that made me uncomfortable: Firstly that she thought 99% of the people coming in for treatment were actually really very attractive people - not people with any sort of genuine disfigurement or even people who could be descibed as below average for looks. Secondly she said these days younger and younger patients are coming in, mostly women, including some who were still halfway through puberty but had already decided they wanted breast enlargement. And their mothers would come in with them, encouraging them and often paying for them as a birthday present, etc.

Well anyway someone else pointed out to me recently that Olivia Goldsmith died from complications arising from cosmetic surgery and I wondered how I'd missed it and all the natural outcry that it should have generated.

Anyway a bit of research shows another death at the same hospital where OG died. And then this website says there have been over 100 deaths from liposuction in the US in the period to 1998. Also Rosemarie Mondeck died after liposuction. Then there was the animation company founder Micheline Charest. Another four are listed here. And another five here. As I dig I keep finding more and more. This Cosmo article says 20 out of 100,000 liposuction patients dies. Running total 118, but I suspect that is the tip of the iceberg.

Evidence (as if we needed it) also suggests that women who elect to have plastic surgery are twice as likely to commit suicide than the rest of us. Perhaps referring these people to unscrupulous plastic surgeons rather than psychiatrists to figure out where their self-confidence issues are coming from wasn't a good idea either.

Need I remind the reading public that no-one has ever EVER died of ugliness...?

Baby obsession, this exchange made me laugh...

(From a private egroup I belong to, names changed.. have to start reading at the bottom though cos I haven't changed it round from the email I sent)

no shit. i agree with jim for once. i'm really pleased for you maggie, cos its what you want, but i think motherhood (not something that has ever figured in my life plans) should be thought of as a very hard job, rather than a spiritual experience. and i agree that you have to balance needs of maggie and darren with needs of ankle-biter.

cruella (also no offence ruby)

From: Jim
Sent: 27 September 2004 09:24
Subject: RE: Happy news :-)

Oh ffs. Pass the bucket. ;)

Millions of women get pregnant, and whereas I'm happy for Maggie as it's what she wants, I know it's also gonna be hard work for both Maggie and Darren alike.

There is more to life than 'being a mum'. Just because you have kids, you shouldn't let your IQ dribble out of your ears. You should also take time out to remember that you and your partner are just as important as your child. Only between you all, can you make a cohesive happy unit.

Sorry, but sanctimonious motherhood really gets on my t!ts (nothing personal ruby).


-----Original Message-----
From: Ruby
Sent: 27 September 2004 04:20
Re: Happy news :-)

Congratulations and enjoy being pregnant for the first time. It's such an experience, and may you feel like the first woman in the world to be pregnant, because you deserve it.


----- Original Message -----
From: Maggie
Sent: 23 September 2004 15:28
Subject: Happy news :-)
Just wanted to share with you all our very happy news.

I'm NOT fat


Baby is due end of March, and is currently 13 weeks "old" and doing fine. We had our scan last week which showed the correct number of legs, arms etc (when baby finally stopped jigging around and doing a headstand and stayed still long enough to count!)

So I happily join the "Mamas and Papas" club - do we get a discount with that or a free cuddly toy ?

Love Maggie

Friday, September 24, 2004

How does God want YOU to vote?

I am starting to wonder whether the Republicans are seriously trying to put Ripley's believe-it-or-not museum out of business. This article from the NY Times was sent over to me by a friend. I have been looking for the 1st April date tag or something but, no, it appears its true. You have to register to see NYT articles but it's free.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Moving goalposts...

The ongoing "rebranding" of the Iraq invasion has taken another new twist today with Tony calling Iraq a "Crucible of global terrorism". He really should try to keep better track of who we're at war with and why:

We went to war with Afghanistan to combat global terrorism. Thats because although 17 out of 18 of the 9/11 suicide pilots were Saudi Arabian, the other one was Afghani and their leader Osama Bin Laden, who is still on the loose, and who is also Saudi Arabian, was rumoured to be hiding in a cave in Afghanistan. We didn't find him so we don't know if that's true but we did bomb the cr*p out of Afghanistan and then by pure co-incidence installed a president who was an ex-employee of Unocal and long before anyone had time to organise elections we got him to sign an agreement so we could build a big oil pipeline through the country in exactly the place that the old regime had said we couldn't.

Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden aren't friends, actually they pretty much hate each other. If they had any connection at all it would be through their mutual friend George W Bush, whose Dad installed one and armed the other (ok armed both...).

Now we went to war with Iraq because Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction and we needed to overthrow his evil regime and free the Iraqi people. We did find Saddam but we didn't find any of these weapons and actually in the end we decided that there weren't any there and that we just hadn't read the reports carefully enough before we started.

So when did Iraq become the "Crucible of global terrorism"? Well actually probably around the time that we started bombing the cr*p out of them. Of course what we should remember though is that this is "new" global terror - it has nothing to do with Al Qaeda or any such thing, this is terror which we have created. Also its not very global, what Tony is talking about is bombs and hostage-takings within Iraq, focussed on the foreigners who are part of the military and administrative occupational regime which came in uninvited to their country and killed thousands and thousands of people.

I wonder if Tony has ever read "The Crucible"?

More evidence that the BBC is going down the pan...

Yet another hugely unbalanced human interest story off the health pages today. A woman who suffered an unusual illness the treatment for which was thought to have left her infertile has had a baby. Is this helpful? I don't think so and here's why not:

1) In this story doctors failed to identify they woman's condition for a lengthy period of time and, indeed, dismissed her as a hypocondriac. I had exactly the same experience several times at the doctors and would be really interested to see what proportion of female patients are "fobbed off" without proper testing. Actually I was once told by a male doctor that he didn't believe women who told him that taking the pill messed up their hormones, to which I, spluttering, replied "well you f*cking take it then!".

2) The doctors also failed to mention to her that the treatment they were giving her would render her infertile. Surely this doctor should be struck off! Again I've been given treatments at the doctors which I later discovered had a common side effect of "depression" without anyone mentioning the fact (despite my history of suffering).

3) The story repeatedly refers to how this woman would do "anything" to have a baby, including putting her own life at risk. Yet they never ask the question whether this is a healthy attitude and whether she had been encouraged to consider not having children or other options such as fostering or adopting a needy child.

4) Disproportionately little press coverage is given to the many women who are unable to have children, to unsuccessful IVF treatment, to years of being poked and prodded around and the stress that that puts on relationships. There is a really good article on this called "Don't fuel the baby obsession" by Germaine Greer, but I can't find it on the web, its pretty old and relates to provision of IVF treatment on the NHS.

People who have kids are really not going to say that they wish they hadn't bothered - of course not - these young people exist now and to wish they didn't would be harsh. However we need to have a society in which not having kids (now the choice of one in 5 women in the UK) is also considered healthy and normal.

Betrayed by New Labour

Greg Dyke's documentary "Betrayed by New Labour" on Channel four last night was pretty interesting. For those who missed it I believe the book is available. Inevitably focussed on the events leading to GD's resignation and inevitably focussed on his side of the story (although there was a highlight, for me, when he read out an email from an employee after his resignation which read "f*ck off, i never liked you anyway"!) it none the less made some interesting points. GD and the news team working for him received angry letters almost daily complaining about their coverage of the issues in Iraq... from Alaister Campbell. AC also commandeered interview shows on channel four to lecture the listening public on how the BBC's report was "a lie, a lie, a lie, a lie,...". On the one hand I almost admired AC for just having the nerve to try to pull off such a huge coup - buck-passing the blame for the conspicuously sexed-up dossier and the subsequent death of David Kelly, the troops lost out there and thousands of Iraqis in the direction of Dyke and co. On the other hand I can't help wondering if as he swept out of the studio angrily he didn't leave behind a whiff of sulphur...

Cruella "will not quit" blogging due to stress

Ok I have had a few days off, due to mainly having to go back to my old uni for a reunion dinner the details of which definitely don't bear publishing on the internet and various other commitments. However I am back now and stronger than ever,...

The whole hoo-haa about Tony and whether or not he wanted to quit office at some point earlier in the year is a bit daft. Strikes me as an attempt to engage in smoke and mirrors to obscure key things going on right now such as the fact that he's had to admit we're still at war with Iraq...

I suspect part of the cunning plan behind the deliberately "spun" story is to generate public sympathy. Poor Tony, it must be tough being in charge of the country, earning a raging fortune and being waited on hand and foot but an army of flunkies. If we need another sob story there are plenty in Iraq: civilians and soldiers on both sides injured, killed, tortured, broken. I'm sure a large number of them would happily swap jobs with Bliar. I also think we need someone to run the country who can give 100% to the job. Then maybe they could do stuff like checking intelligence reports thoroughly before marching to war.

Stupid republican idea of the week

Those clever men (note: men) over at the Republican party have had a great idea on combatting poverty: promoting marriage. Yes ladies, move back in with your abusive partners or starve to death... Luckily Kiersten Stewart at Gadflyer has writted this one up very succinctly, as I don't actually think I could do it without getting into a real rage and probably breaking my computer or something...

Note that Kiersten raises the very valid point that the benefits to children of growing up with two parents rather than one are almost entirely explained financially. Maybe someone should mention this to Fathers4Justice...

Monday, September 13, 2004

Women work harder than men - official stats

Turns out girls study harder than boys at university according to the BBC. Apparently thats why they get more 2:1s and higher grades. Meanwhile boys get more 1sts than girls because they study so-called "hard" subjects which hand out a disproportionate percentage of the firsts. Of course its pretty hard to say which are the "hard" subjects - they list "computer studies" as an example. But its classic chicken and egg, if language students were 95% lads probably languages would be considered the hardest subject. Still - nice one girls!

Would you let this man look after your kids?

Fathers "4" Justice are at it again. This time while the UK is allegedly on "high" terror alert, or whatever it is at the moment, some pratt in tights and a leather-effect mask is burning up the cash the police should be spending on catching real "baddies" by trespassing halfway up a Buckingham Palace wall.

If I donned my "stop the war" T-shirt and did the same thing I'd say there's a reasonable chance I'd be shot. I'm not exaggerating incidentally: according to the story on the BBC "Sir John (Stevens, Metropolitan Police Commissioner) said police made a split-second judgement that Mr Hatch was not a security risk because of the way he was behaving and the clothes he was wearing - and for this reason they did not open fire." So expect a run on batman outfits for the international terrorist community this week.

Well aside from the absolute stupidity of the guy, the fact that these F4J are getting a hugely disporportionate amount of press coverage relative to how many of them there are, etc, etc he must have some point to make so lets have a look at what he's protesting about...

He wants greater access to kids for non-resident parents. Well that's a good enough cause right? Its got to be good for kids to spend time with their Dads. As a general principal I would completely agree. Personally I suspect that most single mothers would agree with that statement too. Here are a few issues I have with it though:

1) If these guys are so keen to see their kids - why didn't they/don't they apply for custody? Well maybe some did/do but statistically it's a tiny number. If they're not prepared to take on the responsibilities of looking after a child then shouldn't we let the person who HAS taken on the responsibilities make the decision on what they do at weekends. Do people who give their kids up for adoption have visiting rights? I think not.

2) Life as a single mother is not easy. We should realise that. Giving fathers legal rights to access their kids at certain times and for certain time periods places a further burden of organisation on someone who probably really doesn't need it.

3) Lets not forget (lest we ever...) that 1 in 4 women is a victim of domestic violence during their lifetime. In a typical year 500,000 women will be victims of domestic violence in the UK while 25,000 men will have contact orders for access to their children broken*.

*The shock-horror statistics will tell you that this is half of the contact orders made. So why are only 50,000 contact orders made? Well because everybody else either is able to have access without an order, or didn't bother applying for an order, doesn't want to see their kids or was turned down by the courts as not fit to have access to the kids.

Don't get me wrong here, I do believe that in an ideal world every kid would have a wide range of adult role models including both of their biological parents, their grandparents, etc. But this is the real world and while that lot are busy breaching national security... someone else is looking after the kids!


Went to see it on Sunday and it's excellent. Well worth seeing. Essentially a lot of it is barely fiction but I think if anything the experience of being IN the darkened theatre rather than the crowded train hits home a little harder the feeling of what war is or might be like. Its pretty funny in places too if you can manage to laugh at such dark and worrying matters. There is a review on culturevulture that i think is relatively balanced. Better still why not go along yourself? Tickets can be bought online here.

John Snow

The BBC has seen their way clear to publishing a nice article about John Snow. Well worth reading for historical interest although one point they fail to make is that there is a very nice pub named after him just next to where the nasty water-pump was - corner of Lexington Street and Broadwick Street. I feel his memory would be well-served by a refreshing ale or two there at some point.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Going too far?

The BBC reports nearly $3bn has been spent so far rehabilitating the relatives of those who died in the world trade centre. It doesn't say exactly how many people this money has been split between nor does it give much in the way of detailed breakdown of how it has been spent.

So here's the maths: The total dead in the incident was around 3,000. So for each person who died an average of $1m has been spent helping their family members. Thats a lot of money. Some families have, according to the article received several thousand dollar in actual payouts and on top of this large amounts have been spent on therapy options particualrly for the children involved.

Since the majority of those working the towers will have been well-paid family bread-winners, this is not as shocking as it sounds although I do have the feeling that some of the people involved will be laughing all the way to the bank after charging well over the odds for art therapy, music therapy, aromatherapy, etc (all of which I am fully prepared to believe have a positive effect - i just wonder where the line falls between letting kids be kids and draw pictures with some 50c crayons and charging serious dollars for "art therapy").

However there are two more significant issues I felt the need to raise in the light of the article:

1) How much of this stuff is being offered to victims families in Iraq, Afghanistan, etc. Answer: nothing. Even the 50c pack of crayons is well out of the price range for many families who have been affected by US and UK military action in these places.

2) Is there an element to this on-going focus on therapy, the fact that they are still trying to identify remains and still holding funerals, and the fact that it is talked about day in day out by the US government which might actually be dragging out the pain these people are going through?

The widow of one of the victims said: "To be murdered live on television is unusual enough. To get to see it every day for three years - there's not a day you don't hear it, or see it. On the other hand, you don't want people to forget. It just hurts so much."

And another: "The repeated invocation of 9/11 at the recent Republican convention has been hard to bear. I was watching with my daughter, and it was brought up so much. I don't think I resent the fact they did it, but there could have been less imagery involved all the time."

Stop Press

...I'm suitably delighted to report that Osama "the hat" Bin Laden's secret underground hide-out has been uncovered! Have a look at this!

From the international desk...

Well I do like to trawl through papers far and wide and leave no stone unturned in my quest to... ok my mate sent me this (the second letter). Well I'm not sure how long these things stay on websites but here's the text of a letter to the "Herald Review", a local Illinois paper, which I must admit is not usually the first thing I pick up off the mat in the morning:

"Use of God shows morality

I have never written a letter to the editor, but after reading the letter "Bush is using Christianity, God as a way to get votes" in the Sept. 4 newspaper, I felt I had to.

I think this is a great way to get votes. A born-again Christian is one who stands for moral values, such as marriage between man and woman and any abortion is murder. Both of these are sins, and God cannot stand sin.

Our nation was founded by our fathers, who were God-fearing men. Did you ever stop and think about 9/11? This could be a way to wake us up, as this country is getting more immoral each day. If we get too evil, we could end up having a dictator like Saddam.

Praise God for freedom of speech. I don't know what to think of John Kerry, but because I believe in God, I will not ever vote for someone who is for gay marriage or abortion.

I pray that God will have mercy on our great nation. I beg for everyone to remember that someday we will all stand before God, whether we believe it or not.

John W. Moon


This is pretty scary. This guy seems to have the impression that Saddam Hussein is pro-choice and pro-gay marriage. This is news to me. If anything though the most frightenng part of the letter is the opening where he points out that he's never written a letter to a newspaper editor before because it hints at just how many hundreds of thousands of similarly-minded people there might be out there.

The other tricky issue is that there isn't a great deal of detail in my copy of the bible about the legality of civil partnerships and the rights (or otherwise) of a woman over her foetus. You really have to look hard to find that stuff. I did notice quite early on though there was a big section where God (whoever she is), quite clearly said "Thou shallt not kill". Etched it on some big stone tablets, thought it was obvious...

Not that it makes much odds to Dubya, I'm sure he will just rig the results anyway if he doesn't get enough votes.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Interesting viewing

Did anyone else see "Don't Worry!", described as "Britain's first investigative consumer affairs series with puppets!" last night? Today I can't seem to find out any info about it except a bare-bones listing on the Channel 4 website. Last night's was about the oil industry and the pending distruction of the entire planet. The highlight was the discussion of "greenwashing". Better still right after the discussion on greenwashing there was a commercial break and one of the adverts shown was "E$$O has been investing in the fuels of tomorrow..." one of these classic efforts where no actual numbers on the % of profits or revenues being invested are offered, just a lot of pictures of sunsets and kiddies and stuff. Exactly what they had just been talking about.

My watching it really just preaching to the converted. But it makes a nice point, with the puppets, that you don't need to be Einstein to understand things like environmental issues. Its a strange time-slot but perhaps it will catch a few people unawares and spread a little healthy discomfort.

Is the government stopping the media covering the story about the government stopping the media?

Ok maybe that's a bit of an overstatement but when famous Hollywood celebrities come over to London and get involved in smaller-scale theatrical productions, usually there is so much press about it it gets pretty boring. Not so the latest Tim Robbins play "Embedded", now playing at the Riverside Studios in Hammersmith. Seems that poor old leftie Robbins has been leftie-out in the cold, etc, etc (insert own weak pun here). Anyway finally the BBC seem to have noticed today here although they say it received poor reviews (where?). But better still, just think of all the people who log on to Cruella-blog... Don't worry Tim, you'll be sold out in no time. Seriously folks, it looks like an interesting piece. I'm going to go at the weekend and I'll post a review up when I get back.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Whatever happened to good old fashioned face paints?

Spotted this on the BBC website. Interesting statistics on the % of children who wear make-up regularly. Amazing their response to this is not to ask searching questions of the government about whether young children are being exposed to too much unhelpful advertising (a bugbear of mine, expect a lot more blogging about this on here) but instead to propose installing lipstick vending machines in schools!

Personally I don't wear make-up except for the occassional fancy party, I gave it up about five years ago having at one stage been a can't-leave-the-house-without-it gal. And I'd never go back now. I've tried asking a few of my friends who do wear it daily why that is and they say things like "I have terrible skin", "I look so old without it" and "I just feel weird without it". No-one said that they thought they looked particularly glamourous or more professional WITH make-up. Surely somewhere back at the dawn of time, make-up was about making yourself look good, rather than disguising the terrible secret fact that you look ghastly without it.

I guess the advertisers cunning ploy has got us all fooled. These days we "need" make up rather than feeling that its a luxury we can enjoy but also live without if needs be. Which reminds me of the recent TV show (which I deliberately missed) on the beauty school in Kabul. Now I can appreciate that any money-making scheme for Afghan women is likely to be a positive step and frankly anything is better than nothing. Still you can't help thinking we've started to treat perceived, conventional, market-dictated beauty (i.e. not the real stuff) as a necessity. And we're helping to push the idea along to the world's poor and the under-10s.

Proposed action:

1) Lets all stop wearing make-up. Actually its good for you too, I have much better skin since I stopped.

2) Lets stop buying those magazine that are full of that sort of advertising. Little girls only want magazines like that cos they see grown-ups reading them. So lets stop, the rest of the content is usually rubbish anyway.

3) Lets lobby parliament to ban advertising which is aimed at children. This law does exist in parts of the world, lets join in.

Welcome to my new Blog

Hi there. Well this is all new to me so apologies right now if it takes a while to get up to speed or if it turns out that I am not smart enough to type straight or something. Hopefully over time it will take shape and be quite interesting.