Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Fox Hunting

Having lived a few years overseas in various places where it was pretty difficult to escape having to listen to Fox News allt he time, I have a deep and tightly coiled hatred for them. There is no depth to which they won't sink. They can use outright lies int he same sentence as their "fair and balanced" tag-line. Barf. This is what they're doing right now to try to discredit Barack Obama.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Jesus is Dead

James Cameron has "found" the tomb of Jesus. Apparently he's burried alongside his wife Mary Magdalene and his son Judah, just as we were all expecting having read the Holy book (by Dan Brown).

Mr Cameron is at pains to point out however that "the discovery of the tomb does not mean that Jesus was not resurrected three days after his death ". Quite right too - it's the monstrous tsunami of well-documented, repeatable, medical and scientific evidence that means Jesus was not resurrected.

Comment is Free

In my cunning guise of "Kate100" I actually managed to get my comment published on the Guardian website today. So much more I could have said if they'd let me...

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Bury St Edmunds fringe early warning

For the benefit of Suffolk-based Cru-blog readers, I have just been booked to perform at the Bury St Edmunds fringe festival. I shall be there on 30th April and 1st May. I don't know times and prices yet but the show will be called Apes Like Me at Benson Blake's bar on St John's Street. There'll be a first half featuring Mr Cru aka American comedian David Mulholland compering a variety of new acts, hopefully including some local ones, let me know if you know any local wise-guys/gals and then the second half will be me. And of course there'll be lots of Bury-related stuff.

Love All

Mark Lawson has been chosen by the powers that be at the Guardian to respond to the news that women will finally be paid the same in prize money as men are at Wimbledon. Why they don't ask a female or at least feminist writer is beyond me. He makes a right mess of things. Firstly he goes into the oft-repeated-seldom-thought-through arguement that the women's game is short, three sets rather than five. The stupidity of this line of reasoning is illustrated by asking any female tennis player on the planet whether she'd rather play five sets for full money or three sets for less. The answer will not vary much.

He other key points include: "The truth is that - however assiduously women's football, cricket and rugby are encouraged - it is unlikely that millions of viewers will ever tune in to see a Paula Gascoigne or Andrea Flintoff in the finals of their tournaments." Which you can go tell to the American women whose sport is considerably more popular with both viewers and players than the male equivalent.

And "The sports that involve physical contact or some risk of death - major ball games and motor racing - simply seem more susceptible to testosterone." When did cricket become a sport with physical contact? And how many football players are subject to a risk of death? And if he's in the mood to tell Laila Ali about how her hormones are all wrong for participating in dangerous sports, he may not live to regret it.

I can't help thinking that if, as he claims, women are naturally less drawn to sports than men, since we all need exercise to stay healthy, we should respond by putting more money into womens sport to encourage greater participation.

The real issue here is equal opportunities. If women are not allowed to compete in the men's game, then the prize money must be the same - otherwise the opportunity to earn is different. Wimbledon's move is outrageously overdue and still only solves a tiny fraction of the problem but at least it is a move in the right direction. Inviting Mark Lawson to comment on women's issues clearly isn't.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Operation Iraqi Freedom

Peace and democracy flourishing in Iraq...

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Cruella Would Pick...

...Someone other than David Cameron to run the country. David Cameron meanwhile has said he intends to pick "a faith school" for his daughter. Interestingly he doens't specify which faith so possible a Muslim madrassa or a Jainist commune?

Bizarrely his reasoning is that she might feel "lost" in a secular school. Personally I find a bloke in a frock telling me on the basis of no evidence whatsoever about angels living on clouds, how Jesus lives in my heart and how there's a holy book written by an all-powerful deity but it shouldnt' be taken too literally pretty bewildering. No offence to blokes who like to wear frocks by the way - you are not all priests...

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Skinhead Chicks...

Stop press. Famous woman shaves head. If she shaved her pubes and armpits we'd be a lot less excited about it. There's something rather irrational about getting excited about something so irrelevant to those not intent on rigorous gender boundaries. It's a lot like Man Wears Dress. So what.

Your favourite blogstress Cru had her head shaved a few years back and I can tell you that it met with the following reactions:

95% Oh my god, that's fantastic, you look amazing, can I rub it?

5% How are you finding the chemo? You don't? Why did you do it then?

And just in case anyone doesn't believe I really did it - here's me and my friend Roy, in Tokyo circa 2001:

Media Disorders

Reports from the International Committee for Stating the Blindingly Obvious suggest that media sexualisation of young girls isn't very good for, err, young girls. Try to contain your surprise and amazement.

When I was fifteen and rapidly developing anorexia nervosa I can remember very consciously thinking that adult women were treated like pieces of meat and I didn't want to be treated like that so I would keep my body super-thin and child-like. In wasn't a question of media influence, it was a clear thought-out decision. And these were the days before Lad Mags, the situation is a lot worse now.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Deeply Creepy

The government was half way through doing something about the wildly unregulated cosmetic "treatment" industry. Something much needed as the rates of people lining up for a quick shot of deadly botulism in the head. And now they've dropped the baton, can't be bothered, too much like hard work. They prefer to leave the industry to "self-regulation", which means no regulation at all, just let the cowboys carry on.

They say they're trying to avoid leaving medical professionals with too much "red tape" to get through, but reputable clinics are furious with the news, they want the chalatans who steal their potential customers and lead to media horror stories closed down.

So there must be some other reason for the issue being dropped. What could it be. Hmm, hmmm, still thinking ... how about backhanders, bribery and corruption? Just a theory.

Not In The Mood

A report discussed in The Independent says British women lose interest in sex as they get older, more than women on the continent do. This of course is a huge surprise to anyone who has considered whether they would rather go to bed with a 50-year-old beer-gutted, armchair-dwelling British guy or a 50-year-old wine-sipping, gourmet-dining Frenchman who probably bothers to have a proper shave and wear clothes made and bought this century.

In fairness the article does cover things from a variety of angles. One thing you've got to wonder though is whether Britain's "lad" culture is in any way a contributory factor. We are bombarded with images of very young women posing "sexily", I certainly see such images and feel a bit like they're part of a world that has nothing to do with me and my life.

On the same note as I was channel-hopping last night I found one of these ubiquitous "Top 100 as-voted-by-you" shows, this one offering the Top 100 Sexiest Moments. The usual line-up of minor celebs was discussing some clips from various films and TV shows which the public had voted for. Maybe I'm getting old and nothing does it for me any more but a lot of the clips people had picked just do nothing for me. Like the basic instinct Sharon Stone crossing her legs moment. It lasts half a second. You can't see anything, no matter how many times you replay it. It was just a well-hyped media "event". Then again I suppose so is the whole idea of calling in on a premium rate line to vote for your top sexy moment...

Friday, February 16, 2007

Getting The Knife In

As regular Cru-blog readers will know, I am not a big fan of organised (or even disorganised) religion. One thing Richard Dawkins and I agree on is that children can't be defined as religious until they're old enough to make their own choice on the matter. We should never refer to a Christian baby or a Muslim baby. I also think we shouldn't cut parts of baby's bodies off for reasons other than medical necessity.

To be honest I'm not even sure we should allow adult men to undergo circumcision voluntarily. We don't allow people to have limbs or fingers removed just because they want to. If I started the cult of the Holy Digits and said all my followers had to have their little fingers cut off, people would soon have me up in court. Yet even when babies are DYING no-one makes a fuss about circumcision.

Now of course we could have the debate about whether some guys like being circumcised. They may do, although once you've gone there there's no going back so it's difficult to know. I have a friend who was circumcised for medical reasons as an adult who thinks that he lost some sensitivity and sexual enjoyment, but not much. At very least shouldn't we wait until adulthood and allow guys to choose for themselves?

More Thought Needed

There are some aspects of David Cameron's suggestions about fathers looking after kids that I approve of. I do think that father's should be expected to put in the hours in terms of parenting as much as mothers. At the moment if a child is found abandoned on the streets - the mother is prosecuted, clearly it would make more sense if both parents were prosecuted. The idea needs more consideration though. We need to look at the 25% of women in this country who experience domestic violence. Clearly these women need the same level of support but not from their actual partners.

His second point - tax breaks (more tax breaks) to "help families stay together" is nonsense. It's much cheaper to share accommodation than to live alone, there are inherent savings in having a live-in partner. This really amounts to bribing people to stay in relationships that may not be working out. Those relationships are not the kind of places children benefit from growing up in.

We have to steer away from making rules that mean support is reduced for "unconventional" families: single mums and dads, step-parents, extended families and co-habiting partners and friends. children are best raised in happy homes, well above the poverty line. Biological parentage is not what counts.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

No Offence Taken

I did not watch last nights Brit Awards, I was in Chertsey having a wonderful time compering the weekly comedy club at Moore's Bar. What I missed was apparently "edgy" and for some "deeply offensive" humour from Russell Brand. Here's what he said (those of a sensitive disposition, close their eyes now...) "I think a good international breakthrough would be if the British and American soldiers tell each other where they are standing". Good line. The thing is though - if he wore a suit and had a sensible haircut no-one would be offended by that, it's the media trying to find controversy where there isn't any as usual.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Hirsute of Happiness

Well of course I'm biased, Shazia Mirza is a friend of mine and a very funny comedienne. Still I have to say this article in the Guardian about hairy women is just great. On a personal level I've always found guys a lot less bothered about body hair in private than they make out in public. I do shave, usually, but mostly because of the funny looks from other women at the gym if you don't. Some guys actively like it and most aren't bothered. Not what you would think from flicking through the Lad Mags. But then as we all know the lad mags aren't really trying to show attractive women, they're trying to show bullied and oppressed women. As with most porn, it's power, not sex, that's the turn-on.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Kiddie porn

There's an article on the BBC discussing how pornography has become a standard part of the lives of many young people in the UK. I'm not saying lad mags are solely to blame, but this is axactly why people like myself, Object and Clare Curtis-Thomas would like to see them moved to the top shelf (or just banned, I'm open-minded...).

Doctor, Doctor

Reading this article gave me a warm smug feeling. I've been a hater of "Dr" Gillian McKeith for some time now.

For those overseas readers unfamiliar with her work she shows up at the house of some poor overweight person who eats a lot of junk food and "cures" them. Her main tactics are shock and disgust. And rather phonily constructed shock and disgust too. So for instance she shows people a giant bath tub containing the equivalent amount of fat they eat in a year and then makes them get into the tub. I've never understood why people don't come back with the obvious retort - but Gillian of course it's disgusting - it's a years-worth of fat, not a meals-worth. Her other speciality is taking stool samples and telling people how disgusting their poo is. ... Of course it is - it's poo!!

Of course what she's really doing is making standard modern television. And that means making people cry, usually women. It's seems to be the main thing that shows aim for these days. Telling people their clothes, diet, lifestyle and even bodies are disgusting and helping them engage in drastic measure to improve the situation.

It's difficult to generalise about such shows, but there are some specific issues with them. Gillian McKeith's diets are based on totally phoney science. She recommends more fresh fruit and vegetables and less fast and processed food, no doubt good principles to be starting with. However she mixes these messages in with nonsense about superfoods and quasi-scientific explanations which as the article above shows, have no relation to real science. And the products she markets herself, apart from the ridiculous claims she makes about them, are wildly expensive. At best people are left confused and ripped off.

At the other end of the spectrum we have shows like "extreme makeover". Even here there is some stuff (a very small percentage) being done that I think is constructive. Some of the candidates have specific issues, such as adult acne, which can be treated very effectively to get rid of a problem which only a few adults suffer from. At the other end we hear about storylines like "Candace, a 29-year-old family support worker and mother of two from Lincoln, Nebraska, has been teased all her life about her looks." And the solution to being teased is $100,000-worth of life-risking surgery? These shows speed up into 30 minutes or an hour the several months of painful recovery needed after major surgery. They also completely gloss over the risk of dying under the knife as well as the risk of being unhappy with the results either immediately or several years later.

And the biggie in some ways is that no mention is made of psychological issues such as BDD - Body Dysmorphic Disorder - which candidates may be suffering from and which cosmetic surgery will certainly not solve and may exacerbate. This issue has been featured in the the press this week firstly in a very witty article by Clive James on the BBC. And secondly in the case of the death of Anna Nicole Smith.

Ms Smith had had extensive surgery on her face and body and openly stated that she was trying to make herself look like Marilyn Monroe, indicating to me at least that she was deeply unhappy with her own identity and appearance. As usual when a celebrity dies prematurely the first thing mentioned in the press is the possibility of an overdose. This may have been the case. It certainly wouldn't be unusual for a depressed BDD sufferer to turn to drugs. Another, perhaps complimentary, theory came to my attention in an article I stumbled across which suggests she may have had further surgery recently and that a resultant infection may have contributed to her death.

Of course what I'm not saying here is that there's something wrong with wanting to change your own life dramatically. And indeed sometimes to do that I fully accept that risks have to be taken. There are risks and avoidable risks though. Compulsory counselling from an independent party prior to cosmetic surgery would help identify those for whom the desire for surgery is a symptom of a deeper problem. Also taking Ms McKeith off the airwaves and her products and books off the shelves would be another good move.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Buster Keaton live at Soho Comedy Club!

As some of you will know we had comedy covers night at Soho Comedy Club just before Christmas as a charity fund-raiser for Wateraid. One of the highlights of the night was Anna Black doing a turn as Buster Keaton. You can I now discover watch the clip on Anna's website, and you should, it's great!

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Sentences That Piss Me Off #1

You know when you read something and it just makes you want to break things...

Elfi Pallis - not someone whose work I am familiar with is writing in the Guardian. Her opening line "Female ambition is a relatively new thing. " Really? So Joan of Arc and Boudiccia were just having a laugh were they? And the sufragettes? I mean sure, in western civilisation there has been and continues to be a big swathe of oppression all over ambitious women, but that really doesn't mean they didn't exist. Hiss hiss hiss.

More on Rape Convivtion Rates

Great article by Julie Bindel in the Guardian really goes through the subject in detail. Again she is drawn to the remark by a former senior police officer (HamishBrown) that convictions are hard to generate. He says "If there is too much in the defence's favour, such as she was carrying condoms, it is unlikely to result in a conviction". How can the police justify sending out the message that if you carry condoms you are consenting to sex with any and everyone you meet. What is this going to do for rates of STDs and unwanted pregnancies? And if you can convince a rapist to use a condom then you definitely should because the last thing you need is AIDs and an abortion to go with the trauma of watching him get away with it.

One paragraph, and I know that one-off examples prove nothing, etc, but...

"In 1998, a headline appeared in the local Grimsby weekly: "Man faces rape charge". He had dragged a 15-year-old girl down an alley and assaulted her. The CPS decided not to pursue the case. That man was Ian Huntley. At the time, he was not seen as a danger to the public, and neither are the majority of other "opportunist" rapists who get away with it."

Friday, February 02, 2007

Fact and Fiction

Anyone who has seen Al Gore's fantastic documentary An Inconvenient Truth will be as dismayed as I am to see the supposedly respectable BBC publishing a report from supposedly respectable scientists which claims that "Global climate change is 'very likely' to have a human cause". The link between human activity and climate change is not "very likely", it's "fact". The evidence is overwhelming. To imagine otherwise is like claiming that the pope is "very likely catholic" and bears "very likely" shit in the woods.

Doubt, as generated by phrases sure as "very likely", is the greatest weapon of the pro-polluting lobby. Just like the tobacco lobby used to claim it was just "very likely" that smoking could affect your life expectancy.

On the subject of the latter, I have given up again. Ouch.