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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Keeping it gay and light

A rare dip into politics for me here. From Balloon Juice's John Cole a profound comment on the state of society following the recent court ruling in New Jersey:

12 Hours have passed

Since the NJ decision regarding civil unions, and my parents are still married and I can’t marry my cat.


I hope that John forgives me for excerpting his whole post. My only criticism is that surely it is marriage to his turtle that is more likely than to a cat?

Turtles???? Dear God.
You should go and read Balloon Juice if you don't already (yes, I'm talking to you, my readership of 3!). It rarely disappoints.*

*corrected for stupid wording

Testing the new stuff

Well, I have upgraded to Firefox 2.0 and so far am not disappointed.  In fact this blog post was written in Performancing, the blog editing tool that comes as an extension; this post is a test to see what it looks like instead of having to navigate to Blogger.

When I get home I'll give it a go with posting some recent pictures (if I can get it to work...).
Can't yet find any way of changing the font, but I'll keep looking.

powered by performancing firefox

History and the "veil row"

Recently there has been significant controversy in Britain about Muslim women covering their faces. The most recent burst was sparked off by the case of classroom assistant who lost her job because the primary school children she was teaching couldn't understand her because of the veil she wore over all but her eyes.

There is probably a lot of misunderstanding on both sides of the argument I suspect. For example I see the wearing of a full veil as oppression of women, no doubt this impression was fueled by the Taleban in Afganistan. If I try and imagine someone forcing me to cover up to this extent I start to feel an upwelling of hatred and rage towards whoever that might be. Clearly a lot of this is cultural, I was born and bred in middle England and I wear what I want, within limits - different cultures have different limits.

I believe that a lot of women that do wear the veil see it in a very positive light. I'm happy to accept their view on that. However, as far as the classroom assistant row goes I side with the school - communication with young children requires the whole face, it's not just the words that are important but the facial expressions that go with them. As far as I understand it the veil wearing rules would have allowed her to do this anyway (provided there were no men in the room) and the school were happy to compromise and let her be veiled outside the classroom (the sensible part of me wonders why this even became an issue if there was a satisfactory solution........)

I could carry on at length and many people have I'm sure, I think a lot of it boils down to something more inherent than just a bit of cloth, so I was fascinated by the following article from the BBC (apologies to David if you still can't get BBC articles!)...

After a fashion

I can't vouch for the historical accuracy of the article (as Kav will tell you I know nothing about history!), but there are some very interesting parallels, make of it what you will........

Friday, October 20, 2006

Quite possibly the best news of the year

There is a plan afoot to turn Fraggle Rock into a film . I think everyone can agree that it just does not get better than that.

Also I managed to get the BBC to alter the story as there was a small inaccuracy in it. How geeky is that?

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I put a sweater on today, probably the first since April.
It was decidedly chilly (and raining) when I left the house this morning, and I didn't leave the house until 9:05 am.

I guess this means that Autumn is on us; the heating in the house had already started coming on in the evenings so the clues were all there. On the upside I saw (and heard!) a huge skein of geese flying south over the house; some things have the right idea: if it gets cold, head to warmer climes.
Perhaps I will see those same geese on AutumnWatch tonight.

Waste away

Some short time ago it was proposed that the local councils in England would start charging people for rubbish removal based upon the weight of their refuse. The idea being that this would encourage folk to recycle more instead of just throwing things into the bin. A noble aim to be sure.

Now it seems that some councils are putting the plan into action. My immediate reaction to this was to wonder how the council would guarantee fair charging. You see, I am a cynic and if I hear that we are going to be charged on the weight of our waste then I am pretty sure that a not inconsiderable number of crafty but tight people will realise that they can save money by placing their rubbish into other people's bins. I predict with 100% confidence that it will happen.

What safeguards can be put in place to prevent this dishonest dumping? Is it up to the council to introduce said safeguards or is the onus on the man-in-the street? I imagine some would argue that it is up to the individual to safeguard their bin from felonious dumping of waste, but this is nigh on impossible; if you live somewhere where your bin is left at the front of your house you will have to rely on catching the dumper at the precise moment of dumping. If you leave your bin in a shed or garage then you will have to remove it on collection day and place it on the street where the bin-men can gain access to it. If, like me, your collection is not until late morning (at the earliest) then there is ample opportunity for the dastardly dumper to deposit his or her trash.

Now let us say that you have discovered that someone has dumped into your bin without permission. What do you do? Do you remove the rubbish and put it in someone else's bin? That would make you just as bad as the first dumper (unless you are 100% certain you know where the alien trash came from). Do you leave it out of your bin? Where would you leave it? Your garden, the road, take it to the rubbish tip yourself? Why should that duty fall on you?

I have other issues with this new system. If implemented will we see a reduction in our council tax? At the moment rubbish collection is one of the services covered in our taxation but if we are to pay for the rubbish collection depending on weight will we be getting a reduced council tax bill or else a rebate? I suspect not, you see although the stated aim is all very noble I feel that it is not the driving force behind such a rapid take-up of a scheme that was introduced such a short time ago. I am genuinely curious as to how many other proposed schemes are acted upon so quickly after proposal in local government. I suspect that many sniffed the chance of raising their usable tax revenue and leapt on it without thinking the problem through properly.

Or maybe I am just being cynical...

Back in the real world

Well here we are back from holiday. If you are very lucky i might even post some of the photos that we took. Some nice lightning shots from a thunderstorm that was playing out over the Mediterranean. Our hotel was nice with a semi-private beach at the bottom of the cliff. The water was a little chilly but no where near as cold as the water in the pool; serious 'nad shrinkage!

Somewhat relaxing and now I am back at work ready and raring to go. Lots of energy for projects I should be working on but already things are slotting in above what I ought to be doing. Life as a researcher in a university departments seems to involve not as much research as one might like to do...