I need a diary secretary

14 March 2011

…I just had to write this email to my poor friend Matt:

Until Saturday I was double booked on Monday. I then rearranged one Monday to the Tuesday. Then I realised I’d double booked Tuesday. So I rearranged Tuesday to Thursday. Since then Monday cancelled and I moved Tuesday to Monday but Tuesday had actually been tripple booked originally. So Monday is now Monday. Tuesday 1 is Tuesday. Tuesday 2 is Thursday. Wednesday is Wednesday and Friday I am going home. All of which means I had actually double booked you on Thursday so can we meet another time instead… maybe next Thursday?


Moralising at tangents

25 August 2010

I was pointed to an amazing moralising Christian article by a Facebook friend recently. I’m not going to make any judgment on the diary piece in the Newyorker magazine it refers to. But I will copy one incredibly written but fabulously tangental paragraph from it.

“Why do we allow ourselves to be raped repeatededly [SIC] by the homosexual media? Who are they to invade our lives? They lure our teens and 20-somethings off into darkness with nasty promises. They violate the conscience of millions of Californians with activitst judges. They taunt the vulnerable even on our tv sets, adding subversive messages to every child’s show, from Glee to True Blood. And they are not finished yet. Once they grab the young generation from the real world, they are not even close to being finished. Who could describe or truly know what our Malthusian future holds? For now, they destroy our values with each stomp of their damp, musky sneakers on after-hours disco floors, crushing our very souls as harsh lights illuminate their flourescent Charlie Brown t-shirts and cocaine-pale faces and even then they find new frenzies, rubbing harder and harder into each other, aspiring to the perfect veneral opprobrium to all the hopes and dreams that people like Sarah Palin represent”.

I have a number of problems with this. I won’t go in to them all but

  • since when has True Blood been a child’s show?
  • was the Judge in California really activist? Or just implementing the law?
  • what are these hopes and dreams Sarah Palin represents?

It’s a wonderful piece of prose but the implication that the homosexual media lures people is plain wrong. You can’t be told to be gay. And where I lose all respect for the writer is the implication that homosexuals are all disco dancing drug fueled sex-maniacs. By all means – from your point of view – criticise 28, male, Williamsburg, gay [who wrote the Newyorker diary] but sweeping generalisations and aggressive assertions do nothing to sell your point of view to an intelligent reader. More importantly, though – how far off of the original point of view is this? And why say that Williamsburg is “stone’s throw away” from Ground Zero when that stone would have to be thrown over three miles, if not only to exaggerate outrage? This is moralising at tangents.

There’s a lot wrong with the gay scene. Attitude’s issues issue, and the Observer report on it, prove that clearly. But surely it would be far more constructive to seek to change that, to provide alternatives, to help the disproportionately large proportion of gays who suffer problems of mental health.

The fact that “the result of living as a stigmatised minority is that you self-medicate” with drug and sex addictions proves how much damage articles like ChristWire’s do. If that’s your point of view surely it’s better to do something proactive than moralising and making sweeping judgments.


Germany’s out

13 July 2010

So the German football team is a “bunch of gays”. Although I’m not sure who the “experts” that “estimate that around 10 per cent of all Bundesliga professionals are gay” are (experts in gayness? football? gay football?) it would not be surprising if the team which as been “celebrated for being the youngest in 76 years and more ethnically diverse than any team in Germany football history” had a few gays in there too.

Football – perhaps sport in general – is an area where being gay is still a tabboo. Just look at how few gay athletes were at the Beijing Olympics. It’s one of the reasons the Gay Games still exists – that and a lot of the gay teams that enter are perhaps not up to the caliber of more professional teams – this year, ironically in Cologne, Germany. I wonder if any of the German football team will turn up? I also wonder if Britain can do any better at making London 2012 athletes feel comfortable coming out? Wouldn’t that be a wonderful legacy to leave sport?


Drill Baby Drill!

5 June 2010

The Gulf oil spill is a disaster. Environmentally, economically – at least for BP – and socially, for those whose lives are affected. For those of us in the UK who can’t quite comprehend the scale of this disaster this map (from 1st June) is a good comparator (click on image for full size view).

Sarah Palin, Hockey Mum of Alaska, knows exactly where the blame lies. Firstly does she not trust BP, because it’s a foreign company (it’s obviously the fault of those devious Brits!). Now she’s blaming environmentalists. Oh, no, sorry – extreme environmentalists.

Perhaps she hasn’t noticed the non Deepwater disasters in countries that – although some way from the USA – provide 40% of it’s crude oil imports? And she seems to be ignoring the fact that those environmentalists concerned with the environment are not just worried about the land that’s dug up (although sometimes that land is worth worrying about). But will America change it’s oil consumption obsession? Will we, in the UK? The only way to drive this forward is by looking at the issue as a whole – looking at the environmental agenda as a whole – and the impact of, not just spills, accidents, disasters, but oil use on the economy and on society. We fight wars over it. It socially excludes people – not just the cost of petrol to drive to and from work, but the cost implications for food, for example. We need to look at our use of fuel (again, as a whole – the need to travel, local sustainability) not just the source of our fuel (which is essential to look at).


Sciccors and Kylicious loving

1 June 2010

Two new videos have caught my attention this week. I recently linked to the Scissor Sisters teaser track, Invisible Light, and haven’t been able to stop singing it since. It’s a brilliant track, made all the better by Sir Ian McKellen’s spoken section talking of “Babylon, where mortal diamonds tower”, a place where “whores, gladiators and party children all wake from their slumber”.

But this isn’t the first track to be released as a single. That honour goes to Fire With Fire, the video for which was released this week. Loving it (can’t wait to see them in three weeks time).

The new Kylie video for All The Lovers has also just been released. Although not quite as excited as my friend Gari, I’m loving the video. Although the sexualness of the video reminded me of a news story I also heard about today. As you watch the video (white inflatable elephant and all) and see all of Kylie’s lovers writhe about beneath her, boy-girl, girl-girl, boy-boy, spare a thought for the number of indirect lovers that would amount to… Sex & The City’s four girls [indirectly, at least] had 115 MILLION partners between them. Play safe guys.


Salad days

23 May 2010

As I type, with some difficulty, I’m swinging back and forth on a hammock on the balcony of my new flat. I guess the annoying thing is the fact that the sunlight streams in at about 3.30-5.30pm. It’s amazing. I love it. Sadly, it’s also while I’m sat in an office with a north facing window. I’d love to be out in the sun. Maybe it can be arranged.

The last few days of brilliant warmth and sunshine have been amazing. I don’t understand how anyone could fail to be affected by the miserable weather that permeates our British lives so often. As soon as the sun comes out I change as a person.

With a balcony that catches the sunlight not only have I planted a small herb garden, there’s also salad on my balcony. Although I’ve realised that growing salad from scratch isn’t always so easy. As lovely as freshly cut salad is it doesn’t have the same tenderness as the prepared babyleaf salads. Still, I’m sure I’ll learn how to grow leaves and love the fact – in time – that what I am eating had been growing seconds before. Albeit on my balcony. Albeit next to a main road. Albeit I have really very little idea what I am doing.


I recall…

28 April 2010

…once wearing odd shoes on a date. They were both the same colour, but very very different to each other. And I didn’t realise until a couple of hours in.

Can’t be that bad though, maybe it’s a good trick to learn. After all, over five years later we’re still together…


Stuff!

1 April 2010

I’m moving flat. I last moved flat just a year ago, although I’ve lived in different parts of Camden Town for years.

Yesterday I got a set of keys that kinda scared me. Keys to my own flat – well, a flat that I own 25% of. You think I could afford my own flat in NW1?! Pah!

It’s taken three days to pack so far. And I’m about 80% done (just those fiddly little bits left, very annoying!). The more I think about the packing the more I realise just how much stuff we accumulate. I mean, is this what life is? Belongings? Earn the money, buy things – big things, little things.

I must have given hundreds of pounds worth of CDs and VHS Videos to a charity shop. I must have thrown so many things I’ve spent money I have earned on away. And what for? Why did I own them in the first place?

I guess that owning ‘stuff’ is more tangible than spending money on things like holidays, food or experiences. But Is it not still a waste? Am I to blame or is it the consumerist society?

Perhaps moving to my new flat which is – necessarily – smaller (so I can afford it!) means I’ll have to re-evaluate my life of ‘stuff’ and make my life a one of meaning, of emotions, of ‘things’ that mean something – tangible, or intangible.


Age Crisis

8 March 2010

Today I am officially old[er]. This scares me.


Climate Change Repackaged

16 January 2010

I saw this post on a friend’s facebook wall and, with his permission, am posting it here… Some good arguments:

The problem with selling climate change is that the world typically divides into two camps: those who care about ‘the environment’, by which they mean non-human organisms, on aesthetic or moral grounds, or more often on an unclear mix of the two, and those who don’t.

The former group, let’s call them Camp 1, champion the eating of lentils and the wearing of hair shirts because they wish to preserve the non-human parts of Nature at the cost of convenience to ourselves. The latter group, Camp 2, don’t share those same aesthetic/moral values and therefore live by their OWN codes of morals and aesthetics, which does not involve any particular consideration for non-human organisms.

Now we discover that the climate of the entire planet is rather unstable, partly or mostly due to our own (largely unwitting) actions. In fact our best guesses, based on the evidence we can gather, suggest that huge changes may be imminent which will wreak major destruction on (a) non-human organisms (so-called “Nature”) and (b) our own species.

Camp 1, the hair-shirters, respond to this with calls for less consumption, more protection of ‘Nature’, and spiritual improvement. In short, they continue to put out the same message. And of course this message does not reach Camp 2, because they still do not share the same aesthetic and moral values.

But tragically Camp 2 don’t realise that in fact this is not a hair-shirt, Nature-aesthetic issue AT ALL! It just seems to be, coincidentally, because some of the same policies (reducing our impact on the environment) are involved. But actually climate change is definitely a Camp 2 issue: massive destruction on a global scale is all just a part of Nature’s own feedback loops, and undoubtedly in millenia to come other forms of life will come to prosper. No, the reason we should act to stop climate change is because it is going to hurt US!

The problem is that most activists are Camp 1 type people who don’t even really understand Camp 2 people. It is pretty hard to understand people who don’t share your aesthetics and morals (Islamist jihadists, pedophiles, etc). So they continue to suggest we ‘protect Gaea’. Camp 2 people continue to ignore them and also don’t act on climate change.

I suggest that any and all people interested in saving what we still can of the planet immediately STOP presenting it as an environmental, ecological, green issue, and instead present it as a straightforward issue of SAVING OUR OWN NECKS for two reasons: number one because this is the most effective way to present the issue to Camp 2 types, and number two because, much as it might seem unpalatable, it’s true.


Resolutions on food

4 January 2010

So I’ve already spouted my wisdom on New Year’s Resolutions: nothing too much, relative, bit by bit. I might even be keeping them already (if I can tell). I’ve certainly been working harder, today anyway. And going to the gym has caused me muscle pain, so that one’s working too.

So I thought I’d share something written by a food-blogging Twitter friend of mine (the same one I debated the killing, eating, skinning and general murder of animals with. Like me, he’s the resolution, not revolution kind of guy. And I’m a great believer in his theory about diets “Weight lost on rigid diets invariably returns like a boomerang. ‘Detox’ is bunk”.

“We should be wary of overhauling the way we eat just because we’ve started a new Dilbert calendar. Stripping fat from our food and leaving the sugar tongs unpinched won’t, in themselves, bring us happiness”.

Which is why, despite over-indulging on the stilton and mince pies (there’s still loads of Christmas chocolate, mince pies, panetone and cheese left in my flat if anyone would like to help out), I’m not dieting. Just eating a little more sensible. Sure I’ll cut down on the cheese and fat, maybe out half a sugar in me double espresso in the mornings, rather than a whole one. But I’m not a dogmatic-dieter.

A varied diet is key (OK so I’m vegetarian out of choice, but still have a wide range of culinary delights within that constraint). Not too much fat, not too much low-fat. Whatever makes me happy – holistically (the stuff going in my mouth, the impact it has on my body, my mind and my spirit).

As my food-blogging friend says:

“Tweaking a few manageable things in our food will likely help us more than puritan upheavals, with their threadbare misery, disappointed relapse and bitter stabs of regret”.


New Year’s Resolutions

31 December 2009

So I always say I never make New Year Resolutions. The truth is I do. I just don’t tell anyone. The reason I don’t tell anyone is because, inevitably, they fail. Whether it’s after a week, a month, or six months, they always fail.

I guess that it’s bound to happen. You set yourself up with a challenge; usually a negative one. With no end-point, no measure of success other than for the whole year “I will not do X”. It’s impossible. How can you keep it up over the whole year?

Why should resolutions be negative anyway? What a terrible way to start the new year. Maybe I should just give up on the resolutions. Resolve not to change a thing. Well, that’s what I had thought until I saw a tweet saying “2010 wont be any different to 2009 unless you make it different”.

Now with a challenge like that, there’s no way I could say no. So I have to make some resolutions. The challenge: new years resolutions that are a change for the good, a positive, that you will be able to keep through the whole year. Something that’s relative to 2009, not abstract.

So here goes, in 2010 I will:

  • Love a little more;
  • Worry a little less;
  • Be more honest;
  • Be a little smarter;
  • Pause a little more;
  • Keep up the exercise;
  • Say what’s on my mind, but not so much that it’s destructive;
  • Work a little harder, but not drive myself into the ground;
  • Be a little more me.

Merry Christmas

26 December 2009

Merry Christmas from WH Smiths in the midlands. on sale by 23 December. seriously guys, Christmas hadn’t even arrived!


Camden sky scene

18 November 2009

This morning’s sky over Camden Town looked wonderfully dramatic as I left home this morning.


Meat, Fur and Blood

27 October 2009

So restaurant critic AA Gill has admitted he shot a baboon on safari “to get a sense of what it might be like to kill someone”. For fun. He’s apparently been attacked on Twitter and by columnists for the insensitive way he expressed his desire to feel what it’s like to kill a person. The League Against Cruel Sports. “If he wants to know what it like to shoot a human, he should take aim at his own leg”.

A food blogging Twitter friend of mine rightly said that the Twitter mob out to get him was ‘absurd’: “Can’t believe AA is now [a] trending [topic on Twitter]. The twitmob is absurd sometimes. Yes, it was a cruel, stupid thing to do. Get over it”. But he then went on to link to a piece by AA Gill “arguing fur is a good thing”. You know, he may have a point (I admit, I didn’t read the article). But I Tweeted back – “You have no problem with fur?!” I said, “Maybe if you’re in the arctic – but there’s a difference between ‘fashion’ and ‘practicality'”, then got very riled by his response “Fur predates concept of fashion. Arguments against it based on same class hatreds as arguments against fox hunting.”. I replied that “fur is generally unneccessary, unlike leather (where good alternatives are rare and expensive) – i am fine with it’s use when necessary but not as a fashion extra. [The use of fur] predating [fashion] is a ridiculous argument as [there have] been many advances in fabric technology since”. My friend pointed out that he’d bought a rabbit fur hat in Russia (to which I replied “let the russians wear rabbit fur hats. it gets cold there. you don’t need a rabbit fur hat, or fur trim collar, in London”) which he wears for skiing. Now I have no problem with the use of fur where justified but i think that “if there’s a viable, affordable alternative that works well, fur is unnecessary & shouldn’t be used”.

The debate continued, moving into the realm of fox hunting – the argument being that arguments against fur were based on class hatred, just as for fox hunting – dislike of “arrogant horsey people” by “angry poor people”. The argument was put that recreational hunting is “not pretty, but it’s not evil either, and nor should it be banned” and that “The fox isn’t tortured: it’s ripped to pieces in seconds. And the chase is as natural as anything you could think of”. Now I have no problem with nature, animals chase and kill each other all the time. But they do so for a reason (usually food) – not generally for sport, followed by a bunch of men in red coats with horns. Another friend of mine joined in and pointed out that an official inquiry identified that “foxes were often not killed by bites to the neck but further down the abdomen”. Not only that, but the argument that – prior to the (to my mind, traumatic) kill – the fox is chased counts as torture. I argued that “fox hunting is clearly an unnecessary, cruel and barbaric blood sport”.

There was another, far more important story, in the papers today about animals. It’s not about going vegetarian to save the planet, it’s about the need to think about the implications of your diet on the environment. Climate change expert Nicholas Stern has said:

I think that once people understand the great risks that climate change poses, they will naturally want to choose products and services that cause little or no emissions of greenhouse gases, which means ‘low-carbon consumption’. This will apply across the board, including electricity, heating, transport and food. A diet that relies heavily on meat production results in higher emissions than a typical vegetarian diet. Different individuals will make different choices. However, the debate about climate change should not be dumbed down to a single slogan, such as ‘give up meat to save the planet’.

I’ve posted about this before but it’s worth saying again. Food production accounts for 15-20% of the UK’s carbon emissions, much caused by livestock. One study from 2007 suggested that the CO2-equivalent emissions of global warming gases from beef production could be as much as 50 times the weight of the meat itself. Chris Goodall has pointed out that “the reaction to Lord Stern’s statement has been unpleasantly vicious. People have seen his views as another illustration of how “climate change” will be used as an excuse for the elite to limit the choices of ordinary people. We are already being told to drive less, not to fly and to buy dim lightbulbs. Stern’s comments suggest a future campaign to reduce our hamburger consumption”.

But we certainly need to do something. Perhaps a large climate footprint can become as socially unacceptable as drink driving, as Stern has suggested. Do you really need to eat meat as often as you do? Think of the impact you’re having on the planet (let alone the impact on your own health) next time you’re grilling your sausage or buying a chicken sandwich.


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