I am typing this on my new computer and using an ergonomic keyboard which is curved like an upside-down spoon. It has lots of short cut buttons that I’m eagerly anticipating using in my quest to become a Serious Writer Person… new computer, new start and all of that. Except I don’t have Microsoft Office or Photoshop and I spent about 75% of today asleep… also the spoon-keyboard is a little bit daunting. But I have a cup of tea, which is a necessity if one is to become a well-respected artiste, so all I need now is something to talk about…
Okay so first of all, my friend Hollie who hangs out here sometimes has started a blog of her very own. She only has one post so far but it shows promise of greatness. If you could all leave a comment and say hi it would be great, not only for her as a person but also because, as I understand it, female gamers are seriously under-represented and Pixel Scum is evening the playing field!
Right now down to business. Did you guys see this news story? Holy bats. I mean, the snake basically looks like the average human just after New Year…
… but snakes get to unlock their jaws.
Argh it’s been a week since I saw that and I’m still freaking out that Nagini will slither round the corner and eat my face.
In the interest of grossing you out further, a few years ago a Python tried to eat an alligator and exploded.
(I solemnly swear to never complain again when Fred or Donnie yawn in my face. Dog breath is bad but snake breath sounds like it should be toxic.)
I haven’t been sure what to talk about today because the week’s big news, Ukraine, is changing so fast that a blog would be redundant in about twenty minutes. In a lot of ways so would the Oscar Pistorius trial but Ruby and I were talking earlier about aspects of it, so let’s have a go. Not at the ‘this could be a crime drama’ element – though it could which is unnerving – nor the ‘he shot her deliberately! Ah no he didn’t’ element (let’s let the courts decide).
The thing that I haven’t seen anyone talking about, unless it’s just on blogs like this (which I don’t read because this is exhausting enough, is that bad?), is that the basic story of ‘person shoots other person apparently by accident and turns out to have a propensity for firearms’ is really similar to the stories that come out of the USA seemingly every week. This CBS bulletin explains that a man was charged with aggravated manslaughter of his three-year-old this week after she accidentally shot herself. A five-year-old’s death from a gunshot wound is believed to be accidental according to ABC. WPXI reports that a three-year-old has been hospitalised after accidentally shooting himself. All of those stories are from this week.
In terms of analysis, I reckon those stories raise two questions. One: why, if people own guns, are they loaded in places that small children can reach? If you feel that you need to own a firearm for sport, there is absolutely no reason why you can’t keep it in a purpose-built gun cupboard, preferably not loaded until you go out to shoot some deer or whatever. Children are generally smarter than adults in terms of the meaning of life but the best of them are usually kept out of anything that’s bigger than they are and difficult to open. Two: if you feel that you need a firearm for self-protection, as I believe is the general reason why South Africans own them and Americans won’t ever stop owning them, why can you not take half a minute to check that your gun is on your person and not anywhere a small child could reach? Let’s face it, your aim and judgement about when to pull the trigger is probably better than your toddler’s even if you are paranoid.
By the way, according to this fun map, America and the Yemen have the highest number of guns per hundred people and Colombia has the highest percentage of homicides by firearm. Yay. So, as good politics students, we’re going to discuss what these statistics imply. Here is a handy and completely unscientific list:
- A large number of people feel that it is in their best interest to own a firearm.
- Presumably this is because of their area’s crime rate and general safety atmosphere. Car jackings are so common in South Africa that one insurance company won’t cover a certain type of VW Golf because they’re too easy to jack. Taking steps toward self preservation is a-okay, right?
- Like the knife crime situation in the UK, owning a gun is probably more likely to get you hurt than to hurt other people who want to hurt you, which adds to the shitty aura of gun ownership.
- Nobody wins except gun manufacturers.
Oscar Pistorius claims he shot his girlfriend after mistaking her for a burglar and given South Africa’s notorious crime rate, he could well be genuine. Nobody’s questioning that the families of those toddlers had the guns for legitimate reasons (I’d dispute shooting game as ‘legitimate’ but if that’s your culture then I’ll judge you from afar because now’s not the time to explain about the circle of life). But people are being hurt and killed because at some point a person has decided that possessing a gun is a good idea… which begs the forty million dollar question: should we be taking these cases as a sign that there’s a picture bigger than ownership and intent and start focussing on the reasons why societies have made the ownership necessary? Because no one owns a handgun in little English villages where everyone throws garden parties with signs on the front door saying ‘It’s open and so’s the back :)’.
If that hasn’t completely depressed you please leave a message with your opinions so we can all feel like we contribute to the very society we’ve just realised is full of shit!
So I think something like two-thirds of this year’s Oscars nominations are based on true stories – 12 Years a Slave, The Wolf of Wall Street, Dallas Buyers’ Club, etc. (I’m assuming they’re nominated. I’ve seen them in the press, you know?!) On an almost entirely unrelated note, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s latest musical Stephen Ward is closing after a handful of months. I paid vague attention - not enough, clearly – because the actor playing Stephen Ward, who was involved in basically the first contemporary political sex scandal, was in Jesus Christ Superstar which was flipping brilliant and it got me thinking:
If you could make a film or musical about any news story, what would it be?
There are the heartbreaking stories, like the Ugandan tabloid that printed the names of gay people on their cover the day after homosexuality was made punishable by life in prison, which as a topic may well be made into a 12 Years-esque piece in years to come. So may the story of the women who were held in a basement in Ohio for, ah, almost twelve years. Or the Syrian civil war. Or the horrible one about an elderly lollipop man who was hit by a car while working.
Imagining them as films, they’re all up there with The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in terms of ‘things I wouldn’t pay money to see again’. Which is sometimes what turns a film from ‘interesting’ to ‘brilliant’ (hello again 12 Years) because sometimes we need fiction to teach us about reality.
‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ from static.tvtropes.org
On the other hand, we have the funny stories. Gordon Brown calling that woman a bigot. The time a woman put a cat in a bin. That Japanese toilet system that got hacked and started spewing out sewage. These might be more GIF material… I sort of want a musical about the toilet system though. Then there are the utterly brilliant and heart-warming stories, like Canada letting a child have three parents or Endal the dog who could get his owner’s cash out of machines for him. (I’m looking at you, Fred. Fred thinks that human objects are designed to be chewed; as far as I’m aware he’s never eaten our cash but he did nick an entire kebab the other day and got it clean off the skewer leaving only an unsavoury tomato. Part of me wants to reward his tenacity.)
But thinking about it, how many happy news stories get dramatised? No one wants to see The Day the Bus Driver Let Children Board for Free or Supermarkets: Assistants Are Lovely. We want Honey, I Think the Kid’s Self Harming and Kiddiefiddlers Unlocked Part 87.
Then there are the gross stories that are just made for bad adverts. You know those parent blogs where people live post their labour? Yeah. They’d be those adverts at the cinema that never, ever seem to end.
Right, current events that should be turned into films: go!
You know those weeks when you think it’s Wednesday when it’s Tuesday and Thursday when it’s Wednesday and Monday was a fortnight ago?
I also can’t remember what I wanted to talk about so let’s all talk about Pancake Day (which I thought was either yesterday or 30th March). Last year’s was my first unable to eat two thirds of the ingredients so I had a Lindt rabbit instead but I’ve found a recipe I want to try out which substitutes everything. Also found one for making your own version of Nutella, which is very tempting… I actually think I’m okay with normal Nutella.
I may make some anyway.
Right, favourite pancake toppings: discuss.
(I liked everything. Have individual flavours first then mix everything in one then for the final serving, presuming the mix hasn’t landed on the ceiling, choose your favourite and resolve to make pancakes more in the next year. Never do.)
Oh, and Scotch pancakes. Mmm. If I ever learn to cook in other ways than using a microwave, I might investigate all available types of pancake. Someone’s already done it with potatoes. Mmm, potatoes. Is there a designated potato day? Potatoes are the second-best food possibly ever and they deserve a day. Carbs and vegetables, people, simultaneously. The best food is the humble oat, because they can be manipulated to suit every meal of the day including dessert and they cost a tinny amount relative to their surface area and they cook faster than potatoes in a microwave.
I just read that back and it’s time to go to bed. I sort of want to stay up and think of puns about wild oats. Party oats.
Ruby drew some wild oats in English once. If you’re reading this please know that your face when we explained what the phrase means (as in, when Heathcliff was sewing ‘em) is in my top ten senior school memories.
That said, so is the time someone in History thought Osama bin Laden was one of the Beatles.
I haven’t been watching enough of the Winter Olympics, which should probably change because it sounds like the universe is about to take up curling. This week’s news is a little old but definitely relevant.
Beth Tweddle’s Twitter Q&A saga: Let’s judge women on their work, nothing else
The Independent pointed out that when Beth Tweddle did a Twitter chat at the end of January, she got trolled by a group of shitheads who probably wouldn’t send a male athlete the same sort of abuse. I follow Tom Daley on Instagram and something he posted the other day got an abusive comment – I can’t actually remember what for, exactly, but I don’t think it was about his looks. That said, he’s had his own issues with Twitter trolls so should we look past gender and focus on the fact that people on the Internet use the Internet as an excuse to be shitheads? Or are they shitheads anyway and do we need to continue to tackle everyday sexism and bullying? Or all of the above?
Beth Tweddle’s vile Twitter abuse: Women, it’s time to shout back at trolls
The Telegraph was a bit vague in its point but helpfully displays some of the Tweets for us all to enjoy. I suppose that by writing this I’m adding my voice to the people standing up against trolling – and sexism – but is it going to do anything? Not unless somebody read this and thinks “Oh yeah. Calling a woman a slut when a) I’ve never met her so have absolutely no right to call her anything including an insulting word and b) I wouldn’t say it to her face is stupid. I won’t do it anymore.” On the other hand, is a boycott of social media going to do anything to improve trolling matters? If you ignore someone they’re likely to get bored, but I must admit that I’d be tempted to research the user, find out some personal details, e.g. their address, and put up a sign on heir front door which details how shitty they are. Then I’d ignore them.
Or maybe I’d hide under a rock for the rest of my life.
Sky Sports presenter Charlie Webster speaks of sex assault
This is a bit different: a Sky Sports presenter about whom I knew nothing until she went on the radio discussing sexual abuse she received from a sports coach discussed what she went through and said that when she was being abused it was “one of these taboos, like domestic abuse is now”. Hopefully just by saying that she’s done something to alleviate both taboos – and the fact that it was splashed all over the news should help even more. Course, just talking about abuse isn’t going to practically help anybody who’s suffering, but it’s a step… that said, I’m not entirely sure how to practically help somebody in that situation, because I’ve never known anybody in it.
I’ve also never been Twitter-trolled, which begs the question: how can people who know how to combat these issues teach the rest of us how to? Do we need online classes or school classes or TV shows covering the topics or bus posters…?
I dunno. Thoughts?!
I think that if adults had half terms, their output would be highly improved and would not only counteract the extra time off but also contribute more to the economy.
For example, this week I have walked my dogs, worked on homework (not as much as I should but more than I sometimes do in term time), sorted out 8,000 things that I’ve been putting off since Christmas and been to the cinema.
Speaking of stuff I’ve done, please go and have a look at the new and improved Webways layout, which is hopefully clearer than the old one. I’ve also slashed prices on Etsy because a lot of listings end soon and I kind of want to clear out old stock to make way for shinier stuff in the coming months. Essentially, I have a lot of stationery lying around that I want to make into art and – hopefully – sell. Don’t worry, it won’t be recycled greetings cards with ‘Customised by Francesca’ written in Sharpie across the front… I’m thinking of it as a fun challenge, one which ideally we all benefit from (me from having a cleared cupboard and some petty cash and you from having some excellent artwork that cost distinctly less than one of those contemporary pieces no one understands).
Basically that’s me asking you to buy my stuff, awkward. On the other hand, by purchasing my stuff you’re helping to fund this thing, which is wonderful. To conclude this slightly rambling I-should-go-to-bed post, here is a GIF of a little dog:
The movement’s really slow on the main blog for some reason: click and it’ll speed up. The website watermarked on the image is an interesting one and possibly a black hole of online entertainment…
So here we are.
Seven years and a handful of months after my first accidental hearing of Welcome to the Black Parade on a now-defunct local radio show, Zane Lowe’s programme played the last ever new MCR song.
It’s one of their best.
It might actually be their best (unless sentimentality’s talking, which it definitely is).
Out now on the Internet. Part of May Death Never Stop You, out 25th March and available to pre-order on the Internet.
Still the best band in the world.
Happy Valentine’s Day, unless you’re ill and alone and watching TV this fine Friday evening. Ugh, Valentine’s.
According to The Guardian, in some cultures Valentine’s is becoming synonymous with “my female partner will have sex with me whether she wants to or not” and, despite the small sample size of Cambodian participants, it’s not a huge stretch to assume that for some people, Valentine’s is just an excuse to rape someone. Which for a lot of people is actually just getting laid because even today there are taboos around sex and consent and the like. Gross factor: 10/10 (although I’m not sure if Valentine’s is the actual cause).
Interestingly, in other cultures Valentine’s is becoming synonymous with “massive rip-off”. The Metro reckons that increasing amounts of people are not giving a fuck not bothered. In a fun twist of events, someone printed out a load of Valentine’s Tumblr memes and stuck them around my sixth form block, which simultaneously made my day and, hopefully, emphasised the ridiculousness of centring a day around someone with whom you’re in a relationship all the time. Gross factor: 3/10. Those memes were Tumblr-inappropriate and highly worth Googling.
In assembly, however, we were told that some places view Valentine’s as more of a celebration of love than of romance (Estonia) or is banned entirely (Saudi Arabia, surprise!). Cool huh. Or not, since it would be nice to have the opportunity to get all mushy in front of whichever
bad film is out this year with whichever bad choice of life partner you’ve found yourself with that year. Or you could just make friends with a penguin. Gross factor: 5/10. Saudi Arabia’s lack of human rights versus a besotted penguin…
Okay I’m off to make a list of shops that I want to raid when there’s a post-Valentine’s sale on. The mind goes initially to Thornton’s, but there are probably some great deals to be had on clothing, hair products and pink alcohol. And glittery jewellery. And Etsy fandom products. Who needs a significant other when you have the Internet, seriously. No wonder it’s a commercial giant: people don’t want Valentine’s mush, they want cheap booze and chocolate…