Smug Bragging 2k16 (I published a short story!)

I’ve got to run to get some jabs pretty soon, but on the last round I came home and my arms got deader and deader (and I got sleepier and sleepier but I’m already running at about 70% average consciousness so  I could probably also blame everything else in my life) so I thought I’d blog now just in case. I’ve already added to the list – if you have any contributions send them over  – so woohoo it looks like I’m committing to something.

Not sure how I feel about that given that I have only fifty days until I leave the continent, but I guess we all need things to come home to. Speaking of making things, I wrote a short story! And it’s published in something I didn’t run! I’m not sure which I’m more surprised about, now I think about it… but I guess it’s something to add to my ridiculous CV.

I should probably go and meditate in preparation for my next bout of hepatitis, so I will leave this here. If you chance upon this newspaper in or around Southend:

Trawler magazine winter 2016 Southend on Sea Francesca Burke

Turn to page 30 straight away.

 

Saving Face: Beauty is in the Eye of the Purse Holder

The second part of this series was a bit longer than I’d planned (I also didn’t originally plan a series!) so I’m going to keep the next two posts short and sweet… or bitter, depending on your viewpoint. My second question in that first post was about why skincare products are so expensive, and it turns out they don’t have to be, but first of all let’s address the elephant in the pharmacy.

Women have an expense that is considered to be optional and isn’t: we have to use feminine hygiene products (which for some reason are considered a luxury and taxed) so we will pay for them. I had a daydream about what would happen if all woman said ‘I can’t afford them, I’ll go without my tampons/painkillers/chocolate this month’ and the carnage resembled Godzilla. Let’s face it, if menstruating women refused to turn up for work, the economy would break. If we all rioted, every country’s infrastructure would come to a complete standstill. Part of me wants to see it happen.

So we’re already being overcharged for products we can’t not buy. Moving on to the international beauty industry! It’s raking in the cash and expanding all the time: Unilever, which owns Treseme, Lynx, Simple and Dove to name but a few, is a FTSE 100 company. L’Oreal and Estee Lauder are ‘increasing focus’ on the Indian market. In China, the cosmetics industry is estimated by the Economist to be worth $26 billion per year, and growing, although Revlon is halting business there… possibly because despite China’s enormous market, Chinese law requires all products to be tested on animals, which can put Western customers off (I don’t think Revlon is catering to the needs of the baby rabbits who shouldn’t wear mascara… more like their bank balances). Getting back to the unnecessary expense of products, there is another proverbial sexist elephant:

Apparently women in the States pay $1300 per year more for cosmetics than men, even though they are paid a lot less. It’s daylight robbery, innit, especially if you use products a lot.

Thankfully there are ways to beat the fuckers at their own game and save cash without forgoing your own beauty standards. For starters, since the Internet, people have been able to share their expertise and money-saving tips a lot more easily. The Beauty Truth is a blog that tests products and reviews them in a way that normal people can actually understand. (They also pointed out – and blew my mind in the process – that pump-action bottles last longer than the standard ones because you can’t empty the bottle’s entire contents in one go.) A More BeYOUTtiful You is another site which shares beauty tips but doesn’t make me feel like I’m being talked down to by a snob. Plus there are also little ways to save when you’re actually out shopping, and they’re stupidly obvious once you learn them – like buying men’s razors instead of pink ones, or substituting shop-bought products for homemade ones. I’ll talk more about that in the next post…

In the mean time, if any of you discover a way to cut down the price of tampons, let me know. We can save (and probably take over) the world together.

** Update, 06/02/15 ** There’s a UK petition to ask the government to exempt tampons from tax, so if you’re UK-based and you’d like to make George Osborne uncomfortable while attempting to instigate governmental change, go here.

New Spooky Story Shack Piece!

I’ve got a Christmas present for you guys! It’s a superduper Halloween story that I wrote in September! It’s illustrated by Daniele Murtas and I think they did an excellent job.

If you liked it (or even if you didn’t) please leave a comment either on The Story Shack or here. I was tempted when I wrote it to make a longer story out of it, but I liked the ending so I wasn’t sure if continuing it would have made it less good…

Anyway, I have to get off my phone and get on with freaking out that it’s Christmas Eve tomorrow. I might do a Christmas Eve post. Hark the herald angels and all that!

Update: this is the last Five Ways to Celebrate Five Years of Indifferent Ignorance celebration, unless I’ve miscounted… which is entirely probable.

Five-ish Ways to Celebrate Five Years of Blogging: MCR Poster & Magazine Giveaway

Despite the plethora of wonderful ideas you all had for how I could celebrate Indifferent Ignorance turning five, I have come up with my own celebration. It’s called Five-ish Ways to Celebrate Five Years of Blogging and is coming to an Internet-connected device near you between now and November!

I say five-ish things because I’m not completely sure if a couple of them will come to fruition or when, so check back regularly to see which number we’re on.

The first thing is on Tumblr now, because I thought it would be funny if my first blog celebration was held on my scrubbly little non-blog (I don’t get out much). Plus I need to post it before I go to Greece. It hurts my heart to part with MCR possessions, but it turns out that a couple of the magazines were spares anyway, and those posters deserve to be put up somewhere, hence the giveaway.

The next four or so things will be revealed in good time, ie when I’ve put them together. Right, I’m off to drink some coffee and celebrate entering my last year of teenage-dom. I’m kind of bummed that I’ve only got a year to change the lyrics of Teenagers to “we” instead of “they”, and only a year to use “I’m a teenager” as an excuse for being rude to people, but so far 19 is looking peaceful and productive.

Probably because I’ve done little but write copy for zoos and look at MCR merch.

The Six O’Clock News: Keeping Up With Current Events

With the ever-changing nature of ‘current events’ and the complications of understanding it anyway, I thought the Israel-Palestine conflict (war? See, defining this shit is tough) would be a good topic to use to discuss ways to keep up with the news. All the cool kids are doing it, so listen up!

The Traditional Way: Newspapers and Magazines

Aw, print media. A declining medium and usually so full of editorially-biased bullshit that often it’s not worth going near anyway. We all know that tabloids aren’t worth even opening (I discovered a Daily Mail parody on Twitter the other day. It’s beautiful) but what about the broadsheets?

Well darlings, there are some good choices. The Guardian and Telegraph, traditionally a bit leftie and rightie respectively, have pretty decent articles which give a detailed explanation of a story, usually with some photos or maybe an infographic. I don’t usually get the Financial Times but I’ve heard it’s good too, as is The Times, if buying something owned by Rupert Murdoch doesn’t give you the heebie-jeebies. Then there’s the Independent and its sister publication the i, which I loved to read at school because it’s really short and has super-duper-easy-to-digest articles. It’s also only 30p and available from Starbucks, so you can look smart while sipping a skinny mocha polkadot frappe. All the papers have websites too so you can read an article as many times as it takes for your blood pressure to return to normal!

That’s pretty much the extent of my paper knowledge and I encourage you to utilise your local library and have a read of whatever you can get your hands on – you’ll find your favourite style of writing pretty soon. One word of warning: even the news articles will contain bias. Not as much as a column – not as obviously much as a column, anyway – but differentiating between reported fact, the writer’s opinion and a senior management-based reference (like a journalist highly rating a film released on a company owned by the newspaper’s owner) is a fun and useful skill. One that Daily Mail readers are lacking above all others.

In terms of magazines, there is only one I read, though I read it more thoroughly than I do all papers: Private Eye. Edited by the dude who sits on the left in Have I Got News for You, it’s predominately satire but also has some serious reporting and its Street of Shame section calls out other newspapers’ crap. If I remember correctly, it was one of the few publications that picked up on Cyril Smith being a paedophile about 20 years before the Jimmy Savile scandal – I think they got sued over the allegations. They get sued a lot. The Economist is also useful if you want to get really intellectual – and the ads in the back are brilliant if you want to pretend you have a PhD.

The Family Debate Way: Television

Ah, the real Six O’Clock News. I love it. If you’re anything like me, couch-surfing wise, you start your channel-flicking marathons around the entertainment channels (Virgin Media 121) and go up to music (Kerrang! TV is 342) and maybe into films (avoid the porn channels just past them).

This is stupid.

Go straight to the good stuff: the plethora of news channels. BBC News 24 HD is 604 for me and it’s on all the time. So if you’re out at ten o’clock or eating at six you can keep in the loop! I’m assuming your family bought a huge massive mega TV broadband phone package deal, in which case you probably have access to CNN, Al Jazeera English, Euro News, BBC Parliament and if you’re unlucky FOX.

The good thing about TV news is that because they’re broadcasting to everybody, they have to explain everything. Hence why reporters go to whacky places or walk through green screened graphics – the information needs to be understandable to the average viewer. You’re not the average viewer because you’re a) reading this and b) you know that you can access CNN.

A downside to the TV is that because most non-24-hour slots are short, detail can be missed from a story, and some stories aren’t told at all. Syria is big news when there’s been a huge bombing or war crime, for example, but gets overtaken by the next big thing. The same thing happened in all areas of the mainstream media to #BringBackOurGirls and Flight MH370. Both are still missing, by the way.

 The Hands-Free Way: Radio

You know, the way they kept up with business in World War II. Radio is cool because you aren’t rendered immobile and you can listen while you’re in the car or doing boring stuff, like chores. BBC Radio 4 has a good broadcast in the morning, which I discovered completely accidentally when I was searching for a radio station without jingles or adverts for my morning alarm. I’ve also heard good things about the BBC World Service, which apparently has a worldwide following because it’s an alternative to propaganda-ridden state media.

The Hipster Way: Websites and Social Media

I should probably point out that I’m not entirely sure what a hipster is, although many of the people I’ve known who have declared themselves to be one have actually been twats. I’m not sure if that’s the point. Anyway, social media basically sparked the Arab Spring, because for the first time people had ways to communicate meet-ups and ideas quickly. So instead of using Twitter to hashtag how great your favourite band is to promote a crappy MTV contest, use it to keep up with a conflict or political situation as-it-happens. There was a Russian soldier who posted a picture of himself with Russian weapons inside Ukranian borders on Instagram, and Osama bin Laden’s house’s siege was posted about on Twitter as it occurred, which says it all. The people inside war zones are exactly the same as everyone else so you can see the actual stuff that’s going on. You don’t have to follow accounts if it bums you out, but searching a tag here and there makes you like well intelligent.

Word of warning: social media is the least moderated of all broadcasting platforms and there are just as many idiots posting political things as there are idiots posting pictures of themselves in their underwear or bitching about their boss. Take with a bucketful of salt and always use two sources to corroborate information, especially if it’s for a school thing. I once stumbled upon a Hammas-supporting website which bitched a lot about Israel and the stats I collected were totally the opposite to the ones we learnt in school. For quick info, use the BBC News app and for research, the CIA World Factbook has great profiles on each country – well, they would – and lists states numerically by how great their literacy rate or GDP is, amongst other things. The BBC also has great country profiles for getting a simple explanation and timeline of a country. This explains Kosovo perfectly, for example.

The Fun Way: Entertainment

Not going to lie, Tim Minchin taught me the background to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Then there’s Have I Got News for You, Russell Howard’s Good News, The Daily Show… the list  of programmes is endless. If you’re prepared to put up with some Hollywood gloss, films and books are useful. Some, like Shooting Dogs or books by Khaled Hosseini, don’t have gloss. They may make you cry noisy tears and expand your cynicism. But they’re actually really important because you’re more likely to empathise and understand the nuances of a situation through fiction than you are just by watching the news.

Documentaries are also excellent because it’s their job to make sense, tell the truth (again: apply salt) but keep hold of your attention. Plus your teachers will support the concept of watching them instead of doing a timed essay. Probably. Possibly.

Okay, I’m off to watch the diving at the Commonwealth Games and keep a tally of my parents’ homophobic comments regarding Tom Daley. Let me know if I’ve forgotten a supercool way to follow the news!

Indifferent Ignorance Awards 2013

They aren’t in June 2014!

Book of the Year

This one was tough… A Thousand Splendid Suns, We Need to Talk About Kevin, my John’s Gospel commentary by AM Hunter…

No really, you should compare Hunter to some of the others. Little tip, scholars: when it comes to sentences, less is almost always more. That aside, I think Uncle Rick gets the prize. House of Hades is brilliant and perfect and yes aimed at twelve-year-olds but let’s face it, people, children’s books are usually better than adult ones. Harry Potter, Mog the Forgetful Cat, etc. Oh Uncle Rick, teach me your secrets.

Album of the Year

How I Learned to Stop Giving a Shit and Love Mindless Self Indulgence, by Mindless Self Indulgence. I paid for the album, I listen to the album. It is a piece of genius. That is all.

New Favourite Website of the Year

Hmm. I’ve discovered Vice, a news magazine (although someone online pointed out that its narrative voice is disturbingly similar to that of the Daily Mail, which I must say has put me off a bit), Effing Dykes, a queer blog (and so genuinely not safe for work that I’ve not quite had the courage to devote an entire post to it yet) and Tumblr. Okay so I already knew Tumblr, but I joined because it made it easy to follow nice art. That and a deep desire to infiltrate the world’s bitchiest blogging network from within.

New Favourite Artist of the Year

Viria. Her art is beautiful. Ahhh. Her work is set as my phone and iPad background. The whole Tumblr thing was also induced by Burdge, Andy and Minuiko.

Old Favourite Artist of the Year

Ruby. She made this into an illustrated story for my birthday. The individual pictures are amongst others here (I’m hoarding the finished product but don’t worry we’ve decided if all else fails we’ll write children’s books so you’ll be able to get both our work in one book. Cool, huh?).

Most Family Member-Like Famous Person on Twitter

I actually can’t decide between Uncle Rick the Troll Queen or Uncle Gerard the MCRmy’s Therapist. Genuinely, the jury’s out. Let me know your thoughts (the best Twitter moment was when someone Tweeted Gerard the Russian Mark of Athena cover, on which Percy bears a striking resemblance to G. Aha).

Most Depressing Internet-Based Phenomena

The title’s probably a misnomer because it doesn’t involve idiots talking shit behind the safety of a computer screen (that comes later!). Anyway: those of you into the whole Percy Jackson thing might remember this:

'Putting the Fun Back In Funeral'

I know, it’s incredibly clever. I do others like it. It was inspired by one of Viria’s pieces – the one set as my phone background; I had the idea going up the stairs which was interesting. I originally put text on her drawing. Quite a while after I published the poster, I posted the bootlegged one on Tumblr:

Bootlegging Viria
Drawing by Viria

I wonder which has had the better reception.

Hm.

Indeed.

It’s a good thing I chose an artist I really love or I might have become bitter.

Live Show of the Year

I saw Jesus Christ Superstar, MSI, a ‘revue’ at school in which my friend Sarah was splendid as a 1920s hockey player, my year’s pantomime-which-I-sort-of-helped-write, an actual pantomime, an interview between two of the best children’s authors around today and a poetry reading by the bloke off Homeland and Narcissa Malfoy.. But I think my favourite live band (discounting MCR because it’s MCR) is an ever-changing group of part-time musicians who play in a restaurant I like in Greece. I understand 10% of the lyrics, make eye contact 0.001% of the times I walk past and have been known to sing along to songs that are the Mediterranean’s version of Mindless. But it’s nice, and even if I found a YouTube clip (creepy as I’m there a lot) it wouldn’t quite convey the atmosphere, if you know what I mean.

Insult of the Year

“You’re a doody head.” Enough said.

Happy Moment of the Year

When I remember it’s not June and Donnie’s still here. I like Don and Fred better than I like most things, no offense, and they are my friends. It’s like having human friends but the dynamics are different – humans tend to be more forward about nicking your food. Get a pet, seriously. Unless you are incapable of looking after one due to a) lack of money, space or permission (volunteer somewhere instead), b) lack of time or motivation or c) aversion to pets. You know who you are. Yes, I’m including those of you who get pets because you think it’ll be fun or make you look good. At times, e.g. in a field in December, it will do neither. But then they look up at you, covered in slime, and you think “I love you little dog. Now let’s go home and hope we never have to leave the house again.”

Indifferent Ignorance Commenter of the Year

Jacki, whose wise words you will find if you scroll down a few posts. Getting people to comment on work is like pulling teeth (remind me that I have a piece of work about that to show you), yet is the best way of differentiating readers from spam-bots and ‘glancers’ – people who have a click and a scroll then go somewhere else. But it’s like being the first person to take food from a buffet: no one wants to be that person, though once someone has taken the leap they’re comfortable joining the queue. Weird. Anyway, Jacki comments a lot and for that I am grateful. Please accept this garbled post as a token of my appreciation. Ta.

Indifferent Ignorance Homophobic Dick Award

Maria suggested this category and I love it. Who to choose? Tony Abbot the Australian Prime Minister, who revoked equal marriage rights after people had got married? The guy whose work I heartily abused when Tom Daley came out? The parents of a child I saw a few years ago who had dressed their eight-year-old in a t-shirt with an arrow saying “I think he’s gay!”? People who stopped reading – or stopped their children reading – Heroes of Olympus when they found out about Nico?

Can’t choose, man.

Indifferent Ignorance Ignorant Fuck Award

Matt Forney of I-only-screw-insecure-women-wait-that’s-all-of-them fame infamy arseholery.

Arseholery. Is that a thing? It should be.

His site used to have a thing where sites that had discussed the post were lined underneath and the one I did was there. I guess too many people were discussing the arseholery though because the layout’s changed…

Okay I think that’s everything I said I’d put in. If I’ve forgotten something or someone please let me know.

That’s called asking for a comment, ladies and gents.

I hope 2013 was as happy and safe as everyone wished it to be; if it wasn’t then I wish you happiness and safety for 2014. Even you with the pet you shouldn’t have bought, reading Forney and nodding in agreement.

Maybe not but I’ve been on a lot of cold medicine and perhaps the Christmas spirit of forgiveness is shining through.

Ha ha.

Happy 2014 snowflakes!

The Ten O’Clock News: an Article About Some Articles About a Certain YouTube Video About… oh you get the picture my eyes have gone fuzzy.

I would have talked about Nelson Mandela if I hadn’t been planning this post all week – I might do one next week when the dust has settled a bit and I no longer want to cry when I watch the news.

Anyway.

You guys didn’t just think I’d let a prominent sportsperson come out on YouTube and not take the piss out of get angry at investigate the media’s response, did you?

Bit of back story: I first read the news on the BBC app on Monday morning and kept smiling stupidly whenever I thought of it, because the way the article worded it was all cute… then it hit social media and everyone else started chatting, then it was on the six o’clock news and I was simultaneously delighted and disgusted that someone getting a boyfriend is newsworthy, then I went online and found some good responses.

By ‘good’ I mean ‘contains lots of points for discussion’.

Tom Daley’s ‘brave’ announcement should not matter – but it does

Hole in one, BBC Sport. I knew that being queer in sport simply isn’t done, I guess because most sports are traditionally “masculine” and all that bullshit, but I had no idea that it was such a taboo. Apparently “3%” people are gay (my thinking is that a lot more are queer?), so 120 out of the 4,000 members of the Football Association are. Extrapolate the figures to something like the Olympics and that’s a shitload of people. The article reckons that there were “10 openly gay athletes out of 10,000 at the 2008 Games”, which says a lot about global views. Acceptance and rights have improved in recent years, especially on a local level, but there’s a lot of work to be done before it’s okay for people’s sexuality to be so irrelevant that the world stage – and the inter-state athletics associations – doesn’t care.

Diving puns: 1. I also read “humble tumbler” as some sort of Tumblr icon as a tumbleweed.

Inductive leap from announcement that a guy’s dating another guy to the guy’s being gay: automatic.

Tom Daley is the most significant British sportsman to come out

… ah, but only because he’s so cute. No really, Daily Telegraph, what is up with these assumptions? The “dramatic pause before the big reveal” demonstrating “that Daley is a member of the X Factor generation” might be there because he’d like half a second to contemplate and deal with the huge fucking way his life will change after saying his next sentence. I also take issue with the sweeping statement that I am of a generation defined by a talent(less) ITV show.

The bit about John Amaechi is interesting – what’s up with team sports being homophobic? Is it because in sports like American football, there’s a certain amount of touching involved and some people can’t take it? Don’t flatter yourselves, people.

Diving puns: 0.

Inductive leap from announcement that a guy’s dating another guy to the guy’s being gay: automatic.

While we’re on the subject of The Telegraph, I read this and was going to go on a “oh hey here’s another journalist twisting the story to bemoan their own coming out, this guy doesn’t even know what it’s like being a professional athlete, how tabloid-dramatic,” when the penny dropped that the writer, Gareth Thomas, is a gay man who used to play rugby for Wales. He’s mentioned in the BBC Sport article. Let that be a lesson in context!

We shouldn’t rush to define Tom Daley’s sexuality

I don’t tend to read The Guardian much because it seems quite pretentious quite a lot, especially in some columns (actually most columnists do my head in, but that’s for another day). But this article sums up my feeling about the whole media circus perfectly. A lot of broadcasters have struggled to use the right definition, in part probably through ignorance of the sexuality spectrum, and in part because absolutely nowhere in the video are the words “I’m [insert sexuality definition here].” I interpret “I’m with a guy but I fancy girls” as ‘queer’ – being ‘not straight’ and way easier to understand and spell than a lot of those acronyms floating around, but it looks like there still needs to be a lot of work done in regards to educating people about definitions?

Diving puns: 0.

Inductive leap from announcement that a guy’s dating another guy to the guy’s being gay: nonononono (to be said like in The Vicar of Dibley.)

I know Tom Daley is an admirable chap but I can’t help feeling a little manipulated

Have I ever mentioned that I don’t like the Daily Mail? Well, I found this article and decided a paragraph just… wasn’t enough.

'Mail' Commentary 1

'Mail' Commentary 2

  Let me know if I should prepare for a court case!

 

The Ten O’Clock News: ‘The Cruelty of Children’, and Teens, and Adults

I have no idea what the age range of readership for Indifferent Ignorance is (and I’m not looking to find out because that would be creepy) but this Rookie article caught my attention just now.

It got me thinking about school, children/teenagers and the whole ‘social aspect’ of western education. As in, for ten per cent of people it’s great and for the other ninety, at some point or another, it’s shit. It’s also hard to write about a topic like bullying in a general sense because one person’s being teased is another person’s friendly joke, etc. – so I’m wondering: what was your social-school experience like? Was there a particular age that was hard for everyone? Do you reach a point when exams matter more than who’s bitching about whom?

(Yes.)

Seriously though, I’m interested. Has anyone ever run into a school bully in the high street? Were you infinitely more successful than them or were they no longer the fire-breathing tosser of your childhood? Did anyone ever get their own back on someone who was nasty to them? Does anyone have any tips about how to cope with nasty people in the classroom? Do bullies at school grow up to be bullies in the work place? If they’re a shitty adult, is it their parents’ fault for moulding them into a shitty child and letting the shitiness blossom like swine flu in a petri dish?

I’ll start: a few years ago a couple of girls threw paper in my hair over the course of a few lessons. Eventually they got bored. I sometimes wonder if I would ever have retaliated had they not stopped. They did not get back into my sixth form and I doubt anyone misses them particularly.

Now it’s your turn!