Monday, 28 September 2009

Women, equality and brunettes

Women have been culturally, socially, economically, mentally suppressed by men for centuries. Aren't they expecting too much for all this to disappear in 40 odd years?

I was reading something today which highlighted how far women still have to go to acquire equality in, at least, Western democracies. In a lot of places around the globe they have even further to go; a lot further!

Despite enacting rafts of legislation, which make it illegal to discriminate against people based on gender, race, physical condition, age and/or the distance from your crotch to the ground, it hasn't actually seemed to have changed very much, in some respects it may have made matters worse. What it has done is drive the discrimination 'underground'; made it more subtle (sort of). Don't get me wrong, I am not suggesting we repeal the legislation, it is necessary. What I puzzle about is: how do you change men's attitudes at a fundamental level and could it be done in the forty or so years since Dworkin, Millett, Greer et al first waved their bras in the air and demanded equality. (And no, that last remark is not sexist, it was the feminists themselves who used the slogan and it was meant to be extreme, being moderate seldom gets you anywhere.)

You see, the legislation is constantly being undermined by the media, the advertising industry. They continue to bombard their audience with a host of insinuations which simply perpetuate pre-1960s attitudes. Why are woman constantly referred to by their hair colour? As though this were their most important feature? Why does no word exist in English for a brown-haired man? Blond? Simply co-opted for men as it is the name of the hair colour, not a noun to denote the individual who is blond (adjective) as 'blonde' is. (The 'e' is there because that's what you do in French to denote an adjective defining a feminine noun and therefore the form of the noun you 'make' from the adjective becomes feminine.) Why do we not refer to men as 'a Brun'? Not too mention that brunette is a diminutive, a 'little brown (haired individual). And why don't the media talk of men as 'baldy'. Well they do, but only when trying to insult. Why does it not occur to them that brunette is just as insulting as baldy?

Well, unfortunately they do understand. Only too well!

Why is women's underwear still advertised on perfect '8's (don't know what the equivalent size is in the US) with long legs and no waist? Um, this is not the bulk of your buyers, guys. No, it's intention is (a) to make size 14 women who may have a gained a few inches over the years, haven't we all, feel inadequate but also to make them feel that if only they bought Sloggi underwear, Pretty Polly stockings or a Triumph Wonderbra, they'd suddently recapture an allure they've been deliberately made to feel they've lost and (b) to sexually tittilate men! Advertising hoardings are the modern day equivalent of the renaissance nude. The artist who created the painting in 1520 may have felt they were saying something about the essential nature of beauty but the men who bought them were most definitely not buying, commissioning, them for their intellectual worth! The sixteenth century's answer to hard core pornography was the nude! Just ask John Berger!

As MG may have made clear when he ruined my blog earlier in the year, it is hard for him to 'buy in' to such an idea since as a 'victim' of a sort of 'discrimination', it is hard for him to see others as anything else than simply other human beings; not male, not female, not Christian, not Muslim, not black, not white, just another person.

But western society doesn't want him to behave like that. It wants to plant ideas in his head that conform to whatever it is the 'ruling class' believe he should believe. And the ruling class is not the government nor the aristocracy. It is the vested interests that are neither elected nor accountable, for anything! Until you change them, or divest them of their power, you will change nothing at a fundamental level and change at a superficial level is not worth the paper it is not printed on.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

We've got spam, eggs and spam, spam and eggs and spam

What? Sorry, eggs is off!

If you have a web presence, you get spam all the time. It's the price you pay for exposing yourself to the bots and spiders that make their vast, intricate way around the myriad different spaces that make up the web. Most times I don't even open them, even the ones I originally signed up for; I just drop them in the trash. I am not sure why this one intrigued, but it did and it's the best since the lovely Elena last year; it has profoundly affected the way I look at attempted phishing scams (which this clearly is). The message reads:

"- From the Desk Of MR. LORD ADAIR TURNER CHAIRMAN, FINANCIAL SERVICES AUTHORITY (FSA). It has come to our notice via our central monitoring computer that a huge fund has been credited in your name for transfer with a London Bank. Under the stipulated enabling Law of the Government of Great Britain and Wales and other Commonwealth States, any huge fund that has been found in ourcomputer system waiting to be transferred without claims for a period of 6 months or less,shall be confiscated and forfeited to the Government of Great Britain and Wales.We do hereby ask you to contact this office immediately for ratification within the 3 days of this notice or consider your fund confiscated. We appreciate your urgent co-operation. Respond to my alternative; MR. LORD ADAIR TURNER. CHAIRMAN, FINANCIAL SERVICES AUTHORITY (FSA).LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM DIRECT TELEPHONE: (44) 7024020559"

Now this is such uninformed claptrap, it almost beggars belief; whatever happened to Great Britain and Northern Ireland? When did Wales acquire its 'elevated' status? Why would someone who purportedly works for the man not know that 'Mr' is a no-no? It's 'Lord Turner' or 'Adair Turner, Baron of Ecchinswell' not all of it run together like some German portmanteau word, dummies! And three days notice? Even the current British Government wouldn't enact such draconian legislation; my solicitor would have a field day! The FSA doesn't monitor that stuff anyway, the Bank of England does; and why doesn't he have a address like everyone else? Why is it in Hong Kong?

But you see, they don't want vaguely intelligent penguins like me replying, do they? They know I'm going to ask questions about why they need my login credentials to transfer money TO me. They know I'll just ask them to send me a cheque and I'll bank it. So all of this is not, as you might think, to make it all sound legit. It's there to ensure that whatever replies they do receive come from the immensely stupid, naive or just plain toooooo greedy.

Think how that must cut down on the overhead. No tying up valuable time on the phone 'non-answering' relevant questions, no running up expensive mobile (cell) phone bills. Why pull resources away from your next scam when you can get the audience to self-select? Works for iTunes!

Nonetheless, it made me chuckle. A rare occurance in these troubled times.

I dropped past someone's blog today and found this about a 'relationship', "Why do I care?" The relationship is 4 days old, is a kind of teacher/underachieving pupil one, and is no doubt merely one of many formed in the last few days. So why care? Is that merely the only instance or are there others and, if there are others, why that one?

It's strange sometimes the bonds we form, penguin or human. What makes one penguin or human of more concern to us than another? And why? What makes the initial connection that ties us to them rather than another? It cannot be just their situation or cicumstances or we would feel the same way about similar individuals in similar circumstances. (I am disegarding sexual attraction here since it has no place in the discussion. Of itself, it will provide all the incentive for 'caring' required; there could be a pay off!;)

It's not that we don't care about the others, it's just for some reason we don't care as much.

Now it would be nice, I think, if we could postulate a concrete, biological reason for this; pheromones, body language, neural wiring in either brain but I cannot believe that it is so simple or could be so simple.

They say, you fall in love with someone in seconds, at most minutes (I know I do. I was attracted to the convent schoolgirls even before I knew it, although not before the nuns who would spot it weeks before I even knew it might be there :), otherwise why would you waste your valuable time and effort in investing that time and effort in trying to develop the relationship; it would be just one of many,wouldn't it? Of no more import than any other. (I am also disregarding 'blood ties' here as well, for pretty much the same reason as sexual attraction. There are other forces at work there which have little to do with mutual attraction. I DO NOT HAVE AN OEDIPUS COMPLEX, right?)

So what is it? It can't be physical, we form relationships with people or penguins we have never met, never seen, never smelt, although the bond is often closer if we have. So what, then?

As an atheist, I find it difficult to talk about or write about my SOUL but in one sense it's the only word that will do. We, for the most part, if we are honest with ourselves, open up a window on who we are, what we are, what or who we would wish to be and who or what we have been. If the other person has eyes to see, we are as transparent as the shop fronts at Macey's or Harrods. It is this that attracts, makes us care. When we see WHO is in front of us, not the WHO that they present to the world.

Anyone who has ever been through difficult times, for whatever reason, wants the world to care. But we don't want the text book care. We want them to really care. Only those who make it past the shop front can ever be of any use. And yes, that is selfish but are we not all selfish? We live to survive, else there is no tomorrow. And when others see through our windows, as we wish them to do, is it not then beholden on all of us to try to see through as well, as best we may?

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Fare Well Anora!

"The long expected day arrived on Friday. After months of: 'Is it on'? 'Is it off'? 'Has it stalled?' 'Do we need to jump start it?' the lovely Anora finally gave away her last free drink, her last free food; finally gave up trying to make a precarious living in a stagnating economy and shut up shop. The bar will re-open on Monday, same as usual, same booze, same food, same decor, though my Ruppel's Griffon will have gone from the wall, same staff but it won't be, can't be, the same place. And in a month or two, even the staff will have moved on; it will not be the same place for them either.

Strange, the effect one person can have, ay?

It is always difficult to express why one bar/pub is preferred over another. It is seldom the quality of the food or the variety of the booze on offer; there are intangibles at work here which are not just down to the character/persona of the people behind the bar. It is more to do, I think, with the character of the bar itself, which the owner/staff only in some way contribute. It is their ability to attract similar kinds of people which lends the place its 'atmosphaer', its sense of being a place where, whoever is there, there will always be someone this side of the bar who shares a common interest, a topic of conversation, which is not sport.

For certain the absence of a TV or satelite deterred the more moronic, interested only in the latest football or the test at the Oval, and attracted a more discerning crowd, a crowd more interested in talk, discussion, debate than on watching Thierry Henri slot another one past the goalkeeper. It was a place where what you paid for lunch was arbitary, though never more than the 'real price'; a place where you asked for another brandy to drown the sorrows and a bottle would be set on the table with the words, 'help yourself I'm going upstairs for a cigarette!' Who will now get me my Krug from the cash and carry?

There was much alcohol induced merriment that night but such an underlying current of sadness at the loss of what had been so familiar and this was not cured by the attempt of all and sundry to reduce the stock taking exercise on the Monday to the bare minimum (I went for the Maker's Mark and when that ran out started on the JD - I'm nothing if not consistent. That was after the champagne of course. I well remember when JD was such a rarity in UK pubs; mind, no-one still stocks Old Granddad, overproof or otherwise!)

I went in for lunch today and it was already different. True, D is still there's strange to see a male behind the bar. It's only half the bar it was. When D has gone, as she will be, it will no longer be the place I spent every lunchtime for five years and I will have to find another way to spend that hour of the day. Even the space on the wall where the Griffon used to be spelt the end!

So Anora,

For all the cheap food, thank you!
For all the free booze, thank you!
For leaving, only tears!

Good luck, Daisy, whatever and wherever and however you choose to do!"

It would, I think, be easy to consign this to the over-sentimental bin. But MG is seldom so emotional. Humans always find change hard to deal with, perhaps we should have some compassion here. Fat chance! :)