Monthly Archives: May 2011

There’s a Joke Here Somewhere

Three political party leaders walk into a kitchen. They want to show their prowess as chefs to encourage more men to cook. David “Call me Dave” Cameron and Nick “Who” Clegg produced “something with pasta” while Ed “I’m the labour leader” Miliband made a tuna melt. These imaginative men who lead (or oppose the leadership) of our fair nation can actually cook enough to sustain themselves. Honestly isn’t that enough? I dare say that they’d even manage to boil an egg if faced with a national emergency.

Nigella thinks so anyway. Apparently cooking and baking are feminist pastimes. Who knew? Yes girls, slaving away in the kitchen is just the same as asserting your equal rights as a productive member of society. Menz don’t need to be able to cook obviously because the feminist thing to do is to produce a slap up mean for your man to eat as soon as he returns from his busy day at the office. Her husband, Charles Saatchi, is no slouch in the kitchen though. He can make his own toast and his own Weetabix. What a guy.

My view, setting sarcasm aside for a moment, is that every single person should be equipped with basic skills for living. You should be able to cook, sew a button on, repair a tear, balance your chequebook (you remember those?), produce a CV, clean up after yourself, do your laundry and ironing and, most importantly, solve your own problems. Having a “cook off” with party leaders might be nice spin but it just highlights the fact that they are a bunch of dicks.


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Filed under Modern Etiquette, Recipe for disaster

Willetts Watch: Women in Science

The POD delusion reported yesterday that women have difficulty in managing science careers because of the prevalence of short term contracts. Female scientists who choose to have children at a point in their careers may well not have a job to come back to. If they have a running 6 month contract in a company doing research then their contracts may well expire before their maternity leave finishes.

Why is this important? In the UK our industries have been dismantled and sold off over the decades. We aren’t a steel producer or a coal exporter any more. We can’t rely on banking as an industry for the nation. Service industries don’t produce anything, they just move money around rather than make more money. We are too small a nation to be an energy exporter (except for the French nuclear power stations that they build on our land) so what do we have in the UK as national industries? I don’t know. Maybe scientists will be able to create industries through their research as we did with silicon (gallium arsenide) chip manufacturing in the early 90s or our aerospace industry can be expanded through research and improvements to technology.

Making science a career choice that is unstable and poorly protected makes it less attractive to people. Why would someone want to work in an industry with poor career progression, poor wage advancement, few rights and protections, etc? Surely as a nation we want people (and women are slightly more than half of us) to choose careers that are productive and worthwhile rather than another shop job or one of the other service jobs that make up 77% of our national industry.

How will David “Two Brains” Willetts be seeking to address this inequality and prevent unscrupulous employers from exploiting this loophole? Apparently he doesn’t think it is necessary.

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Filed under Willetts Watch

Women Drivers Part 2

On Monday I mentioned in Women Drivers how Manal Al Sharif had defied Saudi law by driving in public. This brave woman has now been arrested.

Al Sharif, 32, was taken into custody for something that is only an offence in Saudi Arabia: Driving while female.

According to her lawyer, she was charged with “inciting women to drive” and “rallying public opinion.” Al Sharif had launched a campaign to defy the kingdom’s ban on female drivers by urging Saudi women to get behind the wheel of a car on June 17.

She must have known that it would happen and that she would be punished for it. I have to admire someone like that and I’m sure her arrest won’t deter some of her supporters though others are put off.

“We cannot think this would happen to any Saudi woman . . . This is a disaster,” said a young Saudi who had planned to join the June protest. “After what happened with her, I’m afraid. I have to admit it. I don’t want to go to jail.”

Please have a read of the whole article and try to keep the story and struggle alive on Facebook (“I Will Drive Starting June 17”) and Twitter (#Women2Drive), ask your MP (assuming that they aren’t completely worthless) to intervene. The campaign deserves support.



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Filed under Bad things happen

The Conned

I feel sort of sorry for this guy and for the many people like him. He’s been conned by Harold Camping and his silly cRapture myth. Robert Fitzpatrick spent $140,000 of his life savings to “warn” people about the Rapture. This was his retirement fund, money that he would live on for his old age and he needed to look after himself. Now he has nothing.

I know that I take a lot of glee in mocking Camping when the cRapture failed (predictably) to happen. It is a stupid and wasteful claim that deserved to fall flat on it’s face. Yet for his victims I have to keep some sympathy. Perhaps they will serve as a lesson to future gullible people. Here’s hoping anyway.



Filed under Bad things happen, Religion

Faith “Healing”

Picture this: You’re a 24 year old man who is feeling tired and in a rut, you suspect that something is wrong and that you might be suffering from something whether that be depression or low blood sugar. You decide to visit your GP for a check out and during the consultation the doctor suggests that you might find solace in Jesus (or Ganesha, Odin or the Flying Spaghetti Monster if you’re a Christian). What do you think of that? Do you think “Hang on, I came here for a medical opinion. WTF?” because I would.

Embarrassingly your mum makes a complaint. I say embarrassingly because mums are supposed to embarrass you, especially when you’re 24. The story ends up in the Daily Mail, a quality newspaper as anyone will tell you, and the doctor faces being struck off. Do you sympathise with the doctor?

I don’t.

Someone comes to you for professional advice. It is incumbent on the professional to act accordingly and to maintain that professional relationship. Trying to sell timeshares to a villa, coming on to them or pushing your religion are just not on. There are other things that aren’t on but these are the three that spring to mind.

But Niall Dickson, chief executive of the GMC, said: ‘Our guidance is clear. Doctors should not normally discuss their personal beliefs with patients unless those beliefs are directly relevant to the patient’s care.

‘They also must not impose their beliefs on patients, or cause distress by the inappropriate or insensitive expression of religious, political or other beliefs or views.’

That seems fair to me.

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Filed under Religion

Women Drivers

No, this isn’t a bad and sexist joke.

Saudi authorities arrested a female activist on Sunday who launched a campaign to challenge a ban on women driving in the conservative kingdom and posted a video on the Internet of her driving, activists said.

The YouTube video, posted on Thursday, has attracted more than 500,000 views and shows Manal Alsharif, who learned to drive in the United States, driving her car in Khobar in the oil-producing Eastern Province.

“Police arrested her at 3 a.m. this morning,” said Maha Taher, another female activist who launched her own campaign for women driving four months ago to spread awareness of the issue.

It seems that women want a bit more freedom in Saudi. Good for them and good for Alsharif for making the stand to get her point across.

While there is no written law that specifically bans women from driving, Saudi law requires citizens use a locally issued licence while in the country. Such licences are not issued to women, making it effectively illegal for them to drive.

Sexism by the back door. It isn’t illegal for a woman to drive but the authorities are denying them the ability to drive. That should be straightforward to fix. Right?



Filed under Religion, You decide

Woman Tries to Kill Children, Self to Avoid ‘the Tribulation’

An end times nutter.

Palmdale (KTLA) — A woman slit her daughters’ throats before slitting her own early Friday evening, claiming that “the Tribulation” was going to occur and she wanted to prevent them from suffering through it, officials said.

Lyn Benedetto, 47, reportedly told her daughters to lie on a bed and proceeded to take a knife to their throats.

The suspect then took the knife to her own throat before driving the victims to an unoccupied friend’s house to die.

This is just the kind of crazed mentality that I have so much trouble understanding. It seems clear to me that this woman is mentally ill in some way. Of course I’m not trained in psychiatry or anything but I think you’ll agree that there are some actions that you just know are bonkers.

The recent bollocks by Harold Camping and his followers about the cRapture and the End Times may well have added that impetus to Benedetto so that her dark thoughts of murder\suicide were realised. What sort of thoughts must have gone through her mind to consider that her life, her childrens’ lives and the world would be a better place if her family were bled to death by her hand.

I’ve got to feel sorry for her in a way (assuming that she is actually mentally ill) but my sympathy runs out at the point where her actions hurt others. It really lies with her children who have (or really should have) lost their mother and now have to live with her actions. I have no sympathy whatsoever for the kind of faith that fosters and supports such beliefs that enable this kind of behaviour. None at all.


Filed under Bad things happen, Religion

Wot. No Rapture?

Wot.  No Rapture?
For those of you who missed it yesterday was the Rapture. At least according to Christian radio fruitcake, Harold Camping. This isn’t the first time that he’s predicted the rapture of course. The first time was for September 1994. It didn’t happen then either.

Funnily enough the Jehovah’s Witnesses four predictions for the End Times haven’t come true either. Nope, not in 1914, 1918, 1925, or even in 1942. There are dozens of others from dozens of different Christian sects and cults. Not one of them has come true.

It isn’t just loony Christians who have predicted the end of the world. Islam has the Qiyamah and the two main divisions, the Sunni and the Shia, have whole lists of events that are supposed to happen first. All crap of course. Hindus have a cyclical destruction\rebirth thing with suitably long times but there are still some nutters who think that the end of the world is coming next Thursday, just after tea. Pick any of the religions and some nutter will find something in their holy books that tells them that doom awaits just round the corner.

What is it about these, admittedly extreme, religious people who either want the world to end, look forward to it, or just want to depress people by making such spurious claims? No gods will swoop down on a white steed to take you off to heaven, no Valkyrie will carry you to Valhalla, the Ninki Nanka won’t eat you, the dead won’t rise to live in paradise. It’s all crap. You’ve got one life. Be nice to people and make the most of it, you don’t get a second chance.

Anyway I’m all set for 2012, the Mayan’s predicted that we’d all snuff it then too. I predict that it won’t.


Filed under Reasons to be cheerful, Religion

God sends Tornado. People ask for more.

I’ve heard that faith can sometimes be a comfort but I find this to be truly deluded.

PLEASANT GROVE, Alabama (Reuters) – Women in spring dresses stood beside men in dirty jeans to sing “Count Your Many Blessings” at Pleasant Grove United Methodist Church on Sunday as volunteers took a break from helping families recover from the April 27 tornado that devastated the tiny community.

“We are blessed to be able to help others,” said Bill Sadberry, 74, staffing the church’s volunteer command center.

Behind him, big sheets of paper listed the names and needs of nearly 50 stricken neighbors.

So it is a good thing?

The storms destroyed whole neighborhoods and killed more than 330 people, more than 230 of them in Alabama alone, and caused damage that is expected to exceed the $2 billion.

A really good thing.

Three church members at died in the twister and some remain hospitalized, according to Senior Pastor Daven Watkins.

“The house fell on top of us. It was gone, and she was gone. But I am blessed, because I know where she is, in heaven,” said Bobby Earley, describing the death of his wife of 52 years, Canatha Earley.

Really flipping fantastic.

“This is the best thing that could have happened to me. It changed my relationship to the Lord, my family and my friends,” he said.

The best thing that could have happened.

Are these people insane? Are they simply in denial?

If they really want to be blessed then maybe God could decimate their community every year. I imagine that they’ll be dancing in the streets about that.



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Filed under Religion

An Eye for an Eye

In a literal application of the sharia law of an eye for an eye, Iran is ready for the first time to blind a man with acid, after he was found guilty of doing the same to a woman who refused to marry him.

I know that many people will see this as justified because throwing acid in someone’s face and blinding them is clearly an horrific crime. We rightly feel anger at such violence and want revenge on the perpetrator. We want to see justice done.

This isn’t justice. This is violent revenge torn from the pages of barbaric Sharia law. This is retribution, not justice.

Majid Movahedi should be imprisoned for a very long time. He should compensate Ameneh Bahrami, his victim, for the rest of his life and he should be made to see how vile his actions were. The law should be dispassionate even as we cry out for revenge, even as we understand the anger of the victim. That isn’t justice.


Filed under Religion, You decide