Sunday, September 28, 2008
On the upside, Florida lost. Yay, Ole Miss! Not something I would normally say, but there you go.
And that wasn't the only action from Ole Miss last night. The Presidential debates held at the University of Mississippi that Americans saw on Friday was aired here last night at 11pm. So, as I was listening to final dregs of the Auburn- Tennessee game with a headphone in my ear and hanging on with dwindling hope - I was half listening to McCain and Obama grumble and stumble through American foreign policy and the financial crisis.
I'm afraid it re-confirmed by my belief that they're both crap candidates, but that McCain is worser.
I fell asleep pretty shortly after the moderator cajoled the candidates to talk to each other for the fifth time which succeeded only in causing McCain to not know where to look and therefore look as shifty as he probably is.
Obama may not have said much, but kudos to him for not rolling his eyes and saying "What in the hell are you talking about?" to some of McCain's sillier stupidisms and lame, lame attempts at humor.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Today I had to go to Birmingham for work. I hadn't been in ages. I left the event I was speaking at early, skipping the final plenary after I did my last gig.
It was understood that I needed to get back to my very young son. But really, I wanted to make sure I had time to go to the Birmingham Museum, which was located tantalisingly near the event, so I could see this painting before I headed back to London.
I don't know why, but this is one of my favorite paintings. It's really rubbish, though. Apparently, it's taken from a French fable in which a monkey wants some roasting chestnuts and manages to convince the cat to singe his paws getting the chestnuts from the burning embers.
I asked one of the attendants if I could take a picture. He told me that normally you're supposed to have special permission, but if I was only taking one picture that was ok.
At the National Gallery, here in London, you can get any print in the whole museum printed out for you specially while you wait - in a number of superb quality expensive sizes. So if you have weird tastes in art, you don't have to just be satisfied with the usual posters of Van Goghs and Monets. The National Gallery was the first museum in the world to have this on offer.
I really like the Spanish painter Zurburan and his creepy religious pictures. I remember seeing his St. Margaret and thinking "I'd really like to have a copy of this, but this will never be in the poster bin in the gift shop. Wouldn't it be awesome if they had a printer that could just do whatever you want?" And when we went to the gift shop they did have it! How cool is that? I have St Margaret framed above the kitchen table.
It kinda reminds me of the time I wanted a wine rack and I had to go to the dump to get rid of some stuff and thought - wouldn't it be great if somebody was throwing away a wine rack and we got it. And sure enough, the guy next to us was throwing away a wine rack and I made my husband ask him for it and we use to this day to store wine and two liter bottles of lemonade.
I'd pay stupid prices to get a good quality print of the Monkey and the Cat.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
A regular reader pointed out some nasty racist slogans - you can see them here at Think Progress. And you'll also find out that the Internet vendor who was selling them has removed them. I'm not excusing them at all, they're vile. They should be taken down through social and commercial pressure. But I have a feeling they're not all that pervasive.
There is an Obama racism museum online with ten examples of racist material and include all the material in the original comment, but interestingly the most violent, vile and offensive item (in my view) is also misogynistic and was created by someone who claimed to be an Obama supporter.
It's my hypothesis that racism is largely deemed unacceptable in "polite society", but sexism is frequently overlooked or tacitly encouraged. So, I thought I'd undertake a little empirical research. I decided to look at the pervasiveness of sexism and racism on one of the more popular customized t-shirt sites - CafePress. This site relies on user generated content printed on CafePress supplied t-shirts, bumper stickers, mugs, bags...and so on. Here are the shocking results - sexism directed toward political candidates is A-OK and widespread; racism is not.
My assumptions and study design are below the main findings.
Total offense count:
Faith bias: 9
Gender bias: 43 - maybe 44
Age/disability bias: 3
Honorable mention - perhaps one slogan with sexual preference bias.
The offense counts of the designs which came up as I searched against each politician's name. Interestingly, for both Clinton and Palin all of the offensive designs were directed at them (with one exception). For male candidates, offensive designs were often directed at others.
Faith bias: 0
Gender bias: 1 - maybe 2
Age/disability bias: 0
A surprisingly offense-light zone. Only one possible racist association - Barack Obama's head photoshopped onto a gangsta-rappa type with the slogan "Barack's gonna knock you out." I wasn't clear if this was pro or anti Obama, but I felt it played to negative racial stereotypes.
Bro's before ho's (sic) was the slogan with a clear gender bias.
There was also a t-shirt that said "Barack with your cock out". I'm pretty sure it's pro-Obama. It think it means the person is an enthusiastic supporter. I count this as the only maybe on the Gender Bias category.
Faith bias: 6
Gender bias: 5
Age/disability bias: 1
Half of the offensive material was linking Obama to radical Islam - mostly making a play on words between Obama and Osama (typical example)
There were a couple of references too Sarah Palin's sexual attractiveness and Hillary Clinton's lack of same. More under their own entries.
There was one instance of a visual pun that was a reference to John McCain's age and possible infirmity John Mc(and a picture of a cane).
Faith bias: 3
Gender bias: 0
Age/disability bias: 2
I flipped through pages and pages before I found anything particularly offensive here. There were a couple of instances of designs showing Joe Biden in a wheelchair urging him to stand up (a reference to a gaffe he made inviting a political ally in a wheelchair to stand).
Two references to McCain's fitness - "It's 3pm and John McCain is napping."
Three links to Osama Bin Laden, two of them rather tortured visual puns linking Obama and Osama and Biden and Bin Laden.
Faith bias: 0
Gender bias: 10
Age/disability bias: 0
Almost all of the offensive material here was about Sarah Palin's fuckability, reducing her to a "hot" object of desire - often with a gun (examples here and here). There were several references to wanting to be Sarah Palin's intern.
I didn't count designs that included the slogan "Drill, baby, drill." or any images of a pitbull with lipstick, or "Hero and Hottie" - though I probably should have included instances of the latter. I tended to limit it to the most graphic images or descriptions.
There were two instances of "VP Palin - I'd drill that".
I'm not entirely sure, but I think a lot of this offensive material was ostensibly pro-Palin.
Faith bias: 0
Gender bias: 28
Age/disability bias: 0
If the gender bias about Sarah Palin was about her attractiveness, most of the references to Hillary Clinton were the opposite. The predominant messages were that she's ugly, undesirable and a bitch. Like Lewinsky '08, vote for the woman who's willing to do the job or Even Bill doesn't want her.
There were many instances of "Life's a bitch, so don't vote for one" or similar. Similarly, I counted several instances of "Just Vote for the Bitch," which I counted and "Bitches get things done," which I didn't. It's a fine line to draw, but that's where I drew it.
There was one pro-Hillary slogan which was sexist toward men (and women) - which I did count - Chicks before Dicks. Probably a counter to Bros before Hos.
I searched under five names Barack Obama, John McCain, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Sarah Palin to look for any type of negative "ism" in designs available on the site. Most of the designs were available on a variety of items, but some were only t-shirts or only bumper stickers. I didn't count these differently. For each politician, I looked at 15 pages of possible designs - with 30 designs appearing per page - a total of 450 designs each. I counted similar or practically identical designs as separate instances if they had a different design identification number.
I found negative gender, age, and religious bias - but only possibly one instance of negative race bias. I judged negative bias as distasteful or offensive use of racial, faith, age or disability, or sexist stereotypes used to attack (and in some cases putatively support) a particular candidate. Negative bias is based entirely my judgement - a serious flaw in this little study, but I tried to be as objective as possible.
I also found lots of positive gender and race bias - i.e. it's a good thing to vote for Barack Obama because he's black (a small number of these) or vote for Hillary Clinton or Sarah Palin because they are women (lots of these). I didn't count those. I also didn't count instances where the political slogans were an obvious twist on negative sterotypes (e.g. the slogan that said Some Guy/Palin '08).
I also found a number of "vaguely sexist" references - such as Obama Girl or Chicks for Obama or McCain Girl. I didn't count these. Similarly, there were usages of the urban slang "homeboy", but these appeared to be without racial bias and were I felt supported both the Republicans (McCain is my homeboy, Sarah is my home girl) and Obama is my homeboy. These weren't counted.
UPDATE: For a bonus round including political headlines, check out Tennessee Guerilla Women.
Sarah Palin Sexism Watch
16 Sexist Sarah Palin T shirts that will probably piss you off.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Wow. Is this the kind of political discourse we want? Not cool.
Egalia reports the use of this ad on "progressive blogs" at Tennessee Guerilla Women.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. There is much about Sarah Palin's position that I disagree with. So much so that I will not be voting for McCain-Palin. But I respect that she is an accomplished and talented politician just as I acknowledge the many formidable male politicians with whom I strongly disagree.
And it makes me sick that she's attacked in this way, because this isn't really about her, it's only vaguely about her politics - this is about her gender. This is saying that any woman is fair game for sexist attacks. As we've seen. This is the kind of nasty politics that aims to keep women from positions of power from the White House to the school board.
This is so distasteful that I'd have suspected that it was a Republican plant if I hadn't lived through the primary season.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
In British political life, you don't wait every four years to have a convention. No, they have one every year. I guess that's the benefit of having a small country. All the big parties do it. And the leader of the party has to give a big speech, and one of those leaders will be the Prime Minister.
And you know what, they don't broadcast the speeches prime time. Mostly because the speeches aren't given in prime time. They happen in the day. Sure, you can catch it on tv, but it interrupts a cookery show or some show where you go through your house and sell off your valuable goods to finance a trip the Gran Canaria or some such. And frankly, most people are at work while these are going on.
Like me. I was at work when Gordon Brown gave his big headline speech today. This was the speech that was supposed to save his political career. This was make or break time. Pundits were saying that he needed to have "an Obama moment" to turn around his political fate.
On tv tonight, many of those pundits were reporting that he'd done it. Or at least, that he'd given a great speech. The speech of his life, blah, blah, blah. And then they'd interview some Labour party goon, some former press under-secretary in the Blair government, or some Broonite loyalist and they said "Wow, what a great speech. He showed what a leader he was." Blah, blah, blah.
Several channels flipped through and all we could hear were people talking about how great his speech was and offering insight. But no clips of the speech. "Show us some of the damn speech," said the Vol-in-Law. We wanted to bask in Gordon's brilliance, too.
Finally, the ViL had sense enough to turn to the Parliament channel. It's a little like I remember C-SPAN, except they rarely seem to show sub-committee meetings live. In fact, they always seem to have happened months in the past. Not sure what that's about. But they were showing Gordon Brown's speech just as we flipped to it. In fact, I think we caught most of it.
Obama moment, my arse. Barack Obama is an incredibly gifted public speaker. Even when he's talking shite it sounds pretty good. Gordon Brown, not so much. Not even close. Not even in the same solar system. Not even when Gordon Brown is talking sense.
But Gordon Brown wasn't talking sense. He made some sneering jabs at the Conservative Party. I'm not sure this is the time to do this. He made some sneering jabs at the "novices" who want to take over from him. He said some really lame stuff about the economy and how the Tories would end all regulation of the financial markets. Gordon Brown wanted to make us believe that he's the right man to handle the economic chaos, but instead he sounded like the pompous bloke at the pub who tries to make himself look smarter by distorting other people's points. And he did it not very well.
No wonder they couldn't show any clips of the speech. It would have showed just how full of it the political reporters are.
Monday, September 22, 2008
As I explained to the Vol-in-Law during the first half if you looked at all the statistics, except for the scoring stastics, the Vols actually did more than Florida.
"Except for the score?" questioned the Vol-in-Law. "No one looks at that."
Thanks for your support, hon.
We had to dress Buddy in some UT pyjamas that were way, way too small. Being a wiry fellow, I was able to close most of the buttons, but the long sleeved, full length pants only came to the elbow and the knee. I was going to take a picture to show you, but he managed to have a poo-splosion in the morning before I could get the camera out. Ooooh, it was a bad one. I think it was perhaps a dirty protest at Fulmer's special teams strategy.
Ouch: you know things are bad when someone asks for the coach's head on a platter on their baby shower wish list.
I listened to the game again. Video was free to air on CBS Internet tv as it was their SEC game of the week, but when I did all the signing up and clicking and so forth I got a disappointing message "Content not available for viewing outside the US." Now, what's the point of that? I mean it's the Internet. It was, I believe, actually shown on CBS. If I lived in the US, I could have watched it on tv.
I know that techie hackers and so on use mirroring or spoofing sites to make it appear they're accessing content from someplace they physically are not. Does anyone know how you do that? I mean should Tennessee actually feature in a game of the week again anytime soon, how would I go about that? Answers on a post card, please.
Friday, September 19, 2008
My photos came out not so good, most of them. I need to improve on the whole action shot thing. But I pulled them together with a little lame video clip and voila 84 seconds of something not quite so bad.
I used two new things (new to me) to do this.
1. Picasa 3. I'm a big fan of Picasa photo editing software. It's not the best, but it's quick and easy to use - there's no faster cropping I've found and everything feels pretty intuitive. This latest version has a few new tricks, like retouching and lets you pull a movie together (as above) pretty quickly. It's still kinda crashy though and even though it seemed like I could upload directly to YouTube, I couldn't get that to work and had to upload from the YouTube interface.
2. YouTube now has soundtrack! You can "swap audio" from a list of tunes. I don't know if it's copyright free or what the deal is, but presumably that's YouTube's lookout. I added the soundtrack you can hear above. The list isn't huge and I couldn't quite time transitions as I might have liked. But hey, it removes the frisson of fear that some record company's solicitor might pop a demand for £1500 for violating their intellectual property rights.
Update: oops, I failed to mention the most important thing about Picasa - it's free.
Further update: my old pal is back online and blogging and says it's talk like a pirate day which is NOT an invitation for me to talk about copyright violations and internet piracy - which is what I did, totally unintentionally.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
From the borders at the Inner Temple gardens, which hosted an RHS flower show last week.
I've been working within walking distance of this place for years, and I had no idea it was there.
There gardens were lovely, mixed borders, mainly - but some beautiful shade borders and lovely old trees, too.
The event itself was pretty fantastic - kinda like a very, very small version of the Chelsea flower show. There was a champagne bar (which I passed on) and an all female steel band. Because nothing says traditional English gardening like steel drums.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.
On the one hand, I'm all for alternative dispute resolution - I guess. On the other hand, this really creeps me out. As a woman, I have to say, sharia pretty much sucks for us.
The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence.
Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court.
Previously, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.
It has now emerged that sharia courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network’s headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The courts have been established through rules on arbitration, so it's basically binding arbitration, but all parties must agree to it before entering the court. Then the ruling becomes enforceable. This keeps people from venue shopping and dragging things out indefinitely. If you go to a sharia court over a contested will, the male sibling will receive twice as much as the female sibling. I know that and so would any Muslim litigant. I wouldn't go to a sharia court to settle an inheritance dispute (sorry Vol Bro), but I do know a Muslim woman who probably would have and all she wanted was what sharia "entitled" her to when her brother wanted to take a lot more than his already larger share. In most senses, I really don't have a problem with this.
But these courts are deciding all kinds of matters including charges of domestic violence. Ummm, yeah - the victim and the perpetrator are on equal footing there, aren't they? It turns out that in the domestic violence cases the men have been ordered to undergo anger management courses. How enlightened. And the women have dropped the charges. Fancy that.
After yet another gloomy forecast on the news at dinner, he declared:
"I, for one, welcome our new Chinese Overlords."
Monday, September 15, 2008
Blecchhhh..... that's how I feel about this whole election cycle. Just blecchhhh....
You see, as I've said all along, I'd rather eat a razor blade than vote for McCain - go ahead put razor blade in the search box - you'll see McCain next to it almost every time (well, half the time - there's also one post about Halloween candy and razor blades and one in which I reproduce in its entirety and without license the Ballad of William Bloat)
And I've been a lifelong Democratic voter and some time member of the Democratic party. I'm currently a member, that's why I get all those emails from Obama asking me for $5 (or more). But I'm just not feeling the love this time. Still, I find it hard to blog against the Democratic nominee. Even though I want to. So I'm kinda just avoiding the subject.
For the first time in my life, I'm seriously thinking about just not voting. I haven't requested my ballot yet. I probably will - just so I can frame it, un-marked. It is an historic election after all. And you people who do vote - what kind of souvenir will you have. Heck, in most states with electronic voting you won't even get a paper receipt.
I just can't understand how both parties could have produced such crap candidates. But, then again, in 2004 both parties produced crap candidates.
I've decided that the best outcome is for a meteor to land on the Presidential debates. A meteor would be good. Although there'd no doubt be some conspiracy theories to follow, a meteor wouldn't be anybody's fault and we'd get to have a do-over.
I had thought I might vote for Cynthia McKinney, even though she's running on a Green Party ticket. The Vol-in-Law told me "You can't vote Green, that'll just encourage them." But I find her positions on 9/11 pretty repugnant, and a deal breaker for me.
Is John Jay Hooker on the Tennessee ballot for President this time? If he is, he's got my vote.
But on Saturday, I was able to tune in to the Vols on Internet radio.
And I guess like any Tennessee fan, I wasn't really thinking about that game. I was thinking about the next game. Will this be enough against Florida? Ehhhh....unlikely.
University of Alabama Birmingham was there to be our punching bag, but instead we just slapped 'em around a little. Sure a win's good, it's better than a mark in the L column.
I never thought the Vols would lose, but I was unsure about one thing. The new Internet listening service.
Last year, there was radio broadcast from UTSports.com -owned by the University, but this year it's on another site - the All Access College Sports Broadband Channel. Probably something to do with the gajillion dollar communications deal UT signed this year. The site is not great. Sure it looks slick, but it's hard to navigate, it has weird disappearing menus and you can't just click on a game to listen, you have to tick a teeny-tiny unintuitive box to add it to your "play list". My playlist? Whatever, I just want to listen to the game. Worst of all, occasionally I'd get a voiceover saying "The event you have selected is not yet broadcast, please check your playlist..." or some such rubbish. And I'd have to go and reload the game - listening to the mandatory ad before I could return to game coverage.
There also doesn't appear to be any way to turn off the game tracker, which means that even though I can listen to old games which is very useful when the games are on too late for me, there doesn't appear to be any way to avoid the score. I like to listen to the games as if live. A big old final score kinda ruins it for me. I've complained about this directly.
Finally, I'd like to grumble about the Vol Network feed itself. The way it works is advertising is sold by the Vol Network - that's fine. I actually kinda like hearing those ads. In East Tennessee, problems with termites? Lookie, lookie, lookie her comes Cookie - Cooks pest control. And go to Food City for that limited edition Tennessee ice cream that Mayfield Dairy makes. Show your Volunteer spirit by recyling! And so on...
But when it cuts to the slots that local affiliates have sold...there's no sound. There's just an eery, ominous silence that brings a panic to my chest and makes me think that the broadcast has cut out. I'd actually rather listen to some ads - maybe some international company like Gillette or Coke or the International Herald Tribune could buy across all Internet broadcast NCAA sports - I guess the legalities would be too difficult. Or maybe it could be non-stop repeating choruses of Rocky Top or warnings about parking restrictions at UT or snippets from Chemistry 101 lectures or anything - really anything.
Anyway, rant over - Go Vols, next week I suspect I'll have more to complain about than 30 seconds of dead air.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Today at the playground, I watched a mother compare her little fellow with Buddy. She said "He's an adventurous one." I replied "He sure is." She asked me how old he was and when I said fifteen months she said "He's the Indiana Jones of the baby world."
Monday, September 08, 2008
In my search for some critter tv, I was hunting through the documentary area of the satellite menu. Insects? No. Bears, yes. Animals cops in Detroit? Sometimes. He likes it so long as there's an underfed Rottweiler or a mangy pit bull or some scraggly kittens, but his attention wanes as soon as a Michigan animal welfare officer comes on the screen. And when his attention wanes, he starts banging the brass curtain pull against the window or shoving the remote down the radiator or pulling books off the bookshelf.
Crocodiles. No, apparently reptiles aren't that interesting either. But I had to stop and watch the Crocodile Hunter guy for a moment. Steve Irwin and his chirpy Australianness and his love of animals that I wouldn't touch with a stick. He was picking up snakey looking lizard things in a burnt out landscape, it must have been filmed during Australia's long drought and bush fires and he was trying to rescue the things. He was a clearly distressed by their plight.
"And you know what really tears my heart out?" he said to the camera.
"A sting ray?" I replied to the tv.
Thursday, September 04, 2008
John McCain, if I ever thought he was a presidential contender - after what I saw, I certainly don't think so now. He looked old and frail and rheumy and said things like "you'll see more of the future than I will." The Vol-in-Law [and I] discussed this and could only come to the conclusion that McCain must now know that he will never be President.
How times change.
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
Last year, following astute observation followed by scientific-like experiments, we discovered that if Buddy was wearing orange, preferably UT licensed gear, the Vols would do well. If, following, a spill, a spit up, or poo-splosion, Buddy had to have the orange removed - the Vols would falter. Several times we scrambled to find new orange to place on the sleeping child, and the Vols rallied. (This apparently only worked in regular season games, not in the SEC Championship game).
What was Buddy wearing last night? Navy blue.
To the entire Vol Nation, I offer my profound apologies.
Trouble is, as an infant he had a ton of UT stuff. Now, he has but one sweatshirt and it's getting kinda snug. The critter keeps growing. At least there's two weeks (almost) between now and the next game. Time to rescue the season. We know what must be done.
Looking forward to a victorious season
Monday, September 01, 2008
And I've got to admit, I haven't quite figured it out yet. Why do they got to change it every year? Last year it was the easiest and simplest yet - I even had a saved link where I could listen to the games without ever seeing the score if they were on too late. This year, I'm all confused.
I'm moaning. I know. Tonight, it has to be sleep - whatever little I may be able to procure.
Since I'm top rate tax payer, it makes sense for me to surrender the maximum amount I'm allowed under current regulations. I was trying to sort it out today and the person in the customer service centre told me that if the allowance was raised in the next budget, I would automatically have an increased amount taken from my paycheck (which is a good thing).
I said "They probably won't raise it, Gordon Brown* hates me."
Call centre woman: "It's not you, Gordon Brown hates everyone."
*Gordon Brown - current UK Prime Minister formerly Chancellor of the Exchequer (financial supremo). He's not supposed to be in charge of the Budget and Government finances anymore, but everyone knows the current chancellor Alistair Darling is Gordon's muppet.