Monday, April 30, 2007


As i mentioned in my post on being a vegetarian, it's interesting to see what causes vehement reactions. Polyamory seems to be one of them. For those not in the know, polyamory is the idea that you can be in romantic love with several people at once. Polyamoric people tend to exist in interesting relationships- perhaps a husband has a girlfriend which his wife knows about, and that girlfriend also has a boyfriend... Obviously in legal terms, if all these people wanted to be joined in law, it would be a nightmare, but they seem to be happy with it. While I have only met on one occasion someone who claims to live by this ideal, I do bump into them on the internet every now and then. They apparently do exist.

Now to me, this certainly is an odd idea, and certainly isn't for me. I'm afraid monogamy is where I am at, I don't think I could function in a more complex arrangement. Indeed, I find it unlikely that anyone can function happily in such an arrangement. But some say they do, and ultimately, who am I to judge that?

But polyamory does seem to cause extreme reactions, from people I would not expect. A while back we were having a social for our Amnesty society, at a pub, when a channel 4 team appeared to ask our views about polyamory. One of the group accepted and went outside to talk. This caused some discussion, and several of my friends were very firm that, "you cannot love more than one person at once," to the point that one was suggesting an Amnesty against polyamory movement (in jest, I do add). I demurred.

It seems bizzare that people are so certain about this- first of all, define love clearly, second of all, just because it's not possible for you, or anyone you know, does that make it impossible? What is exactly special about romantic love that it is only for one person (now at this point it is possible to define love as to the exclusive want of one person. Obviously under this definition, polyamory does not exist, but I rather think this is a little extreme).

So anyway: any thoughts on polyamory?

Sunday, April 29, 2007


I, as you might have noticed thus far, have a problem with language. It is impossible to force people to say what you want them to, of course, but it might be possible to dissuade them from saying something.

So, of course, my aim is the use of, "gay" in a derogatory fashion. This is, frankly, an awful thing to do, yet a surprising amount of people actually use it all the time- it's even in popular media, with the bbc quite a while back thinking it was ok for Chris Moyles to use it because it was popular. If we were to use racial slurs to indicate something in a derogatory fashion, there would be outrage, and quite rightly (although disturbingly I have noticed some people using the word "Jewish" to mean something's bad), so why not with this word? I think it's partially because we simply don't get used to homosexuals at a young age. When we are younger we are taught all about people from other backgrounds, and their struggle for equal rights. We read about Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks (although oddly I cannot think of campaigners for equality in the UK, who must have existed), we also read about suffragettes, and while certain gender stereotypes are reinforced, we are at least taught about how it is wrong to discriminate against women.

But homosexuality? Barely a mention, rarely even in sexual education as well. The problem here is a misguided notion of protecting children- so they do not have to learn about sex early, I should imagine. But I am sure one can teach about homosexuality without the need to mention sex- after all as children we all understood that our parents loved each other- why can't we just go further and say that some men like some men (or women like some women) more than anyone else? There are, sadly, outcries about this kind of thing whenever it is introduced in schools, and I'm not sure why. I really don't think homophobia should be accepted in this day and age, especially as something which you are allowed to impress upon your children.

I used to use gay in a negative fashion, but realised that it was a hurtful expression, and stopped myself from doing it. I truly believe we need to stop using that language, and soon, to help bring widespread acceptance to homosexuals, as they deserve as human beings with the same rights as all of us have.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Extreme weather

I love it when the news covers Britain's "extreme weather" because they start sounding like local news services. There was an earthquake in Kent today, which killed... well no-one. But a woman did get taken to hospital with a minor head injury! A couple of quotes that amused me

Chief Superintendent Ally Hope said: "Given the time this happened and the number of people that were about we should be genuinely thankful that so few people were hurt."

I always like it when something fairly inconsequential happens, and someone says "imagine if it HADN'T been inconsequential!"

Paul Hatton, 38, of Folkestone, said he and his brother Neil initially thought the tremor was caused by an explosion.
He said: "I was upstairs and my brother was downstairs and I heard a bang and thought that a lorry had crashed into something or that there had been a gas explosion.
"I went outside and could smell a bit of gas and there were lots of people outside."

I also like eyewitness reports of these kind of events, because they are incredibly dull. This, story, incidentally, is the big headline on the bbc news website.

EDF Energy said it had managed to restore electricity to most of the several thousand homes left without power in the Folkestone and Dover area.
Ch Supt Hope said that the major transport infrastructure in the area also appeared to have escaped damage.
"The information I have is that the ferry ports are running normally, and that the Channel Tunnel is running normally," he said.

Everything is absolutely fine! I like the way rather than saying that no major services were affected by this, they list various things that are all running fine.

Of course, no news is almost always better than actual news, which usually involves people dying, so I probably shouldn't complain. Still, I think it's pretty funny.

Friday, April 27, 2007

You can't disprove it

In various arguments, and this is certainly not limited to religon, but it is sometimes mentioned in those debates, it has been pointed out to me that I can't disprove the existence of God. This is true of course, and this is what makes a scientific hypothesis so special- one of the key parts is that is must have testable claims, i.e. you can disprove it. Which is why intelligent design is not science, by the way, but thats a whole other enchillada.

My problem is, is that people don't believe in something with absolutely no evidence for it. Of course not, otherwise we'd have to believe an uncountable infinity of things. I'm sure you can make up stuff that is impossible to disprove, but is very unlikely- for example that there is a gigantic number floating above your head at the moment that has no reflection. And is intangible. It's ridiculous, and colossally unlikely, but you can't disprove it. Thats still no reason to believe it's there though.

So why do people believe in God? It's because they have personal evidence- perhaps they have seen the complexity of the universe and believe you need God to explain it, perhaps they simply feel the prescence of God. A scientist would probably dismiss these for various reasons, but thats hardly the point- it's you who has to decide what you believe, and good for you. But the point is that we believe things because there is evidence for them, because if we didn't, then we would have to prove pretty much everything.

This is what confuses me a little about agnostics. Atheists say they do not believe God exists. This is a reasonable position to take if you do not feel there is evidence for them. Richard Dawkins eloquently expresses this as going "one god further" than most theists- after all no-one believes that Thor exists anymore, or Zeus or Appollo. But agnostics claim "not to know". This seems fine, but it's kind of odd- if you don't perceive evidence for something, then you shouldn't believe in it, quite frankly, which, as I understand it, most agnostics (the adamant ones anyway), claim to do. Yes, we should be technically agnostic about most things, but we wouldn't feel the need to declare our agnosticism on santa claus or the tooth fairy.

[Note that all through these arguments I am working from the premise that there is no evidence for god. If you believe, then you undoubtedly think differently, and thus would not equate God with the tooth fairy- this is all purely for the sake of argument]

This argument, incidentaly, is the problem with Pascal's wager. It claims that given there is no evidence for God, we might as well worship him anyway, because if we do and he exists, we get to go to heaven, but if we do and he doesn't we suffer no ill effects. The problem is is that if you accept there is no evidence for God, and that you are only believing on the possibility he might exist, then it is actually impossible to pick the right god. There will be an infinity of gods, including gods who will punish you if you DO worship them. When you exclude evidence, arguments become farcical.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


I am into revision mode now, which you can tell because I am making blog posts far more frequently than I used to... I am a little poor I admit. It is somewhat difficult to stay motivated despite these being my final exams, partially because next year I now know most of the stuff I am learning will not be used at all (apart from one subject, which is lectured by an idiot), and also I do not need a very large mark to attain the grade I desire. So it's all about pride really, and I was never big on pride, especially when I have to buy it with effort. Sadly you do not get pride points for free, no matter how many times you ask (and I have) or even beg. Never mind.

I am also looking for somewhere to live, which is probably a little difficult to do at the same time as revision, but nevertheless I intend to do it. I am off to Southampton next year, doing an Msc in the exciting titled statistics with medical applications. Catchy no? Anyways, southampton is an hour and a half by train from here, which means I probably have to take a day out of revision to get to it. Oh well, such is life. Woe is me, etc etc. Of course it's rather nice to know that I am getting paid to study next year (apparently statisticians in general, and medical statisticians in particular, are somehwhat in demand), so I shan't complain overly much.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


I am on 700 posts with this one, which is probably significant. After all, if you get the number 7 and multiply it by 100, what do you get but this? Huh? I rest my case.

Apparently the next generation of digital recording devices is coming. No more will DVDs darken our shelves, now we will have blu-ray! Or HD! One of the two anyway. Except... do we really need it? I mean I'm quite happy with the large DVD collection I have acquired, they work quite well, and they seem to fit films on them fairly well. I assume these new disks have 15 times the storage space or something, and while thats nice, other than for series I really don't see the attraction. Additionally the price can only go up. Of course we do get better picture quality- I am sure you have been told that HD tv is apparently 4 times better. I'm sure it looks good, but how much better can one get? Surely there is a limit to betterment before the quality becomes so subtle our eyes aren't actually good enough to perceive the differences...

Obviously the industry are pushing for this quite badly, as they've sold most of the DVD technology they can, but is there really a great demand for the next generation? DVD recorders have only just started being made for crying out loud! It makes me wonder about all our massive digital archives- backwards compatability, even when it is catered for, rarely lasts for more than one generation, so we have this massive amount of films and programs that no-one will be able to watch anymore. Oh well. Let's hope everyone has managed to keep paper copies....

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Internet, home of... well a lot of stuff

One of the disturbing undercurrents you get on the Internet is extreme viewpoints being expressed of all different sorts. One that sometimes surprises me is the heavily mysognistic language used by some people on the internet. I do not have a whole host of links, but it wouldn't be too difficult to find some.

I think sometimes it's very easy for people to reinforce these kind of prejudices by remaining within tiny communities which don't really exist in real life- people with extreme views are usually more geographically seperated, and this allows them to communicate. I'm certainly not the first to have these thoughts, but it's not something I usually ponder about. I tend to like the internet, so do not like critisising it.

A good example is this article. Utter nonsense, claiming a completely distorted view of reality which anyone with any brains would dismiss out of hand... yet most of the comments are in complete agreement.

Bafflingly at the end of the article, he gives advice to stop your son being accused of rape, which include "Never have unprotected sex". Huh? How would that stop one being accused of rape? It's rather good advice for different reasons, but.. meh.

To counterbalance the stupidity, why not read feministing- it's a pretty good blog on feminism that I think is worth a read whatever your gender.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Baffling stunt

A christian group staged a bizzare and rather unpleasent protest at this guy's show- for very unclear reasons- the language is not that nasty for a stage show, neither is the subject matter that disgusting. The guy talks about it here. As far as I know there is nothing posted by that christian group explaining their actions.

Why ARE you a vegetarian?

I have been a vegetarian for two years now, and along the way I have had a surprising amount of people try to persuade me not to be one. For some reason, there is something about being a vegetarian that brings out, if not an urge to convert me, at least some amount of bafflement. Some people become very defensive, tell me they love meat too much to quit, to which I simply smile and say fair enough.

I always knew when I became a vegetarian that I would not preach- I had no interest in making a conversion, and would really only bring up that I am a vegetarian when prompted by others. I feel it is the right thing to do, but am aware other people draw different lines in the sand. After all, if I truly had the courage of my convictions I would be a vegan, something that I am simply not prepared to do at this stage in my life.

Still, some people, having been told that I am a vegetarian, will be overly curious- I guess they could just be making a conversation, but my other beliefs have never really been as dissected as this one. I rather think it's a pretty simple one to an outside observer- I clearly don't want animals to die just so I can eat. In fact there is an environmental aspect to my beliefs as well, but as I say, I don't overly want to get into it- I have already posted why I'm a vegetarian.

To be fair, when I was younger I acted the same to the notion of being a vegetarian. There is a scathing email floating somewhere in someone's inbox still (probably) sent enmass (when I liked sending my opinions unasked for. Because I'm like that), where I mock vegetarians in a somewhat uninformed manner. I can't remember what got me all riled up about vegetarians back then, we are a rather harmless demographic, other than (hopefully) to the meat industry. Anyone got any notions?

Friday, April 20, 2007

I'm not racist but

A marvelous example of stupidity in the guardian recently- a story about a now unused methodist church being used by Muslims as a mosque, and the opposition from the community. They feature an example of protest from Caroline, who says, "I'm not racist but I don't think they should have given it permission. It will lead to more Muslims coming to live here and we'll end up like Blackburn." Caroline will be voting BNP this election. Now I know everyone is very familiar with the "I'm not racist but," tactic, but how stupid do you have to be to think that not wanting more Muslims to come to the area... isn't racist.

It is somewhat baffling, and somewhat depressing, that people still exist who hold these views.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Politically Correct

When I talk about a subject that I feel strongly about, like this one, I get the feeling that I've blogged about it before, and in this case I suspect I have. Still, I'm going to write again, and hope I don't repeat myself too much (the other solution is actually searching my archives, but that seems far too much like hard work).

It really irritates me when the privileged complain that they have lost some of those privileges. White people, especially white males, who, it must be noted, are generally the ones doing the complaining, are uniquely privileged in this society. On average they are going to do better in every aspect of life than any other subset of society. Why? Well because we have controlled society for a very long time, and like tends to discriminate in favour of like, so society does not change for a very long time.

Now over time we have become a bit more aware of this discrimination, and have considered measures to tackle it. Positive discrimination is one, for example all women shortlists for some constituencies of parties. There are definitely problems with this- is the best way to cope with discrimination by consciously discriminating in the other direction, and also it can be somewhat patronising- I remember a lot of women in my A-level politics class were uncomfortable with the idea of getting an easier ride, but it must be noted that the party selection process is a horrid one often run by old men with older prejudices, which is why these shortlist exist. Whether they are right or wrong, there is one very important point here even if these measures exist, white people still have the advantage! After it was suggested that there be some kind of measure to recruit more state school pupils to university, there was quite a lot written by parents who sent their children to private schools worried about being discriminating against. Because, see, it’s very hard for an incredibly advantaged child to get into university, they need every break they can get. Notice here that I’m not saying that positive discrimination is necessarily correct; all I am saying is that it is absolutely ridiculous to claim that it suddenly puts black people/women/kids from state schools into an advantaged position!

So finally I come to talk about the topic of this post, political correctness. If there is one thing that has come under more attack, it is political correctness. There is an inherent problem in attempting to control speech, in that it is difficult to say how much is too much, which is why it is very easy to find examples of political correctness gone mad! Indeed, I’m sure everyone can think of a particular example, and I would have to nod and say, “Yes, that probably is too far.” But let’s not forget why political correctness was invented in the first place. It was a reaction to the attitudes and language of the past which was overwhelmingly racist. Words have powers, and the habit of speaking in that manner really has an effect on your patterns of thought. So yes, there are times when political correctness goes mad, but ultimately it is so much better than the alternative.

Finally, just a note to all white people who genuinely question why they can’t say the “n” word when black people can.

A- Are you really that stupid?

B-Why on earth do you even want to say it? Really? I can’t think of a sensible reason that is good enough to override the extreme offence you cause by using it.

Ultimately, always remember- we are the privileged, if we have to suffer some inconveniences then so be it.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

I say to thee.... expelliarmus!

Just like to say Dr Who has been pretty damn awesome recently.

That is all.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I love the internet

You have to love the internet, simply because you can discover brilliance that someone has recently created, or brilliance thats been on the net for several years. For several new samples of brilliance, check out this funny, but rather long video, and also this one Venemous Bee found.... Awesome stuff.

Monday, April 02, 2007

thou shalt always kill

This is quite an awesome hip hop song a friend linked me- theres some great lines in there, including "thou shalt not wish your girlfriend is a freak like me"