Things You Shouldn’t Do

You should not read the archives of Nee Naw (although it is a very good blog)  if you’re likely to feel at all distressed at the thought of elderly men dying. Like I was, because it reminded me that not only is my grandfather very dead, he’s also very cremated now and so even if there is a zombie uprising, he will not be coming back.

On the other hand, reading about the people who take phone calls for ambulances reminds me of the time my sister tried to open a packet of blue dye with her teeth. Which also ranks quite high in the list of things you shouldn’t do. It was a bright blue, powder dye, and, not surprisingly, the packet exploded into her mouth. So she came to me, dribbling blue, to get my advice. I told her to spit out all the dye she could, and rinse out her mouth with cold water, thinking that this would remove it. Unfortunately, it was cold-water dye, and just made her tongue even bluer. So, both of us very shamefaced, we went downstairs to tell Mum. She took one look at my sister and got on the phone to the Poisons people (I think they live in Guy’s Hospital, but who knows….).

Except, of course, my sister thought that Mum was calling an ambulance, and that she was going to die. So she started screaming. And it was a couple of seconds after that that Mum’s call got transferred to the people that could tell her whether the dye was poisonous or not. Luckily enough, it turned out that the dye was only deadly if you inhaled it. And my sister had a heavy cold. So that was one death averted by an intrepid cold virus. Who’d have thought a small child would ever be so happy that they were all bunged up?

Remembering that story, I have to wonder how many parents would’ve phoned the ambulance people instead…


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Appropriate Sentence?

From the BBC: a former head teacher pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography – 457 indecent images, to be precise, with “a dozen” at “the more serious end of the spectrum”.

He’s been given 150 hours of community service and 3 years of probation, which bans him from contact with children under 16 and monitors his computer use.

“Sheriff Alistair Noble, sitting in Edinburgh Sheriff Court on Tuesday, said the sentence was appropriate in view of his exemplary service as a teacher, the impact on his family and the fact that a relatively small number of images were involved, and a very small number at the highest levels of pornography.”

Doesn’t that imply that the sentence given was lenient?

And isn’t the fact that he was a head teacher with indecent images of children a good reason to give him a less lenient sentence? My brain, it melts.


Don’t Leave Me To My Own Devices…

…Because when you do, things like this happen:

I did my homework first though, honest.

It’s just that you can’t mess around with a program that draws graphs when your seven year old brother’s around without him asking you to draw pigs. Why didn’t I think of that?!


Quote of The Night

Ok, so I do have other stuff I want to write about, but seriously, make time to watch this video of little American kids saying who they’d vote for.

And Quote Of The Night?

You know why I didn’t vote for McCain?…. Because… Sarah Palin hunts moose.

H/T to Feministing 🙂


Why Don’t You Care…?

Since I’ve moved up to Sheffield, I’ve been doing the meet-and-greet thing a hell of a lot. So I’ve started to get questions that either I’ve never had to deal with before, or that I just haven’t heard in years.
And what I’ve noticed is that they all follow the same pattern – “why don’t you care….. ?”
So, there’s been:

…. that your legs are hairy, and don’t you know that’s disgusting?
…. about God?
…. about makeup?
…. that you’re not going out all the time?
….that not every parent is letting their daughter have the HPV vaccine?

Doesn’t it say a lot, though, that the one that generated the most acrimony was the first one?
Seriously, the looks of horror were almost frightening. But, you know what? I don’t care because it doesn’t matter!

– It doesn’t matter that my legs are hairy, precisely because I don’t mind. I don’t feel any less for having hair where it’s perfectly normal to have hair. Actually, I’ve got quite competitive, and was disappointed to realise that my leg hair is never going to be as long as J’s.
One of my answers to the question was “I decided that I wouldn’t shave my legs for as long as J didn’t shave his. He can’t be bothered, so I haven’t.”
Predictably enough, this generated a huge chasm of double-think, that I was simply unable to bridge. “But… but… he’s a man – it doesn’t matter for him!”. Exactly. It doesn’t matter for him. His leg hair doesn’t repulse anybody. Why should mine?

– Let’s just not get started on God. I don’t care, because the presence or absence of God doesn’t get me up in the mornings. I’ve got a life to live.

– The makeup’s a difficult one. In a way, I suppose it comes back to the leg hair double-think. It doesn’t matter for him; why should it matter for me?
More practically, I don’t care about makeup because I’d rather spend the money on food, or soap, or books. I don’t care about makeup because I’d rather have an extra cup of tea in the morning than try to cover my face in chemicals. And I don’t care about makeup because I was lucky enough to never really start using it. If I had started, maybe I’d’ve carried on. But it seems a bit silly to start now, after the spotty-teenager phase.

-The HPV vaccine thing?
(Be warned, I’m going to get cross. And I’m going to talk. A lot.)

Ok, first off, it doesn’t prevent all cervical cancer. I’ll say it again.
The HPV vaccine does not prevent all cervical cancer.
Moreover, not all people who have HPV have it develop into cancer.
There is a risk that HPV will lead to cervical cancer. A risk is not a certainty.

Any vaccine carries some health risks with it. Therefore, the decision to have a vaccine requires a weighing-up of those risks. It may be that there are very few risks, or that they will only be minor risks. But jamming a needle into your flesh and injecting yourself with a vaccination will always carry some risk, even if it’s just that you might get a localised infection. Or a numb arm.

My Statistics lecturer would love me for this – I’ve just been to the Office of National Statistics website to see what I could drum up.
Let me say now that I’m not any kind of decent statistician, yet. I couldn’t conduct a proper research survey alone, and I didn’t understand all of the terms used in the statistics I found. But I have had some training, which is better than none.

And what I’ve found actually isn’t very hard to understand.
The most recent statistics for mortality rates of cancer in the UK are from the period 2002 – 2004, with averages taken over these three years.

For women, cervical cancer is 13th on the list of common cancers. This actually isn’t very common.

A quick look at lung cancer (the most common cancer for both men and women) shows that:
In the time period 2002 – 2004, an average of 15,355 women were diagnosed with lung cancer each year, and 13,505 died.

Compare this with cervical cancer:
In the time period 2002 – 2004, an average of 2,784 women were diagnosed with cervical cancer, and 1,106 died.

Which means that I, as a woman, am over ten times more likely to die from lung cancer than I am to die from cervical cancer.

Or, put another way, in a population of 1,000,000, 28 women will die from cervical cancer each year.

Frankly, I like those odds. They are not large. They’re not zero, and clearly some women do die from cervical cancer, but, you know, if I don’t want to die from cancer, I’d be better off (according to the statistics at least) by making sure that I don’t smoke and check my breasts regularly. Oh, and by not being genetically predisposed to developing cancer. That would help.

So if some parents don’t want their daughters to have this vaccine, I’m actually not too worried.
At least, I’m not worried about this as a stand-alone statement.

I am worried if the reasoning behind it is “… because then my daughter will be a promiscuous slut and God will hate her”. This is quite clearly nonsense, and I’m not one for having choices taken away from women in general. Especially not because of the great Bearded One in the sky.

But if the reasoning behind it is, “I’ve explained to my daughter what the risks are, and asked her whether she wants the vaccine, and she’s said no” then no, I don’t mind.
I especially don’t mind if they also point out that if she wants to change her mind about it, it would be best to do so before she becomes sexually active.

I wish people actually looked at statistics once in a while. They might be shocked at what cheap tricks the media pulls when they use statistics as soundbites.

Oh – and have links:
Statistics all taken from here.
If you really want to get specific, try this.
Useful information on the HPV vaccine is here.
A discussion of when parents are God-bothering to the extent of not giving their daughters any kind of choice, here.


What Girls Are Really Thinking (No, Honestly)

Ok, so I wasn’t going to blog, because I notice I’m posting a fair bit these days, trying to hide from my Statistics coursework.
But then I realised that somebody (I’m going to assume a man, and I’m going to call him… Ted. Hi Ted!) had got to my blog by typing “what are girls really thinking” into Google.

So, Ted, first things first.

When you say “girls”, do you actually mean “pre-pubescent”? Because if so, you’re in the wrong place. I am not a “girl”. Although I was, once. And I’m not going to talk about what girls are really thinking, because if you’re a man, you’ll either be very bored by that, or very creepy. If you’re creepy, please go away now. I don’t like creepy men.

And, if you didn’t mean “pre-pubescent”, can you tell me why the fuck you just referred to all women as “girls”? Honestly, it’s one of those things that just keeps on annoying me.

I am a woman. Have been for a while, whichever definition you choose to use. So this is about what women are thinking.

Now, I really would like to insist that you ignore this article. Yeah, yeah, I know what it says. I know how it panders to all those stereotypes that you just can’t help loving…. but, poor, naive Ted – it’s a lie. It’s all a lie. Cake is a lie too, probably.

I could give you links to various blogs by various women, because that shows you what women are thinking. Of course, I am biased and selective, so I would only link you to women that I, personally, find interesting or amusing.

Actually, you know what you could do? You could go and watch the Target Women series. It’s awesome. I love it. And it shows you, fairly easily, what women are asked to think, and what (some) women do think.

But I wasn’t meant to be linking you to things, really. Because you could go to my blogroll and check out what women are thinking from that, and it would be really easy and simple.

Anyway. It’s not difficult, Ted. And if I asked you what men were thinking…
Well, actually, since you had to google the phrase “what girls are really thinking”, you’d probably tell me that men were thinking of Teh Sexxx, you know, like they have no other function.

But I’ve actually thought about this (OMG! Thoughts!! From A Woman!!!) and so I can tell you that what women think about, is pretty much what men think about.

And that would be… Everything.

Yes, Ted, that’s right. Between us, we “girls” think about everything.
Some of us even think about God sometimes.

Seriously, if you ever need to type this kind of thing into a search engine again, I suggest that you start to wonder why men and women are held to be so different. And when you start to wonder, I suggest that you then go to this blog, where you may start to understand.

And don’t assume I’m thinking about how to make you like me.


On Being An Anglo…

I am, as I may have mentioned before, of extremely mixed heritage. Some of that heritage, through my maternal grandfather, is Anglo-Indian (a distinct group made up of the children of European fathers and Indian mothers, back when India was up for grabs, based on the cunning use of flags).

My mother and I went to see my grandfather today, as he is in a respite care home for a couple of weeks – he has Alzheimer’s and my grandmother, his primary carer, is going to Ireland to visit her family for a break. And, to liven up the day a little, Mum found some magazines specifically aimed at Anglo-Indians…. like you do!
Anyway, this evening, after we’d got back, she wandered in to my room, magazine in hand….

Mum: Congratulations! You’re an Anglo-Indian!
Me: Oh good. Why?
Mum: You’re the child of an Anglo-Indian.
Me: Cool. So my kids can be Anglos too then..
Mum: Yes. Now, do you want to marry a nice Anglo boy?
Me: No.
Mum: Because I could put an advert in this magazine.
Me: What?!
Mum: Here, listen to this one — “Alliance invited for 30-year old spinster, B.Sc, 5’3″, 75kgs. Interested Roman Catholic/ Protestant bachelors from India may reply with personal details/ family background” — [laughs] — see, you thought our family was weird – we’re really on the normal end of the scale…