Monthly Archives: March 2013

Exploring emotions: Anger

“Overreaction is my only reaction.”
–Eminem in the D12 song “S*** On You”

After a very unpleasant incident today involving a large and expensive wardrobe that I was helping my mother put together, and which will never now see completion in its current form (unless I can get a replacement panel from the company), it’s clear to me that beneath my mild-mannered, Clark Kentish exterior beats the hard of a raging douchebag.  I’ve been angry all my life, and I want it to stop, so here, in the second of my “emotional exploration” posts, I’ll bare the part of my soul that bashes computers, slams doors, and mutters under its breath when a cashier asks if it has a loyalty card.

amerdad_blackeye

It should be noted that drunk Stan didn’t hit Francine — she really *did* walk into a door!

Don’t worry, though: apart from (a) one shameful incident in my youth that I’ll go into later, and (b) boxing in Wii Sports (where my mother holds her own against me), I’ve never hit a female human being, and the only casualties of my futile fury have been males of my own age, electronic equipment, the air (being turned blue counts as a form of injury, right?), and my self-respect.

First of all, things that don’t make me angry include football and other “professional” sports, voting habits on TV talent shows, betrayals among groovy but vacuous youngsters in fly-on-the-wall documentaries… yeah, “real life” things don’t get my blood boiling unless they actually matter in some way, like injustice.  I spoke at unnecessary length before about my anger at the treatment of men in modern society, the way we’re all regarded as big apes and potential rapists just because some men in the past were, but it also angers me that when a woman is convicted of a crime against children, she’s vilified even more than anyone else, to the point of calls for the death penalty to be reinstated.  Which is even more tragic when the woman turns out to have been innocent all along, and only convicted because a bungling “expert witness” decided that two cot deaths can’t possibly be congenital.

There’s also the theft of our civil liberties and right to criticise the “great and good” by our national and regional governments (I took part in the “Barnet Spring” march last week — that’s me holding up the sign next to the coffin with the ballot box on top… it was really cold, all right?).  This includes the plans for enforced censorship and observation of our Internet habits, which I’ll go into in another post.  Suffice to say, for whatever is angrying up my blood this week, just go and read a copy of the latest Private Eye

However, these are all righteous anger-inducing things, that should upset any decent human being.  My problem is that I get angry — suddenly, and sometimes violently — over really stupid, trivial things.  Just because I don’t scream abuse at some fit young man a hundred feet away on a grassy pitch because he’s kicked a ball slightly wrongly (but better than I could), doesn’t mean I’m only angry at things which genuinely matter, as my old, battered Amstrad CPC 464 would attest if it still existed (it was taken away by the binmen in 1998, having been replaced with an equally-obsolete but working 6128).

I still remember the day in 1992 (probably 20th January) when I was playing my friend’s copy of Rick Dangerous 2 with an infinite lives cheat, and was stuck on one frustrating bit in the final level… the tape datacorder ended up with a big crack in it.  This was one of those old computers where the electronic gubbins were inside the keyboard unit, and yet the thing kept on working… but the keyboard plate itself certainly needed straightening from about 1993 onwards.  Indeed, by 1997 when I was at university (and was sexually frustrated on top of everything else), I needed bits of plastic glued into place to hold the keyboard plate up inside the casing…

290px-Amstrad_CPC464

Sometimes I hit it because it was malfunctioning after having been hit so much, thereby demonstrating the dangerous, self-sustaining cycle of anger

But at least I got over 10 years of use from that contraption.  In 1998, while I was in Michigan (not long after I blew my one chance for true love, so this was obviously in the downswing of my life), I was sweating in the unseasonable heat, getting more and more stressed trying to replace the internal power cable of my Psion Series 3a palmtop computer, which I’d owned for only three years.  This device (admittedly vastly inferior to even a cheap smartphone today) had a known design flaw in that the cable worked itself out if the thing was opened and closed too often and made it think the batteries were flat even if they were brand new, and I’d asked my folks to send me a replacement cable across the Atlantic.  My repairs didn’t work, and neither did a power adapter I’d bought at the mall (stupidly I’d bought a 3V one, thinking two AA batteries = 3V); in a moment of fury I pounded the LCD screen hard enough to make the black fluid leak out, perhaps not coincidentally looking rather like blood.

800px-Psion_Series_3a

It’s still in the loft somewhere, perhaps awaiting the day of reanimation… or a delivery to the dump

(I hope “good housemate” isn’t going to say this is typical of me, breaking a computer while trying to fix it; the occasions he’s thinking of are fitting a new hard drive in “female best friend’s” PC only to realise too late that the copy of WinXP I’d got for her didn’t have a key — so we had to get a proper, more expensive copy — and trying to make a Japanese female friend’s laptop’s DVD drive region-free, which fortunately only killed the drive itself, and meant I had to get her a new one!)

But worst of all, obviously, is violence against people (even if Dante had those who were “violent against others” less badly treated than “violent against self” and “violent against God, art and nature”).  I’m not usually the sort who thinks with his fists, and at school walked away from “arranged” fights, completely uncaring as to whether the thugs called me a wimp or whatever.  However, on other occasions I’ve struck out at people, and although mostly they’ve been boys of my own age who could respond in kind (and did), there was that one dark day in 1989…

It was late Spring or early Summer, I’m not sure (it might have been a week or so before a holiday, perhaps half-term?), but I’m almost certain it was a Thursday; it was late afternoon, and we were playing some game in PE, a weird hybrid of tennis and cricket.  I’d had a very stressful day already (even though this was the year I had a very good teacher, the people in my class still upset me over stupid things), and when I got “out”, I hurled my bat/racket to the ground in a fit of pique.  A girl, one of those who had previously pretended (somewhat hurtfully, I might add) to be in love with me, just happened to make a snarky comment about me being “moody”… I don’t remember what happened next, but the subsequent evidence indicated that I kicked her very hard in the shin before storming off.

I think the worst part wasn’t the berating of my classmates (who seemed more preoccupied with the belief that I’d “cried” about being in trouble than my stupid violence, and didn’t physically harm me in any way), but the fact that our teacher, a man I genuinely liked and respected, and who encouraged me to use my brain and my initiative, didn’t shout in anger at me (the way he shouted at another boy who used a word very similar to “bullocks” one day in class) or give me a detention, but just told me he was very disappointed and that he didn’t expect that kind of behaviour from me, before sending me away.

And just like today, with a wrecked £300 wardrobe and a house in disarray that’s left my mother feeling extremely down (though it’s just possible it can be salvaged — let’s see what Saturday brings), it’s a day I wish I could start again from the beginning.  Though such has been my self-berating and regret over the years, there are an awful lot of days that fulfil this criteria, particularly regarding the aforementioned “lost chance” with the girl in Michigan.  After all, the person I get most angry with is myself; I don’t self-harm, but sometimes I have just an inkling of why some people do…

The less you see of these, the more mellow I have hopefully become (or the more I’m bottling it up)

The trouble is that I let things get to me.  Oh, you’d noticed, from all the “grinds my gears” posts?  Well, it’s part of the reason for my depression, and if I can drag this particular vampire screaming into the sunlight, hopefully it’ll explode in a puff of smoke and the world will be that little bit safer, and I’ll be a step closer to being the person I want to be, rather than the person who writes this drivel.

What can I do to change?  Well, listening to Eminem helped considerably in the past (yes, he’s going to be the subject of a “cool things” post, possibly during the Easter weekend — I’ll have time, since I’m obviously not to be trusted doing any work around the house!), and Gwar seem to be taking on that role now, especially whenever the annoying woman starts up at work (thank $DEITY for noise-cancelling headphones, even if they don’t quite blot her out!).  I hope it won’t get to anger management levels, like His Royal Shadyness himself.  Just writing this has helped me bear my soul a little, and I hope you don’t all (all?) think less of me.  I’m still the same person you knew before… except hopefully I’m not, but am instead a better person.

Finally, just to lighten the mood a bit — or maybe make you really angry — here’s something that has made my blood boil since I came to London: a sequence from the 1964 Doctor Who serial, The Dalek Invasion of Earth, in which the First Doctor’s history teacher companion Barbara, together with resistance fighter Jenny and crippled resistance leader Dortmun, make a nightmare journey across the deserted capital, avoiding Daleks at every turn.  Even though it didn’t affect me when I lived in Worthing, somehow, since getting it on DVD a couple of years ago, it’s filled me with righteous anger to see the murderous cyborgs gliding arrogantly around what I now consider my home city…

(Go to 5m2s if it doesn’t go there automatically!)

I need a montage

rocky_steps

Me, in around four to six weeks’ time

Today, after a dismal day at work (even though the annoying woman wasn’t in, I still put my noise-cancelling headphones on and listened to Gwar’s Scumdogs of the Universe in order to drown out the world), I met with my personal torturer trainer for my first “proper” session.  I hadn’t been sure I wanted to go through with it, as my feet had been hurting all day and I had a pain in my left side that probably resulted from awkwardly shifting boxes on Monday and Tuesday (not to mention climbing on Monday night), but I went through with it anyway.

hartman_pullup

“Do you mean to tell me that you can’t do one single pull-up?!”

The good news is, I’m off to a good start: even though I couldn’t do a single pull-up, I’m surprisingly flexible, I’ve got the form right for everything, and my inner core is balanced and just in need of conditioning.  I survived an hour of solid torture, from warming up on the rowing machine (my arms quickly began to hurt, yet somehow I endured) to doing a variety of sit-ups that goes four different ways on each rep, to having my legs bent behind me in a weird kind of physiotherapy, to something called the sideways plank — or as I’ve decided to call it, the horizontal hello-sailor.  I’d been worried about the prospect of spending an hour on this, but in the event, the time just flew by… and in a few weeks — as few as four, if I really work hard — I should be fighting fit!

Other advice from my mentor includes eating eggs in the mornings, rather than going back to my short-lived habit of having toast and cereal, because both of them are mainly carbohydrates, whereas one of them plus an egg would mean the protein limits the rate of carbohydrate release, and it doesn’t all just become fat.  As a result, I’m going to try hard-boiling eggs at the start of the week and keeping them in the fridge, for my weekday breakfasts.  Eggs have been getting a bad press, and apparently they don’t have the “wrong” sort of fat in them after all.  I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before the Daily Fail links them to cancer (again?), but if I eat them in the meantime, it doesn’t count!

There’s a happy postscript to this: I got the bus to the Castle again, and even looked down the street towards Stratford Villas, where I experienced the depths of despair on “the other Twelve-Twelve“, and yet felt no sense of helpless horror; admittedly, that might be because it was still light outside, and I wasn’t standing around in the cold waiting for an estate agent (though it is still annoyingly cold at the moment).  In addition, I had beans on toast when I got home, and didn’t have an olfactory-induced flashback to that studio flat!

Perhaps I’m on the upwards curve of the bipolar wossname, but despite a lousy day at work, exercise has helped me feel a bit better, and I’ve overcome (at least temporarily) my tendency to brood on past foolishness.  And the lyrical poetry of Oderus Urungus obviously didn’t hurt (I was actually a little disappointed that no-one overheard my music and complained about it!), so I’m going to have to get more Gwar in future…

Oh, and the title of this post refers to… yes, you knew this was coming:

Making progress

Just to let you know I’m not dead, here’s another generic post.  Although the weather is dismal, it’s getting warmer (or less cold), so that’s something, and although I couldn’t go climbing today, thanks to the important bit of the Northern Line (i.e. the bit I live on) being closed and the bus to Arnos Grove being diverted away from my house by gas works (argh!), I still did exercises on Wii Fit Plus and will most likely go climbing tomorrow night after work; hopefully my newest friend can make it too, so I don’t need to wait until 7pm.

My friend continues to stay off the cigarettes and alcohol and rollerblading, which is good and, dare I say it, impressive.  I’ve managed to conquer two addictions recently: I no longer stay up late every night to watch episodes of Family Guy and American Dad! that I’ve seen countless times before (and hopefully any, ahem, “new” episodes will be shown at a civilised hour on Sunday evenings), and I no longer chew gum obsessively, a habit I picked up in 2000.  Conquering my addiction of chocolate will take some doing during Easter, but I still remember the Pancake Day that all I had for dinner was pancakes with golden syrup and chocolate spread, and I felt so sick the next day that I decided not to eat chocolate during the week for a while.  I hope that won’t be necessary again…

spare_tyre

No, it wasn’t quite this big. (Uh huh huh huh huh huh…)

I’m also continuing my attempts to switch from briefs to boxers… okay, you probably didn’t want to know that!  Bah, I bet you would if I were a 6’3″ hunk with tanned skin and rippling muscles, I’m sure — well, you’ll just have to wait, I’m working on it!  So far I’ve reached the stage where my BMI (yes, I know, no more scientific than phrenology, but still) is consistently below 25, and my spare tyre (or “tire” to Americans who can’t spell) is smaller than it’s been since I first returned home to live with my mother and grandmother in 2000, and was fed by the latter so well that I started gaining weight.

Ah, that’s two problems I’ve had since 2000 that I’m only now overcoming… the 21st Century has not been kind to me, but I’m hoping to turn it around this year, what with 13 being my lucky number and all…

One major change I’m hoping to make in 2013 is to move my room around and get rid of some furniture I don’t need any more.  I’ve even gotten hold of a freeware floor plan program that’s helping me figure out where everything can go.  I made a lot of compromises when I first moved here, and it’s only now that I’m tidying up (whatever that means when I use the term) and putting things in their proper places.  I guess that means I finally feel at home here, which is obviously why I don’t want to have to move on just yet!

This process will be aided by my intention to switch to e-books just as soon as the gummint realises what a con they are at the moment, with VAT being levied on them but not on “dead tree” books, which means you’re paying more for something that (a) doesn’t exist in a tangible form, and (b) can, judging from Amazon’s actions, be withdrawn from you on a whim, possibly without compensation!  Which is why I won’t touch the Kindle, of course — only e-books that can be downloaded as DRM-free files onto a device that doesn’t need to be permanently connected to 3G and phone home to the Amazon Overlords for me, thank you very much!

But what would I do with my vast collection of paperbacks, my many Pratchetts and Asimovs and Kings and Herberts and Hamiltons and Dicks (“ooh, Matron!”), once I’ve replaced them with ethereal copies (hopefully without all the spelling mistakes my paper copy of Dune has)?  Well, it’s not like I could sell ’em, so in all probability I’ll donate them to a local library, assuming Barnet council doesn’t decide to have all library books in the borough publically burned in order to show us plebs who’s boss.  I’m still helping out with the campaign, and hopefully next election we’ll get a party that hasn’t set itself up as latter-day philistines and cultural vandals, whose only interest in we, the public, is as a resource to be fleeced.

And finally, I’m still listening to music… well, obviously.  Yesterday I listened to my new copy of Scumdogs of the Universe by Gwar, and today I’ve listened to my work friend’s Blondie compilation; right now I’ve got my grandmother’s Leopold Stokowski CD in the drive, as he conducts the works of Tchaikovsky.  2013 is my year of change and renwal, after all.. and how many people do you know who have listened to “Death Pod”, “Heart of Glass” and “Dance of the Sugar-plum Fairy” in the same weekend?

Not so bad

Moon on a Stick

I couldn’t think of a better picture to put in this entry, so here’s the Moon on a Stick instead.  Honestly, you lot want the Moon on a Sti… ah, there we go!

Phew, things seem to be better today than they were yesterday; I’m not even eager to go looking for a new place to live any more, as the upstairs toilet was fixed tonight by the landlord’s man, and no accusations of sabotage or threats of eviction were made.  I also appear not to be coming down with a cold (I keep thinking I’ve got hypochondria, but my doctor said my test was clean… ha ha, no?), and indeed the only time I felt like puking tonight was when I took my soggy, defrosted and utterly inedible food out of the freezer.  The entire fridge-freezer unit packed up last week, but fortunately we have another fridge in the meantime, and the new unit is being delivered on Saturday (though if they don’t come, doubtless I’ll be accused of not answering the door, as was the case when the gas men turned off the supply in our street and then didn’t turn it on again because they knocked on our door after everyone had gone to work).

So, after spending Tuesday evening meeting a personal trainer (and enduring the journey home), and before that Monday evening at the pub with a group of revolutionaries people justifiably concerned about political corruption in Barnet, what am I doing tonight?  Chilling out and relaxing, that’s what (I refuse to acknowledge the existence of the word “chillax”).  Call it me-time, but I’ve not had the chance to play video games since Friday!  I even got my washing-up out of the way early, and now, at not even 11pm, I’ve still got time to either translate some Japanese or implement A* in my Dalek RTS game… decisions, decisions!  It needs to be something that doesn’t involve listening to the intricate plot of a video game, because I’m also playing an Erasure compilation CD my friend at work lent me (I would be listening to my grandmother’s Carmen CD, but for some reason it buzzes loudly in the drive!).

While I’m not so eager to go through the anguish of moving somewhere else just yet, I’d still like to help my friend find a new place, and so will go a-viewing with him after climbing on Saturday afternoon.  If nothing else, I want to get him living somewhere comfortable, so he doesn’t get stressed and thus risk starting smoking again!  Giving up addiction is something I’d like to cover in a future blog entry, so stay tuned.  Or, flick over to watch the news, realise you’ve missed the start, vow to watch it later on iPlayer, and then forget about it entirely… no, scratch that, stay right in front of your computer and keep pressing Refresh until this blog updates, I command it!

The horror returns?

Okay, like the subtitle says, this blog is all about catharsis for me, so I’m going to talk about the rotten day I’ve just had, and the horrible prospect it raises, in the hope that it will help me feel better and figure out what I’m going to do.

snowtrain

Ladies and gentlemen, the Northern Line currently has a good service

First of all, the weather.  Now, I’ve always hated the British weather, and I hate the cold, but today was one of the worst ever, especially since I had to wait on the platform for 20 minutes before a Northern Line train arrived that was going my way and wasn’t packed.  (Fired off a complaint to TfL, for all the good it’ll do…)  Protip: don’t wear loose trousers and boxers on a cold, breezy day; I can only imagine what men in kilts must feel… hopefully it’ll be better tomorrow, but today and yesterday were an entirely unwelcome return of the winter chill that we all thought we’d escaped.

Yeah, other countries have colder and longer winters, but they at least can deal with them, and don’t regard plebs like me being late to work for a few days (and potentially getting fired) as somehow better than spending money to maintain gritters, ploughs etc. for when they’re needed.  It didn’t snow and I wasn’t in trouble at work, so I’m not entirely unlucky, but for how much longer?

sisyphus

Roll on 5pm… ha ha, no? Oh, please yourselves!

I won’t complain about my job itself, though, because not only do I have steady work during a recession, it’s a triple-dip recession!  Plus, the annoying woman was working from home today (just about the only thing that made it all worthwhile).  And they’re pleased with the hard work I’m putting in, almost single-handedly sorting out the insane number of problems (e.g. duplicate numbers, missing volumes, found volumes…) with the archive of paper files.  Apparently Sisyphus applied for my job, but was turned down because they didn’t feel he would be dedicated enough…

I would have been all right at work, however, had I not received a certain text message.  I’ve started dreading the sound of my phone telling me it’s received a text (it’s the sound of Roger the Alien going “Myah!”, if you must know), because it’s usually the leaderene of my household sending a passive-aggressive complaint, either to me personally or to all of us housemates, and today she was actually threatening eviction because she suspected someone had deliberately broken the flush on the upstairs toilet because we thought it wasn’t “good enough”.  It had been playing up for a while and was very probably in need of a plumber’s touch, due to four of us using it regularly, but why let facts get in the way of bitching at us?  I just hope it made her feel better (I know she suffers from SAD, and is probably taking this weather even worse than me), and that she calmed down afterwards…

That one little incident set me in a lousy mood for the rest of the day… but as you know, I tend to internalise things (I haven’t even told my work colleagues how angry I am about the Bertolli advert yet), so my anxiety had nowhere to go but downwards, into the pit of my stomach.  I think I might actually have to move house again, horrible a thought though that may be, because I don’t really want to live in such a poisonous environment, and come home every night wondering whether I’m going to still have somewhere to live because some piece of equipment died of natural causes!

And so, thanks to a combination of cold and resentment, I ended up feeling ill during the day; it’d be about right that I caught a cold (in fact, the Japanese term kaze o hiku — “catch the wind” — seems more appropriate), since everyone else has been off sick recently, and I don’t think I’ve had anything that wasn’t self-inflicted since last November, so it’s high time I got sick.  I’ve probably only lasted this long due to my health streak…

Fortunately, after work I was able to go to the Castle to meet a personal trainer for a free assessment, and he reckoned that I’m doing well and just need a couple of adjustments to my diet (such as Omega-3 supplements… how come I’d never heard of that substance until a few years ago?), and to do some press-ups to stop my body becoming unbalanced due to the different muscles I use when climbing.  In fact, he was quite pleased that I’ve managed to get to bed earlier these days, because he had trouble not watching Family Guy every night, too!  And he recommended I do 20 minutes on the exercise bike for “cardio”, and thus I was able to watch a double episode of Beavis and Butt-head on my smartphone (which would be too long to watch during my morning commute).  I’ll write a “cool things” article about that show in due course, but suffice to say, this isn’t the first time it’s helped lift my spirits…

beavbuttpc

(“Uh huh huh huh — check it out, Beavis, he said it lifted his spirits.”
“Yeah, heh heh hm heh heh.  Boioioioioioioioinnnggg!”
“I bet you like that, don’t you?  Uh huh huh huh.”
“Yeah, heh heh… I mean, NO!  Shut up, bunghole!”)

Unfortunately the bus was diverted coming home (I have to get the Piccadilly Line to Arnos Grove and catch a rare bus across to Finchley if I don’t want to go down to King’s Cross and back up again), and I ended up in an unfamiliar part of town, which as you probably realise is the kind of thing that brings back those “12/1/2012” feelings again, not to mention reminding me of when I first moved here and had to get the bus down to Golders Green if, as often happened, our bit of the Northern Line was closed at the weekend.  And it was still cold, cold, COLD!

Still, I made it back in one piece, and am now not as glum as I was at work — thanks for listening and letting me get this off my chest!  If only I’d known the annoying woman wouldn’t be in today, and that I’d be waiting 20 minutes for a train first thing, I’d have gone to get a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts for my office (I don’t get them when she’s around, in case she comes to thank me personally), since we all need cheering up during this bitterly cold weather, and it would have been warmer in Tesco than on a damn platform.  That would thus have solved two of my nightmares today, which is presumably why we’re not allowed to predict the future — if we did, nothing would go wrong for us to complain about!

Don’t know how I could have avoided that obnoxious text message, though, but perhaps I need to roll with it a bit more (sorry, that was almost another Sisyphean reference) and stop brooding all the time.  However, now that I’m considering moving somewhere else, perhaps I could help out my newest friend by moving somewhere with him?  And stop shouting “bromance”, it’s not like that!  Ah, shut up, you… bungholes!

War of the sexes: no winners, only losers

feminazis

Godwin’s Law? Me? Never!

I hope you won’t think from my rant on Friday night that I think feminism in and of itself is dangerous, or that all feminists are as bad as the “Feminazis” (to use a term created by a thoroughly unpleasant right-wing talk radio host in American named Rush Limbaugh, though probably not in the same context he did) who say all men are vile and call for them to be oppressed or “bred out”.

Okay, you’re reading this blog, so you must be reasonably intelligent (or clinically insane — don’t worry, the men in white coats tell me they have a strait-jacket in your size), but still, I want to make it clear that I despise male chauvinists as well.  There are idiots who say things like “but you can’t buy that, you’re a girl!”, in many stories at Not Always Right and Not Always Working, and there are also powerful men like Italian dictator leader Silvio “Bunga-Bunga” Berlusconi, and Express and Star proprietor (and porn baron) Richard Desmond, who are gracious enough to also be homophobic, nationalistic, empire-building “I’m better than you, that’s what gives me the right” bullies.  I say “gracious” because it’s easier to spot truly worthless excuses for H. sapiens when they do so much to show themselves up, isn’t it?

(Aside: yes, I think the Daily Express is a worthless paper, and more so than the Sun — even when they’re not printing conspiracy theories about the death of Princess Diana, or scare stories about immigration, they’re out-and-out lying on their front page to sell copies.  I remember “BABY IS CLONED”, when it was a couple of cells, rather than the precursor to an army of evil human replicas, and “TSUNAMI RADIATION HITS BRITAIN”, which was actually a couple of particles from Fukushima in the upper atmosphere, rather than a glowing green cloud of radioactive death that will KILL US ALL!)

I haven’t always been such a fair-minded person who thinks males and females are equal, but fortunately (like most stupid teenagers) I grew out of that phase, and as an adult I try to say what I really mean, instead of what I hope will get people’s backs up.  Don’t, however, assume that I’ve been “well trained” in my life, or that “right-thinking” feminists have “cured” me of my barbarian ways (whether you’re a woman and think would be a good thing, or a man and think that would be “letting the side down”).  I stand for gender equality because I believe it’s the right thing to do, the same as my opposition to homophobia, racism and class warfare.

It seems ludicrous to me that any man would want to keep women out of jobs if they’ve got the skills to do the work, and even as a teenager I thought one jerky loudmouth in my class was stupid for vehemently claiming that “women belong in the kitchen” (my mother certainly doesn’t, as I’m sure she’d be the first to admit… sorry, Mumsy!).  Then again, he was just an obnoxious thug who enjoyed soccer violence and often acted as my own personal demon, so doubtless he was just trying to hold a controversial viewpoint and — as I said above — get the girls’ backs up.

(Me, hold a grudge against someone I haven’t seen since 1996?  Perish the thought!)

However, I’m not comfortable with positive discrimination and “all-wimmin shortlists” for the same reason: if a woman shouldn’t be denied a job just because of her gender, I think she also shouldn’t get it just because of her gender.  This especially applies in public sector jobs, because they actually matter (they affect everyone’s lives, after all, unlike private companies whose services you can take or leave), and genuinely need the best people in them, regardless of any philosophy.  Yes, I know I’m dreaming if I expect the top jobs to be decided by anything other than nepotism and back-scratching, but I’m talking about the jobs in the middle and at the bottom, where people actually, you know, do some work instead of voting for their own pay rises!

In addition, that kind of thing also builds resentment, and I for one would be upset at becoming “collateral damage” in the “war of the sexes”.  Hopefully it won’t happen for real, though, and there’s no sense getting upset about something like this if it’s only ever going to come into play where two candidates are of equal worth.  But I don’t think we can ever be truly equal while this artificial adjustment is in effect, so I hope it would only ever be a temporary measure to be used in special circumstances, and never become a way of life that men (or for that matter, white people) are told they just have to “put up with”.

Perhaps the issue of gender politics is like one of those doors that can open both ways: pull it one way and release it, and watch as it swings through the doorway and out the other side, perhaps all the way, then back through almost to you again, then back the other way again, and so on and so on until finally friction brings it to a halt (hopefully) in the middle.  What we need to do is fit a damper so it “closes” properly, and stop “pushing” it so it swings away from us — whoever we are: this goes equally for old-fashioned chauvinists who think women should be subservient, and ultra-feminists who think men are “all the same”.  If feminism aims not to push the door to the centre (which was its worthy original aim), but just to “push it as hard as possible the other way”, it will only create something like “masculinism” for disaffected men who want to “take back” some of the rights they feel they’ve lost compared to women.  As a result the madness will continue, and no-one will be happy.

I stand by my claim that there is genuine anti-men sexism out there, because there’s something that bugs me almost as much as the Bertolli advert: ever heard of TubeCrush (don’t worry, that’s a link to the Wikipedia article)?  It’s a website where women (and gay men) can upload pictures they took of men they fancied on the London Underground, but the men don’t have to consent, or even know about it.  Such a thing focusing on women would be roundly condemned, and I have doubts that even a unisex version would be tolerated, but this men-only version is referred to as “just a bit of fun” by its defenders.

(No, I’m not jealous because I haven’t been featured on it, or worse, featured and given a low mark — not that even I’d know if I had; I’d happily consider it (but not automatically consent) if a woman had the decency to ask, since I’m entirely in favour of women being confident enough to break the ice, perhaps due to my innate shyness.  Possibly not if a gay man asked, but hey, bring on my hero George Takei with his cameraphone and we’ll discuss it… oh myyy!)

It’s not enough to say that men have been ogling women like they’re sex objects for thousands of years: that continues to go on, and I’m sure plenty of women do it to men as well; only the most puritannical government would try to restrict our thoughts and desires.  It’s a totally different situation from that: this is taking people’s photographs and uploading them to the Internet, for everyone to see and judge, without their consent, and if it would be abhorrent to do this to women, it’s abhorrent to do it to men.  End of.

I’m gratified to know that there are women who object to this site as well as men (I certainly hope “female best friend” agrees, as she’s a very fair-minded person, as is my own mother).  Most feminists (I hope!) do want equality, not to be “more equal than men”, and just as I don’t want to suffer for the crimes of other blokes, so I don’t want all feminists, or indeed all women, to be derided for the actions of their worst examples, or to feel they have to make an extra effort to prove they’re not like them.  No-one should be compelled to “make up” for what someone else did of their own free will, or to prove they’re “not as bad” as them; we’re all individuals, and “sins of the father” really is old-fashioned and barbaric.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and we certainly have to criticise any men who still behave like chavinists (like Hunter Moore and his obscene “revenge porn” website) — as soon as one person is oppressed, none of us are truly free.  However, this goes equally for men being demeaned, and I mean it’s important for both genders: hypocrisy and “evening the score” doesn’t help the cause of feminism at all, it just ups the stakes and starts the door swinging again.  Everyone matters, and we need to put a stop to this stupid “war of the sexes” and oneupmanship (or oneupwomanship), and find ways to live together in true equality!

Now, don’t you wish I’d stick to going on about Kenny Everett and climbing in this blog…?  Well, tough tortillas!  (Think how I feel: entries like this take me hours to write, when I should be playing/writing vidya gamez!)

Never mind the politics, how’s Dave-ros?

Roger the Alien

Roger the Alien to show I’m chilled, not that I’m getting drunk or talking like Paul Lynde

Fine, as it happens: I’m losing weight, I still have a job, I’ve made progress on that Dalek RTS game (DalekCraft?  Total Extermination?  Command, Conquer & Destroy?  Dalek Supreme Commander?), and I’ve paid for my holiday to America in May.  I’m home to visit my folks this weekend, and this entails balancing a wireles keyboard on my lap, so please bear with me.

Things aren’t all good: there are still times I feel that nameless sense of horror and helplessness, especially on cold winter nights when I’m in an unfamilar part of London and I see houses that remind me of “the other twelve-twelve“.  This happened a couple of weeks ago when I foolishly caught the bus from work to the Castle (where I’ve started using the mini-gym, since I have membership to the establishment), instead of getting the Tube, but now that the evenings are getting lighter (even if the snow’s back next week!), I should be all right.  As should everyone else — we all hate this damned weather and shortage of daylight!

Actually, it occurred to me recently, when I was looking back through my 2012 Facebook posts (I know, serious business etc.), that my spirits are rather higher than they were last year.  It troubles me just how often I complained about my love life, or lack thereof, in 2012 until I finally had my epiphany and realised how it just doesn’t matter as long as I stay true to myself and look for the right person.  And it’s not just because 2012 saw me recovering from the shock of moving, because I feel better now than I did in 2011, 2010 and 2009!  Horrible as the process was, it seems moving away from Caledonian Road and its nightly traffic jams, groups of chavs harassing passers-by and endlessly-hovering police helicopters was just the tonic…

And thanks to a combination of climbing, with either my new friend, my mother, or “the Session” at the Castle, doing Wii Fit Plus exercises regularly (and taking the body test every night, except obviously nights like this when I’m away), and just generally eating less, has really helped trim my tum.  I’m hoping to achieve the suitably-trite “13 for 13” and get down to 13st. (that’s about 180 pounds, for our American readers) in time for my holiday — after all, if I’m going to take my shirt off on hot Colorado days, I’ll need to feel confident in my appearance… and yes, it’d be my choice to do so, not a sexual assault like in the Bertolli advert (I’m still really peed off about that, as you can probably tell).  I’ve even arranged to meet a personal trainer next week, for a free consultation (that sound is my mother cheering because I’ve finally taken her advice), so we’ll see how we go.

Work has been… trying in recent weeks.  There’s so much sorting out of old social services files to do, and I’m not the only one working on them, but I’ll be doing more soon because my current job is only “acting up” to help cover maternity leave, and at the end of this financial year I’ll be going back down two grades, losing most of the interesting Excel spreadsheets I get to do, and spending more time getting eczema from dusty old paperwork.  The worst part is the scale of the job, and the fact that every time I make progress on one aspect, another issue arises that I have to sort out!  It’s not so bad if I can work in an archive room, but on Friday I had to play “Iron Man” twice through my noise-cancelling headphones in order to drown out the annoying woman (she doesn’t get a link to a previous blog entry any more), who was in full flow.  But I have a job during a recession, and I’m working for a worthy cause instead of a tobacco company, so I can’t complain… well, I can grumble and grouse, but I can’t complain officially!

As for the Dalek game, well, despite racking my brains I couldn’t come up with a suitable way to navigate Daleks (or other entities — Thals, Mechanoids, Quarks etc.) around the map, and so resorted to Googling it; I thought that might count as “cheating”, but no, I still had to rack my brains to figure out how to implement the A* system, even after seeing code for it!  I’ve learned more about the STL, especially vectors, than I did in last year’s C++ class: perhaps due to taking it at my own pace, instead of trying to stay awake on a Tuesday evening after work, or perhaps because the best way to learn is to do.  When it finally worked (once I figured out that priority_list is useless), I played the air guitar in the manner of Beavis and Butt-head (which I also did last Sunday when climbing with my friend).

beavbutt

Duuun DUUUN duuun dududun, dudududuDUUUN duuun dududun!

So, if things continue like this, soon I’ll be fit, I’ll have survived another winter, I’ll be going to America, and my Daleks shall sweep across Skaro, exterminate all opposition, and take their rightful place as the suuuupreeeeme beeeeiiiinnngggs!  (Well, what did you expect me to say — I am Dave-ros, after all!)