Archive for the Miscellaneous Category

I Got To Wondering

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , on June 15, 2011 by AF

That’s wondering, as distinct from wandering, which I also have a tendency to do, but then at my advanced age, what do you expect?

Anywaa-aay… I got to thinking about all the various conventions and attitudes by which we live – they are certainly many and varied around the world, but how do they develop? What first made people in parts of Asia start to believe that showing the soles of your feet was somehow “rude”? Or, come to that, why throwing a shoe (or was it shoes?) at the then President G. W. Bush of the USA was so insulting (apart from the possibility of hitting him on the head and knocking some sense into it). That is something that occurs all over the place, but it is much more an Arab (and perhaps Asian) thing than any other since it is apparently they who mostly tend to consider shoes as “dirty” or “unclean”.

I suppose, though, that the strangest and most wildly varying attitudes around the world are those that we have towards nudity and sex (you knew I’d get around to my favourite subject sooner or later, didn’t you?)…

In the so-called developed world, the UK is a bit on the puritanical side at times, though we seem fascinated by the sex lives of others, most notably celebrities. Nudity also seems to worry us too, but again not that of others – especially when it comes to pictures of pretty young women in newspapers like the Sun. The Germans will apparently, as someone once said to me, strip off anywhere and in front of anyone, though I can’t say that fills me with a huge amount of anticipation, with the notable exception of Heidi Klum and a few like her. The French? Who knows what the French really think about anything? The Latin countries, like Spain and Italy in particular seem to me to have a very healthy attitude to nudity and sex, neither of which usually phase them in any way and they are both usually regarded as part of life’s rich pattern – a nice and enjoyable part – and that sounds about right to me.

Arab countries and others who follow the Moslem faith are generally way out of date (to my way of thinking), but then so are most of their more rigid attitudes to women. Their often total ban on even a husband and wife showing affection towards each other in public seems to me to be simply archaic and, in truth, outright stupid. Again, though, that’s just my opinion and I confess that there’s not much that I properly understand about Islam – although what I do know does nothing to encourage me to study it further. Yet the fact is that many, if not all, of our ingrained attitudes that are not the result of simple superstition and myth probably have their root somewhere in one organised religion or another – and each to his own on that one! What people believe about their preferred deity is personal and none of my business… except…

Well… where do American attitudes to nudity and sex come from? It seems to me (quite possibly wrongly) that their approach to those subjects is chock full of contradictions. Their (laudable in my opinion) position on free speech and freedom of expression allows that almost anything goes and yet their underlying mind-set appears to be one that exhibits cultural insecurity in the extreme. There are (I understand) strict and precise rules about the amount of “butt crack” that can be shown along with gasps of shock-horror if a woman should go topless on a beach (I realise that some of these things may vary from state to state) and yet just about anything is seemingly for sale in nightclubs and strip joints, lap dancing clubs and so on. I mean, where does this dichotomy come from?

Sorry, but I really don’t get it! If you believe in a benign and loving deity, then surely you have to believe that sex was given to humanity for us all to enjoy, or it makes a total nonsense of your own beliefs. If you don’t believe, then what the heck’s your problem with what has clearly driven our very creation and further growth into the modern human race?

Anyone want to explain? 😉

So, What About Equality?

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 15, 2011 by AF

I know I’ve said something along these lines before, but this is one of my core beliefs, so I won’t apologise if I’m repeating myself somewhat here.

As long as I can remember (and that’s a real long time), I’ve wished most of the time that I had been born a woman. I don’t mean in a sexual sense because I’m very hetero, although I can tell you for sure I’d have been a millionaire by the time I was nineteen if I’d had a female body – but in this instance, I mean in terms of gender and all that goes with it.

There are of course, many types of women: nice ones, nasty ones, tall ones, short ones, fat ones, thin ones, in between and gorgeous ones who are very sexy that I’d like to get to know very, very… sorry (I told you – I’m entirely hetero), but I’m getting off the track again, aren’t I? However, the point is that, just as with men, the types you come across are as varied as the whole human race and probably most other species too, but the thing that makes women different (apart from the obvious physical bits), is their apparently natural ability and desire to socialise and above all to help one another.

Men just don’t do that – not like women do, at least. Take a straightforward example – BlogHer. It’s huge and growing all the time. I’m sure there’s some bitchiness and selfishness (of course there is – anything else would be unnatural), but the fact is that it works – and works simply because women are… well, women! Don’t believe me? Ok-aay… did you hear about BlogHim? No, nor me! A lot of women together is an awesome thing – damn scary, but still awesome! If you have a moment to spare, just take a peek at this blogger’s profile, here (and do watch the video – if it loads, because it’s a Blogspot site and Vista doesn’t seem to like it, but it’s worth the wait if you can manage it). Of course, men do conferences and so on, but I just can’t imagine this as an all male event anywhere.

So, I guess my question is: Why in heaven’s name would you girls want to be equal to men – you already have it all? Ours is a miserable existence by comparison. Sure, I understand there are issues over pay and stuff in some (many?) cases, but for God’s sake! You’re bloody wonderful! Why would you ever want to change that and just become dull and boring like the rest of us, or suffer the pressures that men invariably seem to place on themselves?


Is It Just Me?

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , on April 23, 2011 by AF

I’ve wondered at many things over the years (too many years that is), but I was today reminded of something that is a recurring mystery to me. It started when Twitter (well, rather it was one of the interesting people I follow on Twitter) pointed me to an excellent article by a clever and witty woman who, me not being American, I don’t know.

Anyway, it was a good article highlighting the ridiculousness of discrimination – most particularly sex discrimination, but also on the basis of race, etc. It’s well worth reading, so why not take a good long peek here. I really enjoyed reading it and I thought it was funny, insightful and probably very accurate as well as important – and then, to me, at the very end comes this quote that brought my confusion flooding back… “As American social critic Elizabeth Janeway responded, “We haven’t come a long way; we’ve come a short way. If we hadn’t come a short way no one would be calling us ‘baby.'”

WTF is that about? Maybe it’s me (there’d be nothing new in that), but I’ve never understood why women would mind that – it’s like me getting all pissed off because some woman calls me “Honey,” or “Mister,” or even “Hey you.” Why would I care? It’s a whole lot better than “Sir” or (in the case of women) “Madam”, which authority endlessly seems to use in order to be offensive because it’s overly polite and yet we can’t prove that and so argue with it.

I mean – what is their problem? To me (as in this case) I read an excellent article that is very well written and, more importantly, tells it like it is and then the thing I’m left with is the feeling that women (in this case) can be so damned pompous. I know the disappointment is my fault because I have this rosy view of women and their fight for equality as worthy and in fact vital for all of us – men too – but still…

Perhaps someone can enlighten me, because I just don’t see this at all. Is it perhaps that there is some hidden difference between the UK and the US of which I’m not aware? I know we’re traditionally “divided by a common language” and maybe there is hidden meaning in this, but in my view, this is petty and just plain silly. Worse, it’s counterproductive.

Gonnakillhim on Twitter has explained that it may be that it somehow puts the user in a superior position over the receiver and I genuinely thank her for that explanation. I guess that’s probably right, but in my opinion that’s only in the mind of the person hearing it. If it is true (and it may well be, at least in America), then it raises another question for me – how the heck did people manage to get themselves into such a stupid situation? I mean, to me, women are great, definitely equal and the average women (whether she likes it or not) is better at some things than the average man and vice versa – what the hell’s wrong with that?

Why would it be some kind of a put down if I called a woman I was in conversation with “Honey,” or “Baby,” (which to me is just being friendly) instead of “Madam”, which I would only personally say if I really meant “…and f*ck you!” but wanted to avoid actually using the words.

Hey ho – sigh – rant over. But I would like to really understand – seriously!

You Need An Ego

Posted in Miscellaneous, Writing and Things Literary with tags , , , , , , , on April 15, 2011 by AF

It’s a fact that many quite good writers find it very hard to find a publisher for their work. What they create may be at the very least as good as many of the less famous novelists, scriptwriters and so on, but it’s easy to become famous, if you’re already famous, or infamous… if you see what I mean.

Creative people are often not at all good at selling – particularly themselves. Add to that, an author’s latest work is a sort of “Frankenstein’s monster” that they conceived and bore all on their own in a quite “unnatural” manner and they (probably subconsciously and quite naturally) want to protect it from the critical eyes of the world. Additionally, we also often tend to hide ourselves behind our characters and plots. But the truth is that we need to put ourselves and our work “out there” in order to have any chance of success. It’s a bit like going into a relationship – if we want it to succeed and last, we have to be prepared to be vulnerable.

However, I’m not just waffling as usual and there is a point to this post…

A while back, I wrote an item on women’s bios. If you’re interested (and I think if you’re a woman, you should be) take a look at it here

I’ve noticed that many women, in particular, who are serious about writing do seem to have a very different type of bio compared with those who are solely bloggers for the sake of it – not that I’m criticising that in any way – I’m just pointing out a difference. These women have much more of a “male” style of bio. They are (for example) a writer, scriptwriter, novelist, blogger, wife and mother, etc. So, there is a clear difference in the way in which they perceive themselves – they are first and foremost (to themselves) whatever their particular artistic talent is and someone else’s wife, or mother second.

I’m not suggesting for one moment that that makes them any less of a wife or mother, or that they don’t work extremely hard at their relationships, but their perception of “self” is (probably necessarily) different from other people and that makes them altogether more self possessed than others and, to my mind, they’re perhaps more liberated and that’s good, isn’t it?

In short, such women have an ego and they are prepared to let is be on show. Of course, I dare say they have their hang-ups just like the rest of us, but they just seem more able to rise above them.

It seems that, if you really want to write, you need an EGO (of some sort at least)…


So You Want Him To Be Different

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 10, 2011 by AF

I do find the apparent attitudes of many on both sides of the sexual divide quite disturbing at times. Men and women both always seem to be whining about the other. What the heck do you people expect? People are the way they are – if you don’t like it, pick another who’s more like what you want…

It appears to me that there is, these days, often a male aggressiveness towards women that is more common than it used to be. There have, of course, always been men from all walks of life who have behaved brutishly to women and, whilst I personally abhor that, I’ve always regarded it as frequently resulting from an underlying inadequacy in the men themselves – an inferiority complex that they cover-up with violence. There are too, the control freaks, who exhibit a similar belligerence, but mostly on a psychological level. Yet that too, I believe, has its roots in a feeling of inadequacy within them. On top of that, of course, some men are just thugs!

Equally, though, many women want men to be what they call “more sensitive”, or more caring – more considerate. On the face of it, there’s nothing wrong with that, although women too, in both the physical and psychological sense have generally become much more antagonistic themselves and tend to be anything but the well behaved and even demure types they once were. That too is fine, but many take that to extremes and are often strident and exhibit personality traits that would be unpleasant in a man, but are (to me) downright ugly in a woman. Don’t get me wrong here, I love confident, strong and self sufficient women. I adore that they feel empowered and able to be themselves, but there’s empowered and there’s needlessly downright spiteful – the two are not the same and spitefulness too, to me, usually comes from underlying feelings of one’s own inadequacy.

However, all that said and in my opinion, it’s a feature of modern life that people – men and women – seem to have forgotten how to behave decently. I’m not using the word in its sexual sense – I’m all in favour of women in particular being as indecent as they like – please! But I do mean having consideration for another’s feelings and wellbeing. In other words (although I’m not religious) I think that “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”, as we are instructed in the Bible, is a very good maxim by which to live. I know I’m probably paraphrasing, but then, as I said, I’m not religious.

The fact is that men and women do usually have entirely different priorities and concerns in their lives. Women don’t seem to me (as a generalisation) to want to believe that, but it is largely just a fact of evolution and I can’t see a damned thing wrong with it! For instance: some women will complain, “He doesn’t do his share of the housework.” That’s probably true of those who are not “new men” (thank heavens there are still some that aren’t), but then who is it decides what constitutes “the housework” that needs to be done? Right! Usually the “her” who’s bitching. If you go into an average single guy’s apartment, it’ll often likely be a mess. He just doesn’t “see” what most women will see, so what the complainant in this example is really saying is, “He doesn’t take his share of what I want done!” and that is something very different.

So, girls… we are different (thank heavens once again) and I have no problem with you wanting things to be your way, that’s your right and good for you – but, if that’s the case and your partner doesn’t feel the same, do it yourself! Stop complaining just because the whole world doesn’t see things your way, or else you’ll have to wait until your guy gets around to it (if ever), or go and find another male who’s a bit more timid.

Of course, if you’re wise, instead of bitching, you’ll deal: you want a sparkling house and help with that (or whatever else it is that’s all important to you and your guy doesn’t care much about) – fine, but he wants what he sees as a hot piece of ass – and that’s about it, usually! What’re you gonna do about that, honey?

Now… who’s going to be first in line to tell me how that’s all rubbish?


There Is An Incongruity In Our Universe

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , on March 26, 2011 by AF

I may temporarily lose all my sex mad friends and (even more sadly) some of my female readers at this point, although those two groups may be one and the same, if some of our discussions are anything to go by…

Anyway, wearing my Sci-Fi hat, there is a problem (a real problem) with current scientific theories about our universe…

The cohesive force that holds the planets, the star systems, the galaxies and indeed the whole universe and everything in it together – even you and me – is gravity. It affects everything. Yet, if the so-called “big bang” theory is correct (and it seems that it probably is) then there appears to be an anomaly. If gravity is pulling the universe back, then why do the galaxies look to be speeding up in their flight from the centre, the original big bang that created the whole of our universe billions of years ago?

The answer seems to be one of two. Either there is another, even greater and as yet undiscovered force than gravity, that is pushing the universe apart, away from the centre, or there is a force (such as gravity itself) that is pulling on the stars and galaxies from outside our universe and pulls them even harder the farther they get from the centre.

There is one other question that is confusing (to me at least). If the universe came into being from nothing simply because that’s what can happen – an energy singularity or point of energy can appear and explode into a whole universe (or something along those lines) at any point and time in the nothingness of infinity, then why are there no new universes appearing within the boundaries of our current universe? Is it that the existence of the universe itself, precludes the formation of another in the same space? If so, there may be other universes all around ours (just as there are stars all around the centre of our galaxy and galaxies all around the centre of our expanding universe.

If that’s so, then is the gravitational pull of all those other universes the force that is speeding up the expansion of our universe?

Well, I at least think that’s an interesting question, but then I’m an anorak when it comes to scientific “what ifs”.

I just thought I’d mention this in case someone wants to take the trouble to shoot the theory down in flames (I do love a good argument debate)…


And Now For Something Completely Different

Posted in Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , on March 13, 2011 by AF

If you’re anywhere near as ancient as I am, you might recall the beginnings of mini computers, closely followed by PCs (Personal Computers to those of you not at all familiar with geek terminology). How things have changed…

I’m told that, these days, the average smart phone has more “on board” computing power than each of the rapidly retiring Space Shuttles (in fact probably all the Shuttles put together) and so it is with data storage too…

I can remember my first “super fast” PC – it had 640K (Kilobytes) of memory (RAM) and for the first time had a built in hard disk which provided, if my personal memory serves, a few Megabytes of storage space. Prior to that it was all down to the use of floppy disks at 240K each. Then, eventually and amazingly, came the hard disk with a Gigabyte or two – and then more and recently a whole goddamned TERABYTE!

Yet that’s old hat already, since the latest term to enter the data storage arena is Petabyte. There aren’t any individual hard disks of that capacity available thus far (to my knowledge), but I’m sure it won’t be long…

In case I’ve lost you already (I’m confusing myself, so there’s no reason for you to be coy about the fact, if I have) – 1 PB (Petabyte) = 1000 Terabytes = 1000,000 Gigabytes = 1000,000,000 Megabytes = 1000,000,000,000 Kilobytes = 1000,000,000,000,000 Bytes. You see? You really wanted to know that, didn’t you? Yup! Thought so!

However, there is a point to all this gobbledegook, as I’m sure you had every faith there would be. You didn’t? Shame on you! Oh, well – never mind. Sigh.

Anyway, as I was saying, my point is that what was once a huge restriction and had to be considered at every turn, has simply become irrelevant. Storage space is just not something the average PC user has to consider any more – probably even the average smart phone user. These days we can download films, software, pictures, whatever we like and we don’t have to worry that we are using up valuable storage space – it is simply no longer an issue for most of us…

Except, that is, perhaps in one respect: have we reached the point where most information retrieval and storage devices are just so darned big that the human brain can no longer cope with all that stuff? In fact, has our whole planet got just about all the humankind and its data that it can handle? Perhaps we need to think of a new way of storing ourselves – maybe we should all be turned into avatars like the people were in the Matrix series of films – then we could all be saved on a few Ziggabyte hard disks somewhere.

Hey! That’s not such a daft idea! I could be thirty something forever, or any other age that appealed to whatever woman I was chasing (electronically of course) at the time!