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August 2008
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October 2008

Whilst this is all going on

It occurs to me to say: just how exciting is it right now?

The Repubican Party is in meltdown, the American economy is falling apart... it's absolutely fascinating. Given that the long term consequences of this total disaster area haven't become clear as yet, I'm giddy with living in the moment.

Those on the ground must already be planning their books.

I have to say, those in the middle east who preach about the Great Satan must be crowing.

McCain: could this be the worst 24hrs of the campaign so far?

I don't usually do this kind of thing but I want to register what's happened overnight in the States because one would hope it's a serious turning point. So, as if you didn't know, McCain tries to manipulate the economic trauma in to gaining him political points, and at the same time hopefully remove himself from the duty of having to perform against a much younger, much smarter man on TV (not to mention the two VP's). As part of the strategy, he cancels Letterman, because he's you know... rushing, winging his way to Washington and hasn't got the time for TV appearances, because he is of course, the saviour of America (and so forth).

So this is what David Letterman made of it. Keep watching until the end. The last section is absolutely extraordinary. Remember that Letterman's on CBS.

Oh yes...

Just one other thought. If in future I hear a single right wing free markets yada yada American financial pundit or politician advocate leglislation free banking, and how wonderful the markets are, and how they can self govern and so on and so forth, I shall think of this day, and how the only fucking way to run a capitalist economy is through Keynsian bloody intervention and I will tell them to shut the fuck up, and grow a slightly bigger heart.

Because it doesn't work. The pustulent canker at the heart of capitalism is, surprise surprise: Greed. It isn't money that makes the world go around, it's borrowed, non-existent money.

American presidential election musings

Well, I had a this thought I wanted to write about, and now McCain seems to have gone a bit doolally in the face of this appalling, typically Bush administrative (ie: lying, evil... that sort of thing) $700 billion dollar bailout. It's all quite astonishing really. Anyway, for a short moment, let's ignore the current "History in the making" type of moment and go back to... er... yesterday, or maybe last week.

Well, all it was was watching Jon Stewart on't tele and being struck once again by Obama's gravitas. His ability to speak calmly and authoritatively comes from a good brain and quickfire intelligence and I thought, you know, I think this is actually the trouble here. Palin is, in television satire terms, a bloody Godsend. She's astonishingly gauche, her background is peppered with dodginess and bizarre characters. Her faux-folksiness is a gift. Look! Look how we smart "Liberal" TV folk, who appeal to people in mass cities with good universities, can point our smart fingers at that amazing joke of a candidate! How utterly hilarious she is!

If the economy wasn't in this astonishing mess, I'd say that they might as well be shouting in to megaphones pointing at mirrors. It worries me that the sophisticated left shoots itself in the foot purely by being sophisticated. The US is a huge democracy, held together by backroom players, with foreground ringmasters torn in terms of who they have to appeal to most. Their core constituency, which you would hope would rise, with the ebb and flow of the political tide... or the "other lot" or, that huge mass of people in the middle. Maybe Hilary got it completely right when she started on that bizarre "Hard working American people" trip. Maybe, just seen on TV having a beer with a bunch of hard working white American men was enough to get the message to that vast swathe of the politically disinterested. But, the Sophisticated left obviously stood up in horror and yelled to itself "What is she *doing*! OMFG!". And they were right to, of course. But being right doesn't mean winning. Just ask Al Gore.

So I was watching Mr Stewart doing his puckish, hilarious and biting thing, and thinking, not only are you talking to the homeside here, which is all very cosy, and hey let's take the piss out of Palin because it's frankly like shooting a dodo, it's so easy... but that 'supposed' (I'm trying to be nice here) intellectual superiority being paraded so blatantly, and unwillingness to truck fake open-ness, fake 'down home' spirit, that might backfire a little.

If the economy hadn't faltered so astonishingly in the last week, I was really getting worried. But now, there's this just gobsmacking nonsense going on. McCain is clearly nervous as fuck about facing someone highly intelligent across a pedestal. Why is that? More and more, a slightly panicky restrictiveness coming out of his camp. Plus, this may be me, or being fair, maybe he's just knackered from campaigning but jaysus, how haggard?

I'll say this again to the mysterious Gods of Thing: just make sure Obama doesn't get shot. *After* he makes it to the White House too. I don't say that flippantly. If there's a serious chance of him getting in, the number of disgruntled fuckwits who will think it's their mission from the Lord to go and smite down the evil Muslim spy from Indonesia who is trying to get his hand on that red button... eh... I'm thinking they'll rise, slightly.

Meanwhile, bloody hell! The news, the news!


What makes cycling to work good is that it does change every day. It demands your full concentration too, to the extent that you find yourself jolting back to what you should actually be thinking about, as opposed to the daily wiffle thoughts percolating through your brain, particularly when a car suddenly decides to go left, or as this morning, as you are riding blankly along, you find yourself concentrating on the road surface instead of the slightly under-signalled pedestrian crossing up ahead, where a mother and 3 small children are crossing. Whoops.

I'm still as before pushing myself as much as I can, not just to feel the burn in my legs but to up my heart rate. So I find myself not exactly racing boy racers, but at the very least pushing myself to keep up with them. Some of them. Good God some cyclists are stupid. Why, for example, would you put yourself in danger, trundling slowly across a red light, only to continue trundling and therefore get in everyone's way when they want to move off quickly?  You're making a point about how Rad you are and your special need to go first, only to ... what!? What purpose are you serving? That's my no.1 gripe, really. Dumb cyclists who should know better, putting themselves in danger. I say this purely selfishly given that I have no desire to see some nitwit's final moments. There's a particular impatience I see in cyclists travelling over the newish cycle crossings at Hyde Park corner. Not content to wait with all the other plebs, our risk taking "Oooh, we're so coool with our streamlined bikes and racing determination because I'm really an athlete, can you not see?" types start drifting in to the road well before the lights have gone green - or more to the point, red, in terms of the other traffic. Today I found myself exclaiming out loud watching 3 or 4 cyclists start wandering on to Hyde Park Corner while I could see that there were cars coming toward them, who had just got pasat the lights.

There's some kind of alpha dog bullshit going on there isn't there. Not for me the petty rules that hold everyone else in their place! for me, the open road, the thrill of the chase, the "Oh, my leg appears to be caught in your fender, gweeaaarrghhhhsplurt".

James' talking

The subject of the post sums up the way James talks. Noun verb. Verb noun. Hug Mummy. Kiss Snigs (or "Giz" as he calls her - his very favouritest cuddly toy in the whole word). His short setences are endearing, and efficient enouh to convey exactly what he means with precision and brevity.
Not like it.
Bump the head!
Mummy happy.
What they also reveal is a gentle, sweet little soul. Today, I was pretending to cry for some reason about a now unknown silly nonsense. He came trotting in to the bedroom and said, "Sorry Mummy. Hug Mummy; kiss Mummy", whilst holding me around my neck with his soft little boy arms.

My heart had already melted, in its entirety.

His words are chosen very carefully, as if he has thought about everything, deeply. There is usually a pause between words, too. Not a long one, but just enough to help him emphasise the importance of each.

He's a boy of quite astonishing charm and delight. I have no doubt that if he can maintain his empathy, he'll be quite a hit with the ladaies when he's older. Would I prefer he was talking more eruditely by now? Obviously. Am I worried? Not in the slightest.

Let the shrinking continue

My body shape has undergone a rapid change. My Googledocs spreadsheet tells me I've cycled 333 miles since 28th July, which frankly, isn't that much, but since I seem to be incapable of cruising without pushing myself to the point where I'm feeling a real sense of pull in my legs, I think this may have produced what I perceive to be a fairly drastic short term change.

My leg shape is far more defined, and that long, thick top muscle you get when cycling is really beginning to stand out. Underneath the thigh there's a big knot of muscle which is rapidly reducing the layer of lard on top. In fact, the lard seems to be, tide like, shrinking back up the leg, and realistically cannot now be seen around the knee.

My poor bloated abdomen has basically removed the bloating completely from the top, where the diaphragm is, and what fat there is is basically centred around the hips/arse/bellybutton area in a classic pear shape.

I'm suffering the consequences though. My skin has turned back in to the post-birth "crepe" variety, where the destroyed bits of collagen sort of collapse in on themselves a bit, and the whole skin region becomes (oh, this sounds so revolting) all sort of 'baggy'. Not much though - still a long ways to go - lots of lard (or 'batteries') left to go - but now, as well, a distinct flop on the front which is in some ways REVOLTING to think about.

Please, body, ignore the destroyed collagen and all that gubbins, and shrink down slowly as my actual lard-free body is revealed gently. Please let me not have a bloody great fold of skin on the front of my belly, which will either require surgery, or a strong stomach to simply accept, for the rest of my hopefully slightly less lardy days.

btw, only my Mother and my husband have complimented me thus far but, I say, gritting my teeth, that's "OK". As long as I simply continue with the biking, my end goal is to be, by this time next year, a comfortable size 14, which is my natural size. Even when I was a runner, and thus the fittest person in the whole wide world, I had to starve myself for a couple of weeks before I could get in to a decent size 12 dress. I *seeeeeeeeem* to be close to settling back in to size 18, although of course, whilst i'm happily in some size 18 clothes, I can't even zip up some others. this suggests to me that the more honest size 18 clothes give it away. I need to keep going. If I was definitely able to just slip in to anything size 18 though, guess what - size 16 as an interim goal is NOT THAT DIFFICULT - Woohoo! So well worth keeping up the huffnpuff cycling.

I'm not dieting, obviously. Well - I tell a lie. I've made one change simply because I now can, whereas I've never been able to before. Sainsburys now sells skimmed Goats Milk. I'm eating approx 1 muffin a week at work, and still doing approx 1 bar of dark chocolate in a big blurt over a couple of days once a fortnight. You know, I really do feel that conceptualising yourself in to a guilty space and feeling that the things you enjoy are basically wrong is a stupid nonsense. Particularly if you're a vegetarian in the first place. Subtle and gentle modification at best.

But I absolutely refuse to become all weight conscious. Probably because I think if I weighed myself I'd keel over in shock... well, maybe. I dislike weight as a measure *enormously*. I think it's a complete load of bollocks which cannot be used as a measure of how fit you are, unless the visual evidence of fat-arseness is so apparent that, you know. You're having difficulty getting winched out of bed in the morning. Muscle tone and healthy diet is what it's all about, dudes. Exercise is king!

Smug self satisfaction is also king this afternoon. Ha - wait till I hit size 14. then I really will be lecturing the world on my amazing modern life survival skills.

No, no new Hitchikers' books please

My friend Dan brought to the attention of his friends that the esteemed older children's author Eoin Colfer has been commissioned to write another 'last' Hitchhikers book, "And Another thing".

My instinctive reaction to this was slight revulsion, but I'm basically angry and I'll happily admit, on a personal level slightly protective. I think if I were to word it in terms of Douglas Adams having a 'legacy' that would sit slightly awkwardly with the kind of energetic, embracing sort of chap that he was. To put it plainly, he was a unique individual, and his books and ideas when they were brilliant, were literally influential, in helping to develop the life-path of more than several people that I love dearly. I love them dearly because they reflect my own embrace of the playful, the joyous, the mental and the daft in life, as well as in Douglas Adam's books. Oh, and they love science and computers too. Like Douglas.

Frankly, we are biased. And we loved Douglas. However, this case fits squarely within the trend within writing and film in particular to bring the dead or their creative work back to life. From the ridiculous ("Virginia Andrews") to the deeply suspicious (classic actors morphed back to life in order to eg: be in a coke commercial).

Douglas Adams is not here to say what he thinks of the idea. I have a feeling he'd be a bit bemused and think it a little crass. I'm sorry to say that given that his family, who knew him best, have ok'd the idea, but. He had a body of work. It is now finished. Anyone trying to write his characters will be pastiching them at best, in my opinion. Spin offs, towels, HHG filofax cases, Zaphod action figures: whatever. They do not touch or diminish the impact of the original work. trying to further the stories? Why? What possible reason is there other than money?

Anyway. A website has been created which I wholly endorse. I say website. It's a wee note on a URL: Please do mail the email address and register your thoughts, as well as passing the URL on to other friends. Hopefully something might come of it, even if it's just come lazy jounalists looking for a story who pick it up.

I'm especially feeling this given Geoffrey Perkins' death a couple of weeks ago. I didn't organise going to the funeral or anything because I felt a bit awkward, having only known him for a short time ten years back but he was such a lovely chap, and his positive influence helped to make the radio series the joy that it was. And after all, it was always originally a radio series. So now two lovely people who could channel joy and intelligent fun on a grand scale have gone.

Ultimately: Douglas Adams was not a franchise. He was just a bloke. And I'll reread, and reread and reread his books. And I hope my children will too. And he died. And he didn't write any more. End of that particular story.

Nora's first day at school today

Not as freaky deaky for her as it could be given that the classroom she is in is approximately 10 feet from the nursery classroom she was in last term. She insisted she wore the uniform at nursery too, so the only new thing in her wardrobe repetoire so far is a slightly different grey skirt.

But it's her first full day. She only went to nursery until lunch time.

Whereas many parents have screeching finger nail screamign type memories of the whole school experience, I loved my first two schools (we had first, middle and secondary in those days) but hated to the point of hives my secondary school. Or Grammar school, I should say. The primary school experience wasw characterised by high marks in everything and starring roles in the school plays. It all went horrifyingly wrong, partially down to my temporary physical deformity, partly down to parental shouting at each other and very much down to awful teaching. But that was at the age of 12.

So I'm hoping that she is starting a (generally) delightful open, positive experience.

We'll be watching.

Post Gustav news & The Republican Party's stirling efforts

Glad to see that on BBC news online, Gustav occupies a lower position in world news to that of the northern Indian flood, now that Gustav has caused reasonably minor property damage only. No disrespect *at all* to folks from New Orleans. Me, I'm on the side of poor people, wherever the fuck they are. Some sense of proportion is useful though.

In the office I worl in, Sky or BBC news is on, silently, almost constantly, and the position is definitely reversed TV wise. as we discussed at home a little bit too often during Katrina, the US has media outlets coming out of its ears, whereas any comparable disaster in the 3rd world would get a pitiful response from the news in comparison. Again, I'm not disparaging the people who went through that bloody awful experience.

What I'm wondering is, wouldn't it be great if: the Republican Party, as Senator McCain suggested, was going to put every effort, on an individual-participation level ni to helping people displaced by the latest hurricane. If that effort now isn't quite so urgent, shouldn't he suggest that they switch their emphasis to helping to raise funds to help the half a million still stranded in India?

You know. Just a thought.

Talking of which, I have an increasing fear that there are going to be more attempts against Obama prior to (and frankly, after) the election, by the lunatic fringe who seem to believe he is some kind of weird fundamentalist spy or... fuck knows what. Or maybe he's just black and that's enough. Oi, you, American people: Take care of him. He may not be a woman, and he may renage on every bloody promise he previously made to you gullible optimists, but nevertheless. Take care of him.