December 17, 2007

The cold frost glistens under the warm orange sunlight, each contradicting the other in both temperature and colour. Underfoot, grit keeps the roads safe. The weekend’s drunken vomit lies frozen near to bus stops. Scarfed drivers hop out of their cars to dump piles of hastily-written Christmas cards into the post box to allow, doubtless, their only communication with some names in that pile to arrive on time.

Proper winter temperatures are finally biting. All I want for Christmas is snow.


November 9, 2007

Just announced, Glasgow has won in its bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Thank goodness. I thought the other guys could have gotten quite far in the panel’s estimation with their “first African games” argument.

Now all Glasgow council has to do is get its collective finger out of its collective arse and get on with some fairly fundamental things: building the facilities and the infrastructure to support the event.

What’s the money that they fuck up? GCC often do.

I got a blue bag in which to store recyclable rubbish recently, with instructions to empty it into the blue bin in the shared back garden. Except … I don’t have a blue bin yet. And the list of things I can’t recycle is astonishing. It’s a start, but it’s a typical Glasgow City Council half-measure.


November 1, 2007

This, is idiocy, through and through.

Will we never be able to fly sanely again?


October 31, 2007

This guy was talking to the audience having just arrived back in town. A mere couple of hours on land, he’s in front of us all talking about his work.

And yet, I can’t ignore a few things.

He’s a confident guy in person, but he falls apart in front of a crowd. He starts babbling.

He’s nervous. He’s sweating like a pig … and runs his hand through his hair exposing those moist patches on his shirt where his armpits have been releasing as much sweat as they possibly can.

He keeps fiddling with his crotch. Yes, he seems to be repeatedly fixing his penis. I’m not sure how much maneuvering he felt he had to do down there, but he definitely did too much.

Ensuring you’re sitting correctly and are comfortable is an immensely important thing. It’s very difficult to concentrate if you’re not sitting comfortably, so to speak. So I can understand perhaps a discreet nudge to sort things out (in so far as it’s possible to be discreet while your hand pushes your genitalia around in front of a crowd).

Insane. I don’t often go to a talk and find myself thinking not about the content, but instead about where to avert my eyes.


October 28, 2007

It seems I’ve been included in some “Scottish Roundup” of late. But for why?

I’m not sure, actually. My posts focus on vulgarity, genitalia, and sometimes my amateur analysis of social interactions. I focussed in particular on Scotland during election season, but quickly gave that up once business had resumed as normal. I live in Scotland, as I have all my life.

I might be moving away from Scotland soon. Do I still qualify for this Scottish roundup? I suppose I could have a moan about the lack of jobs in the fields of IT/software development/computing science research, which would certainly bring the focus onto Scotland. What’s the government doing about this? Or is the current government whining about Westminster having control over much of the UK and therefore we would have more of these jobs if we were independent? More importantly, why do we not have a minister in the parliament dedicated to boosting this enormously important field? IT is but at the start of its lifetime; why aren’t we rushing headlong into the field as a strong world contender, rather than complaining about how much money we didn’t get directly from the North Sea oil reserves while they were still plentiful?

There’s plenty to blog about on Scotland directly. But I generally don’t blog about Scotland (often). I can rant and moan, but it’s only as good as the politicians when they rant and moan: nothing changes.

So by living here but not by talking about Scotland I qualify for the Scottish roundup. Why? This seriously confuses me. There are a lot of Scots bloggers out there. Many of them don’t advertise this fact. We are not a small geographically located community in need of that helping hand up into the larger apolitical world of the internet. Scotland already has a pretty good representation on the internet. On an idealogical level, the internet does not follow geographical boundaries.* The worry is that we’re not forging ahead on the technologies which run the internet, not that we’re not able to see enough Scottish bloggers.

It strikes me that a Scottish roundup would do well to focus on important matters in Scotland, and important areas in which Scotland could be doing better. Highlight the people’s concerns in a meaningful, thoughtful, and targetted manner, and suddenly the Scottish roundup becomes a lot more relevant. It’s also naturally becomes a lot more political. Why?

Because it’s focussing on a geographic area bound by the rules and laws of the governments which act upon it. Generally if something matters to somebody, it means that either those governments aren’t doing a good enough job, or that any changes many by the government will affect that matter. For so long as a blog of any sort is going to actually focus on one nation, it’s probably going to be at least partially political. I don’t see any way of stepping aside from that.

* I realise this is naive for so long as governments attempt to exercise control over how their populace uses the internet (hint: it’s not just China who filter your browsing habits), but the point is largely accurate.


October 25, 2007

I love it. Cursing, cussing, whatever you call it. I call it swearing.

There’s nothing quite like the simple pleasure of exclaiming “fuck!” when something goes wrong. Nothing quite like muttering “balls!” when you’ve forgotten something. Nothing quite like quietly whispering “bugger!” when you’re running late.

  1. Fuck! Bugger!
  2. Shit! Crap! Shite! Pish!
  3. Bollocks! Arse! Balls! Tits!
  4. Fucker! Bastard! Dick! Dickhead! Cunt!

Let’s analyse these. I realise that there are a lot more, but they seem to follow the same trend.

Category number 1 is often used in the “something has gone wrong” setting. So why do we associate “something bad happening” with sex (formerly) and anal sex (latterly)? Surely, perhaps based on your level of participation and which genitalia an accident of genetics granted you, both are good things?*

Category 2 this time focusses on waste matter. This is at least a little easier to understand: while the act of passing waste is, generally, a fairly enjoyable experience (especially if you have something to read while you make your way through the process), I do understand that for most people, waste is waste. It’s rejected by the body, and should be disposed of.**

Category 3 focusses directly on body parts. But why, in particular, do we use bodily features which are essentially secondary sexual organs, those parts of the body which define our shape and who we should be attractive to, as swear words? Surely, they may dangle or wobble a bit and be unsightly at times, but everybody’s dangles, wobbles, and sometimes looks unsightly.

Category 4 targets an individual, perhaps an arch nemesis. These are highly varied, but so often concentrate on primary sexual organs. I happen to like (and, dare I say it, enjoy) my penis, so why should I call somebody I dislike a “dick”? It’s brought me much pleasure over the years.

I find it all rather curious. If we’re using body parts, why do we never exclaim “arms!”? If we’re using waste, why do we never shout “bogies!”

It just seems odd to me.

* For the record, I’ve never really understood anal sex. Why would I want to put my winky into somebody’s bumhole? No thanks. That said, if somebody really wanted to … it would surely be impolite to refuse. A caveat of being male: I like putting my penis into things. 

** I don’t understand watersports, etc. Nope, sorry. If the hottest girl on earth wanted to pee/shit in my mouth, I’d politely try to sway her opinion toward something I found palatable.


October 23, 2007

I have become a voracious reader. So much so, that I’m shocked I didn’t finish a book in 2006, 2005, 2004 … probably going all the way back to High School.

Why did I neglect this simple, but fair, pleasure? I have read 16 books so far this year, and I don’t consider myself a speed-reader.

Reading is good.

Read more.


October 19, 2007

I spotted this news story the other day, claiming that obesity is not the fault of the individual, rather the government must, to some extent, catch the blame.

“Blame” is too harsh a word. Perhaps the government is at fault for not helping enough. We’ve all heard enough about what food is bad for you. But where’s the justification? You tell me something’s bad, I want to know why, what it does to me, if eating less of it helps, if there’s a good alternative, or how I could cut it out of my diet altogether, or if it’s a sneaky little indulgence that I could get away with now and then but not on a daily/weekly basis.

In many cases, obesity probably is the individual’s fault, but only in so far as greed and sloth are irresistible and almost unavoidable in the 21st century.

Junk food is cheap. I can walk down to Iceland just now and pick up a dozen frozen burgers probably for less than £2, a block of cheese for another £2, and a dozen rolls for less than the same again. It’s too easy and too cheap to eat junk all the time.

So what’s a good fix?

How’s about: use our council tax money to subsidise local gym memberships? Maybe a little already goes that way, but £30 or more per month for membership is more money than some people can part with. Especially if they’re to trial a healthier (more expensive?) diet at the same time.

How’s about: more simple advice, distributed over a couple of years. It wouldn’t cost much to distribute a nice little leaflet to all doors, one per month, via the Royal Mail (they have a cheap system for that, you see, it’s called “door-to-door”, and they’ll quite happily deliver your mail to all doors in an area). Just a simple tip on each leaflet: “Try cutting out X from your diet, it does ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ to your body. ‘A’ is a good alternative, doesn’t cause ‘Y’ and ‘Z’, and costs just the same!” One of those per month would let people try something new each month, possibly shifting people slowly but surely toward healthier eating rather than the hammer-based approach we have just now: “You should eat healthier. You should be healthier. You should eat healthier. You should be healthier.” Bang. Bang. Bang, but the nail’s not going in.

How’s about: improved public transport links. For God’s sake, it’s the 21st century. Fast, efficient trains. Fast, efficient buses, with useful info at bus stands and clarity on pricing schemes. Link up to underground systems and tram networks. Run public transport late into the evening. Do all of these things so that people are less likely to sit on their arse in their car and walk less than 10 minutes on their way to/from work. Build a proper cycle network across the UK that traverses city centres.

None of this is rocket science. At the risk of sounding like many tired cliches, the government should be helping people help themselves. Let’s stop blaming everybody else for all our problems.

Here’s my own personal regime:

  • Walk a couple of miles per day. Doesn’t take long: 30-40 minutes.
  • Cut out the fizzy drinks. Drink water instead: it’s cheap, and more refreshing.
  • Eat less in the evening. I sit in the office all day. I eat lunch, but no breakfast. I’m not really hungry before 7pm; I can get away with a bowl of soup to last me through the rest of the day. Plus, soup is healthy. Especially if I make it myself.
  • Keep other muscles ticking away. I do a bunch of upper body exercises to give me some semblance of toning.

Again, none of this is difficult. In fact, the only time consuming part is possibly the walking, but even that’s not onerous. The more walking, less food, home-made soup, and not drinking fizzy drinks even saves a bit of cash.

Simple changes are easy. They don’t offer miracle weight loss, but nothing reasonable does.


October 15, 2007

One minute, I’m in a room filled with students, and I’m teaching. I’m fielding difficult problem after difficult problem.

Next minute, I’m in a meeting room controlling today’s seminar.

Next I’m back in my office, trying to get on with my own work.

Later, I’m back at home relaxing with a beer and a beautiful woman. The beautiful woman is just a friend.

It’s interesting to weigh up the different interactions we each have with other people every day. Sometimes we’re in a position of power. Sometimes we’re absolutely not in a position of power. Sometimes we’re in total control of our time. Sometimes we’re unwinding with a close friend, one of those few with whom you feel equal.

And we shift between these modes of interaction subconsciously, without really paying attention to them.


October 9, 2007

I’ve never been one for casual sex. I’ve never had a “fuck buddy” (friend with benefits) as such.

And yet, some time ago, when I split up with my last long-term girlfriend, I naturally missed the sex. I missed the excitement. I missed that tingly feeling you get in certain places. I missed the astounding experience of vaginal penetration, feeling myself slide slowly into place. I haven’t experienced that in some time. I didn’t miss the relationship; that had been dead in the water for quite some time, for reasons I shan’t divulge.

For a while, I was a member of an “adult” dating site. Not for the dating part, just the adult part. Of course, these sites are predominantly male, so the following rule seems to be as true as it is in other arenas of life: Woman wants no-strings-attached sex? She can have it. Man wants no-strings-attached sex? He has to be very, very lucky. Or at least know the right people.

I don’t know those people. I can’t ever treat a “friend” as somebody I use for sex. And I dislike the grittiness, ugliness, messiness, and awkwardness of one-night stands.

So I met a girl on said dating site. When we communicated via text message. The night we arranged to meet up, I could not get rid of my hard-on. I was sitting on the train so totally erect that I realised my preferred wallet placement in my jeans is actually quite a good disguise. (Left-front pocket, in case you’re wondering. I tend to hang a little to the left, so when I take a hard-on it naturally grows down that trouser leg.)

But when we got to her flat, it was gone. The thoughts of sex were gone. Despite a suitably impressive set of breasts and reasonable looks otherwise, I couldn’t do it.

It seems I have bother with the idea of fucking a relative stranger. I have bother with the idea of fucking a friend. That really only leaves fucking a lover. Or copious volumes of consumed alcohol for a good set of beer goggles and the loss of inhibition.

I’m perfectly comfortable with my body image. I’m perfectly comfortable with the size of my penis, and my ability in bed. I suppose I just don’t fuck around.