Archive for January, 2010

Also: webcam

January 22, 2010

In other news: I finally figured out how to get my webcam to work.


I know, I’m a whore.


Things I Hate About Women’s Magazines

January 22, 2010

I’m going to jump right in with some Cosmo headlines, and some suggestions I have for their improvement. Before any of you get all incredulous and start asking if I’m serious, YES, all of these are ACTUAL headlines from the Cosmo website.

“How to Handle Office Romance”
… don’t fucking bother. You’ll probably eventually get bored, then you’ll probably eventually get fired. It could potentially work out, I guess, but is it really worth taking the chance?

“One Night Stand Etiquette”
… you met someone at a bar. You followed them back to their house. You fucked them. You think there’s any ‘etiquette’ involved here? Just try not to steal any family heirlooms on the way out.

“How To Spot A Love Rat”
… have some common sense. Sounds simple, but most women don’t have this. Who hasn’t sat there, bored out of their arse, listening to a friend trying to justify some total prick’s behaviour? He’s a love rat: you know it, they know it, but at the end of the day they want to keep boning him so they need to either get out, or put up and shut up.

“What He Says vs. What He Means”
… he’s a man, and men generally do actually say what they mean. It’s just us women who lie and manipulate and play word games. Listen to what he’s saying and guess what? That’s what he’s saying.

“15 Ways To Get Him Going”
… 1: take off your bra. 2: take off your bra. 3: take off your bra. 4: I think you see where I’m going with this. Men like tits. It’s not rocket science.

“Find out how to lose twice as much weight as with dieting alone!”
… um, exercise too? I’m sick of all this shit all over the internet about how to lose weight. I’m going to level with you people: BACK AWAY FROM THE CAKE, AND GO TO THE GYM. It is that easy. Eat better, exercise more. You can spend as much money as you like on pills and potions and plans but the only thing that loses weight will be your wallet.

“He Doesn’t Want to Use a Condom”
… oh really? Well he obviously doesn’t want to use your vagina too badly either, then. Anyone faced with a man offering this opinion needs to master the use of the words “jog on”.

“He Keeps Pushing Your Head Down But You’re Not Interested”
… are the readers of Cosmo dating 16 year old boys? Because from what I remember of being a 16 year old girl, this was a particular speciality of theirs.

In the course of my research into shitty magazine articles nobody needs I did, however, discover my new favourite phrase – “whore’s bath” – which apparently is the practice of running off to the bathroom after sex to wash your armpits, crotch, and face, but not in that order. Frankly if you are uncomfortable enough with someone that a teensy bit of sweat and sex juices are enough to send you hurtling into the shower, you probably shouldn’t be shagging them anyway.

Blog blog blog blog blog

January 18, 2010

I recently found out that Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the man who invented the internet, is a professor at the University of Southampton. (For those who may have missed the significance of this – I live in Southampton, and I love the internet. Ok, it wasn’t hugely significant.)

The above fact doesn’t have much bearing on anything except that now when I am drunk or bored in Southampton my urge to look him up and try to convince him that I actually believe he wrote the entire contents of the internet is going to be overwhelming. However, it did provide a nice segue into some boring shit I wanted to write about the internet and its many uses, advantages and disadvantages.

(Just to warn you: if you’re here hoping for a list of my Top Ten Porn Sites, you’re shit out of luck. Sorry, but this is going to be a lot more boring than that. Maybe another time, though…)

First of all, appropriately enough, I want to talk about blogging. For those who don’t know what blogging is: look around. This is a blog. The word “blog” is a contraction of “web log” and it is basically a public online diary. Blogs can be personal or corporate, shit or not shit; generally speaking the majority are personal, and generally speaking the majority are shit.  But there are some gems to be found, if blog-reading is your thing – my favourite right now is

Blogs are probably the best way to illustrate the idea that the internet is what you make it.  The internet can be a way to entertain and educate a huge and devoted fan base, or it can be a way to chatter into a disinterested void about what you had for dinner and how miserable you are about not having a girlfriend/boyfriend/decent job/anything better to do than sit on your arse and write a blog.  I’ve had a blog on and off since I was around 14, and it’s safe to say that they started off flailing around in the deep end of the Lake of Self-Absorbed Teenage Shit.  Hopefully I’ve gotten a little better at the whole thing since then, but that’s ultimately not for me to judge, I suppose.

Blogs interest me because they are at the same time very private and very public.  On the one hand you’re willingly showing your life to the world on a billboard, but on the other hand you’re writing (usually) about your own personal views, opinions and experiences.  It’s strange to have such a level of conversational intimacy with a whole internet full of anonymous strangers – or as many of them as are inclined to read your blog, anyway – and I find that while I feel confident writing a blog with a target audience of pretty much the entire English-speaking world, I am usually remarkably shy and guarded about revealing my blog to people I actually know.  I suspect this feeling is actually quite common; after all, the criticism of people we don’t know and will probably never meet is easily shaken off, but if someone whose opinion you actually value thinks that the views you’re expressing are wrong, or that your writing is bad, or that blogs are lame, that will of course affect your attitude towards the whole thing at least a little.  A lot of bloggers say that they ‘write for themselves’ but I have trouble believing this.  I write as if I was writing for myself, but of course I’m hoping that readers will flock to it in their thousands and I will become internet-famous and eventually someone will actually PAY me to write this crap.  If I was writing for myself, I’d write in a journal with a padlock and keep it under my bed.  I wouldn’t deliberately sign up to post it online for all the world to see.  I think a lot of blogs would benefit greatly from admitting to themselves that they want to be read and approved of by other people, no matter how much the idea scares them.

So in conclusion to that, I am in favour of blogging.  I am not, however, a fan of ‘microblogging’ and by ‘microblogging’ I of course mean the blue menace: Twitter.  In fact, the only thing David Cameron has ever said that I agree with was in regards to Twitter, and I believe the phrase he used was “too many Twits might make a Twat”.  Having said this, when Twitter was new, I did sign up… but it took me all of two days to come to my current conclusion about it.  I posted three ‘tweets’ and I’m pretty sure all three of them were about how pointless Twitter is.

Now if you are an avid Twitterer, I mean no offence – it’s just not for me, at least, not in the form most people use it in.  There is one Twitter page I will occasionally visit, belonging to a poet I discovered online and consisting exclusively of the most beautiful poetic one-liners.  What I can’t stand is the constant stream-of-consciousness stuff, and the way most Twitter pages are full of one-sided conversations that you wouldn’t care about even if you could read the other side.  It might kill some time and yes, you’re keeping in touch with your friends, but it just seems so trivial… there is so much stuff to pay attention to and appreciate in life that I’m just not sure I have the extra resources to waste on concerning myself with what my friends had for breakfast or what they’re in town shopping for or what they’re drinking or what film they just watched.  A friend once asked me why I don’t use Twitter and I replied that I just don’t care that much about everyone else’s mundane day-to-day activities, and I’m fairly sure he was at least mildly offended by this.  But why should he be?  If I had cared about that sort of thing, surely before Twitter came along I would have spent all day frantically phoning or texting my friends with “So what are you doing right now?  I just HAVE to know!”  My own life is interesting enough, and not knowing what my friends are doing when I’m not with them gives us something to discuss the next time I actually see them.  Why would I want to outsource my friendship skills to a website? 

(My opinions on Twitter are probably going to offend a few people, so I’ll say it again; if you use it and enjoy it and find that it enriches your life – good for you!  It’s just not my style.)

What I really wanted to get to was a bit of a debate about how much the internet has improved our lives, and how much it has overcomplicated them.  All the information we could ever want is now at our very fingertips 24/7, and of course that is wonderful and fantastic and enables us to keep ourselves up to date and educated in a way which was just not possible on such a scale before.  We can keep in touch with friends on the other side of the world, for free, at just the click of a button.  We can share our news instantaneously with all the people we love, we can keep our records of our lives in a central location and come back to them whenever we need to.  We can buy and sell, we can organise and arrange, we can store and search, we can find new interests and cultivate old ones.

But the internet has also opened our lives up to things we might not want to keep so close.  If you’re not careful you risk having your computer damaged and your data compromised by viruses, of coure, but you’re also at risk of fraud, theft, and personal attacks.  The internet has made a lot of improvements to the way we arrange and conduct our social lives but it has also introduced new situations in which we don’t really know how to act.

I read an article recently which pointed out, quite rightly, that the internet has the potential to cause a lot of trouble in relationships.  Before the internet, relationships had very clear boundaries (or at least they should have done).  You’re with one person, you don’t involve yourself with another.  But on the internet, a lot of people simply don’t know where the line should be drawn.  Is meeting and chatting to new ‘friends’ of the opposite sex online breaking some sort of boundary?  Is watching internet pornography ‘cheating’?  I don’t think so.  So is watching someone perform on a webcam for you cheating?  You’re still watching the same images… but they’re solicited by and aimed at you.   As far as I’m concerned, at least, this is definitely cheating, as is any form of interactive cybersex.  Porn is just images; you’re not interacting with another person.  The internet has also increased the opportunity for ’emotional infidelity’ – you can be in constant contact with someone other than your partner, especially considering how most mobile phones now have internet and email capability, and this is being mentioned as a factor in more and more divorces.  People think it is ok because they haven’t met or even touched this other person, but does that make it ok?  You’re cultivating an intimacy with someone other than the person you have chosen – and I don’t think distance and method of communication make that any less of a betrayal.  The real clue is, if it’s something you wouldn’t share with your partner, then you know (deep down, perhaps, but you know) that you are in some way cheating on them.

I think this is what really troubles me about the internet: it blurs the line between human interactions and simple transactions.  Just because you CAN buy anything on the internet, doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

My final point is about cyber bullying, something I’ve read a lot of bullshit BBC News articles about recently.  Now, I’ve got a whole lot to say about bullying, but I won’t get into it right here.  The main issue with cyber bullying is that now, kids seem to have no escape.  You go to school, you get yelled at and called names on the bus, someone smooshes pizza into your hair in Home Ec, you have to become a Student Librarian just so you have somewhere to hide out during break times, stuff gets thrown at you while you walk home from the bus stop on a route you have carefully worked out to avoid the other kids’ houses (not making any of this up, by the way – this was my life for a good four or five years).  But back when I was being bullied, social networking in its current form just did not exist.  Incidentally that sentence makes me feel really, REALLY old, but this was only around ten years ago.  Actually, that sentence was just as bad.  Anyway, what I’m getting at is, when I got home from school, it was over and I could try to relax around people who did not hate me.  At the weekends, I could choose to socialise with the three or so kids who didn’t spend their entire lives thinking up new ways to make me miserable.  My bullying experience was neatly confined to between the hours of 8.30am and 4pm, Monday to Friday, and if I was lucky I got an hour’s rest from it at lunchtime too.  Kids who are being bullied now that we are well and truly living in the cyber age simply do not have this luxury.  Not only are they bullied by comments and messages on sites like Facebook, Bebo and Myspace (does anyone still use Myspace?!), but the bullies can now create groups celebrating the lameness of their victims!  Nothing does more wonders for a kid’s self esteem than watching all their classmates join the “Janey is a loser” group.  Bullying is now essentially more organised and less localised.  It’s not one kid you have to avoid in the hallways, it’s a constant torrent of abuse aimed directly at you, and it hits you right where you think you’re safest – in your own home.  Kids have killed themselves because they’ve received Facebook death threats – and yes I know there’s always someone of authority to turn to, and yes I know Facebook have a whole range of very effective security options now, but some of these kids are just too young and inexperienced to know how to use them.  A lot of people put the responsibility for this on the parents, which I understand, but it is just not as simple as deleting your kid’s Facebook account.  Isn’t that giving the bullies what they want?  Doesn’t that just isolate the child more?  Once again, we no longer know where to draw the line at letting the internet bring the outside world into our private lives.

I’m not one of these people who thinks internet service providers should be held accountable, because their function is desribed perfectly by their name – service provider.  All they are there to do is help you get access to the internet, and it is entirely your own responsibility to ensure that you and those you are responsible for are using it appropriately. 

The internet is our latest Brave New World, and we haven’t quite settled on a system of government yet.  Hell, most of the internet couldn’t even be described as a civilised society.  But hopefully, one day, we’ll learn to take some responsibility for our virtual actions, and maybe sooner or later we’ll get there.

Or on the other hand, maybe not, in which case: is my favourite porn site, knock yourselves out.

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

January 9, 2010

To anyone who denies that climate change is happening, I present exhibit A: the fact that it has actually snowed in England every year for the last three years.

I’m not going to whinge about climate change because, no matter what the advertising campaigns say, I don’t have the power to change it (after all, me turning the light off every time I leave the room is not going to combat the fact that every shop on every high street in the country leaves all its lights on 24/7 for no readily apparent reason). 

What I am going to whinge about, however, is the way that everywhere south of the Scottish border is completely incapacitated by the presence of the tiniest amount of snow.  To provide some contrast, my family lives in the Scottish Highlands, very close to Loch Ness.  They have had around eight inches of snow for around a month now – and yet somehow, with only one car between them, both of my parents have managed to get to work every day, one of them around 8 miles from home and the other around 25 miles.  They don’t have some special kind of car, they are not astoundingly dedicated to their jobs.  It’s just that in Scotland, when it snows, they treat the fucking roads properly, and people know how to drive safely in icy conditions.


On the other hand, here in Southampton, we had two days warning that we were going to be ‘severely’ hit by snow.  Were the roads gritted?  Was it explained to any bus drivers that if you just drive slowly, and carefully, you aren’t necessarily going to die in a gigantic fireball?  No.  Apparently not.  So despite having the luxury of two days advance warning, when we wake up to find that glorious blanket of white over the world, we ALSO find that we can’t get off of our drives and the buses aren’t running. 

I’ve also heard that in the totally ridiculous and unnecessary panic which has been started by this ‘severe’ weather, people are actually rushing out to bulk-buy food in case we are snowed in.  It is at this point that I feel I should step in and say, GET A FUCKING GRIP.  This is a couple of inches of snow.  It doesn’t come up to your ankles, let alone your damn doorstep.  You are not getting snowed in.  You are physically able to leave your house, it’s just that you think you’ve finally found an excuse not to.

So in conclusion, get back to work, quit your whingeing, find some news stories that don’t involve the ‘terrible weather’, STOP BULK BUYING BREAD AND MILK because other people still need it, and grit the fucking roads for the love of god.

Also just so you know, Scotland is laughing at you.