©Meg Pickard, notsosoft.com 8/2000
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not so soft - until you dunk, of coursenot so soft: a satisfying brew, every time.


thursday, august 17

» Most of the evening is spent monged on extra strength painkillers, lying on the living room floor, staring at the sconces, with a hot water bottle. Luke makes disparaging noises about Hulk Hogan and offers tea, Meera paints her toenails, faffs around in a bathrobe and packs a humungous bag for two days away. On TV, Big Brother. Meera confesses she's a bear, suddenly, and out of nowhere. Me and Luke exchange glances. I say I'm a mongoose and Luke tells us he's an oscillot. She doesn't get it. This is our home, tonight.
11:26:14 PM
» Backache. Sky like a darkening bruise. Silent phone. Rain imminent. No teabags. Listening to Fauré's Requiem. Perfect. Perfect. Perfect.
4:16:55 PM
» Feel the need to throw yourself behind a good cause? Nishlord has made me aware of a great one. Click no further.

Here's the story, according to Nish: Scunthorpe has been slandered in The Sun for having the ugliest collection of women in the UK. This outrageous slur upon that charming little town is something we simply will not stand for.

The local radio station has responded by hosting Miss Scunthorpe 2000 ('Scunny Honey') at a local nightclub - and the winner gets a 'top holiday' (probably a weekend in a caravan site in Skeggy) - and you, yes, YOU, can vote on their website.

It has been drawn to my attention that, in an attempt to demonstrate the raw power of the Internet, a mass block vote is being made for contestant No.10. So I implore you to point your browser to...

...and get that vote in. Now! Register your vote and give this lady the weekend of donkey riding and chip-eating she so truly deserves.
4:03:18 PM
» Drama at the Big Brother house. Nick is a slimeball. Official.
2:31:34 PM
» Darren manages to speedily source a story about the latest Andrea Dworkin controversy at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Quoting from the article:
Dworkin said women and children were not protected by the law as it stood from "men who rape, rape, rape" and would themselves have to take the law into their own hands if justice was ever to be done. Because "men abuse prostitutes and rape women" laws had to be written which would allow women to "defend a larger space around them. Women should get guns and should be allowed to use them to defend themselves." ...Dworkin claimed that women had to learn from the experience of other "oppressed peoples" and carve out a homeland for themselves like the Jews in Israel where they could be "safe from men".
My ears get hot just reading this. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Guns and vigilante violence do not make for a safer society for women, kids, men, OAPs, anyone. Peace cannot be established on the basis of the bomb and the bullet. Fighting for an end to violence is like fucking for virginity. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Lumping men together as one massive evil bogeyman is not constructive. It's self-ghettoisation, isn't it? Teaching kids that men are inherantly evil is as wrong as teaching them that the world contains no bad whatsoever - a false picture, a false sense of security. Some men rape. Some men abuse. Some men kill. Some men say they're going to call and never do. And some women make unfair generalisations.

Perhaps this is not the place to go into this. Too late, I've started writing.

Dworkin's ideas about carving out a homeland where women can be "safe from men" worries me. It seems to propogate the victim mentality - the idea that you can change things to make yourself suddenly immune from danger. There are some things that can be done to protect yourself, but, but, but. Victims of assault and rape cannot, should not be made (by anyone, hardline feminists included) to feel that they could have avoided the attack if they had done things differently. If only...they had dressed differently. Not worn makeup. Not been drinking. Not smiled. Not taken that route home. Not lived in the city. Not gone out at night. If only. Safer for women to lock themselves away in a safe enclave, where their bodies cannot be invaded? I don't think so. Rape is a social phenomenon, enacted by individuals, on individuals. It's an invasion of the body, a crime like no other. But I don't want to blame the male population in general for the few who rape.

I hate generalisations - they're the laziest form of argument, and rarely accurate, and they generally (ho ho) cause more harm than good.

I don't think the world will be safer if women get guns. I think there will just be more guns in the world. That's not a good thing. In a philosophy class, years ago, I had to write an essay with the title "Is there such a thing as women's rights?" dealing with whether there are any rights for women which cannot also be classified as basic human rights. I can't help feeling that affording special legal freedoms to women is not going to make the problem of rape and assault go away. It's going to lead to greater violence, greater emphasis on the individual to rectify their own situation. Will the law (nebulous object that it is) make an extra effort to dispense justice to rapists in a future which allows women to dispense justice (AK-47 style) themselves? Seems like a huge shift in responsibility to me, a huge, hypocritical paradigm shift, a massive shrug - "we don't want to deal with this, so you can, if you want to".

I don't want to live in a place like that. I want society (again with the nebulousness) to deal with problems involving the whole community. Am I a woman (in a cosmic kind a sense) or just a human with a specific set of sexual add-on equipment? Am I first a woman and then a member of my society, community, world, or vice versa? Which takes precedence? And what about men's rights? What about violence against men, sexual and otherwise? Where do those men go? And victims of homophobia? Race attacks?

Hmmm. I've waffled on way too long. In short: Violence begets violence. Scapegoating doesn't work. Generalisations are lazy and destructive.<climbing down off soapbox> Thoughts?
11:49:27 AM

» I'm looking for any news reference to the contraversial comments made in the last couple of days at the Edinburgh Literary Festival (?) by opinionated feminist Andrea Dworkin. I heard snippets of an interview with her on Radio 4 while I was lying flat on my back on the bedroom floor yesterday (get your mind out of the gutter, filthy reader! I had backache!)

She was speaking about the recent anti-paedophilia campaign in this country and mob-ruled witch-hunts in Portsmouth over the weekend. She was basically advocating that women who are raped, or whose children are abused, should be able to kill their attacker. Pretty contraversial stuff. More comment if I can find a news reference with her comments verbatim - it's not fair to base my opinion of her views on a half-comatose possible mishearing of a brief interview.
11:09:47 AM

» Last night, someone arrived at this page via this Dave Barry column about Harry Potter. I have no idea how. But I'm glad, because reading the column made me giggle.

I have a confession to make. I haven't read any Harry Potter. I know, I must be just about the only person left in the western hemisphere who hasn't, but I've got my reasons - and they're mostly to do with being contrary - yes, me, contrary. Difficult to believe, I know. But it's my natural state when millions of people start telling me I should read it...Have you read it? If not, why not?

So what will probably happen is this: I'll hold out on reading them for another year or so, until the fuss has died down, and then I'll read them surreptitiously, and probably bore everyone to death on how much I enjoyed them, waaay after the fact is pertinent. I did it with Trainspotting. I did it with Memoirs of a Geisha. I did it with Letter to Daniel. I'm doing it with Cryptonomicon. I think I can manage it with a twelve year old wizard, don't you?
10:33:40 AM

wednesday, august 16

» Incorrigible In*cor"ri*gi*ble\, adj. [Lat. incorrigibilis: cf. Fr. incorrigible]: (of a person or their tendencies) not able to be corrected, improved, or reformed: she's an incorrigible flirt.
5:49:25 PM
» Oh yes. Mat has laid down another stormer (as Luke will happily testify). Managing to not only spin the much-anticipated Toast, but also tracks by the Rapping Reverend, Rock Steady Crew and the schmooovest of the schmoooove, Mr Leon Redbone. Oh, and incidentally, I want to be seduced, too...
5:02:31 PM
» You just have to visit a page with a title like Obscene Porn Interiors. No nudity, but some of that wallpaper should be illegal, I swear.
10:12:40 AM
» Mat mentioned last night that in the Spanish version of Big Brother the hapless chumps inside the walls are also called participants or contestants. This got me thinking about another bizarre Spanish gameshow that I used to watch occasionally in Sevilla.

El Gran Juego de la Oca (the big goose game) is a truly unique bit of programming madness, as I recall. For a start, it seemed to be loosely based on the board game Snakes and Ladders, where contestants throw a (massively oversized) dice in order to proceed around a numbered path which flanked a swimming pool. And this is where it got good. As well as the histrionics and oopasootics of the presenters (hunky male, leggy female), the assorted contestants had to either try (or try not - it was never that clear) to land on a goose square. If this happened, a veritable bevy (however many that is - I've never been entiely sure) of buxom, befeathered and otherwise semi-clad dancers would tramp on stage and do a big song and dance routine about a goose. Yes, I know it doesn't make any sense. Stick with me.

Otherwise, the game consisted entirely of a series of messy, wet, pointless and usually embarrassing (in a sexual way) pruebas or missions, which the contestants had to perform right there, on the square where they landed - honestly, the studio must have been enormous. The audience were always a pack of braying loons (mixing metaphors, sorry 'bout that) and there always seemed to be a neverending supply of swimsuited women wandering around the set. And other various odd-bods, like the Guinness World Record holder for eating glass, who just sat in the corner, chewing on a window. That kind of thing. And the best bit was that the whole show must have lasted for about three hours, because of frequent ad breaks. Three hours. Imagine that. I have to admit that my Spanish was fairly non-existant when I arrived in Sevilla, and so the nightly (oh, did I fail to mention it was on just about every night? Alternated, I think, with No Te Olvide Tu Cepilla De Dientes - Don't Forget Your Toothbrush) screening of El Gran Juego... taught me a helluva lot about Spanish language and culture...some of which I could probably forget quite happily - and did, as soon as I got a social life out there.
9:54:41 AM

tuesday, august 15

» No, no, please, no: in the name of all that you hold to be sane and sacred, I implore you, not to do it.
4:08:17 PM
» Interesting (?) point about Big Brother. In the UK show the inhabitants of the house are called contestants. In the US show they're called house guests. I think that's quite revealing, psychologically. I wonder what they were called elsewhere....
1:36:41 PM
» Magnus sits next to me. Magnus is Swedish. Magnus is extremely disturbed because I just called him a Kukjävel. Most uncharacteristic - since when could I curse in Swedish? Little does he know...[evil cackle] [via Cortex]
1:33:39 PM
» Tom @ new york london paris munich has quite simply hit the nail on the head with his capsule review of dubnobasswithmyheadman:
some gorgeously sprawled dark chocolate techno grooves, marred by Karl Hyde's hammy voice and back-of-a-bus-ticket 'observational lyrics', which turned the album into a manual for urban folk trying to convince themselves that their chi-chi loft spaces or sadly typical post-student flatshares constituted edgy, noir and modernist living. Still, the music remains lovely and it's a hell of a lot better than their second album....
It still remains one of my favourite albums, though I forget to listen to it for months on end - always worth rediscovering, though (especially track 4).
11:45:28 AM
» Someone just sent me a link to this recipe, to check whether it was authentic Mexican dish. It is. And now my stomach's rumbling. Loudly.
11:23:20 AM
» An incident at close of play last night between the head of a massive online content provider (popping his head out of a meeting as he sees me go by) and me (on my way out the door) reminded me exactly why I like this industry:

Him: Hey Meg, quick question?
Me: ?
Him: Olympics - Friend or Foe?
Me: To whom?
Him: To the British public.
Me [thinking]: hmm....Foe
Him: Why?
Me: Umm..we're not going to win anything, the television showing times will be too late for proper viewing, it's too far away, people can't participate. Initial excitement and then only for the twitchers, I should think.
Him: Cheers...[going back into the meeting, and addressing the others]...Right, I don't think we should focus too heavily on the Olympics...
11:21:28 AM

monday, august 14

» Can you see the King's lovely new outfit? Isn't it smart? And how about this miraculous tea-stain angel? It's not a tea-stain hunchback at all, nononononono....
4:15:46 PM
» It's not a trapped nerve; it's a muscle spasm. Whatever. I'm getting old. I'm talking about my health. Someone put me out of my misery.
2:18:20 PM
» I've trapped a nerve in my back, and it hurts so much, I've been sick as a dog all morning. Not fun.
10:51:39 AM
» "Ojalá se te acabé la mirada constante,
la palabra precisa, la sonrisa perfecta..."
Silvio Rodriguez - Ojalá.
12:43:31 AM
Meg on an IT (intravenous tea) drip

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