I miss LJ

Jan. 22nd, 2012 11:05 am
radegund: (Default)
Are you still here, lovely people?

I've been howling at this blog post quoting extracts from "Are Women People?" (1915) (via Twitter; I think [livejournal.com profile] ailbhe linked to it).

For instance:

If They Meant All They Said

Charm is a woman's strongest arm;
My charwoman is full of charm;
I chose her, not for strength of arm
But for her strange elusive charm.

And how tears heighten woman's powers!
My typist weeps for hours and hours:
I took her for her weeping powers—
They so delight my business hours.

A woman lives by intuition.
Though my accountant shuns addition
She has the rarest intuition.
(And I myself can do addition.)

Timidity in girls is nice.
My cook is so afraid of mice.
Now you'll admit it's very nice
To feel your cook's afraid of mice.
radegund: (Default)
...or does the same-sex section of this wedding planner's "services" page start off a bit clueless (though apparently well meaning) before veering into crassly offensive territory?

I quote:

Same-sex weddings have a reputation for flamboyance and extravagance, and rightly so. Wecater for all aspects of the ‘wedding’ even down to finding an outfit for the happy couple’s Chihuahua (I kid you not). This includes transvestite and transexual weddings with the ‘bride to be’ taken through every aspect of ‘her’ wedding in the same way I would with a female bride.

Yes. I think I've just answered my own question, haven't I?

Oh dear.
radegund: (tiny-blue-flowers)
Don't know if I'm behind or ahead or right on the tip-top of the curve with this one, but anyway. Friends, it is TIME TO PLAY Cheese or Font?

Really, it is.




See? What could be simpler? Go click.
radegund: (wine-pansy)
The title of my last post came from my current earworm: a particularly vicious specimen, being the inimitable (and oh, how they've tried) Total Eclipse of the Heart.

Which is there because someone on Twitter linked to this literal version.

Deathless. Go click.

[livejournal.com profile] daegaer, I commend it particularly to your attention.
radegund: (Default)
I'm editing papers for a Festschrift that my mother is producing this summer. From a paper by John Barnes (UCD): Dante talks about how 'the human soul at first considers goods of little value to be of great value, but by experience or instruction sets its heart on more valuable things':

So we see small children desiring above all else an apple; then, when they are somewhat older, desiring a little bird; then, still later, desiring fine clothes; then a horse; then a woman; then riches in small measure; then riches in large measure; then even more riches.
(Dante, Convivio, IV. 12. 16)

Well. Nice to know where I stand in the hierarchy of possessions, all the same. Feck off, Mr Alighieri.

In the West, we're distanced in time from such odious assumptions, of course, but also in space. I'm thinking of something my sister told me recently, about meeting delegates from the Ethiopian Human Rights Commission, who spoke about how hard it is to raise the question of women's rights in communities where wives must crawl on hands and knees to serve their husbands' food.

More to do.
radegund: (swans)
As many of you know, the big news in Ireland today is the publication of a long-awaited report by the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse.

Thousands of children were tortured, raped, and otherwise abused in Irish institutions (reformatories, orphanages, industrial schools, institutions for children with disabilities, ordinary schools) during much of the twentieth century, mostly by members of the Catholic clergy. If you can stomach more detail, this Irish Times article gives a summary of the report's findings, together with links to two opinion pieces.

The whole thing is sickening, of course, but the message that really stands out for me is that the abuse was absolutely endemic in the system - not aberrational, but an artifact of the scornful contempt in which the Irish Catholic Church and the officials of the Irish State apparently held the public (in general) and their children (in particular) during that period. These unimaginative, self-congratulatory patriarchs cared nothing for children, whose fate was of no consequence as long as the desired social hierarchy could be maintained.

Meanwhile, another report appeared this week, published by the Irish College of Psychiatry, which illuminates the shameful state of mental health services in this country. It's called A Gloomy View, and I can find very little coverage of it online. (It gets a mention three paragraphs from the end of this Irish Examiner article.) I bring it up because I heard an interview about it on Newstalk the other day, which highlighted (among other issues) the fact that we have, it seems, nowhere to accommodate children with severe mental health problems. They are STILL, in the twenty-first century, routinely placed in adult psychiatric wards. This fact has been haunting me since I heard it - it's such a jaw-droppingly inappropriate thing to do, and there's so little excuse for a society that has enjoyed the prosperity we have in the past decade not to have FIXED IT, already.

I never suspected Ireland of having a huge amount of genuine respect for children as people, but it's sobering to encounter two such stark illustrations of the problem in the space of a few days.

All of this has made me go back and reread Ursula K. Le Guin's disturbing short story "The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas" (PDF here; be warned, it's not an easy read). I've always understood it as a fable about social privilege on a global scale, but in modern Ireland, this week in particular, a literal reading is horrifyingly close to the bone.
radegund: (stone-sparkles)
1. The plumber got the boiler back up on its feet today. Can haz heating! Yay! Apparently it cut out because of an airlock, and it's not 100% better - he'll be back tomorrow to clean out the pump.

2. The Oyster does quality mondegreens: today he sang the chorus of "I'll tell Ma when I get home" as "Cheese handsome, cheese pretty, cheese the belle of Belfast city". I had to stifle my giggles. (He still plays hide-in-the-sink, although I suppose it's only a matter of time.)

3. Two frequent themes from our games at the moment:
    (1) the Oyster is an alien / monster / wild aminal who arrives in our house from his werreld. My role is to look beyond his aggressive facade and recognise that he wants to make friends. He then asks if he can stay with us, and I enthusiastically welcome him. He asks "So, do you like me so far?" quite a lot.
    (2) the Oyster is a superhero (more coping with non-omnipotence, I'm thinking). Yesterday he was Superhero John Murphy, who wore a big pink super-cape (OK, bath towel), and could run, jump, and fly. He asked, "So, are there any problems you'd like me to solve?" I said I wasn't too impressed with the current government, which prompted a long discussion about economic policy, voting, etc. John supports rich people sharing their money with poor people, and he's going to make a machine that will make money so that everyone can have as much as they want. Each rich person will give some money to a poor person that they know (we didn't ultimately resolve the issue of rich people who know no poor people and poor people who know no rich people). It's important to remember that if the government give all their money to the poor people, then they will be poor themselves. Taxes may help with this, although I'm not entirely sure that the concept was grasped. John will run for election. His posters will show a picture of him in his super-cape, with a slogan that makes it clear that he can fly. But he can't make people vote for him: they have to decide for themselves.

4. Huge roadside sign on the way to Castledermot, Co. Kildare:
Fed up renting? Own "YOUR HOME" from just €720 per month.
Gotta love those quotation marks!

5. The Feaster is talking a blue streak. Most of what he says isn't English, nor close to it, but he clearly knows exactly what he's saying. He addresses us solemnly, using syllables and intonation and everything, then waits for a response. It's KILLINGLY cute. (Actually, it's very like the language of Boo in Monsters, Inc.) English words we've positively identified include (in no particular order):

- there (deh)
- that (dah)
- there [he|she|it] is! (dehhh-iziz, often with a beautiful baby top-note on the first syllable)
- cow (a very rapid d-gw, possibly for "the cow" - haven't heard it in a good while)
- moo (bvvvvv)
- train (day or tay)
- Mama (mama)
- bread (debd)
- cracker (gah-goh)
- potato (duh-duh, just this evening)

He also uses annann to mean "food" or "food I want RIGHT NOW", and he has a word meaning "breastmilk" that I've yet to pin down. It's something like dez, I think.

He seems hugely amused at the whole language gig, which is delightful.
radegund: (Default)
I only stayed up until about 2:00 last Wednesday morning, and Niall went to bed a bit after 3:00. By then Obama's election was pretty much a done deal. The sense of relief was - even after everything - unexpected.

I have vivid memories of 2000, obviously, but also of 2004: I slept upstairs, waking every few hours to feed a ten-week-old Oisín; Niall came up every time he heard the baby stir to whisper me a status report. I started out quite hopeful, on the basis of the exit polls, and the picture got bleaker and bleaker as the night wore on. In the morning, I thought, "My baby will be four before that dangerous fucker is out of office."

And now he's GONE (OK, will be, come 21 January next). The Bush era is OVER.

Almost anyone would have been an improvement. To have it be someone as impressive as Obama appears to be is ... quite something.

Huh. I didn't even mean to write all of that. I came here to post two links that caught my attention today:

1. David Crystal analyses Obama's victory speech for style.

2. Bádhraic Ó Bamaigh. (Warning: your brain will melt.)
radegund: (tiny-blue-flowers)
I've deliberately omitted context here, in case that's not clear! This is for all the pop-culture polls that leave me clueless and bemused :-)

[Poll #1268047]
radegund: (swans)
Unny watched Shrek before bed, as he often does these evenings. When it got to the bit where the Lovers Are Parted, and the soundtrack is John Cale's version of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", I was reminded that I wanted to post about bowdlerisation.

I haven't checked the recording itself, but on the basis of a Web search I'm going to say that they play the whole Cale version except for the fourth verse, which is fairly sexually explicit, and the opening phrase of the fifth verse. The omitted material is seamlessly edited out, but it's obvious from the tune that there's a half-line missing from the final verse.

"Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah. All I ever learned from love was how to shoot at someone who outdrew you," sings Cale. It jars, if you're following the music.

What's missing from that shortened line? "Maybe there's a God above".

I find this decision fascinating - what we choose to prevent children from accessing says a lot about our society. Shrek is a sophisticated film, with reasonably complex takes on gender, power, and textuality, among other things. It has cruelty, fighting, and toilet humour. And yet they balked at "maybe there's a God above" - even though (and I realise I'm now officially overthinking this) a concerned adult could easily explain it away as "Baby, there's a God above" if they really felt that strongly. Or perhaps the producers asked Cale to re-record the offending line as "Clearly, there's a God above" and he refused... Who knows?

Love, redux

Jul. 8th, 2008 10:40 pm
radegund: (swans)
I'm just back from a lovely holiday in Kerry, on which I finished reading Anne Enright's 2002 novel The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch.1 There's a paragraph towards the end of the book, just after Eliza has had her first baby, that accosted me with its rightness2:

And then later he is in the crook of my arm. They say you must love a child - but not too much! They say you must do this, or that. But a word like 'love' means nothing to us. It is not even a feeling I have for him, or he for me. It is a silence, or very like a silence. It is the inside shape of me - and it is the outside shape of him. It is nothing that you could stick a word between. (Anne Enright, The Pleasure of Eliza Lynch, London, Vintage, 2003, pp. 214-15)

What she said.

1 Mental Health Advisory: I loved the novel, but it does contain some bits that may distress parents. There are certain things that I could've read fairly easily before I had kids, which I now find very painful. Death-of-children stuff, mainly. There's not a great deal of it in this book, but it's there, and I wanted to mention it because I know some of you have a similar reaction.

2 Phrase borrowed from [livejournal.com profile] gibtsdochnicht.
radegund: (Default)
1. On a recent trip down the Long Mile Road we saw a sign that confirmed a long-cherished suspicion of mine. It occurred about four times, printed on plastic and tied to lampposts with string. It read "The Landlord Shop", with an arrow pointing to the left. So it's really true! There is a special shop where landlords can go to find the perfect chipboard tables, saggy sofas, poorly sprung mattresses and inelegant formica worktops with which to furnish their smelly dives. I knew it!

2. The same trip revealed the following, spotted in Homecarestylebase or whatever it's called:

That, in case the print isn't sufficiently clear from my camera-phone picture, is an Aspirational Chrome Tooth Brush Tumbler. Isn't it just inspiring?

3. On another note entirely, a few weeks ago we drove past my old school, as we always do on our way to my parents' house, and I saw that they'd put up a big banner on the railings: "Coláiste Íosagáin", it read (for that is the school's name - it translates as "Baby Jesus College"), in jaunty black and (I think) green letters. A couple of days later, driving back from my parents' after dark, I glanced over as we passed the school and noticed that the (?)green letters weren't visible under the streetlights. As the colours alternated letter by letter, the sign now began with the bold, black, foot-high legend CLIT. And that was the last I saw of it: by the following Sunday it had gone. I'd like to think that this was a subversive attempt to promote unashamed sexual pleasure in young women, but unless the school's ethos has changed out of all recognition since I was there ... well, no.
radegund: (Default)
[livejournal.com profile] niallm just turned round to tell me about a marketing decision that I really hope is a wind-up.

It's a new MP3 player.

And it's called.

i.Beat blaxx

I mean ... is it just me? Please say it's not just me.
radegund: (Default)
This was too good not to share. It's pure poetry.

In which I spam you )
radegund: (swans)
When I started writing this post, I thought I might have a point to make. It turns out I don't, really. There's nothing new here. I'm too tired to try to excavate any sort of novel argument from my porridgey brane. But the link in the penultimate paragraph is worth following.

A month ago, when we were visiting Reading, [livejournal.com profile] ailbhe had an assignment to look for portrayals of infant feeding on television. We watched for a few evenings, but whatever programmes were on were apparently not targeting a demographic that would be interested in such portrayals. We didn't see a single one.

However, I've kept an eye out since - I've been watching a hell of a lot more television than usual recently, because I don't have much energy for anything more strenuous - and last week, I saw my very first infant-feeding ad. You might know it. It begins with a mother breastfeeding an infant. Voiceover says something like "you always knew you'd give your baby the best". Image switches to a mother bottlefeeding an older baby. Voiceover: "Then, you probably switched to formula." Image switches to soft-focus toddlers in brightly coloured clothes, playing vigorously. Voiceover: Some pap about how great their particular brand of follow-on milk is (I am deliberately not recalling the brand, incidentally), and how it's still "the best".

So, no explicit claim that formula is as good as breastmilk, but a blatant equation of breastfeeding an infant and giving follow-on milk to a toddler, plus the reinforcement of the notion that the "natural" (hello?) progression goes breastmilk>formula>follow-on milk.

Which, I suppose, for many people, it does.

I hate that. Why does it make me so angry? Aren't companies allowed to advertise their products? And shouldn't people have the right to choose how they nourish their babies? Well, ultimately, within reason, they should. Women are entitled to choose not to breastfeed, or to wean early - or, indeed, to breastfeed their children for four or five years - if that's what works best for them and their families.

But the problem is, breast versus bottle is a health issue, NOT a straightforward "consumer" choice. And the deliberate and calculated skewing of that choice by cynical marketing campaigns on behalf of huge, obscenely rich corporations - including the creation of a whole new product (follow-on milk) designed to get around the restrictions on advertising infant formula - is pernicious and wrong.

At least, in the West, formula feeding merely increases certain health risks (by levels that, depending on a mother's circumstances, may represent the best option), as opposed to being a matter of life and death. George Monbiot wrote this week about G8's empty promises, and specifically about the situation in the Philippines, where the government is being prevented by international pressure from implementing the WHO code on the marketing of infant formula. "Every year, according to the World Health Organisation, some 16,000 Filipino children die as a result of 'inappropriate feeding practices'" - while many more become iller than they would have been if breastfed.

But, you know, at the end of the day, they're only furrin babies. Western corporations' profits are clearly MUCH MORE IMPORTANT.
radegund: (Default)
[To anyone unaware: we voted in our general election yesterday.]

My favourite politics geek set off at 8:00 this morning to cycle to the RDS, where he has a ticket to the count courtesy of someone off the Internet. He roused me gently before he went with the MARVELLOUS1 news that an exit poll shows FF on 41%. (Actually, it's 41.6%, according to Newstalk.)

OH WELL. At least we have PR. It's all about the transfers.

It doesn't seem to matter what they do, does it? We still reward them by showering them with our votes. Well, not we, in this household. And I suspect, not many of youse either. In fact, I don't believe I know any avowed FF voters. Presumably this is because I haven't paid attention, but I'm reasonably sure that nobody in my usual social circles leans that way.

I hate this bit. At least when the count is well under way there's some sense of purpose, action, cheer or disappointment.

Here, have something to distract you. [livejournal.com profile] niallm read this little vignette out to me and [livejournal.com profile] erisian the night before last, and it made us laugh a lot - if somewhat funereally. An FF canvasser goes beyond the call of duty. (I'm particularly amused by the URL.)

1 Sarcasm.


Mar. 24th, 2007 11:35 pm
radegund: (blue-pansy)
I have nothing of substance to say about devolution/power sharing in Northern Ireland, but I couldn't resist passing on this Freudian typo from ireland.com's breaking news section:

However DUP members have been loathed to commit themselves to nominating ministers by the March 26th deadline...

(Earlier, Radio 4 described Paisley's "decades of roaring opposition" to the Nationalists. I liked that. See? Nothing of substance. I'm all about the funny.)
radegund: (Default)
My friend-the-obstetrician, on meeting me after long time no see, described himself as "still at the [Hospital Name], beavering away".

Knowing him, my guess is that it wasn't deliberate.
radegund: (Default)
I've just been reading the website of the Australian International Univeristy.

Laughed a lot.
radegund: (blue-pansy)
A stray thought fluttered past my prefrontal cortex just now, and I thought it worth recording.

I hear, on occasion, the truism that the sexism inherent in society is illustrated by the difference in connotation between gendered pairs of words - master/mistress, poet/poetess, bachelor/spinster and so on. (These pairs fascinate me, I confess - particularly the more debatable ones, such as tailor/dressmaker or chef/cook.)

It occurs to me that I've never heard of a male equivalent of the "Dear John letter" - you know, the one that a woman writes to her husband, out on whom she is walking Without a Word of Warning.

[Poll #629978]

The thing that strikes me, you see, is that the application of such a familiar, jokey tag to the notion of an "I'm leaving you" letter reduces it, circumscribes it, makes it less threatening. The "Dear John letter" is not written by a strong woman, striking out for the sunlit uplands: it's all slightly pathetic and drippy and embarrassing, and That's Women For You. You wouldn't take it seriously. Pre-emptive devoicing, as it were.

Or am I wildly off base, here?

And in conclusion:

[Poll #629979]


radegund: (Default)

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