Saturday, 31 March 2007

A Shameless Steal

A friend published this on his blog a few months ago. I liked it so much, I decided to pinch it. It comes from something called, written by Bill Maher:

As news spreads that teens who pledge chastity have lots more kinky sex, millions of aging boomers ask: Where was Bush when I was in high school?

A new eight-year study just released reveals that American teenagers who take "virginity" pledges of the sort so favored by the Bush administration wind up with just as many STDs as the other kids.

But that's not all -- taking the pledges also makes a teenage girl six times more likely to perform oral sex, and a boy four times more likely to get anal. Which leads me to an important question: where were these pledges when I was in high school?

Seriously, when I was a teenager, the only kids having anal intercourse were the ones who missed. My idea of lubrication was oiling my bike chain. If I had known I could have been getting porn star sex the same year I took Algebra II, simply by joining up with the Christian right, I'd have been so down with Jesus they would have had to pry me out of the pew.

For a bunch of teens raised on creationism, these red state kids today are pretty evolved -- sexually, anyway, and for that they can thank all who joined forces to try and legislate away human nature, specifically the ineluctable urge of teenagers to hump.

Yes, the "What do we tell the children?" crowd apparently decided not to tell them anything. Because people who talk about pee-pees are potty-mouths. And so armed with limited knowledge, and believing regular, vaginal intercourse to be either immaculate or filthy dirty, these kids did with their pledge what everybody does with contracts: they found loopholes. Two of them to be exact.

Is there any greater irony than the fact that the Christian Right actually got their precious little adolescent daughters to say to their freshly scrubbed boyfriends: "Please, I want to remain pure for my wedding night, so only in the ass. Then I'll blow you." Well, at least these kids are really thinking outside the box.

There's a lot worse things than teenagers having sex, namely, teenagers NOT having sex. Here's something you'll never hear: "That suicide bomber blew himself up because he was having too much sex. Sex, sex, sex, non-stop. All that crazy Arab ever had was sex, and look what happened."

Well, that's our story -- of how faith and the party of smaller government combined to turn your kids into a generation of super-freaks. Which shouldn't be surprising: Prohibition didn't work, "Just say no" didn't work, and I understand there's a host of Americans who illegally obtain and smoke marijuana. They're the ones who've been giggling every time I say anal sex.

If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?

This thought occurred to me during the course of the last week: Has it ever dawned on you that you have lost more friends during your life than you currently have?

Some of this is self evident. No-one is going to expect you to be friends now with all of the people you were friends with at the age of 5. Even at the height of Friends Reunited fever I could only recall the names of two friends from back then and one of them was Beverley, my first 'girlfriend'. (Neither of them was on Friends Reunited, either). If, like me, you moved around a lot as a kid then you have practically no chance of keeping up with everyone. And even if you have lived in the same town all your life, other people will have moved on.

Then there are the friends who, through circumstance, you lose touch with. For example, today two good friends of my ex-wife got married. I wasn't invited, nor did I expect to be. I've not heard from either of them since we split up. Similarly, I've not heard from the friends who own this or from any number of her mates that I used to spend a lot of my free time with.

Sometimes, you know you are not in touch with someone because you upset them for some reason. Fortunately, I can't think of many people who fall into this category, although I guess my ex-wife wouldn't have gone off with someone else if I hadn't done something to annoy or offend her.

The ones that I wonder about most, though, are the ones where I have no idea what I have done. Anyone who has read my other blog will know that I met my current wife at a wine tasting when a friend of mine could not attend. I've not heard from that friend in over six months and I have no idea why. When I get in touch, she tells me she is really busy and will get back to me soon, but she never does. Then their is my best friend from university, who I have not heard from at all since January 2001. I met him and his girlfriend for lunch, we spoke a couple of times on the phone in the week after, then nothing. What did I do?

Most puzzling at all is the friend I have lost touch with in the last few weeks, since I got married again. She was invited to the wedding and sadly couldn't make it. Now she is not only avoiding me, she's doing it in a really obvious way. And it is hard to ask someone what you have done wrong when they are not talking to you.

To end on a positive note, over the last 12 months I have actually reversed the trend, in that I think I have made more friends than I have lost. Some of these are people I knew slightly and with whom my relationship has grown closer than I ever could have imagined it would. Some of them are people I have met through my wife, who has a fantastic circle of friends (and arguably a very dodgy taste in husbands). And there are even one or two entirely new mates in there, too. I hope to keep bucking the trend for a lot longer, but if anyone I mentioned in paragraphs 2 to 6 want to get in touch, I'd love to hear from you.

When Lawyers Strike

I loved this article from the Times today. Apart from the obvious humour, consider the sheer cheek of a journalist writing this:

The lawyers sat in a line in the courtyard of the Lahore High Court, sweating slightly in their black suits and gowns and eyeing their colleagues’ mid-morning tea and biscuits with envy.

“Hunger strikers,” explained Azam Nazir Tarar, a leading member of the Bar Association in this southern Pakistani city, with something of a flourish.

Across the courtyard, dozens more lawyers were poring over newspapers, handing around leaflets and chatting earnestly in clipped, English tones about the recent dismissal of the Chief Justice of Pakistan.

It was, by Pakistani standards, the most genteel of political protests: the “hunger strikers” were taking it in turns to fast for one day, from 9am to 4pm — in effect, missing their lunch.

In fairness, the actual article is quite serious and can be read here

Welcome to the Ministry of Justice

One of the best things about being a minister in any government is that, if you find yourself with a problem, as a general rule you are in a position to fix it, or at least to make the problem go away.

Here in the UK, we have a lovely man named Dr John Reid as our Home Secretary - equivalent to something like the Minister for Internal Affairs. Of course, I mean lovely in the sense of 'person you wouldn't spit on if he were on fire, in fact you would add more petrol'. I'm not sure that he is actually more evil or mendacious than any other politician, but he's more obvious about it. Which is nice, because it saves you expending valuable seconds of your life wondering if he can be trusted (before you remember he's an MP and slap yourself for being stupid). In short, he's one of life's instantly hateable people.

A few weeks ago, it seemed that Dr Reid was at last going to get his comeuppance. His department deals with all sorts of boring roles, like making sure prisoners stay locked up. You wouldn't think that this would be all that difficult. In fact, Dr Reid had to admit that, not only did prisoners regularly escape, but his department had no accurate figures for how many had escaped. Think about this for a moment. Either this means that not only do they not know how many prisoners have escaped, they have no idea how many they were supposed to have in the first place, or it means that Dr Reid is too stupid to subtract the number they actually have from the number they are supposed to have and get the right answer. Either way, we seemed to have put our criminal justice system into the hands of a cretin.

Then it got even better. Not content with operating an open door policy for prisoners ("Yeah, drop in any time you are passing, guys"), Dr Reid then decided that, actually, the prisons were too full anyway. Ignoring the fact that, if he just carried on as normal then the jails would eventually empty themselves anyway, he asked judges to stop sending convicted criminals to jail. For the first time in my life I was glad we hadn't caught Bin Laden, because Dr Reid-iculous would have had him doing community service, probably with disadvantaged Muslims in Leeds.

Predictably, all of this made people wonder if Dr Reid was competent to dress himself, let alone run a major government department. The announcement this week that the Home Office was going to be split in two was therefore an astonishing admission by him that, basically, the complex task of locking people in a cell and making sure they stayed there was beyond him to organise.

To give credit where it is due, John Reid clearly isn't as stupid as you might now think he is (although he undoubtedly more stupid than he thinks he is), because he has hived off all of the things he was being criticised for. Which leaves him free to concentrate on the remaining objectives of the Home Office. This is the point at which I panic, because those things are immigration, terrorism and security. Frankly, Osama might as well check into the Headingley Holiday Inn now.

Thursday, 29 March 2007

The Death of the Blog

Newspapers these past couple of weeks have been full of stories about how the blog is dying, people are moving away from them in favour of the joys of YouTube, MySpace and Facebook. In which case, why am I bothering to start a new one?

I guess there are two reasons. The first is that the blog isn't really dying. Yes, plenty of people start them and never continue with them. Heck, I've got a blog I started two years ago and then forgot all about. I had other things going wrong at the time and the blog came low down the list of priorities. Then I started the other three blogs and that one completely slipped my mind. But not everyone will be like that. The majority of the blogs cited as 'dead' were never that interesting to start with. Did anyone really want to read the thoughts of Lindsay Lohan anyway? Eventually, they even bored their creators. And it is not coincidence that people have moved to the sites above. In the same way that people nowadays prefer television to reading, writing a blog is just too much like hard work compared to watching or making a video. Basically, if your blog is dying, you probably didn't love the written word that much anyway.

The second reason? Well, about 9 months ago I started a blog called 116 Days and Counting. The intention was to track the progress of my impending wedding, from engagement to divorce. I ha this great idea that, instead of having to keep answering people who asked how things were going, I could just point them in the direction of the blog. What actually happened was that I spent more time defending the blog than I did writing the thing. I somehow managed to produce reading for people who hated what I was writing. Which hopefully is the closest I will ever get to being Jeffrey Archer.

This, on the other hand, is a blog with no purpose, other than to provide somewhere for me to deposit all of the random things that go through my brain. If anyone reads it, that's a bonus. If they like it, double bonus. The important thing is that this blog is going to live.