Friday, March 30, 2007


Here's something that leaves a really unpleasant taste in the mouth: the harassment of Kathy Sierra. The comments that were posted about her were not only of an extreme nature, but seemed to hinge especially on the fact that she is a woman in the world of information technology. As a female web developer, this scares me. It's bad enough being hassled for being a geek, without people hassling us for being girl-geeks as well. The comments and threats made against her were completely unacceptable.

I don't know if the answer is a code of conduct for internet use - the problem is, it should be completely obvious how to behave on the internet (hint: it's the same rules as face-to-face interaction) but despite all the rules and guidelines you see on forums and mailing lists and the obviousness of how to behave, you still get the occasional troll who cannot write civil posts and fails to show any consideration for others' feelings.

1984 anyone?

Has anyone else noticed a disturbing echo of the world of Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four in the title of the new Ministry of Justice?

After all, we already have Newspeak. Look how Bush and Blair have managed to turn "Freedom" and "Democracy" into dirty words. And we already have Doublethink - remember the sexed-up dossier?

"War is peace
Freedom is slavery
Ignorance is strength"

Friday, March 16, 2007


Mrs Morrison (yes, the Mrs Morrison) has a very scary story about purity balls and people not being allowed to say "vagina" (even though they were performing The Vagina Monologues at the time - er well what did they do about the "cunt" monologue then??? or don't Americans know what that word means?). Isn't the whole point of The Vagina Monologues to remove the taboo surrounding the word, so that we can all celebrate our vaginas?

A purity ball, apparently, is where you get all dolled up like a third-rate bridesmaid and pledge to your dad that you will keep your virginity until you are married. Eeeeuuuwwwww!!!! As Patricia says, that is so Freudian! I mean, okay, underage sex is bad, because of the power issues and the fact that you haven't got the wherewithal or the knowhow to achieve orgasm at that age, but pre-marital sex is good. To co-opt the "goods" analogy, it's a case of "try before you buy"...

There's another excellent blog post about the concept by a dad, who, I am glad to say, echoes Patricia's and my feelings on this.

I am horrified that this kind of medieval nonsense exists in the 21st century. They'll be bringing back chastity belts next.

Thursday, March 08, 2007


At last, conservative Christians can relax - their children will no longer have to use that dreadful, biased, obviously Wiccan Wikipedia (the clue's in the name, folks!) to do their homeschool projects. Now they can use Conservapedia instead. It contains everything you ever wanted to know about creationism, including baramins (sounds like some kind of indigestion pill to me, but there you go). The entry on kangaroos reveals the little known fact that they are actually from the Middle East. There's also some wonderful entries on American presidents (none of your unpatriotic or unchristian Wikipedia-style entries of course). And none of that nasty unAmerican spelling (like Habsburg or colour). I wonder if they have an entry on Freedom Fries?

I mean, it's one thing having a special-interest wiki for people of various religious and spiritual traditions (and other special interest groups) - it's quite another having one specially to peddle idiotic nonsense about creationism. Ah well, I suppose it provides the rest of us with a laugh.

I like the idea that Wikipedia is a Wiccan production (mwahahaha! we are everywhere, you cannot escape our tentacles of power) - never let the truth get in the way of a good story.

However, as wiki is a Hawaiian word, and the Feri and Reclaiming traditions of witchcraft are in part based upon Hawaiian traditions, maybe there is a connection.....

In other news, it has been revealed that Jesus is actually God's nephew.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007


We went to see The Illusionist the other day, and it was brilliant. Whilst there were a few superficial similarities to The Prestige (both films involve stage magic), The Illusionist is a much nicer film, and the surprise twist at the end leaves you feeling good about humanity instead of despairing (which was the effect of the surprise twist at the end of The Prestige).

The Illusionist has a fairy-tale quality: boy meets beautiful princess and they pledge undying love, then she gets engaged to a prince she doesn't love.... (I can't of course tell you the outcome as that would spoil the surprise). The production values and the acting were excellent, and a lot of it was filmed in Prague (even though it's set in Vienna), and as I love Prague, this was good. I recognised several locations as places I had visited. All in all, highly recommended. (Unless you are one of those people with not an ounce of romance in your shrivelled soul.)

57% sinful

Your Deadly Sins
Gluttony: 80%
Lust: 80%
Sloth: 80%
Greed: 60%
Envy: 40%
Wrath: 40%
Pride: 20%
Chance You'll Go to Hell: 57%
You'll die from food poisoning - and then the natives will feast on your fatty limbs.

(Found via Sionnach, who only got 28% - lightweight...

Friday, March 02, 2007

China girl

I just finished reading A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers, by Xiaolu Guo. I hate writing book reviews, but I have to tell you how brilliant this book is. It is by turns hilarious, poignant, observant and witty. Each chapter is headed by a new word learnt by the heroine, Zhuang, and the chapter tells of the experience relating to the new word. Experiences range from mystification at the weird stuff English people eat, to failures of communication with her noncommittal English lover (who thinks equality and freedom are excuses for not committing to anything, especially relationships). There's lots of philosophical musings in it as well as food, sex, plants and vocabulary. It's like a cross between Bridget Jones and Bill Bryson, but written from the point of view of a 24-year-old Chinese woman who is abroad for the first time.

photos and privacy

Owing to concerns about privacy, I have made all the photos on my Flickr account friends and family only. If you want to view them, you'll have to get a Flickr account and add me (yewtree) as a contact. Then, if I know you, I will add you as a contact.