Saturday, September 22, 2007

Female Role Models

Apparently, Charlotte Church has had her baby. George Clooney has broken a rib in a motorcycle accident. And Clint Eastwood had a jam session with a legendary jazz musician, and has met with Neil Armstrong about a possible film about the first man to land on the moon.

In other celebrity news, the collapse of Britney Spears continues apace. She has now been charged with a hit-and-run, and faces the possibility of prison time.


At the outset, I should note that from the sound of things the incident in question, it would appear that actual jail time would be an extremely harsh punishment.

Still, this would make four: Lindsay Lohan faces jail time on drugs charges, Paris Hilton has done time, and Nicole Ritchie likewise. Furthermore, all four (and Charlotte) are noted for their 'wild child' party lifestyles, and assorted other scandal. It's really not a pretty picture.

And these are the role models for young girls.

Dear oh dear.

I mean, honestly, what the hell is going on? Do girls not see how poisonous these individuals are? Do their parents not?

Of course, these aren't the only role models for young girls. There's Jessica Simpson, who's notable for being less talented than Britney. There's Jordan. There's Jade, and Chantelle, neither of whom actually have anything to offer, but are famous for, um, something. There's the Spice Girls, and Girls Aloud.

Honestly, Avril, Christina Aguilera and Pink are looking really good about now.

Now, in the name of balance, I must state that a lot of male role models live the party lifestyle. And the entirety of the 'gangsta rap' and pro-wrestling fields are as dangerous as anything the 'fatal four' get up to.

But, also in the name of balance, you'll have to concede that in the fields of movie stars and sports stars, the males who get held up have talent far in excess of the controversy they generate. There are very few whose extra-curricular exploits have been nearly as scandalous as the lifestyles of Britney, Paris, Nicole and Lindsay. There are none who combine the same level of wildness with the sheer mediocrity evidenced by these four, and many of the others I cited above.

To a certain extent, that's an inherent unfairness in the system: women are judged on looks first and talent second; men on talent first and looks second.

But I'll submit that that has to change. The alternative is too horrible to contemplate.

Passing the Torch

This post is going to place together a whole load of events, people and things that have no business even being mentioned in the same breath. This is not me being disrespectful - I'm drawing a thematic link, rather than trying to suggest parity. Judge me kindly.

A few months ago, I posted about the demise of Dragon and Dungeon magazines. Due to a problem with the European distributors, the final issues of each were delayed; they arrived this morning. Last month, Wizards of the Coast announced the end of the third edition of D&D, in favour of a fourth edition, due in May. Due to the nature of one of the changes that are being made, it is entirely possible that at that point I may well not only not buy the new edition, but indeed stop playing any version of the game.

Last week, Robert Jordan died. At the time, he was working on the long-awaited final volume of his epic "Wheel of Time" series, the largest continuous fantasy series ever. (My standard WoT rant is inappropriate here, of course.) Last year, David Gemmell, my second favourite fantasy author (after Terry Pratchett) died.

A few weeks ago, Luciano Pavarotti died, rendering the world a much quieter place.

And today I attended the retirement celebration for my Advisor of Studies, one of the very best lecturers I had at university. His enthusiasm for his subject was always both obvious and infectious, and the university is all the poorer for his departure.

And my jar of peanut butter just ran out.

It all feels like the legends are leaving us. And it also feels like there isn't anyone or anything to take their place. Where are our great singers of the next generation? Who is going to teach maths to the next generation? And is Dairylea really a substitute for peanut butter?

Basically, what I'm saying is that we need new legends. Now would be a good time.

My treacherous brain

There's a story from a couple of weeks ago that I can't possibly tell here. It involves a moving bus, cups of soup, and the line "if you spill that on me, I'll make you lick it off."

I'm sure you get the idea, although perhaps not the detail of why I can't tell the story.

There is a flip side story, which happened today.

I was at the retirement celebration for my Advisor of Studies from university. Having arrived, I found that I recognised exactly two people in the room. Since Dr Whitelaw, being the centre of attention, was rather busy, I joined the other person at her table. This placed me at a table with a bunch of people who graduated in the Eighties, and one girl who graduated in 2001.

As the conversation neared its end, the (rather cute) girl asked the table at large if they had any plans for the evening.

Three hours later, after I had travelled home, and while I was cooking my fajitas for dinner, my stupid brain decided to furnish me with the absolutely perfect response to this question.

My own brain hates me. Time for a new one, I think.

Monday, September 17, 2007

It's cold outside...

Back in the dim and distant past, there was a truly hilarious comedy show called "Red Dwarf". In the last episode of the first series of this show, the hologram Arnold Rimmer managed to create a second hologrammatic duplicate of himself. The two Rimmers proceeded to move into quarters together, where they were determined to go on a quest to better themselves.

Unfortunately, the petty competitiveness of the two led to them each trying to outdo the other in the most ridiculous of ways. There is one scene, in particular, where they are deciding when to get up the next morning. Early, they agree, but how early?

Eventually, they settle on half past four, a time neither of them wants to get up at, but must accept because neither can bear to be seen as weak in the other's eyes. One of the Rimmers then proceeds to head towards bed, only to be reminded by his duplicate that it's barely after midnight, and that he should put in an hour of study first...

I'm not sure why, but reading about the environmental policies of our various parties always reminds me of that scene.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Of course, there is another theory...

The other theory, of course, is that none of this is real, and I'm actually wired into the Matrix (or some equivalent). Thus, the 'dreams' are actually me starting wake up, in a Neo-esque fashion. This is the same theory that suggests that other people aren't really real (since 6 billion instanced delusions of the world are easier to code than a single shared delusion... if there even are 6 billion 'real' people, and it's not just me.)

In general, I don't put too much credence into that theory either, since it seems unlikely that I'm stuck in a computer game. However, on Friday I mistakenly received a letter intended for someone else on the street. The letter was addressed to the Sims...

Woah, freaky...

Like everyone else, I dream. Like a great many people, I usually don't remember my dreams.

However, on occasion, I'll be going about my daily life, and have the weirdest feeling of deja vu, as the events of my day bear an uncanny resemblance to the events of a dream that I have had, and have remembered, from some months previously. It's a very strange sensation, and always gives me pause.

But that's not the weird part. Of late, the dreams I have remembered are of me going about my daily life, and having the strangest feeling of deja vu. Twice now, therefore, I have been going about my business, doing nothing of consequence, and had the strangest feeling of deja vu... about having the strangest sensation of deja vu! It's all very strange and annoying.

Incidentally, I should note at this point that I don't for a moment subscribe to the notion that deja vu is somehow 'real'. I refuse to believe that, on the grounds that that would mean that the future is already written, that life is deterministic, and that nothing we do has any consequence. Which I object to on the grounds that it annoys me.

Instead, I subscribe to the opinion that when dreaming my subconscious will assemble images of the sorts of things I might do in my general life anyway, and since my days tend to look mostly the same, I eventually hit an event that mostly matches. And, of course, since I now associate dreaming with deva ju, my dreams now insert that sense. See, it all makes sense.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Oh, I almost forgot...

In all the excitement, I almost forgot...

This blog is two years old today! Yay, me!