Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Reflections of Drunken Adventures

5 day-long ones, even. I will switch to copy typing my notes:

I have, this end-August Bank Holiday weekend, discovered I am not suited to festivals. The main reasons can be summed up quite succinctly. Firstly? I don't like camping. Second? I don't like the festival music scene

[I didn't know this before heading off, of course. It's all about discovery - Ed.]

I scribble, rather than type, in one of the tiny notebooks I try to keep secreted about my person. To elaborate:

Camping is plain not my scene. I don't get a kick out of tents: either 'living' or sleeping in them. Although my cheap [8 squids] tent has been nothing but dependeable. And there's a great deal to say in favour of waking up in a piece of vaguely idyllic countryside every morning. Even if you were woken by an insistent sun turning your tent into a greenhouse. Great place to live, but I seriously do not want to live here. Like I have been doing [for 4 days]. Although I'm impressed with how well I've managed, living with insects and small arachnids as a matter of course is not sustainable. So yes, camping is not really my (sleeping) bag.

But festival life is much more disagreeable. Music-wise there is obviously a large variety, but it's a lot more impersonal compared to the small, local gigs I prefer. On that note, the epic magnitude of the event seems to bring out the worst in people. I will highlight but a few strong, reoccurring incidents:

* Men whacking their cocks out in the middle of a field and pissing into any nearby recepticle. This was, where possible, often followed by the apparently ever popular see-how-far-I-can-throw-this-cup-into-a-crowd-of-dancers-it'll-be-well-funny-even-though-loads-of-people-have-already-done-it-this-song.

* People with more money than sense and less sense than amoebas. Concequences of this being people passed out off theiir faces on a random substance and/or dressed in as much overpriced tack and merchandise as possible.

* People who will up music venues standing still. Now, I can't talk as I sit on the extreme end of the spectrum. I'd bop to a funeral dirge if it had a good beat. However, I would do so out of the way of people who wanted to be all stoic. I would not fight my way into a prime position to act like a slack-jawed yokel or concentrate on waving my large, pointless flag.

I am a self-confessed music snob, and proud of it. And I don't think my opinions are right, but they're mine which means they're pretty fucking good. I have no respect for people whom, during one of the two live gigs Rage Against the Machine will do this year (if not forever more) in this country, fail to dance. Or people who come to the bar. Or, even, sit down and watch. This is a paradigm busting, massive headliner of a band. If you weren't fully arsed about getting involved, I don't want to know you. And I am happy to rip you off for drinks, as a sign of that total non-respect.

I prefer smaller gigs, where the bands aren't stick figures and where I am not surrounded by thousands of people who barely care about the music. I was working behind one of the main bars for Queens of the Stone Age and then Rage Against the Machine, but I showed more enthusiasm than most people who had actually paid to come and see them. And that, more than anything, is why festivals don't do it for me.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Paxman Rides Again...

This story warmed me greatly as I was stuck at Leeds Festival, away from all idea of civilisation.

Paxman really does not give one solitary shit, which is highly respectable. And, given his background, is always careful to qualify his remarks which is vital.

MF shows the typical head-in-the-sand mentality associated with the feminine agenda in the media. That and, of course, misdirection. She points out Johnothon Ross, Ian Hislop, Paul Merton and Paxman himself. Essentially Paxman was talking about people in high up jobs within media, rather than personalities, and MF could come back with no real retort to this point, preferring instead to trot out the old platitudes. Women are oppressed in certain arenas, there's no doubt about that. But men face troubles, too, which is something MF and her ilk seem pretty hesitant to accept as a possibility.

I will be blogging my five days at Leeds Festival soon. Right now, I haven't slept in 28 hours. Priorities, priorities.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

The Olympics

I don't like the Olympics. Period, really. That's not to say I dislike them very much, I just have a very strong lack of opinion for them. I probably don't like more the way in which the Olympics are viewed more than anything. I am vaguely miffed that winning a few medals in a four-yearly event can inspire national pride when the few actual good things we do cannot, but that's neither here nor there. And say what you like about football, but at least it's accessible. Some of the sports we're winning medals in are hardly something a bunch of kids can run out and get involved in. Sailing - expensive. Cycling - given mums and dads are worried almost full time about the welfare about their kids, they may be hesitant to let them go out and race around the surrounding roads on bikes. Obviously, the case of Mr. Foy (bought a old BMX, went out and won stuff, etc.) is tabloid inspirational, but it's not that clear cut, is it? Swimming - thanks to the past two governments, most of our indoor and outdoor pools have been gotten rid of anyway, as frequently pointed out in Private Eye. At least kids can still, more of less, go out with a ball and have a kick about.

The things which irk me about the current Olympics are the fact that the IOC are a bunch of impotent bastards when it comes to China's blatant promise breaking (although the mischief caused by Channel4 News has almost been worth putting up with the massive human rights abuses. See those IOCers squirm... ) and that the British success just adds weight to the 2012 Olympics, which have already run massively over budget and sucked up mounds of funds they weren't supposed to. I'm all for sports: partaking in them can promote well-bring; self esteem; happiness and sometimes even self-worth. But, in an Olympic context especially, they're not the be all and end all. As an ex-actor and still sometime-artist, I despair at the cash that will be snatched away from these disciplines to fill the Olympic void.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Panorama 18/08/08

Panorama today is about The so-called Post Code Lottery. And, by proxy, the good old NHS. Obviously, in this case, it is anti-NHS.

I've said it before and will say it again. I don't like bureaucracy. I hate it with a passion, in fact. Especially within healthcare. But, I don't necessarily agree with the programme. Whereas I think it's harsh that someone in one area of a city can get a certain treatment whilst another person elsewhere can not, this is not a black and white situation. It's local decision making at work.

Now, despite the fact that Panorama has been dumbed down a bit, it's still a good investigative journal. But today, I can't help but feel it's being rather tabloid. It takes headlines and blows them up. It takes young people with their lives ahead of them and turns on the waterworks and violins. It picks TV-OK examples and tries to warm - or chill, in this respect - the cockles of the heart. It's a bit of a cheap shot at a complicated issue.

NICE exists and is a necessary evil. And, although the people who work for NICE are not fully paid, you couldn't pay me to do their job. As any textbook will tell you, the NHS is a funny old game. Finite pot of money VS. masses and masses of problems. NICE try to make that work, somehow. But obviously, it filters down the system. And there are traps, sieves and gutters until it gets down to the people who matter: the patients. These traps, sieves and gutters actually count as the much trumpeted local-decision-making.

See, back in the day there was once a land of central decision making. And then people wanted to dissolve power to local authorities. And the-powers-that-be did so. And then, this happens.

I don't know what the perfect outcome is. Some people will complain if you give too much power to consultants, like Panorama suggested should happen. Some people will complain if you give too much money to mandarins. Some if you give it to politicians. The bottom line of this day and age seems to be: Your life is worth about £30,000 a year. And that's just economics. Medicine is economics, like it or not, and the NHS will never suit everyone.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Imagine if...

... we lived in a universe where the idea contained within this story could work out soon.

Any hope of a treatment for HIV/AIDs should be gripped with both hands, clearly (even if the more cynical among us would point out it would make Big Pharma even richer than they already are). The science behind it is, from a geekish point of view, fascinating and could even help make people ill with different diseases and disorders better, too. Hope does, indeed, spring eternal. Come on, science. Do it for the good guys...

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

More Rape Based News

Like the title says, more news. Anyone watching any sort of extended news broadcast today would've seen this story.

A rape victim who was told her compensation would be cut because she had been drinking before the attack has had the decision overturned.

I do so hate sounding like a bastard, but I do have a slight problem with the context of the story. I don't want to get into the rights and wrongs of compensation for crimes. This idea that: 'Well, we - the police - were not really around at the time of the crime, which is our fault, so here's some money to make up for it.' *

I have a number of thoughts about this case (only this one, as I don't know much more about the other 14). The story mentions the woman in question had been drinking 'excessively'. Whether this is over the typical 3 drink limit to make a binge, or whether it is actually excessive is not something I know, but it is at least hinted she may have had more than a swift half. Now, to say having a few drinks means the woman in question was 'asking for it' is fucking Neanderthal thinking and shouldn't be given the time of day, however; I'd be curious to see how 'excessive' alcohol consumption reflects on other compensation cases. For example, if someone had a few two many drinks and left their front door unlocked and only to have their home completely burgled, would they be penalised for that? Obviously these are completely different crimes, but legislation has to deal with this idea on an equitable basis. Consuming alcohol involves giving up a measure of control with your own consent. And although going out on the streets on a Saturday night may prove otherwise, this is not something to be taken lightly. There are plenty of risks attached in taking such a choice and unfortunately there are plenty of people to take advantage of people who take said risks.

I'm not really making any definitive conclusions or points, just noodling. But we have two people and one of this pair do something that makes them more vunerable and less in control of a situation, should that make a difference in how they're dealt with by the courts? I'm not sure.


* Obviously, I'm being glib. Things are more complicated than this, but the point still stands, no matter how lighthearted it may be.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Book Review

It is my adorably optimistic aim to read a book a week over these 8 weeks off. On average, since some weeks won't involve anything near a book.

Last week I finished:

TRANSCULTURAL CONCEPTS In Nursing Care: Second Edition (1995)by Margaret M. Andrews and Joyceen S. Boyle, J.B. Lippincott Company: Philadelphia

On the plus side I received this book as a gift, which means it's all mine. That gives me the option to underline, note and scribble endlessly in it, which is one of my guiltishly geeky pleasures.

So, what's it like? Well, it was a gift. I would not have bought this book, personally. It's old (most of the sources are from the 80s, making their reliability and relevance questionable) and American, which means it refers to processes and - more importantly - cultures and sub-cultures which are not very prevalent in this country. I am, for example, unfortunately not going to meet many Native Americans in my neck of the woods. Whereas I am statistically more likely to look after men and women of Arab descent, a culture not greatly covered in the book.

So it has it's down sides. Generally, if taken with a pinch of NHS salt the book is an interesting and valuable insight into the ideas behind transcultural nursing and does provide a few relevant examples that prove useful. Did you know, for example, that people of Asian descent find blowing one's nose to be rude, and consider sniffling more polite? Interesting stuff.

Would I recommend this book? To check out from the library, certainly, but not to buy. There may also be a later edition or even a British analogue out there which would be a much more sensible idea. Most certainly better than a kick in the teeth, though.