Archive for November, 2005

Saving face

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

So, face transplants have become a reality. Which got me thinking earlier about how this all might develop in the future. Our identities being deeply intertwined with our appearance, it’s quite a big step to undertake any alterations. The reason most commonly given for seeking facial plastic surgery is to ‘appear more normal’ [ or younger ]. In the future will it be, ‘to appear more like Brad Pitt’? [ Presuming of course Brad is willing to donate his face to a suitable wannabe ]. If facial transplants become a mainstream procedure would it be likely for people to bequeath their faces? Could we see a new phenomeon of posthumous celebrity face auctions on ebay? Would the grateful recipient of Mr Michael Jackson’s visage also receive the running repair kit that goes with it?

I thought about whether I would want to have an alternative face to the one I’ve got, if such a thing were possible. When I was younger I would imagine what it would be like to look like other people – usually those considered to be good looking. These days I’m pretty happy with how I look. Having been fortunate to inherit the eternal youth gene from my beautiful mother, I’ve been lucky not to suffer too much from the sagging, World of Leather look which seems to have afflicted so many of my contemporaries as they move into the twiglet zone. But, if my face were damaged or disfigured I think I would find it pretty difficult to deal with the social attention that would generate. People can be cruel and, in a world where personal appearance is a muti-billion pound economy, being ‘different’ can be difficult. A face transplant in those circumstances, like the one pioneered in France, could be life transforming. Would you swap your face for another?

Wednesday, November 30th, 2005

Mrs Gee Walker, whose son, Anthony, was taken from her in what I can only describe as an act of evil; today showed the world why love will always triumph over hatred.

“Why live a life sentence? Hate killed my son, so why should I be a victim too?”
“Unforgiveness makes you a victim and why should I be a victim? Anthony spent his life forgiving. His life stood for peace, love and forgiveness and I brought them up that way.

What a fanstastic person is Mrs Walker.

New nukes?

Tuesday, November 29th, 2005

I’ve always been pretty anti-nuclear. [ As befits a left leaning Guardian reading eco aware nutmuncher ]. A while ago I saw an interview with James Lovelock, originator of the GAIA principle. [ In essence this holds that ourselves and the whole of our environment are part of a living supersystem – we have a choice to live with this knowledge or ignore it, at our peril ]. Staggeringly, James Lovelock is now in favour of the use of nuclear power. His view is that global warming is proceeding at such a rate that we do not have time to experiment with so called ‘green’ energy sources. We must reduce CO2 now. The problem posed by waste from nuclear power will be as nothing compared with the global catastrophe unleashed by global warming.

I have to say that after Lovelock spoke out I began to shift my view. The ideal, of course, would be for humanity to collectively recognise the need to limit CO2 production and take urgent action to halt and reverse the level of output. This seems about as likely as Bush inviting Saddam to marry one of his daughters. Because of our inability to cooperate internationally in limiting CO2 and because of our addiction to ‘economic growth’, pragmatism seems in order. Using nuclear power could be argued to be the least worst option. Waddya think?

They were only following orders

Monday, November 28th, 2005

“I know, let’s all get naked and fight each other out in a muddy field. I’ll wear a surgeons outfit, my assistant will dress as a schoolgirl and I’ll pummel the loser into unconsciousness.”

Can you imagine your boss suggesting this of a morning?
The closeted world of the Armed Forces is a very strange environment. Sold variously on the basis of, ‘Learn a trade, be a man, drive tanks, shoot guns [ no blood in the recruitment ads of course ], see the world, have Prince Harry as your boss’ etc etc. It seems that the reality is a bit different and ever so slightly kinky. I suppose if you’ve been trained to believe that it’s your duty to the Queen and your Country to go abroad and shoot who you’re told to without question. If you are schooled in that strange military logic that makes you believe you’re ‘just doing your job’ even if that job involves large amounts of carnage. If you truly believe that militarism is the basis of a ‘free’ society – which I suppose you have to if you’re military. Then it’s no wonder your brain might go a bit funny and you seek an outlet for your funny brain by dressing as Dr Feelgood and ordering your subordinates to get their kit off and bash hell out of each other. I’m reminded of the WW1 Blackadder when Edmund tries to escape being sent to the front by sticking a pencil up his nose and pretending to be mad. Nice to know my income tax is funding a good old tradition of public school perversion. No wonder Prince Edward left to join the theatre.

Opinions please
Which of the following sentence endings work best for you when talking about a specific problem in relation to a specific person?

1. “and we would not want you to be disadvantaged.”
2. “and we would like to resolve the issue quickly.”

I’ll explain more later…

Sunday, November 27th, 2005

Stevie’s around
With appearances on Parkinson and Top of The Pops this weekend + extended interview in The Guardian.
Anyone would think he’d got a new album to promote. Who cares – I’m soaking it all up. Best is yet to come; there’s a recorded live concert to be broadcast on Radio 2, 10 December – review here. And a tour is imminent – watch this space. Most moving: his impromptu tribute to daughter Aisha on TOTP – chorus of “Isn’t she lovely”. How lucky is Aisha? Having Stevie as a Dad, having a classic song written about you at your birth and having him sing it to you on stage when you are nearly thirty. [Lump in throat moment]

Saturday, November 26th, 2005

As predicted, Cutecat has become a more frequent caller since the temperature has dropped. His little face appears at the window. He hops in for a little nuzzle and curls up in his favourite chair. This charming scene was today fractured by the realisation that Cutecat had brought some little friends with him. Little friends that decided to suck my blood. Cutecat is now banned again. Even if he did leave me a dead mouse in the garden as a bribe.

A wee quiz

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005

1. Jimmy’s last name.
2. Infamous photographer, divine submersion.
3. Organ of origin – 2 off.
4. Smelly nitric acid base which gentlemen may recall from school.
5. Before inflation this is what it cost.
6. Avoid snow of this colour.
7. …. off = Go …. ?
8. If you were ripping it out, what would you be doing to them?
9. …. up. Involves serving what at the top end?
10. I can’t believe I’ve just published a quiz on this topic, I must be taking the?

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2005

Skippy the bush barbecue
Kanga burger anyone?

While we’re on the theme of systematic abuse of indigenous species, I see that Kruger National Park – whose webcam we have loved – is planning to despatch a large number of it’s star attractions – elephants. This cannot be right. It’s not like there are that many left in the world anyway. What is it with this culling lark.? Bleedin murder by another name.

Rejoice rejoice
It’s been fifteen years

Let's go round again,

Monday, November 21st, 2005

Every time there’s an outrageous killing, be it a child, police officer, old person, ‘hard working family man’ or ‘devoted wife and mother’, the Daily Mail Massive start foaming at the mouth. ‘String em up – it’s the only language they understand. I truly believe that a large number of people in this country would gladly attend grisly public executions if these were carried out.

I’m reminded of a piece of writing given to me many years ago. A bit of it goes like this,

If a child lives with criticism,
He learns to condemn;

If a child lives with hostility,
He learns to fight.

The rest is here

The instinctive reaction when someone is hostile is to react with hostility.
Most people do not want to live in an atmosphere of hostility and violence so it follows that a society based on institutionalised violence will never be free of hostility. We have very well developed technologies for locking people up and killing them. We have crap technologies for changing the way that people think and converting them from violence. ‘Legally’ killing killers is an illusory approach to solving the deeper issue of violence which, like war, represents our collective failure. A failure to build a society where peace and respect for life are actively sought by all. Where people are in some way compelled to take responsibility for their actions from an early age and to behave with decency to each other.
How disturbing that a recent report concluded,
‘Almost every child is affected by bullying and is growing up in a society that sees violence as “the norm” ‘
How ironic that this week is anti bullying week.
How sad that we still need to have one.

Sunday, November 20th, 2005

Anudder Norman Foster building with triangly bits and silver and glass and – well you know the rest.