Twitter helped Haiti…Iran…whatever…

While I have been using twitter, I have seen the tweets coming inside civil unrest, that hasn’t made my mainstream news. I have read tweets from inside some of the biggest news events in the past year.  I saw the pictures of the inside of Tehran University  minutes after the Basji left. I have seen some of the highest quality articles, about issues that I didn’t even know were being reported on. I have received them, within hours of being written.I have seen self congratulatory articles, about ‘twitter revolutions’, and twitter saving lives. I have seen articles dismissing Twitter as a passing fad. I I have seen articles warning of the dangers of facebook, the dangers of Youtube.Twitter did not rescue people in Port Au Prince. Twitter did not have a revolution in Iran(especially given the last revolution in Iran, was the year after I was born). Facebook is not dangerous.  Twitter may be a passing fad, but it will only pass when a new tool, which has a wider reach, and is more effective, comes along.Social networking is just a tool for communication. It has changed the way people communicate, beyond all recognition. It has given people the tools to connect to each other, in a way that could never have been imagined. That doesn’t make it any less a tool, than say, a telephone. We are clear that the telephone is a means by which we communicate, but it is people, who do the communication, so we don’t give the telephone credit, or congratulate ourselves on being clever enough to use it.Twitter, facebook, email. All just tools we use to communicate. Changing the way we communicate, no doubt. Allowing more people to communicate with each other, in ways that could never have been imagined, definitely. We do need some perspective though. This new way of communicating, is here to stay-but it is a tool. When you see articles about how ‘Twitter’ rescued ‘quake victims’, substitute the word ‘Twitter’ with ‘people’. Twitter didn’t do anything. People did. People can do amazing things, if you give them the tools.

Breastfeeding on the bus.

I breastfed Rachel.In those early months, demand breastfeeding is hardwork. I have had my waps out in just about every setting you can imagine. I have had em out in Tesco, I have had em out in the cafe at M+S, I occasionally had to feed her on the bus.  I fed her in the filing room at work, I fed her in the park. The alternative being the stomach churning shriek of a hungry infant.I am quite a bolshy sort of a girl. I generally speak my mind, don’t suffer fools gladly, and react quite harhsly to what I ‘perceive’ as unfair criticism. If I had ever once, in those early months, had someone object to me feeding my baby, I think I would have curled up and cried.Learning to get on with your day, with a baby who wants feeding almost constantly, is hard work. Getting used to being  sat with your milky boobs out, in public places. You miss being able to wear bras that aren’t stained, with flaps on them to allow a baby easy access. All of a sudden, the whole world feels qualified to offer you unsolicited ‘advice’ on the job that noone has trained you for. THis is all while suffering sleep deprivation, that if you were a prisoner of war, would trigger a letter writing campaign from amnesty.I don’t think I have ever been more tired, or more vulnerable than in those early months.It is a credit to the British public, and their attitude to breastfeeding, that I don’t recall a single incident where anyone  came out and told me to stop feeding my baby.In fact, when I add up the cafes who cut up my food, the people who smiled in encouragement, the places that allowed me to sit there for an hour, with a glass of juice-while Rachel fed. I think we have a lot to be proud of.Sod policies about encouraging breastfeeding, and discussion about whether discretion is appropriate. If you tell a mother feeding her baby, that you object. You are a bully. That is it. Plain and simple. No debate. End of.And this bus driver should be ashamed of himself.

No longer surprised. Wankers.

”Credit Default Swaps”, ”iTraxx SovX Western Europe index”-terms that mean nothing to me.Great way to describe tools  which allow banks to bet on the failure of the nations whose economies they have crippled. Noone will ever notice, if you use words noone understands.When George Osborne is relying on ‘wealthmakers’ to resurrect our economy, shouldn’t he be asking who they are ‘making wealth’ for? He says he will be tougher than Thatcher. Tougher on who?

Nuts

I was sat in the bath the other day with Rachel. We do this a lot. She is used to seeing me naked. Sitting in the bath with a curious three year old can raise some very interesting questions. For instance, she was quite interested to know whether I was aware that her dad, brothers AND my boyfriend, had willies. She knew this, because her dad had told her that he had a willy because he was a boy. She was quite surprised that I knew this before she told me.She thinks its very funny that I have boobies, while she has pimples. She thinks its even more amusing that daddy is a boy and has bigger boobies than I do.She is quite curious. She has figured out that there are differences between a her body and mine- and the differences between boys bodies and hers, amuse her no end. She has tried to peeing standing up, like her friend Sam, and got very upset when she couldn’t make the wee wee land anywhere but the puddle on the floor. She is getting quite confused over why willies, and marys(I did not invent this word-I blame my sister) have hair on them.I am ok with this-there have been no awkward questions that I can’t answer. Her dad has been slightly perturbed when she has tried to grab his penis and take it to the other end of the bath…..I have nothing so grabbable. Occasionally one has to remove oneself from the room to laugh, but I had no worries about this aspect of parenting.I figured, bring her up in a house where nakedness not an issue. Dont talk about food in terms of weight loss. End result-relatively well adjusted child, few body issues. Great.I wasn’t prepared for how to deal with porn. Not at 3.Rachel likes a magazine every now and again. Cbeebies helpfully market magazines aimed at 2 year olds- they stick a load of their favourite characters on teh cover, include some stickers, and a plastic toy- charge you 2.99 for privelege. I object to this a bit. I cant really afford it all the time, and its a bit ridiculous that magazines are cynically targeted at children in this way-but am not bothered enough not to buy them. Its a nice treat. She gets excited when she gets one. I like it when she is happy.I dont quite like it so much when 3 feet away from the magazines marketed at her- there is porn. Images of over inflated, waxed to oblivion women, – in all variety of tacky soft porn type ‘costume'(or in one notable example recently- bent over waiting to be penetrated with a black box barely photoshopped over her genitals). On newspapers, in relatively mainstream magazines. This is not nakedness. I have no problem with nakedness. The male fantasy of girl on girl action, not just alluded to, but on the cover of Nuts magazine-with two celeb wannabe girls, feeling each others artifially augmented breasts, not for their own pleasure-but for the titillation of their adolescent(in mind, at the very least) readership is not nakedness. Someone tell me how to explain the difference between these images and nakedness to a 3 year old.’Mummy-why is that woman bent over, mummy that lady has a witch costume like mine, but why are her boobies sticking out?(followed later by Rachel trying to pull down her halloween dress, so her ‘boobies’ would show).If someone could also explain why porn being so far into the mainstream, that I have to explain it to a 3 year old, and that it will form part of her image of women- is ok, I would like that. I would quite like it if any objection to this on my part, wasn’t dismissed as me being uptight about nakedness, or as this blogger found, evidence of a lack of ‘c*ck’. And could somebody please put the porn on the top shelf, or at least on a different shelf to Balamory bloody magazine.I dont expect the world to stop because I have a child. I dont advocate censorship of music lyrics, just cos I dont want to have to explain stuff.  But porn? Surely there is a line somewhere? Surely, its not ok that porn is part of the landscape for a bloody 3 year old. I want her to know about the human body, about sex. But porn isnt about either of those things, is it?

Newspapers

Thursday is lie in day. Other people have Sundays, I have Sundays occasionally, but Thursday is my day.Cup of tea. Read headlines.I go through my RSS newsfeeds. One for most major news organisations, some with more than one feed, I open tabs for all the headlines I am interested in. I start reading. I probably only glance at some articles, maybe skim read others. Other take my interest, and lead me to open a few new windows. Some I store for later. I might retweet a link to something on twitter, I might blog about an issue that bothers me, go look for the original source cited in an article, and comment directly on an article. I can check out several perspectives on any given piece of news-immediately. This interaction means that higher and higher standards of journalism are expected, and weaknesses in reporting become apparent almost immediately.It takes less time than reading an entire newspaper used to. Cost is no longer a factor.I can’t quite believe I take for granted having the entire worlds news at my fingertips. My entire view of the media, and the way I use the media has changed in ways I couldn’t have imagined.I don’t know whether it’s a bad thing that I don’t consume an entire newspaper the way I used to. Perhaps we are raising a generation of skim readers. I can’t help thinking that picking and choosing from the entire worlds media, probably gives me a better perspective than my slavish dedication to one particular newspaper.This does not bode well for print media though.I want the newspapers I know and trust, and I want them online. But I am not paying for them, and if noone is paying for them, then how do they remain viable? With music, the price has adjusted and you pay a smaller unit price, because the format is smaller, easier to reproduce, but still commercially viable. Newspapers were never really overpriced, and if a website asks me to pay for an article, I look for another article.There is the temptation to say this is good for the consumer. But how long can an industry survive, if consumers expect unlimited access to the news, higher standards, and interaction-for free? If I had to pay for it, I probably couldn’t afford it, but now it feels like being denied something I have a right to. I know I never had a ‘right’ to it before, and logically it doesn’t follow that I do. But being denied information on the basis of income doesn’t sit right either.

Bob Marshall Andrews

The answer Bob Marshall Andrews, MP, gave on Any Questions in the week after Baby P, when asked about the case-BOB MARSHALL-ANDREWSCan I address the question directly because it is an extremely interesting question because it centres on class and class structures and the protections that were within class structures? The working class of which I certainly had some considerable experience, the working class had its own solidarity, its own communities and within that solidarity and those communities there were disciplines that existed. The question that you are addressing is whether we now have a dysfunctional group and class of people who it is extremely difficult in those circumstances to monitor and to deal with and the answer to the question simply I think is yes very much so. Our class structures have changed almost beyond recognition for a large number of reasons. Now having said that and which is directly relevant to it can I just say something about social workers? Because as a politician it is sometimes tempting to welcome the idea that there is a class of people that are more loathed than you are. (LAUGH) But may I just say something for social workers. Social workers do an ill paid job, a vocational and dedicated job in the most difficult and trying of circumstances. They, day by day, live with dangerous violent, dysfunctional, manipulative and deceitful people. They have to take agonizing decisions not about what is best for a child but what is least worst for a child that they see. Those are not decisions that I would wish to take and the other thing that they have to live with as well is the prospect of being pilloried and vilified in hate filled campaigns by some elements of our national popular press which is not something which adds to the national debate at all, egged on by editors sitting in highly paid offices who would not be driven down the streets in which these social workers operate let alone get out of the cars that they are in and one of the most (APPLAUSE) distasteful things in the whole of the dreadful saga of Baby P was in the press conference which was held by the Minister Ed Balls in an atmosphere, a quiet atmosphere of horror as people contemplated the pain and the torture that was inflicted upon this child before they died in it. In the course of the conference a reporter no doubt on the instructions of his Editor attempted in a question to glean some credit for the Sun newspaper. It was a despicable thing to do and I am very sorry that my Minister Mr. Balls did not have the courage (LAUGH) in these circumstances to treat that question with the contempt that it deserved.I just had a conversation which reminded me that there are honorable politicians, which is not something I forget, but is something which I take for granted.(PS.Sorry about fonts, I don’t know how to fix)

Norman Tebbit again…

..actually, I remembered something I did want to say about Lord Tebbit.He was on Any Questions last week, discussing the culture of blaming rape victims. He said that if a woman goes to a man’s room, she cannot reasonably expect the law to be able to prosecute if she is raped.He has a point. The law is completely ineffective in dealing with sex crimes. Beyond reasonable doubt is almost impossible to achieve in prosecutions of sex crimes with no witnesses. More so, in a culture which views women and sex the way ours does.If you go to a man’s room, and he rapes you, there are no  legal systems in place which will enforce your right to not have your body violated, and it is very easy to create reasonable doubt. Once I am in that room, even if I went to borrow a book, there is reasonable doubt, because I was there.The principle that I can say no, at any time before, or during penetration, has never been upheld in a British court, because it can’t be.Essentially, men in this country have the freedom to rape any woman they choose, if she has been drinking, or she has at any point flirted with him, in public. It isn’t that hard to create a ‘reasonable doubt’.Reasonable men, do not do this. Reasonable men have control over their penises, and can stop at any time. Men who can not do this are not reasonable men, they are rapists. It is an insult to the men in our society, to suggest otherwise. The law offers women no protection from rapists, and it’s limitations give a checklist of factors, which mean these ‘men’ can easily identify women to rape with impunity.Norman Tebbit wasn’t actually talking about inadequacies in law being a problem.Twat.

Gordon Brown ‘Bullying’.

Gordon Brown has been accused of being a bully. As he has been portrayed as a fairly dour, browbeaten sort of a chap so far, this was not wholly surprising.We need to be clear here, if the leader of your country, has been accused of bullying, its a problem. I am sorry, but it is. I know its weeks before an election, I know that the ‘bullying helpline‘ feature a Cameron quote, and a Widdecombe quote on their website, and have two Tory patrons. I didn’t say, that I believed this charity’s motivation was pure- but if the allegation has substance,  it has to be dealt with. Sorry. Thats above party politics. Or it should be.In terms of the election, I don’t think this is the boon that the Conservative party think it is.See, I wasn’t actually that surprised about the allegations. Not because I have secret insider information(yeah, Gordon has been popping round to beat me up!)-but because he didn’t have that great an image to start with. However much Mandy and Campbell want his ‘personality’ brought to the fore, Browns approval, or otherwise, has never been about image. Image was Blair’s arena. However misleading that image may have been.Labour are fighting their own record, and the record of Gordon Brown’s predecessor. Oddly enough, like the Hoon and Hewitt ‘leadership challenge‘,  this episode seems to have reinforced a perception of Brown, as a strong leader, with a party united behind him. People appear to interpret bullying, as strength, which is a quality, one could argue, they are seeking from a leader in this climate. Besides, who hasn’t seen Thick of It?On the other hand, the Conservative Party, are fighting this entire election on David Cameron’s image. They are hoping that Dave will be so personally appealing, we won’t notice that behind the rhetoric, it appears that Cameron and Osborne are presenting a Thatcherite manifesto, as compassion.The championing of the underdog doesn’t sit well, when it is coming from the party who have historically felt more irritation at the nations pesky employees demanding employment rights, and who apparently don’t have a problem with the same issue, when its one of their people. Especially not on the day that they announced the plan to get the taxpayer, to pay off our bank’s debts again. Peoples scepticism at their sincerity, will not be soothed by the discussion, about their level of involvement in this. We like to pretend that elections aren’t fought this way.Electorally speaking, this is a storm in a teacup. Which is a shame, because if the Prime Minister has treated his staff this way, it is unacceptable.