Thursday, 21 August 2008

Is teenage pregnancy as sad a misfortune as we think?

Young women across the whole of the less economically developed world have children at very young ages as happened in the west before industrialisation (and equal opportunities) came into play.  We don't condemn rural peasant cultures where marriage and motherhood commence shortly after puberty, and even if we wish it were not so, then generally we appreciate the reasons for it - shorter life expectancy, lack of state social welfare provision, lack of health care, lack of education, lack of alternative lifestyle choices etc.
Here in the west tho single teenage motherhood is viewed by those not involved as a bad thing even when there are no economic costs to society - generally because of the notion that very young mums are damaging their own potential life chances and consequently those of their infants.
But as we all know, over the past couple of decades it has become harder not easier for people to climb out of the socio-economic position they have been born into.  A young girl born poor has little chance of becoming not-poor whether she becomes a teenage mum or not.  In fact, research has found that poor teenage mums have very similar earnings trajectories to similarly poor young women who wait until their mid or late 20s to begin a family.  These days having a baby at 14/15/16/17/18 does not economically disadvantage either the mother or the child in comparison to older poor mums.
Given the increasing likelihood in western societies that a woman will at least partially raise her children alone isn't it economically sensible for a poor young girl to choose to have her children while she still has the financial and practical support of her family rather than wait until she has no choice than to go it entirely alone?

Hey hey good lookin............

We women are beseiged from a very young age by media exhortations to improve our appearance to fit the cultural norm in the beauty stakes, but how important in terms of actual measureable life opportunities is the possession of good looks? 
A Queensland Mayor recently caused a stir by suggesting that as there are 5 men to every woman in his city, women who are 'beauty-disadvantaged' should consider moving to live in his town where their chances of getting a male partner would be improved. 
There's some sense in this suggestion in economic terms in that scarcity value can often overcome prejudice - if you dearly want a beer and all that is on offer is what my husband calls rat pee, then by and by as your thirst increases you will be glad to get rat pee and may well pay over the market rate for it too.  So if women believe that their lack of physical attractiveness is a significant factor in being unable to find a dearly desired life partner then it makes sense for them to up their chances by going where they have scarcity value. 
On the other hand, 'beauty-disadvantaged' women may not be desperate enough to replace Roger the Rabbit with some man who clearly has had very limited experience of how to relate to women as people rather than as sexual outlets if the man voted in as Mayor is an example of the local type. 
There is also the consideration that, as mining is the main form of employment in this particular town, any women moving there would in effect be narrowing their income opportunities to the sole expediency of wedlock and would in all likelyhood reduce the city's per capita income and increase its welfare benefit bill. 
The Mayor's suggestion therefore seems based not on the best interests of his city residents but on the chauvinist notion that every man deserves  and/or needs sole access to a woman.  In terms of moral  and practical economic principle any women who take up his suggestion would be exchanging their sexual availability for a life of economic dependancy.  There's a name for that.
Female residents of this city are incandescent that their Mayor has turned women into no more than sexual objects and have responded by declaring  that while in their town the odds are good the goods are decidedly odd.
A different take* on the advantage of good looks compared to the disadvantage of less conventionally good looks draws the interesting conclusion that where all other factors are taken into account - age, education, length of employment, qualifications, number of hours worked, parental education and expectations, height and weight - people of both genders who are generally rated as good looking or beautiful earn more than those rated as average, and that those rated as average earn more than those considered 'homely'.  They conclude that this disparity in earnings, given that all other things are equal, is the result of 'pure prejudice' on the part of employers.
Now anti-discrimination legislation has been ennacted in several states in the USA to prevent denying employment on the basis of 'height, weight and personal appearance' and proposed elsewhere on the basis of 'facial features, build and height' (Philippines).  A Vermont Supreme Court in 1992 ruled that a chambermaid's lack of upper teeth qualified as a handicap protected under Vermont's Fair Employment Protection Act and the movement to include suboptimal physical appearance as a legally protected handicap is growing apace.
As the evidence grows of the impact of physical appearance on life opportunities we may find ourselves approaching an era when being less physically attractive than the ideal type is a legally accepted handicap and covered by equal opportunities legislation across much of the world. 
Given that physical appearance is primarily a matter of genetic inheritance - but that it can be 'improved' by medical procedures - how soon shall we see someone suing their parents for neglecting the proven best interests of any potential child when choosing their sexual partner or, in the UK, suing the NHS for failing to ameliorate their 'handicap'?

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

My outdoor lav - enjoy! :O)

I had a cortisone jab in my left shoulder this morning.  I could have typed reams - would my now duff left arm allow - describing in horrid detail the absolutely dire pain which both caused me to have this jab and resulted from submitting to it.  I further embarrassed myself by silently sliding off my chair onto the floor in a dead faint, my GP following my downward trend to finish the job as I lay prostrate and semi-conscious in a crumpled heap. 

Instead I thought I'd just post a pic of my outdoor lav as a piece of expressive art denoting my feelings of lost dignity.  If my shoulder doesn't improve following this torment I may post a pic of the lavatory pan.  Fingers crossed that isn't necessary.

Friday, 15 August 2008

Good Lord!

August 8, 2008, 12:48 PM EDT

Members of the East Central Narcotics Task Force arrested a West Hartford man was arrested after a short chase in South Windsor Thursday evening.

According to police, Almighty Supremebeing Allah, 35, of 119 Elmhurst St. West Hartford refused to stop for a marked cruiser and was detained about a mile down the road after the initial stop.

He was charged with Reckless Driving, Disobeying an Officers Signal, Interfering with an Officer, Criminal Attempt/Sale of Cocaine Criminal Attempt/Possession of Cocaine.

Imo his parents should be arrested too.

I wonder how often he's heard 'Oh My God' screamed into his pillowed ear <g>

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Georgia on my mind

Georgia -what's it all about really?
I don't know.
I read a lot of reports so that I could attempt some level of informed opinion.
I read that the 2 secessionist regions are areas of land which have been Georgian since Georgia began.  That the population there are mainly Russian passport holders who don't want to abide by Georgian democracy.  That these people are Muslim. 
It made me think of the possible future English scenario, once we have been firmly put into our separate EU Regions for, say, Lancashire and Yorkshire to want to secede from England and set up their own mini-states.  The similarities to the Georgian issue would be very close - those counties are English since England began, and, if it ever came to pass, it would be because of Muslim Pakistani passport holders demanding secession.  If the Pakistani government or even the EU sent in tanks to help the secessionists then I suspect there would be an armed struggle.
I thought, right on Georgians, don't let them get away with it.  If these Russians don't like being governed by Georgians whilst living in Georgia then they can simply walk across the border to Russia. Let them go, or let them abide by the democratic decision making process.  Staying in Georgia and then trying to take Georgian land from the Georgian people isn't on.
Okay, Go Georgians!
Then I read more. 
I read about the USA wanting to put nuclear weapons and Early Warning systems in their bases in the Ukraine until Russia said that such an action would be taken as a declaration of war.  Then I read about Georgia knocking at NATOs door for admittance and thought about how then Georgia's armed forces, bases, airfields etc would also be Nato bases, airfields and armed forces. 
I imagined how we Brits would feel if Russia, China, or anyone else were to take over Eire's military installations and put troops, tanks and nuclear facilities so close to the British mainland.  How would we feel if some ancient enemy tried to surround us with military forces?  We wouldn't be happy bunnies.  We might send troops right on back into the Republic in an attempt to take the whole of Ireland into British control again. 
Unless of course all this was being done by the French in which case I'd get my little dog to yap at them and send them scurrying back to France.
Hmmm, so now I don't quite blame the Russians either.
Then I thought about the sheer aggression of the Russian attacks on Georgia and remembered that when the same thing happened in the Kosovo region of Serbia with (Albanian) Muslims wanting secession the Russians supported the Serbs.  So, the Russian military action isn't one of principle.
Putin is an old Cold War warrior with old Cold War ways of thinking.
Bush is in the thrall of US armaments manufacturers and fancies himself as an armchair warlord.
An oil pipeline goes through Georgia.  Hmmm.
I have ended up little wiser after spending quite some time reading and thinking about all this. 
My sole secure conclusion is that I think the Gordian Knot is mispelled.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Stung by tears and by my local council

Wasn't the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony simply superlative?  How can London ever hope to match it?  I expect to be mortally embarrassed in 2012.  I also expect Seb Coe to explain the national humiliation by whining about having a virus as he did without fail every time he lost a race.

But I must be getting awfully emotionally shallow.  I watched the opening ceremony from start to finish and, I'm a bit ashamed to admit, several times found myself getting teary - even the firework 'feet' got me surreptitiously reaching for a tissue.  I know that much of the symbolism was hypocritical in light of the realité; the representation of the Chinese ethnic minorities for example, and the mass participation dove of peace thing to say nothing about the 'green' theme thing but it seems to me that the Olymics is all about ideals and so actualité is somewhat beside that idealistic point.  I sat there like a completely wet ninny watching the little lad who supposedly sang to keep up the morale of his classmates who were buried alongside him by the Szechuan earthquake and even tho I thought the story was probably nothing but Chinese national morale raising propaganda I still came over all sentimental.  Sentimental and a bit Jewish momma - I kept thinking 'his/her mother must be so proud!'

I must be sickening for something.

Something else sickening was the council man who came out yesterday to sort out the wasps nest in my lawn. Parked, walked across the grass, stuck his spray nozzle down it, one squeeze, done.  £34 for less than 3 minutes thank you.  He spent more time telling me that his son who lives 10 minutes away would have done it for half the price.

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Not NICE at all

A body of whom I've written a piece before: NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence) - now there's a misnomer if ever I heard one - today ruled that kidney cancer patients may not have drugs to prolong their lives because at £30K pa it costs too much. Never mind the millions spent to prolong the lives of infants born with no kidneys, no bowels or no stomachs, or the millions frittered on removing tattoos or pinning 8 year old ears back. Today someone whom I regard as a genuine stoic and hero made a post on her blog.  Please read it and email your local MP urgently.

Shocked and disgusted......


Asses, Arses, and the Law.

Yesterday a couple of blokes were standing on an open air train platform and having a cigarette while they quietly waited for their train.  A woman, who had apparently done the same thing earlier in the week, decided to harangue them and told them to put their cigarettes out.  It ended with one of them pushing her away and she fell off the platform and broke her wrist.
Well, that's not a very nice thing to happen to her and it's regrettable that she had a fall.  On the other hand being loudly and aggressively harangued by some nosy intrusive busybody when you are doing no harm to anyone, and then having them do it to you again the next time they see you also isn't very nice.  I'm not at all glad that she got hurt but you know what?  I'm glad that for once one of these self-righteous anti-smoking fascists found that while she may have been within in her legal rights to hassle these men, on this occasion it wasn't entirely without cost.
The Times Online says:
The men made obscene gestures as she walked past them shortly after 7am, a police source told The Times. “She turned round and told them to grow up, and they pushed her. She stumbled backwards and fell on to the track. We don’t think they meant to push her on there. They were as surprised as she was.”
Another bit of news was about a Scotsman who, when his elderly wife who looked after him wouldn't hand over cash for him to go boozing, strangled her until she was dead.  The Judge said that prison wasn't the right place for him.  Presumably the Judge thinks that relatives, neighbours, or the female care assistants and frail inmates of residential homes for the elderly would be much better able to physically handle a murderously violent elderly alcoholic better than could burly prison guards and tough convicts.  This murderer was 'punished' by being told not to go to the pub for 12 months.  That's it, that's his only punishment.  Meanwhile his poor wife lies cold in the ground and he's ticking off the days whenhe can go to the pub instead of sending next door's nipper to the Off Licence.
So, based on the above, what punishment will the blokes who pushed the woman get do you think?

Lazy days of summer.

I've had a busy day today, mostly owing to crops ripening.  I've made and frozen 2 ice cream containers of rattatouille made from all organic home grown red onions, garlic, tomatoes, yellow and green courgettes, orange peppers and purple aubergines.  Then I picked a backbreaking 10lbs of blackcurrants and made a litre of blackcurrant cordial and 4 pints of sorbet.  My kitchen tops got so splattered with concentrated blackcurrant juice that they look like they have some dread disease and I doubt they will ever recover.

In the garden Gyp discovered the most gross humungous caterpillar, exactly the length of my index finger and at least as fat.  It was an unbelievably fast mover but I managed to get it onto my husbands cap brim long enough to take a pic.  It's the caterpillar of that equally horrifying moth I found in the kitchen sink a month or so ago.  Crap pic but I think it still conveys the horror.

We also have a very busy underground nest of digger wasps.  The local authority pest control man is coming out tomorrow to get rid of them as we have Grace and her little friend here from Sunday and the last thing I need is two tots with fat stung legs.  £34.50 it's going to cost, isn't that disgraceful?

We are inundated with teensy little frogs, some of them a hundred yards from their pond and one poor little thing we found drowned in the pets' courtyard water bowl.

Monday, 4 August 2008

More summer visitors

As soon as Constance and her friend Esme had been collected

by Felix and his Mum

our youngest granddaughter Imogen


and her parents came for a long weekend and on Saturday we went to the Oswestry Show. 


Just after I took this photograph the cow blew a massive snort at Immy and she fell over backwards in shock.  I almost fell over in shock myself.

Now we have a few days clear and then Grace and her friend Eleanor will be with us for a week.  I'm definitely moving to the wrong side of the tracks in Nuneaton before next summer  :O)

Friday, 1 August 2008


I've had Constance and her little friend staying for the week:
They came with us to get our dog and cat boostered up and asked why they had to have a jab when they weren't poorly.  To stop them catching anything says I, forgetting how literal 6 year olds can be.
Later, back at home Connie told me the jab hadn't worked on the dog, because 'she can still catch sticks Granny'.
Later today Imogen comes for a long weekend and next Sunday Grace and her friend for a week.  Sometimes I think I need a much smaller house.  And coloured bedlinen.