Wednesday, 31 March 2010


Whilst there's nothing funny about the current news story about a French National, living in Georgia, U.S.A. and who has now fled to Ontario because he is suspected by the police of trying to BUY a five-year-old child, I'm sorry, but for pity's sake, the man is called 'Molesti' ?????

Alex and Seth saw a bus driver actually reading his newspaper while driving, other drivers don't think the Law about not using phones whilst driving, applies to them. Their union think it's too harsh to suspend them for endangering the lives of their passengers and breaking the law at the same time.

There is a fantastic post on Feministing about the achievement gap between girls and boys and the general hand-wringing about it. Figleaf puts a slightly different, but equally well-written spin on it, and he points us to yet another great post on this topic.
Food for thought.

I'm reading a book called simply, 'Jesus' by Deepak Chopra. I was looking forward to reading it, liked the idea of a fictionalised account of Jesus : The Lost Years, involving lots of cultural and historical detail. Well I've reached about halfway and have run aground. The writing is truly awful, impoverished, lacking style and wordcraft. Maybe I wanted too much, the life of an ordinary Jew living in occupied Rome and how this illiterate man came to be the most famous Rabbi of all time. (Sorry Julia Neuberger and Lionel Blue, but he is). What I get is poor characterisation and an unbelievable and sudden shift into mysticism. I feel a little as though I'm crying foul because someone else has written about my imaginary friend, but it just isn't doing it for me.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Drop the Sick Donkey

Heron in a tree. At the top of a tree even. Iconic, but what of?

We were supposed to have a donkey to lead the Palm Sunday procession around the church. We had been assured that the donkey was house-trained, although I was sceptical. Sadly, the donkey, named Eeyore, had to cancel, due to pneumonia. Many people were disappointed, me - meh, you've seen one donkey, you've seen 'em all.

Yesterday we turned off everything we could for Earth Hour. Kevin pointed out that we're pretty good about turning lights off when we're not in a room anyway, but we like the idea and the idea that friends around the world were doing it.
Yeah, around the world maybe - in the neighbourhood, not so much.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

You Say Tomato

Cripes. Tomorrow is Palm Sunday, and in Britain, the clocks - très bon - go an hour on.
Tick tock.
Earth Hour soon. A black wave that circumnavigates the globe.

Last night, I was determined not to watch the recorded programmes of Jamie Oliver's U.S. Food Revolution. Jamie may be unpoisoning their bodies, but his sexist language is sure as hell subconsciously poisoning their self-esteem. He also wasn't THAT successful at unpoisoning their bodies. Yes, I got sucked in anyway. The children in the Elementary School couldn't even name a tomato or a potato. They were completely and utterly clueless about anything that didn't come out of a fryer. (Apart from Pizza).
The family he was supposed to be sorting out told him they'd followed his recipes, but much of the food he had bought them was still in the fridge.
But worse was in store. When he did the demonstration of the disgusting things that went into reclaimed meat products, the children all seemed to be horrified....until he turned them into a patty and fried them. When he asked them if they'd still eat it, they ALL said yes. This had never happened before.
He had to think bigger, so he got all the mums (aka, 'the parents')to watch as he dumped a trailer's worth of beef fat into a tarpaulin and then told them this was what was going into their kids' bodies every week. Finally a reaction.
Of course, ultimately he'll win, but I can't see how.

Canadian Karen and I discussed 'Chick Lit' the other evening, surreptitiously of course, so that no-one noticed (mostly). I think she's right. We shouldn't sell it down the river like that. One thing I have come to learn through Feminism, and this is why I now prefer the term 'Gender Equality', is that challenging socially constructed gender roles liberates men as well as women. Ok, they have to give up being the default sex, but they gain so much more.
So if we stopped labelling comedies of manners as 'Chick Lit', it not only avoids the implied 'and therefore second rate', but also opens it up to men to read. And maybe, if they did read it, they'd quite enjoy some of it.
After all, it's by no means just women who watch Soaps.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


Birds - they're such show-offs aren't they? Watch the eagles just riding the thermals, do they care about us earth-bound creatures?

At the moment, fortunate creatures that WE are, we have the lovely Ann Coulter visiting our hallowed shores. It's not going so well. Now this is odd, because Canadians on the whole are a patient and forgiving bunch, but Coulter, well she just goes far too far. What has been interesting for her to learn from her visit, if in fact she does have any kind of learning chip installed, is that Freedom of Expression means you're not allowed to incite hatred. Oops. Hatred does seem to be her middle name. She hates Muslims, even the nice ones we have here in Canada. She also hates not being allowed to drivel on in the Universities up here, which leads to outbursts such as her telling the Procter of one of them that, 'this Human Rights stuff is bullshit.'

So, a pretty easy segue to Hitler really. Kevin told me not so long ago, that all forum posts that keep going, eventually get to Hitler, and that's the endgame, after Hitler, it's over.
Yesterday I was reading a blog by Gay people who were against Gay Marriage. Why, they wondered, do people keep forcing it on us? Of course, the first few comments were along the lines of,
'Fuck Yeah, we're butch, we don't take no shit off anyone, booyah!' type of thing. Then there was a sensible one, which basically boiled down to,
'Er, no-one's forcing marriage on anyone, but everyone should have the same rights as everyone else.'
So then,
'Well there are other things THEY should be pushing for instead,'
'There's no reason why all of these rights can't be addressed at the same time,'
Followed by some sort of non-sequitur that I couldn't quite follow, but the sensible commentator could and said,
'That's like when people argue that Hitler was a vegetarian, so vegetarianism makes you evil.'
And that was the end of that, because the whole bloody thing deteriorated into a disorganised rant by all the nutters about how Hitler wasn't vegetarian at all, so therefore all the sensible person's arguments were wrong. Thus, I would say, proving the point.

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

France, Norway, Wales.

The air is full of the smell of Cottonwood.

I took Whisky for an extra walk this evening at 19.00 and it was still light. Right now we're only seven hours behind Britain, but that will change on Sunday.

Elder Stateswoman of France, Simone Weil, survivor of Auschwitz, women's reproductive rights champion, has been honoured by her country and made a member of the Académie Française. Link from Sleepy.

Nice to hear via Feministing, from a young man who really understands privilege. And what a well written piece. And I particularly respect his final sentence,
"Even though I benefit from these labels, it is my responsibility to work to change things for the better."

Norway's minister for Gender Equality and Children's Affairs says that Norway became prosperous (and Norway IS prosperous) because they invested in gender equality. Feminist Philosophers.

And lastly from Bozo5, what happens in a bilingual country when you don't pay attention. That one really tickled me!

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Spring, Sunday, Milk, Blood.

Turns out yesterday was the first day of spring. It was certainly very springlike, warm (16°) and sunny. Today, not so much. But we went kayaking anyway. Had to get Whisky's sea-legs back. We managed to be out during the one short spell of sunshine, but by the time Alex and Seth were turning round and coming back in, icy rain had started to fall.

It's Sunday. Today's readings and sermon were about Mary pouring oil over Jesus' feet and then wiping them with her hair. Our vicar preached an amazing sermon, she is softly spoken and approaches God with us, whereas when we have a certain other priest, he protects God from us, he interprets God for us. Cheers mate, the whole of Jesus' life and teaching was about anyone being able to approach and understand God.

Margaret showed us Mary's special relationship with Jesus. To me it's another indicator of inclusivity. A man and a woman able to physically interact just in an ordinary, everyday sense. I was struck last week by the inclusivity of the Peace. There were two new congregants, both of an ethnic group that are often Muslim. Recently I had heard two stories of Muslim colleagues refusing to shake hands with women. As I shook the hand of each of these men and wished them peace, it made me realise that here, in church, was a level of inclusivity not always available to all.

Last night we finally watched the film 'Milk'. Wow. Where was I? I remember all the Vietnam War stuff going on throughout my childhood and early teens, but I had no idea of all this horrific homophobia going on in the States. Powerful film. It also struck me how, looking back, it seems unbelievable that the level of homophobia suffered then could have been tolerated, and yet today, we are still seeing human rights issues being fought for just one step forward. You just know that down the road we'll look back and say, 'My God, did people really object to same-sex marriage and anyone let their stupid, backward opinions affect the human rights of others?' Likewise, 'Did people really use to refer to God as 'He' and object to women in the priesthood?' and then we'll chortle at the backwardness of the times.
But we're living through those times.

Ok, have to stop now.
Too much blood of Christ.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Regardez mon visage

Yesterday I went to have my eyes tested. Just a regular eye test, but the ophthalmologist thought he'd dilate my pupils with drops so that he could look right to the back of my eyes.
Very thorough.
I've never had this done before. He said that he could tell that I have no signs of diabetes and that my blood pressure is normal. Ok, but THEN...I had to walk outside into the most glaring, painful light I could imagine. It was like the sunniest day of summer when the sun is reflecting off everything. Even with my sunglasses on I had to squint.
Considering women used to do this to themselves regularly in the interests of beauty, it seems yet another way of torturing ourselves for no particularly good reason.

I asked my friend Di if I could paste her story about the two Iraqi Kurds she teaches, here it is.

"there are two young Iraqi Kurds in the literacy classes in 'my' prison, former asylum seekers criminalised by our short-sighted processes. Unable to work to support themselves and without benefits, one of them committed 'minor' shoplifting offences (he had to eat) and the other resisted arrest while he was being physically removed from the squalid room he shared with five others in a 'squat'; he had no English at that time and had only been in the country 3 weeks. Their background stories are truly harrowing - one was shot in the face during an attack on his village when he was 13 - but each is apparently considered to be here on the same basis as any illegal economic migrant. Their families took risks and beggared themselves to send these boys here, where it was thought they would have better lives. They are not bad young men, as so many in prison are, but will both be deported automatically once they have served their sentences."

In circumstances like this, it has to be costing the British taxpayer so much more to keep these lads in prison, than to give them some support whilst waiting for their asylum hearings. I think Di's right to use the word 'criminalised', these aren't hardened criminals, they are human beings struggling to survive.

Spring in nearly upon us. I have bought, filled and put out a hummingbird feeder. Hopefully we'll get some hummingbirds. Kevin has put out the solar lights and I've cleaned the chairs on the deck.
Spring - bring it!

Et pour finir, having watched Catherine Tate's 'Our John's a gay man now' several times, I was sucked in to watching 'Lauren's French lesson' classic Catherine the Great, just classic.
Suis-je bovvered?

Thursday, 18 March 2010


I had a lot of interesting feedback from yesterday's awareness raising about the Kurds, much of it positive, people who know Turkish or Iraqi Kurds who have made a good life outside of Kurdistan, but not all. A friend sent me a story of two Iraqi Kurds that she knows, who sought asylum in Britain but who, in circumstances that remind one of Dickensian England, ended up in gaol.

Now here's the thing. There are over 60 million people living in Great Britain. It's very crowded. You literally could not accept everyone into the country who wants to live there. So you end up with the situation where people have to be treated as numbers, faceless, nameless, unless they are the people you know. But when people seek asylum, it's not just because they think they can earn more, it's because they face persecution in their own countries.
Between the western countries, why can't we pass on some of what we have?
It's difficult to share isn't it?
Let's face it, some don't want to share even with their own compatriots. Look at the fight Obama is having to give basic healthcare as a right to the neediest in his country. Look at the lengths the super rich go to to avoid taxes. Look at the salary and payment demands of the famous. Do we ever get to a point where we simply have enough?

Let's go back to Obambi. One of the stumbling blocks seems to be over reproductive rights. Why should public money be spent to fund abortions?
Ok, well, the U.S., like Canada, is very proud of their separation of Church and State. Fair enough, I think I can understand that. But the only logical objection to abortion on demand is a religious one. Even if you are an atheist and yet believe that no life should be taken, although I can't think of any philosophical reason for that stance, but let's say it is so, then the foetus must be able to survive unassisted outside of the mother's body to be considered as a separate life. And considerations of quality of life would also have to be taken into account.
SO why is a religious argument allowed to override a humanitarian one?

And going back to our lovely National Anthem, it seems we are an international laughing stock. Nothing we don't deserve, but I certainly like the suggestion to adopt Monty Python's 'Lumberjack Song' instead.

And a propos of nothing, just that I happened to be reminded of it on Tuesday, I invite you to revisit the classic Catherine Tate sketch, 'Our John's a Gay Man Now', mostly for the sheer brilliance of it, but if not, then just for the superb Northern Irish accents.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010


I told my friend L that I would blog today to raise awareness of the continued troubles of the Kurdish people.

Yesterday and today, the 16th - 17th March was the anniversary of the 1988 attack by Iraqi forces on the Kurdish city of Halabja. Over 5,000 people were killed when Iraqi planes dropped chemical weapons. Chemical weapons are part of the notorious weapons of mass destruction.

The massacre at Halabja came at the end of an extended campaign, known as al-Anfal, to exterminate Kurds in Iraq. The 'ethnic cleansing' started in April 1987 and an estimated 100,000 people were slaughtered.

Kurdistan is an area that comprises parts of Iran, Iraq, Turkey and Syria, although Kurds are ethno-linguistically Iranian. Kurds have frequently been displaced from their homeland and so groups exist throughout Europe, Asia Minor and North America.

It is far from rare that despots and just fellow-citizens discriminate against groups within societies.
Kiran Desai in 'The Inheritance of Loss' shows us an example in the Indian Himalayas. Khaled Hosseini does the same for Afghanistan in 'The Kite Runner', and in Syria, the Kurds continue to be oppressed.

There is a petition to show solidarity with the Kurdish people, to end oppression and discrimination, and to uphold the values of democracy. If you feel able to sign it, you can find it here.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Bagging It

So, how's this for just not getting it ? Yesterday morning on our National Channel, CBC, there was a news item reporting that, 'visible minorities' are still suffering discrimination, but slightly less. Someone had pointed out that the UN has told Canada that whilst they lauded Canada's record on addressing racism, the term 'visible minorities' was in itself discriminatory and that it should not be used. So CBC report this, but carry on talking about it whilst still using the term. Bumbling idiots! If the UN tell you something's discriminatory, don't fracking carry on doing it! Don't they get how stoopid they are making us look.

Kevin pointed out to me that the so called 'Tea Party' in the United States, a bunch of people passionately dedicated to keeping the undeserving poor in their place, refer to themselves as 'tea-baggers', which is in fact a sexual practice performed by practitioners of BDSM.
Good to know the conservatives, even with a small c, are still doing what they do.

To anyone who thinks that Feminism is redundant now because there are women in top positions (and if you think the gender pay gap down in the trenches is bad enough, you should see how bad it becomes at CEO level - 33 cents on the dollar), I wonder if Obambi and Oprah sit around going, 'pshaw, racism, what racism? We don't need to worry about that old chestnut anymore!'
No, I don't think so either.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Mothering Sunday

I have had the most brilliant Mother's Day. When Alex and I came back from church, this beautiful bouquet was waiting for me from Austen and Ben. Alex made me superb Eggs Benny and I got to speak to all my sons. Alex also made me a special cocktail flavoured with lavender, which I loved, gave me a beauty treatment and later, she and Seth made curry.

And for the rest of the time, I lazed around reading my Maeve Binchy.

Absolutely fab.

Friday, 12 March 2010


The winter that keeps on giving. Tonight we have the opening ceremony of the Paralympics. Fracking hell Sleepy, good thing you're not here, we'd be blubbing like a right pair. Spec-bloody-tacular!
Kevin's looking forward to the ice-sledge hockey, it's supposed to be insane, pardon the NON-inclusive language. And everyone seems to have lightened up. The Governor General is dancing, and Harper almost smiled!

Laurence and I went to the Aberdeen Mall today. One of the shops was demonstrating the Sony e-reader. Very nice, I am smitten.
We went to the Daiso store and Laurence bought a tin with holes in the lid. It was a sort of ashtray, and its charm rested in the interesting ancient Chinese proverb around it, 'Always Never Over Smoking'.
Good advice, or deep wisdom, or something.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Behind the Veil

From the 1st to the 12th of March, there was a United Nations conference in New York on the status of women. You wouldn't know it, there has hardly been any press coverage. And yet there were over 8,000 delegates from around the world present. Two of them from Canada, are friends of Sleepy's and mine.

This morning, on the CBC news, the story of a young woman who had been asked to leave two separate colleges in Québec, for refusing to remove her niqab in the classroom. The argument is that when people come to Québec, they have to sign a document to uphold the values of that Province, and Québec believes in gender equality. The wearing of such items of clothing are from cultures that oppress women. And I get that, I really do. Members of the Islamic faith in Québec have said publicly that nowhere in Islam does it say women should wear these garments. Québec, as in Canada in general, is secular.
And yet, I'm conflicted. Yes, I see the wearing of these coverings as misogynistic and oppressive, but I also know how difficult it is for the oppressed to throw off that mantle. And aren't we continuing that oppression by putting the onus on the women and not on the oppressor?
I couldn't help wondering, whilst listening to the reasonable arguments, that perhaps this young woman could go to a college or be in a class of only women. Then she could remove her headwear without fear.

On International Women's Day, we saw the sorry spectacle of the Speaker of the Indian Parliament being mobbed and the motion to raise the percentage of women in Parliament to 30%, being torn up. But this ended well. The seven men who did this were suspended and the motion passed the following day. As I read elsewhere, we should all have such high expectations. Women in government constitute 20% in Britain, 16% in the U.S. and 21% in Canada, so if only we could get up to the target India has set itself, we'd be - well, not laughing exactly, but less humiliated.

Meanwhile, Gay is the, Gay. It seems everyone's doing it! Even the homophobes are doing it...oh wait, they've always been doing it. Ah well, fun to catch 'em, eh?

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The Border

Yesterday of course, was International Women's Day and I spent it in the United States. Correction, I spent a goodly portion of it trying to get into the United States. Our reason for this foolhardy trip was that Seth's work visa had suddenly arrived, and in order to do the paperwork necessary to have it rubber stamped, we had to cross out of Canada and then back in again.

By late morning, there was a waiting time of an hour for either crossing, but we had resigned ourselves to that. It certainly took us longer to get to the point where.....we could go into the immigration office and wait in line again. There were many officers in the office, but in true sitcom/farce stereotype, the only person doing the business we needed done, was a congenial black man. He really was congenial. He told us he'd been on duty since midnight, 13 hours, and he had another five ahead of him. So, my American chums, your borders are being guarded by ridiculously overworked people. It's probably because they realise that Canadians aren't really terrorists, they just want your Abercrombie and Fitch gear.

And we did drive down to Apple Crumble and Fish.
This is where I lose my air of confidence and it's fortunate I have Alex with me.
I have this inexplicable barrier that tells me I can't drive to or in the U.S. without Kevin, or at least an authentic Canadian. Alex tells me not to be ridiculous.
'I'll never find the way to....' she tells me again not to be ridiculous,
'I've taken the wrong turning,'
'We'll find it, I can see it from here,'
I hate driving, but I realise I'm also a lazy passenger, I don't pay attention until I have to find it myself.

In Apple Crumble, we wonder, as usual, how anyone can work there. The smell of cheap cologne that is pumped through it, the darkness, the loud music.
Never mind the quality, feel the width of the label.
And clearly, it affects their senses. And by affect I mean 'makes them disappear'.They appeared to have none.

Coming back, I anticipated an equally long wait for the Canadian border and then the stuff that had to be done in the office. Instead, it was smooth, efficient, almost exclusively female.
'Should I leave my car unlocked?' I asked the first officer,
'Only if you want to,'
The other side, you have to leave it unlocked, keys on windscreen, cellphones in car.
'You don't have to lock it,' she said, 'nothing will get stolen.' I believed her. I believed that nothing would get stolen whilst she was in charge of the car park, but then I also believed it the other side, with the team of men they had guarding the cars. In both cases, I was right.

Yesterday. and today, it felt colder, it was colder. A snowflake fell.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Duvet Day

There's nothing quite as comforting when you're feeling a little low, and outside icy rain is falling from a bruised and scowling sky, than a duvet day with a good book.

'The Little Stranger' (Canadian link, British link) by Sarah Waters, was shortlisted for the 2009 Booker prize. Sadly for everyone else, Hilary Mantel's 'Wolf Hall' was in the pot and that was a most extraordinary book that brooked no competition.

The book burns slowly to begin with, but gently draws us in as Dr. Faraday winds his way around the Warwickshire countryside in his unprepossessing little car. The story is set in post-war, post Churchill Britain, with rationing still in place, petrol scarce and similarly rationed, and everyone speaks like Mr. Cholmondleigh-Warner. The country is about to embrace the National Health Service and Waters captures what I imagine to be the Zeitgeist, the turning moment when the class system is losing its edge. The 'Old Families' can no longer survive, but Attlee's socialists had not yet had time to change the lives of the very poorest. And on top of all that, or maybe smouldering beneath, a supernatural theme, that the people of science, at least most of them, fight with every rational argument they can muster.

A page turner which I strongly recommend, to be taken with duvet, comfort food and whatever your tipple might be.

Saturday, 6 March 2010


Apathy is a strange beast. It's a bit like Atheism. It should in fact be a lack of something, and yet it can be very proactive, it can squat in the room like the proverbial elephant. Well, if elephants could squat, which they can't because of the nature of their ankle joints. Also, elephants have four knees, although I'm not sure whether that affects their squatting abilities or not.

I learnt from reading another blog yesterday, that Atheists can be misogynistic. You see what I mean? I had foolishly believed that Atheists must all be forward-thinking egalitarians, because many religions seem to be founded on misogyny. Christianity isn't in fact founded on misogyny, but has been well and truly taken hostage by it. But it seems, that is not the case, and when Atheists come out and are proud, it turns out that the most vocal amongst them are - privileged, het, white, men.
Who knew?

Then there's Apathy. Most Canadians will tell you that they are an apathetic nation. Oddly, most of the ones I know are not in fact apathetic, far from it, but at the same time, I know what they mean.
Whereas in Britain, you have a pressure group for just about everything, by the time I've finished typing this, there'll probably be a pressure group about it, here, it takes a lot more effort to get people to band together to change something.

Even so, it makes me suspicious that the Minister for Immigration and Citizenship has left out of the newly published guide for Canadian residents seeking citizenship, any mention of the history of LGBTQ rights. And, it turns out, he has edited them out. So definitely not apathy there, more like one of the opposites, in this case LGBTQ-phobia.
Unusually for an online paper that allows comments, many of the commentators are condemning his actions, although I suspect from the number of comments deleted by moderators, that the homophobes tend towards expletives and vitriol and have thus condemned themselves.
But there is one, telling little hissy fit,
"i m so sick and tired of these so called " special interest groups". as far as im concerned, you're all a bunch of whiners"
Right, so again, no doubt a privileged white male, because I'm fairly sure he'd think Feminists and ethnic minorities would fall into his category of 'special interest groups'.
Apathy writ large.
Everything isn't alright for a whole bunch of people, but don't upset my day with it.

There's a great post on The Feminist Agenda about how Angelina Jolie is being taken to task by one magazine for not turning her daughter Shiloh into a little pink princess, and as Rachel says, Angelina is the only person who gets blamed for this.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Travesty into Treasure

The country is all of a twitter over the Conservative Government's move to change the sexist line in the National Anthem. Both Kevin and Gail have mentioned that it isn't set in stone in any case, when they were at school there were changes made, but no, those who think that The Feminists are out to chop their willies off if the slightest move towards gender equality were to be made are claiming that you can't change tradition.
Well duh.
As I've said many times before, slavery was a tradition once, as was the right to rape and even kill your wife (if you were a man), homophobia was traditional, sending small children up factory chimneys and being fined if you didn't go to church on Sunday.

And then some people, 'don't think it's necessary'. Of course not, they would like female emancipation to be at the individual grace and favour of men, rather that by right.
And to others, I ask this question, if the National Anthem, instead of excluding women by the sole use of the gendered word 'sons', instead excluded people of any skin colour other than white, by in some way saying, or implying that the Canadian norm was white, wouldn't they all be horrified? As well they should. Now tell me what the difference is.

There is an excellent blog post on Womanist Musings about it which is goes further than I have here, by hoping that the change is not just symbolic, and that other measures to close the gender gap will follow or accompany this move. That is, as ever, my hope too.
Sadly, Kevin has warned me that we shouldn't hold our breath even on the language change, it has been raised before in the House and ignored.

I'm not asking a question about this, because there is no question to be asked. The National Anthem has a line in it which is sexist. Sexism is and always has been unacceptable. It needs to change.
Do it.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010


Thank-you Alex. we're counting down to the World Cup. (100 days). Which is odd, because in our very own city, the Paralympics are due to start in 10 days.

Two of my friends are at the United Nations Commission on the status of women, in New York. So this is something really good that is going on for gender equality.

Meanwhile, elsewhere, gender equality is being viciously attacked by a person called Fred Phelps, masquerading as a Christian, who thinks he can speak for God, and apparently God hates gay people, which is odd, because Christianity claims that God loves everyone. Somehow, I don't imagine God being much of a fan of Fred Phelps.
And yes, yes, that is a question of gender equality, because the people being attacked ARE being attacked because of their gender. If they were the opposite gender, there wouldn't be a problem with the vitriolic likes of Phelps.

Jamie Oliver is currently displeasing me.

There has been some controversy over the fatwa issued by Tahir ul-Qadri, condemning the actions of Muslim fundies. I can kind of see some of the arguments, and yet I can't help thinking that it has to be a good thing that terrorism is being condemned.