j4: (bicycle)
Further to the ongoing conversation about whether the battle for gender equality is all done and dusted, you might want to read this depressing article about being a female cyclist.

For what it's worth, my own experience is that most of the verbal abuse I get on a bike these days seems (insofar as I can decode the grunting and hooting of overexcited primates) to be aimed more at cyclists than women. Though I guess I might not get so much of that if I was/looked male -- but that's impossible for me to tell, I have no plausible way of pretending to be male while cycling.

(To be fair, I should also confess that I do my own fair share of shouting, but only at idiots who are actively endangering my life by flagrantly disregarding the rules of the road -- and idiots come in all shapes/sizes/genders/vehicles.)

On the positive side, there is some evidence to suggest that drivers give female cyclists more room when overtaking them. Though now I wonder whether (as the researcher hints) that's because they think female cyclists are more likely to behave unpredictably, or just because it's so much harder to look up someone's skirt when they're disappearing under the wheels of your white van. :-/
j4: (southpark)
I know I only read the Guardian's Family supplement to get annoyed, really, but this Saturday's front page article is even more teeth-grindingly aggravating than most... to the extent where I'm starting to suspect (or should that be "hope"?) that it's actually a spoof. Some of it is almost too easy a target:
"I work out what's going to happen when Saffron's rounders game at one end of the county clashes with Aspen's cricket match in the other direction, and they both need picking up at the exact same time that the nanny finishes."
Oh noes! How will they cope?

But it was this bit that really made me want to punch them:
What Tony's fed up with, he says, is the assumption that because they are well-off everything is easy. They do have a nanny from 8am to 6pm weekdays. "But at 6pm she goes home and then it's just us. So on a Friday night I'll get in from work and it's literally straight into looking after the babies. There's no respite: the weekend is heavy domestic duty and then on Monday morning I'm back into work from first thing."
Wait, what? You have to literally look after the children that you paid £millions to have? That's so unfair! And, after all that, they still expect you to go into work on Monday? O cruel world! "We loved the idea of a big family," says one of these spoilt kids (the parents, that is). Evidently the reality of a big family is slightly harder to deal with.
What he would most like, he says, is for people to realise how normal their lives are. "It's not about spoilt children and designer shoes, the way some people seem to think. We're just an ordinary family, with an ordinary kitchen, an ordinary garden and ordinary goings-on."
Yeah. "Ordinary," that was just the word I was looking for.
j4: (blade)
Things that have made me angry so far today:

* A white van nearly knocking me off my bike at the top of St Giles (YB08 KTE, a DPD van, so maybe it had an express parcel which was actually A TICKING BOMB, yeah right)
* A Post Office van (YN08 UNL) driving up the pavement about 5 inches away from me (I jumped out of the way) as I was standing there writing down the number of the van above
* Endless half-whispered conversations between my office-mate and the department's handyman (he is a bit simple & obviously has a huge crush on her, I suppose it's kind of sweet, but FFS get a room already)
* People who stand right in front of the shelves I'm trying to get to in shops while they have a long phone conversation, and then look cross when I say 'excuse me' (if you don't want your conversation interrupted, get out of the way)
* Sainsbury's till assistants asking me three times if I want a bag, having failed to take any notice of the answer because they're texting/gossiping/staring vacantly into the middle distance. NO I STILL DON'T WANT A BAG unless I'm allowed to put it over your head.
* People who shove past a crowd of people waiting at a pedestrian crossing so that they can cross on red and force the cars to brake suddenly (why do they never quite manage to get run over?)
* The woman in the Post Office who always asks me "it not urgent? you don't need it there soon?" when I send things first class, presumably trying to get me to pay extra for recorded delivery. Yes, I would quite like it to get there soon, THAT'S WHY I'M SENDING IT FIRST CLASS.
* All the people who emailed the IT staff discussion list (600-odd people) to say that they have an opinion on the iPad. (If one more person points out that it's a bit like an iPod Touch and a bit like a laptop but costs quite a bit of money but less than a real laptop, I'm not going to be held responsible for my actions.)
* All the people who emailed the IT staff discussion list to say that they don't have an opinion on the iPad. Wow, yeah, you're so individual, all of you. BORED NOW.
* Miso soup. It's cheap, it always looks/sounds like a really good idea, it tastes like rancid dishwater.
* Other people. All over the place. Like a fvcking disease.
* Myself.

Banker

Jan. 25th, 2010 08:48 pm
j4: (blade)
Just had the most maddening conversation ever with Alliance & Leicester's internet banking helpdesk. Notes here mostly for my own benefit because I'll write them up into a proper complaint before moving to a different bank.

The fail, it burns )

Perhaps a new New Year's Resolution (no, I haven't forgotten, but I haven't done them yet either) should be to find a bank whose internet banking isn't shit. :-/ Any recommendations?
j4: (dodecahedron)
Okay, yesterday's poll was full of fail, because it does depend a lot on context. I'm normally the one who can't get more than two questions into a questionnaire without going "ARGH BUT IT DEPENDS" and throwing the whole box of "neither agree nor disagree"s across the room in disgust, so I apologise for giving everybody else the argh this time. I think I was working on the assumption that the hypothetical communications in question were a) personal, or at least something where you personally have an interest (in either sense) in getting a reply, and b) something that obviously invited a reply but didn't specify the time-limit; e.g. if you say "please let me know by the end of the day" then obviously you're kind of expecting a reply by the end of the day, and if you send something that doesn't normally need/expect/invite a reply, then, um, you're not expecting a reply. But I did completely fail to show working.

Not sure what to do now: 48 people have managed to respond despite the fail, so I don't want to make people fill it all in again; but the results are probably a lot more meaningless than I hoped. That'll teach me to try to design surveys when I'm tired and rushing to meet an arbitrary deadline. :-}
j4: (BOMB)
Why do people display apparent pleasure -- and even pride -- in their ignorance?

(Like so many of my posts, this one's powered by irritation; and like many irritations, they were all on Radio 2.)

The first of these was perpetrated by Sarah 'TBW' Kennedy. Following a news item which mentioned the Taliban, she moaned, in her (thankfully) inimitable gin-sodden gurgle, "Why won't somebody tell me what the Taliban really want?" ... Well, let's see. Could it be because you work for the UK's flagship news and media organisation, and thus have access to current affairs reference resources that most people can only dream of? Could it be because they think that, even without all the BBC's resources at your fingertips, you could probably manage to type 'taleban' (spell it how you like, Google will figure it out) into the idiotbox and read (maybe even comprehend) some of the results? Could it be because, in short, you're an adult living in an age of unprecedented access to information, and "nobody told me" is absolutely no excuse for your continued ignorance on issues which involve actual factual content and where you have a desire for more knowledge? (This is, of course, begging the question. We'll come back to that.)

The second incident was perpetrated by Terry Wogan (yes, I suppose I do bring this irritation upon myself). Following a news article about a predicted increase in flooding in Wales brought about by climate change, Wogan cheerily chuntered "Why would it flood in Wales? Is there a scientific reason for it?" Well, I suspect that even the most green-crayon-fingered of climate change deniers would probably agree that there's a "scientific reason" for flooding: lots of water comes out of the sky, and doesn't drain away fast enough. Oh, you want to know why that happens? Well, my extremely dim memory of GCSE Science (I'm doing this without research, you know) is that the sun heats the ground, which heats the gases in the air, and then at higher altitudes they cool down, turn back into water, and fall to the ground. Or something. ... Oh, you want to know why that happens? Er, dunno. Physics. Most things are Physics, when you come down to it. Go and look it up. Eventually I guess you get back to the primum movens, and (I'm really handwaving now) you either say "God done it" or you say that it's Physics all the way down. Now, I suppose it's possible that Wogan a) is such a fundamentalist Christian that he believes that the only relevant cause for any occurrence is God -- that not a single sparrow (or raindrop in Wales) falls but that God wills it to be so, and/or b) is a less fundamentalist Christian who believes in chemical/physical cause and effect but believes that it is set in motion by God, and that by calling the 'scientific reasons' into question he's subtly challenging the atheistic orthodoxy of the age. (We'll come back to that, too.) Frankly, I just don't think he's that clever. (Maybe part of the problem here is that I'd rather believe that stupid people don't believe in climate change than that clever people are using their cleverness -- not to mention their mass-media platform -- to undermine the general public's understanding of climate change. But that's a digression, and not one that I want to follow up in a comments flamewar, thanks.)

The third incident was, surprise surprise, Wogan again (the reader's sympathy with my irritation will by now have long since expired!). Following a news item (do you see a pattern here?) about the Lisbon Treaty, he burbled (and I paraphrase because I can't remember the exact wording) "Everybody is getting in a state about the Lisbon Treaty but nobody knows what it is -- you don't know, I don't know, the people who are talking about it don't know." Well, sorry, Terry, but you're wrong: lots of people know. Some of them are paid to know a great deal about the Lisbon Treaty. Others know because they're interested: in politics, in law, in current affairs, in things which affect the world and society in which they live. Even I, with my relative ignorance about (and lack of interest in) European politics, know that it's something to do with reforms to European politics... a bit like the Maastricht Treaty? ... and is a Good Thing for human rights. Bleh, I'm embarrassed at how little I can articulate about it. But, like I said, I'm doing this without research, and I don't work for the BBC; I'm not surrounded by newsmakers and broadcasters, political knowledge resources, expertise. (Okay, I'm surrounded by expertise; but I still don't work for the BBC, and I'm neither asked nor expected to comment on the news.) I don't think I've even read any news articles on the Lisbon Treaty. I fail at current affairs. But if I wanted to know (and we'll come back to that, too) I could look it up. I could read the Wikipedia article to get a kind of overview; I could read (or at least skim) a couple of news articles and figure out the basic outline of what had just happened; I could read a couple of more in-depth news articles (preferably from different viewpoints -- the Economist and the Guardian would do here, no need to check out whether the Daily Mail thinks Lisbon causes cancer) and learn a lot more. But either way, I wouldn't cheerily proclaim my ignorance to my colleagues, and certainly not on national radio. I would admit that I find it hard to feel really engaged with politics at any level other than the local (which is not to say I have no interest in national and international politics, just that I find it big and confusing and everything you read about it is either very dry and academic or very partisan in ways which are not always obvious). I would also sheepishly admit that, for an educated person with access to all the information in the world (or at least the world wide web) I know embarrassingly little about Lisbon, Maastricht, the EU... oh wait, I did admit all that, back there. The embarrassment doesn't make the ignorance any 'better'; I feel (though would struggle to defend it) that the pride makes the ignorance worse; but rather than exercising moral judgements, I want to look at why people wear their ignorance so proudly and shout about it so loudly...

... but I don't have time to do that tonight. (To be continued in a few days' time, probably, as I may not have time to finish writing/keying the rest tomorrow or Saturday.)

Bloke calls

Jun. 9th, 2009 09:01 am
j4: (admin)
This was sent to webmaster:

I enclose an email from the telecoms people. It
is virtually illiterate: is it real?? And why
cant you sort out these sutomated calls that are
so irritating?...please! AD.

Date: Mon, 8 Jun 2009 09:23:23 +0100

Good Morning

You're Administrator will have to officially
request the number change.
I'm afraid there are far too many company's doing
cold calling we can not
bloke them all and they regularly change the
outgoing number. We only bloke
calls in serious cases such a threatening and
abusive calls.

Best Regard
Telecoms


I did laugh at "bloke calls", but note that 'AD' (who also can't type, doesn't understand punctuation, and for some reason thinks webmaster is the person to contact about getting a phone fixed) is a professor.

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