Too Young to Comment on Thatcher?

Since when was a politician’s only effects felt when they were in office? When Winston Churchill was no longer prime minister, did the UK go back to war with Germany? When Tony Blair was replaced by Gordon Brown did we automatically pull out of Iraq? The policies and ideologies which Margaret Thatcher implemented during her period as prime minister are largely still with us today, so why can’t I comment on the life of a woman who has affected the world I was born into and have grown up in – just because I wasn’t around when she was in office?

It really is tiring to justify yourself and your opinion to people older than you – so often you are given a patronising pat on the head like “Well done for trying, but you’re too young to understand.” I understand just fine, thank you. Child poverty during Thatcher’s government was the worst in the developed world at the time (the current Conservative government are doing their damnedest to surpass those levels, though – what a goal!). This surely was helped by her government putting countless working class people out of work by closing shipyards and coal mines, to name just two examples.

The fact she was the UK’s first and only female prime minister meant almost nothing for women of her gender – she actively despised feminism and what it stood for, believing that the women’s liberation movement had gone far enough (in the 80s, really?). She actually proclaimed feminism to be “poison”, surrounded herself with powerful men – and certain publications have been trying to portray her as a feminist icon. Give me a break.

Thatcher became an archetypal Conservative by her striving towards privatisation (aside from the NHS and National Rail, which have since been at least partially privatised by different Tory governments). She is the woman who is behind the massive electricity and gas bills you have received in the last few months, hiding it under the banner that prices will go down due to competition.

Her political ideology has been picked up by Southern republican politicians over in the USA, and surely that can’t be seen by a positive thing. Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg all claim to have been influenced by her politics, further clarifying that all three have been cut from the same cloth – making all three of them unelectable, at least to me.

Thatcherism is still alive and well today, it serves as a driving factor to widen the gap between the richest and poorest in this country. Frankly, it’s disgusting. Surely the only right thing for the current government to do is to provide Thatcher with a funeral/cremation, funded by the private sector. It’s what she would have wanted.

I am bycotting all news sites and TV news until the woman is buried on 17th April. Good riddance to her, it’s just a shame her politics didn’t die with her.

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Accidentally in Love…

Arya Stark – tiny and ferocious. Turned out to be a perfect name for my dog, too. Source: fansshare.com

I didn’t mean for it to happen, and certainly didn’t expect for it to happen as quickly as it did. After watching HBO’s Game of Thrones, I was certainly intrigued enough to purchase the first novel in George R. R. Martin’s series “A Song of Ice and Fire”. Although the price of the whole series was much smaller than that of buying the individual parts, I wasn’t sure I would enjoy his writing style (I am not the biggest fantasy fan to ever walk this earth, although I will happily give anything a try aside from 50 Shades of Shit).

On first look as I downloaded the kindle version was “That may be the most chapter dots I’ve seen, outdoing both Of Human Bondage and Les Misérables”. I should explain for those without the most brilliant piece of technology I have the fortune to own, even outstripping the wonderful laptop I’m typing this out on that on the kindle home screen, your progress through books is highlighted by a series of dots underneath each book title. As you read each chapter/section, a dot becomes bold. Longer books will therefore have more dots underneath their titles.

When watching the Game of Thrones series on TV, it took at least 3 episodes for it to totally engage me. There’s only so much interest I can hold in an episode which includes the selling off of a teenager, incest and a child being kicked out of a window for accidentally coming across the couple (it’s barely a spoiler so shush). Yet somehow, the plights of some of the characters drew me in – along with some absolutely brilliant acting by Peter Dinklage as Tyrion Lannister, a dwarf with an appetite for wine and women as big as any man you come across in the series. Nonetheless, the series is very engaging viewing once you can get past the inordinate numbers of tits you see per episode (and a couple of dick views in later episodes).

It took literally 2 chapters of A Game of Thrones for me to be totally enthralled by George R. R. Martin’s writing style. It is intimate as each chapter is from the point of view of a single character, yet it keeps its distance as it is written in the third person. I think my understanding of the characters and interplay between them was made easier by having seen the series first, but this did not lessen my enjoyment as clearly in a 900+ page book, only so much of the detail can make it onto TV.

The characters in the novel seem almost more real than those I can see on TV, as in the novel you can tell what each is thinking, instead of having to rely upon actors to do this. This is not a slight on the series, but there’s only so much a face can convey. During the first novel, I developed a few theories about what might happen, my hopes and ambitions for certain characters (including the wish that Sansa Stark would stop being a silly little girl and realise how truly vile Prince Joffrey is)

I am now over half way through the second novel, A Clash of Kings, and suspect I will finish it before the weekend arrives. I have been warned of what is to come, yet that has only increased the suspense. Looking at spoilers is something I do for fun with TV shows, yet I don’t want to look up what’s going to happen in the lives of the characters of Westeros.

This series has entirely caught me in its’ web. I haven’t felt this way since I was a little girl and read the first Harry Potter novel. It’s a very comforting feeling, knowing that when I finish this blog I can escape from the boredom of my tiny bedroom and be a fly on the wall through a story with such twists and turmoil, you really can’t see what’s coming next.

I’m just happy to be along for the ride. And I hope Cersei gets her comeuppance.

Am I Seeing Through the Matrix?

You are now entering…England? Source: http://easypcsetup.co.uk

As I have mentioned on here before, I am from a small town in the south of Scotland. As much as I complain about not being able to walk one length of the high street to the other without meeting someone you know, it’s actually pretty nice if you’ve been stuck in the house by yourself all day. People from the outside probably see it as being a bit backwards and more than a little quaint.

However, I’m not entirely sure this place actually exists outside of our own imaginations. The region I live in is called the Scottish Borders, and my hometown has the office of an MSP in it, so I am pretty sure this is Scotland. Yet somehow, it doesn’t seem like it when I turn on the TV, or read news online.

Scottish Television (STV) is not available here. In fact, my channel 3 is entitled “ITV Border” which means nothing of the sort. My “local” news is entirely focused upon Carlisle and Newcastle. When did I suddenly move across the border?

There’s not even a section for anywhere south of Midlothian on the STV news website.

There is however, one upside to this. I get to watch certain Champion’s League football games which are shown on English TV and not in Scotland.

I just find myself wondering – if Scotland votes for independence in 2014: will STV actually recognise us as part of this country?

Are You A Psychopath?

Does this apply to you? Source: rachelnico.wordpress.com

Jon Ronson’s The Psychopath Test has lead me to question what I actually know about the world. It is a very interesting book, starting with a mystery and leading you through what he has labelled the “madness industry” – psychiatric hospitals, psychologists, neurologists, even Scientologists who have the most profound distrust of psychology in all its forms.

Statistically, 1% of the non-prison population are psychopaths. Some of those Ronson contacted in research for this book informed him that psychopaths have low brain function in the amygdala, (he himself suffers from anxiety, which leads to increased amygdala function) which is the part of the brain used for emotive learning. At the most basic level, a psychopath can attempt to imitate emotions displayed by others, but can’t actually feel this themselves. This was called into question when Ronson was talking to a man he deemed to be a corporate psychopath said he cried over his dog’s death. However Bob Hare, who devised the world’s most widely-used test for psychopathy, said this man was reduced to tears because his dog was a possession he had control over. The man would not have cried if a member of his family had died, but would probably have been uncontrollably angry if someone was to scratch one of his cars.

Another example of this breakdown of amygdala function and loss of emotional learning is in the case where Ronson mentions one inmate who was being considered “recovering” who then went out and hacked another patient in the facility, claiming he wanted to know what it felt like (even though he had already committed a previous murder) when challenged about the previous murder, he said “It was a really, really, really long time ago.”

In this book, psychopathy is characterised as a pathological need to control everything around you, using many malicious means to do so. A psychopath would possess superficial charm, being able to talk people around to their way of thinking.

The aforementioned Bob Hare Psychopathy Test contains 20 criteria, which are marked between 0 (does not match this) and 2 (completely fits this). If the interviewee gets a score of 30 or more, they can be diagnosed with psychopathy and can be consigned to a psychiatric hospital for the remainder of their lives.

It is thought that psychopathy cannot be cured. Some psychiatrists in Canada in the 1960’s worked with the theory that psychopaths needed to work through their anger instead of hiding behind their “mask of sanity”. One psychiatrist took away all outside stimuli from his patients, gave them LSD and observed from behind a two-way mirror. On the outside, it appeared to be these psychopathic patients were recovering, developing actualised emotions. A striking fact from the book was that when released from an institution, 60% of psychopaths will reoffend. In this hospital in Canada, 80% of released patients went on to reoffend.

In the opening few chapters of the book, Ronson proffers the point that psychopaths actually make the world go round, that society in its current form is actually the product of psychopathy – that the other 99% of the population are under the influence of psychopaths. I found this an interesting point as it is mentioned that people who are at the top of companies, government etc need to lack empathy and remorse for their actions (2 of the categories on Hare’s psychopath test) to be able to take the tough decisions for entire nations/economies.

If when reading The Psychopath Test, you question your own psyche – the chances are that you are not a psychopath. Even if you score yourself reasonably highly on the test (which I will be posting at the end of this blog), you are still self-aware enough of your actions that you can’t be a psychopath.

All in all, Ronson’s book was excellent. A very thought provoking, interesting look into psychopaths, the people who have attempted to diagnose and treat them, and the effects this small minority of people have in the world. I would recommend this to people who have an interest in true crime, psychology or those who are just curious.

The Psychopath Test

  • Glib and superficial charm
  • Grandiose sense of self worth
  • Need for stimulation (easily bored)
  • Pathological Lying
  • Cunning or manipulativeness
  • Lack of remorse or guilt
  • Shallow affect (superficial emotive responses)
  • Callousness and lack of empathy
  • Parasitic lifestyle
  • Poor behavioural controls
  • Sexual promiscuity
  • Early behavioural issues
  • Lack of realistic long-term goals
  • Impulsivity
  • Irresponsibility
  • Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  • Many short-term marital relationships
  • Juvenile delinquency
  • Revocation of conditional release
  • Criminal versatility

The Power of Female Anger

And no, this isn’t going to be some Suzanne Moore-esque breakdown where I insult minorities and react terribly to it.

I have spent a few days wondering whether it’s a good idea to post this or not, but this is actually going to give me gastric ulcers if I don’t get this out one way or another.

As I have already explained in another post, I don’t react kindly to being openly insulted. What I didn’t post about is that I react to being patronised even worse. A condescending pat on the head would be enough to send me into a fit of splenetic rage, and I feel in this case it is actually warranted.

At what age does ones opinion begin to be taken seriously? I’m genuinely curious to garner opinion about this as I found out that at 21, I’m still young enough that someone will condescend to me and “go easy” when I engage them in a debate.

If it wasn’t 12:48am I would add more about this engagement with someone proclaiming to be erudite, yet completely misunderstanding and disregarding feminism, but I am tired and would like to finish this chapter of The Psychopath Test before I go to sleep.

 

A True Dichotomy: I Am An Organised Mess.

Credit: nerdyknitter.wordpress.com

Credit: nerdyknitter.wordpress.com

The first book which I have finished in 2012, Jon Richardson’s not-an-autobiography-but-about-his-current-situation cleverly entitled It’s Not Me, It’s You! Impossible perfectionist, 27, seeks very very very tidy woman, has made me feel a little introspection is in order.

One of the first distinctions he makes between people is those who are “putters” and those who are “leavers”. Ask yourself the question – where are your keys? If you answered “Where I put them, in the *insert where the keys live here*”, then you are part of the former. If you answered “Uhm, where I left them”, then you are a leaver. Richardson makes the mistake in assuming that all people who are leavers lead chaotic lives. I am the opposite – I am a chaotic putter. I know where my keys, bag, phone and glasses are (I put them in the same place each night/when I come home). But I, like most people, misplace things like TV remotes, hair ties and socks. It actually drives me mad being this woefully inept at putting things where they belong.

As I read on, I had the realisation that I am an utter dichotomy. The very definition of an organised mess. My room at my parents’ house is tiny, yet I can’t keep it tidy. However, the books I have on the shelf above my bed are separated into fiction and non-fiction, then sorted by alphabetical order. I even took a few hours to sort my boyfriend’s mammoth CD collection into alphabetical order, and they’re kept hidden from view! I am organised, but I am lazy.

My compulsion to keep things tidy actually extends to updating this blog. If I have ideas, they are jotted in the back of one notebook, to later be copied out into the “draft” notebook. I write in pen, yet hate making mistakes. I am not above tearing out a full page after making a mistake on the second line.

If only my opening my bedroom door would look like this every day.

If only my opening my bedroom door would look like this every day.

I cannot abide people who are constantly late or are unreliable to get in contact with – Jon Richardson agrees with me on this. Perhaps it’s my own fear of being left behind by the normal people who turn up on time. It’s like the concept of time just passed some people by completely, like being an inconvenience to people in cinemas by turning up after the previews have started. Totally inconsiderate.

Richardson also talks about having breakfast in what he sees as being the right way, always leaving the best parts until last. I am quite sure my habit of eating food in a logical way stems from my disordered eating which still plagues me to this day. People talk of the joy of a roast dinner being eating everything together. No. It’s always vegetables, then potatoes, yorkshire pudding followed by the main event – the roast meat. This causes me to eat slower than most people – but there’s little more enjoyable than finishing a perfect plate of food. Yes, I am that easily pleased.

If my bed wasn’t so comfortable, and if I weren’t so damned lazy, my life would be a wonderful, organised place.

I really enjoyed this book, and even if you are not in the same type of mindset as myself (those content with keeping things unordered). This is a man who has a successful career as a stand-up comic in the UK and lives his life with what he believes to be Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. He can still live his life normally, but little things can really irritate him. It’s an interesting insight into his mind, and a very engaging read.

Out of the Swing of Things

I need to start getting back into the swing of writing on here again. Since I posted about the potential risk to a woman’s right to choose which took more than a month to prepare, I am totally stumped with what to write about. I am now no longer working (proof that hard work is no guarantee of a permanent position in Christmas temp work) and have more time on my hands – so where are my ideas?

Over the last couple of days, when I have had access to the laptop I am writing this on, I’ve written four drafts, all of which have been defeated. This blog was meant to be for me getting out what I need to, and I’m not managing to get that done because it’s not engaging or entertaining enough. It’s not like many people read this, let alone comment.

I have been exploring wordpress over the last few days, engaging with people who have been writing on topics I have already dealt with and don’t really want to rehash. But it has been interesting, hearing another person’s viewpoint. Why do people not connect with me here? Is this my hidden corner of cyberspace with over 40 followers who’re meant to be reading little pieces of literary brilliance from myself?

Can someone in the news not just be an arsehole so I can get angry again? It would really make getting back in the habit easier.