Are you comfortably numb?

Thursday, March 30, 2006


I've just been on the phone to 02 for a ridiculous amount of time. The first person I spoke to, a Scottish woman, was quite impressively unhelpful. The second person I spoke to, a Scottish man, was quite impressively helpful, but just as we were getting somewhere, the line went, and I couldn't remember his name. I phoned back and got another bloke, this time called Piers, and very English. Smarmy as they come. After well over 20 minutes of attempted negotiations, I managed to secure a contract that was vaguely suitable for my needs... vaguely being the operative word. The problem is that you can't have anything personalised. It's their tariff or nothing. You can't buy bolt-ons of minutes, only texts. And the worst thing, you can't upgrade from a 12-month to an 18-month contract, EVEN THOUGH THIS WOULD MAKE THEM MORE MONEY, just because, well, you can't.

They are astoundingly inflexible. I am seriously thinking of leaving them. But by the time I'm allowed to get out of my contract it will be a year from now and then I will probably just not be bothered to do anything about it. The evil fist of the corporation has beaten me into submission. And there was nothing Piers could do about it.

Furthermore, he asked me what I was 'reading' at uni, and I then found out that he read LAW at university. And yet he is still manning an O2 customer 'service' phone. Fantastic.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

I have an illness

Procrastinititus. Try saying that out loud by the way. It's a fairly sporadic disease but it seems to come over me when I have large amounts of work that I should be doing. Over the last few days the symptoms have been fairly severe: they include being unable to get out of bed, having an overwhelming urge to use the internet instead of writing essays, posting ridiculous amounts on messaging boards, and reading the backlog of other people's blogs. Lesser clues are: looking at my nails for long periods of time, staring out of the window at Pershore Road (interesting...) and "needing" to make myself cups of tea to "help me work".

It really is quite sad. On Monday, essay deadline date, I bet all the important POLSIS people are going to be really sorry to hear about my affliction. In fact, I have no doubt that filling out the mitigation forms with revelations of my disease will help solve it.

But then again, I hear it's a pretty contagious virus - students are coming down with it by the thousands. A particularly vicious variety is dissertatiprocrastinititus.

I hear the only thing that cures it is a large dose of will power...

Speaking of which...

Monday, March 13, 2006

Response to comments!

Hi everyone!

Well thanks very much for the feedback - it's good to have a little discussion going on. The reason I write is to instigate critical engagement and modify my opinions, which I am fully aware need refining.... so thank you.

By the way, I'd love it if you put your name at the bottom if you're posting anonymously, so if I know you I know where you're coming from!

Will: I agree that a lot of Africa's problems stem from corrupt governments, etc. However, to ignore the problems the first world have inflicted on areas of the developing world is wrong. Take the African cotton farmers' dispute with the WTO. How is it fair that the US government prevents the (very productive) cotton farmers from getting a global price for their produce, when southern US farmers get FOUR TIMES this amount because of subsidies? Not to mention general problems with the WTO with 'elite' countries getting far more of a say in what happens. And take Ethiopia - a government that wasn't corrupt under Meles, was in a relatively stable economic position, and the IMF refuses to lend them money because he won't implement neo-liberal policies (until Stiglitz fought and fought for them to change their minds). It's not all corrupt governments and civil war...

What I think of the cartoons stuff? Wrote a comment on it a while ago, will type it up and email you it.

Didn't see the Liddle Prog as don't have a Tv - my third eye is still wide open.

Second anonymous:
You're right about the song lyric - the result of busting out a piece at 8am on a saturday morning cos the fancy took me. haha. Still, i think 'thank God its them instead of you' is perhaps even worse. And about the PCD - I in no way said the women had been forced to sing that lyric. I'm saying even though they're women, they're being derogatory towards women (themselves?). The whole song lacks any respect between the sexes. My argument on this point, elaborated on in an equally dubiously argued article below on feminism, is that women have a seriously erroneous misconception on what it means to be 'empowered'. The PCD probably thought they were being all feminist by singing those ridiculous lyrics. I don't quite understand why you think that song is okay if you're against 'Milkshake' - they both seem to be suffering from the same problems.

Paul - maybe. I still think it's a pretty offensive song that masks its poorly expressed sentiments behind a veneer of equally poor music.

The main point in all of this seems to have been relatively lost amongst my bad argument. I am interested to know whether people agree with my general assertion - that offensive sentiments are in fact made acceptable through the medium of music?

Maybe I will re-write that article in a better way soon!


Saturday, March 04, 2006

Racism + Music = Non-offensive

It recently struck me, amongst all the furore over free speech, that we allow a lot more offensive attitudes to be aired through the medium of song than through speech. There have been a number of releases over the last few months which have led me to metaphorically, sometimes even literally, gasp in horror when their lyrics have poisoned my ear drums.

Misogyny is the key evil perpetrated by these musical misdemeanours, with the equivalent towards men – Mrogyny? – sometimes evident as well. The Pussycat Dolls song ‘Beep’ is a prime example. With lyrics such as ‘You got real big brains, but I’m looking at your…’ and ‘I’m a do my thing while you’re playing with your…’ the song patently endorses misogyny by glorifying and endorsing male exploitation of women based on their physical assets. Some may argue that it’s “okay” because she tells him where to get off, but the whole concept of the song is devoid of any respect between the two sexes.

I can hear what you’re saying already. The words ‘lighten up’ and ‘it’s only a bit of fun’ are probably emanating from your amused lips as you read. But at risk of sounding like someone who takes life far too seriously, I think a point needs to be made, and heeded, here. Imagine if you heard the words of ‘Nasty Girl’ (Notorious B.I.G.) spoken out loud by a man: ‘I need you to strip… I need you to grind like you’re working for tips’. Would you be laughing it off as a bit of fun, or would you be wanting to punch him in the face and forcing a copy of The Female Eunuch into his groping hands? I doubt that most girls, who may enjoy dancing to such songs, would be telling me to lighten up if a man actually spoke those words, rather than sung them.

Another example which I find astounding is the Live Aid song, ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas’. A lamentable song for a commendable cause. In writing this article I looked up the song on the internet and found a plethora of sites condemning it for its ridiculously out-dated (read: offensive) sentiments. Take the line, ‘and there won’t be snow in Africa this Christmas time’. Not only is this factually incorrect, it is just one part of a flawed ethos which the song embraces. Take pity on the poor Africans, they don’t have snow, they live somewhere where ‘nothing ever grows, no rains or rivers flow’, so let’s ‘Thank God it’s them not us’ (possibly the most offensive line in the song). And yet we belt this song out at Christmas, and recycle it for 2005’s Live8, at the same time condemning racism with hypocritical lips.

This would not happen if the song were a written speech. If Bob Geldof stood up and spoke those lyrics to the world, he would be condemned as ignorant, if not racist. Yet because it’s set to music (and let’s not forget, lots of A-list celebs sing on it), it’s acceptable.

There is an extent to which prejudices are perpetrated and perpetuated by discourse. Misogyny and racism are no exceptions. Next time you hear a song and find yourself humming along, ask, ‘What message is this sending out? Would I be so quick to agree if it was written down?’ Don’t ignore the power of song. It has been used in a positive way; don’t let it rekindle the flames of hatred still burning in some areas of society.