Saturday, 26 February 2011

Girls will be Boys and Boys will be Girls

Andrej Pejic
I have long argued that the biggest problem with the fashion industry is that it is run by gay men because - by definition - gay men don't generally like looking at women. Therefore, models are generally over 5'10" - how many women do you know that are over 5'10" tall? I can count the ones I know on my thumbs! Plus the models are so thin they have no hips or bust and, overall, look far more like adolescent boys than women. I was, therefore, not surprised to learn that Andrej Pejic actually is a 19-year-old man!

I was rather more surprised to find my view on the domination of the industry by gay men being an issue printed in an article in the Daily Mail where Liz Jones writes, "These girls have been used as a smokescreen, so that the gay men who run the industry can continue to peddle the idea that women should look like adolescent boys (it was no coincidence that nerdy, weedy boys walked the runway in womenswear this season)." and again, in the same paper where another writer - Amanda Platell - states, "It was an edict by the fashion mafia buyers, trend-setters, photographers, but especially the designers. They decreed that to look good in their creations a model couldn’t look like a woman. She had to be flat-chested, devoid of hips, with collarbones you could hook a clothes hanger on. In fact, she has to look less like a woman and more like a boy."
Martyna Budna

But all this reading about London Fashion Week has meant that, once again, I've actually looked at some photos of models going down the catwalk, and realised that their individual listing photos show their heads only so you can't see, at a glance, how painfully thin they are. But I fail to understand how anybody can think a woman who is this thin looks anything but starved. If she was standing in the middle of Africa, and not on a London Catwalk, the Red Cross would be holding a collection to buy emergency aid to feed her! It is totally obscene, and I can understand why it was reported that, "Samantha Cameron didn't crack a smile yesterday as super-skinny models paraded past at London Fashion Week." and she's the ambassador for Fashion Week!

Monday, 21 February 2011

Arrogance, Ignorance And Greed

Nice to see the Protest Song is still alive and well...

All I wanted was a home; a roof over our heads -
Somewhere we could call our own and feel safer in our beds.
There was a storm of money raining down; it only touched the ground
With a loan I took I can't repay and the crock of gold you found.
At every trough you stopped to feed,
With your arrogance, your ignorance and greed.

I never was a cautious man; I spend more than I'm paid.
But those with something put aside are the ones that you betrayed,
With your bonuses and expenses you shovelled down your throat.
Now you bit the hand that fed you. Dear God I hope you choke!

At every trough you stopped to feed,
With your arrogance, you ignorance and greed.
You're on your yacht, we're on our knees,
Through your arrogance, your ignorance and greed.

The toxic spring you tapped and sold,
Poisoned every watering hole.
Your probity you exchanged for gold.

A working man stands in line, the market sets his price.
No feather bed, no golden egg, no-one pays him twice.
So where's your thrift and your caution, your honest sound advice?
You know you dealt yourself a winning hand and loaded every dice.

At every trough you stopped to feed
With your arrogance, your ignorance and greed.
I pray one day we'll soon be free
From your absolute indifference,
Your avarice, incompetence,
Your arrogance, your ignorance, your greed.

All rights remain with Show of Hands and the song's writer, Steve Knightly.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Are exams getting easier?

To start with, a sample of an 11+ exam:
1968 11+ Maths Paper (taken at age 10)

Originally the General Certificate of Education (GCE) 'O' level was taken by pupils at grammar schools (i.e. those where the pupils had previously passed the 11+ exam) while pupils at secondary modern schools generally took the Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE).

Over time, the grammar school system was abandoned in favour of comprehensive schools which left two exam systems with overlapping grades (a 1 at CSE was generally reckoned to be equivalent to a C at O level). For each pupil/subject one of these exams had to be selected, either by the pupil on the advice of their teacher, or by the teacher. To simplify this, the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education) was introduced to combine these two exams.

These two links will take you to an example of a Maths 'O' Level and a sample GCSE:
1968 Maths 'O' Level - Paper I
GCSE Mathematics Module, November 2009
And before you point out, this is only one of the papers for the GCSE, the rest, and the marking scheme, are available here.

I leave it to the reader to decide if these two exams are equivalent.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

More on unexpected ingredients

OK, I know crisps will never count as a health food but....

I've recently been eating Walker's 'SunBites' which are labelled as "Wholegrain Snacks; Bursting with the goodness of Wholegrains" on the front of the pack. The back declares:
  • We prepare SunBites with Sunseed oil - which is naturally higher in mono-unsaturates and lower in saturates.
  • Even better, because they're bursting with wholegrains, you get fibre and essential nutrients in every bag.
  • We insist that SunBites are made using no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.
  • Last but not least, they have 30% LESS FAT than regular crisps.

So what is in these wonders of a healthy snack?
Wholegrains (67%) (whole corn, whole wheat, whole oat flour) - Not entirely sure I understand what 'whole oat flour' actually is, but we'll let that one alone.
Sunflower oil (18%)
Rice flour (13%)
Sugar - Sugar? In crisps? Why? Given the previous three ingredients count for 98% of the ingredients, the sugar could be nearly 2% of the crisps. But crisps are meant to be savoury, so why add any sugar?
Sun ripened chilli flavour (natural flavouring, chilli, soy sauce powder, fennel oil, star anise oil, ginger, paprika, dried onion, citric acid) - well they are sun ripened chilli flavour SunBites but what on earth is 'sun ripened chilli flavour' and why does it contain so many ingredients? It's also worth remembering that paprika can also be listed as E160c and citric acid as E330 - presumably that's why the first ingredient in this flavour is 'natural flavouring'.

I can remember when crisps were very thinly sliced potato deep fried with salt and vinegar added to taste (or not for those of us who don't like vinegar). I also realise these are a snack, not crisps, which is why they are made from ground up whole-grains blended with oil and extruded into crisp-like shapes. But I still don't see why they need added sugar.