Saturday, December 31, 2005

Happy New Year

We have had a great Christmas seeing friends and family, relaxing and eating and drinking too much. We stayed with my boyfriend’s patents for Christmas day and had a great time. It was a real family day with my boyfriend’s sister staying and Granddad joining us for the meal. My boyfriend loves fancy wrappings and it was a shame to open everything.

We got some great presents. I, practical as ever, got a new tie and cufflinks for work, although no work shirts this year. At 34 I am quite happy with these gifts. But, to prove I am not just a work orientated bore there was also a Mighty Boosh theme with a signed copy of the radio series on CD, DVD of first the TV series and tickets for their live show next year.

One of the highlights though, has to be visiting the local pub in Stockton on Christmas Eve. I present….The Rimswell…what more can I say? (sorry for the blurred photo)

I hope you have had a great Christmas wherever you are and have a great new year. See you in 2006. Jay x

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas chill

5 days to go!!! I have a few last minute things to buy and need to get some gifts for my senior team at work and then I am all done. This has been a relatively stress free run up to Christmas mainly because my perfect boyfriend loves shopping and planning. He has done most of the preliminary scouting so all I need to do is check out a shortlist of approved gifts for friends and family and make sure my wallet is handy. He has also made, addressed and written the Christmas cards; all I had to do was sign by the cross.

I am not a humbug who dreads Christmas shopping, but the older I get the less inclined I am to spend hours fighting through the crowds for more worthless tat. Our presents this year are well thought out and tend be things that can be used straight away (alcohol and scrummy snacks) or things specifically requested by our families. I am hoping there will nothing that gathers dust or ends up on eBay after a couple of weeks. I have also been firm about limiting spending. If someone is crossed of the list there is no need to buy more things – however appropriate. I am sure that this all does make be sound like Ebenezer Scrooge, but I'd rather have cash left to go out with friends and family and enjoy ourselves.

I finish work on Friday – I have said my team can have the day off and I will provide cover – that should allow me an uninterrupted day to clear my desk and hopefully a bit of an earlier finish for me too.

I am most looking forward to seeing both our families, especially my niece, and then getting back home for a few days of doing absolutely nothing!

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Sleepy head

Please be Friday. Please be Friday. Please be Friday. *screws up eyes and wishes very hard*

Had a lovely evening last night with some friends coming for dinner and staying over with their little baby. Enjoyable evening and as the super-efficient boyfriend had done most of the cooking and cleaning I just had to look handsome and entertain with my sparkling wit.

However, drinking and late night entertaining on a school night is taking its toll. I would dearly love to go home tonight and sleep for the weekend, but it isn't going to happen.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Is it really possible?

I know I am not the first person to blog about evolution versus creationism (the doctrine that claims human origins are recent and divine), but I find it impossible to believe the recent findings of a CBS poll. The poll found that 51 per cent of Americans rejected the theory of evolution, believing instead that God created humans in their present form.

Yes – 51% of the dumbos reject the theory of evolution, contrary to the evidence that archaeologists and scientists across the world have found. CBS ran another poll that found that 37 per cent of Americans think that creationism should be taught in schools, instead of evolution.

What???!! Maybe you could say that creationism should be taught as well. For example, I was told the story of God creating the universe in 7 days as part of my religious studies course, but it had far less prominence than the teaching of evolution in science classes.

Maybe it comes a no surprise to find that the an exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History in New York celebrating the life of Charles Darwin has failed to find a corporate sponsor because American companies are anxious not to take sides in the heated debate between scientists and fundamentalist Christians over the theory of evolution. The Telegraph reports that "The failure of American companies to back what until recently would have been considered a mainstream educational exhibition reflects the growing influence of fundamentalist Christians, who are among President George W Bush's most vocal supporters, over all walks of life in the United States."

In many ways I think the biggest threat to a harmonious peace in the world is not from fundamental Islam, but fundamental Christians. Literal interpretation of the bible (even if you support the translations referred to) is used to oppose practically all aspects of modern society.

I am sure that this is really just a right-wing minority of fundamentalist, just as suicide bombers represent the fringes of fundamental Muslims. Unfortunately, Bush seems to enjoy their financial support to the degree that he will support their demands. It is perhaps unsurprising that 47% of Bush voters supported teaching creationism instead of evolution in schools versus 24% of Kerry voters.

Thank God (!), I have yet to see a campaign for teaching creationism in the UK. I know that there are some private technology colleges in Britain where this is a concern, but there does not seem to be the widespread public or political support for this movement. Indeed, in April 2002 a group of clerics and scientists highlighted their concerns about the improper teaching of faith based systems in British schools. In a letter to the Prime Minister, the group - which included Sir David Attenborough, Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees, and six (count them... 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) bishops, expressed concern over the introduction of creationism in British schools, a problem that has in the past been confined to American education. More...

More on the way Bush's administration rejects scientific discussion at:

George Bush Misrepresents Science and Knowledge

A scathing report from the Union of Concerned Scientists

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

What a Gay Day!

So, Civil Partnerships are here and 1,200 couples have already registered their intention to sign the register. Even Elton has got in on the act. The BBC reports that Brighton and Hove will be conducting 198 ceremonies before the end of the year. Overall, the city has taken 510 bookings for the coming months, thought to be the highest in the country. Other cities which have seen strong interest include London, Manchester, Birmingham, Newcastle and Edinburgh.

As I live in Newcastle I was interested that my city has the fourth highest number of provisional bookings, even if this is just 80. My partner got some info from the council last week, and if we book now we can have the ceremony on New Year's Eve. Don't think we will be doing it that quickly though, as we haven't decided whether to treat it as simply a legal process to ensure we have the same rights as married couples - tenancy, ownership, pensions and inheritance; or whether to make a big deal with family and friends and a full-on party.

Lorraine Dewison, Superintendent Registrar at Newcastle City Council, said: “We have been delighted at the response by members of the gay and lesbian community and I am looking forward to helping couples plan their special day and this important chapter of their lives.”

Provisional Bookings (BBC)
Brighton and Hove: 510
Westminster: 140
Manchester: 88
Newcastle: 80
Birmingham: 70
Leeds: 60
Edinburgh: 76
Sheffield: 58
Nottingham: 50
Glasgow: 30
Cardiff: 24
Belfast: 20
Liverpool 20

Really, it is a pretty momentous change and should go a long way to normalising the place of gay couples in society. Legal recognition is important in legitimising gay relationships and showing young men and women that the feelings they are coming to terms with are normal.

I see that New Zealand has also recognised same-sex partnerships. The Civil Union Bill, which passed by 65 votes to 55, also recognises unions between men and women who do not want to marry. The new law takes effect next April.

The BBC has a useful page showing the status of same sex relationships across the world, as well as a map of the different US states position on gay marriage.