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Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Who’d be female under Islamic law?

Sometimes I despair. I really do. The content in the article by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in The Independent has made me despair today. Especially the bit quoted. Read the rest via the link below. Or maybe not. Do something to make yourself happy instead.

Iranian painter Delara Darabi, only 22 and in prison since she was 17, accused of murdering an elderly relative, was hanged last week even though she had been given a temporary stay of execution by the chief justice of the country. She phoned her mother on the day of her hanging to beg for help and the phone was snatched by a prison official who told them: “We will easily execute your daughter and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Her paintings reveal the cruelty to which she was subjected.

Read More: Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: Who’d be female under Islamic law? – Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, Commentators – The Independent

6 years after…

It was 6 years ago today that I had an appointment with a Urologist in the Ulster Hospital to get a check-up for what looked like testicular cancer. It was. Now 6 years later I’m 50% deficient in the bollock department [the other one still works 😉 ] but still here to annoy people. Which is good.


I’m not sure Willpower is the correct title for this post. But it’ll do. I recently posted this tweet to my Twitter stream:


To which Bill Cooke replied:


This got me thinking. I tend to make what looks like snap decisions about some things I want to do and once I’ve made such a decision it doesn’t matter what happens. I stick to it. So last week after a few weeks thinking about it my brain just clicked and I decided that I had to start following a more healthy lifestyle. I recognised the feeling I got at the time. It was like a virtual line in the sand and I’ve had the same feelings with other decisions before. For example I stopped smoking in the 1980’s with a similar thought process. I thought about it for about a month then one day I smoked the last cigarette I had and decided that was it. I never smoked again. That was over 20 years ago. Another, more trivial example, comes from when I was playing cricket. I was always a bowler and a joke with the bat. One year I decided that I needed to improve my batting. That year I came 2nd in the 2nd XI batting averages and scored a couple of fifties. There are other examples as well.

It seems that when I make a decision of this type I stick to it. So even if Bill’s comment is true, and to be honest I have had periods of hunger between meals in the last week, it doesn’t matter as I’ll just ignore it. It’s a strange felling and thought process to describe to people. It’s like a binary switch in my brain is flicked when I make one of these decisions and that’s it. I do whatever it takes to bring about what I’ve decided. Does anyone else get this? Does anyone know what I’m describing here (badly describing)? Is this just a manifestation of willpower? I don’t know. I just know that I recognise this type of decision when it happens and can now say for sure that the goal will be achieved. That might sound big-headed. It’s not meant to be.

Interestingly I think there is another thing that I’ve been thinking about for a while that seems to be heading to another decision of this type. It’s quite a profound one as well. Maybe more details in future.

What would be good if I could decide that I want to be a shit hot iPhone developer using this process 🙂 Unfortunately it doesn’t feel the same when thinking about that topic so I don’t think it’s going to happen. I’ll have to just trudge along on that topic.

Larry David: Waiting for Nov. 4th

Larry David is cracking up waiting for the USA election to happen –

I can’t take much more of this. Two weeks to go, and I’m at the end of my rope. I can’t work. I can eat, but mostly standing up. I’m anxious all the time and taking it out on my ex-wife, which, ironically, I’m finding enjoyable. This is like waiting for the results of a biopsy. Actually, it’s worse. Biopsies only take a few days, maybe a week at the most, and if the biopsy comes back positive, there’s still a potential cure. With this, there’s no cure. The result is final. Like death.

More at: Larry David: Waiting for Nov. 4th

Conservative Humanist Association

A new Conservative Humanist Association has been formed for atheist and humanist Conservatives. That’d include me then 🙂 Just renewed my membership of the Conservative Party by joining the Northern Ireland Conservatives. If you want to see normal UK politics operating in Northern Ireland, and if you have Conservative leanings, then join up. If you don’t have conservative leanings then join on of the other UK wide parties NI sections.

Obama quote on schools from The Audacity of Hope

I’m reading Barack Obama’s The Audacity of Hope at the minute. The following excerpt struck me:

Sometimes we need both cultural transformation and government action – a change in values and a change in policy – to promote the kind of society we want. The state of our inner-city schools is a case in point. All the money in the world won’t boost student achievement if parents make no effort to instil in their children the values of hard work and delayed gratification. But when we as a society pretend that poor children will fulfil their potential in dilapidated, unsafe schools with outdated equipment and teachers who aren’t trained in the subjects they teach, we are perpetrating a lie on these children, and on ourselves. We are betraying our values.

I work in an area related the UK Building Schools for the Future programme. I think that the money being spent modernising schools is money well spent. For the reasons outlined by Barack Obama in the quoted text above.

The book is highly recommended.

Back on the bike

I’ve started using my exercise bike again. I don’t think I’ve used it for about 10 months. Recently I’ve been feeling overweight and just generally not as fit as I usually do. I’ve also had a more or less continuous pain in my side (near the incision scar from my TC operation) since last January. I think I did a mischief to myself last year between Christmas and New Year when I went to Ikea Belfast to get some new drawer units. The ones I bought had warnings all over the flat packaging that they should be handled by 2 people. I picked them from the warehouse on my own and also loaded them into my car and house by myself. I was in a hurry. It may have been a mistake. In the 2nd week on January I was at the BETT show helping set-up and staff the stand for the company I work for. I had to take it very easy when helping move stuff onto the stand. The next week 3 of us flew to Macworld in San Francisco. I had to get a colleague to lift my case from the carousel for me in SFO. I thought it was just a pulled muscle and it would heal up after a few weeks. But it didn’t. I started thinking it was a mild hernia of some description. I went to see my GP in June and he gave me ibuprofen gel to use on the area. I did this for a month but it didn’t make any difference. If anything it’s been worse recently as I’ve been lugging servers about in work as part of a new VMware based system I’m deploying. I went back to my GP but the upshot of that was to continue with the gel and either get my yearly TC check-up brought forward or wait until November and get them to do a scan. I decided to wait. I also decided to do some exercise and eat more healthy food to boost my general fitness. So I bought a pair of scales to see how much I weigh. I know from when I played cricket that 80kg (12.5 stone) is the weight that I feel healthiest at (I’m 6’2′ ish in height). Rather worryingly the new scales give a different reading depending on where they are. In the place where I will always use them they are reporting that I’m currently about 86.6kg (13.6 stone). So about about 6.6kg (1 stone) above my optimal weight.

I’ve been exercising on the bike for a hour a day for the last 3 days. Unsurprisingly it does give you a lift. I think I’m inherently fit. I always have been generally fit so I get an instant payoff from exercise. In the 24 hours after the 1st day using the bike I noticed that the pain in my side was a lot less than it had been. In the 3 days since it has remained a lot less painful. It’s still tight and tender to the touch but it’s not the constant pain that it was before. Could it have been an internal hernia of some description that popped back to where it should be during the 1st hour on the bike? Here’s hoping, but time will tell. I’m putting a pile of Dell, HP and Apple servers into a rack tomorrow in work. Lots up lifting (carefully!) and crouching, bending during that. Be interesting to see how it reacts.

UPDATE on 30th August: The pain in my side is definitely better. It’s still tight and tender to a vigourous poke, but it’s not the pain I’ve had for the last 8 months. I’m so happy. That was starting to worry me a bit.