Saturday, 22 July 2017

Toy ad rules - some thoughts

One thing that's been in the news here are new regulations governing gender stereotyping in advertising be it in print, on tv or online which have brought many varied responses from people.
Most of us can agree some of of these stereotypes such as mom at home, dad at work or dad does things for himself, mom cooks and runs the house are out of date, do promote less co-operative ideas about how males and females can get on productively and so shouldn't be pushed to children still forming their own ideas.
There are still some situations though where certain scenes generally won't happen.
That whole necessary conversation between daughter and mom as they play would never be the same even if we had dad playing with dolls with her so should a ad like this from nineteen sixty-five be banned or totally degendered if someone came up with something similar?
Equally is there anything wrong in itself with an ad showing a boy engrossed repairing a bike with dad or an uncle where often there's more going on than fixing the bike, like fixing how to be the best boy and in time being the best adult male he can?
I'm totally for gender neutral play and fighting the tyranny of pink and blue but this kind of relating actual aids kids form relationships and make good connections with adults that help move them on in time toward maturity. 

Friday, 14 July 2017

The Main Ingredient

This week I'm doing an old school post rather like the last bunch were but as was always the case on Daytime Office Girl Crisis around one of other core topics, music and my collection.
Soul music is something I like being very much brought up on that from the nineteen sixties and  seventies and this group from New York were one I've always been partial  to.

As a overall compilation that one on the UK's Kent soul label is a s good as gets for sound quality but when I get deep into something I really mine catalogues especially when they are of such high quality.

This set of two albums originally issued  in 1970 and 1972 respectively was re-issued in two-fer form in 2010 by Superbird, a division of Cherry Red records in the UK featuring the hit single "Everybody Plays The Fool".

Expansion Records who tackle more specialist soul reissues in the UK, released their 1975 and 1976 albums Rolling Down A Mountainside which was ten 10 R&B hit 45 in 1974 and Music Maximus albums on a two-fer

A number of soul albums on RCA's catalogue were issued in the nineteen seventies in discrete four channel (Quadraphonic) tape and CD4 records.
in 2016 the enterprising UK company Vocalion, were able to license both the stereo and quad mixes of the 1974 Euphrates River for a super audio cd (playable on regular  cd equipment in stereo only) which includes their version of Summer Breeze covered also the Isley Bros. The album reached #8 on the R&B chart.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Our values and defending them

This is being written in bits as I'm feeling very warm at the minute  and to be honest there are couple of things I could of blogged about this week but I'm choosing one that's topical and I think worth mulling over.
As much as I dislike 'soundbites' there was one on Thursday I felt worth looking at and it's from a 'marmite' politician where President Trump of the States said "The future of Western civilization is at stake" before stating the following question: "The fundamental question of our time is whether the West has the will to survive."
What he had in mind when it came to the threat was both political and religiously motivated terrorism and extremism that rejected liberal democratic values, such as free speech, free and fair elections, an independent justice system free from political and religious interference and the use of terrorism to bring those societies that support such principals within its orbit.
The is little denying groups such as Isis do explicitly reject what we call western values believing in a single World-wide Islamic state that is a Theocracy rather than a Democracy that operates to its interpretation of that religion and to which it alone runs justice to its own so-called Sharia Law standards.
The usual and mainly left-wing explanation of their terrorist inspired activities in the west is one of fighting the actions of Western Governments in conflicts that affect them such as in Syria and Iran and in recent past Iraq and Afghanistan by bring death and disruption to our streets. "If only we'd of left them alone" it is at least implied "we'd not of seen the recent incidents in London, Manchester and Paris".
I'm not a fan of such 'interventions' not least as they typical don't have a endplan in place but I do wonder if the aim isn't actually wider wanting to whatever means to transplant its ideology on our soil and us terror was a kind of warfare to remove political and legal obstacles at best giving them the upper hand when it comes to us looking after our own interests around the world?
There is a concern that once a parallel legal system is permitted even in a limited form, you erode the common stock of legal rights that are the birth right  all living and born in our society. We may cherish our diversity but what of it when elements of it such as the rights of women and lgbtqi rights it may in effect be denied to groups within it?
Just how much of our moral, cultural and liberal democratic values as a society should we be be prepared actively to keep from people who either don't share them or even wish to take them away?
This kind of conundrum is the very thing a society like ours, liberal and diverse needs to think about so while I don't hold much with the man, maybe it'll start a debate where we do arrive at a consensus around these questions. 

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Caro's three in one catch up post

Happy Dominion/Canada Day folks! 150 years-way to go,eh?
Following on from last weeks 100% political post which was so old school when it comes to this blogs history, we have made some sort of progress with the Conservatives and the DUP agreeing to the supply agreement so it's likely the Queen's Speech will be carried and a number of actions in it supported although it should be recognized this is no formal coalition so expect a few bumps along the way.
Connected with that the UK Government has set out ideas around how it sees the protection of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU human rights to be protected and while there is more common ground than one might think, there are differences around if full EU Rights should remain the UK where it doesn't apply them for its own and who should be the final arbitrator in the case of a dispute, the UK Supreme Court or the European Court of Justice? They may need to be a halfway house.

Moving beyond that which as we addressed last year, for this blog to go forward I need to be able to talk about parts of my life that moved centre stage to it since the blog was started, I do take part in a Little's Chat night and we talked about children's television and in particular how the recent death of Brian Cant who narrated the Camberwick Green,  Trumpton,and Chigley trilogy of cartoons set in Trumptonshire in the nineteen sixties (repeated into the nineteen-seventies) and also was a present on the Play away and Play school programs for young children left us.
These shows were a part of our childhood and many of us felt close to their stars.
Finally and something I hadn't spoken much of on this blog, I have been reading a lot around "Crossdreaming" as that applies to those of us who are transgendered, such as Felix Conrad's publications, the Transcend and Crossdreamers websites CrossDreamers .
I find much of what is said there speaks more to me than mainstream transgender narratives not least the thorny debates between those  who see transsexuality as a totally separate thing and those of us who see it as a part of a wider continuum of gender identity and roles.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Weekly political round up

Politically this week we do not appear to have gotten any further along the path of stable government with anything being signed between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party with somewhat onerous "Don't take us for granted" messages coming forth on Tuesday. Perhaps they haven't been given quite what they wanted or want to explore other deals?
Almost bizarrely on Wednesday, we had the Queen's Speech delivered in a very much lacking in pomp and splendour way with what was a hastily chopped down program shewn of anything particularly controversial majoring with the legislation required for leaving the EU and the troublesome Social Care and extension of Grammar Schools measures featured in the manifesto dropped.
On the other hand the changes in school funding in England and HS2 phase 2a Birmingham to Crewe rail bill to give legal powers such as compensating where the line goes through land and buildings was.
Fifty-six million pounds to remove eighteen minutes off the journey time does to be honest seem rather excessive even if it does add more mainline capacity and I can't help thinking there are cheaper was of just doing it such as restoring four track working taken out in the past to save repair costs adjacent to existing track.
To some extent the more troubling development was Sunday's midnight attack by a hired van mowing down a group of Muslim worshippers taking a pause from Eid prayers at London's Finsbury Park mosque by a middle aged man from Cardiff, Wales who chanted anti muslim slogans and two others that resulted in one fatality and a good number of injuries.
Worrying because while the attitude of right wing, anti immigration and anti muslim groups such as the English Defence League is often aggressive and sometimes thuggish, the one thing they haven't done nor has any lone group of the like minded is target groups for terrorist actions in the way so-called Islamic extremists call for and 'inspire' independently people to commit such acts.
As a society we simply cannot accept tic for tac acts between these groups not just for the loss of life to those involved but because of that plus the impact on everyday life would be very severe. 
Finally the impact of the Grenfell Tower fire is working its way through with eleven tower blocks cladding failing fire safety tests for flammability and three Premier Inn hotels with a five block estate in Camden, central London being evacuated for emergency cladding removal.
It also transpires what started the fire was a Hotpoint Fridge Freezer that has a highly flammable plastic back which when the polyurethane insulation melts is the equivalent of   four gallons of petrol melting completely after exactly fifty-five seconds, setting kitchens well alight. In the US they have to have metal backs.
Ever felt our well-being is being ignored for cheapness.   

Saturday, 17 June 2017

The winner is...Nobody

In what is shaping up to be an eventful week for other more tragic reasons, I'm getting around to typing out my thoughts on the General Bore of 2017 and  where that leaves us which isn't exactly being helped by the time taken by those directly involved to actually forge agreements to settle it.
There are as I think I mentioned last time 650 divisions known as constituencies and for any one party to gain a majority in the House of Commons you need 326 or more and the problem with the outcome one party has it!
Take Theresa May's Conservative and Unionist Party for instance and you'll see they got just 318 which make them the largest single party and yet they cannot do it by themselves.
Then there is Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party which did better in a late surge with 262 votes and the Liberal Democrats with 12 which in both parties is an improvement on the 2015 result.
Scotland's Scottish standing only Scottish National Party won 35 out of 57 Scottish constituencies which was a 21 seat drop on 2015 and Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party got 10
Let's quickly do some math here as Labour saying they were ready to form an alternative 'progressive' government and add 262 labour votes to 12 liberal democrats we have 274 seats plus the SNP's 35 we get 309 plus 4 Plaid Cymru votes equals...313.
Thus put plainly the math doesn't stack up for that argument.
To me in truth nobody won this election.
The two main Great Britain wide parties did not carry the trust needed by the electorate even if Ruth Davison run a really successful campaign for the Scottish Conservatives and Jeremy Corbyn's Labour  team did connect to a lot of young voters who amongst a good number of people are fed up with 'austerity', funding crisis in health, social care, education, declining 'working class' pay relative to expenditure and issues of both housing supply and unaffordable mortgages and rents.
In Scotland it was clear many Scottish voters were more concerned about similar issues such as educational standards that they wanted their representatives to be more engaged with than the second referendum on independence the SNP were pushing since last Junes Brexit result (Indyref2).
Brexit is in a way few of us on the leave side anticipated at the core of this problem with Labour and Conservative remainers voting for remain candidates in constituencies such as Warwick and mainly Labour leave people voting Conservative as in Walsall North and Stoke on Trent South.
It was also an election where rather than in that referendum we voted for parties despite concerns, I know I voted for who I did with concerns over social welfare issues and others voted the way they did even if financial literacy and clear signs of exactly where the money was to be found were lacking.
And that Brexit clock as we were reminded over the weekend last is ticking.
Other consequences included the standing down of Ukip leader Paul Nuttall and Wednesday decision for Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats who cited the constant attention on his own personal religious beliefs by some lesbian and gay activists even though his voting record clearly supported their rights. I have some sympathy for this as some liberals seem to be...ill-liberal both in terms of denying the space for opposing views and even accepting of while disagreeing personally, the need to allow others the space to be themselves and so backing legislation.
At the moment there is an attempt to put together an agreement by the Conservatives and the DUP so a Queen's speech (a summary of the parliamentary program put forward by Her Majesties Government) can be passed and major legislation not least relating to Brexit can be passed without a formal coalition which we had for the 2010-15 Parliament.
This is possible but has its own risks not least in resolving the deadlock at the Northern Irish Assembly a part of the devolution outside of England enacted from 1995 onward in our system of Government between the DUP and   Sinn F√©in, the Nationalist, Republican party whose links to terrorism at the highest levels are hotly contested.
Neither side trust each other much and in trying to resolve this, any UK Government as former prime minister Major said on Monday risks  being seen more as a Unionist stitch up than an impartial advisor with thepossibility if it fails of Northern Ireland being run directly from London, something that would have a major impact on cross-community and Irish and UK Government relations.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Simple Minds Glittering Prize revisited

While the political business is being worked through which I'll post about next week, I thought I'd post about an album I recently rebought.

Simple Mind's Glittering Prize 81/92 album is a compilation originally released in 1992 that only covers the commercially successful period from 1981's Love Song to 1991's Real Life album.
I did buy this on tape but the tape became worn plus I needed to make a copy for my portable digital music players.
While other more complete double compilations exist, the strength of this is that it hasn't been made artificially louder than it needs to be which is common problem on newer compilations and as the 1985 45 Don't You (Forget About Me) which was featured in The Breakfast Club movie and originally slated for Billy Idol to sing is on her in really good quality.
This is as well as the track was not issued on 1985's Once Upon a Time album sandwiched between such hits as Promised You a Miracle, Up On the Catwalk, Alive and Kicking and Belfast Child.

Digital copying 
I use dbPoweramp a paid for program from Illustrate as it is very effective, has a wide variety of databases to add song titles etc and is easy to correct any odd mistakes that may creep in before making your digital file.
File formats:
If you have a device that will play lossless files, I'd recommend using Flac as it will give you full cd quality with nothing removed.
If what you are using that doesn't do or isn't intended for super critical listening on high quality headphones, using so-called lossy encoder will make a small file that will sound 'good enough'.
I have gone back and forth between the Mp3 and Aac lossy file formats and feel on balance a Mp3 file made at 320 kbps using the LAME encoder is the best option providing high quality and universal compatibility. 
I find the Aac files I've created myself either in iTunes which isn't a good 'ripper' by the way or using the fdkaac Aac encoder in dbPoweramp tend to squash the soundstage leaving it flatter and less involving compared to the same disc ripped in the LAME mp3 encoder at 320. Louder passages tend to sound bleached for want of a better expression.