Friday, 30 July 2010

The war on tits

So America,

I'm going to apologize in advance if I upset you - you're one of my favourites, what with you guys landing on the moon and inventing pizza. So if I come across as a bit harsh, or seem to criticize you, or swear a bit much. I'm sorry - this is important though, and I wouldn't moan if I didn't care. Oh well. Here we go.

You've got one of the lowest rates of breastfeeding in the so-called civilized world.

In 2005, A smidgin more than ten percent of you breast fed for the first six-months of your child's life, as opposed to the recommended 100%.

Instead, you fed your baby formula, which has been proven time and time again to be falling short of the job. Kids die because they got formula instead of breast milk. It isn't even legal to advertise this crap here in the UK.

Concerned mothers have been arguing this point for years, but few are really listening, so I think it's time us fathers started to speak up.

America, what the fuck do you have against tits? Are you still hanging onto that puritan act?
Give it up, already. Is it the religion? Do you think God hates tits? He fucking invented them! You allow these large corporations to lie their way into your baby's stomach, risking their lives day after day and you let them! Do you think you'd allow Philip Morris to market cigarettes for babies? Think again, there's not much difference. The free market should not extend as far as risking your children's lives - you should deal with not only the evil morons advertising this trash, but the corrupt politicians they bribed to allow it. I'm personally of the opinion that this is a crime against the future generations of America, and if your children aren't America then I don't know what is. This is Treason! Wake the fuck up!

Think I'm being fatuous? No way: Your kid could die, fail to thrive, become obese or grow up without a properly working immune system because you don't want to ruin your tits, or because you think it's icky or because you bought the bullshit of some slick advertising exec who told you that formula was as good as breast milk. Newsflash - it isn't.

Well diddums. It's time to suck it up and grow a brain - if you really care about your child, and you can breastfeed, you'll breastfeed.

There are reasons that a woman can't breastfeed - I get that, but the ones that won't are either misinformed or selfish.

For those of you who disagree with me, you can email me a response which I'll print and use for toilet paper, for those of you that would object to a woman breastfeeding in public: get a life you inbred wankers.

Lastly, to those of you who breastfeed, I salute you: Stand tall, you proud matriots, you pillars of America, you angels of common-sense, you protectors of the future - let none deride you.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Which Baby Monitor

Now, If you're like me, and you need a baby monitor, you'll probably be planning to use a wireless webcam with a bit of homebrew hardware and some custom software. But to get an idea of what features would be required, I decided to take a look at reviews of existing video-baby-monitors. I found the following video from Gatewrights quite helpful:

And there it is: Avoid feedback, allow manual activation of camera, allow full zoom and pan, include nightlight and night-vision. Obviously, quality is important too. Thanks to Gatewrights for the video.

And this is why I love the oatmeal

The Zombie Bite Calculator

Created by Oatmeal

Sunday, 18 July 2010

When you're weary

I've honestly no way of describing what's going on in my head right now. It's probably the same kind of histrionics that I roll my eyes at when I see it in other people. I've got that low-grade panic that comes from having too many unfinished tasks, from too much happening too soon with too little control.

I have a potential client who's expecting the impossible. I've told him that technology can't really do what he wants it to do for the price he's willing to pay. He's currently using pirated software on dodgy, dusty machines that he expects the world from and expects me to turn it into a pristine, legal, working network for peanuts.

I have a server to diagnose that's failing intermittently, whose parts all pass testing, whose software works flawlessly on a different set of hardware, which probably has an obvious flaw that I would spot in a microsecond if I could just stop and think.

I have a meta-friend who's IM-ing me and asking if I know where she can 'score some weed' - at 9:30 on a Sunday night, when I actually don't know where she can get 'weed' at any time on any night, though it sounds almost like an attractive proposition right now.

I have a family issue unfolding that really has nothing to do with me and I could do without even hearing about it right now because I'm having one of those days where I could just SNAP.

Deep breaths.

This day will be over soon.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

The Digital Kitchen

Having the social skills of the average geek, I'm well aware that interaction isn't easy for me. Being well aware that I'll need to interact much more once the baby arrives, I decided to make an effort to get on with people. This would involve dressing nicely, forcing myself to go out in public and, shock horror, talking to people (probably with a fixed Gordon Brown rictus).

Now, I don't like to be seen to generalize, though I like to generalize; us geeks don't tend to do well in the wild, aside from talking shop. At house parties, I tend to bogart the alcohol and coax the games-console out: a wonderful mix. Should that fail, I fall back on the old favourite and attempt to skulk in the kitchen making cocktails.

I personally think that hiding in the kitchen at house-parties is more than an old cliche, it's a self-fulfilling prophecy: people who are socially-timid subconsciously realize that other people who are socially-timid congregate there, and will provide more agreeable company for them. Geeks make the best cocktails anyway, so it works for everyone.

But when we're out at a bar or at a gig, things are a little different. There's nowhere to hide, and in a loud place full of strangers the only place to retreat for a few moments solace can be your mobile device - the Digital Kitchen.

Never, outside of an uncomfortable social situation, can Twitter be updated so much, can facebook be checked so frequently, can Reddit or Digg be scoured so diligently for lolcats or rants; viral videos can also be used so readily in lieu of conversation.

I'm going to have to start leaving the tech at home: the digital kitchen's no place for a family man.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Dutch, Swiss, Gypsy or Yorkshire

I remember, as a child, walking the long paths up to the mountain to throw arrows with my Dad: 'Dutch Arrows' he called them; long, straight branches cut from trees, finger-thick, skinned, sharpened, playing-cards stuffed in the end for flights, with a notch cut at the end.

We'd take our bootlaces and tie a knot in them, fastening it around the arrow's notch - pulling the line taught up the length of the arrow, then throw them into the air, watching them whistle along and fall into the Roman quarry. I may recall inaccurately because I was a child, but it seemed like these arrows could go a couple of hundred yards. We fished lakes and rivers until we saw the sun rise over more than a few; we climbed rocks together.

For someone who was away a lot, he did his best to be there. He always had something for us to do when he was around. I wanted for nothing, and my friends seemed a little envious of that. People remarked how close my father and I seemed. It wasn't true. We did everything together, but the old man never let me in. All I ever got was the stoic veneer.

However good it must have looked to the neighbours and family, it wasn't real. I might as well have been fishing with a mannequin. I never once remember my dad kissing my head or hugging me. I learned a thousand little things from him. I can hunt game, I can fish, I can light fires without matches.

I remember watching Ray Winston in 'Nil by mouth' launch into the tirade about his father and it really hit a nerve. I don't want to be that kind of dad. Just 'being there' isn't enough. I want to do more than just 'tick the boxes'.  The one thing my father didn't teach me is how to show love to your children. I guess that's one I'll have to figure out on my own.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Hereditary Behaviour

I suppose most people get to the point of being a parent and ask themselves "What parts of who I am would I like to pass on to my children?" or "How can I set a good example?" Anyone who's been through here could probably tell you that the question isn't as straight forward as it first appears.

I worry that, if I raise my child to be respectful and nice, he'll be bullied. I'm worried that if I teach him to handle himself, he'll be a bully. I'll shamefully admit that although both of those situations are undesirable, one of them worries me less than the other.

I worry that I'll pass my insecurities and faults onto our son, but not my inquisitiveness, not my calm. I'm worried I'll pass on a quick fist wired to a hot head instead of a trusting nature.

How do we try to affect our child? What we tell them is surely a tiny part of it; when even the example we set by our own actions, however hard to keep decent and honest,  is undermined at every turn by the media and pop-culture.

No, I'm not one of those 'Broken-Britain' clowns. I think things are fine - or at least as fine as they've ever been, but there's much less of an impression that one can leave upon a child now.

I'm realizing that we don't get to raise our kids alone, that there's a world out there that's going to raise them too, whether we like it or not; and that's a scary thing to face.