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June 24, 2006

If you're reading this blog by RSS feed...

...you won't see this message because my RSS feed has moved. It's now here. It moved when I upgraded Movable Type, but I've only just noticed. So if you've been wondering why I stopped blogging, that's why.

Posted by Alison Scott at 02:36 PM | Comments (0)

More on Neat Image

I mentioned Neat Image, the profile-based noise reduction plugin for Photoshop, in my previous post. Here -- on a popup to preserve the innocent -- is a VERY SCARY before and after picture showing how it works to improve my cameraphone photos.

You'll be wanting your peril sensitive sunglasses

The 'home' version, which doesn't act on actions, is about £20.

Posted by Alison Scott at 01:37 AM | Comments (0)

June 23, 2006

Friday Roundup

A weekly roundup

Last weekend: It is with the greatest difficulty that I resist telling you in detail how the Oysterband are the best band of all time. And there's a new album coming out! I had a fine time at the Big Session, but the rise of MySpace means you don't tend to discover new bands at this sort of thing. Nizlopi felt like a bit of a disappointment to me, but I enjoyed The Eighteenth Day of May.

Being away for the weekend meant that we missed this week's Doctor Who, Love and Monsters. So I came back to equal parts delight and outrage amongst those who had partook in the Shared Cultural Experience.

Two years ago, Orbit launched a tandem, the Zodiac, with 20" wheels, designed for an adult and child to ride together. We knew that at some point we'd need a second tandem, but we dithered, and meanwhile Orbit took it off the market again. A few weeks ago Steven spotted someone selling a nearly-new Zodiac for rather less than half price, and on Monday he drove over to Oxford to pick it up. So we are now a two-tandem family, though we haven't ridden anywhere in earnest yet.

Wednesday: The school Marianne is likely to go to has a Greek theatre (built in the 20s when these things were popular) in its grounds. And we went to see the Greek Theatre Players perform The Merry Wives of Windsor in the round in the open air. It was great; excellent performances particularly from Peter Wilson as Falstaff, and Melissa Quinn and Pamela May as the wives; but a generally good cast having a good time. Amazing costumes that would be far beyond the means of amateur theatre turned out to be loaned from the RSC.

The Greek Theatre Players open air production of the Merry Wives of Windsor at Walthamstow School for Girls

Taken with my Sony K750i camera phone, and cleaned up with Neat Image, which I have now bought (though this was done with the demo)

I mused on the payoff that comes from having been a philistine; I've never studied The Merry Wives of Windsor, or seen it before. So I laughed at all the low humour, marvelled at the things that never change, and generally had a fine old time.

Also on Wednesday I read an article about David Gardner (not this one), who had his leg blown off in the Tube bombing last year. He explained how he'd had a great year, how he'd resolved to have everyone who came to visit him in hospital leave happier than when they arrived, how he felt sorry for the bombers' families, how pleased he was to be acting again, and how he was determined to run again in a few more months. The whole thing was really cheering, and I resolved to cultivate a more optimistic outlook.

From Dubious Quality I learn that the Ghanaian government ordered that gold production should be scaled back by 50% on Thursday to ensure that the country could power all the televisions tuned to the World Cup match wtih the US.

This week I have been reading self-help books; in particular Julie Morgenstern's Organizing from the Inside Out and Brian Tracey's classic anti-procrastination tome Eat That Frog!

As well as Eat That Frog, my executive coach recommended Today I ate two frogs: I finally got round to seeing my doctor about various trivial complaints that Aren't Getting Better, and I got my hair cut.

This weekend: Plokta!

Posted by Alison Scott at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)

June 05, 2006

Needs an Alarmist and Armageddonist Factoid, Vern

I'm sure this is being blogged everywhere, but Greenpeace sent the Philadelphia Inquirer a press release containing the immortal line

"In the twenty years since the Chernobyl tragedy, the world's worst nuclear accident, there have been nearly [FILL IN ALARMIST AND ARMAGEDDONIST FACTOID HERE]."

Posted by Alison Scott at 09:18 PM | Comments (0)

Joining up the Dots

I heard the new single by MJ Hibbett and the Validators, "Better Things To Do", on 6Music this morning. It's great, and I instantly headed off to MySpace, where you can download it. I can't find a direct link, but you might try Holdalls is the New Name for Midland Mainline Lost Property or Programming is a Poetry for Our Time.

Of course, as soon as I checked out the MySpace page, I discovered that this is the band that did that fine Internet meme, Hey Hey 16k.

Posted by Alison Scott at 07:54 AM | Comments (0)

Alternative Browsers

I wrote a fabulous post last night that got eaten by worms. Anyway. The gist of it was that I'm trying out Camino and Shiira, because Safari runs unaccountably slowly and crashes.

A Greek chorus might say that Safari crashes because I have 48 windows open at once, but as this Exposé screenshot, taken randomly last night, shows that this is a considerable exaggeration.

Meanwhile, Shiira's unique selling point is Tab Exposé, which lets you see what's in all those rows of tabs. But what I really need is an extension to Exposé that explodes the tabs as well as the windows. Because it's not unusual for me to have 100 open tabs. Whoops.

Posted by Alison Scott at 07:41 AM | Comments (0)

June 01, 2006

Storm in a D Cup: the Great Breastfeeding Boycott of LiveJournal

I've written about this in LiveJournal as well, so apologies to people who see this twice.

LiveJournal has decided that images of breastfeeding that show any part of the nipple or areola cannot be used as default icons on the site. Here are three examples to give you a sense of what I mean; you will see that they are unlikely to trouble your office censors. In all three of these cases, LiveJournal threatened users with suspension for using these pictures as default icons.

it's the BVM breastfeeding, natch I can't actually see the nipple in this one turning off your pics was a good idea because this one is really depraved

If you're thinking 'oh, it's all right because they're only restricting default icons', or 'they're being reasonable by only restricting pictures with visible aereolas', I'd like to disagree. Many women are put off breastfeeding, or discouraged or embarrassed about doing it in public, because they believe that people will be offended. The position LiveJournal has taken is one that only works if you believe that breastfeeding is a little bit dirty; all right in private, or under a blanket, but not where people might see.

But there is only one way to feed babies properly, and that's breastfeeding. Artificial feeding is a poor substitute. Poorer, younger women, and those with less education, are less likely to breastfeed, and if they start, they're more likely to stop quickly. And one reason for that is that they don't feed comfortable about breastfeeding; they don't see women around them doing it, and they don't see positive images of breastfeeding. Lawmakers are beginning to understand this; California, where Six Apart is located, has express legal provision exempting breastfeeding from obscenity legislation. The NHS explains "What we need is an environment where women of all ethnic, social and cultural backgrounds are comfortable with feeding their baby anywhere and at any time".

To make that vision a reality, we have to challenge those who attack it. It's no good to decide that this time it's trivial. Six Apart made a positive decision to go after a pile of entirely unobjectionable pictures of breastfeeding babies. I wouldn't have been remotely as angry if they'd always banned nipples and said 'sorry, breastfeeders, just bad luck'; though they'd still be wrong. But they specifically altered their terms of service from disallowing 'sexual or graphically violent' icons to disallowing nudity to crack down on breastfeeding icons.

Six Apart think these icons are 'inappropriate', and they're wrong. I can't take my money away from them, because long ago I bought a permanent account. And of course I'm a long-standing (paid) Movable Type user.

LiveJournal users are protesting by deleting their journals, just for a day, on 6 June. If you're a Six Apart user (that's Movable Type, TypePad or LiveJournal), you might want to write them a letter (though be careful, because many letters of complaint have been flagged as spam because they contain the word 'breast'). You might also want to stand up and use your real name, as I have here, to show that it isn't just an issue about a few anonymous bloggers.

Those of you who remember when my children were babies will remember that I was a militant breastfeeder, especially with my second child. I'm long past the nurse-in stage now, but I remember the process of moving from worrying that I'd offend people, to worrying that people would be offended, to believing that it was critical to breastfeed wherever I happened to be when my baby was hungry.

I still believe that, and I believe that I need to be one of those who are standing up and being counted. Just this once.

Posted by Alison Scott at 11:18 AM | Comments (0)