Monday, 30 January 2012

I was born on the 31st March 1994.

Just to clarify: this isn't some sort of advanced birthday present request list, although all donations are welcome.

Exactly a week after I was born 800,000 Rwandans were murdered by their neighbors and 'friends' in just under 100 days. There is something incredibly unnerving about knowing that just as I was being a boring, yet weirdly cute newborn, hundreds of thousands of people I would never meet or know were about die. If you think about it like that, then it makes you wonder why I find it weird, let alone upsetting. I never met these people, and Rwanda would scarcely be on my radar today if this hadn't happened.

But what happened was so horrible, so incomprehensible. That one day people were hacking their neighbors and friends to pieces and for what? Some minor 'racial' difference that, in retrospect, was made up to begin with. When you look at Rwanda's history, and their escape from the slave trade (it's a hilly country, and invaders are usually lazy) it's easy to think of it as a lucky country. Paul Kagame, their current president, despite his faults, is rarely considered to be in the same category of other, corrupt African leaders like Mugabe.

The film 'Hotel Rwanda' is an incredibly well-made film showing the horrific events through the eyes of luxury hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina, who managed to save the lives of 1,268 terrified people despite their country descending into hell around them. It inspired me to get into human rights campaigning and, despite not being a movie buff by any stretch, I would definitely recommend you all watch it!

I've just finished his autobiography, and whilst I'm not a fan of the Daily Mail, their command of 'Read this book. It will humble and inspire you' definitely seems appropriate. I genuinely think that it is the most well-written and eloquent life stories I have ever read; even when he describes freaking out (which admittedly rarely seemed to happen) he still seemed calm and many times I was literally left gaping at his quick-thinking and the lifesaving impact that the offer of a drink to a crazed machete-wielding lieutenant could have.

Trials are still ongoing and justice is yet to be achieved for Rwanda. Clinton describes it as his biggest regret, Kofi Annan took passive to a whole new level and there are thousands of Rwandan teens who would be my age but hatred forbade them from celebrating with me. There's a lot we can learn from Rusesasabagina: compassion, morality and staying sane when everyone else has gone mental, but most importantly, simple as it sounds doing the right thing.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Who even has £80 million spare anyway?

In these tough economic times, I think everyone has had to make some sort of sacrifice. We've all had cutbacks and with the prospects of further cuts in almost every in sector it seems that there's no sign of stopping. It's safe to say really, that everyone's a bit short of money at the moment.

So what would be more sensible than to propose a new yacht for the Royal family to sleep on when they're abroad? An eighty million pound yacht. Rather than using government project is set to be funded by public donations and companies, with two Canadian businessmen being the first to offer 10 million. Although, it would also serve as a training facility for young people as oppose to merely being a floating holiday home, but does that really justify such a huge cost?

Don't get me wrong, I think the Royal family's great! Whilst I still remain slightly bitter, nothing unified the country more than William and Kate getting married last April and the Queen's got to be up there with red post boxes and afternoon tea when people think of 'British' things. Undoubtedly, her upcoming Silver Jubilee will be a great cause of celebration for people across the UK and I'm sure there'll be street parties all over the place. But 80 million pounds? That's a lot of money. I can't even imagine that sort of money!

But I can imagine what it could do, how it could help. For example: a polio vaccination costs around 20-40 pounds, so that would be about 2 million vaccinations; 2 million children saved. Or 1, 231 wells created in the developing world, helping a lot of communities to survive and ultimately, to thrive.

Admittedly, whilst these are all undeniably worthwhile projects, none of them would really help Britain, and  the in case of such an British celebration, maybe I should be thinking about how the money could help our island. There are plenty of charities working hard to preserve our heritage so that we can all use and learn about it such as the National Trust. Or how about developing an educational resource available for everyone in the country to learn more about the history and impact of the monarchy? Or developing more green space to be enjoyed by entire communities? So many trees are cut down every day in the UK, think about how many trees could be planted with so money, as well as the obvious environmental benefits.

When you think about all of the other things which could be achieved, does 80 million pounds really seem OK for a boat which barely anyone will ever use?

Monday, 16 January 2012

Is the Holocaust a hoax? No. Now shut up.

As anyone who reads this blog has probably realised by now, I enjoy a moan and that there are certain things which I absolutely can not stand. This ranges from badly behaved, screaming toddlers to pet owners who thinks it's cute when their dog chases me across the park (this occurs surprisingly frequently...) but most of all? People who think their small-mindedness and ignorance is impressive.

Now, I hate to generalise such people, or simplify what they stand for, there is a wide variety of different subjects in which they showcase their bizarre outlook on the world. The internet has served as an excellent method of showcasing these, and I'm all for freedom of speech and questioning the views handed to us on a plate as they are the ones which are normally the most incorrect. However, those who deny the Holocaust whilst hiding behind out of context quotes and who are screaming so hard that they have no evidence they are blind to what is right in front of them? I think they must have sunk the lowest.

The particular collection of 'articles' (although I would urge you to discard any academic connotations which this would imply) which I am cross at today can be found here. There is an abundance of quotes I could pick apart from this web page, so I'm going to give you some of my favorites to marvel at, such as: Roughly the equivalent of ten football fields should be packed full of gassed bodies to present as evidence, yet not one body has ever been discovered. Well, if I was that bent on destroying a human race presumably there would be a lot of hate there. Would you bother burying someone you hated that much? Or would you cremate them and dump the ashes which is far quicker and more efficient? I'd go for the latter too. I think I win this round.

Next? If Christians can accept as historical fact the Holocaust, despite all the powerful evidence that it is a hoax, what does that say about their ability to evaluate evidence? How about the fact that they base their entire belief system on a series of books: The Bible and The Gospel. Neither of which have any 'reputable' evidence, or even in some cases a clear author, now, I have a lot of respects for the faith held by Christians, but there is a distinct lack of clinical evidence or paper work to prove a lot of key things which can be proved for the Holocaust. You don't need to 'believe' in the Holocaust to look at the paperwork and legislation which has been signed and counter-signed by leading Nazis. On grounds of looking for the evidence which you're demanding, there is far more on the Holocaust side.

Not just are these people clearly wrong, they're plain insensitive. There's a comparison of Auschwitz to Disneyland. Even if you don't believe in the gas chambers, surely you can accept the many thousands who died of malnutrition and disease? Is it really acceptable to compare a place that grim to the happy, happy home of Minnie, Mickey and friends?

At the bottom of the page is a 'fun feature' - '66 Questions on the Holocaust'. Users of the website with a desire to know the answers are encouraged to send a stamped addressed envelope to their address and they'll post you a reply and whilst I just used Google to answer number 38 ('What is Typhus, I'm sure we all agree, the million dollar question) I am going to write a letter asking them to answer two for me: What evidence exists that six million Jews were not killed by the Nazis? . I can assure you that my letter will contain some evidence of my own indicating that they were indeed killed and if you want to co-sign it? You are of course more than welcome! :)

Thursday, 5 January 2012

People don't take me seriously? Well, you are Louise Mensch...

David Cameron did it, Boris Johnson did it and now it seems that Louise Mensch has jumped on the band wagon. Now, I'm not saying I think women can't be taken seriously if they look great and my she does look good, but anyone who claims to 'hero worship' and that to be his wife is 'the greatest honour' their husband is hardly going to impress me. Yes, I am of course referring to GQ's latest leather skirt clad cover star...

Don't get me wrong, I'm pleased that she puts such a great emphasis on veteran's welfare, I think that's really important. More needs to be done for those who've worked to protect us and risked their lives for us, they get pretty much forgotten about and I think that's appalling. So, as you can imagine, I was reading an article about her thinking 'maybe I've misjudged her', maybe it would be good if she went from backbench to a bit closer to the front row! 

 I follow her on Twitter and she manages to make some excellent points in under 140 characters, However in the interview, the number was upped considerably and she went on to say how she'd rather have one of her books made into a movie than become a cabinet minister. I'm not sure if anyone else is familiar with the Oxford graduate's books, but they include 'Career Girls' which to this day I'm still confused about how it came into the hands of my school library (albeit in the 14 and over section) as the plot concerns two women at the top of their game. Except they only got there by having sex. A lot of sex... Which is described very graphically, at least for the first 150 pages, which is where, I'm afraid to say I gave up in favour of something a little less 'word porny'. It also makes me question her dedication to politics, I'm no Cameron fan, but at least he's dedicated to his job, I know he won't just get up and leave as soon as something more glamorous comes his way.

I just wish she could take her career a bit more seriously and stop bringing up her appearance, she's mentioned Theresa May's kitten heels more than May herself! How are women supposed to be breaking this glass ceiling if she's making a deal about how gorgeous she is (she is beautiful) and how nobody takes her seriously for it. If she carried on regardless then maybe we'd stop this fixation with her face and listen to her ideas...

Monday, 2 January 2012

PIP - Pretty Insensitive People

So, let me get this straight, 50,000 women in the United Kingdom may be getting their silicone boobs removed. But, then again, they may not. There's no increased risk of cancer from the implants. Well, that's a relief, that's probably the most potentially traumatic result of getting them done.

Except it's not really is it, I mean, imagine you're one of the women with PIP  breast implants. You've been conned, because in one of the most intimate parts of you, you've been pumped full of gel that was really intended for a mattress. This isn't just a waste of money, it's a betrayal, you now have something ridiculously inappropriate inside you. Plus, a massively increased chance of rupture. Seriously, what if you were just out and about and then you basically popped? That would freak me out, I think that would unnerve most people in all honesty...

It should also be taken into account as to exactly WHY women get this kind of surgery. In the majority of cases it's due to low self-esteem; not looking in the mirror and seeing a spot style insecurity, we're thinking persistent, confidence destroying self-loathing. Imagine catching your reflection in a shop window and wanting throw up you repulse yourself so much. Imagine getting jibes since secondary school mocking your lack of chest from your bustier friends, it won't be long before your own thoughts start to echo those. Few things can be more damaging than that little voice inside your head and now, these women were getting on track to loving their bodies.

But, more disturbing than that, at least 3,000 of these women had these implants put in as part of reconstructive surgery after breast cancer. This is supposed to be their road to recovery, they had to cope with one of the most definitive symbols of femininity taken away from them and now they have bits of mattress inside them which could pop at any time? That doesn't sound fair to me.

Who else thinks that the government should be popping these out before it all blows up?