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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Supermodels’ undercarriages

Story on the BBC today about ‘designer vaginas’, in which a London-based urogynaecologist told a conference, in Canada (somehow you knew it would be) that the trend for women to get their lady gardens ‘fixed’ to look purdier is “worrying”.

Perhaps more worrying is the quote she gives to the BBC on the subject:

"Women want to emulate the supermodel. It's part of a trend,” she says.

Erm… have I missed something, or aren’t supermodels generally known for the slenderness of their bodyframes and the uninspiring prettiness of their faces?

Since when did the poor underfed minxes become women with well-documentedly tidy labia?

P.S. The designer vagina operation is called a labiaplasty. What kind of a sense of humour bypass must the plastic surgery industry have had not to want to call it a labotomy?



'A leading urogynaecologist has spoken out against the growing popularity of cosmetic vaginal surgery.
Professor Linda Cardozo, of King's College Hospital, London, says little evidence exists to advise women on the safety or effectiveness of procedures.
These include operations to make the external appearance more "attractive" and reshaping the vagina to counter laxity after childbirth, for example.
She discussed the issues at a medical meeting in Montreal, Canada.
A Google search showed over 45,000 references to cosmetic vaginal surgery, yet on medical databases such as PubMed or Medline there were less than 100.
Professor Cardozo said the most established vaginal cosmetic procedure was reduction labioplasty - a procedure to make the labia smaller - which is requested by women either for aesthetic reasons or to alleviate physical discomfort.
"Women want to emulate the supermodel. It's part of a trend. But they should know that all surgery can be risky.
"Most of the procedures are done in the private sector and it's totally unregulated."
The exact numbers of procedures carried out are unknown.
In the past five years there has been a doubling of the number of labial reductions carried out on the NHS from 400 in 2000/1 to 800 in 2004/5.
Growing trend
The evidence from existing case studies shows that the procedure, which costs about £2,000 at a private clinic, does have positive aesthetic results but it is unclear whether it resolves feelings of psychological distress or improves sexual functioning, she said.
And there was little evidence that "vaginal rejuvenation" - the surgical repair of vaginal laxity, with a price tag of about £3,000 - improved symptoms and was any better than doing simple pelvic floor muscle exercises.
She said robust research was needed so that doctors could properly advise their patients. In the meantime, she urged surgeons to remain cautious and operate only as a last resort.
In her presentation at the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists 7th International Scientific Meeting, Professor Cardozo said: "Cosmetic vaginal procedures raise a number of serious ethical questions.
"Women are paying large sums of money for this type of surgery which may improve the appearance of their genitalia but there is no evidence that it improves function."'

Thursday, September 11, 2008

"My heart just broke for the terrorist cause"

So here we have another dippy American actress glamourising the IRA and its illustrious work of the 1970s-1990s.

I UNDERSTAND that the IRA are, by virtue of being Irish, intrinsically cool to some in the US.

I UNDERSTAND that the IRA are OK because their targets were the English and not their good old friends in America - that nation that saved them from the potato famine, saved them from British oppression, and in which (obscurely when you think about it) huge numbers of people identify themselves as being 'Irish' because they come from Boston or New York and have great grannies from Tipperary.

And I UNDERSTAND that the issue of Irish Republicanism looks terribly black and white, terribly David and Goliath, and terribly easy to unravel in the eyes of people who can't be bothered to understand it properly: think Mel Gibson and his interpretation of Scottish nationalism for a nice wee comparison.

But it's still all a bit tiring, isn't it?

Many in America have tended to think of members of the IRA as being, in reality, much as they portray them in the movies: good looking (Daniel Day Lewis crossed with Brad Pitt crossed with Aiden Gillen with a soupcon of Colin Farrell, if you like), passionate and troubled souls who are perhaps misguided, yet glamorously violent and - here's the key thing - JUSTIFIED - freedom fighters. And as long as the knees they were capping and the children they were blowing up were located in Derry, Birmingham or London, they could continue funding the IRA to their hearts content and no harm done (Angelica Huston, you stupid bitch, I'm looking at you).

Interestingly, after America found itself the victim of a major terrorist incident (seven years ago today, in fact), many of those same people who had been quick to sympathise with the IRA's 'cause' (they have a cause, see, not like those pesky towel heads) found that, actually, they weren't really all that fond of terrorism after all.
It's no coincidence that the IRA's demotion to 'yesterday's terrorists', with funds drying up quicker than they could blink, happened at much the same time as Al Qaeda started to take violent action against what it saw as an internationally oppressive US.

Which makes these remarks by actress Rose McGowan (me neither) particularly surprising and particularly hilariously misjudged. Because while she might think she's on safe ground staying off the topic of Middle Eastern politics on September 11th, and promoting her movie by chuntering about the once-again-cute-but-dangerous Irish brand of terrorists, all you have to do is replace the phrase 'IRA' in the story below with 'Al Qaeda' and 'Belfast' for 'Kabul' and you realise just how completely she has got that wrong.

'Hollywood actress Rose McGowan has said she would have joined the IRA if she lived in Belfast during the Troubles.
McGowan stars in Fifty Dead Men Walking, an adaptation of IRA informer Martin McGartland's autobiography.
"My heart just broke for the cause," she told a news conference ahead of the film's world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival.
"Violence is not to be played out daily and provide an answer to problems, but I understand it."
The film also stars Jim Sturgess as Mr McGartland and Sir Ben Kingsley as his British handler.
It tells the story of how Mr McGartland joined the IRA at 16 after he was recruited by RUC Special Branch to infiltrate the group.
It chronicles his four years in the IRA between 1987 and 1991 before his cover was blown and he was kidnapped.
He escaped by jumping out of a window but was later resettled with a secret identity in Whitley Bay, near Newcastle upon Tyne.
However, his new name emerged after he was prosecuted for a driving offence, and in 1999 he was badly wounded in a gun attack, blamed on the IRA. Since then, MI5 has given him another name and moved him to another location.
Mr McGartland opposed the film for months but he now says he is happy with it following negotiations this week, which according to Reuters, included a £20,000 settlement whereby he agreed not to pursue legal action.
"The producers gave me a copy of the DVD and I watched it again ... and the more I watch it, I just love it," he said.
Canadian director Kari Skogland said Mr McGartland initially found it difficult to understand the film based on his life was not the same as making a documentary about him.
She said during filming in Belfast, advice from former IRA members on how to make a bomb and techniques for torturing informants helped to add authenticity to the project.
"I had many secret meetings in dark places. We were being watched by all sides, phones tapped, that sort of thing," she told the Hollywood Reporter.'


P.S. LOVING McGartland's quote about the movie he'd apparently hated until they bunged him £20 grand to shut up. "The more I watch it, I just love it". Anyone would think he was taking the piss.

Friday, September 05, 2008

"I started to explain Coffee Mate..."




Quite, QUITE the funniest story I've read in a very long time. Indeed, I have copied it in its entirety from the BBC website because it made me smile such a lot.

(Is it worth my asking whether anyone other than a British MP would be daft enough to consider it sensible to carry a large unmarked jar of white powder around Columbia on holiday? Probably not. Hey Ho.)


'MP's gunpoint Coffee Mate ordeal

An MP has described how he was held at gunpoint by guards in Colombia who mistook a jar of coffee whitener he was carrying for cocaine.
Lichfield MP Michael Fabricant had been on a trekking holiday to South America last week when he said he was held by armed soldiers who searched their bags.
He said one pulled out the unmarked jar of Coffee Mate and accused him of smuggling raw cocaine.
The MP said all he could do was to eat "mouthfuls" of it to prove otherwise.
Conservative MP Mr Fabricant, who was with a friend at the time, was eventually released and allowed to continue his holiday.
He said he ate several mouthfuls of the coffee whitener while M16 guns were pointed at him to prove it would not have any ill effects on him.
He offered some to the camouflaged guards, thinking that if it was pure cocaine it would be poisonous.
Mr Fabricant, who is now safely back home, said: "They started to speak to us in Spanish and unfortunately I don't really speak any Spanish at all.
"They started looking through our bags, and came across this container which was unmarked which contained this mysterious creamy, white powder, and they started shouting, 'cocaine, cocaine' or something that sounded like that in Spanish.
"I started to explain Coffee Mate and I don't think they understood because they were going, 'no coffee, no coffee'. I was saying I knew it wasn't coffee, but they were a bit bewildered."
Mr Fabricant said that although Colombian coffee was "really very, very good", he did not trust trying the local milk, which is why he had brought the coffee whitener with him.
He added: "I started tasting some of it and the guards insisted I had more to see if I was going to trip out.
"When it became obvious it wasn't happening, they started giggling and one tried it on their tongue.
"Mind you, I felt pretty ill after trying some. By the time you've had several scoops of Coffee Mate, and of course it expands in your stomach, it's not very nice."'

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Free will - BURN IT

Apparently, British schools are getting into book burning these days.

A response, or so it says on today's news, to the fact that a few inner city urchins think it's clever to stab each other of an evening instead of watching Eastenders, developing obesity or shoplifting.

Carol Ann Duffy is not the only writer affected by the cull on independent thought, however.

Children are being barred from reading the autobiographies of other such literary heavyweights as former Spice Girls Geri Haliwell and Victoria Beckham, for fears that reading about eating disorders will cause young girls to ditch their lunchtime sandwiches and pick up laxatives instead, while teachers can do nothing but look on, helplessly. The work of Grace Nichols, the author of 'Fat Black Women's poetry' and a long-time favourite of the inner-city teaching establishment (see title), is similarly affected, as teachers fear Nichols' enthusiasm for body fat may also lead youths to develop an unhealthy body image.

The obcenely violent collective works of literary gore-mongerer Geoff Chaucer have been banned outright from all schools, and a major question mark now hangs over the work of one Bill Shakespeare, whose writings include incest, images of racial and sexual bigotry, extreme violence and several incidents of knife crime.
Happily, these are moves that will have little effect on state schools in inner city areas, as they stopped teaching literature by dead white men years ago.

Elsewhere in the country, Argos is thinking of withdrawing kitchen knife sets from its shelves in case such deadly weapons should find their way into the hands of anyone under the age of 24.

And perhaps most shockingly, Copydex 'pyres' are being lit from coast-to-coast, like a modern day Armada, as teachers, ever wary of the intellectual frailty of our nation's youth (after all, they're largely responsible for it), fear access to glue may lead teenagers to a life of misery and drug addiction.



'An exam board is removing a poem about a knife-carrying violent loner from its anthology for GCSE English because of fears over teenage knife crime.
The AQA exam board has decided to withdraw the poem Education for Leisure written by Carol Ann Duffy.
The exam board is writing to schools to advise them to destroy the copies of the anthology - and says it will send replacements not containing this poem.
The poem begins with the line: "Today I am going to kill something. Anything."
It describes the thoughts of a disturbed, isolated individual who feels underappreciated and undervalued and who kills a fly then a goldfish. The poem concludes with this angry loner going outside with a bread knife.
Some teachers have been complaining for years about the poem's inclusion in the anthology.
In 2002, English staff at a school in Hull, East Yorkshire, refused to teach the poem and said they would even tear the page from the book if they had to.
The exam board said the poem had been a "popular choice" for pupils - allowing GCSE English students to debate issues about the state of mind of the poem's narrator.
But a spokeswoman said the board had received a complaint and against a background of fears over teenage knife crime had now decided to drop it from the anthology.
"People will have different views on this - but we have to make a decision in the light of what is currently happening," she said.
The exam board said the decision had not been taken lightly but that the selection of poems had to respond to current "social issues and public concern".
Carol Ann Duffy's literary agent, Peter Strauss, told the BBC's iPM programme that the poem was not a promotion of violence.
"This poem is pro-education and anti-violence. It is not glorifying violence in any way," said Mr Strauss.
"Carol Ann Duffy is a vocational poet for the young. She gets children fired up about language and verse. She talks to more schoolchildren than I've ever met. She's encouraged more people to have a love of words and a love of education than anyone else I know," said Mr Strauss.'

The Waste Land

Thought it worth mentioning this, as it's the first I've heard of this preposterously-titled 'Cultural Olympiad'.

Anyway, the jist of this story seems to be that, in the run up to its hideously ill-judged application to host the next Olympics, the 'London 2012' organisers realised that London was a veritable cultural wasteland, with nothing of artistic or literary value going on with which it could commend the city as a site for a sporting contest.

"We need to put on some culture to win this, that's what we need to do. You know, pictures n that", said Seb Coe.
"What about some pretty lights?" said that lesbian runner woman who won a few medals that time in Greece.
"BRILLIANT!" said everyone.

So is born the Cultural 'Olympiad'. Superb. The BBC online news bunny tried valiantly this morning to give this story due prominence, she really did, but is it just me or is it not rather telling that one of the 'highlights' of this historically-important, £40m (that's £40 MILLION) cultural epoch appears to be changing the lighting scheme at the Queen's gaff?


'A William Shakespeare festival and 12 new public works of art will form part of a 'Cultural Olympiad' planned for the run-up to the 2012 London games.
Set up to showcase Britain's arts and culture, the four-year programme will comprise 500 events designed to involve and inspire people at home and abroad.
Details are being announced on Thursday by 2012 chief Lord Coe at the National Theatre on London's South Bank.
The scheme was a key factor in London winning the bid to host the Olympics.
The Cultural Olympiad will co-ordinate the opening and closing ceremonies at the London games, as well as local and regional events.
It will begin with an open weekend, to be held later this month - between 26 and 28 September - for which hundreds of events have already been planned.
One of these will include the illumination of Windsor Castle and Blackpool Tower in pink, blue, orange and green - the colours of London 2012.
Future projects include Film Nation, a digital film competition for young people, and Unlimited, described as a celebration of disability arts, culture and sport.
There will also be National Singing Day, held as part of the BBC-backed Sound strand, dedicated to "celebrating music as universal language".
When London's selection as the next host of the Olympics was made in July 2005, Culture Secretary Tessa Jowell described the Cultural Olympiad as "absolutely central" to the vision of what could be achieved.
However, many of the original plans have reportedly been scrapped, with some people questioning the value of the scheme's reported £40m price-tag.'

All hail the "small town mom" itching for power

'Mrs Palin - who supports drilling for oil in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge - said that while drilling "will not solve all of America's energy problems", that is "no excuse to do nothing at all".'

Hmm. I wonder whether Mrs Palin has ever considered the possibility that the solution to "America's" energy problems (nice to see the rest of the globe features so prominently in her thinking) might just be for Americans to stop greedily sucking up so much fucking energy?

Anyway, Sarah Palin. With one son off to fight America's war, the other living with Downs Syndrome as a result of his mother's opposition to abortion - where the hell did they find someone so fucking perfect?

Personally I can't decide whether Palin is a comic genius or just the physical embodiment of misogyny in action in politics. Consider the facts: she called her daughter Bristol. (Yes, she's a hicksville teenager up the duff, which should qualify her as evil and worthless to her dear mummy's hyperventilating religious right, but it's OK, see, cos she's getting married. At 17. So that's all fine then. Keep up.) (Insert joke about enthusiasm for drilling in Alaska here, if you can be arsed).
Bristol, though. BRISTOL! Maybe she went there once on holiday and thinks its a dead sophisticated choice, like Brooklyn or Chelsea. Hmmm...

See, that kind of a sense of humour is to be commended. On the other hand, the fact that Palin appears to have been hired to "appeal" to female voters who are disappointed not to have Clinton in the running any longer, well that's less funny when you consider it's not meant to be a joke.

This is a pro-war, pro-environmental destruction, pro-guns, anti-abortion Nut-Nut from Fuckwit, Nowheresville we're talking about. And yet the popular media seem entirely happy to reiterate the puerile and offensive line that female Democratic voters and Clinton supporters will tick her fucking box entirely because she does not possess a penis?
Yes, of COURSE. Because that's how women vote, isn't it? We don't actually know a fucking thing about real politics, or understand complex things like economics, education or foreign policy. We vote for whoever's got the PURDIEST handbag. God forbid that women should actually be considered capable of voting according to their political beliefs. Nice to see that the same argument that was being used against female suffrage in Britain in 1912 is still as relevant in America today.

Still, on the plus side, Palin sounds a perfect candidate for a Republican government to me. Look:

'It has also been revealed that an attorney has been hired to represent Mrs Palin in an Alaska state ethics investigation involving alleged abuse of power.

Mrs Palin told US network CNBC she had "nothing to hide". Her deposition is expected to be scheduled soon.'