Friday, January 29, 2010

One case to be put to bed

I had to laugh at the plight of one Elaine Carmody who was told to leave a supermarket in Wales for shopping in her pyjamas. But even more amusing than that is the fact that Ms. Carmody thought she was presentable because she was in her "best" PJs.
Tesco doesn't agree that anyone in pyjamas or nightgowns, or any other sleep-time attire, constitutes a tidy look. The store banned all nightwear in addition to bare feet. Bravo to them.
Firstly, I cannot comprehend why anyone wears those ridiculous things in the first place. I ditched pyjamas at the age of 13 and I've never gone back to them. Never even been tempted to. A plush bathrobe warms me up just fine for puttering around the apartment at night or on lazy days off. However, I wouldn't expect any retailer to let me onto their premises dressed like that. (No danger of me "flashing," but, hey, you know ...!)
Secondly, what on earth are people thinking when they go shopping in PJs and slippers? Some people are natural attention-getters/exhibitionists. Others tend to think of their local supermarket as an extension of their home. But, more than anything, it's the fact that people dress so down these days, they no longer know what's appropriate.
To see what happens when a store does not have some kind of dress code, you only have to visit the hilarious site People of Walmart. Men in hot pants, women in thongs, people with liberal amounts of ass-crack showing. It's all there.
I enjoy grocery shopping, believe it or not (I'm a domestic little dragon; just don't ask me to go clothes shopping). But when I'm pushing my carriage through the aisles, I would like to concentrate on what I went in the store for: groceries. I don't go shopping to look at other people's underwear—or lack of it—or pyjamas. Other shoppers feel the same.
In response to the Tesco ban on nightwear, one customer said, "I'm not a killjoy, but it is embarrassing seeing so many people shopping in their pyjamas and slippers. It is almost as if people have given up and forgotten the basic rules of civility."
And how.
A Tesco spokesman explained the supermarket's ban: "We're not a nightclub with a strict dress code, and jeans and trainers are of course more than welcome. We do, however, request that customers do not shop in their PJs or nightgowns. This is to avoid causing offence or embarrassment to others."
In other words, Tesco is not asking that their customers come attired in ballgowns and top hats, but to recognize the basics of civilized clothing. Not an unreasonable request by any means.
Carmody, however, does not get it. "I go in other shops in my pyjamas and they don't say anything," she protests. "You used to always be allowed in Tesco. But not now—it is ridiculous and stupid. I've got lovely pairs of pyjamas, with bears and penguins on them. I've worn my best ones today, just so I look tidy."
I mean, c'mon folks—bear- and penguin-themed pyjamas! How can anyone possibly object?
People can have legitimate grievances against supermarkets like Tesco for their overzealous monopolizing, disregard for farm animal welfare and lax enviornmental standards, including their plastic bag fetish.
But not allowing people in pyjamas in their stores? Hardly a reason to kick up a fuss.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"And now for something completely different ..."

Squirrel and I recently purchased the complete Fawlty Towers collection on DVD. There are, naturally, extras to watch and they include an entertaining interview with John Cleese.
At one point in the interview, Cleese mentioned the taboo subjects they tackled in Fawlty Towers, which gives him cause to ruminate on the subject of political correctness:
[T]he P.C. lobby—the politically correct lobby—is something I don't understand. A lot of what I see on television now, both here (Britain) and in America, seems to me much riskier than we would have gotten away with, even in the Python days. And then at the same time, you hear about these politically correct movements which I think are by and large run and staffed largely by obsessions.
There's a good idea at the back of political correctness, but it gets taken ad absurdum, and I think that the danger is this: If you're in a group of people, and you find that one person is particularly touchy, they have difficulty controlling their emotions—greater difficulty than the other people in the group—then you can't have so much fun about them, because they're touchy and they're likely to explode. So when they're around, you're not as relaxed. You're not as spontaneous, you can't be more real; you have to kind of be more formal.
If you find that society is being run by the touchiest members, then, in a sense, that's a bit sick. Because you're trying to take as the general standard, the standard of the people who have the greatest problem controlling their emotions in that area.
Coming from an avowed liberal such as John Cleese, this is an incredibly truthful observation.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Of homosexuality and ice dancing

As we returned home from the supermarket this past Sunday evening and settled down to relax, my wife tuned into this program called Dancing on Ice, in which certain B-list celebrities team up with professional skaters and perform two-minute long dance routines. Then the show's panel of judges assess their performance.
This show gets on my nerves, big-time. I don't like the music, all the hyped-up cheering or the diva judges. I cringe at the sight of a man wearing a pink, sparkly costume. Most of all, I don't like watching ice skating, espcially ice dancing. Just not my thing. It never was, isn't, and—for all I can tell—never will be.
I let her watch the program while I busied myself in the kitchen, putting the groceries away and tending to the homemade mushroom pizzas that were cooking. But as I came into the living room with our dinners, I told Squirrel, "You're not going to make me suffer through this fag-o-rama, are you?"
Squirrel's jaw dropped. "You ought to be ashamed of yourself," she berated me. "How can you use such a word? And you, a bisexual!"
I didn't say anything while she chewed me out. I just shrugged.
She calmed down later and said, "Well, this is a woman's program, I suppose. I can't blame you for not liking it. Things like this really bring out the macho in you."
"Damn right," I said. "I tell you, hon, if I ever meet a man who tells me he likes Dancing on Ice, I'm running away as fast as my legs will carry me."
Now here's the clicker: Despite my use of a disparaging term for homosexuals and my promise to run a mile from any man who possesses a certain affection for this effeminate programming, I do not consider myself a homophobic person. Genuinely, I'm not.
I was reading a travel book recently about the Caribbean Islands. The book advised gays that Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Barbados are all quite homophobic and that violence towards gays is a real danger in these places. In fact, in Jamaica, lyrics to their popular dancehall and ragga music encourages attacks on gays. Human-rights groups call Jamaica "the most homophobic place on Earth."
I was disgusted upon reading this. Not that I ever wanted to go to crime-ridden Jamaica in the first place, but I especially wouldn't go now. I won't be among a people this hostile to sexual preference.
So why did I spout such disparaging abuse at Dancing on Ice, essentially labelling the program "gay?" Why does my machismo prevail in situations where I sense emasculation?
Quite possibly, it's because I've never fully accepted my bisexuality. I have never had a homosexual experience—for which I feel more pride and relief than regret and desire—and furthermore, I am proud to be heterosexually married and living a straight lifestyle. I have never had cause to regret marrying a woman, and I don't ever feel guilty about my "het privilege."
Yet, at the same time, bashing someone just because of their sexual orientation—or because of anything that they do in the privacy of their own bedroom—is unthinkable to me. I am with the gay community in believing that homesexuality is a product of nature, not nurture. There is no cause for me to get riled up just because someone is a homosexual. I have been to gay bars with or without Squirrel (and still continue on an infrequent basis to visit them), not to solicit anyone's attention, but simply to soak in the atmosphere, which I enjoy. I do not mind civil unions—though I'm against gay "marriage"—and I do not regard homosexuality as immoral.
Let's face it, awful though it may be, if you really want to express your total disgust at something, there is no more effective way of doing that in Western society than to declare it "gay." It's endemic, and, wrong though it was, I found the ultimate way to proclaim my hatred of that show by tying it up with the word "fag." The problem is, it did make me sound less of a 40-year-old married man and more like some punk-ass teenager who still has yet to completely figure out, deal with and ultimately accept his own sexuality.
My wife had a point. If I'm not like the Jamaicans in my attitude toward gays, then I need to stop using certain words in certain contexts.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Massachusetts ain't what it used to be

Well, dear reader, in case you're wondering, I am ecstatic about Scott Brown's win for the open Senate seat in my native Bay State. The Republican won 52 percent of the vote, beating state attorney general Martha Coakley and stunning Democrats in the process.
Barack Obama cannot any longer count on a Senate majority needed to sail his legislation through.
Even though Brown is an abortion supporter—as Northeast Republicans tend to be—he is adamantly against gay marriage, approves of waterboarding as a terrorist interrogation technique, and opposes fast-track asylum for illegal immigrants.
I am not a rabid Tea Party member, and no fan of Sarah Palin am I. I prefer my Republicans to use their brains or, to wit, possess one and not simply appeal to the "big families and guns" element of conservative society. It would be nice to know that if I vote for a conservative guy or gal, he or she will represent me a lot more meaningfully than trying to protect one's right to consume cigarettes and trans-fats. And actually being able to point to Afghanistan on a world map or a globe is always a plus too.
But I like what Scott Brown represents. He represents a crucial change of mood in notoriously liberal Massachusetts, and the Bay State could be a crucial test case for voters in other parts of the country. In other words, if Massachusetts voters are fed up, think what could that mean for traditional swing states like Ohio, Florida and Virginia. Does anyone think that Ohioans and Floridians are still mad on Obama? And we've already recently seen an open Senate seat in Virginia go to a Republican.
The Republican resurgence we're witnessing could put the brakes on the administration's quasi-socialist agenda.
It seems incredible that just one year after all the Messiah-mania, President Obama finds himself in an implausibly precarious situation. Just as I predicted, this man isn't turning out to be another Franklin Roosevelt or Harry Truman. He's resembling Jimmy Carter.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Thank goodness for global warming; I might feel too hot otherwise

As Daily Mail columnist Richard Littlejohn recently wrote, "Whatever they agreed at Copenhagen to tackle 'global warming' has obviously worked. It hasn't stopped snowing since."
For more than a month now, we've had temperatures not going much above freezing point at midday and well into the 20s or lower at night. That may be par for the course for some folks in the winter, but for Britain to be this cold, for so long, on a consecutive basis, is highly unusual.
We've even had three—count 'em, three—snowstorms in the space of two weeks. Again, highly unusual for this part of the world.
Worse yet, there's no end to this Arctic blast in sight. The Met predicts that not only will we remain in the deep freeze for the foreseeable future, but that it might just get even worse. I actually believe them. When terrible, soul-stabbing weather is on the cards, such as endless grey skies, floods or cold so severe that your feet never quite warm up, they couldn't be more right. Whenever they predict beautiful conditions, such as the "barbecue summer" and the "mild winter" they previously promised us, they couldn't fall on their faces any flatter.
As Littlejohn wrote, these guys can hardly get the weather right from one day to the next—or, as I see it, they're only right when the forecast is horrible—yet we're expected to believe that their forecast for 50 years from now is completely accurate?
I know that it's difficult and a lot less straightforward to predict the weather in an oceanic climate such as Britain's as opposed to a continental climate like most of my native North America. But the Met Office's predictions are becoming parodies of themselves. I can hardly wait to hear their prediction for this coming summer. If they say it will be hot and sunny, it'll be crap. If they say it will be crap, it'll be crap. The summer is going to be garbage—and we all know it—no matter what the British weathermen say.
And yet, in the midst of the Northern Hempishere's latest ice age, and with no real summer to look forward to as compensation for it, I'm expected to heed warnings about out-of-control global warming? This has to be the least funny joke I've ever heard.
You know why the Met Office loves to predict broiling summers and mild winters? Because, on the one-in-15 billion chance that they'd have guessed correctly, it would, in their minds, justify the global warming doomsday scenario of which they're such devotees. The Met would get all smug and start treating us to thinly disguised lectures along the lines of "I told you so" with every daily (and nightly) forecast.
As Littlejohn wrote, the Met Office "is little more than a full-time government-funded global warming pressure group." They don't enjoy seeing the sort of weather that the rest of us would enjoy immensely not coming to pass. Because, if we're all shivering—be it in the winter or the summer—then that means that the average citizen just might conclude that "global warming" is a farce, an excuse to tax us into oblivion, or—at the very least—a story with a heavily biased slant.
Let me tell you, if we start getting incredibly warm weather that goes largely unbroken from April straight through to November, year after year, then I may start to believe in global warming. But, I assure you, not a moment before then. I do believe the Earth is going through some climactic changes, but I just don't buy into this doomsday scenario. The biggest climate concern is the climate of fear that we're having pushed upon us relentlessly.
Now, if you'll excuse me, dear reader, I need to go put some gloves on. My hands have only been uncovered for about three minutes ...