There is natural variation in all things. Few processes give exactly predictable results. Management and control lean heavily on measurement and reporting. It is important to distinguish between “noise” (i.e. the natural variation from the process) and “signal” (i.e. data which tells you something significant has happened). It is all too easy to waste time, energy and money chasing noise. Understand your data: statistical significance is the key.
Q. Are you thinking what I’m thinking?
A. No, I would never think a thing like that.
Q. Did you just say what I thought you just said?
A. I don’t know. How good is your hearing?
Q. Why is nothing ever simple?
A. Where do you want me to start?
Q. Will you ask me that again in ten years time?
A. Probably not.
Q. What do people in China call their good plates?
A. Good plates.
My regular readers will be aware that I have an ongoing curiosity regarding human sexual attraction: what it is, why it’s there, how it works, what it means. The subject of nipples seems apposite and offers a number of challenging questions.
Which body parts it is “proper” for a woman to reveal in public is a complex subject. Relying on some sweeping generalisations to circumvent the complexity: there are situations (red carpet at the Oscars?) where upper breast, cleavage, under breast, side breast are deemed acceptable, but nipples are not. Many beaches in Europe permit topless bathers but, where this is not so, it is the nipples that are covered. The most daring bikinis reveal most of the breast but conceal the nipple. I think it is reasonable to say that the nipple is a step beyond the breast.
Why is this so? In the coy sexual play of conceal and reveal, it is logical that the focus should fall upon the sites of human sexual differentiation. So vulva versus penis and scrota makes perfect sense. Developed female breasts versus undeveloped male breasts similarly makes sense. But what of nipples?
Men have nipples too. What’s more, to the naked eye, male nipples are indistinguishable from female nipples. So visually at least, the nipple is not a site of human sexual differentiation, unlike the rest of the breast. So the pecking order is all wrong: the breast should, logically, be more important than the nipple. Whence came this counterintuitive system?
Hearsay. Well, that and political pressure on crime figures. Oh, and coppers seeking to climb the greasy pole. Anything to get a conviction. Another tick in another box. I shouldn’t be in here. I haven’t done anything wrong. Well, nothing to justify them putting me behind bars, anyway. Bastards! I was trying to help, for fuck’s sake. Is this any way to repay me? Karen was obviously in distress. There was so much blood. I’ve never seen so much blood: horrible. Richard was just lying there. He was covered in blood too. I didn’t know he was dead though. Karen was screaming at me. What was she saying? “Leave me alone” I think. I looked behind me but I couldn’t see anyone. But it was quite dark down that alley. She was upset. Quite understandable, given the circumstances. Not thinking straight. I guess she would have screamed at anyone. I shouldn’t take it personally. No, I’m being too sensitive there. I need to calm down and think it through properly. How did we come to be in that alley? I know I was in the nightclub. I remember seeing Karen dancing. She’s usually quite sexy but she’s a real turn-on when she’s dancing. Richard was dancing with her. I think he was. I’m not sure. I was just drinking at the bar. Just watching. Watching Karen dancing. She has a fantastic figure. Marvellous tits. Great legs too. She should have been dancing with me. I wanted to take her home. Yes, I wanted that. I wanted her in my bed. I wanted her naked. I knew I had to play with that fantastic body. But she was dancing with Richard. Then she went out back. I thought she was going to the loo but she kept going. Out through the fire escape and into the alley. Smokers’ corner. Why was I there? I don’t smoke. She should have come home with me then. I knew that she had the hots for me. I think she was only dancing with Richard to make me jealous. I know she loves me really. We could have gone back to my place. Then Richard was there. What did he want? I was only talking to Karen. It was nothing to do with him. I think Karen must have felt embarrassed. That was Richard’s fault. Karen and I were going back to my place. But she wouldn’t want Richard to know. That’s it. That’s why she was embarrassed. That’s why she said she wouldn’t come. It was his fault. Then she laughed at me. Why would she do that? That made me angry. I really hate it when someone laughs at me. What happened next? I can’t remember. But Richard got hurt. All that blood!
We had dinner with a six friends from the wine circle at the Royal Oak in Aubourn on Saturday night. After a fine repast, I was stuffed to the gunwales with piggely pie, loitering in the bar area, finishing my pint of Black Sheep best bitter. Sid called out to me “Rob, help me”. I turned to find him slumped backwards across bar and bar stool, looking decidedly dodgy. I rushed to him and caught him as he began to slide to the floor. His usually pink complexion had turned greenish grey, he was sweating profusely but felt cold, whilst losing consciousness. Now I knew Sid was diabetic, so I guessed he was suffering a hypo, wrestled him back onto his stool and asked the barmaid to call an ambulance. “Not nice but no cause for panic” thought I. As an afterthought, I checked Sid’s pulse: nothing. Checked the other wrist and carotid: still nothing. Forget the “no need to panic” comment: Sid is dying.
I shouted Maeve and Elsie, Sid’s wife, over and we dragged Sid onto one of the padded bench seats. Still no detectable pulse, but he was breathing and wandering in and out of consciousness. So I called for quiet and listened to his chest. His heart seemed to be thumping away at a reasonable pace: so why didn’t he have a pulse? I no longer thought Sid was dying but I couldn’t make sense of the symptoms he presented.
Ten minutes later, Sid was waking up and regaining some colour, as the paramedic arrived. She had him hooked up to ECG and tested for blood glucose (9.7 mmol/l) in minutes. She gave us her diagnosis: Sid had suffered a vaso-vagal event. The silly old sod had eaten and drunk so much as to put his guts into shock. This had caused his body to divert virtually all blood circulation to his guts, accounting for his blanched complexion, undetectable pulse and loss of consciousness. Given his diabetes and previous heart attack, she recommended that he be taken to Lincoln County Hospital for a thorough check-over, but he was not in any danger. He was discharged at 01:00 next morning.
To follow a trend set by others seems ovine. I’m told there is sufficient latitude within any trend for individuality; for each to demonstrate their interpretation. I can see that but surely, there is even more latitude for individuality without the trend? What purpose does the trend fulfil?
New is better than old. Is it? OK, it could be there is some design improvement offered; some solution to a problem, not previously thought of but that seems rare. More often I see the same styles regurgitated on an erratic cycle “this year, the nineteen-twenties look is in”. If retro is in, then someone thinks old is better than new.
Does fashion help snobs and bitches? Does being “in” help me to sneer and criticise those who are “out”? How often have we heard “that’s soooo last year”? Is this really the sort of behaviour we want to encourage?
I own a garment that fits me well, is in a good state of repair, is comfortable, I like. But it’s not a la mode. Should I wear it or not? To me, it’s a no-brainer; others differ. I wish I could tell you all that I’m immune to the peer pressure but that would not be strictly accurate.
Fashion is an art-form. Haute couture may be; buying the latest trends off a high street rack is not; buying a pink laptop is not.
Fashion is slowly but surely creeping into so many consumer goods. It’s held sway in clothing, shoes, music and décor for centuries; more recently cars, but now phones, computers, gadgets, toothbrushes. The economic advantages for manufacturers, to persuade you that your goods need replacing, even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with them, are clear. Will you fall for it?
“This delightful-sounding word possibly comes to English from the Anglo-Norman hapertas meaning “small ware,” though the origin is unknown. Haberdashery first entered English in the early fourteen-hundreds, though the term for the proprietor of this kind of shop or these kinds of goods, a haberdasher predates haberdashery by one hundred years.”
So did M. Haberdasher twiddle his thumbs in an empty shop for a century?
Cut price haberdashery is perfect for a cheap frill.
My friend Kim came back from a training course in Germany, where the tutor tried to persuade her that culture comes from sayings, adages or saws. That set our morning coffee gathering to a lively debate. It feels like a case of the tail wagging the dog or the cart before the horse to me. Surely, it’s our culture that defines our sayings, not the other way around?
We’re not usually very serious for very long and this occasion was no exception. Levity is the watchword, even if I’m the only one who knows what it means. Claire proposed “lol”, though I don’t think that qualifies as a saying. If at first you don’t succeed, maybe sky-diving isn’t for you. If you can keep your head, whilst those around are losing theirs, maybe you’ve misunderstood the situation. Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may diet. Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he’ll want a quota. Little Jack Horner pulled out a plum and said “where’s my thumb gone?” Procrastination is the thief of time, but so are a lot of other long words. Beauty is only skin deep but ugliness goes right to the bone. It is better to keep your mouth shut, and have everyone think you’re dumb, than to open it, and prove it beyond all doubt. “Hell hath no fury like a woman’s corn” (Taming Of The Shoe).
Culture? Don’t talk to me about culture. Ask the man with the petri dish.
We said goodbye to a good friend today. Freda was wonderful to be with; never had a bad word to say about anyone; enjoyed her life; took sustenance and real delight in the people and events around her. Even in her late eighties, she had a sense of fun and mischief that lit up the room. We will miss her.
You expect a funeral to be a sad occasion and, in some ways, I suppose it was. But I think the mood was more one of celebration and gratitude for what Freda had given us and relief that she didn’t suffer for long.
I hope there are no long faces when I shake off this coital maul. I’ve had a good life. I want folk to raise a glass and say a happy goodbye. Wear a red dress, have a drink on me and give me a smile.
You expect bouts of attention seeking behaviour from a three year old. They don’t understand the ways of the world at that age. It does not seem unreasonable to them to rant, scream and generally misbehave until they get what they want. Parents put much time and effort into teaching moderation, give-and-take, decorum. If you’ve had the misfortune to be cooped with an attention seeking child and ineffectual parent combination, you will know how irksome it can be. Christos Tsiolkas describes a similar poser in “The Slap”. Violence isn’t the answer. There are two well-defined methods for approaching the ineffectual parent of a misbehaving child and they’re both useless.
Children grow up, maybe despite their parents. Most, though certainly not all, lose their tantrums. Do they lose their attention seeking behaviour? I think, if you don’t think about it much, you answer “yes”. But take a step back and ponder a moment. How much of all human endeavour is attention seeking behaviour? Whether you’re an actor, model, musician, architect, manager, gardener, writer, priest; how much of what you do is to seek the attention of your peers? Sure, you have to make a living and use your talents to get on in the world; that’s a given. Do you hide your light under a bushel meantime?