Dear sexist Tesco

English: Tesco at Bandar Bukit Tinggi, Klang
This Tesco is blue, so it’s a boy’s Tesco (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There was an article kicking around on facebook a few weeks ago about Tesco’s insistence that chemistry, electronics, physics and other science-y toys were “boys’ toys”. Because, obviously, girls aren’t interested in science and are also rubbish at it.

Well, actually, this is crap.

Younger girls may be put off science by the fact that all the science-based toys are in the boys’ section, so if they were to get one their peers could go down the “Ew, you’re playing with boys’ stuff” route. Peer pressure has a hell of an effect when you’re in primary school or early secondary.

I was a bit annoyed when I read the original story – and still am, in honesty – but put it to the back of my mind. Until today.

We just had our school prize day. Bear in mind I work at a “posh” school where the kids really are pushed, by staff and parents. As such, we’ve got quite the number who are expected to become doctors, vets and the like. In other words, this is a school where the gender thing is thrown out the window in exchange for the “success in whatever field” thing. A level playing-field as far as subject matter goes.

Here are some figures:

  • Number of science prizes up for grabs (Bio, Chem, Phys & Computing): 16
  • Number won by males: 9
  • Number won by females: 7
  • Highest score in the SQA 2012 Higher Physics exam (nationwide): Female
  • Highest score in the SQA 2012 Higher Chemistry exam (nationwide): Male

So, not far off a 50:50 split. In other words, the sciences are as much a female as a male domain. As such, girls should be encouraged as much as boys to pick up a programming manual, packet of litmus paper, scalpel or voltmeter.

And Tesco can shove their sexist categorisations of learning toys up their corporate backside.

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Man of Steel

120px-Film-stripFirst review in some time as I was almost forced to go to the cinema against my will. Mainly as I’m knackered. We’ve missed some (apparently) great films recently – the new Star Trek and F&F’s for a start – but we had a window and it was either Man of Steel or the new Simon Pegg one. We opted for the big budget release as I already knew people who’d seen it and liked it.

Man of Steel

“People are afraid of what they don’t understand.”

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Oh, come on. It’s a Superman reboot.

See it if you like: the current run of Superhero films.

I’m not sure if I enjoyed this film or not. Which is a weird way to start a review.

On the plus side, it’s a new take on the mythos which brings it into a more contemporary setting. There’s no follow-on from any previous Superman film. It’s big in scale, brash and littered with generally very impressive special effects.

Downsides include some dreadful shaky camerawork that doesn’t so much emphasise action or destruction (much of it is during conversational scenes) so much as it cries that the film-makers wanted to make your eyeballs hurt. The dialogue seemed bland, which is surprising given the quality of the cast, They just didn’t seem to be stretched, with the possible exception of Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent. He gives an exceptional performance and about the only one in the film that dragged any emotion out of me.

The big thing that didn’t hook me was, surprisingly, the scale of destruction. The effects were good – very good. But destroying stuff is just so common in films these days that it gets boring. The bigger the film-makers try to make it, the more it seems to be there to distract from the plot. Much as I enjoy watching a skyscraper collapse, I’d much rather have some decent dialogue and a plot twist or three.

Looking at it from a positive point of view, there was a good merging of the stories from the original Superman: The Movie and Superman II. The vision of Kryptonian architecture as organic rather than crystalline makes a nice change. The constant flashback jumps back and forth in Clark’s life makes for something slightly non-linear, but the events they portray all make the same point. It very much labours the “you have to keep your powers hidden” message.

The story borrows from several sources and just doesn’t seem particularly original. Obviously, the Superman origin story is expected. But then there’s the way the ships hang in the air and send light beams down. It just seems like a scene from too many sci-fi films (and TV series) in recent years. The way that Jonathan mentors Clark is too similar to the Peter Parker / Uncle Ben relationship.

On the other hand, I sat through all 140+ minutes of it and never really felt bored, or that it was over-long.

So, in my own head, I’m no further forward. I didn’t hate it or find it a bit silly (like Thor), but I also didn’t really take to it the way I did the first Iron Man.

So while most other reviews are polarised – quite literally love- or hate-filled – I’m afraid I’m going to have to sit on the fence. Overall, it’ far more good than bad. It’s just not awe-inspiringly brilliant or “film of the year” material.

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Action: Pulse Pounding Tales volume 2

Action: Pulse Pounding Tales Vol 2

Somehow I found the time to dust off my writing hat and submit another story for the second volume of Matt Hilton’s Action: Pulse Pounding Tales series. Volume two, once again, has 30+ short stories from a variety of new and established authors.

It clocks in at a low price (currently £2.05) for the page count and it’s every bit as good as Volume 1.

It’s available for Kindle (and associated reader apps) via Amazon in the:

UK

and

US

Pretty please pick up a copy and let me know what you think of my short story!

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Arnold Clark – lying, two-faced bastards

Lying bastards AVOID.

NEVER EVER EVER consider buying a car from these dodgy shysters.

To date Arnold Clark have:

  • Failed to return a car stereo in a vehicle I part-ex’d with them despite promising to do so. Sales staff simply stopped returning my calls after I purchased my new car.
  • Taken 3+ months to organise a half-day warranty repair. And then took 3 days to perform said repair. During the palaver, they claimed (to Renault, the only way I was able to organise anything was via the manufacturer!) to have spoken to me on several occasions – they didn’t. Not once. They also “confirmed” an appointment with me which I’d never spoken to them about and which I couldn’t have attended.
  • Mis-sold a car to my wife regarding size and specs, then refused to exchange our previous car back. Sales person lied to their manager about what he’d told us and how we had evaluated the vehicle. Manager believed him over us. We ended up having to get another vehicle elsewhere and ended up approximately £2000 out of pocket.
  • Sold my wife a car with a chipped windscreen (hidden by a sticker at the showroom), with a passenger door that won’t open from the inside, and a dodgy key that won’t start the car.

It’s a 7-seater and we need a vehicle this size. She’s been told that she has to pay for a hire vehicle (or specifically the insurance on one) while they fix their shoddy sale, and I will bet you our house that it will be something the size of a Clio, not the size we require. In other words, it’ll be useless.

The only thing stopping me driving down there and having it out with one of the lying, two-faced bastards is that she’s made me promise I won’t. I am FUMING at the moment and want nothing more than to go down when they’re busy and ensure that they make no sales while I’m on or near the premises.

I gather that Scotland has no trespass laws, so can they actually eject me? They certainly can’t have me moved on from the road outside…

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Fathers’ Day

image
Two of three

Best thing about Fathers’ Day is having kids. This year a special shout out has to go to Ellissa. I know we don’t get on a lot of the time, but she made me really proud last night at her dance show.

She’s really been putting work in. Even better than she was last year and I’m sure I saw a few of her group following her lead when they weren’t sure what was next.

Then there’s Little Mister who’s qualified for a place at the school I work at, despite his speech/language issues. He’s come on like you wouldn’t believe the last year or so.

And of course, Littler Miss just continues to amaze. Every day a fresh challenge with that one…