Thursday, August 17, 2006

Time for a new bookmark

If you know me, you know that I have a poor attention span when the white-hot beam of obsession has left something. Well, friends, this ol' blog about my opinions and stupid stuff I spend my days doing has grown kind of musty of late, as you have must have noticed.

I started a new blog. It's aboutmy opinions and the stupid stuff I spend my days doing.

I called it The Bran Report. T-shirts will be available at my next convention.

I feel that my blogging adventures deserve a new start. With the advent of my first comment-spam on the new site, I thought it was time to direct the literally THOUSANDS of you hittin' refresh on an hourly basis to know where you could find all the latest news about what I eat for breakfast.

That link again:
The Bran Report.

All around your every curve

Thursday, June 08, 2006

The College north of the Hellespont

As you may or may not know, Oxford is a university made up of colleges. Until today, one of those was St. Hilda's college, and it only admitted women as students. This had upsides and downsides- to be superficial, it meant that Hilda's grounds were remarkably clean. On the the other hand, it meant that some male undergraduates from other colleges regarded Hilda's as an Amazonian paradise. I once heard someone remark that the only real difference it made was that if there was a fire-drill at night, it was immediately obvious who was a 'guest'.

Well, today Hilda's has decided to go co-ed. Somerville did it ten years ago, and other colleges did it before them. Cambridge still has three all-female colleges.

One of the biggest problems Hilda's had is that it could, obviously, only pick from 50% of the applicant field, and this made statistics look bad- but, more importantly, it meant that unless a female applicant specifically applied to some other college, she was statistically very likely to be assigned to Hilda's. Not a few regarded this with chagrin. Once they got here, they generally realised it was no big deal after all. Even so, this was a problem and so we wondered what to do. Someone suggested allowing a tick-box to apply to "Anywhere except St. Hilda's" but this could well have quartered the size of the college in three years.

What we really needed was a widespread change in attitudes about Oxford, but we need that on a lot of topics. I'm sure Feminists will recognise the situation.

In the end, we've decided to give up on the idea of a single-sex college. There is one big demographic who will not welcome this news at all, though: daughters of religious (and especially Muslim) families, who were only given blessing to study at Oxford on the condition that they could do it in the anti-shennanegans environment of a single-sex college. You and I know that St. Hilda's isn't a whole lot more or less promiscuous than any other college but as is so often the case, it's perception that's important.

But what else is there to do? It's not like there's any all-male colleges, right?

Welll... almost.

In addition to colleges, we also have Permanent Private Halls- most are outgrowths of Christian monasteries and the biggest are sub-colleges. They have a special status in terms of applications: you probably won't go to a PPH unless you apply to one. They're small, and tend not to have tutors in the Science subjects. They're dominated by Theology, and most incorporate a body of monks. Some are, or have been, all-male.

What we need is an institution, call it a Hall or College, that has this same status for admissions. Don't put people in the "Hilda's or Nowhere" fork that some have faced. I think there'll be enough interest on it's own.

But we've got the mechanics of a PPH; why not use a little of it's flavour? Most Halls have a religious dimension. How about a Hall that tries to be a centre of excellence in Muslim theology? It's exactly as useful as Christian theology, after all, and as a university we're alreadycommitted to study and philosophy in mainstream or "liberal" western Islam. And really, how many opportunities are there for women to get prestigious positions in Muslim thought? If nothing else, it'd be one thing we could offer a brand Cambridge don't.

Maybe we should call it "St. Rabi'a Hall"?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

March to Destruction, part two

A few days ago, there were stormclouds on the horizon. Now, for the dissapointing conclusion!

I should warn you that while describing bodily functions is by and large not how I roll, there's only so much this would allow me to tell you about the idea of putting an American gallon of fluid into my body.


Mug one- 19:02

Mug two- 19:03
This is going to be a cake-walk!

Mug three- 19:04
Yep, slow and steady is going to win this for me. These guys will soon realise you can't challenge me with impunity.
Mug six. 19:14
Well, I guess the task isn't trivial, but I'm more than halfway through the first bottle, I reckon.

Mug eight 19:19
Man, this bottle will just not end. What's going on?

There it is . One bottle down. Maybe I'll take a little breather.

Hey Nathan, you're clutching your face.

(Staring fiexedly at the second, untapped bottle) I've made a terrible mistake.

Rules enquiry: am I allowed to rinse out my mouth to try to escape the taste of fetid cheese?

I am lost in a roman.... wilderness of pain.

Damn. It's the halfway mark, and I still haven't broached the second cask. Maybe I should take off my belt.

I mean, do we even need another generation of animated IM emoticons?

Hey Nathan, you're clutching your face again? Does this means bad things are going to happen?

Hey Boss, I'm going to go and spit bile into the toilet bowl. I'll be back to stare at the untouched carton some more in a bit.



As I am typing this, there is a boiling pain in my stomach. Something is dreadfully wrong.

I can feel my stomach. I don't mean my abdomen, I mean I can press and physically touch a distended, hard mass under my skin.


The snake is long, seven miles