Bi-Polar Lives: My Dad & Stephen Fry

Originally posted on Sadie Hasler:

Last week, in a podcast with lovely comedian Richard Herring, Stephen Fry felt comfortable enough to speak with further candour about his ‘bi-polar life’. Confessing that he had only last year attempted suicide, he went a little further than he has previously done, giving us another intimate instalment of his condition – a duty he takes seriously as the president of charity Mind. It was shocking to hear of such an act, but perhaps more so of such recency; you always naively hope, despite his frankness about his lows, that he has conquered the demons since his famous breakdown of 1995, which saw him walking out of a West-End play to sail for Belgium, (as good a place for dark thoughts as any).

It is something I remember vaguely from the news while I was staying at my Dad’s bungalow in North Wales. I naturally thought it was sad, but…

View original 1,054 more words

Wollaton Park

Wollaton Park by rutty
Wollaton Park, a photo by rutty on Flickr.

We are lucky to live in Nottingham. There are plenty of green spaces within a short distance, and a three year-old with lots of energy needs somewhere to run around.

There is a park directly opposite our street, which is great for a quick visit but it’s not very big and lacks trees. Luckily Wollaton Park is only a short drive away. There are plenty of trees there, a café, a lake, deer, ducks, swans and geese and miles of paths for Ruby to race along on her balance bike or scooter.

Balance Bike

We had a lovely afternoon there on Saturday. Now that Ruby is getting bigger we really should visit there more frequently.

Shut up and listen

I read Freethought Blogs quite a bit and came across this excellent post by Paul Fidalgo:

We do not like to be told we are being jerks. We do not like to be told we are being demeaning, or belittling, or discriminatory, or bigoted, even if by accident. Particularly we skepto-atheists, who so pride ourselves on our rationality, our grip on reality, our ability to coolly evaluate information on its merits.

But, inevitably — and especially if you are a white male — you will be called out. You will say something, you will write something, you will assess an idea or a cause or a feeling expressed. It will contain, in this assessment, this comment, or what have you, a word, a sentence, a supposition, a slant that causes offense. Someone, likely not a white male, will point out how this comment is hurtful, how it exacerbates a stereotype, how it reveals one’s unacknowledged social privilege, how it seems to minimize the grievances of another group.

You know what happens next. The blood boils, the eyes widen, the hackles rise, the jaw tightens. You argue back. How could you think this of me? How could you accuse me of such a thing? I am enlightened, I am sensitive, I am progressive, I am rational. I am not one of those white males. What I said was devoid of bigotry, it was not demeaning, it was not belittling, it was not in any way tainted by privilege.

This fits in with both my experiences as a white, able-bodied male and as a systems thinking student. My worldview is shaped by experiences, so it is difficult to understand the worldviews of those from different backgrounds. I’ve often said something that seems innocuous to me but could be construed as upsetting or insulting to others. It’s often impossible to discuss some subjects without upsetting someone, but I do think that it’s important to at least try to understand the arguments of people from different backgrounds.

Being aware that you might be wrong, or might have some gaps in your knowledge, is part of being epistemologically aware. We are part of our environment and we can only see bits of it – there are huge portions of our world that we are unaware of, but which is in closer focus of those around us. We should listen to these people when they air their grievances rather than just discount them as being unreasonable or part of the “political correctness gone mad” brigade.

We might learn something.

Snowy fun at Highfield’s Park

Snowy fun at Highfield's Park by rutty
Snowy fun at Highfield’s Park, a photo by rutty on Flickr.

Well, the snow is now all gone, but we managed to have some fun in it while it was still here. Jo, Ruby and I took a trip down to the Nottingham University campus at Highfield’s Park on Saturday morning and we had an enormous amount of fun with our little sledge.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been sledging and I was quite pleased that the slopes at the university are really gentle. Ruby loved it too.

It’s a shame it’s all melted. Can we have some more please?

Maynard Ferguson Legacy Big Band

Maynard Ferguson Legacy Big Band by rutty
Maynard Ferguson Legacy Big Band, a photo by rutty on Flickr.

This weekend saw me spend 48 hours or so in the most bracing part of England – Skegness for my favourite brass band event of the year, the Butlin’s Mineworkers Championships. Thousands of brass banders managed to get there despite the atrocious weather conditions. Music was played, beer was drunk and (in our case) disappointment in the eventual results was drowned in copious amount of alcohol.

I love this weekend. Love it.

One of the highlights was seeing the Maynard Ferguson Legacy Big Band in Reds on Saturday evening. They had the well-known trumpet screamer Chad Shoopman with them, and they were absolutely brilliant. I have no idea how the guy can reach some of those notes – it’s totally not natural.

Bring on 2014 (and a better result next time)