Fandango’s Provocative Question (16 June 2021)

Today’s Provocative Question, Fandango asks:

What is your biggest regret in life?

There are one or two stand-out candidates, head and shoulders above everything else.

  • Fatherhood. My daughter accused me of abusing her when she was fifteen
  • my stroke, six months later.

Let’s look at these. My daughter has had mental health diagnoses, I still see (from a distance) how she struggles through life. Sure, she hurt me badly, but I have seen with my own eyes, the additional effort she must expend, just to appear “normal”. I have a big, ongoing struggle with this, because she did hurt me so badly, and my natural reaction is to disengage. But, how can I regret her?

The stroke has left me disabled. I wish, of course, that things had been different. Only an idiot would volunteer to be disabled.

But because of the stroke, I got to see how our health service works. It leaves so much to be desired, it routinely fails the people to whom it bears an absolute responsibility. I will continue to preach about what is wrong, and how it can be improved, to anybody who will listen.

Same thing goes for the Benefits system. I’d never have seen that, if it weren’t for the stroke. How it traps people into undignified poverty, through no fault of their own. Something else I am happy to campaign on.

Okay, the stroke was shitty, but I am only 53. I have sufficient life in me to at least talk about these injustices. I’d have been ignorant of all of that, were it not for the stroke. Most of the time, people only find out how bad things are when it is too late to do anything about them, so with my relative youthfulness, I’m privileged.

I’m less able, but it feels like there is more to do than ever.

Again through the stroke, I got myself into voluntary work. The many stroke survivors I visited at the hospital, say. Most of the time I am sure it meant nothing, but once or twice, maybe I helped? Not to mention the dozen people who have a marginally better time each week because I have befriended them. That’s what they say, anyhow.

And I appreciate the value of that friendship. I posted the other day about the people I’ve loved. Man, I am so lucky to have known them – and, in most cases, to still know them, present tense. Those people, and the few whose identity I protected.

So, my answer is easy.

No regrets.

FPQ (5 May 2021) – the Serious Side

Fandango’s Provocative Question this week was a bunch of questions, and I already responded with a spoofy response here. But there was one question in the pack which, I think, deserved a serious answer, and having read several answers over the last few days, nobody gave it.

4. Apples or oranges?

The serious answer to this is, I’m afraid, nothing to do with personal taste. If people answer according to personal taste, that just highlights why the world is in the state it is in.

The real answer to this question surrounds water consumption. And in most of our climates, an orange consumes much more water, as it grows, than an apple. Apples grow in climates where there is generally water around anyway, they make use of natural irrigation. Oranges, generally, require artificial irrigation. And therefore all the infrastructure required to make irrigation possible. Not to mention all that fresh water that must be pumped in from someplace else.

Take these things into account and the answer is a no-brainer. In the UK and Ireland anyhow.

I’m sure there are exceptions. I’m sure, if someone gets their apples flown in from another continent, that makes a difference to their footprint.

M&S, here, used to get their Red Delicious apples flown from the USA to the UK. They might still do this, for all I know – check the origin when you are next in. In my book, anybody who flies a basic, domestic foodstuff so far, does not give a stuff about the environment, just about getting their hands on your cash. *Not* to buy something is the easiest decision we can make.

This is the general case.

So please, if you have never considered water when you have made your choice, you should be. It is a choice you are already making, whether you are aware of it or not.

Fandango’s Provocative Question (5 May 2021)

Today’s Provocative Question, Fandango asks a plethore. But it looks fun so let’s try to whizz through these.:

1. Best sandwich?

The BT.

2. What’s one thing you own that you really should throw out?

The rotten L, lettuce, from my refrigerator

3. What is the scariest animal?

Wait, I jnow this one. An elephant, up a tree. waiting for autumn?

4. Apples or oranges?


5. Have you ever asked someone for their autograph?

My wife, when the bar bill arrives.

6. What do you think happens when we die?

A funeral, duh.

7. Favorite action movie?

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers? Plenty of action in that!

8. Favorite smell?


9. Least favorite smell?

Rotten salad.

10. Exercise: worth it?

A good row is always worth it.

11. Flat or sparkling?


12. Most used app on your phone?

The Phone app.

13. You get one song to listen to for the rest of your life: what is it?

Goldfish Bowl, by Stereophonics

14. What number am I thinking of?

69, dude!

15. Describe the rest of your life in 5 words?

That’s just not long enough.

Fandango’s Provocative Question (7 April 2021)

Today’s Provocative Question, Fandango asks:

“How do you know which of your memories are genuine and which have been altered over time or even made up?”

Easy. Memory is subjective, so we don’t know. One person’s memory of a given event will be different to another’s. I guess the memory and reality might diverge over time, too. How many times have we said “I could have sworn I left them there”, when bemoaning our lost keys, wallet or purse?

Here’s another anecdote to consider.

The very first thing my daughter did after she was born, was to pee on me after I held her for the first time. Apart from the medical staff, I am probably the only person to remember this, because Mrs Bump was high as a kite on meds at the time.

Being pissed upon is hilariously entertaining (apparently) so I regaled the story many times over the years, The interesting thing is that my daughter now tells the story as if it were her own memory. The first thing I did was to pee on dad”, kind of thing. Conveniently forgetting that she would have been a minute old at the time.

I don’t know whether this is her making things up consciously because she thinks it is a cool thing to remember (and not realising that it is totally incredible), or whether it has burrowed into her subconscious over time, so much so that she believes it to be her memory. Really, with my daughter, either scenario is possible.

So it would seem that memories are not only subjective, they are transferrable, too.

Fandango’s Provocative Question – Part 2 (24 March 2021)

Today’s Provocative Question, Fandango asked a question related to gun control, whether we thought politicians would finally act. His full question, plus my initial response, are here.

But I should have added something more.

What I should have said, even if we managed to adopt something, we just solved one half of the problem. We just took new guns off the streets.

Now, what do we do about all those already out there?

Takers, anyone?

Fandango’s Provocative Question (24 March 2021)

Today’s Provocative Question, Fandango asks:

Do you think that there is any chance that the U.S. Congress will ever take decisive, bipartisan action to pass and enact nationwide common sense gun laws to try and stem the tide of mass shootings, or is the best that the American Congress will ever do is to send thoughts and prayers to the families of loved ones killed in mass shooting incidents?

You have three types of politicians:

  1. Politicians who want to do something
  2. Politicians who don’t want to do something
  3. Politicians who might want to do something, if only they had a fair wind behind them.

That first group are in the bag. Forget ’em.

The second group… well, you just gotta hope that few enough people vote for these guys that their voice is small. Otherwise, the US is fucked. The rest of the world will watch it implode and think “thank god that’s not us”. Which is, basically, what we do at the moment.

The third category is the most imteresting. Maybe, just maybe, it holds the balance of power?

By “a fair wind”, what I mean is a situation where they could vote with their conscience without any fear of backlash. Especially, from sponsors.

My conclusion here is that the USA should somehow adopt publicly-funded campaigns, to sideline donors. As in, as long as they have enough public support, politicians don’t need to worry about their funding next time around. Enough? I don’t really know how this would work – a party that attracted maybe 20% of the vote last time around is eligible to be funded this time around? Straight away that’s not perfect because you just barred any new parties. But, you know, there are plenty more intelligent people than me, who could be thinking about this.

And something with teeth to back that up. Penalty, disqualification?

I’m under no illusion how difficult this will be, especially since we’re talking constitutional changes here, so the bar is that much higher. But, where there’s a will… Otherwise, see (2).

Fandango’s Provocative Question (Paddy’s ’21)

Today’s Provocative Question, Fandango asks:

Have you gotten vaccinated for COVID-19 yet? If not, are you planning to? If you have, or are planning to, how do you think your life will change afterwards? If you’re not planning to get vaccinated, why not?

I got my first shot of the Astra Zeneca vaccine on 22nd January. I’m still waiting for the second shot. AZ state that the second shot should be within 11 weeks, which takes us to 16 April.

On getting the vaccine, the con was that these are all basically untested chemicals that we are injecting into our bodies. You might argue otherwise, but they are not really tested enough for me to feel happy. I’m not worried about surveillance chips or other shit (definitely not worried about sterility!) but I am worried that the vaccine either won’t work, or will have side-effects.

The pros are severalfold.

First, it has the potential to protect me, it has the potential to protect others.

Second, it allows me to resume a life out of doors again, versus being perpetually semi-locked down.

Third, and this is a biggie, it allows me to hopefully play a part in eradicating it from society. Okay, not eradicating, exactly, but to suppress it to the same levels as measles, mumps, rubella, tb. polio, smallpox, blah, blah, blah. These illnesses have been suppressed to the extent that people can get away without taking vaccines now. But they have been suppressed exactly because other people have taken the vaccine. My word for that is freeloading. but we can use another word if you wish.

Fourth, there might well come a time when we adopt a vaccine passport, like Israel. Those who are vaccinated, can, those who aren’t, can’t. I don’t think that’s sustainable in the long term, because sooner or later we will reach a point where everybody who wants a vaccine has had it, and you then have the uncomfortable decision whether you exclude everybody else, pretty much perpetually.

Specifically on the AZ vaccine, a lot of European countries have gotten jumpy about it at the moment, blaming it for blood clots. One, I don’t see that from the data so far, and two, I’m kinda already sucked into that programme anyway.

I have worries that the UK government will not deliver the second shot within 11 weeks. But they have the math on their side. It makes more sense to administer Shot #1 to everybody, before administering Shot #2 to anybody.

One interesting point about the vaccinations for UK readers. My wife is part of the programme. To check who is vaccinated or not, they have created a national database. Now, do you remember all the shit that was flying around Tony Blair when, not so very long ago, he wanted to create a national database for his ID Card scheme that never flew? Well, these guys just went and did it. I guess it is “just” an extension to theNational Health database thatalready exists, but isn’t it interesting how quickly you can do all this stuff when you’ve declared martial law?

FPQ #2 (from 3 March 2021)

I woke up with a start early this morning. As I write, it is 5 AM so I suppose I got most of my night’s sleep. I would be up anyway in an hour or ninety minutes.

But something was bugging me. Do you remember Fandango’s Provocative Question yesterday? There’s the link again, in case you missed it. My response is here but I’ll summarise:

It was on the subject of people being able to pick and choose their own gender. I got to the point where I was mostly happy with my answer, but with a few caveats, which I also mentioned. The big one was this:

You have somebody who identifies as a different gender. They commit a crime. Do you send them to a men’s prison or a women’s prison?

and I admitted that I didn’t know. That bugged me, That’s why I’m up, writing, in the middle of the night.

Well, now I do have an answer. Actually, Paula set me off, although this is not her answer. She started off by saying “wouldn’t it be good if we could separate the genitalia we have from the whole gender thing, which I thought was a very good point. Then she brought sport into the argument. I must admit, I didn’t really consider sport specifically, but maybe I should have done?

Because actually, rather than being a waste of time, maybe sport has the answer here?

Do you remember back to 2009? South African athlete Caster Semenya failed a gender test? As in, this person is, to all outward appearences, a woman. She wins a women’s race. They test her. She fails, gets disqualified. Do you remember that? Don’t worry, I had a vague recollection, but I had to look everything else up.

But it struck me – there is a way of separating gender from genitalia! I don’t know what the sporty test is – oestrogen, testosterone, or something more complicated, but there is a value, and if you happen to be below that value, you are classed as one gender. Above that value, another. (I found the terms man and woman unhelpful, here, it’s all far too blurry.)

So, there you go. There is a test. You end up with a sliding scale.

Of course, people can move up and down the scale over time – that is what gender reassignment is all about. But that’s it. Where you are on the scale governs what prison you go to.

You’re not going to be able to apply this to a restroom, where you’d need a snap decision. But, that’s kinda less critical anyway – it doesn’t matter so much is someone pisses into the wrong toilet. You could apply it to somewhere like a prison, though.

There are bound to be winners and losers – unless you have a system where everyone chooses for themselves, there will be losers. And, from what I read of Semenya’s case, this test leaves something to be desired. But we have come on ten years since then.

Just a thought…

On other things, it was a pretty rubbish day yesterday. I discovered a bug in my app which had me stumped – I need to keep looking today. And I created some more “Life Through The Lens” posts on here, and managed to wipe the reusable block I use. There was no way of getting the old block back, I had to go to a site backup from months ago, fish it all out from an old post. I recreated it all, but could have done without that. I took the opportunity to shorten the blurb drastically. But currently, if you asked me to describe the Block Editor, you’d just get a torrent of four-letter words.

Now, do I stay up or try going back to bed for a bit?