December 5th, 2008

breaking bad

What, with these feet

Report in the Guardian today that some official surveys will include questions on sexual identity.

When statisticians start next month investigating the sexual orientation of the British population in official surveys, they are leaving some room for interpretation: people will be asked if they are heterosexual/straight, gay/lesbian, bisexual, or other. The Office for National Statistics said yesterday that it needs the information to fulfil a legal duty to promote equality... A spokesman said the "other" category was included after test surveys revealed that at least five people in every 1,000 did not think any of the main categories accurately described their sexual identity.

I don't know what I'd answer. Probably heterosexual, because although I've had sex with a few women, it was a long time ago, and at my age it would just be ridiculous to answer as if I were some sort of adventuress. There ought to be options for 'grateful to get any at all' or in the words of Ronnie Barker: 'What, with these feet?' (ETA - 1 minute into that youtube - brilliantly delivered line)
breaking bad

For whom the bell tolls

Have you seen the research that happiness or sadness is spread through a social network of friends?

Are your friends happy? What about their friends? These people, new research suggests, will have a profound impact on your own personal satisfaction... happiness - and misery too - spread through social networks, affecting people through three degrees of separation. For instance, a happy 'friend of a friend of a friend' increases the chances of personal happiness by about 6% (Compare that to research showing that a $5000 income bump ups the odds by just 2%.... that each happy contact increases a person's odds of happiness by an average of 9%, while an unhappy contact decreases those odds by 7%.

IOW 'No man is an island.. but part of a vast continent of being'.

Anyway, I think whinging and complaining are good social bonding activities, but perhaps we need to make it clear we aren't really desperately sad, just enjoyably aggrieved.
breaking bad


The article that I just quoted about happinness and sadness spreading through a network of friends doesn't mean I think that people shouldn't share sad feelings. i was just getting into bed a few moments ago, and I felt worried that it might have seemed that way so I have just got out of bed again to post this.

I think it's interesting how emotions pass around. We function within a social network, which is very sensitive and speedy in its transmission. I don't think that means we shouldn't share our sad feelings. In fact if we did limit ourselves in that way, it would wreck the social network itself, because it wouldn't really be about friendship any more. The research was very limited in its scope - it's interesting but I would hate anyone to think I meant anything more by mentioning it than 'well, fancy that'.

Perhaps I'm worrying about nothing, but it suddenly occurred to me I might have accidentally hurt someone's feelings, not for the first time.