Friday, 29 November 2013

Neighbours Behaving Badly

Neighbours, don't get me started on this one. I can talk for England about this subject but I'll keep it short. Ahem!
Bad neighbours are the bane of my life. They drive me nuts, they bring out things in me I didn't know existed. There were times when I contemplated doing prison time rather than live next door to them. Thankfully, the authorities got there before I did.
I've lived next door to a few bad apples in my day and mark my words, they almost put me in the pysch ward at the nut house. The constant thumping of the bass music which was played as if they were deaf. Banging late at night which made me want to kick their front door off it's hinges. 
I was forced to listen to in-depth relationship arguments every weekend after their boozy night out, always coupled with physical punch-ups, lengthy screams and the sound of smashing furniture. And it was me that had to get out of my warm bed to tell them to 'keep it down'. It was me that was verbally abused because I tried to reason with them and it was me that was left to call the police. My actions turned me into the bad guy. My good was being evil spoken of. Can anyone work that out?
Try living next door to Mr Psycho. I did for a time. Every window of the house coated in tin-foil. Construction site noises coming from his home during the day and visits from 'ladies of the night' through to the early morning, disturbing my much needed sleep in the process. Yes I complained politely... and he answers the door wearing a mask, rubber gloves and his house looks like a bomb has gone off inside. Every natural instinct told me to steer a mile clear of this one. He then goes on the 'defensive' accusing me of picking on him - flaming cheek. All I wanted was a little peace and quiet in my own home. But you can't argue with stupid. I saw Mr Psycho a year after I moved away. I smiled to say 'hello' and guess what? He wasn't happy. He followed me on his bike shouting harsh curse words, swearing for 20 minutes. He was on the attack mate. Once again I'm the bad guy.
Would I do it again? Hell yes. If you don't disturb me, then I won't disturb you.  I don't even have the time to deal with the neighbours who spew out babies and allow them to run rampant destroying the communal areas, increasing my service charges. Try having a reasonable conversation with their parents, just bring your shield because it always ends bad. And how about the ones who don't pick up after their dogs have deposited their stools outside your door? I pay good money for my shoes.
Love your neighbour? Boy, that's a big ask on the best of days!
So my question is:
Have you ever had neighbours behaving badly? Please share your story with us.
Are you comfortable reporting your neighbours to the authorities when they behave badly?
Has a neighbour ever complained about your behaviour? - C'mon, be honest now!

I'd love to hear your views, comments and opinions.

Friday, 15 November 2013

The Best Medicine

They say it's what separates us from the animals. We all do it but few of us can explain what it actually is. It's something commonplace, yet at the same time profoundly mysterious. 

I'm talking about laughter.

Some people even ask 'what use is it?' but science tells us that laughter actually does bring physical and psychological benefits to humans. It's supposed to make us happy, feel good and bond relationships. And making someone laugh can help get them through difficult situations.  

So what makes you laugh? I've been severely scolded because of my weird sense of humour. I admit it. If you fall down the stairs, bump into a shop door, get stuck in the train doors - I'm the one who's laughing uncontrollably in the corner until I can regain my composure to help, and I don't even know why. I just find things like that funny - when it's happening to someone else! My practical jokes are worse, and they've back-fired a few times, so I'm very careful what I do now.

People say I have a contagious laugh. Once I start, bit by bit everyone around me will join in and they don't even have a clue why I'm laughing! Some people have a nervous laugh. If you catch them out in conversation or something doesn't seem quite what it is, they laugh it off in an unconvincing way. 

I've even seen people laugh and cry at the same time when faced with terrible adversity. Perhaps it's a coping strategy. 

So look at how complex and mysterious laughter is. It can be hysterical, evil, laughing insultingly in someone's face or a joyous expression of laughing together.

So the next time you're laughing, ask yourself, why am I laughing, what kind of laughter is it, and what is laughter anyway?

So, my question is:
What makes you laugh?
Have you ever played a joke on someone and it back-fired?
Where do your draw the line between what's funny and what is 'sick' humour?

I'd love to hear your comments, views and opinions.

Friday, 1 November 2013

Can Discrimination Ever Be Positive?

Ever heard of 'Positive Discrimination' or 'Affirmative Action'? Well, I've just found out that it's no myth! 

The term was coined by President JFK in America. The basic idea was that certain groups in society - in this case African Americans - had suffered such massive historical disadvantages and discrimination based on race, that they did not realistically have the same opportunity to succeed as everyone else. So therefore active steps needed to be taken to ensure that such minority groups were represented and hired in organizations, government and businesses. It's led to the adoption of hiring quotas (in some countries) in which a certain number must come from previously under-represented groups.

It covers a lot of areas from employment decisions, admission to educational institutions and even public health to name but a few. 
The claim is that 'reverse discrimination' - at least for a period of time - is the only way to restore complete equality in the long term. But is this the case?

On the surface it sounds simple, but in reality it actually means that if there is a lack of black people, for example, in a workplace, then in the event of 2 equally qualified people going for the same job, one black and one white, the employer opts to give the post to the black person from the underrepresented group in order to correct the balance.

No wonder many countries refuse it, as it seems tantamount to unequal treatment to many. They simply choose to treat all people the same.

How can people be preferred purely on ethnicity or origin? Doesn't this actually devalue the person's real accomplishments? I mean, isn't it a bit patronising? This policy could actually end up damaging the people it seeks to help because others will assume 'she only got the job because she was black or a woman etc, not because she was the strongest candidate'.

It also keeps people constantly aware of the barriers that divide us, creating more resentment between different groups, increasing rather than reducing racial tension. 

Perhaps you only agree with it when it is focused on one particular area and not another. For example - you may agree that more women should be seen in top positions, but not necessarily more disabled or ethnic minorities?

So I ask:

  • Is Positive Discrimination a good or bad thing?
  • Should employers in a multicultural society be forced to have a balance of different ethnicity or equal numbers of men and women in the workplace? 
  • Have you ever been chosen over someone else based on your race, culture, ethnicity or sex?

I'd love you to share your comments, views and opinions.
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