Recent news

Because England and Wales is roughly London anyway

By |September 7th, 2014|Recent news|0 Comments

Apple’s latest iPhone models were the smartphones most likely to be stolen in England and Wales between August 2012 and January 2014, figures suggest.

A Mobile Phone Theft Ratio compiled by the Home Office indicates the iPhone 5, 5C, 5S and 4S were most targeted, followed by the Blackberry 9790.

The findings were based on analysis of crime data in London.

Am I the only person that sees a potential flaw in this extrapolation? Maybe the writer of the BBC News article has done a terrible job of describing the data analysis.

Letter to my local MP

Here is a letter that I will be sending to my local MP today.

Dear Mr Campbell,

I am writing to you with regard to the issue of the recognition of asexuality as a sexual orientation within the protective laws of the United Kingdom. Since I identify myself as being asexual, I am concerned that current plans that aim to promote and protect the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people do not appear to extend naturally to asexual people.

Although you may well be aware of what asexuality is — that being the lack of sexual attraction to others — you may not be aware of the issues that affect asexuals and why such promotion and protection is needed.

Even the terms “asexual” and “asexuality” are not readily understood by the public at large. There have been news articles in the media, notably from the BBC News website, that have presented the idea of asexuality. However, beyond these examples, it is difficult to name any celebrities or characters that portray asexuality as role models.

As an aside, Sherlock Holmes has been touted as a possible asexual character. In Conan Doyle’s books and the recent television series there has been no pretext to Holmes’s sexuality. However, there have been plenty of assertions that Holmes may have been sexually attracted to Dr. Watson as a consequence of his sexuality not being known. This serves as an example as to how alien the notion of someone lacking sexual attraction is to the general public.

A past study has suggested that 1% of the population are asexual, and various commentators have suggested that it could be significantly more. The issues of awareness and promotion are stark: not only do asexuals face constant questions about what it means to be asexual, but the lack of information causes a prolonged and painful search for one’s identity. Some asexuals experience depression since they struggle to understand the differences they experience from the majority. Although I realise that I have been asexual all my life, I was not able to understand this until the publication of the aforementioned BBC News articles when I was 27.

With regard to protection, there are many areas of law that are not prepared for the protection of asexual people. One such example is the issue of divorce on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour. It is my understanding that the lack of a sexual relationship is sufficient grounds to file a petition for divorce. Therefore, regardless of any understanding reached prior to marriage, a married asexual is susceptible to the threat of a petition from their partner.

It is also clear that, currently, the Equality Act 2010 does not protect asexuals. The Act states in Part 2, Chapter 1, Section 12 the definition of a sexual orientation to be:

“a person’s sexual orientation towards—
a. persons of the same sex,
b. persons of the opposite sex, or
c. persons of either sex.”

This suggests that the Equality Act 2010 does not apply to asexuals at all.

The lack of consideration for asexuality in the definition of sexual orientation extends to other areas of law, such as asylum. It has been reported that asexuals are subject to “corrective rape”, psychological assessments and corrective psychotherapies.

As my local member of parliament, I would be grateful if you could act as my representative to parliament and pass on my concerns. I hope you can understand my concerns and, to that end, I would be happy to address any queries you may have with regard to asexuality and the problems asexuals face.

Yours sincerely,
Stephen Broughton.

Life is better with cake

A common in-joke between asexuals is cake: that cake is better than sex and, when we greet each other, we bring cake. So I certainly embrace Mr. Kipling’s new advert. They certainly know what’s what!

Cosmo piece on asexuality

Cosmopolitan magazine has an article on asexuality, featuring interviews with two asexual women.

It was frustrating, like the whole world was in on some joke I wasn’t. I often felt like I was foolish, immature, or even broken because I never hit any of these “milestones” I was told to expect. No crushes, no dates, and no interest. Full stop. My mom actually asked if I was gay a few times, but gender and sex didn’t matter. I’d just shrug.

After learning about asexuality, I felt better knowing I wasn’t alone, but that only goes so far. Face-to-face, once I got through explaining what asexuality was — because no one ever knew — I’d get any variety of confused, pitying, or skeptical looks. I was asked if I was sick,was I raped, was I gay, was I picky, was I lying to get out of a date? I even had a near stranger ask me if I’d had a brain scan and hormone test. You could like boys, girls, or any other gender, but to like no one made no sense.

LOL: Punctuation?

By |August 26th, 2014|Recent news|2 Comments

When instant messaging, I often find myself terminating things I say with “lol”. Rarely do I actually laugh out loud when I use “lol”, but it does convey that I find something amusing or that I’m smiling as I say it.

In that respect, “lol” says so much more than the exclamation mark (“!”). Exclamation marks may represent fear, anger, excitement, elation, a raised voice, or surprise. It’s actually pretty useless: in fact, it’s worse than that. There’s a danger of miscommunication when something you intend as amusing is seen to be threatening.

So perhaps we should start to use “lol” as punctuation, though it’s really quite ugly. So it got me thinking… what could be used instead? I remembered that Catalan uses a mid dot (actually called, quite cutely, an “interpunct” and is known as punt volat in Catalan) in the middle of a double ‘l’. Its use somewhat redundant, though it’s a fairly useful means of quickly distinguishing between Catalan and Castilian languages. It represents the splitting of syllables in words where double ‘l’ exist; double ‘l’ is otherwise spoken somewhat differently. That’s a bit of background, anyway.

So, perhaps we might use l·l at the end of a sentence to represent our amusement? It would perhaps help people realise when I’m actually making a joke l·l

A new chapter

By |August 17th, 2014|Recent news|0 Comments

Today, Newcastle United’s season began with a defeat at home against Manchester City. But there was so much to be thankful for.

In particular, I was able to be there. We take for granted that it’s only a football match: very few football supporters die going to see a game. But it has happened before. There were 96 Liverpool supporters, 56 supporters attending a match in Bradford, and there are a small number of cases where fans have died on their way to a match. Likewise, over the summer, two Newcastle United supporters were killed while travelling to New Zealand to watch their team play in a pre-season tour. Plenty has been said about this incident: BBC News has its own portal for its news coverage on the crash.

The reaction to the news that two Newcastle United fans were killed was incredible. Not least because supporters of our greatest football rivals, Sunderland AFC, raised in excess of £33,000 for floral tributes and donations to charity. It was a generous and thoughtful gesture. It moved me to tears in fact.

As ever, we look forward to the derby game, but I hope the atmosphere will be different. Of course, I am sure some Sunderland supporters will be upset with the transfer of Jack Colback, and there is plenty of history that the television companies will be only too keen to remind us. But the events of the summer highlighted the bridge between us.

I’ve never had the intense hatred for Sunderland that others purport to have: in fact, I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for them, and now I have even greater reason to be thankful. Those Sunderland fans are a credit to their football team and they have my personal thanks.

Early experiences of being asexual

I thought I’d share some of my recent experiences of being an “out” asexual. This covers a period of between one and two years.

I won’t say that the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive; rather, it hasn’t been negative. But that was very much in line with expectations. I didn’t want a mardi gras in my honour or to be commended by the town mayor; it’s just not that major. However, it did feel like a major thing at the time. It was the culmination of a process of realising that how I felt was broadly in line with the definitions of this thing called “asexuality”.

The biggest problem with telling people is that it’s not mainstream. In general, it’s not that well understood among the wider population. As a thing, it’s quite young, but what’s worse is that it’s hard to understand. For many asexuals, understanding sexuality is difficult; in a society where sexuality is not only the norm but, to some extent, a form of currency*, understanding what it is like to have that element removed must be almost impossible.

Since that time, I’ve been trying to meet other asexual people (albeit online) through specialist asexual social and “dating” websites. I’ve met some really lovely people through those sites — both in the UK and much, much further afield — and, who knows, perhaps one day I will meet some of them face-to-face. That prospect excites me. I still haven’t knowingly met another asexual in the flesh.

It leads to the question of dating and romantic relationships. I’ve given it a lot of thought, but there do not seem to be many answers, so perhaps I’m wasting my time. However, never say never.

* When I say sexuality is a form of currency, I don’t actually mean prostitution. Heard of the phrase “sex sells”? Then you must know what I mean. So many adverts — and products themselves — are presented on the premise that it is in some way associated with sex.

Diversification of the site

Hi everyone. It’s been a while. Sorry!

That’s not to say nothing has happened; on the contrary, much has occurred not least including a revamp of this website. I’m afraid I’ve ditched the idea of translating posts. I do enjoy translating posts and writing in other languages (reading my posts back in another language normally makes them feel more profound, somehow!). However, it was time-consuming and, though enjoyable, caused sufficient consternation to prevent me from posting more often.

So, you might have noticed that the my website is monochrome infused with purple. An odd colour choice? Well, it represents the asexuality symbol. Since I identify with the definitions of asexuality, I want to write more about it, as it’s still not really “mainstream” yet. That is, there are some people that (understandably) find it difficult to understand asexuality and some (not understandably) are hostile towards the idea. I don’t want to be a spokesperson or poster boy (ha!) for asexuality, but I hope by sharing what I find and experience there can be some sharing of understanding. That’s the plan, anyway.

I have also been working on Cramlington Today. It’s a bit of a pet project, where the pet is a rather large labrador. No, really, it’s a huge labrador. It’s a sweet, friendly and cuddly puppy that offers a lot to its owner but can sometimes be a little too big to handle. As a project, it’s the product of my wish to promote the town I live in, which is really an up-and-coming town that offers (and will offer) a lot to the region. Cramlington Today will eventually be a community project (I hope) and will be a tourism site, community site, and local business site rolled into one.

As I write this, I’m in Amsterdam. I’m having a short break and enjoying the delights of Benelux (minus Luxembourg). To give an itinerary of what I’ve visited so far (that’s Monday through to Friday): Den Haag (The Hague), Mauritshuis, the International Court of Justice, Bruges, the Artis Royal Zoo, Rembrandthuis, the Hermitage Museum, the Holland International boat tour, the Amsterdam ArenA and the Rijksmuseum. Tomorrow we’re headed for Brussels. I’m exhausted and my back muscles are raging a violent war against my spine.

On Monday I’ll be jetting back to the UK. I’ll be needing a holiday after that!

Can you learn Danish by osmosis?

By |September 21st, 2013|Recent news|0 Comments

An interesting article on learning language by immersing oneself in a country that speaks the language.