A Fear Of Offending

A lack of any real stimulus or activity during the daylight hours prompted me to think about this website, and as to how I can develop it further. I hit upon the idea of creating a virtual advent calendar, but couldn't decide what should feature behind the 24 doors. My initial plan was a celebrity nativity, with a host of B-list stars dressed (wardrobe by PaintShopPro) as the 'characters' in the story of Christmas.

A colleague helped me put together a possible cast - Elvis as a king, Einstein as a wise man, John Cleese as the innkeeper, etc. It was all coming together nicely when I began to think through the implications - whilst I doubted such an obviously tame joke could offend anybody I know of, I'm always doubly careful as to what I publish for the world to see. The fatwa on Rushdie is only just drawing to a close, and the recent murder of an abortion doctor in the US shows that there are still a great many right-wingers in the world whose sensibilities it is not worth offending in public.

But despite this confusing lack of libertarianism in some walks of American life, I still want to go do the tourist thing. I think perhaps the fact that techies and geeks appear to be rated in higher esteem over there is a contributing factor:

From: Hannah

Sent: Friday, 23rd October 1998, 16:38

On the way back to SF, we stopped a couple of times and visited some friends of mine. They have now bought a house and have a wonderful hot tub/spa in their back garden - I'm jealous!! Tim suggested that I should go work back in Silicon Valley and I could afford one in a couple of years! I might get tired of the good weather by then though!

And then tonight, sitting here reading Martin Amis' incredible novel The Information, I stumble across:

"...if America can do that to frowning bookworms from middle England, what was America doing to Americans - who, on the whole, hadn't spent three years at twelth-century universities with Paradise Lost on their laps, and who had no Home Counties to come from or go home to. They never had a lifetime elsewhere to protect them from it, from America and the fever of possible change."

In the UK, and Yorkshire in particular, I sometimes feel that change is slow, and gradual. And yet the middle-aged and elderly complain that "the world changes too quickly for me these days, I simply can't keep up any more". Perhaps the degree to which we observe, or experience change is a function of age - growing exponentially from our earliest days when we are barely able to perceive it, through to old age, when each day brings new challenges, and our thoughts are filled with how things used to be.

For now, my life is in an irksome rut, and a greater level of challenge is required. My work on Y2K is petering out, yet there are still nigglesome loose ends to be tied up before I can move on, and find out where I shall be working next, and on what....