Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Beat Bullying

When I was at school I experienced some bullying. The first significant time was in Junior 3 (Year 5 in new money, age 9-10) when a girl in the year above pushed me and a friend around fairly regularly, and called us names. It never crossed our minds to tell anyone or do anything about it, but one day our class teacher announced to the class that this girl had been found to be bullying various people, and had she done this to any of us. My friend and I put our hands up and were made to stand up in class and say what she had done, how often, for how long. This was pretty embarrassing and fairly humiliating (which is, of course, a feature of bullying itself), but thankfully we never had any more trouble from her again.

At secondary school I was regularly bullied, particularly by two girls. I never really acknowledged that it was bullying, and tried to ignore it, to not dignify it with a response. Contrary to popular belief, this doesn't seem to stop it happening.

The bullying left me feeling vulnerable, humiliated, scared (of getting on the bus, of going to certain parts of the school, of encountering them at all, of others joining in) and also full of a self-hatred which left me even less able to protect or stand up for myself.

It wasn't horrifically violent, or severe in the ways you hear of some children experiencing it, but it was really, really horrible and unpleasant and didn't help my teenage development - already a complicated process - one bit.

Children can be really, really cruel and there are many other incidents coming into my mind as I write that I realise now could also be classed as bullying. Like my whole class completely ignoring myself and a friend, being very obstructive and mean to us, constantly criticising us. I'm not sure if this was bullying, or more just a very cruel response to an argument we had had. I don't want to downplay bullying by describing any and every cruel behaviour as that, but equally it is something which manifests in many behaviours and it is important to acknowledge that.

Children have to go to school every day of the week, most weeks of the year, and for way way way too many children, school is a place characterised by ridicule, violence, shame, self-hatred, isolation and misery, all due to bullying. To be put in that situation every day, is unbearable and leads to depression, low self-esteem, self-harming behaviours, truancy and suicide.

It is entirely and totally unacceptable that so many children are terrorised in this way, and I was so so glad to hear about The Million a Week Campaign, run by and for young people, and who state,
A million young people a week are affected by bullying. The message from the young people of beatbullying is:
enough is enough!
They have a petition for people to read and sign here. I reckon you should go do it.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Scam Spam, Wind and Words.

Ach! It's not often an email can cause my heart to stop, but I just got one that did. It looked like an average paypal receipt, but when I read it, I was informed that I had made a payment of $278.99 to

Luckily, I knew enough about phishing to know not to click on any links in the email, or to reply to it. Instead, I went to the secure paypal site by typing in the address, and checked my account which reassured me that no such payment had been paid. A quick google search informs me that a few others have been hit with this same scam too.

If you ever get dodgy emails like this (often from paypal or ebay), don't click on the links in the message or reply to it if you are at all suspicious. Instead, go to the site involved either from your bookmarks or type in the address, and if there are indeed problems with your account (or whatever the email is telling you) you will find out there. Another way to check is to forward such emails to or and they will reply and let you know whether it is a genuine message or not.

Ethical Adventures (newly discovered cool blog) led me to Embrace the Wind Revolution site, where you can sign up in support of wind energy, and have your name on a wind turbine :)

When catching up with Lectrice I came across an utterly fantastic entry, detailing the years in which words entered the British vocabulary. For a linguist-y type like me it's totally fascinating. What did people sing before tiddly-om-pom-pom came about in 1909? Who was wearing a Wonderbra in 1947? What was racism called before 1935?

Incidentally my namesake, Hippy, came into use in 1953.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Disability, Democrats, Dosh, Devastation and Daftness.

Gosh it's been a week since I updated. Sorry.

So, according to the Disability Discrimination Act, employers are obliged to make reasonable adjustments to enable disabled people to work. The things that often spring to mind are ramps and hand rails, hearing aid loop systems and such. But what would a reasonable adjustment for a fairly mad person be?

Pyjama Girl discusses this here on BBC Ouch, and I have often wondered myself what adjustments I might need, to be able to work. This has been more preoccupying than usual lately, what with the terrifying disability benefit cuts which have been speculated about lately. All I can conclude is that the adjustments I would certainly need to even contemplate work at the moment would never, ever, ever be ccnsidered reasonable by an employer.

The stuff about cutting incapacity benefits is frightening a lot of people. Some disability benefit claimants are unable to work because they are blocked at every stage by prejudiced and discriminatory employers. This group of people absolutely deserves help and support to find and maintain work. Other claimants are unable to work because they are chronically ill, in pain, and so on, and pressurising these people to work, threatening benefit cuts, will only succeed in making people more distressed and ill.

A TUC report has been released which counters some of the myths and misconceptions which have been flying around lately.
The benefit has fallen in value to less than a fifth of average earnings, the numbers of claimants has been falling consistently for the past decade and it is estimated that less than one in a hundred claims are fraudulent.

Apparently, a single person on incapacity benefit receives 15.2% of the national average wage. Are they really going to cut it further?

A separate report announced that Disabled people on benefits are £800 a month short of an acceptable quality of life. The report's author concluded that,
Even maximum benefit levels fall well short of meeting the true costs of disability; and it is equally clear that many disabled people in paid work cannot achieve the income required to meet their needs either
An action plan, on getting sick and disabled people back to work, contains some intimidating and unmanagable prospects which I know during several periods of time in the last few years I would have been incapable of.
Failure to agree an action plan and discuss necessary alterations to it at subsequent interviews leads to repeated reductions in benefits until the claimant is left with just 10p a week to live on.

As for those who have been part of trying out the New Deal for Disabled People,
For the majority, it seems, a period of insecure, low wage work and then back to benefits was as close as they got to the prime minister's courageous new world of social mobility.

Do I even need to go on to talk about the social model of health? About how poverty causes and worsens diseases and disabilities? How many people I have seen relapse after someone somewhere decides they're capable of work and their money and support stops?

There is an allegation that Democrats in Tennessee have printed a poster with the text, “Voting for Bush Is Like Running In The Special Olympics: Even If You Win, You’re Still Retarded.” The Democrats say it is a Republican dirty trick. Whichever, if either, of those it is, it's horrible. Stop it.

This made me laugh.

This made me cry.

I leave you with George, God here.

Friday, October 15, 2004

Extreme Weather

Read this first...

With all the news on TV lately about the extreme weather conditions
affecting the East Coast of the US, the mud slides in the Middle East
and South America, along with the dire predictions made by such films
as The Day After Tomorrow etc, we shouldn't forget that England has
its share of devastating weather too. I've attached a photo
illustrating the damage caused to a friend's home from a storm that
passed through Southern England last night. It really makes you
cherish what you have, and reminds us not to take things for granted.

Click here for image.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

More Nigerian Women Sentenced to Death by Stoning.

Two more Nigerian women are going to be stoned to death for adultery under Northern provinces' Sharia law. An international outcry led to the proposed stoning of Amina Lawal being overturned, so we must all speak out now to prevent these two women dying in such a horrific way.

You can send letters from here to the powers-that-be in Nigeria, to demand that these women's lives are saved.

Two Nigerian women have been tragically sentenced to death by stoning for having sex out of wedlock. Both sentences were imposed in the northern Islamic state of Bauchi, Nigeria.

Hajara Ibrahim, a twenty-nine year old woman was sentenced on October 5 for confessing having sex with a thirty-five year old man and becoming pregnant. The court decided that the woman will be given to a guardian until she delivers the baby after which her sentence of stoning to death will be carried out. The man whom Ibrahim confessed to having sex with was acquitted because the court found “no evidence to link him with the allegation.” On September 15, another Nigerian woman, Daso Adamu, was given the same sentence of stoning to death for having sex with a thirty-five year old man.

Sharia law has been introduced in twelve states in northern Nigeria. Last year, Amina Lawal was sentenced to death by stoning for having sex out of wedlock. Following an outcry from women around the world her case was then overturned in September 2003.

Please urge Nigeria’s President Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigerian Ambassador to the United States Ambassador George A. Obiozor, United States Ambassador to Nigeria Ambassador Joseph Campbell, and the Acting United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour to urge immediate action to prevent these atrocities from occurring. Click here to take action!

Women's voices prevented Amina Lawal's death in 2003, and women's voices can make a difference today. Help end archaic laws and brutal sentences - make your voice heard today.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Monkeys, Maidenhood and Mailshots

You know when you check your post in the morning, and you find a couple of AOL CDs that you will never use? Then you go out to the shops and are faced with multiple freebie CDs glued onto the front of the magazine you want to buy. And that's not even mentioning the one that's slipped into your shopping bag by the cashier.

You feel you should do something with them rather than just put them straight out with the rubbish, but the suggestions about coasters, and creating hanging mobiles just don't, well, don't work for you.

Well, there is an answer :) Their aim is to collect 1 million of these nightmare free CDs and return them all to AOL, sending them a message about waste and junk mail.

It might sound a bit like one of those great ideas that never goes anywhere, but they have already collected 328,147. That includes 11,197 from the UK, in case any Brits were wary of what the postage rates would be to send these to the States. As it is, they only want the CDs - no packaging at all - so I can't imagine it would cost much to post even quite a few of them.

So, get sending your unwanted AOL / Netscape / Compuserve / BT Yahoo! CDs off to:
No More AOL CDs!
1601 Navellier St.
El Cerrito CA, 94530
U.S.A. is a scary website. In fact I'd even go so far as to say that I'm actually quite scared of Sarah Jane Newbury herself.

Allegedly Britain's Most Famous Virgin, this site includes details of ex-boyfriends, several tributes to the late Queen Mother, scans of letters from various of her doctors confirming she is virgo intacta, a strange, strange collection of letters from the public, and some of the most visually painful backgrounds I have ever come across.

And that is a fairly conservative description of the site. You really need to see it to believe it. If you dare. And are wearing sunglasses. And can deal with letters saying things like the following:
God bless the Queen mother who like yourself is the same height as me and one of our mutual ancestors through Scottish royalty and the Lyons. In fact when we toured Scotland we felt something very strong and are so delighted you have helped us find our roots. I always felt she was an older version of myself and never knew why.


You know the saying,
"If you have enough monkeys
banging randomly on typewriters,
they will eventually type the works
of William Shakespeare"

Well, that theory is being tested on the Monkey Shakespeare Simulator site where the best result so far is a monkey having typed the first 20 characters of Coriolanus. Which is pretty damn impressive when you think about it.

If you go to the site when you come online, you can just leave the simulator running in the background (whether you are online or not) and they will all be typing randomly, leaving you in the hope that your computer screen will be host to the first monkey to get the next record of 21 letters.

It can get a bit obsessional, incidentally ;)

Sunday, October 10, 2004

I am the very model of a modern sesquepedalian.

That means someone who likes using long words :)

Thanks to Daydreaming on Paper I am writing about my favourite words. Thanks to sheer exhaustion I may just list them.





Felicitous (can't remember what that means).


Epiphanous (apparently I was in an epiphanous mood state. Not often you learn a cool word from a doc).


That will do for now. Bye.

Saturday, October 09, 2004

War of the Roses

It seems that the (in)famous Yorkshire dialect is flummoxing some otherwise entirely competent, intelligent, and fluent GPs new here from Austria.

For some reason these docs didn't understand when being told of mardy snecks and such, though apparently most of them gathered what was meant when patients complained of feeling jiggered. In any case, a dictionary was created for them and all seems well now. Except maybe til people start complaining about their hard-earned taxes being spent on Yorkshire Dialect Dictionaries.

But I think it's a great idea. As someone who committed the cardinal sin of moving from Lancashire to Yorkshire, the differences are far more pronounced than I would have expected. Nowadays I've been here in South Yorkshire for long enough to be accustomed to people teasing me for being nesh, to men calling each other love without a blink of an eye, with hearing myself use the word reyt to mean very. I have a wash when I feel loppy, if you need to know what time a shop closes, you are told it's open while 5 rather than until. That in particular leads to commonly told tales of someone going into a shop at 8.55am and being scolded and told, "You can't come in while we're open!". And don't even get me going on breadcakes. (It is, of course, a barmcake).

But, in true Yorkshire-adoptee style, I have to also tell you that for the last few days I haven't been online or doing much because I've been badly. Hope to be back properly soon.

Friday, October 01, 2004

Hippie's Hunt for Happiness

The world is fairly disastrous at the moment, I feel. It scares me.

I am trying desperately to find some positive things to write about. Community events, creative resistance, something... Not to pretend the shit isn't happening - that's impossible. But as, I guess, a way to try to re-balance the things we are exposed to, things we hear about, things we see. I need there to be more going on in this world than what I hear on the news.

Sheffield's annual Off The Shelf festival of reading and writing is happening this month.

Now in its 13 th year, Sheffield 's annual literary fortnight is a well-established festival which is one of the highlights of Sheffield 's cultural calendar and one of the largest festivals in the North of England.

Radio 4 comedy really has its pretty impressive moments. A new series of the rather splendid The News Quiz started today. I slept through it this evening but will be listening again once it is up on the site.

I thought googling happy might be the next step in my quest for despair-erasing enlightenment. I was sadly wrong.

But it's got to be promising that there are about 39,900,000 results, yeah? I'll keep looking.

Ok, result number 470 informs me that there is such thing as a Happy Number in mathematics. Note the cunning use of the full word to avoid any potential UK + AUS (maths) and US (math) semantic conflict.

I don't understand a word of the first paragraph, so will slip in an easier extract, as follows:
The first few happy numbers are 1, 7, 10, 13, 19, 23, 28, 31, 32, 44, 49, 68, 70, 79, 82, 86, 91, 94, 97, 100
There, see. Happy numbers. Follow the link there if you actually understand maths stuff and want to know more.

You know when you look at a certain word a lot, and it starts to look odd. That is now happening with HAPPY.

Willkommen Im Happychat is actually the absolutely last google result for happy.

Not sure any of this is actually making me any happier. Keeping me occupied, mebbe, but not making me happy.

The article entitled Reassurance sounded promising, even if it was from Dermatology Times. The image search shows some odd perspectives on reassurance, though they were significantly less garish and harsh on my tired eyes than the results for happy.

Maybe, just maybe, the answer is more in contentment, or friendship, or love, or sunny days. Not the thing, but rather a combination and build-up of many small things.