Friday, September 30, 2005


Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes
by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed in an accident'

"OH NO!" the President exclaims. "That's terrible!"

His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as
the president sits, head in hands. Finally, the President looks up and

'How many is a brazillion??'

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Heavies against the Hecklers.

So, yesterday I heard on the news that two hecklers had been removed from the Labour Party Conference during Jack Straw's speech. I raised my eyes to heaven and thought it sounded a bit heavy-handed. Whatever happened to democracy and debate, I wondered.

It made me think of an incident a year or so ago, when Tony Blair was heckled when he was talking about the Iraq war, and Blair had made some glib comment to the heckler about how he was lucky to live in a free society where such things were allowed - just as the heckler was in fact being bundled out of the hall surrounded by stewards... Poignant and telling moment, I thought.

Then later on yesterday I heard more. I heard that one of the hecklers was actually 82 years old. Blimey, I thought. More heavy-handed than I had even realised! He must have said some pretty bad things to have been man-handled out of the room.

Then even later on last night, I heard the actual facts.

Jack Straw had been speaking when he was interrupted by Walter Wolfgang, a Jewish escapee from the Nazis who is now 82 and has been a Labour Party member for 48 years.

Jack Straw had just said, "We are in Iraq for one reason only: to help the elected Iraqi government build a secure, democratic and stable nation".

So, what was this interruption which caused such aggressive behaviour from 'security' staff? Which led to this 82 year old man being threatened with terrorism charges?

He shouted, Nonsense. Nonsense! That's it! One word.

When he got 'removed' from the conference as a result, his neighbour said, "You must be joking!", for which he was duly evicted too!

I mean, if it wasn't so obscene it would be funny. (Edited to add, see the photo here).

This government has become less and less democratic, and erode our freedoms more and more and more. ID cards, the appalling terrorism bills. When something happens like someone being held captive in Iraq, they won't enter into any talks because they say that we "shouldn't negotiate with terrorists", but when it suits them they will do anything and everything and use the threat of terrorism to justify their actions.

They will react to terror when it suits them. They will happily ignore it or sneer at the idea when that suits them better.

That day in February two years ago, when 2 million people marched against the war in London and the government and Blair carried on as if nothing had happened, was the day I realised that any pretence of democracy in this bloody country is a myth and a legend.

In other news:
GPs to stop prescribing antidepressants blamed for suicidal feelings in under-18s.

The Future's Not Bright If You're Orange.

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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Photo Friday: Burn

Mmm, attractive! For this week's Photo Friday challenge.Posted by Picasa

PS, I have finally sorted out the right sidebar issues in Firefox. An errant end tag in my code was causing all the strangeness.

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Saturday, September 24, 2005


Originally uploaded by incurable_hippie.
are my favourite flowers. I have some :)

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Friday, September 23, 2005

Selected Highlights from my Daily (e)Mail.

Selected highlights from Schnews:


For being in a Barbershop Quartet!

Police arrested four people at last week's DSEi Arms Fair protest
who performed an anti-war song in the style of a Barbershop
Quartet with hands covered in blood. They were originally arrested
them under an obscure 1824 'enclosure' law, then for burglary.
After a few hours in the cell they were let go with a fixed
penalty notice of £80 for causing "harassment alarm or distress".
Not a good result for public harmony.


Crap Racism of the Week

For spending too long on the bog!

On the anniversary of 9-11 two Muslim men were forced off a plane
by fellow passengers. The flight due to leave from Cyprus was
cancelled after some passengers became worried that one of the men
had spent a long time on the toilet. They were removed from the
plane and questioned by police who concluded there was no problem
with the men who had been on a pilgrimage to see a Muslim
spiritual figure in northern Cyprus. The flight took off the next
day without the two men, who had to fly with a different airline.


Positive SchNEWS

When a Muslim woman became the target of a hate-mail campaign by
Flemish fascists for wearing a headscarf to work, no-one saw how
it would backfire.

Her co-workers began to all wear scarves themselves, and the
factory's owner has been on international media channels
denouncing the cowardly Nazis. She even got a visit from the
Belgian King! The incident has proved embarrassing for the
country's strong right-wing anti-immigrant party, who had
previously supported such intolerant views.


This may seem somewhat morbid, a list of asylum seekers who have committed suicide in the UK in the last 5 years, but it feels really important for me to post it.

Firstly, these people need to be heard, be honoured. It is too late for us to do what we really should have done when they were alive, but that makes it even more important to hear and honour their lives now.

Secondly, so many of these people killed themselves shortly after having their claim refused, or before they were due to be deported. This seems to be stronger evidence than ever that their claims were genuine. When push came to shove, many of these people decided that they would rather die than be returned to their country. This is a damning indictment of our asylum system, and of the inhumane detention and removal centres that we are keeping people in.

See No Borders, and see The Refugee Council.


33 asylum seekers have taken their own lives, 7 in Immigration Removal Centres, 6 in prisons and 20 in the community, in the UK over the last five years.

List compiled by Harmit Athwal of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR)

If recipients of this mailing know of any other deaths of asylum seekers from self-harm, not listed below, please send details to IRR or NCADC.

* Manuel Bravo, a national of Angola living in Leeds was 'snatched' by immigration officials with his son Antonio on the morning of Wednesday 14th September. In the early hours of Thursday the 15th September Manuel was found hanging in a stairwell at Yarl's Wood Removal Centre. Manuel and Antonio had been living in Armley, Leeds for the last three years after leaving war-torn Angola.

* Edmore Ngwenya, 26, from Zimbabwe, drowned at Salford Quays on Wednesday 14 September.

* Babak Ahadi, (33), 6/7/05, Iranian asylum seeker who set himself alight at his NASS accommodation in Bristol. He died the following day in Frenchay hospital.

* Ramazan Kumluca, (19), 27/6/05, a Kurdish asylum seeker from Turkey who was found hanged in Campsfield House removal centre in Oxford. He had been detained for five months and was said to be depressed after a bail application was rejected for the third time.

* Kenny Peter, 7/11/04, a Nigerian asylum seeker who died in Charing Cross hospital, nearly three weeks after sustaining injuries during an apparent self-harm attempt at Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre. It is believed that on 19 October, Kenny jumped from a landing and sustained serious injuries, from which he later died.

* John Kanau Manana, (24), 15/10/04, a Kenyan who was found hanged from a ligature in his cell at Leicester prison on 15 October at 3.55. Paramedics were called and attempted resuscitation and he was taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead at 4.50.

* Majid Rafieei, 14/10/04, a destitute Iraqi asylum seeker who was found hanged at his Sheffield home after his asylum claim was refused.

* Ceife Yimene, (24), 26/9/04, an Ethiopian asylum seeker who left a hospital where he had been seeking help and hanged himself. Ceife was living in emergency accommodation in Newcastle while his asylum claim was being processed. He became very depressed in the weeks leading up to his death. On the day of his death his friends were so concerned about his health that they took him to the Accident and Emergency department of Newcastle General Infirmary. After seven hours he was reportedly in a 'catatonic' state and when he was eventually seen by a Doctor he was told, 'If you won't speak then we can't help'. Ceife left the hospital and hanged himself from a tree. (IRR News story: Did undue pressure on an asylum seeker lead to his suicide?)

* Ako Mahmood Ahmed, (25), 8/04, a Kurdish asylum seeker who died after jumping from a bridge at a Coventry shopping centre. He arrived in the UK in May 2004 and was 'dispersed' to Coventry in June. His asylum claim was rejected and he lodged an appeal. However, because of new legal aid limits, Ako was unable to find a solicitor to act for him despite help from Coventry Refugee Centre. As a result, he was faced with destitution on the streets of Britain and the prospect of deportation to Iraq. (IRR News story: Desperate asylum seeker takes own life)

* Tran Quang Tung, (23), 23/7/04, a Vietnamese man who was found hanged in Dungavel removal centre in Scotland just days after being transferred from Harmondsworth removal centre after the disturbance.

* Sergey Barnuyck, (31), 19/7/04, a Ukrainian who was found hanged in Harmondsworth detention centre. His death sparked a night of disturbances at the centre and led to all of the detainees being transferred to prisons and other detention centres.

* Hussein Nasseri, (26), 25/6/04, an Iranian asylum seeker who was found with a gunshot wound two weeks after his asylum claim was refused. Hussein, who was homosexual, fled Iran in March 2000 after being imprisoned for three months for his sexuality. He feared being executed if he was returned to Iran - where homosexuality is a 'crime' punishable by death. In June 2004, he received a letter telling him that his asylum claim had been refused. The inquest recorded a verdict of suicide. (IRR News story: Inquest finds asylum refusal was motive for gay Iranian's suicide)

* Zekria Ghulam Mohammed, (27), 18/05/04, an Afghan asylum seeker who was found hanged at his flat in the Dennistoun area of Glasgow. Zekria had been living in Scotland for four years and prior to his death his asylum claim had been refused and benefits stopped. He was also facing eviction from accommodation provided by NASS. Zekria, who trained as a dentist in Afghanistan, 'was ashamed and broken. He felt there was no hope left', according to his friends.

* Unnamed man, 2004, an Iraqi asylum seeker who set himself alight in London. He had a history of mental health problems and was scared he would be returned to Iraq.

* Liang He, (23), 10/11/03, who was found hanged at Bedford prison.

* Mohammed bin Duhri, (20), 20/10/03, a Palestinian asylum seeker who was found hanged at Belmarsh maximum-security prison. He had been held at Dover Immigration Removal Centre but, after he allegedly assaulted a guard, he was moved to Belmarsh. Three prison officers were suspended for filing reports saying, after the death, that he was still alive.

* Tema Kombe, (32), 4/9/03, a Ugandan asylum seeker who was found hanged in a toilet in the psychiatric ward at Heatherwood hospital, Ascot, after being detained under the Mental Health Act. The inquest returned a verdict of misadventure after hearing that he had made three previous attempts on his life.

* Israfil Shiri, (30), 3/9/03, a destitute Iranian asylum seeker who died six days after pouring petrol over his body and setting himself alight in the offices of Refugee Action in Manchester. His asylum application had been rejected and he was homeless and penniless. Israfil, who was gay, feared being executed in Iran if he was deported. He also suffered from a painful bowel complaint but, after his asylum claim was refused, he was unable to get medical treatment and was in constant pain. An open verdict was recorded by the inquest. (IRR News story: Open verdict on death of asylum seeker who slept in a wheelie bin)

* Vasiliy Todchuk, (24), 9/03, a Russian national who had deserted from the Russian army in Chechnya, was found hanged on a building site in Govan, Glasgow. He had been detained in Polmont YOI on criminal charges in early 2003 and attempted suicide on the day before his release. Several weeks before his death he had been advised that he would be deported.

* Liu Jin Wu, (35), 5/5/03, a Chinese asylum seeker who took his own life while on remand at HMP Barlinnie in Scotland. It emerged during a fatal accident inquiry (FAI) that he was a Mandarin speaker who only had access to an interpreter three times during his ten weeks in the prison. He was on remand for two counts of attempted murder and during police interviews had told them that he was hearing voices; a provisional diagnosis of paranoid psychosis was made. He had been told he faced deportation regardless of what happened during the criminal proceedings as his asylum claim had been refused. The Inquiry was also told staff failed to check on him hourly as was required when he was found to be suicidal. But the FAI concluded that his suicide was due to mental health problems rather than any failure by the prison authorities.

* Mikhail Bognarchuk, (42), 31/1/03, a Ukrainian asylum seeker who was found hanged at Haslar removal centre.

* Sirous Khajeh, (29), 24/12/02, an Iranian asylum seeker who was found hanged at his home in Huddersfield. He was a torture victim who had been told that his asylum claim had been rejected and he faced eviction from his home and deportation. However, this information was incorrect and Sirous had in fact been granted asylum. A Yorkshire coroner recorded a verdict of suicide and was critical of the Home Office's handling of his application.

* Beverley Fowler, (32), 2/10/02, a Jamaican woman who was found hanged two days before the end of her sentence in Durham prison. She was a mother of three who was due to be deported back to Jamaica after serving a sentence for drug smuggling. In September 2003, an inquest recorded an open verdict. The inquest was told she feared for her safety in Kingston because the man who forced her into drug smuggling had murdered her partner.

* Forsina Makoni, (79), 11/5/02, an elderly Zimbabwean woman who died after setting herself alight in Gillingham after her claim for political asylum was refused. She had been a vocal opponent of Robert Mugabe's regime and became depressed in the weeks before her death after her claim was refused.

* Shiraz Pir, (25), 7/5/02, a Pakistani asylum seeker who died five days after being found hanging in his Bristol home after his asylum claim was rejected. Facing deportation, he could not understand why friends had been given refugee status and he had been denied. He left a note asking that his body be returned to his parents. An inquest recorded a verdict of suicide whilst the balance of his mind was temporarily disturbed. The coroner criticized the Home Office for the delay with his asylum application.

* Mohsen Amri, (27), 12/3/02, an Iranian asylum seeker who committed suicide at his home in Handsworth, Birmingham, after having a work permit refused and asylum application rejected. He had been in the UK for two years and made repeated requests for work permits (he did not want to work illegally). His asylum application had been refused on a technicality.

* Nariman Tahamasbi, (27), 25/2/02, an Iranian asylum seeker who was found hanged in Lewes prison. He had been refused asylum in the UK and fearful of being deported back to Iran, he attempted to flee to Canada using the same forged travel documents that had brought him to the UK. He was arrested at Gatwick airport, charged over false documents and sentenced to six months imprisonment. Less than a week after arriving in the prison he hanged himself from the bars of his cell with a bedsheet and died in hospital five days later without regaining consciousness. A jury returned a verdict of death by misadventure following a three-day inquest into the death in may 2005. (IRR News story: Asylum death deemed misadventure)

* Souleyman Diallo, (28), 1/1/02, a Guinean asylum seeker who committed suicide by jumping 100 feet off Redheugh Bridge, Tyneside, a few weeks after being told he was to be deported to Guinea. Souleyman, who spoke little English, was dispersed to Gateshead soon after he arrived in July 2000 and was not provided with any translation services. He felt that the interpreter at his appeal hearing had misinterpreted him. His solicitor commented that his 'inability to access competent legal advice, difficulties in communicating his case and tight deadlines for submission statements have contributed to his case being properly heard'. She made a complaint to the Immigration Commissioners about his death. The coroner recorded an open verdict.

* Nasser Ahmed, (35), 21/8/01, an Eritrean asylum seeker who was found hanged at his flat in Nelson, Lancashire shortly after his asylum claim was rejected.

* Shokrolah 'Ramin' Khaleghi, (27), 18/1/01, an Iranian asylum seeker, dispersed to Leicester, who was found dead in the International Hotel, a hostel for asylum seekers, after his asylum claim was rejected. He had been a political prisoner in Iran, jailed for six years and tortured for refusing to serve in the Iranian army and affronting fundamentalist beliefs by shaving his facial hair. He took an overdose one week after learning that his asylum claim had been rejected.

* Saeed Alaei, (26), 21/12/00, an Iranian asylum seeker, dispersed to Nelson, Lancashire, who was found hanged after his asylum claim was rejected.

* Glynnis Cowley, (40), 4/00, a South African mother of three who committed suicide in Liverpool after her asylum claim was refused. She had been arrested Heathrow in June 1999 after being found in possession of cannabis and sentenced eight months. She alleged that she had been kidnapped and forced to act as drugs courier. While in Holloway prison her asylum claim was refused and after her release she launched an appeal but took her life before it was heard.

* Robertas Grabys, 24/01/00, a Lithuanian asylum seeker who was found hanged in Harmondsworth detention centre on the day he was due to be deported. A report into his death criticised the private company that was in charge of Harmondsworth at the time.

Harmit Athwal

End of Bulletin:

Source for this Message:
Institute of Race Relations (IRR).


From FoE:

Many garden plants are now setting seed, and it's easy to collect and save them for planting next year. The ideal way to bring some colour to your garden or window box without spending any money! For a step-by-step guide, see BBC - propagating / collecting seeds.


Flatten the Flats plea. More offensive shit from certain members of the City Council about Park Hill flats (my photos here) who don't care that they are talking about people's homes and their own rich privilege.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Where has the week gone?

Bloody hell, is it really Thursday? And I last posted on Sunday?? Shit!

I hadn't read my b3ta newsletter for weeks, but I did open this week's. Each week there is a photoshop competition, last week's challenge being to design movie posters of your own lives. My favourite entry has to be Gone With the Bins - One man throws away this week's TV Guide. Hehe.

Mental healthcare is failing is a good read from the Grauniad this week, as is Charities face conflict of interest.

My long list of very cool animations has been extensively updated this week. There was already lots of fun there, and there is now even more new fun there! Or something.

I'm really flustered for no reason at all. Must go and, umm, get less flustered hopefully. Hmmm.

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Sunday, September 18, 2005

Pickled Flattery (will get you everywhere).

I am really liking the Pickled Politics blog. They introduced themselves only a few weeks ago with the following,
For too long has the voice of young, progressive British Asians been drowned out. This community, we say constantly, is too diverse to be stereotyped or thought of as one homogenous group.

We are becoming increasingly defined by our religion than our thoughts, political affiliations, ideas or for simply being British.

That suits the self-appointed religious leaders but they neither represent the younger, more progressive generations, nor the women, being typically male dominated organisations.

Pickled Politics is here to provide a new range of progressive voices that previously, we feel, were not being represented.

We want to change the way Asians are perceived and want to take our own community forward. In this aspect, we are unafraid to criticise the establishment – whether that be the political power-brokers or our own religious leaders.

I have found the blog to be funny, insightful and thought-provoking and it has quickly got onto my mental list of blogs to always click on.

My joy was complete when I saw in my referrer logs that someone had come to hippie blog from there so I went back to Pickled Politics to investigate. I grinned on discovering that hippie blog is listed in their links, with the comment, Great feminist and angry blog. (Doesn't take much to make me happy!).

In other news, the radio has for the last few days been rather pre-occupied with today's German election. As I type, a programme called Germany's Choice is on and the results will show whether Germany has their first female Chancellor.

Should that be the case (it's been a close fight) it is no real victory for feminism. A woman in the top job is good, but there have already been way too many comparisons to Margaret Thatcher for it to be anything other than frightening. And on top of that Angela Merkel, the woman concerned, leads the Christian Democrat Party, and any country run by a religion could be in a dodgy position.

Angela Merkel was in favour of the war in Iraq, and is keen on stronger German - US relations. Schroeder - the guy trying to retain his Chancellorship (?!) is not great himself. I'm not keen especially on either of them. A woman in charge could be a good thing, but it is no feminist ideal in this context, as it wasn't in 80s Britain.

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Poems and Pies.

"If this book should chance to roam, box its ears and send it home"
is something that my sister used to write in the front of her books. It came into my head last night and I didn't know if it was something that she had invented, or if it had come from elsewhere.

A bit of googling provides 9 references to the poem.

There seems to be an alternate ending -
tan its hide and send it home
. This seems to refer to an inscription in a used book.

In this digital book, the phrase is different again -
"Friends, if this book should chance to roam
Please write in it and send it home"

The verse as I knew it originally makes up part of some Harry Potter fanfic, as so:
Something inside the damaged cover flashed, catching his eye.

It was a beautifully illuminated bookplate bearing the school's coat of arms, one of a kind routinely stocked by Flourish and Blotts for Hogwarts students. It was clearly much newer than the book itself. Harry peered at it, surprised - and drew in a sharp breath.

Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus.
This book belongs to


"If this book should chance to roam

box its ears and send it home"

Harry's eyes burned with shock. After a moment or two of staring, he mechanically fitted the cover back into place and fumbled for his wand, tapping it and whispering hoarsely "Reparo". The cover mended itself seamlessly, but Harry could not stop staring.

He owned so few things that had belonged to his parents - an invisibility cloak and a handful of photographs. Now, out of the blue, there was this … but what in hell had he just discovered? What was a teenaged girl called Lily Evans, a bright and popular pupil, Head Girl in her day, doing with this - a book on the dark arts? An ugly book describing in detail all the worst possible elements of evil wizardry ….

Harry straightened up, thinking hard.

Jeremy Clarkson is one of my least favourite people. He is arrogant and offensive at every turn, on every issue. He is particularly disliked by environmentalists for his promotion of huuuge cars, and his utter lack of concern for any environmental damage he or others may cause. He hates cyclists too, and has made some dodgily xenophobic and disgustingly sexist comments.
Transport 2000 argues that Clarkson [...] has come under fire for promoting `yobbish` driving behaviour, through such actions as deliberately driving into trees, churning up mountain peat bogs in 4x4s and tearing up road safety information on camera. Campaigners argue that he personifies a couldn`t-care-less attitude to the environment, and that his programme, Top Gear, glamorises speed and fast cars.

So, with all this background I, along with many others, was dismayed that Oxford Brookes University offered him an Honorary Degree.

I very much love the woman who presented him with a banana meringue pie in his face. She apparently said that it was homemade, organic, free range and fair trade on the basis that that would annoy him even more :D

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Word Beads: blue; unsynchronised; exhaust; accumulation; burial.

The unsynchronised flashes and booms suggested at least that the thunder storm was a distance away. The sky's rapid progression from blue to an angry grey and brown had at least served as a warning of its approach.

The exhaust pipe landed noisily on the metal pile. The growing accumulation of all removable parts of the old car looked more and more like obscure artwork. But its demolition continued unabated.

For them, the burial of the car was also the burial of all that went with the car. And free from those memories, they ran on through the rain.


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Friday, September 16, 2005

Great News! (2nd entry of the day!)

Sheffield wins European Gold
Sheffield has beaten off tough competition from cities in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Slovenia to win Gold in the prestigious Entente Florale (Europe in Bloom) Competition. The results were announced at the Oscar style awards ceremony in Hungary on Friday 9th September.

Sheffield was also awarded the Special Award for the most meaningful contribution to the quality of life for disabled people in the city. This was especially awarded for the work of the Green fingers group in Crown Hill.

Entente Florale
Sheffield has been successful in securing gold in Entente Florale! The result was announced in a glittering Oscars-style ceremony which was held in Budapest, Hungary on Friday night (September 9th).

In the Towns and Cities category, Sheffield beat off competition from Baden in Austria, Mako in Hungary, Le Plesis-Robinson in France and Potsdam in Germany amongst others.

Sheffield was also presented with the Special Award for the most meaningful contribution to the quality of life for disabled people in the city - an award given especially for the work of the Green Fingers Group in Crown Hill.

The Entente Florale competition judges European cities and towns against strict criteria in relation to their floral displays, environmental management and management of parks and green spaces. The competition also takes into account initiatives that directly impact on environmental sustainability, regeneration, education and training, and neighbourhood renewal.

Councillor Harry Harpham, Cabinet Member for Streetscene and Green Spaces, said: "We are absolutely delighted to have won Gold. I would like to thank all the residents, businesses, local communities and education facilities for all the hard work and support they have shown during the last few months.

"The judges were delighted with everything that they saw on the judging tour. They were also impressed with the manner in which we had embraced and built on our steel heritage. Prime examples of this were the statue of the Buffer Girl and Steel Man outside the Town Hall, and the Winter Garden."

John Charlton, Director of Street Force added: "I am grateful for the amazing support from local residents, businesses and voluntary communities as well as the City Council staff, who have contributed so much towards Sheffield winning a Gold award.

"It really has been a Team Sheffield effort and all residents can take pride in their city's success in this prestigious European competition."

Sheffield - Greenest City in Europe.
At long last my hometown’s verdant credentials have been officially recognised: Last Friday Sheffield won a gold medal in the Entente Florale competition in Budapest, so we can now officially describe it as “the greenest city in Europe”. This recognition is particularly welcome as it comes at a time when our parks and open spaces are finally showing signs of recovery after many years of cutbacks and neglect (thanks a bunch, Baroness Thatcher, you vindictive old skinflint). (Read more...)

My picture of the Steel Man last year.

Me talking about the Entente Florale entry in July this year.

Fantastic description of why Sheffield is cool, by ellarien.

Entente Florale Wiki.

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Women's Voices.

Travelling Punk and Ms Violet have had a great idea.

travelling punk says:
Women and men of the UK are forced to suffer every month with inferior reading material of the glossy variety. We want and deserve a good magazine with interesting features, ideas, inspiration, so let’s create one.

My half-hatched idea to set up a feminist magazine in the save vein as Bust and Ms. in the USA, but here in the UK, moved forward a stage when yesterday I actually told someone about it.

ms violet says:
You know what pisses me off?

The total lack of intelligent magazines for women available in the UK.

All of the monthlies/bi-monthlies/weeklies/crapplies look the same. Shit. Total and utter shit. And, god knows, if any one of these magazines were to even print the word 'feminist' - even in teeny tiny lettering - they would probably spontaneously combust into a massive fiery hell. Or that must be what the editors think, at least.
I'm getting fed up. I want to read a magazine. I want to be able to flick through a few glossy pages every now and then and read funny, interesting, insightful articles about issues that matter to me. And, quite frankly, if I have to walk past the magazine aisle one more time, grinding my teeth whilst biting my lip and trying hard to disguise the steam coming out of my ears, then I just may explode.

While I haven't seen much of them, I have heard less-than-positive things about the Bust / B*tch magazines, and so I'm not sure I'd be wanting to base on these, but the idea in itself is excellent. It also makes me think of Custard Spy who is an incredible, amazing and very articulate feminist :)

Quote of the Day:
"Even those of us who have tried to follow the war closely are not
aware of a fraction of the horrors unleashed in Iraq."
Arundhati Roy at the World Tribunal on Iraq, Istanbul, 2005.

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Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Economic Costs, Famous Lasts.

Through WorkBlogging I found myself reading this BBC article and it made me so, so angry.
Employers fight domestic violence

The scheme's founding members hope more firms will join up

Top employers including the NHS, BBC, and the Body Shop have set up a support scheme to fight domestic violence.

The Corporate Alliance Against Domestic Violence offers staff and companies advice and support.

Domestic violence is said to cost the UK economy £3bn a year through its impact on decreased productivity, absenteeism and effect on co-workers.

Is that really the reason to fight domestic violence? Because it costs the economy £3 billion, and there are absences and decreased productivity?

Wake up! Corporate Alliance indeed... the reason we need to fight domestic violence is because women are being victimised and beaten and murdered all over the country, all over the world. It is because 2 women a week are killed by a partner or ex-partner. It is because every 15 seconds there is a call to the police when a woman has been attacked by a partner in the UK. It is because women can not break free when they, or other women are being battered in their homes. Because nowhere is safe, then. It is because too many men are getting away with it, too few men are being held to account, and too many women are being battered and their confidence and life eroded by this torture.

It is not because of decreased fucking productivity.

On a different note (because I need something else in my head if I'll have a chance of sleeping), I present some particularly good famous last words:
Bogart, Humphrey (1899-1957)
"I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis."

Claudel, Paul (1868-1955)
"Doctor, do you think it could have been the sausage?"

Costello, Lou (1906-1959)
"That was the best ice-cream soda I ever tasted."

Gwenn, Edmund (1875-1959)
"It is. But not as hard as farce." in _Time_ 30 January 1984
(On his deathbed, in reply to the comment `It must be very hard.')

Keynes, John Maynard (1883-1946)
"I wish I'd drunk more champagne."

Malcolm X (1925-1965)
"Cool it, brothers..."
(His last words before being assassinated.)

Marx, Karl (1818-1883)
"Go on, get out. Last words are for fools who haven't said enough."

Morant, Lt. Henry H. (1864-1902)
"Shoot straight, you bastards! Don't make a mess of it!"
(To the firing squad that executed him.)

Oates, Lawrence (1880-1912)
"I am just going outside and may be some time."
(Before vanishing into the blizzard on the ill fated Antarctic expedition.)

Palmerston, Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount (1784-1865)
"Die, my dear Doctor? That's the last thing I shall do!"

Philby, St John ( -1960)
"God, I'm bored."

Rodgers, James W. ( -1960) [American criminal]
"Why yes, a bullet-proof vest!"
(Last request before the firing squad.)

Roosevelt, Franklin Delano (1882-1945)
"I have a terrific headache."

Saki (Hector Hugh Munro) (1870-1916)
"Put that bloody cigarette out."
(Just before being shot by a sniper, 14 November 1916)

Sedgwick, John (1813-1864)
"Nonsense, they couldn't hit an elephant at this distance."
(after a suggestion that he should not show himself above
the parapet during the Battle of the Wilderness.)

Shaw, George Bernard (1856-1950)
"I want to sleep..."

Smith, Adam (1723-1790)
"I believe we should adjourn this meeting to another place."

Stein, Gertrude (1874-1946)
Just before she died she asked,
"What is the answer?"
No answer came. She laughed and said,
"In that case what is the question?"

Thomas, Dylan (1914-1953)
"I have just had eighteen whiskeys in a row. I do believe that is a record."

Villa, Francisco `Pancho' (1878-1923)
"Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something."

Voltaire (1694-1778)
"This is no time to make new enemies."
(Asked on his deathbed to forswear Satan)

Wells, Herbert George (1866-1946)
"Go away... I'm all right."

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Blah-di-blah. Raar raar Raar.

I posted a very cool screenshot the other day, of Sky News (apparently inadvertently?) declaring that Bush is one of the worst disasters to hit the U.S..

Even better is that I now find out that snopes has declared it to be TRUE!

Choose Respect is an interesting article from The Guardian about mental health services, mental health problems, stigma and community attitudes and approaches. It is worth a read, here.

From FoE:
Less than a third of waste oil produced by the DIY motorist is recycled and the rest ends up polluting rivers, causing harm to fish, ducks and swans and removing vital oxygen from the water. The volume of waste oil from one oil change alone is enough to form a film over a 4 acre lake! So instead of pouring yours down the drain, find your nearest oil recycling bank at

Last week online I was very disturbed to read that the NUS (National Union of Students) National President, amongst others, are involved in a government campaign which will explain and justify how University education is funded - i.e. loans instead of grants, and tuition fees. This is an absolutely dreadful betrayal of all the students she and others are supposed to represent.

When I was at Uni I was in the last days of student grants, although I didn't get one. A lot of my involvement with NUS at the time was campaigning and lobbying against the abolition of grants and the introduction of larger and larger loans to make up the difference.

I was reminded of all of this when I was sent to a Study on Student Finances and Health. I don't think anybody would be surprised to hear that
A study investigating the link between student finances and health has found British students have more debt, more financial worries and poorer health than their Finnish counterparts (despite the countries having similar health standards overall according to WHO figures). In Britain, student tuition fees have been introduced and maintenance grants abolished. In Finland, by contrast, there are no tuition fees, and students receive grants and housing benefit.[...]read more...

It is so obvious. So very, very obvious. Education is a right not a privilege, poverty causes ill-health, tuition fees make education accessible for the rich and even less accessible for the poor than it already was. Raar Raar raar.

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Sunday, September 11, 2005

Free for Sheffielders, Free for All.

To anyone in Sheffield - if you want a free compost bin, you can get one! Details here.

How to make compost.

Community Composting Network.

My Marvellous Compost Bin animation.

More Money-Saving Frugality:

Frugal Living (UK)
Forums - incredible discussions from Money Saving Expert.
Greasy Palm (cashback when you buy stuff online).
Say No to 0870 - get the geographical numbers for all those calls to businesses that are otherwise not included on most free call plans.
Pound Savers - Friends of the Earth ideas for saving money and the planet!
Project Gutenberg - more free ebooks than you could ever believe.
UK Vouchers for money off stuff.
National Downshifting Week.

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Saturday, September 10, 2005

Saturday Evening in my Pyjamas.

I had heard the name Ann Coulter, usually in negative terms, but I did not know who she was, nor what quite was supposed to be wrong with her. Until, that is, I came across The American Taliban site.

It is a list of quotations from various influential Amerikans, from George Bush senior ("I don't know that atheists should be considered citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.") to James Watt the Secretary of State of the Interior with responsibility for the environment ("We don't have to protect the environment, the Second Coming is at hand."), through Kay O'Connor, a female Kansas State Republican ("I'm an old-fashioned woman. Men should take care of women, and if men were taking care of women today, we wouldn't have to vote.") and William G. Boykin, an army general (“George Bush was not elected by a majority of the voters in the United States, he was appointed by God.”).

But right at the top of the page is the aforementioned Ann Coulter. She has the appearance of a typically beautiful blonde American woman, but her words are so full of hate and spite and evil it is frightening. So much so that I don't want to repeat them here, though you can see them there.

All of this makes me very keen to do the Ann Coulter g0og1e8omb, so here we go with that...
Ann Coulter Ann Coulter Ann Coulter Ann Coulter Ann Coulter Ann Coulter Ann Coulter Ann Coulter Ann Coulter Ann Coulter Ann Coulter Ann Coulter Ann Coulter Ann Coulter

Huge thanks to Uniquely Alike, without whom I may not have seen this fantastic screenshot. I love it!

Posted by Picasa

Last week there was a protest in Sheffield against deporting asylum seekers to Iraq, as it is obviously a totally unsafe place for anyone to be. As it is, I'm pretty much against deporting anyone anywhere, but in places like Iraq it seems so bloody obvious that noone at all should be being sent there.

I couldn't go to the protest but was very glad to find these fabulous photos of the demo.

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Friday, September 09, 2005

Inappropriate, Unacceptable, Unmentionable.

WHSmith sells stationery (amongst other things). It has wide ranges of 'back to school' stock at the moment, and throughout the year markets and sells pencil cases, pads, bags, pens etc. to schoolgirls particularly.

It often involves cutie animals and such, but they also have a whole Playboy section, marketed to these school-age girls, probably age 10-16.

The Guardian published a good article by Rachel Bell on the subject which is well worth a read, and there was a deluge of emails in response which are interesting.

WHSmith, it seems, are saying that the Playboy bunny logo is very different from porn - no connections at all. It is a cute bunny - awww - and little girls like cute bunnies. It appears to deny any connection at all between this logo, this company, and the sexualisation of girls and women and the objectification and abuse of girls and women in pornography. Pornography that, if nothing else, is presumably being funded by the purchases of these 'cute bunny' pencil cases.

There is a petition to ask WHSmith to stop selling porn-branded stationery to kids.

On similar lines, back in March I asked you to guess where I was shopping when I took this photo. The answer, discussed here, was that those mags were being sold in Marks & Spencer. Outrageous and disturbing!

Now, according to Object, it seems that M&S are phasing out lads mags altogether, as 'inappropriate' (quite right!) but are still going to be selling The Sun and the Star. Big sigh and even bigger grrrrrrrr.

Ex-Gay Watch is an interesting blog about homophobia, and most specifically, about those types of organisations which are keen to retrain gay people to become heterosexual. They keep an eye on the news about these things and it is important that somebody does, as they are scary.

A few days ago, An Open Letter to my Sixth-Grade Gym Teacher was published on there, and it was a saddening, but not at all surprising read. It wasn't the way I'd have approached such a letter, but that means nothing as it wasn't me who wrote it.

I commented, as did many others, and I just nipped back there to see how the discussion was going. Now, please bear in mind that I know this is all a sensitive issue, I feel strongly for the author of the letter, and I appreciate the supportive and helpful comments.

But how can I not laugh at the LA Times article posted by one commenter, which states,
She was disciplined for hugging and kissing her girlfriend. She was a straight A student, but the disciplinary action against her included transferring to another school and her grades dipped.

She was a straight A student, was she? Her or her girlfriend? Just how straight can a lesbian, or a lesbian's girlfriend be?

I rewrite,
She was disciplined for hugging and kissing her girlfriend. She had consistently high grades but the disciplinary...

Or even why not just go for she was a lesbian A student. Humph! Hehe.

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Photo Friday - Massive

Originally uploaded by incurable_hippie.
Massive.. Park Hill flats, Sheffield.

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Thursday, September 08, 2005


Originally uploaded by incurable_hippie.
The best ever wholefood co-operative today outshone even itself, in my humble opinion, with purple cauliflower.

Purple cauliflower!

Even makes the purple broccoli look quite mundane...

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Monday, September 05, 2005

100 Things You Might Not Have Known About Me (Meme alert...)

It could be the time of year, but 100 Things About Me memes are starting to appear.

1. I've just got broadband.
2. I think Lynne Truss is great
3. and I would also support her idea for a militant wing of the Apostrophe Protection Society.
4. Zinnia's blog often makes me cry.
5. I boycott Nestle and have done for 11 years.
6. My favourite fruit is raspberry.
7. or maybe fresh lychees.
8. I smoke rollies.
9. I sent my Christmas cards late
10. but for years until this year I didn't send any at all.

11. I'm scared of the dentist.
12. and spiders.
13. I have never eaten sushi. It scares me.
14. I started using the internet in 1995
15. when I came to University.
16. I listen to an awful lot of BBC Radio 4
17. and particularly love much of the Radio 4 comedy selection.
18. I started writing this 101 Things on the 12th December 2004 and have only just remembered (13th June 2005) that I never finished or published it.
19. I never know the difference between archaeologists and architects
20. and so I tend to call them archi-diggers and archi-buildings.

21. I also get mixed up between emasculate, emancipate and emaciate.
22. I was bullied at school
23. but hardly told anyone because I was embarrassed at being bullied by girls.
24. Today I have won a rare victory over an errant bank charge.
25. This has made me rather happy as I don't think it has ever happened before.
26. I wanted to be a professional flautist
27. until a heart murmur meant I had to stop playing the flute.
28. I am really struggling to think of things to say here.
29. I got 11 As and a B in my GCSEs.
30. I actually got an A* for German, which I did a year after my main ones

31. but I rarely tell people that because it looks like I didn't get A*s in my others
32. when in fact A*s didn't exist when I took my others.
33. I did my French GCSE age 14 and got the highest mark in the school's history
34. but I was never appropriately proud of myself for that.
35. I then went on to do a BA degree in French
36. but only because I couldn't do music because of no. 27.
37. My Confirmation Name is Maria.
38. Lack of Radio 4 is something that makes me question moving back to France. I would miss it too much.
39. But in virtually every other way, I really really want to move back to France.
40. I have just signed the Moses Must Stay petition.

41. And I think you should too.
42. I love eating tinned tomatoes on toast
43. and beans on toast
44. But otherwise I hate toast.
45. I do like marmite.
46. I was vegetarian for 11 years and vegan for 10 months
47. until I got seduced by a sign for hot chicken and stuffing sandwiches
48. and I have been a (virtually) unapologetic carnivore since then.
49. The first single I ever bought was Tiffany - I think we're alone now.
50. When I wrote number 13. it was true, but now I have eaten sushi and it wasn't as scary as I had thought.

51. I start lots of things but am crap at sticking to them.
52. and I hate that in myself. It makes me start to be scared of starting anything.
53. I hate lots of things in myself, but I like some too.
54. I want to start doing real-life volunteering again
55. though I'm not sure what I would want to do.
56. One of my hamsters was the star of a magazine a few weeks ago. He doesn't know this.
57. I am 28 years old.
58. Whenever I smell cut grass it makes me think of exam time.
59. I love the smell of sawdust.
60. I cannot bear bananas - eating, smelling or thinking about them.

61. I firmly believe that summer is the best time of the year for fruit, and eat as many raspberries as I can for the short period they're around and tasty for, without costing £way too much.
62. At the time, I felt guilty that I couldn't (single-handedly) stop the war in Iraq from starting.
63. I even considered going to Baghdad to be a human shield
64. and I still feel slightly guilty that I didn't.
65. I sometimes spend more time messing about with the template of this blog than I do posting in it.
66. It is almost 10 months since I started writing this list!
67. My dad has cancer, which terrifies me.
68. I am scared of my mobile phone.
69. I started reading the latest Harry Potter book this afternoon. It came out a month and a half ago.
70. I love, adore and worship Beethoven. Well, his music at least. He was a bit of a bastard.

71. Last time I went to the cinema I saw Planet of the Apes. It was dreadfully dull.
72. But it was on September 11th 2001. That meant I didn't complain too much about my wasted £3.
73. I only actually went as a favour for someone else, who had organised the trip and was upset that noone was going.
74. I came out as a lesbian when I was 19. Best thing I ever did.
75. Being sick terrifies me.
76. I drink an awful lot of Pepsi Max.
77. I kind of believe in karma, though I know I don't understand the true Buddhist meaning of it entirely. I just think it happens.
78. My three favourite films of all time are Amadeus, The Sound of Music and Shine.
79. I like coding html because it makes sense and has an order that not much else in life does.
80. I had a Quorn Minted Lamb Burger for lunch and it was really, really tasty.

81. I regret not buying the spinach that was drastically reduced in price yesterday.
82. The broccoli was good though.
83. I really like fresh vegetables. Except turnips, and of course sprouts (the Brussels variety.. beansprouts are lovely).
84. I used to make amazing soups.
85. My steamer is my kitchen gadget of choice at the moment.
86. I laugh a lot at the radio when I'm taking things too literally and they're using odd metaphors.
87. I used to prefer Just a Minute but now I prefer I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.
88. I am a huge stand-up fan.
89. I don't know if I have repeated things in this endless list
90. and I'm slightly past caring.

91. I talk nonsense in my sleep
92. and apparently announced last night that I was falling out of a trolley in Safeway.
93. I consider myself to be a Recovering Catholic. It never quite goes away.
94. I have had periods of being very religious, and others of devout atheism.
95. I also spent a while at an Evangelical Church, but they were very scary.
96. I have been to Lourdes twice.
97. I used to live in Aix-en-Provence, which was an incredibly beautiful and sunny place.
98. There has only been one year in the last eleven that I haven't been taking psychiatric medication. That was when I was in Aix.
99. I try to walk 5000 steps a day, and to my surprise I frequently manage it.
100. I am really glad to have finished this list.

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Friday, September 02, 2005

Katrina Kaos.

I don't understand the world at the moment and given the way it is, I'm not sure I want to.

I have, as has everyone else, heard a lot about the destruction and devastation left behind by Hurricane Katrina. Over a few days the news has got more and more disturbing, and the stories make the places seems less and less like the most powerful and richest place on earth.

As ever, when these big news stories hit, as I don't have a TV I miss a lot of the visuals that most people get. I see the front pages of the papers, and the occasional pic online, but I don't see the general scope of pictures which most people do as a matter of course.

So today I was looking at one of the free papers, and saw a series of several photos of how people are trying to survive in New Orleans. The thing that struck me was that in almost every picture, those struggling, fighting for survival, were all black. All. Now, I'd heard over the past few days many descriptions of New Orleans as multicultural, and until a few days ago I didn't know much more about it than that some rather fantastic music came out of it, but the photos I saw weren't representing a multicultural society, they were showing only black people - crying and frightened, about to be shot by the police, and one older black man who was dead in a deckchair. The only people in any of the photos I looked at who were white were the three policemen pointing their guns at a (black) looter.

I couldn't make any sense of this at all. It could be that the photographer was selective in the photographs they took, or that the photographer was in areas where more black evacuees were than white ones, but I wasn't sure. And then I read, in the article accompanying these pictures, that many of those trying to survive in the stadium and similar were the poorer members of the city's community.

Often it was those without cars who found it more difficult to escape with the speed that those who do own cars could. They are reporting that even after they had been advised to leave the city, nobody sent any buses or coaches to help people out. So, the richer people (with cars) could get out and those with less money (without cars) couldn't.

And what does that say to us? Well, to me it says that yet again poorer people have it harder in almost every way, and not always to do with not being able to afford obvious things like clothes or technology. It says that yet again the black communities live in more poverty than white communities. It says that yet again people don't really care that black people are poorer, have a much worse chance of survival (in day-to-day and more extreme events) than white people, than richer people.

If my inferences are correct then I guess it would be similar to here in the UK, where people from black communities earn less due to prejudice, discrimination, poorer health, lower wages, less valued jobs, fewer rights, and fewer people caring.

And in a situation like this Hurricane it seems that the problems with black communities, disabled communities, poor communities, communities of women, of lesbians, and every other unnecessarily-badly-treated community, are all magnified and are seen more acutely, more immediately, and more terrifyingly. And in so many ways it is the same as the daily situations in people's lives, but in these drastic situations it is in the news and we actually hear the women crying.

The situation is appalling. The response of the American government is appalling.

Oh, and in terms of the disgusted reactions to petrol (gas!) price increases in Georgia, amongst other places, I did just want to point out that according to my research, those of you in the US are just about approaching the normal UK prices ;-)

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