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Hwyl Fawr!

March 3, 2011

So long, and thanks for all the fish.

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something.

If we remember those times and places—and there are so many—where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.
Howard Zinn

‘his hair was a nightmare’

December 22, 2013
here is my last knitting project for 2013, its a present for my 23 year old daughter.

here is my last knitting project for 2013, its a present for my 23 year old daughter.

Jackie Roberts i have been asked how much i would charge to make one for someone, what do you think ?

35 minutes ago · Like

Lisa Alderson I absolutely love it x x

32 minutes ago via mobile · Like · 1

Annmarie Lyons I love it and now big is he

30 minutes ago via mobile · Like · 1

Pamela Collis Golly yeah

30 minutes ago · Like · 2

Jackie Roberts he stands 2 feet tall.

30 minutes ago · Like

Jackie Roberts his hair was a nightmare, never done loopy stitches before but have now mastered it

29 minutes ago · Like

Karen Upfold He is lovely I had one when I was child memorys x

28 minutes ago via mobile · Like · 1

Diane Kempton He’s great

27 minutes ago via mobile · Like · 1

Jackie Roberts my mum used to make smaller ones for the grandchildren, from memory, she is the person that got me loving knitting from when i was 9 years old. x

27 minutes ago · Like

Sue Jones It should be at least £15

23 minutes ago via mobile · Like · 1

Jackie Roberts thank you, i was thinking 15-20 pound.

20 minutes ago · Like

Katharine Clifton Are these acceptable to black people now?

20 minutes ago · Like Read more…

Defined Lines #liberation

September 2, 2013

After a summer of being triggered by Thicke’s rape anthem, THIS!  Thank you so much Adelaide Dunn, Olivia Lubbock and Zoe Ellwood!

Lyrics and video also on Vimeo – which you’ll need if YouTube delete the video again *sigh*

The Law Revue girls would like to define those supposedly “blurred lines.” Enjoy our parody of Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. Lyrics below.

Vocals: Zoe Ellwood, Olivia Lubbock, Adelaide Dunn
Lyrics: Adelaide Dunn
Production: Milon Tesiram, Chillbox Creative
Audio engineering: Rich Bryan


Every bigot shut up x 2
Hey hey hey x 3

Boy you’d better quit all your sexist ways,
So hear our manifesto of the modern age.
It’s time to undermine
The masculine confines
‘Cause we don’t wanna grind
Gri-ii-iind. Read more…

A Week in Links #16

June 28, 2011
  • Brandon Voss speaks to artist Margo Selski about her new series of paintings featuring her son and discusses his unusual upbringing.
  • Andrea Levy wins the Walter Scott Prize for The Long Song (still on my leaning tower of to-read books).

A Week in Links #15

June 15, 2011
  • Sara McGrath explains Unschooling – educating without ‘manipulating or threatening them [children] into learning and doing things.’
  • Cynthia Gorney’s Too Young to Wed -The secret world of child brides which continues despite legislation banning it, simply because these girls don’t matter in this world.  Their mothers didn’t matter and neither will their daughters or grand-daughters.
  • John Vidal and Claire Provost report on how American universities are colonising Africa.
  • Mala Sen Obituaries from the Guardian and the Telegraph.  Neither particularly great, I’ll look out for a better one.
  • Lynsey Hanley reviews Owen Jones’ Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class.  Definitely on my to look out for in charity shops list.

  • GUN – A blog dedicated to ‘dedicated to my beloved Stitch and Scrump’.  I love it and so do the various Stitches sitting next to my screen.

Easiest choice of beautiful music ever – the magnificent Pulp.

Recorded live off the TV, just as it should be 🙂 Read more…

Do you actually have a job? I think not. You pay for all your things from MY tax.

June 14, 2011

‘Do you actually have a job? I think not. You pay for all your things from MY tax.’  was messaged to me on Facebook last week in response to me questioning a comment about reducing foreign aid.  It’s ok though, everyone hates people on welfare.  It’s expected, especially by politicians who have legitimised and revelled in the hate speech against us for many many years .  Thing is though, we are paying for the recovery:

Poor people in Britain are suffering from a far higher inflation rate than the rich, according to research released today by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) that shows the impact of soaring food and energy bills on those with the lowest incomes.

The thinktank said the least well off had experienced a higher cost of living than the wealthy for the past decade, but that the difference had widened sharply since the long, deep recession of 2008 and 2009.

In a study that coincides with the release of new official data today, the IFS said its analysis using the retail prices index (RPI) showed that the poorest fifth of households had faced an inflation rate of 4.3% between 2008 and 2010, compared to 2.7% for the richest fifth of households. RPI inflation has continued to rise in 2011 and stood at 5.2% in April.

The study found that the doubling of energy prices over the past decade had disproportionately hurt poor households, which on average spend twice as much of their income on food and fuel than the better off (19.6% of income on food and 9.4% on domestic fuel, compared to 10.1% and 4.4% respectively for the richest 20%).

Pensioners, and in particular those dependant on state benefits, have been hard hit by the increase in oil and other commodity prices over the past three years. The inflation rate for a pensioner reliant on state benefits was 4.6% on average over the three years to 2010, compared to 4.3% for a pensioner not dependant on benefits, the IFS said.

It added that there was a similar pattern for those of working age, where the inflation rate between 2008 and 2010 for those on benefits was 4%, compared to 2.9% for those not dependant on benefits.

Well-off households were also the main beneficiaries of the Bank of England’s decision to slash interest rates from 5.5% to 0.5% in 2008-09 in an attempt to lift the economy out of a recession that reduced the UK’s national output by more than 6%.

The poorest 20% of households spend 1.7% of their budgets on mortgage interest payments, as opposed to 8.7% for rich households. Rich households also spend more of their income on leisure goods, where cheaper computers and mobile phones resulted in a sharp drop in prices of 23.8% between 2000 and 2010.

The IFS said official poverty and inequality figures in recent years had failed to pick up the way in which inflation was bearing down hardest on those with the lowest incomes.

“Over the past few years relative price changes have tended to hit poorer and older households harder,” said an IFS research economist, Peter Levell.

“Of course, this pattern may well change in the future, but it does mean that poorer households will have fared worse over the period of the recession than poverty and inequality statistics that don’t account for these differential inflation rates would suggest.”

The IFS said that in 2008 – a year when the price of crude oil peaked at $147 (£90) a barrel – the RPI rose by 4%, but fuel prices rose by 18.9%.

“This rise in energy costs added 1.8 percentage points to the average inflation rate experienced by the poorest 20% of households, but just 0.8 points to the rate experienced by the richest 20% in that year,” it said.

The thinktank said the department of energy and climate change predicted that fuel prices would continue to increase as a result of the trends in commodity prices and government policies designed to meet targets for use of renewable energy and to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Milly and Ed Milband and the rest of you fuckers – whilst you live out your prejudices and make yourselves feel all good, we’re still human beings and we are paying for ALL YOUR THINGS.

Come to Ymuno – 1-3 July

June 8, 2011

I’ve never slept in a tent, or been to a festival.  I have a feeling the former is going to be a horrible experience, but for the sake of the latter I am doing it a few times this year.  There are some wonderful little festivals all over the UK with some putting on many exciting things for kids as well as the staple music show.

Others  just look simply lovely and luckily one of those is fairly close to me –  Ymuno Festival in beautiful Abergele, North Wales.  Run by a cooperative not for profit gives the venture a good feel.   The ticket price includes folk, funk, camping and breakfast!  What more do you need?  Oh yeah, excellent vegy food from No Bones Jones and good company.

Ymuno is an intimate festival with tickets sales stopping at 450 and they’re selling fast, so you’ve not got long to go grab a ticket!  And you can come laugh at me learning the camping thing if you like.  I’m sure I’ll be laughing at myself in-between dancing to great music (or drunk in a corner somewhere).  Honeyfeet look particularly fun!

From the site: The word “ymuno” means “to join in” or “to be a part of” in Welsh, and was chosen by the organisers to fit in with the community based theme of the festival. – Byddaf gweld chi yno 🙂

Full line up here and an intro below to the lovely John Smith.  Enjoy.

Ymuno on Twitter and Facebook.

Free Ai Weiwei and where is our Weiwei?

June 6, 2011

I’d not heard of Ai Weiwei before his Sunflower Seeds show at London Tate.  Thanks to the Chinese authorities’ April 3 arrest and continued detention on convenient if not false allegations Weiwei’s name is everywhere.  He has yet to be charged.

Hari Kunzru wrote a wonderful article about Weiwei with much of it leading to deeper thought such as:

On his return to China in 1993, Ai brought with him a commitment to conceptualism, and a lofty notion of Modernism, which he saw as a kind of total interrogation of the human condition:

“Modernism has no need for various masks or titles; it is the primal creation of the enlightened, it is the ultimate consideration of the meaning of existence and the plight of reality, it is keeping tabs on society and does not cooperate. Enlightenment is attained through a process of self-recognition, attained through a teeming thirst for and pursuit of an inner world, attained through interminable doubts and puzzlement.”

The idea that the “pursuit of an inner world” is a primary artistic activity may seem banal to anyone who grew up with conventional western Romantic notions of art, but Ai has made it the foundation of his challenge to the Chinese state, which he accuses of producing “a society without citizens”. “A person with no true rights cannot have a complete sense of morality or humanity,” he wrote in 2008. “Freedom of expression is one of life’s basic rights . . . Modernity cannot exist without freedom of speech.” Ai’s connection of artistic Modernism to human rights and a kind of relentless questioning of the political, social and psychological status quo is arguably one of the most important developments in Chinese art since it opened up to the West at the end of the Cultural Revolution.

Art not of the regime can be dangerous to political regimes, indeed it should be.  Performing arts can convey deep truths that ruling classes would rather keep confused and regulated and beyond desire or pocket to the majority of us plebs.  We keep ourselves busy arguing whether ITV ‘talent’ shows are fixed or not.  It’s not accidental.

More information:  Free Ai Weiwei is an information hub on news and events related to the detention of Chinese artist/architect/social commentator, Ai Weiwei. Follow us @freeaiww and on Facebook.  Edit – also Aiww English (beta) twitter account and Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry A Film & Video project in New York, NY by Alison Klayman

Also see:

Art Uncut  Artists and Musicians Against The Cuts (which for the moment hasn’t established itself into any kind of force)

Mark Thomas

What political theatre ought to be – Francis Beckett

Banned & Dangerous Art

Please add anything else relevant in the comments, especially UK related and active.

A Week in Links #14

June 5, 2011

Nushin Arbabzadah writes of how Afghanistan almost celebrated gay pride.

The NYT hosted a series of posts by people who have ‘come out’ including beautiful stories by Anonymous, 21 years old, Waco, Tex. and Ollie, 20 years old, London Of course, if we didn’t place expectations on our children that they would be cis and straight then all our children would have to ‘come out’, or not, and it would be a normal part of life.

Beirut Boy turned 1 this week!

Festival Kidz have plotted all the best kid friendly festivals onto a map and also a calendar. Really handy resource and a great little site too.

Annie Lennox interviewed by Samira Shackle.  Life as a game of snakes and ladders is spot on.

Very funny column from Tim Dowling on writing and smart alec kids.

Andy Worthington has updated his hugely important archive: Guantánamo: The Definitive Prisoner List — Updated for 2011, With New Information and Photos from WikiLeaks

Iman Qureshi reviews Granta 115: The F Word for The F-Word.  Anything that mixes the unreadable Rachel Cusk, the unreadable A.S. Byatt (excepting the short stories) and the unreadable Jeanette Winterson is always going to be full of win.  Not.

Chewbacca riding a giant Squirrel, fighting Nazi’s

The entirely terrible Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board is named after a Welsh nurse, who served in the Crimea.  Plans are underway to make a permanent memorial, 151 years after her death.

Now for something entirely lovely – H/T to @IanPlaysMusic for introducing me to a whole new genre of music which can be (very ) broadly called Disney Dub.  I love it 🙂

Tracey Emin: Love is What you Want

June 3, 2011

More about the show and further talks/events on the Southbank Centre website here.

I made it to Auschwitz and breasts – can you go further?

Revolution Will Be Feminist Or It Won’t Be

June 2, 2011

Via feministes indignades a plaça Catalunya  This is a world I could live in, unlike the one we have now which large number of us just survive in:

ENGLISH – Manifesto (last version, 20 May 2011)

This afternoon, feminists who participated in the feminist alternatives workshop have reflected and written the following public declaration:

“Feministes indignades” (indignant feminists) at Plaça Cataluya (acampadabcn), May 20th, 2011

We are here because:

* we want a society centred into people and not marketplaces. This is why we vindicate: free public and basic services like education, health, and childhood and special needs care in opposition to social budget cuts, and the new employment and pension reforms.

* we want the whole people commitment to build a society where no male violence will take place in any of its forms: in economy, aesthetics, employment, institutions, religions or in its physical or psychological forms, as well as in its sexual or work exploitation forms…

* we want to freely decide about our own body, enjoy and relate with it and whoever we want.

* we want to freely decide about free abortion and sexual and affective education.

* we want a diverse society to be respectful with any form of living sex and sexuality (lesbian, gay, intersex, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, …) and we want the right to sexuality at any stage of life to be recognized. We demand the dis-patologisation of trans identities. Read more…

TEDx Karachi

June 1, 2011

Mukhtar Mai

TEDx Karachi (an independently organised TED event) this year was titled “Making the Impossible Possible” and featured Mukhtar Mai alongside others. Mai has certainly made the impossible happen!

There was also a presentation of submissions for the interesting Inside Out project using the theme Stand Up Against The Persecution of Minorities

Videos aren’t available until next week so I’ll just post the summary of Muhammad Aly Balagamwala’s impressions of the day for now and update later:

The take-home message

1. We need to focus on education – Fasi Zaka, Mukhtar Mai
2. Lack of resources should not be an excuse to do something you believe in – Raja Sabri Khan, Imran Khan
3. Mind can triumph over body – Imran Khan, Sarmad Tariq
4. Pain, if channeled in a positive direction, can achieve great things – Dr Quratulain Bakhtiari, Sarmad Tariq, Mukhtar Mai
5. Don’t blame life, or anyone else. You may be down but success is about getting up that one last time. – Sarmad Tariq
6. Bulleh Shah was a Commie (oops sorry, a revolutionary) – Noori

More on Twitter and Facebook.

How to starve men and divide communities

May 9, 2011

Everyone knows that giving financial aid to women in developing/impoverished countries is the way to raise living standards for all, yes?  Indeed, the bestseller Half The Sky uses this notion as it’s core.  Women feed their families, men waste it on drink and drugs.

Funnily enough, aid programmes that use these gross stereotypes don’t always work that well for all genders involved.  Surprise!

Oxfam Great Britain and Concern Worldwide, in a fascinating document, have collected evidence showing that aid programmes purporting to have gender at their core actually don’t, and these programmes place ridiculous stresses on already fragile gender relations:

This acceptance of gender stereotypes not only reinforces traditional gender roles for women but also runs a risk of normalising this behaviour for men. Furthermore, most CTs [Cash Transfers] take place without any explicit analysis of gender roles and responsibilities, or an understanding of how gender relations work within different households of communities. [p12 pdf]

Fair play, starvation is avoided (although evidence shows men were loath to ask for help and did starve because they knew they were considered worthless).  And obviously many women are helped by this cash, but why waste so much money and opportunity just because of a basic lack of knowledge in gender dynamics.  Or more likely is simply considered unimportant? And in the long term, the impact on communities may not be good:

Targeting can alienate the community without real and meaningful participation and can increase division and long term vulnerability. Jealously and community division were noted in all three cases [studied]. [p16]

Gender inequality won’t be improved without the expertise available actually being used.  It won’t be improved by using gross stereotypes and ignoring men.  As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a speech a couple of days ago:

I believe that unless you change mentality and behaviour of men, it will be very difficult to change this situation

He then went on to ask that ‘women leaders from around the world and from all walks of life’ actually do the work, but hey – like giving money to women only and alienating half the sky, he’s half way there.  Right?  I’m reminded of the slogan that talks of the radical notion that women are human beings.  Any change of spreading that one round the world?

H/T The Guardian & Womankind

Happy Easter 2011

April 24, 2011

Peace be with you.

Support for Egyptian Uprising

February 2, 2011

Via Al Jazeera, Rabbi Michael Lerner writes in support of the protesters in Egypt, concluding:

In normal times, when the forces of repression seem to be winning, this kind of thinking is dismissed as “utopian” by the “realists” who shape public political discourse. But when events like the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt occur, for a moment the politicians and media are stunned enough to allow a different kind of thinking to emerge, the kind of thinking that acknowledged that underneath all the “business as usual” behaviour of the world’s peoples, the yearning for a world based on solidarity, caring for each other, freedom, self-determination, justice, non-violence and yes, even love and generosity, remains a potent and unquenchable thirst that may be temporarily repressed but never fully extinguished.

It is this recognition that leads many Jews to join with the rest of the world’s peoples in celebrating the uprising, in praying that it does not become manipulated by the old regime into paths that too quickly divert the hopes for a brand new kind of order into politics and economics as usual, or into extremist attempts to switch the anger from domestic elites who have been the source of Egyptian oppression onto Jews or Israel which have not been responsible for the suffering of the Egyptian people.

We hope that Egyptians will hear the news that they have strong support from many in the Jewish world. We are not waffling like Obama – we want the overthrow of Mubarak, the freeing of all political prisoners, the redistribution of wealth in a fair way, trials for those who perpetrated torture and other forms of injustice, and the democratisation of all aspects of Egyptian life.

News has not been good from Cairo this afternoon.  ‘Pro-Mubarak’ supporters, many of who are thought to be in the pay of Mubarak, attacked Tahrir Square where thousands were trapped.  Journalists were hunted down.  Attacks continue this evening.  Protesters were attacked in Alexandria yesterday.

Images from Egypt

January 30, 2011

A protester reaches out as a soldier holds a child during a demonstration in Cairo January 29, 2011. Thousands of angry Egyptians rallied in central Cairo on Saturday to demand that President Hosni Mubarak resign, dismissing his offer of dialogue and calling on troops to come over to their side. (REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih)

Read more…

A Week in Links #12

January 15, 2011

I don’t exactly do this weekly, so some links are old, but still worth reading I think.  And there are too many of them.

  • The Babylon Tales I’ve only just discovered this blog and it is fantastic.  I can’t specify a post as they all make me laugh a lot.
  • Beckicksle My lovely friend Becca, who I have known for a long time but never met in real life, has written an inspiring post regarding her mental health.  It is so hard to do this, and I am so proud of her.
  • Hyperbole and a Half Another new blog to me, which will quite literally steal your time.  It is indescribable – go look.
  • Sue Marsh details how ‘Sick and Disabled people are now facing cuts of up to a third in their incomes.’  This isn’t abstract, this is what has already been legislated by the tory government.  It is vile.  An October article in the Guardian spells out some of the other attacks.
  • Labour leader Ed Miliband responds to the tory government, but seems to forget to mention how the most vulnerable people around him are being hit over the head with a sledgehammer.  Perhaps he doesn’t see us, perhaps he is quite happy that the Tories are continuing Labour’s punishing policies.  Thanks Ed – don’t ask for my vote again.
  • BBC World Book Club Bernard Schlink talks about The Reader.  One of the few books which is complemented and added to by its movie version.

Now for the music:

A Week in Links #13

January 15, 2011

Sue Townsend meets the Guardian book club.  Wonderful stuff.

Interview with Timothy Leary (1995)

Should parents worry if sons like to dress as girls? Or perhaps we could stop gendering pieces of material.  I know, never gonna happen!

The 1997 letter: Vatican message sent to Irish church  A copy of the letter – no surprises, but disgusting nonetheless.

More about the 1997 letter from the Huffington Post.

The Ad Hominem Fallacy Fallacy I win!

Obituary for Maharaj Kumari Binodini Devi who led quite an amazing life.

Impoverished Indian families caught in deadly spiral of microfinance debt   Disgusting.

Collected position papers of women in Egypt, Tunisia (and the uprising countries to follow) from Nasawiya

“Women and Peacebuilding in the Middle East” series

Between Worlds: Jilbab and Transgender in Indonesia

Beautiful music:

UN International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

November 25, 2010


On this 10th anniversary of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, we can applaud the fact that the issue of violence against women and girls is no longer treated as simply a woman’s concern. Thanks to the persistent and dedicated efforts by women’s rights activists in all parts of the world, it is now a human rights issue, a peace and security issue, and an issue of urgent concern to both men and women.

Despite these achievements, huge challenges remain. It is shocking that based on available country data, up to 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime. It happens everywhere — at home and at work, on the streets and in schools, during peacetime and in conflict.

We still live in a world where violence against women and girls is a major source of insecurity for half the world’s population, from domestic violence to female genital mutilation; from so called honour killings to mass rape in times of war. The gap between the promises and realities on the ground is still too wide and violence against women and girls continues to pose some of the world’s greatest challenges.

In the UK Theresa May has launched a cross government plan today, with a ‘full action plan’ to be published next spring.  May has committed to trialing Domestic Violence Protection Orders, a welcome u-turn.   We must do all we can to make sure this new ‘action plan’ is fully funded by government.

Thank you to all women’s rights activists everywhere, past present and future.

Home Office Publication – Call to End Violence against Women and Girls released today.

Pope condones condoms

November 24, 2010

Well, not quite.

Over the weekend excerpts of Peter Seewald’s interview with Pope Benedict were published in Italy with an interesting revision regarding condom use and HIV.   Part of this interview has the Pope saying:

There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be a first step in the direction of a moralization, a first assumption of responsibility, on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed and that one cannot do whatever one wants. But it is not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection. That can really lie only in a humanization of sexuality.

Are you saying, then, that the Catholic Church is actually not opposed in principle to the use of condoms?
She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality.

Clarification has been sought since as to whether this revision is applicable to everyone.  Catholics for Choice today reports:

This morning, the Vatican’s spokesperson, Rev. Federico Lombardi, said:

‘I personally asked the pope if there was a serious, important problem in the choice of the masculine over the feminine. He told me no. The problem is this … It’s the first step of taking responsibility, of taking into consideration the risk of the life of another with whom you have a relationship. This is if you’re a woman, a man, or a transsexual. We’re at the same point.

This is welcome news from the Vatican, even if it they are words ‘made in a “colloquial and not magisterial” form’.

UNAIDS – a global view of HIV prevalence in 2009
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