Friday, October 03, 2003

Hmm... cattle farming encourages patriarchy:

"What they are trying to show is that human mating patterns, wealth inheritance and dominance systems respond to ecological variation in the same way that we would expect animal populations to behave."
American court upholds student's right to free speech.

Iraqis reclaim ancient wetlands.

Wednesday, October 01, 2003

With the Roma in the news, I thought it worth taking a closer look at how Roma live. When I was living in Greece teaching my students told me: "the gypsies are rich, don't give them any money", but I could never reconcile this with what I saw with my own eyes: bedraggled women and children sitting on the streets begging, men standing on street corners at impromtu labour exchanges. It seems that the reality, as ever, is much more complicated than the stereotypes would suggest.

Friday, September 26, 2003

It doesn't get much worse than this: fascist gender equality:

'I headbutt, punch and kick just like a man,' says Jackie Oakley, editor of the White Nationalist Party's Valkyrie magazine and head of its women's division. 'None of your poncey girly scratching for me; I'm up there with the men and so are all the other women in the group.'

At last! EU goes Dutch on gay rights.

Again, what took them so long? If you have PMS blame your man!

Battersea Power Station is now on the World Monuments Fund's watch-list of most endangered sites, and this is why:

We must remember that buildings like this matter. Architectural icons are culturally significant, particularly if they're as "other" as Battersea Power Station. They remind us of difference, and of aspirations that don't toe the line. They are antidotes to the mundane. They are, whether beautiful or crude, items of hope. However hard it is to do so, we must try to think of Battersea Power Station in the same way as the World Monuments Fund thinks of Shackleton's Hut in Antarctica, the Great Wall of China, and the Nineveh and Nimrud palaces in Iraq.

I love these lists - so inspiring - thirty ways to get sustainable - at home.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

The real urban badgers:

Few towns and cities have established urban badger populations. Badgers are reported to be most numerous in south-west London, Bristol, Bath and South Benfleet in Essex.

Caring capitalism: the drinks manufacturer Diago pledges free HIV treatment to workers and dependents for life.

Don't get mad get vegan!

Happy belated birthday to Maya Angelou:

'Let me tell young people this - you may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. It may even be necessary to encounter some defeats to know who you are.'

Improving fertilizer efficiency. Anything that helps to prevent nitrogen run off is good news. But far better to farm in a manner that makes fertilisers unecessary.

Will George W Bush please define freedom:

The Americans have become a heavy weight on our shoulders. They don't respect human beings, they humiliate the Iraqi people. They promised freedom and democracy. Is it freedom to kill people, make bloodshed and destroy our house? Is that what they mean by freedom?

It's a tough call, now that troops are there they should help to rebuild the country. I can't help thinking that these are, for the most part, inexperienced and poorly trained (though not poorly equipped) youngsters stuck in an impossible situation - of course they are going to panic and make these tragic mistakes.

I have always told the animator that, should we have children, I do not want him to be present at the birth. My instinct has always been that it would lead to increased stress levels, at a time when surely the emphasis is on trying to calm both parents down. It seems much more natural to me that a caring woman should support the mother to be. The benefits of this are only now being recognised by the medical profession.

Meanwhile, at a time when falling birth rates are a concern for all in the developed world, the Tory party wants to encourage women to have more kids. It is hard to believe, but if this goes through the Conservative Party could fight the next election with a feminist manifesto!

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Does exactly what it says on the tin: 1000 great books for sustainable agriculture. Of which I've read two...ah well winter is drawing close and if I read just a quarter of these I'll be well prepared for spring!

On a more personal note, the animator's new website/online showreel is now live. The animation sections seem to only work for some people - a quicktime glitch - hopefully that will be sorted out soon. If anyone has any clue as to why it is going wrong please tell us! Just so that you know, the animator is now available for bar mitzvahs, weddings, parties etc, etc - but, to be honest, he'd prefer a well-paid 3D computer games job.

Ten ways to conserve nature. (via Rebecca's Pocket):

8. Choose a home close to work or school: A convenient place to live reduces the amount you drive, which means you'll lower your emissions of greenhouse gases and other pollutants. You'll also have more time to spend on things you care about.

Currently, I achieve 4, 7, 8, 9 and 10. Number 8, in particular, the animator and I felt very strongly about. The decision to live right in the heart of London was a trade off: no garden, but we can walk everywhere we need to. That is a luxury as far as we are concerned. I'm working on 5 - just as soon as I have a free Sunday, I'll be buying fresh veg at the Marylebone farmer's market. Somewhat surprisingly, recycling didn't make it in.
Finally, farmers are learning/rediscovering that companion planting is the way forward. This time it's soy and rye in the USA:

This study is benefiting from the experience and knowledge of Robin Brekken, a farmer from Crookston, Minnesota, who began transitioning to organic in 1998. Although this is only the first year of the study, it is Brekken’s fourth year of planting soybeans into rye.

How much knowledge and how many varieties have been lost since farming went industrial?
Okay, okay. So if you think that badgers are the perfect comedy animal and if you like crazy flash animations, this site is for you. Be warned, there is an evil pop up.

Check out Bill Mollison, founder of permaculture:

We have this argument about which way you proceed: Philosophy to garden
or garden to philosophy. I think that there are people traveling both
ways, people coming from the abstract to the garden and people coming
from the garden to the abstract. Most of us are coming up out of the
garden and heading towards the philosophy. A few have been up to the temple
and are coming down to the garden.

I definitely started thinking first and got to the garden second. In fact, given our inner-city location, I'm still looking for the garden!

Monday, September 22, 2003

Yay, went on permaculture intro. Met a chap who'd built a composting toilet. We saw a video, but pics of the project can be viewed here. Not for those who are anti nudity - you have been warned.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

This is fantastic - intercropping for vastly improved yield in Kenya.
This is also good news, in a more muted way. Finding the survivors of Dutch Elm disease. What the article doesn't say, and I really wanted to know, is what is being done to plant new elms.
So...been silent for a while! Blame the animator, who has only just relinqushed control of the internet-enabled, comfortable to sit at machine. Had a busy few weeks: went hunting this earthship last weekend, but couldn't find it. Will be embarking on an introduction to permaculture this weekend. It is all happening!
Perhaps one day, I'll live like the Path to Freedom gang, perhaps one day we all will...

Tuesday, September 02, 2003

Been collecting links like other people collect stamps, but been too busy to stick them in the album - if you catch my drift.

Occasionally, I might think that someone is a waste of space, but nothing beats landfill as a real waste of space. This site explains in simple terms how we can shrink our landfill.

Perhaps Dougal from Father Ted was on to something with his size/distance confusion after all. The Crowned Anarchist disagrees with the whole "these are small, but the ones out there are far away" philosophy. Scroll down to the pictorial representations.

If you are a woman with a family and a career (through choice or necessity), or even a woman thinking about having a family, this article makes for frightening reading. Why is it that adequate childcare is still seen as a luxury item? Hasn't anyone learnt from Sure Start? The best way to create the skilled, socially responsible adults of tomorrow is to invest in preschool care, and not just for the disadvantaged - for everyone!

Apparently, acid rain is still a big problem, and part of the problem is that it is old news. Is it possible to just get worn out with environmental concern?

More bad news on the global environmental meltdown front: fish just aren't what they used to be. On a positive note, new research shows how helpful marine reserves can be in replensishing fish stocks.

I'm vegetarian, but the animator is an Aussie and, therefore, resolutely carnivorous. Where possible, we buy organic. I would have thought it obvious that happy animals make better meat.

Look here for garden inspiration. A blooming marvelous site :-)

Sunday, August 31, 2003

getting rid of some stuff...the painting is one of the animator's :-)

Thursday, August 28, 2003

This will keep me busy: 50 things to do instead of shopping.

The University of East Anglia School of Environmental Sciences is working with the community to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 60% in 25 years (twice as fast as the government target) and this is why it is important:

We are all responsible for the 500 million tonnes of CO2 the UK puts into the atmosphere every year.
These emissions include those from the generation of the electricity we use, the transport we rely on, the heating and hot water we need for our comfort.
But hidden from our view are the CO2 emissions associated with the things we make, the things we buy, the food we eat and the things we throw away.
On average all of these activities add up to 9 tonnes of CO2 every year for each man, women and child.

The team suggest simple things we can all do - like unplugging our phone charger when it is not in use.

Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Okay, I have a whole bunch of links for you about Mike May who regained his sight (or at least partial sight) after being blind since he was three.
This article raises some interesting points about how we learn to make sense of the world, while The Guardian's story focuses much more on the human angle. These last two are bonus links to Mike May's company website: new perceptions and his public speaking. I guess we could all use a lesson in seeing the world anew.

Good news for the bon vivants!

On a more serious note, the animator and I try to be careful what, how and why we consume. But even we sometimes - and usually when money is tight - get the urge to splurge on DVDs, clothes or other unecessary purchases in an effort to 'treat' ourselves. Which is why Alan Thein Durning's article really struck a nerve (via The Path). This blog is part of a conscious move on my part (I wanted to keep a tangible record) towards living more frugally and with greater respect for the environment - yes there is some in central London. I'll keep you posted on how I do.

Tuesday, August 26, 2003

Today's topic is one I've been thinking about a lot recently - it just seems to be coming up more and more - the way medicines, and consequently illnesses, are being aggressively marketed to us. Today's Guardian has this to say. This is obviously a massive issue and, with the relaxation of legislation preventing the advertising of medicines to consumers, one that is going to become increasingly important. I recently read a similar article in the Boston Globe (via the always excellent Rebecca's Pocket) about the 'fashion' for prescribing HRT, unfortunately it seems that it is no longer online. I am deeply suspicious of medicines that claim to treat 'conditions' that are a natural part of our life cycle, especially when their treatment raises such large revenues for big pharma.

Incidentally, the Blogger interface on the mac is significantly different - and much harder to use. Home updates might be the order of the day.

Monday, August 25, 2003

Something to be proud of - happy carnival to you all.
How would you define forgiveness and what are your limits? Rwandan women are giving the rest of us a lesson. An entirely humbling and heartbreaking story.

Sunday, August 24, 2003

Must stop counting my posts as that will soon get boring, if it hasn't already... Not up to much today. The animator is in a funk, we are currently losing the cricket and my maiden attempt at making bread with live yeast failed, due to live yeast showing a distinct lack of vital signs. Back to using the reliable dried stuff I guess.

Saturday, August 23, 2003

Well, second ever post (actually third, since in a moment of techno muppetry I just deleted all that I had spent five minutes typing).

Today is a day for thinking about life goals and mine involve building an of these.

Ideally, on a brownfield site in the centre of a city. Melbourne is the current front runner, since that is where the animator is from. Incidentally, today was supposed to be an animation-free day, the first in six months! Perhaps that is why I'm so keen to think about goals, for the first time in ages the animator and I have spent time talking about other things.

So back to the earthship (yes I know it is a ridiculous name for such a noble construct). I'd like to reclaim a warehouse site. Build the earthship inside of the old redbrick structure. I'm not referencing 'The Good Life' here...just in case I had you worried. The animator and I are far too lux to want to wear aran sweaters and wellies, but sustainability and living lightly on the earth with respect for the environment and society is important to me.

At the moment, we are about as far away from realising that dream as it is possible to be: geographically, financially, career-wise. However, that doesn't mean the dream can't come true. And then I'll have a site like this one (only our earthship will be better looking!)

I herby officially launch the Urban Badger - god bless her and all who sail in her!

This is going to be (with any luck) an online repository for my thoughts, links and maunderings. As such, it will supplement my journal. Hopefully, it won't replace emailing people individually.

There also might be photos soon - when I've worked out the techno joy side of things.