Thursday, December 13, 2007

Adel Hamad freed today

I am overjoyed to tell you that Adel Hamad has been released from Guantanamo Bay today and is back with his family in the Sudan.

I can't imagine what five years in jail can be like when you are not allowed to know what the charges are against you, and you aren't allowed to know even when your release has been agreed.

I am happy for Adel Hamad, and hope that the other people in Guantanamo Bay are either given the due process of a trial, or released back to their countries, too.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Sex with a bike earns a place on the Sex Offenders Register

The Daily Telegraph carried a story so weird that I reported it to BoingBoing yesterday. A man who was staying in a hostel in Scotland, was engaging in rather odd sexual behaviour in a private room. When he didn't respond to knocks at the door, the staff from the hostel used a master key to enter the room, found him allegedly having sex with a bicycle, and the matter was reported to the police.

He hasn't yet been sentenced, but he has been placed on the sex offenders' register. He has been found guilty of a sexual breach of the peace - whatever that is.

It seems funny at first, to be prosecuted for sex with a bicycle... but once you stop laughing you realise what a serious infringement of civil liberties this is - and how nonsensical. This man was using an inanimate object for sexual pleasure - something which high sales of vibrators and dildos indicates is not a minority activity. He wasn't hurting anyone, and he was doing it in the privacy of his own room, if the reports in the Telegraph are to be believed.

It is a matter of some amusement in Accident Emergency departments around the world, that people are endlessly creative in their ways to get into trouble while using inanimate objects for sexual plasure. People with their penises stuck inside things, or things stuck inside them. Objects "lost".... Why was this poor guy singled out for punishment?

I regard it as my right to find sexual fulfillment in any way I chose, as long as I hurt no one else, and don't do it in the middle of the highway. Or to the middle of the highway... if you reach the end of the article and see that the last person prosecuted for something similar was abusing the pavement!

Write a letter to Adel Hamad

Anyone who has read my postings on blogs the web over, knows that I have been supporting Project Hamad from the moment I learned about it. I received an email yesterday asking me to exhort everyone to write to Adel Hamad, who has been kept at Guantanamo Bay since 2004, as long as I have been in Second Life.

The most recent letter makes grim reading: people kept locked down for 22 hours a day, kept incarcerated even when the orders for their release have been agreed. Adel hamad was apparently approved for transfer to his home country TWO YEARS AGO... but no one has told his defence team, or done anything to get that achieved. This man is in prison, but did nothing, nothing to deserve it. I'm ashamed to be British frankly, because we have had nationals incarcerated at Guantanamo, and yet we are still talking to and supporting America in her war on terror.

I don't believe in war - any war. I certainly don't believe that you can defend democracy by arresting people on spurious charges and throwing away the key. I can't understand why everyone is so quiet about it.

READ the webpage! Join the cause if your heart tells you it is right! And compose a letter to lighten the darkness for at least one prisoner.

Comet watching

I am unfortunate enough - from a sky-watching point of view - to live in the outskirts of London, where light pollution reduces the number of visible objects in the sky by a considerable amount. I will never forget the day I ventured out in the dark in the countryside alone, and found the sheer number of stars in the sky, and their brightness, overwhelming.

My children and I have watched the skies for Geminids and Perseids and either the weather has been dull and cloudy or the light pollution has killed the experience. But I think that even we have a hope of being able to see the Comet Holmes, by the look of things. You'll find instructions here for finding the comet in the night sky, and it should be visible for at least a couple of weeks, weather and light pollution permitting.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Funny Food

I've been online since 1998 and never cease boring family with the tale of how there were less than 10 UK bloggers when I did my first blog, which was Nuda Veritas, on FortuneCity... I found a few pages with the WayBackMachine.

I have forgotten some of the wonderful tghings I stumbled over, delighted in, shared with friends and then forgot. One I rediscovered this morning was Candyboot's Weightwatcher Cards from 1974. Read it and weep... with laughter. Follow her links to the Gallery of Regrettable food if you haven't seen it before.

My favourites have changed over the years... if I was forced at pain of eating some of this stuff, I would choose the chicken liver bake - "enjoy it with the ashes of a loved one". A few months after seeing this I found a pile of recipe cards of my own, not weightwatchers, but still very odd. I can confirm that writing funny captions isn't as easy as it sounds.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Josie's Lalaland

Eelco drew my attention to this short film, which appears to have been made as a memorial to a young girl who died of Leukaemia.

People talk of others with illnesses being courageous. It doesn't take courage to live through illness: you just have to keep breathing and life does that for you. What takes courage is taking control of your destiny, and having the strength to realise that more treatment isn't going to help.

I am surprised that the film maker didn't give more details about the young girl who is the subject of the film. She had a courage which many adults do not find... the courage to take the months of life she had left, and to make the best of them.

Last Supper in 16 billion pixels

Found something marvellous on the BBC website: a link to a 16 billion pixel version of the Last Supper, which you can find here.

It takes a while to resolve, but you can look at details, and get closer to Da Vinci than would be possible in RL.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Shortcomings of Sculpties

There is an intersting essay on the shortcomings of sculpties by authors including Francis Chung and Neil Protagonist here.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Steiner: the world expresses itself through every human being

When I first tried to research the life and work of Rudolph Steiner, there was very little to be found about him on the web. Nowadays there are a growing number of pages about him and many Steiner Schools.

I see no point in trying to regurgitate an objective assessment of his life and work, which is what you will find at the end of some of the links. The things which appealed to me, were his idea of the four levels of consciousness: he said that stones and rocks had one level of consciousness, plants had two, animals had three and man had four. He believed in the one-ness of all, which is something I have believed in since I had a mystical experience a few months after the birth of my youngest child. For a short time, I experienced the one-ness of all, and understood how it was possible to be uniquely myself, and yet part of a whole. I felt overwhelming love for it all, and immense peace and happiness. Right there, in the middle of an ordinary day in Uxbridge.

That experience has made me look for other people who have had similar experiences, and I was interested by the ideas that Steiner came up with. I love organic architecture, and he felt it was important too.

The educational ideas he came up with seem bonkers in some respects, but I think some of them may become mainstream eventually. His idea that children have a physical phase initially, and ought not to be taught academic subjects until their milk teeth fall out, which seemed nuts to me at first, may turn out to be one of the most insightful things he said: it has been found that children with dyslexia and dyspraxia need to be taught to jump and spin and swing, and these things are now regimented into a regime for trying to recover the skills they have lost.

We may well discover that the most important thing we can do for a child's academic development is to ensure that they do not enter into academic study too early.

As to his ideas on religion and philosophy, I apply the same test to him as I do to everything: does it speak to me? I find with some things I recognise a spiritual trust for myself in things that he says, and with others it takes some time and experience to recognise the truth. I leave you to discover if it speaks to you too.

TED talks

Until this year I hadn't heard of TED (technology, entertainment, design), which is an annual conference of interesting people held in the US. They started to publish ther talks from the conference on the web, and I was hooked, although sometimes I think it is a shame that the talks are so short... often listening to them makes you want more, more, MORE.

I particularly like Sir Ken Robinson's talk on education.

The organisation is growing, and this year held another conference in Africa.


When I was in my twenties, I was in a pub quiz team. The team and I played home matches in the Three Tuns in Uxbridge, and travelled around the Greater London area playing other pub quiz teams. Sometimes we won.

On this occasion we went to a pub in Harrow that I hadn't been to before. I went into the bar, and almost immediately caught sight of someone who triggered in me a recognition and cascade of memories. The odd thing was that having had that flash of recognition, and a picture show of me, my sister and this person going to clubs in what I guess was the 1950s... I realised that I could not recall his name/I hadn't been to clubs with my sister and a man/there was no substance behind the memories.

I can still remember how it felt sitting there and trying to recall the detail from the pictures which had flashed passed me inside my head. The rooms I remembered were not rooms I have ever lived in. I was groping around for names and dates and something firm to back up the instant slideshow I had seen, but there wasn't anything there.

I was young and embarrassed and so I didn't go up to the guy and tell him that I had the strangest feeling that we had met in another life, and I have regretted that since.

Years later, I went to Rye and bought a book in the Martello bookshop on the High Street, called Destiny, by Martin Heald. As I read the book, I realised that I had dreamed about one chapter in it, and had described the dream almost exactly as it was described in the book. I was so struck by this that I corresponded with the author for a while.

I try to keep an open mind... it seems to me that the lessons of nature, the cycle of the seasons, the circle of birth and rebirth, lean towards the possibility of reincarnation. I have read that the bible once contained much more material about reincarnation, which was cut out of the bible at the behest of Constantine and his wife. Certainly there are still places in the bible which talk about people having returned in another form.

I do not have any facts which a scientist would accept, to prove that reincarnation is a fact, and personally I do not need them. I am happy to keep my mind open to the possibilities and aware of the improbabilities.

One area of research that has fascinated me in this relation, is the idea that people's appearance may be affected by their previous life. Ian Stevenson did some research with children, and various other people have asserted that this is true. There is a huge collection of photographs of possibly reincarnated individuals which are very interesting indeed, if your mind is open to the possibility.

Finding the website with those photographs led me to look for connections myself. So far, I think I have identified three. You will see above Antoni Gaudi, the artist and architect and Hundertwasser have very similar outlook and interests and appearance. The death of Gaudi was in 1926, and the birth of Hundertwasser in 1928. Their appearance was similar both as young men and as older men.

The other link in appearance is between the singer Eva Cassidy, and a little girl who captivated audiences at the recent Britain's Got Talent event: Connie Talbot. There is also the coincidence that not only do they bear a striking resemblance to each other but Connie chose to sing "Over the Rainbow", a song Eva used to sing.

The final couple are Nikola Tesla and Levashov.

Organic architecture

There are links to pages for Gaudi and Hundertwasser, who are the most famous organic architects, but there are many more. Rudolph Steiner believed that people needed organic architecture, and decreed that the schools which bear his name should have organic shaped windows.

I found this link by accident, which shows a very interesting desert house.


Gaudi is the artist and architect who made wonderfully organic and amazingly complex designs using mosaic and bright colours. Barcelona is full of his designs, which I little appreciated when I visited there some years ago.

There are some fantastic pictures of his work available around the internet.


Sometimes, you read about an artist, and their life is disappointingly dull, or full of beautiful music and unkind acts. Sometimes, however, an artist rewards one's investigation into their life with rich detail and beliefs consistent with their art. Hundertwasser is a most interesting man, probably more famous for his views and his remedial architecture than for his art.

He believe that people were made sick by uniform environments, and that the secret was to allow people to personalise their windows. His buildings, where every column is different and he used colours and differences to allow people who lived in them to point out their homes, have become tourist attractions in their own right. He called straight lines "the devil's tools".

I thoroughly recommend a study of his life, his thoughts and his creations. I will collect any good links I find for Hundertwasser here.

This is the wikipedia entry for Hundertwasser.

Honest Ponzi

I note a new addition to the Resident Run websites, in the SL forums today. Ponzi Benazzi posts about a new website PonziMoney, and announces new financial products.

I am not sure at this point whether this is an elaborate attempt at satire, or someone who hopes that if he is honest from the outset there is a chance that there will be a group of SL people daft enough to invest money in nothing.

I will watch and wait... knowing that anyone astute enough to peruse my blog will be too clever to fall for this.

Cheap, but not cheerful

There was a furore on SL Exchange yesterday, caused by Anshe Chung's introduction of a few changes on the way that the search works. She was launching her new cut-price range of furniture, and as part owner of SL Exchange thought it was rather a good wheeze to pull all her new items to the top of search.

Several things happened at once: people buying the new 10Lindens range discovered that, contrary to her previous assurances that she would not use Craig Altman's animations full perms, her furniture range contained them full perms, and strangely enough the other sellers on SLX were just a tad peeved that Ms Chung thought it was ok to replace the most popoular items with her bargain basement stuff.

The items were pulled for the perms to be fixed - personally I'd like to know whether her creators of the furniture paid full price for the animations, like the other honest furniture makers in Second Life - and Apotheus calmed the gathering hordes threatening to defect to On Rez, the Sheepish ecommerce rebranding of SLBoutique, by assuring the customers that Ms Chung would no longer come top of every search.

It seems that Ms Chung just found a way to increase the community's dislike of her, managing to offend the creators of Second Life en mass, forgetting that nearly every long-time resident becomes a creator of some sort.

But hey it's all for our own good, as she asserts here, that the new vision of "don't ask the price, it's ten lindens" will be good for us all. I wonder....

Monday, September 3, 2007

A collation of Steampunk links

Weird and wonderful constructions here.

A most pleasing steampunk blog lies here.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys was a diarist from the 17th century, who famously wrote about the Great Fire of London, and is very well known in the UK, but less well known elsewhere, I have found.

He wrote in shorthand and took the precaution of using a strange composite language within the shorthand when describing his encounters with young ladies - although most of that has been decoded.

This is a site about him and his diary.

Nikola Tesla

Interview with Tesla from Pearson's magazine of 1899. Article here.

How to build a tesla coil from trash.

Ancient artefacts

The mysterious spheres of central and south America. An article here.


Welcome to my new blog, which is to be a collection of links to things which interest me, and occasional postings about Second Life.

My intention is to make pages for a variety of subjects, and to add links to those pages as I find - or rediscover - them. I reserve the right to be rude about any government and their outrageous policies, including my own, to preserve freedom of speech and be as eccentric in my choice of subjects as I jolly well please. You've been warned.