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28 July 2005

Seth's obituary

Here is a link to Seth Garwood's obituary in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, including a "guest book" feature where people can leave condolence messages.

Londoners Pay Heavy Price for Blair's Deception

This no-holds-barred polemic against the Iraq war. which does not shrink from calling Bush and Blair war criminals, is on the usually more conservative Newsmax website. I probably would not have put it this strongly, but there really isn't anything I can disagree with in it.

26 July 2005

Last Thursday

Rev. Seth Garwood, the minister of my church in Minneapolis, died quite suddenly and unexpectedly (he was young middle-aged) last Thursday. I was notified by e-mail, for which I am grateful, grateful that we have this e-mail connection which means so much to us absentee members. It is so painful to lose someone suddenly anyway, but when you cannot even grieve, except alone in your house thousands of miles away, it makes it worse, in a way. The only ripple on the www is this obituary on the Methodist Annual Conference website; no picture yet, but I am trying to obtain one.
Whenever I get news of someone dying who was a friend back in Minnesota, it sharply increases my sadness at being separated from that wonderful community of friends I enjoyed there, which is not something I expect ever to experience again in my life. (I can hope, of course.) Anyway, even though I missed the memorial service today, my thoughts and prayers are with my beleaguered little church in Minneapolis, and the family and friends of Seth.

The slowest-motion train wreck in history


The slowest motion train wreck in history is the unfolding horror show of GM technology. (Disclaimer: I am not a Luddite, nor am I opposed to all "tampering with nature", nor am I an ill-informed granola-cruncher with knee-jerk oppostion to "evil GM". This is serious stuff here, and I am quite serious about it.) The reality of GM testing and its commercial deployment is so far from the cynically glib pronouncements of its deluded proponents that it leads one to begin to doubt literally every word they say. They mouth platitudes about careful testing and scientific consensus about safety, when they know that no such things exist or could even be faked up if required. The thing is, they probably won't be required. This is because the main community relations effort of the giant headless chicken corporations that produce the actual GM products consisted of a very effective pre-emptive smear of anyone who opposes GM technology for any reason. Now we have a scenario where they roll out GM rapeseed to a few willing UK farmers (surrounded by a small horde of vociferous protesters and a vast, worried but quiescent public) blandly assuring us that gene transfer to create "superweeds" is a billion-to-one improbability (note the scientific precision of that; they obviously did tests far too sophisticated for us to understand.) Within a mere three years there is the news of the discovery of a GM superweed that herbicides cannot kill. It rates a few anxious paragraphs and the world goes back to its nap. Meanwhile, in the jungles of South America, GM trees are the latest untested and almost unimagineable threat to the vital rainforest.

Last Friday

The fatal shooting of Jean Charles de Menezes. I have been obsessed (a bit) with this ever since the story broke last Friday. DH and I have desultory half-arguments about it; neither of us wants to take a strong position, but he tends to be more forgiving to police (in general) than I am. I am interested in hearing from American bloggers, readers and friends as to how much coverage this gets in the US and what the general opinion is about it.

19 July 2005

Food for thought

"Obesity craze spreads to pigeons." And . . . "Tattoo craze spreads to fruit." These were the twin headlines topping my Kitchen Gardners International Newsletter in the e-mail inbox. Sign of the times, both of them.

17 July 2005

Take the BBC Brainsex quiz

The Brain Sex Quiz will tell you how female your brain is. This is related to a series on the Beeb called Secrets of the Sexes. It's better than the usual dumbed-down science fare on TV. At this site you can also read about the accuracy (or not) of intelligence tests, which celebrities have high IQs and the latest thinking on - um - thinking.

16 July 2005

Blogkeeping - my life

Yesterday I missed work to go and be evaluated at The Priory, Sketchley Hall, in Hinckley. I have been recommended to a great programme they have there called "Functional Restoration". It's basically an intensive get-fit thing that lasts 2 weeks and corrects muscle-and-joint problems that may have been caused by accident, injury or neglect (or all three in my case.)
Today I attended the Nottingham Bookcrossers Meetup at Costa Coffee in Nottingham. I released eight books and caught three. I shopped a little and came home on the train.
Ah, the train. There used to be a direct train from Hinckley to Nottingham but it was discontinued about a month ago. Now, the first leg of my train journey (to home) is generally from Nottingham to Leicester and the second is from Leicester to Hinckley. The second leg is only on Central Trains but the first can be Midland Mainline, which is travelling to London via Leicester. Except not today, because there is a track-side fire outside of Luton, one of the stations it goes through, which "involves gas canisters". Therefore my second train was packed with people trying to get to London. They were bound for the next stop after mine to catch a Virgin Train to London Euston, which does not go through Luton. Everybody was quite cheerful about it; they were just glad it wasn't a bomb.

11 July 2005

WWII Memorial celebrations link past and present for Londoners

The Times and other news sources covered the weekends WWII Memorial events in the same spirit they were presented, somehow simultaneously linking London's present-day terror attacks to the Blitz and the threat of world-wide fascism in the 1940s and still giving superior honour to the veterans of the Second World War. The Queen, the Archbishop of Canterbury and even the veterans themselves all followed the same theme, amidst the flypasts, mass marches and pageantry that the British do so well (dropping millions of poppies from a Lancaster bomber for example, and the seven Books of Remembrance with the names of all the wartime civilian dead).

08 July 2005

In Iraq, as in London

Aslam, of the blog methinks [mythic flow], has a post about his love for NYC, Madrid and London. Then he puts it in perspective, quoting William Rivers Pitt of Truthout, and I nod my head sagely and pass it on:

In Iraq, they call events like this "Tuesday".
(Actually, I would have said "Thursday", but then I didn't think of it, did I?) The Truthout.org editorial goes on to say:
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and wounded in Iraq by way of deadly bombings that have been taking place every single day. These Iraqi people are no different from the Londoners who perished today. Their skin is darker perhaps, and they pray to a different God, but they have families and children and dreams and they die just as horribly as their British counterparts. Yet they earn perhaps a few sentences on the back page of the paper, and virtually no comment from the members of the international community which ginned up the invasion of Iraq in the first place.

07 July 2005

Coverage of London terrorist attacks

There are a number of sources of information about the terrorist attacks in London earlier today. Web sources do not tend to be as up-to-date as the TV and radio, but if you are at work or not near a TV, it may be your best bet. Sky News has a good selection of stuff on the web, including this summary of public transport and traffic conditions. My first checkpoint at work was Google News UK, and although it was a little slow getting the news at first, there is a lot there now. I see from the Guardian that the US has raised the HSA threat level to orange. (It is my perception, by the way, that the British take this sort of thing in stride a lot better than Americans; there is a remarkable air of sang-froid and getting on with it, and not letting the terrorists win by shutting everything down and going into full panic mode.) The Guardian also has a story about the possible perpetrators, and the level of planning that would have been required for this type of attack. The choice of time for the offensive is chillingly brilliant strategy, with the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, in Singapore for the IOC meeting, and much of the nation's security force focused on Gleneagles and the G8 Summit.

05 July 2005

Nightlife - New York in the 70s

This is a smashing collection of photos of New York arty and queer and rock-and-roll society in the 1970s. The photos are all copyrighted by Allan Tannenbaum. I stole this link from Pete. And like he says, these are NOT work-safe pix so look at them late at night in the privacy of your study. Or with an open-minded friend.

Riverbend talks back

Baghdad Burning's point by point reply to George Bush. It's nothing you haven't heard before, but dammit, we just have to keep saying it.

03 July 2005

Blogkeeping

Or not, as the case may be. I have been very remiss, I know. I have just come through a re-organisation of the division of the company I work for. I have "come through" in the sense that I have kept my job, by basically re-applying for it. A number of us were forced to go through a selection process involving tests and interviews. I think about 2/3 of the project team I am on did not make it, which does not bode well for the stress-free completion of the project. This reorganisation was forced upon us by economic necessity, and the management layer was hit at least as hard as the lower tiers, so there is not much point in moaning about it. Still, British people do like a good moan, and redundancies are never painless, so the stress levels have been high and are not going to go down very soon.
We recently took a little day trip to Ludlow, a place I have wanted to visit for a while, because of its foodie reputation. It was nice. We bought some foods. We had company in the house yesterday and overnight. DH made a smashing cassoulet with venison (from Ludlow) and chorizo (from the local supermarket) and flageolet beans and fresh tomatoes. My buffalo wings, made with free-range chicken from Ludlow, got lots of compliments, but were very easy to make. You can read more about Ludlow and our recent food and drink explorations on Deborama's Kitchen.
What with all this going on, I have also had to miss out on a bit of book-crossing activity. The Unconvention in Birmingham is just now drawing to a close, but I missed all of it, as well as the mini-meetup in Beeston two weeks ago. I was sorry to miss both of these events, just as I was getting into the BC spirit. I did manage my first release, a controlled-release to two non-BC friends from the train, of a really wonderful book that DH and I both liked a lot: The Last Family in England. Look for a review at Deborama's Book Reviews soon.

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