Category Archives: Society

Boaty McBoatface: Harmless fun or shameful sign of the times?

I wanted to share this article I found earlier today on Vice and really identified with, The Boaty McBoatface vote makes me ashamed to be British. I’m going through a Luddite phase myself at the moment, the constant connection to the rest of the world is infuriating to me right now, so the writer got me on side before he’d even made the point that society should be ashamed of how, in a vote to name a £200million research ship setting sail in the Antarctic in 2019, Boaty McBoatface came out on top. Second place went to Henry Worsely, after the explorer who died in January this year attempting a solo crossing of the Arctic. After learning of this I felt an overwhelming urge to contact the scientists and researchers that will be sailing on Boaty McBoatface and offer them my sincerest apologies on behalf of the world I live in. I restrained myself, but only because I decided I’d be too embarrassed to identify myself in any sense with that stupid name! I can’t bring myself to comment on this further, the article says it all much better than I could, but this has just confirmed to me that the world my children are growing up in is a ridiculous place, all too full of the stupid and the evil.

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Essential information for ESA claims, assessments and appeals

Politics and Insights

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Essential Information for claims, assessments and appeals. 

There are three essential ideas to keep in mind when claiming Employment Support Allowance (ESA) because of the nature of the ESA50 form, and the fact that Atos are seeking to deny benefits, and NOT assess disability: this will not be a fair investigation of your health issues.

This information needs to be shared widely so people are made aware of them, and can use them when claiming ESA or appealing.

These very helpful ideas are:

  •  Reliably, repeatedly and safely
  •  Exceptional circumstances – Regulations 25 and 31, 29 and 35
  •  Atos assessments and pitfalls – how they try to deceive you

1. Reliably, repeatedly and safely. 

‘Lord’ Fraud made this statement in the House of Lords:

“It must be possible for all the descriptors to be completed reliably, repeatedly and safely, otherwise the individual is considered unable to complete the activity.”

You might…

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Embrace your hunger for creativity: Slip inside my mind for 5 – by Antony Stevenson

You should read “Slip inside my mind for 5” on Wattpad. http://w.tt/1JBtAlL

My boyfriend wrote this today and just reminded me why I love him so much. I had to share and I hope you’ll read it cos it’s funny and honest and brilliant….wpid-wp-1441204288294.jpeg

I really hope someone, even just one person, gets some motivation from this to make the positive changes that will lead them to a fulfilling life. That’s what I strive for every day, at least. I think that natural creativity inside of some people can be a precursor to the addiction issues my boyfriend talks about here, maybe it’s an added sensitivity to our surroundings or maybe we feel too deeply, but if that urge to create isn’t fulfilled then it causes a hole deep within our soul, and eventually that hole can become an open wound. Some of the most intelligent and naturally talented people I have ever met have been addicts. I really believe that if we don’t fill that hole with positive, constructive hobbies then that can lead us to try and fill it with substances or other destructive behaviours; always seeking an external remedy for an internal, spiritual deficiency.

I don’t have any evidence to back up this theory, it’s just something I feel strongly based on my own experiences over the last 10 years, but I’m not alone in coming to this conclusion. I assume that it was a similar train of thought that led my mentor, Gary Staniforth, CEO of The Hidden Homeless and SMART Recovery UK facilitator, to create The Hidden Voices magazine and fill it with inspirational stories, pictures, poems, art of every kind, of people dealing with accommodation or addiction issues, allowing those who feel that they have been forgotten by society the chance to contribute in a meaningful way to something that really matters; shedding light on often misunderstood problems and bringing into focus the humanity behind the derogatory headlines, while also giving an outlet to people who have that drive to create.

Maybe everybody should be creating in some way. Perhaps I’m wrong in thinking that it is only ‘some’ people who have this artistic drive. Perhaps society in general has become so used to buying things cheaply, living in a consumer driven world where everything seems to be disposable, that we all suffer to some degree with feeling that nothing we do can make a difference. Maybe with so much emphasis on money and earning, with so many struggling just to survive, we don’t find the time to express what is inside us, we don’t place enough value on what we can create with our own hands beginning with just an idea and bringing it to fruition driven only by a need inside of us that demands to be met.

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So maybe I am over excited about my boyfriend finally connecting with his creativity again, it certainly isn’t the deepest, most insightful piece he’s ever written, but I know that those words needed to be let out, I know the talent that comes so naturally to him needs to be used, it was given to him for a reason and if he doesn’t use it then he will never be fulfilled. I value any expression of the inner self that is created by anybody just because they needed to get it out. So yes, it means a lot to me to be able to share this with you all. It is the sign I have been desperately waiting for that I have the man I love back with me, that he isn’t going to disappear again if I take my eyes off him, that there is hope.wpid-wp-1439233920356.jpeg

Tortured

#RaifBadawi #FreeRaif #ReadRaif

#ReadRaif
#ReadRaif

The Gad About Town

The cane broke. Isn’t that all we need to know? The switch broke.

Raymond Johansen allowed himself to be tortured yesterday in solidarity with Saudi writer Raif Badawi. He was hit 50 times with a cane in Trafalgar Square, where public corporal punishments were once seen regularly but not since the 1830s. He had difficulty walking after and even expressed confusion as to where he was upon speaking with a reporter.

When a caning is administered it sometimes does not look as severe as one thinks a beating would look; even one of the words we use minimizes the severity: lashes. In writing about the Saudi Arabian writer Raif Badawi, who was sentenced last year to 1000 lashes and 10 years in prison, I have run into this weakness of language. All language is analogy, and I have wanted the analogy to convey the pain of judicial corporal punishment…

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Uchira Children’s Fund

Watch “Esther comes to stay… The first special needs child moved into the childrens village this week…”
John St Julien is a hero.  cropped-header1

He has become a massive inspiration in the way I try to live my life. He runs the charity Uchira Children’s Fund in rural Tanzania, saving children from going into child labour, helping mothers with HIV to support their families, providing  medical, nutritional, and educational support for families living in the kind of tough times that most in the West can’t even imagine. And he looks after stray dogs too!

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He seems such a spiritual person to me. He has a kind of glow around him, an aura of total love and selflessness. 

11:11; John St Julien’s story of synchronisity and consciousness. 

I’ve lost count recently of how how many times I’ve tried to explain my world view to people:

“The corrupt 1% don’t care about the plight of real people, and we can’t make them care, so what we have to do is try to minimise our reliance on the elite and learn to take care of ourselves and our communities. Let the ruling class crack on and we’ll look after each other”

I’ve been trying to get #GlobalCommunity trending for months! Of course I don’t expect everybody to drop their whole lives and move to Africa,  we don’t have to go to that extreme.  We can all follow John St Julien’s example by sharing what we do have with those that are in need. Going out into our community and helping people who are struggling, in whatever way we can manage. We have to learn to share. Society keeps trying to brainwash us into thinking we’re all such special individuals that deserve to spoil ourselves, but what does it matter what shampoo you use when people in the world are starving?  The big corporations will just keep plundering the earth’s resources es, putting profits before people, so it’s down to us to remember that it’s our humanity we need to cherish. What kind of world do you want to leave your children?

Please try to find some time to catch some of John’s amazing videos on YouTube. Here are a few of my top picks:

Child labour, and why school is so important here in Uchira

A lesson in morality…

Why does humanity value pieces of paper over the life of a mother?

Coming to terms with my irrational guilt

When I was 18 I was raped by a friend of my boyfriend.
It is something I very rarely mention, yet think of quite often.

Many rape victims never talk about what happened to them as they feel they are at fault somehow.
Many rape victims never talk about what happened to them as they feel they are at fault somehow.

I like to think I’m doing quite well in my recovery from addiction, and actually consider my relapse last year as a part of the journey, I learned a lot from it. I try to maintain a positive mindset. I go to groups, I’ve made great friends, I work hard to confront my irrational thoughts and beliefs head on in order to understand myself and become a better version of me. I’m a constantly evolving organism, my own masterpiece in the making.

I try to understand how the events in my life have shaped the way I’ve lived in order to take control over how I live now.

I’ve tried to deal with all my open emotional wounds in order to stop myself picking at them little by little and causing deeper scars over time.
And yet, this one event, this trauma, never quite makes its way out. I never quite pluck up the courage to mention it, not to anybody, friends, family, many counsellors over the years. It’s the one taboo I just can’t bring myself to discuss. And I obviously need to. As I said, I think of it often. And it hurts.
So why can’t I deal with it?

The truth will set you free. Talking about any issue is often the first step in overcoming it.
The truth will set you free. Talking about any issue is often the first step in overcoming it.

And then, a few weeks ago, I had a sudden moment of clarity. It happened in the group life coaching I attend weekly. We do a brief check in at the beginning. A girl, I’ll call her Kate, just mentioned when it came to her turn how much the life coaching and the various support services had helped her to learn how to manage her feelings and, in turn, her life. She just dropped it in, in rather a blase way, that she had been raped. The way she said it made it clear that it was a past event that was dealt with and put to bed. Which got me started with this train of thought. Why is my rape not dealt with.? Why can’t I announce it like that? Why is it the one thing I can’t be truly honest and open about?

Because, the answer came to me, I am ashamed and I am embarrassed.

I tried to put into words my new understanding to my partner the next day. Why can I not be as brave as Kate and just declare it with no shame? His response was that I don’t want to be identifying myself as a victim. And this got me thinking even more.

Why am I worrying about how it makes me look when it’s not something I had any say in, it’s something I had no responsibility for?
I’m carrying all this shame about something that was done to me. I’m shouldering the blame for somebody else’s decision to ignore word “stop” and beating myself up for failing to change his mind.

Let's raise our children to respect and understand that no means no!
Let’s raise our children to respect and understand that no means no!

To hear Kate so matter of factly saying “I got raped and struggled to get my head together for a while,” was the catalyst for a huge awakening for me. It seems such a small, simple thing:
“It wasn’t my fault”

And yet it’s taken me 13 years to come to that conclusion. I’m not suddenly ‘over it’, how could I be after battering myself with it for so long? But I understand now why such a painful memory has been walled off and hidden for all this time when other traumatic emotional events that also caused me to feel guilty and ashamed, such as being unable to care for my children and their removal to a family member, or the death by heroin overdose of my best friend and my subsequent arrest, have been plucked out of my head, thrust into the light, discussed and dissected with several friends and professionals throughout the years, until reaching the point where I can think about it and feel the sadness without the onset of anxiety that inevitably leads to me tearing myself apart with one destructive behaviour or another.

I am beginning to truly overcome my obstacles.
I am beginning to truly overcome my obstacles.

So although it will take some time and effort on my part, I can’t help but feel positive about this small break through. Having read up on it, I now know that it is extremely common for people who have been raped to feel this way. Most of us feel that we could have, should have, done something to prevent the attack. Why didn’t I look into this years ago?! By closing myself off to any chance of support, i have been dragging out my suffering all these years. I’ve been letting him win! Well, no more.

What doesn't kill me WILL make me stronger!
What doesn’t kill me WILL make me stronger!

Now that I have been able to find the root of the disturbance that the memory of my rape causes me, I can start to come to terms with it and move forwards a little lighter in my heart. One person’s actions don’t define who I am. I know I can overcome what somebody else did to to me and I know that my journey of recovery from addiction has just been made a little easier to travel because of this knowledge.

And, of course, I would not have been in the right place, emotionally and mentally, to have come to these conclusions, to have taken the rape out of its box and had a good look at why it was still messing me up, if not for the life coaching and the Smart Recovery meetings, provided by The Hidden Homeless. It is thanks to that support in working on myself that I have come this far and feel ready to confront my remaining demons.

Today, I am grateful.

Further reading:

Forum discussion of why the victims of rape feel guilty and ashamed
An interesting article exploring and trying to find a way through these emotions
The Hidden Homeless, without whom I wouldn’t be where I am right now.

SMART Recovery UK
Hidden Homeless, Bradford
Hidden Homeless, Bradford

The Whistleblower’s Bravery

How did we reach the point where it was accepted that the government would keep secrets from us and, as a society, we should vilify anybody who exposed the shady things they saw because they felt so strongly about it being wrong? How did we come to the point where we consider a ‘traitor’ to be someone who tries to protect us from the underhand practises our elected representatives are getting up to on the sly?

These people, the ‘whistleblowers’, should be applauded, should be raised up as the kind of people we want our children to look up to! They know the dangers they face when they decide that they just can’t keep quiet about the things they’re seeing, they know that their lives will change irrevocably but come forward anyway, prepared to give up everything, in order to keep us informed of the realities of our world.

When did our own governments become the devil?
When did our own governments become the devil?

I remember seeing a documentary where Edward Snowden said to journalists, and I’m paraphrasing as I don’t have it in front of me so I can’t quote directly but the gist was, “Paint the target firmly on my back, nail me to the cross so the people that helped me gather this information aren’t in danger.”

These are brave people, heroes.

And look at how they are treated. Publicly denounced, loudly and often, as traitors to their country by the bought and paid for media puppets.

Matt Dehart’s poor parents must be heartbroken that their son is being tortured by the government of the country he grew up in for daring to speak the truth. Their pride beams through in this Cryptosphere.com article, as it should, they raised a brave, honest boy. They must be devastated to know what he has been through while waiting for trial. His speaking out hasn’t only had a huge effect on his life though, his parents are having to live in Canada, and they can’t get jobs as they, too, are considered traitors. But, when asked if they still managed to feel pride in their son after all the trouble his honesty has brought to their lives, they had this to say:

“Even more so. His resilience and faith in the face of incredible pressure is inspiring to both Leann and I. Thankfully we are able to spend some time on the phone talking to him each day. He tries to lift our spirits and those around him in his basement cell in
Kentucky. We are proud that he is not willing to bow to pressure to plea to false charges.
Pretrial detention in the US is designed to break down a citizen’s will so that he/she will accept whatever the government offers as a plea bargain. It is coercive and dehumanizing by design. The US Constitution specifically forbids cruel and unusual punishment. The current system in the US unfortunately is not unusual since it is country-wide, but it is still cruel. And, compared to all but a few countries like N. Korea, the US prison industrial system is indeed unusually cruel. Europeans would be outraged at any similar system within their own countries – Thank God.”

This is not how democracy is supposed to work. Whistleblowers are treated in such a disgusting manner, risking their lives to speak out, facing worse prison sentences than murderers and rapists and being banned from using a computer.

This is nonsense. We should be backing them all the way. If we’re all standing up and speaking out, if society as a whole shouts out the message that all this secrecy and lies coming from our governments is unacceptable, then they can’t lock us all up, they can’t torture everybody.

We have to start forcing them to make changes now, before it’s too late.

If you’d like to read more about hacktivism and ordinary people fighting back, then checkout these links:

Facebook censors news of #Anonymous Sweden hacking NSA

Facebook censorship
People got a shock when they tried to share the Pastebin link to the NSA hack details and it soon disappeared off their Facebook.

An interesting article looking at the morality of hacktivism

The efforts of activists to fight against TTP

The Cryptosphere

Matt Dehart via Anony_Mia on Twitter Matt Dehart via Anony_Mia on Twitter

This is another in the ongoing series on Enforced Transparency by Raymond Johansen and Kitty Hundal, featured here on the Cryptosphere as well as their own site, HacktivistCulture, with related articles on the Fifth Column News, and HackRead. This article focuses on an interview with the parents of accused hacker, former Anon, and former US soldier Matt DeHart.

EnfoorcedTransparency_Illustration2WHISTLEBLOWING IS  TRANSPARENCY

This article, the fourth in the series, is one of the pillars of the concept of Enforced Transparency. Currently the news is filled with reports about the Trident whistleblower, William McNeilly, from the UK. We will talk about that – and focus on the sheer braveryof whistleblowers and the hardships these heroes endure. We will talk to the parents of accused hacktivist Matt DeHart to try to understand how this issue affects not only the one enforcing transparency, but…

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Why I Love Being Me

I love this post, as soon as I read it I knew I had to reblog!

I wish I had felt like this growing up. I was a wreck as a kid. I didn’t fit in. I didn’t trust myself not to say something stupid in front of people that I thought were much cooler than me, which was basically everyone. I was a complete try-hard and I got it wrong every time. I didn’t know who I was so I tried to be all thing to all people and I messed it up.BodyImageInfographic-1self_esteem

And now I have daughters.

I have nightmares about them going through school feeling the way I did. I try so hard to instil them with confidence, to explain the importance of being yourself without caring what anybody thinks. When I look back, the ‘popular’ kids at school were the ones who had enough confidence in themselves to act naturally. They never stuttered when they tried to talk in a group, they never blushed when asked a question in class, they never tried too hard.

But how to explain that to young girls whose whole lives revolve around what people think and how they are portraying themselves? I was trying to explain about the effect being confident has on the image you portray to those around you to my 12 year old daughter recently. Her reply, “Mum, nobody acts like that, that’s how you end up being bullied”. I think my heart broke.

I struggled at school. But at least I got to leave my try-hard self behind when I got off the school bus and could just be myself when I got home. Now, kids have smartphones that keep them constantly connected to their peers. They have Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and however many others I’m too old to have a clue about. And every single thing they post is scrutinised by everyone they know, or an attempt to reach the notice of those they want to know. Every thought they have and every picture they take is an effort to bolster their image.

So I found the post below so refreshing to read. The op is obviously quite young, probably not much older than my daughters, and it’s so comforting to see that some kids are coming through this minefield unscathed. I hope my girls learn this confidence much sooner than I did.

I’m only just coming to terms with the fact that I’ve been worrying myself sick for years over something that just does not matter. I love who I am. Nobody else’s opinion matters!love_yourself

If somebody else thinks I’m being stupid, so what? If I’m feeling boisterous and skipping down the street chatting to Charlie, my Staffie, or singing loudly along to Muse while playing air drums, then I’m expressing my contentment and feeling good, and I probably look a complete tit to anyone that sees me, but so what?

Happiness - Aristotle
Happiness is a choice we make, and it takes the same amount of work as misery. Make the right choice!

I suppose I have to accept that this isn’t something I can teach my daughters. They’ll have to come to the realisation that they are just fine exactly how they are in their own time, just like I did. I can bolster their confidence, praise their intelligence and wit, and make sure they know they are loved more than life, but ultimately they have to develop that self-love for themselves.

I only hope they don’t suffer in the learning as much as I did.

mychemicalflossie

Hey guys!

I recently noticed that most people hate certain things about themselves, or wish they were someone else. With me, I don’t. I believe that what I have makes me, me.I may not be the prettiest girl in the world, I may not have the nicest personality, I may be weird, odd, etc, but I am me.

I am a lot more comfortable doing what I want, rather than what the people around me think I should do. I hate dresses with a passion, and am a lot more comfortable in a tux. I HATE makeup, and am a lot happier without it. I am not girly at all. I don’t run around lusting after attractive people. I don’t keep myself in a shell so I don’t embarrass myself. I will laugh when I throw the ball in the complete opposite direction it’s meant to go in PE…

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