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speechless. [30 Jan 2009|09:49am]
"The tragedy of Gaza is not Israel, it is Hamas," the Israeli leader said.

"Why did they fire rockets? There was no siege against Gaza. Why did they fight us, what did they want? There was never a day of starvation in Gaza."

Shimon Peres said these words at Davos and he was applauded by the audience. I am absolutely speechless that he could lie so blatantly and be applauded for it. Are this world's leaders living a collective delusion? This is even more Orwellian than listening to any of Bush's speeches.
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[26 Jan 2009|01:10pm]
I am so angry with the BBC that I am even having trouble listening to Radio 4. They are claiming impartiality while sending out a clear political message: that giving humanitarian aid to Palestinians is "taking sides" and that Israelis are somehow suffering to an equal extent, but being discriminated against. It is blatant hypocrisy and feeds one of the most pernicious myths about this conflict: that any supporters of Palestinian grievances are automatically opposed to Israel and its people, and so that to be perceived to support any aspect of the Palestinian cause, even now to the extent of providing humanitarian aid, will lead to assumptions of opposition to Israel and its people absolutely.
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everyone should have to read this article [20 Jan 2009|09:17am]
From the Guardian today: Amid dust and death, a family's story speaks for the terror of war

They left behind their own unique detritus: bullet casings, roasted peanuts in tins with Hebrew script, a plastic bag containing a "High Quality Body Warmer", dozens of olive-green waste disposal bags, some empty, some stinking full - the troops' portable toilets.

But most disturbing of all was the graffiti they daubed on the walls of the ground floor. Some was in Hebrew, but much was naively written in English: "Arabs need 2 die", "Die you all", "Make war not peace", "1 is down, 999,999 to go", and scrawled on an image of a gravestone the words: "Arabs 1948-2009".
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[05 Nov 2008|12:29pm]
I just want to say:

I'm very happy for America today.

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[07 Apr 2007|11:07am]
It's not often that I feel a desire to defend the military against press criticism, but I'm really finding commentators' reactions to the whole Iran hostage debacle to be rather outrageous. They keep banging on about how Britain has been shamed, and how the soldiers captured just weren't brave enough. Even the Guardian is at it, in this article where a columnist wonders "whatever happened to only divulging one's name, rank and number."

Really, isn't it enough that the poor sods escaped alive from a situation like that? Who wouldn't make an obviously fake confession on TV if you thought it would preserve your life? What harm did it really do? Only a few over-sensitive hacks and nationalists have been harmed by this perceived "shame" that has been inflicted on Britain by the Iranians and the wretched sailors they captured.

Ugh, I hate newspapers.
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[11 Jan 2007|12:10am]
Whee, back to college tomorrow! Yay! So excited.

Too excited to sleep, damn it.
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[27 Nov 2006|11:01pm]
Holy room party, I can't believe I've just invited 40 people to my place for a Christmas do. My room can't even fit that many people! On top of that I've undertaken to provide (with my co-host Ruth) hot chocolate for all and an industrial quantity of home made brownies. This has entirely got out of hand!
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[30 Sep 2006|11:06pm]
Sometimes I wonder how I can remain so unemotional at certain things.

"After five years, the United States-led international reconstruction mission has failed Afghanistan and its people. An all-military approach and aggressive poppy crop eradication strategies led by the US and the United Kingdom have triggered a hunger crisis and accelerated the return of the Taliban in southern Afghanistan. The US and the UK are responsible for these humanitarian and security crises, which make Afghanistan a renewed menace for its own people and the world."

- Senlis Council report on Afghanistan and the return of the Taliban.

Their figures suggest that more than 70% of the Afghan population is chronically malnourished. I daresay most people are aware that Iraqis are dying daily in an American war (whatever they like to call it -- a war, an occupation, a peacekeeping operation) but Afghanistan is conveniently under the radar and Osama makes a one-man justification for occupation. Many Iraqis have limited medical resources and many Afghans have none.

I'm as afraid of terrorism as the next girl; I'm a Londoner and a regular user of public transport, I know it could happen. But I don't think I could give a toss about the war on terror when counter-terrorism operations are given priority over a starving population. Poppy eradication is even less justifiable.

I still have trouble comprehending how governments can allow starvation to occur when most developed countries have a great surplus of food, but for Coalition forces to be aggravating it in one of the poorest countries of the world is just mind-boggling.
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[28 Sep 2006|06:36pm]
So the haircut that I was so nervous about (I have an irrational fear of hairdressers) turned out looking mysteriously like other haircuts I've had. New hairdresser, fashionable Camden salon (picked due to half price offer), informed attractive hairdresser that he could do whatever he thought appropriate to my hair, and ...

Tadah!Collapse )

Nice, but suspiciously like my last haircut (which was a third of the price).
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[27 Sep 2006|04:47pm]
So, the other day I managed to drag myself out of bed early enough to walk the dog with TAP.

Photos of Finsbury Park looking uncharacteristically beautiful. And Bess.Collapse )

I'm usually too lazy to keep up with Juan Cole's "Informed Comment" blog on Middle Eastern affairs, but what he says about the leaked intelligence report is just right.
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[27 Aug 2006|01:16pm]
I think I'm becoming too lazy to write anything in this LJ. I shall just provide photos.

Photos! Norway trip.Collapse )

Unfortunately when I am let loose with a digital camera I am prone to using it purely for entertainment, which may result in um, stupid photos. Like staircases and candlewax. But well, I kinda like them, otherwise I wouldn't be uploading them.
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[12 Aug 2006|11:28pm]
Mr Howells told BBC News 24 the letter's comments were "facile".

Well, I'm not usually one to wildly accuse the BBC of bias, but ... woah. Say what?

Kim Howells came out with the most appallingly offensive and arrogant comments yet the BBC manages to make it sound like he's making a legitimate argument against a letter expressing crazy extremist views from some wackos. Yeah, "facile" views that happen to have been held for a long time by a huge number of people, most of whom are not Muslims.

The 'facile' letterCollapse )

Okay, after simply being hopping mad on hearing what Kim Howells said (he has definitely lost all the brownie points he previously gained for contradicting Blair over Lebanon) I can now reflect that for a government minister to be lashing out like this they must be feeling pretty desperate over their position in public opinion.

I still have trouble comprehending how they can create such a fantasy world and not be called on it.

Anyway, am off to Norway tomorrow, Stansted permitting. Yay!
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[09 Aug 2006|10:01pm]
After a lengthy absence due to various travel-related reasons, I am back!

With photos.Collapse )

Admittedly I've only got as far as uploading my Japan photos from the first two weeks of my Trip (I think it deserves a capital letter) but I think the Japan section of the Trip was very photo dense compared to the rest. In fact in the latter stages there was a slight impediment to the taking of photos, ie. my camera got stolen.

More of the photos are here on my Flickr account -- clicky the Japan 06 set to see them in chronological order.
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[21 Mar 2006|11:39am]
Because I'm being anal and keeping a record of all the books I read this year ...Collapse )

In other news, we now have a dog. (!) Her name is Bess (renamed from the quite unsuitable Trixie) and she is a six and a half year old German Shepherd. She has short black fur, big ears, and a slender build but considerable strength. She's pretty insecure -- she was picked up as a stray and rehomed once before from Battersea Dogs' Home, but had to be returned after a couple of weeks because of her destructive behaviour when her owner was working. Luckily there is someone around in our house most of the time, and TAP has the time, patience and experience to train her out of the separation anxiety.

Other than chewing things up when left alone (she's already mangled a coat hanger) she is a friendly and laid-back dog, who so far has been very well-behaved with every person and dog she has met. We got her on Saturday so it's early days, but apart from puking on the living room carpet after stealing a whole bag of doggy treats she hasn't been any trouble. I'll have to take some photos this week to show her off! Though she's looking a little funny because she's got alopecia around her eyes and on her snout -- the vet thinks it's just from stress, so hopefully her fur will grow back when she settles in and she will be a bit prettier.

I suddenly feel that I am in great need of Urban Decay's mineral foundation, but I'm wondering whether it's a bit silly for me to invest in something like that when I'm buggering off to go on a 4.5 month backpacking trip in two weeks time. Do I give into impulse and buy it now? Will I use it if I take it with me? Will it go off if I leave it at home for that length of time? Will I have the money to buy it when I come back? Will I be a new person when I return, unconcerned by such petty things as foundation? Oooh but I want it! Now!
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[14 Feb 2006|05:00pm]
Note to self: must walk past Starbucks more often. They give out free samples. Mm, vanilla latte this morning. Not my thing really, but it tasted good because I didn't pay for it.

I've worked out that I'm probably going to have to have seven injections before I leave. One typhoid booster, three hepatitis B jabs and three rabies jabs. I decided against Japanese encephalitis, it seems to be very rare amongst travellers and it's spread by mozzies which hopefully I will try to avoid. I'll be on malaria medication (I expect) but some strains are resistant, so I'll have to be careful about mosquitoes anyway.

On the other hand, lots of people get bitten by dogs and other animals. I read that one in ten Bangkok dogs is rabid. Having the jabs beforehand (even if they are expensive -- £100 it could be) means that after being bitten you have a little more time to get to a hospital and you only need two more injections, as opposed to five if you haven't previously been vaccinated. And one of those is a serum injection (not that I know what that means or anything) which can often be administered incorrectly or cause allergic reactions due to being poor quality. Having the rabies jabs first will give me, as they say, a bit more peace of mind. Anyway, having a course of two jabs after being bitten would be much less of a disruption to my trip than having to plan five jabs.

Thankfully these days they don't administer rabies injections into the stomach ...

Funnily enough, I also seem to have rather a lot of money to spend on this trip. This is good and bad. Good because I won't need to worry about having a good time; bad because now I know I could probably afford to stay longer and it seems like such a short time! After deducting my planned budget for while I'm actually away and the projected cost of my travel insurance, I will have £750. Knock off £200 for medical costs, another £200 for stuff to buy before I go (both of those are generous estimates, I think) and that's still £350. If Laos and Cambodia turn out to be as cheap as Corinne suggested, then I will more than likely be leftover with more than that £350 (though I might overspend on Japan). I'll have to decide at the time, but if I'm still having fun I guess I could extend my stay by another two weeks, to say the end of August. Of course, that'll only leave a month for my pre-university reading (therefore mightily pissing off TAP) but meh. It doesn't seem so important in the grand scheme of things.

*v. excited*

Currently reading: The Constant Gardener, by John le Carre
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[09 Feb 2006|08:16pm]
I feel like such a damn hippy. I've joined naturalliving, started cleansing my face with olive oil, and bought a menstrual cup. Someone stop me before I begin wearing gipsy skirts ... ? At least when I buy stuff from Lush I can be fashionably ethical, but I think I'm just being a hippy now.

The olive/castor oil mix that I use to clean my face is great, though. I really feel like pimping it out to everyone. Oil! On your face! It cleans! I even bought a little pumpy bottle thing today to keep my mixture in. My skin still feels nice enough in the morning that I only clean it once in the evening -- I don't feel like there's loads of grease I have to take off when I wake up like I usually do.
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[27 Jan 2006|09:46am]
I've been thinking a bit about religion. I suppose it's part of my trying to establish a personal philosophy; I'm frustrated that I don't seem to have anything but the vaguest and flimsiest principles. The truth is I can't argue my way out of a paper bag at the moment, and this needs to be remedied. It's also been prompted by reading The Heart Must Break -- I still admire James Mawdsley for what he did in Burma, but he writes a lot about his Christianity and it has made me think a little.

This is all rather long and awfully boring if you're not me, so to be honest just don't click on this cut. I mean it. It's a 2000 word incoherent ramble.Collapse )

Also, time-wasting amusement (link nicked from sunlit_shadows): I Used to Believe.

I recently discovered the awesomeness of Wikimedia. I knew that Wikipedia was pretty damn cool, but there's a whole load of other wiki stuff that they do -- I love it! I love the concept behind it, it's really amazing that they're trying to build something communally for everybody to share.
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[25 Jan 2006|09:21am]
Another empty day of working, whee. Three months and three weeks down, only two months and one week to go.

Hannah has started a blog for her travels: Hanoi Hannah. I'm delighted to find that I am featured in the first entry, although I'm also impressed to read that according to Jack, Hannah is going to land in Vietnam "like Mary Poppins in a jungle".

I'm very pleased to discover that the picnic has been featured in today's Time Out as 'Demo of the week' complete with a bear suit photo of the Teddyblairs' Picnic we had in November. They are predictably inaccurate (journalists are so annoying like that) but not un-amusingly -- they describe how 20 life size teddy bears tried to storm Parliament. Sadly it wasn't quite that exciting, we only had one life size teddy bear (as you can see in the photo) and it was the ordinary teddy bears who stormed Parliament (quite successfully I might add -- some even made it over the railings).

Cecile who did the lovely photographic project on the picnic says she's doing prints at the moment to give to people, so I'm v. excited about that. I don't know whether she's going to give me a complete set of prints or just a copy of the portrait, but either way I'll be very happy. Not to seem like a narcissist, but I love the portrait she did of me -- hey, nice photos of me are few and far between! It's here. Actually, Cecile just gave me a CD with loads of picnic photos on it and there's a version of that photo with me smiling, which is quite nice. I look so serious there!

To carry on in the 'look at me!' vein there is a very cool video of the picnic this sunday where you can glimpse me peeling a banana. It's all pretty funny.

I've started spending a bit of time at work learning Thai, though so far I'm finding it thoroughly intimidating. I mean, tonal language?! Tones are scary. The alphabet is also scary. I have the attention span of a carrot, I'm not sure how far I'm going to get with this.

My reading has been going reasonably well, though. After a slightly boring start to the year I've got onto quite an interesting book about Burma.

#1 The Complete Theory Test & The Highway Code

Surprisingly easy to get through, and easy to learn.

#2 Introducing Chomsky

The linguistics part was more or less incomprehensible to me, and the politics part seemed far too cursory to be of much interest. I learned one or two interesting things, particularly about linking his linguistic theory to his political philosophy, but in general in was quite unsatisfying. Must remember to dispatch it back to Tiggers.

#3 Backpack, by Emily Barr

If I look at it objectively it was really a bit crap, a funny melange of chick lit, travel book and murder mystery. I'm the most obtuse reader in the world and I still guessed who the killer was half-way through! On the other hand, I still enjoyed it. Well, I liked Bridget Jones so it's not too surprising ...

#4 Thinks, by David Lodge

Quite a bit of sex and an awful lot of science -- the mystery of consciousness, actually. Amusing and quite well written if nothing to rave about. The science part went over my head (as usual) but the characters were well drawn and the format interesting.

#5 The Heart Must Break -- The Fight for Democracy and Truth in Burma, by James Mawdsley

Is what I'm currently reading. Acquired through one of my book exchanges (ooh I looove that website, I've received so many books now) and definitely interesting. It's a description of the author's experiences living with ethnic minorities on the Thai-Burmese border and his experiences campaigning for democracy in Burma -- he was arrested and convicted several times, tortured by the Burmese authorities and spent over a year in jail there. When I read the reviews on Amazon the readers appeared to be quite divided -- I can certainly see how Mawdsley could get up your nose; he's religious and could be seen as rather self-righteous. Personally I don't find that too irritating, because in the end he's just passionate about making a difference, and his belief that doing what you can is enough is quite inspiring. Particularly when so many people's excuses for not participating in political activity (of the conventional or unconventional kind) are that it is simply not possible to change anything.
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[10 Jan 2006|11:34am]
...! I am distinctly upset. They're introducing bendy buses on my favourite bus route! The bus route that I take every day to work, and frequently on the weekend too! 14 January 2006 will be a sad, sad day. I like double deckers. :(

Also, I am slightly creeped out by how I was informed of this change. I've never received an email from Transport for London before, ever. The only way I can think that they have my email address is from when I registered my Oyster card, but I've had my Oyster card for about six months now and I've never heard anything from them. I mean, they must have implemented plenty of changes to buses and tubes since then, and I haven't received any kind of bulletin from them, until now when I suddenly receive information which is extremely pertinent to my public transport use. So they're using the information on my Oyster card about what journeys I make to send an email which is relevant to me. Useful in one aspect, but creepy in another.
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Movie meme from zachadams [23 Dec 2005|12:35pm]
Just to kill time ... only 24 minutes of work left.

Put an X by the movies you've seen. If you get more than 70, you have no life.

Damn awful movie list, I'm embarrassed to say I've seen as many of these as I have.Collapse )

Grand Total: 51

In other news, it seems Thai Airways have finally published their youth rates, so I can go buy my plane tickets this afternoon. Scary!
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