Monthly archives: September 2006

Heavensent 11.8

“What must it be like to live without a ceiling?” Sayeed mused. The man who had once been BoyChild floated in front of the viewing screen and studied the land mass he believed had once been called Africa. There were scars on the land that might once have been cities, each ringed by settlements of shining salvage.

Sayeed’s two wives, their spare husband and his male companion studied the screens and oversaw the orbital alignment. “We can go down and see. After we’ve adjusted to Earth normal and screened for disease and toxins. And when MareeSelst has given birth, of course.” The former YoungLady was spreadeagled upside down, relative to the others. The freefall was her idea, to alleviate the discomfort she remembered from her last pregnancy.

“We’re getting messages at last. Translation is working on it, but it looks like equal numbers of threats and invitations.” SeelYa, previously GirlChild, announced.

“No open hostility? No weapons active?”

“Not that we can detect.”

“Let’s send in the clones.”

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Lots and lots and lots of fire!

It’s been very hard to edit down the pictures from last night at the Installation de Feu. Fire’s just so damn photogenic.

I don’t want to sound like Jeremy Clarkson here, but it was really surprising, in this litigation happy age, to see so many naked flames with no barriers to stop us going right up to them. There was a sign on the gate that said, I swear, “Fire is hot and may burn” or similar, but that was it.

We came in from the Yew Tree Road side of the park, so the Shakespearean Gardens were our first port of call. I think this was better than if we’d come in from Wilmslow Road. As neat as the gardens were, I think they would have been something of an anti-climax if we’d come to them after looking at everything else.

Centre piece of the show, for us anyway, were the three big globes of burning pots. We got up close enough to touch the frame and find out they swayed a little (but not touch the pots, we’re not that silly).

Moving round there were more pretty fire sculptures, big bunsen style chimneys and the band, who were quite good in an avant jazz kind of a way. All their instruments were hung from the tree they were playing under.

The back wall of the park had garlands of burning pots strung from it. Not as spectacular as the burning balls, but quite pretty nonetheless. Someone seemed to have hung their vests out to dry, lit from the inside by candles.

And then we were drawn back to the burning globes. It had started raining and the hundreds of tiny pops as raindrops hit burning wax and boiled off sounded like a waterfall. I experimented with exposure times and got some interesting images.

Then, all too soon, it was time to leave. The steward wouldn’t let us take a pot home, so we sulked.

Installation de Feu is on tonight and tomorrow. If you’re in Manchester forget any other plans and go to see it. You will not regret it.

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Heavensent 11.7

“You are not one of the ones who found this mysterious ship are you.” Jayn was getting used to the way the tale was being told.

“No. That was seven generations ago. Seven generations before we set out, at least. Our journey will have taken another two or three.”

“This giant space ship. Was it one of the ‘Seeds’ that didn’t leave the solar system?”

“It was. They stripped it of technology and learnt everything they could from it. Thousands of years had passed from the days when Earth’s civilisation collapsed. They learnt all about the water wars, the resource wars and finally the space wars. There were other Rocks in the asteroid belt, and they joined forces. Explored all the other planets and found survivors on them as well. It was a bit easier to survive in a dome on a planet’s surface than in a cave cut in some piece of rock.

“Eventually, they decided they had to go back to Earth, to see what had become of the civilisation that had stranded their forefathers out in space millennia before.”

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More wrong wedding presents- pole dancing

Peekaboo pole dancing pole

Further to the things not to put on a wedding wishlist from Amazon, here’s another gift idea.

Pole dancing is great exercise, which is obviously the only reason you would buy the Kitten-Kit Pole Dancing Pole (aff). There are three sizes of pole to choose from, based upon your ceiling height rather than anything else. To set the pole up you need to find a joist (a stud finder is recommended, and always useful for innuendo afterwards) and attach the chrome socket. The rest of the pole kit folds away for storage or removal when your parents are visiting.

If you rent, or want to take your pole on the road, the Peekaboo Pole Dancing Pole (aff) might be more your style. Again you’ll have to find a joist to brace against and this one won’t allow more extreme manoeuvres, but it’s cheaper and more portable.

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100 Things – editing the Things

Having reinstated the 100 Things list I have decided to remove some of the ideas- and call for suggestions to replace them- and edit others.

8. Take part in a foursome

According to the Purity Test, a foursome is an orgy. So this has been removed as a duplicate Thing.

10. Make it into the Popdex (and/or Blogdex) top 100

This one isn’t being removed as such, it’s just that with Digg etc. it’s not such a static target. Maybe it should now be “Rank highly on a top link popularity site.” or something.

12. Make a living from writing

Is now “Make a living from Spinneyhead.”

72. Do roman chariot racing with big fat men in place of horses

Because it’s just silly. It’s dropped.

Actually, that was fewer than I thought I’d be removing. I must be feeling more optimistic than when I resurrected the list. That’s only two new Things that are required. Suggestions in the comments please.

Whilst I’m on the subject, a lot of work was put into the Perfect Sex Toy design only to find companies bringing out products with our desired features. Now, if you’re not so geeky that you have no free USB ports, you can get a simple USB powered massager (affiliate link) for use at the keyboard. It’s just a simple on/off device with no way to tie it to your activity, but it’s a start.

(Bonus affiliate links- I Rub My Duckie, Ernie’s favourite toy gone naughty, and I Rub My Devil Duckie, which is the same product with added horns.)

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Heavensent 11.6

There was only one suit on the ship, but that didn’t matter. They had passed through an airlock and been dragged down to a docking platform. The external sensors were deployed and detected a steadily rising oxygen concentration. There was the slightest shudder and a growing sense of something pushing them back into their seats. The detritus and discarded odds that they’d stopped noticing arced to the floor.

“It’s starting to rotate. We’ll have gravity soon.” YoungLady announced.

“I hope it doesn’t go higher than we can take.” JonPaul replied, “Rock normal is a bit lower than Earth.”

After a while BoyChild stood, wincing at the extra effort. “What’s the atmosphere like?”

“A little thin, but breathable.” GirlChild answered.

“I’m going out.” The others shrugged. After a moment they followed him.

The airlock was cramped for four. They held their noses and blew to keep their ears from popping. When the outer door opened they were greeted by dry, oily air. The step had to be hand cranked. JonPaul did this as quickly as he could, because BoyChild was leaning out and ready to jump.

The hangar was huge. A greater proportion of lights worked inside the ship than on its hull, but still they couldn’t illuminate all the dark corners. JonPaul felt a strange agoraphobia. They’d just crossed vast empty distances in space, but when he was inside anything he was used to it being a small packed box.

There were other ships in the hangar, larger and sleeker than their little Search vessel. However, they also had the dead look of abandoned technology. Large square pillars stood beside each craft, no doubt conduits for power, fuel and information when the hangar was properly functioning. The Search ship had been put down next to a free pillar. A section of the pillar detached itself and swung out. Everyone jumped and emitted cries of surprise.

The flat panel swivelled out and down to their level on a ball-jointed arm. There was a slight buzz, then the panel went a flat grey, casting an odd light on them. Symbols started to appear on the screen.

“More Old.” BoyChild pronounced.

“Can you read it?”

“No…. No…. Yes. I can read that bit there.”

“What does it say?”

“Welcome.” BoyChild tapped the screen on the word he recognised. The other symbols faded away and another message appeared in the dialect BoyChild had recognised. “Welcome to… the sayeed number… Umm, I was never much good with numerics, err, one.. three… three. Tetra… forming and colour… nigh…. sayshon ship.” BoyChild tapped the screen again. The message scrolled upwards and another appeared. “Please. Go after… the… guide.”

There was a beep. They looked down at the floor below the screen, where a small box on tracks had quietly placed itself. The screen folded back into the pillar and a light started flashing on the Guide’s back as it rolled away.

JonPaul scratched his head. “You know, children, I think you’re going to deserve real names before this day is out.”

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This satire needs lubricant

The George Bush buttplug. There’s nothing I can say. So here’s some copy from the website.

This President will really f*** you up the butt. You’re already familiar with the sensation, so why not REALLY FEEL IT with our exclusive Presidential Pooper Plug. Invade an Iraqi, an Afghani, or at even an Iranian when you want. With this fat headed, huge stub of a plug no ass is safe anywhere.

Made of 100% silicone with 4″ of useable length and a head 1-1/2″ in diameter, this butt plug will issue a 110% American ass drubbing. A 2-3/4″ base prevents the little prick from digging in without a timetable for withdrawal.

via Fleshbot

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Heavensent 11.5

Note Two updates today because I forgot to post yesterday’s.

An hour out, the hulk said hello. YoungLady detected vibration in the rubbish accreted on its surface, dislodging dust and rocks. Then lights began blinking on and off. So many had been incapacitated over the years that it took some moments to discern the pattern- a ripple of light converging on a point where a section of the hull was sliding open slowly.

“I think it wants to invite us in.” JonPaul commented.

“Should we? It could be a trap.”

“GirlChild, we’re not returning to the Rock unless there’s something in there worth returning with. If we don’t go in we’re doomed. If we do, who knows?”

The ship only had the most rudimentary of automatic navigation aids. It pulled them up a set distance from the huge vessel, close enough that it more than filled the forward view, and JonPaul had to edge it along and into the bay opened for them. The youngsters shut up whilst he nudged the control stick and reoriented the craft.

“What’s that?” GirlChild asked, pointing out of a side window.

“It’s…… Not random.” YoungLady asserted, twisting around to view it from another angle. “I think it’s markings. A name or affiliation.”

“It’s in Old.” BoyChild said, “One of the dialects of Old. I was best in my class at Old.”

“Can you read it?”


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The day I shot Tony Blair

The incident’s a few years old, dating back to August 2003 (original post), but deserves reposting-

What’s a boy to do.
Courtesy of the nice ladies on the Friends of the Earth stall and PocketPM. I had a little Tony Blair hanging on to my bag.

But I was bored, so we headed over to the funfair, where there was one of those air rifle stalls. “If I pay for the pellets, can I shoot the Prime Minister?” I asked, holding up Tony.
“Errrr. Yeah. Of course you can.”
So Tony went into the little place holder for the paper targets, and I lined up my shots.

Click the thumbnail for the full picture

One just below the heart (well he is a politician, it’s a very small target) and one through the tie. “Shoot him in the nether regions.” the stall holder suggested, great minds thinking alike.
Then I started aiming for the grin, but it magically deflected the pellets and the next three shots went through his left eye.

The pocketPM people want you to send in pictures of your Tony, but I think this one would just get them in trouble.
And the Armed Response Range Rover seemed to be following us around after that as well……..
Marillion, Assassing

I went into town today to photograph stuff going on around the conference. However, my camera was having battery issues again, so I could only get shots on my camera phone. I traced the security perimeter, occasionally stopping to snatch a shot and all the time hoping I didn’t look too suspicious.

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Heavensent 11.4

The object was almost as large as the Rock. BoyChild had seen something in the shape that didn’t seem normal. It wasn’t until they were five hours out that his suspicion was justified. “That’s a ship, under all that.” GirlChild announced.

“I thought it was another Rock, an abandoned habitat, maybe.” BoyChild crowded into the monitor. She pushed him away a distance. Recent intimacy was no reason to hog her space. “I’m going to tell JonPaul.”

“I’m on open circuit. I can hear you. Tell me more.”

“It’s like a big…. thing.” A dark look from GirlChild shut BoyChild up.

“It’s about twenty measures shorter than the Rock. There’s asteroid accretion on the surface but you can see a metal skin below it. We haven’t managed to get any indications if it’s hollow or where there might be locks or entrances.”

“Have you tried messaging?”

“Well, erm, no.”

“Try it. I’ve heard of long dead hulks lighting up at a simple ‘hello’.”

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MPs' Green press releases- energy review edition

It’s been a while since the last one of these, so something of a bumper crop. The press releases have been reproduced in full, with most of the spelling and punctuation mistakes left in (I think I deleted one of a pair of full stops). Some of them are out of date as they refer to the Lib-Dem conference last week. None, it appears,mention this week’s Labour Party conference here in Manchester.


Conwy MP Betty Williams is supporting the International Fund for Animal Welfare’s campaign to save endangered species from the deadly trinket trade – by pledging not to buy wildlife souvenirs when travelling abroad.

Every year, Customs agents seize thousands of illegal wildlife items, many of them tourist souvenirs made from endangered or threatened species, which are protected by international law.

A YouGov survey carried out for IFAW and published recently reveals that, alarmingly, as many as 600,000 people have returned to the UK from holidays abroad with wildlife souvenirs, including elephant ivory, in the past five years.

In South Africa, IFAW researchers discovered a thriving trade in wildlife souvenirs, including ivory carvings, porcupine quills and sharks’ teeth, many of which are being sold illegally to British and other foreign tourists. IFAW warns that the wildlife souvenir trade is having a devastating impact on animal welfare as well as the conservation of endangered species.

IFAW campaigner Nikki Kelly said: “Tourists need to remember that if they don’t buy, animals won’t die. IFAW is encouraging people travelling abroad to spend their money wisely by buying alternative holiday mementos that benefit local people directly, such as handicrafts, instead of items that harm the wildlife people are coming to see.”

Betty Williams MP said: “I am proud to support IFAW’s campaign by pledging not to buy wildlife souvenirs when I visit other countries and urge others to do the same. While some souvenirs may appear harmless often they belie a bloody trade. Wild animals belong in the wild, not in our homes. I hope future generations will be lucky enough to experience the thrill of seeing wildlife in its natural habitat and not through history books.”

IFAW’s ‘Think Twice’ campaign is also being supported by the influential Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) with celebrities David Jason, Steve Leonard, Chris Tarrant, Twiggy and Shauna Lowry also signing the pledge not to buy wildlife souvenirs.

People wishing to sign IFAW’s pledge, and advice for people wishing to have a wildlife-friendly holiday in South Africa or in other parts of the world is available at



The question I am offering to be ‘discussed’ would be:

How to get energy that is secure and affordable, and without destroying the planet.

The importance of climate change is shown in greater focus with every month. This week alone we hear of threats to the Essex coast from the highest tide so far this century, the abandonment of some homes in Suffolk to coastal erosion and the enormously damaging thaw of Russia’s permafrost which is accelerating global warming by releasing massive amounts of methane.

Climate change is particularly important for the people of Essex who live in low lying areas.

We need to ask how we can balance energy policy to protect our environment and yet avoid insecurity of supply leading to lights out, and still provide affordable energy to vulnerable people on small fixed incomes.

For instance, should we have a new generation of nuclear power and which alternative forms of sustainable energy should we invest in. And how can we encourage the rest of the world to cut carbon emissions, with China and India sitting on so much available and relatively very cheap coal?

These are key questions that we must address.


I am offering to chair a discussion on these key issues and answer questions in each of our local secondary schools and college during the coming months. It is important to ensure our teenagers understand what is happening to their environment and to encourage them to take an interest in science.

I anticipate the discussion could take between 1 and 2 hours, would be on a Friday as I have to be in Westminster other days, and could be a large or small group of older pupils who could prepare statements and/or questions. I really am open to your suggestions on format, which could support students completing both the GCSE Citizenship and A-Level General Studies courses. Please could you consider this offer and if you are able to take it up and feel it might be worthwhile, let me have a contact person and details and I will telephone to arrange a mutually convenient programme, date and time.

Best wishes and thanks


Some interesting facts on Energy:

The lights went out in areas of Europe and the USA last winter. More than just a nuisance of course!

Each Chinese person ‘uses’ 2 barrels of oil (equivalent energy) each year, (USA 26 barrels, UK 12 barrels); there are approx 1.4 billion Chinese, 1.1 billion Indian people.

China and India have massive coal supplies which would release CO2 and swamp anything ‘we’ can do. Therefore, is carbon capture and storage, CCS, one of the answers? Of course, China’s demand patterns are quite different to ours.

There is more to energy than power; travel is also a key issue. USA 800 cars per 1000 people, EU 600 and China 15. But the Chinese and Indian people now have the aspiration to get a car at almost any cost! India is now developing a £1200 new car which will not be environmentally friendly.

The world has plenty of oil, more is discovered than extracted each year, but it is a finite resource and are there better uses than burning it! In any case, the world is not at the moment investing sufficient in oil extraction.

What about Calor and Canvey where the plan is to import 5% of the total UK energy needs as LNG. Is the dash for Gas dangerous? Does it expose the UK to insecure sources and possible lights out and uncontrolled prices?

We will be 70% reliant on imported gas very soon unless Government changes its policy.

I am pushing the Government to promote bio ethanol crops and conversion plants, particularly in the eastern region and this makes sense in countryside management, agricultural, environmental and financial terms. There is, of course, much more…

Perhaps these rough notes, and the Leader I wrote for the Science In Parliament journal, attached, could be given to the youngsters (our future scientists and citizens) to provoke responses?

Green Man to visit Bath

Don Foster and Bath Liberal Democrats are pleased to announce that Liberal Democrat Shadow Environment Secretary, Chris Huhne MP, will be visiting Bath on 28th September.

Whilst in Bath, Chris will raise awareness of local environmental issues and, as part of a national programme, launch the Liberal Democrats’ ‘Green Tax Switch’ campaign. Central to which is the pledge to cut income tax by introducing green taxes.

Environmental issues and the Green Tax Switch will be the key focus of the Lib Dem party conference in Brighton lat
er this month.

Chris will be touring Bath and North East Somerset, visiting a number of Environmental projects including the ECT Recycling plant in Keynsham and the Cleveland Baths in Bath. Chris will also be taking part in a question and answer session with local residents, environmental campaigners and green groups from B&NES.

Commenting, Don said:

“I’m really pleased to welcome the Lib Dem’s very own Green Man, Chris Huhne, to Bath and I’m looking forward to his visit.

“The Liberal Democrats are firmly committed to ensuring environmental considerations play a central part in all our policy decisions.”

Government must tackle climate change – Foster

Ahead of the annual Liberal Democrat Party Conference, Don Foster has written to the Prime Minister urging him to include a Bill on climate change in the Queens Speech.

Environmental issues and the green tax switch will be the key focus of next week’s conference.

Don has signed EDM 178 which calls for a Bill to be introduced to deal with climate change. This EDM has been supported by Friends of the Earth.

Commenting, Don said:

“Climate change is an issue which must be tackled sooner rather than later. I have written to Tony Blair asking for a Bill on climate change to be included in the Queens Speech as proof that the Government is taking this matter seriously.

“I have received numerous letters about climate change from Bath residents, including many who are members of Bath Friends of the Earth, and I am happy to support them in this matter.”

4×4 sales fall as green coalition tightens its grip

The tough stance taken by a green coalition including Emily Thornberry’s House of Commons Environment Committee and the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone has been recognised by Greenpeace as the number of 4X4s sold in Britain fell this year for the first time ever.

Sales of 4x4s have doubled in the last 10 years, with last year alone seeing an increase in sales of over 12%. However, figures for 2006 show a fall in the number of 4x4s sold, following aggressive green policies from Emily’s Environment Committee and the Mayor of London.

Greenpeace has drawn attention to the Environment Committee’s recent recommendation to raise road tax on the worst gas-guzzlers to £1,800, along with the Mayor of London’s threat of a £25 congestion charge on ‘Chelsea Tractors’. Greenpeace say these actions appear to have slowed the trend for polluting vehicles.

Emily said:

“I am determined to get 4x4s off Islington’s roads. I’ve been using every means possible to send 4×4 drivers the message that they’re ruining the environment and killing pedestrians. I am glad we’ve started to buck the trend, but I’ll keep up the pressure to make sure this continues”

Greenpeace campaigner Emily Armistead said:

“Tony Blair should enact proposals from backbench MPs to tax these polluting vehicles more heavily so they are driven off our roads completely”.

Figures from the Department for Transport show that the number of polluting cars in Britain is falling across the board, as drivers switch to public transport, bikes, or green-fuel cars. Sales of Hybrid Cars like the Toyota Prius more than doubled last year, whilst sales of 4x4s fell for the first time ever between 2005 and 2006.

How do we stop climate change?

Emily Thornberry is inviting her constituents to come and tell her their views on climate change. She will be asking constituents what they think individuals, the government and business can do to reduce the carbon dioxide emissions that cause climate change.

She will also be setting out what she has been doing, as a member of Parliament’s Environment Select Committee, to push for policies to reduce climate change. If not stopped, Climate Change will cause rising sea levels, droughts, heat-waves, flooding and violent storms.

Emily said:

“We have to work together to tackle climate change. I’d like to know what people think.”

Emily will be joined at the event by Cllr Catherine West, Leader of Islington Labour Group and Mary Taylor, Climate Campaigner for Friends of the Earth.

The event will be from 7pm on Thursday 21st September at the Italian Trade Union Centre, 124 Canonbury Road. Islington South & Finsbury constituents are welcome to attend.

Spink Calls for local Council to take action on Climate Change

Bob Spink says:

As a member of the Climate Change Group, I support this welcome initiative and urge Castle Point Council to sign up to it.

I suspect that Irene Willis, a consistent doughty campaigner on these issues, will be committing the emerging Canvey Council to back this.

Of all councils, Castle Point should be at the forfront in fighting climate change and I urge the council to give us their support immediately.

I know many good councillors already back this move.

Against the backdrop of Canvey’s history and geography, and the expected high tides this autumn, I hope the council leadership will give immediate personal support and put this on the next possible agenda for the council to formally sign up to it.

Click Here for Decleration

Click Here for Declaration Postcard

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