Thursday, January 26, 2006

don't be evil

Guardian: Backlash as Google shores up great firewall of China
Guardian Technology: Engine Trouble (Should we fear Google?)
Google's new restricted Chinese service is a very worrying development. Google's motto is "Don't be evil" - it seems that that has changed. The whole situation has a distinctly Orwellian feel to it. (Four legs good, two legs better, that sort of thing.) What will happen to all the Chinese bloggers and other dissidents? What about the bloggers in Iran who disagree with that government? What about all the privacy issues that arise from Google cookies and retention of search results?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

holy beetroot

I've read Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins (an excellent book) but even so, I had no idea that beetroot was so sacred.

Legends of the Beetroot
- by Chas Saunders and Peter Ramsey at

hit and myth

10 Myths that Wiccans should know
This list represents a minimum compendium of myths and legends that Wiccans should know, in my opinion. They should also be well-versed in the myths of whichever particular pantheon(s) and deities they feel drawn to.

They should also know the myths of their own folk heroes (e.g. Tam Lin and Thomas the Rhymer in Scotland, Owain Glyndwr in Wales, El Cid in Spain, Jeanne d'Arc in France, Tannhäuser and Herman in Germany, Ctirad and Šarka for Czechs, High John the Conqueror for African Americans, etc etc.) I have included Robin Hood and King Arthur in the main list because ideas relating to them have fed into Wiccan ideas and philosophy.

Edit: after discussion with friends, I feel bound to point out that when I say should, I mean "you owe it to yourself if you want to be a quality witch". Knowing about the things on the list above will help when writing and participating in rituals, as then you will get more out of them.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

soda bread

Recipe for soda bread

1 lb wholemeal flour
1/4 pint warm water
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 pint plain live yoghurt
Pinch of salt

Sift the flour and salt into a big mixing bowl.
Add the yoghurt (do not stir yet).
In a mug, stir the bicarbonate of soda into the warm water, then pour onto the yoghurt.

Mix it all together. If there is surplus flour lurking at the bottom of the bowl, add some milk (cow or goat) to make it easier to mix in.

Line a baking sheet with foil and flop the mixture onto it in two blobs.

Bake for 50 minutes at 180 degrees C.

Tasty extras:
  • chopped sundried tomatoes & dried basil
  • pumpkin seeds
  • caraway seeds
  • oatmeal
  • poppy seeds & sesame seeds
    (for some reason sunflower seeds go a weird green colour)
Really yummy with proper butter and goat's cheese.

Friday, January 20, 2006

extraordinary deceptions

Sir Menzies Campbell has written to the Prime Minister about the practice of extraordinary rendition.
Sir Menzies Campbell MP, Liberal Democrat Acting Leader, has today written to the Prime Minister calling on him to make a statement to the House of Commons clarifying what the Government knew about the CIA's extraordinary rendition operations.

Sir Menzies' letter follows reports of a leaked memo from the Foreign Office which advises the Prime Minister to 'avoid being drawn on the detail' on the issue, and reveals UK suspicions of US involvement in cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
It now appears that it was not true that the UK had not received any requests for terrorist suspects to be transferred to other countries via Britain - in fact they had, and it is quite likely that they were being transferred to locations where they could be subjected to cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. Not legally defined as torture, perhaps, but stuff that would certainly count as torture in most people's view.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

lefties unite!

The Anything Left-Handed shop/website has received a critical email from a left-hander, saying that they are ripping off the gullible and making out that left-handers are disabled, according to their recent newsletter.

My friend who is left-handed frequently gets called "disabled" by her right-handed husband and was able to use the Anything Left-Handed website as evidence that she is NOT disabled.

I have found their products useful - it is only a shame that because the manufacturers do not make them in the same quantities as right-handed products, they are more expensive due to economies of scale, but this is NOT the retailers' fault.

I have a degree in psychology and I feel that everything on the Anything Left-Handed website is positive about left-handedness.

I also feel that in reality about 80% of the population is ambidextrous but because they are taught to be right-handed, that is the hand they use. 10% of the population is left-handed and probably only 10% is genuinely right-handed.

There are a number of "mainstream" products that are biased towards right-handers, e.g. computer keyboards, printers, cameras, potato peelers, bread knives (I always got accused of cutting wonky slices until I bought a left-handed bread knife from Anything Left-Handed), and so on and so on. Right-handed scissors are painful to use because of the way the handles are moulded.

People often comment on watching left-handers do something "Oh, that looks really cack-handed / gawky / awkward" (etc etc)

Many many thanks to Anything Left-Handed for the great work they do and the positive impact that Left-Handers' Day and the Left-Handers' Club has. Let's hope they keep up the good work and don't let this sort of thing discourage them.

I agree with Anything Left-Handed's response to the diatribe they received and would also have given her some links to the following websites, especially the one about chairs in the USA.

Left-hander - lots of excellent info for lefties:

Famous left-handers:

Handedness and Brain Lateralisation Research:

Left Handers in Society:
(Lots of info in this section about biased product design, including military weapons!)

The School Desk Plague:
(also the university desk plague...)

In short, I think I'd have said, "Wake up and smell the coffee"!

Friday, January 13, 2006


BBC News: The girl who named a planet

This article conclusively shows that girl who came up with the name Pluto for the planet did not in fact name it after the Disney dog, she named it after the Roman god of the underworld. The dog was subsequently named after the planet. Well that's another urban myth scotched then. Doggone.

yet more exercise

Apologies to any readers who are getting bored of gym-related posts, and congratulations to Joe for the most humourous comments on previous ones.
  • 2.05km on the cross-trainer in 15 minutes at level 6 (burnt 215 calories). 1km in 7 minutes (a personal record).
  • 4.8km on the bike at level 6 (burnt 85 calories).
  • 1km on the rowing machine at level 4 (burnt 50 calories)

Wednesday, January 11, 2006


Went to the gym again today. Did 1.5 km on the cross-trainer (150 calories) at level 5, then 6 km on the bike at level 6 (started at level 7 but had to decrease it after about 5 minutes), which burnt 100 calories, and 1.5 km on the rowing machine at level 5 (75 calories). I improved on the time it took me to do 1km on the cross-trainer - previously 7.5 minutes, now 7 minutes. Not bad considering that I haven't been to the gym since before Christmas. We planned to do more walking over Christmas but it didn't come to much.

Saturday, January 07, 2006


BBC News: Druids become gay civil partners

How lovely. I am so chuffed that gay people can get married. And it's nice to see some Pagans in the news for something other than defending Samhain! Aww they look so happy in the photos too.

Friday, January 06, 2006

save the badgers

On 15th December 2005 the British Government announced a twelve-week 'Public Consultation period' to consider whether and how to kill all
badgers. They believe that this is the only way to eradicate TB in cattle.

They are absolutely wrong.

Killing badgers does not decrease TB amongst cattle. In fact there is scientific evidence which shows the exact opposite. Far from lowering the incidence of bovine TB, badger culls in the past have even been shown to increase it.

Leading organisations including the RSPCA and Wildlife Trusts have already voiced their opposition, but only a massive public response can prevent the killing.

Just a few moments of your time can make a difference. Please visit for more information, and to make your voice heard by emailing or writing to DEFRA.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Sunday, January 01, 2006

happy new year

We had a great party last night, complete with first-footing. Had interesting chats with everyone, including an analysis of the nature of revolutions, and a comparison of Wicca and Feri traditions. We all went outside at midnight and there were loads of fireworks. The really surreal thing was that there was an air-raid siren going off - a very eerie sound. Then our first-footer, the lovely Balador, bearing coal, money, bread and holly, stepped into the house. The coal is to bring warmth throughout the year, the bread to ensure that the household will not go hungry, the holly for luck, and the money to make sure we are never completely skint. (We keep them in a box near the front door.) After a while the air-raid siren changed to the all-clear. Someone around here has a bit of a warped sense of humour.

Woke up with a bit of a hangover, but not too bad. Robert and Sarah stayed over. Scrambled eggs for breakfast, then off to the site of the temple of Apollo Cunomaglos at Nettleton Scrub, then walked to Lugbury burial mound, which was lovely. Then went into Castle Combe (archetypal Cotswold village) which was heaving. By this time we were all starving, so we went to the Salutation Inn just up the road (on the Fosse Way) and had a really good lunch of ham and eggs and sautéed potatoes - highly recommended. Then Robert and Sarah headed back to Wales and we headed home. We saw a barn-owl at dusk, cruising low over the fields - beautiful. The sunset was spectacular too - a long golden streak over the Welsh hills in the distance, and the clouds all flushed with pink.

Here's the poem I wrote about Lugbury when we got back.

And here's a picture of an altar to Apollo Cunomaglos discovered at Nettleton Scrub.

mumming photos

Here's some pictures of what we got up to on Christmas Eve - terrorising the villagers of Lacock in Wiltshire by dressing up in strange costumes and performing folk theatre at them. It was lots of fun!

Ragged Heroes Mummers at Lacock - photos by Sarah

Ragged Heroes Mummers at Lacock - photos by Yvonne & F.G.