Update Direct Gov's This Is Abuse Campaign Is Back

ASA keep telling me that nothing in the ad is against regulations. I have asked them if they could tell me who to contact to to request the regulations be changed. ASA just repeat, in more words, that the ad is not against regulations.

I was, however, told I could find out more about the regulations at the CAP (Committee of Advertising Practice) website. Helpful, I guess, but not really what I was asking for.

According to the BCAP;

"Advertisements must not distress the audience without justifiable reason. Advertisements must not exploit the audience’s fears or superstitions."

ASA have said the message that DirectGov is trying to get across justifies the ad. Fine. Yes it does. Put a freaking warning on it!

*sigh*

The CAP website is more for the people who produce and use adverts, rather than the general public. That's what ASA are for, but apparently they don't think there's a problem. CAP do hold open consultations, but the only one currently scheduled is about gambling ads.

It doesn't look as if CAP have a regular email contact and the form doesn't appear to be useful either. I am no good on the phone. Phone's are weird. If anyone wants to directly call CAP to ask about changes (demand, whatever you're comfortable with) to the code though;

Tel: 020 7492 2200

I'll be writing to them;

Committee of Advertising Practice
Mid City Place
71 High Holborn
London
WC1V 6QT

Getting a warning on a rape scene should be not be this difficult!

DirectGov's This Abuse Campaign is Back

[UPDATE; added some extra links and the info about the sexist ASDA Christmas advert investigation]

[UPDATE 2; ASA are no use, contacting CAP]

For my initial post on this "don't be a rapist" ad campaign; Mild Trigger Warning

For the reply I got when I complained about the first round of this campaign; Useless And Missing The Point Warning

Thirty, Child Free, Still Happy

This is a little update on an old post Mother Earth Feminism And Female Oriented McGuffins: A Rant.

I was born thirty years ago last month (this post was supposed to go up on my birthday but, well, birthday stuff happened). Within a couple of years I was walking and talking and causing the general chaos that only a toddler can (apparently mostly just sleeping in strange places in the house while my mother wasn’t looking). Not too long after this I was getting pissy about adults who bought me dolls for my birthday and wondering why my female friends wanted to play with plastic babies and toy pushchairs.

I don’t want children. I never have, and I have spent the last twenty or so years explaining this to people. To friends whenever the “perfect future life” conversation has come up. To my doctor after he was confused by my complete indifference to the news I might not be able to carry to term after an illness. To a boss who had employed me because my best friend said I was a single teenage mother (I nearly killed said best friend). To people that I’ve worked with who have been curious about my life plans.

This little post is dedicated to that last group.

Hi there! Remember when you asked me about children and I said I didn’t want any? Remember how you said, with a knowing wink; “oh, you will when your biological clock starts ticking”? Remember that?

Bite me.

I’m 30 years old and there’s not an inkling of a tick-tock coming from my innards. Nothing. Maybe I’m broken. Maybe I’m a cylon. Maybe your ideas of how a woman is nothing more than a breeding machine that runs purely without any intervention from the hypothalamus are all just bullshit.

Do you remember the other line you’d occasionally trot out? How did that go? Oh yeah; “what if your future husband wants children?” Remember how you’d scoff at my reply? “No man I want to spend my life with will want children either.” Remember that? Why would you think I would even stay with someone with such radically different desires for our future? Why would I put myself through such a huge thing like pregnancy, birth and raising a child just to keep a partner? How about my partner accepts I don’t want to go through all that? Huh?

I am NOT a baby making machine. I can’t believe I still have to have this conversation with people.

Well, the man I have spent the last ten years and counting with doesn’t want kids. So again; bite me.

It’s about time people stopped telling me what I will and won’t be doing regarding my love life and my reproductive organs with patronising certainty. These are my things and I will decide what to do with them, using all of me, not just a couple of glands somewhere in my abdomen.

You said I would want my own kids by now. I don’t. It’s not even simply that I’ve done the maths and decided not to have children. I never made that decision because there was no decision to make. It’s never been “I would like children but my circumstances don’t fit that plan”. I simply have no desire to have and raise a child.

So where does that leave your “biological clock” idea, huh? Is it still coming? Is mine just running slow? Or are you, in fact, not able to predict the future?

Amazon; A New Fangled Company With Old Fashioned Marketing

[Update at end]

I don't shop on Amazon much (tax dodging assholes and all that), so what I read on The Kraken Wakes today was mildly shocking
Yep, you read it right, categories of gift ideas for him and for her. So far, so blah. So I only became deranged with fucksteria when I saw that the suggestions ‘for him’ included business books, comics and graphic novels, health and lifestyle, political biogs, science fictions books and sports calendars while the suggestions ‘for her’ included (steady yourself) animal calendars, contemporary fiction, craft books, baking books, celebrity biogs and, yes, romance books.**
I wasn't as shocked as The Kraken; I've sat through ad breaks, I've wept at the Boots "here come the girls" ads. I was pissed off enough to throw an email at Amazon though (for funsies). This is slightly harder than you'd expect. There is no "contact us" at the bottom of every page like any other self respecting website. Noooo, I had to hunt it down in the Help section.

While concocting my email (which included an apology to the unwitting employee that will have received an email from an angry feminist) I thought I had better poke around in those lists to see what the offerings were. This was the surprising bit; the contents of the lists were NOT what you would consider to be stereotypically "for him" or "for her".

At the very top of the "Health and Lifestyle" section of "For Him" is The Hairy Dieters. So okay, these guys and this book especially, are pretty neutral ground, but a little further down is The DIY Wedding Manual and Skinny Meals in Heels; not books that exactly bellow "butch" at you, are they? The Twilight graphic novel (and no I am NOT linking to it, thank you very much) appears on the "Comics and Graphic Novels" list and Wherever You Are: The Military Wives is in "Political Biographies".

The "For Her" section? Not quite as neutral, maybe but close. There are thrillers from the likes of John Grisham and Jo Nesbo and Clive Cussler in the "Contemporary Fiction" (as well as To Kill A Mockingbird... not sure how contemporary that is but; whatever). Arnold Schwarzenegger, Neil Young and Pete Townshend appear in the "Celebrity Biographies". Not very girlie reads, are they? Read and loved by women, for sure but not traditionally thought of as "feminine"?

If the contents of the lists bare little resemblance to an outmoded idea of gender and hobbies why then did Amazon deem it necessary to stick them into His and Hers categories? The whole concept is just ridiculous. These sorts of things are aimed at people buying for a niece three times removed or an uncle they see once a year. Don't know what to get that not-so-loved loved one? Here, let us help by giving you some ideas based on preconceptions about the mindset of someone that derived purely from the configuration of their reproductive organs! And just to confuse matters, we're NOT going to do that at all except on the initial landing page. Have fun!

My email was essentially; Amazon, you don't make sense and you have some old fashioned ideas about gender roles. Why?


My theory is that the marketing team came up with the Him and Her idea and, having overworked themselves on that masterpiece, couldn't be bothered to actually form any lists so just added links to Amazon's pre-existing categories that have nothing to do with gender at all.

I wonder what Amazon will say... The reply will probably be a standard form but I am hoping it'll land on someone with some initiative... and a sense of humour >_>

**"fucksteria" is absolutely my word of the week

[UPDATE]

After a whole host of hassle from people with actual influence and audiences, Amazon have altered their category suggestions on their For Him and For Her lists. It's not perfect (and I never did get a sufficient answer to my questions), but it's a small victory.


I'd like to see this stupid idea completely removed altogether. For now I think I will just have to hope that it won't be implemented next Christmas.

Millionaire's Shortbread; An Unsuccessful Etymological Quest

When my mother worked at a bakery in a little town in England I had two favourite treats; gooey chocolate éclairs and just as gooey caramel shortbread. Eventually I became a vegan and stopped eating these tasty, calorie heavy treats and so sort of stopped paying attention to them.

Skip forward a couple of decades and I'm working in a cafe in Edinburgh, selling some bizarre confection called millionaire's shortbread. It's apparently everywhere in Scotland, this shortbread that is only for the very wealthy. Except it's just plain old caramel shortbread with a weird name.

A weird name that NO ONE KNOWS HOW IT GOT!

Seriously; no one. Not even the internet. Trust me, I have spent hours trawling the internet trying to find out why and when caramel shortbread became known as millionaire's shortbread in Scotland (and now America; this was not helpful). The answer has not been digitalised. Oh sure, there are plenty of "its ingredients are very rich", "the ingredients were once very expensive" or as Miss_Elphie put it "Cause [sic] it has a million calories?".

This was all I got from Twitter, with one person suggesting that it was Blue Peter's fault when they showed how to make it in 1991 and called it millionaire's shortbread. These all sound like reasonable answers, but they have no basis in actual knowledge. They're complete guesses. Most rich, expensive foods do not have names that tell you how wealthy the prospective muncher will have to be to buy one, unless the person is very poor or considered (at one time) to be of low social status. It's the poor folk that come up with new recipes and ingenious ways to make something tasty and mildly nutritious from next to nothing, but the wealthy recipe book writers that name the results. It's always "poor man's" something or "gypsy" stuff; caviare and cheese respectively.

Add to that the fact that plain old normal shortbread was originally a luxury item due to the EPIC butter and sugar content and "millionaire" doesn't sit right as a colloquial name for a confectionery that has been picked up by all and sundry. It sounds like it was given that name by an individual and then got picked up... by all and sundry.

If this is the case though; who and when? I had to go looking.**

Shortbread is pretty much roundly believed to have originated in Scotland, though the exact dating is difficult, ranging from the 12th century to the 16th. The date that caramel shortbread and subsequently the name "millionaire's shortbread" turned up is a complete unknown (at least to the internet). However, tracing some of the ingredients COULD give an answer, I thought.

First stop; the 'caramel'. It's not really caramel. Caramel is just sugar and water. The gooey caramel filling in caramel shortbread requires condensed milk, in all the recipes that I have found anyway.

Milk was first condensed in France in 1820, but it was not until the 1850s that it became a household product, at least in America. World War II brought condensed milk (and evaporated milk) to the larder of the British people because, unlike fresh milk, it did not need to be refrigerated (more epic sugar content; caramel shortbread is death to calorie counters).

Necessity is the mother of invention, and there was plenty of necessity in World War II cooking in Britain due to rationing. Ingenuity abounded and resulted in some interesting recipes. Potato pastry anyone? Carrots, carrots, carrots!

It seems sensible to me that someone, somewhere, decided to use condensed milk to make caramel during World War II and slapped it on some shortbread (or a shortbread substitute). There are older ways of making a soft, dairy based, spreadable caramel that originated in Europe; dulce de leche (sweet milk) and confiture de lait (milk jam). However, they don't appear to have reached the UK (probably too much effort for the Brits to bother with) by the time condensed milk caramel was being used (I could easily be wrong).

So, I was pretty much left looking at World War II as the originator of caramel shortbread and someone after that for coining "millionaire's shortbread", someone specifically in Scotland.

It still seemed like a pretty odd name though. "Millionaire" just didn't feel like it fit. As I mulled this over inspiration (or a curse) hit me; what if it has nothing to do with the wealth of the eater? What if it's a bastardisation of another word? Milliner?

Having looked into milliner traditions and odd stories I can safely say that millionaire's shortbread has nothing to do with hats (although an old tradition in Scotland is to break ordinary shortbread over the head of a new bride before she enters her home... no, I don't know why either). It could be either a Scots word, many of which are derived from the Scandinavian languages, thanks to the Vikings, or a French word due to France and Scotland's interesting Auld Alliance (says the English woman) which resulted in French influences on Scottish cuisine.

This French thing could lead somewhere! After all, some dairy based caramel recipes originated in France. There are also other terms used in Scotland that are terrible corruptions of French; Gardy loo (gardez-l'eau) for example, a term people would yell before chucking the contents of their chamber pots out of window's in Edinburgh.

French then... Problem; I don't read French. Oh I can make out a little. I studied both French and Latin for a year (aeons ago) and English has been influenced by the Romance languages. I don't read it well enough to research articles in French though.

Cue some heavy (and hilarious) use of Google translate!

I discovered that there is a type of French biscuit that is very similar to shortbread called sable. The French wiki states this is because they were first produced in Sablé-sur-Sarthe. The English wiki seems a little confused and brings in the idea that the French for "sand" is sable, as the biscuits have a sandy texture. I did not have the wherewithal to look this up elsewhere so I just trusted the French wiki.

Sable-sur-Sarthe is in Normandy, which is where Confiture de lait is from! Well, as legend would have it.

Now I was getting somewhere... maybe.

There are recipes aplenty in French that involve sticking milk jam (I think I prefer the untranslated term, but I'm too lazy to keep typing it out) on sable biscuits. My quest was now to find out if there was a link to the term "millionaire's" and again inspiration hit me; the French word for "honey" is "miel". Perhaps there was a link there somewhere? Honey, after all, is a good substitute for cane or beet sugar and I discovered that the French word for sweeten is  "mieller" means "sweeten" (according to the French wiktionary).

Who the Hell thinks shortbread needs to the be more sweet?! Well, maybe the French. They do love their calories; just ask Raymond Blanc for his opinion on skimmed milk. Right there with you, man, right there with you.

That is pretty much where I got stuck. Without any old texts to look at this is all just conjecture. There is NOTHING online to help me out here, at least not in a language I can properly research in. The answer, or more clues might be out there, somewhere on the internet in French and I just can't read them.

That and I think I'm going screen blind.

So, here we are; with some assumptions, a hankering for biscuits and SO. MANY. WEBSITES! I can do no more online and none of my own books are being very helpful

Can you help me out? Have some Scottish recipe books (ye olde spelling may provide etymological clues)? Some old French ones? Do you know of any references to milk jam on shortbread that aren't just modern recipes? I can find nothing on French recipe websites that is similar enough to caramel shortbread that would cause the Scottish to pick up the French nomenclature. Are there any area specific recipes for biscuits, milk jam and chocolate (from Miélan, Miellin...)? Has my winding tale of discovery set any little grey cells twitching with inspiration?

I'll be continuing this search offline, hunting down recipe books. I might even have to visit a dead tree brothel (library) but I WILL keep on looking.

Although if one of you know the answer for sure, and it's NOTHING to do with any of the above I may just Hulk out and smash things, even if this has been an interesting journey of discovery on a cold Sunday afternoon.

And I'm totally including this in my NaNoWriMo word count.

PS

It's not really relevant (pretty sure the naming has nothing to do with tax), but this article amused me.

Millionaire’s Shortbread is zero-rated while plebian chocolate-covered shortbread is taxed at the full rate. I don’t think I need to explain why that one is funny.

Remembrance Sunday, Sweet and Right

Bored Nihilist posted this poem on Twitter a few minutes before the silence. I read it while listening to Barber's Adagio for Strings and very nearly broke down.

It's a reminder that war is not glorious, that Remembrance Sunday and all other war related remembrance days and silences are for remembering the fallen, those who managed to stay with us and are now struggling with what they went through and to hope that we can put an end to all armed conflict, so that no one, from our own country or any other, will have to suffer to protect their people again.
Remembrance Sunday is NOT about the glories and victories of past wars or any nationalistic flag waving.
While we think about the men and women who have lost their lives, far from home, also think about those that were fighting them. They were not evil, they were soldiers, just like those from your own country, sent to kill other soldiers by politicians and leaders who will never face the horrors of war themselves. Our political leaders are not thinking about the fallen on Remembrance Sunday, they are thinking about the next invasion; the next glorious victory and the profits they can make from it.
Read this poem and consider holding your tongue the next time you want to send armed forces into danger just because some politician claims a little country or group, thousands of miles away, poses a threat to your nation. Is it worth the cost?
Dulce et Decorum est, Wilfred Owen
http://en.m.wikisource.org/wiki/Dulce_et_Decorum_est_%28Stallworthy_edition%29

Edinburgh Photo Hunt

Last Saturday I ran a little photo hunt for my friends around Edinburgh's city centre. It went really well and everyone had a lot of fun so I figured I'd post it here for others to find and use. Some things had changed since I'd written the clues (had to organise it a couple of months ahead of time to make sure everyone got time off work) so I expect that if anyone does use this in the future they'll have to make sure everything is still the same. Mostly it was pub signs that had changed, but one item is on the castle's esplanade and the Tattoo got in the way, another was almost under water due to the Gardens flooding.

If you want to use this just email me ~ shardaerliss (at) googlemail (dot) com ~ and I'll send you the answers, that way no one will be able to just google the questions and find this page >_>

Everything on here is researchable via Wiki and Google. Even people who have never been to the city should be able to play if they have a smart phone.

Virtually Overworked

I checked my bank statement on my phone before getting ready for work. My balance was running pretty low and rent was due a few days before payday. I checked PayPal, hoping there might be something sitting in my account that I might have forgotten about from AdSense or Amazon Self-Pub.

No such luck.

Back in the day, I thought idly, as I fumbled around amongst the billion and one different wires for the correct jack for work (use the wrong jack and I wouldn’t get paid), someone like me might have pawned off a couple of games or films to make up the shortfall. This led me onto some other trains of thought about “the good ol’ days”, like how we had joked about being able to send hugs and cookies over the internet. The chocolate kind mind you, not the web tracking and censorship ones; we’d done our damndest to keep those off the net.

Final Fantasy VII, Life Ever After; Chapter 6 Broken

In case you've hit this page from some random link out there on the internet: Chapter 1

Again, no pictures.

********************

Tomb Raider: Crossroads - Sexual Assault Is Not Empowering!

[EDIT]

I suffer from poor geek syndrome and cannot justify spending more money on a single game at release than I do on food in a month, so I have yet to play TR. However, the pro bloggers over at The Mary Sue have got it covered; Lara Croft Is Dead, Long Live Lara Croft: Reflections On Tomb Raider. Turns out it's the old "trailer's selling an entirely different product because PR don't think the actual one will sell" problem... which is another rant altogether.

[/EDIT]

I am so fed up with people claiming that the little shit storm that has been kicked up over TR:C is a) over-reacting, b) based purely on the words of one "obviously misinformed" man and c) not actually what appears in the trailer.

a) that's a whole other post involving rape statistics, gaming statistics, explanations about rape culture and explorations of what the brain and body does when you're gaming compared to reading, writing and just watching entertainment. Essentially it boils down to; I don't want my PC violently sexually assaulted while I watch just so she can become badass o.O

Even I'm not that much of a sado-masochist, geez.

b) yeah keep reading.

c) Ooooh yeah it is. Allow me to present; Aer's Trailer Critique!

There follows some brief description of sexual violence.

CBS's Sherlock Remake; Trailer

Johnny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu are two actors I quite like and, really, it's hard to go wrong with Sherlock Holmes. I was holding back judgement on this until the final product. I WANT more fun things done with Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, Irene Adler, James Moriarty and their world. I am a lover of fanfiction after all.

I wanted this to be good but the first trailer has arrived and I am the opposite of optimistic. Take a gander...

Alcohol + Guitarist + Tone Deaf Jester

That title; yeah, consider yourself warned.


Final Fantasy VII; Life Ever After Chapter 5, Betrayal


I have no images for this one. It kinda started taking on a life of it's own...

This isn't a slash fic. It looks like it might turn that way at times, but honestly, I just write them as good friends.

Under Representation in Media

Let me set this out right from the beginning; I am not talking about the under representation in mass media of non-Caucasian people, of women, bisexual or transgendered people or people with disabilities. These and others are large groups of people who have been ignored, marginalised and vilified by society as a whole in one way or another and one of the ways to kick society's ass into recognising them as people and to get their needs and wants recognised is to push their existence into mass media.

*breathes*

Okay, disclaimer out of the way.

There's a new show out there called Girls. As far as I can tell from the widely varying reviews, it is a comedy about a group of twenty-something women living in New York City. It's "real" and "relateable" and "relevant to young [white] women."

Okay, that's cool and everything. Some people like to watch shows about people going through the same crap they are (for whatever reason; there's a whole other blog post there). I have to ask though; why is this such an important thing in TV scheduling? Why do so many people appear to want so much fictional entertainment about people who are just like them, going through the same things they go through?

Apparently, the likes of The O.C. and Eastenders are designed to reflect the lives of the people they are aimed at; people in the same situations, making the same choices. Personally I watched The O.C. for the pretty actors and overly melodramatic storylines, but I'm probably not its target audience.

For me, the vast majority of fictional entertainment is about escapism (with satirical mocking of people in power and education/thought provoking bringing up the rear). It's why I play computer games. I want to lose myself in another world, in different lives.

It's why I couldn't stand The Royale Family; it was about people like the people that I know, doing the things that people I know do. I, er, live that life. I don't need to watch it on television. It wasn't like, say, Dinner Ladies (I have worked that job, I have known those people) where the appeal came not from the characters or familiar situations but the clever and fast dialogue and the outrageous ways in which hose initially familiar situations played out (as with other "every day" comedy greats like Fawlty Towers and Brittas Empire).

I didn't watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer for its "slice of life" sequences, but the vampires, demons and magic. The "slice of life" was an integral part of the whole (because combining genres makes tasty TV), but remove the supernatural from it, and it really would have just been another teen drama. Excellently written and acted, but still another teen drama. The supernatural was the spice to the "slice if life". It lifted the show out of the humdrum normal-ness that is every day teenage existence for its intended audience.

Coming at this "problem" from a slightly different angle is the complaint that "none of the characters are relateable." I can count on one hand the number of characters I have ever related to in any significant way, and most of them don't share either my race, gender, sexuality or religious persuasion (some of them weren't even human!) so they were not (as I'm told) wholly relateable.

This has never, ever stopped me enjoying a show or film to the point of NEEDING to watch it, and the inclusion of such characters has never heightened my enjoyment of a piece of entertainment to levels far and beyond that of others. It's fine if characters like me are included, it's not important if they're not.

I once had a discussion with someone about the need, or not, of the very human character of John Crichton in Farscape. In a "fish out of water" situation, as Farscape is, usually the fish or those around the fish represent Us, the prevailing society for which the piece was made for. We are either supposed to relate to the fish and its fears and strengths or we are supposed to see The Other in the fish and be taught about its fears and strengths. Either way we come out of the viewing having explored Us and our relation to The Other in various capacities.

The question was; do we actually NEED John Crichton in Farscape to explore The Other and, via metaphor (as scifi does so well), Us? At the time I argued that society was incapable of watching a show without a character whose eyes it could view a strange world through. Society at large could not take the leap forward and put Us into the shoes of Them; The Other always has to be viewed from the outside. However, I had no idea why; it was merely an observation. I don't think that Farscape would have been poorer if John had been replaced by another prisoner on Moya with similar character traits to his own but a wholly alien background. It would have been a different show, that's certain, but not poorer.

Actually I sort of found the "here's a brilliant human helping the poor dumb aliens" schtick a little annoying, but not enough to wipe out the great love I have for Farscape.

I still don't know why we need characters with which to wholly relate to, to see ourselves in. Are we that ego-centric that we cannot love, suffer and rejoice with those who are very different to us? Can we not relate to The Other without being taken by the hand by a representation of Us? Surely there will always be something within each character that we can agree with, a conviction or personality trait that we share?

Maybe I've spent so long having no-one to relate to on screen and paper that I'm numb to the pain of unrelatable characters? Maybe I should be fighting for more characters like me (an entire cast of Me? Hah!). But then I don't even write characters that are like me. My female leads have flaws and strengths I don't possess. They have beliefs and personal codes of ethics that I don't share. Not even my deepest, most ego stroking Mary Sues that I put into works that will NEVER see the light of day are like me... most of them have way more flaws and issues (I am nothing if not a Schadenfreude worshipping sadomasochist).

And that's where my feelings towards characters that are just like me lie; within the indulgence of the Mary Sue. A character like me gives me a warm fuzzy in the same way eating a whole box of chocolates does. I don't need it, although I enjoy it when it's there and it's nice now and then it does make me sick after a while, and too much of it will put me off for a long time.

So, I've said my piece, now give me yours; why would you like to see more characters like you in your fictional entertainment? Why is "relateability" important to you?

The Problem With The Directgov "This Is Abuse" Campaign Update

First; VAWG Campaigns haven't responded to my email and it's been nearly two weeks. They seem to be a bust.

I received a letter from the Advertising Standards Authority this morning, and it began quite promisingly. They explained they could intervene if an advertisement was likely to "pose a realistic risk of harm". I'd say that PTSD flashbacks are pretty harmful and it DOES cause these. They had received "a number of complaints" and ASA referred the complaints to the ASA Council for assessment.

[UPDATE]

The campaign is back. Hit ASA with complaints again. It took only 160 odd complaints for them to investigate the sexist ASDA Christmas ads. We can get them to do the same for This Is Abuse, and do it properly (see below response) or at least get them to change their guidelines so that adverts have the same ones as TV programmes and movies.

[UPDATE 2; ASA are no good, contact CAP]

If You Have Nothing To Hide... Part 2

Britain is slowly sinking into a fascist, police state. In a few months the government will be forcing ISPs to allow law enforcement access to everything we do online in real time.

A new law - which may be announced in the Queen's Speech in May - would not allow GCHQ to access the content of emails, calls or messages without a warrant.
But it would enable intelligence officers to identify who an individual or group is in contact with, how often and for how long. They would also be able to see which websites someone had visited.

Oh, well, that's okay, people are saying. Remember, if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear. So what about Paul Chambers who was arrested and convicted for simply tweeting a joke? Or the couple taken into custody on arrival in America after tweeting "Free this week, for quick gossip/prep before I go and destroy America"?

The Problem With The Directgov "This Is Abuse" Campaign

I have tried to avoid anything too trigger-y in what I've written, but I'm putting a trigger warning here any way, just in case.

For anyone who just wants the contact details for the groups involved in the ad campaign;

 The Directgov form for sending complaints to them.

The email to contact the Violence Against Women and Girls Campaigns group directly;  VAWGcampaigns@homeoffice.gsi.gov.uk

I'm awaiting a reply from the above email before I hit OfCom/The Advertising Standards Agency, but if anyone would like to go to them too; ASA's online contact form

[UPDATE 1]

Response from ASA

[UPDATE 2]

[UPDATE 3; ASA are no help, contact CAP]

This campaign is back and on our screens, unchanged until the end of January. Please, everyone, hit them again. It took only 160 odd complaints for them to start an investigation into ASDA's sexist Christmas ad. We can get them to do something about This Is Abuse.

Final Fantasy VII; Life Ever After Chapter 4 , Friendship


Wyna's works that inspired this chapter: First Watch... which I can't find now.

Final Fantasy VII; Life Ever After Chapter 3, Fear


Inspirations: Scientist at Play

Eugh... Cid's accent is a pain of epic proportions! And does anyone know if the Sierra actually has an open deck? Neh...

I'd link chapter 2 and 3, but you should be able to find them through the labels easily enough... *lazy*

Mother Earth Feminism And Female Oriented McGuffins; A Rant

Hi there. In case you've randomly come across this blog let me introduce myself. I call myself Shard Aerliss. As far as I'm aware I am of the XX chromosomal persuasion. I might be a chimera, I don't know, but on the surface of it, most people would, if pressed, describe me as a female member of hom sap.

According to some traditionalists this means I should want babies, wear a lot of pink, be useless with maths and spacial awareness, fail at DIY and like soap operas.

Final Fantasy VII, Life Ever After; Chapter 2 Loathing

Inspirations for this chapter: Playing Games and this one by Wyna Hiros (she seems to have removed them from her gallery, or I found them somewhere else) and Roulette If anyone knows who the artist is, let me know. Please.

Oh, and I know that the gun in that pic isn't the Death Penalty... and I know it's difficult to do what Vincent intends with it but the name is perfect so... poetic license? *angelic grin*

Vincent's having morbid thoughts (when isn't he?) and really just wants to be left alone. Hah! Like Highwind will ever let that happen!


Character Concept; Ichamus

This is the first one I actually wrote. I had a vision (not a "whoa hallucinating the Virgin Mary" vision, just my imagination running away with itself) while I was at work one day, of this guy, so I wrote him down. Again; because I never kept up with my drawing practice.


Final Fantasy VII, Life Ever After; Chapter 1 Falling


This is another fic I'm moving over from DevArt... mmmm, old fiction *cringes* Keeps the monthly post count up when I'm doing too much overtime (read; being lazy) though :P

The germ of this epic adventure began with a few pictures by the wonderful Wyna Hiros, and most of the chapters will have been partly inspired by one or two of her pics (and the odd one from another artist that I can no longer find).

This story is set in the years after the Meteor incident, the end of the game and just sort of fills in a bunch of gaps, with lashings of angst. It's as close to canon as I can make it; FFVII is very subtle, it allows everyone to interpret it differently, making canon difficult!

Inspirations for this chapter: One Last Bullet

Oh, yeah; some parts in later chapters may seem like they're leading to some yaoi slashing. They don't. It's all good clean bromance.

Brief Musings on the Multiverse

The Multiverse is a double edged sword... wait, you know what it is, right? The theory that every possibility can and does exist, each in its own separate but interlinked universe. That our universe is only one of infinite parallel universes and all these held together are the Multiverse. I'll let Wiki explain it in detail.

Okay, where was I? Yes, the Multiverse is a double edged sword. A while ago I tweeted;




Judge Not...

Yeah, I epic fail at that. I am, I believe a strong willed person. I'm not very good at looking on people with weaker wills favourably.

Paradoxically, I don't think anyone is undeserving of a sympathetic, though not indulgent, helping hand. After all, we are but products of that which came before us. We didn't choose the life we were born to, nor did we choose our genetics. Everyone who has ever been involved in our life has helped to form our personality, our strengths and our weaknesses.

Why then should we continue to fail those in our society that have already been failed by it? The homeless don't choose to live on the streets. Drug addicts don't want to die with a needle in their arm. Girls using their bodies to earn money or to gain self esteem don't want to work the streets or subject themselves to society's lusty gaze.

They might not have your strength, or your peaceful, easy life, but that does not mean they deserve your scorn. They deserve a chance and to be shown how to find the strength to overcome everything that has made them the way they are.

People who drink decaff espresso though, they deserve my undiluted wrath.

I Am Pedant, Hear Me Scrawl

I don't know if this is a recent trend or if I have only just bothered to take note of it, but an awful lot of people seem to be annoyed by the use of "literally". Apparently, everyone is using it wrongly. Hmmmm.

If You Have Nothing To Hide You Have Nothing To Fear

I really need to hunt down the first person who used that and murder them... or desecrate their grave. Yeah, tell that to the victims of persecution throughout time. Early Christians, Protestants, Catholics, anyone that the Witchfinder General didn't like, Jews, Muslims, women, and that's just the tip of the religious stuff in Europe, never mind ethnic cleansing, homophobia and misogyny, class/caste systems...

I'm not talking crimes committed by a hateful minority here like the KKK or EDL. No, all crimes and abuses listed above (for starters) have been carried out by governments against the people they govern (or would like to govern but find it easier to demonise, repress, torture and murder).

Oh but this is different, we live in more civilised times. Lolz! No body of power (law making, religious, commercial) is incorruptible. Every body of power is only a few steps from abusing its authority outright. Once it's big enough to feel it can go unchallenged it will stop serving and start using.

Google just got that big.